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the turquoise earring
signs of destiny and fate in action
by emanjah suzanne holetz (@emanjah)

I had seen the painting many times. Usually while scanning quickly through the book to find some romantic poem that reflected the love I held for my sweetheart. The picture in and of itself was not particularly unusual or striking although a richly colored depiction of a Native American elder man…. wearing a turquoise earring. The artist was Santa Fe resident Frank Howell, famous for his Native American stunningly stylized depictions.

We had traveled to the southwest for my birthday in June 2009, the week I turned 50, visiting Sedona, the Hopi Reservation again and my family there, and on to Santa Fe. A late afternoon stroll around the famous plaza of artisans, we stopped for a few moments in the Frank Howell Gallery. This was a thrill for me as I have long taken great enjoyment and pleasure in looking at the four collections of his paintings that were paired with Nancy Wood’s beautiful poems of Native American wisdom. Somehow, in some bizarre “cosmic” way, those books had paralleled and translated my life over the past 10 years. The four books are; “Spirit Walker”, “Sacred Fire”, “Dancing Moons”, and “A Shaman’s Circle”… all by Nancy Wood with illustrations by Frank Howell. Not unlike what I had experienced with the illustrated 1995 calendar by Susan Seddon Boulet where the illustrations for each particular week were reflecting my life precisely at the time ten years to the day later, I was now again seeing the same phenomenon here within these four books. The order in which I had purchased them over a period of time was remarkable and interesting in and of itself! They corresponded and spoke directly of the four phases of my “Shamanic path” and the order in which the events along that path had unfolded. Only upon looking back over the events that had transpired, did I see this parallel and pattern and then realize that it was almost as if the books had been written, in advance unwittingly to illustrate the path I had just walked through the past six years of my life. This never ceased to amaze me!

Suddenly I was struck with the memory of the Native American man I had encountered in Santa Fe. Greg and I had drifted into a corner bar on the famous plaza, diagonally across from the Howell Gallery, for a evening refreshment after some serious browsing and shopping in all the wondrous places along the bustling plaza. This is where the Frank Howell Gallery is located and an enormous bronze caricature of an elk standing up on his hind legs, front legs extended toward the sky as if praising the Great Spirit stands boldly in front of the entrance. It is not hard to miss, this magnificent rendition by Mr. Howell.

However, getting back to the bar scene. Greg and I were sitting, enjoying our first afternoon in Santa Fe with our ice cold drinks, when two Native American men came strolling in, looking very much like they had an intention, a mission, a message. They both had beautiful long black hair, jeans, a western type shirt… the typical southwestern garb. They seemed to gravitate to us and it was not long before we had struck up conversation. We of course, looked like typical tourists, so there was that factor to look out for, as these guys were obviously hustling a bit. There was a touch of tension when they first sat down and ordered drinks… apparently Native American Indians are not be served alcohol, definitely in their better interest … but they seemed cool with this and chose colas. They asked where we had been and where we were going. The one behind the Ray-Ban sunglasses slide his glasses down his nose and looked out over the top of them at me. He must have picked up something within me… as he leaned over and whispered “Never tell anyone your Indian name. You are a shaman, they will come to you!” Of this, he was adamant. This is how it always happened. His message of course struck a chord with me, as I was always on the lookout for signs and symbols, special messages dropped when least expected… I wanted to make sure I caught as many of them as I could. This was my personal "game" I played in constance with the Great Spirit. This proved and served to validate the many strange and bizarre events I had been experiencing, ever increasingly as of late. As I reflected back on my life, it was always lines like this spoken out of the blue and with some order of conviction that became markers, harbingers of what was to come. It happened every time, so why would I question this next one spoken with such intent and purpose right from the native man’s mouth. I was a bit transfixed with him, sitting there in his red shirt with his turquoise earring, his head turned ever so slightly that his long sleek black hair spilled over his shoulder on to the table, as the turquoise dangled and swung from his ear when he spoke, as if to show me the source from which this cascade of beautiful hair did flow. It was hard not to notice. I also noticed how the small bit of turquoise so nicely accented his dusty red shirt, as if to punctuate the flavor and feeling of the southwestern color spectrum and the way they harmoniously reflected.

