Walking Toward the Mountain

Hello Sweet Friends

* I will go to a marriage with the owls and the vultures and the juniper trees and the rocks and I’ll not return, though some echo of my body will walk among you *

I am heading south east toward central Oregon right now, sitting in the backseat, stringing tiny rosebuds in long strands of Beauty. My Vision Quest is underway. From Tuesday to Saturday I will be out on the mountain, in nature, alone, with the clothes on my back and two wool blankets to keep me through the nights. I will be praying in my altar, 5 seven foot tall willow poles I harvested planted in the ground surrounding me, my 784 prayer ties strung across the tops, holding me in sacred space while I sing and dance my prayers to Spirit and Great Mystery. It’s really happening now, after 9 months of preparations, teachings, prayers and surrender. It’s time.  

I’ve been sleeping outside most nights since mid May, acclimating myself to the glorious wonders of night out of doors.  We were instructed to start out making ourselves as comfortable as possible. I set up the bed frame inherited from my granny on our little dark woods stage, where we usually hold concerts during the long days of summer, and popped up a canopy for bird poop protection. I went all out, full throttle cush! I slept on my big sheep skin, covered in a down comforter, quilts and wool blankets, favorite pillows to prop my head. There are groups of candles on nightstands and rugs laid to pad our feet. It’s a sweet set up. But more recently Ive had to ween myself from that stellar situation and get myself used to what I am truly in for: 4 nights of sleeping on a bed of cedar, on the ground, with two wool blankets to comfort me.  I’m not too concerned about it, even though its not my norm. It’s only 4 nights and I wont be sleeping much anyhow, as per the phenomena of sleep being tied to digestion and since I won’t be digesting, I wont need to sleep. I can do 4 nights. Thats not the part that concerns me.  

I’m going to be vulnerable here and tell you what does concern me, where my fear creeps in and clouds my trust in Spirit, where I waver, where I wobble. It’s around reintegration after this Epic Quest.  How will I, what if I can’t, when will I know, where will I go, why does it concern me, who will I be? 

Have you ever read Hedgespoken Tom’s work on Coyopa? I’ve long loved his work.Sometimes A Wild God is a long time favorite and a quest sister just shared his Nettle-Eater with me. Like, whoa.  All in good time.  

Nettle-Eater is so beautifully compelling and spot on for me in this moment. It boldly addresses my greatest fear on the other side of the is quest and soothes its edges to a soft glow. The fear, that I might become so blessed out, so cracked open, or otherwise unraveled out there, that I might not be able to rejoin civilization, might not be able to come back and live low I’ve lived, might not be able to to be “normal enough” within the confines of the culture and society we reside in, is what has been so present during this long walk, all this time.  

Reintegration is what scares the ever lovin shit out of me. Not the dark, not the wild animals, not the no eating/drinking, not the being alone.  It’s having to come back, not being able to fully feralize, not having the skills or tools to fit myself back into the box I’ve left behind and have to come back and squeeze into. How will I survive the daily grind afterwards?  Will Spirit hold my hand? 

Another quest sister who is going out for her third time in nine years shared with me that she can't wait to get out there, that this intense prep stuff is the hardest part, that she looks at her mountain altar as a spa. It was such a gift to have her share this with me and I’ve been holding this vision, of my altar out there being a space of restoration and remembering…re-wilding… my version of a spa. But she said nothing of the return, the coming back, the blending back in that will need to happen. Will I be able to access my altar held self upon my return? Will I be unrecognizable? Will I be able to settle myself back in, meld, merge, intermingle? My mentor, Sweet Medicine Nation, assures me I will go back to my bad habits and old ways in short time upon my return, to not fear being alchemized and transmuted so hardily that I won't find comfort and community in this strange world. I suppose that’s its own kind of solace and I’m holding on to her cheeky advice, letting it nestle in where spirit meets bone.  

*I am looking at the world beyond my door and my life is on fire.  I am running, diving in, though surely it means death. I am seeking something unknown, unknowable.  I know the names of it but the beast itself roams out beyond the edges and in the deep center of things. *

As ever, I am living in the questions, these among many others. I imagine they will persist on the other side of this grand adventure, while the answers I seek will be revealed in right time.  All in right time, all in right time.  

In other news:

(if you'd like to get info every new moon on my offerings, whereabouts and transgressions, sign up for my newsletter by clicking the banner at the bottom of the home page on my website at jennettenielsen.com)

We have just 4 spots left for our upcoming fall Wild Roots Sacred Wings retreat in Ojai, California. Last year we sold out well ahead of time and this will be the last retreat we host in Ojai for the foreseeable future so now is your chance to gather with us in this magical spot. We have sisters returning to coven with us and we want you there too. Come along, dear one, there is a spot for you in our dreamscape, song-line, myth-time adventure.

Hey, did you know Erin Faith Allen included me in her Art Maker Soul Shaker film series? She did, it’s true. If you haven’t had a chance to view Erin’s series of short films you can rent or buy them here. Each of them have been unique and incredible, giving us an inside peek into creative womens’ work and process. Very inspiring and a visual feast, easy on the eyes! There are more to come in the series too, so keep checking back there for updates.  

I will be vending at the Tolt Yarn and Wool Summer Maker’s Market on Saturday July 18th in Carnation, Washington, 10-6.  I will have cauldron cups, driftwood handled spoons, vagabond bags, herbal potions, vision pillows, and lots more, including a handful of vintage treasures for you to peruse and purchase.  The other vendors are AMAZING and you’ll want to get their early before I buy all the cool stuff they have! Hope to see you there.

I hope this coming new moon is full of magic and inspiration for you.  Think of me in the dark of the moon, altar held and dreaming on the mountain top. I'll think of you too.  You'll hear from me again at the next new moon, so until then friends, fare thee well.

Bright Blessings from a Nettle-Eater,