Morning Forest

I keep looking for a way to describe this forest in the early morning — clearly, concisely, poetically — because the forest is like a poem, rich and enchanting. But it constantly changes, and it’s very difficult to wrap words around something that is continually rebirthing. While I’m writing a word, the forest keeps evolving, needing other words instead.

The light is, of course, everchanging. There are no city lights here to make a continual glow — even the street lights are so distant I can’t see them. The birds know when morning is coming long before I do. They sing their chorus of many lightsome songs to greet it. This forest is part of a long migratory route with birds and butterflies and goddess only knows who else passing through at times of their own choices. The dawn confabulation changes with them. Three days ago there was a mountain blue jay outside my window — black crest above a brilliant blue feathers, brighter blue than the sky or ocean. I hadn’t seen him before nor have I since.

Marzipan, the tiny ginger cat, sits on the window ledge, wide-eyed every dawning. We watch together as trees begin to appear out of the dark shadows, but it will be a long time before the sun sends long, searching fingers in to light up the sides of a few trees while the rest remain shadowed. The sun may not get through for hours. It may not come through at all if the day stays cloudy.

Although I can’t see it happening, there is as much growing and stirring underneath the ground as there is above it. If I go outside and quietly stand barefoot, the life below is quite apparent. And there are liminal voices, like the voices in the trees and bushes, that are whispering just at the far edge of hearing. Even human feet can know they are standing on the threshold of… something. Fascinating things are always going on below, beside, and above us.

One day when life was seeming especially difficult, I asked the trees for help in staying calm and perhaps even balanced. It was a quiet day, and it seemed that they might be willing to share that stillness and silence. Standing there I became aware, that I was resting on a net of energy — roots, fungus, mycelium and things I couldn’t name — were creating a supportive, solid web and accepting me as part of the forest. The same net was woven between the trees and bushes, even the tiny mushrooms and flowers. It extended up to the tops of the trees, where it covered all of us. Protected. Safe. Sheltered. It was a most breathtakingly wondrous sensation to be held in the arms of Mother Nature.

I can connect with that same feeling anytime, any place, if I just remember to keep being who I am — a part of the forest.

I thought I was finished writing this, as much as I could be, but Marzipan just got excited, ran to the window, and started chirping in her own little purry voice. I looked out past her, and the mountain blue jay is back. We are both curious — what is it doing here besides eating suet? We’re down close to the ocean, though we can’t quite see the water. We’re certainly not in the mountains. O, I’d forgotten but I’m being reminded — so many feet of altitude equals so many miles northward in climate — I forget the ratio. Perhaps it is reasonable then to find mountain blue jays here in the Northwest at a low altitude. I grew up in the South where they are only high in the mountains.

Well, that’s one mystery solved. Millions of them remain.

© Copyright 2017 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved

Glastonbury Tor, Thanksgiving Eve

This evening as we were sharing Thanksgiving tarot readings, my friend Nancy recommended that I make a visionary journey to Glastonbury Tor. The original subject of our discussion was Gratitude — what has the Lady Gratitude been trying to teach us, and what is right action for us now that we’ve learned a bit more about it?

Basically, the lesson for both of us seems to be the perennial “Trust the Process” but with more detail. For my part, yes, things are tough now (and probably so for a bit yet to come), but life will become less stressful than it has been, better than before in many ways, and I will have even more help with the creative things I need to do — if I’m trusting the process and not letting the temporary stuff get me down.

I wanted to share this journey with you because this is unlike my usual inner journeys in that it doesn’t have a set format. Those of you who have been in my classes and/or read my book Sun over Mountain may remember that we use guided imagery for many purposes. There were a lot of questions for the person journeying to help them understand the images that arose for them. This time, instead, we find me wandering around, looking for my path, and simply allowing it to open before me. This process is more structured than a daydream and less so than guided imagery with a set pattern — and I wanted you to see how it might work for you. Before beginning the journey, the first thing I did was to draw a card from my personal oracle — a blend of the Faeries’ Oracle and my unfinished Faery Wisdom Journey Oracle:

The Bright Mother, who is so loving and nurturing and wise, says…

I am asking you to give up your defenses.

