Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December 5, 2017 - Secrets of the Mist

The days are cold and misty now.  Grey.  The winds are harsh and unforgiving.  They blow the steely rain into the faces of those brave enough to go into the forest.  There are no birds singing, and the insects have disappeared.  The woods have gone silent.  Occasionally a crashing and cracking sound is heard, signifying a deer somewhere close by.  But he will not show himself.  Sometimes it is a small rumbling sound, and somewhere a squirrel rushes quickly past to put one more thing in his secret stash.  But he cannot be seen either.

It is a world of sound and feeling now, and sight is useless.  The Lady walks alone along the shore and in the woods, seeking.  Her nine attendants are colorless and unseen, but there are ways to tell where they have passed.  There are no obvious signs, but the ground is somehow gentler.  A small bouquet of forgotten colored leaves lies here and there.  They are gifts from the good folk as they follow Her.  It is a long trail.

The Defender has yet to be born.  But soon, very soon.  Until then, She will tirelessly seek Him.  The Lord of Winter watches Her, waiting for His chance.  Soon the wall of snow will come and the land will be buried in thick ice and She will be trapped.  All heads will bow in defeat then, as ordained.  She can leave no footprints, though, and He will lose her track.  The merciless ice reveals no scent.  The trail grows cold, even for the King of Death.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

November 19, 2017 - I am an Oak

I am an oak, and that means I have time on my side.  All of the other trees are grey and bare now, but that is to be expected.  If you live fast and furiously, you die fast and furiously.  Every year.  But I take my time.  In the spring, when everyone else is green and bouncy, I stay bare.  Crouched in the forest like a panther, I bide my time.  But I can do that because I am an oak, and I have time on my side.

Oak leaf.
How they flaunt themselves in the spring, those other trees!  Such foolishness.  Each competes with the other.  “Look at me!  Look at me!”  They sway this way and that, painfully bursting forth in their enthusiasm, not caring about the threatening grey clouds that circle far above.  But me?  I stay silent and immobile, like a ghost on the attic stairs.  I remain invisible because I know the choice is up to me.  I have autonomy and integrity, but that is because I am an oak.  I do not expect them to understand.

And then as they sweat their heady fragrance into the forest (and while their backs are turned), I very silently awaken again.  No one is looking because they are self-absorbed in their own beauty (and admittedly, they are beautiful).  Except perhaps an old woman here and there.  She will look knowingly into the forest and say, “Ah, the oaks have returned.  It is time to prepare the soil beds for planting.”  But no one listens to an old woman or a mute old oak tree.  That is a good thing.  It allows for quiet, uninterrupted intentions to be sown.

Summer sees lushness and bounty for us all.  There is much joyous talk in the forest, often full of laughter and frivolity.  I enjoy the dulcet tones, but they sing is as if they think they will live forever.  Or perhaps they have forgotten the dark sleep.  It is just as well.  I send my roots far, far down into the Earth, much farther than my frivolous companions because they are too busy chatting.  Only I can pull up the rare and vital minerals so necessary to lush growth.  Only I can distribute them to the rest of the forest denizens through my gift of leaves at the end.

At the end.  It comes so quickly.  At first there is joyous revelry and ballroom gowns of stunning color, and it seems as if the band will play forever.  But the winds know differently.  They usher in the grey clouds, which have been silently waiting all this time, and then the screaming and tearing and wailing begins.  I close my ears to it.  When the last tear has been shed and the ground is littered with shredded rags of once-magnificent colors, I awake from a long nap.

All else is on its way to a monotone shade of grey.  Except for me.  I slowly shimmer into a red tone, and the wind—try though it may—cannot take my leaves away.  Those I shed at my own will in my own time, and not a moment sooner.  Nothing can be taken from me without my permission.  My leaves are a gift I give to the others, but they do not know it because now they are asleep.

Colorless, grey, and drab.  Now it is their turn to be the ghost.  My strong, unbreakable exterior looms in the forest now, and all others pale in comparison.  My arms reach outward sideways instead of straight upward as the others do.  All the animals instinctively know they can find shelter under my boughs.  While the others creak and moan and crack in the howling frozen winds, I stand tall and motionless.  I am not afraid.

But that is because I am an oak.  I am the King of the woods, and my dignity is unquestioned and unparalleled.  I will stand here for 1,000 years, watching the others come and go, and come and go again into the dust.  I will reach deep into the Earth for her hidden secrets, and I will pull power from the Sun in a way no other tree can do.  This is the job of the King.  It is a slow and imperceptible task I must do, which task I agreed to in the very beginning.  It is long, slow work, but I do not mind.  It is the way of the oak, and I have time on my side.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 11, 2017 - On Being a Seed, Part VII

[This is Part VII, the final part of “On Being a Seed.”  Click Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI for the prior episodes.]

