Sunday, April 11, 2010

Where fresh water meets salt


Jenner-Sebastopol, California
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The little California town of Jenner hangs from the cliffs where the Russian River meets the Pacific. Approach it from the south, following the bends of Highway 1, and you'll come to a sign that states that the population is 107, which seemed like a fine number to me. Drive through Jenner and return from the north, and you'll be informed by the sign at that end of town that the population is 170. That's a pretty big difference.
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I pulled up at the River's End for clarification and liquid refreshment. "This seems to be liminal teritory," I remarked to the civilized bartender as he worked the tap on a local amber ale. "You have a floating population."
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"Our signpainter is dyslexic," he said. "The census might clear it up, or might not." In fact, Jenner is famous for one type of floating population: the harbor seals that gather here in great numbers in May. I was a few weeks too early to see them.
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Out on the deck, I inspected the place where the Russian River - slow and gentle at this point, but feared for sudden floods twenty miles up stream - meets the ocean. A place where fresh water meets salt water is liminal in one of the most important and mythic senses. In imaginal geographies, this is often a preferred point of entry into the Otherworld. In my twelve years of leading retreats at the Esalen Institute, down the California coast at Big Sur, I often had participants study how the cold, fresh water of the creek splashing down through the ravine, meets the Pacific, among the rocks. Then, with the aid of shamanic drumming, I would invite them to take off from this point in a visionary journey to make the crossing to the Other Side, have timely and helpful communication with people on the other side of death, and learn about conditions in the afterlife through first-hand experience.
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"I've seen sharks come up the Russian River," says the bartender when I go back inside. "Of course, they don't stay for long."
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Could that be a great white out there, among the whitecaps? I'm not sure, though I've heard that great whites breed in these waters and are often seen. But I've felt the nearness of the shark since I arrived in California. The night before Jenner, a woman shared what she called the most powerful dream of her life. Swimming in a warm ocean, she found something brushing against her and discovered it was a great white. The shark told her it would protect her and proceeded to open its jaws and hold her inside its mouth. She rested there, safe and cozy as a baby in its crib, throughout the night and rose in the morning feeling wonderful.
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I asked her if anyone in her family or circle of friends had been challenged by cancer. She mentioned a couple. I observed that if this were my dream and my family situation, I might feel that I had not only been granted the personal protection of a powerful ally, but might be able to draw on ths relationship to help others. The shark doesn't get cancer, and I have found that if I can encourage a cancer patient to picture a shark swimming through the courses of her body, devouring the cells of her disease, she often does better. The shark dreamer wanted to explore this.
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When I got to Sebastopol from Jenner and spoke at Copperfield's that evening, I told a story of transferring the healing power of the shark to a cancer patient - the one I recount at length in an essay titled "Time for the Shark God" that is posted in the Archives section at my website. In the morning, swimming in circling loops for two hours in an outdoor pool, I enjoyed the sensation of drawing the shark power close. When I arrived to open my "Dreamgates" workshop on Saturday morning, a car pulled up in front of me with a window decal that read "THUNDER SHARKS."
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My workshop host told me she had dreamed within the past week of an happy and empowering encounter with several kinds of shark, including the Australian sawtooth shark, the most primal and ferocious member of the species. This very ancient Aussie aquatic killing machine has something like a chainsaw on its nose and can pursue its prey - who might include both humans and crocodiles - up freshwater creeks by pumping out a saline solution that produces the salt water it needs. Now that's a bloody shark, mate!

8 comments:

Seashore said...

Hello Robert,
Thanks for sharing your journeys. Have you seen any mermaid's purses (shark egg cases) this trip? Coincidentally, I had a dream last night about a mermaid, a shark and a crocodile. (That almost sounds like a children's story somehow).
Margie

Worldbridger said...

You might find this link interesting (and appropriate to the topic of the day) It's called "inside a shark's mouth."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/10/inside-a-sharks-mouth-pho_n_528564.html

Worldbridger said...

Seashore, that sound more like the beginning of a joke ... A mermaid, a shark and a crocodile walk into a bar ...

Robert Moss said...

Margie - I haven't spotted any mermaid's purses on the California coast this time (as yet). But of course they were a major feature of my visit to the OTHER coast (at Virginia Beach) last weekend, and seemed like part of a story out of fairytales or folklore. I still need to write up that beachcombing episode - reported briefly at our S&H forum - in more polished form.

Robert Moss said...

Worldbridger - Great photos (and nice synchronicity in terms of the time of the posting); thanks for the link. Interesting how once you get through all those teeth, the inside of a great white's pink mouth looks plush and soft and snuggly, as in the woman's dream I reported.

I am reminded of how a shark constantly renews its teeth, which are embedded in flesh, not jawbone, and shift along as if on a conveyor belt. In my dreams last night, I was at the dentist's office, and she stuck a tooth in a gap where a molar used to be, just pressing it gently into the gum. This worked delightfully well. Now I'm wondering what form I was in, in that dream :-)

Seashore said...

Hi Robert,
I believe you were in shark form, of course. For some reason after seeing Worldbridger's photos and thinking of your archives...The Time for the Shark God brought to mind...maybe finally there will be a cure for cancer (immunization etc.)...
And yes, Worldbridger, it would make the good beginning to a joke too! LOL I might have to try my hand at that one!
Coincidentally, the local paper here ran an April Fool's Day article about 6 days late (it is the Florida Keys of course). It showed a local business owner landing a 16 foot great white shark, but there was no "April Fools joke" implied. The owner has been getting a lot of irate people asking him how he could keep such a beautiful creature and not release him back to the ocean. I don't believe that would have happened 10-20 years ago. I believe they would have had a different outlook. It does make me think of evolving.
Margie

Nancy said...

Robert, thanks for he reminder about the salt water/fresh water transition gate, which reminds me now of amniotic fluid and tears and birth, a very big transition for us all. I read this morning that before 1956 in the U.S. almost all newborns got caustic sliver nitrate in both eyes with the effect lasting up to 72 hours, and, no surprise, "newborns can't see very well". I'm crafting some kind of journey for myself now to re-vision (!!) this transition, using part of your salt/fresh water image. It's safe to open my eyes and see the world! Thank you.
Nancy

Amy Brucker said...

I was bitten by a shark once in a dream. This woman's sounds far more appealing! And the shark eating the cancer imagery is wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Just read your "Frequent Flier" article. I once had such great success with your technique that I felt like I'd been teleported into another place. It was so "waking life real" it was mind boggling. Haven't been able to achieve it since. That beginners mind is hard to achieve when expectation is so high! :) I'll have to try it again.