I know, I know, it seems to you that they are what keeps you safe in the worlds, but, in fact, they are what make you vulnerable. Let them go as you find them, and discover how strong you are without them.

Defenses are a much heavier burden than you realize, and it is only by letting them go that you become invulnerable.

If you don’t know how to do this, just ask and I’ll help you find the way. And do eat properly as you go!

Faery blessings on the growing!

And now for the journey to the Tor…

I usually begin these journeys by entering a cave, but that doesn’t feel right tonight. I let my mind wander, looking for a way in, allowing impressions to simply arise in my mind. I gradually realize that I’m surrounded by mist and darkness. I don’t see a way at all. But then a thought drifts by that the theme here is probably about trusting the process. As soon as that dawns (O, the fae are such punsters), I sense myself standing in misty moonlight. Pale in the western sky is the setting Moon. She looks about five days old — more than a slim new crescent but less than a quarter — She is young, full of hopes and dreams and creative energy, and closely following the Sun.

Barely, I see the darkness of Glastonbury Tor outlined against the lighter, but darkening sky. Walking towards the crest of the Tor is easy walking — far easier for me than climbing it in the so-called “real” world — just a gentle upward slope. (Or I’m stronger here, which is something to think about later.) Barefoot, the grass tenderly caresses my soles. Lightly moving upward, I begin to see the silhouette of St. Michael’s Tower against the starless sky. As always, from a distance, there are faint lights moving around the tower as the energy fountains up from the many ley lines here.

No one else seems to be there — no faery, no people, no ancestors, no winds — just silence, so I simply sit on the grass, patiently still. After a while a small, white, short-haired kitten, hight Gwenhwyfar, comes and sits precariously on my knee. She is so young, she is still wobbly. I ask her if she is my guide, and she nods her head vigorously, nearly falling over. She has long tufts on her ears, and they are very charming, waving in the moonlit air.

She hops down onto the grass, regains her balance, and skitters off, racing around the tower — one, two, three circuits deasil, followed by three circles widdershins. She then dashes into the tower, and squeaks loudly to call me. I get up. (Getting up from the ground is also much easier than I’m accustomed to in “real” life as well — perhaps I should come here to live!) Following Gwenhwyfar into the tower, I expect it to be dark — and it is as dark as it can possibly be.

My toes bump against stone. Bending over and feeling the stone with my hand I find stone steps, which I’ve never seen in the tower before. They stick out from the wall, with spaces between them, like the spiral steps in a round tower. Since St. Michael’s tower is square, it provides a larger step at every corner. It’s probably just as well that I can’t see their worn, irregular shapes. Above my head, Gwenhwyfar mews loudly, her voice echoing up and down the tower like an full choir of kittens.

It seems that the easiest thing to do is to go up on all fours as she did. But it isn’t — I hadn’t realized I was wearing a robe, which is now tangling under my feet. Carefully standing erect again with my left hand on the wall and lifting the robe with my right, I can creep up the stones without stumbling. Gwenhwyfar startles me by racing down and brushing around my ankles, saying “Mrrr, mrrrrrr!” which clearly means “Hurry up!”

After several more steps, I feel a soft pressure on the top of my head as if I were pushing against a light balloon. Suddenly, with a pop the pressure disappears and my head pokes through … something. Now my eyes are in the light, but below them everything is still in darkness. The light is silvery-clear and there is something floating in it — dust motes? Faery glitter? Tiny, they are, yet intensely bright. Carefully, but a bit lighter and faster, I continue up the stairs until my feet also enter the light. I’d like to sit down there, but Gwenhwyfar is hooking her tiny claws into the hem of my robe, tugging so hard I’m afraid that she will tumble off the steps. It feels like a very long way down.

