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Shift Happens…

Divine Journeys is now…

La Loba Earth Medicine

Shift happens! The only sure thing is change…

Ten years ago I decided that it was time to offer my work to the world. I needed, among other things, a name. I needed a name that described what I had to offer my community. I had sacrificed nights and weekends to attend a year long school of medicinal herbalism. I had wandered the woods, getting to know these plants in a personal way. I had spent many years immersing myself in the practice of shamanism. I had attended hundreds of hours of workshops from the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. I had studied at the feet of several amazing shamans. I had read dozens of books. I had gained a deep relationship with my own Guides and was in touch with the wisdom they had to offer. It was time!

“Coincidences” are messages from the Universe, I believe. There are no accidents. I was pondering a name for my beautiful, sunny healing room/classroom on my small farm. In the mail a notice arrived, notifying me that my mailing address was going to be changed. The new name of the road I lived on???

Divine Drive.

A friend said “How can you ignore that?” How indeed? Divine Journeys. Divine: of Spirit, and the name of my road. Journeys: a primary tool of the shaman. Perfect. And it was, for close to ten years. But I have evolved, my practice has expanded, and I have moved away from Divine Drive.

I have ventured deeply into the realm of Plant medicine, not simply herbs as commodities for human health, but as co-habitants of our Earth. I have surrendered my will to Teacher Plants, and have had doors open that I did not know where even there. I have spent countless hours acting as a channel for healing, with individuals and in Ceremony with community. I have taught others and been taught.

I have lived deeply and intimately with the Land and many plants, insects and animals. I learned first hand about the circle of life, planting, birthing, gathering, foraging, harvesting. I have understood the immense honor and horror of knowing the face of my food. I have uncovered the comforting lies of the mono-cultured supermarket.

My Guides show me magical images that the artist in me hungers to bring into this dimension.They show me these images in night dreams and day dreams. I have painted drums, wired together beautiful bones into jewelry, cradled skulls in my hand to honor them with painted symbols.

Shifting sand under my feet- both uncomfortable and exciting. Once again I needed a name. I needed a name that described what I now wish to contribute to my community. One day, I was gently cupping a Coyote skull in my hands, in order to draw a shaman’s hand upon it. I was recently returned from another Journey with a Plant Teacher, and needed quiet space to integrate. Playing in the background was a CD by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of “Women Who Run with the Wolves”. She was telling the story of La Loba, the Wolf Woman.

La Loba is an old Crone woman, who lives alone in the wild. Every day she scours the Land for the bones of animals. La Loba especially seeks the bones of Wolves. These bones she brings back to her home. When La Loba has a complete skeleton, she lays it out under the moon and sings a song. As she sings, the Earth shakes and the dismembered bones begin to regain flesh and fur. Finally, the animal draws breath and runs aways, fully alive. If the re-membered skeleton is a complete Wolf, she runs under the moonlight and Wolf becomes a laughing Wolf Woman. This woman goes into the world to teach others about their own wild nature.

Sitting there, recovering from a deep session with a Plant teacher, painting the hand of the shaman onto the skull of the Coyote, I began to cry. This is the whole of the process. We must find our bones- gather the hard, unchangeable pieces of ourselves that remain even after the flesh has been ripped off by living. When we find all of our pieces, and we are ready, we can sing our soul-song. We can pour out all that is within us, under the light of the moon. And sometimes, if we get it right, we re-member ourselves. We remember our wild nature. We might run, laughing, into the night, reborn.

“I can feel it in my bones” we say. The place that knows about the trees, the river, the language of the birds. The energy of the Thunderbeings, the soft whisper of the Corn mothers. Yes indeed. The Land is waiting for us to find all the pieces of ourselves again. Waiting for us to remember and be re-membered. A name had found me, again. La Loba Earth Medicine.

Divine Journeys will begin to migrate over to the new site LaLobaEarthMedicine in the coming weeks. I am grateful for everyone who has supported me and the ways of herbs and Spirit over the years. AHO!

