Ask salmon to help you find your way home

2024 a year of sacred memory, dreaming dragons, and original prayer

Week 25--in which we ponder the mystical wisdom of the salmon

Friends, soul writers, mystics, witches, and lovers of prayer,

In 2016, I invited artist, author, and activist Mary Ann Radmacher to be a guest teacher in a course I called “Express Your Soul’s Beauty.” Mary Ann said she had the perfect exercise to help us develop a prayer to support our creativity. To begin, she invited us to name our favorite food. She said, if nothing mattered but taste, what would you love to eat every day?

Mary Ann said she’d eat juicy sweet delicious peach pie every day. We went around the room and everyone named something sweet. I looked down at what I’d written and wondered what was wrong with me. I have never been enamored of sweets. Couldn’t care less about cake or pie. On my page, I’d written salmon. Wild Alaskan salmon to be precise. I could—and do—eat wild salmon every week—two or three times a week. When my son visited in February, he asked what’s for dinner, paused and said, “Oh, let me guess…salmon.” I laughed. He knows me all too well.

I love salmon for the spectacular health benefits as well as the scrumptious taste, but salmon is more than that for me.

After Mary Ann got us to name our favorite food, she had us name our favorite author and a few other favorites. Then, she showed us how to turn our favorites into a prayer to feed our creativity. I don’t have the prayer anymore and I don’t remember all the parts. But I do remember standing in front of my creative altar every morning and invoking the wisdom of salmon and of John O’Donohue to feed my creative life.

Salmon was then, and continues to be, a magnificent teacher.

I bless my salmon every evening as I welcome this perfect food into my body. As I say grace, I feel a tender connection to the wisdom of the indigenous peoples of Alaska—and the wisdom of all indigenous peoples everywhere—who recognized, honored, and cherished the relationship of the eater and the eaten. The fisher and the fish. The grower and the grain. A relationship most of us have forgotten as we mindlessly consume manufactured food.

Wild Alaskan Company, the little family company from whom I order my salmon, will not let me forget that relationship. Along with my monthly shipment of fish, they send regular emails with news about the weather, the seasons, their little family, and the growing family of people who work with them.

I read all the profiles. I love knowing something about the people who bring me my favorite food. I get a wee teary when indigenous women talk about the sacred stories of the salmon that their ancestors have passed down generation after generation. Their words bring home the memory that salmon is a gift. A gift of Mother Earth, of Mother Ocean, of Mother River. A gift I must receive with open hands and humble heart. A gift I must never, ever, take for granted.

One of Wild Alaskan Company’s other delights is recipes.

And cooking methods—high temp roasting, low temp roasting, brining, sautéing, poaching. I confess I will always click on a salmon recipe. And that’s what happened today. I was reading the New York Times and saw an article with the provocative title “My Favorite Way to Make Salmon Even Better.” (I hope this link works, but it might be behind a paywall.)

The chef, Yotam Ottolenghi, takes his time before he gives us the recipe. First, he extolls the magnificent wisdom of the salmon. I think you’ll enjoy reading the whole article, but here are some highlights:

  • salmon journey far and wide from the freshwater rivers of their birth into salty seas
  • years later, when it’s time to reproduce, they return to the exact same spot where they were born
  • salmon possess highly accurate receptors that sense small differences in Earth’s magnetic field
  • their sense of smell can identify and find the stream where they were born

This isn’t news for me. In A.R.T.1, our first The Witch Sequence intensive to activate our natural and wildly powerful intuitive senses, we called on animals who can “see” although they have no eyes or hear frequencies we cannot with our tiny hearing capacity.

In our third gathering, we explored unconscious knowing. How do you know something that you’ve never experienced or heard or been taught? This is the crux of full body intuition. My sister-witch and collaborator in all things witch, Cathy Stevens Pratt, invited us to meet three animals who somehow know what they do not know:

  1. Green Turtle—who can follow geomagnetic lines for thousands of miles
  2. Bee—who can sense electrical fields around flowers and is the only insect who can
  3. Salmon—who uses both the Earth’s magnetic fields in the ocean and smell in rivers to find their way home

By the time we finished A.R.T. 1, we knew that the supposedly god-given axiom that man is the master of the Earth with dominion over the land and its creatures is a lie.

A total and pathetic lie.

If you wish to explore our more accurate place in creation, you might consider studying the songs of the whale—melodies that can be heard across an entire ocean, or the languages—complete with dialects—of the dolphin, or the outrageous brain power of the octopus, who has a brain in each leg. And that’s just for starters.

I love every animal who helped us expand our body’s intuitive senses. I cherish all the books that ended up taking over an entire shelf in my library. But of them all, I return most often to Totem Salmon: Life Lessons from Another Species by Freeman House.

Here’s a taste:

“Salmon swim in a living medium full of the buzz and pulse of electromagnetic fields and currents, within infinitesimal differences in temperature and salinity and light and food. Populations of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon marked and observed over a twenty-three-hundred-mile range extending from the Gulf of Alaska to the western subarctic Pacific have turned up at the mouths of their natal streams within three days of each other, a phenomenon biologists accept as evidence that individual salmon navigate—that is to say, each fish is somehow able to determine its position at sea and choose a direct path to its natal stream.”

In other words, salmon know how to find home. They are experts—the experts—at homecoming.

And therein lies the message. The mystical message. As a woman awakening to the ancient memory of the loss of the beauty and wisdom of the wise, revered, feminine witch, I want to find my way back home. Home to our original waters. Clear streams before religion. Before relegation of the female to second class. Before rape, war, colonialization, and slavery.

Following the guidance of salmon, I wonder if I might call this memory an indigenous witch memory. An original memory of the communion of female and male. A memory of reverence for one another and for all life. A memory of the whole and holy witch. And her companion, the whole and holy wizard.

I realize as I write this, that that prayer from 2016 has come true.

The salmon has become my great mystical teacher, sharing her wisdom to guide me, and all who hold even a vestige of the memory of the original whole and holy witch, safely home.

Salmon’s wisdom feeds my creativity as I take the next step in creating the fourth intensive in The Witch Sequence—A.R.T. 4. The fourth indigenous WitchArt gift is the Ancestral Memory of the Myrrhophore Mysteries.

All next week, I will be inviting members of the first three intensives in The Witch Sequence to register. Then, next Sunday, June 30, I’ll open registration to everyone who reads these Notes from the Field. If you wish to save the date, our opening ceremony is Sunday August 4th.

In the meantime, I’m going to do some deep soul writing this week about the eggs I’m carrying. Eggs we’ve carried for millennia, swimming upstream against barrier after barrier that patriarchal religion and culture have constructed to thwart this deep memory of who I am, who we are.

And the memory of the world we came here to create. In other words, home!

to navigating our way home

Janet

website: janetconner.com

facebook: janet conner prayer artist

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