Journey of a Shaman: Life - The Journey, Spirit - The Destination

Journey of a Shaman: Life - The Journey, Spirit - The Destination

by John Norseman

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504332637
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 05/22/2015
Pages: 382
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.85(d)

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Journey of a Shaman

Life â" the Journey, Spirit â" the Destination


By John Norseman

Balboa Press

Copyright © 2015 John Norseman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5043-3263-7



CHAPTER 1

The Formative Years


John Norseman and Carly Kent would not have been born if it weren't for the Second World War; therefore, that is where our story begins.

There were three people who had total influence and care of John from his birth to age four, those three being his mother and her parents. John's mother, Betty Bascowan, was born in June 1918. Her parents, Geoffrey and Hetty Bascowan, took a keen and positive interest in John throughout their lives, although that influence became less significant in 1945 with the ending of World War II.

Betty's father had been an army sergeant during the First World War. He was intensely proud of his regiment, the Green Howards, and John remembers how he was always seen in public wearing his regimental tie. His wartime service ended when he was wounded in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. There were more than six hundred thousand Allied casualties over the period of that battle. He lost the sight of one eye and lay in the mud for three days before being picked up. Such was the enormity of the casualty lists. It says much for his strength of character that, notwithstanding the trauma, he remained a very kindly, generous, and wise person throughout his life and became John's role model, mentor, and champion.

Betty married John's father early in 1940, when she was twenty-one. It was a feature of that era that vast numbers of couples married very young and much sooner than they would have in peacetime. So many young men in the services were preparing to be sent overseas for indefinite periods, and they all knew that a large number of them would never return. Their girlfriends knew that too, so marriages took place prematurely, and many babies were conceived much sooner than would have been the case had Britain not been at war. And so were conceived what were to be known as the "baby boomers" or "war babies." John was one such child.

Women as well as men were required to join the war effort. Young women were either expected to join the women's sections of the army, navy, or air force; or to work on the land, growing food (they were known as the land army); or to work in factories, replacing the men who had left to fight in the services. The only exceptions were women with young babies, and John's young mother, Betty, of course, fell into that category.

She was by then pregnant, and her husband was in the army. Although not yet posted overseas, he was in training and "confined to barracks," so she moved in with her parents, who lived in London, England. It was intended that she give birth to John in a maternity home nearby, but a few weeks before the expected time, the maternity home received a direct hit during one of the regular bombing raids on London.

Her father was determined to find a suitable nursing home as far away from London as possible. He had a small car, but gas was very severely rationed and was virtually unobtainable for nonessential use, being mainly allocated to the military and essential services. Nonetheless, he somehow managed to obtain enough gas to get Betty and her unborn child out of London. He calculated the maximum range from where they lived for the return journey and drew on a map the possible practical destinations. The town that met the requirements was Devizes in Wiltshire, and it had a maternity home with a vacancy available for Betty. Without further delay, he drove Betty to Devizes, checked her into the maternity home, and drove back to London. In addition to working at his job, he was also an officer in the home guard and spent most nights extinguishing incendiary bombs.

It was a bitterly cold winter with thick snow on the ground, and Betty's son, John, was born at 4:00 a.m. in January of 1941. Betty's husband, Douglas, was granted special leave to visit his wife and newborn child in Devizes. As there was no available accommodation for him, the local police took pity on him and allowed him to sleep that night in an empty jail cell. He had to return to his regiment the next day and was shortly afterward sent overseas, ending up as a prisoner of war.

In the intervening period, Douglas had fought in the battle of El Alamein, a decisive battle in Egypt, where Douglas was a tank troop commander. Although it had been an Allied victory, the casualties had been heavy, with half the British tanks destroyed. Douglas survived, but he witnessed many of his comrades burned to death in the tanks, which had a traumatic effect on him. After the battle, he volunteered to join the newly created Special Air Service (SAS), and while on a raid on the Italian-occupied island of Sardinia, he caught malaria and had to be left under a bush while the others moved forward. He was later found by Italian soldiers, who handed him over to the German Army. Fortunately for Douglas, the German troops were commanded by Field Marshal Rommel, who was an honorable soldier and refused to carry out Hitler's order that all SAS prisoners were to be executed as spies. Rommel's men removed Douglas's SAS shoulder tags from his uniform before he was transported to Germany, where he remained in a POW camp until his release at the end of the war in 1945. John did not consciously see his father until that time; he was four years old.

Douglas, the young man who had gone to war in 1941, returned a very different person in 1945. Betty was expecting him to be very thin after his time as a POW and was surprised that he was bloated due to the prisoners being provided with "food" that was unfit for pigs. However, the traumatic experiences of the war had effects on his state of mind that ran much deeper and were to remain. Also, Betty had inevitably changed and matured with the passage of time and particularly as a consequence of living within the environment of a war that had put civilians in Britain, particularly in London, on the front line.

