The people of the Chumash tribe knew that the shaman’s powers were stronger at the waterfall.
They came in twos and threes to see him, with wounds of the physical and otherwise. They watched as he stitched injuries with only a few chants and touches. Some say they see magical forces emanating from his working hands… others say he channels spirits to heal people, but there was no doubt that the tribe believed in his power.
When the little girl doubted her older brother would survive when he fell ill, she knew it was time to see the healer. She trekked through the mountain range in the rain with her family, hoping to reach him before nightfall. They arrived at the waterfall at twilight, witnessing the last rays of daylight illuminating the pools. She approached the tepee cautiously, and heard him say from within, “enter.”
Once they laid her brother down on a bear hide, the shaman looked at her brother’s body limply displayed in front of him. She studied the healer’s thin long hair, and his tribal tattoos covering his face and hands. She had heard he was as old as the earth… and for all she knew, he might have been.
“Please help him,” the girl’s mother said in her native tongue.
The healer slowly sifted through some of his remedies. He used the yerba santa plant and a strong tea made from black sage to aid in healing the boy. Then, he gently hovered his old hands over the boy’s body and murmured some words of an ancient prayer, leaving the young girl to wonder what he was saying, for it was beyond her comprehension. Just as she was starting to believe he was performing old magic, she thought she saw rays of faded blue light dancing around the tepee in the shapes of spirit animals… eagles, coyotes, wolves… it made her head spin. He continued his chants, while smoke from burning plant leaves filled the tepee. The girl couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t. The healer blurred the lines of myth and reality, but she trusted him.
He finished his chanting, sat back and opened his eyes. She girl’s eyes widened when she saw her brother sit up and look at each family member. “You saved him,” she said to the old man.
The shaman bowed his head and she smiled at him before they walked out into the dark night.