Bear Ceremony 2 – Moving Onwards

Masks off now, the class members were clumped together, high from their experience.

“Oh man, I forgot to say anything about the importance of the cycles of the Salmon…”

“Ariel, it was cool that you received a message from the Mountain as you were BEING the Mountain.”

“Yeah, I’m still pretty overwhelmed by that. I need to talk to the elders about it… Could you feel Ursula there? It was like she as Bear was growling at me.  I knew if I didn’t speak what I had received that she would rake me with her claws.”

“Did you hear how the long gone Natives connected with both Ariel and Owen?”

“That was cool when you stamped your feet, Gabe. The antlers on your mask seemed to be glowing and I got shivers down my spine.”

“Funny that I got so grounded when I usually feel so fluttery,” said Mariposa. “I feel like I could do anything right now. Only thing is that I didn’t get any specific message as to what that should be.”

“Maybe your grounding was your message – as a gift – and the rest will come when you stay or return to that state….”

“You guys did a great job,” said Charley coming up. “And the masks added a magical touch.”

“It was so powerful feeling the Salmon come alive in me just by putting on the mask…. “

Marsha stood quietly listening to the excited buzz.  She could find no words for her experience. It had been deep, no doubt about that, but…..

 

Molly brought a plate of salmon, scalloped potatoes and a big piece of chocolate cake to Ursula who sat quietly in the corner, the Bear mask by her side, looking rather dazed at the noise and chatter around her. “Here’s some food to bring you back. First drink this glass of water. It was the biggest glass I could find.” Not getting more than a glance from Ursula, Molly remembered another tact to take. “What’s your name?”

“Umm…. Ursa…. Ursula…. Ursula Goodwin-Brown.” Ursula’s voice got stronger.

“Good. What color are the candles on your dining room table?”

Ursula laughed. “Red! Thanks for remembering to ask me those questions.”

“You’re welcome. I suddenly thought of the time I got interrupted by a sequence snafu when I was deep in process being Gaia at our ceremonial weekend out by the River that time. I was so feeling her pain and anguish about the clearcuts, it was at least twenty-four hours before I could shake off the daze you were just exhibiting. Everyone had to do a whole ‘nother cleansing ceremony just for me. We figured out some important techniques after that, didn’t we? Don’t forget to mention them to your class when you go back over all this.”

“Salmon for the Bear part of me,” Ursula said gratefully, reaching finally for the plate of food and then feeling the protein hit her system. “Potatoes and cheese for my humanness. Chocolate,” she said as she gobbled it, “for celebration. They did a good job didn’t they?”

“I’ll say!”

“Look at them over there chattering away. I should go be social – talk to them.”

“Not quite yet. You’re still a little in that other world. Let me rub your feet.”

After a bit, Ursula gave a deep sigh. “I think I’m back in my own body now. Enough at least to carry on.”

“Okay,” Molly agreed, “I think you’re good to go. Onward into the fray!”  Molly didn’t realize how prophetic she was being.

 

“Guess we got our go-ahead,” said Jazz to Gideon Terranova standing by the sparkling Christmas Tree circled by the potluck of gifts waiting to be picked through and claimed. They had put two Tantra tapes in the pile and wondered who would gravitate to them.

 

“Charley, we need to talk,” said Michael. “I gotta get some perspective on all this.  Not right now, but…”

“Anytime, Mr. Di’Angeli. Anytime.”

 

“Ariel! It’s so good to have you here.” Pia moved emphatically, her long green skirt swishing. “What a powerful message. Come talk with Owen about what you both were getting.”

“I hope I didn’t… upset… anything.”

“On the contrary,” said Molly who had also made a beeline for her once Ursula was back on her feet. “I think you may have livened things up considerably. It goes hand in hand with what we’ve been getting all fall. We need to be stepping it up somehow. We just can’t quite get a handle on how or what we’re supposed to do. Let’s get some food and go sit with Owen.”

“Things can be pretty touchy with Native Americans in general and specifically those few who relate to this area. We’re always hesitant to step on any toes,” cautioned Molly.

