A Shaman In The Neighborhood

Becky Coffield

© Copyright 2003 by Becky Coffield


Photo of a spider on its web.  (c)2004 by Richard Loller.

Ken Robinson, a neighbor and friend, is a practitioner of Ka-Ta-See, a form of shamanism. My many meetings and conversations with Ken have filled me with a new sense of who I am and what my "song" is. Ken is an intensely dedicated, devoted practitioner of this ancient knowledge. It is with the utmost respect and admiration for him that I submit his story.  (Ken Robinson can be reached for consultation or questions at spiralpath@earthlink.net)

Meet Ken Robinson, B.A. Philosophy, M.A. in Liberal Arts, M.A. in Counseling Psychology, and a kala keh nah seh – a shaman. My neighbor Ken is a practitioner and teacher of Ka-Ta-See, a form of shamanism that he was trained in by his mentor, Kay Whitaker, author of The Reluctant Shaman. Whitaker studied Ka-Ta-See under Domano and Chea Heteka of Peru for thirteen years before beginning her own teaching which included Ken among her students. Ken is one of the few individuals who has been given permission to teach Ka-Ta-See. He now practices as a healer, a seer and guide.

I have to admit my first shamanic meeting with Ken was done more tongue-in-cheek and out of curiosity than in any real quest for being “saved”. I jokingly called him my voo-doo man and thought I’d just see what he had to offer since he seemed so earnest, peaceful and sincere whenever we’d met on our walks and chatted along the road. Our paths kept crossing on the neighboring public lands that we both visited regularly – me for exercise, desperately trying to unload my barrel of stress, Ken for meditation. I was intrigued after my first casual talks with Ken about Ka-Ta-See, but not really totally convinced that it was not just a phase Ken might be going through. It sounded nice and happy, but how real could it be? How practical?

Ka-Ta-See, simply stated, is an awakening to who you are. It is living in balance from the heart. The first thing one is invited to do in Ka-Ta-See is to meet oneself, to experience one’s song. Each person’s song is a distinctive vibratory signature in the universe. It is a feeling of aliveness that is unique, ancient, and vast. In the first experience I had with Ka-Ta-See, Ken invited me to return to a place of joy - a place where I was happy and at peace, remembering the feeling and details. This was easy. I instantly selected the travel on my sailboat some years past in which my husband and I took four months to journey through the Inside Passage to Alaska. Every day was special, matchless, exquisite. It was four months of perfection, followed by two years of incredibly rich experiences living, working, and exploring in the archipelago of S.E. Alaska. Everyday I had been alive with wonder, excitement, the greatest happiness, and enchanted continuously. I lived in a perfect dream for those two plus years. I could recall the clean, cold smell of the air, fog hovering on the tree covered islands as our small sailboat meandered its way northward. I drifted under Ken’s hypnotic murmuring to the land of quiet joy. It was a peaceful, happy feeling, and Ken wanted me to keep bringing my attention back to that feeling. “Go back to your song. Put your attention to that feeling,” he advised. “Our attention is power. Energy follows where we put our attention. When we focus our full attention, we can direct the energy purposefully. This is power.”

Ka-Ta-See invites the taking off of masks that we have adopted in our march through life. Our culture is buried in masks, or patterns of thinking and feeling that aren’t us. Our culture is fear based, and we hide behind these masks out of fear. We live in a “do this – do that” agenda with lists, should’s, ought to’s, and have to’s dominating our days and our feelings. We cannot truly know who we are, what our song is, until we unplug the masks and begin living our song. Unplugging the masks gives us the gift of stillness. So, I took one giant leap forward out of curiosity and rediscovered a lost joy and happiness that Ken says is the real me. I was on my first journey to myself. I spent a few minutes a day over the next couple weeks closing my eyes and trying to feel my “song.” It was good. I felt relaxed. Six weeks later my blood pressure was at a new low. My doctor, who’d been prepared to prescribe hypertension medicine for me, quickly changed her diagnosis.

