Archive for December 2012

Full Moon Reflection 2: More and Less   Leave a comment

Compassion has no religion.  Silence is not always indifference.  O great, listening, witnessing world, you too have something to say, something you always are saying, without words.  What comfort we can offer, miles and lives away from the families of the Sandy Hook school victims, and from other, newer sufferers since then, may consist of not filling the airwaves and spiritual spaces further, with our own shock or anger or sadness or dismay, or whatever other responses events may next provoke in us.  Even if we do not know the families or victims or any of those touched by an event, we may send sympathy, because we are not stones.  This is prayer, too.  But every turn of the world changes us because we’re in it together.  A great service is to love those who need love, and not merely to feel, to emote.  We can do more than relive pain, especially another’s pain, or make it ours.  Suffering needs no extra rehearsals, no practice.  There’s always more than enough to go around.

We’re not stones, but we may raise them into a cairn, a act that by its solidity and palpable weight can lift suffering even a little, if it may, stone by stone.  Let earth bear a portion of  the weight.  Allow this elemental power of Earth to transmute, to compost and transform, as it does all else that comes to it.  The turning of the year again toward light in the middle of winter, the planet doing again what the planet does each year, can be solace too, earth re-establishing its balance.  Soothing motion of the familiar, wordless touch with its animal comfort.  Moon growing again towards fullness, light on the world in the middle of darkness.

But sometimes we hate comfort.  Too often solace can reek of appeasement.  We stiffen.  One more easing is too many.  Intolerable.  Like words — already more than enough.  With no ready target we seek out whatever will serve, anything to shut up the noise, the roar of raw nerves jangling.  Anodyne.  Oblivion, even, at least for a while.

Grief is too steady a companion.  It knows us, it seems, deeper than a lover.  OK, we get it.  Pain too has something to say that will not be denied.  We make a place for it, and it moves in, gets comfortable, settles down for too long.  (How long is memory?  Is recollection what we consist of?  Do we relive, instead of living new? Does this become our only, instead of our also?)

When words do not do, I bring silence to the altar.  When I cannot pray, then that is my prayer, just the act of moving toward the altar, a center, a focus.

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The house has cooled overnight when I get up to write this.  In between the last two paragraphs, I open the door of the woodstove to put in another two logs.  In a turtleneck and sweats, I sit on the floor, feet toward the fire, with my laptop where its name says.  Warmth, says the body, unrepentant in loving what it loves.  Warmth too, radiating from the electrical current flowing through the machine I write with.  So little, but a little.  A start.

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Full Moon Reflection 1: “In every corner of my soul …   Leave a comment

“there is an altar to a different god,” wrote the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935).  Perhaps that’s some explanation for the often mercurial quality of being this strange thing we call the self, ourselves.  We can’t easily know who we are for the simple reason that (often, at least) we aren’t just one thing — we consist of multiple selves.  We’re not individuals so much as hives of all our pasts buzzing around together.  Whether you subscribe to the reality of past lives or see it as a possibly useful metaphor, we’re the sum of all we’ve ever been, and that’s a lot of being.  And with past lives (or the often active impulses to make alternate lives for ourselves within this one through the dangerous but tempting choices we face) we’ve known ourselves as thieves and priests, saints and villains, women and men, victims and aggressors, ordinary and extraordinary.  When we’ve finally done it all, we’re ready to graduate, as a fully-experienced self, a composite unified after much struggle and suffering and delight.  All of us, then, are still in school, the school of self-making.

Doesn’t it just feel like that, some days at least?!  Even only as a metaphor, it can offer potent insight.  The Great Work or magnum opus of magic, seen from such a perspective, is nothing more or less than to integrate this cluster of selves, bang and drag and cajole all the fragments into some kind of coherence, and make of the whole a new thing fit for service, because that’s what we’re best at, once we’ve assembled ourselves into a truly workable self:  to give back to life, to serve an ideal larger than our own momentary whims and wishes, and in the giving, to find — paradoxically — our best and deepest fulfillment.  “He who loses himself will find it gain,” said a Wise One with a recent birthday we may have noticed.  We all learn the hard way, for the most part, because it’s the most profound learning.  Certainly it sticks in a way that most book learning alone does not.

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The Druid Dialogs: Aithne, Part 3   Leave a comment

[Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9]

In our last conversation, Aithne had said nothing about needing my help.  All this stuff about ancestors and bloodlines, and now I was wondering about that piece.  Had she forgotten?  But even if she did need me in any way, how could I really help?  After several decades of living, I have a pretty clear sense of my talents and abilities.   It wasn’t false modesty that told me both Rosmert and Aithne could certainly handle challenges and obstacles I couldn’t.  Wasn’t that why they were teaching me, and not the other way around?  There’s an innate order to things that we ignore at our own peril but that we can also learn to our advantage — that’s one of the foundations of my worldview.  I guess when I thought about it that I saw helping others along the path is a form of payback, or maybe paying it forward.  It’s a way to show gratitude, a way to keep the heart open.  Gratitude feels good.  Just do it.

So it was when all of this was still spinning through my brain that Aithne appeared again.  It had been more than a few days since  I’d tended to my Sacred Grove.  The excuse doesn’t matter; it’s a poor one.  But shortly after I returned, there she was.   But she certainly was not dressed the same this time.  Biker chick was all I could think:  leather jacket, torn and faded jeans, bandanna, dark glasses, snake tattoo on her neck, even chains.  Again she was gazing off into the distance, and when she turned toward me she took off the sunglasses and winked.

“You ready?” she asked.