“And as anyone who has worked with Traditionals can tell you, they can be offended if we seem to be taking over in any way or stealing from their practices.” Pia was emphatic. “We’ve stolen so much else that is theirs as it is.”

“Not all Indians feel so protective,” said Owen.

“You’d think they would like us to be more in tune with the land and its beings – like we’re finally finding ‘religion,’” ventured Ariel.

“I wouldn’t presume to do a Sun Dance outside of the existing native peoples’ contexts, but all shamanic traditions use smudging of some sort,” Cindy spoke up. “My own Celtic and Germanic traditions call the directions, as do the Andeans. The word ‘shaman’ is actually a Siberian word… And then there are Michael Harner’s teachings about what shamanic traditions have in common, what he calls ‘core shamanism.’ I feel so clearly that this is a time for integration of the many variations of the themes. That the New Age is not about hanging on to old turfs.”

“It’s kind of like the question of how we treat scotch broom, holly and ivy, and other so-called invasive plants. Not even foxglove is native,” Owen chimed in. “Do we uproot them – and each other – out of here? Don’t we all have something to give to the NOW?”

“That’s right. We are hardly native to this place!”

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown….” Ariel sang a line of the Christmas carol. “It’s always confused me that those two plants are traditionally sacred to the pagans in the British Isles – especially during Yule.”

“Nitrogenous Scotch broom, like alder, gives health, i.e. nitrogen, to the soil. Do we give health – fertilizer – to this place or do we just detract from it?”

“Yes and no, of course. We’ve definitely taken over the ecosystem.”

“I’d say we are a mixed blessing.”

“Like stone soup.”

“Yet we haven’t had much luck connecting with those who used to live here – those people who used to be on our River and Mountain.”

“And we have to be extremely sensitive….”

“But Pia, aren’t you planning to put together a ceremony honoring the salmon?” asked Jay.

“Who told you that?” Pia responded sharply.

Taken aback, Jay stammered a bit. Had he done something as wrong as Pia’s tone implied? “Uh, Mom mentioned it in class.”

“Fuck!” Pia exploded. “Can’t I tell her anything without her blabbing it all over?” Pia turned and stalked away.

A stunned silence came over the group left at the table.

“Uh oh,” said Owen.

“Should I not have mentioned it?” moaned Jay. “I didn’t know it was an issue. Mom just said….”

“Of course, dear. Guess you didn’t know this was a sensitive subject,” Molly reassured Jay. “Pia has a thing about stepping on the Native people’s toes. Ursula tends towards pushing the melting pot concept a bit more. Plus they often have different boundaries about what to speak out about on any given subject.”

“I forgot that Pia and Ursula have a history of misunderstandings like this,” said Jay.

“They’ll work it out. At least they always have before….” Owen sighed.

“You mean, we’ll help them work it out!” said Molly.

“Well, yes. I guess I do.”

 

“Ursula!” Pia went straight to the person she considered the culprit in this affair to speak her mind, barging into a cluster continuing to process the details of the evening’s ceremony. “What the hell do you think you’re doing telling people about my Salmon ceremony idea?!”

Ursula remembered to take a deep breath before she turned towards Pia. “I did not realize that you were keeping that quiet. I know you are concerned about stepping on Native people’s toes. But I will thank you not to make a loud issue about it in such a sacred time and place, especially when I’m just coming out of anchoring.”

“I told you that in strict confidence. I DO NOT feel ready to have it be public information and I’ll thank you not to spread the word prematurely. I’m still working it out for myself. You are always rushing in to SHARE. Like you need to be in on it all. To be the first to announce things. Sorry, students,” she said the word sarcastically, “but your teacher is kind of a know-it-all sometimes.”

“Pia,” Ursula said warningly.

“You knew damn well I wanted to wait until we had some sort of sanction from existing tribal peoples and that it would take time to find them and….”

