Dark Shamanism: Embracing the Shadow

I once visited a place in Siberia that local people considered so evil that I needed to purify beforehand, bathing in sacred waters and staying the preceding night close to a mountain sacred to Buddhist tradition. To me, the rock plateau that my guides took me to was beautiful, with views far across the Mongolian steppe, but it was not a place to linger. At the base of the rock lay 36 black shamans, killed whilst in trance by a Buddhist monk and buried there for their spirits to fester malevolence for all time. That salutary visit made me realise that not everything about shamanism was either positive or pleasant.

Many traditional shamans can curse as well as cure. For them, illness and bad fortune is often a direct result of dark shamans inflicting malignant energy upon an individual, usually via spirit arrows they send whilst in trance. Extracting these arrows from a patient requires the shaman to understand and have a working knowledge of how they are formed and sent. After extraction, many shamans have no hesitation in sending them back to the dark shaman; cursing the malefactor as he or she curses others.

In a similar manner, I have no hesitation in defending myself, sometimes verbally, sometimes legally, but often spiritually, putting up barriers against harm and baleful influence. But it has never crossed my mind to curse anyone or send malevolent energy their way. The practicalities of doing so would not be hard – if I can extract negative energy from an individual then I can certainly insert the same – but it just feels wrong. I am sure traditional shamans would just shake their heads and say that I am too soft and my shamanic practice too sanitised by Western views of what is right and what is wrong. Maybe they are right.

Some shamans go further still and we are probably all familiar with the historical Jivaro (now called Shuar) from the Amazon and their practice of capturing heads of enemies. They shrink the heads in order to trap the soul of the person and prevent it from gaining revenge from the otherworld. To the Jivaro, this was not a bad or evil practice but just common sense when feuds between communities could rapidly turn into violent and prolonged confrontation.

Other Amazonian shamans seek more than heads from the slain and will stalk and capture victims who they ritually, and extremely sadistically, torture to death. The precise details are enough to give any seasoned anthropologist nightmares. The shamans then bury the body. When it begins to putrefy several days later – the heat of the Amazon speeding the process – they go back to taste the flesh. If it is sweet like a rotting pineapple, they will take body parts from the corpse and use them as power objects. Whilst many of us might have power objects that we use in our practice, very few would be prepared to go to such hideous lengths to obtain them.

At a significantly lower level of ghastliness, but still unsettling to Western minds, blood sacrifice is extremely common in tribal societies and is often connected with shamanic ritual. In North America, supplicants may offer their own flesh to the spirits and in the Yuwipi ceremony, this may leave people bleeding profusely where they cut flesh from their arms to wrap in cloth as offerings. Similarly, whilst dancing the Sun Dance, people pierce their flesh with hooks connected to the sacred tree at the centre of the dance and rip them out as the climax to the ceremony. Elsewhere, people offer animal sacrifice to the spirits and I have attended rituals in traditional communities where people have slaughtered and burnt sheep for their ancestors. Inca shamans use guinea pigs to diagnose and heal illness, rubbing the patient with the animal until the malignant spirit leaves its host and attaches to the guinea pig. After that, killing the animal prevents the spirit doing further harm. Clearly, this attitude towards sacrifice is not shared in the West, where self-harm is considered a mental disturbance and animal protection laws prevent any form of animal sacrifice.

There is a huge divergence between our Western practice of shamanism and the darker ways of traditional shamans from tribal societies. Does this weaken our practice, leaving it overly sanitised and removing us from the bloody, violent, and occasionally death-ridden origins of our path? Indeed, would there be a demand for weekend workshops on how to curse, how to trap souls of the dying, or even how to procure power objects from the decaying copses of the dead? Possibly not. But these are all parts of shamanism that we ignore at our peril. The world is not always as benign as we might like it to be and knowing how to attack is, if nothing else, useful for defence. As traditional shamans might tell us, if we do not know how to curse, then how can we know how to cure? Maybe we need to look again at dark shamanism and not only embrace our own shadow but that of our tradition too. But remember, in the immortal words of Sergeant Esterhaus: Let’s be careful out there.

38 Responses to “Dark Shamanism: Embracing the Shadow”

  1. Sam says:

    Very interesting read! :) Thank you for writing it.

