Last night, I journeyed to discover the symbolism behind the yellow cottonwood leaf that was set down on the ground in front of me, way out of its natural place (and time of year- this is summer), where I sat underneath the Grandmother Willow. It took a while for me to figure out it was cottonwood - after much websearch. The most I could find out was that cottonwoods are associated with both Sioux and Hopi rites - the former using it for the Sundance pole, the latter making an altar of it for the Snake/Rain dancers. When I lay down to sleep, I asked for the Great Mystery persons of each (Wakan Tanka and Masau) for some clarification of the leaf's symbolic meaning for me. What unfolded was a scene by the edge of a river, underneath a great cottonwood tree, with a young woman (maybe in her 30's) looking into the clear water. I felt myself as the woman. When I looked in the water, I saw the reflection of an Indian woman in buckskin with braided hair, looking very neat, beautiful, self-assertive, sure of herself and who and what she was. And my first reaction was - I can't be that; I'm not that. Much as Harry Potter first stated that he couldn't possibly be a wizard. So I did a lot of inner and self-talk concerning my ability to see and accept my truth; to set my truth or reflection or whatever once removed from my perception or belief of who I am. Then, a yellow cottonwood leaf floated down from the tree and into the middle of the reflection on the water... yellow, middle, solar plexus chakra, identity... and rippled it away... and I walked away.
But still, I wasn't sure what else was meant by the leaf, and so I requested just a bit more clarification; mostly because my thinking gets in the way of my knowing and my healing - that thinking that is still toxicified by the fear and pain and trauma of the child. So, I let my self drift somewhat out of reach of the thoughts, and I re-focused on the two uses of the cottonwood by the Sioux and Hopi... then realization finally hit. Both rituals are used for purification... in a sacred way... and my only experience of rituals in this life (and a few others) was a very, very negative interpretation of purification... that was traumatic, painful, and ego-driven by grandfather. Still, that was the word: purification. And something I need very deeply to re-balance, renew, receive, re-activate in my life, in the right here, right now... because I don't believe I will ever ever be able to be purified, ever... so deeply ingrained is that.