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Awareness Magazine
5753-G Santa Ana Canyon Rd. #582
Anaheim, CA 92807
(714) 283-3385
(800) 758-3223
(714) 283-3389 Fax



By Mystic Trish

Shaman Smoke and World Culture in the O.C.

The Bowers Cultural Museum is a gem of world culture right here in Orange County. Artifacts from Indigenous cultures around the Pacific Rim abound in this beautiful state-of-the-art museum.

Charles and Ida Bowers had no children to leave their home and collection to, so they decided to have a two-story fireproof museum built after they both passed away. The original building is in the Spanish Missionary style.

The Museum opened its gates in 1936, since there was already quite a large collection of local memorabilia. The Bowers has continued to grow with the community, expanding to an impressive 158,000 sq. ft. In addition to the main structure there is a second building called the Kidseum, which is a wonderful experiential space for children to learn and play.

The Bowers is committed to being part of the culture of Southern California. The museum has a permanent collection that starts right here with the First People or Native Americans’ collection including over 24,000 items. Housed in the original wing of the museum, the exhibit holds many artifacts and explains who our indigenous people were and are. It also presents items and information about the Europeans who later settled here on Spanish Rancheros and Missions, as well as Chinese immigrants.

The museum has been expanded several times since it opened. It has become a leading World Cultural Museum with more than 120,000 pieces of culture on display in multiple wings. Everything from the Head Hunters of Polynesia to items from Neolithic China and California Plein Air paintings are displayed.

Even before you set foot inside the museum, you will see three sizeable artifacts in the courtyard. There is a large stone sculpture of a seated Shaman smoking a large cigar from the pre-Columbian period in South America. Smoking tobacco was part of the shamanic tradition used to shift consciousness to facilitate the shaman’s ability to communicate with the dead for healing, and gathering knowledge from the spirit world. This sculpture is a wonderful way to begin a tour of the Bowers.

The Maze rock — a six-ton piece of granite with petroglyphs carved into it — is another intriguing enigma in the courtyard; no one has yet been able to decipher these images. The courtyard also contains a two-and-a-half-ton grinding stone that was used by Native Americans in a village on Hidden Ranch in Silverado Canyon to grind acorns and other grains. These are just two of 24,000 Native American artifacts you will find at the Bowers.

In the Pre-Columbian exhibit there are more statues of shamans smoking pipes, which was part of their spiritual practice. Many visitors are perplexed by this. Most westerners know tobacco as a nasty substance that causes cancer. But the tobacco shamans used was a pure form of organic highly-concentrated uncured tobacco. It is not the tobacco raised in the U.S. for cigarettes.

According to Jeremy Narby PH.D., who wrote “The Cosmic Serpent, DNA and the Origins of Knowledge,” the tobacco used in shamanic healing ceremonies is very pure and strong and causes what western peo-ple would term hallucinations. It is in this altered state that Shamans can see the spirit world and do their work. In chapter nine of his book Dr. Narby explains how the receptors in the human brain are uniquely formed to allow the nicotine molecule to fit into them, like a lock and key. Perhaps this is why cigarette smoking is so addictive.

There are several thousand objects of pre-Columbian art at the Bowers, for example: the carriage and other personal items belonging to the last Mexican Governor of California, Pico Perez, whose heritage was Native American, Spanish, and African — a true all-American!

The Bowers also possess an extensive Chinese exhibit. At the entrance to the gallery a beautiful carved and painted Guanyin from 1600 A.D. greets visitors as they enter. The exhibit displays items ranging from the Neolithic age to the present. There are beautifully-carved jade pieces dating back 7, 000 years. One is called the pig-dragon, a precursor to the dragon image that is so popular in Asian culture and art. There are Tomb Demons and cast bronze bells all created for use in spiritual practices, as well as mirrors that appeared to have been used in early Feng-shui burial practices

The Bowers also exhibits artifacts from the Pacific Islands. Some are extraordinarily tall sculptures that resembles totem poles. There is also a Head Hunters’ display. Not to everyone’s taste but it is interesting how creative these island people could be with the resources they had on hand. Perhaps they would have benefitted from some tobacco.

So check out the amazing world-class multi-cultural museum we have here in Southern California. Admission is free on one Sunday a month.

Trisha Howe is a born intuitive who started psychic training at age 15. She has over 30 years’ experience in Intuitive Counseling, Crystal Healing, Tarot, Mediumship, and Clairvoyance. Contact her at Mystictrish@cox.net