Making shapes on the beach Beside a wild ocean Deep currents thundering Fingers tracing a pattern Where my ancestors dug up Human skulls In the dunes Fifty years ago Here the wind blew Between he and me, breathless Singing This … Continue reading
Between the gaps
Of the womb door
A battle with death
A stand off
A show of strength, carnivalesque
Trigger finger itching, proclaiming victory
Spaghetti western posturing
Missing the point of infinity…
The possibility that Birth’s explosion could be a witnessing
Of the meeting place
The tipping point
Supported by her thighs
Feet rooted to anchor, on any ground
Emerging from waves of power
That portal where Life and Death
Circle and dance, ecstatic and savage
Become one, unseparated
Crow caws this truth, as she sees it
Proclamation of victory, unnecessary
Dominique Santos 2014
I enjoyed the strong imagery of this post by Diane Ludeking very much and wanted to share it. Though it is described as a visualization/meditation, it had a distinctly dream-like quality to it. It made me reflect on the the powerful ways in which the imagery of dreams can be accessed to articulate personal narratives. I liked how Diane offered the reader an opportunity to complete the visualisation with imagery of their own.
When I made the decision to return to ‘The South’, the beginning of my Wheel of Initiation practice, I did so in the context of several insights gained from the time I had already spent in the West about agreements I had made over the years with myself which were no longer serving me. The first of these was the agreement that I had to do everything on my own – I could not engage the support or help of others. This resulted in the shouldering of impossible burdens that were unsustainable and resulted in paralysis (no action or forward motion at all). This agreement also fed into a second agreement. This was the one that said I had no time to do anything and needed to rush to complete things. I think over-burdened people do this because they are so weighed down it is a logical way to try to lighten the load! Of course, it does nothing to the sort, and adds to the sense of being under tremendous pressure.
In response to advice from my mentor, I formed a circle of my own to go through the Wheel with, acknowledging that though ultimately the responsibility for my own transformation rested with me, the support and space provided by a cohort were vital parts of this process. Returning to the South, to the beginning, permitted me to get in sync with the newly formed circle and also to slow down, to break the agreement that I did not have time and had to rush my way through things. In a way, both of these agreements came under the umbrealla of a larger one, the agreement I had made that life is a burden.
The night after my first circle meeting, I did a self-made ritual to deal with some weighty ancestor business I was carrying around. This resulted in the poem ‘Recycling Ancestors Part 1‘.
That night I had a powerful dream.
I was about to give birth. My daughter and her friends were gathered around me, asking me if it was painful to give birth. Yes, I told them, but the pain helps you to give birth. I then led them in a song to help the baby come. As we sang, blood started to drip down my leg. See! I told them, Your song is strong! The contractions were now coming thick and fast, but it was still not time to give birth. I noticed a nun walking towards me down the road. She was elderly, kind and gently powerful. I liked her very much. She stopped and smiled and asked me if I was ready to give birth yet. I smiled back and replied, “Not quite yet”. At this point I woke up.
In the spirit of Diane’s post, and as I have reset my intentions and begun the Wheel again, I have wondered what happens next in the dream. What is it that I am giving birth to? And who is the nun? In asking these questions, I open myself up in the waking world to the clues the dreaming world are giving me. Dreams can be a self-made light post, sometimes baffling, but always worth noting down and reflecting upon. I write my dreams down as much as possible, even the funny, don’t-seem-relevant ones. Sometimes I don’t write them down because I am too tired or sleepy! But when I make the effort to scrawl even a few words down in the dark, the rewards are truly worth it. The dream that I described here is all about being on the edge of giving birth to Myself. Aware of the difficulty, embracing the labour, summoning support, though also holding back, “Not quite yet”.
But getting there. If there is one thing I know about birth in the waking world, it’s that once labour has established itself, there is no going back! One way or another, a birth must occur.
