In the Doorway of Another Year

My year has turned again to my starting day. Here I am, marking the end of year 54 and the beginning of year 55.

I always like to do the numerology assessment of my birthday. Like my dreamwork at the turning of the year from December to January, looking at the meanings in my numbers gives me something to contemplate and focus on in my inner work for the coming season.

One way to look at the numbers is to take the current date and reduce it numerologically: 8+10+2021 = 14 = 5. It’s a pretty straightforward reduction: You add the digits in each number together, and then add them all together. This is a 14 year for me. In the tarot major arcana, the 14 is Temperance. I can get behind that as a contemplation for the coming year.
How can I create balance in my life?
How can I keep one foot on land (practical) and one in the water (emotional/spiritual)?
How can I create and maintain healthy flow in my life?

The 14 reduces further to 5, which is my Life Number. This is the number of the Hierophant, the keeper/teacher of the mysteries. The hierophant passes on wisdom and knowledge. This feels doubly significant to me this year as I enter my 55th year.
How am I passing on the knowledge and wisdom I have gained from my mentors and teachers?
How can I be more deliberate about when to speak and when to keep silent?
What is the body of wisdom that I have to share?

Affinity Numerology dot com tells me that “54 tends to follow whim. It has an urge to be adventurous, yet is pragmatic and tries to focus and be reliable. . .The essence of the number 54 is continually focused on making life better for people. It isn’t always effective, as it also has an inner urge to express its sense of personal freedom.”

It also tells me that “54 has little, if any, judgement of lifestyles, societal expectations, religious beliefs, and political practices — in fact, it revels in the first-hand experience of a wide variety of cultures.” Unfortunately I have failed in that realm this year. Ugh. I have become the judgiest version ever of myself. I blame Covid and its attendant rage. Sigh. Maybe I can incorporate some of that into year 55.

55, according to the same site, suggests I might extend the adventuresomeness of the 54, to deepen the adventures, to claim my independence. I like that vision. So I sit in the space between reliability and independence, with adventure as the thread that ties them together.

Whatever meaning I choose to take from my numbers, the fact is that I have reached the milestone of another year. My hair is definitely grayer. My aches and pains are cycling through with more intensity. I made it through a bout of Covid, through Jon’s job change, through masked teaching and Zoom/hybrid classes, through the long languish of the pandemic. A year ago, I was pretty certain that this birthday would see us out the other side of the pandemic, yet here we are. I’ll be masked again this fall to teach. The numbers in both my counties (Lancaster and York) continue to rise.
I am, by turns: angry, tired, despairing, eye-rollingly-weary.
I have a low tolerance for people who will neither get the vaccine nor mask up.
I am experiencing a dearth of empathy for people who don’t see this the way I do–I consider this to be a moral failing on my part, but I don’t know if it’s something I can control.
I am really anxious about the rising cases in children.

Still, it’s a new year for me, a chance for a reset, with a chance to be better at balance, at flow, and at choosing how to pass along what wisdom I have gained. It’s a season for adventure, in whatever way I can grasp hold of that.

And there’s this:

While I was gazing at this perfect double rainbow, a branching flash of lightning snaked across half the sky. Moments later, a hummingbird flitted out of the willow tree to the left, and began dancing between raindrops right in front of the rainbow.

Gratitude List:
1. Last night, we had friends over for a farewell party for some of our beloveds who are returning to East Africa after several weeks in the US. We sat at picnic tables in the lawn with a cool breeze blowing through the hollow, and walnut leaves like fairy leaves flashing golden as they drifted down around us. Bittersweet, to say goodbye and to be among people I treasure so deeply.
2. The house is pretty clean. I’m not going to go down the shame-vortex in order to get to this, but needless to say, things had not been very clean for some time. Now they are, and I feel my spirits lifted. We should have company once a month.
3. Also bittersweet, today was my last day at Radiance for the summer. It’s sad to leave, but I can’t be sad when I reflect on the gift of being able to work there, surrounded by good and shiny souls, good smells, and so much to learn. Grateful for the connection to Sarah and Laura, to Chris (and Natasha, although our paths didn’t cross this summer). Grateful for herbs and textures and scents and magic, for all that reconnects me to the Divine Feminine.
4. Sensible shoes. Comfortable, sensible shoes. When my feet feel good, my body feels good.
5. Rain. We just got a thunder-boomer in the holler. The air sparkles.

May we walk in Beauty!


Tuesday’s Quotes (long, but hey, it’s my birthday):
“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


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


“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


“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


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.


“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

Bedevilment

Today in Creative Writing, we did a fun bit of wordplay from the website Writing ForwardYou make lists of a dozen or so nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. Then you make a list of prefixes/suffixes. Using your lists, you add prefixes and suffixes to some of your nouns in order to create words of your own. Then you make up new compound words, use nouns as verbs and adjectives as adverbs–all to experiment with using language in different ways.  Today’s poem, using the prompt of bedevilment, comes out of that writing experience.

