Monday, February 21, 2011

Truth Can Be Stranger Than Fiction

Today my guest blogger is bestselling author Lindsay McKenna. When you read this story on what triggered the inception of her jaguar shifters, it will leave your mind reeling.

She has over 75 books published under the name Lindsay McKenna and another 20 under her real name, Eileen Nauman. I cannot tell you what a privilege it is to have here. Thank you so much, Lindsay, for taking the time to share such an exciting experience.

While developing my metaphysical skills, I had acquired a number of medicine teachers over the years.  I carry Eastern Cherokee blood through my father’s side of the family.  I grew up in that mystical environment.  One of my teachers informed me that I would be moving into jaguar medicine. I thought it was kind of odd at the time after all, I lived in North America, not South America, and the jaguar is distinctly a southern cat.  In the 18th century Jaguar’s roamed the Southwest, but no more.   I shrugged and said that was fine, and never thought any more about it. Two years later, my teachers again informed me that I would receive jaguar medicine. I thought that I would receive it as I did all the rest through altered-state activity as a shaman.

Shortly after that last subtle hint, I received an unexpected invitation to go to Sao Paulo, Brazil and give several days of workshops on crystal and gem healing.  This would take place in October, 1992.   My host, Manuel, a Brazilian himself, was an civil engineer and vastly interested in gemstones and crystals. While I was thrilled with the prospect, in the back of my mind I thought that perhaps we’d go to the zoo and I’d see a Jaguar there.  

Later, my host contacted me and asked if after giving the workshops that we’d like to go deep into the Amazon jungle outside of Manaus, the old rubber city. He said there was a "hotel" out in the middle of it but that it had no electricity or running water. Were we interested? You bet! We would have three days in the heart of the Amazon Basin, and I wanted to commune with and honor the spirits of that country with ceremony. I also wanted to see, first hand, the destruction that was going on as I'm very active in environmental issues.

The week spent in Sao Paulo was a complete success, but my mind and heart were really on the three days we were to spend out in the jungle. We flew to Manaus which sits on the banks of two mighty rivers that merge to form the Amazon. We took an old wooden tugboat on a three-hour trip down the Amazon River. My host had two young daughters, ages seven and ten, and I had given each of them a tobacco bag so they could "gift" our relatives. We used cornmeal or tobacco from a Native American standpoint, to use as a gift to Nature.

The captain of the tug told my host in Portuguese that there were fresh-water dolphins around but that we wouldn't be lucky enough to see any. I told the girls to throw a handful of tobacco into the Amazon as a gift and to ask the river spirit to invite the dolphins to come to us so that we could honor them as well. Within fifteen minutes, the first dolphin was sighted:  large, gray and overwhelmingly beautiful. Within minutes, dolphins were leaping all around us like excited children. Needless to say, the captain was in shock and was looking at me with the weirdest expression - one of wariness combined with curiosity and a lot of respect. I smiled at him.

As we neared the channel where the hotel sat, the captain said that some-times, only at night during a full moon, one might see the very rare and almost-Extinct, pink dolphin.  Manuel's children were fast to catch on and gave a second gift of tobacco to the river, asking specifically for a pink dolphin to appear. Within ten minutes, as we slowed to make the turn into the still channel of muddy water, the first pink dolphin arced up and out of the water,  not more than  fifty feet away from the tug.  This time the tugboat captain just about leaped out of the boat.   The children shouted with glee as the pink dolphin brought many of her cousins. We saw four pink dolphins from time to time as we slowly moved down the channel, thick Amazonian jungle on both sides.  We were given an escort!

The hotel was a group of native thatched huts sitting clustered together about a half mile from where the channel ended. We walked in, carrying Our luggage. It was hot and steamy, near dusk. The odors were all so different and yet familiar to me. By the time we arrived, it was nearly dark and, as we were led to our hut with a flashlight, I had a premonition that a jaguar was around but was too tired to do anything about it.

Around five a.m. the next morning, I awoke refreshed and vibrating with anticipation - over what, I didn't know. I woke my husband and we agreed to take an early morning exploratory hike. There was a small stream and a wooden bridge a a mile from the village. As we walked hand in hand down a hard-packed trail, the sky took on a surrealistic yellow topaz tone, the haze and fog hanging in the tall, silent jungle trees and vines, the muted glow of Father Sun, not yet risen, tingeing the semi-translucent fog. I felt as if I were in the Twilight Zone, as if I were, indeed, on one of my shamanic journeys to another dimension.

