Sunday, January 4, 2015

A tale of tracks or, Do you know who you are, even after all these years?

I arrive too early and wait inside my car, because it is winter.

My eyes wander over the stands of dried stalks in the astrologer's front yard. Golden remnants of flowers and grasses poke through the snow. A shapely bare tree on one side of the yard, flanked by layers of plantings and shrubbery stretching out onto the boulevard lining the street, where I am parked and cars pass too quickly.

In summer, this garden must spill over onto the sidewalk edges and lean over the chain-link of the neighboring yard—a small patch of wildness on an ordinary city block of stucco bungalows. The home of a person who values privacy. A lover of growing and living things, comfortable with nature's kind of order. That is what is visible to the eye.

It feels, however, like a crone's cottage, with healing herbs under the snow, protective spells encircling the boundaries and a tendril of plum-colored smoke curling from the chimney.

(Probably there was no chimney smoke...yet that is how I'm remembering it.)

I walk up the front walk, ring the bell. The woman, the astrologer, seats me at a wooden table in a cozy room and offers me a cup of tea. She is older than I am, but not old. Her white hair is thick with curls—not the regimented curl of a permanent wave, but a luxuriant and wild curling, springing from her head like leaves unfurling in April.

Green plants crowd the windowsill. A gray tabby cat snoozes on a cushion set atop the radiator. A few carefully curated artifacts and objects gather around the edges. There's my birth chart, on the table in front of me.

I can't shake the soothsayer-in-the-cottage feeling. Maybe it's because I really like it. I like coming to consult the wise woman, who reminds me of the wise eccentric inside of myself. I like meeting this person, I like how she speaks in possibilities and the way it launches a parallel, unspoken conversation: "Look, this is a way to be even more yourself. Here is a good way to grow old."

The reading progresses through the Houses, touching on my oldest stories. Stories that shaped my ways of growing and not, stories I've told and reshaped and retold to myself, the stories changing as I've changed and was able to reframe them: Once upon a time, a girl child was born. Here are the clear gifts she was given. Here are other gifts, in the guise of difficulties, challenges and curses.

What was it like to be you as a child, with your joys and griefs? What were the wounds you received, and have you found a way to heal them? Have you known your gifts all along, or were they buried, needing to be nurtured carefully and coaxed to the surface? Have you had to learn to be your own parent, and your own daughter, too?

The reading shifts to talking transits—the invisible but powerful tracks the outer planets in particular make as they move in their orbits in respect to the natal chart.

"Art is your way into the world," she says. "That’s where the invitation is to be in the world."

For me, astrology is about illuminating influences, impulses, identity, energies and cycles. It is just one tool for amplifying the whispers of wisdom inside myself that I forget to listen for. Like the tarot, it is rich with metaphor, story and archetype, with clues for understanding life as it is unfolding...a kind of taking stock, a kind of signpost.

When something in the reading resonates with experience and intuition, I pay attention, then try to follow that red thread, in hopes of stitching a true track through the rising and falling lands of my journey. While also looking down on this often confusing path I'm treading like a circling raptor hunting for mice: What will feed me, where is the sustenance?

And: What is the guiding metaphor?

A tightly closed red bud, waiting to unfurl?

An empty fountain that's been shut off for the season, or a freely flowing stream?

A sliver of blue sky after an eternity of heavy clouds?

Maybe a meadow of ghosts, whispering stalks and old bones, with an invincible heart deep beneath the soil, immensely old and ever young?

My astrologer-fairy godmother says: "You’re going to put beauty into the world, motivated by a deep desire to help. Kind of a social worker for the earth."

This, I love.

How do you put your finger on the elusive being of You, as you are being made and unmade, unendingly shifting and flowing like a wave? Fixed yet fluid, past present and perhaps all at once?

All I know is that you, and every other being who has ever lived, are more. More than any name, description, definition, list of characteristics, image, memory, circumstance, voice, or story—even the ones you like most, even the ones you've claimed for yourself.

You're an ocean, you're a field of stars, you're matter in shifting form, you're a hawk sitting on a high tower, searching for food because you love this life, wherever and whoever you are.


  1. So beautifully, soulfully, told. <3

  2. Beautiful post, Carmine... the visit to your astrologer-fairy godmother sounds much like my visits to my Plant Spirit Medicine Woman who I am going to see this week. Its good to have a trusted medicine woman for seasonal tune-ups, I think!

  3. PS Juniper looks like a cousin of Rhu Bear's... I just went back and looked at the first post about her, so cute!! I'm sad I didn't have Rhu when he was such a little guy.

  4. Utterly gorgeous, Carmine. I loved reading about your encounter with your fairy-god-m other, your musings, oh, all of it. Astrology is something so deep and complex and mysterious, so full of primal life force... I wish I knew more about it. I got my first chart reading done in August, and it was sensational. I took notes, her reading was as luscious as poetry, Neptune's crossings, the southnode of the Mood, loveliness. <3 <3 <3

  5. that was beautiful - those bird tracks in the snow, so delicate, writing their own story somehow and "Here are other gifts, in the guise of difficulties, challenges and curses." I am coming to realise this in my life too, I have been given a gift that actually has been one of the greatest curses in my life, and it is only just now that I am realising it, so thank you for your beautifully crafted reminder on this wintery day.

    x Lou

  6. Those little bird tracks could be either from a small Baba Yaga's Hut out for a walk; or those metal birds in the birdbath, pretending to be motionless statues.
    I'm always glad that you see the depth of the supra-mundane even while viewing the mundane. It reminds me not to be fooled by the illusions the current state of the human race indoctrinates us to believe in. I used only to see these things for what they were. In my coming days, I hope I will be able to return to that state of laughing at illusions and shaping the stories that makes up my life.
    I appreciate that you only post genuine things, from the heart, where even the frozen world that others shrink away from holds mystery, beauty and power.
    Peace to you,

  7. Thank you all for your thoughts and kindness. I'm feeling gratitude for you all and the ways you share your real and imaginary journeys with your readers. And I love the sense of community that inspires. Best wishes for a new year of following your own red threads.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...