Riversleigh Manor House
Riversleigh Manor is a rambling old house with twenty five private quarters. This house was once the house of Lord and Lady someone or other and was later acquired by the Abbess and belongs to the Lemurian Abbey. Paths lead through the Grove Seed Grove to the Gypsy Camp, the Hermitage and the Lemurian Abbey. Riversleigh Manor is the base home of those who have decided to come ad find the Magic Faraway Tree, which is said to be within the Enchanted Golden Seed Grove.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Copyright 2006 Karen Winters
May Day - Butterfly Cyclamens
Saturday, April 29, 2006
May Day Celebrations
The Feast of Valborg and May Day
The Feast of Valborg, on the 30th of April, is often translated as Walpurgis Night.
Normally, Spring is already well established in the southern reaches of the country, while northerns will still have to wait a few weeks longer. Nevertheless, this is the evening ---- swedes welcome in the Spring. The holiday is especially celebrated in university communities. In Uppsala, site of Sweden's oldest university, students gather by the thousands in the afternoon and don their white caps to mark the change of seasons. (Nowdays, students actually only wear these caps on the Feast of Valborg and at other student festivities.) They listen to traditional hymns to the Spring and student songs, to speeches hailing the end of the dark, dank cold winter and the return of the sun and summer greenery. Many parties are held in the evening. Similar traditions have grown up in Sweden's younger universitiy town's too. In Lund, many of the festivities take place the day after, on the first day of May.
The rest of Sweden "sings in the Spring" in similar fashion, often around large community bonfires. Once peculiar to the eastern part of the country, in recent decades the custom of building bonfires has spread throughout central Sweden.
The idea of the Feast of Valborg as the first day of Spring is perhaps most widespread in Swedish towns and cities, while spring traditionally reaches the countryside the following day, especially in the south.
May Day celebrations clearly have a longer history than Valborg. May Day was often the occasion for outdoor picnics, with games and contents of various kinds. Eggs were prominent in May Day games and meals. In modern times, as in other countries, May Day is primarily Labour Day, with parades and speeches by labour leaders and socialist politicans. It was proclaimed an official holiday in 1938.
Author: Ingemar Liman
Translation: Charley Hultén
Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
For those who seek something more than a house to live in ...
from my book "Henge,Glade and Tiers" about Sakin'el and Tegsh
There is a special magick when a house becomes a home, when treasures are installed in a special spot instead of being buried in a memoried box; when each glimpse through a stacking of doorways provides a framed tableau that transcends the planned simple arrangement of chair, basket and vase. Of course, when one has the opportunity to see for another, and to describe the joy of play of light and darting shadows, then the sharing takes on a life of its own. She has shown me so much -- yet artistry you will never behold for a new magick will be found when you are here, my friends. Come and let me know what you see.
From outside one can only see a house, and whether entering as guest or uninvited, you may capture a little of my sense of awe -- and this is surely grand, unless you sadly feel that one embrace tells you very much of me, or life, or why I placed the broken pot just so. Yes, it would simplify our connection if we tumbled love's artifacts together in some 'ticky-tacky' way, or covered any sense of 'work' in piles of unfinished projects. But then, why would you return? It is my chosen task that you may return to Sakin'el again and again to capture a magick moment, an entwining of your fine passion and yearning, to which Em and I might add a stroke of enduring dream. By this we will be known -- not as a brief firefly in the dark.
So, please do not just peek through a window or come only on a stormy night. This place is entranced to have a life of its own with rooms like children whose laughter in more enthralling than sight or name. Perhaps more can be perceived of Sakin'el in silent contemplation that in a hurried dash in which some judgment must apply. I am reminded of an ancient English custom of building houses in a hamlet. Each had but two windows; one looking onto the market square teeming with human life and folly. The other looked out and away -- to other worlds and dreams. The front room was always neatly kept with flowers and hand made shawls and children's crafts. The other view was hardly ever so well kept, filled with life's disarray and even pain. Possibly any order here came from loneliness or avoidance of life's joys -- doubt there were many mirrors there either. Yet, all was safe, for no-one would ever peek through that window out of respect, and possible shame over what their own back room contained. Did a citizen there then present a false view of self, or dream, or touch of love? Or in their simplicity did they recognized that every person has many facets of self, some more polished than others? Which then is the 'real' person; or should it not be enough to recognize that here is a gem in the making.
I am now blessed with another spirit close bound that will be an endless mystery -- a thousand petaled lotus to unfold. What a joyful dance! And this sojourn together will cause me only a small sadness for those who know another but a little and would make any judgment or guess as to who they really are.
life's goal may be profound and illusive
but today's call is simple.
hear a song,
read a poem
speak some reasonable words.
the scrolls of Eskiyalı
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I found this today and thought it would be appropriate here.
A Myth of Devotion
by Louise Gluck
When Hades decided he loved this girl
he built for her a duplicate of earth,
everything the same, down to the meadow,
but with a bed added.
Everything the same, including sunlight,
because it would be hard on a young girl
to go so quickly from bright light to utter darkness
Gradually, he thought, he'd introduce the night,
first as the shadows of fluttering leaves.
Then moon, then stars. Then no moon, no stars.
Let Persephone get used to it slowly.
In the end, he thought, she'd find it comforting.
A replica of earth
except there was love here.
Doesn't everyone want love?
He waited many years,
building a world, watching
Persephone in the meadow.
Persephone, a smeller, a taster.
If you have one appetite, he thought,
you have them all.
Doesn't everyone want to feel in the night
the beloved body, compass, polestar,
to hear the quiet breathing that says
I am alive, that means also
you are alive, because you hear me,
you are here with me. And when one turns,
the other turns--
That's what he felt, the lord of darkness,
looking at the world he had
constructed for Persephone. It never crossed his mind
that there'd be no more smelling here,
certainly no more eating.
Guilt? Terror? The fear of love?
These things he couldn't imagine;
no lover ever imagines them.
He dreams, he wonders what to call this place.
First he thinks: The New Hell. Then: The Garden.
In the end, he decides to name it
A soft light rising above the level meadow,
behind the bed. He takes her in his arms.
He wants to say I love you, nothing can hurt you
but he thinks
this is a lie, so he says in the end
you're dead, nothing can hurt you
which seems to him
a more promising beginning, more true.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Maya' Portrait - light study
Maya, in this photo taken Sunday, reminds me of the little girls on biscuit tins of the thirties. Those beautiful brown eyes deep in thought. All that lovely roundness in both her face and her curly blond hair
AH,,stepping back into my home away from home is joyous. Life has so many little stumbling blocks which often redirect our actions from what we wish to do but if that were not true perhaps we would loose a degree of appreciation of the little joy in our life. I think I also had better adapt that attitude to the weather. On the way up the path to the manor house from my visible world it actually snowed. That is ironic as this is what I was planning to share with you:
For too many mornings our skies have been gray
but now the sun breaks through the eastern window
and floods my soul with joy.
The mountains glow as the rising sun
filters through the mist and clouds.
And frost the branches of the barren tree
with silver light; "Connection with the divine."
Highlights touch the heads of a pair of blackbirds
greeting daylight with a mission of duty.
He plucking everything useful from the branches
and she plucking and returning to the building site.
I have to smile as I watch their morning goal
as again the little wife does all the work.
Every time he opens his beak to pluck anew
the excellent branch last plucked
floats to earth, unused.
Snow almost all melted,
mountains only snow capped a bit,
barren trees show signs of budding
and birds building their new spring nests.
I do believe we will soon have spring.
A little paint
Our Manor House , now near a century old,
has a most curious floor plan – by today’s needs.
The entire front of the house is ‘guest friendly’,
and residence would have used the back porch entry.
This gave ready access to kitchen and the staircase
to the three bedrooms, bath and kitchen nook upstairs,
(and a myriad other secret rooms and cozy places).
The main entry has a large covered porch (370 sqft),
in an ‘L” shape that allows a corner door into the ‘parlour’.
This first room sweeps across to the formal dinning side,
together a ‘great area’ 16’ X 30’ with fireplace.
Doors lead into a separate ‘sitting room’ (now a family room),
and the kitchen (16’X16’ with two pantries).
Anyway – I am finally getting around to redoing the front room.
There are many cracks in the ancient ‘lath-plaster’ walls,
and some remnants of water damage on the ceiling.
