Shadow Whispers – 1

30 12 2006

Much of which I know did not come from learning, nor from believing tested and refined — but from simply being open to what has come before.  I sit here now, staring into the ebbing pulse of the fire’s death, and listen to the Whispers.  The smoky haze within the cabin seems to part, and I see again my friend Kiyan.  I know that he was born near this valley — perhaps Styria, and walked the rivers to the Baltic Sea after the Golden Horde left this land.  Some might say I am touching the Current of his being — others lean toward Channeling.  It matters naught– just that he is here right now!



and the elders asked,


“We know that you are Shaman, trained to be a spirit-guide for your people, and be as one who sees what might come that fear is averted.  Can you not teach us of these things, or cast some stones for more than children?”


Kiyan rose to pace behind the flickering reach of the fire’s definition, becoming one with the swirling smoke and shifting shadows of breeze and moon.  Those of the village gathered there became of two minds; those who closed their eyes to better understand his words without distraction, and those who peered into the unfolding display to better understand the shadows and the words.  And of these extremes The Gusari knew that a balance could be found – that those who walk toward the mountain with no eye on the rock strewn path may stumble, while those who seek refuge in a castle of regrets will find nothing but the stones..  So he caused the whispers to speak aloud, “before I answer as I might, I will tell you a story – then you might ask again.”


In a valley much as this, at a time long ago when a wall of ice blocked the northern pass, an explorer spoke of new lands revealed ‘neath the setting sun.  As the people there lived in fear of most everything, they asked how he had managed to travel so far from a safe fire and paths well known?  As a man could only carry four days provisions, ‘twas at great risk to travel more than two days from home.  He told them the way of it.


“As I travel outward the travel is slow, finding blocked canyons and hills too steep for any to follow; so I venture only a single day and seek a pleasant temporary camp to secure.  Here I hide one days ration or the three remaining and venture forth another day in exploration – return then to this cache but a day from home.  Then with strength renewed I return to safety of home and fire.  Here I pack all of my belongs on a sled and in heavy pack, for now a I have a path well proved as I have traveled each trail twice and it is known to me.  Thus, I can now travel to the forward edge of safety in one day which took two before, and establish a new base called home.  Then I rest two days to replenish game and found and inner peace.  At he end of seven days I have gained but two days out, but it is now of knowing rather than hope, cast in a braiding of where I have been and might yearn to go.”


The elders sat in silence, each staring into the embers of the silent fire.


“Now, if two men would explore together, bound in friendship and trust – there is a simpler way.  One day out would have a further reach as both could learn of the other’s useless trails, needing not to prove by their own eyes.  From this new camp twice secured, one man would return to their precious base and bring the provisions forward; while the other would venture further onward for a day and return.  With two days gone they would meet again and share what they had gained.  The in one day again together, they would make fast time of a known trail, seen by one and believed by the other; and in one day surge further on to set a new camp as base and all.  Then they need only rest a single day to replenish body and spirit.   This in five day they would have explored the same and more what the single man might do in seven – and have never been more than two days away from fire and friend.”


The fire danced back to life as if to signal that The Gusari was finished., but no one spoke immediately.  Finally, one who looked barely old enough to be an elder spoke up,

“I would not like to travel that far from home alone even with such a plan; but I would follow the path set by such a one as this, for he chose to walk the path twice and remember his roots.  I would believe his signs and trust his judgment.”


Then another spoke, hesitantly at first, but then warming to his message,


“Yes, to place a life-trust in a stranger would call for special proof that he can be believed.  When the two went out, each had to trust the other, but in the end they traveled the paths separately to prove their worth.  Two people can validate each other even if they are strangers.  For each alone it requires believing, but in the end it is of knowing.  In a way, two people working together can weave a stronger rope than one alone, and if they include the ancestors as well – then the result must be even more than that of two.  Methinks that because they kept returning to the past in this way, that they created the success of their future – they journey became a chain rather than a rope at all – each link a balance of known past and fervent hope..  Of what need are tossed stones for such as these?”


After a while the senior elder spoke,


“For many years we have bickered with other villages near by – those with whom we once traded crafts and daughters.  Perhaps the key to the future we wish to know can be found in leaving past hurts behind and trusting in friendship again.  We can move forward and back in an endless cycle of learning and remembering, and challenge fears by bringing forth only what we can lightly carry.”


Others nodded and added sticks to the fire.  One asked of the Gusari, “might we not better secure what we have before asking what might now be?


but Kiyan was gone, but one of the many pairs of eyes watching from the forest.




