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The Day Before Yesterday

Reid Dickie





             Between 1994 and 1998, I went on hundreds of shamanic journeys during which I met and engaged a pantheon of spirits. By using 50,000-year-old shamanic techniques involving meditation, intent, drumming-induced trance, power animals and spirit helpers I have discerned several of my recent incarnations. Largely due to Maug, an old tree spirit who turned up in one of my early journeys and still consistently helps me, I was supplied with varying degrees of detail ranging from scant to full-blown for each embodiment. Some dates are very specific, others less so. Working backward from the present:

Reid Dickie, since 1949

            Family spirits have been integral to my shamanic practice from the beginning. Grandmothers and fathers, aunts, cousins, Dad and beautiful Linda have aided and abetted me. My mother, whose death spurred my curiosity so intensely it eventually found shamanism, has been a major spirit helper from the beginning. With intent, I encountered her on several early journeys and she has helped me often since. This is a verbatim report from my journal entry about my shamanic journey on March 30, 1995:

            “Eagle, silent after initial greeting, flew me to the Sky Realm (Upper World). I could sense my energy turning into pure light. This usually occurs as we approach the Sky Realm. My soul begins to shift from energy “ball” to simply light. I landed behind Mom who turned when I spoke her name. We hugged and sensed it was terrific to be together again. I asked about Dayna Lee and Mom reached down and picked up my infant sister. They are never very far from each other. She’s an amazingly cute baby, grinning happily all the time.

            “I asked Mom what it was like to lose a baby child and she said both her and Dad were physically sick as a result. There was disbelief and so very much grief. She said she had felt grief when Dad was reported Missing-In-Action on D-Day but she somehow knew he would return. Losing Dayna Lee was more final yet Mom always felt she’d be reunited with her daughter.

            “Then almost a year later we had you. I said I really appreciated the pain she went through to have me on that hot August morning, both of us red-faced as the sun. She said every moment of labour was a kind of ecstasy for her because she knew it would result in a wonderful object of love. Then she had me re-experience my own birth.

            “It began with a thundering sound that I thought was a drum but in fact was my Mom’s and my hearts beating together within the confines of her body. I knew I had to leave her body and it seemed a familiar rather than terrifying experience. I felt the fluid drain away from around me and my head being squeezed as I passed through her loins. There was no feeling of being ejected or rejected by her but more of a slipperiness that we both shared. I wasn’t fearful but opened my mouth wide as if to gulp in air or something during my passage out of her.

            “My tears flowed freely as I lay in trance experiencing this. I felt a sudden burst of pressure then I was in a cooler environment, shivering and crying. But it was more a combination of laughter and crying. That emotional mix was replaced by sheer laughter from us both, hers a new mother, mine as new baby. I felt the new air filling me up and wanted only to feel the warmth of her body, which came very quickly, feeling her arms holding me, seeing her red-moon face and feeling the love it beamed at me. At that moment, I recall the sensation of feeling ensouled, a fullness that somehow completed me making an end to this part of the journey and beginning a new one. I remember the fragile tenuous nature of soul at first but as the moments passed and Mom’s arms encircled me, the soul settled into my being. I was here to stay for a while.”

Pierre Rabine

            Frenchman, born about 1924, who died during WWII at a young age, about 20. He was killed by what we call “friendly fire” at Dieppe.


            Irish woman who lived to be in her 90s. I felt like an old old woman, wrinkled with white moustache and bright shiny eyes. She died in the early 1910s.


            German peasant farmer who lived for about 40 years in south east Germany and died of a disease that ravaged the area about 1820

Male Lion

            On Serengeti Plain in Africa for about 40 years. I was surprised at inter-species travel.


            Male Pygmy lived in dense jungle to be very old – in his 80s. He made me sense smallness in the immensity of the jungle. I felt extremely content in this form.


            “My first meeting with Maug was reported in my journey on July 31, 1995 on Lughnasadh Eve. I was sitting on the ground between two towering spruce trees, I encounter a grown black bear, not my usual power bear, which passes in front of me front left to right. In a moment, the bear changed form into a grey haired woman wearing a brown sack like dress and a brown shawl over her shoulders. As she approached me, she said her name was Maug and that I knew her by another name – Aspen Smoke. She said she was born in 1581. She is the person I was until 1633 when she was burned alive for being too successful a sorcerer.

