Archive for April 2008
Katrina Welsh is a naturalist who has worked on White Owl Island for many decades. There is little that she does not know about the mysteries, the rituals of this curious island on the Lemurian Archipelago. Katrina has agreed to have an interview with me. I am sure it will be revealing.
Heather Blakey April 5th 2008
A few years ago, I was faced with a major business decision about an opportunity that appeared on the surface to be very real. However, my gut felt a little tight with no explanation.
The night before the signing of the contract, I was invited to a friend’s house for dinner. She lived deep in the woods with a rough, narrow road leading to her place which was about 2 miles in from the main road. I loved going to her place — all the walls on the back side of the house were glass from floor to ceiling and faced a stream about 3ft wide. You had a strong feeling of being with the woods in the open floor plan and all the glass. It was like bringing the outside in and the inside out.
Though it was only 5 pm, it was dark already and there was hard, cold rain and biting winds. I turned left onto the road to begin the long journey through muddy and rough terrain to her house. With the rain, I was only able to drive about 5 miles an hour since I could barely see anything in front of the car.
The other thing I should mention about Jane’s house. She was a strong Earth activist and bought the house because she wanted to be surrounded by woods and to be near the wildlife sanctuary about 1/8 mile from the place. Books on nature, medicine wheels, Native American culture, new age and spiritual symbolism lined her shelves. As an Earth activist, it was the perfect living environment.
When I mentioned her road was narrow, I meant “really” narrow. It was an old dirt road, mostly mud. You can imagine then what it would be like driving on it during a torrential downpour. I just kept my eyes focused on what was in front of me and continued telling myself I would be okay (a self-talk approach I take when in uncomfortable situations).
Looking ahead, I thought I saw a white cat in the distance sitting in Jane’s driveway. It was one large cat! What the heck was it doing in the road — in the pouring rain?
Without warning, without time for any driving errors, my eyes were playing tricks. I thought I saw the cat flying away from the ground.
As I veered closer, something flew toward me as I pulled onto her driveway. Crud! I couldn’t make out what it was, but it appeared to be white as it headed straight for my windshield. Reaching my elbow up, I tried wiping the car window hoping to get a better view.
Jane stepped out the door onto her porch holding two umbrellas (in case I didn’t have one with me).
She must have seen what was flying towards the car because she moved out further onto the sidewalk. While watching Jane, I heard a sound and turned my head quickly back towards the front of the car window. Smack right in front of me was a large white owl with its wings spread wide and making the loudest sound. I thought I was going to hit it or that it was going to slam into the window.
Right before what could have been a tragic event, the white owl flew upwards and off towards Jane. It flew by the side of the house and into the woods. It all happened so fast!
Jane came running all the way out to greet me. Her umbrella was one of those golfing umbrellas so I opted to jump out of the car. Under cover, we ran to her door and entered.
Immediately, we both jabbered a mile a minute about what we witnessed. Jane ran over to her book shelf and grabbed one of her medicine books to look up white owl. We heated water for tea and sat down to read.
“White owls are messengers responsible for carrying wisdom,” it read. Further reading, it stated, “possess an uncanny ability to penetrate beyond the masks, untruths, white lies, and deceits of others in order to see to the truth of the matter, individual or experience.”
While sipping tea and listening to rain pounding the glass windows, we discussed what this could mean. Jane felt it was a protective warning. At that moment, I couldn’t imagine why I would need a protective warning. Eventually, we ate our dinner and spent the evening chatting about other things.
The next day, I woke up with that “in the pit of the stomach feeling” as I dressed for the meeting where I would sign a one year consulting contract offering a fat paycheck. I kept having flashbacks of the previous night — the white owl and what we read in the animal totem book.
Arriving a few minutes early, the receptionist felt it was okay to go ahead and sit me in the conference room. She left the door open. From where I sat, you could see an office door across the hall. I got myself a bottle of water and sat back down. Glancing out the door, I noticed two men standing there in conversation.
I wasn’t interested in hearing anything they were saying — was just making observations. A few moments into their conversation, one of them spoke a little louder. It was obvious that neither man was aware the conference door was opened or that I was sitting inside. I recognized one of them as the VP who was hiring me. I hadn’t met the other on any of the previous visits. He was the one who started raising his voice loud enough that I could make it what he was saying.
“Look, we’ll hire her now to get through this merger. If she doesn’t play by our rules and isn’t willing to cut corners we’ll figure a way to get rid of her and out of the contract with no loss to us.”
I sat there shaking in disbelief. The mind was racing, “Should I get up and leave now?” No. I waited. 10 minutes later, four men walked into the conference room and sat down. As they put the contract and an ink pen in front of me, I looked at all four men and in particular, the man who spoke in the hall.
Slowly, I stood up, thanked the men, declined the contract and walked out leaving them stunned and speechless. I didn’t owe any explanation. The white owl knew and appeared before me carrying wisdom. I’m glad I was protected from this company.
Thanks to the receptionist who, by the way, was wearing white.
Two weeks later, Jane called to tell me a white owl had gotten loose from the wildlife place the night of the rain and about the time I arrived to her house. She said they found the bird only 10 minutes after it had disappeared. He was found sitting on a tree limb outside the sanctuary.
Here on White Owl Island, I treasure the experience of other’s words and images. And, I shall always remember my experience of white owl’s wisdom.
– genece hamby, contemporary artist & poet
Stable Woman, Tilly Harris, spends a lot of time on White Owl Island. Here local Barn Owls observe as she practices the old art of winnowing.
As she winnows and sorts the seeds from the husks she hums a song
“Fan on power, fan on influence:
Fan on the paddy bin, fan on the paddy barn
Fan on followers, fan on dependents
Fan on good things, fan on appropriate things”
One of Tilly’s motives is to communicate, with people like me, who bring materials to be sorted, the fertility and power of growth possessed by the seeds. Esthonians accomplished the same object by setting a child in the middle of a plot of ground where a sower was sowing hemp. They left the little one there till the sowing was finished believing that the child would shoot up in stature, like the hemp which has just been sown.
While you are on White Owl Island you can get Tilly to sort the corn from the chaff or the seeds from the husks and have her increase your creative fertility. A conversation with Tilly, after she has winnowed for you may prove very illuminating.
Heather Blakey – April 4 2008
Resource for Verse: The Golden Bough by Frazier Part V Spirits of the Corn and the Wild.
I went to the tiny Abbey of St Francis on Owl Island, to break the cycle. I stood under the fruit trees, picked ripened fruit and savored it as the juice dribbled down my arm. I soaked in the crisp air, slept peacefully in the tiny cloister and knew, that for this moment in time, the circuit had been broken.
Heather Blakey – April 3 2008