Hmmm… if she is a spirit cat or a faery cat or even an imaginary cat, would the fall hurt her? Or would she simply levitate up and bat me on the nose for recalcitrance? Best not to find out any of those things, best just to go to the top and hope for a place to rest there.

Climbing up, the light changes — first to a gentle red, then to pale peach, then a light but warmly sunny yellow, a clear cool sea green, a dreamy blue, crystalline amethyst, and then the purest white I can imagine. We are at the top, no doors, no windows, the narrow openings to the outside are below us, and although I know there is no roof above us, there is a pearlescent something — a mist? An out-of-focus ceiling? It glows.

It was a long ascent upward. I sit on the top step and Gwenhwyfar leans against me. I feel her purring. She climbs up my robe, vibrating busily. Kitten-like, she wants to be on top of my head. Her purr resonates in my skull, echos in my mouth.

The air gradually fills with a wordless musical hum, at first barely audible, then becoming more clear as we listen. It sounds like antiphonal plainsong without words. The high notes are almost the chime of small silver bells, the rich low tones make the tower tremble, the notes between all reverberate, resounding from my bones, from all of the rigid or taut places within me. As they sound the muscles go soft, the notes going through the bones like a hollow flute, hallowed by their song.

I don’t know how long I sit here — or even where I “really” am. The purr chases its own tail within me like musical laughter until my whole self smiles, and I drift away… somewhere, nowhere, everywhere — energy and light singing within and around me.

After I come back feeling much lighter, happier, and more blessed than I did, I drew another card to see what the Oracle had to say about all this.

From the Faeries’ Oracle…

The Singer of Transfiguration congratulates you on the growing and transforming you have been doing! It has not been an easy path and you may not feel quite settled into your new way of being yet, but you’re almost there.

Trust the process!

And a thousand, thousand faery blessings upon your transformation!

In the morning there will be dew everywhere, sparkling in the sun.

*********

For me, there are several points of special interest here, but I think I’ll save my thoughts on them until I see if you have any comments or questions.

And next time, I think I’ll go to the Chalice Well…

Early Morning LabyrinthineTravels

Before I begin I must mention that I’m going to insert a photo in this before I post it. WordPress was doing something silly with photos e-mailed to subscribers, and this is a test to see if that is fixed. If you wind up with a lot of strange babble (code) after the next paragraph, I invite you to read the real post on the website at http://www.jesalog.com with a proper photo.Thank you!

I am having the most delightful morning and it has barely begun. Dutifully checking my e-mail first thing, it began with a message from SecondLife saying that my partner-in-landscaping had returned a couple of building blocks (prims) to me, so I went in to see what he was up to. He had built a small island—white sand, rock, palm trees—that was just perfectly suited to the purpose we’d been discussing. It was a delightful surprise for first thing in the morning. I stood there on our island and watched the two ships he’d also built cross paths behind the new island, which is so perfect that I cannot imagine that it hasn’t always been there waiting for the fog to lift so we could see it.

That reminded me that I’d promised to look for a photo of the isle of Iona that we could use to build another island. So off I went on the wings of Google Search to look for photos of my beloved Iona and one of the first things I saw was a large photo of a labyrinth on Iona. How astounding! I just sat and looked at it. There was never a labyrinth on Iona in all the years I visited there and roamed all over the tiny isle.

Labyrinths are special. I’ve never been to one without having a truly exceptional and personally memorable experience. And I’ve never been to one without a friend beside me.

The labyrinth in Iona—what a brilliant thing someone has done! I immediately copied the photo and made it my wallpaper so I can gaze upon it for refreshment during the day. Then I looked up the source of the photo, and found Waymarkers, a lovely blog which was not only rewarding reading, but which had another photo of a labyrinth, this one on Whidbey Island. I didn’t know there was a labyrinth on Whidbey either. Now I do.

