2/2/2015 Two years later, I am finally ready to go down the hole.
2/15/2013 Last Sunday I attended the most yummy yoga workshop; a combination of yoga and guided meditation, with the intention of helping us meet our power animals. Power animals cross many traditions and cultures. They can be anything from the animal or insect world, a creature that makes itself known to a person, typically for the reason to guide. Their message it always the same: “I have a gift for you, a message, a way of thinking and feeling about the world that you must see! ” It’s been three years since I’ve come to know the hummingbird and the whale. The hummingbird reminds me to find beauty and joy in a life that has always been full of pain. The whale is the recorder of time, stories, and one’s lineage. A few years back I collected a family ancestry, going back as far as my great-grandparents and great aunts/uncles, on both sides of my family. It was fascinating and heart-breaking: On my mother’s side, my great-grandmother shot my great-grandfather, likely with the intention of killing him, although he survived. My grandfather was 12 at the time, and had to testify at this trial. I can’t imagine. In searching further, there are 4 other court cases from that period, all involving some kind of domestic dispute. So much family history of pain….. This is where my mother comes from, where I come from. No wonder I feel it on such a deep, cellular level.
So I arrived at this workshop with a few animals in tow. The yoga part was great, and I felt warm and open as we delved into the guided meditation. There was drumming, rattling and singing; the drums giving off that wonderful, low, rich sound so lulling to altered states of mind; the rattles producing high frequency sounds from sharp, to staccato, to active. It was like being settled down and fired up simultaneously.
We laid down, cozy and comfortable, and imagined a place in nature that was familiar. For me this was a place along the coast, where forest meets the ocean. In this journey I am sitting on the beach, the forest directly behind me. I turn around and see a tree, as tall as a redwood, with alternating branches, but no leaves. I begin to climb it, up and up and up, and when I get to the top, I see that it is dark and hollow inside. I sit there for some time, knowing that I am supposed to climb down, but do nothing. Then I see there is a nest on a branch nearby, filled with birds (all birds are sacred to me), and one of the birds begins to accompany me as I climb down the dark, hollowed out tree. So together we climb down, down, down, down, and when we emerge we are in a place that feels akin to middle earth. There is a river to my right, which is running slow but steady, and we begin to walk alongside. A snake appears, and begins to dance, the rhythm of the rattles and the drums shaping its every move; up and down, side to side. I dance back, my body also in rhythm. Then I know: the snake is not my power animal. We walk some more. Off to my left, a Giselle emerges, with horns as long as a unicorns, yet coiled, like the snake. We look at each other, and I also know: it too, is not my power animal. A crocodile rises slowly out of the river, its giant jaws dripping with large gobs of water, its mouth opening and closing so near, I can see the white gleam of it’s teeth. Again I understand: it is not my power animal. Then I see it: a wonderful glow off to the left. I move towards it, and then I am there: immersed in a beautiful field, wildflowers all around, the sun shining down as hundreds of white butterflies land all over, covering me from head to toe. They are my power animal, I know this innately.
This is not the first time the butterfly has appeared before me, and I have been wondering about its purpose for quite some time. And while I honestly can’t remember if it was before or after this workshop that I came to understand its message, here’s what I know:
The butterfly is metamorphosis, transformation, the ability to turn from one thing into another. Facing my father’s molestation of my sister, and possibly my other sister, or even me, is the start of this process. (For more about this story read runninginwater.com/2013/01/29/intimacy-incest-and-the-need-for-italics-with-both/
Then myself, the bird and the butterfly, go back to the path along the river, and it is here that I see him: A giant brown bear, as big as a car, his endearing energy drawing me towards him. I had been given a bear 20 years ago, although only recently came to know him as a guide. The bear is courage, both protector and warrior, the ability to go deep into the dark cave of the unconscious, and face what’s there. I hugged this bear many, many, times, and lay across his soft, brown back. With him I knew I could face anything! We all hung out for a while, the bird, the butterfly, this beautiful bear and myself, until I see it again: another opening at the base of a tree, very dark, but much smaller. We all stop and look.
This time I do not climb in.
Diana Ray/April Aronoff
Photography By Diana Ray