No Longer Forgotten

Maybe this is partially the reason that I felt so compelled to explore further and further into my family’s roots, so that the ancestors would no longer be forgotten but instead honored.

“The dead remain part of the human community. We can call on them for guidance, inspiration, and support. They become ancestors who guide and protect their line … and provide help in acquiring skills they may have had.” ~ Starhawk

There are many Grandmothers in my lineage, named and unnamed, that I intend to call into presence for remembering and healing our relationship. One line is that of Clarisy Jane Maddy of Tennessee, my third great-grandmother, back to her great-grandmother Ann Morris (married Maddy, then Parsons) of West Virginia, who in her elder years was a healer called “Granny Parsons” and deeper back into time from her.

Clarisy Jane Maddy

Clarisy Jane Maddy

 

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My Birth-Species

I’ve been wanting to write about what I comprehend as one’s Birth-Species. How does that affect our lives when we understand that maybe our previous life incarnation was as a different species than our current human one? How does it relate to our ancestors in other species? To our human ancestors? If we feel closer to our Foster-Species or Adoptive-Parent-Species, than to our human species, how can ancestral dialogue heal these strange (or maybe not so strange) dichotomies?

Grandma Old PhotoAs I research and explore my human ancestors, near and distant — i.e., my Birth-Species — through family history records and genealogical tracings, I feel a multitude of emotions coursing through me — from elation to shame, from fascination to aversion. How do I heal this connection to those people in my bloodline, my body-line?

Yesterday, I listened to an audio recording with Dr. Daniel Foor of Ancestral Medicine, a guest on the limited-time-access interview series titled “Remembering the Truth of Who We Are.” Of all the marvelous people and topics within this series, I felt the strongest resonance with what Dr. Foor was saying about connecting with and healing our spiritual relationships with our ancestors … probably because I’ve been immersed these past two years in writing a family history and genealogy book.

I found myself asking whether Ancestral Medicine and its healing work address some of the discomforts I’ve felt regarding my Birth-Species and my life? Could it help a tendency toward misanthropy? Will it open new insights about feeling closer to more-than-human animals than to other humans? Can it build bridges within families? Could it heal the blame-shame cycle around human atrocities like genocide and slavery? Will it offer a new perspective for those who feel our Birth-Species doesn’t resonate with our Soul? Can it provide a fresh lens upon meeting our ancestors with the intention of compassion instead of avoiding humans because that feels so anthropocentric and separate from the whole of life that is Gaia and our Biosphere? Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 11.20.30 AM

As I listened, I realized that Dr. Foor offered some of the guidance I’ve been seeking in connecting with my human ancestors. I’ve been a seeker on a spiritual earth-path for more than three decades, but only recently realized that the chasm between me and my Birth-Species ancestors is a block to my further growth and evolution … and, thus, a block to healing self and others. I’ve ordered his book Ancestral Medicine. You can find some of his free talks HERE.

May we all be at Peace.

Sisterhood

Brigid at Imbolc 2018On this holy day of Imbolc, a seasonal cycle dedicated to Brigid – whether one understands her as Goddess, Saint, or both – I find that someone else’s voice speaks my thoughts more clearly than I can in this moment, as she writes of Brigid’s Sisters:

“One of the wonderful things about practicing a Goddess-based spirituality is that she doesn’t demand monogamy–or, I should say, monotheism. Ours is not a jealous deity but an embracing one, with 10,000 aspects of powerful female divinity. Exploring these aspects allows you to connect to your own cultural roots as well as those that speak to you for reasons that remain a mystery–perhaps a past life, or perhaps just a need your soul has on its journey in this lifetime. The many goddesses provide doorways to understanding yourself, the world, and the cosmos. Just as women support each other as sisters, Brigid too has sisters among the goddesses–some by traditional associations and some by affinities of purpose.” ~ Lunaea Weatherstone in Tending Brigid’s Flame

This perspective is a simple, joyful one that is mirrored when I consider the women who are my friends and life-sisters. They are women I’ve grown up with in school and learned with through work, and been immersed with in spiritual practice; these reveal traditional associations. They are women I’ve met through rescuing animals and learning natural healing modalities; these express affinities of purpose. I also have sisters in the more-than-human world of dogs and cats, and know that those who have died are watching over me. I have unseen kindred spirits beyond the earthly realm and those who have touched my soul through their words in writing or on screen.

Brigid is Goddess of the hearth (homemaking, cooking, caring for those in her home), creative voice (poetry, writing, stories, song), and sacred space for healing (devotions, prayers, contemplation, solitude, sanctuary), just to name a few of her varied and wide-spread aspects. In hearth-keeping, for instance, she is sister to the Greek Hestia; in creative expression and learning, she is sister to the Hindu’s Saraswati; in temple and healing (including soul-healing), she is sister to Mawu.

Brigid has many sisters as do I.

I’ve received an abundance of blessings … I say grace …

Do you wonder?

Do you ever wonder what a cave might feel when humans spelunk their way down into its deeper recesses?

Skotino Cave in Crete ARTISTO effects

the entrance to Skotino Cave in Crete

Let’s imagine you are snug in your bed at midnight during a cloudy, dark-moon night. All is silent and stygian in your bedroom, your sanctuary, your cave. You are dreaming worlds into potential being, sorting through complexities, allowing unnecessary detritus to be washed away so that new structures of life and relationships can be formed — perhaps a cave is doing this, too.

