Lammas – August 1, 2006
When I was on her massage table today, Dana Zia asked if I could tell her of my vision for this place. I mumbled something incoherent and half-assed, not being in a word sort of place. Her hands worked miracles on my belly and I was deep into that sweet slough. But tonight as I lie still buzzing with the chocolate cookies I gobbled before dinner, I saw glimmers of it more clearly. So I strive now to get some of it down. A beginning.
A campfire or a hearth, I said, is central.
Around it I see dancing. The Bushman of the Kalahari call for healing shaking dances often – sometime several times a week. . They gather round – a community of souls – and dance. They dance to connect with the ancestors. They connect with the ancestors in order to heal themselves. In their tribes, they have special people who have trained to do this. I see us all thus empowered. Each of us is able at different times to reach inside and find the stance. The dance. We feel the whirl of connection with each other, with our own spirit and that of the tribe.
Around it I see fire walking. That act of power, among other such acts, which shows us that the universe is so much more than our culture has allowed it to be in the last centuries. Squashed, we forgot our ability to change the “laws” of nature. Now we know that in that special state of mind we do not get burned. We blow our minds all over again each time. We reinforce our strength with every act of courage. We learned this from shamans the world over.
Around it I see stories of power told. Old legends passed down from the ancestors of how the world was formed and how it used to be. We tell of conversations with those who have passed over. We convey messages as we hear them from the spirits of the trees and animals. We tell tales of the adventures we experience together or endure alone. Our traumas and our triumphs. Important dreams from the night before. Our visions of the future. All these are told or acted out or danced, reinforcing our unique individual gifts. We welcome strangers with tales to tell of other places and other customs.
Teaching our children and each other of what once was and what is possible, we kindle the future.
Around it I hear singing and drums and toning and chanting and wailing. Voices rise on high and moan softly. Instruments sob and laugh with all the ecstasies and sorrows of our lives.
Around it in a circle we share news and make decisions about the days to come – when to plant and when to reap. When to mourn and when to heal. When to reprimand and when to teach. When to accept and when to be wary. When to forage and when to send out forays to other climes for supplies and new blood and to spread our own stories. We practice this constantly, learning from our mistakes and growing in our wisdom to share both our traumas and our triumphs. We are humble and astute like the sages of every age and clime.
We only speak the truth, therefore we dare to connect to each other in our minds – sharing visions and worries and joys and desires.
I also see celebrations and rituals. We notice the seasons and find the places and times that suit the moment. We haul out the costume trunks and face paints, the banners and the draping clothes. We notice where the north, south, east and west are and we honor the water, earth, air, air and fire. We call in what we need. The Huichol know this as do the Hopi and the Andeans and the sea people of the Indian Ocean.
I see parades with bands that play “When the Saints Come Marchin’ In “ after someone dies, prancing down the central avenue to the sea. Trumpets and trombones, drums of all shapes and sizes. With flaming torches and stilts and puppets we call out the newyear and the celebrate the summer sun. With upturned faces and wild dance we honor the first of the rains. They know this in New Orleans and Tibet and the Balkans.
We grow our food and glean it from the wild. We accept the fruits of the garden and the hive. With permission and honor we accept the gifts of the lives of our plant and animal friends – carrot and chicken, salmon and huckleberry.
We cook what pleases us knowing that it will give us each what we need in that moment. We eat with joyous abandon when we have plenty. We enjoy great feasts of abundance at the harvest times. We share and conserve when the season is lean, remembering the cleansing power of a fast. Often we eat together in a circle with food cooked by a few for many. Sometimes we eat alone or in pairs savoring small bites and little picnics. We bless our food and it blesses us.
We have flowers everywhere and forests and meadows and beaches to roam. We have wild places that are sacred and rarely touched, left for the creatures who need them. We know where to find the herbs and minerals that we need, and how to prepare and use them. We learn this slowly over time and with the help of the plant and animal beings themselves who speak to us. We hear it in the winds and tides and from our human elders.
Our living and meeting places are simple and elegant. We carve and hone and sculpt the details, inside and out. We have places to share with each other and places to be private. Places of deep beauty for all.
Most of us live near enough to others to connect on a daily basis on foot or via small wheeled vehicles, sometimes pedaled, sometimes using the precious fuel we make. Those who live farther away, connect through their minds – sharing the vistas they are exploring, the news they are gathering.
We honor each other’s bodies. Our sizes and shapes and ages and differences draw us to each other in love and in play and in healing. Thus we find and grow spirit in each other, healing the owies buried in our tissue.
We conceive and nurture our children in love. There is nothing more important than ensuring that their learning is full of joy, imagination, and connection with the earth and all its creatures. Thus we help each of us grow as the beings we came here to be.
We know the value of our old ones – those nearest the time of passing. We listen to what they have learned over their many years. They are part of our councils and our decision making. We honor their slower pace and their jobs of connection with the young and the tellers of our history.
We honor death as well as life and know the seasons of each. We know that death must come to all of us in our time, whether young or old; human, animal or plant, and that it means compost for new life.
We do not throw anything “away.“ Indeed, we have forgotten the concept of “waste.” We know the value of each little part of all that we use and reuse. We have depots and networks to share what we no longer need ourselves and when something is truly at the end of its obvious work, we honor and celebrate its timely end.
We apprentice with the skilled ones of all ages. The craftspeople, the healers, the teachers among us. We know that each of us has many facets. We paint and sculpt and write, telling our tales in those ways too. We honor all the different ways of thinking and expressing our truth.
We do not need rules or hierarchies. We improvise and borrow from all that we have learned from our exposure to many cultures. We move slowly enough to listen to our bodies and those who can see what we cannot. We trust that the right thing is happening even if it does not feel like it in the moment.
We know Spirit intimately. In all that we do we are in touch. We do not need to be afraid.
Thank you, Grandmother Spider for your weaving. Thank you Grandfather Herb for your seeds.