Black Ice – Renewal?

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Last night She came –

I heard her call

my name.

She broke through

sea green waters,

white capped waves,

blocks of black ice.

My body hummed her song.

And yet I mused..

Who was She,

this ancient denizen

of the Deep?

 

Whale songs so complex –

so poorly understood

lead me down

Down

Down

Down

to the bottom

of the sea…

 

To learn how to Breathe ?

To dive into unknown depths?

To stand unbearable pressure?

To re –surface unharmed?

To breathe sweet water in too thin air?

To keep on advocating for Earth?

To hear to the Heartbeat

of Creation Sounding?

 

These are questions

I pose to Whale

in her bountiful Soul Skin –

velvety smooth

and firm.

 

In Indigenous story

an old woman

stands at the edge

of tidal waters –

patiently,

watches for whales

to surface –

walks into the sea

when she hears them calling.

 

A Star

shines in the East.

The Great Bear

points true North.

Perhaps

Whale comes to me

from the ocean

to guide my aging body home.

 

Working notes…

 

The Little Bear Moon is waxing according to some Northern Indigenous mythology… This is the month Black Bears give birth to their cubs. Wide awake and alert, these wild mothers care deeply for their young while staying snug in winter caves or dens dug under piles of stone or tree roots. The winter stars are bright and the Great Bear circumnavigates the sky each night.

 

When I dreamed of a great whale rising out of the sea. –“Someone” who was “familiar” to me – I was surprised – although my love of whales stretches to childhood when I first saw the Great Blue Whale’s skeleton in New York’s Museum of Natural History. On Monhegan Island, as a “fishermans’s wife,” I longed to touch the skin of these mammoths that often approached our boat while it was idling. Sometimes they lay just under the surface right next to the boat, as if they knew we were a safe harbor. It never occurred to me then that the whales might have come with a message for me.  Later that fire was re –kindled in the 70’s by Judy Collins’ whale songs. In the nineties I dreamed that the sea pulled away and I was walking on the bottom of the ocean searching for a golden dolphin ring. More recently, my fascination with Helen Hye-Sook Hwang’s scholarly research on whales, and my friend Lise’s profound life changing experience with these mammals has brought them back into the center of my awareness.

 

There is something compelling about dreaming of a whale surfacing from the deep while living in a drought driven high desert.

 

And yet whatever this Presence signifies for me personally is overshadowed by the collective need on behalf of all humans to start listening to the songs that all of Nature is singing or screaming before the Great Silence descends upon us stilling each song and cry forever.

 

The age of the Anthropocene is upon us, that is, an age that is totally shaped by humans. Without immediate intervention to stop this man made holocaust we will soon be the only surviving species left on Earth. According to the WWF Global Wildlife’s 2018 report the Earth’s wildlife population has dropped by 60 percent since 1970.

 

Some species have become ‘functionally extinct’, meaning that although at present the species is still extant, there are not enough individuals left to save the species from its eventual demise. Monarch butterflies are a good example – their populations have dropped by 90 percent in the last 20 years.

 

Unimaginable loneliness is coming our way.

 

We can start by dramatically lowering carbon emissions to help preserve the non-human species that still have a chance to survive.

 

We can plant millions of carbon sequestering trees…

 

We can protest our continued use of plastics.

 

Just to give the reader a few ideas…

 

Think about it. It is through our love of, and for Nature that most humans experience a sense of “renewal.”

 

Where will you go when the Silence of Nature becomes deafening?

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Remembering What’s Broken

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I kneel before

my wood – stove

kindling fire

in sapphire blue,

flaming orange gratitude

rising unbidden.

Bare limbs etch stories

against curved canvas

empty space – sky or dome

as Venus fades

and the day begins…

 

A golden dawn

awakened the Ravens.

Fluffed feathery balls

perched on frost slipped

trees whose crystals

shivered in a landscape

tipped in white gold –

each twig on fire

from the rising sun.

Swooping down for

cracked corn, coal black

Messengers quork

and hop as small

birds retreat.

 

 

January’s fur coat

is white.

My brother is dead.

I think of polar bears.

Blue ice

cracks under frightened claws –

Roots starved for water.

Dying slices my

joy in two

even as evening

grosbeaks

come to feed

and sea smoke

rises from the river.

 

 

Working notes:

 

January in New Mexico is like a dream when snow covers the ground twisting cactus into fantastic shapes and coating wheat colored grasses in silver. The snow cover helps me to forget that these same grasses never turned green. Crystal ground stars are so brilliant they hurt my eyes as I tramp around happily on snow-shoes under a warm afternoon sun and awaken to a frozen world. I am lulled into a peace I know is temporary because below four inches of snow the drought rages on shrinking the roots of each thirst driven plant and tree. There isn’t enough snow cover for Northern New Mexico’s mountains to create spring run off. The precious water that is needed for frogs to breed and corn to grow is absent. Alpine glow brings down the night and the Great Bear rises in the North and still I pray for water…remember my dead, and the Great Dying to come.

