death

Day 6: Birth/Death/Rebirth (#30daysofspring)

Scatter my ashes on the tree covered hills March 2016 022
Let my bones come to rest on these stones
Raindrops will come to carry me away
Back to the Fire of All.*

At sunset, I headed to the woods with my drum. I had been thinking about the course prompts for day 6 and found myself singing the little song above. On the way, I stopped to look at the magnolia tree that we planted in memory of my third baby, who died in my second trimester of pregnancy. His death-birth, my hemorrhage and hospital transfer after his birth, and the intense walk through grief that followed, was my death-life-rebirth experience that I’ve written about before–as well as a shamanic initiation into my priestess path and my dedication to the Goddess. His memorial tree is beginning to bud.

After my drum time in the woods, I turned to go back in and looked up to see many buds on the wild plum that was damaged last year and that I feared would not survive. Through its branches, the bright crescent return of the moon…March 2016 023

Unfathomable eons
Glacier time
I am just a blink of an eye
But I can sit, and watch, and wonder.

(*I realized the next morning that my little tune was similar to Kellianna’s Warrior Queen song. **This is actually my writing from March 14)

Categories: #30daysofspring, ceremony, chants, death, drums, endarkenment, moon wisdom, music, nature, night, poems, practices, prayers, pregnancy loss, priestess, sacred pause, self-care, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Day 28: Releasing the Beloved Dead (#30DaysofHecate)

IMG_9382When my grandma died in 2013, we first did a family ceremony with sky lanterns in the field by my parents’ house, since her actual service wasn’t held until the following month. Even though it was daylight at the time, we lit a “wish lantern” (paper sort of hot air balloon thing that you release and it floats high into the air until the fuel finally extinguishes). As we watched the lantern sail away on the currents of the breeze and above the green trees, we called out the following as a responsive reading:

Into the freedom of wind and sunshine

Response – We let you go

Into the dance of the stars and the planets

Response – We let you go

Into the wind’s breath and the hands of the stars

Response – We let you go

Tonight, at sunset-moonrise, I took a drawing of her down to the woods and had a little personal ceremony using the elemental release included below that was in Joanna’s prompt for Day 28.

Then, I drummed and sang as night fell.

Last Rites: An Elemental Release
(To be said in ceremony when a loved one has died.)

This is the place we will all one day gather, the place where the Dark Mother waits.
This is the path we must all walk alone, to stand at the quarterly gates.
Here lies what’s left of all that has been, of Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
Into the cauldron of tears we commit her [him], to change into waters of birth.

We release to the North her [his] flesh and her [his] bones and all that belongs to the Earth.
We release to the East her [his] breath and her [his] voice and all that flies free on the Wind.
To the South we return her [his] passion and Spirit and all that burns pure in the Fire.
To the West we release her [his] blood and her [his] tears and all that’s washed pure in the Water.
To the Center we turn. We let our hearts grieve, seeking comfort of family and friends.

For we know in our hearts we will see her [him] again on a Wheel turning round without end.
Gentle and beloved Spirit of ___________, fly from this place on wings of speed, where gentle breezes blow to a place that has no pain. Have no thought of leaving us. Your work on Earth is done, you ran the race, you loved and were loved, you danced the dance* and won.

We will call your name at Samhain. What is remembered, lives.

— Angie Buchanan, death midwife, founder/director of Earth Traditions.

(*this was actually “fought the fight,” but that didn’t fit to me, so I changed it)

IMG_9385

 

 

 

Categories: #30daysofHecate, ancestors, blessings, death, endarkenment, family, night, practices, priestess, readings, ritual, sacred pause, spirituality, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Day 21: Old Woman (#30daysofHecate)

Ipad Pix 090
Life’s sunset.

