When I was a young girl, we always went to my grandmother’s house for Christmas eve. She had a lot of magical old-fashioned decorations and we would gather in the formal living room and drink eggnog made with real whipping cream and sing Christmas carols. Over the mantle of the fireplace, a very large portrait hung of my great-great grandmother. Born in 1820, she lived to be 100, and this year is the 100th anniversary of her death. I was named after my grandmother who was named after her. And I even have features like her – high forehead, small chin and cheeks, long nose, and blue-gray eyes. I learned recently she went by her middle name Eliza. Now she resides in my dining room and has been there for the last 35 years.
The funny thing is, she is SO BIG in my house that she became largely invisible to me. When I printed 4×6 pictures of a lot of my other ancestors to frame and gather for an ancestor altar, I didn’t print one of her. And when I started a class working with ancestors in June, Eliza didn’t come to mind much until recently. Which is so odd really, based on how much she is literally in my life. I walk by her every day. Lately though, she has been coming to mind a lot and she clearly wants to be heard.
She lived in Port Royal, VA, was the wife of the town doctor and had 5 children. She was 41 when the civil war exploded all around her. A family story says that her youngest son, my great-grandfather, was crying in the basement of their house while it was being shelled by the Union army. And this portrait of her was stored down there too. Until today, I never thought that Eliza must have been with him. What was it like for her? Her husband had left to be a surgeon in the big hospital in Richmond during the war, leaving her alone to protect her children in the middle of combat. I wonder so much about her life during those years in the middle of more chaos than we can possibly imagine. Did the war silence her or release her voice? Did it crush her soul or make her stronger? Or both?
In this portrait, she is a young woman of about 20, not yet married, with her life ahead of her… waiting. I like to think that she was a spirited young woman behind the strictly shaped curls and the barest of smiles. That she longed for passionate love and swooned over roses. Did she desire to be something other than what society allowed her to be at the time? Certainly, she had no idea she would be in the middle of a war zone some 22 years hence.
What is her message to me now, in the last month of the year of the 100th anniversary of her 100th birthday, at the winter solstice and a great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter as a Christmas star? It is like I am hearing her voice across the years, like she is my grandmother whispering in my ear at bedtime. I seem to hear her say: “Wait and listen, and the land will let you know what to do. Always be a mother first, and last. Everything needs mothering. Find time to rest and let the earth rest. She was so tired after that war.”
In 2014 I created an artwork titled “Waiting”. There is a feeling that resonates for me between this image and Eliza’s portrait. Like they both are waiting with open hearts for what wants to be born. To let seeds that are dormant, while still vibrantly alive, germinate and gestate. Seeds that are sleeping and resting and waiting, held on the wings of angels, as we approach the winter solstice and Christmas. May we be able to follow her lead and rest also, even if only for a day or two, as we wait for what wants to unfold.
Another chemical explosion in our valley greeted me the morning of December 9th, 2020. Another wake-up call. In the past I have been lulled into thinking we no longer have pollution issues in our valley, that the chemical plants have been cleaned up, that most of them have moved to Houston, and that our water is clean now.
When I was a child, some days, depending on the wind direction, we would wake up in the morning to an awful chemical smell. It was just “normal”. The nickname for our area was Chemical Valley. Later when it became “not normal” we would still have alarm sirens go off every so often, and many areas of the valley had to shelter in place. Everyone acted like it was normal and being trusting by nature I asked few questions. I did not let myself feel and see the deepest issues of the harm being done, including likely to my own health as I was “sickly” as a child from age 3 to 8. It was way too big for me to do anything about and so I shoved it aside, ignored it and mostly dismissed it. Right in my own town of Charleston, WV.
A recent post by Clark Strand titled “The Summer of Love” about the Superfund site in his hometown triggered an interesting reaction. First, I felt “oh wow, how awful. Glad I didn’t grow up somewhere like that.” And then I realized I did. A vague memory of “I think we had a Superfund site here”, came first. Which we did- I googled it and the name came back to my memory – Fike Chemical.
Then, I realized another layer of the ramifications in my life of an incident here in our valley in January of 2014. That month we made national news because of a chemical spill that happened 1.5 miles upstream from the water intake for the water supply for nine counties of 300,000 people. And there was no backup intake. A bizarre licorice smelling odor came through the water pipes. We were instantly in the middle of a water crisis and had to use bottled water for drinking and bathing for weeks. The chemical was technically “non-hazardous”, as it didn’t kill fish, but several dozen people got sick, and no one wanted to drink the nasty smelling water or be a guinea pig. And we learned a lot about how little testing is done to determine a chemical is “non-hazardous”.
For me, it was more personal. I was the owner of our family insurance agency, and Freedom Industries, the owner of the tank farm that leaked, was my client. Even though I wasn’t responsible to make sure their tanks were safe, I still felt somehow guilty, like I was a bad person for insuring them and having them as a client. And while I had increased their coverage and finally got them to purchase pollution coverage a couple of years before, it was only $3 million of coverage. A drop in the bucket of the actual damages. I was also afraid I would be drawn in legally, and potentially lose our business, or that the news outlets would find out I was the agent and drag me into the news. I did have to testify in court. It was all too much, and it was the final straw in my decision to sell part of the family insurance business later that year.
I realized on a new level after Clark’s post, what a pivotal turning point that water crisis was for me. Not only did it start the process of selling the family business that was no longer viable for several reasons, but I see now, it was also the point in time where I started allowing myself to fully see the depth of the environmental problems created by so many industries, rather than only seeing the economic benefits of how many jobs it was creating and how it was helping the economy. Raised by a small business owner, a very good-hearted father, this was always gospel; people need jobs and they need to earn a decent wage, this is how the economy grows. This chemical spill allowed me to start really seeing what was still being shoved under the rug. I started really opening my eyes and asking questions. I could finally see the longer story of the Land itself that supports us only if we support Her. The Freedom Industries water crisis was a gift of new eyes for me, to see our Earth as a gift we must care for so She can care for us.
Today, December 19th, everyone has already forgotten this recent explosion, except of course, the family and friends of the man who died. It hurts to see and to be reminded of the ongoing danger some of the long-time businesses of this state still expose the land and all Her beings to. A lot of work has been done to make them safer and cleaner since the 1980’s, especially after the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984, which garnered a lot of attention because we had a plant here that produced the same chemical. But incidents continue to happen and remind us of the incredible cost to ourselves and our environment to produce these dangerous chemicals that our industrialized world requires. There is so much beauty in this state with more forests, mountains, rivers, and less people than most places these days. It is a true reservoir of natural beauty, in the middle of several major metro areas in surrounding states, a place that people from those areas can escape to and rest. We must keep healing this land for the next generations. The Earth has more capacity for healing than we know, especially with a little more help from us. I keep watching the vultures and the vines who are nature’s cleanup crew, watching how to follow their lead because they know how to dig in and clean up what has died and make it useful. And I remember that I have heard the land herself call to me, “HEAL THE LAND”. It is important to not get overwhelmed. Just one tree, one garden, one prayer at a time. It matters.
