Heart

When I was quite small, about two years old, Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy and their stories by Johnny Gruelle were among my favorites. My mom made me both of the dolls, and I was extremely happy with them until I found out — shock, horror — that Raggedy Ann had no heart!

In the stories, you must know, she had a candy heart. Back then (almost 80 years ago now) there were small sugary heart-shaped candies called “conversation hearts” that had messages like “I love you” or “Be mine” or similar sayings. Courting couples, among others, had a lot of fun with them. Raggedy Ann was supposed to have such a heart sewn inside her. It was what made her so good and loving — and different from her brother, who was much more mischievious and didn’t have such a heart himself. The heart was mentioned often in the stories.

So, of course, I felt her body expecting to find the small heart inside of her. Not being able to find it, I asked my mom to show me. “It would be too messy,” mom said. “It would melt when we have to wash her and she’d get all sticky.”

I knew that this was wrong thinking. She had to have a heart. I asked my Gran’pa for one of the candy hearts — he was that kind of a grandfather. He got me the candies, helpfully showing me which ones said “I love you” and read to me what the others said. I kept one of the I-love-yous and ate the rest, which made Gran’pa happy too.

At the first chance I had to get hold of the scissors, I poked a hole in her chest and pushed the little candy heart as deeply into her stuffing as I could. (I knew I wasn’t supposed to play with the scissors, but I wasn’t playing — I was working!) Unfortunately, after that Raggedy Ann started leaking stuffing. I kept tucking it back in, but I knew this was trouble. She had to be fixed. When I got a hole, I leaked too, and someone always put iodine and a bandage on me. (Living on a farm, there are a lot of opportunites for getting holes in yourself, even when you are little and there are five adults trying to keep track of you.)

I took Raggedy Ann to my mother, showed her the problem, and requested a bandage. She explained that she’d have to sew up the hole, and asked if I knew how it happened. I told her about the scissors and the candy heart. She already knew that even at two I had my own views about things and that I could be surprisingly stubborn. She explained again about the candy getting wet and messy and making Raggedy Ann sticky. She was poking around with her fingers, trying to get the heart back out.

I still remember taking the doll out of her hands and clutching her tightly to me, explaining that Raggedy Ann wanted to love people and she needed her heart to do it. She had to have her heart or she’d always be unhappy. When I remember of one of these ancient experiences, sometimes I’m surprised at how little I’ve changed. I suspect that all of us are born knowing a lot of wise stuff and it’s important that we get to have opportunites when we are young to affirm and reinforce it.

This is one of the rare things I remember from when we lived on the farm, but for some reason, I dreamed about it today and woke up sad and teary and angry with the world. I don’t remember if I had tears in my eyes way back then, but I had them this morning, and I have them again now. And I think of the children at the border being taken from the people who love them and having their hearts broken. I think of all of the children who get harmed in this society we humans have made.

I also think of something I realized in my years of practicing spiritual healing — right at their very core everyone needs and wants to love and be loving. It’s what we really are, no matter how hidden that core may be by experiences and hurts and betrayals. It’s always there. This is something mystics and some healers absolutely know, even more certainly than we know the sun will rise tomorrow. I suspect that ultimately, it’s the only part of us that is eternal.

Nature & True Nature

 

Years and years ago, when the Faeries’ Oracle first came out, I went to San Diego to show a small group of people how to krow* with the Oracle. Nice people! We had fun with the cards, and they found that they could be really helpful. As the last thing in the class, I asked each person to draw a card to tell them what the faeries wanted from them in the future — not a question we often think to ask. I don’t remember what anyone else drew mine was Unity because I was so blown away by the message I heard in my head as I looked at the Unity card.

We need you to save the world. Right now, humanity is standing on the edge of tipping into collective insanity. It could go either way, but the thing you must do to prevent this is to bring people back to nature. They must connect with Earthmother, with the trees, the stones, with all creatures, even each other, as well as all of the nature spirits and MamaNature herself. Most of all, they must remember to be their own True Nature.”

I was totally flummoxed and speechless. How could I possibly do that? Everyone? Humanity? All of it? I doubtfully told the voice, “I can’t do that! It’s far too big a job for any one person no matter how wise or capable that person is, and I’m certainly not anyone special at all!”

