by Angeliska on May 1, 2013
Calloo, callay, it’s May Day! I’ve been fighting off the annual Scorpio moon lethargy that apparently strikes me every year – strange but true, I find myself struggling to climb a seemingly endless mountain of correspondence, household chores, gardening et cetera and never seeming to make much progress in my Sisyphean toils! Finally, I just gave myself three days off to come back to myself, have some quiet time to hack away at my gargantuan to-do list and feel better in general about everything. I feel like I am finally emerging from the cocoon I enveloped myself in last year: a full cycle’s turning, and here I am, pumping blood into my sticky wings, preparing for flight. It’s taken some doing to pull the shreds of tattered chrysalis from my eyes, to shed my old skin – stubborn bits of shroud still cling to me here and there. I am trying to be more patient with myself, to give myself the time that I need to sit a breathe a bit, to unfurl slowly, to learn what this next chapter is all about. The recent Pink Moon waxed full on the 25th, and we honored it with a Beltaine bonfire, traditional spring songs and ritual. The past two full moons (in Libra and then in Scorpio) have cast a bright and discerning eye upon relationships and partners, old and new. I have learned more about myself and the way that I engage in my relationships in the past six months than I ever did in the past six years. Or, perhaps the learning was happening then too – building up layers of sedimentary understanding and awareness. I’m learning much from my mistakes. I won’t say any of it has been easy, but it has been enormously rewarding to put these lessons into practice and see them work. Last year’s Scorpio full moon was all about letting things go. I can stand back now, and see how hard that process was for me, how much I’ve had to let go of this year – and yet, now, I’ve come to have a modicum of peace, even for some of those more painful endings. I wasn’t sure how the eclipse and all the various intense celestial aspects would affect me personally, but was fairly relieved to have a bit of calm, a little room to breathe and grow in the wake of this stormy past year. And what’s more – what a wonder it is to have found some happiness there, as well. Beltane is a time of rejoicing, of celebrating – a time to take your lover by the hand and lead them out to the fields, out to the woods, to do “that which love commands”! I’ve been meditating much on two cards from the tarot that have come up a lot of me this year, and that are also associated with Beltane: the 4 of wands and The Lovers. The 4 of wands is a favorite cards of mine: it’s such a beautiful image of celebration, of what happens when you set your energy and passion forth to build a solid foundation for your projects and endeavors. This card is all about setting the table, building the altar, garlanding your life with flowers. It’s clearing off your desk and lighting candles in your studio. Creating a joyous and harmonious space to do the work you were meant to do. Without the stability of the four, wands fire energy can be ungrounded, formless, all talk – the four says, “I have arrived! I belong, and I’m here to stay (and celebrate!)”. It’s the wedding – whether between two lovers, or between you and your commitment to your passion, to whatever it is you love most – be it your work, your creative path, your home, community or family. In honor of this card, I finally cleaned up my absurdly messy house – I cleared the rooms, and burned sage and copal and rose petals. Making the space ready for good work to happen in! The Lovers card has been on the altar in my studio for a long time, and a few months ago, I almost took it down – deciding that I’d had enough of trying to figure out this card in my own personal life. The universe had other plans for me, and I’m still here grappling with that eternal question: the union of opposites, the alchemical marriage, learning what the dualities have to teach each other in that cosmic, tantric firework-sparkling explosion of pheromones and spirit. Turns out it’s not as simple as I once thought – no surprise that humans have been trying to figure out what this love thing is for centuries, and perhaps are no closer to having any real answers… Though I will say this – I have learned more about love and relationships (not just romantic ones, either) from my counselor and teacher, Jason Fischer. He wrote a book that came out a few months ago, that have been a major part of of me understanding so much better how to make my relationships a lot less painful and a lot more extraordinary.
I highly recommend spending some time with this one if you’ve got questions about love and relationships: The Two Truths about Love: The Art and Wisdom of Extraordinary Relationships
Also, in the spirit of that sexy (now waning) full moon, and this fertile and lusty love festival, a beautiful love letter from Henry Miller to Anais Nin, showing us how it’s done: Now that is how you write a Love Letter
“Full Pink Moon – April This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month’s celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.” – from the Farmer’s Almanac
Some rundowns on the celestial significance of this Full Moon and eclipse, from a few of my favorite astrologer/writers:
Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse in Scorpio April 25th 2013 from the always wonderful Mystic Mamma
Lunar Eclipse in Scorpio – April 2013 – Testing Times from Leah Whitehorse, who is a brilliant.