I can’t carry a tune. Or so I have been told, ever since my voice cracked in the Christmas Chorus performance at church when I was young. And since I somehow volunteered to sing Jingle Bells in a zoom caroling party, I also started thinking about how in December of 2012, I took a hymnal and sang my heart out at the Alzheimer’s unit where my mom was living, and it didn’t matter one bit if I was off key. By the time I started the 3rd song the whole unit of patients was gathered around, and many were able to sing along. Their eyes shone, and my mom especially was the happiest I had seen her in a long time.
My mother spent the last year of her life in that unit and I visited her daily. At first it was the hardest thing I had ever done because there was always so much chaos and the normal ways of relating to others was not possible. I would see her clothes on other patients and other people’s clothes on her, but it didn’t bother her. Cherished photos we thought she would want to have with her ended up all broken because possessions no longer mattered to her. Her roommate would rock back and forth and make these loud moaning sounds. I quickly learned to not care about any of that. What did matter was that she always got a big smile on her face when I came, although she would call me many different names. I learned to relate to her on a purely emotional level, and gradually I started to see what a gift that was. We were sharing a relationship of pure unconditional love with zero judgements or expectations, something that is not usually possible in even the most ideal of parenting relationships after a child is no longer a baby. It was amazingly beautiful when I could set everything else around us aside and just be in that love with her.
Recently, a friend forwarded to me some notes she had on the Empress tarot card and one sentence stood out to me on a list of 5 things under a title of Embodying the Empress: “Unconditional love or bust!” When I allowed myself to say, “I want to be nurtured” in my prayer petition as it bubbled up in my heart a couple of weeks ago, I knew it meant nurturing of myself as well as receiving nurturing. And I am learning that this unconditional love is a key component, both of myself, from others and for others, of being nurtured.
Perhaps the hardest place to practice unconditional love is with ourselves. Turning off that inner critic is tough sometimes – it can be very sneaky. The never enough voice. The must accomplish stuff voice. I am learning in my prayer practice that if I nurture myself, the nurturing and unconditional love become a circle that feed each other. Nurturing allows unconditional love. And unconditional love encourages more nurturing. And when I can remember that we are all the face of the Great Mother, then I can remember that loving myself unconditionally is to love Her. Maybe if I think about doing an exercise program for my body that is part of Her body too that will motivate me a little more!
I have written before about the process of making a flower essence and the accompanying “attunement” or meditation that I do with it. Magnolia spoke to me very specifically about unconditional love. She said to me in the meditation: “I am ancient, deeply fragrant, open hearted Love. Feel my primordial unconditional Love being offered to you….” I have found that being outside in Nature is also a place that I experience unconditional love. And understanding that the Earth is literally our Great Mother lets me fully understand these experiences. I always felt this incredible awe and life energy and aliveness in the presence of nature, but I didn’t know what to do with it. Knowing that nature is the body of our Great Mother, now I can truly allow myself to let this knowing settle into my heart as Her unconditional Love and let it nurture me. One of my favorite quotes from a favorite book of mine – Way of the Rose – says: “You do not live in a random universe because you do not live in a Motherless universe.”
I think my earliest memory of huge jungle woven vines is from a Tarzan movie. Traditionally spiderwebs are more closely associated with weaving, but for me it is the wild vines in the woods that wind their way around trees and each other, and go from one tree to another, connecting them. The sheer life force and voracious growth of the vines is something I feel in my bones and it rises through my feet and into my fingers who are never happier than when they are weaving. So naturally, the vines themselves have ended up in my weaving. The spiraling vines hold so much of the organic life force of the Earth that it takes my breath away. For me, the curve of the vines twisting around each other or another plant is sensuous and erotic, and it captures the very life force of our Mother Earth.
In my first blog, It Starts Here, that I wrote in August this year, I talked about how at first the vines in my backyard forest were the enemy, killing the trees, but then I realized that they also were what drew me TO the forest and that was their first gift. I also collected many of the best vines as I was cutting them back. Their curves were so eloquent, and I learned they hold their shapes as they dry without snapping. I have piles of them in my studio waiting to be used in weavings.
Vines often get vilified because they tend towards chaos rather than structure. They don’t grow in an orderly, nice and predictable fashion and they don’t keep to themselves, and their slithering crawling nature often reminds people of snakes. Because vines don’t have to put a lot of energy into upright support structures, they can put all that energy into growing very quickly, searching for the quickest way to the light. And like anything that grows quickly, they often find themselves out of balance, taking over and killing the very host that is supporting them. Kudzu in the south and Bittersweet in the north are two of the more notorious vines that tend to get out of balance in disturbed areas.
Vines can be viewed as smothering their host plants and trees, or they be seen as growing in the forest community in ways that allow the wildlife of the forest to be more connected, allowing animals to travel between trees without touching the ground and generating a massive amount of green matter quickly. The sheer amount of green leaf mass does a hero’s job of carbon sequestration, helping reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere. This balance between the “good” and “bad” natures of vines is like any good story, a mixture of both. There are scientific studies about how the total mass of vines IS in fact increasing in tropical and subtropical forests in the Americas. And how that is probably indicative of rising carbon levels and human interference in the forests, giving the vines more opportunities to grow in disturbed areas.
What if the vines that we see “taking over” are just part of a larger regeneration scheme of the earth that we can’t see the pattern of yet? Perhaps the vines are weaving us together in ways we can’t understand now. What if we saw the vines as prayers for weaving the forests back together? What if they are one of the ways our Mother Earth is rejuvenating our world? When ruins are left to nature, it is the vines that most visibly start the regenerative work of breaking down the structure to be reclaimed by the earth. They are part of earth’s demolition crew at work, like vultures of the plant world.
My best gift from the vines has been to lead me to the name of the Lady who came to me in my artwork in 2015. I had had an arched vine on my altar over Her image for a couple of months, and another twisted vine frames the woven mask I made this summer that became Her also, and both were on my altar. When I asked again one day with an open heart, “My Lady, what is your name?”, I got an immediate answer. “Our Lady of the Vine”, she told me. OF COURSE. I felt a little silly for not seeing Her name sooner. And so now more than ever, when I see lovely twisting vines, I see Her. And after all, roses also grow on vines.
