The Meditation

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wisdomIn this meditation, you will journey to meet an ancestor. Remember that an ancestor is a person from your past, who is no longer living, who has helped shape the person you are today; an ancestor may be a predecessor from your bloodline, a previous incarnation, a person who has given you a meaningful tradition or philosophical basis, such as an adopted relative, a teacher, a mentor. You will not choose who will appear to you and it may be someone you know or do not know. Now prepare for a journey. (Pause)

You stand on Duwamish quay. The night is clear; the waxing moon rises over your shoulder, and you hear the gentle rolling of water past the barges that are lined up in the Duwamish. Board the barge and you will be carried over the sea to the Island of Ancestors by a Ferry Woman. (Pause) You see an island emerging before you. The ferry woman stops at the shore and you see a grove of apple trees. There is a moonlit path between the trees and you follow it. Ahead is a mound. In the centre of the side is a doorway made of two immense upright stones topped by a massive lintel. There are two torches burning at the door providing light for the entrance into a passageway. At the far end of the passage is a faint red glow. Proceed through a corridor inclining downward. (Pause)

You emerge into a shadowy great hall. In the centre is a hearth with the glowing embers of a fire. Seated before the fire facing away from you is a hooded figure. Across the hearth from this figure is a bench. You circle halfway around the hearth clockwise and sit facing the figure. This is one of your ancestors. Greet that person. (Pause)

You may now ask your ancestor one question. It may be about his/her contributions to your life or your family, it may be to clarify something about yourself, or about your future. (Pause) When you have finished, your ancestor gives you a token of help and guidance. (Pause)

In a fair exchange, your ancestor now asks you a question. Answer as best you can. (Pause) You find that you have a gift for your ancestor. Look at it and present it to your ancestor with thanks. (Pause)

Finish your circuit around the hearth, go behind the ancestor, and pass out of the mound and back along the path. (Pause)

Boarding the barge, you return to Duwamish as the first light of dawn breaks over the eastern horizon. At your own pace, return to the Duwamish Inn bringing your experiences and token with you.

The Enchantress

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Ancestor Mine II

Ancestor ancestor mine

Root of my trunk

Trunk of my branch

Branch of my leaf

How would I grow

 

How would I grow

And green and change

How would I go from now

To then

And stand ‘gainst the winds of time

 

The howling winds of time

To stand straight and tall as you did

And not let the winds strip

Me bare

Nor yet steal the sap from my veins

 

The life running in my veins

The blood from my life

Leaving me withered and dry

Not juicy and full

Leaving me bent and tired

 

Bent and tired and all sucked dry

From the winds of life and time

You have met this wind

Face on and lived thru it

Held straight and tall and fresh

 

Straight and fresh

And ready to stand more

All that came at you

With pride and dignity

And love

 

Child of child of mine

Leaf to my branch

Branch to my trunk

Trunk to my root

Gift of my love’s love

 

Love

Love is the answer

I loved and that was why

The winds which pulled at me

Never took me down

 

Never took me down nor

Sucked me dry

They did their best

But my love

Held me safe

 

Held me safe within

For tired is not lost

And pulled at is not down

And if the dry winds parch then

Pull sweet moisture from down deep

 

Sweet life from love

And all I did

I did for love

And consecrated it to

Life

Ancestor Mine

The night was chilly and damp. The sunset was long past and the moon was well past full, barely enough to send a glint of silver across the waters of the bay. The tide was high and the water slapped against the piling of the quay, pushed by a slight chill breeze. It felt lonely and empty out here tonight. The vigor of the day was gone, and the magic of the sunset, leaving a dark and empty night. I shivered, both from the chill and the emptiness. I walked softly down the docks, afraid to make too much noise; this seemed to be the sort of night where you didn’t want to attract attention to yourself. It might be the unwanted kind. Finally I came to where the barges were lined up, the ferry women waiting to take their charges to the Isle of Ancestors. This was my destination tonight.

 The Song of the Deep was the first in line, so I didn’t have to go looking.  The ferry woman herself was unrecognizable, wrapped in a cloak as black as the sky was tonight. I stepped in and sat on the bench. Wordlessly, the ferry woman handed me a cloak much like her own. Gladly I wrapped it around myself, warmth against the damp chill wind off the water, and we began the journey to the Isle of Ancestors.  