Whidbey is just across a small stretch of water from where I live—about a fifteen minute ferry ride. I could actually go to Whidbey! So then I discovered that the writer of the blog, Mary, lives in Seattle and leads pilgrimages to Iona and to Whidbey Island and other places in the Pacific Northwest. I want to read her book, Waymarkers: Collected Prayers, Poems & Reflections for the Pilgrimage to Iona by Mary A DeJong.

And now I’m remembering that when I was last on Iona with friends, the hotel we were in also had a group of visitors on a pilgrimage from Whidbey Island to Iona—not one of Ms DeJong’s but another. I can probably find out who and see if they are still doing retreats on Whidbey. I’d love to walk a labyrinth again if I can.

Now, here I am, quite early in the morning before breakfast, having been to Isla del Gatos in SecondLife, to a labyrinth on Iona in the Inner Hebrides in the West of Scotland, to another labyrinth on Whidbey Island here in my neighborhood, to looking out of my own windows and seeing flickers of early sunlight among the trees.

You cannot beat a morning like that!

I Give You Fair Warning…

This Sunday morning, after nine hours in the emergency room Friday and a day of recovering Saturday, I am thinking about age and about who we become. I have been reminded of a quote from Joseph Campbell: “I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” I remembered this poem, which I wrote some years ago, and I’m checking my list just to see where I am.

When I grow old, really old,
I shall be eccentrik.
I shall wear long silken skirts
that sweep in the dust
and keep Abyssinian cats.

I shall speak clearly to the cats, of course,
but to other people I shall speak
only in symbols, codes and cryptograms,
and let them think
that they understand.

I shan’t knit.

My garden will be wild and rich, and
I shall plant tall stones
in suitable places. I shall make
potions of flowers and light,
and I shall keep bees.

With my knobby old knees
and sagging breasts, I shall
dance naked under the Moon,
and I shall sing to Her
with the cats.

I shall carry a blackthorn stick,
and frighten small boys away from my apples –
they’ll like that —
and I’ll tell tales of the goddess
to small girls so they will know who they are.

I shall say outrageous true things
to people, anyone at all,
and make waterfalls and small pools
in wild places.

I shall have a deep, deep well of silence
in myself, and it will fill
with the love flowing through me
like a wild underground river.  My hair
will be very white and unmanageable –
rather like a dandelion.  My roots
will grow to the heart
of the Earth, and the horned god
will be a personal friend of mine.

That was then; this is now:
I don’t have the bees,
though I still want them,
and god/dess knows, they need
all the help they can get.
I have the dandelion effect
well in hand — it was inevitable
and I deserve neither credit nor blame —
but all the rest
is a work in progress.
I can say that I truly
have and I am
alive and gratefully
overflowing.

Photograph © 2011 by Tom Linton. All rights reserved.
Poem © 1988 & 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

Writing — a Different Kind of Natural Magic

I would like to see a revolution in the world of book writing, reading, and publishing.

I remember that, when I was a child, it was my habit to take a book up into a tree to do my reading. Sometimes the books got stained with food or dropped into the dirt or leaf stains. These days I love to sit by trees and neatly read or tidily write. When I was young, I drew pictures in the books, underlined some passages, made colored frames around paragraphs or even whole pages, wrote notes and small poems and made doodles in the margins. But

Of course, this was all forbidden. You’re not suppose to write in books, right? Only the author is allowed that privilege. And God/dess knows the author can’t write just anything because the publisher and/or editor is going to re-work every word and idea to suit a pretty rigid set of rules of what a book should contain and how it should look. It should be tidy. It should have straight lines and sharp edges. The corners must be square. The ideas must be rather neatly square too. Linear — we must have linearity! Not many people can get something truly unconventional published — publishers don’t like to take risks. Maximize the profit! It must follow the publisher’s house style. Anything that doesn’t have white pages and black print is terribly daring. The more pristine and untouched a first edition is, the more valuable it is generally believed to be eventually. Gods forbid that you should laugh so hard that you spill something on the pages! And, of course, the bigger the publisher, the more the whole thing is about money.

