Day 20. Shadow Hawk


“Shadow Hawk” 11×14, oil on canvas $150 [button link=”″ type=”big”] Buy Now[/button] SOLD

I’ve never met Janet but I’ve read the story she wrote about four times and counting. I can’t stop reading it. Rather than go on and on about it (which I most certainly could), I think you should just read it. You won’t regret it.

Shadow Hawk

I was a thirty seven year old woman getting sober for the fifth time. This time I meant business. I was done, scared, and ready. Nothing was stopping me. I wanted to change; I wanted to be different, I never wanted that pain again. I also was totally clueless on what sobriety looked like, and that frightened me. I thought, at that time, it was just about abstinence. I know differently now.  

For the first time, I was willing to do anything to stop drinking and drugging. An opportunity came for me to go in-patient to a Social Detox House, straight from there to a Treatment Center, then The Gate House which is a Halfway House. The Gate House is where my road to Spirituality began. The counselor there introduced us to a Native American Lakota Sweat Lodge. We were offered to go or not to go; it did not matter. I fell in love with the Sweat Lodge. Then we were given a chance to go on a Vision Quest. It was very symbolic for me. I was leaving behind an old way of life, going into the woods to be at one with the Creator, to come out “reborn.” Anew. I should let you know I do not have any Native American in my bloodline.

There were many things we had to do before entering our Vision Quest. We had to make prayer ties, find a prayer stick and make it our own. Read “The Wind is My Mother,” find giveaways (gifts to give away to the people who held prayer space and tended the fire). These are to name a few.

I was a little naive and thought we were going to just simple woods, like where families go and camp together. We went to a National Forest, Kisatchie. Walking through the land, being brought to where I was to be left for two nights and three days, I was terrified by the size of the spiders and their webs.They were HUGE. By the grace of Creator, a gentleman in our group noticed I did not have a tent (I went with only clothes and a sleeping bag, along with other spiritual fetishes). He said I needed something to put underneath my sleeping bag or it would get wet from the dew.  We were already out on the land, what did I do?! He found a blue tarp in the back of his truck. Oh, my  goodness. Thank you, Creator!

Now at my spot in the woods, they take my shoes, and leave me. My prayer ties have been tied around some trees to form a circle, and I am not allowed to step out of that circle until the third day when they come and get me. There were five of us doing the Vision Quest. We were spread out in different areas where you can’t see anyone. That first night with no tent and the creepy crawlers that I saw, along with the abundance of  Daddy Long Legs everywhere, I lay my head down and cried. I cried and cried and cried for fear of the unknown, fear something would fall out of the trees, fear something would bite me, fear, fear, fear. Then it was morning. I survived the first night, which made the second night easy! Whew!

In my Vision, I was told I had to sing the Forgiveness Song. Another time I was hugging the Whole Earth. My body was draped over the Earth with arms and legs hugging it while out in space. Then on the last night, as I laid my head on top of my hands clasped with a rock, I brought out there, I heard in my ear seven distinct strums, like a finger on a single guitar string striking seven different times. It brought tremendous joy to me. I felt connected to all things! The fear had left.

We hear the drums and people singing and walking through the Forest.  They are coming to get us. Bring us back home. Rebirth. We had a naming ceremony, and they painted our faces to depict our new names. My new name is Shadow Hawk. I am still trying to understand exactly what that means.

I do know that because of the gift of sobriety, I have learned to fearlessly and thoroughly look for, find, and ask to be rid of the shadows in my personality that keep me separate from others.  Pride is a main one, self importance too. My desire to be liked and to be recognized can skew my perception of myself and others. Shadow also has another purpose. It is where we rest from the heat of a day, the shadow of a tree or rock or even a fluffy cloud. It can give rest.

The Hawk flies and casts a shadow down on Earth. Maybe one day I will stand in the Shadow of the Hawk and understand it is not meant to be understood.


Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

September 20, 2014

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