The Return


Ten Crows lives on the Southernmost tip of the Salish Sea, on Nisqually and Squaxin land, and works with water every day.  He practices the paths of Medicine Wheel, Reclaiming Circle and Crossroads.  Time not on the water or in the mountains is spent traveling back and forth between here and his family home on a reservation in South Dakota. He is a zen student and a cyclist, won’t stop talking about approaches to counter cultural appropriation, and dreams of successful interfaith magic.  He follows the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers.


The Return

 I walked into the woods knowing that I would become lost. I walked into the woods wanting nothing more than to become lost. And that red road there that carried me back and this white road here, carrying me to you, both born of generations of dreams and expectations were really never mine, were they? These dark woods of time are the last journey. In their vastness, I find myself, at last.

I was no Arthur. That’s what the bards would say. I didn’t sit the horse with the regalia that stories carried so vividly. I wasn’t the hero of anyone’s dreams. But a simple spearman, yes. A part of the tribe. And really, no one ever was that shining Angel of a knight that songs would sing of. And he would grow larger in story from their need, and from my need to compare. And I would creep along the lines of genetic trails through woods of love, and storms of war.

They came for us there on the shores of the Thames, the Saxons and the Angles. We bled and died and fled. We stayed and talked and drank. We made love to the moon’s call.

Again, and generations later, I would return in long boats from the land of Giants where I suckled at a Valkyries breast before diving back into a cold ocean of being again. My other self, tall, and rippling with the strength of the North Sea, stepped from long ships on to those same shores. There in Northumberland, I learned to love blood. And my earlier self fell and died and fled West again. My Northman’s axe and a British shield met, and merged.

Each time I rode out to do battle, each time as invader or invaded, I would feel the strength of life, the lust of battle, and after each sacrifice, the loss of the vanquished and desperation of the refugee. In those generations of generations, to the call of waves and hooves and drums, I would rejoice as the monster of a conqueror, and simultaneously feel the woe of the vanquished.

And there we learned to speak this language. This English tongue jumped forth from there to now, across time.

And in the Book of Invasions it was told where another shore lay, where another I stood tall, red haired and dripping with song and language. Ages would pass too, until again, I would die and flee as my former selves, Brits, Vikings, Pirates and Giants rode out against us, rolled over us and out upon the Emerald Isle.

And somewhere in between the poverty and the riches of plunder, the refugee and the conqueror, our ponies wove their song. The potatoes failed and we looked West again.

And finally we, entranced by the horses we lived with, learned to build tall ships to carry them and brought them home to here, to my other self, spirit horses singing the colonists to return them home, to these tribes and this red road, to a later homecoming and to this last battle. To the Big Horn mountains with the Oyate and across the reservation they came. To this moment that is in me, this microsecond of thought that calls for a deeper understanding, so attached to this sliver of now. I want to fall into those woods again, slip away from this ragged wind.

But my pony holds me still.


His name was Mickey. He was my third, green broke, rough.

At thirteen, I already felt confidently paired with him. What made us such adept horse people no one can really say. I think this, though: Somehow our spirit siblings had come back to us, and we, the Sioux, spread west and out until those hills and plains all empty, seemed full with only us. And two centuries later, in Mickey and my starkest moment, we would become one…

… for a time.

I’m looking at another ocean now. It’s a home of sorts on this side of my heart’s geography. Here at the shore is the Salish sea. And when I go to what my family calls the other side, East across the mountains, on that red road Mickey is still with me. And when I return West, back to these cold sea waters, the road turns white. My Northern blood and the Isles call again. It’s like that for me, Mickey coming and going, the sound of his hooves, the feel of his mane. He was chocolate and gray, Appaloosa coloring made dirty brown by some strange genetic trick. Remembering, I travel back and forth over the years. And my road turns between the two like a slowly turning kaleidoscope of color, red, white, click, red, white, click. The playing deck card clicks in the spokes of the bicycle wheel I moved onto after we’d parted, and the Norns wove, the clicking of their spindles never stopping. This keyboard clicking keeps pace too, sending me back.

