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ORIGINS

The inspiration for each flute is unique in itself.
Listed here are but a few of the more interesting tales of the birth of a Swampfox flute.

Pathfinder

On a Georgia morning, I had no idea what totem would be chosen for for this Walnut flute as it spun on the lathe! A cool wind came out of the South which helped to keep the flying walnut chips from my face. Stopping to get another tool, my eyes caught movement at the edge of a wood-line on a beautiful green grassy knoll. It was my Wolf friend "Pathfinder", a beautiful creature that someone surely decided to part with, but 100% wolf! I have tried many times in the last months to tame him, but he has decided to live the old ways. Sometimes I have found myself wanting to follow him to see where he goes for weeks at a time. On one such morning I had been kayaking in a nearby swamp and upon reaching a shore, I could clearly see his "larger than life" tracks in the soft mud which would dwarf any dog living in this area! Sit back, and let me tell you a true tale of a purification ceremony where a hunter, Swampfox (me), in pursuit of my past, found that I myself had become the prey! You might ask how I have received this gift of tracking an animal, and I'd answer, my Great Grandfather, and Grandfather, and Father! Many times my elders have been called to find a deer or other animal that a hunter would have never found otherwise. Now I know some folks are against hunting, but both of my Grandfathers fed their families in this way. It is very similar to someone going to the grocery store and buying a chicken, except they went to the woods and brought home a deer. Both chicken and deer gave their lives, but most likely the deer was the only one which the Creator was given thanks for... Even if you are a vegetarian, the plants you eat have given their life for you, and so it is with most everything we eat. As I stepped out of the kayak, for an instant I had a creepy feeling that something was watching me. Glancing around, nothing moved, no sounds were made, & the feeling faded just as quickly as it came! The mud clearly showed not only the tracks of the wolf, but also a very large buck! Hearing a twig snap, I quickly changed my vision so it was more wide angle, a little fuzzy, yet sensitive to movement. I pinched my nostrils and blew softly opening up my Eustachian tubes to allow all the sound that might be made to come to me. I could hear a grey squirrel rustling in the leaves, then jumping on top of a stump to tear into an acorn. In the distance the rush of the river headed north... Now if you have ever been around a wolf you will know that they have a distinctive odor about them. I scented the creature and it was at that moment, in my mind at least, I had become the wolf. This is what the old ones meant many years ago, when they spoke of "shape shifting". For almost half an hour I traveled a line of tracks. It had been a long time, but I had not lost the skills of our Elders. Taking a compass reading, I headed up a small ridge which overlooked the river. I had the sensation of being small, of being outside myself, a stranger, yet comforted in a wild place. I could hear the river now. Closing my eyes, I could feel it's rushing energy flow up the hill. It surrounded me... I must have dozed off for a moment, but when I opened my eyes a small fox ran across down below chasing a rabbit! After eating an apple, I gathered my things and dropped down towards the river. I could hear the old ones telling me, "when you are on a track, stick to the down hill side and keep your eyes on the animal's direction while also watching the land ahead." You can tell what an animal will do miles ahead just by following tracks only 500 yards. Three quarters of a mile from where I cut the track, I found where the buck had met it's rival the wolf on the knoll of another ridge! Clumps of grey black hair were clumped in the center of a circle where horns met flesh! Tiny specks of blood limped east toward the soothing waters. The Timber Wolf did not succeed this time! I was in no hurry as I had engaged the dance of the Wolf, my thoughts of home were but shadows behind me. I was walking in the land of the ghosts now. My Grandfathers had given me the skills to move freely in the wilderness, to sense a world invisible to most. I wondered however, if I would ever be free from the things certain people have done to this world. Shaking my head I was not ready to face the bloody issues of the past. Instead I forced myself to dwell on the land before me, to be Swampfox again. It was at this point that I had the feeling once more that I was being watched. The back of my neck had goose bumps just as a wolf would raise the hair on his neck. This time it was real! Turning slowly and looking directly behind, I could see a creature that could, with no problem at all, take my life, just as a hunter takes a deer! Reflexively, I bowed my head, and gave thanks to the Creator of all living things for the life I have had on his earth. And then, the retracting daylight calmed the forest, until all was a deep almost funeral silence. At that moment I made the decision to jump down the slope slipping further and further down with every stride and I remember thinking that nothing could catch me when I felt like this!!
The only problem was that I was wrong about that my friends! I could now hear the wolf coming like a bolt of lightning down the slope behind me! While still moving, almost flying out of control down the slope myself, out of the corner of my eye I saw the wolf directly to my right! After another 20 yards, it was then that I realized this Wolf was running not to catch me at all, but actually running with me as if moving in a pack!!! And I felt the Powerful presence of the Old Ones once more, the stories of their lives and the words they spoke, and I knew their meaning of the Pathfinders and of the Shape Shifters, for I had become one of them.

Swampfox

Mahogany Flute

I have had many, many encounters with Owls through my lifetime... Sit back and let me tell you the story of this flute my friends...
It has been years ago since I hunted deer with my Grandfather in the mountainous area. I remember it being so dark that morning! When we turned off our flashlights we couldn't see a thing! My Grandfather climbed into his stand which overlooked a creek at the foot of the mountain. We had these huge military type radios. Mine hung on a limb in the tree beside me. After nestling into my stand on the top of the mountain, I reached over and flipped the switch to the on position. I don't think we had been there five minutes when it happened.........A sound so bloodcurdling I will never forget it as long as I live!!! Somewhere in that pitch black night, something was screaming and sounded just like a woman screaming for her life!!! Many things come across a boys mind when faced with something like this in pitch darkness! The sound wasn't far from me, and being very young, I reached for the radio to call my Grandfather. The first attempt did not come with a reply. When he finally did answer, I asked, "What in the world is that terrible noise? Did you hear it?" And I remember as if it were yesterday - his shaky voice said to me, "I don't know what it is, but it's in the same tree with me!" Then, only seconds later, we heard the old familiar sound, "hoo, hoo-hoo-hooo, hoo-hoo HOOO HOOOOOOOO!!!!" I can only imagine how my Grandfather must have felt that cold dark morning sitting in an oak tree easily big enough to have a mountain lion sleeping in it's large branches! And to be honest, that's just what I thought it was at first. This type of Owl can make many different sounds believe me!
I have had four encounters with owls in the last seven days. A creature as mysterious and old as time itself.
At the break of day, I went out to see what was stirring around here. It was the day this flute would come to be. I needed a totem my friends. Sometimes I will go to great lengths to find the totem meant for a particular flute. You cannot walk out of my door without seeing some sort of animal, but this morning I had a good feeling that I would be shown a great sign. This flute would be special indeed. As I sipped my coffee a very large shadow swiftly moved across the grass. When I looked up, there, just overhead flew a magnificent creature! His wings did not beat, but were held straight out from it's thick body. Ghost like, not a sound was heard. And when it landed only yards away, I could see that is was the Giant Great Horned Owl. Often called the Eagle Owl it is exceeded in size only by the rare Great Grey Owl. This massive creature had huge yellow eyes and very strong legs with big sharp talons - everything needed to launch an attack on either prey or intruders! His voice was as deep as the flute itself!!! With me in the picture, the bird's stay was brief. He departed in a NW direction. Here in the South, these Owls truly grow to be Giants!
Later I searched and found some 100 plus year old Cedar which I carved this totem from. Then after all the work was done, the flute was put to the test. I must say, the voice of this flute is just amazing!!!
If this is your flute, you will know it my friend. There is not a trick it will not do. My life is my word, my word - my life,

Swampfox

The Ancients

I have titled this flute "The Ancients" after the sighting of what appeared to be four wolves coming out of the Eastern Mountains. The totem has been painted to visualize the Ghost like appearance I witnessed the night of this sighting.

This totem represents the smaller wolf which spoke to me recently with his howling. The end of the flute is burned in the sacred fire (not painted) and carries the mark of a shape shifter.

Native Americans have long considered the Wolf as teachers or pathfinders. They are fiercely loyal to their mates and family while maintaining individualism. To many tribes they were known as the "Ancients", and have always been associated with them. They are some of the most misunderstood creatures of all wild animals. Wolves are truly free spirits yet their packs are highly organized. They will go out of their way to avoid a fight. One is rarely necessary when a shift in posture, a glance, or growl gets the point across quite quickly. A person with Wolf Medicine is said to have a strong sense of self, and communicates well thru changes in their voice, and body movements. They often find solutions to problems that most would have no idea which path to take.

