When I was living in California, after having visited North Carolina to find the mountain property that I have been living in for the last 8 years, but not yet having decided to buy it – several dreams occurred that convinced me to jump in, buy and move. Some of them had Eagle in it. Eagle is the animal of the East in Lakota cosmology, and I am an East person in the Lakota personality-type structure that is based on that cosmology. East is the direction of the visionary. I knew the Eagle dreams were coming to guide my vision.
In one of these dreams, a friend from the mountain who helped me find the property gave me a silver ring that was a sculpted head of an eagle. It was placed on the middle finger of my left hand, feeling very numinous and powerful. When I woke up I felt the ring there, but it wasn’t there! It was almost disorienting, and somewhat dismaying. My beautiful daughter, Arlene, went out and found such a ring that fit that finger perfectly. She gave it to me on the morning when I defended my dissertation and became a doctor. I wore it sacredly from that day on.
I was also having very numinous mountain dreams. In one of them, I was riding in a truck with some friends. We arrived at a mountainous place. They all went one direction after we parked and I wandered off in another. I came to the foot of a mountain that I saw was shaped like the head of an eagle. Eagle and Mountain melded in this dream. As I looked up, under the beak of the mountain, where the heart of the eagle might be, I saw a cave. It was too high up to see straight inside, but from where I stood I could see rich, gorgeous tapestries on the wall, sconces of fire to light the cave, and mirrors carefully situated to reflect the interior of the mountain out into the world. I was flooded with insight and a sense of wonder. I saw that this is a calling in life, choosing to live in such a way as to reflect the wisdom held in the interior of the mountain out into the world. I saw it as a vocational calling, like a monk’s life, and knew that it required that kind of commitment and sacrifice. It felt beautiful and very compelling.
Such dreams as these were too hard to ignore. I had to come. I have lived somewhat like a monk or a nun during this time, taking the time here very seriously, sacredly, thoughtfully. At some point, some years in, a friend who could see that I was struggling in certain ways convinced me to remove the Eagle ring from my finger. I called it a wedding ring, the ring of my commitment to the mountain. She said, “at least place it on the other hand.” I did so. I knew I was having to shift but it was hard for me as I am a stubbornly loyal person. I placed a different ring, a silver ring with 4 pearls, on that left hand middle finger as a ring of continued commitment to the vision, while offering the possibility of switching the vision from how I held it in my heart and mind. I have worn this one continuously since.
And now I am moving from the mountain. I have an office on the 5th floor of a charming old building smack in the middle of downtown Asheville, with big tall windows facing out over the town and well into the mountains. Maybe this, then, is my cave, the place from which I will be reflecting the interior of the mountain out into the world. I know the actual cave is my heart, but this location may be an external dwelling place and manifestation of it.
And so the vision moves, like eagle, like wind, like water, like love. And I reflect. And will continue the commitment. I commit to stay true. True to the heart of the mountain that has held me in her love and who has given much to each one who has come on retreat, vision quest and sweat lodge over the years I have been here. Mountain who gave me true-hearted friends to love for a lifetime. Mountain who found the husband for Josi my first-born daughter, Eli, the man she calls “the love of my life”, a man who we all adore. Mountain who is helping me now to release her comforting embrace as I pack up my belongings and prepare to be out by October 31st, a sacred day in some calendars. All Souls Eve.
Come visit me in my new cave. I invite you.