#Choice #writephoto

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Photo Credit: Sue Vincent

Her spirit lingered above the water to watch it carry the remains of her body back to the Great Mother. Along the banks her people drummed to the rhythm of Earth and she could feel their love soar into the currents of the wind. She waited with them, in silent reverence to feel the pulse of the flow one more time between the lands of the living and the lands of the dead.

High above, nine ravens circled her beloved stones. She felt their presence and a pull of longing to sit once again in the place of the Seer. One by one they had left their gifts in the small hollow of her stone. Three black feathers and a turquoise stone. Now they soared in watch. Sealing the magic she had left behind. Below, a ring of white flowers lay like stars upon the trodden ground.

She had known death would bring peace, but she could not know how much she would long to return. Her body, already breaking apart to the elements as the water carried it home, was no longer hers. Yet she knew the stones held her secrets for those who would travel to them through the pull of the heart. Here they would sit, as she had done so many times, leaning against the stone to feel the circle. Some would close their eyes to see. Their bodies finding the pulse inside the rock would hear her voice. And, when they left, she would go with them through her beloved land.

For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt #Choice

 

Chocorua Part 4: Meeting the Chief in the Clouds

As my husband and I continued our journey up the quiet mountain, I stopped now and then to place my offering of tobacco leaves in the nooks of trees and rocks. Noting, as I did, how sometimes others had made their own offerings. Small and large stones nestled into crevices of wood and stone, along with the more permanent and not so mindful markings of names carved into the skin of trees. I saw the carvings as a sad reflection of the ego’s need for permanence, forgetting that the mark that lingers is a mere shadow of the true self that never dies. How we yearn for something that is false, so often forgetting the harmony that beats around us. I found the buzz of the mosquitos oddly comforting, in its reminder of the cycles of life. The sacred spring below having given birth to the insects that followed my footsteps along a path older than the trees surrounding me.

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There are several large and impressive boulders near the summit of Mt. Chocorua, but they hold their stories in a quiet, watchful manner.

The mountain remained, to me, quiet and reserved. Welcoming, yet not offering too much. Not yet. This was my first visit, after all, and as the miles slowly rose, I realized that I would likely return someday. Perhaps not to the same trail. Perhaps not with the same companion. I didn’t yet know, and that was okay.

Life cycles as it will, and it behooves us to allow it to play its rhythm without resistance. When we push, we are often met with a counter-push. A simple law of physics. Perhaps this is why the snake appeared. Not once, but twice, as we hiked the long, winding trail, slowly losing the mosquitos as we gained elevation.

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One of two snake messengers we encountered during our journey. This one reared its head toward me as though reading for an attack as I ventured near to photograph it.

I have found the snake to be a frequent messenger that appears at points in the cycle of life that call for a surrendering. A letting go of the old “skin” I choose to wear to make way for the new, lighter sheath. They remind one of the wheel, ever-turning. Endings moving into beginnings, endlessly repeating.

I had thought that the mountain might harbor hurt. A long held wound from the legend of the chief who fell from its summit. Cursing, as he met death, the white man who had poisoned his son. As I walked the first half of the mountain, I found that I was also, in essence, curing the “white man” who had felled all the trees, and placed the wall of stone beside the path of the sacred waters. Yet, as the snake reminded me (twice), time moves on, whether we allow it to or not, without judgement. The cycle weaves its circle of life and death, over and over again, and we can be a part of it, or we can use defiance to try to resist its flow.

I could not forget that I had breathed acceptance into my body before I had left my hometown that morning. There are no true accidents to life. I realized, as I walked, that it mattered little, if at all, that I was not seeing the faces of the long passed in the rocks, or feeling the pull of the familiar through my cells. Instead, there was that quiet harmony of belonging. Of being present with my beloved in human form, and the sacred landscape around us.

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A guardian along the path

There was no denying the many gifts that had been offered. The crow who had welcomed us, the “ghosts” beside the stream, the white feather in the path before the call of my feathered seer, the snakes of renewal, and even the mosquitos buzzing life. There were also berries, full and ripened to the deepest blue of truth as we approached the final mile. Tempering greed, we reached, now and then, to pick small handfuls of the fruit and felt the renewal of life in each magnificent bite. Agreeing that there was never a better blueberry than those grown on the nearly soilless top of this mountain. A grateful gift that was even more welcomed when we discovered how little water we had left and how warm it had become during our journey, as well as how unsatisfying the apples were that we had brought. Mealy and soft, whereas our mouths hungered for a cool, crisp bite. I thanked the land for the blueberries as I offered it more tobacco in return.

As we sat on the granite ledges and took in the views of the landscape around us, my husband and I noted the time and how far we had come. We felt the ache of the climb in our bodies and the hunger in our bellies. Ahead of us was the head of Chocorua, perhaps another half mile away, we could not be sure. Its side looked steep and a bit dangerous as we realized we would either have to make our way around it to find a more gentle side, or allow ourselves to finish our journey below its peak. I was surprised that I did not feel disappointment. That there was no resentment bubbling up inside at the possibility of not “completing” our journey. Instead, I felt acceptance. It was enough, all of it.

We did not turn around then, though, but decided to walk a little further. I was grateful, as we continued on for this small final leg of our journey forward, for the soft presence of the land and it’s hallowed feel. For the berries that continued along our way, and for the knowing that we had just enough daylight ahead of us to get back down, and just enough water to quench our thirst if we needed it. I thought of that sacred stream and the yearning of my body to feel its cool release. And, as I turned my gaze one last time to follow the path of a vulture around the neck of the mountain, the mighty bird moved toward a cloud that hovered beside the rock face. Perhaps it was my imagination, but to me it looked like the head of a chief in profile. Its face pointing away from the summit that would need to wait for another day.

