I'm not sure I just saw an albino dragonfly float directly past me, but I did. I just don't remember ever seeing one before, and I've seen many dragonflies of various colors, shapes, sizes, and wing patterns. Dragonflies are big with me. They've embossed letterhead and business cards for my practice. My house is full of them, in cloth, metal, china, stained glass, beadwork, you name it. People see I have dragonflies and give me more dragonflies.
Clients and friends call me up and say I visited them as a dragonfly, riding around crowded fairs on their baseball caps, or appearing in the desert where there aren't dragonflies because there's no water. As a shapeshifter, it's one of the things I guess I do.
So when dragonfly appears, such as on this beautiful fall afternoon after days of cold hard rain, I take it as a sign. When this white dragonfly appeared and disappeared just now... well, that's some big medicine. Dragonfly medicine. White Dragonfly Medicine. Whew. Let me explain.
Dragonflies are being studied scientifically because of their brains, their eyes, their wings, their having been on the earth for so long. They have powers that astound, and endurance that prevails. And yet they live most of their life under water, without wings, as larvae. Imagine being able to see all around you at the same time, and to instantaneously fly in any direction. They seem to dart in and out of visible reality because they don't have to travel in one direction or turn around. They don't think, 'Oh, wait, what was that over there? Am I going the wrong way?' They simply go, as their inner guidance system directs. I don't imagine they do much second guessing. I bet they don't keep mental lists of what they didn't do, where they didn't go, mistakes, and the like.
As a totem, they remind us that we create our own reality. Repeat after me, 'I create my own reality.' And we might as well get really good at it, and create lives that are fabulously us. This requires some alterations to the stuff that created our neural pathways and early adaptive strategies before we knew that much about what was going down. It's a people thing. Largely subconscious, pretty unavoidable, fairly resistant to change. But, with attention, intention, and practice, possible.
And boy howdy, that's exactly what I'm doing. And, if you're like me (and I know I am), sometimes during the process of creating a new chapter from scratch there are moments of such uncertainty it can seem impossible. And then dragonfly pops up, nonchalant, easygoing, just cruisin' on by, saying hey. You got this. I'm impossible, friend, but here I am.
Dragonfly has been a special power animal teacher since an orange and blue one came up to me by a wild river and gave me one of my early songs, when I was seventeen. But I've never seen an all white one until just now. In this present moment, I am doing some personal work akin to surgery, removing old blocks, burdens, and bindings that are acting like sea anchors. It's time to rise out of the water, grow wings and fly in any direction, and act natural. Okay! Let's do this.
Are you in transformation mode? Are you re-inventing yourself, changing old mental patterns, releasing entanglements, searching for what's next, your purpose, your lost energy, your creative zazzle? In journeys we fly through time and space without the encumbrance of time or space, effortlessly shifting direction with the energy. Sometimes this happens in dreams. And sometimes, with dragonfly's help, in ordinary reality.
Right now, at midday on this placid Labor Day weekend Sunday, I am looking out from the back deck onto this. Sir Galahad, my 33 year-old horse, has finished his mid-morning nap and is back out, grazing in his field. And all around us, visible and chatty to us but unseen in the photograph, are flights of swallows. They are today's teachers, advisors, entertainers.
A flight of swallows is the collective noun, as is a murder of crows or a gaggle of geese. All around me for the past few days are flights of violet-green swallows, barn swallows, tree swallows. The barn swallows that come each year to build their nests and raise their babies on top of the fluorescent lights in the barn have been joined by other barn swallows. Each year the swallows gather in flights, dive-bombing the cats and chasing each other about in the air, eating bugs in preparation for their migration. They become my teachers for this period.
But I'm not going to relay facts about swallows, or even copy any of the many poems I wrote about them in the past two years of writing Into the All Empty. Suffice it to say they feature prominently among a host of other feathered friends. At this moment there are hundreds of them flying and chattering, as a red and blue light plane flies overhead, one of several small aircraft that populate the skies over me on the weekends in fair weather.
The swallows teach me that uncertainty, movement, change, and the urge for going can be beautiful, graceful, natural, effortless, and fun. They show me that you don't have to take anything with you except your joy in being alive, your energy, and your natural instincts. They demonstrate that community is important, and that community shows up when it's time. Playfulness is an obvious part of their preparation for a journey of thousands of miles, along with gathering, self-expression, and eating whatever food they encounter in the sky. The are flying madly about partly because it feels lovely, partly to feed up for the journey, partly to gather together, partly to pair up, and partly to get in top shape for the long flight ahead.
What are they saying to each other? I always wonder what birds say to each other. What do you think?
In a half hour I'll be preparing to fly myself, in a remote shamanic journey for a client. I never know who my helpers might be for the work. Perhaps a swallow, or a flight of swallows, will show up to guide me to a lost soul part, or take away a thread of energy that does not belong to my client, or bring some energetic gift that is needed. Whomever I work with today, the swallows have helped me find that place of detachment, of lightness, and openness to simply be, that is required for the work. The wind chimes softly play a note here and there on the breeze. A few cottonwood seeds drift over the house from the woods. In each moment we can connect with the field of all possibilities, the invisible that creates the visible, whatever we need. This is where the work happens, where we know, and receive. This magical anything can happen feeling is pervasive this weekend. I hope it's surrounding you wherever you may be.