Short green grass tickles my feet as I look up at the round-leaved bushes surrounding Granddad’s wood-shop window. Between the bushes a huge stripy brown spider strung her first tightrope wire foundation for her new bug catcher. She invites me to watch. The little red chair with the wicker bottom and painted flowers lies on the patio floor. Dragging it across the lawn with little toddler legs, I plop my bottom down to watch Spider create a masterpiece.
Connected in spirit we go around and around placing each thread in just the correct manner so that the right sized buzzing mini lunchboxes hold fast. It’s a beautiful orb when finished as the summer day begins to warm. She’s ready for anything flying and juicy to eat.
Oh No! Grandma doesn’t like spiders in front of the window and comes
with a big brown hoe to pull it down. I feel crushed. We worked so
hard to get it right – Spider and I. Why don’t big people understand?
Why don’t they talk to the bugs and animals? I gather up my “imaginary friends”, Bunny and Chickie, and we go lie on the grass under the pine tree with the long pointy needles you can braid together.
Bedtime comes once again, and I need Granddad to come up the stairs to pull the bumpy skinned olive green alligator out from under the bed.
No, Mom and Sister can’t do it right. Granddad knows how to toss it out
the window so that I can sleep. He bends over, and pulls it out for me
again and again each night, so that I won’t be afraid to go to sleep.
I didn’t understand at the time why Alligator made his home under my bed. Forty ears later, as I began practicing journeying, he spoke to me clear as a bell. Alligator protected me so that I could stay in my body on earth. He quietly came back each night when I slept and is with me still. Imaginary friends the big people call them. They think it’s funny that I talk with these invisible animals.
I feel belittled and wrong when I tell my experiences to adults. My tummy hurts with embarrassment, and I want to call back my words so they don’t know what I do.
I must hide my imaginary friends from them and keep secrets. I can’t let anyone know what I do – this being in two places at once – inside and outside. The invisible animals are my best friends, and they never make me feel sad.
I can’t stop doing this, but no one needs to know.
Sound asleep in dark of night I hear, “Get up! Come on! Let’s go!” Pulling myself out of that where-am-I stupor my eyes pop open.
Floating above my face shines the luminescent spirit of my tiny
newborn baby sleeping beside me on the bed. POW! That brought me
sharply into heart-thumping total awareness.
Dang!! I blew it. She wanted me to go out of body and play with her in the spirit world. She must think I’m not very smart. Mom can’t even get OOB when asked to go play.
Water, wind, tides, weather, animals, people, equipment – must be in touch with all of them living on this sailboat. Feelings reach out knowing where my toddler plays in her bunk, where the cat sleeps in the sun, the direction of flowing water beneath slap, slapping the hull, wildfowl calling on the bank. Reach out, feel it all and know. Know this Environment from the inside out. Feel Earth as a living organism, Mother of all, and connect.
At first I felt that living on this boat is what I do because my guy wants to live like this. The lifestyle is strenuous and comparatively primitive. Pre-cell phone days, my friends need to walk out on the dock and holler: Ahoy, Judy! My 3-year-old slips on a life preserver and rows the 10-foot dingy out to get them. She rows better than most grown men. It’s quite an adventure in some ways, living on a boat, in other ways, just plain hard work.
Fifteen years later, as I begin to formally study the shaman’s way, I learn that feeling and merging energetically with each part of the environment tunes our spirit and intensifies our awareness. Living in nature and being totally aware with it opened up my spirit to greater possibilities.
In my bedroom on the farm is an altar where I have begun to sit for a daily meditation practice. I sit and light a candle and some incense. The aroma helps me to relax and enter the altered state of consciousness where I touch that interface between the ageless divine and limited physical me. Life is a struggle in many ways now, and I search for solutions beseeching Divine Mother for help.
Every time I sit and close my eyes, I become aware of a Buffalo spirit walking in circles around me.
Interesting. They don’t teach Buffalo meditation at the Hindu-style
meditation class I attend. I find a greeting card with a beautiful
painting of a Buffalo and place it on my altar next to my guru’s photo.
Lying on the floor blindfolded with a drum CD playing in my headphones, I am given instructions to help me find my Power Animal. A cave forms in my inner vision inviting me to go deep inside. Down, down, down I step to the drumbeat floating down an underground tunnel through the damp dusky rooty mushroom smelling earth. At the end of the tunnel a talking, kind and understanding big brown Beaver sits before a wooden door. He opens the door and I step out onto a beach, my Lower World Beach.
I’m here to meet my Power Animal. Four times a sea lion comes to me and our relationship begins. Diving into the clear green bouncing waves at the edge of the sea, we swim and float and play under the water. Out on the beach she talks to me telling me that she has always been there and will always help me. This is the beginning of our formal working relationship. This is a Power Animal.
A few days
later I am again lying down to journey, this time to find a Spirit
Teacher. The meditation Buffalo comes to me and puts me on his back.
He has been trying to tell me for years that he is a Power Animal who
Like little Pegasus ponies flying through rainbows to music in Fantasia, he flies with me up a rainbow, dipping in and out of the fluid rainbow colors, carrying me through the cloud-like barrier to the Upper World. I take a Jack-and-the-Bean-Stalk look around at the World above the clouds. Buffalo brings me to an old man who smiles and tells me to call him Grandfather. He is my Spirit Teacher and will always help me.
Years have passed. Thousands of journeys across the veil expand my awareness of what it means to be human. Sometimes I wish that my training had begun at 4 instead of 40, but my Mom didn’t know about training through shamanic methods and techniques. Looking back I can see the little wispy hint of a theme winding through my life. That thread wound around the ancient ways leading me through worlds filled with spirits, divas and invisible helpers and anchored so deeply into those non-ordinary realities that I’ve yet to find the end. Once I was ready to follow that thread, the unknown realms of the spirits opened before me ever expanding creating more mysteries for me to explore.