DARK WITCHES, SHAPESHIFTERS AND SKINWALKERS
What is it about hearing the howl of a wolf or leaves and twigs cracking under the weight of some unknown creature that makes the hair on the back of our neck stand up? Is it really the blackness of the night and all that resides in it, that assaults our senses or can it be knowing the cover of night offers nightmarish possibilities that we dread? Most people can see interminable childhood monsters within their irrational fears within a blink of an eye, because human beings can manifest their fears into any type of hallucination, believing that what they think they see is real … or is it?
Then … there is the tangible and bona fide footsteps that come out of nowhere, the growl that seems different, more aggressive and treacherous. Losing our self control, we inhale, gasping for air, hoping what we are seeing, is all just a dream. In moments like this, dreams can seem like reality and reality can seem like a dream. This uncertainty is where dark witch’s shapeshifters and skinwalkers seem to lurk, sometimes stepping back and forth from one reality to the next. Such beings survive, because most people prefer to ignore their very existence, yet within this beleaguered ignorance, these dark creatures very existence permeates the air, filling the room with dread. This is part of the dark agenda, that proliferates itself by fear and trepiditious half truths. So, what is the difference between these three adversaries and why do they generate so much fear in our subconscious?
Many moons ago, I was studying to become a medicine woman and I felt that my calling was one of a communicator and intermediary between this world and the ethereal realm. Interestingly enough, the problems I encountered in my training weren’t from ghosts, dark spirits or dimensional spirits; they were earth-based, hidden from the unsuspecting populace. This small faction made up what I call the, egomaniac shadows, because they seemed to make their presence known in the most unconventional of ways. Curses, bad luck, strange encounters with people or animals seemed to become apart of my every day existence, yet I trekked on with my studies, never knowing what was coming my way.
I lived in an 18 foot Sioux teepee in the summer months in Taos. I loved living in a circular home and I understand now, why it’s the best way to connect with Mother Nature, animals and the elements. It’s the eternal circle of life, the womb of femininity, baring witness to the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. Within my teachings, it was understood where the line was drawn between the dark and light worlds. I had to understand how the dark world functioned and who subsisted in its shadows and hid in its obscurity. This, as I was to find out, was very important to my well being and also for those around me. Once anything from the dark realms senses who you are or what you are trying to become, it pursues your inner knowing, the knowledge gained within which then becomes “your” medicine. The darkness becomes envious of this knowledge, that which it does not possess, so it tries to steal or coax individual’s to give their medicine away, simultaneously possessing their soul. There is a secret that human beings have forgotten; nothing can be possessed which has not been earned by the individual and their will. The trickster’s job, is to get the practicing shaman to willfully give away their knowledge and medicine which isn’t easy. The lay person on the street is easier to trick, because they can’t see the illusion of false promises, dangling before them. I call this deception, the Dark Interstice.
Years ago, I was told my Grandmother (my mother’s mom) was a Curandera which in English means healer. She could take a strand of hair and from observing its condition, tell what a person was deficient in. She would advise different herbs for people and show them how to make tinctures for various problems. She had an apple orchard in northern New Mexico and was a major supplier in her area. Her ancestry roots are from Spain, so I can only assume she had gypsy blood in her. I wanted to follow in her footsteps but some really unusual circumstances eventually lead me in another direction.
What’s in a word … the variety of alternative names for Medicine men and women is interesting; Shaman, faith healer, sorcerer, witch doctor, Indian doctor, isangoma, and mundunugu. With each word used through out history, various societies have created fictitious folk tales regarding rumored banter and half truths that have nothing to do with reality of Shamans. But, on the other hand, when this word is talked about with negative connotations and hushed tones, this in itself reveals a different quandary for families dealing with superstition and malevolent spells. Surprisingly enough, it was because of a dark witch who crossed my path years ago, that I decided to rethink my medicine path.
I don’t remember her name, which is just as well because I wouldn’t write it down, anyways. The circumstances surrounding the chance encounter with her strange and exorcisty demeanor, is a bit vague now. I think she was new in town and had only been in Taos for a few days. I believe I was introduced to her by a friend and from the moment we shook hands, I knew there was going to be trouble in the mud puddle. She gave me a strange look that was menacing but I went ahead and smiled back at her, making nervous small talk. Days after our introduction, I would see her walking in the middle of town and she would literally stop in her tracks, staring at me as I drove by her. The creepiest experience I had with her, was on a day when I was outside, standing by the light in the middle of town. She stared at me in a sinister way and never missing a beat, kept on walking with her head literally turning around behind her like from the movie, The Exorcist. She turned away from me and crossed the road just as a car came zooming by. She laughed and continued on her way as I froze on the spot, freaking out.
