Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Natural Phenomenon

For First Nation Medicine People the connection with Mother Earth is incredibly important. Understanding trees, plants, rivers and the creatures who live in this habitat has been a crucial facet of Aboriginal spirituality. When you read books or stories connected to indigenous shamanism there’s always references to the medicine or power of nature. I’ve come to notice that lots of these stories are what often motivate individuals to seek out Medicine People or Shamans. People are hungry for purity, hope, beauty, abundance, magic, adventure and the unknown. Yet, lots of these people forget that Shamanism is outside Western expectation, indoctrination and perspective. Shamanism demands from the seeker a commitment to an experience; to challenge taboos; to reach beyond scruples; and to surrender completely to the Universe. It’s difficult to let go of control and yet, it takes doing it once to get access to these stories and to suddenly be characters in them.

We have a mourning dove that perches on the roof or on the electrical lines that run through our back yard. Three years ago this same bird had a mate and they both perched on the lines together. I’m not sure what happened but at the end of the season one of the mates disappeared. I had the strong feeling it died. The female who remained became incredibly depressed so much so that it obsessively and plaintively shouted her sadness to all who would listen. At first, I simply pointed out to everyone that the bird had lost her mate. For the rest of the season we were quite sympathetic towards the dove’s loss.

Last year, the dove returned and it was still alone. After watching her all summer I noticed that it wasn’t well. It was like the lost of her mate the year before had somewhat made the bird unstable. It perched all day long and cried for hours this horrible melancholic call. It was almost as if she said: “Come back to me, please.” For a while I let it go even though I cringed every time I saw the bird sobbing over us day in and day out. Finally, at the end of the summer I just lost it and screamed out to the dove: “Enough is enough…”

When it returned this year it continued to plaintively cry out her desperation to the World as most mourning doves do except it seemed not as sad or as lost. It made its nest in a tall white pine across the street and although it perched at its usual spot it didn’t continuously weep. It almost seemed playful. Now, it lamented only when I stepped out on the porch. Everyone started noticing and even mentioning that the bird was purposely trying to get my attention. And so I started to interact with it.

“Go cry somewhere else,” I cried out one afternoon and noticed that the bird listened.

“Stop the self-pity,” I yelled on a few occasions, silencing the bird for a few days.

Eventually, the bird became more animated and I noticed that it regained some interest in life.

“If only it was this simple with humans?!” I told G one afternoon after shooing the dove away again.

I notice that humans need reassurance, proof, confirmation, sympathy and lots of attention. When humans are caught up in something they actually believe they are the only ones on the planet living through their kind of suffering. I’ve seen too many people compete in who’s worst off

SO who did her thesis on the Medicine Wheel and community living often wrote about how she observed me inter-acting with bees, birds, trees, wind etc…. I often had the feeling that she was impressed with the fact that I could keep a conversation with people and have a discussion with nature at the same time. It was only after reading SO’s observations that I started wondering: “Is this something I’ve always done or is this something that I gradually developed?”

With a bit of nostalgic reflection (thanks to the dove’s influence J) I realized that I grew into who I am today even though I was born with the potential. I was always in tune to my environment but I never appreciated it. Gratitude isn’t so much about saying thank you as it is about feeling involved or part of a whole. We watch squirrels climb trees, geese fly south, skunks roam across our streets and raccoons dig through our garbage but rare are those moments when we actually feel related to these animals.

It’s not the first time that I make such a statement and every time that I’ve said these words people have approached me and asked: “How do we become kin to these creatures?” I’ve even met a man who angrily said “the next think you’ll know you’ll ask us to get on all fours and howl like wolves…” A woman even stayed with me for a few years in hope to eventually be able to talk to animals. It seemed to be her driven ambition.

The fact of the matter is it shouldn’t be difficult to connect to our environment and yet it is. We’ve become so caught up in man-made realities that we no longer grasp the reality of Creator. On the other hand, man-made realities should be an extension of Creator realities. Where did we actually derail along the way? And how do we get back on track? I always say: “Practice getting back to the basics.”

Lets put it this way, the only reason why the mourning dove responds to me is because I let my true emotions, true thoughts, and true self move through my tone of voice. When teaching the Wheel we encourage people to get in touch with their moons which speaks of their true emotions. Emotions aren’t strictly about tears, laughter, or anger but about impressions, reactions, and connections to the world around us. How do we respond to what surrounds us?

