Once upon a time, there lived a woman with an enormous spirit who served as a primary school counselor, healer and teacher. She loved children completely and the children loved her too, so much so, they nicknamed her, ‘Golden Head,’ after her long golden tresses and warm smile. Each and every day, Golden Head gave herself to the neediest of children and, in return, the children were drawn to her, delighting in her love. But her co-workers were bitter and jealous, and tried all they could to cut Golden Head down to size.
“You’re not following the rules,” a teacher scolded, with a finger in Golden Head’s face.
“You’re not using the lesson plans,” jeered another, even more furious.
“You’re not teaching to the test,” scoffed a third, certain the children would fail.
The more her colleagues protested, the more the children were drawn to Golden Head-- to play with her, to listen to her stories, or simply to be in her presence. Until one day, Golden Head felt something break inside. Although she treasured the children, she could no longer give herself to a community that didn’t appreciate her work. So, frustrated, Golden Head spoke her truth, telling her co-worker, Ninny, exactly how she felt.
“I do not understand,” Golden Head cried. “Why do you begrudge me what I do best? Let me serve the children, for they are comforted on my lap. This is what I am called to do, care for the young. And you, Ninny, continue to serve the adults, for this is what you are called to do.”
Ninny did not take it well. “You are wrong-minded, Golden Head. You indulge the children so. As teachers, we need to be in charge, set the rules!”
“Yes, I agree,” Golden Head said. “You set the rules and I will tend their hearts, together we make the perfect team!”
“You are not fit to be a teacher. Leave my room at once!” Ninny slammed the door in Golden Head’s face.
Heartbroken, Golden Head packed her belongings and set out, hoping to find a new community of like-minded teachers and caregivers. But as she was leaving, her colleagues waved excitedly, “Goodbye and good riddance,” they sneered.
Forlorn, Golden Head ventured home where she shared the sad news of her day. “I’m sorry, my dear husband, I couldn’t take it any longer,” she cried.
“My love, I am with you,” Chief Redwood said, embracing her.
Then her sweet daughter, Big Hearted, spoke up, “I am with you, my sweet mother!”
And finally her son, Insightful One, chimed in. “It’s your turn mother, to do as your heart delights.”
Weary, Golden Head went to bed, hoping she might feel better in the morning. And there, in the space between wakefulness and sleep, Golden Head heard a familiar sound. It was the sound of the Grandmothers’ drumming, a drumbeat she had heard so many years earlier in her Shamanic Healing Circle. The rapid drumming carried her deeper and deeper into a dream-like state. Moments later, a Native American woman appeared before her, her face shrouded.
“Come, take the baby,” the woman insisted, thrusting an infant toward her. “Take her, she’s yours!”
Golden Head accepted the babe, holding her close. She was a newborn, searching for her mother’s breast. “What’s her name?”
“Emerald, of course,” the woman said.
Instantly, the babe grew sleeves of soft, green grass, verdant as spring time. Sprigs of leaves burst forth from a plume of wispy, brown hair. A crown of roses sprouted about her tiny head. The babe’s features reflected every race and nationality.
“Come, follow me,” the woman insisted, spinning round. Two long, black braids trailed down her back.
Golden Head raced after the woman through the darkness, clutching the babe, the rapid drumbeat calling her deeper into the vision. Suddenly, they were in a luminous meadow, clusters of elder woman chattering happily. It was a homecoming of sorts. Golden Head searched the crowd hoping to find a familiar face.
“Come, hurry up, you old crone!”
“Crone?” Golden Head protested. “I’m not old!”
“Yes, yes you are. You’re one of us,” the woman said, facing Golden Head. “You’re a wise one and Mother needs your wisdom now more than ever.”
“Do I have a tribe?” Golden Head asked.
“Yes, of course--you know your clan. You’re one of the Sisters of the Shamanic Healing Circle, the circle of thirteen young mothers you initiated so many years ago.”