  2. kai seidr says:

    Very Interesting theme, quite important to balance healing and harming hands one cannot exist without the other ,thanks for addressing this topic of which many avoid and dismiss , good work :-)

  3. john cattell says:

    I loved this article, yes allot of shamanism in this country as been softened down, I stayed on a reservation in South dakota about 18 years ago, tho I was not present, at one ceremony they take a young puppy, and strangle it with a length of cord, then it is plunged into a large kettle of boiling water, I was led to believe this was part of a peyote ceremony, then the puppy stew is eaten by all who attend. I feel that if some one in the west is going to take on another cultures sacred shamanic way’s, find out the darker side, don’t just throw out what’s considered nasty, it does not mean you have to take on the darker side, It would be honest to research all area’s and also find a good teacher, I myself am pagan, and continue to research the ways of my land, tho the sacred path of this land is pretty fragmented, and what is practiced now is mostly contemporary, dating back to the 40′s/50′s, blessings, Duir.

  4. zena romano says:

    Hi Mike, One who works for the light normally doesn’t think of the darker aspects of our Nature , most just acknowledge that it exists. As you point out we are more benign in our western belief’s the Law of three fold return. The mirror of Hathor is used to direct back negative energies carefully, and often a magician light or dark will give power to their tools by a blood offering by proffering a cut finger on runes or perhaps Ogham sticks. We are also Very ashamed and English in denying our bloody past. This is one of the most interesting articles I have read for sometime. Maybe we do need to look at the Darker side of Shamanism, for being aware it makes the Pitfalls easier to navigate. Interested in reading more of this Subject. Brilliant article. Didn’t Druids curse whilst standing on one leg with one eye closed before going into battle?.

  5. Thanks for the comments Sam, Kai, John, and Zena and for your support in raising this subject. I think John has it absolutely right when he says that even if we have no intention of taking on the darker side of ethnographic shamanism, we should not dismiss it or pretend it doesn’t happen. And Tacitus makes it clear that ancient Druids definitely cursed their enemies.

  6. Peter says:

    Thanks, Mike, for this interesting post.
    Only too often people tend to forget that only he (or of course she, come to that) who is able to curse is able to cure or to heal, too. These two sides of the coin are intricately linked. Point is that the moral code our Western civilisation is (allegedly) based upon has been imprinted on most of us, making things difficult for some. I don’t even want to go as far as raising the subject of Judeo-Christian indoctrination here but I am sure my point is understood.
    Regarding the “Law of Threefold Return”, it should be noted that this was first published by Gerald Gardner in his novel “High Magic’s Aid” in 1949. The history of this “law” is dabatable and I only want to quote Gardner’s own High Priestess, Doreen Valiente, who stated in an interview that it was only recommended to think about forgiveness and the “Law of Threefold Return” once you had your foot on your enemie’s neck.

    Thanks again &

    Best wishes

  7. Thanks Peter. Love that quote from Doreen Valiente – she was an amazing woman. And I agree with your analysis about our Western system. Thanks for your insightful comment.

  8. Jane says:

    Very pertinent in these shifting times.

  9. penny says:

    wow, I can totally see how this is done, it just had never occured to me to do it! I hope I will never need to..

  10. Thanks for your comments Jane and Penny. And I agree totally Penny – let’s hope the dark aspects never reach us.

  11. reville says:

    Shamanism is just as false an any other religion. However they do have some of the more interesting techniques, sacraments and myths. Thats what makes them interesting

  12. Man who stands on one leg says:

    Maybe it is the typically Western propensity to see ancient cultures (both extinct and alive) from a more romantic perspective?

    I am not shocked by this post and am not ashamed to admit that I currently work within my own shadow side (darkside); not to bring harm to others but to gain acceptance of the parts of me that I repress. It is through this self healing, self understanding and self forgiveness that I am able to forgive others and assist people in their own healing.

    As such I have learned to fully accept my responsiblities (likening it to coming of age – boy to man), and bring what was once hidden in darkness into the light of acceptance.

    From my experience things cause more problems and have more power when they are repressed and kept in darkness. When they are brought into the light and accepted then they are easier to deal with.

  13. Man who stands on one leg says:

    Ps, this applies to the Shamans path (as a tradition) as well.

    Something that is related to this is that I have been given two medicines (magics) via my dreams. One a curse that I have termed “thorn” medicine, and the other a protection or a kind of boundary prism that I have termed “ash” medicine.

