It was fall in northern Ontario. The forest surrounding the lake was a riot of colour; the bright reds and yellows of the maple, birch and beech trees in bold contrast with the dark greens of the white pines and the spruce. The air had a bite to it. “It would be cold tonight” she thought, “but at least there would be no mosquitoes!” Her skin was still warm and tingly from the Sweat Lodge.
She held her supplies in her arms; a blanket to sit on, rain gear, and her pipe. She found her place in the forest; about 15 minutes from the main camp, beyond sight of the lake, and 50 meters off the trail. There was an opening in the woods with several larges trees on the perimeter. It felt like a circle. She set her blanket near the middle, on a flat spot beside an outcropping of pink-streaked grey granite. She opened her pipe with the prayers she has been taught. Then, she stood in each of the eight directions to call upon their powers; to create a safe and sacred place. She would stay here all night; a time to re-connect with spirit; to seek guidance for her life.
She felt nervous as the sun set and the shadows grew; anxious about bears and other creatures in the wild of northern Ontario. She felt frail and vulnerable, conspicuous, and out of place. She sat quietly; trying to quell her fears; trying to quiet her mind; hoping to receive a vision or a sign.
She focused her mind on the question in her life. She was 36 years old with a 2.5 year old child. If she was going to have another child, she must do so soon. But her son, who had been plagued with gastro-intestinal issues, had not slept for two consecutive hours since he was born. The sleep deprivation was making her crazy. She feared she could not handle another child. She feared it would push her over the edge. So, she was seeking guidance from the Great Spirit.
When she grew cold through the night, she stood, chanted quietly into the darkness, then visited each of the eight directions and spoke her prayers out loud. As the night wore on, her mind grew quiet and calm. She felt herself blending into the forest; her energy aligned with the earth and the trees. She no longer felt conspicuous; she no longer felt separate. She felt safe; she felt at home. When the light filled the sky, she gathered her belongings, closed her circle with prayers of gratitude, and headed back to the main camp. She felt tired but light and alive.
She reported in to her teacher, “Well, I feel wonderful but nothing happened; I received no visions, no messages, no signs. But twice, when I was praying to the eight directions, I inadvertently skipped the northwest and had to re-trace my steps”. Her teacher smiled, “The northwest is the direction of Karma; it speaks to our purpose for coming into this life. Is there something that you were born to do that you have been resisting?”
The woman burst into tears, with a knowing from deep within her being, “Give birth to a second child”.