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Inquisition
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

We require that you speak into your
misalignment with our doctrine.
Also, do you float when ducked, or drown?
Do you truck with Satan?
Or run naked in the moonlight?
Do you own a speckled hen?

Please tell us which of the following are true:
You commune with fairies.
You read people’s fortunes in the cards.
You talk to trees.
You have a one-eyed cat named Old Scratch.

Tell us about that wart on your chin.
Do you have a roving eye?
Do you claim to sweep the cobwebs
from the sky upon your broom?
Do you own a cauldron?

Your neighbor says you threatened him,
you killed his cow and fouled his well.
He says you are a danger to his children.

How combustible are you?
For instance,
how long will it take, we wonder,
for your life to go up in flames?

Will you renounce the path of inner knowledge?
Denounce your friends,
your unmentionable activities?
Will you use our chosen names for God?

Sign this confession,
this creed, this code,
this doctrine of belief.
Explain your heresies
and offer us an actionable plan
for self-correction.

This is an ambush.
The story is rigged.
We’ve seen you in our visions
when we kneel to pray,
flying free and far from here,
no longer troubling our status quo.

Again, we ask:
When we duck you,
will you float or drown?


What I Want to Tell the Bullies
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

You’ve made your god too small,
clothed him in your own cast-off suits,
put him in a little box
and now you claim to worship
the poor little thing.

But the one whose name you wear
had a thing or two to say
about your kind of sanctimony:
Brood of vipers.
White-washed sepulchres,
the hypocritical teeth of your Sunday smiles
hiding the mouldering flesh of your lies,
and the dust and dry bones of a faith
that should be lush and living,
but which you killed so you
could set yourself up as god-kings.

What you worship
is simply a reflection
of your own self-righteousness
and power.

You’ve taken the word of Love
and turned it into a purity prison,
a death cult, an excuse
for your own violence and greed.

Jesus never burned a witch,
refused aid to the ailing,
or excommunicated someone
for loving who they loved.

The Holy One will not be caged.
The god-bird you thought
you’d caught flies free,
inviting all who Love to follow.

You did not cage or break me.
I followed the Bird.


Gratitude List:

  • Cool weather
  • Tomorrow begins in-service for my new job!
  • All my beloveds
  • Hidden patterns
  • The Holy realm of the senses

May we walk in Beauty!


“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.” —Salman Rushdie
*****
“I used to say, ‘There is a God-shaped hole in me.’ For a long time I stressed the absence, the hole. Now I find it is the shape which has become more important.” —Salman Rushdie
*****
“Run my dear,
From anything
That may not strengthen
Your precious budding wings.”
—Hafez
*****
“The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.” —Hildegard of Bingen
*****
“Dare to declare who you are. It is not far from the shores of silence to the boundaries of speech. The path is not long, but the way is deep. You must not only walk there, you must be prepared to leap.” —St. Hildegard of Bingen
*****
“The power of a bold idea uttered publicly in defiance of dominant opinion cannot be easily measured. Those special people who speak out in such a way as to shake up not only the self-assurance of their enemies, but the complacency of their friends, are precious catalysts for change.” —Howard Zinn
*****
“Dominance. Control. These things the unjust seek most of all. And so it is the duty of the just to defy dominance and to challenge control.” —Robert Fanney
*****
“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” —Alice Walker
*****
“I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.” —Alice Walker
*****
“I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way…I can’t apologize for that, nor can I change it, nor do I want to… We will never have to be other than who we are in order to be successful…We realize that we are as ourselves unlimited and our experiences valid. It is for the rest of the world to recognize this, if they choose.” —Alice Walker

Fifty-Five

Today is my birthday. I’ve been here 55 years now (<–link),
beginning at a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.
To Shirati, Tanzania, when I was ten days old, where I met my father for the first time.
To York PA, back to Shirati, to Philippi WV, to Ephrata PA, and then to the messy all-over-the-placeness of young adulthood, and now back in York County, PA, for 20 years.

Here are some 55 Facts and Notes:
The number given to asteroid Pandora is #55. I am Pandora’s progeny–I can never leave a box unopened.

The number 55 is apparently a lucky number for the astrological sign of Leo. Roar!

In Mathematics:

  • 55 is the product of the smallest sexy prime pair (although I do not know what this means, I too am small, and sexy, and in my prime.)
  • 55 is the largest triangular number in the Fibonacci sequence (again, I know not what this means, but I am large, and I like triangles.)

The element Caesium has the number 55 on the periodic table. According to Wikipedia, Caesium is “a soft, silvery-golden alkali metal with a melting point of 28.5 °C (83.3 °F), which makes it one of only five elemental metals that are liquid at or near room temperature.”