Don’t worry about that you’ve been working on it for years, but now it’s time for you to know the true purpose of the work you’ve been doing. Knowing how important this is will help you to stay in focus. You need to be conscious! You need to be Awake and Aware! Many other people are working toward the same purpose in their own way. You are far from alone. And of course, we’ll help if you invite us!”

That skittered around inside my head the rest of the evening, but I didn’t say anything about it to anyone. It sounded so… grandiose… as well as overwhelming. Who did they think I was anyway? Whoever they thought I might be, I knew I wasn’t.

I didn’t sleep soundly that night. My mind kept going in circles as well it might. And besides, I was flying home the next morning and had things to do before I went. I got up quite early and began packing, but it wasn’t long before my hosts knocked on my door, saying we needed to watch the television.

Have I mentioned the date? September 11, 2001. Yes, that morning.

Needless to say, I didn’t get on a plane that morning. In fact, it took a whole week for me to get home. As I watched the way that people behaved, how they responded to that event, how they (in many cases) cherished each other, were so kind and helpful to strangers, and then watched how we gradually fell apart again “going back to normal” I understood what the fae had been talking about.

Getting back to nature. Nature. MamaNature, Earthmother. Nature Spirits. Our Own True Nature. That.

There is, of course, the nature of blood, tooth, and claw, but there is also the choice of spirituality, blessing, and compassion.

I’ve only mentioned this to a very few people up to now, so why am I telling you today?

9-11… and then 11-9-2016 and that election. Yes. Which way did the scale tilt then? Toward MamaNature? Against her? And which way is it tilting now and how are we influencing it ourselves? Each one of us?

Some people might consider this to be a war. I do not! Greed, selfishness, and all of that is what causes war. And war begats war. Those are precisely the things that got us into the mess we’re in now. Taking things from others and even from EarthMother just so we can have more-more-more, so we can go faster and farther and have more stuff, much more stuff to sit in our closets and cupboards, to throw away, to create unbelievable piles of trash.

For all of us, our purpose in being in the world now, our mission, the thing we are meant to do is to make a simple choice. Either we choose to come to our own true nature, which is compassionate, or we choose to succumb to the fear that births greed and anger. This is the choice each of us has to make. No decision is irrevocable yet.

One more thing no choice is too small to count in one direction or another. Everything we do makes a difference one way or the other.

If we are going to opt for healing ourselves and the world, we must do it with joy and and kindness and gentleness, not anger nor greed nor fear.

Kindness.

Gentleness;

Generosity.

Compassion.

*Krow “work” playfully spelled backwords. A faery knackerty knotion about recognizing that the only difference between work and play is attitude. We forget that when we start to school before that, it is something we instinctively know. This too is something we need to know on our mission to save our world, each other, and ourselves.

Resolutions

This afternoon a friend asked me what resolutions I planned to make tonight for New Year’s Eve. I hadn’t even thought about that at all. I used to do quite elaborate things with lists and cards and runes and sewajus and write everything in notebooks — and probably never looked at them again. And this time, for the first time I could remember, I seemed not to be doing anything at all. How odd.

Without thinking, I said, “I’ve decided not to do any resolutions at all.”

“So, you’ve resolved not to make any resolutions, have you?”

“Right!”

“I remember you decided not to make any last year — and the year before.”

“Yes, but later I changed my mind and made them anyway. Then I forgot about them and when I remembered, I scolded myself for forgetting. So this time I really won’t do it at all.”

Later on in the evening, my phone rang. It was a pre-arranged call from my friend, Nancy, so we could do New Year’s Eve readings for each other as we usually do on the turning points of the year. I promptly forgot the whole resolution thing as we looked at where we each were now, what we wanted to leave behind us, and what we wanted to bring into our lives. (There may have been some sort of hints at resolutions there, but if there were, the word was never mentioned.)

At the end of the process, I drew a final card: What did O Universe want to tell us? Ilbe the Retriever turned up to say that he was keeping our old lost dreams and desires safe, and the time was coming very soon (like now!) when we would do well to bring them back into our lives to enjoy.

