Volume 2, Number 6                                            Journeys in Hungary                                                     November 2007

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What's New at CEH
Upcoming Issues
Your Feedback
Book Reviews:
Shamans and Traditions
  Shamanism: Selected       Writings of Vilmos Dioszegi
Journal Review: Shaman
Photos from the Conference
Article: Travel Stories
Photos of Visit with Bekki's Family
Upcoming Workshops:
    A Short List

Activists' Corner: WWF and more
Bekki's Art: Eagle Rattle
Submission Guidelines

This issue is all about our trip to Hungary in June.  Reviews of written material from the conference and from the International Society for Shamanistic Research, which sponsored the conference, an article about the trip, photographs, and other materials we hope you will enjoy and gain from. While we can't give you the whole story here, hopefully we can give you a short "tour" of our experiences, and resources to find out more.

What is not widely known in this country, except by scholars of shamanism, is that Hungary has been home to many of the greatest scholars of shamanism. Vilmos Dioszegi is unquestionably the father of shamanistic scholarship in Europe and the West, despite the fact that the majority of his work was undertaken when Hungary was under Soviet occupation-- it is a miracle that he was able to do so much valuable work with the repressive politics of the Soviets to deal with. Those regimes were notoriously hostile to shamanism to begin with. When he died an early death in 1972, it was to Mihaly Hoppal that he passed the flame, and Dr. Hoppal has carried it well, as Crow points out in the reviews below.

Also I want to apologize (hopefully for the last time) for the lapse in publication of the newsletter. We're working on catching up with our projected schedule.  We had e-mail glitches throughout the summer that slowed us down. Additionally we have gone through a change in computers and a temporary loss of email addresses, hopefully all remedied now. If you are one of our workshop contact people for your area, it would help us if you would please check with folks on your workshop list to make sure they are getting the newsletter. Another one is also in the works and should be out within the week. With luck we should be getting caught up in the next few months, so if you have been waiting to submit material please send it at your earliest convenience.

Bright Blessings,
Bekki and Crow

Upcoming Issues of the Newsletter

Issue 10, July: Living Shamanically: The Food Issue,
deadline to submit: 12/30/2007
We are looking for articles, reviews, etc on wild food and foraging; slow food; food as medicine (particularly TCM and Ayurvedic approaches) for this issue
Issue 11, August: Healing Techniques, Take 2 , revised deadline to submit: 1/15/2008
We are looking for articles, reviews, etc on bodywork techniques, energy healing, and other techniques which complement or enhance shamanic healing
Issue 12, September:Shamanicallly:Integrating Shamanic Spiritual Practice into Mainstream Life and Culture, revised deadline to submit: 2/1/2008 In what ways has practicing shamanism, personally or professionally, made a difference in your life? Please share...
Thanks to Michelle Sampson for suggesting this theme!
Issue 13, Living Shamanically: Healing Our Companion Animals deadline to  submit: 2/15/2008

If you have an idea for a theme for an upcoming newsletter we'd love to hear from you.

                                                                                          Grandmother Twylah
We received the news recently that Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, the Grandmother and carrier of wisdom for the Seneca Wolf Clan, passed away on the 21st of August. Known for many things, she was
the spiritual guide behind the Medicine Cards, and hosted many spiritual gatherings  and teachings, at which she welcomed all those who were sincere in their spiritual quest, regardless of ethnicity or nationality. She was a gracious person  and carried much wisdom.  Even though I was only privileged to spend a limited amount of time in her presence, I had a number of friends who were in her circle, and I came to respect her highly and care about her deeply.
Our hearts and prayers go out to all of those who mourn her.
-- Submitted by Bekki

Your Feedback

It Works

Shamanic practice works. Simple as that.

For a period of 7 months this year, my wife & I were faced with selling or renting one property & obtaining another. There were many twists & turns on the path & decisions to make along the way. As with anything BIG in this game of life, we do what all good people do, take it to the shaman! Crow worked with us every step of the way, to check in with the other realm & see what the allies, ancestors & anybody else willing to listen advised. When human things like self-doubt & fear & stress creep in, journey work & communication with the allies & following their guidance is the way to go. Within days of the most recent piece of work at our November journey circle, where Crow again journeyed on the issue & the group sent healing energy & intention with me as the channel directing the flow, the townhouse was fully rented with 2 stable tenants!