Wizened Staff

27 12 2006

Any traveler is wise to not travel alone, though some trails narrow but to a heart’s width, and other meant for solitude.  So, a seeker should always carry a staff – more than stout support for balance or protection, but friend that connects spirit to earth – and more.  If gaining understanding and wisdom is a goals of such journey, then the staff will serve more in concept – in concert with pouch and scroll as is commanded.  In this a staff represents the core values and perceptions by which you will stand – solid and firm, yet alive and changeable by else than whim.  As with its solid, wooden counterpart, this Wizard Staff can be appraised for strength, reach, flexibility and beauty.


STRENGTH –  a man’s staff of character and self contains a central core of unchangeable commitment to a measure of honor, integrity and principles that can withstand the assault of perversity and allure.  Around this is a more pithy surround of values and beliefs which cushions the frictions of daily life, and present a more resilient form for others to grasp – yet it is slightly vulnerable to change and sloughing away.  Around these cores of identity is a ‘thick skin’ for protection – perhaps amazing in texture and pattern, but essentially a barrier against casual assault on the inner cores.  Lovers and critters alike may attempt to ‘get under your skin’ – and learning to tell the difference is a test of compassion, empathy and fear.


REACH –  ‘tis said a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, but this must be tempered with reasoned judgment.  A ‘soul quest’ should never shuffle beyond the reach of ‘what brought you here’, nor aspire to more than can be integrated with ‘who you are’.  While you may probe into the unknown as if testing a bush for snakes, but then must serge backwards into memory for a fine braiding of new experience with the core of strength.  For proper Tegsh balance one should grasp the staff such that the wider ‘probing’ end is in relation to the shorter ‘serge’ section as ‘probe’ is to the entire ‘reach’.  In planning the probing should be into ‘what has come before, with the shorter end but an exploration of possibilities.  Thus the dream never draws beyond what the soul can balance.


no future path might support that which your character cannot sustain, while those of whom mind and spirit are balanced in heart and earth will find any trail lined with fruit, and any dream a goal.”  the scrolls of Eskiyalı 

FLEXIBILITY –  just as a tree too rigid might break in the wind or be torn from stability for wand of deep roots of being, a staff must be able to sway in the breeze, or bend in mediation.  The vital center core will sustain, while values may yield and the skin peel away – for these can be healed, and scars seen as lines on the face of a crone.  But even a flexible shaft will lead to folly if only poked and jabbed in an aim lined based only on what has worked before.  You seeking must be allowed to swing about and vibrate a bit like a hound dog following a scent.  The balanced reach in tune with Phi will prevent the staff from being knocked from your will; while it can rebound from fruitless paths of yearning – always in motion, never still, as if conducting a symphony.

BEAUTIFUL – many would anoint their staff with aromatic oils, carve figurines and inscribe symbols such that a stranger might not know of this inner self.  But, as such perceived beauty is artificial, then information gained from strength or reach or flexibility may also prove feckless, and values changed on this accord but a delusion.  If instead you strive for an inner beauty founded in congruency, and ‘who you are’ and ‘who you are perceived to be’ show the same, then another may grasp your staff in confidence and pull you from the bitter swamps of complacency.  I assure you, my friend, that nothing is more beautiful in the march of time than a seeker open to any path, striding onward in measured step, with a solid staff both leading and following – forward two, back one, spin about and try again.

Myth and History

20 12 2006

There are numerous historical and mythical stories about the mountains being associated with ‘white’, while the sea and low waters are linked with ‘black’.  Triglav is a fine example of pristine white, and to the East of my chosen land is the
Black Sea; but the karst is also a run from the white to the black.  Thought time and culture, white and black have been used to indicate a separation of thoughts – antipodes in contemplation of any type.  It has only been linked with Western concepts of ‘good-evil’ since the 17th century – and any reading of myth and ancient history should not use that overlay. In the Trebusca-Duuran system of divination (of which I shall write a book), the Caster Calls (painted ends of small sticks) is not used, as this would represent “absolute spirit with absolute power” – impossible for any human to handle.  We need only look to myth for the reason why. 

NIGHT MESSENGERS These thoughts relate to persons and events of mostly Turkic origin, but with involvement and acknowledgment of the Alan, Mongols, Chinese, Persian, Scythian and Thracian references.  I will pretend that all of these have a common legend source.  The earliest reference is about 5000 BCE.  The latest in the 11th century when the Marmaluk Sultan decreed, “the white and black need not ride together.”  Many scholars feel this reference is to the ‘Yin-Yang’ dichotomy.  I know better. 

