Wednesday, September 16, 2015

In the Time of the Mysteries

The season turns, the days grow shorter, and I feel myself turning inwards as Persephone descends to the underworld.  It's funny how quickly it can happen.  Last week we had the hottest weather of the summer; this week is feeling like Fall.   (And may the blessed rains that are just barely beginning to sprinkle come and soothe this parched and fire-ravaged California earth.)

This is the time of year when the Eleusinian Mysteries were celebrated for several thousand years in Greece - initiation rites honoring Demeter and Persephone.

Last June, I made a promise to write four poems to Persephone this year.  Here's my second (still not happy with the first - I'm working on it).

There are a lot of poems where kindness is the theme.  I think of Naomi Shihab Nye's, for instance.  I'm just beginning to understand what treating myself with kindness really means.  Is that odd, at this late stage of the game?  I think to myself, "Well, duh," but that response demonstrates exactly the point - how easy it is to slip into self-talk that's anything but kind.

Here's the poem.  To you, Persephone!

The Way Through

Head tilted back,
Gaze lifted to the heavens -
The posture, in and of itself,
Causes spirits to rise.

But the One I honor
Is not in those realms above.
All the stories tell us
That She reigns below.

Under the earth?  
Not only that, but also
Beneath the surface
Of one’s own being -

The deep place which is
Hard to remember, hard to find,
Hard to acknowledge,
Hard to face.

The pulls of the surface world
Are strong and compelling.
Ascent into light is
A magnetic draw.

But following this goddess
Means agreeing to go into
Dark and buried places.
There is no escaping it.

I muse, is there no way
to both rise and descend? 
Are spirit glory and soul wisdom
Mutually exclusive?

“No!” She says. 
“The way of the life dream
Is to go deep and to rise,
To dwell and thrive

“In the paradox.
Come to the Dark One, 
And find the light.  After all,
I am the one who travels

"Between all the worlds.
 And one more thing –
the trickiest task of all -
Kindness must be the way through.

“To others, yes,
But above all, to yourself.
When you learn this,
You will truly find your way.”

My SoulCollage® card of Persephone

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


          In memory of Leona Tockey and Fay Distiller 

          I never saw wings on a person before.  Never even knew we had them.  And then I went to visit my friend who was dying.  Out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a gentle waving motion and something delicate and ethereal emerging out of her back.  By keeping my focus soft and my head moving from side to side, I could see that there were actually two configurations, one on each side of her body.  They were translucent, many-colored, segmented and beautiful.  They were large, I realized, but incomplete, unfinished. The furthest edges were fuzzy and faded away, but they grew as I watched; bits were joining onto the ends. 
            They appeared to be wings that were in the process of growing, but not by pushing out fully formed from the shoulder blades; they were being added onto at the tips. 
            I realized at that moment that my friend’s death would come when her wings were complete.  It would not be long.
            From then on, I have been able to see people’s wings, emerging from their backs.  The wings’ stages of development are completely independent of an individual’s age. But no matter the size, they are all beautiful and unique.
            I have since come to understand that a person’s wings are invisible to most people because they belong to the soul, which is also invisible, and whose true home is in the otherworld.  Every now and then someone’s vision opens up or refines itself in some unknown and unknowable way, and that person can see the wings.  Why, and why me, I have no idea.
            Apparently, the work of the soul in this world is growing these wings.  The soul then uses the wings to fly back into the otherworld at the end of the person’s life, and to display the beauty and particularity of this incarnation when it gets there. 
            Some babies have mostly-formed wings right away, and these beings are not in the world for long.  There is a simplicity and loveliness to these wings, and also a great sadness in witnessing them.  Seeing wings means discovering those who are close to leaving; their nearly complete wings give it away. 
            Every act of soul-making adds to one’s wings. Manifesting purpose, bringing beauty, being of service, giving life, overcoming obstacles – all of these things bring bits and blazes of color to the wings.   Even negative and harmful acts add to one’s wings.  These segments often appear dark or smoky. 
            A person’s history could be read in his or her wings, if only one knew how. 

            Interestingly, I cannot see my own wings, nor the wings of those closest to me.  I’m glad for that.  It would not be fitting or helpful to foretell the death of one’s mate or child.  I wouldn’t want to know, though I am curious by nature.  Of course, I do think about my own, though.  Sometimes I wonder,  “Would do anything differently if I knew how much time I had left?”