Last week when I wrote about transformation, I think I forgot to point out that Salmon themselves are great Transformers. As their life circles around, they start as eggs which become freshwater fish in rivers, then transform themselves into travelers journeying downriver to the vast ocean, and next into adult saltwater fish. These are not trivial changes. And when the time comes, they change again as they journey back upriver to the place of their birth, where they breed and lay their eggs. There they die and begin their transformation in many different forms — human, bear, eagle, young plants, the Forest that protects their river. In their journeying, salmon carry bountiful gifts in their bodies. They bring themselves as food for the ocean’s web of life and then, in their return, food for life on land. And to the land it is not only the obvious gift of their own flesh that they bring, but also the ocean’s gifts of missing salts and minerals needed to sustain the living forest community. The salmon’s many changes are special glistening threads woven in & out through the warp of Earth’s community, helping connect and thus create the boundless tapestry of life.
No wonder Salmon are celebrated in myth & story wherever they are found — beloved & admired not only for their beauty, their strength & their generosity, but for so much more. The ancient Celts, for example, told of the salmon who dwelt in the Well of Wisdom and acquired all knowledge of the worlds when he ate nine hazelnuts that fell from the surrounding hazel trees. Whoever should eat the first taste of the Salmon of Knowledge would receive that knowledge and wisdom……..which, of course, led on to more wonderful, expansive myths and tales of adventure and change.
I was so happy, this week, to come across a salmon tale still being formed in our present time, written down by Marc Dadigan .
The first paragraph begins “Thousands of relatives of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe arrived at the McCloud River floating inside a little orange cooler earlier this week.” And those relatives were the “20,000 fertilized endangered winter-run Chinook salmon eggs which were about to return to an old home on the McCloud River, the Tribe’s ancestral watershed.” The preceding chapter of this story, leading up to the salmon’s return, includes both years & years of difficult negotiations and the steadfast spirit of the Winnemem Wintu people. “According to the Tribe’s genesis story, salmon gave its voice so human could speak and in return Winnemem Wintu people promised to always speak for them.” As the Tribe’s song captain Helene Sisk, “We’re always going to stand up for salmon, because they stood up for us.”
Salmon lives, unable to find appropriate breeding grounds below the dam that cut short their journey 80 years ago are returning to the upper river that had been barren and lonely for too long. The salmon were greeted & celebrated by strong ceremony, just as it should be. “We’re praying,” the people said, “that they remember these waters.”
The people native to this place refused to let the building of the dam be the end of the salmon’s story. The event described in the article is just the beginning of a new story with much more to unfold as the Winnenmem Wintu people continue to speak out for their relatives, the salmon.
So, on-going change & transformation……. Please read the article which includes much rich detail & photos. https://shastascout.org/were-praying-that-they-remember-these-waters-supported-by-tribal-ceremony-salmon-eggs-return-to-the-mccloud-river-after-80-year-absence/
I’ve been spending time — full of learning & not without frustration — trying to discern a context for The Keeper of Rivers. Just in the contemplation of colors & forms, I have deepened my empathy for rivers and for the many ways of their being & the many different spirits they gather.
Thinking of rivers reminded me of the message that came from the Hopi people after 9/11/2001. It uses the River as it speaks about the flow of changes we are all experiencing:
“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour. Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour. And there are things to be considered... Where are you living? What are you doing? What are your relationships? Are you in right relation? Where is your water? Know your garden. It is time for you to speak your Truth. Create your community. Be good to each other.” Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold onto the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate! At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word “struggle” from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!’”
I finally felted this this piece yesterday & found (as I always do) that the wools & silks have been transformed by the process. A few surprises….
This still doesn’t feel finished, so I haven’t sewn on the mask yet. There may — or may not — still be some flowing and changing needed. I’ll pause and listen to the rivers’ songs.
P.S. Since I was late posting this blog — running slowly & wobbly this past week — I shared this beautiful & wise poem at the regular 5 a.m. time for any first-day readers. I include it here so you all can enjoy it.
The Way It Is by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer "Over and over we break open, we break and we break and we open. For a while, we try to fix the vessel--as if to be broken is bad. As if with glue and tape and a steady hand we might bring things to perfect again. As if they were ever perfect. As if to be broken is not also perfect. As if to be open is not the path toward joy. The vase that's been shattered and cracked will never hold water. Eventually it will leak. And at some point, perhaps, we decide that we're done with picking our flowers anyway, and no longer need a place to contain them. We watch them grow just as wildflowers do--unfenced, unmanaged, blossoming only when they're ready-- and mygod, how beautiful they are amidst the mounting pile of shards."
Sending you all love as we float or swim in the rivers of change —-