Posted by: Jane Valencia | January 25, 2009

Medicine Dreams And Risk Taking

I’ve been dreamtending in my own way for years. As a result, my dreams now tend me. When I experience a “pay attention” dream, that dream will wake me up when it ends, and I’ll feel a certain sensation in my body, like being pulled through layers of air or molasses or reality. Then I make sure to just sit with that dream, and feel the images in any way I can, and eventually write the dream down. It’s usually pretty darn clear to me that I’ve experienced a medicine dream.

So it was last night, in that “elder-into-mystery” period of our night/day cycle that is midnight to around three a.m., that vision time. I felt myself pulled out of the dreamtime and into waking. The dream:

renfairedeersmallI am visiting a friend at a well known nature program. A gathering of students of all ages is taking place, and a respected naturalist is present. Spontaneous groups of children and adults go up to this naturalist and he intuits an animal name for each person. I decide to join one of these groups and see what name emerges at this time. I’ve had several different nature names over the years from participating and assisting in these nature awareness programs–Northern Flicker, Raccoon, Great Blue Heron …. Each name was like making a new bird or animal friend. And of course I have my own true name, one that the forest gave me. What name will emerge now?

As I approach the naturalist, I discover that as part of the choosing or discerning of the name that we each carry an item that somehow represents our medicine bundle or something of ourselves. I find that I am carrying a small African harp. It is “antler”-necked, that is, having two curving wood necks, with three strings attached to each neck. The “antlers” join to a sounding bowl–a gourd or tortoise shell–that is covered with goat or deerskin and rimmed with cowrie shells. The harp, skin, and cotton thread strings are stained dark purple.

The naturalist takes the African harp and holds it up. “Deer,” he says, studying the body of the harp, which is the ‘deer head’. I realize–as does he–that we’ve met some time in the past, when I’ve had this harp, though I don’t remember the details of that meeting. “I’ve seen this before. Singing … Singing bowl …” He gazes again at the ‘antlers’. And now he homes in on the name, “Singing Deer,” he says, handing the harp back to me.

I am astonished. I had never expected him to discern my true name! I start to tell the story: “The forest gave me the name. It was when I was totally distraught …” I stop. No one needed to hear the story. And it was no momentous visionary thing that a human had discerned that name. This naturalist had been trained as a scout, and he had developed incredibly acute awareness skills. With his memory and awareness, this matter of name was just obvious to him. It was like putting a 100-piece puzzle together, or solving a two-minute mystery.
When I’m pulled awake, I ponder this speaking of name and I ponder in particular the nature of the “antler-necked deer harp”, the African harp. For me, this harp in this dream speaks of deeply ancestral ways and knowings, and the rhythms and sweet sounds of the heart of our nature. I realize that even as I’m pulled to study herbalism and other threads of healing, that at the heart of my learning journey must remain honing my skills of awareness of the natural world, of the ancient technologies of whole and healthy culture that is indigenous to all of us, and my own inner peace–who I am in the heart of my nature/Nature herself.

And I decide to take a risk on behalf of my Medicine Woman self: to start signing my web messages with my outer and inner names. Whoo hoo, such a big step :-). As I do so, I realize that my Risks don’t really feel too much like risks anymore, when I step into the ah-ha form of them. They may feel filled with weather when I first consider something about them, and worry, and “oh, what will people think?”, but when I step into the right timing, proper understanding of them, it’s just an “Oh, of course. It’s time.” My inner village of selves has all come to consensus, one mind and heart. My antler-necked deer harp offers me the medicine bundle and music and arrows to take action. I don’t fully understand the nature of this harp–how can I? But I feel in all my cells and being how it is me.

In the lovely way that life affirms our “ah-ha moments”, I wandered out in the snow this morning to my sit spot (where I engage in sense meditation, nature awareness, and thanksgiving). I noted that a deer had come by–browsing on the alfalfa bale we’d left out to offer as “winter greens” for our chickens. Nice that it was also feeding the deer! After some time at my sit spot, I felt the urge to spring to my feet and run like a deer. I did so, and immediately noticed a stag at the end of our fence line, watching me (so much for my awareness!). I stopped, then watched him, as he walked slowly away from me.  He then sped into that graceful gait that is like water. He trotted along the deer path I know well, past the mountain ash, across the street (setting a neighbor’s dog to barking) and disappearing into the neighborhood. A three-tined antlered stag.

~blessings to you from the Medicine Tree,
Jane-Singing Deer

This image is from the internet. They are two small harps from Kenya, a double-necked 6-string harp on the left, a single-necked 3-string on the right.




  1. This is such an incredible post, and such synchronicity for me to be reading this!

    I loved what you wrote here “I realize that my Risks don’t really feel too much like risks anymore, when I step into the ah-ha form of them.” It is very much what I’ve been feeling drawn to, that risks once taken aren’t really risks anymore.

  2. I for once am stunned into silence! This is amazing and so so so beautifully written. Oh my.

  3. I would like to travel with you in your beautiful dream world. Thank you for sharing.

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