Quartet in Moonlight~ Tracking Wisdom Around the Wheel

Glowing Moon,
White as Bone
Sails o’er Waters…
O’er Hills,
o’er time-darkened Stone.

Gnawing the Moon down
to a crescent rind,
Eerie voices rise and whine
along Earth’s shadowed skin.

Each voice is different
yet each voice is akin.
A chorus of Uilleann pipes,
clarinet, and
penny whistle…
runs along the spine
like an intuitive missile…

One uilleann voice lifts above the chorus,
Complex, full-throated,
Wisdom winding toward us…

“I will Teach you to
Sift the Winds for secrets,
to Trust your senses,
to Go Within on stalker’s feet, and
Hunt down your worst enemy
within the darkness of your Soul!

At every Corner I await you…
Singing of Lessons unending
Noble Death
Balance between Self
and Duty…

Walk in Beauty!

Follow the trail of the Relentless Hunter,
for no path may be hidden from My hunger!"

A clarinet note dragged out like smoke
smudged across the Sky
as the Stars dance within the Medicine Bowl…

Change unending I sing!
Eternal are Irony
… Unity!
Painful lessons and laughter I bring
to the World’s vast community.

Wise Fool,
I dance to my own heart’s beat.
I’ll hand you Wisdom on one side
…and then fall to my own conceit!
For I am both the Illusion
And the Mirror that cannot lie.

For you, oh my den mate, I sing… and
With you I survive, or die…"

As a sunset, it fades and another voice lifts
like an oboe’s sweet tones,
this Teacher’s voice drifts…

“Protection, Service and Loyalty!
My songs are as varied as my breed.
Beloved by Divine, humble, and royalty…
My great heart and spirit your love will feed,
Yet nothing
t’wixt Truth and Self
should intercede!”

At last, the whistle-like voice does ascend
while the very dawn approaches and pauses to attend…

“Protect the Child, both within and without,
and I will teach you how best to hide
if you have any doubts!

I run between the rim
of this World and the Others
Perhaps this is why I am hunted…

and perhaps…
I am simply a bit more Fae than my Brothers!
The Fair Folk and I have often traded favors…

and the Shifting of shape…
Oft-times I am little more than
a clever
against a Dreamscape…"

A reedy ululating chorus once more
these Teachers call out and implore…

“All for One and One for All!
Life is the Lesson and
Family is all that holds our freedom in thrall…”

We Sing Now!

“Contemplate the workings of this world, listen to the words of the wise, take all that is good as your own. With this as your base, open your won door to truth. Do not overlook the truth that is right before you. Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything-even mountains, rivers, plants, and trees-should be your teacher.” Morihei Ueshiba from The Art of Peace

“Throw me to the wolves, because there’s order in the pack.” Red Hot Chili Peppers, Easily

“Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.” Proverb

Uilleann or bag pipes, have a distinctive sound ranging from high to low in pitch and this instrument is capable of evoking great emotion. This made it perfect to represent the uncanny and unforgettable sound of a wolf howling in the distance. Wolves are often viewed as more dangerous than the domesticated Dog. They have been both boldly painted, and greatly misunderstood by Mankind in general. Seen as driven purely by instinct, wolf is often viewed as the ruthless killer of the young, the old and the sick, a harrier of the herds and flocks that feed us, a deadly and cunning foe, and because of this view the Wolf was hunted almost to extinction.

However, many today feel that how we will choose to treat the wolf that we nearly hunted to extinction, and whether or not we continue to protect the species now that it is burgeoning once more, will determine just how much we have truly learned about both ourselves and wolf society over the years. I believe much of our negative view of this Teacher reflects the worst we fear or see within our selves.

Curiously, our literature, films and even music will also take the fearsome qualities of a wolf and depict them as irresistibly attractive, and successful creatures. For example, Werewolves are most often depicted as both charming, very skillful, and bloodthirsty. Lycanthropes are rarely seen in a positive light though, and this fusion between Wolf and Man is a poor reflection of what the experience could really be like. For a recent example, I have been particularly impressed with the character Wolf from the mini-series “The 10th Kingdom” as he captures the dichotomy of being a Wolf quite naturally.

