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First Anniversary

Dear Departed One,

The evening

became evening

became dark,

led you to Nowhere.

 

I knelt at that threshold

whispering all the words

I knew into Winter

night after long night

down on my knees.

I couldn’t leave.

 

But Spring came and ice broke.

I mixed your ash in with the seeds

answered soil’s call to be fed.

Prayers now in my palms,

under my nails, turning the earth.

I watched green take the field,

raise the vine, feed the bud

and blood of strawberry

opened my lips.

 

I walked then

in our old places

as green turned to flame,

turned to brown,

everything fell down

and this is the day

you’ve been gone

in all the seasons.

 

I’ve used up my prayers

 

A white goose rises

so close I hear air lift each feather,

the sound of earth embracing sky,

turning me into the shift

where I no longer speak

but instead listen to hear

from the wind,

from the field,

from the snow

the prayer

you make now

for me.

 

There is plenty of contemporary writing about grief and mourning, but I’ve found it to be very clinical and its focus on the individual isolating. As a society, we have forgotten that the Goddess and Her Stories are guides for our grief and mourning, but She hasn’t forgotten us. She remains as She Who Watches and comes to us when we are in need, even when we don’t turn to Her.

She Who Watches showed me Her face as the Egyptian Goddess Isis, and Her story has been as a guide for me to creative mourning. Yes, even in the deepest loss, Isis shows us how that the new is being born.

DGT Isis

Isis from The Dark Goddess Tarot

There are many version of her story.  I will share with you a version of that story that has 5 parts; you might call them tasks that Isis assists us to complete:

  • Wild grief, weeping, and seeking.
  • Finding the Beloved Dead in Unexpected Places.
  • Re-membering.
  • Conception of new life.
  • Shapeshifting for the Living and the Dead.

Continue reading on my Art of Change Tarot blog

Wild Wisdom Series

I have started a series of poetic nature meditations inspired by the many wonderful photos I have.  I’ve been posting them to my Tarot blog, but they certainly fit the themes of this blog as well.  Periodically, I’ll let you know about the offerings over there so you can decide if you want to make a cyber trip.  Unlike today’s New England weather, travel is easy and there is no snow in cyberspace!

Gate of Water

John at Water Edge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream of Water

Trail of Cedars Close

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gate of Fire

Burn and growth 2 of Wands

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream of Fire

Bonfire

The Field Where I Laid Him

With the help of friends, I scattered John’s ashes in a field destined for flowers in a place that he loved.  I thought mostly about how his ashes would mix with and feed the blooming flowers, but the field is ever changing.  It buds and blooms and decays and disappears.  In September all of these life-death processes exist side by side.

Two weeks ago they plowed over the field.  I knew it would happen and, yet, seeing the empty field hurt, brought John’s absence into sharp focus.  OK, the field will be my teacher of loss, I thought. But this week when I returned, the field was green again!  Winter rye, that potent soil fixer, was already growing and greening the plowed rows again. Life and death are in a dance together and we do well to learn its power.

What follows is a glimpse into that changing field interspersed with quotes from Normandi Ellis’s Awakening Osiris:  The Egyptian Book of the Dead (Phanes Press, 1988).  It’s a book of John’s that when I pulled it off the shelf this past winter brought me great comfort.

The Field

“I am like that old [Egyptian God] Osiris waking in the night. Drunk on the cool wine of darkness, I eat the bread of life and die. I know. I am blessed by mortality. I am a field enduring, growing wheat one year, barley the next, tangled flowing papyrus, a hill of sand. I am ever after changing, while the eye of the watcher shines and takes me in” (p.52).

Just scattered with ash

New field slant

“Even nothing can not last. The seed laid into the void must grow.  The candle’s only purpose is to shine in the darkness. Bread is meant to be ground for pulp in the teeth. The function of life is to have something to offer death. Ah, but the spirit lies always between, coming and going in and out of heaven, filling and leaving the houses of earth” (p. 58)

First flower

First Flower

“I come forth from the edge of heaven. … A half moon, I sail on the edge of heaven.  The wheat in my field has sprung up in straight rows.  I am guardian against forgetfulness, keeping watch, moving on” (p. 134).

