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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.

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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

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.

Making Space for New Growth

As we settle into autumn and head into winter, I’ve generally found myself drawn into reflection about dying, whether in the form of loss of a lifestyle or people. How could I not when the seasons are revealing this process all around me? This beautiful song by Carrie Newcomer is one of my seasonal favorites; she sings how “leaves don’t drop, they just let go, and make a space for seeds to grow”:

Collective Effervescence

In her most recent book, Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown provides early on reminders of some of the key tenets from her previous books and provides her own definition of spirituality:

“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.” (P. 34)

Later, while Brown was writing about collective connection among people (and how to bring it more consciously, fully into our lives), I kept thinking as I read, but wait, what about the rest of the world in which humans are only one piece? And then she came to it: “collective effervescence.” (P. 130) Brown is still referring to human connection but, realizing that my connection is more often found among the more-than-human world of mountains, forests, and caves, of animals and the elements, this term she shares resonates deeply with me. It brings to the forefront my own way of connecting. Brown writes:

“Durkheim [who introduced this term in his 1912 book on religion] explained that collective effervescence is an experience of connection, communal emotion, and a ‘sensation of sacredness’ that happens when we are a part of something bigger than us.”

IMG_3417Granted, Brown and Durkheim are both referring to human gatherings around human constructs, but, for me, I was immediately lifted into those times when I was in nature, when awe propelled me out of myself. For instance, when I was at the top of Pike’s Peak in Colorado; people were milling around yet we all seemed enraptured by the majesty of the mountain top and the panoramic views. That was collective effervescence. Another time, I was on a tour deep in the Onondaga Cave and breathless silence permeated the cavern periodically as we observed the splendor within the “wilderness underground.” That was collective effervescence. I’ve experienced this nature-inspired awe and effervescence on my own more times than I can count, but Brown’s work reminded me that I can feel it in company with strangers and groups sometimes as well. Leasburg, MO

Perhaps this connection via nature (rather than human construct) happens more often for me because of my intense tendency toward introversion, a quality that means I seldom gather in large groups of social intention (like concerts, plays, sports, even movie theaters). But I will brave crowds in order to experience the divine magic of Nature, of Gaia’s beyond-human creation, wherein we are simply one species — a part of a greater whole.

Is Love Quantifiable?

NoelleHeartCat copyLove simply “is.” It is bigger than all of us because Love is Divine. Our human tendency, however, seems to be to rate it or quantify it or make it fit into one of our myriad boxes that make living both easier and more difficult for us.

How often have we been told “you don’t love me enough” or “you don’t love me as much as I do you” or variations on that theme? This makes no sense to me because Love is not human — Love is Divine. Love surrounds and permeates all life and shows up in infinite variety.

That’s not to say that we don’t have varying levels of attachment to people, animals, places, things, and even belief systems, but that isn’t Love — that’s a human construct aligned with personality.

Perhaps if we were less concerned with making Love a competition, we would experience its expansiveness, its all-inclusiveness?

 

Encounters with Toko-Pa

This — Encounters: Intimate Conversations on Belonging, with Toko-Pa — is a lovely FREE gift of audio recordings; the first two have been released and they are absolutely wonderful — soothing, evocative, and inspiring.

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.34.39 AM

Toko-Pa is offering this series of conversations in the context of pre-release of her book Belonging (that I’m looking forward to reading, since I’ve been nourished by her blog for a long while).

With this spiritual and psychological inner work of “belonging” in mind, I’m also reminded of the phenomenal audio collection Longing and Belonging presented by the incomparable John O’Donohue, who was a curator of Celtic Christianity through poetry and philosophy. I’ve listened to this 33-hour collection at least four times, and turn to it often as uplifting material.