Deenagh: The Pictish Years Chapter 6 – The Old Shaman

This is a Disabled Pagan Voices Project Submission

The Old Shaman was the most respected of all the Pictish people, and he was the Head Shaman, a position he had held for more years than most people had been alive, so for all of the Pictish people, the Old Shaman was the Head Shaman for as long as anyone could remember. He was named Old for a very good reason, an unimaginable old age to the Pictish people whose average natural life span was around forty years old. Many people throughout the generations had come to consult with the Old Shaman of Anoc-Par, for his reputation preceded him and he was known as the most powerful of all the Shamans of the Pictish people. Everyone knew him on some level, having listened to his stories at The Sacred Mountain at the Gatherings and taking part in the ceremonies he performed. Many of the people had sought counsel with the Old Shaman, who offered not just physical healing when needed, but emotional, mental and Spiritual healing too. The Old Shaman had helped keep the traditions of the Pictish people alive, ensuring the people from the many villages attended the Clan
Gatherings four times a year at The Sacred Mountain, thereby reinforcing bonds of friendship and kinship. He ensured that all the clans observed a promise of a truce for the duration of the Gatherings, no matter the quarrelling that went on in between times.

The Head Shaman was the one revered above all others, as his position was higher than even the Chief’s of the villages, and on many occasions he helped broker peace between warring clans to ensure the people lived in harmony with the land and the creatures they shared their land with. The powers of the Old Shaman were feared by some as they simply did not understand the ways of the Spirits, but most viewed him with the utmost respect. He had great influence over the major decisions of the
Pictish people, and his word was final and generally set as law. He was a fair and just man, because he lived by a high moral code as set out by the Spirits and the Universal Law of Balance. He answered only to the Higher Powers That Be, to whom he had no doubt could strip him off his powers anytime they chose, if they decided that he had been abusing his position. So it was of the highest standard that the Old Shaman lived by, and although most people could not begin to understand this, they could accept that he was a greatly honourable man.

With his Spirits passing, the Old Shaman was remembered by the villages and clans whose stories had been passed down through their generations, and his age alone gave him status. No-one but the Old Shaman himself knew how many years he had lived, so the Pictish people could only speculate, and his age would vary widely between fifty and two hundred years. However, it was not merely his age that brought him honour but the way he lived his life, and his dedication to helping his people for so many years, without complaint and with little rest. He had taught countless young Apprentices to Shamanism throughout his long life, and his legacy would live on in his teachings.

The death of the Old Shaman caused a great sadness among the entire Pictish people, and a Ceremony of Release was organised, befitting of the great man that was the Head Shaman, the greatest Shaman the Pictish people had ever known and would ever know again. Deenagh felt the sadness that had covered her people like a blanket of fog, thick and heavy. It seemed to her as though a stillness had come over the land itself, as if all life just went silent, and there was a sadness at the great life that was now lost to them all on the earthly realm. The sense of grief was felt by everyone whom the Old Shaman had affected in even the seemingly smallest and insignificant of ways. All sentient life, including the Spirits of the land itself took time to reflect on the life and death of the Old Shaman.

Deenagh sought comfort from her Tree Mother, and they helped each other to accept their grief, and in time begin the healing process of moving on with their lives. The Dryad decided to shield Deenagh from the energy of grief that had consumed the village and the clans folk, because Deenagh was able to sense the emotions of others. The Dryad felt Deenagh would be overwhelmed by such an energy, one that could harm her with the sheer weight of emotion. She explained to Deenagh what she was going to do, and when the Dryad placed her protection around Deenagh like a bubble of shielding, she instantly felt better, and could think clearer through the fog of emotion. Deenagh felt so grateful to her Tree Mother that she cried tears of gratitude. She hadn’t realised the extent of the sadness she had felt until it was lifted from her, and she now understood that sometimes the feelings she had were not her own, so she thought about how she could help herself in these situations in future, and so she put this to the edge of her mind to work on later.

When the word was sent out to the other villages to tell them of the death of the Old Shaman, the people came to Anoc-Par to offer their respects and to lend their help with the Ceremony of Release, which was to be held on The Sacred Mountain. This special ceremony would last for three days and
three nights, and on the third night, the Old Shaman’s body would be burnt in a ceremonial fire and his ashes would be placed inside the Cave of Shamans, to join with those important Spiritual Guides who had gone before him.

The Ceremony of Release was the final opportunity for the Pictish people to see their Head Shaman one last time as he lay on top of a great stone, his body laid out in the splendour of his ceremonial clothing with his staff and tools by his side. A procession left the village of Anoc-Par, as the Old
Shaman’s body was carried aloft by the people, a representative from each village, and he was taken in silence to the Sacred Mountain. The Pictish people were given the opportunity to walk up to their Head Shaman and spend a few moments at a time with his body, offering their thanks and blessings to help him on his Spiritual journey to the resting place of the Great Hall of Shamans. Never before had such a large number gathered on The Sacred Mountain, for even the sick and old had made the journey to pay their last respects to this great man, their Old Shaman.

My name is Deenagh Jackson and the process of my writing has helped me understand my own Pagan beliefs in this modern day, while also helping me to connect with my Ancestors of old.

The Deenagh series of books which I started writing almost 2 years ago are about the main character Deenagh who can remember her past lives and each book tells the story of the lifetimes she has lived and the lessons learned, with her Spiritual beliefs at the heart which are important to Deenagh.
This is the first time I have shared my stories outside my close circle of friends, but as a wise man once told me “a stranger is a friend yet to be”, so feel free to contact me by email 
Brightest Blessings, Deenagh