Montana Wolf

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bobcat Medicine, Excerpt from WILD ROAD HOME, the next book

I was grinding the morning coffee beans when movement caught my eye. About thirty yards outside the sliding door, across the little river, was a bobcat. She sniffed grasses and alder thickets in no obvious hurry. I glassed her striped body. She was small with sharp edges. She proceeded to the mineral block, looked at me for a few seconds and disappeared into the brush. I hadn't asked for a sign, but had just received one. 
For the next few hours I delved into Lynx Rufus. Cat energy had long permeated my soul. I was a Tiger by the Chinese calendar. I’d had several potent encounters with mountain lions and a jaguar had named me. With this sighting I moved from big cats to small, from thick, mighty tails to minute bobs. 
Bobcats were solitary prowlers of the dawn and dusk, immersed in a silent, secretive world, like crepuscular me. They prowled through river bottoms; I prowled, pen in hand, through thickets of imagination. Bobcats were stealth hunters with keen senses. They had an uncanny ability to blend in and survive their environment. They averaged two to four feet long (including the tail), fifteen inches tall and twenty five pounds. The bobcat was my competition when it came to spotting a snowshoe hare. The white wonders were the bob’s preferred diet. Thus far I’d seen many tracks but not the hare. I longed to spot one again. To catch those pointed ears with my camera. 

The bobcat was often associated with wind in mythology and paired with coyote. Coyote as chaos, bobcat as order. My friend across the river was also considered the cosmological protector of Venus, the evening star and Goddess of love, which happened to be my astrological ruling planet. In my ancestors' Norse mythology, bobcat was associated with Freya, Goddess of love, beauty and destiny, who rode a chariot pulled by two cats (to whom Hobo, of course, claimed to be a direct descendant).
They range far and wide

A bobcat traveled up to seven miles a day and had a range of one hundred square miles. I would be lucky to see her again, as I reviewed the qualities she symbolized: stealth, power, camouflage and clairaudience – hearing sounds and voices not audible to most. Lynx Rufus. Lynx, from the word for light. So named for gleaming eyes; the ability to see in the dark, traits I could sorely use at this point.

Prime time for Bobcat

-- excerpt from WILD ROAD HOME, next book in the "Courage to Quest" series. Thanks for reading!!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Journey of a Thousand Steps: Baboquivari's Cave of Emergence

Baboquivari at First Light

Baboquivari and I'itoi's Cave Cliff Face
The swoop of owl
silent wings through headlights at dawn          
foretold the power of I'itoi's Cave
where the Tohono O'odham People emerged
into this world on
Baboquivari's flank.
Her wake of wing beats
swept the ole truck
down the sharp stone two track
a desert oak campground
and a bathroom shaman
who emerged from the open-doored stall
a fist-sized flat circle of
woven grass hung from her neck
spirit stop sign
I forgot to pee
smiled and said
it's beauty-full
Her ankle length indigo velvet skirt
held sway
Her wizened face smiled
My People's maze she said
See here she pointed our spirit protector
a turtle. 

Double tie hiking boots.
Strap on the fanny pack.
Drink water. Drink.

How many turtles have crossed the trail to I'itoi's cave?    
Step step
up a cactus-studded cliff face
one thousand feet steep
serrated thorn trail
thick climbing rocks
all the hiking stick way.

Drink water. Drink.
Take a deep breath.
Thank you breeze.

an act of faith
to an invisible cave
my calves rebel
breath puffs
the trail levels out
none too soon
upon a high ledge
Carole at Entrance
royal blue kerchief tied to a branch
sways in the wind
behold! before me
a slight slit through rock
plump boulders
passage into ebony.
On any given day I would have passed them by.

Drink drink.
I have arrived.

Slither and twist.
Push the body into the mountain womb.
I drop into darkness
two feet ker-plop
into a chamber and wait for eyes to see
braids of sweet grass, charcoal, rows of hiking sticks, feathers and bundles, beads, shoes, photos, a 20'x30' stand-tall womb
a gestation of hope
and daring dreams.