The windows are fine – fine dark wood frames and original
‘wobble glass’ – so I don’t have to paint those, but care
must be given to protect and seal. There is a wood rail
set all around the room above the windows
that calls for a different color treatment. The added 15”
to the ceiling will remain white, I think; as will the beams
and open spaces of ceiling also cracked here and there.
To hide the patches and irregular texture of repairs,
I have decided to first paint a dark mauve –
then follow with a lighter pale amber using a sponge technique
to replicate wall-paper. I’ve never tired it, though.
The point of this is how I feel – covered with plaster dust,
teetering on ladders – scrapping, sanding, taping …
‘At peace’, that’s what. For this house speaks to me – her name is Tegsh –
and with each stroke and caress she releases some of the love mem’ries
trapped within the walls, and I am taken back to dances, parties –
and laughing children – and a sadness …
that no one else has cared to help her live again.
Monday, April 24, 2006
The Muse has Struck
I was in the Salon du Muse, minding my own business, reading a poem, when The Muse struck:
"Once upon a mid-night dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore....."
What? Get real. I am really fed up with this whole "feeling sorry for myself" thing. I want to go shopping instead. My goodness, do you really think I sit around all day waiting for some silly bird to drop in and leave droppings all over my house? No, I am a woman with a charge card so I'm outta here.
Now, where to go? Rodeo Drive and Montana Avenue? No, too high-end for my budget. No, this is not just any ordinary shopping trip. I want to swing around Neptune and have a latte with the space aliens, then I'm going to plunge to the bottom of the Mariana Trench and buy some "glow in the dark" antennae from the Angler Fish. (Won't they look lovely on that new purple hat I just bought on Mars?) Hmmm, then it's on to the Philippines to go shoe shopping with Imelda-- she knows all the good shoe stores. Then, I'll stop in Rio and pick up a glittering costume left over from Carneval. (Won't I be a sight when I put all this on?)
When I'm finished, I'll be thoroughly exhausted and will need to head back home to soak my feet. But, just to be nice and because I actually like that old Raven, first I'll stop at Petco and get him a pound of birdseed and a sparkly new chew-toy.
And then it will be back to those dreary books.
L. Gloyd (c) April 24, 2006
Sunday, April 23, 2006
M - Moon Madness
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Staying behind at Riversleigh, has led me to come across some very incrediable characters. These beautiful ladies reside in a large, refurbished potting shed, on the west side of the property. They spend most of the day light hours quietly working in the numerous gardens, surrounding the manor. As I take my daily strolls through the grounds, they gather close together and speak among each other in low tones, with somewhat of a foreign accent. Rumors inside the house suggest they are sisters with sorted pasts. I would like to introduce myself, but I am also enjoying my splendid aloneness. Perhaps another day. And, I am still searching for the violin player, who eludes me each time I search for that beatuiful sound. Their presense here has inspired a poem for the gardner.
The Inimitable Gardner
Secret soft morning
Brown exotic sanctuary
Stroll beneath a yellow sun
Breathe the garden path
Fresh green spring explodes
Sweet sacred sprouts
burst above, emerge between
a blanket of stone
Rose species listen to the worm
Bees protect lengthly tendrils
which shade the harsh nature winter
Flower berry fruit reflect song
Trowel and clay pot hide in trunks
Spider and ant shine with light
Tranquil rain must come
Dirt becomes a moist bouquet
Where lost Eden,
is an ornament root cellar.
Friday, April 21, 2006
This is what I am bringing! Does anybody actually sleep at a slumber party?
Faery Tarot cards
Old Records (I hope someone has a record player)
Spooky Stories (although Anita Marie might do the honors here)
Greywing, Lorijayne's faithful carrier pigeon, brings a message that there are goings on at the Stream of Mnemosyne........
Cool! I have my cosy fleecy nightie on and my sheepskin lined slippers - I love the cold nights at Riversleigh.
Movies - I brought along two of my favourites, Chocolat and Pirates of the Caribbean. I know the rest of you won't mind a Johnny Deppfest.
For food, hot chocolate with marshmallows and some chestnuts to roast in the fireplace.
While you slept
a voice more lightning than gentle wind
I lay here in the Manor swing,
with room for but one when I recline –
but when I sit straight and tall,
there is room for you
to nuzzle close
if you wish.
Forth and back in measured pace,
the shoulder-leaning space is claimed
by caressing mem’ries of pause,
close flickering breath
of ever love
I do not swing for gentle peace,
but to listen to the fervent call
of the awesome voice of now,
flash of shadow bright
heard by my soul
In the broad sweep of human strife,
with turbulent clouds of angry fear –
crash lightning cries of lonely,
hands reaching through tears
sweated by running
away from self
I am pulled up and off once more,
lamp in hand and ready whistled song,
to reach within the torrent
to those open hands
and silent hearts
forth and back,
criss-cross shadows –
listening to the silver thread …
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Oh! Goody! A slumber party at Gwen and Shiloh's room!
Jammies are easy. My husband gave me flannel Eyore pajamas several years ago. Multiple little Eyores are floating on clouds in a blue summer sky. The trimming is rows of dinky white pom poms. The flannel is worn down to threadbare cotton, soft as skin. The jammies replace a yellow cotton nightshirt sporting tiny blue and white penguins trimmed in baby pink satin cord. He chose the penguin nightshirt when I was shopping for something unabashedly sexy. I was a week away from delivering our first son and felt enormous. I found a lovely robe for the hospital but not a sexy nighty. Unbeknownst to me, he bought the nightshirt to give me later. I loved it. That was almost 20 years ago... that lovely nightshirt has long disintegrated. Perhaps it is resurrected in the Riversleigh laundry...
Movies are easy too. Wuthering Heights. I love the naughty, headstrong Cathy and haunted, brutal Heathcliff. A ghostly love story. Then Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice...
And a book or two to give chills. "They Went That-a-Way", the true stories of unusual ways famous and infamous people died. Followed by "After the Funeral" the continuing histories of corpses that did not get to rest in peace. The pieces are short, macabre and hilarious. Fun to read aloud.
Food is easy as well. Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. For libation, root beer frozen around maraschino cherries, served in frosty mugs of root beer.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The Path of Pain to an Alternate World
Ronnie sat on the side of the bed staring vacuously into space, but not for long., It was not healthy to let her mind wander, not any more, and it was inconceivable that it would ever be again. she would have to wait until little sister had her shower. Time was not passing very quickly at all, no matter how greatly she needed it to. Ronnie's mouth just inside the lip was swollen and sore from all the biting she had been doing. Pain causing herself to remain distracted from the place, that very dark place which her mind kept wandering back to.
She rocked back and forth trying desperately to think and feel anything but the touch of his skin, the smell of him, even the taste of him. Ronnie had been keeping a pearl hat pin by her bed, the pain of sinking it into her thigh would stop the thought and sensations streaming into her. Life would not be entirely her own until she could control it. She was angry and hurt but not defeated.
In some twisted way it may even have helped that her mother had been less than kind, less than helpful. Her rapist was mother's friend and her response "you just don't want me to have friends" raised her anger to such levels the sadness burned off, instantly and did not come back. The shower stopped running and she put on her dressing gown and slid quickly into the shower, and as she had for the preceding week scrubbed and scrubbed until her skin was raw and all she could smell was the scent of her soap, the one given her as a present from mom because she had admired the illustration on the wrapper of the bar of "Maya". It suited her, because the scent too was aggressive, angry, passionate.
Sleep was fitful, interrupted by sensations of crawling skin and the awful feeling there was someone hiding in the shadows of her room. Ronnie tried praying but it was dissatisfying, she felt disassociated from a god who did not save her. What kind of deity gives a rapist free reign on a girl, and innocent child who does not even have the kindness of a mother to come home to. In the early morning Ronnie was up, stretching, checking out her posture and alignment in the mirror.
Slowly, over a few more weeks the girl in the mirror became Ronnie and Ronnie herself disappeared. The girl looking back at her was a dancer, a graceful slip of girl with no personality of her own. A beautiful creature with complete control over her body, able to keep away pain in favour of beauty. She was alone with her favourite music every moment she could. Her teddy bear was shelved and in that sacred place next to her bed her ballet slippers now were there at night to watch over her.
