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It is cool this late June morning in the California Redwoods. The path leading out of camp is lined with thigh high ferns and low patches of sorrel and wild ginger. There are over a dozen of us, witches of all genders and generations, walking single file looking up the tall Redwood trunks through the green canopy of their branches, still wet with fog. We stop periodically while our teachers speak of each plant and tree, and what these Greenbloods have to teach us. Our teachers invite us to see and smell, and with permission from the plant itself, touch and taste. I particularly love the taste of the tiny bit of Redwood I put in my mouth - it is sour and astringent on my tongue, then floods me with a deep sense of rootedness, vast amounts of time and history, and a promise of connection to what has come before, including the possibility of deeply witnessing the lives of my own ancestors.
This is the third in a series of posts in which I discuss four terms that polytheists use to distinguish gods from archetypes: "real", "literal", "separate", and "agents". In this post, I want to address the position the the polytheistic gods are separate from us in a way that archetypes are not....
I was reading some “locutions” purportedly spoken by the Virgin Mary to a visionary in Medjugorje, Bosnia, when I noticed something interesting.
Not a single one of these “messages” sounded even remotely like something one would expect a 1st century Palestinian Jewish woman to say.
“From today,” she supposedly told seer Yakov Colo, “I will not be appearing to you every day, but only on Christmas, the birthday of my son” (375).
Well, there's a 1 in 365 chance that the historical Jesus was born on December 25. I suppose that if anyone could tell you when he actually was born, it would be his mother.
Assuming, of course, that it really was her you were speaking with in the first place.
By serendipity I met a friend in town on Saturday. Over coffee and an organic raspberry and white chocolate scone (still slightly warm), Mandy told me how she and a friend had been haring round Ireland on a road trip on the trail of the sidhe. Their trip took them from Tara in the east, down to Clare, then up to Carrowkeel and Knocknashee in Sligo. They took in some of the most sacred sites and amazing megaliths in the land. But they didn't really need to stir themselves so far from Fermanagh. They are all around us here. Or maybe I am just sensitive to the local fey vibrations.
Tourists ask me if I see fairies. I answer honestly. I don't see them and I very much doubt they are very much like Mabel Lucie Atwell's vision of them. Here is West Cavan I experience them as nature's skin turners and messengers. But maybe that's just how they want to show themselves to me, for I have a strong suspicion that when they want to make themselves known as friendly allies they choose a form that is least threatening to their beholder. So maybe children do see Mabel Lucie Atwell creations. Musicians hear fairy music. But I have seen a hitch hiker that turned out to be a heron standing on the road verge. A local storyteller saw a bent old woman that turned out to be a hare. 'Turned' being the operative word....
Most of us are familiar with the lovely quote by Graham Greene's wife, Vivien: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning how to dance in the rain." That's a wonderful aphorism, but as I'm sure she herself would have admitted, there are times in life when a person has to do both. Sometimes you have to stay in your cellar until the tornado has passed overhead; then you can come out and dance in gratitude for still being alive, in the gentle drizzle that follows. Life encompasses every situation; the two statements are not mutually exclusive. Over an entire human lifetime, they are equally true.
Here's another similar saying, attributed to choreographer Vicki Corona: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." Again, a great pithy aphorism. But of course she was referencing a particular situation under certain specific conditions. In reality - ask any Yogi - our life is measured, quite literally, by the number of breaths we take! And yet, at the same time, how boring would life be without those miraculous moments that take our breath away? Again, the two statements are not mutually exclusive....