by Angeliska on August 8, 2015
Last year on this day, the anniversary of my mother’s death, I didn’t feel like writing. I just felt like living. That’s what I did, and it felt right. Every year is a little different. Stands to reason, with the passage of time, and all – but it didn’t start to change for me, for a long time. I didn’t know how to heal, or that there even was a way to. For years before that, I didn’t even know there was a wound. Or, I did – but it was kind of like having a giant sinkhole under your house that you just put a rug over. Pretend it’s not there. Everything’s fine. Back away slowly from the lip of the abyss. I’ve found that everything changes when you stop running away from your pain. This is what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. How when I finally learned how to cry, I started healing. There are so many layers to this process, and where I’m at now feels like a really good place. I’m exploring it, and it’s been really interesting.
‘The ocean with its vastness, its blue green,
Its ships, its rocks, its caves, its hopes, its fears,—
Its voice mysterious, which whoso hears
Must think on what will be, and what has been.’
– John Keats
(I’ve been very much influenced by the poetry book I got for $2 in San Antonio. It’s simply full of beautiful quotes.”
I wasn’t really able to consciously think or process much about my mother’s death until my mid-twenties. Until then, I was a hardened little shell of a girl, always struggling to keep my balance tiptoeing around the edge of the bottomless pit where I’d stowed all my grief. When at long last it hit me that the source of so many of my issues revolved around this deep loss, I realized that I might have to actually investigate what had been hidden away in the the darkness for so long. I started with honoring the day my mom left this world. Dedicating this day to understanding more about her, about myself. Some days that meant practicing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on her violin. Some days it was just laying on the floor crying. For many years, I spent the day alone. I would hang out in my studio, and read her letters, page through her scrapbooks. It helped, always – the writing, musing, making little altars. Sitting with the pieces of her I had available, trying to understand more about who she was. I never went anywhere, because I didn’t drive back then. I always did this work alone, and it never occurred to me that my partner at the time, or anyone else, would really be interested in participating in that process. But in 2012, someone came into my life who did. A very sweet man who wanted to sit with me, while I sat with that pain. A person who truly wanted to help me honor my mom’s memory. Our relationship ended up being a tumultuous and revelatory puzzle piece in my healing process, and I’m still learning from it, though we’re not together anymore. I learned a lot from being with him – about myself, about the way I love, and the way I allow myself to be loved. This person showed up for me, over and over, in some very surprising and profound ways. For the past two years, he helped me find a way to celebrate this day. He showed me that I didn’t have to do it all alone, and that it didn’t have to be a day only for sadness. He took my hand, and led me out of my dark studio filled with dusty books, and out into the bright light of Texas August. We went on some adventures.
HONEY BABE, I’M BOUND TO RIDE – DON’T YOU WANNA GO? An old-tyme song lyric markered on a plasticine envelope years ago by my mom. This is what holds many letters she wrote to my grandparents and crayoned artwork I made as a child.
Coming thru old Nashville,
Coming thru a flying
Studying about my little darling
Couldn’t keep from crying
Honey babe I’m bound to ride
Don’t you want to go?
Going to Atlanta
Just to look around
Times they don’t suit me
Find another town
Riding on a streetcar
Looking all around
Eating salty crackers
Ten cents a pound
If I die a railroad man
bury me beneath the ties
So I can hear old Number Nine
As she goes on by
Coming thru old Nashville,
Coming thru a flying
Studying about my little darling
Couldn’t keep from crying
On August 8th, 2013, I had stayed up late the night before writing about my mother. I was glad to have gotten it written and out of me, early that year – so that the day could be spent out in the world, in experiencing life – not just dwelling on death. I wanted to go visit some of my mom’s old stomping grounds, her old neighborhood where some of her favorite places still are. I had intended to do this alone, not expecting to have company. But my boyfriend showed up at my kitchen table that morning with a fancy breakfast he procured – and in his hands, a bouquet of roses, fiery orange with red tips. He knew I liked varicolored flowers, but he chose these for the name, too: HIGH AND MAGIC. He showed up for this, for me – even though I didn’t ask, or expect it. Even though I didn’t necessarily even think I wanted him to be there. I didn’t know what to think when this golden haired giant turned up bearing roses on a morning I had prepared myself to be sad for. I didn’t want him to feel like he had to be there out of obligation. Unlike me, he is a person who loathes most of the rigmarole surrounding holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries – but this was different. I could tell that it came from an honest, heartfelt desire to help me honor that loss, my biggest wound, in whatever way would feel best. I asked him if he wanted to read what I had written for my mom, the night before, and he said yes. He sat very still, reading it intently for what felt like a long time, and I sat, trying to be still, trying not to watch him read. When he had finished, his eyes were glittering and wet with unshed tears. The way he looked at me was so full of love, and I was taken off my guard as he stood suddenly and took me by the hands, pulling me up to my feet and into an embrace. When he kissed me, there was so much in it – all the feelings he couldn’t convey in words, expressed in that touch, that connection. I’ve never felt anything else like it. Swept up, soul deep – that’s what it was. The kind of moment it feels impossible to try to write about or describe because it went so far beyond what could ever be spoken. It was the single best response to anything I’ve ever written: that beautiful, incredibly loving and totally overwhelming kiss. That anyone would be so moved by what I had written there. That this person I loved so much would respond to it with such passion. We stood in my hot kitchen gazing at each other: our faces shining, our eyes streaming, our lips beaming. We went out into the world, and had a very good day. I wore a dress my mother made for herself: red corduroy with little flowers. We were in love, crazy cascades of hearts pouring out from our eyes. Things between us were not always easy – but when we were good, it was beyond amazing.
Last year, he wanted to be there with me again. We got tacos and coffee and drove out of town, taking the long way out. An unfamiliar road through the hill country – pines and shadowed valleys, dry creeks with stands of sycamores surprisingly still green for August in Texas. Bumping over the backroads, in my beloved old beige Volvo station wagon, all the windows rolled down. We hit estate sales and antique stores for most of the morning, bright sun burning through the haze. Pawn shops, bomb pops. We made it out to Llano by late afternoon – to the house in Lone Grove where my mother died. I wanted to hear stories, to be able to better understand, and hopefully write about what had happened on that day. I wanted to ask the hard questions, and even hear the hard answers – but my favorite aunt, my mom’s sister, didn’t seem to want to go there. Instead, she regaled us for hours about trying to help a lonely old hoarder who lived in a trailer down the way with a bunch of guns and dozens upon dozens of feral cats. People aren’t always going to be able or willing to walk down that road with you. Zach squeezed my hand under the table, seeing how disappointed I was. I’m still trying so hard to remember and understand that period of my life. There’s a lot I just don’t remember.
It had been years since I had been out to the cemetery where my mother and grandparents are buried. The man I spent seven years with and nearly married never saw it. He never asked, and I never thought to take him. I think I had been a little scared to go out there, myself. It felt like a terminus, an ending place. There’s a finality to the grief there that goes beyond what happens in our memories. There’s nothing but nature, and enduring stone. The bodies are all dust and ashes. It was good to not have to go there alone. We walked over to where the my family’s graves lay nestled under spindly oaks, in the tall dry grass, holding hands. Coming to that place, standing on the earth containing the bones of the people who made me, laid out in a row, I felt suddenly awkward. What else is there to do, in that instance, but make introductions? “Well… Mom, this is Zachary.” “Zachary, meet my grandparents” It hit me like a bullet, the stark realization that this was the only way they would ever meet. There’s a song by the folk-singer Scout Niblett, called “Do You Want to Be Buried With My People?” and I thought of it then:
“Do you want to be buried with my people, dear
was the look in his eyes
we can rest our bones side by side
in the dirt of yonder high
it’s so fun to see me being me alongside you
that’s how I knew the answer dear
to the look I got from you
we can rest our bones side by side”
That’s the kind of love I want, when it comes down to it. The kind of love who will come willingly with me, to meet my family in the only way they can. The kind of heart that would want to put down roots in the earth where I come from, to graft their family tree with mine, entwining around each other, and joined: in life and death. I don’t love lightly, and I’ve learned that I won’t bother unless I know the answer to that question. I felt it all then, rising and building in my chest like a pressure – all that love and all that sorrow running down my face, as I watched this kind and beautiful man kneel down the earth, pulling a pocketknife out and using it to cut away at the weeds that had overgrown my mother’s tomb. He cleaned it up, made it look as nice as he could – all the while incurring fire ant bites and sticker-burrs in his knuckles. I planted a succulent in the cement urn covered in pottery shards, and watered it from my glass bottle. We wandered through the graves, old stones, telling stories of Indian attacks, pieces of mica embedded in old stone, families who lost all their children, soldiers buried at home. The sun was starting to set as we drove away, making an angelic chorus of light in the clouds, heavenly cascades of golden rays, looking like benedictions from seraphim on high. One hand on the wheel and the other around me, the sun on his face as we rolled through the hills, looking at me, both of us in lit up in wonder. “It’s all for you,” he said, “For you and your mom.”