In Numerological terms, my soul number is 5 (add the digits in 8.10.1967, and keep adding digits together until you get a single digit), so 55 (five and five) feels like a good strong year for me. In the tarot, the fifth major arcanum card is The Hierophant, which symbolizes the passing on of knowledge and traditions—I like to think of that as the Teacher. So I am going to take that as my personal charge for the coming year and double my efforts to be an effective and compassionate teacher.

The number 5 breaks out of the stable solidity of the 4, offering new opportunities for growth, but also the potential for conflict and instability. I go into this double five year with my life shaken and stirred (boy howdy!), ready to find my new balance, eager to grow and change and Become more me.


Gratitude List:
1. My father’s relative health. July was a difficult month for our family. I am reminded to treasure every moment with the people I love.
2. Walking with a good friend on woodsy trails this morning: Hackberry trees, smell of fox (pervasive in those woods), teasel, wild mugwort, wild hibiscus, the Little Conestoga Creek, and dogbane. Mostly: good, easy conversation and companionship.
3. Monarchs. I know they’re heading onto the Endangered Species List. Grateful to see so many here where we live.
4. Scent of fox is a reminder of the story of Foxwoman, told by Martin Shaw. Reminder to know myself, to know my wildness, to trust my dreamingself.
5. So many delicious birthday blessings! I feel delight and strength and hope, and such a connection with so many people whom I have known, both in person and online. So much love!
May we walk in Beauty!


Even
after
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,

“You owe me.”

Look
what happens
with a love like that —

It lights the whole
world.
—Hafiz


“The Seven of Pentacles”
by Marge Piercy

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the lady bugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.


“Life…is a wonder. It is a sky laden with clouds of contradictions.” —Naguib Mahfouz


“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” —Coco Chanel


“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.” —Teilhard de Chardin


“Soul of my soul … be water in this now-river.” —Rumi


“You are the Soul of the Soul of the Universe, and your name is Love.” —Rumi


“There is one masterpiece, the hexagonal cell, that touches perfection. No living creature, not even human, has achieved, in the centre of one’s sphere, what the bee has achieved on her own: and if intelligence from another world were to descend and ask of the earth the most perfect creation, I would offer the humble comb of honey.” —Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life Of The Bee, 1924


“It’s not only those who have succumbed to hate who have to change. We need to learn to love bigger, to bring them back.” —Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


“If it is bread that you seek, you will have bread. If it is the soul you seek, you will find the soul. If you understand this secret, you know you are that which you seek.” —Rumi


“In these cataclysmic times, living in what Michael Meade calls the ‘slow apocalypse,’ despair can be dangerously seductive. Our lives may feel inadequate to the terrible momentum of our times, but it is in those moments that we must remember the difference between despair and grief.

“While despair traps us in the bog of despondency, grief carries us into life. Grief calls us into a deeper engagement with those things that we love. And even as we are losing them, grief wants to exalt their beauty.

“If we let grief move us into expression, it will sing the blood into our songs, colour the vividness into our paintings, and slip the poetry between our words.

“Rumi says, “All medicine wants is pain to cure.” And so we must cry out in our weakness, our ineptitude, our beautiful inadequacy and make of it an invitation that medicine might reach through and towards us.” —Toko-pa Turner

Season of the Witch

I read a lovely reflection this morning by someone who said the root word of crone is crown, the root of hag is hagio (wisdom), and the root of witch is wit.

I’m not sure where this author did her etymological research, but a cursory etymological study indicates these to be folk cognates rather than actual word lineages. I like folk cognates, a la Mary Daly. Folk cognates add layers of richness to the living nature of a word. Folk cognates help to deepen our personal internal associations with words. As I enter my own cronetime, I will go crowned by my white hair rather than as an old ewe fit only for carrion (the actual root, which gives us an historical glimpse into attitudes towards old women at the time the word began to be used to denote older women). Though even carrion is a holy mystery, giving life and well-being to the next generation, so I do carry that original etymology in the layers.

I also like some of the actual etymologies of the other two. Witch comes from the Old English “wicce” and “wicca,” sometimes defined as crooked. It seems to be associated with the Old English “wigle,” a term for divination. And now I want to go searching to see if witch and wiggle are associated at the root. Combining actual and folk etymologies, a witch is a crooked, witty, dancing diviner. Shimmy on, friends!

My favorite actual etymology in this group is hag, which comes from the Dutch and German words for witch: “heks” and “Hexe.” These, in turn, are related to the roots of the word hedge, which is the ancient boundary between the wilds and civilization. Midwives and healers would cross hedges into the wildlands to find herbs and remedies. Witches and hags straddle the space between the world of civilization and the world of the wild, threatening the patriarchal status quo and the rush to civilized progress (the same rush which is driving us toward planetary destruction). Witches and hags are marginal, fringe-workers, edgy. And, adding in the folk cognate with hagio, they’re wise women.

