Winter Solstice

This is an excerpt from Marzipan’s Adventures, a series of books currently being written about some chat sith dos (tufted faery cats) who live on a world halfway between the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and Tir n’an Og of Faery. This is close to the end of the second book. (No, the first one isn’t finished yet, but these things do happen when you’re doing things with either cats or faeries, and this is about both.) You may wish to know that A’ Ghrian is The Sun in English, and here it means more than just a ball of fire in the sky — it is also the spirit of the sun, a divine being. I plan to add at least one photo to this after the initial posting so check back later for the picture. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from the story, written during the most recent solstice, step by step.

by Jessica & Marzipan Macbeth

Solstice Eve

Solstice evening came early, the longest night of the year. It was cold — colder than Marzipan could ever remember. All of the villagers, all of the people from Hill House, all of the wild chattan sith dos, the cattle, the goats, even the chickens, the wild creatures, and birds — all of them stood silently on the western shore and watched A’ Ghrian falling toward the sea.

As the sun just touched the sea, Riona’s rich voice lifted in slow song — a threnody of sorrow, of deep sadness, of grief and desolation. The light, the warmth of the world was dying. Dairri’s tenor voice joined Riona’s, and soon the silver bell of Aislynn’s voice soared above them both, ringing with Ceilear’s clear soprano. Bram’s bass tones were so deep that Marzipan felt as if it vibrated in her bones. One by one, all of the others joined in, even the animals and the birds, and their voices echoed off the hills. Only Mama Isa and Gran’ma Cait were silent — but their tears were their own songs.

Marzipan felt as if something within her was breaking. She held out her arms to A’ Ghrian as she had done every morning of the year past, but this time was not to help him up, but to gently ease his going. She too sang softly, her small voice breaking, almost unheard in the many-voiced threnody, the song of farewell, of morning.  She sang of all their mornings together, of how his warmth touched her and helped her grow strong, of how generous he was with all his blessings and warmth and light through the year, of how he illumined mind and spirit as well as the world. She sang about the plants in her little garden, who loved him as she did. She sang gratitude and love that pulled at her heart as A’ Ghrian disappeared into the sea for the last time.

He would not return.

The song changed, became A’ Ghrian’s coronach, proclaiming his death, and gradually his requiem — remembering him, remembering the glory he brought in the spring, remembering the richness and abundance of summer, remembering the melancholy beauty of autumn, and the dying of the year… and now his death in the cold sea.

As the shadows deepened into night, all of the folk turned and walked with darkened eyes as the cold stars came out above them, hard and bright. They walked south, then up and across Two Bridges Road, and up the snow-covered Green Road, still singing the slow, heavy song of grief and memory. It was a long, sad walk and some of the smaller creatures needed to be carried part of the way. Sometimes one voice would ring plangently over the rest, poignant and filled with pain, and other times all would harmonize together, swelling and soaring and fading… but never quite silent.

When they reached the top of the tor, still softly singing, the Lady Riona and Lord Dairri paused at the entrance to the old stone circle, more ancient than the world itself. They stood to each side and waited until Gran’ma stepped through and went to the altar stone. She turned and lifted her hands in welcome to everyone. Next Riona and Dairri entered and they also bade welcome to the rest. In ones or twos the others followed and then they all sat on the frosty grass, except for Gran’ma who turned back to the altar fire. There wasn’t quite room for everyone in the small stone circle and some of the wilder creatures were shy about being so close to others. They huddled together just outside and looked in. Marzipan could see the light of the altar fire flickering in their eyes between the stones, and she could see the same light on Gran’ma’s face and in that glow saw how Gran’ma sometimes looked incredibly old and other times very young — and all of the ages in between.

The song continued, sometimes in one voice, sometimes in several, almost like a conversation, the stories and the memories of the year. Marzipan knew the song in her own heart and how it blended with the rest. She wanted to sit in Herself’s lap, cuddled close, but at the same time she knew this was a time for being alone and lonely in the darkest, coldest night, so she pulled her shawl around her and fluffed her fur underneath it. She was still cold — there was an inner coldness as well as an outer one that she felt as she murmured her song of farewell to her beloved friend, A’ Ghrian, who had warmly blessed her every morning, every day for most of her life.

