Yoga Wicca Buddha

Exploring a personal, eclectic path by looking at the intersection of three great traditions.

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Archer

Archer

 
Archer has been trying to make sense of religion since her parents first abandoned her at Sunday School in the 60s. She’s a mom, yoga teacher and repository of useless bits of information on ancient religion, spiritual practices and English grammar. Check out her column “Connections” in Witches and Pagans.
 

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Winnowing the Soul

I’ve been collecting wicker. Well, garbage-picking it actually. In my neighbourhood it’s gone out of style and so it ends up on the curb. And I can’t resist it: wicker hampers, baskets, bowls…nothing I need but everything I want. There is something enchanting about the weaving and wending, the writhing willow branches held in tension to create an object of beauty and use. I have to have it.

 

It’s intricacies are engaging to the eye, tempting to the touch. It is sturdy, but not solid: air and light flow through, keeping it fresh. It is Athena’s work, and the work of the women of Vinci, an Italian river town by full of willows—their branches worked into baskets by the mother of the artist Leonardo, he who would never cease to be fascinated by the woven patterns in the purling of water, the braiding and coiling of hair, the endless interlacing of twining branches and decorative knot work. One can see this obsession working itself out even in his intricate inventions, full of winding ropes and springy slats held in tension. There is magic there, in the weave, in the willow.

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Taking the Veil

In the time of secrets, before dawn, the mists veil the mountains. In the time of silence, at midnight, wisps of clouds half-hide the moon. At the shore, the edge of mystery, the thinning surf shrouds the sand with lace. 

 

These veils—there and not there, insubstantial—grace and soften hard lines. They are compassion, they are ease, they are consolation.

 

I want a veil of mist and mystery, of lacey lightness, to waft over me and softly settle on me, shelter me, cover me. I want to draw it over me, blessing myself, crowning myself. I want to put myself under the wing of protection, and from this hiding place to look out from safety and look in with focus. In fact, I want to go within and within, to penetrate my darkness and find a deeper, richer one inside it. And then I want to look out, grounded in that powerful core.

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Pain

A few times in my life I’ve been gifted with untreatable pain and now is one of them. These days I’m lying awake at night, unable to find a tolerable position, obsessing about what is wrong with me and how it might be getting worse. Promising to fix myself tomorrow with better diet, more meditation, increased self-awareness—bemoaning whatever failure of self-care led to the problem in the first place. Unable to concentrate during the day, experimenting with various combinations of food, drink and drugs to escape sensations that continue to demand my attention. Forced to acknowledge that I am getting older, decaying in my own skin. Fretting about how this makes me less of a companion, less of a teacher, less of a person.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    I trust that you are doing better by now. I, too, have found that writing about an experience can assist in enduring all sorts of
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    So true! Thanks for your kind thoughts.
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Dear Archer, I'm so sorry to hear of your pain and hope your doctors find a speedy remedy. But yes, you are right that anyone and
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    Dear Ted: I love your Shakespeare quote! Yes I do not appreciate too much advice at this point, though the blog is bound to provok

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Absent Lover/Hidden God

I spent my adolescence listening to Nana Mouskouri: sentimental, schmaltzy songs, yes, and none more so than “I Have a Dream.” Yet the lyrics have stayed with me:

 

I'll bring to you the secrets of my life

Like petals in my hand and you will understand…

 

Demand of me all that I have to give

And while I live I'll give it gladly

Command me to deny the world I knew

I'd give it all away if you but asked me to.

 

It used to make me a little weepy back then. Perhaps it still does. The singer addresses a unknown beloved, who may only be a figment of her longing. But that longing was one I shared. The idea of complete surrender had a strange attraction, as did the undefined perfection of the distant lover. It doesn’t really leave us, this need for a deeper solace, for intensity of experience and blissful oblivion both. We may direct our desires to gods or lovers or just into the void of mystery, but deep down we know—or hope we know— that somewhere out there is the beauty our souls were made for.

 

But lovers disappoint and gods remain elusive.

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The Ivory Tower

 

It used to be my kid’s room, on an upper floor, the last one to be vacated. I moved in then, and my books and icons, idols and altars seemed to merge happily with the stuffed animals and old toys. Now I’m the one who plays and dreams here, reading about ancient religion and history, writing about how trees and stars, elements and animals, all bear their own deeper meanings, all play their part in the poem of the world.

 

One day I called this place “my ivory tower” and the words rang a bell of joy in me, calling up my love of academia, footnotes and learning, gothic arches and leather-bound tomes — the ivory tower as splendid isolation from the practical cares that are clearly not my forte. But I also felt there was more to it than that.

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Walking to Nowhere

 

 

My friends have been on pilgrimage. They’ve walked the Camino and hiked the Himalayas and climbed Glastonbury Tor. They've made it to Dharamsala and Rishikesh. I haven’t done any of that. But I have been to the ocean in Maine. And I have walked back and forth between two points twenty feet apart for long periods. Those are my pilgrimages.

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Waking Up

 

A darkened chapel. A leather-clad villain holds his victim by the throat, ready to slit her open. Another man creeps closer, gaze steady, voice intent, trying to talk him out of it. Finally the rescuer urges: 

 

“You can choose to hide in your nightmares. Or you can choose to wake up.”

 

The screen flickers as I pause the recording. I know I will rewind and re-watch. For the rescuer’s words came as if addressed to me.

 

Not that I’m intent on murder. But I am familiar with nightmare.

 

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