Some history & lore of Beltane…
Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into its two primary seasons, winter (Dark Part) and summer (Light Part). As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane, its counter part, is about honoring Life. It is the time when the sun is fully released from his bondage of winter and able to rule over summer and life once again.
Beltane, like Samhain, is a time of “no time” when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest. No time is when the two worlds intermingle and unite and the magic abounds! It is the time when the Faeries return from their winter respite, carefree and full of faery mischief and faery delight. On the night before Beltane, in times past, folks would place rowan branches at their windows and doors for protection, many otherworldly occurrences could transpire during this time of “no time”. Traditionally on the Isle of Man, the youngest member of the family gathers primroses on the eve before Beltane and throws the flowers at the door of the home for protection. In Ireland it is believed that food left over from May Eve must not be eaten, but rather buried or left as an offering to the faery instead. Much like the tradition of leaving of whatever is not harvested from the fields on Samhain, food on the time of no time is treated with great care.
When the veils are so thin it is an extremely magical time, it is said that the Queen of the Faeries rides out on her white horse. Roving about on Beltane eve She will try to entice people away to the Faeryland. Legend has it that if you sit beneath a tree on Beltane night, you may see the Faery Queen or hear the sound of Her horse’s bells as She rides through the night. Legend says if you hide your face, She will pass you by but if you look at Her, She may choose you. There is a Scottish ballad of this called Thomas the Rhymer, in which Thomas chooses to go the Faeryland with the Queen and has not been seen since.
The beginning of summer heralds an important time, for the winter is a difficult journey and weariness and disheartenment set in, personally one is tired down to the soul. In times past the food stocks were low; variety was a distant memory. The drab non-color of winter’s end perfectly represents the dullness and fatigue that permeates on so many levels to this day. We need Beltane, as the earth needs the sun, for our very Spirit cries out for the renewal of summer jubilation.
Beltane marks that the winter’s journey has passed and summer has begun, it is a festival of rapturous gaiety as it joyfully heralds the arrival of summer in her full garb. Beltane, however, is still a precarious time, the crops are still very young and tender, susceptible to frost and blight. As was the way of ancient thought, the Wheel would not turn without human intervention. People did everything in their power to encourage the growth of the Sun and His light, for the Earth will not produce without the warm love of the strong Sun. Fires, celebration and rituals were an important part of the Beltane festivities, as to insure that the warmth of the Sun’s light would promote the fecundity of the earth.
Beltane marks the passage into the growing season, the immediate rousing of the earth from her gently awakening slumber, a time when the pleasures of the earth and self are fully awakened. It signals a time when the bounty of the earth will once again be had. May is a time when flowers bloom, trees are green and life has again returned from the barren landscape of winter, to the hope of bountiful harvests, not too far away, and the lighthearted bliss that only summer can bring.
Beltane translated means “fire of Bel” or “bright fire” – the “bale-fire”.
– from witchvox.com
Chloe – Ellen Rogers I love Ellen’s work so, so much – she is magic.
One year, I hope to set up an actual Maypole for dancing around with ribbons, but until then singing around the bel-fire suffices nicely. We sang Hal-an-tow (the term “halan” means “calends,” or first of the month, and “tow” means “garland”.) and the Staines Morris song. Amy Annelle taught us the words and lead us in the singing of these sacred songs.
“The green calendar of spring has many songs. dances and shows, particularly around the opening days of May. Here and there are clear traces of old cults and superstitions (well-dressing against droughts, etc.) but generally their original meaning is lost. So the customs are transformed into ritual spectacles, festivities, distractions, opportunities for a good time, such as the old May Games that once comprised four sections: the election and procession of the May king and queen: a sword or Morris dance of disguised men; a hobby horse dance; a Robin Hood play. The Hal-an-Tow song was sung for the procession that ushered in the summer.”
Hal-an-tow, jolly rumbalow
We were up long before the day-O
To welcome in the summer,
To welcome in the May-O
For summer is a-coming in
And winter’s gone away-O
“Come ye young men, come along
With your music, dance and song
Bring your lasses in your hands
For tis that which love commands
Then to the Maypole haste away
For ’tis now our holiday
It is the choice time of the year
For the violets now appear
Now the rose receives its birth
And the pretty primrose decks the earth”
– Staines Morris Dance
– Shirley Collins – Staines Morris
Wonderland : The Pink Saint by Kirsty Mitchell
“Kirsty Mitchell’s late mother Maureen was an English teacher who spent her life inspiring generations of children with imaginative stories and plays. Following Maureen’s death from a brain tumour in 2008, Kirsty channelled her grief into her passion for photography. She retreated behind the lens of her camera and created Wonderland, an ethereal fantasy world. The photographic series began as a small summer project but grew into an inspirational creative journey.’Real life became a difficult place to deal with, and I found myself retreating further into an alternative existence through the portal of my camera,’ said the artist.”
