One of my chickens stepped in front of me on Sunday, panting, wings semi-extended, clearly uncomfortable. Heat exhaustion. We splashed her hearty winter feathers with cold water, and got her into the shade. Energetically, the heat exhausts me too. The summer's long days and humid beauty hang on me like a cloak. I hide behind it, shield myself from the blaring light of July, from the summer people. I love the heat, but only when I am alone, drenched in her, digging deep into her wisdom. I find moments with tea and bathing, but it's not the same as in Winter. My children bicker, and give up on playing outside. The baby began to crawl, tearing through anything not nailed down--exploring, curious, ravenous for extremely tiny things that can kill him. I must be diligent and extroverted in my home. Meh, it is not my nature, but I'm not a monster. I adapt and shine and extrovert.
Midsummer and midwinter feel the same to me. Inward journeys with shadow and light. Introspective, deep. What needs tending? I ask myself. What needs nurturing? What does self-care look like right now? It is different in the different cycles of the year, month and even day. My evening care is much different than my morning. My winter care is much different than my summer. Right now, my self-care looks like cleaning out closets, sparse meals with juicy sticky fruit, afternoon naps with the baby when I sneak them in, pulling weeds in the early morning, and reading snippets of books I love. I take a moment by the windows watching the butterflies drink from my Echinacea. Five minutes with a cup of tea and Women who Run With Wolves, or 78 Degrees of Wisdom. I refound the General Wolf Rules of Life, one morning, and nodded along. It is my practice to surrender to whatever comes my way. I tend to work less with many stones in the summer, and work more intensely with one or two.
In June, I dreamt for three consecutive nights about Septarian, the beautiful stone that combines the energies of calcite and aragonite and dead sea creatures. I had no Septarian, but Spirit nudged gently. My Instagram feed showed three Septarians in one day, and an advertisement shows up on every website I click on featuring Septarian. Sure, there are logarithms, and techy bullshit that makes that happen, but I bite. I ordered one from my favorite on-line shop.
She looks like a dragon egg and I feel blown open by her energy, which is simultaneously grounding and cosmic. Through my work with Pixie's Earth Medicine school, I journey with her to the Lower World, and meet her as a goddess wrapped in black. Her energy came to me just as the energy of the beautiful Turkey Vulture entered as well. I no longer read books written by other people and their experiences with stones, I have been making my own notes and observations. As the Septarian fell into my receptive palm, I saw the shadow of the Great Mother, Turkey Vulture. She could be a black Dragon, I think, as I watch her circle above the cornfield. Could they be intricately tied? And in the weeks that followed, two large vulture feathers crossed my path, literally sitting in the middle of the road to my house.
Last year, when we moved here, the vultures appeared. Thirty or forty of them resting on the hay bales down the street, wings outstretched like my heat-exhausted hens. It was the first time I ever worked with Vulture Medicine, and I shied away from it. Vulture? Really? I'd rather work with Owl, or Hawk, or Lion, something less, uh, creepy. As I shied away, the vultures stopped congrugating at the dead tree. My teacher Pixie often says, "If you don't honor the medicine, it will go away."
I missed the vultures when they left. I searched for them constantly, pointing them out way off in the distance to the children. I told the young ones in our kids meditation circle the story of Vulture. Personally, I started intensely meditating on Mother Vulture and her role. How valuable, important, and amazing a creature the Vulture is. When she appeared again this summer, I was ready for her energy, dark and powerful as it is. I was ready to release what was not serving. Again and again, as many times as necessary.This time around, I ask Vulture to help me honor, release and transmute, so I don't have to do this particular bloody work again.
Releasing. Transmuting. Mothering the self. These are the medicine of Vulture, and now, perhaps, Septarian. As for me, Septarian and Vulture will be intertwined. We get lost, us caregivers, in the mothering of every one and every thing else in our lives. When we ask for our medicine to come, whatever shape that may be, we open to our own truth and comfort. We find self-care through the lessons of that medicine. We must find these moments in extreme heat and extreme cold to search within us for a safe haven, a place to rest our weary spirits and do the work of caring for our souls.