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I wrote this July 25, 2011 and didn’t post it because it didn’t have much of a point. But not everything does, does it? I hope this summer memory brightens your winter.

Sunday afternoon I went to the Botanic Gardens for the Japanese Tea Ceremony with some of my Reiki students and colleagues. I got there a little early, hoping to find a good spot to meditate in the gardens. I wandered around, eventually finding my way to the dragonfly pond in the Plains Garden. I sat on a bench at the edge of the pond, and began a breathing meditation. A large family passed by, and I opened my eyes, the better to maintain my focus with the noise and movement in my vicinity.

I slowly began to look around. Across from me, a waterfall cascaded into the pond. A man in the group of people excitedly pointed out that there was a turtle in the pond, and sure enough, I saw it swimming along, only the very tip of its nose poking above the surface of the water. Seeing the turtle was the passport I needed to become aware of the bustle of activity in the pond that had been just below my level of perception. Suddenly it was no longer a still, quiet pond, and I saw beautiful golden orange koi floating, dragonflies cavorting with each other, long-legged insects skimming the surface of the pond, and a sparrow swooping down and grazing the surface. I briefly thought, I wonder if one of those fish will come to talk with me. My perception firmly shifted to this natural realm, the passing of people now only barely registered, at the outskirts of awareness.

One of the goldfish had drifted closer to me, separated from the group. He was pointing straight at me, as if he were looking at me. I slowly shifted my focus to him, wondered if he was the one who would come and talk to me. I began to release the thoughts I had about fishes (especially Gollum related images, which I thought would scare the poor thing!) and focused on what it felt like to be a fish, the shape, the feel of the water, but just then he flicked his tail and turned away from me, and I withdrew my perception, which I think had gotten too close for comfort. But now I could see a tiny wisp of fin on his back and his diaphanous tail. I wondered if I had scared him away or if he would still come and talk to me.

I continued to quietly observe the pond, the dozens of colorful dragonflies, some of them electric blue, playing tag with each other in the air. I wondered if they were dragonflies or damselflies, but none ever touched down so I could see if its wings stayed open or closed. I saw the turtle again making slight ripples in the surface of the pond as he paddled around.

I looked down at my friend again. He had drifted a little closer. He had turned halfway back towards me and I could see his beautiful deep orange color with highlights of golden yellow scales at the side of his neck. I saw movement around him and for the first time noticed another fish, a dull brown color, the same drab color as the pond itself, swimming around him. I could only barely make her out; she blended in so perfectly with the water.

At times I thought I was mistaking a ripple in the pond for another fish, but then she would flick her tail and spin away from the direction of the ripples caused by the waterfall. She continued to swim in circles around the bright orange fish. Had she always been there? What was she doing? He stayed perfectly still, as he had done for most of the time I was watching him.

The two fish continued to drift closer; I think the waterfall was causing a slight current that carried them towards me, although the main group of fish had stayed in the center of the pond. She continued to circle him, flicking her tail, turning away from him, flicking back, circling around. What was this dance, this ritual they performed?

I finally decided it was time to go. My gaze dropped to the water just in front of me, where before the skimming insects had walked the surface of the water, and right there, not a foot away from the edge of the platform my bench was on, a tiny little baby fish, the drab brown of the pond, mouthed at something on the surface of the water. Well, hello little one, I said. Have you come to talk to me? He was very small, only a couple inches long. He continued to open and close his mouth, kissing the surface of the water, so close to me.

I got up and walked down the path along the edge of the pond, crossing into the shade of the trees on the other side. As I walked over a wooden bridge, one of the electric blue flies landed on the edge of the rail for a fraction of a second before buzzing off again with its companion. Damselfly.

Joy Vernon is a Reiki Practitioner and Teacher in Denver, Colorado. She is trained in two styles of Traditional Japanese Reiki: Usui Reiki Ryôhô and Komyo Reiki, as well as the Western-influenced Usui Tibetan tradition of Reiki. To schedule an appointment or for information on upcoming classes, please visit

(c) 2011 by Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit

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  1. […] All of the imagery is gorgeous, but a favorite is XXII, Carp, also in the Water suit. The shades of orange and gold lend richness to this card, which symbolizes financial prosperity. The open-mouthed carp twists in the currents of a shallow, clear stream, broken by occasional rocks and tall grasses. Dragonflies dart in and out. An old, gnarled oak branch adorned with blazing fall leaves cuts across the frame of the image, deepening the perspective. The image reminds me of the time I sat at the Denver Botanic Gardens watching the fish in Dragonfly Pond. […]

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