It hard for me to write about the fateful and serendipitous events that comprised my journey to Orcas Island without diminishing some of the magic of this story.
How to possibly describe the deep knowing in my soul when I met a twinkly blue-eyed wood sculptor while dancing in the Nevada desert? How to deny the work of fate when he said he was from a little island just hours from my new home in Vancouver?
And so the situation unfolded. On my first ferry ride to Orcas a late summer storm deepened the colors of the already breathtaking sunset. I went out onto the deck to fully experience this daily miracle, eyes barely processing the beauty, when I noticed another young woman also braving the rain to enjoy the view. “Mila!” I cried out! My sweet soul sister whom I had met at the Spirit Weavers Gatherings. Only a couple of days before I had paid my deposit to attend a drum making and singing workshop on the little island she called home… of course it was Orcas!
Magic and fate were aligning. I was being called to this island in the San Juan archipelago. A week later all my dearest soul sisters would arrive and would set up camp for the Heartbeat Retreat: a journey into the heart of the mother through song and drumming. My loves Mila, Baelyn, Mea, Renata, Shiva, Melissa, Talia and many more would soon sing under those stars with me. Just minutes away from the wood carving shed where a new love was blossoming and bearing fruit…
Aleph’s woodcarving shed and home on the island were further proof that I had stumbled onto some serious magic. His work took my breath away. Observing his mastery of his craft, and all the the patience and love he infused into every piece he carved left a profound mark on me. Up until that moment the last couple of months had been a blur of movement and travel and madness… but it wasn’t until I spent time in his world, observing his stillness, feeling the sweetness of slowed down island time, that I realized how much my soul had been craving this next phase in life. For the first time in a long time I just wanted to stay put.
The next couple of months unfolded in perfect balance and beauty. After shooting all week in Vancouver I would drive down and catch the ferry to my little island paradise. My love would be waiting for me with tequila and a new playlist for us to groove to in the carving shed. Carving, dancing, slowing down, doing easy. Effortless. Which is how I’m told it should be…
The deal was sealed for me the night we came across a sweet fawn that had just been hit by a car. She was no longer breathing but still warm and Aleph expressed a desire to go back for her body. “Yes!” I said “We should totally do a ceremony to honor the body!” “To honor the body we are going to eat it Nat!” was his reply. Gutting a deer was not what I had imagined we would be doing that night, but I didn’t want to look like a wimp so I summoned all my Aussie courage and assisted him in stringing up the fawn and cutting out the entrails. Even though our Orcas date night had taken a turn for the bizarre, I felt oddly comfortable with the whole process, and extremely impressed at the love and reverence with which my new love cut open this sweet animal. When he got to the heart he cut off a slice and offered it to me to eat. This was apparently a First Nation tradition. “You said you wanted to honor the animal!” Again, I called on my inner badass and I ate the deer heart without flinching. And to my surprise it tasted lovely. It was sweet, and warm, tender and slightly gamey – just as you would imagine a little fawn would taste. But more than the taste, the feeling of ingesting the powerful medicine of deer moved me to my core. All night we would feel that loving gentle beast working its medicine inside the both of us. It was beyond any psychedelic plant medicine… We were tripping on deer, high on love and tenderness.
The following pictures were taken over the last few months during some of the most cherished moments of my life. During my last weekend on Orcas my other favorite people, Jasper and Julia, came to visit from Vancouver and I got to share the island’s beauty with them. Seeing their love deepen while here only confirmed my belief in the power of this place.
Sweet, sweet medicine. The deer, the island, my love. I am saying goodbye to the Pacific North West until next year. But until the day I return I am carrying the sweet magic of Orcas in my heart.