Vine of the Soul: 7:: Rebirth

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Illustration by my friend, Abraxas

Another ceremony, another day. I have been with the Medicine now for a few hours, listening to the wisdom she offers. She tells me things that give me a deeper understanding of the world, the universe, myself. Many of these I remember later and write down, but many more slip away like the edges of dreams.

At some point during these conversations, I become aware that one of my Spirit Helpers, Snake, is present. My Guides are always in my awareness, but this is different. This feels more physical, more real, as if a large snake is in the room with me. As I begin to focus on this sensation, I feel as though Snake is inside me, perhaps in or on top of my belly. My vision dims and I seem to be seeing through grey scales. Grandmother tells me that transformation is coming.

Snake, with scales and ridged belly muscles begins to undulate through me. I FEEL him, and I know that he FEELS me. We are very aware of each other and the sensations of being together in one body. He stretches, tests, writhes, expands. It is painful, this merging. Grandmother whispers to me, “find the beauty in the pain”, and I focus on her instruction. Snake expands until all of his body fits within all of my body from foot to neck. I feel Snake’s head trying to push through the narrow passage of my neck and jaw. This is very laborious, and I feel it is an impossibility.

“Unhinge your jaw, sister”, the Medicine whispers. I ponder this. Snake begins to unhinge his own jaw, to make his large head more flexible for this final aspect of our merge. I observe the process, amazed. Can I do that? I try to loosen my jaw. Recently, jaw clenching  has become a habit for me. The Medicine gently reminds me that a locked jaw is good for nothing. One cannot eat, breathe, speak or transform with a locked jaw.

I work at it. I loosen my mouth, I tilt back my head. My ego tells me that my behavior may look strange and I cover my upper body and face with my silk pashmina. The privacy this affords me lets me focus on my task. I breathe, stretch, open my jaw, my throat. I feel Snake pushing through, eager to “see” though our soon to be shared eyes. It hurts, and my eyes fill up with tears from the effort. Finally, finally he pushes through. The relief is immense. I take a deep breath and tears flow down my cheeks. I feel Snake wanting to see with his new set of eyes. I open my own cautiously, still under the cover of my shawl. I sit up, lift the edge of the fabric and gaze around the room…

It is intense, vivid, colorful. This shared vision is amazing. I see details and patterns I have never before noticed. I scan slowly from left to right and back again. Eventually I cover my face again, aware that I have been scanning the room in an intense and strange way. My ego tells me to stop being weird. I lie down again and Snake and I explore our newly merged body. He is amazed by my hands and arms and moves them. I am thrilled with his strong belly muscles and I roll them.  Snake will never again be outside of me, we are forever merged. We explore our new merge for a while.

“Unhinge your jaw, sister”, Grandmother says again, abruptly bringing my awareness away from the exploration of my new snaky body. I am confused at first, wondering why I must do this again. I begin to feel contractions in my low belly, a tightening of the strong snake muscles. I open my jaw again, as best I can. The belly muscles ripple from the root upward through my body in deep spasms. I cannot breathe, my body tightens and turns rigid. My eyes stream tears of pain and effort. Finally, in a rush of the out breath, I release what my body worked so hard to expel. I am amazed when nothing solid exits my mouth- this purge is purely energetic.

Over and over my body spasms then contorts with deep gripping contractions that feel like reverse childbirth. Over and over I release energetic matter from deep within my body. This is hard, I gasp for breath and cry in between spasms. My tears are both from pain and effort and of happiness; I am deeply grateful for this cleansing release. Around me in the room, a man sings a gentle love song on his guitar. Another brother plays a giant didgeridoo, which sounds like a bull elephant. Fantastic. I continue my energetic purging for several hours, long after most have left the community area. Gracias, Madre. This is healing…


Psychological trauma has long been treated by shamans using spiritual ceremonies and plant entheogens. Guillermo Arrevalo, a Shipibo murailias (master) shaman, had this response when asked if European and American cultures are suffering from spiritual and psychological crisis: “That’s what I see. It is clear among many people. Indeed, many of them also suffer from depression. Others are enslaved by their work. Others are hooked into materialism and they have been neglectful of the spiritual part of themselves. Many of them have been badly treated by their family. They suffer emotionally from this, often from their father’s behavior toward them. This happens both to Europeans and Americans—this depression.”

