The Wild Things

by Jennifer on September 2, 2013

WOMAN+WITH+LIONSaturday, August 31st, 2013

I wasn’t even sure how I’d gotten there. I just suddenly seemed to find myself in the very dark forest, sitting over and softly playing my drum, in the cold late-autumn rain, and crying…

I must have wandered out of my apartment and down the path, across the road and long parking lot, and into the woods.  I must have finally let my body lead me to exactly what it so badly needed.  The wild.

Up until that moment, if you had asked me what was wrong I couldn’t really have told you.  It was my first year of college and you would think that living on the most forested campus in the state would have sufficed, but apparently living in the close quarters of student housing after being spoiled by years of living on a magical island was crushing my spirit.  That was the night I decided to move off campus as soon as possible, and I did.

We are all wild creatures.  We, for the most part, have just been tamed.  We thrive on the wild, it is the currency of our life force, our passion, our soul.  And I don’t just mean the wilds of nature, though that is one way to return to and nourish the wild within us.  I mean the wilds of the body…you may feel it when you dance with total abandon, experience sexual ecstasy, swim in the ocean, or do anything creative that involves your becoming completely absorbed and completely free in the moment.

At some point, as a child, we knew this abandon.  We really got upset when we got upset.  We really got excited when we got excited.  We ran, we jumped, we threw our hands around and shouted, and sang, and always cried hard when we really hurt.  And then, one day at a time, we were made self-conscious (in a negative way.)  We were told (or threatened) not to cry.  We were told it was embarrassing to get too excited.  We learned to hold it in and play it cool.  We stopped running wild over the open fields and stayed within fences.  We may have even learned to look down on others who ran free.  Sure, maybe some of the people who run free make mistakes or aren’t truly free, but that can be true of anyone.  The big question is about whether or not you are too afraid to take the chances that matter…

Not that I don’t understand why chances seem like a luxury one can’t afford.  When life gets hard just getting out of bed in the morning or making sentences feel like massive accomplishments.  Someone like me even suggesting that there are more ways to be free may feel like just another pressure, another way you aren’t doing something right, another unreachable goal or even a cruel joke.  If that’s the way you feel, even just on certain days or at certain moments, I have a story for you…

There once was a princess named Innana.  A princess who was, inside of herself, already a queen and even already a Goddess.  She was born in pure remembering, an embodiment of the Queen of Heaven.  And she was also a human girl.  She already contained the all, but would go on to become even more.

One day, before she was crowned queen, she was walking by her favorite river where she loved to walk nearly every day.  It was always golden there.  The light made everything glow, and she was always happy there…at peace with all in the universe.  On that one special day as she walked the shore, she saw a strange shape ahead of her on the sand.  Soon she could see that it looked like a plant, or a branch, and as she came closer it revealed itself as a small tree that had been uprooted somewhere, carried along by the river, and brought to her.  She knew the tree was for her…that it was a sign of a coming time of power and beauty in her journey.  It glowed in the golden light like everything else, but more so.  It’s leaves were at once green, then purple, then silver, as they turned in the breeze.  And right away she loved her Huluppu Tree.

She planted it by her beloved river in her most special place and it became her very favorite spot.  It was where she was when everyone wondered, “Where is our beloved Innana?”  And because she loved her tree so very much, every day that she tended it, it grew a year’s growth…it stretched and reveled in the love it was given.  Innana filled it with her soul so much that a serpent moved into the base of the tree, and a magical bird made a home in its branches.  It was even said that the spirit of Lilith lived in the trunk.  For all these things were the passion and life force of Innana herself.  When she was under this tree she felt only her own magnificence and magic.  She marveled at her body and here she fell in love her “wondrous vulva”.  For here she could explore herself completely.  She had never known such embodied joy.

But the world had already begun to forget the magic that Innana knew.  They wanted her to rule as queen and felt that she spent too much time under her Huluppu Tree.  And there was no reasoning, ever, with Innana…for Innana knew what others did not.  So her family and the others who wished her to fulfill a certain role in the way they deemed “right”, decided that perhaps they could entice Innana back into the temples and the court.  They would make for her a throne, and a bed fit for a queen so she would rule and live indoors as considered proper.  They decided that they would make them from her Huluppu Tree.  Then she could no longer go there, and perhaps would think of the throne and bed the way she thought now of her tree.

And so they sent her brother Gilgamesh with his great axe, to take down Innana’s beloved tree.  Innana, who was not by the river, felt a terrible pain in her stomach when the axe first hit.  The bird cried out and flew away, the serpent slithered quickly off, and Lilith screamed from the tree’s trunk, her red hair wild, and rose naked into the sky.

Innana knew what had happened.  She also knew, in that moment, that it was all meant to be for a greater reason, but her wrath also had its greater reason.  She forsook her throne and bed, and all she had known before.  She knew an act of such ignorance could only be healed with a greater act of power.  She knew she was at risk of losing her wildness, her serpent power, her girlhood, her womanhood, her feminine soul, her animal-self, her wings.  Things we all have regardless of our gender.  She knew the death of her Huluppu Tree meant just one thing: it was time for her even greater rebirth.