 I was nervous about this and huddled inside the cloak still shivering, although no longer from the weather. I wasn’t sure what I was going to ask, or who I would see. I probably wouldn’t even recognize whoever it was.  I didn’t even know why I was so nervous. Finally I shook myself, took several deep breaths and concentrated on the sound the barge made as it went through the water. I just tried to stay in the moment and my nerves calmed. 

Before I thought it possible, the barge was grinding up on the shore of the island.I stood up and stepped onto the wet sand. I could see a grove of apple trees before me, and crossed the beach towards it. It was shining silver in the moonlight, and a small path wound away under the trees.  

The night did not feel empty here; it was thick with my ancestors who were clustered, waiting. Only one would come to meet with me, but they were all curious and gathered here to see me, the person I had become, and the person I had the potential to be. Their presence warmed me.  

As I walked the white ribbon of path, the crushed shells that formed it crunched under my feet and the apple leaves above me whispered to each other. A branch reached down and stroked my hair as I passed. The spirits drifted away, one by one, until I was left with the sense of just one accompanying me; it felt almost as if I were being led by the hand as though I were a little child. I treasured this feeling until I came to the mound and the door and then the loving spirit left me. I must enter alone. The torches at the entrance were the first light other than the moon that I had seen all night, and they hurt my eyes. 

I entered into the corridor. It smelled of earth and damp and a little bit of growing things- a bit musty, but not unpleasant. I could hear my footsteps echoing in the space. The red glow at the far end which had seemed so far away when I entered was right in front of me sooner than I expected. My stomach was all butterflies again and my palms were sweaty. I felt like I was a little girl again, standing in the hall at school for misbehaving and afraid the headmaster would come by and question me. 

I took a deep breath and stepped into the room. I could see someone standing with their back to me. Remembering my instructions, I walked clockwise around the hearth and sat on the bench across from my ancestor. I asked my question, received the answer and a small gift, and then was questioned in turn. The question gave me food for thought for a long time to come.  

I reached into my pocket and found a small box in it. I gave my gift, a small piece of myself with my love in it. Then I smiled and thanked my ancestor for the time and the pleasure of the meeting and walked the rest of the way around and left. 

The walk back to the barge was silent, except for my feet crunching the shells under foot. My ancestors still pressed close around me and gave me a feeling of being held and loved. It was with sadness that I left them when I reached the beach where the barge was waiting for me. The ferry woman, wrapped in her black cloak, was silent as we made our way back to Duwamish. I was silent, too, for my meeting had given me much to ponder. 

When we reached the bay, the sun was just sending pink streaks onto the horizon, and as I stepped out onto the quay, it edged into the sky. I handed the ferry woman back the cloak she had given me to wear, and, breaking the silence for the first time, thanked her. She smiled, her weathered face crackling into happy lines, and said she could tell things had gone well. I fingered the new token I carried in my pocket and said that yes, things had gone well.

Sheridan House in Dublin

In a genteel area of Dublin, there was a house where Macbeth mixed with magicians, where actors from the Abbey Theatre shared a breakfast table with acrobats, where mountebanks slept in late and returned after midnight, still wearing the traces of fantastic make up.

This was Sheridan House, a theatrical `digs’ that was a cut above the rest.
For travelling vaudevillians and thespians, the question of `digs’ was a serious one. My parents were vaudevillians, and made regular appearances at the Capitol Theatre in Dublin, at least two or three times a year.

A good `digs’ was a treasure. These were mostly private boarding houses providing little more than bed and breakfast, and the quality ranged from acceptable to downright dodgy. The worst provided no comfort at all for theatricals arriving late and hungry from the theatre, and grudging landladies who counted out one slice of bacon and one piece of toast for everyone at breakfast.

Rarely did a `digs’ pride itself on the ability to provide exactly what its transient clients wanted. But thanks to an organization called the Actors’ Christian Union, Sheridan House was a shining exception.

The union were a body of clergy and show business Christians who provided aid to stranded actors, and performed many other excellent services for theatrical people of all religious persuasions – or as was most often the case, no religious persuasion of all. This benevolent and truly charitable organization made no distinction. They provided a helping hand for anyone in “the business’’ who needed it.

Aware that many theatricals were putting up with `digs’ that were more Dickensian than Shakespearian, the union bought a fine old Georgian House in Phoenix Park and turned it into a theatrical boarding house.