We talked about what those lost, forgotten dreams might be — Nancy’s had to do with music, mine with faery arts.

While we were discussing that, I remembered that another friend, John Logan, used to say that anything you learned after the age of 56 would become an inborn talent in your next life. We laughed about this, since the forgotten dreams were things we’d already planned to do well in our next lives.

Not resolutions — not at all. It’s the difference between “You must … !” and “Wouldn’t it be lovely to … ?”

I’m writing this book, you see…

Most of you know that I’m writing a book. Heaven knows I’ve made enough noise about it. I’ve written three books already, but this is different. Harder. Or if it isn’t actually more difficult, I’m more insecure about it. The first three books were about things I’ve been teaching for years and know, but this one is “fiction” — although I have to admit that that it feels like the story is already there and I’m just writing it down.

My first beta reader (who prefers to be anonymous) has commented a couple of times on the delightful slowness of the story and the wonderful world that Marzipan (main character) lives in and how he’d like to live there himself. Of course, that made me wonder if it was too slow, if it didn’t have enough action fast enough. The second reader definitely wanted it to move faster. So did I because I “knew” it “ought” to, but it just wasn’t happening.

What should have been the next bit with lots of action somehow just kept getting put off while the characters went on with their daily lives, caring for and about each other while we got to know them better. Finally, it had to be acknowledged that I just didn’t want bad things to happen to Marzipan! I just kept wanting her to be happy! Silly me… I told the first beta reader this, and he replied, “Actually, I’ll bet there are a lot of people who’d agree, and would be quite content if your book had no conflict. Especially with today’s conflicted world whirling around us.”

Reading this brought me to a total halt. YES! But…

All of the rules you hear about writing stories are against this. As we talked a bit more about it, we did realize that there was a difference between “conflict” and “danger” — but even so I found it difficult to make her unhappy or to let her get hurt. But I knew I had to have adventures for her. So I finally wrote the part where she gets frightened to bits. But this turned out rather like when I tried to make a tarot deck and the Lightning-Struck Tower kept being insipid instead of scary. Same problem.

However, having recognized the issue, I can do what I did then — do it over and over until it’s finally right. It doesn’t have to be rough and tough enough in my first try.

Today, while looking for something else, I happened across a Youtube video. Jon Favreau, President Obama’s speechwriter, was given the James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of the University College Dublin. He began with something very important, emphasizing how we are surrounded by “bad news” constantly. These are often things we can do nothing about — earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, climate change, seemingly endless wars, and all the rest of it. He went on to say that what we need is stories that give us hope so we won’t just fold up and die. Such stories are what give us the courage to keep trying to do our best.

Right away, I got this. What all these people have done is to give me the courage to go on, and hopefully, ultimately, I hope Marzipan’s story will indirectly help others to see that same hope in their own lives and have the courage to keep trying. When all we have is hope, it’s very important to hang on to it. This is no time to be a pessimist. So, I’m writing this story to show us how, hopefully, we can learn to be better and kinder to each other. There are small things each of us can do and attitudes we can hold that will help us make our own lives better. It may not save the world, but who knows what difference it actually will make?

And I suspect that these things may be the foundations on which we can build much bigger things that are solid enough to keep growing.

The video is at:

When I Was Queen In My Ain Countrie

I woke from a dream, hearing
myself say aloud, “When I was queen
in my ain countrie…” That was all;
nothing more. I later remembered
that someone in this world had said
that I needed a tiara for writing.

“A tiara,” she said, “marks off
the time and space in which you rule
as Creatrix. Some authors do like
to dress up, but I feel that a tiara is enough
to remind one of who one really is —
a tiara and a really good fountain pen.”

So I bought a sparkly tiara for me
and another for my granddaugher,
who was of an age — three, I think —
to really enjoy a tiara. I also bought
a nice pen. But I’m the only one I know
that makes so many typos with a pen.

I much prefer a computer and its quiet hum.
The tiara gave me headaches. It tangled
and pulled my hair. I was going to wind up
with a tiara that had more hair than I did.
So I made a tiara of my own design with
honeysuckle vine, leaves and crystals.

