Saturday, February 28, 2015

Finding Our Way Home

When I begin to plan my annual Persephone Rising event, I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about what has been up for me.  One theme has been the importance of place.  Deena Metzger (yeah, I know - I'm stuck on the work I did with her) said that the 20th century was one of exile and displaced persons.  Being rooted in a particular place is not a given for us.  Most of us do not live where our ancestors are buried and do not have that long history of being steeped in place and rooted in the land.  So, this idea will definitely be part of the focus this year.

Here's a new poem.  It's called Olly Olly Oxen Free

Olly olly oxen free!
Come home –  you are safe!
It is time to set foot
            on the sacred ground
            of your home place.

Your place is here.
Your time is now.
You have walked, ridden,
            tramped, traveled,
            run, flown and sailed
a long while and
a long way to get
            to this place.
Here you can rest,
            sink down roots,
            plant trees for future generations,
            surround yourself with whatever security
is possible in this life.

Yes, you have had to
            find it yourself.
There is no map, no manual,
            no guide, no GPS to get here,
            no matter what you were told.
But, come!  Touch base!
This is the seat of longing
that has been summoning you.
You may call it home.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Pathless Path

Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.

Traveler, there is no road,
you make the road by walking.
                                   - Antonio Machado

There is a longing in me for a way, a home, a way home, for a container full of meaningful ritual passed down from the ancestors and the companionship of others.  And yet, every time I have come close to that, I have balked, left, rejected it or ejected myself.   This life has been one of el caminante quien sabe que no hay camino. 

Machado understood the pathless path.  He must have had similar longings. (  He dreamed of water, beehives, fiery suns and God in his heart.  He chose to see these dreams as illusions.  But what if they aren’t and the dreams really are delivering the goods?

There is no road, no path to lead you into your heart to find these things.  And perhaps no path is needed – only an opening.  It is as though you – I - wander around looking for what we have all along.  Don’t all the mystics say that?

But we are caught in a concept of walking a path, stuck in a construct of linear time.  If only we could lay that all down at the altar of the heart.  If only we could de-throne the mind.  If only the mind itself would abdicate its rule, saying, “Here is the orb and the crown.  Heart, I bequeath them to you.  You are much more fit to rule.”

And the fountain in the heart would flow without end.  The bees would work at their honey-making.  The sun would radiate warmth and bring tears to our eyes, and God (Goddess, Source, the Mystery) would be there.  The pathless path would meander in and around the gardens of the heart, circling, spiraling, not needing to go or arrive anywhere.

And the heart would say, “Come home!  All is forgiven!”  And you would.  You would dwell there, not needing to seek anymore.  Only to lean out and look at the colors and waves and people and trees.  To know that where you are is where the worlds touch, where all is possible, and nothing needs to be done.

It may not be obvious from this post, but I am beginning to ferment ideas for this Spring's Persephone event for women.  Things are bubbling away in the dark.  We will see what emerges. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I've been thinking a lot about living in the borderlands (continuing on from recent posts).  I think I may be sticking with this theme for a while.  And it relates to the theme of the importance of place that Deena Metzger raised in the workshop I went to this fall.  Today, out of the blue (which is often how poems come to me), I wrote the following:

feeling untethered
and unraveling,
I found myself
at the edge
of a great void,
toes jutting out
into emptiness,
breath caught
in my chest.
I couldn’t help
but peek over.
All I saw was
nothingness, and
fear gripped my heart
and squeezed.

Slowly and carefully,
I exhaled and
forced my feet to
shuffle back
onto solid ground.
Since that time
I have mostly
stayed safely away
from the edge.
I knitted myself
back together.
But I live now
on the fringes,
not far from
the precipice.

Why do I do this?
Living close to my fear is also
living with the brightest, deepest,
most vibrant colors.
This is where
my people are.
This is where
I have made my home.
This is where
the intensity of living
beats most clearly.
Living in the
borderlands requires
all we have and
all we are.
Where else
should I be?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Putting Pieces of the Puzzle Together

While delving into Deena Metzger’s Writing for Your Life as I sat to write my morning pages, I ran across this statement:

The underworld, the realm of soul making is the site of the chthonic creative forces.  One descends to the underworld in order to gain wisdom through encountering the dead and the most primal powers.

