Early pinks ascend from eerie violets.
A strangely dressed, obviously old, yet regally postured woman appears on the balcony of the City Council Building, arms outstretched as if in benediction. Calmly, serenely, she faces the uproarious crowd surrounding from below.
Caela breathes deeply inward, accessing that bright core she has built from all the loving wisdom discovered throughout her life.
“You can be healed.” Her simple statement echoing, reverberating throughout the crowd. Everyone within range of her electronically enhanced and broadcast voice feels profound resonance.
Every one of them feels tender, loving presence reaching deeply into their secret, festering wounds, bathing their pain in beautiful soothing light.
Caela, smiling inwardly in joyful communion with the forest daughter entwining her consciousness, responds to each and every pause of wonder. She sends soothing musical visions with her words.
“There is no shame in pain. There is no cure to be found in blame, regardless of accuracy. There are so very many ways to be wounded, deeply injured, horribly scarred. Our natural desire would be to heal, end the siren signal of pain, the suffering of what has been hidden rather than made whole. It is natural for hurting children to offer up their tears and fright and indignation at their wounding to parents who will make them well again. Hiding, making dark secrets of unhealed wounds, is not our natural recourse. We have mislearned, incorporated guilts and shames where openness to nurture was meant to be. Sharing our pain, our stories of wounding, our attempts to regain wholeness, with caring family and friends is meant to make us stronger, individually and together. Go deeply into your greatest, most intractable, pain too intense to touch numbing wound. Listen, intently, to its story. Succor it as you would your dearest child. Then to the next, and the next, until all your despicable woundings are adored offspring of a closely loving family. Share your family tales with the people you see every day. I give you all permission to allow this vulnerability.
You are not about fear or anger or intractability. You are alive, growing, changing, learning. Learn to share who you are, really. Magical synergy can give us all everything we have yearned for, felt missing in our lives, individually and together.
I don’t know when, why, how it began. The social structure meant to house and contain us, safe, snug, happy children growing to become strong, joyful, nurturing families, instead becomes a prison. Structure meant to be loyal friend and servant becomes heartless master, imposing order without thoughtful consciousness, sane flexibility, wise encouragement of playfully creative boisterousness which might lead to inconvenience, mistakes, disorder. We can always pull ourselves together to clean up an inadvertent mess, correct mistakes, make amends, share discoveries. This is gregarious human life’s natural course of education. Rote memorization of rules, that is but an exercise in discipline. It is not learning. We feel a need for rules to create a safe structure; but the rules are but tools, not the project itself. What is our project but full, true, glorious experiences of life for each and every? To be full and real, we know there will be pain and wounding as well as love, useful work, private contemplations, fun, frolic, humor, loss, death, sorrow. What we do not need to include is hopeless despair, empty loneliness, unwarranted guilt or shame or restriction of opportunities for restitution and true forgiveness. It’s not that we need to avoid breakage, but that we all need to learn the arts of repair, reconciliation, growth that heals and enhances us all.
I am here to help you. I offer you the benefit of what I have learned. I am creating a school of healing where you will always be welcome. We will offer you our knowledge of healing techniques, therapy sessions, consultations and training. You may decide for yourself, and redecide at any point, of what offerings you desire to partake. Those who can will be expected to pay for our services in order to keep our operating budget in operation. Those without funds will not be turned away. We expect that what we teach will then be shared, expanding the resource of knowledge, healers, trainers, interactive healing groups. Very simple. Nothing hidden. Though our offerings may only be able to accommodate limited numbers at first, quickly enough we will grow. You, everyone who so chooses, will help to grow us, together. Ultimately, we will all learn from each other. Together we will be able to figure this out, this living thing. We will learn to live with the clarity and wisdom we create for ourselves. We can learn to embrace the bountiful gifts and wisdom of this planet that is our home. We can learn the blessings of interdependency, of give and take based on honor and respect. We can revel in the enlightenment that reveals each of our own self-interests gets better served when we truly, deeply, wisely know that we are all in this together. Can you sacrifice your despair on the altar of such a realization? We can together will a manifestation, of true possibilities. I offer not a vision of idealized perfection; but a readily obtainable viable answer.
Guiding a flow of unblocked healthy energy toward the beauty of balanced fully realized lives – this is a mission I gladly accept. Oh, my beloveds, think clearly about what you have to lose, and gain. Feel the compassion, the challenge, the call. Take what I freely offer out of my own great need for connection. We are family, a living interactive system, able together to achieve so much greater happiness and well-being.
You can heal.”
Thus will it be.
Jorel has been enjoying getting caught up in Caela’s vision as she spins it out for him. He sees the potential of this fine university of healing arts, including the healing to be found through fine and performance expressive arts, touch, movement, meditations, creative play and experiments in communications, even more spiraling out beyond his imagining. A too good to be true fantasy, of course; but he allows himself a momentary luxury of getting caught up in the beauty.
“My dear Healer,” deciding it is well past time to inject reality back into their conversation, Jorel adopts a tone of impatient irony. “I am certain I would be glad to accede to your demands. Just tell me, how am I to spirit your charges away in the face of that?” With an angry flourish, he points to the mob, seemingly just shy of storming the barricade around the building and taking them all by force.
“Have we a deal, then?” Caela responds lightly, as if they’ve not a care beyond their civilized negotiations. “You do your part, Councilor. Leave the rest to me. Watch and learn why I know my plan will succeed for all of us.
But first, one more favor, please. I will appreciate your arranging for electronic amplification of my voice, and for my live simultaneous broadcast over your communications channels to reach everyone tuned in. I know you will find a way to sneak the others out safely while the focus is on me.”
Jorel is aghast. “I’m sure it is quite noble for you to sacrifice yourself to save these children,” he begins, ready to plead. She is extraordinary. Perhaps they can figure out some way to …
“No need to fear for me, Jorel. Just watch. Listen. And do as we have agreed. We are agreed?”
A quality of her voice, her will, commands his full attention. He quickly, authoritatively, arranges for the broadcast and amplification equipment, and transport for both contingents of Lukin’s extended family.
“I believe you have recently closed and taken control of a school to the north and west, far enough beyond the centers of population to afford privacy. There is enough land for a buffering zone, gardens, basic self-sufficiency.”
Unsure where this might be going, Jorel concedes her information. “The Harmony Academy. Several of your people were shareholders in the enterprise. Some as well were prominent faculty. The people had been hearing unsavory rumors about goings on there. Some of your social experiments, group sex, occult ceremonies, dangerous ideas being spread. We arrested several of the major shareholder/instigators. The property is in the hands of the City Council until we auction it off.”
“Yes!” Caela seems almost glowing. “A dangerous idea – but danger can be a challenging doorway to glorious adventure, or the price of a longed for treasure. Sell me this school. I will pay whatever price you ask, over time from my profits. I will start a school to teach our people how to find their precious abilities, along with immediately practical healing techniques.”
Jorel is intrigued, more by her thrilling energy than her words, her proposition. The Chief Councilor in him smells trouble, but it has more the feeling of a reflexive defense than a real threat. It’s not about a financial arrangement. He has no doubt this witch woman will make good. He fears her power. Yet, somehow, it is a good fear, a call to challenge to his self-image as a brave man.
Or was that the witchery? Was she playing on his sympathies, bewitching his mind, dissolving his strong-willed resolve?
“How would this school help with the immediate situation? Are you going to single-handed convert us all? What could you teach us that would be to our advantage? I am sure you could turn a fine profit and pay your way, benefit the city coffers in return for our protection. Though I am also sure we could not guarantee your safety at any price. What are you offering these people?” He gestures grandly toward the ever greater unrest of the ever larger crowd just outside this governmental edifice. “How will you pay them for your life?”
“With theirs, of course.” She laughs, briefly, out of irrepressible mirth. “I am a healer. I have learned long, well and wisely so many methods, so many ways of being ill and injured, how to recover, become a new whole, stronger, better prepared to go forward, healthier, more completely alive. But I have no need to take the whole task upon my self. I can easily train those willing to learn to assist me, more easily at first those who have already developed the sensitivities more natural to we witchfolk. Over time, with longer training, we will be able to expand our pool of potential healers and trainers from graduates of our school, no matter which of our clans they have been born of. Really, it is simple. Together we can make it be. Let us be partners, allies in a wonderful enterprise.
Please, now, arrange for these children waiting for their verdict, and their chaperone, in the next room, to be taken to the school grounds. Make arrangements also for their parents, now held in your prison, to join them there. They can get started putting the place in order for our clientele. Eventually our children can learn together, and from each other, what we need to know to be a successful people together.”
Her senses and contexts expanded by what she has learned, accepted, assimilated through her interchanges, gifts now shared with the forest, Caela feels the wounds these people carry, incubate, spread. “Here and now.” Her eyes move from the disturbance escalating outside, lock onto Jorel’s. “Those abilities within us that you fear, that you covet, keeping you caught up in the belief that we witchfolk are a superior enemy to be shunned and destroyed, that gift is already yours as well. You can learn to find it within you, to access, develop, use your own innate abilities. You can be set free of this mistaken need for hatred which drains your energies, takes from you what you could be.”
“But how? Even saying you might be right about some latent witch genetics in some of us, that would just be more divisive. Even those of us with the potential for this so-called gift would have no idea how to make use of it. If they did learn, they would just be more of you, no longer to be trusted.” Jorel’s attention, divided between that enthralled to the witch’s spellbinding charisma and the sure threat of the outside mob scene, is not grasping how to reconcile the two.
“Not some, not witchblood. Human blood. Our people came of yours. What we have is but amplified genetically. The right kind of training could build these abilities from potential within all of you as well.”
“If you could get them to take your training, even if what you say were true. They would rather tear you apart then ever look upon you as their human kin. You are not their kin, nor for that matter mine. You are as alien to us in your own way as the natural lifeforms of our adopted home. What do you intend? To simply walk among those angry mobs and break them to your will with a smile?”
Caela smiles broadly. Jorel sneers, not knowing what to make of her, feeling mocked.
“No, I am not mocking you. I do respect your words, your experience, your sincere desire to avoid rampant violence.”
Jorel is mollified. He really does like this witch woman, wishes she could, they could, resolve this mess he knows is partially of his making. But if the instigations of his political maneuverings were all that was in their way they would not have such an intractable problem. He had only manipulated a deeply held antipathy, not brought it into being.
“I am sorry.” He admits his culpability while regretting the futility of his power. He does not understand why she still smiles, obviously, gently, as a collaborator rather than the opposition.
“Your people believe they want us gone. Whatever the reasons, these are palpable intentions. They are inflamed, and need careful tending lest they explode. This would harm them, and you, more than we would feel it in the situations we are already in.” Her voice and manner so sweetly calm. Images merely illustrative, not as inflammatory as what they represent.
This is merely prologue.
Sandwiches and energy drinks are brought in by an aide, for those in the antechamber and the two in the main room. Apparently energy will be needed both for waiting and for negotiations. The aide silently disappears, on to other duties, perhaps speculations.
“Yes, those festering people in the streets, living out their day to days, waiting impatiently for justice, if that is all they think they can get. They don’t know we’re here yet, do they? Under the auspices of their representative in chief, eating sandwiches and leisurely chatting or sitting quietly in an antechamber awaiting the possibility of freedom. Are we your enemies?”
He could feel implicit threat, but softly gloved because this threat could cut both ways. Delicacy in the balance of shifting forces is not a theoretical concept, but obvious sensation. The thorny, twisty problem is clearly delineated.
“If you but think, you know, at this point of our social history our biologies have mixed so that many of our people are not one thing or the other. In the natural course, this will continue. We are not enemies, but kinfolk. We are human beings upon this planet foreign to our origins, but now the only home we know. All of us are aliens together, making this world our home. We are natural allies, tribesmen, sharing our individual wealth of skills and personal resources in common enterprise, as our ancestor colonists meant us to be.”
“That’s all very nice and philosophical.” Jorel has found his voice. “We have an immediate situation to deal with here, as you yourself point out. It certainly isn’t gong to help quell the fears of the masses to tell them you people have infiltrated their very DNA. They won’t know who to trust. That could create widespread panic less controllable than what we have now. What can you tell me, witch, that I can use?”
Outside the window of the Chief Councilor’s chambers, a crowd can be seen slowly gathering, gaining in numbers and loudness, on the street below. They do not appear to be in a mood of celebration. Their voices are angry. Their words indistinct, but their faces look more pinched and resigned then empowered. This is not a crowd expressing healthy anger against injustice, or grievances for which they expect redress. This is the face of a desperate response to long felt helplessness, ill-use, built out of a poverty of trust, foundations crumbling. Caela feels their surging waves of murky emotion. Disgust, fear, raw rage, harsh bitter brittleness, ready to break. What has done this to a people whose legacy was meant to be freedoms and opportunities far beyond what would have been left to them by the human confusion, pollution, insanity their ancestors had thought left behind on Earth?
The Chief Councilor was not a simple soldier. He was not a follower, but a leader practiced in the ways of power. He was a senior politician, used to tricks, manipulations, maneouverings, his opponents’ and his own. This was not a man easily trifled with or stared down. This was a man who could be persuaded, only if he could be made to clearly see his own advantage. Caela could do that. She could show him in clear imagery and well placed words exactly what he had to gain, and what losses he would no longer need to fear or calculate. Caela was not a politician, had never seen herself as a leader, or a follower. She knew the human mind. She understood the inner workings of will and desire. Power may think itself an irresistible force. When it meets calm acceptance, wrapped in well-reasoned, irrefutable logic, power can become a sheepish child happy to find common ground, if that power is backed by intelligence.
The Chief Councilor is an intelligent man. He can acknowledge Caela’s wisdom, in his own self-interest. In this case, how fortunate, it is enlightened self-interest, a win-win-win for himself, his constituents, and Caela’s.
Toriv and the children sit in the anteroom while the principles palaver. They do not feel assured of their fate. Fear, though, mingles with hope, a most potent cocktail keeping them still, locked in their long moments of anticipation.
In the Chief Councilor’s chambers, something akin to a miracle seems to him to be taking place. Even before she spoke, this strange, primitively dressed old woman has pulled from him his total attention. He feels he would not be able to turn from her nor tune out one iota of her message even should he be able to form such a desire. So much more than compelling, this is the most immediately real experience he has ever known.
“I am Caela, of the witchfolk.” Her words enter his mind accompanied with rich imagery, a gestalt of intent and comprehension.
“You do not need to be told of my journey, nor my history. You need to know that together we can come back from this mess between our people. We can all gain from each other, and become the one people we are meant to be.
Someday, after the immediate wounds have healed, scarred over, my people, the exiles, or your people of this city, or both, will make inroads into the land between. Those of the witchfolk here are few and dwindling. They have shown serious concern to improve their numbers through social experiments designed to increase procreation. I know you have noted and were nervous about this. But my point, they are dwindling. You could round them up or let them be. They would all but disappear over time. Yet the time bomb still exists to your South. I tell you this to let you know I come not as an outside agitator nor advocate for others. I have a stake in this outcome. My agenda is open to you. By the time the people I have been a part of reunite with these of the city, the rift needs to have been healed. The reuniting must come as separated kin coming together in celebration.”
Caela’s imagery, more than convincing of her conviction, flows, eloquent. Chief Councilor Jorel (proudly named for his spaceship captain ancestor), finds himself to be fascinated, eagerly awaiting what may come next sparking from her intelligence to his.
Caela and Lukin touch hand into hand, facing each into shining open eyes, hug solemnly. The children feel as secure as any mother’s love could provide. Toriv as well feels that love, allowing himself the relief, the luxury of relinquishing a responsibility he had no idea how to fulfill. None doubted, assured in Caela’s confidence, that no harm would now befall them.
The knock at the door was no shock, no surprise. Neither were the officially uniformed pair of large brutes whose entrance their knocking barely preceded. They were the ones not so much shocked or surprised as amazed and disarmed by an old woman from the other side of the deep woods.
At Caela’s instigation, she, Toriv and the children were escorted to the official vehicle brought for their transport to an interrogation area.
“You mean to take these children, and the man who has harbored them, to someone with more authority than you for their questioning and incarceration, yes?” Caela had quietly, patiently suggested, clearly eyeing the soldiers. They could but nod, confused.
“Take us all to the supreme commander of your government. We have negotiations to begin.” She commanded them as surely as any of those officers they had been trained to obey with alacrity, without question. Also, there was some strange subtly commanding desire they could feel overtaking any objection before it could form in their minds. It did not feel strange at all to do as this unknown woman said. It only felt strange to have any idea to the contrary.
Off they all go to see the Chief Councilor, head of the city’s governmental body. On the way, Caela is able to collaborate with Lukin in forming a link of communication with Merin in his cell at the prison compound. He and the rest of the adult members of Sira’s extended family are being held, their jailors believe incommunicado, out of sight out of mind of those of the city’s populace enraged against them. Unthinking rage, used so easily in political rallying, is not always so easily controlled. None of Sira’s political enemies had ever intended harm to the children. They thought the outrage would die down once the maligned adults had been apprehended, sent into perdition for punishment of their insinuated crimes. Yet the people were calling to extinguish this evil subspecies, as they imagined the witchpeople to be, from their lives, utterly, completely, finally. These people had for so long been unhappy, silently or uproariously building up angers over the miseries they felt visited upon their lives from some unnamed foe. Having found a name, they now must vanquish those of that brand. To their rage, it was all quite simple. Anger can be a potent force for action. Once devolved to impotent rage, it is bereft of the solidity of reason and can only, when released, destroy.
Merin, glad for the distraction maybe even more than the hope of aid, fills Caela in on the pertinent history, the players, the games, the scores and strategies, cultural myths, background conditions, that she had missed while living her life on the other side of the woods. He is promised a detailed history of Caela’s community once the crisis has passed and there is time for the less immediate.
Out of the Woods
Under cover of storm, those who might have been about all secured in their dwellings, Caela walks across the fields in a straight line to her destination.
By the time she got to Toriv’s school, the storm was spent. Soggy ground, grey sky, wind and rain now but wistful breeze and mist. A dark wet day for a stranger’s sudden appearance. The main house was abuzz with speculation.
There was already much concern about the troop of children Toriv had mysteriously taken in. Some kin of Merin’s, a dear teacher to many of them, but still unsettling. These are people who spook easily, do not trust strangers. They are not even on easy terms with their neighbors. They have chosen to live this more primitive style of life, as they see it, in order to be left alone, away from prying eyes and possible recrimination.
“That was why we had to. We had to protect ourselves. We couldn’t appear to be dangerous, harboring undesirables, enemies of the state.” They told themselves they had no choice. They needed to protect their own noble cause, the preservation of their kind. Toriv kept to himself at the school, apart from them. His concern was his own son, Kirin, and the children he taught; but now these other children as well. He is not part of their cohesive group, not really. “These children aren’t either, none of our concern. What are they doing here anyway, needing to be fed and who knows for how long put up with? It’s not that we wish them ill. Of course we don’t. They are children. But surely no real harm will come to them. Surely the authorities searching for them have everyone’s best interests at heart. They will just send over a couple of city reps to take the children away, probably to quite appropriate and loving foster care. We will be left alone. No one will have any argument with us.”
But perhaps this stranger has come to spirit the children away. “Perhaps we were too hasty in our action, reporting the presence here of these controversial youngsters. Oh, we don’t know what to think.”
No matter. Ripples of forces in motion find their outlets, moving acts and actors into place. Caela hears the chatter from the house as she walks up to the school door. She feels familiarity from those inside. They have been expecting her, without entirely knowing whom to expect. There are others expected soon, by those in the main house, whom Toriv and the children are happy not to see yet at their door. Never mind. It will all play out very soon. First, introductions must be made, brief summaries of stories exchanged, the creation of a bond already in the forming to be acknowledged.
There is still a distance, more than several days worth of traversing, between here and there. Caela prepares for sleep, for potent dreaming. There is something within her in need of awakening. It feels, yes, just ready to be released, to claim its power. Is this a spirit child of Caela, of the forest mind, ready to be born as Caela’s sacred internal daughter, a part of (not apart from) herself?
“I see the cruelty, the stupidity. A tight fist. Harsh measures. Petty meanness because we dare not weaken, dare not show a chink of kindness, dare not relax. Nowhere that deep relaxation, every cell of life open to receive, to exchange expiration for inspiration. Tight disciplined cognitions, never too alive, never to allow dangerous chinks of doubt, unsettling openings to chaos. Fear is palpable, but more. It is gripping. Addictive. You need more and more to even feel, to not go numb with the senselessness, with the constancy. I feel it all. Where? How? I am moving through a forest. One footfall into the next. I see is in dual visions. I am perceiving far beyond my natural range. My senses, my cognitions, doubling up, increasing in velocity and intensity. The me I have known too slow to keep up falls behind. There is so much more to me. No binding down into mere panoramas of perception. I feel, see, cognate, extend, a greater totality. This I is not a limitation. Consciousness accelerates. Mind is not a boundary. Every sensation is infinite, eternal, completely integrated. Yet, here I am, still conscious of my own being, biography, will. Ecstatically integrated beyond my temporal concerns, yet so very grounded, root to stem, to sky. I am of this ground, of this sky, and of what comes between. I am a woman traversing a forest that has become my kin and my home. I am a multi-cultural consciousness in motion through space and time. I am a story in the telling, spinning outward, revealing my wisdom as it is acquired. I am a harbinger of sanity composed of beauty, of grace, of intricate balance moving dynamically through simple resonance.” Potent dreaming, indeed.
She awoke to a world exactly different. Nothing significant had changed in the time of her dreaming, except for Caela herself. She made all the difference. Seeing, hearing, touching with a different mental construct to decipher the sensory code, she discovered a whole new world.
Lukin’s impressions are still available. She can look; she can feel his pain, as his not hers. She knows her help and healing is needed. She can taste the forest throughout all her senses, molecular communication from self to self. She can also sense all the busy beings, all the selves working out their lives, or not. Pain, pleasure, the ennui of emotional defeat, the exhilaration of new challenge, the fearful raging, exhausted confusion, the newly forming consciousness opening an inner eye, the lurking of an inner smile. It is what it is, malleable, ready for change, so long as no one let’s it know it is changing.
Caela reaches, tentative and sincere. Enjoying the flickering light of subtle conclusions, she feels herself gently calming, a feathery serene presence, in Lukin’s consciousness. He tells his cadre there is help on the way. Strange, but he can know this so surely without knowing how or when, or whom. Strangely, they trust his seemingly occult knowledge. On that not quite conscious level, they too feel touched by the strands, the subtle movements of change, the ripples on the breeze.
Not all prayers are answered. Not all needs are fulfilled. Tragedies often come to pass, unaverted. This is not one of those. Sometimes there is a miracle. Powerful, subtle forces converge. We can feel that electricity playing among our circuits. Not all storms bring destruction. Rain, wind, electrical release, can bring potent healing.
Caela feels a beautiful storm brewing. She stands open to the elements, ready for their guidance in the ways of power.
The forest, proud of its consort, sings into the wind and rain, rejoicing in storm and song. Unnumbered flowers await blooming. What a beautiful day!
Opening that sharing place in her mind to full sensitivity, Caela feels bathed in totality of loving joy, bliss. All the busy interplay of forest life flutters through her senses. Not so much walking as dancing in that interplay, she partakes of life’s daily rituals. It is a brief, though eternal, idyll.
A human voice not her own, but one now well recognized, falls like thunder into her peaceful reverie in forest time. It is the boy who called her here, his own mind, not the forest’s allegory. He is somehow physically nearer, though still at some distance. Perhaps she has been moving with purpose, closer to his situation. It is not her mind he set out to link to. She is an accidental recipient, along with the intended ones. The story he relays tells her that in the greater scheme this accidental receiver is exactly the person required by that situation. Currents are crossing, lives in the balance.
The boy, Lukin, his story, sifted out from what he relays from his grandfather to the other children, his family. They were more comfortable sharing this information in a manner avoiding the wrong people’s overhearing. Not sure how or why she was let in on these family secrets, Caela delved deeper into Lukin’s memories. She felt no resistance, despite his clear alert cunning in the face of danger. “We both know I am not dangerous. It is understood that I am here as ally.” Caela listened and took in the background of her original calling into the forest by this child caught up in more than he could clearly comprehend. Caela, from her vantage point outside the maelstrom, could apprehend the bigger picture.
The children had been sent, under cover of subterfuge, to a sort of uncle, Toriv, a witchfolk teacher of the young. Their parents were being hunted down malevolently, essentially for thought crime. Guilty of the wrong kind of identity, of hiding their guilt. Conspiracy. Cover-up. Making authorities in control of terrible power feel like fools. Yet, it is the quiet power of these frightened, pitiful few that those in authority fear to the point of demanding extermination. A real mess these kids have been thrust into. Now they have word from Lukin’s grandfather, Merin, with whom he has maintained a mind link, that the adults in question, himself included, have been arrested. No further help can be expected for these forcibly abandoned children from their forcefully incarcerated kin.
The forest is complicit. These children must be aided. While Toriv may be a good man, he is too much an innocent, caught up in too much that he can not understand. His education has been more in ideals than practicalities. He has allowed himself to be sheltered from truly harsh experience. He has been foolish enough to see his disappointments as tragedies. Faced with so much more drastic circumstances and consequences, he is but another frightened child.
Does Lukin, the young leader of his small troop of frightened children, possess and pass on these insights about Toriv? The forest somehow amplifies Lukin’s mind for her. It has a stake in this meeting and outcome. Caela, beloved, healer, has intertwined missions to accept and follow through. This is a time of crisis. A point of stress built up of forces now converging offers unique opportunities. For abiding consciousness, preparing, alert to rumbles and shiftings that foretell action available to outside direction, this is a sacred occasion.
So welcome to be undivided, safely within forest consciousness. Feeling every experiential frame falling into place, blending. Light, airy viscosity, like breathing bliss, in, out, all around, a solid-liquid-ethereal state in which thought, movement, awareness is fluid, unset in form, actively adapting, expecting only what is.
“I am actively adapting. I am whole as solution, dissolving while redefining, in all ways an accumulating summing, of perceptions, cognitions, interweavings.” Revelatory impressions rippling through, Caela walks in a foreground shaped by her background, steps interacting with ground, skin interacting with all the migratory molecules, movement as a whole system, within wider wholes, spiraling cycles, widening Caela’s range of perceptions. “I am; and I expand and am expanded, with every interchange of breath, every synchrony of symbol and response, every crystallized moment merging into the next.”
And the next
“I had to learn, to teach myself carefully, who is this I, my private self, my separate consciousness. I had to keep myself whole and pure, individualized. I needed to be me to hold on to my ability to work with my patients in pain, help their separate individual systems to heal after wounding. Of course I felt deep bonding, relationship, love. I could let go with Singer, fuse with his so familiar, so inextricable beauty. Even so, I knew: this is me, in pieces and their combined integrity. No mistaking others’ cognitions for mine. Here, though, I am integrating with this other, this nonhuman consciousness, communicating in direct sensation on liminal planes of natural awareness. I as myself continues even as we expand through mutuality. Strongly self-identified, I embrace, assimilate, share beyond compassion. It is not so much a separation as a hyper-awareness. All these floating impressions, imparting graceful strands of wisdom, enhancing my tapestry. I praise the artist, consciously in awe of the art flowing through me. My multi-layered friend, I know you understand. Your comprehension is whole, absorption essential, active, taking nothing that is not enhanced and shared. How have I lived so long in your presence and never before known you at all? Singer only knew of you what you both needed to sing, a specified arrangement of love. He shared with me what I was willing to see, shared his music that was of his essence influenced by yours. I was busy, caught up in concerns of what was then here and now. You were not my concern. You lived as eternally, abiding, direct perception, without my conscious thought.” Caela’s human cognitive impressions work though perception’s code, translating into a foreign tongue. Tasting her essence in flicking serpent-like strokes, thus pleasured, the forest releases its love. We know what and who we know. Love exists as grace, or not at all.
“I am proud of being human, woman, tribal representative, individual being on my own. I am proud to know and be known by you, to feel this loving acceptance. I am amazed, awed, deeply gratified by your stories, the grandness of your beauty.” Thus grows a beautiful friendship.
Another mother appeared, ghostly drifting in sudden mist. “Did you grieve for me?” It is Letta’s spirit, a mother’s love Caela has not felt since she was almost too young to remember it’s sweet beauty.
“I grieved for you while you still stood before me in strange imitation of life. I tried so hard to reach you. You would not be reached, would not respond, would not know me.”
Caela felt that grief again, a scarred old wound that could still throb when disinterred, angry, red, infected, long controlled into quietude.
“You know I never meant to leave you. I never meant to betray our bond. As you say, my life ended long before my body died. I never knew it could happen that way. I never knew how to find my way back to you. It wasn’t that I loved her more, no longer needed you. All love, all feeling, was lost from me. I had nothing to give, no way to receive. But, look at you. You give and take in more than anyone I have ever known. I am gifted with this chance to feel the love, pride, pure pleasure, in knowing what you, my precious daughter, have become.”
And she was gone, dissolved into the mist which itself dissolved into a sweet, brightly colored flowery glade. Caela stopped to smell the flowers, inhaling a heady mixture of scent memories. She sat, relaxing her weight against a broad tree trunk, letting her freely flowing tears water the landscape until she drifted off into a different consciousness.
“Why do your people divide? Not just here and there, spatial separations, but even within? Mothers and children separate to expand living. Death separates, but renews – feeding the whole. Yet your whole rebels, rejects connection. No, some connect. But not the whole, not seed to root to stem. Even a healer can still be divided. You have strong presence, strong awareness and integrity of self. You are separate from your kind, also because of your own conscious striving to wholeness of self. How is this? To what purpose? Feel your way along the division, healer. Can you weave it whole? See this spiral dance? Reattach your shadow as a companion of play, and dance so sweetly, so free, complete in every movement, every moment, in living embrace of music vibrating eternally. These are your pictures, your words, imbued with that which is love calling between us.”
As other loves had implanted their brightly precious cuttings through Caela’s being, she now accepted this growing loving friendship with sentience not of her kind, nor of the world her ancestors called home. What is home but where we learn to be and feel alive?
It was Singer. Really him. If this is a dream, it is a real dream, more real than the dreams of ordinary awake life. He had always loved this natural world. It was part of him; he part of it. Perhaps she was called because of that of Singer which was in her. Now he is here so I can touch him, even if in the way of dreams. Why is one significant touch so powerful, so deeply held in the realm of essential desire? Caela doesn’t question. She drinks in that essence so immediate, so necessary. She dreams so intensely, as if lives were in the balance. When the rain comes, it is warm and gentle enough to meld into her dream.