As we neared the small wooden bridge, I anchored to a halt. There, sitting at front of the bridge, was a fu!l-grown, male jaguar! I knew, as I jerked to a stop, that my medicine teachers, who had been telling me I was going to come into jaguar medicine, hadn't been kidding. As the jaguar, who was lying down at the foot of the bridge, met my eyes he rose to a sitting position. I dropped my husband's hand and said, "He wants us to follow him,” and I took a step forward. The jaguar moved slowly and sleekly across the bridge. We were no more than a hundred feet behind him. At one point, the jaguar stopped, turned and looked back to see if we were coming. We were, so he continued across the bridge.

My heart was beating hard. I was thrilled and scared at the same time.  After all, the jaguar was wild, not tame.  The jaguar moved off the bridge, turned right and went down a steep bank to a small area of green grass.  There was a small stream full of pebbles, about three feet wide and a foot deep.  The jaguar stood in the grass, looking up at us.  I felt his mental urging to come join him.   I smiled, breathless.

"Let's go down! It won't hurt us," I told Dave.  He didn’t look so sure, far more tense and wary than I was.  We left the bridge, sliding down the slippery bank.  The jaguar waited  until we were both there, then moved to the edge of the bank.  He looked at the trickling stream.   Jaguars are great swimmers and love the water.  I received the mental impression he wanted to get into the stream and wanted us to sprinkle water over him.  I told my husband,  and was given a rolled-eyes reaction.   Eagerly, I moved to within a few feet of the jaguar. The cat turned and stopped.  He daintily moved into the crystal clear water and laid down in it. The water was barely a foot in depth.  My heart was pounding with joy.  I knelt at the edge and cupped water across his yellow- and black-spotted back. My husband came closer, convinced that it was safe enough. The cat hadn't snarled, shown his teeth or made any move that looked threatening. We both knelt there, sluicing cool water across the jaguar's back for at least ten minutes.  It felt as if we were out of time and space; that we were in another world or realm.  I was a place where human and animal were no longer enemies.

I was in ecstasy over what was happening, a joy flooding me that was so keen that it was like an ache. I remembered Coffee-Chili's story about getting medicine the old-fashioned  way -- with a live animal, up front and close.  He was an old Navajo grandfather who lived with us at Fort Wingate, New Mexico.  I recognized the dangers, too, for I knew this jaguar was not tame in the least. As we got to our feet, the jaguar moved languidly out of the water and came to sit at our feet in the grass to lick himself off. At that point, I begged my husband to go get the camera, which was back at the hut so we could have a picture of this. My students would believe my story but I wanted a photo to back it up. After all, how many times would people, nowadays, receive their medicine in physical reality?

Dave trotted across the bridge, up the hill and disappeared.  I moved about ten feet away from the jaguar and hunkered down in a crouched position, facing him. At that point, I felt the need to sing him my personal song, and I did. There was a surreal sensation about the whole time I was there alone with him, but being a shaman, it didn't bother me. I remained focused on what I wanted to do, which was to honor him by singing him my song. The cat continued to lick his paws as I sang. The instant I stopped singing, his head snapped up and he stared intently at me. 

I froze. The jaguar's eyes, once huge black pupils set in a thin crescent of gold, suddenly went to mere black pinpoints upon a blazing yellow background. I felt myself being forcefully pulled out of my physical body, my astral form crashing into the Jaguar’s body.

 I was trapped inside him!  For a moment, I was confused.  And then I understood what he’d done.  He’d literally, with his intense look, jerked my astral body out of my physical body.  When this is done, the person can’t move.  Mind spinning, I recalled that Manuel had said the Jaguar froze its prey, jumped on it and then killed it.  I felt the Jaguar surround me.  I felt his strong heart beat.  I felt his satisfaction that he had trapped me.  I could feel all of his emotions and it was an amazing moment.  I felt that he was going to pounce on my frozen physical body momentarily.  Fear and anxiety soared through me.  How could I get OUT of this cat’s physical body?  Desperate, all of the years of training, all of the times I practiced single focus, I willed myself OUT of the cat.   I felt like a rubber band snapped out of the cat.  In a second, I was flying those ten feet back into my own body. As I slammed back to myself, I knew without a doubt that when I had escaped the jaguar's body he was not only going to leap on me, but was going to kill me. When one's astral body is out of the physical body, one cannot move a muscle; one is literally frozen to the spot, or collapses onto that spot, unable to move.

As I thudded back into my body, I rose in one simultaneous motion, jumped up, turned around in midair and hit that dirt bank at a dead run.   Just as I scrambled to the top of the bank, I jerked a look across my shoulder. The jaguar had leaped, was midair and landed exactly where I'd been frozen milliseconds before! With a cry of sheer terror, I ran across the wooden bridge and up the hill as fast as my adrenaline and legs could take me. When I got to the top of the hill, I met my husband who was running back with camera in hand. In a panic, I looked back. The jaguar had not followed me. Instead, he was standing in the grassy area, looking at me and switching his tail back and forth.  He was very angry.  I could feel him as much as I could feel myself.  It was at that point, I realized we had traded spirits.  In doing so, I was in constant communication with him--as he was with me.  His ears were flattened against his broad head and he stalked around the small grass parcel, furious that he hadn’t killed me.  

