Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Attracting hummingbirds to feeders

Beginning each April we have had a modest but steady number of hummingbirds attracted to the feeder in our garden here in the deep woods on the north end of Cortes Island. This spring they have been unexpectedly and then alarmingly missing. The story that has unfolded around my attracting hummingbirds has brought me a spiritual teaching from hummingbirds.

At first I just imagined they were late in their migration as our weather has seemed colder than usual, and so I thought little of their lack of appearance. When I heard neighbors reporting a few sightings in their gardens I became convinced that the feeder I was using--a small glass bottle and pipette--was not easy for them to eat from, and so I went hunting for another. I know it would be better if I didn't use an artificial feeder, but our forest setting is short on sunshine and flowers. Of course the only hummingbird feeder I found was of the same design, but I decided that maybe two feeding ports would do the trick. Although these feeders were very beautiful, they both unfortunately leaked, and I finally decided that although the little puddles made for happy ants, the red tips were not big enough for the birds to see. My prayers to hummingbirds seemed answered when I purchased the style of feeder that most of my friends have: lots of capacity, lots of red, lots of places to perch and eat--yet still no birds have come.

Someplace in this expensive quest I began to compare my wanting to be chosen by hummingbirds to my wanting to be chosen by spirit. This is an old story for me--being chosen by spirit--most visible in the process I used to create the Journey Oracle card deck. When I offer my prayers and ceremony for the spirit realms to eat, maybe I shouldn't but I guess I do expect something to show itself in return. What I discovered in this saga of attracting hummingbirds is that when nothing seems to come--I blame myself. I try harder and more frequently, thinking that if only my efforts, or words or attention were more worthy then I would be able to earn as blessing the arrival of the unseen. But I can't earn the hummingbird's arrival, as if several were just off in the trees nearby, waiting to see if my offerings are acceptable or lacking. The hummingbirds have their own story and will be here, or not, as time and spring unfolds. So if I know I can't earn the presence of hummingbirds, why do I think I have to earn the presence of spirit?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why keep a secret

I think it is very difficult for us humans to have a big experience or story come to us, especially if it is about us in some way, and not want to tell everyone of our good luck or misfortune. Maybe keeping quiet is even more difficult if we understand to keep the story a secret. So why keep a secret? I have recently had a shamanic experience with keeping a secret, and I think in the process of trying to understand the power of not telling what we know, I have found my own answer to why keep a secret.

Some weeks ago I inadvertently discovered a connection to family ancestors that felt like winning the family tree lottery. I told my partner and siblings, but no one else because the story just seemed too big, and I didn't know how to speak about it. That night I had a dream in which I'm walking a down-hill road. I step aside to allow a fuel truck go by. Instead, the truck pulls over on the right and falls over. I see a small fire has been started nearby. I'm aware the truck will explode. The driver is a young man who can't seem to speak although he is gesturing and making sounds. I interpreted the fuel truck to be the ancestor story, and how it would explode into my life from the small fire of awareness started nearby. I felt the driver was also me, not able to speak. I decided to ask my shamanic guidance how to be with this knowledge, and was quite surprised to receive this during a stone divination that I first learned to do from a friend who experienced it at the Foundation for Shamanic Studies.
Listen to your heart. No one is safe with this story.
Much trouble comes here, hidden in greatness.
Let go the knowing, resist the going.
Better to be Queen with us here.

As if this might not be clear enough, that night a dream came in which I am a maid of honor at a wedding. I am at the church wanting to choose a place to sit but all the spaces along a raised dais are already reserved with cushions. I see an empty space one level down and move to put my cushion there but don't think this will be enough to hold my place. I lament that the bride is my best friend and I won't be able to see the ceremony. Someone then ushers me up the stairs to the stage and gestures to two chairs saying "You are sitting here next to the bride."
From that height I look to my left and see a large black bear--glossy coat, well fed, healthy--I understand he is also attending the wedding. The bear looks at me with large liquid eyes that are incredibly sad. Out a small window I see two men with guns moving toward the bear. I know they are hunters and I feel a deep sadness knowing the bear cannot be here and cannot escape because there is no way for it to get out.
The bear in the dream looked very much like this painted oracle card image from the Journey Oracle deck. I awoke feeling quite shaken that telling the details of my discovery might hurt or even kill the spirit world creatures that have been with me for so many years. I believe I am to keep this story a secret so they remain safe, but why? And then I was reading an excerpt from Tom Brown's book, "The Vision" in a copy of Shaman's Drum Magazine and received a powerful insight. Stalking Wolf, the Grandfather is talking about what a true ceremony should be as he helps the boys understand their first experience in the sweatlodge. "In the lodge, you will find purity from all outside distractions. Without the distractions of man, you will touch the Great Mystery." I sense it is not so much the story of illustrious human ancestors but rather the distraction this creates, that keeps us from feeling the power and energy of all the other-than-human life around us. In turning toward our own importance we turn away from spirit, and then we forget how to turn back.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Following a spiritual path