One more, since autocorrect keeps offering me “weird” when I type “word.” Weird, which we define as strange, and use to Other people, comes from the OE “wyrd” which means destiny. Shakespeare called his Macbeth witches “weird sisters,” suggesting that they were bound up in the fatalism of the play. Taking the folk etymology that my autocorrect keeps offering me, we can say that language, perhaps, is destiny, that words are weirds, that words have import and power (magical perhaps) in the effects they have on listeners and readers, writers and speakers.

Not long ago, someone used one of these very words to shift my weird, in a deliberate attack. I was publicly called a witch, as an attempt to shame and harm me. In the end, the accusation cost me my job at a Christian institution.

I knew many of these word lineages when I was victimized by the cyberbully, so the word did not hurt me–it was the way the attack played out. The word was used to harm, as these words and so many others are intended.

Perhaps I need to just as publicly claim the word for myself.
I’ll straddle that hedge between civilization and wildness.
I’ll wiggle my crooked dance, and keep an eye on the future.
I’ll claim my wit and my weird.
I’ll be crowned, and witty. Wise and holy.
I’ll even offer my croneself as nourishment for the coming generations.

You may call me a witch, a hag, a crone. Those words will not hurt me.

Strength

Strength, from The Brightwing Tarot Deck, by me and AI.

If you’re just joining me in these recent posts, I am taking a trip through the Fool’s Quest, the soulpath laid out in the stages of the Major Arcana of the tarot cards. I have been using the tarot as a tool for deep inner understanding and spiritual growth and development since 1992, and I thought it was time to do a public exploration of some of the ways in which this tool has helped me to learn more about myself and my connection to others and to the Holy One.

So much of the work of The Fool in this journey through the major arcana of the tarot is related to deepening the understanding of the ego. Meet this mentor or wise person, humbly learn at their feet, and joyfully integrate this new learning into the ego, building and nurturing your identity as you go.

“To be strong does not mean to sprout muscles and flex. It means meeting one’s own numinosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild nature in one’s own way. It means to be able to learn, to be able to stand what we know. It means to stand and live.”
—Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Today’s step on the pathway is Strength. How does your ego integrate the concept of strength? The traditional card is an image of a woman closing the mouth of a lion, not with angry force, but with the power of her ego-engagement with the lion. Her strength does not brutalize or dominate the lion, but meets it head on, trusting that she is a match for the powerful creature in her presence. The Brightwing card shows a woman and a leopard contemplating a mountain, a meeting of daunting and powerful beings, all in balance and equal engagement with each other.

When strength gets muddled with force, our intention to be strong can get focused outward, harming others with our domination and power rather than finding Strength within. Often the people who dominate and force others to their will on the outside are people with very little inner strength, whose egos run roughshod over the lives of others.

What The Fool learns at this stage of the journey is to meet challenges with inner strength instead of outer force, to stand up for her own needs and desires without trampling the needs and desires of others. She becomes a safe space for herself, and for others. Her ego is so intact, so solid, that she does not need to do harm in order to command the situation.


Gratitude List:
1. The Truth-tellers
2. Chicory, day lily, Queen Anne’s lace, buttercup, summer flowers
3. Wise friends
4. Nurses
5. Summer
May we walk in Beauty!


“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” —Richard Rohr


Marc Chagall: “In life there is a single color, it is the color of love.”


“Each of us faces a time when the holy well within needs tending. When we’re no longer able to bestow blessings on others because we’ve overgiven, or when something precious has been taken from us, or life’s demands are too great on our fragile system. But when the moisture goes out of our lives, and we’re no longer able to see beauty or converse with magic, we must ask ourselves how we can replenish our well-ness.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer


“We never belonged to you. / You never found us. / It was always the other way round.” —Margaret Atwood


“Would you like to have an adventure now, or would you like your tea first?” —JM Barrie


“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” —Zora Neale Hurston


“. . .The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth…” —Carl Jung


“Listen. . .with the ear of your heart.” —The Rule of St. Benedict


“It’s always the beginning of the world.
Even if you don’t call yourself an artist, you have the potential to be a dynamic creator who is always hatching new plans, coming up with fresh ideas, and shifting your approach to everything you do as you adjust to life’s ceaseless invitation to change.
It’s to this part of you—the restless, inventive spirit—that I address the following: Unleash yourself! Don’t be satisfied with the world the way it is; don’t sit back passively and blankly complain about the dead weight of the mediocre status quo.
Instead, call on your curiosity and charisma and expressiveness and lust for life as you tinker with and rebuild everything you see so that it’s in greater harmony with the laws of love and more hospitable to your soul’s code.” —Rob Breszny

Moving Forward

The Chariot card from Brightwing Tarot

If you’re just joining me in these recent posts, I am taking a trip through the Fool’s Quest, the soulpath laid out in the stages of the Major Arcana of the Tarot cards. I have been using the tarot as a tool for deep inner understanding and spiritual growth and development since 1992, and I thought it was time to do a public exploration of some of the ways in which this tool has helped me to learn more about myself and my connection to others and to the Holy One.

