Sunday, August 19, 2007

Dancing For the Mother Bear

Tuesday August 14, 2007 (Broadoak, Dorset)

In the dark warm yurt, the drum beat its insistent heart beat. I stood in a green space, a grassy circle amongst the trees. There, between two dark trees was a darker space, a tunnel or cave. I bent down and edged in.

It was so dark, so very dark. I reached out and touched the walls, trailing my fingers to guide me. I put down each foot purposefully, splaying out my toes, the better to steady myself in case the floor fell away beneath me.

The black turned to dark treacle brown, then lighter, to amber as I moved forward. Ahead of me I saw a yellow-orange flickering light, brilliant, moving and inviting.

It was a huge fire. It threw dancing shadows across the clearing in the woods, bronzing the trees that watched. Amongst the flames, shadows flickered and, as my eyes grew used to the light, I saw that they were moving figures.

But I was looking for something else and I moved through them to the other side. There she was, big, old and dark, sitting against an ancient tree. Her stillness an invitation to come closer.

I knelt beside the great mother bear as she sat watching the dancers. Slowly, I crept forward until I could smell her and reached out to tentatively touch her fur. It was so warm.

Silently she bade me rest against her, and moved to hold me there by placing her great heavy paw across my bowed shoulders. I breathed deeply and was still.

Her fur was rough against my wet cheek. I felt rather than heard her heartbeat, and knew the undulations of her breathing through the rise and fall of her chest against my body.

As I rested there, into my mind came a thought.

“Love is what is needed. Offer love and comfort to others. Allow yourself to receive the love and comfort of others. It is a gift that they want to give.”

I felt a load lift. Reluctantly I moved away from her, turned and saw that the figures dancing round the fire were young bears. I turned back to her as though to ask permission and receiving it, threw myself energetically into the dance.

We danced round and round, capering and twirling, weaving in and out of each other as we circled the swirling fire. The dance was joyful yet majestic , a speeding procession, full of reverence.

The dark sky, spangled with stars, the slither of a new moon gleaming down upon us, began to lighten. Dawn was a short dance away. I stepped out of the circle, stood an bowed to the dancers and to the great mother bear watching and turned to go.

I scrabbled through the dark tunnel, my paws scratching against the shifting soil and hard rocks. Emerging at the other end, I shook the dust and mud from my fur and stood up on my hind legs, passed through the tree gateway and into the warm, dark yurt in which I was sitting.

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