Ronnie had not liked her life a very long time now, six months for a child is a very long time. Her father sprung it on the family that he had a new job that would take him to the other side of the world and all things familiar, despite all protestations were gone. No more toys, no more school chums, no more relatives or pets. Her mother, always unstable and largely unavailable had become even more so in the months after moving overseas, and her little sister, well she was only three, daddy was either working or dealing with mother and sister. Ronnie was "older" and could manage to spend some time alone.
The only escape left in her entire life was ballet class. concentration and pain to control her body so she would become the perfect instrument for a choreographer to paint with made the escape to the other realm easy. Simply, when the music played and the grippy rosin had been evened out by crushing it into fine powder underfoot her spirit, the indefinable soul driven person inside took over. For as long as the music and the rosin held out she could dance and live in another world where none of this had ever happened, nor ever could.
Ronnie had several months to her immediate goal, an audition. The offer made to her by a choreographer with whom she had taken some master classes was going to become a reality. Every fibre in her body was working only to that goal and nothing else. If she was not totally dedicated before, the attack on her innocent body had made it a certainty, it would happen. Parents were no obstacle, mother was self involved and father was involved with mother's needs and would happily concede whatever it took to make life as easy as possible.
Her school work remained immaculate and done on time, she now spoke English as well as anyone else. Those clever people at the board of education had made it so easy to succeed in this grade because she had done it all before, in dutch, yes, but it had not seriously warranted pulling her back a grade as if she was an idiot. It did seem as if the world was conspiring against her. It could work for her, Ronnie had the determination not to let the bastards win by breaking her spirit, not the school board, not immigration, not her mother, and not her rapist, most definitely not him.
She knew how hard it would be. Her hips, her Flemish hips, were too wide. Though a few months ago she was the right height by now she was a couple of inches over the ideal. Her turnout was barely sufficient and her extension would need a lot of improvement. What her teacher did not know, was that all the discouraging words were not working, Ronnie took all those words and used them to build herself a master plan, it was critique of the most constructive kind.
What was unthinkable was returning to being just Ronnie, a child., that had forever been taken away from her. If her plans for a life in the ballet would fall through she would have to face all the demons at once. Demons such as the impossible role of the virgin bride which this little catholic child would never be. Demons such as the other men who would want to touch her, and were perfectly wonderful people, but she could not bear their touch and would not want them feeling hurt by her revulsion. Perhaps the greatest demon was her anger, which had been building up for months and could take on a life of it's own, she could not let the demons out.
So no matter how her toes hurt and bled it was nothing compared to the pain of having to be "normal", when that ship had sailed and sunk in the harbour, but not before being lit up in flames lapping at every timber and sail. For as long as she could keep dancing, she could be civil to her fellow persons, laugh at their jokes and ignore comments such as "she's stuck up" and "I think her bun might be wound a little too tight". If she could keep on dancing she could be a good daughter and sister. If she kept on dancing she would be tired enough to sleep a few hours from the sheer exhaustion.
Ronnie knew eventually her body, which was clearly wrong for the ballet, wide hips and hyperextended limbs, but it would buy her time. Each passing hour and day would leave the horror of that day, that sweltering summer day pinned under the fat sweaty, hairy heaving bastard far behind. She could envision herself melting into the ground, reassembling as a slight figure in a gauzy skirt, executing perfect fouèttés and seemingly suspended at the top of every jèté so the audience would gasp. Eventually a time would come, a time after the audition, many auditions, many performances, many, many more classes when the sweaty bastard was not even an image anymore, he lived on only in the occasional inexplicable anxiety triggered by a smell or taste or aversion to certain people. Unfortunately the time would come when those perfect fouèttés and jètés were excruciating and another plan needed to be put into place or the demons would do all they could to destroy her. for now Ronnie was dancing, and it was good.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
On the Road Again......
I'm going on my first adventure! I have no idea what I'm supposed to do, but I'm going to hit the road at dawn. I'm headed towards the Faraway Tree. I'm a bit baffled by this tree since neither my library and my bookstore can provide me with the book that tells about it -- it's out of print. So I will have to take the Sybil's word that climbing the tree will get me to where I am supposed to be.
I'm taking my backpack with plenty of bottles of cold, sweet spring water, chocolate and marshmallows for making 'Smores, a copy of D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, my sasparilla walking stick and lots of clean Gypsy underwear (magenta silk and gold lame').
I will be sending back reports via carrier pigeon so stay tuned.............
A turn in the road, a gap in the trees and I finally see Riversleigh Manor House. It is just as I have imagined it, a Georgian house, with manicured lawns to the front and side, gardens to walk in filled with flowers of every type and colour and a lake to the rear with rowing boats moored near the house.
I walk up the drive aware that I am decidedly under-dressed for this house and feeling apprehensive and excited at the same time. I am carrying two bags, one has a few clothes in it and the other some volumes of music - there must be a piano here after all! - and a few art supplies including thread and fabric, a book to alter, and a pen and writing paper....
I arrive at the front door of what appears tobe a country hotel and find that there is someone at the door waiting to greet me and and show me to my "space" as she calls my room. I enter my room and gasp with delight. There is a huge desk, a table for art and art supplies in abundance, a sewing machine - and yes, in the corner of this room there is a piano. I say "this room" because there is a door into the next room which contains a double bed, a radio, and a bathroom complete with bath .....the rooms are painted in a calm cream colour, the floors are polished wood and it is warm and comfortable. From somewhere the powers that be have found photos of my children, my late husband, my new partner and have put them on the wall. There are flowers everywhere, huge abundantly filled vases, and the scent fills the rooms. On one wall there is a vast bookcase filled with books I have long wanted to read, books that will encourage, inspire and motivate me. I know I have arrived in my personal version of heaven.
Later I wander downstairs to see who else is living in Riversleigh and I find myself in a loving and caring community. We are all nervous, nervous of the situation, of what will be expected, of each other but especially of our own ability to make the best use of this time that has been gifted. Nevertheless, as we talk to each other, learn about our stories and histories, our fear diminishes and the laughter begins. We have discovered a community of kindred spirits. What greater blessing could possibly exist?
I walk the grounds and down by the lake I look into the water and see the great trees that surround the house reflected in the still water. I step into a rowing boat and spend an hour talking to myself as I row around the lake, talking story, talking healing, talking peace. Then I return to my room, have a long long bath, take one of the books out of the bookcase, put the radio on (bliss.....there is some Bach being played) and climb into my clean white bed to read and then write up my daily journal. And so my first day at Riversleigh draws to a close. Tomorrow there might be a class, a guided meditation, there are walks and excercise classes, art groups and writers workshops scheduled. I might join one of two of them, I might spend the time in retreat....it will be my decision. I stretch out in the white bed and drift into a deep and drealmless sleep.....................
I wish I was at Riversleigh now, in my real life, in my real self. For now though, I am at the Manor House in my mind, the perfect setting, the perfect space, the perfect friends. I hope to spend my time here over the following months, a counterpoint to the real world where I am soon to remarry and where I have, at present, no room of my own where I can be creative, and no friends as I have just relocated and lived amongst strangers.
Friends, I have just developed the film I took as I arrived at Riversleigh, and I wanted to share what I found. I took this picture as I was riding up the drive, dust swirling around my beat-up pickup truck. Framed by the massive oaks in front, Riversleigh looks monumental to me, a girl used to the mill houses and mountain houses of the foothills.
The day was calm, and though you can't tell, y'all are all on the porches having tall, cold glasses of tea. I remember seeing the gauzy curtains that mask the floor to ceiling windows swirling in the breeze, allowing glimpses to the life inside.
Is this up or is this down? I felt like Alice when I looked skyward in the foyer. I dusted myself off to make sure I was clean enough to come into a foyer like this, though I was assured that appearances mean little at Riversleigh.
I was briefly able to stake claim on my room, the former sewing room of the mistress. With yellow walls and green and blue accents, the room was exactly what I had pictured. Is that possible- Riversleigh knows what one pictures and makes itself so? Baskets and containers of yarns, needles, fabrics filled the spaces around the few pieces of furniture- a bed, nightstand and chest of drawers (known as a chester drawers where I'm from). Oh, and a trunk. A big trunk.
Oh yes. I peeked. Of course I peeked.
