Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Talking to creatures in nature

Here are some tips for talking to creatures in nature.  I am illustrating this post with images from the Journey Oracle deck, not as an oracle reading but because these oracle card pictures capture the feelings I want my words to convey.

The first thing to know is that creatures in nature don't speak English. Or any other human system of sounds that symbolize concepts abstracted from the experience itself.  The difference between "Ouch!" and "That hurt."  All creatures feel and express Ouch. Only humans abstract that momentarily felt experience to a detached subject (that) and a general concept (hurt).

Therefore I talk with creatures in nature  by paying attention to the fit between my momentary felt experience and the beings, sounds or movements that are existing with that experience in its specific time and particular place.  Here is an example of what I mean.

Two days ago I was ready to build a new drum.  The hoop and cedar ring were prepared but the thawed hide was concerning me.  Portions of it were thicker than I remember; thicker than my notes indicated. I am reluctant to make a drum from a too thick hide as the resulting voice can sound muffled and be without the layered harmonics that many purchasers of my drums so value.  Yet a skin from an older deer has enough thickness so the drum does not loose its voice in damp outdoor conditions. So what is too thick?

At first I was in my head, talking to myself about how I could maybe trim the drum head, but decided this would unbalance the resulting stretch of the skin on the frame.  Then I was debating just throwing the skin away in case it made a failed drum.  Suddenly I realized I was not present in my body, nor quiet in my mind.  Certainly I was not in the specific time and particular place the drumskin and I were inhabiting.

I brought my eyes to soft focus, feeling the air still misted from a recent rain. I noticed, without focusing on anything specific, the greens and edges of autumn gold filling my view.  I brought my attention to inner awareness, closed my eyes, and felt the rhythm of my heart.  I began breathing consciously to slow my heart rate. I opened my eyes, gazed at the drum skin, and said from my inner awareness more than my brain, "Are you a good drum?"

Immediately I heard a Pileated Woodpecker drumming on a nearby tree. Tat-tat-tat-tat. Tat-tat-tat.
In some indigenous traditions the woodpecker is a sacred drummer, and is believed be connected to the heart beat rhythm of the Earth.  The woodpecker did not drum before I asked my question, nor did it continue after the two bursts of sound I heard. I felt the answer, "Yes.  This is a good drum."

Here are the tips contained in this story for talking to creatures in nature:
1. Be present in your body.
2. Be quiet in your mind.
3. Connect with your inner awareness.
4. Ask your question from this present, quiet, inner awareness.
5. Receive the answer from any being, sound, or movement that catches your attention.
6. Feel the truth of the answer.
7. Trust the guidance without giving in to skeptical doubt.
8. Keep practicing.  Just because something is simple doesn't mean it's easy.