Of Course, the August Rains

Was it only two days ago I wrote about how The Stump has become dormant except for little flowerings of two or three types of shy mushrooms around the faerie door? But I forgot about the August rains. Yesterday, I went out and a new stage of frilly white oysters have burst from the northern arc. Something else, shy and yellow, was already melting toward a golden ooze on the southern exposure. Life returns in The Stump’s own season. The first photo is the entire group of oysters, and the others are individual portraits, and the golden ooze from the southern side.

And I too, observe my seasons, shifting and changing, sometimes going dormant for long periods in one or another of my realms of existence. Lately, I have been working with great intention at healing and feeding my solar plexus chakra. You can tell me (as one of my beloved scientific-minded children does) that it is all in my mind, and I will respond, “Of course it is!” That’s where so much of magick resides, in the changing of consciousness at will. I have needed to change my consciousness regarding my ability to get things done. Slowly and steadily, I am seeing changes, more will and energy to do the things that must be done. Step by slow step, I realize that when I want to call up energy to do something, I find a reserve there, small and patient, waiting for me to call it forth.

Like the energy of the stump, my own energies have been, for a long time, hidden beneath the surface, seemingly unavailable. But now, with careful tending, and a little August sun and rain, I feel the bloom.

May your day be bright with sparks of new-found energy in places where you least expect it.


Gratitude List:
1. Reminders to Be in the Body.
2. Things that wake me up.
3. This school. This classroom. These colleagues. The sense of students soon to populate this space.
4. Augusts rains. September sun.
5. Seasons.

May we walk in Beauty! In mercy, justly, humbly.


“There is another world, but it is in this one.”
—W.B. Yeats


“There is a deeper world than this
That you don’t understand
There is a deeper world that this
Tugging at your hand. . .
There is a deeper wave than this
Rising in the land
There is a deeper wave than this
Nothing will withstand
I say love is the seventh wave.”
—Sting (I think I am going to listen carefully to this song in the coming days as I make last minute preps for school)


“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter ’til they bloom, ’til you yourself burst into bloom.”
—Clarissa Pinkola Estes


“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”
“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die… By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heavens knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” —Charlotte the spider


“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” —Doris Lessing


“A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” —Irish proverb


“We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know from what we originate. The loss of purpose that so many of us feel is greater than the trajectory of our careers and personal lives, it is a cultural ailment which arises out of forgetting. Our lives are like the fruit of a heritage seed: Each of the generations that has preceded us has contributed to our life’s survival. There is an ancestral momentum to which we are beholden, and which carries us forward when we are in step with it. To hear this momentum, we must turn towards the soul. There, in our dreams, are the clues to what we love and what our lives long for.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“To teach is to create a space in which obedience to truth is practiced.” —Parker Palmer, from Abba Felix tradition


“As technological civilization diminishes the biotic diversity of the earth, language itself is diminished. As there are fewer and fewer songbirds in the air, due to the destruction of their forests and wetlands, human speech loses more and more of its evocative power. For when we no longer hear the voices of warbler and wren, our own speaking can no longer be nourished by their cadences. As the splashing speech of the rivers is silenced by more and more dams, as we drive more and more of the land’s wild voices into the oblivion of extinction, our own languages become increasingly impoverished and weightless, progressively emptied of their earthly resonance.” —David Abram


“Establish the sacred space of the classroom so that the inner and outer spaces of the students are respected.” (I don’t know the source. Tell me if you know.)


Be ready for truth to find you. —gleaned from Parker J. Palmer

Seasons of The Stump

Mushrooms surround the faerie door.

Time and seasons flow differently in the realm of Faerie.

You might be walking in the woods on a warm summer day, and find yourself suddenly in a clearing with autumn leaves drifting around you, or patches of snow in the blue shadows. You may find a ripe red apple, or full round rose hips, during a winter walk. This is how you know you’ve crossed their boundaries.

So it is with The Stump. Last fall, when everything around us was dying, the stump began to put forth fruit. The wood ear mushrooms on the top surface expanded their territory. The bark on the sides was gradually obscured by shelves and racks of pearly oysters. Around the base, every few days it seemed, was a new bloom of one of at least three or four other varieties of mushroom. And in the very center of The Stump’s table were the glorious pair of caramel-colored mushrooms I called Meadow and The Chief.

