Coyote Song

Photo by Cameron Knudsen, used under Creative Commons license.

Photo by Cameron Knudsen, used under Creative Commons license.

Let me tell you a story about coyotes.

Truthfully, this story isn’t exactly about coyotes themselves but about how we respond to the coyote’s call. How our souls respond to wildness and the siren howl of the pack.

We all know our coyote mythology and the ways of the ever-present Trickster. Coyotes are playful and clever while remaining their own master of disaster. Think Wile E. Coyote. It’s a great idea to hunt your prey with an anvil, until said anvil hurls to the ground and lands on your own head. And still coyote rises, dusts off and continues on the holy fool’s mission.

I have had two experiences where coyote has called to me and stirred my soul. The first was living in a cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains: I cherished the nights I awoke to hear coyote calling across the canyon, waited with my breath held to see if the response would follow. The distant call and respond would continue through the wee hours, until the call changed to the final gathering of the pack. Many coyote voices would chime in as the pack gathered and ended the evening’s hunt. Their final canine crescendo would serve to wake the morning and start the new day. 

The second experience was a couple years ago, camping at Tuolumne Meadows. I wasn’t at my usual campsite and my tent was much closer to the meadow, further from the river. In the final morning hours of my last night there, the call of coyote broke the silence with a deep and dreamy howl. The response was immediate as other pack members signaled response and the calls seemed to get closer to us, more urgent in their meter. I could feel the entire campground holding our breath together, as if our own stirring pack, while the coyotes gathered in the meadow. The deep resonant voice of the leader, followed by the responding adults, concluding with the pups yipping in to affirm their presence. The calls became rapid, echoed through the valley, overlapped each other until they finally sang in one voice then suddenly, silence.

I’ve noticed there are two kinds of people in life: those that move away from the call of the coyotes and those who are compelled towards their song. To move away is to play it safe, avoid risk, deny the stir of your own pulse and place coyote in the tidy box of Dangerous Uncontrolled Things To Be Avoided. To move away is to choose to fear what you don’t know. And when you are compelled forward, towards coyote’s song, you acknowledge the wildness in your self and your place in the pack. You step into the mystery that is nature, our nature, and let it flow through your veins like life itself. You hold coyote’s song closely, not tight enough to crush it but enough to let it carry you away.

How do you respond when you hear coyote’s song?

I invite you to pause next time you hear the call and let it touch the brave places within you, let it rise your curiosity and your courage. Let coyote show you yourself through its eyes, and you may begin to see yourself in a whole new light.

I coach midlife women to help them find the confidence to sing their own coyote song. You can click here to learn more about working with me.