Day 4, Wake up Call

algonquin 2014 058The morning began with a song.

Wolves were howling very near to our campsite. I’d not heard them so closely before, hadn’t realized how musical their call could be, like a human mother calling her child in for dinner, ‘Johnny, dinner!’ , or a child announcing his arrival after school, ‘Mom, I’m home!’. Their particular announcement came as wake up call, a musical, ‘Vicki, it’s time to wake up’ as I was stirring the grounds into the coffee. The others were still in their tents, though I’d heard them stirring too. The melody of the wolves caused all of our stirring to still….

I dreamt last evening of wounded animals.

A moose with a full rack was swimming across the river in front of our campsite, completely submerged. He stayed under so long, I wondered how he could hold his breath ! When he finally emerged I could see that he was wounded, his antlers amputated… much like those elephants whose tusks are removed for profit… and his head was boxed inside a wooden crate.

I followed him to a veterinary hospital, which was in a state of disrepair, where there were many other wounded and dismembered animals,  a dolphin with half a jaw, a raccoon without a tail. I stealthily explored the clinic, which seemed to be deserted by human beings, eventually riding a one-way elevator to a second floor. There was no return trip down. When I awoke I was crawling through the rafters, spying, but also seeking some way to get down.

I expect this dream is important. At first, it made me think of the wounded animal dreams I used to have, how I’d learned to understand them as expressing my wounded instinctual nature, ala Women Who Run with the Wolves (book by author Clarissa Pinkola Estes written to women who are cut off from their intuitive nature, which posits that within every woman there exists an endangered species, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is the Wild Woman, who represents the instinctual nature of women)

Last night, after having been chased into the tent so early by the heavy rains, I’d opened the Wild Mind book to the exercise on deep imagery and imaginal animals. As I was getting sleepy I called out for a Spirit Animal of the North (the Nurturing Generative aspect of my Adult Self) to appear to me, but too soon fell into sleep. I slept fitfully, in and out of awareness, waking several times early on in the evening, regretting that I had failed to stay awake to wait for the animal come. I re-called for it several times as I drifted.

So, whether to consider this a dream or the more active imagination of deep imagery, I cannot say. Either way, I can receive it as a message, from the hidden depths of my own psyche/soul, brought forth for healing and wholing. I am reminded not to interpret this dream/image as I ordinarily might do….looking up its meaning in a dream dictionary or in totem descriptions…. rather to interact with it, to relate to it, to let it communicate directly to me. I am invited to ask the moose why it has come, to ask it what it has come to tell me, but also to ask if there is something that I can do for it, anything to help it in its world,

How is this magnificent Moose, so long underwater, but finally emerging, seeking my help? Certainly this resonates with the feeling  I have had that something in me has been trying to reemerge from where she had been pushed/preserved underwater so many years ago. There has been a sense in me that I made a soul contract with her that I would return for her when the children were grown.

I wonder why the antlers were so magnificent when he was submerged and then became severed when the moose surfaced. What do his antler’s represent in me? What is there in me that feels so intact ‘under water, but feels artificial/wooden/handicapped in some way when I draw her up? Whatever it is, clearly the moose has led me to the place of healing (the clinic), which seems to have been deserted. Have I have deserted the work of healing  (this would fit my experience over the last few years) and he was leading me back to this needful place?

It is suggested that I continue the encounter until it feels complete. I expect I will be speaking with him for some time on this trip and beyond. ….

We have seen so much sign of moose on this trip, copious droppings everywhere, fresh tracks in the mud and the muck of portage trails, we even heard one braying in the brush near the Tim river trail, but no sightings. It’s as if the moose are so near, all around us somehow, letting us know of their presence but not letting themselves be seen… not yet.  I’d hoped perhaps I might have seen one this morning in the swampy area across the narrow river from camp, which seemed like prime moose habitat to me, but what do I know?

Do I know anything?

