Tuesday, February 1, 2011

THE WHITE DEERSKIN DRESS

From my Journal Retold on the Day of the First Snow:

This Vision came to me on the day that my partner’s brother Nathaniel was taken to the hospital never to return. We’d recently arrived home from a month in England. My friend Grandmother Jean placed a large crystal in my hands and asked if I saw anything. This is what happened.

This is the vision: On a clear, bright, snow covered day I find myself riding horseback down Spider Rock Road. A middle aged Indian Man dressed in kiva attire meets me about half way to my friend’s house. He is slender, about 5’ 6” and I never clearly see his face. We ride together toward the Pueblo and then beyond toward the mountain. I feel wonderful, lighthearted and moved by the beauty and clarity of the day. As we are riding I see but make nothing of the fact that the season now seems different. We are no longer in snow. As we begin to ascend, suddenly I am aware that as a non-tribal member I should not be here. At this time the guide is no longer with me. I don’t know where he went nor does it seem important.

I don’t want to violate the Pueblo laws and turn around to start back down the trail. But the season now seems to be late summer or early autumn. There is a grove of aspens to my left about a hundred yards. I am riding in the open. Suddenly I am either in two places at the same time or else I switch vision and identity with someone in the grove of aspen. I can see her face at the same time that I am looking out of the grove with her eyes.

She is young but beyond adolescence. She has intense black eyes, and full lips. She is dressed in a white deerskin dress decorated with fringe but no beading or other decoration. Her thick black hair is long and loose but tied in many small clusters with strings of white deerskin. It is a way of doing the hair that I have never seen in any picture nor has anyone ever said anything about this way of doing a woman’s hair.

She is standing by a small fire that has almost burned out. Somehow I know the fire was for a ceremonial purpose, just as I know that her dress and hairdo are not usual but for some special ceremony. I don’t know about the time of this scene but I know it is not the present although when I met the guide he and I were in the present which at that time was the day after Christmas, 1997. The only thing I know for sure is that this scene is at the latest in the middle or late 19th century and quite possibly much earlier. There is nothing external that would give me a clue as to the actual time period.

Then I am no longer on a horse riding back to the pueblo and noticing her in the forest but completely inside of this woman and now I can’t see her anymore because I am she looking out from the aspen grove. As her I am in a state of shock and disbelief. It takes my breath away and I feel that someone hit me in the belly with a large stone. My body is almost limp and my head is reeling. My world has been turned upside down and inside out and I barely recognize anything anymore. The unbelievable has happened. Something went terribly wrong. It is so extreme that I can’t take it in. I know that my life is over and even worse that everything I had dedicated my life to is over and can’t be fixed.

At this point in the vision I feel her shock and grief and begin to cry. But her feelings cannot be truly expressed in my body and nothing can be resolved, they haunt me for months. Every time I think of her or mention this vision to someone I trust the intensity and desperation surge over me like a tsunami. The big emotions have faded over the past 11 years but I can still see her and feel her with great clarity.

Gradually a story begins to unfold. She is waiting for a medicine power to be passed onto she and her partner after so many years of training beginning in childhood from perhaps the age of seven. An old medicine man from another pueblo or another tribe had come to this place to pass on his knowledge to two children, a boy and a girl. This was an unusual situation since normally he would not have left his own tribe. However, he was the last carrier of a certain type of medicine that was considered very important and there was no one in his own tribe to pass it on to. It had once been practiced in this place also but that was a long time ago. He came here and worked with the two children until they were ready to be initiated and the power would be turned over to them. He was too old to begin again.

On this day of initiation everything was ready. But the young man suddenly disappeared. She didn’t know what happened whether he left with a trader who came to their village, it seems like that may have happened, or if he simply ran away to another village to escape. It almost seemed as if something had sucked him up and taken him away without a trace. When she is standing in the grove, she is alone. The old man is not present either. Perhaps he left knowing there was no use going on. She was alone with her shock, grief, and total disorientation. The medicine they were trained in required the powerful interaction of male/female balanced energy. They each had a critical position in the use of ceremonial power. One alone would not do.

She must face the fact that her life training is now without an outlet and everything she believes she exists for no longer exists. It is far beyond her personal death in its importance and impact. This medicine will now be buried with her, in reality was buried at the moment the young man left. The old man is too old to begin with another boy and girl and he considers this event as the sign that a more powerful enemy has killed this medicine path. It is a bad omen for the future of these people as well as his own.

Next I feel my way as this young woman into her future. She never recovers her soul. It’s as if her heart was jerked out of her chest and she lives on in her village in a somnambulant state, a mere shell. She never mentions to anyone what happened nor does she bring it up consciously. She tries to live on in some way that will be good by helping other women and children in the village. I somehow know that she never married. Now I see her in late middle age a person with a kind of distant beauty but with enormous sadness behind her mask I never feel her as an old woman and believe she must have left her body in her late 40’s or early 50’s.

No one in the village ever found out what became of the young man. He disappeared into a different life and never returned. Surely he must have left that life feeling unfinished. He left something that he had been uniquely chosen for. Perhaps the responsibility seemed suffocating and overpowering to him and he panicked at the point of final initiation and commitment. He must have spent the rest of his life trying to justify and either deny or compensate for what he did. It was the type of panic driven decision that could not be undone. Did he feel shame combined with a giddy freedom? Did he feel that he was living his own truth at any cost? Maybe he went into a state of denial, suppressed the memory and never opened the door again. In this vision and in my everyday life I can only speculate.

This is the only complete story that I have received about what I left behind unfinished. Was it truly another life? Was it a composite of previous lifetimes and their unfinished business? Was it a story that just appeared out of some unknown connection? It came to me like a waking dream, quite suddenly without warning. The white deerskin dress connects me with the many white deer that ask me to paint them. This was and is a story that will reveal its magic, I sense, over the rest of my days on earth.