Ana Llamazares, Argentine anthropologist, researcher and professor has much to say about Western spiritual disconnect in her article “The Wounded West”. “Materialistic reductionism—i.e. the conviction that the world is only the narrow slice of material reality—has worsened our existential situation. The consciousness of interconnectivity, of our natural participation in the web of life and in the cosmic order, is only possible if we transcend the immediate dimension of the material and access other subtler levels of reality and perception.” Llamares goes on to state that the Western life view of separateness ultimately creates feelings of “anguish, anxiety, depression, fear, abandonment, and a long list of psychophysical manifestations, from the now common stress to the increasingly frequent degenerative diseases and cardiovascular conditions.”

[Author's Note: My purpose in these writings is to share my 
personal experiences. I am not suggesting that working with plant 
entheogens is an appropriate path for everyone. In fact, I caution anyone who wishes to work with these plants to do so only after 
great consideration. All people considering this path of 
exploration should work diligently to find authentic healers to 
work with. Persons with addiction issues, those who have been 
diagnosed with mental illness and people with deep emotional 
issues should work directly with healers who have the knowledge 
and professional background to address after-effects that may 
arise from this profound work. The magnificent artwork on this 
post was made for me by a friend, Abraxas, after listening to my story.]

Vine of the Soul: 6: Grandmother Speaks

Nicolaes Maes [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Nicolaes Maes [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’m scared, but not as scared as I was while waiting for the first few ceremonies to begin. I have decided that no matter what the shaman offers me in his little silver cup, I will drink only a modest mouthful of the Ayahuasca brew. I wait for my turn in the circle to come, and pad over in my bare feet to where the shaman sits. He confers briefly with his assistant, and hands me the tiny cup. It contains just exactly a mouthful of the brown, lumpy goo known as The Medicine.

I walk back to my mat within the circle, suppressing the urge to vomit. I note that the taste of Ayahuasca is getting less tolerable for me each time I drink it. I sit up straight and call my Guides to me. Snake has been a long time friend and teacher, and he sits curled in front of my crossed legs when I close my eyes to check in. This will be the last time he ever sits there, although I am unaware of that now. I pray, once again, for gentleness as I wait for the Medicine to arrive.

I begin to rock back and forth as the telltale ringing begins in my ears. The shaman’s voice is huge, rippling, as he sings. Colors come then- jagged geometric shapes of intense teal, aqua, blue- all around my head. Lovely. The colors are accompanied by nausea, and I think I may vomit, but I do not. I hear a whisper inside my head, softly at first but then louder. Repeating, like a mantra “trust the Medicine, trust the Medicine”. I recognize that this is the voice of the vine- of the Grandmother herself, and I am honored and humbled. The vivid colors now make shapes like a Spirograph, a game from my childhood. The shapes turn and spin and shimmer, wildly kaleidoscopic. Nausea comes and goes. I lie down and cover myself with a blanket.

How long I lay there with the colors I cannot say. When I come back to some awareness, I am crying. Actually, I am not crying in the traditional way, with choking sobs and moans. Instead, my eyes are simply crying for me. A constant stream of hot, salty tears run down my cheeks, wetting my neck and pillow. I understand that I have been holding onto a lot of sadness, and have a lot of crying to catch up on. Grandmother whispers to me that my body can care for itself, and it does. For the rest of the 4 hour ceremony, my eyes cry for me, steadily and constantly, with or without my attendance.

