Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Journey in Strange Territory #1

Sometimes when we think we are going to visit one thing, something entirely other appears. Ten years ago I received a call from a friend with a strange story. She had gone to Mexico to witness a ceremony, and had taken one of my rattles to carry in her pocket for well-being. Many dramatic things happened, and on the morning of her last day in the mountains she was walking along a stream when she heard in her head, “take that to Kristen.” She saw a piece of cotton thread twined into the brush, and in a little natural cup of muddy water—a small blue marble. “How odd,” she thought, but dutifully put the two in her pocket. What became of the string is another story; this is the story of the blue marble.

I received these gifts with a great sense of portent. This friend is deeply psychic and when her guidance says something, I listen carefully. She mentioned the water, and suggested perhaps the marble wanted to live in something made of clay, perhaps in water. I filled a small earthenware jar with rainwater and plunked in the marble.

A short time later, at a drum-making workshop, a participant brought me the gift of a book titled Sastun: My Apprenticeship with a Maya Healer by Rosita Arvigo. I was distracted by the work at hand, and put the book down on a table, from which it fell, opening to a photograph of two beautifully ancient hands: one holding a small clay jar and the other holding a marble. Every part of this world became quiet as if holding its breath to honor my revelation. I understood my friend had brought me a Sastun.

I read this book many, many times. On Friday nights I would swirl the marble in its jar, while singing and saying my prayer to Mother Mary nine times. I would then look at its surface where indeed I would see turquoise lights—sometimes moving boldly and sometimes flickering. But what did they mean? Never did I miss a Friday, even though I did not know for whom I was showing up.

I took the marble in its jar, tucked inside a sage filled pack, with me everywhere. While driving in the States one morning I saw a dog try and jump from the back of a truck, and then a hawk flew dramatically at the windscreen of my pickup. I turned back to watch the bird and saw that the lid had flown from the storage box. Upon stopping my worst dream came true: the pack containing the Sastun was missing; it was the only thing missing. Of course the hours spent looking turned up the shattered lid but not the little stone jar with a blue marble inside. I have never grieved a loss so deeply. I cried for what seemed like forever. I tormented myself with blame that if only I had been more careful, more disciplined, or more something—it would not have gone. Four years later I came to some peace by understanding that I did not make the Sastun come, so why did I think that I had made it go? And then I received an email from my friend who was traveling in Guatemala. “In Tikal…another marble.” was all it said.

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.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Waiting for the wind

Last week as my partner and I were heading out to work on our oyster lease in the Gorge Harbor on the west side of Cortes Island, I became agitated about a big wind storm that was forecast for our area. I became afraid to be at risk out on the water, yet I didn’t really know if I was going to be. A similiar situation is described in the Journey Oracle story written for the Blue Moon card, titled Waiting for the wind.

There was a man who decided not to go to work because he heard a blow was coming, because to go he had to cross the bay in a little boat, and of course it was dangerous to be on the water if the wind was up. He listened to a weather report that said the wind would rise at mid-morning, plus yesterday he’d spoken to some fisherman who said something was coming, and of course they should know since those men spent all their working days out in the elements.

He found himself watching expectantly out the window for the first signs of swaying tree tops that would become a roaring forest dancing to the wind’s wild tune, yet nothing but the occasional graceful shiver of breeze passed by. Still, it was dangerous to be caught out in a rising wind—better to be safe inside--especially since his life allowed him the independence to choose.

In his unexpected bounty of time the man took to watching the birds on the bay. At one point a flock of gulls rose in a keening wheel of flight but he did not know how to return to the source of their wisdom about the wind, other than to notice that they did not seem to be going inland as he heard birds do when a storm is coming. A pair of oystercatchers skimmed over a distant rock island, their shrill chattering seeming to say, “Aren’t I beautiful,” each to the other. He wasn’t sure, but no sound of alarm about impending bad weather seemed to fly along with their calls. The man watched clouds form and then pull apart like fibers being fluffed for weaving. He thought, “These are trying to trick me into knowing what reality is.” At some moments a blue glimpse would appear, and then be shrouded over in larger vaporous layers. He couldn’t be certain, but it seemed likely that the morning would stay bright and calm. Still, the man thought it was best to be safe, and so he kept waiting for the wind.