    They were created for me and I have never had any reason to use them, and hopefully never will. Instead I accept them as gifts and look after them responsibily and with due care and attention. I would never tell them to anybody else because they were specifically given to me and would not work as well for another. I am new to this path (and to the concept of magic) but feel that Shaman are given their medicine.

  14. Man who stands on one leg says:

    A final thought (appologies for keep posting, I have many questions).

    The examples given above regarding animal sacrifice can be viewed as similar to Buddha when he was incarnated as a rabbit and purposefully jumped into the cooking pot of the hungry man to save his life. I get the feeling that tribal society Shamanistic practices see it as though the animal is willing to sacrifice its life to serve their (higher?) purpose.

    Recently I drove past a lorry crammed full of pigs and instinctively knew it was destined for the slaughterhouse. I was very sorry for the pigs because they are intelligent animals and would know of their fate when they arrived at the slaughterhouse, I hoped that their fear and terror would not last long.

    Our way (modern society) of culling animals for food etc is less personalised and lacks any real spiritual component. It can be likened to a factory setting where an animal walks in one door and its body parts come out disassembled from another door. That is why I give thanks to the spirits of any animal products I consume.

    So in a way who are we to judge the (what could be viewed as more spiritual) actions of our tribal brothers and sisters?

    Thats me finished now.

  15. No need to apologise for such interesting posts!

    I agree with what you say about the modern farming methods being devoid of spirituality. We can try to put something back when we consume the food by thanking the animal for its sacrifice (as tribal people would do) and making sure it was reared in the most ethical way possible. I often say that concern for the ethics of our food is as much a part of our shamanic path as anything else we do.

    Thanks for all your comments – I really appreciate your interest.

  16. Man who stands on one leg says:

    I have been exploring Siberian Shamanism (Tengerism) and found that the term “Black Shaman” is used to describe a sub-set of Siberian Shamans who were a kind of warrior/shaman; and who would use their connections to the spirit world to sometimes curse opposing armies and protect the army they were affiliated to (in a way their community). I am not sure if such a Shaman exists today but by the sound of it they are not considered to be inherently evil.

    Also the history of Siberian Shamanism in particular within the area of Mongolia has had a long history of persecution from the Buddhist Lama sect (or Yellow Buddhism) whom much like their Christian counterparts in Europe would build their temples on already existing Tengerist sacred sites to absorb the indiginous Shamanistic practices of the local tribes in that area.

    From what I can gather this lead to Shamans being classified as either Black; war shaman (who focused their connections on the North or “Black” part of the four cardinal points (as the sun never orbits this direction), White; local tribal healer shaman, or Yellow; Lamaist (Buddhist) shaman. I am not sure how accurate this source is but it does sound like the indigenous Shaman of Mongolia (in particular) generally felt that they were being persecuted by the emerging Lamaist Buddhist sect.

    I must say Mike that the description you give above regarding 36 “Black” shaman having been executed by a Buddhist monk may be a consequence of the persecution that Tengerism has recieved from the Yellow Buddhist sect. I am wondering if your guides on that particular journey were Buddhist as this may explain why the “Black” shaman were considered evil and needed to be slain, and why a mountain sacred to Buddhism was the place you stayed during purification?

    As I have already mentioned the source only gives one side of the story (the Tengerist perspective) and may be highly biased and inaccurate in outlook in particular against the Lamaist Buddhist Sect of Mongolia.

    Consequently my above observations may be incorrect but I wanted to bring this up to give some context of the history of conflict that I have recently learned was prevelant between the emerging Buddhism and the already existing Mongolian Tengerism – and for which “Black” does not necessarily mean evil (at least to the Tengerist Shamans).

  17. You are quite right that my guides to the burial place of the shamans were Buddhist monks. They saw the shamans as bad – although were quick to tell me that they did not see modern shamanism as bad – and therefore referred to them as ‘black’. They equated black with bad rather than using the anthropological terms to which you refer.

    In earlier anthropological reports, shamans from southern Siberia were categorised into either white or black, depending on the spirits they contacted. The directions were important, although some reports suggest it was west and east rather than north and south. Of course, many of these anthropologists equated black with bad – just as the Buddhist monks did that I travelled with – but it is not clear whether this is a distinction the indigenous communities made. In fact, recent thought is that white and black were distinctions imposed by the anthropologists to form nice, neat categories that were never there.

