Covid’s Metamorphoses. 3 shamanic journeys by Karen Effie


It’s raining.
Of course it’s raining.
Ice rain, the first rain, it’s salt in this rain.
In a thousand years, the First Cow will lick humans out of it.

I’m that far back.

Up here, these branches won’t hold me.
I climb anyway.
The branches are thin and painful as the rain.
Little ones, the seed-cone beings, dart and hover.
They are round and brown and they burst into sudden spike-flowers as I pass.

I dislike them.
They can’t talk to me.

At the top the branches are whips in the sleet.
I hang on, and mix together a tiny eyrie of needles and cloud.
There I wait.

It’s a long time before he speaks.
When I hear him I am no longer weighted and ungrateful.
He was always watching, always will.
I drum for him and he dances, big with grace, antlers like polished bronze,
And the seed-cone beings dance too, a stop-motion boogie beating the thin air.
The rain softens for us.

I can’t stand all this death, I say.
I can’t stand the cruelty
And the poor ones left behind.
He is firm with me.
Each death is significant. Death
Makes life sacred.
There’s a lot I can’t see.
Go East, he says,
And think of me.

And thank all the little ones
On the way down.

– March 2020
(Sacrifice = to make sacred)


When I got there
She showed me how long she is.

She is as long
As the hills, her tail
Moves over their peaks.

She showed me how far she sees.

She sees the steppe lands,
Each tree in relief
Of its shadow, all the way
To the sea.

And that is the length of her.
And that is how far she sees.

She lies in the cave mouth
And yawns pink at me.
And she smells warm and carnal, and
Sleepy as sunlight.

This is the only place we live now, she tells me;
And I see many creatures
Out on the low steppes, tiny insects,
Brown moths,
Lithe snakes,
All in refuge here.
All safe and well here.
All unharmed by foot and axe and blade.

And I cry and cry and say I’m sorry,
Over and over.
Even though she says nothing is ever really
I’m still sorry,
Over and over.

– April 2020


I had a sea-bone wash up to me,
A gift of the slapping waves.
They had held it for some time
In the form of a pilot whale.

I took it to earth in a graveyard,
And I Spoke to the Great Lady of the Night.

I was there on people business.

So, you must be real busy these days,
I said to her,
By way of conversation.

Hardly, she replied.
You all come to me in your end.
Human time means nothing here.
There is not a speck of earth that has not had a creature die on it.
Death is in every step you take.
There can be no more nor less of it.

Go on, she said.
Go drink the piss of dinosaurs –
Eat the shells of beetles –
Breathe the rot of your ancestors –
The sneeze of life!

– May 2020


Kia Ora Whanau, I am a shamanic practitioner from Aotearoa/New Zealand, with a special interest in death and the dead. Find me on Facebook under Karen Effie Deathcare.

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