I heard through the grapevine, weeks later that she wanted to put a curse on me, for what purpose, I had no idea. As I was trying to figure out why she wanted to harm me, I also took what was conveyed to me very seriously. After mulling my predicament around in my head for a few days, I decided to ask her to meet me, so we could talk things out. (To be honest, I hadn’t talked to her since the first day I met her.) We met a few days later, at a gift shop where she worked and I must admit that I was nervous as hell the entire morning before our meeting. To make a long story short, she had assumed for some strange reason that I didn’t like her and that I was very jealous of her just from our first encounter. I knew she was playing a passive-aggressive game with me but I played along to keep the peace. I explained to her, that I didn’t know her well enough to dislike her or to be jealous. I said I had many beautiful friends, both men and women because I liked to surround myself with beautiful people.
We thankfully, came to an understanding that very day and eventually through time became casual friends from talking and seeing each other or hanging out at restaurants. One day she came over to the gallery I worked at and from the moment she walked through the door, I could tell something was wrong with her. She said, she had gotten into a huge disagreement with some of the women at the Pueblo and that they were putting curses on her. She said she woke up a few days before with blisters all over her legs so she decided to move to Santa Fe right away, in order to get away from them. I saw a few of the blisters and right then and there, realized that this could be a reality I might have to face down the line if some dark witch became upset with me. She left a few days later and I have to say, I was really relieved.
She had a few distinct characteristics that I think are signature traits of a dark side possession. One characteristic that was uncanny beyond belief was the fact that she could distort her body in ways that seemed inhuman. Sometimes, her eyes took on a wild animal stare that looked at me with distrust and contempt. Her pupils would dilate, becoming large, especially if she was extremely agitated. They would literally take over most of the eye, with very little white showing. She had a possessed look to her that was unnerving and scary to say the least. Her frequency, vibrated at an odd oscillation, making her seem scattered, distorted and deranged, which at times made her very uncomfortable to be around. My observations of her first hand, helped me see how a person who is possessed, thinks and acts. One thing I will always remember about her, is that she seemed to flourish, living in a dysfunctional chaotic lifestyle, exasperated by her own negativity that was directed towards other people. She was the closest to the presence evil that I have ever gotten and I have to say, it was the most disturbing experience of my life.
Sci-Fi movies tend to typecast these kinds of individuals as invincible and unbeatable foes. It’s easy to notice with most of the movies out today that have anything to do with possession or the dark arts that they carry a message. This message is subliminal in implication, saying, “We are here to stay.” People who carry this message throughout their lives, unknowingly on a subconscious level, help nurture the root origin, allowing it to manifest and grow in their fears. This in itself cultivates the evil agenda into our reality, making it seem solid. The fact is, it is an illusion that plays itself over and over again in the minds of society like a broken record. Remembering the light within and allowing it to fill you up, is the best way to see past this illusion. Imagine the rays of the sun bursting through your mind, dissolving any remnants of doubt.
Many people don’t realize that there is definitely an Achilles heel even for the individuals, partaking in the dark agenda and dark arts. They can implode within their own debauchery because of the very fact that evil begets evil. It’s only a matter of time before it swallows itself whole, creating a blackhole that consumes itself into oblivion. This type of self destruction happens because within all living things there is the spark of light, the illumination of the divine creator’s breath. This illuminated celestial presence is in everything, even that which chooses to deny its very existence. To put it simply, to deny the light within, is to deny the soul its origin. When the soul doesn’t know where it comes from, it becomes weak, eventually wasting away from lack of sustenance from its original source.
Yet I must say, darkness is the choice for dark witches, which is why those traveling by light, must take a care of this fact and be vigilant on their path. The shadows sometimes tell stories, in the whispering of the trees and the voices in the distance, silhouetted by darkness. Only when the owl screeches, do we know we are truly not alone.
Let me be clear, sometimes there is more to the definitive dark witch then meets the eye, because they also have other capabilities. Shapeshifting is one of them.
The shapeshifters of today, can either be a dark witch or a noble healer. The dark witch, manifests his or her skill by the dark arts and by enticing the animalistic qualities or the spiritual significance of the darkness and the silent and ominous shadows. The shaman that has animal totems as assistants, calls upon their gifts and insight, invoking their compassionate and healing qualities to help humankind. The two are polar opposites of each other, so consequently for every curse there is a cure.
My personal view of shapeshifters is that they carry on the traits of their animal totems but they usually don’t turn into them. There are exceptions of course but they are not so much shapeshifting in its normal sense but more morphing due to black magic that alters the physical form. In order to have this happen, possession would have to take place and the obvious sign of this is selling of ones soul in order to gain unusual abilities that are not usually associated with humans.