Quilted in bright colors
Sinking over hills of gold
and long dry valleys…

(Woodspriestess: Grandmother)

Last night I dreamed of my grandmother. Dressed all in white, she was visiting at my parents’ house. Amazed to see her, I exclaimed over and over again about how I’d missed her and how it was so good to see her again. I hugged her, heart to heart, and marveled to her–I know exactly what you look like, how you sound, what your smile is like, how your eyes look, what it feels like to hug you. I haven’t forgotten! I know just what you’re like! We talked about how the last time I saw her alive was at my brother’s wedding and we didn’t know it was the last time. We talked about how it was a such a surprise to have her illness progress so quickly. She told me that she will only be back to visit four more times and showed me a scrapbook with only four unfilled pages left in it. She reminded me that one of the other times she visited had been to see Tanner (when he was new, I dreamed she was holding him and smiling.)

I woke up too soon and spent the rest of the night trying to make sure I remembered the dream (including dreaming about telling people I dreamed it). When I got up this morning, I told my husband about the dream and cried.

carry my gratitude
straight to her heart
fold it into her hands
nestle it in her body
where it will take root
and blossom…

(Woodspriestess: Grandmother Prayer)

 

Categories: #30daysofHecate, ancestors, death, family, night, sacred pause | 1 Comment

Day 13: Silence (#30DaysofHecate)

…my silence is a pause
in music, a dark moon,
the moment before bleeding.
My silence is the space
between two heartbeats,
the moment of breath’s fullness…

— Patricia Monaghan, Seasons of the Witch (via 30 Days of Hecate)

It is somewhat ironic or appropriate that on the day that “silence” was the prompt for 30 Days, I fell asleep before making my daily blog post (the first time I’ve missed in four different “30 Days” course participation). Therefore, I was “silent” on this blog.

Yesterday was also the sixth anniversary of the death-birth of my tiny third baby, a boy we named Noah. His brief life had a profound and transformative impact on my spirituality, my priestess work, my work with women, my art and my direction, as well as on our family as a whole. Tiny footprints are powerful things.

While I didn’t make a post, I did draw a Womanrunes card and a Gaian Tarot card. I got The Hearth, rune of nurturance, and Awakening…

November 2015 148

 

Categories: #30daysofHecate, death, endarkenment, family, pregnancy loss, sacred pause | Leave a comment

Day 8: We remember them (#30daysofHecate)

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“Tell me again, a story of an ancestor of your bloodline or of your heartline, a story you have not shared before…” (30 Days course prompt)

This is a photo of my grandma on her wedding day to her second husband (who is still alive). Her first husband was the love of her life and he died from colon cancer at age 59 (in 1989). The next year, she married one of his lifelong friends and they were married for more than twenty years until her death from sudden, aggressive pancreatic cancer in 2013 (at 83). I remember this wedding clearly, in the living room of the home she’d shared with my grandpa and in which they raised their three children. I remember my mom and her siblings as being a little strained and tense. I remember my grandma laughing and almost giddy. They kept the wedding a secret from all of their friends and had a family-only ceremony and then an after-party with a group of friends, to whom they then announced their marriage. I remember standing next to my grandma at the front door of her house, greeting guests. She’d turned her new sapphire wedding ring around so the stone was hidden in her hand and she showed it to me, saying, “see, now no one will see it accidentally before we make the announcement!” I remember feeling like this was a “weird” or “funny” (not funny “ha ha,” but funny as in odd), because I’d never seen her in this mood before–kind of silly and excited–I didn’t know how to experience her this way, like she wasn’t as grown up as I’d thought.

Looking back at the photo as an adult myself, I can now begin to imagine how she must have felt in this moment, making this decision, possibly facing criticism and disapproval from friends and family and being giddy with excitement and nervousness and perhaps some fear about doing it anyway.

