Closing the soft pages of my book, I sense the mental chanting of some tribe that begins like a memory. Nothing dramatic or prophetic, just a chant like any other song that gets stuck in my mind. The chanting swells as drums and individual calls join in. The song is too real now because it is real. It is coming from the courtyard of our apartment building, but in the dark, there are no musicians to be found. The sound is so clearly coming from the courtyard, but since there are no visible artists, I tell myself it must be from a ceremony at the stadium near by. The crown jewel of downtown Vancouver that unleashes waves of crowds loud enough to confuse where they come from like some sounds do so well. Sounds that seep through areas like a hand clapping right next to your ear from hundreds of feet away. Sound bounces and deceives more often than we realize. I do not go jumping with the horse before the cart as I so often try to, but instead, I let the the beating of that hollow drum match with my heart beat racing through and through. The last passage of my book was about a native American dancer they call The Butterfly Woman.
My mala beads rattle as I set up the flower vases and light the candles for home practice out in the living room. In this shift of perspective we embrace the delicate sounds of everyday items. We reflect on them lightly and sense that their purpose is special because everything has some kind of reason. Everything has its purpose and place for existing. Unless it does not, and it does not belong in our lives. Anyways, I let mental images of The Butterfly Woman in all of her glory shake through me like the mystery chanting. As her shell bracelets rattle from the images in my mind, my mala beads rattle seamlessly and without effort. The drums are faint and something I would ignore if not for The Butterfly Woman and this story about one of Gabor Maté’s patients. The Squamish girl was initiated by her Grandfather as the spirit link between worlds to carry on the family tradition of communicating with ancestors. They go down to the river for a cleansing ritual. They go down to the freezing river to bring this gift out of the small child. There is something so familiar about this story that it sits on the back of my tongue without question. Oh yes, the river cleansing ritual. Anyways she heard drums without question. She heard songs with chants of her grandfathers’ grandfathers’ grandmothers. It started with the drums. I think those sorts of genes can be passed down just like trauma. We feel it generations down. The candle sticks behind my mat are melted down to the wick, so I wrap up my practice and sit back into the couch opening those soft pages up again to continue on about The Butterfly Woman.
The onlookers expect to see this fragile thing when they announce that her much anticipated act is coming up, but she is anything but fragile. The Butterfly Woman represents transformation for ALL things. Estés says that she obliterates the “idea that transformation is only for the tortured, the saintly, or only for the fabulously strong.” She is an old woman who dances. She is a large woman who dances. She is not at all what we would consider fragile or the “belle of the ball” when it comes to butterfly costumes and the western world of ballet superstars and beautiful treasures or any of that. Estés says that she needs to be thick to carry a lot, and “the back of her neck carries the sunrise and the sunset. Her left thigh holds all the lodge-poles, her right thigh all the she wolves of the world.” The Butterfly Woman is thick because she carries much, and she is old with long grayish white hair because she represents a soul that is old and experienced. Finally Estés says that she is beyond taboos about touching others because of her wisdom. “The Butterfly Woman can touch everyone. This is her privilege to touch all, at last. This is her power.” Somehow the pages are even softer than before as I close the precious book gently, and shut my eyes for a minute listening to my heartbeat. It is seven O’ clock pm. There is still time to get to class.
I make the last minute choice for hot yoga with only 15 minutes to get ready and go. My walk is fast enough to be there on time, I know it because this is a well deserved forward-moving-into-the-next-place-without-running-from-the-current-one walk. I have stride. My stride is always enough, and so I arrive to Yyoga with 10 minutes to spare somehow. I take off my rain boots and realize that I am on my last pair of socks. The ones reading “Mother Fucking Girl Power” on the sides. My hair is down and wiry/ flowing depends on how picky you are about your adjectives, so my “Mother Fucking Girl Power” socks, wild woman hair, and I find a space in the front row to roll out and take a seat. I wrangle my mossy strands into two braids like I used to what feels like ages ago. I take a deep inhale and an even deeper look at myself in the mirror with these two thick braids. No judgements just an attitude and sense of approval. Class begins and sweat beads start to build and build. The braids wave and flick collecting sweat around my shoulders like ribbons or accessories to a rain dance of my own accord. In time and through breath the drums pattern my heart beat and natural rhythm. The unrealized events that take place behind the posture and the breath during my practice. Like something that has more to offer than my simple limbs know how to, and I think about The Butterfly Woman holding the earth on the curve of her back because women are made for more things than beauty. The reason for my hands or my heels and their shape must be based on how my body is made. The alignment of things must mean something, and we ignore it all. We turn into outwardly pleasing, form-fitted things. We are strong with hands that make life happen. Class settles down, and this all comes together in the clean cool air of my walk home. The thing that builds behind the breath. Let it unfold. I am proud to hear the drums from something I do not understand but know very very well in an ancient love of some kind. The early earth cracks open from the curves in my spine, and I believe this is where we all begin again and again. If I am no different than anything else and my form will always change, then we are all the same. With the same drums beating in each of us, animating all things. Giving life to all things. ❤
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