Here she was, a great-grandmother. Felicity’s oldest, Solia, had had her baby just a few seasons past. Still, her heart was that of a passionate young lover. This forest, so far from human, seemed to understand and take joy in her. She felt welcomed as long wandering kin, with so much to catch up on. As she walked again in the sunshine, she openly shared her memories as the forest, too, shared its stories. They found common nonlinear, nonlingual, imaginal, perceptual language. Was this how it had been in that mythical garden of Earth, the Eden for which this planet had been named by human invaders? Was there a time in the early history of man when he and the Earth had been companiable kin? Could that kind of relationship be formed here, now? Could there be a reconciliation, a healing? What is this primal wound that keeps humankind from wholeness, integration with life? Caela has no reason to leave this forest. She can make a home here. She can make a new kind of life within this friendship she is forging. She misses her old friends, family, as she thinks of them, remembers their presence. Here in this forest she has found a reuniting with spirits of those she had thought lost to death. She found that something most meaningful of them living joyfully within her. She knew when she entered this forest that she was saying good-bye to those she was leaving behind. Something of them too lives in her, carried with her, wherever she finds herself.
Young furry creatures playing, chasing each other, tumbling, acting out ferocity that disarms itself with chittering laughter, reminds Caela of the children she left behind. The ones she raised were now children long ago. Larik has become a fine young man. Though quiet, preferring solitude to society, he enjoys his life tending to his companion animals and plants on his mother, Maea’s small family farm. The other young people living in what has been expanded from Maris’s old homestead, as well as those older folks he has always known as family, love and respect him for exactly who he is. Caela no longer has regrets about Larik, the circumstances and her part in how he was born. Their time together gave them both what they needed to grow strong, to heal, to learn to be more because of who they had been, where that had taken them. Yet, Solia, without those scars, was her own unique wonderfully alive young woman, adored and cherished by all who knew her. She had always been that magical, blessed child, even more so than that enchanting Felicity, her role model mom, had always been. Teren, quietly calm, shiningly creative, strong, magical, loving, had been such a perfect complement to Felicity’s willful insouciance. Solia was their perfect blend. Yeah, yeah, everyone has their faults. That stipulated, faults can often be the most endearing of what our loved ones see in us. Spiteful moments, bouts of vanity or self-pity, the occasional tantrum or thoughtless hurtful remark is easily subsumed into a generally remarkably lovely character. Caela brags to her forest friend, showing snapshots from the family album she carries within.
They are mothers, together sharing the joy and mystery of life.
“Did you grieve?” A grey solitary ghost came forward with open palms, tears dripping down her cheeks, thin, wan, faint, but with intense presence. The forest became a sanctuary, a shrine, a temple of worship and sacrifice. A dark pit slowly manifested, a well for sorrow. Each ghost contributed tears, wrenching sobs, wailing, whatever they could give. Caela felt herself dancing around the pit, drawn irresistibly into the music of ghostly crying. Coming into her notice, she saw her longed for long dead loved ones among the ghosts, crying with her over her loss. Slowly, hypnotized, she moved toward their circle. They embraced her, an ectoplasmic affirmation of love, dispelling sorrow. But what of those other wounded spirits? How could they be helped? Were Caela’s deeply embedded wounds so easily healed; or was this uplifting but part of an ongoing process? If we can be ever moving in the direction of healing, no matter how slowly, Caela was thinking. Silently smiling in the center of the pain, wonderful gifts of lives leaving those behind forever better because of the beauty imparted into who we become. When we can let go of the pain and be the totality of who our interchanges and experiences have created, will that be a new kind of wholeness? Could this tentative resolution be useful to the forest’s spirits?
The well of sorrow metamorphosed into a peaceful pond in which graceful gliding silvery creatures glinted in the sunlight. Caela sat upon a convenient large smooth stony surface enjoying the solitude and warmth.
Yet, how strange, she was not alone. A self-possessed child, bright and lively, mature for his years, sat beside her. His image wavered a bit when she looked more closely. She could hear him speaking, though he appeared to be silent. “What was taken from us is still being taken. How can we reconcile, heal, absorb to grow, when our energy must focus on defense against pernicious, chronic attack? Our enemies have not been dissuaded by stoic resolve nor peaceful co-existence. They want blood sacrifice. They are angry beyond reason, calling forth such emotion in we who feel so poignantly a need to arise, take back what we can.”
This was the voice that had called her into the forest, into this newly forming relationship offering new ways of perceiving. The boy was gone, not waiting for an answer. He had given his message. Their people are still being attacked. The exile solved nothing. Had all the witchfolk been rooted out, wouldn’t others with some articulable difference be set apart as scapegoat, blood sacrifice? Does disregard of indigenous life come from a same core of xenophobic disdain? A cognitive confusion of anger, fear, manifesting desire for mastery, control, superior positioning? Back to walking, these puzzles her companions, ghosts dissipated in the sunlight while Caela’s focus is more inward. Why would xenophobes travel so far? Was there nothing left on Earth for them to claim? Or was it the children of the pioneers, born into a less clear purpose, into a world still not their own? Caela’s eyes were drawn to the only sky she had ever known. Brilliant with colors of the setting sun filtered through atmosphere, shape-shifting clouds showing off in deepening hues. Caela stopped her forward motion, turning her purpose to preparing for the night. For a passing moment she considered that she had no recollection of how many days and nights had passed while she and this ancient forest renewed and deepened their acquaintance. Then, back in the gentle flow of this time, she continued her rituals of preparation.
Resigned sadness permeated Caela’s mind. It was not hers. She was happy, buoyant, enjoying the scents, the sounds, colors, sensory bliss, her own good company. She felt compassion for the sadness, but did not carry its weight. She did not feel resigned. Her blood felt wild within, her mind sharp and questing. Readying to meet any challenge, outmaneuver any obstacle, fully enjoy each next thing, still she listened. Hearing the stories, envisioning that imagery, Caela felt their desperate shadows. As when Larik was small, confused, angry because he did not know how to respond to frustration, Caela felt love. Flowing through her response to angry visions was loving calm, gentle acknowledgement, glad acceptance, open embrace.
Larik always so wanted to be good. He needed constant reassurance. Is that what provides the resilience to face down obstacles to integrity? The deeply cried out for reassurance that, yes you are good and deserve that recognition? So much of the “bad” young people do is naked self-destruction, proving to the world what they have been told: that they are bad, undeserving of respect or real love. Larik was born into horrendous fear, grief, despair. He had no way of knowing these were not his fault until Caela made that clear. It came from what she had learned raising his mother, along with her own daughter. Maea was so much more needy than Felicity. Mirra and Doren didn’t understand her the way Caela could. They were still too caught up in their own childhood dramas, recreating in their adult relationships the conditions to fulfill needs never acknowledged. So complicated, so tragic in large and small ways these misunderstandings, disregardings, minimizing of the importance of respect, consideration, for those we do not fully see.
Caela has been practiced, tried by fire in her own way. Opening her heart to these long festering injured spirits, bespeaking her in their desperation to be heard, feels natural, an outgrowth of who she has always been becoming. The forest and its spirits accept her love. They love her in return, not as a representative of her kind, but as her own unique entity. The seed growing in her since her birth is flowering. Multiple gradations of coloration, complex heady perfume, this flower, this Caela, is as beautiful as they come. Human hag, old, wrinkled, grey, yet what she projects transcends such definitions. Walking, traversing light and shade, consciousness as well moves. First cause, first principle: keep moving.
“Something vital was taken from us. We don’t know how to respond. We are wounded, unwhole. Tell us, healer, how do we reconcile? How do we grow new hearts, neural pathways, create what we need to feel alright?” A common theme so may of the ghosts agreed on. Caela too felt severing losses that had overwhelmed her, wrenched away good lives, those she most depended upon.
They had assembled in ghostly presence, those from early memory who had walked with her through this forest. These spirits had not aged as the bodies that had carried them did over years in the human environment formed in the soft divide of this vast woodland natural to this world. So many of these she had traveled with were gone now. Yet here they appeared to her shifting in guises from that previous time in their lives. Shifting positions, faces, garments, props, several of these dream ghosts bespoke her, as if acting out a morality play, vagabonds in the woods begging for favor. The ground around her shifted as well, quaking, dream sand turning quick, sticky, flimsy, unstable. Yet she was not falling through, but with this slow-motion molten panorama. Voices, figures fashioned of old friends, memories, and memories of what had never manifested past fears and dreams, continued their performances into changing scenes. Too amazed and swept up to notice fear or her own reactions, Caela dreamed unlike any dream she had known before.
“Somebody called me. Was it you?” she asked of each ghostly presence. They all had their stories. These became a song of endless verses. When she awoke with the morning light, Caela was still singing. The feelings evoked by the dream lingered. Still dreaming, she resumed walking, perceiving multi-layered forest imperceptibly interweaving with the many layers Caela had never realized she contained.
Or was it the forest bespeaking her? She felt drawn to shiny succulent fruits when her thirst needed slaking. Their dripping nectar gave not only moisture but renewed energy. When she needed rest, she felt drawn to securely comforting soft vegetation. She found herself frequently accompanied by soft, chittering creatures, droll and endearing, somehow leading her into wordless conversation. Her human ghosts too had their say, quietly, whispering barely discernibly in the shadows. Far from frightening or unwelcome, these gentle, often changing companions amused Caela, engaged her attention, set off trails of reveries. “Tell me.” she whispered in return. Not dreaming, but seeing in a way that accessed unexplored places in her mind, Caela’s rhythmic movement, her very open senses, her willing acceptance of mystery, was rewarded.
“I was a tailor. I measured fabric, repaired treasured garments. I was not a monster. Mostly I was generous and kind. Not always. I still regret yelling so angrily at my little daughter when she scrambled my buttons and clasps in innocent play. I should have made a game of sorting them out together. But they sent us away, tore us from our hard-won through diligent working lives. Not because we may have been at times unkind or foolish, but just because we were.”
Caela felt the memory of tears. “But you found another life.” She wanted to give comfort.
“But it was not the life I wanted, worked for, chose over my years of childhood to give my devotion. I found another life out of necessity. I never found justice for the life taken from me.”
The forest too had life taken from it without its choice. The small clearing her people had taken was not such an issue. Of course over time and human ideas of progress it could become much worse, like the city. When the settlers first arrived, they took over only small areas, as the witchfolk did now. They took only what their several hundreds needed for continued life. They were careful, not knowing what to expect. Now they have claimed ownership of everything within their range of sight, as if by natural order. Perhaps it is the natural order. There they are.
Old man rabbit feels the call. He is not so spry nor sharp of sight as he once was. It is good that he is called; better than the young ones with much life and potential still in them. Old man rabbit is not afraid. More curious than anything, “What is this will that calls me? I am a rabbit, burrowing in the earth, gnawing on roots, nibbling on leaves, ever wary of the predator in all his mighty forms. I am quick and sensitive, enough, while I am lucky, to survive and become old – too old to count on luck everlasting. I have never felt a call such as this, overtaking a will I had not been aware of possessing. What is an old man rabbit to do? Thought is a foreign concept. Action, reaction, that’s what I do. An overwhelming power pulls me closer. Without thought or emotion, I follow the pull. Am I to be eaten by a mighty foe? That is, no doubt, my destiny. I am to be honored by assimilation into the great mystery of life eternal. In this way, prey becomes predator, becomes mulch, falls back into the cycle, becomes the essence of life.”
“Come to me old man rabbit. I call you, with deepest respect, to offer me your lifeforce that I may continue to have the strength necessary for my mission. I enwrap you in a happy, peaceful dream as your life recedes. I consume your remains with reverence, feel the essence of your sacred sacrifice.”
Thus Caela bespoke the creature in their conjoined fields of consciousness, binding it to her will. A special kind of hunter, conjuring the prey into view, into giving itself to her need. A very special power must be tempered with love, compassion, humility. It is well that such power be discovered in a time of liminal contemplation, that it be honored and addressed appropriately. It would not do to be overtaken by fear or bravado, or a desire for self-aggrandizement. All of this Caela understood as she sat there, in what seemed the beginning of the world, in a state of reverence and awe.
She prepared and ate the old rabbit. It took a bit of cooking covered by wet leaves on stones in the fire pit. It was clear to her that what she had gained from this lesson was much more than a full stomach or added strength and vigor. It was clear that her strength and will, her gift, were much stronger, subtler, more powerful than she had dared to imagine when she had lived as part of a bustling community.
It was clear that this knowledge was now being revealed so that she could hone her skills for the adventure ahead. Whatever was to fall across her path to be overcome, this time alone, learning the ways of her spirit, would surely give her the skills and confidence to do what she must.
Replenished, Caela watched the last performances of flame as the fire consumed what wood it had been given. Darkening forest, ebbing, flames, tired body ready to sleep. She found her way back to a nearby sheltered grove noted in her earlier brief exploration. Having improved it for her purpose in rudimentary fashion, Caela lay down upon the soft forest floor and relaxed into dreams.
First, find food. There is water running in the narrowing/widening stream she can hear and smell. Water is water, pure without pollutants. Minerals are minerals. This planet seems to be pretty much of the same kinds as Earth. We have lived here all these years unpoisoned. Caela’s people had dug wells to make use of the water in underground springs. They had devised irrigation for their plants. They had lived all their lives with, more and more as part of, this land, this sky.
After food, find a place to sleep of soft mosses, grasses, loam, dry enough, secured enough from rain and other detriments to sleep. Simple survival, basic building blocks of communication life to life in those simple, basic demands of biology.
Caela stopped walking; sat in the curve of an old gnarled tree. Listening intently, reaching out from a primal place in her mind into the teeming, pulsing life surrounding her, she drew it in with her breath. Very still beyond rhythmic breathing, she sat for a small arc of eternity. Heightened awareness to all sensory data without intrusion of conscious thought, Caela was finding her rhythm, the tune, the music of forest life with which she could improvise, sit in, sing along.
When he was till quite small, Larik had found and brought to her a sharp, jagged rock of clear, hard crystal. Over time she had found it to be a useful tool for digging, cutting, grinding herbs, even focusing sunlight to start tinder burning. She kept it in a pouch tied to the woven belt around her waist (a more recent gift, from Maea now settled into Grandmother Maris’s legacy). Had she not this fortuitous, familiar tool she no doubt would have found what she needed, made plans around what she found, for foraging. No doubt her crystal ally had originated in another part of this forest. Thus Caela amused herself with thoughts on the vagaries of fortune while digging a fire pit, arranging stones, tinder, various widths of fallen branches which she broke down to appropriate size.
Making preparation, not far from the stream. Moving through these purposeful actions as if in meditative ritual, Caela felt herself getting caught up in a quietly graceful dance, each movement blurring into the next. Bright sun star shining into rippling water, trees standing their ground as branches play with breeze, rustling scratching chirping squeaking creatures playing out their destinies, dramas, simple cycles of life. Caela discovering while creating her way in, feeling satisfaction in this expression of her consciousness, carrying water on broad leaves from stream to pit site, becoming hunter-gatherer natural human being.
Into the Woods
At first she walked without thought, mind caught up in languageless reverie, body exquisitely attuned to every sound, scent, touch of living plant against her skin. Feet and arms bare to ground and air, though toughened by years of work and exposure, Caela moved into this landscape bare of expectation.
Scurrying, hiding creatures, peering out curiously slowly came to understand that she could be safely ignored. Walking into a rhythm in tune to the forest sounds, she could feel the music. She could feel completely alive, a creature in this natural world without guide, constraint, responsibility or companionship of human kind. Not thought, instantaneous realization of another level of being outside of society, inside the ecology of the forest. There is a restfulness to shedding roles. There is an energy that comes from rhythmic movement, a relaxation from moving in tune to the natural music of the moment. Habituated ways of sensing, of perceiving, of thinking can silently fall away. Without preformed valuations, what is speaks for itself.
A few smaller Earth mammals, originally brought as embryos on the ship, then propagated on farms, had escaped, gone wild, mutated to better fit in to their new world. Earth food stock in seed and embryo form had been sent on the ship in case Earthmen might find the local lifeforms inedible or lacking in needed nutrients. There had been hydroponic gardening on the ship for fresh vegetables, and, perhaps, to keep food growing skills fresh as well. Farming in Eden’s soil had presented no problem for the plants growing from Earth seed or the people and Earth animals eating them. It was even found that grazing Earth animals could find sufficient nutrition in the local flora. Still, suspicious humans preferred their own food stock to foraging.
Caela would need to eat in the forest. She must learn where useful, nonpoisonous to her body, sustenance could be obtained. She needed to learn to speak with the forest, learn its language. This seemed to her, on a level beyond conscious thought, the most obvious next link in the chain from here to there. She remembered Singer’s love of the forest, the music he found and co-created there. After all, it was the same forest, as far as the forest was concerned, a bit further north. She could find Singer’s presence within her, reassuring, loving, telling her to love this forest, his friend. She could also feel chilly ghostly energies, the pain, the fear, the intense emotion of her people’s journey that this forest had never assimilated into its own abiding wisdom. She could feel, sense, become a conduit, student, and awed participant with all of these energies ready to interweave into something she could accept and carry. But not yet; this journey is only beginning.
Lukin and Merin knew what Sira knew. Anxious since his exile to the academy, Lukin has been monitoring his mother’s progress and anxieties. Lukin and Merin had been developing a meeting of minds. Smart, shrewd and meticulous in his knowledge, like his grandfather, Lukin had not the years of idolatry and indulgence to mar the clarity of his vision. Merin, shaken out of his self-obsession by the seriousness of their immediate peril, could still indulge in grand pride for his grandson’s gifts. Merin, for all his grandiosity, had never even considered the kind of distant and multi-leveled mind to mind communication that came so easily to Lukin, developed with the extended cousin network but originating with Lukin’s own natural talent. In times like these, when normal methods of communication are far too open to surveillance, Lukin’s talent was made to order. There’s some kind of saying: When the student is ready, the teacher will come. Perhaps when the times require it, the talent will come.
The Harmonic Academy, being a somewhat wealthy, prestigious facility at this point in its history, had an arrangement with a farm not too far south of the city, to provide fresh produce and such. Part of the agreement involved periodic field trips so that young students might experience the bucolic realities of food production. Fortuitously, such a field trip was scheduled in the not too distant future, just before the end of term school vacation period. Even more fortuitously, Merin had several former students who had formed a conscious experimental community down in farm country.
South of the city, several families had decided to make their own way, thank you, outside of restrictive city laws. They produced the food necessary for all those city folk in return for high profits and an unspoken agreement that they were to be left alone. To the east of the farm lands, outside the arable zone, were the military/police academy and barracks. This school of martial arts and military discipline was the original City Council’s solution for useful deployment of aggressive youthful energies that could not be adequately addressed within the city frame. Once properly disciplined, indoctrinated, these otherwise troublesome youth became excellent enforcers of city civility, or if not tame enough for that, excellent prison guards out east. On occasion farm folk and police cadets would find commonality in raucous celebrations or simple conversation while gaming or otherwise socializing. Mostly, each group kept to itself, that being part of their misfit natures.
Of Merin’s merry band of misfits now farming in the south, one was quite familiar to Lukin. Toriv had been an uncle to him for the years Toriv had been with Jenia. He now apparently ran a school for the kids of his community and others of the farm land who wanted to attend. He had a son a bit older than Kesia called Kirin who lived at the school with him. Merin might not mind-talk over distances, but he had plenty of other sources of information. Those would not be of help now. They needed to make contact with the farm folk and arrange for shelter for seven witch kids about to find exile preferable to the likely alternatives.
Lukin reached into his memory to find what he knew of Toriv’s mind. Reaching into a familiar, inarticulable process in his own mind, Lukin created a conduit. Before long, he was there, feeling Toriv’s presence questioning: “Is someone there?”
Not sure of what level of “voice” he needed to negotiate the distance and unfamiliar with the mind he was sending to, unlike the familial children he was accustomed to, Lukin considered the situation. Anyone who picked up on his message would be by definition of their kind, on their side. Keeping it simple, direct, an opening volley, Lukin called to Toriv: “Help! We need your help. We are of your kind; and we need you.” Soon Lukin felt the response he was seeking. Toriv, sending a clear signal of willing agreement, asked what was needed of him. Thus, the conversation proceeded. The pertinent information was exchanged, along with planning for continued dialogue as the venture should solidify, move forward.
Lukin’s pleas also reached another whose response was much less direct. Like a melody carried from some far off transmitter, Caela felt the call as she stood, mind open to the breeze, at the edge of the forest. It was a call that carried some element of distant past completely caught up in the immediate now. Caela felt something of a destiny calling, perhaps from her future. She walked into the forest because it was the next obvious thing to do.
Kesia, Jenia’s little girl, was growing to be a quietly thoughtful, loving child. Her intense temper and stubborn streak melted at any thought that she might be causing pain. As for Sira’s project, eventually there would be papers to file, fees to pay, a campaign to run. Long before any of that could be of any use, she knew she must take a long time building up information, supporters, a clear plan flexible enough for contingencies. Most importantly, she needed to take the time to build up a reputation for being the kind of strong representative on whom voters could count to promote their interests. She has been thinking, talking about respect, appreciation. “It’s not that people don’t want to make reasonable compromises when they harden into set positions. They want their positions respected. They want voiced and palpable appreciation for what they choose to give.”
Merin and Vika were proud of Sira’s gumption, and did what they could to promote her cause with those among whom they had influence. The whole family felt proud, excited, somehow solemnly touched, each doing what they could. The seven children of this extended family, Lukin, Tela and Kesia in their city home, Noria, Serg, Safa and Tamis at the academy, were developing among themselves their own secret network to share, comfort, inform, bolster each other through the dramas and changes of their seemingly accelerating lives. The grown-ups were busy, did not need to know and possibly forbid or be concerned. It is good that they have their silent support system. It is good that they grow learning clearly, deeply, certainly, who they each are, how they can best collaborate.
It wasn’t that Sira was naive. How could she be with all her worldly experience? To some extent she was sheltered. Always surrounded by loving family, often knowing the joy of making them proud, had left her mental defenses against conscious opposition flimsy at best. She had long known how to get her way so graciously that none would find offense. She was so caught up in her inspiration and ambition to do very good for very many. She knew that there might be obstacles, stubborn loyalties to the status quo, countering ambitions of opponents, mistakes in planning, misunderstandings to watch out for and be made right. She did not, stupidly, plan on the opposition being so mean, so vicious, so entrenched, sneaky, or no holds barred. It was hard on them all.
Kesia was so proud of being a big girl, going to school. She was not prepared for this greater world in which she was not automatically beloved. Due to the trickle down of incomplete information, children thinking they knew of some fault in her family teased Kesia unmercifully. She was used to silly sparing with her extended cousins at home and several miles away. She shot back the most nasty imagery she knew, not realizing the effect she would have on these children. Frightened children told frightened parents who prevailed upon frightened authorities.
Sira was all damage control commander. The kids got dropped off to stay with Merin and Vika at the academy to keep them out of harm’s way. Sira put together a media blitz campaign showing her opponents to be using scare tactics to hide their own serious crimes of corruption. She personally calmed the local parents, children, teachers, using her special charm to move their fears into the realm of hyperbole easily released with some well placed jokes. The kids knew they were being mean, that they did so out of irrational fear, that they overreacted to Kesia’s tantrum out of guilt. They understood it all once Sira explained so warmly and clearly. Perhaps it would all be ok. Sira, finally, knew better. The family would have to come up with a plan to take the kids someplace more anonymous and safe than regally flamboyant Merin’s lair. She could feel rumors already spreading about those weird academy people related to Sira and Reag.
Toriv thought about Jenia, reaching out for a familiar comforting presence. What he felt was icy fear and raw, searing pain that did not originate with him. Well, maybe, in a very tenuous sense of effects and causes, his behaviors were in the mix. She was sad, at a loss for self-comforting, depressed over their loss, over feeling that her life was going nowhere, over not being good enough.
Not fully aware of her surroundings in the immediate here and now in a sometimes unruly neighborhood, she was ill-prepared to protect herself. There were too many of them, too muscularly advantaged. She blasted out fear, rage, warnings of danger, but they were already too angry, keyed up, lost in chaos, to much care about the added pain her mind impinged on theirs. Later they would remember, talk about that weird witchy bitch, add to the rumors. Maybe, had she been trained, or even experienced in broadcasting her energy and imagery, they might have been dissuaded, turned away from prey too difficult for easy pickings. Instead, she had been trained, even pre-birth, in restraint, staying hidden, meek acceptance.
Sira felt her sister’s agonized screaming, found Jenia torn, bleeding, battered, trying to drag herself home. Reag felt Sira’s screaming and came running; they carried Jenia home, tended to her wounds.
When Jenia realized she had conceived a child, despite her family’s very real concerns for her, and her realistic concerns for herself, she knew she wanted the child in her life. It was a clear, fierce bond even before this baby was much more than an idea. Sira, after her initial worry, completely supported her sister. Soon this new child became another layer of their family life.
As the child slowly yet inexorably grew within Jenia, an idea was slowly growing to obsess Sira, teasing her in reverie long before it was consciously formed. She wanted to, believed she could, get elected to the City Council. In a very small way this was tied up in her desire for her people to have more power, a basis for respect that would allow them to be openly who they were. After all of her years of experience in hiding this part of herself from the official world, she didn’t actually believe her efforts would get them there. Much more immediately importantly, she wanted to help to shape a better set of policies, better governance, for all the people she felt she could represent responsibly. She wanted to help empower an active citizenry, to help create a better city with so much less fear and hatred. She wanted to clean out the ugly emotions permeating too many squalid city streets so nobody need have their lives overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness, oppression, helpless rage. Sira had always been the responsible one, smart, strong, brave, caring, reliable. She had early on taken charge of sweet, dreamy Jenia, seeing how hopeless their parents seemed to be. To a large degree these sisters had formed each other, raised each other to be as they had become. They each felt strengthened, encouraged, by the other.
Reag, Sira and crew enjoyed frequent visits with Merin and Vika. Neris too taught at the academy and had her own ménage not far from her parents’ family home and playground of idealists and their ideas. Pera, another former academy student of the group who grew their minds and ideals in Merin’s salon along with Reag and Sira, had moved in with Merin and Vika. Her daughter, Noria, was close to Lukin in age.
In their developing friendship, Lukin and Noria secretly stayed close in mind over distance to share private jokes, consolations, working out together puzzles and curiosities in their lives. It was for them a game and a comfort in a confusing world. No one outside the inner circle knew Noria was in fact Lukin’s aunt, Reag’s half-sister, one result of Merin and Vika’s exploration of polyamory to boost the witchfolk’s possibilities of progeny and future.
Neris and Sebia, lovers since their teen years, not outgrowing their experimental young crush, had taken into their fold another of Reag and Sira’s crowd, Jal, who happily served to father the so far three youngsters of that household. Sebia’s son, Serg was only slightly younger than Noria and Lukin. His half-sisters, Neris’s girls, Safa and Tamis, were one a bit older, one a bit younger, than Tela. Merin was jolly about his pater familias role. Vika, typically, enjoyed the constant high drama and turning it all to farce at the appropriate moments. “The fun never ends while we enjoy the play,” she liked to say. Not the best people to go to for a reality check, they were always happy to argue any proposition, brainstorm up a gale, love and support without reservation, point out the structural flaws of any proposal while offering creative alternatives.
Lesa had been another of the old academy crowd (or would that be young academy crowd, now older?) who had stayed to teach the younger kids coming in. Back in the transitional times, when the confused youngsters who didn’t know what to make of their standard schooling were the prime customers, needing her patient care, Lesa felt fulfilled. She was where she belonged. But where she was was changing. Toriv had been her friend for, well, forever, from their own early academy days. He was somehow now part of Merin’s extended family, and often about visiting the academy. After the miscarriage, he needed consoling. He needed a woman who could give him a child. Lesa needed to be needed. After he left Jenia, Toriv moved in with the Lesa, now the mother of his child to be, and picked up some classes teaching the younger kids at the academy as Lesa did. But the academy was changing. Lesa and Toriv had talked with others of their friends about a community that had been started down in the libertarian farm lands to the south. Looking for something to belong to, a way to make their mark and make a life with meaning, Toriv and Lesa moved south to start a school for children like their own within the still newly forming community of former city misfits.
“You left little sister, but you’re still trying to please great god Merin.” Why had Lesa said this to Toriv? Back in their school days they had called Jenia “little sister.” Reag was Merin’s son, Sira his sidekick. Jenia was Sira’s little sister, along for the ride. Merin was their hero, of course. Yes, he was here in this strange new pioneering way of life because of what he believed Merin was preaching. But she was being ironic, angry, because he did not show the courage of his convictions. He wanted his school, his traditional family. She wanted to join the mainhouse, be part of a brave new world.
Jenia’s tragic miscarriage helped to sever her bond with Toriv, separate their lives. There was no fault, no blame. She turned to her more fortunate sister, by now mother of both a bright, caring, naturally responsible and mature little boy and a younger precious precocious marvelously charming little girl. Jenia enjoyed her niece and nephew, the comfort of her sister and brother-in-law’s home, being family. Not enough, but enough for now, along with her if hectic and often frustrating inherently fulfilling work. It was a deep solace to her, sharing her knowledge and love of learning with the amazing children it was her privilege to teach.
“Not just food and a roof,” Sira was explaining. “People need dignity, respect, a feeling like we matter. We want something to believe in, to belong to, to hold sacred. It’s not enough to have the basic biological necessities. That’s only a small nugget of being alive, like an embryo. Unless that innate potential has its chance to be realized, there’s not much reason to be born at all.” She was working out these ideas, this logical progression, almost a political platform. It felt compelling, this desire to figure out what was wrong and how to right it. All these broken people, day after day, it was her job to help find strength to move forward. She often thought of it as working through the knots binding their potentials. More and more she could see so clearly that this was not a matter of individual failings to thrive, but systemic disease. If she kept working at the equations, cause and effect rationales, common denominators, kinks in the social fabric, perhaps she could discover appropriate treatments to apply. Her children, Lukin and Tela, touchstones and joys that anchored and expanded her life, were so young and vulnerable. Increasingly, every day, a deep and growing part of her demanded a better world for their future, as well as for hers and for everyone she loved.
Love can be such an infinitely gentle and suffering thing. It can demand more than simpler emotions, much more than would make sense from a standpoint of survival. Sira stealthily plants within herself, without her conscious knowledge, a seed of political ambition. For politics at its core and best is the art and science of moving the vectors of social change.
Meanwhile, back at the Harmonic Academy, small stage social evolution moved at a different pace. The school was no longer seen so much as an experimental answer for parents of nontraditional learners. It had become a well-loved learning community for students of expressive and performing arts. As such, a certain amount of social experimentation was expected, and therefore accepted. What a bunch of crazy artists do in their sheltered little school out, away from everyday decent living was just a colorful footnote to real life. Let the creative kids sow their oats and have their petite revolutions of the mind. They’ll get straightened out by real responsibilities soon enough.
Outside of their formal schooling, Sira and Reag spent much time with Merin, and Reag’s mom, Vika, also a teacher at the academy. Vika also wrote and directed plays performed by the students. Others of their students, as well as Reag’s older sister Neris and her friends, were often about taking part in vociferous discussions and impromptu entertainments. Sira’s younger sister, Jenia, soon became a regular there as well. It was not just the kids. Other teachers, even some of the parents, would drop by as schedules permitted. It was good that Merin and Vika had such a large lovely home just beyond the academy grounds in which to enjoy and entertain their many friends.