Deena’s work continues to inform me; not only the book, but also the workshop I went to in October.  You can tell that a workshop has been worth your time when it’s still working on you several months later.  I feel as though there are a number of puzzle pieces that are starting to fit together for me(and, boy, that always feels good). 

One of the exercises Deena gave us (after doing a lot of other writing) was filling in this blank, “ I am the woman who______________.”  What came for me was: I am the woman who lives with pollution and beauty.  Nothing like sitting in the tension of the opposites!  (There’s a lot I could say about this, but this is a blog and that would be a long discourse.)  Another piece Deena had us consider was:  What is the story you’ve been given to carry?  Well, the Persephone story has been with me for most of my life.  And who is she but the one who must travel between realms and find some balance?  She certainly lives in the tension of the opposites.  Puzzle pieces fitting together.

And here is another one.  My dream group periodically invites Jeremy Taylor to come and speak and work dreams with us.  He came in December, and it was my privilege to be the one whose dream we focused on.  I won’t relate the whole dream, but it had to do with potential travel in small boats, a deep lake in a quarry, and a talk with a friend about our sadness over Angeles Arrien’s death.  Jeremy eventually interpreted the dream as my being in the borderlands and receiving an invitation to visit the land of the dead.  Not a literal death for me, but rather a shamanic call.  I’ve been chewing on that one ever since.  Of course, it relates to Persephone, but otherwise I couldn’t really get a grip on it until I went for a psychic reading and asked about it.  She said that that we might call it death or simply a different reality and transition point, that I am able touch it to get some of its wisdom and also to connect with some of the brilliant beings that have left the physical world, who are still there and who have wisdom to offer. It is an invitation to find a different way to connect to that place, not just look at it from afar, but be close enough to it to sense what it is trying to offer me.  Now this is beginning to make some sense.

Then, this morning, I began to write about this idea – and the name of the blog – of hanging out with Hecate.  Hecate is certainly a borderlands figure, the only one close enough to hear Persephone’s cries as Hades took her down.  Hecate is the one who eventually chooses “to precede and follow” Persephone as she travels between the worlds.

Hecate has three faces in Greek artistic representations.  She stands at the crossroads.  Ever since the move to Oakland and all the big changes in my life, I’ve used this image of hanging out with Hecate as one of waiting, of not knowing which road to take next.  Today, I thought - what if it isn’t that at all, at least not now?  What if it’s an image of hunkering down in the borderlands, of being okay with staying there?  Maybe hanging out with Hecate isn’t waiting to choose a path.  Maybe sitting here, in the tension, IS the path.  In other words, I don't need to wait for the time when Hecate gives me the sign to go one direction or another.  It is perfectly okay to be in this place, with her.  

If Jeremy is right and I have received an invitation, I need to decide whether or not to accept it.  When enough pieces of the puzzle come together that the picture begins to come into focus, it makes sense to acknowledge the aha.

Okay, here’s an aside.  This work, this writing, really bespeaks the mythopoetic to me.  Barry and I got into an interesting discussion the other night.  He had just come back from a storytelling house concert that he thought was wonderful.  We love going to storytelling festivals and events, but one thing we’ve noticed is how little overlap there is between attendance at storytelling gigs and mythopoetic ones.  We enjoy both, but apparently we’re in the minority. Both forms fall into the category of oral tradition, so why do proponents tend to gravitate towards either one or the other?

One of the answers we came up with is that storytelling, although it may be instructive or inspiring, is meant to entertain.  Nothing wrong with that!  The intention of mythopoetic work, on the other hand, is to deepen, to take us into the realm of soul-making.  I should probably define what I mean by “mythopoetic.”  It’s not in common usage, I realize.  I could say that it’s what Michael Meade, Robert Bly and Clarissa Pinkola Estes have given us, and what we will be doing this weekend at Rumi's Caravan, but that doesn’t define it.  What I mean by it (others may have their own definitions) is the use of myth, story, poetry to open and inspire the imagination for the purpose of inner exploration and soul-making.  As Deena says, to gain wisdom.  

 (My Hanging Out with Hecate SoulCollage® card)