It is tomorrow. Are you sitting in the old rocking chair? Are you moving in time with the rockers as they make their way in and through time and across the floor? Can you hear me rocking next to you, my chair creaking in rhythm and time with yours? Please, take a moment and listen to when the creaking of the wood lines up with one another – when the two sounds form one. This is where we will begin… you and I rocking side by side, sharing a story. And I ask you once again…
Can I touch you?
Can I reach past and through the distance that exists between you and I? Can my skin extend in communion towards yours in such a way that the physical barrier that exists between us melts away? Can I move my fingertips, breath, voice, heart and soul in a manner that weaves a connection between us? Are you willing to let me try?
In August of 2012, in one particular moment, on one particular day, I awoke before the dawn. I knew that they would be coming for me soon. I gathered the bundle that I had prepared to take with me onto the mountain. It was tradition that I be placed on the mountain before the Sun crested over a specific peak in the morning sky. I sat on my bed waiting. My heart beating a little faster than it normally would. Was I ready? What would unfold over the next 4 days and nights? In my mind I ran through the preparations that I had gone through in order to make it this far. As my mind and thoughts caught up with the sweat lodge and the events of the previous night, there was a knock on my door. They had come for me…
Clinging to my bundle I opened the door and looked into the face of the man who had helped me to prepare for this moment and who would lead me into the sacred spot where I would remain for 4 days and 4 nights.
“It is time.”
There were no words spoken as we made the journey in. There was no longer need for words. Each step I took served to remove me from the world of the every day. Each step deeper into the woods and closer to that sacred spot was a step closer to the veil which separates the worlds. After the circle had been opened and I had been placed inside I watched and listened as those who had sung me in turned and waked away…returning to the world that I would cease to belong to for the next 4 days.
I sang the song. The song that had been given to me in fragments and dreams. I sang the song until it became a Being of its own…full and re-membered. I sang the song until it began to sing me. I sang the song until I felt that my voice, my being had been woven into the landscape around me. No longer was I alone on the mountain and in the circle…my breath moved through the raven’s wing that soared above. My breath was in the movement of the needles of the magnificent Ponderosa Pines. The blood that moved in my body was the sound of the River as she moved and jumped through the canyon below.
A myriad of magnificent and wondrous happenings unfolded within those early hours on the mountain as I tied prayer tie after prayer tie.
…the mating and dance of two of the largest Cloudless Sulphur Butterflies…their gorgeous pale yellow wings moving in time inches from my face…
…the pair of cicadas who shed their exoskeletons as I slept and left them directly in front of my closed lids so they would be the first thing my waking eyes took in…
…the three fishermen who entered the circle with their lines full of fish and never saw me sitting behind the boulder tying my prayer ties…
Each of these moments suspended in a soup of time. Each of these moments carrying messages and meaning from beyond the veil. Each of these moments etched into my senses and being. Each of these moments fresh in their birth and yet having always existed in a time outside of time.
As magical and mystical as the beginning of the 4 days was, I hovered between the worlds. It was August in Northern New Mexico and it was over 100 degrees. My body which would go without food and would only receive one small glass of water each night was already struggling. I was dehydrated from the heat of the sweat lodge the evening before. My skin was already beginning to burn in the heat of the Sun. I moved around the circle in time with the Sun…attempting to place myself in the shelter of the Ponderosas and behind the shade of the boulders who were my only shields. Periodically I would “come to my senses” and wonder how I would make it through 4 days and nights. When this panic would begin I would once again begin tying the prayers together. I would once again sing the song.
At some point in the day I was called to the River. I opened and closed the vision circle as I had been shown to do and began scaling my way down the cliff’s edge to the River below. I stripped off my clothing and made my way from rock to rock, my blood moving in time with the River. I sat on one boulder, one particularly large Stone Person. I leaned over the edge of the Stone Altar upon which I placed myself and let me hair fall into the water. As I rose from my submersed position I saw one of my long silver hairs (there were only a few at that time) swirl in the water around me and begin to flow away from the rock. I picked up the silver strand and without thought spoke the following words…
“There is a woman here on a vision quest. I ask that this hair be carried back to the primordial waters. If this hair is received by a Being who wishes to adopt me, they may find me here.”
…and with that I released the silver hair and watched as it moved down the River and out of sight.
