Witches, Shamans, and the Number 13

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by Christina Allen

Myths and legends warn of the wicked witch who lives at the edge of the forest, the green, warty creature who brews toxic tonics in her cauldron and bakes little children in her oven. She crafts poison apples to put princesses to sleep and casts potent spells over innocent men and women.

But beware…

When one culture supplants another, it’s the ones who survive the ordeal and live to tell the stories who rewrite history books. It’s well known, for example, that the best way to bring a culture to its knees is to destroy the basis of its faith and beliefs. There have been numerous examples of this in human history.

Every culture on Earth started as an indigenous culture, learning how to survive by relying on their intuition and connection to the planet. Spirituality started with our wonder for the unknown – we revered those who had the ability to see into its mysteries. Visionaries and intuitives have long been the ones who heal and guide our people to food and shelter. They have been fundamental in keeping our connection to Spirit vital, and our tribes alive.

Whenever a culture wants to gain control over another, however, these are the first people whose power is minimized. They are painted as wicked, evil, and possessed, justifying killing them to protect the people. Tens of thousands of witches have been burned at the stake for possessing knowledge of plant medicines, and for being intuitive.

Marriage, materialism, and unlucky 13.

The number thirteen is another example. While once a sacred number, we now think of it as bad luck. Thirteen is the number of times the moon circles the Earth within a year. The lunar cycle regulates the tides, and women’s cycles are known to align with it.

Because they’re more psychically open during this time, medicine women have traditionally gathered for moon ceremonies in service to their tribes.

Archeological data shows early tribes revered these feminine powers, and considered them sacred. Most of the idolatry that comes from Mesopotamian times is of females, with very few artifacts of war. Because babies clearly came from their mothers, it made sense to base a child’s lineage on its known mother.

As possession of material things grew in importance, however, more aggressive tribes often started overtaking these gentler ones for their assets. Marriage was then introduced as a way to keep their women chaste, and the names of the pillagers’ heirs certain. Women were prevented from doing moon ceremonies, and made to feel shame and even face death if they defied these rigid rules.

While we now deeply honor the sanctity of marriage, Friday the 13th is a day to expect calamity, and all buildings are built “without” a thirteenth floor.

Shaming the shaman.

Similarly, many people till fear the word shaman, saying, “Oh, I want to be a healer, but not a shaman – shamans are dark.” Even today, shamans who object to deforestation of their rain forests are being killed for being “possessed by evil spirits” because they can go into altered states of consciousness to do healing work.

Energy Medicine is simply the practice of harnessing the forces of Nature for healing purposes. As with any power, it can be abused – but it’s not the power that’s evil. Evil lives in the hearts of men and women who have not done their personal work around their own fear, shadow, power and control.

All healing practices originate from indigenous healing arts. Shaman is just a word the Siberians used for their tribal medicine persons. It’s important to think about where our sense of its meaning comes from. Are the shamanic arts truly dark – or is this just another example of fearful people rewriting history to demonize the sacred?

Christina Allen, Healer, Teacher and Founder and Director of the Austin Shamanic Center, combines a strong science background (BA Physics, MS Neuroscience) with decades of applied ancient spiritual wisdom (Master Yogi, Reiki Master, and Shamanic Healer based on Q’ero Indian traditions of Peru). Available by private appointment at (512) 391-9829. Learn more about sessions and upcoming classes at www.AustinShamanicCenter.com.

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