The Origin of GrayFarer

When I started practicing shamanic drumming, I would journey out into the middle world–a sort of non-ordinary overlay on the world that is familiar in our daily lives–and seek out animals to guide me to other realms. Usually, this was a crow, and occasionally a deer.

Then one night, I had a vivid dream where I turned into an owl. As I was flying, I became lucid and looked at my gray feathers and stray tufts of fluff flapping in the wind. I didn’t know what type of owl in the the dream, but looked at pictures when I woke up and it was clear that I had been Strix nebulosa, a great gray owl.

From then on, rather than seeking out a guide while drumming, I simply turned into an owl and went wherever I felt drawn to go, most often the underworld, not hell, but more of a realm steeped in the Earth element. I sometimes used the name “Gray Owl” or just “Gray” for short. You might think that owls would be associated with the air element, which they are, but owl medicine is also about helping beings transition between realms including the dying.

When I started practicing Buddhism, I thought of the idea of being a wayfarer of the middle way and fused that together with Gray to become GrayFarer, which also turns out to be a popular name for werewolves in literature.

There’s evidence that stories about werewolves come from Slavic shamanic practices being demonized by the church. My great-great grandfather was said to be a shaman in what today is Slovakia. I don’t know if it’s true, but I have a feeling that Gray Owl is someone who my great-great grandfather knew based on something that a Lakota elder told me that he saw while I was drumming.