It was at the end of this night, that I had the opportunity to bare witness to his full moon pipe ceremony.
I never actually asked the Sundancer to describe the teachings of the pipe or the how he conceptualized the responsibilities or medicine of a pipe carrier to be. He did however speak about the sacred relationship he maintained with his pipe from time to time. When describing his original interest and impulses in exploring polyamory, he explained that the concept of multiple relationships originated with the relationship he had with his pipe that he eventually had to open up to include Bhurlesquey. He spoke of the sacred marriage that happened between a woman and a man when they were joined by the pipe, and that if in a marriage ceremony, a relationship was blessed by the pipe, it was bound to last forever. In my lineage of celtic shamanism we have a relationship with our mala's as called in the peruvian traditions of shamanism, a mesa. These are our medicine bundles, reflections of our microcosom within the macrocosom and in relationship with the blessed stone people that carry the wisdom of our ancestors in their ancient wisdom. Each stone had unique medicine and worked in relationship with us on specific archtypal themes. Because I was working on creating a strong relationship with my bundle, despite the tension of my colonized mind, I had context for the relationship he was describing. What was foreign to me however was how to add another into this relationship. Since my relationship with myself had emerged I had failed to sustain any long term commitments with romantic others. I had felt deeply and learned many things for and with partners that came through the last seven years, but I always had one foot in and one foot headed out the door. I was waiting for "the meeting".
One of the things I would come to cherish most about the Sundancer was the uncompromising humility in devotion that he displayed when he was in prayer. From the womb of the big box case, he removed the peices of his pipe and assembled them in preparation. Smudging and in deep prayer, he began offering his pipe to the 7 directions. Observing him in prayer, evaporated the boundaries of time and of his individual persona in the world. It was if he had enetered a different dimension and I was no longer part of the picture. I was deeply moved by the ease in which he slipped into this state and the commitment felt within the energy of his peaceful devotion to all that is mother. I focused on opening myself completely to this experience and deeply uniting with the energy present. I felt as if I was in a vortex of timelessness, the air was fuzzy and my body tingled. By the time the ceremony was over, I was filled with a gleeful excitment born of the stimulation of new openings within oneself. A melting of a boundary.
The sundancer came back slowly. His eyes retreatedly coming back to reality. "Hmm...that was an interesting energy" he said contemplatively while looking down at his pipe carefully dis-assembling the peices and putting them away. "What energy?" I asked. "Your medicine" he said, as if he was slowly re-appearing in this reality. "My medicine is an "interesting" energy?" I asked inquisitively. "Umm hmmm" he said in that way that he reflexively displays a curious sensitivity. "It was a foreign energy, he said, "a deep dark feminine energy. Not a bad energy...just a dark one".
He had felt the white owl medicine. White Owl was my spirit name. A name I was given in my post-graduate existential crisis to help me understand my path in the world. A spirit name serves as a road map to understanding who you are, the purpose of your life's initiations, what medicine is born of them and what gifts you bring to the world. In order to understand it you have to watch and know the medicine carried by the animal and see the threads of these behaviors in your own life, generally forming a pattern. The white owl was nocturnal, rotates her head in a full circle and sees clearly in the dark. She has been associated with the dark goddesses of old, a messenger between the worlds of nature and spirit, earth and air and the virtue of wisdom. Not surprisingly she was also the totem of my lineage, which I would only discover a year into my apprenticeship.
Carrying white owl medicine was both a burden and a gift. My inuit Elder used to say "your greatest gifts are your greatest burdens, no one asks for them, but you must use them anyway". This medicine was born of struggle, of hardship, desperation and pain. A pain consistently seeking to be healed. A pain that would take me into many deaths, many periods of mourning and many transformative births. Coming to learn, identify and know the inner workings of shadow in my own life and in the collective society, as it was her dark corners that called out to me, helped me to neutralize the judgements i placed on good or bad, right or wrong. As such, i had a deeper capacity to hold a neutral healing space for others to unveil their "un-desireables" and not face rejection. The underbellies did not scare me the way they do a sleeping sapling.
At the same time, the medicine i carried would mean the shadows of the people connected to me would be shaken up. Everytime, I passed through a new initiation so too would those connected to me and most would run for the hills. The shadow of the soul is perhaps one of the most mis-understood concepts of spirituality within the patriarchial dream. Our lost connection with the divine feminine has disregarded her. Banishing her into the unconcious, screaming for attention and if ignored, ravenous in her pursuit of acknowledgment. But this was only one of her faces. The other face when given concious permission of expression is that of deep nurturing, fertility, sustenance and abundance. The soul is fed of the seedlings of the shadow. As a person worked to mine the unconcious, seedlings of self and therefore existential knowledge emerged out of the darkness and integrated into embodied conciousness. But there is no birth without death. If it was summer all year round, we would never see spring, because there was no winter of re-generation of ecological cycles promoting new growth. Yet even in our dissassociation from nature, we are able to understand the simple truth that it is not possible for it to be summer all of the time. A flower only has so much time in bloom before blossoms return to the earth for the re-generation of a new cycle. The shadow was the dark, the unacknowledged, the unconcious, the fertile, the gestation. The white owl medicine illuminated it, so that the soul could be liberated from the tension in between, over and over and over again. Unfortunately, in a patriarchial, repressed and unconcious society, the shadow has completely been disowned and when triggered the unconcious individual experiences a primordial terror. A primordial terror that our ancestors understood to be a natural defence of the ego to the death of it's roles and identities and maintained initiatory rites of passage to teach an individual how to meet such challenges. None the less an accepted aspect of the natural order of nature.
Entering into a conjoint place of prayer had opened up the Sundancer's ability to energetically feel me and read the pulse of my medicine. The raw, fertile and re-energative energies of the feminine had also touched him. He attempted to neutralize the impact of these verbally, but I could see in his body language, it made him just a wee bit uncomfortable.
I'm on an adventure, this is sure. Yet everyday, I remain unsure of where the currents of the river of this adventure might take me. I can only hope to be with the moments as they approach and with fluidity move through me in the osmosis of the afterbirth of whichever new direction has been brought with the winds of time. Some days I'm sure I am looking for myself only to loose myself on purpose, but I'd rather be anything other than a person who knows no familiarity when they see parts of themselves within a mirror. And so, I think, I see, I feal, I hear, I be.