Sunday, December 30, 2018

It Begins With a Call (Part 23): Writing My Way Into Healing

A week or so after returning from Topanga we went out on a Sunday morning to go to the farmers' market and found the car covered with ash from the fires in Lake County. The next day I worked to clear a heavily weedy area of our yard and began to cough.  This was the start of a new episode of new physical problems.  Back in the saddle again.

In the meantime, fires raged all over the state.  Fire, fire and more fire.  I understand that holding fire was something given to me in the last writers’ workshop with the teacher.  But it only now occurs to me that I don’t want to hold it in my lungs and airways.  

While reading a book the teacher recommended, a line leaped out and then rewrote itself for me – I write my way into healing.  This feels significant. Without writing I would never have come to this thought!

Over a month’s time, the symptoms changed and somewhat worsened.  At first it was an annoyance.  Now it became just plain difficult.  And scary.  My mother died of lung cancer, and it was not an easy death.  That isn’t where I want to go, and, of course, I realize I have no control.

This morning I turned to my SoulCollage® cards for guidance.  I pulled the one I call Emerging. 

The woman speaks first:  I am one who has been in the underworld.  I am now where the light is breaking through, almost out, and I am pausing here.  There is a large animal skull that is a gift I will carry out with me.  I have a staff that has helped to support me on my journey.  I look behind me, as Orpheus did, but I am not cursed to lose something.  What I see is the distance I have traveled.  I recognize where I have been.  I will honor the skull and my staff.  I have gained strength here.  The skull is ordinary and yet precious.  It, too, has a story.

The skull says:  I am one who has lived and died, but I have been preserved in this atmosphere.  Outside, I will eventually crumble into dust, but that will be okay, too.  I am not bound by emotions, instincts and the drives of living beings.  I am quiescent and at peace.  If I serve to remind you of something, I see that as a noble purpose I never sought.  It is pleasing.

The light says:  Come unto me!  You have served the dark.  Let me fall upon your pale flesh and bring you vitality and health.  You are going to enter a time of renewal.  All hail, all blessings!

The staff says:  I am one who has worked.  Let us rest now.  It is time for rest.  Not forever, but things must act and rest, act and rest.  If you can move from acting to resting, the dreams will return.

May it be so.  My dream life has been active but out of the reach of my memory.  I would like to shift that.

So, I will consider what it means to rest now.

I will also consider what it means to hold or carry fire, but not have it damage my body. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

It Begins With a Call (Part 22): Intensive's End

We've just returned from Hawaii (more to say on that later), and I see how that journey actually began six months ago with my time at the Healers' Intensive in Topanga.  Here are my reflections from then:

The quiet and the wind today are balms to my soul.  Sitting looking out over the canyon, another poem came:

This Earth Was Given

This earth was given.
Not to us.
It was not given to us,
It was just given,
Life arising out of itself,
Blazing forth,
Blossoming forth,
Birthed into being
For its own sake.

We are such fools
To think we own it,
Control it,
Master it,
As if it were here
For us and us alone.

No, it is here
Because it is here.
It is glorious because
It can be,
Generous because
That is its nature,
Beautiful because there is
No other way for it to be.

This earth was given,
As we were given.
And the only way
to be together
Is for us
To bow down.

We are reaching the end of our time together, and today are to spend some time integrating what we have learned about our mandate.  There are so many pieces, so many thoughts, insights, instructions and possibilities that it’s all a jumble.  What we clearly have, all of us, is devastating grief.

The teacher says she hears me speaking with more authority.  I consider her impressions of me from previous times here, and find them interesting.  She has seen me as hesitant, quiet, holding back.  Not how I see myself, except for the quiet piece.  I like to speak with an economy of words.  I grow impatient, as the teacher does not seem to, with those who speak endlessly.  I don’t like my judgmentalism, but there it is.  

I say, “Maybe I’m stepping more into the elder role.”  I think I have been hesitant because I’ve gotten the feedback that I have too strong a voice.  I’m one of those in Eve Ensler’s poem “who go too far and feel too much.”  Certainly, my mother tried to tone me down, calm me down, socialize me into acceptability.  I thought I’d gotten out from under that program, but perhaps it has snagged me again.  Maybe it’s time I stop worrying about how I come off and just say and do what I need to say and do.  I’d like to do it with a full and open heart, though.  Full of the fire of life and Spirit.

So, what are the threads? Elder. Grandmother. Grief.  Hawaii. Turtles. Whales. Plastic. (See Part 21).  Metabolizing or transforming energy.  Revitalizing the sacredness of the earth in my city, bleached dead like the coral in the sea.  Speak to the trees.  Plant a tree.  Carry fire.