Crow and the Pornographic Gaze

 

 

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The Old Art Masters indulging in their pornographic gaze….

 

Once she believed that

it was her fault

they came on to her,

that she owed them

something

They owned her?

Secretly the

girl was pleased

because any kind of attention

was better than none,

or being so “different” –

stitched into an Indian skin.

 

She was a pretty shell,

an abandoned spiral

worn down by waves –

assaulted from within

by the pornographic gaze.

How she hated being young.

 

Walking down the streets

of New York

They leered at her from rooftops –

Whistling and yelling,

“Here comes the Madonna…”

She tried to make herself invisible.

How she hated being young.

 

When she sewed on her woman coat

she discarded tight jeens,

began to weave her hair in braids,

became a scholar and writer,

turned to the animals

and plants that loved her

to find acceptance and trust.

 

Unconditional love

assuaged the isolation

the void in psyche and body

where once no one breathed.

How could she have known

that Nature would save her?

 

Learning self respect

is a life-time process.

As an elder,

she has broken

the spell –

toppled the edifice of

the

pornographic gaze.

 

She knows its

an ‘old boy’ problem –

a result of male privilege

bullying, a need to objectify,

chop women

into parts

behind closed doors.

 

Dirty old men

who stare at standing nipples,

hidden beneath a feathery cloak

leave only night chills

and a hoarse croak.

 

Revolted, she discards them,

and picks the bones clean.

She has the power

to render her tormentors

Invisible,

Inadequate, and knows it.

 

She leans

towards males

who are emotional adults,

men who are accountable,

men capable of honest relationship,

men whose deep humility

has rendered them human.

 

Their friendship,

respect for her integrity,

ideas, honesty, and empathy,

are the lenses through

which she has learned to see herself.

 

She is healing from sexual assault.

 

She is a tree with a star at her center.

 

By living a self directed life,

She has become the partner

she once longed for –

a birdwoman with tree roots

sunk deep in sweet Earth.

Be – Friending Our Dragons

( Above: work by Artist Armando Adrian – Lopez  http://www.armandolopez.com)

 

“We are an overflowing river.
We are a hurricane.
We are an earthquake.
We are a volcano, a tsunami, a forest fire…”

 

These words written by Judith Shaw speak to the merging of woman’s anger with Earth’s natural disasters, suggesting to me that women use “natural” violence in order to create change.

 

Violence, not the values of compassion and cooperation.

 

Violence and power over are the primary tools that Patriarchy uses to control women and the Earth.

 

Engaging in more violence will not solve the problems we face.

 

So many women including me are struggling like never before to survive on the edge of a culture that continues to sanction the vicious ongoing rape of both women and the Earth.

 

I use the death of trees as a primary example of the latter. By logging trees by the billions or killing them in “controlled burns” we are literally destroying human and non – human species. Without trees/plants we lose the oxygen we need to breathe.

 

We need “woman – centered” women to say NO!!! WE WON’T TOLERATE LIVING IN A DEATH DESTROYING CULTURE PREDICATED ON RAPE OF WOMEN AND THE EARTH.

 

We need women who are willing support other women – Women who refuse to remain neutral – Women who don’t wait until their mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, granddaughters are assaulted to take a stand with other women – Women who refuse to stand behind their men when those men continue to support the soul destroying culture of Patriarchy with their attitudes (males or male identified women – the latter are often “Father’s Daughters” in Jungian parlance) – Women who refuse to support a Patriarchal system that is destroying us all.

 

Women centered women can change the trajectory we are on if we can unite in spite of differences… not through violence but through sheer numbers, using cooperation and compassion as our weapons. Women are potentially a powerful force to be reckoned with, making up more than half of the population, and yet in the last presidential election 52 percent of white women voted to elect a crazed misogynist…

 

This morning I read a comment about Jung’s work that addressed an issue that is critical to women reclaiming their authentic power. To paraphrase: In depth psychology riding the dragon is still interpreted as the task of conquering and subduing the archaic instincts of the reptilian brain.

 

As a former Jungian analyst who left her practice when she realized that this psychological approach helped keep women powerless and enthralled to Patriarchy through control and subjugation of woman’s instincts, I would argue that women desperately need to develop a loving relationship with their instinctual “dragons” – anger, fear, outrage – because these instincts protect us, and help us to create change by funneling our energy outward in creative ways.

 

To illustrate my point I want to digress into personal story.

