As is so often the case when I need a message or teaching, I receive it in a way that I do not expect, nor would I have asked for it in that particular way.
So many times my most intense initiations and messages come through some form of perceived adversity, being delayed and challenged. They come, bring me the opportunity to learn something important (or not), about myself, and they move through (unless I refuse to learn, then they stay), with me being altered and never the same again. “Big” or “small”, they give me an option to see what I am made of, even in spite of myself. This was the case this last week.
I am in Eastern Arizona at 8,000 feet in the early summer, to honor Wolves. Mexican Gray Wolves have been reintroduced in this area called the White Mountains. There are people who live here, ranchers, hunters, small town folks, who do not like that the Wolves are here. As of now there are over a hundred wolves in this part of the world. While some don’t really have an opinion (or don’t let on how they feel) about Wolves, and a few might feel a kinship with them, I would venture to guess that Wolves are not well liked, even hated, by the general population of folks who live here year-round (exact location unnamed, many location names could also apply).
Last summer Jacob, Elisabeth and I came here to learn more about Wolves. We heard a few of them howl a couple of early mornings, and Jacob even had a sighting! We also had a telling interaction with a local woman at a water spring in the national forest. Her view was that Wolves are not good for anyone. She was sure that they kill livestock and were dangerous for children, therefore there was nothing good about them. She also told us (not knowing that we are ‘those kind of people’) that no good environmentalists are trying to tell her, and locals, how to live. She was very angry. We just listened, didn’t say much. Her experience has informed her, and their was no changing her mind, so best to just listen.
We decided that this year we would have Wolf Spirit Camp. We would invite people from our Earth Web Media Animist Network to come and camp in the home of these Wolves to learn more about their ways, as well as to send them prayers of protection. There are so many benefits of Wolf in an ecosystem, however, over many generations there has evolved an anger, a fear, and an actual hatred for WOLF in people with European heritage. From fairy tales to modern extermination of as many Wolves as possible, Wolves need Human support. Wolves are our Kin. They are an important part of the balanced Web of Life.
So, we came.
After arriving a week ago I got the feeling that I needed to prepare the visitors coming, many who had never been here before, about the local attitude towards Wolves. As Animist and Earth honoring, Leftist, Environmentally Protective people there are so many non-urban locations where there are vastly different attitudes about wolves, anything political, environmental, many social issues, and about the our relationship with the Earth. This is exactly how Donald Trump was “elected”, of course, and since the election many of us unhappy ones are very uncomfortable around these differing attitudes, because it they are dangerous to us and those we love. So to give a “heads up” to those who might need it, I wrote an email to my animist friends who would be visiting me here in Wolf country. Below is what I sent them.
Jacob and I are in the White Mountains now, and wanted to share a few things about Wolf Spirit Camp. First, note the name- Wolf Spirit. I added Spirit because it is important to know the context of being in this place. It is not safe for Wolves here and so we cannot, and should not, call attention to any Wolf in the area. We are here to listen for them, inside our hearts and in the meadows around us. We are here to learn more about them, and connect with them in the Spirit World, while quietly being in their home. We also need to do our best to keep them safe.
There are some locals who support Wolf reintroduction, but many do not. To be more specific, a significant number of people who are here all year feel that the Wolves are a threat. A threat to be eradicated. Anyone who comes up here from the city needs to be aware that this year, more than ever, local people look at city folk and “wolf lovers” as the “other”, the “problem”. So act consciously here. Know that you are a representative of all Animists, and Wolves. Wolves are incredibly stealthy. They are known and respected as shapeshifters and ones who can hide in plain sight. Please understand that any encounter with local people leaves on them an impression about Wolves. Once we are gone, these impressions remain in local minds. Our goal is to energetically honor Wolves who live here, which includes being careful about our ‘in your face’ attitudes (although honorable) that could put a Wolf life in danger after we leave. We are not here year round to keep our eye out for our Wolf friends, so let us ‘do no harm’ by thinking we need to make a big statement about our rightful position.
Two days after sending that email we decided to revisit in a Meadow that Jacob and I had visited before it was burned out in the fire of 2011. This damp meadow, before the fire, was such a beautiful example of a perfect Wolf environment, that on a previous visit back in 2010 I made this video about Wolves and our experience in the general area that summer.