The name of the people/event can be translated as “Night Messengers,” “Night Riders,” “Shadow Hawks,” “Dark Wind,” etc.  I used to use ‘NightRiders’, but this has unfortunate connotations of racist American history and ancient Chinese societies.  I once invented the name ‘Shadus’ for another purpose – I will use that. As noted earlier, documentation is virtually impossible as the Shadus were ‘invisible’ within the cultures directly related – nomadic Turkic clans/principalities.  These people rapidly adapted to local environments and survival exigencies with attendant ‘aculturalization’.  However, these clans had a need for communication and were bonded by a common language and spirituality (not religion).  The uniqueness of the structure of the Turkish language allowed/required a continuous return to base concepts and ‘purity’ of stories.  Additionally, nomadic people had enough problems warring with new cultures without fighting amongst themselves.  What evolved was a system of communication between the “princes” that was protected from any local squabbles or power plays.  These messengers were the Shadus, and they form an ideal convergence of need and function that is unique in history (my limited view). 

On the surface, the Shadus was a team of two riders.  One was the ‘ultimate warrior’ – invincible in battle.  The other was of the Güslerindeniçi – seers/wizards/shaman/priest.  Thus they represented both physical and spiritual power and, by agreement, untouchable by either military or religious forces.  They represented ultimate power and authority – a terrifying thing.  This ‘threat’ was rendered impotent by decree and custom that they could not interact with common people – not in speech, food, drink or touch.  They were culturally ‘invisible’.  Whether they rode only at night is debatable – but they were cloaked in darkness and were never seen nor referenced by any Turkic accounts.  However, other cultures like the Alan did speak of them.  One story relates that it had been 1500 years since an Alani had stopped a ‘dark-flyer of the Türqüsi on their divine horse with one head white the other black’.  The implication is that these ‘most fierce warriors in history’ would allow the Shadus to pass. Now the good stuff.  The reason for the Shadus’ power and effectiveness is founded in a puzzle.  It is known that they rode two horses, one white and one black.  Each was dressed completely in white and black with veiled hoods.  Each had crossed silk scarves across their chests in opposing color.  It is not clear which person rode which horse.  It is legend that it was never known which was the warrior, and which the shaman.  Thus how could you challenge them?  What man would risk his spirit or his might in making the wrong choice? 

In post-medieval times we have come to equate white with good and black with evil.  This was not so then.  Black often represented honor, valor and strength; while white stood for purity, chastity, etc. – but this distinction was not ‘religious’.  Consider that for any problem you can call on (or challenge) ultimate power in either physical or spiritual form – but that if you choose the wrong one, it is death (physical or spiritual).  Standing in front of you are two champions – but you have no way of knowing which is which – and they are inseparable.  You may choose to ‘not see them’ either.  Thus is the myth of the Shadus. Now, I will play ‘fast and loose’ with possible extensions of this myth (but they were real).  Consider: 

  • The ‘Yin-Yang’ depiction and represented dichotomy may derive from the Shadus
  • The Zarathustran construction of ‘duality’ that is now part of most modern theistic religions is based on the Shadus.
  • The use of the cross to symbolize sanctuary and protection is derived from the Shadus.  Indeed, Turkic clan members voted by crossing their arms before their faces – fists turned inward in negation or defiance; outward open palms for agreement.  Thus, the ‘open hand’ as a sigh of friendship (no weapon), and the modern handshake all could relate.  The Egyptian representation of ‘ka’ is two open, extended arms (life-force).  When the right arm is crossed against the chest it is a sign of physical support (also Roman).  When the left arm is crossed over it is a sign of piety, normally with bowed head.  To perform both actions together is a sign of fielty – complete commitment.  An acknowledgment of the Shadus.
  • The Gusari were a medieval extension of this myth to the extent they were used as couriers by European princes.  They owed allegiance to no man and embraced all religious practices, and were considered exempt from local laws.  They were often ex-knights and were hired as trainers of martial arts.  To announce their coming they sent forth a medallion of a white falcon on a black background; or a black trizub on a white background.
  • In medieval
    Turkey, performing magicians (safic) were not allowed to do anything resembling ‘arcane magic’ (mystical/occult).  Only the ‘seeing ones’ could do this, and they could not use ‘tricks’ to enhance their work.  The safic performed on patterned black and white rugs – the ‘seeing ones’ (Güslerindeniçi) carry a string of black and white beads.

I am sure you each can provide additional extensions.  Some of this may be ‘reverse engineering’, yet … 

Mongolian Shamans were depicted as dressed in white on a white horse, while the eversought ‘center tree’ was starkly black. The black and white tail feathers of raptors are always the most prized. 

