Healing Prayer for our World

my lover & i were sitting outside this morning. before that i sat in the garden by myself a bit. it was so lovely, after a night of intense firework displays (i wore ear plugs the entire time, amazed at the war-like quality of our celebration; a nation founded on war, no?), to sit in _space_, reflecting on the thoughts and attendant feelings that came & went. i feel fully in my life in this time of transition. at other times a feeling of i should do this or that comes upon me. i feel pulled places. this morning i knew i was centered and knew that the thoughts i was thinking, the space i was in (literally) was exactly where i needed to be. the thoughts and feelings i was having were absolutely the thoughts & feelings i needed to guide and direct me on my course. such self-trust! i am thankful for moments like this that feel like a break in the clouds.

as my lover and i were sitting after doing some yoga in the sweetly penetrating morning sun, we started talking about healing as we’ve both been focusing lately on understanding our paths and work in relation healing in this lifetime. he brought up the two greek figures, the two divinities, hygenia and asclepius, who have greatly influenced the foundations of our current medicines. he got this from andrew weil’s book Spontaneous Healing. hygenia represents the innate natural healing that happens from within. she is prevention and cleanliness; she is the daily taking care. she is utilizing and honoring our body/soul/spirit natural bent toward healing. she is utilizing the forces within to heal themselves, to tap into that to carry on the healing process from within to without. asclepius, the greek god who holds the staff, is the foundation of our western medicine: treatment after something has already gone on, external remedy for “fixing” what ails you. the two go hand in hand, and sometimes one is needed more than the other. and just as it should be; they keep each other balanced. but, as is so often the case, sometimes systems of complementary forces get out of balance and our culture has nearly forgotten the hygenia system of healing in place of the “get sick and we’ll fix it later”, very scientific and research-based system of allopathic medicine. hardly preventative in training, doctors from this tradition are taught emergency medicine, medicine of the pill which can cure anything, surely, devised and researched upon in labs and on people all over the world– side effects may vary.

this came out this morning because i was asking for some feedback from ini. he said, you focus on therapy which creates space for other people’s process and allows them to come to their own healing. being with you is inherently therapeutic. it’s an inherent gift that you have to bring natural healing up from the depths within other people, manifested outwardly.  i was really touched by ini’s words, and he and others have said variations of them before. encouragement toward who i inherently am so strengthens those inherent gifts. it’s such a gift that he gives me in reflecting back to me my inherent gifts! it strengthens them and helps me clarify them, so i know better how i touch others and how i offer that. it helps me know better how i serve and, in doing that, i can better approach situations.

it also teaches me that if i am inherently placed with this gift there is nothing that i need to “do” per-say. i already am that. (and what i already am is actually such a beautiful surprise and gift to myself and i naturally love to share that! – does that make sense?) it’s in stark contrast to the “outside culture” which challenges me and us to “go, be, do”, “challenge”, “get better”, “be more; be better” coming from a place of lack, of improvement of, you weren’t good enough from the beginning- make something of yourself! this way says, you are already “good enough”, in fact you have a ton of gifts to offer that already exist inside you- the fun part of the work is uncovering & developing those gifts and learning how to share them. what fun!

i feel thankful that i am getting a glimpse of this relaxing into my inherent nature which is a gift to myself and my world. it’s such a gift to me to relax into my being just as i am and find that it is not only good enough- it is great! and more than enough to help myself my world, which is exactly what i want to do.

it reminds me of an article i read yesterday by Roslyne Sophia Breillat © 2008 (emphasis mine) (read whole article here):

It is important for her to learn that her body and her life are not something to be” fixed” or “improved.” These intellectual male strategies will not serve her precious healing. She does not need to be told that she must heal within a certain time or as others think she should heal. This will only diminish her power, dishonour her wisdom and weaken her strength.

It is important for her to stay away from those who advise her with words and phrases such as “must,” “should,” “can,” “can’t,” “have to.” For she is ever so slowly and ever so gently learning the sacred arts and sacred acts of surrender and acceptance. True healing arises from the vast mystery of a timeless place, as true love arises from the vast mystery of a timeless place. It has no agenda, no structure, no fixture, no demands. 

If healing is to happen, it will happen gently and sweetly and powerfully in alignment with love, with inner stillness, with the innate intelligence of the body. It will happen with the natural flow of Mother Earth and her affinity with the feminine psyche. She will gradually find treasure within. She will slowly awaken to her true nature. She will find the wondrous gift of giving to herself, her being, her spirit. And love, joy and vitality will again flow through her veins. 

She will learn to live in the world, but not of it. She will learn to connect with and give to others from a right place within, a very real place. She will give of herself, of her being, but only when she is also giving to herself. She will give of her essence as she has never given before. 

And there will be no force, no momentum, no shoulds, no shouldn’ts in her gift of giving. As her body heals she will learn not to do anything that depletes her precious energy resources, her precious strength. She will learn to avoid anyone who drains her life force through psychically feeding upon her power. 

 

What a powerful quote! The whole article is worth a read. I think after reading this yesterday it set some deep ancient thing further in motion in me. I felt as though I had not only heart the words, but they had somehow become a part of my cells and started reproducing and breathing the ethos of this into existence. I started to live what I read without any effort. What magic! Much Gratitude!

May all people of all genders & sexes feel this freedom to be themselves and arise from within themselves to have space to share their unique gifts and talents in further healing. That’s my prayer for our world!