During this stretch of time, I receive many teachings from the Medicine. The primary message to me this day is that it is time to say goodbye to the woman I have been for the past 30 years. Time to release the blood, the cycle, the bonds of being woman. Time to step up into the place of the Elder, the Wise Woman. There, she told me, femininity is about dignity and power, softness and understanding. I cry for my woman-self, curled up on my mat with the last of the days light streaming though the open window. I cry deeply, sobbing into my pillow to muffle the sounds of my heartache. I cry all my regrets, all my shortcomings, all my bad choices. I feel held as I cry- held by the singing of my sisters around me, held by Grandmother. There is no hurry, I can cry for her. When my sobs diminish I find myself standing at the edge of a new pathway…


 

Maiden, Mother and Crone, the three phases of being a woman. The transition is sometimes painful from one phase to the next. We leave our innocent childhood behind as our bodies begin to bleed. We then spend 35 or 40 years in the Mother stage of womanhood, a place of fertility and sexuality, where many of us are focused on reproduction, family, and our mate(s). During these years we bleed in concert with the Moon, every 28 days, caught in a reproductive cycle and governed by our hormones. Maybe we give birth to children, maybe we don’t.  We might have careers, perhaps not. Regardless, we are the mothers, lovers and caregivers of the world.

The Crone traditionally has two faces in our culture. She is the ugly, wrinkled and wart-riddled protagonist in so many fairy tales. Crone is the scary, long nailed and bent fingered witch who flies in the night. Crone can help you or hurt you at her whim. Conversely, Crone is the grandmother, in her apron, baking cookies. She is sweet, docile, fragile. Neither of these archetypes describe the reality of today’s Crone.

Crone is the wise woman who has seen a bit of everything and has achieved wisdom to accompany her knowledge. She is no longer slave to her cycles and hormones. Crone has often learned how to live simply and in solitude with deep satisfaction. Crone is the elder who now has time to dive deeply into the Gifts of the Divine Feminine: Intuition, magic, wisdom.

I always thought I would age gracefully. I had been told in previous conversations with my own Spirit Helpers that I would not reach my full potential as a Healer until menopause. And yet, as my hair starts to grey and lines appear in my face, I sometimes find myself mourning my woman-self as I face the transition into Crone. I miss my estrogen- the ups and downs of it, the roller coaster ride- even as I sink deeply into the relief of being more grounded with less of it.

We are living longer these days, and retirement has a new meaning. Women are retiring from being moms and wives and finding new and meaningful careers. People 55 and older represent the highest number of new business owners. Many women in their later years win hard-fought battles with illness and disease, and find themselves with the gift of 20 or 30 more productive years ahead. Other women completely discard the cloaks they have worn previously and discover entirely new ways of being in the world. The world needs empowered women of all types if we are to re-balance the patriarchal energies that currently dominate our Earth home. Go on, Crone, own your power. The world needs you.

[Author's Note: My purpose in these writings is to share my 
personal experiences. I am not suggesting that working with plant 
entheogens is an appropriate path for everyone. In fact, I caution anyone who wishes to work with these plants to do so only after 
great consideration. All people considering this path of 
exploration should work diligently to find authentic healers to 
work with. Persons with addiction issues, those who have been 
diagnosed with mental illness and people with deep emotional 
issues should work directly with healers who have the knowledge 
and professional background to address after-effects that may 
arise from this profound work. All photos posted are attributed to their original source(s) and are not mine.]

Beauty Products: The Ugly Truth

Me- In an Herbal Mask

The American government doesn’t require health studies or pre-market testing of the chemicals in our health and beauty care products, even though just about everyone is exposed to them. Cosmetics aren’t subject to the same oversight as food and pharmaceuticals, according to the Food & Drug Administration. The FDA doesn’t have the responsibility to approve new ingredients or issue safety recalls. It’s up to the manufacturer to decide whether a product is safe.

Imagine that… big business deciding for us if a product is safe… think about it. Once you have pondered that a bit, visit this website

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

and search for your favorite health and beauty products. Soap, shampoo, powders, conditioner, sprays, sunscreen, skin creams, lotion, make-up- search them all. The Environmental Working Group is the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization.  Their mission is to serve as a watchdog to see that Americans get straight facts, unfiltered and unspun, so they can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment. See how safe your products are, then come back here for some better ideas.

