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  • Eric "Aspen" Marley

Sheddin' Like a Dawg - An Update from an Explorer

Updated: May 13


All you MMers (members of our online meditation group, "Mainly Meditation") know that I moved from my lovely little cabin in Molalla to a place I/we call, Eagle Mountain (EM).


Actually, EM is not a named peak. It was named that by my friend and teacher, Redtail, who found an eagle feather on the summit the first time he visited it. This was before he helped hundreds of people into vision quests, and before the Sun Dance was held there. The other day, we found a bison skull up there. We have no clue how it made its way to that location, or who or what did so. But, since I “carry” bison, it was a welcome event, seeing it. It's another thought-provoking occurrence in a long line of them that are associated with this Place.


As is the case with all geographic sacred spaces, there are “preferences” about how to engage the unseen Keepers of them. This is not the time to get into that, and to do so would be only nominally helpful in this medium. Written words aren’t as good as conversation when it comes to such things, and experience trumps them all. Suffice it to say, there is a Preference at Eagle Mountain, and it is being made abundantly clear.


My work around this has been to shed layers so I can “hear” / understand what the Place wants, as far as how people, including me, live on it. These messages have been showing up in a couple of ways. One way feels like, “this is what we want.” The other is, “this is what we do NOT want.” I suspect that most of us in our lives, in mundane as well as sacred settings, get these kinds of messages directed toward us far more often than we realize. The ability to hear is the thing, not the consistent nature of the messages. The former is variable. The latter is largely not.


As a natural occurrence of moving to EM, I have been required to do some serious shedding, in part so that I can better hear. It’s this process I want to share this morning. Again, as I’ve mentioned many times, I share these things not because I am special, but because I am common; what I go through, my struggles and successes, have universal themes among all who are attempting to walk a conscious path - as you all are doing.


This shedding started in earnest when I began to pack up my cabin to move.


It became obvious early on that I was not going to have the resources to rent a trailer to carry all my belongings. I would not be able to take trips back and forth, either. Also, no one was able to help me. That's not to diminish the friends who have helped me here and there with resources or other types of support. Thomas has been there for me. Emily made me an incredible quilt that is among my most treasured possessions and that now lives in my altar tent at EM. Toni has been a great help, as has been Tiffany, and others. But for the move, what I was taking would have to fit in my pickup in one trip. So, I was left with the task of deciding what to take and what to pitch. This took a while. Really, it took multiple days.


My "scared" were going to have to go with me. My bison altar, my feathers, my regalia, my “arts and crafts” stuff for making new regalia for ceremony… all that was top-priority. Then, it was, "what do I need to have in order to survive up there?" Minimal kitchen stuff, warm clothes, tools. My books wouldn’t make it out there, but a library is a part of the vision. So, I decided that four banana boxes of those would be stored at my Mom and Dad’s place. And they are.


One challenge was that I didn’t have fees for the dump, and Goodwill wasn't open. So, I did a sneaky thing that wasn’t entirely “woke”: I dumped stuff in various dumpsters around town. A box here, a 50-gallon bag there. A larger portion went to my old employer. I had an old drill of theirs anyway that needed to be returned, which I did. Other than that, the dumpster “looked hungry.” What else can I say? So, Roth Heating got some Marleystuff to pitch along with the detritus that comes with doing dishonest business. (Wow… Marley seems to still be "in his feelings" over this little employment episode – another kind of Marley “stuff,” I suppose.) And Safeway has no problem selling garbage food, do they? Maybe they want some garbage back.


Ah, the rationalizations. So very cute.


At any rate, I did it. Aside from a bike worth about negative $30, my aforementioned books, and a couple of boxes of some things I couldn’t pitch (but I can’t even remember what), I packed everything I owned and headed to Eagle Mountain. That other stuff is still in the shed at the cabin. (The "shed," how ironic.) I'll get it later.

But that’s not all I’ve had to get rid of. Oh, no.


