On October 2nd my shamanic allies, shamanic buddy/driver Charolette Anderson and I hit the road for 10 days of ceremonies with the land and wildlife of Yellowstone National Park and the Animal Ambassadors and attendees of A Walk on the Wild Side 2016 at Earthfire Institute. Here are some of the highlights of the second part of our journey.
There are lots of photos/videos to enjoy with this article, to see them click here. Click arrow to right to move to next photo, and read along!
Woke up to grey skies laden with snow. The guidance I had received was to take the Buffalo Blanket through the park from North Yellowstone through the Lamar Valley and over Dunraven Pass and around the east side of the park to Old Faithful Inn where we were to spend the night. The problem was that Dunraven Pass had been closed at 9pm the night before due to snow. The road from Mammoth to Norris was closed for road repair. Unless the Pass reopened we not only would not be able to carry the Blanket to the animals as requested we also would not be able to get to Old Faithful Inn without a very long drive outside the park.
The park ranger was not sure the Pass would reopen, but our guides said that we should travel in to the Lamar Valley and spend some time there before heading to the Tower Junction to check. So, we set out in trust that it would be so.
At Mammoth Hot Springs we had our first sight of elk. There were a few elk cows enjoying a stroll through town and grazing on the lawns. And at the edge of town there was a resting bull elk with his harem.
Outside of town we found a few bachelor bull elk right by the road. They were kind enough to pose beautifully for us.
Along the way we could easily see the snow on the mountaintops and wondered if we would be able to get to the rest of the animals. Our guides essentially told us to chill, it would be fine (-:
We stopped at Tower Junction for a pit stop, and there were two blacktail deer waiting for us. They were standing on the other side of the fence right by the facilities. The animals were definitely showing up to put their prayers in the Blanket and making it very easy for us to see them!
As soon as we turned onto the road to the Lamar Valley we began to see buffalo. The first herd we stopped to see were enroute to a spot that looked like mud or dark dirt to us, but the buffalo were interested in it for essential minerals.
My attention was caught by a male and female buffalo who were a couple. Well, they were a couple from the perspective of the bull who kept nuzzling the cow and trying to herd her in the direction that he wanted her to go. During the mating season a bull will usually travel with the cow until she is ready to mate. This cow was either not yet receptive or was over the whole thing entirely since she ignored him. She finally lost patience with his pushiness and ran ahead and away from him in the direction that she wanted to go.
Eventually our guides/allies told us to move on. Rounding a turn in the road we saw a major line of vehicles pulled over and photographers with huge lenses riveted on something off in the distance. It turned out to be a wolf pack playing! I could see that they were wolves with my naked eye, which was the closest I had ever been in Yellowstone. As I presented the Blanket to them I desperately wished for a larger lens so that I could see more detail (maybe next year), however I was exceedingly grateful for the opportunity since it is a rare one. Even after reviewing the photos I am not entirely sure how many of them there were. I could clearly make out the black wolves, but the wolves with lighter coats seemed to blend in quite well with the sagebrush.
And where there are wolves you not only find photographers but ravens as well. I could not resist taking a photo of the two together.
The guidance was to leave the wolves and continue on, and as it happened our timing was perfect. A pair of pronghorn antelope decided to mosey down to the road, and then crossed directly in front of where we were pulled over. I could practically have reached out and touched them they were so close. Asking for guidance on where to go, when to stop, and how long to stay was working out pretty well for us!
By now we were well into the Lamar Valley and we began to see more buffalo. For the very first time in all my trips to Yellowstone I actually saw buffalo running with urgency to catch up to a larger group. Nothing was chasing them (including people), and I wondered what was up.
Our next guided stop was with a small herd of buffalo resting by the side of the road. I rolled my window down and just listened to the sounds of the herd. It is one of my favorite things to do. After a while your eye begins to be able to focus on individuals among the group and to notice the interactions between mothers and calves, see bulls with an eye for romance—in short, overall family life and relationship interactions that many people never seem to notice.
We sat there for a while taking photos and just being with the herd. Suddenly, in the background, a buffalo cow appeared to our left. But she was not alone—one by one, two by two, more and more buffalo appeared, following along behind her.
