OUR SHAMAN: TSUNKY
What he says about himself
My name is Francesco “Tsunki” de Giorgio and I am a Uwishín – Shaman and healer in the tradition of the Shuar people.
I was born in Italy and now I live in Switzerland.
The call of Spirits arrived when I was very young, with a strong attitude to poetry and the gift to predict the future. At that time I couldn’t see the link between the two things, only after many years my Spirit helpers showed me that Shamans are poets and poets – very often – Shamans.
I decided to stop predicting the future when I was about 15 years old, as I foresaw the sudden death of a friend of my family – in my vision, he should have died between July and September 5 years afterwards.
In fact 5 years later in mid September my uncle Mirko – as I used to call him – was killed by a heart attack.
I had a classic education and I master quite well Latin, ancient Greek and Hebrew.
I was trying to learn ancient languages because they bring you near the ancestral civilisations and their relation – that we have completely lost – with the world and the invisible.
Ancient people had an understanding of what Spirits are that might look childish to us, but they also had a more real relationship with them. Maybe now we understand everything in a more mature way, but we can only have an illusory and evanescent relationship with Spirits.
At the university I studied theoretical physics.
I was trying, I believe, to understand what lies beyond the apparent reality.
For about 20 years, from my teenage on, I studied the I Ching and the Eastern (Chinese and Mongolian) worldview, such as the theory of the 5 elements and the Chinese astrology of the 4 pillars, unknown in Europe but very popular in Asia – also among Shamans.
I was terribly unhappy, though, and dogged by bad luck, the cause of which has become clear to me only in recent times.
I couldn’t accomplish anything; I was a brilliant student, but terrible depressions forced me to stop my studies many times , and I eventually dropped out of the university.
During the same years I also worked as screenwriter, bringing back my gift for poetry and my passion for myths and storytelling.
I was never successful, though, nor was I able to make a living from it.
I thought that a God or a Spirit wanted to force me into doing something that I didn’t know and that I didn’t want to do.
By then I was just looking for some peace of mind, and I tried to find it in prayer, in deep meditation and in zen. On the contrary I had some terrifying visions and a series of personal, sentimental and material disgraces happened to me in a period of few months.
Therefore I approached the Native Americans Medicine Wheel. As a matter of fact I had read that the Wheel creates a protection to prevent that in visions or meditations we get in contact with negative Spirits or Spirits that we are not able to manage.
I felt that this was a very good Way, because it was bringing me closer to the Spirits of Nature, and only in Nature could I always find some peace of mind.
During a vision in the Wheel I met an American Indian. He was a sacred man and he told me to call him Grandfather. Some time later I discovered in a book that Indians give the title of “Grandfather" to sacred men and medicine men, as we call “Fathers” our Christian priests.
The Grandfather took me to a Tree in the wood. The Spirit of that Tree, even if only 100 years old, overwhelmed me with his wisdom.
For many days he kept me at his feet and taught me the first secrets of shamanism, of travels to other worlds and of the geography of the universe.
When I returned from the wood, I got a mysterious disease, that affected mostly the left half of my body, with pains, altered sensitivity, nerve inflammation, clouded view and other symptoms.
Physicians and neurologists weren’t able to find the cause – they identified an opportunistic infection (cytomegalovirus), which usually appears on an existing inflammation, and that anyways didn’t explain all the symptoms I had.
The disease was my shamanic initiation and if I wouldn’t have died, I would been called to become a shaman.
The Spirits kept me sick for a little more than a year.
At the end in a vision the Grandfather told me that he was in Italy and that we would meet.
It actually happened a couple of weeks later. He was an old Lakota (Sioux) medicine-man. I recognised him and he recognised me, because he saw me in a dream and he knew he should become my master.
For two years I was only allowed to watch him practicing. As usually native Indians do, he wouldn’t even explain what he was doing. Spirits, though, were instructing me.
At the end of the second year I healed for the first time an ill animal, using a very simple technique.
The Grandfather, though, didn’t want any publicity – not even an indirect one – among the westerners; also because of this, he told me that I should continue my apprenticeship as a medicine-man somewhere else.
Despite my deep disappointment, I accepted his words and I went to the Amazon rainforest, where I met the local shamanism and the powerful Spirits of the Jungle.
Over there, where the material Reality and the Other Reality blend together (one of very few places in the world), I had (and nowadays I still have, when I go back there) my strongest contacts with the true Power. There I started to receive the first teachings and Powers from the Spirits of the Plants.
I stayed in the Amazon jungle for a long time and when I returned to the North Dakota, in the Rosebud reservation, the Grandfather had already left for the great Plains of the Sky. He was, I believe, more than 100 years old.
When I finally went back to Italy I was a Shaman, even if my apprenticeship in the Amazonian shamanism wasn’t complete.
I long looked for a place in Nature where Spirits would accept me and would become my allies. I found it in South Tyrol, in northern Italy, where I then lived for about 10 years.
At that time I followed nearly all the workshops of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, the organisation founded by Michael Harner, whose book “The Way of the Shaman” had impressed me before starting my apprenticeship with the Grandfather.<br>
After some other stays in the Amazon rainforest, in 2001 I “officially” became a Shuar (Jivaro) Shaman, receiving the tséntsaks directly from my master, a very powerful Shaman that was more than ninety years old, had 5 wives (3 still alive), about 50 children and 150 grandchildren.
His name was Vicente Júa, but everybody simply called him el Abuelo (the Grandfather, again…)
At the time he lived in the region of Pastaza, but afterwards due to health reasons he moved near Macas (Ecuador).
Tséntsaks are Powers that are not purely spiritual, but have a material counterpart and live in the body of the Shaman, especially in the stomach.
Since they are partly materialised they must be regularly nourished with natém (ayahuasca) or green tobacco water. These Powers protect the Shaman from any type of danger and can be used to heal as to attack the enemies. Any Uwishín (Shuar Shaman) has hundredths of different tséntsaks, each of them with different properties – some are used for protection, other ones have Power on some parts of the body or certain diseases or can modify the events or modify the physical reality.
In the Shuar tradition, tséntsaks are directly, physically received from another Shaman. Due to the fact they have been transferred from Shaman to Shaman since the dawn of time, they have become extremely powerful and can manipulate the reality unlike anything else in the world.
The encounter with the Shuar tséntsaks has been the most upsetting encounter with the Power in my life.
For many years I have been a curandero – a Shuar healer.
Already when I used to meditate, a powerful being told me that he would give me “healing hands”.
This vision disturbed me a lot, because I never felt any attitude to heal, I didn’t like the idea and I didn’t want to do it.
For a long time, on the contrary, I didn’t do almost anything else than healing.
I was trained to doing this by the Spirit of the Tree and by the Grandfather.
For many years, however, I have dedicated myself to teaching, because Spirits have called me to doing this.
There is an emergency of giving Power back to the Spirits, help them to become real again in this Reality.
It is necessary to have shamanic communities, drum circles that know the Spirits and nourish them.
My allies want me to do something to resurrect shamanic communities in the modern world.
It is what I tried to do during the last years.
I taught Shuar shamanism even if, given the complexity of the western way of living and given the different kind of nature in Europe compared to the Jungle in the equator, I had to integrate it with elements of other traditions.
As a matter of fact Shamanism has always adapted to the environment.
I then tried to create a shamanism for the westerners of tomorrow, summarising or sometimes just bringing various cultures next to each other, without extracting a “core shamanism”, as Michael Harner does, which is just pure technique – without religion and sacrality.
This is an american model – America lives in the myth of technology, which is not a good medicine.
("Animo y fuerza", traditional Shuar greeting)