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.