Ready? Great. Here is the really good news- many of those very high-priced products are LESS effective than those you can make in your kitchen. Just look at the ingredient list- the primary ingredient is listed first, with the rest listed in descending order. So that product you pay $40, $50 and even $80 for is primary water or alcohol. Nice.

makeupSkin care and cosmetics seem to have some of the most toxic ingredients. Make no mistake about it- beauty is BIG business. Keep remembering the big business folks get to decide if what they put in your product is safe. Cosmetics. Unregulated. Marketing is expensive. Shiny packages and fancy names for simple ingredients cost money. TV & magazine ads, big shiny displays in the stores, models with pouty lips- these things cost LOTS of money! That really doesn’t leave much cheddar left for the ingredients. So, water it is. Or alcohol. Or lab produced stuff that is “formulated to be more effective than regular” ingredients. OK I will hop off the soapbox. Thanks for reading, if you did…

lipstickI would like to offer you some very effective alternatives. As a young woman I discovered that I was highly sensitive to chemicals and fragrances. Most commercially produced cosmetics and skin care products bother me in some way.  I will break out in itchy red bumps or scaly patches. My eyes will burn and itch. The chemical scents (these are labeled as FRAGRANCE or PERFUME) often give me instant headaches. In my 20s I began a journey toward clean, healthy products. 25 years and a lot of research and education later, I think I have some good solutions. Let me share some with you.

I have decided to post ALL of my recipes for alternatives to chemical health, beauty and cleaning products on my website. I used to make and sell these fabulous products and teach classes on how to make them, but I rarely have the time anymore. Please visit my E-store, where you can buy these recipes for as little as $1.50. That’s half the cost of your fancy coffee, for a recipe that lasts forever. The recipes are simple and easy to make. Unlike many websites, which simply copy and regurgitate the same material over and over again, I have made and used EVERY recipe I post. Message me and let me know what you think!

The Story of Snake

 

Snake Drum, painted by me- Detail. FOR SALE $650

Snake Drum, painted by me- Detail. FOR SALE $650

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got the offer from Snake many years ago, while I was still married to my ex, but when it was clear that my marriage was falling apart. There were suddenly snakes EVERYWHERE, especially after he left…

-A six or seven foot black snake living under my stove (!!!!!!!)
-A black snake coiled around my washing machine hose one day as I began to do laundry…
-One morning I woke up in my farmhouse and sat up to look outside, and there in a huge maple tree, on a branch that almost touched my bedroom window, was hanging a snake in the midst of shedding it’s skin…
-A booming, thrashing thunderstorm and I run to close the door and a snake is side-winding up the screen door trying to get in…

This type of snakey-thing went on for MONTHS, and I had a deep primal fear of snakes. I could almost black out for seconds with the screaming fear when one got soooo close. I knew what Hi wanted. I was already deep onto my shamanic Path and I knew Hi wanted me as a partner. I resisted. I was terrified of snakes.

Finally…
One day I went on a hike, by myself, on a path in Sleepy Creek, WV to a rocky overlook. I needed to get away, maybe meditate, maybe cry. I got to the several hundred foot rocky drop where I often went to be alone. I always look for “others” before stepping out onto the edge of the rocky area to sit down. I
looked. Nobody there, 2 legged, 4 legged, winged or scaled. I stepped down from the path onto my favorite large “seat” boulder and stopped a moment to gaze over the valley in appreciation. Then I took off my pack and turned around to put it down…

and there Hi was.

A huge pile of snakey-ness. HUGE. Head up, arched back, attentive but not quite in strike pose. Rattle-end trembling oh so slightly, but not enough to make a sound.

HI. WAS. NOT. THERE. WHEN. I. STEPPED. DOWN. ONTO. THE. BOULDER. WE. NOW. SHARED.

Was NOT there. How could Hi have been? I had to STEP OVER this huge pile of snake to get where I was now- in between Hir and the side of the cliff.

In those seconds my body wanted to scream, jump backwards (!), leap over Hir huge poised head back to the safety of the path. Less than 2 feet between me and Hir. Less than a half foot between me and the edge of the cliff. On a semi-circular boulder with three current choices… OFF the cliff behind me, OVER Hir head onto the path, or remain very still.

