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  • Mj Pettengill

Marya of the Wood: Dream-Walk


Ivy the Chipmunk

It was time to retreat. It may have been beyond that, yet I chose to bypass the signs. They are everywhere and appear in a plethora of forms. If we are busy enough, looking outward and beyond, or unaware, we often miss what is right before us.

I find myself wanting to go deeper into the woods and have actually done so. When I enter into the sanctuary, it is now more like a dream than a usual trek. It has not always been so. It is more than foraging and exploration. It is being.

Following the day that I set out for elderberries on the other side of the pond—getting dangerously stuck in the mud—a new door appeared. I hesitated before opening and entering. I continue to walk down the new corridor that leads to discovery. 

What is beyond the door, and where does it lead? We do not always know. This unknowing place is where trust resides. This trust is not blind or careless; it is a tool that we must keep on hand. 

As I continue to recover from a knee and back injury, I am aware that nothing is the same. Pain accompanies growth. 

With or without the experience of being swallowed up in the black mud, nothing anywhere would be the same. As a woman of the wood, and under these extreme circumstances, it is only natural for me to retreat. 

Now, when I enter the wood, it is like dreaming—each step carefully placed. I have never been as immersed as I am now. Silent screams dissolve into whispers as I move carefully through the undergrowth. There is no fear.

I thought that I felt the life and death around me before, now I am the life and death. My pulse beats with the rhythm of my surroundings. Even when it is dense and rigid, we harmonize. I sense the blood coursing through my veins and synchronize with the light and shadows. I see and hear as I never have before. 

How is it possible for one so remote to begin with, to go further within, deeper into the wilds, distancing from societal chaos? As we all experience the necessary, monumental transitions and shifts, we are together and apart. We are unique to ourselves and each other. 

It is essential to hesitate and carefully consider the next step. Just as it is vital to comprehend where we are on a universal level. It is much more than thinking something as basic as, right now, I am in my kitchen eating the chocolate that I swore I would not touch. It is about knowing where you are in your own development and timeline. (Go ahead and eat the chocolate.)

Had I thought more about the conditions—physical aspects of the recently dried-up bottom of the ancient pond—I would not have carelessly set out to enter into it. I could only think of my burning desire to get the elderberries that I saw for many years but could not navigate my way to them. 

Of course, in days gone by, I could have waded through the muck. I have plodded through it before. However, there was no need because I had plenty of elderberry trees scattered throughout the land. I didn’t have to get messy then, but this time, with what I perceived as a clear path, I wanted more.

Each step that we take, or do not take in our unique pilgrimages, have consequences. I spent the first half of the summer recovering from the infected tick bite, only to hastily plunge into thick black mud. It was so unforgiving that it ripped off the sole of my shoe. 

Where is the lesson? Always seek. I am a helper and a healer—both mother and child. I tend to people, animals, and plants, for which I am in awe. I give so much and take very little, often forgetting the necessity to slow down. I had abandoned self-care. Therefore, it was Our Mother, who provided a clear message. 

Continuing to work tirelessly and staying in that vortex points to the danger of being sucked into the thick black mud for good. I was in peril because there was no one nearby to hear my screams. Had I not rolled onto my side and pulled myself out, would I have perished? Fortunately, I had the upper body strength to pull myself to safety, I may have met my end.

As we continue to make the transition to our New World, the tension for most will rise. You may find yourself sifting through thoughts and memories of old wounds or traumas that you had hidden within your physical body and psyche. It is time to set them free.

It is quite possible that if you do not stop running and busying yourself, that you may come face to face with these parts of you. Often, they are begging to be unpacked so that you have space for something new and better. 

These memories, reflections, and dreams may be triggered in various ways. If you slow down, they will catch up to you. Allow it to happen. It is uncomfortable and downright painful in most cases. These times are meant for sharing with loved ones.

After being bitten by a deadly insect, stuck in deep mud, and now continuing to nurse my injuries, along came the fragments of wounds that I had skillfully tucked away. It was time for up and out.

I have always maintained my woods connection. It seems that my maternal instincts continue to surge and rule my actions. My deep bond with the animals has been present for as long as I remember. My collection of experiences are a book in itself. 

I do not overstep my bounds with animals in the wild. I have no intention of taming them or interfering with their ability to live in their environment. We are neighbors sharing the same space. When I put out food, it is scattered so that the feathered and furry ones must forage. I have gotten away from feeders. I do not want to attract bears, putting them in harm’s way when drawn to human places that result in injury or death.

Each morning, when I go out, my wild neighbors scatter into the leafy edges of safety. I usually wear an orange sweatshirt so that they can identify me. I talk to them and sing. The chipmunks are quite trusting. As most of you who live in this region know, this past season’s chipmunk population was abundant.

There are a few chipmunks, and red and gray squirrels, who stay nearby when I go out. The chipmunks are voracious eaters, filling their cheeks, storing their nuts and seeds.

Sometimes, when I am away, in another part of the wood, they scamper by curiously. We are out of our familiar territory. I still speak to them and sing. This practice also alerts other beings of my presence. I know that they pick up my scent, but it is a safety measure.

Today, I went for a dream-walk in the woods before meditating. I have a favorite rock to sit on for this. I face the sun. Within the first moment of meditation, I heard a rustling in the leaves. I tried to remain in my quiet state, but curiosity got the best of me.

I looked beside me, and there she was—Ivy—a chipmunk that has become my friend. I recognize her because her fur is lighter than the others. She generally follows me around. Although there is a red squirrel that likes to sound the alarm when I am out of our area. She follows me around as well.

I was moved to see that Ivy was not only sitting beside me, but she had also fallen asleep. I quietly took a photo of her before returning to my meditation, grateful for our friendship and mutual trust.

I am grateful for the grounding and the wisdom that accompanied our interlude. I had withdrawn from the challenges in the outer-world and traded it for joy and solitude. There is no need to analyze or wallow in fear when you have the option to disconnect. Reclaim your power and retreat to a place of belonging. Find your truth and stand in it.


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