At home Sira and Jenia were not so merry. Their parents’ fear, and loathing of their subservient lifestyle, permeated the rooms, the walls. The girls were not cruelly treated. They were loved, cherished as the hope of a dearly desired future. It was the here and now, day to day, grinding away at aspirations, at any chance of joyful prosperity or even honorable integrity that made this home a little taste of hell. It was so good for Sira and Jenia that they had their school, their friends, their own growing lives. For some, with only mini-hells to build on, life at best is merely unbearable. Sira and Jenia are built of much more. They have the potential to build a future more suited to living than dreading.
In the due course of time, Sira and Reag’s magnetic friendship blossomed in the strong bath of maturing hormones, into true love. The idealism they imbibed in their academy garden of knowledge matured in Sira, Reag and Jenia into studies leading to caring careers. Reag and Jenia developed their loves of learning and children to find teaching positions in a neighborhood low in hope and ideals. Sira, strident and self-assured, found working with the troubled and disempowered rewarding when her efforts made a significant difference in more empowered and self-defined lives going forward. Reag and Sira found a large rambling home, full of character and charm, near their respective jobs at the high school and community center. They also found themsleves to be expecting parents. They were living an emotional high, giving them incredible energy necessary to maintain the activities underpinning their high emotions.
Jenia and her young man, Toriv, primary teachers, had a cute little apartment nearby. The sisters, as close as ever, entwined lives, shared the excitement of the baby. Jenia and Toriv were hoping to have their own child as well soon. Their love of nurturing young children was a strong bond that had helped to bring them together. They were also concerned, it was a mostly unspoken but growing concern among their people, that their population was dwindling. After the devastating diminishment of the exile, the numbness of being so overwhelmed with emotion and the fearfilled introversion had been their major theme. Time and routines had mellowed that fashion of thought. Perhaps a group identity so maligned that it must remain a secret link shared by a secret few is in no position to demand continuation, survival as a kind. Perhaps assimilation into the accepted norm is the saner, ecologically sounder way to go. Jenia, Toriv, their friends and family, could never be convinced of that.
Harmonic Academy’s philosophy of encouraging a variety of learning styles and peaceful self-expression was a positive nurturing environment for children who might feel pressured by social stigmatization of any kind in their neighborhood lives. With gorgeous rolling grounds, just far enough north of the hub of the city to be out of the way, it was a wonderful world of play in which to grow. The witchfolk children knew not to shine, not to stand out, to get along enticing no comment. They knew which teachers they could trust to help them with academic or personal concerns.
Out in the harsh eastern drylands, no one wanted to build their futures. Land more dust than loam, weeds more yellow bristly rough to the touch, creatures less shy, more mean, stinging angrily at whatever may disturb hard fought for and unforgiving territory. Sira had never been beyond the city to the east. She had been given warning images in her catechisms against careless disclosures. They might not exile someone like Sira if she should be fount out. They well might imprison her in horrible conditions, a much more viscerally palpable threat. It was in the harsh glaring sun of the unproductive east land that prisoners, pariahs from city justice, were sent for penitence.
All societies need prisons, don’t they? Time-out holes to hold the dangerous, or repositories for the politically and socially incorrect are hallmarks of civilization. Aren’t they? Well, not in a community in which a wrongdoer is immediately hit hard with the emotional toll wrought; not where the governing structure is more libertarian than democratic and disputes are honored by settling them through well-argued compromise. It is easier, of course, to settle disputes and prevent the welling up of criminal intentions within small enough social confines so that all parties are mutually well known. Once factions set up against factions, arguments intractably settled into place, disputes become institutionalized, and so do the losers.
Sira’s favorite teacher, Merin, was secretly a historian among her people. He was also a learned historian of their colony planet and of the home world, Earth. He was generally a favorite among the teachers and students for his easy friendly, yet passionately fierce manner, the way he made what might seem difficult concepts so immediate and real, the way he readily listened and deeply appreciated what was said to him. His intense mental thirst had led him to acquire a broad range of knowledge which it was his great joy and privilege to share. That Sira’s best friend, Reag, was Merin’s son only added to her estimation of them both.
On the other side of the forest, beyond the open fields of the less socially enclosed, changes in situations and attitudes moved slowly. Of course they continued the long tradition of slowing enterprise through the perceived requirement that all must move through the viscous medium of money. Psychologically this tradition was beneficial to tamp down escalation of anxiety and panic known to accompany rapid change in a society founded on desires for stability, safety, clear and consistent rules of the road to a successful life. We did not come all this way, brave all this unknown and inconvenience, start from scratch in an alien wilderness, to accept anything less.
Red brick roads.
Centered in a park of verdant glory, a fountain statue of a mythical god of the sea.
Bright colorful street lanterns shine bringing out the patterns of iridescent threads fashioned into clothing, flowing, open, light and merry.
No one hungry except by choice for the experience. None without their cubicle, apartment, palatial estate.
Comedies, tragedies, play out in street and theater. Venders sell their succulent or fanciful wares.
This is a city self-consciously fulfilling the needs and ambitions of a people who strive to be worthy of the style and livelihoods they embrace.
Earnest scholars comment upon every aspect of their cosmopolitan endeavors. Social commentators dumb it all down for easy access. Everybody knows what everybody knows. Everybody knows we all get along a whole lot better if everybody agrees to know only what we should. Not to say we don’t happily indulge in heated debate and individual choice. It’s just that everything has its proper place, that we may all fit securely in our urbane scene.
Sira’s parents had not even been born at the time of the exile. Their parents had been of the fortunate ones too unimportant to be pointed out, too meek and quiet to be concerned about. Really, there were lots of them. Being different only counts if you’re seen as a threat. The mainstream folk are perfectly happy to have lesser empowered dweebs with embarrassing secrets to feel above. You, freaks, don’t be threatening my position, my possessions, my profits, my popularity, and I just might let you go on your miserable way. Is that how it was? How it is? As her parents had been by theirs, Sira was warned, had bitterly sown into her earliest lessons in belief, don’t be noticed. Don’t let anybody know what you can do. This is inner family business, not for outside consumption. We are who we are; but no one else can know.
In fact there were a rather large group of them. A very small percentage of a large number can still be a large number of ones and twos in a small world of who we know, those people we carry in our minds between meetings. Sira’s friends at the academy, the private school they attended, were also of the secret society who could always know each other by reaching mind to mind. There was never need to speak of the secret aloud.
You are always going back into the forest. It helped to form you, as did your father’s seed, your mother’s womb and milk. What forms us, becomes us, we must explore, if only in dreams or strange obsessions, or unnatural silence.
Caela and Larik are quite a pair. Old and young, female and male, hyper-sensitive and numb to sensitivity, working out who they need to become in the cabin once a happy home to Caela, Singer and Felicity (with Maea and friends of the moment in tow). It naturally fell out that they be together. The boy who could not bond, could not fathom what was common to those around him, was bonded to Caela. She alone made sense to him. She had always been a part of who he was. Caela too felt a strong and special connection to this child. She also felt a need to find a way to heal him of the affliction resulting from a wound she also needed to heal within herself. Larik’s mother, Maea, meanwhile, was having difficulties and unpleasant awakenings of her own.
“He acts like I got pregnant on my own. Now it’s all my situation to deal with. As if he had no part in it at all.” Maea is speaking bitterly of Larik’s father, Larn, whom she clearly still adores. He has shown considerably less interest in her since it started to become evident that she would be more of a drain than an energizing inspiration. It’s not that he didn’t care for her; but there are many for whom he feels great fondness. All are subservient to his brightly shining visions, his grand plans and their imperatives. It is not that he is any different from the man she has known him to be, loved him for being, all along. Yet she feels bitterly disillusioned. She has lost her anchoring, her way, her understanding of and belief in who she had thought herself to be. She no longer feels part of the House community. For awhile she tries staying with her parents, spending much of her time with Caela and Larik, attempting to be a family. It is clear that Larik greatly prefers Caela, is shy and confused around Maea. Mirra and Doren have become set in routines to which Maea feels an outsider. She feels their love; but Maea feels awkward when she needs to find a respite of serenity in which to reconnect to herself, discover where her next steps need to lead.
Maea’s grandmother Maris’s place had been left behind, not too far from Jase’s outpost, as building moved further outward. The house is surrounded by plenty of land for their grazing animals, crops for fiber, feed and food for the household (supplemented by trade). It was a large house, built onto over the years to accommodate people and projects. Maris and here older daughters, Arla and Cali, still kept up their busy textile workshop. Cali’s longtime lover, Lilia, does her part as well, including her magnificently intricate and lovely embroidery to their bag of tricks. Lev, who has been living with Maris for decades now, assists with his carpentry, building equipment and furniture for the household and as part of their stock for trade. Always plenty of work for another pair of hands, and Maris informally takes in whoever wants to stay for as long as it all works out for them all. There is plenty of room in which to enjoy solitude, and plenty of companionship, easy-going or intense, depending on what one seeks. Caela comes around frequently with Larik. He likes the more private simple chores as he learns them, working with the animals and plants, away from the main farmlands of the community. His family knows not to pressure him, not to overwhelm him with expectations he has no ability to comprehend. Maea is getting better at dropping her own expectations for how life is meant to be.
Less enthusiastically involved with Larn, though still sympathetic to his vision, Felicity and Teren now live in their cabin near the House with little Solia. Solia, beautiful entertaining, entrancing, cuddly imp, is their perfect muse. They are developing their own project, based on their combined talents. Felicity’s knowledge of healing and Teren’s experience with creative expression have given them ideas about exploring the realm of possible expressive therapies. Working with others who are excited about possibilities of working out personal issues, improving health and attitudes, getting more intimately in touch with their inner muses, they are figuring out together how their theories can best be turned to practice.
A life expands into other lives, energies combining and recombining, creating human ecosystems. Like trees, each living through its own cycles within the cycles of the forest, we create our stories, our lore, our social networks.
Contractions to crowning to birth, and Caela showing off their grandchild to Singer’s tears of overwhelming joy. Felicity, after screaming her head off in amazingly colorful language, and otherwise expending her legendary energy in biological abandon, now is blissfully happy to let her mom and dad extol her virtues. She smiles, though wanly, at Teren, sharing this moment of deep satisfaction. New mother and baby daughter, Solia, trade in their well-earned exhaustion for sleep.
Caela knows that where Felicity has gone, Maea won’t be far behind. She too takes this opportunity to nap between birthings.
Singer, with more emotional high than even he knew possible, makes for the woods to compose appropriately expressive song in collaboration with nature. She is certainly in a receptively collaborative mood, brewing up a storm. Loving the musicality of storm winds, driving rain, crashing thunder, cracking electricity, Singer exults. What a beautiful day!
Maea’s child, though clearly moving toward being born, has moved into an inappropriate position for ease in exit. Though not the norm, this situation is not one with which Caela is unfamiliar. She knows all it will take is intense concentration into this newly forming consciousness to guide the child into position. First casting an aura of calm through Maea to enhance relaxation, she calmly links to the baby, so gently he feels only the relaxed presence of mother love.
Despite the wildly loud storm picking up outside, within the House all is secure.
Deep crack of thunder and accompanying swath of light outside suddenly coincide with crashing painful agony so loud it reverberates throughout, it seems, the world. In an instant lives are shattered as one is lost, killed by the woods he loves.
There is nothing but screaming, blinding pain. Caela can always feel it if she looks there.
Maea, in shock and overload, suddenly freed from the woozy peace of Caela’s ministrations, goes through the motions necessary to complete her separation from newborn Larik. He appears a healthy, if inconsolable, child. All his parts in their right places seem to be functioning as expected. Maea is in no condition to notice what is missing, her mind overtaken with Caela’s silent screaming.
Caela of course knows what is wrong with Larik. She was right there with him when the world exploded. She knows, but such knowledge, all knowledge, has been cordoned off from her consciousness. She is only conscious of great, wet pain, crushing into hard, damp ground, crushing out of breath and life. She is no longer alive. All the places throughout her being that have always been filled with Singer are gone. There is no more screaming.
Larik was silent. Suddenly Maea knew. The bond was absent. That part in her people’s minds capable of sending and receiving immediate perceptions, memories, raw emotion and emotional bonding, had been horribly wounded in Larik by the circumstances of his birth.
In the way of human destinies, it was not more than two seasons before Maea and Felicity were full of the wondrous news that they both were with child. Sharing their happiness with their parents in the superior manner of the young who seem to believe they have invented biology, they also share their courageous trepidation in the throes of new experience. Caela reassures them. This is just another adventure they will have together.
Entering a forest only seems more courageous than entering life because of the illusion of choice. We hear a calling. That compelling cry will not cease without an answer, no matter how we may try to quell or override it. What we answer, how we comport ourself over the journey, that we may choose. That choice may still be illusion, but of the kind extolled as prophetic in dreams.
Maea’s paternal grandmother, Narda the historian, had been part of history herself. She had been one of a small council of negotiators sent to plead the case of what were called the witchfolk to a council of leaders from the city’s government. The city leaders didn’t want bloodshed on their watch. They wanted a peaceful, prosperous reign. It was concluded that the small minority population causing all this excitement by their existence in the city must be banished. No problem. This planet has plenty of land thus far free of humanity. The native creatures have not shown signs against encroachment in all these centuries since men began doing business in this enclave. Send them far enough from here that they become a distant memory, eventually not even that. No need to be cruel. The elderly and infirm can live out their days in their familiar homes. Certainly they can do no harm in the time they have left. But we can’t allow the young and strong to have technological tools that might facilitate a future return or ongoing communication. The contract was made with the understanding that the witchfolk historians would remember and honor it, carry it forward to their historians to come. Being a small, out of favor, minority, they agreed to a contract of exile in return for freedom and life.
Fearful as exile had been to those who lived it, for the younger generations it has become more of an opportunity. They have been born into a society with few overt rules and an appreciation of creative innovation. The basic, primitive material conditions, depending on their own muscles and skills rather than elaborate machinery, makes for immediate appreciation of good ideas.
Larn had good ideas. He was idolized by his peers for his audacity of vision, and ambition. Maea is prouder than proud, higher than the stars, to be carrying their child.
Felicity as well is (surprisingly, more quietly) glowing in that rapture of love and hormones. Felicity and Teren are so sweet together. Caela’s heart pitter-pats to see them. They share a larger room in the House now, with an area they are preparing as a nursery. Family arrangements are flexible and fluid within the House. There are shared nursery and children’s rooms for less unitary families. There is plenty of loving nurturing to go around. As Felicity and Teren become more closely bonded, though, they are talking about perhaps moving into a cabin near the House eventually. Right now they are comfortable where they are, busily involved in the House community projects. There is the theater, and the classes they teach, and the classes and workshops they attend. Of course there are still the farm chores on rotation and the day-to-day hands on with whatever those hands are being asked to do. Felicity and Maea know they can be called to accidents at any time. Then, Teren, like Felicity’s father, Singer, seems to be compelled to irregular and unscheduled calls from the muse.
It is a brightly sunny day. They are outside Caela and Singer’s cabin in impromptu picnic formation. Felicity, of course, moving about dramatically, striking poses, flourishing her arms, then flopping down close to share an intimate giggle. Maea, more languid, lies on her stomach in soft weeds shaded by a large, wide-leafed tree. Caela sits beside her, back leaning comfortably against the living wood. Singer has gone off to play in his merry woodlands, leaving the women to their own conversational recreation. Maea and Felicity live in the House, a large many-roomed multi-purposed well and lovingly made structure for the many and multi-talented men, women and children who created this home for themselves. Of course, there are still many families and individuals who prefer their own small cottages. The main thrust of this still newly self-creating society these days, however, is to an energizingly interactive while securely nurturing group arrangement. Still, Felicity and Maea have discovered living apart from their parents that they enjoy their company as lively, intelligent people, so visit often.
“So, what about your love lives?” Caela pulls them in with an impish grin, knowing that young women (or anyone) like nothing better than to swoon over the virtues of The One, or the one who makes them giddy at the moment. Mirra has joined them, meandering over from her cabin nearby with a delicious beverage she has concocted from fermented fruits and herb teas. Passing around the jug, the younger women regale their mothers with heartfelt romantic glimpses of the gorgeous House-mates they each are developing eyes for. Mirra and Caela, happily ensconced in their decades old romances, vicariously enjoy these youthful fancies.
Mirra’s Doren, Maea’s dad, is her half-brother Singer’s half-brother on his father’s side. The oldest of Jase’s scattered seeds, Doren is a historian, learning their people’s stories from infancy directly from his mother, Narda, Jase’s wife in the before world. That time has become an extension of the history Doren carries, that deep forest of lore we continue to learn from, roots to our scattered lives.
Though closer in age to Mirra’s sister Cali, Maris’s middle daughter, Doren had early been captivated by the younger sister’s easy smile and impish humor. Their young love grew with them into abiding magnetic affection. Maea may gently mock her parents’ shining glow in each others’ presence. She does this partially because she knows she wants this sweet enduring kind of romance for herself.
Maea is a’bubble these days over handsome and dynamic Larn. He is a young man already generally known as a leader, the kind who inspires with his own passion. He has an idea about art, creating space and audience for performing artists to generate performances — a synergistic pursuit. He has been part of the driving force of the House as a place of learning and creative projects. Maea is filled with admiration, enthusiasm, tender adoration, ravishing attraction. The bubbling of her blood, percolation of joyful molecular transforming of her metaphoric heart, is because he has been steadily showing her that she quickens his blood, enhances his days.
Felicity too has got herself an artist. Teren, sweet and shy, in his own world of brilliant visions, creates beauty in color and form, in magical emotional performances, in any and every medium he can find his way into playing with. He has been clearly showing his admiration of the archly dramatic young woman who has joined him in his dreams and playful waking life flirtations.
Singer returns to join his family in lightly dionysian merriment. His musical charms move them into giddy dance. Taking hands to hands, twirling into bumbling graceful laughter, expending any pent up coagulated energies into welcome release, celebrating this beautiful day. In a short while appetite turns them to devising a quick yet sumptuous feast from gardens and larders. Doren returns from teaching his regular history seminar at the House in time to join in.
After the food, the silly repartee, earnest conversations, cleaning up and good-night hugs, all make way to their own beds, their own private places, for the night. Caela and Singer, making love, though every act between them is an act of love, expressing the blessing of their human life celebration, drift lazily together in the afterglow.
Maris’s youngest daughter, Singer’s sister Mirra, was a few years older than Caela. At first this was a big difference. Mirra had quasi-adult status to her younger charges when she was assigned to watch over Caela and Singer, keep them from too much mischief, while the grown-ups worked. Once they were grown, of course, the age difference was negligible. Caela and Mirra became great friends. As it happened, their daughters, Felicity and Maea, were much closer in age than Caela and Mirra. The cousins grew up more like sisters within their close and complicated extended family. They shared secrets, and giggling pranks. They honed their social skills through their squabbles and reconciliations, honed physical and mental skills through fierce competition, learned the consequences of their actions after daring each other into ill-conceived adventures.
The girls were fascinated with learning to find, refine, expand their potential healing abilities as they watched Caela, and experienced directly her skill in encouraging the healing of their broken bones, contusions and wounds. Eventually she merely supervised as they practiced on each other’s active child injuries. Caela was happy to teach them what she could, answer their curious questioning, open her own memories of learning to their eager perusal, let them watch, when convenient and appropriate, as she worked with others’ wounds and illnesses. Thus both girls grew to be healers themselves, as part of the service they could offer in their community.
“We get to be wonderful,” Felicity was remarking.
“We are wonderful!” Maea mirthfully chimes in.
“We are wonderful,” continuing on her train of thought, Felicity ironically marvels: “because we revel in all the pain and suffering no one else wants to be near. Kind of like compost keepers.”
“Though we all get that honorable chore from time to time.” Maea points out. “We get to be especially wonderful because we went through the initiation to learn the (shhhh) secret ways. We can protect ourselves from the pain and give that protection away.”
“Have our calmness, and share it as well?” Felicity remarks as querent.
Caela laughs with them, a deep chuckle at some impossible mystery that binds them. This mystery for them is mundane reality, yet serves to remake reality for those to whom they are seen as special.
Singer too is special, in his own charming way.
“We have a special family,” Caela allows, still chuckling with a merry twinkle. “Witchy we might be called in another time and place.” But that thought brought shudders from some protomemory she has no desire to pursue. Rather than become quietly thoughtful and put a damper on the get together, Caela rallies her true interest in the goings on of Felicity and Maea’s current gossip.
She had been barely more than a toddler, barely walking on her own. It was good that she had sturdy legs, the boundless energy of exuberant childhood. It was good that Lev and Letta had been so loving, so eternally there, in the scant few early years, in their happy life together of her infancy. Sturdy little legs, sturdy little girl losing her world. Not the place, only real as vague impressions now, but the people who were no longer dependably who they had been, that was the strangeness that frightened her. Dreams of angry, panicked ghosts, spooks in the forest, were her childhood nightmares. Singer soothed her. He sang her baby lullabies that turned her dreams into sweet twinkly songs.
Mamma was losing her grip, drowning, bit by bit, detaching from Caela’s mind in her maelstrom of inexorable terror. Daddy was overwhelmed, trying to stay calm enough in all the chaos to be a strong, calming presence for Letta as he felt her obvious disintegrating. Nothing was left for Caela but to concentrate on moving along. There was not room for her to try to make sense of what her short experience had no reference for. In all that insanity, she could feel a bubbling of music calling to her. A child so small, he was carried by his mom and sisters in turn. A natural ebullience so contagious, he was their salvation in the wilderness, keeping the whole family buoyant, unafraid. Somehow, in all this massive confusion, he had found her too. He had projected his song and silly imagery into Caela’s stoically marching mind.
She smiled, even laughed a little. Soon her steps gravitated toward the merry little band led by Singer’s song. Somehow, in this mass of confused, frightened people, he loved her. She knew not why he chose her. She knew she felt loved and blessed in the midst of all the emptiness and barely staved off fear. Something wonderfully good had entered her life. Caela and Singer grew together, minds entwined. They were each other’s miracle, salvation in the darkest hours, taking root and blooming through the years. They taught each other how to be everything that was in them. So many people live long lives without profound connection. Caela and Singer knew to value their miracle with profound enjoyment, a special category of bliss.
When Singer and Caela had played as children, and then as lovers, and then as old loving partners, in the woods, it had not been the forest of the long march. They had played in the beginnings of the great uncleared woods on the other side, further still from the city. This was land their people would slowly move into as they grew to have use for more cleared space, making sure to keep the forest they had marched through in their escape an unmolested barrier against any possible contact with their fellow colonial descendants. The city folks could expand in their sector. Those they had exiled could grow into the land further south of their tiny settlement. The large buffer of forest land must be kept between them. They had agreed, even if under extreme duress. They had no need or desire to return to where they were so clearly unwanted.
Since woodland was cleared as needed for building, farmland, various projects, community activity tended to focus toward their southern edge, further and further from the forest through which they had traveled to this place they were making their home. As was common, Singer and Caela, with the help of family and friends, had built a cabin on land newly cleared at the time. Singer’s father, Jase, had always been a loner. He enjoyed time with his friends; and everyone was his friend. He loved his kids and their mothers, and his lovers who did not bear his young. He loved his solitude, enjoying his anti-social twitches of behavior without concern that he was causing annoyance or inconvenience. He enjoyed being as wild and free as he pleased without suffering pained looks or rebukes from the less unrestrained who sincerely loved him but could not understand how he felt he had to be. They could understand enough to let him be, in all his temperamental glory. He built and rebuilt, expanded and rearranged, his cabin just inside the forest through which they had arrived. This worked out well. He fancied himself and was treated as a kind of sentinel, watching over the last outpost before approaching foreign territory. Because there was an almost legendary feeling of despair associated with that forest, it was left, and Jase with it for the most part, to its own fate. There was no other reason to go there but specifically to visit Jase. Fortunately for all involved, it was easy to check in to make sure he was in a good frame of mind for visiting, even without the electronic communications equipment they had long left far behind. For Jase did enjoy the company of visitors, whom he gladly beckoned to join him in play at whatever project was currently engaging his attention. He was always quick and happy to join in with others’ projects if they should ask his participation. He was loud and jovial at celebrations, pulling his friends into gaily dancing as he encountered them along his galumphing path. He enjoyed the companionship of others and the companionship of himself as long as both were available from which to choose. Singer and Caela as children often enjoyed spending playful hours with Jase, a bigger kid with wonderful, often challenging, ideas for having fun. The tasks involved never seemed like work.
It was Jase’s old cabin, abandoned when he abandoned this life, to which Caela had moved, away from the gaggling crowd. Once she was no longer caught up in her long-practiced daily devotions to family and work, she found she was happy in her own company. Like Jase, she felt better able to stay easily involved with those she cherished while keeping separate time to herself in a contemplative place of her own. The main activity of the community had moved further south into land cleared over the years since Jase’s tenancy. Caela had plenty of room for her own gardens, one for herbs and one for fresh vegetables. She had plenty of room to take a longer view. Not so compulsively active as Jase had been, Caela could arrange her little piece of the world as she chose and quietly grow within it.
In essence our lives consist of a great deal of caring for, looking after what we cherish. Do we know what we cherish by noticing the direction of our gaze?
Dancing in his arms, because where Singer was there was music, eyes shining into shining eyes. Her gaze belonged to Singer. It widened to include Felicity once their daughter expanded their life.
Caela could call up her memories, flip through them like sequential cards to show a movie of brief scenes synthesized from the years. Felicity appears infant, small child, young woman, active energized multi-faceted adult. Caela is in awe of this miraculous creature, feels honored by her part in this creation. What can be more fulfilling than a child’s hand, safe and trusting within yours, letting go to reach out to a great shining world of living? Reminders of Singer, Maris, Lev, herself in unconscious poses, sets of expression, features of face, form, characteristics of speech, inflections, yet so much more than a summary of parts cut and pasted from doting family. Felicity had a well-decided mind of her own which she was always ready to give a piece of to make a point, or just keep the argument going. She loved to laugh, especially at her own foibles, easily dissolved into tears at a touch of sadness, especially the shared sadness of a friend. She could plant an affectionate kiss, a warm hug, a strong eager to help pair of hands, dance away with merriment in her eyes, enlarge the heart she had opened to snuggle into a place she conjured, sweet and savory, gently unyielding, a force to be reckoned with wielding her enchanting smile.
They were a happy family, blessed by each other.
Of course life never goes smoothly, predictably, moment to moment. That wouldn’t be living, but some kind of preordained hell. We may think, especially in the throes of terrifying chaos, that we want that smooth predictability. We need the thrill of intense emotions. We need the unexpected to shake us into awareness of just who we are, how far we can go, how much we can do. Drama doesn’t negate happiness. If anything, it deepens it, freshens and sweetens. Shared emotion is continually reinforcing bonds. Caela was often, irregularly, called upon to deepen skills in coping with drama. Accidental injuries would require her to find her own calm healing instructions for sharing with the aggrieved suffering injured party. Young Felicity often accompanied her mother, an apprentice healer in the making. It was so normal to her, even from the womb, to be giving this service, refining this skill. It was not like young Caela’s desperate search for the cure that would return her mother’s loving presence to her life. Felicity, like her father, Singer, took naturally to the blessings of her life. Joyful self-determination emanated from her like the invigorating peace of a pristine waterfall.
Singer, Caela, Felicity, good people all, integrated into a community that loved and respected them. This is not a lesser challenge nor tribute than that of warriors against a deadly foe.
When Caela went into the forest to reverse the original great journey of her life, she was alone. It was because she lived alone, closer to the forest mouth than her community’s center of activity, and because of the reason she did so, that she went into that forest journey. Her extraordinary sensitivity had been harnessed and honed to the purpose of healing. There grew to be other quite competent healers, most with the help of her training. The younger crowd, now of age for responsible leadership and self-rule, had a quicker style, somehow both more formal and informal than Caela liked. They were certainly happy for her company, and advice, any aid she gave. She was certainly happy to give what she could, enjoy their companionship, but not all the time. She found she craved a luxury of solitude to listen to the natural sounds, and the lyrics of her own voice. She liked the kind of thinking akin to dreaming that told her old tales mixed with memories and sudden discoveries all weaving into moments of delight without need to share. Thus, tuning her sensitivity away from the people she knew, loved and let go their own way, Caela was able to discern a far away call they never noticed. At first she may have thought it the call of her own spirit to take up a new adventure. Of course, it was that, her spirit in synchrony with other forces of events.
Back at the beginning of her people’s history, Caela’s ancestors were bred according to parameters not interested in reproduction. This genetic weapons project had to be closely controlled. There was no room for rogue breeding. These human weapons were not produced sexually, but technologically. To make sure they were fed chemicals that prevented sexual viability.
Once they became free to live as human beings, they discovered issues with natural methods of achieving parenthood. For many it was difficult or even impossible to conceive. In their captivity both women and men were used to lives of hard work, service, not subject to childcare responsibilities; in freedom they tended toward producing as a community small numbers of children who were cherished by all. Over time these people assimilated with the greater population and took on the more normalized nuclear family patterns. Still a large percentage of these families were career couples without children. Even if a couple were fertile, women who decided they were not ready to take on a pregnancy had the ability to convince the newly forming life to dislodge before any sentience became a possibility. When that embryonic sentience did emerge, the gestating mother found herself suddenly a pair-bond, in total empathy with her developing child.
Caela had assisted with difficult births, calming mother and child as she helped them to separate. It wasn’t until she experienced pregnancy with Felicity that she was able to understand, finally and too late, the answer to her mother Letta’s undoing.
You are Letta. You have known all your life that you have an exceptionally strong sensitivity, even among people for whom hyper-sensitivity to others’ emotions is the norm. You have learned a kind of control, an ability to use reason and rules developed of experience to make of this what had sometimes seemed a curse a gift. You have made a good career for yourself as an admired and respected healer. You have made a good marriage with a man you love and respect who loves and respects you. You have a wonderful, adorable little child and another on the way.
You are forced from your happy secure home into total chaos. You are forced to endure months of hardship when physical hardship is something you had never known. You are afraid; the fetus is terrified. You try to find calm, but instead the terror keeps escalating in perpetual feedback. There is terror all around, within and without. This goes on and on as if it will never change. When it does change, it is a tragedy. The baby dies, despairingly panicked mom trying desperately to protect, give comfort, to that little dying life falls down, down, beyond recall. The march is over. She doesn’t notice. Life is over. There is nothing left of her to return. Some physical form that was once Letta goes through what to her have become arcane motions, when bidden. She swallows food, processes air and nutrients, doesn’t actually sleep because she is no longer actually awake. It’s not that she meant to desert her loving daughter, sever that bond. It’s just that there’s nothing left of her to bond with. There are wounds that never heal, never even have the consciousness to try.
By the time Caela has found this understanding, she is so joyfully in love with the child growing in her womb that the realization she had so long sought comes as mere information, not some holy treasure at the conclusion of a quest.