Full flower

Full Bee in Sunflower

 

Full Yellow Flowers

Full Sunflowers against purples

“If you stood on a summer’s morning on the banks under a brilliant sky, you would see the thousand petals and say that together they make the lotus. But if you lived in its heart, invisible from without, you might see how the ecstasy at its fragrant core gives rise to its thousand petals. What is beautiful is always that which is itself essence, a certainty of being. I marvel at myself and the things of the earth” (p.167).

Descent begins

 Descent

“The snake observed with amber eyes. He motioned toward a door that opened from air into air. ‘If that is so, can your heart name the name of this gate?’

‘Being,’ I said.

‘And the lands on either side?’

‘Creation and destruction.’

‘Pass then, [Eternal One],’ he said.

The snake withdrew and the multicolored birds gathered, circling in the dark, gathering me, lifting me up. I stepped through and nothing changed, yet I had entered heaven” (p. 192-3).

The fall

Fall with shadow

“The truth of what we all our knowing is both light and dark. Men are always dying and waking. The rhythm between we call life. In the night I turn and face myself, the many howling, laughing, pausing in the body of one. Some miracle is about to happen. Some new man unseen wishes to rise and speak. I walk in darkness feeling darkness on my skin. Dawn always begins in the bones. … Death maters, as does life. As it ends it begins again. Knowing that is both my comfort and my fear” (p. 218).

The empty field, the sun set, the moon

Empty Plowed field

Empty Sunset

Empty Moon

“In the land of the sun, in the season of the end, I climb the highest hill. The moon is a sliver caught in the trees. Entering night I carry the lamp. Though no man sees it, I shine my light into darkness. See who even a single beam cuts through so the path lies clear. The wolves run frightened.  Still no great harm comes to [one] who walks unafraid to die” (p. 167).

The field greening again

Winter Rye

“I wait to come forth by day again. My body turns to greening. I wait to give birth into dream, to give form to the peace in my heart. I shall be a man of the earth shaping the things of the god. I am light entering fire, coming forth and shining through darkness. May I walk beneath blue heaven singing, my heart telling the story of light. I am a man blessed by becoming millions and millions of time” (p. 105)

Snipped from Time’s Flow

Raise up the Sleepers

you do not have to look for them

they are below the soles of your feet

they are in the fallow lines of a field after plowing

they are in the mud and the muck where the weeds drink down the rain

they are there, which is everywhere.

 

Raise up the Sleepers

listen to their voices

they are there in the wild-winged branches wavering

they are no louder than the elm tree’s breath or its downed branch rotting

they are quiet but constant

the whisper at the back of your ear.

 

Raise up the Sleepers

they want to be held in your hands

to feel your fingers rest on the photo snipped from time’s flow

always taken before they died so they can not be dead

but traveling still in a sturdy boat toward Western mountains

lit by a smile that, yes, goes on forever and into

 

the place where the Sleepers rise up.

 

John in a boat in Glacier

Crumbs

I had to disagree with Mary Oliver.

The Writing Room prompt by her was:  “Joy is not meant to be a crumb.”  But there is so much in a crumb so I had to to defend it.

And crumbs reminded me of the pictures of rocks and pebbles that John took when we visited Glacier National Park – and their power to shape the landscape despite their small size.

Ode to the Crumb

The joy is in the crumb:

speck of cheese,

dot of bread,

slivered hint of once pie.

They stir up our hunger,

send a flare down

desire’s dark hole,

invite us to rise up again from here.

A crumb of bird humming

contends, hungry, with the bee.

Green-back glow and the long beak

sneaks into flowers with smooth insertion

until each is entered and emptied.

Crumble at my feet:

sediment raised from below crust;

its billon-year body shifted and smashed

in descending order:

boulder

cobble

pebble

granule

sand

silt

clay

A precise language for the making of crumbs

From the Old English cruma,

a word of obscure origin

traced back to the Latin

gruma, heap of earth.

And here language’s leavings

are larger than we’d dared imagine,

fill our pockets

with bits of earth and bread,

send us forward

throwing

our crumbs

& ourselves

away.

Rocks creating pools

Three Crumblike Holes

Hover and pulse

Night startles with stars,

the resolute and the falling

empty the cosmos

into our skin.

 

Hands dark in that night

caress the blue-black endless.

Your body might be also blue

with stars hidden inside.

Are you a mirror

or the blanketing sky?

 

Dawn deletes the stars one by one

until only the sun remains.

 

We are more alone in the day light.

 

Shadows

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