A short essay by a dog.
Daniel Deardorff 2007
The Girl Who Married Coyote
The modern has become defined by the cults of obedience, progress, aimlessness, competition and consumption. Desertification is not only an environmental, but a spiritual and cultural fact. Social justice, academic, and environmental work alone has not succeeded in curbing the excesses of consumption and inequality.
This much we know.
To become a medicine carrier is to have journeyed to discover, uncover, recover, and then militantly "give forward" the thing in yourself which is a life-bestowing and healing power. To be a maker of rituals that bring change and healing.
Meaningless change—a chaos that hurts.
At the same time—we long for transformation, new forms that work better, new systems that work at all. We have a deep longing to be instigators, actors with agency.
Ritual says that we are intimate with nature in facing these challenges.
Not only is the day on fire;
the whole damn place is cast in the shadow of torment.
A never-ending burn wants to consume the world.
Hot flickers of grief and outrage seem to lament without end.
A curious thing, but the old stories make a bold claim—
only when the waters of life and the waters of death are retrieved together can the flames of destruction
be cooled, and life be brought to balance again . . . for a time.
Bringing those waters back is what used to be called
"spirit business, healing business, medicine business."
Not a bypass—not an overpass . . . instead, an under way.
Coyote, the Trickster.
5000 names in 5000 places.
The origin of mischief . . .
trouble maker of this realm . . .
and a blessing in disguise:
The Gate Keeper of Healing.
Without Coyote, we're going nowhere.
If the dog comes, we might get somewhere.
We need to know about change as an ally for transformation. The waters of life and waters of death are the transformers.
Transformation is the purpose of ritual, storytelling, myth, song, dance, poetry, drum, sharing, traditional teachings, tears, laughter. These are old human skills of culture.
Calling the living alive and sending the dead to be dead.
Spirit business, healing business, medicine business. Ritual.
The old skills are eminent, practical, and necessary mentors to the lost confusion of the younger modern.
By river, on foot, a tale told on the drum, a weeping battle song that still rings true, a storm of libations,
a pride of dedications.
The horses are nowhere near the barn; not even in the fields. The mountains are still shaking in the teeth of the thunder. Ears akimbo.
In this stealthy mist the reckless travel.
A goose-feather cloak would not be amiss.
If you came here looking for medicine business, dog travelling, dragon lore, and a taste of the first waters, this might be the place.
The blessing in disguise, given by our time, is a wild and improbable project.
It's for you; but also not for you.
Delivering the waters of life and the waters of death is a gift reaching seven generations toward history and the future.
The waters are a spring that is interested in invading the desert.
All the elements will be needed on the journey—the grounding of earth, the shape of bones, the agility of water, the wisdom of fire and the transformative magic of of nature.
Healing and leadership go hand in hand; necessitate each other.
This work is for both those starting on the path, and for leaders and practitioners wanting to deepen.
It is a path to learning the deep skills of ritual.
Your sacred lost-in-the-heart grief. Your beautiful anguish for the tides. Even the weaving that your ancestors began 1000 years ago. The dance you were given the first time you kissed the ground. Ecstasies of the moonlight.
That ferocious tremor of wild genius, the sole-of-your-shoe knowledge lurking at the crossroads. Forgotten prayers.
Pick them up.
Bring it all. There will be conversations with dragons.
To carry medicine is to be a friend of the elements. It is to be proudly an animist—to see spirit and soul everywhere.
To understand boundaries, to give the medicine of welcome, see the likely force of structure, hear a necessity in weeping, to know a dance that must be performed in moonlight.
We who remain here now, we who are on the same page, are charged with an undertaking—initiations, likely uncomfortable at times.
As one of my teachers noted—"Beware the road that is smooth, the road to healing is not a well paved road."
We will need uncommon magic to survive the rigorous initiations.
The sure-footed digging wisdom of the badger, a crystal to catch the refracted light and shadows of the old myths, a diplomatic passport to the Other World issued by the waters, something cooling that can endure the burning of fire, and a clever friendship with the great Trickster that made this world.
The work I offer is aligned with the "Trickster Wisdom" traditions which emerged from the indigenous sensibility of an interconnected and complex, cosmos. Healing always embodies a shift, a change, a transfiguration into a new state, brought into alignment, once again, for a time.
I look forward to meeting you.
And thank you for the work you do in the world.