Once, I was telling a wise woman about something that was hurting me, a situation of betrayal and injustice. She paused and gave me her wise questioning look and said, “What do you need from X in order for you to release your resentment?”

I was a little shook. Yes, it is my resentment, I thought, and it belongs to me. Why do I want to release it? It had become a defining element of my sense of who I was in the context of the conflict. I had put on my resentment like an article of clothing , almost like a fashion statement that expressed my sense of who I was. But: Of COURSE I wanted to release it! I knew that holding onto it would just keep me caught in the past, unable to truly move forward. The question itself led me to begin doing the work of releasing the resentment, of stepping forward.

This stepping stone in the Fool’s Quest has the Fool taking responsibility for their journey, and moving forward, consciously and with spiritual will. We cannot move forward if we are mired in the past. In the traditional card, a royal person (representing someone who is using consciousness and enlightenment to guide their movement) is driving a chariot pulled by sphinxes. Sphinxes, from ancient times, represent canny wisdom and knowledge, the ability to think around a problem to solve a riddle. The black and white likely refer to the polar tug to reach enlightenment through thinking and spiritual striving and embodiment. One pulls downward, and the other pulls upward, and this balanced motion is the key to the movement and change that The Chariot card requires.

Jewish mystical tradition uses the symbol of the Merkabah (called the chariot) to symbolize this balanced movement. The Star of David is a two-dimensional representation of this balance–one triangle pointing upward, the other downward. The Merkabah is this image in 3D: an upward-pointing pyramid interlocked with a downward-facing pyramid. The Merkabah is the chariot that the prophet Ezekiel saw in his visions, the Holy One’s chariot, pulled by angelic creatures.

My own card is a representation of the Merkabah, that holy space of conscious awareness, the balanced spiritual striving and the embodied awareness. I was unsatisfied with all the versions the AI gave me when I used the word chariot in a phrase, but when I used Merkabah, it suddenly began giving me mystical and movement-filled images.

For me, in the story of the wise woman and the question about releasing resentments, the conscious act of exploring that question started the chariot moving. The wise woman was the sphinx I needed, asking me a riddle that startled me into thinking in a different way. And today, perhaps I can again begin to release my hold on the past, so I can hang in the space between my embodied experience and my spiritual striving, and move toward a future which I envision.


Gratitude List:
1. Stepping back into Daily Art Practice.
2. That cardinal out there, shiny red beacon on a rainy day, and liquid notes falling through the air like raindrops.
3. Cool June days.
4. People who ask the right question at the right moment.
5. Moving forward. Getting unstuck.
May we move forward in Beauty!


“The wisdom is already within you. The gift of that wisdom was given to you many years ago when you were young. An awareness of the Spirit. A curiosity about the sacred. You were born with the light already in your soul. Over many years your insights into the holy have matured and developed. You have grown through experience to understand even more deeply the many layered reality in which you live. Now the vision of your inner self looks out onto an endless star lit sky. You have a deep wisdom on which to rely and learnings to come that will strengthen you even more.” —Steven Charleston


“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.
Perception is not reality.
What appear to be faults in others may actually be reflections of our own emotional afflictions.

Remember the way people treat us is their karma.
The way we react is our own.”
—Trulshik Rinpoch


“They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it’s not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.” ―Granny Weatherwax, Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites


‪”Nature is real and vital. Wealth is neither. How is it we grant imaginary dragons the power to breathe real fire?‬” —Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist


“Only you and I can help the sun rise each coming morning. If we don’t, it may drench itself out in sorrow. You special, miraculous, unrepeatable, fragile, fearful, tender, lost, sparkling ruby emerald jewel, rainbow splendor person. It’s up to you.” —Joan Baez


“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”
―Leymah Gbowee


“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” —Dr. Seuss


“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” —Nelson Mandela


“Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.” —Wess Stafford


“Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me.” —Fred Rogers


“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.” —Nelson Mandela


“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” —Frederick Douglass


“When you realize the Earth is so much more than simply your environment, you’ll be moved to protect her in the same way as you would yourself. This is the kind of awareness, the kind of awakening that we need, and the future of the planet depends on whether we’re able to cultivate this insight or not. The Earth and all species on Earth are in real danger. Yet if we can develop a deep relationship with the Earth, we’ll have enough love, strength and awakening in order to change our way of life.” —Thich Nhat Hanh


“I have said this before, and I will say it again, The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy.” —John Lewis

Anam Cara

Anam Cara card from Brightwing Tarot.

If you’re just joining me in these recent posts, I am taking a trip through the Fool’s Quest, the soulpath laid out in the stages of the Major Arcana of the Tarot cards. My use of the tarot as a tool for deep inner understanding and spiritual growth and development has recently caused some shifts in my life. What people do not understand, they often demonize, and my use of the tarot has caused people in my community to doubt my truth and goodness. Instead of giving in to the scandal and shaming, I have decided to publicly explore the rich terrain of this tool for inner wisdom that I have been studying since 1992.