Respect is a Yes! beforehand

lately i’ve been searching the web to uncover more about what it means to be an herbalisti’ve been watching youtube videos, reading articles, looking at schools and perusing mentor profiles and specialties to see what’s out there. if you know me at all, you know i love plants! and i am enamored with the healing potential of plants in their relationship with humans. i’ve been pursuing this path (even unknowingly) for the last 5 years. as i am searching the web, of course i stumble upon the wise woman university website and start perusing the mentor offerings.

i follow my intuition in life; that mysterious inner guiding principle available to us all trusting that it will take me where i need to go. growing it stronger through practice. today i felt attracted to one woman’s offerings so i started to read her poetry. this one in particular touched me (found here),

“DID SHE SAY YES?

And did you ask her permission
As you poured thick slabs of concrete
Upon her fertile belly, kissed by the sun for aeons?
And did she answer, “Yes, of course I don’t mind, do as you will”

And did you ask, “May I?”
As you ripped ancient trees from her deep forests
Tearing their roots from her abundant womb
Where they long gathered sustenance from her underworld realm

And did you ask, “Is it alright if we pollute your sparkling rivers,
The flowing veins shining between your loins?”
And did she answer, “Yes, go ahead, I don’t care
I don’t need them”

And did you ask her permission
To trespass upon this sacred home of your belonging
Your beloved Earth
Who gives you so much?

And did you say, “Thank you!”
Falling to your knees in gratitude
Upon her verdant grass,
Her rich moist soil?

And did you say, “Sorry!”
For all you have taken
From this Mother Earth
Whose loving strength is your support?

And did you ask so gently
If you could touch her body,
The body of the Earth
In this way?

And did she open, yielding so softly, so sweetly to your axes,
Your bulldozers, your chainsaws, your bombs?
And did she surrender generously, without choice or complaint
To your greed, your plunder, your ignorance, your force?

And did she say, “Yes!””

~Roslyne Sophia Breillat © 2010


i see so much environmental disrespect as i travel through life. all of this that she brings up, i have seen. i have seen this happen to women’s bodies, too. i have felt the repercussions of this entitlement toward exploitation, toward possession: this thing is here for me, i should take it no matter the cost.

consent is an oft-used word these days. consent is an enthusiastic YES! in sex & relationship in the place of silence, or even at times NO! consent is changing how people communicate about sexuality & sharing themselves; how they relate to one another. i hope we can extend this conversation about consent to our relationship with our Mother Earth for we’ve been taking advantage of her body far too long without asking her first- is it okay if i take this from here? is it okay if i build this here? she is a living entity and deserves the same respect people do. time for a huge #paradigm shift. 

home

ini wiht cherimoya

“Never make your home a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.” ~ Tad Williams

in the garden of freely written weeds

thanks for the inspiration, daily post 🙂

“Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.”

good thing i started this this morning in my usual pre-writing warm-up of writing whatever the fuck wants to come out!

Good, she slipped in past the gates. The guards were enamored by her shiny plaits, not even realizing what slips under their gaze. Superficial sally subterfuges willy wonky heart spirals. Tombstone groomstone hello moonstone. Sapphire giraffe fire hello backfire . hello goodbye rye stye eye fly. Hello good morn jello mold uncle horn. Jello mold uncle horn reborn true form hello goodbye 4 3 8 stye one time fly by fire fly fire fly uncle jump yellow trunk hay bale dry spell uncle wren hi then queen lace dread face xylophone instigate yellow jacket I elate relate uncle hay bale dale frail ol mail female red grail holy snail junk pail sex fire 4 trie quail egg remake 7 8 2 1 sally subterfuge has won.

okay okay okay, so the idea i want to write about is actually spoken of in this daily prompt in the words, “the rational mind doesn’t nourish you.”

when i say, slipping past the guards/gates, that is exactly what i’m talking about! i see the gates/guards as…

the rational mind …

the rational mind as a kind of trap, a filter that inhibits us from reaching full heights/depths/potentials of thought/imagination … we’re going places kid and the rational mind can only take you so far.

one time i lived with a famous writer & that’s what she told me … you get to a certain point in the creative process where the mind doesn’t help you at all. at this point, you just have to be washing the dishes or going for a walk in the woods or lighting the peace pipe for ceremony and then

WHAM!

that’s when the “good idea” “better” “best” idea comes forth… the mind can only take you so far … and then there is mystery that moves through us.

 

And isn’t that what all good writers try to do (of course good is a subjective in my own head)? to try to write the spark of life into their words? (you can quote me on that one, dear wordpressers.)

 

From time to time i have written stuff that i look back on and think, wow, that’s actually got merit … maybe i should harvest a bit from that piece. the piece could’ve been hidden for years in the antiquated folders of my computer.. such a post a came upon the other day.

 

i think i wrote it while i was housesitting on a mountain in southern california, in a home where i could see the city of LA from the mountains in the evenings. it sure made me think… here’s an unedited, spur-of-the-moment piece from then 🙂 :

 

You are the artist

We give you space and trinkets and wine

You are the artist, after all,

And you might need it to take the edge off

From all of your midnight wandering up lake ave at night

To reach the mountains and see the city

An indeterminable call that wells up

And froths forth from your mouth

So we’ll take the froth, collect it in little jars

Bottle it and sell it, maybe even around the world

And we’ll feed you wine, you might need I to take the edge off

Tear the edge off the world, to reach center

 

 

 

 

When the world says you are a writer

Write for us and share oh please share as if your life depends on it and so does ours

And so does ours

My gender pronoun of choice is us

What do you adore

 

I cannot live without you garden

 

Oh my god I am sick with your words mary you cut right to the point and present your poems as is you are some dark cryptic grave the shell that breaks open to reveal the lifeseed sprouting

In each of us!

