The winter snows fell early and heavy that November eve of 1972. Silence engulfed the night, but for the occasional soft ‘plop’ of an over laden bough bending beneath the weight of piled snow, dropping its burden to the drifts below.
I sat inside my wickiup, the sweet smoke of the fire curling its way out the smoke hole at the top of the lodge. Silence was my companion, an absence of thoughts and stress made my life living in Camp in the high elevations of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico a time of peace and ease. My cup of rosehip tea done, I slipped into my bed laid out at the back end of the wickiup, an arm’s reach from the fire ring, so I could feed wood to the fire for a while longer. As the flicker of light and shadow played upon the inner walls of the wickiup – tarps stretched across bent willow saplings – my eyes grew heavy and a deep warmth permeated my body. I luxuriated in the moment, then opened my eyes to reach out to the stack of firewood next to me. I sat up with a start, for there, crouched on either side of me, were two Beings. I had been visited by these two previously, when I was maybe 12 years old. They each had tall headdresses , and cloaks about their shoulders, masks covering their faces. White clay paint covered their exposed flesh, but for some red clay patterns of lightning bolts painted upon their forearms. In each one’s hands were held objects, items I could not identify, as they seemed to shift from one form to another.
“Come” the one on my left said. The Beings reached their arms beneath me and scooped me up, lifted me in the air. They then stood. Tall they were, very tall. So tall were they that as they stood, with me cradled still in their arms, that I found myself outside, above my lodge, in the cold winter air of a dark night. In the next moment we were flying, their hands grasping mine, and their other hands cross woven beneath me, as if holding me aloft. We angled upward, flying higher into the sky. We finally broke above the snow clouds. The peaks of the mountains shone brilliantly before me. Stars clouded the sky above, so dense were they packed. Then, suddenly, the star field shimmered, blurred, and then sprung forth closer than I had ever seen them before. It felt as if the Milky Way was a broad passageway and the thread of darkness that runs down the length of the Milky Way was itself a pathway. Along this path we flew, spiraling along the dark ribbon amidst the brilliance of stars, shooting like a meteor toward a large lightless dome at the end of the stream of stars we call the Milky Way.
Atop the dome was an opening, and into it the two Beings carried me. The noise was intense, a constant susurrus of cries, whispers and laments. As we slowed we dropped deeper into the dome. From the bluish light the Beings emitted could be seen, in the lightless interior, an untellable number of individuals, each crying out for release. Still slower did we fly, dropping in just over head level of the throngs. They all thrust their arms upwards in supplication, or so I thought. It was then that their hands began to grasp at me, grabbing a hold of my feet and legs in an effort to pull themselves upwards and out of this forsaken place. They would have climbed up and over my body in their attempt to escape this lightless place of doom. It was at that moment, when I thought I would be pulled under by the thousands of grasping hands, in the midst of the voices calling out “Help me! Help me! Help meeeeeeee!” that the two Beings who had brought me to this place swooped upwards and out the hole at the top of the lightless dome, the remaining figures losing their grip and falling back into the morass of pain below.
In an instant less than an instant I was back in my bed in my lodge. The two Beings of Light still crouched over me. I was shaken, shuddering. “What was that?!” I cried out. The one on the right spoke, saying “Purdah. The place of Lost Souls, home of the unheard, the unforgiven the unseen.” Then the Being on my left spoke, “These Lost Souls are condemned to spend eternity in Purdah, unable to escape. Had they succeeded in climbing up your body, the only result would be that you would have been pulled into the Lightless Dome of Purdah with them, and there would you remain.” “Why,” I cried out “why did you take me there?!” “Because,” began the Being on my right, “you had to experience the true nature of the Lost Souls, to come to know it for yourself.” My voice, constricted still with fear, implored “No! Why did you take me there?!” I wanted to know. “They have no way of freedom, except that they be rescued from Purdah, as we rescued you at the last moment.” continued the Being on my right. “And only one who has been rescued from Purdah is capable of freeing other Lost Souls from that lightless dome. That one,” he went on, “must of their own will choose to return to Purdah in order to release the lost Souls therein.” They both remained silent, as if waiting for me to understand and reply. But I did understand what they were telling me. And I did grasp the nature of what they had just done to me in order to make of me one who would be capable of the return to Purdah as a Retriever of Lost Souls. “Yes.” I replied. “Yes, I choose to return to Purdah, of my own will, in order to effect the release from that horrible place the Lost Souls dwelling there.”
I was a mere 22 years old, and I had just committed my fate to the compassionate release of Lost Souls from Purdah, the place of the unheard, the unforgiven, the unseen, the forgotten – the ‘Help Me!’ place as I have come to call it. Might I say that the bluish light of these two Beings seemed to grow brighter? They leaned over me, whispering, their words a susurrus of incantations, instructions and blessings filling my Being. And dare I admit that my own Being now illumined brighter as well?
Those whose Souls are released from Purdah, be they the once-Earth-Bound-Souls now freed, or those still alive who have suffered the loss of their Soul into Purdah – due to themselves having become one of the unheard, unforgiven, unredeemed, the lost, the nameless, the forgotten – but have been rescued and released, become capable of the ability to turn around and release still others from the confines of Purdah, following a whispering in the ear, a susurrus of incantation, instructions and blessings, a filling of Light by the one who has released them.
My commitment remains clear and true. Into Purdah I will go.
The Dark Time between the cross-quarter dates of November 2 – February 2 is a powerful window for journeys into the Underworld Realms. This affords us the opportunity of bringing Awareness into the hidden and dark recesses of our Soul.
It is in keeping with the natural rhythm of the seasons that specific Shamanic ceremonials are performed. During the Dark Time a deeper access into the Underworld is available. We Shamans utilize this opening to do our most compassionate work: the Release of Souls from Purdah.
Please read the accompanying article ‘Release from Purdah‘ on my website. Then, if this calls out to you as being relevant to your own life’s situation, follow the link for registration and participation.
Jade Wah’oo Grigori