Thursday, November 17, 2011
The Deer Nation
Years ago, I heard that everyone has animal protector spirits, one on the left and one on the right. Testing that hypothesis, I announced to the Universe that I wanted to know what animal spirit was on my right. "Your move, Universe," I thought.
It took the Universe about a year to convince me that the animal spirit on my right was the deer. After I announced my request, I began noticing that each time I drove out of the city, I would see deer on the right side of the road. Of course I dismissed it as coincidence, like any normal red blooded American. As time went on, seeing a deer on the right side of the road, day and night, was such a constant and consistent event that I could have bet money on it. The more I meditated and prayed about this business of an animal protector on my right, the more deer I saw, and the greater my doubt grew. Crazy that the more proof we are granted by the Creator, the more we indulge our doubt.
I went through all of the rationalizations that my society has dutifully taught me: coincidence - looking for deer when I had not been looking for them before - high number of deer in Kansas so of course I will see them everywhere - "magical" thinking - stupid to believe old pan-Indian myths.
One time I had been earnestly praying about this whole spirit business and admitting it was difficult for me to believe. Later that day, on my way to visit a friend in another town, I spotted a doe with triplets at the edge of a field in broad day light. I have never seen triplets before or since. The Universe was patiently answering my prayers but I was stubbornly dense.
In one prayer Lodge I attended, the people were taught to look into the red hot stones, the grandfathers, for messages, for help. While I always dutifully looked into the stones, I did not know what to expect. Would I see a vision, like a hologram? Would an intuitive answer arise in my consciousness? Would I hear something? I did not know, but I continued to take the elder's word and looked to the grandfathers for their help. One time I closed my eyes tightly and prayed hard about the issue of whether there really were protector spirits for people, me in particular. I earnestly prayed to be shown what my right protector spirit might be. When I opened my eyes, the pattern in the glowing red hot stones was the perfect likeness of a deer facing me. It sent a jolt of joyous energy through me, but only for a moment. Anyone can see anything if they are motivated enough, I told myself. Just as my mother had said to me a million times, "It's just your imagination." I dismissed the gift from the grandfathers like I had dismissed the deer that had been showing themselves to me, like the doe who brought her three precious fawns out into the open danger of daylight. What a dolt. Most of us are dolts when it comes to recognizing the blatant answer to our prayers, whatever they may be.
But, I was beginning to believe.
This entire lesson culminated when I received the first energy work of my life, a Reiki session. I became so deeply relaxed that I was able to still my thoughts entirely for the first time. Into that quiet space behind my eyes, I became aware of a mighty buck with a magnificent rack of antlers standing to my right. A dazzling energetic curtain separated the buck from me. It was so startling that my eyes involuntarily opened. I could still see the buck. A current of gratitude washed through me, and I opened and closed my eyes several times to prove to myself that what I was seeing was real. Whether my eyes were open or closed, I could see the deer spirit.
I wasted one of the most momentous events of my spiritual life by failing to acknowledge the spirit of the deer nation when he appeared to me. Yet, what he brought was the knowledge that the Indians know what the hell they are talking about. The thing is, we do not have to be Indians to have spirits visit us, to have our prayers answered - merely human. Our human prayers are heard and answered. The Creator of all knows our hearts.
No, I am not a deer shaman, not a deer whisperer. I cannot magically entice deer to come to my side. (You, "deer" reader, have been watching too many Hollywood movies!) I cannot call on deer to kick someone's ass, someone who pulls out in front of me in traffic, for instance, but that would be cool. Even so, this was a tremendous lesson for me. Our lives are mysterious. The world is more mysterious than even science can say. There are things we no longer understand, things we have forgotten, and things we absolutely no longer value to the detriment of all sentient beings. Thankfully, there are people who have never forgotten, and are willing to share a little of what they know.