I got scolded in school, of course, and learned not to damage books. Many years later, I was shocked to find out that there is a sort of art/craft thing about “modified books” where people intentionally desecrate books. They take a book and turn it into something else — a “work of art”. They cut or tear or paint the pages; they glue things to the pages; they make it into something to be looked at instead of read. The original book may even be entirely obliterated. Some of them are fascinating and quite beautiful, in the same way that interesting, even beautiful things can be made from other found objects. But they aren’t exactly books anymore. I’m not against this as long as the books truly had no value as books, but I am interested in another way of thinking about books.

What if one were enhancing and expanding the original book instead of obliterating it?

One of the most satisfying and delightful things I’ve experienced as an author has been discovering what some creative people do to their copies of The Faeries’ Oracle — they write in them, they draw in them, they add objects — memorabilia — to them. These books aren’t necessarily intended as art — they are livres de mémoire, memory books, and the living lore added with such élan enables the owners to creatively expand their understanding of what is already written — as well to remember their own experiences and ideas. But, do you know, I would certainly class them as living art.

I’ll never forget a woman asking hesitantly if I’d mind signing her copy of the Oracle. It was, she explained with some embarrassment, very untidy. She pulled the carefully wrapped book out from a bag. It was tied up in a worn silk scarf, and she gently, almost reverently unwrapped it. It didn’t look much like a copy of the Oracle any more. It was about three times as thick and had several ribbons and things tied around it to hold it together. The cover was seriously battered, the spine detached, the original pages rumpled but still readable, and it had many extra pages glued between the printed pages — some of them on scraps of paper, some on fine handmade papers. All of the pages, original and added, had their blank spaces covered with notes and sketches and diagrams and cartoons. There were fragments of spells and rituals in the margins. Blobs of candle wax showed where the book and the fae had participated in candlelit revels. Preserved leaves and flowers, moss and bark, and even small stones were attached to the pages. There were scraps of lace, fabric, yarn, and ribbons glued in. There were innumerable handmade and lovely bookmarks scattered throughout, often with notes on them as well. It was a masterpiece of love and creativity and memories and inspirations and insights. It radiated boisterous faery merriment and mirth. I was quite literally enchanted by it. I couldn’t put it down or stop asking her questions about the things in it. It was magical.

This all began a slow fermenting process in the back of my mind. Ever since, I’ve been thinking of books as potentially co-created works of art. What if

I hope to write a book about the Green Woman. I want to do wild and astonishing things with it. I’d like it to be so the reader can hear several faery voices talking at once. The fae would like to be able to bounce out of the page and bop you on the nose or give you a sweet kiss. There should be hidden secrets to be found. Wisdom should peek around the corners and want to be chased. It has to be able to glitter and twinkle in appropriate moments. Can this be done? I don’t know. One thing I do know though — it has to have space in it for you to add your own wisdom and encounters with her — and her friends.

Sometimes I go places to sign copies of my books. I sit at my table and try to say something a little special for each person and sign their books neatly. But what if… You can probably guess what I’m thinking here. From now on, I just may sometimes (when I have both time and energy) ask people if they would like the regular signature or a deluxe signature. The regular version is a few words and a signature, neatly entered into the proper page in the book. The deluxe version — what if I took special paper and ribbons and glitter and knackerty faery knotions and on the spot made a page for them to insert into the book? It would be interesting to see if anyone wanted it and if they would actually glue it into the book. I could bring the glue. I wonder if this might even encourage them to enhance the book with their own additions, creating their personal treasure of ideas and memories and experiences.