And now I knew who I was, and I laughed at the absurdity of it all.  How could I have forgotten?  All that time I had wasted, believing that I was all alone in my journey, believing in the destination instead of the process.

There we all were in the field, our eyes having been opened at last.  Like a painter who stands before a blank canvas, we knew we had much work to do and anything was possible.  But we were not alone in this journey.  We had never been alone, and so we were guided from within to reach our full potential.  We could never have ended up anywhere but where we were now.

Milkweed pods.
We used the liquid gold, knowing now with reverence its true purpose.  We joined our energies together in a vortex, and instead of the liquid gold dissipating and spinning away, it increased and funneled entirely through us.  Each of us were a conduit, a channel for the liquid gold, and we did not try to hold it within anymore.  Indeed, it would not have been possible to do so.  No, now we let it flow abundantly because we knew where it came from.

Off in the forest, dark creatures watched in seething jealousy.  We could not have known their emptiness and anger, so rapt we were with the heavy job of creation.  But they amassed on the border and watched.  At times the great King in the heavens would reach His hand out quickly to snatch the dark creatures up, but most of them disappeared into the coolness of the woods as soon as He approached.  Those He was able to take with Him came not forth into the world again.

Many, many days passed, and I was blissfully busy.  It was a long time before I looked up to find Him again, and I was shocked at His appearance.  He was suddenly tired and old and weak.  What had happened to the great King?  Now I was worried!  We must help him, I thought, but I remained as immobile as ever, locked in a green field. 

And then I noticed the dark creatures along the edge of the forest.  Sometimes they would come boldly out of hiding and stride into the field, and when they did, they would slay some of my brethren and take them away.  We stood there unable to stop the onslaught, prisoners in the daylight with no chains or walls around us.  I knew it was just a matter of time before they eventually came for me as well.

One night, we all made a secret pact.  We took most of our liquid gold and placed it into tiny spiky purses, which we believed to be impenetrable.  We knew instinctively these little purses would be safe and so would the liquid gold within.  Like feverish elves, we worked through that night and the next several nights, funneling our liquid gold into the safe little purses we had fashioned.

When at last we had finished our job, we looked up to a dreadful sight.  Most of the green-ribboned brethren were sickly and suffering, bent over with exhaustion and illness.  Many were openly grieving.  The dark creatures from the forest came into the field now during broad daylight, bold and arrogant!  One by one, they took us prisoner and brought us to a court they had fashioned from the skeletons of beings long since passed.

Now it was my turn.  They ripped and tore me from my place in the field.  For so long, I had wanted to move and leave that field, and now the only thing I wanted was to have my feet buried deeply and safely in the field.  But they had other plans, and I was roughly torn away and brought to their deadly court. 

I looked around wildly for the great King.  Surely, He would help me??  He was so strong and brave and mighty.  Surely, He would destroy this terrible foe and we could all go back to our warm and lovely field??  And then I saw him.  He was very old and weak and tired.  He bent His head downward into the field, one knee planted in the soft and cool Earth.  He was not so large and all-encompassing as I had thought.  He was exhausted, and His light was greatly diminished.  Even so, He was still beautiful, and His face was serene and still happy.

As they dragged me, I managed to catch His eye, just for a moment.  He smiled warmly at me, and I remembered the magnificent being who had put His hand under my chin so long ago and sweetly said, “Rise up, little one.”  Yes, He was still just as beautiful to behold now as He was then, perhaps even more so because He seemed so tired and in need.  I wanted to call to Him and ask for His help, but I simply smiled at Him and nodded.  He nodded back and then turned to the field again.

They dragged me to the cold court built from bones and dead things that somehow looked and smelled familiar to me, and they put me on trial for many crimes.  They said I had stolen the liquid gold, which rightfully belonged to them, and now I must pay the price for my thievery.  I tried to tell them that the King had willingly given me the liquid gold, but they would hear none of it.  In fact, that only seemed to enrage them more.  I realized He had never placed His hand under their chin and blessed them as He had me, and this was why they hated me so much. 

The trial was quick.  They found me guilty as charged.  The sentence was dismemberment.  They placed me in a cell before carrying out the execution, and there I sat, alone and terrified.  After crying incessantly for days, my tears suddenly dried up.  Even if I had wanted to cry more, I knew there was not one drop left.  Suddenly, I felt very lightheaded and dreamy.  I knew the end was near. 

