The raven circled in wait while the seeker studied the land. The bird knew her in the memory of her bones and the knowing had brought the raven into flight to follow the girl’s path. Finally she had arrived. Millenia had passed and the raven’s ancestors foretold that she would someday be there to recover the magic held inside the stones. They had watched time pass without judgement or remorse, tending the land as they did the skies with patience.
Some who traveled the land foretold doom in the birds’ black visage, shivering at the shadows cast upon their souls, unsettling the darkness they held within. It was not the raven’s darkness, but those that hovered inside their shadows. This the ravens knew as they circled the light and waited for the awakened one.
Still others shot pellets that brought pain and sometimes death to halt the mighty wings and silence the haunting calls, laughing as the ravens fell back to Earth not realizing that the fall was also theirs. Such was the way of the humans who walked with the pomp of fear hidden inside bravado. But the ravens forgave their young minds, knowing that this too was a passage and that each life circles back to the point of union when it is ready.
This one, though, walked as though she was the land and also the sky. The raven could see all elements inside of her, woven into the membrane of life that held her body close but not her mind. Open she was to all before her. Each footstep, each touch of the earth and stone, brought the call of home through her cells, and the girl began to hum the language once lost through the channels of her throat.
Above, the raven resisted the longing to call back. To respond to her and join their voices as one.You must wait until she finds the token, the ancestors had warned. Only then will you know with certainty that she is the one.
Each circling of the girl cast a shadow upon her, but the girl never wavered in her step. She had passed beyond the threshold of fear and the reasoning of the mind to the place of heart-knowing. And she was almost there.
They had dropped the feather under the mound of stones that led to the chamber’s opening, pushing the shaft with their beaks to pierce the ground. Buried under heather and bracken, above layers of soil, the sacred site had long been neglected by the touch of humans. Only the unseen passed its gates now, but the raven knew the time had come to mark the change.
She approached with love only. Slender fingers traced the outlines of form, and above the raven’s body began to rock in rhythm to the heartbeat of the awakened land. The black feather waved, but held fast to the opening. And as the girl entered the channel of the goddess’s womb, leaving the feather behind to dance her joy, the raven burst into song.
For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt #token. Please click here to see the original post to participate.
It’s no denying we are living in strange and turbulent times, but alas this is nothing new. We are creatures with a history of chaos and violence that extends through the long lines of recorded history. Then there is that history which was never recorded and extinguished…
But I am thinking of present times and how much the world seems to be tipping on the brink of a major collapse. I am thinking about fear, in particular, and how it has seized the hold of logic and reason, trapping the heart-mind in a suffocating vice.
So many people I admire and respect have seemingly gone down a rabbit hole, blindly following the trail of fear in an attempt to defy anything that comes form the place of logic. The enemy, illusive but ever-pursing them further and further into this pit of chaos.
Rarely a day goes by when I don’t receive a video or read a posting that cries out in the language of conspiracy. “Who started this?” I sometimes ask, “And who is this person on the screen?” Rarely do I get a logical answer, as mostly it is unknown, yet freely the noise of conspiracy is passed and as it passes into each field of vision, its message of chaos and confusion grows.
I get it. We are all searching for answer in these uncertain times. We are all searching for a reason for the madness, but does further madness lead to peace and resolution? Logic states that it does not.
We seem to have forgotten one simple fact: Love Begets Love. Fear Begets Fear. At this point, I no longer care why and how these things happen that spark conspiracy, I care that we are spiraling into their abyss. I care that we have fallen into separation and polarity rather than grabbing ahold of that which binds us together.
We are demonizing the other as though the other is not us. It is this that I find the most disturbing. The few that are truly working to pump fear into our veins are seemingly winning. They have taken ahold of our lifeblood and replaced love, empathy, and unity with anything that feeds our separation. This is unsettling.
When I look arounds and see the individual, I see someone searching for unity. I see a person that is not unlike me, searching for meaning and purpose. I see that which binds us. We share the same air, we share the same basic needs for survival. We are share a yearning for love and understanding.
Perhaps the need to go to battle with the perceived “other” is so deeply encoded into our cellular memory, passed on from generation upon generation through our DNA, that we simply cannot find a way to decode it. Anyone who has tried to break a habit knows how difficult it can be. Imagine the multiplying of its force over millenium inside billions of bodies passing the habit on…
It’s mind-boggling and over-whelming. The force it requires to break it apart seemingly impossible. Yet it is also incredibly easy. It’s incredibly simple. We simply need to look at each other and see ourselves reflected back at us. We simply need to turn toward what we share: the need for air, food, water, shelter, and most of all love and empathy. We need to understand to be understood, but we also need to see beyond the trappings of fear and the dark abyss that it is.