I did one of those things, and I am thankful.

I froze. I stopped breathing. I broke out in goose-flesh and cold sweat and my hair stood on end. After an eternity of a few seconds, I silently said to Hir, something like…

“Please don’t hurt me. I mean no harm. I GET IT and I surrender to you. Please let me live and I will accept your offer”

Ever so slowly, Hi unfurled Hir lovely, horrible body and following the back edge of that boulder where it emerged from the ground, Hi moved away from me. Hir head disappeared over the edge of the boulder before Hir tail even moved. BIG. SNAKE. Timber rattler, I learned later…

I collapsed onto the boulder and cried. Huge shaking sobs. When I finally cried myself out, I had a new Power Animal. Snake. Serpent. Symbol of life, DNA, transmutation. Villain and hero in so many Creation stories from so many cultures.

Snake has been the most powerful Teacher and Companion in my spiritual life. Snake has shown me Who I Am in so many ways. Hi is not an easy Friend. Not warm and sweet like Deer nor strong like Bear. Snake is about transmutation. Snake teaches us to shed our skin when it is time to grow. Snake teaches that the physically fragile can be strong, sinuous, sensual, mystical. With Snake there are two choices: grow or die. Snake IS the DNA strand, the very DANCE of life. I am honored to have Hir.

This is the story of how we met.

Merging smaller

Art of me and Snake Spirit by the amazing Abraxas1138

 

***NOTES: Many people have asked me why I associate myself with a Snake. Snakes tend to create fear in us, and make us think of danger. Snake is not evil, bad or scary for me any longer but is a trusted friend.The pronouns Hi and Hir are intended to indicate both respect for the energy of Snake, and to honor Hir state of non-duality- Hi is genderless***

 

Why Teach Belly Dance?

I teach belly dance

because it is perfectly OK to be a woman.
In fact, it is fabulous, awful, juicy and magical to be you, woman
it is bloody and sultry and screaming and sweet.

and
because you are not a sin
you are ok
better than ok
you are the world…

in a world
where it can be unsafe to be
fully
completely
Woman,
I want to offer a space where you can be safe
and free

I teach belly dance because your body
and my body
want to move
and tell our stories
and sing
the songs of life.

you have been told
it is dangerous
naughty
shameful
inappropriate
to be so beautiful

but you are already beautiful
it is who you are

you can hide yourself within your self
you can pad all your curvy sweet places until they are unrecognizable
you can burn away all the softness until only sharp bones remain

and yet

there you are. a goddess still.

let’s dance and be the siren
that calls to the world
let them lay at your feet
dazzled

I teach belly dance because you are a goddess
and I honor you.

~palms together, Kristen

Didden and Dorsey: On Wholistic Health

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of co-hosting the weekly radio show called “7 Generations”. This radio show is the brainchild of Joe Gray. Joe says the show’s mission is to promote the sustainability of human and all life on the planet. The 7 Generations title is in honor of the North American Indian sacred practice of considering the impact seven generations into the future in all important decisions.

This day, we talked to Dr. Dave Didden, Dave is the physician and owner of Potomac Integrative Health is a new family micropractice in Shepherdstown, West Virginia started by Dr. Dave Didden, MD.  Dr. Dave grew up in Jefferson County, WV and received both his MD and completed his residency in family practice at the University of Virginia.  He has practiced medicine locally for 8 years and lives in Shepherdstown with his family.

We covered many topics! The discussion covered alternative paths to good health, pharmaceuticals, natural herbs, lifestyle and stress, vaccination and other related subjects.Please give a listen if you like, and join Joe on each Saturday’s edition of 7 Generations radio on 897wshc.org/listen-live at 11 AM.

