Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Making a bead

April marks the time when my heart turns to the desert, and I remember the four years I spent as a student of Martin Prechtel in New Mexico at his school of never-before-seen things. My experiences were intense and life-changing, and one of my deepest learnings was about making a bead. In this story of the Elder tree month card from the Journey Oracle deck, the butterflies are all of nature; the Holy who yearn for us to feed them the beauty made by our hands and voices.

There was a child who so loved butterflies that she wanted to make them a gift. She felt communication without words when she was near one, like a coming into power. Her mother suggested she make a bead to give and that in doing so she would discover the secret of something, a knowledge that cannot be out there, and this knowing would be the gift that the butterflies would most like to have from her.

“But what material shall I use? I don’t want to be a death bringer to wood or bone,” the girl said. “I’ll use an empty shell,” she thought. “This will be no harsh look at reality because the creature will have already left.” And so the girl found a shell and chipped and sanded it with a rock until a circular shape appeared. “But now the fairy tale’s over,” she realized, “now I must be doing the work to make the hole.”

The girl looked for shards amid a scattered focus of rock rubble, like seeing horns of stone that would be able to pierce without breaking the shell. She began twirling a sharp piece into the center of the shell circle, and felt her inner tension clearing, like she was going to a new place in how she used her hands. This twirling took a long time; the layers of shell were like hard news that does not want to be forgotten. Yet finally the girl felt a little tickle against her finger, the way butterfly feet tickle when one was walking on her hand. A hole appeared!

“This is the secret my Mother told me about,” she exclaimed. “A bead is not something that surrounds a hole; a bead is the hole with something surrounding it so it can still be seen. I am giving the butterflies something invisible.” Then the girl looked at her sore fingers, dented from all the twirling. “Maybe this is the knowledge from making a bead that cannot be out there—that the butterflies want the gift of my effort, more than the thing my effort makes.”