a poem by Terri Anderson
Shaman sings creation songs
Softly calls to other side
Chants to earth mysterious words
Corn sprouts, grows though mother’s toes
Roots grasp hold, white veins alive
Feed young plant, green stalk to thrive
And now to pass new life along
Each generation must learn the song
There is some truth in the old saying “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. We are wired to notice what is not working or broken because there is so much that is always working to sustain us. Our drought in California this year made me very aware of how quickly life can go awry, of how we count on nature’s balance. I was acutely aware of the trees and plants suffering all around me. I noticed whole mountain sides turning brown with dead or dying pines and cedars. Thousands of heritage oaks did not survive the summer heat and lack of rain. In January the earth was dusty and hard. Shamanism trains us to wake up, to become more aware and sensitive to our surroundings . For me this heightened sensitivity was painful as I felt the plants suffer, watched deer grow thin from lack of grass. I felt fear rise for the summer ahead, fires, no grass for the animals.
When I caught myself thinking negative thoughts I remembered to trust in the Gods. One of the basic prerequisites for shamanism is belief in the Gods, to trust and have faith. Day after day I prayed to Takutsi-Nakawei (Grandmother Growth) for rain. Even though we were experiencing record drought, I did not give up on her. I kept praying. Brant did ceremonies for the rain too. Finally in February, the rains came.
I felt a tremendous sense of relief, a huge sigh from the earth, plants, and animals, as if a pent up tension had been released. The waters were flowing once again. I felt the earth soften and watched beauty emerge from our loving earth mother. Spring warmth brought forward the green. So many shades of greens, grasses, trees and shrubs, all humming with growth and vitality.
Lack made me very aware and grateful. On daily walks in the woods I felt held by the greens. As I breathed in, my heart was filled with green healing color.
I received many gifts from the drought. My awareness was expanded and heightened. Each spring is a miracle of renewal, but this year I felt more present and at times could almost hear the grass grow.
I felt empowered by my prayers, as if maybe I had some small part in the return of the rain, and an increase in gratitude to be alive. Gratitude to Grandmother Growth for beauty and fertility. Gratitude to be able to pray to the fire, and gratitude for my teacher, his courage and wisdom, for the good luck of finding this beautiful Huichol tradition.