Caela also found herself spending much time with the historians. The ability to share their stories mind to mind was better than an oral tradition keeping their people’s history alive for those who found such information fascinating or useful. Those who collected and maintained these stories enjoyed nothing better than sharing them with the curious. They were happy to answer young girl Caela’s serious questions as she worked to figure out such issues as her place in the grand scheme, but more urgently how her people had dealt with illness and the mental instabilities of the kind that had taken her mother’s nurturance from her. She found she wanted to know about all manner of her ancestors’ dealings with adversity, the connections and decisions that led to her creation, that she might better understand her talents and developing goals. She didn’t know why it felt so important to her to gain these understandings, only that it was for her a hunger. Singer was not bothered by this particular hunger. He enjoyed the stories she shared with him, but as entertainment more than education.
As Caela’s growing talent for healing became recognized, by herself and others, she became more and more called upon to help out with medical emergencies. Working with those injured by accidents, overtaken by infections, childbirthing, she slowly became familiar with how to respond to panicked, hurting people desperate for reassurance as well as an easing of their pain. Singer she found to be bursting with pride for his Caela’s special abilities so gratefully treasured by their community. She found him always truly happy to be able to help her sort out and deal with her feelings, sympathetic suffering and exhausted sensibilities. He helped her to reach within her own neural system to renew energies outpoured for others. He seemed boundless in energy, love, enthusiasm to share. Thus, she needn’t fear depletion or falling into despair from surfeit of vicarious pain. She could concentrate on the healing, the powerful and precise energy she could freely give. As with any sincere practice, over time it became who she was, how she was perceived by herself and those she knew.
Letta’s physical death, her body finally letting go, while Caela’s body was in the throes of adolescence, was a sad reminder of what had long since been lost. It could not be more to those who had said their good-byes bit by bit over the years when all they could feel from her was emptiness. Caela had never quite given up on trying to reach her mother, who somehow zombie-like managed to go through the physical motions of life without engagement, thought or any but primitive private fear and sadness. Letta had apparently departed from any attempt at salvation, could not be reached, brought back into her life. Bit by bit, Caela became less convinced that she could help. She allowed herself to give over her time and thoughts and energies to more immediately real healing and relationships. Lev too had long since given over his hope to a self-sustaining realization that allowed him to live his life for present projects and future possibilities, not promises lost to the past. They cared for her shell lovingly, devotedly, without demanding what wasn’t left in her to give. When her body too left them, no longer taking breath or circulating blood with heartbeat, they said their final good-byes and gave her shell back to its natural part in the cycle of growth and decay.
Singer loved to explore, or rather wander into serendipity, in the vast woods surrounding the community. There had been a great enterprise of clearing space for shelters and farmland, as well as, as different projects were conceived, commons for whatever needed accommodation. Wood cleared for space was a major resource as well for buildings, furniture, fire fuel, whatever could be fashioned from it. Very little dent was made in the deep, deepening, deeper acres of forest which had long dominated that part of their world. The city from which they had come and its outlying farmlands and open fields had been cleared forest, developed over time and perceived need for open space in which to grow, build, civilize.
The exiled, at the beginnings still of their epic march, upon reaching the outlying farming area thought to exchange the money they carried, as they were leaving a social market system in which it could be of value, for tools, seed, livestock. They understood they would need to start a new farming community far within the forest still to come on their journey, once that land could be attained and cleared. Ready food and food preserved for future readiness on their way to their new home land was also purchased, as well as grazing pack animals, adapted to the local flora, appropriately accoutered to help in carrying the load.
This forest had never evidenced harboring creatures with any interest in preying on man. The local wildlife were mostly small and herbivorous. Those who were carnivores were content with the smaller forest creatures upon which they had always preyed. Even the large farm animals brought with man as frozen embryos to eventually be bred for foodstock (as who could know if indigent species would be nutritive to man) were not part of the dietary plan of indigent carnivores. For the most part, they preferred to lie low, maintain an invisible noninterference compact.
Singer felt in tune with the natural world, the living planet. It gave him a constant flow of music he could feel throughout his body, rhythm, melody, sweet sweeping choruses, in constant improvisation. He loved wandering in the woods, singing along. Caela knew to find him there when he hadn’t already dragged her along proclaiming on beauty and the sensual thrill of it all.
Making love on a bed of wet, slippery leaves, at one with the glistening beat of the rain, she could feel the smile inside her expanding into ecstasy. Singer’s smile, where she felt rooted.
Of course there were the never-ending flow of chores. Everyday was the cooking, cleaning, tending to livestock, cultivating crops, repairing clothing, furnishings, tools. Then there were always adjunct chores to bigger projects, buildings, planting and harvesting, manufacture of what useful items had been designed, even preparations for celebrations fell under the category of chores, work needing to be done.
Lev was a good guy, generally acknowledged. He loved his little almost motherless daughter, Caela. He tragically loved Letta, his strength, his shining beautiful other half, his courage and moral compass. She was gone, worse than dead. Right there so he could touch her, but she wasn’t there, wasn’t her, to be touched.
Maris was. And sometimes others. He loved them, each for the special people they were, the feeling of sharing of intimacy they allowed for him. They weren’t Letta; nobody was, least of all Letta herself.
For young Caela it was all just part of the life around her. She felt loved and protected by Lev, and she felt his sorrow. She felt the uplift of his mood when he and Maris played in the easy jocular way they had come to together. She felt her mother’s terror, the inchoate creature she had become, unable to take part in the lives that continued around her.
So many tragedies, not little to those for whom they are daily deep suffering wounds holding down, holding back, severing hopes and possibilities.
Singer always made her feel lighter, so matter of fact and invested in having fun. Really, isn’t that the way, salving wounds with healthy living joyously engaging? Yet wounds, chunks taken out of all of us from time to time, need, deserve, tending. Learning who she was, what she valued, Caela grew to understand that loving the wounded meant for her an attunement to discovering ways to heal. It’s not about denying the wound, but helping the wounded to find a way back to wholeness. Who she was, influenced by her time, tribe, circumstances, DNA, not some preordained destiny, carried her moment through moment, creating the weave, the fabric she lived, as Maris created beautiful works of woven wearable art. Enjoying the feel, the weave, of such a perfectly fitting radiant garment, Caela’s consciousness dances. Like all art, this dance tells an enthralling story to those with the will to see, to feel resonance.
Let us go dancing into ceremony of joy and tribal cohesion. I see, smell, feel a firepit on a cool evening. Shared sacred time for histories secured to memories, mingling ideas, fears, fantasies, the reassurance of the constancy of love. Why do we think that we need more? Ah, yes, man is built to defy the capacity for satisfaction that we may ever be hurtling forward in our grand endeavors. Drama requires friction. But does not enlightenment require an eternal flame? These are not Caela’s thoughts. They are thoughts that surround her, always within her reach, perhaps awaiting her perusal. They are not conscious thoughts, but of the philosophies that shaped her. Self-evidently, what happened happened. This does not imply destiny. If the story had turned out otherwise, we would simply have told a different story. There was a time she had to traverse a forest. Thoughts from a close surface may manifest as traveling companions when regular companionship is scarce.
There were other people back there/then, bound up in who she was, who she has become. Now she is happy to pick out their voices in this visit to her past, her child mind.
Her memories drifting, focus in on Maris, strong hands, open caring face. “Singer’s mother, but in so many ways a mother to me.” Maris had taught her to sew, a strangely relaxing use of her hands and so practical for keeping garments in repair. She did not have Maris’s talent, nor her daughters’, Singer’s sisters, for the magic of the cloth. She did not seem to have the necessary patience. She did enjoy those times of womanly intimacy among Maris and her girls, sharing reminiscences, studying together in their conversation worlds of ideas and discoveries. The instance that occurred to her now was from when she was of the age still a child but starting to become aware of the intricate charms of romance. Puzzled by what was not evident from Maris’s reminiscing, she had asked:
“Why aren’t you angry, bitterly angry, when you speak of Aron? He betrayed you, deserted you and your children to keep his happy easy life.”
Aron had been Maris’s husband, father of her girls (but not Singer), back in the city, before the troubled times that marked her community’s history. Aron had left Maris rather than be exiled with her. He was not of the marked group except by marriage. The marriage had to go, not him.
“There is no need to annoy myself with anger.” Maris had pointed out. “He is the one who has missed out on this life, caught in the intrigues and unfortunate values we left behind. He is quite angry, ashamed, disappointed with himself, and does not have me to help him sort out his frustrations and confusions. I must admit, looking back, that a good part of why I was attracted to him, why I married him, was that he felt so needy at a time when I was consumed by the need to be needed. Having kids makes that nonoptional, puts it into immediate focus. Aron’s needs were no longer so important to me. Now, I’m not sorry that I loved him. I am sorry for him for giving up on himself, what he could have been if he’d ever really believed he could. When we’re young we take so much on faith in the future to make up for our ignorance.”
That was the kind of thing Maris would say. It all made sense in her clear, deliberate imagery, punctuated by wisps of passionate emotion that Caela had not understood at the time.
What would Singer say? The very young Singer when they were children working out together what must be the meaning, the appropriate attitudes toward life; Singer through all the years until the years that no longer held him. He was always with her still, in a sense by her side. She could feel his strength, unwavering sincerity, light gentleness of being. She could hear him lapsing into song as an integral part of whatever task or frivolity engaged him. He had always been so present in her life, from very early years. They had grown together such that his physical presence though missed was never essential to their bond.
Children together, parents together. Felicity had something of her mother’s gift for healing, though not her intensity. She was more her father’s easy-going side-kick, bright, flirtatious, friendly in that way of caressing openness, that sunny temperament that everybody loves. See her loving her life in the chaotic home she creates and shares with so many busy friends, constant activities, every day a celebration. Singer and Felicity always bubbling over with fun, enticing Caela to let go and enjoy the merriment. Just thinking of them always lightened her heart, widened her smile, brought laughter to her eyes.
He would say: “There is so much beauty, in here, out there, everywhere. Come, enjoy it all with me. Open your senses, feel that everpresent amazement when you take it all in. Feel me experiencing with you, my most precious friend.” Yes, he would be dancing, hugging, exhorting with melody and rhythm, imaging a clownish comedy of musical movement, hyperbolized flowering woods filled with glorious natural delights. She could feel his dancing eyes, sunlight smile, adoration, fused into the Singer center of her mind. Always.
She could feel the presence of the small frightened creatures that hid from her in the woods. It was easy to find one simple mind and hypnotize it with projected imagery. The creatures would respond from a place of which they had no awareness, the way fish are unaware of water or humans are unaware of the chemical stew bubbling out commands through our bodies. Calming the creatures, she felt a sympathetic calm, helping her to learn correspondences between the feelings within her and others. People were more complex, but also more familiar. The problem was more in keeping the separation along with the intimate connection so she could find the way in to help, to heal, without being overwhelmed or trapped in the shared pain. That was part of her problem in trying to find her way into a healing position with Letta. Her mother was too much a part of her, too easy to get lost in the sharing and fall forever to no one’s benefit. So far, at least, the delicate balance escaped her abilities. Again and again she was made aware that she was still a young child with a great deal to learn about, well, everything. Children often feel an urgency to grow up, to become smart and important like the grown-ups who inform their world. She didn’t feel frustrated and impatient so much as willing, willing her self to absorb the knowledge and skill she needed.
But it was not all like that. There was so much more to being a child, including the everpresent possibility of pure wonder, pure joy, great exhausting laughter, strong arms to lean into and feel safe.
It’s not about where we are or what we have. Children don’t start out with expectations, but with simple basic needs and a readiness to make what sense they can of whatever presents itself as their life.
Old Caela watches young Caela at play, from a great distance of time and circumstance. Memories, experiences, that came between separate them. Old Caela recognizes the child and that they share secrets from which she can still learn, take a special kind of comfort, see a shining thread of something she wants to call truth.
The old woman closed this session with an offer for individual counseling after a break for refreshments and contemplation. As the visitors were led away, she herself turned inward to contemplate those twists and turns in her path that stood out with fond memory.
“Who am I, this particular organization of actions, ideas, experiences?” She thought, again, ready to take in the object lesson of the memories stochastically evoked.
There had not been much time to be a child. Mamma was so sick after unnamed baby sister died, after the long march, the exodus. It was a family image mind to mind of people walking, straggling, bodies unused to such forced exertion moving inexorably. Dejectedly, humbled, humiliated, they travelled mile after mile from their erstwhile homes to land far enough away that the good folks of the city need never think of them again.
That time took its toll on many families. Daddy tried to explain, to answer questions she was too inexperienced in life or language to ask. He tried to calm her, the panicked images she projected soothed by his message of strong, gentle love. Eventually she felt secure in his message that their life would be as they made it in these new circumstances. Mostly he seemed happy to be busy, working with the other able-bodied adults to build sturdy shelters that would, with familiarity over time, become homes. There was so much to do, to make that new life far from what they had known for themselves and the children to come. The few children among them mostly did what they could, helping and learning from their elders as children are meant to. This was not a community of leisure where children could be idle play things to dress up, show off, complain about and cuddle. She never thought to miss that version of childhood. Busily living is not conducive to missing irrelevant alternatives.
Something Sacred: Caela’s Story
“I am an old woman,” she thought.
The image appeared before her of the wasting away of time, waves upon sand. Then, a parade of dioramas, scenes on a storyboard, acts from her life.
“Very early on, it was like that. A play of images to watch, hear, feel, uncensored, undefined awareness.”
Cross-legged, in softly hued flowing dress, barefoot, straight-backed on the wooden floor, she mesmerized her audience. Strong, simple words and resonate imagery effortlessly sent forth capture them.
“I am who I have always been. I have followed an impeccable path to this time and place. At each juncture the awareness has arisen to guide me through enough of the journey to find what I needed. For the greater part of my life I had no consciousness of this process. Now I see the path before and behind leading inexorably. I happily share whatever is asked of my vision. Come, see with me, as far as you choose to go.”
The children playing in the garden outside of the transparent wall of her classroom showed no sign of interest of concern, involved in their energetic game. Had the visitors not known their story, they could have seemed merely a playful backdrop to the old woman’s magical poetry. Had they not heard the stories, though, none would have travelled to this place to experience the magic.
It was a story that started long ago, almost, as the poets say, in the mists of time. Perhaps a branch of the prototypal story of mankind, the beast who tells histories intermingled with legend, but the woman’s current tale was not taking them back that far.
“I was born in a shining city to a family of honored position in a time of peace and plenty.”
She almost sings. The images show a heavily stylized, idealized sketch of the thriving city. The child she had been smiled from a window of a well-appointed home. In her background were happy, smiling adults, gracefully yet busily attending to their day. They saw a well-loved toddler’s happy memories of a time when all was sunny and calm.
For all children, as they grow, life gets more complicated, less monotonally bright (or dark). By the time this child was big enough to carry herself on sturdy legs, her whole world had tragically changed. Her family was no longer honored, but castigated and cast out, part of a fearful, resentful, barely provisioned exodus of close to two hundred of varying ages and walks of life. The image of so many sad, bedraggled, carrying what they could, learning to succumb to a strange lifestyle of movement, preparing and sharing simple meals in unbroken fields, learning how to travel as nomads in the woods.
Even those who had some knowledge of this history, maybe even knew those who had seen it, been part of that time, had never thought about how it must have been for those unwilling bitter exiles thrust from comfortable, normalized lives. Those were not the memories of the city they had grown up in. Common knowledge was that those exiled were sneaky, dangerous possessors of secret power, unfair advantage, unable to be trusted. It was the goodness, the kindness, of those in charge to exile rather than imprison or (as some few expressed the necessity, to execute), or allow to remain until they died out, only at the lowest level of society, unprivileged to bare young.
Such were the choices offered in the panic of that time. It was kindest to cast them out, require them to travel by foot for months, to keep moving until they were far away from sight, mind, influence. There had been unfortunate incidents. Not murders; murder is a word for destroying one of one’s own. The threat was both palpable and realized, strong enough to send so many from their homes out to the unknown.
Some, if they hadn’t been discovered, braved it out. They pretended to be as those who considered themselves normal. They became very careful to exactly fit in, not expose any cause for suspicion. Not an ideal way to live, but a way to stay alive without losing property or position.
It is a newly dawning revelation to these visitors. This horrible, evil talent that forced the exile and brutal deaths of these reviled people was the wonderful magic they experienced now. It was the same gift given by this wise old woman whom they had travelled to see.
It occurred to some to ask, and one did: “Do you hate us for what was done to you by our elders back then?”
“Look into me, child,” she responded, opening freely to those who would see. “There is no room or cause to harbor hatred for a tragic misunderstanding. It did lead me and my people to becoming who we are. Hatred is a shield of fear. Shielding fear keeps it from effective expression that will allow it to safely dissipate. Fear has something important to tell us. We are better off to listen intently. It will go on its own once we work out useful solutions to what fear has warned us of. If we don’t learn that, fear can become a brutal master, when all it wanted was to be a humble servant.”
The graphic story emerging with the words evoked a terrible vortex of pointless destruction, a cowering monster reduced to shameful tears, sputtering its flame.
Something Sacred – Prologue
In the time of antiquity, back before our written records, we are told that humans and gods freely played together and created a beautiful city in the heart of an exquisite landscape where all were free yet happy to cooperate so all might share a common bounty and all might know the joy of engaging each in their true work, respecting the best in all. It was a peaceful time, a happy time, with energy displayed in healthful work and joyous art. Every day was celebrated and every contribution honored.
But then the gods, who are immortal and powerful, grew away from their human playmates. The games they played became more sophisticated, less easily joined in. They developed concerns with a longer view and devised complicated scenarios, complex barriers which humans could rarely overcome to play in the fields of eternity. We became confused and frightened. Some of us would develop feelings of superiority believing we were the arbiters of rights and wrongs, that we deserved and needed power over others, to make our dictates law and punish those who did not properly honor and obey. Others developed feelings of inferiority and great fear of insecurity. We started to believe that there could not possibly be enough bounty for all, that we must hoard and fight off those who might take what we thought of as ours. Instead of happily joining our efforts to assure common good, to find equitable and practical solutions to problems, to enjoy and honor our individual abilities, we broke off into groups that underscored and denigrated our differences. We expended our energy inventing weapons, teaching and learning war. We praised our warriors, poisoned our lands and our minds with the detritus of hatred, passed on violence, discord, deep pain within our families and against our neighbors. We despoiled the gifts the gods had freely given us, repurposing them as game pieces against each other, even against our own best interests, even against the peace-loving, hopeful and ecstatic parts of ourselves. We dishonored the gods and all they had given us. We dishonored our own beautiful potential.
The gods were horrified and disgusted when they saw what we had done. Being ancient and wise, they did understand that they had a part in the blame. They tried to tell us where we had gone wrong, tried to enter our hearts and minds to lead us back to our true paths. But humans, for the most part, had gotten too caught up in our own dramas, feuds, thirst for vengeance or wealth, power, fame. The newer generations had been raised with these values rather than valuing themselves and their collective talents. They had never developed an interest in working and growing together at a high level of prosperity for all. They had learned, instead, to be bitter and angry and depressed, impatient for wealth that even when attained never provided the peace they unknowingly yearned for.
The gods held council and discussed the tragedy that the humans had made of their lives. Taking the long, immortal, view, they decided upon an experimental course of action. They would plant songs, ideas, legends, methods of discovering sacred knowledge. They would at whim walk among us and whisper or sing, act out, prophesize for any who were strong enough or weak enough or somehow developed the space in their minds to understand. They would plant the seeds of salvation in a variety of environments, then watch to see if any sprouts took hold. In this way they hoped to slowly encourage us to find our way back to our true nature as vibrant beings, to help us relearn, become the glorious people we were meant to be.
That is the story we tell. But, of course, we humans had become entrenched in our unhappy ways. A promise of something better was not sufficient motivation to change. The gods devised crises of various kinds and durations to shake up our misaligned order and give us new configurations to deal with, in the hope that in being forced to learn new ways we would eventually turn to the abandoned way that had given us so much. And, despite their horror, disgust and sadness, the gods found joy in their efforts made into games for their own amusement. Some of these games, their stories, are passed down as legends for celebrations or teaching, or told by our storytellers as spontaneous inspiration.
I am an old woman. I have lived a blessed life, with so many wonderful and terrible memories to keep me company. I have gone on a marvelous journey and won the greatest prize. Well, actually, there were several journeys. There were long, dangerous roads and dramatic adventures. There was love; there was loss. There was dedication to an underlying truth that carried me along even when all hope and reason strayed. I have grown and learned from experience, into a deeper wisdom, a luminous joy that is all I could ever be, till it flows out from me into all I perceive and into the hearts of my people to go on into those who will come.
I was born in the City, the only city on my world. It is a huge and sprawling center of culture, seat of government, depository of knowledge. There are marvelous tall buildings, street and underground transportation systems, concourses of commerce, magnificent museums, libraries, concert halls, theaters. There are public ceremonies of much pomp and circumstance. There are great universities, industrial complexes, sports arenas, and all manner of commercial enterprises. It is an efficiently run city where public servants take pride in their work and everything is kept clean and gleaming. I only have vague memories, but this is what I have been told, and have seen in elders’ memories. The military trains in camps on the outskirts of the City, not too far from the prison camps, from which many of the troops are recruited. Nothing is left to chance; little is wasted. There is freedom for the citizens in their private lives, but only insofar as they obey the public rules.
My name is Caela, and I am of the witchfolk. That is what we were called on our home world, Earth, centuries ago. Where shall I begin? There was that ancient era when a craze for genetic solutions came with advances in genetic research, as the histories tell us. Fashionable parents of that age reveled in their ability to choose special gifts for their offspring through the miracle of gene manipulation. It was thought by someone with the clout for the research dollars that there was a crying need in their society for people with enhanced empathy, minds that could probe the minds of others – maybe as clinicians, maybe as spies, maybe as weapons. We were used for all of those purposes, and not to our benefit. We became vilified, feared and hated by those who did not share our gift. Naturally, we tended to band together, to marry and live within communities of our own, of those who neither feared nor revered us but simply knew us as we were, as people much like themselves. Bonding together in enclaves within which we felt accepted and protected, we left the others to develop their fears and resentments. We had natural advantages in myriad social situations, able to know what others felt, to enhance those feelings or divert them to our purpose. Of course, some of us had used those advantages unscrupulously – although that very empathy in some ways puts a damper on the advantages of manipulation over time. Thus, there was actually much less abuse of our abilities than was expected by the general population.
Over time many of us learned to keep our abilities to ourselves and blend in more with the mainstream. By the time of the big wave of colonization, most of us were quietly assimilated, not particularly noteworthy. Still, many of us hoped for less constrained lives on a brand new world. Those who came to this planet, Eden, so named because of its bountiful natural resources, did so as common recruits like anyone else, looking for the possibility of paradise. Genetic engineering technologies did not ultimately solve Earth’s problems of over-population, pollution, depletion of resources. The solution came from the science of space travel, the brave new adventure of colonization. As star travel and planetary exploration permeated the media and popular imagination, the idea of leaving the troubles of Earth behind to start over on other worlds became a common dream. People from all walks of life became enamored of their own fantasies of what they could become given such a new start. People from all walks of life ultimately made the journeys, took the chance, found themselves vastly far from home, and, perforce, created new homes which they were privileged to build from scratch, in league with the others who had made the journey with them.
Nothing is promised. A great deal is possible.
Singer’s sisters, Mirra, Cali and Arla, were cheerful, responsible, warm and witty like their mom. Even in appearance they resembled her and each other, though they had not yet achieved her manner of calm wisdom. Though they might appear less vivid younger copies of Maris, each had her own distinct flair and essence. They were all wizards of cloth, weaving, sewing, designing clothing and other useful textile wares. They had their own cottage industry, producing for their own use and trade as well as teaching others who wanted to create their own clothing and furnishings.
Though no one had thought the need to come up with “money,” there was plenty of rudimentary trade. For big projects, work and outcome were shared. It was expected that everyone help out as needed. Beyond that, individual enterprise took over. Tools were shared on rough timetables open to disruption by urgencies. Adaptations often had to be invented suitable to available resources, repurposing, devising tools and processes as necessary. Of course there were angers, resentments, frustrations, but this is where the skills of empaths excel. There are those naturally soothing presences who help to keep good feelings flowing. There is not the kind of awkward or tragic miscommunications to slow useful negotiation. It helps that there’s plenty of cohesive goodwill, shared sorrows and celebrations, respect grown from working together, playing together, sharing humor, philosophy, and everyday concerns. Recipients of an interconnected web are intimately in tune to enlightened self-interest, true vested interest in success for all.
Caela found she could heal in another way. She knew without thought that she had profound feelings of empathy, profound insights, much more than was ordinary for the extraordinary people of whom she had been born and nurtured. She had from earliest times learned without knowing she was learning to encapsulate the feelings driving into her from all around that she might work through and understand them without being overwhelmed. It had always been like a special extra mother within her teaching and protecting, perhaps an extra gift from Letta who had not been able to learn such necessary protection well enough for herself.
Though little girl Caela had tried and tried to use this gift of separating, working through feelings to move in with care and incisive healing, to help her beloved mother, Letta, cope with the demons that crippled her mind, she had not the power to effect that cure. Letta had not learned to protect herself. She had not felt the need in her protected environment where her naturally strong healing abilities had given her a fine, well-respected career. She had never expected a need to prepare for her denouncement or the escalating troubled times eventuating in exile from the life she depended upon for emotional anchor.
Though Caela’s efforts to heal that breach continued to be heartbreakingly unsuccessful, the failure did not deter nor break her. It was like layers of strength being built by practice and reflection. She found, bit by bit, that she could look into the core of dis-ease and injury to encourage and accelerate natural healing processes of those who suffered. She was also drawn to learn about healing plants, meditative practices, techniques of touch and movement. Not all callings are so strong. Perhaps she had been learning from Letta, even from the womb, to take this offered gift farther, to develop the instinct for self-preservation needed to make it a blessing rather than a curse, even should her world fall apart.
Lev had been a writer in the city, a journalist of wry social and political commentary published regularly in the most popular news magazine. In this new life, he was finding artistic and physical outlet in learning carpentry – a craft he had never been exposed to in his former life. It amused and amazed him how much he enjoyed working with his hands to miraculously create a useful product. He had been quite appreciative of Maris’s skill in weaving beautiful fabric of the fur and plant fibers of their now farming community. He continued to appreciate her creative skill, even more so, as he learned his own craft. Former city business types were having to relearn how to be alive, become people they had never known they were, processing radical change, a broken linear norm revealing to them that it was only a convenient fantasy. For Caela it was all perfectly natural, the colorful adventure of life.
Jase was Singer’s father, not Aron. She had heard Maris talking with her father, Lev. Aron was Maris’s husband, father of her three daughters, though apparently not of her youngest, her son, Singer. When the troubles started getting serious back in the city, Aron had not felt his wife and children worth the sacrifices of standing by them. He was not an empath, had only married one. He had become resentful over the course of that marriage, feeling that Maris was better than he was in every way that counted. She was, but not because of some special talent. She was naturally practical and loving. He was naturally neither. He had been young and charming, confidentally ambitious but privately shy. Over time he had become uncomfortably aware that this wonderful prize of a wife he had won neither made him a better man nor failed to see his flaws. Be careful what you wish for. Keep your eye on all the clauses and subparagraphs. Relationships won’t heal us, only give us comfort and anchoring when we do the work to heal ourselves.
If Jase were Singer’s dad, not Aron, Singer was full empath, unlike his sisters. Jase was a sweet, good-humored drifter of a guy, strong and smart, always ready to help out, but mostly a loner. He and Maris had been close friends since childhood, back in the city. Neither were the kind to deny their feelings, or broadcast them. Maris and Lev had become good friends since the relocation. She was at the moment ranting a bit, reminiscing a bit, in the company of a friend she found easy to talk with. He was happy to listen. He certainly had his share of venting, ranting, sharing memories secondhand. His wife, Letta, Caela’s mom, had become unreachably ill, unable to participate in conversation, to show evidence of reciprocating his love which he now sometimes felt bordered on tragic.
Like children everywhere, Caela picked up bits and pieces of gossip and common knowledge listening to adult conversation as it drifted through her day. She had never met Aron, but did feel the distinct negative tinge given to memories of him by those who had known him. Everyone loved Jase. She supposed Singer had gotten the better of the bargain without consciously thinking about the matter at all. She loved Singer and Maris, similarly though differently from the way she loved Lev and Letta. They were all family, intertwined lives.
Though she was a few years older than Singer, they were left to play together while the grown-ups worked, often looked after by one or more of Singer’s sisters. There weren’t a lot of children in this new community. Everyone did what they could to make sure all were cared for, all the necessary work got done and done well. Everyone taught what they knew, shared tools and techniques, learned what they needed to. Separately and together they figured out how to make a life that worked. Singer and Caela took on what chores they could as time went on. Still, there was plenty of time for playing, just being, figuring out who you are and how that’s done. Friends are good mirrors, sounding boards, brain-storming aids, quiet companions.
True to Maris’s intuitive naming, Singer loved to sing and was incredibly talented at contriving a wide range of soundings from his voice and various musical instruments he was finding ways to fashion from what came to hand. He could keep those around him singing and dancing as well, lightening chores, enlivening leisure. Certainly he was quite a popular figure, central to celebrations. He took this popularity in his gently smiling way, always generous, always bubbling with fun. Music is magic. It excites, inspires, and heals.
Young Caela was able to adjust and thrive because she was tuned in to herself, to her own perceptions and power. Her parents, Lev and Letta, they exist within her, but so does all that psychic energy moving through her. To make use and sense of that, she needs integrate experiential impressions, integrating a trusted sense of self.
How moderate can temperatures be? Do we have the ranges we do have because of some specificity of size or shape or orbit and distance form our Sun? I’m not picturing Winter on Eden, despite its frigid everpresent reality for me here and now on Earth. Fall I can see, the harvest season. But why not several harvests like in the sunny warm states? Out in the farm areas beyond the city’s structures, they have greenhouses, even hydroponic technologies from the ship. Even if the planet has a variety of climate zones, they may have settled in an area less likely to freeze. Would it be sweltering in the Summer in the city? They would know how to build for minimizing that, design to encourage cooling winds, maybe have air conditioning. They would plant trees according to ecologically thought out plans for shade and water retention and air cleaning. The cultural norms would include a slowness of outdoor perambulations, light-weaved clothing. I see bright colors, even in the enclosed atmosphere of the built-up city. There is an appreciation for art, culture, color, design. It’s not that they don’t enjoy diversity. They are worried, frightened, that they will be left behind, out-classed, unable to successfully excel in competition for what they think to be scarce resources, even such nonmaterial resources as public appreciation and prestige, as well as whatever passes for wealth in their culture. They have closed themselves in to this city. Those of true valor and adventure have gone off exploring. Those who can’t abide fences and rules have been sent to the outer reaches to work out their destinies as farm labor or defense trainees or bucolic eccentrics.