In the past couple of weeks between EM and Redtails home as I've helped him get ready to move to EM, too, I’ve had to try to shed other things that are less tangible. It seems like a good practice for me to list a few, almost like a triangulation of where I am and from where I’ve come. Again, not because this is special, but because this is universal - and will become more so.


Here’s a partial list of what I’ve had to pitch:


· The idea of retirement. My work is consciousness and spiritual connection within myself and then to teach what I can to the world. There is no pension for people with that dream. We take it to the grave. I expect to die on Eagle Mountain. But hopefully not soon. Things are just starting to get interesting around here!


· The idea that it is Spirit's job to make my life easier, or even possible. This has been a kind of release that’s super sticky for me. I was taught, basically, that if God loves me, my life will be easy. That’s simply not the way it works (tell your fundamentalist buddies, please). There are lessons in EVERYTHING, including privation, hunger, and general difficulty. Spirit’s job is to support my spiritual growth. That’s about all I can ask. As I’ve made commitments to growth and service via rites around the chanupa wakan (sacred pipe) and my sacred mesa, I don’t get to dictate how my growth or discipleship looks. “They” do. I get to be on the path and can pray for support when I suffer from things that are difficult due to my humanity. Whether it comes, or how much, or in what form is not up to me. My job here is simple: Acceptance.


· The many dreams I had of living on a sailboat, of surfing forgotten islands in the South Pacific, of heli-boarding Whistler, of having a sweet chopper, of competing in bodybuilding contests, of hunting and fishing all over the world, of travel, even of being “responsible” - these are all gone. What’s been interesting is that the chunks of “me” that have had to be, and are in the process of being, released vis a vis the discharge of these dreams and goals. They leave vacancies. To be honest, it’s been full-time work not to cram something else into those holes. The work is to be with the vacancy – again, acceptance - and expand Soul to fill it, rather than to medicate the void with our drug of choice, whether that be entertainment, pride, or actual drugs - including bad food or alcohol. Even historically “spiritual” drugs like ayahuasca, mushrooms, etc. have been basically proscribed except under the strictest of situations. And those are to be dictated to me, rather than by my seeking Soul or solace within them. I don't expect to use them ever again - certainly not by myself, alone. No, there is plenty of accessible "medicine" without the "Consciousness Drugs." Tools will be delivered to me by Spirit, as needed. There is no need to seek them out; my task is to remain connected and open.


· What other people think. This is sticky because I like to be liked. Moreover, I respect many folks from various ways of life. I have acquaintances that are at the Pentagon, as well as an acquaintance who hates capitalism and doesn’t use money at all. I respect them both, very much. I have dear friends that are Trumpers, and some that would probably walk away if they knew I did. None of it matters. Of course, if I want to have some influence in the world it's helpful to be somewhat relatable, somewhat engaging. But again, that alone is not my work. My work is Presence. To be Self as Soul. The rest follows as it does. I’ve lost massive “status” within my birth family. That’s genuinely hard, among the most difficult things I've ever experienced. But what else am I going to do? “Repent?” Nay, verily. There are no bread crumbs left to leave. The path back, were I to look for it, has the consistency of fog and memories.


· I could go on. As I continue on this path, I will be able to more aptly lend my own voice to this process. If nothing else, I'll do so as a testimony of my own work in this world for whatever benefit it might be. In other words, there’s more, but I don't know what.


There have been moments at Eagle Mountain where I am sitting watching a sunset, or praying at the spring (water is life quite literally for us there), and things come up for me. All the carnage, all the wreckage of the ideas and ideals of my past. Some are very emotionally charged. But they are (generally) behind me - unless I choose to re-engage them. Which, because of my humanness, I have been known to do and will do again. But in sacred moments like these, as I experience an encounter with the Divine particularly in such a pristine location, I say to myself, “I have everything I need.”


I have everything I need.


I have everything I need.


A dog doesn’t mourn his seasonally shed hair. I need to refrain from mourning seasonally lost ideas of myself.


This life is, after all, merely a season in the Life of the Soul.



(art by Noah Austin)

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