the barren, lunar landscape
of an ancient frothing sea
now juts thousands of miles skyward
as close to the blue as it will ever be
mammoth rock eclipses the sun
casting ancestral shadows
on parched earth
fossils telling tales of ancient days
when a wave took a star as a lover
becoming a mountain
so she may lay with her beloved
in the obsidian of night
this celestial son
only ever knowing the breadth of her summit
hungered for her depths
now navigating the narrow black crest
where shadow quenched the thirst
of his blistering descent
he entered her mysterious terrain
slopes and crevices
hid in shapeshifting shadow
the contours of which revealing
he had much to understand
of her complexity
there he met a gatekeeper
who else but
an old bearded wise man
with face of leather and dust
living between walls of sand, rock and fortitude
he communed with elemental forces
singing hymns to the wind
so they could be carried to his family
suspended in the starlit night
'go on my son', he spoke
'you are not there yet'
a canyon wall
the swoop of her neck
undulating hills verdant and lush
the soft of her belly
a gurgling brook
her full swaying breasts
at his feet the barren earth was littered with bones
and other skeletal remains
'this is where all great men have filled their bellies
and turned back’, he thought to himself
the winding trail beyond still beckoning forth
a man of vigour and vision
who could see the unseen
and lay claim to it
neither map nor compass would suffice
for this fabled treasure he sought
lay not at the summit of his success
but rather at his falling
deeper and deeper
and his rising
higher and higher
through his purity and persistence alone
the mountain eased her slant
and the wind filled his heart like a sail
carrying him further inwards
by Grace herself
seeds of love grow in the soil of devotion
like words that beg to be verse
first they must be committed by lips
and his lips had sang sonnets
only for her ears
as he fearlessly crossed the threshold
of her most sacred inner chamber
touching his forehead to the moist earth
in humility and reverence
finding a cavernous black
darker than any night he had ever seen
his twinkle illuminated the inky blackness
and he saw himself reflected back
like the silvery sparkle
that once glistened on her calm lapping waters
only now realizing
her mystery was merely his unwillingness
to discover every dimension of her being
like an echo who finds himself again and again
reverberating in the empty spaces and
like the holy prayer she once whispered
to his infinite blue
Spiti Valley, India, 2009
I had the fortune of meeting the Captain of a great ship last week. He was the cosmic commander of an entire fleet of vessels in the astral and it was through his diligence, effort and faith, that I even dared step on his ship. I embarked our voyage as a passenger and the further nautical miles we sailed from familiar shores the more I had to cling to his confident steering. There were times when mutineers plotted conspiracy against our crusade and men went overboard faster than we could rescue them. However, the Captain didn’t leave a single man behind and had the authority and belief in a higher order that allowed us to victoriously sail to calmer waters – all crew members in tact. My two day voyage with this ‘star fleet’ taught me a great many lessons about what it takes to be the master of my own craft and I would like to share that with you.
You are sailing on a ship in the astral – some of you a barge, others the Titanic, or perhaps even a canoe if it suits. You may be floating in calm waters unaware that pirates are lurking, far up shit creek with no paddle, or so masterful at navigating the open waters that your sails are filled with a glorious wind as you cooly coast along.
You are all captains of these cosmic ships in the Samsara - the veritable ‘Ocean of Suffering’. Like Noah and his Ark, everything that matters most to you is onboard in the hopes that it will multiply – provisions, people and vision – for the new life that awaits. On your ship you are learning everything that there is to know about this life – essentially finding your bearings according to the compass of your heart.
