I just need to say that I’m not now, nor have I ever been, a ‘Weather Worker’: individuals, usually shamans, who can communicate and intercede with Weather Beings.
Apparently a solid indicator that one has been called to that line of work is surviving a direct lightning strike. ( Eliot Cowan, PSM )
Last year I was spending a lot of time walking around in woods and fields near where I live, and began experiencing the subtle yet profound sense that everything around me was alive and communicating.
Now I ‘know’ from reading the Science Times that all manner of plants and critters are communicating, negotiating and fighting with each-other and their environment ; through sound and visuals and chemicals, but this felt like something. And connected to it was a feeling of place – a spirit of place – that that particular square mile or so that I was stumbling around in had its own particular resonance.
For much of my adult life I’ve worked outside, and when not doing that, I’d be outdoors taking pictures or painting paintings; so it’s not surprising that I’d be somewhat sensitized to “nature” ( for want of a better word ). But up until last year I may have had more of a ‘duality’ thing going on – me first and foremost looking at ‘nature’ through a frame, seeing pictures, using it for pictures.
Again, what I was sensing in my walks seemed different – maybe I’d just gotten weary of carrying this conceptual frame around in my head - but I’d find myself unselfconsciously talking to plants and birds and ( the occasional ) deer. It didn’t seem ‘loopy’ ; it seemed like the appropriate thing to do.
I always got a big kick out of hearing the first distinctive ‘ Konk-or-eeeee’ of the Red – Wing Blackbirds
arriving back up North in early Spring ( March 1st on the dot in 2014, about three weeks later this year ), and was really enjoying them last year. They’re beautiful ( the males are more striking, like a lot of birds ), they’re territorial as hell – real bad-asses; I’ve seen them literally beat up birds who’ve wandered into their territory – and I love how they just announce their presence.
I was talking about them with a guy I was buying a hand-made ‘stick’ bow from ( the basic bow used by indigenous tribes for thousands of years – more of the ‘Spirit Of Place’ thing. I have to say I never got used to it – I’m too used to my Sage recurve ! ) – anyway, he turned me on to ‘What The Robin Knows’, which is about bird calls and communication. Cool fact: if you’re quietly walking in a field/woods, and you start hearing ‘chit-chit-chit’ sounds from the birds, that means you’re busted ! Not only is that bird calling out a warning to its species - all the other species of birds and even mammals understand the warning, too !
Sometime after that I happened to hear a ‘Sounds True’ podcast of an interview with Eliot Cowan, who practices Plant Spirit Medicine, and was later privileged to take part in a healing, conducted by him, that was part of a teacher training for a new crop ( ha ) of PSM healers.
He underwent a rigorous apprenticeship with a Huichol Indian shaman – he really has his bona fides – and opened The Blue Deer Center near Woodstock, NY.
There’s a great section in his book, Plant Spirit Medicine, where he interviews several indigenous Plant Healers/Shamans. They talk about what they do, and when asked what he does - “ I contact various plant spirits directly in order to heal people” - their reactions are great : “ Oh, that’s good, important work” – they understand it, they’re unsurprised !
Now, I routinely talk to trees and plants. The first thing – among the little I’ve learned about PSM – is to pay attention to what plant or tree you seem drawn to : what is calling your attention? After that, the etiquette is to introduce yourself – by name – gift the plant or tree with a little sprinkle of tobacco around its base, and then request whatever help or healing from it that you think you may need.
The paradox here, according to Cowan, is that where we need healing is often right in our blind spot, so that’s where a qualified PSM healer comes in.
Mostly, when I’m communicating with plants or trees these days, I’m just saying hello, showing respect and expressing gratitude. Some, like Eliot Cowan, will find themselves seeing and speaking directly to a Plant Spirit – his descriptions of some of his communications are pretty entertaining. Maybe you’re one of those who get a strong feeling or image – I’ll get the occasional dream ; I’m mostly content with knowing that I’m at least a little in sync with some basic ancient knowledge, and honoring it through a little bit of ancient ritual.
And, to his credit, he relates his own sense of Western, 20th century skepticism; “Is this real? Am I making this up?” With Mr. Cowan, I do get the feeling that he’s in it more to share, than to sell, which is often super foggy line with psychics or shamans or astrologers.
Speaking of Astrology…
I was a little more sheepish about my attraction to astrology until I heard an astrologer say , ’ asking if I believe in astrology is like asking if one believes in art’ ; it’s a beautiful, complicated, esoteric way to look at all the psychological/enviromental influences, shadings and gradations that make up a person. Starting (natal chart ) with one individual, one moment ( birth ), in one particular place, and connecting from that point to the edge of our solar system and beyond. And birth charts just look beautiful – a wheel that contains our solar system and pinpoints what was happening at our moment of birth. And all the permutations of the different energies the Sun, Moon and eight different planets convey ( not to mention additional minor planets and asteroids ), how they convey those energies ( the twelve different signs ), and what areas or dimensions of a person’s life they tend to display most strongly within( the houses ). And throughout one’s life the transiting planets – moving through different houses and signs –create meaningful aspects to the natal planets.
A good Western astrologer today is less predictive and more psychological – concerned with revealing tendencies and possibilities inherent in a chart. I greatly enjoy listening to Eric Francis’ podcasts – he’s a natural, highly experienced, and entertaining astrologer. One might quibble with him over many minor points, but right up there with conveying deep experience with astrology , he loves what he does and it shows.
To loosely paraphrase Jacques Valee ( his ‘Dimensions’ is a great book ) ; these myths ( of spirits, angels, fairies or ufo’s ) arise from people’s direct experience – over the course of thousands of years – and they shape us, shape what we believe. And if one says they believe or disbelieve them - it’s a flimsy distinction. On some level we all ‘believe’ them. Two sides of the same coin.
I can’t help but think of the part in ‘Catch-22’, where Yossarian is expressing hatred towards God for all the suffering in the world. His friend the nurse is an atheist, like him. But she bursts into tears and pleads, ‘Stop! Stop! – The God I don’t believe in is a just God, a kind God – “.