Yes, mushrooms do tend to come out in the fall, when the damp and rot are conducive to their growth. The strange thing was the way they lived into the winter, how even in the snow, the oysters looked as plump and luscious as ever, new shelves appearing even in dark January. It was only as February’s cold turned brutal that the oysters began to show the frost-bite along their edges, turning brown and hardening. In spring, as the crocus and windflowers began popping up into the greening lawn, the stump went quiet. The oysters, heavy with their hardening, pulled off the outer layer of bark as they began to fall away. Even in the spring rains, the wood ears stayed still and grey as lichen, and Meadow and The Chief, the first to shrivel in the early winter, went to black hard nubs.

Eventually, by late spring I helped the process, pulling away the dead and hardened pieces and tossing them in the woods, leaving The Stump naked and stark, sere and wintry, as the world around it grew to summer’s ripeness and fullness. Gill on the grass grew up around, then died back, and arms of Virginia creeper have begun to reach around the sides.

Here and there, on occasion, a group of those gray faerie mushrooms–thin discs atop impossibly thread-like stalks–would rise for a morning around the base, and dry to powder by afternoon, like manna.

The piece of bark I had set up at the base to delineate a faerie door at the beginning of this magickal cycle has begun to look the worse for wear, and I have been searching for the perfect thing to replace it. But yesterday when I looked, the door and little dooryard were covered by a suddenly-appearing crowd of the little brown mushrooms with downward-curving caps. The Faerie realm of The Stump seems to be preparing for its next season of growth. I doubt the oysters will come back, now that the outer bark is gone. One small living patch of wood ear remains on the northern side, next to the faerie door. Perhaps it will thrive again along the surfaces. I have been seeing rings of the large white horse mushrooms popping up in other people’s lawns, and am putting out my own silent welcome that some might again show up in our grassy patches. Mostly, although I know that it was perhaps a once in a lifetime experience for a singular stump, I long for some caramel-colored stalks to emerge from the center of the table. I think it was late September or early October last year when they appeared, so I will be patient, just in case they come again.

You may say there is no such thing as a Faerie realm.
You can tell me that the season of fungi is out of sync with the seasons of green things.
You may say it’s dangerous to welcome the fae ones to live in close proximity to my home.
You can tell me I’m strange or playing with fire for talking to the fae folk I meet in my dreams, for speaking their names.

What I know is that during the deadest, most anxious winter of my life, something lived and thrived in my yard, something offered me daily visions of what can grow in harsh conditions. And I will welcome whatever magick appears again as summer turns once more to fall, and we cover our faces, and the shadows spread.

Perhaps within the shadows, something hopeful, something holy, something wildly alive, will appear.


Gratitude List:
1. How life continues, even in harsh conditions.
2. Rainy summer mornings. Breathe in. Breathe out.
3. Looking forward to being in the classroom again. Tomorrow and Monday are Professional Development Days, and students come back on Tuesday. I’m not ready, but I’m ready, if you know what I mean.
4. Fungi, especially those white mushrooms popping up in faerie rings all over the place.
5. Blue, blue, blue, blue, blue.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” —Deuteronomy 32:2


“There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.” —Thomas Merton (Oh, but I am going to try, Thomas Merton. I am going to try.)


Deep breath.
Straighten the spine.
Scan the wide vista before you.
Feel the morning breeze
as the sun rises
over the far horizon.
Another deep breath.
Spread your wings.
Leap.
—Beth Weaver-Kreider


“It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.”
—Alvin Toffler


“What comes, will go. What is found, will be lost again.
But what you are is beyond coming and going and beyond description.
You are It.”
—Rumi


“Though my soul may set in darkness
it will rise in perfect light.
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
—Sarah Williams, about Galileo


“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” —from The Talmud


“An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.”
—George Santayana

The Tattered Pelt

This dream reveals itself and ravels like a fairy tale or myth.

It’s been two weeks since I listened to Martin Shaw telling the story of Fox Woman Dreaming, but something in my Dreambrain has reached back to that for images to tell myself this story.

Part One:
I am sitting on a concrete ledge, like a loading dock, of the garage of my house, looking out over the meadow and the woods beyond.

I hear a cry of frustration and rage: “Aaarrrnnnngh!”

At the edge of the woods, where the neighbors have logs for splitting, a large wolf is dancing around in extreme agitation. It has thrown an ax across the snowy field. Its fur is striped and brindled, mottled. It flips back and forth in its frustration. I know at once that the wolf is a shapeshifter.

I can feel its frustration deep within myself, and I am frightened as it runs up the field toward me.

I search around for something to offer it to help it, to distract it from attacking me.

