The serpent is a tremendously important figure in all the planting cultures of the world. It is associated with the power of life to throw off death because the serpent can shed its skin and be born again; it sloughs its skin, just as the moon sloughs its shadow. The moon is the energy of life engaged in the field of time, the energy of life absolute, and the moon symbolized in the bull is the celestial spirit that dies. […] What the moon, the bull, and the serpent represent is the power to throw off death and be born again.

Joseph Campbell
Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine

follow a spark on the wind

December 30, 2020

Life is the only way to get covered in leaves, catch your breath on the sand, rise on wings; to be a dog, or stroke its warm fur; to tell pain from everything it’s not; to squeeze inside events, dawdle in views, to seek the least of all possible mistakes. An extraordinary chance to remember for a moment a conversation held with the lamp switched off; and if only once to stumble upon a stone, end up soaked in one downpour or another, mislay your keys in the grass; and to follow a spark on the wind with your eyes; and to keep on not knowing something important.

Wisława Szymborska
A Note
trans. Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak

Sexual mysteries

November 23, 2020

Sexual mysteries are a part of many religious traditions. Within Paganism, Wicca and Ceremonial Magic the ritual known as Sacred Marriage, the Hieros Gamos, or the Great Rite draws on the polarity of projective and receptive energies to ferment, contain and release sexual energy into a ceremony, spell or intention. Sex, either symbolic or literal and the energy it creates, is dedicated to a particular purpose which may be healing or revelation or simply dedicated to the divine; to celebrating the raw life force we name as Goddesses, Gods and other Mysterious Ones.

In earlier times and mythologies, Goddesses such as Aphrodite and Inanna transited through the realms of both life and death; belonging to our upper world as well as being familiar with the Underworld. Now the cultural paradigms that rule us are obsessed with the ideology of youth and we attempt to appeal sexually through competitive and comparative pursuits such as elective plastic surgery, fanaticism around fitness and body sculpturing as well as misconstrued ideas around immortality.

Sacred prostitutes and holy whores, those who channelled and offered both their own sexuality and sexual experience as part of the worship or experience of the divine were part of many ancient cultures. There are those who work to revive the practice today, as therapists, priests and priestesses and healers. Despite the differences between then and now the underlying theme is that the divine, the Goddess, God or Spirit awakens in the heart in the moment of ecstasy, so we may know ourselves again. Mysteries like the Great Rite and other ecstatic sexuality rites and practices aim to dissolve us into the primordial unity that pervades all things. It is an initiatory experience and all initiations involve death-type or death-like experiences. The naming of the orgasm in French, petit mort or little death, is entirely appropriate.

The initial spark of the life-force that we are born with is balanced by its counterpart, when that spark is returned to the greater whole in death. Witnessing and contemplating death we are brought into remembering the wholeness that sustains us, that which we are born from and return to; the Goddess, Oneness, Divine, the Source or Zero. Sex in its intimacy, its stripping away and revealing of the innermost truths reignites us with the powerful and abiding knowledge that we are both separate from and one with everything. Like breath we both become and disappear; we come from emptiness to fullness to emptiness again.

Jane Meredith & Gede Parma
Magic of the Iron Pentacle

In the night, when the owl is less than exquisitely swift and perfect, the scream of the rabbit is terrible. But the scream of the owl, which is not of pain and hopelessness and fear of being plucked out of the world, but of the sheer rollicking glory of the death-bringer, is more terrible still. When I hear it resounding through the woods, and then the five black pellets of its song dropping like stones into the air, I know I am standing at the edge of the mystery, in which terror is naturally and abundantly part of life, part of even the most becalmed, intelligent, sunny life–as, for example, my own. The world where the owl is endlessly hungry and endlessly on the hunt is the world in which I live too. There is only one world.

Mary Oliver
Blue Pastures

A Simple Truth

June 27, 2020

Deep in Life

March 8, 2020

To be in nature like a human tree, your desires
spread out like deep, luxuriant foliage, and feel,
on peaceful and on stormy nights alike, the universal
sap flow through your hands. To live with the sun’s rays
warm on your face, drink the scorching salt of sea-spray
and of tears, and hotly taste the joy and then the grief
that fashion foggy human forms in space. To feel
in your own beating heart the turbulence of air and fire
and blood like wind upon the earth, reach for reality
and stoop to mystery, embrace the rising daylight
and the falling dark. Like evening’s purple and cerise,
to let the flame and flood flow from the crimson
of your heart while your soul, like pale dawn resting
on a hillside, sits beside this world and dreams….

Anna de Noailles
Trans. Jean Morris

revisions

February 9, 2020

I love revisions….We can’t go back and revise our lives, but being allowed to go back and revise what we have written comes closest.

Katherine Ann Paterson
A Sense of Wonder

For me, life becomes real when I write it. What I don’t write is erased by the winds of oblivion. I forget a lot, my mind betrays me. I can’t recall places, names, dates, or faces, but I never forget a good story or a significant dream. Writing is a silent introspection, a journey to the dark caverns of memory and the soul. Fiction, like memory, moves from revelation to revelation.

Isabel Allende
Why I Write

Straight Talk from Fox

February 1, 2020

Listen says fox it is music to run
over the hills to lick
dew from the leaves to nose along
the edges of the ponds to smell the fat
ducks in their bright feathers but
far out, safe in their rafts of
sleep. It is like
music to visit the orchard, to find
the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the
rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child beside such an invention. It is
music to wander the black back roads
outside of town no one awake or wondering
if anything miraculous is ever going to
happen, totally dumb to the fact of every
moment’s miracle. Don’t think I haven’t
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.

Mary Oliver

the air the dead exude

November 28, 2019

The Earth is covered in corpses. We breathe the air the dead exude, eat the food they nourished with their decay, pour their remains into our cars, wear them and sleep on them. And then we call them scary without even noticing that they are present in every single thing of our lives. We live because of the dead…