All the buffalo we had passed along the way, including the ones running, were purposefully heading eastward to an unknown gathering point. As we watched the buffalo just kept on coming—lines of them from the hillsides converging to join the swelling herd. Some were limping from unknown traumas, yet still they valiantly struggled to keep up. I felt as though I was witnessing a small glimmer of what it had been like when millions of buffalo blanketed the plains as far as the eye could see (see videos).
I asked if we were supposed to travel with them, to discover where they were going, but Spirit said our purpose was to present the Buffalo Blanket and bear witness to the buffalo heading to council.
And then, in answer to a call that I could not hear, the small resting herd in front of us rose and began to make their way toward the larger buffalo herd still moving eastward.
As long as I live I shall never forget witnessing the buffalo moving and connected as one. I did not want to leave, but Spirit said it was time.
Almost immediately afterward we rounded a bend and discovered a small herd of bighorn sheep resting by the side of the road like they were waiting for us. I have been to Yellowstone many times in the last few years and, if I am very fortunate, I have been able to see the agile sheep high up on the cliffs. Never have I seen them this close. It was better than Christmas receiving all these blessings of close-up encounters.
And then Spirit said it was time to head to the Junction to prepare to go over Dunraven Pass. We still did not know if it was open, but who was I to argue after all the blessings we had been showered with in just a few short hours?
Based purely on faith we joined a line of cars. While sitting there it began to snow, and the clouds did not look promising. The line moved forward as more and more cars gave up waiting and left. Our guidance was to stay, and so we did.
Some comic relief came in the form of a raven who was having a conversation with a light fixture that just cracked me up (see video, please note I am still learning how to get the best out of my video camera).
Time passed slowly, so I started taking pictures of the scenery outside the car. An hour and half had passed, and we were now among the first cars in line since so many had dropped out.
Our faith was finally rewarded, the road to Dunraven Pass opened, and we cheered and said a very heartfelt “thank you” to our guides—we would now be able to bring the Buffalo Blanket to the rest of All Our Relations who might be expecting us.
The trip over Dunraven Pass was spectacular. There were still some snow showers and definite gusts of wind, but the Wayras went easy on us. We were still feeling immense gratitude for “good” weather, which I now interpret as meaning being in synch with whatever you are doing in the moment.
Our next animal Christmas present surprise was unwrapped gradually. We saw a lot of cars stopped and people walking into the woods. Guidance was for us to stop also, and I am so glad we did!
Holding court at the edge of the meadow was a Great Grey Owl, who I have never seen before in the wild. He was surrounded (at a respectful distance) by photographers with some of the largest lenses you can imagine, some of whom had been there all day all paying homage to his magnificence. With those lenses I think they could have counted the fluff on his feathers!
As I was taking photos I happened to notice that the photographer next to me was wearing a Seahawks hat which made me smile since I have become a fan in the last few years, so I sort of moseyed over in a moment when she was taking a break and with a smile quietly said, “Go, Hawks.” She smiled back, and for the first time in my life I found myself engaged in friendly conversation on the basis of a shared love for a sports team. The shamanic universe works in mysterious ways. She also kindly offered us a look through her amazing lens, and yes, you could practically count the feathers!
By now I was wondering how much more gifts we could possibly receive and still remain standing. My cup of joy was absolutely overflowing, and after the owl I thought Charolette was going to just float away on a sea of holy wow.
We stopped to spend time with some more buffalo by the side of the road, and I was so close I felt like part of the herd. Honestly, by this point I was starting to wonder if ALL of the 4,000 plus buffalo in the park were going to be meeting us. In previous trips I thought I had seen many, but this trip there were more than ever.
Had a major NatGeo moment when we stopped at one of the rivers. The scenery was spectacular with the rushing water and the beauty of autumn leaves, and then I happened to notice a raven land on something in the rapids. It was a buffalo skull, and apparently there was something left for a mid-day snack. It was very much a wheel of life moment, a reminder that we are all connected in life as well as in death.
I know I have written a lot about the animals, but in Yellowstone there is no way that you can avoid paying homage to the beauty of the land. However, words fail me. My poor photos are the best I can offer.
With gratitude we finally arrived at Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn, who is an interesting personality unto herself.
Stay tuned for the next installment!
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A WILD WAY TO HEAL
Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.
Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.
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