Then they came for me.  They dragged me from the prison, and I willingly and easily went along with them, almost floating in a dreamlike state.  They loudly repeated my charges and sentencing, but I barely listened to them.  Somewhere I could hear the tiny bells of the dancer I knew so long ago, whom I had completely forgotten about when I had stood tall and proud in my field.  Now the tiny sound of bells rushed in, and I welcomed it.  I could not see her anywhere, but I knew she was there, and that was enough.

And now they carried out the sentence.  I was shredded into a thousand pieces, and all my tiny spiky purses fell to the ground.  Somewhere very, very far off, a butterfly’s wings were beating away in the sunshine of a field, and the tiny movement of air reverberated around the world and gently blew all of my pieces into the wind.

I saw a blinding, searing Light.  A terrible voice loudly demanded of me:  “Who are you??”  I laughed that it would even have to ask, and I simply responded, “I AM.”  This was the Third Blasphemy of the seed, and I knew it as soon as I spoke it.  I AM.  And that could not be taken away from me.

[Herein ends the tale of the seed, or perhaps it begins.]

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September 20, 2017 - Oh, Honey!

The bounty continues . . . for now.  Sometimes dinner pops up unexpectedly.  These honey mushrooms weren’t here yesterday, and I know that for a fact because I stood on this very spot.  And yet here they are today.  How does something grow so quickly?  It’s a mystery to me.  The growth is far greater than that of a plant or an animal, but then we are not talking about a plant or an animal.  We are talking about a mushroom—a whole different kingdom altogether.

Honey Mushroom.

There’s a dark side, of course.  The honey mushroom is a tree killer.  It grows on wood of either dead trees or trees that are having a hard go of it and will soon be dead, thanks to a little push.  The honey mushroom is one of the many creatures that helps a tree to become an “un-tree.”  If there are honey mushrooms around, there are dead trees around.  You can be sure of that.  Really, it’s just their job.

This patch is destined for other things, though.  You win some; you lose some.  Today the honey mushrooms lost, and the tree becomes a part of me.  Tomorrow, it may be me who loses.  No one said the world was a safe place.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 19, 2017 - The Harbingers

Mushrooms grow almost all year long, but they are especially prolific in the Fall.  In fact, that is how I often know that Fall is on its way:  I smell the mushrooms.  I smell them long before I see them.  It is a deep, earthly, intoxicating kind of scent, and once you inhale that aroma, you will never forget it.  Ever.  That is how you know they have come.

Amanita muscaria - Yellow Fly Agaric.

They are sort of between the worlds, are they not?  We cannot call them plants and we cannot call them animals.  They have their own kingdom, and rightly so.  For who does not get that otherworldly feeling when looking at a mushroom?  “You are in my territory now,” says the mushroom, “And you must follow my rules if you want to find your way out of the woods.”  And if the mushroom be pretty, all the more entrancing.  Unless it is too pretty.  That can be dangerous.  But they know that.

When the scent of mushrooms is everywhere in the air, I begin scanning the ground and fallen trees because I know that soon they will poke their heads up.  They can be delicious or deadly, an ally or a vicious foe.  Some are small and inconspicuous, and others are a foot in diameter, just daring you to walk by without stopping.  You cannot do it, though.  You have to stop and look.  But they know that, too.

They also know a lot about the Fall, much more than we do.  They know when the decay has begun, and that is why they come.  They might tease with bright colors or pretty textures, but they are the harbingers of the end.  They are the bringers of summer’s doom.

The drums are beating again in the woods.  He is on his way.

Monday, September 18, 2017

September 18, 2017 - Let the Good Earth Produce

It’s getting to be that time.  The farmers lay out their harvests and show the bounty of the Earth yet again.  I never cease to be amazed at how lavish Mother Nature is.  She’s never stingy.  She never hoards anything.  Instead, she always goes overboard and creates in such magnificent abundance.  There’s so much that it can’t possibly all be used.  Even rare specimens in the woods are still lavishly displayed and abundant in their health.

Pumpkin abundance.
We live in a society where the idea of “lack” is taught and, indeed, enforced to keep us all in line.  Everywhere we go and in everything we do, there is always the feeling that we must hurry to get our share because there isn’t enough to go around.  “First come, first serve!  Only while supplies last!”  If we get something, we’re told we should feel lucky and privileged.  Not everyone can get what we have because there’s not enough!  Only a select few can have this. 

