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Obligatory Patriot Day Post

Because apparently we have to have a really cool sounding name for yet another tragic event in our recent history. Anyone else make the connection that we only ever have tragic events? We think they’re terrible because we generally live in comfort, making the contrast so much more extreme. We forget that many in the world and even in our own inner cities, rural backwaters, and places between live in tragedy and have comfortable events- if they’re lucky.

There’s no way to say all that without sounding like I’m minimizing tragedy that has occurred here. I’m not even going to try, since the people who know me know better.

Think, rather, on this.

The night after everything changed I was watching a news broadcast like most of the country. I saw a man who was waiting in an airport after his flights was rerouted and grounded. I don’t recall most of what was said but I clearly recall the stunned look on his face as he said- as though he was himself just realizing the words- “It’s not the same world it was 24 hours ago.”

I have often wondered if he knew then just how right he was.

The P Word

I’m about to unleash some profanity on my site. Imbrium is going to be talking about… politics.

Well, not really. But… really. It will make sense in a moment.

You see, I am totally fed up and frustrated with just about every political movement and party that I have encountered in my country- including those parties and movements which claim to be fed up with all parties and movements.

Why? Because they are all the same.

“You’re bad because this thing that you support gives me cold prickly feelings!”

“Well you’re bad because this thing that I support makes me warm and fuzzy feeling!”

(Thanks to John Michael Greer, Grand Archdruid of the AODA, for the phrasing.)

Cold pricklies! Warm fuzzies! You’re bad! No YOU’RE bad!

Holy sweet dancing stars, people. We are not five and this is not a playground.

It’s election season in the US. It’s a mid-term election, so not everyone cares this time, but it’s still election season. Not that elections make much difference. The same names wind up in the same offices over and over and we never really bother to ask why. Seriously, why? I hear complaint after complaint about the corrupt people in office… and then those same people get elected again. I don’t understand. If you’re unhappy with the folks in office, why would you re elect them? Or- more sinisterly- are they actually being re elected? The ramifications of that suggestion are quite frightening but not at all impossible given how hopelessly apathetic most of the American population has become.

Why have we gotten so apathetic? When did we stop giving a damn? I heard somewhere that more people voted on “Dancing with the Stars” than voted for their governors, senators or even president. I couldn’t find the proof for the claim but to be perfectly pessimistically honest I could believe it to be true. If anyone finds the proof for (or against- I would really like to be wrong on this one) that claim please share it with me.

What really raises my blood pressure is the way that specific opinions get lumped together into party lines. I really just want gay married couples to be able to defend their marijuana plants with their own guns while welfare recipients get drug tested using green and sustainable tech. It’s not that complicated. Can we focus on the fact that growth is not limitless, that goods and services have tangible value, that infrastructure is the lifeblood of a country this size, that without quality education we will lose any claim on our own future, that not everyone will have the same results even when given an equal opportunity, that if we don’t take care of our natural resources then none of the rest of it will matter? To talk to most of the people in my groups of friends and acquaintances, this is what an American political party would look like, but the opinions are split among several groups, forcing us to choose between ideas and beliefs that mean more to us.

Parties don’t work. This is my opinion. I don’t know a way around it, honestly, since we seem inclined to form cooperative groups. Perhaps it is our strangely American need to classify, collate, quantify and label every little thing? We don’t seem to deal well with ambiguity so that might be part of the reason we wind up in parties that seem to contradict themselves.

I don’t have an answer. I don’t. I have heard some ideas that might help, but none that will fix the underlying problems. It’s not just one problem. It’s not even a list of problems. It’s a tangled up interwoven mess of let downs, failures, bad judgement, historical horrors, human stupidity, human generosity and natural disasters.

There are some things that might help. Term limits on Congress might help. A drastic culling of the bureaucracy might help. Placing educational decisions back into the hands of educators might help. Redirecting funding to things like highways and grid upgrades might help. Breaking up a few of the larger corporations in the world might help. Is it even possible to launch a national campaign against the “bread and circuses” mentality that currently holds the population enthralled? That might help a lot.

