The bears and the trees!

Bear through the treesI was feeling somewhat lazy after my nap, so I decided to just move my rain jacket into the sunshine and lounge around a while longer. I noticed all the plants were crushed where I had been laying, so I knelt down to give the earth Reiki and thank her for sheltering me there. One of the plants looked like sage. There is a lot of sage around Merritt, where the land is more open and dry. I hadn’t yet found any near my land, but maybe this was it! I picked a piece of leaf, crushed it between my fingers, and smelled, hoping for the alluring sharp scent of sage, but it wasn’t.

As I knelt there I heard a sound behind me. It was a small sound, and I imagined it was a mouse rustling through the grass. I looked in the direction of the sound and saw a big black bear, eating grass and moving straight towards me! Not a mouse at all! The bear was only 20 yards away! I felt delight, fear, and wonder. My legs felt very trembly and weak as I crouched there. My senses became heightened and I noticed the sound of a squirrel with its rat-a-tat chatter nearby. I was worried about the bear getting closer, for I feared that if he discovered my presence too late, he would feel forced to attack. Inspired, I imitated the squirrel’s chatter, thinking it would alert the bear to my presence without alarming it. For the bear would surely notice that my call did not really sound like a squirrel!

Sure enough, the bear looked up and saw me. He froze. I continued to crouch, facing away from the bear so I didn’t seem threatening. I could only see him out of the corner of my eye. What would he do? I was afraid he would charge me. I scanned for means of protection, and prepared to grab the long thin stick that was on the ground in front of me. I could brandish the stick and stand tall. Or maybe hide behind the tree nearby. The bear was probably also trying to figure out what to do! He snorted and snuffled very loudly, and retreated about 10 yards back up the hill. Was he smelling me? He paused and looked to see if I would pursue.

I was still afraid he might charge back at me. I stayed as still as I could. The bear snorted and snuffled some more, very loudly, and then lumbered about another 20 yards up the hill, behind some trees. He paused again, and then snorted and snuffled away until I couldn’t hear him any more. What a gift! I wished I had looked at the bear some more while I had the chance, but I didn’t want him to think I was aggressive.

Suddenly, potential danger over, I felt very tired. I noticed it was very hot in the sun. I wanted to taste more of the bear’s presence. I wanted to follow him! It is always that way for me after magical contact with bears and other wild creatures. The visit is too short, and I want more.

I sat down and sensed into what had just occurred. It seemed to me that there were two levels of interaction going on. The level of the animal soul was obvious; my attention had gone to survival, and I believe the bear’s had too. We were both assessing each other as a potential threat, and determining the best course of action to take for protection. But it seemed there was another level on which the bear had contacted me. I had the sense that within or including the animal being there was a spirit being that was looking at me. It seemed that spirit being had a message for me. The feeling-tone was benevolent and protective. I recall that even now, more than five years later, though I didn’t write it down in my journal. At the time I wrote that the message from the bear was that if I am humble and have basic trust, I can stand my ground. The meaning of this has continued to unfold for me over time, with my sense of being able to trust in reality growing and deepening over the years. It has allowed me to act from an inner ground of confidence and support that can speak with gentleness rather than the protective anger I have used and written about extensively on this blog! The other impact of the bear encounter was that I felt called to do more to protect the bear. This theme also has continued to unfold over the years.

Wow, what an amazing, wonderful thing to happen on my medicine walk! It was still well before noon, but I felt that having seen moose and now bear, my day was complete. What else could compare to this? However, I was walking until dusk, so there was still a long way to go! To be continued…

The birds and the bees

Butterfly in the meadowI looked around the green meadow, enjoying the quiet and the sunshine. A plant with holly-like leaves bloomed nearby. It had delicate yellow corn-kernel blossoms that smelled like daffodils. A bird landed on a branch close by and peeped. I made the sound of the “come to me” bird, and the little one flew closer. I called again and it fluttered near me, perched, fluttered near, perched, fluttered to me a third time, and then flew away. I wondered what this meant, sure it had some kind of significance. Feeling drowsy and content, I slipped into sleep.

A mosquito buzzed me while I napped, but I covered my face and drowsed on, determined to catch my own zees! After a while I woke, and looked around the meadow again. I noticed the flowers of the ground cover plant stone crop. Tiny pale pink bells with deep pink tips. The air smelled of sweet pine in the sun. A small fuzzy beige bee with a very long needle nose landed on the stone crop. Then a very big fat yellow bee with a loud buzz showed up. It buzzed around me for quite a while. It was at least an inch long! It seemed to me that nature was very friendly and glad I was here. The big bee landed on my jacket, right over my heart. Could it smell the sweetness flowing there?

My spot grew shady, so I moved over a little into the sun. My movement must have startled an animal, for I heard a deer or moose bounding away through the trees. I did some yoga, and all the stretches I knew for various parts of my body that have been injured over the years. I stood up after I’d done the final resting pose, and saw a hawk gliding silently overhead. It was very close and I could see the sun flashing on its feathers. I swatted at a mosquito and it flew away.

This spot was shady now too, and I debated what to do. It was so pleasant here, but maybe I should walk on. Little did I know I was about to have an encounter that would change my life forever! To be continued…

A morning nap in the meadow

Sitting on a hillside to meditateAfter the moose had disappeared from sight, I continued up the dirt track made by vehicles driving directly on the earth. In a few places the deep ruts told the tale of mud and I remembered a truck that had once almost gotten stuck there one muddy spring when the driver came to haul away my 100-pound propane tanks. I went south, following the call of the “come to me” bird.