I’m writing to you from the future. I’m casting these words to that place, the one where you’ll be thinking of these words as you meditate or breathe, or the futures where your children may be, repeating your version of these. This weird lens, or prism, of time is here in these woods of mine, and in your remembering. And that crystal coded language, there in your genetic and epigenetic structures, coddled by culture, laid across a matrices of sensations and feelings, is being sent into the future as well -with or without you.

I, like my warrior blood before me, like my martial teachers before me, am inviting you to step onto this mat of time, into the circle of dance, to bow to whatever lineage and spirit you need. Center your directions, calm the waves of past and future.

This is time magic.

Start with what most of us may recognize from cognitive therapies or energy work from our past. When I was a young man, I went into therapy to seek help to escape the destructiveness of my childhood demons. There I learned to talk, to tell a story, to look in and relive those events and lines of being that hurt so bad. And all of that was to somehow exercise it, get it out. But if that was a Freudian exercise, it seemed hurtful in the end. It seemed like I had opened scars and wounds again and again. Every day seemed like I was bleeding, walking around with open wounds. So I stopped. It was freeing to say the truth, but something more was needed.

It was at least a decade before I met my first cognitive practitioner. We are all packages of grown over scars, triggers, reactions to hurts and insults of the past. Now we know this goes back generations even, in our epigenetic codes. To not be overcome by those past traumas, we need to go back, yes. But we need to go back to ourselves being alive and strong – to the time before.

Here’s Mickey. He was the horse I’d felt like I earned completely. I’ve been privileged to live with three ponies in my youth. Mike, my first, had come to me on her own, she picked me like a mother finding an orphaned child. Prince, the second, silver gray speckled, he was given to me by my sister. But Mickey was when I began to learn about responsibility. Everything about me felt strong then. I worked for every local farmer I could in trade for hay. And every time Mickey threw me, I would bounce and dust myself off. We would get used to each other, I told myself. We were a pair. And in those days of farm fresh milk, haying, putting up corn, and riding, everything was in front of me.

Move towards back. When you’re working with the past, sit looking out from the center of your workspace (some will call this an alter, some will call this the center of the circle). This is important. Time is flowing past us. We spend our day moving forward, our minds are forward thinking. Forty percent of our brain is utilized processing these visual references. You need to be looking out from the center, or back, when you’re doing this work, because time is flowing that way and you need to be able to come back. This may not come to you right away. You may even disagree, but here’s the thing – You need to be able to come back to the center. The past is like the woods, and getting lost in the woods is like falling in love, you will find it hard, at times, to come back. Set yourself up for this work. So if you’re up for following my lead, face out from the center, or away from the alter. You may lay on your back with your head towards the center, or towards your workspace, or alter, and your feet outside and in the past.

In cognitive therapy you find those moments, those versions of you before the trauma, and you strengthen those. Moving into the past takes advantage of those anchor points. You already know this. It just takes some work to open dusty eyes. After this becomes a practice, you’ll be able to transport yourself there in an instance, and rely on all the life and health and strength that was yours then. It’s still there. It’s just like your hormones mark points with pain, except instead of being burnt into your memory by trauma, you’ll lay it in like muscle memory, or even snow. Then you’ll create a map, a time map, for yourself with those points.

This takes multiple sessions, rituals, or meditations. However you want to build this is up to you, but it takes time, even months, to build. Similar to building a memory palace, over time, you’ll learn so much more about yourself that even stopping there, with those points, is a wonderful achievement.

Some things to do to prepare.

Get yourself a lens, some type of magnifying glass or a piece out of a pair of broken glasses.
A shard too, has a focusing affect. This is just a tool to remind you why you’re going down this path – to see clearer.