After a breakfast of seven-grain cereal, we broke camp and meandered our way down the serpentine Tim River. Only one small log to traverse today, which we were able to sidle across with a shimmy. The portage trail came sooner than expected, given yesterday’s experience, and at first it seemed a breeze until, around a bend, it took an abrupt  and washed-out uphill turn, which proved to be a challenge. Some in our group dropped their packs and others wound up on hands and knees to get up the hill. As I was carrying just the 3 daypacks – one in front, two on my back- on our first trip across, I was feeling more balanced, and made it up more easily than the others, but on my next trip I was thankful for ‘many hands’, as they were needed to feed the canoe up the hill. Some of the boardwalks proved more difficult to maneuver than the bog they were built to avoid. Many were slick; others broken, crooked or loose.

We arrived with all of our gear… except for Don’s fishing rod!… at last at Shah Lake, and, after a lunch of rehydrated roast beef tortillas, mutually we decided to call it a day instead of trying to make it all the way to Timberwolf Lake. Not only to call it a day, in fact, but to call this place home for a day’s R&R.

We paddled across the lake to a promising-looking campsite on a point with more than 180 degree view, where a cold stiff breeze greeted. Inland and sheltered a bit from the wind, we laid out and hung various items to dry… raingear, tent flies, hats, socks and gloves, etc… and I donned almost all of the remaining layers in my pack, seeking warmth.

Then, suddenly, as I sit down to write, Sun!!!  So indescribably exquisite. Finally, after the chill of last evening’s rain, to feel this warmth settling into my bones.

Warmth. Respite. Sun…..

and a moose bawls from the land somewhere to our north.

algonquin 2014 066

It is time to cook dinner.

Addendum:  I have been home more than 2 weeks since this pilgrimage… last evening I revisited this dream, of course, as I was transcribing my journal entry into this format.

I have been reading an unrelated book, a collection of reflections by naturalist and artist, Ellen Meloy, lent to me by my sister. Certain passages have seemed to simply jump off the pages at me, as they tend to do when they strike a familiar yet unknown chord. This, describing pioneer women stuck in the home as bearing the ‘four walled trance’ and, in a later chapter, this ‘here are the names of the women, but none of the spaces that bound them’.

Then, in last night’s reading about the many less-functional, wounded or immature expressions of the North/Nurturing aspect of self — specifically the self-sacrificing version who suppresses her natural exuberances, desires, gifts, and expressions and keeps herself small so that she is less vulnerable to the opinions of others, who puts her own agenda last in order to not displease and focusses on meeting others’ needs in order to not be ostracized, or who enslaves herself to a life of caretaking service from which she derives little fulfillment —  the same chord is struck, ‘it sounds like flattery, but its actually the sound of prison walls being fortified, protecting you from the genuineness of living your real life’

So, perhaps the sex (role) slavery dream and the moose dream are not so unrelated after all.  Both characters are caught, bound, not free to express their authentic magnificence ( and aren’t those antlers simply that!). I have thought that antlers are such a symbol of authentic identity for a moose … clearly what individuates a moose as a moose.

Since I have been back home, I have had the perennial full-term pregnancy dream, the one where I am in early labor, showing up at the clinic. This time, when the doctor suggests medication to stop the labor, I resist, questioning her wisdom, asking her if I am not in fact full term, if the time is not now. In the dream this time, I refuse the pills, trusting my own body’s wisdom.

It is time.

I awoke this morning and called out to the moose from my Adult self.  He stepped through the fog and I asked how I could help him. He gently reminded me that antlers grow back!!!. Of course! Their potential is always there, within or fully expressed.  All that he needs to reinstate his power (empower himself) is to grow a new pair with the blueprint he naturally contains.

This morning, I read that antler growth is “nourished by an extensive system of blood vessels in the skin covering. This requires intense grazing on a highly-nutritious diet.”  

I also asked him if I could help remove the box without hurting him to make space for them to grow. What should I use? I wanted something gentle, something with which I could remove this box, which I so creatively, resourcefully self-erected to keep myself safe all those years ago when I submersed her vitality to hide her from predators and from those who would diminish her strength.

A saw?

Perhaps if he could hold very still…

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