Something Sacred: Caela’s Story #4

Caela’s Story #4

 

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.

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Something Sacred: Caela’s Story #3

Caela’s Story #3

 

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.

Something Sacred: Caela’s Story #2

Caela’s Story #2

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 #1

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 (Caela’s Story)

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.

Diaspora

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.

Between Worlds #12

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.

Between Worlds #11

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.

Between Worlds #10

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.

Between Worlds #9

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.

Between Worlds #8

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.

Between Worlds #7

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.

Between Worlds #6

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.

Between Worlds #5

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?

Between Worlds #4

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.

Between Worlds #3

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.

Between Worlds #2

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

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.

Manifesting Destiny #57

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.

Manifesting Destiny #56

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.

Manifesting Destiny #55

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.

Manifesting Destiny #54

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.

Manifesting Destiny #53

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!

Manifesting Destiny #52

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.

Manifesting Destiny #51

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.

Manifesting Destiny #50

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.

Manifesting Destiny #49

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.

Manifesting Destiny #48

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?

Manifesting Destiny #47

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.

Manifesting Destiny #46

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.

Manifesting Destiny #45

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.

Manifesting Destiny #44

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?

Manifesting Destiny #43

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.

Manifesting Destiny #42

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?

Manifesting Destiny #41

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”.

Manifesting Destiny #40

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.

Manifesting Destiny #39

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?

Manifesting Destiny #38

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.”

Manifesting Destiny #37

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.

Manifesting Destiny #36

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.

Manifesting Destiny #35

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.

Manifesting Destiny #34

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.

Manifesting Destiny #33

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.

Manifesting Destiny #32

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.

Manifesting Destiny #31

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.

Manifesting Destiny #30

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.

Manifesting Destiny #29

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.

Manifesting Destiny #28

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.

Manifesting Destiny #27

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.

Manifesting Destiny #26

Moon in Gemini

“It’s not that I don’t want to be self-disclosing. I just think no one wants to see me disclosed.” Celia told me. The last time I was living with her, after the whole adolescent rebellion thing that kept our conversations minimal, after my whole wrecking my life thing, yet again, stalwart Mama stepping in to take me home and care for me. After I got sufficiently bored with my self-pity, we had some good, deep conversation, now and then. I tried to let her know that what she disclosed I cherished, even while reserving my right to be a brat.

I have the typical Sagittarian foot in mouth disease, not reticent like Celia at all. More like Daddy Danny who never knew a party he couldn’t be the life of. I’m not that flamboyant, but I do manage to get myself in quite a bit of trouble with my radical ideas outspoken. But then the more gentle-caring side of my nature will kick in. I’ll start seeing everybody’s point of view and go all soothingly good-humored. Mostly I get along pretty well socially. Yet I do so enjoy that quiet understanding, deep emotional sharing without need for explanation, like I have with Tom.

We do talk, so much, about everything, passionately. But there’s that other layer where no words are needed for complete attunement. Yes, Goddess, I love him. I thank you fervently for the meeting of our paths. I’d had no idea it could be so easy, so beautiful, safe and magnetic, while exciting, energizing beyond any dream. Amazing how people affect each other, like elemental forces. I can be so very different in one relationship from another. These others, they pull out different aspects of ourselves, aspects even that we were never aware existed until there they are. There I am, in a way I wasn’t before this other’s influence showed me this way of being me.

I do like the me he shows me, the feeling of being we. More and more, too, I like the me I show me. The better I get to know me, through all the relationships, especially the one, or many, with myself, the better my respect, love, appreciation for this marvelous creature grows. That can’t be bad. All this stupid talk about selfishness, the great sin. Wherever I go, whoever I’m with, I’m always here. Doesn’t it make more sense to spend all my seconds and minutes and lifetime with someone I love and appreciate and enjoy? I haven’t got Celia’s self-deprecating hang-ups, or Danny’s well-deserved guilt over spinelessness. They don’t need those hang-ups, though they seem to think they do. I certainly neither need nor accept such self-imposed limitations. There’s plenty enough limitations, just being on the material plane in a social network, bumping against everybody’s rules, restrictions, expectations of conduct. It is so easy to lose yourself in all the cross-current. Anchoring to a secure inner voice can be essential with all those conflicting voices vying for attention. No wonder the world can seem so crazy, everyone a hair’s breadth from total meltdown one way or another. People clinging to whatever voice tells them what they want to hear, or are used to hearing, no matter how miserable it keeps them. Yeah, well, I would have more compassion for these miserable folks if they didn’t seem to want to make everyone else miserable too.

Yes, Persephone, everyone isn’t as magnanimous as I. Named for a doomed goddess, I must be special, eh? Blessed be, each and all.

Manifesting Destiny #25

Moon in Aries

I know I’m letting it get to me, but it hurts. In my gut, in my heart, in my mind I really do feel the pain of all the ugliness. People behaving viciously; there’s no need. There’s no reasonable reason. Yet it happens everyday, all the time, in all manner of horrid manifestations. People beat their small, defenseless children. People plot against supposed friends, stab them figuratively, sometimes literally, in vital places. People use the love others feel for them as tools of torture. We deceive to the point of creating insanity. We embarrass ourselves to mortify those who could have been allies. We deceive ourselves into thinking it’s fine to destroy over petty differences. We are pretty damned evil. Not all the time, nor all of us, but way too much for comfort. This is what I get for listening to gossip. All the nasty little demons of everyday lives come tumbling out over glasses of wine. But it’s always there, too, in the headlines, even if I resist reading the details, in the broken faces on the street, even if I resist hearing their stories, in the song lyrics and radio news breaks. Yeah, if it bleeds it leads. Sensationalism sells, and what’s more sensational than brutality? Of course, I should move my mind toward counting my blessings. My life, these days, is relatively safe and sane. My lover is sweet, not bitter and deranged. My family life may have been imperfect, but never violent. My neighborhood runs to the bohemian, not the territorial warfare of the oppressed. What I suffered in my less enlightened times I survived, minimally scarred. (Just scarred enough to be intriguing, not hideous.) So, let it go. Think lovely thoughts. I shall clap my hands and save a fairy’s life, shall I? I shall drink delicious magical potions and swoon into bliss, no harm, no foul. Or maybe I could get by meditating on my umbilical reminder. We are all one — Ommmmmmmmmmmmmm. Because, what do I think I can do to combat the ugliness short of creating and surrounding myself with beauty? What would be wrong with that? There’s always dark beauty, dark humor, the magic of darkness, the yin-yang shadow, the cup of refreshingly sour lemonade, the decadent delight of the bittersweet.

That is what we do with the ugliness, I guess. Paint a graffiti mural over it all, clouds and whales and galaxies. Make it just an incidental part of the picture, disease germs and bloody revolution, Malthusian balance, life eating life, the tragedy of survival in all its ugly methods of demise. Why can’t we all die peacefully in our sleep? Is there a vital truth to be gained from pain, torment, cold vengeance, scary demands of conformity, inescapable agony because someone profits? Who said any of it has to make sense, be nice, or feel good? It’s only tragedy if someone’s watching, and labeling. Otherwise, it’s just private pain, like could happen to anybody. Isn’t that what pain receptors are for? Maybe it’s just interpretation. I say pain. You say pressure or discomfort or neural activity. I say torture. You say enhanced interrogation techniques. I say I don’t want to see it anymore. You say here are some lovely blinders, part of this complete costume. Enjoy the fantasy ball. Your pumpkin awaits. I say awake me from this nightmare. You say: you are awake. Start dreaming. If the world was mine to create, what would I do differently? How would I reorder the better angels and the spiteful demons? This world seems to be moving into ever more fateful times. Then, all times must be fateful, chock full of ugliness, armored in beauty, blessed, cursed, nurturing within a burning crucible.

If we could learn to program not in binary but in multiplicity, what answers could we compute? Would that mean anything to the battered child no longer able to survive? Or the battering parents killing themselves vicariously? Suicide bombers desperate for release from bondage, desperate to create their own context. Is there that possibility of escape with popular, market designated art? Is there a way to reconcile with human complexity writ large on canvas? None of it stems the pain, staunches the endless bleeding. Still, I have deadlines to keep and pages to type before I sleep. If I could just get rid of this queasiness so I could concentrate. I am so sorry, ghosts of the brutally defeated. Blessed be you all. May we all find peace, tranquility, pleasant dreams to erase the pain, reach transcendent beauty.

Manifesting Destiny #24

Moon in Aquarius

I can hear Patty Smith in her intro to “Gloria” emphasizing “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.”

People talk about the troops — and where did that designation come from, simplifying human lives into uniform units — fighting, sacrificing, dying for my freedom. I am so very sorry for all this horrendously stupid suffering. I never wanted it. I never condoned it. My freedoms get stomped on all the time with or without anybody’s sacrifice. It’s up to me, every day, to make sure I am free. These folks, dying in some far off post-imperial war sure don’t seem free. The folks they’re killing for the existential crime of being the designated enemy sure aren’t free. Freedom’s got nothing to do with it. Or security. More officially sanctioned violence in the world makes nobody safe. Honor on the literal battlefield is neither a surefire way to make a career nor the mark of a real man (male or female) — not in these days when there is so much real work, made even more imperative after all the wanton destruction, needing doing. Maybe people get so frustrated with discrepancies between what they’re taught to want and what they get that blowing stuff up, people, livestock, antiquities, whatever you’ve got, feels more satisfying, like something decisive has happened. Or maybe that’s just my silly girlish romantic idea of warfare. I’ve never been in armed conflict. Maybe it’s all so regimented that no one gets to really feel much of it at all. Occasionally some lives or limbs or other body parts get lost. Occasionally buildings crumble, homes, families, neighborhoods, lost in the rubble. Whose freedom benefits? How do I benefit? Is this meant to be some Malthusian pruning back of population to serve up bigger pieces of pie to we who remain? The pie is ruined by inedible rubble. Careful, you’ll break your teeth on that soldier’s bones.

It we want freedom, and whatever safety is actually possible in this unreliable world, wouldn’t strapping manpower be better used to build and grow, teach and heal, explore, improve communication skills, party and create? That thing about power coming from the barrel of a gun only works while you’re the fastest or biggest gun. People who feel empowered to be free can get killed. We all die. It’s part of the package. People who give their power and freedom to fear never live. They may as well be robotic troops.

There seems to be a common idea that if we can get the right toys, enough of them, it’s as good as being free. Violence to get those toys and hold them is a wonderful game. Just because I don’t get it doesn’t make them wrong, if it works for them, I guess. It does make it wrong for me and the others who have our own games to play that are being obnoxiously and sometimes tragically interfered with by the violence and its consequences. Our rights must be at least as legitimate, as important, as theirs. Who is charged with the promotion of peaceful, cooperative, creative, life-affirming initiatives and maintenance? Billions of taxed dollars and huge military organizations get wasted while we are expected to gloriously applaud, then individually muster what energies we can in the service of paying bills and taxes to keep the war machine, the industries and their corporations they serve, marching along. Who made these rules anyway? The sinners that Jesus keeps dying for? It seems like a bad bargain to me, not just because I am on the ripped off end. The Goddesses are so much more sensible, gloriously enjoying as a sacred example, not horribly dying in martyrdom. Isn’t that the way it goes: guys hopelessly posturing their foolish macho pride while the women get to not only do the real needful work, but also have to keep cleaning up all that needless mess. Well, not all guys, nor all women, but enough to prop up the metaphoric stereotypes. Men aren’t from Mars, nor women from Venus. We’re just variations of the biology of Mother Earth. Would it help if we made a point to remember that? Until the colonization of other planets, we’re all stuck here together. When we do it right, we can have so much fun. So what’s the stupid hang-up? A topic for eclipse meditation …

Manifesting Destiny #23

Moon in Sagittarius

We are the stuff that dreams are made of. Every little fleeting thought, sensory input, synaptic connection is raw material for literal dreaming and the surreal expressionism of art (writ large or small). Something is impinging on my sense of equilibrium. I’m not sure what. Perhaps it will work its way into my dreams, or my art, unconsciously; perhaps that is its purpose. Maybe it’s just the rain and celestial fireworks making me edgy. Maybe it’s the impending Lunar Eclipse. The time between eclipses, solar and lunar, in the selected month is theoretically fraught with meaning, changes, revelations.

Tom’s been out of town these past couple of days, overseeing a festival he’s organizing. I’ve been working on my own projects. Busy lives. Isn’t that what lives are for, to create those manifestations on the material plane, playing with all those art materials, making those markings upon the world, enjoying the use of the stage? Why am I here in the city in August while the world seems to be caught up in countrified festivals (the world, that is, not caught up in war, politics, Olympics, or business as usual) Couldn’t tell you. It’s an intuitive thing. Maybe basing my life on pushes and pulls from some mysterious inner realm is a cop-out or otherwise unsound, but, really, what else is there to go on? It seems to be working well enough to keep me alive so far, despite all the massive insanity I’ve lived through to tell about. I have no problem believing the craziness happens to give me a wider perspective, object lessons, growth experiences. What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger, as I’ve heard here and there. Part of my job description, strange and road-tested, transfiguring all with my magic pen-shaped wand, inking out this hero’s journey through lands of Oz and Wonder and Never and the ancient mysteries. My dreams have been less than clear lately. Lots of movement from one situation to another without segue or apparent connection. When I wake up, it’s all a jumble in my inner eye. No clear images. I feel like there’s been a scoop taken out of my psyche to make room for new images waiting to be assimilated.

I like the late night quiet. It’s like another world from the day which belongs to consensual reality.

The bread in the fridge has gone stale, ready to turn into the comfort of bread pudding-like french toast. Lemons are too expensive to praise the virtues of lemonade; I prefer iced tea (with lemon) which I have assembled of herbs and water, intermingling and waiting in its refrigerated bottle. All part of this complete pre-dawn, pre-sleep breakfast.

This summer’s been more cool and wet than I remember as usual. The paradoxical blessings of global warming? Some say we are born in a dream, all the buzzwords and hyped stories imaginative metaphors for our psychological concerns. Apart from being overly influenced by Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone,” what might be the meta-analysis of my dreams? The stuff that I am made of?

Manifesting Destiny #22

Moon in Libra

All this talk about “the economy” as if there’s a war between capitalist free market and governmental programs, or as if any policy could be one size fits all. People get so caught up in ideologies and competition, putting down viciously any idea defensively seen as contrary to our preset mindset. Well, obviously, not everyone, but enough to be an enormous unnecessary obstacle to real world optimization.

What makes more sense to me is a kind of two-tier economy. You’ve got your basic tier in which everyone gets a piece of the pie covering whatever is deemed to be the basics. This sphere can also include basic infrastructure like public health facilities, public transportation including roads and such, public safety organizations like emergency and law enforcement, or more rationally peace enforcement. Then there’s public education, libraries, art and culture centers and events. The second tier would be the free market capitalists to provide the goods and services they do best, consumer goods, luxuries, lifestyle and status markers, specialty niche fillers, fads and fancies and fantasies and innovations.

People will want to go beyond the basic and fulfill dreams or create profits because there is more to human satisfaction than basic comforts. We like to shine, be respected, show our stuff. We like to earn credits to win prizes. We like to build our personal empires or be part of exciting or valued projects. We like to work when that work is appreciated and not oppressive. We are not in a position, even in impoverished areas, where we need to live by the creed: If you don’t work, you don’t eat. We have plenty of potential labor to provide far more than enough for everybody without demanding full participation.

There are plenty of people who have no desire to be part of the quest for financial wealth, yet give full value to the social net. Raising children is valuable work. Caring for ill and infirm family and neighbors is valuable work. Organizing and participating in volunteer projects addressing community needs is valuable work. Providing education, art, cultural events is valuable work. Yet it is also legitimate to live, enjoy life as best one can, privately, without fanfare or public obligation. Humankind is so much better served by people pouring energy and intent into their passions than people grudgingly performing jobs out of obligation or desperation.

If there is concern about less appetizing but necessary work being done, there are certainly ways to address this:

1) What is unappetizing to some may be interesting or useful in some sense — psychologically or other — to others. This is another advantage of a diverse population, when properly celebrated.
2) Ways can be found to reward, show admiration for, or otherwise make more palatable such tasks.
3) Ways can be found to give over as much as possible of these tasks to technological aid.
4) We can figure out better ways to take care of the needs now served by such tasks.

The best incentive, result and means of moving toward this expanded economic model is the unleashing and uplifting of the great gift of human creativity, along with a generally increased zest for life. It doesn’t have to happen all at once. If we consciously make efforts in this direction, eventually the tipping point will be reached, the more rational paradigm will take hold. As the benefits become evident, that which is best in us will continue to move forward.

