Cordillera

I have dreamt the mountains are so close to my house in the city, the whole long range spanning the Cascades down to the Sierras, huge and magnified, their icy caps leaning over small neighborhoods in primeval protection. American Cordillera. In my dreams, the mountains spell the nearness of God. They are the mother mountains where clean waters come down and angels go to live in animal bodies a while. From the car driving by the foothills it looks sometimes like you can jump out of the car and run up there to catch fish in clear waters. Glitter white-gold sand, burnt-sienna Ponderosa pine needle trails, my California; wet Western Redcedar mossy deep green curling ferns, my Cascadia– I turn to the great land and the land turns in closer to me. A banner of turquoise in lakes, Milky Way trail of spirits –Inland Pacific! Lands of my birth! And the Range of Light is always at the edge of my mind, moving mountains in dreams.

 

 

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Misogi

Yesterday, for Easter, Tony and I drove to an enchanted Japanese Shinto shrine a half-hour’s travel from Seattle. It was the Great Spring Ceremony. We were invited as guests to celebrate the Kami, the personalities of the earth, waters and sky according to Japanese cosmology. The ceremony was a profoundly beautiful one: chanting meditations, taiko drums, a traditional dancer with the shamisen instrument, and a walk through the mossy gardens by the river where stone statues of frogs, foxes and cats bless the land and the people. There is a deeply pan-human, ancient and natural appeal of Shinto as a surviving route back into communion with Great Nature.

 

In my study of Shinto I maintain a grounding in the mystical tradition of Christianity, because I do not see hard-and-fast divisions between the sacred in its forms. I am fortunate in the ability to see a blending of ideas as a means to wholeness. Antagonism is not wholeness; the refusal to syncretize diverse ways of being has lead to useless suffering. We retain unique traditions: blue can still be blue and green can still be green, but see how beautiful they are when they blend, pigment by pigment. In my cosmology, all the personalities of the Creation are from the Creator. The souls of animals and plants are completely in relationship with the Creator in their own way. They are the ones who were with Jesus in the wilderness.

“He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.”

so tells the story according to Mark. In this way, a spiritual imagination is an act of maturity.

I have studied how spending time outside in nature, as well as nurturing the better parts of our “primitive” past (handicrafts, learning through action before books, etc) makes us more fulfilled as a species, including the spiritual realm. We will continue to integrate so many lifeways, for to be well is to be whole. To be spiritual is to be bodily.

Keep your eyes on the eternal beauty at the heart of the world. The following is a prayer from the book “Shinto Meditations for Revering the Earth” by Stuart D. B. Picken, said during Misogi, the ritual of cleansing your body and spirit in the river.

 

Although the impure and polluted appears before my eyes, I will not let it blind me.

Although it strikes my ears, I will not let it make me deaf.

Although my nose senses it, I will not let it deform my soul.

Although it enters my mouth, I will not let it destroy my taste for life.

Although it touches my body, I will not let it cling to me.

Although I may even desire it, I will not let that desire dwell within me.

Purified, we become free.

Purified, our eyes are opened to the beauty and glory of nature.

Purified, our ears can hear the harmony of the spheres even above the discord of life.

Purified, our sense of fragrance and spirituality is heightened.

Purified, our taste can savor the subtle riches of life.

Purified, our hands can touch the world in its strength and delicacy.

Purified, our eyes see and grasp the world as it is.

Through these means, we will magnify the purity of our spirits

and seek the divine within the human.

Works Cited

Picken, Stuart D. B. Shinto Meditations for Revering the Earth. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge, 2002. Print.

 

 

image source: public domain

The Visitation

There has been a visitation here;

what creature’s tracks of forefoot and rear

are present, signed their name into the sand?

What perfect pressure of heel pad or tiny hand

has loped or softly crawled or slithered,

out of skins of other lifetimes withered?

Into places that I cannot go, they go:

the spirits of the world in fur,

my familiars of the Maker– Her

imprint kissed the quiet ground

for hominids like me to know;

perceiving shapes and hearing sound,

a story of the living world below.

 

 

 

Image © Amber MV. All rights reserved.

Winter in Cascadia

This is winter in Cascadia.
Oceans gather, lift and drop.

Trailing backward to stand on a rocky beach
with pebbles for eyes, waving cedar

while the pain of love
pounces your throat–

all rise now to the sea-jungle
rowing into the sound, the great waves

going long ways with singing canoes
by the ferns for a memory;

“Wood, stone, feather and bone,
roaring of the ocean, guide us home/
Wolf and raven, Wolf and raven,
in my soul, in my soul…”

Someone I love
has made a fire on the sand,

hand-drill and tinder-bundle
carried close to the heart

in mist-wool on the skin
of our people, our passage.

