Breathing Up to Dragons

Spot the dragon.

Five or six years ago, a friend read my animal cards for me, to determine what animal energies exist at my personal cardinal points: horses at east, lizard at south, panther at west, and crow at north. Frog at left, ant at right, dragonfly below, butterfly above, and antelope within. I loved this reading, and it helped me immensely in my breathing meditations, in helping me to orient myself within a safe sphere.

A few weeks went by, and I felt sad because there was no owl in the reading. There was no bat. There was no honey bee. And I began to think about the cross-quarter points on the circle. Who stands at my southeast? My northwest? So I meditated a while, and filled those in.

Then one day as I was breathing and meditating, I decided that because the animal meditations had so enlivened my awareness of my personal circle and orientation, they might help enliven my chakra breathing and meditating, so I contemplated and meditated, and found animals for each of those energetic points as well.

I work with more than seven chakras, and until all was said and done, I had thirty energy points, on my body and in my surrounding sphere, that I began to check in with. I found that, in order to remember them and not have to check a paper while I was breathing and meditating, I began going through them in my head as I was falling asleep. This helped me memorize them, and it helped me get back to sleep if I woke up in the night.

At the time, I was working in a shop that sells precious stones, and I found that as I imagined breathing into the great tortoise who stands at my earth star chakra, I was picturing serpentine, that stone that appears to hold within itself a map of vast landscapes. So I added a stone at each point. A while later I added plants. I stopped there. With occasional doubling up (both elephant and whale exist at my lower heart chakra), that’s over elements to remember and work with.

All of this is simply to explain why seeing a dragon in the clouds on my walk yesterday was particularly satisfying. At the very top of the chakras that I breathe open in my meditations, in the soul star chakra, are dragons. So when I saw the dragon, I recognized part of my inner self in the outer landscape, and I breathed all the way up to dragons, without even meditating.

And in some ways, that’s the point of the whole thing. Encountering animals and birds and plants and stones out there in the world outside myself brings me to a grounded awareness of my inner spaces. Now the morning birdsong, while just as beautiful as ever, is also a subtle reminder to keep my voice strong because of the songbirds at my throat chakra. A deer crossing the field at dusk reminds me to consider my higher heart chakra, to open myself further to deep self-compassion and unconditional love. The inner and outer landscapes mirror and reveal each other. Even up to dragons.


Gratitude List:
1. Dragons in the clouds
2. Meditative practices
3. I have to say it: School is almost over for the year. I need this kind of school to be over now please. I will be able to prepare myself for online learning in the fall, if that is what we must do, but for now, I am really grateful that this school year is almost over. For me. For my students. For my family.
4. Small creative projects that I can fit into the day’s rhythms. I made five little one-sheet/one-cut booklets yesterday. I want to print out several of my little Songs of the Beloved to glue into them as I decorate them.
5. Yeast. I got a little overwhelmed last week with the care and feeding of my wild yeasts, so I tossed it into the fridge. Yesterday I was ready to play again, so I took it out to warm up, then fed it last night, and I am about to go mix and knead the dough for a loaf today. I have been marginally successful in the past couple of months, so this might be my last attempt. If today’s loaf is still too cakey, I am going to return my yeasts to the wild and just keep using bought yeast. Still, working with this particular force of nature is a deep joy, no matter the little frustrations.

May we walk in Beauty!


“A witch ought never to be frightened in the darkest forest, Granny Weatherwax had once told her, because she should be sure in her soul that the most terrifying thing in the forest was her.” —Terry Pratchett


“Oh, God, make me a hollow reed, from which the pith of self hath been blown so that I may become as a clear channel through which Thy Love may flow to others. I have left behind me impatience and discontent. I will chafe no more at my lot. I commit myself wholly into thy hands, for thou are my Guide in the desert, the Teacher of my ignorance, the Physician of my sickness.” —attributed to Abdu’l-Bahá


“Truth is an agile cat. It has more than nine lives.” —Joy Harjo


Silence

A day of Silence
can be a pilgrimage in itself.
A day of Silence
can help you listen
to the Soul play
in marvelous lute and drum.
Is not most talking
a crazed defense of a crumbling fort?
I thought we came her
to surrender in Silence,
to yield to Light and Happiness,
to Dance within
in celebration of Love’s Victory!
—Hafiz

Dragons and Fish


I found this in my little zen garden in the classroom today. I love to watch what happens within its boundaries throughout the day. Some students have to work it every day, ordering it to their perfect idea of what it should look like. Others seem to have a need to make it messy, to jumble the stones, or bury them, spilling the sand over the edges. This used to bother me, until I realized that the need to disorder is also a type of ordering, a shifting of energies, and a necessary one in a day which is regimented by 45-minute blocks, and assignments that must be done, and attention that must be paid. Disordering the zen garden is its own way of taking control. I still can’t quite reconcile myself to the seeming-wanton spilling of sand over the edges, and the ones who scrape the rake harshly against the bottom of the tray. Still, even those who do that have their purposes, and I am committed to be an observer at this point, and not a director of the zen garden.  Lately, they have taken to leaving messages. I am partial to “Dragons and fish.”