A door with a weather worn sign hanging above it comes into view between the bobbing heads of my heavily armed escorts. We are hustling through the underbrush of a place I don’t recognize, urgency is in their faces. I do not know how I got here or what we are running from, but I follow them, certain that they can offer me protection from imminent danger. The door opens automatically as though someone on the other side is awaiting our arrival. I am astounded to see that the door is thicker than I am wide and appears to be solid steel. Frightened by the necessity of such extremes, I obediently cross the threshold. Once inside, I quickly assess my surroundings. It is a small, cold, dimly lit room that is no doubt a bunker built to withstand the most gruesome of attacks. Surely there is nothing that…
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The other night I put an offering to my ancestors in the recycling bin. It was a carefully written letter, accompanied by beautiful pictures of homes, asking for money to do a ceremony to honour and brighten their spirits.
This is not the usual way of things. But this week, as I re-entered the South, I see that the usual way of doing things is not always right.
I’m not denying the importance of tradition, discipline and consistency in whatever rituals we anchor ourselves in. Just that sometimes a little reinvention that is responsive to circumstance is required. Which brings me back to the recycling bin.
It was full moon night, traditionally a time to let go of things, offer up your baggage to the waning cycle that is about to begin. The irony of the full moon is that at the very peak of its power, its full magnificence with all the pull and influence it exerts also contains the seeds of its cyclical demise. From this point of fullness, it must decrease.
So here I am on full moon night, on the dark streets, looking for a spot to burn this letter. I’ve learnt a way of engaging the full moon’s energy that involves writing a letter with your requests and intentions, then burning it. This is tricky when you live on the third floor of a block of flats with no balcony. But this full moon, I really needed to make a move to get this ancestor offering out there.
So, clutching my envelope, I figured I could get away for 10 minutes from family life to burn it in the park. I wish! The river will take longer than 10 minutes. The gates to the churchyard are locked, and there are people walking their dogs in the park. Besides, something doesn’t feel right. I’m all edgy, and there’s an uneasy feeling rising up. Asking for a lot of money to do a big old ceremony that lasts a month feels very, very heavy. I think of those fairy tales where bargains are made for money and influence that result in terrible tragedy and loss in order to get the goods. I address the moon directly, “I don’t want anyone to get hurt for this money or this ceremony….ok?! And quite honestly I don’t even know if I want to do this ceremony!” speaking these words out loud, I identify a powerful agreement that causes great suffering. The agreement that I must do everything alone. That I must carry impossible burdens, even if they are destroying me. I don’t want anyone to get hurt for this money or this ceremony. This I realise includes me too.
So what do you want?
I do want that soul home. I do want to brighten my spirit for the benefit of all – Ancestors, descendants, everyone. That’s what I want.
That’s when I see the recycling bin, all green and ordinary in the moonlight. And it’s obvious what I must do. I put the letter in it like it’s a post box. And say a prayer that this dark ancestor energy be transformed; changed into something else that frees us all – ancestors and descendants.
I worry that I may have committed a terrible insult, but I know more that this was the correct ritual for right now. Ritual is responsive, not dogmatic, it emerges out of a human need for integrating experience and fostering a sense of solidarity. This means that in its bones, ritual is an adaptable force. It must be. To brighten the ancestor’s spirits and mine, we have to operate from a point that is light, grounded and transformative. I can think of no better analogy than being recycled. I hope that the ancestors will understand.
That night I had this dream. Not lucid, but vivid and as real as daylight.
My daughter and her friends ask me about giving birth as I am about to. Will it hurt? The pain helps you to give birth! I tell them. I lead them in saying a special song to help the baby come. As we finish, blood starts to drip out. You song is strong! I say to them. I draw 10 wombs surrounded by a heart of light on the ground. I feel contractions gathering but it’s not time yet. A passing nun, elderly and kind and gently powerful, with the face a of a Lama, stops to smile and asks if I’m ready to give birth yet. I really like her. Not quite yet, I reply, smiling.
Waking up the following morning I felt like something had cleared away. My inbox contained an email with some good advice regarding a problem I was having with my initiation practice from my mentor. Acting on this advice, I formed a circle of support around me. I am not in this alone. Yes, ultimately the responsibility for my transformation lies with me. In that sense, we are all alone. But life exists to give love, holding us when we need to be cradled through our processes. Inter-dependency and support are neither clinging nor possessive. They are a surrender to the connectedness of all things. As I sit in my labour, gathering help around me, I am glad to belong to it all.