CHEWING THROUGH THE LEASH: Prayers On The Canyon Floor

Wazo 102005

Outlined against the dark of an SUV interior rides a white wolfdog, eyes bright but constrained. His companion is Lisa Dvorak, assistant police chief of a near-by city. Lisa named her companion after the hero of a vision song given to a vision quester years before–Wazo, a tribal word for wolf.

 The snazzy car slides to a halt on solid limestone that doubles as an old ranch road and my current driveway. Wazo waits somewhat patiently as Lisa attaches a thick, leather leash to his collar. Somewhat patiently, I say, because the hours the police chief had spent training her trusted companion were many and supplemented by expensive, professional training. Wazo jumps out of the car and immediately heels behind Lisa, a proud hybrid who knows his way around fancy cars and ranch roads become driveways. As I look at this handsome creature with kerchief around his neck, he looks like any other large and beautiful dog.

Not so!

A Wolfdog Description

Sometimes called a wolf hybrid, this magnificent mammal calls out to humans in a unique way; in fact, USDA estimates that there are 300-500,000 wolf hybrids in the USA alone. Wolfdogs tend to have somewhat smaller heads , larger and pointed ears, and one more hind toe than pure wolves. They have longer canines than pure wolves, form larger packs in the wilds, and appear in studies to have greater endurance. In a Siberian research project, wolf hybrids tracked down a target in 15-20 seconds while it took well trained police dogs four minutes. The American Veterinary Medical Association notes that wolf hybrids are, no surprise, healthier than domestic dogs while at the same time, like their wolf parents, resistant to rabies vaccines. Some experts advise against having wolfdogs as companions because of unruly behavior issues while other human companions contend that the larger the percentage of wolf, the more companionable.

A Wolfdog Heritage: Teotihuacan

Humans and wolfdogs share a deep code of connection. Evidence of common hunting endeavors of humans and wolfdogs stretch back 10,000 years in the Americas. This is not a johnny-come-lately relationship. In December of 2010 scientists announced they had found remains of many wolfdogs that had been kept by the Toltecs in Mexico’s central valley as far back as 3,000 years ago. Previously, animals in Toltec art thought to be coyotes or unusual dogs turn out likely to be wolfdogs. Archeologist Raul Valdez, after four years of studying petrified jawbones, concluded that inhabitants of Teotihuacan had dogs, wolves, and coyotes, but they almost always used the hybrid wolfdog in ceremonies at the pyramids. Something about the hybrid carried a different kind of power and courage that fascinated the ancients. We now can grasp that these wise people at Teotihuacan knew about the solar system 2500 years before Copernicus discovered that Earth rotated around the Sun.

Did they also know something about the wisdom of the hybrid?

And are there clues for us humans evolving toward a form of humanity returning to the cycle of life after a long estrangement?

Path Down Into the Canyon

Back in my driveway, Wazo follows obediently at Lisa’s side as we begin our hike down into the small canyon near where I live. Since I had known Wazo as a rowdy pup, I am amazed at how well-behaved he is, hardly straining at the leash as we leave the driveway and the office in my house behind. Lisa and I converse casually about any number of subjects, and I mention how civilized Wazo has become. The lessons of civilization are taking hold, I comment, a little disappointment in my voice. As we descend into the arroyo and pick our way through limestone rock 140 million years old, Wazo sniffs at petrified sea creatures preserved in the sediments of a Mesozoic sea that covered all this area.

 In the sweat lodge we respectfully haul in these limestone, sedimentary rocks at the outset of the lodge because they are layered and peel off the overlays of our usual psychological patterns. The rocks, hybrids themselves of compressed sea urchins, lead us to our cores, that energetic dimension unfettered by culture.Our descent seems to have a similar effect on Wazo as the dog gives way to the wolf with every step. Off to my left crashing through a juniper forest comes an eight-point buck pawing the ground restlessly, and Wazo’s yellow eyes glisten as something stirs.Lisa’s hands turn white at the knuckles, white as Wazo’s fur, as the pressure he puts on his leash increases.

Black Cherry Grove And Hidden Springs

A favorite hangout of mine looms before us, a grove of wild black cherry trees. A spring gurgles at our feet, and Wazo laps while looking alertly to the left and right. Lisa and I settle to sit awhile on a limestone shelf, but Wazo has none of it. He pulls her off the comfortable shelf, jerking her arm. Glancing at me Lisa moves to a nice black cherry tree and ties the leash securely. We return to talk about the healing balm of black cherry trees, the way grown-ups do when a child misbehaves. My great grandmother knew the recipe for a healing tea from this tree, but it is now lost in the mists of time. Even so, we soak up the powerful energy of the grove.

Chewing Through The Leash

Suddenly, a deep growl comes from the tree, and I turn to see Wazo in the last moments of chewing through his leash. Before we can respond, he is off and running, splashing through the trickling spring as he bounds about. He stops and makes eye contact in water up to his chest, and then he sprints up the steep canyon walls. My first response is to chase him and bring him back to more orderly concerns, but then I see the futility of that maneuver.

The Wild Heart

A message of non locality passes between us as I am drawn  out of my own constraints. Mouth and eyes open I am, for the moment, chewing through my own leash. A line of energy shoots straight into my heart. You know that point. It is the inner motion of the quantum self with all of its microtubules reaching out to the eco-filed all around.