“I’m very sorry I’ve upset you but I assumed that networking the idea was a valid way to make the connections to find such people who could give us some sort of license. Not that I think we need license, by the way.”

“I know you don’t and that bugs me too. You just want to step in there and co-opt all the old ways and…”

“I’m truly sorry, Pia. I did not get it that this was not to be shared yet. It’s such a wonderful story of how you got the guidance. In fact, it does seem like we got a kind of a go-ahead tonight. That should make you feel better.”

“That’s still up for discussion. I don’t think it’s all that clear…. I think we should be carefully considering…. And anyway it certainly isn’t a matter for common gossip.”  She spit out the word.

“I know you and I have different senses of where the line is on gossip and networking. And that I tend to have a looser definition than you do. You know it’s my belief we get further when things are shared. And I don’t see how we can be a psychically connected ‘tribe’ if we keep secrets from each other.”

“Tribe! Goddamn it, Ursula. Even using that word is stealing from the native peoples. We don’t have a clue what tribe means – we’re just wannabes! Wannabe Indians and wannabe medicine people.”

“Isn’t that what bugs you, Pia? You have this leading and you want to follow it. Gaia spoke to you, for heavens’ sake. But you’re afraid of not being genuine enough. Nobody owns all this stuff. We all have it in our background in one way or another – past life or ancestrally. We need to re-member it. We need to own it.  And practice it. If we don’t talk about it how are we going to make any progress and learn from each other?”

“You told what wasn’t yours to tell.”

“I’m truly sorry about that. I didn’t realize. My memory isn’t what it used to be. I’m not always sure anymore where and when and with whom it’s ok to share what. It’s gotten to be too much to track. I didn’t think this was such a personal thing…. I don’t remember you specifically saying not to mention it. Really I’m sorry.”

“Humph!” muttered Pia as she stormed off.

“Oh damn!” Ursula spoke shakily into the circle of open mouths around her. “That’s not what I want to be dealing with right now. As you can see, it’s not all sweetness and light in River City. Misunderstandings. Miscommunications. Different perspectives. We’re not immune, obviously, to conflict despite all our high talk sometimes. We’re definitely a work in progress… Stay tuned.”

 

 

 

Pia & Raven at the Kitchen Table

Pia and Raven sat around the little round table in their kitchen, the remains of a good meal and a good story in front of them. Their black mutt Yew was curled up at their feet. Raven sat as he often did with his chair kicked back on two legs. To Pia it always seemed that he was balanced too precariously, yet over the years, she’d learned that nothing short of an earthquake could tip him over.

“So you had a powerful magical encounter this morning and it confirmed the feelings you were getting that we’re not meant to take on that eco-tourist business,” summarized Raven, picking kale strands out of his teeth.

“Do you mind? It’s not that the business isn’t meant to happen or that our thinking will go to waste….”

“We’re just not meant to be the ones getting the fruits of that planning.”

“Yes,” she agreed wryly. “As usual….”

“And we have to find the people who will take it on. Plus you have to discover what it is that you are meant to be doing. Okay. That’s cool. I can live with it. Can’t argue with the Voice of Gaia.”

“Thank you for being so understanding.”

“Did you think I would be anything else? You’ve put up with plenty of my scatter-brained schemes and about faces in the middle of the road.”

“I knew you’d understand. We’ve never followed the usual routes before. I didn’t think you would mind this time either…. still….”

“Where will you start since the Voice didn’t hand you a playbook?”

“I’ve been thinking about that all afternoon, of course. I could talk to the Conservancy Trust crew. Rumor is they’ve gotten purchase options on some special land along the estuary.”

“Really? Where? You didn’t tell me?”

“I was told in confidence. I can keep secrets when I need to, unlike some people I could mention.”

“Humph,” said Raven pretending to be surprised and offended at the same time.

“Anyway, they’re about to launch a capital campaign and are hiring someone to run that campaign.”

“Do you think you have the energy for that work just now?”

