"How can the man be considered wise who,
when he has the choice,
does not settle in benevolence?" -
Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Manitoulin Island,
night I stay with Val in Wikwemikong and
have an unusual dream. I was floating in the sky looking down on Manitoulin
Island. Beside me was Remy and with the look of mischief in his eye he said to
me: "See, watch this." He whipped his arm downwards and lightning bolts came
out of the tips of his fingers followed by thunder. Remy was looking at me,
proving he had the power to create thunder. Just as I was about to ask him how
he was able to do this he said: "Because I am Rainbow Thunderbird." That's when
I wake up. Outside I feel a jolt in my solar plexus when I see a thunderstorm.
eager to explore the island so I leave Val's place after another few more cups
of yarrow tea and cruise around the island, the fresh air invigorating and my
head clear. When I pass a sign that reads: ‘Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail,' I
turn into the parking area and take Inge for a long walk. My senses fill with
the richness of unspoilt foliage, wild flowers and damp earth under my feet. An
hour of walking passes in a moment and it begins to snow and I find myself
facing a vertical wall of the escarpment. As I survey the climb in front of me
I realize it's too steep to attempt with the snow, even for me. I'm content to
meander back to my rig and look for another path but when I turn back Inge
bolts from the trail. Sounds in the forest of hooves hitting fallen logs,
leaving a maze of tracks in the snow.
come!" I yell. I can hear the scurrying going farther and farther away. The
snow begins to fall harder and the sky becomes darker. I yell for my dog but I
can't hear her anymore and follow her tracks into the woods but there are too
many of them, her tracks spreading out like spokes in a wheel. The bush is
dense and my feet are cold and it's darker off the trail so I double back to
the main trail and whistle for her. I wait and call for her but she doesn't
return. Inge has fled. The taste of deer blood and the smell of deer lured her
back to the wild. Dogs or men, it lurks so close to the surface in us all.
drive to the house in Sandfield and then park by the lake. I walk out onto the
wooden dock where the boats dock on Lake Manitou and stare at the clear water.
There is a small dam at the mouth of Manitou River where the cedar trees are
thick. I feel alone without my dog to look after but it is still and quiet in
the falling snow.
mobile phone rings.
this is Remy."
Island? Are you near Lake Manitou?"
actually that's where I am right now."
there a river there with the little footbridge in the park?"
a forest along the lakefront and a fish hatchery across the street."
there's a little general store there across from an old schoolhouse."
that's where I am right now."
the place I stopped at when I was through Manitoulin before, the only place."
Even for twins an eerie coincidence like this still makes my spine tingle.
think you're right Remy: Manitoulin is a magical place."
I'm calling to say I didn't mean to take off that day in Toronto. I still think
your dog is evil. In fact I had a dream about her last night that she attacked
a deer. Her white fur was covered in blood. Pretty gory really. And then Inge
became a wolf and lived in the forest and hunted deer." The strange tingling
goes up my spine again and the back of my neck feels cold.
you recall the Wendigokaan dream I had about you as a sacred clown who danced
backwards and disturbed proceedings by acting in a contrary manner. Remember,
the spirit that doesn't care about rules or norms?"
in any given society conventions of behaviour and cultural norms are followed
by most people but the Wendigokaan's role is to ignore these norms so blatantly
and act in such a contrary manner that it shocks others to open the door to new
insights for them to heal themselves. Your contradictory behaviour shows them a
new way of seeing the world and in the process help them overcome emotional
pains to see their own weaknesses and heal themselves. Your Wendigokaan spirit
enables you to act as the impetus for them to change."
acting as a clown?"
he is not a source of entertainment. The Wendigokaan has a purpose. It is to
induce his audience and use laughter to open minds to a subliminal state so
that one is more receptive to grasp a deeper reality."
the better I hope."
they can heal! Your Wendigokaan spirit has the power to teach people to look at
things in a different way. You act as a mirror and using extreme behaviour to
mirror others thereby causing them to look at their own fears and weaknesses.
He drags others into his world so he can provide comic relief to take other's
minds off their suffering but through your gift of satirical behaviour you
actually enlighten them so that they can see a new way of living. See, the
Wendigokaan's outbursts and unconventional behaviour - like lightning -
captivates others' attention because they are regarded as the keys to enlightenment,
much like Zen masters in Japan. Wendigokaans are a source of wisdom and
"Thunder and lightning."
this is the other part of what I wanted to say about this vision I had about
you. Have you ever dreamed of a Thunderbird or of a thunderstorm?"
actually yes. Just recently. Why?"
it is said that having a vision of a Thunderbird - usually in the form of a
thunderstorm - necessitates that he become a Wendigokaan for life. According to
Ojibway beliefs, Wendigokaans are Thunder Beings. Like a Thunderbird,
they have the power of contrariness, of laughter and tears, of thunder
and lightning. Our powers come not from the earth but from the Great
Spirit. Like thunder and lightning, a Wendigokaan jars those out of their funk
that leads to transformation, like a shock that leads to a revelation and
all sounds pretty far out."
you ever had a dream about of birds or of dreams of violence, such as human
butchering?" There is a silence on the phone.
why would you ask that?"
from what I've read about it you must dream your way into becoming a
Wendigokaan. The violent butchering I think has to do with the Wendigo aspect,
but if you have a dream of birds you are destined to become a medicine man.
However, if you have a dream of a Thunderbird then it is your destiny to become
a Wendigokaan sacred clown."
begin laughing in a very strange manner, like something is grabbing me in a
your kind is seen as a cultural hero and a figure to be feared and avoided."
remind people that the primordial energy of nature is beyond good and evil and
of the arbitrariness of social order and the social construction of reality."
else I should know?"
are few in number but important to each tribe throughout Turtle Island,
especially the Ojibway. Wendigokaans are especially found among the Ojibway
around the Great Lakes region, and are known to be fearless and known to endure
pain." As Remy was revealing the mystery of who I am, I enjoy the beautiful
view of the lake and the water sloshing near my feet. Home. I think, I feel
like I'm home.
explains why I'm so weird and do things in such an extreme way."
recklessness, yes. The Wendigokaan shuns safety and strives for risk. Your road
sailing up to the Yukon that night from Dease Lake was a manifestation of the
softness of safety and the hardness of danger."
hope you're not trying to justify my recklessness."
don't you see? Your risk-taking - of which I know well - only shows how you
give the finger to conventions and rules because you see the world without
constraints. Of anyone in the world, I know you the best. You've always been
like that Trapp: free from handcuffs that suffocate and maim so many every
let out a long satisfied sigh.
he says, "all this stuff aside, I did want to apologize for that night in Key
River. I was in the middle of organizing my medicines and I had had that dream
and there was all sorts of things spread around my cabin-"
problem brother." A raven lands on a branch only a few feet away, perched and
overseeing the dock.
measure of a man is his power of forgiveness," he says.
must be quite a man then."
the search? How's that going?"
just found our homestead. I submitted a first offer but I don't think they'll
I check it out?"
about three hours from where you are."
road sailors, man!"
o'clock tomorrow at the Anchor Inn - the only pub in Little Current. I'll be