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Create your own sunshine, she said
The walls you erect around you
hold the body, but not the soul
It is the mind’s choice to walk the corridors
of the shadow-land
where fear lurks as a transparent ghost
waiting to possess your form
Why pace the hallways you have already traveled
back and forth
as though Time can be captured?
What are you waiting for?
The return of a joy that slipped by you
after kissing, for a moment, your eager lips?
you, who are forever returning to the ghost
that wants to feed upon you
When the choice is always within you
to live free
in the boundless now
illumined in the full glory
of the ever-present soul
My contribution to Sue Vincent’s weekly #writephoto prompt. To participate, please click here.
Two years ago the weather was the same. The New Hampshire climate is not so different from the Peak District of England. April can be sunny and warm, or it can return, in a moment, to the icy hands of winter. Today in New England it is raining sleet, which is collecting upon the ground in growing layers of white. I imagine the still unopened buds on the daffodils and crocuses are pulling inward.
My own mind travels to the Nine Ladies Stone Circle in Derbyshire. Recalling the same pounding sleet that challenged our four seeking forms on the second day my family and I ventured out to find the circle. Or should I say evening? We chose the impending arrival of the night both times we sought the vaguely marked landmark. I, much more urgently seeking than my husband and children, who seemed more to indulge me than feel the need. The body, though, remembers the past, even the past that extends beyond its lifetime. There is an imprint that is made deep within the cellular matrix that connects to the soul’s lifetimes and it behooves one to take note of the triggers that bring the memories back to life.
I knew the land was testing me. Asking me what I was willing to remember. Asking me if I was ready to return to a time that pressed me beyond the brink of conscious memory. The forces that reside in these sacred sites of the moors are strong and very much alive, yet they are mostly unseen, serving as the haunting imprints of a past that was filled with a magic that we have mostly chosen to forget. Walking with the intention of awareness, though, one cannot help but feel it.
Or hear it. On the first night, there was the cry. Like a woman calling for a lost child. My daughter heard it too, so I knew I wasn’t going insane. Put the pull inward was fierce, and I could see an emotion that approaches fear on the faces around me. We left as the darkness began to descend to reveal the shadows of the far distant past more acutely. There are legends about people being lost in the moors and never returning. The elemental forces hold a rein here that is strong and often unrelenting. It serves to test your notion of survival as well as your willingness to remember what many have chosen to forget.
Winter is the season of dreaming. Of a hibernation that turns life inward toward the soul’s truths if we are willing to sleep with awareness. It seemed fitting, in many ways, that the sky chose to release winter’s return on our second venturing out to find the stone circle we never found on the first night. This time I was determined not to allow my body to be pulled to other landmarks, no doubt equally, if not more, significant for the journey. Yet, there was a reluctance, a fear, to venture into these shadowed lands that felt threatening. I was, simply, not ready to understand and to feel fully what it had to reveal. There is an initiation or re-initiation, that must occur, and I was not ready. I also had my family with me. A family that was there because of my urgings. The fierce need to protect over-rode everything else.
Despite the unrelenting skies, we found the circle. It seemed so small, and in many ways insignificant, or rather forgotten. The tree that hovered beside it was draped in gaudy finery, which I found repulsive. A desecration of the sacred. I resisted the impulse to pull down ribbons and naked plastic bodies of miniaturized women. Who does this? I wondered. This was not the worship of the past my cells knew. A place visited often enough, perhaps, but forgotten.
But still, the whispers of the past were there, haunting the sacred ground. They called through my body in a language I was trying hard to resist, but also to remember. It would take me another year to be ready. To willingly return to the moors (in a different area) and visit the sacred land with a memory fierce and very much alive. Thankfully, a year later, I walked back through time under the watchful eyes of those who are familiar with the forces of the land, lest I go too far astray.
“I only know how to ask…”
Probably the last thing she said to me, so many years ago. Age took her, then. But the memory of the touch of her mind and heart is a wonderful one. So gentle, so nurturing, and yet so very full of purpose…
“It’s a precious thing, to be allowed to nurture another.” Another memory. “It demands everything you have been, all the past – conditioned and unconditioned, that makes you what you are. Though none of that has value in the present save positioning”
It took me over twenty years to get to the point where I was ready; where I had the courage to say to myself – and to another – I don’t know.
“But now you know how to ask,” the warm words come back, almost as though they were said by a hidden group of people, all of them…
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The owl appeared as the resurrected phoenix during my last, formal meditation as a student of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness. At some point, the seeker becomes the seen as the threshold to the mysteries are opened. The wisdom that always lies in wait within is always just a conscious breath away, but humans can be shallow breathers. In my young adult novel The Labyrinth, which is due to be released in a month or so, the voice of an owl cuts through the darkness as teens search for what they cannot find.
“Whoooo Loooooks for Yooooou?” The owl calls out to them.
Ultimately, are we not all looking for our own selves? The truth of the soul that is often only allowed to exist fully in the false protection of the shadows. The eyes, therefore, must turn inward and grow accustomed to the dark, where eventually they learn to see the light held within. We are all seekers of wisdom, but sometimes it is worth asking what is the wisdom we truly seek?
The crow was waiting at the top of the building when I stepped outside the door of my final day of yoga teacher training. She cawed loud and strong, least I miss her presence, looking down at me as her eyes followed me to my car. Don’t forget who brought you here, she seemed to be saying, along with, you know this is only a beginning.
I have learned, over the course of these last three years in particular, how much endings are really just beginnings. Once we have crossed that threshold that marks the completion of a road along our journey, another road awaits us. The road is often unmarked or vaguely marked at best. if we knew what was waiting, would we walk with the open heart that requires trust and surrender?
And so I find myself walking across the threshold with eyes that have learned to see in the dark. Fear has become a friend that sometimes takes my hand to remind me of courage and I have grown comfortable with what is waiting to be known. I have learned that within each moment I can find the presence of teachers surrounding me. They are the trees outside my window and the birds that pass by. They are the people I encounter on the streets, and the dogs who share the couch as I write. My computer is my teacher, with all its quirks and challenges. And there is always, that ever-guiding light within.
I have become also, a friend of wait. Patience provides a soft hand that is worth holding for as long as it is offered. Magic is, after all, held in the present moment and if one pushes against the ever-flowing current of time it is lost.