Just before midnight, the song slowly died. The fire on the altar, which had been flickering lower and lower, went out in a puff of smoke. The wind’s whisper among the trees hushed. For a timeless moment Marzipan felt as if her heart had stopped. Stonemother’s little world was wrapped in deep silence. It seemed like a long forever time in the nadir of the night.

It might have been silent forever had there been no one there to open their hearts, but out of the darkness, Riona’s voice rose again — softly, gently, and this time in a hesitant hymn of hope. Dairri’s voice joined hers, interwoven in counterpoint, voices entwined, rising up to the scintillating stars. Other voices rang in, and it was as if the voices were dancing. The swirl and whirl of the interwoven songs, all coming out of the deep darkness, enchanted Marzipan, both made her breathless and brought her more deeply into the song. Every one sang their own hopes and dreams and wishes, no two the same, and yet they were heart and soul in harmony.

Marzipan hummed in her own purr, thinking of her own dreams. Obviously, she wished all of them joy and her own self as well. Good health to the people and the land, gladness and prosperity to all… but anyone would wish that. What did she wish? What path did she want to walk? What did she want to become?

She didn’t know. Marzipan had reached that strange age where no one quite knows what you’re going to do next, least of all yourself, and at that moment she didn’t know what she wanted, didn’t know what to do. She finally realized that going in circles in her mind wouldn’t get her anywhere, and remembering her lessons, she let her mind grow still and sink deeper and deeper into the song.

Solstice Morn

For just that deeply still moment she could hear the Oran Mor, the Great Song of Stonemother, of the stars, of everything that is — and she remembered. She remembered promising Stonemother that she would try to be the very best she could be — she might not yet know just how or what particular thing that might be, but she knew that was it  — to find the path to her very best. And for that, she would need help — the blessing of A’ Ghrian, of Stonemother, of all of the beings around her — the songs of all of them were a part of her song — and her song a part of theirs. She could feel that wish, that profound desire within her, trying to burst out in a joyous carol, to soar up to the stars and delve deep into the heart of the world. She felt as if something were swelling within her, as if she were a small balloon about to explode.

She stood up, quivering, and far too full to speak. Suddenly she leapt upon the altar where she danced the song she felt. There were no words — just her dance, and as she danced, the fire on the altar re-kindled in a burst of light. She danced in the light, like a living flame. She danced to the song the others sang, and the dance itself was her own heartsong. It felt like she danced forever.

The sky began to faintly lighten in the east, over the sea. She could feel the small presence of the new A’ Ghrian becoming stronger, becoming closer, becoming Himself, the blessing of light and warmth and growth.

Father Eagle soared over them, shouting, “He is coming! Now! He comes!

Somehow, instinctively and without thinking about how she was doing it, Marzipan wove all of the heartsongs together in her dance and entwined them with the light of the altar fire, which was the heartsong of Stonemother, and with the gentle glow in the east. Placing her feet firmly on the altar and stretching out her arms, she lifted A’ Ghrian above the horizon. It was the èirigh na grèine, the rising on the sun. He was born. He lived. He illumined Stonemother’s small world.

And Marzipan held him in her paws as she would hold a babe, a kitten, cherishing him, his tiny and fragile and newborn self.

She could feel her friends beside and behind her. She felt their eyes glowing with the new light within them, and all of them had reached as she did, lifting, holding, loving the baby A’ Ghrian — and all of them were filled with his joyous light. The song rose to a crescendo and ended on a single heartbeat — and yet it went on echoing in the hills, between the trees. Marzipan knew that it would echo there all year, shaping the dance of life in the isles.

Gran’ma stretched out her arms and Marzipan jumped into them, and threw her arms around Gran’ma’s neck and hugged her as close as she could. Riona touched her gently, and Marzipan turned and hugged her. Mama Isa watched, smiling through her drying tears, and Marzipan went into her arms and was gently hugged, then handed on to Ceilear, her very own Herself, and she nestled into her arms — safely home, secure, and almost thinking about breakfast.