Manifesting Destiny #21

Moon in Cancer

Those narrow-minded pro-capital idiots. This must be why I rarely watch tv. Then I think I ought to be more aware of the wider political world, to inform my writing and probably my somewhat political opinions. So I have to be made aware yet again of the incredible stupidity that calls itself practicality. I mean, Mr. Smarty-Pants Business Man, you are not the Crown of Creation. Profit is not the be all/end all measure of worth. Some of us only minimally deal, out of necessity beyond our control, with money as a means to an end. The end is to pay our rent, have a space where we are allowed to operate our lives without being thrown out on the street with no place to keep our stuff or even shower off the muck. We deal peripherally with the world that believes so adamantly in the fiction of finance. Our real lives are about art and family, relationships, philosophy, finding deeper meanings, being absorbed in passions, following dreams to unexpected realities, being, believing, enjoying, getting involved, having lives we value, worth living. There is no need or sanity to hoarding greedy profit, gambling called investing, rating wealth in dollars, playing for the ownership of all the toys or golden parachutes or that other jargon. You somehow feel justified, entitled to rape the world of resources that we all might share, not because you have some marvelous plan to increase everybody’s share and make us all happier, healthier, more empowered, but for your sacred bottom-line, for your profit-based greater glory. So you pay off politicians and wave your power over the people that the meek and hypnotized may fall into place, serving you and blindly buying what you sell, no matter that it takes more than their paltry pay, keeping them tied to your usury. Needless suffering, horrible tragedies squeezed out of what could have been happy lives. You preen and crow, so sure of your superiority. What twisted you so grotesquely? Obviously you have talents, drives, whatever got you to your reign of power. Why wasn’t it enough for you to be happy, content, doing your part, making your mark, without trampling and faking your way to proudly display your place stamping above the heap you designed? I can be arrogant too. I don’t need or believe in you. I have, in being me, all I need. What I value is so much greater, more life sustaining, pleasurable, even more powerful than any amount of currency or IOUs or numbers on an accounting sheet.

Why am I so incensed? Buttons pushed; response aroused. Equilibrium re-established. Lammas celebration this weekend. In community we are strengthened. And we have a whole lot of fun. Let’s see what this Lammas Solar Eclipse brings. Leo rules rulership. Perhaps the emperor will discover he is naked. I am happy to dance under a moonless sky and call forth the light that is the other side of darkness. I like to play that game where there are no toys, only the limitless power of imagination. We all have the power to do what we are. To some extent we have the choice of how far we go, in what direction.

Manifesting Destiny #20

Moon in Taurus

It’s about the grounding, the safe and sacred place to release the charge. Feeling inadequate, out of focus. Yeah, the deadlines get tiring, their continual obligation, too tiring and I send in work not up to the standard I expect. No, no one is calling me on it. We all seem to have entered some summer space of lazy disregard or hyper-giddiness. Lots of our community energy is dissipated on far-flung festivals, self-finding excursions. We who are left behind far from forming a responsible core seem to be melting in the chain of sudden storms, wilting like the grass inundated in rain. I don’t know if it’s part of the global warming thing. It’s sure not any warmer, just wetter than my mental collection of summer memories. I have to get a new pen. This one keeps leaking at critical moments. How am I going to market my angst if I can’t read it?

I talked to Celia, Mom, today. She calls from time to time to check in, keep up to date. I call from time to time when I need to blubber or be cruelly sarcastic about childhood memories that erupt disquietingly, or just because once in a blue moon I feel like a daughter. Today she was the one who wanted to talk about memories. I was feeling squeezed by the deadline for my Lammas piece which was refusing to come together. We talked at cross purposes for a few minutes. Aunt Marie died 17 years ago next month, which means my as yet unmet half-brother is about to be 17 years old. Not an especially commemorative year. I guess he would be going into his senior year of high school, except, as I recall, they were being home-schooled so as not to miss any educational opportunities. Gwen liked to pick up and go en famille on a whim without having authorities or institutional calendars to consult. Danny’s new family (though not so new by now) was only peripherally on Celia’s mind. Mostly she talked about me, asking about what projects I was involved with and intimating that she would like to see me, get together, share some quality time, when it might be convenient. I know, I don’t visit her enough. She really has always been there for me, despite our difficulties. I admit I am at least as difficult as she is. It’s never been a question of love or loyalty. We have very different styles, ways of being, enthusiasms. I don’t blame her anymore for my broken-home upbringing or the glaring differences between our family and those of my neighborhood peers that I suffered for. Yes, I did blame her, unfairly I now see, for a lot of my years. I know better now. I’ve told her so. Still, I manage to avoid spending much time together. It seems better that way. Perhaps, well more like definitely, there are issues we need to work out. Perhaps in the fullness of time we will.

I guess I could start thinking toward arrangements to visit for her birthday in September, Virgo on the cusp of Libra. Well and good, but this decision hasn’t done a thing for this twisted feeling, just short of anxiety. My sure cure — I can go talk to Tom about it and feel safely secured within his protective psychic and physical embrace. That’s what this human thing is about — sharing the little bumps and bruises and irrational moments with someone who gets it and gets me and is happy to be that place of safety and love. Why not be there when we can?

Manifesting Destiny #19

Moon in Capricorn

We stopped at some generic fast food place to get some take-out grease on our way to an afternoon concert in the park. The staff seemed pretty spiffy, alert, working as a well-oiled team, with cute smiles and calm speaking style to deal with the milling clientele. Hobbled old folks, snarling young folks, brawling children, drawn-eyed parents, an imbroglio like some surrealist comedy. Spending so much of my time safely ensconced in my little fringe community, I forget how sad and unempowering daily life in the city usually is. Thank Goddess I’ve never been mainstream or Main Street. Thank the whole blessed pantheon that I’ve been able to frame my lifestyle in my chosen direction, somehow getting the little breaks I need to keep my self-creation moving along in my own idiom. Apparently, most people don’t get those breaks, or don’t recognize them as breaks. They seem so tightly wound and scared, and bristlingly angry. Not everyone, but the general trend. Reading comments on blogs, or hearing bits of conversation on the street, there’s so much blaming, sarcastic digs, caustic platitudes, pointing at the designated scapegoat or anyone daring to disagree. Was the voice of the people always so mean, so closely wrapped, so crab-like stealthily pinch/withdraw/pinch again? Yeah, Cancer (the sign of the Crab, not the ubiquitous disease) rules the commoner, the public or publick, those served by the publick house or politician.

Families like those of the kids at school, giving them the license to torture me for being different, foster these so-called conservative values. I never knew my grandparents, any of them, apart from stories. I didn’t grow up in the wake of those emblematic American homes of the 50s. My dad ditched his military family history to be a ne’er do well songwriter, living pretty much on charisma. My mom rejected her Italian-American working class school teacher family traditions to follow a romantic dream. When she woke up, finding herself a single parent in a different working class neighborhood where she was figuratively spat on for being too much the intellectual elite, she closed off from the people of tradition yet again. The values I assimilated were not those of my grandparents, or even my parents or peers. I kind of made it up as I went along, mostly doing my real living in self-made fantasy. Perhaps that is how writers are formed, the creative sort that tell our visions, not the tell-all gossips or tech texters. Filmmakers, too, and other kinds of creators from the seeds of mental masturbation, are we all creating worlds in which we can feel welcome? What about those who work at those quirky idiosyncratic jobs, finding those precious niche markets in the hidden back alleys of commerce? Meanwhile mainstream commerce stamps out all the perky fast food servers and other barely above bound servant laborers willing to totally be the brand, mold themselves into appropriate hive-worker mentality. All the flag-waving “land of the free” and the patriotic hatred of those who “hate us for our freedom” while those so fervently defended freedoms are carelessly forgotten, even defiled, in the name of everyday practicality, in the name of some commercially designed prescription for survival. Or, in short, selling their souls to The Man for a promised share in the American nightmare. I assure you, me, this is no whine of bitterness from a certified loser. I’m not the loser. I’m the lost child that slipped through the veil into Neverland where life is a never-ending adventure. I never have to grow up into some semblance of tight-wrapped normalcy, however “normal” is being defined and by whom. That was never my role.

Maybe we who have slipped through the veil are like the tribal shamans. Maybe we have a sacred duty to live apart from the life of the norm that we may intervene with the deities, bringing back treasures beyond knowing, invisible to those who refuse to see. Or maybe we just get to ride off and enjoy our adventures, regardless of mainstream rules and desires. Maybe I was incarnated for some divine purpose. More likely, I get to define my mission for myself. Everyday I get to create my life, my art, my self and expression. I thought that was the purpose of freedom, the primal scream of the American dream.

Full-Moon tonight. Hear me howl!

Manifesting Destiny #18

Moon in Virgo

My refuge, my sanctuary.

When Daddy Danny left us, Celia was inconsolable and resolute, the way she can be. In some ways she clung to me as all she had left of love and family. Still, she had, what I now realize, an acute awareness that I had my own issues of abandonment, anger, mixed with fear and loss. She wanted me to have my own space to work it out in, not entangled with her grief.

My mother is at heart a woman of the written word. Her safe haven and playland as a child was in books. In college she had concentrated on literature, with an ambition to teach as a college professor, something her public school teacher parents could view with pride. Even without the laudable career, she lived in a world of literature. To focus her mind and cope with emotional outrage she worked, reworked, never satisfied, on a poem she had started in college. I had been named for that obsession, a poem based on the myth of the Goddess Persephone. She is obviously a strong romantic archetype for Celia. Though, of course, her rational mind would never think of Goddess worship.

When I asked why she was always writing, sometimes sobbing or angry over the closely worded, scratched out and revised in margins, pages, she set her draft aside to answer. She pulled out of the desk drawer a fat spiral notebook and a plastic case of colored pens.

“I know it has become sad and confusing here since your daddy’s been gone. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about your feelings. It can help to write what you feel, even when there’s no one else around you have some place safe to open up and let out what you need to say. Try it.”

Even at 5 I had been reading and writing for as long as I could think about. These skills came naturally for me as walking and talking. Instinct from DNA? I liked fairytales and diverse myths from different cultures which I found in books laying about the house. I liked to write little doggerel verses, simple song lyrics, my mimicking of Danny’s craft. I took the gift, very seriously, and sat among the cushions in a corner of the room, playing at making words with different colors as I saw them in my mind. That notebook and its descendants have been my sanctuary, sounding board, never failing friend and companion. I get to focus the whirling storm of thought and emotion in my mind onto a magical manifestation of words on paper. Look, here, thoughts, feelings, spun out into a metaphoric web into which I safely let go. I soothe, energize, inspire myself with ramblings emerging from subconscious grappling with all the daily influences input into my senses, revelations made visible. Who needs drugs? (I mean other than for socializing or specific biological ends.)

I’m not the practical one. It’s Celia who has that Virgo critical breaking down of information skill to fall back on. I’m just a mass of Sagittarian fire, caught up in my enthusiasms of the moment. This notebook is my continuity, my exoskeletal structure, giving my bits and pieces a place to come together.

Thanks, mom, for this nightlight to watch over my dreams.

Manifesting Destiny #17

Moon in Taurus

These preachy Christians give me a pain. All this warning about the homosexual scourge, I guess a subset of the general sexual scourge plaguing mankind. You’d think we somehow invented biology in defiance of the Lord.

Yeah, Lord, the metaphor that says we are a race of serfs, making our living at the pleasure of the owner of the land. So it’s okay if you are a sorry excuse for a friend or lover or whatever so long as you make the right sacrifices to the protector to whom you owe allegiance. Doesn’t sound like what I’ve heard of Jesus. To my understanding of the story he was a righteous, kewl dude. I don’t remember him ever saying anything about the evil of gayness. He probably was pretty much gay himself, hanging with all those worshipping dudes he picked up along the way and told to forsake their families to come with him, sleeping rough, giving solace to the lonely and sore of heart. Think of the parties with him turning water into wine and blessing the whole occasion. Jesus wasn’t about repression or exclusion. He was about life and love and peaceful coexistence.

You know, it makes sense that those admonitions against gay sex in the Old Testament were in a section about dietary laws. Apart from the obvious joke, those laws were really about health risks. God’s people were being warned against eating creatures seen as unclean. What could be more unclean than sticking a part of your body into the part of another from which excrement flows? Seriously. God was warning his people to have safer sexual practices. So where do his people come off making such a big deal about condoms? I mean they are one of those clever human inventions, a way of compromising so we get to have fun and health. I guess some people are wound so tight that they have to have old, ancient, strictures to hold onto. Sounds like insanity to me. Which is fine. I mean, there’s plenty of insanity of all flavors out there. Mostly we manage. I just prefer not to be ruled by the blatantly insane. I prefer to have the common moral code based in sanity. Even if I give credence to the worship of their God, he didn’t write the Bible. It was guys of the day who I guess could be compared to our journalists, telling the stories as interpreted by their own culture and precepts. Yeah, God would want his people, his hands, his workers upon the Earth, to avoid blatantly unhealthy practices. He would want them to be fruitful and multiply in a time when there was such a high rate of early death, all those battles for the glory of God, and disease. But in those Ten Commandments, the holy law, there is nothing specifically about sex at all. Adultery? That about honoring your sacred bond, your oath of faithfulness taken in marriage. No sex. No drugs. No rock and roll. These are not proscribed in the Commandments. Maybe Christians wouldn’t be so bad if they actually believed in their religion, the part given by their holy spirit, not the clergy politicians.

Part of having a minority faith, you have to really think about what you believe in the face of all those followers of the One True Church, culturally supported, even mandated in a lot of ways. Goddess, give me strength to see the truth, as much as I am able, despite the mass-hypnosis I strive to avoid. It helps to have friends, and lovers, who agree in alternative beliefs. I guess that’s why we have religions rather than everyone practicing their own private, personal spirituality.

Manifesting Destiny #16

Moon in Aquarius

Summer Solstice. The Sun reaching its peak performance. We certainly gave a peak performance at the Goddess Center tonight. Despite all the nervous energy attacking our community lately, or maybe because of it, finally finding an outlet to feel good in release. I, of course, was brilliant, dazzling in my presentation, recitation, expressive movement to elegant improvisational music, as well as my bit parts in ritual incantations. It was a living dream, despite or because of all the sidebar drama.

I love this motley bunch we think of as our pagan artistic community. Creative types, lovable but totally crazy, loudly proclaiming our mutual lovefest when not loudly proclaiming our independent outrages. Everyone needs a special place to come first, to be more noticed, to be catered to and expect nothing but applause for whiny venting or sympathy for yet another crisis. Not to mention, though everyone does, loudly, personal traumas, romantic disconnections, family issues, how can I get my work done when they turned off my electricity or who can afford simple errands with gas going up practically every minute, and on and on. Personally, I haven’t had a car in years and would happily laugh at fuel prices if they didn’t drive up my groceries as well (and then there’s the winter heating costs on par with burning large denomination currency). Don’t let my pecuniary disdain fool you: my prima donna streak is as wide as any. But I am so cool. I’ve learned the fine art of taking advantage of confusion to subtly get my way. And, of course, my way is the best, isn’t it? Never mind. The point being the result was marvelous and an excellent time was enjoyed by all. Nervous energy transformed to kinetic dancing, electric performing, what we humans call “fun.”

Ritual wine and cannabis-laced cakes may have helped in taking the edge off, I’m sure. Ritual, to keep the community whole, healthy, in tune. Ultimately, everyday can be a celebration of being alive. We just seem to find some strange and nasty ways of celebrating a lot of those days. Is war a celebration, homage to the war gods? When we are totally horrid to each other, and ourselves, is that a celebration of the horrors within us? Do the wealthy celebrate their position with human sacrifice? Do people farther down the food-chain celebrate our pretentions to superiority in casting down and condemning those with any differences we can elevate to shame? Yeah, we arty types, we’re selectively insane. Dancing on my inner stage, limbs and neck moving right along, to remembered music, I am in tune with my human contradictions. Dear Goddess, let me dance out all these questions for my dreams to ponder. I mean, without that annoying irritation, no pearl forms. I am a gypsy dancer, casting pearls before the swinish crowd. Dancing in firelight reflecting my visions, days of early dawns, late sunsets, sweaty heat and sudden storms bursting with lightning.

My lover returns from temporary slumber. Soon his hand will remove my pen from mine, taking my hand into his. We will dance together in Summer’s early light.

Manifesting Destiny #15

Moon in Scorpio

It’s like I’m consolidating. I feel myself moving into a deeper version of me. I’m drawn to examine where I’ve come from, who I’ve been, roles I’ve tried out, tried on for fit — consolidating data to make the leap into a more fully informed identity.

