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.

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.

Conversations with Cats

A few days ago, I wrote briefly on Facebook about talking with cats. I didn’t come anywhere near covering it all and they complained a bit. So, here is more of a day’s conversations, though even this doesn’t cover it all either.

(Yawn!)
Yes, I was asleep!

::prrrt!::

I know, I know — just a minute! Yes, you’re quite right — it’s time for breakfast. What do you want?

Whatever are you doing with your food?

Yes, yes, you’re the most wonderful cats ever!

You’re the one who pushed your toy under there — you get it back out!

Why are there 57 tiny wads of crumpled paper under the fridge? And 11 milk bottle tops?

No, I don’t need to go to the door — it’s not the doorbell. It’s your brother playing the wind chimes on the porch.

What do you want? Yes, that’s a wicked, sassy squirrel in the window. He knows you can’t reach him on the other side of the glass. No, I’m not going to come and chase him away — I am not the official squirrel chaser! There are four cats living here to chase squirrels and mice away. I have other jobs to do, no matter what you think. Tell Duffy — he’s the king of the house.

I don’t know what you did with your catnip mouse, Robbie — you have other catnip mice, you know! In your toy box.

Yes, your toys are hidden in your toybox.

No, it isn’t time for another treat yet.

Who pushed the spoons off of the counter and into the waterbowl? O, yes, Robbie, you scored a hole in one, didn’t you?

Marzipan, why are you looking so innocent? You’re not going to tell, are you?

Robbie, what are you looking so smug about? O, you caught a HUGE catnip mouse. What a wonderful hunter you are!

Thank you for the feather, Marzipan. It’s just what I wanted. O, you want it back? Okay, there you go.

I know, I know — just a minute! Lunchtime snacks! Please let me walk into the kitchen. Here you are!

Sally, you’ve got Robbie’s mouse, haven’t you? That’s why he’s crying and looking all over the house for it. Why are you hiding it under the covers? You don’t really want it at all, do you? O… of course, you might need it later.

Marzipan, please stop eating the plastic bin liner.

Dingbat!

Marzipan, why are you sticking your nose in my ear and whuffling? It doesn’t make me type faster, you know.

Yes, I do love you too! Yes, I love all of you. I agree — it wasn’t well planned for me to have two hands instead of four. Thank you all for the lovely petting session! Does anyone remember what I was writing before it started?

Please don’t hold down the delete key so you can watch the cursor untype things.

Thank you for washing my nose, Marzipan.

May I type now?

You goof! Whatever are you doing?

Yes, that’s a BIG bird at the window feeder, Duffy! True, he’s not as big as you are — but he looks even bigger when he spreads his wings and flaps them.

No, it’s not yet time for another treat.

Marzipan, please, don’t sit on the keyboard.

Marzipan, please don’t run on the keyboard.

Marzipan, please don’t sit on my hands while I’m typing.

Yes, Marzipan, you have the most gorgeous, irresistible tummy ever.

No, you do not need to look in my mouth — please stop patting my lips and trying to pry them open.

May I please have the paper you’re sitting on? No, I don’t need holes punched in it. But while you’re feeling helpful, could you kindly bring back at least one of my pencils?

Thank you for bringing me the feather duster. Yes, we can play with it. O, you brought a nice string too — how kind of you!

Yes, you’re right — it’s time for dinner. You all have clocks in your stomachs, don’t you?

Truly, it’s all right if I take the empty plates away — you shall have them back in the morning. Yes, they do need to be washed in the sink even though you cleaned them very well.

It’s nice to settle down for a while in the evening, isn’t it? Would it help if I read you to sleep? No? I see — you all need to arrange your own and each others’ fur.

Yes, I would like to be sleeping now.

Duffy, do you have any idea how heavy you are?

Do any of you want under the covers or not? Not? Just you, Sally? All right, but don’t anyone else complain later.

Why are you all running across the bed and up and down the hall? O, it’s 3 AM — the Wild Hour. Yes, I know — All Proper Cats Do It. I’ll just cover my head up until it’s over, shall I? NO, it is NOT time for treats, O Mighty Hunters!

