The Tribe of Blue has Crosses & Shields!!!

Dear Avigail,

I am writing to you because I have a lump. No, not my husband, but a large, hard bump on my forehead. At first, I tried to ignore it. I took a cactus thorn and tried to draw a “happy face” on it, but the pain only got worse. And, it seems to be getting larger each day. I am scared to go to the Shaman; I am deathly afraid of pain, ESPECIALLY, my own!!! Do you have any sagacious advice to give me?

Elisheva of East Gehenna

Dear Elisheva,

I know the fear and horror of seeking medical help in the Wilderness, all too well. Let me share with you my harrowing experience.

Six months ago, I woke up with a yeast infection, that almost drove me mad from the incessant itch. I also felt a soft lump on my right breast. I had no choice, but to seek out Dave, the Medical Shaman. He had hieroglyphic initials after his name-credentials I suppose. But, it’s been a long time, since the days of the Exodus. His cave dwelling was in the posh section of Hebrew Heights. I didn’t have an appointment, as I had no way of contacting him, unless I was right at his door step. A mule was tied to the makeshift “door,” a few woven blankets that I recognized had come from the New Moon Shuk* Sale- quite possibly, Meshuganah Moe’s Loot & Pillage Emporium. Once I bought a caftan from him. It was labeled large; my size is two camels plus. He assured me that it would stretch, as I walked. I bought it and wore it to Estie Horowitz’ son’s public stoning. I was so constricted, that I was mistaken for a Chinese matron, whose feet had been bound, inside the womb. I took it back for a refund. No refunds. He told me to try a larger size. It still wasn’t my size; this caftan was size “flock.” It looked like a Sheik’s tent. He told me it would shrink with the wash. It didn’t, but I bartered it for a new cooking vessel, from a Phoenician peddler. He could use the extra sail, and I could use the extra sale.   However, I fear I am digressing from the Shaman story.

I pulled on the mule’s tail, and he let out a loud hee-haw. The “curtain” was parted, and I stepped into the waiting vestibule. A Nomadic nurse came over and asked me why I was here?

I answered: “I have a lump and an itch.”

“Does the lump itch?” she asked with professional alacrity and relish.

“No. They are two different maladies, ” I replied.

“Do you have insurance”, she continued.

“Well, no, but I have many assurances that Shaman Dave can help me.”

She looked at me impatiently. “You have a lump, an itch and no insurance!”

OK, what is your mother’s maiden name?”


“Do you have a family history of lumps, itches or bumps?”

“Not that I know of. I did not know my father. Right after I was born, he came out of the closet, before he leaped into his coffin. I have no other relatives, clan or even a friendly Jehovah’s Witness to call a “cousin.” Just me.”

“Do you have any known allergies, like sheep wool?” she asked inquisitively.

“No, not that I know of.”

She smiled and assured me that the Shaman will see me shortly.

There were a few tablets of papyrus to read- notices of deaths, births, marriages, divorce, accidental be-headings from everyday embalming tools and recipes for unleavened bread.

Suddenly, from another curtain, Shaman Dave appeared. He was wearing a white turban and a white caftan trimmed with glittering, gilt embroidery, enough so that it could have been mistaken for a Martha Graham golden g-strap, dance costume, the same one she often fondly performed in.

He briefly glanced at my medical history. He looked at me and told me that he would be gone for a few minutes to prepare a potion. If I needed any assistance, I was to pull the tail of that same ding-donging mule, which he brought in to lay beside my straw pallet.

I could hear music outside my curtain. The lyrics were both energizing and comforting. “I FEEL GOOD, WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”. I made a mental note to ask Dave who the singer was, when he re-appeared through the curtain.

“That was Brown James of The Rock”, he informed me. He was one of my satisfied patients when he asked me to take a blunt instrument and give him a low bottom eeeeeeeeeeee. He had difficulty reaching that chord. Nice guy.”

He wiped away the sweat that peered over his mask, which was colorful and glowed in the now-becoming-dark.

He told me he was going to give me a powder of crushed armadillo, mixed with eye of Amalakite and dried camel dung, with a chaser of cold, well water. I looked at the red powder, and yelled out.

“I read about red dye @2 in your tablet, and I won’t drink it. Can’t you make a less toxic potion?”

He seemed to muster all his professional bedside manner at once, and his demeanor showed his gentle, sensitive compassionate side to my suffering.

“SHUT UP.” he yelled in my face.

I was taken aback with this somewhat startling tone, which hinted of hostility and a lack of understanding, albeit, the mule raised his head and bleated a warning to him.

“SHUT UP,” is what Shaman’s say to a difficult patient. Without professionalism and years of Shamanic training, I would have said: “SHUT THE FUCK UP!!”

He busily scribbled a regiment for me and practically threw it at me.

He said, “This is for your itch, have sex with a cactus. You can call it Samson or Hercules, or whoever. Use as desired, indefinitely.

As far as your lump, I am afraid I will have to do an exploratory.”

I gasped at the thought of a surgical procedure, without any kind of anesthesia. I started to plead with him, not to do it, unless he had something to knock me out, first. He ignored me and plunged his un-gloved fist down my frontal body. He squeezed here; he squeezed there, and then, triumphantly withdrew his hand, holding something soft and white. It was a SHOULDER PAD!!! It had torn apart from my good, silk shirt and had settled in my bra!!! It was as if Helen Keller had spelt M-A-Y-I-M. I thanked him profusely for saving my life!!! I gingerly carried my cactus plant home, thinking of the right name to call it.

And so, my friend, muster all your courage, and make sure you have someone to take you back home. Keep in touch, and let me know how things turn out.

All the best,


*shuk: outdoor marketplace

About the Author
Shashi Ishai is a former stand-up/cartoonist from Teaneck, N.J. She resides in Netanya with her husband, Yacov; daughter, Zehava; son Zaki and dog, Stanley .Shashi is the author of ASK AVIGAIL: Advice from a Biblical Era Sagette, available on Amazon.