Prayer for my grandmother October 2015 002
sweet wind carry it
hope guard it
love keep it
peace bless it

carry my gratitude
straight to her heart
fold it into her hands
nestle it in her body
where it will take root
and blossom

(Full disclosure: I am standing right next to her in this photo [you can see part of my arm and hair], but I cropped myself out because I look terrible! I am only 11 in the photo, so maybe I should have left myself in, but it was not my best look.)
Categories: #30daysofHecate, ancestors, death, family, sacred pause | Leave a comment

Day 7: An ancestor offering (#30daysofhecate)

  
I made soul cakes with my kids this morning and had a fabulous time. On one, I included the Womanrunes Moonboat: rune of journeys and took it out to leave under my grandma’s memorial hydrangea bush. ❤️ She loved to travel and was very adventurous, so it seemed like a good tribute. On my own, I put The Flying Woman, rune of transformation (she’s been speaking to me a lot lately!). One of the best things about Womanrunes is how useable they are. They definitely go beyond being  “just” a divination system. 

  
   

Categories: #30daysofHecate, death, divination, family, prayers, sacred pause, Womanrunes | Leave a comment

Day 4: My beloved dead (#30DaysofHecate)

 ’Tis the ancestors’ breath, when the fire’s voice is heard,
’Tis the ancestors’ breath, in the voice of the waters . . .*

I felt a strong connection today to the prompts about my “beloved dead” and to ancestor altars. My heart felt full and appreciative today. After a lot of thoughtful effort from my mom and aunt to pack them up for me and then a cross-country drive by my uncle driving them to me in Missouri from California, I now have my grandma’s collection of international dolls from her many travels. I didn’t expect to have these and I feel very thankful for the thoughtfulness and love that went into getting them to me. I set them up tonight which felt like setting up an ancestor altar of sorts. I added some small dolls of my own and was touched to see how many “matchers” there were in our collections–meaning I had one that I’ve kept since she gave it to me as a child and then she had a matching one in her own collection.

My 4.5 year old daughter helped me unpack them and get them all set up. Another link in the chain…

IMG_8803Then, I looked at the tops of my bookshelf and realized I already have quite an altar there. In the middle, there is a box with my grandma’s Dionne Quintuplet dolls + her beloved Hitty doll and a photo of her. On the other shelf is a case with some of my grandma’s Shirley Temple dolls as well as some of my own dolls. On top of that shelf is a drawing of my grandma and also a “four generations” photo of my great-grandma, my grandpa, my mom, and me. (My mom is very much alive, but the others are my beloved dead.)

Today also made me think of two of my past posts for Feminism and Religion:

An Epic Woman: A Feminist Eulogy by Molly

Forest Heritage by Molly

*From the song “Breaths,” lyrics by Birago Diop, music by Ysaye Barnwell, and recorded by Sweet Honey in the Rock. Listen to the song here. (via 30 Days of Hecate)

Categories: #30daysofHecate, death, family, sacred pause | Leave a comment

Of Chainsaws and Change

October 2014 168Sometimes you have to let dead things go
sink back into the body of the Earth
from where they came.

Let them re-enter the cycle of life.
Let them breathe again into the rustle of fall leaves.

Sometimes when the sheltering arms that have surrounded you
have dropped away.
Your horizons are broadened
Your eyes opened.
And you breathe deeper, climb higher, and run freer.

There is a time for gathering in and drawing close.
There is time for opening up and letting go.
Softening the grip that demands that nothing ever change.
Letting go of the way things used to be.
And just watching, to see what grows anew.

One day there will something here
that has never been here before.

October 2014 169

What now remains of my favorite maple.

During the drought we experienced around three years ago, a lot of the trees in our woods died. Some of them died that year, but we weren’t absolutely sure they were really gone until they got no new leaves the following year. Some of them died the following summer, probably due to having been weakened so much by the drought conditions that they couldn’t rebound. This year, we decided to cut some of them down—both because we heat with wood and winter is approaching and because some of them are so close to the rocks I visit that if they were to fall, they could hurt me. It felt, and continues to feel, like a “selfish” decision by me though to have cut them, like we should have just let the cycle of the forest continue its life and rhythm unimpeded by human interference. It was hard to evaluate the variables of good woodlot management, firewood procurement, and personal safety while also feeling like I was betraying my sacred spot in the woods, betraying the relationship I built there. I still don’t know whether we made the right choice. I do know that the landscape in the woods has changed now.