I’m realizing, just at this moment, that this is what I like about the social media like Facebook and blogs and web sites — I’m not just writing into a total vacuum in these places or for a publisher who thinks it is his job to pummel my vision into something he thinks he can best sell but who probably has no actual interest in it. Instead, here on-line, a few people even write back, and I’m tickled when they do even if I don’t understand or like what they say. Sometimes it’s clear that they didn’t even really read what I said, but obviously they, too, are wanting to connect somehow, to be heard. What makes it really all worthwhile, though, is that quite often the responses are thoughtful, even delightful. Sometimes whole conversations involving several people get started. It’s much more fun than writing into the void.

What if we became actively involved in our own entertainment and learning instead of passive receivers? What if we rediscovered and expanded our joy in our own creativity? How would you feel about that?

Here’s a revolutionary thought: what if children made some of their own school books? What if the teacher wrote the basic facts on the board and the children copied them into a blank book and decorated (not necessarily “illustrated”) the basic information with doodles or pictures or writing? And what if the teacher were wise enough to encourage the children to think/play/create for themselves, to write or draw what each child wanted to instead of going through the motions of meekly following the instructions of the teacher? What amazing concepts might the teacher learn about teaching and living from the children’s unique and creative responses? What might the teacher learn about teaching? What startling and original discoveries might the children make about their lessons and themselves? I can tell you one thing: many grandparents would treasure these created books!

What if publishers included random blank pages and wide margins in books just so we’d have room to expand and add to the book’s value for us? I know it might be extremely difficult to persuade them to do this. Horrors! It would increase costs! Horrors! It would spoil the very neat and tidy design of the pages and the rigid order of the edges and fonts if people wrote in them. It would encourage people to believe that the author of the book might not be the ultimate authority to whom all the rest of us must mutely bow down.

I included a blank card in The Faeries’ Oracle for people to draw their own faery friend on, and the editor was appalled. “People won’t want to spoil the deck with drawings that are inferior to Brian’s!” Well, you know, some people do feel like that about it. There was quite a battle. This tells me two terrible things about how we think about books. One is that our whole way of thinking about books is rigid, moribund, and doomed. The other is that we have a seriously wounded idea of the value of our own creativity. I would like to see a radical revolution in the world of book writing, reading, and publishing. I know I said that above, but it’s worth repeating.

I have this fascination with blank books — the ones you buy to keep a journal or write your dreams or sketch in. I occasionally buy beautiful blank books. They terrify me! What if I spoil them by making a mess in them? They might stay blank forever because I’m not good enough to write or do something worthy of them. But what if I simply deliberately “make a mess” on the first page, ruining the book right off — and then I can do anything in them? Who knows how it might turn out? Or better yet, what if I get my young granddaughter to draw a picture on the first page? After that I could do no wrong… and I would be stepping into natural magic of creation.

Do you see what is happening here? Not only am I preaching to the choir, the many of you who have already sung your books, your writing, and your thinking free, but equally I’m speaking to the pulpit — myself. And I’m doing it because I, too, am stuck in an old dogma about learning and books and thinking and creativity from which I want to set myself free. Would you like to join the revolution? It would give faery yet another way to krow in your life.

Healing by Dreams

Wild wolves were all around me this morning when I woke up and… but let me tell you first about the blog I read yesterday. Robert Moss wrote a blog on healing dreams, stories, and visions, which I read and thought was an excellent exercise. In fact, it seemed so good that I decided to try to remember to do it each night and see how it worked for me. But I forgot about it at bedtime.

This morning when I awakened, I was still half caught in a dream. In it, my granddaughter, Megan, was about three and she was my daughter rather than my granddaughter. She, my husband, and I were on a car camping holiday somewhere. We had parked far out in the bushes along a trail, near a small lake. We set up a tent there, but decided to walk back into town together for some supper. While we were eating my husband wandered off and disappeared. Megan and I finished eating, and I decided that it was getting too late in the day to linger, so we started back to the car and camping place.