We’re not going to agree with each other. That’s not even the goal. We’re not always going to get along. That’s not the goal either. I think all I really want is a return to intelligent debate instead of soundbyte wars, and a long hard look at the political machinery in the country- from the teeming masses of lobbyists all the way to the top- to see what needs to be ripped out and rebuilt. The American population could best be served by tearing their entranced gazes away from their mirrors, televisions and bank accounts. There are people, not out there in the world but right next door, who are hungry, hurting, illiterate, ill, wise, skilled, dangerous, helpful, well educated, widely educated, practical, idealistic and a whole slew of other things. Our politicians are lawyers and business men.

I don’t know about you but I don’t feel well represented.

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This rant has been brought to you by an increasing sense of futility and frustration and is not intended to do much of anything. We’re American after all. Big words is about all we’re good for anymore.

Let me tell you a tale… (3)

Time passes, rain falls, stars spin as the moon waxes and wanes and one foot tries to outpace the other. Always it was dim and gray on the paths beneath the trees. But the paths beneath the trees were no longer empty.

Dagan was doing his level best to make as little sound as his traveling companion. As time had passed, he had gotten pretty good at it. The silence that came so easily to the red haired man required Dagan’s total concentration to achieve. It was progress. Quite suddenly, in the corner of his eye, Dagan spotted movement. In his momentary distraction he missed his step and crunched down on a patch of dry leaves. The sound shattered the silence.

The red haired man chuckled softly- the first sound he had made in what felt like days- and asked without looking back “I take it the wolf interrupted you.”

Of course he would know.

“I couldn’t quite tell what it was, it went by so fast.” It was not until the words were out of his mouth that Dagan realized how afraid he should be, and wasn’t. Wolf? Wolf!

“You’re right not to fear this one, child.”

Of course he would know.

“It’s just another wanderer. You already knew that though, if you had been paying attention.”

Dagan didn’t answer right away. He’d long since learned that the man didn’t really expect him to, and that it was better to consider his words first anyway. Had he been paying attention? Obviously, since he’d been startled my movement. What had he been paying attention to? His movement. Why? He had been seeking silent movement. Why? To emulate his companion- or at least to emulate a skill he admired. That track makes sense. What else was out there, then? Something that had proven distracting. Movement. According to his companion, a wolf in the woods. Had the movement looked like a wolf? Dagan thought back. Low to the ground but not so low as the little skittering creatures; silent and very fast; had it had the rolling quality of a wolf in motion? Yes. Other things moved in similar fashions but not usually so silently. Wolf makes sense, then. So what was he missing?

“Don’t forget- the senses of your body are not your only senses, child.”

Of course he would know.

Dagan had learned better than to question comments like that one. Of course there were other senses. Hadn’t he experienced them himself in days, nights and nightmares past? The boy thought back, trying to recall whether anything had given him that strange sensation in the back of his head, a whisper along his shoulder blades or a dissonant vibration that he heard without hearing. Yes.. there had been something. Just a moment before the movement registered in his eyes there had been… something.

“Recognition and avoidance.” The red haired man said. “Of course, I would know.”

That, Dagan did not doubt.

They walked in silence for some time after that, with no other signs of life in the dim woods to either side. There were other creatures out there, the boy knew. Sometimes he would hear an owl cry, or see the whisper of rusty fur as a fox slunk along just at the edge of some clearing. Once he had looked up- after a particularly dissonant sensation- just in time to see a large bird of prey wheeling across a break in the trees.  Sometimes if they were still they might hear a soft slithering sound but that was very rare and only seemed to happen when they were far between openings in the woods.

Finally, Dagan voiced one of the questions that had been gnawing at his mind for a long time. “Why is it so empty in the woods?”

The red haired man looked back a moment at that. “Is it empty?”

Oops. Dagan thought. Wrong words. He tried again “Why does it seem to empty in the woods?”

“Better. It seems empty because it is empty.” The man turned his attention back to the path. Dagan tried to keep his exasperation from leaking out, knowing full well that it wouldn’t do him any good.

But the boy was growing, and he wasn’t going to give up just yet. He thought for long minutes before he said “Why then do so few others wander in the woods where we might see them?”

“Ah.” The red haired man stopped in his tracks. “A much better question.” When he turned there was a smile on his face, one that seemed to wash away years of bitterness and living by its mere presence. Dagan wondered if he had just said something brilliant and might actually get an answer or if he had said something very stupid and was about to be made to sound a complete fool. He thought he had done it right this time.

The man turned to the side of the path and beckoned Dagan to follow. “Come, child, there is something you should see.” Though the idea of leaving the path was frightening, Dagan followed.