I would quite like a nice silk gown
with feathers and fur and bright gems —
yet the tiara and gown are not meant
for anyone but the cats and me to see.
Other people don’t need to know
who I really am as they pass by.

I have come to believe that there is
no Right Way — only the way that works.
For me, it’s to be a Queen in My Ain Countrie
in disguise, wearing an invisible tiara
and a transparent gown of royal blue silk velvet
with a pure white lace jabot and pristine lace cuffs.

I shall just wear ordinary clothes beneath
my invisible royal vestiments so courtiers passing by
won’t pester me as I create my ain countrie.

© 2018 Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

Harken, Listen, Pay Attention

Do you think you hear birds singing?
What if you’re hearing faeries?
What if they sing like skylarks,
like blackbirds or wrens?
What if they fly like eagles and owls
or cheeky sparrows or spotted towhees?

What if they are singing
for the caged and tear-gassed children?
What if they are singing
for the mothers who weep for their children?
What if they are singing
for the  fathers, helpless in the hands of the wicked?

Earth’s fae spirits know this is so wrong —
We are Earth’s children also —
why don’t we get it?

I mustn’t read the news before I try to sleep.
I mustn’t read the news before I try to eat.
If I must read the news (and really I must)
there must be a time to mourn after
and then strength to fight the battles.
Evil seems never to stop, never to give up.

What is it about humans
that so many of us must be
watched every moment?

Are we listening? Are we hearing
the faeries singing like birds —
like blackbirds and mournful owls
like wrens and eagles?
Do we harken at all?
Are we learning anything?


Photo: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Apparently not.

© 2018 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

What If…

What if
the Rapture came
in the middle of the night
and in the morning
we rejects went out to find
tinfoil hats
old zoot suits
straitjackets
worn red spike-heeled shoes
with one spike broken halfway?
Or a pair of red silk thongs
slung across
tinfoil underpants —
all scattered on the pavements?
Would we realize
from this strange detritus
that we are the crazy ones,
the lazy ones,
the ones that didn’t make it,
and that
what god/dess really wanted,
what s/he was growing in this world,
were the trippers, the daily
roller-coaster riders,
the wild-eyed ones
who wear their clothes backward,
the oddities, the ones who
can’t stop laughing,
the ones who walk
through the park, shouting,
“The locusts have stolen my honey!” —
the ones who never say, “Be safe!”
the ones who live
on the very edge of glory?

© 2018 Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

81 — Birthday Cake Bonfire

I cannot hear the gentle rain any more —
it has to come down hard on the roof
for me to hear it well,
but I can see it bouncing on the leaves
of the honeysuckle and the salal.

My world is quiet.

I’m slow — really slow —
and stumble on the forest paths.
There are bruises and scars
inside and out from mishaps —
sometimes I fall.

So far, I always get back up.

I don’t know if “over the hill
is better than under it.”
How could I know that?
But I do know I’m not finished yet.
I still have work to do.

Joy is in the doing.

Someone asked, would you live forever
if you could? How could I know that?
Eighty isn’t even a fraction of forever.
I’m still learning new things, and
I shall know when it’s time to go

dancing Home.

© 2018 by Jessica Macbeth 2018

Aislinn’s Ride

Gran’mama said, “Always live high on the mountain, and always wear something yellow, even if no one else can see it.” She said she learned that from a friend from the stars, and it had always served her well. Her friend, The One Who Came From The Stars In A Dream, didn’t say much, but she was always worth listening to when she spoke in her deep, deep voice like a bass viol.

(This story is going to have a lot of “shes” — I hope it doesn’t get too confusing. There is Aislinn, there is Gran’mama, there may also be Gran’ma Maple (I’m not sure about her part yet), and there is The One Who Came From The Stars In A Dream. The One Who Came From The Stars In A Dream is the one with the voice like a bass viol, and she came in Gran’mama’s dream so sometimes other people could see her and sometimes they could not. But she wasn’t hard to hear on the seldom occasions that she spoke.)