People jammed together with their secret inadequacies and fears can build up a psychological squalor. People who present as clean, upright, hard-working citizens can be harboring petty and grand mal demons who rule over their potential better natures and insist on penance without respite, respect or concern. The empaths are not immune from demons, though are to some extent insulated from personal devolution by their mutuality of feelings, the ability to if they so choose never be alone. They will be able to take advantage of distance from the closed in city to develop a culture of their own design. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The dialectic of socially evolving mankind prevails. This is not a story about man against nature or man as part of nature, but about human nature; but we are not alone in the Universe. There is no clear division of background and foreground. The picture includes waves and landscape and sky and all the rest, as far, as near, as detailed, as the artist bothers to render; as the eye bothers to see. All I can do is look deeply into the crystalline vision, and respect, describe, reflect my impressions, my perceptions, my emotions and their creations.
I understand, compassionately, that too much choice is overwhelming to an individual trying to navigate a reasonably safe, reassuringly livable, life. That should not excuse or glorify obstruction against less usual ways, more ambitious or far-seeing strategies. Caela does not feel the pain or outrage of the outcast. She is happily enmeshed in her community, comfortably acknowledged. The solitude and self-directing she has carved out to accommodate her gifts, honed into skill for her best contribution, are well respected. If she wants to leave the group to follow her own dreams and visions, that is her choice and right.
The newer generations of her people no longer keep an outcast identity. They are woven into, continuing with their own threads, the rich fabric of a community that creates their experiences and goals. Her daughter, as an integral member of this younger, self-integrating generation, lives in a large home of like-minded self-identified professionals and their children, sharing familial chores, responsibilities, celebration, physical and emotional care. Caela is happy on the outskirts of the community in her small, cozy cabin. She visits and enjoys visitors, but spends much of her time on her own.
I am learning who these people are, slowly gaining their acquaintance. They are more real, immediate, than the world outside my self-absorption has become for me. I ask questions about how they live, what their world gives them. My grateful mind forms moving pictures, so beautiful, engaging. The scenes, the backgrounds, change to meet my changing expectations. It doesn’t matter if I ultimately put it all together in cogent words. It is the world I need now to be formulating, a soothing, enlightening meditation.
I keep getting caught up in the details. Lovely, soothing details, like doing sums in grade school. Weather. What would the differences in planetary physics do? And even if I am no scientist, how have they developed economic and cultural norms? How have the planet’s – let’s call it Eden – natural lifeforms (because if it is capable of sustaining life it probably already does) dealt with the invasion of life from Earth? I surmise they would have brought embryonic and seed life on the spaceship to continue farming once land was reached. Would there have been combinations, mutations, some species devouring others to become dominant in that ecological niche?
I recall attempting some preliminary research about space colonizing, some proto-musings about this race of genetically engineered empaths that seems to have morphed in my subconscious into Caela’s witchfolk. At that time I got too caught up in immediate living, abandoning forays into an imagined far future.
If I get too caught up in these endless details I could ensnare myself and be unable to continue. I can let them percolate, let the questions come to a head and seep through my imagination. Looking deeply into my metaphoric crystal, I can watch these people, see their details play out, feel out what feels right for these far off colonists and their descendants. In the mysteries of time and space and fantasy, I can watch these people I command into existence assemble into their customary daily lives for my inspection. See the scenes. Note the salient points. Feel the poignant stories. Those devilish details don’t daunt me. They will fill out as they will, as I will, once the grounds percolate and become more clarified, more real than reel (omg, what mixing of metaphors, what a mish-mash of maudlin strings). Willingly giving myself over to this fantasy, somehow this is who I am, at least for now. It feels right and safe. It’s like I want to be scared, but can’t feel it. But what is there to be scared of? I am protected by the great power of prepaid bills and social anonymity, the strongly purring cat beside me, the blessings of alcoholic bliss, and a total lack of real world responsibilities. Whoever the Hell I am, must be some mumbo-jumbo mystical power there. Caela would know about that kind of power. I see the beginning of a beautiful friendship, despite the boundary difficulties between worlds. As long as I’ve only myself to answer to, reality can be whatever I agree to.
Tom has left several concerned messages: why don’t I respond? Isn’t he my magical companion?
My wine glass needs refilling. The curtains are drawn against impending dawn.
I thought of calling Danny, but there’s too much to say. I’m not ready to say any of it. Thank Goddess I have this time, this place, to dissolve and, hopefully, resurrect. What do people do when their reality fragments and they have no realistic choice but to keep moving forward, doing the day job, paying the bills, supporting the family, acting responsibly? Guess that’s why pharmaceutical companies make the big bucks on anti-depressants. Then there are those who crack and become homicidal suicides. It’s always the quiet ones, so they say. I can understand that. When I was more actively alive, I was so much noisier. Not that I’m about to be outwardly dangerous, or actually suicidal. I’m just going on a little sabbatical within a dreamscape.
I can see her now in her teen years. She is full of passion and purpose. She is in love with the lover of her life, waiting for him to pursue her. She is happy and reasonable and ready to take on the world with no idea what awaits her. Transitional times.
Caela wouldn’t have the astrology as we Earthlings developed it, being under different skies. Still, I see her as a Scorpio. She is a healer by going within and sharing deep content. She has power of her own, independent yet entwined in her relationships, deeply intuitive, a person of total integrity. Talk to me, Caela the naturally wise, of the integration of my soul. I feel split into ethereal bubbles wafting into unknown space. I will concentrate, become as one with my imagined healer. I know you will carry me through into my best destiny. I will learn and emulate you, my very personal hero. We will become a legend in my mind to carry me forward.
I am moving forward, though not at pace with the outside world. I am on my own time and space with my own reasons. I am on my educational sabbatical, exploring an other world, other ways of being human, to discover who I am, separate from everything I’ve known.
I get to overdramatize in my own private theater. And I harm none, I get to do what I will, imagine what I will, will what I imagine to hold me with divine mothering arms, rock me with lullabies and fairytales. Twilight’s future is the heroine’s journey.
I feel a kinship to Caela. It’s not just because she is a creature of my mind, woven from bright bits of thought, feelings, fantasy. It’s like she can see inside me and understand as I look into her, learn her. She does not look like me. I envision her as slightly tall, strong frame, dark hair and eyes, swarthy skin, quiet, pensive, yet with a strong sense of somewhat ironic humor, a merry open laugh, sweet loving smile, mischievous grin, dancing countenance. She is intelligent, not erudite. She is compassionate, loving, kind with that strong solid kindness that tolerates fools with enduring good humor, never maudlin, never haughty, but never obeisant or credulous. She stands tall, moves gracefully, takes in each scene, each lesson, each conversation or reflection deeply, holistically, completely. She is intimately connected to her people and place, yet always able to stand apart and accept her own vision. She is quite imperfectly human, and very comfortable with exactly who she is. She loves and lives without reservation, yet with deep, complex reflection and an eternal sense of wonder. She is not representative of her people nor her time, yet she is completely enmeshed with them.
I feel comfortable with her. Her presence in my mind calms and inspires me. She is an amazing friend and confidante. I feel compelled to tell her story though it is nothing like mine. Probably there are metaphoric parallels that I, my deeper self, knows I can learn from, can delve into to discover my own intimate secrets, to grow and heal. If I fall into this other world of my own creation and never return to conventional reality, it will harm none and expand my horizons. But that is getting way too ahead of where I am now. Most likely I will go through this little experiment in traversing into a different realm, find myself on the other side an experienced dimension-shifter, cosmic traveler, no more lost to insanity than most who dare to follow the art star to personal freedom and multiple awareness.
Okay, Caela, tell me a story. Tell me stories for a thousand nights in whatever time zone we can agree on.
My mother told me stories all my life. She was very certain of the line between fiction and fact; but she was also aware of the kind of truths that can best be understood through myth, fairy tales, poetry. Celia, in your death bed, do you see and understand your morphine dreams? Are you just fading away, or are you finding answers to your lifelong mysteries? I know you no longer need or want to talk to me, to share with anyone your last ecstatic visions or drooling pain. Will I feel that why too at my end? Right now I only want to live in my spinning fantasy with Caela on her world where it is all quite wonderful and far away from here. It’s not that I get to control this world of my creation while the real world is too far out of control for me to come to terms with. It’s that I get to make wonderful discoveries, to leave the routinely painful neighborhood of planet Earth and think big thoughts, experience my wild and crazily manifesting dreams.
Pandora wants to cuddle, presses her purring body against me. Another magical companion on my road to Goddess knows where.
Who do I think I am? Secretly:
Once upon a time a princess grew into a queen, and then into a crone, and then into a legend that never dies. When all she wanted was a world that made sense in which she could feel free to be alive. But that makes no sense. That’s not me. Must be the alcohol talking – in vino a lot of nonsense, hyperbole, and sloppy thinking.
Caela wouldn’t need wine. But they would probably have come up with a process for making fermented fruit juice, along with everything else they would need to come up with as a community creating their own existence outside civilization as they had known it. So much to consider in creating a new world. I suppose this one happened bit by bit and all at once like most endeavors over time. Is that how it happens? Threads and consequences moving together imperceptibly until there you are, hemmed in by rules and customs and history? If we travelled back along every thread to the less than conscious decisions creating consequences along the way, we would probably find much better ways of making it all work out. But I’m not that conscious or conscientious; nor are most people getting by or getting behind in our narrow little worlds. Those with real vision come off just sounding crazy. Caela’s people, despite their unique situation, would most likely fall into their own level of complacency over time.
Goddess, what would you have me do? I feel there is some purpose of yours in all of this, not just my little personal devolvement into insanity. Of course that feeling of destiny could easily be a symptom of insanity.
No doctors! No prodding or psychotic drugs or setting myself up for nasty incarceration or reindoctrination to normalcy – whatever that is. I will follow my own damned path, wherever. So, Goddess, I guess we are in this together until you abandon me too. Those dreams of sinking into mushy ice on blue frozen tundras, there is a way through, beyond – or am I frozen in stasis, merely waiting for the frostbite to reach vital organs? It all remains to be seen. Walking unsteadily between the worlds, I could fall forever I suppose. But wouldn’t that become its own level of complacency, falling without thought, receding into a normative back-drop for lazy, selfish, morose self-entertainment? Let’s pretend there is a future-place where all the threads come together in colorful, festive array that make perfect sense on reflection. It’s just a matter of making it from here to there. So, dear imaginary Caela, what can you tell me?
Hours melt into hours, navigators’ objects move across the sky outside this progressively filthier window. I feel the luxury of my hand losing itself in soft fur as Pandora purrs beside me on Celia’s couch. From time to time as it occurs to me, I pretend to write cogently, for something to pretend to do. Yes, I know there are vast ventures of exciting adventuring, or even simple chores I could engage in, if I could engage. Gulping down wine when the feelings get too close to the surface probably is not helping my thinking to find coherence. The radio music gives me an illusion of being somewhere, some connection to a greater world out on the airwaves. I can ride those airwaves like a magic carpet to imaginary places, people to whom no responsibility can be owed or expected.
I somehow hypnotically manage to do the few daily chores necessary to maintain me, cat, plants, to keep real squalor at bay. Going through those motions with minimal consciousness is not responsibility. I don’t have to answer for or explain myself, keep up a conversation or show appropriate emotional responses. How did such simple everyday bits of business become so exhausting to even contemplate? It’s not just that I’m not the person others expect of me. I am no one at all. There is no cohesive sense of me to explain or hold together an acceptable identity. My memories don’t feel of me but like some old tv drama series of connected stories. Do you remember that episode when Persephone and Tom made love on the beach at dawn, hidden in the water though there was no one else around to see? Or that one in the earlier seasons when Danny explained to little Persephone why he wouldn’t be living with her and her mom anymore? Seasons and seasons of this long-running soap opera in which nothing is ever resolved; no strong central character emerges complete with her happy well-rounded life, a joy to her friends, a boon to her neighbors.
Or is that Caela, the refugee? Not that I think I can find myself in her; lose myself in her is more where I’m aiming. But maybe, Goddess willing, I can lose myself in her, live out her story in my inner movie, to find myself later, after the show, curled up in the shelter of some hidden woodland tree, a sprouting seed learning how to be this new creature as I become. Or maybe I’ll just get lost in my own insanity, no good to anyone. Happy pitty party to me, lazy and selfish and brazenly morose.
I am Persephone in her mother’s home. It is Demeter who has been taken by the minions of death, her body barely holding on to life’s sweet definition. Strangers minister narcotics to soften the veil, blur the journey.
That is where the dream comes from. The potent journey; the aging mother, crone, no longer a complete integral of her tribe, no longer anchored to her long-time position in life. Is she called to a sacred mission? Is she a possible guide to my own salvation? What do I need to be saved from? The endless days that make no sense, unanchored, dependent on inspiration? It is getting dangerously close to dawn on this not long enough winter night. I can’t bear to see the light as if ordinary routine of weekday activity could be my expected, accepted norm. I feel so much more naturally alive in Caela’s world, as I diligently figure it out in a faithful inner theatre of cinematic splendor. This has got to be a good thing, this insistently reveling imagination that hugs me with warmth and ecstatic emotion. So much more than a distraction or psychotic state, I believe it is meant to heal and elevate. But what do I know, pretending to be somewhere other than this sad little apartment in this sad little neighborhood, someone more grand than sad little me.
This lassitude is not like me, or not like the me I like to be. I do remember other times when life was too much with me and restlessness without activity overtook me. I need a visionquest. I can attain that even from this restraining lassitude by projecting my mind onto another, more vital, life. I can follow that path of no resistance, encounter demons and deities, solve the puzzle, claim the prize, reemerge, shimmy down the beanstalk refreshed and reinvented. Perhaps I must. It’s hard to know, living on all these levels, in all these layered dimensions of cosmic meaning to random happenstance, how to go about continuing.
It’s not the drugs – anyway, they are only mild antidepressants along with that old central nervous system shut-down stand-by measured in proofs below 30. I’m a self-medicator from way back; but I have considerably grown up and cut way down. I refuse to touch Celia’s pain medication, even though she left quite a nice stash behind when they evacuated her. Or, what is the word? They removed her from her former life to watch her die. I should evacuate myself, get back to where I once belonged. I should get over this private pity party and find my way to be useful and productive in the world. I am drawn into this fantasy universe as if it were the one that was real. I imagine channeling is like this. So now I am the gypsy witch of fairytales casting my scrying eye into other worlds. Anything’s better than being nothing, no one, lost, drifting, alone.
Yeah, melodramatic and untrue. I have wonderful friends who I just can’t seem to reach out to. But, you know, I know, I’m used to being alone. It’s restful, familiar, delightfully irresponsible, just me. Yet I’m never alone with my insistent imagination ever entertaining me with charming characters playing out stories. I will self-indulge for awhile, take advantage of this luxurious lapse into insanity to see where it lands me. I can’t think of any reason not to that makes any sense to me. I’m sure if I get too loud the neighbors will complain. Just a ditsy witch with her cat and inner crucible, listening to jazz, smoking herbs, drinking wine, writing fantastic journeys. If Celia wanted more from me, it’s too late for her admonishments now. Danny wanted nothing from me. Maybe some absolution, but I’m not in that business. What do I want from me? That’s the question worth pondering. Maybe Caela will tell me as I follow her visionquest through the brave forest, discovering who we are, what we can do, where we belong.
Gentle eyes, but much more, eyes anyone could stand before with no shame. Self-evidently these eyes were ready to accept and respect what they saw.
She speaks to me sometimes. No, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
She speaks to me in my own voice, though, perhaps, in a different register. She comes to me in a dream, a recurring dream. It was so clear and powerful. She is beautiful, full of life, full of magical power. I feel safe with her. Perhaps she is some kind of totem, spirit guide. Perhaps she is someone I could become, in the fullness of time, as some kind of metaphoric singularity, familiarity, familiar inner voice who has always guided me.
I feel a special affinity to cats. They are so completely themselves. I love the strong sensual flowering scents of Spring. Yet, I am a creature of the Winter of low lights, of shadow and multiple realities.
I call her Caela.
She makes me happy in a special, secret way. I have a sparkling, shining secret. No, it’s not schizophrenia. In a way, it is sanity. She helps me to understand who I am, who I could become, free and self-empowered. She is like a fantasy mother who is giving me everything I need to face my fortune. She is a gift from me to me.
Moon in Virgo, maybe? I’m losing track. It’s all one long wintry night.
None of that life so mine so few months ago seems real to me now. I am not that person who lived there. Can’t go back; don’t have a clue how to go forward. Celia’s still taking care of me – I have no financial woes. I can stay here for probably longer than I would ever need to, meeting all my 21st century needs, even indulgences, without having to concern myself with paychecks. One less thing.
Pandora cuddles up to me, lets me blubber and cry all over her. She doesn’t make the demands of human friends for coherency, consideration, a semblance of self-control. Yeah, I miss me, miss them, miss us. It’s like I’m being told, simply, in strict terms, that here and now I am not that girl, that womanchild. I am not clear on who this metamorphosed me is becoming. A great, golden cockroach comes to mind. But I am not ashamed. I have no family to fail, no social position to lose. I am not a golden butterfly, simple grace flying from flower to flower. Often I feel like a wraith, between worlds – not of one or the other. Am I my namesake? But in what realm am I Queen? No, I am not taking over your place, sweet Pandora, so solidly Queen of the household. There is solace in the awareness of another life, a natural way of being
Between Worlds ~ Persephone to Caela
I want to write her story, but it isn’t ready to write. I imagine it as a painting, swirling colors and intricate spectral figures, everything moving at once, a kaleidoscopic panorama. When I was a kid, I used to wish on the Moon, the big Full Moon. It was so much grander than any sparkling star. I would twirl around and around on the dewy summer grass, electrified by blinking fireflies. Then, I would flop down to watch the sky swirl like a Van Gogh Starry Night.
What kind of Solstice celebration would she have? Would they have comparable seasons? They would have to have a whole new system of astrology, if anyone bothered with that Earth-based lore. They would have ceremonies, celebrations, dancing and romancing and offerings of special performances to keep in touch with the mysterious. They would be a spiritually aware people, happy in the shared wealth of their culture. They would know to honor, value, celebrate the individual as the ultimate resource of the common wealth. Empaths have no ambition based on suspicion, no need for hierarchical arrangements to be secure in one’s place. The year, or whatever passed for one, would no doubt fall out differently than our years. What constellations might appear? How many moons? Does it matter? Important occasions are marked, harvests and births, rewards for hard labor, sacredly meaningful losses that we move beyond through honoring sacrifice. What else must be honored, must be held holy? There would be celebration for the occasion of the moment when the spirit is strong within the tribe, when there is need for release, tears and laughter, impassioned artistic rendering, raucous song, frenzied dance, the strong scent of blazing emotions gone wild in the loving safety of tribal union.
She found the children, understandably frightened but so far unharmed. The telepathic ability which had condemned their parents had helped to save them. She knew this to be a time of crisis, a crossroad, which must open an opportunity to end this unnecessary enmity, these unnecessary tragedies.
Caela was called. She chose to answer. She was uprooted as a child, but within the caring arms of community. Within that communal embrace, she was able to learn her power, use it for the communal good. She enjoyed a happy, balanced life with family, friends, fulfilling work, peaceful spirituality, the grace of natural beauty. At the point when her life as it had been had taken her as far as it could, she was called to a sacred journey, a mission for her own continued growth of soul, and for the transformation of a world long divided, a healing of the wound dividing the people of her world. It all came as a natural progression. She was always given all she needed to be able to give what was needed by those she served.
Moon in Gemini
There was that November, the last one I had spent with Celia and Pandora before now, after that August when Brent had wrecked my car (sweet birthday present from Daddy Danny) filled with his big drug score and gotten incarcerated. The drugs were out of my system by then, but not the need for them. No physical addiction, but I lived in a fog jumping out of my skin. I felt trapped by being alive, stuck, nowhere to go, nothing to be done. What is it in us that picks us up and keeps us going, even thriving? I was more feral then, a wild creature in a cage.
Danny was good for sending checks for cars from afar when he was flush. Celia was good for my critical disdaining for her sanity while mine was missing in action. I wasn’t much good for anything. I mean, I had been putting my life together, so I thought, after the whole Mark massacre. I was taking classes, thinking about career paths, imagining a future that almost looked normal. It’s not that it snuck up on me. I did sad a lot. Crying myself to sleep was pretty much a nightly ritual. Pandora, bless her kitty instinct, would jump up on my chest, looking so curiously with those big green feline eyes.
Celia would talk, soothingly, about whatever happened to be going through her mind, current events, literary allusions, dissecting the meaning of a common phrase. She wonders a lot about connections, how things come to be as they are. I was having a life, slowly putting it together. Then I wasn’t. It didn’t matter anymore. It was so much easier to get high and let Brent make the decisions.
Not that this fantasy driven druggie was much of a decider. He had things figured out in simple terms: stay as high as possible, making it work by partying and selling drugs. I was the cool chic of his fantasies, supportively sharing his habits. Symbiotic we were, like AIDS and cancer.
I don’t blame him. How can blame be applied to someone so obviously irresponsible? He fulfilled my fantasies, which were admittedly dark. It was a nonrelationship based on needs we each had for self-nullification.
After he achieved ruining his life, putting it in the solid hands of the criminal justice system, I felt cheated. Not that I was adverse to freedom from legal consequences or even bitter at the loss of my ride. I felt I was being unfairly forced to confront myself again.
I had been arguing with Celia about some theory against her I had come up with, based on the occasion of the anniversary of Aunt Marie’s death. One of the guys Brent and I hung out with told me about the accident and subsequent arrest, which he had found out about the way people are always knowing things that I don’t. Yeah, I was wasted. Not on any one drug, mind you, but whatever combination Brent had lying around. He was eclectic in his distribution.
Why am I thinking about this now, dissecting my earlier years? Right, the last time I lived with Celia and Pandora, before I took off without a word. Well, I did leave a note:
“I’ve got to go. I’ll call you when I know where I am. Don’t worry. I love you. Persephone.”
It was shortly after my birthday, before Christmas. Danny had sent me a largish birthday check, a couple of grand, giving me travel money. It wasn’t enough for a cool new car, but a bus ride was a welcome moving through scenery while I avoided thinking about what was to come. I had the luxury of a lovely hotel room to start off in while I pretended to figure out how to proceed. Naturally, I ended up on the streets on Christmas Eve, ready to be taken in by some lonely single looking for holiday companionship. Yeah, it looks bad for me. But, bit by bit, I really couldn’t tell you how, tell me how, I got better. I found myself living a life I could enjoy, found people I could love, found work to stretch me and help me to see what I could do. It doesn’t always work out that way. Lots of people get lost forever. Not that my salvation is an ongoing certainty. I do understand. People get scared. We realize the vastness of uncertainty. We grasp at whatever looks like permanence.
My dreams have been disquieting, quick cut images that carry no sense of coherence. It is dark most of the time. Stark dark tree branches stand out against cloudy sky. Well past the big celebrations of harvest, it is time for somber thought, preparing for the coming winter.
Moon in Taurus
The powerful Taurean Full Moon pouring mist-diffused rays into the night, sends a stark chill with its celestial light. Under another such moon, another time, another home, when Pandora was a fluffball delight, I can hear sadly exasperated Celia insisting I listen to her.
“You can’t just lie around in your bathrobe being sullen and angry. Where is that going to take you? I know you’re not going to do as I have. You already know what I have to say. You are going to have to figure out what you want to do with your life. It’s your time. What will you want to see when you look back on it?”
Eventually her nagging got to me to the point that I pulled myself reasonably together and visited our greater community’s community college. Celia had brought me a catalog to look over, to see if I had any interests to pique.
Part of my problem with high school was that I had no objection to learning, but a strong objection to routine disrespect. At the community college everyone was more adult, respectful of the time and effort going towards useful education. There aren’t the academic requirements like those for getting into a real college, the institutional transition between high school child and professional adult. We self-select, each student pursuing personal goals. It is thus an environment much more conducive to learning than compulsory public schools. They say some of the charter schools are good, starting with a philosophy that kids will learn if you let them, help them get where they are going. We humans are born needing to fill in the confusion with whatever we can find and figure out. We are curious little mimics working away at learning how to be human beings in the background conditions of the here and now we become aware within. What we learn becomes the basis of plans toward big picture goals. What we do with our labors gets circumscribed by perceived need to acquire property, be owned by appropriately valued possessions, positions of responsibility, picturebook family, respected social roles, or not.
What do I want to do with my life? I find a great deal of it caught up in irrelevant activities, even outright stupid, self-defeating activities. These are all what I do, not meaningless. When I look back there is embarrassment, regrets, and insights into myself and my world. Adventures and misadventures replayed, recited for fun or commiseration, they become little gems of sensual recall to treasure.
I do understand the desirability of some organizing principles, organized knowledge to apply to purpose. Today we can learn about any section of a vast store of knowledge through the user friendly internet. We can muster some discipline, outline a plan, and fill in instruction layer upon layer at our own comfort level. We can, alternatively or at whim, melt hours surfing from captivating wave to the next, imbibing the heady mix like a drug. It’s all valid, spent time, learning, doing, effecting who we are, what we look back on.
Who do I want to have been? Celia says she is satisfied. She lived on her own terms. I may see her routine, her circumscribed little life as I interpret it, not satisfying at all. She laughs, gently but in true humor. It’s not been about those routines for her. They are the soothing well-worn structure within which she enjoys that self-made internal world, her real home. I have a home like that, though vastly different from hers in specs and decoration. There are points of similarity where we grew up together, shared in mutual private world visitation.
We see people in their public performances. We think we know who they are, peg them into a labeled box. We have no idea. Is it acceptable to ask: Show me a glimpse, or batter a panorama, of your world.
In my daily living now I watch the one constant person I have always depended upon moving away from her commitment to life. I feel as I imagine Arjuna would have on the field of battle, struggling with the vast issues of life, death, purpose, destiny.
Moon in Taurus
After Mark was dead, our son was dead, I remember feeling hollow, pointless. I had thought I had what I wanted. I really was happy. I had my very own life, my own family on my own terms. Defiantly, I intended to name him Lucifer, the morning star. We would call him Luke I supposed. Mark insisted on his last name. Luke Dante who never was. Everyone leaves, bare trees with no certainty of Spring.
I felt hollow, yet angry, hurt, yet again abandoned, cast from Eden … if I want to go there. Poor, pitiful me. Is it some lesson I’m not getting about self-sufficiency or compassion? I really thought I had shown I could go out on my own, that I could love unselfishly. Maybe it’s not about lessons at all, but just life, random inevitabilities.
Celia took me home from the hospital. She took care of me, part nurse, part loving friend, no demands or recriminations. I was, by turn, sullenly morose, viciously outrageous. She took to talking to me about bits of her life, almost randomly. It was like she described little vignettes she had thought about until they became objective stories, not personal to her. Maybe she was trying to show solidarity in disappointment. Maybe she was just looking for something to say in response to my silence. Maybe she had decided that I now had enough experience of my own to share these secreted memories, to be a confidant.
She had not felt free to share her feelings or serious thoughts with her sisters as sisters do. She was more of a young but more reliable third parent to them. Marie was something of an older somewhat disdainful but loving sister to her. Helen, who was closer to Celia in age, would sweep Celia out to her studio to see her latest painting, talk of art and life in that breathless excited way she had when fully engaged. Celia loved them as family. I think she was hurt when Helen so abruptly deserted us, as was I.
People are always having to get away. It’s not you. They love you. But they have to go. Did I do that to Tom? But I am returning, as I have to Celia. A different, older I, but still the essential me will be with him in the Spring. Celia beyond any doubt will be in hospice by then. She doesn’t want me with her at the end. She says she doesn’t want to have to deal with what others are feeling during her final experience. It is not something she wants to share. Her life has been a lesson in self-reliance. She has learned to depend on herself as ever-present friend. This departure for her is a private matter.
I will have to pack up Pandora and find an apartment back in the thick of my once and future life, or whatever life I am led to, back with Tom.
He would be cast as one of those English gentleman officers in period romantic fiction. Always correctly polite, he manages to convey an unseen sneer when not acting sincerely. Thus, we inner circle few always know exactly what he is saying. He awaits my return, but not alone without consolation, or companionship in his black silk sheets. He is staying well entertained while missing my presence, assured that this time will pass. I don’t know that he won’t leave me or I him, permanently, some day. I suppose unless we die together one or the other is inevitable. Long before death parts us, we may well disband for other reasons. We may well be in each other’s blood, be in love forever. That’s not what keeps people together. I don’t know what does. People stay until they leave. Sometimes they return with tales to tell and scars to display. Sometimes they’re gone. Of course most of us, for the most part, glide by each other as strangers, maybe here and there relating through some little bit of business or sharing a joke. People are unreliable. All we really have is ourselves. But no, not entirely the truth. We have people, some people, for whatever time we share. The stories, the jokes, the hugs, it all adds to the whole store of experiences we can build up for ourselves. We are made more by the people who have been with us. Yeah, some people, if we let them, if we are complicit, tear us down, take away from who we had been. I guess in a way that’s adding too, depending on what we do with it. Art, you know, all those crazy feelings, trying to make sense of them, move them around sensually, find the hook, the core that pulls it all together into a form that can be shared, sold, put on public display. Yeah, spinning out to avoid getting stuck in confusion.
We get inside each other, then leave those left behind to continue the relationship alone.
Moon in Aries
I put on high energy rock music and danced to exhaustion just to get it out of me. I suspect I am genetically predisposed to depression which I unconsciously treat with activity. My paternal grandma has been described to me as crazy, clinically out of it though kept safe at home without chemical or institutional incarceration. My dad is clearly alcoholic My mom sublimates her sadness with activity.
Depression is rampant these days, not only to sell pharmaceuticals. We are only built to take so much concentrated stress without cracking. I laugh at talk of foreign terrorists infiltrating to kill us. The real threat is all the barely hanging on when they hang on no longer and have convinced themselves they need an honor guard to flank their suicided souls. Or maybe they think they are being merciful to their victims, taking them along on the great escape. In any case, what do we think we’re doing piling on no win scenarios in a societal crucible without enough provision of emotional safety valve exhaust?
Dancing’s good for getting out what ails. Swirling into screaming into wide open displays in carnival mania must be why such traditions exist. Humans, we are biologically emotional creatures. Restraint only goes so far before we need to break out. Is that what war is really about? Yeah, land and ideology and fear of strangers, but couldn’t those issues be handled with our well vaunted reason if we weren’t chomping at the bit to spit out a bloodthirsty yell of emotion breaking out of restraint? Kids, puppies, kittens, little creatures learning how to use our bodies, fight just because we enjoy moving our muscles in that connective sport until the pain of battle wounds catches our attention. Athena, body daughter of Zeus, sprang forth ready for battle, and is known as the Goddess of Wisdom, patron of democratic Athens. Are emotions, as well as relationships, sacred mentors meant to move us toward wisdom if we are willing and attentive students? What’s the point? We live. We die. Then there’s another crop living, fighting, dying. So, big deal, or rather no big deal, if I get wise through my unique tawdry mundane suffering. It’s no achievement if no one cares or profits.
Look at Celia, so stalwart, so bravely self-sufficient, so wasted now, wasting away. For my little time, I get to what? Flex my muscles, dancing, playing, running away, even making love, random occurrences. I know, I’m trying to make sense when the prescribed answer is having faith.
Faith can be so confusing. Faith isn’t based on sense; but magic is. Magic isn’t about exchanging mumbo-jumbo for gold. There is a strict structure of rules within which magic allows itself to happen. Faith is kind of like quicksand, but more pernicious. There is no solid ground. There is no safety net. Survival happens. Or not. There is that greater unknowable purpose that makes it all okay. I know magic works, often better than mainstream science. Faith, well you’ve got to take it on faith. There is nothing but room for interpretation, for crazies and cranks to wield their faith-hewn swords. So, maybe the place to start from is: I am aware. Look at all the scenery whizzing by as I scope out my environs. That bit was quite nice, very pretty. Eeuuww, that’s so sad, all that nasty bloody roadkill. Look, I painted my name across the sky. Now look, the light is fading. My name has faded from the sky, below the horizon. Perhaps it will rise again with the dawn.
It’s not so much blind faith as an eyes open ongoing relationship with whatever higher power calls to you through life. Look at me: aren’t I the philosophical one! Named for a goddess she is, perhaps a goddess in training herself. Yeah, little old immortal me, burned in the flames of immortality all over, neglecting not so much as an Achillean heel. Cleansing phoenix flame encourages transformation, new lives for old. Like that “Doctor Who” timelord regeneration, or am I mixing archetypes too irresponsibly? Too flippantly conflating metaphoric musings? There, I’m back in relative good humor. No one gives an internal peptalk like you, Persephone. Thank Goddess.
Thank you, Goddess, for never doubting me.
Moon in Pisces
I’ve been sleeping so much more than usual, actively wanting to sleep. It’s not physical tiredness, but a strong desire to dream. I get such beautiful vivid imagery in my dreams. Deeply personally meaningful jumbled vignettes of scenes, feelings, incredible camera shots no camera could capture because the images are all imagination, keep calling me back to play. Far from restful, these dreams give me intense work-outs. I am more then compensated for any lack of exercise in my more constrained waking life.
This place isn’t big enough to take much housework. Two adult women and an aging cat, all naturally clean creatures, don’t require much cleaning up after. Long late night walks and romps in the park are not the same level of activity I had been used to in that more daily active life I had worked out for myself. My energy, motivated movement, exuberance, have been low, my agitation level on the rise.
This is a generally contentious time of year, peace and goodwill be damned. Not only is the US holiday season secular, it is brutally consumption driven. It is the race to being in the black for businesses of many brands by the end of the year. Thus frantic anxiety abounds. Now that the election hysteria is fading, the holiday hysteria comes to the foreground. There always has to be something overwhelming our senses so mainstream America keeps pounding the treadmill without thought. Well, yeah, those busy brain cells are taken up with how will I juggle the bills to keep the credit flowing? What can I get away with getting for Aunt Sue or my obnoxious co-worker who makes such a big deal of these gift exchanges? The junk mail catalogs are pouring in, filled with glee and cheer as only models of over-priced gaiety can provide.
Until the year my aunt died, Celia and I celebrated in high bohemian style with the crazy artists at the farm. It was a warm and witty fantasyland that I thought of as normal real life. That first Thanksgiving when Celia and I were confronted by our scant number, she did her best to inaugurate family tradition. Even a small turkey was obviously too much for our small family, just Mom, Persephone and our aging cat.
Back then it was Mao, named by Danny before I can remember, in my (and Mao’s) baby days, for the infamous Chinese leader. Mao was intent on keeping us in line. Big, black, loudly opinionated, he had a notably different temperament from sleek, sweet calico catpanion Pandora, who I see currently stretched out watching over sleeping Celia. Mao was still with Celia when I went off with Mark. He died in the Spring before I returned, while I was caught up in my to me astonishing pregnancy. Lonely, several months later Celia adopted baby Pandora, late that summer. She was only a few months old when I moved back in. We go way back, don’t we, Pandora dear?
For our first Thanksgiving on our own, Celia settled on stuffing a smallish chicken. That Wednesday night, on her way home to start the long holiday weekend, she picked up fresh cider from the farm stand. While the chicken roasted she whipped sweet potatoes with maple syrup, spices and cream, cut up fresh salad veggies to dip in a homemade luxurious green goddess style dressing, home-baked a pumpkin pie. We listened to Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” while eating our “Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat.” I was too thankful to be sullen. My family had unraveled. I wanted to believe in what was left.
I always loved Thanksgiving, not “enjoy,” love! It’s my favorite secular holiday. It’s not the food or traditions, certainly not the now exposed ugly history of European colonists and their native hosts. It’s the peacefulness. Late November gives me tingles. Sagittarius, season of my birth, gives me a rush of peaceful inner power. I feel it strongly, every year.
Some years Celia would invite friends without local family obligations. If there were more than us, she would roast a small turkey which we would eat from well into the next week in various recipe guises. That first year with Mark, when I was till seventeen, I brought him for Celia’s Thanksgiving dinner. He was actually grateful to belong, still devastated by the restraining order keeping him from his kids.
That was before the whole bitter custody fight that landed him supervised visits. Mark, Jr. was like four or five that year; and little Alex was only like three. I had only met them briefly a couple of times. One of his wife, Delores’ big concerns bringing her to the point of legal restraint against him was keeping her kids from the influence of their no-good father’s teen witch tramp. Celia hated that I was with Mark, I now can see with good reason. Nonetheless, she treated us both graciously, as family celebrating together. It’s not phony with her. She doesn’t deny her feelings; she allows other feelings to surface for the occasion.
This year it is already evident Celia will not be up to holiday chores. I am the one who must rise to this occasion. I thought of asking for Tom to join us; but I know that is both selfish and ill-advised. Celia deserves this last Thanksgiving to be about her, not as host to even a most cordial guest.
Goddess worshippers, attuned to the movements of the Moon, are theoretically aware of the sacredness of each day. Giving thanks for each day’s blessings, taking solace for each day’s disappointments in the magic of each night’s transitional movements into a new day, we celebrate life. Dreams can heal us, inspire us, take us to places of special personal meaning so beautiful that we know we are blessed. Thank you, Goddess, for the magic of dreams.
Celia, I wish you dreams of Danny. In your ever more frequent fade-outs from the real and earnest world, I hope you find yourself back in that perfect time when you were complete with love. She does tell me sometimes that she was dreaming of him, of them, of happiness. Reality as we interpret it in our private minds is not much different from a dream. A strong belief, acted upon, is not so different from a truth. We can have it all, everything our great big hearts desire, if we can be not so particular about our definitions, or boundaries between dream and real. Not so far from the cross-quarter, the veil may still be thin. Ah November, time of wonder, a crossroad time of year!
Moon in Capricorn
Danny often told me, during our infrequent conversations usually initiated by his drunken phone calls from whatever bar or party on his end, how much he still and always loves my mother. Like he is for her, Celia is Danny’s one true soulmate. He explains plaintively, perhaps hoping for my absolution, he was no good for her. He excuses his weakness by embracing it. He was not cut out to be responsible, to settle down, to fit into an ordinary life as she seemed to need to feel secure.
He may be little better than an indentured pet to Gwen, but she does know enough to let him wander on his short leash, to not make demands beyond simple rules, to keep him benignly distracted with new scenes and exciting people, fun, fun, fun for all her children while she basks in their attentive glow. She didn’t take him away from us. She was his convenient excuse and meal ticket.
I wonder, though, all those dramas, miscommunications, assumptions about what was important, even urgent, back then, how meaningful any of that has turned out to be. Neither of their lives apart were fulfilling or magical as their time together. Could they have found a better solution had they been thinking clearly without clouds of guilt and shame, perceived self-inadequacies? They could have created within their relationship byways for their separate paths, separate adventures, to then store in familial framework of their own making.
Wanting differently, using different strategies, coming from different experiences does not mean working at cross purposes, does not necessitate contention or contradiction. Engaging with those of other perspectives and methods can give us all more to work with for more pervasively useful results. If we could start from a base of respect for ourselves and each other, with a true will to work out what we must so everyone’s interests, needs, concerns are addressed, the results could well be so much better than ever anticipated. Expanding borders, making room for everyone involved, we can create better models, better blueprints, better structures, projects, lives. Privately, unilaterally, deciding based on individual weaknesses and fears you get bicoastal misery instead of mutually nurturing caring family, untraditional as it may turn out to be. Tradition has its place, which is not about getting in the way of the urgent now. Tradition is better as a practical garment that can be altered to fit than a one size fits all straitjacket.
Celia wants to vote, no matter the lines. At least there’s no snow in the forecast. I registered here once I knew I would be staying through the election. Celia did succeed in inculcating a sense of civic responsibility in me. She does not take her right to vote for granted. She informs herself about the issues and candidates, even for local elections. She’s the one who told me that local elections are where democracy is most likely to be effective in everyday lives. All those little local decisions about the public services we use all the time are the outgrowth of local politics. The big national stuff is mostly out of the realm of real democracy. We elect people thinking they can do what no one really can, especially not government.
People in this country act like there are only governmental services, policies, projects and profit-making businesses selling their products and services. Yeah, there is that private family and social life sphere where we do each other favors, help each other out voluntarily without legal coercion or profit motive. It seems to me that we forget the very important nongovernment, noncapitalist civil sphere. The old concept of the public square is a place where we meet not only as marketplace to buy and sell our wares or to exchange political harangues or make social connections. We come together as members of a civic community to work out solutions our perceived common problems, to indulge in civic pride with beautification projects and cultural opportunities. Community self-interest is best at providing enhanced educational programs and otherwise generally improving the conditions in which we all live together. It makes sense that if each little community were well loved and cared for by civic minded participants, the whole country would prosper.
Celia has not had much in the way of community in that sense for most of her life. She keeps herself informed. She votes. On occasion she writes out her opinions on issues she has particular concerns about, sends letters to newspapers and political representatives. Her concern to make me aware of politics grew out of the more activist role she and Danny and their friends took in protesting anti-Vietnam, pro-Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, for all late 60s/early 70s era. I have a more educated understanding of the political structure and realities of this country than I see evidenced by most of public opinion. So many people screaming out on the airwaves, the internet, in public and private, show they have no idea of how this country’s government is designed or meant to work. They just want laws to tell everyone to do or not do whatever their moral codes or economic prejudices assure them is the proper course. There is no talking to them rationally, no swaying them with facts, certainly not compassion. They know what they know; they’re right. Anyone differing is wrong. In this sense I hate politics.
I, as well as Celia, am so tired of the bickering around this election. I hate the shrieking cries of the wingnuts who refuse to see that one wing will never fly. To move forward as a nation, all wings, the whole of us, must move together, each doing our individual essential part.
Moon in Sagittarius
Celia takes folks as we are. It wouldn’t make any sense to her to try to change us. We are going to be who we are. Ultimately practical, she works with what is.
Marie was more of an idealist, highly critical if you were below her standards. She treated me like a princess, as did Danny. Celia treated me, treats me, like another human being, one she deeply loves and is aware of as independently aware.
She knows how to pass, naturally falling into appropriate chit-chat, even mannerisms. She has long been practiced at blending in, almost part of the background. There must have been so much ugly tension in her childhood home, first with her dad’s parents and sisters in the mix piling up against Celia as a package with her Mom. Then, when they had their own home, there was all that tension between her parents, Tony and Angie, who shared no genuine love or respect for each other. She learned to stay out of the way, a neutral bystander, ever pleasant and courteous, never a target for ire.
Danny is a charmer, of everyone on whom he focuses that expansive smile. He can be loud and out of place in a lot of places even so. I tend to get carried away with my emotions and sense of self-important drama. Celia made us normal. In public people would see her as that nice lady. A nice lady with an eccentric family, but they must be alright because she is just like us. It was not her way to be judgmental, to demand that others fit a preconceived idea of what she thought they should be.
Tonight she was genuinely solemnly joyous with me in the Samhain ceremony I improvised for us. Celia is well steeped in literature of ancient lore, philosophies, rituals, psycho-social manipulations before the advent of science as we know it now. We put together an altar of candles, safely separated from the dried leaves we had fortuitously gathered before the snow. We arranged bowls with leaves, smoldering herbs, salted water for the sea and tears, and sang incantations I had written earlier in the day. I had also found appropriate music on an internet radio station so we could fall under the spell of song, dance, smoky herbal aromas breathed in deeply, coalescing into potent personal ritual. We held hands moving slowly around the altar, gracefully flickering shadows of the candle flames. Moving closer together, we whirled hugging each to the other. I could feel her waning energy. Eventually we sat looking into the candlelight, silent, mutually aware, entranced in the subtleties of the moment.
Celia needed to sleep. She sleeps still in short naps, but ever more frequently. I have time to think and feel uncomfortably, letting those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings do as they will, not imposing my will to turn them away. They say the veil is thin tonight between the worlds of consensual reality and spirit. If I let myself be off-guard, perhaps wise or lonely spirits will share tales or visions with me. It’s not insanity if I label it a dream.
Is it insanity, though, that is to be feared, or the bureaucracy seeming to be in the business of making life harder for those who have become overwhelmed by their own circumstances? Insanity might be fine, might be some entranceway into a more profound knowledge and way of being human if we labeled it in that direction. One person’s or people’s insanity might well be another’s religious experience.
I’m not realistically nonjudgmental like Celia. I expect people to be sane enough to make room for the spiritual insanity each of us may privately experience, to make room outside of that practical consensual reality for the spirit world to infuse through, expanding our definitions of normal human behaviors and relationships. “And ye harm none, do what ye will.” So mote it be.
I blow out the candles, look deeply into the darkness.
Moon in Scorpio
October snow on Tom’s birthday away from me. How romantically poetic! Celia, Pandora and I, warm and cozy, drink luscious cocoa (well, not Pandora) and watch the early winter surprise. It’s like a reprise of those special snow days when Celia’s office and my school both closed, though the snow is nowhere near such conditions. In those days it was an unexpected holiday. What do they do for that special time in places where it doesn’t snow? Monsoon or tornado days don’t seem so peacefully picturesque.
On a whim, I put on a Christmas music cd. Christmas, at least in America, is a secular celebration. No need to be Christian to get sentimental about these old tunes. I felt like a Hallmark card cozied up with Mom and Pandora wrapped in soft warm afghan smelling of childhood, with hot drinks, safe from the wintry world.
We never went in for all the bright lights and decorations. We enjoyed the simple elegance and wonderful woodsy aroma of each year’s fresh cut tree picked carefully from the tree farm. Once it became brittle and lifeless sometime in January, we would solemnly, carefully, burn the remains and thank the tree for its gracious visit. For an atheist, Celia has amazing awareness of the sacred, of the life-force of nature. She never cared for arrangements of picked flowers, but requires living flowering plants in her everyday ambiance.
I sent Tom a commemorative collage of homemade poetry and borrowed pictures (because my attempts at drawing express nothing but my maladroitness), carefully arranged in an email message to express love, admiration, adoration. I know he will appreciate the gesture. He has told me he doesn’t like fussing over his birthday because it usually is so contrived. I gather there was a lot of attention to form and little to substance in his home (or, rather, homes) when he was growing up. His parents travelled a lot and dumped Tom and his older brother Ty in boarding schools and camps, but sometimes brought the boys along if that was the current whim. Growing up rich is not necessarily as much fun as one might imagine. Through all that he somehow became a romantic and lover of substantive expression. He can be a severe, consummately fair critic of my work, of any artwork he notices. He fully acknowledges, appreciates, admires when it comes out right, when the art works, expresses exquisitely. So, no lazy good enough when the work is meant for him. I put in full concentration, focus, emotion, and practiced restraint. Capture the essence, make it sing as if angelic choir. Celia was happy to give me the concentration space, and to listen intently and respond with insight based on her wisdom and love as I bubbled over babbling about him and how well we fit. She is happy for my special extra glow, warmly encourages me to talk and talk in the way the presence of that glow turns my words into a magical litany. The ebullient wealth of my feelings shines in her sharing of my glow.
What is wealth? I have no interest in wasting my time accumulating money. That doesn’t mean I am not motivated to work. I am driven to work for the intrinsic values of the product and the work itself, to myself and my community. Given the opportunity, we seem to each have work that is intrinsic to our life. Jobs done with a passion, out of enlightened self-interest or fascination with the project or the pleasurable stretch of effort are jobs better done and lives better lived. Money has no intrinsic value at all. It is not an effective noun, but a verb, a symbol of action. It only gains value by being exchanged for valuable goods and services. The producers of goods and services are the nation’s valuable assets. Money is a myth, a hypnotic suggestion used to enslave. The system gets fixed so people feel helpless to provide for our needs without selling out our lives for a monetary wage. Who do we think are those who provide these necessities? We could be doing even better work providing better lifestyle options, more fulfilling and comfortable lives, by turning our understanding and attitude in more self-loving and community appreciating directions. All those experts talking in self-defining convoluted language, sniping out their petty differences or insisting on their agreed upon models and theories, we allow them to make the frames as if they really were elite. Economics is simple, trade so we can each do our calling and have what we need to be healthy and productive. Sharing makes us all wealthier, not hoarding or enslaving. It’s all a matter of what we invest our wealth in — our time, talent, skill, energy, ideas, joy.
I send you a wish wrapped in a deeply imagined kiss, dearly loved Tom, for many magical wonder-filled Solar Returns. I know nothing bought with money would possibly thrill you more.
Moon in Libra
Rain, wind, I almost expect to see spectral faces briefly glaring against the windowpane. It is an intense season. More violins than percussion in the mix as I hear it tonight. The weeping oboe more than the screeching saxophone, strains of late night heavy blues on keyboard, and of course that bass fiddle, that deeply booming bass. Scorpio is a season I can feel gripping tingling through my guts. I think Nietzsche was a Scorpio — all about that inheld power so intense that only the starkest expression will do.
Scorpios look realer than real to me. It’s as if they are fully three dimensional in a two dimensional world. Tom is so completely Scorpio. He thrills me with mere memory, the thought of his name. He is so very there, so intensely present. While I fly hither and yon, he is my staunch fixed point. He is the exhilaration of the wild storm and my secure harbor. Beauty and Beast, the fulfilled fairytale reveals me to be the enrapt child laughing and clapping in awe and enthrallment. Yet I have exiled myself from my soul’s safe home. I am walking in the rain buffeted by angry winds and icy pellets, opening myself to helpless pain, even horror. How appropriate for the season of transformation through mortal trial. The snake of power coiled in my spine is not fooled by my blushing protestations. I have allowed myself to become an emotion junkie, leaping into the magnetic attraction of that which leaves me trembling but more alive. Thus am I Tom’s equal and other self. We are a parrying of challenge and resolution, storm and harbor, at play. I am working on a birthday e-card poem to send him, looking through googled images, discovering a route to music through picture and words. It’s all ultimately music. I feel it in my every movement, in all the ambient sounds and vibrations.
Moving to the groove of the eternally mutating symphony, we could, if we were closely enough connected, dance ecstatically through it all. There are times when I feel that is exactly what I do.
I have heard about people who believe sharing music can change and save the world. It does seem to be a basic value; but it can also divide us, like probably anything we can find to disagree on. How well will I get on with a friend who insists on a constant background of commercial country music or Italian opera, or any musical dialect I can’t stand. Because I am so attuned to the vibrations, sound sequences I find unappetizing often give me actual symptoms of sickness, headaches at least. Yet there are plenty of otherwise seemingly fine people who actually prefer these to me horrid sequences of sound. I might reflect that I need to broaden my ear; but it’s not just me. Music can be as divisive as any other means of expression. Souls are different. We are not all one. Or, if we are, it is a one of many disparate parts. Is there a music we can all agree on, all feel speaks within us, moves us to dance together, to join, joyfully, in song? Or are we divided by our separate drummers?
We pagans dance around a sacred fire to bring our visions to magical fruition. People dance. People sing. People throughout the world, from earliest history, find ways to express musically. We must eat and eliminate the unacceptable of what we’ve eaten. We must breathe, in and out, the right mixture of elements. We must take in fluids and let excess fluids flow. We must find shelter from storms and predators and heat and cold. There are necessary conditions for the continuation of life as we know it. We seem to need music, an ethereal and ephemeral formulation. What else do we need to be healthy and whole that scientists have not unraveled? If humans are some amalgamation of animal and angel, or Earth spawn and alien, are there neglected necessities that keep us from our potential abilities? Is that why so many of us suffer and die early from illnesses that make no sense if we were engineered for survival? Is that why depression is rampant and anti-depressants so often exacerbate suicides? Something seems to be missing from a great many lives. Do creatures have analogous problems in the wild? If enough wilderness still exists to make that relevant, because such illness in wild creatures might well be due to encroaching civilization. When all that is left of the wild is an open zoo paid for by tourist dollars, what will have become of us? Or is that what we already are? I stroke the soft fur of my small, to me, feline companion, knowing we are both far from wild, yet atavistic enough to feel alive.
Moon in Virgo
The chill in the air has become pronounced. I dig out and launder sweaters, long underwear for Celia’s and my daily walks in the park. Gold and red leaves, colors becoming muddied on the trees, ever more of them drift along the ground. Early morning walks are met by frost and lingering darkness. Darkness encroaches earlier on the day. Spooky sparsely leaved trees make an imprint against the faded light, chill and blowing a mournful tune.
We are building a collage of junk mail circular images glued onto cardboard at the kitchen table in lieu of travel. Celia is comforted by her familiar routines and surroundings; she enjoys playing this game of fantasy, like putting on a play without fuss or break in spontaneity. I also enjoy the simulated adventures, the sense of possibilities.
Tom misses us, wants me to come home. Mom wants me to stay in this home we are building, our fantasy bubble where she feels safe, able to express what is left in her that demands sharing.
I told Tom I will return to him in the Spring. Meanwhile we can play at building our winter fantasies, apart but shared. It is a different kind of intimacy, exploring alternative forms of language, of touching, discovering, with other kinds of senses. He is not happy about our separation, but is intrigued enough to give this game a chance to enthrall — because we both believe in magic. Good magic work requires discipline and will, and excellent skills of metaphoric translation, transformation through psychic manipulation of subtle energies. The journeyman wizard in Tom appreciates the challenge. The timeless romantic imp in me enjoys the adventure of our game. Isn’t that what life so excellently can be, a romantic adventure, much more than a game of chance — a game of chances to fly or drive or quietly walk through charming wonderland hand in hand with wild laughing love.
I watch Celia across the room, stoic and cheerful, that intense underlying sadness acting as a restful foundation, where she has made her peace with disappointment and stale dreams. This place is filled with the products of her busy hands, beautiful needlework furnishings for human comfort, luscious growing green and flowering plants, some bearing fruit or savory herbal spices. Her self-contained world expresses her natural beauty. I understand her need to share, to be led by my acceptance into opening further to herself. I understand that she is wise, that I can be humbled and encouraged by her wisdom. These are lessons out of the everyday, yet lessons we can find everyday, any day, if we will to learn. Wise magic power is not about power over; it can be even more meaningful as power with intimate others. We exchange, merge, grow. Love, beauty, wisdom the will to magical life, isn’t that enough of a glorious game to engage with? Why all the petty bickerings and mean spirits? Is it that people think we are owed treasure we do not create together? Is the accepted myth of an omniscient dispenser of largess dividing us, each attempting to sacrifice the rest to find favor? Are these traps of DNA or cultural legend learned survival strategies? Are they a darker and far more clouded kind of magic?
Moon in Leo
My Samhain pieces are emailed out and I realize I won’t be home for the holy day. Then I realize I am home. This is my home for now. It’s not like there is another place on this planet that is mine, where I live now. Places and people I think of as mine, feel as home, are living out other lives, apart from mine, except for Celia, and Pandora so real and now nuzzling at my hand.
Celia sees Danny that way, as an archetypal figure representing a home solid only in her imagination after all these years. After only a month of physical absence, I am still solidly connected to Tom. We stay in virtual presence to each other. We are present tense, sharing separate lives. Celia and I intertwine our immediate presence. I imagine a future of absence intensifying the value of immediacy, of now.
Time is money in a very real, even mathematical sense. What do we as the working class exchange for money? Skills and labor, but these are not diminished. We may even expand our skills through experience. What is irrevocably lost is our time. Still we profligately spend our time even less consciously than we spend our hard earned cash. It all kind of falls through our hands as we tumble on. Those trying to be wise say in the end it’s relationships that matter. And we let those tumble along as well. Maybe it’s none of that stuff that really matters. Maybe it’s the whole package, the panorama, the eternally evolving gestalt of which time, money, people are but random elements thrown together into abstract patterns from which we can take (or to which we can give) the meanings we find comforting. The season some of us associate with thoughts and ceremonies of death and veiled transitions is upon us. In community in ritual we gain strength to look deeply into our own feelings, fears, questions, chills and thrills and long held social ills, all the human thrashing about working out our relationships with that beyond our bright and shiny business as usual facades.
It shouldn’t be so complicated to be human. The other creatures seem to have this life thing down much more simply and concretely. We’ve got to build up taboos and guilts and psychosomatic hysterias. Beyond that old corny story of the insecure would-be lovers afraid to admit their feelings wasting their lives resentful and apart, eventually bitter, shriveled, unlovable, beyond that personal tragedy, how might we feel to realize after lifetimes of loneliness, anger, pain, that we were holding ourselves apart from those who might have been the salvation we had yearned for yet made ourselves believe could not exist. In some of my psychic spaces I miss Celia already. There are still those spaces in long-term memory where I have missed what we might have shared if not for foolish blockages of my self-devising. I have heard that pain is a signal caused by blocked energy, building up, cutting off the free flow that promotes health and serenity. The blockages are mistakes. They may have been meant to protect injuries or weaknesses, but they have gone too far, stayed too long, gotten in the way of healing.
It often appears in this sexually repressed and therefore sexually obsessed society, part and implicate of the insanity of this social here and now, intimacy is about sex, love is about sex, romance is a polite word for sex. It is forgotten that sex isn’t about sex. It is about life, biology, messy intricacies of organic fluids, consciousness and chemistry, all the mysteries that combine as manifestation. Rationalists talk about magical thinking as if nursery superstition. Denying magic is fraught with risk of missing the essential in favor of manmade myths of mathematics. The map, the territory, the now, all grappling with narratives of authorities, could be simply moving naturally as butterfly wings sitting upon this and that attractive petal. Is it any better for those who mindlessly do what is codified as right, letting guilt for any transgressions of behavior or thought suck them dry? Apparently for all my open-to-loving faith, I am not truly loving of humankind. My deep-seated anger seethes as viciously as any. I have learned the folly of making myself the target, or my loved ones. The anger is for the stupid tragedy. It takes up so much time, energy, mindspace, lives and treasures.
If we let the spirits from across the veil tell us their stories, show us their wounds, if we really took the sacred time out of time to listen and completely feel what they tell us, would we transform? Would we take in the spirit wisdom and see a saner path? Do we culturally fear the angry spirits of the night because they mirror our hidden knowledge of the waste we make of our lives, twisted spending of our time. We forget the value of our greatest assets.
Those among us who are wise didn’t get that way from having an easy life handed to them. They suffered, and learned to find meaning in those experiences. Blessed with a life skewed to discovering treasure in the muck and mire, if they would persevere beyond despair, they are human diamonds, human pearls, gems, invaluable, exquisite beauty created out of otherwise unbearable pain and yearning.
Moon in Gemini
I admit I am a big picture kind of gal. I lose the trees in that magnificent forest. I say, let the Devil have the details; I want to revel in the grand plan.
Celia likes order. I enjoy the thrill of chaos. Though I do understand the need for some kind of order, framing, limitations, to be able to make sense of the picture at all. I do go back over the history to make salient connections, divine the pattern. In my analyses, I also understand the need to allow room for the patterns to shift, to open to less obvious possible connections, to reframe, refocus, move boundaries when they get in the way of progress or collaboration. A permeable box of flexible, stretchy material able to cross dimensions without reticence is my model. Permeable, transparent, barely a box at all, yet with enough integrity to keep disparate definitions in useful dynamic tension appropriate to concrete concepts, communication, building creatively inviting structures on reliable, if often unorthodox, foundations, I spin out metaphorically while keeping contact with a securing base.
Society may apply definitions of psychosis to minor deviations from what everybody knows, everybody does. Such defining really says nothing beyond “us” and “them” — the perennial disconnect. Psychosis, being lost in a world one has made without sufficient lifeline to the common world to function, is a different proposition. I joke, ironically as befits my sense of humor, about my psychotic disassociations from the norm. Yet, I clearly see the norm and choose to disagree. This is not the situation of my unfortunate brethren? fellows? is there a unisex word for this? co-humans? who become identified as mentally ill, sucked through the system that denies their internal experience and insists “conform or you are in essence dead to us.”
There are social constructs that still insist homosexuality, attraction to those we say aren’t in the allowable pool of attractants, is a mental illness. Yet now we have a huge demographic and movement saying Gay is good. I see no logical or philosophical problem with accepting each individual’s self-experience as valid. Take people where you find them, where they are, and work from there to discover commonalities on which to base communication. Yeah, it’s like bureaucracy and money — we don’t want to communicate. We want to upstage in our power games, use any articulable difference as a vulnerability to exploit. We who write the book make the rules. You didn’t read the book? That just compounds your criminality. Off with your head; away with your freedom to be you. Millions of people incarcerated for the daring crimes of unsanctioned self-expression.
No, you “conservatives” practiced in the art of doublespeak, I don’t mean we must not protect ourselves from violent opposition, “terrorism,” street crime. I mean that a sane society keeps its definition of the criminal to the sensible bounds of minimizing violent conflict and unwarranted destruction. Just who are the terrorists when people’s lives are commonly violated, their freedom denied for all kinds of petty disagreements with the holy sanctified social norm? To my mind, law ought to protect the people from the government, or protect people from each other, not protect the government from the people or people from ourselves. Ideally law enforcement acts as a champion to help defend the less powerful from those who would harmfully overpower them.
The Koran never insisted on veiling or denigrating women. My understanding is that Mohammed believed in social equality. His message from Allah was about building equitable community, bringing His people together under rational laws for their interactive benefit. Likewise, Christ was not homophobic or hierarchical by gender or monetary wealth. I don’t know why the self-called pious make up these rules, except their obvious will to power over. Why can’t we uppity female polytheistic self-determination types find our own will to power and make our own rules that put us in charge? First order of business: send those holier-than-thou propagandists out on the streets naked for our delight and ridicule. Then give them some comfortable clothing, nutritious soup and organize them into a game of charades. While they are thus occupied, we’ll free the political prisoners and enjoy a rousing celebration.
Moon in Aries
Celia made clear that she wanted us to exchange, be open to expressing, all the mixed and hidden feelings, everything that we had to be said, to be worked out or given voice. I remember, with chagrin, how easy it was for me to make such awful denigrating snotty remarks, such an angry child. Of course, well, no, not of course, she deserves real credit for her understanding. She did know when I did not that it was not really about my feelings for her. I was pretty snotty generally to those oh so dismissing while tormenting neighbors and schoolmates. But for Celia I had special venom that they would never have been able to appreciate.