Solstice Day

Slowly, smiling, each one left the circle, Dairri and Riona first through the gate, where they stopped on each side, blessing each of their folk as they came out. New sun, new day, new year, new life. Gram’ma Cait was the last out, Mama Isa holding her arm, lending strength. It was a long walk home, north on the white snow of the Green Road, westerly down to the bridge and across to the village. Marzipan got to walk part of the way with Aislynn, who was back from visiting Old Earth, and her chat sith dos, Megan, who was new to the isles. She had heard that they would be home and this would be Megan’s first Solstice on the isles.

Megan seemed a little bewildered — she had never seen so many of her people before. Most of the chattan had gone home from the tor to their own places, but Marzipan introduced her to Jake and Granny Catriona who both welcomed her, but Megan seemed very shy and hid her face in Aislynn’s skirts as she mumbled “hello”. Marzipan tried to be friendly, and was sorry when Dairri and Riona turned off for the Hill House and took Aislynn and Megan with them. She had a lot of questions about Old Earth that she would like to ask Megan. But that was all right — she’d see her later at the feast. Aislynn and Megan had come home and would be here all winter.

As they went through the village, all of the purrsons stopped at their own places except Mama Isa and Papa Davie, who had their vardo just beyond Ceilear and Marzipan’s house. They were going to have breakfast together. While Ceilear and Isa lit a new fire in the old kitchen hearth to begin breakfast and Papa Davie lit the fire in the sitting room, Marzipan went outside to visit her garden. Most of the plants were bedded down for the winter in straw, but she lifted up their straw caps so they could see the new sunlight and she told them about the death of the sun and the long night and then the birth of the new sun and the spring and summer that was coming. They seemed excited about the springtime. Then she carefully tucked them back in, and went in to have breakfast and a good nap.

Marzipan knew that later in the afternoon all of the villagers and the wild chattan sith dos and some of the others would gather in the village hall. The chickens and squirrels certainly would come too — they always came to parties for the crumbs and the singing. So did the wild birds — even the owls. The goats liked to come as well, though there were extra-delicious things in the barn for them and the cows and sheep. Goats liked to be in the middle of things.

There would be music and dancing and feasting. There would be presents, handmade gifts to each other. There would be laughter. And over all of it, there would be the warm blessing of the newborn A’ Ghrian. Marzipan thought, “He’s a little baby — he’ll go to sleep early tonight. I must be there to help tuck him in. We’ll all want to go to sleep early tonight!”

The Rite of Writing Right & The White Rose

A few days ago I went to a talk  by William Kenower at the Writers’ Workshoppe, and one of the first thing he said was that it was of primary importance to write what you truly want to write  — not to worry about the expectations of others, not to be concerned with approval, or any of that  — just to write it. And in the class I attended yesterday (also at the Writer’s Workshoppe), Midge Raymond emphasized the importance of blogging among many other useful things. This whole study thing is, for me, about being a better writer  — and indeed, being a published author at all. I know… I am published and all that, but I want to be better at it.

So here is the blog that I most want to write at this moment:

One of those odd little things that happen so often came up a few days ago. I wanted a photo of a white rose for a book cover and for a piece of stained glass in Second Life. It’s September. In Western Washington. Not a lot of roses around probably. None in my garden. The only thing I have is a miniature peach rose that hasn’t bloomed all summer.

But…

I mentioned this lack of white roses to my friend, Raine, and she too had none, had seen none, and didn’t expect to at this time of year. Yet, as we walked out to the car to go shopping, she noticed that my tiny rose was finally blooming  — one blossom only. Looking at it closely, we saw that was white and not peach. The label still says “peach” but the rose had gone for white instead.

I’m dismayed to report that my first reaction was to wonder what was wrong with it. My second was to realize that I had asked for a white rose and here it astonishingly was. My third was to silently grumble that I’d had a big, fluffy white rose in mind (though I hadn’t said so) and that this was “only” a paltry little miniature thing. And my fourth was to be ashamed of myself. Sheesh. Perhaps I need to wash my brain out with soap.

