Shared Transformation Issue 27
Song of the Stars: The Lore of a Zulu Shaman, by Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, Barrytown, Ltd., New York, 1996. ISBN: 1-886449-01-5
Prior to the severe illness that was his shamanic initiation, Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa had no interest in becoming a traditional African healer. At the time the mystery illness struck, he had almost completed his Western education in the course of his goal to be a school teacher, but the universe had bigger plans for him. Song of the Stars is both the story of his intense apprenticeship and a collection of mythology and sacred knowledge gleaned from his tradition. While in many ways I found this to be an inspirational book, Song of the Stars is not for the timid. Mutwa suffered many tragedies and crises throughout his life and at the time of writing this book was dying of cancer. He acquired clairvoyant abilities during his early initiation and in the last chapter he describes some of his prophesies. These include the same kinds of catastrophic earth-changes frequently predicted by other seers. Among the many extraordinary experiences Mutwa recounts is a UFO abduction he underwent in 1959. Although he was not a believer until he had a firsthand experience, he tells us that such encounters have been common among his people from ancient times up through the present. It has long been known among shaman, for instance, that people who touch ashes left in the wake of spacecraft will die horrible deaths with symptoms now scientifically understood to be radiation sickness. Mutwa describes various types of alien beings in detail, explaining that like other creatures, some species are friendly while others are capable of hostility if provoked and some are outright malevolent to humans. With grave certainty, he tells us: "We are being watched, we are being explored and investigated..." (In light of the recent spate of UFO cults’ misguided suicides, I was somewhat reluctant to describe this part of Mutwa’s book.) Despite the sometimes frightening timbre of his stories, he is intent on showing us how we are more alike than different from other humans (Mutwa is a genius at finding synchronicities between languages and customs in widely disparate cultures) and that we are capable of kinship with myriad beings on all levels of existence. With a heart brimming with both sadness and hope, this powerful yet gentle, humble man makes a poignant plea for restoration of the earth, world peace, and remembrance of the ancient wisdom.
Awaken Healing Energy Through the Tao by Mantak Chia, Aurora Press, 1983; ISBN: 0-943358-07-8
This book instructs the reader how to raise the Kundalini, or "chi", as it is known in esoteric Taoist yoga. Awaken Healing Energy offers very detailed and thorough exercises for clearing subtle energy channels and circulating chi through the system. The most emphasized is a technique for swirling chi around in what Chia calls "the microcosmic orbit." Once this process of opening the acupuncture channels is achieved, the transformation that Kundalini catalyzes will occur; in the Taoist system, this is known as "inner alchemy." The method Chia teaches is intended to awaken Kundalini in a gentle manner, avoiding the pitfalls of more aggressive techniques. He warns: "Without many clear and commodious channels to transport a considerable increase in energy, damage can result from an overload. These side effects range from the physical to the psychological and can be quite disturbing, even debilitating." He says that even "well known yogis have damaged their organs with excessive heat or have released uncontrollable hallucinations by progressing before their bodies were prepared to handle high doses of raw energy." To his credit, he includes a chapter on Safety Precautions to help with some of the more common Kundalini troubles. He counsels individuals with pre-existing physical or mental/emotional problems to be careful in their practice.
It disappoints me that Chia upholds the New Age party line that all sick people secretly want
to be sick. Even if on a deep soul level it may be true that we choose our destinies, this concept too easily
gets twisted into cold-hearted accusations which do nothing to help anyone who is suffering. Having gotten that
off my chest, Chia is for the most part a compassionate, wise teacher who does not expect to be idolized. At one
point he advises those who are seeking spiritual self-development: "Try to remind yourself to smile and do
one good thing each day. That is all you need. You do not have to depend on a higher master to guide your spirit...
No one else can guide your spirit. If your spirit has to depend on others for guidance, then you are in trouble."
It keeps coming back to this: even the greatest mentors have their limitations and blind spots. No one can give
us an infallible map for our spiritual journey. But teachers like Mantak Chia provide a pretty good compass to
help us find our way.
-- El Collie
© El Collie 1995