Red Bird and Sky Woman, Part Two
Moon Dancer Speaks
Within a few seconds of returning to my ordinary place in time, and to my ordinary state of consciousness after witnessing the massacre of Red Bird’s family in that field, my legs gave way and I, too, fell heavily to earth, as Red Bird’s family had done.
Two neighbors happened to be walking by just then, and saw me fall. They ran to my aid, and helped me home, each holding an arm to support me whenever my legs buckled. This state of affairs continued for several days. When my doctor could find no medical explanation for my condition, I turned to my shamanic sister Moon Dancer for help. I asked her to discover what needed to be done to restore my legs to their former strength and stability.
Moon Dancer Speaks
I am the only one who knows Slow Thunder’s secret name. It’s not Sky Woman, but because that’s the name Red Bird gave her, that’s the name by which I’ll refer to her as I tell this part of their story. Yes, their story, because this tale is as much about her as it is about Red Bird and what happened to him. You see, what happened to them when Slow Thunder fell through time not only eventually brought about healing for Red Bird and his family; it also created an unshakable bond between her and Red Bird, which resulted in Slow Thunder learning a great deal from him about the ancient healing ways of his people.
But that part of the story is hers to tell. The part of their story I’ve been asked to tell you concerns the role I myself played in helping to bring about the healing that occurred for both of them as a result of Slow Thunder’s empathetic nature. When Red Bird saw her floating above that field in the shape of a small cloud; when her empathy for him caused her tears of sorrow to fall upon him like rain as he fought the attackers, he recognized her as a healer like himself. All I am meant to tell you beyond this is what I discovered in the journey I undertook to seek a cure for Slow Thunder’s weakened legs. I think I’ll tell you that story in the present tense, exactly as I experienced it, so that perhaps you’ll be able to come along with me to some extent, and see for yourself what happened.
Slow Thunder Sky Woman has made everything ready for the journey. The scent of sage smoke fills the air of the darkened room in which we are both seated. I am facing south, the shamanic direction in which the events of the past live on, into which I plan to journey on her behalf. She sits in the West, takes up her drum, and begins singing the song that will call upon feminine light from the depths of the earth to surround and protect us as I leave this reality for the far distant one in which I hope to find and speak with Red Bird.
Guided by the sound of Sky Woman’s drum, I enter shamanic reality, where I travel on Sea Turtle’s back over the great, calm green sea that is her home, then over the smaller Red Sea of the shamanic South, its surface dancing in the reflected light of the noonday sun that floats in the clear blue sky above us. To my surprise, there are no disturbances in either sea, as I had expected there would be, given the intensity of what Sky Woman had witnessed.
Arriving at the sandy coastline of the shamanic south, I ask Sea Turtle to wait for me in the shallows there, and make my way into the lush, tangled growth of the tropical forest beyond the beach. As I walk into the forest, sparkling drops of water fall from huge leaves, flashing in the dim light beneath the forest canopy as laser-like beams of brilliant light from the noonday sun above penetrate the dense foliage. I breathe deeply of the landscape’s humid air, fragrant with the scents of damp earth and flowering plants, as I make my way to the tall waterfall at its heart. Focused on the task I must accomplish, I walk along a barely perceptible path on the east side of a meandering, cascading stream. The stream flows north from the waterfall through the rain forest, winding its way to the sea.
Suddenly the atmosphere changes. The forest is open here, flooded with sunlight. I have arrived at the deep, shimmering pool at the base of the waterfall, the pool from which the stream flows to the sea.
I pause to admire the waterfall’s magical beauty as it flows down over a tall cliff adorned by orchids and other moisture loving plants that have taken root in its countless cracks and crevices.
Invisible behind the wall of water flowing over the cliff is a large cave where one can seek teachings from various animal spirits inhabiting the forest around the pool. The cave is accessible by means of a narrow shelf hidden behind the waterfall, onto which one can step from a foothold in the cliff’s face. I won’t visit the cave on this journey, however, for Swan, the animal spirit I seek, can only be found in the Great Marsh at the top of the cliff, whose spring fed water’s continual overflow creates the waterfall.
I stand at the base of the cliff, on its east side, planning my climb to the top. Where visible among the orchids and vines adorning its surface, the cliff’s reddish face is glistening, wet and slippery with moss. Somehow it seems much taller, much more slippery, and much steeper than usual. Taking a deep breath, I begin the first part of the climb, stepping up onto one of the small footholds found here and there in the cliff face, if one knows where they are. I reach for handholds nearly obscured by plants to pull myself up from one foothold to another. At last I arrive at the top of the cliff, panting. The Great Marsh spreads out before me, its surface rippling in a soft breeze. The sun touches the tiny wavelets created by the breeze in brief, brilliant flashes here and there, adding to the place’s mysterious atmosphere.
