The fall of rain produces a droplet of creative impression from a wet cell that squeezes itself into a new organ — foreign territory that is familiar because felt in its own universal oneness of origin but yet the unchosen trail behind becomes the one in front and we move into that intrigue. The stardust of ancient life before the dinosaurs, before the seas spewed forth transformative blobs of skin and hair and sturdy hardened bone mass to walk upon earth. Here is the cellular memory, we can feel all who have passed inside us, smiling, as we cling desperately to this one form without realizing our soul travel across galaxies of form and function … evolutionary babes in the wise woods of deep time, geologic time, of the previous ones who left no signs because of age and hidden energies once felt as simple as breathing. Glimpses of them peek out from the rocks but as an infinitesimal speck, a symbol, a single letter from a language of experience long forgotten. We think we know but our grasp is fragile and narrow; our souls know though. Love this body, this life; love others with a broad sweeping lens of celebration to see grand diversity, knowing the reality truly is unimaginable — and that, too, is beautiful because we will be seeking forever, an eternal curious journey of soul passages. My cells transmute and I can feel time shimmer, disappearing from the linear yardstick, becoming spirals and waves unseen but known. I’m not crazy. Am I?
In our new home, I treasure the abundance of windows and the lack of blinds, because the view is one of nourishment, even as autumn bares her limbs and skeletons dance at dusk. I want to see everything around me. Every glance reveals growth in a middle-earth landscape, not of myth but of climate and experience, as a balance shines through her natural cycles. Even in autumn’s rituals of release, I feel protected, surrounded by trees going into hibernation for a brief spell, the “spell of the sensuous” that heralds matter and mystery in communion.
A tangled web welcomes my vision, an intricate web of vines and branches exposed, revealing themselves as twisting, bending, falling from above and caught before they can hit the ground, their many paths a visual splendor that shields. Here is a multi-dimensional tapestry of revelation, extending far into the forest, across ravines, down steep hillsides, climbing to open pasture; a tapestry no human could weave except in our hearts. I am giddy within this wooden ring, this home is the center for me and mine (though it is the perimeter for another) where we become a patchwork overlay within the movement of the wheel of life that is Mother Earth.
This is all part of life; to release is to prepare for growth. Yet even bare, beauty remains constant, an exalted testimony to fecundity, to flow and ebb, to breathing shallow, with longer pauses on the exhale, a sinkhole into the serenity of momentary stillness. Then, a crooked path beckons again and I inhale, tracing a mysterious growth that happened under cover of bold proclamations and explorations that hid the inner expansion.
I’m please to share that Desert Fire is finally finished.
I could easily have spent another six to twelve months fine-tuning Desert Fire further,
but felt that its time has come to go out into the world just as it is.
Now I can move on to other writing projects pressing to be heard.
[excerpt from Desert Fire]
If I hadn’t researched the dogs of the Americas, seeking to understand the history of the tiny Chihuahua dog, I might never have met and resonated with a deity on my own continent who shares some of the qualities of my beloved Artemis. Dogs and forest wisdom are threads that link the Greek Goddess Artemis and the South American Goddess Yampani Nua. In the Achuar, a tribe of South America, they tell of a divine Mistress of Dogs, the “female spirit Yampani Nua.“[i] The Achuar are situated just below the equator putting them in the Southern rather than the Northern Hemisphere where I live. Their traditional lands ride the boundary between Ecuador and Peru, and they are far from being desert dwellers. Achuar women held status within their communities, and, similarly, pre-Hellenic Artemis is aligned with the former matrifocal cultures of Greece. The mythical Artemis roamed the wild woods with her pack of dogs, her Alani, and it is not a stretch for me to see Yampani Nua as sister-goddess to Artemis, each representing a different continent. Both are responsible for the care and protection of these remarkable canine Beings that I consider sacred guides for and protectors of humans. While Artemis and Yampani Nua resonate through unique patterns of cultural divinity, their roles are both that of a Mistress of Dogs. Thus, I feel a kinship with them because of their strong relationship to dogs and the forests. [i]. Schwartz. A History of Dogs in the Early Americas. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997. Print. Page 59.
