Days before, one of my dear friends, shamanic elders, and honored Earth walkers, gave me a gift of a pendant of a rabbit. She found it in a store that called to her. She didn’t know the story, but she knew it was for me. When she gave it to me, she said “Rabbits are tricky, like a coyote, they shape-shift. I’m not sure what the message is for you, but this came for you.”
Part 1: An Entity That Was A Portal
The night before, my husband and I had dinner and lit two candles. It was so unlike us to eat in candlelight, but it didn’t throw off the three of them. They sat at attention, drooling, and playing catch with small gifts of “people food.” This was our nightly ritual, sans the candle. The room went quiet and a portal, which I mistook for an unwelcome attachment or entity, opened in the middle of our home. I jumped up mid-dinner and proceeded to smudge every room of the house and call in protection.
I realized it was something else when it didn’t clear and the silence stayed like a black hole in the middle of our kitchen in a typical dinner.
Part 2. The Night Before My Dog Became a Rabbit
After a wonderful Saturday, I drove in my driveway around 8:00pm and I ran over my dog. I didn’t feel her because of the beautiful quiet snow – and I thank God for that because I would have remembered that feeling in my bones forever. We thought she was out playing. We yelled and she didn’t come. I said, “Do you think I hit her?” And, my husband ran to where our other dog was sniffing the ground. And he screamed, “She’s dead.” He ran her inside curled in his arms; his sweatshirt (from the UNC basketball game just a few hours before) was bloody. He said, “I’m taking her to the vet” and looked at me and said, “She’s gone.” And he took her to the emergency vet anyways because maybe by the Grace within some miracle, she would have her life given back to her body. And he shut the door and I stopped breathing. I couldn’t find my breath. It wouldn’t go in. I called my Mom. I called three healers. I called my two best friends. I called my shamanic elder who began to drum for us. And I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t stand up and I couldn’t sit down and I could hear her drumming from 15 miles away and one of my friends drove up so that I didn’t have to be alone.
Part 3. My dog in Her Paper Casket
My friend held me up. He came home with her in a little box that was shaped like a casket so that she had some space above her. They had cut a small heart of medical tape and affixed it to the outside of the box – where her heart might be below. I started to boil her some spaghetti and make her some canned sauce, because she liked that the best. He put her casket on the cutting board of the kitchen island; I retrieved her favorite toy – a little keychain fluff. We lit a candle. We put one of her collars down next to her and then stood there looking at the little Pomeranian-sized paper casket. It was trying to make itself real. My best friend of 14 years was leaving her condensed little body and moving into the Spirit world one long, empty moment at a time.
Part 4. Singing
It was quiet for a moment.
We stood around her facing East and started chanting the vowels in each of the directions, above, and below to invite our ancestors and the ancient ones of the directions to come and support, all of us, especially Lucy in her small paper casket. We blessed her body and spoke to her Spirit. We painted. We laid on the floor. We howled and cried into the night. We didn’t sleep, but we held each other up while we were laying in bed in the dark, missing the little snore that would have been hers in the bed. Missing the little lump of life that would curl up to dream her dreams of the night. We used to say that she and my cat were like my two little planets and I like their sun. They orbited me for 14 years.
That night, friend gave me a pendant of gold, made by the hands of a masterful gong-maker. It shined like the sun or the gold in my little dog’s hair. It rests over my heart like a little golden planet. I thought that she was to become my sun, now and I an orbiting planet.
Part 5. Ceremony at Watersong
My golden pendant was the first thing that I put on in the morning. She rode in her casket on my lap in the truck because I could not get into my car. It was haunted. We took her body in the noonday sun to Watersong Peace Chamber, a ceremonial sanctuary in which my heart is deeply connected. A dear friend met us there and offered flowers from the ceremony the night before. Lucy in her paper-casket was placed at the foot of a large tree, surrounded by the circle from the dances. We blessed her and listened deeply to the teachings. The reminder that she is with her ancestors and has become in our ancestral family. We celebrated the blessing of her transition, her birthday to Spirit, we cried together. We felt the feathers behind us as our prayers were lifted one by one to the wind. We were wrapped in a golden blanket which was given to us to hold us in the powers of the ancient ways, the old blessings, and the medicine of the earth walkers who walk with beauty. We took her blessed body and our blessed grief to the next ceremony.
