Speaking with Nature: Awakening to the Deep Wisdom of the Earth - Sandra Ingerman, Llyn Roberts 2015
Glacial Silt - Llyn
Glacial Silt and Sand
Imagine resting on a large rock at the bank of a surging river. The stone upon which you sit is cold and damp from river spray and mist. A chill bites your fingers and frosty vapors moisten your face. Everything in this verdant pocket whispers “water,” including the towering trees that drip with moss and disperse tons of water every day.
As you watch the river flow, tiny vortices materialize in the water, then disappear. Continuously changing tree shadows glide on the river’s smooth surface. Its milky sheen continuously morphs from jade to pale aqua. The hazy tint offers a clear indication that glacial peaks feed these fluvial depths.
What you just experienced is part of daily life for me, as I live in a glacial valley in the farthest northwest corner of the United States. The turquoise beauty of the Hoh River drew me to this glacial range rising up from the world’s largest temperate rain forest. I learn new things about glaciers, and Silt, every day.
Through thousands of years of slow procession, mountains of ice and snow grind rocky sedimentary layers of earth into clay and fine sand. The heavier fragments settle, but the lighter stone particles either become airborne or travel down the mountain with the glacial melt. Also known as “Glacial Flour,” “Rock Flour,” or “Stone Dust,” the Silt bonds with ice crystals in the frigid waters, giving the river its opaque tint.
I drink glacial waters piped in from an underground spring to my cabin. Not a day passes without my appreciating the nourishing minerals that flow down from the snow-laden peaks.
The world’s glaciers are melting faster than they have in centuries. The outpouring from these ice mountains into our waterways has an impact on animal patterns and plant habitat and can initiate climate change. Increased glacial melting warns us to shift how we live on this planet.
Yet nature has its wisdom. Just as drinking mineralized water can benefit human life, scientists tell us that the influx of glacial melt has some cleansing effects for our oceans. Glacial Silt is an amazingly rich restorer of life.
As I reflect on this humble dust ground from stone, I think of the many indigenous groups that use stones in ancient healing rituals. Healers from diverse cultures transmit energy from the earth through stones. In a healing ceremony a shaman may rest stones on the body of his or her client, rub them with vigor against the person’s skin, or even click two rocks together in different areas around and near the body. However, it’s not necessary to have the stones physically present for people to benefit, as their energy can be felt from a distance. Shamans believe a stone’s spirit imbues the person needing healing with strength and power.
Shamans work in different ways. In the Andes shamans pray and make offerings to the spirits of volcanic mountains that loom across their valley. A shaman may ask a revered rock to help a neighbor get well. Or a healer may “shapeshift” into (embody the energy of) a sacred mountain during a cleansing to transmit its spiritual force to a person who is ill. In this instance the healer may blow through cupped hands into the heart area, then at the forehead, then over the person’s crown at the top of the head. The shaman’s breath infuses the client with the mountain’s positive force.
People who undergo such rituals claim they feel stronger. I have seen many become healed of physical and emotional disease.
Because I drink glacial waters and muse by glacial streams and Rock Flour beds, I am connected with the spirit of these ancient lands and waters. Yet just as the healing force of stones is transmitted through time and space, this softer stone of Silt, which derives from land that’s tens of thousands of years old, can benefit us even if we are a world away. We can meditate on Stone Dust for strength, to feel healed by the earth. We can ask the spirit of Glacial Silt and the stones of our own lands for help. We can ask good energy to extend to animals, people, and environments beyond us, just as shamans do with revered rocks and volcanoes.
The particles formed by glacial ice grinding against sedimentary rock are powdery soft, not solid and hard. Unlike the large boulders that water flows over or around, smooth Silt offers no resistance; it surges effortlessly with the river.
This easy flow is a good reminder for us to also stay fluid, to glide with life’s currents. But the most intriguing things we learn from Silt are its sacred feminine teachings about power.
Glacial Silt, soft and yielding, has a delicate power, but in glacial pools and rivers, you can’t see the fine stone, only a milky tint. Similarly, our strength of spirit may be subtle or concealed.