    Certainly, in modern times, any distinction seems to have vanished and the terms no longer appear in reports from the region. Certainly, when meeting shamans in Buryatia, the terms were meaningless to them. Russian anthropologists still adhere to the terms, although they are now more likely to speak in nuances of white-black and black-white. I don’t find this particularly helpful.

    Yellow shamans occur in Mongolia, although again the term is imposed by Mongolian researchers and is not recognised by indigenous communities (it was first used by Sendenjav Dulam in 1992). Yellow shamans are those who incorporate Buddhist practice into their rituals and are identified with the yellow hats that Buddhists wear. Some scholars see Yellow shamanism in Buryatia too, although others think it is an artificial syncretism of black and white shamanism.

    I think this coding of shamanism highlights a wider issue of how the paradigm of western science understands and, importantly for the discipline, categorises something that uses a very different paradigm to understand reality.

  18. Ayala Talpai says:

    dear Mr. Standing on One Leg
    thanks for your observations… I do take exception to your classifying shamanism as a religion, however– seems to me more pervasive, more as Mike says PARADIGM. Take Catholicism, for instance: pervasive Catholicism would be represented by monks or nuns. But then they are apart from life, rather than a part of life… ( except as in the book Mr Blue from ‘way back in the ’50′s)… as a shamanka my practice and my life are indistinguishably twined together.

  19. Man standing on one leg says:

    Dear Ayala Talpai,

    I was not aware that I had classified Shamanism as a religion in any of my posts???

    Maybe you are referring to “Reville’s” post???

    Please could you highlight were I have stated this so that I can apologise accordingly as like you I also do not view Shamanism as a relgion.

  20. Yes, I think Ayala got the names mixed up. It was Reville who called shamanism a religion, albeit a false religion, and not you.

    I agree with you and Ayala that the near universality of phenomena pertaining to shamanism suggests that it is a paradigm or way of life rather than a religion. This is why, in certain parts of the world, shamanic practice can merge with religious beliefs, such as the Yellow Shamans in Mongolia we have been discussing.

    Thanks to both of you for your comments and for making this such an interesting discussion.

  21. Dver says:

    I definitely think Westerners tend to be overly squeamish about what you might call the “darker” side of such practices, so thank you for bringing it up for discussion.

    FYI, animal protection laws do NOT prevent animal sacrifice, not if the latter is done correctly (as per most traditions I’m aware of). Historically, animal sacrifice is usually the ritual slaughter of an animal, where a portion of the animal is offered to the gods, and the rest is shared by the tribe/family/etc. It’s not actually much different from kosher slaughter. As long as the animal is raised and killed humanely (and it usually is – much more so than products of the factory farming industry), there is nothing illegal or even (in my opinion) ethically questionable about the practice. I’d far prefer an animal to be treated well, killed swiftly, respected, thanked, and made sacred before eating, than for it to be confined, tortured, and sent off in plastic wrap to be consumed thoughtlessly by the masses.

  22. Thanks for your comment and for the clarification about laws regarding sacrifice – very interesting. I also agree totally with your assessment of modern industrialised farming; much of it is barbaric and cruel and far worse than many sacrificial practices I have come across. Thanks for sharing and for the link to your blog – definitely worth a visit.

  23. Dver says:

    Thanks, Mike.

    I also wanted to respond to the “is shamanism a religion” issue – As I see it, shamanism itself is a combination of relationships (to the natural world, to the spirit world, to the tribe) and techniques for mediating those relationships, which always exists within some kind of religious context (some type of animism/polytheism, usually), but isn’t in itself a religion any more than being a priest or monk is a religion. There are usually only one or two shamans per group, so if it were a religion it would be a pretty selective one! What the rest of the tribe believes and practices (ancestor worship, gods of the natural processes, spirits of plants and animals, etc.) is the religion, and shamans are the spiritual specialists they rely upon for certain things.

  24. Brilliantly put – thank you!

  25. Drew says:

    Great read!!! A good friend of mine is Peruvian and recently went back to Peru to do a week long trek of Machu Pichu. Along the way he did a clensing and guinea pigs were used and brushed along his body. They were later killed and served for his dinner (which I thought was odd as he said they cleansed of evil spirits so why consume the evil that was just released? was glad to hear the animal didn’t go to waste as they are a food source there). He said it was a great experience but he had an allergic reaction to whatever branches he was hit with or the oils they were soaked in. Funny to read this as I was talking to him about it just this afternoon.

