I hope you had a festive week. It's been a week of celebrations and messages. Halloween and Day of the Dead are holidays that have a special place for me. I have had very powerful experiences at this time of year. These holidays are the mirror of Beltane, both are times when the veils between the worlds are thin. However at this time the veil between the lands of the dead is the thinnest. May Eve on the other hand has its veil the thinnest between here and the fair lands of faery.
There are points in the year which just have a certain magical energy about them. There is a change in the air as the angle of the sun's light transitions into the darker months. Even with unseasonably warm weather I felt the wind swirling about me and beckoning with promises of mysteries as I practiced my forms outside this week. Halloween night I didn't have anything planned for once. I was scheduled for my evening class, but I wasn't surprised when no one showed up. The whole gym was fairly deserted that evening. So I went home early. I was restless. These points of power on the calendar always make me feel as if I should be out "doing" something with the excess energy. So a little after eleven I decided to go for an evening walk. The trick or treaters had long since retired. The jack-o-lanterns were all extinguished, there was a slight chill in the air more akin to late fall, and several of the streetlights had burned out.
I often walk at night. For one thing in the summer it is the only time it is cool enough to do so. I often will call up a friend and put in my headset as I wander the roads and sidewalks. So I am no stranger to the paths around my neighborhood. This night felt different, it seemed everyone was hunkered down and shut in form the night, or what lurked there. Although the only lurking thing was me, mwahaha! As I turned the corner I encountered a pair of deer in someone's front yard. I stopped and looked at them, and they looked at me. Neither of us moved for a minute, and then they got the look in their eyes that said, "Fuck a human!" After that they bounded off across the street. I was quite startled. I've seen deer around here before when I've been driving, but I have never gotten that close to them on foot. I've never run across them when I've been out walking, and I have walked at all hours of the night. (Insomnia is at times my ardent mistress). It felt special, and it happened again on my way back. I was pretty sure it was important.
In the shamanic paradigm animals all have gifts and messages. My teacher would say, "You should journey on that." So of course the first thing I did was to pick up Animal Speak by Ted Andrews and look up deer. The keywords were gentleness and innocence, and the luring to new adventures. Sounds good right. I'd also had heard from various stories that deer medicine was about compassion. These past few months I've been working at healing some deep level heart wounds, so their appearance seemed to be a nod towards my efforts. I did eventually journey to see what messages they had for me, and it was profound (no I'm not sharing it with you because it was a private journey).
Animal encounters are always intriguing. They connect us with the other. We share this world with many intelligences some more familiar and others less. Yet when we meet our neighbors up close it is a very heightened experience. It can also be a potentially dangerous one. Yet when we come through unscathed something within us is touched and changed by the encounter. There is a connection that we share with our cousins in fur and feathers. We often try to ignore these connections or put ourselves in some sort of hierarchical order above our animal cousins, but we share a lot and when we disassociate with the animal within us we lose a large portion of our power.
So why am I telling you this? Well animals are all around us and they can be very effective messenger carriers for spirit. Opening up to our cousins can help us feel more connected to the world at large. They help ground us and keep us focused in the present. Many who have anxiety around other people are completely relaxed around animals (well some animals, perhaps not spiders or polar bears). More importantly cultivating our awareness and relationship to other animals fosters our sense of being part of nature. One of the drawbacks of many of our cultural programs is that we see ourselves as outside of nature, or as rational beings. All of you with families out there know exactly how rational we are in practice. So I suggest we observe, and pay attention to the animals around us. See what they're up to, and how they react to us. They may have a message or they may just remind you of that wild thing you have lurking within. Let the wild out, howl at the moon, dance through life, and pay heed to our "other" relatives.
Peace and Blessings,