“According to Ka-Ta-See, we have learned and become habituated to giving our power and attention to endless mask dramas,” Ken says. One common mask is the “Time Mask”. We fret about being on time, not having enough time, living our lives in appointment books, time management, multi-tasking to optimize time, measuring out our days in slots and segments, or as J. Alfred Prufrock intones, measuring out our lives in coffee spoons. Another common mask is the “Money Mask”. We worry ceaselessly about never having enough. We measure our self-worth, and the worth of others, on money – how much we have or don’t have. We encourage our children to pursue careers that are financially rewarding, but not necessarily emotionally satisfying or empowering. Our fear and obsession with weight control and appearance is a mask. “Anything,” Ken emphasizes, “that is fear based is a mask. To find and live in one’s song one must recognize one’s masks, honor the purpose they once served, and begin to set them aside.” There are many masks, including the “Super Mom Mask”, the “Self-Pity Mask”, and the “Pleaser Mask,” whom we all know as the care-taker who feels responsible for everybody else’s happiness and continually sacrifices their own.

We become addicted to our masks much like a drug. Sometimes we cannot even see our addiction, yet we know we are somehow not whole, not well. We need something, we reason, but we don’t have our song to pull us back to our true selves. “Having masks does not make us bad or not worthy of love. Living in masks has been the way of life for centuries in much of the world. In Ka-Ta-See, one explores how to release judgment about masks and to have compassion for one’s self and others. In fact, the tribal people of Peru from which the Hetakas came have no word for judgment,” offered Ken.

“Thriving on song-filled experiences and well being is what Ka-Ta-See is all about. When we are living in balance from the heart, we enjoy our own healing gift which comes from our song. We become far more intuitive, accessing our own abilities to heal and to direct life energy. Our being in harmony with the natural world feeds our spirit,” he adds.

There are many depths of experience and ceremonies one can go to in Ka-Ta-See. It is, after all, an ancient knowledge and medicine story tradition and very effective in bringing one to harmony and peace. It is a drug free tradition. Ken was clear that Ka-Ta-See does not espouse the use of addictive or abusive drugs or alcohol. One limits the exploration of one’s aliveness in a tainted state. Ka-Ta-See invites each of us to be our own healer. “Wondrous health can be achieved when one is “living in balance from the heart.” Ka-Ta-See offers us the knowledge and tools to let go of old patterns of thinking and feeling that are not us,” Ken stated. “It allows us to find one’s stillness, inner peace, and clarity.” When people are in their natural state, they resonate out a natural vibration of well being, peace, and harmony. One’s natural state is amazingly alive and healthy. When we live in our masks, we live in a vibration that is parasitic, sucking out our energy supply, making us tense, stressed, and restive.

“There are numerous ceremonies in which one can participate in Ka-Ta-See. It is all up to the individual’s choice, although few participants want to discontinue after the initially rewarding experience of discovering one’s song,” Ken explains. One of the many ceremonies that one can experience is the ceremony of the Earth Fire Serpent. Ken describes this as a ceremony which opens up rivers of life energy that move through one’s energy system and body to bring one abundant nourishment, healing, and a sense of well being. It is also the river of life energy which helps us burn away the cords which bind our masks to us.

Most enticing sounding to me is the Power Animal Ceremony in which one calls back soul pieces which one has lost in our journey through life due to trauma of some sort: divorce, death, childhood hurts and pains. “Each person is different as to what causes them to lose soul pieces, but the holes left by the soul pieces create havoc in our bodies. We try to fill these holes with other things – work, people, stash pots of fear and anger, drugs, sex, addictions of all sorts, but the only thing that can fill the holes is us,” Ken explains. “In the Power Animal Ceremony, we seek out our power animal, a very loving and special spirit helper who is very loyal to us and who is there for each of us to turn to. One’s power animal assists in the search for the soul pieces. When we retrieve these soul pieces through our own direct experiences, we become whole again, and this serves our well beingness.” Another powerful experience is the Crystal Cave Journey which brings an awakening of the non-linear mind, where one can access all kinds of knowledge and guidance, depending on one’s intent.

Ka-Ta-See is an invitation – an invitation to wake up to the vibrancy, vastness and creation that one has within oneself. “One’s song is one’s gift to oneself. In one’s song, one lives in the passion for life and radiates aliveness, compassion, beauty, and wonder. In this sense, one’s song is also one’s gift to the world, because song emits healing energies to all beings in the world. Song honors the Earth and all life with the deepest gratitude and respect. Song does not breed fear, control, and suffering. Song chooses to thrive on experiences which are life-giving,” Ken concludes.

Ka-Ta-See is an invitation to create a rich world, a world filled with song, choice and love, not coercion, “power-over”, fear, and masking. It is an invitation to share the divinity of one’s song. Song to song, never ceasing.

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