The Mother Tongue

A different mammal strides by both in Wazo and within me. He is different from the dog with a bandanna around his neck, though it is still there. He speaks a base language. He stops and listens to every little sound in the vibrant, intertwining of soil, grasses, insects, trees, water, deer, snakes, and, yes, humans. Together we compose this tiny eco-field. These exchanges of signals within the web happen faster than the speed of light. On second thought they may not be information laden signals so much as a nonlocal knowing throughout the field that is present when the leashes of culture are chewed through.

Return To Civilization

We puzzle—do Lisa and I—about how to corral our dog transformed into wolf. But as we stand up and start the ascension out of the canyon, he slowly falls into step. Lisa ties what is left of the leash to his collar, and soon we are shuffling along the driveway. Thought I have written and taught about such moments for some time, this particular experience is so vivid that I stumble to express it even to myself, even now. I could say we went from the order of the driveway eco-field to the chaos and disorder of the deep, shaded canyon. Maybe.

But I would soon find out it is just the other way around.

Night Journeys

That night about 2:00 a.m. when the veil is thin Wazo appears and takes me on a pathway from the domain of the manifest particles of my bedroom to the waves of the canyon. At first, he beckons me, and then grabs me by the scruff of my neck to take me in dreamlike fashion to points unknown. My usual life that I have worked so hard to provide as a safety net now appears to me as disorder when compared with the majesty of the ride on Wazo’s back. Fears, depression, and addictive urges disappear as we glide down the canyon pathway. This journey consists of Wazo and Will in waves of possibility gathering mass to collapse into cultural actuality when I awake in the morning.

Wazo The Wave

Some time back Wazo made a journey over the great white mountain to the domain of waves, but he is still with me from time-to-time. With our dream and visionary bodies in tact we romp through waters and stare at stars. Recently, I have been going through rough waters with Judith’s treatment, with my sister who is in a similar process, and with friends who sort through a cancer healing. At such times, especially in the dead of night, Wazo comes as ally and drags me by the scruff of my neck out the disorder of tangled feelings and thoughts into deep canyons and groves of trees.When I can’t do it myself, he chews through my leashes for me.

 Then, in the morning with the dawn of new light, I know that I experience a wild form of prayer, those utterances in the visionary path that open up possibilities I could never know if I stayed on the drive-way on my leash with bandanna around my neck.

3 thoughts on “CHEWING THROUGH THE LEASH: Prayers On The Canyon Floor”

  1. Your blog for last Saturday’s call, Chewing Through the Leash, opened something in my tightly bound heart, bringing welcome tears. Putting my cat Kitsie in the place of Wazo, the wolfdog, I feel the cat’s magic working within me, returning me to the entrance that began with my spiritual descent, Inanna as my guide. I’ve been away a very long time–it feels like forever–as though I’ve forgotten the call of the wild earth, caught in my mental mind with only my spirit saving me from oblivion. I’ve been trapped in the non-ordinary ordinary woman’s ego. Facing the shame–the hurt–and grief of loss within my heart something vibrates in my left arm as it rests on the armrest…as though the Feminine path is calling me back to the Earth to free me from this preoccupation with fear of physical pain which has been increasing without my attention to my spiritual life.

    Mind wanders to where can I go to renew my spirit? And I hear,”Go within.”  An image begins to form–dims–brings to mind–or is it heart? my memory of being on the deck last Monday, listening to the wind through the palm trees, whispering sacred messages which I’d forgotten how to hear. Realizing that Kitsie IS my wild companion who has been sacrificing his desire for my affection and love, I’m startled to see that he’s taken me deeper into my sacred self where we meet when my ego is fully restrained by the strong leash that I hadn’t even noticed is broken. The bandana slipped to cover my inner eyes. Shame bows my head. Tears start and stop again: where has my wild self gone but in search of love and affection beyond the ordinary?

    Kitsie is showing me an ordinary ego-based relationship that’s better than my marriage and later lovers–but it’s still ego based, and is not the love I’m beginning to open to, a love that both calls to and terrifies me in the same instant. Time expands and contracts, probable realities appear and disappear while the authentic self seeks to disappear again, as the wind whispers through the palm trees, Go where you’re called to be. Stay open to new possibilities.  

    I sit in silent love and gratitude for my wild cat who does not abandon me and for the spirit who will not let me be less than I am. Any longer.

  2. The training with Wazo started early to help him cover his wildness in “civilization”. There is open bias to wolf hybrids when such a power animal is not understood. My hopes were the domestication process was not the estrangement experienced by typical American tots starting school – staying indoors, having to wear shoes, following rules, and being quiet. He and I trained in some form or fashion every day. Maybe to train him and maybe to train me. His spirit was to play, howl, pursue and pounce. Even walking “obediently” I knew at any moment if something caught his wolf attention, he would be off in a flash. There was the tension of him darting off and me deeply loving this about him. At one lodge, with the sounds in the West, he threw his head back, let out a howl, snagged Dr. Will’s pipe bag and dashed into the woods. The images, sounds, and smells of the day still strong even though it was years ago. The beauty of nature, in the form of a white hybrid wolf, taught me to chew through my leash and feel the freedom of the Wild Heart. I sometimes catch glimpses out of the corner of my eye of his visionary body running through my back yard. In prayer and meditation, he sits by me on an overlook of a canyon as we gaze into the expansive space at dusk.

  3. Thank you, William, for this beautiful memory of Wazo and the tender moments of your night journey. So often, I have longed to be free from the fetters of my life, to chew loose from my inner leash. Thank you for this reminder that we can do just that. We can be hybrid: tame, yet wild within our spirits.

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