Thursday, August 6, 2009

Beyond the Bark

“Every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world's phenomena intersect, only once in this way, and never again.” ~ Herman Hesse

Although I have often affectionately been called a “tree-hugging liberal”, it wasn’t until yesterday that I turned this funny label into reality, at least in part. When a friend arranged for me to meet an old shaman, I had all sorts of images running through my mind, but nothing prepared me for what I found when we finally pulled up in the driveway of White Eagle’s humble home.

We turned off the main road into a heavily wooded patch of land, and reached the property – a small house tucked in a cloud of vibrating green, guarded with love by a cream colored dog named Big Puppy. White Eagle met us inside, and I was stunned at his appearance. As hard as I tried I couldn’t pinpoint his age, but he was much taller than I expected. He was also extremely lean, with long gray hair and a gentle smile, and very soft spoken.

After introductions and a few really interesting exchanges about healing practices, he took us outside and placed each of us in front of a pine tree. He explained that trees are much like humans, and the bark which protects them is similar to our ego. Pine trees, he said, are “wise” trees because they are flexible and their bark is open, allowing them to easily connect with other manifestations of Spirit. He told us to hug the tree, rest our foreheads on the bark, and “enter” into it. Frankly, as a strong storm quickly approached, entering the tree was the last thing on my mind, and the only “vision” I entertained was a not-so-pleasant image of myself struck by lightning while I tried to merge with the pine – definitely not a thought conducive to a higher consciousness.

When we walked back inside, he gently asked if I had been successful entering the tree, to which I could only honestly reply that I hadn’t. White Eagle didn’t get upset about it; with the same impassive expression he walked outside and came back with a leaf. He told me I should hold it over my third eye without thinking, allowing the leaf to show me two images that he had put into it; while I did that, he scribbled something on a piece of paper and placed it beside me. As soon as I cleared my mind, two animal images indeed popped in my mind – a deer and a bear. A little surprised by the vision, I almost hesitated, but then gathered the courage and said out loud what I saw. White Eagle smiled and nodded in the direction of the folded piece of paper resting by my side. I opened it up and read the two words over and over, my rational mind grasping for straws…the two words were deer and bear.

I am sure I must have looked as surprised as the children watching Mary Poppins slide up the banister, because White Eagle smiled and told me that if I can enter inside a leaf I should be able to do the same with a pine tree – the difference is only made by my own resistance to believe I can. The day progressed with many more surprises that one post cannot cover, but I certainly left White Eagle’s home with one confirmation: we are all part of one consciousness, if we can only work past the bark that separates us all.

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