Imagine a gentle climb through Lydian countryside, along the rocky, undulating pathway to a magical land, overlooked by the craggy wall of the Castle of the King of the Gods. Everywhere you look, Mother Nature’s garden is filled with food and medicine to be gathered freely. At ground level, the intense slightly minty wild oregano, the strong purple flowered sage and a veritable pharmacy of wild herbs. Aromatic bay trees bear leaves with a strong, musky scent slightly reminiscent of Old Spice aftershave. All around are shrubs and trees whose tender spring leaves may be plucked for bitter spring salads and later in the year will fill the larder with their harvest of figs, citrus fruits and olives.
The only sign of habitation is a small goat’s bell attached to a bush, which jangles gently to indicate our presence. We pause momentarily, then moving on a few feet, around a curve in the path, we are confronted with a strung curtain of brightly dyed felt, adorned with bells and pretty pieces of wood which marks the entrance to the Shaman’s Sanctuary. We pause again, before moving onto a large wooden terrace which seems to hang from the mountainside, the sheer drop bordered only by a low felt rope.
The Shaman’s Wife greets us warmly as her two children continue to play together, almost oblivious to our intrusion into their world. She is neatly and modestly dressed – her attire enhanced by a beautifully styled green felt hat which adds to her slightly elfin appearance. (We later learn that she is a talented artist who currently works mostly with hand-made and dyed felt).
The Shaman, joins us. A relatively tall, slim man of about 40, with intense humour filled eyes, he welcomes us to his home and we remove our shoes to enter an entirely hand-made environment.
Ozan and his wife, with a little help from friends, have created a two storey home, which is unique in every way. I will describe the construction to the best of my memory. Over a wooden framework, the walls are constructed using two ‘skins’ of bamboo between which is a layer of brown sea-weed which acts as a non-rotting insulation. The inside walls are plastered with local clay whilst the outside is rendered with special mountain sand and painted in vibrant shades of red, green, blue and yellow. I believe the windows and doors have all been salvaged from other properties. This house is constructed to breathe. A large chimney from the open fireplace dominates one corner of the main living room and the wooden floor is covered with rugs – some aged Turkish carpets, a small sheepskin a a huge home-made felt rug.
We sit on a selection of cushions and low covered benches and can’t help but study the eclectic collection of artefacts around the room. A huge fabric print hangs on one wall with the slightly faded image of a Native American medicine man. In a dark corner hangs a brightly painted horse skull, and a stack of half finished canvases line another wall.
When asked if there is a ‘Native American theme’ here, what with the print and the dream-catcher, Ozan gently points out that the item hanging from the ceiling is actually a decorated buzzard trap. (He had a chicken to bait the trap, but never used it as the buzzard came to him of his own free-will.) He explains that Turks are closely related to Native Americans and that in fact we are all related. As we sit and talk, Ozan’s wife brings slightly spiced tea and a plate of golden yellow fruits – sort of a cross between a plum and a pear which has glowing bronze coloured stones (which bring the children in, giggling, to share the juicy feast).
Ozan spent his early childhood in Berlin, moved to the suburbs of Marmaris, and then studied art at University in Berlin. From what I understand, he ‘received the hand’ from a Siberian Shaman and has since spent many years studying the healing arts. His knowledge comes partly through training, some from books and a lot through practice and experience.
His attitude to allopathic medicine is at best described as dismissive – in fact he makes jokes about his collection of doctors’ scalps (collected by his Djinn of course!) His views can come across as quite extreme and he enjoys being controversial!
His fundamental thoughts regarding health are that by eating natural food appropriate to our individual constitutions and maintaining an alkaline environment in our bodies we will remain largely healthy. He believes strongly in the use of sea salt, and that we should drink ‘living water’ wherever possible. (The water here comes direct from an underwater spring which flows through the mountain.) The general principles lean towards vedic medicine, based on the four characteristics of hot, cold, dry and wet and he prescribes treatments which restore balance. Naturally the two things which cause the worst imbalance are coffee and alcohol, followed closely by tomatoes! (This causes a bit of a stir, but Ozan is actually speaking in the context of seasonal and appropriate cultivation of food).
Music is an integral part of life at the Shaman’s Sanctuary, and we make our way up the flimsy wooden staircase to the first floor room which doubles as music and healing room and guest bedroom. We are treated to a short display of ‘the grandfather of the piano’, and a selection of wind instruments. The hospitality of this family is never ending, and during the musical interlude we are presented with another round of drinks served in pretty chai glasses. Ozan has a wicked sense of humour, and when asked by one of the group what is in the glasses replies, “Snake’s egg!” He explains (with a straight face), that brown eggs are safe and black may kill you. When asked how you tell the difference, his reply is “Drink!” It is actually a delicious blend of peach, cinnamon and sugar, diluted with iced spring water!
By now, most of the party have left the building and are taking photographs of the spectacular views through the valley. As we leave, we exchange warm farewells, and will certainly accept the Shaman’s invitation to visit again and stay a while. Will you join us?