Tag Archive for: abundance

Spirit Animals: RACCOON the BANDIT

He sneaks about in the darkness looking for the slightest opportunity. Any tidbit hidden in a crevasse becomes a jewel in his hands. He is at home in the city or the country. No matter where we find raccoon spirit animal we will find a dose of both good humor and good conscience. Who thought such a common animal could bring such luck?

These little bandits are ubiquitous across the whole of the North American continent. Found in swamps and marshes, on the banks of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, in the vastness of the desert and prairie, in the seclusion of forests, on the tops of mountains and the bottom of canyons, and in cities and suburbs, raccoons have adapted to any environment. Raccoons are happy to den anywhere from a hole in the ground to a cubby in an attic. They are the quintessential omnivore and will eat anything, plant, insect, trash, or animal, that they can get their little paws on.

Raccoon spirit animal brings the message that you have the occasion to be at home and find sustenance, even wealth, wherever you are. He does not cover a wide range, but he utilizes and explores every nook and cranny of his territory. Raccoon symbolism is all about being flexible with what’s available.

Raccoon is marked from birth with that characteristic black eye-mask. He has a reputation for being a trickster and nighttime bandit in disguise.

Disguise

Raccoon spirit animal teaches us about the nuances of disguise and what we do when we think we’ll go unrecognized. In movies, cartoons, and drawings, the archetype of the thief is pictured so often with a black scarf with two holes for eyes. In many legends, raccoon is busy stealing things under the cover of night or out from under the noses of blind people. Raccoon symbolism is closely linked with what we might be blind to or what others are blind to in us.

When we wear a mask or watch a character in a movie wear a mask there is the unwritten understanding that the wearer is attempting to escape the consequences of their actions. Even if the thief is robbing from the rich to give to the poor like Robin Hood (i.e. stealing for “good”) they still have to hide and evade because they are operating outside the law.

In the end, raccoons in legends are always caught and marked as thieves as evidenced by their face mask and ringed tail. In our world, we may escape without any outer consequences, but we will still have the inner doubt that plagues us. What if someone did find out?

It is worth evaluating how you use a disguise to get away with stealing. When you go to pay for a service and remember that you didn’t bring enough cash along, do you pose as innocent to convince the other person to take less money? Raccoons have the sweetest, charming little faces and they aren’t above playing the innocent to get away with something they want.

There is a splash of white all around the edges of the black eye mask of the raccoon. This can point to an inherent goodness shining out, a need to be recognized for the light we are in the world. Sometimes the masks we put on aren’t necessary and can be born of a shame that requests healing.

Raccoon the Bandit

Raccoon has lightening quick paws to grab aquatic creatures, pluck mice and insects from hiding places, and invade bird nests to take tasty eggs. He is known for raiding campsites and trashcans when everyone is sleeping.

We all steal from time to time, be it something as simple as a pen or as invisible as the attention of another. Stealing energy or time from another person, or even stealing from their reputation by mentioning their name, wears away at the fabric of who we are over time. Raccoon spirit animal teaches us how to notice the telltale signs in ourselves of when we are snatching up little bits that might not be ours. He helps us come further into integrity.

This isn’t about looking at the ugly side of your nature and disliking what you see, not at all. It’s about developing a mature conscience. An immature conscience depends on the opinions of others or even the laws of society. Both of these conventions can be mischievously fun to break. A mature conscience taps into the value of one’s motives and understands whether we mean to do harm or do kindness. It’s that simple. When we come from a place of valuing kindness, mischief falls away.

Some questions to ask yourself when contemplating raccoon symbolism:

  • What are the things you tell yourself to justify stealing? (They’ll never find out. There’s enough extra. They don’t need it anyway.)
  • What motivates you to steal? (Maybe it is feeling like you aren’t worth something, like you can’t come by it honestly, or like you just can’t wait.)
  • What is conscience to you? How do you decipher right from wrong?

Trickster

Mircea Eliade, a well-known scholar who studied shamanic practices around the globe, talks about the trickster as a character that plays all sorts of jokes. He makes fun of others and is made fun of. Oftentimes in myths, the trickster is actually a demigod in disguise come to bestow blessings on the object of his high jinks.