  26. That’s interesting Drew. It does seem strange that people ate the guinea pigs used in cleansing but maybe it was, as you say, economic necessity. That’s another difference I suppose between our experience in the West and the reality of traditional shamanic communities. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Katie says:

    Interesting point about self harm being viewed in the west as an indication of mental disturbance. So many things are viewed this way in western eyes.

    Loved the article. This is a difficult subject to discuss. Well done and very readable.

  28. Thanks for your kind comments Katie – very much appreciated.

  29. hi there

    interesting article. nice work and thoughtful. btw- there is a technique in the Andean practices called a Cuti.. it clears and polishes the edges of the bubble- and can be used to send back/ bounce back whatever negativity is being projected. a sort of.. oh,, here, I think this must be yours…:) not sent with malice or any charged energy behind it… just returning the HUCHA, to its “rightful owner” :)

    They also have a special form of despacho ceremony, I forget the precise term offhand. And the intent is the same.. to return whatever is “attacking” the individual. And as we would note.. in regards to sorcery/envito.. this will catapult it back at them, so you’d better be damn sure it aint you ( self sorcery can be the most insidious kind:)… again- sent without an attack.. just returning it- but I get the sense that the return is somehow like the slingshot around a star/ planet and it gains momentum somehow…


  30. Thanks for the comment Teri – very interesting. I can see that returning the negativity is not a harmful act, but that it could be if the energy originated from a sorcerer. It just mirrors intent automatically. Thanks for dropping by my blog!

  31. Lailoken says:

    Mike said: “I have no hesitation in defending myself, sometimes verbally, sometimes legally, but often spiritually, putting up barriers against harm and baleful influence. But it has never crossed my mind to curse anyone or send malevolent energy their way. ”

    An interesting idea of putting up spiritual barriers for protection. Though it is more or less a commonplace practice given the propensity of non-Christian spiritualities at large today, this subject is often not discussed widely (at least as far as I’ve researched). Two Druidically associated practices I’ve always performed when moving to a new house have been the Airbe Druad and Snaidm Druad protective measures (of course as I’ve thought them to be, as their true meanings and origins are speculative at best.) But they involve going along the perimeter of the living space to establish the barrier (airbe) and then going outside to ritually walk out a labyrinth of right angles and blind corners (snaidm) all about the house to bewilder any negative or evil spirits and influences. Though I do this mostly for my own peace of mind, I have been told by visitors how peaceful my home seems. Mike, have you come across any other forms of the practice of the Druid’s Fence and Druid’s Knot?
    Very interesting topics you write about! I enjoy perusing your site.

  32. Hi Lailoken
    Many thanks for sharing your ritual of protection and the proof of its value must be that other people notice its effects. OBOD teach something similar and it may be based on the same principles as your rite.
    The focus on boundaries also reminds me of the custom of ‘beating the bounds’, where communities used to walk their boundaries and ritually beat certain landmarks. In my book, Follow the Shaman’s Call, I relate this to the Scythian practice of taking a recently deceased king to the far limits of his kingdom, his spirit reaffirming his (and his descendant’s) claim over the land.
    Thanks for sharing your own tradition; as you say, it’s a fascinating subject.

  33. Psychopathy is a worldwide phenomenon, not confined to Siberian highlands or Amazonian jungles, nor is it confined to “evil shamans”. Psychopaths are addicted to personal grandiosity, accumulation of power and the dehumanisation of others – just as they themselves were de-humanised in the past. Barbara Brennan’s classic manual on “Energy Healing” has a little-known chapter with great insights into the recognition, roots and healing of what she calls “The Psychopathic Character defect”, see:

    Psychopaths are drawn to the acquisition and abuse of any kind of power, including spiritual power. “Western” history is full of experiences of “spiritual psychopathy” from “evil witches” to “evil priests” including the horrific tortures and murders of the Spanish Inquisition. In present-day Western countries we have murders and mutilations by Fundamentalist Religious groups and only recently the Norwegian mass killings, maimings and terror perpetrated by Anders Breivik in the name of “The Knights Templar”.