Upon return, in 2017, there were only 23 young Pine trees who remained alive. We laid under these green trees and listened all day to the wind scream as it whipped through the burned out tree stubs on the hills surrounding us. As we prepared to leave the next morning, I offered gratitude and an offering to the Beings of this place. Our van started perfectly and we proceeded down the mountain to the small town get supplies. Our Plan? We would then head west into the national forest where we were to meet our companions in a couple days.
Our first stop was to visit the local park to get water.
As a side note- it is very unusual to find drinkable water freely offered in a park. My previous experience of driving through this town told me that theyfeel that drinkable water is important enough to offer it freely in their Town Park. This is a trend that is diminishing in public parks so this place is special for this important reason.
We parked under a tree and filled up our 35 gallons worth of water containers. This is where my interactions with local residents began…There was a woman sitting at the picnic table right by the water spicket. She was reading her tablet and not looking at us. I decided to be friendly and so I said hello. Very quickly she told me her story of being new to this town, from the southeast of the country, how she didn’t have any friends and it was very hard to get used to this place. She said that her husband was a mechanic and she was waiting for him to finish his work so they could drive 35 minutes back to their home in the even smaller town down the road. She also said that she is a foster mother and her foster son was in the park playing by himself. She told me he had a hard life for his ten or so years and his anti-social behavior always made him play alone, pointing to him shooting hoops by himself. After about ten minutes of listening, I said goodbye to her and went to go start the van.
It turned over but it did not start. Again and again it would not start. We knew it was probably the fuel pump because a mechanic in Tucson said that while it may have a year and may have six months but it was going to go. Apparently now it was going. The minute it would not start I remembered it was Sunday afternoon. I realized that there was not much help available today to get it fixed and so our Plan was suddenly changed in a yet unknown way. I remembered the woman sitting at the picnic table so I went back over to her, told her my van wouldn’t start and asked her about her husband. I thought it was interesting that out of all the professions she mentioned that he was a mechanic, so I decided to be bold about asking. She called him right away and he came over (he was only 2 minutes away). He got underneath the van to confirm that it was the fuel pump. He was a small engine repair guy so he was not able to fix it. I asked him for a suggestion about where to take my van in town. He told me about a “new guy” that would be less busy on a Monday and less expensive than the others, so he suggested I go there. He even spent a few minutes trying to get his number from other people. He gave it to me and wished us luck.
As he and his wife (thank you!!) were getting ready to leave, they looked for their foster son. They found him playing with other kids on the merry-go-round. They were both shocked, because he “never” plays with other kids. He did on this day.
So there we were in a small town with our “plan” to scoot through quickly suddenly changed. We were being given the opportunity to slow down in this town. It was afternoon on a summer day (temperature about 80) so we began walking around. We were so grateful to be here, instead of stuck somewhere out in the bush! In our wanderings we stumbled onto the local theater that was showing Wonder Woman in 15 minutes, we watched the Shero movie with a bunch of families and dates, had dinner and watched folks at the only restaurant open at Sunday at 7, then we (two humans and two dogs) slept in our van in the Park parking lot (yes, Urban Camping, which I had not done in a few years).
Interestingly, neither Jacob nor I were irritated or frustrated. We felt that we were guided to be here, and in this position, needing help from local folks. Our van (our mechanical Horse) was giving us an opportunity to interact in a way that we wouldn’t otherwise interact by choice. Anyway…there was nothing we could do about it, and the situation was as safe and comfortable as we could ask for. We weren’t far off a paved road, with no cell service, in 100 degree heat, and all could have easily been the situation. Thank you for this blessing!!! Laying in the van in the quiet night in this middle of this town, I fell asleep.
Early the next morning I called the mechanic and asked him if he could do this work. He said yes and so I called AAA. A young man with chew in his lip towed the van the couple of miles to the address I gave him. He told me I made a good choice in calling on this mechanic because he was experienced and honest. I was relieved when I met him (not going to name him here) that he was soft spoken and that that my dollars would support a business owner of color in this town. We had now been thrown in together until this adventure completed itself.
The first thing was to find a Fuel Pump to put in the van. Not so easy in a small town. Luckily, on the 5th out of five calls to local part shops he found the fuel pump in a town 45 miles away. This was lucky for me because it meant that we could get the van done that day, rather than having to spend the night in his parking lot and getting it done the next day when the part would be delivered. I sat in the lobby of his mechanic shop almost the entire afternoon working off of his wifi, listening to him interact with his customers and the members of his town. I listened to him tend to people’s problems, deal with gossip and attempt to ward off problems. I learned that he was not a “new guy” to this town. He grew up here, went away to get certified as a master mechanic, and came home a few years ago. After working for most others in the field in the area, he went out on his own a year ago. I saw that his brother and his son and his nephew worked with him. His young nephew with tattoos, baggy pants and black hair, said hello, and told me how he was getting sentenced for a long probation that day because of “bud”. I told him how sorry I was to hear that and that the war against Marijuana is a war against the People. He nodded his head and agreed.