The conversation shifted into superficial chat and that was all this man had to say… the message had been delivered and I had “gotten” it whether or not he had even been aware of it. We said our “adios” and parted ways for the evening. Later that night I remembered the sterling silver and turquoise feather earrings I had purchased in Madrid the day before… they also now seemed to hold great significance and symbolism for this particular journey along my shamanic pathway.

It wasn’t until I arrived home after the trip, pulled out the four books by Nancy Wood and flipped through them that it struck me. I flipped the pages quickly to find the pictures of the paintings we had seen in the Howell Gallery, and there, on the first page the book flipped automatically opened to was Frank Howell’s painting of an elder Native American elder man wearing a red shirt and a turquoise earring. Very much like what the man I had met would look like as he aged. It was nearly eerie. The poem by Nancy Wood on the opposing page is titled “The House of the Evening Light”… and I had met the Native Indian man in Santa Fe in a “house of evening light” that the pub on the corner of the square was. There was no doubt that the Great Spirit is not only alive and well, but steering the great “ship” as well. I figured at this point, it was easier to just sit back a bit and let the Spirit drive… and it has indeed proven so. The events could not be denied and I did not need any more proof than this to shift my perspective into a place of less resistance within my own life.

And then there is my favorite, the Howell painting of the older Native American woman who stands with a beautiful brilliant green and fuchsia pink hummingbird, hovering only inches right before her face. I had been given this beautiful painting image on a card by a dear friend as I had set off on my spiritual quest to walk the Camino de Compostella de Santiago in Northern Spain in 2002... 500 miles, the equivalent of roughly 750 KM over all kinds of terrain that would take a month of days and bring me to my knees nearly every day, blisters and bloody feet to boo!. My friend had enclosed a "flicker" feather from a flicker woodpecker into the card and I had braided that feather into my hair everyday along my walk... until some nice being decided they needed it more than I needed the sentimental support, and took it... oh well, that is the nature of getting lost and becoming found... somehow it all seemed appropriate in some strange way.

Looking back upon the path of my past, with the hummingbird card in constant display on my wall as a reminder...yesterday was my 8th year anniversary with my partner. He and I too have walked a rough path, strewn with all kinds of unexpected hurdles that have hung us up to near destruction of our magical dream-come-true fairytale relationship. I had hoped that reaching the number "8" as in "infinity" turned on it's side and all our problems in the way of "hurdles" would now be laid on their side and overcome, opening up our life into a new realm of ease and understanding that would bring he and I into "alignment", enabling the two of us to walk forward into the future together in harmony and the perfect collaborative "dance". I had put enough energy, time and deep thought into the manifestation of this as our new reality, putting the past 8 years of hard time to rest. Apparently this was too much to hope for even with all the "signs" I received during the day I literally spent alone. My partner had to work, but we still hoped for an early evening that would bring us together in a special celebration of all our rich life together and what was creatively looming just over the horizon for us both, individually and together with our own personal creative artistic talents. It was about time after eight years of struggles. Apparently that was too much to hope for as well. But the "signs" were what the "gift" was....

Early in the morning, as I stood out on my front deck, facing out onto the beautiful marsh as it was beginning to be flooded with the early morning sunlight, the crisp recent smell in the air of the first signs that autumn is just around the corner.... a hummingbird zipped down, did a quick little dance, darting and twisting about in a one foot square space right in front of me.... then she paused in mid air... only two feet in front of my face, she hovered there, facing me and me facing her.... her message was clear... and the picture of Frank Howell's painting of the wisewoman with the hummingbird hovering right in front of her nose, was now my reality, and I smiled in elation. What a remarkable, astounding gift of Spirit. But that was not all.

I went to work for part of the day and returning home mid-afternoon, again I paused for a quick respite on our bench on the deck. I was deep into thought of this special anniversary and what the evening might bring... "Give me a sign!" I whispered... and barely the words had left my mouth when an enormous hawk with a six foot wing span, appeared out from behind a nearby tree, so close above my head that I could hear the whoosh and thrump of his feathers as he dipped down in the opening of the sky directly above me. He swooped down, as if to say... "here is your "sign"... and then simply disappeared as quickly as he did appear. Hawks and hummingbirds had become my sacred totems. Gift number two.... the day was looking brighter.

