Please Note: The following words are not an indication of my personal beliefs, but rather just a tad bit of serendipity, exploration, and wonder shared. (And yes, that is a sloth that holds loose leaf tea in the red cup above... in case you were wondering.)
I remember the first day I came in contact with a Native American Elder. It was after I had packed my belongings into my 2003 Mazda 3 in Wisconsin and landed in sunny San Diego, California.
Although I wasn’t too adept in knowing anything about “power animals” and “shamanism”, I was open to hearing what others had to say. Within this elder’s kindness and willingness to share what she had come to know in her already long lived life, she not only had some information on shamanic journeying and drumming for me, but also about what she came to believe, was my very own “power animal.”
“You are a swan,” she proclaimed.
Point blank, this stranger of minutes passed told me I was a swan. Furthermore, she explained the animal totem characteristics as I nodded my head politely. The bullet point of a list seemed generically true to me, just as my astrological chart, Chinese Zodiac and horoscopes did at that time. I thought a swan sounded like a cool and classy “power animal”, so I decided to just go with it and as Anchorman Ron Burgundy would say, “You Stay Classy, San Diego.”
It wasn’t until my second encounter with a different Native American Elder that I would begin to see an interesting parallel and pattern. He too said, “You are a swan.”
Well I’ll be damned.
The elder said that their culture believes there’s certain medicine available to us with the animals. That we can learn from them. “When a power animal shows up in your life you can ask what messages the animal is trying to offer you, and symbolically relate it to your life. We are a-part of the animals, not apart from them as humans,” he said.
With a confused look from this free bird of an 18 year old Midwestern native 9 years ago, I thanked him for his time and deemed him as an interesting, and possibly wise fellow.
“Oh, and one last thing,” he chimed in after a nod, “A white feather... It shall come into your life.”
Very well, then.
Fast forward three years. I was strolling around my local neighborhood in University Heights, no place to go other than to get out of my apartment on a hot summers day. While exploring, my curiosity of an eye landed upon an interesting man that was pulling a huge piece of cardboard out of his tiny rusted car. He was headed into our community coffee shop, Twiggs, for what looked to be like a conference or meeting of sorts. As he carried this large conglomerate of a cardboard poster, much too large for his two arms and hands may I add, it appeared he had suddenly dropped something.
Without much thought, I ran to collect what had fallen in the wind and called out to the man, “Sir! You dropped this.”
“Ah, my brown feather!” he enthusiastically proclaimed. He thanked me, mentioned he was conducting a meetup having to do with the history of tribal shamanism and Native American culture and then proceeded to ask me to wait for a moment.
So I waited for a moment.
I looked around for a moment.
I went from twirling my fingers to placing my hands in pant pockets for a moment.
I looked down at my feet to contemplate how fast I could run in flip flops, just in case.
He met me again back outside where I was standing. Ever so gently, moving his two hands forward from behind his back, he presented me with one magical, white feather.
After that day, and many serendipitous magical moments thereafter (that may make more sense at a later time) I now have a tiny secret of a name for project tiny house.
For now, “I shall call you Swan Studio.”
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