Describing milk…

When I had my recent revelation about the whole ‘physical not really being concrete/permanent/solid’ thing, I joyfully came home to my Beloved/Teacher to share my exciting news with her. After I had finished speaking, she told me that that knowing, that piece of wisdom is something that all of her students (at one point or another) ask her to teach them, and she continually and consistently disappoints them when she says that it cannot be taught. It is something that needs to be lived, to be experienced, and re-membered. Sure, she can provide the words and talk until her face turns blue, but it is not a concrete, teach-able thing and no amount of her talking will help it to sink in faster, to become more real, True in their space. People get it when they get it. It’s like describing milk or some other similar staple. What does it taste like? Well, it tastes like milk. You can say it’s creamy (depending a bit on whether you’re drinking skim or whole or anything in between), but that describes more the texture, not the taste. You can say it tastes better when it’s cold than warm, but that doesn’t provide any real additional information. It’s a little sweet perhaps, but not like chocolate or candy. In the end, you can talk around it, but to describe the taste of milk is not an easy feat, and no one will walk away from that discussion knowing exactly what it tastes like (as opposed to if they ask you about calculus and you can give them a formula for solving some proof and walk them through it so you know they really have it when the conversation ends) until they can taste it for themselves.

What follows in the remainder of this post might be like me describing milk to you. It’s another piece of wisdom that I’ve recently encountered and dug up from my depths to re-member. And while it might be like me describing milk, perhaps the words I use to point to the direction of this wisdom will be helpful to you on your own journey. On the other hand, I know that I have a tendency to forget lessons and wisdom from time to time, even if I’ve experienced them before. If this is something you’ve experienced and perhaps forgotten, perhaps this will be a happy reminder for you.

I was spending some time in meditation this past week, intending to focus on being instead of doing (a challenge for me), and sitting with the whole balance and dynamic between the physical and the spiritual, the mundane and the sacred. As I easily default to a rather cerebral setting in my space, I was considering the idea that I need to be grounding in the spiritual and not the physical as I have been. For the past couple weeks, I’ve struggled with that because I kept approaching it from a place of black and white thinking. As I was simply sitting with it – just sharing space with it and not trying to DO anything about it or figure it out – I re-membered something. Nothing is mundane. Everything is sacred. The physical is not separate from the spiritual. It was a light-bulb moment. Then, I went to ground. I frequently use a visualization of tree roots anchored deep into the Earth when I ground. Instead of seeing that space and my roots in Earthy colored tones, though, as I typically have before, this time, it was like they were gossamer. Some irridescent, opal-y, shimmery color. And I breathed again.

In a recent correspondance with one of my favorite people out there in blogworld, Sue Ann, I had described the “high” I’d experienced at my recent epiphany and the subsequent low, lost, and disoriented sensation that came shortly thereafter. She normalized it for me and described it as the “trampoline effect,”  indicating that commonly after revelations like this, there is a period of coming down. I had reflected on these words and decided for myself that, in my pursuit of growth and unfolding, I intended to have many more of these moments of re-membrance, and I decided that coming down like I did with that recent one just didn’t fly for me. So what was it about my experience of that which led to the trampolining? The answer I found within myself was attachment. When I experience something so awe-some as those moments, I tend to try to hold on to them. I death-grip them in my hands until my knuckles are white. But that defeats the whole Truth about those moments. Those moments are me re-membering inner, Divine wisdom that I’d forgotten. When I treat them as if they came from outside my Self by clinging to them, the only thing that can happen is for them to get wrenched out of my hands because I am reinforcing the idea that they were not a part of me to begin with. 

So when I experienced this moment of realization and knowing in some small measure that nothing is mundane, I consciously chose (and find that I need to keep consciously choosing) not to try to hold on to it, but rather to simply breathe it, to be present with it, and to be grateful to have re-membered it. Like a large multi-faceted jewel, my inner wisdom tells me that I have experienced just one facet of this Truth, that there are many more facets of it, different layers of it to experience. And instead of allowing myself to fall into a pattern of thinking that pessimistically looks at how much more there is to go, I am consciously choosing to instead remain present and grateful in this moment.

