Twelvenight: Harvesting Images

As I process the dreams I have been having, I have been making and gathering symbols of my psychic flotsam of the past week or so. A couple summers ago, we went to the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. I took a picture of a door handle that was a wing, and did some digital altering. This morning I happened upon it, and noticed that it resembles the black wings of the vultures in my dreams a couple nights ago:

And yesterday as I was bringing in the trash cans, I noticed a little pile of corn husks I had brought back from a walk weeks ago and left in a planter. I had intended to make a corn dolly. Yesterday, I picked them up and started to work, but suddenly what I saw in my head was a jester, a fool, rather than a pioneer woman. So this happened:

Neither corn dolly nor straw man, she is a corn jester, a jokester, a trickster.
Now I need to find some really good rainbow images. Oh! We did see faint sundogs yesterday afternoon! Rainbow spots.

Last night’s dream feels more like an anxiety dream than anything, but I don’t want to discount the images. I am sitting on a table in the middle of a church basement, leading a service or meeting of people gathered in a circle around me. I have to keep turning to face people in various parts of the circle. I am talking to a woman I keep calling Bibi (which means grandmother in Swahili), honoring her for the work she’s done, noting that she deserves the break that she is taking. A young man with a scruffy beard begins to pray, and I am sort of relieved because I wasn’t sure I could make the meeting go as long as it’s supposed to. But this man starts to ramble, making l-o-n-g pauses and using lots of Father-god and Lordy phrases, and I know that we’re all getting sort of uncomfortable with this almost militant gendering of the Holy One. Finally, the pastor, who is sitting next to the man, nudges him, and he sort of comes out of his prayer trance and sits up, and it’s over.

More hints at something to do with bringing patriarchal assumptions to light. I don’t know how that might be something new for the coming year. I am really tired of battling the patriarchy, tired of sidestepping them and ignoring them and waiting for them to finish. I want to jump back to wings and fools and rainbows. Hmm. Maybe instead of battling the patriarchy, I need to be the Fool to the crumbling system in the coming year.

Oh, and there’s the Bibi, the grandmother. Maybe it’s time to let the grandmothers rest and begin taking on the work they leave behind.

What are the images and messages you are receiving? What animals are crossing your path? What is catching your eye in these days of Time Out Of Time?


Gratitude List:
1. Eating and laughing with good friends.
2. Sundogs
3. Wings
4. Making things
5. Watching and Listening

May we walk in Beauty!

The Twelve Days of Christmas: The Elf, the Fool, and the Lord of Misrule

“The Lords of Misrule,” by Rima Staines. She publishes her art and writing with Hedgespoken Press, in England. I got her little book Nine Praise Riddles for Christmas.

The song is sort of like the Christmas version of Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall. Will it ever end? It goes on and on, repeating the lists of ducks and swans and rings and dancers and servants until you just want the song to be done already! And it’s always on, in a thousand versions, all during the holiday season. But does anyone really know much about the Twelve Days of Christmas?

Like so many of our modern syncretistic celebrations, the Twelve Days of Christmas is a mishmash that holds within it the tradition of Catholic and Orthodox days of feasting and/or fasting and pagan mysticism and revelling, in this case Yuletide and Saturnalia. Shakespeare used this period as the setting for his play Twelfth Night, in which people take on different identities, and things are never as they seem.

These are the High Holy Days, Time Between Time, another period in which to meditate on the coming of the Light. These are also the days of the Lord of Misrule, when a young person or a peasant would perform the duties of the Lord of the Castle for this season, usually ordering wild parties and feasting and dancing. The Fool is ascendant, and the King takes orders. Having just finished a study of King Lear, I am pondering the strange wisdom of the Fool these days, and the foolishness of kings. No, I’m not making a political jab here. This is more inward, more mystical. We each have our own Ego-Ruler who sits on a golden throne and arranges things as they ought to be in order to maintain meaning and order. We also have an inner Child-Fool, who wants to set things tumbling, to play, to shift the patterns of inner law and order.

Have you ever noticed how much our modern depiction of Santa’s elves and their hats resemble to old Medieval fools and their foolscape? I have a slowly-growing theory that the Fool/Clown is so crucial to our human sense of equilibrium, and that this ancient western Medieval character of the Fool so satisfyingly fulfilled that role, that we have maintained the Fool in the character of Santa’s elves.