Dawn climbs rosy-cheeked and panting
home on wind-feathered faces–

the charcoal
on the shore.

 

 

 

image source: public domain

On the Porch at Cedar Lodge

Written for the closing week of Anake Outdoor School, 2013.

 

On Linne Doran land,          the Otter-Pond,
beside Cottonwoods           with heart-shaped leaves,
water-wood,                        and Cedars somber with
their overhanging eaves.    “Look at the light
on the Cottonwoods,”          the dancing-fire trees,
you speak from where         we sit at sunset
smoking on the porch.         Night breeze.
This is plenty seeing you     like a human,
talking quiet, no pretense,   no display.
“Did you see                        the Lagomorph
who went that way?”           The same hand gesturing
toward the ferocious green  of vernal mire
that instructs, that holds      my bee-stung arm
in tender reassurance.         “I have the gift
of tears,” I say.                     “My heart is tired.”

Someday,                             I’ll be sitting in full sun
and remembering                 that blanket of dusk:
the unnamable places,         initiation,
re-welcoming, the whole      in-between world
we could not                         have expected.
Animal voices                       from beyond the woodshed
and ravine, laughter             down the path to where
we gather in Malalo              for magic, wrapping the bundle,
burning,                                being seen.

I know you love                    this time of night,
the silhouettes of trees,        the ones that tip their tops,
that spread their branches   out like praise,
their differences of ways      discernible from a distance,
one more lesson                  in vision, but there is
black sleep                           creeping in now,
flowers are closing,              ferns keep unfurling
as they should,                     as is right in time,
in Nature’s time.                   But this is natural.
This cannot be planned.      Active hearts are tired hearts,
dirt-time for elderhood.        The way of the Scout
is to take no credit               even where credit is due.
Respect, Honor and Love.  The veil lifts.
Something more                  than what we signed up for
comes through.

 

 

 

 

Image © Amber MV. All rights reserved.

Cure-All

Cooking alone on a hotplate,

sound of a Spanish guitar plucking notes

from some other time and place

in Mediterranea, over songs of gentle want

she boils cures for broken hearts

from Dandelion, Laurel and Nettle,

one with a sting and once with spice,

and another sweet to cure-all.

This is Spring and much is scarce but weeds,

though she knows their names and secret uses

with a smile, the way the leaves and flowers

soak slowly until steam rises

reminds her what determination

with a spritz of fragrance is required

to taste the feast beyond famine.

Hot jewels of blooming stars, fair Orion

and the Dippers lend their love overhead

while she brews Springtime satisfaction.

Summer’s almost here.

 

 

 

image source: public domain

Nebula Bed

 

Night forest, black trail.
Second-growth February.
Water-thick gaping mouth wide
the dark wood eye-blinds the pitch path,
brush before sight.

I go to my solo bed
in the place of the forest
where mankind does not
see this animal aching.

Let me lie contented with dreams
as companion
sleeping warmly alone in
thick wool, heat condensation
–those pretty nebula clouds
far above me.

 

 

image source: public domain

Seattle Bag End

I dreamt I went to visit Bag End, The Shire, and it was in Seattle. The place had been equipped with an electric tea kettle and a satellite-powered doorbell. Gandalf the Grey opened the door and barked at me for not checking my PO box lately. He told me to stop worrying about healthcare and college tuition, and that if I ever needed a place to prove my Washington state residency, there is always Bag End.

….

I meet a man with a purple beard and long, beautiful curls. He is part fairy. He tells of how the small wisps of Marcusʼs hair at his temples are dusted by the magic of fey.

 

 

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Ice Above, Summer Below

I dreamt that Linne Doran and Mosswood Hollow froze over in a new mini ice age. Everybody at Lake Margaret’s modest elevation had to flee down the hill because the ice came so quickly. It was an enchanted kind of ice, brought on by some untrustworthy spirits, and mysterious beasts now ruled the new winter wonderland. We have never seen their tracks before. At the bottom of the hill in Duvall town it was summer, with broadleaf trees all blooming green and blue sky, and the Mosswood refugees lived in a great big painted hobbit hole made of snaking roots. Herbs and flowers covered the garden, and a river ran through it. Our friends, Meatball and Weasel, got to run the place, mostly, when the real wizards weren’t home.

 

 

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A Neighborhood of Creatures

I am thankful that I get to live in such a place where Bald Eagle and other majestic raptors habitually fly past our windows while I’m doing dishes, Deer crosses our driveway, Salmon swims up the creek in our backyard, Cougar and Bobcat prowls the forest next door, Coyote howls in the night and our neighborhood trash gets robbed by Raccoon and even Bear from time to time.

 

image: Creative Commons CC0

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