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Where we stopped to rest with the cloud formation of the legendary chief in profile. It was a bit more clear in person.

 

 

 

Why I visit England (annually) and why we are called to sacred lands

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I’ve been thinking about writing this post for awhile. To attempt to explain why we are sometimes drawn, mind, body, and soul to physical places as though we have no choice but to go there. The heart, leading the body back home.

I think many people I know are confused as to why I feel such a need to travel to England, over and over again. What may be viewed as a flight of fancy becomes, perhaps, seen as an excuse to get away in their minds. From the mundane. The roles we choose to play out in life that can feel old and weary.

It’s true. These roles can age us when we allow them to do so. The soul, mind, and body seeks replenishment from that which wears us down. But being drawn to a place on such a holistic level is a soul’s calling the body and mind to home. We live many lifetimes. Sometimes in one place. The location becomes an integral part of our being, woven into the memory of cells so deeply that it is brought with us through our lifetimes. We become, in essence, of that land.

We are all of the larger “land” that is Earth. Its elements have given us our body of life, but what I speak of is memory. Sometimes the call to a certain place feels as vital as breathing. It sustains us and enlivens us. It reseeds the sacred within.

I have tried to find this here, in New Hampshire and in its wider landscape of New England. I have had moments when I have felt the coming home, but this is not so much about place, but about surrendering to the union that connects all life. When I am in the ancient lands of England the sacred enfolds me and strips me bare. It opens the magic hidden within and I begin to remember fully and completely, through every cell of my being, the essence of Life.

There are certain places that hold memories for us to retrieve when we choose to open to them. Portals. Vortexes. The convergence of ley lines. Sacred temples. Stones placed upon the energy that feeds the body of Earth and in alignment to the stars…Long ago, all life lived in this union, but over time the ego took hold and dismantled union in a search for separation. We are still living the false ideal of separation, to our own imminent demise.

I believe there is that essence inside of  all of us that searches for that Light of union. To feel, once again, a part of the sacred whether we are consciously aware of it or not. We go to churches and temples to find it, and sometimes we go to the land. I am drawn to the land. It is here where the memories of home sweep through me in perfect union when I find that quiet space to surrender to it. Each time I travel to England another part of me is brought to life. Another piece of my soul retrieved and reunited.  The land speaks to me in a language I can understand. I am revived and filled with hope when I hear it whisper through my cells.

When I look at life through the eyes of the mundane I see a broken world. I see the ever-present quest for more. To be better. To divide and conquer. I see wars fought over this. I see violence because we are broken. Despair because we have forgotten. We rape and pillage ourselves and the land because we have become disconnected. We have forgotten that when we destroy another, we in essence, destroy ourselves.

Perhaps it is a fool’s quest, but I also travel to England not only so that I can remember, but so that I can somehow, through my words and experiences, stir the memories inside those we have lost and forgotten this sacred union. We are born remembering, but through modern ways of living we easily forget. Ceremony has been lost to the click of an icon to numb the searching brain. The temples of the past turned into playgrounds to capture selfies.

I don’t think it’s an accident that incredible work and care went into building these temples of stone so that they might stand thousands of years later. They are the physical keepers of our ancestral memories. Libraries set in Earth. And, it is quite likely when they were built they were built with this intention in mind. Knowing that one day we would enter, of our own free will, a long age of forgetting. And that we would, one day, also seek to remember as though our very lives depend upon it, because they do.

To place a hand on one of these stones and feel the flooding return of these memories is a testament to their sacred purpose. When I open to the ancient sites of England, the “I” and all its false needs and wants disappear. There is no I. There is only union. Union with the great stone. With Mother Earth. With the vast heavens above. And with all Life. Long ago, this is what our ancestors knew as Truth.

We are living, collectively, through the false ideals of the ego, lives of self-destruction. If we continue on this course, each individual “I” will perish collectively. In what is the utmost of irony in our striving to be better, different, and special from each other, we are making our “I” become extinct. Soon enough we will have depleted all the resources our planet has to offer and there will be no room for life to carry our “special” DNA onto future generations. There will be no living Earth to sustain progeny to live out or legacy, because our legacy will be extinct. Money cannot buy what we need for our survival. A bigger house will not spare us from disaster, no matter how much we fortify it with outer strength. Eventually the “I” dies.  Each “I” has the same destiny of death. Yet if we really cared about each individual “I” we’d collectively realize it takes the “we” to preserve it. To ensure life continues on, sustaining and enriching each other. We are now at that pivotal moment in time. That tipping point where we can choose to continue on towards imminent demise, or trade in the self(ish) for the betterment of the “we.”

Living immersed, as so many of us do, in cultures that strive for individual greatness, we become numb to the sacred within and without. We look at a tree and see a resource, not a fellow being whose breath feeds our own. We look at a body of water and see it as a fun medium for racing our boats, not seeing that our boats pollute the liquid that is meant to sustain us and the life it holds inside of it. We look at our neighbors and think, you have something I want…a bigger house, a nicer car, smarter kids…without realizing that our neighbor is an aspect of ourselves.

When we come into the world, newly born, we still remember. When an infant gazes around you and past you, smiling as though into thin air, they are seeing what you can probably no longer see.  Essence that dances around you as a sacred part of the light woven with all life. Sing the infant that cries to the overwhelm of this chaotic and foreign life we have brought it into, the sound of “Om,” and you will return to her the feeling of home. Of union. Stillness opens the eyes back to memory and the sacred returns in the moment of union.

We all have the doorways within us. We just need to find the keys that open them. England, in many ways, is my key. If you don’t know where your key(s) is hidden, its worth the search to find it. The life that sustains you depends upon it.