 

The day after Kavannaugh was confirmed I found myself paralyzed with hopelessness. As a sexual assault survivor I was so depressed that the only reason I got out of bed was because a very gifted Mexican/Indian artist, Armando Adrian Lopez was part of an artist’s tour that was occurring that weekend, and I knew I needed to go visit him.

 

Armando’s work depicts women in a mythical context, one replete with mystical and (usually) benign images of the goddess. After being around Armando and his work for one afternoon I felt some sense of comfort remarking to him that “today of all days I really needed to be here.”

 

I returned the next afternoon and asked Armando if I could take a couple of pictures of his work. Later when I was reviewing the images I was particularly struck by one of a woman with a dragon at her side, holding a Tree of Life with eyes embedded in her leaves.

 

During the next PTSD/depression driven month I looked at that image again and again, plumbing its depth for a new personal message, eventually coming to the conclusion that I needed to court my own dragons in a more loving way. It is a testament to the trauma that I experienced over Kavanaugh’s appointment that I am only now starting to understand what happened to me.

 

Befriending our dragons speaks to the need to fall in love with our dark sides and allow them to lead us into new ways of thinking and being in the world. The dragons of anger, grief, and outrage have helped me clarify my new position with respect to woman/Earth hatred.

 

Because I have been an advocate for women for so many years, I used to believe that it was critical to be inclusive and include all women in my advocacy regardless of their ability to be present for other women in distress. But some women ‘s support of Kavanaugh (boys will be boys mentality) or their neutral reactions to this man’s appointment to the Supreme Court, a confirmation that sanctions rape once again while dismissing women’s cries of outrage and grief, has created a monumental split in my thinking and feeling. To listen to women who seem to think that rape not a crime against all women stuns and horrifies me. To listen to women who attempt to “compromise” on the subject of rape repels me.

 

For the last few weeks I have been swimming in the sea of confusion and repressed anger. How can I continue to support indifferent women? I struggled with this question just as I struggled to contain my feelings of being betrayed by these same women.

 

Finally, I emerged on the other side with clarity and a new perspective. Today, I can say that I am no longer willing to support women’s deliberate or tacit support of rape through rational thinking or “neutrality.” When women continue to make cases for the one man who was sexually abused, or verbally attacked by a grieving woman, or the woman who has to stand behind her man because she is too emotionally needy to stand alone I say NO! NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

 

Rape of Women and the Earth are egregious criminal acts and the two are intimately connected.

 

I have made a difficult and painful choice to separate emotionally from those women while working towards developing more compassionate attitude towards them – a new “both and” perspective. I can do this easily when I remind myself that I too am a Daughter of Patriarchy and once exhibited many of the same behaviors…

 

After a month of crushing depression I am courting the red dragon of rage with awareness, embracing her, thanking her for helping me see that I must choose her wisely. S/he can help me survive atrocities by refusing to allow me to collude with those who would betray me, other women, the Earth.

 

I stand with woman – centered women without apology – those women who are in the position to shift death into life. I appeal to all women and men who love women to join us.

 

As if to concretize my thoughts in the material world this morning I discovered my own “dragon” in the form of one of my very friendly house lizards (who live around the outside walls of the house) scurrying across the living room floor! This one is a little female. I think she may want to spend the winter with us. I welcomed her with joy reveling in the synchronicity even as I, oh so reluctantly, released her outside on the garden wall, fearing some unintended mishap with the dogs if she stayed… If she returns a second time I will assume she knows more than I do about what’s good for her and will fashion a terrarium for her to sleep in safety for the winter…

 

In closing, anger and rage are powerful gut (reptilian/serpentine/ dragon-like) emotions that motivate us in potentially creative ways.

 

I choose to embrace my dragon, use the Tree of Life as my staff and guide, keep my eyes wide open.

 

I will continue to protest rape as a crime against all women, advocate for those who are woman centered, choose compassion as a bridge to others, and continue to cry out on the Earth’s behalf.

 

With my new perspective and awareness, I can feel/experience my red dragon as lover and allow her/him to guide me as I re- align myself with Life.

 

Regardless of outcome.

 

 

Afterthought:

 

After writing this narrative I asked myself how I had gotten so stuck in the first place. The answer came immediately. I had fallen into the Patriarchal Pit where anger and rage are unacceptable emotions to express, especially if you are a woman.

How are we unconsciously controlled by Patriarchy? By shame, of course. Because women are denigrated for having these “negative” emotions it’s not surprising that we fear to express them. And we must in order to become effective agents of change in our own lives or those of others.

As I see it now, in my traumatized state I fell into an old pattern of thinking – one with the destructive values of Patriarchy at its core. Today I embrace that daughter with heartfelt compassion reminding her that her conditioning does not this woman make!