Rainbows

I just saw Wesley True Lee’s cover photo on Facebook. He didn’t explain it, but it reminded me of something I’d forgotten. Once upon a time, long ago (as my own years are counted), I was working in Glasgow, Scotland. I needed a holiday, and hopped on a train, thinking to go to Oban — or somewhere in that direction, wherever my feet wanted to go. As we pulled out of the station, I saw a rainbow in the direction of Oban. My passing thought was that I must be on the right track, headed, as I was, for a wild rainbow.

I settled in to read my book. Every time I looked out of the window (often) the rainbow was still in the direction of Oban, but I was in the habit of travelling with faeries so I knew then that I might wind up anywhere…

This went on until we reached Crainlarich. The train I was on was headed for Inverness, but the rainbow held unwaveringly in the direction of Oban although it was now to the west instead of the northwest. I changed trains there and followed it. At every station, I checked the rainbow — still steady for Oban. When I arrived there and walked out of the station, the rainbow had shifted and was out over one of the Western Isles. I checked the landmarks I could recognize, went back in the station (a Brit would say “on the station” instead of “in” but I don’t climb on their roofs). There I bought a map, and then going outside again, found that my rainbow was over Lismore. I’d always intended to go there someday, and this, apparently, was the right time.

 

The Lismore ferry and a rainbow
cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Gordon Browngeograph.org.uk/p/4256095

Back in the station, I bought a ferry ticket for Lismore and went to the tourist desk to book a bed and breakfast room. They also did dinner because they were rather remote from any village. This suited me fine — I just planned on walking idly and gently resting and happily communing with whatever/whoever I found willing, and perhaps writing or sketching.

The promised car from the B&B picked me up, and … the rainbow had moved again and we were travelling straight for it. I said to the driver, “That’s a lovely rainbow.”

He looked at it thoughtfully and said, “Aye, it’s bonny. It’s just about over the house.” So it was — in fact, as we got close enough to see the house, it was right over it. He gave it an odd look and added, “I’ve not seen it just over the house before.” He grinned at me, pleased to have such a gift to offer a stranger. It still held steady, arched over the house, and disappeared just as we pulled into the long driveway.

After a good dinner and a sit by the fire with my book, I went up to my room and slept soundly, the only guest in the house just then. In the morning after breakfast, I set out with a small backpack, holding my sketchbook and pencil, an apple, a sandwich, and a bottle of water. As I walked out the door, I looked all around up at the sky (this is a habit that old sailors have — the first thing you check as you come out of the hatch is to see what weather is coming at you from all directions).

Rainbow.

I took the road that went toward it. North. After a couple of hours of sauntering, I came to an old stone bench, half collapsed but still strong enough to sit on. I sat, leaned back facing the sun, and sighed happily. The air was sparkling with the presence of faery, the way it often does in Scotland. As I sat there, quiet, a feeling that I’d forgotten washed over me — perfect calm, perfect peace beyond measure, timeless.

I sat there every day for a week, and every day that magical feeling swept over me there. It might be ten minutes; it might be hours. Between sittings, I randomly rambled around the island. Never far, just far enough to see whatever I needed to see to delight and teach me.

Somehow, since then, I’ve always known that, however it feels, I’m always in the right place at the right time, especially as long as I follow guidence given instead of trying to lead myself.

Songs & Marzipan

Marzipan

Did I tell you about Marzipan getting excited about me singing a couple of nights ago? No? My singing isn’t really anything to get excited about so her reaction was a surprise.

It was late and i was listening to music on Youtube to relax before I went to sleep, and I started singing along. It has been a long time since I just sang for no reason but it was a happy little song that lured me in.

Marzipan was in the sitting room, but she ran down the hall, and jumped up beside me as I kept on singing. She put her paw on my shoulder, pulled my head around to face her with her other paw, and peered into my mouth — first with one eye and then the other. Then she stuck her nose in my mouth a bit with her ears flat behind. She drew her head back and gave me little licky-kisses on the tip of my nose and the corners of my mouth, purring as loudly as a bandsaw all the while. I could hardly keep from bursting out laughing, but that seemed quite rude so I went on singing while she stuck her nose in my ear and whuffled.