While my husband and the friends that helped him were as careful as possible not to damage anything unnecessarily and to only October 2014 164 cut trees that were most certainly dead, one of those trees fell on a plum tree that I enjoy very much and split off the top part of the plum and several branches. I can hardly stand it. This is the tree for which the strongest feeling of betrayal comes, since it is very much still alive. I know this tree. I know how it starts to blossom early in the springtime, how the petals of the flowers fall onto the rocks like snow when an early frost comes, how its leaves are the first to fall in the autumn and to carpet the rocks with their even, nearly round shapes. It is by far the biggest plum tree in the woods—I rarely see them as big as this.

One of the things I learned from my whole woodspriestess experiment was that it is completely possible to create a deep, rich, full, complex, genuine relationship with a physical space and the non-human life forms within it. As I looked at the damaged tree, I thought though, this relationship now is NOT a mutually rewarding for the trees. I’ve gained so much and learned so much in this space and what I have now returned to it is destruction. I cried over the plum. But, tears do not heal broken trees. Nor do apologies re-grow broken limbs. I have to sit with that. I put my hands on its trunk and told it I was so sorry. I felt my heart beat in my palms in this rhythm: I am strong. I am strong. I am strong.

And then, look what I’ve already been through. October 2014 166

I looked at its trunk then, how to emerges from a small space between two rocks—pushing its way up through very inhospitable, rocky terrain—and how it grows at nearly a right angle to the rocks themselves. This is not a tree that grows straight and tall, this is a tree that arches over the rocks in its own, powerful, individual manner of survival.

I had taken an altar bowl my mom made down to the rocks with me to photograph and after I was done with my pictures, I carefully poured the water from the bowl around the base of the plum and while I did so, I started to sing the Hoʻoponopono song that I learned about from a friend.

I am sorry
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Thank you.

It was still a betrayal of this plum tree. I’m not making excuses about that. However, I will wait and watch and see if it can rise again anyway.

 

 

Categories: death, nature, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | 6 Comments

Woodspriestess: Shadows

Shadows   April 2014 132
shadows of time
mystery and space
shadows of home
shadows of place
shadows from life
stretching past death
shadows of hope
crossing the rest.

Lives past
Lives future
Unlived lives
Dream lives
Each casts its shadow
on the rest
making patterns on the ground
patterns on rock
arms of branches silhouetted April 2014 030
against the sky
new leaves
shadowing across a carpet of those gone before.

We all cast shadows
and create cool places
in which others may sit.

 

April 2014 018

Categories: death, nature, poems, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

The Laying On of Hands

We lay our hands on the February 2014 007
ashes of a woman who has
known birth, who has known life.
We cradle fondly the memories
of love and togetherness—holding
them for one last time in our arms
and let them go—let her go—ashes to ashes
earth to earth and dust to dust.
How sad it is—the time when
loving arms must cradle
memories instead of the warmth
of lived life.
How tenderly do fingers
touch one last time and
gently pull away.
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

–Kerry Craig in To Make and Make Again: Feminist Ritual Thealogy by Charlotte Caron

I’m in the middle of writing a paper for my ritual theory class at OSC and this little reading caught my eye. It is simple and poignant. It also made me think of my grandma and her memorials.

Categories: blessings, death, OSC, prayers | Leave a comment

Be-ing and do-ing…

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that my last post on Feminism and Religion was about my grandma’s memorial service. This is a snippet:

However, this is what I would say about her, and what I did say about her: my grandma lived her life and was a vibrant example to all of us of how to live well and wisely one’s wild and precious life. I valued most about her all the interesting things she did. She was active and busy. She was always doing stuff. And, it was cool stuff and she was a cool person and I loved her and learned from her precisely because she was so busy and interesting all the dang time. I come from a long line of busy women with lots of interests and abilities. Maybe that is just fine.

via An Epic Woman: A Feminist Eulogy by Molly | Feminism and Religion.