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(Photo credit: Iren Schio)

Author reclaiming her power on the mountain

Fault – Lines

 

Earth cracks in mud

expose unwelcome truths,

the takeover of

women’s minds

by the need for power,

driven by hunger to be loved –

even by unworthy men.

 

Grief for Our Own

sinks beneath the waves

erupts as indifference,

competition,

too much sweetness,

meanness,

the need for control.

Not seeing

the Plight of Woman

as a way of life

becomes the ultimate defense

against abandonment

by the other

within ourselves.

 

It is only by combing

the ground for cracks,

that we gain access

to the truth.

 

Love for Other Women

is the force we need

to shift Death into Life.

Within the raging Fire

of Woman’s Grief lies

Authentic Hope.

And Earth Wisdom

is erupting from her

Fault -lines.

 

Will We Listen?

 

 

Working notes:

 

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours examining cracks in a river – bed to understand the story the bear tracks were telling. When I got home I felt renewed. Some important message had erupted out of the Earth ( via the Great Bear Mother) validating my personal perspective in a way that is beyond my present understanding.

 

“We are living in very dark times” one woman wrote to me today. So many women (including myself) continue to struggle with our collective women’s grief over the continued cross – cultural sanctioning of rape. This time we cannot let it go. We feel that an authentic shift is impossible unless we begin to support women in ways that have been lost to us for millennia…I think the cracked Earth was communicating this message to me yesterday.

The Compost Lizard

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(  Top picture is one taken of one of the house lizards a while back – 2nd picture is one of the house lizards sunning himself today (his mate disappears every time I go to take a picture but she’s out too), and the 3rd picture is the little compost lizard in his lair taken at noon. All are sunning themselves as I write!)

 

There is a wily sagebrush lizard

peeking out of star dry flowers

sunning himself on

brittle decaying leaves.

All but two of his

kind have disappeared

since the night freeze settled

kindly,

blackening few tender plants.

How brilliant that he

should choose such a practical

abode, a circular container

warmed by an autumn sun,

full of rotting greenery!

Assured of food from insects

for a while yet,

his eyes are narrow slits when

he slumbers, dreaming his next meal.

Imagine

the variety of bugs

who still visit this

compost heap in

wild abandon,

buzzing madly

at high noon,

oblivious to Lizard’s

canny presence in their midst!

 

It is mid October (10/18) and the mountain peaks wear snowy hats. Here in the valley we have had more rain in the last ten days than we have had all year … the first flakes swirl. The dark eyed juncos have arrived. For the last few days I have been noticing the absence of my house lizards who seem to have vanished with the heat. There are only two left out of the original 6 and these two hide behind the slat closest to the door, slipping out to sunbathe when the sun warms my adobe walls.

 

When I first met the “compost lizard” I knew he wasn’t one that lived here all summer. Earlier in the season I had a large compost lizard that moved to the south wall as it got cooler. So where did the small compost lizard come from, clever little fellow? A compost heap is a lizard heaven of sorts with all the leftovers watered routinely to keep the worms happy, and with heat trapped in a round plastic cylinder the wind is kept at bay. At noontime I go out to visit him noting his blue belly hoping that he will stay around a bit longer, perhaps fattening himself up for an intermittent winter sleep. I would like to think that he will find a safe burrow in this mountain of debris, and that we shall meet again in spring.

 

I recently read that adolescent lizards are more active in the fall, this might account for the sudden appearance of the compost lizard. I also learned that occasionally lizards will “hibernate” together… I wonder if this might be true for my two house lizards who are currently hunkered down behind the slats and the house… I will be watching to see how long they stay there.

 

Lizards are not active during winter; they enter a state of dormancy called brumation which is not the same as hibernation. With both, metabolic processes slow down but with brumation the lizards alternate dormancy with activity. They need to drink water to avoid dehydration. Lizards build up a high level of glycogen (sugar) that can be used for muscle activity. They also need less oxygen to breathe and this is a good thing because some dig holes in mud where oxygen levels are lower. Other lizards will hide underground in old burrows, in a hole in a tree or under leaves. I love knowing that my lizards will still be around even if I don’t see them!

Beloved

 

My daily prayer begins with kisses.

Rough wet tongues scrape soft skin.

My dove coos three times

coaxing up the sun.

Wiggling tails and feathered

furs fan wandering souls

waving them home.

My three most intimate companions

curled up beside me,

stretched across my feet,

soaring across the room,

remind me that the flow of Gratitude

is the River of my Life,

that Joy attracts,

Love like no other…

 

Working Notes:

I almost never write about my dearest companions because they are so deeply woven into my soul body – the warp and weft of Nature that separation does not exist. Loneliness cannot enter this sacred space unless one of us is distressed or missing…