He was Busy Mouse, Searching Everywhere, Touching his Whiskers to the Grass, and Looking. He was Busy as all Mice are, Busy with Mice things. But Once in a while he would Hear an Odd Sound. He would Lift his Head, Squinting hard to See, his Whiskers Wiggling in the air, and he would Wonder.
So begins the ancient story of Jumping Mouse and the Sacred River, an Amerindian story, published in Seven Arrows (1976) and handed down by Cheyenne Elder Hyemeyohsts Storm to the rites of passage guides at The School of Lost Borders and Animas Valley Institute, to me and now to you. This teaching story is often told to vision quest initiates, those who are “lamenting for a vision” to bring back to their people, on the eve of their descent into the underworld. It is a threshold story that mirrors the Global Dream Initiative: how we got here, why we are here and where we are headed. In this epic tale, Mouse hears the roaring of the sacred River. A loving and crafty guide, Raccoon, comes to him when he can no longer deny the calling:
Little Mouse Walked with Raccoon. His little Heart was Pounding in his Breast. The Raccoon was Taking him upon Strange Paths and little Mouse Smelled the scent of many things that had Gone by this Way. Many times he became so Frightened he almost Turned Back. Finally, they Came to the River! It was Huge and Breathtaking, Deep and Clear in Places, and Murky in Others. Little Mouse was unable to See Across it because it was so Great. It Roared, Sang, Cried, and Thundered on its Course. Little Mouse Saw Great and Little Pieces of the World Carried Along on its Surface. “It is Powerful!” little Mouse said, Fumbling for Words. “It is a Great thing,” answered the Raccoon, “but here, let me Introduce you to a Friend.
Here, Mouse meets Frog, who encourages him to “Jump!” While he is high in the air, he glimpses the Sacred Mountains. He lands in the transformative waters, much to his surprise! Next, he is given a new name, a Medicine Name, which points to his own healing and his unique ability to offer healing to others. His truer name is “Jumping Mouse”.
All of us have Medicine names, that introduce us to our own transformative powers. They come to us in the swirling eddies of dreams and the wilderness of visions. Images are the bridge between these “true names” and the one given to us by our parents: they reflect our greatest gifts and preflect our service to the world. They dwell in the Sacred River which runs through us all. When these delightful waters sweep through our bodies—when we allow our consciousness to descend into their depths—they wash away emotional toxins, thought-pollutions and limiting illusions. We are restored to health. The deeper we dive into the Sacred River, the more meaningful life becomes, and the more access we have to timeless wisdom that can guide the leaders of communities in the healing of the planet, if only they will listen!
All of the problems of the world that the Earth Charter seeks to eradicate: environmental degradation, war, gender oppression, economic disparity, slavery, animal cruelty and terrorism originate from the damming up (the “damning up”) of the glorious tributary which leads us back to “Source”. Those in industrialized nations who remember dreams and have visions of a better life for all intuit there is so much than the monotony of soul-less jobs, shallow relationships, mind-numbing news-entertainment and financial pursuits at the expense of well-being. They long for our returning to that Sacred River. But all too often, when we have dipped our toes into the fresh, rainbow-rippling streams, glimpsed the beauty of our own reflections that echo back to us the beauty of creation we are met with scorn. “The Sacred River and Mountains are not real,” The disparaging voices tell us, blind and deaf to poetry, to us. They would rather eat fast food then sip the Nectar of the Gods, it seems! “Go back to your cubby hole, Mouse!” They chide and warn, fearfully, resentfully. Their world is black and white, cut off from the soul-full waters. This makes us all feel grey as lead. Meanwhile, because the answers to the problems are in the River that they refuse to acknowledge, society grows sicker and and more disillusioned by the day,
Jumping Mouse Returned to the World of the Mice. But he Found Disappointment. No One would Listen to him. And because he was Wet, and had no Way of explaining it because there had been no Rain, many of the other Mice were Afraid of him. They believed he had been spat from the Mouth of Another Animal that had Tried to Eat him.
The story of Jumping Mouse hints at the solution to the fear: the way back to the River. This is the “Hero’s journey” (Campbell, 1949/2008). Our foolish mouse becomes a hero by facing his nightmares of the “dots” in the sky, the devouring predators, by following his dreams. On this path, he meets wise helpers and together they find their way back to the River. The return is not always easy. We begin by walking, but we cannot get to the Sacred Mountain by staying on the ground, and growing wings is a tumultuous process, as any fledgling bird will tell you. The longer one has been gone from the depths and the heights, the more trying the journey may be.
He is blind and he can’t see them. The wolf feels tremendous compassion and feeling for Jumping Mouse his brother, and his heart stretches out to him, and the wolf cries. Then he leaves and Jumping Mouse is left alone, blind, nothing but looking within, and he can feel the spots on his back, just pressing in, hard. And then he hears the rush of wind and wings and then there is a fantastic shock and everything is black.
The first step of facing nightmares of any kind is to call in the beloved companions from the Dream Time (Aizenstat, 2009). The Global Dream Initiative seeks to facilitate the world’s return to these sacred landscapes, to ease the fears, to offer guidance, and to see with expanded vision all the diverse colors of the Psyche more clearly, like Jumping Mouse.
The next thing he knows, he can see colours. He can see! He can see colours. And he’s amazed, astounded, he doesn’t know if he’s dreaming or what is happening. But he’s alive and he can see colours… from the colours comes a voice. “You want a medicine?” And Jumping Mouse says, “Yes, I’d like a medicine.” And the voice says, “Just get down as far as you can and jump up as high as you can jump.” So little mouse gets down as low as he can and jumps up as high as he can jump, and when he does, the wind catches him and swirls him up and up and up in the air. And the voice calls out from below him, “Grab hold of the wind!” So little mouse reaches out and grabs hold of the wind as hard as he can, and the wind takes him higher and higher until everything begins to get clearer and clearer. Crystal clear, and he can see all the great beings of the prairie, the buffalo, the wolf on the mountain, and he looks down into the medicine lake and there are all the lodges of the people reflected, and on the edge of the medicine lake he sees his friend the frog. He calls down to him, “Hello, brother Frog,” and the frog calls back to him, “Hello, brother Eagle.
The Global Dream Initiative is grounded in the Sacred River. It is a “Tree growing roots in the ocean’s depths” as one dreamer recently dreamed. All Mice, Eagles, Raccoon, Buffalo and Wolves are welcome. To return with us to these healing waters, one simply has to share dreams!
The excerpts from the Jumping Mouse story are from: Storm, Hyemeyohsts (1972) “Seven Arrows,”Harper and Row Publishers, NY, NY http://www.katinkahesselink.net/other/mouse2.html
Aizenstat, Stephen A (2009) Dream Tending. Spring Journal. New Orleans, LA.
Campbell, Joseph (2004) A Hero Has a Thousand Faces. Princeton University Press. Princeton, N.J.
The Earth Charter: http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/mods/theme_a/img/02_earthcharter.pdf