I have dungeoned my wonder,
enshaded my joy,
chaining myself in the ragecage
I made for my shadowling.

Addicted to fury,
I fought fear with burning,
teethful in reaction,
and wasting my flame.

When you make a rope of curses,
you catch your own head in the loop.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
The tower. It may have begun as the Tower of Rapunzel, where her witch-mother kept her waiting. It may have been a fortress, strong and impenetrable, or a solitary place of retreat. But this tower is falling, burning, lightning-struck, and the Fool is falling, falling. To understand the lightning-struck tower, it may be necessary to remember the journey the Fool has taken from learning temperance to the experience of bedevilment and addiction. We find our balance, and then we fail, and so we are thrown off-balance again, and need to find a new grounding. The experience of falling from the Tower is about losing your attachment to your ego. The Fool has to learn that she cannot be completely in control.

Gratitude List:
1. The misty fogginess in the hollow as dusk fell. It felt like a fairy tale world.
2. The way rain brings out the deepness of the colors.
3. Kreutz Creek Library Book Sale
4. Mandalas
5. Kindnesses. Today, standing in the hallway, I watched one of my students who sometimes seems a little isolated by his extreme shyness. He was walking quietly through the crowd in the hall, head down, and another kid saw him and just reached out and bumped him on the shoulder and grinned at him, noticing him. The shy boy smiled back. It might seem like a small, almost unremarkable kindness, but I think it was really actually pretty huge for the shy one. That’s the kind of people these young folk are. I know that my school is not perfect, and that unkind words and bullying occur, but more than that I am aware of kindnesses, of thoughtfulness.

May we walk in Beauty!

Tempering

As I have aged, my flames
have tempered my steel,
my temper has blazed, then waned,
my temperature flared
and lowered and raised.

I have strutted and fretted
my hour on the stage
written my rage on the page,
and wielded my words like a sword.

Now I stay in a more temperate range.
I attempt to remain more balanced today.
A gentler temperament has pacified
the brash face of the past.

Temperance need not steal the voice,
nor make a canary of the screeching harpy.
Simply, the word-sword no longer slashes
with indiscriminate hacking,
but a well-balanced metal
now guides the blade.

###
I am pushing myself to work outside my comfort zone, to shift out of the mind-rut that has caught my wheels this last week. It’s hard for me to assess the strength and weakness of a poem when it steps so far out of my typical poetic spaces.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
It’s such an orderly progression. The Fool must learn about Temperance before she encounters the Devil. What bedevils you? What holds you bound? That’s the Fool’s encounter tomorrow. Addiction, cruelty, bondage to fear and uncertainty, repeated cycles of patterned behavior and habit that keep us from growing: that’s the bedevilment.

Gratitude List:
1. Chapel today was an outdoor celebration of Earth Day: drums, art, poetry, sheep shearing, fly fishing, and all sorts of other interactive activities for students to be in nature. They returned to class with winsome smiles and wind in their hair.
2. A thousand shades of green
3. Ferns. They grow inches every day.
4. Pushing outside the boundaries of habit.
5. Tiger swallowtails

May we walk in Beauty!

Death and Temperance, and the Wall

 

I have hit the poetry wall tonight. I’ve been feeling it coming for a couple days now, the slowing, the resistance in my brain as I approach it. And here, tonight, with Death as the prompt, I don’t know where to go. I want to make it light and fluffy, toss it off without thinking. I don’t have the brain cells for much work tonight, and my will to work is shallow and listless. Then I remind myself that some of the shiniest poems happen at the moment of the wall. Of course, that’s when some of the worst ones happen, too. Sigh.

 

 

No, I think she’s a woman in a red cloak
with gentle brown eyes and midnight skin.
Unlike the ferryman, she asks no token,
no proof of passage or confession of sin.

She carries a sickle instead of a scythe,
appearing in fevered delusions and dreams,
and though you may dread to see her arrive,
you will cherish her presence on the journey.

###
There now. I’ve written something. I honestly can’t tell whether I like it or not. That’s part of the wall, too, the loss of a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Best to just get it down there, and come back to it with a clear head when April is over.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
So much of it is about Balance, isn’t it? Justice, a few days ago. Even Death–there’s always a balance between death and life, between the fear of it and the hope for it. The Lovers–they’re all about balance between the opposite parts of our inner nature. Tomorrow, again, is another sort of balance: Temperance. We’re not talking about periods of US history here, but about the concept. Passion and zeal are important drivers, and they can be great when you need to get the chariot moving, but fokeeping it going straight and steady, you’ve got to find the temperate balance. Can the Fool, in her naive and wandering heart, find the deep meaning of Temperance?

Gratitude List:
1. Pink trees
2. Cool breeze
3. Bees
4. (Ack! Now I need to keep going with this.) Poetries (Don’t judge me.)
5. Cheese (Hey now, I do love it, and we had some mighty fine Pepper Jack for supper.)

May we walk in Beauty!