Vines are prayers from the Earth, and for the Earth. They pull Her life force up from the earth, entwining themselves with everything they touch, bringing Her deep knowledge and prayers up from the dark womb of the forest soil to be shared with us all.
Have you ever woven potholders on those little square metal looms with the stretchy colorful loops? When I decided I needed potholders a few years ago I ordered a kit to make them with my granddaughter, which was fun, but I’m the one who became obsessed with it, ordering more loops and becoming enraptured by the patterns and colors. And an epiphany washed over me. I HAD to learn how to really weave, and I had most certainly done a lot of weaving before, like a déjà vu or a prior lifetime. With only a little reading and a couple of videos, I was off and running. My fingers knew what to do. Lifetimes of weaving. Millennia of women and ancestors who sat in weaving and spinning circles were cheering me on, and I could feel their ancient wisdom surrounding me.
These ancient arts of weaving and spinning literally hold the very fabric of our dead, our ancestors, because our bodies, our DNA, hold cellular memories of the spindle and the loom. There is evidence that at least 27,000 years ago people were spinning fibers. The “Venus of Lespugue” is a voluptuous ivory figurine found in the foothills of the Pyrenees, in France. She is shown wearing a loin cloth made of twisted strands, indicating that people were twisting or spinning fibers together at least as long ago as wooly mammoths were living. And weaving is at least 10,000 years old. So, for at least 100 centuries, and likely much longer, our ancestors have spun and woven their cloth by hand. It is only the last 2 centuries or so that weaving has been industrialized.
Before 1775 or thereabouts, weaving literally wove families and their communities together. Every girl and many boys from the youngest of ages knew how to spin yarn on a spindle and most everyone participated in the process of weaving fabric in a family. It is extremely hard for us today to imagine the immense amount of work that went in to spinning thread and yarn and weaving cloth for a family. In England around 1700, It took three carders to provide the roving for one spinner, and up to three spinners to provide the yarn for one weaver. The process was continuous, and done by both sexes, from the youngest to the oldest. It was what families did all through the long winter months when they couldn’t work the soil, and some did it as a full-time occupation. This history gives us a sense of the enormous effort and focus that spinning and weaving used to have in our ancestor’s lives. It is no wonder that weaving speaks so powerfully to us; that it permeates a myriad of stories, myths, and metaphors.
The goddesses of weaving are numerous. Some of the most well-known are Athena, Isis, Net, Spiderwoman, Brigid, Holda, the Three Fates, and Penelope. And Mary Herself was said to be a weaver. It is quite a party in the goddess world of weaving. I like to think of them all sitting in a circle together weaving the Earth, fretting about the wisdom we have lost since the industrialization of spinning and weaving, and dancing and celebrating every time someone new takes up the craft.
Some favorite gatherings I have coordinated are community weaving projects on an EarthLoom – a large loom designed by my weaving teacher, Susan Barrett Merrill. She says, “the EarthLoom is a living symbol of our intention to weave together the fabric of community.” An EarthLoom event brings the ancient craft of weaving into a group or community, having them weave together around a common intention or prayer.
My husband made my seven-foot-tall EarthLoom for me a couple of years ago, and it easily breaks down to be transported to a community event site. It is a simple loom, warped with garden twine, and magic happens as everyone in the group takes turns weaving a couple of rows with either strips of cloth, large yarn, vines, long stemmed flowers, colorful paper, and prayers. Beautiful, unpredictable things are created. When we weave in community, weave AS community, weaving our prayers together, we are literally weaving ourselves together. Just like what is happening here, with this incredible Way of the Rose community, weaving ourselves together in our prayers.
Perhaps you have heard the Sioux story of the Old Woman in the Cave who has been weaving a blanket for as long as the world has been in existence. She weaves and weaves, but when she gets up to stir her pot of soup, her dog unravels what she has woven, and she must start over. And so, the ongoing weaving of the world happens in a circular fashion over and over and never ends.
We have had a flowering bush called Clethra for years that flowers with these rather unremarkable white flower spikes made up of lots of smaller flowers. But the fragrance of these flowers completely undoes me. I swoon. I want to spend my afternoon right beside them with their elixir wafting over me. I close my eyes and I am carried away. The bees feel the same way – they swarm all over these flowers; so much so, that I must compete for a safe space for my nose. This bush is also called Summersweet, which is a good starting point to describe its fragrance which is sweet like honey and rich from the earth.
A year ago, when I took a class called Intuitive Plant Medicine from Asia Suler and learned to make flower essences, Clethra called me to make one from her blossoms. (Unlike essential oils, which are concentrated distilled oils of the plant, flower essences are an energetic imprint of flowers captured in water at the height of their bloom.) It is fun making the essences and using them, but I discovered the real magic for me is sitting with the essence after it is made and doing an “attunement”, as Asia calls it, which is a meditation allowing the flower’s essence to come through and speak. The process includes sensing them in my body and feeling what memories and emotions arise and then asking the flowers what they want me to know.
Clethra said to me: “I am Clethra, ancient Garden Goddess of Desire. I am calling you to let yourself sway in the breeze with me and dance with the bees. Open to receive your hearts’ desire with your whole body, feeling deeply into your soft animal belly. Let my ancient, sweet scent intoxicate you with yearning for deep connection to the Earth.”
Although I know many people receive messages from all sorts of beings in all sorts of ways, I wasn’t really ready for the depth of the communication I received and my worthiness to receive it. But none the less, when I sat with the Clethra essence for the first time and did the attunement and wrote what Clethra had to say to me, I felt incredibly alive, and on fire with her life force flowing through me, literally full of desire. It was so erotic, that I was even a little embarrassed. I think this desire to be with Nature as a lover, to feel the sensuality She brings to us, is a deep longing that we learn to suppress in our culture. She is so alive, and when we allow Her life force to flow through us, it can arouse us in ways that we don’t know how to express or share.
It awakens in me a deep heart desire for this joy to be with me always, this embodied desire to be fully aware of and connected with Her body, the Earth. And I realize that I don’t have to limit my joy. No matter what else is happening in the world, I can still experience unlimited joy, wherever I find it. It is like a resurrection, a realization that joy is our birthright and something we are worthy of. There is no joy ceiling!
For five years I have practiced intuitive painting with Chris Zydel and I have learned to be in touch with my feelings and intuition where I only have to know what the next brush stroke is and what color. And just like praying the rosary, one bead at a time, both practices help me to be able to drop out of my chattering mind and hear my heart and my intuition. In this way I am sometimes able to hear Her guiding me.
