Posted by: Jane Valencia | July 22, 2009

Deer Medicine

Deer watch

Deer watch

Do you ever feel like you have a recurring amnesia about your life? That, over and over, you find yourself waking up to something that you already knew quite well about your inner nature, but which you had somehow lost the thread? I have this kind of awakening sense way too often (it seems!). All I can figure is that I’m just moving along the spiral of my life, re-encountering these knowings in different layers of my being, and reorienting myself to essential truths.

Okay! So, in the past few days I’ve been deep in the leaves of a very dense book, The Book Of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood. This astounding book is aptly named, wandering boldly, knowledgeably, and compellingly in all realms of herbalism, including plant spirit/shamanic understandings of herbs, historic practices, and myth. In particular, this passage opened a vista for me that I had somehow forgotten in myself:

“The medicine knowledge of the elders [referring to the Grand Medicine Society of the native peoples of his area] is often arranged around the principal plants and animals native to the region. These become reference points for inner and outer experience. The large, important animals of the area–eagle, wolf, bear, turtle, deer–become the major symbols around which knowledge is coalesced. Very often, this knowledge is derived directly by watching these animals in the wild, or in dreamtime, over many generations …”

Matthew Wood goes on to describe “Bear Medicines” — qualities of Bear, and the kinds of plants that are “Bear Medicines”. Then “Wolf Medicines” and his sole example of “Turtle Medicine”. He does not describe any Deer Medicines (at least, not so far in my reading!), but as I read these pages I awoke into my heart that my path to a true, deeply-rooted connection with the herbal world was by way of the Deer.

Kind of a “duhhh” experience, because I’ve been crazy about Deer all my life–my totem animal for sure!  My inner/magical name isn’t “Singing Deer” for nothing! As a preadolescent I read every deer book I could get my hands on.  I literally read Bambi: A Life In The Woods by Felix Salten fifty times (I have reading logs to prove it!).  One part of that book has always shimmered in the foreground of my memory: when Bambi, shot by a hunter, is led by the Old Stag into escape.

celticstagOn the way Bambi nibbles a bitter herb and not only does the bleeding abate, but his mind clears, and he is able to make his way to a mossy shelter.  There he recovers:

“He ate plants now that he had never noticed before.  Now they appealed to his taste and attracted him by their strange, enticing acrid smell.  Everything that he had disdained before and would spit out if it got accidently into his mouth, seemed appetizing to him.  He still disliked many of the little leaves and short, coarse shoots, but he ate them anyway, as though her were compelled to, and his wound healed faster.  He felt his strength returning.”

I’ve longed to know what those herbs were!  Anyway, the above passage is a great example of how body wisdom can wake up and listen to the plants, you might say.  The qualities of particular herbs that were repugnant before now communicate that they are exactly what he needs to heal.

When I consider Deer Medicine, I realize that this book, Bambi, with its attentiveness to the ways of the Deer, and to life in the forest was my textbook, my lorebook, feeding my imagination and hunger to know more about the Deer, an experience of this graceful animal often limited to counting how many deer I saw on the hillsides when we drove along freeways.

Now I Google “Deer Medicine”, and come up with a description of people of Deer Medicine that so mirrors the qualities and space that I aim to create in my healing artistry that I feel like I’m looking in a mirror indeed.  Then I discover Susan Bloomfield and her Deer Medicine Sound Healing.  Another spirit sister!

So, yes, my healing artistry is Deer Medicine, as it has been all along (yes, I’ll be updating my web writing about it. I’ve even in the past called it “Voices Of The Deer”!).  And I understand in a deeper, rich soil, sunlight dappled leafy path way that just as the Deer in many tales leads the unsuspecting into the magic of the Otherworld, Deer leads me into the forest of my soul.

May I remain awake and alive to this inner knowing!  And may my Cauldron of Memory and Inspiration remain upright so that I may inhale the aromatic, many-herbed fragrance, and offer Deer Medicine to all those seeking beauty, harmony within the spirit of themselves, easing of pains, soothing of heart, clarity of mind, restoration of soul, and a steady gaze upon their own magical nature should they happen to find their way to my healing grove. As I type this post (“spellwork”, as David Abrams speaks of in The Spell Of The Sensuous) I know that I will not forget again.

What is your Spirit Medicine?  What do encounter again and again and keep forgetting?  What is that essential knowing that you only have to call forth from your Cauldron Of Being one more time to have before you, shining in your mind and heart forever, a staff in your hand, leading you out of the tangled expanse into your own home place at last?

deer
Voices Of The Deer
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Responses

  1. I was really amazed when I read your post. It’s been exactly a week since I have begun to see deer, right here in the city of Philadelphia. Last Wednesday or Thursday, I saw two deer, a young buck in velvet and a doe, just two blocks from my home! I could not believe my eyes! I was driving to class and looked to the left and had to stop the car! I felt heartsick because I could not figure out why or how they got there and there was nothing I could do to get them home. Someone who had a home there was on the phone presumably calling animal welfare. Then today, as I was leaving work I saw two fawn. One was in the field near the school (the school I work at is surrounded by acres of woods) and the other I almost didn’t see. I was taking my time getting to my car noticing the stream and looking for plants I could use. As I got to the car I turned around and there was a second spotted fawn watching me, I think the whole time. I was dumbfounded and just stood there looking back. Now that I remember it, I heard a strange calling sound as I was leaving the building, that I assumed was a bird. Now I realize it was the call of the fawn. The fawn finally lept off and I got in my car and came home. Then tonight as I was checking my blog updates, there you are posting about “Deer Medicine”. Stuff like this amazes me! Thank you for posting this, I needed to read this and learn about this!

  2. This has been SO inspiring! I typed in my own search for Bear Medicine…what an adventure I have been on tonight…such findings, such connections, I am buzzing with energy from the synchronicities! Thank you Jane!

  3. Wow, Tracy — I can’t wait to hear about your Bear Medicine, and your synchronicity journey — hopefully when we meet this weekend!

    Yael, your encounters with deer are astounding! You’ve even heard the voice of the deer! I’ve just started a book called Heart And Blood:Living With Deer In America which explores our relationship with deer, and how deer can be found everywhere — even in suburbs and cities! It sounds like Deer is surely “talking” with you! I’d love to hear how your journey unfolds …


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