Tag: wildlife

The Doe

The Doe

My nervous system felt like it had been tightening and fraying all week. I wasn’t sure why until Saturday arrived and I had a serious day of showing my beloved home to three wonderful couples, two of whom really felt and saw the magic of this peaceful home under ancient live oak trees as I did seven years ago. I didn’t sleep much Saturday night, my mind wondering about the next step as my path unfolds into deeper communion with deep earth in the mountains.

Sunday morning I had to give my nervous system some relief, even in my fatigue. So my uber-fun road bike was loaded into the wagon and off I went for a nice ride.

Once I got helmet, gloves and cleats on I saddled up and started pedaling. A quick warmup past the bald eagle nests, with babies no less, was my plan. But I was struggling from lack of sleep and a mind that refused to stop the chatter. So I said aloud to nature, I need you to help my mind quieten and let go. 

As soon as I turned the corner on the trail, standing in the trail was a big white-tailed deer….a doe. She didn’t run. She stayed right there staring into my eyes. I felt a deep peace envelop me. I wanted to grab my phone to take a photo but dared not move any more than I was already. (These photographs were taken by me in Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountain National park).

It seemed as if our eyes were locked forever as she showed me a deep sense of grace and grounded peace. I know my lower jaw was hanging slack until I managed to whisper….thank you.

She finally stepped off the trail, but just barely so, and looked back at me as if to say, Did you get that?

Tears slid from my eyes as I experienced the answer to my request.

I rode past the eagle nest and saw a tiny head peeking above the edge which reminded me of the poem I wrote a few days ago…my love letter to Mother Earth.

The state park is my cycling place, my place to take Buddy on long walks and has been a place of incredible beauty…and frustration as I watch the park get more city-park-like every day. They are chasing the wild out….but that’s another blog.

I continued for nearly 20 miles feeling immense gratitude for places that are wild and especially for this place that has been in my life since I was a child swimming in Lake Shelby….a teen working in the campground or at the interpretive office…and later as park naturalist after I graduated from Auburn. It’s where I worked when my daughter was born…and where I go to to ride through the flat, coastal living landscape.

I’ve seen deer, a jaguarundi, bobcats, foxes, bald eagles, osprey, cottonmouths, armadillos, all kinds of other snakes and lizards, owls, shore birds and hawks. I even saw a groove-billed ani on a Christmas bird count one year….a rare sighting for our area. And lots of woodpeckers and alligators, raccoons, opossums, squirrels….oh, the other day I had a squirrel run between my tires as I cycled past…the closest I’ve ever come to running over one. I always wondered how bad the crash would be with a squirrel….it doesn’t take much for a crash to happen. So yes….a lot of wildlife has been revealed to me at Gulf State Park. And no, I didn’t crash but I don’t know what happened to the squirrel.

So I felt some sadness about moving away as I pedaled but also felt a deeper sense of my work calling me forward where I know more adventures and more people await.

It’s funny how one encounter can so change me. I still sense the energy of that beautiful doe staring at me, reminding me to stay in my body, to release my racing mind and to simply be present…with her, baby eagles, squirrels, pine trees….and myself.

All photographs copyright Simone Lipscomb.


In preparation for our move I’ve been telling Buddy about bears….that really, they are just cows with longer fingernails….so he doesn’t freak when he sees one and get him and me both in serious trouble. He loves the black cows that live in the pasture next to our home….so here’s hoping a big bear won’t be too much of a shock.

on the deck of my former home in the mountains
Love Letter to Mother Earth

Love Letter to Mother Earth

Love Letter to Mother Earth

I love you baby bald eagle whose soon-to-be magnificent head now peers shakily over the edge of that giant nest looking out into the great vastness of this wonderful world.

I love you gnarled live oak tree whose branches, though twisted and broken, still reach for the heavens.

I love you magnificent Mind of Humpback Whales that gazed into my soul through one of your embodied masters.

I love you matriarch of the spotted dolphin tribe who befriended me, claimed me as a daughter and encouraged me to swim hard to keep up with the pod.

I love you slithering baby cottonmouth who warned me kindly to stay away and give a wide berth to your infinite bigness.