Now I apologize, deeply and sincerely, but Celia is not looking for such apology. She is interested in that deep, complex person underlying the crap that I was too inexperienced back then to access or understand. She tells me, coming out in random spirals of thought and conversation, narrative bundles from her memories as they come to the surface, as if recording into my ears, my mind, lessons she is codifying into language. I learn I was right about Grandpa Tony’s swinish behavior in her quietly bitter condemnations, spitting out her long silently held venom. I realize as I hadn’t as a child the great love, admiration and gratitude she felt toward Marie for all those little and big kindnesses Celia did not feel deserving of. I learn, though to a large degree I always knew, how grateful for and dependent on Danny’s love and recognition of her she still is. It hasn’t been an easy life for her, or even a fulfilling one. There are so many people and situations she is grateful for that have passed into long-term memory, of which her gratitude and happy remembrances are all she now has. I tell her I am grateful for having her in my life, that I realize how much she has always meant to me even if I spent far too long denying those feelings, burying them in resentments that I know now really belonged elsewhere.
Somewhere in all the dredging up of memories, sharing and forgiving, confessions of feelings, excavations of embarrassments and mistakes, it occurred to me, I remembered wondering. “Why didn’t you leave, even after Marie died and the house was free and clear to sell? Why did we stay all those years in that neighborhood where we clearly did not belong. I know you could always pass well enough in that superficially friendly way, but you didn’t feel a part of that community. You knew how they ragged on me, how miserable I was. Even if I was taking out on you my frustrations from the malicious behavior of others who wouldn’t accept me, why didn’t you take us somewhere we would better fit in? By then you had been at your job long enough to be well valued, several times promoted. You had the credentials to find a good job somewhere else. Or, we could have found a better neighborhood for us somewhere within commuting distance. Was it because you had your memories, maybe fantasies, about your life with Danny there?” She said she thought that was probably part of it, but had a hard time explaining what I suddenly realized. Really it never occurred to Celia to move because she was so used to making do, to tuning out of unpleasant circumstances into her own private world of ideas, of motion, of routine and attending to the details. She never expected the going to be easy, the neighbors to be supportive, the people in her life to acknowledge her worth or meet her halfway. That was part of what she was so grateful about with Danny, who had really loved, respected, admired, believed in Celia, unlike anyone else in her life. If you only ever get that one real relationship, of course there is no substitution, replacement. If you never expected that sort of connection to happen, if it does it must seem like an irreplaceable miracle.
Amazing, after all this time I am seeing my life from these very different views. The information was always with me, but it was differently arranged, stuck in other boxes where I had thought it neatly stored for easy access, simplistic interpretations by for and all about me. The definition of me keeps expanding while I let it. Here, in this special confined yet unrestricted place and time connections are realigning in my mind as I newly connect with the one person outside myself I have known all my life. I am reforming into someone I am getting to know better. We are two someone’s getting to know ourselves and each other better, more expansively, more deeply and lovingly. I can now allow myself to know, Celia, how honored I am to have you so much a part of my life, and to feel the joy and pride of our connection as I get to share this time, these feelings, this expressing, with you.
Moon in Pisces
We develop over our life’s time, no matter how long or short, knowledge of how to be ourselves within our circumstances. What happens to those hard won insights when we have died? Even if we were artists, leaving behind the corpus of self-expression, what happens to all that experience carved into our bodies and minds? Does it all dissolve, as if it never happened? Is there some depository of psychic awareness, a pool of accumulated wisdom, where the initiated go for consultation and renewal? Is this how we gain insight in trance, tuning in to that collective energy? In my early barely pubescent teens, playing with witchcraft, I tried to tune in to my Aunt Marie’s spirit, she who had been so influential in my understanding of the spiritual. She, her after energy, never said a word that I was aware of as being her. Maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe in the afterlife pool of energy individuality is no longer maintained. Though there are plenty of people who claim more direct communication with individual ghosts, of those they knew in life and those only met after their passing into some liminal nonphysical state.
Celia believes when she dies there will be nothing left of her but her physical remains. She has arranged to have even that burnt to ash. Marie was also cremated. Her ashes were given to her long-time significant other, Helen, who had a potter friend create a discreet but beautiful urn for Marie’s remains’ safe-keeping through Helen’s travels. Celia would like her ashes scattered someplace beautiful of my choosing. I can remember her in some private special setting instead of a cemetery plot public and impersonal among the crowd of tombstones.
Maybe like the Dalai Lama we all reincarnate. The new children with our souls who would be attracted to our old possessions, have traces of our memories, are never searched out and identified. Our new forms are never discovered. Memory traces fade into vague deconstructed dreams. We are surprised, perhaps, along the way to feel such strong attraction to objects, ideas, people, pets, previously unknown yet somehow known forever. That may well be. Here and now, though, I am simply me, my accumulation of experiences, attractions, fantasies, inchoate yearnings. Whether any of these are carry-overs from previous incarnations makes no difference in the here and now. It would only matter if, like the Dalai Lama, others were searching me out to find that soul knowledge from the past.
If it’s like that Hindu thing of karma based incarnation, ascending or descending along the scale of lifeforms based on past-life behavior, housecats seem far superior to humans as a reward for good conduct. Were you some brave and beneficent hero in your previous days, dear Pandora? Do you deserve your pampering and regal independence as payment for keeping your karma clean? Had I best attend to improving my ways or risk return as some crippled, ugly, unwanted beast? Or do we do that to ourselves in real time by denying our true good fortune because it wasn’t the fortune we thought we were seeking?
I wonder what became of Aunt Helen. She was an artist, a painter, rather ethereal in manner, always caught up in her project of the moment, more there than in the room with the people she really did love and enjoy. Without Marie’s loving emotional support, she went off to Europe ostensibly to join in the kind of bohemian community where she belonged, could find inspiration and audience. I’ve never heard of her since, nor seen any of her work online, where today everyone seems to converge. Maybe she just never connected with the ‘net, preferring to stay in her old ways, comfortable because familiar. She wouldn’t need to make a name for herself to pay her way. Marie, several years the older of the two, made sure Helen would be materially cared for should she outlive her.
Helen had been not much more than a street kid artist in bohemian Greenwich Village, New York, when she and Marie met. The story is they met in some dyke bar in the Village on a cold night back in the late 60s. By the time I knew them, they had been together forever, and still obviously entwined. It was beautiful, their unconscious graceful dance, sentimental, endearing.
From all accounts, Marie was a shrewd investor, like her maternal grandfather, my great grandfather whom I have only known through Marie’s stories. She was his favorite grandchild, the only one who had lived with him and her grandmother. They had raised her for several years until she was commanded to her mother’s side to help out with her brothers. Granddad Fitzpatrick left his favorite descendent a decent material legacy from which to start her own investing. I don’t know how she would be doing in this crazy world today, but probably she would be fine. She was quite conservative in many ways, despite her decidedly counter-culture lifestyle. She would not have gone for hare-brained financial schemes or underhanded practices. She was more of the do well by doing good socially conscious investment sort. She kept up the farm, Lady Bountiful to all the crazy artists who stayed there for their chosen times. Celia, independent as she was, did accept Marie’s bounty for the time she and Danny, and for the first year or so of my life, I lived there. Later, Celia dutifully paid off the mortgage that Marie privately financed for our house over all the years until Marie forgave the balance in her Will.
Celia’s third-generation American working class background, Danny’s part patrician, part Southern military traditions, I only got the fall-out and the DNA. Ain’t that America in the 21st century, mongrel traditions and heredity. Yet here we are, each our individual answers to all those variables. Each unique coming together of all that past into now, collectively creating what will be. So, if this is the bright, shiny future, where are the flying cars and federation of planets we promised us?
Moon in Pisces
I took a long walk tonight while Celia snoozed, curled up with Pandora on the couch, woman below, cat above the warm earth-toned afghan. They looked relaxed, peaceful, while I was feeling anything but. The night was comforting, foggy, brisk but far from cold. I felt secure in my old trenchcoat. Celia, sentimentally, packed up what I had left behind when she moved. Now I have my ancient wardrobe to pick out those special garments imbued with emotional attachment, or those in which I refind aesthetic delight.
I’ve always found walking a solitary pleasure. It is akin to dance when the rhythm takes over the body and mind and senses are left free to roam wild. My mind clears marvelously. The sensual delight of autumn fog encourages fantasies, as if I need encouragement. Streetlights through the fog give off that twinkly glow. A cat, black in the darkness, skittering across my path can send little waves of shivers through me, portent potential. I am not used to this kind of solitude lately. It reminds me of someone I have been. When I was alone on the streets of a strange city, or even as it became more familiar, I spent many nights walking with nowhere to go, no home base I could rely on for safe repose.
Yeah, I did often find warm bodies, even ones with challenging, subtle, enlivening minds, inviting me for a night or a time, however long it might work out, to their safe havens, to their beds. It’s not like I was a pro, or that I was taking or taken advantage of. We enjoyed each other for the time we were together, then amicably went on. I still have valued friendships with many of the people I originally met as pick-ups, in bars or parties or striking up conversations on the street. (As opposed to those I never want to see again.) There was mutual respect, safe sex, pleasurable feelings, and a safe haven for a short time in which to reflect before moving onward. Here I am with a different kind of safe haven relationship.
Social economy is the real deal. Money may be the coin of the realm, means of exchange among strangers. Like bureaucracy and other formalities it is a means of protection from intimacy, from real human engagement. In that world of day to day connection that officialdom apparently tries to deny, we do take care of each other for personal reasons. Despite capitalistic rhetoric, life is more often about illogical emotional pull than well thought out balancing of profit and loss. There are probably plenty of petty squabbles that would negate the equal sharing of communist philosophy as well. The best laid plans need to include the realities of human foibles, or not foibles, just unreasoned humanity.
The Moon is getting fuller. Energy is rising. I saw Her light outside the window before the fog set in. They say water will soon be in short supply. But we live on a planet more water than land, and the icecaps are melting. Floods, tsunamis, water water everywhere, but ineligible to drink? How long has our species dealt with the changing conditions of our planet? How long before we find, invent the means to move on to other planets if this one no longer serves our needs? Isn’t adaptability supposed to be our superpower? Desert creatures know where to find water in places no one else would think to look. The sky is falling. The sea is rising. The air is encumbered by industrial pollutants. It’s always something, many things, convergences of influences opposing even the best laid plans. Unobstructed by preconceptions, cleared by fresh air and rhythmic motion, let’s see what we can do. Or not. Earth turns without our input.
Moon in Aquarius
Goddess, my higher self, that intuition place where all the electricity of my brain comes together inspiring, making sense, that’s what we have. People leave. No matter how tight the bond, no matter that they encourage me to depend on them, make promises outright and implied, they leave even if against their choice or desire. Celia was always my one constant, though I may have ignored her in favor of any shinier object, ignored my need for her as a solid background to whatever foreground I was playing out. Certainly everyone else left, each in their own manner and time. I tried to blame her for losses she shared, did not cause. I wanted to blame someone who wasn’t me. Yet now it is so clear that I wasn’t to blame, nor was she. She is not to blame now either, as she is in process of leaving. For this most profound leaving, at least we are taking the time to prepare, to really have each other consciously while we can. I am given the time to learn that my only lifelong companion, the only human I can always depend on, is me.
I think Celia had to learn that early on. Still, she kept trying to deny that painful, lonely truth. She tried to believe in Danny and me, maybe others, maybe even her mom and dad and sisters, cousins, neighbors, teachers, whoever came along offering connection.
There are connections and connections. It’s not that we are cursed to be always and forever alone. Rather, we are cursed to love and lose and be left lonely, often, over and over again. It’s not about blame. There is no blame. I don’t now what it is about, if it is about. One day here we are suddenly conscious of things and people around us. In inchoate attempt to make some kind of sense of sensory impressions, of fears and attractions, of the familiar emerging from the chaos, we reach out for connections. We assemble our software routines mimicking those to whom we feel relationship. We learn to want to be liked, to elicit pleasurable attention, to string together definitions in response to the responses to our actions. Even when we are feeling anti-social, we are fundamentally social beings. Yet cruel experience also makes us learn that connection leads to loss of connection and painful emptiness where once was shared wholeness. I mean, what’s that about? Is it to learn self-reliance, or spiritual reliance, or is it about lies we tell ourselves to pretend we are not ultimately, irrevocably, vulnerable, mortal, on our own?
Without illusions this world of often hostile others is a very scary place. Historically people are always being betrayed, tortured and horribly murdered or enslaved, forced into untenable choices, starved or otherwise left without necessary sustenance for no good reason, made pawns against their will without consent, just because here we are and this is the game we’re playing now. What’s that about? Getting born just to be tortured and ill-treated to death in a variety of degrees, condemned by circumstances over which you have no power, control, say; under which you are never even noticed. Maybe it is some kind of tapestry or mural or vey long and complicated play in which we each have our part, however short or brutal, or gifted. Maybe it’s randomly firing neurons telling us lies. Maybe I am really alone and omnipresent making it all up as I go along for entertainment, a song running through some infinite mind. At least I do manage to entertain myself quite well with all these imaginings, questions, interpreted sensations. If I am my own little emissary of the infinite, how would I order my universe if offered the architectural assignment? Would I do it differently from what I perceive as the world I’ve been given or born into? If it were all perfect from the start, would there be a point?
Moon in Capricorn
I know about that whole being in tune with the moment, resonating with the immediate confluence of energies. There are times when I am there. Briefly, of course. If that is the essence of our reality, where we belong, why isn’t it the way we just naturally are? Why is that nirvana place so hard to maintain? Is it that we are denying our true natures, living in a manufactured environment out of touch, out of balance with nature? Aren’t we natural beings no matter where we live, how we relate to the rest of nature? Why does human life seem so often so difficult to navigate? Steering by the stars, the planets, the celestial compass, we tend to get hung up on prognostication or fighting against fate. Each moment is a special sacred seed which, if we were wise, we would see in all its intricate glory, interweaving moments and being and meaning to breathe in and assimilate. I can see the structure in my inner eye, even dance it, touch its lines and textures with a metaphoric tongue. Yet here I am, just me in my circumstances, mind body and awareness intermixed waiting for my cues to speak lines, perform actions, as if spontaneously improvising in response to each challenge. This is where my mind goes when I need comforting stories, soul-embracing philosophy to counter the anxiety, the memories of pain that snap me up as if past and present have no separation of domain.
It’s times like these that a good long run or twirling entrancing dance can give the reigns to body over mind releasing trapped energy, critically amassing emotion.
I have been having disturbing dreams of secret ceremonies, treacherous icy journeys to sacred caves where tribal fires burn and savage brutal initiations merge into orgiastic ecstasies. Steep mountain roads buried in mushy ice eerily lit blue and gray, iridescent, twist and turn on and on. When I wake I feel more ghostlike than alive for a long while before imperceptibly the real day takes precedence.
When I told Celia about these dreams, she seemed to recognize my imagery. She said we had spoken of such dreams before, when I was detoxing from the drugs I had learned to rely on in my flailing away from the pain my life had come to represent for me all those years ago. I had been so impulsive then, blindly running off in some desperate or defiant attempt to rewrite myself, redefine my life, lose my old experience by wrapping and ribboning in the new. As we talked, she acknowledged dreams of her own that disturbed her. Dreams of falling while attempting to fly, ever more deeply into a dark abyss decorated with purple glowing hieroglyphics; a train whistle and the clicking of metal over tracks sounded from below. So often dreams disappear upon awakening as if ice melting in the sunshine or rain. Then there are the images that stay, stark or wistfully lovely or eerily haunting. Sometimes they linger for years, popping into view without bidding, a hyper reality not to be denied, though we do try to brush them off as mere symbols without substance.
We awaken into life after birth trying to make sense of sensory input, of language and behaviors presented by those who seem to know how to be. The more we think we figure out, the more there seems to be that doesn’t fit our hypotheses or impertinently mocks what we thought we had been told by those who know. Do you have these confusions, purring Pandora, making a game out of pouncing on my pen as I write? Are these human concerns or do we too arrogantly and ignorantly dismiss the experiencings of other species? There may well be no point to any of it at all, just electrical storms of the brain based on some kind of atmospheric chain reaction. Or maybe it’s all some mass-hypnotic dream no more real than “reality tv”.
Moon in Capricorn
A child who was never meant to be. Ten years ago today my son was born and died. Many years before it was around this time that my father left and changed my life. Yet still I love October. It is not the season’s fault that people leave. People leave, one way or another, all the time, in all the seasons of life. People die. That’s the greatest leaving, most permanent and profound. People go off to live out other lives. Sometimes they even stay right there, but lose interest or otherwise change or psychologically move on. I change. I leave places and people and priorities. People who have meant so much to me, have been my center for a time, change in my mind as I form new relationships with myself and others. Converging with some significant other, then growing apart, the frame changes. All these leavings, leaves falling, becoming particles over time mingling into rich earth for seeds to grow in.
I tried again to talk Celia into contacting Danny, or letting me. She doesn’t want to go there. She feels, thinks, rationalizes, that she has made her peace with what they had. She doesn’t want drama, or, I think, to take the chance that he won’t come, that this will be a final humiliation and renewal of pain. The kids, my half-siblings, are pretty much grown. He must have gotten well fed up with Gwen by now. That’s probably my fantasizing, though, not fair to make Celia pay the price of my desire for a happy ending of sorts. More rationally, what good would it do Danny to come back here to watch her leave him, profoundly and permanently?
Maybe it is what he deserves. Do I get to judge that beyond my private fantasy? We can’t decide other people’s lives, rearrange them to suit our sense of balance or aesthetics. That way lies madness. People will do what they do for their own, no matter how illogical or self-defeating, reasons. Look at how I allowed Mark to take over my life. Yeah, I was pathetically young and stupid, but I had known something about integrity, personal responsibility, insistence on self-expression. I know, I wanted to lord it over those high and mighty high school rubes that I was the ultra-sophisticated rebel lover of an older and extraordinary man. He was married, an artist, a maverick iconoclast, more than they could ever be or attract. Now I know, looking back cringing, what a low-life worm and psychotic waste he really was. I may have fooled myself that we had this intense wonderful passionate love affair. Looking back, it was never about love. I had no clue what that word translated to beyond lust and excitement. What I loved was the emotional high of flirtation with danger, consummated by turning over my life to a crazy roller-coaster ride of vicarious insanity or folie a deux.
Celia didn’t even try to control me. I was in no condition to be controlled. She did attempt to get me to see what I was doing. When sarcasm and simple truth didn’t sway me, she muttered dire predictions interspersed with wishing me well, assuring me I would come to my senses, and offering safe harbor when that would become necessary. I, of course, wild know it all teen, ignored it all as calcified ignorance, even obstructionism against my superior instinct. She was no woman to be lecturing me on love having made such a mess of it for herself.
Celia and Danny met in college where he was a well-admired established star amongst the counter-culture crowd, and she was a studious mouselike scholarship nerd, admiring from afar. The Spring he came back, well into the semester, after his mother had died, he was too subdued, melancholy, no longer entertaining to his adoring fans. Celia no longer worshipped from afar. She loved up close and personal, giving him what he needed at a crucial time of transformation. They clicked, each having what the other needed to be whole.
Neither Mark nor I had the basis to make anything whole. We couldn’t even make a child who could survive as a separate life. I don’t blame him. I don’t blame me anymore. I don’t really blame Danny anymore, or Celia, for not staying whole together. It’s not about who is right or wrong. We make connections that seem to be inevitable at the time, because they are. Then times change. We change. Life changes us, each according to our own inclinations. While we are connecting, in that sacred space of commonality, we are given opportunities to incorporate an expanding vocabulary, a more intricate map of the territory of life.
Yeah, spinning out philosophisizing. What I feel is so much more than I seem able to say. The sweet clear air of October evokes such poignancy. To every season so much life attaches. Leaves of scribbled pages mellowing; words constantly recycling as their underlying meanings deepen with age.
Moon in Sagittarius
Uncharacteristically, I don’t want to talk to strangers. There’s too much background to fill in for even the simple pleasantries. Besides, I feel some kind of sacred loyalty or bonding that I need to immerse in, exclusively psychically relating to Celia and our little space-time bubble. We are unplugged from most of the constant media onslaught. What does impinge, we pretty much ignore as if that world is from another place and time. I exchange emails with Tom and some other friends. We keep it personal. This is a time for only intimacy. Small talk, small concerns, won’t do.
There is a park near my mother’s home, an easy walk. It isn’t huge, but large enough to find areas thick with trees and wild growth allowing the illusion of a natural environment. I go there at odd hours, when I am unlikely to encounter picnickers or children at play. I can run and stomp and open my lungs, feel free. Other times Celia and I walk here together. She is still able to get around pretty well, though she tires easily. I insist it’s important that she get outside, move about, take walks and breathe in greenery. She laughs at my demanding, but enjoys the fussing over attention and walking in the park. Even on rainy days, protected by our plastic hooded ponchos and galoshes, we fall into the magic fantasies evoked by puddles filled with layers of muddied colored leaves and ubiquitous odors of life — Earth and Sky.
Celia has neglected to get to know her neighbors since she moved here. At first she spent most of her time at work or socializing with her work companions. At home she was happy to engage with her routine and personal projects. Once she gave up on her job, she didn’t want to deal with getting to know strangers. She even let her work-based relationships lapse. She is withdrawing from this world, not opening to it. She can be so self-sufficient and reserved. The neighbors, out of respect or fear or more likely indifference, don’t pry, don’t stop by or stop her on the street to chat. There is no hostility. It’s more everyone keeping to their own space, their own concerns, the relationships or chatting companions with whom they are comfortable. Even the old couple that lives downstairs act as if our homes were separated by more than floor to ceiling. We are in our separate spaces, separate lives, with those who do not need to be filled in on background. It is almost as if we, my mother and I, were encapsulated in a bubble world that we have created for ourselves to open up within, privately, to each other, because that is where our attention and awareness are fixed, fixated. We do create our own realities, each individually, then in tandem, moving outward or holding inward as far as we choose.
On the streets, in public, in the marketplace, people engage with masks, superficially, smiling briefly to signal non-aggression, avoiding any extended meeting of eyes. It’s what’s polite. Politic, as in the personal is political. There is that constant outside of consciousness masking against everyone we encounter, posturing, adjusting masks to remain safely unseen. Then, tragically often we merely readjust those masks in our private encounters, jockeying for position perhaps or testing to see what we can gain while preventing loss. Politics and economics rule the social scene, in the large and the small. On the rare occasions, the miraculous meetings of minds and souls when we do feel free to really be with another real being, becoming aware of our usually unconscious masking can be painful, or at least an uncomfortable irritant in contrast to the exuberant authenticity.
Breathing green air, filtered by vegetation, or car-fumed and factory enhanced air encouraging lungs to mask in hope of filtering out toxic impurities, what do we choose?
The buzz is the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Who agreed to that world? Who is selling the handbaskets, and who is buying them? Who is defining Hell?
Moon in Scorpio
Taking advantage of the sunshine, we took a drive out to the country by Marie’s farm. After Helen sold it, went off to Europe and another life with Marie’s ashes and assets, it was turned into a private primary school. The kids get to grow gardens and other hands-on learning projects — very progressive. I probably would have liked school if I could have gone there. Who knows what might have become of me? Then, as now, we were not allowed on the grounds. We stopped and looked at the place from the roadside. There was nothing of the old feelings about this high-priced school yard. After a few minutes of silence for what no longer is, I drove on, stopping at a roadside farm stand advertising organic produce and fresh-baked pies.
I love October, the colors and smells and tastes of harvest. I love the crunchy orange and red leaves, that go so well with my hair. I still jump into leaf piles to feel the soft embrace to my feet and hear them snap, crackle, pop. Migrating birds are a marvel, in proud formation. Gaggles of geese land resplendent making ordinary parking lots into festivals of honking and flapping, then launching pads into resumed parades of flight.
Celia and I enjoy our fresh organic pie, thermos of tea and packed sandwiches in a pile of leaves under a brilliant old tree, protected from the damp by our unsnapped rain ponchos brought for the occasion or in case of sudden rain. We laugh about silly old memories of other autumns. We did have fun together, many good times, in those bad old days of my childhood.
Yeah, I admit it. A lot of those days weren’t so bad. I wasn’t deprived of love or laughter or warm memories. Everyone gets bad memories too. It’s part of the package. We get rain and sun and clouds, starlight, moonlight, darkness. It’s how we grow as creatures on a planet, part of the ecosystem of cycles and strategies. I don’t know that every experience is meant specifically to teach necessary skills or give object lessons pertinent to some destiny. All those experiences do, though, add up to who we are. I hear people talk about trying to reconcile their god of love allowing tragedies. It’s not that the deities allow tragedies or injustices. It’s that we are living out all the possibilities of life.
When I was pregnant, I became cognizant that there were so very many variables that could go wrong in the creating of a new being. Every step of the way there are dangers, bad possibilities. Everybody dies sometime, somehow. We all live with that sentence hanging over us. Look at Autumn, the season of pulling back in after harvest in preparation for Winter’s fallow time, hibernation, time for tall tales and the creation of art from the world of imagination while the real world appears dead and cold. In less seasonal climes there must be other metaphors. The still living eat and survive off the dead, though usually of other species. The point is, we are meant to experience the whole story — not just the nice bits. Not because we are evil or have evil gods, but because the whole story is what we are meant to learn from, as a species, as individuals, as above so below. The pattern is dark and light, multi-colored, multi-textured. Would we want endless days of sunshine, gentle breezes, moderate temperatures, milk and honey flowing freely without kicking cows or stinging bees? Maybe. But what would be the point? Blah, blah, blah, la de dah, no drama, no heart-racing fear, no mystery or dark delicious thrills? Maybe this is why straight and narrow namby-pamby Christians call us evil, because we are willing to embrace the whole enchilada, the fiery spice along with the meat and corn.
I was never raised by Christians, though those who raised me were. Who would I have been after Church and Sunday School, the daily admonishment of my sins?
Celia has been so unloved, unadmired, unhonored, unfairly. I am glad to learn this lesson while I have the chance to apply it. The Goddesses who watch over me are wise old teachers. They do not deny or denigrate the darkness. That does not make them evil; it gives me the chance to learn to be wise.
If it were not so cloudy this evening I might see the crescent Moon. Each month she reminds us that darkness gives way to light. In all the vast dark universe, countless stars burn brightly. There is so very much I have yet to learn. How does that poem go: “I am a child of the universe. I am meant to be.”
Moon in Libra
She takes notes when she reads, takes reading seriously, as if still in school. She writes classical poetry, endlessly edited. She likes 60s/70s era classic rock and jazz, sings bits of songs as they wander through her head. When I was little she would dance me around the room, picking me up, twirling me about, losing our separateness in the music. Today we can dance around the room together as equals, to the old tunes evoking memories. She likes to dress comfortably in cotton and wool, sturdy leather shoes with flat heals, no make-up except when socially expected, her mid-length brown hair loose or tied in a sensible knot securely pinned. Her manner is more wistfully practical, gently ironic, than no-nonsense. She doesn’t complain or catastrophize. She likes everything in its place, including emotions. She watches C-SPAN and the Comedy Central fake news, but says lately all the bickering makes her tired. The tv has hardly been on since I’ve been here.
I have been able to do some writing assignments on her computer. Over the ‘net by email, it doesn’t matter to the magazine editors where I’m sending from. Information I need to research for my articles is also thus convenient. Not that I need to maintain gainful employment as Celia has my expenses covered, small as they are. She took early retirement from work when she learned she was sick, always thoughtful giving her employer plenty of lead time to find a replacement. She’s always been a pay as you go consumer, no debt and over the years a good amount of savings. She bought this place outright from what she got selling our old house. She tells me she has arranged for the bills to be paid on a regular schedule so if she gets too ill to manage it all will still be taken care of automatically. Whatever is left, including this condo, will be mine to do with as I like when she’s gone. Certainly not enough to make me rich, but I won’t have to concern myself with finances for a long while. Still, it doesn’t hurt to keep my hand in, keep up contacts and skills. I write anyway. I may as well send it out to be read.
She is so matter of fact, telling me about her arrangements, every detail in place. She’s always been like that. It can be both soothing and maddening. Danny found it soothing. Marie found it maddening. At this point I find it endearing. She is who she is without apologies or aggrandizement. She deserves respect for that; she’s earned it. She has made a life that is hers without back-up or recognition. I always have to be “Oh, look at me! Look how good I’m doing, how valuable and wonderful I am.” She did that for Danny, admired him, gave him all the back-up, recognition, applause (metaphoric and real) that made him able to glow his shining glory. I can tell, even from the distant and erratic contact we have had these many years, that Gwen does not do that for him. What there is of him now is but a shell of what he was then. We do not talk much of him, only on the fringes of conversation on times past, mostly even that only by association. In a way he is what has kept us apart. I know in many ways I am like him, that she’s made deeply happy in a quiet special place to see those parts of him in me. I am the synthesis of a great tragic love, the brutal poignant tragedy Celia always attempts to capture in her poetic words of ancient worlds.
I am becoming acclimated to my life here. It is new, though in some sense a recapitulation of previous episodes of the story of Celia and me. It’s not just that we are in a different physical place, or a different temporal place in our lives. In a way I am waxing as she is waning. We are linear beings meeting on the mystic plains of destiny. Here we share reflections of each other in a set and setting we have never before experienced. The stark strangeness of reality is always amazing me. Celia likes everything to be in its very own place. In this particular onwardly rushing now, my place is here. My quest is to learn my roots and stalks and leaves and the many layers of love and history between Celia and me. I don’t know why this is so important, so impelling, only that it is all that I am or can be right now.
You know, that artistic temperament, making grand gestures from mundane fate. Yeah, Mama Celia, this is your time; but I am the legend of my own mind. Yet, we both know you love me for that grandiosity as much as any of my inherent traits. Aren’t we a pair? Or with Pandora a trio — the three-headed Goddess: Mother, Daughter, and wise old Cat.
I feel I am doing your bidding, Goddess. I am truly becoming a woman, at last, cognizant of my place as inheritor of generations of women. We are each our own story, our own bright varicolored thread, and part of a greater tapestry.
I suddenly feel like baking a cake. We never did have a proper birthday celebration. I hope I can find candles.
Moon in Virgo
I asked Celia if she were afraid of dying. She replied that she was afraid of pain, that she supposed at the actual moment she would be afraid, but the thing is to get through it as quickly and easily as possible. She told me she had arranged for hospice care at the end, when she could no longer function. She showed me the phone number on her rolodex. That’s Celia, always managing the details so no one need worry or be inconvenienced.
