Healing the Heart

Mourning Dove in the Dark

Mourning Dove in the Light, Cliffs of Lima, Peru

Mourning Dove in the Light, Cliffs of Lima, Peru

It had been a day of syncronicities and usually when more than one occurs, there's a strong message there for me. This was one of those days. That morning my hibiscus plant had brought forth a beautiful flower bloom despite it being late autumn. The rich, orange color made me feel gratitude especially amidst the many gray days we had seen as winter approached. It had been a great start to the day for me. Later while driving home, I had also seen a Buck in the distance frantically searching for a safe place amidst the traffic and chaos of the road. His appearance, once again, a special symbolic moment.

That evening I had walked with my dogs amidst a starlit night sky. Despite the cold and darkness, I was determined to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise after a long day of work adjusting to a new environment that had drained me energetically. I could clearly see the Pleiades, as well as Jupiter and Venus that had paired in a recent conjunction. The two planets were still close to each other shining brightly. Somehow it all felt magical as I thought I might even see a falling star that night. Something felt like it was in the air.

I had recently had a vivid dream in which I was sitting beneath a star filled night sky where many meteor showers were displayed. The stars kept falling from the sky. In that same dream, a flock of Falcons also appeared during the night. The symbolism of the contradiction still eluded me since Falcons do not fly in flocks nor do they appear at night. They are day birds of prey. I felt the dream was perhaps a premonition of powerful energies descending upon the Earth, though the symbolism could be viewed in many ways. As time passes, I usually understand the metaphors. As always, I just needed to be patient until the symbolism revealed itself in my life.

Source: Sheila Sellers Images

Source: Sheila Sellers Images

This night I was to once again, have a day bird appear to me in the night. This time it was in the real world and not in my dreams. As my dogs and I continued walking, I suddenly stopped and looked down on the ground with my flashlight and there was a Mourning Dove sitting motionless in the dark on the asphalt paved path away from any protective trees or shrubs. I shined my flashlight on her for quite a while so surprised to see her. I thought she must be injured because this was highly unusual behavior. As I began to take off my gloves, she must have sensed I was about to pick her up and she suddenly flew away. The moment left me in awe with such a feeling of mysticism. This songbird who usually seeks shelter away from predators, had caught my attention underneath the stars.

I went home and continued reading Sue Monk Kidd's book When the Heart Waits wherein she discusses a spiritual turning point in her life and how sometimes you just have to be with your question, until the answer arrives. This advice had struck a chord with me due to the many unanswered questions currently in this world and in my own life. The words felt like very wise advice and they gave me peace as they resonated with my own inner knowing that all was well despite what things may seem in this moment. 

Source: Nancy Barrett Photography

Source: Nancy Barrett Photography

Mourning Doves have been very significant in my life. Their soft, peaceful cooing sound has always been soothing to me. They have usually been guideposts that something significant is about to happen. They have come to symbolize transition and new experiences for me. Many years ago while my son was very young, a Mourning Dove hit my windshield on the way to meet a client to consecrate the building of their new home on Seneca land. I will never forget that moment as the Dove died on impact. I was devastated and unnerved as I continued driving to what would be a challenging ceremony. At the same time I also knew that animals often transition to spirit to be your ally. I had been told by a Native American teacher that in her tribal beliefs, it is called "a giveaway". Not surprisingly that day was to be a turning point in my career as I began focusing on ceremonial shamanic work clearing memories and healing the homes and land of clients.

Sometimes it is in their passing that these doves have crossed my path, but never have they appeared at night time. Throughout the years Mourning Dove has appeared on special occasions when changes were occurring in my life, but usually it was just feathers scattered near my bird feeder and once, an injured dove whose wounds were too severe that I could not save. During the beginning of my pilgrimage throughout southern Peru a few years ago, Mourning Dove appeared again this time basking in the sunlight on the cliffs of Peru while I sat dining a few feet away. It wasn't until recently that I realized the significance at the beginning of a journey that would be quite arduous in terms of adjusting to the altitude and endless travel, as well as the shadow and illusion that I would encounter along the way. I know now that she came to reassure me that I was always surrounded by light, despite the tests of faith I would experience as a result of this trip.