If I can tell you anything tonight through my words

It is that the creative spark is in each of us

Did you hear me

It is not relegated to any one other than you tied up in your very same flesh

You amid the mud and pinnings of culture and ways we do this around here

If I could give you just one glimpse of the nature within

One waft for your glorious sniffer of the scent of freedom

If I could cast a little light on your trail right night

Your trail which is your very own which is your vewy own

How can I say again what cannot be said

Only felt

A  felt sence so I bring attention to it now

I call from the top of the mountains are you listening

Bring your self forth

Bring your self forth

lost & found of the soul: finding true center

thanks to this daily post for the prompt!

 

lost & found

sometimes when things are lost, it allows us to more easily find something else. sometimes when i lose my fear and aversion to discomfort, i find my true strength. sometimes i lose my knack for “people-pleasing” and i am more able to find my true voice and move from my true center, unafraid of how others perceive me or my life. sometimes when i lose something, i am not lost at all, but rather am more found, by myself. sometimes when i lose friends or we drift away, it is not because i have done something, but because i am moving closer to my self, my real purpose and the relationship no longer fits into my life. sometimes in my commitment to truth, i must withstand loss. sometimes it can hurt to lose things, but what i find when they are gone is greater than the loss.

sometimes i must lose in order to find.

this teaches that loss, too, can be a gift.

dreaming in the warehouse, my mother’s strength

post inspiration via daily post


 

you are there, mom. the room is huge & cavernous. we are a in a warehouse & as soon as the dream starts i know that i have been there before, in these circumstances. it reminds me of the huge carved-out warehouses i played soccer in during my youth. the metal curvy side-walls, the football field sized floor stretching from one end to the other. cavernous.

only this time, people aren’t running around chasing a ball. the warehouse is sparse & suddenly a lion jumps in from the forest outside. chased by a puma / leopard. followed by a lumbering bear. at first the animals are focused on each other. their huge, powerful bodies collide with one another in fighting dances. my mother & i and a handful of other people crowd to the corners as the predators bat one another with huge claws & snarl and snap their sharp teeth. the bear’s roar echos through the warehouse and my whole body shakes with the thunder of its reverberations.

i am so scared. i inch along the walls trying not to be seen. for some reason, i have to stay in this warehouse and keep moving around while i am within it. i feel watched by the predators as i move. my body now palpably shakes as i edge around the perimeter. my breath is short & i feel sick to my stomach.

there are hyenas now, taunting & mocking us humans in the room. they are laughing at us & the bear, with one strong paw, swipes their laughing faces across the room. i lose the breath from within me & i am overtaken by nervousness. these are powerful creatures and i am probably going to get eaten.

and then, as i am edging around nervously, afraid to be seen, i am faced with the most curious aspect of all. suddenly i am seated behind my mother who is sitting cross legged like an astute yogi only 3 feet from a seated lioness. they are looking one another in the eye. my mother says nothing as she and the lion are rapt in shared gaze. from this, her silent example, i intuit that even if i am afraid, to survive this wild warehouse experience, i must reveal no sign of my fear.

like the good yogini she is, my mother looks as if she is unbothered, unfazed in the face of the lion. she is as powerful as these predators, i think. and they have nothing on her as she squarely faces them, unafrai. i am still trembling, but i admire my mother sitting there regally & triumphantly.


 

a few days later i tell my mom about the dream. she listens fascinated as the dream unfolds. as i finish she says, “wow, i consider it a compliment that you think of me as that confident.”

is it the tigers, lions, bears & jesting hyenas that demand my fearful response? or is it, is life’s stage, as the dream appears, an illusory mirror dictated by and responding to my behavior toward it?


 

soon after, the animals jump out of the windows back into the woods. i see them tackling one another ferociously, careening past trees and into the hollers. i feel so relieved that these powerful beasts are now playing with one another again. i sink back into my body & breathe a sigh of relief. i am safe again, unscathed. alive to live another day.

a fresh wind moves in: letting go of the angst

Today as i walked the loop by my parent’s house it was palpably a different experience for me. We moved into this house from a fish-bowl neighborhood, where everyone is competing with each other & can literally see into each other’s homes to know what they’re competing on. One of my friends growing up – her dad was a basketball star on our state’s NBA team & i used to play in the lake, others were my wild soccer team members (lots of stories to share about that!), and others were children with lame mothers who didn’t enjoy it when i would invite their daughters to play in the ice with me- so what if our feet got caught as we tromped around the icy stream beds? we were on an adventure! but i digress..

We moved here and it was spacious & surrounded by farm fields and the occasional farm house (which pretty soon got torn down as little box neighborhoods, as i call them, were popping up in their place). Good bye corn & soybeans, Hello plastic siding & same-looking boxes with same landscaping for people to live in! Everyone gets their little mortgaged square of bland, colorless earth around here. At the time, i was a very active young one – playing sports in every season, hanging out with friends, making out with my boyfriends in the basement. It was a time i look back on as being so outwardly-focused. But sometimes in my room, especially at night, i would feel this hungering ache. I would write poetry to my boyfriends or write in my journal to God. I read Edna St Vincent Millay. I wondered what it would be like to live an artist’s life and i hungered. It was a hungering ache i didn’t understand & it made me feel very very alone & misunderstood. While on the outside, perhaps everyone would’ve said, well, that girl had such a great, well-liked high school situation – and, in so many ways they were right – but there was so much uncharted territory, so much of myself, left unaddressed and, well, neglected. The plastic siding & homogeneity only made it worse.

