A Visualization to Blow Your Mind!: Big Thanks to the Diné People!
By Kathleen Dunbar
I came upon this extraordinary piece of "medicine" in Joseph Campbell's Hero With A Thousand Faces. This "poem" is an utter gem from a longer healing work of the Diné (Navajo) People. I began to use it as part of my spiritual practice. I'd do my usual going inside into a meditative state while listening to music (I am, after all, a musician, and music is a main vehicle for me to meditate). And then I'd ever-so-slowly inwardly repeat the medicine poem. From the first time I've done this, I've always had extraordinary experiences—profound expansion, groundedness, peace, awe at life, delight, love.
I began applying my experience to an offering for the clients in my practice. When a client expresses a longing for a greater experience of Self, a transpersonal thirst, an awakening of personal and universal truth, I suggest an experiment: "I have an idea! How about a visualization! It's based on a poem from the Diné people. First I'll introduce you to one of the words they use, so you can bring your own experience to it. Then I'll recite the poem several times and you can see where it takes you!"
With the client's agreement, I send them inside to their best poem-listening-to place. First I invoke their response to the word "pollen" as the Diné use it:
I begin, "In this poem the Diné use the word ‘pollen.' For them, pollen isn't the make-you-sneeze stuff. For them, pollen is the life source, and the pollen path is the path to the center. Pollen for them is corn pollen, and it has a very sacred story. Let yourself imagine a field of corn, tended by the people of the village. The story of corn is amazing—Corn is one plant that needs human hands to help it grow. In fact, corn will die without humans to help it. If a corn cob falls into a field the kernels cannot make it through the husk to resprout—they need to be taken by human hands and planted. The Diné people see the growing of corn as a pact between the human and the divine. The source of life shows up in the corn, but it must be tended to by human hands in order to be used . . .
. . . So it's this amazing real meeting place between divine and human, oneness and diversity, the sublime extraordinary and the magnificent ordinary. It's the story of the connection of infinite and finite. It's the sacred dance of oneness and duality. For the Diné, the life source gives the people the food to feed them, and the people receive it and use their hands and wisdom to plant and harvest. But it's much more than that—it's the story of the creation and life of all things, and the partnership that makes it possible. The symbol of this partnership is the pollen of the corn, where it all happens. The Diné always save the corn pollen and use it in ceremony . . .
. . . Let yourself see the people of the village gathering the corn pollen, and how in their hands they are gathering the meeting of the divine and the human. They are celebrating a sacred event where life force manifests its connection with the earthly. The divine and the human come together, not only to feed the people of the village, but to nourish their spirits with the great sacred story of life.
So that is a little of what the word pollen signifies in this medicine poem. And now let yourself feel into that word pollen, and feel into the experiences from your own life that resonate—how you are longing for that sacred dance, or the times in your life that you have experienced the meeting of the two, and the sacred story. And like all good stories, let it be beyond your mind to understand, let the understanding come from your heart."
Then I invite the client to take a few deep breaths, settle into their chair, and give me a nod when they are ready. I then, really slowly, recite the poem several times . . . and wait.
Put your feet down with pollen.
Put your hands down with pollen.
Put your head down with pollen.
Then your feet are pollen;
your hands are pollen;
your body is pollen;
your mind is pollen;
your voice is pollen.
The trail is beautiful.
I am always astonished at the response this poem evokes! Clients experience a profound, grounding, uplifting, expanding access to the Self connected to the Web of Life. It is always extraordinary and lasting—something we often refer to in future sessions. For one client it was a deep turning point in the therapy.
As a variation, after I speak about the pollen, I put on some trippy music, let the client listen for a while, and begin to repeat the poem several times as the music continues, letting the effects of the poem and the music take the listener on a journey.
Of course I am giving only a very abbreviated version of what pollen holds for the Diné, and their great sacred story. You can go online to find out more resources. I thank the Diné and their medicine people for their wisdom and generosity in gifting us with these sacred words.