Having completed quite a roller-coaster with bear, I hoped that the following month would offer a little respite. The journey to the shaman’s lodgings was interesting; the first snows had fallen in the mountains, and the drive, cross country on untreated roads, was beautiful and terrifying in equal measure.
Arriving at the gate I was surprised to see smoke curling above the snow covered roof line. A familiar figure stood gazing into the frozen pond and, as I parked up, he turned, apparently oblivious to my arrival, and headed towards the rear of the house. I found him waiting at a fire-pit which had appeared since my last visit. In it burned a sacred fire, comprising a mixture of woods; pine, two types of spruce, and aspen.
“This is the gift of badger. Each of the woods is taken from the four trees which the people used to ascend the worlds. Sit here in the smoke, focusing all your attention on the flames.” With that he disappeared for an hour.
On his return we went indoors, and I was presented with a simple fetish carved from a variegated jasper. The journey to connect with badger was quite different from those with the first two animals, and I was emotionally and physically exhausted by the sheer intensity of the encounter.
Coming out of trance, I was at least relieved that there would be a gentle walk by the river to assimilate the new energies.
“Now, go climb that mountain!”
Notes:  Cushing’s retelling of the Emergence of Men and Animals merely refers to “ladders of cane” which allowed the people to climb through the worlds, whilst other traditions associate a tree with each: the pine allowed the people to climb from the first world, the spruce from the second, the silver spruce from the third, and the aspen from the fourth into the world of the Sun.