An Eagle’s Mighty Flight

“Eagle’s World”

This is a chapter in my book “Compassionate Tarot Companion”.
The book’s overview with download & 2 chapters … {-here-}
All blog posts that are chapters … {-here-}

I was on a religious retreat one time, at a camp­ground in the New England woods, and it was a time when I was very troubled about some personal issues. Really it all came down to a question of courage and a question of which way to go.

Now, as you may know, the bald eagle is very sacred in North America and I knew this in a theoretical way, just like I knew that various species are seen by humans as great sacred animals all over the world. But bald eagles are very rare in New England these days, and every other place where I had ever lived, and I had never seen one flying free.

Well, I went out walking in the woods that morning in a very prayerful state. I was not communing with any specific deity, you understand, but striving to open my being as a whole to the Universe as it was manifesting there where I was in that region of physical existence. And I was offering a request for specifically useful wisdom.

I had stopped to sing some chants along the way, and such as that, and then came to the big open meadow where our rituals and celebrations were done on that retreat. Of course I paused in the shadows of the forest edge to stand and gaze on this sunlit place, empty of other humans there so far that morning, but a space where a human community lived consciously inside of Nature.

And I was opening myself again and sending forth my yearning prayer again as I had done in several other scenes along a wandering path.

A mighty eagle rose from the treetops of the farther verge, absolutely in the center of my right eye’s vision.

It was huge, exactly spanning all the breadth of my right eye’s vision.

Up it rose with mighty wing beats, but only high enough to easily clear the tallest trees, facing straight away from me, and beat its way straight ahead of me until it disappeared beyond that close dark green horizon.

Should I explain the meaning that I immediately gained from this or can you read the omen?

There is a little more. Some months passed, another year, a different summer.

A lady friend and I drove up to a big public fair they’re having annually in Maine. This big do is a folk­life festival, natural agriculture exposition, left wing poli­tical convention, free speech venue, handicraft shopping outlet and down-home tourist attraction rolled up into one, with definite overtones of Nature veneration.

For example, I bought myself a really far-out hippie magic hat for use when doing children’s story­telling. A useful item and excellently crafted.

But along the way to that, before the tent where they were selling these unusual hats, my lady friend and I walked into a big tent that was reserved for Native American endeavors.

The air was somber. This was not a merry day for them. But still, from the earth I had a sense of some­thing waiting.

We threaded through among the nearly silent shif­ting crowd in the labyrinthine paths between the laden tables of the merchants, artisans and activist associa­tions, there in that deeply shadowed grassy hall.

Then finally, not quite to the sunny open door at the farther corner, I came upon a little family camp defended by a barricade of tables. That is the only apt description, unless one were to say the family huddled there were on a boat adrift, the tables being gunwales and the shifting crowd a sea.

A man, his son, the young man’s pregnant woman. A look near desperation on the father’s face, he standing, gazing on the son who sat, the woman in his arms, on a blanket on the grassy earth, she looking worried, resolute, and very young, the boy in some confusion.

The eagle’s gift was now to be repaid.

The father and the son were fine carvers in wood, the man a master of that art, the son apprentice. Beautiful pieces of their work were set out on the tables, statuettes of beasts and birds, implements that must be sacred to any needing hand. There was an album of photographs of more through which I leafed in hopes that clarity would come before the moment came to speak.

But then the father looked at me, resentful of my looming psychic presence, and so I must at once snatch off my Druid’s kind of cap and lean upon my tall Druidic walking staff in a very modest and apologetic bow for the interruption and let the words flow how they would.

With the woolen cap held to my heart, I heard this from my mouth: “Good morning, sir.” I gulped a breath. I shrug­ged. “I don’t know your people’s ways; I follow Celtic ways myself.”

The father let me have an impatient but accept­ing nod.

“But if I can take a minute of your time, there’s a story I’m supposed to tell.”

Astonishment came to his face almost as if – I have to say – this meeting was foretold. That felt to be the obvious impression.

And blink! The boy was on his feet, pressed to the father’s side just like a brother would have been, and with astonishment written on him too.

And so I rose into it then, an open gesture with an out­stretched hand, but then a gawker from the crowd perked up, a smile stuck on his silly face as if to see the show, so I must bring a curtain down and there we stood as if it were indeed a camp with darkness all around and I a stranger from the dark­ness come to tell a tale.

I told it briefly, the man still nodding with impa­tience, now straining toward the story’s end as if that were the only thing he didn’t know already. The morning of my walking prayer for guidance from the land, the mea­dow field, trees beyond, Mighty Eagle rising. It filled my right eye and flew ahead.

And the lesson I had read in it: I said, “I under­stood from this that I should go Strongly! Forward!”

I paused.

He nodded, quite as though to say my reading was obvious enough and obviously correct, but he waited for the rest.

I said, “And now today, although I don’t know why, I felt that I should tell this to your son.”

I shot the lad a look.

A gasp from them. A startlement beyond before, and to each other’s eyes they turned, and deep into each other’s heart they gazed. And in that space the light arose.

There was a story there I have no wish to pene­trate, a privacy I do not want to understand.

With humble thanks and bows, unheard, unseen by them, I took my leave.

We went and found a magic hat.

( Here is the end of this memoir.-)

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