Several months ago when I was having a winter rest on the big island of Hawaii, I literally found myself following a spiritual path one evening. But to tell this story I must back up to the island of Kauai and a Divine Planet store where I discovered a string of lava beads. I considered the beads for several days--resisting their purchase because I understand it is unwise to take volcanic lava pieces of the Hawaiian Goddess Pele away from her home. And then an inspiration occurred to me. Perhaps I was being shown not to take these beads away, but rather to take them back. But to where, and how?When I'm on vacation I enjoy making prayer malas incorporating shells I find on the beaches. I leave gifts of my own handmade beads to thank the ocean and her creatures. When we first arrived on the big island of Hawaii, I restrung the lava beads with kahelelani shells, which I have been told were special to Hawaiian royalty. I began wearing the new necklace every day, waiting to be shown how to return it to Pele. Lots of lava flows were part of my daily walks and shoreline adventures, but nothing indicated a place special enough for this most ancient of Hawaiian royalty.

Just before our holiday ended, I found myself walking a path through a petroglyph site. I meandered along the winding trail and felt myself to be literally following a spiritual path into ancient wisdom. As the setting tropical sun created long spears of golden light and deepening shadow, I placed my gift to Pele briefly within a stone circle, and then dropped it into a crevice out of human sight.

This is my way of following a spiritual path. I notice what jumps into my awareness to notice; I look for insight that gives me a direction for action. I find some way of manifesting that action and then watch for a way that the resulting object (or words, gesture or song) can be given back to the Spirit world as food. This is the way the Journey Oracle cards were created. I had a dream of their creation which caught my full attention, I created the cards, stories and instructions from spirit direction, and now I give them back to the Holy as food, which is metabolized whenever someone calls on the Oracle for wisdom.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Making nettle wine

Some time ago I had a dream in which I was told: learn to make wine. I knew as soon as I woke up that this was a shamanic teaching, and not an instruction for everyday reality. I already enjoy wine from Good Libations, a U Brew here on Cortes Island run by a dear friend who must have wine yeast as a spirit helper--his knowledge and sensitivity is that spirit-directed. I was lamenting that most wine-making fruits and berries appear much later in the year, and then I discovered a recipe for making nettle wine. My island home has lots of nettles in open areas where the ground has been disturbed and this seemed the perfect fit since I love their pay attention energy.

Yet how is this a shamanic teaching? I drew a Journey Oracle card asking for guidance and this image and phrase appeared. For me, it is a difficult picture from a difficult time of year: the January full moon. On the same day that I received this message of Mother inside looking out I read this passage in "Voices of the First Day" a book by Robert Lawlor that I loved many years ago and am rediscovering again: [Willy Whitefeather, a man of the Cherokee tribe, after playing a melody on his flute for the stones of a red canyon, said]..."the stones have silicone crystals inside them, through which they listen. They are like lonely old people, standing and waiting to be sung to. Our people have always sung songs of admiration to the qualities of strength, beauty and endurance that stones bring into the world....They are tired and lonely now because the white world has become so blind and selfish. Thy live in a hollow, unsung world."

I put these two messages together, and understood to bring to the plants what I learned from my years studying with Martin Prechtel: the gift of a bead made by my hands to the nettle patch, and the gift of eloquence made by my voice to all the plant tops before I cut them. So my first lesson about making nettle wine is to really see the nettles, and to really receive the enormity of what they are giving, that I might bring the seed of my dream into fruition in this reality.