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Red Rock Raven, Magik and ManzanitaIt was one of those mornings where I felt the push to get work done. My Corgi Magik who is often a gauge munched on a small branch he found in my collection of rocks. I proceeded to lecture him on how it was important that I work and that I will take him out later. He pouted and looked up at me with those big brown eyes and if he could he would have said, “relax”. I remembered that sometimes when I am frazzled busy that is exactly when I need to go into nature and my place of beauty. So off we trudged into the woods. Walking down the street, a small red rock was on the sidewalk, I picked it up and looked at it more closely. It reminded me of the large Red Rock. I had not intended to go there today, too much to do. I had lectured Magik on how today was going to be a short walk, but I looked at the red rock in my hand and decided to listen. We trudged towards the woods. I was in my head and stomping my feet, moving forward, wanting to get the walk over and done with fast. Just as we climbed the hill I heard Raven’s “cawing.”

There were two of them sitting in a tree, like sentinels, and they were making these “purring” sounds. I hadn’t heard them before. Then they started to make these “popping” sounds also new to me. I watched as they arched slightly backwards to make the low “popping” sound. It’s almost as though their tone or voice dropped lower in order to make the “popping” sound. I was struck by the uniqueness of the vocalization and that they looked like two sentinels on either branch of an oak tree. I stopped to take my camera out, go figure they flew away. “Well I guess I needed to be in the moment with them,” I thought to myself and off we trudged, although my footsteps were a little lighter and my head a little less full.

As we approached the second climb I heard the golden dry grass humming. I wasn’t sure if they were crickets all chirping at once, but something in that steady “hummm” calmed me, it was almost like a chorus of dry golden grass and crickets humming or toning together. The sky was this brilliant blue and the last of my heaviness and mental busy-ness dropped away.

Red Rock Raven, Ravens on Red RockAs we rounded the bend two ravens flew over us, “cawed” and landed on the Red Rock! I was totally awed, and full of wonder and joy! Despite feeling the urge to push myself to work I listened to Magik, listened when I found the smaller red rock, and listened when I saw the ravens. I and others call it listening to the “whispers”. I’m so glad I listened. Magik didn’t notice the ravens and traipsed up to the rock. They flew off, circling above me making that wondrous “purring” sound they made earlier. Gratitude rushed over me! I sat on my usual stone chair on the Red Rock, made myself comfy, got out my aquamarine and started to sing. It was one of those moments where I felt like I stepped out of one world and into another. There was no-one around, the sky seemed electric blue, the golden dry grass sang with me, and the sun and the salamanders seemed to be celebrating, flooding me with passion. Passion for life!

I sang to the forest all mottled with light. I sang to the gnomes who tend the forest, trees and shrubs. I sang to the old woman who tends the woods with such tenderness and care. I sang to them all about the pain in the world, about the violence against women and abuse of children. I sang of regrets and mistakes that I have made. I sang compassion into all the cracks and crevices of the world and my world, to people I remembered, and to those I didn’t know. I sang peaceful blue skies to the places of violence. I sang golden singing grasses to women lost in their pain. I sang raven’s purring to children crying. I sang compassion to eyes watching me. And I sang to the earth gentle as the breeze. Grass “humming”, ravens “purring”, insects “buzzing”, wind “whispering”, ancient tones “droning”. Something deep from within the forest stirred. I could hear her breath. My eyes were seared shut by sunlight, but I could still see the mottled light of the forest. I could hear the flutter of her wings, born anew. Somewhere in the heart of the forest with its mottled light, new life was being born. It was a life filled with the innocence of a deer, and a heart so tender it ached as her wings unfurled and she stepped forth on the earth for the first time. I heard last fall’s leaves cracking under her bare feet. I wondered if they bled? She stepped forth undaunted by the sunlight and caught her breath, the beauty froze her for a moment. Electric blue, golden grass, red rock beauty sang to her, this creature born anew. The wind greeted her, caressed her cheek. She spread out her wings, jumped into the sky and with open arms flew!

I stopped singing and put the aquamarine in my pocket. The wind tousled the golden grasses and the electric blue sky was still there, tangible. Magik came out of his hiding place in the shade and sat, his polite way of begging for a treat. “Not today, you had your treat, we both did.” We got up and headed back home. A shadow of wings flew over me. They were long. The bird was long. But as it flew over me I heard her feathers whisper, “thank you.”

What wildness is born out of our creative play? I would have never known had I not listened to the whispers.

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

photos by Vlatka Herzberg

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I went for a walk with a new friend on some of my favorite trails and sacred places. We stopped at the Gathering Place – a stone chair covered with moss, surrounded with bay trees, nestled between two hillsides. We sat on the mossy chair and talked about singing, healing work, sharing stories and ourselves. 

