Good Company in the Snowy Field

"Holly Berry Deer" by Brenda Thour

There is a moment before the white tail lifts in a short, sharp, shock and she disappears in silent bounds into the forest. In that moment, there is an inquisitiveness, an ears forward fearless gaze. Glistening snow holds the space her hooves once occupied.

An old red fox crosses the field, her broken tail askew. Head down listening, listening to the soft rustling of life beneath the snow. She pauses, still, creeping, still and pounces her headlong abandonment into the deep drift. Coming up short, she trots to the large pine and rolls in the snow.

She is in good company.

Fox, artist unknown

Bear Cry

Primal Bear by Laura Smith-Riva

In the dream, I see some deer coming out of the woods, followed by a coyote and a bear. They are being “pushed” out of the woods by a man who I believe is a hunter who is baiting the bear. I can feel how in the dream, I have the story of the hunter in my head before I even see him. Nothing in the dream supports the story I have about the hunter. The animals are calm, the man looks like a carpenter in overalls and a straw hat. He is carry a bucket, and now as I remember back into the dream, perhaps a pole as if he’s been out fishing.

My story is that he is a bad guy who is tricking the bear towards its death.  This is a place of trauma for me. I know this story well. Being tricked, betrayed in the place of decency and vulnerability.

In the dream, the creatures come down onto the wrap around porch that I am on. The porch over looks down onto a wide field and forest. The sun is near the horizon. There is another man with me now. Is it the fisherman? He feels supportive, tells me to perform a ritualized cry which I believe is about moving the bear along so she won’t be caught. The bear is next to me and I cry out. The man directs me in the cry which becomes more like a primal scream. High pitched and yet guttural. I feel a pushing energy in me, push this scream out. First towards the bear but then just out over the field and forest and sky. The bear stands next to me and looks out towards the expansive landscape. And I continue to scream. I send all of it out into the infinite cosmos where there is room for all of it; there is no more room in me.

This is the cry to heaven, the release of something. Anger, grief, fear...An acknowledgment of all that I know and all that I feel in the acknowledgment of my own places of trauma. What has happened, what is right and what is wrong. How I do know and it’s not me. I am not what is wrong. 

I belong with bear, coyote, deer. The fisherman knows about all of this. He understands the vulnerability of deer, prey. He understands coyote, a different kind of trickster, and how he survives. He understands Andarta, Bear Goddess of my North, and her great potency. And he understands me in my grief and anger.

There is no trick. Deer, Coyote and Bear are coming to me and there is nothing to do except lift my voice in the full throttled cry that connects me to the cosmos...and know that this man, the fisherman, is not here to trick me.


dream inspired poem
I had my place at the ancient
Colosseum. A seat right up front...
until the horses thundered by
all froth and supple violence
sending shit-mud-water
raining down.

I simply cannot abide. I cast
a final gaze at vacant-eyed
corpses lifting delicate parasols,
colorful, dripping brown.
The spattered faces of my
family, so enraptured.

They did not see the sky
turn to lava, alien drones
opening fire. Do they even
know that they are dead?
I cannot not go back.

Instead, taking up arms, a tired
rebel, adrenaline junkie
lifting sword and shield.
Broken glass, stumbling,
black-toothed railroad ties.

I yield to a stony bank,
rough kneed, blood in my
palm, dusty sandpaper eyes.
Raven, dark winged
shawl bows my head.

And we make our escape toward the
bright forest, where the moon sheds
her clothing on oak, ash and thorn,
yew and cedar, my ancestors.

Death Valley Dreaming

Death Valley

The wind howls across the spine of shale and abraded 
rock ridgelines where Sentinels stand tall in the twilight, 
Gods watching the story of the desert night unfold.
I reach out and touch the lovingly placed stone
whose countenance reminds me of home fires,
moonlit snow crunching beneath my beloved's footstep. 

Am I too safe, too protected in the womb of this slumbering
mountain? Who am I? Bared bones, desert dry skin, with wild hair, blue dress dancing, voice lifted in song: 

Sister Wind, Brother Stone...marry me home...