Get a timepiece that makes some small amount of noise, a metronome, an old watch or ticktock clock. I used to have a flip number clock that looked like a digital but was actually mechanically flipping the numbers. Even a “hourglass” will work if you believe you can hear the sound of sand. Remember, this is all yours. This is to help you keep pace, and to return to that pace. In each moment you’re spending with the past, before you turn to return, you’ll match your pace to a safe movement model. This sounds vague, I know, but the point is, if moving in the past feels frightening at times, return to a pace that settles you into your parasympathetic system before you continue. More on that in a bit here, but know that these are aids. In time you’ll learn to do this with your breath and with your heartbeat, you may already. You get the principle. Own it. Get ready.

If you know the points in time already that you want to work with, collect items from then. These could be pictures, items, music. You’ll want enough to help spur memories, but not so much as to clutter your space to distraction or cause anxiety. Balance what you need with an additional eye for a safe place.

Now let’s talk about safety, and the sense of it.

Our mind and body’s autonomic system moves us between two states. There’s the relaxed and restful state, this is a regenerative powerful place called the parasympathetic. I always think of this as down. It’s a part of being grounded, yes. When I exhale, I get a sense of energy flowing down as my breath goes up and out. When you breathe out, going into this state, your exhales should always be longer than your inhales (for example, inhale on a 4 count, exhale on 7). The exhale is slowing your heartbeat, it’s releasing nitrous oxide in your body to relax and release pain. Your intentional self moves more freely from a parasympathetic state.

Know this too about your intentional self. The breath is a doorway between the thinking self and the autonomic. The autonomic is a part of us that goes on and on all by itself, unconscious breath after unconscious breath. Then with a thought, we can control it, breathing slower, faster, even holding our breaths to a panic. If you want to move between sympathetic and parasympathetic, do it with breath.

The sympathetic state is different. This is the fight or flight version of you. I know we all hate this, but this is what we were built for, right? Our bodies know how to get us away from danger. It’s built in and here it is. At times -yes, I’ve spent most of my life here – it will seem like all we want to do with the past is let this sympathetic state rule. Running away from our past is the natural thing. But a little bit of age reminds us we need to go back and retrieve ourselves.

So there’s these sympathetic and parasympathetic states. The first one can be associated with the inhale. If you inhale deep and quick, you’ll feel your heartbeat jump quickly. Exhale? Right. It slows down. Go to the parasympathetic with the exhale.

So practice breathing. Go through this slow.

After you’ve prepared your space, created a safe container and circle, breathe, calm your mind.

Meditate if you know how. I find that it usually takes about ten minutes before my mind settles down from it’s everyday banter.

Then, with yourself pointed back in the direction of time, let yourself drift back. You’re not here -not yet – to worry with any trauma (that’s why you picked your points in time ahead of time), so let yourself go back to a happy time. If you’re familiar with the procession of trance colors or with self hypnosis, use all that to travel back. Remember your friends, your family, remember your favorite foods. Were there any songs you jammed to? You know what to do. Let all those memories fill you up. Any smells, yeah, those too. In those days you were everything you were meant to be, happy. You sucked it all in like a sponge. Let it be. This is your wonderful life. What was the color of the sky? Were there animals around. Did the ground have a particular texture or feel? Where was water?

I remember the ground where Mickey and I would ride because I would regularly end up on it. I would jump on his bare back and try to get him pointed in the direction I’d decided for the two of us. Then he, after going along for a bit, would remember he was bigger and stronger than me and start to go his own way. When I objected, well, he knew what to do.

I had watched my older brothers and cousins breaking horses in a wooden fenced coral and, more than once, felt their pain. I would wince just watching them hit that fence after being thrown. So for me? I would take Mickey out in the biggest freshest disked field I could find and work with him there. The soil was soft where he threw me.

The flight was short, the landing soft enough. He would take a few hurried steps away from me and stop. I never knew why he stopped. There were no fences. We’d just be there, me sitting at first, looking at each other.

I’d get up, brush myself off then begin to talk to him in a soothing voice. “We’ll get through this, I know.”

After a bit, he’d let me walk up, jump up, and we’d do it all over. After all these years I still don’t know why he waited for me. Never left. The ground, though? I knew all about why I picked those fields.