 As I listened more deeply, I heard my friend, a gifted soundhealer, tell her story of making up songs and stories when she was a child. I also remembered a story that Rhiannon shared in her new Vocal River book that as a child she used to make up songs for animals and buried them when they died. I thought of how I started singing and storytelling. I remembered that music and stories were always a part of my life but it wasn’t until I had my own children that I started singing and letting stories flow out of my songs.

Listening to my friend and remembering how I started singing and storytelling helped me to connect with the authenticity of who my friend is, and of more of who I am. It’s like when someone asks you “what do you do?” And you reply, “I’m a healer,” “I’m a storyteller,” “I’m a musician”. But really how do you express that uniqueness of who you are? Yesterday I touched that through story, through hearing and feeling someone’s passion and fascination with story and song, and remembering my own.

Recently, I have received other people’s music and stories in ways that inspire me to express my voice and truer self. And what I have been discovering is this incredible and delicious freedom to express my creativity in all its unique ways and expanding that into collaborations, really it is creative play, with others.

Our hike through the woods meandered to where the Manzanita’s in all their cherry colored splendor dance and laugh amongst the orange-green Madrone. My friend stopped for a moment, and quietly began to sing, in her gentle intuitive way, singing with the wind. I felt an urge to start telling a story. At first, I held back, but then I went for it and a story about a Madrone Tree Spirit flowed through.

As we continued our walk and talk, insights flowed in and out of the conversation for both of us. It seemed to give us both greater direction. That’s the magic of nature, of co-creating with nature and others. That’s the magic of song and story, and of friendship. I’m inspired to keep creative playing!

 

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Theodore and I went into the woods with Magik the Corgi. It was during the holidays when there was a down pore of rain for many days. The trails where we usually walk were thick with moisture, the sponge like moss absorbing and holding the dampness.

HiddenTrailBeginning HiddenTrailEntry HiddenTrailMossTrunk HiddenTrailWet

We headed down one well walked trail, but Magik had something else in mind. He led us across a stream, down a deer trail, next to a hidden brook. He scooted around and behind the hill, in his way circumventing the usual path.

HiddenTrailBumMushroom

With so much rain, there was an abundance of mushrooms, and Theodore had his camera ready to capture the moment.

HiddenTrailMushroomSpirit

It was much darker and moister back here than the usual trails. The moss covered some of the oak trees from head to foot, making the holes in the trees, mystical portals to Other worlds, visible.

HiddenTrailPortal

Theodore focused on getting close-ups, seeing a world vibrant with Nature Spirits.

HiddenTrailMushSides

Magik’s nose sniffed out the trail that lead us to bones woven around branches. I wondered how long they had been there. They felt old.

ForestTrailBones

I pressed forward, Magik staying with me, Theodore lingering behind, looking through different lenses to see the richness, and mystery of this place.

HiddenTrailSingleShroon

Magik and I stopped to look at a grove tree, one that was a single tree once and probably very large, an ancient tree, now hollow in its center yet branching out with children and grandchildren around it.

HiddenTrailGrove

I wondered how far the trail would go before it got too thick, and entangled with poison oak for us to explore any further.

HiddenTrailFace

Ahead we saw it, this majestic old Oak covered with moss. I sat at the bottom and began to Sound Heal. Magik was out of sorts that day. Maybe it was all the busy-ness of the holidays, but he was eating every single bay nut he could sniff out in a frenetic sort of way. He finally settled at the bottom of the tree and surrendered to the earth as I sounded for him, sweeping hand movements gently caressing his soul.

HiddenTrailM&Me

It wasn’t until we got home and looked at the photos that I saw the creature sitting near the top of the oak, like a Guardian of the Oak or the woods, hunched over, four legs and wings. It is easy to let my imagination soar with images of moss, leaves, mushrooms and trees.

HiddenTrailSoundGuardian

Magik gifted me that day by receiving a Sound Healing session in the woods. For the adventurer of the heart, I offer Sound Healing Hikes, individual Sound Healing Sessions in the woods. Magik is not the only client who enjoys them. Although I have to say he gives me a pretty good testimonial with his joyous, spirited smile.

HiddenTrailMSmile

Interested in a unique experience, a Sound Healing Hike, a Sound Healing Session in the woods? Email me for costs and details: Soundhealher@comcast.net.

HiddenTrailGuardian

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The last few experiences I have had in nature have shown me how when I let go of my day-to-day life, suspend it, and allow myself to commune with nature that I start to see through different eyes. Recently, Magik and I went for a long walk in the woods. We live in Northern California, so the forest is mostly Bay Laurel’s and Oak, with patches of Madrone and Manzanita. I entered the forest with the intention that I would pay attention to detail. I entered the forest as though I was entering my own safe place, as though the entire forest was my home. As I walked, I paid close attention to the light shimmering between and on leaves, and the substance, the shadows. I listened for the voice of the forest. I touched this leaf, that rock and mentally acknowledged their beauty. I took time to walk slowly and to stop and pause, to look and listen, feel and sense. In these moments I really feel a communication between me and the forest. Again I notice when I enter the forest how the wind kicks up and the leaves quiver as though the forest is greeting me and it is such joy to receive its embrace. It fills me with reverence and I can’t help but feel the bounty of this relationship I have with nature. It is exquisite.

