Having a memory as surreal as mine is, occasionally, amusing. I can recall some conversations with freakish clarity, be they the day before yesterday or Valentine’s Day 1993. But please don’t ask me what I ate for lunch yesterday. So this makes for fun times when I buy something for myself, totally forget, then feel like it is Christmas in September when I get something in the mail I sent to myself. Add to that I’m entirely nomadic for the next 3 months or so and the fact that I ordered something for myself and managed to time its arrival for when I was going to be in a particular place and you have a series of small miracles.
After a fulfilling and exhausting and delightful and challenging weekend, I got back to the home of The Dominant Guy and Mrs. The Dominant Guy to a small package in my name. I stared at it, with absolutely no idea as to what the fuck it was. Upon opening it, I remembered ordering the somewhat unusual piece of jewelery and put it on. My thought process rewound to a few weeks back when, in a conversation about something or other (Really, I can’t recall what it was about at the moment but I’m sure I will in three or four weeks) The Dominant Guy asked me what I knew about hyena medicine. Understand he didn’t mean the science and art of healing animals of the family Hyaenidæ . Rather he was referring to medicine in the framework of Native American cosmology. I didn’t have any clue. I’d thought since there aren’t many hyena running around North America, there probably wouldn’t be much, if anything, around the hyena in their particular belief system. And there isn’t much. What I did find generated one of those moments of “Oh good grief. Really?” when I read the following bits in one of the pieces on hyena symbolism:
Hyena medicine teaches us balance, realizing our own powers, and being happy with what we are given; not wanting for what we do not have. medicine teaches us balance, realizing our own powers, and being happy with what we are given; not wanting for what we do not have.
In my googling I stumbled across a site where a woman sells “totem pendants” and I liked the hyena iteration, so I bought one. Can’t hurt to have a little reminder of balance, right?
And then I promptly forgot about it.
When got it today, I was a bit bummed it was on such a short necklace, but it looked pretty good and so I put up with the low-grade awareness that there was something around my neck and tickly.
Wanting when I haven’t got isn’t usually a preoccupation for me. I will have moments where I have longing or envy for people, places and things. Of late I’ve had more reminders of what I haven’t got, and it swells out of proportion, it seems, when I am around people who have interpersonal relationships that look a lot like what I’ve wanted for the majority of my life.
I am making formidable efforts and progress in relinquishing attachment to what I’ve traditionally wanted in my life, in lieu of honoring and respecting what I have now, even thought it bears not even a passing resemblance to my life-long vision of happiness.
But it is tough to do what feels like narrow my focus, put on blinders, ignore everything else around me and remain happy with…well, with everything. With what I have. How can I tell the difference between settling because it is the best I can do and being happy with what I have?
Well, if I look again at some of the folklore around hyena, I can find the following
People with a Hyena totem have the ability to discern, to be clearer on what to do, whom to trust, what to believe, etc. They trust “what smells right” and what doesn’t.
OK then I am supposed to just…trust? That I know what I’m doing? I don’t know. My track record is, at best? Spotty. Better in the past few years, honestly.
However, in spite of the emotional chiropractic adjustments and choking discomfort of my recent violent growth spurts, I think the hyena metaphor worked pretty well. Those creatures can eat, digest and gather nutrition from an entire animal. ALL of it. Skin, hair, hooves. Bones. They can not only eat other animal’s skeletons, they thrive on freshly hunted prey and carrion alike. I suppose I can say that of my own spiritual experience. Even the rotten horrid shit in life feeds me.
Even if it stinks.
Another hyena legend says
When the hyena appears as a messenger, we will find our ability to discern and discriminate growing stronger. We will be clearer on what to do, when to do it, who to trust, who to believe, and more. We will learn to trust “what smells right” as opposed to “what smells fishy.” Our inner sense of smell will be more acute than what we see or hear, and it will be important to trust it.
I am crazily blessed in so many ways. I left my job and my home and have been taken in by friends. I have validation of the importance of the work that I do. I have people in my life who respect me enough to speak their truth back to me when I speak mine. And I am fortunate enough to love and trust people who have hurt me, and yet I live. I have people in my life who see me for who I am, and don’t run away screaming. And I am learning to not run away screaming from myself.
Being in service isn’t all easy. Not by a long-shot. I understand, now, why it has taken me so long to find someone to whom I would belong, wholly. I have lacked the skills, the heart and the ovaries to be fully me. I’m finding that now. And the scary, monstrous wild me that has been howling and barking for all these years? That part of me is present, too. And even that aspect of me serves, in its own way. I’d not understood how much it took to permit myself to be so open to the energies called forth when I give myself over. Being in service to and in the presence of The Dominant Guy is akin to the sensation I have staring into a cloudless sky at sunset. Marveling at the depth, the vastness, the beauty. Then distractions creep in, clouds and rain and smog and day-to-day worries and maybe we aren’t together and maybe he is busy or focused on someone or something else and suddenly it is lowering overcast and I can’t see the sky. It is an exhilarating, terrifying sensation to feel a part of you cease to exist when you are deprived of the presence of another person. This is the emotional reality of the part of me that desires to be owned. And as much as I want to dismiss it as needy and weak? it has taken every single ounce of strength in my spirit to reveal the depth of that to just one person.
I really am a pretty amazing person. Even without all of the bells and whistles. Even without trying to make everyone else happy. Even without having to martyr my own happiness. It is an odd sensation to try to embrace pain and loneliness as being as important as joy and love. I don’t know yet how to balance these things. But I have three excellent teachers who have their own varying pedagogical systems. Some gentle and slow. Some breathtakingly brutal. All of them carrying their own grace, and I am grateful for these fucking opportunities for growth.