There are numerous photos and many stories told of shamans who wear the skin of their animal totem. In many cases this allows for the various strengths of the animal to come forth and assist with the desired outcome of specific ceremonies or prayer. There are those who wear the skin of their animal totem for darker reasons, this is usually done for a negative impression, left for those who oppose their way of life. Bottom line, it’s a in your face, don’t mess with me message. A good rule of thumb, is to never pick up a hitch hiker on known roads where dark shapeshifters are known to reside and to keep your eyes ahead on the road when you drive by. Eye to eye contact is where the subliminal messages start to happen and where the emotions start to waver for unknown reasons.
The differences between shapeshifters and skinwalkers, even though the obvious assumption is that they are very similar, can be confusing. A shapeshifter is more like a sorcerer of old, connecting with the elements and nature, procuring a friendship and alliance. The question arises, regarding who a shapeshifter chooses to align themselves with. The answer makes clear the difference between a shapeshifter and skinwalker because one will become a puppet master and the other, the puppet being controlled or the creature born from elemental traits that are not human related.
Another question that arises, is what is the difference between a dark witch and a shapeshifter? This is a good question and one that I have actually asked various friends in the know about. No one seems to really know what the difference is but I think I might have an idea that I will share with you.
A dark witch has an agenda that is usually in the dark realm of possession and ritual so they tend to live in an environment they perpetuate over and over again through out their lives. Endless curses and spells cast onto people, eventually take a toll on a witch’s sanity, leading them into a weird type of lunacy that eventually causes their own demise. Darkness begets darkness thus resulting in its own karmic debt. Dark witches do work with the elements but I have always found in most cases that a dark witch has an ego a mile long and they are not willing to share the lime light. This means they ultimately use others as a means to gain power and control for themselves. Eventually, the shadows become a jail sentence with the dark witch confined and wallowing within their own curses and spells.
A shapeshifter has a broader scope and understanding of the elements and how to use them to their benefit. They usually invoke the help of the elements understanding their relationship with nature. From research and interviews, I have found that it’s not uncommon for some Native American families have both, light and dark relations as apart of their family dynamics. The homebody itself can become a very intense fight for the light and dark quandary, opposing each other. Interestingly enough, the light and dark aspects of life are opposite sides of the same coin. Most Native American families understand the characteristics of both sides and because of this; shapeshifting and witchcraft have very different uses and incentives depending on which side of the coin is being used. As each side opposes each other, they create a dichotomy that embellishes the details of each individual practitioner.
I’ve been thinking back to my Taos years and I think the closest I came to a dark shapeshifter was when I rented a round house with a friend of mine close by where my grandmother used to live. We drove by the house thinking it would make a great practice and dance studio besides a great meditation space. It was hidden from a dirt road by trees and brush so it was very secluded. As we were to find out quickly, the round house had a dark and haunted energy to it in the daytime, almost taking on an ominous and foreboding atmosphere as the encroaching evening slowly crept up on us. The woman who owned the house had a huge alter against a wall in the center room which was used as a kitchen and dining room combination. Dead birds with needles in them and other small creatures were apart of her alter. Her instructions were made very clear to us in a note that she left, stating that we could not touch her alter or move anything from its place.
When I rented the house with my friend, I had no idea the alter was going to be there but my friend did, unfortunately she didn’t feel the need to tell me about it because she thought it was cool. I had a problem with it from the get go and I made my feelings known. The alter itself, took a really bizarre house to begin with, right into another Friday the 13th movie sequel. I had the worst feeling in the pit of my stomach about the house but unfortunately my friend didn’t. Our so called landlady had decided to leave a day ahead of schedule without telling us. Keys, detailed notes and silence greeted us as we stood in the middle room back to back. The reality of the situation finally hit when the noises started to get louder. My friend looked scared and I was terrified!
Our first and only night at the house was dealing with constant banging and creaking from the roof and side of the walls. The top floor was where the beds were, so we decided it was best to stay up there together, incase anything happened. We put two twin beds on one side of the room and decided it was best to leave all our clothes and belongings in our bags for fear that if something happened, we could leave quickly without missing a beat.