Source: Unknown

Source: Unknown

This latest appearance of Mourning Dover under a star filled sky was immensely powerful to my psyche. I felt that because she appeared surrounded by darkness this time and I had needed to shine the light on her, there would be some type of reversal in my life. Not only had I encountered hardships and several disappointments as a result of my trip abroad, but I had also gone through a tremendous healing crisis shortly after my return to the US and had been through a very long and complex healing process. There had been great upheaval in my life as I struggled to come to terms with how my life was and how I would like it to be.

Mourning Dove appeared once more in December. This time it was on Christmas day. I saw her sitting outside my son's bedroom window during a very cold winter's day. I just happened to enter his room to put some things away and glanced outside. She gave me the feeling that all was well as she sat on a tree branch calmly puffed up for warmth amidst the freshly fallen snow. She gave me a sense of immense peace and hope that day.

Mourning Dove on Christmas Day.

Mourning Dove on Christmas Day.

I know now that Mourning Dove in the Dark came to tell me that my life would be changing and that now it is time to write my story on her behalf and this planet. Most of my life I think I have been in mourning for the loss of my true self and my inability to be authentic so early on in life, as well as all the chaos of so many years of learning to remember who I am. Now I grieve for this planet in so many ways, but more than ever I recognize the importance of being authentic in this world. The creatures of the Earth have been such a huge part of my path, always communicating their messages to me, even if I didn't always understand their meaning until much later.

Mourning Dove is a constant reminder to sing a new song for myself and this Earth-- one of wisdom, hope, creativity and peace.  Perhaps she is a more powerful ally than I could ever have imagined. Mourning Dove has come to mean so many things to me. A few days ago a pair of doves sat feeding beneath my Black Locust tree I had named Jupiter. I'd like to believe Mourning Dove has come to remind me of the magic of unexpected gifts and synchronicities when you least expect them. Jupiter is, after all, the planet of blessings. It falls in line with my dream...

 

2018 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

 

The Allure of Sumac

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Staghorn Sumac is a tree that has intrigued me for many years, yet I knew relatively little about it. This year the brilliant display of its leaves triggered something in me that was very profound. I simply could not get enough of its brilliant reds and oranges as I walked my dogs along a local trail that I had recently been acquainting myself with. Since the trail runs east and west, along with some incredible sunsets, there has been such a brilliant display of reds, oranges and greens in recent weeks. The Staghorn Sumac has become a new friend amidst an already huge list of trees that I love.

I have two young trees that appeared a few years ago on my land as it has been slowly regenerating and enlivening. I have allowed them to grow in the middle of two gardens because I know I will love the eventual color they will bring in the fall to my landscape. In Europe, Staghorn Sumacs are highly regarded ornamental trees but here in the US, because they grow easily in the wild, they are considered invasive in some areas despite being a native species. I tend to believe that every plant and tree has a purpose and knows better than we do, what needs to be in a certain landscape. These trees provide food for songbirds and other animals as they anchor the soil and prevent degradation of the landscape while slowly revitalizing it, not to mention the sheer beauty that their color provides for the human eye. The brilliant red color is linked to the 1st chakra, the energy center that is primal to our sense of groundedness and foundation within our body, as well as our sense of safety and well being in the world.

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I felt this tree was calling to my heart so I decided to learn more about it and found out that the cluster of red fuzzy berries on the female trees, were actually edible and highly nutritious. I was pleasantly surprised to find out they are loaded with vitamin C and other antioxidants. The tree has a long history of medicinal use by Native Americans in treating digestive and respiratory issues, as well as overcoming infections and healing wounds due to its antifungal properties. If I follow the doctrine of signatures and just look at the brilliant color of its leaves, I feel that this tree helps to restore balance to the heart and circulation, not just to humans, but also to the land it inhabits.

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Staghorn Sumac belongs to the family of trees and shrubs called Anacardiaceae which interestingly contains the word 'cardiac' meaning relating to the heart. I know these trees are helping the land breathe again, as they are often found in hedgerows alongside roads or where the land has been somehow disturbed. I also found references to its use in circulatory problems which didn't surprise me because I feel that this is the tree's purpose- to restore balance and flow of energy and to heal with its softness.

I love the soft, silkiness of the Staghorn Sumac's bark. That soothing feeling reflects a gentleness of the properties of this tree that decorates our wild landscapes. I trust that its medicinal properties also gently heal the heart and all the cells of our body as we ingest this gift from the Earth. There is something so vibrant and yet so primal about this tree, that I know I need to develop a deeper relationship with it. What better way than to create a drink from its berries? This week, for the first time I sampled the nectar of the soft, fuzzy berries after allowing them to seep for 24 hours in water. The drink is tart, yet refreshing and nutritious. After my test run, I decided to gather some more berries and made a large batch. I'm excited to get to know my new ally more intimately and reap the benefits of this medicinal tree. After drinking a full glass yesterday, I could feel the richness of my dreaming returning to me and I'm looking forward to my daily ritual of sipping this newfound nectar.