CGI reconstruction of Avebury Henge, from ‘Standing with Stones’, by Rupert Soskin and Michael Bott
We were, had the world not closed ranks against the pandemic, supposed to have been running a workshop at Avebury this summer, looking at some of the less obvious sites and addressing some of the deeper questions posed by the presence within our landscape of such a remarkable ancient site. One of the questions we might have asked is why, given all the evidence to the contrary, society in general still persists in seeing our ancestors as uncultured and brutish when we have been aware, for a very long time, that this is not so.
In 1939 a sculpture was found in Stadel-Höhle im Hohlenstein. Carved of mammoth ivory, the Löwenmensch, as the lion-headed anthropomorphic sculpture became known, was determined to be some 40,000 years old and is one of the oldest known examples of…
“Empty your mind… empty yourself…you are nothing and nowhere… just floating in the embrace of the universe…” It is a nice idea and one I have heard at the start of many a meditation… and in meditation, such a vision has a place. As a way of living, it is not particularly practical though. Someone has to walk the dog, take out the trash and clean the bathroom… and a person wafting through life being ‘nothing and nowhere’ is unlikely to be getting down and dirty with a scrubbing brush or chasing a recalcitrant hound across a muddy field.
It is such concepts that, for some, consign the whole idea of spirituality to the odd corners of life. It becomes a pastime, something to ‘do’ in spare moments or with a group. It isn’t reality, is it?
I have a friend who has been sharing her forecasts for the future with me. Last night, on our ride home together from the lake, passing sign after sign supporting the aggressor, my daughter asked me if I, or any of my friends, had tried to predict the outcome of the election. And so I told her that prediction is imperfect as I began I mini lecture on free will. I didn’t tell her the whole truth, that I simply don’t want to know something that might pull me into hopelessness.
I am finding these days I want to close my ears and eyes to what I don’t want to see. I’d like to hold onto hope only, and the belief that we can grow infinitely closer to love in just one moment, changing forever the outcome of doom.
I used to channel like my friend, and quite often. I still do, but not by choice. When she slips me into a past life regression to heal the physical body, I find the higher self slides effortlessly into the gap to reveal what my dreams bring forth in the night.
The other day, I found myself bemoaning the “shit-show” that this summer has been in so many ways, along with the confession that each “shit-show” that has played out in my own life has come after a premonition as though that self that sits behind the scenes has pulled the curtain down to prepare me for each horror I don’t want to see.
After the complaining, I stopped to peer more closely at the “show,” realizing that I had placed my own value by giving it a descriptor. Without the descriptor, I am reminded that we are always, in sometimes undecipherable ways, given what we need. The struggle is real when we make it so, but I find myself longing for the easy breath. Yet, the breakdown must come before the opening. I am just one tiny mirror of the billions that surround me. We are a world collapsing to unfold.
My friend, when I speak with her, rejoices in the scene she sees, but while she talks I find myself falling into the acts of the play that bring us to the final scene she has fixed upon. We disagree about the necessity of life returning to the great womb until I need to see it for myself. I part the curtain with caution, and as it falls effortlessly away I realize how much I have held onto the notion of pain and fear. How foolish I have been to forget that the love and joy I seek is always waiting on the other side. The veil between so thin it in fact does not exist outside of our own minds.
The dream keeper ran through Sky. Unseen by most, his ursine form clouded the blue beyond and brought the west winds to seed the stars’ wisdom into the valley between the hills. Earth waited breathless, opening her womb to receive his air as mist. His shape dissolving into hers as droplets coalesced into the seeds of being and implanted themselves into her cavern. Love stirred the grasses into parting, caressing the memories of stones with light until the sigh released into One.
We all know them, that handful of people who cling to a reactionary refusal to own a mobile phone… or turn it on when they do… or bother to check it. Or they don’t really like computers or social media. You can’t get hold of them, they pass their lives in a state of technological invisibility and you wonder how on earth they can survive…
Or… you secretly envy them their anonymity and accepted state of unavailability…
It is not so very long ago that communication was less intense, relying on ‘local’ calls and handwritten letters. The reliability of the mail was legendary, if slow, and such missives could be cherished or responded to in a timely fashion… say, a week or two. And that was okay. These days, ‘radio silence’ presses the panic buttons… people, including ourselves most of the time, expect an instant response. We have, very quickly…
Plastic was initially a waste product…a word that originally meant ” pliable and easily shaped” in recent years it became a name for a category of materials called polymers. The word polymer means “of many parts,”
Although there are natural polymers made from plants synthetic polymers have been found to be very useful…
It started in 1869 when an American Inventor namely John Wesley Hyatt saw an opportunity when a New York company made an offer of 10,000 dollars for anyone who could come up with a substitute for ivory.