On the way home, the sky erupted into such a glorious celestial jubilation of angelic rays that we couldn’t help but wonder if my mama wasn’t smiling down from the heavens… I don’t actually believe in a place called heaven – but sunsets like this make me wishful.
So this year, that man is not here. He called this morning because he knew what day it was, and we talked for the first time in a few months. I do miss him, but it’s okay. His not being here doesn’t have to echo that old hurt, the old loss. I’m on my own now, and I feel strong in that, most days. I thought about going out into the world, and doing some rambling, but today I’m feeling pretty under the weather and so I’m just resting. Writing this in my beautiful bedroom, and thinking about what it really means to care for yourself. Not just because you have to, not because everyone who you thought was supposed to do that has gone away – but doing it because you can, because you want to. For so many years, this day was just about honoring my mom. I still want to do that, but even more – I’m learning how to honor myself. How to take care of myself like a loving mother would. There’s this stubborn part of my heart, the sad little kid part, that kicks the wall and throws a tantrum about this sometimes. She stomps her feet and keeps persistently reaching out for the people that can’t be there anymore. My mom was an amazing person: an incredible artist and musician, and an all-around renaissance woman and an inspiration to everyone who knew her. I’ve come to realize, though, that even before she got sick, she wasn’t always up for being a totally present and emotionally demonstrative mother. She suffered from depression, and was often consumed with stress and worry, or by her creative passions and obsessions. She had a lot of stuff that she was super interested in doing, and, well – I think that paying attention to me (at least as much as I wanted or needed) was maybe not always one of those things. She tried really hard, and did the best she could. I know that. But the way she showed me love seems to have helped to create some neurological patterning that makes me very attracted to people who are only intermittently available. I’m working on looking at that, changing that. Today, I’m thinking about the fact that I know I am loved. Even and especially by some very wonderful people who also were or are very hurt or ill, which impacted their ability to consistently show that love. That doesn’t make it any less real. I’m realizing very clearly that the most generous thing that you can do in and for this world is to seek out your own healing. To lovingly face your pain, and find a way to come through it. To show up for ourselves makes it possible for us to be there for others. There is no other way. I think about this quote all the time:
“I would say that the thrust of my life has been initially about getting free, and then realizing that my freedom is not independent of everybody else. Then I am arriving at that circle where one works on oneself as a gift to other people so that one doesn’t create more suffering. I help people as a work on myself and I work on myself to help people.”
― Ram Dass
I talked to my father and the phone last night, and he gave me some things to think about that really blew my mind. He’s a wise man, my dear old dad. We discussed some radical concepts in self-love, in receiving love. I think for a long time, that little kid part of my brain just thought that gone is gone. And that if you were gone, your heart was gone too – so that meant there wasn’t anything to love with anymore. If you were gone, it was because you didn’t love enough to stay. If you really loved me, you wouldn’t leave. You’d want to stay here with me. These complex equations the childish heart makes: since you left, you must not love me, and that means that I must be very unlovable indeed. I realize all the ways I’ve been playing out that faulty kid logic, and for how many years. Too long. My dad tells me that my mom still loves me, and that she wants me to feel good and be happy. That I can mother myself as her proxy, giving myself everything that I need. I can always tell when my dad says something very true, because my throat will get real tight, and I’ll feel like crying. It’s hard to think about. I realize I’ve had a block there, for a long time. Maybe in dreams or visions, in alternate dimensions, I’ve seen my mom. But most of the time, in regular, every day reality: she’s not here. Or so I thought. Gone is gone. I always scoffed a bit internally at the well-meaning people in my life who would assure me that my mom was still here with me – because in all the ways that I felt really counted, she wasn’t. She never saw me grow up. She doesn’t know what I look like. She’ll never meet a love of mine, or my children, if I ever have any. Or can she see, somehow? I feel my grandparent’s spirits around me, and know they’re there. I trust that the souls of my pets that have died, my animal familiars, are still with me. So why not my mom? Why have I been so resistant to imagining that she might be my number one guardian angel? What if every time I’ve had a close call on the highway or tripping down a tall staircase, and felt a magnificent force swoop me to safety – it was her? Who knows, really – but it’s fascinating to me that I’ve never even really let myself imagine it until now. What if every person who ever loved you, still loves you? You can be gone, and still love. Your body can be burnt up to nothing, your bones just dust, and there will be some part of you that can still go on, loving. People might physically go away, but that doesn’t mean that the part of them that loves you is doesn’t exist. Maybe this is obvious to most people, but I think for anyone that’s lost a parent at a young age, it’s just not.
A good day for Strength. The image is a detail of that card, from the Zerner Farber deck.
The lemniscate, or infinity symbol, ( ∞ ) is a variation of the ouroboros: a circle curled in on itself, doubled, and continuous. Today, August 8th, 2015 is known as 8-8-8, as 2015 adds up to another 8 (2+0+1+5=8). 888 is triple fortune, and considered very good luck in Chinese numerology. The triumverate lemniscate. So, I’m thinking about eternity, and about how nothing ever really dies. There are no endings. There is no death. Our lives are so short, because we are constantly regenerating. When we love consumed by the fear of loss, we’re forgetting that love never dies. It just transforms. Love is all around. You’re not alone, kid. I get that today, even though I’m sitting here by myself – I do feel completely surrounded by love. So many kind friends and family have reached out to me today, and sent sweet messages to let me know they’re thinking of me. I know that if I didn’t want to be alone right now (though I actually do!), I absolutely wouldn’t have to be – that there are plenty of people who would be thrilled to go get ice cream with me. I didn’t always know that. Or, rationally, a part of me did – but on a soul level, I could never absorb it. The fear of being totally alone and abandoned was once the hollow thing at my core that motivated so many of my interactions. I’m working on being able to receive love – from myself, and from the people who love me. I didn’t realize that there was a part of me that didn’t really know how to do that. That didn’t feel worthy of it. It’s taken some time, but I do feel that being healed. I’ve had some pretty incredible experiences recently that have shown me that, so powerfully. For the first time, it occurs to me that maybe the date of my mother’s death was no accident, or coincidence – that she left this earth on the day that a portal of light opened up, and that every year, it opens up again, so she can shine to me.
This past Mother’s Day, my writing group, Revolution Writing Workshop, participated in a special reading at Malvern Books. I shared something that came from the writing about my mom that I’ve done here:
And, if you’d like to read more about this journey, here you go:
by Angeliska on August 6, 2015
“In that latitude the temperature flirted with a hundred degrees for a few of the dog days, but to a child it can hardly ever be too hot. I liked the sun licking the backs of my legs, and the sweat between my shoulder blades, and the violet evenings, with ice cream and fireflies, wherein the long day slowly cooled. I liked the ants piling up dirt like coffee grounds between the bricks of our front walk, and the milkweed spittle in the vacant lot next door. I liked the freedom of shorts, sneakers, and striped T-shirt, with freckles and a short hot-weather haircut.