Eventually sleep finally came for both of us but only after enduring rattling and banging noises from all around the house which was enough to make a person go insane. Unfortunately our reprieve was short lived because out of the blue and without warning, a bird began to loudly squawk inside a pipe that led from the outside to a cast-iron stove by the wall, across from us. It almost seemed like it was trying to go through the pipe in order to get into the room where we were at. We both sat up, awakened by the horrible noise it was making and put our hands to our ears. Then, as quickly as it had come… everything went still and the noise was totally gone. It was as if we had woken up right in the middle of a nightmare. Strangely as we were sitting up in our beds, we could smell the odor of soggy dirt and yet we couldn’t tell from which direction it was coming from. It was like the smell of a dark and dingy cave that had a fungusy smell to it along with the dank air. It stayed with us the rest of the night so I put my sleeping bag over my head hoping morning would come quickly so I wouldn’t have to breathe in the damp air for too much longer.
Sunrise was a joyous relief and as soon as we could see daylight peering over the mountain, we were up and ready to get the heck out of there. It was still quite dark outside but once we could hear the birds singing, we knew we had survived the night. We walked down the steps to the kitchen area and immediately stopped in our tracks. We saw that several of the birds on the alter had been moved from their original positions from the night before. To appease the landlady, we decided to put most of them back in their original positions. For some odd reason that I still can’t figure out to this day, I looked behind me and saw a beautiful bird with a yellow crest on it, laying on its side in a an old fashioned glass cabinet. It had a needle through its heart and for some strange reason unbeknownst to me, I knew that the bird’s spirit was kept hostage in the house. Against my friend’s advice, I took the bird outside and took the needle out of its chest and laid it down by a tree so it could be back with its natural surroundings. When I walked back into the house, it felt like I was immediately surrounded by a deafening sound of birds shrieking in my head. I suddenly realized that each and every bird that was kept on that alter was stuck in that house, its spirit trapped by the landlady. I wanted to free all the birds but my friend argued that I would implicate her with me if I did. I knew at that point that the landlady was definitely a dark practitioner and yet I wasn't sure if she was a dark witch or dark shapeshifter, but I also felt a responsibility to the birds. I decided that I would come back in a few days and free all the birds myself, never telling my friend what I was going to do.
I had to muster up all my bravado three days later when I drove back to the house. Even though it was a beautiful day, I was petrified of the house. As I drove up to the house, the most horrific feeling washed over me. I had to sit in my truck and try to get ahold of myself. I finally got out of my truck and walked up to the front door. I heard noises inside, yet I knew nobody was home. I unlocked the front door and the door creaked open slowly. It was at that very moment, that I knew the landlady knew what I was going to do. I could feel she was waiting for me, wanting me to walk into the house. I told no one I was going over there so it would have been days if not weeks before anyone would know where I was. I heard a growl from inside that sounded really close to the door so I grabbed the doorknob and closed the door; locking it quickly and I high tailed it out of there. I drove away like a bat out of hell and didn’t go back … at least not alone. Interestingly, my friend never went back to the house, period after the first night. She told me she was afraid of the house and left me her key along with dealing with the landlady when she came back. I hated the fact that the birds were held captive in that house but on my own, it was too dangerous to do anything. I couldn’t get help because as strange as it sounded, people didn’t believe me.
The landlady ended up coming back a month sooner then planned and I once more, headed back to her house, keys in hand and a resolute attitude to free the birds. She was a young woman with brown hair and a slight build. I could tell from the moment our eyes made contact that she knew; I knew what she was doing. The only thing she said to me was that I had no right to take her bird outside. She said it was sacred and dear to her and that it wasn’t my place to decide what was best for it. I told her it was inhumane to do what she had done to the bird in the first place, and that I knew I did the right thing. We stood squaring off at each other for a few seconds. I stood my ground inside a dark shapeshifter's house and she for a few minutes thought she had the upper hand. My upper hand came walking in the door; a good friend visiting from out of town, named Phil. He was a Cajun from Louisiana and a body builder who worked at a state penitentiary in Houston plus he knew a lot about witches and dark magic. She looked at him with a surprised look on her face. I walked toward the door where he was standing and turned around to look at her. She seemed really old at that moment and very agitated by Phil’s presence. I told her that eventually nature would be knocking at her door and when that day came, pay back would be a bitch. We walked away and at that very moment, it seemed like all the birds around us in the trees started talking at the same time, I thought they were all saying, way to go!
Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw an unusually big, black dog. He looked ferocious and I knew at that moment, we had just seconds to run back to the truck!
Was this a skinwalker we were looking at or was it a shapeshifter? The question is the missing link of questions because it is so hard to distinguish between the two. All I know is that we made it to Phil’s truck and by the time he backed out of the dirt driveway, this huge dog was gone. We counted our blessings and a sigh of relief came over us as we began our descent towards the Valdez valley. By the time we got to the entrance of our camp, we were talking about what our next move should be. That’s when the unthinkable happened, the big, black dog was standing by the entrance to my teepee and I realized that this was a serious breach, one that I had to confront head on because this was my home.