Reeling starlight peeks through the crevice doorway straight
into my broken heart. It shines coolly down on the desert washes
where hours ago I wandered in the blazing sun collecting
fossils and dreaming of discovering the crescent moon
curve of the magnificent Big Horn sheep, fallen among the 
shattered rocks, creosote scrub and red fruited desert holly.

The Coyote Stone

I recently participated in a training offered at Dreamland through the Green Mountain Druid Order. One of the activities we engaged with was working with the element of Earth. To begin, we chose a standing stone from within the circle of standing stones which create the sacred Dragon Temple of the GMDO. I was drawn to the stone called Coyote Stone. I felt drawn because of the connection I feel to the many coyotes who make their home on my property here in Vermont.

Just before the snow went, I had seen a coyote loping across our field and I went out in the early morning dawn to track him. I followed his tracks back towards where he was coming from and saw drops of blood in snow. Then I tracked him back towards the direction he was headed which I know to be where their dens are. Seeing that blood in snow brought me fully present to the wonder of nature in that moment. Why was there blood? Was the coyote a bitch in heat or was he father coyote, the hunter, returning to the den with some small prey to feed his family?

The coyotes put up quite a ruckus later that night yipping and barking in an uproarious outpouring of moon driven wonder (see below for a clip of what this sounds like!).

I sat leaning against the 6 foot tall grey stone and felt the hard coolness of it against my ribs. Our teacher guided us into communion with the stone. She encouraged us to feel the slowness of stone, the ancient heartbeat, so slow that the world must stop to detect it. I felt the minerals of my bones communing with the minerals of the stone and my breath slowed and I entered into the trance-like state that is so similar to the hypnagogic dream state. The fact that I was three weeks into lambing on our farm averaging only a few hours of sleep per night helped to facilitate a quick drop into trance.

The aura of the Stone engulfed me and I experienced the slowness of Stone time as a speeding up of the world outside the Stone's aura. Sounds suddenly sped up, the wind picked up speed and force and bird's cries became eerily urgent. I felt a crushing sensation on my back as if my ribs were pressed too hard against the rough igneous rock face of the Stone, mineral being drawn back to its source perhaps.

Then the Stone spoke to me: "You carry me too heavy" was the message it delivered. And then suddenly I saw a skull with sharp animal teeth coming at me out of an orange burnished darkness. It was as if the earth had heaved the skull up out of it's molten core and enlivened it.
Moon Talk - Coyote by Marion Rose

Later, I received the mind blowing information that there was literally a coyote skull buried beneath the Stone.

The message of the Stone, however, is still working in me. When I shared in circle about the message of the Stone, my teacher asked if I was a serious person. I laughed, "No!" But later, I realized that perhaps there is a certain seriousness in me which the Earth Element seemed to want me to know about.

My dreams over the years have often shown me a way in which I perceive the world through a sense of responsibility. I tend to take things on and feel responsible for "getting it right". I am capable and high functioning and have the Leo leadership qualities of my fiery rising sign, so it is easy to take things on successfully. The dreams often present the feelings associated with trauma out of which the sense of responsibility or "something is wrong with me" is born.

In a recent dream, my old dog falls in and sinks to the bottom of a pool of water in the concrete remains of an old mill near a fast moving brook. I jump in to rescue her. Then I realize that my young dog has run off ahead or, I worry, perhaps he has been swept away by the fast moving brook. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! No room to feel either the surrender of the old dog or the exuberance of the young dog. There is only me worrying and trying to protect and rescue. Perhaps this is what carrying too heavy looks like. Too much earth element can snuff out the fire element in me.

The lesson of Stone on this day is to slow down to Stone time, lay down the burden and perhaps allow the energy of coyote into my life. Be a little more playful, embrace the unexpected and know that the old structures no longer support my path. Perhaps Coyote is saying it's time for this old dog to learn a few new tricks.

Here is a video clip of what a pack of coyotes sounds like. We hear this most evenings here on our farm in Danville, Vermont. It's eerie and a bit raucous.