I have this body I inherited not from one person or another, but an amalgamation of DNA. Thick, long, abundant red-gold hair that I sensuously enjoy flinging against my skin, a gift from my father and, as Marie told me, gifted to him from sainted mama Louella. She died before my mom and dad ever got together. Had she lived longer and I still been born, no doubt I would have known and loved her as did those of her children I did know and love. Thank you, Grandma Louella, for your luscious red hair and your vivid, creative imagination, your manic energy, your loving gentleness, your brilliant spirit. Then there’s my clear sun-kissed skin from Celia’s Southern Italian ancestors of whom she never speaks. My moss green eyes must be nature’s synthesis of Celia’s green-flecked brown and Danny’s turquoise blue — his compromise of Louella’s green and Robert’s blue. I have the womanly version of Danny’s strong-boned soldier’s build, though not his height. Still, I am taller, generally larger, than small-boned, petite Celia, who undermines the expectations of her small size with her fierce determination. So, I’ve got this hodge-podge of inherited traits to work from. (“From which to work”? Who comes up with these stilted forms, or lesser forms, and their distinction? I am wandering …)

I’ve always been so independently self-defined. But then, I’ve often been doubting my own definitions as against those who disrespect me. There’s a thing about being an artist, or so it seems to me, of constantly being confronted with oneself, doubting and refining values and interpretations. Maybe it is an unhealthy self-obsession. But those stories, songs, poetry, have to come from somewhere. Or not. There does seem to be a glut on the artistic market. Everybody has their creative spark to play with. I certainly don’t want to court the wages of hubris. Yet, to even bother to bring to market my scribblings, my strangely main marketable skill, I have to spend a lot of time in that place in which I know I am brilliant and well worth listening to.

Okay, it’s the muse, the Goddess of Artistic Visions. She tells me what to say. I am but a vessel.

I am a vessel of my ancestors and my muse. I am also a fully functioning human, being and becoming. I’ve got to be expressing my love of adventure, growth, assimilation of experiences, experiences that become me. Looking through the experiences I have come out of, feeling this new to me drive to consolidation. It feels good to touch my core and know I am someone I can count on.

The days are so long now. There’s so much to celebrate.

Solstice next weekend. Thank Goddess, I have turned in my songs and stories. My time is my own for Solstice dreaming. Very soon Tom and I will be dancing and sending out wishes beneath the end of Spring Full Moon.

Manifesting Destiny #14

Moon in Libra

I was an adored child. The grown-ups in my life may have been totally screwed up, but they always loved me unconditionally. Somewhere I always knew that. I mean, I was a total pariah in my neighborhood, but the people who counted knew I was amazing. Imagine my guilt when I kept screwing up, big time. Yes, out of my large-scale self-expressive hubris, I, an inexperienced young woman with big chips on my shoulders, managed to keep showing myself to be a fool. Probably no one was even watching but me. My mom still tells me I’m great whenever we speak.

In a real way, all that bratty messed up behavior is behind me now. I have become someone I created out of the ashes. I have become a woman I can be proud to present to the people who believed in me. They never expected wealth or fame, just that I would do them proud as a strong-minded, independent force upon the Earth. I’m getting there, bit by bit, in my own idiom. I feel the late Spring wind, with hints of Summer’s heat. I keep getting flashes of scenes from my childhood, like trailers from a movie. Maybe I’m working toward some revelation that will put my whole life in perspective. Maybe my stupid, childish belief in my special mission is true, and there is a great piece of art incubating inside me. Maybe I’m psychotic, having delusions of grandeur, incubated in my psyche by too being given too much adulation in my formative years.

I think Celia was sexually abused by her dad. She’s never said anything. All the stories I hear, though, the women I know who have gone through that hellish childhood, the way she is so reserved, secretive, brash in that forced way, gives me that idea. Marie told me about some of the tortures her dad and his older sons laid out for Danny, to toughen him up. The suffering of little children that no one seems to see in this world of Disneyland and video cartoons, it breaks my heart.

Yeah, what happened to my parents was, obviously, a generation ago. It’s still happening today, right now. Parents raise powerless kids unable to connect with the blessings all around us, insisting they put on a happy or appropriately miserable face to fit in and keep the family secrets. I do hear the stories all the time in the women’s groups I attend. Pagan artists are far from immune. Even if I myself wasn’t molested by my nearest and dearest, there were always those pathetic men, young and old, looking at me in that sadly dangerous way wherever I went. These days I discount their presence as a matter of course. There’s a lot to be said for a Darwinian theory of a predator society. There’s a lot more to be said for a magick theory of alternative realities within which we can craft a world in which we can best live. It is important to craft the spell carefully, mindful of the power of the words of incantation. Not too limiting; not too open to evil; not too micro-managed at the expense of spontaneity; it has to be carefully thought through and made just right. In this cosmic sense, I am not working on a deadline. You might say it’s more of a lifeline. I was a damn mystical little kid, and I’ve still got it — that magical world where I am quite at home.

Manifesting Destiny #13

Moon in Gemini

I’ve been thinking about that theory of human life being some kind of ultimate point of the Universe. Divine Design, I guess. God’s will with the “scientific” twist about all these highly improbable coincidences that had to be just right or life wouldn’t have made it. But then, self-evidently, we are here, as well as a plethora of other things and beings. I mean, there’s no logical reason for it to have been other than accidental, the vagaries of eternity and random chance. Not that I believe it all accidental. I have a multi-layered view of reality. On some level an event could well be an accidental meeting of forces. On some level it could be eternally meaningful, part of a work of art or grand legend. On some level it could be imagination, maya, a random thought soon forgotten, a dream, a metaphor. On some level it could be a cosmic joke or a cosmic unraveling of all that is which includes all that could be, all existing at once, but seen spread out, like taking in a panorama.

Sometimes I think I awaken into a subtly changed Universe, maybe a very close parallel dimension, where all those little differences appear like memory glitches or strange miscommunications. Reality is definitely not what it’s made out to be in school and mass media. No, it’s not the drugs. I really don’t do that hardly anymore. When I did, I was way too involved in self-pity to have any conceptualizations of this nature. It is difficult, though, to speak of these concepts in prose. The word/referent link is slippery. Maybe that’s why scientists use math. Is math a kind of poetry, symbolic language to describe concepts not easily manipulated into common parlance?

I never thought about math like that before. The way it was pigeon-holed in school didn’t make sense. Of course numbers are often combined with words as adjectives and functions, often act as metaphors. I think I’m digressing.

Okay, music is based on math, intervals, rhythms, resonances. But is the music I hear in my head mathematical, or pure experience based on intuitive emotive reaction to sound? The language is the map, the human-made interpretation and communicative symbology. The experience is the territory, the reality. I think art is meant to bridge the gap, to be a language of more direct experiencing.

Who else could I talk to like this without sounding so totally out there? Good to have you to converse with, Persephone’s journal. No, that’s not fair. I do have friends who get these conversations about, well I guess metaphysics. Tom and I definitely connect on that level. There is something very basic, a pull, a cord (chord?) between us. Something meant to be? I can say we get each other on a fundamental level, but that is map, not territory. On many levels we complete each other. We can experience other lovers without jealousy or even concern, because what we share, even sexually, is about essence and mutual need for that deep expression, again poetry, music, knowing beyond words.

Maybe it’s just me, too hung up on words, my writer’s world. But then, I do directly experience all the time. Experience, that’s the element of writing, of any art, you can’t fake. You can learn all the tricks, but experience is what provides something meaningful to say. Without that, all you’ve got is language. What use is a map without territory to refer to?

Manifesting Destiny #12

Moon in Aquarius

With Celia it was mostly “Persephone” with the occasional “Seph” when truly informal. Danny and Marie tended to go with “Peri” softly sweet. I was 5 when he left. Marie carried forward the tradition. I was 12 when she left, more permanently. He still called me Peri when we talked by phone, on his very occasional letters, when he came back for that short time to bury his sister, though I was less innocently sweet by then. I was turning bitter. Why not? My world seemed to be in a steady state of crumbling. But I loved for him to call me Peri, when I was his little girl. All I wanted was to be his Peri whom he loved enough to take back with him to his real family in California. I was even willing to be big sister to precious Maya and baby Osiris (Sy). Gwen was eclectic in her deities, in her lifestyle, in all her ways, but staunchly firm against Danny’s previous life intertwining with the life they shared. She was adamant that he cut his ties with Celia, apparently some big loyalty test he had to continually pass. His trip back East for Marie’s funeral must not renew ties to us.

He was not cruel. Far from it, he was completely loving, even apologetic. How could I feel anything but love, and misery in knowing that he would soon be gone again? And contempt for Celia, how could I feel anything but? What is it about kids? We would do anything for a loving glance from the rejecting parent, while spitting in the face of the parent who is always there. Such contrary creatures.

I love it when Tom calls me “Purr” “Purrsephone” though I am way too clumsy to be catlike. With him, I do purr with contentment.

I won’t abide “Percy.” Friends will generally put up with the whole mouthful, but will often fall into the easier “Seph” as Celia did, or even “Peri.” I am not exclusive about these names. They are only attention-getting sounds. I was (secretly) bothered back in school when the popular kids and hangers-on dubbed me “Phoney.” I think they thought they were clever. Names. Symbols that attach to us, as if some kind of definition. Mostly we are so accustomed to this designation of sound and letters by the time we have any coherent awareness, we simply accept that this is who we are. At least I didn’t have the cognitive dissonance of responding to my name in the midst of other children designated by the same vowels and consonants. At least as a child, I got to feel that my unique name might be tied to a marvelous destiny. I had only a vague idea of the myth, then, that I had been named for. I didn’t think about my ancient namesake, torn between two worlds. All I knew was that I was named for a goddess. I wonder what her friends called her. Did her husband, God of the Underworld, call her “Purr”? Did she feel content in his realm? This is what we writers do. We wonder about things that never were, and spin out tales from our wondering. I mean, why should what is called “reality” be seen as more truthful than fiction? So much of our reality is made up, stories we tell ourselves or everybody knows. Names that are imposed when we are too young to understand that it is only a name, a word, a metaphor for who we really are. Still, our names are certainly more colorful and meaningful than some random alphanumeric designation.

Manifesting Destiny #11

Moon in Libra

I may not have a lot, talking about material things, and more concretely, the symbol behind all that stuff, money, and the fantasy of all that stuff money can be exchanged for. When I say I don’t have a lot, that is only in comparison to some American dream, or even many people I know and interact with. But, I could as easily compare my store of possessions to the truly poor, and see myself quite wealthy. That’s the point. I am. Quite wealthy on my own terms — with everything I value. I know I complain horribly because I can’t afford some terribly important toy. But, hey, they say Danes love to complain, yet keep testing out as the happiest people on Earth. And why are the Danes so happy? Because they like what they get. They don’t need wealth in terms of breakable toys and up to date impressing accoutrements of ostentation. They are happy to have fulfilling jobs and lots of time to play and enjoy with loved ones. Me too. I could be Danish! Well, a Dane of Irish/Italian extraction born in the USA. But my point is that I don’t even have time to be buying the latest gadget and fashion or keeping up with high consumption rates (and wasn’t consumption some romantic disease a couple of centuries back?). I’m way too busy having fun, expressing my lovely creativity, and lovelier sexuality (hee hee). If sex sells second-degree products, I’m obviously ahead of the game, going directly to the first degree real experience. Is that what the “make love, not war” people were about?

Walking my hero’s journey
to the music of my soul
Dancing, in tune with my Universe
Millions of sparkling diamonds
light my cotillion

Manifesting Destiny #10

Moon in Leo

Marie and Danny were sibling outcasts, she would explain, not complaining, more like bragging. Colonel Robert Aidan “Sir,” their soldier dad would taunt them as “Louella’s girls.” He was probably surprised that Danny didn’t end up gay. He never paid enough attention to realize that Marie was. “I don’t think he knew that girls could be other than Mothers or Whores, dutiful wives or dependent daughters, defined by the men who commanded them.” She would say it with a look of reverie, not bitterness. She never cared enough about Old Robert to resent his dismissal of her. By the time he came back from the War, she was an opinionated, intellectually pampered 5 year old, already sure of her self-determination. She refused to go, a year or so later, when Colonel Aidan was deployed to a base in another state. Her doting maternal grandparents agreed that she was happy at the private school they paid for near their home, that she would be best for now staying with them while Bobby and Louella settled in to their new home.

With Bobby, Jr. already baking in Louella’s oven, Bob, Sr. was glad enough not to be embroiled with a recalcitrant 6 year old. It wasn’t until 3 years later, with Bobby, Jr. and little Stevie underfoot that Bob, Sr. insisted his daughter join the family to help her mother with the boys.

Marie felt nothing but resentment toward her father and younger brothers. They were all obnoxious brats as far as she could tell, not because they were boys but because they were not much classier than classic rednecks. But then, a year or so later when Danny was born, she immediately felt an intense connection with him. She was instantly, totally, irrevocably in love with this youngest brother who embodied all the best qualities of their wild, crazy, by now desperately unhappily trapped mom, plus even more endearing qualities of his own. He was a beautiful, imaginative dream of a child, she would say so fondly. I knew what she meant. When I knew him, though ostensibly I was the child, he was right there with me. Everybody loves Danny. Except, of course, his dad and brothers, because to them he did not embody the proper archetype of man, or boy. Men aren’t gentle. They don’t care passionately about ideals or art or beauty. Men are strong and fierce, tricky against opponents, which includes everyone. Men don’t trust, certainly not women, rarely other men. Maybe, if they’ve gone through combat together. “Louella would swear her Bobby had been different when they were young and so in love.” Marie would try to explain what she could not understand. It was all unreal to me, stories I loved to be told. I loved feeling safe and adored, being schooled in my heritage by my marvelous, mystical aunt who had done so much, been so many places, known so many kinds of living unheard of by my schoolmates and their families, those I thought of as the real world.

Aunt Marie’s stories, like my mom’s, were about other worlds, far from what I could expect here and now. They told me stories so fantastic, to them merely history, and I felt my world expand into unknown possibilities. Now I tell my stories — real, fantasized, some combination, and feel in touch with my matriarchal core, my lifeline, maybe a call from destiny. Yeah, typical psychotic megalomania. Hey, if paranoids can have enemies, megalomaniacs can have great destinies, or at least great fantasies. I am loved, lovable, in love, so fantasies can be true.

My dad, Danny, for all his faults, is so much better a man than his dad, Robert, for all his self-absorbed glory. Aunt Marie, sparkling gem among the living when she was with us, if I ever attain honor as an artist, that honor belongs to you.

Morning birds are singing. Sunday morning. I’ve nowhere I need to be. Or, maybe I need to be walking in the Spring dawn, sharing my secrets with the birds.

Manifesting Destiny #9

Moon in Taurus

I’m not my mother’s daughter, nor my father’s for that matter. Growing up I was closest to my free-spirit Aunt Marie, who encouraged my wild ways and love of fantasy. Her dying, when I was 12, ended my idyllic childhood. Celia and I were thrust upon each other without a buffer, while grieving over losing Danny all over again.

He popped in for his sister’s funeral, leaving wife and kids in California. New kid #2 had just popped out, and Gwen was in no position or desire to travel cross country, despite her long friendship with Marie and Helen, Marie’s wife of decades. Dead is dead, after all. Marie and Gwen wouldn’t be doing any catching up. Helen was pouring her grief into packing up, selling the farm, getting ready to start her new life as a widow abroad. Gwen also had reason not to want to tangle with Celia or me.

Dad was here, but overwrought dealing directly with Marie’s passing. She was the only part of his natal family that he still adhered to. She had been his best friend and savior through good and bad parts of his life. He had been still in contact by telephone and occasional long, rambling drunken letter, even the occasional get together on neutral ground. Marie, though she did not think of Celia as a friend did think of her as family. I was practically a daughter to her. Though she and Gwen had been friendly, Marie never approved of her taking Danny from us. Gwen had insisted when she and Danny married that he have no further contact with Celia, though she knew better than to include contact with me in that edict. I, like Marie, got the occasional letter and telephone conversation, but only at Marie’s farm. As I spent most of my time there after school while Celia was at work and on school breaks, that was not difficult to manage.

While Danny was here, he was genuinely happy to see us. Celia was somehow wise enough to enjoy his company for this brief time rather than poison it with spite and remorse. I hoped beyond any rationality that he would stay, or take me with him when he left. Gwen would never have gone for it. Though she prided herself on her open mind in most cases, she was frankly intolerant of Celia and, by extension, me. With the law, lush lifestyle, and two youngsters, one a newborn son, on her side, I didn’t stand a chance. That didn’t stop me from hoping, being bitterly disappointed, blaming Celia most viciously, brooding for years. Well, maybe I am my mom’s daughter a bit. She was my most prevalent role model. It was a stormy life, and I became well practiced at asserting my independence.

The first time Danny left, when I was five, almost six, Celia gave me a notebook and a box of colored pens. She said it would help me to write my feelings when I couldn’t speak them. A writer was born and made from that childhood trauma. Storms and silver linings.