Origin: It was an evening like any other, at least it started out that way... Sitting out back I was thinking about the day that had past. The sky turned an almost red color as the evening came to a close. Dusk is a wonderful time to see animals you would hardly ever see during the day. The little ones had already went inside and I too was thinking of heading that way. As I stood up, there in the distance some 300 yards out, I could make out a silhouette of a creature moving across the bottom land from the Eastern hills. Seconds later there appeared to be three, and they moved together as water flows in a stream. The closer they came I could tell the lead dog was the wolf, yet the other two appeared to look the same size and color.

I wasn't going anywhere at this point. My curiosity was at an all time high!Then another creature came in from the same direction, yet it was smaller in size. All four swept across the valley and appeared to be hunting as a pack. When I saw that they were going away from me, and would soon disappear, I made a last ditch effort to get their attention. Now I can howl just about as good as a wolf or coyote can, so that's exactly what I did! All four stopped in their tracks turning towards me and the smallest of them slowly raised his head and howled right back at me!!! It did not sound at all like the coyotes which frequently visit us in the night. This was a deeper more haunting sound, yet I know they just had to be coyotes! Five minutes pasted, the sun's last light now gone for the day, and the ghost like figures just disappeared into thin air. I have told many people about this sighting, and some say what I witnessed that evening was Ghosts from another time.
The Ancient Ones whose spirits live in the wolf still today. Whatever passed through here the other evening, their message seemed quite clear. Saying hello, they only wanted to be left alone. To live as our Ancestors lived. To be free from all that man has made this land into today. I will honor these Ancient Ones in my next three flutes.

Swampfox

Sacred Woodpecker

The year was 1989. I hadn't known my beautiful wife {to be} but a few weeks. Our very first date, believe it or not, was actually a float trip down the Flint river. I have had four kayaks, and all sorts of amphibious machines most of my life, so I needed to make sure this girl was an outdoors-women. :)) Well she tricked me, I'll tell ya what!!!! Just kidding.....Anyway, on that float trip there was an area where two creeks flowed into the river. It was more beautiful than any other place on the river, so we stopped there to have lunch. It was all I could do to keep her off of me with her kissing & hugging! (I must have had a day dream at this point) hehehe......OK, let me get this together here.......There was a large Pine tree that had been struck by lightning there. The tree was split from top to bottom, and four trees around it's base were also dead. The lightning must have traveled thru the roots killing the other trees, one of which was this Wild Cherry. Wild Cherry seems a little darker in color than the wood purchased in shops. A few days later I returned to that spot and harvested some of this wood.
During this flutes construction I was wondering what totem would be given to this beauty. All it took was a walk out back to find the answer...
The baby Woodpeckers had hatched only weeks ago and were now hopping up and down on the trees searching for their breakfast. They did not seem afraid as I slowly approached to get a closer look. They still had the yellow markings at the base of their beaks, (which I have included in the totem), and their new colors were just gorgeous! This would be the sign given to me, without a doubt!
To me, the Woodpecker Flutes are the most Sacred of all. They represent the "Circle of Life", and this has never been more prominent, than in the journals of Moon Follow, a Native American who purchased the now somewhat Famous Pileated Woodpecker flute in Wisconsin, which I built in the year 2003.
Since this one turned out so well, yesterday my middle son, Dancing Bear who is almost 5 years now, and Baby Creesong 2 years pictured below, decided to do something extra special for this flute. We loaded up the amphibious machine and headed to the exact place where this wood was found so many years ago. What could be better than to take the photos in the Sacred land that the flute's tree was born and lived. Now don't worry my friends, the flute was in a well protected, padded PVC case..... :))))
After driving as close to this place as possible. I loaded up the two children and away we went over land and water - thru swamp, creeks, and river reaching our destination miles into the old Sacred Native land.
Something there surprised me more than anything has in a long time my friends!!! After unloaded the children we walked over to the place where the Cherry tree once lived. I could not believe my eyes when I saw this!
There sprouting out from the base of this old Dead tree stump was a new little Cherry tree reaching for the sun! Now being the man that I am, I never shed a tear about anything, but I must admit my eyes did glaze over a bit seeing this tiny tree. An unbelievable sight to say the least!!!
With the baby Woodpecker totem and the new life of this Cherry tree - this flute represents the CIRCLE OF LIFE like no other has ever before.
If purchased, my hope is that this flute will go to someone who will use it as a prayer tool, using it's powerful bass voice to heal those in need. It has been said that it is the Best medicine known the world today. God bless you all!

Swampfox

 

 


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