That is Deerhorn…two e’s and no a’s. I have to clarify the spelling quite often. I don’t mind. I mean, it COULD be spelled differently. But it is not. I am often asked if Deerhorn is my REAL name? My answer is always “Yes”. No, it is not the name I was born into. That name belongs to my bloodline in this life. But from the time I was a small child my spiritual teachers would say to me, “You know, young man, you name is actually Deerhorn.” This would always surprise me, because none of my spiritual teachers had met each other, yet so many seemed to know this one small, yet very significant, fact about me. My name was something OTHER than what I was born into. I honestly did not know what to do with that information, so I just kept it to myself. For about 35 years I kept it to myself. My mother, my eldest sister and my best friend…none of them knew this because I would not talk about it.
Then, shortly after the birth of my first child, I had an experience that was quite intense. My wife and I were laying in bed, just about to drift off to sleep, when a bat flew through our bedroom. It was not a physical bat. It was a shadow figure bat. I knew what that meant. My life was about to change dramatically as bat is the spirit animal of the Shaman’s Death, meaning that the old self (or at least the aspects of the old self that were no longer appropriate to who one was about to become) was about to be shed somehow. And a new “me” was about to be born. So when my wife was startled and asked, “What was that?” as this shadow bat flew through the room, my answer was, “That was a shadow bat. I have to go. My body might get very cold and I might stop breathing for a bit, but do NOT try to wake me and do NOT call an ambulance.”
As I left my body to follow the bat, I heard my wife’s frightened voice saying, “Whaaaaat?” And then I was no longer anywhere near my body. I was in an entirely different realm. Bat led me to a cave in a mountain forest. As I entered I thought to myself, “I really am not a fan of close spaces and this could get really claustrophobic for me.” And the cave narrowed for a bit but then it opened up to a much larger cavern. There were torches lit on the walls and there was a large fire in the middle of a circle gathering. All this was beside a luminescent pool of water. My Spirit Guide, Anakah, met me and welcomed me to the circle. He introduced me to the gathering of the shamans from all around the world and some from beyond this world. I was so honoured to meet them. There was one who was in charge of the gathering. He reminded me of a Viking, with a very large stature and clothed in hides and leather. His beard was braided and adorned with beads, his hair had similar adornments. His wrists had wide cuffs around them, both in braided leather. As the ritual took place I was also aware that there was something swimming around in the pool, but I could not see exactly what it was.
I was told to stand, facing the circle of shamans, with my back to the pool. As I stood there, each shaman spoke to me in turn, telling me about myself…things that only I could know and things that I would have never in a million years thought possible. This part of the ritual took what seemed like forever. When it was done I was asked if I understood what was just said. I indicated that I comprehended most of it, but that some of it would likely become more clear as time went on. I was asked if I was comfortable with what was told to me? My answer was “yes”. Then the Viking shaman guy picked up a dipper, dipped it into the water of the pool and scooped up some water for me to sip. I did as I was invited to do.
Suddenly my entire body went stone cold. I was not sure if I could even feel my limbs. I began to shiver and shake. I was then abruptly aware that my stomach felt like acid was ripping through it. I buckled over in pain, and when I could stand up the Viking shaman gave me a light push… and I fell backwards into the pool of what seemed like acid water. I thrashed around in it as the acid water slowly ate through my clothing and flesh. Then I found out what was in the pool with me. It was an electric eel. The eel bit me several times in several places. Each bite brought with it another jolt of electricity coarsing through my body. My flesh quickly fell away and I was left with just my bones and my consciousness.
The eel then transformed itself into a dolphin. The dolphin swam up to me and telepathically said to me, “Hold on tight to my dorsal fin!” I grabbed onto it and the dolphin took be for a swim through the pool, down through a cavern and out into the ocean. As it swam with me at a speed that felt like a million miles per hour it spoke to me of “manna” or “energy” and how it can ebb and flow like the tides and with the phases of the moon and that I am very connected to this flow of energy and that I need to also balance it with the fire energy that is within me…the fire of the sun…the fire of the hearth…the fire of lightning…the fire of the volcano…the fire at the core of the earth…the fire that is deep within us and ignites our spontaneity and can never be extinguished, for it is part of our Spirit. Until then I had been very cautious around fire, having had a few very dangerous encounters with it. But as dolphin spoke in such a soothing voice, I realised that I feared fire and the only reason I feared it is because I had not understood it well. As the understanding of it lit up within me I could feel that I was now simply respectful of it instead of afraid. I looked forward to more learning about it and to getting to know it much better. This and many other lessons were shared with me as dolphin swam through the ocean with me. And then we returned to the pool.
As the skeleton me emerged from the pool my flesh returned. I stood there naked and cold. Anakah draped me in furs and I was given a tea to warm me up. I was told that this was my initiation in this lifetime into Shamanism. I was told that this is what I had been practising all my life but was never named for what it truly is, and for many, many lifetimes before. With that my mind was flooded with memories of other lifetimes in which my name was Deerhorn. It was like a flashing life review, only of many lifetimes. The memories are part of what I draw on to, in this day and age and in this lifetime, perform my healing rituals. I was told that the name, Deerhorn, was something that was not shamanic as such, but that was even deeper in meaning and that I have worn that name throughout the ages. I was then told by the Viking shaman, as he placed a finger on my heart chakra, “Wear the name. NOW.”
Suddenly I was back in my body. It was cold and I shook from head to toe. My wife was very relieved to see me back, as I had indeed stopped breathing for quite some time. But during that time something else happened in my absence. Someone had come to the door in the middle of the night and pounded on it. Apparently my body rose straight up from the bed and went to the door and, in a voice that my wife did not know, demanded to know who was there. Someone asked for a person that was not living at our home. The voice, which was deep, scratchy and, apparently, quite foreboding, said, “He does not live her. Now go away.” The house apparently resonated with that voice. The people ran….RAN away. Then my body made its way back to bed and lay there until I returned.
It took me a bit of time to integrate what had happened. But once I did, I said to my wife, “I need to change my name to Deerhorn.” She researched how that is done legally and I went through the process. So…my name IS Deerhorn. It is not a First Nations name. It is a name that can be found in the Celtic background of my ancestors. But that may just mean that in a past life or two I was one of my own ancestors this lifetime. But that does not matter much to me. Because my name has nothing to do with any particular culture or race. It is who I am. I am the Spirit of Deerhorn. Deerhorn is MY NAME.