Gratitude for the blessing of this life, the gifts uncountable in their number and numinous darkness, as the moon falls into her black mood of reflection unseen by human eyes though felt; I feel her endarkenment as a sweet nectar in which I float within safe space — womb. Here is the origin of my life and I am entranced whenever I am returned to the unlit peace and seclusion, listening to muffled voice, thrumming to a heartbeat of “out there,” a vital force unseen, floating in a brew of life-giving nutrients as I lay curled within human mother and more-than-human mother. I could be the spiral of galaxies as easily as spongy-flesh of unformed creature.
Gratitude for reflective love, as every year since the new millennium began its turning is icing on a cake of life that touched the stars and sank into despair; those emotional tandem bicycles spinning wheels of possibility. For then, after finding myself in Gaia, she brought a tangible masculine form for love into an opening, into a space that was left vacant by the acceptance of the Infinite in a guise I’d always known but was untitled, like a book with a missing cover that had fallen away through the ravages of time. Through love a new cover has been crafted from soul and smoke, from sifting sands and a magic cavern always in transformation.
Gratitude is the heart of being born into a tribe of kindred spirits rather than one of blood, for this dance is a masquerade ball among smiles and capes, hugs and warm fur settling into the curves of my body, releasing into the peace of transparent presence formerly hidden. Only this.
Gratitude as I wait for each word to emerge, as I trust it will, and this is another gratitude that flows on its own from Source and gains momentum and individuality pounding through the muscles and nerves from top to tip, from head to digits, and among the swirls of ink-become-mystery. I don’t know what I’m going to say until the words reveal themselves, a mystical process that lies within the space that is neither mind nor hand but apparently emerges on gossamer streams flowing in the subtle space near my heart.
Gratitude that my womb has never been empty, though it has never grown a child, rather within the space where a vacancy sign has been blinking off and on for decades lies a cauldron of creativity that flows unending and I manage to cup my hands occasionally, drinking the nectar that pools therein and shapes itself into forms of an imaginary world. If it is true that we dream the world into matter, then my dreams are part of a new beginning led and held by the ancients of bygone eras who whisper, their words spiraling in the cartilaginous labyrinth of inner ethereal ear, an oceanic conch shell so long out of its unity that silence and solitude are the filaments I need to form the framework in which to listen … and create.
Is this litany of gratitude a gift of time and age or one that has always been humming since the womb? Across these musing flickers of neurons is the wholeness that joins hands, jumping from one dark thread-trail to another, always present, only revealing themselves in the glowing tip of a temporary wand of incense, the seed within the womb of life.
She observes in stillness, but her head is tilted to the side, a state of curiosity in her witnessing so that I am not uncomfortable with a confrontational gaze, not unnerved by too intense a watchfulness.
She listens with a sweet sort of inclined attention, with a flow to her posture that welcomes story and presence without the intimidation her size might otherwise instill upon my essential timidity. I am a mouse before her giantess nature of peace and communion in the wilderness in which we both live.
She is ancient angelic behemoth, swaying to celestial harp and earthly rhythmic drum, composing songs of pulsing heartbeat and twinkling embrace.
She is the songstress of the land – her sister of ocean is whale. Do they sing to each other in circumference, their vibrational melodies meeting in the air that both breathe?
She speaks through the text of landscape, through feet that sense sound, through a long snake-like trunk that touches and caresses.
She has a message for me; she holds healing and wisdom and beauty so easily balanced.
She is listening to me, hearing me into a more powerful presence.
She removes obstacles and blockages that inhibit creativity and flow.
She is ancient wisdom.