We love easily in summer, perhaps, because we love our summer selves.”
― John Updike
Here you are towards the end of summer, a peach on the tree, unripe.
Nothing feels ready, nothing feels done.
What does it take for anything to feel complete?
The heat in your body ripples out in quivering waves: creating mirages,
shimmering oases, pools of clear blue water that coruscate
upon the tarry asphalt blacktop,
beckoning for an instant and then gone.
Burning up inside but no fever.
It sucks so bad to be sick in summer.
All the soup and tea in the world can’t help you.
It feels wrong anyway. You drink it down anyway.
You must stay down, stay inside.
cherry bark cough syrup spilled
and coating the inside of your thighs
sticky but not sexy.
The optical illusion of all the time in the world.
Iced tea drinkin’, front porch sittin’, and no deep thinkin’.
The only way to survive a summer in the south.
The mosquitoes are mostly gone because all the rain’s dried up
but you didn’t go swim enough. Got that end of summer feeling again
like maybe you missed the boat. So many photographs of friends
at weddings, dipping in sacred cenotes, lounging on boats,
washing their hair in rainbow waterfalls with blue butterflies all around.
I mean, you’ve been that person too, sometimes. Right?
Texts and subtexts. Everything’s gone to pot, and the pot’s black.
It’s days like this that make you want to throw your hands up,
move to a cave somewhere far away, stop trying to ever help
anyone ever, never speak a word to any humans ever again.
But, whatever you do, don’t try to escape from your pain. Just be with it.
The surest way to go to hell is to run away from hell.
Dog days and the dogs are bored.
Long hours spent, tongues lolling
on the cool concrete floor of the laundry room.
Little projects and bits of big ones finished here and there, but it’s never done, never enough.
In winter it’s okay to rest, to hibernate. In summer, you just feel like a jerk for it.
Classical station KMFA on the little rainbow radio, late into the night,
on the nights you can keep your eyes open long enough to catch
the good stuff. The music to keep the night owls company.
Not such a good night owl anymore, but you more or less fail
at being a morning bird – so what kind of strange bird are you now?
Rara avis, eh? Or maybe just the in-between kind. A cygnet, famously ugly.
One day your eggs will hatch – and some very strange birds are going to emerge.
The overall lassitude is infectious. When you’re not traveling anywhere:
not preparing to travel, or recovering from travel. Just staying put.
Staying in. Your elevation may require your isolation.
It’s the same old story. But you miss your friends.
Old summer habits are hard to break:
That staying too much indoors, because of the heat, the bugs, the brightness.
Your body feels like lead by midday, though early in the morning it’s made of pure gold.
All you do with it is stretch out in that shining dazzle coming in the windows from the east
Wave your hands in thanks, in dazed gratitude, and fall back fast asleep.
You meant to swim more, play dominoes, think less,
stretch the body, delight in it – at the radiant joy of even having one,
being gifted this form. You meant to walk the dogs more, take them
to the not very secret place to splash around. But everything got very heavy.
One page seemed to take all day. Four hours passed in the blink of an eye.
Time ceased to make any sense at all.
To be a green anole, perched on the handrail by your bedroom window:
heart-shaped throat bubble beating like a valentine, being presented outward,
over and over, as a gift, an enticement, a form of communication.
We could learn some lessons in that, and in regeneration, from lizards.
The tiny chirps of the golden eyed tree frogs who seem to live in your windowsill
serenade you in the evenings. You want so much to learn their language.
You like to imagine their tiny hands, with orbed and sticky fingertips. If you had fingertips
like that, you could climb the walls better. Vanquish those monstrous tree roaches,
nemeses that plague you, who desecrate your sanctuary seeking out water, your company.
Yellow-jackets and lazy red wasps get trapped in your bedroom.
They used to fly in through the broken window before you taped it up.
The fly around aimlessly, prompting theatrical maneuvers,
much ducking and covering, cowering in the dark. Keeping very still.
Dusky green hummingbirds shop the turk’s cap, un-photographable.
Crepe myrtle’s heavy fuchsia heads sway listlessly in the warm breeze.
It’s like living something out of Tennessee Williams or Eudora Welty,
why feel moved to review it, if you exist in it?
There’s always something to recover from in summer:
some sordid drama or flare out of energy.
Sunspots cause brownouts in the grid
and in your vision as you stumble, blinking, inside.
Disasters in this season always have a bit of theatrical flair:
enter the black plague on the back of a flea, stage left.
It’s stands to reason, being the Leo time of year. If you listen
closely, you catch echoes of the lion’s dying roar.
There are always catastrophes – deaths, wildfires and big storms.
Heated up tempers. The horseherb is burnt to a crisp, the grass gone yellow.
Nighttime doesn’t feel safe for long strolls and canine constitutionals.
When you do go, you come back with your shoes filled to the brim with salt-water.
Hands bearing the marks of a rope wound tight, spine set rigid, then slack as a whip.
Strange shapes move inside of the night that might swallow you up (and your little dog too).
You think: maybe pushups, for these arms that used to resemble sticks.
Now much rounder, softer stalks, made of marshmallow root. Maybe yoga,
and pour another glass of iced tea. The hammock goes unhung.
The early hours untested, though it’s cool enough still, then.
You lay on the wood floor in an old rayon slip, soaked to the bone,
flapping a rattan fan hopelessly like the mouth of a goldfish upended:
oh no oh no oh no
You get lost on the way to your sad appointment.
Nearly get into an accident on the highway with
a bald man in a big truck who pulls forward into
oncoming traffic without looking, his hand clutched
at his ear, foot on the gas. You honk at him and then
honk some more. A scared and angry goosegirl, sent
into an animal confusion and so you mix up north and south.
Migrating for miles and miles in the wrong direction.
You’re having a panic attack but don’t know it yet.
You are reminded of this fact by the handsome young man with the trim black beard
sitting at the bus stop dressed in neat and sober charcoal grey despite the heat
who watches you roll past crying, your hand pressed to your mouth.
He nods gravely in acknowledgment. You make your way down the
quiet road a piece to a spot of shade where you can properly fall apart.
There’s a difference between inaction and velleity.
This feels like being so tired you can’t move.
You work so hard to make things better, and in
the end it all happens anyway. Where’s the space
for real rest? Where do we make room for powerlessness?
There are plenty of good and lovely things, too. Of course.
There are worse things it does no good to even allude to.
You had started writing poetry again, sort of.
This is how it came out today. As an experiment
in standing outside the self, and seeing how it looks from there.
Easier, sort of – and yet infinitely more uncomfortable.
Lispector – Peachtree Street
“Once I saw this famous actress on Peachtree Street.
There is no tree. There is no peach. On Peachtree Street.“
by Angeliska on July 9, 2015
I started writing this almost a year ago:
Take a picture of a dark room at 4am, slap a filter on it, capture a ghost. Take a picture of your insomniac, restless spirit, up tossing and turning way past midnight. Take a picture of a tree that falls in the woods and no one hears it, of fragments of dreams, of memories of past travels, old loves, friends you haven’t talked to in years, time rushing too fast to write all the letters, make all the calls, say all the words, see all the things, read all the books, sing all the songs, learn every language, play every instrument, master every skill. Sand running in the glass & gritty in my bed but not in my eyes from Mr. Sandman. This is the time of night when I’m wide awake and thinking of all the dear ones I love, and I’d call to tell you do but everyone else in the world is sleeping soundly now. Maybe now that I’ve transcribed that from my brainpan, I can finally get some rest.
