I’d like to conclude my story of the medicine walk with telling you about how Ruth and Larry mirrored the story for me, and what has happened since then. As I mentioned in Three parts of the ceremony, the final stage is reincorporation. During this stage, we bring the gifts of our threshold time back to our people. We find a way to manifest our gifts and vision in the world.
The first way we do that is by telling the gift of our story. Having had the privilege of sitting in story council dozens of times, listening to the stories of fasters, I affirm wholeheartedly the value of hearing these stories. It is moving, uplifting, and makes us more human to witness the vulnerable, innocent, desperate, and triumphant struggles of those who dare to fast alone in the wilderness. It is truly a gift, and we tell the fasters not to squander the gift on just anyone. We tell them to share the story only with those who have ears to hear. I am trusting that you, dear blog readers, are such people, people who have ears to hear.
It was wonderful to sit in circle with Ruth and Larry and tell them about my medicine walk. I gave them the gifts I had made for them, and showed them the bouquet. I told them about the four ceremonies I did.
Although I had focused on each of the four directions in my ceremonies, Ruth said that it was strongly a story of the south, of the place of the child, with the strength and passion of the red south energy. She named the many times I used red in my ceremony—the threshold of red beads, the blood, the red cap for the lizard, the red suede wrapping the bouquet stems, the shield with red hearts on it that I gave my inner man.
This is one of the mysteries of the wheel. When we are working with the wheel, we can view each direction through the lens of one direction—in this case, the south. So the energies of the west and inner man can be viewed from the south. The making of gifts for our people, north energy, can be viewed from the south. And the creative celebration of the east can also be viewed from the south. In this way, the eyes of the child and her strength interact with the energies of the other directions, viewing them with her particular concerns, interacting with them with her innocence and ruthlessness.
Ruth reflected that the little girl in me was strong, and that her love of beadwork was a gift she’d brought to the world that helped me survive. That little girl is a survivor, all right! Ruth honoured the way that I held my little girl, and later made a piece of art depicting my hands unbraiding the little girl’s hair. The freedom of the little girl running through nature after I held her in the ceremony is a feeling I have experienced several times since returning from the desert, when I have listened to my experience deeply. The freedom to just be myself, without distorting, contorting, or contracting to be what I think someone else wants. This is the freedom of the unecumbered soul—the birthright of us all.
The other aspect of my ceremony that Ruth mirrored was that I claimed my balls! I hadn’t realized the significance of this at the time, when I was interacting with my inner man in the final ceremony and gave him some balls of warm peachy-yellow stone. In the past when I have worked with my inner man, I have given him a penis but not thought that the balls were necessary. But I guess a man might have quite a different perception! This spontaneous act of claiming the balls is what solidified and completed my intention of claiming my inner father: I am mother and father to myself, and I have the strength and take the time to care for my hurt self.
I didn’t understand the importance of this brief moment of spying a stone and scooping it up, and sliding it under the penis I’d already give the man figure I created. But this has had an incredible impact on my life since coming home from the desert. Even a few days later, when we returned to Big Pine, the confidence and groundedness in my body was palpable. I went on a night run through the town of Big Pine, saw some pink roses drenched with recent rain, and totally ravished them, sinking my face into the petals and drinking up the rose-flavoured water. This is what it feels like to be a man, taking what I want! (I imagine! Any male readers who care to comment on whether this is true for you, please do.)
Other evidence of the incorporation of my inner father continues to manifest. I noticed right away that a particular kind of longing for something from a man had disappeared. I didn’t need it from the outside, because I had it on the inside now. I am speaking of a longing to be seen, cherished, approved of, loved. What I wanted from my father, and sought from lovers. I was no longer looking at men with this same needy eye, hungering and trying to get something from them. There is truly a feeling of completeness on the inside. And, correspondingly, a realization that no man can give me this. This makes me feel freer—no longer driven to try to be what another wants to get the love from the outside. And it also gives any men I might come across freedom to be who they are, not the projection of my father. So freedom all around. That’s a good thing!
One interesting thing I have noticed as I recount the events of last October to you is that I can’t recall what Larry said. I didn’t take notes of the mirroring. Although I vividly recollect sitting in circle, and hugging Larry at the end of the mirroring, I can’t remember any words. I only remember a loving feeling of being held by his warm attention. Perhaps the claiming of my inner father manifested this way as well—I didn’t need to be affirmed by a man on the outside. [Coming back to this later it occurs to me that of course Larry affirmed my story. I may not have needed his words to affirm my words, but the warmth of being truly listened to and heard is something I do need, and that I felt nourished by on this occasion.]
And finally, I hope you will all understand something else from this story. By being more fully who I am, free to be my true self—playful, innocent, strong, vulnerable, confident, dignified, silly, and joyful—I actually am free to contribute my gifts more freely in the world. This is one of the benefits of the vision fast ceremony. It empowers us all to be more fully ourselves, and this is the greatest gift we can bring our people.
Next time I will tell you about a dream I had the night after I returned, which illustrated some of the themes I have written about in a beautiful way.