Sunday, December 13, 2009

Red-Tailed Hawk

art by Daniel McQuestion

Would you like to hear a magical story that shows the oneness of dreaming and waking? We're at the point in the plot where things look bleak, and we're wondering how life, under these conditions, could possibly turn out all right, even though we have faith that it will.

On December 11, I had this lucid dream, which starts out non-lucid:

I am driving down a stretch of road in the East Bay hills. I see a van beside my vehicle. I am looking up into the sky watching a red-tailed hawk soar overhead. The van next to me does not see the hawk, so I point it out to them, and they, too, begin tracking the movements of the raptor.

I'm on foot now, walking through the golden grass. The hawk circles us curiously. It comes closer and closer, and eventually swoops right over me. I feel such awe toward this bird. The next thing I know, it flies up behind me and lands on my shoulder. I see the hawk perched there in the shadow we cast in front of us. It is beautiful.

Then I wake up and realize I'd been dreaming. I really want to get back to this scene, so I do a sort of forward roll of consciousness back into the dream. It works, and now I am lucid. The landscape is the same, but the van next to me has changed:

It is now bright orange, and the man inside looks strange to me. Something about him is off. He's slightly pudgy with dark hair and pasty, olive skin. He wears round, wire-rimmed glasses. I ask, "Who do you represent?" He says, "I am the nuclear waste that can destroy everything." I say, "Who does the hawk represent?" He comes back with a nonsense answer, "a doo-hicky mixed with a bag of hammers." I understand from this that he knows only about himself and not about any of the life around him. Therefore, he can answer questions only about himself. [I want to ask him more questions, like "what does your spirit need for healing?"] But the dream transitions into something else.

Then last night, in waking life, I attended a party where I met a lovely young couple, Scott and Kenda. I overheard Scott explaining some of the details of being an environmental lawyer. I felt grateful for his hard work and devotion to caring for our land, and I suddenly felt compelled to share the Lucid Dream Conservation Project with him and Kenda. Both expressed interest, and Scott wanted to tell me about his specific work so that I can include it in the dreaming.

Scott, it turns out, works at an office called Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment). He went on to tell me that nuclear weapons are manufactured either at Lawrence Livermore Lab here in the East Bay, California, or at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico. Scott says the Lawrence Livermore Lab recruits bright young scientists who don't always understand the implications of their research. Meanwhile, Livermore's groundwater has high levels of Tritium and other radioactive materials (the wineries here do not test their grapes for these isotopes), its population has high incidences of brain cancer (think Erin Brockovich), and a biohazard clean-up crew had to come remove trees from Livermore because they had such profound levels of radioactivity. Yes, radioactive trees, right here in Livermore.

Then, he handed me his business card. And guess what the logo is. Yep, it's a red-tailed hawk.

Scott and I went on to talk about how the place we call Livermore today was once an important trading center for the Ohlone. Twenty miles north of the lab (walking distance for these migratory tribes), stands Brushy Peak, a burial ground for the ancestors of this land. Just a stone's throw away, we can see another of the area's sacred places--Vasco Caves, which contain 9,000 year-old human remains and the cave paintings of its ancient inhabitants. Mt. Diablo lies just west of Lawrence Livermore Lab, as do Black Diamond Mines, where we have relatively recently pillaged the Earth's coal for profit. I feel it's no coincidence that this important center for Native ritual and trade now houses one of the most toxic laboratories on the planet. Such places of concentrated energy reflect the prevailing values of a given era. Lawrence Livermore Lab speaks of how far we've swung away from nature. We are leaving nuclear waste for our progeny to deal with. So we, the forebears, must start dreaming up some solutions.


  1. Erin, this is absolutely wonderful! Thank you for your dreaming!!! Thank you for your vision.
    And I thank Scott for his work as well.
    Peace, chica.

  2. pa-keewww (the sound of my mind being blown)

  3. Truly a beautiful story. So happy to have been part of it. I hope we continue this connection. Your work inspires.


  4. What a wild story. Thank you for opening your consciousness to this amazing gift you hold. It was a great pleasure meeting you and your family.

  5. Beautiful story....the morning of the 12th, a young hawk sat on a branch in our backyard tree for an hour or more.

  6. Thanks, everyone, for helping to hold the dream by witnessing it and participating in your own ways. :) Robert, you even had a visit from the hawk! I love community dreaming; it often happens when we're awake.