“For what?” I replied.  That was Aithne, I was beginning to understand.  Small talk rated low among her priorities.  And it was rubbing off.

“A ride,” she said.  “I’ve got an ’86 Harley Sportster, 1100 cc’s.  Want to try it out?”

And that was how, maybe an hour later, Aithne and I were roaring down a little-traveled country road that arrowed flat and straight toward the western  horizon.  After a series of lessons, practice runs, one spill and a bruised right knee, I felt reasonably confident handling the heavy machine.  I wasn’t ready for a lot of traffic yet, but the basics were coming along nicely.

“We’ve got clear road,” she said.  “Let’s open it up for a couple miles.”

The big bike still ran smooth when we topped 80 mph.  I eased back on the throttle, listening to engine as it lost the high-pitched whine of speed. A few minutes later we were sitting on the side of the road, sipping Gatorade.  Aithne was studying a ladybug on a blade of grass she held in both hands.

“You can help me, you know,” she said.  “We need you healthy for the work, and for your part which only you can do.  That’s your focus for now.  Get healthy, and balanced.”

“I wanted to ask you about that.  What can I do?”

“You can begin again.”

“Begin what?”

“You’ve completed another spiral.  The next months may look familiar, but they aren’t the same thing that’s come before. Pay attention to what they can show you.”

“But what am I supposed to be looking for?” I asked.

Aithne paused and looked at me for a moment.

“You’re thinking about quitting your job after this academic year.  You’re wondering how little you can live on if you do, how much food you can grow for yourself back in Vermont.  Those aren’t bad things by any means, but your principal focus needs to go beyond that.  Those aren’t ultimately pathways to the next two decades.  You’re looking at surviving.  I’m talking about thriving.”

“After the last couple of years, surviving looks pretty good to me.”

“And it is,” she said.  “We had to work with your wife to get you to that surgeon in Baltimore.  You weren’t listening when you most needed to.  Fortunately, she was.  So you survived the shift, you kept this body through the turn.  You’re still here, and the ancestors aren’t finished with you in this life yet. You’re on commission.  Did you know that?”

“Commission for …  for what?”  I stuttered. “Can I have some clarity just once about what I’m supposed to be doing?”

“You’re confusing clarity with looking back on a path you’ve already walked,” she said.  “So often you can know by going.  And for as long as you’re here, you’ll find that’s one of the things time’s for.”

And then I was back in my living room.  The clock said 9:48 pm.  It had been a long day, and I had much to think about.

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Updated 23 April 2015

The Druid Dialogs: Aithne, Part 2   Leave a comment

[Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9]

“The  Blood of Veen is a key to new insights for you,” said Aithne.  “Your ancestors reach you through the body — your body.  You carry them with you wherever you go, in your cell memory, your DNA, your genetic coding, and the energy signatures scientists are just on the edges of discovering, which are part of the bonds that link the physical body to the other worlds.”

“So how does the Blood of Veen connect with me personally?”

“If you visit a place where your ancestors lived, you may have a dream or vision that teaches you something you need to know.”  Aithne stood gazing a little above my left shoulder, or head, as if she was watching something move there.  “Veen is in the province of Brabant.”  She paused, apparently studying empty air.  “And some of your mother’s ancestors came from that region,” she added.  Aithne’s knowledge startled me.  One of my mother’s aunts had traced much of the family line back to medieval France and Belgium.  Some of her ancestors came from Brabant, including a noble named Joscelyn de Louvain, when Brabant was a Duchy.  (Don’t get the wrong idea here. I have my full share of black sheep in the family, too!)  And Louvain is a city in Brabant — its capital, in fact.

“But I can’t just pick up and visit Brabant or anywhere else in the world at the drop of a hat! Most people don’t have the time or money to track down their ancestors in other countries or take some sort of reincarnation tour.”

“You don’t need to,” said Aithne, ignoring my flash of irritation.  “Pictures can help.  And there are online forums where you can ask questions and find out detailed information about almost anything you want to know.  Let your curiosity work for you. After all, how much time do you waste online as it is?!”  Her sudden smile was teasing.  “Make the first move, and the ancestors will respond.  You’ll have a dream, find a book, ‘happen’ to meet someone, make a connection.  They will guide you.”

Somehow it surprised me that Aithne knew these things.  While I’ve come to expect my inner experiences to bring me general insights and hints and nudges on occasion, whenever I receive specific information it still surprises me.  A few years ago in a dream I got the name of a small British town in Devon where some of my father’s family originated.  I’d never heard of it before, and it no longer exists today.  For that reason I know that no one in my family had ever mentioned it.  But there are archaeological records and mentions of the town in chronicles and censuses of the period showing that it once did exist.

That was the outer confirmation of an inner experience.  Such validation doesn’t always come, but when it does, I feel a shiver of awe and wonder.   These things are real.  The worlds link however briefly, and lives change as a result.  I know this, I’ve experienced it before enough time to silence any doubt, but my inner doubter doesn’t care.  He’s achieved pro status by this point, and just goes about pointing out sly new possibilities of self-deception.  I guess my ancestors have to be pretty patient with me to get through at all.  I often think they must find other descendants more worth their time.  Then I remember they’re working outside of time — at least outside of my time.  They can afford a little patience with the stubborn and half-deaf ones like me.

Aithne seemed to be following my thought.   She was nodding slightly, and then she said,  “Sometimes the act of inquiring leads you to new people and experiences that are beneficial for everyone involved.  You know this,” she said.

“I’ll return one more time,” she said.  “We have a few more things to discuss.”

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Updated 23 April 2015

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