You can listen to our conversation by CLICKING THIS LINK

 

The Pelican

He flew directly toward me, as though planning to crash-land on my head. His wingspan was huge, and he was coming in fast. The primal instinct that lives within and just under the surface told me to move away, to fling up my arms and guard myself from this huge bird. Another part of me sensed no harm in his intention, in that split second of decision…

I threw up my chin and opened my chest area to him, expressing my awareness and sending waves of welcoming, awestruck energy from my heart. He braked in mid-air and landed on the railing of the pier several feet from me and my companion. He landed facing me, and he stayed that way through the rest of the encounter. There were plenty of other places for him to land; the dock wasn’t particularly crowded with people or other birds.

Pelican

 

 

 

 

 

 

My companion and I were in Florida for a weekend this past March, escaping the harsh cold of Winter. We were preparing to return home, spending the last few precious hours of sunshine strolling the dock and enjoying the breeze. My companion had been standing to my left, but stepped away to take this picture of the encounter.

The pelican and I stood looking directly at each other. I greeted him with soft words and extended my energy body toward him. Extending one’s energy body is a Universal way of welcoming other beings- it is similar to a handshake. And, like a handshake, I simply extend the offer, while I wait for the response.

As I spoke softly to him with my words and energy, he gazed directly at me with his shiny brown eyes and responded by rapidly opening and closing his beak with small movements that made a gentle clicking sound. I continued to watch him with curiosity, wondering why he decided to commune with me in such a deliberate way. My companion had moved away- in nervousness or perhaps to be able to observe- I am not sure which.

I noticed then that the Pelican was trembling slightly, and holding up his foot. There was a large fish hook embedded in the webbing of his foot, and it was very clearly hurting him. “Ooooooh”, I said softly. “You are in pain.” He clicked his beak and wobbled his head a bit, still looking directly at me.

Noticing the fish hook

Noticing the fish hook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then began many moments of negotiation with the Pelican, where he and I truly attempted to cross the bridge of instinct that separated us. When I communicate with animals (and some people as well) I send images and feelings, which are part of the Universal language all entities share. I really wanted to reach out and cross the small three feet of space that separated us, so that I could remove that fish hook from his upheld foot.

We tried. I sent the image of me leaning forward, ever so slowly, extending my arm, and using my clever digits to grasp that fish hook. I showed him that it would cause pain when I removed it. I showed him my fear, too, that he would hurt me with his huge wings and beak. I apologized for the fish hook, knowing that it was my kind from whom the injury occurred, intentional or otherwise.

He looked back at me, chattering his beak intermittently, gazing away and then back again. I felt him consider and want what I offered. I felt the hot pain in his foot and the exhaustion from not being able to put weight on it. I felt his hunger. I felt his immense resistance toward me in the form of survival instinct. I asked him to take the first step, please, by moving a little closer. “Just a few inches” I said with my intention. “If you can do that, I will see it as consent and try to remove the hook”.

We just couldn’t bridge the gap. We both tried. That three feet between us was filled with too much. It wasn’t just him, either. I am also a creature of instinct. My eyes are tearing up now as I write about it. I think we could have gotten there eventually if time had been on our side. But I had a plane to catch, and a bewildered companion to think about. I was very aware of my companion’s energy, pressing against me, wondering what I was doing. Feeling concern for my safety. Being conscious of the time. And perhaps even feeling a little embarrassed, as I conversed with that great bird while people walked by.

In the end, the pelican and I negotiated energy work. I raised the palms of my hands slowly, holding them softly to imply no threat. Then I inched forward until I hit the energetic boundary of his “no further, or I must leave” edge. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply, connecting to All That Is, gathering the abundant and freely available energy of Life, and breathed it out toward his foot.

I breathed relief of pain. I breathed an energy ring around the place where the fish hook penetrated his webbing. I breathed protection from infection. I breathed relaxation and rejuvenation for his trembling body. As I did this, my sweet friend lay down on his chest, resting, with his foot hanging over the edge of the railing. His eyes drooped a bit, and we both felt the safety and trust of our negotiation.

