Tracks of huge pride of lions cut off a beautiful white sandy road onto a game path.
Here the pride walks in single file laying a perfect trail.
The path opens into a small clearing next to the crusted mud of a dried up waterhole.
Next to a huge termite mound with a giant brown ivory growing out of it the tracks tell the story of a giant lion love ball. They have lain down here… lying up against each other…..cubs climbing on mothers heads and biting each other's ears. The flat grass and imprints of tails tell me that they slept here some time yesterday afternoon.
They probably moved as the sun went down so they have a whole night ahead of me.
I was not planning on tracking but this is life in the wild. This is life as a tracker you must let yourself create with the moment.
It’s a large pride and to a tracker this magnetism is too strong.
I walk a half circle around where they lay to find the direction they set off on …… quickly I am onto their trail as they head into a deep thicket.
Through the night a herd of elephants have moved through the area covering over many of the tracks.
Then a herd of zebras followed the elephants cutting the hard ground on top of where lions padded past.
Quickly the majority of the tracks are gone.
This can be very common in tracking. You can go from this is going to be easy to this is impossible in a few steps. Like life. Like any time you set out on a new path.
Now I must follow as a shadow tracker…..to follow these lions I must become a student of vagaries, a follower of faint impulses and weak imprints…..i must drift through the terrain every reactive… ever alert…..moving on invisible lines that those tawny creators may have taken through the thick terrain. Anticipating
If I want to see each track or be sure I'm on their trail I will make myself crazy.
Here quite suddenly the need for certainty is an impediment.
The shadow trackers energy is that of drifting….as if in a world between worlds…..noticing…..moving with attention…..but with the world in a soft focus around you.
Somehow letting go of thinking about how lions move and being empty enough to move like a lion.
It is a lost kind of attention in modern life.
It’s the skill of riding a tide like a jellyfish.
Or catching a thermal like a migrating bird……it’s the skill of being in the right place to be shown and taken.
I tell you this now awakeners because that unexpected lion trail was teaching me how to follow the trail of my own shadow.
The shadow is the part of you that has never been allowed. It's your dark twin, a narcissistic, bad, even evil part of you that got stuffed away so you could belong.
It's your most unsocialized primal desires. There is biting and talking without asking.
It’s the back side of years of being good to get a cookie.
But your shadow denied will run parts of you with unconscious force until you can meet it as a friend. I say this now cause we are in the time of shadow….and we must work in ourselves to work in the world.
Your shadow given a seat at the fire becomes more self….. strong boundaries, unfuckwithable personal power. a person with a well integrated shadow is not interested in being nice or liked they are interested in being true.
There is a grace to a person who has found the dark in themselves. A compassion that can look at a tyrant or a weakling and know that is in me too. But strangely a person who has met their shadow stands up to tyrants and is able to ask for help where they are weak
Shadow tracking… is for if you want to get to know yourself more deeply.
It will liberate so much primal energy if you get to know that dark part of yourself.
To find the shadow you must give up certainty and need to know it and drift with an open awareness.
Notice the people who make you most mad and uncomfortable. They are holding your shadow.
Pay attention to your restments.
See what you fantasise about.
Notice where you are compulsive.
That which we repress bursts out at strange times or runs our lives without us knowing.
Do not try to understand the shadow. Do not try to identify it outright. Not like a shadow tracker drift in the half land where it lives. Become aware of it.
Ask yourself……that person I can't bear why ?……they are narcissistic, loud, self centred. What are they holding so you don’t have to.
That’s the part of you that is repressed.
Ask that resentment…… resentment what are you asking for?
Rage what do you want. ?
Disgust what you need?
Let the answers be truly uncensored and ugly.
As you drift towards the guarded outlines of your shadow with this soft eyed attention you will find themes.
You may be annoyed at someone who always puts themselves first cause you never do. Until you explode and leave so you can do what you want.
You will get to know what your anger is asking for.
You will come to understand how your patheticness is a place where you couldn’t get the help you needed so you acted like you never needed anything.
Oh shadow tracking is not an exact science it’s a kind of background attention on actions and intentions and thoughts and reactions.
Maybe you just had a conversations with your boss….or your partner…….you find yourself after the account running an enraged conversation in your head with them…..about how they don’t fucking get it.
Ask that voice what it needs, what it wants, why it's mad…..that's shadow tracking.
Your shadow integrated becomes more presence in which you can show up with no need to be liked. It’s a power through self knowledge and understanding of the truth of you.
It’s the part of you that tells someone clearly what they are not getting in the moment with no fear.
Work is the shadow is to balance yourself in real goodness. The awareness of what lives in you and the choice in how to consciously be with that all.
I exit the thick terraine after about thirty minutes of shadow tracking…..below me is a dry river bed where thick riversand covers the ground….i use the sand to cut back onto the tracks….the entire pride crossing the dry water course and suddenly I am back on their trail with absolute clarity. Now I follow the imprint of toes and lobed pads across beautiful terrain.
I follow at pace the energy of the shadow tracker is gone. I move with purpose and clarity.
Alone for miles in any direction.
In the beautiful clear light of the morning.
In a ravine I hear the lions growling. These are the sounds of feeding. The lions have killed a kudu
The pride feeds with brutal intensity. Biting and clawing at each other as they ingest chunks of bloody meat. I watch through binoculars from a distance the savagery of the feeding each man must fight for its place at the kill.
After they feed quit suddenly all aggression is gone. They lie around and groom each other with gentle care totally in tune with the full range of being a lion.
Every day the wild is my teacher.
It takes me on adventures. It takes me inward.
Slowly I walk back to my land rover watching my shadow beside me
Boyd Varty Sacred Sites
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