Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Contrary Beaver - overcoming blocks to dream-building!

Photo Credit: earthdeva
I got a nudge to beware Beaver’s contrary medicine - in a card reading I did for myself, Beaver appeared ‘belly up’ for me. Beaver is about building (your dreams, especially), and I’ve been having trouble finding the energy - even the will - to do it lately. It seems to be a pattern of mine that I’ll work on a project for a while, and then - once it appears as though things are coming to fruition - I’ll give up on it (or - worse yet - sabotage it in some way). Contrary Beaver presents questions that beg asking, such as:

  • Have I been carrying beliefs that have kept me from acting on my dreams/projects?
  • Have I been working hard but not seeing any progress?
  • Have I been beating myself up, saying “It’s my fault! I‘m just (lazy, clumsy, stupid, etc…)”?
  • Am I resistant to working in community?
  • Do I have a specific fear that has kept me from creating?
  • What barriers/obstacles have I built that keep me from realizing my creations?

I asked for a vision for clarification, and saw a white dreamcatcher with the long nozzle of a black vacuum cleaner attachment through it at an angle. The image reminded me of something I’d seen once that someone had invented as a beaver ‘deceiver‘...

Growing up in Northwestern Ontario, I was pretty familiar with beavers (and humankind’s relationship to them). The vision I was given brought a specific memory to mind of a device that a landowner had used in what he thought was a humane way of keeping some resident beavers from flooding his property. Using a backhoe, he’d dug a trench through and under their dam and installed a long, steel culvert. The intake end was under water about ten feet into the beavers’ pond, and the outflow about ten feet behind the dam (on the downstream side).

Beavers are attracted to the sound of running water; it makes them kind of ‘squirrely‘ (no offense intended to my Squirrel-medicine friends!). It’s what motivates them to build and repair their dams. For the fact that its intake was under water and the beavers wouldn’t hear the water escaping from there, the idea of the culvert was that it’d keep draining the pond and prevent its level from rising. To that end, it worked. The beavers repaired the damage to the gap in the dam around the culvert‘s circumference, but the water was going through the culvert instead and wasn’t trickling over the dam any more. The beavers didn’t know what to do. They’d sometimes head to the downstream end of the culvert to try to cap it, but there was a grate installed on it, rendering their attempts useless.

As I said, the pond level didn’t rise. The land didn’t flood, and the landowner felt he’d done well by the beavers for the fact that he hadn’t resorted to shooting or trapping them. But the crux of the problem for the beavers was that they need the level in their pond to rise (or, at least, be ‘maintained‘) in order to survive. Once they’ve eaten what’s available to them near their pond’s edge, they have to go further onto land. Because they’re so slow on land though, being further from the water leaves them more vulnerable to predators. They’ll sometimes dig canals to extend their access, but if the water level drops, one way or the other, they’re screwed; either they can’t get to their food and they can’t eat, or they get eaten.

Because my guides gave me a vision that they knew would bring this memory to mind for me, I interpreted the dreamcatcher scenario to mean that there was something sucking at my energy, diverting the flow and keeping my dreams from ‘sticking’. Since Beaver’s main domain is water, and water is symbolic of emotion, Beaver medicine is also about paying attention to how (/whether) your emotions motivate you as you work towards the building of your dreams. As essential as I believe emotions are, Beaver’s medicine was challenging me to consider whether I was acting out behaviours based on emotional impulses that weren’t actually serving me. I realized that I wasn’t likely to get anywhere with this by examining it on a conscious level. I needed to find where this bypass was. It was pertinent that it was a dreamcatcher I’d been shown, because that’s where I received some further help...