Connecting with your past unhurt selves will strengthen you over time, yes. Some will even say that your building a habit of remembering, one that isn’t ruminating on past pains, is good. That too. It can help you see the half full part easier. The lens I talked about earlier may get filled with happier, clearer things. With this as a practice all things get better -all that over time. Yes. Yes. Yes. That could even be enough.

But I believe that each moment is pregnant with possibility. What do those pregnant moments look like when you look back at them?

The tracks of the paths we’ve taken in our lives are only one possibility in a infinite number of moments pregnant with even more branching infinite paths. We can learn radical acceptance of the path behind us. Yes, and all this helps. We can also tap into that singular strength of life that exists in those micro slices of time that are the birth places of all those branching paths. Our teachers and guides and gods are there, our motivations and intents too. More importantly, all of the health and vitality we’d thought taken away remains there, only waiting for us to remember.

I can think of the tracks of the paths that Mickey and I made out on the freshly tilled fields and see the story of us. They meander around, sometimes wandering apart, sometimes leaving big craters. But they are only one time-line.

Now we’re getting deeper into the time part. Maybe make a cupa and come back. This can take a bit of thinking.


Heard of Schrodinger’s cat? 1935 and young Erwin (of the Schrodingers) is trying to describe a quantum problem brought about by random subatomic events. It goes like this: there’s a cat in a box. You know that. But you don’t know if it’s alive or dead. You can’t open the box. You can’t know with certainty. In this state of unknowing (much like us unknowing the value of our own lives) the cat has to be considered both simultaneously alive and dead. Want to know what he called that? Entanglement.

Another way of looking at this (and at those tracks in the soil) is in terms of a probability cloud. This too comes at us from the realm of quantum thinking and atomic science. It’s like this. We can never know, or measure, where a particular particle (lets say an electron) is at any given moment. Even trying to see changes the trajectories. We know it’s there somewhere because of the energy state. But the best we can do is predict a region of space. This grouping of possibilities, this probability cloud, is like the probability cloud of those pregnant moments I talked about earlier. It’s all those possible tracks that may have been left on that field. When that field was fresh Mickey and I could have filled it with any number of paths, and at each step in the path there were other branches that could have emerged. If you like story, then you know exactly what this is. I’m talking about physics yes, but also story-lines or time-lines, and they culminate in us, and emanate from us, in a glorious thing we call now.

Story is how we track time. Time-lines of happier selves, of different possibilities spring out into their own universes. When people talk about the multiverse, they’re ultimately talking about all the universes that sprung out from the big bang and emerged, parallel and diverging, in this huge fractal blooming glorious thing. And there are universes out there with happier, healthier versions of you. Yes, some of them dodged the traumas.

The strength of health, life and growth that they carried forward with them is still available to you in their time-lines.

From here, in your present.


Those time-lines converge in time, when you look back, at those moments of happiness and strength that we’ve been dealing with so far. From there, looking forward, they diverge and move away from you.

Here’s the next piece. You do this after you’ve built strong anchor points. Remember you’ll need those to come back.

When you’re ready prepare another session. Take time arranging your home and life to be as strong and supporting as possible. This is the part that will seem the forest that we’re going into. Being lost doesn’t mean being panicked, so go about this like a experienced traveler. Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.

Sit or Lie, breathe, call your aids, trust your god or gods. Go back again to those points. Take time to play in that space. What did laughter feel like?

Now. Do you know the direction of an upcoming sad time, of a traumatic event. That’s all you need to know. In your mind turn towards it, but don’t move that way. In your turning, trust your guides and know that at every instance you can go back to playing. You are safe. imagine the spiraling time-lines that are flowing out from your center. They are there don’t worry. They are all the things that could happen next.

Breathe into the stream of probability that has helped you arrive here. Then breath into all the streams. Sit with them, breathe in and out. Focus on that breath of those beings. Focus. You are slipping into the time stream here and allowing your neuronal self to rebuild and reclaim itself, and here you’ll receive any aid you need from your guides or gods.