“My question exactly. Yet it feels like a practical step to take on behalf of the River. The money side has always fascinated me. I have the contacts from the fundraising we did to get the Housing Trust and Elk Ridge going. This will be easier. Certainly less to explain. Preserving estuary lands is as conventional as motherhood and apple pie these days and Owen says our Bay is high on the state and federal lists because a large percentage remains undeveloped.”

“You just expressed an energy drain around doing that sort of work. As worthy as it sounds, it will take over. I’m not sure it’s the side of your brain you should be working from.”

“Am I being too noble again?” she asked plaintively, a side of her that few people ever saw.

He cocked an eyebrow at her.

“Okay, maybe I should follow up on the hospice caretaking for the money side…. That’s still noble, isn’t it?” She smiled ruefully. “But working with the dying is hands-on and direct so it uses a totally different energy. It’s almost like it turns me on…. At the same time I’m going to figure out – or more likely be open to guidance about – a ceremonial way to honor the Salmon and the River that includes the native peoples. Perhaps a festival at salmon return. Plus something else to keep them in the forefront of our minds during the year.”

“You know the whole thing smacks of your Pisces Rising. You’ve been wondering what that means. You’ll be conjuring on behalf of the fish and the river. Learning the watery side of yourself.”

“Oh, Raven,” she breathed. “Why didn’t I think of that? My magical fish self that I am here to learn about. Yee gods and little fishes. You’d think I could’ve figured that out. Guess we can’t always see what is right in front of our noses. Good thing we have each other…. and our community.…”

“Awk!” said Raven, putting his chair back on four legs and pushing away from the table. “I’ll do the dishes.” He reached into the cool box to put away the yogurt. The cool box was a cupboard he’d built it into the house because he hadn’t wanted the noise of a refrigerator thrumming. It was insulated to the inside and open at the top to vent out naturally rising heat. He and Lindsay-the-Architect had worked hard to see how close to zero energy use the houses in Elk Ridge could be.

“So we need to manifest someone for the aforesaid eco-tourist business,” mused Raven.

“Is it enough just to think it or should we get a conjure crew together?” asked Pia.

“Let’s see how it unfolds for the moment. I don’t have time or energy right now….” replied Raven, his hands in the dishpan. “…. Actually I have something else I was going to bring up tonight that’s been nagging at me again. The Trickster has been nipping my butt – Spirit Raven or Coyote. Uranus coming on strong, as you would say.”

“Fire away,” said his partner, beginning to fiddle with the saltshaker. What other agonies was this day going to hold?

“Ummm…. well…. it’s sorta about fire.” Raven took a deep breath and turned around drying his hands on the raggedy pink dishtowel. “It’s about our sex life. We’ve been avoiding the issue for a while – giving it a rest so to speak but I don’t think ignoring it is doing us any good.”

“It’s not like you’ve made yourself available when I’ve made overtures,” retorted Pia sharply. “During the holidays when I put on the sexy negligee my sister sent me….”

“You know I can’t stand to have someone come on to me. It’s all too reminiscent….”

“So what the hell am I supposed to do? You think I’m seducing you if I try to lure you into bed. Which I am, of course, but…. How else are we supposed to get there? It’s such a fuckin’ double bind.”

“So to speak.”

“Ha ha.” There was sarcasm and bitterness in her voice. “I feel hypocritical about how non-existent our sex life is. Everyone thinks I am so voluptuous and out there. You have that rep too, Mr. Flamboyance. You have to admit we consciously play that up. I know I slept around a lot in the old days. I don’t even know who Arlo’s father is…. Besides someone at one of those wild parties during the demonstrations that spring…. A black man….”

“Presumably,” he said equally sarcastically. “I still don’t get it why you aren’t into making love when I do show interest. It’s like you are taking revenge on me for those other times.” Raven eyed Pia fiercely and she glowered back.

“Maybe I am. But not on purpose.”

“Goddammit, Pia, we’ve been over and over this. You know in detail, ad nauseam, how I was abused as a kid and find it hard to let go into physical intimacy. It’s not like you don’t have your own issues. I hate the way we’ve been sniping at each other constantly, while pretending there’s not anger there but….”