That night, I had a dream where a teenager was acting spoiled and throwing things at me. This included a canoe, which is a frequent dream symbol of mine that reflects how I propel myself through life. There‘s also a reference here to emotions, too, since you‘d use a canoe in travelling over water. To my surprise, he was also fixing an outboard motor, a task that I couldn’t imagine I’d know how to do myself. He was threatening to throw more things at me (shoes). Instead of moving away from him though, I went towards him, all the while talking about how I imagined he must not have gotten enough love and attention when he was younger (admittedly, a little snidely). I was close enough to see that he had green eyes (~ the colour of new beginnings). His arm was still arched, ready to throw, but it was obvious from the hopeful look on his face that he was considering what I was saying, and he just held it there. The closer I got, the gentler I became. I made it clear to him that I
was interested in him, that I loved him. I also told him that I was really impressed that he had the skill to fix things.

Upon waking, I analyzed the dream and came to the realization that this was where my creative energy had been getting syphoned off. I’d now connected with my inner teenager. He has skills and abilities that I’ve been missing out on. Hed been damaging/sabotaging things - throwing tantrums within my subconscious, essentially - as a way of communicating how much hed been hurt (how much I‘d been hurt in my youth). Unfortunately (as is the case when we act out instead of speaking up), hes actually been hurting himself doing it. I reentered the dream in a meditation, and asked him to help me repair the beaver dam. My thought was to dive down into the pond and try to plug up or crimp the end of the pipe shut. Neither of those solutions seemed to fit. We ended up pulling the culvert out from the downstream end, and filling a lot of the space in using the pile that had originally been removed with the backhoe. I wanted to fix it to completion, but left it to the beavers, as they’d be able to do a better job of it than we could. We didn’t stay around to watch them - being mostly nocturnal, they do their work under cover of night.

My thoughts about those beavers hadn’t left me since seeing that culvert being installed years ago. Regardless of how diligently the little creatures worked, I imagined they were likely starving, or really, really stressed about having to go far from the safety of their pond to satisfy their belly rumblings. Not to mention, they must have gone a little crazy; I mean, can you imagine never receiving confirmation that the work you’ve done has helped feed you? It would give you the idea that there was the hand of an omnipotent negative power at work, undermining your earthly efforts …(although I realize that’s the human/egoic response).

In nature, when beavers’ food sources are exhausted in a certain location, they’ll instinctually move to start a new pond, but in the case where you can smell that there’s food closeby, you’re working like mad and it doesn’t make sense that you’re not getting any closer to it, what do you do? Without affirmation, how long do you keep doing what you’re doing before you swim off to start again? And when you get there, aren’t you just going to worry that the same thing is going to happen all over again?

Through this investigation, I’ve realized how much of an impression the ’beaver deceiver’ incident had made on me. Coupled with my inner teenager’s need to express how hurt I’d felt as a youth (but couldn‘t communicate), I’d carried the belief that even the most industrious of efforts won’t provide nourishment. We develop behaviours based on our social interactions, but we also carry these medicines as a result of our relationship to nature.

Photo credit: Ben Christen
If the problem of being blocked in your endeavours resonates with you and you’d like some help with it, contact me - I’d be more than delighted to help you investigate your medicines. Alternatively, I suggest these two meditative ‘investigations‘... one: dive into your water (however that looks to you) to see what’s diverting the creative energy being offered to you from source. Investigate and deal with who or what it is that might have an interest in keeping your heart-centred dreams/projects from coming to fruition. And two: if you’re ‘hungry‘, visualize climbing up on shore and going after what it is that you believe will nourish you. I’ll say this to you: You are not slow on land. You don’t have anything to fear, other than what you imagine might be out there (predators? What predators?).

If it’s your first time trying a meditation like this, don’t worry if it seems difficult to visualize. You may feel that it’s ‘just imagination’, but - even if just for the sake of it as something entertaining to do - try it. It will (at the very least) trigger new medicine paths for you.

Or, since we all have free choice and there really is no such thing as a ‘wrong’ decision, do nothing. Since water will naturally continue to flow, though, not facilitating your natural inclination to create will make you crazy... I hear trickling, trickling, trickling… must build! Anyone in the community up for moving some ‘mud and sticks’ around?

Big Medicine Love to You

~ Black Feather

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