In fact, I then realized that a miniature rose was perfect for my needs — after all, both the book cover and the stained glass are for the chat sith dos, the little people, in Marzipan’s Adventures. What would they want with a rose larger than their heads to lug around?

And then I forgot to take the photo.

And now? Yes, I’m grateful for the tiny white rose, for the little bud appearing beside it, for the generosity of MamaNature, and for her delightful response to my need. You can call it a co-incidence if it makes you feel better, but to me and to many others, it’s one of the little miracles that happen often, and it is a joy to notice and be grateful for them.

#

So, that is this morning’s response to “write what you really want to say.” As Kenower promised, it made me happy to write it. He also told us to ask ourselves when we’d finished writing if we were satisfied that we’d said what we really wanted to say, our real truth, and if we’d said it accurately. I just read this over, and yes, I did and it did. And you don’t need to worry that I’m going to start doing blogs three times a day — I’ve got a bunch of other things I’d just love to write.

Yesterday I went out and lo! The tiny rose was still blooming, and thus photos were made. So, here, larger than life, is the rose and I hope you can enjoy it without the nonsense I went through about it!

A Might-As-Well-Be-White Rose
A Might-As-Well-Be-White Rose

Truthiness, Energy, & Faery Economics 103

I just awakened (it’s 4:45 AM, but who cares about that?) with faery economics in my head again. I don’t, as you must realize by now, fully understand them, so the fae keep trying to explain them to me. This is very basic stuff to them, but full of shifting energies and mystery to me.

This morning’s lesson: It’s all about change and the exchange.

I woke up wondering why the fae want me to write the books I’m working on, because it is my perception that they do want that very much. (I won’t argue with anyone about whether that is objectively “true” or not—my perceptions may or may not be thy perceptions, but—like all of us—mine influence what I do. So I’m working hard on the books and they are coming along well—again, my perception 😉 ). As I think/intuit my way through Marzipan’s story, it is changing my energy/thoughts/behavior in a way that the world could change—if enough of us want it to make it so. And the oracle book is the same, but different.

The thing I’m learning right this moment is that the reason the fae have so much difficulty with the “money thing” (see http://www.jesalog.com/?s=economic for my first two posts on this) is because their perception and methods are so different from humans. Instead of messing around with earning money with which to attempt to buy things that may not even be for sale, they look for a connection of desire-energy with matching desire-energy. For instance, if I want to see the world change in a certain way and if they want to see the same changes, it obviously (to them) behooves us to work together. Their idea of “working together” seems to be about facilitating things in a naturally magical way that will help both of us to do what we can toward that change, resulting in a synergistic effect that neither of us may be able to create by ourselves.

Like writing books. Well, I can write them by myself, but that doesn’t get them out to other people. For publication and distribution I need both help and “luck”—cooperation, synchronicity, things coming together in surprising but wonderful ways. Meeting the right people “by accident”, receiving the right help at the right time “by coincidence”. Of course, my part in this is to exercise serendipity—the ability to recognize good things when they happen and to take advantage of them. And to, ahem, actually write down the inspirations in a coherent and (hopefully) engaging form.

In practical terms, from my own side of the experience, this seems to result in many things, both large and small, “working” for me in a fashion that is convenient and verging on the miraculous. “Coincidence” and synchronicity abound.

Even if it turns out that we humans can’t or don’t do our part “successfully” there is still value in what we do—in the energy/action. It adds to the total of that energy/action in our Universe, in non-local consciousness, in the Void-which-is-fullness. If we make the effort, it adds to the force of change—and the fae understand that even when we don’t. It’s the effort that counts more than any illusory “results”. You change the world, even if the human part of the world doesn’t notice.

It’s kind of like the hundredth monkey thing. You know that story, right? The one where there are two islands, both inhabited by monkeys but the monkeys of one island are not in physical contact with each other. On one island, the monkeys figure something out and develop a new behavior. They wash their some of their food before eating it. The new behavior spreads throughout the island, and when the last ( or the hundredth monkey, depending on the version) has learned to wash the food before eating it, there is a sudden jump (I suppose this is where nonlocal consciousness comes in). Suddenly, monkeys on the neighboring island, without physical contact with the first group, begin washing their food before eating.

