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Posts Tagged ‘walk’

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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It’s still raining! We woke up this morning to the sound of rain and rejoiced. As many know California Governor Brown has alerted us that the California drought had reached unprecedented levels. Photos on the Internet show cracked earth in dried up reservoirs and brown grassy hills. Many fear that a drought could last many years.

When my friend and I went for a walk a few weeks ago she stopped to sing to a small pool of water. Nearby was a dried creek where there is usually a waterfall flowing this time of year. My friend told me of how she always sings to water to honor it. I believe the Celts and other cultures followed a similar tradition.

When the drought first started, people talked about praying to water, sending it gratitude and healing. Water is universal – it doesn’t matter what your spiritual or religious beliefs are we all need it, and we can all appreciate it.

With the concern of the drought and its long-term impact in our hearts and minds, Theodore, my husband and I started to be more conscious of how we use water and how to conserve it. We also went to water sources took photos and sang to them.

When we first started singing to water and more consciously appreciating it, it didn’t rain magically the next day, but we still continued to thank and bless water. Then last night, we decided to go visit a sacred place with a dried up waterfall during the twilight time. To our great delight, there was no one out walking but us.

As it got darker, we found a spot to sit and I started to sing. Magik our Corgi of course thought that was a good time to find the remnants of bay nuts and snack. I sang and danced to the Undines, the water spirits. I sang gratitude, and I sang hope. I sang imagining that all over the world people stopped what they were doing and started to sing to water, appreciating it, thanking it, loving it. I sang until my heart felt like it released a deep longing into realization, then we walked home. As the woods got darker, I felt a calm and reassurance. We rounded the bend, crossed a bridge and entered a mist. I felt moisture press against my cheeks for a moment then we walked through what felt like a veil and headed back home.

To our delight, this morning we woke up to the rain falling, and after we got up it still continued to rain! We decided to go walk in the rain and celebrate. We weren’t the only ones. Others had a similar idea. We saw families, and friends, dogs and their keepers, salamanders and birds, all enjoying and celebrating the rain in their own, unique ways. I don’t want to always wait for the absence of something to feel gratitude for it, but I won’t miss the opportunity to deepen my gratitude and appreciation for water again.

copyright 2014 Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved.

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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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Red Rock is a huge outcrop of red jasper rock amidst trails and hills. It’s a place I go to sound heal. The walk there allows me to think and feel, releasing my thoughts and feelings, aware of my breath, and slowly letting myself attune to and align with the beauty around me. 

There is a trail of crushed red jasper that circles the Red Rock. Before I enter the space I always take a moment to feel the reverence of this place and think of the people who have passed this way before me, days, weeks, years, or lifetimes. My corgi, Magik usually beats me to the slab of stone that makes a comfy seat. Magik settle’s in, ears pricked up at the slightest sound, bird or hiker. I look out to swaying grasses, shadowed hills with secret stories and white billowy clouds in an aquamarine sky. 

Connected to the land, one hand on the red jasper, one on my heart I close my eyes and sing. The wind kicks up, a whir of wings, the sun comes out from behind clouds and illuminates my voice. The earth stirs and I feel the presence of an ancient, Native woman, sitting on this spirit rock, rocking in rhythm to my singing. Our communion is in song. Our communion is with the oneness of the sky, the earth, the fire of the sun and the water deep in the crevices of the earth.

I sing, moving my hands like prayers in the wind. The old Native woman smiles. I hear a hiker walk by, Magik woofs, and I am back in the present moment, only the wind and the crunch of stones remain. The sun radiates its warmth in me. I sigh and sit in silence, breathing in the elements, feeling the oneness and the joy.

Before I leave, I thank this place and I breathe the experience deep into me, so that when I am away from nature or feel stressed out I can come visit this place in my imagination. Imagine the sun filling me with its reassuring warmth, the red rock, sturdy, steady and grounding beneath me, the old Native woman smiling, as I sing to the beat of birds wings and the swaying of the tall grasses. No sooner do I touch, taste, feel and smell this place in my imagination than I am there, feeling the harmony and peace.

The presence and alliance with nature holds many gifts and empowerments. 

Red Rock Blessings, 

Vlatka

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©2012 Vlatka Herzberg

Sienna ran through the forest, deeper and deeper still, sprinting like a deer on the run. She felt the dampness of the mist cloak her, hiding her from the world she left behind. She bent over to catch her breath and noticed a gate, rusted, old, hanging onto its last hinge. Sienna shoved it and it creaked with complaints of being still for far too long. She tiptoed into this hallowed place, aware that she was not alone. Eyes were everywhere watching her. She was afraid to move in case she stepped on someone. “Who goes there?” Amidst the ferns and roots, Sienna saw a large face, moss-covered nose, fern hair, dark slit for one eye, an old tree trunk for the other, roots reaching out stretching, digging deep into earth, searching for light. “It’s I, Sienna.” she muttered. She closed her eyes part way so that she could see through the haze of lashes, soft vision, and then she saw him, or at least she thought it was a him. She caught her breath and hesitated. He smiled. “Fear not child of the forest. You are welcome here.”