I squat, pray and offer my gift      
turn toward sunlight
to birth head first
a belly down squirm
momentary panic
rock hand hold
I pull forward
elbows into dirt
my feet hit ground
full body flat and free
forceps spurned.

Drink drink.

step by concentrated step  
down ball-bearing rock
reality askew
dimensions pool
behind my eyes
I am not the same woman
but know not how
in a daze
through teary haze
'round the shaman's maze
of blowing spirit dust.

Drink drink. Blink.

This will take time.    
I free scrunched toes
from the tip of my boot
walk the base of a rock uplift
spine outcrop worthy of
lemon palo verde blooms
don't-dare-swat killer bees
a man's sweet smile
a sister's hug.

Day's end nears.
A wind-ruffed Crested Cara Cara
stands one legged
apex watch
on a lofty old sahuaro
short flight from her Mexican home
breathe the emerald desert
below the slit of I'Itoi
migrants all.

Ever-present Baboquivari 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hooked on a Hook

The sun was sinking as Teak, Hobo and I turned up a small wash. Within a few minutes our sandy path grew increasingly rocky and narrowed. Hobo, forever cautious, was beginning to doubt the brushy choice. I pushed on; I relished the challenge after hours at the computer. When I finally stopped and looked back, Teak and Hobo were ten yards behind, waiting for me to turn around. Time to give in. I pivoted. A piece of metal caught sun's final rays. A horseshoe? I reached and pulled a smooth, weather-hewn hook from the sand. It was old. Despite it's original hookn' yank  purpose, it possessed a soft, sculptured energy.

I almost tossed the rusted hook down, but I couldn't let go. I carried it home, all the while wondering about the riddle. A hook. Did it signify a hook for a story. No. Was it about hooking something in my life? Had I hooked something I shouldn't have? No and no. Pulleys. Rough'n tug. I mined the metaphors but nothing resonated. I put the hook aside and carried on.

I wasn't, however, the only one who wondered what it was about.

I'd forgotten about the hook when, a few days later, I picked up the phone. It had been over a month since I'd spoken to Jacqueline. We caught up over the next hour, covering subjects near and dear to our hearts. Our phone reunion was coming to a close when the subject turned to our tendency to overwork ourselves. For me, my nose-to-the-grindstone writing pace, most evident when I was finishing a book, which I was. We need to let up, I said, be more gracious with ourselves.

Yes, she replied, we need to play more hooky! 

That's IT! I screamed with delight; laughed as I related the tale of the hook.

Another burst of synchronicity hit the bullseye. I've since made out the worn word Durbin on the hook. It's an old manufacturing company. I doubt anyone associated with the company had a clue it would end up as a symbol for putting toil aside and kicking up my heels. It's now on my altar.

I'm taking hooky to heart.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Imbolc - Spring Towards Light

Good day and welcome back ... to all of us! You'll notice a new title to this blog, a start to several changes, as I consolidate the past few years of travel. WildWise came to me as I was writing my latest book, The Wild Road Home. It represents a body of information that stems from the wisdom I have gained through decades of retreat and spiritual practice, including ritual with Native medicine people, Buddhist mentors, including Thich Nhat Hanh, and o-so-many wise women, including Starhawk and the Sisters that inhabit my daily world. One's evolution, however, is multi-faceted. Wisdom gleaned could not have been possible without the courage to quest ... my push to leave the security of traditional roles behind and head into the unknown to witness, write and photograph. Whether years of cabin solitude at the edge of wilderness, solo travel to Guatemala Mayan land and a jaguar initiation, or over a decade full time on the road from Alaska to the tip of the Baja, ultimately, it was the wild lands, feral beings and fauna -- including very influential trees -- that delivered me home. It's good to be together again.