Sparrow girl - Easter and the Laws of Thermodynamics
The rituals of the Christian calendar were a mystery to me when I was little. I lived in a predominantly protestant part of the Netherlands, but in my case my parents raised me without a religious identity of any kind. My parents were not of the same religion, one was protestant and the other roman Catholic, neither attended church, in fact both had turned their back on the religion of their childhood in favour of those being explored by my somewhat eccentric and always existentialist parents. By age four, when this memory of mine takes place, my parents were following the teachings of the Buddha quite seriously, and also exploring the occult and paranormal as a bit of a hobby.
I had come to accept Christmas as a time for decorating trees and eating lots of good stuff with friends and family who were rarely seen the rest of the year. The significance of the history of this wonderful feast were not known to me. Easter also was a time for special foods and candies rarely seen at other times.
Eggs of course were part of daily life, or at least nearly so. My eggs were normally soft boiled and in an egg cup accompanied by a slice of toasted bread. The anticipation of this breakfast was in itself an event. My mother miraculously timed the egg to perfection and the toast had been toasted alongside on the cast iron stove in the kitchen all was warm and fragrant, and the egg was soft and runny.
This was before the mass raising of chickens who never saw the light of day. These eggs came from chickens most often known to us personally or from one of the merchants at the market, who came with cage of birds also sold (unbeknown to vegetarian me to become meat for soup). The eggs had bright yellow yolks and were mixed brown and white, some had feathers and straw stuck to them so they always required washing before cooking with them.
I very much liked chickens. I had spent much time sitting with them in the chicken house at the back of my grandmother's house in Rotterdam. Not unlike cats they cuddled of you stroked and petted them, and they made a wonderfully calming sound when you did.
Easter was a time for hard boiled eggs, lots of them, best of all we painted them. They were boiled with beets and others with onion to turn them red purple, yellow and orange, and the rest was painted with watercolour paint and a fine brush. My mother would meticulously plan the painting and first pencilled the outline on the eggs and then I was allowed to fill in some of them with pain in whatever colour I chose. some also had words on them, but I could not read. Mostly I filled in the circles and flowers and triangles. The eggs were for friends and family and neighbours so there were several dozens of them.
We kept some, of course, and I always hoped some would not be claimed and we would have even more. Hard boiled eggs sliced on toast with mayonnaise and a little black pepper was a bit of heaven and we so rarely had them that way. At new years when there were visitors we had them on small squares of toast with mayonnaise ad pickle. Being that we had little money the slices had to be very thin as we had many friends and not so many eggs and pickles. It was not looked down on or thought of as cheap, everyone was pretty much in the same boat, the point really was one of hospitality, sharing, not showing off.
The most often seen wildlife in the Netherlands was the bunny. Rabbit was a frequent pet and a staple meat, across the street one of the families who lived in a house with a yard used the bunnies to keep the lawn trimmed and every spring there would be a new set of bunnies doing the moving. It did not occur to me then but I suppose the previous year's bunnies were used in soup and stews through the winter.
At the baker and the local candy shop (Jamin's) bunnies, chickens and eggs appeared this time every year in chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and even white chocolate. some were covered in tin paper, pink and blue and green. Baskets holding several confections on a grass made of stringy tissue paper and tied up with a bow was the thing of dreams. I'd never had a basket like that and I was jumping up and down in front of the window to see it better. Oh if only I could have the pink basket with the chicken and little eggs on green grass tied up with a bright blue bow.
Easter morning my feet hit the cold linoleum but the cold was not a concern, I was wholly focused on what the Easter bunny might have brought me. I peeled around the corner to the living room and there sitting on the coffee table was the most beautiful basket with a big brown chocolate chicken surrounded by a variety of little chocolate eggs, some in tin paper and others covered in a sugary shell of candy pink and robin's egg blue.
After breakfast consisting of the treasured toast with hard boiled egg, mayonnaise and black pepper we were going for a walk. The day turned out o be very sunny and quite warm. I only needed to wear my green cardigan over my lilac dress. I wore my Sunday best shoes and little white gloves. I would not leave the basket with the chicken behind. I carried it proudly over my arm. I resisted eating any of it since it looked so beautiful just as it was and I wanted to be seen with it.
As no day is entirely perfect it was inevitable some part of the day would not deliver only that which was good. The sun, the warm and wonderful sun, alas proved a little too warm. slowly during our walk on the sunny side of the street had melted the chocolate chicken into the green tissue paper which looked like grass. I noticed it only when we were nearly home. I was inconsolable. My parents who were not made of money, and even if they were there was not one candy shop open on a Sunday would and could not replace the chicken or the one or two eggs that had also melted. Instead, very patiently my parents sat with me several hours, and slowly peeled the tissue paper away from the chocolate as best they could. The smallest bits of chocolate found their way on a thickly buttered slice of fresh bread, happily consumed by a little girl. A little girl who'd just learned something about sunlight and the effects it can have on substances such as chocolate. Happily the bow and basket were spared being mucked up with melted chocolate so the basket was entirely useable still and for years to come was taken shopping to the market (real and imagined) and later would house my Lego. We received many compliments on our painted eggs, and received so many eggs in return that happily there were many more days of eggs on toast than I dared hope for. What a lovely holiday!
Monday, April 17, 2006
Some foodies my remember the Boat Fruit Tree I found in Duwamish Bay. Well, it seems I have a Boat Palm growing out the front of my house. I don't think the donkeys can use it, Fran, but maybe you have some very small ones?
Sitting on my balcony at Riversleigh, watching its namesake course beneath me……
Where I live, there are no great rivers, no meandering behemoths, lush with green banks and teaming with fish; no rivers sacred like the Nile, no rivers pulsing with eternal life according to Revelation, no River Styx marking the boundaries between life and death.
Where I live, the river beds are dry and trash-strewn, their concrete walls tagged with grafitti art and choked with weeds bursting through the cracks in the cement,
when winter rainstorms sweep from the north, then the channels rage with torrents of boiling, gray swill, drawing the flood waters from the streets, and pouring the city’s filth into the bay.
On these days, I am reminded of the human condition: we turn dry and choked with all manner of negative thoughts and bad behavior until the storms of life churn us up, clean us out and bring healing to our souls.
So the next time I drive the freeway over an uninspiring river bed, I look to the horizon for storm clouds and wait for the healing waters.
Text and image: L. Gloyd © April 17, 2006
My Room at the Riversleigh Manor House
It is so peaceful here. This is a place where I can find rejuvenation and inspiration. My muse is stimulated here. I can really relax and not feel any pressure to perform beyond my limits. This is a place of non-judgement.
The walls change colour depending on my mood. Maybe blue to soothe me or yellow to give me some joy. I love this room and how it is mine alone. The furnishings change with my needs too - soft seating and cushions when I need to put my feet up and relax or a comfortable but serious, straight backed chair complete with matching desk for when I need to satisfy my muse with some creations. I love how it changes to accommodate me and I love to show it the same love it provides for me. When I'm ready, I step out of the room and explore by invitation the rooms of the other residents here. I share their joys and frustrations and anything else they bring to our dinner table. We eat together and support each other and I hope always to have a room such as the one I reside in at Riversleigh Manor. My room is so special that I don't think I'll ever be without it, wherever I may go.
The lost sister
She’s not really lost
It’s been many years
Since I have seen or talked to her.
I am so afraid
To talk to her
Will she be bitter?
Has life made her a hard person?
I have so many questions for her.
Mostly, what she remembers
Of our father.
He has been dead for many years
Now at 37
I never knew him as an adult.
I was 13 when he died.
And I was afraid of him too.
I grew up afraid of things.
Only now am I understanding to be brave
And what it means to have courage.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Butchart Gardens Dahlias
Happy Easter from Deadwood Hall
Here's an Easter Card for all my friends here at the Manor.
You didn't think this was going to be normal right? Good, here it is
Celebrate Life, Celebrate Fertility , Celebrate Marshmallow Peeps.
and I've counted my chocolate eggs, so no sneaking into my room and liberating a few from the basket!
At the Slumber Party
Heather and her sleeping self have come to the slumber party at Riversleigh Manor. After a long night even the crow's morning call cannot awaken Heather's sleeping self. It is likely that we are going to have to take her to healers who live deep within the Land of Stones.
Skritching -- by request
Perhaps you hear a faint distant scratching,
an interruption of reverie and song,
that draws on fears denied or yearning
but may be a signal of something wrong.
