First up is a story about opening to spiritual gifts. Pull out a cozy blanket, get a cup of hot chocolate, and let’s pretend we’re sharing stories by the campfire!
It is a cop out to say I was born like this. We are all born like this. Few people do not have stories of knowing who a caller was before the phone began to ring, warning dreams of death or accidents of loved ones, or some type of experience with ghosts, angels, or simply something unknown. Not many of us have the chance to realize the fullness or depth of having gifts though. For some, the idea of having gifts will never even cross their conscious mind. I didn’t truly realize this about myself until I was twenty one.
My realization started with a deck of animal totem cards. I had gotten then on a whim. They felt good to my hands and at that time I was very interested in Shamanism. Every few days I would chose a new card and place it in my student id case. This way I could carry my medicine lesson with me and get to know the cards more intimately. I had my favorites, of course. Eagle was strong and sharp eyed. Cougar was crafty and fierce. Owl and crow were messengers.
About halfway through the school year I got stuck with Grouse. I didn’t really like Grouse. I didn’t understand why I needed to hold on to Grouse’s medicine for such a long period of time. I thought I was already following the life lessons of “Find your rhythm, honor the synchronicity, spiral into your potential.” I was in collage after all, studying what I always wanted to study, and taking life as it was coming. I had even been studying and practicing shamanism. It is almost a needless pun to point out, that I was grousing about Grouse’s medicine. In an attempt to get other messages, I would draw until I got something other than Grouse. This continued until I really got stuck with Grouse as the whole deck, but Grouse, vanished from my night stand.
Months passed and a few times I had become so irked at Grouse that I tore through my room looking for the deck. Each time, the deck remained as lost as it was before. The memory of it would stick in my mind, like a word on the tip of your tongue, waiting just beyond reach to be remembered. Even though I huffed and groused that my deck had been lost, there little I could do about replacing it on my collage budget. Grouse stayed tucked into my id case.
When the end of the school year came, I cleaned from my room from top to bottom. I found my deck of animal totem cards on the bottom of my night stand. This was a place I had cleaned more than several times since I had lost the deck. But the deck sat there, as if mocking me, between a few books at the bottom of my nightstand. I had been through those books and even taken them out of the shelf. I groused even more internally through out the day as I finished cleaning and packing for the year.
I treated myself that evening by going down to my friend’s apartment for some tea and some down time. It was a bit of a ritual for us. You may take that as literally as you like, because for me, life is lived by intention and not necessarily bells and whistles. We lit the candles, had a light dinner, and waited for the brew. She and I crashed on the futon couch while we waited and eventually took in our tea. It was an odd night and my friend had other visitors, of which only she could see. After several trips out West and to a reservation in New Mexico, my friend had managed to acquire the friendship of some deceased Native Elders. The Elders had their stereotypical sense of humor and rarely were things actually calm when they felt they had something to share. Nothing about that was odd to me. I had grown up my friend, so I was used to how she worked and what she could do. But that night her friends were usually particularly antagonistic in their teasing.
That night there was a message for me. I never took their messages with grace, they usually brought out the chip on my shoulder. I groused internally as my friend began to laugh while imparting the message. Because she was laughing and her invisible friends were laughing the message didn’t come through in full, but she repeated what she could make out. The message was something about the Grouse card.
I felt completely deflated. Not only had the deck been mocking me and my efforts to understand, now the invisible Native Americans were mocking my grousing. I sat slumped on the couch, annoyed, and explained to my friend about the grouse card I have been carrying around with me for months. I hadn’t told her the whole story of how I lost the deck and had gotten stuck with one card. My friend laughed even harder. She laughed not simply at me, but also at the commentary, that only she could hear. After they all had their laugh at me, it was time to say good night. I still had to make the trip home the next day.
I stood by my friend’s door, collecting my backpack and sweatshirt, when I heard something. Today I can’t tell you what it was, it had been an inconsequential snarfy comment. But I heard it. My friend once again cracked up laughing. The world seemed to stop in that moment, and stood up and looked at her. I asked her pointedly if they had said what I thought they had said. She agreed that was more or less what she heard. But I had heard it. I had heard their words in way that was not foreign to me. I had a similar internal voice most of my life….or at least I thought it was internal to me….
That moment brought my world to threshold I had never before considered. I now had to consider the fact that that voice that reared it’s head every so often was not simply me making stuff up when I got bored. I had to consider that those times when I thought I was zoning out, talking internally with, what I thought was a completely made up character, was not quite as made up as I had thought. This was something so internal to me, I never thought to tell anyone about. I had thought that this was not an uncommon thing, that it was like day dreaming. This process was so innate to me, that I never questioned how or why it was there.
While I am pointing out here how one instant began a realization, an awakening, process for me, the full course of learning what was real took time. It took some experimentation. To my mind, the largest shock was not really that I had been doing this listening all my life. It was that I had never really been alone. I had grown up being adopted, an only child, in between the ages of my cousins, few friends. I had grown up alone and grown up to like my alone times. The shock of the idea that perhaps I was never really ever alone, so to speak, changed my perspective in ways that are very hard to describe. One of the first things I felt I had to figure out was where I ended and other ways of being began. What was my authentic voice? What was fed to me without me realizing?
I don’t know what took me so long to see things as they are. I don’t know what really got me all blocked up from catching the hint that I was more sensitive than I knew. Today, while sometimes I forget, sometimes I get caught in the melodrama of daily life, there comes a point where I get a slap to the back of the head and askance of why I didn’t ask for help sooner. The world comes back into focus, and the patterns and cycles of things give the sight and knowledge I need to tread the deep waters of life and the strength to live my life on my own terms. My path is mine alone, given to me long ago. Laid forth by ancestors and friends. My path, my wheel of life and medicine, is the only thing that can break me, the only thing that can heal me. It is the only thing that is real. This is the medicine lesson of the honorable brother, sometimes trickster, Grouse. Find your rhythm, honor the synchronicity, spiral into your potential.