But it’s all a lie.  All of it.  The Earth produces massively just about everywhere if given half a chance.  There’s work involved, yes—lots of it.  But the reaping is much more than many people who live in cities have been led to believe.  The abundance is overwhelming, in fact.  When you consider that you could grow a very good portion of your yearly need for food on one-quarter an acre of land, you begin to see how generous the Earth is and that you are not as beholden to someone else for your survival as you thought you were.  It opens up a whole new world of possibility.

Let the Good Earth produce.  De-program yourself from poverty consciousness and open up to the abundance all around you, just waiting to be plucked.  If you sow, you will reap.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 31, 2017 - The Un-Tree

It is no easy matter to become an “un-tree.”  In fact, I would say that it’s a bit harder to become an un-tree than it is to become a plain old tree in the first place.  I have been watching this tree as it “un-trees” for several years now.

At first I wasn’t sure if it had decided to make the change or not.  Then spring rolled around and no green leaves appeared, and then I knew that the decision had been made.  Still, the trunk and branches were firm and hard and unyielding that spring and the spring after.  It was solid and strong.  But time marched on as it always does.

The un-tree in its un-becoming.
At first it was a bit of a color change, a sort of greyness, even though the bark of many trees is often grey.  But it was a different kind of grey, a pale and ashen grey.  There was no vitality surrounding the tree.  All living trees give off a certain unseen vitality that is palpable when walking through the woods.  But the un-trees do not give off this vitality anymore.

A few more years passed.  The small twigs were the first to break off, then the small branches, and then the larger branches.  The un-tree became a large trunk with just a few broken-off large branches at the top, sharpened at the tips like spears.  The resident eagle liked to sit at the top because it gave such a clear and unobstructed view of the surrounding territory.  How strange and foreboding his silhouette looked way up there on a cloudy day.  The un-tree was still serviceable.

But with time, even those larger branches broke off, and the trunk seemed to shrink in height.  The bark peeled off, first in small patches, and then large patches fell off.  The long work of the insects had finally become evident.  The ravages of the many winters had left their mark, like claws raking across a brittle surface.  The rains swelled the inner body of the un-tree, and the harsh sun dried it out and bleached it.  Over and over, the un-tree became more un-treed. 

Then today I noticed a breach in the substance of the un-tree.  I put my eye right up to it and looked at the woods beyond.  Somehow, looking through the hole of the un-tree was different than just moving aside and looking past the un-tree at the woods beyond it.  I tried it several times, and I am certain that the view through the un-tree was different than the view to the side of the un-tree.

Withering little fibers hang from the hole and try to tell their story about the day they grew so strong and bright and tall.  But no one is listening.  The eagle has long since flown away and found a better perch.  Even the insects have abandoned it for a better deal.

Now all that is left is the view through the un-tree, and soon that will be gone, too.  The fibers will fall off and break down, and bit by bit each piece will dissolve and blow off into the wind as if it had never been.  Its substance will nourish creatures we cannot see, and the hidden view will disappear.

Like the old trick with the glass of water and the sugar—you’ve heard of it, no?  Take a clear glass of clean water.  Slowly add sugar to it, stirring with a spoon after each addition.  Let each addition dissolve completely and look into the clean and clear water.  Eventually, it will reach a saturation point where no more sugar can be dissolved, and as you look at the slowly swirling water at the top of the glass, suddenly crystals of sugar will materialize, seemingly out of nowhere, and swirl around and around in a vortex.  Out of nothing, something.

What dissolves in one world reappears in another world.  The un-tree may appear to be at the end of its journey, but somewhere else the journey has just begun.  Sometimes it is hard to know whether you are at the dissolving end of your journey or the appearing end of it.  When all is said and done, I suspect it does not really matter which is which.  The view through the un-tree remains.

Monday, August 21, 2017

August 21, 2017 - Eclipse


When the King bowed his head,
how the ancients trembled and feared!
What dread awaited, that the King should bow?
What menace was hidden in shadows?
That promised love, ebbing now,
a broken pact.
But He swore an oath!
He said He would always come.
Love now lies bleeding.
Yet man, whose heart contains the eternal spark,
gleams brilliantly still,
even in the shadows.
The King now kneels,
just another subject to the I AM.
And man discovers his own divinity.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

August 6, 2017 - On Being a Seed, Part VI

[This is Part VI of “On Being a Seed.”  Click Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V for the prior episodes.]

I did not die, not this time.  I continued to live and grow quickly, but the yellow and black and white striped creature also continued to live and grow quickly, completely at my expense.  It is both a humbling and infuriating position to be in because there is nothing that can be done about it.  I did my best to focus on myself, as always.

