I just returned from a descent into the mysteries of soul during a vision quest program facilitated by Animas Valley Institute. During this time, I experienced a deep communion with the beings of nature, and learned a new way of being with them and honoring them. Not just an offering and a listening, but a true exchange, a conversation between Soul and Being.
In my long history of shamanic living, I have connected to the beings of earth in very specific ways that have mostly involved listening to their wisdom. I would come with a question or issue. I would place tobacco, corn meal, or lacking these, a bit of my hair or spit (in a sacred way), and ask my question. I might rattle or drum, or sing a song, to deepen into an altered state of consciousness, so I might listen to them and hear their wisdom. I might journey to the upper or lower world or pass through the veil into the non-ordinary middle world, and connect with the spirits of nature. Stone people, the standing ones, spirit teachers, power animals. In an altered state, we would converse. Mostly, though, I would listen. While I would sing the sacred songs gifted to me by my elders, it would be a calling and presencing of the spirits through the songs.
During the encounters of my soul with the beings of nature during this vision quest program, through counseling with the beings of nature and the guides (human), a deeper, truer exchange ensued. I would simply be with the stone people, the standing ones, the star nation, and ask a question. I would receive healing sentences that would drive me deeper into the inquiry of soul. What I was observing would become translated into statements that would then evolve into metaphors, gems of knowledge, that would cause me to ponder about the state and the evolution of my soul.
And then, I would offer a gift, an outpouring, a gesture of my soul to them. It might be a song, a gesture of love and heart, a dancing, a story of thanksgiving or “I heard you, I honor you”; some notes from my new flute. A poem. My songs are now offerings of love and soul back to the beings, not just a presencing or calling.
It has become, not just a question to the nature beings–“what can I learn from you about love and soul?”—but also, “what can I offer you from my heart and soul, that you would hear and feel love from me?” Thanks to Fisherwoman, one of the human guides on my journey, this distinction has come deeply into my beingness and doingness.
As an example, we were given a directive to converse with some being in nature about our quest intentions. I hiked up into the canyon of the ancients, and lay down under an overhanging, cave-like stone formation. Silky sand accumulated below– fine enough for the antlions to make their little pits—and sand stone piled in layers above. I could sense the effects of time, wind, and rain on the shaping of the stone. As I looked closer, I noticed tiny insect holes in the stone. And then heard, “everything, everyone contributes to the erosion”. This healing sentence was directly related to one of my primary intentions for the quest, which was to examine and let go of barriers to love and openheartedness. This statement I saw in two different lights. The first was an old belief that I had, that everything contributes to the erosion of the soul, the personality, the energy stores, my Self. That the world could be harsh and eroding. The second way I heard this was the healing way—that everyone and everything was worthy of love and contributes to the eroding of the barriers to love.
After processing this with my questmates, I returned to the stone cavelike structure to sing and tell the stone stories of love and connection. And compassion and understanding of the power and the wisdom of the stones. And what great gratitude I held for them. And how my relating to the stones, including the ones we lovingly bring into the lodge during sweat lodge ceremonies, would never be the same. This outpouring of love and soul a beautiful punctuation to their giving of their beauty and innate messages from their beingness.
And so we are in this exchange of wisdom and soul, listening to each other. Honoring each other. Present in the ordinary reality middle world together, each dancing our sacred dance, together and in our own realms of being. Always, now a gesture of the soul emerging and being shared. No longer just spit or hair…The deepest of deep exchanges emerge from the mystery of soul and the wild nature of Earth.
–Written by Red Stone Song
AKA Lauri J Shainsky, Ph.D.