I witnessed an example of a power that’s refined and mysterious like Silt at a recent gathering. During our short time together, one person in the circle dominated the exchange, leaving little room for anyone else to speak. We’ve all experienced such situations and may also recall times that we ourselves have felt insecure and demanded this kind of attention. In such a situation we lose power, rather than gaining it. But Silt has a quiet power. In this instance a tranquil young woman sat next to the person doing all the talking. I sensed an aura about her; her eyes were warm and wise. When she eventually spoke her words were few, yet they were heartfelt and strong. I later learned I wasn’t the only one moved by this woman’s gentle manner.
It’s probably not difficult to think of someone who is subdued and sincere. This person likely stays out of the limelight and doesn’t force personal views. Similarly, Silt stone affirms that power doesn’t have to be bold or showy; we can make a large impact without uttering a word.
Once, after sitting with Silt for weeks to learn more about its—and my own—subtle power, Silt spoke to me. It was not the complex teaching I’d been waiting for, but a modest statement:
“I am what I am,” said Silt.
“And what is that?” I asked the milky, swirling stone.
Glacial Silt responded, “I am, of course, the physical and spiritual force of stone that flows with water.”
I sensed an invitation from Silt to drop the need to be anything but me. I tried to empty myself in the next few minutes and relax.
“Who am I if I completely let go?” I wondered.
The question initially made my mind wild. I was fighting letting go.
I brought my attention back to the river. The swiftly moving water gurgled loudly, and over time the sounds absorbed me. I relaxed and then I knew.
“I am the same. I am the physical and spiritual force of a human—the water I flow with is life.”
Energy seemed to rise up through my body in a gentle wave.
“Am I feeling Silt’s power?”
I was feeling my power.
Just as the reserved girl and the shaman’s stones emanate energy, when we rest with who we are, we generate palpable force. Contrary to what many think and teach, we don’t have to act in special ways or do, or be, anything but who we really are to attain this.
“Is our power always there?” I asked Silt.
I watched the hazy aqua colors—which I know to be Silt—coalesce in the water and then release in chaotic and unpredictable patterns. Silt’s movement was freshly choreographed each moment by the river’s ever-changing course. The Glacial Silt was inseparable from the water that swept it along.
Like Silt tossed by the river’s currents, we each experience chaos. Every one of us knows times when everything appears inside out or upside down and nothing seems right. At these times we may feel lost, as if we never had intrinsic strength or power. Or we may feel drained of our power, not connected to our subtle spiritual force.
Silt, though indiscernible, is steadfastly one with the water. Just so is our power always there.
There are times when we feel resilient, and then again some of us hide from power. Silt tells us there is nothing to fear in being who we are or in being powerful.
Glacial Silt is a good ally. She helps us nurture quiet fortitude and spiritual strength. She teaches that we can be gentle, soft, and strong—all at the same time.
Whether in the Olympic Mountains of the Pacific Northwest, the Andes, the Alps, or anywhere else on this planet, Glacial Silt is a unique alchemy of land, ice, and water.
The earthy flecks discharged by glacial rubbing are ancient, of an entirely different ecosystem from today’s world. Likewise, the pristine waters melt from glacial giants formed close to seventy thousand years ago. The turquoise colors are in the water, not a reflection of the color of the sky.
Once when I was standing by the Hoh River with an old timer born and raised in this area, the wizened man said, “The sky was bluer back then. The glaciers hold that color. It’s the blue of a sky from 65,000 years ago that yer lookin’ at in these waters.”
I remember when I grasped that these waters secretly disperse Silt throughout the entire Hoh River Valley system. The Silt not only flows with meltwater, as I first assumed. Its minerals infiltrate the land, cruising for miles through underground streams and rivers, trickling up delicate root systems, rising up the trunks and branches of trees, and dispersing water into the air through their leaves.
Silt is also spread far and wide through the scat and body remains of animals that consume silt-rich waters and plants and then travel on.
All that live in this valley thrive on the mineral-rich water of Silt.
I saw Glacial Silt for what it is: a delicate, invisible, prolific giver of life. Here in the Hoh Valley in the Olympic Mountains, that life includes the largest elk as well as the largest variety of large trees in the world, such as western red cedar, sitka spruce, and douglas fir.
The feminine wisdom teaching of Glacial Silt is to be who we truly are. It invites a soft, intangible presence that humbly offers a multitude of blessings.
