I was in a dark basement. Alone. The air was filled with incense and I could barely make out the chair across from me. At that moment it dawned on me that no one knew where I was. On the suggestion of a Shaman I had met at Red Mountain Resort in Utah during my personal vision quest week, I had scheduled a on-on-one meeting with Grandmother Nadia, the last living Shaman of the Ulchi people in the village of Bulava in Southeastern Siberia.
During my intense physical and emotional detoxification week at Red Mountain I had forced myself to do things that were out of my comfort range like facing my fear of heights by scaling a mountain and hiking through the hot desert alone. It also meant a tea-leaf reading, Drums Alive and a session with a Shaman. My goal for the week was to begin a clean slate and let go of things that no longer served me. I was willing to try anything to get my happy back. During an emotional session with Shaman Betina Lindsey, I had hoped to release the sadness and guilt I felt about the death of our babies. She sang softly as she placed objects like seashells and feathers around my body. I cried as she told me that I was holding on to these little souls so tightly that the bond I had with them wouldn't let new energy in. I had to let them go. I couldn't do it. After the session, as she was gathering up the articles around me, she asked where I lived. When I told her Seattle she stopped and smiled. She said one of the world's oldest Shaman would be visiting the Seattle area and she thought it would be a very good thing for me to have a session with Grandmother Nadia. Perhaps she could help me release what I needed to and open my body to a new little soul. I agreed.
You have to understand, this is a big deal. I went to Catholic school for 16 years. Before I started The Happygirl Experiment I didn't consider other religions and what they could offer me in my quest to be happy. I was beginning to understand, however, that there are no coincidences in this life. People are placed in your path for a reason and so I found myself on this evening alone in a basement of the home of the woman who translated for Grandmother Nadia.
In the dark room I waited. I closed my eyes. I drew in my breath trying to calm myself. I was nervous.
I didn't even hear the door open. I was in that half-sleep, half-awake mode. I sensed I was no longer alone and I opened my eyes slowly. There she stood in front of me. She was tiny, like a child. I smiled and nodded my head at her and her companion, Jan, the translator. As Grandmother Nadia donned her cloak and a head dress that completely covered her face I was told that Grandmother Nadia did not speak English and that Jan would be translating the session for us.
Grandmother Nadia sat across from me. I was rapt. It felt like anything could happen at that moment. I held my breath. She asked in her native tongue "Why are you here?" Jan translated.
Grandmother Nadia gazed at me. Our eyes locked. I quietly said, "I am sad. My babies died. I want a baby but I wonder if God or the universe feels like I don't deserve one. Can you help me?"
I couldn't see her face behind the headdress. She sat across from me quietly. I closed my eyes and then WHAM! The sound of a stick hitting a drum just inches from my left ear. Grandmother Nadia was in front me of me, around me, singing and beating the drum. I could hear Jan translating for us.
My eyes were closed. I was vibrating from the sound of Grandmother Nadia singing and using the force of her entire body to beat the drum. In the dark room we left the earth, dancing into the sky. Grandmother Nadia called up each of the winds of the North, South, East and West. She called upon my ancestors. She reached my animal spirit guides and asked them to accompany us on the journey and keep us safe. We twirled in the sky as she flew through space and time, calling upon her people and mine to guide me, to help release the little souls that I carried in my heart. "There isn't enough room for the soul that wants to come." she said. "You need to relax. You need to let go. Let go. Let go."
I know this sounds crazy. I know it does. I am a logical girl. My husband often calls me Spock. Even as I type this I know you must be thinking that I have just lost my grip. I get how it sounds, I do, but here's the thing: with my eyes closed and the incense, the drumming and the singing I believed that this wise, ancient, gifted woman from the wilds of Siberia was indeed drawing in the power of the universe to help me. We may have been sitting in a basement in Seattle but who's to say that our minds weren't actually flying around the universe, gaining wisdom of the ages?
The drum stopped. Grandmother Nadia removed her cape and head dress and sat down across from me, exhausted.
"Now?" she asked.
"That was. . .wow. Thank you but what is the secret I need to know to become a mother?" I hoped there was a tea she could prescribe or maybe a special prayer.
Jan translated my question and Grandmother Nadia looked at me matter of factly. "You need to relax."
"But is there something I should drink? A tea maybe? Herbs?"
"You. Relax. You. Relax. OK? You will be." And with that she got up and left the room. Wait. I will be what? Relaxed? A mother? Jan told me that this would happen. When it was over, Grandmother Nadia would stand up and leave. Just like that.
I stood up as Jan turned on the light. I blinked in the reality of the evening, trying to absorb what had just happened. I said goodbye and stepped out into the dark, starry night. I trembled as I walked to my car. I put the top down. I need air, a lot of air. As I drove home, I felt light. I drove across the 520 bridge looking up at the stars. Had I really just soared through the sky with one of the world's oldest Shaman or was my mind just susceptible to suggestion?
I realized that honestly, it didn't matter. What mattered was that I was trying hard to be a better person. I was getting fit and healthy. I was praying. If the path to being happy meant that I would soar through the sky in the company of a holy woman, then I would do that. I did that. It. Was. Amazing.
The Grandmother Nadia Experiment Results: I believe that this extraordinary holy woman has a gift. She touched my heart that night. Every cell in my body reverberated. I can't explain what happened in that room. What I know for certain is that Grandmother Nadia was right. I will be.