The sixth card on the Fool’s Quest is the Anam Cara, traditionally known as The Lovers. While I am completely comfortable with the simple meaning of this card as a reminder to look to the balance of romance and sexuality in one’s life, I think this card is much more layered. We humans are complex and multi-faceted, and reducing the love balance in this card to sexuality and romance feels too simplistic.

The Irish poet (and former priest) John O’Donohue began using the term anam cara, or Soul Friend, to express the deep level of friendship that extends beyond the surface, that meets emotional needs, but also enriches and nurtures emotional and spiritual growth. Hopefully you have one or more of these people in your life, people who integrate you, make you feel more whole and complete, not because they fill a void within you, but because they believe in your capacity to be always more fully yourself. And people for whom you can reciprocate.

At this stage in the Quest, after the Fool has learned skills and mysteries and knowledge, you (for you and I are the Fool) draw to yourself the Anam Cara, the friend who can spur you to deeper understanding of yourself in the world, one who listens and engages and challenges you. Blessed are you if you have found such a person or community in your life. The Anam Cara, I think, is different than a loving teacher. That was our last card. This is someone who is on the journey with you, experiencing it with you. You teach each other, smooth each other’s sharp edges, share openly about your bitters and sweets. You love deeply and openly, reciprocating, sharing, mirroring.

This person may indeed be your lover, but might as likely be a friend or group of friends. How can you nurture these sorts of deep, give and take, committed relationships in your life?

Can you be your own Anam Cara? To some degree, I think that’s part of the point of this quest, to meet that deep inner self that gets hidden under all the masks and veils of everyday existence. Perhaps it’s only in truly meeting and knowing my own inner Anam Cara that I can be openly available to engage others at that deep level as well. And, as Aristotle pointed out, friendship is a mirror in which we see ourselves, so having strong, loving, soulful relationships helps us to see ourownselves more clearly and deeply, so the path outward–toward another–is in this case the path inward–toward deep inner knowing.


Gratitude List:
1. Soul Friends, mirrors, companions on the journey
2. Lunch with two former students yesterday. What marvelous humans! Their lasting friendship is inspiring. I’m so grateful they included me in their time together, so grateful our paths crossed so many years ago, and again today.
3. I signed the papers! It’s official. I’ll be teaching at The Janus School this fall as a Humanities teacher. I may be teaching some science and social studies (thank you, Waldorf School, for that experience), as well as language arts–using my background in reading and writing instruction. Classes are small. The philosophy feels like a good match for me. I love that this is a position that will both draw on my skills and offer me new challenges to learn and develop.
4. The travelers. So many of my online friends are traveling these days! Lots to various places in the UK, some to mainland Europe, others throughout the US. Because I can’t be traveling to those places at this point, I am delighted to be an armchair traveler, exploring the world through their eyes.
5. Faces in the Green. Do you ever find yourself idly gazing at a tree or a group of trees, and suddenly see the faces? I can’t often intentionally start looking for faces in the woods, but when I’m not thinking about it, I’ll suddenly see a face or series of faces, and when the breezes are blowing, like now, they seem to be talking. There’s a name for it, which I always forget, for noticing faces in objects and environments.
May we walk in Beauty!


“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” —Eckhart Tolle
*****
“We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own—indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. This will happen if we see the need to revive our sense of belonging to a larger family of life, with which we have shared our evolutionary process.” —Wangari Maathai


“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?” ―Eleanor Roosevelt


“Do you not see how everything that happens keeps on being a beginning?” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“Every soul innately yearns for stillness, for a space, a garden where we can till, sow, reap, and rest, and by doing so come to a deeper sense of self and our place in the universe. Silence is not an absence but a presence. Not an emptiness but repletion A filling up.” —Anne D. LeClaire


“To me, every hour of the day and night
is an unspeakably perfect miracle. ” —Walt Whitman


“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes.” —Etty Hillesum


“Am I killing time, or is it killing me?” —The Middle Brother Band

The Teacher

If you’re just joining me in these recent posts, I am taking a trip through the Fool’s Journey, the soulpath laid out in the stages of the Major Arcana of the Tarot cards. As I work on creating my own deck with the help of an online AI image generator, I am renaming some of the cards to unthread the gendered nature of the older titles, but holding the images and ideas I have learned in twenty years of studying the tarot carefully in my center while I consider their significance.

I have been struggling to meditate on this one because of my own recent pain. For so many years of my life, I have identified as a teacher, and since early April, I have doubted that path, considered other options as perfectly viable options for my future, and finally, returned to The Teacher as my primary vocational destiny. It came clear to me one morning, just after I celebrated the graduation of the senior class I was unable to finish teaching. Being among them, even after the grief and rage of this loss, reminded me of the thing that brings me most alive. And so, I said Yes to a small school that has offered me a position as a Humanities Teacher. I am feeling satisfied and grateful. I have not yet signed the paperwork, so I won’t give details just yet.