It must have been tough for her to grow up so alone, except for the familiar company of work. The story, as I’ve gotten it in bits and pieces over the years, was that old one of unplanned senior year high school pregnancy, quickie marriage, young dad fulfills his working class family’s dreams going to college, while young mum juggles work and momhood living with disapproving in-laws happy to constantly share their grievances against her. Apparently Grandma Angie learned about birth control, in defiance of the Church, because Celia’s younger sisters, Donna and Linda, waited to be born until after Angie had gotten her college degree and teaching job, gotten her life in order. By that time Celia was old enough to be a real help around the house. She says they didn’t pressure her about good grades, didn’t even seem to notice as long as she caused no trouble and did whatever needed doing. I don’t now how harsh it really was. She talks very little of her childhood and family. It’s like she’s embarrassed to have been so worthless to the people who mattered to her. I could express my outrage that they didn’t appreciate the priceless jewel they had, but how hypocritical is that? Celia can disappear into the background so easily. She is such a magical presence that we don’t see her, just the sparkle and afterglow of her constant working without appearance of effort, making no demands. She trained herself well, finding no advantage in rancor or bitterness. Often she seems quite happy, buzzing along. Quite ethereal, like a force of wind and spirit, flowing through her moment to moment doings, she has long since made her peace with reality. I guess the idea of impending death is just one more piece of that pattern. For an avowed atheist, she exhibits an awful lot of faith.
She never argued with me about my beliefs or in any way suggested them invalid. Celia has a marvelous way of compartmentalizing “you” and “me”. She lives and believes as she does and lets everyone else do the same. I hope I am right to think I picked up that trait from her along with a few others, absorbed that underlying paradigm from its early and constant presentation. I know I don’t always express my opinions diplomatically, having picked up the habit of open, loud, display from Danny. Celia is more likely to avoid contentious topics. If they are broached, she is capable of sharply, intensely, stating her view, and moving to another topic so deftly you never notice how the conversation went from there to here. This is a subtle woman, my mother. Naturally I, like so many, have long undervalued her. Maybe that mistake has also caused me to undervalue the parts of me that are like her.
My mom and my Aunt Marie were never on easy terms. There was an unstated, subtle antipathy. Yet there was also great and obvious mutual respect, more so as time went on. Marie would admonish me to love and respect my mother, and not out of some lecture on propriety. My Aunt Marie was not a propriety respecting sort of woman. She was direct, forceful, sure of herself, a maverick and an iconoclast and proud of it. That was never Celia’s style. I don’t think she found it so much uncomfortable as mildly irritating in a way that tired and depressed her. Perhaps what Marie resented in Celia was the lack of appreciative audience, positive or negative, that she expected from those around her, including me. I was endlessly admiring of my marvelously wicked Aunt who always made me feel special and beloved. Celia never showed any jealousy of my relationship with Marie, nor do I believe she ever felt any. She was happy for me to be connecting with Danny’s sister, the only of his family we ever knew. Celia and I, we’re kind of cast out in the world on our own, unattached to other family. Yes, Ms. Purring Pandora, you are family, we three.
If the weather is nice tomorrow, we will take a drive into the country, pack a picnic, enjoy the natural splendor of the Libra New Moon aura of loveliness. Beauty isn’t something you need to believe in to feel its inspiration.
I am having to learn new rhythms for my life, a different way of being and seeing. Maybe I’m growing up, at last, at least? I am the younger generation, displacing what has come before. But I’m not displacing. I’m assimilating, becoming more. Yeah, Celia, we are women who think and self-reflect, examining our life and thoughts, studying as if we are holy texts in which real Truth is waiting to be found. Did I learn that from you? Are we learning it together from each other? I can believe for both of us that we are blessed by this chance to enhance each other.
Moon in Leo
So I was a bratty kid with no childhood friends except my adoring worshippers on Aunt Marie’s farm and my contentious relationship with my mom. The contention was all me. Celia was just Celia, taking care of the practical details day to day with no complaints because that was, she believed, her lot in life. Well, no, sometimes there were kids who thought I was cool and hung out with me for a time, until they got caught up in compromises more suited to their ultimate self-interest.
Celia’s friends were mostly people she worked with and came to enjoy as companions in conversation and cultural excursions. They would get together for dinners and movies or concerts, bookclubs and planning charity events. There were even some short term, no drama boyfriends over the years. Nothing deep and lasting. She never seemed to mind. I think she always thought of herself as belonging to Danny, even after years of his absence from her life. Or, maybe, like me, she was incapable of compromise, at opening herself to anyone who was not a true soulmate. I know, there were all those lovers in my life, but they really never touched me in the profound way I needed to be touched, until Tom. When it happens, it happens I guess. No substitution can be accepted.
He took care of everything without me even having to ask. He told my roommates to rent out my room since I had no idea when or if I would be returning. Celia gave me a check to send them for next month’s rent, since I left with so little notice. He packed up my stuff to send me, but instead brought them himself, flying in and taking a cab from the airport. He drove back in the car he had rented for me to return it. He even tracked down a friend of an associate in Celia’s general neighborhood who could provide the best of medicinal illicit herb in case she should need it (or I). He stayed the night, told me all I needed to be told on every level, and left in the morning, bowing to Celia in is gentleman’s way, assuring that he understood perfectly and admired her far beyond words. She responded with humble gratitude. I cried and made a scene, clinging to one and then the other, and both together, making them drop all formality to tend to the hysterical child. He finally left with the promise that I phone or email anytime for any reason and he would happily return if I should summon. Then I clung to Celia, and she to me, murmuring calming words from my youth, stroking my hair, until somehow we were laughing.
I do know this woman, on so many levels and wavelengths. In so many ways she is part of me. I know I spent years denying that truth. Your little joke, Goddess? Making me see clearly the obfuscations I brought into my life? I’m not a child anymore. Yet I am nothing but the child I grew from. This time from the new Sun to the New Moon this new season is magical, a time of reflection outside of the linear rules. Everything in its own time. But time doesn’t own us, we creatures of emotion and mind. We created time to serve us, to differentiate days, moments, so we can see each discrete step and response of our dizzying dance.
Celia likes to take a break from time, drink soothing tea, converse without boundaries, opening into spontaneous thoughtstreams, making connections. She jumps up, tends to a plant or the cat or moves some item to its assigned place, pulls out a photo album or finds a remembered cd, to look, listen, find new meaning in old memories, make new memories of old remembrances. Celia at last gets to teach her most well learned subject to her most well loved pupil. Remember when fall was always about being back in school?
Pandora is trying to walk over my notebook, sit on the hand moving my pen, to demand her own attention.
This woman who has grown from that bratty, unhappy, lonely child is so blessed with love, on so many levels. I am so sorry, Celia, that it took me this long to understand. At least we have this time, your time, to make it all worthwhile.
It’s been so rainy, hurricane season. I watch the beautiful changing leaves outside, bent by driving raindrops, mysteriously waving in the wind. They say a harsh winter is coming. I breathe in the Autumn air, breathe out my Summer fantasies. Life is what happens while we’re making other plans. Yeah, planning is highly over-rated. Responding to the call of the moment, isn’t that what women do best? Mama, I love you. You must know that, though I intend to tell you over and over in every way I can. You must know. That is why you need me with you now.
Yes, Pandora. I am putting down the book and pen to worship you.
Moon in Cancer
She’s always been always in motion. My mother the verb. So constant that it’s just the background of the life we shared. She has her routines, her daily habitual motions. Happy to chatter about whatever topic is in the air, or quietly intently listen, or fall into hypnotic precise patterns of movement: puttering with plants, chopping vegetables for soup, sweeping away clutter, knitting or embroidering as a nervous habit, something to do with her fine, quick fingers while she talks or watches a news program on tv “to keep in touch” or listens to music while swaying along, then dancing as she stands to move to another task. She’s never slept much.
Neither Celia nor I were the kind of girls that had slumber parties with our girly friends. Though generally well liked, Celia had no time for friends when she was growing up. There were always chores, responsibilities, managing to keep up her studies in available moments to keep up stellar grades while helping at home with housework and watching over her younger sisters. Her mom, Grandma Angie, was busy working, as a high school English teacher and on projects of community and school politics she considered part of her career. Then, as Celia got older there were whatever jobs she could fit in after school, weekends, summers, to save for college, along with all the rest of those responsibilities she seemed to have been born to take on. She would tell me of her younger life without complaint or rancor, but to help explain her habit to take on responsibility, to explain some of the contentious differences between her ways of being and mine.
I was just unlikeable by the kids I grew up around. Cute and clever had not yet found their way into my social strategy, except with the more sophisticated grown-ups of my aunt’s crowd who always made me feel so adored. The kids in my neighborhood and their parents just found me weird and intolerant. It was some kind of private badge of honor for me to feel superior and apart. This was not an attitude I dropped at home. But there were those late nights when neither Celia nor I were into sleeping. We would make up silly stories or snuggle over cocoa and late night tv movies or share a quiet space each involved in private projects.
I can see her energy is so low. Rather than long hours of sleep, though, she dozes from time to time on the couch, amidst her current projects. I don’t feel lonely. She is intensely interested in anything I say, everything I am willing to share. I am, rather, emotionally in free fall. It’s ok. It all feels real. Intensely real. My life recapitulated and more immediate. I feel like Alice when she had grown so large that the rest of the world was out of proportion so that her mind had to search for new measures, new relationships to the familiar. Strangely, I don’t miss my usual life. I feel I am where I belong for now. Of course I miss Tom. He has been so beyond wonderful in all of this. When I called and cried and cried and cried before I could talk at all, he held my heart in his listening.
Moon in Gemini
Stale Sun, changing seasons. The only child I was ever mother to died before we had a chance to know each other. Yeah, I did the whole bonding through the womb thing, talking to him as if he were a person who could hear and understand. Not that I would have talked to him in the same way once he was an actual child in my care, or maybe I would have. I’ll never know. Maybe I’ll have other children. Somewhere down the line. Not that I’m planning to; but plans get changed. I planned to go back to the life I was living, creating, enjoying, making work out for me. Celia had other plans, and hers get to trump mine because she’s dying. As she says, this is our last and only chance to say all we need to say, learn all we need to know from each other, heal wounds, reclaim bonds, make it alright that her time is officially ending. Not everyone gets this chance. It’s so very common to die suddenly, without time to plan, to make amends, to have your say. I admire her wisdom in realizing that after a lifetime of so often giving over her needs or desires to others’ that this is her time if she is to have one, that she finally gets to make a choice for her own sake.
Theoretically, I could deny her this time from my life. I can’t because I know that she’s right. This time for connection is as much for me as for her. I would regret not being with her now. I realize I am at last secure enough in my self to admit my need for not only closure, but closeness denied by my earlier rebellious confusion, by my misunderstandings about who we are, she and I, to each other. Perhaps I needed my time, learning to believe in, to trust in my Goddess, to get to this vital point of understanding, to be the me I need to be now.
I hurt. It’s a physical pain, in my heart and guts and lungs and brain. I hurt not only in sympathy. Celia hurts not only from her disease. We are unnumbing to pain built up over years of feelings denied. We are reaching out now to each other in a closed circuit of pain that can be transformed into a warm familial bond to carry with us, each in our future separate realms. I do, I want to go home, to melt in Tom’s embrace, to live my up and coming life as I believed I would. Belief can be fleeting. I have a sacred duty, not only to Celia but to myself. Goddess, I feel your presence. I asked for a vision and was given a truth. I am connected to the Earth, to my bloodline, to this woman who is facing the ending of her life on Earth and who has no belief in eternity. She wants in these final days she has been given only to tell me who she is, to learn who I am. I am given an opportunity to explore where I come from, a gift Celia simultaneously gives and receives. She has given me so much, more than life and nurturing.
I sit here on my “guestroom” bed, no now it’s my room, with Pandora purring to my touch. I am feeling my way into a new, unexpected phase of my life, emotions pulsing out everywhere at once. Celia’s had time to process her changes. This is my process. I am not a little girl. This is not my childhood home, or my childhood cat. This is Celia’s life, Celia’s death. I am her daughter, and her most intimate confidante. Spring is for being born, Autumn for dying. The transition to the transformation of death is a different kind of birth. Hecate would understand, the Goddess of birth and death and the spaces between, thresholds, doorways, crossroads, limbo. Goddess Hecate, I understand that I am in your realm for this duration, for this direction in which you are moving my consciousness. Bless me, Goddess. Give me your strength of purpose and will, serenity within the maelstrom. The future is one moment at a time. The time is always now. Who I am to become will amaze me, I’m sure.
Persephone in Fall
Moon in Gemini
She told me she is dying. “There’s really nothing, you know, that I feel I need to do, except to get to truly know you, for you to get to know me, while we still can.”
What could I say? That I have a life, a lover, plans? Is this the guidance I asked for, Goddess? Is this my next stage, my sacred education? I can certainly use the greater solitude, the forced isolation, to hunker down and discover what my imagination has been whispering. She needs me here; and I guess I need to be here with her now. I guess we have gifts to exchange, lessons learned from living to teach each other. I am a selfish bitch! Why am I not just comforting her, thinking of her, thanking her? She has been the one constant, always ready to be there for me. We were close when I was little, so intertwined as a family. Then, I guess I needed to break away. I can return. We can be close, even friends. Great friends. Someday I will look back on this as a significant time in my life. Right now I will look forward to a very special, very important opportunity for sharing what is left of my mother’s life.
When we meet again, my love, we will have great stories to tell. Yes, I must call Tom and tell him I will be gone for the duration. This time is for Celia and her prodigal daughter to connect and let go.
Moon in Taurus
I don’t get what these economy down the tubes explainers are talking about. There is no free market. At least not in the land of the free where everything costs. There are all kinds of regulations, petty and large, but mostly opportunities for people to be paid off. There are licensing fees and inspections and filing papers and setting up appropriate accounts for paying taxes, paperwork constantly prying into the time that you want to be spending on making the business happen.
Creating a small business, even before making it work, is made so difficult, as if we didn’t really need and want all the local and specialty enterprises keeping our daily lives running with the manufacturing and distributing of goods, services, community glue, backbone of a thriving economy.
I took a bunch of courses at community college in small business management. After investigating my job options, doing some kind of art promotion seemed the way to go. I had picked up some idea of how art and making a living might intersect while I adhered to Mark. Not that he was very successful, but, amazingly (to me) he did make a living from selling his paintings. Of course I got to learn about blackmarket sales and distribution close up at Brent’s side, though I may have been more focused on sampling the wares. Having had some basic marketing and business accounting classes, though, I’m sure my amalgamating brain cells did their multi-tasking and I did pick up salient lessons. I do seem able to come up with decent strategies and ideas, useful enough for various friends and cohorts to be happy to trade favors, ask my advice, invite my participation in their and mutual projects.
My point being that these big deal business as theft types at the top cry so hard about free market liberty, small government, social welfare is none of our concern, blah, blah, blah; but they don’t play by those rules. They do all they can, like buying politicians and advertising hypnosis, to get their sweet, sweet deals, laws swerved to their favor, keeping the little guys swamped in paperwork and regulations that they have departments of experts to play for them, merrily screwing the workers and consumers, setting themselves up as too vital to fail so they get bailed out when they go too far, excused from every stupidity and vile act and liability with the best justice money can buy… Where is anything resembling a free market whose invisible hand chooses products, prices, promotes innovation and creative problem-solving (not just financing), gets the best to the most for the least? There is no free market. There probably never has been. Like the people’s communism that is meant to form once the state has withered away, instead the state stands firm no matter the dire straits of the common people, those communism was meant to uplift into mutually benefitting community.
They’re only theories. In the real marketplace corruption and strong-arming rules. The more you’ve got the more you can get by paying off the refs and cops and rule-makers. Meanwhile, the people with the great ideas who might be truly providing what the people, the customers, the market would so greatly desire have to get nickel and dimed, insulted and threatened and broken one way or several so that if they ever do manage to make a go of it they need to develop talents having nothing to do with their purported product but all about scrabbling and scheming, skimming and hoarding resources. At least admit the game is fixed. Admit that winners and losers are not about moral desert, but immoral leverage. Maybe if we finally let the corporations fail, too big or not, let the market happen, let the millions of little good ideas sprout up in communities everywhere, suited to their individual little markets, we really could have that diversity of ideas and cultures and small solutions that we ideally say we want. Even if profits were not the only motive, even if we were more concerned with people having the products and lives we each really want, it would still be a marketplace of freedom.
I know, the script says we are mere vassals in the service of our Lords. Isn’t it better to be vestal virgins in the service of our Goddess, no man’s slave?
I’ve got to get my act together to get it on the road tomorrow. On my sacred mission to celebrate her birth with my mother, just at the changing of the seasons. It seems appropriately, what? Generational? I’ll be leaving from here, Tom’s place. We are spending our last few precious hours of Summer together, since by the time I’m back next week it will already be Fall. We got together shortly before Spring, kind of a half-versary. Bed and breakfast a la casa with Tom, dinner with Celia, a long drive’s worth of transition between. Today we have unplanned plans to play like kids, in a totally other world from logic or economics or politics, just Tom and me and the we of our common becoming.
Moon in Pisces
Harvest Moon, too overcast to see your resplendent glory. We’ve been dancing to, if not exactly under you. The weather should be clearer tomorrow night for the full Full Moon effect. Or will another hurricane come up the coast to drown you? Unsettled weather. Unsettling times. Uranus conjunct the Full Moon at the time of harvest.
The Towers were struck by lightning, manmade lightning. Fire and brimstone. I wonder about the Christ and anti-Christ quoting scriptures, using prophecy to further causes of today. If Christians wonder why I mock them, or more likely take offense (turn that other cheek, guys), how would they feel about castigations of being Satan Worshippers, evil heathens, unbelievers in the One True Church (splintered as it may be). They leave no room for me. I, on the other (left?) hand honor them by taking their creed seriously. There’s room enough for all of us. Why don’t they want to see that? They’ve only been around for a couple thousand years. In the beginning was way before any of us can remember. At the end we all die, onward to whatever afterlife does or does not await us. The Bokononists, in Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle” believed the world ended when they died. Their world did. Of course, their world was a fictional one created by a human author. So like a god, the artist, creator of worlds.
Don’t worship me! I don’t want the responsibility. Why would a god? Why would a President? Why do these politicians want to be President of The World Power? What kind of power does it really give them? Well, if we the people and our other representatives aren’t looking, paying attention, expressing our minding, who knows? Maybe it’s not some mythical anti-Christ and Beast we need to be concerned about. Maybe the threat is much more mundane and RealPolitik. Beware of politicians on a mission from God.
So, dear Goddess, tomorrow night belongs to you, under the Harvest Moon. My intention for supplication to your wisdom will be brought with holy honor. What is the nature of my harvest and my sacrifice? The Vestal Virgins were not physically intact, but free of the domination of any man. Perhaps I am in that sense a virgin as well. Though the bonds of love — but are bonds of love a domination if it is a love between free equals with no expectations, no demands? What am I willing to sacrifice? It’s not like I’ve got much. Maybe I can sacrifice my ignorance, my unfounded fears, my ill-advised temptations, self-imposed limitations. I sacrifice my weakness in the service of my strength. Sounds lovely. The thing with magick — be oh so careful when wishing that you are ready for the consequent reality after tweaking to magick’s demand. Be careful what you will for; it may become your destiny. I could be such a well-adjusted coward. Well, part of me would be. I am opening myself to destiny, not out of bravery, but necessity. What else have I got? It’s far too late in the game to switch over to a “normal” lifestyle. I have the candles, the incense, the herbs, the wine, the spell. Wish me luck. I am a daughter of Jupiter. Luck is my Ace in the hole, my guardian talisman, my banner and armor.
Moon in Capricorn
Of course the Goddess Center women are all abuzz in heated political debate, or rather debate about the highly hyped issues and candidates. I’m generally more into meta-politics, the underlying philosophies, paradigms, ways and means in the developing of the structure within which to perform our interdependent social roles — much more fascinating than the media memes. Happy little packages we can carry through the day to give us our unthinking preferences are useful if we want politics to be a binary system. They don’t end up so happy, though, when you do throw in some thought. Of course, thinking just leads to confusion.
I am not happy about the sexist/racist political warring. I know, sisters, we want a woman in the Whitehouse (and I don’t mean First Ladies and staff) because that would somehow give us, what? More power? A better shot at an executive position or fulfilling political ambition or respect? Because once we acknowledge we have these equalities of expectation, women will naturally elevate ourselves without it being worthy of comment. Until our culture respects its female half, a figurehead of gender is just another target for bad humor and rancor. To me the sensible course is to go with the candidate whose style of leadership is one I can respectfully get behind, if such a candidate presents, even from a so-called third party. Who makes these decisions about what political organizations are more legitimate than others? Is it just based on longevity? Doesn’t that keep us stuck with the most entrenched in corruption? Or is it based on the size of the membership? It seems rather self-fulfilling that the groups who get the status will get most of the flocking crowds.
These elections become such a big deal — a national orgy of angry rhetoric and divisiveness. People finally vote, then seem to think we are governing ourselves by proxy, their job is over. Then we get to bitterly complain that the jokers can’t get it right because they are not all things to all citizens. Meanwhile, for the local elections, the level at which most of our everyday lives intersect with democracy, small enough for individual activity to really make a difference, no one shows much notice or interest. I guess we pretty much just like to complain, not do the work to fix the problem. So, great, we get to get up on our high horses in mock battle, make our symbolic gesture in the voting booth, and righteously complain that the bastards don’t know their ass from the hole we want filled in in front of our house. Ah, America, home of the equal opportunity idiots, selling our birthright for a bit of entertainment and self-satisfaction. Didn’t the Roman “bread and circuses” come before the fall? Or is that why it’s become so important to throw out the invading hordes of Mexicans and Muslims? We are a nation of immigrants and religious freedom, as long as you all are our kind. See why I don’t get into political arguments with my friends and colleagues? I mean, I’m all for political action, but that’s a totally other realm of discourse.
Time seems to be moving faster lately. I have to get my brain in gear and work out the logistics of my visit to Celia for her birthday, less than a couple of weeks away. Tom had wanted to fly her in, put her up in a swank hotel, wine and dine and entertain her for a few days, including bringing her to the Mabon celebration, which would also allow me to participate. I ran this by her, and she would have none of it. She wants me to herself without distractions, she says. She always has been essentially very private. I can see that she might not be comfortable amongst a large gaggle of witches, mostly strangers to her. It’s her birthday. She gets to make the rules. I’ll have my work in in plenty of time for the holiday, so I may be missed a bit but not needed. Tom said he would rent me a car since I refuse to deal with airport security, and it’s only a few hours’ drive. Usually I take the bus. I want to go a couple of days early so it won’t be a rush, so I’ll have time to acclimate.
Celia moved out of our old neighborhood a couple of years ago, once she realized I wouldn’t be returning. She found a smaller place, top floor of a two-family double-decker, a condo, closer to her work. I won’t have to deal with old neighborhood memories. I haven’t made any memories in this new neighborhood. I’ve only briefly visited, not often, and spent that time with Celia, not the neighbors. I know she has friends at work, but she likes to compartmentalize and doesn’t bring them home much. There’s just her and Pandora the cat, who replaced the now long dead Mao of my childhood. This will be good. We will be adult women talking about our lives, our relationship, working on that primal mother-daughter bond. Then I will come home, back to my life, renewed, enriched by this familial experience. It’s all good. It’s golden, like autumn leaves.
Moon in Sagittarius
I really enjoy wandering bookstores, sampling the wares, finding hidden treasures to make note of. I don’t buy retail, prices in books like prices in general getting ever more emblematic of the cultural rift between the economic classes. There are still libraries and secondhand outlets for we financially challenged. Wandering the store, though, is free and fun. Sometimes I run into those author events where you get the lecture, free coffee, and the Q & A, which can be quite edifying. Today there was this author who apparently had written about the tumultuous 60s, heyday of my father and the social revolutions we are still embroiled in sorting out. It wasn’t all sex, drugs, rock n roll and flower children. I’ve heard the stories, at this point from a wide variety of sources who mostly lived it first-hand. It was about all kinds of people breaking out of their stereotyped roles. There was the Civil Right Movement at first. A hundred years after the Civil War and the freeing of the slaves, you could have fooled large segments of society who didn’t seem to get the word that “equal rights” had legitimate meaning. I’m not sure what the eventual catalyst was, maybe all that post-WWII social flux slowly sliding down, shaking out. The mass communication of tv might have helped. There was all that idealism around the JFK presidency; imagine a liberal Irish Catholic able to be elected, exhorting us to ask what we could do for our country. Whatever the background, change was playing around our collective psyche. A whole lot of people started to feel a need to make this rights thing right. And it grew. African-Americans needed rights. Draftees needed rights. Women needed rights. Gays needed rights. All the oppressed groups saw the light, that they were Americans too and entitled to be taken seriously. It’s amazing to think about how radically different the world was not all that long ago. My parents may be getting on in years, but this was all within their lives, within a generation. That vast worldwide storm of social upheaval is my direct history, living memory, available on tv archives and affecting our everyday lives in ways we no longer even think about.
When my mom was a kid, women were teachers, nurses, secretaries (or, of course, whores, but we don’t speak of that), if they worked outside their home at all. Mostly they were housewife/mothers, and happy to be so. Or so the myth goes. Not that they didn’t have plenty to keep them busy; and not that today there aren’t plenty of women who opt for that lifestyle. During WWII, the one they thought would defeat the fascists and make the world right again, women patriotically did all the work left behind by the men going off to fight the good fight. Then, the guys came home victorious and it’s the kitchen and bedroom for you, little lady. Well, no, not if you’re too poor to have a kitchen and bedroom if you don’t take some shit job not considered manly or worthy of decent pay; but proper women with good providing husbands get to spend their days cooking, cleaning, caring the for kids, and providing a safe hole for hubby’s semen. I suppose guys got to feel the pressure to earn their perfect fiefdom. Then, there were all the closeted queers making life miserable for themselves and undesired wifey.
This is the world the Christian Conservatives are so hot to restore, when men were real dicks and women were real tits and ass babymakers. Great! Backlash. But how does it make sense to lash out against freedom, rights, equality under the law and in the marketplace? Aren’t those the grand old flag founding American values we get to go to war for? And I don’t remember where Jesus said” “Oppress thy brothers and sisters as thee would want thyself oppressed.” Wasn’t Jesus about love and forgiveness? I am so confused. At least I’m not a Christian. How do they reconcile the teachings of their Lord and Savior with the preachings of their angry hellfire pastors? I guess that analogy about flocks of sheep is right on. Pardon me for being a bitter practitioner of an alternative faith. We pagans know about dark and light, and the necessity for giving full reverence to the whole. We are not so easily fooled by exhorters of light who lead into darkness. We like to celebrate life in all its intricacy, rather than insisting on some narrow path from life to a death-dependent reward.
So, what’s the difference between the supposed Muslim call for martyrdom rewarded by virgins and paradise, and the Christian reward of Heaven after a righteous life of suffering? I guess that the Christian is not required to die in combat, and is not promised a sexual hereafter. After all, you know, sex is bad. Procreating is essential, but the means impure. So sad. Jesus, I am so sorry for what your so-called followers have wrought. I know you tried, gave your life to teach them better. I hope you are enjoying your paradisial reward. I think you would be happy conjugating with “sinners” rather than virgins. I mean, isn’t that virgin thing about claiming ownership of the fruit of the womb? What should that matter in the afterlife? “Sinners” are so much more experienced, much more fun. I mean, we are talking reward. Sorry, Islamic martyrs. Though, I suppose, being intent on martyrdom, on dying for your people, you never get much chance to be very experienced yourself. Maybe it would be more fun for you to experience newly together with your afterlife harem. What about the Muslims who don’t die in battle? Do they get a segregated corner of Heaven, or a piece of paradise devoid of virgins? Someday I want to learn Arabic and see for myself what the Koran says.
Moon in Libra
I want to take notes, record the world going by. Change can come so quickly. How can I know what I am learning, what has meaning? There have been times when I have looked back so clearly; I see the metaphor, the spiritual lesson, the brightly colored thread woven through my life. I didn’t see it then. Then I was caught up in the moment’s crisis, scared out of any possible wits that I would not find a way out. There’s always a way out, if you can be calm enough to find it and resolute enough to take it. At least, I need to believe that.
I feel the call of Autumn, change, forward moving energy. Challenges in the air. Will I be ready? I’m barely holding together as it is. When I was a kid I wondered about the future, the new millennium, how special is that! The past would be behind, with this whole bright and shiny new future to do whatever was imaginable. When the millennium came around, of course, I was in no condition to make much of it. Just another day, another year in a pointless series of days and years as far as I was consciously concerned. The calendar doesn’t matter. It was, no doubt, devised for political reasons at the time. Some philosopher, I should probably google, I think said we can’t step in the same river twice; everything constantly changes. I especially see the change from summer into fall. So why put the New Year in the middle of winter? Whose idea was that? Yeah, we may need a ceremony to convince us that the Sun is returning, but it doesn’t mean we have to change the year so abruptly mid-season. Winter doesn’t start on December 21, even though that may be the longest night. We all know when it is winter, when it turns cold and snowy necessitating heavy clothing and lots of it. Or is that too regional? And what will Global Climate Change do to that regional experience?
At least in my culture, the school year starting after Labor Day has marked the change into another year. I am a grade older now, wiser, more in control. Yet this is when we are still in the servants’ sign, the time of harvest, golden fields to be plucked of crops ready to be sent to market. They say new ways must be found to produce more food for a growing world, in these times of climatic change, in these times of economic uncertainty and the decline of vital resources. Still, people have long thrived through times of much less, probably still do in some societies. There seem to be the people who gossip and complain and catastrophize, and people who sit back, think, work it out, find solutions and creative outcomes. Of course there are other people as well. I know there are those who try and try and always get knocked down yet again, just a bit out of step with the main flow of acceptability. There are also those shallow hangers, smiling and flocking to the bright center of the parade, whatever it takes. I prefer to make it (or not) on my own terms, which have nothing to do with fame or fortune as popularly portrayed.
I enjoy living simply with occasional treats, especially unexpected treats. I like being true to the principles I have figured out for myself through the life I experience. I like knowing I can count on myself while acknowledging the great goodwill of my fellows which allows my actual dependencies to be easily reconciled with continued independence because it all goes around. What I really like is getting away with being a brat because I’m so cute and clever. Ah, truth. Then, I start to think I am getting too old to get away with being a cute, clever brat. It’s probably getting to be time to buckle down and work on more marketable skills.
Just how long do I think I can get by on this low-level career mosaic of some art promotion here, selling my clever words to low-circulation publications, working events paid by distribution of door proceeds or tips, the occasional temp gig, whatever comes along and grabs me for a short term recompense? I know Tom could and would support me without a second thought, but I would end up feeling owned. Okay, this is something legitimate to be thinking about as the seasons change. Note that I never considered running to Daddy Danny now that I am no longer a package deal with Celia, obviating Gwen’s objection. It did have to be said.
The Pisces Full Moon will be available for celebration in a couple of weeks. There is plenty of time to devise a ceremonial spell to supplicate the Goddess to bring me the awareness I will need to find the path She ordains for my next phase. Free will is free. It is what we use to make our own what destiny demands. Or not. It makes more sense than running on chance, in my experience. Then, my experience may be a game of my mind, placing what comes in according to my expectations. It’s all so tenuous! What makes sense of it is to go with what works for me, whatever my rationale of personal insanity. Full Moon ritual it is. And dreams, paying attention to what they say in their slippery dream language.