Shortly after John's birth, Betty had moved back to London, and she and her son moved in with her parents. A very happy, loving environment existed within that home that made John feel safe and secure while the world of war, bombing, shortages, and uncertainty raged outside.

The house had been rented by Betty's parents for the duration of the war and was much grander than they would normally have been able to afford. It was owned by a well-known person who, in common with many wealthy people, had rented out his home and left London to live in a rural area in order to escape the bombing. For the duration of WWII, the rental income was very much lower than the amount they could have obtained in peacetime. The building's insurance excluded acts of war. The house was of solid, traditional design with a gabled front and a large garden; it had five bedrooms and a large, traditional kitchen, and the other rooms were commensurate with the style and size of the rest of the house.

John could speak clearly at the age of two, and at that time, he gave his grandparents pet names. He saw his grandmother dressed and ready to go out for the evening, wearing a black-and-white fur stole. He exclaimed, "You look just like a beautiful pussy panda."

The name stuck; she was thereafter known by her pet name, Pussy Panda, later abbreviated to PP. John's grandfather received the pet name Squirrel. This arose from John's love of the red squirrels that, at that time, predominated in Richmond Park. Betty often took John to that beautiful London Park, with its deer and other wildlife. John's use of his beloved grandparents' pet names continued until they died. Betty was given the pet name Robin, triggered by the day when she wore a bright-red, angora pullover and John said, "You look just like a beautiful robin redbreast." However, in her case, he reverted to calling her Mum from the age of about three.

Outside of John's emotionally safe and loving world, bombing raids were a fact of everyday life. Squirrel had shored-up the kitchen to convert it to an air-raid shelter, with sandbags, fine wire netting across the windows, and a very strong kitchen table under which John would sleep during the raids.

The government's air-raid shelter policy comprised a mixture of solutions. By September 1939, 1.5 million Anderson shelters had been installed in gardens. These shelters tended to be dark and damp, but they gave some protection and were safer than remaining in the house, which might collapse and result in crushing injuries. There were also metal cages for improvising a shelter within a downstairs room inside a house, supplied as a flat pack for self-assembly, which were known as Morrison shelters. Around half a million of these were supplied.

There were also many custom-built public shelters and parts of public buildings that were used as public shelters. Overall, they reduced the number of casualties, as the majority of bombing casualties were caused by blast injuries rather than direct hits. However, there were cases of these shelters receiving direct hits, which caused carnage among those inside, and many were poorly constructed due to wartime shortages of building materials. As a result of all those factors, many people were afraid to go in them, preferring to take their chances at home.

Until September 1940, the government had prohibited the use of subway stations as air-raid shelters, on the grounds of lack of sanitation, the dangers of people falling on the electric railway lines, and the need to keep the trains running for troop movements. Then, in late September 1940, as the bombing of London intensified, there was spontaneous civil disobedience in that Londoners occupied, en masse, subway stations for protection from the bombing. Stationmasters acted on their own initiative by installing emergency toilet and other facilities, and the government bowed to the inevitable and allowed the stations to be used as air-raid shelters from 4:00 p.m. each day until the next morning.

People felt safe in those stations--possibly because of familiarity and the fact that they were deep underground. Nonetheless, 144 people were killed as a result of direct hits on Marble Arch, Bank, and Balham underground stations. When 1,500 people crowded into Bethnal Green station, the sound of an explosion caused panic, and 173 people were crushed to death in the ensuing scramble to get out. Those events were hushed-up until after the war had ended. So, all in all, the decision made by Squirrel to shore up their kitchen as an "in-house" air-raid shelter seemed like a well-balanced decision for them.

From the outbreak of war, the British government had taken seriously the threat of poison gas being used as a weapon, in addition to the high explosive blitzkrieg, to attempt to terrorize British civilians. So, all people in Britain were issued with gas masks.

John was reluctant to wear his gas mask. Because he was a child, his was made of red rubber, to try to give the appearance of a Disney character; but it was, nonetheless, claustrophobic. Betty attempted making a game out of wearing the gas mask, first donning hers, which John found very funny. When it came to Betty putting John's gas mask on his face and head, he consistently ripped it off, threw it on the ground, and shouted no, albeit still laughing. Unfortunately, to John, ripping it off had become a game, therefore completely undermining the point. Betty became increasingly anxious as to what she would do for her son in the event of a gas attack.

Fortunately, poison gas was not deployed, as it was made clear to the German High Command that any use of poison gas against Britain would result in massive retaliation against Germany using similar gas.