I find that I am holding an old and tattered pelt of some animal fur. As the wolf paces around the side of the garage and the base of the ledge where I am sitting, I tear a piece of the pelt I am holding and toss it into the snow. It distracts and calms the wolf for a moment. It sniffs the piece of pelt but does not eat it.

Part Two:
I am walking down a brick pathway in a park, trying to feel the different rhythmic vibrations of the various bricks. I can sort of sense the patterns of a couple of them. I am trying to remember the poems/incantations for a ceremony to awaken and celebrate the awakening of the powers of a girl child. I am trying to help her to notice the vibrations in the bricks, trying to tell her the bits of incantations that I remember.

I am aware that the child is coming into her power and I am feeling the dissipation of my own.

As I am working with the bricks and incantations, I notice that the girl has found a stump with a large and tangled root system. A woman and a child, their faces painted with stripes of brown and yellow in many different shades, look out at me from the stump. The girl knows they are there and has been listening to them.

Unpacking:
I have so many questions.
Am I both the Wolf and the One Who Watches?
If I am the Watcher, have I given away my own shapeshifting power, my own Wild, in order to protect myself and appease the frustration–ease the loss–of another?
What have I done?! I have thoughtlessly torn my pelt. Is it possible to repair?
I feel acutely both the loss of my own Wild (the Watcher) and the sense that it’s unbridled and out of control (the Wolf).

And am I both the Child and the Teacher?
Again, I feel acutely the loss of my own powers even as I am able to recover a little of my awareness of vibration, my memory of the words of ceremony.
I feel a need to prepare the Child, to mentor and teach, but the work has moved beyond me, and she has found her teachers in nature.
But I am also the Child. She has met the spirit beings who inhabit the stump and they are teaching her.

Both pieces of my dream seem to be about internal rifts/separations that help me to see the ways I am disconnected from my Wild, from my own personal sense of my power.

Maybe it wasn’t a bad idea to offer part of my pelt to the shapeshifter. Maybe that’s what I need to do, to offer my own inner Wolf the key to her transformation. But I need to tend to my “skin.”

And maybe I don’t need to focus so much on remembering the words and patterns of the ceremony for the Child, but just settle into a space where I can hear the living voices of the beings who surround me. I feel like this is a message to rely less on head knowledge, but to focus on simply perceiving what is around me.

Two nights ago, I dreamed again, as I often do at times of inner change and transformation, that I needed to push my way through a tight and claustrophobic portal in order to enter a new space. In these dreams, I sometimes refuse, or the dream ends as I am trying to find the courage to enter the constricting passage, but in my recent dream, I actually made it through the portal.

I think these dreams are connected. First, the portal, then the reckoning with the state of my own inner awareness.


Gratitude:
1. The way shifting and de-hoarding and organizing makes space for energy to flow more freely and serenely. Clogged energy is either stagnant or frenetic. Unclogged energy flows.
2. I’m getting really eager to dive into the planning process for the coming school year. I relish the shift of this energy from the overwhelm of last spring (of the past three semesters, really) to the excitement of setting the table for the coming academic feast.
3. Mending. Like de-hoarding, mending makes the energy flow. And physical mending causes the heart to turn toward the inner mending as well.
4. A different type of energy, but not unconnected: Feeling my own physical energy returning. It’s been a circuitous journey. But it feels so good when we go walking and I feel the surge of energy and strength in the stride rather than feeling like I am fighting against gravity.
5. Thresholds. Liminal spaces. Betweens.

May we walk in Beauty!


“When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Bronte who dashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to. Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” —Virginia Woolf


“Every person is a living treasure box. Listening holds the key.” —Mollie Marti


“The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“I take care of my own.” —Hushpuppy (Beasts of the Southern Wild)


“You are my own, and I am yours–I think this is what God is saying, or trying to, over the din. We are each other’s. There are many forms of thirst, many kinds of water.” —Anne Lamott


“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


“You are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to
remember that the planet is carrying you.” ―Vandana Shiva


“To be brave is to behave bravely
when your heart is faint.
So you can be really brave
only when you really ain’t.”
—Piet Hein


“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” —Upton Sinclair


“You can never go down the drain.” —Mr. Rogers


“Good People,
most royal greening verdancy,
rooted in the sun,
you shine with radiant light.” ―Hildegard of Bingen


“Just living is not enough said the butterfly, one needs sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” ―Hans Christian Anderson


“I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.” ―Dalai Lama