They tore down the farmhouse i could see from my bedroom window – and the one across the street too, where my sister & i would dare one another to sneak into the old, falling-apart, creaky barn & where i got the then-wild asparagus & transplanted it into the garden. The neighborhood seemed to magnify this ache that i had. The homogeneity was excruciatingly painful. I saw it as a place with no character. Without soul. Filled with slaves disguised as people who take out mortgages & listen to everything the local news says. A place where people live in fear & do not think for themselves.

My inner life was relatively untapped while in high school. My inner learnings were to unleash themselves/i was to open up a few years later as i faced certain struggles like death, injury, desire & ways of life different than the ones i’d known growing up. Since this homogenous neighborhood experience & many seekings of character, art, ingenuity, individuality & ram-shackledness later, i am pleasantly surprised today as i go on an evening walk and feel peace as i look around at the surroundings, the plastic siding, the boxes, the manicured lawns.

Suddenly, my judgment or perspective of the place was not holding me back from enjoying my little moment in nature, my walk on the concrete loop in the subdivision’s flood plane turned into nature trail (i’m sure you’ve seen one of these places – a little forest, prairie, wetland nook in an area unbuildable for homes within a subdivision). The prevalence of non-native, “invasive” species didn’t bother me. The cotton woods were beautiful, as were the red-breasted black birds and the shrubby legumes were so prevalent & taking back that landscape, fixing nitrogen into it, so well! The sky had just rained & big grey billowing clouds were still turning above me. I felt like a witch as i harmonized with my surroundings, taking step by step, recollecting & embodying the walking meditation i had taken part in the week before at the prison meditation. Perhaps it was seeing some of the horrible natural devastation in Peru just a few months prior that gave me this perspective. The clear-cutting of the amazingly diverse amazonian rainforests into vast deserted land. The pollution near rivers & in cities. Perhaps it was this perspective which more easily allowed me to “let-go” of my previous hold on hating & judging & disdaining this young adult habitat of mine. Perhaps there’s something in this week’s astrology (I think so), which eased this transition for me. Or perhaps, this wound has finally dislodged in a deeper way within me & i have found peace here from within my earlier surroundings which beckoned so much pain, angst & aching. So many questions. So many existential crises.

And today on the walk, they felt transcendentally resolved. I felt finished with them. I was there, in this same place i have been so many times before, in so many moods and i felt … peace. simply put … peace. And that release brought happiness and gratitude.

natal dispositions on being human: what’s our genetic blueprint??

When were humans a part of the earth? I look at the squirrel here in the tree. A creature who eats nuts, climbs trees, buries nuts and seeds, sometimes forgetting them resulting in more trees growing from those seeds. The squirrel is a creature of its place, within the limits of its place & still geared there. What of the human? Has the human grown so far past the limits of its place as to not be of any place any longer, beyond those of its own creation like cities? Has the human, as a species, outgrown its limits? What influenced the human to become this way?

I watched a program the other night wherein a naturalist imprinted some just-born wild turkeys into believing he was their mother. As he walked around the forest with these turkeys throughout the first year of their life, he realized that they had a perfect genetic blueprint for the forest. They knew which animals to stay away from, which bugs to eat and when it was time to roost and, finally, leave the nest. From within, as if by a genetic clock, these animals knew inherently how to be an intimate, connected part of their place. And the world is richer for their presence.

Thinking of the genetic blueprint of the wild turkey which from within teaches it, inclines it toward its indigenous & connected, innate behaviors, I wonder what the genetic blueprint of the human is. What are humans naturally inclined toward, if anything? Are we naturally tribal species, looking to form social bonds, mating & living within community? Do we naturally tend and search for food and shelter, while managing and changing our external environment? Is there some genetic blueprint which causes us to do anything? Do we even have a same genetic blueprint, or throughout the span of evolution have we lost our wild innate characteristics becoming more influenced by social norms and external cultural trends?

The age of industry, petroleum & coal, extraordinary resource extraction and ultimately technology, which is supported through mineral extraction worldwide, have resultantly shifted our original behaviors as earth-connected indigenous groups into rootless, trending-toward-homogenous, global species. Work can be done & connections can be made faster. Food can be found at grocery stores. Water comes out of a tap and anything can be bought through an intangible and global webbing service called the internet. Something from one end of the globe can be had from the other end of the globe in a day’s time if you have the money and desire for it. Indigenous groups all over which do still exist have slowly been trampled and their land and customs exploited, erased or forgotten worldwide. These groups, which used to populate the whole earth, in this forgetting, are typically powerless toward this global homogenous dominating culture which controls the news and media which informs people’s ideas so many times the majority of people have no idea what is going on as a result of the spread of the culture of which they are a part.  It is my theory that human culture, rather than any innate biological blueprint exisiting within humans, influences and finally dominates human behavior.