Medieval knights in vigil wore only black and white, with a red sash to represent the blood of Christ (left to right) – in giving oath their sword was crossed right to left. I am going to suggest that ALL of our use of black and white symbolism, and that of the cross, originate from a single source that took visible, active form for more than 6000 years in the rides of the Shadus. 

or so it blends in the Valley of Whispers

The Duuran


16 12 2006



Though the era of the Orient Express is a century late for the noble Grand Tours, and no longer available for a modern adventure, a trip in such grand fashion had elements of cosmopolitan adventure.  It also suggests to me how important the method of travel was to undertaking a Grand Tour.  In Elizabethan times one was forced to be leisurely – if one desired luxury.  Pace was limited by distance between Inns, and getting there early had little advantage.  Of, course, when one was in a great city for several days, there were social events as well as sight seeing to fill the time – and always periods of reflection, writing and conversation.  On a modern tour, one needs a guide, not to explain the historic significance of what you are seeing, or what adventure lies ahead, but to describe what just flashed by at blurring speed – but its in the Tour Book anyway.


A Tour on the Orient Express was a compromise, of sorts; full trek from
Calais to
Istanbul if desired, or many points of departure.  Layovers were possible; but as the trains had sleeping compartments, dining salons, cocktail lounges and libraries, it was never necessary to leave the train at all!  And perhaps, more was lost than gained.


Consider the limitations:


1)  you had to accept that getting to either
Paris or
Constantinople was a worthwhile goal.  These final destinations were decided on by others, their task then becoming one of convincing you of its value.


2)  the route was set and side excursions were impossible – you had to see the panorama of scenery and ‘slice of life’ directed by mountain passes and rivers, while pretending that what you were seeing was representational of either life or nature.


3) you traveled with peers, i.e., people with similar economic, political and educational– certainly safe, and even comforting, but questionable as source of inspiration or of ‘broadening oneself ‘in Grand Tour tradition.


4) elitism was a predictable and infusive element of such a trip, well documented in the use of the Orient Express in novels, plays, mysteries and movies.  Please notice that only scan mention is ever made of what is going on outside of the train – it became a world unto itself.


5) food and beverage was fine and grand, to be sure, but offered nothing of local taste or flavor or the culture being passed through – sad, as history abounds with the important mixture of food and conversation in order to learn of people and dreams.


which brings us to consideration of the metaphysical and allegorical trappings of a Grand Tour.  Certainly, one cannot blame the Orient Express on the problems of today.  Yet, the willingness of the better educated and powerful classes to accept this ersatz substitute for a Grand Tour contributed to the end of something – exactly what I am not sure.  Consider that today many people feel no need to travel for the Internet can tell you all you need to know of people, places and history (and are sometimes even accurate).  You need not read a book as
Hollywood will show you the world as it really is, a substitution of a bright screen for a window on the Orient Express.  Even better, you can enclose yourself in a tiny room in a house (often not a home), surround yourself with cultural dishes in little white boxes, chat with know friends of ideas already tested and abused – and pretend that you will somehow benefit from it all.  At least the Orient Express went somewhere.  We laugh at a phrase like, “if you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”  A local expression oft heard resembles, “I like to try new things, but not for the first time.”  Methinks it all started on the Orient Express.


One humorous observation of those ‘grand old days’ was that those on the train, after a chance glance outside, would comment on the “unfortunate” peasants and workmen and children – even extending into pity and remorse that everyone could not make a trip in a gilded box on wheels and rigid tracks.  I would ask that you ponder on what those ‘simple folks’ thought – about their pity for those on board whose lives and views were so limited, their hearts cold, their spirits jaded or lost – strangers flashing past, who would ever be strangers.


at least in Lemuria, there are no trains!




A Balance of Dreams

14 12 2006

How much of this is ‘remembering’, and how much a piecing together of bits and snatches of ancient stories and poorly translated poems I cannot say.  To lie near the Cabin allows thinsg to ‘flow through’ — and that is enough!





There is a world small yet containeth all

twixt the mountain pale stark and lake so dark.

From each can be seen a universe

whether one soothes out or seeks within.


To three mountain peaks you can enjoin

a pristine climb from when or then or now;

yet each gives a view so much the same

of earth and mind and heart and wonder.


Of the cold sea you may also seek

to learn of self and spirit and myths

in timeless waves, or calm reflection –

or a pebble dropped to change it all.


The choosing is not ‘tween White or Black,

nor even call of drifting  high or low,

but of looking at what lies between

and finding simple peace with what you know.


Here are plains where wars were fought for naught ,

and ancient tribes met for exchange and blend

of impassioned blood and willing trade

of old and new such as children made.


To the South are the fonts of learning

of old  
Greece and
Egypt and Arabie.

From the East comes silk and mystery

and the horseman of terrible eyes.


From North flows the Skandie thunder

and legends of ice and soft blackened furs,

to add cold and warmth to the creep

of religious zeal from the pretentious West.


and the Celts rested here, and Gypsies too,

and the Romans and Huns and Rus ‘tis true,;

 fain seeds which flower o’er trampled grass

that the future is found in what has passed.