I love you Appalachian Mountains whose strength reminds me of the earth within my bones.

I love you Atlantic wave that telepathically warned me before arriving and slamming onto rocks that you were coming…you gave me time…to climb, to live, to celebrate life and Ireland every day.

I love you wild wind that tries to push my bicycle over as I pedal…you crazy wind that brings out curses, laughter, shrieks and childlike joy.

I love you shimmering stars that kissed my mind as I lay on the edge of Ireland feeling the thundering roar of waves through rocky cliff.

I love you ancient stones circled at Castlerigg that took me to an ancient time of initiation into the Blue Snake Clan.

I love you misty, fishy whale breath that drifted over salt water in moonlight and reminded me who I am.

I love you Ocean whose deep indigo draws me deeper and deeper into Communion.

I love you Mother Earth as my heart breaks more each day at what your human children do to you and all life upon you.

Thank you.

 

Breadcrumbs and Buried Treasures

Breadcrumbs and Buried Treasures

When I was a child I instigated buried treasure hunts in the bay where my grandparents lived. A great uncle told us the story of pirates using Week’s Bay as a hiding place and pointed to a place where they used to anchor their ships. He suggested there might be a treasure hidden there in the depths of the sticky, thick, muddy bottom. Every time the tide was low enough, I’d try to recruit my brother and cousins to search for it. We never found it but the seed was planted in my subconscious….buried treasure lies hidden in the dark, sticky, thick mud.

In an effort to clear my phone of clutter, I’ve been sorting through photos and videos. There are many that need to go; however, there are some real jewels that are beautiful and quite amazing in their ability to remind me of not just of good times and travels but of the strong, wild, adventurous person I was. Yes….I said ‘was.’

Over the past year (plus some) I’ve been clearing inner debris…diving into my depths. The phone cleaning is like a final polishing compared to the deep, inner work I’ve undertaken. During this descent into my Underworld I’ve met up with all kinds of ‘fun.’ Fears, anger, resentments…did I already say fears? It’s like the lid was removed on the well-hidden psychic debris and I did a deep dive into it.

One of the gems I discovered on my phone was a letter I wrote to a workshop facilitator from Ireland. I went there for a Celtic spirituality retreat in September 2017. In the letter I described an experience I had there and as I re-read it again yesterday realized that was the entry point into the Underworld.

We were singing a Brigid chant and I saw arise within me a primitive form. It was slick, wet, dirty and it unfolded within me. It felt like this being had been cramped and shoved down into the muck for a very long time. As the day progressed I observed as the figure became progressively clear and more humanoid. Later that night I did a solo walk up to the 5000 year old fort perched atop a 700 foot cliff on the Atlantic Ocean. As I climbed in darkness of night, I could feel Her given space to breathe and freedom to unfold. The next morning She was shining and beautiful. She was a goddess. The Divine Feminine literally born within me. I had been waiting my entire life for the rebirth and worked hard for that moment.

As I walked the next day along the narrow roads of Inishmor, it was Her voice that spoke through my voice, arising to protect the planet and all Her creatures. Something had shifted within and it opened a doorway to a journey…remember Innanna? Her journey?

This experience was the invitation to go deeper, to excavate the inner realms. Not as a way to punish myself (yes, it’s been that hard) with difficulty and pain but so I can discover hidden treasures buried within the fears, resentments, anger. It’s all in there in one massive debris pile and sorting through it is the way to discover the strengths, talents, and gifts.

More sorting on my phone unearthed a video I created over two years ago within a stone circle in Northern England. It was the day after the US election. I was heartbroken as I saw clearly the suffering and darkness that would envelope our country….a lessening of human rights, an increase in social injustices, an attack on the environment and innocent wildlife. That morning I checked the news and fell to my knees in the cottage where my friend and I were staying. I sobbed with grief as the vision of what was to come unfolded. Then it felt like a push and message interrupted my spiral into despair. “Go to the circle.”

I quickly dressed in many layers as it was November and Northern England is quite cold then. My friend was asleep so I left a note and drove to Castlerigg. I was alone there for a while as it was early. I went to the main stone and fell on my knees and simply listened. Very clearly an inner voice said this: This is necessary for there is much darkness hidden. This president will take the country into the depths of hidden darkness so that light can be shone onto it and healing can take place. It will be a perilous journey but one that is necessary. Do not despair.

