I wake in the night to the voices of coyotes yip yipping outside.
The small casita where I am staying in Taos, New Mexico, is silent and dark, just a trickle of clouded moonlight seeping through curtained windows. The motorized whirl of the heater and hum of the refrigerator are both hushed, and for a few minutes the silvery darkness that enfolds me is rich and deep. Curled up in bed, hearing the canids, I am thrilled as a child on Christmas morning.
From the sound of their voices, the shaggy wild ones are near, probably across the road in the open field near the little river, laughing and singing at the veiled, half-torn moon. For a moment I am tempted to throw back the covers and rise, to open the door and step outside to hear them better, but the gravity of the warm bed holds me fast and I simply lie there listening. Smiling. Feeling my heart unfurl its wide, feathered wings.
Driven out of my coastal California cottage by a familiar autumnal wanderlust, a lingering blue sadness, and the gentle prodding of a supportive mate who often recognizes my signs and symptoms better than I do, I have traveled to New Mexico. Heeding the strange tug and deep yearning to be among the golden cottonwoods, the fragrant piñon and sage at the foot of Taos Mountain, I’ve returned to this special place where I have resided twice previously in my life. It is a soulscape that brings me deeply alive, a world of pastel-hued earth and wide turquoise sky that remains forever lodged in my bones like an ancient chant. When I have been away too long, like some migratory impulse in my wild soul or a powerful spirit that beckons, I need to return to walk, sleep and dream at the foot of The Mountain.
There is nothing more sacred than a mountain.
I read those words somewhere years ago and they have lingered with me ever since. Here, the sentinel of Taos Mountain, protected and largely inaccessible on native pueblo land—its summit newly crowned with snow from the days of rain since my arrival, and now shrouded enigmatically in shifting clouds—looms over the town. Its presence is inescapable; a quietly grounding force that draws eyes, hearts, and souls toward its mystery.
Sacred mountain. Warm casita. Wild, furry feet singing outside in the dark. Utterly brilliant, this.
I am blessed to be staying at the home of my dear friend who owns Casa Gallina, an artisan inn. The cluster of charmingly rustic, beautifully furnished adobe casitas is set amid gardens and an orchard on the rural west side of town. It is a handcrafted, alluring sanctuary featuring the work of local artists, where guests are greeted with a basket of freshly gathered eggs from the free-roaming hens (gallina is Spanish for “hen”), and Richard’s inimitable style of being a host with heart. Everything at Casa Gallina urges visitors to slow down, to appreciate life and the beauty of Taos. My friend has a true dedication to eco-friendly and organic products, with a diligent eye to the sustainable and local, and these values mirror my own. It feels like no detail is overlooked here, and there is little that could warm my heart more than being in the welcoming home of a fellow Soul Artist.
Except maybe listening to the coyotes yipping at a cracked pearl of moon.
It is a sound that I always associate with dear old, dusty and muddy Taos. Both times that I dwelt here—first in the 90’s in a shaman’s adobe tower on the sage-strewn mesa, and years later in a jewel box casita on the Rio Grande del Rancho—the canids were a frequent and welcome presence in my life. I cannot count the nights I lay in my bed and listened to them laughing and serenading the darkness.
The Trickster in native legends, Coyote reminds me to not take it all so damn seriously. Always a welcome reminder for one who sometimes carries the weight of the world on his shoulders.
The feral ones near, hearing them again, feeds my own wild soul. Like birdsong, the susurrus of wind in the pines, or the high and low notes of a musical mountain stream, they are part of the song of the world—the one we can easily hear if we’re paying attention. Almost none of us can catch the other song anymore, the deep music—the silent, wordless rejoicing of the animate earth singing, particularly at night and at dawn. The noise of the modern world is too great and we have shuttered our hearts, while simultaneously senses are dulled by the ongoing manmade commotion. Always I am grateful for the more easily heard wild voices, calling me home to myself.
Many times I have written of our innate connection to place, how we are never apart from our environment but rather a part of. Nothing is separate. For better or worse, we shape and are shaped by our surroundings, which reflect and also draw something forth within us. On the deepest level, when we are in harmony with a locale—literally, its energetic oscillation and frequency—our souls resonate with a compatible frequency. We feel harmonious and in alignment. We are open and at ease on a deep, cellular level.
At the core of our DNA, or at the whirling level of subatomic structure, everything is light and sound. (That sounds New Age, but it’s actually Nobel Prize–winning science.)
Taos (and northern New Mexico, in general) is one of the places where I most strongly resonate and feel in tune. It is somatic: a grounded connection in bones and breath, a quiet hum of power. I feel authentically myself, an openness and expansion mirrored by the landscape—soulscape—itself. Here, I am as much a part of the natural surroundings as the old adobe houses, the pale green chamisa and fragrant sagebrush, ebony ravens with guttural voices, copper rattlesnakes, lightning-ripped thunderstorms, the shimmering aspen trees, and wild sunflowers. Or those laughing coyotes with darkly glinting eyes.
Though my painted gypsy wagon has rolled far from this high desert plateau, it is always a blessing to return. I need to breathe and walk in a land that feels more wild than domesticated, where the song of the world can be heard, and everything sings me home to myself. A place where the power of earth and sky far outweighs the noisy impact of man and his notions of time. Body and soul are expansive here, an openness I find essential—like the pause between inhale and exhale, or the deep silence between heartbeats and stars.
I have written quite a bit on the Wild Soul (the better part of a book, actually) but lately I’ve been musing on rewilding the heart—particularly for men, who tend to place their seat of consciousness in the head rather than bodysoul or heart (much to the world’s detriment). Too I’ve been pondering the ways that we can facilitate that shift and essential awakening, particularly through cooperating with nature and learning a heart-centered attention. For when we are inspired, in tune, and receptive, the heart opens—inviting us to dance with life rather than conquer it.
In rewilding the heart, like any creature of nature, we become more authentic, passionate, embodied and free. At the same time, we draw closer to a new mythology and ancient wisdom that connects us to the larger story.
Rewilding the heart. That’s what Taos does for me. It is not a cure all, this place, but as with a beautiful meal I am feeling well fed. Lying in bed and bathed in silvery moonlight, listening to coyotes join their yipping voices to the song of the world, a smile lingers on my face. I’m deeply content and grateful to be here, immersed in this soulscape that nourishes down to the warm, bright center of my being—from which I have been estranged.
Come and dance with the Trickster, why don’t you.
Friend, I wonder, where is the place that draws and nourishes you? And how long since you have wandered there with heart and senses cast ajar? Maybe in the interest of connecting with your soul and rewilding your heart, it is time to return. To reunite with yourself.
Perhaps, if you’re lucky, the wild ones will welcome you back home under a coyote moon.