Spirit Leaves: Zorba, Yogananda and a Wild Heart


Sitting down to write is like arriving at a spring storm’s beginning. At first, there’s the light scent of incipient ideas in the wind, mingled with the fresh piney aroma of potential insight. Then a few blessed drops of thought permeate the volatile, vaporous atmosphere. The air then becomes saturated with thoughts, images and feelings. Soon, there’s a microburst of guided ideas. My hands cling like wet leaves to fleeting bits of insight and clarity. Eventually, a tempest is in full gear, everything whirling and mixing, sifting and layering. Ultimately, in precious, dew-laced moments, the whole enchanted forest comes alive with green meanings.

I needed an “over the top” exordium in order to warm up to this month’s topic. I’m wild inside, but not in my external life. I first had to call a trusted mentor to inquire how to address this topic with integrity. The wise Cedric Red Feather opined, “You cannot write about the topic because you’re not there yet. You’re peeking in the door. When you become enlightened — like Krishna, like Buddha, like Yogananda — then you will be wild. You will be like everything else in nature. To be wild is to be entirely without ego.”

I realize, after speaking with him, how fortunate I am: I am conscious of the journey, of being on the road to somewhere, of having not yet arrived. There are beautiful guides with me along the way: Native American spirit guides, enlightened beings, some animals, and a bird or two. Two of them — Song of the Wind and Wildflower — are integral to helping me recapture and record in writing my connection to the natural realm, a past-life bond weakened through a false sense of separation.

I have let myself become distracted, hiding behind work and routines. I long for the woods, my true home. I have altars indoors for the faeries and elementals. I need lots of help re-growing myself as “wild.”

I should, perhaps, write about running on the beach barefooted. I should admit to having gone skinny-dipping with a friend in a creek deep in the woods of Pennsylvania, with only day lilies and butterflies to witness our childlike, free and open state of being. Maybe I should confess the time I danced in a wild ring with my law school buddies — high as a cloud — to the song, “All Night Long.”

While these moments were joyous and festive, they pale in comparison to my soul’s liberation from ego, a feat made possible only by traveling in a direction opposite to that of sensory pursuits. The beautiful and wise Paramahansa Yogananda taught Kriya Yoga: meditation to withdraw our energy from the senses in order to travel a direct path up the spinal column and out the third eye, into the infinite expanse of All That Is.

Remember Wordsworth, the beloved Romantic poet? Centuries ago, he wrote,
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; —
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”

His words have stayed in my heart. They are still fresh and contemporary. Wordsworth knew of the wild soul: he would have danced with Zorba.

This insulated, material world does not completely serve our most essential needs. It’s odd how we use labels like “wildflowers” and “wild animals,” as though both needed to be corralled and tamed. In point of fact, these spirits of the natural realm understand inherently what should be our quest. We ought to cultivate a wild soul — a wild heart — an authentic Spirit, expressing its true nature.

The truly wild soul and I are coming closer. When I am that soul, I will no longer speak through the column Spirit Leaves. Instead, you will hear the tapping of a shutter one night. A window panel will swing open, striking the exterior of your turreted home. In the wind you will hear my song, sad and soulful, and you will wonder at the freedom of it.

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Janet Michele Red Feather
Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.


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