A recent intuitive painting I did seems to express this feeling of connection from the Divine. Often and usually these intuitive paintings don’t make literal sense, but rather speak from what we are feeling in our hearts and bodies. These rings around my neck have shown up several times, and rather than feel restricting, they are empowering and releasing my voice. And the taproot growing out of my third eye and the birds speaking to me? Well, I can’t help but see the message that perhaps I do experience the Mystical in everyday miracles like the scent of the flowers and the birds whispering in my ear, and life force of the Mother Earth that I feel rising up through my feet. Little by little I am learning to trust Her and know that She is truly with me, whether it is the voices of the flowers, my paintbrush, words on the page, or nudges in my heart.
After a discussion on dolls in Perdita Finn’s Take Back the Magic class recently, I remembered a doll I have of my mothers. A lovely Effanbee doll about 18” tall from the 1930’s that she got as a child and was very devoted to. Someone had even sewed a hand-made red velvet cape for her. It is the only doll I have in my house at all except for two that I have woven myself in the last couple of years.
I did not know my mother had kept this doll until I found it in her things after she died in 2013. When I was seven years old, my mother gave me her doll collection. There were dolls from all over the world, many of them old and they were very special to my mother. We arranged them in a stacking bookcase with glass fronts. But the thing is, I never played much with dolls as a girl. I would try and play Barbie’s with my friends, but I didn’t really enjoy it. And I never did much with my mom’s doll collection. It just sat in the bookcase in the basement. When I was in my 20’s and my mom moved her house, I remember her asking me if I wanted the doll collection, and I said no, not really. And so, my mom gave those dolls away, being an overly practical, clutter free woman of the 1980’s. That is a painful memory, as I would dearly love to have that connection to my mother today. And realizing now from the class this week that they most certainly held either a literal or figurative connection to my ancestors makes it even more painful.
For a long time, I have told myself a story that since I was a good baby who never cried, and with the advice given in the sixties to not spoil your babies, that perhaps that was why I don’t have any memories of being held or being cuddled on my mothers’ lap, although I know she loved me dearly. But I had an epiphany after the class this week. What if it was more that I came into this world rejecting my feminine self? What if I didn’t cry because I had already lost my voice before I came into this life? Perhaps I was already determined to be independent so no one could hurt me ever again? Perhaps it was me who would not let myself be mothered.
And suddenly I saw that my rejection of the feminine throughout the first half of my life started much earlier than I previously imagined. Realizing that I rejected her dolls, and that I never played with dolls as a young girl connected my memories with other realizations I have had about myself before around denying my feminine self. I went to work for my dad in the family insurance business and modeled myself after the men in that industry for over 25 years. I had few close female friends and no hobbies except gardening. Until about 12 years ago when my son got sick, I had even convinced myself I was not creative, even though I was a Studio Art major in college. Long story short, I had denied the Mother most of my life until then.
This story of mine around the dolls is only a small snippet of the larger story of our society’s rejection of the feminine and the Mother for the past 500 years (or 5000 really). And this rejection of our feminine nature is not always something that is done TO us I have realized. It is also a particular type of scourging we do to ourselves when we deny ourselves access to the Mother. The denial of the feminine in our culture is so intimately related to the scourging we do to the Earth, and the trivializing of mainstream dolls is part of that.
Another insight, that I have to credit Polly Paton-Brown for, is that doll making is very important and powerful because handmade dolls have real power to connect with mothers, grandmothers, ancestors and the land in a forgotten language of the heart. Dolls are another way the land, and the ancestors can speak to us. As we make them, and sit with them, opportunities for memories and other thoughts will arise, and if we allow them, we realize they are whispering to us, perhaps only as a nudge in our heart. I had started making dolls myself a couple of years ago, but I had not put all the pieces together about how powerful their connection to working with our ancestors and the Earth is until I heard Polly’s comments!
In 2018, I took up weaving with a passion, and it was something I knew I had done in many lifetimes. I barely had to learn it because really, I already knew how. And then I took a class called Weaving a Life and learned to weave dolls among other things, and I have taught a couple of classes on weaving what I call Wisdom Dolls. In those classes I talked about the tradition of women weaving in circles for millennia and the dolls as connection to our elder wiser self because that is what I learned in the Weaving a Life class. But I had never really made the connection to working with the dolls to reclaim our feminine selves and to connect with our ancestors. And to help our daughters remember their ancestors.
This teaching of doll making may be much more important than I realized. Perhaps one way to wake up from being asleep is through making hand-made dolls one at a time. What if doll making became as common as baking homemade cookies?
Today I got my mothers’ doll out again, and I cherished her. I am asking her to tell me her name. I am savoring the devotion my mother had for her. And grateful for the healing that she has brought me in realizing more deeply my role in my relationship with her. I will let the dolls show me the way to reclaiming a deeper relationship with my ancestors, the land and how to let myself be mothered.
Usually, magic drops in quite unexpectedly. I had just finished spreading out a white row cover over a bed of kale in my garden, when a red-tailed dragonfly dropped onto the cover and just sat there, mesmerizing me with his radiant red tail and lacey wings, each with one spot. I had never seen a red-tailed dragonfly, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. We sat still in each other’s presence for about ten full seconds – a long time in a dragonfly’s world. And then I foolishly broke my gaze for a split second, and he was gone, like he had vanished. This unexpected wonder caught my breath and took me to a space where time shifts and moves with the flit of a wing, and the light feels more luminescent.
I didn’t get a picture at the time, but I did look him up while he was still fresh in my mind and found a picture that was exactly like him, which seemed like another gift. Most other pictures I found of this type of dragonfly were not as good. He is called a Red-Tailed Pennant dragonfly.
I had heard before that dragonflies can symbolize change and transformation, and since we were closing on the sale of our family business in a couple of days, it felt very timely. And then a few days later, after we had just arrived in FL for a vacation after the sale, a huge swarm of several hundred dragonflies greeted me as I walked out to the beach. Their aliveness as they darted everywhere was certainly a wonder to behold. And then the next morning after that, they showed up again in large numbers, fliting around the same large hedge, but that was the last day they came to be with me. So much dragonfly energy can be quite overwhelming and that is still proving to be true for me!
As gorgeous as dragonflies are, they spend over three-fourths of their life as aquatic nymphs – little unremarkable bugs in the water. This stage typically lasts from one to three years. Then one day it is time, and they poke their head out of the water and attach to a solid surface and the skin at the back of their head cracks open and they emerge, let their wings and legs dry and harden for a bit, and then take off! It is hard to imagine going from a swimming life to a fast darting flying life in a matter of an hour or so. How scary that seems to me because any sudden change is hard for me. I am a creature of habit. I like to be nested, to be home, to know what is going to happen next. Even after years of working on letting go of control, when change happens unexpectedly and suddenly it can be overwhelming for me and I feel very ungrounded. A strength of the dragonfly – to adapt to changing situations quickly- is something I surely need!