We think we know the path and set out on it the way we’ve decided is best. Then the trickster comes and bumps us off our road. This is the flat tire when you’re running late or the hard drive crash right as you type the last word of an important document. We learn to laugh with a sarcastic, “ha, ha” at the trickster’s joke, but often we are at the very least irritated by the interruption or at worse absolutely derailed by the catastrophe.

Once it’s all over we find we are better off or we are brought to a gift we never expected.

In the legends, raccoon cons wolf into freezing his tail into the ice and deceives three blind women into breaking their favorite pottery. He is among the ranks in the animal world of other tricksters such as coyote, raven, and fox.

Thus, raccoon spirit animal has the potential to bring you great teaching and wealth, but it will likely not happen in the way you anticipate. When working with raccoon it is a good idea to keep a loose sense of plans.

Dexterity

Raccoon’s sense of touch is his most heightened of senses and the majority of the focus is in his front paws. He has “hyper-sensitive’ hands that have long whiskers known as “vibrissae” that assist with identifying objects before actually touching them. Nearly two-thirds of his portion of the cerebral cortex responsible for sensory perception is dedicated to the processing of tactile impulses. He thinks a lot about what he feels.

Raccoon will wash his food whenever he has the chance. It is thought that he does this to soften the thin horny layer on his paws, which makes it easier for him to feel his food. Whatever the reason, he loves to play in the water with his hands.

Raccoon can adeptly open jars, untie knots and turn door handles. His five toed front hand closely resembles ours. His lack of an opposable thumb doesn’t stop him from attempting to enter our world. Raccoon symbolism is about how we choose to handle situations. Will we “grasp” quickly for what we want or will we take the time to “wash our hands” of our wrongdoing before enjoying the incredible opportunity around us?

Working with our conscience is all about how we handle situations. Raccoon spirit animal is most definitely here to help.

 

Want to learn more about spirit animals?
Visit the Spirit Animal Guide

 

Spirit Animals: BUFFALO ABUNDANCE

In the midst of the lowing of the herd, he takes a break from munching grass and saunters over to a bare patch of earth. The sun is rising and his breath is made visible by the steam that drifts from his nostrils like tendrils of smoke. His head sways ever so slightly as he walks, the bulk of his shoulders clearing the way as members of the herd part to allow passage. At the wallow he comes down to his front knees and the rest of his mass falls with a “thud” into the dirt. He rolls to one side pushing his entire body into the depression stirring up dust and frost at once. His grunts join into the contended conversation of the herd.

The buffalo spirit animal is a precious beast for so many reasons, some commonly known and others less so. What we most often call a “buffalo” is officially called the “American Bison”. There is only one other species of bison on earth, the European Bison. Both are considered ecologically extinct and the European Bison has come even closer than the American Bison to complete extinction. Bison are more closely related to cows than to actual buffalo, but in answering the question “what does bison mean?” this exploration will use the names interchangeably.

Abundance

Any study of North American history includes the grievous chapter on the decimation of the buffalo. In less than 70 years, the population of American Bison was brought from a reported 30-60 million to less than a mere 2,000 in 1889. This mass extermination was a gluttonous move by European settlers to win the west, a deliberate tactic to deprive the Native people of their livelihood. A number of Native Americans tribes relied entirely on the buffalo for food, clothing, tools, shelter, and more. They used every part of the buffalo in their daily life. Buffalo symbolism is directly tied to the idea of abundance because they literally offered an abundance of goods to the people that hunted them.

Freedom

Through various efforts, the buffalo has recovered to somewhere between 500,000 to 1 million individuals today, but the species is considered ecologically extinct because they no longer are able to range their native habitat like they evolved to do. They are kept in small parks and buffalo that wander out of the boundaries are shot. Did you know that wild bison are routinely rounded up and excess members are sent to slaughter? The plight of the buffalo today is strikingly similar to that of the wild mustang. The meaning of buffalo is closely linked to our ideals of freedom and how that freedom actually looks in practice.

Do you feel as if you have enough room to roam? Is someone or something curbing your range? Buffalo spirit animals roam the space they are given, but can be tough on fences. If you find yourself testing the boundaries of a relationship or circumstance, it may be time to focus on an area of your life where you have space to take more liberties.

