Monday, July 10, 2017

Ducks, Birds, Squirrels and a Shaman




words & photos  © Susan Marie


I have always adored nature. 

When I was a toddler, camping at Allegheny State Park [told to me by my Mother for I do not recall] after playing in nature, my Mother saw I had two fat cheeks just like a chipmunk.  She immediately came to me to see why my cheeks were so big and she found a bunch of rocks in there.

Rocks.

Yep, I put a bunch of rocks in my own mouth. 

Rocks found in the dirt of the forest. I have no idea where I got them from, but I ended up with trench-mouth [who even ever gets that?] and all I can think of now is I hope they tasted good! 

After that, and to this present day, I collect rocks. All kinds of rocks, gemstones, ones found in sand and dirt, collected from streams, given to me as gifts. Rocks. Everywhere. Pull open a drawer looking for tape? Rocks. Checking pockets in the winter for a pair of gloves? Rocks. Pulling out a box to look for paperwork? Rocks.

I simply adore everything of this Earth. I guess that is why I had to have those rocks so close to me as possible, by putting them INTO my mouth. Maybe I tried to eat them, who knows? All I do know is this was not a strange thing to my Mother, me, with a mouth full of rocks.

Which brings me to the other day . . .

Human existence takes us on delirious twists and turns and we often do not understand the ultimate greater objective of anything until later.

This was not one of those days. 

Picture this: 

A beautiful summer afternoon, perfect weather, not too hot or muggy, the kind of day where you just feel the sunshine soaking into your entire being and it feels utterly right, correct, you understand that you are being filled up with something far more intense than what the human mind can comprehend.

Look to the sky, cobalt, royal blue, the clouds just sit there like cotton candy, and from a distance, there is what seems to be a hawk flying towards you. You rush to grab a camera, cell phone, anything, and get outside to capture this rare gift. Standing there, the "hawk" comes closer, flying TO you, directed FOR you and as it gets closer you realize it is a turkey vulture. The wingspan on this bird is astounding. As it draws near, you watch it glide on the wind, as if flying was a simple task and the magnificence of the wings, each feather, the flight, leaves you wide eyed in wonder.

Of course I was recording the entire scene, I have to, I document everything. It is part of what I am here to do.

The moment the vulture started coming right AT me, I lifted my arms up and saw both wings straight out, right above my head, and it zoomed down, then back up and as it did, I saw the underbelly of one of the most beauteous beasts. 

 [video below]


video


Knowing this is not an ordinary visit because this solitary vulture has made itself apparent to me for the 4th time in 2 weeks, I refer to my knowledge of animal totems:

"Choose paths that support your higher consciousness and your heart. Use your resources combined with past experience to approach problems from a different angle. Allow yourself to use all of your senses to navigate through situations for your highest benefit. Call on all your resources to get the job done. You are fiercely protective of those you feel responsible for but know when to allow others to sink or swim. Recognize the need for higher awareness in all those around you. Use energy powerfully and efficiently. Soar to extraordinary heights. Do not allow things to weigh you down. This is the energy of the Earth, the natural order of things, the power of the Shaman." 

Strong medicine. Point taken.

Then I had to get right out in nature.


I went to one of my beloved parks with my son, one where I often step into other worlds quite seamlessly, a place where unusual things occur and somewhere that I call home. I drive around the bend in the park and see a certain flock of ducks, squirrels and birds that are always on a certain patch of grass that is part of an immense part of the park. The wildlife only stays to the out-most corner though and I always wondered why.





I grab my camera and start walking. I tread slowly, knowing the animals may be leery of me at first but soon as I let them know I am not a threat they start accepting me as one of their own. I snap photos and take video, the animals are now, what it seems, to be posing for me and then I hear a whistle - whoo-hoooo - from behind rows of pine trees.

I look around.

There is an elderly man standing there by a gate. A house I know well yet never pay much attention to. The house is on the corner of a main road in the city, an extremely busy intersection. I have driven and walked past this house most of my life.

Today, I heed the call. I feel absolutely right and safe in doing so. Subconsciously and spiritually, I already know who this man is without knowing.

He speaks in broken English:

I have something to show you both, come here. 

So we do.

My son side-eyes me wondering what this is about. I mumble, do not worry, it is fine, I will explain later, smiling the entire time.

As soon as we pass the gate, we enter another world. There was only the sound of nature, wind, tree branches swaying, birds singing, critters hopping about, ducks quacking and I was unable to hear a single noise that is normally palpable on the city streets right beside this house.



Without speaking much, we followed this weather worn man into his sacred space. He led us to the main garden with a massive water fountain that has four goddesses around it in a circle. Beyond that are various DIY feeders he built for all the animals that stay so close to his land. He introduced himself to us and we, to him and he motioned for us to keep following him. Beneath an immense covering of grape vines, he started focusing on my son.  

He asked him of his studies and what he plans to do with his life. My son answered, mentioning environmental studies and art as his dual majors. This man, ancient of soul, began speaking of the great philosophers, of Socrates and Pilates, of art and nature. Of the sacredness of the words of those that passed before us, of ancient blessed rituals and practices that no longer exist in society. Of the importance of not being typical. He said one thing to my son, looking him dead in the eye:

Do not lead an ordinary life.  

We continued on, through narrow passages that led into majestic gardens, flowerbeds, statues of ancient art and philosophers, into gateways that led to picnic areas and tables, even a nice setting for afternoon tea. This small parcel of property was suddenly 300 acres.  The only sounds, birds and squirrels. 

We were about 10 feet from a busy city street. 




I no longer wondered why wildlife stayed to this one specific corner of the park. They knew where they were most safe, away from the hum-drum drone of everyday everything and people that abuse and kick at them in the park. They knew that at any given moment, they had an escape plan.

Right here, where we were now standing. 


After conversations about nature, wildlife, spirituality, I asked the man where he was originally from because I knew he was an Indian and knew he was a Shaman before we even entered his space.

He looks to my son: 


Do you know where South America is? 

My son answers: Yes, right below North America. 

The man, pleased, nods his head and begins to tell us about Peru, Macchu Piccu and that he is a descendant of the Inca

I knew we were in good hands. 




Did he tell me he was a Shaman? No. Did he say he was anything other than a human being that came to America a long time ago with nothing yet made a good living for himself via hard work? No.

What he did do was speak without having to say a single thing. 


I keep his name private and photos of him with my son and I private to protect his space, to protect wildlife that gather there and to protect this dear man who saw us both crouched low, in reverence in the grass, just like the geese, squirrels and birds.

He told us to come visit anytime . . .
 

Human existence takes us on delirious twists and turns and we often do not understand the ultimate greater objective of anything until later. 

I am happy that I choose to always take the twists and turns.




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