Is it tiny claws on cold hard stone
that tell of dark stairs and dim-lit halls;
or is it a pleading of terror
from a lost pet trapped within the walls?
“The window, the window,” you shriek
to skert inner-self more than companions,
for this high reach is thought protected
from prying eyes and perp intentions.
What dark-winged bird or furtive branch
would chance to disturb this sanctuary –
blessed haven of giggly chocolate
and bottled red passed reverently?
“Begone, away,” in spontaneous chorus,
becomes a chanting of protestation,
as slippered feet shuffle in off-beat dance
and flaying pillows release frustration.
Then the churning clouds of past twilight
protect again from the rays of dawning,
and the frost creeps once more in silence
and the garret panes tremble no warning.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Exploring Creativity & Mediums
Heather asked me to write a piece on creating with a different medium. I didn’t really think about painting as a different or new medium, until Heather asked. I just viewed it as a new experience and exploration of art and creativity. Sure, I have used paint before, generally I just slapped it onto the paper to create backgrounds for my artwork and in my journals.
I have always wanted to take art classes, but was never really encouraged to do so. I tried to take classes once before but I wasn’t happy with the teacher, we just didn’t hit it off and that put me off taking any more classes. This tutor is different, in the first two classes she showed us the basic techniques that we needed to work with acrylics, washes (watered down acrylics) and dry brushing (brushing acrylic straight onto the canvas without water). Then we were encouraged to just play. She told us that it was not about the finished product, rather the process.
Imagine my surprise when in my first painting I could ‘see’ trees in a bush scene. I was so happy with my first attempt that I wanted to keep going. I’m one of those people who need immediate gratification, if I hadn’t got it I might have given up before I had even started. The comments from my family and online friends were encouraging, so I have kept going.
Since that first painting I have been to four classes and painted several paintings. I bought myself a desktop easel, a variety of brushes, paints and canvases, which allowed me to continue my exploration. That is what I consider to be most important – exploration.
I am a creative person, for a long time my creativity was stifled. It was stifled by a lack of encouragement, a lack of self belief; and it was stifled by a cocktail of drugs meant to improve a mood disorder. What I found was that I needed to be creative, in whatever form that took, whether it was writing or art. It was a tonic that helped me through the darkest times.
A part of being creative is exploring and taking risks. It’s fine to keep creating in your usual style or medium, if that is what works for you. But what have you learnt? Sure, we are learning all the time, but it is through trying new experiences, mediums and techniques; and making mistakes that we grow creatively. So, do yourself a favour, take a class or try a new medium and explore your creativity.
© Megan Warren - April 2006
Our gifted purpose, be there one,
may enjoin to offer invitations;
though ‘tis said in scripture,
“many are called but few choose.”
My choice is to a fine wedding – a joining
of mind and spirit and dance of will –
but a PJ party may serve as well.
The Manor House at Sakin’el
could serve in echo or pretension
of the upper reaches of Riversleigh.
Find here rooms called Garret,
Sky, Forest and Council …
and Bath, of course –
which is why they come.
Guests come in pairs or alone,
in groups or imagination,
to soak in the claw-foot tub
midst candle flicker
and scent of oils infused,
in ways only women appreciate.
A trail of chocolates lures them on
to ablutions akin to ancient pools
and rebirth wells and forgiving springs.
You see, Pyjama is more of Pygmalion
than of mental ‘jam’ or ‘drama’,
and the giggles prancing in the halls
serve to mask the whispers
of a sharing of sisterhood
beyond my ken or need.
I will by choice and call
gather sword and buckler shield
and stand outside ‘neath Mistress glow
and guard the portals and secret paths,
far from the ebbing glow of unfolded spirit,
too bright by far …
that could consume my soul.
Friday, April 14, 2006
The Visitor, PART 2
Please read the first part of this story a few posts below...
The Visitor—Part 2
“Well, hey there, Sugar!”
“What are YOU doing here?”
“What? Can’t a friend drop by and say hello?”
“Yeah, right, like WE'RE friends,” I said as I pulled myself off the bed. Standing in front of the mirror was Arvilla. Tall, platinum blonde and gorgeous, she was dressed in a pin-striped business suit, pearls, and stiletto heels.
“That’s a different look. And what’s with the flaming entrance? That’s over-the-top, even for you!”
“What can I say, Sugar, it’s the twenty-first century and I’ve got to keep with the program.”
“Like I care. You didn’t answer my question—what are you doing here?”
“I heard you were taking a little vacation and I just wanted to stop by to see if I could be of some assistance.” Arvilla strolled across the room, grimacing at the furniture. She plopped herself on the chair and put her feet on my writing desk. She picked up my journal and began thumbing through it.
“I most certainly do NOT need anything from you.” I started picking up my clothes that had fallen to the floor.
“You only brought one set of clothes and no underwear—now that’s rustic, darlin’.”
She was right. How could I have forgotten underwear? “Um, I’ll pick some up at the Gypsy Camp. They have everything anyone would want.”
“Oh, yes, Gypsy underwear. How Bohemian of you. Dressing the part of a writer? You might as well, honey, because that’s as close to being a writer as you’ll ever be.”
“Just who do you think---!”
“Oh, looky here…..’ . I strive to transform reality through my words and images.’” Now, ain’t that a hoot and a holler.”
I rushed over to the table and grabbed the journal out of her hands. “Arvilla, get out! I came ten thousand miles to get away from you. You are NOT going to spoil this for me.”
There was a knock on the door. Glaring at Arvilla, I stomped to the door and yanked it open. Standing there was the Riversleigh Manor concierge backed by two beefy security officers, unsmiling in their black shades.
“Madam, I understand that you have a visitor. As you know, Inner Critics are not welcome on the premises.”
Dang, I’m not here a day and she’s gotten me in trouble already. “Yes, sir, you’re quite right, I understand. My ‘guest’ was just leaving.” I turned to Arvilla.
With a sigh, Arvilla dropped her feet to the floor and stood up. “Oh, alright! Don’t have a hissy fit. You’re just not much fun anymore, are ya, Sugar.”
I pointed toward the mirror. “Go!”
“I can’t get out that way. Where do you think we are? In a Harry Potter movie?”
The room began to vibrate and Arvilla spread her arms out to her sides. “Just wait until you have forty-three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing that you need me to edit! You’ll come a-runnin’.”
The room filled with intense yellow light and I could see Arvilla’s arms morph into enormous bird’s wings. With a harpy’s shriek, Arvilla began flapping them. She bounded through the French doors and off the balcony. I rushed to the railing and saw Arvilla gliding up the river valley towards the mountains. Looking over her shoulder, she yelled “I’ll be baaaaack……”
“And I’ll be ready for you,” I muttered as I slammed the doors shut.
L Gloyd © April 15, 2006
The letter C
I am not sure whether I should be writing this post here or at The Land of the Standing Stones!!
It has taken me some considerable time to work out what to put in my surrender box.
The box I have chosen is a clear plastic box that can at any time tell me what is in there. It is interesting to me that I have chosen a box that shows all and not one that hides it's contents.
I was driving myself mad trying to work out what to put in this blessed box. Why is it so hard? Thinking, thinking, thinking and analyzing with no clear result. After a week with this lack of success, I finally decided to surrender to my inner knowing and asked the question:
"What do I need to surrender?"
It took 24 hours, and I woke up knowing what I had to surrender. I knew it was right. I have felt so reassured to think that I knew all the time, even though I was hiding it from myself. And I am amazed at what I have learnt since. I feel that this is a big breakthrough which has been coming to birth for some time. Whoopee!
I'm so excited to be invited to join the manor! I received my invitation last night just before I went to bed and I spent the entire night dreaming about my room and what it was going to be like to live there. This morning I've been having my coffee and running around gathering the things I want to take with me. There's so much stuff, I hope you all don't mind that I'm a bit of a pack rat.
Oh my, I love this room! How did you ever find this bed? It's my grandmother's bed with the feather mattress. It even has the quilt I helped her make. We spent months working on that quilt. There is my writing table, I'll put my journal on it so it will be ready when I sit to write. I brought the clay piece my son made for me when he was just a little guy. It's full of pencils and pens, markers and crayons. I love seeing it there on the desk.