By now you may even know that between the Devil and the deep blue sea lies a passage that will test your courage, your resilience and most importantly your faith. Some of you will jump ship. Others will constantly scour the high seas for life rafts. You may feel like a fish out of water for quite some time until you learn the ropes. Perhaps you will forget why you set out on this journey and rather become fascinated with a girl in every port. Like ships passing in the night, you may miss many chances at salvation. Yet, hopefully this will not cause you to plunder the treasures of others like a midnight marauder. The trials and tribulations out at sea may take the wind out of your sails, bring you to the bottom of the barrel, or even force you to walk the plank. A perfect storm may rock the boat and in that life or death moment you will have to decide if its time to abandon your sinking ship. This will be the instant where you will sink or learn to swim. Just keep your head above water. By now you may have learnt to avoid this storm altogether by running a very tight ship, calling all hands on deck when the surges and swells threaten safe passage.
Have you been playing cast away anchored to islands far from the shores of love? Are you constantly on the lookout for shorelines, fearful of losing sight of the land? Have you been anchored so long that you have forgotten how to sail? Do you feel like your navigating system is broken or your compass spinning out of control? We have all been there, some of us are there now, but fear not seafarers! Sail farther and farther from the known with total trust that so long as you maintain control of your entities and under no circumstances allow swashbuckling pirates to hijack your ship – you will reach the other side of the sea - of worthiness - of wisdom - and of understanding the meaning of your existence.
Although we are all captains and captives of our own ships, we are also all in the same boat. So rather than send SOS signals from your island of loneliness, set sail into the dark night. I assure you the coast is clear and it is only when you lose sight of that horizon, that the real journey begins. Time and tide wait for no-one.
I've been hearing owls in my neighborhood for like the last 3 years or so. And they scream very loud for me, but when I say it the next day, people will tell me i'm crazy and that they haven't heard anything. I even woke up my sister, mother and some friends to see if they hear it, and nothing! Also, a week ago I was in the car when a white owl almost crashed against it, & I dreamed with a white owl with red eyes that followed me while i was running tonight. Could be that the owl is my totem?
Hey, thanks for reaching out to get some guidance about your dreams and your intuition concerning your owl sightings. I think it is safe to say that the owl is most certainly trying to get your attention and has some “medicine” or wisdom for you. I can’t be sure if it is your totem, but it certainly can be. We often have one power animal that we are born with or lingers with us for most of our life, though other animals may come and go at various times. I would recommend doing some reading on the internet about the owl totem to see what its message is for you right now – it might have something to do with a transition in your life or warning you to listen more closely to your intuition. The owl is a very powerful totem so consider yourself blessed that it is coming to deliver a message to you. However, it is up to you to decipher its meaning.
Perhaps you could find a Shamanic practitioner in your area, someone who can journey for you to find your powerful animal or if you are interested in finding it yourself you could take a basic workshop through the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, where I first got started. There is also a great book by Sandra Ingerman called “Awakening to the Spirit World”, and included is a cd of drumming that helps to facilitate a shamanic journey where you will start to connect with your guides and spirit helpers. At the very least I would sit in silence and meditate about the message it is trying to bring you and listen very closely to your intuition, as above all this is your best guide.
I assure you that your life will change in wonderful ways when you tune into these spiritual frequencies and learn to read the symbols all around you. Good luck and let me know if there is anything else I can help you with!
It was four years ago that I embarked on a journey that was so deeply rooted in my soul’s purpose that I could feel it in my bones. I started to study Shamanism through the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, learning the ways of the ancients on the path of direct self revelation. This was a silent dream of mine that I had held within for years, unaware and disbelieving that I would one day become a Shamanic practitioner myself. I was learning universal ways to connect to a living Spirit that pervaded all of creation and techniques to bring healing, visions, and guidance into my life through tapping into a direct Source.
One summer, on the eve of my departure to a three day music festival in the Kootenays, I did a journey to the Underworld to try to discover my power animal. While down below I fell asleep, only realizing the following morning that I had not safely returned to ‘ordinary reality’ by retracing my steps. Over the following three days I would receive signs and messages of my animal guide reaching me through symbol, myth and miracle. In blissful darkness my friend and I stumbled around the festival grounds until we happened upon the art tent where I nearly fell over in disbelief at what my eyes were met with. Hanging from the canopy was a giant poster of a painting whose caption read, “Women Who Run With The Wolves.” I had seen this book with the same title on my friends coffee table before we departed and had been howling at the moon the entire weekend. Yet, the most alarming of all was that in this painting, my own face smiled back at me with a devilish grin.
