(In these days between Solstice and Epiphany, between Christmas and Three Kings’ Day, I mine my dreams and experiences for images and words that I will use to fashion into the word or phrase or idea that I will carry as my guiding concept into the New Year. I call this process “making my dream bundle.” So far, it’s only words on a page, but perhaps today, I will write the words and find symbols so I can carry it around with me for now.)
As I wait and watch for the words and images that I want to carry into the coming year, I have stumbled back into a word cluster that has always fascinated me. Gnosis, a word rooted in ancient languages, means knowledge–particularly spiritual and mystical understanding. Deep awareness. Stand a pillar next to that, a gnomon, and you can tell the time, a gnomon being the part of the sundial that casts the shadow, or any pillar or column that allows you to interpret the time by the shadow it casts. The gnomon is the indicator, the perceiver.
Now add another of my favorite words: gnome, a word coined by the philosopher/physician/alchemist Parcelsus in the early 1500s, meaning “earth-dweller,” to refer to the archetypal being of earth. Whimsical, perhaps, and also powerful, as archetypes so often are. It also has a homophonal cognate relationship to gnosis, and some writers assume that Paracelsus saw the earth-dwellers as keepers of deep knowledge as well.
I’ll tuck Gnowledge and Gnosis, Gnomon and Gnome, into my dream bundle, along with the heightened dream images, the bald eagle that sat in the tree outside my window, the stump that wears a ruffly skirt of oyster mushrooms, even in the frigid days of winter. Mycelium, the secret network, the fungal source of the mushrooms that are simply the above-ground visible flowers of the mycelial web. Web, network–put them into the dream bundle.
Maybe I’ll slip gnu in there, too, just for whimsy’s sake.
I should have known that the book I am reading with my Themes in Lit class (The Zookeeper’s Wife) would invade my dreams. In last night’s dream, I am running from the Gestapo, trying desperately to keep hidden. A friend hides me in her massive house. I hide in the attic. I hide in tiny rooms. Finally, as they’re closing in, I slip into the pool, and hide beneath a raft. The Gestapo give up and go away.
As I was running from room to room, listening for their footsteps, and finding claustrophobic little hiding places, I kept thinking about how I was endangering the lives of all of the people in the house, knowing that if I were to be caught, everyone in the house would be shot on the spot.
Because it’s such a direct correlation to my reading, I wonder if it belongs in the dream bundle, but it’s really become part of my inner life in the past month, this story of people who chose the dangerous path of saving people’s lives at the risk of their own. Thousands of Poles in WWII risked their lives to create a vast network that created false documents, hid Jewish people and resistance fighters, and sent them to safe places in the countryside or out of the country. I think this belongs in the dream bundle. I already put Network into the mix. I’ll add resistance, and risk, and doing good because it is the thing to do.
1. My brain and heart are beginning to settle. Yesterday’s quiet and rest, almost-boredom, was a necessary grounding. I received a set of wisdom cards yesterday that I am exploring. The archetypes are rich and meaningful , and a helpful tool for meditation. Settling.
2. This cat Sachs, who is lying next to me with his front paws on my right arm, purring, purring, and occasionally singing to the birds who come to the suet block on the balcony. Makes it hard to type, but he’s good companionship.
3. Chocolate. And flaming figgy pudding. And grapefruit.
4. Zoom. It’s not a hug, nor is it the long, slow, hanging out with beloveds. But it will do in a pinch.
5. Sunshine and snow.
May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Beauty!
Joyful Kwanzaa to my friends who are celebrating the first fruits: Today is Umoja, or Unity. With you, I will reflect on ways in which we can bring unity in divided situations in the coming year.
“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” —Mary Oliver
“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.” ―Susan Sontag
“People who own the world outright for profit will have to be stopped; by influence, by power, by us.” —Wendell Berry
“Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.” —Mary Oliver
“When you understand interconnectedness, it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying.”
—Robert A. F. Thurman
“It’s quiet now. So quiet that can almost hear other people’s dreams.” ―Gayle Forman
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” ―Thich Nhat Hanh
“There is still a window of time. Nature can win If we give her a chance.”
—Dr. Jane Goodall
“By virtue of the Creation and, still more, of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see. On the contrary, everything is sacred.” —Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“I am as conscious as anyone of the gravity of the present situation for [hu]mankind. . . . And yet some instinct, developed in contact with life’s long past, tells me that salvation for us lies in the direction of the very danger the so terrifies us. . . . We are like travelers caught up in a current, trying to make our way back: an impossible and a fatal course. Salvation for us lies ahead, beyond the rapids. We must not turn back—we need a strong hand on the tiller, and a good compass.” —Pierre Teilhard de Chardin