He caught me completely unaware. I have stalked this owl for more than a year. He hoots, tempting me into the wood, but is gone before I get there; hidden in summer leaves or a winter’s bark. I have waited upwards of half an hour only to realize he has flown off and I’ve been left with a crick in my neck. I was completely distracted by thoughts of death and cold. On this evening two mutually exclusive topics. I was home safe and warm in cozy flannels when I saw it begin to snow. Death whispered in my ear, rather dramatically I might add, that one day I would lie upon my death bed and think of this night. How life and nature offered me a chance at a winter’s walk in a dreamy snow and I declined for warmth and comfort. I do my best to ignore death, as she can seem a ridiculous chatterbox in my ear, but on balance, she is more friend than foe. She oft reminds me to live while time is allowed me. Thus, I found myself trading slippers for boots and wondering how death usurped my woolen blankets, when the owl took me by surprise.
He was perched on a the lowest branch of a deliciously, knobby tree. He bobbed and turned his head taking stock of me. My face was stiff and my teeth ached in this biting cold, but I could not leave him so soon. This is his domain. The night and the open field. Sometimes you have to honor the presence of a master with your time. I dreamt once of being given an owl feather. The dream has drifted off into the mist, but that feather often comes to me while meditating. It floats before my closed eyes vivid in it’s pattern. I’d fly with this fellow if it was within me, but I am wrapped as tight as a mummy. I watch as he preens his feathers oblivious to the cold.
I have never regretted anything I felt inspired to do. Magic lies on paths of inspiration and they are the only roads that death does not haunt. Now I sit relishing toasted ciabatta, slathered in peanut butter and cinnamon honey. My nose warms its way back from the icy precipice and my cat lounges across my shoulders, a living scarf. I am alone again as it would appear death has flown off with the owl. Alas, such fickle friends.
8 thoughts on “Death and the Owl”
Am really enjoying your stories of night walks Noelle, they are so rich and beautiful.
Thank you, my friend. Good to have your company on the journey.
Rather a fitting encounter for a night’s reflections on death. They say that Saturn governs the processes of death. And the same aforementioned “they” attribute certain plants, animals and minerals to the influence of the 7 fundamental planets of our solar system, our beloved owls falling under the influence of wise old Saturn. And in the same way they attribute to the Divine part of ourselves the same influence, the Overself in the language of Thoreau, which is governed, so to speak, by that planetary influence which becomes more pronounced as a person becomes interested in the process of awakening consciousness. Otherwise we are left to the influence of the personality, but when inspiration moves through the heart, that subtle guidance is felt and a path becomes more clear. A much broader “they” from traditions of the east, west and indigenous cultures also use this term death to describe the process of prurification from the cause of human suffering, hence the passages in various sacred texts about dying before death to reach everlasting life. Meditation is a necessary precursor to Mystical Death. It begins with a bit of clarity surrounding the conflicts with and between thought, emotion and action. That’s an indirect look at the cause of suffering, but it’s enough to get the ball rolling. Occasionally we can have a direct perception of a given psychic element, Fear for instance, within meditation practice or a lucid dream. If there is inner separation and a bit of comprehension, a quick prayer to one’s own Divine Mother Death, “Cuatlique” among the Aztecs, is enough to send this conditioned psychic element up in smoke. Usually an immediate change is felt, but the heavier psychic aggregates (Tibetan term) can take some time to disintegrate. Sometimes it’s a fight to the death, but it’s not as though anything is really dying. It’s just a small fragment of our Essential Nature becoming unconditioned and free to express its divine virtue, be it patience, tolerance, compassion, courage and so forth; and hence a deeper connection to to Divine part of oneself. With physical death and mystical death it’s the same, a return to our greatest happiness.
Beautiful commentary, Justin. Loved this read. Native tribes around the world refer to death as a constant companion. An energy that rides upon our left shoulder or to the West. I think we, in Western, judeo-Christian culture often see death as a step, a moment, a thing to dread or a thing we must face, as in a gauntlet of sorts. Death is, for me more that of Native tribes, a fraternity brother who has agreed to be my designated driver home. He travels with me everywhere. Enjoys every tale I have to tell of my adventures. Warns me to be good to myself, as all good friends do. When my time here is done, death will drive me home, as promised, ever my companion. Ever my dearest friend. Death is my reminder that I am eternal, not finite. Thank you, my friend for taking the time to come by and share such beautiful thoughts.
Truly powerful… And those words really resonate in me: “I have never regretted anything I felt inspired to do. Magic lies on paths of inspiration and they are the only roads that death does not haunt”. All the best to you ⭐ Aquileana :).
I think anyone with even an inkling of awareness to their creative nature, knows that feeling of following that inspired road. The smell of adventure in a warm wind. Blessings.
Beautiful. Wise. True. Thanks.
I should be as wise as that old owl….