The Shaman

Here we go! The notoriously difficult second blog. The follow up, the sequel… I’m over-dramatising this because I’m nervous, so I’ll stop now, but basically I’ve been waiting for an interesting event to occur that warranted a second post. I write down lots of stuff all the time, willy nilly, but none of it seemed important or silly enough for me to put on the internet. Recently though, I had an encounter that I thought was probably worth sharing, mainly because it was so bizarre and downright silly, if not a little magical.

About 2 weeks ago, I was called in to attend an audition over in West London. It was a dance call & after travelling over an hour to get there, the whole thing lasted 12 minutes. I kid you not, from putting on my dance shoes, to walking out of the door and waving goodbye – 12 minutes. There was a dance routine in the middle and a ‘thankyou ladies’, but that was about it. I wasn’t annoyed, such is the nature of the industry that you often catapult around the city, spending a few minutes at a time in rooms, trying to impress people; but I had come all the way to West London for what felt like nothing.

Luckily, it was a beautiful day & Ash had come along with me for the journey, so we set about scouting out a beer garden to pass some time in. This is posh West London we’re talking about so there were plenty of plush outdoor areas to choose from & eventually we settled ourselves in a little nook & ordered some drinks. It was all starting to feel pretty idyllic ~ apart from the insane children sat near to us, who kept ricocheting things off their table ~ and the sunshine felt nice on my face after being cooped up in a sweaty studio.

Feeling smug at how this day was turning out, I excused myself to go to the loo and as I did so, passed a shabbily dressed man in his early 50s, making his way over to our table. I watched him from afar making a beeline for Ash, and the last thing I heard before I went inside was him saying something about Ash’s ‘energy’. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself, as we often attract the lunatics & this time I’d escaped, leaving Ash to deal with it. I figured he would be gone when I returned, but OH how wrong I was. Walking back outside, I found him now seated at our table & in the process of ordering a double vodka and coke.

Internally, I was thinking ‘Jesus Christ, now we’re bloody stuck with him’ but what I actually said was ‘Hello, nice to meet you, my name is Betty… blah blah blah’. It’s important to be polite to lunatics incase they’re feeling fight-y.

Within minutes of meeting him, he asked for our birth dates. I obliged, pegging him for some drunk old fool who gets his astrological knowledge from the horoscopes at the back of the newspaper, but what he actually said astounded me.

(I feel it’s important to say at this point, that this man was probably 3 drinks in, had a thick Irish accent & would randomly switch between 2 different conversations without warning. One of those being the aforementioned; starsigns, spirits and the occult and the other being a pyramid scheme on aloe vera juice he was involved in with his Russian friend. We kept up with him with some difficulty, often having to resort to that polite laugh you do when you have no idea what someone’s just said.)

After hearing my birthday, he incoherently listed a stream of starsigns, rising signs, falling signs, under-the-bed signs, I have no idea actually. But then he said out of the blue… ‘You’re very academically gifted, yet you never finish anything.’ I was shocked, that’s pretty much me to a tee, although I would never admit it. He continued with ‘Why don’t you just do something you’re not that bothered about & make lots of money? You could give it all away if you wanted to.’ He had my attention now, so I said

‘You sound just like my family.’

At this point, he laughed and said,

‘You see the thing about pyramid schemes is…’ and we’d lost him again.

Now I have a fair amount of experience talking to drunk people, so I know, that left to their own devices, they will often ramble themselves back round to where they were 5 minutes ago. I left him to it, politely agreeing with his statements, offering up a nod here and there and slowly eeking out my soda and lime, hoping the conversation might become interesting again before I had to buy another drink; and so it did. Out of no where he came out with ‘A BLOODY CURSE, THIS.’ When we asked him what was a curse, he replied ‘All of this, I never asked for it, passed down by my Grandma and she didn’t tell me what to do with it all. Had to learn everything myself.’ We were back on track.

From then on, he spoke only of shamanism, how he was completely self taught, that the gift came from his Grandma & how it had almost driven him crazy in his younger years. I privately wondered whether that was what had driven him to drink until he mentioned his Irish father whose catchphrase had apparently been

‘Son, when you are older, you will drink.’

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a bit of a sucker for all things spiritual, so I really wanted to believe him, but the skeptic part of my brain couldn’t shake off an image of Naboo from The Mighty Boosh sitting in his kiosk, wearing a turban.

He asked a lot of questions about us as well, but after about 20 minutes the conversation was so sporadic it became almost impossible to know what he was talking about & there had been no more magical insights into our futures; plus, I sensed maybe his last vodka was starting to hit him and thought it was probably time to bail. I gave Ash a quick wink across the table & we started to make our excuses. But it was whilst Ash was inside settling the bill that he suddenly had a bizarre moment of clarity. He turned to me and said ‘Well about that audition, sometimes you don’t get the job because it isn’t the right time, and it may be that you getting that job would have stopped you getting something better, but if you ever do have something that’s very important to you, here’s a spell.’

He then dictated a spell to me which I wrote down in the notes section of my phone. He said that it’s incredibly powerful & it would be best to hold onto a tree for a little while before I do it, so as to earth myself. I was a little taken aback actually; crackpot or not, it was a very kind thing to do for somebody you’ve never met before, and he clearly believed in what he was saying.

Ash returned and we said our goodbyes and got back on the tube, laughing the whole way home about how random the encounter was.

This all happened about 2 weeks ago & I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I have always said that London is the most magical city on earth. There are some parts where you can feel a hundred years worth of history just rattling around in the streets and to me, there is nothing more eery & mystical than an empty tube platform at 5.30am. But, having been in London for 6 years, you sometimes lose the magic in the hustle of actually living here, day to day. So it’s encounters like these, when I let down my ‘Londoner Front’ that bring back all the excitement of the capital for me & if there is any point to my story at all (which there isn’t really) it’s that we should probably let down that front more often.

Having said that, I haven’t used the spell yet, so this could all end in me just wandering around, wildly clinging to trees.

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