October 22nd, 2011

blackheart in hand

What a long, strange trip it's been.

Been so long since I've even checked in here.  I see bellamagic is posting regularly (nice work, with the Yoga practice), but everyone else is gone.  Facebooking, twittering, tweeting . . . .  places where the format keeps changing and the characters are counted.  We are entraining ourselves to speak/write/think in sound bytes.  Today, I rebel against it.

Too much to tell here.  Suffice it to say I've lived in 5 places in fourteen months while in and out of a volatile relationship with the same person twice. 

Fast forward through the chaos to the spaciousness opening out around and within.  I find myself living in a small, unpretentious rental just outside of Northampton.  Across the street, the Mill River rushes by and then crashes resoundingly over two waterfalls.  The impact of the water against the earth below causes my house to thrum and purr, vibrate and hum.  I wonder sometimes, what the effects of that low frequency vibration does to the human body/mind/spirit.  I think it grounds me.  I think, it's got to be better than when I lived over the hill from the Nuclear Power Plant.  Or when I lived with every variety of mold known to mankind growing in the house.  Or when the sewer system erupted early this summer. Or in the apartment which used to house the staff of the insane asylum across the property where I rented for 2 months this summer.  Yeah.  All True.

Spaciousness.  Yes.  I'm currently reading (years late, it seems), "When Things Fall Apart" and finding myself both simultaneously challenged and in a state of deep recognition.  I've just finished two books by Katherynne Valente ("In the Night Garden" and "Palimpsest") which are probably the most gorgeously, densely written books I've read in a decade.  I'm spending a lot of time listening to podcasts and recordings by Sufi Masters (David Less and Pir Zia) while continuing to dive full on into the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz.  There is a softness in these teachings, a moisture light.  There is forgiveness and compassion and a sense of "What did you expect?  You are human, after all."  I drink these in like a woman who's never tasted water.  I keep reminding myself that the Abode (Sufi Center) is only an hour or so away.  And, I keep asking myself why I resist giving and receiving the gift of going there.

At the same time, I continue with the practices I know.  The ones that have taken me this far on my journey.  I look around my home--culled time and again of excess--and see that I find comfort, still and again, in a certain aesthetic that can only be called "Witchy."  And, as I sit by the river, walking past the neighborhood houses which are run down because the owners are elderly now and have lived here forever, I feel a sense of . . . . belonging.  This place is home.  This Valley, these villages, these white congregational churches and grange halls, these gorgeous libraries and unprecedented walking trails and bike paths, these centuries old graveyards,  these fine academic institutions, the beloved restaurants and eclectic art scene,  these winding roads overhung with maples and bordered by flowing water.  And, I wonder at my far-wanderings.  At my traveling here and there and away to teach and practice my Craft while never living anywhere long enough to know my neighbors.

I say hello each afternoon to the elderly gentleman who sets up his easle and paints the river -- over and over again until the oils are thick on his canvas--each afternoon.  I smile wide and broad and from the heart at the one who walks before lunch time with a smile on his face and asks the same questions of me each day--"When did the church up there close?  Where is there a Catholic Church with a good Mass?  Does the Pastor still live next door?"  I don't mention that every pagan friend I have has eyes on that empty church and that one day, it's quite possible that the rituals performed there might include drums and Older Gods.   Meanwhile, I accept the cookies from the lady who lives upstairs and agree to keep my young, boy cats (both black) in until 9a.m. while her old girl cat (pure white) comes in.  I hear her open-voiced singing in the mornings and smile for her happiness.  My heart thrills as my neighbor/student/friend comes skipping across the iron bridge with her laundry and we sip tea on the back porch.  People stop by to say hello--they bring tea or bread, news, tears, laughter, song, story, company.   And, with this sense of place and belonging comes a sense of responsibility.

I've also been reading a lot of Terry Pratchett.  Maybe all my meanderings have led me here to this place. Pratchett writes about Witches belonging to a place and its people.  I've never really wanted that.  In fact, I've avoided it with determination.  Until now.  Now, I want to make sure the old woman down the street is using her walker properly, that the confused gentleman isn't so confused that someone needs to be called to take care of him.  I check on the apartment building on the corner--is everything okay there?  Does that Mom need help getting her son into the wheelchair van?  I marvel at the two Bald Eagles who alight on the tree outside my window, the geese who fly over by the hundreds, the unending array of small animals delivered dead on my doorstep by my cats.  I watch the maple leaves turn from verdant green to flame to brown and then gather in a pool at the roots of the body they were birthed from.  I smile as my son makes friends with the kids in that apartment building who come in all shades of skin from pink to chocolate and whose voices lilt with the music of Puerto Rico, Haiti, Palestine, Korea.   I wonder at my compulsion to connect and be present to the people in this particular place and at my dawning understanding of what it might mean to be the Village Witch.

I remember "Practical Magic" and those great Aunts.  The townspeople arriving, one by one under cover of night at the back door, asking for spells for love and heart healing, for health and prosperity, for connection with the dead and courage.  I loved those Aunts.  And, I wonder when I'll make good on the promise to wake my own children in the night for laughter and sweetness and magic.

It occurs to me that there are nuggets of Truth hidden in every stereotype.  I am embracing some of those nuggets.  It's okay.  I already wear black most of the time, already have the black cats, have already claimed the truth that I am a Dangerous Woman.  As my hair miraculously changes from straight brown to wild curly silver-gray and I drink more cups of tea and hang more brooms near my front door, I laugh at the inevitability of the situation.  While I was so busy trying to become something, I was already being myself all the while.  Humans are so interesting, aren't we?

My mood is melancholy.  I'm getting older.  And more tired.  I'm learning to stop and take stock before taking action.  I'm learning, I think, to be where I am in the here and now . . . . without judgment and without the need to "correct" (myself or others) quite so vehemently.  I still dance the Knife's Edge.  I don't expect the Core of me would allow anything less.  But, for now, the Knife's edge lies between acceptance and expansion.  There is a Time for exerting one's Will.  And there is a Time for being Still.  I am not so practiced that I can swing from one to other in the course of a day--my cycles tend to take weeks or months.  So, today, I choose Stillness---the quiet, compassionate observation of Self, family, a small village, the way a season bends the light and the ways the night grows long as I stretch out across my big bed, luxuriating in the space there.

Thanks for reading.