A short time later, I again walked out onto the deck... again deep into thought of how to create our special evening...when a stark, pure white Egret lifted into the air a short distance away out above the marsh as if to make sure his timing would allow me to see him... another "sign"... I prayed there would be "no regrets"... Apparently the birds were listening... Spirit didn't seem to agree as I would come to find later in the evening.

Just as suddenly as all the other birds had appeared, a flock, otherwise known as a "murder" of crows flew directly over as well, as if to join in the ongoing aviary "salute" all these birds seemed to be giving me this one special day. This however, did not necessary appear to be a good sign and maybe the silent "majority" had the vote, because my special anniversary evening seemed to be not only loosing time... it was now nearly 7:30 pm and my "sweetheart" was still not home from work despite his earlier announcement that it WAS a special evening and he would be home around 6. This was not looking good. No phone call as to "I'm hung up... I'm sorry... I'm on my way"... no word. Not looking good at all. I have two versions of the "counting crows" rhyme and one ends with 10 crows being "joyous bliss" and the other ends with "the devil's own self".... this day was starting to end as if "he" indeed was moving in upon my intended, envisioned "bliss" I had so much hoped and dreamed for. Needless to say, I could begin to feel the the evening begin to slip away and slide downhill from there and as the day's "trend" turned, the evening ended in complete catastrophe... not the good "omen" that my day had began with... and it was all completely beyond my control. Maybe the "anniversary" was not about "us"... maybe it was about me... Maybe the number "8" turned on it's side to become the sign of "infinity" was more of a "spilling out" of sorts, and that this "sign and symbol" only meant something to me. My partner, Greg, had been very clear about not subscribing to my "spiritual ways", and in this way, had done nothing but put up resistance to any of my efforts around such a way to live my life. Maybe this was the final spilling out of the last few drops of this time together and now it was over... things had in reality been pointing this direction, despite my best efforts to ignore those "signs" and move on in the direction of my heart, which was to make it work with this man. His behavior through the rest of the evening, commencing with his late arrival home, with an attitude to boot.... was beyond my control. I just could not believe it... it was all crumbling right before my eyes and the last "sign" I had seen was the "murder" of crows... that seems to render "null and void" all other earlier "bird-brained" ideology that I was trying to see this day through "rose colored glasses" come what may. Even the "glasses" did not work and my long awaited, anticipated 8th anniversary was a disaster in more ways than I can even begin to describe. There was no dinner, there was no celebration, there was nothing but separation after only two hours of attempted "harmony" in what was clearly discordant from the moment of arrival home. I guess the "murder" had the silent majority ... and as I sit here in the early morning "aftermath"... my heart is broken and there is nothing for any of it. Oh well, so much for the "signs"... I guess they mean about as much as my anniversary meant in the long run to anyone else.

Funny.... I had recently taken off the turquoise earrings I had bought in the southwest for my 50th birthday, right before I had met the Native American man with the turquoise earring. Maybe that was the wrong thing to do... but no use crying over broken dreams, "spilled milk" and removed jewelry in what is now past... the milk of human kindness just does not seem to be in the hearts of men. And I have arrived at a place where I just don't know what to do with any of it any longer. Maybe now... I need to do nothing. That would be a relief! It's funny.... turquoise is the stone of strength, regeneration, vitalization, alignment, enhancement, creative expression, peace of mind, emotional balance, communication,, friendship, and loyalty. I going to put my turquoise earrings back on now.... and never take them off again!


Lori Suzanne Holetz lives in a redwood forest in California with her beloved twin flame, Gregory Barker. She is a Shaman Healer, mother of three, a designer/creator/writer, storyteller and dreamer… and she maintains a private healing practice. She continues to explore many creative endeavors to foster healing for the Earth. She lives by only one rule… Never harm the Great Mother, and never harm any of Her Children!

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