Rik Fire
Budapest: Parliament; Church spires (foreground) are adjacent to the Institute.

Conference Photos
Below: Conference participants head for the art installation in the
beech forest, a 20 minute walk from the retreat center. Dobogoko, the
site of the center, is said to be the center of the world. Pictured are
scholars from Germany, Italy, U.S., Serbia, and India.
Opposite: A 3 piece Hungarian dance band specializing in music of
Transylvania; a conference participant sitting in on drums. On the wall are photos of Siberian shamans taken by one of the scholars.



Mihaly Hoppal and Vilmos Dioszegi:  An Appreciation
Reviews by Crow

In preparing the Newsletter about our trip to Hungary, Bekki asked me to review Shamans and Traditions by Mihaly Hoppal and Shamanism, Selected Writings of  Vilmos Dioszegi, edited by Mihaly Hoppal.  But how can one simply "review" the work of giants?

On our way to Hungary we had the joy of spending a few days in East Sussex with Chris and Sharon. Discussing the upcoming shamanic conference Chris, very reasonably, asked, "Why is Hungary such a centre of shamanic study?"  A few days later, sitting by luxurious happenstance in the office of Professor Hoppal in Budapest, chatting quite unexpectedly with the man himself, I asked him the same question! 

His answer was quite simple: he, Hoppal, is the reason! (And this is quite frankly true, Michael Harner not withstanding...Editor). After a suitably dramatic pause (he is a great raconteur) he quickly pointed out that it is not him and his work alone but also the legacy of Dioszegi which he has carried since his mentor's untimely death in 1972. 

Dioszegi published his first paper on shamanism in 1947, shortly after he became a fellow of the Ethnographic Museum in Budapest.  His 106th publication was the year he died and there have been five posthumous works: a mighty oeuvre, most of it based on original fieldwork in Siberia and Mongolia, complimented by extensive museological study in original collections in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Siberia and Mongolia.

Dioszegi was a genius on many levels. As with so many Eastern European scholars, he mastered numerous languages and wrote prolifically in many of them. E.G., he is the author of the definitive (1974) Encyclopaedia Britannica article Shamanism which in nine pages outlined, explained and laid out major controversies about our topic (p1). As one can see in his Selected Writings, he was comfortable with many of the major styles of ethnography including the study of a society (How to Become a Shaman among the Sagais, p27), tracing out material cultural interconnections (The Origins of the Evenki "Shaman Mask" of Transbaikalia, p107), and analyzing details of shamanic songs (A Nanai Shaman Song Sung at Healing Rites p215). He did the ground work, set the pace and direction for much of the shamanic research being done today by scholars from all over the world as presented, for instance, at the conference Bekki and I attended.

Selected Writings contains reprints in English of 11 of Doszegi's key papers, an Introduction to his Life and Works by Mihaly Hoppal and a comprehensive Bibliography.  To own this classic of shamanic scholarship is well worthwhile, both for its 300 packed pages of detailed content and as a piece of history.  If you are interested we encourage you to contact Akadmiai Kiado,, e.mail:  for details.

Shamanistic scholarship would simply not be where it is today without the tireless efforts of Mihaly Hoppal.  After hosting and overseeing the intense five days of our conference he flew off to Russia for a summer of field work with shamanic peoples.  After a brief few days back in Budapest this courtly  scholar and charming gentleman flies off for more research, this time in the outer reaches of China.  He researches and writes endlessly, directs two Hungarian research institutes, is the long standing President of the International Society for Shamanistic Research and Co-editor of its journal SHAMAN.  He has certainly comfortably taken on Dioszegi's mantle and carries on the work so well begun.

Shamans and Traditions is a new (2007) collection of his work including 15 articles and 45 fascinating illustrations.  He looks at our field of interest from many different perspectives.  He draws on plenty of ethnographic work,  his own and that of others (3.Eco-Animism of Siberian Shamanhood p17 and 12. Tracing Shamans in Tuva p111). He also takes a broader, deeper and more philosophical look at shamanistic studies (2. Is Shamanism a Folk Religion? p11 and 15. Shamanic Narratives as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind). 