Imbolc. Why should you care? The olden holy days, of which Imbolc is one, are relevant because they relate to the natural cycles that live within our bodies. There are eight points on the wheel of the the cyclical calendar, four you probably know: Winter Solstice (December), Summer Solstice (June), Fall Equinox (September) and Spring Equinox (March). The mid-points in between these major days are less known, or known as something different from the original intentions: Imbolc (Groundhog's Day), Beltane (May Day), Lammas (county fairs), Samhain (Halloween). These eight seasonal points were acknowledged around the world for eons. They reflected survival of the human species through seasonal adaptations, fertility of body and field, and spiritual exchange.

Imbolc has everything to do with light, the point when we actually feel sun's heat against our flesh, the largest organ in the body. An old gaelic word, it is derived from i mbolg, "in the belly." Metaphorically, the light returns to our womb, the place where new birth dwells. What germinates within? What creations seep from winter's dark gestation?

The Celts celebrated Imbolc as the Feast Day of Brighid, the goddess of poets, healers, smiths and midwives. A strip of cloth or ribbon was hung on the door or upon a tree to receive Brighid's healing and protective powers. Imbolc was also known as Candlemas. Candles and fires were lit to coax and welcome the sun. Candles were made from bees wax. Bees wax was a source of light as well as a preservative, essential to humans. Thus, the holiness of bees.

My Imbolc rituals include burning my solstice tree. I like the double significance of burning a hearty ever-green symbol - goodbye winter! - and beckoning the sun. I also burn yellow candles. I acknowledge that stronger light hits my retina and changes the brain chemistry, opening pathways to creativity. I drink from a special glass adorned with three-dimensional bees. I take down the colored lights of winter that buoyed my soul through winter's deep darkness.

Punxsutawney Phil may or may not crawl out of his hole and see his shadow. It matters not. I will drum with friends and bid winter's deep dark goodbye. Give thanks; feel the infinite potential of dreams. Hallelujah! Days lengthen, shadows shorten. New bird songs fill the air.

Step into the flow. Bee real.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Courage to Quest

Not out of the wet woods yet!
Ready to Roll
Yes, it's been a loooong time since I've penned this page. Thanks for showing up. I'm in S. Arizona now. I departed Washington on 9/15. The odometer on the '99 Ford Pickup rolled over 150,000 miles as I departed Sedro-Woolley. You remember Sedro, the place I had intended to stay for three months and stayed just short of two years. The Skagit River wouldn't let go. I trusted the extension and even the broken elbow. It allowed me magical kayaks that culminated in a final exploration down the mighty River with friends and neighbors, dancing with community at the Old Edison Inn, and a final run at the next book. My departure was a leap of faith. I had no destination. I knew, however, I did not want one more gray damp PNW winter to envelop my body. I was dead set on being in the Southwest aspen forests in the autumn.

Shortly before departure I received word from Focus on Women Magazine that Drive Me Wild was finalist for the La Femme de Prose Books Quill Award. The awards gala was in Baltimore mid-October. Could I make it? I doubted it. I was in the homestretch of the next book, hoping for a fall book release in Taos. It would be a major diversion of time and money to go to Baltimore, but I didn't rule it out. Then I received word I had to move my 5X8 space of boxes from a friend's shed. I was Cortez, Colorado-bound, with stressful decisions ahead. Baltimore seemed a lifetime away. 

It was fabulous to be on the road again. Teak and Hobo took up the traveling rhythm with panache. Hobo waited patiently for the final day's stop when he could jump out of Perla and explore. He'd jump back inside in the morning, to travel to the next spontaneous stop. We dry camped the first night in Eugene to see Hope. Traveled east through Bend, across the Great Basin for a boondock of unbelievable beauty. We continued north to McCall, ID to see Ed Kral, a writer-friend. Then south to Twin Falls to see my ole RV buddy, Phyllis. Fate threw a new brake job into the mix before the momentous turn south into Colorado. I chose the slower mountain route through Orvis Hot Springs to meet Jacqueline from Boulder. The aspen were at peak as I crept through the neon yellow Rockies. I was ecstatic.

