Our Partnership With Nature
Becoming a Steward of the Earth
by Cie Simurro~Thunderbird Starwoman (Part 1 of 2)
At 4 o'clock in the morning, when you are lying on your bed alone, with your eyes wide open facing the difficulties of your life, to whom or what do you turn? Whatever it is must certainly be real and solid to you. Perhaps you can feel it in your body. In the core—the centre of your being—you can feel some essence that you relate to as Life Force energy. You experience as real and tangible, the love you have felt and have given to others. Many have told me they feel the comfort of the natural world.
Whether your relationship to nature is left over from childhood, or is your current pillar of strength, your connection with the natural world gives you comfort, connects you with your instinctual self, and inspires reverence for all life. If you are closed off from its beauty, majesty, and power, you probably are not reading this, because you would not be attracted to it. If you are on the fence, but attracted, I encourage you to reclaim that primal part of yourself that has lain asleep in a drawer for years. Whether by coercion, or by the exigencies of life, you may have felt it necessary to "put away the things of a child". All children, unless severely restricted or abused, relate strongly to the natural world until they are socialized differently. Children recognize the natural order of things, with a wisdom that extends far beyond their years. Nature, and our connection to her are not childish. In fact, if you will let it, it is the doorway to a poignant and enhanced communication with all beings. Why bother? I can tell you from my own experience, that life without it will never be as rich, or as meaningful as it can be. When you "get" an animal or other totem, all the magic and possibility of life and love open. All feels possible; you feel right with the world. Hope floods in, for, in that moment, life makes sense. Huge waves of comfort embrace those who are lonely and deprived, abused and under-appreciated. How can this occur? Just determine to open yourself to it, that's all. Like water upon rock, any aperture you create for nature to enter, she will, and then you will have your own experience.
As a girl I lived in Brooklyn, New York. In summers, my mother, brother, and I, along with first cousins went either to Grandma's bungalow, a farm in upstate NY, or a family resort in the Catskill Mountains. Our fathers would come on the weekends after work. Yet, even in Brooklyn, nature prevailed. My cat Blackchief, and Tyke my parakeet, came to me from the empty lot across the street. I rode my bike by lush Italian gardens, pregnant with heavy, ripe tomatoes and grapevines. Trees sprouted in the cracks of the sidewalks. At the bungalow, I learned to be respectful of growing things. The path to the country store was bordered by poison ivy. The older cousins pilfered sweet, golden corn from the nearby fields, and the palpable friendship of our backyard crab apple tree received our ministrations. We conquered our fear of heights, courageously climbing her; swinging from her branches on hot summer days. We nurtured this tree with our secrets, our laughter, and our deposits in the nearby outhouse. Nature is mutually reciprocal! In the Catskills, I recapitulated some ancient recognition of what it was like to be a native scout, fell in love with the stones and streams, and enjoyed carefree time with my human and animal family. The summers were so long then...do you remember how visceral your childhood interaction with the Earth was?
Every stage of life brought a new aspect of nature into my life. After literally saving nickels and dimes for twenty years, my mother got her dream house in the country. In the 1960s I could still walk barefoot to bay beaches on Long Island's north shore. The world of salt-water and horseshoe crabs opened for me. There were fourteen undeveloped acres around our house, and though I was immersed in the requirements of intense schoolwork, chores, and social awakenings, I had my secret hideout in the woods, among the mountain laurels and oak trees.
Having my daughter brought out the child of wonder in me, as I looked at life through her eyes. When I moved back to Brooklyn, I began my healing and blessing work on the land. If New York City didn't need it, what did? I would walk by sidewalk flower gardens with joy and gratitude. Empty lots were often turned into community vegetable gardens. I imagined what NY looked like before settlers came, did honouring ceremonies at ancient sites like Shorakapuk, on the northern-most tip of Manhattan, and I called forth ancient spirits to help me bless the land. Who says cities can't have green belts? I left the corporate world, cut my salary in half, and took a job as a seasonal park ranger on Staten Island. By this time, I had already taken a few courses with Tom Brown Jr., known worldwide as The Tracker. I was practicing my shamanic wilderness skills often. When my 7-room apartment became over-run with plants, rocks, shells, and local stray dogs and cats, I began to consider moving. I was at a turning point. My Brooklyn nest had certainly been a blessing for my daughter and me. It was rent-controlled, so I could afford to use it as my home base, while meeting teachers of Earth medicine, as well as a Light and Sound master. I was able to go to wilderness or exotic areas of the world, instead of every shred of income going toward rent. Eventually however, I required more beauty on an everyday basis. I wanted to be able to walk out my door and into the woods. I moved to North Carolina.
It was also Spirit's way of getting me to "dive deeper"—a theme of my life. Have you ever considered that all you have ever been through—all the uprooting, the painful loves and losses, getting fooled—all of it has made you who you are today? Would you have willingly chosen those experiences? They are meant to illustrate patterns that may need to be illuminated. In that sense, everyone and everything in our lives is a gift. Healing or "medicine" flows through the events and circumstances of one's own life. I tell my students that the curriculum of our own lives is the framework for following our life paths. Through current circumstances, Life will always bring you the challenges which, once mastered, bring wholeness. By applying such soul qualities as cooperation, self-knowledge, faith, understanding, fellowship, and patience in each area of our lives, we create soul growth. Life is all about relationship. First, with ourselves, then our intimates, followed by community, the Earth, and on to the Universe(s), of which we are an integral part. Physics and mathematics are truly universal languages. The plant understands when to bud or open according to the mathematical progression of returning light. Each species vibrates in a certain band of hertz, though there is individualization within that band. Every single thing is made up of the same "stuff"—call it ectoplasm, chi, or life force energy—we are all connected through the unified field. This field is LOVE. We are all one in love, the most dynamic force in the Universe. How will you use it? [Watch for Part 2 in our January/February 2007 issue.]
In the tradition of the grandmothers, like her mother's mother's mother, who was the healing woman of her village in Sicily. Cie Simurro~Thunderbird Starwoman, has been a healer all her adult life. She has been a writer and teacher of ancient wisdom for the past 33 years. She does individual healing sessions, and trains people in shamanic practice, light work, joyous empowerment, and earth stewardship. Known affectionately as Lady of the Beasts she does healing sessions for pets and/or their humans. Long-distance sessions available. If you want healing, training, or a Totems reading, call (413) 625-0385 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For Cie's totems book, Stewards of the Earth: An Ecology of Love, send a postal money order for USD$24.00 ($20 + $4 s&h) to PO Box 295, Shelburne Falls, MA, 01370, USA. She also has monthly totems articles on www.wisdom-magazine.com.