This is my story.
Just before the shamanic convergence of 2009 we had a visitor from Britain that stayed with us at Serenity. Tina Cockett and I had done shamanic work together when I was invited to Britain. Tina, another spiritual grandmother and dance therapist at home, decided to follow up our shared times together and her own considerable experience in spiritual practice by participating in our Nova Scotia convergence event.
At one point Tina stepped outside the door at our place, and found the body of a male downy woodpecker, completely intact: we offered tobacco, realizing that the medicine of the woodpecker was putting itself in our way just before our gathering.
When we got to the conference, Caitlin Matthews, a Celtic elder and presenter, had a dream about the woodpecker. She shared her dream with a Mi’kmaw elder, Ellen Hunt.
After the two discussed this dream, Caitlin decided that it was important enough to create a community workshop on the spirit and medicine of the woodpecker for the benefit of us all. We created a group ritual within the container of the workshop that included movement and song, each of us getting a chance to experience the medicine from different parts of the woodpecker’s body. This powerful ritual helped everyone embody the medicine of the woodpecker in order to integrate it into our lives.
I decided to write about this in my journal, in anticipation of telling this story and those of other winged ones from the conference some day. When I picked a pen out of the bag I packed for the convergence I had to laugh, because it was modeled in the shape of a woodpecker!
When Tina got home to the UK she took a walk in the forest. This offered her another opportunity to be with the medicine and to share it with others: she was gifted a woodpecker wing and you can see the photo of the fan that she has created.
When I did some drumming on the land at River Song Keep soon afterward, a woodpecker drummed with me, reminding me of the heart and the message of the beak that keeps going deeper and deeper…
The medicine has worked very intensely through my personal life, exposing the heart wood of my ancestral tree, giving me a feeling of vulnerability through the events that have occurred in my family since then. And yet that brings more of the deep layers to the Light, exposing what needs to be exposed and I thank the wisdom of the woodpecker and the grandmothers and those who are supporting my life here on earth at this time.
I have heard that the medicine is continuing to be noticed and experienced by those stewarding the Convergence of 2010, and I will let those in the Nova Quest Medicine Drum Society tell their story. You can see the results in another photo on this site.
This is my medicine. ho!
Nancy Dancing Light Sherwood
Woodpecker Chant received by Caitlin Matthews
WOODPECKER CHANT: (with notes written over – received in Nova Scotia)
D A A, G F# -E D, D A G B A
O yo we, o yo -o we, o yo we, o yo ( Goes with ‘O May this be the One.’)
D A A G F#-E D, D D C E D
O yo we, o yo -o we, o yo we, o yo
From: Tina Cockett
Date: September 27, 2009 7:08:00 AM ADT
Subject: woodpecker postscript
Greetings from England! So much happened during my time with you all that I am lost for words. Lots to absorb, process and learn from. Had a magical last day with tour guide Becca and wanted to share with you a special moment
On our way down to a beach near LaHave, we saw a woodpecker in a tree, and stayed to watch him before he flew off, perhaps northeast wards. At the beach I began to walk on the board walk, when Becca called from the car that all the people’s names who contributed to the project were carved on the wood. I looked down and on the board in front of me was written ‘Shaman’. All the other boards just had Mr & Mrs or Fred Bloggs…
Hi Nancy and David…
Thank you for a wonderful Convergence.
I found out in my reading recently that in European Folklore, not sure exactly where, that the Woodpecker is considered to be a weather prophet. Its’ drumming indicates a forthcoming change in the weather…Paul
From Tina Cockett
… Would very much welcome your guidance/advice on the continuing woodpecker medicine if you have time to send your thoughts.
Very briefly I went over to part of woods/heathland where I live, I don’t normally go, went off path to tree to discover carcass of dead green woodpecker. Still had some flesh and feathers -rare to find complete bird as foxes/crows get everything. Beside it one wing had fallen off. Took home as not sure what to do. yesterday I smudged the wing and body, and then returned body to tree to bury facing west with small ceremony to thank and release its spirit.
I realize this is significant and part of the unfolding interaction with woodpecker medicine…
Spring Message from Tina…
…I had waited before answering your last email as I wanted to send photos of the woodpecker wing made into a smudge fan as you suggested. I had just finished, taken out to the place where I found it to smudged/consecrate the evening before your email came – good connection. Attached some photos of it – I am not entirely sure about the beading and may re-attach but all mine own work, nothing bought…
From Michelle Haddal April 12, 2010
In our medicine circle, we were asked to be open to our totems concerning the Convergence, the following day this big Pecker showed up,
I went out on my snow shoes to photo it. I was up close and personal with out when it shared,
“Just keep on pecking away at your vision and it will manifest” It also left a large pile of”wood chips” so I have given them out to our steering group.
I still have some if you would like,
In searching the web for Woodpecker medicine, one turns up references to Thunderbird Medicine, weather, love attachment and lost children. Also several references to Bessie M. Reid, who seems to have been a very active Texas naturalist hard at work in the early 1900’s, collecting Indian medicine lore, legends and stories, watching birds and banding them. (Someone should write a book about her as I found none listed).
One of the tales Bessie collected, a cautionary one, tells of an Indian boy discovering mescal buttons meant only for medicine men, and delightedly trying them and then telling others about them. All the adults try them and enjoy their visions, but when they wake up discover all their children have wandered away looking for food and are lost. Manitou responds to their guilt and grief by offering to turn them into birds so they can go look for the children in hollow trees, promising to turn them back into people when they find the children.