“I’m not saying we don’t have issues,” interjected Pia, skipping over the sniping part. “But when I’m feeling horny and want you to know it, you go deep into a book or project and I can’t pry you out of it.”

“When I’m turned on you can’t seem to find the spark. It’s like one of us always has to be unavailable. You seem to choose the times I’m otherwise absorbed to approach me. Like you know it’s safe because I won’t want to respond….”

“It ain’t news anymore that we both have wounded places that are shut down,” she interrupted again. “Our counseling work showed how perfectly matched we are, you and I, to keep each other at a subtle distance. Not to mention the beginnings of menopause which is obviously slowing me and my juices down. Yet, I know there is something deeper to be had between us. I so couldn’t bear it when it seemed like we were only rubbing body parts without really connecting. Yada yada….”

There was a pause while each thought back to the awful days when they were first wrestling openly with all this, not knowing what was at the root of their problems, each so resentful of the other. Anger. Spite. Confusion. Self-sabotage. And yes, even a little subtle revenge had crept in. It had taken a lot of June’s sand tray therapy and some journeying with Owen’s teacher in the city to achieve a sense of equilibrium about it. Now, despite the fact that the conversation was taking place while the sun was in Libra, it seemed balance had become a stale state as well. What could shake them up again? What magic could get their blood flowing? Resignation was a safe place to be but hardly the most creative, and not what their personas seemed to be “advertising” and presumably asking for.

Pia broke the silence. “I agree that leaving it alone isn’t getting us anywhere either. Will starting the Ecstatic Spirit Dance will light some sparks in us? I like your poster, by the way.”

“Dance certainly is body centered so I’m kinda hoping it will shift the energy, but who knows. Your belly dancing phase opened up some tight places in you but that was at a point when I was particularly shut down after all those revelations about priests and Boy Scout leaders. Hit a little too close to home they did.”

“Should we go talk to June again?”

“We’ve had therapies up the wazoo. Somehow I’m not sure anything new will come out of that….”

“I know what you mean. Maybe this is another of those things we need to let season some more.”

“Sigh. I brought it up cause I want you to know I’m conscious of it and want to move forward in some way. I’m wondering if it might help if we could start talking about it in Medicine Circles,” suggested Raven.

“You’ve said that before and I suppose we should but I can’t quite bring myself to. Too scary. Hypocrisy again.” Pia began to cry.

“Aw, honey. No need to go there. Our hormones ain’t ragin’ and we have so much in every other area….” He reached out for her and their two tall figures blended into a hug, though each was still awkwardly stiff, not knowing where to take this moment of intimacy. They knew they had ancient karma to work through that they’d explored some over the years of their relationship, but obviously at this point the impasse seemed insurmountable. Although the destructive nit-picky snarling at each other had been on the rise again of late, at least the subterranean anger blew through faster….

“I do think that others may be having more trouble than we think,” continued Raven, “If we could open up the subject with our nearest and dearest, we might all gain something….”

“Not yet, Raven. Please not yet. Maybe something else will arise….”

“Like my cock?” He chuckled. “That would be a breakthrough. And it would be lovely to have you juicy again. I had to bring up the subject, though. I know it’s really hard for you to talk about so I appreciate the effort that took.”

“Thank you, I guess, though I’m still feeling pretty grumpy about it. What a day. All my shit seems to be up. I should go check what Uranus and Chiron are up to.”

“Maybe your fishy river thing will bring on some flow.”

“It might. I know it strikes a deep chord in me, why not in the sexual arena as well as the spiritual.”

“We could go snuggle with a movie.”

“A sexy one?”

“Why not? Might as well have a vicarious thrill. But let’s take the pup out and wish on a star first.”

Yew pricked up her ears. It was good her humans were airing that sex business again. However stale the issue she hated it when their tension about it was on the rise. Why they couldn’t just tumble into bed was still a mystery to her. She sighed as she clambered to her feet.

The three of them went out together into the night.