Take an orphaned baby from China, for example. Perhaps this baby’s specific genetic blueprint dates back for the past 5,000 years within China. The baby’s grandparents for the past 20 generations have been Chinese. Yet, take this baby, which is adopted into the United States, and see if it behaves any differently than any other children also growing up in its same culture. In most cases, the child will on the outside look Chinese, but from within, will be from the United States. No lingering behaviors from China readily show themselves. The pattern of Chinese culture is not carried over with the child innately from birth. This seems to point to the fact that human culture holds so much sway that it is the most dominate behavioral factor in human action and thought.

I can also attest to this as I have stepped out of the mainstream human culture from which I grew. With each step, I faced external challenges which threatened or retaliated against me if I broke sacred cultural norms and internal props that had been set up within me perpetuating and regulating the culture’s continuance. Racial and other forms of discrimination, stereotyping, trends, news media all of these things are arms of the traveling culture, which is basically like an imprint from outside that forms inside of people as it influences and dictates behavior, thought & action.

And yet within myself, I do feel something rising that I would call my innate blueprint – whether from my physical genes or from my soul. It is the thing which I have been following all of these years- following past the gates of popular culture into a realm of individual arising. Sometimes I call it my soul-path, but, and this is the interesting part, even though I am following something from within, as I follow it, I find other people who are also following something from inside themselves and we seem to be on the similar paths.

This is a contingent of people who have earth-values, who see the things of the earth as inherently valuable and see past the façade of the mainstream dominator culture, which often exploits and neglects the earth. Mainstream values hold no sway over this contingent and it is with these people who come in all shapes & sizes & colors & professions that I feel an innate sense of tribe, of togetherness, of natural joining. If humans do have an innate genetic blueprint, I would name it as this: that we are all naturally indigenous (of a place) and that our innate desire is to care for this place, to tend it, be creative within it and to form community. That we desire what is good together and what is good for all of us, rather than searching for individual gain. That we care about the state of the earth, that there are wild lands and lands that are cultivated by humans so that we can have what we need. It is shaped inherently by an ethic of care and perpetuated and shaped by place-ness.

It’s curious to me that people of the earth can be so blind and, if not blind, still perpetuating actions which cause so much harm. I understand the cycle is hard to step out of, but it still surprises, shocks, angers, saddens me that this is the case. On this little piece of earth that I’ve recently joined here in the Appalachian mountains, as I till the soil and plant seeds and drink from pure creek, I feel a sense of peace in my own action, yet I still wonder at the rest of the earth, at the world and where it’s headed. And this leads me to think of our natural inclinations. Is culture the dominating force and, if so, how can we help each other shift it along when ideas and ways of being tend to be the things most heavily “set in their ways”? It’s imperative that we start caring for water & air & reducing our consumption while creatively interacting with each other and our environments. How do you see our innate characteristics? What, if anything, is our genetic blueprint pointing us toward?

Writing as Healing: Life’s Lesson in the Death of My Grandmother

Why, when I sit down without an intention do I often start to write about my grandmother? Why, when sitting before an indigenous shaman in Peru does she tell me that my grandmother’s spirit is sitting beside me, that she looks sad & that in order for me to move on in my life, I’ll need to heal the relationship, to release her? Why is the relationship unhealed and, if this is true, how can I heal it? I asked the shaman that night, Why is she sad? How can I heal it? And she told me to love my grandmother. To talk to her & listen. I’ve tried praying to and talking to her. Listening. Sending her love. I think she’s getting it. But what’s the next step?

My grandmother had finished a story shortly before she unexpectedly died one weekend with a carrot in her hand sitting in her favorite chair. Sudden death, they say. We didn’t do an autopsy. She’d already had cancer twice plus lived with diabetes. She’s dead, my family decided, we don’t need to know how or why. One of her best friends, Sylvia, whom I’d met a couple months prior, told my mom at the funeral that she thought my grandmother passed on because she had felt like her life was complete after I’d been living with her for 3 months. She’d really enjoyed that time with her granddaughter, she said. Sylvia thought she’d felt fulfilled and that’s why she passed on. But the story I found written by my grandmother wasn’t a story of fulfillment. Not to me. I read it shortly after her death, finding it in her documents on her computer. And the conversation we had the week before she died certainly didn’t speak of ultimate completeness, as Sylvia supposed. No, a week before she died, my grandmother and I had had a talk about things she still wanted to do before she died.

We sat in her front room library with the looming bookshelves & wood-panneled walls. The same living room I played in as a baby. The same living room I walked into each day as I returned from university to find her sometimes sitting on the couch watching soap operas, QVC or odd news channels. It was evening and we were having a deep talk, which shouldn’t be surprising given both my grandmother and I are deep-thinkers, but it was rare for us, nevertheless. She told me how she wanted to go sky-diving, maybe travel more, and smoke marijuana, which gave me quite a laugh. Being raised in a conservative, Christian environment and being a elite athlete up to that point, I hadn’t smoked marijuana either, though many of my friends did, so I promised to get us some so that we could smoke for the first time together. Grandmother & Granddaughter, meet Marijuana. Perfect scenario for my coming-of-age-rebellion, finally.

