Gone to Water

Healing is all the rage right now. Personal, physical, psychic. The planet needs healing, the political party needs healing, some unloved baby on a far continent needs healing.

To heal, to be healed, to bring healing. To make whole.

It isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, you know. You get yourself some big-time healing, it might involve snakes or strychnine. You lay your soul at the feet of some Divines and they will lay a whupping on you and call it extra-good healing.

You manage to get over whatever thing it is that keeps you from doing your best work ever and then…shoot, then you don’t have an excuse for not doing your best. All those years of blaming “your” headaches or “your” chronic pain are over, child. No wiggle-room now. You’d best get on with changing the world, if that’s your desire and aim.

Some tribal people–Cherokee being one–get deep healing from going to a source of moving water. To a creek or stream or river. Going to water–we do that to remember who we are and to wash away the filth of the dominant and dominating culture. We go to water to feel the coolness of it–cool water against the hot blood inside our flesh. We go to water in some European traditions to commune with the Other Worlds, to peer through a portal, to gaze down our spear into the land of Youth, to dream of a place of comfort and peace, to dream of applelands and Tir Nan Og.

I went to water this week and remembered. I lay in its arms like a child at mother’s breast, like a young lover, like a dying soldier. Water blessed me and cleaned me and reminded me of my littleness and also of my power.

Water did not speak of obligation of responsibility. Water gave me a choice to float or sink. That’s all. No judgment, no cajoling. Water spoke to water-self, sun and cloud above and Isaac on the horizon.

I maybe got some healing and I maybe came away with a cleaned-out head and water in my ears for a blessing. I went to water this week and washed away death and disease, and grief that flows like a spring branch. Don’t fool myself that they’re gone forever.

But the water was a blessing in a world filled with banes.

This Time of Year

This was the result of a writing prompt at my meeting this evening. Thanks to Peggy Millin for the inspiration to “Be a Tree.”

This time of year there are spiders among the roots. There are clusters of fat eggs on the underside of the collard leaves. This time of year the trees draw the last sweet drops of mineral and animal up through their tangle of roots to pop out the baby-seeds of someday trees. Acorns patter into the upturned garbage can lid. Black walnuts bomb the car roof with their stinky perfect fruit. The jays and the squirrels stripped the old apple tree of her red babies, pausing to gouge the ripening tomatoes nearer the ground.

This time of year we wake to shrouded trunks of maple wrapped in the cool fog from the river. The geese-sounds cut through it as they vee north, bound for their lakeside pasturage.

Rusty rose touches the very edges of the witch hazel as she spreads before us her bounty of seed pod and blossom. A shrill yellow sparks from damaged twigs bringing the second warning of autumn or maybe the third.

This time of year the insects are loud in their singing, feeling death in the tail-end of life. Oil-feathered starlings pounce on crickets. Cats pounce on starlings. All of nature spins into the deeping chill of a world grown old and tired this time of year.

Over the Border and into the Kingdom of Madison

Today was Morgana and Charlie’s wedding and I puttered around a little in the morning, getting myself ready for the drive to Hot Springs, catching up on some writing, doing my nails.

Yeah. Funny, huh?

It rained in the early morning but cleared by midday when I got in the car and headed north, into the county of my father’s people. Ballards came out of Madison and many are still there. The drive to Hot Springs is breathtaking–winding, steep uphill that joins to steep downhill and vistas opening around curves where the road wrapped around the mountains.

When I drive out in Enka-Candler and when I drive into Madison, I am always struck by how much I remember. This old barn, that old home place, even particularly dramatic trees. Today was no exception. Zipping my way through Vicki Lane country, I noted beautifully restored cabins and ramshackle barns. But the thing that brought tears to my eyes was a smallish field of burley and corn.

Wide sheaves of bright leaf going golden at the tips and impossibly green near the stalks. Corn tassling (tossling, my dad used to say), raising fat ears along the plants’ considerable length.

It was the only field of tobacco I saw today because that isn’t the cash crop we grow here anymore. The days of tobacco allotments and trucks of backer traveling down to the barns along Riverside Dr are long gone.

The beautiful and wild peaks of the Kingdom were still good and green, not like some Augusts where the droughts of summer take their toll. Enough rain and a blessedly cool-ish August have kept the vistas lush and youthful.

The wedding was beautiful, as they always are. The bride was serene, the groom cried a bit and the smiles of the congregation beamed love like Hatteras.

I drove home past those familiar old landmarks, winding out of the Kingdom at last and into old Buncombe.

Madison. Henderson. Haywood. Buncombe. The homelands.