            “She sat down slightly to my right. She told me of her life. When she was 52 years old, she died after having spent her life alone in a hovel in a dense Austrian forest of oak, spruce and ash. She was a recluse by choice, rarely seeing people, preferring the company of trees tho in the forest she did have a small number of other women acquaintances who shared her need for solitude.

            “Maug was orphaned by a disease that killed both her parents when she was about nine. Maug escaped the disease that killed her parents by “holding live coals in her hands” and carrying the scars for life. The large scars on her small palms and fingers shone bright as sun every time she washed her hands. When she clapped, sparks would arise like effervescent fireflies. The scars saved her life. They were in exchange for the plague. The trees told her what to do. With that, she placed her palms against my forehead and a powerful jolt of energy entered me. I fought not to fall back from the force.

            “Thereafter she’d been raised and cared for by a wise woman named Hebra who lived in a hovel in the forest. Maug inherited the hovel when Hebra died ten years later. It was with Hebra’s guidance that Maug developed her rapport with trees.

            “Maug went into great detail about how to understand the language of the trees and bushes” “Know that the wind is the bucket the voices of the trees echo in.” Often trees talk to each other but more often, they talk to whoever is about: birds, animals, people, rocks, clouds, etc. Trees will also give you a warning of approaching danger. “Be aware of that when you hike on your next trip,” she said very explicitly. When I asked her how I was to understand what the trees say, she said to remember the jolt from her hands. I’m not sure what that means but it was a memorable sensation from her scarred palms.

            “Maug told me of the children and babies of other women in the forest that she had healed or guided toward safety when they died in infancy. She talked of her general distrust of people, showed me a large glistening pumpkin sitting next to us which connected me to the source of ecstasy when I touched it. She briefly and nonverbally recounted the burning, mentioned the funny name Webbed Flight has given me (Aspen Smoke) and said he was a respected teacher and I was lucky have him.

            “I had asked for Maug’s wisdom and with a small laugh, she said my path was “brittle with love” and it leads me into the clouds and into the earth, darkness and light at once. But I was not to fear, just “look for the path of love in every step and it will rise up before you.”

            “Then as suddenly as she arrived, she shifted back into bear form, saying we would meet again but not for sometime. Then she was gone. I sat alone when suddenly Bear was walking toward me. She paw-licked and embraced me saying she thought it was time for me to meet Maug tho it took some coaxing to get her to come to this meeting.

            “My next encounter with Maug was six and a half months later on February 17, 1996. A very somber moment ensued. the branches of a blue spruce tree next to me began to rustle and shake. They seemed to give birth to the small greenish figure of an old woman who popped from the branches and landed grinning on the ground. It was Maug. She told me she’d lived in that tree for over 200 years, even in the seed for six years before it germinated.

            “Since she was old, she said we should “lean” which we did against another near-by spruce, not hers. I asked about lives before her. She spoke of two incarnations but said she would tell me many more things in the future. I had a feeling not all of them I wanted to know. Maug said to go see your mother, which I did.

            “On January 20, 1997, I met Maug in a deep evergreen forest. She materializes from the boughs of a big spruce in a rustling, chuckling sound, a green vapour that solidified into a small white-haired, far-eyed woman as gnarly as the oaks that share this forest. She spoke her quick dry speech, chastising me for whatnot. I like her better than ever.

            “I ask if I can ask her some questions. She agrees and I ask, “What have I forgotten about you?” She tells me I know very little about her so she’ll start from the beginning.

            “I see her being born on an area of flattened brown grass in a forest, her mother, a dark figure, crouches and liquid flows red from her body. She slides back and a baby appears on the grass followed by another larger red gush of fluid. As soon as the umbilical cord is cut, a whirlwind picks up the newborn and swirls her laughing into the air. She sails high up into the sky toward the warm sun. Giggling on the wings of the whirlwind, that baby flies down to be set ever gently on a lower bough of a large spruce tree. The whirlwind moves on and the dark figure takes the baby off the bough. The midwife assisting is Hebra who, upon seeing the wind lift the child away then set it down gently, knows the baby has special abilities. The child is raised in the forest until she is six when she first sees a horizon which makes her very frightened; so much so that she never wants to leaves the safety of the forest again.

            “Hebra taught her the whole world is enchanted with spirits. Every bird, tree, plant, rock, river, cloud and animal has a spirit. She learns to recognize and communicate with these spirits. She learns about the uses of various plants through the spirits that live in them. She says what I have forgotten and all other moderns have forgotten too, is that everything is alive.