I couldn’t sleep. Something made me rise naked and wild-eyed from my bed, leaving the warmth of my companion, who was sleeping soundly. I went into my studio almost in a trance, and walked straight over to a stack of my old journals. I grabbed them up, wrapped myself in a shawl, sat at the kitchen table with one lamp on, and started to read. The restlessness in me woke something else up, too. A lot of unanswerable questions that I’m still grappling with about time, and memory, and why we write. This is the pinhole, the aperture. A starting place that has been opening back up very, very slowly.
There is a space that exists, in the interim of a long period of silence. It is a black hole that has a force, a velocity to it. It sucks many things into its centre, into that place of nothingness, of no words. It is like what happens between two friends who go a long time without speaking. You mean to pick up the phone, to write that letter – in fact, you think of it every day. It nags at you with an insistence, and yet – the silence, the space it takes up, begins to take on a shape of its own. Intentions, excuses, memories, resentments, fragments of your last interaction all fall into it, and congeal into a bogeyman made up of all these disparate thoughts. It takes a certain kind of will, a bravery – to stand at the lip of that void and boldly shout a long overdue HEY! Or whisper a tentative hello.
I’ve been quiet in this space I keep for writing, for sharing, for a lot of reasons. Until this moment, all those reasons kept me from being able to break the seal on that silence. There was just too much. What do you say to the friend who you think of every day, but for whatever reason, just can’t or don’t talk to for a while? Those weeks stretch into months, and then it just becomes more and more awkward to explain where you’ve been, what you’ve been doing instead of getting in touch, reaching out. How do you begin? Perhaps like this:
Soooo… The reason I didn’t write for so long is because I’ve just had a lot going on – too much to really explain or get into here, and also, well… To be honest, I’ve really been thinking about our friendship, and questioning a lot of things in myself, and making up a lot things that I decided you were probably thinking, and then questioning the reality of your existence at all. I know it’s been six months. I’m sorry if you missed me. I thought about you a lot.
How do you say all of that to the invisible friend, the reader, whoever you are? The reader is not a who – and though right at this moment, you are the reader. Though, you specifically are not who I refer to when I try to write about this idea of friendship. I dearly want to come back to that idea, but I have to address it with this construct that I can’t really have an actual dialogue with. I mean, this whole thing started in a way, as so many people just whistling in the dark. That’s how I’ve always seen it: tossing things out in the void, into the ether. A golden record sent out into space, a love letter to distant civilizations, intelligent lifeforms. The echo of the Bulgarian folk singing that stirs my soul so profoundly potentially catching the ear of some errant alien searching for signs of life. It began as a way to connect with friends. There were other people out there, in the night, staring at their own computers. People you knew and people you didn’t, but suddenly, there was this sense of caring. It felt like more than just endless scrolling, scanning, reading, clicking, commenting, engaging, interacting. A community formed. Many of the people I met through this medium during that time have become true friends. Real life friends. I’ve been grateful for the way this technology gives us a window into each other’s lives, helps us stay close – even when we’re physically distant. So, this has place where I keep my friends (even those I have never met) abreast of my doings, thinkings, musings. Only connect! That has been my motto in all of this. I remember, in a time before email – I had penpals. I loved receiving letters from people all over the world – feeling like time and space were traversable, foldable, insignificant. This has been a way of doing that, too.
“Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its highest. Live in fragments no longer.”
― E.M. Forster, Howards End
But then, I stopped connecting. Stopped really wanting to. I wasn’t reading blogs much, anymore – even my those written by dear friends, who I loved reading about. If I didn’t have the energy to engage in that way, why assume that anyone else did, anymore? We are just mirrors in the dark. I had to really sit with and examine this assumption that I have, or had, a wide readership, who somehow cared whether I wrote about my dead mom every August the 8th, or about my trip to Colombia last summer, or the adventure that I had with my Grandfather in Serbia in 2005, right before Katrina. I mean, I want to write about these things for me, for myself – as a document, a testament, a processing. I’ve always thought that if anyone else gets something out of the the things I share here, well – what a terrific bonus that is…! It’s that tree falls in the woods thing, though. Wanting what you do to make a sound. Have some kind of effect. And yet I know that somehow, this thing that I come here to do sometimes does matter – every once in awhile. It’s knowing that my solipsistic wonderings and wanderings do help people out there, from time to time. Friends, and friends I haven’t yet met. Who do we write for? An unseen audience, the mysterious reader, or even just my friends and family who I know like to keep up with me. That idea, though. I think you have to have it, in some way, if you are going to write. You have to start pouring the words out as if it doesn’t matter who sees it. Dance like no one’s watching. But the voice crying in the wilderness does want to be heard, to be read. And so. But where does it all go? Into the little leather and brocade diary you keep in your handbag and carry around with you everywhere? Sometimes, yes. I used to have a secret wish, combing through antique stores when I was a kid (and still do, even now) that I would come across someone’s diary. A dusty testament of life from another time. I think the phenomenon of journaling online felt like that to me, a little bit. Stumbling upon a portal into another world.
“I inherited a dark wood to which I seldom go. But a day will come when the dead and the living change places. Then the wood will begin to stir. We are not without hope. The most serious crimes remain unsolved despite the efforts of many policeman. In the same way there exists, somewhere in our lives, a great love, unsolved. I inherited a dark wood but today I am going into another wood, the bright one. Every living thing that sings, wriggles, oscillates, and crawls! It is spring and the air is very strong. I have a degree from oblivion’s university and am empty-handed as the shirt on the clothesline.”
— Madrigal, by Tomas Tranströmer
“This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women. There is my creed.” – D. H. Lawrence
This is the very first thing, the only thing I’ve written here, in this space, so far this entire year. It’s July. You know what’s interesting to me? That not one person has asked, (directly or indirectly) about why I stopped writing here for more than half a year – and in a way that’s been totally liberating. To not feel a responsibility to write. To anyone. No deadlines, no readers. To let go of this ridiculous and egotistic idea that I had some vast and far-flung readership who sit clicking the refresh button on their browser with baited breath in hopes that I’ll finally get my head out my my ass and just write something again. I mean, there are scores of dead and abandoned blogs out there, to be sure. There are people whose writing I adored reading online, who one day just winked out of existence. Not that they died, necessarily – but that they no longer shared themselves with the world at large in that way. The portal closed. Maybe another portal in their lives opened up that made that urge unnecessary, or impossible. A child, a relationship, a job, travel, illness. A Russian conglomerate that buys your journaling platform and turns it into a sinking ship that everyone eventually bails off of. Other platforms for sharing that rise up like mushrooms to take the place of those communities. Now we can stay connected in 140 characters, in newsfeeds populated with nonsense, in small square images, photographs only ever viewed on hand held devices.
I think it was this thought, this analogy – about connection and disconnection – about that heavy friend silence that I know so well, that’s even making it possible for me to type out these words right now. I mean – this same thing has been happening in other corners of my life as well: so, so many emails and letters and phone calls all gone unanswered. How to explain that it’s just not personal, that it is occurring across the board – because in some other long neglected area of my life, something strange and undefinable has been happening. It has been a somewhat conscious (if not wholly strategic) withdrawal. Into the cocoon. Away from certain kinds of obligation to external energy, to people, to organizations, to all the places where for a very long time, I’ve been expending my vital juice. Sometimes, you have to just unplug from everything. Shut down the system – identify the sources of the drain, investigate how to tap into a more sustainable source of energy, and REBOOT. This has been taking some time. I suppose that there’s some irony in this computer metaphor – because that’s been part of the problem, really. I haven’t had much desire to spend a lot of time sitting on the computer, staring at a screen, typing on a keyboard. It stopped feeling real to me – it stopped feeling like living. The truth is, though – I haven’t actually stopped writing at all. In fact, I have been writing more, or more consistently then ever, maybe. This hasn’t been a case of writer’s block. I have a writing group I go to once a week where I hammer out a lot of the stories and truths that don’t necessarily belong here. Yet. Or ever. I started taking some amazing writing workshops, and returning to writing by hand, to journaling, to writing things that are only for me, at least for now. Maybe they will exist only on paper, in books. Books that you can buy, and take home with you. Sit with over tea. I’m working hard on something write now – a big dream that I’ve wanted to make real for most of my life. It’s going to take a lot of focus and hard work, real dedication and discipline to make it happen. If I can find time to squeeze in something here and there in this place, I will. I want to. I have been also deeply questioning my desire and intention to share my thoughts and writing online, in a public space – here. I’ve just wanted to live in the moment, without documenting it. To be in my body and the present moment more completely than I’ve ever been able to before.