Well, hell…

I wrote yesterday about ‘forgetting’ during my post-epiphany haze that we don’t move from winter to summer – both in the literal sense in terms of the seasons, and in the figurative sense in terms of the cycles of living. I completely believe that change can and does happen overnight – but I’ve been taught and also wholeheartedly believe that change takes place first inside before it begins manifesting outside. The spring is a time primarily of internal changes.

I have a Goddess amulet divination set. It’s made of a number of small, round resin pieces that have etchings/carvings on the face depicting different faces of the Goddess, different animals or objects, different symbols associated with Her. I bought it years ago and though I don’t use it frequently, generally preferring The Witches Tarot if I’m doing divination work, but there are times when nothing but the set of amulets will do. During this time of brand new beginnings, this spring in the cycle of living, I’m reminded of one amulet in particular that seems to capture where I am now and what I need to re-member. Quite fittingly given what’s been going on in my life and world, it’s a symbol called Whirlwinds, and its associated phrase is ‘Trusting the Invisible.’

The amulet depicts a whirling design around the figure of what is (but doesn’t really look like) a butterfly. The butterfly’s shape is described in the book to be like a double axe (the symbol dates back to 7,000 BCE). Just in that information alone is a wealth of information. The butterfly, a symbol longstanding to represent transformation; the whirling design around it pointing to the wisdom that transformation is not a calm, even-keeled process but one that turns everything on its head and, as my lovely Southern wife would say, makes everything go ‘everwhichaways;’ and, the figure of the butterfly shaped like a double axe to signify that in any transformation is the inherent process of death which makes room for rebirth.

When I read about this amulet in the book that accompanied the set, it notes that when the Whirlwinds amulet is selected, “you may not be able to see tangible proof or reap an immediate reward, but your efforts have definitely influenced your environment. You may be used to wanting and expecting immediate results and gratification, but you can’t expect to pick fruit the day you plant the tree” (p. 176). Who me?! Well, hell. I don’t know about you, but that about sums up what’s going on in my internal space in a nutshell. The description goes on to remind me that everything requires and must go through a period of gestation in the realm of the invisible, and further goes on to say that if the Universe gave me everything I wanted all at once, I would be completely overwhelmed and end up sabotaging myself. While I can whine and protest all day long that that may not be true, I have learned to trust that I don’t want the Universe’s job of knowing and being in charge of all that stuff. The description continues by reminding me to find my center and not let the ‘storms’ around me to distract me; to keep my vision alive and maintain my focus on it so the Universe doesn’t get confused during this gestation period about whether or not I truly want to birth what I originally said I did; and, to “keep your outcome in mind, no matter what is going on around you” (p.177). Cause all of that’s a walk in the park, right?

When I review the past week (or go further back, but we’re not going to focus on that right now) and assess how I’ve been doing with all of that, the first thought that comes to mind is, “Shit,” and I find that I’m self-zinged once again. I’d like to pause a moment in this, though, and celebrate that I’m aware enough to be able to zing myself like this, that I’m tuned in enough to hear from the Goddess and God that something’s off with me or in my space, and then, to have a strong enough connection with Them to actually be able to find it and give voice to it. Not too long ago, it would have taken me a lot longer than several days to get here, if I were able to do so at all. Back to assessing. I have not been remotely centered this week. I have been extremely distracted by the ‘storms’ around me. I’ve been pouty, whiney, and cranky like a 3 year old who’s being denied a cookie and not been gathering up my will to focus on doing the work of maintaining my vision of being grounded in the spiritual instead of the physical and everything that entails.

So, I stumbled. It happens. Part of that whole growing and learning thing. The thing about stumbling is that I now have a choice, a decision to make – just like everyone does when they stumble. And it comes, quite simply (though that certainly is not to say ‘easily’) down to choosing to wallow in my mis-step or getting up off my ass, tapping in to all that Fire and Will within me, and getting to work.  Without further ado…

Conversations with Harriet

Sera Beak writes in her fabulous work The Red Book that the Divine is constantly speaking to us – through our surroundings, experiences, interactions, people, etc. I have found this to be very True, and so I work to pay attention to all sorts of things that the Universe might be trying to tell me, to look for nuggets of wisdom, Divine voice in interactions, in things people say, in the very people I encounter; for pieces or a cosmic head’s up about lessons or shit I’m either working on, should be working on and aren’t, or are just being introduced to me. I have a relatively routine schedule in terms of places I typically go (work, school, the grocery store, etc.), and so when I go somewhere new, change my route, or space about something that I either didn’t do, didn’t need to do, somewhere I didn’t go or didn’t need to go, I pay extra close attention. Also, provided that when I interact with the Goddess, She is typically a very large, Brown woman (I mean ‘brown’ of the African American variety in a very genuinely honoring sense), I always keep an eye out for matronly-looking Brown women.