She kept purring and making little prrrt and mrrrt chirps. Finally she sat down beside me and watched the people on screen singing too, and then we had a super-cuddle and went to sleep together.

She’s weird — in a good way, you know.

It was a little song by ABBA, I Have A Dream, that mentioned “wonders” and “fairy tales”, and Marzipan may have thought it was about her — or at least about the world she knows.

The part about all of this that bothers me is realizing that I haven’t sung for so long that she thought it was something strange and amazing — she acted like she had never heard anything like it before — and she just turned eight, I think. That’s a long time for not singing.

I used to sing a lot when there were no humans around — in the house and in the car. There were story songs that I made up as they went along, and there were songs in a language that no one speaks — or understands. I’ve almost always lived with cats and used to sing to them too, just because they were there. They listened sometimes, but they never got excited about it.

I don’t even remember stopping singing… it was certainly nothing intentional. I got sick and didn’t get well again. I suspect it’s an energy thing. Anyway, that may all be changing now.

© 2017 All rights reserved.

Signs, Storm Winds, Omens, & Birthdays

16 October 1987
On that night, twenty-nine years ago, there was a storm where I lived on a hill outside of Bath in England. It was a terrible, unpredicted storm — the worst at that time of year in 300 years — and the screaming wind woke me just after midnight. When I got up to look out of my small window at the thrashing trees, the window frame was yanked from my hand and slammed it against the stone wall. Luckily, the leaded glass was old and strong and wise to the ways of the wind. It didn’t break.

I looked at a clock: 12:01 AM. It was my 50th birthday. Poking my head out to feel the wind, I calmly said aloud, without the thought going through my brain first, “The winds of change are blowing tonight.”

It was a bit of a struggle to close the window, but then I slept soundly until sunrise, which doesn’t come early in mid-October. Upon awakening, I remembered the storm and looked out again. The autumn leaves were all stripped away, piled in drifts against old walls, and tree debris was everywhere. And I remembered — the winds of change had blown. Everything felt different, as it does after an ordinary storm, but even more so. The air had the sparkle of autumn, clear and bright, scoured clean by untimely wild wintry winds.

And yes, that was a year of great change for me. I moved — not far, just to a cottage nearby. I raised a small standing stone, planted many flowers, covered a lot of the roof with old-fashioned pink climbing roses, found a wild spring under my kitchen floor and persuaded it to move just outside, dug a place for it to make a tiny pond with water lilies, acquired a crafty cat (Samantha, the wisest healer I’ve every known), fell in love unwisely, and went home to Scotland on a holiday accompanied by the cat. (I was born in Oklahoma, grew up there and in Kansas and mostly in California, lived in Norway, moved to Scotland, went back to California, then moved to England where all of this took place — but Home was always Scotland.) It was a busy and life-changing year.

15 October 2016
A lot of things have happened in the twenty-nine years since that storm, and now I’m living in the forest near Port Townsend, Washington. It’s my birthday evening again, and a great storm is predicted. The wind is rising.

16 October 2016
Just as I wrote the above, the electricity went off. Very dramatic. It was 10:01 PM. The most sensible thing seemed to be to sleep, so I did — until the lights came back on — we’d only caught the northern edge of the storm. All of the cats jumped up on the bed, and Gabby Su firmly said, “The lights are on. Isn’t it time for breakfast? Aren’t you going to feed us naooow?”

They know perfectly well that breakfast is at nine, and the clocks in their stomachs are quite accurate. They were probably just hoping to catch me sleepy and off-guard and trick me out of an extra meal. I looked at the clock — 12:20 AM — and said to the cats, “It’s my birthday, you know.” I laid back down, intending to sleep, but I was restless.

So I went outside to look up and around. The wind had died, and I could see the stars in the clearing sky between the quiet trees. I wondered if there would be 79 stars if I counted, but really that was silly — of course there would be 79 — and more! My years are nothing compared to the stars in the sky. But as I stared up at the stars, I heard a quiet voice saying, “The storm is over. The light is back.”