Foggy dawn below Castlerigg Stone Circle

Two years ago the preparation for my personal descent into the Underworld began. Nearly a year later is when She was freed from the prison of mud and since then it’s as if I’ve been in explorer mode, going where I’ve never had the courage to go before and facing the root of fear within myself.

During the middle of this intense year the Thai boys trapped in the cave were rescued in a most amazing rescue. In an odd way this gave me hope that I would survive my own descent into my inner ‘cave.’ My guide, instead of a cave diver, was a wholeness coach who offered to work with me in my journey. She has been holding the lantern as I make my way back from the long, perilous journey.

Earlier this week I released a lot of anger and resentment and found myself deep in forgiveness…of myself, of others. It felt like the hard kernel of angst had cracked. I wrote that it was like a dark sphere of polished stone cracked open and from that cracking released me to experience more space and freedom within….freedom from the gripping anger at being wronged by others, at being wronged by myself.

Inanna’s descent into the Underworld, to visit her sister, required her pass through seven gates. At each gate she had to remove one of her royal garments….her crown of heaven, breastplate, gold rings, beads, and scepter–rod of power. When she finally gets to the bottom,her sister curses her with a word of power and she dies and is hung from a hook to rot. She is rescued and arises from the Underworld three days later.

She isn’t a whole person until she becomes vulnerable before her dark sister, dies and returns to life. Inanna’s story is a template for those wishing to be whole. There is sacrifice. We leave the trappings of the ego behind–all of who we think we are must be removed. The ego is stripped of its power, which feels like death. Then we return, cleansed of ego and born into our true self.

Making the journey to the inner depths can be disorienting. All of who we think we are must be surrendered. We learn to be okay with uncertainty. The Unknown becomes a friend or fiend depending on our attitude.

The journey to wholeness isn’t easy. Often I have questioned the reason for going through such painful excavations. Years ago I was given the answer and it continues to be true and grow in power: The clearer and more open I am, the more I can truly live and feel the life force within and around me. The subtle energies of Nature can be felt clearer. The communion with wildlife is sweeter and stronger. I am a clearer channel when I clean my Underworld.

Sometimes it can feel like self-punishment…this relentless quest for wholeness. Ultimately I am simply discovering the treasure that was buried by pirates who plundered and pillaged long ago. Thankfully I have left breadcrumbs in the form of photos, videos and writing.

The following note was written by me on the title page of Matthew Fox’s book, Original Blessing. It is dated October 6, 2005:

It is an outpouring of God from my depths that comes out of me, that demands attention, and I know that surrendering to this passion to express God’s love through me is the only path that leads to happiness for me. When I allow God’s awesome beauty to move through me and express itself through my thoughts and words I am transformed. I become something greater than I imagined I could be. Writing about these transcendent experiences is my salvation. 

Until I saw myself happily talking into the camera on my phone, I didn’t realize how much I have changed…I don’t recognize who I have become. The descent has taken a heavy toll. However, I feel a growing flame of friendship with my self that is hopeful and reassuring and holds within it the promise of light-filled adventures of joy and beauty.

“And one day she discovered that she was fierce, and strong, and full of fire, and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.”–Mark Anthony

May we have the courage necessary to explore not only our individual darkness but our collective darkness that is now exposed for the world to see.


As I was adding photographs to the blog post an email dinged in…it was from the sweater market on Inishmor. It felt like a little pat on the shoulder from the Ancestors saying, ‘we are proud of you…we support your journey.’ That’s where the descent began….that’s where the deep healing journey kicked into overdrive.

 

Flow Like a River

Flow Like a River

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” Rainer Maria Rilke

The manatee played with my vest, searching for something interesting to satisfy her curiosity. I kept flooding my mask as I laughed into the snorkel while holding my big underwater housing at an awkward angle for a selfie with my friend. This was a moment when unbounded joy leaped from my heart and the experience of Oneness was celebrated. I think Rilke had it right….be as a child and let life flow.