After my initial disgust with her, we began to talk at times.  It is sometimes lonely to be a green-ribboned being in a field full of other green-ribboned beings.  We were all alone together.  I had not ventured to speak with any of them, and they did not try to speak with me either.  Most of us silently swayed in the wind that caressed the field daily, our heads turned upward toward Him.  Most of us were in a state of rapture.

Monarch butterfly on milk weed.
But I was lonely and we talked.  I asked her what it was like to move wherever she wanted to go, to be in control of her whereabouts.  She would incline her head in a way I had become accustomed to and say, “I hadn’t considered that.”  Then she told me what it was like.  I asked her many, many questions, and if she could answer me, she would. 

Sometimes she would need a full meal to “consider” my question.  It was a painful price I had to pay because I was the meal.  She ate many of my beautiful leaves, and it was a good thing I was so very good at making more of them.  It was the magic of the King, of course, that I used to make them, and that was powerful magic, indeed. 

Once she asked me what it was like to be with the King, and I began to cry.  I tried to explain His magnificence, but my words fell desperately short.  For once, she was enthralled with what I had to say.  After I finished telling her of the communion with His gold, she said, “I hadn’t considered that.”

Shortly afterward, I saw her no more.  This made me very sad because I missed our talks, but one day I noticed a green pod attached under one of my broad leaves.  In the pod was my friend, I just knew it.  I was confused and also a little irritated because I knew how she got that green hue.  It was me.  I had become a part of my friend, or perhaps she had become a part of me.  But in any case, I sadly feared she was dead now.  She did not move.

How strange.  She had caused me so much pain and difficulty, but when she was gone and nothing was devouring my leaves anymore, she left a great void in her wake.  Oh, how I longed for her torture again.  Surely it was worth it to give up some of the liquid gold to have such a friend.  All life requires sacrifice, I thought, and without sacrifice, there is no life.

So now I turned my thoughts to life itself.  How beautiful it was!  I turned my face up toward the King and decided that I wanted to give Him a gift back.  It was the first time I had thought of willingly giving anything to anyone.  It would mean I would have less.  Sacrifice is blissfully painful, it seems.  So I created beautiful pink little things.  I didn’t know what they were.  They hung all about me like pink little fronds and wispy locks.  I delighted in them and fell in love with myself.

Imagine my surprise when I looked around the field and saw that all of my green-ribboned brethren had also created pink little wisps.  Together we swayed back and forth in the field as the wind played a melody that haunted me.  I knew I had heard the song before, but I could not remember where or when.  But what did it matter?  We all danced together.  I didn’t know I loved them before, but now I knew I did.  I longed to embrace them, but I could not move.  They acknowledged the same to me.  What were we to do?

And then I heard a tiny voice beside me, and I saw a magnificent winged creature.  She was black and white and orange and so very, very beautiful.  But I was confused.  I knew that voice.  It was the voice of my dead friend.  It was unmistakable.  I was absolutely certain it was my friend’s voice.  But this creature was not my old friend.  My old friend was green and yellow and black, and she crawled on tiny legs.  She did not have beautiful orange wings like this amazing creature did.

“Yes, it is me!” she laughed.

“But, how….” I began, but I could not voice my thoughts.

She just laughed at me, though, and told me I was still so silly and young.  There she was, poking fun at me again, but it was all good because I had missed her so.  I offered her a leaf, but she wrinkled up her nose in distaste and refused.

“Where have you been??!” I asked.

“I had a meeting with the Great Alchemist,” she explained, which made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.  She went on.  “Of all the creatures who abide by the Law, I am the only one who can have a direct audience and still be able to return.  This is why you see me now as I am and not as I was.”

She flitted about playfully among all of the pink little wisps that we had made for the King, sipping nectar and laughing gaily.  We swayed back and forth in the field, longing to touch one another, reaching out.

Suddenly, she stopped flying.  She looked at us all in amazement as we swayed back and forth in rhythm.  Then she laughed at us all the more.

“Silly things!  Know ye not that ye are gods??” she asked in astonishment.  And she flew away forever.

Her words echoed in my ears and in the ears of my friends in the field for a long time.  We swayed back and forth in the wind.  And then I knew, and this knowledge is the Second Blasphemy of the seed.  Know ye not, she had said, that ye are gods?  Then my eyes were blinded by the Light, by the brilliance of understanding, the veil having been finally removed from them.

[Click here for Part VII, the final part.]