One of the most fascinating aspects of my Hungarian experience this spring was the discovery of how significant the country's shamanic roots are to many Hungarians today.  The national TV network (which broadcasts on a worldwide satellite system to the many Hungarians outside their national borders) filmed many aspects of our conference.  They later broadcast a week of Shamanism around the world including a daily interview with scholars at the conference (including Bekki and myself) and a whole day of material about worldwide shamanism and how it helps to understand contemporary Hungarian culture.  This was an interest of  Vilmos Dioszegi and Professor Hoppal is now in the forefront of this work.  Three articles in Shamans and Traditions reflect this: 9. Shamanism and the Belief System of the Ancient Hungarians p77,  10. Traces of Shamanism in Hungarian Folk Beliefs p82, and 11. The Role of Shamanism in Hungarian Cultural Identity p.90.

Shamans and Traditions is also worth adding to your library for all the above reasons. It too is available from Akadmiai Kiado,, e.mail: Any of our readers in the Athens area, or visiting here, are welcome to have a closer look at these books and at the journal, SHAMAN.  They are all in the library here.

Photos taken of a slide presentation at the conference. The man in the foreground
is looking at a new drum prepared for the woman anthrolopogist who has been working with them and is being initiated as a new shaman.  
Testing the drum for the new shaman.

 Shamanizing while the young ones look on. Notice the reindeer skin boots the shaman is wearing, and the face of the spirit depicted on the drum. This drum shape is typical of the region and group affiliation.

Detail of a shaman's drum. In the two tribal groups where these photos were taken, the drums have a Y-shaped handle for grasping. Dr. Hoppal
gave a slide presentation which covered the many types of shaman's drums  in use across a wide geographic and ethnic range, including the varieties of structural and decorative differences.

Journal Review
by Crow

SHAMAN, An International Journal for Shamanistic Research

Journal of the International Society for Shamanistic Research (ISSR)

published by Molnar and Kelemen Oriental Publishers, Budapest, from Spring 1993 to present

reviewed by Crow

The Church of Earth Healing is the proud owner of a complete run of Shaman, including Volume 15, Numbers 1 and 2, which was distributed to everyone who attended the recent 8th International Conference of the ISSR (see elsewhere in this Newsletter for more details of the Conference).

For anyone and everyone who needs to learn more about shamanism, worldwide, reading this journal is an absolute must.  We read it cover to cover and every one of our copies is flagged with numerous colourful sticky notes, recalling us to articles read and not forgotten, to be used in our own teaching and writing. Reading Shaman is not necessarily an easy task.  Most of the authors are world‑class scholars in many academic fields reporting on their research, often fieldwork, with depth and intensity and often in technical language. (Alas, the inner workings of musicological analyses of shaman's songs still quite escape me.) Still, it is worthwhile, especially with the inclusion of photographs since 2001 and colour illustrations since 2005.

The very first issue we received was V.2,n.1, Spring 1994.  It opened with Language, Symbol and Dance: An Analysis of  Historicity in Movement and Meaning by Laszlo Kurti (a famous Hungarian scholar of folklore); perhaps not a title that would draw your eye.  Bekki picked it up, started to read and was dumbfounded for almost 60 pages. This followed on the time she had been doing very deep ancestor work and this article, about shamanic survivals in Hungarian folk culture, supported virtually all of what she had learned through her ancestor journeys.  Kurti's work was seminal in Bekki's search for her Hungarian roots.  What we did not fully realize until the 8th Conference is that the documentation of shamanic survivals in Hungarian culture is a very important driving force for many scholars there, perhaps even a major theme in the contemporary Hungarian search for cultural roots.

There is a fair amount of theoretical discussion in Shaman.  Two of my favourite articles along that line were by James A. Overton in V.6, 1998: Shamanic Realism: Latin American Literature and the Shamanic Perspective in v.1, and Shamanism and Clinical Hypnosis: A Brief Comparative Analysis in v.2.   Overton was in the Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego. 

In approaching literature described as possessing 'fantastic realism,'  his intention was the application of a theory, "based on the identification and contextualization of shamanic and/or shamanistic characters, elements, and symbolism presented in these texts and habitually conjoined to formulate a world view whose cultural roots can be directly or indirectly traced to shamanic origins." 

While accomplishing his ends he presents numerous powerful descriptions and definitions very useful to understanding any shamanic phenomena. E.g.: "Still pulsing with the remnants of shamanic or shamanistic esoterica, the legends, myths, religions and literatures of many societies represent multicoloured and contoured leaves sprouting from a richly ramified common trunk with roots sunk deep into the soil of our Paleolithic prehistory."