I received a comment remarking on the “doing” orientation of my memorial speech/service and this gave me food for thought:

Having read both your eulogy and Grace’s, I’m left wondering if we define feminism in terms of doing instead of being. I think I do, and I wonder if that doesn’t get me in trouble sometimes. I hear you acknowledging and affirming your own lineage of “doing,” and that seems to be a good thing. I’m not calling that personal affirmation into question, but our collective understanding of feminism. Anybody have any thoughts on this? Are we still trying to overcome the stereotype of the passive female? Or is this connected to our need for feminist activism? And what is a feminist “being” anyway? Being feminist in the moment? Embodying the Goddess?

These are excellent questions to consider and something I actually turned over a LOT while I was writing this and in thinking about my grandmother because I could see that this was happening. So, I thought I’d share what I turned over in my response to the comment…

How DO we define a feminist mode of “being” (or any kind of “be-ing” for that matter)? Being, how someone IS and how we know who we are, often eludes definitional capture, which is exactly why we describe others in terms of doing. What IS “being” anyway? Often, I actually find the idea of “just BE” or “be-ing” or the like crowds up my head with yet another admonition of something I’m supposed to DO to be “correct” and adequately self-helped. I’ve also noted that it feels damaging to me to associate “doing” or activity as a “masculine” trait and “being” (or passivity/receptivity) as “feminine.” I also know that in feminism or otherwise it often takes “doers” to get good work done–suffragists, for example! (our activist lineage you reference too)

In regular life, however, rather than theory or self-help books, I find we see someone’s being through the doing–and that can be feminist aligned or otherwise, for sure!

Returning to my grandma as my example, through her doing, I saw her being. In the quilts she made, I saw her love and attention. This in a real sense was her language of being. And, because she DID, one of those very quilts is still there on my bed and I sleep under it every night, even though her being is no longer here with us (or is it still here, because it is still communicated through the works she left behind her?). Her name is signed with a clear, confident stroke on my bedspread in her own hand and it covers me as I sleep. It was through her travels, that we saw her spirit of adventure. It was through the works of her hands that we saw her creativity. It was through her words and conversations and the books she read that we saw her intelligence. If she hadn’t been willing to DO those things, could we have actually seen who she WAS? Brilliant, irrepressible, adventurous, determined…

(Actions speak louder than words!)

Of course, balance is also important. “Doing” self-care also matters. In self-care practices, I think we encounter being in a feminist sense (maybe??). I maintain my daily woodspractice of sitting in the woods each day–there, I can just BE at last! Or, can I? Since the moment of being requires doing to get there–I had to get up, leave the house, go to the woods, walk up onto the rock and sit there, paying attention, feeling the air, thinking my poems, hearing the birds, watching the sunset. That is still doing, in its way. And, I like it.

Ah ha! So, might a feminist-aligned distinction also be found in doing for others vs. doing for/with oneself, perhaps? (I think my grandma actually got this one down really–I easily see both of these in her life)

I’ve actually struggled quite a bit in my own life with self-recrimination over not being able to “just BE,” “better.” And, it is in that sense that I recognized the “noble legacy” of coming from a long line of busy, do-ing women.

So, while our works or our “doings” may be how we are valued and that is kind of bad/patriarchal–but these opportunities are also how we show people that we value them too (feminist). HOW we “do” matters and it in THAT that we can find a feminist connection. In showing up, in doing that memorial service and doing that speech through my tears, I showed the room my own being and how we are/were connected. That was what I could DO for my family and for my grandma. Prepare a service that was loving and respectful and that honored her and who she was, at least to us—and through that, other people could see who she was too (as well as through the other people intimately involved with the memorial luncheon. I’m writing only of my experience/contribution with it, but it was a labor of love from my aunt and other people as well). My grandma helped contribute to her own obituary and requested the menu and location for her own memorial luncheon. That is doing too, yes, but it also epitomizes her way of being–I don’t know that the two can be separated or unwound from the the other. And, that active quality of doing life, was then, who she WAS in being. It is circular (and that’s pretty goddessy in itself!).

