The ambition of evolution shows a most noble grace in the grandeur and subtlety of Elephant. The oldest surviving matriarch on Earth is a walking library of personal Earth records. She teaches us how to heal past trauma and use our experiences as tool to expand into more freedom. Weighing over 16,000 lbs and reaching heights of 13 feet, the elephant is a shy and curious giant. The complex subtitles of her emotions and self expression rival the most sophisticated of human societies. She teaches temperance at any size. With skin like an ancient map, Elephant medicine teaches that memories are stored as visual, symbolic pictures throughout every cell of our body. Walking with Elephant medicine is knowing that body and mind function as one. To heal a physical ailment we must heal the cellular memory causing the stronghold of tension.
How do we heal on a cellular level the stresses that keep us from our goals? The first, most important step is to know that healing is not only possible, but inherent and natural in your body. We are all born with an ability to heal. Animals in the wild live in a space/time different from our own without any notion of good or bad, right or wrong. They live in a dimension of eternal perfection. We also live in that same dimension with the animals. But our human journey has traveled far away from the harmony of the natural world and can also explore synthetic distortions. It is our human choice how closely we align with the harmony of nature. (See Crow) And it is this natural state of perfection that all core religions, philosophies, and belief systems strive to return to. We all seek to live in a knowing of our own inherent flawlessness. The way to arrive at this perspective is called ‘prayer’ in western cultures, ‘meditation’ in Eastern cultures, and Medicine in Native cultures. Walking a medicine way on the Good Red Road is being able to live in constant prayer, in harmony with your innate innocence and worth. Prayer is not about appealing to a domineering abstract father figure looming in judgment, ready to punish us for guessing wrong. Prayer is the act of asking for help from a greater source out of limited understanding. Engaging in prayer is an acknowledgment that we do not have the ability to always know what to do, and must at times be guided. In this simple appeal for help, we acknowledge a larger dimension and expand our own. Asking the unseen for help is an act of quantum instruction which also recognizes that our participation in our own perspective determines how wide and clear that perspective will be. Prayer is the oldest form of healing on Earth and it returns us to harmony with the natural world. The way to heal negative cellular memories is to use the inherent healing power in your own hands and ask that the conflict be given to the Source all around and within you.
Trauma of any kind, be it rejections of love to violence of war, is experienced physiologically, meaning the entire body feels it. It is for this reason that addressing our issues through talk and mental analysis is only addressing 10% of the problem. It is a valuable 10% to address. But the remaining storehouse of unconscious strain in the rest of our body will always billow up into our daily life and slow us down until we let the body speak as well. Elephants walk all day every day. They cross hundreds of miles and keep their hearts in pace with their heads. When the head spins faster than the drum of the heart, it is time to get the body moving. Know that you can not think your way out of thinking. To escape the spin cycle of your thoughts, leave your head space and live in the larger zone of action below you.
Though Elephant may feel strong and self-sufficient, she is nothing without companionship. Elephant asks us to find our tribe, the community that brings out the best in us. The people that ‘just get us” and beckon for our growth. She also teaches us how to handle the weight and burden of compulsive memories that bind us to limited perspectives of ourselves and others and how to forget discord to find joy.
Elephant medicine is also a study of the collective and how to find individuality inside the harmony of a community. She teaches the distinction between the collective and the individual. You may be human, but you are not all of humanity. You can not take responsibility for everyone’s actions. The most effective way to heal the world is to step into your own personal power and live a happy life. When you find your power place you create more space for others to do the same. You serve as a priceless example of claiming your right to enjoy life.
Elephants speak in subsonic rumbles lower than human audibility and these rumbles travel miles, and are heard by distant tribes. Elephant medicine people do not need physical proximity to a loved one to feel connected. The bond between them spans a vast landscape and escapes the limits of time and space. How well have you been listening to the subtle sounds around you? The world is talking. Learning how to listen teaches us how to learn.