I see that with musicians, especially at venues like The Frog Pond in Silverhill, Alabama, where singer-songwriters are encouraged to jam. When the minds of musicians go into that flow, they sync and magic happens. Literally….it unfolds before our eyes.

I want to explore the world with the spirit of flow and openness. When I can be in that place within my Self, I can find holy ground no matter where I roam.

 

When I was in Ireland last September, on the island of Inis Mor, I allowed the spirit of flow to take my feet and surrendered to the direction it led. The path dead-ended at an ancient bee hive stone hut. Far in the distance was a beautiful white horse. I couldn’t see a way to the horse but longed to meet it.

Later that day, our retreat attendees went with a guide to the same place and there, in front of the stone hut was the white horse…waiting for me. Excitement bubbled forth as I greeted the horse. I called her Fiona. Later, when I looked up the name, I found out it means white. She and I still have a strong connection even though there is an ocean between us.

Even in my painting, I follow the muse of humor and fun. Buddy meets a dolphin….Buddy and the whales….much of my work with paint and canvas is a celebration of color, fun and life.

You don’t have to be frisked by a manatee or meet a white horse who likes to smile to connect with the flow. Everyone’s flow and presence can look different. The key, perhaps, is to open our hearts and minds to surrender, to acceptance….and then simply play.

Musicians can be excellent examples of how to be in the flow…to not force or hold back. When they are having fun…it’s magic.

What magic would you like to experience? What calls your heart? What holds you back?

Whatever you do, stop wasting time and waiting for the right moment to be in your flow. Open your heart and mind and leap into the River of Life. “May what I do flow like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” And I might add to Rilke’s contemplation that you might find Holy Ground wherever you are in that flow.

I invite you to listen to Luka Bloom’s music and follow the way of the Sacred Child to find Holy Ground.

 

Oneness, 2

Oneness, 2

Cool raindrops kissed my skin as I pedaled just after dawn. It felt like a cleansing, a baptism of sorts, after several weeks of intense soul work.

My open mouth welcomed raindrops falling on my tongue. Drops of rain dripped through helmet vents as my crown was cleansed. No lightning insured a simple, sacred sprinkling.

The truth of Oneness was a thread I tugged on throughout the eighteen miles. I thought of my concerns over selling my home and purchasing another one and wondering how that will work out with five precious four-leggeds that depend on me. I pondered the work that calls me which I have no real definition for or direction to.  Feeling stuck with all of this has driven me deep into my own depths–which has been incredibly painful.

As I pedaled I heard an inner voice arise with guidance that answered my concerns.

It reminded me that what I’m going through–wondering about ‘home’ and how everything will work out–is something wildlife is experiencing….not through ‘thoughts’ but through loss of healthy ecosystems and food sources. Loss of potential mates and young. Extinction for a group of orca seems certain. Right whales….the future is very grim. Is this not the same experience of sorts? Only mine is a matter of timing whereas their situation is truly dire. Remember the mother orca that carried her dead baby for weeks as the world watched and grieved. I believe she was reaching out to some intelligence–somewhere– to ask for help for her species…for all species.

We tend to personalize our suffering, our worries and concerns; however, because there truly is no separation and only Oneness, all life is experiencing this pain simultaneously. We can tune out by ignoring or distracting or practicing addictions that keep us insulated from the global pain or we can, with courage and intention, allow ourselves to feel the grief of all life. If this route is chosen, be warned….it’s not an easy journey.

In truth, if we don’t choose to listen to the cries of all life as it weeps over loss and struggles to survive, we are contributing to and speeding up the process of its destruction…our destruction. Humans are not immune to experiencing loss. Ask those who are living through the floods from Hurricane Florence.

Remaining open to the realization of Oneness is like dancing on the railing of a ship tossed by a storm. It’s a delicate balance where we must gaze into the eyes of suffering while not allowing it to make us fall into the tempest. Somehow we must learn to dance with open hearts and minds, looking at the suffering of the world as it is reflected within us. We do this by reaching out to each other, holding hands and vowing to work together…no matter what.

We must remain mindful that joy and beauty are the Medicines that keep us sane as we acknowledge the deep suffering of our world.