My fascination for this sculpture was a mystery. I’ve rarely been drawn to the elephant as a spirit guide though I admire them as I do all creatures. When women in Circle were speaking of how important the elephant was to them, I couldn’t relate. When Ayurveda classmates were embracing Ganesh, I felt only slightly drawn. But when I saw this large sculpted elephantine figure carved out of dark green serpentine stone, I was captivated, our spiritual convergence at hand.
As I had done two years ago with an African figurine (both were found at the Tucson Gem Show), I first turned to a book* for a name. As soon as I saw the name and its short description as “Moon goddess and creator of all things,” it felt right.
I call her Mawu.**
She came from Zimbabwe.
As I sit with her, as I research her, evidence linking us is revealed.
The blend of sculpting an elephant from serpentine stone is a blessing, the properties of each an invocation upon the other, stone and symbol further stabilized and amplified by the sacred exaltation of Mawu.
Mawu is a Creation Goddess whose fecund energy interconnects with those of the elephant’s longevity and serpentine’s property of cellular regeneration.
Mawu’s symbols of seed and clay align with the elephant’s affinity to the earth, as a grounded and grounding Being, and with serpentine stone’s ability to assist in healing the earth through it’s association with elemental beings.
Mawu, “after creating the earth and all life and everything else on it, She became concerned that it might be too heavy, so She asked the primeval serpent, Aido Hwedo, to curl up beneath the earth and thrust it up in the sky.” In this respect, she is aligned with serpentine stone in its ability to work with the powers of Snake.
Mawu, a lunar goddess, “arrives on an elephant’s back, expectant with spring’s creative energy.” Within this mythology, she is clearly affiliated with the strength and feminine powers of Elephant.
Of particular interest to me, as I continue seeking ways to adjust to Desert Fire, is that Mawu “is the one who brings the cool nights to the hot African world.” This attribute is exceedingly welcome!
All three – Mawu, Elephant, and Serpentine – impart the quality of Wisdom.
There are many more healing and supportive qualities I need that flow between this symbolic and energetic representation of Goddess, animal, and stone. The above are just a few.
* Conway, D.J. The Ancient & Shining Ones: World Myth, Magic & Religion.
** Now, a sculpture from South Africa (Zimbabwe) carries the name of a West African (Benin) Goddess. The name Mawu is from myths told by people in the former Kingdom of Dahomey, now known as the Country of Benin, in West Africa. Benin borders Bekina Faso, which is where the sculptor who made my bronze figurine lives.
I love this phrase in one of Carrie Newcomer’s songs: “I am the fool whose life’s been spent // between what’s said and what is meant.” I find it honest and humbling; that as a writer (or even simply in my vocal communications with others) I am seeking to convey the authentic me and, through that process of honesty, to recognize the other and honor their journey as well as my own. Whether the Other is human or more-than-human matters not; all are equal, vital, precious, for we all rely upon each other for creating a vibrant — or tarnished — whole. The words can be perceived either as real reference or as metaphor, speaking of people or spirit, of Muse or Divine; they and we are interchangeable, depending upon each moment. A dream or a real moment?
When Newcomer sings the line, “There is a tree beyond this world // in whose ancient roots a song is curled,” I’m captivated by a deep knowing of this tree and song/story as both tangible and etheric. From the mythic Tree of Life beyond this world to the multiplicity of forest and woods harboring trees of mystery and diverse magnificence, that each tree has the potential to become ancient within its lifetime and containing the generational wisdom of all those who grew before it. When I next walk among the trees, will I see all the songs/stories nestled among the roots? Will they be whispering to me of what they’ve witnessed and experienced, the conversations they’ve heard of secrets because no one thought anyone was listening? Imagine if our world does exist upon an energetic template and that the “other world” is here in every moment? Imagine the energy flowing sweetly into feet, spine, heart as we hear the song of the universe?
