As the astrological Earth sign of Virgo, I have always felt a deep connection with nature, and spent countless years walking Her trails. My lifelong passion for indigenous cultures (particularly Native Americans) led to a study of their spirituality and traditions, which I’ve woven into both my personal and professional lifestyles. I find the importance of our relationship with Mother Earth more relevant than ever, for who better can teach us how to live in harmony with one another – while we still have the chance?
Recently one evening, when I felt an intuitive inner prompting to go to one of the most sacred canyons I frequent, I responded. Driving along the coast, I gratefully breathed in the sea air before jutting off Pacific Coast Highway onto the meandering roads leading into the canyon, to find a parking space outside the closed gate of the state park.
Carrying my drum and a few hiking necessities, I stopped to offer some water to the Earth and ask permission to enter. Feeling Her reply of “yes”, I walked quietly under the night sky, surrounded by the lush canyon walls of dark green and shadow. The light of the stars illuminated the path before me, and I could hear the rustle of animals finding their way down the slopes to the stream of water nearby. I noticed how exquisitely safe I felt, and reflected on how fear-based human consciousness as it currently exists, seems so much more frightening to dwell in.
When I reached a small amphitheater where I usually stop, I felt a compelling need to go further. Walking deeper into the woods, I came upon a small group of benches underneath an old oak giantess, whose limbs extended far past the clearing to offer an expansive canopy of nurturing protection. After pouring some water at the base of her massive trunk, I lit a dried sage bundle and smudged as I acknowledged the Four Directions and All My Relations.
Tears sprang forth and I honored their flowing. Though I felt some relief in the release, I wondered at the unexpected emotion. Certainly, the effort of practicing to stay open and conscious in the midst of unconsciousness can be draining at times and, no doubt, I’d been making extra effort of late. And sometimes there is an accumulation of energy when counseling others and working as a channel, so I spoke out loud to Mother Earth and Great Spirit of all I was in the midst of, and asked for help. Then I drummed softly as I sang prayer songs and offered the names of everyone in my life, including a client’s young nephew who was dying of brain cancer, and for whom I’d been holding a prayer vigil.
Sitting in silence while the prayers and songs reverberated through the canyon and across the adjacent ocean waters, I began seeing beyond the physical appearance of all that was around me. The oak giantess showed me her essence, and how to embody strength and grace in the physical. She revealed the openness and expanse of the Great Mystery in the spaces between her limbs where the stars shone through, and spoke to me of continually reaching upward. When I went to touch her body, she showed me the rugged terrain of her bark and the glistening sap oozing through in spots, as if to remind me of the nature of the path of life in the physical. The magnificence of Her love and beauty overcame me, and I allowed myself to be completely absorbed by all I was being shown.
The experience of Oneness dissolved all sense of time, until I received a clear prompting to gather my belongings and depart. Following an expression of gratitude, I began walking out of the canyon and, within minutes, heard voices on the trail ahead of me. I watched as a group of four young people approached, shining flashlights upon their imagined fears (it was Friday the 13th after all) and then exclaiming in great surprise upon seeing me, “Are you out here by yourself?” “Yes,” I replied. And one of the young men laughed shyly, speaking with a tinge of embarrassment, “Well then, I guess we shouldn’t be afraid!” I answered reassuringly, “No, it’s cool.”
As I continued walking, I noticed my reply had been channeled- the words I used weren’t mine; they were given to me. I thought about what I could have said to them as a Medicine Woman, and imagined the unique and memorable experiences we could have shared together; but I knew I was there for private reasons and it was important to stay present with the blessings and messages being offered. I understood they had responded to their own calling in walking the canyon that night, and Great Spirit and Mother Earth would have the perfect gifts to support their way; I was but one of them, helping to confirm they didn’t have to be afraid.
Once they passed, I sensed a growing spiritual presence and looked up to see a cloud formation spread across the expanse of the sky in the crystal clear formation of an angel with outstretched wings. I felt the same overwhelming love I had experienced under the oak tree, and stopped in breathless wonder as tears again gushed like a waterfall down my face. What WAS all this emotion? I finished the walk in silent reverence and drove home in peaceful contemplation – despite the classic L.A. traffic jam on the 110!
My dreams that night were rich, as I slept with the crystal I had with me on the walk. I vividly recalled riding a horse at full speed through the night and leaning my body closely forward to stroke the right side of its neck as we sped onward. I could feel the taut muscle and pulse of life beneath the coarse, sweaty hair my fingers were touching.
The following day, a few hours after waking, I received an email revealing that the precious child I had been praying for, Gabriel, had passed peacefully in the night with his parents by his side. I recalled the angel I saw in the clouds in the sky and the love that permeated me, and I knew what transpired in the canyon that special night held even more significance than I had realized.
To be continued….
Thank you, Nancy, for this wonderful story. Many of us were praying and holding sacred space for Gabriel’s transition. What a beautiful image to connect to this experience. I am looking forward to the continuation of these words that share your journey with us.