How can we describe someone without describing things they did to evidence that? To demonstrate that? I’m not sure. I think without being able to describe the doings of others, we end up with exactly the platitudes and caricatures that I find most decidedly unfeminist. i.e. “She was always loving and caring and supported me 100%.” I find THAT type of memorial statement hollow and nearly meaningless in the vagueness as well as very self-centered (I.e. Only defined in relationship to how “she made me feel.”) How do we actually KNOW that she was those things, how did we SEE that from or with her, or—all too often—-is that just what we think people are supposed to say about grandmas and we find we never knew who she was at all? (Because all we looked for or tried to feel was a stereotype of “she was always loving and nurturing” and forgot about, or never paid attention to, her laughing on the back of an elephant in Africa?)

I sense even more to write about here… ;-D

(As a side note, since she died, I’ve also found myself reconsidering the notion of “stuff” and “clutter” being somehow bad or undesirable, because that is what we have left now. I know that “memories are what matter,” blah, blah, blah, but the fact is that the “stuff” that remains of my grandma’s life and presence is a vehicle for memory and an echo of her and her being/doing that means she is still a part of my life in a tangible way, not just in a when-my-mind-turns-to-her way. Does that make sense? For example, I have one of her Shirley Temple dolls from 1957. Towards the end of fall when the doll came to live with me, I took her down to the woods for a visit. Now she sits in my kitchen. I like the connection. :))

October 2013 003

Categories: death, family, feminist thealogy | 4 Comments

Carpriestess: Buzzard Woman

Buzzard womanAugust 2013 037
scouring the earth
scavenging
uncovering
digging up
clawing away.

She picks the meat
from your bones
she drops the scales
from your eyes
she cleans out
your shell.

Digesting
transforming
all that has passed away
into something new
clearing away the dead
making way for rebirth.

Listen to her
she says
waste nothing.

Lots of vultures on the road yesterday morning and again when I returned heading the other direction. I’ve seen at least four dead armadillos on the road in the last two days. I got a comment in response to my Armadillo post surprised that we have armadillos in Missouri. Indeed, we didn’t always have them. They have migrated this direction in response to climate change, since they can now survive the more mild winters we now have here. In fact, just this past winter I saw one in the woods snuffling around through the snow. They often dig holes in our field or rustle through the woods.

This week, I also saw hummingbirds in the woods. We feed them, so I often see them in front of the house at the feeders, but I don’t usually notice them “in the wild.” It has been raining like crazy here (I mean crazy. There is significant flooding in many areas close to me, including on the gravel road I take in to town [one direction, the other direction is passable, so I’m not trapped]). This is in dramatic contrast to the horrible drought we experienced last summer. In the woods, I noticed lots of leaves starting to fall. Right now, they’re falling because of heat or disease or various reasons rather than it really being fall, but still…it was a startling reminder that autumn is coming. Really? Wasn’t it just spring and then summer?! Didn’t I just start visiting the woods on the ice and snow?!

August 2013 032

Nature’s palette…

  August 2013 024

Categories: death, nature, poems, theapoetics, woodspriestess | 1 Comment

Woodspriestess: The Outraged Ancestral Mother

The Outraged Ancestral Mother Goddessgarb 100
has awoken
she howls through canyons
claws away insecurities and doubts
and stomps illusions into dust.

She rattles hailstones
on rooftops
and whips the seas into
a froth of fury.

She dances the wind
into hurricanes
and she kindles
a wildfire
saying
watch out
it burns
pay attention.

She uproots trees June 2013 001
with her storming
thunders leaves, branches, and houses
down around your ears
crying wake up.

She screeches
on the winds
her voice becoming
a tornado
Swirling madcap
down the corridor
of time.

She lifts a chalice
of armadillo skin and whale bone
and she cries out
for change.

In the howl of outrage
and sweep of fury
in the crackle
of iced lightning
in the waves
which crest June 2013 021
against the shore
and drag
you out to sea.

In the ferocious beauty
of her howling dance
we glimpse the sun-heart
of love
sharp-edged
ragged
hot
slicing through
the veils
that shroud our thinking

We step through
and join her dance
raising our voices
in the chorus
of her song.

Draping a necklace of skulls
around our throats
and drumming
a wake up call
to our sisters and brothers.

Arise!
The Outraged Ancestral Mother
calls your name
Your blood is on her teeth
she tastes your fears
and your courage…

Yesterday, we did a double-session of our Rise Up and Call Her Name class. In the second of the day’s sessions:  “We honor the Outraged Ancestral Mother and the belief that the sacred and secular are one” (The Female Divine in All Her Glorious Shapes, Colors and Sounds). I was caught by the idea of the Outraged Ancestral Mother and we spent some time discussing her and the degree to which humanity has hurt our planet. This morning while I was practicing yoga, snippets of this new poem came floating to my mind. I had the distinct feeling that the Outraged Ancestral Mother was ready to speak to me. So, I went down to the woods to listen to what she had to say.  It was different from the kinds of things I usually write and think about and the tone was more aggressive and harsh—I surprised myself!

A note regarding the armadillo skin chalice: Ever since giving birth to my first child almost ten years ago, I have a strong reaction to roadkill, primarily centered around the maternal experience—that was someone’s BABY! She worked so hard for that life. Recently, while driving to town I saw an armadillo being picked over by crows on the road, its body becoming a hollowed out shell or rind almost. I’ve been in a pretty bad mood lately and in addition to my usual thoughts about poor babies, I also began to have depressing existential musings about what is the whole point anyway. We can all just be roadkill, nothing cares about us. Our bloody guts could be splattered across the road tomorrow and the Earth wouldn’t miss us. We are not loved by the Goddess/Universe or by anything else—we’re just roadkill. And, then, I had a vision—a dark robed Crone Goddess figure holding the armadillo shell aloft, fully cleaned out and empty and raising it to her lips as if to drink. At this point I realized, nothing is wasted. Everything is recycled. Everything is used. Every part matters, always.

June 2013 005

My new phone has a panoramic option!

Categories: death, endarkenment, feminist thealogy, Goddess, nature, poems, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | 6 Comments

Woodspriestess: Ball Ring

Ball ring June 2013 007
on her hand
and now on mine
hands that will one day
still
cease
pause.

Hands that once held me
hands that I watched
knit, quilt, sew, drive, carry
hold, hug…

Hands are gone
the ring is still here
and really
in their way
the hands are still here too.

The egg that became me June 2013 008
was carried in her body
the circle of life keeps turning
the wheel keeps spinning
and here we are
this is real now.

Ball ring
has been a lot of places
told a lot of stories
seen a lot of things
and it is still here
a reminder
of what has gone before.

Thank you.

(6/6/13)

My grandma has been on my mind all day today. It has been two months now since she died. Since we always lived far away from each other and thus often went six months without seeing her, it is easy to forget that she’s gone and not at her home in California volunteering at the zoo and working in her sewing room. I dreamed about her last night—nothing significant or easy to remember, it was more like she was at the edges of the dream, smiling from distance. I was aware of her watching us and smiling, but we didn’t talk or interact.

One of my earliest memories of her is of sitting on her lap and playing with a gold ball ring on her finger. I don’t know the story behind that ring, I feel as if I should, but from the time I was a tiny girl she always wore it when she visited her grandchildren and we all liked to play with it. I imagine it was a coincidence that she wore it around a grandchild in the first place, but then it became a thing that she did and that all of us associated with her. When my aunt and mom were going June 2013 005through her jewelry they asked if there was something I wanted and I asked for the ring. Later, my two sisters both mentioned it as well and I feel guilty or selfish for being the one to get it. At this point, I can’t wear it. It makes me feel awful to see it on my own hand. Its hers. It belongs on her hand. The whole reason I wanted it was because it was something that reminds me very concretely of her, but that is the exact same reason that I can’t wear it right now. I hope my own grandchildren will play with it though when I wear it to meet them. It fits on the same finger on my hand that it fit on hers. I sat it on a Hitty’s lap for a while and then ended up putting it into a little shadow box with her on the replica of Hitty’s bench that my dad made for my grandma.

After I recorded the above “poem,” I became obsessed with finding a picture of her wearing the ring, because suddenly I worried that I’d imagined or exaggerated that she always wore it to see us. Indeed, I don’t know if she ever wore at other times, but around the grandchildren, it was a fixture. And, I did readily locate pictures from her eightieth birthday party in which you can see the ring on her hand where it belongs.

Bill's Beach Pix 036

Bill's Beach Pix 038

When we were at Carlsbad beach in California two days before my grandma’s memorial services, I used beach stones to make names in the sand for several people.

 

IMG_7733

Mamoo was our grandma name for her.

After I made her name and took pictures of it, I was thinking about the whole issues of “signs” that people receive from loved ones who die. I’d had some conversations with my mom about it and how we don’t really get any of said signs. I was thinking that perhaps it means the person has no “unfinished business,” or perhaps that the end is the end and there simply are no signs to be had and it is silly to expect any. Right after having these thoughts, I looked down at the M in her name and there was this stone: IMG_7748There was a sign for me after all and I gratefully received it. I held this stone through the two “Mamoorial” services that followed—the committal service I planned and officiated at the chapel where her ashes were placed with my grandfather and then the Celebration of Life luncheon at which I gave a grandchild speech. I felt like I needed to be holding and rubbing this stone in order to carry out those speeches. I later found a companion heart-shaped stone on Moonstone Beach that I saved for my mom.

Categories: death, family, poems, theapoetics, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Sunday Sabbath: Tiny Desert Flowers

When I’m alone the flowers are really seen…They are felt as presence. They live and die in a few days; they keep me closely in touch with process, with growth, and also with dying.” –May Sarton

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” -Jack Kornfield

She who loves roses must be patient and
not cry out when she is pierced by thorns.
–Olga Broumas

(both in Open Mind by Diane Mariechild)

Mariechild goes on to observe that the joy and beauty of flowers may well rest in its fleetingness: “The ghost of death blows through each bloom.” I’ve previously shared my semi-religious experiences with tiny flowers:

Tiny flowers know April 2013 003
that hope blooms eternal
pushing the way
through cracked stone

reclaiming
repopulating
rebirthing the Earth

What is a seed
but a miracle
right in front of me

What am I
but a miracle
to be seeing this right now…

via Woodspriestess: Tiny Flowers | Theapoetics.

On our recent trip to California we went tourmaline mining in the desert outside of Carlsbad and we also went to Pismo Beach. At both locations, the tiny flowers of those ecosystems caught my eye. Different than the tiny flowers of the “temperate forest biome,” that I call home, but perfection just the same:

Like flower growing from rock March 2013 139
the world is full of tiny, perfect mysteries.

Secrets of heart and soul and landscape
guarded tenderly
taking root in hard crevices
stretching forth
in impossible silence.

Sleeping
resting
waiting
watching
knowing

that all one needs
is a crack in stone
and a seed of possibility…

via Woodspriestess: Stoneflower | Theapoetics.

Categories: death, nature, poems, quotes, sabbath, theapoetics | 2 Comments

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