A Keystone Species

Bison are known as a “keystone” species in that they have an impact on their environment that is disproportionately larger relative to their numbers. They affect the distribution of grasses, the way fire moves throughout the prairie, the cycle of nutrients, and the composition of grass and wildflower species. Their hooves aerate the soil which helps the plants better uptake air and oxygen for faster growth. Buffalo wallows are bare patches of dirt where they frequently roll. These round holes create vernal pools during spring rains which serve as mini oasis for wetland species of plants. The wallows remain in undeveloped areas for up to 125 years after buffalo have been removed from the land.

Ferruginous hawks used to create their nests entirely out of bison bone, fur, and dung. Prairie dogs preferred to colonize in areas grazed by buffalo because they could spot predators better in the shorter grasses. A whole host of animals from black-footed ferrets to burrowing owls to foxes rely on prairie dogs as a food source.

Bison not only provided a valuable source of sustenance for grizzly bears and wolves, but also for scavengers such as coyotes, eagles, hawks, and vultures. When their carcasses were left to rot, they would add enough nitrogen to the soil to make it 2-3 times more rich than the surrounding grassland. Even their urine mobilized nitrogen quicker than natural processes and added fertilizer quickly into the ecosystem.

Regardless of the fact that the buffalo is a key player in grassland ecosystems, they are also a part of a herd. Like any herd animal they find safety in numbers and their habits and days are affected by the movement of the herd. Buffalo spirit animal is a reminder that you are at once a critical component of the world AND just a member of the herd. It is important not to get too overblown in your own importance, and to plainly be yourself. Contributing to and participating in the whole is key.

By simply doing what they do, buffalo create variety and abundance wherever they go. Are you able to offer the same gift to the world? If we all could aspire to be so generous, the world would be a better place. Consider if your actions are contributing to the whole are taking from it. How can you tip the scales so that you are a source of grace for others while still standing in your strength?

Strength and Conflict

Buffalo are incredibly powerful animals that weight over 2,000 pounds. They can run up to 35 miles per hour and cross rivers over a half a mile wide. They easily lead barbed wire fences. In the winter they survive by pushing the snow from the grass using their massive heads. Built to survive warm summers and cold winters, they are at home in the stark, open landscape of the grasslands. They will fend off predators using their bulk and horns.

Buffalo spirit animals can lend us the strength to stand our ground, but they remind us not to crash around like a bull in a china shop. Only 5-10% of challenges between bulls lead to actual fights. The bulls compete for females by butting heads. They have special boney struts that reinforce their inner and outer skull as well as a thick matt of hair on their forehead to protect them from the force of the blows. This reminds us of the benefit of being “thick headed”. Sometimes it is necessary to know your truth and not give in to the shoves of others. Do be mindful although, because bulls easily gore their opponents by slipping off to the side. Remember that going straight on may leave you vulnerable.

Gratitude

Buffalo symbolism is also linked to giving thanks much in the same way as turkey spirit animal. When White Buffalo Calf Woman came to the Lakota people she did so with the teaching of right action and right prayer. Giving thanks was a part of her teaching. When considering the meaning of buffalo, remember that you are both the buffalo and the ecosystem that profits from their action. You have the opportunity to spread abundance wherever you go as long as you stay true to who you are AND now is the time to give thanks for the myriad of ways that the Divine brings abundance into your life.

Just now scientists are beginning to understand the immense impact that buffalo had on the vast grasslands that once covered the North American continent. They are just now seeing the connections between buffalo and their environment. All along, people who lived off the land and off the flesh of the buffalo understood that all was connected. They honored these connections and with an deeper understanding of the medicine of buffalo spirit animal so can we.

 

Want to learn more about spirit animals?
Visit the Spirit Animal Guide

 

Spirit Animals: POLAR BEAR

Polar bear spirit animal’s world is frozen, with landmarks often hard to find. To make matters more challenging, the wind constantly moves the drifts and the floes carrying his plans and thoughts asunder. He does not have a preference for one way, the way, but rather relies on the wisdom of the ages and the abundance of the underworld to carry him through. He’s been doing this for a long time you see. He was the one who knew who we were before we did.

