Meeting Hevring: A Shamanic Vision

York Beach, Maine: June 2005

jellyfish2We arrived in York in the evening and checked into the campground, and then ate dinner. I knew that I was supposed to be on the beach after dark, not during daylight hours. York is a well-touristed public beach, so I figured it was just as well. As it was, there were a few packs of children playing with a dog in the moonlit surf. The dog ran up to me while I was doing my introductory drumming and sniffed me. I turned my head and told him quietly that I was calling a dangerous mermaid, and that if he didn't stay away, she might eat him. He took off immediately, and didn't bother me again.

When I was done calling, I sensed Hevring in the surf. Far, far out in the surf. I walked out up to my chest, and was still several yards away, but I got the feeling that she didn't want me any nearer, so I stayed where I was. Her voice, her lesson, carried to me over the wind.

She never actually came close to me, and I never saw more than her head and shoulders and upper torso. Her hair was long and jet-black, and cast forward over her face so that I couldn't really make out her features. The darkness added to that; she was just a shape poised there in the water. I felt that if I cast out further, she would retreat. Her skin was pale, and she seemed to be wearing some garment made of white strands that flowed out in all directions from her shoulders like a cape of string. It took me a while to realize that she was actually wearing a giant jellyfish as a garment, and its tentacles extended in all directions. About that time, I realized also that she was sobbing.

Hevring is sorrow, but she is not pretty sorrow - the pale trembling lip, the trickling tear, the bravely-borne look of sadness. She is weeping, screaming, ranting sorrow. She is wailing, undignified, consuming despair. These days we don't like to overplay our sorrow for the public, because we feel vaguely guilty about shoving it in the faces of people who have no reason to care. We forget that once people screamed and wept and rent their clothes at funerals, that they even hired mourners to play that part of fully-loosed grieving. Hevring was the only one of the sisters who didn't want my blood. She wanted my tears, freely given to the ocean.

In spite of this, Hevring is important to sailors, because she is the mistress of the wave-current, the up-and-down of the surface of the ocean. If you can placate Hevring, she will turn the surface currents and take you where you want to go. Placating her involves shedding your tears into seawater, and not fake tears either. You must weep for a real grief. If you have no grief in your life worth weeping over, she considers you shallow and not worth her attention.

Hevring's Lesson

stormy skyHow dare you be ashamed of grief? Grief is one of the currents of life. Without grieving, there is no depth. We forget things and they go away as if they never were. We cannot truly remember our losses with love and respect until we have mourned them properly and completely. Mourning is not something that you rush through, hoping that it will soon be over. If you do not go through it completely, immersively, it will be unfinished and it will linger in you, making poison. You will not be able to remember your loss cleanly, you will turn your mind away from it, and it will be yet another blind spot in your vision.

You must abandon yourself to grieving, wholly and completely, and trust that there will come a time when it is entirely done. Remember that while grieving, you are strong. You are less likely to be swept away by the needs of others. You can get close to your own center, your own needs, when you are grieving. This song will walk you through that time, though it will not take you any faster than it ought to be done.

Hevring's Song

Hear a sample

stormysky2Heartbeat, feel my heartbeat, like the turning of the tide;
Pulsebeat, feel my pulsebeat, like the salt wind in my eyes.
Heartstrung, I am weeping, I am tatters, rent and torn;
Soul-pierced, I am dying, but somehow I still live on.

Ai, in our grieving, in our sorrow,
We are stronger than we've ever been and
Ai, as the storms rise, there is no compromise
Any longer nor ever again.

Flying, I am floating, I am ashes on the wave;
Crying, I am wildness, like the wind I rail and rave.
Poised here in the moment, there is nothing left to choose;
Bleeding, I see clearly, I have nothing left to lose.

Ai, in our grieving, in our sorrow,
We are stronger than we've ever been and
Ai, as the storms rise, there is no compromise
Any longer nor ever again.

A CD containing this and other shaman songs is available from Asphodel Press.