  34. Thanks for your comment Michael and I agree entirely – dark acts occur at all times and in all societies. Thanks for the link ~ Mike

  35. Thank-you Mike! May I add a quotes relevant to very important topic that you have raised?…

    “When you leave these [Shaolin Temple] walls, you will come upon the many pillars of violence.” – Kan

    “May not a man [at] one with nature [and] seeing such pillars, avoid them?” – Student Caine

    “Other men stumble in the way. They go in idlest [lacking worth] search of peace [fulfilment].” – Kan

    “Must I then tumble down these pillars?” – Caine

    “Seek always peace. Wear no path for the footsteps of others unless the soul is endangered. We are all linked by our souls. To endanger one endangers all.” – Master Kan

    “And if endangered, Master?” – Caine

    “In such times THE SOUL MUST BE THE WARRIOR!” – Master Kan

    These quotes come from the cult 70s TV series “Kung Fu” which dramatised genuine ancient Chinese spiritual wisdom. In doing so, it transformed the lives of millions of people [especially young men] around the world.

    “The Soul is a Warrior” was an episode of this series which is still available on DVD:

    Massive spiritual wisdom is dramatised in this episode around the theme of how best to deal with people threatening us via the “Psychopathic Character Defect” I referred to in the posting above. Also it gives an unusually deep insight into the “psychopathic personality trait” (ruthless, powerful, self-centred, materialistic – “I know only one law – the law of property”) – a trait that is not unknown in the “corporate jungles” or even the “Yes Minister” and “The Thick of It” corridors of public sector power struggles today.

    To fight back in kind against a psychopath is to take on an unequal battle because psychopathic individuals are not encumbered in warfare by the soul qualities of empathy, self-doubt, compassion, love, justice, mercy, forgiveness or wisdom – qualities which temper and slow the aggressive behaviour of any normal-minded person. Retaliatory dangers and threats mollify the aggressive impulses of normal-minded people, but psychopaths respond with enhanced psychopathy.

    At the end of the film, just as it is closing, there are some quick-fire words of wisdom from a Shaolin master, they summarise the issues that the film has powerfully portrayed, but they also encode (in enigmatic Taoist-style imagery) huge wisdom: “Psychopathic personality trait” is a mask of fearlessness (heartlessness) behind which lurks great fear – fear that arises from spiritual disconnectedness (love, harmony, compassion, humility). The power of another person is actually deeply subconsciously feared [paranoia] by a psychopathic indiviudal (in the past it has led to victimhood/humiliation) and therefore has to be forcefully controlled or annihilated.

    “When the heart knows no danger, no danger exists. When the soul becomes the warrior all fear melts as the snowflake that falls upon your hand.” – Master Po.

    “How does one find the strength within himself?” – Student Caine.

    “By BEING [at] ONE with all that is without himself.” – Master Po.

    “That prevails which refuses to know the power of the other. Where fear is, does not danger also live? And where fear is not, does not danger also die? Where the tiger and the man are two, he may die. Yet where the tiger and the man are one there is no fear. There is no danger. For what creature, one with all nature, will attack itself?” – Master Po

  36. There is no doubt of the corrupting potential of power of any kind. The Law of Karma and Law of Attraction are important considerations for us as we develop and practice our shamanic arts. The best book on shamanism I have yet discovered was written by a practitioner who also has that rare combination of talents as both a Psychiatrist and an Anthropologist:
    it includes a number of chapters on the mind and mental state of shamans, as well as carefully researched analyses of shamanic practices.

  37. Almuth says:

    Thank you for this interesting post, gives me food for thought.
    Reading it, what came to me is: we do sacrifice animals as well, and this might be our own shadow that we normally don’t see it: Animals used widely in laboratories for testing medication and other substances. In a way, we are putting the dark, harmful pieces in them, to banish them out of our lifes. We are sacrificing them for our own health.
    To us it seems all being so scientific, extracted from rituals. But is that really true? We are having our own rituals around it (paper rituals for example), and own sacred clothes (white).
    Would be really interesting for me to look deeper into this.

  38. That’s a really good point Almuth and I think you are entirely right. I appreciate it is a very controversial subject, but we are sacrificing other animals so that humans might heal and recover from our own illnesses. The rituals you identify that surround it do serve to hide the fact that suffering and death of one species leads to the health and life of another. You have given me plenty to think about with that comment – thank you!