This story has its problems—like whether or not it is “true” in an objective view of truth as factual information. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundredth_monkey_effect ) However, it has a certain value of “truthiness” for many people. It’s based on something that many feel intuitively is true—that the world can be changed by intangible means—even that behavior can be changed in a widespread group when enough beings adopt the new behavior. It may be objectively true, it may not—we haven’t proved it scientifically either way and we’ve only our internal, intuitive, gut-feeling to go on. It’s about the reality or unreality of nonlocal consciousness, which we’ve talked about before here.

I guess what I’m saying is that it works for me. Does it work for you? (The comments link is at the bottom of the page below the sharing buttons—and your comments would be most welcome!)

When God/dess Grins At You…

I dreamt…

I was trying to understand…

I was in a large, open, airy room with many other people. Around the edges of the room (and randomly placed within it) there were shelves, cupboards, and bookcases — all crammed full of things. At a glance I could see hundreds of books (of course!), jars of various powders and liquids, rolled scrolls, piles of art supplies, whatever we might need to learn by creating.

It felt like a school but we were our own teachers. We were all sitting in little groups at small tables, but we were not working together. Each one was studying on his or her own. Some were writing in notebooks, others making drawings, diagrams, paintings, or sculpting. Some were reading, and a few were doing combinations of these things. There was an intense silence except for the rustling of pages, the skritch of pens upon paper, and the soft sound of brushes. I had a large pad of paper in front of me together with pens of many colors — bright and subtle, clear and muddy, translucent and opaque, scintillating and dull, through and beyond the rainbow.

I urgently, achingly wanted to understand something about God/dess so I began by drawing the three circles of a Venn diagram. Venn diagrams are fun and sometimes they bring great clarity to things. These didn’t. Each circle became more complex as I wrote within it and studied it. The things within the circles multiplied, as if they were spawning other circles randomly. Things that seemed simple on the surface were full of complicated concepts that often I couldn’t comprehend at all. The harder I tried to understand, the more confusing it was. I got hot and sweaty and frustrated and felt like a failure. My beautiful colored pencil broke because I was pushing so hard. This wasn’t working! I felt driven to do this but was getting nowhere.

A gong rang. Everyone gathered their things up quickly and streamed out into the bright day, chattering . The area we emerged into was mostly paved, but there were occasional benches on little areas of grass with flowers, bushes, and an occasional a lone tree. There were huge numbers of people there, all coming from different buildings and streaming toward … something — I didn’t know what. The people were different ages, nationalities, colors. Some seemed happy, some sad, many perplexed, even some frustrated and overheated like me. We were like the pens I had been working with — no permutation was missing. We were gradually funnelling into a single walkway, with light-colored (kind of tan, kind of gold) walls on both sides. The sun shone brightly on the wall to the right.

As we passed a stylized metal sculpture of god/dess (it was impossible to tell which) hanging on the wall, some people were pausing to pray aloud or to discuss it. I paused too, but didn’t do either of those things. I held out my cupped, upward-turned hands to the god/dess, not knowing if I was offering something or begging. It felt like both. The god/dess’s eyes sparkled as she/he looked at me and he/she grinned.

In that moment…

Briefly…

I understood.

I got it fully.

No, I can’t explain it. Some things (quite a lot of them, in fact) don’t fit into words. The only way you can put them into words is to chop bits off — which is not something one should (or can) do with god/dess. To do so simply lessens understanding rather than enhancing it.

The people around me fell silent as they saw the god/dess grinning gleefully at me from that formerly neutral, stylized face. I turned away from the pressure of their intent but unspoken demands for explanations that it was not possible to give.

A small, brown, round-faced child suddenly grinned up at me with exactly the same look of glee and joy that god/dess had. He had it! I woke up suddenly and jumped out of bed. Then I just stood there, smiling and smiling for no reason at all. It was like everything that had been jangled inside me was suddenly humming smoothly.