But she didn’t last long enough for me to secure some pot & bring it home to share in that same wood-paneled room. She died suddenly that weekend. And I was heartbroken. My life felt ripped from within. For the first time in my life, I knew loss. I remember going into the bathroom still smelling her, mesmerized by her night-shirt & towel still hanging on the shower rod. It would all soon be washed. The leftovers in the fridge all soon tossed. As I wrote that day,

pretty soon your towel will be removed from the shower curtain, the clothes you folded for me will be worn, your leftovers from Saturday (the pasta that made you so happy) will be in the trash. in fact, your grandma smell is already gone. your dentures are gone, your food will be eaten and junk mail will accumulate in your inbox. life is growing fast over you like a wilting flower in an overgrown wood. your memory lingers, but we all know it will get choked out in time. thank you for your life. you have left fingerprints of love on our hearts.

It was all too much and I had finals that week. My pseudo-boyfriend at the time, kind-hearted soul that he is, came down, basically took a week off from school (impossible feat in finals time, yet he did) and laid in bed with me. I had never known depression before. I had never known an off-beat or a low moment. But that was all to change after this.

I began to question life deeply. A growing existential dilemma had been rising within me since entering college and being inundated with lifestyles unfamiliar to me. I began to question why I did the things I did. Why go to church? Why listen to the social code and keep my hair a certain way? Why not date women, smoke marijuana, eat mushrooms, dress how I wanted? The list goes on and somehow my grandmother’s death would be the catalyst to push me into jumping off the precipice of the known, of my safe & standard life, into the gorge of chaos.

Looking back, I should have gotten out of the house. My mom offered to help me pay rent elsewhere, but I insisted on saving money so I stayed there and got a few roommates. Slowly we cleaned out the closets. Found hoards of QVC jewelry, purses, hand gloves, much of it never worn. I smoked marijuana & made weed tea and was stoned for an entire weekend in her home. Convening with my grandmother’s spirit- we were going to try weed for the first time together- I would say for years afterward. I was going through a hard time and mostly did so in the privacy of my own mind. It was rough- feeling all of the existential questions ramble & roar at me as the foundations of my life as I’d known it up to that point crumbled and fell down. Truly the questions I came here with as a young soul came to the fore, full-bore- Why are we here? Who am I? Who made God? What is going on here?

I wondered why my grandmother had left me. Why no one else seemed to be puzzled over these questions as I was- haunted by them, even. Why everyone was just going on with life- humpty dum, living so superficially & unquestioningly, I thought at the time. I read a lot of Kafka, Mary Oliver, Denise Levertov… I studied philosophy and talked about it with nary a soul. I wrote a private journal and pined.

Well, I eventually pined. In the beginning, as was the custom in my family, I pushed the grief of her death aside. I went on with my life. I pushed myself to do the things I had signed up to do. A new semester started and I was taking part in an Adventure Leadership Training with 18 other students. Looking back, I should’ve gotten help. I should’ve talked with someone, expressed my pain & questions. But I didn’t. I charged ahead and eventually worked them out on my own and with friends over time as I gently opened up through the years.

This was one of the most challenging times in my life. I remember feeling so alone. I was grieving and I gave myself no space for it. I was grieving and I didn’t even know the word. I wrote,

This death and emotional fragility, all this baggage makes me want to cry out for truth or else not talk at all. It makes me want to be a saint or else drink too much and fuck. 
It’s hard to say what exactly I am feeling. 
I haven’t talked about it; I haven’t told myself.
I want time and silence to heal me, along with wandering and mountains.

It’s cathartic now as I write. I have talked about this with a lot of people, but I haven’t written about it full-swoop as I am doing now. I haven’t dug in and really faced it as I am doing now.

I still remember when I got the call from my mother. I was in the library, looking for a book for research, high up on the 9th floor when I got the call. My mom called, I answered, whispering hello into the line as softly as I could. When all I got back was silence and the struggling voice eking out from my mother on the other end, I knew something was wrong. What’s wrong, Mom, is everything ok? I stammered, increasingly getting worried. Mom’s dead, is all she said on the other line. I started shrieking in the library. My mom said, We’re all coming to the house now. We’ll be there in 45 minutes. Are you okay? I told her I’d be fine. We hung up and I felt like I was in a bleary dream.

It was winter, December in Indiana and the snows had just begun. I was about an hour’s walk from the house, so I started walking instead of taking the bus. I was shocked and confused and numbed. I don’t remember walking home. I remember sobbing, dazed, as I meandered the streets to the south side of town to my grandmother’s house. I remember getting there into that front wood-paneled room where my mom and dad, sister and aunt and uncle were sitting. I remember everyone staring at me silently, first waiting for some sign from me on how to act. They knew I would be taking it hard- but how hard? She was living with her at the time, they must’ve all been thinking. Everyone was sobbing or stone-faced and my mom enveloped me.

I don’t remember many details of that time. I just remember my disbelief. The sunken feeling that something was lost that I didn’t expect to be and I couldn’t get it back. I couldn’t have her back to tell her how much I loved her. To have the conversations I really wished I could have with her. To smoke MJ or go sky-diving, or watch each other grow more over the next few years. She was one of my greatest encouragers. She was maybe my main soul-mate in the family, understanding me deeply with even one look. What was I to do without her? What was I to do without her?

My grandmother was a daring woman. A woman of courage, keen insight, a soft, warming presence complemented with a jovial chuckle and wily sense of humor. She hugged me too tight and long as I child; I always thought I would suffocate. She had sharp, long claws that she would pinch my arm with and scratch me and laugh. She cared about justice and had an open mind. She faced a lot of pain early in her life and had health issues throughout which she also dealt with squarely. She was intelligent and hard-working, and, though I gather that she wasn’t the most nurturing or communicative of mothers at times, I know she did her best for her family.