They wound single file through dense trees. They crossed a stream and Dagan was surprised to see it filled with small fish. On a log above the stream a vixen sat, eying them curiously and without fear. When Dagan glanced back she was gone. The terrain shifted again, and both wanderers had to climb up a steep bank, grasping at protruding roots to aid their climb. The light was still dim but the sensation of life and movement around them was stronger than ever. Dagan was confused. Thin places, places where the red haired man would lead them through into the world again were usually also filled with life but the light changed to reflect the time of day or night they were about to enter. Dagan felt by the light and the lack of disorientation he usually felt when stepping out of the woods that they were in fact still well within the woods. Yet… here was life and a lot of it.

“Some things do live here.” The man said quietly “slippery, sneaking things for the most part. And some wonderful things.  Most just come through on their way to somewhere else. That’s what makes this path different than the ones we’ve been using. Mind the thorns.”

And thorns there were. At the top of the hill was a hedge of briars taller than any man and hopelessly deep. On the other side Dagan sensed… space. He started to speak but his companion silenced him immediately.

“Say nothing. Make no sound at all if you can. We are close to a road and I do not wish to be seen by those that travel on roads.”

Dagan nodded. What else could he do? There was an edge of command in the man’s voice that Dagan had heard only rarely. He would not brook anything but obedience at this moment and Dagan knew he had his reasons.

Dagan was eying the wall of briars and so he felt but didn’t see his companion move. The red haired man stood at his shoulder and reached one deceptively slim hand to rest on Dagan’s arm. “Now child, pay attention to all of your senses.” There was no other warning. Total disorientation followed. Earth and sky seemed confused as to which of them belonged where and senses seemed determined to do each other’s jobs in his mind. The whisper of wind tasted clear and cool while the ground- which finally found its proper place- pulsed in his eyes as red gold light.

The brambles looked very, very tall.

Dagan felt very, very small.

He looked down.

The earth was right in front of his nose.

His pointed, furry nose that he could see in front of him. He felt himself jump involuntarily and realized that the black furred paws he could see were… his.

He was a fox.

Dagan had lost all track of time while he was wandering in the woods. He knew that the last time they had stepped out into the world he had needed to work for new clothes that would actually fit his new height. He had helped with harvests in multiple places and he was not entirely sure that all harvests had happened in the same season. Time was strange and he had spent a lot of it wandering. Had it been any less time, had he been any less aware of just who his companion was, he would have panicked completely.

It was a very near thing.

He had learned, though, that all new situations brought new information and the best thing to do if one had the time was to gather as much of that information as possible. Carefully, Dagan thought his way down his new body. Twitchy adorable nose, eyes that looked at everything from unknown angles, ears that could hear another heartbeat immediately behind him, the paws were strange and caught at the earth very oddly until he realized- claws. Wind ruffled the fur down his sides and… tail? Well that was new.

The heartbeat behind him shifted and another fox came into view. It cocked its head at him in a very familiar way and then began to slink silently into the wall of briars, finding a path that no human shape could have traveled. Dagan tried to follow and quickly found out that he had no idea how to move this body. For a moment frustration welled up in him, along with a fair amount of panic. Then an image came into his head of the vixen sitting on the log over the stream. He thought about how she had… sat? posed? balanced? No… been.

Slowly, Dagan followed the older fox into the briars.

They reached a place in the maze of thorns where they could just see through to the other side. Stillness, silence, and the briars themselves would keep them hidden from any passersby. They waited. In fact, he was surprised at how long they waited. His legs began to feel stiff and uncomfortable, his fur itched where he was unused to the sensation, the wind teased his ears with strange sounds. Again, Dagan felt the image of the vixen over the stream enter his mind. Her stillness was absolute. Dagan tried to recall what sort of whisper she had made in the senses that were not of the body. She had barely made any at all. So Dagan tried to quiet himself, not just his body but his mind also. He listened to the steady beating of the other fox’s heart. He listened to his own. He slowed his breathing. He let himself sink down into that red and gold he had seen when he changed shape. It held him. Then the dissonant rhythms faded and there was only the sound of one heart beating and it beat in time with the red and gold light.

What is time, anyway?

Something nudged his shoulder and Dagan found his strange moment shattered. He heard his companion’s voice. “Not so deeply, child, not yet. Watch.”