Polar Bear Spirit Animal’s Coat

When we see a polar bear’s coat we assume that the individual hairs are white, but they are actually clear. The translucent hairs scatter sunlight with no preference for any particular color ray and, thus, they appear white. This brings to the fore an incredible truth as the color “white” is often associated with goodness and purity, but “white light” is interpreted differently. White light is synonymous with Source, God, and divinity.

Polar bears, like the stark, snow-covered landscape they live in, reflect divine light. If a polar bear has walked into your imagination, dreams, or ordinary world , now is the time to pay homage to the blinding beauty that is the Creator. The immense size and presence of these apex predators gives additional gravity to the message.

Polar Bear as a Channel for Grace

The longer guard hairs of a polar bear’s coat are hollow as well as transparent. The hollow hairs were originally thought to conduct the sun’s warmth down to the  bear’s black skin, but this theory has proven false. Most of the heat from the sun doesn’t make it past the polar bear’s incredibly dense coat. Through the qualities of his hollow fur, polar bear spirit animal demonstrates how being a hollow reed can reflect divinity out in to the world. It is so clever that scientists used to think the hollow hair conducted the energy of the sun to the bear’s skin to warm him, and now we know this is not true.

In your own life, examine your beliefs about why you have decided to be a channel for grace. Do you believe allowing joy to move through you will bring you more joy? Are you afraid to allow the light to move through you for fear you’ll be overheated or overwhelmed? Do you spend all of your time trying to clear yourself so that you can be a channel for healing? The polar bear spirit animal has come to guide you through this process, and before we barely get below the surface we see the first set of lessons about appearances and beliefs concerning channeling divine energy. Being perfect or pure or good is not the goal, radiating the divine is.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

 

Connection to Snow Symbolism

There is a compelling parallel between the polar bear’s fur and snow. The multi-faceted ice crystals of snow flakes cause all color rays to bounce around, not absorbing or reflecting any color with any consistency, which causes us to see the snow as white in the same way we do the polar bear’s fur.

Many dream interpretation guidebooks define snowflakes and snow as “frozen emotions,” but I particularly am interested in the less common idea of these representing “spiritual truths”. The spiritual aspect coming from the white light they reflect and the truth coming from the concrete form of an ice crystal. Also, like any spiritual truth, snowflakes are temporal and infinite in nature. We all know that no two snowflakes are alike. Being of the land of snow, polar bears bring an innate ability to connect with the nature of spiritual truths.

Contrast of Scarcity and Abundance

There is intense contrast in the realm of the polar bear. He lives in a white, seemingly barren landscape, but just below the surface he has easy access to a dark, fertile underworld. The ocean that he navigates as effortlessly as the top world is teaming with life.

His own physique mirrors his outer world as his hollow, transparent fur hides a black skin covering a thick layer of blubber over 4 inches thick. He has a hard time staying cool in one of the coldest environments on earth. This shows that although you may appear to have a stark life on the surface, you hold vast resources below/within. How can you begin to see your life inside-out so you may honor this abundance more fully? Is the contrast jarring you at this time? Polar bear spirit animal has come to help you walk and swim the duality with grace.

Polar Bears in Folklore and Art

In the mythology  of the Inuit, polar bear spirit animal is known “Nanook”. Many northern tribes say polar bear is the one that taught man how to hunt and survive. In Greenland he is known as “Tornassuk” the master of helping spirits and the main agent of initiation for shamans. The Inuit too saw him as the primary guide for shamans. In many traditions, he is rumored to take a human shape, being a human while inside the igloo, which he also taught humans to build, and a bear while out on the ice.

I’d like to highlight one artist has dedicated her life’s work to depicting the white bear. I’ve known since childhood and always adored Barbara Stone. In the 35 years she’s been captivated by the polar bear’s presence, she’s traveled to the north to observe them dozens of times. Her whimsical artwork shows the bears taking baths, sitting down to tea, and out tending the garden, and readily demonstrates how these massive creatures can easily assume our form. She has tapped in to an archetypal, subconscious knowing of how we are linked with these animals.

The Polar Ice

Ice plays a critical role in the life of polar bears. Their migration follows the flow of the polar ice pack. Polar bears need the ice to ambush their surfacing prey from. When ice is less prevalent polar bears will swim hundreds of miles to new ice floes in search of hunting opportunities.