Across the Great Basin

Aspen in the LaPlata's - Mt. Herperus

I pulled into Mancos to park at Danielle and Tom's, gracious fun hosts. Fun to be around teenage boys again, learning the lingo, like "Netflix and chill." (Friends with benefits is so passe'.)

That blood moon eclipse shook the energy loose as friends offered spaces for my things. An heirloom sold to a member of the family who was willing to drive from Iowa to pick it up (bless you Tami and John). I was beginning to think Baltimore was in reach when Shanon, a friend in Prescott, offered a place to park and loving care for Teak and Hobo while I flew out of Phoenix. A friend of a friend offered me a place to stay at her AirB&B in Towson, Maryland. The universe conspired. I didn't dare say no. 

In the background of this movement was the new book, The Wild Road Home. I had put it aside in Washington and taken to the road. My critic was having a heydey. You need to get it done. You promised. You need the money. You're a slackard .... I told it to shut up. The name of the road was TRUST. Boarding pass in my Smart Phone, my die was cast as my savings dwindled. 

Aurhor's Night

The non-stop trip to Baltimore was a five hour meditation as I contemplated my invitation to be among a phenomenal group of women activists and writers from around the world. Linda Tucker, Founder of the Global White Lion Protection Trust in South Africa. Michele Rickett, founder of She is Safe, a global effort to rescue sexually exploited girls around the world. Consolee Nishimwe a survivor of the 1994 Tutsi Rwanda genocide. Joslyn Wolfe, the Publisher of Focus on Women Magazine. Bette Hoover, a radical Quaker who worked for peace across the globe and trauma victims in Nicaragua. And many many more women writing their stories from across the USA. Why me? I wondered. What was my contribution that spawned the invitation? 

I stepped out of the Baltimore airport to the curbside pick-up area. A handsome dude gave me a
w/ Joslyn Wolfe, Publisher
crash course in Uber. I should have asked if he wanted to share a car. My Uber driver was a man from Jamaica whose spirit and snow-white smile lifted the soul. I rode in front and we talked non-stop. He wrote poetry in his spare time. Worked at Comcast. Had a family. And he was working on a book of the most beautiful places in Jamaica for weddings. Forty-five minutes later he unloaded my suitcase as Jayne, the aerial dancer host in Towson, stepped from her door. We were sisters from the first glance. Her spirit tree loomed in the backyard, where she attached her apparatus and practiced her craft. Julia, my second host, loaned me some hiking shoes, led me into the deciduous woods and into the French Twist for succulent crab crepes and one of the best breves I've had. The Gala and book event was a two-night marvel. Joslyn did not call my name for a La Femme Quill Award. She called my name for something I didn't know existed: "The feminine energy espoused in Drive Me Wild: A Western Odyssey is surpassed by none. Christina Nealson brings us on an incredible journey to reach one conclusion: we must preserve, embrace the beauty and respect nature, the earth and all of its connectedness. For these reasons she has been chosen Focus on Women Magazine's AUTHOR OF THE YEAR." 

I carried the deeply humbling moment aboard the return flight to Arizona. The question, "Why me?" blinked neon red as the answer crystallized. I stood, I hoped, as an example for women and men to break free of the tethers that separated them from the quintessential germ of their souls. That they might feel their way beyond rationale - through faith and intuition - to their spirit home. For myself, to communicate the wildscapes vital to spirit and survival. For all of us, I hoped, I radiated the COURAGE TO QUEST. 
On the Edge of Canyon de Chelly

And with that revelation, the title of the next book changed.
There was a reason I didn't push the baby out in September.

I'm back to the book and planning a spring release. I pause in the Arizona sun, steeped in the warm reality that a quest, while a solitary soul venture, is never accomplished alone. The heart and generosity of loved ones throughout the years buoy me, sustain me and make every word I write, every step I take, every bird I identify, every snap of the shutter, possible. To YOU, my tears of thanks.

For the wild, Christina