MEETING A NATURE SPIRIT
By Jack Allis
At the Elder & Youth Council at Deer Mountain last summer, a young boy asked the question, “Do you see spirits at Deer Mountain?” As a spiritual teacher, I often hear questions like this. People want to know what the spiritual world looks like, and what experiencing it is like. It’s very true that until you’ve experienced it, it’s very difficult to imagine it. We see the spiritual world with much more than our eyes. We experience it with our totality – body, mind, heart and spirit. And it talks a very special language that we must learn to read. It sends omens and signals constantly. Often, it speaks to us through the forces of nature, such as the wind, the rain and the sunshine, or through other animals and plants, like the eagle, the snake, sage or peyote. And often it taps us in ways we can only feel in our bodies, and which can feel very overwhelming and difficult to describe in words.
The following story recounts a recent meeting I had with a nature spirit. Its purpose is to answer that young boy’s question and to paint a picture of what one person’s experience with the spirit world is like. This doesn’t mean this is what it’s supposed to be like for everybody. Everybody’s experience is different. And please take note that an essential aspect of this experience is the relationship that existed between this spirit and me. A meeting like this is almost never a one way street. The input I had was vital to the outcome. Much of this does take time and practice to learn.
I was working on building our chicken coop at Bear Paw Meadow. Bear Paw is very sacred land, high in the remote mountains of north-central California, where a group of us are building a sustainable community with spring water and solar power. It was a sunny, breezy spring day, with the hint of a chill in the air. The chicken coop is being built from the ruins of an old log cabin, at the edge of the meadow, in the shade of a spectacular old grandfather oak tree, and adjacent to a boggy muddy area, where water seeps up from the Earth. This is where we pump our water. Next to this bog is some of the most fertile land at the meadow.
For several days I had been noticing that when I worked at a certain spot, the wind always blew particularly hard and I got cold. It seemed to pierce right through me. This spot was inside a part of the cabin that had been almost totally destroyed. Most of the siding and half the roof had blown off and the door frame was empty. The old oak tree was right outside the empty door frame, from which there was a magnificent panoramic view of the mountains to the west.
It happened again on this day. The wind was beginning to feel hostile to me, like it didn’t want me there. And again, it was right at this particular spot. It was then that I realized I was probably dealing with a spiritual force, and one that was not favorably disposed to humans. And here we were, invading its sacred turf. I have experienced these before, and I have learned that the first thing we must always do is reach out to them with prayer.
So, I stood in the doorway, facing the mountains to the west, opened my arms to the sky, let the cold wind blow hard against me, and prayed. The first thing we must do n such a prayer is ask permission – ask permission of the creation and of the natural forces of this place to make a connection – to open a channel through which to talk and exchange energies. I introduced myself to this spirit, very formally, including my full name. “My name is Jack Allis. I am your humble servant, and a humble servant of this creation. This is something I know we share.” I said that I understood why it was hostile to humans, and I apologized for the damage humanity has inflicted on Mother Earth. I explained that we were different. We were a band of humans who were remembering who we were, and why we were here. We are here to do this work of serving the creation, not plundering it, and to learn to live in harmony again with the forces of nature and with the spirit world. I prayed to this spirit to join us, to become our ally and friend, and to guide us in our work, as the challenge we face is great, and we need all the help we can get.
As I prayed, the frigid wind continued to bash me, ripping through the branches of the grandfather oak, and clattering the old loose metal that remained on the roof.
When I finished, I asked the spirit what his name was, but nothing came to me. So, I tried to come up with a few myself, but none of them felt right.
So finally I just said, “OK, until I come up with something better, or until you tell me your name, I’m just going to call you the spirit of the wind that blows through this spot.
The wind stopped. Everything stopped. It was suddenly breathlessly calm. There was no sound and no movement – no birds, no insects, no jets, nothing. The entire world paused for this sacred moment.
Obviously, I had hit the nail right on the head. I knew I was being tapped by this wind spirit. I closed my eyes, and breathed deeply. A surge of warmth flowed up through my body and into my face. I was rooted to the spot, like the great oak – in the darkness – in the stillness. Time vanished. Peacefulness and joy permeated the moment, both inside of me, and outside. My body was as light as the air.
I opened my eyes. I hadn’t been away long – maybe a couple minutes. A gentle puff of warm wind caressed my face through the doorway from the west. It went still again briefly, and then the wind started blowing again, like before, just not as intense.
I reached my arms out again, and said, “Thank you.”
The omen was clear as a bell. I had reached out to this spirit, and he replied. We now had a relationship. He was my friend. And I would continue to reach out to him with prayer.
A week passed. I was working in the chicken coop area again, making a fire from an immense pile of scrap wood. This was going to be a huge fire. I usually don’t pray with a rubbish fire like this, but on this occasion I reached out to this fire, and asked for any guidance it might have, particularly for a fire this big. I also included the spirit of the wind that blew through the spot in this prayer, though I wasn’t feeling him particularly strongly on this day. The wind was breezy and swirling in a lot of different directions.
After an hour or so, the fire was as big as I was going to let it get. As I was staring into it, mesmerized, I was startled to hear a sudden and unfamiliar racket. The old metal roof on the cabin was rattling uncontrollably. It sounded like a southern California earthquake. The next instant I was smashed by a huge gust of wind that knocked me off balance. It came through the empty doorway from the west. The speed of this wind was dangerously high, like over 50 MPH. Fear took over. I grabbed my bucket of water, and prepared to douse the fire, even though this probably wouldn’t have done much.
My eyes darted to the fire, expected to see cinders and even pieces of flaming wood blowing around. Surprisingly, the fire was not only totally contained, it was perfectly contained. This flaming pile of rubbish actually looked neat and circular. As this wind fanned the fire, it flattened out the flames, so all you could see was the coals, and a stupendous glow. The fire rumbled and roared like a blast furnace at the beginning of time. I was mesmerized again. This ball of light had taken possession of my consciousness and my spirit. I was no longer afraid. I put my bucket down.
I had the strangest sensation that the wind was still swirling all around us, but I couldn’t feel it. It was like watching it through a window. And around the fire it looked calm. We were in the center of a swirling vortex. The fire was glowing so brightly I was forced to squint. This glow was now all there was. Time stood still again.
The wind calmed. I opened my eyes. It returned to how it was before. It was breezy, but no big deal. And the fire was again just a fire.
I soaked this in for a moment, and then I heard the rush of ferocious wind again. It was rumbling like a cosmic freight train on the other side of the meadow, where there is a forest of oak and juniper on a mountain slope. And now I could see the wind, in the form of a funnel cloud that swirled through the trees. Its outline was vividly visible, as the trees and branches got sucked into its whirlpool, and swirled violently. This little tornado started at the end of meadow closest to me, and swirled clockwise through the trees at the edge of the meadow, and blew out the entrance to the meadow in the west.
Then everything returned to the way it was before.
Much of what I experienced here is in the form of recollection because I was afraid and this blocks a lot out. But when I play everything back, a couple of things are crystal clear. Obviously, this wind was the wind spirit I had met at the chicken coup. He blew right through his opening, and joined the fire, adding his energy to it. He was showing himself, and showing how powerful he can be. A powerful fire deserves a powerful wind. You might say he was showing off. He was clearly joining us and the ceremony of the fire. It is also safe to assume that the tornado on the other side of the meadow was the same wind that blew over us, and swirled directly over the fire.