I am one who wears the mantle of Elder.  I am one who carries and receives the blessings of fire.  I am one who is of the earth and who waters it with my tears.  I am one who is honored by and listens to the voice of Whale, who will not place Turtle between myself and danger.  I am one who will question my beliefs.  I am one who is blessed and who can bless (to quote Yeats) and I am one who will gratefully receive that blessing and inhabit the calling brought forth from it.  I am one who will use my voice and my words to be with Earth, Tree, Whale, Turtle, grandchildren, people in my path and on my path.

Whale asked me to say this poem of mine:

We need each other now.
We need each other now.
In truth, we always have.
But as things disintegrate,
as chaos and disorder reign,
we become like bones,
scattered and
stripped clean of all
that is inessential.
Let’s reassemble ourselves,
the way Isis did with Osiris,
or La Loba with her wolf bones.
Let’s find a new configuration,
this part mine, that part yours –
Perhaps something original
will emerge, or
something ancient.
Let’s light a candle now, friends,
so together we might see
how to begin.

So, if I walk out of here and out of this sacred canyon as Elder, what does that look like?  Carrying grief and the knowledge of demise that is unbearable.  Carrying fire and the tears that water the parched earth.  Carrying the charge of metabolizing the poisonous fires and vapors and of resacralizing the land.  Not putting Turtle between me and danger.  Trying to eliminate plastic as much as is feasible. 

And healing?  There is no healing in hospice, other than the healing of Spirit.  It is not about my healing, that is clear.

I began the week with a card reading.  It was profound.  The card for the past was Hygeia, healing.  The card for the present was Persephone.  She is always my present.  The future was one I call Bone Crone, looking towards very old age and mortality.  So, I decided to end the week with another reading.  The past card was Fatigue and Illness, the present was the Green Man, the living vital presence of the green world.  The future was Holding Hecate’s Torch.  In it, I stand with my partner as we look out to take the next step.  Hermes is above us, Hecate below, and I carry one of Hecate’s torches.  To me, that speaks of validation of my elderhood.  My blog is Hanging Out with Hecate.  I will hang with her still, She who witnesses, who is the companion.  I hold the flame.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Let It Open Me

Writing this from the Big Island of Hawaii, though the poem was written before we came.  I've been meaning to put it out, and I guess now's the time!  The photo is from our ohana on a mango farm in Captain Cook.

Let it open me –
            the pained lungs,
            the aching stomach,
            the morning sadness.

Let it open me –
            the small flock of birds winging west,
            the reach of the nearby redwood trees,
            the sound of children’s footsteps overhead.

Let it open me –
            the fears attending the aging body,
            the grief over a friend’s death,
            the water dripping through the ceiling.

Let it open me –
            the warmth of the bath,
            the sweet spiciness of morning tea,
            the flickering candles on my writing table.

Let it open me -
            this advice of
            the Buddhist teacher
            I read every morning.

This is the work –
            opening, opening, opening
            whether in pain and sorrow
            or in joy and gratitude.

She says - life is not for
            seeking safety and pleasure,
            nor for running from
            pain and suffering.

We must, I must,
            receive everything,
            breathe it in and
             let all of it
open me.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

It Begins With Call (Part 21): The Journey

We go into silence, and the teacher takes us into a trance journey.  She says to begin somewhere sacred and safe.  I often begin trance journeys at Mt. Shasta, but this time Hawaii showed up.  Not such a safe place, especially right now with new eruptions spilling over the land!  But then I thought of Honaunau, City of Refuge.  The ultimate safe place.

I begin at nearby Two-Step, the most wonderful nearby snorkeling spot, and the Fire Priestess comes and puts her hands over me, like on my card. 

I plant a small tree in offering.  Entering the sacred ground of the refuge, I need to ask permission from the ali’i to be there, and to apologize.  Because the Fire Priestess is with me, they grant it, telling me not to take anything and that I have to give my heart.  I am to touch the water and cleanse myself.  I walk past the heiau, out towards the ocean.  Whale invites me to go in the water.  I might have anticipated Turtle, but it is Whale. 

Whale speaks of the radiation from Fukushima, that they, the whales, take it into their bodies and transform it, and that I need to as well (or any air pollution).  I ask, “Won’t that just make me sick, and then die quickly before I’m of much use?”  The answer is, “You’re already taking it in, but you’re doing it unconsciously.”

Whale shows me how what is spewed into the air falls into the water (or, I suppose, onto the earth), and needs to sink all the way down into the earth, and then down to the core fires, which can consume it.

Whale explains that my city is just like the ocean’s dying coral – pollution and overcrowding has bleached the life force out of them both.  But even dead, the coral – and my bit of earth – is still sacred.  My charge is to re-sacralize, restore, reinvigorate my home place.

I review my notes afterward and find that the teacher had said something similar -  “When you find what is true, keep reinvigorating and dedicating it as true.”