It has taken a long time for me to feel ready to try to crystallize any of what I’ve had floating around in my head into some kind of honey I feel might be worth sharing. But a few little signs have appeared to me here and there that indicate it might be a good moment to dip my toe in. A swirl of black ink, making arabesques in the water before it dissipates, disappears. The thing is, I’m ready to say hello now, but I don’t know when I’ll have time to write about all the things I’d like to write about here. So many things I’d like to share! For months and months, I haven’t known what to say. I haven’t wanted to sit alone in front of the computer. I’ve been thinking so much though, about this solitary work we do together. I’ve come back to my hands, to blank books made of paper, to writing on the page with ink. I had to re-think. About why I needed to come here, in the night. Why you might. Why anyone comes here, to read these words. Writing sometimes flows out of me like water. Other times it feels like an old mule turning a rusty wheel. The wheel that turns time. For a long time, I only wrote to honor the turning of the seasons. Solstices, Equinoxes. Happenings, and travels. Deaths and the anniversaries of deaths. I only felt moved to write to mark the passage of time. Everything else fell away. The quotidian. My urge to share links, information, pretty things. I’ve always been the archivist. The truth is that for most of my life, I’ve felt very lonely. I think that’s true for a lot of people, even if we might be loath to admit it. We live in such an isolated way, these days. It’s not surprising that we find ways like this, to try and bridge that gap. Shouting to one another from opposite sides of the abyss. Helllooooo! Is anybody out there? The big thing is that I’m learning out to hang out with the echoes. To be okay with my own company. To be alone, and for once – not feel so lonesome on my own. This is big work, and it’s changing me. It’s changing the way I write, and why I write. Where I write. How I share. This feels like a such a jumble of fragmentary thoughts and ideas that I’ve honestly been wrestling with for way too long. Will anyone actually read it, or particularly care? I guess you know, if that’s what you’re doing now – and I’m grateful to you for reading this far. I can’t worry about that part anymore though. I’m just glad I have a place to put these thoughts – so I can stop spinning in circles about it, and hopefully feel free to share something else, anything else. Who knows what, or when. But the seal is broken, and the door is open again. Let’s see what comes through, yes?
I can be alone,
I know how to be alone.
There is a tacit understanding between my pencils
and the trees outside;
between the rain
and my luminous hair.
The tea is boiling:
my golden zone,
my pure burning amber.
I can be alone,
I know how to be alone.
– Nina Cassian
Star-heart Jesus in Brooklyn. A little sidewalk grotto in front of a brownstone, on a pretty quiet street. I was coming back from seeing Nick Cave play in the park. This was a happy accident. Forgot I had the flash on, turned it off and took a few others. Only later realized that it illuminated his sacred heart perfectly.
“The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake a night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.” – T. H. White
p.s. This post is dedicated to Minty, in Liverpool. I didn’t know you that you existed, until a few days ago. Chance, the synchronicity of connection, and very magical circumstance brought the fact that you do to my attention – and it was this that gave me the kick in the pants I so needed to come back and write here again. Thank you so much for reading. It means more to me than you know.
by Angeliska on December 31, 2014
Right now, I am standing on the brink between one year and the next, and for the first time in a long time – I feel totally different. The long, long ago feels a lot farther away. So much has shifted for me this year: internally and externally – and though I am far from being able to really process it all and come to any place of deep understanding about what all these changes will really bring, I feel strangely at peace. This year has been truly wild, in so many ways. I learned so much. I let go of things that meant a lot to me. I got rid of a decade’s worth of physical junk that I didn’t need. I stopped doing some things, and began others. I thought about where I put my energy, and made big decisions regarding my approach. I lost a lot, and I gained a lot. I witnessed so much pain, and also – so much jubilation. I went on incredible adventures. I pushed my boundaries, and found that sometimes you have to sit with being completely uncomfortable before you can really get anywhere. My heart broke, and broke again. I loved so hard and so blindly that I allowed myself to get very lost. My dear friend Charity wrote this to me the other day, and it helps me to read, so I’ll put it here:
“I think you’re amazing, of course, and no one can convince you of that, but there it is.
When someone leaves you, or a relationship fails right when you’re ready for it to succeed,
all we can do is examine the ruins… Which feels shitty, especially when you want to do the
good work at building palaces and love grottoes. Oy, timing.”
There’s a quote this makes me think of (I think of it often, actually) taught to me by my friend Nica: it’s from the novel “Mating” by Norman Rush, and it goes: “He said, There is a school of thought, a heresy from the madhouse of heresies in the ninth century, that says God is good and is in control of every individual thing that happens, every event, but that unfortunately the devil is in control of timing. Hence, gaffes. Hence, the actually existing world.”
Hence, broken hearts. It’s hard to think there could ever be any wrong in too much love – but what is love, and what is longing? It’s time to finally know the difference, and to learn something about really being alone. Being with myself. Going into the dark cave of the soul, into the ruins, the ancient temple. It’s humbling to be so blind and naked: groping and stumbling in the dim – reading the hieroglyphic stories written long ago, those old scripts. I know now that they can be re-written, amended, edited – into something that serves the higher self better. Those stories from our past don’t have to define us any longer. Not if we’re willing to do the work to heal ourselves. In the dark night, I listened to what the bitter medicine had to tell me, and – at some point, I’ll be coming out the other side. Wiser, maybe. I hope. Stronger, I think. Something about being shattered over and over again will eventually take you to a place where you just no longer fear it the way you used to. Maybe. I’m looking into what happens to us when we really start letting go. What happens when we truly surrender control? Strange things. Amazing things. I feel as if all of these brilliant, golden balls of possibility have been suddenly tossed up into the air, and set into motion: for the first time in a long time, life does truly seem limitless. Anything could happen now. Anything! This is a time for wish work – for manifesting. The future from this point forward feels wide open: the perfect place for a bright comet to streak through, trailing stardust, cosmic debris – all the stuff we are made of. It could be you and me up there, flying through the stratosphere. If you want it. It’s a little shocking, every time another layer of the blinders we tend to shutter ourselves with gets removed. It’s kind of crazy how willfully, how almost intentionally, we can hold ourselves back from flight, from rising – from doing everything we were born to do. It doesn’t have to be like that, you know. The cage is open, and you can fly out whenever you want.
They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
― Andy Warhol
This is the first time in several years that we won’t be gathering out in Lone Grove for New Year’s Eve. Feels strange to admit it, to acquiesce – but the weather gods are not cooperating with us, currently! Mother Nature has conspired to invite Jack Frost and the Snow Queen to visit the Hill Country, and though cold is something we can totally handle – icy roads and sleety freezing rain might make for a miserable and potentially dangerous situation. We’re planning to reconvene out there for 12th Night, and the full moon, instead. Old country magic will still happen – just a few days later… We’ve been so lucky with the weather for so long – I guess there had to be some tests of faith thrown in there. Seems like there’s been a lot of those this year, eh? It’s really forced me to learn to be flexible, to go with the flow, and to seek out my internal resources to ensure that no matter what – I can gain something from whatever is happening. I’ve been working on that whole “relinquishing attachment to the outcome” thing for a little while now, and I’m really hoping that I’m starting to get better at it. It’s so easy to fall back into habits, into rigidity, into making demands that the universe fit neatly into the palm of your hand – right when you want it. But I’m beginning to learn that if I open up and trust a little bit – if I speak more softly and whisper my heartfelt requests, well… Good things can and will happen, of their own accord. Often in the most surprising ways. It pains me to change plans – to go against the traditions I’ve held so firmly to for years. But the reed that resists the river, breaks. And I’m voting for no unnecessary suffering for 2015. This past year has held more than enough. So, on New Year’s Eve this year, I’ll be (literally) in a glittering gold dust wonderland, created by dear friends, and ideally – enjoying the dazzle of a party I’m not responsible for! What liberation – what a delight! The theme is one very close to my heart: “a gilded explosion of glamour and light, channeling Biba style, the Egyptian Revival, the 1920s Golden Age of sequins and stockings, golden disco balls & golden dance halls, Ziggy Stardust, the sun, the stars, the dawn, the Golden Eye, the Gold Rush, and the transformation of everything dark into everything bright.” I mean. How can I resist that? Lead into gold: spirit alchemy, and unexpected transformations. Bend, go, trust, flow. There are blessings undreamed of, awaiting us. I know it.