In comparing therapeutic hypnosis and shamanism he lead us to numerous insights about both practices and concludes, "clinical hypnosis in its most comprehensive sense is simply a cultural and historical adaptation of shamanism, the most widespread and archaic spiritual and therapeutic tradition

There is a 'must read' article in Volume 15
!  Ede Frecska (Chief of Psychiatry at the National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Budapest with 30 years of practice, research and teaching in the US and Europe) and Luis Eudardo Luna (Senior Lecturer at the Swedish School of Economics, Helsinki, and Director of Wasiwaska, Research Center for the Study of Psychointegrator Plants, Visionary Art and Consciousness in Florianopolis, Brazil) have written The Shamanic Healer: Master of Nonlocal Information?

This fascinatingly complex and humourously written article considers the failure of the scientific paradigm to understand the power and effectiveness of shamanic journeying. It fails because "The prevailing neuroscientific paradigm considers information processing within the central nervous system as occurring through hierarchically organized and interconnected neural networks." These networks are simply not fine and complex enough to perceive shamanic levels of reality.  However, "When the size of the hierarchical components reaches the nanometer range and the number of elements exceeds that of the neuroaxonal system, an interface emerges for a possible transition between neurochemical and quantum physical events." And, wouldn't you know it, our beloved shamanic realities are, as Terry Pratchett would say, definitely 'Quantum.'

My brief sentences and quotations can not summarize 30 pages of closely reasoned presentation! Please read this article.  Yes, for a couple of bucks for copying and postage, I will be happy to send you a copy. Or, better yet, write  to Molar and Kelemen Oriental Publishers ( and subscribe to Shaman (it is costly and it includes membership in the ISSR). You won't regret it.

Akademiai Kiado, Budapest, publishes a 40 page booklet listing Books on Shamanism, Ethnography, Linguistics, Musicology which it is worth obtaining.(website:, e.mail:

Travel Stories

This summer brought me a dream come true. I traveled to Hungary, land of my ancestors, to attend the 8th conference of the International Society for Shamanistic Research, and to present with Crow a paper on the work we have dedicated ourselves to for the last 25 years-- teaching the healing art of shamanism to contemporary Westerners, practicing that art as healers ourselves. It was a magnificent and challenging journey from beginning to end. It was also a journey to
the land of my mother's people, for spiritual renewal and renewal of ties with my family and the ancestors, particularly poignant because my connection with the ancestors is very strong, but contact with the family still in Hungary had been largely broken, due to the Soviet presence there after WW II, and to language barriers in my generation. My mother's grandparents all came from Hungary in the years before 1900, and though my grandparents spoke Hungarian and my mother learned it as a child, I have only had the food, the music and the folk dances to tie me to the culture and the land.

Before I tell the story though, thanks are due. Thanks first of all to Spirit and the spirits, especially the ancestor spirits, for guidance and help. For many reasons, looking back on it, it feels like the answer to a prayer and the gold at the end of an ancestral rainbow.

Thanks secondly to Crow, who first brought the possibility up for consideration, after pursuing it quietly, getting details and making contact with the conference organizers. At times when I despaired and was ready to throw in the towel, he was supportive and encouraging, holding faith. Sometimes when one wants something very much, it is easier to give up than to face disappointment.

Thanks thirdly to all of those friends and students who supported, with journeywork (thank you, Athens Drumming Circle!), good thoughts and energy, and donations. Without those it would not have been possible. Thanks especially to Chris Forester, friend and benefactor in England, who just weeks before we were to go called us to check on plans, and made payment arrangements for the tickets so we could stop sweating.

Thanks to the president, Dr Mihaly Hoppal, and staff, Cornelia Buday and David Somfai Kara, of the ISSR,  and Adam Molnar, folklorist, publisher and travel consultant, who worked so hard to produce a quality conference, and who made us -- mavericks that we are -- welcome, who valued our contribution and made our time in Hungary comfortable, joyful and a wonderful learning experience.

Thanks to my family in Hungary, who welcomed us with open arms, especially my cousin Andras, who became like a brother to me. On very short notice he took time from a busy schedule to show us the sights and take us visiting.

So-- the travelog. I am including remarks from Crow's memoirs of the trip in red.