So Gran’mama lived high on the mountain — nobody lived higher. And Aislinn lived with her in the summer times. In the winter she lived in the valley with her parents and went to school, but she still always wore something yellow, even if it was something hidden. Oddly enough, it did make her feel better, even in the lowlands beneath the mountain where the blue of the sky seemed faded and far away like The One Who Came From The Stars In A Dream sometimes seemed.

Gran’ma Maple lived only part-way up, on the west side of the mountain, on a wide, wide ledge right beside the tarn. A tarn is like a very small lake or a very deep pond, and no one knew how deep this tarn was — people said it went down to the roots of the mountain — and deeper — but no one really knew. The Folk had stopped catching fish in it a long time ago — they were too unchancy-looking to eat anyway with their huge blind eyes, and it was noticed that those who caught them were never lucky after.

Gran’ma Maple stood beside the tarn. She had lived there since long before the folk came to the valley or Gran’mama had come up the mountain as a middle-aged widow woman with far-seeing eyes. Gran’ma Maple didn’t talk at all, except in the whispering rustle of her leaves. Gran’ma Maple loved Aislinn and she loved Gran’mama, but she didn’t love everyone, except the littlest ones. She let them climb in her branches, and she called them her “seedlings” and talked to them in whispers until they got too old to be able to hear her about their seventh year.

Aislinn was one of the seldom children who was able to understand Gran’ma Maple’s whispers past her seventh year, who could see and hear The One Who Came From The Stars In A Dream, and who was welcome up high on the mountain at Gran’mama’s house. Some of the other children were a bit jealous and made up scary stories about Aislinn and told them to each other in the dark, but everyone suspected it was lucky to be her friend so she got along all right for a while. And in the beginning of summer, when school stopped, Aislinn went up the mountain and didn’t come down again until the first leaves on Gran’ma Maple began to turn. In fact, it was the turning of the leaves and the return of Aislinn that told the other children when to go back to school just as it was her leaving to go up the mountain that told them when to stop.

As a little girl Aislinn didn’t realize that her life was much different from others. She learned reading and writing and science from the school, and she learned manners and hard work from her parents. From Gran’ma Maple she learned to climb high, even in the wind, and to sing with the birds, and foretell the weather. From her own Gran’mama high on the mountain, she learned to know all the herbs and their helping ways, to always wear yellow, and to read the clouds. From The One Who Came From The Stars In A Dream she learned — well, it was hard to say exactly what she learned — perhaps it was a way of dreaming while she was awake. But perhaps that was just imagination or magic. She was never quite certain which. But on her seventeenth birthday everything changed.

It was the first of May. This year there would be a full moon that night and Neptune, the planet of dreams, would be rising invisibly beside the moon. Aislinn thought about that. She had dreamed the night before, as she usually did (her name means “dreamer” in the old magical language), and her dreams were filled with shadows and figures of light, of turmoil and calm, and they were full of hidden magic. Although she often couldn’t remember the dreams when she woke, things often happened then she then remembered that it happened first in a dream and she understood how it would turn out. So it was this morning.

She woke up her birthday morning feeling a change coming toward her. She knew it was riding a gray horse and would arrive before noon and that she should pack up and be ready to go. She packed her best yellow petticoat, bright as the sun and almost as bright as her hair, and a few other clothes, and then wondered what else to bring. It seemed like most everything else she had was in her head, her heart, her muscles and bones, but she thought some herbs might be useful so she made a small bundle and put them in with her clothes. She had a small rose quartz stone in the shape of a heart that had belonged to her mother and gran’mama before her. It hung from a fine gold chain, and though she rarely wore it, this seemed like a good day for it so she put it on and tucked it in, hidden beneath her blouse. She ate breakfast with her mother and father and then she waited.

Waiting wasn’t very satisfying — Aislinn wasn’t used to just sitting around. She meditated for a while, but still felt restless. She went into the kitchen and packed a lunch, then considered and added a three slightly wrinkled apples from last fall for the horse. She wrote a note for her parents, who were out planting seeds in the fields, and another for her Gran’mama, though she suspected that her Gran’mama already knew what was happening, probably better than Aislinn herself. She was sitting at the kitchen table, wondering if there was anything else she needed to do, when she heard the neigh of a horse in the distance. Her heart said, “Yes!”

