In describing the series of online ceremonies I’m co-hosting with FireHawk Hulin and Pele Rouge over the next solar year, we talk about attunement:
“During this process we will dance with an older way of looking at time, one that is in relationship with the cycles and wisdom of the natural world, the way things actually are. When we move in supportive relationship with the natural cycles of Earth, we establish patterns in our lives that are life-giving, nourishing, and in harmony with the larger rhythms of life.”
“(This is a) … “tuning” ceremony, bringing us each into our own direct relationship with the medicine of Earth.”
To begin preparing the container for this timeless journey, FireHawk and I created a basecamp to serve as the ground for our expedition; its design based on the four directions of a Medicine Wheel. In the South, we placed an intention for “Attunement”.
The South is all about relationship, the place of feeling and emotion. We placed attunement there to remind us that we are aligning ourselves in relationship; with our own inner life, with those that are journeying with us, and with the natural world we are all part of. Attunement requires that we slow down and listen to the quieter voices, so often missed in the bustle of daily life, to find the deeper patterns we want to attune to and synchronize ourselves with.
The importance of slowing down points to the key role that time plays in understanding attunement. The Quadrivium, first formulated and taught by Pythagoras, addresses this connection quite literally by talking about attunement in terms of music:
“Its rhythms move our hands, feet, and bodies to the pulses of the universe.”
“When music is married to language, then what is spoken becomes song, elevating the intentions and entreating us to listen more deeply, making the profane sacred.”
I learned something wonderful about attunement from psychoanalyst Virginia Satir, who was an NLP pioneer before there was an NLP. Attunement was something she did intuitively, and as the practice was formulated through the work of Richard Bandler and John Grinder, it came to be called “matching and mirroring”. What that means is matching your breathing pattern, your heartbeat even, to the person you are wanting to get close to. By subtly following the movements of their body with your own, you can come into harmony, into attunement, with them.
What is it to match and mirror the natural world, I wonder … ? To bring our small bodies into harmonic resonance with the larger body of the Earth? What happens when we slow down to the Speed of Life and match our breathing to the waves of tall grass in the wind, when we mirror our heartbeat to the rhythm of ripples across the sea?
The other day I was on Mount Tamalpais, a sacred mountain just north of the Golden Gate bridge not far from where I live. Mt Tam is sacred to me, as it was to the First Peoples who took nourishment from her streams and vistas, and I wanted to introduce her to FireHawk in honor of his birthday.
FireHawk and I are photographers. Photography is an art we both approach as a way of communing with the beauty of this world. For us, the camera is an instrument of connection rather than objectification. We can (and do) wander wordlessly for hours, connecting with the beauty around us through our senses and the camera lens that extends and focuses vision…
(the above photos are FireHawk’s)
Shade, and Light. Broken acorns wedged into the holes of a woodpecker’s bountiful cupboard. Cool soft moss under the shade of the trees where we ate our lunch. The tiny brilliant centers of the blue eyed grass; the California poppies and grape hyacinths that grace the landscape this time of year. They cluster around each stone in the natural stone circle we found hidden in a fold of the mountain.
The long rolling shape of the hills soothes my eyes and ignites my spirit in some primeval way. I find myself drinking in the music of this mountain, so dear to me, through every pore. We completely lose track of time…
Spending most of the day on the earth’s warm and fecund flesh brought us both to a place both peaceful and powerful. A place of attunement – of harmonic resonance – with the mountain and the elements that adorn her. Sheltering in her shadows, walking on her grassy surface, sleek like some great lioness, the soft fur on her belly rippling silver in the breeze… For this afternoon I am one with this great mountain, and her song is my own.
I’m looking forward to this journey with Earth Medicine, and to exploring practices that will help us weave a deep attunement with Earth into our everyday lives, each of us in our own ways. If you are drawn to join us, please be in touch. We start Sunday, May 28th, and there is a place for you in the circle.