Let me see: now where am I going to put all this stuff I brought with me? Exactly ten steps from the bed is a wardrobe. I run my hand across it's smooth polished surface. It's tall, almost to the ceiling. It's made of a deep rich cherry wood with a fine tight grain. There are words carved above the door.
"This is the door to your fears and uncertainties. This is where I came from."
My room in the Manor is comfortable. It has hardwood floors and a bright berber carpet, recessed bookshelves filled with all my favorite history and art books, fine literature, and religious and philosophical treatises of all sorts. A map of Riversleigh hangs on wall and I was delighted to discover all the cozy places I could hole up and work. Though the room is furnished with only the most basic pieces—bed, writing table, reading chair, and chest of drawers—there is one item that seems out of place. On the wall over the chest of drawers, hangs a large silver framed mirror with inlaid amber around the glass. Its luxury contrasts the utility of the rest of the room.
I unpacked my sparse belongings—a change of clothes, a few special books, some toiletries, my writing and art supplies. I slid open the French doors and stepped out onto the balcony. I gazed at the valley below and saw the River ribbon its way towards the sea. In the distance I could see the mouth of the River, a vast delta spreading out like a large green lotus, spilling into the Bay.
As I leaned on the railing and tried to compose a poem in my head about the River, I heard a banging sound from my room. I rushed back in and saw the mirror over the chest rising and falling against the wall. As I grabbed the mirror to keep it from shattering, a glow emanated from it, filling the room with a orange-yellow light. I had been warned that Riversleigh was a place of unusual happenings so I wasn’t afraid or even surprised.
Holding the mirror firmly in place, I looked into it and saw it filling with a wall of fire. The flames writhed and shimmered but cast no heat. In the depths of the flames, I could see a dark speck grow larger and rush towards me. It grew into the figure of a woman. Just as the figure filled the entire mirror, a large pop sounded and I released the mirror and fell back on my bed, covering my eyes against a bright blast of light.
Silence enveloped the room and after a moment, I opened my eyes.
“Oh, no, not YOU!”
(to be continued)
Text and digital creation: L Gloyd (c) April 14, 2006.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Anita Marie Kindly Accepts...
Thank you for the invite Gwen and Shiloh!
Well, I'm a night person so I won't be bringing in jammies, however, I've picked out a very special dress to wear...do you like it?
This is a Victorian Mourning Dress, in my younger days I owned one and yes I wore it ( to a wedding...yes, a wedding ). I can safely say that if you weren't sad before you put this on you would be after a few hours.
With clothes like this I can understand why the Victorians weren't a happy bunch.
Movie Time from the Midnight Classics!
I just bought this and boy is it great! Don't worry though, its so bad its good and you'll have so much fun watching you won't have to time be scared.
Go on...admit it, this is what you think I'll make you eat right?
YOU SICK LITTLE MONKEYS!
This is my house specialty go on open your eyes and for Pete's sake who is that hiding under the table? Look, its REAL food.
In fact what I have here is Seafood Enchiladas and my family and friends love it when I bake this for them. I've enclosed the recipe so you can try it at home. Plus if you cut and past the link you can get metric conversions for the recipe
"These crab and shrimp stuffed enchiladas taste like the ones served at a popular Mexican restaurant in my area. After sprinkling the cheese over the enchiladas before baking, you can also garnish with tomatoes, cilantro, olive slices, or whatever other garnish you enjoy." Original recipe yield: 6 servings.Prep Time:15 MinutesCook Time:40 MinutesReady In:55 MinutesServings:6 (change)
· 1 onion, chopped
· 1 tablespoon butter
· 1/2 pound fresh crabmeat ( or chicken, crabmeat is kind of expensive )
· 1/4 pound shrimp - peeled, deveined and coarsely chopped
· 8 ounces Colby cheese
· 1 cup half-and-half cream
· 1/2 cup sour cream
· 1/4 cup butter, melted
· 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
· 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
· 6 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a large skillet, saute onions in 1 tablespoon butter until transparent. Remove the skillet from heat, and stir in crabmeat and shrimp. Mix in 1 cup shredded cheese. Place a large spoonful of the mixture into each tortilla. Roll the tortillas up around the mixture, and arrange the rolled tortillas in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
3. In saucepan, combine half and half, sour cream, 1/4 cup butter, parsley and garlic salt. Stir until the mixture is lukewarm and blended. Pour this sauce over the enchiladas, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Serve with the beverage of your choice, my choice is Sprite with a real lemon slice but knock yourself out...remember this is a FUN food.
Well, I'm all set, just let me stop by the cemetery and dig up a few more friends to bring along...oh wait,I guess if I want to keep getting invited to these things I should skip that? Okay, then I'll be right over.
An Open Invitation
Well, Heather love, I simply must do this!! I am issuing an open invitation to any and all Foodies (Soul Food Members for our new folk). We, Shiloh and I, are throwing a monster bash of a slumber/pyjama party. Everyone is welcome to attend. Just post on Riversleigh here, what jammies you would wear, or the goodies you'd bring, even what movies you think would be good for our pyjama party.
You'll find me in my favourite jammies, some obnoxious purple floral pants and a black tank top with my suede and faux sheepskin slippers. Rest assured, no one will have kitchen cleanup duty, I have 'magic' dishes, they wash themselves!! I don't think the Voodoo Woman that gave them to me thought I would ever use them like this... but that's another story, we'll save that for late at night during the pyjama party.
I look forward to staying up 'till the wee sma's and giggling, telling scary stories, watching old films and nibbling on food that 'masgically' has no calories, carbohydrates or fat!!! Amazing stuff!!
“Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me
What a long, strange trip it's been.” – The Grateful Dead
Yes, indeed, what a journey it has been and now that I have arrived at Riversleigh, I intend to stay for a bit. I understand the waters here have magical, rejuvenating properties. Even though I will rest from my travels, I don’t plan to be idle. I plan to write and create art as often as I can—daily if I can manage it. I used to write prolifically but a series of events, both personal and physical, sapped the creative life out of me. The Muse, ever a severe mistress, would not be silenced and emerged through my visual creations which I’ve been doing for a while now. Only a few days ago, she told me that I'd been too concerned with my worldly travels and that I had to find a place to rest and create—both writing and art-making. She threw me into a rickety boat and pushed me onto the battering seas of cyberspace. She tossed me onto the shores of Lemuria to the very doors of Riversleigh.
If I were to sum up my creative self, I would say that I am a historian by education, an observer of the natural realm by inclination, and a voyager through the world of spirit by compulsion. Whether I write, take photographs, or do digital manipulations and collage work, these themes--history, nature, spirit-- are infused and explored in each of my creative pieces. I strive to transform reality through my words and images. For example, I took this image of jacaranda blossoms above and transformed it into the mandala below.
So, I am very pleased that I have found this resting place, and I hope to get to know the other residents in this fine manor over time-- to see and share in your creative process. But in the mean time, can anyone direct me to the spa? I have an appointment for a facial and a manicure.
L Gloyd (c) April 13, 2006 (Images (c) 2004)
Triduum 7 - FINAL
This completes this series based on the
Triduum Retreat. I hope they have incouraged
new thinking about the significance of this
season in both religious and non-religious ways.
Gwen has started the flow of other ideas
about this 'burst of rebirth' time of year --
budding here, fading 'down under'. Let
us see more.
the last part of this posting links back to Triduum 5.
The sunrise mass seemed less important somehow -- unjust perhaps, but only because it was known, relived -- where so many other events had been first-time experiences. Weariness was setting in, and the litany by the children seemed endless. All of the preparation, praying, joining of spirit -- suddenly finished! Why did I not feel joy and exaltation over the celebration of the day? Our Lord has risen! I was not alone I sensed in the burden some seemed to carry. The sorrow of parting? A death of yearning still waiting to be reborn? We had a final discussion group to share experiences, but most people were silent -- mostly in deep internal reflection. I had written another piece that morning and almost did not share it. Many people asked for copies after I did -- something to take with them besides memories.
Did you ever wonder if there was anything special about that tree, you know, before? Was it just the next one off the pile or assembled late because of that last minute shilly-shally at Pilot’s place? When they cut it down was it just another tree, or scraps left over from a noble project like a ship or lintel post for a great Roman house? If it was somehow recognized for a special destiny, where are the branches and leaves? Were they burned with special reverence? Did the smoke sting the eyes or fill the dawn with incense? Did the billowing swirls lay close to the ground in a last clutch at humanity, or rise finger-like to the sky as a signal to the heavens? The time had come -- but did anyone know? Did the woodsman know the part he played in the prophecy fulfilled? Did the carpenter’s adz need a special edge to shape and notch the posts? Did the spikes temper unusually long in the smoldering coals of fate? How many played a part in that symphony of death?
