Medicine Cards: Salmon – Following Your Instincts

Imagine the beautiful salmon fighting her way up and over the rapids and through the driving current to at long last give birth and die. Whether she knows what is going to happen or not, she follows her instincts and wills herself to the call of her greater nature. I drew the Salmon Card this morning.

I am mesmerized by salmon. First of all, I love eating salmon. Dense and oily, I know I’m getting a dose of healthy nutrients that will help my blood continue to flow in healthy veins and arteries. I have great memories of salmon from my time in Seattle. For most of my life I have purchased salmon at the grocery. But in Seattle I learned that there are many kinds of salmon – Coho, King, Copper River, the most beloved of all. Salesmen tossed the beautiful fish around and gave out samples of dried and cooked salmon at every booth. I began to order a species of salmon based on it’s flavor profile until I left and now I get salmon – whatever kind you have.

They introduced salmon into the Great Lakes to revive a floundering fishery gutted by overfishing and the invasive sea lamprey. I buy salmon from a local fish captain, and I was always a bit curious because I thought salmon were saltwater fish. Turns out, they are pretty flexible and thrive in the freshwater Great Lakes as well.

Last year I camped at Ludington State Park, and we kept seeing these really big fish in the clear water of the river. They’d jump and swirl. I thought maybe it was some kind of carp, but it turns out they are the remnants of a thriving salmon fishery. I am mesmerized by them every time I stand on the banks of that lovely river.

Once I read the card this morning, I realized I already knew salmon medicine just from watching and studying them. Salmon urges us to learn from all of life’s lessons. We grow from what we learn, and the more that we integrate those lessons, the more powerful and valuable we get. Our instincts are important guides to keep us on the right path between the twists and turns inevitable in any river. Adaptability and flexibility are key to survival. Trusting your inner knowing and going along with the flow are critical pieces of navigating upstream. And I guess I would add that it doesn’t hurt to be graceful and jump for joy a little bit. That will, at least, make bystanders happy.

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