Shaking his head, Dagan looked back out at the road as the sensations of light and stillness faded away like fog in the sun. There was someone on the road. Dagan looked more closely. There were several someones on the road, but he did not think that they were aware of each other. They moved all out of time with one another, stepping into each others’ paths and tripping each other up. He wondered if they knew why they stumbled. They were young, mostly women, and wearing some of the strangest clothing Dagan had ever seen. As they passed by Dagan heard them clearly though he did not know their language. They babbled to themselves and to others he could not see. They grated against his ears that were not really the ears on his body in such a way that he cringed, even though a physical reaction was not likely to have any effect.

When they had gone, the other fox rose from his place and turned to leave. Dagan followed.

Outside of the briars and away from the road Dagan felt himself relax a bit. The sensation of being crowded was fading just in time for a sudden spasm of tangled senses and twisted directions to snarl around him again. For a moment Dagan felt himself standing upright again- and then he was sprawled inelegantly on the ground.

The red haired man laughed softly. “Human is such an awkward shape.”

Standing up quickly, Dagan wanted to burst into questions. A look from the man stopped him. Not yet. Still, he could feel all the questions- what? How? Who?- screaming inside his head like wasps. Dagan’s mental strength was about worn through after everything that had happened. He wasn’t sure he could keep quiet until they were back wherever the red haired man was leading him now.

Down the hill, across the stream, the vixen’s log, through the dense stand of ancient trees and there was the familiar feeling of stillness and aloneness under the gray trees. All the way, Dagan held his tongue. It wasn’t easy. Finally his companion stopped just short of the path’s edge. There was a small open space there with a great long stone just breaking the surface of the mossy ground. The red haired man stopped at the stone and seated himself with his back to the rock. “Find wood, child, we both need to eat.”

The last time the red haired man had made him swallow his questions and go about a mundane task, Dagan had reacted like most children. He’d asked anyway, seeking the comfort of answers instead of taking the offered opportunity. The red haired man had not reacted kindly to the tantrum. Now, though, Dagan understood something. He was being told to go and let his mind rest. Let things settle, focus on the senses of the body and let the others recover before trying to sort out everything that had happened.

Dagan went hunting for firewood.

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To be continued.

The Tide is Turning!

The sweet gum tree in the yard- always the first to show the changing seasons- has begun to drop golden leaves on the yard. The goats think they are delicious. Today I saw a katydid on the window sill. Summer is coming to an end.

Now if only the temperatures would catch up with the rest of the seasonal signs….

Ending a Walk

I should have posted this a while ago but for the reasons listed in the previous post, that wasn’t possible.

Those who have been following for a while are already aware that I’ve spent most of this last year paying particular attention to the influences of the Reaper in my life. Walking with the Reaper has been an invaluable experience and not something I would ever, ever take back. The close walk is over.

There will be details left out. Please for the love of whatever don’t think that this is everything that went on.

I can not say exactly when I first crossed paths with the Reaper. I recall a presence on the edge of my awareness ever since childhood that I have come to associate with the Reaper- an eerie and profound combination of sadness, depth, gentleness and utter immovability. No entity has stirred my soul to melancholy, poetry, or brutal practicality with quite the same power or finesse. The Reaper has been and will continue to be, at least in my own heart, my Lord of Autumn.

Toward the end of the walk, which began last August, I began to have a series of dreams. In each dream, while the symbolism changed, the meaning was the same. I was being asked to make a choice. I think, that if I had taken one set of symbols I might already be dead and safe in the Reaper’s hands. But I didn’t.

Each dream and dream fragment began the same way. I died. The method varied and some were more painful, more ignoble, more heroic, more unremarkable than others. Each time when I woke I stood before three figures. One to my left stood swathed in robes of black that seemed to defy any breath of air or glimmer of light. It was as if a piece of the abyss had broken free and chosen to walk abroad. To my right stood another figure, sometimes hard to see clearly but always beautiful. Everything he said had a tinge of laughter in the words. Sometimes the laughter was bitter, sometimes soft, sometimes open and full of joy. The third figure stood behind me and I knew him by his voice: deep and rough and made of steel. I heard my Lord Father’s voice say “Choose.”

It is not a choice I wanted to make. Being essentially a spoiled spirit, used to not having to work but so hard for the talents that come to me, I did not want to pick a side. But I am Lord Father’s child.

