It was at 7:30 in the morning when I found myself in the middle of the woods, walking the so-called Wisdom Trail, and staring at two pointy-eared coyotes. Heart thundering. Being from The Netherlands, coyotes aren’t something I usually encounter, and all the stories I’d heard about coyotes weren’t particularly uplifting. I knew I had to make myself big to scare them off, but since the two of them hadn’t seen me yet I turned and ran back up the trail to the spot where I’d seen a house with some parked cars. Rushing out of the forest and onto the property, another not-so-uplifting well-known movie scene appeared before my third eye: the one where the owner of the house comes running out on the porch, riffle in hand and yelling something like ‘get off of my property!’ or ‘sheriff! trespassers!’. That’s something which doesn’t ever happen in The Netherlands, either. I removed myself from the garden as quickly as possible and… found myself in the middle of a street with houses. That was unexpected.
Being surrounded by houses and civilization comforted me a bit, though I didn’t particularly feel safe as I didn’t know what kind of neigherbourhood I’d ended up in. What with the Confederate Flags some of the houses were decorated with? ‘Good morning!’ I turned and saw an American woman coming down her lane, smiling at me. Relieved that a. I wasn’t alone on the streets anymore and b. She was a woman. I smiled and yelled back: ‘Good morning!’ I watched her as she walked towards her car, a large drink in her hand. A latte, milkshake, or coke. ‘Do you live next door?’ She asked. You’d think people know who live next to them, but I politely answered I didn’t, telling her I was staying at The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors and that I had left the Wisdom Trail halfway. I asked her if the street we were in would lead me back to COSM in one way or another. She told me it did if I’d walk ‘aaaaaall the way to the end and then take a right’. I thanked her and went on my way, glad I didn’t have to go back into the woods for another coyote encounter.
After fifteen minutes I still hadn’t arrived at the end of the street, but the road did allow me to take a right. I sighed, mainly as I was starting to notice this was going to be a far longer walk than I’d opted in for. Slightly naïve I tucked my phone out of my pocket to check Google Maps, but of course, Google Maps had ‘nothing to show for this area’. I hopefully looked around to see if I could spot a glimpse of COSM anywhere, without luck. After another sigh I decided to go back. The coyotes would have been long gone and the trail wasn’t that long anymore when I left it.
Feeling like Pink Panther, I tiptoed over the property via which I’d left the trail, once more barely escaping the non-existent man with the riffle. I quickly jumped back into the woods and back on the trail. Before I’d even taken five steps I heard something rustling. Coyotes! Running and jumping happily past me toward some unknown destination. I stared after them, cold sweat starting to cover my body again. I waited till they were out of sight, looked in all directions thrice to check if there weren’t any other pack members around, and continued on the trail as fast as I could ‘till I found the clearing which I knew would offer me a shortcut back to COSM.
With shaking hands I took off my shoes, sneaked inside and slouched down onto the couch. Letting the silence and safety of the Chapel sink into me. I stared out of the window and to my amazement, it’d started snowing. It was only then that it dawned on me what the shaman had told me a week earlier: to be alert and notice the signs. Until visiting her I thought I was tuned in quite well with the synchronicities around me, but apparently I wasn’t, as I’m noticing more and more signs ever since. I pondered on what a couple of coyotes and being scared to death could possibly mean, but it was Google who eventually told me that in symbolism, coyotes are often seen as the jesters who want you to take life a bit less seriously. Point taken. Even though I felt like over the past couple of years, I’d become less serious with every sunrise.
A couple of hours later, in the car back to New York City, I excitedly told my partner in crime for that week about the coyotes I’d seen. My confederate, being from the North-Carolina mountains, wasn’t impressed at all and reacted as if I’d told him I’d seen a Golden Retriever. The way several other people I’d tell about my coyote adventure that week would react. However, when I told him about the symbolism of the coyote, he told me that I was probably taking my chronic pain and Lyme Disease remnants far too seriously. Naturally, this struck a chord, but my mind decided it was probably true. It would only be two months later that I’d fall flat on my face, hard, and realise that the coyotes had been trying to tell me something else entirely.
The fact that I didn’t interpret the coyotes’ message correctly in the first place is typical for Coyote medicine, as it tends to teach by mystery, deception, and trickery. My false interpretation did lead me to ignore my health and my body in a number of different ways in the weeks that followed. Admittedly, I felt great when I returned from the United States, which made neglect easy. But after about two weeks my health started to deteriorate again, with me not even understanding why.
Six weeks after my return from the USA, around the turn of the year, I attended a Tantra retreat in a Dutch rural village. Tantra is a practice and philosophy from the Vedic tradition, which helps you to get in touch with your own inner power and wisdom, resulting in joy and self-discovery. And Goddess, did I discover a lot about myself! Especially that I’ve so much more to learn about myself still! But what I learned, too, was that Coyote had been trying to teach me to be both playful and wise. To be open, while staying true to myself.
Coyote medicine hadn’t been wanting me to neglect my health at all, or to become less serious about it. It wanted me to shed some of my layers in order to be out there, to be playful, and yes, less serious. But it wanted me to listen to myself, too, as I did when I fled from the animals on the trail. Because in order to be more playful, I have to tend to my needs, to be fully charged. Coyote medicine wanted me to find a balance between playfulness and wisdom. But in order to find that balance, or to start finding it, I had to fall flat on my face first, to walk back a number of steps on my path to health, and to be reminded that ‘oh yeah, I’m part of the divine feminine, I’m highly sensitive, and my body has some serious needs which have to be tended to, in order for me to be playful and to tap into my inner power’.
The retreat cracked me open and gave me a small peak at my inner power, at my spontaneity and playfulness. Having seen this power within me has cleared up so much ‘hoocha’, so much stagnant energy, that my path to health and soulfulness has cleared up a bit and I can happily skip forward once more. The crack that was made is my layers is closing up again, which is what happens in Tantra, though it won’t be able to close fully anymore. The wisdom I gained about myself, the lesson Coyote medicine offered me, will stay with me, to keep me just a little bit more playful, a little bit more attentive to my needs, a little bit more balanced, and yes, a little bit cracked open.yo