As we walked (I carried her a lot of the time), it seemed much farther than it had while going into town. I was beginning to worry that we’d passed the car without seeing it. Megan was nearly asleep in my arms, and finally it became totally dark—that deep darkness you only get in the country on a moonless night far from any town. I decided we’d better stop and sleep where we were. I was a bit concerned about having no shelter and being in unknown territory, but there didn’t seem anything else to we could do. Fortunately, Megan was wrapped in a blanket that, when unfolded, was big enough to wrap around us both. We found a clear spot just off the trail purely by touch and settled down, snuggled together and well-wrapped up.

Then I felt a cold, wet nose touching the back of my neck. I could hear breathing and panting and rustling sounds.

Megan murmured sleepily, “Gran’ma, who’s here?”

I didn’t know! Yes, I was worried—who wouldn’t be? Yet I certainly didn’t want to alarm her, so I said, “It’s just some animals. They’ve come to protect us while we sleep.” I could hear the grass and bushes moving as several large beings moved around, but since they made no move toward us after the initial touch and inspection by sniffing, I snuggled Megan closer, tucked us in better, and I listened to her fall asleep, which she did quite easily and trustingly. I was so tired that, as soon as I was sure she was deeply asleep, I drifted off too and slept soundly.

When I wakened at first light in the morning, I found us encircled closely by a pack of wolves. All but one of them were sleeping right up against us, keeping us warm. Megan had one arm out from under the covers and was quietly petting the one that was awake. It was the largest wolf. His muzzle was gray with age, and he was looking straight into my heart with his penetrating golden eyes. He let his tongue loll out in a wolfy grin, and I told him, “Good morning, sir. We thank your for your protection and warmth.” I felt like I should curtsy to him, but it’s difficult while lying down, wrapped in a blanket. The pack silently got up and moved back to give us room to disentangle ourselves and stand up. Then they, still quiet, drifted away into the bushes like shadows. Megan waved good-bye to them and grinned up at me.

And I woke up, feeling incredibly protected and secure—more so than I’ve felt in years. It is not that I’ve felt nervous or in danger all this time, but this was like the difference between just not being angry and being completely happy—an enormous gap. This was a radically different feeling of peaceful security, and it was very healing for me.

I think I better understand now what Dr. Moss was talking about in his blog. And yes, I do plan to practice it. If there is no healing dream that volunteers itself, I can always tell myself a healing story and just see what comes up from my creative mind. How we envision our world has a profound affect on how we feel, and the more deeply that vision is embedded in us, the more strongly it influences us. The dream was quite detailed and had a smoothly logical sequence, more like a conscious story than an unconscious dream, but I’ve noticed that my unconscious mind is quite capable of following instructions—when it wants to.

© 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

Stories

While everyone else was asleep at 4 a.m. this morning, I was dreaming about stories, all the many stories we tell—the true ones and the truth tucked inside made-up stories—and how we tell about ourselves, our hopes and our fears, in our fantasies. Even the wildest fantasy contains our personal truths about how we feel the world is or should be or how we fear it to be.

In my classes, I used to tell a lot of ‘teaching stories’ and I know that wrapping a truth inside a fantasy is a way to get it across, especially when the ‘fantasy’ is true too, and people just assume it isn’t because it doesn’t fit with their view of the world. If you tell them that this is how the world is they are likely to just go into denial (and maybe even get angry), but if it’s ‘just a story’ they can listen. It’s a seed, a penny that may just drop into the slot and something might happen. A connection can be made. Eventually.

The heart of a story can be hidden in jokes, in fables, in dream imagery. Our worlds, daytime and night, are aswirl with stories. We live them, we breathe them, we call them fantasies and say we don’t believe them—and then often we act as if they are true.

We are not things. We are stories moving through time. Dream your stories well, my dear, because they are your heart.

If I were to tell you
all of my stories,
you still wouldn’t know
how I got where I am.
You’d have to know
the stories of those whose paths
crossed and entwined with mine.