Gasping for breath, my heart slamming repeatedly into my ribs, I told my husband what had happened. He wanted to leave that moment, but I begged him to come back down to the bridge with me. I wanted to get a photo of that jaguar! I was frightened of going back because now I could face the jaguar as if I were still inside of him.   I realized, as we approached the bridge, that the age-old way of trading medicine between a human and animal had taken place.  I mentally told the jaguar what I wanted. He was pacing angrily back and forth on the grass, glaring at me. He was pissed, to say the least. But, I felt his respect for me too. I took advantage of it. I told my husband to get far enough away to take a photo of me leaning down to touch the jaguar. I wasn't at all sure if the jaguar would leap up and attack me.  It was a chance I was willing to take.

I saw him start to get up. Without hesitation I touched his broad, sleek skull and then turned to face the camera and smile!  My husband took the photo.  The only one left on the roll of film.  I prayed that it would come out.   Instantly, I jerked my hand back and climbed back onto the bridge. I thanked the jaguar and told him not to follow me.  He sat up, staring up at me.  I quickly left at a fast walk, looking over my shoulder from time to time.   The jaguar laid back down in the grass beneath the shade of a tree next to the stream.

Eileen Nauman aka Lindsay McKenna with the wild Jaguar in the Amazon jungle of Brazil shortly after she traded spirits with it.
Back at the village, I excitedly shared my experience with Manuel. He gave me an incredulous look and shook his head. Here's what he told me: Jaguars are known to be powerful spirit beings who have the capacity to "freeze' their quarry into immobility with just hypnotizing look from their eyes. Onci (the Portuguese word for a jaguar) is the only animal in the world with this skill.      

Now I knew from first-hand experience how a jaguar accomplishes such a feat and I lived to tell about it! Further, Manuel told me that in Central and South America, jaguar medicine is considered to be the most powerful and the most sought after medicine. He didn't say why that was mine to discover on my own. He said many medicine men trained their students for years to come face-to-face with a jaguar, sing them their song and then exchange spirits with them. Unfortunately, Manuel told me sadly, most of the students ended up either dead or so badly mauled that they remained crippled for the rest of their lives. Amazed by his facts, I felt not only blessed, but lucky to be alive. 

That trading of spirits happened in October, 1992, and I can honestly say my life hasn't been the same since. The jaguar now accompanies me in altered states whenever I work in someone's behalf. But I'm also discovering that jaguar medicine has a powerful connection to femaleness and feminine consciousness. I understand from Manuel that there is a jaguar cult and/or society in Central America, so who knows? Maybe someday, if it is meant to be, I'll meet others who have faced the jaguar and lived to tell about it, too.

From a writing standpoint, my alliance and association energetically with the Jaguar from the Amazon gave me some brilliant ideas.  My first book, Heart of the Jaguar, a single title release for Silhouette in January 1999, was my first paranormal book. The hero was a Jaguar shape shifter.  And the book soared to the USA Today Bestseller list two weeks in a row.  I then fashioned an entire world based upon my Jaguar’s creativity.  Heart of the Warrior and Heart of Stone followed.  These two books were instrumental in creating the Black Jaguar Squadron.  This was a group of US Army women pilots who flew the vaunted Apache  helicopter gunship and stopped drugs from being flown out of Peru to the USA.  I wrote a number of books on BJS.  And readers loved them.  

Today, I have a second BJS squadron series.  I’m writing it for Silhouette Romantic Suspense (in April, 2011, it becomes Harlequin Romantic Suspense).  This second squadron is a spin-off from the first based down in Peru.  BJS 60 is based in Afghanistan and flies against the Taliban on the border with Pakistan.  Again, an all-woman military pilot squadron.  Readers are very happy to have the BJS back and so am I.  My latest BJS book, Operation: Forbidden, came out February 15, 2011 with Silhouette Romantic Suspense.  

Thus far, my jaguar spirit guide has been an incredible gift to me creatively speaking.  And whether readers want to believe that I have an ongoing alliance with  him, I’ll leave up to them.  They say Truth is stranger than fiction.  I know it is!

Visit Lindsay at her:  Website  or  Twitter

 Operation: Forbidden 

Check in Thursday to find out how Lynda K. Scott's alien werewolves cam to be.


Pat said...

All I can say is WOW!

Eileen Nauman said...

Evelyn, thanks so much for inviting me over to share my Jaguar experience. I'm a great believer in writers should write what they know :-)
Warmly, Lindsay McKenna

Evelyn M. Byrne said...

Lindsay, Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a compelling blog. It is wonderful having some of my favorite authors tell their stories.