Then, a noise awakens you! Who is this intruder?

Would you hide deeper under the covers; would the cave’s walls recede oh so slightly? Would you leap up and confront the intruder; would the cave drop some rocks? Would you peek out from your covers and watch in curiosity as the intruder crashes into a side table or blunders up against a low hanging lamp? Would you be blinded by his bright light shone into your eyes? Would the soft scuffle of his shoes sound like gravel on a tin roof? Would you cry as the intruder breaks the antique vase your great-great-grandmother made before she emigrated? Would the cave cringe at the chaos of human intruders and weep at the destruction of delicate curly helictites that took thousands of years to create?

And what of those we call show caves? Can you imagine crowds of people walking through your home, pointing and gawking and touching, day after day, year after year for decades when you had been a hermit for a million years? What would you feel?

Maybe this isn’t something you’ve ever considered before, but can you imagine it? Perhaps we ought to approach Gaia in all her guises with more reverence?

More people are becoming aware these days of how little we understand when it comes to the living, breathing, sentient world around us. Shamans have always known and have been sharing their wisdom. Writers from the philosopher David Abram to the plant-spirit-healers Stephen Harold Buhner and Pam Montgomery to the myth-teller Martin Shaw all speak of how alive our landscape is and that we are witnessed by as much if not more than we observe.

Imagine you live in a land where magic travels beneath the earth in a vast maze of channels. Legends of lost treasure permeate the culture for somewhere below this very ground lives TildTe and many other mysterious beings. Pause and listen with the soles of your feet to the milk dripping from stalactite breasts; feel the pulse of aquifer currents hidden from view, sparkling with fantasies of dreams come true. Wonders are sensed as veins open into chambers of breathtaking beauty. These are places of deep transformation and sacredness.

Imagine walking with cautious step into a hillside to venerate an underground cathedral created a hundred thousand years ago for the sheer joy of creation. Imagine the journeys possible within the body of Gaia; we are inside her, she breathes us different here, sometimes as wind, other times as water. Here below is the Otherworld, where spirit roams unhindered by human construct or restriction. The treasure so many have sought, they could not see, for TildTe’s caves are an opportunity for our souls to embrace the hidden lace of our own frailties. Wriggle on your belly through a narrow channel until the clay oozes into every crevice of clothing and skin and then, suddenly, you feel as if you’re in outer space, nothing touching you, and a cavernous room has opened up around you, your light a meager ineffectual glimmer that has no chance of penetrating the darkness a short distance ahead. Trust comes ventilating through your aura and you stand, and step carefully, for with a single print you could destroy a treasure of inestimable worth and wonder that has taken thousands of years to create.

Simply the knowledge of what lies beneath us is enough to cause a bow of humility and gratitude.

Awen

purple tree cleft dec 2017Imagine all the voices

through which the Divine

speaks and sings

to us as we wander our choices

and pluck their strings.

She sprinkles notes of song-ly stardust

across Akashic parchment.

Our cells hum the ancestors and

our blood rushes to meet our soul’s past lives.

The owls hoot of darkness met and

the hind^ daintily whispers of what is yet — to come.

pine tree ghost together with ivy oak DEC 2017Dogs and cats murmur into our necks

melodies of tales of long forgotten treks,

while the pine needles burst with

scintillating lyrics of creations to make.

Her sacred voice is All. Awen.

“the Awen [is] the living energy that stands behind the form” *

_______________

*from Martin Shaw’s book Scatterlings

Upon Hill, Within Forest

TildTe is the Crone Goddess of this fragment of the Ozarks. She strides out of the caves  or pushes up from the soil when the moon is dark, although she can wander for many days and nights above ground. Her bones are sharp chert and smooth stalagmite, and they are wrapped in the strong roots of oak and hickory. Her womb holds the waters of innumerable springs. She is the Spirit of the hills and so is ever leaning forward or backward, and she avoids the bottoms which are the domain of her sister. Her hair is a tangled nest of wild grape vines woven together with daisies and clove currant. Her cloak is verdant moss stitched together by pine needles and her skirt is a patchwork of various leaves dependent upon the season. She smells of stardust and hummus, feels like grandmother’s embrace, and has a voice that sounds like deer prints upon fall leaves at dawn. Sometimes TildTe is small enough to ride the backs of silver squirrels as they leap from the highest branches; other times she is the giant with a full grown black bear tagging at her heels like an unweaned puppy. She could be standing outside your doorway right now. There she is! Blessed Be!

Mending

Grandma Quilt Flower Garden aMending this tattered human cloak made from particles of ancestral memories quilted together. Tiny stitches nearly invisible; colorful patches of flowers and the ears of cats lying in wait; embroidered whispers woven into the edges. Mending a life brings in past and welcomes future. This mending is a healing journey. No new clothes unworn; seek the softness of frayed memories upon skin and breathe in the stone-washed shimmer of a resilience not easily wrapped around bones and flesh. Goddess spoke to these women through the stains and strains of life. Like tangled roots reaching down into the hidden caves, the fingers of ancestors – old crooked knuckles move in rhythm with unlined plump digits – touch and soothe, plucking loose threads and darning raggedy connections, bringing the pieces together again.