Sunday, March 26, 2017

True song


I woke to the true song of the robin.

All alone he sang, a brave voice in the darkness before dawn, claiming his rightful territory.

He sings of spring, a mate, rain, old berries yet uneaten, insects wakening under dead leaves. Of sunlight flooding through bare tree branches and twiggy nests earthworms wriggling forth from the earth to drink of its cold moisture.





A week ago in Santa Fe, the air smelled of dust, pinon smoke, apricot blossom, and juniper.

I still feel a slight sense of dislocation, a neither-here-nor-there. A ghosting feeling, as if my body arrived but some part of me (my spirit?) is following more slowly, maybe migrating northward and on the wing like the robins, not yet at my destination.

Air travel is especially abrupt when traveling between such dramatically different landscapes, with bare time to transition from Southwestern spring to Northern spring.

There: A high desert clarity. A sea of dry air that steals away all moisture from one's nose, in which skin takes on a map-like texture, an atlas of lizard trails and pebbled riverbeds and beetle-traced tree bark.





We walked through arid gardens of soft sands, yarrow, dusty gold, sage and subtle greens against the backdrop of pine-dark mountains, under vaulting arcs of cloud...




















Down streets so quiet one could hear the gentle patter of blossoms hitting the ground...

House finches with rosy throats warbled their songs in the fruit trees, plucking blossoms one by one and drinking their nectar before discarding them to flutter to the stones below, and the adobe walls were painted by soft shadows.









We followed in the footsteps of ancient peoples, through the canyons, cholla, cottonwoods lining the small river (like but unlike their eagle-eyried kin along the Mississippi River), dusty paths, vast walls and fortresses of ember-lit and golden limestone towering overhead, glowing against the blue sky.






We climbed into cool-shadowed cliff dwellings, blew dust from our noses, carried water for the journey, rested in the shade, rested in the quiet, the quiet of an ancient place. All wild places are ancient, and sacred, but some strike one so more than others, like this one.





What would it be like, getting to know even one mountain? To watch such an eternal being through every shift of light, season, weather? Calming, I would imagine, an object of contemplation, meditation, inspiration, like Pedernal Mountain to Georgia O'Keeffe.




Oh how beautiful the paintings, but just as much the life of an artist following her vision, the photographs made of her working in her kitchen and garden, a life all of a piece, making sense.

Maybe that is what lingers most of all, a calling I have heard before and hear again. My true song. Will I listen this time?






Sunday, March 12, 2017

The quiet extinction



Today, I watch the sleet falling fast. Determined flakes pelting down, blanketing the stirring brown earth. But this does not bring me joy, or peace.

My heart is heavy now for our wild relations, and how voiceless they are in our human-centered world.

Who speaks for them, who cares about them?

Many things are breaking my heart right now, but that most of all.

Quietly they exist on the edges, pushed into the corners of the earth we still allow them, and even there they are not free to live out their lives. They are displaced, hunted, persecuted, poached, trapped, starved, until finally, the last of their species die.

Quietly they die.

This quiet crisis is happening now, to species beyond counting. This silent extinction of voices we cannot hear. It is easy to ignore it, this quiet retreat...it is like silent drowning. They struggle to survive but cannot call out. They cannot adapt to the loss of habitat, the loss of species, the rapid changes in climate. They cannot change what we are doing to their air, their water, their home. They can only die.

It breaks my heart. I don't even want to live in a world without polar bears, wolves, elephants, eagles, giraffes, lions, frogs or bees. A world without animals is a world robbed of its wonder and magic. A world of profound loneliness. A world in collapse, bereft of meaning and the foundations for life.

Today, I just wanted to say that I care about their lives.

I wanted to say that if I could, I would gladly share half of the earth with them, my relations.

I'd say how my life would have no meaning without their presence. And I would thank them for their life-giving gifts to humans beyond counting, as we inhabit this planet together that belonged to them first.



Sunday, February 26, 2017

A midwinter's tale




One night in midwinter, we walked upon the frozen lake. 




One night, thousands of small lights showed us our path, so we could not get lost. 





We slid-slipped-shifted but did not fall

We passed under echoing bridges like swans

crunched over shaved ice, thick-crystaled coldness

over ice roses, frost ferns, inscribing our presence

guided by glimmering candle stars,

over fishes who slept silver-mailed and still, 

over long sleeping water grasses

over turtles dreaming in hidden caverns

over deep springs bubbling forth feeding the waters, 

even when all appears still, 

even in winter.