This speaks of the usefulness of having a solid, but fluctuating boundary between our outer and inner worlds, to trusting that what we need will come from the unknown of the dark depths below, and to knowing when to put in concerted effort to seek out new nourishment.

Ice being more permanent than snow, it represents frozen spiritual truths, and polar bear can show us the need to freeze some of our beliefs into the ground we walk on for a time. When the seasons change and the time comes, those beliefs will naturally break up or move on and new floes of ice will form to support us. Polar bears will fast for a time when the ice floes are absent. This is a reminder that it is okay not to have beliefs to stand on for a time, and that you have the reserves built up to last you until you are supported in freezing up a new belief system.

Association with Seals

The diet of polar bears consists mainly of seals. Seals are linked with creativity and the imagination. Thus, we see here the need to harvest the fruits of our creative endeavors rather than solely allow them to surface for breath on occasion. Time to haul that beautiful gift of yours up onto the ice and allow it to provide the sustenance you need to take you into the next length of time between projects.

Mother Polar Bear

Mother bears typically have twins which again highlights the dual nature of these white beasts. The number two is significant here and it may be worth your time to look into mythology surrounding twins. Have you given birth to two ideas at once? How will these creations co-exist? Mother polar bear may be able to help you with these questions. Just know that she does not wean her young for 2 and a half years, so this process of raising two dreams at once may take some time. As always with the polar bear spirit animal as our teacher, patience is a virtue not to be forgotten.

Spiritual Masters

It turns out these great beasts have a great amount to teach us. It is even worth looking in to what spiritual masters and mentors have made a difference in your life. Which of these teachers radiated the divine without preference for a given color, way, or understanding? Who was willing to offer guidance without attachment to the outcome, purely for the bliss of sharing? Who gave support and knowledge to you without asking anything in return? These are the polar bear spirit animals that have wandered into your life in human form. Watch carefully what they do for they will teach you how to survive in an otherwise inhospitable environment.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

 

 

The medicine wheel and the qualities of each cardinal direction.

Calling the Directions & The Medicine Wheel

Working with the Medicine Wheel

Honoring the directions within the framework of a medicine wheel is a common practice of shamanism found throughout the world and at the root of each of our ancestral lines. This prayer to honor the directions can be called a number of things depending on the culture and preferences of the person praying. Some say we are “calling in the directions” while others state we are “calling ourselves to the directions”. Others just see that we are setting up sacred space to do sacred work.

Regardless of the nomenclature, it is important to take a moment and reflect on why you have chosen to enter in to this practice.

Intention for Calling in the Directions

Are you worried about negative energy entering in as you open up to meditate or journey, so you feel compelled to set up protection around yourself? Do you wish to offer your gratitude to the seasons and rhythms of nature? Is it just because you learned it in a class and you’re trying to explore the power of the medicine wheel practice? Are you asking for help from all of creation for a healing? Are you offering yourself as a channel for the Divine? Would you like to call yourself back to center so that you can be your authentic self and be grounded in your being? Do you intend to set up a quiet space for meditation free from the chaos of the everyday?

The good news is that calling in the directions using the medicine wheel does all of the above and more. Your intent will shape the content and power of the chants or prayers you say. So take the time to reflect on your intent and then be willing to allow that intent to shift over time. The beauty of a shamanic practice is that it is personal and place based. Depending on who you are, where you live and what stage of your life you are in, calling the directions will look different because your relationship to nature will be different.

Directions of the Medicine Wheel

The medicine wheel can be broken into five or seven parts depending on your inclination, but always contains the four primary directions: East, South, West and North and a central point or axis.

“Above” and “Below” can also be recognized individually or not because the central axis is seen as inherently connected to these two spaces. As you determine what qualities, gifts, elements and power animals to acquaint with each direction of the medicine wheel I have a simple framework for you to start with.

  1. Path of the Sun: The medicine wheel is laid out in relation to the path of the sun. The East is the place of dawn (beginnings) and the West is the place of dusk (endings)
  2. Seasonality: The medicine wheel can be laid over a seasonal calendar which for us places spring in the East, summer in the South, fall in the West and winter in the North (see photo above). If you lived at the equator you would only recognize two seasons, rainy and dry, or if you lived at the poles you would recognize light and dark, so your associations would be different.
  3. Diurnal Cycle: You can also overlay the wheel with the a 24 hour clock with the East being sunrise, South being midday, West being sunset, and North being midnight.