I only know that it sits here now upon my rack of discarded, useless poles. I can smell the sweat and blood and wine that has seeped into roughened pores. I can hear in its weathered grain the cries of lament from women wailing there. One spike is still affixed where from sallow flesh it was torn. I touch, no caress, the soft hewn length and wonder at the scene. Aye, I was there! The sound of spikes on wood is ringing in my mind and I listen still for cries for help, or angry curse or plea. The hammer swings and my arms ache. No, there were only those simple words -- you know them well.
I am forgiven for my part.
I only want to know -- what am I to do with this accursed tree?
After arriving home I wrote two more pieces that I feel belong with the others -- perhaps because the experience of the weekend will never end. By these words, may it never end with thee.
Where are all the tears of yesterday;
Those that flowed from beneath the cross
To start that flood of silent passion
That washed away our ancient fears?
Have there been enough now shed
In two thousand slow passing years
To allow a small shout of joy
For what was accomplished for us?
Oh, we rejoice on Easter morn
To celebrate He is risen,
And has conquered forbidding death
That we mortals forever dread.
Yet, I have always been confused
O'er this part of scripture story.
Wasn't Christ's suffering as man
The real point of divine gift?
Our Lord understands our plight
And suffering we must endure,
And we can take prayerful comfort
In a Father that weeps for us.
So cry for my sad sins and yours
And weep a bit in guilt and fear,
But drop a tear of joy or two
That he died in this special way.
Then I turned to writing a letter to my new friend, the sister of anguish described above. I crafted the piece shared before and then added a response -- you may wish to re-read that passage first.
I responded …
Nature's blessing of the grape is that it contains by right the spores of new life to bond with the death of the fruit. The blend of musty, molded dust and life juice from the bursting fruit are in passion formed into wine. This new living pulse gives little hint of the despair that wrought its life from now discarded skins of quick forgotten plans and shallow goals. The enchanted process of mingled death and life entwined spreads out - out into the waiting hearts of friends standing every ready to share this heady gift. They may not be prepared to answer full this blessing, or remember to extend a hand or heart when needed -- that too is the brush of humanity.
For better or worse, the shadowed figures that ebb and wane in importance to this daily focus on tasks and duty are also a bonding confusion of tortured humanity and masked divinity. They need this wine to nurture life and courage in taking the call to community that is your gift this day. Perhaps their day will come in time in a cycle seeded and renewed, but today it is you, my friend, that in dying can find new life and move forward to a new bonding to the center stem of that vine anchored in the clutch of time. Bask in the silent thanks that needs no words, for none will serve. All who share that spreading vibrant flow of your love's essence will know also the call to community that is our rightful place. We stand in ill-formed line perhaps, and march slightly out of step; but we will be there in turn to be ground into simple wine in the way that you have taught.
It is a sadness, perhaps, that a community must be small lest identity becomes one of 'they' instead of 'us', for all are part of a communal drift. But it may be joyful too, for else the wine may serve to be diluted. We need this loving gift for which we may never show more than a passing hug or distant smiled embrace. I hope you saved some of that wine for yourself, to age a bit perhaps, and mellow in a cask of memory's diffusion. When you are ready to embrace this painful, crushing experience anew, know that I for one will be holding forth a crust of bread. It will be waiting for you each day.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
George the Medicine Jar
This is George.
I don't know where he came from, nor who made him. I've no idea how old he is, and I susspect the bone that is hollow was used to keep a potion of some sort in, the head made out of a dark cork wood reminicent of Easter Islands faces staring at the horizon. I have a relationship with George, I depend on him days when my courage runs a bit threadbare. George finds his way in my purse, when home is is on the wall, in the room I mostly occupy. His presence has a strange comforting effect on me. I am curious about George's origins and if you don't mind having a look at the photos and you know more than I do about george, I'd really like to hear from you.
A Joyous Oestre to Everyone
Tomorrow (Thursday 4-12) is the Wiccan Oestre Full Moon Celebration, I thought everyone mught enjoy hearing how this High Priestess handles her Oestre Full Moon Sabbat.
"What're you doing Gwen?" My brother followed me into the living room.
"I invited Shiloh over for my Oestre Sabbat. SO I am setting up an altar in the living room. Why bro?"
"I don't know if I wanna do any of that witchy-stuff!!" Matt’s eyes widened.
"Too late!!! You're making dinner already!!!!" I laughed at the look on his face... it was my turn to be on the top of the 'mess-with-your-head list'.
"Yup, among other things..." I smirked as I carried several plastic grocery bags from the overstuffed room that is mine.
"What have you got in there??" Matt's curiosity got the best of him as I carefully took out my 'Witch's Tools', athame, wand, chalice, candles and holders. I took incense and burner out. All of this sat on the tile floor as I smoothed a spring green ruffled cloth over the glass table.
"Didn't Grandma DeShaw make that for Diane ages ago?" Matt recognised the tablecloth. "And you're using it for this?"
"Matt, sweetie, if Grandma minded she would have let me know already. I use Grandpa DeShaw's shot glass from Luxembourg too. If anything they're glad I am active in a faith, no matter the label it is given."
"Yeah... well... duhh!!! That's true, you always were the deepest of all of us." Matt plunked himself down on the couch. "What else do you have?"
I pulled my abalone shell, smudging sage and feather fan from another bag. The birds immediately went into as chirping frenzy. They get so excited when I do any magicking in the house.
"So what's that for?" Matt scowled thoughtfully down at the assemblage of stuff.
"These are the candles that sit at the four Cardinal Directions, North, East, South, and West." I put the four pastel coloured candles in their holders. "This..." I held up Grandpa's shot glass. "Holds the salt we need, I want to smudge it before I use it."
"Woah...” Matt was becoming more fascinated as I shared details with him. "What's that for?" He pointed to the cut-glass bowl.
"That's for the water. That will act as the symbol for the element of water."
"What's the salt for?" Matt had forgotten his reservations completely
"That is the symbol for the element of earth."
Matt grinned wickedly. "When do we call up a devil?" Knowing full well I wouldn't do that if someone held a gun to my head. My family practices healing magic, both by choice and skill.
I blew him a laughing raspberry. "Like you want another demon like the one in the first house on First!!!"
The look on Matt's face told me he hadn't forgotten that terrifying summer either.
Mum opened her bedroom door and wandered sleepily out, "Are you moving your altar to living room sweetie?"
"Sure thing Mum. Shiloh is coming over to celebrate the Oestre Sabbat with us."
"Oh that's sounds wonderful dear!" What tine will..?"
A knock at the front door announced my dear friend's arrival. I stood up to answer the door and Matt beat me to it. "Heya Shiloh, c'mon in!" He stepped aside as Shiloh hummed through the door.
"Hi there sweeting!" I hugged Shiloh tightly as she hugged back. “Was it really rough getting here?"
"No, not really, I was looking forward to a hug from you when I got here!"
"Oh how sweet!" Mum leaned over and hugged Shiloh too. "Hi sweetie, Gwen has told us about you, and she always speaks of you with such love you are a part of the family already. So you can call me Bomba if you wish."
Shiloh and I shared a mischievous twinkle; she and I can get into so much innocent trouble!! 'Innocent' in the sense that no one gets hurt or upset, and no one gets into trouble with the law.
But, ohmystarsandmaidenforms!! Can we get into the giggles!!!
When we collaborate on a writing project we get into hysterical fits of laughter, without losing the thread of our tale.
"Hey Ma!! Where's your shorts?"
"They're right...” Mum stared at her tattletale bare legs.
"MOM!!! Your butt ate your shorts!! I gasped before I fell to my side laughing.
"Sayyyy!!!!" Mum sounded half-laughing and half-reproachful as she hustled into her room to do battle with the butt-eaten shorts.
Matt, Shiloh, and myself exchanged twinklings before all three of us began to laugh together.
"You're all just thankless teeth, the lot of you!!!" Mum called from her room.
"Is this gonna mess up your witch stuff?" Matt was still rosy from laughing.