The actor does a marvelous job conveying a canine mentality and mannerisms in a completely natural manner. I loved how he would subtly draw in the scent of the “creamy dreamy girl of his dreams” whenever she was close, his paw-scratching-ear “Wolf’s honor!” motion, and how he struggled with his mood swings during the full moon. Okay, he did almost get her Grandma into the oven, but that was before he got to our plucky heroine.

The writers provided the framework of Wolf and his dialogue in yet another world where Wolves are commonly seen as bad guys. Actually, one of the only films that I can think of that doesn’t have everyone out to kill the mythical Wolf is the 1994 film entitled simply “Wolf” starring Jack Nicholson, James Spader and Michelle Pfieffer. A stunning work, by the way, and it too is an excellent example of the joys and sorrows that create Wolf people.

Noble, sexy, romantically gifted, and charming wolves of all sorts have been illustrated in countless films and books. Think of Tex Avery’s howling wolves in zoot suits, the traditional Big Bad Wolf (especially sly and charming in the stage production, “Into the Woods”) or Walter Wolf from the Animaniacs. Rudyard Kipling’s Akela and The Pack have influenced countless generations of not only readers, but specifically Boy Scouts as they have been using excerpts from the Mowgli stories to teach young boys how to behave in packs for some time now. Actually, this too is an excellent example of Wolf behavior!

The “lone wolf” is also a common hero figure in many works of fiction, although wolves are most definitely social creatures. To me this is symbolic of one of Wolf’s central lessons. It is the Wolf’s duty to Self, Pack and Creator to venture out into the world to gather Knowledge, and then return home to share this wealth with the Pack.

“Throughout the centuries we have projected on to the wolf the qualities we most despise and fear in ourselves.” Barry Lopez

“We humans fear the beast within the wolf because we do not understand the beast within ourselves.” Gerald Hausman

“Even when walking in the company of two other men, I am bound to be able to learn from them. The good points of the one I copy; the bad points of the other I correct in myself.” Confucius

Universal Pictures’ 1995 canine hero, Balto, gives us a fine example of how ostracized Wolves typically feel about society in general… and how they still carry love for others within them despite the many affronts and attacks. Yet, curiously enough, the Balto immortalized in film was depicted as a wolf/husky hybrid, and the real Balto was just sled dog! Perhaps this is a cultural indication that our collective view of this majestic creature is changing?

The animated film “Hoodwinked” has a reporter named Wolf who is also mistaken for a bad guy, and “Princess Mononoke” all paint very different pictures that share several positive traits, but ultimately all are Wolves. “Will you offer your throat to Wolf with the red roses?” as Meatloaf suggests? Just why is it that we see Wolves as both dangerous and sexy? Perhaps it is their power to draw us that we find as dangerous as it is irresistible…

“We have doomed the Wolf not for what it is, but for what we have deliberately and mistakenly perceived it to be… the mythologized epitome of a savage, ruthless killer… which is, in reality, no more than a reflexed image of our self.” Farely Mowat

“Wolves are not our brothers; they are not our subordinates either. They are another nation, caught up just like us in the complex web of time and life. " ~ Henry Beston

“To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul. " Aldo Leopold

Not everyone misunderstands the Wolf obviously, but perhaps our modern world has pushed him to the back of our technology-driven, busy city minds. Surely, Humans have empathized with the Wolf for many generations to be both so drawn and so repelled by this Creature Teacher, and I often feel as if this mirrors our own image of ourselves. Native Americans have understood and respected this wise Teacher for countless generations. We certainly can share a lot of similarities. We’re both social creatures who have a strong interest in our families and home lives.

We’re both highly adaptive, capable of great affection and loyalty to our pack members, and will respond in similar manners to our Alpha personalities. We both take the training, care, and time to play with our young as a very serious and often joyful duty. Also, both humans and wolves tend to be highly responsive to non-verbal cues of posture, expression, and general body language.

Unlike humans though, wolves can often settle any potential disputes without resorting to a physical act. Wolves take great care of their pups, and work very hard to insure the success of the Pack’s future by giving all the best attention and education to their young. For Wolf people who have no mate or pups of their own, I would advise you to volunteer your time in a group or organization involving kids; become a Scout leader, coach a sport, join Big Brothers/Sisters or a similar organization and you might be surprised at how fulfilling you find it!

“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” Robert Maynard Hutchins

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack” Rudyard Kipling

According to most Native Traditions, it is the nature of Wolf to travel out in each direction, learn the Wisdom held there, and then return to the Pack to share what has been learned for the benefit of all. The obvious directions, South, West, North and East, hold lessons on: self-reliance, developing and learning to trust ones own keen instincts, recognition and reverence of Creator and the divine spark of Spirit or Soul, learning from the mistakes of the past and carrying the best lessons (both our own and our ancestors) forward into the future, respecting our Elders, finding and maintaining a balance between our Physical and our Spiritual selves, and finally Sharing all that has been learned and experienced.

It is said that there is a Wolf who guards the door of each of the Four Winds, and each direction holds a different set of Lessons to be learned. I’ve written here about what I have heard of Wolf in regards to this story, but the best advice is Always to research, meditate and try to connect for yourself to the energy you are either seeking or feel drawn to…

Arctic Wolf would be of the North Wind, and He teaches us how to sift through our experiences for the Wisdom to treasure, as well as how to fashion that Wisdom into a useful course of action in life. It is important here to both be flexible in the face of Change and Adversity and to remain true to our values and higher purpose. That which doesn’t kill us does, indeed, make us stronger. Arctic Wolves survive amazingly harsh conditions by being adaptable, tenacious, resilient, creative and bold. While they can make it look easy, it is by no means an easy balancing act and running to any extreme can bring an abrupt and harsh end to everything!

Capable of incredible stamina against seemingly insurmountable odds, such people will pull themselves up by the bootstraps time after time…learning, adapting, and setting their sights on new horizons each time they pull through the last bout of Adversity. Perhaps the most valuable lessons the Arctic Wolf can teach though is the vital importance of caution and conservation. Knowing when to be bold and in what measure is even more important than the ability to be bold in the first place! This Wolf knows, better than most, that sometimes it is more important to conserve ones energy, to retreat and revitalize ones self while waiting for a better opportunity.

Gray Wolf stands at the door of the Western Wind. Gray is a color of neutrality; a conservative color, it is closely linked with sorrow, moodiness, temperance, uncertainty, and intelligence. Those that follow this path are personalities that see everything in life as a lesson and try always to improve themselves through the lessons they have learned. Change and opportunities to grow are always present in the lives of those who follow this Teacher. The trick is to recognize and then work with the natural cycles, like Seasons, in ones own life. Adapting to Change is vital to Gray Wolves.

Rather than worrying about the unknown variables of present or future though, it is best to simply accept that what will be will be. There will be Change, of that you can be certain just as you can be certain that we will all make mistakes or be blindsided from time to time. Better to focus on finding our best path to future events by making the best choices in the present that we are capable of making. After all “change comes from within” and ultimately it is our choices that will determine where we go in life. Set reasonable and clear goals for yourself.

Gray Wolf people recognize that all Life is sacred and work to protect Life in many ways. Some actively participate in, or support groups that protect and preserve the World around us. Some volunteer time at animal shelters, wildlife rescue organizations, forestry agencies, neighborhood clean-ups, community oriented drives and activities, or simply do their best to recycle and conserve in day to day life.

Wolf also teaches us that Loyalty is of great importance. Wolves are one of the few in the animal kingdom that mate for life and even the bond between pack mates is strong enough that one will lay down their life in defense of the others. So… Listen to your instincts, follow the rule of three (As in, three strikes and you’re out!) without exception, and do your level best not to blind yourself to the faults of others simply because you love them.

In the end, we save ourselves incredible soul and heartache by letting a disloyal person go, no matter who they are to us, rather than holding on to them out of our own fierce sense of loyalty. I spent a lot of years learning this, most painfully in the past three years, and hopefully I have well and truly learned my lesson this time. I still feel that I struggle against myself more than anything else in life.

Gray Wolf seeks constantly to balance Reason and Intuition. Indeed, such people are either drawn to others who seem to them to walk a firm balance between these two traits, or they are drawn to those who struggle with this balance. Uncertainty, moodiness, snappish or erratic behavior, sorrow/depression, self-indulgence (especially in a sensual way i.e. through food, uncontrolled emotions like rage or jealousy, sex, etc), and choosing to isolate one’s self as opposed to enjoying periods of solitude are all signs of unbalanced Wolf energy.

The red wolf is a survivor of the Ice age and (late) Pleistocene epoch. She stands at the door of the South Winds; home of the creative fires of life, passion, fertility, and courage. This magnificent Creature Teacher teeters now on the brink of extinction because of the predations of Mankind. This is a great sorrow to me as this is such a passionate and creative Teacher.

Red Wolf people would do well to follow their strongly developed Intuition without question. Once you start questioning yourself, it’s hard to stop! Red Wolf holds the Wisdom of the Compassionate and Innocent Heart. Red Wolf people tend to be very creative and artistic, and one can easily see the influence of their strong Intuition reflected there. They also tend to be very passionate individuals with a great willingness to shower others with compassion, to be trusting of new people. Such people should watch their impulsiveness and be careful of their tender hearts.

In general, Wolf people probably vary widely in their success at seeking to balance Reason and Intuition. Both are valuable, both should be nurtured, but neither one should take precedence in my opinion. Personally, I find that I struggle not to let Reason limit my Intuition. Like many, I am often my own worst enemy and second-guess myself far too often.

I do not know, according to these tales, which Wolf stands at the East door. My own intuition says that We are the Wolf that stands at the door to the East, for this is the place of beginnings. Here is where Wolf begins the journey of discovery by following the motion of the wheel South, West, North and then finally returning to the Pack and Family in the East as an illuminated Teacher to share all that has been learned and complete the sacred circle.

“A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.” Author Unknown

“Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success.” Author Unknown

“Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it.” Bill Bradley

Knowledge begins with Awareness, and Peace begins with Balance. These are inextricably bound lessons essential to Wolf people. To all Wolves, it is the Pack that takes precedence over any other consideration. Two legged Wolves need to be aware, need to look within and around them with clear eyes to be good pack members.

“Know yourself”, both flaws and strengths, for if we are dishonest with ourselves, how can we clearly see anything else in life? Likewise, we need to really know those we consider “pack mates”. In a successful pack, everyone knows their place and can rely on the others to do their part. Being a team player, looking out for the welfare of your fellows, and feeling secure in their abilities, knowing how they will respond, brings contentment to Wolf far more than pushing for the Alpha position.

In any event, a true Alpha does not lead because he/she is stronger, fiercer, bigger or better at throwing their weight around. A true Alpha, Canid or human, leads by consensus of the pack because… in their eyes the Alpha exemplifies all that the pack strives for and has all the qualities needed to bring success to the pack. A leader is born, not made, and the best man for the job is usually the one who doesn’t want it! As Joel Rosenburg said, “Wanting to rule as opposed to being willing to govern is evidence of a diseased mind.”

Wolf understands this better than perhaps any other, and this is what makes aware and balanced Wolves such wonderful leaders and great Teachers. For every Wolf knows that someday, they may have to lead the pack and all that they strive for is to be worthy, whatever their position may be. I wonder how many “dog people” out there have found or expressed their connection to the Canid Teachers through their pets?

My favorite story about Wolf is often attributed as a Cherokee tale…

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside of me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then, eyes round, asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee replied, simply, “The one you feed the most.”

Wise words and very true! I love to share this cautionary tale with kids. There have been plenty of times in my own life where I’ve had to remind myself, “Don’t feed that one!” According to the Lakota the seven virtues everyone should strive for are: Generosity, Truth, Humility, Faith, Kindness, Hope and Joy. Wolf, as the Great Teacher, can help us find the path to each of these virtues.

Wolf people should beware gorging their appetites. Allowing anger, lust, gluttony or any similar emotion to rule you is always unwise but perhaps especially so to Wolf people as it can give one a false sense of power or contentment. Be especially careful who and what you invest your faith in.

Controlling one’s instinctual impulses, like our sex drive, is often an issue with Wolf people somewhere along their path. Loyalty is a theme that can be found running through all of the canine banners, and it is an important issue to all those who are drawn to any of the Canine Teachers. Wolf people often struggle to find a balance between their individuality and their genuine care of and concern for others.

It is very important for Wolf people in general to feel “needed” and to actively contribute to the Greater Good, but it is just as important that these social souls remember to take time for themselves, to contemplate in quiet solitude and reflect upon the needs and lessons of self, family, community and the World in which we all live. Personally, I know that if I don’t make sure to spend at least a little time purely by myself on a regular basis, I definitely begin to feel off-balance, depleted, and less capable in every aspect of my life. Many people in life actively fear solitude and even silence, which I had never really understood as quiet time alone is how I best replenish and revitalize myself.

My own recent and rather painful life lessons reminded me of another common problem that many Wolf people face. All Canines are rather sensitive souls. This means both sensitive to the world around us, which can be very beneficial, and sensitive to how we are treated by others, which is not so beneficial. The more we feel “driven into a corner”, the more likely we are to be overly defensive too. This is when most canines are at their most dangerous. Sometimes the harsh nature of Life’s Lessons can drive us into feeling like we would rather remain aloof from society, build up a protective wall between us and others.

For the first time in my life, I actually looked around me at my fellow humans and was shuddering in very real revulsion and fear. At that point, I would have seriously contemplated removing one of my limbs rather than come in any closer contact with people in general. This was just a reaction though to the pain that this last lesson caused me, and I chose not to harbor or nurture these emotions, so they eventually faded. Like the Wolf, Coyote, and Fox that have been pursued and hunted so vigorously, and like the Dog that has been beaten or abused until it’s great Spirit has been broken… I’ve been shy of people since and still struggle sometimes not to either retreat, burst out in emotions or become overly defensive. I still have to remind myself that any interaction between myself and others is not a trap from which I have to escape at all costs.

Healing takes time though and I’m trying to be patient with myself. I don’t want to feed that Wolf. I never have, and have worked my whole life to spread positive emotions and values with an optimistic attitude by living what I believe. Wolf, and all the Canine Cousins, have taught me a great deal, and I am grateful… even for the painful lessons. After all, they would have probably hurt a lot less if I hadn’t resisted them so! How does Wolf appear in your life?

“Wolf is the Grand Teacher. Wolf is the sage, who after many winters upon the sacred path and seeking the ways of wisdom, returns to share new knowledge with the tribe. Wolf is both the radical and the traditional in the same breath. When the Wolf walks by you – you will remember.” Robert Ghost Wolf

Quartet in Moonlight~ Tracking Wisdom Around the Wheel

Quinn Blackburn

Bethel Park, United States

  • Artist

Artist's Description

Each Who Sings Now? poem I have written is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a tree, star, animal, stone, etc. from which we can learn so many priceless lessons… if we only take the time to listen. Many people enjoy trying to guess which Teacher inspired the poem before going on to read about them in detail.

This piece was the first in which the Singers insisted on appearing together. Four closely related Creature Teachers sing together in this piece. The article following the complete poem refers to the first Singer…

One uilleann voice lifts above the chorus,
Complex, full-throated …
Wisdom winding toward us…

“I will Teach you to
Sift the Winds for secrets,
to Trust your senses,
to Go Within on stalker’s feet, and
Hunt down your worst enemy
within the darkness of your Soul!

At every Corner I await you…
Singing of Lessons unending
Noble Death
Balance between Self…
and Duty…

Walk in Beauty!

Follow the trail of the Relentless Hunter,
for no path may be hidden from My hunger!"

Can you guess who is singing?

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