Everyone was welcome, from circus performers to Shakespearian actors, and the rates were more than reasonable. One thing the Actors’ Christian Union was acutely aware of, was that theatricals rarely had much money.

The house was named after the Irish dramatist, Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Its charming old Georgian façade, with the fan shaped leadlight over the front door so beloved of architectural historians, opened out onto a quiet, tree lined street.

It was a short walk from the Grand Canal, where I spent a lot of time. The wide grassy banks and thick bushes were perfect for playing hide and seek, and I would lie for hours and watch the graceful white swans, although I never got to close to them – they could be fierce in defence of their dark feathered little cygnets.

As one of the few children ever to stay at Sheridan House, I was something of a novelty, and the staff wasted no time in spoiling me. I was a regular visitor to the homely kitchen, which produced delicious food at any hour. Breakfast was a magnificent meal, starting at 10am.

The cheerful maids in their black uniforms and starched white aprons never woke anyone before then, and only cleaned the rooms and made the beds when the guests left the house.

I used to think that they slept in, as well, because the kitchen was always open when we returned late from the theatre, with a ready supply of hot tea and sausages for supper.

The midday meal was substantial, with a light tea served before the guests left for their respective theatre engagements. Light meals are always advisable before a performance, especially for those prone to stage fright. But by the time theatricals got back to their `digs’, they were ravenous, and supper was a hearty meal.

The good Christian values of cleanliness, quietness and homely comfort were balm to the often tortured theatrical soul. Sheridan House provided spotlessly clean and bedlinen daily, in rooms that emphasised simplicity and comfort. While there was little more than a bed, a cabinet and a wardrobe, all was serviceable and of the best quality.

One of the best features of Sheridan House was the reading room, with its inviting fireplace, deep leather armchairs (polished daily by those tireless maids), writing desks and shelves lined books. Even the books had been carefully chosen, mostly consisting of theatrical biographies, circus histories and other tomes of interest to the guest.

The writing desks were well stocked with pens, paper and envelopes, and stamps could be purchased from the housekeeper, who would also arrange for the letters to be posted. There was an ancient office typewriter for those who need to dash off a letter to an agent or producer.

Rarely has any venture been tailored so perfectly to the needs of its clients. Coming back to Sheridan House at midnight was like returning home, such was the welcome as you walked in the door.

And there was the added pleasure of knowing that the other guests shared the same odd habits of dressing up in spangles and greasepaint to earn a living, and that whenever you arrived, there would be several people staying there that you already knew well.

Sheridan House flourished in the 50s and 60s and now is no more. But it remains in my memory as a home away from home, staffed and run by people of immense kindness and consideration.
In every way, true Christians.

You would have but…

I went to see her and she was so pleased,

But immediately asked about you,

Let’s face it, I was a poor substitute,

Who made excuses on your behalf;

‘ Me and our Bet, we hate these places,

Hospitals,’ she said, ‘I’ve spent my life

Trying to stay away from them.’

I nodded,

She would have loved to see you.

Tired but laughing, flushed face,

Colour too high, too red, heart

Playing up – you weren’t to know,

None of us could

How bad things were,

I truly hope she too had no idea;

She was lovely; soft, sentimental,

Cried easily – your favourite sister,

You adored her – but you would not visit,

Could not, even for her, overcome that fear;

Told me later you wanted to remember her

As she was when you last met;

The irony –  you last met

At your brother’s funeral – so sad that day

But you both still laughed even in your loss

Kept each other going, made others smile.

I  knew and had always understood

You would do anything to avoid grief;

In my car driving to the service

I played Carols from Christchurch, exquisite

Christmas hymn, ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter’

And I heard you sob, desperate hot tears

As your anguished heart wept and broke, 

We all know what you’re like, we’d always known.

But – in truth she would have loved to see you,

In that hospital before Christmas,

Her favourite sister;

I saw the yearning in her eyes

For you to be there,

To chat and laugh, share her fears,

Beg for reassurance, joke, feel happy;

She’d been near to going home

Had a temporary setback,

But you could have plumped her pillows,

Held her hand, laughed, smiled, kissed goodnight;

You see that time was not about you,

Not about your fear, your dread

It was about Aunt Jean,

Your little sister, who wanted to see you

But never got the chance

Did not get the choice,

Not knowing, when I smiled byebye,

Before the week was out

That she would die.