We left from the Columbus airport, flying into London's Gatwick Airport on Tuesday morning, where Chris picked us up and drove us to his place in West Sussex. We got to meet Willow, Chris and Sharon's baby born this past New Year's Eve, and had some time to get over jet lag with a couple of chilled out rest days, spending time with the family. I spent some of that time teaching Brogan (Sharon's 13 year old daughter and Chris' new step-daughter) how to bead, and we took part in a ceremony in which I became Willow's co-Goddess Mummy, sharing the honor with one of Sharon's good friends, Kai. We had a lovely time getting to know the family better and it helped us get prepared for the next phase of our journey.

On Friday morning Chris took us to the airport and we took Malev, the Hungarian airline, to Budapest, catching a taxi to the Folklore Institute. We were to take the tour bus up to the conference center, but the bus was full for the first trip, so we sat in Dr. Hoppal's office at the Institute, talking with interesting people for several hours before finally catching the 4:00 bus to the center. It was there in Dr. Hoppal's office that we learned more of my cousin Andras' history. Dr. Hoppal was not only his mentor but his good friend. Andras has advanced degrees in both anthropology and psychology, and a deep interest in shamanism. This was an unexpected gift from the universe! We also had a chance to stroll  along the Danube looking at interesting architecture since the Institute was near the river in a historic part of town.

The conference center, Hotel Manreza, which is run by the Jesuits, is about an hour and a bit north of Budapest, in the Pilis mountains. This is what is called the Great Bend, which is where the Danube, which flows through Northwestern Hungary, begins to flow south. It is incredibly beautiful country, largely forested and pristine, with small neat villages and small farms scattered throughout the foothills and up into the higher elevations. The terrain is rather like the Hocking Hills country near Dragon Waters, where Crow and I live in Southeast Ohio. Lots of oak, ash, beech, birch and similar trees, but also many elders, which were blooming profusely when we were there, hawthorns, some evergreens, and also trees I was unfamiliar with. The Hungarians are also avid gardeners and we saw vegetable and flower gardens everywhere.

The conference began that evening, with the dinner meal. The food was incredible, fresh and home-cooked, with lots of Hungarian cuisine and also other options, including vegetarian food. The best coffee I have ever had, strong but small cups! (not quite espresso) and lots of good quality teas. Lunch and dinner were served buffet style, with two soups and several main courses, and breakfast (also buffet) included eggs, real Hungarian style sausages, homemade breads, as well as cooked cereals and granolas and pastries. The desserts were very good but I almost never had them. Crow was in seventh heaven. So was I! It even inspired Crow to try some Hungarian cooking at home. When we "eat Hungarian" at Dragon Waters it is usually my cooking, from my grandmother's recipes.

...the food at the conference center was excellent and the two meals we had during our day of conference touring (see below)were extraordinary. One of those was at a game restaurant where we enjoyed both venison, in the goulash soup, and wild boar in an exquisitely appropriate sauce of 'fruit de bois'.  Oh yes, the desert was huge baked apples stuffed with hazel nut paste and enrobe with creamy custard. (Ed note: he forgot to mention the pitchers of Hungarian red wine!!)

After dinner on Friday a group of Hungarians who practice contemporary neo-shamanism arrived to open the conference with a drumming circle including singing shamanic chants and songs in Hungarian and English. We heard the familiar "Long-wing Feathers" chant in both English and Hungarian! Afterwards shamanic prayers for peace and the healing of the earth, and some introductory remarks by Dr. Hoppal.

Saturday morning the conference began in earnest. The itinerary for Saturday, Sunday and Monday was much the same: breakfast at 8:00, then scholarly presentations beginning at 9:00, a coffee/tea break with Hungarian pastries at 11:00, then more papers and presentations till Lunch at 1:00. Then afternoon sessions till dinner break at 5:00, again with a mid afternoon coffee break. There were some ethnographic films in the daytime, but most were relegated to the evening, which began around 7. In some cases the films and evening programs didn't finish till 11:00 or midnight. Each daytime session began with a panel of three papers by prominent scholars in the field of shamanic research, then the rest of us presented our work. There was then time for questions from the participants.

Crow and I presented our paper the first day, and it was very well received. (We plan to post the paper on our web site sometime this winter as part of an update to the site). In addition to films and lectures about current fieldwork with tribal and shamanic cultures in Siberia, Asia, South America and Malaysia, there were presentations by people working with neo-shamanic techniques in a variety of settings in Europe and the United States.

