Some days you just need a Medicine Walk. A Medicine Walk is the more feminine form of a Vision Quest, a pilgrimage that is usually in nature, and quiets the inner busy bee so one may be present to the signs and messages from the Spirit world. I am a happy human-doer, so even though it is my work to follow intuitive impulses, I even need reminders to chill out and LISTEN. Quite recently an idea that has been marinating for a couple of years has reared its head, and this wild stallion wants to run! When a strong inspiration comes through me, my little body literally shakes with the potential. This one will fulfill a dream of many years, and take one of my passion projects out into the world at a whole new level, so I am pretty excited. And there is the process of riding that wild horse energy. Sometimes I can not sleep, I wake up in the middle of the night to work on it, and I get all shaky and funny from the vibrational attunement of the idea coming into me. Because my life operates from a place of co-creation with the Muses, part of my honor code is to show up and listen to my collaborators input. As I pulled cards and made altars to the new project, it was clear it was not ready to be birthed into the larger sphere. Everyday for about a week I have pulled cards, and they have been clear not to move forward beyond the research phase. Then I got the Vision Quest card from the Vision Quest Tarot, and it was a blazingly sunny day that I just had to go be in, so I decided to climb back up that rock pile and ask for some porcupine quills from the little friend the dogs had found a few days before.
Porcupines. I have only seen one other dead one on a roadside in New Mexico some years ago, and I have always regretted not asking for some quills. So last week the dogs and I climbed up the mesa behind my home and they found a dead porcupine out on the tundra. I was initially really intimidated by her claws, and was even afraid she was not dead and was playing possum. I did not ask to take any quills then because I was scared of her power and fierceness.
Heading back up the steep rock scree still covered in snow, I looked at the task as how to approach the more challenging aspects of creation; stay present, be conscious of where you plant your weight, and keep going even when it seems daunting. I had many guardians already with me, two ravens and a red tailed hawk right over head. When I reached the plateau I tried to remember the markers I had set for myself to find her again, and wandered around eating snow to stay hydrated. Just when I had given up and was resigning myself to not finding her again, there she was. She was covered in fresh snow, and looked so beautiful.
I took some photos, and then asked her if it was in alignment for me to take some quills. I got a yes, and gently turned her over. Her tail was like a brittle brush, and her claws were still amazing, but it was really clear she was dead. No possum jumping to life here. As I began harvesting the quills a gently she-rain sprinkled on me, and I saw a Technicolor sun- bow up in the sky. I methodically, and carefully pulled many quills, totally engrossed in my task. Leaving her I headed back up over the ridge. Above my home is a large nature reserve, and there are tall fences to keep the elk in certain territories.
As I reached a plateau on the road, busy thinking about my project and international shipping rates, clearly not in the present moment, I heard a sound. I looked over by the stand of pine trees on my right and saw a herd of elk about a block away. (I know, city girl measurements. 600 feet. Over yonder). I was awe struck, I have never been that close to them. I stood stock still, and I will never forget the sound of them dashing away from that close over the rocky terrain. The whole stand of trees was vibrating, and for about 5 minutes I kept hearing this multidimensional rustling in the tall grass that seemed like a pack of cougars stalking me. The sound seemed to be coming from many directions at one time, and was so psychedelic. I have no idea what this was about, but it was primally scary and also exhilarating, probably like being on the African savannah outside of the jeep looking for a pride of lions. Would I be big cat chow today?
I stood in that one location for a long, long time, and as I looked over to the hills in the distance I saw hundred and hundreds of majestic elk gracefully galloping in formation up over the next ridge. They looked like a line of big, golden ants marching in a regimented order. I have seen herds of them up there before, but never this many. They kept coming from many directions, and I eventually saw three huge herds within a half an hours time. I moved up the road a bit and stood in the bright midday sun listening to the sound of distend hoof prints and what I assume were babies baying. As I stood still a coyote crossed the road about 300 feet from me, and the world was vibrant and filled with wonder.
I spent about five hours out there ambling up and down the rocky cliffs. I got to hear a sound I had only heard in my beloved Rainbow Canyon in New Mexico of the frozen earth melting under the sun’s warmth and gurgling forth fresh rivulets of water. This was such a glorious day, a reason to live.
When I got home with my quills and happy spirits I looked up porcupine in Ted Andrews seminal book, Animal Speaks. I assumed porcupine medicine was about quills and barbs and protecting yourself with aggression, and when I read the entry I was astonished. They are actually incredibly gentle, sweet, dopey, and happy beings who just like to amble around and check things out. They are über curios, and can climb 50-60 feet up pine trees. They do not actually “shoot” quills, but will protect their faces if attacked and whip their tail around trying to implant quills in the aggressors body.
Their eyesight is not very good, and the mature ones can stand on their hind legs and wave their paws doing a little dance. When I read all of this I wept, even though I love my projects, I am still learning how to regenerate myself with such a strong work ethic. I can get tired, and burnt out. And porcupines were about a return to wonder and exploration. Exactly what makes my world go round. They are also about the barbs of the quills, and I am also still working on not letting other people’s opinions affects me too much. So I sit in my little mystics cave, enchantedly in love with porcupines and their magic little ways. I do not know why she died, and I have some sadness that she will not be rooting around up there on the mesa for me to meet in person, but I am profoundly grateful for the medicine she has offered me already.I will keep you posted in this new idea burbling up when it is ready to be shared beyond my little cave.