What's in a Name? Meet Nahanni (aka Dancing Coyote Woman)

She came to me in my dreams... again, again and again.  

At first, I thought she was my child.  She appeared as a young girl - all bouncy blonde curls and piercing blue eyes.  She wore a white dress and over and over I would see her running barefoot across a field of wildflowers; giggling, dancing, laughing.  

This was before my son was ever conceived, and like I said, I just assumed I was seeing my unborn child (stuff like this happens to me, okay?)

Anyway, I forgot about her for a little while... Chephren was born, and I never gave her much thought again.  Becoming a mother changed me in more ways than I can tell you.  It caused me to journey deeper into myself than I ever thought possible.  

One day, a few years after Chephren arrived, I was talking with a friend and we were journeying together over the phone.  All of sudden, we both saw her... the bouncy, blonde, blue-eyed girl.  

Seeing her jolted me back to the present and out of the dream.  

I was struggling to understand.  Who was this girl and why was she showing up yet again? Was there another child waiting for me on the other side?  (This notion terrified me.  I had had such a terrible bout of Post-Partum Depression and at the time, I was on a horse-tranquilizer dose of anti-depressants.  I didn't know whether or not I even wanted to become pregnant again).  

Nonetheless, here she was.  And, rather than give into my fears and try to push her away, I decided to embrace her.   I began calling her by name - Nahanni (one of the names that Trent and I had picked out for a baby should we have had a girl.  Nahanni is the name of one of our Great Canadian Rivers in the Northwest Territories.  Similarly, Chephren was named after a mountain in the Banff National Park.  We apparently roll like that and I wouldn't change a thing.)

And so, I decided to sit with it for a long while, or maybe I should say, sit with her.  

Then, in September of 2013 I journeyed to Peru.  

This trip was very much a spiritual adventure, and we explored many of the sacred ruins and sites as well a participated in many initiations and ceremonies along the way.  

One day, at one of the sacred sites we were exploring, I felt called to lean down and pick up a three-sided stone and the words: "Maiden-Mother-Crone" jumped into my head.  Each step along the path I was walking seemed to echo these three words over and over.  

And then, I could feel her walking beside me.  Full-body goose-bumps and that familiar "electric feeling" and I knew that Nahanni was walking beside me, except her energy seemed to have changed.  She was older now.  Closer to my age.  And the best description that I can use to explain her is that she was like a "white, modern pocahontas".  Actually, she looked like the poster child for burning man or something.  Well, at least I think she did.  The thing is, I couldn't quite see her face.  The details of her clothing and hair?  Yes.  But her face?  Not so much.

I was a bit taken aback by this transformation and yet, again, confused.  

And so, more sitting with her.  Literally.

Actually, the picture from this post was taken at that location as I was doing just that: meditating on this new information/discovery.

And I still had no idea what it meant.  

The next weeks, months and years were FILLED with images, dreams and journeys with this iteration of Nahanni.  She showed up for everything.  My constant companion at every turn.  I literally could not have any kind of spiritual experience without her showing up loud and clear at the forefront... and yet, she was still basically faceless to me.  Bizarre.  

(I should mention something here actually.  The first time I saw this older version of her was actually about two weeks before I even knew I was going to Peru.  I was being guided on a specific journey where you go to a sacred site and receive a gift from a guide.  Well, this "white, modern pocahontas" showed up and gifted me with a mesa (a sacred bundle of stones used in Andean Shamanism).  Shortly thereafter I found out I was going to Peru and it was on that trip that I did actually become a mesa-carrier.  See?  I told you this kind of stuff happens to me.)

Anyway, back to Nahanni and her prolific presence in my life over the past two years.  

At some point I started to get very comfortable with her showing up, I think I even started to take it as a given; truly letting go of the need to know who she was or why she was there.  I just assumed she was my "spirit guide".  

And then it happened.  

One day I was in ceremony/in journey with her and she and I finally came face to face.  And maybe it won't surprise you to hear this kind reader, but it sure shocked the hell out of me; when I finally got to see her face and look deeply into her eyes.  She was me.

I know.  Weird.

I am Nahanni.

Well, if I thought that my dreams/visions/journeys were vivid and wild before that, I just had no idea how wild things could get!  Each journey started to become more of a shape-shifting experience.  I could start to morph in and out of her skin, clothes, and hair and feel what she was feeling.  

Often we would find ourselves roaming in a wide open field (just like we did as kids)... barefoot, wild and free; sometimes dancing amongst the wildflowers playing with a pack of coyotes, sometimes naked under the light of a full moon... and I finally started to understand who she was and why she was here.

She is my wild nature.  She is my truest essence.  

She is the me who I would unapologetically be if I weren't still playing by all of society's rules and expectations.  

And I love her so.  How I long to feel her heart beating in my chest, the wind dancing in our hair and our feet bare on the warm, fragrant earth.

And that my friends, is how I came to be Nahanni, Dancing Coyote Woman.