There were no more that 50 of us all together:  several of the world's leading scholars of shamanism, researchers in numerous fields besides anthropology and ethnology, new scholars (in their 20s, just finishing first degrees) and old (in their late 60s, early 70s with many degrees), from Hungary, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, US (Ohio, Missouri, Maryland, DC, NYC), China, Japan, but no one now living or working in the UK. And one tribal shaman from Mongolia, there with a Chinese interpreter.  The official language for presentations was English but what was spoken in the dining hall could be any of the above. One often heard Russian/ Mongolian/Siberian dialects since much of the fieldwork is being done in those languages. Happily, most people were very kind and multilingual so they were able to pamper us in English.  I was happy to find that I can still understand a bit of German.

A sampling of the presentations made to the conference: A German couple use shamanic journeywork in their psychotherapeutic practice, working with clients using the ecstatic postures of Dr. Felicitas Goodman*. Another couple, Hungarians, who also use shamanic journeywork in their psychotherapeutic practice, work with a core-shamanic approach similar to what is common among neo-shamans in the United States, and is not derived from a tribal tradition. An Austrian music therapist working with adolescent cancer patients, autistic children, and adults with brain injuries (using music, drumming and movement based in Sufi practices) and a Hungarian psychologist doing research into brain states and the effects of drumming presented a film and papers.
An American theologian who teaches at Georgetown University is a member of one of Felicitas Goodman's on-going groups in the DC area and presented a paper about their work with one of the shamanic postures highlighted in her books and manuscripts. Our paper of course was also in the category of neo-shamanic revival.

A major focus for this 8th meeting of the conference was the survival and revival of shamanism both in the west and among tribal peoples.  Our presentation, right after lunch on the first day of the conference, lead off this segment and was very well received. Uniquely, we had a small altar in front of us on the speakers' table and Bekki sang in the Ancestors before I read the body of the paper.  What a rapt audience we had! There were 30 plus folks in our audience, about average for a well attended session.  Unfortunately things were structured so that prolonged discussion after the paper did not happen though we got a couple of good questions and plenty of discussion with interested folks went on throughout the rest of our time there; one advantage to presenting early on.  While our paper challenged listeners to take exception, no one did.  I think everyone there, scholars and shamans alike, was very gratified at all good evidence that shamanism continues to survive and be effective in today's world.

In addition to papers and films, there were several artists attending the conference. About 100 pieces of sculpture by a well-known woodcarver who has added shamanic themes to his work ( in the traditional Hungarian folk style) were displayed throughout the conference center, and a painter displayed her pieces documenting visionary experiences she had during a trip to sacred sites in Central and South America. Another artist created a sculptural installation in the woods near the center, using the theme of the World Tree, which is basic to shamanism among most shamanic peoples.

In addition to the conference proceedings, on Monday evening after dinner the conference organizers had arranged to bring in a three-piece folk band and a folk dance teacher for four hours of Hungarian folk music and dance in the Transylvanian style (circle dances). Tuesday, the last full day of the conference, was devoted to touring the area around the Great Bend (of the Danube), north of Budapest, the general area where the conference center was located. We toured the ruins of a castle at Visigrad overlooking the Danube; a cathedral in Estergom, one of the oldest and most famous cities in Hungary; and a re-constructed village (it has two parts, a 14th century village and a 19th century village, and we toured the second part, which had cottages and workshops for saddle- and boot- makers, wine makers, barrel makers, an herb garden and so on). In the middle of the day we had a traditional Hungarian meal in a rustic lodge/restaurant in the mountains, overlooking the Danube, and were serenaded by a gypsy orchestra. That evening there was another drumming circle to close the formal part of the conference, and my cousin Andras came up to see us and discuss arrangements for our time in Budapest, and to talk about family connections and get to know each other a bit. We hit it off immediately. The next day we participated in the ISSR's organizational meeting before leaving for Budapest.