When the dragonfly showed up in my life, I was excited at first. Transformation! Change! How exciting! The recent sale of our family business has been a transition four years in the making; clearly expected and planned for. And yet now that it has happened, many things are changing in ways I hadn’t foreseen. Expectations, resistance, control all are calling to be released in many other areas of my life as well. Suddenly, surprisingly, I am getting very different messages about how and where to live my life than I have been for the past year. Darting about like the dragonfly looking for new grounding feels oddly familiar. This releasing feels like the mystery of the Ascension- letting go of the gifts that have been given, to clear the way for more gifts to come. How hard that can be!
There is a wonderful story called IxChel and the Dragonflies. IxChel is the Mayan moon and fertility Goddess, and this story especially resonates with me because we have vacationed on Cozumel for many years, which is the traditional home of IxChel. As late as the 1500s Mayan women from all over the Yucatan would travel to Cozumel to visit Her and receive Her blessing for fertility. The ruins of her primary temple are still there on the island at a site that is now called San Gervasio. The old Mayan name is Tantun, which simply means “flat rock”. The temple site is a very powerful place, and I can feel the presence of the Great Mother there – IxChel being another of Her many names.
IxChel and the Dragonflies is a tale of love and loss, and at the end of the story, four hundred dragonflies pick up the pieces of IxChel’s dismembered body and place them in a canoe and take her back to her moon palace and then the dragonflies cover Her body with theirs and hum and hum and hum over Her body for 13 days and 13 nights, and then She arises whole and healed from the life force of their song and the sound of their wings humming over Her.
I am entranced by the image of the humming dragonflies bringing IxChel back to life. After having to release all that She was, and being torn into pieces, She was given new life by the dragonflies. If, like the Mayans believe, the dragonflies carry the souls of our beloved ancestors, then well, what a blessing it is to see a dragonfly and know that our ancestors are with us, and ready to carry us.
It has been a long time since I have run across a turtle here in our backyard forest – an adorable ordinary box turtle of medium size, with those amazing patterns on her back. She just looked at me, as if to say, “Slow down there, watch where you are going!” She wasn’t afraid, and she didn’t hide in the traveling home on her back. Rather she invited me to sit with her. And as I sat and gazed at her, I naturally did just as she asked, and my breath slowed and my desire to move on to the next thing vanished. And she gazed back with, “See, that’s not so hard. There is so much to see right here.”
She looks wrinkled and old, which makes her look wise. Turtles can live for decades and she may be older than I am. What has she lived through? What has she witnessed? She most certainly sees the deer as they move about every day between the overgrazed forest to the lusher, more irresistible landscapes and bird feeders in the human yards. She sees the squirrels in their mad dash to collect the most acorns, the birds twittering around the trees, and all the bugs and worms that feast on the fallen trees.
Was she here when our home was built 17 years ago, when the contractors indiscriminately pushed so many trees over the hill while clearing our lot? Did she notice when the highway noise STOPPED in April of 2020? Does she have trouble finding food because the suburban deer overgraze this small, forested area? Where does she go when it gets so dry like it is now? Is the barest trickle of water left in the creek enough for her?
A little research tells me that this turtle is in fact, a “she”. Female box turtles have brown eyes, and males have red eyes. Does she have or has she had a mate? I was surprised to learn that after mating she may lay fertile eggs for up to 4 years! That surely increases the hope that she may have baby turtles in my backyard forest. From October to April she will burrow into the ground and hibernate. I used to find turtles all the time, but I no longer do, and my research says they have declined by 38%.
I love knowing that we have a wise mama turtle in our backyard. Turtles are traditionally a symbol of motherhood and longevity and of the primal mother, our Earth Mama. They are considered a keeper of the doorway between heaven and earth and are a doorway to our ancestors. Because of their sharp eyesight and smell, they are also a symbol of heightened senses and sensitivities. So, it’s no surprise that this turtle appeared in my intuitive process painting recently, and in fact she showed up with quite a scowl on her face!
I can’t paint any longer with a paint brush – I have to get my hands into the paint. It’s a visceral feeling, like having feet in the dirt, like the turtle with her belly on the ground. This painting session felt like I was witnessing like the turtle witnesses. Everything, without any filter. As sometimes happens, a lot of feeling came up while I was painting, and it took me a while to realize it was intense joy from the feeling of aliveness but also grief. Grief that I spent so many years with my feelings mostly shut down. Grief for my willful blindness and complacency and finally allowing myself to fully feel the grief of all the disconnection from our Earth Mother and the collective harm to Her. Grief for all the years I didn’t trust myself, my gut, my intuition, and this deep desire to be connected to Her.
My blinders came from being taught this is the “way it is”. When I did see a “too large for me to fix problem”, like mountain top removal coal mining, or the slag pond just over the hill from the chemical plants, or the chemical spill in our valley in 2014 that shut down water supply for 300,000 people for several weeks, or the trees from clearing our lot just being pushed over the hill; – if I couldn’t see a solution, I subconsciously learned to just shut off most of my feelings from the issue and accept it. If I couldn’t fix it, then I wouldn’t allow myself to really feel it. I would either just loop and loop on how to fix it, or I would ignore it, or justify it. And fixing, if I could, was a way of avoiding and not really witnessing the pain. A personally painful example is my oldest son. He struggles with ADD, and I too often fixed things for him rather than let him fail. When I stopped fixing and had to witness him struggle for 5 years in his 30’s as he lost several jobs, it was one of the hardest lessons of my life.
When I can’t fix a problem, especially one that doesn’t immediately or directly affect me, I often fall into a common trap in our culture of accepting it, or worse, denying it, and before I know it, I go to a place of dismissal, or despair, or ignoring. It can be very hard to allow myself to fully recognize a problem, especially a deeply entrenched problem that goes back generations, and WITNESS IT, and stand with it, like Mary does at the cross, holding the pain. Witnessing when we cannot fix, or help, is the deep work of the Mother.
I have learned that just witnessing is so much more powerful than I have been taught. It lets the person or being know that I see them, and I love them. That I am willing to stand with them, even though they must bear the pain or burden for themselves. I am not always be able to do this, but now I try and do it as often as I can. I don’t want to look away.
My forest turtle is a symbol of the strength from Mother Earth that I draw on when something tough to watch, to see, to experience comes up. She is my reminder that I can be fully present to whatever is put before me if I can hold Her hand. This Mama Turtle will be here to help me bear the hard things and to celebrate the good ones.
The turtle creation stories that are in so many cultures speak of Her holding up the world on Her back. I love knowing that I am also carried on Her back and She is holding me up as well. As I stand and witness with Her at my side, I feel the generations of ancestors under our feet holding me up.