While I lived with her, we went over some of the special moments from her life. She was an editor for a technology magazine, having gone back to school later in life to fulfill one of her personal dreams. She got to interview Mr. Rogers, Captain Kangaroo, One of the Kennedy’s and many more, though I can’t remember them now. She loved literature and corresponded with Thomas Wolfe, one of her favorite authors. After she died, we found a letter to her from him stating that he didn’t think his career would’ve been the same without their correspondence.

As I said, she was a sharp, smart lady and an astute encourager. She knew brilliance and would rave about intelligent things she had picked up. I feel sad that she lived most of her later life alone. My grandfather, her husband, who I never met, ran around town with young women and my grandma was one of the last to know. I think this wounded her greatly and she never really had any other romances or close, intimate relationships after they divorced and he died. It must’ve torn her up to be betrayed and lied to. I can only imagine. I feel for my grandmother in this regard, and when I recently read the short story she had written and saved on her hard drive some time before her unbidden death, I had a wider perspective on what she might’ve experienced as a cloistered, unfulfilled woman in the mid-century.

The story (attached below: Ruth & Harold) was all about the bland & repetitive existence of a housewife with a disconnected & drab, yet faithful husband. The story delves into the housewife’s un-lived fantasies, how she feels essentially unknown and ignored by her husband. In the end, she kills herself in the bathtub after paying all the bills 3 months out, cleaning the entire house and writing a telling note to her husband with directions he should follow in his life & her reasons for leaving. She was unfilled and unseen, plain and simple. When I read that, I felt like fighting for my grandmother. If she was here, I would’ve demanded that she stand up and seek out a better life for herself.

Over time, I’ve realized that in many ways my grandmother did seek out better ways of life for herself and that perhaps she just didn’t have the energy or wherewithal to address this one. It has certainly given me fuel to make sure that I don’t end up this way, feeling ultimately unheard, unsatisfied and unnoticed in my relationships. Per usual, the mistakes (for lack of a better word) of our ancestors can lead us forward into choosing better lives for ourselves.

When the Shaman-lady in Peru told me that my grandmother was very sad and that I needed to heal it, I didn’t know what to do, but I knew immediately that it was true. There is a deep sadness in the life that has things left undone in it. There is great sadness if a person even metaphorically (through a story) kills herself because she has never been seen, gotten to live out certain fantasies, hasn’t truly related to a person and been known for the beautiful, amazing, multi-dimensional soul that she is. My grandmother deserved this! Just as we all do. In some way, me living my life well, as best as I can, is an offering of hope, of healing that in some way my grandmother’s life is redeemed. I don’t know if this is the right thing to do, but it seems to have happened naturally in the process of responding to my grandmother’s life/death, using it as a catalyst for greater life & growth in my own life.

My grandmother did not die in vain. She may have left before we were all ready for her to go, but her life leaves a legacy for me in so many ways. She loves me greatly and this empowers me. I also know that I might not have stepped out on a limb in my life so early and so fiercely if I wasn’t propelled by her timely death and the talk we had a week before she died.  Writing this now, I feel how my grandmother’s life pressed upon my own. She touched my life, as the saying goes, whether or not she intended to in this way.

Her life, in its entirety, created a foundation early in mine that I would not live hidden, wounded, unsatisfied or waiting. Something within her death handed me the keys of release from the cage of the social code, of playing it safe. She unlocked the huge container of What if that I had collected already in my lifetime. Now it is time for me to move on. Ultimately, I must move on because, even though I am influenced greatly by my grandmother and her life, I must live my own life. Her life & death has run its course through me like a storm- at times silent, at times rambunctious, but certainly changing things: ripping out old growth, shedding light and watering new life. If we are really here as souls having a human experience, which I believe we are, what an important thing for my grandmother to have done for me- Effectively, she pushed me past the bullshit of What will others think into my very own soul path.

Her death ripped away the illusory facade of life and made me get to the core of my life early, before doing 30 years in the “work-force” and having a family. I had an expedited life-crisis due to her death. Had to go through hell at the time, yet looking through it all, I’m so thankful I’ve put this work at the forefront of my life. I am a cleaner, purer me than before her death. I am aligned with my life and I know the tools to implement, the steps to take if I get off-course in some way. My grandmother’s passing on gave me the right to pass on so many of the short-changing ruts of the human experience. She lit a fire under my butt that said, Don’t wait! Deal with your shit! Live! Become! Try! Her words echo in Mary Olivers poem, The Summer Day:

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

 

It might’ve felt to me that my grandmother left us all too soon. That I’d like to talk with her now, tell her about all my adventures, tell her how I have lived and loved and tried desperately to learn from the lesson of her death and that I have succeeded. Some people teach us their greatest lessons in their leaving. This is the way my grandmother taught me. Her lesson for me reverberates in all eternity. And I am thankful for her soul and pray for its peace & release.

Love you Grandma….Gram….

Mardell Jefferson Raney, younger years

Mardell Jefferson Raney, younger years

Gram n Me readin'

Gram n Me readin’

Gram with my sister, Erin

Gram with my sister, Erin

Ruth and Harold, the story I found in my grandmother’s files. I realize it’s graphic, but I feel it’s a common sentiment from her generation of women and I’d like to share it. So that, in some way, her words and pain and feelings are known, released & composted so that only beauty remains. Because, ultimately, I believe that the telling of our stories can bring peace & healing.

union of archetypes: great whore meets the forsaken feminine

detail of a goddess moon bag from our etsy store: www.etsy.com/shop/entercambio

detail of a goddess 3 moon bag from our etsy store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/entercambio

i believe we are creatures of balance and naturally are attracted to that which we believe will further complement us. as rumi says in this poem:

God’s wisdom made us lovers of one another.
In fact all particles of the world
are in love and looking for lovers.

and

A thirsty man calls out, ‘Delcious water,
where are you?’ while the water moans,
‘Where is the water drinker?’