The bus from the conference center took us to the Folklore Institute in Budapest in the early afternoon, where we took leave of the many good friends we had made at the conference.
We met my cousin Andras at the Institute, and he drove us to the other side of the city to a lovely bed and breakfast, Hotel Manzard Panzio, which is a short walk from his apartment. We were to stay there that night (Wednesday) and the two following nights, leaving early in the morning for a 7 am flight home. After getting settled in and having a short rest, Andras returned to take us to his apartment, where his girlfriend Orsolya had prepared a lovely meal for us. We spent  hours talking and sharing, eating good food and drinking brandy and wine produced by Andras' brother's vinyards, located not in our ancestral lands but south of Budapest.  On Thursday Crow and I toured the city (the National Museum, the open air market) and ate dinner in a lovely little restaurant downstairs from Andras' and Orsolya's apartment, folky, modestly priced, a local pub sort of place. We had wild boar and venison and accompaniments, wine for me and beer for crow. Then we met Andras and Orsolya for an evening of folk dancing in a club uptown. Transylvanian circle dances again, but also the csardas and other couples dances. Finally we dragged home so that we could get some sleep before getting up early to drive to see the family in Aranyos, 2 1/2 hours away. We arrived at lunch time. Andras' mother Erzebet had lunch on the table.

Our first family connection, out in the country, was a lovely Goulash Soup lunch with Andras' mother.  (Ed. Note: This included apricot brandy; soup, home-made cheese biscuits, and wine; and palacsinta, which are dessert crepes usually served with butter and jam or honey, in this case both honey and home-made apricot jam!!!! served with wonderful Hungarian coffee.)  She was the first person from her tiny village to receive a college education.  She returned with it to become a teacher in the one room school house for most of her working life.  Needless to say the family is very proud of Andras who, with two PhDs and a life in Budapest, still comes home almost every week.

After lunch we visited the family cemetery, a short walk from the house.  We put roses from Erzebet's garden on my great great grandparents' graves, and had a short visit with  Veronika Danyi, the wife of another Danyi, uncle to Andras, who lives in the ancestral house. We had a bit of wine and a snack in the garden, while a heron flew over us in a circle 8 times, and got our water bottles. Then Andras had a special place he wanted to take us, "if we were up to a bit of a walk". He drove us to a neighboring village, to a parking spot below some vinyards. It took us 45 minutes to climb to the top of the mountain-- it is higher than it looks, and more precipitous at the top third. There was a peacefulness and beauty to it that is very hard to communicate. We wanted to stay a much longer time than we were able to do, but  Andras had another surprise, a visit to a friend's commercial wine cellar, where we sampled three white wines, and had several bottles pressed into our hands. 

Andras loves the country, his village and family.  He also loves his wine-making friends.  Almost every household in the Tokaji region has its own wine cellar.  Andras has one too but is not able to work it at the moment.  That does not stop him from joining in the weekly wine tasting society which goes from cellar to cellar, tasting, testing and making predictions and recommendations for the fate of the vintages in the barrels in the cellars.  He also knows a young vintner who has obtained an old, run down winery and is reviving it.  We visited and tasted there, after our afternoon on the shaman's mountain.  Very respectable wines indeed; all white, one fruity but dry, one very oaky and one a delightful desert wine.

We headed back to Andras' house to pick up his  mother, took a short rest from the effects of hike and wine, then headed off to visit another branch of the family.

Dinner was with a delightful gathering of about a dozen relatives from 70 or 80 to 8 or 9 years of age; some of the older relatives remember the visits of Bekki's grandmother from the US in the 1960’s and 70's. There was lots of looking at old photos (some gathered and brought by Bekki, some from local collections) with memories and attempts at remembering everyone’s' names.  The whole is to be gathered, collated, named, dated and copied so both sides of the Atlantic may benefit.

The food for dinner was comprised of classic Hungarian dishes: a lovely fish soup made with carp and a simple and tasty pork, sauerkraut and sour cream dish. It was preceded by a long fruit brandy- and wine-tasting in the onsite wine cellar of Bekki's third cousin's husband, our host, who is a stone mason, owning a very elaborate stone working yard, and a prizewinning wine and brandy maker. His cellar actually has picnic tables where one sits (with a "cellar jacket" on) to enjoy the vinous products of his labours.  All the wines we had in Hungary were excellent but I have fallen in love with the fruit brandies, each a very clear essence of a single fruit.  The apricot was unbelievable in its perfume but I liked the pear especially.

We had bottles of fruit brandy and wine pressed on us again. And two lovely brandy (Crow says "wine") glasses, with the image of the shaman's mountain complete with cross etched on them, now the pride of my china cabinet, inherited from my dad's sister this summer.

The party ended late and we were late back to Budapest and up before 5am the next morning for the start of the return process of 24+ hours.  Andras drove us to the airport, put us on the plane, and we bid Hungary and family a fond adieu.