Jan

To Meet an Ancient

ANCIENT MEADOW

I could drift across this meadow
to reach the ancient cave of dreams;
but will tarry here ‘pon a stone
and let you come to me it seems.

Naked toes tickled the clover
as you danced about in Spring,
and were it not for silver dew
I might have missed your laughing.

I know you loved soft thistles so,
apurple midst life’s hidden thorn;
and knee high grasses tell of thee —
faint waving on a Summer morn.

Golden leaves would mask your passing
as the silent tears keep falling;
but I know footprints still lay there
need I hope for future’s calling.

and now the frost of predawn hush
shines silver echo of the moon;
come then again to me my friend
as Godlight warms my heart in tune.

Again and still we are reborn
as Winter hints of budding Spring;
and what I will be is of we,
in the braid of seasoned being.

A week with my father’s memory

I’ve been with you
this past week, every day
we’ve talked together
walked the old pathways
dreamed old dreams
finding the direction you made for me
by your short living, mine has stretched
so much further and in, I trust,
where you would have me be

Thank you, my dear one
for the gifts you gave:  Remembering
your courage when the witch that wasn’t invited took so much:  your childhood sight
the schooling that you loved
your homeland’s gentle hedges
the wild waves of the northern sea
your mother’s farewell
your sister’s kindly touch

Against such odds you kept
the  hand of the White One’s gift
our heritage?
tenderness
the love you showed each day to our lady mother
the way you mended cuts  children collect
the pride you showed in our accomplishments
freedom to learn, to  go on learning
the memory of your courage in the painful days of your long illness
my prayer, to have your spirit close.
Stay with me , Dad

Cronelogical November 2006

Praying for the dead…

There is a Mexican saying that we die three deaths: the first when our bodies die, the second when our bodies are lowered into the earth out of sight, and the third when our loved ones forget us. The Greeks have a saying which is repeated at every memorial service beginning at the funeral and continuing as long as anyone alive remembers the fallen one: May his/her memory be eternal. Eonia I Mnimi, memory Eternal…

Let us this day hang the lamp of illumination and spiritual radiance before the sepulchres of of ancestors, and dead loved ones. Let us even hang it reverently before the tombs of our enemies, if we have them, and beseech the Almighty to let forgiveness flow down the riverbeds of time and mortality to bathe us now and forevermore.

Let us deck the table with flowers, and visit graves with bouquets, and find old family photographs and kiss them. Let us tell our children stories of great grandpa’s days as a mule driver or the dusty tale of the great great great great uncle who fought the British at Valley Forge…Let us make the sugar skulls of Mexico and have them with our tea…memory elernal, dear brothers and sisters, memory eternal…

II Maccabees 12:43-46: “And making a gathering, he [Judas] sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.”

All Souls Day

MotherBear


 

Setting Foot on Shore

Newcomers will think to step lightly —
fearful of disturbing footprint
on the drifting sands of past journeys,
but I challenge thee to be bold,
for the long sought Grail of Creativity
is nothing if you will not grasp it!

I (papa faucon) would suggest that you take some of the words —
nay the passion —
of sister’s thoughts and nether dreams,
and build upon them —
weaving thus the old and new
in preparation for meeting an Ancient.

……………………………………………….

by way of example, I offer a song
written by m’lady Emrys years ago —
and the words I penned in response.

CircleWalk (Em – 9/90)

I tread thrice ’round, three times three,
to release the Spirit within me;
and all Life’s Echoes from Her Seas.

And She shall lead Her Children

Along the wooded paths I trace, weaving, wandering,
through time and space, ’til I espy Her Beloved’s face.

And He shall love His Children.

In misty moors we now repair,
the Grail’s wine of wisdom to be shared,
Hear Myrddin’s Harp surround us there.

for He shall guide His Children.
………………………………………………….

faucon’s response (2003)

Reflection of Life’s Echoes.

Weaving, wandering, threading thrice ’round.
Does not the foot prance but lightly
on Earthly form of chance encounter?

Lead, love, guided by spirit surround.
It is new footprints in morning dew
that call me to wisdom’s misty share.

As long as the heart does never welsh,
nor girlish laughter leave wooded paths,
then He and She will lift up your steps.

Norse blood can call on Bragi’s voice
as well as Jotun’s heavy striding
to crossing the Rainbow Bridge in song.