This morning I woke up with images of the whore archetype and a longing for connection with this part of myself. As it goes on the earth plane, sometimes things can get confusing due to us all being from one source, yet simultaneously in separate bodies. We have full potential to embody everything in the universe, yet the nature of our individual identities means that we only express parts at a time, instead of the whole. So oftentimes we go looking for complementary parts or balancing characters which exist in forms outside of ourselves instead of uniting ourselves whole from within. I’m not saying there is no point in relationship and we should be ultimately whole within ourselves and alone, but that awareness is key in developing relationships and it can be helpful (wholesome) to be aware of projecting characteristics that are possible for us to embody onto other people (whether praise or judgment).

So I awoke this morning with a longing for the whore, a desire to be united with her. In particular, a feeling of a girl I dated for a hot second who magnifies the symbolism of this energy in my consciousness actually played in my mind. And if you’re interested in reading more about symbolic/realistic/spiritual writings on sex from me, including more in-depth poetics of my experiences, you may be interested in purhcasing Earthy, a chapbook I self-published on 12.21.12. I still have a handful of copies available here.

I have been reading The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock (she writes from a similar space as Jung & Campbell per the Hero’s Journey from a feminist perspective) and have been further enlightened/surprised at the manifestation of the prizing of the masculine over the feminine- even amid women. How women, like men, are encouraged to more fully embrace the masculine and have no balance of the feminine within themselves and how this is often rewarded in our culture, though it costs the woman a separation from herself. Feminine aspects such as nurturance, relationship building, cooperation, creativity often drop off the plane of crucial life-skills. Along with this often goes wild sexuality because this is an uncontrollable (therefore scary & unknowable) aspect of the feminine which has no place in a (approved, above-ground) masculine world. The book is enlightening and essential to understanding the development of our culture. How women are joining and rising to the top of the culturally sanctioned work-force but oftentimes do so by denying and forsaking their feminine nature.

This brings me back to the whore. If masculinity triumphs by doing away with the feminine and only has anything to do with it if it fits nicely into the sanctioned box, what about the whore? Yes, she is still attractive as ever, but within an anti-feminine, sexuality-safe-and-in-a-box perspective, she is relegated to the dark corners of the night. She is hidden & secret. The whore, naturally, is the aspect of femininity which is longed-for but hardly spoken of in the light of day. She is the at-night, dark-alley, secret-shhh, oh-god-i-want-it-so-bad-but-don’t-tell-anyone, luscious and plump aspect of female sexuality and sexuality in general that gives and gives and gives. She is pleasurable, unruly, boundless. And laughing. She is powerful.

It was this image I woke up to. To me, the whore is plump & fecund. She is everything the boxed-in female isn’t. She is loud & voluptuous, uproarious. She laughs in your face & sits at her make-up stand drinking a glass of chardonnay. She is cozy to me in her proportions and so generous. In her essence, the whore is generosity with knowledge of her own power. She is everything the scant, quiet, enslaved, ashamed aspect of femininity isn’t. She represents life and her cunt is open & inviting, beckoning.

As I read The Heroine’s Journey, I am shocked at the way pieces come together. It’s not that “men are bad” or inherently evil. And women certainly aren’t either, especially sexually. It’s that the archetypal dichotomy of feminine/masculine has long been tipped in favor of masculinity, that drive it home, push, aggressive, dominant, possessive, be strong, overpowering part. It’s that the nature of femininity has been naturally devalued in the face of a culture where outwardly one has to conform to the above-mentioned principles or else is trampled, forgotten, exploited or silenced. It’s not that men and women are only masculine or feminine, but that the feminine parts of ourselves have been devalued, pushed under and scared into submission, and, in a masculinity-dominated context, serve no primary function besides that of submissive counterpart. Archetypally, all of facets of our collective being exist, yet parts get hidden in the face of What Counts culturally. In the competitive game of survival, which our capitalistic economy is based on, the feminine aspect, which is an integral part of our evolution as mammals who live in community, nurture one another and cooperate to survive, is a subservient counterpart to the championed masculinity.

This is where the whore comes in. Oh she has not left us! But she does hold a place in the psyche that we wouldn’t bring over to show grandma or proudly champion in front of our bosses or children. The whore is the uniting aspect of the feminine that we need right now. She represents the extreme archetype to bring the boxed-in, silenced, emaciated, sexually-kept, acceptable feminine into harmony. For me, imagining the soft curves of my whore archetype~ the way she is so generous and open and affable, the way she expands in her freedom with a sense of humor and also is beautiful and regal and no, not perfect, but full. The way she gives and gives and gives helps me to come to more peace with my own femininity, with my own being and self. By accepting what she represents to me, I become more whole. No longer hidden, her brazenness to be herself, to be soft, to be BIG & in-her-power, to be SEXXXXY complements, fulfills and satisfies my image of woman and helps me grow.

i’m curious, what’s are your thoughts on your relationship with the whore archetype?