It’s feeling, but it’s much more than feeling. It’s much more than words. It’s that moment of total connections — and something more.

It is what it is.

Who's a mycelium then?

Mushrooms under Fir

I wonder some things…
For instance… my grandmother,
my granddaughter. Some might say,
if they saw what I’ve seen,
that this child is Gran’ma’s dharma heir,
and neither of them know the word “dharma”.
And some would say that one
is the reincarnation of the other,
if they saw what I’ve seen.

I had an odd little experience a couple of evenings ago. I was on an inner journey to talk to the goddess in her aspect of the crone. (I often refer to the crone as “grandmother” and have great affection for her.) On this night, when I addressed her as Grandmother, my own Gran’ma Susie (mother’s mother) was suddenly there beside the goddess, just to the right of her.

She was smiling a contained little smile with such a twinkle behind it — you could just tell she was trying not to burst out laughing. That expression is so well-remembered, and I’ve seen that same smile on my granddaughter’s face. It was there a lot when Megan was a small merry person full of jokes. Gran’ma liked to deliver her jokes and outrageous puns with a straight face — or nearly straight — and Megan does the same. Anyway, Gran’ma was standing there, atwinkle and beaming, and I was just plain startled to see her.

I used to see or hear her often before Megan was born, but I had, we had reasons to think that perhaps my grandmother had reincarnated as my granddaughter — keeping herself in the family, as it were. A whole range of psychics, channels, mediums, clairvoyants, shamans and what not have told us over the years, first, that Gran’ma would be coming back as my son’s child, then later on that she was then taking the first steps to manifest that, and then after Megan’s birth, over and over that Megan was strongly connected to her. This information was always volunteered, never asked for by one of us.

In her turn, even as a very small child, Megan had that half-teasing smile, along with the strength, courage, wry sense of humor, and lovingness that one would expect if she were indeed Gran’ma come back. But here Gran’ma stood, feet planted firmly on the earth of my inner world, “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” as we say in my family and very much herself.

“You’re surprised to see me, aren’t you?”

I nodded and hesitantly admitted that I thought she had reincarnated.

“Well, I won’t say I haven’t, exactly. But I won’t say that I have, either.”

To say I was puzzled would be understating the matter. I was even more baffled when Megan abruptly appeared to the left of the goddess. She is ten years old now. Gran’ma looked to be in her 50s — about the age she was when I had the years that Megan has now. It was easy to see the resemblance: the eyes, the way the hair curls, their hands, the feel of them both — a fierce and deep compassionate love they both hold for others, leavened by humor and a charm that I suspect comes from just loving people and the world in general.

(I remember that when Gran’ma was dying and I was sitting with her in the hospital, one of the very last things she did was to look up at me and with an obvious effort breathlessly said, “I love you all. I love each of each of you.” She struggled to say more and couldn’t, so I tried to help. “Do you want me to tell everyone that for you?” She immediately relaxed, smiled, and a tiny nod said all I needed to know. Then her eyes shut. After that, she slipped into a coma and was soon gone. And when she was gone, I spent a couple of days calling each of her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grand children and telling every one of them, “Gran’ma Susie said to tell you she loves you.” It wasn’t exactly the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but it was one of the most rewarding. And educational.)

But to come back to the present… here Gran’ma is, and there Megan is. Alike as two peas, but in different pods — or the same pod, strung out over time. Or something. Are they the same person or not? Is there linearity here or not? I just don’t know.

The Crone Goddess steps back and somehow reaches around all three of us, pulling us into a tight hug — so tight that we all melted together for a timeless time. It was indescribable.

Then we separated again and looked at each other for one of those forever moments. And Megan and Gran’ma both faded away. The Crone, whose eyes were both Gran’ma’s and Megan’s eyes, asked. “Did you understand that?”

“With my heart, perhaps, but not with my head!”

She nodded and said, “That’s all that’s needed. But here is a picture for you to play with.” An image blossomed in my mind — tiny mushrooms in a faery ring. For a moment I was puzzled. I’ve been learning about fungi recently and they are truly fascinating. What we see above the ground are not individuals. Under the earth, they connect with each other, sharing their roots and underground structure in one much larger being. The things we see are just the fruit of that being, deeply rooted in their living self. Although the mushrooms we see are separate in appearance, in reality there is just one, and we do not see much of it at all.