In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, this card is the Hierophant, a figure in the clothes of a bishop or pope, holding up a hand in blessing. The idea that comes with this card is the passing on of tradition. But it looks so patriarchal, I just struggle with it. As I worked with this card with friends, we came to see that this isn’t inherently about passing on the patriarchy, but about passing on knowledge and history, nurturing ideas and critical thinking. This is, to me, The Teacher.

I’ve spent so many years of my teaching life saying that I could probably be happy in any profession, that it’s not necessarily the profession that I love. But I realize that I have been fooling myself. Here’s another thing: One playful thing you can do in working with the tarot is to find your Soul Card. Take your birthday: Add the year to the month to the day. Mine is 1967+08+10=1985. Then add the digits together: 1+9+6+7=23. If it’s more than 22, add those together: 2+3=5. Your number, between 1 and 22, is your Soul Card. This is your soul’s work. It always bothered me that my Soul Card was The Hierophant, and I have sought out other, more helpful interpretations, and now, as I settle on my own extension of the meaning of this card as The Teacher, and realize that the vocation of Teacher is truly part of who I am, I can breathe a little better.

As I worked with the AI on this one, it was very important to me that my input would cause the AI to create the image in a natural setting because I think that the most pressing issue underlying everything we do and teach today must include a sense of the importance of knowing and protecting the Earth.


Gratitude List:
1. Settling into my vocation. When I have signed the paperwork, I will say more, but for now, I am deeply grateful and delighted to have found a teaching position for the fall!
2. Cool mid-June. I struggle with really difficult allergies from mid-May until mid-June, so during what are the most pleasant temperatures of the late spring, I keep indoors with doors and windows closed. When I emerge from the allergy fog, the season has usually turned hot. I am so grateful for these cooler days when I am emerging and able to live out of doors again.
3. Kindness. Tenderness. Gentleness.
4. Poppies. I still don’t have any of my own, but I LOVE walking and driving past other people’s gardens, especially when the poppies are blooming.
5. Truth. Veracity. Impeccability. People who can humbly speak what they know to be true without having to shift the narrative in order to defend or aggrandize themselves.
May we walk humbly, justly, and kindly, in Beauty!


“We are so brief. A one-day dandelion. A seedpod skittering across the ice. We are a feather falling from the wing of a bird. I don’t know why it is given to us to be so mortal and to feel so much. It is a cruel trick, and glorious.” —Louise Eldrich


“A man who does not know how to be angry does not know how to be good. And a man that does not know how to be shaken to his heart’s core with indignation over things evil is either a fungus or a wicked man.” —Henry Ward Beecher, social reformer and abolitionist (1813-1887)


Here’s the best way to see a thing: catch
the edge of light
that burns
around its opposite, that
which it would otherwise
obscure.
—Mark Bibbins


I saw you once, Medusa; we were alone.
I looked you straight in the cold eye, cold.
I was not punished, was not turned to stone.
How to believe the legends I am told? …

I turned your face around! It is my face.
That frozen rage is what I must explore—
Oh secret, self-enclosed, and ravaged place!
That is the gift I thank Medusa for.
—May Sarton, “The Muse as Medusa”


“How you get there is where you’ll arrive.” —The Mad Hatter


“When you look at what is happening to our world—and it is hard to look at what’s happening to our water, our air, our trees, our fellow species—it becomes clear that unless you have some roots in a spiritual practice that holds life sacred and encourages joyful communion with all your fellow beings, facing the enormous challenges ahead becomes nearly impossible.” —Joanna Macy


“We are capable of suffering with our world, and that is the true meaning of compassion. It enables us to recognize our profound interconnectedness with all beings. Don’t ever apologize for crying for the trees burning in the Amazon or over the waters polluted from mines in the Rockies. Don’t apologize for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal. That is what is happening as we see people honestly confronting the sorrows of our time.” —Joanna Macy


“And I consider myself a skeptic, but Lord, I’m an optimistic soul.” —Rising Appalachia

Online Dating, Sort Of

I imagine that The Job Search is something like online dating: You find a potential match, make a plan to meet up, and then pore over everything you can find out about them on the internet. You imagine yourself in a relationship together, ponder their statements about who they are and what they like and the difference they make in the world. And sometimes, before you actually meet on that first date, you sort of fall in love already. In order to make that first date go swimmingly, you envision yourself in the relationship, and you already feel the thrill of possibility. And you know that they’re checking out others, too, and you don’t want to seem desperate for them to notice and like you more than all the rest, so all you can do is be yourself, and hope that’s enough.

Sigh. That’s where I am now, envisioning myself as belonging to and contributing to the work and vision of a particular institution, as though it’s already happened, as though they’ve said yes to me in the way I have already said yes to them in my gut.