Hyatt found that if he treated cellulose derived from cotton fibres with camphor a plastic was created which could be moulded into various shapes and made to imitate tortoiseshell, ivory, horn and linen….the plastic revolution took shape…
Manufacturers were now no longer limited by the availability of natural products…
Written in rhyme, using playful verse to appeal to a young audience, Flustered Without Mustard offers pages filled with teachable wisdom for taming volatile emotions in people of all ages.
Haas uses a simple narrative of a hot dog vendor who has not ordered enough mustard to meet the hungry demands of his customers to tell her tale of rhyming mindfulness. Although I think her story could be enhanced by more showing than telling, Haas incorporates the vendor’s predicament into examples of how her readers can reign in their emotional responses to stay calm and level headed. This is where her book shines.
More than a story, Flustered without Mustard is a go-to-guidebook for ways to calm one’s state of mind and move through life’s obstacles with centeredness and ease. Although each tip appears in whimsical meter, much thought and wisdom is held inside of the lines:
“If you’ve let loose, quickly adjust, find your center.
Counting three breaths may help you remember.
You could shake like a dog when you’re really upset,
Or you can sing, or dance, or play clarinet!”
Filled with mindful coping techniques to stay centered and calm, such as the five given in just the four lines of rhyme above, Flustered without Mustard has a place in any classroom or home to be picked up often as a reminder of how easy it is to lose one’s temper and reign it back into a more peaceful state of mind.
Haas’s book, which she self-published just this year, has already received numerous testimonials from educators. The author, herself, has worked in the field of education since the 1970s and offers the arrangement of author’s visits to schools and libraries.
To learn more about Barbara ‘Rhubarb” Haas and her book Flustered without Mustard, you can find her at Rhubarbwisdombooks.com.
Are you an author with a vision for a better world? Do you have a published book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction that uplifts and empowers readers to create a more positive inner and outer environment? If so, I’d love to hear more about it. On a “Better World of Books,” I interview authors and review books of all genres that offer a vision for a better world. If you think your work is a part of this vision, please contact Alethea.
We sat in plastic chairs huddled around the flames my daughter had brought to life and talked about ghosts.
“What’s the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?”
I had four teenagers spellbound. Aware with each word I chose I could either feed their fear or help abate it. And what of my own?
Should I really tell them about ghosts?
The thought came and went. And came and went some more as I began the story about the woman in the two-hundred year-old dress seated at the piano with her daughter playing the keys of a past she could not let go of. But that was cheating, in a way. I had not seen her, only heard about her. So I told them how, before I knew better, I had evoked the spirit of another lost soul who wandered the hallways of my haunted school. Learning, in the process that he was a specter not to be feared, but to be pitied.
In turn they told me about their friends playing around with online videos to conjure spirits and enter into past lives.
“Didn’t you have an Ouija board,” my daughter asked as the mom inside of me came out to lecture about using care and caution, and how some things are better left alone and that’s why there are professionals…before I was cut off again.
But what’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?
I wasn’t willing to go as far as the demons I had battled while my body slept…so I told them about the hair puller yanking me awake in the middle of the night.
“Oh my god, I would have lost it!”
I watched my daughter’s best friend nervously scroll the phone in her hand.
Had I said too much?
I knew she was afraid. And, she knew she could tell me to stop talking, or walk away. Beside her bed back home I could see the half-empty bottle of “Ghost Be Gone” spray I had filled several times for her. You need to learn how to do this yourself…I had told her more than once, but she had wanted just the crutch of the spray.
Without fear can we learn empowerment?
While I told some of my ghost stories, I thought about my four-year-old son calling me awake in the voice of terror, shaking me from sleep in the middle of the night. My husband, telling me to let him learn courage as I held his trembling body in my arms. I thought about my son, a little older saying, “I see strange colors in my room at night,” when I was just learning how to process the truth of his words.
Now fifteen, he sat beside me, slightly removed from my daughter’s friends, but not unwelcome tucked into the shadows of our circle. “Can you feel them?” he asked before he told us the story of being alone in the house with the dog barking at nothing. The cat staring at the unseen. His body knowing what his eyes no longer see.