It was this loss that made Innana go where no human had gone and returned from before.  It was this act that made Innana become not just the Queen of Heaven, but Queen of the Underworld as well.

She waited until the night fell.  She went to the stump of her Huluppu Tree and said the no-words that the tree knew, and it opened the secret stairway to the underworld.  Once there Innana would give up all of her adornment, her crown and her clothing, one item at a time at each of seven gates.  For one can only enter naked into the underworld.  And while her journey in the underworld is another story altogether, know that she faced her own soul death, and her great rebirth.  And because the world went fallow while she was gone, for a while everyone once again remembered the importance of the wild, and why they needed a queen who would sit under a Huluppu Tree most of the day, and know herself.

When Innana returned to the surface of the earth, she did so again through the stump of her Huluppu Tree and her rebirth was its as well.  It grew back, and the serpent and the bird and the spirit of Lilith returned.  And Innana was happy, and more whole than before…

If you are still in the underworld then my talk of magical trees seems pale and painful.  But it is only because you have not yet completed the cycle.  There is rebirth yet to come, and what is wild in you will return.  And no matter where you are in the cycle, which you may have gone through many times in your life, know your wild medicine and grasp and savor the wild moments when they come.  When a song you love plays and you lose yourself in dance, as you once did as a ecstatic maenad with moonlight in your heart and honey on your lips.  When you are writing or painting or creating anything and you become so absorbed that something moves through you, and you feel at one with pure life.  When you find you’ve wandered to the edge of a dark forest with your drum, in the rain, to cry.

I know we’ve been taught to button it up.  Not to speak up, not to get too emotional, not to upset anyone.  We’ve been taught not to live too large, laugh too loud, or experiment freely.  We’ve been told to calculate the risk right out of everything, though that’s impossible.  We’ve been led away from the Huluppu Tree, but know that even that has a reason, and when you return you will find your serpent writhing with life force, you will find your free bird, and you will find the unruly, untamed spirit of Lilith still living in your heart.

For when we who carry the secrets of the Huluppu Tree become untethered again, uncaged and unbound, the world will be filled with the golden light that makes everything glow, the blood-red pulsing river of passion to quench the dry deserts of passionlessness, and the embrace of the wisdom and pure, beautiful power of the underworld.  This is the balm for the world of people who have lost energy, lost direction, and lost soul.  Just trust that if you are in the dark of the underworld now, you are on your journey and its gifts are vast.  And if you are simply marking the days, ask yourself what really lights up the fire of your heart, what does the animal of your body lean toward, what makes the lamb within you leap and the lion within you really roar?  I know that choosing a more wild and free life involves so many steps, choices and moments.  I am only encouraging one…after the other.  Just let it begin with one.  Like Innana’s one choice to plant her Huluppu Tree.  Just notice the offerings that come up on the shore of your river, and see what speaks to you.  It may just be that you pass some wild blackberries, and when you lean in to pluck and place one in your mouth you really taste it.  You let its flavor explode like a sun-warmed purple ocean of bliss.  And if the first one is bitter you try another, or wait.  Ripeness always comes.

Love, Jennifer

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Carl Landsness September 3, 2013 at 9:41 am

Very timely and affirming…
to both my wild masculine and feminine energy.
I just returned from Spirit-guided journey to DC and Serpent Mound…
challenged by the dark despair in and around me…
rebirthed by serpent energy of the mound and community…
bringing such seeds of wildness and rebirth back to my polarized Madison WI…
to catalyze collective rebirth and wildness…
for those willing to risk, reach, and rise.

Thank you for your life-giving light.

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Lynnda vanLightning September 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm

At one of the darkest moments, yet again, comes the love and light of the wild…!!! I was brought up in the starkest of wilds, without other people or electricity, like 1300 BC Kuwait without the village, innocent and pure. I was threatened and punished ferociously, as were my brothers, for having any kind of emotions, any time at all; to remain silent and endure and to have not what others had so freely. Jennifer’s courses freed me, reminding, remembering who I really am. Do I get caught in life defying nets that seek to bind me, if not outright extinguish me? Yes. Yet again. At just the darkest time comes another graceful invitation to run wild, to remember, to understand, to ripen. So, with a broken back, no employment, no income, I will run wild and find my way, even as I escaped in my youth, climbing the mountains, sitting naked, letting the breeze caress my body as sent love letters to the Mother-Father divinity that created and loves us all, that lives in us, regardless of dark or light.
So, thank you, once again, from my deepest heart and soul, beautiful Jennifer, for this wondrous lifeline, in very stormy seas, to be true to the essential wildness of our true nature, to once again, go free!

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Tasha September 3, 2013 at 9:30 pm

I love it, and it parallels my day. When watering out front at our townhome I noticed a Grand Oak sprouting among the ground cover. It felt like a gift for us and I called my husband over who had noticed it to. Knowing that the gardeners would take it out, we decided to give it a new home. I hope it likes it with us!

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sasha g October 9, 2013 at 12:59 am

Jennifer this is amazing . I’m touched by this story its enchanting and sweet, so beautifully written. Your an amazing woman thank you for sharing this story. Please share more. 🙂

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