Qualities of the Directions

To help you determine your own, unique blend of qualities to associate with the directions of the medicine wheel, I offer the following ideas that I’ve accumulated from studying a number of cultures and nature herself. You may see some qualities listed in more than one direction. Feel into the quality and see where it fits for you.

  • Qualities of the East: dawn/sunrise, spring, new beginnings, birth, infancy, mental body, element of air, seedling plants, new shoots, fresh start, innocence, play, childhood, the Sun or Mother Earth, blue, yellow, green, swords tarot suit, astrological houses 1-3.
  • Qualities of the South: midday, summer, adolescence, physical body, mature crops, abundance, element of fire, the Sun or Mother Earth, passion, drive, vitality, fullness, ripeness, maturity, red, orange, wands tarot suit, astrological houses 4-6.
  • Qualities of the West: dusk/sunset, fall, adulthood, emotional body, leaves dropping from trees, letting go, harvest, gathering resources inward, the void, discernment, element of water, the womb, the Moon, surrender, trust and faith, the unknown, black, blue, cups tarot suit, astrological houses 7-9.
  • Qualities of the North: midnight, winter, elder, spiritual body, frozen landscape, silence, communion with Spirit, element of earth, the Moon, death, union, intuition, complete understanding, being filled with the Divine, white, pentacles tarot suit, astrological houses 10-12.
  • Qualities of the Center: Heart of the matter, in the moment, timeless, ageless, integration of all bodies, openness, channel/hollow reed, grace, connection to above and below, trees, mountains, inspiration, rainbow, all colors.
  • Qualities of Above: Cosmic currents, collective unconscious, movement of the heavens, wisdom of planetary bodies, future, possibility, stars, galaxies, expanded consciousness, God, angels.
  • Qualities of Below: Planetary currents, collective history, ancestors, roots, creation, fertility, the womb, the cave, Goddess.

 

Want to learn more?
Read this article about How to: Prayers to the Directions

 

lewis woodpecker spirit animal

Spirit Animals: LEWIS’S WOODPECKER

He has a barbed tongue for snagging insects from holes in trees. He has two toes facing forward and two facing backward, like all woodpeckers. His stiff tail feathers make it possible for him to lean his tail along a tree trunk to climb erect. He can drill a hole through wood as well as any of his cousins. Still one gets the impression that the Lewis’s woodpecker is distinctly trying NOT to be a woodpecker.

This woodpecker’s namesake, Meriwether Lewis made famous by his expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase with William Clark, commented in his journal that this woodpecker flies “a good deal like a jay bird”.  This woodpecker doesn’t pound out holes in trees to harvest insects or sap. The Lewis’s Woodpecker prefers to hunt by what’s called “hawking”. This bird, which is adapted to cling to the sides of trees and penetrate their bark with hammering blows, catches insects on the wing. He also delicately gleans insects from the ground or from the surface of the bark. He’ll gather nuts and berries too, and, on occasion, he will find natural crevices in the bark and probe those.

It’s hard to comprehend tens of thousands of years of evolution bringing this bird to it’s stunning form as a woodpecker then to have that form employed for occupations other than, well, woodpecking. If the Lewis’s woodpecker spirit animal has flown its beautiful self into your life you are being asked to let go of how familial or societal norms have shaped you. Clearly if this woodpecker can adapt his awkward climbing body to ballet-style flight and make a living doing it, there is no need for you to conform. Let go of the belief that your creativity is limited by what you are. This simply is not the truth.

This absolutely stunning, rosy chested woodpecker has a black back that glimmers the deepest shade of emerald green in the sunlight. The sweetest color of red covers the sides of his face and clean lines create a collar of grey feathers about his neck. This bird resonates with the deep nature of his forested environment and emanates true, heart-centered compassion from his being. Merge with this love, and know what it feels like to love without judgement in a way that overlaps with professionalism and confidence. A perfect companion for business dealings, this monogamous woodpecker is clear in his partnerships and exemplifies how creativity and duty meet for beneficial ends.