As I have said in past posts, animals receive energy well and very quickly. Soon we were done. Before I left him, I sent a final intention and request that the fish hook work itself out without further damage or pain to my friend. And I made one last offer to reach out and physically remove the hook. He remained on his chest, resting quietly. “OK” I said to him with my intention. “I am walking now to the land end of this pier. If you change your mind, come find me.”

I wish him well and think of him often. I am so grateful for the honor of his recognition of me and for our amazing encounter. I’m a lucky woman.

pelican

Pelican holding up his injured foot

 

 

 

Know… No… and the Sacred Maybe

no“NO!” I screamed inwardly, all my inner doors slamming shut with a resounding crash. Outwardly, not much had changed. I still sat attentively, with a smile on my face, body pointed toward the speaker, making the simple physical gestures of “I’m listening”. A person well versed in body-speak would likely have noticed a glazing over of my eyes, perhaps a slight twitch of a finger, maybe some rigidity in my shoulders…

“I know! That’s right!” I say with emphatic nods, leaning forward in anticipation of the moment when I can say what I have to say about the shared topic. The speaker feels affirmed, perhaps, but my body is not in a soft, receptive state. It is in an assertive, strong state. Agreement, yes, but how much listening is happening? And do I really know everything the speaker wishes to share? Unlikely…

“Watch your NOs” They told me. Not the one on my face between my eyes. The one between my ears. Additionally They told me to watch my KA-NOs (knows). “Piece of cake” I thought to myself. After all, am I not an open-minded, forward thinking, sometimes plain old weird person? Why would They even be advising this?

So I watched. And I cringed. I experienced my inner doors slamming shut on an alarmingly regular basis. I listened to myself say “yeah I know” in an habitual manner. These NOs and Ka-Nos came into focus and looked disturbingly like the tall, thick walls of a prison cell. A self-imposed cage. Yikes. “OK” I confessed. “You’ve got me. What now?” They told me to stop, of course…

“But I cannot simply go around saying YES to every little thing!” I ranted. Imagine it! Every request, every new idea, every activity, every…everything… yes??? What of good boundaries! What of taking care of me! What about “EN OH PERIOD” being a complete sentence! I recoiled. Bristled. Crossed my arms over my chest. Basically… I said no. Again.

Eventually I quieted; released my resistance; softened my body; relaxed my mind. My Guidance has been a most wonderful gift. I have learned to deeply trust this Inner Voice. Within this softer stance I realized that I was forgetting about an entire spectrum of gray space in between NO and YES. The Sacred Maybe.

I have begun to say maybe. I have only had a few months of this practice. Saying “maybe” keeps me soft and open. Flexible. Less brittle. Stronger. Saying maybe opens me to possibilities I had never even made room for. Maybe is also in no particular hurry- it is a patient place, slow and mellow. I can say “maybe” and set it aside to ripen. Often “maybe” ripens into “no”. But it is a soft no, an intentional no, a mindful no. A no full of compassion.

The best and most juicy part of my “maybe” practice is when it has become “yes”. A yes that was previously not a possibility. The birth of a new place. An entirely new landscape. The shape-shift of an habitual NO into a soft MAYBE which germinates into a fragile YES has been provocative. Already, this mindfulness practice of the Sacred Maybe has caused the ground to shift under my feet. Exciting.

I declare 2014 the year of the Sacred Maybe. I offer you a seat on the bus, a place in the pod. Be sure you are ready for the Journey, don’t take it lightly. When you are ready, grab your things and let’s go.

– NOTICE of every time you say NO or I KNOW. Pay attention to both the inner and outer instances. Of course, “no” and “I know” may be the exact right response at times. But when it is an habitual or learned response, just notice it.

-DECIDE to stand in the Sacred Maybe. This can be alarming or disconcerting at first. You are not saying yes, you are simply not saying no. The Sacred Maybe. Set this new maybe aside for as long as you need. Let it germinate into a mindful no or a possible yes.

-ALLOW the yeses that have been birthed to guide you into new places, experiences and paradigm shifts. And please share your experiences. We all benefit from the gift of your sharing. Enjoy!

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
We have refused
Again and again
Until now.
Until now. ~David Whyte

 

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