I like my little room. My space, reflecting my taste and lifestyle, where I can land and recharge. I like that I know I can land on my feet wherever I find myself, in the absurd twists and turns. I like being able to see it all as stories, mythical breadcrumbs along a path from there to here and onward, along some Yellow Brick Road. Where are my brave, wise and caring companions? Don’t get me wrong — I love my friends and am totally blown away by the many wonders of my lover. Still, ultimately, I always seem to be traveling this road on my own. I guess that means I get to make my own terms. Brave, wise, caring, sounds like me. Maybe we get to be the people we hope to find, if we’re open to finding us within. No, that’s not schizophrenia. It’s brave, wise, caring, reflective. Dad was a troubadour. Mom was a melancholy yet practical romantic. Threads weaving into stories decorate my inner room that I carry with me.

Manifesting Destiny #8

Moon in Aquarius

I’m not one of those neurotic women who turn off on sex because of bad relationships. I don’t blame the sex, but the situations, stupid expectations, as if mere humans could become fairytale princes or any more than just what they are. Casual sex is cool, as long as everyone knows what they are agreeing to. I never got that thing about lying to get her into bed. I mean, don’t you expect there to be a morning after, and all the time after that, to deal with repercussions that never need be set in motion?

People make too big a deal about sex — I know, you have to be careful of deadly STDs and starting new lives you are unprepared to deal with, but those are issues we clever humans have found effective ways to cover. The problem isn’t the physical intimacy, but the lying and consequent bad karma. What’s the point of subverting a natural desire because some twisted social code calls it ugly or unmentionable? Then, we mention it all the time, in crude language and cruder physical offenses. Like violently stealing food because it’s impolite to ask.

Don’t ask me. I’m just figuring this stuff out as it comes to me. With Tom, it seems like, for the first time in my experience of relationships, we really get each other, communicate. We’re not each involved in a personal fantasy, but actively honest, aware, in the moment. It takes all the stress out, lets us be about mutual enjoyment of our differences. We are constantly new to each other, and ourselves. What a treat! I like being me, unencumbered. I like feeling part of a partnership. Maybe we humans are wired for that. Is it all about children having such a long period of dependency? Or is it because we need to see a mirror to become ourselves? There is the mirror of my art, but a human one is satisfying in more visceral ways.

Oh dear, I could feel the implied smiley face there, and I hate emoticons. Yeah, just an old-fashioned girl.

Dawn is finding me much too soon, considering I am still awake. I like the quiet of the transition time, between last night and today. It’s magical. But then, isn’t everything, really? Claim the magic! Breathe it in. Breathe it out infused with all I desire. Breathe, with each breath more and more fulfillment. Blow out the candle and dream.

Manifesting Destiny #7

Moon in Scorpio

Tom’s off on schmooze business. We are enjoying each other, not enmeshed. I have my own business and pursuits to attend to. Later. Now I can ensconce myself in my private little space, cozied up in my pillows and bedclothes — I always like that image. I’ve been scifi fantasizing on this race, I guess it would be, of bio-engineered empaths, weapons of a future war, released to assimilate with the common (wo)man. Of course, assimilation doesn’t go all that well. I mean, they’ve got scary advantages. Who could trust them? Who knows when they look at us what they see, how they mock us, or take us unaware or plot against us? The empaths, being empaths, sadly understand. They don’t want to be enemies. They fought a gruesome war in which they were given no choice or will. They fought, then, for their freedom. They don’t want to fight anymore. They want to live in peace and enjoy their families, raise their kids, work at their professions, have brunches, make love, relax when they get a chance. They are sensitive to their neighbors’ fears. They do their best to be pleasant, kind, unassuming. Of course, as in any group, there are obnoxious individuals. Results are uneven. Friendships sometimes are forged. But it’s mostly pretty grim, stressful, eroding. Fortunately, we are in the grand space-faring future. Colonizing ships go out on some basis of regularity. Okay, I’ll have to figure out all that logistic stuff, what kind of business would this colonizing be? What would be needed to equip these ships, to find appropriate planets, to organize these journeys and the new societies on the other end? Think Mayflower 1600s? It would be much simpler if there were no natives to destroy. Colonize planets human friendly but at a lower evolutionary level. Better make that pre-large ambulatory predators. And what about microbial infectors? We can bring seeds and embryos on the ship to give the new planet that old Earth flavor. I guess the passenger list will need to be balanced in specific skill sets determined to be necessary to start the new civilization. Maybe people who plan on being colonists will have skill schools available to improve their chances of getting a ticket on a ship. I guess the mainstream Earth folks would be happy to move their problematic neighbors off planet. They would probably encourage the empaths to explore space, not make it difficult for them to emigrate. How would that work out shipboard, with the mixed passenger components? Or would they be in suspended animation for the voyage? How long a voyage? These questions must have been addressed if not in scientific speculation in science fiction. I could do some preliminary research. The idea of it seems like fun, building up my own world.

See why I like being a writer, even if the pay and perks are lousy. It’s like that computer ad asking where I want to go today, to be anyone, anywhere to the limits of my imagination. Even better than acting, because I get total artistic control — at least until I get to the point of considering a market. Thus capitalism does make cowards of us all. Or, maybe for truly magical visionaries finding our sacred path aligns with the public’s fickle enthusiasms will manifest. Why not? If I agree that reality is what I agree to, why not align it with my own best interests?

This moving on the energy of romance is quite a high, so fine! Can’t wait to sleep and enjoy my brilliant dreams, of Tom and me and sweet surreal adventure. Don’t you just love Spring … Persephone in the sunlight, even at this late hour. Sweet dreaming.

Manifesting Destiny #6

Moon in Cancer

We were picking flowers. “Oh, I’m sure you’ll want some narcissus.” “Of course, you’ll be wanting black roses.” “No, it’s a festive occasion. Just make sure to have red roses, white orchids and blue irises so no one can doubt our pagan patriotism.”

A casual planning committee for the Equinox/Full Moon celebration to kick off the Goddess Center’s New Year, we partied as we planned. The Cave, our coffeehouse/night club planning center, of course does not belong to us. We just appropriate our usual corner table for the price of a girls night out worth of drinks and bar food. It helps our illusion, however, that several of our friends are on the wait staff, and some of us occasionally get to perform and keep the proceeds of our tip bowl.

I had noticed him from afar from time to time here. He was some kind of music promoter, I had heard. He was sex appeal personified, so why not stare and dream a lovely naughty scenario? He stood at fairly medium height, but seemed taller. His blonde hair and anglo complexion did not take a bit from his dark mysterious vibe. His brilliant blue eyes were bound to hypnotize any who dared to hold their gaze. Like me, now, as he clearly walks directly to my side. Not a fantasy, here he is standing beside our table, making sweeping, smoothly smiling introduction to me.

My heart has orgasms looking into those piercing blue eyes. “Thomas James River,” reaching to take my undrink laden hand, “requests the pleasure of a dance with Lady Persephone.” Lifting me to my feet and swirling us onto the dance floor in front of the band, kind of alternative fusion world jazz, just right for a dream come true, he dances into my heart. The night opens to us, closes us in to a private magic, goes on eternally. I never have to leave this night, this man, this exquisite ecstatic awakening.

Manifesting Destiny #5

Moon in Pisces

I know she loved him. He loved her above all his loves. Star-crossed lovers? Certainly destiny-crossed. He was gorgeous, charming, smart, clever, talented, creative, fun. He had not a lick of ambition nor any of that drive it takes to do or say other than what naturally occurs. Yeah, I come by that embarrassing outspokenness by heredity.

In the end, she couldn’t break her programming to be the responsible adult, so unlike his beloved loony Mama. He loved Celia for who she was, but he couldn’t live with that person she was becoming. She loved him more than she felt she had any right to. She didn’t want to nag or bristle or feel the resentment she knew he did not deserve. How is it that we are made to want a life that isn’t one we are made for? We love so overwhelmingly people to whom we are so fundamentally unsuited. Or is it that deep philosophical cop-out about relationships being mirrors to show us our disfigurements and rough edges? What have I learned, or was I meant to learn, from my battle scars on the field of romance?

I love Celia and Danny, Mom and Dad, though in different ways. Love was never enough to keep us together forever. Though, I suppose in a way it has. Here I am feeling that love, despite distance. They had years together. Years! Time enough to fill the years apart with memories and that familiar feeling of “yes, that person.” Or is that feeling embedded at meeting the person who means all that to you?

It must be the impending Spring. Yet we know the young heart always fancies love. Most likely the old heart as well. Love and work and some sense of being special. The rest is just ephemeral whims of fashion. Look at me, pontificating.

I, Pope Persephone, declare humanity to be hopelessly entangled in romance and pride. I must be special! How else reconcile the accident of my birth? And, being special, I must have special eyes in which to witness mine, shining in reflection. I do so love to shine in reflection. To dance out onto the floor, seeing the light of love in his eyes for me.

I am my own destiny. I don’t need to follow any script. I’m certainly not Celia or Danny. I have cleverness, talent, and ambition to spare. I have no expectation of being caretaker or cared for. I like it out on the edge but am willing to do my bit for happiness and love. Hey, I’ve got nothing to prove. At least not to me. Done that one to death. Burned it out with Phoenix Fire. In this stage, I will learn to merge with love, not a star-crossed square, but a Goddess blessed conjunction. The energies of two burning as one. I do so love the flame.

Candles, for concentrating a spell of incantation and full-heart intent, I open my heart into flame. Goddess, I know you know exactly what I need and when. I feel my own turning into your flame, consumed yet made more real, glorified. I feel the love you express into me, abiding flame. I feel my freedom and my need to entwine, to express my love, my life, my outreaching to that very one who calls to my heart. I am burning my answer into the candle flame. I am yours, Goddess. Unite us, my true love and me, to dance within your flame.

Manifesting Destiny #4

Moon in Aquarius

He’s a beautiful man, my father. Tall, long red hair with highlights of glinting gold, smiling turquoise-blue eyes, impish grin, large and jovial in manner, the light of the party, lovable waif to women and children, fine fellow to his fellow man. His leaving marked and defined our lives, my mom’s and mine. His absence was always there, between us.

I still love my dad, though I feel abandoned. I remember him always singing bits of silliness, though sometimes his songs were long lovely tales of romance and sorrow and adventure. He taught my imagination. He made me feel very special for being marvelous me. Sometimes I think he gave me all his gifts, all he had, then moved on to become someone new. I’ve never met my half-brother and half-sister. I don’t know what he found to give to them. They are only a few thousands of miles away. I have never thought about it as a real possibility to travel that distance. He gave me what he had to give. What I knew of him is here, in me.

I can love him, even imagine who he might now be. My mom can only cling to what he was. He was her shining star, her hope and salvation, her one true love. Though she does qualify that last truth by embracing me, her secondary hope and salvation. I was always what she had left of him. It made me important, special, precious.

It’s not that I’m spoiled, certainly not in any material sense. I have a lot of confidence, pride in my own originality. But emotionally, relationships? It gets complicated. I expect to be treasured, abandoned, ill-used. I tell everyone I like to be free, and I do. I wonder, though, if loneliness can kill in some personal sense. Is art enough to keep the fires burning, the juices flowing, the consciousness curiously seeking and alive?

I read somewhere that Sigmund Freud believed a well-lived life was based on love and work. Love who you’re with and what you’re doing, and it all makes sense, I guess. If god is love and Goddess is a sexy bitch, and the band plays on and on behind the dance of eternity, have I got an equation I can count on, like random jumping sheep?

Meanwhile, I’ve got plans to make, promises to keep, and rent to earn. Not so special, after all. Mom always understood responsibility. She wanted more for me, because I was Danny’s spawn. But together, they made a whole responsible, playful, loving, learning, curious, fearful, happy, sad, angry, hopeful, messy self-organizing human being. And here I am, indulging in being me.

Lovely, aren’t I, Mirror, Mirror? I’ve got actual paying work to write; and I’m indulging in this drivel. Oh yes, Danny and Celia, welcome to what your synthesis has thus far become. Okay, I’m ready to clear the mental deck and get to work on that article and ceremony — the renewal of Spring.

Manifesting Destiny #3

Moon in Sagittarius

Zip Zoom My life’s been going at warp speed, and I’m so jazzed. I’ve been getting together with this group of local artists, “underground artists” as we call ourselves, to brainstorm events for promoting our own stuff, yeah, but also to promote a community consciousness. My people are those with whom I share my passions and join to interact our roles. It’s all about networking, weaving in and out of proposals and projects, learning who can be counted on for what. Integrity, being as proclaimed, may be the true coin of the realm of collegial artists.

A strong core of us are self-identified pagan women, Goddess worshippers, who have come together because of the Goddess Center, a kind of gathering hub storefront for worship, community, and collaborative projects. There’s a library, a kitchen for witchery and sharing food, some smaller rooms for workshops and crafts, and a wonderful performance space and art gallery for public and private celebrations through art. Our Goddess is a co-creative deity. She revels in our beauty as we make not sacrifice but a joyous sharing of her glory.

Magic means moving my reality into congruence with the reality I am intending to effect, reprogramming my operating system to interface with infinite probability between will and destiny. Who I have been is prologue to the story I am creating as my life.

It feels weird to think about my old memory tapes from this wider perspective. I look back on someone who was alot like me, what she did, how she coped or didn’t. When I was a snotty pagan-goth rebellious high school brat my mom was constantly harping on my great career as a creative writer/literature professor. She insisted that a liberal modern college would not be like what I thought of as evil soul-murdering school. I wanted my life straight up, no chaser, to feel the burn. What I thought I owed to my literary career were intense, vibrant real life experiences. I found or founded my own school of hard knocks. Mostly what I learned was that I didn’t have a clue about basic life management.

After I had seemed to recover from the aftermath of my real life experiences with Mark, my psycho lover-artist mentor, my mom, with whom I was gratefully staying, suggested I at least check out some community college courses. Getting out of the house, away from my explosive self-dramatizations, into some kind of structured environment, began to seem like a good idea. I even managed to get some credits, and maybe a bit of education, before falling into the dream of nonstop drugging with Brent, my drug queen real life experience mentor. Thus I explored a new lifestyle, devoid of all creative or productive behavior more strenuous than giving my mind over to those lovely visions or even lovelier stupor, to forget about reality and think myself free. When the intolerability of it all sent me again from mom’s safe haven, not into another disastrous fling, but on my own into the big, bad world, I was not highly career enabled.

Now that I am finally nurturing a fledgling career, perhaps I would be better spending my energy and time on actual assigned work. I can enjoy these forays down my lore of memories anytime now, can’t I?

I ran into Dave tonight on the street after my evening meeting at the Goddess Center. He was an old friend from when I was on the streets in a new (to me) city. These days he’s talking full of himself. He has found his talent as a gay hustler, bringing himself into a wanton segment of high society, on the arm of, so to speak. He had no time for anything I might bring to the conversation. After praising himself and primping he was off, no doubt to greater conquests. I did manage to raise myself above street poverty, no matter how meagerly, through my own talents. Who am I to complain, or judge his methods?

Manifesting Destiny #2

Moon in Scorpio

I did my private ritual secret ceremony just like the old sorcerers, and went promptly to sleep to find oracles in my dreams. My dreams were as dense and senseless as ever. Pretty images, some spectacular action scenes, but no obvious omens. Yet another example of how I never seem to be able to behave as expected.

A small indication of possible success, however, over these next few weeks I notice more invitations and opportunities opening to paying gigs. Low-paying for sure, but better than heretofore. I seem to be getting more popularity on the public reading circuit for a take of the door, and more articles accepted to paying publications. Certainly no great fame and fortune beating down my door, but I am beginning to feel a bit more like a respected professional. This is of course a wonderful antidote to despondent self-loathing.

Slowly, but steadily, my life seems to be going my way. I just found out that Jeff is moving in with his new bf (That was fast! I guess he doesn’t want to give him a chance to get away.). Great timing for me, as I’m just getting to the point of bringing in enough to afford his, about to be my, own private room. So, why do I feel so pent-up frustrated, so angry? Grrr!

I need to get out and take a walk in the twilight, mix it up with the darkening sky, where I can watch my thoughts reverberate with the cosmic sphere.

Such a cool, calm, clear evening it appears out here. Perhaps it is clear enough to find that omen I’ve been searching for. I’m feeling change is imminent, not just these piddling cosmetic ripples moving through my life. Why am I so angry? What am I supposed to do with this building roar of energy demanding expression?

Maybe it’s a defense against sadness, the sadness of being alone? Why should I feel sad about that when I have the marvelous adaptability and imagination of me? Then, why am I angry? It’s an angry world. I am angry to be forced into being a part of it when all I want is beautiful fantasy. I am angry with the stupidity that responds with derision to my cries for peace, reason, compassion, even joy. I am angry that I am a fool who doesn’t know what do say, how to say it, how to make something real and beautiful and well understood fall magically into place.

I look into the eyes of my anger and see my failure to communicate. I don’t know what to say to capture that energy and turn it into practical creativity moving at the pace of challenge and change. Or maybe I am just lonely, turning my face from the cruelty of the world back on to my own.

