Shamanic Yoga Institute


Making to Know

In my current GDE course at SFU, Holistic Approaches to Teaching and Learning, our term focus was on Self-study. We were asked to inquire about the “ecology of our being” by initiating a writer’s practice, a land practice and a maker’s practice. Greatly inspired by the Indigenous Poesis and Métissage frameworks offered through the writings of Vicki Kelly, our “living inquiry was [directed towards] finding face (identity), finding heart (passion), and finding foundation (vocation).”

During the entire process, I felt like I was gifted the accountability to deepen the work that Christine has been opening us all to whether through Medicine Wheels, Shamanic Yoga Teacher Trainings, Mastery or Mentorship. These three strands of inquiry are ever-crafted in all we are learning from her. I felt empowered and curious, and capable of holding space for the parts of old stories that needed to surface and dissolve; mostly those that towed the line of not belonging. Like many of my clay sculptures, I allowed perspective to be made and unmade. Here is a piece I wrote in response to the work of these last four months. It’s called Home.

We need the rain.

I watch the salmon at the mouth of the river
Wade in shallow channels
awaiting the rising waters
of their birth
and death

I think of them, by the thousands
called from the sea to a place that memory has released from her clutches
memory as elusive as the scent of a White Alder and Western Black Willow
Home, a stream bed where sunlight flints on granite stones
and pollywogs dart into the shadows

As they wait
salt begins to bleed out
They purge ocean
receive their last rites
in a Viaticum of water
and become river

In this new place,
I can’t catch the scent of home
There is more sky than mountain
More sand than stone
But the familiar struggle of the salmon
comforts me
I understand the fight
that keeps me from drowning
in air

I watch the fishermen in waders
line the banks
and feel the steel in my mouth

On my early morning drives into Mission
the land arrests me
into an unexpected witnessing
I watch the world wake up,
snake around corners behind semitrucks
watching sky run over water

Traffic slows me on the straight stretch over Stave River
So, I don’t miss the way
sunlight casts the underwings of the Eagles
pink in flight
How fog tangles like cotton on cattails
or the unhurried hunt of heron
who walks without wake through the reeds

As the sun rises over Mount Baker
I even hear the mountain speak,
“You don’t need an invitation.”

At the cherry oak table in the basement
I bring my hands to the work of remembering
Shapes molded of clay and silt
the stuff of erosion and decay
Here, a nest, a beggar’s bowl, a mountain
There, a spiral, the void, the path, the witness  

Later, in the salmon’s river
I place the hand-forged shapes of belonging
along the thresholds of land and water
Holding their form until the rain comes

It’s our human yearning to create
to make as a way of knowing
to echo
what the land has taught us
like the remembering
that separation is an illusion
as soluble as salt

I think of the advice of my mother
To make myself at home, wherever I am.

I watch the storm clouds roll in.

I misunderstood,
fed the story of longing
Of salmon waiting for river
Of the self waiting for permission   

Home is no place and every place
imbedded in flesh and bone
an imprint
like the growth rings in the heartwood
and the etched lines of salmon scales.

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