In Native American cultures, The Great Spirit is a deity intertwined with the fabric of the Universe itself on the large scale and yet personally engaged with the web of living things and the world on an earthly scale. I am creating a spiritual practice by borrowing a little from the Buddhists and the practice of mindfulness, but mostly from the strong connection I feel for the worship of Earth as taught us by our first nations. For those who hunger for the connection of a spiritual practice from someone who is learning to braid her own.
Inhaling every opportunity
"I had a dream about you last night," says my writer friend in a voice loud enough so only I can hear. The rest of our writer-community-on-retreat is busy with dinner conversation about the awful weather.
"Really? What did you dream?" I am almost sure when I ask that the experience will be extraordinary. He's a remarkable guy--poet, doting grandfather--a seeker who has deeply explored himself. He speaks a new language, one I asked for a few weeks before while lunching with a another friend in my home town. I said out loud to her that I was experiencing a hunger to learn about my spirit guides. I ask about hers. She too is a seeker. It is predictable to have my writer friend deliver what I asked for a few days earlier in the epic setting of the Zumwalt Prairie.
"When I did my shamanic journey last night about 10 o'clock I declared my intention to connect with my power animals, my spirit helpers during my stay on the prairie. I put on my headset and listened to my meditation music. I already knew Raptor was roosting on a fence post near my tent, White Horse was in the pasture and Skookum was in the grove of ponderosa pines down Camp Creek Trail." I am rapt. All I can do is nod and hope he'll continue.
"My intent was realized as soon as the drumming started. I merged with Raptor and we shape-shifted in a way so I was able to fly over the Zumwalt, down Camp Creek Canyon (over Skookum hiding in the trees) and up to the pasture to greet White Horse. And then the journey changed." His blue eyes wondered if I wanted to hear more. I did.
"Next scene you were lying on a bed or cot in front of me. I felt like I was there to bring you learning about shamanism or how to journey on your own, or something related. I'm not sure if it means anything, but your head was to my left and feet to the right. But suddenly the vision changed and a native dancer appeared in a frame just above you. He seemed to be male but I could not see his face or head." An electric current stabbed my heart as tears swelled.
"Did you see him from waist down only, dancing, and wearing white feathers?" I recalled.
"And he was in a frame?"
"Yes, and the dance was vigorous and seemed festive. These images went away for a time and I was flying again, over the prairie. And then you and the native appeared a second time. To me this means there is an important message, wrapped in some kind of metaphor."
"Oh my God," I gasped. "I can't believe what you're saying. We had the same vision! For me it was while I was in a sweat lodge in New Mexico last fall." He did not look surprised, but waited to hear more.
"It was during my second visit to the intentional community called Arawaka--and the Peruvian-born, Lakota-trained shaman--in a powerful sweat lodge ceremony, complete with drums, the chalupa pipe, 7 prayers, sage and tobacco lying on the alter across from the entrance to the lodge. In the third round of unbearably hot ritual while sweating in the symbolic womb, I too saw a frame. It was filled with a native dancer waist down, with a white feather "apron." A flash, an instant. He was dancing."
"Wow," says my writer friend.
"The framed image made me cry. My tears were tears of grief for having been lost to these people, this dancer. I allowed myself to just cry to release the ache in my heart during the rest of the hot, claustrophobic rounds in the sweaty lodge. I was left beyond knowing, and emerged in feeling the loss. I've only told this story to one other person."
"I had a feeling I was supposed to pass something to you when we met up," my writer friend says.
"I'm always the one praying for a sign. But this is going to take me some time to assimilate. I am overjoyed and overwhelmed," I stumble. It feels like time to collect and be by myself.
Of course once I walk away I have a million questions. How did he learn? How long has he been practicing? Where did he learn (and parenthetically can I learn too)? How is he able to willfully connect with spirit guides? Does he tell others about his experience (surely I can't the first person he told). Is this mystery over the edge (English idiom meaning to go beyond what is reasonable). And yet I am clear that much of what we experience in this world has little to do with science. I falter a moment, and then allow myself to fill with anticipation.
At breakfast the next morning my writer friend admits he's had another dream with me in it, this time he and I are walking on a path together until we come to a bridge. He stops and I walk on alone to a house just on the other side. He is pretty sure this vision means I am ready and primed for the next step in the journey.
I have a call into his shaman. Stay tuned.