When I reached the south end of my property I crossed the fence line and followed an old logging trail to a spot I had never seen before. There I found four downed fir. Two had been cut and abandoned, and two had fallen on their own. Although this was over five years ago, and I have never been to this exact spot since, I can vividly recall the orientation of the trees, and the sadness I felt about the trees that had been cut and abandoned. I counted the rings on one of the cut trees and discovered that it was 275 years old. I offered Reiki for the trees and the land, apologizing for the stupidity of the people who had cut down these magnificent trees. I prayed for the awakening and healing of the planet and my people.

I kept walking, seeking higher ground that was touched by the sun already. I wanted to find a spot in the sun to rest and meditate. It is a long day, wandering from dawn to dusk with no food! So part of the way I fill the day is to linger over my daily practices of meditation and yoga. I had a pack with rain clothes, spare socks, water for the day, and my journal and pen. As the day warmed up it would hold my gloves and hat, and gradually other layers of clothing too. The rain clothes have never been useful in the rain, but on this day they served me well as a yoga mat and meditation cushion. I spread them under a tree that was touched by the sun, but as soon as I sat down three spiders parachuted down beside me. Feeling somewhat like Ms. Muffet, I moved to the hill beside the tree and sat down to meditate. That accomplished, I moved onto some flat ground to take a nap! It is interesting how my eyes view nature in such a utilitatarian way. Spots for naps, for yoga, for sitting, for lying down! But it is a wonderful thing to lay down in green grass in sunlight to take a nap. To be continued…

What is my purpose?

Moose in the meadow at Monkey ValleyAs you might have guessed from my last entry, this time when I set out on the medicine walk I was determined not to get my feet wet. At least not until after the sun came up! I set out at about 4:25 am, with a cool morning temperature of 1° C. I paused at the threshold I’d chosen, a natural doorway formed by two trees. I offered sage to the spirits of the four directions, and asked them to be with me on the walk. This was perhaps the first time I spoke to the spirits this way, and I was slow and awkward. I informed them of my purpose for the medicine walk. I wanted to find out what the purpose would be on my upcoming vision fast. Though I had many ideas, I had no clarity as to the most important wish to focus on. As my teacher Jed advised, I would hold my question close to me all through the day.

Formalities accomplished, I set out along the dirt road that led through the gates of Monkey Valley. I wondered what magic the day might hold for me. What is it like to step through the threshold into the world of spirit? I felt open, curious, light, and innocent. I followed the road north, taking the right-hand fork that swung around to the east to ford the creek. Sometimes I ford the creek by climbing along an old log fence, but this time I wanted to follow nature’s path, so I went along the creek until I found a log that was wide enough to cross on. When I reached the road on the far side of the creek, I followed the overgrown track that went south down the valley, gradually climbing from the level of the creek to about twenty feet above it.

Suddenly I heard a loud sound. Moose! I looked down to the valley floor, and saw a beautiful ungainly creature running through the grasses below. Was it male or female? It had no antlers, as far as I could tell, and didn’t seem to be pregnant, nor to have a little one nearby. I think the moose had heard my own ungainly passage, for it took shelter behind some bushes. I waited a little while for the moose to emerge again, thinking “Moose is more patient than me.” But I was wrong, for the moose resumed its journey. I watched the glimpses of rich brown limbs and hump as the moose crossed the valley floor and disappeared into the trees on the other side. I am patient! Perhaps this discovery was the first gift of my day’s journey. To be continued…

Walking into a vision

Monkey Valley morningIt might not always be obvious, but the purpose of this blog is to share my experiences in the wild, my explorations of what it means to be wild, and my love of the wild. It is also to inform you, dear reader, so that you can explore these things yourself, and perhaps one day choose to do a vision fast of your own. My hope is that through sharing my experiences, you will be inspired to awaken to the depths of your own nature, as well as your own deep connection with the natural world. If you know this connection, and feel it deeply, you too will want to do what you can to protect this beautiful earth that we live on.

Sometimes I share other aspects of my life, but in looking back over the entries I’ve made over the past 28 months, I think there is a cohesiveness to how the different subjects tie together. My inner explorations and the adventures I’ve had in the natural world are two strands of the marvellous thread of growing as a person and soul on this earth, and my attempts to bring the inner maturation into concrete form in the outer world form another strand. This is, after all, the purpose of the vision fast—to have our visions, yes, and then to bring them to life for our people.

My intention now and for the next while is to start sharing specific stories from the vision fasts that I’ve had the privilege of experiencing. Today, I’d like to tell you about one of the first medicine walks I ever went on, in preparation for my first vision fast, which I was going to do with my ecopsychology classmates at Naropa University. This was my second attempt at the medicine walk in preparation for the vision fast. On the first one, which I attempted in mid-May, 2005, I accidentally stepped in springwater and soaked my feet within 10 mintues of setting out. The temperature was still below freezing at that early hour of the morning, and I was afraid I might get hypothermia with my feet, socks, and boots so wet. So my first lesson was: always bring an extra pair of wool socks! And I went back to the cabin at Monkey Valley, determined to try again another day.

The next time I set out on my pre-vision fast medicine walk, it was May 27, 2005. I wanted to prepare myself for the vision fast by trying out my gear, so I’d set up my tarp in a grove of lodgepole pine near my cabin the previous day, and slept outside overnight. I woke at about 4:00 am, with the birds announcing the imminence of the day in loud song. I heard grouse drumming and great horned owl hooting. Many birds were calling me forth to walk the sacred walk! That spring I kept hearing the “come to me” call of an unidentified bird, and she was calling me this morning too. The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was the astonishing sight of the moon in the sky peering at me through the opening at the foot of my tarp. To be continued…