And what if they don’t like me as much as I like them? What if, what if, what if? I would be mightily grateful for your good mojo, prayers, energy, magic, tomorrow around noon EDT as I interview for a very exciting possibility.


Gratitude List:
1. Possibilities–hoping, dreaming, envisioning
2. Energy bites (oats, pb, honey, raisins, etc.)
3. Time alone
4. Great Crested Flycatcher, meadowlark, horned lark, all the birds
5. Visual symbols for the inner journey.
May we walk in Beauty!


“God is our mother as truly as God is our father…. we come from the Womb of the Eternal. We are not simply made by God; we are made of God.” —Julian of Norwich


“Everything that is in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, is penetrated with connectedness.” —Hildegard of Bingen


“But we [writers] are crucial. That is what I hope you have learned. We listen for and collect and share stories. Without stories there is no nation and no religion and no culture. Without stories of bone and substance and comedy there is only a river of lies, and sweet and delicious ones they are, too. We are the gatherers, the shepherds, the farmers of stories. We wander widely and look for them and gather them and harvest them and share them as food. It is a craft as necessary and nutritious as any other, and if you are going to be good at it you must double your humility and triple your curiosity and quadruple your ability to listen.” ―Brian Doyle


“What if your drive to experience pleasure isn’t a barrier to your spiritual growth? Consider trying out the hypothesis that cultivating joy can make you a more ethical and compassionate person. Imagine that feeling good has something important to teach you on a regular basis.” —Rob Breszny


“Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through
the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.”
—Walt Whitman (Happy Birthday!)

Holding the Boundaries

Art by Beth Weaver-Kreider and AI. Brightwing Tarot.

I’m trying not to engage in too wide-ranging a re-interpretation of the cards as I find my way through the Fool’s Wanderings in the tarot, so I want to be careful with cards like this one, which I have always found unsettling. The Fool leaves the arms of the nurturing Earth in the Empress/Matrix card, and now meets the Emperor. As I meditate on the meaning of this card and what the Fool needs to learn here, I find the martial and domineering nature of the Emperor to crunch too intensely against my own notions of peace and justice.

The Emperor is the boundary-setter, putting their own Will into the world and establishing the edges. Rather than interpreting this card as the selfish and greedy conquest of a power-hungry patriarch, I look at this boundary-setting as an incredibly important moment in the Fool’s learning process, when they realize they, too, deserve justice and respect. In my own recent crisis, I find that I must make a stop here in the land of The Protector (whom I might end up calling The Boundary-Setter), and relearn how to re-member my own boundaries, how to shore up the walls of my garden, and say, “This far, and no further. Here is my limit.”

And it IS a re-learning and a re-membering. It’s never a once and done thing. This Fool that is me has been here in this place before, learning about boundaries and protection of my insides. I thought I had completely aced this lesson in the past. Yet I find myself here again. Again. The assault on my inner realm this time has been more intense than I could have previously imagined. Time to re-learn this lesson. With the Emperor/Protector/Boundary-Setter, I say, “I will protect myself. I will hold fast to my inner truth and not feel shame.”

And this one pairs so beautifully with the work of The Matrix, in this case a binary pairing that dances together to form a deeper complexity. The life force of The Matrix is free of boundaries and rule-setting, and the soul force of The Protector creates healthy and safe boundaries. Too much of one or the other, and the Fool will lose her balance.

And how can I truly create brave and safe where others can feel belonging if I cannot protect my own inner world? One thing that the traditional Emperor does not seem to know how to do is to ask for help. I’m grateful to add that layer to my version of the card. This Protector knows how to ask for help in times of breached walls.

Here is my Emperor poem from several years ago. I find that it’s one of those moments when my own voice from the past has something to say to the me of the moment:

Setting the Intention
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

I will.
That should fill
the task list of the day.
Just say,
“I will.”

Then make that happen.
Make your will into a thing
Let it sing.
Give it ground.

Cast your boundaries around you:
east and south and west and north.
Go forth
and do your will.


Gratitude List:
1. Blue grosbeak. I know he makes my gratitude list every day now, but really, the sun twinkling off the deep cerulean of his feathers is such a revelation! I feel like Mother Mary is tapping me on the shoulder every time I see him. Such a Blue!
2. Safe and protected spaces, and the people who rush to help shore up the walls when they’ve been breached.
3. Father Richard Rohr’s words today on symbolic language for the journey of faith. I felt like he’d been watching my own story somehow. Powerful synchronicity.
4. Reclaiming my place.
5. So many Beloveds. You and you and you. Twice this past weekend, I met people in the flesh whom I have only known online, and I was so blessed to know and see their beauty in the real world. I can be really socially awkward, especially right now, but I love this sort of encounter! Balm to my soul.
May we walk in Beauty!