How could I not seize each moment with care, handling it as best I knew how to, knowing that I was once that child in the dark?
My daughter’s best friend dropped her phone on her lap. “My grandma is always with me, but I don’t like it.”
I weighed each word on my scale of truth, aware that my scale of truth was not the same as others. I was raised on the belief that there was no soul beyond the body, but I knew enough from her stories and her mother’s, that she was not.
What would you have wanted to know? The inner voice kept urging guidance. So I told her about the grandmother who sent me the scent of roses to remind me of the love she struggled to show me when I could see her with my eyes.
“Have you seen The Conjuring?” she asked me, tipping the scales back towards fear.
I wasn’t even sure I knew what the movie was about, but I could guess from the title, as I told her I avoided all movies and books that sensationally evoked the darkest side of humanity. I see no point to them, although I’m sure others will vehemently argue their value. I’ve never seen much value in glorifying violence and we all know the adage, “What we feed grows.” I made a vow to myself long ago to grow empowerment over fear in each child, teen, or adult who came to me for guidance.
“How many dead people have you talked to?” another friend asked.
I don’t keep track of numbers like this, and after I reminded them that I wasn’t a medium by profession, I decided to tell them about the visit from the desperate mother. She had been dead only a week or so, but she was already worried about the adult daughters she had left behind. Her human brain, I would later learn, had long lost the ability to coherently remind them of her love, so she had chose to visit me, a somewhat forgotten friend from her daughter’s childhood, before I feel into sleep, to relay what she hadn’t been able to say before she had passed. The story also had an element of mystery. A ring lost to her years of hoarding, stuffed away in a buried box, she needed them to find. Which they did.
While the teenagers wrapped themselves in the intrigue of the story’s mystery, I hoped the were also thinking about how ghosts need not be feared like the ones in their movies.
“I couldn’t live in a house that someone had died in,” someone eventually shared.
So I told them about the man who had died in my children’s first home, before me moved in. Perhaps they were expecting to hear a tale of fright, but instead they heard another tale of love.
“You have complete power over what you let in,” I told them as I started to come to the thesis of my narratives.
They didn’t believe me. At first. But I persisted, even though I could tell I was starting to lose their attention. They were here for ghost stories, after all, and my nudging daughter knew I had an abundance of them.
Instead, we talked about shields of energy and intention, followed by more examples than they cared to hear of how empowered they each were before we finally crawled into our respective beds well past midnight.
I had a feeling they’d sleep well, even though we had spent the night sharing ghost stories.
It was 10am before I heard the first stirrings of movement from the bedrooms downstairs. The cinnamon rolls on the stove had already cooled to room temperature. I lit the flame under the frying pan and began to crack eggs into a bowl to whip them into a scramble.
“Oh that smells good.”
“I’m so hungry.”
“I slept awesome!”
“Me too! Even though I dreamed about ghosts.”
“Yeah so did I! I can’t believe how well I slept.”
Inside I sighed relief. I knew the outcome could have been different, but I was also careful with the scale I had been balancing with each word I let forth from my mouth. There could have been angry texts from parents of scared kids, and any number of unhappy outcomes, but instead I had around me five hungry teenagers eager to go about their day empowered from their night of ghosts.
I had taken a risk when I chose to face fear instead of shoving it back into the darkness. Usually I play the quiet role of the host-mom, choosing to stay in the background, careful not to hover or impose. That night, though, I had been invited to enter the circle around the campfire to play the role of storyteller and I chose to take it. There’s something about campfires. Being out in the night air where the darkness is cut by the flame in the center evokes the desire to tell stories. But not just ordinary stories. The embers stir that which is hidden, calling it to come out and be seen. Heard.
As those five teenagers faced their ghostly fears of the ephemeral world that no longer scared me, my own fears had played through me. My children are at the age of transitioning away from the protection of the hearth fire and the maternal chords are frequently tugged inside of me. Earlier that day, before we gathered around the fire, I had watched from the shore as my daughter and my son struggled to start our boat. Part of me was hoping they wouldn’t be successful, but persistence on their part paid off as they slowly pulled away with friends on board to tube and ski for their first time without an adult on board.
“Stop taking pictures and help me in!” My brave, determined 16-yr-old daughter, who had learned to drive the boat this summer, six months after she got her license to drive a car, was showing me her anxiety about safely docking to unload. And she was showing me she still needed me, albeit with the irritation of a teenager, and so I put the camera down and caught the rope to pull her in.