I Am a North Woman, Part Two
When last we spoke, I was telling you about my journey into the shamanic North with Little Moose, who had appeared as a guide after I had entered shamanic trance. My dream body, having left my physical body, was outside in the frozen, moonlit forest, approaching the medicine wheel on the north side of my home. To refresh your memory, the last thing I was telling you was...
“I don’t know how I’m going to get through the forest, given all the snow and ice, but then Wee-nah-ah-hah-way (Little Moose) kneels down and offers me her back. I get up onto it, and she begins to pick her way north through the frozen forest, following the old logging roads that will take us to the marsh. On our way, we walk through the Place of the Springs, where she pauses so that we can listen to the song of the springs as they overflow and their pure, fresh water travels beneath the earth’s frozen surface; beneath the roots of the cedars that inhabit the springs, heading for the bay far below us. A light snow begins to fall, but Little Moose continues on, delicately picking her way through the icy, uneven terrain.”
The moon rises higher as we climb ever upward, finally crossing the stream that I dreamed of. From there, we follow the boundary line to a huge old pine that I’ve visited many times before. It stands alone within dense growth, a carpet of bare, rust-colored pine needles surrounding it. We enter the pine-needle-carpeted circle beneath the ancient tree, and wait, watching the moon become pure white as it rises above the tree tops.
Suddenly I see a huge bull moose standing there among the trees, staring at us. It seems he has been there all the while, waiting for the full rising of the moon to reveal his presence. His antlers are glowing, as though saturated with the light of the moon. Now I become aware that a younger version of myself, only partially visible, is standing there with him, leaning towards me, as though emerging from the forest itself.
As soon as I notice her, I feel tears welling. She's about thirteen years old. She's wearing that grey and red snowsuit that I thought back then was so cool. Although I can't see them, because most of her body is hidden by the forest, I know she's also wearing those black rubber boots with the zippers up the fronts and fake fur trim around the tops that was all we had for winter boots in those days.
Moose says, “You had forgotten all about her, hadn’t you?”
I reply, “Yes, well, I had. I didn’t know she was gone.”
Moose says, “Think back to this time, the time when you were sliding down the hill by the train station on your toboggan, and got your first menses. You were wearing these very clothes, weren’t you?”
“Yes,” I say.
He says, “Well, you needed a ceremony at that time, but there was none for you. Nobody taught you anything, yet you knew that this event was momentous, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” I said, “I'd been praying for it to happen, praying to become a woman, although I didn’t know really what that meant. I just knew it was terribly important.”
Moose says, “It’s not for me, a male, to teach you about that. For that teaching we must call upon She Who Nurtures and Protects, for only She can teach you the necessary ceremony.”
With that, Moose bellows loudly, exactly as he had the night before upon my arrival home. In response to the sound, the entire forest disappears in a sudden flash of golden light, out of which strides She Who Nurtures and Protects. She is tall and powerful, watchful and confident, shimmering in the golden light. She carries a sword and a crystal chalice, and is both watchful and confident. (You understand, of course, that since she is a very powerful archetype, I'm not allowed to depict her in a realistic manner in the painting I've made of this scene, but only as an archetypal symbol.)
I explain to her why Bull Moose has called her. She listens closely, nods, then strides over to him, takes my young self's hand, and returns. Both she and my younger self are now facing me.
She says, “In order for you to move forward on your shamanic path, you must now welcome back into your psyche this lonely child who so desperately needed guidance when none was to be had. Had you received the guidance you needed when you were her age; had your talents, and strengths and weaknesses, and your destiny, been mapped out for you at that time by wise women, then your entire life would have taken a very different turn.
“Because you lacked that ceremonial entrance and acceptance into womanhood, and the guidance you so desperately needed about who you are, you have struggled with accepting your destiny; with coming into your own power as a female shaman. Now you are being given an opportunity to correct that, and if you do so, a new way in all these matters will open for you.
“You became a woman at this time of year, right about now, don’t you recall? During the first big snow of your thirteenth year. So your feminine power is closely related to the North. Not only were you born with the gift of the North, but your feminine energy, the woman energy that comes with the first menses, also came to you during the time of the North, in the winter. You need to remember all of this. Knowledge of it is already in your genes. Let it speak to you.
“For now you need to take this part of yourself back into your psyche, welcome her, and protect her. And then, during the next big blizzard, you need to journey back to me in the shamanic North, bringing the child with you, and ask for the puberty ceremony she never had, and still so desperately needs. Completion of the ceremony will complete the integration of this part of yourself back into your adult psyche. But the first step is to welcome her, and to invite her to become part of your dream body.”
I hold out my arms to my thirteen-year old self, inviting her to come to me, and she slowly approaches me, shivering with cold. How I love her! How sorry I feel for her, for all she suffered due to lack of knowledge about who she really was as a woman; for how brave she was in spite of that; for how she carried on in spite of everything! Now I'm sobbing as I embrace her, loving her youth, her freshness, her innocence, and her unrecognized, and so as yet undeveloped feminine strength and power. As I embrace her, she grows more and more transparent, until she disappears altogether, having totally become one with my dream body. I now feel her bewilderment, her fear, her sorrow, her confusion, but most of all, I feel her courage as I welcome her back.
Now She Who Nurtures and Protects speaks again: “While you’re caring for her between now and the next big snowstorm, keep your shamanic attention focused on the North. Go outside every day no matter the weather, stand facing the North, breathe in the cold air and look into the North, seeking visions, which will come. You must then write them down.”
Listening to her, intimations of those visions fill my eyes, blinding me to all else. When I am able to see my surroundings again, Bull Moose has disappeared, as has She Who Nurtures and Protects, and the blinding light has receded. Little Moose and I walk slowly back to the medicine wheel in the midnight forest, guided by the bright moonlight.
Little Moose says, “I’ll remain here within the medicine wheel while you do this work, and I will be here whenever you come to seek North visions.”
I thank Little Moose, and offer her a large pile of cedar tips to eat, then return to my physical body and to the ordinary consciousness of physical reality, very much aware when I do so that my courageous young Self is settling into my psyche, enriching my understanding of who I actually am and who I have become, and am still becoming.