On Sunday some friends and I went down to the river to drum for the waters; a global event of unified drum prayers. Immediately on entering the field I came upon the fully intact wing of a Falcon and noticed two young cows minding their own business in the upper corner. Falcon in Shamanism is symbolic of Visionary Wisdom, Success, Victory, Leadership, Authority and Freedom.
It was one of those days where the sky was grey and still there is a certain luminosity. There were a few boats moored up and some friendly dogs came to greet us to scrounge a fuss, not that any of us needed any persuading.
So as not to annoy the boaters too much we settled at the other corner of the field and found a nice spot in the centre of three large and magnificent horse chestnut trees. A grasshopper decided to explore the terrain of my raincoat as amidst the elements we set up our altar, a mixture of feathers, stones, flowers, the gifted wing, offerings to the land and incense which took a while to light as the wind played games with the lighter, but we managed it in the end.
My dear friend Lyndz runs Sacred Song Circles and has the most beautiful, sweet voice. We started drumming and singing and as the wind carried our heart song through the field and across the river, the young cows started to get curious.
It was a bit like those ninja cats videos. Every time we looked up they’d be a little closer. Watching, listening yet completely still until the flies got too annoying and they’d have a swish of their tail. Soon they were close up and we realised they were actually two young bullocks, with yellow tags on their ears and their horns removed. One of them stayed out of sight behind the tree, the other looking on with his big soft eyes.
I’d had a similar experience before in Devon whilst on a Shamanic Healing Retreat. I’d taken my guitar for a walk and found an old fallen tree near a brook, where I’d sit and practice, well away from the other campers. I’d not long had the guitar and didn’t want anyone to hear me make bum notes. It’s funny that my first ever audience was two cows! They stood very still and listened and when I played very gently they’d take a step forward, leaning their heads in trying to hear. They didn’t seem to care about the “dup dup” noises when my fingers didn’t quite land on the right strings.
In Shamanism, the vibration of sound is often used to help release energy that we have suppressed through shame, guilt or fear. As the young bullock before us listened intently to our song and the rhythmic beats of our drums, a tear fell from his eye. Lynette and I both remarked at the same time, “Did you just see a tear?” Then the flood gates opened and tears started pouring from his big cow eyes. It was the most profound moment and as I witnessed his release, my eyes too welled up and my Heart ached in recognition. I realise now as a child I often cried like a cow. Tears flowing, with no outward signs of wailing or distress, yet the eyes revealed the love and pain trapped within. Communication is so much more than words.
Let us remember that animals have SOULs too. Animals feel just as we do. I can only try to imagine what it’s like to be tagged, have your horns sawn off and your Spirit broken and be kept confined to a small field, however lovely that field is. Maybe in this last year we have had a glimpse of what it’s like to be a cow, to be “restricted for our own good”. To have the “fence” of our field gradually made smaller. To have our Spirit broken little by little. I wonder how long it will be before those in authority try to tag us.. Oh wait. It’s already happening. Not with yellow tags but barcodes and track and trace apps…
We continued playing and singing, now directly to him. When his tears were shed he sat down and continued to watch us. When we finished drumming he came and gave Lyndz a nuzzle. I guess that’s a cow cuddle. Then we found a shallow spot to enter the water as our cow friend had a little rummage with his nose through our belongings. In we got for a paddle, gasping as the cool water awakened our nervous systems and brightened our eyes. With trousers hoiked up (not quite far enough it turned out), Sacred chants were still arising up as the stones of the riverbed below gently worked the reflexology points on our feet.
“The river is flowing, flowing and growing
The river is flowing down to the sea
Mother carry me
Your child I will always be
Mother carry me
Down to the sea”
It is in these moments of reverence and beauty that I feel most alive.
Here’s a lovely version of the chant we were singing in the river if you want to learn it or listen..
A red kite circled above us and settled in a sycamore tree. He too left us gifts of his feathers which we were excited to find along the trail on the way out. Red Kite is linked with gentleness, grace, mediumship and is Sacred to the Goddess Isis. These feathers a beautiful reminder to let go in the moment, to allow whatever needs to flow through us its movement, just like the young bullock did in response to our Heartfelt sounds and just like the river constantly flows with its undulating currents.
“Music is the language of the soul; and for two people of different nations or races (or species!) to unite, there is no better means than music.”Hazrat Inayat Kahn
I’ve had many moments like this with creatures where we have locked eyes and there has been some kind of silent recognition of the same life force flowing through us. A communication beyond words that emanates from the Heart and through the eyes.
In Spain I rescued a little dragonfly that had got stuck in spider web. I stumbled across him while out collecting flowers for Puja (a thanksgiving ceremony). I managed to get him untangled and he sat on my finger looking straight at me, his little mouth moving like he was talking to me and thanking me. Although I heard no sound I understood. This moment was precious and probably only a few seconds but it seemed like an age. Presence does that. It expands time.
Another time I was Meditating outside, sat on a crazy paved, stone seat that had been built into the side of the mountain, overlooking the valley. On opening my eyes the tiniest grey mouse popped up through one of the cracks. We caught eyes and both jumped; both as shocked to see each other! It was hilarious.
You might think there is no music involved here, only Silence, yet it is the Silence that carries the Wisdom of the Heart through ones eyes as wordless expression, revealing more in one instant than a thousand words can convey in a lifetime. The Presence of Silence is Harmony resonating at its very root. As you learn to listen, the Silence within becomes louder and you find yourSelf flowing in another river. The river of Grace. Silence is the song of Grace.
May you see beyond words to the Truth behind them and may you find freedom beyond the surface of your mind. May you be free of fear and grieve well, for in the acceptance and relinquishing of the past you will make room for a brighter future. May you See the Sacredness of all of life’s creations and our commonality, our existence on this Earth and may this remembrance guide your Vision.
Next time you see a cow, maybe you will understand a little of why some cultures revere them as Sacred.