When I entered the Love the Beauty Way booth at the Awake Festival last weekend, coyote was waiting for me. In the form of a necklace.
Which I assumed was one more shiny object I really didn’t need. And really didn’t want if it insisted on being a coyote. I admired it, decided it was a fox, then told it silently, “If you are here at the end of the festival, you can go home with me.”
Sunday came. And it was, of course, still there. The shop owner told me several people had tried the necklace on, and when I picked it up to do the same, I saw the word “coyote” clearly printed on its label. Not fox. Coyote, the trickster.
In the spirit-animal world, coyote is often said to use deception to deliver its message. It has a reputation for bringing complications, and its wisdom often causes unsettling feelings. The few times I’ve seen actual coyotes they seem to appear out of nowhere, lurking nearby, eyes locked on me. Unsettling indeed!
So, I had to wonder why I paid money for this magic and so willingly put it on my body.
Coyote’s strength lies in its adaptability, which seems to me like a powerful combination of strength and flexibility. And a handy quality to have as the world feels more and more chaotic. Crafty coyote has prevailed against all sorts of human efforts to wipe out the species, or at least reduce its numbers. The Humane Society of the United States cites a study that found killing 75% of a coyote population every year for 50 years would still not exterminate the population because when aggressively controlled, coyotes begin breeding at an earlier age and having larger litters. Adaptable and clever!
The idea of meeting disorder with flexibility and centered strength became the theme of the yoga class I taught on Tuesday. Coyote weaved its wisdom throughout. And then the trickster unveiled an even better layer for me.
After class, my friend Shelley told me a story about the days before Google Maps, language translation apps and cell phones when she and her friend would hike and camp in foreign countries. Nothing was orderly; sometimes they got lost. She said when they needed something, they had to ask children who were the only ones in the villages who knew any English. And she added that she and her friend now long for those days when they wandered with unpredictability. Or in my words, wildly.
So maybe the real lesson from coyote goes beyond using adaptability to meet disorder. Perhaps the medicine needed to thrive in these times includes leaning in to the unpredictable, taking the unknown path, embodying our wildness. I have to wonder sometimes if all the things we do to create order out of chaos instill more fear in us than the chaos itself. It seems like we’re operating as if coyotes are constantly lurking in the shadows with their beady eyes trained on us.
I’ve been wearing my coyote necklace as a talisman of sorts. A reminder that I am nimble, I am strong, and I can wander wildly without fear. You know what? You can, too.
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