One spoke to me then, in a voice woven out of silence and mist. “You see Me truly and for that alone I could love you. But you are you, and for that alone I do love you. You will come to me in time as all must. What you have learned is yours. You can come with me now if that is your choice. Come and dance with me, but rescind your place in this realm.”

And I wished to follow that one into the cool quiet, into the depths.

One spoke to me then in a voice like smoke with heat and laughter behind every word. “There is nothing I can give you, dragon, to compare to the peace and rest the other offers. I see you, and I tell you that you are needed here and now. I will be with you, by your side, in your heart and mind. I will push you, re make you, challenge, break, and re forge you. I will teach you to fight, to flow, and to be you wherever you are. It will hurt. Come dance with me, here and now, for beauty and for pain.”

And I was afraid to follow that one into the fire, but he had said something that I had to follow. It is the one thing that makes me the most me. It is the one thing that makes me, more than any other trait, Lord Father’s child.

“Father,” I asked “Am I needed here, now? Is there no one else who can do this job?”

“There are others.” He answered me “But there are none who can do it as well.”

That has always been the one question that would change my mind. Always. And they both knew it.

So I reached across the intervening distance…

And grasped the Trickster’s hand.

Poke… poke…

I’m not dead, I promise. At least, not to the best of my understanding of the term.

I’ve been unable to meet the trifecta of working internet, computer with a keyboard, and free time so I have been unable to post. That doesn’t mean that things haven’t been going on.

Here’s a run down.

In the purely grubby mundane world things are going reasonably well. The gardens are stuttering in the heat and I’m down another laying hen after a heat wave. Still, four brown leghorns have been averaging three eggs a day so I can’t complain. The yearling whether is fattening up nicely and the kids that will be next year’s yearling and young doe are looking pretty good. No health problems so far and good size and activity. The little whether is kind of an idiot, as goats go, but that’s fine too. I haven’t been down to check the ponds recently but one of the cousins has and she says that the fish stocks (smallmouth bass and blue gill) are low but holding even in the heat. Not much worth frying  up yet but they’re still recovering from a massive fish kill a couple summers ago. Seriously we lost about 80% of the pond population.

Connecting the mundane and (for lack of any  better term) woo is the circle of friends and family that I have been rediscovering this summer. Apparently my brother, at least one cousin, said cousin’s wife and one of our mutual friends from years back are all on similar paths. We have been for years and never knew it. We’ve been spending more time together this summer. We’ve helped each other move, burned many a candle together, chanted many a chant and attended many a concert. We’ve been reunited these last few months and now I would not willingly be without these people again. I begin to understand why the society in which one lives was the real cornerstone in the lives of ancient people. The difference in my own outlook, sense of internal stability and strength is so much greater for having a group around who accept and support me. I would not have thought that the difference would be so very great, since I have spent most of my life with no close friends and estranged from my extended family. Life is more enjoyable this way.

Life also has room for expansion this way. We’re taking steps to expedite the off grid set up. The camper has been a very useful band aid to get me out from under rent and help me get rid of extraneous stuff but it won’t do for a long term home. The plans have been enlarged to create an almost dormitory style residence with minimal energy requirements, intended to house three or four people in very close quarters. It won’t be the comfortable space we’re all used to but it will get us all into a financial position where we can save money for other plans which will not be revealed to the public just yet.

It also gets more of the available labor pool on the farm where the labor is needed. The folks have been having a harder and harder time keeping up with things like feeding goats and mowing grass and tending gardens and preserving produce so having people there more often who can tend to those chores will help a lot in terms of having space and food available for all of us. Since “budget” has become the byword of the times, this seems like a good move.

Having people there might make some pursuits more difficult. We all like each other and get along reasonably well (for the record, “we” in this case is referring to only a couple of the family and friends group- others are settled closer to their own jobs or otherwise aren’t interested) but we also know that living in close quarters will wear on anyone’s temper after a while. Plenty of time out doing other things and working other jobs will be required if we’re going to stay more or less sane. I think we’re all ok with that though. We have a pretty good idea of what we’re getting into.

Which only leaves the wonderful world of woo and weirdness to ramble about for a while, but that’s going to take another post. Stay tuned.

Music Share

Check this thing out because it’s playing in my head all day while I hand out band-aids and sympathy on an ambulance.

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