My Mom named me Persephone. I guess it was some romantic notion. Mom’s a bit of a dreamer. She had a classical education and lofty ideals; but now she makes her living at a secure middle-management job, tending the government’s bureaucracy.

Dad’s a dreamer, too. He dreamed himself into another family in another state. We haven’t heard from him in years. We’re just a typical American broken nucleus family, unconnected. I like the stories in my head about when I was little. They aren’t me.

I like to discover myself by surprise, when I’m writing or in conversation. I am delighted by my own spontaneity, then go over it very carefully for clues about myself. I understand this may be significant of insanity. Yet, I’m so damned harmless it really doesn’t matter if I think I’m cool, deep, mysterious.

Tonight, after the reading, I got that tired complaint about my “pretentious witch name.” If I did give myself a witch name, it would be much more provocative. Maybe Phoenixfire. Everyone admires the reborn bird, but what about the purifying flame that gives birth to the resurrection?

Who was Persephone anyway? She was defined by her relationships. Her mother’s daughter, her husband’s wife, the original victim, what was she thinking? Not me! I certainly hope I’m not defined by anyone but me. Relationships have been huge disasters mostly. Curled up on my bed with the soft down quilt, pouring my confusion onto the writing page, the steady flow of words makes it seem so much safer, saner, bearable.

I’ve been thinking about it again, that whole sad, sick story. The events that torpedoed life as I knew it, no matter how far I think I’ve gotten, haunt me. It’s like a horror show I can’t turn away from. I don’t want to talk about it, write about it, think about it. Years should make it hazy, pastelled.

Of course he was married. Of course his wife didn’t understand him, was mean and vindictive, kept him away from his kids. Of course I was his marvelous creative, sexy, wise beyond my years muse, the only one who could truly understand him. He was a crazy, loud, moody, brilliant artist. I was so lucky to have found this beautiful creature to love. I was so lucky that for some impossible reason he loved me. I was way out of my league, a silly love-struck romantic teen. Obviously I deserved it when I got to be too much and he turned on me, beat me, threw my belongings to break against the walls and floor, threw me onto the bed for raw sadistically painful “unconventional” sex. It was because he loved me, but was so tortured in his artist’s soul. He was so sorry, so painfully sad, when he saw that he had hurt me, and swore: “Never again!” I believed him every time. I believed in our true destined love. I was loyal. I was his totally. I would do anything he needed, be anything he needed, for his art, for his divine transformation, for his love. All so very dramatic, what I needed to feed my rebellious fantasies about the wonderment of my life and love and exceptional place in this crazy world.

Then there was the baby thing. His evil wife would not allow him access to his children, his greatest creations. I must have his child, his son, his heir, to replace them, to be better than they ever had a chance at being with such a shrewish convention-bound mother. Our child would be a perfect reflection of our specialness, our love, our grand romance. It never occurred to me that it could be any other way.

The baby didn’t live. The doctors said something about a genetic disorder. He had a bad heart. He didn’t stay around long enough for them to even try to save him. My perfect, special lover wouldn’t even look at me. He did rant a good long list of curses and let me know my grave short-comings in excruciating detail before hightailing it back to try to work things out with his wife. When she wouldn’t have him back, he eventually kidnapped their kids. Then he had them watch him blow out his brains in his Mom’s kitchen while the house was surrounded by cops.

I found out about most of that third-hand from the papers. I wasn’t seeing visitors, but my Mom wanted to be sure that I knew what I was lucky to have escaped.

My next boyfriend was a drug addict. He wasn’t addicted to any particular drug, but to the necessity of staying as high as possible at all times on whatever was going around. He would make these grandiose plans, map out fabulous strategies for jumping onto the road to easy street. I was no blushing bystander in all this. Staying loaded was just fine to me; and getting caught up in his fantasies beat facing what I had done with mine. Fortunately, he rarely had the coordination necessary to get beyond wild-eyed, logorrheic planning. When he did, fortunately I was otherwise engaged and didn’t end up with a long prison stretch.

It didn’t take long for the prison visits to pall as entertainment. My drug intake had gone way down, and I no longer understood his charm. I did understand that it would probably be better for me to get far away from all the damage my exes had done, and especially from those in this fairly small community that they had done it to. I had never been very popular, but what good will I had had taken a severe nosedive. Thus did I discover the joys and easy anonymity of urban life.

Barely 24
I found myself out the door
riding a bus into another state
hoping to keep that date with destiny
wondering just what that might be

Something Sacred metafiction continues

Manifesting Destiny: Pages from Persephone’s Notebook

Warm candleglow through the cold windowpane. I imagine gentle happy family life within. Out here, in the dark and vision blurring mist, I feel the sadness, in my throat, welling up in my eyes, softening my heartbeat into tiny bleats of pathos. I am walking without purpose, or with the purpose of walking, movement, letting the evening take me where it will. It is our sadness, more than anger, more than fear, more than love, that bonds us in that chain of humanity. Swimming through our tears, feeling the dense saltiness upon our skin, upon our differentiating shields, we are creatures more profound, more sensitively layered, than in other guises.

Sad songs surprising us on the radio, or played incessantly on the jukebox or cd or other technology, the strains grab us by our groins and vital organs. Sad movies make me tear up and want to hide, or hug someone very dearly, very closely, denying any space between. There is bravery in sadness truly engaged. Essential lessons unwind into wisdom through the loving eyes of sadness. Crying out the pain can reveal beneath a wild wind tunnel of new energy generation. I will sing my sadness to the wind and rain and mist; I will cry it onto dusty deserts and rocky plains. I will wash in mighty oceans of all the sadness of the world.

Tonight I will slowly walk the dark and misty streets, peering into warmly glowing households, dreaming so clearly all the faces of sadness I have ever seen or imagined. I will imagine the beauty of gentle happy people, unaware of my presence outside their sphere. I will take a moment to taste the salt of my tears, which barely increase the misty moisture upon my face. I will laugh, silently, with true mirth, at my sobriety, and continue walking, wherever this evening leads.

Of course I wound up walking home, as I knew I would. No mood can sustain me for long. Besides, the mist was gradually developing into rain; and I didn’t want to deal with all the maudlin wetness. I didn’t want to deal with the eternal roommate dramas either. Hard to avoid them since my bunk is the fold-out living room couch. Yeah, yeah, I need to get a better job and find a room of my own. Don’t let them fool you, kiddies, writing is not a ticket to fame and fortune. (My musician roomies would tell you the same of their own folly; but they get to be louder.) Mostly I live in this notebook. No, not a computer, the old-fashioned bound paper variety, with a ballpoint pen stuck into the spiral binding.

They were watching some interminable awful movie with a lot of loud explosions and no discernable plot, so I went into the kitchen “to write.” Actually, to drink watery cocoa and dream about my options.

“I particularly like the one about working as a foreign correspondent under incredibly sexy circumstances,” poked in my nosy roommate Jeff, the sax player. “The gay sax-player who is apparently not sexy, not having been laid in months — I’m telling them all about you, Jeff!” Reading over my shoulder instead of watching that obnoxious crap he’d left blaring on the tv in what passes for my bedroom; I get no respect.

My own favorite dream option is learning enough real magic to pull in real high-paying gigs that would allow me to express my inner passions with integrity while allowing a serious upgrade in my lifestyle. I mean, I’ve always been a witch, ask my old nemeses from high school. Why not use my embarrassing weirdness to my advantage? Writing for so-called movement rags may be romantic, but comes up oh so low on the pay-scale. It would take real magic to fit my talents to a wage I could really live on. I’ve tried all that acting as if and affirmation crap. All I got was some weirdo boyfriends (I’d rather not talk about it.) that I somehow convinced myself were manifestations or destiny or — I’d really rather not talk about it!

What I do want to talk about, think about, find the key to, is that real, manifesting as bankable currency without sacrificing my soul, magical spell. Magic as in what I need is a miracle, Goddesses. I admit my total incompetence to run my life in any way that does not result in disaster. Please, prove to me that you ethereal powerful ones exist, and show me the friggin’, frackin’ expletive exalted way!

Maybe I need to concentrate on a specific Goddess. Juno was the Queen in the Roman pantheon, but she seems kind of forbidding and self-serving. Besides, I was born in early December, and she probably wouldn’t want to bestow her largesse on one of Jupiter’s daughters. Maybe Athena, such a daddy’s girl, and well-disposed to the arts and wisdom. Then there’s Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of creativity. Surely she would be sympathetic to my plight. Or why not send out a broadcast prayer to all the Goddesses who have an interest in promoting practitioners of communicative creativity? I like that image, a consortium of creativity Goddesses taking grant requests from supplicants such as I.

Oh good! The movie’s over and everyone’s gone to bed. Maybe I should work out a prayer, spell, grant proposal, the specific details of what I want bestowed? I could figure out a ceremony. I know I’ve got some candles, incense, tarot cards. What would be the card to concentrate on? There’s no reason why this shouldn’t work better than what I’ve been doing.

Acts of Desolation #13

#13
 
 
Our struggle is becoming immortalized in mainstream discussions of what history will find salient in the late 21st Century, Common Era, along with advancing space mining and explorations and our developing global/local system of self-governance.  We have opened eyes to a greater need for vigilance in securing our common goals of liberty.
 
The mercs are defeated.  Those who survived are rounded up and put into rehabilitation camps much different from those they had envisioned for their prisoners.  Torture and acts of cruelty against prisoners are strictly prohibited.  Heavy physical labor and psychiatric rehabilitation techniques, including mind-altering drugs and public confessions, are now their just reward.  They are secured for the rest of their lives in maximum confinement, without possibility of escape.
 
The rebels are honored as heroes everywhere.  We are given full citizenship as quickly as the workings of bureaucracy can manage it.   Even Reag, proudly, admits we are far from abominations.  Having at last arrived on the other side, welcomed into our diverse human family, we are proud to be part of these exciting times.  We are discovering uses for our hard won strengths in the greater human community.  Still, most of us find we prefer to settle in low-density population areas, where the incidence of psychic impressions is easier to manage.
 
Several of us are building a kind of mini-compound out here in a fairly secluded mountainous area.  We are very happy to be free, living a relatively quiet life.  We even forgive Calinda and Reag for being insufferably proud expectant parents.  Little Freedom, as we are already calling her, will be the first freeborn of our people.  We can’t wait to tell her her story. 

Acts of Desolation #12

#12
 
“Nomi.”  My newly acquired name in her voice takes on layers of meaning.  “I don’t know what to tell you.”
 
I don’t know what she is not telling me.  Is this about her plan to defeat the dream demons?
 
“Tell me what you like.  I probably won’t remember.  I don’t remember who I am, or how I got here.”
 
“They were trying to protect you.  But what were they thinking?  That you would stay so stoned on all these drugs they left you here that you wouldn’t think to leave?  That the disconnected dreams would fade before you could make anything of them?  Has my interference now put you at greater risk?  You know too little and too much for safety.”  These thoughts come to me not from Thistle’s lips, but directly mind to mind.  My response is open questioning without content.  I don’t know what to ask, but would like to know who I am, what I need protection from.  How can I protect myself with so much confusion?
 
She lays it all out:  the Genetic Weapons Initiative, the mercs, the rebellion.  “I was of the last batch decanted before GWI was scrapped.  When the mercs came to take over, I knew this would become a very bad scene.  A few days later, I saw my chance and took off — a thistle in the wind.  Since then, I’ve been on my own among the undocumented street folk, on a vast many streets, in a vast many places.  I’ve learned to keep my mind shielded while tuning in on those around me, to keep from being found out.  I’ve learned what I’ve had to to survive and stay free.”
 
“You left on your own?  Why didn’t any of the others go with you?” it occurs to me to wonder.
 
“I don’t know.  I guess they didn’t see their chance.”
 
It seems like a lot to take in; but it all makes sense.  She tells it so simply, moving me through the memories.  So these mercs, the dream demons, are our common enemy. 
 
“I know how to broadcast, or narrowcast, with pinpoint accuracy, ” she assures me.  “We have a perfect opportunity here, at Carnival.  Tourists and street folk from everywhere are here, soon to return home with their news.  I can get the ugly truth about the mercs’ plans for civilians and undocumenteds out into the world-wide rumor mill, by getting it up and running here.”
 
“But won’t they be alerted, the mercs, to what you are doing?  Won’t they be able to retaliate or do damage control?”
 
“Not if we do this right.  I need to coordinate with your people, get a great barrage going against the mercs all at once.  They’ll be too busy to be very effective.  Especially, we have to get word out to the merc slave freaks just how precarious their position is under their current masters.”
 
She has made me aware of the others linked in to my mind.  Apparently I am an agent of the rebels.  Now I get to be a coordinating switchboard for this all out assault, hidden safely in the hole while Thistle goes out to spread our rumors.
 
Rebel teams have been deployed to take out the new lab facility and prison, built but not yet occupied.  All out broadcasts are being sent and relayed of graphic representation of the mercs’ plans to make the most of their slaves’ bodies and minds.  A great many of the mercs’ freak corps are now openly rebelling, eager to join our cause.
 
Of course, the mercs are now aware that the demise of the rebel forces was not as advertised.  Lev is immediately suspect.  Gray had been maintaining the false memory that had kept him from being found out until now.  Now, he reemerges in Lev’s consciousness, warning of what kind of trouble awaits and the necessity to hide.  Orders have gone out for Lev to be arrested and tortured to find out what he really knows.   Unlike most of the merc freaks, the Central Command Guard are not easily swayed against their masters.  They are specifically chosen and trained for loyalty and ambition.  They have every reason to believe they will continue to act as the mercs’ elite guard, as long as their loyalty is assured.  
 
It is the last night of Carnival.  The streets are overwhelmed with drug-fueled, frenzied crowds of merry-makers who now know the mercs to be their enemy.  If Lev can disappear into the crowd, we may be able to bring him in to safety.
 
I find that I am already running in the direction of that crowd.  Our plan has been implemented to the point where my safety is no longer a real concern.  I will do what I can for my people, or die trying.
 
I broadcast as strongly as I can into the crowd the images of what the mercs intend for them, and their location in the Imperial Hotel.  There is a mad surge of angry mob.  The Guard is much too busy now with immediate concerns to have time to track down Lev.  I find him, following the thread from me to Gray, and whisk him away to the safety of the hole.
 
The rest, of course, is history.

Acts of Desolation #11

#11

I’m here, in the hole, alone, or almost.  There was a demon here when I came in, but he didn’t like my singing.  And there’s the ghost.  He tells me my singing is fine, but too loud.  Sing more softly.  He can hear me just fine, if I sing, yes, softly, singing.  Whirling and twirling around, here, in the hole, where I’m safe from the streets.  I can hear loud noises, explosions, from the distance.  Bright lights, flashing colors, twinkly shapes appeared and receded while I was outside.  Outside the hole, in the dark with too much noise and light, no.  Better here, safely, in the quiet almost dark candlelight, whirling and twirling, singing, softly.  This ghost is okay.  Not angry, not mean.  He can stay here, in the hole, with me safe, warm.  Way too warm.  Hot, humid night and I’m wearing all these clothes.  Unlayer!  Unlayering.  There is a story about nights being cold.  The ghost says it doesn’t matter, just keep some clothing on for protection; don’t sweat the sweat.  Yes, the fiber gives my running water a place to soak into.  He tells me to drink bottled water, from the pack on the floor.  What comes out must go in, for perfect balance.  I have a good haul on the floor.  Packaged food, water, pills and liquor too!  And look!  A lovely patchwork skirt to twirl in.  A right proper party I’ve got me, eh Ghostie?  Got ourself a party good as any out on the street.  Drinking brandy from the bottle and twirling.  More heat and sweat, but I’m relaxed into it, feeling so fine.

The ghost is impatient.  He wants me to go out to the big party uptown, to see the Carnival.  Can’t you see we have a better party  here?  We don’t have to share.  No demons, no annoying people with all their chaos here.  He is not dissuaded.  He wants the lights and noise, cacophony, or at least the people parading through the streets to watch.  I am warm and liquid.  Watching pretty lights, pretty costumes, parading, maybe, could be, a pretty party favor.  I blow out the candle,  adjusting my eyes to the darkness of these back streets.  I take my bottle along, twirling through the street in my pretty party skirt.  Warm, humid night full of noise and lights, so dreamlike.

“One more drunken reveler,” the ghost whispers.  I have arrived, surrounded by lights, by crowds dancing and prancing to lively beating bands.  Swirling, twirling colors and light and movement, a dream made real, created by mass imagination.  I feel free in this crowd.  Nobody’s stopping to question to be involved in anything but the grand, sinuous movement.  Even the ghost is caught up in the spell.  He is caught up in another space, another mind, only so slightly attached to me at all.  I am free, sinuously dancing, enmeshed in the beautiful crowd, the beautiful light, all fantasy, all play, no drama.  Entranced in the music, palpably joining form and shadow, so high, floating, in a beautiful sea.