Part 6. Ceremony with the Funeral Director and His Wife
Lucy in her paper casket sat on my lap with the flowers sitting on her. My golden pendant was shining above them. I went to my mother’s kitchen closet. Next to Lucy’s food there was a stack of birthday cups. Her first birthday to Spirit. I took two cups, one I filled with water and the other with a little food, so that she would not get hungry on her way.
My daddy had already dug a small grave for her underneath the tree with our other family animal companions. He is the 7th generation of funeral directors in our family, my brother is the 8th, perhaps one of his son’s the 9th. 250 years of careful caretaking over the dead. We processed intentionally. I carried Lucy with my father walking next to me. Blake was behind us. My mother, carrying a shovel, behind him. Our other dog and my parent’s dog ran ahead of us, down the hill and across the field. As we walked into the grass, the dogs had lifted a plump of geese to fly over us. The pumping of wings, the little feet lifted, the sound of the air, until they landed in the pond next to us.
As we approached the tree ‘arbor vitae’ growing next to a small stream, with the dirt turned from the ground and a tiny space waiting. An ‘arbor vitae’ – a tree of life, a tree represented in the primal deep of our brain steam; a tree representing the crucifixion of Christ; a tree that holds the memories of deep love of all of my cherished 4 legged companions of my entire personal history of this lifetime on the planet.
My mother handed me two white goose feathers. My daddy cut a little of her hair for me.
“Lucy Goose” we called and call her, sweetly in life and in memory.
We watched as my daddy covered her up, blanketing her with earth, careful to keep easy access to her food and water in her little celebratory First Birthday cups.
Daddy has always had a fond relationship with dirt. Sometimes when I would call home from college, he would be on his tractor making up some excuse to move dirt from a prideful pile of dirt to another imaginative place, often for little logical benefit, but for the dreamer…. always necessary.
As we looked at the shallow grave, he declared, “We need more dirt.” The logic was that he didn’t want “some animal” to dig her up.
I believe there was also that purposeful childlike desire that he could in fact use his tractor in this moment to “bring more dirt” and place it in a holy location. (Daddy Moving Dirt) A hilarious account of a man with a purpose as simple as moving dirt, as covering up a life well lived, and the satisfaction of helping his oldest daughter begin to say goodbye to her little best friend of the last 14 years.
We reversed the processional and recessed up the hill. Daddy wrapped Lucy’s hair with two goose feathers in golden thread – a little bundle of air and earth, gold and love, and I held it feeling her softness, remembering…
We had dinner with the family. My sister came to hug me; my brother and his wife and my two adorable nephews came; even some of our extended family who came in town to see the Wake Forest Vs. UVA basketball game came. My had already been planning for a gathering.
We ate, shared, talked, loved and drove home to be quiet in a lonely house with the massive space left behind a small 7 lb companion.
Part 7: My dog becomes a rabbit.
I was standing on the porch in the night in the snow. The same snow that held her body. It was beautiful and the night was clear. I thought of her uncold under the ground, under the life tree, next to the geese. And I heard stirring in the woods, a little animal that sounded just like her small feet rustling in the snow… and a little rabbit hopped into the night and stared at me.
She stared into my eyes. She hopped away. Earth to Sky. Earth to Sky. Earth to Sky. And, I whispered goodbye into the stars and night and cried cold tears in the holy night.
It was then that I put my rabbit necklace on and slept with her close to me.
The following day, at the close of the day, as it approached 7pm… I realized that my necklace was no longer around my neck… It reminds me that as Einstein says, “Energy is neither created nor destroyed, it just changes forms…”
In my next post, I will share how Lucy Became a Rabbit Becomes a Hawk…