The other day, I completely spaced that it was technically spring break as far as my school courses are concerned. So after a hideously, jam-packed night full of dream after dream that I don’t remember and sleeping in far too late because it hadn’t felt like I got any sleep, I rushed to reprioritize my day’s schedule so I could leave on time for class. I was heading a different route because of an errand I planned to do on my way home. So after I realized that I didn’t have class I headed back to the train station.

It was about 4:30pm when I got to the station, and a train pulled up just as I reached the platform (a tiny little thrill of mine and source of constant joy and amusement). The platform was pretty crowded as it tends to be at the beginning of rush hour traffic, as was the train as I boarded. I saw an open seat, and when I went to ask the person sitting next to it if it was all right if I sat down, a lovely brown woman probably in about her early 50s looked up at me and said, “Of course! That’s why I moved over.”

She was wearing a coral colored blouse that had coral lace short sleeves in the pattern of flowers. Her hair was coiffed medium-short, a little wavy. She had big light brown eyes and a warm smile, lips colored with lipstick that matched her blouse. I was content to be on the receiving end of this woman’s kind nature and have that be that, but then she looked at me, said her name was Harriet and asked me how my day had been. First of all, people don’t typically talk to each other much on the train unless they already know each other. Add to that my bit about Momma continually appearing to me (both when I interact with Her in a spiritual sense and through actual human women) as a large brown woman, and I was paying attention. I told her my name and took quick stock of my day, filtering it through gratitude because I can get pessimistic when I’m cranky, and responded that my day had been pretty good. She told me she had come down to help a friend but was heading back home now. Inwardly, I smiled and wondered.

She told me she had had oatmeal for breakfast which fills her up more than anything else, but now she was hungry. I couldn’t help but ask what she planned to have for dinner. Breakfast, she thought. Being a huge fan of breakfast for dinner myself, I appreciated her selection. We talked about breakfast and oatmeal a bit more – the traditional oatmeal that you have to cook, not the instant kind – and our favorite ways of making it, what we put in it, what spices we used, etc.

 I’d been writing recently about the seasons, about the cyclical nature of life – the ups and downs – and how those cycles mirror the natural seasons. I’d been writing and thinking about how this winter, this time of death, this difficult and challenging period that I’ve been moving through has become so heavy, feels like it’s lasted so long and feeling like I wasn’t sure how much longer I’d be able to deal and to keep moving. So when our conversation turned to the seasons and how we were both so glad spring had come, I remembered what I’d been writing and thinking about. I said that I hoped it didn’t snow in April again like it had the past few years and waited for her response. She said that no, she didn’t think that would happen. She thought we were over the hump.

My stop came not too long after that, at which point I thanked Harriet, told her to take care and got off the train. When I got to my car and started heading to my errand and then home, I thought about Harriet and what she had said about spring coming and winter being done now and prayed that those words truly came from Momma’s lips. The past several days haven’t been easy. After my epiphany/revelation from earlier this week, I think I expected (naively, I suppose) for things to just poof! be cake, or at least maybe like a mini-cake – some nice little pastry or maybe a donut from here on out. It’s like a post-epiphany type of euphoria that happens for me. Unfortunately, because those revelations don’t happen every day, I seem to forget in between them about this little hiccup.  As I write, though, I’m reminded that we (again, unfortunately) don’t jump from winter to the full bloom of summer. Spring is a time of small blooms, of gentle warmth, of rain that softens the ground to be able to accept the seeds we plant, a time of being patient while we wait for those seeds to germinate and grow and trusting that much is happening below the surface that we can’t see.

And so I celebrate those small blooms with gratitude, I begin to determine what new seeds I wish to plant as Ostara approaches, I practice patience and trust that the seeds already planted from the work I have done thus far are germinating and sending out roots though I cannot yet see anything above the surface.