– Woman, 36, who lost mother to brain cancer creates breathtaking fantasy land photo series in her memory
These two images call up the Queen of May for me, the priestess of all that is blossoming, and the wildness of sap rising, Persephone returned to the garden after months int he underworld.
Wonderland : The Beautiful Blindness of Devotion by Kirsty Mitchell
I love this image of the Congo hills made pepto-bismol – Mosse’s work is really amazing:
“Irish photographer Richard Mosse is known for his restraining and highly aestheticised views of sites associated with violence and fear, such as his 2008 depictions of the war in Iraq, and his large-scale photographs of aeroplane crash sites. For his new series, Infra, Mosse used Kodak Aerochrome – an infra-red film designed in the 1940s to assist the U.S. military in detecting camouflage – to photograph the people and landscape of the Eastern Congo. The film reveals a spectrum of light beyond what the human eye can perceive, turning the lush, green landscape of the Congo into a bubblegum pink. The photographs investigate the severe circumstances within which the people of the Eastern Congo live and draw our attention to the complex social and political dynamics of this region of the world.”
Who knew that inside this flower exists a magical being? Well, now you know!
My friend Lily Rose Love wrote this today, and it was too wonderful not to share here:
“On May first when I was a little girl my folks and I would make up baskets and baskets – lots of little baskets of flowers and drive the seven miles into town to surprise old ladies. I don’t know if they made up this tradition, or if anyone else did this, but we would go up to the houses where we knew little old ladies lived all by themselves, leave the bouquets on the porch or hanging from the doorknob, ring the bell, and then run and hide in the bushes. Sometimes they were confused, sometimes they seemed to be expecting it, but they were always so happy and all smiles when my dad and I popped up out of their hedges with our matching blonde curls. Happy May Day.”
Dance in the gardens, lovelies. Hop over the bonfire and make a bright wish. Take your lover by the hand.
Here are a few choice soundtracks for doing just that:
Beltanes and moons of yore:
by Angeliska on March 17, 2013
It’s that time of year again: spring is in the air, and my house is packed to the brim with lovely vagabonds sprawled out on every bit of available floorspace. In Austin, the second week of March heralds the invasion of our fair city by thousands of tech geeks, filmmakers, musicians and everyone in between for a couple weeks of concentrated over-stimulation otherwise known as SXSW. More and more, I find myself saturated with all the excitement and entertainment I require by spending time with my overflowing house full of friends visiting from near and far, and have come to shun the crowds, lines and general chaos that reigns downtown. The truth is, the only part of this whole thing I really care about is Gay Bi Gay Gay, and a large part of that is because it’s its own thing: a strange mushroom that sprang up on the outskirts of the garden – phosphorescently glowing and glimmering with fairy lights. If that sounds slightly hyperbolic, you’ll have to excuse me, but I really do regard this day as sacred in Austin. It’s part family reunion, part picnic, part performance art camp, part music festival – but more than anything, it’s a magical day where the joy and relief and sweetness in the air are palpable. Everyone’s faces get so radiant, so ecstatically happy just to be together again. In a lot of ways, Gay Bi Gay Gay is the closest thing that Austin has to Mardi Gras day. Looking over these pictures for the first time in a few years takes me back. I always love photographing duos, or couples, and I realized that a lot of these relationships are no longer extant today, including my own. But some are. Hopefully the friendships and goodwill have survived, because you can see the love in these images, in these faces. My GBGG tradition involves decadent picnicking, homemade Bloody Marys, and copious face-painting! I find doing elaborate macquillage to be extremely meditative and relaxing, and I was honored to do Big Freedia’s stage makeup that year, as well as decorating the lovely mugs of some of my favorite folks. Evidence of big queer love, serious ass-shakin’, and major magic follows below…
The full set of photos is here: GAY BI GAY GAY 2011
And some articles about this year’s Gay Bi:
by Angeliska on February 27, 2013
