Gore Mountain, New York
When we gather round the great fireplace in the meeting lodge on this magic mountain, our assignment for the first group journey is always the same: to re-connect with the animal powers and the spirits of the land. Their presence is palpable even before the drumming begins, a benign wind scented by woodsmoke, pine and spruce.
On Friday night, my assignment for the second journey is to gather tools and resources to deepen our understanding and practice of soul recovery healing. As I drum for the group, there is a great stir of activity in my inner sight and my attention shifts at high velocity between many scenes and sources of guidances.
Then I feel a soft slap on my upper right arm. My eyes remain closed, as I continue to focus on my drumming and pursuing my own visions. The soft slap is repeated. I open my eyes and glance at my neighbor, Carol, who has journeyed with me in this way for nearly 20 years. Is she trying to alert me to something, or has she just lost sense of body space in the grip of her own visions? I see that Carol is motionless, a couple of feet away, absorbed in her own journey.
I close my eyes and once again feel that sensation that something is gently slapping my upper arm. It feels like....a wing. I see it now, and then the whole body of the red-tailed hawk rises before me in a glory of feathers, wings outspread. As it goes up, I feel a stir about my shoulders. Once again, red-tailed hawk is lending me wings. I allow myself to rise up, in a subtle body, while my physical body maintains the drumming and part of my awareness remains focused on the group.
I am carried, at great speed, to a place I know well. I was brought here, to a place in the northern woods, nearly 25 years ago, on the wings of hawk for my first encounter with an ancient Native woman who began my education in her ways of dreaming and healing once I consented to learn her language and change my life. I have called her Island Woman in my books *, because she was brought, as a child captive, from a Huron village on an island in Ontario to become an adopted Mohawk, and eventually Mother of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk people. When I enter her presence, I am within a blaze of white light. White Wolf is here. To the north, at the source of the light, I see the radiant form of the Peacemaker. Great antlers rise from his head like living candelabra.
Information streams into me, as fast as a burst transmission. I am here to reclaim what I learned in my past studies with Island Woman. Dreams show us the secret wishes of the soul, and in a community that is spiritually alive, people will gather round those who have seen dreams to help them discern the wishes of the soul, as revealed in those dreams - and to take action to honor the soul's wishes. We must move with the soul energy that becomes available through dreams. It is not enough to sit around talking. Soul wants to clap its hands and sing. We want to embody our dreams by singing, by play-acting, by dancing, by every form of spontaneous creative expression.
I am reminded, also, of the great teaching stories of the origin myths of Island Woman's people, and especially the story of the real Hiawatha. Before he became speaker and champion for the Peacemaker, Hiawatha was a fallen man. He fell so low he dined on the body-parts of fellow-humans. His transformation began when he saw his true face in a mirror - the reflective surface of the water in the pot in which he intended to boil up the organs of a butchered enemy. When he saw the radiance and beauty of his greater Self, he gave up his old habits and committed himself to a path with heart, and eventually became the "man of good mind" who led his people out of the Dark Times.
When Hiawatha overcame his most terrible enemy, the tyrant-sorcerer Tododaho, he did not kill him. He combed the serpents of evil out of his hair. After this spiritual cleansing, he raised up his former adversary to join the men of good minds, the rotiyaner, who are confirmed by the clanmothers as the traditional chiefs of the Haudenosaunee, or People of the Longhouse, among whom the Mohawk guard the Eastern door.
There are tremendous lessons here about soul awakening and soul healing. It was hard for me to hold back the tears as the truth of Island Woman's way streamed through my mind and my inner senses. The most important knowledge, it may be, comes through reclaiming what we already know.
Time to return to the circle. I enjoyed riding a thermal over Lake Champlain, and then the view across the mountains to our lodge. My traveling self rejoined my drumming self. drummed the recall, and our dream travelers all came home to the circle, charged with energy and insight for the extraordinary adventures that unfolded over the weekend.
* My fullest account is in Dreamways of the Iroquois.