By then, the bombing raids took place after dark. This meant that trips into Central London in the daytime were a regular treat for John, enjoyed equally by Betty. The hustle-bustle of London's West End in war-torn London was refreshing.

A regular feature was to visit one of the numerous news theaters, which were cinemas that showed newsreels and cartoons. It was on one such visit that a Canadian soldier, sitting next to Betty, offered John an orange. Betty thanked him profusely and accepted it. She explained that she would rather not peel it for him in the cinema but wait until they got home, as John was wearing his best coat and would undoubtedly get it covered in orange juice. The soldier expressed surprise that John did not seem pleased with the gift, but he understood when Betty explained that John had never seen an orange before, as oranges had not been available in Britain for several years. The American and Canadian troops pouring into Britain brought their own supplies of food with them from the North American continent, where there was no shortage of food and no rationing.

Although the American servicemen were mainly based outside London, when they were on leave, they tended to flock to London. John got a lot of attention from Americans, who called him "Blondie" and, with Betty's permission, gave him chocolate bars (known as Hershey bars). This made a huge positive impact on John. In wartime Britain's survival regime of food rationing, chocolate was an unknown luxury, and the generosity of the Americans was overwhelming, much appreciated by a three-year-old child.

Betty remembered an evening when she and her mother were walking home after dark and the air-raid sirens sounded, followed by the distinctive sound of German bombers and the noise of British anti-aircraft guns. As shrapnel from the anti-aircraft shells started falling and the two women started running for the safety of home, two American soldiers caught up with them and offered their metal helmets to protect the women's heads from falling shrapnel. On reaching the front door of their home, Betty's mother asked the Americans to shelter inside until the raid ended. They politely refused and explained they had to get back to their units. They retrieved their helmets and waved farewell. Betty always remembered the chivalrous actions of those Americans, and many others.

In the lead-up to the D-Day Landings on June 6, 1944, there were more than 1.5 million American servicemen in Britain, with their supplies and armaments. Such a huge influx of young men inevitably made a huge impact on life in Britain, not the least among the female population.

John took into his later years many other vivid memories of childhood in those uninhibited times. The people's constant awareness that life could end at any time in a flash created in them a heightened desire to enjoy each day as it came, and to give less consideration to tomorrow. Sixty thousand civilians were killed from bomb and rocket attacks on Britain during that war.

One of the earliest conscious memories that John had was of Christmas when he was two years old. The Christmas tree stood in the hall, which had a large bay window and an open fire. It was lit by miniature candles in festive clip-on holders, and with the tinsel and other decorations, it was a beautiful creation amid the drabness of war-torn Britain. Betty often recounted throughout her life her memory of John, in her arms, staring at the tree in open-mouthed wonder.

As all manufacturing capacity and raw materials were channeled into the war effort, there were no new toys available. The gap was filled with homemade toys from scraps of old materials. Cuddly toys filled most of John's bedroom. The absolute favorite and special item was a teddy bear as big as John that had been Betty's teddy bear from her childhood. Unsurprisingly, the bear's name was Teddy. Teddy had a special place in John's heart and went everywhere with him; he was treated as a confidante and best friend. One of John's favorite games was to hold tea parties involving all his cuddly toys, with Teddy at the head of the table.

The exceptions to the cuddly toys were two magnificent wooden toys made by the eighteen-year-old son of a neighbor, who was an anti-aircraft gunner defending London. The most striking was a perfect replica of a British Army truck and the other a large, red railway train engine, both of which John kept for many years.

In May 1944, Betty and John were evacuated from London to avoid the intensity of the bombing. The chosen place was Cricklade, a small town in Wiltshire that dates back to Saxon times in the ninth century with many historic buildings and very narrow streets. Betty's father had driven Betty and John there from London and found them a room in a hotel. As many people had evacuated to the rural areas out of the cities, all accommodations were crowded, but it was at least safe from bombing.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Journey of a Shaman by John Norseman. Copyright © 2015 John Norseman. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword, vii,
Preface, xi,
Chapter 1 The Formative Years, 1,
Chapter 2 We Shall Overcome, 41,
Chapter 3 The Years of Personal and Emotional Growth, 1968–1987, 65,
Chapter 4 The International Dimension, 1987–1992, 92,
Chapter 5 A Momentous Change in John's Life, 108,
Chapter 6 The Ocean Adventure Begins, 131,
Chapter 7 The Power of Prayer, 153,
Chapter 8 Mediterranean Adventure, 180,
Chapter 9 Mediterranean Adventure Continues, 235,
Chapter 10 Start of Atlantic Voyage, 245,
Chapter 11 Horta, 268,
Chapter 12 The Atlantic Voyage Continues, 284,
Chapter 13 A Year in the USA, 312,
Chapter 14 Omega and Alpha, 327,

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