A couple years back, I stumbled on a surprising reference to the astonishing longevity of Aboriginal shamans living in the Australian outback. Reliable birth records aren’t available before the early 20th century, but government officials have noted an astounding number of nonagenarians and centenarians. And anthropologists report–but, of course, discount–stories of village elders living for 150 years, 200 years, or more.
There are weirder stories, incredible enough to be consigned to footnotes in academic texts: that the shaman of Jimbilum arrived in that community in 1872, already impossibly old, and was dispensing advice, justice, and herbal remedies well until the late 1990s. His cause of death is assumed to be exposure: he left the village one night and was never seen again. Implausibly, residents of Ngunulum claim that their shaman–who, again, departed without a word, some time in early 1960s–claimed to have been personally acquainted with William Dampier, a man who last set foot in Australia in 1688.
I try to be careful with extreme claims, so I’m not going to say that every Aboriginal shaman is immortal. I will, though, go so far as to say that there’s not a single verifiable case of one of them dying.
It gets stranger.
Like many traditional faith healers, shamans follow a number of special rules and taboos. You have the usual prayers, incantations, and prohibitions, and one especially odd dietary fixation: shamans insist on drinking a broth made by boiling water and adding chunks of koala meat.
This is not a minor rule. The departure of the shaman of Jimbilum, for example, coincided with the Australian Department of Environment’s launching of a poaching investigation. Ngunulum’s spiritual leader left after a long drought led to the death of the region’s last remaining koalas.
There is no record of an Aboriginal shaman dying; there is no record of an Aboriiginal shaman going a day without drinking water that’s been steeped in koala flesh and boiled.
I had to investigate.
You’re familiar with the Dark Web, right? (Don’t kid me–of course you are.) I opened an account on one of the lesser-known sites, one that ignored narcotics and credit cards, in favor of more exotic goods. For .275 bitcoin (shipping included), I had a sample of freshly-harvested koala meat en route.
After two weeks, I was pretty sure I’d been had. And pretty sure I deserved it, too. How much time and money should a grown adult spend investigating third-hand reports–and violating endangered species laws on several continents, to boot?
But then, on Monday, a package arrived. Lumpy, misshappen, sealed with three different kinds of tape, it felt strangely heavy and cool to the touch.
I opened it.
The roiling steam looked a lot less dramatic when I realized that, obviously, when you ship meat intercontinentally, you pack it with dry ice.
The koala looks smaller on your kitchen counter than it looks in pictures. I’ve seen lots of pictures of koalas, and always thought they looked cute, but never tasty. The impression doesn’t improve in person.
But it was too late to turn back. I’d already set some water to boil. I stashed most of the koala in the freezer, and sliced off a toe.
In 1927, anthropologist Ursula McConnel recorded a list of rituals of the Wik Mungkan. Among them, the ceremonial boiling of a water infused with koala bits. Exactly 1.2 liters, exactly 3 hours. I followed her recipe to the letter.
And it was DISGUSTING. The foulest, nastiest thing I’d ever tasted. It coats your tongue and lacerates your nostrils and the taste stays with you for hours and the memory is with me still. If this was the route to immortality, maybe dying was a better option.
But I wasn’t finished with my research. I pored over my books and papers, looking for more information on the ritual, and found that it was, in fact, permissible to fiddle with the recipe. Shamans in different regions had different spins on the concoction: as long as you boiled the water long enough, and used genuine koala, the other ingredients didn’t matter.
After some experimentation, I’ve found exactly the right mix of flavorings to make it about as tasty as any other beverage.
I guess you could say this really improved my koala tea of life.
Alright listen up, time to throw some random surprise positivity at @sixshots because I love them a lot okay.
I’m literally the most super shy person to approach people and befriend, I find it really hard to establish a friendship and maintain it but when Dorian approached me we literally fell into a routine of old friends from the get go ( which in a crazy random happenstance is actually quite true). He is so easy going and fun to talk to, and I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve laughed until my stomach hurt or had tears streaming down my face because I just can’t stop laughing.
Literally the sweetest person I really really do enjoy just chatting and dorking around with them. I really do just feel so lucky that we ended up getting to know each other because my day wouldn’t be the same without hearing from them–from the ‘it’s high noon’ of my phone to skype my day doesn’t feel complete unless I’ve chatted to him for a while.
And gosh GOSH I haven’t even begun to talk about McCree yet. I have so much love for McCree as a character–though perhaps not at the beginning but that was just my gamer’s rage at everyone picking McCree and kicking my newbie ass haha. But after I’d actually gotten to see more of McCree as a character and see him around I realized I was totally in love with this cowboy dork and just the way Dorian writes him fills me with a bubbly giggly glee.
I really do hear Jesse’s voice with that little drawl of darlin’ and I can hear the click of his spurs as he moves around. Dorian has such a grasp of character and has enriched McCree as a character with headcanons and everything just fits together so perfectly. The way McCree is written just feels so real and I really enjoy the writing and characterization on my dashboard.
I love this dork cowboy and his writer a lot. 100% BAMF
hello i failed to sleep for more than 6 hours but waking up at midnight is better than waking up at 6 pm i guess … it’s closer to “the morning” rite? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
for some reason i am just filled with love currently
Really random and vaguely embarrassing fact about me:
Somewhere deep down, I am proud to have seen and been aware of Ursula Vernon’s “biting pear” painting before it took on a life of its own and turned into a meme, to be henceforth known as the “lolwut” pear. I got to enjoy the absurdity of the image in its original context, with its proper title and description, instead of seeing it somewhere else first and only discovering the source later.
… It’s like the “I liked that band before they were cool” thing in even more pathetic. Help.