“Stars are an excellent medicine for homesick hearts.” —F W Boreham


“Radical simply means grasping things at the root.” ―Angela Davis


“If you put three or four disassociated ideas together, and created awkward relationships with them, the unconscious intelligence that comes from those pairings is really quite startling sometimes, quite provocative.” —David Bowie


“Dehumanizing others is the process by which we become accepting of violations against human nature, the human spirit, and, for many of us, violations against the central tenets of our faith.” —Brené Brown


“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only [s]he who sees, takes off [her] shoes.”
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning


“I do not see a delegation for the Four Footed. I see no seat for the Eagles. We forget and we consider ourselves superior. But we are after all a mere part of Creation. And we must consider to understand where we are. And we stand somewhere between the mountain and the Ant. Somewhere and only there as part and parcel of the Creation.” —Oren Lyons


“The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed—to be seen, heard, and companioned exactly as it is.” —Parker J. Palmer


“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ―Maya Angelou


This is how I would die
into the love I have for you:
As pieces of cloud
dissolve in sunlight. ―Rumi


Werifesteria: To wander longingly through the woods in search of mystery. (No one seems to know if this is an actual Old English word, as the internet says, but I don’t really care. It’s a word now.)


“Keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive” ―Martha Graham


“When Paul said, ‘Help those women who labor with me in the Gospel,’ he certainly meant that they did more than pour out tea.” ―Julia Foote


In Japanese (again, according to the internet), tsundoku means, “the act of buying books and not reading them, leaving them to pile up.”

Mater and Matrix

So, the Fool has embarked upon adventure–unprepared but winsomely present to each moment on the road–has learned the elemental mysteries of the universe from the Medium, and has studied wisdom and lore from the Secret Keeper. The next two characters the Fool meets are usually called The Empress and The Emperor. By renaming the Empress Matrix, I haven’t actually managed to entirely pull this character out of the gender binary, for matrix is the source, the womb from which we are born, the fertile Earth, the rock bed on which crystals are formed. This is the birth-giver, the bringer of life: fecund, nurturing, fruitful, generative. The German word mater, from which we get the word mother, comes from the Latin matrix.

This Matrix, unlike Neo’s computer simulation, is the source of all life, the life force that pushes dandelions through concrete and pulls forth the greening of the spring, draws forth the flower, and brings flower to fruit. Then the Matrix locks up that life force into the hard shell of the seed to begin the cycle all over again.

After acquiring knowledge and power from Medium and Secret Keeper, the Fool must take time to grow, and to carefully observe the cycles of life, to feel the Life Force that feeds the Fool’s own self. The Fool learns to tend and nurture life force in the presence of the Matrix.

Here is a poem I wrote several years ago about The Empress:

Message from the Empress
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

In the grove over the ridge, the trees
have broken into a flourish of pink,
lascivious against the rain-wet green,
a thousand mouths seeking a drink.

Let us riot too.
Let us fill our thirst.

Let us spread our blooming fingers,
opening our mouths and hearts, dancing
away ruin with bloom, lingering
with simple beauty, with aching fragrance.

Let us waft.
Let us be wanton.


The Matrix/Empress has no time for rule-making about bodies. Here is where the Fool learns about Embodiment, about Being a Body. Unlike certain strains of Buddhism and Christianity that stress transcending or mortifying the body in order to reach enlightenment or purity, The Matrix knows that the body is pure and right and holy. “Your body is a temple,” we were told in Sunday School, and were expected to hide and contain and control it. “Your body is a temple,” says The Matrix, “and it is meant to be celebrated and inhabited and experienced.”

How do you experience life in a body? Is it painful? Uncomfortable? Shameful? Joyful? Ecstatic? Primal? What meditations and movements, what breathing and noticing, can you do to more fully experience the deep sense of belonging in a body?


Gratitude List:
1. People who get it, who understand your story even when you need to speak around silent spaces. People who See you even when you feel like parts of you have become invisible.
2. Textile arts, particularly crocheting and knitting–how amazing that we can take one or two little sticks, and a piece of string, and make such amazing things? Knot and twist. There’s a life lesson in that, isn’t there?
3. Wood thrushes calling in the woods at Sam Lewis Park this evening.
4. Disc Golf. I didn’t play because we only have two sets of discs, but it was such a delight walking through the course as the boys played. Child 2 said to Child 1, “You’ll have to hurry up and get your license so we can do this whenever we want!”
5. Blue grosbeak, a constant visual presence at the feeder, and oriole, a constant aural presence in the holler.
May we walk in Beauty!


“If you feel thirsty, then
drink from your cup.
The birds will keep singing
until they wake up.”
—Franz Wright


“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” —attributed to Buddha and to Nelson Mandela


“Let fury have the hour.
Anger can be power.
D’you know that you can use it?”
–The Clash


“In order to write the book you want to write, in the end you have to become the person you need to become to write that book.”
― Junot Díaz


“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”
― Stephen King


“let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences”
― Sylvia Plath