The ghost remembers me, whispering:  “Go back to the hole; be safe.”  I am caught up in the floating sea.  I feel fine here.  The hole will wait, a safe refuge to be in the fullness, if that dawning ever comes.

“Hey, space lady, got a name?” I am being addressed, casually.  I seem to be moving back toward consciousness after a celebratory passing out.

“No memory.  No me,” is my, to me, cleverly ironic reply to her.  Everything is hazy, out of phase.  I appear to be sitting in a kind of semi-circle around a blazing trash can.  For light?  It’s much too warm a morning to need a campfire.

“Well, hey, Nomi.  This here’s Charlie; and they call me Little Red.  That disreputable mess passed out next to you calls herself Thistle.  Couldn’t tell you why; and it can be hard to get out in certain head states, if you know what I mean.  That was might fine brandy you brought to the table.  Welcome to hang, if you like.  Less you have impending business or waylaid kin to attend to.”

I have no reason to leave, or reason at all.  “I’ll hang for a bit.  I’m not at all sure where I am anyway.  Maybe once the cobwebs clear …”  What?  Little Red doesn’t seem to care.  She passes me a home-rolled cigarette she’s had a few tokes on.

“My special blend,” she proudly informs me.

The haze intensifies, with added color and sparkle.  “I haven’t got any plans.” I tell us.  “I’m here at Carnival to party.”

Little Red is satisfied I am a kindred spirit.  I pass the cigarette to Charlie, a somewhat burly gentle looking taciturn guy.  We all seem to silently agree to enjoy our unplanned day.

Little Red is indeed little, yet tough-looking, all long frizzy red hair, gap-toothed grin, and a variety of visible scars, with a warmly welcoming stand-offish manner.  I feel welcomed, companioned, with no strings or expectations.  The morning is warm, heavily humid.  There are small groups here and there, but the street is abandoned compared to last night’s gala.  I’m still not sure where I am, who I am, what if anything I have meant to do, but it doesn’t matter.  I am here.  I am me.  I will do what comes naturally, or whatever.  Hot, hazy, humid, no fit atmosphere for thinking or doing much at all.  Just going along with the dream.

Thistle is stirring.  Long brown arms and legs, a tousle of dark hair, a flash of dark eyes over a wide yawn, then an impish grin.  There is talk of food and cleaning up.  Apparently, the city provides way stations with public showers.

My mind fuzzily seeks access to knowledge of a hidey-hole complete with food and drugs, but I am distracted.  Embracing strong arms, a wet whispering kiss on my cheek, accompanied by a warm contralto:  “Hey, Nomi.  I’m Thistle.  Good morning.”  Then, out she pirouettes ahead of us as we move, packlike, toward the showers.

The Carnival city planners are no dummies, or perhaps they learned from experience.  There’s no need for smelly, hungry hordes of would-be partiers to dampen the scene.  Enroute to the showers are complimentary booths giving out coffee and pastries along with literature from their various sponsors, colorful streetmaps highlighting attractions, and schedules of entertainment events.  I get caught up in this and that, and lose track of my new friends.

Despite the food, I am feeling light-headed, disconnected, so tired almost somnambulant.  It must be the heat.  It occurs to me to find shelter.  I conceptualize the hole, and realize that’s where I am heading.  I just need to sleep for a bit, until hopefully cooler evening hours.

I escape into the hole.  It has been waiting for me, or so it seems.  Escape into restless sleep of dreaming in a dark and quiet refuge.  Dreams dark, but not quiet.  Or am I dreaming?

I awaken to the darkness of the hole.  It is quiet, but not quiet enough.  Someone else is here.

“What do you want?  What are you doing here?” I cry out.

“You looked to be needing help.  I followed you.  Let me help you.”  Thistle moves to me out of the darkness.  She sits beside me, cradling, crooning, soothing.

“Nightmares in the day?  Tell me.  I know some things about unwanted dreams.”

“I’m not certain they are dreams.  There are words and moving images, ideas, actions.  They seem to be impressions from some apocalyptic meeting, not surreal dream imagery.  It seems more like a warning of what may occur, if right action isn’t taken.  But what am I to do with such a warning, if that’s what it is?  It could just be me dreaming in paranoid fantasy induced by recreational drugs.  I don’t know what to tell you.”  I try to explain, though I don’t know why I trust her.

“I know a technique that might help,” she whispers, clearly concerned.  “Let me walk your dream.  I can help to make it clearer for you.  We can figure out this warning, what it wants you to know.”

She seems so certain, in charge, like a wise care-giver.

“Sure.  What do I have to do?”

“Just dream, and don’t resist me.  Let go.  Let it all flow together, my presence and the imagery.”  She kisses my forehead, softly croons soothing, hypnotic phrases.  We meet in the dream.

We are in a fancy hotel conference room, complete with conferees.  There’s a group on a raised platform, clearly in charge, in crisp, tailored uniforms.  They are addressing others, in business suits, sitting at a semi-circular table slightly below their podium.  A majestically erect member of the uniforms is speaking.

“We have made adjustments in the formula.  Those science guys assure us the new crop will be much more subservient.  We won’t need to be concerned about future rebellions.”  I see from his inner panorama a large white laboratory filled with vats containing children in liquid solution.

“We’ll be able to build up our troops in a few years well beyond the numbers we had before.”

A business-type in the audience asks:  “What about the ones we’ve got who haven’t had the rebel bred out of them?”

The leader responds evenly:  “Eventually we’ll retire most of them.  The ones that prove their worth can be kept as team leaders.”

I see the mass cremation after the bodies have been harvested for saleable parts.  The human ash, too, has its industrial customers.  These mercenaries are proud of their efficient use of resources, leading to ever-expanding profit.

“Meanwhile, we keep our eye on them, and encourage them to keep their eyes on each other.  We seem to have kept the most manipulable or loyal.  I guess we can thank the rebels, now that they’re no longer a threat, for weeding out the trouble-makers.  We’ve learned through our experience, and know how to make our future enterprise so much better as a result.”

They are congratulating themselves for some successful explosive battle, for destroying those who defied them.

“Right now we are working pretty much at capacity.  Soon, though, we will be able to take on new clients.  There are plenty of local despots, industrial and political, who are favorably disposed to our services in controlling their subject populations.”

They are practically salivating, thinking about lock-step civilian workers, watched for any deviation, controlled by constant surveillance and fear.

Another of the uniforms speaks:  “We are completing our prototype rehabilitation camp for any of those, soldier or civilian, that prove difficult to control.”

I see there is no rehabilitation involved, but rather derisively contemplated sadistic experiments, torture techniques and data on the line between lethal and barely holding on.

“We can also use the camps for excess unskilled laborers, the undocumented, any source of potential unrest.”  Murmuring approval and self-congratulation ensues.

I get a flash from the obvious leader of the uniforms as he tells his business associates what they want to hear.  He sees himself raising a jewel-encrusted goblet of sweet liquid fire in toast to his private God, shouting as in salute:  “Today the world.  Tomorrow the solar system!”

I jolt awake.  I know this is not some drug-induced nightmare.  Somewhere, not too distant in time or space, this is real.

Thistle is shaken.  “We must stop them!” she cries out.

I feel her become overcome by calm.  “I have an idea of where to start,” she says, smiling briefly, without mirth.

Acts of Desolation #10

#10

“Lev, it’s Gray, let me in!  I was captured!  I have vital information!  Hurry!  I’m fading!  There’s not much of me left…”  Gray knows his lines.  I have none.
Through a combination of post-hypnotic suggestion and Gray’s real time promptings, I will know what to do when it is time.  Meanwhile, I am to be given a series of memory suppressants and mind-altering, disorienting substances.  By the time I’m left off in Carnival city, there won’t be much of me left, if any.

I will be sent by well-stocked robocar  to the squat where Kore is suspected of hiding.  This is the tricky part of the plan, since we are not sure that the mercs are ignorant of the place.  But I will need a secured hide-out from the street noise if there is to be any chance of keeping me from attention grabbing public freak-outs in my to be debilitated state.  This is why I am being sent with supplies.  We don’t want me on the street any more than necessary to get Gray to his bio-twin, Lev.  We need to avoid the chance of me being picked up in a general street sweep against derelicts and possible trouble makers by the local authorities, or being recognized somehow as a freak by any of ours or theirs, which would blow my cover.  We are pretty confident that if the mercs did know about Kore’s hide-out we would have seen evidence of that by now.  Even if they are watching the place and did discover me there, though, the probability would be that I would just appear to be some crazy street person seeking shelter.  It’s a small risk that we have to take.

If Kore is there, Gray will give me the trigger for an encoded message in a nonsense song to let him know to escape in the robocar.  In any case, my post-hypnotic orders will get me and the supplies into the squat, after which the car will take itself, on its own orders, far away and I will forget entirely its and my former existence.
Gray has his story mapped out to convince Lev of our dire condition, and the folly of letting Central Command know there’s a ghost in their lair.  Once safely linked in, he will tell Lev that the hit on the compound killed our leaders and most of the technical crew.  Gray, barely alive, was able to escape in the confusion as his captors realized they were on their own.  Now the rebels are only the motley group and individual survivors who were away from the compound on assignment.  They are lost without their planning elite to give them their orders.  Of course, it would not be wise to let Central Command know this intel came from a quickly fading ghost.  They might well torture Lev in pursuit of more information that he does not possess.  No, much better to tell them that he picked this up from panicked empaths in the Carnival crowd during his security sweeps.  There must be no more than a very few disorganized rebel agents here, probably trapped after the capture of their cohorts not so long ago.  Once Gray is assured of Lev’s cooperation, he can fade out as if his ghostly presence is no more, leaving any questions Lev might have formed without focus to form around.  Then, Gray can listen to the Central Command’s plans and concerns through Lev’s unknowingly compromised consciousness, and pass on the intel through me to Calinda.

“Calinda will link in with you, but she will maintain silence and be physically in a different location, out of range of the patrolling merc force.  She will relay the messages you pick up from Gray, without involving your conscious participation.” 

Reag emphasizes our security concerns as we are weaving out this plan, looking for holes to pick in the fabric, making sure we are all in sync.  I am to be an idiot-conduit.  Rather, I am not to be at all.  The consciousness previously known as Dorie will be back in her ignorant bliss of non-existence.  This time, though, there’s more than my life riding on the outcome.   In fact, my life, my sanity, are not even concerns.  There’s plenty of chance that I will not be coming back from this mission, whatever the overall success or failure, even if I physically survive.
We know the Central Command will be meeting at the Imperial Hotel, where they have been putting their security in place.  The hotel is well placed in the center of the city’s arts and entertainment complex, the heart of the Carnival celebrations.  There will be plenty of crowd cover as I wander about, giving Gray the opportunity to discover Lev’s location.  The Guard will have several occasions to circulate among the crowd before and during the festivities.

Once I get Gray to his bio-twin, any damned thing can happen to me, as long as I stay alive to be a conduit for his intel.  This mission is what matters, my people, my cause.  That’s who I am, not some trivial identity, so flimsy it can be erased with drugs.

We have decided to go in on the first night of Carnival.  The robocar can enter the seedy, public service abandoned part of the city where I will be landing under cover of darkness.  All the mercs’ attention will be focused on the center of the crowds and entertainment.  Their Central Command, ensconced in their secured hotel, will be feeling safe and ready to enjoy the early ceremonies and festivities, relaxing before their substantive meetings later in the week.  This gives us just a couple of days to prepare.  We are keeping this operation quiet; only the very few of us directly involved need to know.  We have been making our plans in a secluded, secured location.  Tonight I say my good-byes to these few friends, comrades, family.  Tomorrow I, essentially, will be gone, with no assurance of return.  As if there is any real assurance for any of us, day to day.  It’s not like I haven’t been down this road before, and that by my own volition.  Best that I concentrate my thinking on my will to success.  Now, no more thinking, concentrate on enjoying this evening with loving companions while that option exists.

A robocar, stocked with everything we have thought to need, will soon be landing in a cleared space within our conspiratory camp.  Tomorrow I will be tied down and injected with mind-killing drugs.  I will be left with pre-programmed suggestions, my orders, waiting to be triggered by a ghost at the appropriate times.  The next day, crazy and haunted, I will go to Carnival.

Acts of Desolation #9

#9
The smell of death.  Certainly, not one of my favorites, but it’s true:  you can get used to anything.  Eventually I start to doze.  There is nothing to be done.
Somewhere, out there, our people are moving, re-organizing, figuring out what to do next.  They will know we are missing.  Our rescue will be on their to do list.  It won’t be hard for them to figure out where we are.  My mission is to stay alive and silent, until I feel them getting close.  Then, we make short-range contact and they get us out.
It takes forever.  It takes very little time at all.  I feel Calinda with relief and gratitude.  Her team has us out in quick order.  We carry Gray’s corpse with us.  There will be farewell rituals for others as well, once more pressing matters are handled.
We are not widely scattered, in makeshift camps secluded in mountain valley woods.  Not easily noticed, in position to be alert to intruders, we can take a breath and plan.
The word is that Kore was able to escape in the confusion surrounding Janna’s death by torture.  The mercs’ soldiers were able, obviously, to get the compound’s location quickly before she succumbed, but probably not much else.  The disorganization she projected in loud agonized vocal and psychic screaming cut short their interrogation.  Kore somehow accessed the discipline to race out, mind tightly shut, into the crowd outside the holding room.  He and Janna had only been taken a short distance by the soldiers, to a secured room in the Imperial Hotel, which the soldiers had commandeered when they arrived in the Carnival city for their use while putting in place their pre-Carnival security operations.
They let him go, or he got away.  We aren’t sure yet.  It is believed that he is hiding in a secured squat used by our agents as a sanctuary from the barrage of psychic impressions on the streets.
“A place much like your vacation hole,” Calinda laughs to lighten our grimness.  That’s Calinda, always moving to ease the uncomfortable, while never flinching from harsh truths.
“We need more intel, what the mercs are planning, just how much they know about our operations.  Yet, after all this …  They must be on high alert, watching for us.”
I tell her Gray’s plan, to infiltrate the Central Command Guard as a ghostly whisper in his bio-twin’s ear, and mine — the one to unobtrusively suggest, the other to pass on intel from the inner sanctum.
But, how to get in there?  As a flimsy ghost, he needs very close contact to even find his bio-twin.  He is linked to me.  I would need to get close enough to the Central Command Guard for Gray to make the connection.  Yet, they are on alert, watching for us.  I would be captured, possibly killed, certainly have my knowledge compromised, before I could even get close enough to do any good.  Not to mention, if I am killed so is Gray, his one psychic link destroyed.  A conundrum, perhaps a mental labyrinth.  There must be a way.
Leave it to Reag, the consummate tactician, to take up the task.
“Dorie, my dear, it seems to me that if we must put you in the lion’s den without them sussing your true identity, we need to send you in, as it were, deaf, dumb and blind.  I seem to remember a schizophrenic bag lady of my acquaintance not too long ago.  She walked the grimy streets in undetected elegance.  Well, except for her old, dear friends who knew exactly whom to look for.  And, believe me, it was not without great difficulty that you were found out, even with our advantages.  Some random crazy in a crowd will be easily overlooked by the arrogant Command crew.”
At this point I expect Calinda to break in with my defense.  Instead, she turns to me, grasping my shoulder while penetrating with her beautiful loving gaze into my eyes, my mind. 
“You know he’s right, Dorie.  We realize how hard, dangerous, this will be for you.  We need to make this work.  It’s our best shot at survival.  We all know what’s at stake, why we are fighting this horrid, interminable war.  Win or die.”
I know Reag’s views are somewhat different; more like win, then die.  But it’s Gray’s death I am remembering.  This is his shot.  This is what I promised, his dying wish.  How can I offer any less?  We must strategize, get this right, make a foolproof plan, and execute it.  It is not “win or die.”  There is no option but to win.
“I’m going to make this happen,” I affirm to the ghost flitting about in a corner of my mind.
“No, we will,” he assures me.

Acts of Desolation #8

#8
 
I am filled with joy for the amazing people we have, are, are becoming.  It is important to take time for joy.  That is why we are having a celebration.  We may not have luxury items to pass around, but we can sing, dance, beat out rhythm on makeshift drums, share funny stories or sentimental ones, enjoy ourselves together, those of us who are here. 
 
Quite a few are out on assignment, picking up the information that can be found, spreading the information that can be given.  Those who are not currently at the compound will certainly be celebrating on other occasions.  We like to have that shared enjoyment on any occasion we can.  Right now rumors are rife that the mercs are sadly encumbered by our activities.  They are losing troops to the extent that it is affecting their bottom line.  We hear they are planning a special board meeting of the Central Command and their cronies to address this.  The rumor is that it will take place at Carnival, so the high level mercs can enjoy their own partying after their strategy session.
 