Do you remember the first time you heard the ocean in a seashell? When I was a young girl, I remember visiting my grandmother who had these large shells, that later I learned were whelks and conchs. She told me she picked them up on the beach herself in a faraway place called Florida. I remember being amazed – they seemed like such treasures, so special. And when she held them to my ear, I heard something so much larger than myself. I didn’t know what the ocean sounded like, but this sound was magical, and it carried me to another realm I seemed to vaguely remember.
I was six years old when I went to the beach for the first time, and I went crazy over the seashells. My mother bought me a book about shells, and I learned the names of all the ones I found. I even brought a lot of them home and I made a display and took them around the neighborhood and offered them for sale! They must have seemed so special and valuable to me, that I thought everyone would want one. And these were just the ordinary everyday seashells, not the beauties my grandmother had. It brings me deep joy to remember my six-year-old self who had the unquestioning belief that everyone would see these shells as the messengers of beauty and joy that I did, and I had no doubts or self-consciousness about sharing that with everyone.
We are drawn to the sea like a magnet, the ancient sea water in our blood acting like a homing pigeon. The shells are a touchstone, reminding us of our ancient roots in the sea and the seawater that courses through our veins and cells. Shells are intertwined in the lives of the earliest known peoples. Beads were found made from seashells that are 80,000 years old, and a carving 500,000 years old has been found on a clam shell. Shells hold the memories of millennia of people who have walked the shores and held the shells, been drawn to their beauty, listened to them, and heard their ancestor’s songs in them. They have been used for tools, beads, jewelry, money, divination tools, artwork, and even religious symbols, like the scallop shell on the Camino de Santiago. And shells are found marking ancient gravesites all over the world.
Walking along the seashore, one foot after another, is an ongoing pilgrimage with these ancient beings that have literally seen the world through the millennia of time. Each morning’s walk on the shore reveals a new layer of ancestors as the seas wash the sands. Even during a quick walk on the beach, time stretches out to eternity so easily, and our ears open to hear the stories and songs of each shell. We keep their stories alive when we pick them up and admire their beauty and honor them by decorating our bodies and homes with them. And if we listen closely, they will sing their songs to us, reminding us that we come from the sea, opening a door to the long story of our history so that we may hear the voices of our ancestors coming through their songs.
We are literally standing on our ancestors as the sand washes between our toes at the edge of the sea, the same as when we have our feet in the dirt of the forest. Two seemingly different worlds, they are both made up of our dead, of all the beings who have died and decayed before us. The land has dirt and stones, and the sea has sand and seashells. Each stone and shell tell a story on their way to being dirt and sand, making up of the bodies of the dead under our feet that hold us up literally every day.
At my West Virginia home in the mountains where I have spent almost all of the past year, I have heard the land there speak to me and say “heal the land”, and that has been happening with my gardening and forest tending. Yet I am hearing the sea call to me too, and her message to me is still swirling, not quite audible yet. Perhaps it is the same message, but it feels more about story, about the story of being on the edge of the land and the water. And the seashells are the messengers. On the morning of All Hallows’ Eve, I was on the beach before daybreak, watching the full moon set, and as the dawn came, I found FIVE sand dollars! It is rare to find even one that is whole. I also found a fighting conch, a lightening whelk, a lettered olive and more. It was a gift, an invitation, an answer to a prayer that YES, I am meant to be here too, at the edge of the sea. Each shell felt like a message from an ancestor. Each one a prayer.
The shells – the bones of the sea – are so common that we forget their power. They speak to us. They have voices if we listen. They sing to us. They call us home. Finding a whole whelk or conch or sand dollar on the shore today is like a small miracle. They are hard to find whole and still shiny, yet no longer alive. When one appears at your feet newly washed onto the shore, it is like a flower from our Ocean Mother, a message, that says you are chosen and loved. And as I receive Her gift of grace and pick up the shell and take it home, I am filled with joy. I am saying YES! I accept your gift. It is the sweetest kind of joy, to be offered such a gift, and to be able to say YES, like that devoted six-year-old girl that I was, trusting my heart.
A lush jasmine-like fragrance wafts onto the evening breeze as soon as her petals open, and I am transported to another world like Alice in Wonderland where the flowers talk with me. Memories float through my mind’s eye: swaying in the tops of huge pines at dusk; the sound of rain in the dark hitting the canvas top of the platform tent at girl scout camp; watching meteors steak across the whole of the night sky. There is magic in these memories.
I have grown Sacred Datura moonflower for several years and she easily reseeds herself. But this year, the raised beds by the driveway where she usually grows were completely redone and I did not replant any new seeds. None the less, one little scrawny Datura plant managed to grow by happenstance in the crack between the new flower bed and driveway. Such determination! She only had enough vitality for one flower. And that flower grew as big and beautiful as any Datura flower I have ever seen, six inches across, and she opened on the full Corn Moon. With only one flower, I don’t believe for a minute that she opened on the full moon by chance! They say that moonflowers open in the dark to be pollenated by night flying sphinx moths or other insects. But if that were the only reason, it wouldn’t matter what night her flower opened, would it?
Does the full moon pull her open like the tides? They say that leaves and seeds grow more in the waxing moon, and roots grow more in the waning moon. The moonlight certainly radiates Datura’s beauty, and she glows with an ethereal, ghostly quality. And then, the following morning, she is just another flower, rather pale in the morning light. Moonflowers need the moonlight to be seen in the dark. The bright whiteness of their flower draws down the moonlight to our eyes at ground level and reflects it back to us. Mesmerized with her light and fragrance, our senses open to even more of the evenings’ magic, such as the summer night sounds of the crickets and the frogs, and the stars appearing in the sky. We are enveloped in a velvet cocoon of the evening darkness that transports us to that magical memory place where the busyness of the day is forgotten.
This year I was fortunate enough to be there to watch her flower open. All through the day her closed-up petals slowly emerged from their sheath, pushing up to the sky. Then as the shadows started to lengthen, the tentacles of her petal edges slowly began to release, little by little. It was like watching two lovers’ arms trying to hold tight to each other, but being pulled slowly apart, until the last finger slipped free. Then the white trumpet of her flower mouth flung open, and that incredible sweet perfume rushed out, like opening a window at the bakery, to announce far and wide the feast is ready. And with a little pale green color deep in her throat, and five pale pink stamens holding the offered pollen, she is like a maiden whose radiance needs no additional adornment.
