The Stag and the Hunter

I’ve decided to make a physical Dream Bundle, to collect my words and symbols in the next week and a half. I have known that the physical act of designing and creating, of touching and gathering, is part of what makes a ritual real, but it has taken me years of this annual inner process to realize that a physical element would guide the work.

Last night’s dreams: Much of the dream takes place on a front porch, children coming home from school. I’m watching for two in particular–not sure why. There’s something vulnerable about these two. I miss connecting with them one day, and my brother says to be sure to engage the one in particular on the coming day, because he needs to find out how to help the young man.

One of our relatives brings in the deer he has shot, a buck. My niece is delighted to go with him and help him to gut and skin it. She knows she can do this, even though she has never done it before, because she is a nurse skilled in anatomy. Although the rest of the dream is sunny and warm, this Hunter comes to us through snow, the Stag over his shoulders. He is clad in grey and green, with a Robin Hood-style wool hat.

It’s pretty convoluted and wispy this morning, though pieces have been coming back as I write, particularly the image of Hunter and Stag. I do get this: focused, intentional helping. Working together to identify and meet needs. Using our own skills to solve problems.

Also, there’s the Stag and Hunter. In folklore and myth, the Stag is killed for the health and well-being of the community. The Hunter, in this case, is a quiet and sensitive young man with an eye for Beauty. I am fascinated by how this felt like an incidental part of the dream, but as I wrote other pieces, the dream memory of the image has strengthened and coalesced, as if to say, “This one: This is the important piece that ties it all together.”

Light and shadow.
Voices from the past and voices bringing the future.
Dreams and messages.
How the light enters.

May we walk humbly, in justice, mercy, and Beauty!

“There is more to life than we previously imagined. Angels hide in every nook and cranny, magi masquerade as everyday people, and shepherds wear the garments of day laborers. The whole earth is brimming with glory for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.”
–Howard Thurman

Marking Kwanzaa with my friends who celebrate. Today’s word is Kujichagulia. Self determination. (Even if you don’t know Swahili, it’s a fun word to roll around in your mouth. Try it. Emphasize the second and second to last syllables.)

The first people a dictator puts in jail after a coup are the writers, the teachers, the librarians — because these people are dangerous. They have enough vocabulary to recognize injustice and to speak out loudly about it. Let us have the courage to go on being dangerous people.” —Madeleine L’Engle

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” ―Carrie Fisher

“The stories I cared about, the stories I read and reread, were usually stories which dared to disturb the universe, which asked questions rather than gave answers. I turned to story, then, as now, looking for truth, for it is in story that we find glimpses of meaning, rather than in textbooks. . . . Fortunately, nobody ever told me that stories were untrue, or should be outgrown, and then as now they nourished me and kept me willing to ask the unanswerable questions.” —Madeleine L’Engle

“We need to dare disturb the universe by not being manipulated or frightened by judgmental groups who assume the right to insist that if we do not agree with them, not only do we not understand but we are wrong. How dull the world would be if we all had to feel the same way about everything, if we all had to like the same books, dislike the same books.” —Madeleine L’Engle

“But I believe that good questions are more important than answers, and the best children’s books ask questions, and make the reader ask questions. And every new question is going to disturb someone’s universe.” —Madeleine L’Engle

“So let us look for beauty and grace, for love and friendship, for that which is creative and birth-giving and soul-stretching. Let us dare to laugh at ourselves, healthy, affirmative laughter. Only when we take ourselves lightly can we take ourselves seriously, so that we are given the courage to say, ‘Yes! I dare disturb the universe.’” —Madeleine L’Engle

DIY Mythmaking and a New Poetic Form

I’ve been thinking about my poetic process, looking through some of the neglected poems that I want to figure out how to publish, and realizing that quite a number of my poems are myth-making poems. I use poetry as a DIY Mything process, taking my own experiences and observations and transmuting them into myths. This thought is tangling with the threads of my current morning writing project of working with the Inanna story. Storytelling, writing, speaking–this whole language gig–is all about how we make meaning in the world. Art, too, as a communicative process, is about charging existence with meaning.

Gratitude List:
1. Meaning-making, DIY Myth-making, poetry, art, communication
2. Participating in a Literary Festival, listening, learning, absorbing
3. Good writing
4. How the sun shines in
5. Oak trees

May we walk in Beauty!

I’ve been thinking again about the process of poetry. In my AP Literature class recently, I have had the students choose a poetic form, no matter how lofty and traditional or edgy and nonsensical, to teach to the class. We’ve had some delightful lessons this week, learning the Magic 9 and the Nonet and the Rondeau and the Fib, among others. Yesterday, we found ourselves with a little extra time after the presentations, and we were ready to do our own thing, so we spent half the period creating our own poetic form! We developed our own rules for our own Lit Poetic Form. The process was delicious and intensely collaborative. At the end, we came up with this:

Lit Poem
Two stanzas of seven lines each.
It’s a word-count poem, with the following pattern:
Stanza 1: 1, 3, 5, 7, 5, 3, 1 (It makes a diamond shape)
Stanza 2: 7, 5, 3, 1, 3, 5, 7 (This one makes an hourglass form)
When you put them together, they look somewhat like a lit candle. (Get it?)
The rhyme scheme goes like this:
Stanza 1: abcxcba (in which x is random and unrhymed)
Stanza 2: cbaxabc (in which x is also random, and not necessarily rhymed with the first x)

This is how we make meaning. We spent twenty minutes collaboratively creating a world, complete with its order and purpose. Now we have to write the poems to prove its viability.