That larger underground being does vital things to support the life of trees and other plants. The network of the mycelium, the living body of the fungus underground, is really just beginning to be scientifically studied and faintly understood. Scientists have ideas about how mycelium helps the trees, may even be a communication network between them, how it makes the soil fertile and nourishing for all plants — and how it does some other quite magical-sounding things. And did you know, that there is more biomass (living material) under the surface of the earth than there is on top of it? Much more! I didn’t, and am still stunned by that.

However, to come back to what happened in my lunar cycling meditation, this explains a lot about the relationship between Gran’ma and Megan, and yes, even me, without me being able to quite articulate it. I had been thinking of us as being something like pearls on a string with other beads or gems between us. But…

…from the online Urban Dictionary: chronosynclastic infundibulum ~ n. A point in space where, upon a person entering it, that person’s existence in space-time ceases to be linear, becoming discrete. This means that a person that has entered a chronosynclastic infundibulum exists at multiple points and lines in space-time. For example, such a person could exist at all points in time in one place and also appear at another point for five minutes.

And Verbotomy.com says: ~n. A place, or a moment, where all the different kinds of truths fit together, and where there are many different ways to be absolutely right about everything.

It has been so many years since I read the book — it seems that perhaps chronosyclastic infundibulum was both of those things and more, just as the ideas of reincarnation and dharma heirs and mycelium are all true of this and all other relationships, but not even the three together tell the whole story.

What if we are all chronosynclastically infundibulated all the time, and only our indecision (or something) keeps us from realizing it? What if all this is related to the ideas on non-local consciousness and natural magic? (This may be too much thinking for a Libra…)

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!

Lineage & Hands


Megan’s Hands On My Altar Stone

Here I am this morning:
reading Mary Oliver,
having fits of ecstasy
at the beauty on the page —

and feeling that
I have wasted my life.
I am 75 and still
cannot write so exquisitely!

It’s all about seeing,
looking past the surface
into the layers of kinship
and deep story.
And yet —

Yesterday,
my granddaughter and I
sat in my garden and compared
our hands, the shapes and lines,
hers, young and smooth,
no more than a tracery of
the dominant pattern —
and mine, old and full of living,
a spider’s crazed web
between the main lines —
yet those deepest ones
forming a pattern
quite like Megan’s.

Once, many years ago,
I did that with my grandmother,
and we, too, found that our hands
were uncannily alike.

When Megan was birthing
and I was rushing
to be there to greet her,
I heard a voice say,
“She has your hands.
You women are like
pearls on a string,
and the lineage endures.”

I told Megan this yesterday. She is ten,
and her eyes grew wide as she listened,
as mine had ten years before
when I saw a line stretching
back and back into the mist
of pearls and hand prints —
healer’s hands.

So, perhaps it was
not wasted after all, this life,
but simply a pearl to be found on a string.

© Copyright 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

Buddhism on Wings

or
How I Became Kinda Buddhist

Once upon a time, many ages ago when I was in my thirties, I was walking back to my office in San Diego on a blustery spring day. Stray scraps of paper were leaping and dancing in the gusty wind. It was a game to grab them as they passed by and then tuck them neatly in the next trash can. In the distance, one, about a half of a page, lifted lightly into the air. Something about it caught me—it swooped so low and twirled so high and with such lithesome grace, never quite touching the ground or the buildings. As I continued walking, I watched it, hoping it would come close enough to catch. Its wild gyrations carried it up almost to the roof level of two-story buildings before spiraling down—and rising again. It pirouetted at roof height right across the street before diving down and back the way it had come. With a sudden reverse, it swerved toward me… and gently settled against my chest.