The “elf” hat my brother gave me for Christmas twenty years ago would look perfectly reasonable on Lear’s Fool. And here’s another thing: One of our favorite family Christmas movies is Elf. What is Will Ferrell’s Buddy if not the quintessential Fool? He doesn’t fit in “polite” society. He doesn’t know how to behave. He’s embarrassing and childlike. And he’s the wisest person in the story. The father kept trying to order things in his fashion, kept trying to maintain meaning in the only way he knew how: making money and having corporate power creates a safe social order. But Buddy came into his realm and, in that utterly cringey moment, sang, “I love you, I love you, I love you!” And the world began to topple.

This is a season when we recognize that the social order is not cast in stone, that kings fall and fools rise. Buddy the Elf gets a cynical city to believe in Santa Claus. The Fool leads the mad King through the storm and the fens. And, in the story that Christians are celebrating, a tiny baby turns the world upside-down. The child of a poor and insignificant family on the far-flung edge of the empire comes to upset the social and religious order.

Jesus is the Fool. He wanders, he questions, he turns everything upside-down, he tells his listeners, over and over: “You have heard it said, but. . .” This Holy Fool disobeys the law and order that have been set up by the people in power to maintain the power structures. Perhaps some of the struggle that Christianity faces today is that we keep wanting to make him the King. We want the seeming sense of the powerful ruler, and we eschew the seeming foolishness of the Fool. But in truth, the Kings are all mad and the Fool has wisdom to offer, if only we will hear.

His mother knew, didn’t she, when she spoke her prophecy poem while he somersaulted in her womb. He fill the hungry with good things and send the rich empty away. He will cast down the rulers from their thrones and raise up the lowly. Amen, Hallelujah. Here comes the Holiest of Fools.


Dreamwork:
If we keep up the labyrinth metaphor, these are the days of the walk out of the labyrinth–having considered what we lay down and let go on the inward journey, we now look at what we pick up for the coming year. I use Twelvenight for dreamwork. It’s more live Sixteennight for me actually, because I start really paying attention at Solstice. I mine my dreams for words and images that will accompany me into the coming year. I let the Fool of my dream-brain inform the Queen of my waking brain, offering up seemingly disjointed and disconnected ideas and words and pictures to break down the logical-intellectual meanings my day-brain has created.

This year, the valerian in the medicine I took to fend off that cold seems to have kept me sleeping well for days after. I have been sleeping deeply and satisfyingly in the last couple of days. This means I am not remembering much in the way of dreams. But this morning I woke up with this somewhat grammatically-challenged phrase in my head: “There’s more than two ways to think about it.”

My day-brain is a little offended. Duh! I’ve done that one already. I’ve meditated on both/and as a solution to either/or thinking. I’ve read everything by Richard Rohr on non-dual thinking. This is one of my core concepts. But the Fool wants me to learn it again, so who I am to fight it? More than two ways. . .


Gratitude List:
1. Fools and foolishness
2. Wisdom from unexpected places
3. b n v <–Sachs wrote that when he walked across my keyboard. Yes, Fuzzy Friend, I am grateful, so grateful, for the cats and for kitty kisses.
4. Chocolate
5. Days warm enough for me to take a walk.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Book

winterfarm

The Twelve Nights are finished. I might have resisted this waking up, resented this leaving of the cocoon, but for the bright surprise of the snow, the sun enlivening it to an almost unbearable shine, the way the Light shone so forcefully on this Epiphany day.

I have a jumble of words and ideas tumbling about in my brain from the past two weeks: Intuition, Birds of Prey (fierceness?), Aunt Lizzie (rampant creativity?), and the Book. As I made my Vision Board last week, the phrases “Unchain the book” and “Unlock the book” came into my head. And last night I woke in the middle of the night, and the phrase “Use the book” was skittering around in my brain.

So this Year my word will be Book. I tell my students that their lives are the stories of their own making. Some parts seem to be written for us, but even so, we write the meaning of the events that occur. We choose how the story is recorded within us, how we interpret our lives. This year, I will be the writer of my story. I will carry the satellite words of intuition and fierceness and creativity with me as well, and let them inform the story I create, both with my life and in my writing.

Gratitude List:
1. The young years. This is a wistful gratitude. With every passing day, I am noticing the baby days expiring on my youngest. I am gathering all I can of each tiny bit of baby sweetness into the jar of my heart to save for later. Here I am, Winnie the Pooh, standing at the edge of the Hunderd Aker Wood, watching Christopher Robin recede into the world. My heart is so full of the pride and the pain of it, the love and the loss of it.
2. I am grateful for their growing up, too. I treasure each new grown-up thing, how they think and wonder. Their curiosity. Their desire to know, to learn, to create.
3. Snow. Wasn’t that lovely? I love snow. It makes the cold feel worthwhile. It makes the winter feel real. It gives the dreamtime a blanket.
4. Those stripey clouds on the way home from school today. My carpool mates and I decided that they looked like the lines on a piece of notebook paper, just waiting for a poem. Or the ribs of a god (we’re listening to The Heroes of Olympus on our journeys). Or the oars of a great flying Viking ship.
5. The relationship of words to music. The musicality of language.