To me this story is about loosing access to the knowing that comes from the wisdom of watching nature, and therefore becoming uncertain about how to act. If this card story has resonance, ask yourself if there are situations in your life that began by starting late? Are you influenced by emptiness? Are your feelings about changing this special? Is an indication of your soul's progress a sensation of revelation? Is this revelation the kind that comes from watching the weather?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hardship averted

This card from the Journey Oracle deck is the image for fearn, the Celtic tree month named for Alder. Where I live in British Columbia, the swelling red-tinged catkins of the Alder trees are a first sign in early April that spring has truly come.

A new fawn looks out from the safety of a thicket, colored with the blush of a sun whose growing strength is warming new life. Yet the phrase that came to this card is hardship averted. This could be understood from two different perspectives. Even though we humans rejoice that spring is a time of rejuvenation, spring is also the hardest season—even more challenging than winter’s hardship. New life must win strength away from hunger—its own and everything else’s, from the wild sob and roar of spring storms, from loss of home and the greatest fear of all: loss of mother.

And yet the other understanding of this phrase is that hardship is averted. The sun does gather warmth. New life does survive. Something older and wiser keeps what is soft and fragile nourished and protected.

If this card has connection for you in your life now, are you honoring the effort you give to bring something through birth to first steps, and also honoring what you give to be a good mother to your creations: protecting yet allowing, guiding yet encouraging. Are there situations in your life where the prevailing energy is rising up? Is your perception of that energy streaked or flecked? Are you being influenced by tenacity? Is your soul's transformation empowered by knowing access is possible?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A safe place

As I look into the image of the August full moon card from the Journey Oracle deck, I first notice the eyes. While both are staring out to meet my gaze, only the right eye has sight. This right eye is surrounded by deep brown and intense red, with hatched and ragged lines defining its edges. The look is wary, perhaps alarmed, and certainly attentive. The line that extends from this eye defines both the nose and what seems like the spine of a book, before dropping into a tiny, square mouth. It seems the lower half of the face is a book, or is perhaps behind one. The right ear is small and set inside red flame-like shapes; intense purple, red, orange and yellow flow and cut across the face. What might be several fingers of one hand appear beneath the mouth; one possibly is raised in a gesture for silence.

What does this image show me about a safe place? This face does not look safe to me, yet it looks like someone who is paying attention. What does it mean to me to only see from my right eye? I understand the right to be my side of action in this world, because I am right handed. I understand the left to be my spirit side. Am I looking for safety only in this reality? Am I blind to being safe in the spirit realms? Is my seeking for safety in this world causing me alarm? Do I define my sense of safety from what I read, or the flaming words I hear, rather than from my knowing the scent and sound of what is truly dangerous? Does this tiny mouth mean that it is better to see than to speak? What do these intense, flowing colors mean to me? I understand red, orange and yellow to be the first three chakra colors. Caroline Myss writes that these represent the red root of our tribal connections to group and family, the orange vibration of our separation from them as we become a unique being, and the yellow energy of our personal power. These colors are edged by stripes of purple-violet. The right eye is also this intense purple. This is the color of the crown chakra that opens to our sense of the Divine. Is seeing spirit a way of being safe?

What I name something is the frame I look through when I see this thing. When I use someone else’s frame for naming what is safe, I allow my own discernment to atrophy. As Richard Louv says in his book Last Child in the Woods, Nature does not reward her creatures with safety; she equips them with attention. I create my own safe place by looking up from this sensory numbing modern life; and by paying attention rather than by being cautious.