So, ironically, I set out this year to write all about winter, and community, and what the cold has to teach us – during a year where the (quite extreme and unreasonable) cold is keeping us home. I want to share this excerpt from the essay WATER IMMERSION DAY, by Thea Elijah. The entire essay is amazing, and I have read it aloud to the gathered circle for the past two Winter Solstices. It’s been really, really helpful to me. This part, especially, though – it encapsulates exactly why it’s so important to me to go out to the country, my ancestral land, every year – in the cold. On the New Year. To gather with friends and family and welcome in the turning. To feel what it is to survive together, to have it seem a little more dire, a little more important than just hanging out, having a party. This feels necessary to me. And this is why:
“That there is some deep self-knowing that comes in winter, that is a holding of the warmth on the inside, and part of what is so good about this holding of one’s warmth on the inside, is the memory of summer, and that summer will return; and the very careful and precious nature of exchange of warmth. This is a precious thing, not be taken lightly, the exchange of warmth. One of the things I love about New England is that if you and one other person are the only two people on the street when it’s thirty below, you definitely smile at each other. You are so happy to see this other person. However, the heart exchanges in this very careful way in winter. It’s not like a summer greeting. It’s a very different greeting, that thirty below kind of greeting. It’s pared down. Talk about love in the cold times. There’s that deep winter from one- living-being-to-another affirmation. Ah, you live. I live. That’s so powerful.
In summer it’s like yeah, you’re alive, I’m alive, ha ha. I mean it’s great, love in the summer, easy in a way. But the holding of this deep winter ‘I live,’ the holding of this deep warmth, and the incredible specialness of how much it means in winter, to be able to greet from that place. Try it for a moment. First be summer. Just be out and about in the room. Yeah, see the whole room changes. Here we are and we’re together and that’s fine. It’s not as special to be sharing warmth in summer. Now draw yourself in. Figure it’s cold and it’s going to be cold for awhile and on some level every single one of us is on our own, because it’s our survival that either will or will not happen in the cold. And then having taken responsibility for that, that paring down, saying o.k., each and every one us, our life in our own safekeeping… it’s not entirely pleasant to feel but I promise, it is salutary. I promise I’m taking you some place that is a health-promoting place. Bear with me, let yourself feel where I’m taking you. I need to protect my survival and that’s up to me. It’s a cold world. And my survival’s mine and I need to hold to this; I am in here. Now each of us having taken responsibility for this light that’s mine, then to look around the room at other lights and say, all right, we can build something together. If your car is stuck I’ll help you. If you need wood. I’ve taken care of mine. I’m alert to my survival. I’m already prepared for mine. I’ve already put in my stores and now I look to the rest of the people, one of whom might have a little bit more wood, one of whom might have a little more food, to feel that very different quality of being ‘in it together’ than the summer way of being in it together.
You feel this in New Englanders in a way that you don’t feel it in Florida folk. This quality of kind of checking each other out as we make alliance with somebody, from a winter mentality. You got any wood put away, buddy? Do you know it’s cold? Or are you just some summer person who doesn’t know about that? Do you know about cold? Are you aware of the coming dark? Do you know about winter? Do you know how cold it can get? There’s a way in which that’s who we want to know in our community. Don’t you want neighbors who also have their own wood stacked up, because they know winter is coming and they know what winter is about and they’re preparing, too? Yes. We are allies: all of us who know about the cold and have prepared. Now I’m ready to be your friend. There’s a wariness. My survival is at stake. I’ll stake it with you if you know my survival is at stake. And your survival is at stake. And yes, I’m willing to pull together, but it’s a very different feeling. It’s not Southern hospitality, because you don’t have to heat down there.
Cold teaches us this responsibility, this awareness. I want to make sure that I’m saying this in a way that really gets across the virtue – there’s the contrast between the whole Southern hospitality thing, and the more Northern quality of wise friendship. We want a friend who knows what winter is, don’t we? We want friends who understand that it can be very cold for a long time. And that’s whose eye you want to meet. The eye with the kind of love that knows that it isn’t necessarily easy. I want to be around people who know that it’s going to snow and they’re going to have to shovel it. This changes a person’s consciousness and it changes the nature of a person’s connections. Cold teaches about conservation of vital resource, what it means to share warmth and share resources when resources are not plentiful, when the sharing of resources is a matter of survival. Is everybody equally aware of that? It matters.”
– Thea Elijah
Okay, so – another irony I have to point out, however – is that it does actually get damned cold down South, and we do seriously have to heat down here! But I guess it’s rarely cold enough to keep us from camping outside in the middle of winter – except for this year… Dammit.
I’ve been thinking about that song, Auld Lang Syne, and how I grew up hearing it sung at New Year’s Eve parties when I was little. I remember being frustrated, because it seemed so important to people, but I didn’t understand what the words meant. It felt poignant, and people would sway together and get teary, and smash their glasses together in drunken toasts, and I’d be so sleepy but wired on the energy around me and wanting to stay up late and be part of it all. I can’t remember ever seeing folks do this, though:
“It is common practice that everyone joins hands with the person next to them to form a great circle around the dance floor. At the beginning of the last verse, everyone crosses their arms across their breast, so that the right hand reaches out to the neighbour on the left and vice versa. When the tune ends, everyone rushes to the middle, while still holding hands. When the circle is re-established, everyone turns under the arms to end up facing outwards with hands still joined.”
I wish people would do that still, and sing the old song again. I like traditions, the old ways. They connect us from here to there, then to now.
Past. Future. Always now.
Here are the words of Auld Lang Syne translated from the original Scots folk verse into a minimalist English:
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and long, long ago?
For long, long ago, my dear,
for long, long ago,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for long, long ago.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for long, long ago.
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since long, long ago.
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since long, long ago.
And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for long, long ago.
Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On Old long syne.
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my friendships, my relationships, lately. Thinking a lot about the surprise of how closeness with those we’ve loved can ebb and flow. People come and go. Someone can be so central to your life, to your everyday notion of existence, and then – one day, just gone. Often it happens slowly: some have babies, and careers and tragedies and depression and television and secrets and gardens and end up with hands full and overflowing with everything that goes into building a life. Some kinds of survival take our full focus. I know now that friendships are an integral part of that survival. But people move away and you never see them again. Maybe we’ll meet on a crowded street corner years from now in a city neither of us live in. Or maybe not. People just stop talking to each other. Stop checking in. Stop inviting each other to parties. Ebb and flow. Sometimes this is discussed, or questioned – and sometimes not. Friends can fall out of our hands like sand, when we’re looking the other way. Connections can be severed, and it can feel so final – so irrevocable. We don’t really speak anymore. The burden of the tangle between us got to be too much to unknot, and we moved on, sailed away. This has always been hard for me. I like to hold on, even when it doesn’t serve me. I think this is because I’ve lost so many people I loved to death. So many. Those faces I’ll never see again. That’s the hardest part – that they are so truly gone. It’s also why I’ve been so happily surprised to find that even estranged friendships, or people I’d thought lost, or even grown distant from myself for one reason or another, can come back around. Be redeemed. Reconnect. Relationships don’t end – they just transform. We grow, we learn, we change. Often for the better. We’re all trying the best we can. Everyone on earth, at every moment, is truly and genuinely doing the very best they can. Sometimes your might curl your lip, and say, “Well, their best seems pretty crappy to me!” But – that is what they have to offer at that moment, given whatever they are equipped with. I’m really trying to remember that, lately. For myself, too. I mess up, so often. Say the wrong thing. React. Get scared. Do the wrong thing. I’m trying to be patient with myself, and with everybody else.
