Not far from my home in Capitola is a gorgeous place, The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. Lately, I have been traveling there for brief hikes with a friend. It’s not old growth forest, and, in fact, was clearcut a century ago, but the towering Redwoods give some perspective on our brief, often seemingly rootless lives.

The other day, a friend and I were walking along a road in the forest, and spotted a butterfly with black wings spotted with orange and white. (I later discovered that it is a California Sister butterfly.) She said, “This is great animal medicine!” Not being versed in Native American spiritual practice, and wary of attributing significance to such events, I simply enjoyed the kismet of finding a healthy butterfly just “hanging out” in the road. “He is completely unafraid!” my friend said, noting that it was able to move, but not moving. I placed my finger next to its head, and allowed it to crawl up on my hand. My friend took some photos. She offered to give me some readings later about the significance of the butterfly.

After our healing walk amongst the welcoming redwoods, I went to a healing session with a local practitioner. He had me stand on the floor, feeling my rootedness to the Earth, “like a tree,” feeling the power of the Earth. During the session, he asked me to recall a time when I was feeling particularly good and powerful. “Building my house,” came immediately to mind. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, in 1992 I designed and built a small house in the rugged woods of central New Hampshire. He encouraged me to feel that energy, and associate a color with the feeling. “Green” was an easy choice. The profusion of evergreens, towering pines and majestic hemlocks populated the mixed New Hampshire forest, with it’s steep cliffs, huge boulders, hollows and small stream. “Green house energy.” He said I could take that energy into “building my life.” As I lay on my back, acupuncture needles embedded in my body, I felt the green house energy coursing through my body. Something shifted, and I felt freer, stronger.

I transitioned from the healing session to a writing class at a local college. I have not been able to write for the past year or so, and the class has helped me open up and begin to share some of my stories. I decided, despite the butterflies in my stomach, to read part of my recent story to the class. Apparently, they liked it, and I got some very nice feedback from class members. Another opening.

Later, when my friend showed me the Medicine Card for the butterfly, it spoke of transformation. Perhaps the grieving over all the losses of the past few years is transmuting into something less painful, more joyful, like the colorful wings of the shamanic butterfly. In any case, I feel more rooted, more powerful, and am ready to move into the world with a renewed determination to build my life.


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