During and after Terry’s illness, if I had enough energy to take a shamanic journey, I inevitably went into the lower world to spend time with a herd of Buffalo. They reached out to me shortly before her illness began.
Does that sound strange?
“A herd of Buffalo reached out to me.”
Yes, thats just what happened.
I’ve been wanting to share how shamanism helped me through this time, but its difficult to explain to the uninitiated what journeying can give you. There were decades of practice that led up to Terry’s last steps to getting her wings, volumes of experiences. Still, there are some simple things everyone can understand, like being held.
The weight of me
is inside you now,
I don’t have to carry it
Myself into you,
the Mother of everything.
I learned a lot in their company, received many healings, but that was not what nourished me most when spending time in that herd. I was invited to climb on top of a giant, warm dusty back, dig my hands into impossibly thick fur and lay there, sometimes sleeping, always carried. I let my body fall into its heft, let gravity pull me deeper as it wandered across endless lands.
For a time, gravity felt like my friend.
I breathed in dust and must, the oils from its fur rubbing against my face. I felt cared for in the way a family of mammals cares for its young, lulled by a great Ocean of animal strength as the herd rolled through canyons and wandered out onto plains.
I was a child again, small and vulnerable, a leaf on a Mothering Ocean. The many burdens of adulthood slipped quietly off. I left the loneliness that comes with caregiving behind. I left the fear of parenting behind. Slowly, over time, I could breathe deeply again. Only then would I return to this reality.
Journeying is one way our own spirits become more tangible to us. When I am in the lower world with them I can see the moisture on their snouts, smell the dust rising when they shake their great heads. I can also feel the frailty of my own spirit more, sense it as they sense me. I have found that our souls are at once powerful and transcendent and very vulnerable. The helping spirits hold the breadth of that with ease, understanding and love.
All the way back in 2013 I wrote about our newly arrived daughter-to-be and her willingness to let go and really be held by us. From “Ancestoring:”
“She is heavier each day, not from the food making her so beautifully stout, but her ability to trust. As we cherish, she arrives more. Letting go into the temporary peace the State awarded her, the air around her moves differently. No more hiding, she fills a room with her presence. Our foster guest arrived on our doorstep a few days new to this world, we’ve finally reached the after-six-weeks-now-I’ll-let-you-sleep-a-little milestone. She knows that here she is safe, she has landed.”
Today she climbs up into my lap as if it belongs to her alone. When I hold her she gives herself over to the experience of being carried completely. She’ll flip her head back, almost pulling me over, lolling back and forth. When she’s tired she asks me to carry her, nuzzling into my shoulder and breathing in my smell. Its such a gift to feel her easy weight, I never take for granted that she lets me nourish her in this way.
From a year ago, written for Terry.
I would like to carry her
down this hallway,
my sometimes tender
often edgy bird,
to lay her on the waiting bed.
I don’t know if its a bed
for living or dying,
but she shouldn’t have to walk there,
feeling the cold floor,
Let her rest against me,
hear my heart beating,
let me kiss her,
and gently pull the covers up over her shoulders
as she looks for sleep,
in this battle
put upon her
I wish I could have conjured that herd for her a hundred times over. Terry always chose her own path. My attempts to feed her what was feeding me almost always failed. When she was ready to pass she said she wanted to spend time with the Trees after dying. I guess those were her people. She was always so strong.
“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.” – D.H. Lawrence.
Every week or so I have a dream that Terry is still alive, still sick, but not as sick. I’m happy because I get to care for her again. Something in my spirit misses taking care of her, it had become so much a part of us. This morning I held onto that glow. Usually the weight of the coming day crowds in on me, pushes out the joyful feeling of caring for her. I want to savour that, not because I imagine its real, or because I even want to return there with her, but I miss that part of my spirit that knows how to carry her. It wanders these days.
I still return to the herd, they are still there for me. I get to be the child with them, to feel fathered. My dreams have been holding me too. The other night I was visited by one of my shamanic teachers, still living. I dreamed I ran into him at a cafe or bar somewhere, we sat and talked like old friends. He reached over and hugged me, I could feel his arms, his stubby beard. I felt a good cry open up in me like a trickling stream starting in my belly and finding its way up my throat and out into the world. I shook with relief and grief. Such a gift to cry in any reality. Such a gift to be held, feel carried if only for a few moments.
There is so much quiet caring that holds my world together. I feel so held.
Blessings to you and yours during this time of great change.