We can open to the feminine qualities of Glacial Silt by meditating on it and on the insights shared in the writings above. We can also connect with, and learn from, the gentle, discreet powers of nature where we each live.
For instance, nutrients and minerals are the hidden gentle forces that enrich trees. Root systems, which begin humbly as tender shoots, are the unseen strength supporting trees and gripping the soil so it won’t wash away. These elements, combined with the spirit of the tree, manifest a subtle and silent power.
If weather permits, take some quiet time outdoors by your favorite tree on your land, in a nearby park, or in your backyard. If you must stay inside, sit by a window or near an indoor plant or relax and envision a tree.
Sit or lie on the earth by the tree on a natural fiber blanket, or imagine being there. In either case simply be with this nature being.
Let your mind settle. Allow yourself to feel looser and more relaxed with each breath. Invite calm feelings.
When you feel peaceful and centered, tune in to the tree and its surroundings.
Observe everything around you. What natural sounds do you hear? What do you see? What natural scents do you sniff and what sensations arise in your body as you smell these?
What do you notice? What do you feel as you sit or lie by this tree?
Take time to immerse yourself in your senses. Settle fully into each moment.
When you feel ready, look at and appreciate the tree, just as you opened to its environment. Look as this tree as if for the first time.
Take all the time you like recognizing how beautiful this tree is—the trunk and bark, leaves and branches, and its many details.
Next, think on the inner forces that nurture this tree. As you contemplate these, try to sense or feel the tree’s hidden power. Detect its gentle invisible force.
How does this feel? How do you recognize it?
Take all the time you like in making the invisible palpable. Close your eyes if it helps to focus. When you clearly sense the tree’s subtle hidden force, take a few refreshing breaths.
Now, tune in to the hidden gentle power in yourself.
As nutrients and Silt enrich trees and lands, and as the spirit of the tree radiates from its essence, imagine this same energy within you.
Take time to get to know your own elusive but ever-present force.
What is this like?
As you focus, see if you can detect an inner glow. You may note a warm feeling in your body that rises and radiates out to every part of you, including your hands and feet. Or notice however you experience this subtle spiritual force. Concentrate.
What do you feel? Do you discern a presence in or around you?
What catches your attention?
Take all the time you like. Allow and invite the feelings of your subtle power to grow.
This creative strength is always with you. It is who you are. Yet your invisible power is easier to feel when you slow down and tune in, taking the time to focus on it.
Don’t be afraid to open to that fluid, resilient place, drop facades, and be who you are. There is nothing to do and nothing to be. You are the physical and spiritual force of a human. Feel the river of life that flows through you. That gentle potency is you.
Is this familiar? When have you felt it before?
Take all the time you like feeling your own and the tree’s soft and strong power. Then thank the tree or plant in whatever words feel right.
If you practice this way regularly, over time the hidden forces of nature and your own spiritual nature will be accessible. It will feel natural. Bring the experience of your subtle power to moments in your daily life, such as when you’re in the grocery store, at a business meeting, in a restaurant, or outside walking. Also try to sense it in others; feel it with your spiritual antennae and look for it in their eyes.
Notice when you feel lost to your subtle inner strength. This may be when you feel afraid, sad, angry, or confused. Remember to take some gentle breaths at these times. Let your muscles soften, if only just a bit. Reflect on the subtle strength of Silt to help revive your own strength. Go deeply into those enriching turquoise waters.
If you still can’t feel your spiritual power, just be with that. Trust that the force is present amidst the chaos, just as Glacial Silt is inseparable from turbulent waters. To be soft and strong sometimes means we just have to surrender and be with what is. It’s humbling to feel out of control—a feeling we all know. Yet Silt reminds us that no matter the turmoil, we never lose our true power; our invincible spirit is there. Just as Silt is invisible—one with the water—nothing can destroy our invisible force. We are that, now and always.
The Silt of mature water mineralizes the land, waters, animals, and us. This watering is the release of ancient consciousness—soil and ice from an entirely different ecosystem.
Likewise we humans are internally rich. If we nurture the tender spiritual strength hidden within, our power will ripen. As we find ways to share that strength, the waters that release now, and the spirits and the Earth, will channel their wisdom through us.