Tribute to a Master
In loving memory of a great friend, shaman and healer Frank Natale aka “Professor Trance”.
Three days before leaving Hawaii for a 5-week teaching and concert tour on the mainland I received a package in the mail with a crystal sperm whale and card saying:
“Dear Kutira, Whale Child – All though we have not spent time together too often I have often felt you. I go now to another world. I’m blessed to have known you – Frank.”
I was touched by the fact that it was a sperm whale he had sent me. It is rare to find the sperm whale depicted in any form and especially in crystal. It is a whale I studied when I worked with Dr. John C. Lilly. It has the largest brain of all the whales and hence the largest mammal brain on the planet. It is a very special whale in shamanic practices.
I read the card again and again and it took me awhile to understand and acknowledge that Frank’s spirit was preparing for transition. Especially the sentence, “I’m blessed to have known you” shook me deeply, because it was written in the past tense.
I called his home in Honolulu and spoke with his wife, who told me that she is pregnant and due to deliver at the end of June. She explained to me that Frank had decided in May that it was time to leave his body and he chose June 21, his birthday and the time of the solstice, to leave this world. The solstice is known to his students around the world as a great trance dance gathering and ritual time. He also felt it was better to depart with spirit before the newborn baby came into this world.
I booked the earliest flight out of Maui to be with Frank and, honestly, to find out if he could really just say goodbye and leave his body. It was challenging to feel, see and embrace death and birth in such a close manner.
Walking through his living room made it clear that this journey was planned well ahead. His entire collection of Shaman tools were selected and labeled to go to many of his students to carry on his teaching. Some of them were wrapped with a loving note, some of them were ready to be boxed and send as far as Europe. Feathers, masks, shakers, blankets, crystals, all of them empowered by many rituals and journeys into altered states of consciousness. I found the place on the altar where the crystal sperm whale came from. I was awed that Frank had all this awareness and loving energy to prepare his death and even after. He thought it truly through to the end and beyond. I remember when Dr. John C. Lilly got closer to his final journey that when I brought up the subject about how he would like to prepare for his journey that this was not a subject to talk about. When my father died only a year before John, he gave me all the advice and help on how he wanted to leave his body and how he wanted to have his funeral be taken care of. He dictated his eulogy to me and my sister. He also left his body consciously. Half an hour before he took his last breath, for me it was the longest exhale, he called all his brothers and sisters to tell them to be loving to each other and only love will count. He died at home, like Frank, in the loving arms of his whole family.
I know that Frank was calling his family to be close to them and letting them take the last ride with him. Literally his time was clicking by and each day was getting him closer to June 21.
Sitting at the side of his bed was an extraordinary experience. To be with him and tap into the vastness of surrender. I asked him if it was, as we teach in Tantra that “surrender is the key to ecstasy,” one of Raphael’s favorite quotes and teachings. He agreed. We spoke a lot about letting go, surrender, death and birth and I was glad I recorded my last conversation with a great friend and explorer of consciousness. He said: “As I get closer to death the more I feel my feminine side, death is a feminine experience”. He also said that the Ayahuasca has prepared him to embrace death with all the awareness and love he has now.
As I was sitting beside his bed he put in my hands and let me hold the shaker he received many years ago from Padrinho Valedeccie a shaman from the Amazon. This shaker is said to be from Master Raimundo Irineu an Amazonian Jaguar Shaman and founder of the Santo Daime Doctrine. Holding this powerful shaker I had chills running up and down my spine. This shaker had a life of its own and I felt it shaking me. Suddenly Frank asked me “Can you handle the ‘Queen of the Forest’?”, a statue he also was given by one of the shamans in the Amazon. There she was, right opposite his bed looking straight at him, with a crown on her head and a wand in her hand. The blessed Mother with an Indian face. Ancient and powerful. “I was wondering to whom she will go, but now I know it is you.” At this point I was speechless but my mind was shouting no that’s not for me. He asked me to get her, to touch her, and it was in that moment I felt yes!, she was going home with me and she had been waiting for me.
As we sat pressing our foreheads together I knew instantly that we would meet again. He said he is coming back as a woman and his religion will be earth-centered creation. Most likely as an artist he said. We laughed and I told him I would watch out for her.
Frank Natale died, as he said he would, on June 21, 2002, at 9:55 PM in his home in Honolulu of kidney and liver failure.
Frank, I am blessed to have known you. Kutira
Books written by Frank Natale and his music as “Professor Trance” can be found at www.franknatale.com.
P.S. when I came home Raphael had just received the message that he was chosen to work on a CD of music inspired by Padrihno Alfredo brother to Padrihno Valdeccie who gave Frank the shaker. Irineu was their grand father. It was clear to both of us that the ‘Queen of the Forest’ had found her place, for now.