The Native Americans believed that Mother Earth ‘spoke’ and that Earth gave them wisdom, courage, and respect. Earth, to the Native Americans, was wisdom herself. She was the channel from which this precious life sprung forth to provide them with an enriching experience.
Not everyone sees Native American wisdom. They look down on our Natives and see the brutality of a fighting spirit or the neglect and abuse of a nation in grief. But Native American wisdom is not something to dismiss. I trust their engagement with the planet, and as Earth teachers, I feel there is still so much of their wisdom left unsaid. How can I help them say it?
I am a descendent of the early Shenandoah Valley of Virginia Quakers. This doesn’t have a great bearing on why I am talking about the Native American spirit other than it will give you perspective. My blood, of which I feel certain belongs in my body to somehow support my spirit, is non-violent farming blood. This is not the blood of the warrior, but the blood of pacifists.
One is not better than the other. Without the warrior, we wouldn’t have Democracy, but the point of that little aside is to give you an idea of where I have learned to listen. Quakers celebrate life. They do not kill indiscriminately. They are good listeners. Without the capacity to listen, the spirit within would not be able to speak and this is why they worship in silence. To know the god within. They are probably putting their heads down and looking to others to keep the balance of power and tyranny in check, but they do this knowing that this is their relationship to the world they live in.
I had a healing-with-Earth experience the other day I want to share. It started as a beautiful morning, bright blue sky, ‘a bluebird kind of day,’ when I called a friend, a good friend, a supportive and loving friend, for a favor. Before I could finish my sentence he retorted with a strong and definitive, “No!”
Friends ask friends for favors all the time, and in my mind, this was going to be a no-brainer to ask. I know him well enough to know the parameters of our friendship, and in my mind, this one fit the parameter. He might not have said ‘yes,’ and I would have been OK had he not, as I wasn’t attached to the outcome, but how he dismissed me on the spot left me feeling unnerved. I was hurt. I cried. But a male bluejay came to my window. Within a beat, a second male bluejay came to the window. I looked up at them and paused.
The bluejay is a Native American spirit bird and it just so happens that both my friend and I relate strongly to the wisdom this bird symbolizes.
It’s keynote wisdom, according to Ted Andrews in his book, Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small is: The Proper Use of Power.
For those to whom the jay comes as a totem, it can reflect lessons in using your power properly. It can also reflect lessons in not allowing yourself to be placed in a position in which power is misused against you.
Immediately, I recognized that this was probably some kind of power-play between us. I wasn’t attached to it, but I put myself in his shoes because it was obvious that he was engaging in something that had nothing to do with me, but with his feelings, and stepped aside. I got off the phone quickly. I should say he hung up on me quickly, and I continued to watch the birds. No sooner did I say out loud through my tears, “That’s enough. I’m not playing in this dynamic anymore,” the two birds took off and flew in opposite directions.
It was a dynamic moment. I know not to play in other people’s wounds. But sometimes it’s hard to differentiate wounds. Was it his and he was making it mine? Well, I wasn’t going to take it whatever it was.
The bluejay gave me the wisdom that I needed at that moment and I was grateful. People put wounds on others all the time. What part of his need for power over me in this situation could I let go of? Whatever it was I was able to move on and had a marvelously creative and happy day. The bluebirds came out to play and all was well. But I thanked him, in my mind, for that encounter. I thanked the jays. They supported a shift in me. No one has the power to hurt. I have the power to push past hurt and acknowledge where the hurt is coming from. From him. Not me. His world might be crashing down around him at any moment, but this was on me not to let him crash my world.
The word ‘jay’ comes from the Latin ‘gaia’ or ‘gaea’ which has associations to Mother Earth. Without the wisdom of Mother Earth I so greatly respect, I might have faltered that day. I would have stayed wounded and turned those wounds into dislike. With help from our Native Americans, I am learning the power of my wisdom. I am learning to listen again and again.