The best thing we can do for each other is try and speak our truths, speak from the heart – and listen honestly and quietly to one another. To do our very best to be kind, to be understanding. I have been working on judgment a lot in the past few years – realizing how harshly I have judged others in my life: people I knew, people I didn’t even know – and how, in the end, my judgements were all about my own fear and sadness. And how, in the end, they hurt me more than the people I judged. I regret this, deeply. I want to change this thing in me. So, I’m putting this here – as a reminder to myself, that the most important thing we have in this life is each other. Our friendships, our communities, our families, our people. I want to deepen the true heart connections with the people I love. I want to be able to be of better service and support to them. The work I do on myself now makes it possible for me to have more to offer to everyone else. Ram Dass actually said it better, here:
“I would say that the thrust of my life has been initially about getting free, and then realizing that my freedom is not independent of everybody else. Then I am arriving at that circle where one works on oneself as a gift to other people so that one doesn’t create more suffering. I help people as a work on myself and I work on myself to help people.”
Happy New Year, friends. May 2015 be a year of filled with wonder, powerful growth, and transformative healing for us all.
I love you. Thank you for reading.
More to read from New Year’s Eves of yore:
✶ YEAR OF THE HORSE
✶ NEW YEAR’S EVE FOXFIRES AT THE CHANGING TREE
✶ FUCK THE PLAN 2012
✶ AN EPICALLY EPIC AND FAIRLY TARDY YEAR IN REVIEW – OR, HOLY SHIT: 2011!
✶ A Bright Blue Wish
✶ New Year’s Redux
✶ Stargazer Honey
✶ Blue Moon
✶ Lone Grove New Year
✶ Pink Moons
✶ The New Year
✶ Lucky Stars and Garters
✶ La Nouvelle Année
by Angeliska on December 21, 2014
Happy Winter Solstice, and new moon in Capricorn. This is a reflective season, a time to go inward and focus on the light within. The regenerative powers of darkness gather around us now, and give us a container to find our own healing in. The long hibernation of woodland animals in their dark dens and caves can teach us something about not stretching ourselves too thin. Now is a time when it is so easy to give in to the relentless hustle and bustle. This is a time to honor the elders, our ancient teachers, and all their experience has to give us. I am calling upon these energies tonight: old man time, the Hermit, the Crone, the wise men and women who came before us. Saturn rules Capricorn, the sign I was born in, and also these powerful archetypes. I am strengthened also now especially by the female energy of all my sisters: warrior women, witches, hearth-tenders, fierce mothers, sorceresses, artists and creators that inspire me every day. This post is dedicated to all of them, to all of you who are reading! Thank you for showing me the way, Solstice Sisters.
“I remember feeling that pieces of me were scattered around the world;
I belonged to her, Mother Earth.”
– Raquel Cepeda
“Just let go. Let go of how you thought your life should be, and embrace the life that is trying to work its way into your consciousness.”
— Caroline Myss
Several of these wonderful images and quotes have been very helpful to me of late. I found them through the good folks at Evolver Social Movement.
Artwork by Vladimir Fokanov
I’ve been going through kind of a dark season, recently. The grey weather and a broken heart make for dim days, even here in Texas. I’ve feel like I’ve been carrying a heavy weight, for many years – and that I’m finally ready to lay it down. Lay down that burden and ask myself honestly why I hell I felt I needed to shoulder it for so long. Saturn is working on me again – that dark teacher. I am ready to learn these lessons now, because I know I can’t continue to live on this earth and truly thrive unless I find a way to fully heal myself. These big shifts are happening across the board, for so many people: this huge opportunity for healing and growth. I’ve found a lot of solace in knowing that I’m not alone in experiencing some profound shifts towards transformation and healing, and that there is apparently quite a powerful celestial precedent for a lot of this intense internal and external movement. Aepril Schaile of Aepril’s Astrology, in particular, has been an incredible source for astrological insights during this time. I have found the wisdom that she shares so generously to be invaluable to this process of deep change that I’m going through. I recently purchased a transit reading from her, and it brought me an amazing amount of understanding, clarity and peace. I recommend her as an astrologer very highly! An in-depth look at your own personal horoscopy can help you learn more about yourself in relation to the cosmic tides, and you can support a small woman-owned business focused on promoting happiness and growth at the same time! Truly: this lady knows her stuff, and delivers the information in a very clear, compassionate and powerful way.
“As I write this post, the Moon moving through her final minutes in Libra on her way into the Dark Goddess sign Scorpio. The last moments of the overtaking Dark are here. The Moon continues to wane before renewing in a powerful cardinal New lunation on Sun the 23rd. Saturn continues to travel through the last degrees of Scorpio before changing signs on the same day. And, the Sun, who has been appearing to diminish in power, is renewed once more on the Solstice, when He appears to stand still and then move again toward glory!
So here it is folks…We’re in it. Anyone who was ANYONE in the world of Myth had to go to the Underworld to gain full Sovereignty. Goddesses, Gods, heroes, heroines…most took a journey of one kind or another into dark and difficult territory in order to come back bigger and better than ever.
In these last few days, it may appear that the Dark is winning. Here’s a secret: it’s SUPPOSED to look that way. We’re supposed to wonder if we have gone too far from the Light, if we will ever heal, if life is worth this battle, if the Sun is ever going to come back to life. That’s a crucial part of the story. The cup has to be emptied in order for it to be able to experience being filled. We have to “not know” in order to seek the knowing. We have to journey out into the Dark in order to experience the Joy of returning home to the Light.”
excerpted from Aepril’s Astrology: Before the Light
“The New Moon happens just two hours after the Solstice, both happening at 0 degrees of Capricorn. Zero degrees of any sign is very powerful, but for a cardinal sign, this packs an extra punch! This is potent moment of both release and intention setting, of calling in AND allowing for space. The space of the quiet of Winter, where the Sun Child (who is ourselves) can develop in infancy; we have entered a state of re-birthed consciousness.
Capricorn has to do with the structures and traditions of the family, and society. Uranus calls on us to awaken to how we really feel about our relationship to this. What needs to awaken, to break through or break out? Capricorn is also an earth sign, and it has to do with manifestation. If we want to continue to manifest what we have, we can keep doing what we are doing. We if need and/or want something different, something has to be done differently. The impetus comes from within, and it comes from the FEELINGS. Go toward what has heart and meaning. There is nothing to “work through” or “figure out”. Haha!
Venus in aspect to Pluto/Uranus invites us to ask ourselves: “If I were someone who truly loved myself, what would I do right now?”
Hint: the Angel does not answer rationally. (If it was rational, you have have thought of it by now.)”
excerpted from Aepril’s Astrology: Nuit Report – Solstice and New Moon!
Photograph by Nyree Mackenzie
“When winter comes to a woman’s soul, she withdraws into her inner self, her deepest spaces. She refuses all connection, refutes all arguments that she should engage in the world. She may say she is resting, but she is more than resting: She is creating a new universe within herself, examining and breaking old patterns, destroying what should not be revived, feeding in secret what needs to thrive.
Winter women are those who bring into the next cycle what should be saved. They are the deep conservators of knowledge and power. Not for nothing did ancient peoples honour the grandmother. In her calm deliberateness, she winters over our truth, she freezes out false-heartedness.