The moon cast a secret light, hiding and slipping from cloud 

and the leaping fires called to the people, 

whose gazes softened in the glow of their bright flames, their daylight tempers sweetened by hot cups of chocolate, 

remembering their first loves, and the deep-snowed winters of their childhoods, 

and dreaming the waters beneath their feet once again set free in spring's flickering light.  





Then we walked out to the islands, to places only mallards and geese and hawks go. We stand where we've never stood, amazed under the darkling trees, and look back over our shoulders to shore,

where a the procession of ice walkers pay homage to the night, to winter, to darkness and coldness and to holding it close as a lover.  



One night, we were warmed by the fire in ice and the ice in fire, by pillars and pyramids, glittering globes and chalices cupping small soft flames that flickered and went out,

and were lit again by kneeling acolytes who bear ever-burning matches.






Monday, February 20, 2017

A quiet voice like water


Thinking about my last post, I begin to notice how often I write about what is calling me (in this case, I am back in dance class after a long time away).

This is the word spell we wrap around ourselves, all unaware.

Do you do the same?



Outside, it is raining, a soft and secretive pattering of drops on the roof overhead.

The house is quiet, the cats asleep, the candle lit.

The wildflowers I planted in a seed starting tray begin their lives beneath the soil.

A day to turn inward...a watery, daydreaming sort of day.





I see how I evoke that which I want to be more present in my life...or I evoke a direction I feel pulled to follow, in order to call the path to me. Sometimes without even knowing that is what I am doing.

I perform that ritual here. Where else is there a space for dreams, magic and mystery, but in our creations?

A web post (or a person) may on the surface appear simple, but is many-layered with wish, meaning and emotion, like a deep network of roots beneath the prairie soil that anchor the sunlit growth unfolding above the surface.

Putting forth a thought...a wish...a state of being, is a kind of spell casting. This is one of the types of magic we practice, whether or not we consider ourselves witch, shaman, healer or artist.



We define and shape our reality, and ourselves, by how we think about and express them: An evocation.

We call something by naming it...then putting intention behind it then releasing it, within and without.

But the things we struggle to express — the most deep and powerful and shape-shifting things — they seem to resist being named and encapsulated.



This may be a vast longing that we can't translate into words...

Or it may be a suggestion of a thing entwined around something else, in such a tangle that we can't tease it apart and examine it properly...

It may be something of which we see only the barest outline, out of the corner of our eyes.

This unnamed something floats in on the pale silk of a milkweed, and plants itself in the tangle of thorns, thistles, whispering grasses, the under-the-surface beings of our inner landscapes.



Such callings are elusive and wild. What wants to be known sends out tendrils, or rivulets. It surfaces from some nameless place within.

We can listen for its whispers as it flows through our lives. With our attention, we nurture and give home to its voice. Trying to pin down and examine it may wither it to silence.

It is like water, this voice. Its source is sacred, a spring deep underground in darkness. Speaking through the language of image and dream, metaphor and archetype, it finds its way to us by secret channels, nurtures life unseen, ebbs, flows and shapeshifts.




It is Mélusine, a freshwater spirit.

It is a Mystery unleashed in spring.

Like spirit whispers, water rarely follows a direct path...it meanders. So the paths to these callings and destinations are intuitive and winding.

We do not know where we want to end up, or even exactly from where we are beginning...we hear only a whisper on the wind. This way.

We have only this signpost.

If we wish to stay connected with our sacred source, I believe we must follow the whisper, the signpost, over and over again throughout our lives.







Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thousand year forest

In the thousand year forest, Brigid's serpent ripples forth from earth's womb, and tastes the wild air with her tongue.



This wind, it tastes of mid-winter: the matings of eagles and owls, frost flowers blossoming over iced river edges.

Goddess of Fire and Creation, let me say that somewhere not here, yet living deep inside me, is a sacred grove; a wild and holy presence.

Somewhere inside that grove lives a wild woman, in wordless conversation with the eternal forest.

Her mystery is mine, have I forgotten?

The forest is inside always; its ways strange, though we think we know them. We think we know ourselves also, and that is the quickest way to lose the deepest mystery of our beings, which is unknowable.