If seeing them seems hard, remember to breathe. Remember that they are moving in and out with every breath. Oxygen is flowing into you in a rush of tumbled uncertainties and carbon dioxide is flowing out to mix in unknowable combinations of air all around you. Still more so, and if the time-lines don’t emerge, you need to slip into the microseconds flowing by.

Look, a thought takes about 12-14 seconds to occur. They are simply too big of a boat to do this traveling. The time-lines can be bundled there, but not in a credible way. That’s why this takes the meditative discipline you need to let the thoughts go. Let the preconceptions that come along with thinking about it go. Slip deeper, faster. From those vantage points in time, imagine a enduring happiness.

We experience time in two states. One is very focused. This is like when you’re writing a letter or email and you think a half an hour has passed, but in actuality it was 3 hours. The other is when your attention goes really soft. Soft is the attention of the hunter or forager. It’s the state of the Aikido master on the mat letting everything in. Your sense of the world feels like 360 degrees and the world is cracking open. This is when if feels like an eternity has passed, but it’s actually only been a few seconds. Seen the matrix? This is bullet time. This soft awareness can get scary when you notice time. It’s flowing like a roaring river.

Here’s a tool to help. To slip into soft focus look at the horizon.   Make a note here and take it back to your earlier work too, because you may need to remember where those horizons are at in your anchor points. They will be important tools, so know where to look. When you feel stuck in time, look at the horizon.

So, back in those turning moments, wrapped in play and turning towards the future of a hurt, back there, look at the horizon and breath. Watch for the time-lines springing out. From here you could step forward, or not. You could go to the left, or to the right. Each of these are a time-line. And each becomes available again at each microsecond. The steps not taken spring out away from you into a parallel universe of their own..

All you have to do here is see them. You could even stop here and come back later. Just see them. See the possibilities of a world without the hurt.

When you’re ready, thank the web of time-lines, appreciate what you’ve been able to see and do so far. This is a lot. Say goodbye to the past. Coming back may require thinking about numbers, about dates, about colors in your current kitchen. Coming back may take breath work that sinks you into a focus on what you’ve learned. Whatever you need to do to flow back, take your time and bring something back with you. Yes, this is only a suggestion, but you can bring a reminder, leave something in your mind, to remember what you’re learning. If you feel stuck look at the horizon.

Moving forward, at safe points take some time to look back. See the time streams. Stop in microseconds and see the streams moving forward too, into clouds of uncertainty. Mark the healthy streams. Remember those too. Remember you, healthy.

Remember to breathe deeply to stay grounded and return to a parasympathetic state after points where this may get you stirred up. If you need to, if things are moving too fast, focus on the lens. It will slow down time and decrease the volume of the sound you might feel rushing past your spirit.

Shift to focus and remember to breathe slowly. Then reorient and move.

Move past the trauma. No. Time-jump past it. Do it in a microsecond, something less than the blink of an eye. Spend time imagining this. No need to work on it like the anchor points. These places in the probability cloud will, by nature, seem incomplete and dreamlike. That because they’re not your base time-line. Every time you come back to them they may be different. But here’s the thing. Sink into that shifted version of yourself and breath deep and strong. Know what it was like to have lived past that point without the trauma, what would you do? How would you respond to the different joys and challenges? This you is out there somewhere. Remember that. Spend some time here.

When it’s time to come out. listen to your metronome. Return to your anchor. Then come back.

In days to come, We’ll move past just going back and seeing the time-lines (the possibilities). We’ll identify more than one that we can resonate with and we’ll use them to move forward readily in time, past trauma. Then we’ll take the energy and strength that is in those time-lines and weave them together. We’ll weave ourselves back together from the energies of all our other selves. That will happen on the final road back from the past.


Mickey died, you know. But short of what might have been, his death was hard one. I was there helpless in the bullet time that violence can take us into too. There really was a rifle and a bullet, and there was a fence between he and I. I could not save him. No matter how much I work with it, I’ll never be able to go back and change any of those trajectories, nor the echo of the gun cracking my heart. But I can weave a healthy strong path from all of those other universes that could have been. I start by remembering he and I in the field. I remember the feel of the air and earth, the sound of my soothing voice, and still wondering why he wouldn’t leave me.

The winter after Mickey died, my sister and I got a phone call in the middle of a dark icy night. The cloud’s hung over the world that night, casting darkness upon the central Minnesota snow.

“You’re horses are out!” a neighbor had said. Keep in mind, in those places your closest neighbor might be a half a mile away.

We had three other horses remaining. So we bundled up. I can’t begin to describe how much bundling a deep North winter takes, but the effort, and the resultant limits on movement that goes along with it can seem to slow everything down. Outside, the sharp subzero pain on your face and your breath in the air mix over a moonscape lit only by the snow. From the house to the road was past a long field. Then we turned towards our neighbors and walked with bridles and ropes held by thick gloves. Past our neighbors, after traversing down into a draw and out.

You walk long distances in the dark at times. Life gives us so much to have to deal with, but the two of us, back then were strong. Past our neighbors and still no horses.

We were beginning to wonder what was going on when, in the silence broken only by our breaths and quiet talk, we heard sounds ahead and saw movement.

Then a horse appeared in the glow. But even at this distance, we knew it wasn’t ours. And it was running straight towards us.

Later we talked about how we were both thinking the same thing. We were worried that our horses, escaped and running, had helped break out others. We were sure that a mass escape of the local horse community led by our troublemakers, was going to be a bigger larger problem then two ambitious teenagers would be able to fix.

But the horse rushing up to us in the dark didn’t belong to any of our neighbors either. You know these things in a small farm community.

And right behind it was another unknown, larger this time. And it too, was not from around there. A third and fourth appeared. And finally, it was too many to count and they were bearing down on us. There’s a moment of fear when big animals are moving fast toward you that helps initiate the holding steady and flowing movement you need. You just shift and flow sideways, maybe turning slightly, while they shift and flow around you.Fear and exhilaration mixed with our confusion of identity, as they surrounded us.

These weren’t our horses, these weren’t anybodies horses.

Then they disappeared into the night.

We walked home, not knowing what to do next. There, we found our three, warm in their shed. The shed we’d failed to look into before departing.

When I begin to weave back into me the time-lines of Mickey and I. That’s the point I use. The night of the ghost horses. I’m sure he was there. So for example, that’s the moment I jump forward to from before the trauma. Do some work to find these points.

This goes for history too. Horses on Turtle Island had died out, or most entirely died out, by the time the colonists arrived. When I look back over the centuries and see the dark times when the horses had departed from Turtle Island I can also see them longing to return to us, their siblings. The traumas and injustices of all the journeys and misunderstanding it took to bring them home across those waters means we may never know who let them out to begin with.

When you get past the trauma, weave your strengths from all the possible multiple happy versions of you out there. Know that life and death and pain and happiness are happening all the time, and simultaneously all around us. Breath it in. And know that at some point, maybe not this, or the next, or the next time traveling session you do – at some point, you’ll find yourself looking back at this time-line, the one you’re on, and accepting it completely.

Trauma can happen in an instance. Healing can take practice. I hope this one may be useful.

More of this will be coming. I have a similar work that goes with the future. And beyond that, a practice I’m starting that takes loving kindness meditation (Metta) back to the past, and to the future too. It’s meant to build a web of loving influence throughout whole time. This is the magic I began when the corvids met.

In 2012 I came to my first Witch Camp at BCWC. I was welcomed into a affinity group of powerful spiders, and I fell into Whole Time in our Fairy path with Willow and Rebecca Tidewalker. That year too, I met Crow and felt time magic first calling me, her vision of healing wrapped around and called my heart. I believe that we can heal whole time, that we do this first by healing ourselves, then by extending that out through the webs, through the time-lines and through each other. It’s a seeming impossible feat I know, maybe even imperceptible in the end. But it’s nothing short of bending the arc of the multiverses towards love.