The whole day I felt that I to be very aware of everything that was happening. I was to listen and watch, and consciously speak.
I felt an unspoken alliance with the soft-spoken mechanic and I knew he was taking care of me, rather than taking advantage of me, an obvious city dwelling, white, tourist female. I can’t blame anyone for charging more to “outsiders”, but he was open with me about the part cost, and the labor, and finished earlier in the afternoon than I expected. When it was time to pay the not-so-cheap bill for my revitalized van I decided to throw it on the table and ask about Wolves. After I paid the bill, he and his brother were standing there, and I asked for their opinion about the reintroduction of Wolves. The mechanic gave me a look like “oh boy I don’t want to get into that” and he said he had to take care of a customer and left. I thanked him for his help.
His brother, however, talked to me for quite a long time. He kept looking over his shoulders as if someone was listening as he told me that most people hate them. “But I live in the woods. I see them.” He said. Then he started looking on his phone as he was talking about how he had come across a Wolf in a trap not long ago. In order to help it, he walked quite a distance to where he had cell service so that he could call Fish and Game so that they could come and release the Wolf. After calling F&G he walked back and stayed with it so that no one would shoot it. He turned his phone to me and there was a picture of the Wolf in the trap. He then told me of a recent experience at night coming across a pregnant female Wolf and protecting her from hunters that wanted to kill her, assuming she was a Coyote. “There ain’t no law against killing a Coyote!” they said. He stood up for her and told them “if you don’t know the difference between a Wolf and a Coyote shouldn’t be out in the woods”. He also told them, as they had their guns drawn, if they shot her he would give their license plate number to the authorities. He said “I’m an outfitter I hunt for a living I don’t shoot everything. I look out for these Wolves. I don’t think they should have been reintroduced here to begin with, but they are here…so I look out for them.” Again looking over his shoulder to notice if anyone was listening. He was well aware that most people hated these wolves and yet he is an active, if quiet, protector of them. As he spoke, his eyes seemed grateful that I was asking about them. His long dark hair in a braid down his back. I thanked him for sharing with me.
At this moment when I write this, I look up and a bald eagle flies by above the Aspen trees.
I am in Wolf country. I am also in Human country. Humans of varying backgrounds, Native (Apache), Latino and Anglo, with many attitudes that may or may not be in alignment with mine. Some attitudes in some people are fixed, never to change, while others, I feel, could be prompted to change their minds and hearts, as they have experiences that affect them and their families. Bad experiences change people, and good ones do too. In these times of political polarization and environmental collapse, Wolves are not simply four legged animals. They are archetypes. To some they are symbols of a bad wildness, of a good colonization, and domination over Nature. For others they symbolize a balanced ecosystem, a needed wildness, and balance with the Web of Life. I now wonder more clearly about how to turn the tide of negative attitudes about Wolves, one heart at a time, in one town at a time.
I am not completely sure what all the messages of this experience were. It has taken me a couple days to unravel my thoughts and emotions enough to write what I have here. I understand that I have my view, and I feel it is the right one. I also know that those who think in seemingly opposite ways feel that their view is “right”. My Spirit World obviously felt I needed to interact with these particular people at this time, with me being in the vulnerable position of needing the help that many people offered. All the interactions were based in services being rendered. I wonder how the service would be if I made my views known? One day I’m sure that will be the case. In a way, by me writing this I am offering an insight for folks to see my thoughts and understandings. Jacob said I interacted with people in a friendly, smiling and affirming way. It was good practice, because ultimately, we all need the same basic things, and we need each other. The Wolves, and all the other non-Human Beings of this Earth need us too.
Now, because of the folks in this small town, my pack and I are able to get back out into Wolf territory, and offer them prayers, knowing that others are out there seeking to kill them.
2 thoughts on “Lessons from Van, Wolves and People in Small Town”
Your account was riveting and I have no doubt you are all there for a special purpose. I honor your integrity and heart and appreciate your dedication.
Thanks Quynn for writing your story. With you in spirit.