Unknowable.

Are we not, somewhere, carrying inside still the mystery of the humans we once were—the mystery shared by every wild creature, embodied fully through fur, scales, feathers and skin?

Wordless; but speaking through the magic of grace, power, movement and gesture.

Eternal; yet beautiful in our earthiness and mortality.

Nationless; belonging only to the earth.

Entranced by and afraid of the flame.

Called by dreams, moved by unfathomable intuitions.

Conversing with creation through hand, eye, nose, ear and feet that caress the ground as we dance.

Sea changing, blood coursing to tides of joy, sadness and desire, and to the moon in the wide sky.

.

At times when I must hold in my thoughts, my objections, my anger, my grief and even my truth, even then I am still a wild dancer through this life.

Remember.

How this dance embodies that eternal mystery...which is what art is for.








Sunday, January 22, 2017

Letter from America


One of the places I've been finding hope for humanity is in women. Most of all in the Women's Marches on Washington around the globe that took place yesterday.

As a solitary person, with few family ties—one who usually avoids groups altogether—feeling a sense of community is not built in to my life.

I usually feel on the edges, looking in (or looking somewhere else altogether).

In spite of my skittishness around groups, I showed up to march with 100,000 women and allies yesterday. ("So bad, even introverts are here" read one rally sign, which captures my views exactly.)

Many women I know were there, among tens of thousands I did not know, with their signs, their pink hats, their energy and their voices.

Today, I feel heartened about humanity as a whole. That so many of us hold the vision of a kinder, more just world for all, and are committed to take action for change.

As I scroll through photo after photo of diverse, brave, creative women and their allies around the world, on the march, I feel an upwelling of pride and love. I feel humbled by their generous outpouring of love and solidarity that crosses geopolitical boundaries, this vitality and positive intention released into the air, the ground, the energy field that connects us all, as a spell of great power.

Whether or not you were bodily present at the women's march, perhaps you are feeling encouraged, too.

Because we were there for ourselves; but also for you. All of us, rising up. A chorus of voices.





"As each of us falls into bed at night, exhausted and despondent because we have not yet saved the world, the sun is rising on the other side of the planet, and other people are rising to the challenge of protecting what is flourishing and just and beautiful.

"On the rotating planet, there’s a great dawn chorus of committed people, millions and millions of them, who rise from their beds or mats or blankets, rustle up coffee or atole or tea, and set off to do the good work of defending the world’s thriving. 

"We can hear the chorus if we listen — the rustle, the creak of doors tin or wood or grass, voices calling out to each other in a thousand languages, the roar of action advancing around the world, awakened like birds by the rising sun."


Excerpt from Letter to America: We Will Emerge Full-Throated from the Dark Shelter of Our Despair by Kathleen Dean Moore.


Monday, January 16, 2017

The land of the ice, snow & stars




I do not know what words to speak, even silently, on a still day like this. 

White sky, white roofs, like a held breath, a waiting, a sleeping. 

The snow is soft and silent over the earth. If only it were a healing blanket on the planet. What if, beneath it, the earth's bones, flesh and blood reknit every winter, mending what we have harmed? 

How peacefully we could then rest in winter, imagining the lands and waters being slowly restored to health. 

Until learning about global warming, I had no thought at all that the glaciers at the poles were necessary for life on earth, that they hold within the depths of their ice-blue hearts the great powers of winter to cool the temperature of our entire planet. 

We often see snow and cold as harmful, even deadly—antithetical to life. Not as a life-giving shield of protection to our planet and all living things. But now we see how lacking in understanding we have been, and that it is at least as much Protector as Destroyer.   

If only the realm of the Snow Queen could be revived in the far north and the far south once again, and the healing could begin.  

If only healing could ever happen as quickly and easily as harming. 




Once, a lovely person confided to me a one-line poem she had made: "I'm lonely for when the earth was okay." 

I am lonely for that time, too. Even while realizing that I may have never even lived in such a time. 

The stars, if my eyes could see them, might ease this loneliness, for a little while. They, thankfully, are too far away for us to have harmed, at least thus far.



The Nature 365 video journal above was filmed in far northern Minnesota by wildlife photographer and filmmaker Jim Brandenburg, and directed by Laurent Joffrion. Subscribe to view these glorious short earth films every day of 2017.



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