What is the magic of a Datura moonflower? Like a siren call, the impulse to dive deep into her throat is felt. Her fragrance is so sensuous that I am carried to a long-forgotten magical garden where I can almost feel her perfume caressing me. And yet she is highly poisonous, and dangerously hallucinogenic, and her leaves and stems smell like dirty socks. So much contrast in one plant! Her beauty allures us and her poison frightens us. It would be easy to say that bad things often seduce with false beauty and write off Datura as a “bad plant”. Many ranchers have done just that because of how poisonous Datura is to their cattle, and understandably so.
But Datura’s poison is only her way of protecting herself. It is the way she has found to grow proudly and protected, so that she is able to open herself fully and without reservation to the moon when it is time, letting those protections go. Also known as Angel’s Trumpet, when she unfurls at dusk, throws herself open to the light of the moon, and sends out her fragrance, I hear her say to me: “Here, take my hand. Come drink the moonlight with me. Let me soften your fear.” And fears I wasn’t even aware I was still holding, slip away, no longer needed. My body remembers that moonlit summer nights are so nourishing for the soul, renewing a deep sensual connection we have to the Earth.
More Datura seeds are arriving in my mailbox any day now so that I can sow them in the garden bed this fall. The winter soil will hold them and sprout a new bed of Datura in the spring, and hopefully there will be more luscious flowers for many moonlit nights next summer. What memories, what prayers will be called? What fears will be laid to rest then?
Fourteen days to feast day and night on your favorite food? Party time! Your only food, the food your mother lived her whole life to find for you, laying her seed right where you would find it when you were born so you would be able to dig in. Chomp, chomp, chomp all day and all night. Ah, the smell and taste of the milkweed! The only food Monarch caterpillars like you will eat. You can’t get enough. You grow so fast that you shed your skin 4 times in 12 days!
With your immature eyes, you can’t really see how beautiful you grow to be, black and yellow and white stripes in a lovely organic pattern rippling over your tubular body, with adorable black antennae on both ends and sixteen shiny black feet with white socks. You have the zebra or tiger stripes of the insect world.
Which generation of this season are you? Do you know? Who keeps track? I have read that generations one, two and three only live two to six weeks as adult butterflies, but if you are the fourth generation? You have won the grand prize of a trip to Mexico for the winter, and back again next spring! So much responsibility – the lives of your children depend upon your return to this precious milkweed that feeds you. When did you become such a picky eater, developing such an intricate relationship with one plant species, the smell of it, the dream of it, drawing you from thousands of miles away?
Four generations in one summer, with the great grandchildren of your first spring babies carrying the legacy and hope for the next year. From our human perspective we can see your long story, the story of the multiple lifetimes your life, even though we usually can’t see our own. Who sees our long story? Maybe our ancestors? What if we could know more about the hopes and dreams, travails and wounds, of our great grandparents and/or our great grandchildren all in one life, one season? What would we do differently?
But first things first. Miracles have to happen. You will dissolve and be reformed into a lovely monarch butterfly. Do you have any idea of what you will become? Do you know that after you get too full to eat any more and get that overwhelming desire to find a safe place to hang upside down, and shed your last skin the 5th time, that the sleep that overtakes you won’t stop until you melt? At least you will be protected in a most beautiful green jewel case trimmed with gold. Is it painful for you to lose your last skin and all that you are? Does it feel like the end? Like death? Or do you just go to sleep with dreams of wings? Do you dream of flying? Do you have any idea of how even more beautiful you will become when you emerge from your sleep?
I have a confession. I go out to my garden every day intending to bask in Nature and connect with the Land, but often I just get caught up in the details of care taking. Pulling weeds, pruning over-zealous plants, planting new seeds, training new vines and looking for pests and diseases. Just a day before, I found a HUGE nasty hornworm that had eaten the tops off of three of my tomato plants overnight. Boy was I angry at him! How dare he! When I found him, he met a very quick demise. So, the next day when I saw a large caterpillar on one of my plants my quick instinct was to grab him and throw him out of the garden. Then in mid-flight, I said, OH NO! That was a monarch caterpillar!!! He was on the milkweed!! I was mortified. I rescued him and returned him to the milkweed plant, and he started munching away again within a few minutes. WHEW.
How quickly I went from thinking this caterpillar was ugly and harmful to seeing his full glory and Beauty. I remember briefly thinking the hornworm was rather lovely, for just a second, in between being grossed out by a horned caterpillar larger than my thumb, and wanting him OFF the tomato plants.
Maybe your mom said what mine always said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. If only we could see the pervasive Beauty in everything and everyone more often. Even if the Beauty is mixed with something that is uncomfortable or even harmful to us, there is usually a Beauty of some sort there. Beauty is not naïve and romantic. It is an essential way of seeing and healing our world.
I can’t wait to see if we have several monarch butterfly hatchlings in a couple of weeks and watch them gather strength for their long journey south. Maybe I can travel with them in my dreams, seeing all the Beauty in the world along the way. For how else can a butterfly see the world but as beautiful, as it looks for flowers to feed on everywhere it goes?
Stillness and serenity. A welcome balm, yet how often do we allow ourselves to fully relax into them? Recently, I stumbled upon a wide still stream, having little idea of the depth of the treasure I would find there when I first found a new path to explore.
There is a city park in our town, not far from my house, with tennis courts and softball fields and picnic areas and even a soapbox derby track. Chattering children, bike riders, happy picnic noises. Community at its best. And the park happens to be on hilly land, so that means there are a lot of forested areas and valleys with creeks in between the developed areas.
I was feeling rather silly that I did not know there were hiking trails in this park, and I went as soon as I could after hearing about them. As I stepped from the parking lot, across the grass, to the trailhead at the edge of the woods, the stillness was already palpable. The woods are such a contrast to our ordered park areas. In the forest everything takes care of itself. Nothing needs mowed, no doctors or nurses are needed to deliver new life, no one is providing food for the birds or wildlife. Stepping into a forest is stepping into a world where life feeds on the dying, and the dying feeds the new life, each and every day.
As I walked down the trail, winding around and over many roots and rocks, around big trees and small, I felt I was going down, going in. A valley in the woods makes me feel hugged and safe. I came to where a wide rock strewn stream bed flattens out, laying open a space where great volumes of water have raced through before. The banks of this creek bed are held and supported by twisted and gnarled roots of trees who have had their skirts lifted and swept away by ravaging waters leaving the stories of their lives exposed for all who come to visit. Have you ever wondered what they have endured? I think of Van Gogh when I see roots like this because Van Gogh’s last painting (unfinished) is of tree roots. He must have been captivated by the tree roots’ stories too.
Today, shallow water is slowly slipping over the rocks, carrying an infinite number of light glimmers on the water’s surface from dappled light coming through the trees. The stream is gently washing this land, soothing it, while laying open to the sky upon the rocks, deep in prayer. The peace and calm belie the days that she has raged through her small valley before. And rage again she will. But today she is still. And serene.
