Carolyn Resnick’s Waterhole Rituals filled a hole in my interaction with horses I have been looking for. Carolyn showed me how to connect with a horse right from the start.
First she introduces a reed for safety reasons. She moves the reed in front of her to create energy, asking the horse to move away. The reed doesn’t touch the horse. The horse senses the energy created by moving the reed with intention. Once the horse understands the purpose of the reed and respects it Carolyn moves on to the first Waterhole Ritual.
The first Waterhole Ritual, which is about creating a bond with your horse. To create this bond she sits with a horse in a pasture or arena and allows the horse to come and explore her when the horse is ready. Carolyn explains that this is the way how horses spend time with each other. During this ritual Carolyn is present in the moment and does not need anything from the horse. She says the best way to achieve this is to read something uplifting or journal to keep the focus away from the horse and create a pleasant environment around you. It is a form of communion with the horse.
Interestingly, I took her online class while I had no access to horses. When I read about the communion piece in her online course, I felt drawn to take a chair and sit in communion with those available to me. In my case it was the forest behind the house I was living in at that time. Read more about this experience and sitting in communion with a mountain.
“Introducing the reed” with a bear
I lived for a while with friends in Burnsville, NC. Their house is located on a mountain with a path through woods behind their house. A neighbor had told us that they had seen a bear near the path and I was told to make a lot of noise when walking through the woods. Bears would be more afraid of humans and run away unless I would get caught between a mom and her cup.
One morning my friends discovered that a bear had rummaged through their compost pile. He left a nine-inch long foot print in a sand box in the garden and the dropping you can see on the left. (The shoe beside it is size 9.5). It looked like a good size black bear to us.
A couple weeks later I was on my way home when I suddenly saw the black, furry, round butt of a bear to the left in front of me. Luckily I was downwind and the bear hadn’t seen me. So I had time to retreat up the mountain and think. Even though this bear looked smaller than the one I expect left the dropping, bear is bear.
I had my cell phone and called my friend asking for advice. There wasn’t another path to the house and they told me to make a lot of noise and go back down the mountain. Okay, it is like introducing the reed in Carolyn Resnick’s waterhole rituals. Only instead of a reed I would use my voice. For whatever reason I was concerned but not really afraid. So I started whistling loudly while moving down the mountain. I stayed calm and alert with the intent of asking the bear to move away. When I neared the spot where I had seen the bear, I heard dry branches breaking to my right. Sounded to me that the bear was moving away from me deeper into the woods. I sure was glad that my first attempt of the “introducing the reed” ritual was successful.
I was very grateful to the bear to give me space in his habitat. After my experiences with snakes in Iowa and hearing about bears here in NC, I have wondered how we can co-exist with wild animals in nature and shared habitats. I keep exploring this question.
A couple weeks later during dusk I ambled down the forest path while the bear ambled it up. When we met I felt a jolt of surprise and fear move through my body. At the same time I saw the beauty of this young adult bear. I clapped my hand and the bear bolted into the bushes. I moved forward clapping and whistling until I past the spot where I saw the bear. Than I decreased the noise and send the bear a thank you for giving way. I took the beauty of this animal home with me and the desire to be able to communicate with the bear and spending some time together.
Sharing territory with a wild billy goat
Walking through the wood behind my friends’ house in NC, I come to a property where I have a wonderful view of green mountains. While there is a beautiful house to the right on that property it seems that nobody lives there. I love sitting on the forest path enjoying the clouds, fog, sun playing with the mountains. It is a beautiful spot to be in communion with nature, the mountains, trees, insects….
One day to my surprise I saw a wild goat near the empty house. He scrambled up the stairs and ran away. I was intrigued and thought this might be a great opportunity to share territory with a wild animal. Next time I quietly approached the same spot and sat down. The billy goat was lying to my right on the porch of the empty house. He got up to better watch me, chewing its last meal. So I kept sitting quietly, enjoying the view, the butterflies and other critters while once in a while looking at the goat. I felt privileged that he didn’t run, just keeping an eye on me as if contemplating who I am.
Next time I approached quietly he didn’t get up, just looked at me. While we were sharing space in a peaceful fashion, I suddenly saw the head of a turkey hen popping up in the grass. Walking up the hill she was followed by another hen and seven chicks. What a wonderful surprise. It was like a nature theater.
Being downwind they didn’t quite know what to make of me and passed only 20 feet from where I was sitting. What a delight. The chicks heads where floating over the grass, the rest of their small bodies hidden. When they disappeared to the left side another turkey head popped up. This one seemed to be more worried about me and kept clucking while moving to the side.
Suddenly I realized that the billy goat had gotten up, watching the turkey with great interest. Then I could hear alarm sounding from the whole non-visible turkey flock. The turkey hen ran towards the bushes on the left while the moms hurried down hill towards the right.
When I looked the billy goat had disappeared only to show up in my front view with a second one. Both watched the commotion, looked at me and then they charged in the same direction the turkey hen had taken. Suddenly the theater in front of me was strangely empty with only some clucking and other noises coming form the left Sitting there I felt into my body, wondering if this would be a good time to go home. After the bear encounter only a few days earlier I didn’t quite know what to make of the commotion. While I didn’t think that billy goats would chase off a bear, I didn’t need to find out. So I send some gratitude to everyone for the nature show and turned home whistling.
In the present moment with a fly
I was sitting at my favored spot looking at the green mountains of North Carolina. The sun was shining, insects buzzing and I started to relax into nature, when suddenly a fly landed on my arm. My first reflex was to shake it off but I was relaxed enough to let it stay.
It was a medium size fly, hairy and seemingly very busy on my hand. I guess it was sucking salt off my skin. I became curious and watched its progress. Fascinated by the flexibility of its vacuum cleaner-like mouth. The sensation on my skin, which was light and only tickling when it walked over a hair.
I was amazed that these thin, fragile looking legs could carry the body. Wondered what all the hairs are for and how these big eyes see. I became very aware of my skin, each cell presented to the outside, their shape, texture, color. I contemplated how my skin might look and feel to the fly.
I felt that my purpose in this moment was to provide a great salt reservoir for the fly. How easy it is to be of service.
The experience I shared with this fly drew me into the present moment and an understanding that we are all connected. I am grateful the fly came for a visit to intimately share territory with me.
Sharing territory with spiders
Back at the green mountain spot I enjoyed the view of the mountains, thinking of the next personal steps in front of me, when I felt a tickle on my left hand. I looked at my hand and nearly jumped out of my skin. An orange daddy long leg spider was sitting smack on the back of my hand busily tasting my skin.
Being in the process of learning how to stay calm and relaxed I kept my energy grounded and moved into curiosity. I had no idea if this spider is know to bite and I decided if I just stay calm it will be okay.
Indeed, the spider kept sucking seemingly delicious stuff off my skin. Its legs, nearly weightless, touched different parts of my hand and the underside of its head gave me a cool, scraping sensation on my skin. It was a curious sensation and I felt honored witnessing this peaceful being enjoying its life.
I love these shared moments. They give me a different perspective on life and an appreciation of how we are all connected.
While the daddy long leg spider was busy with my hand, a tiny jumping spider was coming up my jeans. Isn’t it amazing how easily they jump great distances. To me it looked like the spider jumped seemingly effortlessly from mountain to mountain (folds on my jeans), a distance many times longer than its body length. I couldn’t do that.
Watching this spider more closely I realized that it would take a moment to judge the distance and then jump. It reminded me of Barley, my friend’s cat, when he sits on the floor and judges the distance to the top of the counter where his food is. I could feel the same concentration and calculation in the spider. How amazing is that?