Mater and Matrix

So, the Fool has embarked upon adventure–unprepared but winsomely present to each moment on the road–has learned the elemental mysteries of the universe from the Medium, and has studied wisdom and lore from the Secret Keeper. The next two characters the Fool meets are usually called The Empress and The Emperor. By renaming the Empress Matrix, I haven’t actually managed to entirely pull this character out of the gender binary, for matrix is the source, the womb from which we are born, the fertile Earth, the rock bed on which crystals are formed. This is the birth-giver, the bringer of life: fecund, nurturing, fruitful, generative. The German word mater, from which we get the word mother, comes from the Latin matrix.

This Matrix, unlike Neo’s computer simulation, is the source of all life, the life force that pushes dandelions through concrete and pulls forth the greening of the spring, draws forth the flower, and brings flower to fruit. Then the Matrix locks up that life force into the hard shell of the seed to begin the cycle all over again.

After acquiring knowledge and power from Medium and Secret Keeper, the Fool must take time to grow, and to carefully observe the cycles of life, to feel the Life Force that feeds the Fool’s own self. The Fool learns to tend and nurture life force in the presence of the Matrix.

Here is a poem I wrote several years ago about The Empress:

Message from the Empress
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

In the grove over the ridge, the trees
have broken into a flourish of pink,
lascivious against the rain-wet green,
a thousand mouths seeking a drink.

Let us riot too.
Let us fill our thirst.

Let us spread our blooming fingers,
opening our mouths and hearts, dancing
away ruin with bloom, lingering
with simple beauty, with aching fragrance.

Let us waft.
Let us be wanton.


The Matrix/Empress has no time for rule-making about bodies. Here is where the Fool learns about Embodiment, about Being a Body. Unlike certain strains of Buddhism and Christianity that stress transcending or mortifying the body in order to reach enlightenment or purity, The Matrix knows that the body is pure and right and holy. “Your body is a temple,” we were told in Sunday School, and were expected to hide and contain and control it. “Your body is a temple,” says The Matrix, “and it is meant to be celebrated and inhabited and experienced.”

How do you experience life in a body? Is it painful? Uncomfortable? Shameful? Joyful? Ecstatic? Primal? What meditations and movements, what breathing and noticing, can you do to more fully experience the deep sense of belonging in a body?


Gratitude List:
1. People who get it, who understand your story even when you need to speak around silent spaces. People who See you even when you feel like parts of you have become invisible.
2. Textile arts, particularly crocheting and knitting–how amazing that we can take one or two little sticks, and a piece of string, and make such amazing things? Knot and twist. There’s a life lesson in that, isn’t there?
3. Wood thrushes calling in the woods at Sam Lewis Park this evening.
4. Disc Golf. I didn’t play because we only have two sets of discs, but it was such a delight walking through the course as the boys played. Child 2 said to Child 1, “You’ll have to hurry up and get your license so we can do this whenever we want!”
5. Blue grosbeak, a constant visual presence at the feeder, and oriole, a constant aural presence in the holler.
May we walk in Beauty!


“If you feel thirsty, then
drink from your cup.
The birds will keep singing
until they wake up.”
—Franz Wright


“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” —attributed to Buddha and to Nelson Mandela


“Let fury have the hour.
Anger can be power.
D’you know that you can use it?”
–The Clash


“In order to write the book you want to write, in the end you have to become the person you need to become to write that book.”
― Junot Díaz


“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”
― Stephen King


“let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences”
― Sylvia Plath

Evening Encounters

My camera phone is pretty grainy, especially at distances, but if you look closely, you can see the spotty white breast of the wood thrush against the trunk on the lower left, and the curious deer in the trees on the upper right.

Last evening, we went for an evening walk up at Sam Lewis State Park. It’s easy sometimes to forget the glorious gems of we have in our own backyards. There is a series of walking trails through the woods around the crest of the ridge, over rock tumbles, through piney groves, along meadows, between mountain laurels and pawpaw trees. Massive oaks and maples stand sentinel at the edges of the woods.

I never really quite know where I am going when we set out on a trail at Sam Lewis. It’s probably no more than two or three miles of trails total, and they wind around and cross each other, and they’re all completely familiar. There’s no chance of getting lost, but I often think I am going to emerge from the woods at one point, and find myself at another point altogether. It’s not disconcerting or frustrating, partly because its so contained. It’s just a tiny bit mystical and dreamy. Probably it’s just me and my strange sense of direction, and maybe if I start walking up there several times a week instead of once every few months, I’ll develop an inner map of the place. I’m not sure I want to. I like the slight and utterly non-anxious disorientation, the sense of discovery.

It was a grateful and grounding walk.
It was St. John’s Eve, and I found a patch of St. John’s Wort at the edge of the meadow.
Down on the piney path near the big meadow, we encountered a wood thrush, who seemed completely unfussed at our presence, and sang a call and response with a friend further up the hill.
At one point, we were caught in currents that carried scent of pine, wild yarrow, and the freshly-opened buds of milkweed.
On a trail that wound around a group of giant boulders, we found some mountain laurel still blooming.
Around one bend in the trail, near one of the frisbee baskets, we met a deer. I’m not sure who was more interested in whom.
At the very top of the bald, where people like to go to fly kites, and where you can see the whole river valley laid out before you, evening breezes came tumbling up over the ridge.
The paths go from gentle ramble to strong and steady upward climb. My legs and lungs were glad of the exercise.

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


“Inside a moment, centuries of June.” ―Emily Dickinson


African proverb:, “When death comes, may it find you fully alive.”


“I think there ought to be a little music here: hum, hum.” ―Mary Oliver


“Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” ―Albert Einstein


“I do know one thing about me: I don’t measure myself by others’ expectations or let others define my worth.” ―Sonia Sotomayor


“Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.” ―Buddha


“I have something that I call my Golden Rule. It goes something like this: ‘Do unto others twenty-five percent better than you expect them to do unto you.’ … The twenty-five percent is for error.” ―Linus Pauling