Quiet Night

Inside this house…

there is no tv blaring.

There is no radio with cool evening jazz.

No Steeleye Span brought back from the dead on YouTube.

Instead, there is cricket sound from the windows, and the gurgle of the cat as he dreams his dreams of glory and songbirds. A pair of neighbors returns from downtown, walking purposefully past our front gate, laughing and talking. Headed home.

The train hasn’t been through in almost an hour, blasting its way clear on the grade-level crossing below the hill.

I can hear the traffic on the big bridge. Distantly. No fire trucks or ambulances right now. No big trucks with their screech of brakish disaster.

The concert on the river has finished for the evening.

It seems to me I hear autumn arriving, setting down her garment bag and her rolling suitcase. In a few minutes, I’ll make her a nice cuppa tea.

Ever-loving Sunday

We had our first all-clergy devotional at Mother Grove today. We all dressed out–stoles, cords, and all–and did a round-robin sort of ritual with lots of participation and song. The discussion afterwards was equally interesting, going from daily practice, to our love of Great Bridey to potential fundraisers for Temple programming.

I must say–I love the smell of incense on my fingers after setting up for a ritual. And I love looking around this small room at the little tribe that is forming around Mother Grove. It is a time of new growth and deep meaning.

And I had enough time off today to write a couple of blog posts and go to the grocery store. No nap, but still…

The garden is a shambles–weeds thigh-high and the last of the cucumbers are fat and frog-belly white, good now only for next year’s seed. There are beets in the ground still and tomatoes are bearing at exactly the right rate for eating.

Soon it will be time to clean the gardens out and plant for the winter-over crops–spinach, chard, lettuces. I can actually take a deep breath and think about those things now.

This week is for making jams and another round of elderberry tincture. I did not have a good crop of beans this season, so I am clearing out some space in the freezer for a half bushel from the farmers market.

See? Life goes on after ordination.

The Day After…and I’d like a nice nap

I am trying to be cognizant of the importance of last night’s rite of ordination. Several people have come to me with tears in their eyes, shaking my hands and kissing my cheek and saying–you know how significant this is? I could feel the past and future come together in the moment–women trained as priestesses, women who love their temple, taking the next step.

Women tying on cords, women wearing stoles, women stepping into a life of service as well as leadership. Women who became clergy to their temple. Their Goddess temple.

Juggling the pieces was challenging. The invitations, the certificates, the food, the choir, the flowers, the location…because our little chapel in the basement of the old hospital building holds barely a dozen people.

The Circle of Council–the governing body of the temple–really pitched in to make it a successful evening. They seemed proud of the work that was done–all these months of classes and labs, of discussion and frustration blooming into a pastoral team, into a ritual team, into a College of Celebrants.

So, by all accounts, it was glorious. The Beloved Crone spoke of the need for the Goddess and the passing of the energy from our Eldest into the heads of the next generation was palpable.

And they stood at last before the congregation, cords tied, stoles in place, vows proclaimed. The congregation gasped as they stood and their names were spoken, with the new and slightly off-putting title attached.


And so it is done.

I, for one, could use a few days off. And a little nap.

Like Landing the Mars Rover

The truly gifted woman who has designed our ordination certificates has been busy and very patient tonight. We had a few word changes for the text and she changed those over speedy quick.

But then…there was the problem with the border on the paper.

Naturally, if one is graduating from a training program, one is given some sort of paper to wave about under other people’s noses. We are no exception, at Mother Grove Goddess Temple. The priestesses picked out some shiny paper and our designer put it all together in a very impressive and beautiful way.

The only problem is that she is at her house with the design and I am at my house, with the paper. First we had to deepen the margins to account for the shiny border. Then the text was too near the top border. Then the places where the Circle of Council is supposed to sign were too near the bottom border. Then the whole thing was off center. Then..

You get my point.

Our designer-queen was patience itself as we went back and forth, tweaking, moving, swearing a bit. I started to imagine her with that cool mohawk, like that cute NASA scientist.

It was actually kind of fun and a nice change from sewing, which is what I spent much of the day doing. In case you are keeping track–no, the stoles are not quite finished. Soon, though–there is light at the end of that particular tunnel. I’m putting mine off until last because I have my original stole. If I get too tired to do a matching one, I can do that in some mythical future that somehow has more time. The priestesses are doing the finish work on their stoles so they are out of my hands now.

Stoles away. Curiosity landed on Mars. Tomorrow morning, I’ll continue the grape harvest.

Some things can’t wait until after the ordinations, you know.