By Claudia Goncalves
At first it felt like a calling to go into the forest. I got myself changed into warm clothes. It was very cold out there. When I was about to take the right turn to the forest, I heard a voice saying. ‘Keep walking forward’.
What a beautiful place, I thought. I am truly blessed that I live here, among all this beauty that is everywhere and in everything. Then I realised that it had been exactly one year since I walked in this very place. I did not know where I was going. All I could hear was ‘keep walking’, so I did.
I then decided to look for the little house that had been coming into my visions for the past year. I only knew it was a tiny house, hundreds of years old and that it was beside a river. So I decided to follow the river. The water was high and the current strong because of the snow that had been melting from the mountain tops for the past two days.
I came to a point where there was no choice but either to jump across the river or go back. My legs are short, so I had to look for the narrowest place to cross. My mind kept saying to me, ‘there is no way you can jump this river. Are you out of your mind?’ Well, I have been trying to quieten my mind for quite a few years now, so I just threw my drum to the other side of the river to see what would happen: ‘Oh my God! Now you have to jump! You cannot leave your drum there!’ Well, that was quite easy - a good way to trick the mind, I thought.
So off I went, and flew across the river before my mind had time to say no. My trousers got wet. ‘Not too bad’ I giggled. Then I had to grab the muddy bank of the river to pull myself out, not too difficult, as it happened. I picked up my drum and set off.
I walked for quite some time looking for the little house. Suddenly there it was, a tall hollow tree with a big opening in the trunk. Inside, if I stood up, there was room for my whole body. It was dusk and I felt the veil of the darkness silently descending.
I was hungry and the wind was very cold. Immediately Spirit offered me something to eat. Right in front of me there was a field of winter greens. Delicious! My scarf became a hat, my ears were warm now and there I was, in the middle of nowhere… I had absolutely no idea of my whereabouts. By now it was really dark.
I could smell fear creeping around, trying to find its way in. ‘I have to be quick this time’ I thought. So I shifted and asked permission to enter the Spirit World safe and sound. I sheltered myself inside the tree; I wanted to be invisible in case fear was still around. How comfortable and welcoming it was! I felt supported, deeply happy and warm. There I stood, observing the physical world from a far place.
My quest began. A deep voice of wisdom started to speak. At first it felt like the wisdom of the tree but then I realised it came from beyond the familiar wisdom of my friends the trees. I asked about something that had happened to me the day before and I heard this: ‘Sometimes our physical world, the world of our illusions, will collapse. Sometimes our illusions will not collapse at all yet they will be taken away from us. That is a natural process, a process that is necessary so that we can access the world beyond the physical: the world of Spirit. It is difficult to access the spiritual world if we are always grasping and grabbing at the illusions of the physical world. The word itself makes it clear that the world of Spirit is not about matter, or grievances. So ‘all that is not Spirit’ has to be left behind.'
Everyone can commune with Spirits if they choose to do so. I then focused on my quest, for I was there to learn about cure. ‘Intent’, I was told, ‘holds the key to your quest to learn about cure. And the importance of intent should not be taken lightly. It is very important to have a clear intent.’
I walked through the forest and sat at my chosen place, looking down the river. The current was extremely strong and I felt uneasy - there was a part of me that was afraid of the power of that flow. I thought of the flow of the Universe and the many times in my life that I have fought against that flow. This made me even more uneasy. I stood there for quite some time, very quiet and still, waiting for something but not quite sure what. I could feel my guides behind me; they were also very quiet and still.
Suddenly from the darkness between the trees I felt something jump from my left to my right. It was very big and black, like a really big bear. I didn’t feel threatened or in danger but I could feel his power and authority. He wasn’t there to play or have fun; he came to challenge me. I stood still - it did not feel appropriate to move. I kept holding to my intention to learn about cure.
He said: ‘So, you are here to learn about cure? And what makes you think we would teach you? You are weak, you have no clear intent and you have a big ego.’ His words felt like a sharp knife cutting me in two. Tears poured down my face. He was right. I was weak. I didn’t even know why I wanted to learn about cure, my intent was not clear and amidst all that, there was a lot of ego.
I felt crushed and inadequate. I was ready to give up and go back home when I sensed someone watching me from about two metres away. Still crying and looking down the river, I heard a gentle and kind voice in my ear. ‘Why don’t you go and talk to the tree you have cured? Maybe it will give you some insight about what to do.’
I was tired, I couldn’t see the point of going there, on top of which it felt like a long way to go. Just then I heard the bear again: ‘You see how weak you are? Do you think that knowledge will be given to you without you making any effort? If you want something, you have to act upon it. First you have to shift from where you are: a place of weakeness and victim.
It was really hard, for my body just wanted to stay there, completely defeated. It took all my energy and will power to stand up and walk down the little hill in the direction of the tree. My body felt ill, heavy and in pain. I used my walking stick to help me down. I was feeling really sorry for myself and was hoping for sympathy from my old friend the tree.
The victim in me was now so strong and heavy that the next moment my walking stick broke in two! I was shocked. The spirits of my ancestors had given me that walking stick the day before and I had grown fond of it, even a bit attached to it. It felt as if my crutch had been suddenly wrenched away from me and I had no other option but to straighten myself up and walk properly. In astonishment, I picked up one half of the stick from the ground and asked Spirit ‘Why?’ Then I remembered the cracking noise when it broke and realised it had been my wake-up call.
Suddenly, all became very clear to me. I could choose to walk in beauty and power but instead, there I was, crippled and weak. That was not good. I got myself to the tree but there was no sympathy to be found, not one bit. I wondered why my friend the tree, who had always been pleased to see me the many times I came to give it healing, was now standing there as if it didn’t know me at all. I felt desolate. I curled up beneath it with tears pouring down my face. My ego could not take it any more. ‘What have I done wrong?’ I asked.
Just then I heard the voice of the tree: ‘You think you are weak, and you think your ego and weakness are part of you. They are not. They are not who you are. Now get yourself into that river and ask the Water Spirit to wash away your ego and your weakness. Offer them to the Water Spirit’.
I looked at the river. Surely the current was too powerful? It felt as if too much was being asked of me but at the same time I knew what I must do. I had come many times to that same river and asked it to remove dead, lethargic, diseased energies from my body. So many times I went there, removed my socks and immersed my feet in the river, and the Water Spirit would always happily cleanse my body and energy system, leaving me vibrant and strong again.
I stood up. I still had the two pieces of crutches in my hands and I used them to help me down from the bank into the river and test the depth of water. It was very cold. I felt the urge to move right into the current and let its power do the cleansing. Suddenly I could feel the strength of the water pushing at me and I had to stand firmly on my feet so as not to succumb to its power. I saw my weaknesses being washed away, together with the two pieces of my crutch. I asked Spirit to wash away my ego too. My wellington boots filled with water - the water of Spirit! I started to laugh and laugh, feeling much lighter and content.
I claimbered out of the river, removed my wellingtons, emptied out the water and felt really strong and empowered. I thanked the Spirits and walked up the little hill. I was very happy. As I passed by the place where I had encountered the bear, I felt very proud of myself and thought: ‘Well, I am strong now, very strong!’
At once I heard the voice of the bear. ‘Come back tomorrow then, to get read of your self-importance.’