Golden Head burst into tears of joy and sadness for she hadn’t thought of her spirit sisters in ages. Now the woman leaned in, allowing her features to come into full view. She was beautiful and ageless, seemingly Maiden, Mother and Crown at once.
“Are you my Spirit Mother?” Golden Head had a Spirit Mother in the spirit realm that had been reluctant to reveal her face, until now.
“My sweet daughter,” she said, gently touching Golden Head’s cheeks. “Mother needs you to do your work, you and all of your sisters. If you don’t step up, well the earth is in danger. She’s hurt and ailing, and she needs all of her daughters to give voice to their wisdom, visions, and life work. The men have gotten it all wrong—because, my love, they thought they could do it all alone. So, they need us, they need you, all of you, to step up.
“It is the time of ‘The Great Turning,’ when women step forward to join men, to bring balance to all things and all relations. And honestly, the man at the helm, he’s nothing but a big baby, throwing tantrums, for he’s frightened of the change that’s upon him.”
Abruptly, all went dark, and Golden Head woke lying next to her husband, Chief Redwood, who was sleeping peacefully. Yet, she could still feel the grandmother’s drumming, reverberating throughout her bones.
The drumming continued, rapidly beating all day and well into the night, once again calling Golden Head into her dream time. Indeed, when Golden Head lay her head to rest, Spirit Mother was already there; revealing her beautiful face. As Golden Head reached out to touch her face, it disappeared, like sand through her fingers. Spirit Mother took Golden Head by the hands and sat down on damp earth.
“Please, Mother, tell me, what is my life’s work?”
‘My silly girl, why do you think you are married to the Chief?” She chuckled. “My dear, you are a medicine woman, a shaman, a priestess; you have your own flock to tend.” Spirit mother draped a white shawl around Golden Head’s shoulders, and braided two white feathers into her hair. “One feather comes from your White Owl and one from White Dove, signifying your gifts of insight and love.”
Golden Head remained silent, attentive.
“Yes, the young ones love you, because you’ve loved them so absolutely. And now, you’re being called to help all young women find their voice and their spiritual path on this amazing Earth walk we call life. You’re also an important guide for your own lovely children, Big Hearted and Insightful One, for they too need your guidance.”
Suddenly, Golden Head saw the face of a new friend, Sheila, a local Native American elder woman whom she had met at an antique shop nearby.
“Go, go back to Sheila,” Spirit Mother said. “Join her for The Sleeping Bear Ceremony. Remember, you are Mama Bear; you’ve become one with your spirit animal.”
Golden Head now saw all of her spirit animals dancing around her, many from her ancestral home in the north woods of Minnesota--Bear, Wolf, Horse, Deer, Moose, Owl, Red Cardinal, Turtle and Whale. Then, a second circle formed around the animals, filled with her spirit guides, her most beloved Spirit Father and many ancestors, all celebrating Golden Head’s initiation as Crone and Priestess.
Spirit Mother kissed Golden Head on the cheek and vanished, as quickly as she had arrived. Once again, Golden Head woke to her husband, Chief Redwood, sleeping soundly next to her. She wrapped her arms around him. He’s my sleeping bear, she thought, nuzzling his neck.
Golden Head fell asleep, grateful for the vision and pleased that Spirit Mother had finally revealed herself. Yes, Spirit Mother had initiated her into this new stage of life—maiden, mother, and now, Crone. Although, Golden Head preferred Wise Woman, she was comfortable knowing that her task would be shown to her in good time, in God’s timing, in Mother’s timing.
A few weeks later, Golden Head took a scenic drive with Chief Redwood to view the fall foliage. On their journey, she visited her friend Sheila at her antique store. Sheila plopped down on a soft cushion and invited Golden Head to sit down next to her. Golden Head shared the story of her vision; Sheila listened attentively, her smiling eyes shone against her bright, white hair. Afterwards, Sheila invited Golden Head to an upcoming Animal Spirit Dance. When Golden Head departed, she felt contented knowing that the two would soon meet again. As they drove home, Golden Head envisioned herself dancing with Sheila as Mama Bear and Great White Elk.