In the morning quiet of the cottage, I sat in the high backed French armchair turned to face my small altar in the living room, lit with a golden beeswax pillar and a flickering tea light in a purple and gold glass holder.
In its current incarnation, the altar is a small, hand carved wooden bookshelf upon which I have placed objects and small treasures, mostly gathered in nature, that represent my spiritual journey. Some of these include: a large quartz crystal, a bundle of dried resinous sagebrush from New Mexico, a bear claw necklace from a Native American medicine man, an elk hide rattle, a black curvaceous goddess figurine, the tattered, tawny wing of an owl, a special portrait made from overlapping images, a stag’s horn amulet, and an image of a naked man in the desert throwing his clothes high into the air. Currently, this little shrine represents my soul’s path as “a healer who writes,” and thus holds books as well, a relatively new addition.
Each morning, after I step out to greet the day with soles bare upon the earth and hands placed on the rough grey bark of the Grandmother Monterey cypress, offering my prayers and gratitude, I return indoors and sit facing this altar, quietly meditating, listening inwardly, and journeying. I catch the faint, honey like fragrance from the golden pillar and appreciate its warm glow of gentle illumination—a reminder to shine my own light from within.
Also on the altar sits a deck of divination cards called the Shaman’s Oracle, gifted to me some years ago by my dear friend in England, a magical and spooky soul. Very loosely based upon the occult Tarot (though smaller in number of actual cards, and an absence of Major and Minor Arcana), the pictographs of this deck are taken from prehistoric cave paintings, and the “suits” are comprised of Spirits, Ancestors, Dancers, Hunters, and Shamans. In general, divination cards are used with the purpose that whatever card is drawn (or dealt) holds revelatory insight, and dozens of such decks exists, new versions appearing constantly.
I love the timeless imagery of these particular cards, a view of the world that predates anything “occult,” when what we might now call “shamanism”—a profound connection to the spirit realms, including ancestors, animals and plants—was simply a way of life. For years I have enjoyed this deck, occasionally drawing a card when I felt the need for a bit of insight or clarification in my life, and then interpreting the meaning of whatever image surfaced in response to my query. In the past months, a period of deep healing and seeking, I have turned repeatedly to the Shaman’s Oracle, drawing one or more whilst holding a question in my mind and heart.
As I sat with a cup of tea and faced the flickering candles and familiar objects on my altar, as I contemplated some of the events of the past week and begin to prepare to depart this weekend for another healing retreat in the northern California redwoods, I reached out for the cards. Shuffling them, feeling the familiar heft of the deck in my hands, their glossy surface and sturdiness, I closed my eyes and gently framed my request, help me understand where I am now.
Turning over the card that seemed to pause in my hand, as if it exerted some subtle gravity and pull, I smiled at the familiar image of the Hunter of Vision. This card has turned up probably more than any other in the past weeks, and I am now well familiar with its message:
“I am the Hunter of Vision. Wherever I walk, wherever my arrow falls, I show the way toward a complete understanding of the world and the place of other within it. My sight is clear and far-reaching, and I understand truth and reconcile others to it, even when it is hard to accept. I seek the most profound values of life and the deepest awareness of spiritual truth. With me at your side you will see more clearly and understand what further questions you need to ask.”
We all need vision. Without it, we wander lost in the thickets and trance of life. Yet few of us have a deeper knowing or clear-sighted certainty that helps us find the truth and make decisions about the path—or which direction to follow when we are off of it. [Read “On the Path and Off the Trail: Finding Ourselves“] And when we are seemingly lost, or simply swept along by the details, drama, and demands of everyday life, it is difficult to find the quiet space, whether literal or metaphorical, where we might gain perspective. Sometimes what we most need is a pause, a disconnect—perhaps a weekend away for reflection, or something deeper like a “vision quest” in nature—to heed the summons of the soul and hear its direction (challenging and difficult though those directions may be).
Since spring, when I was knocked flat by my electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) and spiraled down into disability, my life has been a journey into deeper healing, along with a a profound revisioning of my work and place in the world. I have in many ways been the Hunter of Vision: seeking insight, clarity, and wise decision making from the heart and bodysoul, not simply the head.
Like a wise sage, the cards do not give direct answers; they simply help interpret the mysteries of life. As a tool, sometimes they can seem deeply puzzling, but in trying to grasp their message we arrive at a deeper understanding of our situation and our patterns. As with the cryptic Pythia at Delphi in ancient Greece, the Oracle’s response was often simply a further question. Yet spiritual tools like meditation, prayer, contemplative time in nature, or even a divination deck, can bridge us closer to those other energies that seek to guide and assist our human journey.
Holding the familiar image of the Hunter of Vision in my palm, a gentle sense of expansion and openness spread through my core, accompanied by a softening in my belly and a full, deep breath. It felt like a gentle affirmation, or a warm hand placed in the center of my back. A knowing that I am heading in the right direction with a guide at my side, even if I am totally off the track and unclear of what’s ahead.
Some of us never stop seeking, but not all who wander are lost. Soul Artists know that life is an ongoing journey of self-discovery and evolution, of searching for our unique gifts and talents, and then offering them forward as best we may. Often there is no clear trail to follow, and the only real navigational tool we have is the compass of the heart.
Friend, here’s hoping that in your own way, you will become the Hunter of Vision, finding insight and making wise decisions whenever the trail divides (in case you’re following one), while recognizing the deeper truths hidden in the mysteries of life. Or perhaps you will simply embrace the possibility that there is always an invisible guide leading you on… if only you’ll heed the soft whispers of knowing that rustle like wind in the trees.