            “As Maug is making this point, the drum calls me back. We will continue her life story later like on February 16, 1997 I met Maug who appeared in multiple forms from a towering forest of evergreens. I asked her power over infant mortality. She’d been a midwife and could, an hour or two after a birth once the soul was settled into the newborn, tell by placing one hand on the baby’s head the other on the baby’s tailbone, what sort of life the child would have. Positive and negative sensations were the most obvious with realms of subtlety added the longer she held the child. She stated she didn’t really have any power, just predicting abilities. When I mention Dayna Lee, Maug says it was just fate; she had nothing to do with it.

            “She told me more of her rapport with trees. Living deep in an old forest, she felt secure amid the trees. They offered her protection and peace. Sometimes she would climb a tree near her house and spend the whole day 50 or 60 feet off the ground, communing with the tree. She had half a dozen such trees she climbed. She mentioned the communication with trees being called “tree prayer.” I thank her as the drum carries me back.”


            Before Maug, our spirit abided with a black African man named Isha (eye-sha) who was a healer and hunter in a small settlement in “Swaziland”. He lived to be in his early 90s, had white hair all his life and rapport with amphibians.

African child

            In the southern part of what is now Sahara Desert in 1391 a black baby boy was born. A few weeks later he was eaten by a cloud of carnivorous locusts that were plaguing Africa at that time. The baby had no name yet but was ensouled with our spirit. Then there is a substantial gap before the next embodiment.

Aspen Smoke

            About 1200 ago, around 800 AD, (born or died?) a shaman who lived in eastern part of Manitoba spanning the Canadian Shield and the lowlands below. I carry his spirit name as given to me by Webbed Flight.

I post this today, February 12, 2011, marking my late parent’s 69th wedding anniversary. Those crazy kids eloped, got hitched, rode the train to Winnipeg and honeymooned in the Clarendon Hotel on Portage Avenue which today houses an exhibit about the Titanic.

With love, I honour their union for the wondrous opportunities it created in my life and without which this page would be blank.

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October 9, 2010

“The Ancients have spoken today”

            Older than Stonehenge, older than the Pyramids, Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel is still used ceremonially today by the Nakota people on whose reservation it sits. My intuition and experience here suggest it may be 8,000 years old, an early post-glacial construction. Spirit dances here daily.

            When Chris and I went looking for it in June, it was elusive. Although I had visited here twice before in the 1990s, I couldn’t figure out where to the access the hill. I left frustrated but determined and called the Pheasant Rump Nakota Nation band office a few weeks later. I spoke with an elder about getting permission and directions to visit the medicine wheel but he said to call another time.   

            In September, I called back and spoke to elder Beverly who was very accommodating, said to come on by, her house was just below the hill. A month later on a bright Saturday morning, I headed out Highway #2 into Saskatchewan, arriving at Moose Mountain early afternoon. I easily found Beverly’s house. She wasn’t there but a beautiful young woman named Keisha gave me directions up the hill.

Central cairn of Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel

            Two wind- and rain-washed ruts lead through the grass up the steep hill; some of the inclines were 60 degrees. Over rough hills and through rougher gullies, I carefully drive, always rising toward the summit. Wolf willow scrapes against the car’s side panels.  Past the band’s Sundance site on a bench below the hill, one last surge of Avenger muscle up up up and I arrive, a hundred yards from the medicine wheel. As I step from the car, my heart is pounding, my spine tingles slightly and the muscles of my face pull back in a smile, all familiar sensations at these places.

            The day is an anomaly. The north wind pushes in a 25-degree  C day in October! The sun roams behind occasional hazy cloud. I spend my entire visit shirtless, enjoying summer’s reprise. I roll between the barbed wire strands and walk toward the medicine wheel, stopping to wait for the welcome, there it is, smile and proceed.

            Set atop the highest hill around with an astounding 20-mile view of the foothills, rolling prairie beyond and the flat farmland left behind after glacial Lake Souris, Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel has a large central cairn five feet high with a “nest” in the middle of it. A single ring of stones circles the cairn and five stone spokes radiate outward. At the end of each is a smaller cairn.

Astrological alignments of the five satellite cairns around the central mound of Moose MountainMedicine Wheel  from research by John A Eddy Ph.D. National Geographic January 1977

             I rattle, sing my power song and spiral around the outside of the stone circle. Very quickly I feel peace and holiness surround me; every step, every breath, every glance is a miracle almost too beautiful to bear. I spiral in toward the centre where I am summoned to the nest at the core of the cairn. I carefully climb over the rocks to the centre. There, on a bed of rock, open to the heavens and the earth, I ask, with a wavering voice, “What?” Even before the answer comes, I am trembling and tears begin to flow.