I rest for a few minutes to catch my breath as I prepare to call upon Swan. Although a dangerous undertaking, both Sky Woman and I have learned how to safely journey into the past by diving deeply down into the center of the marsh with Swan. When she responds to my call, I’ll ask her to carry me into the long ago time in which Red Bird’s tragedy took place. Just as I am about to call upon Swan, a male cardinal flies towards me over the marsh. It lands on the ground before me, at once brilliant and transparent, surrounded by the same flickering light that attended its first visit to Sky Woman in physical reality.
“Red Bird,” I think. I’m both startled and entranced. Fascinated, I watch as the cardinal slowly grows larger, until it stands several inches taller than I. Even more startling is that when the cardinal speaks to me, I’m able to understand it, although its language consists entirely of tweets and chirps.
“Not here,” Cardinal says. “On the land. You must find Red Bird’s spirit on Sky Woman’s land.”
I thank Cardinal, offering him a handful of sunflower seeds, then change course. I return briefly to ordinary consciousness before setting out again on a very different kind of journey, this time into the energetic field of Sky Woman’s land, into the place where past, present and future exist simultaneously in an ever-shifting continuum that both transcends and informs physical reality. Moving through that fluid place, I eventually locate Red Bird’s spirit wandering through the acres of springs north of Sky Woman’s home in the present. Appearing numb with grief, transparent with exhaustion, he chants over and over again, “Hi nah yah hi yah nah ha.”
Once more, without knowing how, I’m able to understand the meaning of his chant: “You are not forgotten.”
I approach him cautiously, for he seems dazed and unseeing, consciousness withdrawn into some deep part of his being. When I softly call his name, he slowly turns his attention away from himself to gaze at me, becoming less and less transparent as he does so, until he stands before me in solid flesh, tall, powerfully built, imposing. As his physical presence and personal power assert themselves, he cocks his head to one side, birdlike, observing me with deep curiosity. When he speaks, it is in a language no longer heard on earth, but as with Cardinal, I’m able to understand him.
“Did Sky Woman send you?” he asks, reaching out to touch my arm, as though needing to verify that I’m real.
“Sky Woman?” I ask.
“I saw her falling from the sky into our world,” he says. “I felt her take on the pain and feel the death wounds that my family suffered. I felt her tears falling upon me like rain.”
“Yes,” I say, “I was sent by the woman you saw falling from the sky. She is from a time far in the future, a time in which she is known as Slow Thunder. She has been crippled by the events she witnessed, and I have sought you out in an attempt to heal her.”
“Slow Thunder Sky Woman took upon herself the pain of my family’s death blows as she witnessed our tragedy,” Red Bird says, tears shining in his dark eyes, around which red circles are painted. “Slow Thunder Sky Woman is like me. I, too, once made medicine, when I still inhabited my body, before the attack. Although my spirit was forced to leave that body, I somehow retained enough power to continue on as I have, but my power has grown weak with grief and time.
“Ask Slow Thunder Sky Woman if she will visit us again, if she will go back to those burial mounds she once found on this land and ceremonially pray again for the spirits of my family members who are buried there, so that they may awake from their long sleep. Although she could not perceive my presence, I was there when she wandered through time and found the burial mounds. I watched as she honored my dead. Like you, she has put her feet on a healer’s path, and has earned enough power to help us. If her legs are still too weak to do this healing for us in the physical world she inhabits,” he went on, “she can do it by traveling back in time as you’ve just done.”
He pauses momentarily, as though looking at something in the distance, then turns back to me. “If Slow Thunder Sky Woman will help release us from the energetic imprint of our tragedy,” he says, “which has imprisoned my family’s spirits on her land, and left my own spirit forever wandering that land, grieving for them through what has felt like an eternity of time, I will be forever grateful to her, and will become a staunch ally for her.
“When she releases our spirits; when she sings the grieving song for us that you have heard me singing, her symptoms will disappear,” he says. “I have seen her soul. I believe she will come to our aid. I feel great sorrow that she was so distressed by what she saw, but I am very grateful that she discovered and witnessed what happened to my family. She is crippled because of her great empathy.”
Red Bird then describes in detail the nature of the ceremony that he wishes Slow Thunder to perform for him and his family, a ceremony reflecting the ways of his people. As he speaks, he slowly grows more and more transparent.
“My ability to remain here on this land guarding my family’s burial mounds is fading,” he says. “We desperately need to be freed from this fate, and our story must be told. No one who knew or loved us ever learned what happened to us. Descendants of mine, brought into the world by children of mine who were not with us on that day, are yet walking the earth, carrying my name, never knowing their full ancestral story.”
He speaks once more before he becomes completely transparent again. “Ask Slow Thunder Sky Woman to come to us, to heal us and set us free,” he says.
“Yes,” I say, as his image fades from sight. “I will do that for you.”
I find my way back into my own time and place, open my eyes, and tell Slow Thunder this story, exactly as I have just told it to you.
To read the next installment of their story, check in next Saturday!