I only know fragments,
but if you want to know me
(or I want to know you),
we’ll really have to look
at all the stories and how
they wind together
into the One True Story
called the Universe.

Are you big enough
to hold all that?
Prepare to be surprised:
Yes. You are.

There are no lost
or separated bits—
just One
and we’re It.

© Copyright 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

Celebrating Imbolc

Many years ago, I lived on a another hill—one of the seven hills of Bath—and on an Imbolc eve it was raining. It was raining as if the Winter Cailleach had dumped her own bath upon us.

Tomorrow would be Bridghe’s day, but that night before was darkness-filled-with-sound—rain rattled on the roof, sang in short-lived streamlets around my warm, dry home—Brockham End, a home of badgers too—and I hoped they might be dry in their setts.

I lit a candle and talked to the Lady in her aspect of the Welcoming Dark, the safe and protected womb, the welspryng of life. She listened to my hopes, my plans, my dreams, and there in the light of her flame, she blessed the seeds I hoped to grow.

I slept well. And in the morning…
there were wild springs
and ephemeral waterfalls.

Let there be a few dry days and they would all be gone. But let the rain come pouring down and the little falls and rills come rushing, like children on sleds at the first snow.

The wild springs come leaping up in unlikely places—like the one in my kitchen floor. (My landlady had warned me “the kitchen is sometimes damp.” This was four inches deep with a small fountain spouting between two tiles.)

For a wild thing,
this welspryng seemed quite at home
in my kitchen.

How remarkably auspicious!

We sat and laughed together, and I thanked her for coming to visit on Imbolc. And I asked her, too, for a blessing my seeds to help them grow. Then I wondered aloud if she might be happier out of doors, free and with more room to run. And I thanked her again.

A welspryng in my kitchen
on Imbolc
is a wondrous gift.

When I came back an hour later the floor was nearly dry—only a little damp in the cracks. But I could hear her laughing beyond the outside wall. So I went out in the rain and sat on a wet rock beside the strong, swift rivulet she made, and we laughed together until I was as wet as she.

Today, years later, in Washington—another watery name in another wet clime—I again await Imbolc to the music of rain-on-roof and wind-in-tree. I wait, remembering long ago seeds, grown to flower and to fruit, some even grown to trees under which there is shelter.

Tonight, I’ll light another candle in Her honor and again ask a blessing for my hope-filled seeds.

I resolve
that on the morrow’s morn
I shall, however rainy it may be,
plant more seeds,
and leave them to grow
free and wild.

© Copyright 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

Another Winter Solstice

I’ve been trying and trying
(as I’m wont to do
at this point on the wheel of the year)
to figure out
what I need and want to achieve
in the coming dance around the Sun.

It always helps
to have a plan
or at least an intention —
or so I’ve believed.
It took me a long time to see
that this year is different.

Standing on the crest
of the moving wave of time,
I realize that simply
being here
is tricky enough.
Keeping my balance
is a full-time job.

With one new knee
and one old knee,
my two legs are trying
to learn to work together —
balanced, but flexible, adjusting
with poise, serenity,
and a certain easy nonchalance
to constant time travel.

And, it seems, that this applies
to everything in my life.
There is no stasis
in the realm of time.

Mindfulness is the only way.
Mindfulness of the whole picture —
of all of the forces,
all of the pressures and urges and needs,
all at once —
surfing the crest of the time’s wave.

And if I fall, plunging to the depths,
I must be mindful of that as well —
and then be sure
to at least find
a different error
for the next time.

I had wanted to set goals
but I’m told that, if I keep my balance
in the moment, what to do
and when to do it
serendipitously and synchronistically
becomes obvious.

All things make themselves known
in their proper season —
indeed, at their precise second.

That degree of mindfulness
doesn’t sound easy, but
it will be a fascinating way
to try to live.

Jessica Macbeth
21 December, 2012
© Copyright 2012 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.