Monday, July 5, 2010


A few days ago, I was looking at my garden and thinking about transplanting it to our new location. There was a bee gathering nectar from one of my flowers, and then, to my surprise, I saw a hummingbird fly into my garden and sip from a flower. The hummer left as quickly as it came.

The lovely thing is this: hummingbird is one of the names I have been given by Spirit. Yes, I have several names. One is in Arabic. No I am not an Arab, at least not in this lifetime. I do, however, enjoy Sufi dancing and have a respect for the ancient Islamic tradition. The Arabic name came in the midst of a ceremony more than twenty years ago. I didn't know what language it was until a few years ago, when a friend who knows Arabic told me what it means: A friend of the Great Mystery. Part of the name is a breath.

This is based on the Hermetic tradition, that to name that which is unnameable limits it. So both Judaic and Arabic traditions have the concept of avoiding naming that which encompasses everything and more than we know.

The other name was given to me by a revered elder of the area where I live. The name is in the Coast Salish language group, and means Mountain Goat. The mountain goat is revered by the native people here because it talks directly to Great Spirit.

As I write this I have tears in my eyes. Partly that is because the one who gave me the name was so accurate in recognizing my particular gifts, and because she is no longer with us in a body. I feel quite humble about this responsibility, because that is what a name is. The native people of this area know that well, and when a person is given a name it is a sacred geas.

So.... here's the thing: hummingbird does the impossible in its annual migration, flying across areas where there is no place to stop and eat. You likely already know that hummingbirds need to eat almost constantly because they burn so much energy. How do they manage to do what they cannot do? I don't know.

There is also a South American story that hummingbird flew up to Great Spirit by riding on the back of a Condor, and then flying the rest of the way. So I was told hummingbird is a kind of translation of my names.

You might be aware that hummingbirds are fierce creatures. Reminds me of when I played the role of Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream in high school. There is a speech by one of the characters saying of Hermia: "And though she be but little, she is fierce." Fits!

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