            Spirit gave me three clear and real directions at that moment, ponder points. I heard a soft but firm voice tell me I needed to go deeper into this, control my ego and write. While my body is on its knees, a weeping bag of snot, my mind is recording those instructions, already processing, and my spirit is soaring in ecstasy.

           All three parts of my being are fully integrated and harmonic at this moment. Each transforms the others. There is no separation between body, mind and spirit, The One into the Many, the Many into the One. A state of bliss.

            There was a short addendum to the final instruction. I heard another voice tell me, “People believe you.” I was shocked. That had never occurred to me before. Other than fact-checking, I seldom think about my credibility. I just write what happens. It was reassuring to know I am believed, which is, actually, never up to me to decide.  

             Slowly, carefully I leave the cairn and lie down in the brown grass outside the site. The dry spikes prickle my bare back. Filled with gratitude, I hear Linda’s voice say, “Be happy, baby.” I am. I am.

            After half an hour of pure pleasure prone on the hillside, I rise, make one last spiral around the outer ring, rattling and singing my song in gratitude then float back to the car. I drive down a few hundred yards to a flat bench and park to give myself some time to rest and reflect.

            As I get out of the car and look up, I see, coming in from the west, a bald eagle spiraling on the updrafts. Near enough to recognize, it slowly floats overhead, re-enforcing the message just given to me at the stones. Eagle is one of my power animals whose unenviable mission it is to try to make me wise. I thank Eagle whose presence reminds me of the huge responsibility I have at sacred sites to take away their wisdom with care and passion, to unpack my experiences with love and kindness.

Beautiful, multi-hued rocks of central cairn, Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel

             I have a little digital voice recorder I use to record my important thoughts along the various trails of my life. This sweet gadget later gives me a chance to quote myself. Oh, writer’s bliss! As I was leaving Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel after my experience, in a whispery, reverent voice I said into the little machine, “The Ancients have spoken today. I have the message. Thank you, Ancients. I leave more enlightened than when I arrived. For that my only way to express my gratitude is, ‘I will fulfill, I will fulfill.”

            More than anywhere else, Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel spawned this series of reports. I came upon this format while pondering my visit there. For that, I am truly grateful to these old stones and their message.



May 29, 2010

             Restlessness overwhelmed me around noon today. I checked the weather satellite and it looked promising so I headed out to Carman, had an unsuccessful rummage in their MCC, bought 6 fresh doughnuts at the bakery and proceeded west toward Miami and the Escarpment which loomed blue and dark on the western horizon under thin variable cloud.

            I drove past Miami and up onto the first of the three steps of the Manitoba Escarpment. Up the second level and finally atop the next level of prairie. A few miles later on the very top of the Escarpment, I encounter the St Leon wind farm, my first experience with a wind farm.  Those suckers are big! And stretch for miles and miles across the rolling hills. Dozens of them! Very strange and surreal motion relationships with the car moving horizontally and the huge turning blades right there next to the road. If Alfred Hitchcock were making North by Northwest today, he’d have a wind farm in it.

            I pass through Notre Dame de Lourdes and descend off the Escarpment into Rathwell. As imposing as the windmills are, the rolling black shelf cloud that covers half the horizon before me is awesome! I am driving right into it, cloud darkening around me. I drove 240 north to Portage la Prairie and the rain begins, buckets by the time I arrive at the PLP Horts.

            I have encountered the once-in-fifty-years rainstorm. I watch the streets of Portage fill up with water. It lets up a little after an hour and I decide to try the TCH home. I get to the rest stop just outside PLP and pull in hoping for better visibility. It eases once more. By the time I get to Elie, this storm is maelstrom proportions. Zero visibility with people still passing me! I sit on Elie’s main drag for half an hour and it lets up more. I keep driving back into it, of course. Stupid white man!

            The result of the rainstorm is flooding over a large area, especially between PLP and Winnipeg. The land is drenched with standing water everywhere. The rains that came even before I left the city meant the ditches were full, fields inundated, both sides of the Escarpment alive with ditch streams, La Salle and Assiniboine Rivers and Tobacco Creek overflowing their banks. Ah, the joys of living on a floodplain.

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