Wandering in the Myth

This morning, I decided to just dive into the myth that has been calling me, and I spent my writing time working on the story of Inanna/Ishtar, pondering the way her descent into the Underworld mirrors my own inward travels as the year turns cold and dark. I think this one will keep me busy for the rest of the week and beyond.

What symbols of your personal power and wisdom and authority are you prepared to relinquish as you circle downward into the deepest realm of your own inner knowing?

Gratitude List:
1. Myths and stories that frame and guide our own daily journeys
2. Small breaks
3. Seeking the fire within
4. Anticipation
5. Layers and layers of warm clothes

May we walk in Beauty!

Once I Was a Snake

“Once I was a snake.  Once I was a weasel.”  –Joss Weaver-Kreider

Once I was a snake.
Once I was a weasel.
Once I was a spider
casting webs to catch
the fire of the sun.

At the dawning,
there were three trees:
walnut, poplar
and sycamore.
Generations of birds
nested in their branches.
Whole cities of small creatures
grew among their roots.
And black snakes carried news
along their highways,
from lofty breezy branches
to deep in the earth
where the the roots
sought underground streams.

Once I was a hawk.
Once I was an otter.
Once I was a grey owl
swooping from behind
the shadow of the moon.

As the first day began,
a small spring ran
from under a rock
off the flank of the ridge,
into a laughing stream
and down to a lazy river.
Families of crayfish
scuttled through the shallows.
Minnows twinkled in and out
of the sun-dappled pools.
A matriarch kingfisher
chortled and dove,
happy in her hunting.

Once I was a grouse.
Once I was a turkey.
Once I was a great elk
who sought my herd
in the valley of the stars.


Prompt for Wednesday

Two more days of January.  Then I take a break from poem-a-day to do some editing.  Let’s see.  What shall we write tomorrow?  I almost tried to fit an image from my morning into today’s poem, but couldn’t make it work.  How about making a poem about a powerful image of some sort?  Choose a painting, or a photo, or a memory with strong visuals.  Mine, I’ve written on my gratitude lists before, and I saw it again this morning: the lamp light shining on the hands of the bookbinder tenderly repairing an ancient book.


Gratitude List:

1.  Jon happened to go outside this evening to discover that the chickens had escaped.  Everyone is safe inside the coop tonight.
2.  Finding lost things
3.  So many shades of green
4.  Chocolate and coffee
5.  Making it myself

May we walk in beauty.

2011 June 199
Veggie mandala–I am looking forward to summer!

Ask the Moon

Last night as I fell asleep
I asked the moon–
like a child begging
for a bedtime story–
to tell me a marvelous dream.
I asked for a big cat,
like a lion or a cheetah.
An oak tree, or any tall tree.
A stone of power.
And Lake Victoria.
Suddenly an owl appeared,
so I said, You come too.

I didn’t ask for much.

What I got was a job
as an Administrative Secretary
at a desk in the lobby
of a grand publishing company.
Papers and messages
lay strewn about,
and I knew nothing
about dealing with them.

I sat for a while,
shoved papers around
like Sisyphus pushing that rock.
Tried to plug in the lamps
to get a little more light.
Looked as busy as I could.

When I awoke,
I was snuggled up
with a child
now comforted and warm
after a nosebleed and winter chill.

Some nights I wake up
in a panic, worried
that they will freeze in the night.

Drifting off again, I found myself
in someone’s cottage,
the same child a dream child,
next to me in bed.
I looked outside to see the moon
and a giant shadow passed
across the yard toward
the back door.

My legs were dream-leaden.
I could not rise to rescue
the other child asleep
alone in his dream-room.
Did this go on for hours?

When dawn came,
I awoke between the two,
the flesh-and-blood boys,
the dream child now
forever unrescued.

Next time I ask for a dream,
perhaps I’ll call for a restless job
and a relentless shadow,
and wish secretly
for a leopard in a tree.


Prompt for Tuesday

I was planning to do a found poem for tomorrow, trying to figure out how to come up with five or six totally random phrases to weave into a poem, but this evening before supper, Joss started singing, “Once I was a snake.  Once I was a weasel.”  I have also been wanting to trying creating something with a mythic tone.  So.  Found poem.  Myth poem.  Join me?  I am sure Joss wouldn’t mind sharing his song with you, too.  Or find your own.  Listen to someone speaking tomorrow morning and pull a couple phrases at random.


Gratitude List:

1.  Windshield wiper fluid
2.  Sentinel hawks along the highway
3.  My dental hygienist, who cares so well for my teeth
4.  The prayers and blessings that children give
5.  Ellis, who cut a piece of red paper into the shape of a Y:  “This is a Y, for you, because you are so important to me.”