Thursday, September 29, 2016

How Muskrat came to Europe after helping to create the World


At the chateau of Dobříš in central Bohemia, it wasn't the massive rococo facade, glowing terracotta red in the sun, that seized my imagination.  Or the giant horses of the sun god Helios being watered in the sculptured fountain at the far end of the French garden behind the house. Or the statue of a lion eating a horse - a strange decorative feature for any backyard - or even the Venetian mirror, in a lady's bedroom, that is said to grant any wish you make when you look into it, as long as you can avoid looking at any other mirror for a whole year afterwards.    
    What grabbed me was the statue of a little muskrat behind a hedge. A muskrat, in Bohemia? I learned that it was the aristocratic owner of the chateau, Josef Colloredo-Mannsfeld, who first brought the muskrat to Europe, in 1905. He set muskrats breeding in a lake, and today they are found all over the continent and are regarded as an invasive pest in France.
    From my studies of early settlement and the fur trade in colonial America, I knew that the muskrat is indigenous to the New World. I did not know about the muskrat migration until now, or that the muskrat is known here by its Huron name, ondatra. Why my excitement? Well, the muskrat has a crucial role in the creation story, as told by the Huron (or Wendat) and the related Iroquois nations.
    The story is one of the great ones, a cosmogony that can even fire you up to remake your world. I give my own retelling in my book Dreamways of the Iroquois. In summary: First Woman falls from a world above and before our own. Call it Earth-in-the-Sky. She falls, or is pushed, through a hole that opens among the roots of the Tree of Life in her world.
    Now she is spinning and plummeting down in darkness towards a watery chaos. Something comes to break her fall. It is a flight of great blue herons. They spread their wings and carry her down gently like a magic carpet.
    Down below are animals that can live in water. They feel compassion for this strange being who is coming down from a lost world. They hold a conference to determine how they can help. Great Turtle offers his back as a place where Sky Woman can live. But more will be required: the substance from which she can shape a living environment.
    Some of the animals recall hearing that there was something like that at the bottom of the watery abyss, something tangible enough to use as starter dough for world creation. One by one, animal volunteers dive down to look for this. They all fail, until the muskrat makes the dive. Muskrat comes up nearly dead, but with a little mud between its paws.
    First Woman takes that mud, spreads it on Turtle's back and starts to dance. She turns counter-clockwise, the direction of expansion for her people. As she dances, a world is born. It is the world we are living in, here on Earth, and muskrat made it possible.
    I learned this story when I was called in my dreams and visions by an arendiwanen, a woman of power, who lived long ago in Northeast America. In my books, I call her Island Woman. She was born Huron, and in her conversations with me she uses words from her birth language as well as the Mohawk language, which she learned after she was captured and adopted by a Mohawk raiding party as a young child. She reminded me that in dreams we learn the secret wishes of the soul, and that it is the responsibility of good people in a decent society to gather round the dreamer and help her discern what the soul is seeking, and to honor those wishes.
    It was entirely unexpected, and thrilling, to feel her presence here, among the forests of Bohemia, at a castle with a history that reflects the tides of Central European history, dark and light.The original castle was rebuilt in rococo style for the German Mansfeld family in the eighteenth century. During World War II, the chateau was seized by the Nazis and became the seat for SS Oberst-Gruppenführer Karl Daluege, who acted as Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia after the assassination of Heydrich, ordered mass murders and was executed as a war criminal in 1946. After the war, the chateau was appropriated by the Czech government. Today, it is again in private hands.

    I look again at the statue of ondatra, and I hear the voice of Island Woman:


Through dreaming, we recover the knowledge of our sacred purpose that belonged to us before we came into our present bodies. Then we can begin to live from our sacred purpose and unite ourselves to the powers of creation. We can also begin to get in touch with other members of our soul families who live in other places and times.
     Unless you dream, you’ll never be fully awake. In the Shadow World, we go around like sleepwalkers. In big dreams, we wake up.


    I give thanks for an amazing discovery that suggests the secret of making worlds, and brings alive a connection with the spiritual guide who helped to put me on my path as a dream teacher.







Photos by RM

3 comments:

Edie Stone said...

Amazing discovery! Those creative critters sure do get around.

On Sept. 28th I was at a lecture in Boulder, with Ralph White, co-founder of the New York Open Center, who stumbled onto an "alchemical Bohemian castle" and center of hermetic teachings in Czechoslovakia. It became the inspiration for 20 years of Esoteric Quest conferences. Is this the same castle?

Robert Moss said...

I think his castle was probably Karlstejn, which has inspired all manner of esoteric speculation.

Sensing Vitality said...

Thanks for this informative post-- a friend recently journeyed and the muskrat came in her journey. I appreciate the reminder of this wonderful story and feels so stumble into this blog this morning. wonderful synchronicity. Thanks so much for putting out the messages Robert! Hugs to you.