Listening to the woods, to the stones, to Gaia, and to women...
In the woods behind my house rest a collection of nine large flat rocks. Daily, I walk down to these “priestess rocks” for some sacred time alone to pray, meditate, consider, and be. Often, while in this space, I open my mouth and poetry comes out. I’ve come to see this experience as "theapoetics"—experiencing the Goddess through direct “revelation,” framed in language. As Stanley Hopper originally described in the 1970’s, it is possible to “…replace theology, the rationalistic interpretation of belief, with theopoetics, finding God[dess] through poetry and fiction, which neither wither before modern science nor conflict with the complexity of what we know now to be the self.” Theapoetics might also be described, “as a means of engaging language and perception in such a way that one enters into a radical relation with the divine, the other, and the creation in which all occurs.”
"Just as the acorn holds limitless oaks, the Self has limitless potential. Expanding, contracting, opening, closing, leaping, pausing, watching, knowing, asking questions…" --Womanrunes, The Rune of Self
To be a human being sitting on a rock, in the sun, feeling wind, breathing in and out, reaching. This very moment, this very experience, this very capacity to sit and see and wonder, is the soul of life.
Today is my grandma's birthday. She passed away two years ago after a short and brutal bout with aggressive pancreatic cancer. After she died, my mom and I spoke briefly about whether or not my grandma's spirit is still present with us. I’ve noticed I don’t really get the kinds of “messages” that other people seem to experience after the loss of someone important to them and my mom feels pretty certain that life is over when it is over.
I’ve thoughts for years that the answers, so to speak, are beyond the grasp of our imagination, beyond the boundaries of our physical experience. Bigger, deeper, broader, and more intricate than we can ever hope to learn or know and that is why I do not pretend to have any sense of certainty about what, if anything, happens after death. There is too much we do not know or understand about the way the world works, the way the universe dances, to make any sort of definitive pronouncements and I return to subjective understanding, personal experience, and felt reality. Felt intuition. My felt intuition says that personal energy goes somewhere and that the animating force that runs through each of our bodies in life, that stirs us into being, incubates our dreams and hopes, breathes life through us. That force may well remain forever, embedded in the ripples and eddies of time and space. It may remain recognizable, it may remain conscious. Or, it may become dispersed into the larger currents of reality, though having made an indelible imprint and a lasting mark at its place on the ribbon of eternity.
The delicate threads of our lives, in the Goddess-Earth-Universe tapestry, with which we weave and are woven, hold infinite potential, and are connected in an unbreakable fabric of relationship and wholeness. It doesn’t matter how far away the ribbon unfurls, there is still a mark on it for my grandma. It doesn’t matter how great and grand the tapestry grows and how far it is woven, there is still a thread with her name upon it. And that thread, is interwoven with my own in deep and lasting ways.
Two years ago, when the grief was very fresh and I was preparing the ceremony for her memorial service, I decided to do a guided meditation called Connect to the Red Threads: a meeting with the cosmic mothers from Lunation. I’d been wanting to do it for a long time and even though my to-do list was a mile long that day, I decided to give myself the 15 minutes to do it. In the meditation, you descend into the earth and into caves below it, while your “red thread” curls around connecting with the planet. In my vision, my grandma and my mom and my daughter all joined me in the caves and we were all connected by the red threads, navel-to-navel. My grandma sat there, holding her thread and smiling, but looking kind of out-of-place and I thought, she would SO have really done this. Even though it wouldn’t have been her thing and she would have felt like it was silly or not really been interested, she would have been game to sit in a cave and hold a red thread with me in real life if I’d wanted her to do that, because if it was important to me, she tried to be interested in it too. When the meditation moved out of the cave, I sort of got swirled out into the atmosphere and I held my grandma’s hand and took her with me. We hovered out in the universe together, her wearing a blue flowered jacket, white shirt, blue slacks and blue canvas shoes and the 13 “cosmic mothers” of the meditation came out to meet us. They were not easy to perceive—they were basically each a swirly woman in veils of different color, there was an orange one, a purple one, a green one, etc. Then, we went back down to the ground, to the earth and they sat around us in a circle. My grandma and I were standing. We put our hands together, palm-to-palm, and made a kind of circular, sweeping motion. Then she said, “I am still a part of the world,” and touched my face. The meditation ended and the 13 cosmic mothers swooped away and took her with them.
One of the things I talked about during that conversation with my mom was whether or not the “message” truly comes from outside of you or just from your own psyche, doesn’t really matter. It still tells you something. It is similar to shamanic journeying—it doesn’t actually matter how much of the experience is “made up” or self-created, it still happens and it still means something.
For my grandmother’s ceremony, I re-worked part of a T.S. Eliot poem into a responsive reading so we could all read it together.
“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from…
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time..."
(photo of my grandma with me, circa 1979)
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