I began making my way back up the side of the cliff…back into the circle…and back to the prayers that I had come to make. At moments time passed and at moments it stood perfectly still…suspended. At moments all I thought of was my own selfish needs and how I did not know if I could endure 4 days and night. At moments time ceased to exist and I was the prayer. As the day crept on I watched the Sun carry his load across the sky. I watched and tried to guess how close I was to the Sun’s retreat and the moment that the one blessed container of water would be carried in by the man whose face I had last looked upon. The time was coming closer and everything in me wanted to weep at the thought of that sweet water moving down my throat.
I sat on the ground leaning against a stone with the mound of prayer ties that I had spoken bound and wrapped in a pile to my right side…and then it hit. I began to feel a swirling in the region of me chest between my breasts. The spiraling sensation was such that I felt as if I was going to vomit what little remained in my stomach onto the ground. As I sat there feeling into the sensation I heard a rustling sound to my right. I slowly and cautiously stood to see if I could identify who was close by. When I rose, the first thing that I saw was that of a brown snout moving from behind a tree close to the cliff edge. Panic. My heart began to race and my body began to emit the smell of fear. My mind raced ahead trying to identify what I had seen. My first thought was a wild boar. I sank back onto the ground. I was about to be skewered. I was about to meet my end. Even to this day, the quickness of my thoughts in that moment remains a mystery to me. Breathe….slow down the movement of the time…are there wild boars in New Mexico…who has come to show you’re their face?
Slowly I rose once again in hopes of seeing the one I could hear. As my eyes traveled towards the direction of the sound they came to rest upon who had come to be seen. Standing by the Grandmother Rock who marked the entry into the vision quest site was Bear. Once again I lowered myself to the ground. If I make myself small…oh so small…maybe this Being will move on…this cannot be…I am not worthy to meet such a Being….what do I do…this cannot be happening… As I sat with my racing thoughts, the magnificent Being jumped on top of the boulder that marked the east gate of the vision quest site. Bear and I were now 3 feet apart from each other. I was on the ground and Bear was above me on the boulder. I could feel the eyes on me.
Do not look at him…Keep your head down…Do not look into his eyes. These were my first thoughts as the spiraling in my chest continued. But…some part of me knew. I had called him. The song I had sung was his. He had taught it to me. Slowly I raised my head and my eyes met his. Slowly I stood to face this Being who had come to show me his face. As I stood he jumped from the boulder and landed in front of me. He then began to move to the Ponderosa Pine that abutted the boulder. I reached out and ran my hand down his back. He reached his great paws out and climbed the Ponderosa and then slid down scarring the bark of the tree in great lines. He then once again climbed on top of the boulder and attempted to use his mouth to pull and remove the yellow prayer tie that I had attached to the tree to mark the east gate. Then, once again he turned and looked at me and sat on his haunches on the rock. He began moving his claws out in front of him. As he moved his front paws back and forth the claws clicked together.
You are his song. Sing his song back to him. I opened my mouth and once again sang the sung that I had been taught in dreams. I sang until I had no voice left to keep singing. He sat, moving his great claws back and forth. When I stopped he did as well. He then jumped from the rock and began making his way to the cliff side that extended up the mountain. I watched as he made his way slowly up the side of the cliff. He would disappear into the trees and then reemerge in an open patch of terrain, turning to look at me as I looked at him. Every time our eyes would meet I would begin singing his song again, my voice raspy and spent.
As soon as he cleared the side of the mountain I heard the song that announced the entry of another human into the vision quest site. The water which had been so coveted and then forgotten was arriving. As the proper steps were taken that allowed me to once again speak, I conveyed what had occurred. The scarring of the Ponderosa was examined I was asked the following question…
“What will happen if Bear returns?”
I spoke the truth. “I will go with him.”
I was removed from the mountain that night. I was returned to the bed where I had laid in the predawn hours before part of me was irrevocably changed. I could not sleep. My body continued to vomit and expel anything that was no longer meant to reside within me. In between these great voidings…I lay in bed weeping. For you see…I could hear the stars singing. I could hear the song of the Bear and the song of my bones in the Stars. Did you know that are bones are made of stardust? Did you know that stars sing?
This particular Story is one that until now I have never chosen to share in a public way. I believe that there are stories that are personal. Personal in as much that they hold power unique to the storyteller or individual whose life they were gifted to. The time to tell this story was now. I share this story, my story, not for me…but for you. Why?
Can you keep the rocking chair in motion until next time? Can you listen to what is being said and spoken both in words and in the pauses between? In the deepest of gratitude.
Until next time…
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Heather J Geoffrey