Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What is the meaning of the rising tide

Many folks search my journey oracle website looking for the meaning of the rising tide because some years ago I posted a blog containing this teaching story from my oracle cards.


When the tide begins to recede the surface of the water flattens slightly, as if the earth were holding these messages of coming loss close to her heart. Forms become distinct first as watery hummocks and then as shells and stones spangled with liquid shimmer. Periwinkles and crabs trail lines of wanderlust in the slowly drying sand. In high summer one feels like the beach becomes abandoned to torture by a sun that is no longer a guardian in this place. In the raking light of a moon bright night in deepest winter the whole surface of the beach is moving. The tiniest of creatures have their power sparkling like the largest, glittering with a longing of memory for the water that had been there before, but now is gone.

When the tide begins to turn there is a swelling along the leading edge, as if the water has grown plump with waiting. In the sullen heat of a golden-edged afternoon, the returning water hisses slightly as it bubbles around pebbles and fills up the depressions that are the front doors to the hideouts of ghost shrimp and clams. What was a mottled grey strip of sand suddenly becomes a sculpin, flashing out to meet the flowing in tide. Starfish clinging in the shadowed underside of beach rocks seem to soften their grip slightly when the water meets their pitted purple skins, as if the rising tide were a signal to let go a little in a life whose main skill is holding on.

Only when the tide is several inches deep will the barnacles venture out with their feathered arms beckoning, only when the certainty of deep water arrives will the oysters open their frilly edged homes to greet what is coming to be the break in their fast.

No creature on the beach expects delays; waiting for the tide to turn is not empty hoping, but inner certainty.

The rising tide has great meaning in my life here on Cortes Island because as well as make drums and create shamanic paintings of nature, I am an oyster farmer . When the rising tide appears as an image in my dream interpretation or emotional healing, I think it is about trust and certainty. About knowing that I cannot hold back what is going deeper. When I let go into the flow of the tides in my life, I break free from wanting to cling to what appears safe, and instead remember that only by moving with the current will I be fed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What makes a shaman drum?

This new drum is called giving voice to spirit, and while its painted face is startlingly beautiful and it has a rich tone, these are not criteria for a shaman drum. It has been my experience that someone, or something, must be born twice to enter into shaman knowing. The voices drum has a black tail deer antler handle, and mounting this drum handle while keeping the thongs very tight required three separate attempts. Each redo meant that all of the previous lacings had to be cut off and therefore could not be used again, so each time the drum was reborn to its purpose. This is because to me a drum without a way to hold it suspended away from the body so its voice rings clear is not really a drum.

In my experience the second criteria for creating a shaman drum is effort. By effort I do not mean just hard work, although this was certainly present. I instead mean the kind of effort that requires a risk. This is the risk of not being able to guarantee a successful outcome, or maybe of not having an outcome at all, and still being willing to stay in the work with attention and care.

For me the third criterion for making a shaman drum is the most elusive and necessary. This is the receiving of help from the more-than-human-world, whose creatures and forces are ultimately who will empower, direct and receive the voice of the shaman drum.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Understanding dream animals

I was looking for something else when I found a book called Dream Animals by James Hillman. This was a gift of long ago that I found so beautiful I saved it in a special place, and then forgot it was there. I think our relationship with animals is like this. I see an owl beside the pond in the early evening; a wolf howls on the ridge beyond the road and my senses become hyper-alert. For a moment I am really awake. And then my instincts go back to sleep and I forget that I am able to be this alive all the time.

Dream animals also bring us into contact with our deep nature. The horse that was running away with me in last night’s dream, on closer notice, is a draft horse trailing the lines of traces and harness. So while a dream dictionary may interpret this image as my passion about something running away with me, if I am alert to the detail, the dream horse is really showing me I have broken free from something binding or limiting.

I sometimes use the Journey Oracle cards to interpret dreams. The images on the double-sided cards are like dream animals that flicker in and out of my awareness. Just like the moment of extreme attention caused by the wolf howl or the runaway dream horse, parts of my shamanic paintings on the oracle cards catch in the net of my heightened awareness, and make metaphoric connections between parts of a dream, and my ordinary reality understanding of its message.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Name symbolism or Naming it makes it so

My partner and I are in the process of buying a sailboat, and discovered that in 32 years on the planet, the boat of our choice never bore a name. While she must have had at least a casual name by the previous owners who took such good care of her, no name appeared on the stern or in the pages of her marine survey. Sound symbolism, or meaning derived from the sounds of the letters of the alphabet, suggests that there is significance in the very shape of the vibrations we make. So what is the situation of not having a name? Presumably this means that there is no vibration which would link to our unique form; in other words, without a name the world would not be able to find us or know us.

I drew a Journey Oracle card while asking “What do you have to show me about why this boat has no name?” I drew card #11 which represents the Sun in the Journey suit. I was immediately struck by the small figure that is both leaning against, and part of, the larger sad face with one eye looking out and the other looking up. If this is our new boat and me, then feeling the truth of her will bring her name.

Our boat’s name came quite easily--as oyster farmers who work on the sea, of course her name will be Pearl. This name reduces to the number 7 which has special symbolism for me. Seven is the number of the Universe. It is the three of the heavens (soul) combined with the four (body) of the earth; being the first number containing both the spiritual and the temporal. In looking over the list of meanings it doesn't take long to figure out why the seven has become significant in metaphysical, religious and other spiritual doctrines - as seven represents the virginity of the Great Mother - feminine archetype - She who creates.