One year ago today, my Grampa left this world. I’ve been crying uncontrollably for the past couple of days – for various reasons, but mostly it’s because I just feel so lost. I’m lost without him. I miss him so, so much. He was my touchstone, my grounding anchor, my rock – in so many ways. I want to talk to him every day, hear his voice, even just the cadence, the rhythm of his speech. He had such a beautiful speaking voice – he was the best storyteller I have ever known. Last year, a good friend of my Grampa’s shared these recordings of him speaking at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in 1986 and 1987. My grandfather helped to found one of the first atheist and agnostic AA meetings, and helped countless alcoholics with their struggle to stay sober and grow spiritually. Listening to him talking on these recordings is such an enormous comfort to me. I honestly hadn’t been ready to listen to them until tonight. I needed to hear his voice so much, and I guess I’ve been saving these – stowing them away until the moment when it became most dire. Unless more recordings pop up, I only have a tiny cache of stories from him. I used to carry a handheld tape recorder with me on our travels, but I lost those little tapes in Hurricane Katrina, including the ones of him talking with Studs Terkel, which just breaks my heart. It’s so hard to know that you have such limited sources to be able to hear the voice of someone you love. It has made me weird about deleting voicemail messages from my favorite people, which I know is silly, but still. What my Grampa talks about in these two recordings is his journey and experience of coming to AA and getting sober – he talks about some of the same things in each, but also expands upon his story, and talks about his spiritual awakening, which is amazing to hear about. I know I’ll listen to these again and again – just to hear him, but also to absorb his wisdom. 1986 is the year my mother died, and it’s eerie to hear him talk about that – threads of life and deaths looping and crossing over and under. Through and around me. The year I found a recording of my mother’s voice on the radio was very powerful for me, too. The voice is the chimney of the heart. My friend Larkin told me that, and I think about it a lot.I want to share these bits of Charlie with you, with anyone that wants to listen. He was an exceedingly wise man, and the things here says here are profound, whether you have a drinking problem or not. I hope you will enjoy hearing him speak, regardless.
R.I.P. Charles Lessing Polacheck
January 19th, 1914 – February 27th, 2012
My father set The funeral song from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline to music, and sang it at the memorial last year.
At some point I’d like to record his version of that and share it here as well, but for now, here are the powerful words:
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finish’d joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.
No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave!
by Angeliska on February 25, 2013
The Snow Moon of February is waxing, rising: also know as Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, Bony Moon and Little Famine Moon. In most places, this is the month of the heaviest snows, the harshest weather, and the hardest hunting. This was often a season of starvation, for the native people and animals in the North. Though it’s springtime here in the South, I know other places are still bitter cold, still blanketed under heavy folds of white ice. I don’t know what that’s like, but I have been sitting with this winter feeling, a frostbitten heart warmed back to beating by hot breath, soft mittens. I told the daffodil buds pushing shyly through the mulch that it was safe to raise their ruffled heads, that the time of frost and rime was done with. I hope I wasn’t lying. This year has cored me like an apple: taken all the parts of me that I thought were essential, and chewed them up, spit out the pips, left nothing but my stem and my skin. It was enough. I have a palmful of seeds to plant anew, I have my heart, I have this dirt. I came through slaughter, bloodied and broken, bowed. I came through. It’s taken a long time to write this. I began it when I was at my most shattered, and then shelved it for months when it was too raw, the pain too embarrassing. I felt tired of writing about my sorrow – though more than that, I felt tiresome. The fear got put in me, an arrow lodged between two ribs: the niggling doubt planted there, that what I chose to share was too much, too sad – wrong somehow. I stopped writing. I tried to write about only pretty things. I stopped. I was frozen in the middle of the road, gnawed on by the hungry scavengers, those wolves of the mind, that feast on your anxieties. In a long winter, the cold gets in your bones, it finds the drafts, the cracks in you, and it sucks the heat right out of your blood. That’s the way doubt works, too.