Photograph © 2012 Theodore Herzberg

Magik and I meandered up a hill to the very top until we entered a grove of Madrone and Manzanita. They are unique trees to me. There presence is different from that of oak and bay laurel or other trees. The richness of their color speaks to me. I feel a strength from Madrone and a creativity from Manzanita. I especially enjoy the way Manzanita branches twist and dance without movement.

Photograph © 2012 Theodore Herzberg

Magik and I made our way to an ancient one Grandmother Madrone. I sat with her for a while and sound healed, sang from my heart. I happened to have a rose quartz crystal with me, so we sang together. There was a gentle energy, one of healing and tenderness. From this place it was easy to let go of my daily and world concerns, and just be in this oneness with the trees and the earth. Singing with the trees transports me into a liminal place, a place between worlds, where boundaries blur and I can more than feel, I can be the oneness with the trees and the earth.

Photograph © 2012 Theodore Herzberg

When I was finished singing, on cue as always Magik begs for his treat. He is silent and reverent while I sing and connect with nature, but the minute I stop singing, he figures that’s his cue for a treat. Smile.

Photograph © 2012 Theodore Herzberg

We thanked the Madrone and the Deva and nature spirits of this place and off we went heading home. It was on the walk home that I noticed I was seeing through different eyes.

Photograph © 2012 Theodore Herzberg

I noticed an old Oak that I had not noticed before on my walks. I stopped and touched it and connected with it, receiving some ideas for meditative work that could allow me to work through an issue I was dealing with more creatively and expansively. I thanked the Oak and its Deva, and asked for a piece of bark so that it would be easier for me to connect with the Oak meditatively when I wanted to work with it. There were many pieces on the ground so I chose one and thanked it.

Photograph © 2012 Theodore Herzberg

On the way down the hill, again we stopped. Magik and I have this understanding, sometimes his nose will take him off the path into delicious smells he wants to explore, so I will stop and wait while he explores. He does the same with me. When I feel called to connect with a tree or rock, Magik will sit and wait until I am done. Such was the case near the end of our walk. To my right I sensed something. I looked at this oak tree through my renewed eyes and felt a presence. I acknowledged it and sang to it. My way of saying “I see you seeing me”.

Photograph © 2012 Theodore Herzberg

As we continued our walk to the car I pondered how singing with nature (which is my way of letting go of the “yamma-yamma” and entering that oneness with nature) allowed me to see through different eyes. I saw things that I would not normally see or sense in nature if I was preoccupied in my head. Also One-ing with nature allowed me to see the issue I was working on more clearly. What a gift!

Photograph © 2012 Theodore Herzberg

Meditation:

Go into a favorite spot in nature on a day when you have a lot of time, no other commitments, so that you can really let go.

When you enter the forest, allow yourself to enter like you are Coming Home — as though you have been away on a trip and you have come back home, and now you are reconnecting with everything in your home. So you walk slowly with intention, paying attention to detail. You notice that spray of leaf, or the hardness of this rock, or the light and shadow of the leaves and trees. Open yourself to seeing what you normally don’t see when walking quickly through the woods.

Then go to a place that is sacred or safe to you, and as you enter this place find a spot where you want to sit. Maybe it is against this tree, or on a fallen trunk, or on some moss. Find a place that feels safe and good. Then start to connect with nature. Maybe it is through breath — where you enter a meditative state through breathing. Or maybe it is through closing your eyes until they are partly shut, and you look through the haze of your lashes, allowing your focus to blur until the leaves, the trees all seem to become one haze. – Or maybe you tone or sing. For me, singing without words, from my heart and soul helps me to enter the oneness with nature.

Let yourself be there for a while, you probably won’t sense time, but let yourself be there awhile. Let thoughts and feelings come and go. Maybe you have an issue or a question about your personal life, or about someone you love and care about, or maybe an issue in the world that you would like to see resolved. Bring that in and ask for clarity and guidance or insight and healing. Be creative with it. And then allow yourself to receive, knowing that you are receiving in this moment even though you may not hear the answer, know you are receiving.

When you feel complete you may feel a desire to thank this place and those that helped. Please do. Nature responds to loving kindness and thankfulness. Make sure to ground with your breath, maybe touch the palm of your hand to your heart or brow or solar plexus. Breathe in and breathe out to ground more fully.

As you walk back to your car, or home, give attention again to your surroundings, to this rock, this tree, this shadow, this light. Give attention when you go back into your life, for insights will surely come. It’s important for us to recognize and acknowledge them when they do show up, however subtle or profound they may be, and most of all have fun!

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