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Copyright 2017 Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison. All photos and content subject to written permission by author.

The Broken Winged One

During the 90's I volunteered for a wildlife rehabilitation center that focused on birds of prey in their environmental education programs. It wasn't long before I had the privilege of working directly with these amazing birds of prey by taking them out of their enclosures and walking around the wildlife sanctuary to give them stimulation and to become comfortable with human handling and interaction.

During those hours I conversed with various types of owls, falcons, hawks and a turkey vulture, to name a few of the permanent residents there that also included mammals. I had to overcome my fear of working with these incredible wild animals. I also know that's when my shamanic path really began.

While many of these animals were injured and could no longer fly or be released into the wild due to their injuries, but some were just imprinted. They had grown accustomed to living with humans or had been captive bred so they also could not survive on their own in the wild. Nevertheless, they were still extremely dangerous and had to be handled with care. I also had to be grounded when I worked with them. I had to connect to their spirit, their true essence, as I knew they were my teachers.

While it excited me immensely to work with these wild animals and I always looked forward to our sessions together, a part of me always remained sad for them. I wondered what it would be like to know the glorious exhilaration of flight and freedom and have it taken away by an accident. Or what about never having known freedom at all, but yet being a bird that could fly over 200 mph in a dive like a peregrine falcon? My feelings about these birds has changed over time, as well as the meaning of the lessons that they taught me. Some continue to be my allies.

One of my favorite birds became a turkey vulture named Retch. I never agreed with the name because I feel names are very important and despite the fact turkey vultures are known to regurgitate when fearful, the name did not do this bird justice. Retch happened to share an enclosure with a beautiful barn owl and so usually he would watch Artemis be taken out by the volunteers but he remained inside. Most were afraid of being vomited on so he was largely left alone except for cleaning duties.

One day I could take Retch's sad, dejected looks no more and decided to overcome my fear. It was a beautiful day as I attached him to my falconer's glove and brought Retch outside. Of course, as expected he vomited immediately on me out of fear due to lack of regular human contact, but immediately thereafter he spread his winds in a glorious way to catch the rays of sunlight that were streaming that day. He looked magnificent and I could feel how happy he was. We shared a moment of deep heart connection.

Thereafter Retch and I became the best of friends for the time I remained at the center and I believe he looked forward to our visits as he rarely regurgitated. He also taught me a huge lesson. While I was educating people about the wild creatures of our world, I still had prejudices of my own about what was beautiful. What is beautiful is seeing a turkey vulture spread its wings in all its glory basking in the sunlight whether on the hand of a human or in flight riding thermals. Since that time I have always looked up to the skies to see them in flight and honor their presence.

I will never forget those days with Retch and all those glorious birds of prey. They will always live on in my heart. I believe I now understand somewhat what it feels like to know freedom and have it taken away from you. For many years I have stayed in a region that has challenged me immensely. Yet moving back to my hometown from Washington, DC, I found myself pursuing passions that I loved such as working with wildlife, educating people about the environment and writing on behalf of the animals and this planet. I kept staying for my parents and later because of my son. Now I am still here because I'm attached to my land and all that I've created. Yet there was a time when I felt freedom that was not bound by responsibilities nor financial decisions.

Note: All photos shown were originally taken by photographer David Lawrence Reade www.dlrimagery.com.

 

 

 

 

Wizard, a Barred Owl that was blinded when she collided with a vehicle and could not be released to the wild after recovery. 

Wizard, a Barred Owl that was blinded when she collided with a vehicle and could not be released to the wild after recovery. 

Artemis, a Barn Owl that was part of a barn owl breeding project and kept by the wildlife center for educational purposes.

Artemis, a Barn Owl that was part of a barn owl breeding project and kept by the wildlife center for educational purposes.

Retch, the Turkey Vulture who damaged his wing in a vehicle collision and was not releasable to the wild.

Retch, the Turkey Vulture who damaged his wing in a vehicle collision and was not releasable to the wild.

Yoda, a Great Horned Owl that was imprinted by a well meaning person and eventually became too much to handle. He was later transferred to a wildlife center. 

