We had been on the river all day with periods of whitewater and calm floating. This was the second day of a 3 day trip on the Rio Grande near Santa Fe.  We found a clearing next to the river to spend the night under the stars.  Four friends had been invited by our expert whitewater guide to help celebrate her birthday. 

After dinner, we sat around the fire and watched the stars appear as the sky grew darker. The time was right for a shamanic journey. We all laid down, got comfortable, and prepared as the drum began in a heartbeat rhythm.

We began by going down to the worlds below. I went down the steps and entered the cave. I was aware of needing to watch my head as I went further and further down. I reached a plateau then began traveling along a dark hallway revealing a junction with three passageways possible. Always interesting which one we choose.  Left which often reflects a deepening of our connection to our higher self. The right relates to our interaction in the world. Or the middle path which indicates neutral energy, like that of the witness.

The right path called me and I answered. The way was dimly lit and after a short walk, I came across a turtle, old and wise, standing on his back legs and looking at me. I asked the turtle a question to receive knowledge that would help me in my spiritual journey. 

I asked my question and in response, the turtle asked me a question. I answered and asked him another question. He responded again by asking me another question.  I was beginning to get frustrated for it seemed that he was avoiding answering my question. After a few more rounds of him asking me questions, I heard the answer to my question. Wow. What a wise turtle who instead of giving me the answer, was able to guide me into finding the answer myself. I was delighted and grateful. I thanked him for his patience and wisdom, and slowly made my way back to the entrance of the cave and returned to laying on the earth next to the fire under the many stars twinkling overhead. 

The shamanic journey ended and sitting around the fire, we shared our stories in a show of trust and to witnesses for each other. Each told of meeting his or her power animal and the exchange that took place.  Our guide spoke of her own journey and how unusual it was. She expressed that she has one power animal she normally meets and talks with, but on this night her power animal was not there and she met with another.  Her usual guide is the turtle but on this night he was with me. 

In life, the best experiences, the ultimate truths, and the place where we truly know what it means to be authentic, all run deep. In the inner depths of our soul can always be found the answers to life. Dive deep, and reap the benefits. Remember, these gifts already belong to you and are only waiting for you to retrieve them. Happy deep diving. 

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