I stood there, stunned, for a moment as it nestled there, held close by the breeze, until I reached slowly up and peeled it carefully from my breast. The first side was blank. The other side had been written on in hard pencil, not easy to read as it flapped gently in my hand. I smoothed it against a handy wall and held it there. It was a simple list of eight concepts, each with a few words of explanation after it. They were Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

I remember that the first was “Right View. To see things as they really are. To see the true nature of all things.” I don’t remember the exact wording of the others, but as I read down through the list, I became quite excited. Here, concise and clear, was a description of the path I’d been trying to follow in my own fumbling way. It was like hearing a huge bell ring, the kind that makes your bones vibrate. For several minutes, I just stood there on the street, reverberating. Carefully, I rolled the paper and carried it to my office where I sat and just looked at it until it was almost time for the next client. I can’t say I was thinking or reading— just there, gently humming like a Tibetan bowl being rung.

My office consisted of three main rooms—the front, public room where I taught classes and met individual clients for counseling, the middle room for healing and massage, and the private back room for paperwork and writing. I took the page to the back room and pinned it to the wall above my desk so I only needed to raise my eyes to see it.

Gradually, it became a habit to look at it whenever there was an important decision to make. The checklist helped me keep on track more easily. Then it seemed obvious to begin applying it more widely. Did what I wrote, the classes I prepared, my actions and reactions concerning clients and students measure up to those standards? One of the first things learned (from a Sufi) was that “right” in this context meant “most appropriate, most loving, most healing.” It was a constant challenge, and I fell by the wayside a lot.

About a half a year or so later, a fellow teacher was in the back room as we checked through some class plans. He saw the half-sheet and said, “Oh, I didn’t know you were into Buddhism.”

I didn’t know that either and told him so. He said, “But that’s the eightfold path, the core of Buddhism.”

I looked at it and shrugged. “I found this list and use it for a checklist for stuff. It’s what I’m trying to do. I didn’t realize it was Buddhist.” Though I loved and trusted the man, I didn’t feel like telling him about the paper whirling through the air and plastering itself to my heart. If that happened now, I’d think that Faery brought it to me, the spirits of the wind and air, perhaps, and would probably say so, but I was more shy about these things back then.

“I’ll bring you a book about Buddhism. You’ll like it.”

He did, and I did, and it was the first of a number of books I’ve read on Buddhism, mostly Zen, but also other branches growing from the root of the Buddha’s teachings. And I’ve also gone to a number of classes and meetings to try to learn more. Buddhism is vast. But I wouldn’t call myself a Buddhist. If asked and if I have to come up with a “religion” I usually say “Zen Pagan” and leave it at that.

As far as my current practice goes, I’m human and often mess up. I’m still not perfect at those eight simple guidelines. What is “perfection” anyway? The word itself may be a kind of a trap. Eight little guidelines for living and loving, for compassion and healthy relationships with self and universe. Just eight. Amazingly difficult. Subtle, too. They sound so straightforward — and they are, but things have a tendency to complicate in human minds. We seem to have to start from simplicity, go through a great deal of complexity until our understanding expands enough to move on to a higher level of simplicity. It seems like all these lessons are quite simple once we truly get them. And it also seems that once we truly get them, a little time passes and they start complicating again… because there is yet another level to reach that we couldn’t see before we got to this one.

Somewhere along my rather vagabond way through life, the original piece of paper disappeared. I’ve read a lot since then, and applied what felt appropriate. I made and still make mistakes; hopefully, I learn from them. Things are still checked by the “right guidelines” when there is doubt. You’d be astonished at how much time I spend on some of my responses on Facebook as I work through these. Some responses take days to get past the immediate reaction and into a space of reasonable clarity and “rightness”—as best I understand it.

There may be an end to developing wisdom, but I don’t know if humans ever find it or if we have to progress far beyond the limits of the human mind before we get there. In fact, it may be that the consciousness of the entire universe isn’t there yet. I wonder what would happen if the One became fully enlightened—reaching some state we can’t even begin to imagine. What would that do to us, the tiny cells in Its being? Or does enlightenment work the other way and we small cells have to each and every one reach that ultimate Beingness before the One can?

Meanwhile, I’m still working on trying to find the heart of simplicity in the seeming tangle of complexity. We learn interesting things that way. And I watch carefully what the wind brings me.

© Copyright 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.