You might know what these are. They are native artifacts, more specifically, pestles. These were chosen for their shape and used in stone mortars to grind things. Each one is from a different property I lived on while walking this practitioning path. One is from Encinal Canyon in the wild north of Malibu (home now to Daryl Hannah), one is from the North Bank of the Wild and Scenic Chetco River in Brookings, on the beautiful Southern Oregon Coast, and the littlest one is from an elk field near the wilder part of the Sandy River, between Portland and Mt. Hood. But how they came into my hands (and hence this photo) is the real story here.
So, I was apprenticing with my shamanic teacher during the Malibu years, knowing little to nothing when I arrived during the wildfires of November, 1993, and rocked by the Northridge earthquake starting off 1994 with an awakening jolt. I was starting over at 40, and during the next 8 years I would grow into my new hoop, new life, and new vocation. I don't remember the exact year the Malibu pestle came to me; probably c. 1999, as I was completing the apprenticeship, in deep relationship with the spirits of the land and the little stone cabin I called home.
Only one room, the cabin had big windows looking out at the live oaks, the creek, the tiger lillies, and the coyotes who would parade down the dirt driveway at night as a family pack. Cougars, bobcats, deer, owls, redtails and hummingbirds were regular colleagues, in ordinary and non-ordinary reality. Sitting on the wraparound stone porch at night after journeywork, a large ceanothus moth came and sat on my hand, furry as a winged deer. Rattlesnakes and scorpions had their own wisdom, but that's another story.
I was journeying one day, on the floor by the window looking east. I don't remember the details. When I finished, I stood and looked out the window. There was the first pestle, lying on the ground. It was a bare gravel/dirt area, cleared and part of the parking area by the cabin. The pestle had clearly not been there before, and could not have dropped from above, nor unearthed itself from below. I received it as a gift with honor, gratitude, and wonder.
Things appearing out of nowhere were becoming more of a thing during the Malibu years, which led me to buy the Brookings farm in 2001. The farmhouse had a workroom with a separate entry, perfect for the full-fledged practice I intended to begin there. Each day as I settled in, I'd go into the workroom and journey to ask, What am I doing here? What do I do today to further the work and why I am here? I received very specific instructions to find places I'd never seen, up river, on the coast, in the redwoods, and would follow up. Clients began to appear, retreat ideas would materialize with help from contemplating Mount Emily across the river from the property, and one thing led to another. That it would lead me to Oxford was unknown then, but that's another story.
That property had a spring that was part of the hillside spring system that provided water shared by several homes around. The little spring in the forest near my pump house was clearly sacred, and I would often go to pay respects and honor it. Springs, you know, are kind of a big deal multiculturally as places of reverence and spirit dwellers. I loved that tiny secluded watery magical spot, one of many wonderful spots on that property, all of which imbued the work with extra potency. The lingering spirits of the native people played a major role in my years there, I would come to find out. Their energy was palpable, and much respected.
So one day, I go to the spring to say hello. There, lying pristinely, on the wet muddy back part of the little spring, was the second pestle. Clean as a whistle. Dry as a bone. Placed on oozy saturated mud; everything around it wet and muddy. No prints or marks anywhere around it. Its similarity to the Malibu pestle was remarkable. I don't quite remember which is which.
The smallest pestle turned up when I returned to doing the work fully in Sandy, after nearly 7 years of academic focus with lessened shamanic practice. Reconnecting fully with the work, the crystals and stones, and the energy of remote and in-person transformative assisting felt revivifying, powerful. While there elk, bear, deer, owl, redtails and geese were frequent cohabitants. I visited the native museum in the Columbia Gorge and felt the presence of spirits in the woods and waterfall areas where they'd been so heinously ousted. I gave them sage offerings, said prayers, wrote poems, and studied the anthropological and geological details of the area.
Rattling and drumming and smudging and using feathers is not about pretending to be Native American, or a ritual that must be enacted to make stuff happen. Core shamanic practice draws from many cultures, respecting all. But as an empath, I feel what's around me, and who's around, and what they feel. The energy in much of Oregon notes the sorry way things went, and it wasn't long ago, less than 200 years.
Anyway, again, one day I finished my work in the workroom and went out to rake Sir's area near the barn. He had a big pasture to graze in and share with the wild herds when they roamed through, and then a dirt area by his water and shelter which I kept cleaned daily. There are no trees there, just bare earth that sprouts camomile and buttercups in summer and gets muddy in winter. There, lying on the bare earth, was the third pestle.
What prompted this post today was this morning's journey work, which led me to open a basket to see what was in it, which was another found stone, another native artifact, used for scraping hides as seen here. Chosen for its initial shape and moulded by the fingers gripping it and the hours of scraping, the human presence is still very much intact. I put it on my heart and journeyed about gifts, tools, work, and things appearing out of nowhere. It's the deft combination, under grace, that allows such transmissions, transformations, and materializations. I am grateful. Hoy ya hey!
The Pacific Northwest has been drenched for several days, during which time I had to drive hundreds of miles through the downpour. I returned home safely, with much change to orchestrate, like the storm. The rain abated for a bit, and there they were. The elk in twilight, appearing as if out of nowhere.
OMG I said to the Stone Giver, who I was talking with on the phone. The elk are here! And, for the first time in the three years I've lived here, the herd of women were accompanied by a majestic buck with a huge antler rack. Although it's really too dark and this photo is zoomed as much as possible, you can just make him out on the left, looking up at me from grazing. He felt me aim the iPhone at him from far away inside the house.
Elk medicine! Just exactly what I needed. Native wisdom on this sacred totem animal speaks of their medicine gifts of strength, endurance, protection. People with Elk medicine don't give up easily. They see a long ways ahead, and go there, even when there is no road, and no visible means. Elk medicine gives the strength to see long projects or plans through, maintaining energy for the long haul. Elk people avoid discouraging energy, and rise above feeling discouraged themselves.
Elk medicine is also about the protection of women, and feminine strength. This venerable old buck is protecting his women, certainly, but they are also protecting him. It's hunting season, and this twelve-pointer is a prize hunters literally kill for.
Elk hang out in groups of men and women. Elk medicine people are very comfortable in such groups; there is no feeling of competition. The vibe is comfortable, friendly, warm, cooperation in community, with a natural ease and grace that allows these huge, heavy animals to move as if they are weightless.
Another aspect of elk medicine is that they show how to live magnificently with duality. Things are and are not as they appear. The invisible is where a lot happens, and contrary to popular belief, creating 'something' out of nothing is an everyday occurrence. The way the elk suddenly appear and disappear in the field reflects that.
Just now five or six young elk ladies have gracefully walked up the field to graze all around Sir, my 33-year-old horse. He loves it when the elk come, but is respectful of males, keeping his distance in a friendly way. He too is deriving strength and community from their presence.
Nobility, stamina, feminine power, balance of male-female energies. Seeing a project through to completion. Watching these ladies and young elk girls flank Sir in the field as Tigs and Tux (the cats) watch through the windows with me, I am filled with calm strength and loving feminine energy. The whole herd is coming up into the field again. The warrior even is coming closer. This is getting interesting. Time to wish you well and take up my binoculars. Peace.