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by Janine Donnellan
The Mask is such a primeval concept. Shamans would wear a mask in ceremonial magic to personify a special God or Goddess or to tap into a specific type of energy. Perhaps the shaman thought that by wearing a particular mask the associated entity would be attracted to them and they would be able to channel the energy and utilize the entity's power.
I am a collector of masks and some time ago I had the opportunity of making my own mask (shown above); it was a profound experience that helped me tap into those hidden aspects of my inner self. Several weeks prior to the mask making event I started to have dreams about the mask. The mask started to emerge as a unique personality that had colour, shape and design.
Melanie, a shaman whose teachings were based around Native American traditions was conducting the mask making event. On this particular day our group from the Spheres of Light was connecting to the bird spirit. The day started off with drumming and singing and honouring of the four directions. We were then were taken on journey through meditation to connect with our bird spirit. Each person in our group connected to a different bird which seemed to be the appropriate one for them. I connected to a beautiful coloured lorikeet.
The next stage was preparing the clay; once the clay was kneaded and stretched it was placed on my face as I lay on the ground. The clay was molded to my features and holes were made for my nose and my mouth. As I lay on the ground while the clay hardened I was again taken on a journey through meditation with the sounds of drumming and singing. I eventually drifted off to another time and another life where I could see a fire and myself being sacrificed in some ancient primitive village; then I started to go through a whole series of experiences of past lives that all seem to roll into one; all interchangeable and moving with great speed like a boulder tumbling down a mountainside.
My dreams about the image of my mask started to make sense; the lines that I could see on the mask in my dreams represented the layers of my existence; for I am truly the sum of all my lives. The accumulated experiences and the wisdom are all contained within my self and can be tapped into and utilized at any time. As I pondered on the concept of the mask, I thought that maybe the power that these shamans were trying to harness already existed within their being and that the mask was the conduit for releasing the power from within.
Now like the shamans of old when I place the mask on my face I can access that dormant power and I can be the God and Goddess that exist within my being.
For more information about Shamanism please go here.