*Dr. Goodman's book Where Spirits Ride the Wind is a good introduction to her work. She was a Hungarian scholar who immigrated to the United States and and taught at Denison University in Ohio for many years, and founded the Cuyamungue Institute based on her work in Santa Fe NM. She died in the late 1990s.

Andras' house in Aranyos
Bekki's third cousin Andras lives and works
in Budapest, but maintains a home in Aranyos which he and his girlfriend Orsolya share ownership of with his mother Erzebet.
Aranyos is a small village in north-eastern
Hungary where Bekki's great-grandmother, Veronika Danyi, was born and lived till she immigrated to the United States at age 13. Andras' great-grandfather was one of her
brothers. Aranyos is not on any Hungarian
map. The house you see is Andras' house,
the house behind it is the one the Danyis
owned, and that Veronika and her siblings
grew up in.
The house is still owned and lived in by
members of the Danyi family. This type of
house was a common style in these villages.
This region of Hungary is known as the Tokaji region and is famous for its wines. The small stone cellar to the left of the house is for storing wine and vegetables.

Bekki's cousin Andras in his apartment in Budapest
The Shaman's Hill looks deceptively small, but it took us 45 minutes of vigorous climbing
to reach the top. To the left is the monastery which owned the vineyard and wine cellar
directly in front of the path.

Below,  you can see a close up of the wine cellar and nearly life-size statue of the Virgin Mary that can barely be seen in the above photo.

To the left, a view of the top of the hill and the area where we did the ceremony. The colored spots to the left of the Cross's base are our rattles.

This part of Hungary is at the edge of the Carpathian Mountains, north and east of the city of Miskolc.

This scene is the view of the village of Aranyos and surrounding villages from the top of the shaman's mountain. In the distance are more mountains, and of course the farms and vinyards this area is known for.

I was actually quite close to the edge when taking this picture, for the top is very steep.


                                                                   Upcoming Workshops
September 8-9 Fundamentals of Shamanism at Dragon Waters
September 29- October 14 Two-Week Advanced Shamanic Healing Intensive Training at Dragon Waters
October 20-21 Fire Elementals in Shamanic Practice in Haycock, Upper Bucks County, PA
November 3-4  
Circle of the Ancestors at Dragon Waters
Fundamentals of Shamanism (Quakertown/Philly) and Circle of the Ancestors Norfolk VA) are currently being scheduled for November. We still have some weekends available for late fall if you are interested in arranging a workshop, and we are beginning to organize next year's schedule.

Activist's Corner

World Wildlife Fund- WWF Worldwide 

WWF is one of the world's largest and most experienced independent conservation organizations, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries.

WWF's Mission:
To stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by:

  • conserving the world's biological diversity
  • ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable
  • promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption

WWF is active all over the world and has programs throughout  Europe.  Some of the projects it is working on in Hungary and Central Europe include global warming especially as it impacts the Danube River Basin; navigation issues in the Danube river basin; agriculture and rural development issues; biodiversity; and financing nature conservation.

You can find out more about WWF's projects in Hungary and other parts of the world by checking out the web site.

There are environmental groups in Hungary, but many of the web sites are in Hungarian.

One of my favorite English language sites about nature conservation in Hungary is a general (not exclusively about Hungary) educational site for young people, which highlights the Foundation for Otters. The site  is called Horizon Solutions. the link for the Foundation will take you to the page about it, which talks about otter and wetlands conservation efforts in Hungary ( and it has really cute pictures of otters).

One of the reasons that otter conservation in Hungary is so important is that currently otters are disappearing really fast everywhere in Europe, AND the larges population exists in Hungary and the Czech Republic. The man who founded the Foundation is Pal Gera.

Pal conducted surveys of otter populations in several parts of Europe. According to his results, there are between 1500 and 2000 otters living in Hungary and in the Czech Republic. In Western Europe the whole otter population includes about 700 to 800 otters.

Bekki's Art
Two views, top (foreshortened) and underside, of an Eagle
 rattle I made for an English friend who took our Fundamentals there a few years ago. She has a special connection to the White Horse of Uffington, an effigy carved in the chalk downs, and to spirals, so they are painted on the Eagle's green belly, a connection to the energies of Gaia.

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            All Contents Copyright Church of Earth Healing 2007