A Tip From A Shaman

It was suggested to me, by a suburban shaman, that I should display upon my person, as part of my rig, the plumage of hoopoes. That this had not previously occurred to me was no doubt due to a distinct lack of shamanic advice in my life up to that point. I would go so far as to say that I had actively pooh-poohed manifestations of the mystic, whether in the form of shamen, wizards, magicians or the blind seer whose tent was erected by the side of a mountain path which passed by my chalet.

It was through this seer that I was put in touch with a fellow who kept a flock of hoopoes in an iron cage, and who let me pluck their feathers in return for a small consideration. Once I had the sack of feathers safely home, I took great pains attaching them to my cardigan. I used cow gum and safety pins, and by the time I was done, scarcely a glimpse of wool was visible beneath the hoopoe plumage. I donned the cardigan and awaited enlightenment.

The shaman had not been specific with regard to the esoteric hullaballoo I would experience, so I did not know what to expect. I stood in my kitchenette, and boiled a kettle, and made a cup of tea, all the while concentrating my mental energies upon any perceptible changes of insight into the spiritual realms. These realms were, of course, the ones of which until now I had doubted the very existence. I sat on my stool to drink my cup of tea. It tasted the same as usual, just as the feel of the stool was no different to any of the thousands of times I had sat upon it in the past. I began to think that the suburban shaman had taken me for a fool.

Then, having drained my cup, I went out, along the mountain path and down into the village. It was the day of the goose market, which draws crowds from the hinterland. Now I began to understand the significance of the hoopoe-feathered cardigan, for all eyes were upon me, wide and bright, staring in surprise. A slight yet persistent mountain breeze ruffled the plumage, so that, as one witness was later to put it, my torso appeared to be mystically vibrating, while my head and limbs remained still.

And still I was, for I took up a position in the village square, between the goose-pens and the cement statue of Ringo Starr, and I stood there, for hours, for days, so that the villagers and the visitors from outlying parts were transfixed by my presence, their eyes gaping, their mouths hanging open, their goose business forgotten.

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