Sienna looked around and saw more faces looking at her. “I have wandered into the woods many times, and have never found this place or seen you.” He Who Watches Without Being Seen laughed. “We are seen when we choose.”  “Why today?” Sienna asked. “Why not?” he smiled. “Have you seen the wind dance and the trees laugh?” he asked. “Only in this sanctuary, not in my world. People have forgotten how to dance with the wind and laugh with the trees.”  “Will you?” “Of course.” she said and instantly the wind twirled around her, taking her by the hand. They danced with a fervor, spinning wildly out of control, until Sienna fell to the ground laughing, and the trees laughed with her too.

He Who Watches rumbled with laughter. “What’s so funny?” asked Stone Face. Sienna stopped laughing and looked into Dry Creek. Shrouded by leaves, was a face, oh so smooth, delicate lines for eyes and nose, and a just so mouth, as though someone had brushed it on. “Life.” said Sienna. “Sometimes life is funny.” Stone Face blinked, blank. “Well I don’t think it’s funny. So many humans walk this way and all they see is hard rocks, wet water and lots of green. Seldom do they stop and see what isn’t seen.” “I’m doing it.” smiled Sienna. “Humph.” grumbled the stone. “I know that the stones talk, the wind sings and that when I walk through the forest I am seen.” said Sienna. “What does one person matter?” grumbled Stone Face. “I am not only one. There are many.” “Where?” asked Stone Face. “Here and there, and everywhere and that matters. Sienna smiled. “Humph.” A twig snapped. Stone Face froze.

Leaves rustled, a deer approached. Sienna turned and gazed deep into the deer’s eyes. The deer blinked and shape shifted into a tall woman with a gentle, deer like face, with large, black doe eyes, and soft, long deer like ears. She swept across the creek and gently laid her hand on Sienna’s shoulder. “You have heard our call, and have come.” “Of course.” said Sienna. “Shall we?” asked Deer Woman. “There is a whole Other World waiting to explore.” Sienna followed. Deer Woman guided  her towards a hollow tree trunk, and began to step into it. “Wait.” said Sienna. Deer Woman looked deep into Sienna. Her eyes moistened with tenderness. “See with more than your eyes.” she suggested. Sienna took a deep breath and let go of things needing to be the way she thought they ought to be, and then she really could see. “It’s a portal.” she exclaimed. Deer Woman nodded, extended her hand. Sienna took it gratefully. Together they stepped out of one world and into another.

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Photograph © 2012 Vlatka Herzberg

Magik and I went for a walk in the woods yesterday. When he starts to run around the house in circles I know it’s time for a long hike. So I chose a longer path that would work us both out. Part way through he was lagging behind and I wondered where all the energy went, but I think he just wanted to sniff and sniff some more. Eventually we made it to the top of the hill and I stopped to soak in the light, the warmth, the breeze and sing to the trees.

Photograph ©  2012 Vlatka Herzberg

Magik of course waited patiently. When I was done, we continued our walk, easier now because it leveled off, so again I gave more attention to the details of my surroundings. To my delight we found branches and feathers. Hands full of twig, feather and stone, hair mussed up by the wind I encountered an athlete and his golden retriever. Judging by his response to me, I must have appeared as some sort of wild woods woman. Magik and I scooted out-of-the-way, and runner and dog sprinted by. Shortly after, I found a spot where Magik and I could rest, thinking that the runner was probably a good ways away, and I could sing to my heart’s delight.

Photograph © 2012 Vlatka Herzberg

I put my crystals on the ground, rose quartz, and serephanite with its beautiful earth green color, and started to sing. Some days I come into the forest with issues in mind that I want to resolve or send healing to, sometimes they are personal issues, or concerns about loved ones, and sometimes they are global issues. This day I just wanted to be with nature. I am learning that in intimate relationships sometimes we “do” things together, and sometimes we just “be” together.

Photograph © 2012 Vlatka Herzberg

Yesterday, my being together took the expression of song and dance. I sat but my arms moved like they were dancing. As soon as I started to sing the wind bellowed. It almost knocked me over. I sang and danced my arms into the wind and it sang and danced right back. I was in full force singing and moving to the music of the forest when Magik started to growl, the faithful guard Corgi that he is. Wow. There was the runner, and his golden retriever. I stopped singing and said, “Oh, I was just singing.” He responded with, “I thought the trees were singing. Your voice carried all the way to the other side of the hill. I was running and I heard this singing, and it sounded like the trees were singing. Then I realized it was a woman’s voice.”

Photograph © 2012 Vlatka Herzberg

As he continued his run, I sat quiet, contemplating the experience, amazed that the trees and the wind had carried my voice, and that it sounded as though the forest was singing. I was quiet for a while just listening to the forest’s song, and then joined in, the two of us singing and dancing together again.

Photograph © 2012 Vlatka Herzberg

Shortly after this adventure I felt as though our outing was complete. Magik and I headed back down the trail. All the while it felt as though the trees were still singing. I don’t recall ever being so aware of the Forest’s voice. What a life changing experience! I am grateful.

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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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