She took her bag of clothes and her basket of lunch and got to the gate just as the horse arrived, shining bright in the sun. Aislinn felt the presence of The One Who Came From The Stars In A Dream and heard her say, “The sun is nearly high and the may tree is in bloom — are you ready to ride?”

This is the end of the beginning. Or perhaps my part stops here, and you have to dream the rest for yourself. I don’t know!

Meeting God/dess Unexpectedly

Sometimes we have Encounters with the numinous and ineffable. In the woods. On the hills. Under the stars. We meet SomeOne bigger than we expected. We may have had an image in our mind of god/dess, known and sweetly familiar, but suddenly we encounter SomeOne much larger, someone far more overwhelming than anyOne we thought we knew. SomeOne very different than anyOne we may have expected.

God/dess is essentially unknowable — too vast, too old, too simple/complex, too present for us to comprehend or relate to in ordinary consciousness. We have a direct connection through the mystical experience, which strikes — like lightning — where there is the least resistance. When we surrender far enough (and that is usually much further than we can surrender intentionally), we are touched by god/dess so deeply that we lose our sense of self and find Self instead. The experience of this connection fries our nervous system and brain cells if we stay in it too long, so we bounce back out pretty quickly.

Therefore, in order for us to directly connect with the divine (without turning into a little grease spot on the ground, a few ashes drifting around, and a spirit shrieking “Wheeeeeee!!!” as it expands out into the limitless unknown at translight speeds), Something happens/exists (call it a god or goddess or archetype or archangel or whatever) between human self and Infinite Being. That something is an aspect, one facet of that Infinite Being — a face that we as humans can relate to. It is a one that stretches us a few notches. That is, the face we’ve been dealing with did stretch us and now that we are more or less comfortable with it, we are introduced to an aspect of god/dess that stretches us further. Growth seems to be the name of the game.

Perhaps, instead of alternate faces, we are seeing the face behind the face and then the one behind that… and behind that a still greater face, too big to recognize as a face, even from a distance. I have often felt this to be true, because they meld into each other in a way. Layers, perhaps, to be found as we move into expanded consciousness and into more real realities. But as we grow and become big enough, we begin to see through the face we know, looking beyond it to larger faces.

I saw a puppy meeting its first horse once. The horse was one of those big Clydesdales with hooves the size of platters. The pup found the back feet first and got all excited about them. All eight inches of the pup wriggled and squirmed and leaped up against the horse’s back legs, looking for the human he expected to be there to stoop down and pick him up.

Then he found the front legs. The dance was repeated, oh, what happiness — another two-legs to dispense caresses and tidbits!

Then the horse bent down his head to get a closer look at this tiny, manic creature, and the pup went berserk. GODS!!! GIANTS!!! MONSTERS!!! O, JOY!!! O, HELP!!! Fall down, roll over. Expose tender, fat tummy while peeing on horse’s foot.

The horse gave the pup a gentle, juicy lick, like a paternal slurp for a wobbly colt, rolling him over and over in the dirt. He came to his feet again, covered with mud and horse spit, and filled with totally overwhelming ecstasy.

The horse was very patient, very quiet, and didn’t move his feet lest the pup get under them and get squished flat. I don’t remember how long it took for the pup to realize that the back legs, the front legs and the head were all connected — all one being.

All one being. That’s something to think about.

Perhaps, dear heart, you also need to know that this bigger god/dess gives larger (and different) lessons and initiations?

A Squeek At God/dess’ Foot

I keep getting caught in too many words
(and none of them right)
when I try to talk about You.

All of my images fail, are less than You,
all of the faces I can see are not
Your True Face —
even though they show me truth.
You are too bright, too big for my eyes.
Your song is too deep and too high, too wild,
and far, far too sweet for my ears.

The only thing I can do
is keep growing — like the sunflower, the lilac,
the sequoia — until I am big enough to see
that I am You and You are me and We
don’t stop anywhere,
any time,
in any reality.

© Copyright 2001 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.
This may not be reproduced without the author’s written permission.