In the coldest months, the weakest animals in a pack get picked off, get left behind – eat or be eaten. You are either predator or you are prey. Your vulnerability is a liability, and fight or flight is the only choice. If you’re too tired to fight, and have nowhere to run, you just stop, freeze, forever. “The weak are meat the strong do eat.” Kill or be killed. A sacrificial lamb, a scapegoat, left desolate in the snow, the boot on your back, teeth at your throat, felled beneath a pitiless victor. The rapacious hunter whose hunger knows no bounds, so empty inside that no amount of flesh can fill a belly that’s just fur slung over bones. Hunger makes creatures cold-hearted and crazy, makes them turn against their own. This is the way of the world, the way of nature, I know. I can sit with it, I can look, and look and take it in. I won’t look away, but instead turn my gaze to the images that make my soul crumple, that speak to the bleak desolation of grief, the howling heart, alone in a vast landscape, crying in the bitter wind. Victims of severe frost, halted mid-motion by prisons of ice. O, innocents, wandering lost in the snow – death draws near with an icy scythe, to cut you down in one white instant. Winter is brutal, and all we can do is huddle together. The only way to survive is to help each other, to stay with your pack, to find your tribe. Our communities are all we have: our lovers, friends and family. The ones who keep you close, keep you warm at night. All we have is each other, so why do we hurt one another? Where does this capacity for cruelty come from? What is it that inspires kindness, the small acts of tenderness that make life possible even in the direst times? I’m coming to understand that our ability to experience grief and move through it can make us more kind, more compassionate to others. That awareness and empathy for suffering is what gives us the strength and love to extend compassion beyond ourselves. This can be a vicious world. Every act of grace and gentleness counts. Kindness changes everything. I’ve been rereading Cloud Atlas for the dozenth time, and have been thinking a lot about the themes that run through that beautiful book: of slavery and subordination, of the currents of love and bravery that triumph in the midst of the horrors we humans can inflict on each other.
“Our lives are not our own, we are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
I’ve also been delving into The Places That Scare You – A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, by Pema Chödrön recently, and finding much wisdom there. This book contains major teachings for me, and has given answers and solace in deep lessons that I feel I have been searching for for many years. The quote in the beginning of the book, and the explanation of bodhichitta pulled me in immediately:
Confess your hidden faults.
Approach what you find repulsive.
Help those you think you cannot help.
Anything you are attached to, let it go.
Go to the places that scare you.
– Advice from her teacher to the Tibetan Yogini Machig Labdrön
“An analogy for bodhichitta is the rawness of a broken heart. Sometimes this broken heart gives birth to anxiety and panic; sometimes to anger, resentment and blame. But under the hardness of that armor there is the tenderness of genuine sadness. This is our link with all those who have ever loved. This genuine heart of sadness can teach us great compassion. It can humble us when we’re arrogant and soften us when we are unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. This continual ache of the heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all.”
I read the chapter on cultivating compassion today, and it brought everything together for me so profoundly. Everything I’ve been struggling to write about for months is right here:
“For arousing compassion, the nineteenth-century yogi Patrul Rinpoche suggested imagining beings in torment — an animal about to be slaughtered, a person awaiting execution. To make it more immediate, he recommended imagining ourselves in their place. Particularly painful is his image of a mother with no arms watching as a raging river sweeps her child away. To contact the suffering of another being fully and directly is as painful as being in that woman’s shoes. For most of us, even to consider such a thing is frightening. When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience our fear of pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion, to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance.
“It can be difficult to even think about beings in torment, let alone to act on their behalf. Recognizing this, we begin with a practice that is fairly easy. We cultivate bravery through making aspirations. We make the wish that all beings, including ourselves and those we dislike, be free of suffering and the root of suffering.
“We use the seven-step aspiration practice to soften our hearts and also to become more honest and forgiving about when and how we shut down. Without justifying or condemning ourselves, we do the courageous work of opening to suffering. This can be the pain that comes when we put up barriers or the pain of opening our heart to our own sorrow or that of another being. We learn as much about doing this from our failures as we do from our successes. In cultivating compassion we draw from the wholeness of our experience — our suffering, our empathy, as well as our cruelty and terror. It has to be this way. Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
To Practice: Choose an image that enables you to contact the suffering of another. If you find this too difficult or painful, recognize the teaching in your response.
Many of the following images depict death and sorrow in a graphic and deeply affecting way. If pictures of dead animals or profound grief are upsetting to you, you may not want to continue, though I attest that they were not chosen gratuitously. I have kept some of these images archived for years, not fully understanding why I needed to look at them, why I needed to make myself feel so deeply for them. Now I understand. I hope you will, too. Also: I was unable to track down the original provenance for many of these images. If you are the source, or if you are aware of who made the image, please let me know and I will ascribe it rightfully.
Snarling Wolf, Ely, Minnesota, 1998
“A remote-controlled “carcass cam” captures an inside view of a gray wolf fiercely guarding its meal at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota. Wolves at the center are provided with food, but wild populations generally hunt in packs. After a large kill, a single wolf can consume more than 20 pounds of meat.”