Pia’s Morning 2

The Bay was peaceful, a slight drizzle making lovely little splashes on the water. The hills across the way were fogged in, hiding the crest above with the craggy tree they climbed to sometimes for ceremony. The tide was coming in, so the river was flowing backwards, the salt sweeping the fresh water upstream as it did twice every day. What a potent dynamic. She wasn’t exactly sure how far up its influence was felt, but she knew it flowed back and forth in front of the land upriver where they hung out in the summer and even further up, one was wise to take the tides into account when kayaking.

She took a deep breath of the all the watery influence, the clean rain and salty ocean mixing with the tang of the mud flats. The ocean’s sound was faint today on the other side of the dunes, though the buoy at the mouth clanged every few minutes. Waterfowl twittered out where the tide flowed.

The River. For a moment she could feel its current through her body like the flow and saltiness of her own monthly blood. She could also touch into the river of her growing up years in Michigan, as well as the river by her college campus and even the storied rivers of the earth…. the Tigris and Euphrates, the Amazon, the Mississippi, the Nile…. Arteries of the earth. Lifeblood of the Mother.

She pulled up the hood of her sweatshirt and, leaving her tennies by a log, walked along the shore. Acclimated. Attuned. A little ways north she turned to head across the inter-tidal area towards the edge of the woods. Not much of it flooded daily this time of year, but it still had a boggy quality to it. It was do-able in bare feet but she had to pick her way carefully to avoid the slightly prickly stems of silver weed and grasses, as well as a few broken bottles and other detritus of the summer visitor season. Picking the latter up and putting them into the plastic bag she carried in her backpack, she splashed through little pools, enjoying the squishy places, and climbed over silvered logs that had drifted ashore last winter and would no doubt be moved about in the return of the stormy season. Many of the logs had been journeying hither and yon in the same vicinity for years.

The shrine was tucked into the clutter of logs, salal, Nootka rose and huckleberry at the edge of the marshy area. To get in she had to duck under a low hanging branch, but other than that the way was clear. It would be a different story come spring. By April the logs would be scattered like matchsticks against the rise of the bank, a new configuration every year. Either Raven or Owen came out before the annual Mother’s Day re-dedication ceremony to make an opening again. Some years the way in was cleared from the north end and some years from the south, depending on what was moveable or could be climbed under.

The sand was still dry in the tiny clearing, the large overhanging Sitka sheltering it from the slight precipitation. She called a quiet welcome to the space, and kneeling, swept aside a million tiny crystals with her hand. There was the stone. Flat granite from the Mountain, carried here 15 years ago by her tribe. The Fibonacci spiral at its center seemed to wink up at her and as always her finger was drawn to trace its double curves. She poured a few drops from her water bottle as a libation and then settled, legs crossed, to breathe in the stillness of the place.

Well, almost still. A jay squawked insistently from overhead and a squirrel chittered, both announcing her presence to the woods further inland. It was quiet again for a moment and then a heron honked a greeting as it passed by out on the water. Was it the same who had sent her this way?

She certainly felt she was in the right place. The angst of her morning had been left behind. The River flowing by had put things back in perspective. She was prepared now to listen to its song. How wonderful if it had a message for her….

She thought of the native peoples of the place who had summered in this area. Perhaps camped in this very spot as they clammed and fished, enjoying the bounty of the season before the higher tides and wild winds of winter chased them upstream and inland to their more permanent long house villages. She loved to think of them squiggling their feet in the sand as she and the children of her time did around a campfire under the summer stars.

Another loud squawk reminded Pia of the year a crow kept noisily complaining to the small group present for the dedication. It had swooped in and out every few minutes and scolded them roundly each time. Towards the end of their communion someone had looked up and there above them was the half eaten carcass of a salmon dangling precariously from a branch no more than ten feet over their heads. It could have been disgusting. It could have fallen on their heads. Instead it made Pia feel they were an intimate part of the sacred round of eater and eaten and as such it was like a blessing. No wonder the poor crow had been so upset, its feast interrupted and, as far as the bird knew, in danger of being stolen by these larger intruding five fingered ones. They had apologized and, their ceremony over, had left soon after.