We all need downtime, to kick out the jams.  I have been through too many zones too  quickly, making it on the fumes of fast-pacing circumstance.  Finally, I am letting all that wound up energy unwind.  I am finally free, here with my people, of the fear and misunderstanding, of the never being part, among strangers.  Letting go, dancing, the music, simple percussion and voice,  carrying me into a meditative peace.  I am immersed in pleasure, in the fluid movement of my body, the fluid intermovement of beautiful bodies, beautiful mutual emotion, inter-connected in mind and music.  Deeply exhaling, inhaling, lifeforce in chemical embrace with air.
Gray has the new recruits quite as at home as I feel.
Reag and Calinda are out doing debriefing of the newest recruits coming in. We have people in the field who have learned the art and craft of pulling lone soldiers away from merc command without getting caught. Pretty much the only ones of us here are those who take care of the infrastructure keeping the compound going, recruits still too new to send out on assignment, and Gray and me. We’re all glad for the tension-breaking shared revelry. We have been feeling something big building. Best to be relaxed and limber going into unknown dangers. We are dancing, making music, feeling close, free, unafraid. So, in that sense we are ready.
It was all pieced together later.  Janna and Kore were scoping out the Carnival city scene, working the crowds of locals and tourists for information that could give us leads on the upcoming Central Command meeting, spreading information about the mercs and their methods.  Most civilians are not really aware of the mercs and their “crowd control” operations.  We let them know, what to watch for, what dangers they could face, through local rumor mills with our mind insertion techniques.  Janna and Kore are experienced agents.  Still, they were found out by merc freak advance guard, working the crowd from their end to assure their masters’ safety, comfort, control.  Our well-trained agents were able to send out a relay alarm as they realized that they were captured.  Full text was likely:  “We will crack under interrogation.  Get yourselves somewhere we don’t know about!”  We at the compound, in midst of mind-wide-open revelry, felt the alarm as hard-edged panic warning:  “Move!  Get out!  Attack imminent!”
Gray and I take charge of getting everyone into the tunnels, as quickly a they can move, carrying what equipment can be salvaged easily.  The tunnel system is fairly vast and complex to get us hidden, out of range, leaving as much uncertainty as possible of where and when we might emerge, in case of attack.  There are stashes of essentials:  food, water, blankets, first-aid supplies, light sticks, to pick up along the way. 
We are scrambling through the tunnels, the others moving quickly ahead of us, quietly, efficiently, in the low light of our led torches.  I do not feel any fear.  My mind is clear, alert, hyper-aware.  Gray holds my hand as we move, keeping together in pace and reassuring presence.  We are soldiers, born and bred.  We are rebels by choice, engaged in just another little adventure, all in a day’s work.  We  have this covered.
The explosions are loud, jarring, sad testimony that what we had built as our home has been destroyed.  We will build again.  Right now, we move, keep ourselves safe to regroup and fight that destructive force intent on taking our lives, minds, free will.  If we don’t exist to serve them, they need us gone.  To be truly free, we must defeat them.
I feel the shocks and after-shocks of the bombardment above.  Rock and soil dislodge, obscuring vision, stinging bits of sand, coughing as they impinge on our airways, sliding forward on moving ground.  I fall against Gray as we are knocked down by more percussive rippling, hit by rubble, finding ourselves blocked by debris as we attempt to arise and move on.  I notice blood and internal screaming.  Gray is injured.  We are cut off from the rest, who continue their scrambling exit through the tunnels, ahead of us, ahead of the falling tunnel-way in which we are now trapped.  We know we only need to wait, stay hidden.  Our comrades will return for us, dig us out, once it is safe to do so.
Gray is bleeding dangerously.  I have cuts and bruises, but he is seriously wounded, hit by something heavy and sharp.  I can see that he must have internal injuries as well.  Still, I must keep him from bleeding out.  I fashion a tourniquet from my belt-sash, get us both into reasonably comfortable positioning.  He is supine, head in my lap where I sit on smoothed over tunnel floor.  We have blankets around us.  I am encouraging him to drink sips of water, to stay hydrated.
“It’s no good.  I’m dying,” he informs me, somewhat wryly.
What can I say?  It is self-evident.
“Better you keep the supplies for yourself.  You don’t know how long it will be.”
I open fully to him, showing him my compassion, my love and admiration.  He is quietly in reverie, relaxing into the inevitable.
Then, he is excited, suddenly enthused.  “This will work.  Dorie, you have to hold on to my spirit, keep me a ghost, like Nerice.  I will be able to infiltrate the Central Command Guard and give us the intel we need on the CC’s plans.  Do it.  Make this stupid dying thing worthwhile.  You know, rebels have to use whatever means we can to survive.”
I see the wisdom in what he demands.  I have never done this, but I can certainly make the effort.  I go into that place where his soul is between life and death.  I whisper the trance ritual into his ear, special sound reverberation techniques from our corps training.  I feel his soul/body connection dissolving.  His body is at peace.  The working part of him, tethered to me by a psychic thread, is ready and waiting for his next assignment.

Acts of Desolation #7

#7
 
When we can, we recruit them.  That’s who rebels are.  They were caught up in the system, until they learned there were alternatives.
 
“So why do I even need your freedom?  I get what my contract entitles me to.  I get everything I need.  Of course the job is dangerous.  I am a soldier.”
 
They always say that.  And they mean it.
 
We have a shielded place for this purpose.  They can’t get out.  Others can’t get in.  They don’t understand, for awhile, why we don’t torture them.  When they get it, they are on their way to being free, like it or not.
 
We are in a pine forest.  I love the smell of pine, and snow, woodfires in clean outdoor air.
 
Of course, we have to keep the kid inside the shield; but it is an airy space.  We want them to learn to feel free.  After that, the mercs can’t tempt them.
 
“What’s your name, soldier?”  Calinda’s gentleness often undermines resolve built up against force.
 
“Gray.”
 
“They were into colors that cycle.”  Reag laughs.  Where our names originate is a mystery.  They are given to us at indoctrination, once we are decanted from the vats.
 
At some point in the process, they always ask:  “Okay, I get it that you think we should be free.  But what is this destroy the mercs to save the world campaign?”
 
They still don’t get that they have anything in common with freeborn humans.  Their assignments to infiltrate, influence the thoughts of citizens, report on those whose thoughts are in opposition to the client’s agenda, they don’t get that they are serving evil.  People obsessed by power who elevate themselves above common humanity are no fit masters to serve.
 
Yet Reag still believes we are abominations who need to be destroyed once the evil mercs have been defeated.  Well, he is insane.
 
As am I? 
 
It is so good to be home.  Predictably, Gray wanted to go back to recruit among his merc enslaved friends.  We were able to convince him of the folly of taking on those dangers.  He agreed to join us, to help in whatever ways he could.  We are back now, at the rebel compound, a well-shielded community.  We have a network of underground tunnels, under greenhouses, workshops, labs, powered by a multi-source energy generation system.  We are pretty well self-contained, governed by principles of self-preservation, teamwork, and devotion to our common cause.  Not that we all work together smoothly or without conflict, but our genuine respect, affection and goodwill go a long way.  Most of us have already been through the thick and the thin of it together, with strong knowledge of each of our strengths and weaknesses, strong bonding.  This is where I belong.  I can feel that I am finally ready to be part of us again.
 
I have been dreaming about bridges, especially crossing a long, carefully constructed stone bridge while a storm rages all around me.  The sea leaps up as if to capture me, but I never waver from my journey across, where I see my friends in the distance, on the other side.
 
Reag has toned down his anti-freak rhetoric, in favor of saving his ravings for the hated mercs.  Still, people are concerned, even wary, to have him around; but we do respect and appreciate his abilities and vision against our common enemy.
 
We have decided that it would be best to recruit away as many freaks as we can from the merc forces.  We need to bring them down in stages, as they are far too well armed to fall to a frontal assault.  We need to do our best to whittle down their resources, and make sure they don’t get the opportunity to rebuild.  We have our people out among the civilians, tracking merc activities, spreading information about them to alert and concern the freeborn, to build up sentiment on our side.  Of course, this all has to be taken on surreptitiously with care.  We can’t let the mercs know what we are doing, where we are, what resources we have and are developing.  It would be so helpful if we could plant spies to report back on the strategies at their top command.  Most of those we recruit know very little, just what has been directly related to their specific assignments.  Of course, any spy would be easily revealed to empath guards.  This protects us, as well.
 
Gray is brighter, more ambitious, more fervent, than most of the recruits.  The mercs must have noticed his qualities, as well.  “My younger bio-twin was groomed for the Central Command Guard, the most elite of the corps.  They are directly responsible for guarding the members of the Central Command, so only the best and brightest will do.  I know there’s got to be a way to get him to work for us.  I know I could recruit him.  I know how his mind works.  I would just need to get to him with no other empaths in range.”
 
I convince him that this would not be workable on many levels.  If his bio-twin were recruited, he could not spy for us on the Command because his fellows would know he had turned.  More importantly, it would be far too great a risk to allow Gray.  “You know too much.  You know who we are, where we are, our plans against the mercs.  It would be far too dangerous for you to get so close to their soldiers now that you have turned on them.”
 
He listens to me.  Gray is quite impressed by Reag and me, by who we are to him historically, by what we have been through, by how we are now.
 
“The attack on the GWI lab, that’s a key piece of propaganda they use against the rebels.  They tell us you callously murdered hundreds of our people, your people, just to make some political point.  We learn that your rebellion is pure evil.  But now I know.  What that did to you, how deeply you suffered, because you know that we freaks are human, brothers and sisters.  It’s the mercs that think of us as slaves, property, expendable to their bottom line.  That’s why, it’s so important, to let the mercs’ slaves know the evil they are serving.”
 
“I understand.  You feel great responsibility for your peers.  That quality is important in a team leader.  You can help us so much, right here, working with the new recruits.  You can help them to integrate more easily into their new lives.”
 
He is thrilled with the idea of being a mentor for the recruits, a position of importance and responsibility.  Briefly, I am reminded of Nerice, seeing a whiff of her as if remembering a sad joke.
 
“Oh yes, the ghost that defeated my team.”  He has heard the whole story.  “You people, we, look at what we can do.  The mercs have no idea.”

Acts of Desolation #6

# 6
 
” I could really use a sandwich and pots of coffee.  I know a great little all night diner not too far from here.”
 
Leadership comes naturally to Reag.
 
The food and caffeine is bliss.  The diner is cozy, almost empty, soft music and soft lighting.
 
“We should get back, make sure the rest are ok.”  Calinda worries.
 
“Our people know what to do, after all that’s happened.  We have to think, what if the mercs have been watching us.  You took a big chance in your campaign to rescue her.”  He indicates me with a sideways wink.  I feel the little glow of my image in his mind, the way he sees me.
 
“Me?”  Calinda retorts archly, “You were making it loud and clear that Dorie was your number one target, that we all must die for your sins!”
 
“Bicker, bicker.”  He is wry, not angry.  “We have our own little armageddon to plan.”
 
Strangely, I am home.  I am me, the essence of me.
 
The last of the other patrons have gone.  I don’t feel the presence of the staff.  We three are on full alert.  We sense hostiles approaching.  They have no reason to capture prisoners.
 
Nerice is suddenly aflutter.
 
“He’s here.  They sent him after me, back in the city.  Before I died.  I was dying.  Things got really crazy there.  I didn’t remember.  He linked.  That’s why I’m a ghost.  He kept part of me here as a tool.  I didn’t know.  If you let me in, though, I can help you kill him.  Then we’ll all be safe.”
 
“Nerice, you know who he is.  Get to him.  Get him to let you in.  Then, report back to me.”
 
This merc empath agent had pulled part of Nerice out of death to use her for the nefarious purposes of his superiors.  I am glad we could not do that to Romy and Arden.  She is not her true self, only a ghost, rapaciously in need, no warmth, no feeling.
 
The three of us link in for secrecy and strength.  This is what we were made for. 
 
Reag is, of course, armed.  He passes out explosive sticks which ignite by code pressed onto a small wired-in keyboard.  He tells us the code:  F-R-E-E.
 
There’s also a disorienting spray, to muddy the trail if you get beyond view and block your mind for a bit.  I pocket these.  We are listening for our chance.
 
Nerice has persuaded her way into the merc freak, now feeding him false information, and sending his real information to me.  There are eight of them, young, well-trained, well-disciplined.  We laugh, remembering when we were like them.
 
We get out in front of them.  Reag has an automatic weapon, of course.  He mows down several.  
 
Nerice gets her wish, and dies in battle.
 
We throw back our explosives.  Those not dead or dying are in hiding.  We spray the disorienting chemical to keep them from following.   Then, we double back to the car.
 
One bright lad had us covered.  He made directly for the car, and met us there.  Sad for him, we overpowered and took him along. 
 
“They won’t hesitate to kill you or negotiate to save me,” he boldly lets us know.
 
“We know,” we tell him.

Acts of Desolation #5

#5
 
I feel Calinda approaching, finally.  I open the door to meet her, but she pushes me, forcefully, back inside.
 
“I’ve been trying to avoid Reag.  He picked up my trail as I was on my way back with the robocar.  It’s parked a few blocks from here.  I didn’t want to get too close until I lost him.  Are you ready to go?”
 
We have mind-barrier techniques, but they take a lot of concentration which can only be kept up for a short while.  Now that Reag is aware of Calinda’s presence, we will have to  keep our minds blank while hurrying to the robocar, until we get well out of this vicinity.  Nerice, of course, follows us, never giving up on her chance to get back into the game.  Her ghostly thoughts are too faint to be noticed unless she is actively working to communicate.
 
We are not fast enough.  Not far from our destination, Reag appears, stepping out of the shadow.
 
“If it isn’t my oldest, dearest friend, and her younger version.  Take a good look at Dorie, Calinda.  I remember when she was just like you.  Of course, that was long before all that unpleasantness.  Now, where are we going?”
 
“Why don’t we take him to the clinic?”  I ask Calinda.  “Couldn’t they help him, too?”
 
“Because, Dorie,” he answers for her, “you have to be willing to be helped.” 
 
He leaves a few beats of ironic silence, then bursts out:  “Hey kids, I’ve got a crazy idea.  Why don’t we go back to my place?  We could have quite a party, don’t you think?”
 
“I don’t think we want to do that, Reag.”  Calinda was looking directly into his eyes, unwavering.  I wanted so to hug him, squeeze the demons from him.  Yet, I know too well, those demons are not so easily dislodged.
 
The night is icy.  Frost crystals form around our hair, our faces.  White clouds of condensation appear with each breath.  The street is empty of life, save for us.
 
“Maybe you’re right.  The place is kind of a dump.  Alright!  Road trip!  Let’s get to that car and it’s climate control!  It’s freezing out here!”  Saying this, he grabs each of us under the arm and around the back, half carrying us along, to the robocar and its promised warmth.  He doesn’t seem in any hurry to kill us.
 
“Dorie, my dear, I don’t want to kill you.  Well, maybe just a little, you know, to put you out of your misery.  But first, we have some catching up to do.”
 
We are flying along the skylane enroute to the clinic, where the robocar had been preprogrammed to go.
 
“I’ve not been seeking you out to kill you, but to reenlist you.”  Charming as ever.
 
“Calinda believes you are out to destroy the GWI freaks, including me.”
 
“Of course!  We are abominations!  We need to be annihilated.  But the mercs are the real enemy.  We are merely a side issue.  There’s plenty of destruction to go around.  First we save the world.  Then we commit race suicide.”
 
He is dead serious.
 
“Why do you need me?  I’ve been long out of it.”
 
“Whom else can I trust?”
 
“Any of the freak team.”
 
“They think I’m insane.”
 
“You are.”
 
“As are you.”  I feel the maniacal laughter rippling through him.
 
Reag knows that the robocar’s program can be overridden by manual control.  We are still on course for the clinic.  Quite a way from the urban lanes, the sky is dark, desolate.  We are approaching the mountainous region of our destination.
 
I feel Calinda, seated next to me, hand in mine, encouraging peaceful imagery to calm me.  She ignores Reag’s ravings, concentrating on my well-being.
 
“Did you know, we intended to get pregnant, after everything settled down, after we won, after the chemicals finally were worked out of our systems.  We would have the first natural born of us, start to become a real people.  You know, they gave us those chemicals, in the corps and then the mercs, to keep their precious genetics program pure, to keep us controlled, intellectual property.”  He is remembering his plans with Romy, back when he believed in us, our rights, our cause, our people.
 
“But what are we good for, Dorie?  All we know is war.”
 
Maybe I can get through to him.
 
“We have each other,” I venture.
 
“And what good has that done us, you and me?  I tried, you know, even after you were gone, to be a good leader, to carry on.”
 
The car is slowing, starting to descend.
 
“Here’s your rehab, Dorie.  You can go get sane.  Or, you could come fight the mercs with me.  We can hit them in ways they’ll never be expecting.”
 
The car stops in front of the main clinic entrance.  The grounds are quiet, dark.  We know immediately, something is very wrong.  Apparently the mercs have already been expecting us.
 