Phil wanted me to stay in the truck but I had horses, chickens, goats and geese that were my babies and I wasn’t going to let this large beast attack any of them. Without thinking and purely on instinct, I jumped out of the truck before it stopped and ran towards the big black dog. I threw rocks and sticks, yelling at him that he was not welcome. He just stood there, surrounded by my geese who were in attack mode themselves. I walked about ten feet towards the large black dog and made it clear I would hurt him. He just stood there, staring at me so I immediately went into action; I ran at him and hurled a rock at his head. He jumped out of the rocks way and started to run back the way he came with me running after him. I looked like a mad woman but I didn’t care. I made it clear he was never to come back!
After I had calmed down, I realized that I had missed something. He obviously didn’t hurt any of the animals; he was trying to get my attention because he wanted to convey a message to me, one that I didn’t get because I was too busy being the defender of my animals. I think in his own way, he was telling me he needed help and I was too dense and twitterpated at the time to see it. I always regretted chasing him away after that. I did drive by the house, a few weeks later, looking for him but I never saw him again after that. I heard through the grapevine that the dark witch moved away and had the house up for sale shortly after our encounter. I was happy she was gone but I felt I let a lot of animals down by not doing something more for them. Did I encounter a dark witch or shapeshifter and was the big, black dog a skinwalker or was he just an animal that was a trapped soul? He was too intelligent just to be a big dog but then I have had one in a million dogs that were wise old souls. You be the judge here.
The skinwalker is obviously the most intrusive symbol in cult history. It has always been a mysterious and confusing figure in folklore or movies because the interpretation or definition regarding a skinwalker always seems a bit muddy. My view is that a dark witch is behind the scenes in some form or fashion, controlling a compromised or deceived, soul. Once the dark witch gains the upper hand, they can place their captive in the forefront of hostilities, hence creating the skinwalker. I don’t think the skinwalker is out by him or herself scaring the crap out of people. I think they are directed and controlled by a menacing force that uses them for personal vendettas and feuds. They have a contract that binds them through misfortune, misdeed or sacrifice. It’s a distinctive and detailed record kept in the bowels of the dark and decrepit shadows that waits for the ill-fated signature in blood, so that it can eternally envelop a soul and control it.
Here in lies the human quandary; it’s the undeniable appeal for power and conquest. Most of the people attracted to the dark realm, would rather be in control then be controlled. I doubt there are many who would by personal choice, choose to be subservient to someone else. If this is the case there is usually some coercion by some reticent malevolent ego, hidden from the mainstream populace. The shadows can keep secrets hidden ceaselessly and the unquestionable desires can hold their breath, waiting for those unsuspecting victims of circumstances.
The skinwalker is in some ways symbolic of their own delusional respite. It’s in their nature to think that some day they can walk away from their circumstances by self effacing and acquiescing to another’s will. The darkness doesn’t come without consequences, so once a person plays with fire, they become apart of the fervor that intensifies its malevolence.
I think that there are trapped souls like the birds and large black dog that are prisoners of black magic. I think there are dark witches who have their own agenda and vendettas, thus becoming physically twisted, distorted and perverted. They become what they put out and it eventually shows in their appearance. Shapeshifters can be either dark or light in intention and with the added gift of being a Medicine Man or Woman; they can heal people and speak with nature in her language, one that she shares intimately with them. If darkness is apart of the equation then, the shadows speak louder and the night sky cloaks ominous deeds. This does not mean that nature speaks to a dark witch who can shapeshift; the dark witch can project two images, one that is the illusion of intention, and the other which is their true objective. The skinwalker is the inevitable consequence of ill-fated circumstances, the dark and depraved outcome based on someone else’s nemesis or foes. It’s not so much that I don’t think that a skinwalker can’t be a skinwalker because they want to be or intend to be, it’s that their insanity comes from the constant push and pull of obscure sentiments and commands. They just don’t seem to do what they do by conviction alone.
Native American families who generationally have both the dark and the light counterparts understand that peace comes from the grey area in the middle. It’s not the most conventional place to be but one that at least both sides can exist on. With this being said, I have come to understand that if I seek out a dark witch, shapeshifter or skinwalker, they will willingly accept my invitation. I understand they are out there, and because of my Medicine path, I respect the dark but I am where the light resides by choice. Since the light and dark aspects of humans and nature are on opposite sides of the same coin, I have made sure I know both sides and respect my boundaries. It comes down to this, in order to appreciate the light, we must understand the dark.
“A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, the one I feed the most.”
George Bernard Shaw