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THE DREAM JOURNAL
OF L. CARUANA


SHAMAN INITIATION: THE BLACK BIRD
Vienna, Feb. 10, 1990

      At the time, I was living alone in Vienna, studying painting at the Akademie. One cold night in February, I had a 'shaman initiation' dream, which was to be the first of a whole series over the years. The motif of the black bird, introduced here, often repeated.

      I am watching an anthropologist undergoing his initiation into a primitive tribe to become a shaman. He is quite a bumbling fool, but - as the dream shifts - I become this person, or at least overtake his role as initiate.
      There is a small grove with planted cabbages growing in it. Two shamans, a man and a woman, explain to me that the leaves of the cabbage heads must
close up before the cabbage is ready to be picked. Then they only pick the select few.
      They begin to perform a kind of ritual, which consists of pulling flattened cabbage leaves, along with a folded newspaper, out from under a heavy stone or piece of hardened clay. Next, they try to fold the newspaper in such a way that no photographs are visible on the exterior. I offer to help the man and woman to solve the problem, and even though I come close to achieving it, they say I've spoiled the ritual.
      Finally, the time arrives for me to be initiated as a shaman. The male shaman (who is my master) and I ride upon a single donkey which is covered with large leaves of cabbage. The journey lasts three days, and we are not once allowed to touch the ground, but even sleep on the donkey.
      Finally, we arrive at a stone ridge, which consists of a shallow pool below, a natural wall face, and the top of the ridge. There are ancient symbols etched into the stone and painted black - not only in the stone wall, but even under the water.
       We climb the ridge, and my master starts filling in the etched outline of a raven (which has been there for years) with black chalk. This is to be my sacred animal, for I am now a shaman. He explains to me however that I will never be a powerful shaman, like him, because his grandmother was a shaman, and other members of his family before that.
      I then look out over the ridge, and see a small town. Immediately, I begin to have visions, and hallucinate. I hear music, and the shapes of the houses start to bend, until the houses start to dance with the music.

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