Needless to say, I bought this most mysterious piece of art and when I returned home and fell asleep once again, the wolf was there to greet me and give me safe passage back to the entrance of the middle world – the plane on which we two-leggeds live. Since that day I have been working with the wolf as my totemic guide and feel I am still a novice at understanding the depth of its teachings.
The ‘lone wolf’ archetype has certainly been a part of my identity for some time now – preferring the path that I carve for myself – sharing the kill with none – and licking my wounds alone in the forest – has allowed me to preserve my wild spirit from the influence of an overly civilized world. However, it is true that this pathfinder is innately family oriented, forging deep commitments in partnership, and thus I had obviously ‘gone stray’ and would only return to those instincts when it felt safe and of value to my evolution. Following many a year on lonely roads I have only now begun to receive teachings of an entirely different medicine from my canine counterpart – ‘running with the pack’.
It has taken me many miles and milestones to find a pack that is worthy to run with. My clan is neither bound geographically nor racially, but rather in a way of being that resonates with my deepest core self. I have discovered that my truest belonging in the world is not in place but in purpose and that my pack are those who fearlessly live a soul-full life – one where honouring our hearts is the deepest way in which we can honour Spirit. Wolf has taught me that my courageous exploration of all of the worlds can only have purpose when I gift the wisdom gained to my clan. ”Sharing the kill” means we are all nourished and in turn may all support each other in achieving our dreams. Each of us truly has a unique and specific role to play and there is great power in our alignment to manifest a shared dream for this world. Alone we are limited, together we are limitless.
Wolf has taught me that captivity is trading freedom for security and that it is in my wildness that I speak the tongue of the Ancients and dance the rhythms of The Primordial. I must dare to keep treading where my spirit roams unbound and run with other wolves who refuse to let their deepest desires be caged by fear. There is no ‘Prince Charming’, no ‘Saviour’, no ‘Damsel in Distress’ – but the one who forgets the key is in her pocket. My friends, it is time to run. This is an odyssey that will test your ability to keep up with the pack yet will also offer you untameable abundance, cultivated courage and a life beyond your wildest dreams!
You have been cordially invited.
Women Who Run With The Wolves - Tessa Rand
When I was thirteen I was obsessed by death. I believed the only way out of my adolescent suffering was to physically leave this world by committing suicide and therefore carefully crafted my plan of departure. Looking back on it from where I now stand, I can see that it was wholly a response to a culture and society lacking the means to explain to me what I was going through. My childhood was falling away with the divorce of my parents, my sexuality on the verge of full bloom and a lack of guidance to steer my path clear of obstructing forces. I had neither the tools nor the wherewithal to recognize that I was enduring an immemorial rite of passage, a modern day Eve eating the forbidden fruit, culminating in the loss of my innocence and leaving me feeling alienated from the kingdom of God. According to my ‘tribe’ there were no ceremonies to mark the trials I had undergone yet somehow I came out the other side, albeit with a large piece of me missing.
I avoided my intended death by reinventing myself one summer, discovering that identity was a malleable construct whose inherent potency was merely supported by self belief. At this tender age I could just as easily negate it by changing my haircut and my dress sense. As the ninth grade began my entire reality had shifted and the last fetters of my infancy where totally stripped away.
