|Lifandi Lif Undir Hamri by Jeroen van Valkenburg|
I was doing a solo out in the Ghost River Wilderness area. I was inside a sweat-lodge with the door closed for the majority of the time, so it was like night-time all the time for me on the solo. When I went out I had a mixture of pretty strong emotions - I was excited, anxious, fearful, glad, bold for a new challenge and I also felt a sense of following in the footsteps of my dad and granddad who'd both spent a lot of time alone out in the bush. I've always had a lot of admiration for my dad and grandfather and I'd jump at any chance to be more like them and to make them proud; so I had a strong sense of that going with me as I went out, but I don't know if there's a particular adjective that would describe that particular emotion.
When I was out there I spent the first while getting used to my surroundings, and partly avoiding the difficult and foreign task of deep self-reflection and examination. Finally I got down to it and went into the sweat-lodge and closed the door. It went well for a while until I heard lots of noise outside the lodge - I was filled with gut wrenching fear not knowing what was going on outside. I was so afraid I couldn't move despite my best efforts to unwind my clenching stomach. I was imagining all the worst kind of possibilities that would explain the ruckus all around me - in hind-sight, there were also the most unlikely; bears tusslin over who would eat me first, and how they were gonna get into where I was hiding and the like!
I couldn't do anything else, so I lay there in fear and starting to feel real sick and I prayed with the little bit of sense that was left in my head - I asked for pity and mercy and I called on my Grandfather to come to me and lend me his strength, courage and sense to make it through whatever was waiting for me. I just lay there and prayed over and over - gradually I started to relax and the noise outside subsided and then disappeared all together. I was still pretty shaky, but I managed to get some sleep - probably out of exhaustion more than a sense of calm and relaxation! When I was asleep I heard my Grandfather's voice and I could almost see him right in the corner of my eye, but when I tried to see him, he slipped to edge of my vision again. He told me that was real proud of me and reassured me that I would be ok in whatever was coming my way - he said it might be tough, but that I would be quite alright. He spoke to me a while more and he told me about things in our family that I had never been told about as a child but had always wondered about - the usual types of hardships that are unspoken in many families like why this and that person don't speak and the cause of what had come between them. Then Granddad said goodbye and wished me well and he walked away.
I woke up cryin my eyes out. I was so happy to have seen my Granddad again but I felt a really deep and aching sadness that I felt as the loss of him in my life again - my Granddad had passed away when I was 16 and standing beside his coffin I was filled with the deepest sense of loss and regret I've honestly ever felt - because of the things that had come between my Dad and his family, we hardly ever got to see Grandad as kids and being left alone in the house he had built and raised a family in; a family who had all flown far from the nest I think really crushed him and he used to drink a lot, which is probably why we didn't see as much as I would have liked to when I was growing up. I know seeing us made Granddad really happy though, because my only memories of him are him smiling and chatting with us in the shade underneath his house - the stories of his sadness were secondhand to me.
So when Granddad left me again I was filled with all those same kind of feelings and memories and longing for him in my life again - I don't know if you have ever had a similar feeling, but I felt it physically and emotionally and spiritually through my whole body; and I still feel something of that when I think back to that moment again.
After I lay there for a while longer I fell asleep again and then I saw very clearly a man walking towards me - he was draped in a long cloth and he had an enormous dark beard that looked like he'd swallowed a bear and left the arse hanging out (to use a Billy Connelly Expression!). When he got near to me he told me that we had the same spirit, that we were in a way the same person - but he was an older me, but I also felt that we were still different, even though we were the same - I can't explain it, it wasn't a reasoned thought, but was a feeling that I just knew that was the case. He explained to me that what I had been learning about from the Blackfoot about the medicine wheel and the four aspects to the universe and our human lives (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual aspects; the four seasons; four stages of life etc) was also part of my old Irish/Gaelic culture and that's what the four leaf clover represents. People say it's "lucky" to find a four leaf clover, but the understanding I took away from that is that I guess in a very essentialised, "dumbed down" way it is lucky - but really, it represents the perfect balance and harmony of the universe and all parts of it - it's a representation of the code or laws by which all things live if they are to exist in their proper way, if they are to exist in that harmony and perpetuate the balance of all existence. Then he showed me how that is drawn in a traditional Gaelic style - it's a knot that has four segements and they all wind into each other with a small segment in the middle. He told me to make my home there, in the middle of the four segments - which I took to me I should live in balance and practice the values of each of the four sections in balance.
I don't remember the end to that dream, it just sort of faded into me waking up. There was much more to my time on the solo, but that's probably enough for one go! :)
When I got back I did a lot of follow up research with my family about what Granddad had spoken to me about - without mentioning my dream, as I wasn't sure what people would make of me and my sanity if I told them about that! - and also about what the older me had taught me about that knot. It most certainly is the four leaf-clover representation of harmony and the universal laws of balance and not long after that I ran into a book in the Metaphysical Books and Crystals bookshop in Calgary about the Celtic Spirit Wheel which recounts a Gaelic story from Ireland and how the laws of fours and balance we re-taught to the people of Ireland after they had forgotten them. I could write for pages and pages more about the heightened and deepened awareness I got from reading that book, but it would be purely academic I think.
The dream I had last night which led me to typing out these words to you no came about after a day feeling pretty lonesome. A good friend the other night had kinda lost her cool with me and let loose all the criticisms she had of my short-comings. She apologised afterwards for having been so unfair, but I still took it to heart and thought about what she said - all I think to a degree, fair criticisms in a sense; but I also felt as though much of what she took me to task over was me acting with the best of all intentions, and in some ways things I have not much control over. So I was feelin pretty sad and a bit lonely out of the whole thing and I went to sleep last night asking for guidance and pity and mercy. In my dream I read a verse from the Bible (which I haven't ever read an awful lot of, just bits and pieces at different times) which brought me a lot of comfort and I woke up this morning feeling much relieved and recovered from my bout of lonesomeness and sadness - the verse that I saw in my dream was 1 Timothy 4:12 "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity".