Tag Archives: hawk

Gift of Deer Spirit

20 Dec

Please note: these pictures may upset you. I hope not.

Two days ago I had a phone call from daughter. “Can you come over her. I have a present for you.” I couldn’t go right then but she brought it home that evening. Triple wrapped in plastic bags and stuffed in a brown poke. She is an O.T. and I know her patients love her. I know this because I see the notes they write and the gifts they bring. I watch her tear up telling me about a patient who walked. Not only walked, but walked across a stage to accept a graduation diploma when no one thought she would ever walk again.

But the brown poke. Held a freshly skinned deer hide. For me. From a patient of hers. A deer hide and rack. I have skinned and dried timber rattlers. Picked up an owl off a Texas highway and carried it to GA packed in salt. I have stopped on the road to remove a hawk–a hawk whose wing I carried with me for years. I have collected antlers from the woods in WV. I’ve even sold a few if truth be told. And one year our dogs carried home a coyote pelt. But it was too far gone to do anything with.

But I’ve never dressed out a deer skin. Today is the eve of winter solstice. The turning point. And spirit of deer sought me out. That’s what it feels like. I am honored. And almost clueless–feeling the huge responsibility of caretaking. The honoring of it–the blessings over–the offering of cornmeal–that I know, but I didn’t think I knew anything else. Googled. Skin can be immediately tanned, or cured and tanned later. I’m choosing the latter option.

So this morning before the sun came up, I spread the skin on the basement floor. Such a light spirit arose from it. The skin was still in need of scraping but areas of it that were clear of fascia and fat shone with a silver brillance. It glowed in fact. I don’t have a buck knife or a draw knife or anything close to what I needed so I grabbed a hacksaw and started scraping. And once I got into it, it seemed like something I had done before. Many times. Removed fat. Removed fascia. It was slow going. At first I wore gloves but they got in my way so I ended up just diving into the pelt, barehanded. I rubbed in salt. deer skin Lots of salt.

I stroked the fur. Talked to the deer spirit.deer fur Thanked it. And just as I was finishing, Hawk began chanting high overhead. Many calls. Many many calls. And the calls affirmed that all was well.


Then, what to do with the scraped remains. Could not put in the garbage. Remembered that Sunday evening I will be going to a day-after solstice celebration. We will be burying a gift of many things into Mother Earth. This is what I will give to the earth.deer fat

Today I’m going to sit with the spirit of deer. Hawk I understand and am familiar with. But this is new to me–deer is new to me–and what’s coming through right now is a sense of gentling.

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