As we feel their onslaught, Reag takes control of the car.  We are up, moving away, over the facility power plant.  Reag pulls an incendiary device from an inner pocket of his voluminous overcoat.  He ignites it, quickly opens the nearest door and launches it onto the power plant.  Door closed, up and away.  We hear explosions, see fireworks, as we speed into the night.
 
“Way to go, destroying our clinic, Reag,” Calinda says bitterly.
 
The clinic had been a GWI facility that the mercs had no use for.  Their  treatment for a malfunctioning genetic weapon was a lethal injection and recycling of chemical components.  Our rebel crew had revived the facility recently, as Calinda had told me during our catching up.
 
“It’s no good to you kids now that the mercs have come in.  I have no interest in seeing more of our resources in their hands.  What about you, Calinda?”
 
She shrugs her tacit agreement. 
 
“Well, hey, kids, that was quite a party after all.  Now we need to find somewhere to regroup and strategize.”

Acts of Desolation #4

#4
 
“So, what do we do now?  Is there a plan?”
 
“More of a hopeful strategy.  We thought if we did a psychic intervention, calmed him enough, we might get him to see reason.  But we haven’t got enough strength among us to get past his walls.  We thought, you’ve known him longer, deeper, have been through so much with him.”
 
It hit me, what she is asking, demanding really.
 
“I can’t.  Look at me.  There’s not much left.”
 
“That’s why we have to restore you first.”
 
I busy myself re-lighting the fire while she goes on.  There’s a facility with appropriate resources for de-toxing, rebuilding, perhaps renewing, a fallen agent.  It’s in the mountains, secluded, far from here.  She would arrange the transport.
 
“I see that you have secured this place from both conventional and psychic surveillance.  We’ll be safer with you here.  I’ll be back for you soon.”  I feel her warm embrace as she departs.
 
Then, another, colder, one.  Nerice had followed us back here last night and kept her presence hidden while Calinda was updating me.
 
“I can help you,” she implores.
 
She still wants in.
 
“I can protect you while you heal.  Then, there will be two of us to bolster each other in battle.”
 
“No, I have to deal with Reag, myself.”
 
“What about the real enemy, the mercs, the ones you’ve been hiding from?  What if Calinda doesn’t return?”
 
It’s getting dark.  I’m running low on firewood.  I heat up some stew and choke it down.  Best to be well fed before a battle.  Who knows when I’ll have the chance to eat again.
 
I want to be out, walking off this nervous energy.  I try going through old martial arts exercises, but I am clumsy, out of practice, musculo-neural pathways degraded by drugs.  Calinda has been gone far too long.  The fire has died.  I am dark and cold, scared, undecided as to what to do.
 
Nerice was right.  The mercs are the real enemy.  With my memory back, I am more vulnerable to being found by their empath agents.  I can’t stay shielded in the hole forever.  Maybe I should go to Reag — better to be killed by a friend than the enemy.
 
“I can help you.”  Nerice’s predictable insistence. 
 
Why am I so afraid to let her in?  Maybe she can help.
 
I close my eyes and see the raw, raging sickness of Reag’s mind.  Maybe I can help him.  If we could join together again, against the mercs …
 
Nerice is dead.  No one will be looking for her.  Maybe she can help, if my will is strong enough to stay in control once we are joined.
 
She sees me wavering.
 
“I do have enough assorted pills to sleep through a very short future,” I warn her.
 
I am so cold.  I set my body twirling, turning all that fear into warmth.

Acts of Desolation #3

#3
 
Before I can gather up the necessary will to run off, she walks to where I am standing and takes my hand.
 
“Take me with you,” she says simply, quietly.  “We have a lot to catch up on.”
 
We make our way, through the rain and icy streets, to the hole.  I light a fire to dry us.  As it turns out, she has a flask of very fine brandy in her pocket, which makes the warming up process far easier.  In no time it seems like we were old friends.
 
“That’s because we are,” she tells me, laughing gently as if remembering a private joke.
 
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this.  But, if someone had to, I’m glad it could be me.”  This does not sound encouraging.
 
“I know you’re retired.  I now you’ve been taking memory suppressants to help you stay truly undercover.  I know why.”  This is more encouraging, since so unlikely.  This must be another one of those dreams.  Soon the sirens and jumbled images will take over until I find myself suddenly awake, terrified, covered in sweat, with no idea why.
 
“I am sorry.  We have ourselves a situation.  We need you.  You are going to have to come in from the cold.”
 
Suddenly I am very cold indeed.  Shivering uncontrollably, as tears take over my face, I still don’t know why.
 
So, it turns out I am part of a highly trained secret corps of empaths, developed by the Genetic Weapons Initiative during Cold War III.  When the new Administration and Congress were voted in after the Worldwide Peace Convention, they dismantled GWI as repugnant to the conscience.  We were sold to a secret mercenary group for ad hoc assignments.
 
This is a lot to take in, and apparently the story gets weirder from there.  Calinda, my new best friend, is also my old best friend and my biological twin, though several years younger than I.  There was a mutiny against the mercenaries, a secret war between secret entities.
 
“Dorie, I know you wanted, needed so badly, to get away.  I know you just wanted a peaceful retreat.”  She hugs me as she speaks, holding off some of my terror as the visual memories run scatter-shot through my inner view.  What could they possibly need from me?  I am nothing but broken, hiding in self-imposed ignorance.
 
“You sleep,” she decides.  “I’ll walk your dreams.  It will all make sense when you awaken.”
 
I feel Calinda’s safe presence guiding me into the dream, the denied memory.
 
When you grow up in a vat, created as an advanced biology experiment, any semblance of family takes on great significance.  Especially for empaths, who are forced into intimacy relentlessly, having the security of well-known, bonded, intimates can be crucial.
 
It was a small, efficient team:  Reag, our revolutionary leader, his wife, Romy, Arden, his bio-twin, and me, his oldest friend.  We had learned that the GWI labs were still in secret operation, churning out human weapons for the mercenary organization with which we were now at war.  We were all linked in, both for strategy and emotional support.
 
Arden and Romy were in the main lab building, setting the explosive charges in the embryo and accelerated growth vat rooms.  The kids in the vats, undergoing treatments to bring them to physical maturity in months rather than years, could feel our presence.  They were helpless.  There was no way we could save them and destroy GWI.  That would take resources far beyond anything in our power.
 
Reag and I were in the communications tower, standing look-out while scanning and overriding the data stream to keep our actions from being monitored.  Most of the lab’s operation was automated, especially during the scientists’ and technicians’ downtime.
 
We weren’t prepared for the silent screaming.  The vat kids knew why we were there.  Their energy, a massive panic surging outward, set off the explosives before Arden and Romy could escape.  Noise, light, pain, hundreds of young bodies ripped apart, still silently screaming.  Arden’s and Romy’s screams coming through even stronger, with poignant, tragic intimacy.  Reag and I managed to run, hide, get away.
 
I awake secured in Calinda’s arms.  Gently rocking, gently humming a soothing tone, she quiets the panic in her empathic love.  Still, I am not ready for this.
 
“You’re really not going to be ready for this, but it’s imperative that you know.”  I am not thrilled by this build up, but still in too much shock to resist more unwelcome information.
 
“Reag is out to kill all the GWI freaks.  He’s been looking for you.”
 
“All of us?  But there must be tens of thousands!  How can he think that’s even possible?”
 
“He’s not thinking.  He’s insane.”
 
Sitting between us, a thought so faint, in our closeness I could not tell if it were hers or mine:  “As are you.”
 
Or was it Reag’s?  Suddenly, I could feel his presence.  Not here, in the hole, but close.  The raw jumble of pain that was his mind sent tears streaming down my face.  Now, I knew why.
 
The ghost, I realized, was Nerice, another member of our crew.  Was she working for Reag?  No doubt he wanted to draw me out of hiding.
 
“You weren’t meant to survive the ER either.  They had no idea you would disappear like that after all the drugs they forced into you.”
 
“Good thing I got my tolerance up, then.”
 
“Nerice was one of ours.  Reag got to her through some cronies he developed among the criminal class here.”
 
He always was a persuasive leader.

Acts of Desolation #2

#2
 
There are some streets blissfully deserted in that magic time around dawn.  Catching a pattern here?  Living in the city, but not of it, or at least among the people.  There are millions of souls in this city.  I avoid them as much as I can.  Souls can be really icky, especially the ones who don’t know they are dead.  A lot of the ones who do know they’re dead can be just as bad.  Wandering around with no future can be frustrating.  Best to keep to myself, I say. 
 
I need to go out, to scavenge for my living.  Around dawn, it’s light enough without being too light.  Anyone still out from the night before is too trashed to be much of a threat.  Anyone starting their day has too much on their mind to notice me.
 
But there she was, that girl, her ghost, from the ER, from the streets.  No doubt she wanted me to help her get some vengeance on her murderer.  I don’t have the time for this.  I mean, there are far too many ghosts needing vengeance.  I have my own problems to work out.
 
“But what if he finds you?  What if you become a target?  Isn’t it better to know your enemy?”
 
She had a point.
 
Still, I had more immediate considerations, like food.  I have traps for the rats in the hole, but you have to cook them for hours.  You never know where they’ve been.  To have any hope of edibility, that means stew.  That means vegetables, easily available outside of food stores and restaurants where they dump the not quite spoiled produce.  In fact, there’s a vast array of nearly spoiled food to gather.  Then, in the doctors’ office row there are pills aplenty not too far from their expiration dates.  Rich party quarters can yield vast treasures of marijuana roaches and dregs of high-end wines and liquors.  I am soon well stocked to bliss out through the approaching daylight hours, avoid the blaring sunlight and assorted psychic pain inherent in daily commerce.  But that damn bitch of a ghost won’t leave me alone.  I am beginning to think whoever killed her might have had good reason.
 
“Perhaps,” she insists, “but that doesn’t make you any safer.” 
 
By now, though, I have ingested the proper mix of pills to quiet all the voices.
 
Of course those dreams come again.  The ones where there are sirens and blood and nothing makes sense.
 
Then, I’m walking down the empty city streets, the ones that aren’t filled with night life.  There’s no one here with me.  No ghosts, no shadowy dream figures, no murderous demons, just me.  I am walking these empty streets as if I am going somewhere, pulled along by fate.  Then, again she appears.  Not a ghost or a waif or a corpse, but as some divine messenger in the guise of a common streetwalker.  Somehow I understand that she is both messenger and me.  We have a symbiotic link.  The important part is that an unspeakable evil has been unleashed into my city.  It is up to me, in this twin form, to defeat this evil, as only I have the power to see it for what it is.  And there it is, glaring at me.  But apparently our battle is meant for another day, for it disappears without comment.  No doubt it has more nefarious business to attend to.
 
I had some thinking, and typing, to do.  But first for some street theater to amuse and defuse me.  I must venture over to the night life side of the city streets.
 
It’s the loud, insistent, deep rhythmic music that makes it possible for me to even be here.  I can move myself into the sound and keep my distance in the crowd.
 
“Share your body with me.  Let me in.”  She was hovering all around me.  Not as sexy as it sounds.  She wants to take over my will and use my body for her own purposes.  Well, maybe that is sex for some, but not me.
 
“You know I can help you.”  So enticing.  I can almost be persuaded, flooded by feeling of her concern, that she is so kindly offering me her soul.  I know the rules.  They can’t get in without an invitation.  Here, in the cacophony of noise, light, movement, I have the distraction to avoid falling into her psychic trap.  Concentrate on someone else, someone I can in some sense relate to.  There.  That girl in the background, her costume just enough different from the rest.  She is palpably alone, and enthused with a fear and excitement at being part of the scene.
 
The ghost can see her, too.  All that charming vulnerability, just waiting.  This girl didn’t have the experience I did.  The ghost desperately needed a body.  She had corporeal errands.  I, so far her only psychic link, was not cooperating.  If only she could manage an invitation from this lonely young woman who was looking for something new.  I would be off the hook, out of this mess that was none of my business to begin with.
 
Red and green spotlights were flashing across the stage.  The band was revving up into banshee shrieks over an accelerating, hard-driving beat.  Everyone was screaming, the dark, perspiration-dripping room closing in way too fast.  I wound my way out of there, back onto the minimally quieter, darker, emptier street.
 
It was raining, a cold January rain when it’s not interested in snowing because that would feel pleasanter.  Had it been this wet all night?  I didn’t remember.
 
She was there, the girl from the club.  I don’t know if she was following me.  Maybe the ghost had gotten to her.  I looked her straight in the eyes, and I was lost.  She was not the innocent I had expected.  It seemed that potent forces were collecting here, and I seem to be vibrating in the center of an impending storm.

Something Sacred metafiction

Acts of Desolation #1
 
 
When the battlefield torn by mines is all the school or playground in which to grow,
how can the children be taught to know, to understand a lexicon of peace?
Bitter hatred permeates mother’s milk and what there is of grain,
permeates the very rain, gathered in barrels since the wells ran red
with poisoned blood, since the holiest of sites became blackened
with pestilence and shame.
Rumors expand on who is to blame; not much else to go around..
 
 
I like to walk the dark empty streets.  Late at night, the city becomes its own.  The smells, the silence, the stark black and white, shadows and streetlamps, without the people the city can become comforting, peaceful.  But never for long.
 
It was a cold night, early in January.  It hadn’t snowed much, but there were icy patches where puddles refroze after the hours of the traffic’s warmth.  She was huddled in a threadbare shawl, moving at a pace some compromise between care for the ice and keeping blood from coagulating to avoid frostbite.  I don’t like to get involved.  In the end you can only lose.
 
Sure enough, a large, somewhat threatening looking, guy appears, yelling after her.
 
I keep to myself against the reassuring bricks and steel, and watch the drama ensue.
 
But maybe I’m not as sheltered as I thought, since the next thing I know I am waking with a monumental headache in a far different place.  Bright lights, loud noises, sterilized activity, I am propped up against a wall in an overcrowded ER, a place where my disheveled, disoriented presence is sure to cause no alarm.
 
Then, I see her on a gurney.  She is deathly pale, still.  I am starting to wonder if this is all a dream, or some superdrug hallucination, but the sensory qualities are all too real, and distasteful.  I hate when that happens.  Now I’ll have to deal with all this gross stupidity without the benefit of knowing what it’s all about.
 
A nurse’s aide comes over with a form for me to fill out about insurance and next of kin.  I motion, slur, get him to understand that I am concerned about the young woman on the gurney.  He probably thinks she’s my sister or girlfriend, and tells me she’s lost a lot of blood, but they will be transfusing as soon as the right blood type comes up from storage.  It may be touch and go, but she’s in good hands.  He tells me a physician’s assistant will be calling me shortly to examine my contusions and lacerations, and I should tell her what drugs I am on.
 
I see the guy from the street come in while we are talking.  Should I try to hide or get away?  Or is he just here because of her?  I was just an inconvenient by-passer, after all.  I can’t get my legs to work under me anyway.  May as well just let it play out.
 
Sure enough, he sidles over to her, whispering something in her ear as the life drains out of her.  Like I say, I don’t like to get involved.
 
I waited for my body to figure out how to cooperate, and got out of there.  Back home, I’m hammering this out on my antique manual typewriter.  There’s no electricity here in the hole.  Thankfully, there is a working fireplace, and places to scavenge wood.
 
The city’s got a million stories.  I like to squirrel them away in these recordings I keep typing and filing.  You can see them unfolding, refolding, just out there, everyday.  The hard part is not getting sucked in, becoming the story yourself.

 

http://caelastory.blogspot.com/2009/03/acts-of-desolation-when-battlefield.html?zx=6dd0baa468ff8547

opening view

Monk Hill stands smiling in the morning sun.  Early Spring, well-tracked snow still covers frozen ground.
Coffee-stained observations through my kitchen window.
Tom moved me here to heal, to figure out who I need to be and how.  I don’t think he was so much scared as awed by my profound collapse
into frenzied inertia.  He had helped to organize this place, this art-based enclave, to enjoy as occasional recreational refuge as well as
to give free range to special friends that he might be blessed in their blooming.  He seems quiet and controlled, a useful cover for his
beauty obsessed soul.  So fortunate that he has all that inherited wealth to indulge with.  I mean that sincerely.  So many highborn brats
indulge in nasty, even cruel, habits because they can.  Or then there are those obsessed with out-earning daddy or expanding their
empire no matter the cost to collateral lives.  See, I can record a logical progression of thought, sitting calmly, drinking coffee for the
luxurious warmth, smiling at the hill, the valley, the stone and brick buildings, the tracks in crusty snow, maybe a human or critter
intent on their own projects.  This is comfort.  This is breathing deeply, stretching gently, opening slowly toward the warmth of
activity, to explore in search of empowering questions.
Sounds like Eat Yer Pudding is open below.  Guess I’ll take this party public, check out the scene over breakfast bread pudding.