Elephants only have two gaits: walking and brisk walking. They can not run due to their size. When working with elephant medicine, the pace will be slow and steady. The option to hurry will not be available. This is particularly true when working with grief and painful memories. Release takes the time it takes. It can not be scheduled. Trying to speed up the healing process will only serve to prolong it. Elephant says, move at a slow, sure pace and you will make large strides. Letting go of the past is accepting that no mistakes were made and you did the best you could.
Elephant is large, but the world is larger. She is a reminder that there is always enough space for your reality. There is no emotion too large for the world to endure so express what you feel and take up the space you need in order to heal. Claim your right to stand as you are and do what you need to do. Elephant feet are highly sensitive to vibrations. Under the inch thick skin is a gelatinous shock absorber that allows them to stand and bear their weight for long periods of time. They also have the awareness and grace to pause at fragile objects.
This masterful agility reminds us to take note of our own impact and influence over the life surrounding us. Throwing weight around unconsciously leads to chaos and pain. Mindful actions lead to a deeper, more enjoyable experience of the world. Escorting a lost bug off your arm rather than smashing it is good Elephant medicine. Refraining from unleashing a torrent of verbal criticism is good Elephant medicine. You do not need to prove your strength in order to have it. Power is the ability to not act reactively. Elephant’s gentle nature is a visible teaching of the true nature of power.
She possesses exceptional skills in memory often storing a single experience for a lifetime. But memories can sometimes be a self-made prison as is illustrated in the process of training young elephants. When an elephant trainer wishes to tame a baby elephant they place a chain around one leg limiting her movement. As the elephant grows to adulthood she never forgets the sensation of confinement. And then the trainer is able to replace the heavy chain with a light piece of rope. Despite her awesome strength, the memory of the chain still keeps the elephant in place with the lightest of suggestion. Such is the power of harmful memories.
This medicine teaches us to break the chain of compulsive memories that keep us feeling small and victimized. What is the quality of the content of your thoughts? Do your thoughts hurt? Are you experiencing shame, fear, or anger? Gently observe the chain of thoughts whipping through your mind and reconnect with your inherent perfection. The opposite of memory is forgetfulness and Elephant medicine teaches us how to use both productively.
The social structure of elephant society is matriarchal with the sisters and aunties helping all mothers to raise their young together as a family. And so, if you see a herd of elephants, you are looking at only women and children. Male elephants strike out on their own when they reach adulthood and do not form communities like their women kind. Male elephants do sometimes form temporary friendships with another male for months or years, traveling as a pair for a time to various watering holes. But the core success of elephant life is found in the female tribes. This sisterhood energy does not exclude men, it recognizes the different natures between them and allows for those differences. Feminine energy is creative and communal. Masculine energy is destructive and singular. Both energies reside in each of us and balance each other. Masculine Elephant medicine explores solitude. Their sense of belonging does not need a constant outward social structure.
Elephant tribes are governed by a Matriarch who is the eldest mother among them. She remembers all the ancient watering holes taught to her by her mother, and her mother’s mother… since the beginning of Elephant time. The matriarch guides her family single file across the plains to life-giving streams and feeding grounds. She teaches, as she was taught, all her wisdom to her daughters who will lead the tribe after she is gone. In this way Elephant medicine maintains an unbroken legacy of life learning, impossible to find in books. The daughter who remembers the teachings the best is the one who will step forward to become the next matriarch. The matriarch is dearly loved by all her daughters, sisters and aunts, who often pet her and lavish affection upon her. When a matriarch dies, her tribe forms a circle around her body and weeps for her. The grave sites of lost elephants, like the grave sites of our own departed, are clearly remembered by family members and revisited years after the passing. Elephants in mourning have also been seen embracing the bones of the lost loved one. She holds instruction on how to grieve and release the anger of loss. If someone has transitioned out of your life in some way, call on Elephant to guide you through that process of heart break. Her first lesson is to remind you that the heart can not ‘break.’ It only bends. In bending it grows larger, and more capable of holding the wonders of life. Elephant medicine calls on the community for support. No single success was ever achieved alone. Behind each success story is an intricate network of support. Supporting others brings support to your own life.