Again when teaching the Wheel we show people the difference between the physical body, the emotional body, the mental body and the spiritual body. We show people the process of creating thoughts and empower them to become participants in the thought process rather than be overwhelmed by it. And finally, we help individuals use the Wheel in self-discovery. In the end, it’s by bringing all three steps together that they slowly and steadily begin to walk in the realm of creation.

Ironically, the turtle dove allowed me to understand the value of mourning, missing loved ones, and the importance of loss. The presence of this bird brings me in a Wheel of sadness so deep that it aches. It speaks of death and it speaks of inter-connections. When something or someone precious to us dies a part of us dies along with it.

Can we loose so much that we begin to no longer exist?

For some reason after some time this fatalist perspective starts pissing me off. It’s the reason why I often scream to the dove: “Oh shut up… Get a life.”

I believe that where the dove teaches us about self-indulging the red-wing-black-bird brings us the lesson of hard work. We complete each other once we start acknowledging each other. The raccoon can certainly show us how to be ingenious and to have initiative. I’ve never come across an animal like the raccoon who doesn’t take “no for an answer” and always finds a way in. You start noticing the medicine in animals, plants and people by observing them and by letting go of Western expectation. The idea is to go back to your basic nature and to truly find your place in creation.

In my world it’s the only true goal any of us have…

P.S. The picture is not of a mourning dove. Still, it was a picture that I took this spring and connects to yet another story about natural phenomenon.


louise said...

j'ai toujours hate a la prochaine entrée.
Chaque matin en arrivant au bureau c'est la première chose que je regarde.

ce matin cette phrase m'a fait sourire:
I’ve never come across an animal like the raccoon who doesn’t take “no for an answer”

Un jour tu m'a dis que j'obtenais toujours ce que je voulais.
il y a peut etre un petit raton laveur qui viens visiter mon espace de temps en temps LOL

WampumBlueRaven said...

Moi aussi comme Louise je regard le site régulièrement pour voir le prochain blog.
“the fatalist attitude” semble être un mode de vie de nos jours
Je suis aucune d’étrangère à ce cela, je les vécu et je le vois au quotidien, dans mon travaille pour Phoenix, dans la ville ou je demeure ( dans un café, en passant dans la rue, dans une boutique), dans ma famille aussi.

Hardrock said...

I alway love reading your blog. I have been conecting to nature alot lately. It is where I find to be most at peace. I feel I need that conection with Mother Earth as you wrote. I was wondering if doves mate for life as I was told Geese do? Interesting it would go that long without finding a new mate.

Thanks Chris (Hardrock)

Wapeyit Malsom said...

Il faudrait presque j'écrive un blog en Français..... J'aimerais bien pouvoir avoir un blog en Français et en Anglais. Je sais qu'il y a des francophones qui aimeraient bien me lire. Il faudrait que j'aille un éditeur ou quelqu'un pour me corriger. Mon français écrit a besoin de pratique. N'empêches j'y pense.

Merci pour vos commentaires. Je suis contente que le blog Anglais vous empêches pas de lire....


Wapeyit Malsom said...

Thanks Chris for always taking the time to comment. The feedback is always encouraging and I love to hear your stories and your insights.


Bootie said...

Doves do mate for life, but will find a new mate in the event of death.

This story touched me, especially since Dove is my Face Totem

4cougar said...

I recently visited Parc Omega which is a wildlife park in Quebec, where you can get out of your car and walk with the deer or stay in your car and watch wolves and bears and wild boar. I was irritated at times with how others in the parc were 'supposedly' connecting with the animals in the parc...when a couple got out of their car to approach the wolves to feed them carrots...or when people seemed to expect the deer to come up to want to be pet. I watched how the deer interact with one another, keeping their distance and it made sense to me that they wouldn't want to be any closer to me, though I do have deer as a totem, as they would want to be to one another. I have been thinking about how we interact with the animals in our lives based in our own expectations and desires rather than recognizing the nature and spirit of the animals around us. I appreciated this posting. Hau

Wapeyit Malsom said...

Thank you Cougar for your comment. I loved reading it. I think we should watch and learn when it comes to animals -- at least most of the time. We shouldn't feed wild animals because we're basically telling them they can depend on us now. And we all know they unfortunately can't.