The memory of the fish now had Pia thinking of the salmon and the meager flow of them compared to the time of the Old Ones. A university student passing through a few years ago had spoken of his work for the return of the Columbian Condor, sighted by Lewis and Clark not far north of here and last seen towards the end of the 1800’s. A worthy endeavor, certainly. But as a local wildlife aficionado had pointed out later to Pia, the condor depended on huge numbers of salmon and the area was no longer rich enough in this resource to support that piece of the cycle. The salmon were still giving of their largesse, but the wiles of the white “civilized” branch of humankind had brought them dangerously close to extinction and ruined much of their healthy habitat. The hatchery fish were no match and lacked the nutrients and hardiness of the native ones.

Salmon. That amazing magical fish, creature of both River and Ocean. Spawned up towards the headwaters of every tributary, even the tiniest, they swam out to the ocean and then years later, made their way back to the very spot from which they had come. Such a dance of instinct and mystery. They were honored by the native peoples, the first fish of the season celebrated and every fish thanked. No one could imagine then that they could ever become so few.

Pia lowered her head as tears of sadness, then frustration, then of rage swelled and broke over her. Her own salt mixed with the salt of the sand, her own water spilled to mix with the water of the River. The Salmon. How had her people come to be so out of touch as to perpetrate and allow such damage?

Now is the time to make it right.”

Pia’s head snapped up. She looked around for the source of the voice but knew she was alone. “You are one who can change the story,” the voice came again. Images of the Native peoples flashed again in her head – the campfires, the laughter, the storytelling. Fish drying on sticks or passed around on cedar planks. Savored. Cherished. The story of Salmon Boy told again and again so the children could learn of nature’s cycles and the right ways to hunt and to honor the creatures that gifted themselves for the People’s sustenance.

You live in Nekelew – place of the Salmon. You must honor us here. You must restore the balance. Tell your people. Do not let another year go by or we will all be gone. We want to flow again. We can even thrive again. But you must fulfill your mission.” The voice was thundering now like the River itself at full flood over the falls upstream. “It was for this that you were born. It was for this that you made your way to this place.”

“Who are you?” asked Pia.

I am River. Mountain. Sea. Marsh. Field. Salmon. I am Gaia.”

Pia was on her knees now, hands clasped at her heart. “I honor you. I serve you.”

I know that, Daughter. You dedicated yourself to me and serve me and your people well. I ask you now to dedicate yourself to the part of me that is this River and its people, the Salmon. Kelew. And this place of Salmon. Ne-kelew.”

“What is it that I am to do?”

Pia waited quietly for an answer to her query but the potent energy had left the tiny clearing. Tears ran down her face at the chance to have had even that much contact. Part of her was non-plussed at not having a specific assignment but she knew enough about voices and oracles to know that she had been blessed with more clarity than most. She had only to state her willingness. The rest would unfold.

Still kneeling, she dug in her pack for her Swiss Army knife – the athame, ceremonial dagger, of her Wiccan influence. She cut a tiny slit in her middle finger and as a drop of blood welled, touched it to the center of the spiral on the Shrine rock. “I honor this place, Ne-kelew. And I honor the Kelew itself and the River of its flow. I open myself to guidance as to what I am to do.”

“No wonder I have been at loose ends lately,” she thought as, protecting her cut finger, she gently and lovingly pushed the sand back to cover the shrine rock allowing for its discovery by those who were meant to find it.

When she crawled back out, she realized the sun had appeared while she was under the sheltering Sitka. She blinked at its brightness and peeled off her sweatshirt, gasping a little when she realized the connection of its Nekelew High School message – Arlo’s alma mater. Yet another sign. It was a thoughtful walk back across to the beach. Everything was sparkling now rather than the silvery grey of her earlier trek. Both states were beautiful, but her heart was lighter now and her step inspired rather than driven. The time was 1:11.