Yuri Kozyrev – Beslan, North Ossetia Sept. 5, 2004
I wish I could find a clearer version of this one. Somewhere I still have the scrap of the original cut out from a magazine when the tragedy at the Beslan school happened. I meditated on the pain and longing of the woman in the photo every day for a long time. Every fiber in her being outstretched, seeking her lost beloved one. The empathy and sorrow of the people surrounding her. The hands holding hers. The heart cries out.
“Kazimiera Mika, a ten-year-old Polish girl, mourns the death of her older sister, who was killed in a field near Jana Ostroroga Street in Warsaw during a German air raid by the Luftwaffe.
“While I was photographing the bodies, a little ten-year old girl came running up and stood transfixed by one of the dead. The woman was her older sister. The child had never before seen death and couldn’t understand why her sister would not speak to her…
The child looked at us in bewilderment. I threw my arm about her and held her tightly, trying to comfort her. She cried. So did I and the two Polish officers who were with me…”
I had this photograph tacked up to the wall next to my bed all through my adolescence. Every night laying in bed I would look at it and feel so much love and sorrow for this girl grieving over the body of her sister. Even though I had not yet begun grieving my losses, I understood what it meant. I needed to look at it, at their faces.
Photograph by Yuri Kozyrev
“An orphaned rhesus monkey and white dove that seemed to have lost its mate forged a special bond at the Neilingding Island-Futian National Nature Reserve in China. The monkey was born on the island but had strayed from its mother. Luckily, it was taken in by work staff in the protection center and became friends with the pigeon that had lingered there after possibly losing its mate.”
Photograph by Eugenio Recuenco
Photograph by Yuri Kozyrev
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
The full Snow Moon in Virgo challenges us to release ourselves and others from judgement, from the critical mind that seeks to find fault, lay blame. We are all imperfect, fallible, messy beings. We make mistakes, we hurt one another, consciously or blindly. We are all doing the very best we can. This full moon I seek to open my heart up to true acceptance and forgiveness, for myself and others, and to let go of all my resentments, frustrations and grudges. They have been a very heavy burden. I don’t want them anymore. They do not serve me well. I am ready for peace. This is a time for healing. The Moon in Virgo opposing Chiron, The Wounded Healer, activates and shines a light on doing this work first in your own heart, and then with an eye towards service and helping others. The lesson I have been given recently is to make myself “incapable of disappointment” – in order to do that, I must give permission to all things to be exactly as they are. This is hard work, and I am trying. Snow Moon, help me to be kinder, gentler and more patient – to myself as well as others.
“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.” – Sri Chinmoy
“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
- Mary Oliver
by Angeliska on February 23, 2013
I’m still slowly editing all my photos from Mardi Gras, so in lieu of a much belated post from me, I wanted to share a peek into the magic of that day while the memories are still fresh, and the music is still echoing in my mind… It was a grey, drizzly day, but it only dumped down on us once or twice, and the Indians made it out after all. New Orleans photographer and sculptor Christopher Porché West of A Studio On Desire captured so many wonderful images of my beautiful friends and beloved strangers on my favorite day of the year, I felt moved to show some of the ones that I loved the most here. His photographs really serve as a beautiful reminder that Mardi Gras morning is for everyone – regardless of their age, race, gender et cetera. I think it’s really what I love most about that celebration: that you see old ladies shimmying down the street with old men dressed as old ladies, and families with kids in wagons, tiny babies cradled lovingly by their beastly-bedecked mamas, mariachis, strange bejeweled birds, and all people who haven’t slept in days debauching extravagantly past the front stoops of those who chose not to masque, but peer curiously out their front doors at the revelry in the street. All on a Mardi Gras Day. It is so, so beautiful. There is truly nothing else like it.
Mardi Gras morning starts with the Skull & Bone Gangs clattering and banging on trashcan lids with bloody cow femurs, making a frightful racket to wake up the living for the big day of misrule and wildness. I’m always occupied with my costuming, so I’ve never seen the bone boys doing their thing at dawn, but maybe one year they’ll come bang on my door, saying, “Wake up, wake up, do not be late. It’s Mardi Gras Morning. Go celebrate! Young and old got to go. Make your move to change your life now, or else you will become like me. YOU NEXT!”
If the Bone Gangs get you up and at ‘em, you can go out and chase some Mardi Gras Indians, first thing. This year the Young Seminole Hunters were looking very pretty indeed. Don’t know what that’s all about? Check out this piece I wrote a few years back: Who are the Mardi Gras Indians?
Here’s the full set of Porché West’s Mardi Gras 2013 photographs.
“Mardi Gras Skeletons” Royce Osborn
Dr. John, the Night Tripper – Mardi gras day