"Not at all Matt. Laughter is a great source of positive energies."
The timer in the stove peeped, and Matt strode to the kitchen to check the boysenberry-glazed ham, sour cream and chive scalloped potatoes and green bean casserole.
"It'll be ready to eat in about a half hour."
"Oh that will be about perfect!!!!! Shi, love, would you like to help set up the altar?" I smiled as Shiloh's eyes lit. She is strengthened and blessed by her faith, yet her insatiable curiosity and appetite for life know no boundaries.
“Ok I mean unless I’m not supposed to?”
That's the awesome thing... there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way, it is simply what feels right, and resonates in your spirit.
"Would you like to do the smudging love?" I handed Shiloh a goodly clump of my smudging sage, and my feather fan, made of turkey feathers I had gathered myself.
"Let me get the sage burning and then you purify by waving the feather fan through the smoke four times so the smoke comes to you." I got the sage smouldering nicely and purified myself with four slow, graceful waves of the feather fan.
"Why is it exactly four?"
"Four for the 4natural elements, the four seasons, the four cardinal directions, and the four ages of man."
"Okay...” Shi took the sage and purified herself. I watched as I started to put together my own vision of the altar. I put the bowl, chalice, salt container, and athame in the centre of my altar, and then positioned the candles for the four elements and the head of Man looking to the Heavens for guidance.
Yes, we Wiccan folk pray to a Higher Power and choose to serve the Good.
Shiloh had finished smudging the four cardinal directions and watched as I placed everything where I felt it should be.
"Now, sweeting, if you don't mind, would you be so kind as to purify the wine, water, and salt?"
After she had gracefully smudged the wine, water and salt, I set about blessing them. They passed through the smoke from my jasmine incense, after being rubbed with consecrated oil. I then drew a pentacle in the air with my athame and called the Gods to attendance.
“Come to us, O Gods of Winter and rest!" I faced North and held up the athame. "Bless us with your presence and your gifts of reflection, rest, and quiet."
"Come to us O Gods of the Spring and rebirth!" I tuned to the East. "Bless us with your presence and your gifts of rebirth, new life and hope."
"Come to us O Gods of the Summer and fertility!!" I now faced South. "Bless us with your presence and gifts of ripening, fecundity, and plenty!"
"Come to us O Gods of Autumn and Harvest!" I faced to the West. "Bless us with your presence and your gifts of harvest, culling, and preservation."
I stood in the centre of the circle and breathed the mingled scents of jasmine, sage and our Oestre Feast. "Blessed be." I murmured and returned my athame to the altar. I put a small amount of salt in the shot glass, some water in bowl and wine in my chalice made by hand and circled round the top with the Elven Runes from "The Lord of the Rings".
I scattered Malted Milk Eggs, Marshmallow Peeps, jellybeans, and silk flowers in sweet pastels around the altar.
"What do we do with the candy afterwards?" Matt had been watching in silence, while the cats had found excellent 'begging spots' and were sitting in their feline Zen-state on either side of the altar.
“I love malted milk eggs!” Shiloh winked at me.
"After the feast we eat the altar decorations to celebrate the return of life and greening."
I grinned at the looks on everyone's faces.
"Now... I know that Mum can't be hitting the wine, she has to work tonight, Shiloh and I choose to not drink, and Matt isn't really a wine person, so instead of wine we have... Taa-Dahh!!!! Sparkling cider!!" I grinned as I help up the bottle with moisture condensing on it.
“Yay!!” Shiloh clapped her hands. “Yum yum in the tum tum!”
Mum came out of her room, sniffing like kitties. "When will our goodies be ready?"
"In just a few minutes Ma." Matt called from the kitchen.
"Did I mess up your Circle dear?" Mum worries so well she could be the stereotypical Jewish Mother!!
"No Mum, the whole house is my Circle sweetie."
"Oh, really? All right then dear." Mum settled on the couch with a relieved sigh.
Matt, being the attentive host that he is, poured three glasses of sparkling cider and refilled his glass of cola.
"I would like to propose a toast my dears." I stood and held my glass out. "To Spring, and the Oestre Full Moon!"
"To Spring, and the Oestre Full Moon!"
Since I refuse to dance in front of anyone, and Mum, Matt, and Shiloh won't dance, I felt it best to leave that portion of the Sabbat to those who will dance.
Somehow, I didn't think Matt and I slam-dancing to Devo's "Working In A Coal Mine" is what the books I'd read had in mind!!!
I did try to get Mum to dance, after I got some appropriate music for the occasion.
Shiloh was dancing fearlessly, and giggling.
Matt simply laughed, and wiped his eyes as I cavorted round Mum, pulling gently on her arm and saying, "Peeze Momma, dance wif me!!!"
Shiloh switched smoothly to the Robtica.
Shiloh began to giggle, Matt pointed and laughed in delight before proclaimimg,"Look Ma, even the birds are dancing!!
They were indeed dancing on their birdie perches, skittering from side to side and bobbing in time to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons-Spring".
Cosmo began to whistle in time with the music and Betelgeuse cocked her head from side to side with her crest erect and trembling with excitement.
Shiloh giggled harder and imitated the “Birdie-danse’.
When Mr. Twee-Deedles began his amazing canary-like song even Matt did his best to dance, bobbing in front of the birds' cage and whistling at the birds.
Mum groaned and pulled herself from the couch, I took her arm and led her in a stately promenade around the living room.
When she cried 'enough' and toddled back to the couch I grinned and asked Matt if he would like to do the honours and finish readying the feast.
As quickly as a shooting star fades Matt began to lift the dishes from the oven. He had even made a salad of baby greens and grated cheeses.
He was deftly removing slices from the spiral-cut ham as I brought out plates and cutlery. As Matt made Mum's plate I did a plate for Shiloh and took it to her.
I even spooned some of the boysenberry glaze over her slices of ham, and made sure she had French-fried onion crispies on her green beans.
Since our household does not stand on ceremony (pardon the pun) Mum tucked in as soon as Matt handed her plate to her and she had thanked him.
Matt and I clowned as we filled our plates, pretending to be in a shoving match over the ham, and mock arguing about the cats' and birds' feasts.
"Shi, sweeting, I would be honoured if you would say grace for our Oestre Sabbat Feast."
Shiloh turned a little pink. “Ummm… sure.”
“Dar Heavenly Father, we are grateful to be here as friends, warm and loving, celebrating this special occasion, remembering what has been given us. We are also so grateful for this food that has been prepared for us and we ask thee to bless it that it will give us the nourishment and strength we need. We humbly say this in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
"Amen." Mum, Matt and myself spoke in unison, Mum even crossed herself reverently.
"And now... time for our feast!!!" I forked a mouthful of salad from my bowl and chewed thoughtfully.
“Yum yum yum!” Shiloh murmured appreciatively before starting with the glazed ham.
A sweet, happy silence reigned as the people and critters ate their feasts, the birds happen to adore any kind of prepared potatoes, so they were circling round the napkin with scalloped potatoes on it. The cats had roused themselves enough to use that most potent of feline vocals, the silent miaow.
When we were full as four sausages and cried "No more!!" We visited and nibbled the altar decorations while we giggled softly, and sunk lower into the cushions.
Before all of us suffered a 'food coma' Matt and I cleaned the kitchen and stowed the leftovers in the fridge.
While the birds were preening, and the cats were grooming one another in a purring, breathing yin and yang symbol, I began to snuff the candles, and check for wax blobs on the tablecloth.
Matt was already snoring in his room and I could hear Mum running her bath. Shiloh yawned hugely, and mumbled an apology.
I yawned back and winked as I said, "Well Shi, are you about ready for a pajama party?"
“AYE!!!!!!!!!” Her enthusiasm was delightful and contagious.
I poured the water, wine and salt out of their containers into the front yard and thanked the Gods for their blessings and presences before I cleared away my altar and headed for the bedroom, stowing the tablecloth in my laundry hamper as I went.
Shiloh and I changed into comfy nightclothes and flopped on my bed to have a marvellous pajama party, replete with pillow fights, lots of giggling, snuggling the kitties (Egee claimed Shi's lap as Skye did mine) and the required sharing of spooky stories while Matt sneaked outside to scratch on the wall, trying to scare us.
We giggled, pretended to shriek in terror, and generally spent the rest of the night acting wonderfully adolescent.