I would like to share an experience with everyone regarding an encounter with a fraud many years ago. Other than the pseudonym by which he used, the names have been changed, but the story is 100% as I tell it. My hopes is that by sharing this experience, it might help prevent it from being replicated among anyone here.
In the Autumn of 2001, we used to enjoy staying over at Luna's house, situated in the quaint rural surroundings of Lincoln County, NC. Luna was a member in our circle, a pleasant and level-headed lady (or, so I thought) who shared many common interests of my girlfriend Jenna and I.
Occasionally, we would have special guests and speakers visit the region, coming through our sister circle and over to us, or vice-versa, so picking up new ideas or perspectives was an occasional treat throughout the warmer seasons of the Wheel. It was through this network that I met both the houngan that would introduce me the Vodou, and the gentleman that would be my first experience with Reiki. It was also where I bumped into a man that identified himself simply as "Cherokee".
To me, it immediately seemed a bit pretentious that a First Nations man would go by that name. Unfortunately, his story was far more brow-raising than his choice of names. Ney, his story was rather fantastic.
According to him, a member of the "Western Band" of the Cherokee Nation. This did not raise a flag immediately. I have ancestry to the Eastern Band, so I assumed the Western people were those that settled in the northwest following the depressive "Trail of Tears"...it seemed logical enough, so I did not research further until his stories improved. And, not very long thereafter, he mentioned that he was their "stone-carrier".
Wait...stone-carrier? The guy entrusted with going from place to place to gather knowledge of the lands and the people? Traveling amongst pagan circles utterly irrelevant of his spirituality?
Hmmm... Well, I am supposed to be honored by his presence, I suppose. That staff he carried everywhere and the plethora of dreamcatchers he sold out of his truck TOTALLY verified his first nationness...
Luna became immeditely attached to this fella. She even moved him in for a couple of weeks into her house to learn of his ways, I suppose. Immeditely, I began warning her about him. His stories seemed very incredible and the scent of bovinefeces permeated his very name. I asked her, in likely less friendly words: "Seriously, you are going to let guy move in, knowing nothing more than a pseudonym and some incredible story?"
"He promised me he would teach me and, before he leaves, initiate me as a medicine woman."
IN TWO WEEKS, people. I flipped. We had an exchange of words and, upon calming down, invited me to a circle he was hosting at her home. I accepted. I would not miss this for the world.
Saturday night arrived. I was with Jenna and we trampled back to the clearing behind her house, where a large fire was roaring. There he was, holding his staff, that she previously mentioned was too heavy to lift except by the "true stone-carrier", in some outfit that looked as if it had been an extra costume left over from Dancing with Wolves, although closer inspection would have likely included a tag that read "Made in China".
He began with a prayer spoken in simple Tsalagi, of which good memory graced me with the recollection to type into Google (probably his learning aid) to verify, and then an invocation to the Goddess. Sigh. From that point forward, he shared the cliche peace-pipe after offering it to the four directions. I was enjoying this. And, it got better. He started the "laying on of the hands" routine reminiscent of a Jim Baker prayer/deliverance convention. Oh yes, to include the spontaneous seizures upon being touched. I had not seen this since my early teens in the pentecostal church. Luna was touched. Luna convulsed to the ground. My eyes rolled to the back of my head, although I assure you that it was a voluntary reaction. Jenna succeeded in maintaining consciousness, too.
The circle came to a close. We went back inside. He laid his staff in the corner and went to the restroom. I went over, picked it up, glared at her with the sentiments of "enough said", took Jenna by the arm and left.
The following day, I was able to make contact with some people working from the office of the Eastern Band chief on the reservation in Western NC, verified the obvious and took names and numbers. I tried to talk more pose into her, and she said she had been warned by him that I would try to talk her out of further contact with him. How cult. After a few more moments, I severed our friendship. In a nasty email days later, I was told that my ceremonial sword was ritually burned by him in a fire, in order to remove my influence from there and, I suppose, an attack against me. A week later, I heard through a neighbor of mutual friendship, they were doing a ritual to invoke the "hounds of hell", and the ritual attire was black roads. Oh, so traditional.
Another two weeks passed and she emailed me saying she had been misled. You think? I ignored it. I was done.
Seriously, you would think that the details of this story would raise flags to any person. Think again. When offered the irresistable, even some of the brightest will believe the most heinous nonsense. This is why educatiion is important. This is one reason we push for truth here.