It is interesting that like his cousin the acorn woodpecker, the Lewis’s woodpecker will stash acorns in holes in trees, but the acorn woodpecker drills holes to fit the acorn. The Lewis’s woodpecker re-shapes the acorn to fit natural crevices. This, again, shows how the Lewis’s woodpecker is willing to adapt his resources and his character to match his world, rather than manipulate the world to his needs. This is the power of a true artist, one who flows with his form and that of his environment to accent the power around him rather than play the engineer who strives to perfect.

That this bird is named after a famous explorer tasked with mapping the resources of a newly purchased territory is no cosmic mistake. In asking about the meaning of woodpecker, you are being asked to take a gliding, relaxed flight through the unmapped territories of your world and see the resources available to you. Don’t look for imperfections or weaknesses in other people, things, or yourself. Ask, “what is stunning here that I am drawn to work with?” In this way you will find that you don’t have to awkwardly think your way through using the resources available to you. You don’t need to go through the task of creating more opportunities. All you need to do is open your creative heart with confidence and come into alignment with the deep abundance of the forest about you.

Note: I’ve been largely writing lately about animals others have encountered, but this lovely little beast kept crossing my path on my drive too and from work. The other day as he crossed just in front of my windshield I spontaneously felt his energy cross through my soul. It’s one of those callings you can’t dismiss and I hope you find some resonance as well with this sweet expression of the Divine. 

 

Want to learn more about spirit animals?
Visit the Spirit Animal Guide

 

goddess pele

The Goddess Pele

In late July, I found myself arriving late at night onto “The Big Island” of Hawaii. I planned to go on this trip, but had left the details to my husband. We made a trade. I scheduled the logistics of our earlier trip in the summer to southern Colorado with our horse and he booked our flights to Kauai and The Big Island. It was great to finally let go and be along for the ride. I was pretty exhausted and immensely happy for the plush lodging and full-on spread of food our friend had arranged. Admittedly, I was confused and a bit worn out by the enthusiasm of our friend as he pulled out a bag full of freshly picked plumeria flowers, a “lea needle” and thread. He was excited to show us how to make our own leas. I held my eyes open through the demonstration then allowed myself to be towed along out to his car.

Where in the world could we be going at 12:30pm at night with three leas in hand? It was cold outside and that cozy bed sounded so nice. Our friend was bubbling with excitement and rightfully so, I had no idea what was in store.

In 5 minutes I was there, standing on the edge of a gigantic volcanic crater. The moonlight lit the entire crater and nearly blotted out all stars. Out before us rose and traveled out to sea an enormous plume of smoke, the breath of lava. At the mouth of the crater the smoke glowed bright red reflecting the lake of molten earth below. Molten earth. I had no idea I was going to see the Goddess Pele creating new land. I hadn’t even realized what this meant before this moment. At this moment, I remembered having this desire all my life. The fulfillment of this desire ran fresh through my veins. I was stunned by the experience and felt intense gratitude as our friend sang a chant to Pele and directed us to cast our leas as our gift.

This is what it looks like to travel, to live, without agenda. I wonder if this is what it’s like for Pele to create new land, to all of a sudden find that she has stepped foot into an experience that fulfills a deep yearning. What if every experience of our lives could be this spontaneous and this preordained? I encourage you to consider releasing the agenda and showing up on new ground. I surely wasn’t disappointed.

In the Flow

What an interesting phrase: “In the Flow.” These days it is used to explain some great psychedelic high in a movie cast with characters doped up and checked out. Or you’ll find it in reference to an especially loquacious portion of a rap song. But, I’ll give the credit for its current meaning in my life to my friend who owns a mineral shop in Kauai. She used it in conversation the other day saying about a person she’d introduced me to that “they’re in the same flow we are.”

I spent my last weekend with my friend at the Denver Gem and Mineral show wandering at her side as she purchased inventory for her store. As usual, the experience of being surrounded by so many amazing specimens from the Earth was shear joy, but this time I had a window into the show that, at the risk of sounding cliche, changed my life.

There was the meteroite guy from South Africa who, after inviting us to sit behind his tables to sort through red sugilite, pointed out a stunning piece of flourite sitting on the floor. He pulled a magazine up that had been propped open against the same piece and showed us the photo of the stone. “What better place for a museum quality flourite than the floor?” we chuckled. There was the couple who had quartz clusters bigger than a riding lawnmower and amethyst geodes that wouldn’t fit through the door of my house. We shared potato chips over citrine spheres. There was the opal dealer from Oregon who shared stories about his increasingly rebellious son with a warm smile on his face, or, on second thought, was it the glow coming from the opals?

Here were these vendors sitting on tens of thousands of dollars worth of inventory during hard economic times. Sure we met the cranky ones who had worry lines etched in their face, and we were grateful for the good deals they offered and quality stones they carried, but it was the glowing people we spent hours with. The light through the minerals sparkled in their eyes. They were constantly moving the lamps in their booths to show us the color in the stones. They were absolutely high and in love.

My friend and I debated as to if these stones could be considered a “luxury item” or not. I felt so because if I were living off the land I would live well, but not have access to aquamarine from Nepal. She disagreed because even when she was a poor student she spent her money on stones. They offer as much sustenance to her as the tomatoes in my garden do to me. Point well taken.

Regardless of if the minerals are a necessity or not, there is a fabulous culture surrounding them. All these people loving what they do, allowing precious stones and money to flow in and out of their lives like a fresh breeze, traveling the globe either literally or through contact with the stones, and living well while they do it. It was truly infectious. Maybe I’ll quit my day job and hit the road?

Here are some journey question ideas in regards to the article “In the Flow”… Remember to be kind and gentle with yourself in this inquiry. There is no judgement, no right or wrong… just your invaluable experience …

1. Can I recognize when others are in the flow of creation?
2. What does it feel like to observe and how is it when I experience it myself?
3. If I recognize this movement in the world, when was my most recent experience of it?
4. If I can’t observe or experience this, what are the blocks to me doing so?
5. What is my definition of “In the Flow”? How does it taste, feel, look, sound, etc.?

into summer

Into Summer… Imagine Winter?

Given the lovely promptings of a dear friend I made it a goal of mine this season to partake in summer. For perhaps the first time in my life I decided to fuel summer experiences with my own imagination.

As a single child, a part of a two-home family I spent a lot of hours indoors waiting for my mom or dad to make it home from work. My eleventh summer I was trapped indoors in a full body cast. We titled the cast and the experience the “summer bummer”. So, needless to say I have a tad of seasonal agoraphobia. While everyone else is out loving the sun and abundance, I’m often inside searching for the motivation to leave the dark cave of a cool house.

Part of it was cellular memory. I just didn’t have it. I had learned how to enjoy the summer on camping trips and vacations, but I didn’t have the countless days of hours on end playing at who knows what outside. There were few other kids to play with and even fewer to romp careless with me around the relatively sterile suburban neighborhood I grew up in.

Given that most outdoor excursions I had in my youth required some sort of reason, as an adult I was left without one. Who was I going out to play with? Where were we going? What time would we be back? What was I going to do?

During my years as a field biologist all of these questions were taken care of for me. I got to play on the beach and in the woods as part of some extrinsic scientific plan. I was in heaven and didn’t realize that this lack of responsibility was a large part of it.

As my profession changed in favor of a steady income, my reason to go outside was no longer outside myself. I had to generate it from within and found it a troublesome chore. It was a heavy weight I couldn’t shake.

So, this summer I just kept going out against the doubt, the resentment, the apathy, and a lovely transformation came about. I stopped worrying who would entertain me. I quit fussing over the finish line because the weeding is never done. I found the sun flooded all hours of the day and took up with whatever small task caught my fancy.

I picked bouquets of flowers to decorate our table, lulled around with my mare in the noonday heat, found solace in the morning shade on our garden, picked bowl after bowl of lobelia and chamomile, and watched colorful new bugs come to visit our plants.

For the first time in my life I’ve gotten so caught up in summer that I’ve absolutely forgotten what winter is like. What a strong lesson about being in the moment. May the children of today trapped in video games, cable TV, and air conditioning find it sooner than myself. May those of us that have lost the memory find it again.

In Gratitude, Stacey

In response to “Into Summer… Imagine Winter?” you may choose to journey and/or journal on the following questions:

1. What season am I least familiar with?
2. What has kept me from partaking fully in this season?
3. When have I most appreciated this time of year?
4. Am I prepared to seize the next opportunity I have to partake?
5. How will I know I’ve fully immersed myself in the time?