The strange dreams continue. Last night there was a lion in my tent. I tried growling at it to scare it away. It just became more aggressive. Fortunately, Jon was there to wake me up. Only half an hour later, I had the chance to return the favor and wake him up from a fearful dream, too.

My next dream was less intense, but equally appalling–lost at sea in a little island archipelago. One of our party found a little boat and rowed off to see if he could find a mainland somewhere. When he came back, I paddled off in the opposite direction and found Finland–there was a sign right on the beach: FINLAND. So I knew we were saved.

Gratitude List:
1. Snow Day coming up
2. The boys might be fighting more these days, but at least they’re talking about it, trying to figure out what sets them off, so maybe there’s some learning taking place.
3. How ideas birth ideas
4. Resolve, determination, grit
5. Someone to wake me from the nightmares

May we walk in Beauty!

Looking Back, Looking Forward

janus1
The Roman god Janus looks backward and forward.

Looking back, looking forward.
These are the Days of Doorway,
of standing on the threshold
between the worlds of what was
and what will be.

What of the past will you choose to carry into the future? What will you cut loose and remove from your story? Perhaps we cannot revise the events of the past, but we can revise the way we tell them, the meaning we make from them. And the future stands wide open before us, waiting for us to take up the pen and create the tale to come.

Here’s an exercise you can try: Looking Back/Looking Forward. Without making intentional value judgments, consider some of the themes of your past year (looking back). Consider how you will carry them or cut them loose in the coming year (looking forward).

Looking back, I see that often in the past year, I allowed myself to be overcome with weariness. I allowed the waiting tasks to overwhelm my ability to be present in the moment.

Looking forward, I will have strategies to deal with weariness. I will try to keep naps and extra coffee for last resorts. I’ll start with a walk around the farm, seeking signs of foxes. I’ll make sure I take my vitamin. I’ll eat some protein. I’ll drink water. I’ll do my balance poses. I’ll stand up and take ten deep breaths.

Looking back, I see how I allowed the birth of a wonderful idea to begin to take hold of my soul, to find its way into the images and colors of my dreams.

Looking forward, I will nurture this dream like the tenderest of seeds, watering it, feeding it, giving it space to grow and develop. I will work for this one.

Looking back, I feel a sense of satisfaction in the accomplishment of having written at least a gratitude list almost every day. And I have done my balance poses with the John O’Donohue poem almost every day. I have begun naming my emotions more consistently before reacting. I have been less consistent with checking in with my energy, and I have neglected quiet meditation.

Looking forward, I will continue to write regularly, to stretch and breathe and recite my daily poem. I will keep checking in with emotion and energy, and focus on settling into meditation for five to ten minutes a day.

Gratitude List:
1. Milkweed seeds, tossed to the winds as a blessing.
2. Little round “eggs” of moss, blown off the garage roof.
3. Looking backward, looking forward.
4. Slaying my dragons.
5. Talking to Mara on the phone this morning.

May we walk in Beauty!

Conversing With Dragons

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Windflower

Gratitude List:
1. Reconnecting.  Reconnecting.  Reconnecting.
2. Crow’s Dragon.  You know the Ursula LeGuin idea about dragons?  They’re incredibly wise creatures–intelligent and compelling conversationalists, yet they’re tricksy and manipulative, and you have to be extremely careful or you may find yourself being subtly tricked into making promises you do not want to keep.  Someone has given me a dragon she drew that exquisitely captures this aspect of dragons.
3.  A clean house.  We need to have company more often.
4. Yoga.  I don’t do much, but I do a few minutes every day, and I continue to notice the small ways in which it helps me to be more connected with my body.  Balance, for one thing.
5. Windflowers.  Anemones.  Even more than the crocus, they ignore their boundaries.  They have much to say to me about respectfully blurring the edges of the box.

May we walk in Beauty!