Yoda, a Great Horned Owl that was imprinted by a well meaning person and eventually became too much to handle. He was later transferred to a wildlife center. 

Sometimes we are put exactly where we are meant to be to remember who we truly are. No doubt we are also here to affect the lives of others, as well as the land that we live upon. In so doing, we come full circle with our path in life.

I know that the captivity of those birds of prey in some ways was cruel and yet in other ways they had a profound impact on my life as well as the lives of so many volunteers and audiences that had the privilege to see and work with them. So perhaps, God does work in mysterious ways and sometimes clips our wings so that we remain exactly where we are meant to be. I'd like to believe those magnificent birds also chose their path...

“She is often the broken-winged one, who does everything all wrong until people realize she’s been doing it...pretty right all along.
~Clarissa Pinkola Estes
— Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

I Need Only Remember...

We are the agents, the channels, the beings
through which Love manifests in this world.
In this remembering lies our destiny.

What if all the things that seemed unfair
turned out to make sense after all?
What if every life drama we needed
for the growth of our soul was provided for us?

I am the soul of the world
and the Song of Songs.
My life is a wonder and a blessing.

I need only remember.
~Joan Borysenko

Saving Goliath

For many years now I have been wanting a Staffordshire Terrier for some reason. I think because they have such a bad reputation and are so misunderstood. And for years I would see pictures of rescue pit bulls and read their stories and in my mind I kept seeing a grey one that I knew I would have some day. In the mean time, I rescued and adopted several of the wrong dogs for us, but in the end I knew they were meant to be saved and eventually ended up in wonderful homes.

About a month ago my niece contacted me about a Shiba Inu named Max that was at the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter. Being familiar with the breed and intrigued because he had the same name as my son, we went to see Max, but he was adopted that day. Somehow I felt we were meant to be at the shelter and look around to see what other dogs were looking for homes. After two separate visits that week, we couldn't agree between two completely different dogs- a female pit bull and an adorable Chihuahua mix that looked like a tiny fox. I decided to look one more time. There happened to be a handsome grey and white pit bull that drew my attention initially but did not seem to want to come out, so we went to look at him again.

The day of Goliath's arrival with sadness and fear of his past still lingering in his eyes..

The day of Goliath's arrival with sadness and fear of his past still lingering in his eyes..

Goliath was caged between two other dogs that were huge and very loud. I could tell that he was stressed but we tried one more time and no sooner was he outside in the fresh air, he affectionately jumped on us and gave us all his attention. This had not happened with the other two dogs in question. They had seemed to be more interested in everyone and everything else. Goliath chose us despite his fearful surroundings and in that moment we immediately felt a heart connection to him. He was the dog I had envisioned so many years ago and he immediately fit in when we got him home. It felt like he had been with us forever.

No sooner did Goliath arrive than the right home opened up for our other dog that I had been trying to place for 5 years due to her anxiety issues of being in a suburban environment. Her new home on 55 acres was ideal for her. Everything seemed to be falling into place unexpectedly just because of another dog named Max.

It took several days, but we decided to name Goliath "Dawson". It was my son's choice. Later I found out that Dawson means "son of David, the beloved". I couldn't think of a more appropriate name. He is a sweetheart and filled with love. He is so grateful to be part of our family.

Planting Seeds of Inspiration

This site has been long in birthing. First I had to get clear as to what I really wanted to focus on here and how it would be different from my Awen Environments site. After a great deal of frustration learning new technology, as well as dealing with the old narrative, gradually the new feeling for Reawakening the Spirit evolved. As with any creative project, it has been quite a process because the old was still releasing from my life while the new was developing inside my head.

I am extremely excited about Reawakening the Spirit because it has laid dormant like a seed for many years carefully germinating within the thoughts of my mind, carrying a blueprint for pursuing a more passionate way of living, the art of living more slowly, in alignment with all that is sacred while embracing my authentic self. Just as you need to dig up and clear the ground for a new garden before you plant your seeds, the old thought forms and patterns of your life must be taken away as well.

This new blog will be a source for my musings, my photography and the regular inspiration I receive from Spirit whether via my dreams, my gardens or my daily activities. Inspiration can be found anywhere. We just need to quiet our mind, stay in a place of gratitude, and pay attention. So as I contemplate the creation of a new spiral herb garden this spring with the sacred seeds a dear friend gifted me, I hope that I will plant seeds of inspiration within you..

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