The greatest singular leap I would take in disassociating myself entirely from the known was when I left home at 18 to travel the world. The pessimism gained through many a man’s unachieved dreams had not yet tainted my infallibility and I stepped out into a vast potential believing I was capable of doing anything. There was nothing I desired more than to see the world and sing its sweet hymns into my bones. Little did I know then that I was in the makings of a new identity, one which lasted far longer than anyone expected and has been labelled everything from escapism to wandering to tourism. While I can’t deny that I have been a voyeur of sorts, I still feel intensely proud that I was able to ignore the fear mongering protests of the mainstream voice that connived to implicate me in its cancerous growth of terror and unjust worry. I had discovered a completely different world out there for myself, one where the virtues of man far outweighed his misdeeds. I also discovered that I could use my anonymity as a crutch in my limping search for a sense of belonging in a peculiar world I felt had no place for me.
Since that momentous day I departed from home I have broken bread with more strangers than I can count, acquired so many notches on my bed post that it is but a mere toothpick, and traveled so far and for so long that I even forgot what I was traveling for. The decision to roam the world became my world and before I knew it my entire identity was inexorably wrapped up in constantly being away - an ‘expatriate’ of stationary life, I was swept away in a momentum of self exile and the delight of always being foreign and thus never responsible. While others acquired degrees and mortgaged homes, found life partners and wrote out their 5 year plans, I was sailing the high seas of carefree living unaware my ship was about to sink.
Signposts along the way tried to warn me of the inevitable disaster looming. As I aimlessly wandered the streets of Budapest one summer I discovered that I had no interest to see its sights nor any other European cities’ for that matter. I was literally burnt out from an overdose of experience, every building and face on the street melding into one giant black hole of sheer and utter monotony. Like with most other warnings of danger, I ignored this one and tried to convince myself that it was this thing or that which had stolen my appetite for adventure and it would surely return to full capacity in a matter of time. This was not to be the case, and in the midst of a struggling relationship and a long awaited sojourn to Africa, I finally heeded the internal calling to return ‘home’ to an uncertain future and a less certain sense of self. Now shipwrecked on the island of self remembrance, a cast away of my own making, I recalled that it was I who ate the fruit from the tree of self knowledge, it was I who wanted to taste every flavour of the world palate, and so it was I who must now scratch and claw at the door of God begging to be let into the light once again.
It took some time for me to realize that my perilous descent was none other than a suicide of sorts - namely ‘identity loss’. Initially I blamed my bad mood on Canada, my lacking social life, my break up, work, and not being understood by my peers. Certainly my life experience thus far rendered me in a small class of folks who were either still out there traveling the world or being depressed in their basements too, yet a grander realization was emerging from the shadows. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, I was in a new stage of cyclic regeneration, and racked with growing pains. Finally, I had arrived at exactly the destination I had scoured the earth to find - thy self - and here is what I have learnt.
Identity loss is a rite of passage, it is a gateway to your true sense of belonging in this world. It can not be found in a place nor in a person. It is a process of immolation by which you sacrifice what has served you, what has shaped you and what has carried you to the present. It is a death of the known by an invitation to the untold future. Without identity loss the wheels of the maturation process grind to a halt and the force of evolution stagnates in a paralytic state. This is not the moment to cling to what is familiar but rather to give more death to it so that more life may be regenerated in its wake. Not just any life, but your one true life! It is natural to want to resist the dying of those things which we are accustomed to, to believe that what served us at thirteen or thirty is what will serve us now, yet we are flesh and bones in flux. If it were not for the ephemerality of life then its nectar would not be so sweet, nor its ambrosia so intoxicating. Existence is a cosmic dance of creation and destruction, living and dying, yet without its roots planted in nourishing soil, its sustenance is short lived. Desire sustains life. Passion sustains life. Dreaming sustains life. Death sustains life. It is not enough to just exist, the soul of the world needs your one true life lived to satiate its appetite for expansion. To live that life every mask and mark you have identified with thus far must be systematically plucked from its comfortable habitation, faced squarely, and unceremoniously thrown to the dogs. As with life, death is an equally hungry ghost and all you can do to buy yourself more time is feed it those parts of yourself which no longer define the parameters of your limitless being.
So stake claim to what is yours and live it, or better still, share it.
Photo of me on the road, 2001