Look into her eyes, this winter woman. In their gray spaciousness you can see the future. Look out of your own winter eyes. You too can see the future.”
“Through the loveliness and power of her dream world she was now, in her old frock and botched shoes, very likely the loveliest, mightiest and most dangerous person on earth.” ― Karen Blixen, Winter’s Tales
I really loved this post/letter from Elizabeth Gilbert:
IN PRAISE OF THE INNER CRONE!
Dear Ones -
OK, we all know about the “inner child”, right? The innocent being who still lives inside of us, who needs and deserves love and care, and whom we sometimes have to channel in order to learn self-compassion?
I’m a big fan of the notion of the inner child. It can be a really healing construct. Once, when I was going through a particularly dark season of self-loathing, I taped a sweet photo of myself (age 2) on my mirror, and taught myself that any harm I did to me, I also did to HER. It made me kinder and more tender to myself. Imagining other people’s inner children makes me kinder and more tender to them.
So the Inner Child is a good thing.
These days, though, I find myself spending less time thinking about my Inner Child, and more time focused on my INNER CRONE — the old lady who lives inside me, whom I hope to someday be.
Because she’s a serious bad-ass.
The really old ladies always are bad-asses. I’m talking about the real survivors. The women who have been through everything already, so nothing scares them anymore. The ones who have already watched the world fight itself nearly to death a dozen times over. The ones who have buried their dreams and their loved ones and lived through it. The ones who have suffered pain and lived through it, and who have had their innocence challenged by ten thousand appalling assaults…and who lived through all of it.
The world is a frightening place. But you simply cannot frighten The True Crone.
Some might consider the word “crone” to be derogatory, but I don’t in the least. I honor it. The crone is a classic character from myth and folklore, and she often the bearer of great wisdom and supernatural power. She is sometimes a guardian to the underworld. She has tremendous vision, even if she is blind. She has no fear of death, which means: NO FEAR.
I keep a wall of photos of some of my favorite crones, for inspiration. The photo below is of a Ukrainian babushka named Hanna Zavorotnya who lives in (get this) Chernobyl. There are a group of about 250 such women — all tough elderly peasants — who have all recently moved back to the radioactive area around Chernobyl.
You know why they live there? Because they like it.
They like Chernobyl because that’s where they came from. They are natural-born farmers, who got kicked off their farms when disaster struck. They hated being refugees.They resented being shunted off their land after the catastrophe. They hated living in the shabby and crime-infiltrated and stress-inducing government housing in the city, and much prefer the independence of living off the land.
So they moved back home — illegally — to the most contaminated nuclear site on earth. They have formed a stupendously resilient retirement community there, in what some would call the world’s most terrifying landscape.
Is it safe? Of course not. Or, whatever. After 90 years of hard living, what does “safe” even mean? (If you survived World War II and Stalin and famine and communism’s ravages, how worried can you be about “safe”?) They drink the water. These women plant vegetables in that radioactive soil and eat them. They butcher the wild pigs that scavenge around the old nuclear power plant, and eat them, too. Their point is: “We are old. What do have to fear from radioactivity? At this age? Who cares?”
All they want is their freedom. So they take care of themselves and each other. They cut and haul their own wood. They make their own vodka. They get together and drink and laugh about the hardships of their lives. They laugh about everything, then they go outside and butcher another radioactive boar and make sausage out of him.
They are living longer and healthier lives than their peers who stayed behind in refugee housing in the cities.
I would put these women in a Bad-Ass Contest against any cocky young alleged Bad Ass you’ve got going, and I guarantee you — the Chernobyl crones would win, hands down. Put the lady in this picture in a survival contest against any Navy SEAL; she will endure longer.
We live in a society that romanticizes youth. We live in a culture where youth is considered a real accomplishment. But when you look at a seriously powerful classic crone like the woman in this photo, you see how foolish we are to obsess over youth — to imagine that the young offer much for us to aspire to, or learn from.
No wisdom like the wisdom of survival. No equanimity like the equanimity of somebody who plants a garden right on top of a nuclear disaster and gets on with it.
So these days, when my Inner Child gets all fluttery with the panic of living, I just ask myself: ” WWMICD?”
“What Would My Inner Crone Do?”
Ask yourself that same question. See what she tells you.
One thing I can promise you she will never say? She will never say: “WORRY.
She will more likely tell you this: “ENDURE.”
So listen to her, and get on with it — get on with the powerful act of LIVING.
Hang in there, all you future awesome crones!
p.s. — and if you want to read more about Hanna and her fellow bad-ass Chernobyl crones, and see more photos, here is a really wonderful article:
Savor, endure, partake, worry not.
Heart true, review, sand to sinew,
Savor, endure, partake worry not.
– wise words that I have taken to heart, from my dear friend FLINT FANCY, a powerful witch, great musician, and badass mother of three.
Artwork by Rebecca Guay
Rebecca Guay’s Dreamlike Paintings Explore Sensuality
Artwork by Zhang Jingna
Zhang Jingna’s Photographs of Fairytale-esque Beauties
“Capricorn tradition and its origin is the Goat “Koza” means Goat and Capricorn the Goat has had a long and sacred tradition on earth within the rituals of our Ancestors. Gwiddon Harveston wrote that one of the typical traditional Koliada (Winter Solstice) songs is…
“It is not just us coming we are leading the Goat Where the Goat will go the grain stock will grow! Where she shakes her tail there will be an abundance of grain. Where goat stomps her hoof they’ll be harvest through the roof! Where goat shakes her horns there will be great huge stack of corn!”
Goat by its nature is full of abundance, she gives milk, she gives us cheeses and meat as well. Capricorn is represented as a Mountain Goat and the Sea Goat was seen in ancient Mesopotamian cultures as Ninurta, the God of Fertility and Agriculture. Unlike his brother Nergal (Mars), Ninurta was seen as firm and reliable, slow and steady in his movement through the sky which ultimately gave him the title… ‘Sun of the Night’ not a return of the light. This links it to the Winter Solstice of the Koliada Wheel of the Sun which burns at Night. Symbolically meaning we are darkened by the season of the night and when we let our light be our strength of our struggles, we learn personal responsibility for our true natures. Our earthly responsibilities in the Winter season can be harsh or difficult and sometimes the quality of how we learn to fight, retreat, bow or flight – is also contributed from our family’s “emotional traditions”.
Try to review how your family or the family you created acts upon emotions or lack of. This moon is the ‘cold moon or month of asking” in a more ancient tone of the Slavs, and for other cultures, about our root primal family relationships. Sagittarius last month was about freedom and learning, which in moon terms, is a big inner struggle. In this moon it is about our core responsibilities to our own healthy choices of how we react (grace) or respond (project), and generally can be a big struggle this moon in Capricorn. Remember moon work means working with oppositions, both the joy and the pain of something with acceptance. Accepting and welcoming struggle or fear in order to heal it, not just asking if to be ‘over and done with’ as soon as possible so no personal involvement or accountability can be contemplated and reviewed of our own nature and behavior. These actions are how we grow spiritually (emotionally) one moon at a time.
Also something else unique is happening – the Capricorn Moon enters at “00 Degree” with is our 3rd of 4 consecutive Moons. This is very rare for four new moons to sit at 00 degrees, and because of such synchronicity, the planets are starting a new beginning in their lunar internal cycle relationships. The planet Saturn, who starts off our Winter Season, as rulership, has nothing to do with lightness, the light or anything else, it is a somber energy, a cold wintry landscape of snow and barrenness, a time of contemplation, quiet and retreat.
These are heavy players of shifting the internal emotional energy, the dreamer’s veils and soul realities of our karmic past lives and its coming relationship.”
– Lunar Dreamology by Phoenix
Here are some links to more Solstice reading, for your delight:
My writings from Winter Solstices of yore: