Monday, September 29, 2008

Memoir - The Owl

Once upon a time my husband came home with a dead owl in the trunk of his car. He and my daughter were driving home from Oklahoma when Charlie saw this huge owl lying on the side of the road. He couldn’t just let it lie there- it seemed wrong – sacrilegious somehow. He believed that I’d know what to do with it.

It was amazingly beautiful - soft, white and silvery brown feathers, cloaking a large solid body—about the size of a six month old baby. Part of me wanted to keep it. I wanted to own the power and mystery of the owl by owning its feathers, its powerful claws. But I knew it was wrong.

I called a friend who attended sweat lodges with a Native shaman. I got his number...
“Hello Rob. You don’t know me but my good friend Susan gave me your name. She knows you from the sweat lodges.” Having established our kinship, I explained the situation.

“Yes, I will help you. I’m not part of the Owl Clan but can receive this owl from you and relay it to the people who will take proper care of her. Have a silk scarf to wrap the owl in. I will bring the other necessities. See you tomorrow.”

I’d thought we would just give him the owl. Now there were “necessities” involved. Mmmm.

When Rob arrives at our home we go out into the back yard. The early fall garden is declining but still green with comfrey and lemon balm under the clear blue Colorado sky.
Alana and I sit on the cool grass, facing Rob, as Charlie retrieves the owl from the shed. Rob had instructed Charlie to pick up the owl with the old gaudy yellow silk scarf between the owl and his hands before joining us.

Rob burns some sage on a coal, in a sooty sea shell. He prayerfully chants for a few minutes in his Native language. While he chants he smudges us, then the owl, then himself with the pungent smoke.

He hands us gifts in exchange for the owl – a silver thunderbird token from an Eagle headdress that had recently been decommissioned in a ritual fire; and a pouch of tobacco. As instructed, Charlie offers the owl to Rob’s hands then Rob returns it back to Charlie, repeating this movement three times Finally Rob keeps the owl and wraps it up in the silk and then places it carefully in a cloth duffel bag to carry her in, as he goes back to the mountains.

“I’ll be sure to follow the proper ceremony and bring her to the Owl people. Thank you for honoring her. This ceremony should protect you from any negative consequences of the owl,” Rob says as he leaves.

The owl body was gone now. The mysterious feminine medicine of the owl has continued to steadily wax and wane in my life, like the moon. I have seen her cousin, the small burrowing owl, hunting amongst the dessert brush at twilight. I still hear owl song through my bedroom window in the darkness. Today it was just at sunrise.

No comments: