I’ve been going pretty much non-stop since Graduation, and it’s hard to even know where to begin to explain and analyze the events of the last few weeks. I have this feeling that I’ve gone through a major door of transformation, and I’m not really sure how I feel about that yet, because I’m not really sure what or who it is that I’ve become.
Let me back up. The week before Graduation, moved down to this part of the world from Boston. Very nice, very good, very sweet. Then Graduation. Boom. Suddenly it’s summer, and I’m in a new place and dealing with new things in my life. All well and good. Grand, even. PB convinces me I should work for the Boy Scouts, JC convinces me I should work for White Wolf, and I convince myself I should take a pottery class. Great. Boom. Painting the new place for … then, it’s time to move ‘s stuff down from Boston. We get her stuff moved, and and I do a little ceremony to say good-bye to her old place. After getting her stuff in the house, her new roommate invites us to a FIRE WALK.
BOOM. Can I say that again? BOOM. Change.
Walk in the woods to a fire pit. Walk on hot coals. Walking on coals was weird. I was so caught up in the outer process — how do I walk on coals? that I didn’t worry too much about the internal process… What am I walking for? I simply walked, and allowed the change to happen to me. I only walked twice. I think I could have walked three or four times; maybe I will the next time, assuming I can find some specific reason to walk. If I have some specific intention in mind, it could very well be more powerful than it was. One small blister in the area of my feet associated with sinuses on my left foot. BOOM. No more allergies, at least no obvious ones. I haven’t been stuffed up since, at all.
Then a week of getting the play ready. There are still problems with it, but I think and others will speak to the pleasure and happiness and flow of the story. Most of it works. The love story between Medea and Jason needs additional effort, but basically it’s done, at least in first draft. I spent a week or more working on that, and most of a weekend. I didn’t sell a single copy at SpiritFire. I gave away about 12. Oh, well. Forest and Tiana may have a reading at their house; maybe will let me do it at Storyteller’s sometime. (It does take about an hour, Dave).
Then the Doctor down in White Plains. The pills, the medicines, the dietary changes. The immediate returns in re-gained energy. Then SpiritFire.
Oh, my. and I only stayed up all the way through one of the four nights, Wednesday through Saturday/Sunday. Wednesday night I was still energized and stoked from opening circle, but was tired, and it was the better part of valor to go to bed early. Thursday, again, we went to bed early, though we stayed up late enough for me to invent two new chants. The first one came about because Tree put shakers on either side of my head — those little cylindrical shakers? — and played two different rhythms on either side of my head.
The seeds in the pod
make the rattles in the shaker;
the rattles in the shaker
make the rhythm of life.
That was a lot of fun to do, and it fit in well with the watery, fluid, dancy groove that was happening on Thursday night. I also helped light the fire for the North on Thursday night, which was a deep honor that I have to thank the SpiritFire folks for in some fashion. It was amazing, and sanctifying and purifying.
Moon rises up in her fading fullness,
changing and arranging and reshaping the night.
Tingling senses lower defenses
reshape your dreams from darkness to light.
And the chant helped Julie, sweet Julie, to re-direct her energies and intentions around some powerful work she was doing that night. It was beautiful, although not widely adopted. Friday, we stayed up for the Embracing Shadow, Embodying Light fire. I wound up dressed in leather pants, black shirt with a cobra on it, and C at the gate drew a caduceus of black and white lines on my forehead. When L and S asked me whether I chose light or shadow for the night, I said, “yes”, and they let me pass between them — the middle way into the Temple, in balance. We then sang that chant which I hold so dearly right now,
all is sacred
upon this night.
In the course of that evening M came up to me and asked me to help carry something other than water: this turned out to be Julie, whom we carried at least once around the circle, with her screaming and crying out her lungs at the top of her voice. She began settling down afterwards, and it was clear she was undergoing powerful transformative work around the issue of leadership. Each of us who helped carry her had words for her afterwards, and she appeared to be strengthened and empowered for new work by our words. Well enough. She got back on the rattle track, and started to circle a few more times, but stopped on the far side of the drum area. That’s when this chant that had popped in bits and pieces into my head over the last few weeks took shape (and has since been refined further):
The world is spinning around and around
and it’s nice to keep your feet on the ground;
but sooner or later, you’re going to fly,
and it’s not worth knowing the reason why
Life is measured in woe and delight;
they circle round, like the day and the night…
so seize your joys and let your sorrows pass,
let your tears dry up like the autumn grass.
The days are turning months into years;
build on your triumphs, let go of your fears;
walk in beauty the length of the land,
and be kind to everyone, woman and man
Julie set the first verse in her head and made some edits (changing the verb to spinning in the first line, and asking to knowing in the last line), and led the circle with her newfound strength. We stayed up until dawn, and I, and sang Imani’s chant to the rising sun. Some one found it necessary to do the “solar alchemy greeting”, which I felt was unnecessary. Still, it worked out all right. We showered and went to bed for a while.
Over the course of SpiritFire, I bought a drum, bid on a mask, and went to a dance workshop. wanted me to go to an ecstatic tantric breath workshop, which I did, and found…. tedious. Didn’t move me, didn’t transport me. Clearly worked for others. I was disappointed. was in a very touchy-feely space afterwards (duh, it’s tantric, Andrew!), but I just wasn’t there. I’d felt bored, lonely and disconnected through the whole process. It just didn’t feel right to get up and interrupt all those people who were having their own amazing breakthroughs. Oh, well. I managed OK. The Dance workshop was better. D is amazing, ! I loved her workshop, I loved moving, and stretching, and connecting, and touching and interacting, and learning to use my body. Usually at circles, I just walk around a lot. This made it clear that moving was a doorway to the ecstatic. So, as a result of SpiritFire this year, I feel connected to the five paths for the first time, all five: Voice, Music (through the Dun-dun-ba, thanks again ), Dance (through D) and Service (though the water-bearing). And I always feel connected to Spirit, at some level; I don’t think you can be a poet and not be connected to Spirit. So many people did water-bearing this year, I was amazed. It was glorious to watch, and glorious to feel, and glorious to accept that it wasn’t going to be just me, any more — that I could do it, but that it wasn’t going to be just me. And feeling connected to all five paths makes me feel more whole, too. Did feel bad about not connecting enough with people like and and .
Back from SpiritFire. Laundry. Falling asleep on the couch. Waking up and going for ice cream at We-Lik-It. Sleeping with . And then BOOM. Change again. In the morning I was up and running, going to the boy scout camp where I’m going to teach Environmental Science and some other stuff.
During my tour around camp I was bitten by a snake.
I think it’s a Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon). The camp ranger was kind enough to catch it and thump it for me, and then bring it to me to kill by cutting off its head. Um. It seems I have a new totem. Tiana tells me that being bitten by a snake and surviving is a sure way to receive access to Snake’s medicine — which is pretty powerful, having to do with lore, and access to the spirit world, and dreams, and healing, and knowledge of the medicinal uses of plants.
Which is exactly what I’m supposed to be learning to teach the Boy Scouts.
Then I found a snake skin to emphasize the point. And plants have practically been leaping out in front of me to make themselves known. Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), and Common Plantain (Plantago major), and Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), and White Clover (Trifolium repens) and Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), and Indian-Pipe (Monotropa uniflora), and American Bur-Reed (“three squared bur-reed” Sparganium americanum) and Jack-in-the-Pulpit, which I haven’t seen in years since my mom pointed it out in Sherman, CT (Arisaema triphyllum), and Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). Then there’s Bracken Ferns (Pteridium aquilinum)… but I digress.
Today, at breakfast, I sat with M at camp. M is a skateboarder. I don’t even know where he’s from yet, actually. He’s got longish black hair, and he clearly wants to be a ‘different’ scout. On our daily schedule sheet for the day was a photocopied image from a newspaper: it showed a picture of the pope, which had infelicitiously been married in the next column with a story about a suspect hit-and-run driver finally arrested. The pope had his hands up in an image of blessing, but looking like he was being held by police at gunpoint, “come out with your hands up” style, in all his papal regalia. Mike got the joke, but didn’t know who the guy in the photo was. So I explained it, and he said, “Oh. That’s Christian stuff. I don’t believe in all that.” I asked him how he fulfilled the religious duties of a Scout. He replied, “I’m a Wicca. Someone at school told me about it, and I want to believe in an earth-based religion.” I told him that made sense for a Scout. He asked me what religion I was. I said, “well, that’s a good question, and it doesn’t have an easy answer.” He said, he believed in a Goddess; that it was too hard to believe one god made the whole world. I told him I tended towards a god and goddess because it was too hard to believe a woman did it all by herself.” He laughed a little uneasily, and asked again what religion I was. So I told him something resembling this…. “I was born and brought up Christian, so I respect that tradition, but my girlfriend follows paganism, and I respect that too, and I participate in their ceremonies, too. I attend Jewish services once a week during the school year with the Jewish students from my school who wish to go, and I go to visit a Sufi retreat center a few weekends a year — Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam. So you could say that my definition of God is too broad to fit into one religion.”
He said, “I like that.”
Later today, PB approached me and said, “our Chaplain is going to be away during Week 5 of camp. Will you conduct chapel services that week on Wednesday?” I said, “Sure. Uh… P? The new kid, M, told me that he follows an earth-based religion. Can I ask him to help me organize and plan it?”
He said, “sure.”