Sam looked into the old man’s eyes. Had they brought him here to kill him? It seemed so out of character. Grandfather was a shaman. He stared transfixed as the old man looked into his eyes and began to chant again. In one swift motion he pulled the blade of the dagger across his palm and as a thin line of blood appeared where the blade had been he reached out and marked Sam’s cheeks and then took his hand and cut his palm.
Sam felt no pain and when he looked down blood was dripping down his wrist. The old man took Sam’s hand in his and pressed their palms together with his free hand, chanting all the while. Sam felt his hand begin to pulse in rhythm to the chanting and his mind seemed to spiral upwards to the heavens.
The old man released him and raised both his hands skyward and looked up. The volume of his chant increased. Sam looked down at his hand and the cut was gone. There was no blood. Had he imagined it all? He looked skyward again and he could see his own face looking down at him, the stars shining through. He began to sway back and forth and as he did the old man reached down and brought out a mirror and held it in front of him. Sam looked into it but could see nothing but the trees behind him. Panic began to rise but then grandfather put his hand on Sam’s chest and pushed him backward.
He felt himself fall. It felt as though he were falling right through the earth and the fetish animals seemed to come to life and dance around his falling body. The one that represented a jaguar seemed to grow to the size of the real animal and it jumped onto his chest and stared into his eyes as blackness enfolded him.
When he came to he was lying on his sleeping bag and Yoshi and grandfather were sitting cross-legged on either side of him watching him. The sun was rising and the sky was glorious. Sam felt more alive than he ever had in his entire life. The world was a vivid place. Sound and light were intense and more immediate than he had every experienced. He marvelled at the sensations that filled him. It was as though he had become a different person.
Yoshi seemed to read his thoughts. He was grinning from ear to ear. Grandfather nodded his head and Yoshi pulled Sam to a sitting position.
“Welcome to the world, Sam. Did you enjoy your rebirth?”
“Yes, Sam. The old you died last night. Did you not realize?”
Sam let the night’s events unfold again in his mind. “I…grandfather gave me that drink…he cut his hand. Then mine. He held up a mirror and I saw…”
“Yes Sam, what did you see?”
Yoshi nodded solemnly. “You died.”
“Then there was this animal and I was falling…”
“Tell me Sam, which animal came to you?”
“A jaguar. He was sitting on me.”
Yoshi spoke to grandfather. His face was broke into a large smile. He replied and Yoshi translated.
“That is your spirit animal, your inner self. It is a very good thing to have the jaguar in you. You are a powerful being now.”
Sam was listening but at the same time the words that Yoshi had said before were still with him. He had died and been reborn. He was still not used to his heightened sense of awareness of the light and colour all around him but he knew he would be eventually.
This is the beginning of my life, he thought, and my journey is my favourite way to die.