Old dreams may not be meant to come true — perhaps they fulfilled their purpose by being unmet. Clinging to old dreams — the past is passed — doesn’t allow new ones to manifest. I write about old dreams, setting them free through stories, and thereby further my healing through knowing them on a deeper, higher level. People change; we all do, even if we resist seeing our change, because nothing remains the same. That’s a gift of hindsight. The one who desired the old dream is gone. Who is she now? Maybe parts of the dream remain the same, just as the innate nature of the person remains, but the composition has grown richer. It is a powerful experience to observe this, albeit scary at times.
The sand has shifted beneath us and as we rub the grit from the corners of our eyes, waking to the new day, our vision clears and our song is a fraction different, the breeze dances upon our skin with a fresh rhythm, and the taste of the orange peeking over the horizon is sweet again.
I slow down, ease up in chasing both day-dreams and night-dreams, opening instead like a flower that trusts this moment, knowing the dreams will reveal themselves to me when I cup my hands invitingly to catch them when they fall like mist-become-dew on delicate petals.
Being present does not necessarily mean one is to ignore the past or future but to be grateful for special days of remembrance and trust in plans for tomorrow. In another song of Newcomer’s, she sings to “frame my life by before and after.” Yet the frame is permeable and can be replaced or changed by the healing of our hearts so that what was tarnished is gleaming, what was chipped is mended, what was burnt is sanded and painted, what was deeply damaged is replaced with a new fragment from the gift of gratitude and forgiveness. We gather what has been scattered and create a charming, unique frame that shows our jagged journey to authenticity, love and wholeness … being a personal testimony to anyone who has been ashamed of their own raggedy, crooked frame.
The joy that is the background of my spiritual presence becomes more solid at the same time it is slipping away in the passage of this life, pouring through fingers that celebrate the river’s flow for what it is. The background of joy is the container for compassion and pleasure while holding just as much reverence for melancholy and death. This is the Divine within and surrounding me, holding my sadness and grief, transforming them when relevant into peace, happiness, and a little game of hopscotch being played by butterflies among the cosmos.
My light cannot be seen during the brightness of day, but at night, as I sit at an ancient scarred table in a small cabin with wax paper for windows instead of glass … there, the imaginary candle burns with a dancing magic of illumination upon my efforts.
We each reveal a unique balance — mine just happens to lean more within quiet night and soft glow of tiny candle flames resembling fireflies leading me down an invisible path. I trust and follow. What else can I do? To resist or conform to the glare of daylight brings dis-ease and spreads an oil-slick of crimson toxic wounds.
Even in my despair, I can’t give up on all these stumbling foolish souls who mirror my own human faults and I theirs … I have to trust that we all do our best amidst our joys and grieving, our roles and mysterious symbols dreamt behind the lenses of eyes blue or green or brown that echo a smile or frown or the pain that leaks out.
I remember the soft light of walks in forests dim where canopies hold their arms over my head in blessings falling on head and shoulders. Accept one’s nature and thrive. I feel my mouth widen, a smiling secret into the fading light of day where twilight takes over and breathes a dusky scent of relief, the sigh of restful peace turning into imagination where worlds expand beyond horizon or barrier of present world events to glorious potential future.
Presence is dangerous at times for the melancholy nature; the world becomes overwhelming. Did Snow White have the right idea when she naively succumbed to the wickedness and fell into dreamland until she was once more strong enough to awaken through a powerful love? We all need to sleep, to dream ourselves and the world into new possibilities. There is no shame in this, to die to the present moment so one can awaken renewed.
There is no shame when one lays claim to the shadows of familiarity, scribbling stories of possibility, by the dancing flames upon a sturdy tubular candle that a serpent winds around, spiraling up and down upon itself — I feel it inside, massaging joints, creating flow and encouraging movement of love, compassion, awareness, witnessing, imagination.
In the dark, by candlelight, there is a spark that lends the hand the will to write upon waiting parchment a story of what might be. What is be-coming.
There is a light in the window that can only be glimpsed at night.