There is something very sensual in the way the curve of the bank is caressed by the gently rippling stream. And I realize my animal body would love to just lay in her warm waters and be gently lapped and washed over, while she tells me her stories. She is like a lover, this stream. If only I weren’t afraid of bugs, getting my clothes wet and dirty, or you know, someone seeing me.
I pick up a heart shaped rock and wonder how long has it been here? Did it just arrive with the last storm, or has it been here waiting a long time? Just for me? And holding it, I get the strong impression that the waters gather here the way blood gathers in our hearts. Today the stream is like a breath held between our heartbeats, a serenity between storms that have gone before and ones that will come again.
What is unleashed on the days that the sky opens? Is it joy or pain or fear or anger that runs through this valley as the land is scraped clean and reshaped by the surging water and dislodged rocks and fallen tree limbs? Perhaps all of those feelings and more. Certainly, on those days this land is anything but still, and the evidence of those days is all around me.
But today, there is only a calm still serenity and a call to just accept this moment, this rock, these waters, with all my open heart. Just be still She says. Accept the Grace. Just for today.
Suddenly, some afternoon thunder rumbles in, breaking up my reverie. A spell is broken that I didn’t realize had slowly woven around me. It is time to go back up the trail, thankful for this gift that allowed me to see the deep joy this Land holds. With my heart shaped rock in my pocket, I walk the path back to my car, offering my footsteps as prayers in return.
August 15, 2020
Have you ever had a day – I’m sure you have – where you realized the way you looked at a little part of your daily world has completely changed? Usually at first it is just a small noticing, but sometimes if you stay with it, you realize that a window has opened. A veil has been lifted showing you a new perspective on your life or a peek into the long story of our Mother Earth.
I have lived at our current house since we had it built for us in 2003. 2 acres, with one of those acres going over the hill into a forested area in the back half of the lot. When they cleared the front half of the lot to build the house, a lot of the trees were just pushed over the hill, and being low on funds and less aware at that point in my life, I remember thinking what a mess they made, but thought I couldn’t do anything about it and it felt unstable to walk on with all the debris. And being busy with 2 kids, running a business, travel, and aging and dying parents, I rarely if ever walked past the tree line at the edge of the yard. For 17 years. I am embarrassed to say that now, especially because I often drive several miles to the state forest to go hiking. I always like being in the woods.
Two years ago I had made friends with the hemlock that lives on the edge of the forest and sometimes sat under her low hanging arms especially on hot days when the cool wind blew up from the creek bed over the hill and I would feel the touch of her fingers whisper to me. But still, I never ventured further. Last fall, I saw a large vine that had grown to the top of a tree on the edge of the yard, and decided it had to go… and that led to spending the next month cutting out huge vines. Once I got back into the forest, I saw they had already pulled down several medium sized trees. This strongly invasive vine is oriental bittersweet, and some of the vines were as large as my forearm.
All during this time and maybe for a while before in the summer, I was hearing “heal the land”. Not actually spoken to me, but a knowing. And it meant “heal THIS land”. And I was like “really?” This suburban lot, near a four-lane highway, home for a few deer, but nothing special? And the answer was “YES, this land. It matters. Start here.”
So somehow, the clearing of the vines was part of that. I was angry at them at first. They were other, they were the bad guy, how could they pull down beloved trees? I hacked and whacked away, careful not to disturb the other plants. Then, I saw the way these twisted vines made beautiful shapes, and I started to collect them and dry them and use them in my weaving.
Then one day I saw the bigger picture.! I had made a path into the forest. I had found a favorite log to sit on. I was walking out to the forest most every day. I had found my way down to the creek. And I realized that the vines that I had been working so hard against had brought me here. And I cried! I cried for the vines.
In one hand I was the instrument of pruning and taming the vines, setting boundaries, while in the other I was developing a deep love for this vine that was strong enough to help heal a pile of ruined tree debris all those years ago. And the curves of these vines now grace my studio with their exquisite spiraling dance captured in the hardwood. And this summer? There feels like more balance in the forest. More air to breathe, room for new growth.
The forest at the edge of my yard is now for me another reality that I can step into anytime I want to, or anytime the forest calls. Like walking into the edge of the cornfield in “Field of Dreams”, It is a veil that I can walk through and be with the heart of our Earth Mother, and instantly everything is a different, -time slows and disappears. The deep time, the long story of the Earth is palpable all around me. And I am so glad She called me to this healing, for me and for Her.
Emerging from the wood,
and the ancient sea, Embodied Beauty
bringing an offering
from the root of time-
A seashell, an acorn, a flower.
for us to accept
and be held in her grace.
in that still space,
between the rising and waning,
waxing and setting.
until the heartbeat of the earth
reaches up into her core
with its raucous, teeming, wild, ragged beauty;
its roots cracking
the hard stone
for her to begin softening into
what wants to be born
and for us.
Trusting the Knowing
In the teeming forest
embodied in shadow,
the ones who know,
holding the wisdom of generations
that is imprinted in my bones.
They are intuition,
myself, but not only myself;
Love, Beauty, Sophia,
They meet me in the quiet places
when I am still
and when I ask.
May the blessing be that
now and again
I set aside my fears,
I trust their voice,
and I know.
Bringing Forth Beauty
between the cocoon of the night,
and the unfolding of the day,
connected by my roots
to the vast aching beauty
that is Creation herself.
And while my roots
hold me and nurture me,
they also release me
to see beyond myself,
to see the blazing sun
in the dying leaves falling to earth,
feeding my roots,
a Beauty so brilliant,
that in those rare moments
when I have the courage
to catch just a glimpse of it,
I learn again
makes us whole.
Dancing with Trees
The late summer heat
shimmers on my leaves,
my sap pulsing and throbbing
in my limbs,
Beckoning to you in the breeze,
come dance with me.
Set aside your trembling,
look deep in your heart.
I have been waiting
Standing strong for you
Feel my sacred life
in your bones.
Trees Dancing with Me
Until I found your buried roots
I had forgotten
this dance of life
coursing in my blood like sap.
winter after winter,
hardened to the cold.
Yet at your core,
with an undying fire
sustained by roots
reaching down to our ancestors.
holding strong your heart,
It is enough.
The Edge of the Moon
The endless music calls from the dark green depths
Softening the edges and
absorbing the burning brightness from the day.
The incessant voice of the wind
tickling, nudging, pulling, generating
to dive in the ancient waves
to dance in the light of the moon
that gives me her strength, my strength
and holds my heart.
licking the edges of the night,
igniting in me
Illuminating radiance prancing
between trees, stars and my heart.
Sacred matter and sacred spirit
forged by the light of the moon.