May we walk in Beauty!

Last Night of Twelvenight

jack-frost

Tonight is the last night of Twelvenight, the last of the Days of Christmas. Tomorrow morning the Light dawns. The Magi arrive. Watch for the Aha! what is waiting within you to be discovered?

Meanwhile, here in the dark nights of Winter, I have been ruminating on dreams and images, the ideas and words that have been floating around me in the days since Solstice, searching for my word for the coming year. I have some ideas: there are the recent frequent family references to my Aunt Lizzie along with her appearance in my dreams, there’s the eagle that keeps appearing at different places on my way to and from Lancaster, the calls to listen to my intuition, The Fool, the fire imagery. I’ll see if tonight’s dreams bring any sorting or synthesis. Tomorrow I find my 2017 Word.

Gratitude List:
1. That eagle again–this time sitting in a tree at Sam Lewis State Park as we passed on our way home this evening.
2. This sleeping thing seems to be working better lately. So much better. Of course, less disturbed sleep means fewer remembered dreams, but I’ll take the restedness over the dream-messages at this point.
3. I can’t stop writing about the sky. So orange this morning–deep, deep, glowing russet–and this afternoon a golden stair of light spiraling down through cloud.
4. Saying no, sorting, keeping what stuff is mine, but only that stuff.
5. The power of poetry to get students talking about emotions and internal landscapes.

May we walk in Beauty!

Give Yourself to Love

roots

Another year has dawned, Bright Ones! And of course time is a human construct. Where we begin to count its passage on this Wheel of the Year is utterly arbitrary. I like how it has come to be that we create a passage, a doorway in time, here in this place of winter, just after we have swung around the sun again and begun to whirl in toward Equinox. I love the Days Out of Time marked by the twelve or fifteen days of Solstice or Christmas to Epiphany. I revel in the dreamtime of these days.

I have been mining my dreams again for the word or phrase that I will take into this year. Several years ago, I woke up one morning with the word Palimpsest in my head. It became my word for the year, the idea that we live in layers, simultaneously experiencing the past and the present. The next year was Bridge. The next, Mystery and Secrets and Impeccability. And last year’s phrase was Bold Wise Counsel. Ooh. That was important. What will be my word for this year, I wonder? I have begun to wait until the Dreamtime of Twelvenight is officially over on Epiphany, so I will give myself these next five nights to settle. I think because we celebrated Epiphany Sunday at church this morning, I am particularly impatient this year.

Join me? Keep particular watch on your dreams (daydreams, too) and conversations in the coming days. What images keep coming back? What songs present themselves? What names keep surfacing in conversation? Be like the Magi, who followed their intuition and a star through the dark nights to seek their truth. What will be your words and images for 2017?

Here is a poem I wrote in 2015 about the impatience and the anticipation of seeking out the word or idea that I will use to shape and mold my story for the coming year:

Waiting for the Dreams
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

While I wait for the dreams to be complete
while I sit at the feet of winter
listening

waiting for the little bell to ring
for the sound of rushing wings
for the things born in darkness
to take form
to rise up–

while a vulture flies across my window
red root and plantain nourish and heal me
a lynx crouches by a granite outcrop in the meadow
the storyteller raises her voice in a chant of longing
and a silent girl turns the corner ahead of me

I sit down to work
and sleep overtakes me:
One more vision for the road
One more message for the journey

Gratitude List:
1. Give Yourself to Love. What a song. I loved Mindy and Jared’s version this morning.
2. The Magi–colorful, messy outsiders who followed their intuition and a star: What a story about stepping into the unknown dark to seek their truth with only the stars and their intuition to guide. Mindy’s tales of magi this morning: Giving, Resisting, and Being Honest.
3. Dinner with the family, reflecting on the ways in which our parents have inspired us, considering–in their presence–some of the legacy they have given us: noticing beauty, advocacy, mentoring others, using their own voices to empower others. The story of Grandpa wanting to send my mother to college, how Uncle Moses and Aunt Lydia told him to send her to EMC, which is where she met my father. The story of Joe Shenk introducing them, and of their first “date.” How series of decisions come together to make a story happen.
4. Those vultures, sunsheen on their black feathers, kettling above Columbia this morning.
5. An afternoon with my college friends. Dear, dear thoughtful people. There’s never enough time together, and yet even a few hours is satisfying. What a profound blessing it is to have friends who are family.

May we walk in Beauty!