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My Little Chapel By the Sea

The evening is grey and quiet and shaken with wind. We have had such awful heat lately, this wildness brings some hope for cooling rain. It will obscure the super blue blood moon eclipse, but I don't mind that myself. Every moon is a miracle to me. Last night it drifted so gently through the night sky, with just a little scab of dark along one edge to prevent it being full ... I don't know why full should be special; to me, the becoming is just as beautiful.

The little hanging chimes I have, made ouf of beads and seashells, are swaying, and I could sway too because the wind calls the heart to dance. As I look around the room, seeing the mess, I notice tiny lovely things too - the chimes, my grandmother's lace tablecloth, some jasmine I gathered from a hedge while out riding the other night. They are not in an instagram-worthy environment, but on nights like this, when real feels better than any nice photograph, that doesn't matter. They are like small offerings in a chapel. A quiet, ordinary chapel by the sea where prayers come as swept floors, clean sheets, wild jasmine. Where communion is breakfast, moonlight the altar. And every day is sacred.

illustration james r. eads

When Self-Care Isn't Enough

The day is long and beautiful. There is so much you can do for yourself. Whole lists of things, you can find them online or in magazines - self indulgences, self care, hygge. You can buy them at any store. You can paint your nails, have a candlelit bath, go on a date with yourself. Permission is granted, just ask any woman and she will agree - we are allowed these days to spend all our thoughts on ourselves, we can be free, we don't need anyone else to give us our sense of happiness.

But if this is true, why do we keep talking about it, pressing the point? And why is it so popular to look back with nostalgia on the old farming days, the depression days, when women were busy all the time in the service of others?

Why do we find when night comes that painted nails are not enough to help us sleep contented?

Maybe it's more true that, while there's loveliness in looking after ourselves, there's JOY in looking after others.

Maybe evolutionary theory and spiritual theory are both right in this. Fulfillment is "the meeting of a requirement, condition, or need." Maybe we best find fulfillment in helping and loving others because it's an inherent condition of our human existence.

People need people. Perhaps not all the time, in every room at every moment. (And for some, replace people with birds, horses, flowers.) But by centering your purpose in the love and care of others you may find a fulfillment and soul replenishment you can't from nail polish.

Cooking a meal for your family.
Writing a book you hope will entertain or inspire others.
Cleaning a room so it's more comfortable for your children.
Noticing when someone needs their socks darned.
Gathering roses for your best friend.
Getting up early to cook breakfast for your husband before work.
Smiling at passersby.
Keeping an eye on your elderly neighbour.
Painting your grandmother's nails.

Doing something for another person creates double the happiness - yours and theirs.

I read in the paper over and again about how, all around the world, loneliness is killing people. It seems that, regardless of what the women's magazines would sell you, we are not individuals gathered in one space.

We are family.

I don't subscribe to evolution, and my spirituality is hard to explain. But what I do believe is ultimately very simple : Love is at the heart of existence. Love is our home and our true fulfillment. Care for yourself, of course, absolutely. And care for others - it is love (and life) spread wide, made deep.

The Leshy's Captive

I have been into the forest on an old forsaken island, where silence stands in the spaces between the trees. I can't tell you for sure that I came out again. Sometimes at night, or in the worst heat of a summer's day, I feel fungal shadows inside my bones, and the touch of pine needles against my cheek. I can hear silence, regardless of traffic noise and children playing. And this is when I think not that I'm still in the forest, but the forest is in me, perhaps even more so than I am myself - that one afternoon when I was thirteen I wandered through a forgotten forest far out to sea, and got taken up by the trees.

For Ursula

"Who knows where a woman begins and ends?... I have roots deeper than this island. Deeper than the sea, older than the raising of the lands... older than the Making, older than the moon." - from Tehanu

I first came to Earthsea through Atuan and its tombs and Tenar. Actually, years before I read that book I pored over paintings inspired by Atuan which were in an art book of fantasy worlds given to me by my brother. Excerpts and images from Tenar's story drew me long and slow into the whole of it; I finally borrowed it at a library, and went on from there to buy the whole series. (I almost never get to buy books, but some you simply have to.) 

So for me, strangely, the stories of Earthsea were about Tenar. Even the stories that did not include her, about young Ged, and then Ged and Arren travelling to the farthest shore, taught me mostly about the men Tenar loved, and why she loved them. I don't know why I took these stories in such a womanly way. Perhaps it's because I related strongly to Tenar, to the homespun life she chose, to her sensible strong ways that were, in my mind, real magic - the magic of healing silences in people, between people. 

Because Tenar was the heart of the stories for me, I saw with her an arc of how Earthsea and its magic evolved towards at least the first glimmerings of feminism. And I saw how this did not happen through great events or political force, but in intimate moments, personal relationships, the transformative powers of love. 

Through her books, Ursula gifted me with the certainty that a woman's simple life is important, beautiful, magical, heroic. That it is worth writing about. 

I'd been rereading The Other Wind only last week. When I heard yesterday that Ursula had died, it seemed to me part of the story. She had gone walking in the forest. I feel heartbroken that we have lost yet another light just when we need it. And I weep for the terrible times we find ourselves in, that the passing of elders is more than a sorrow, it is a fearful thing which leaves us feeling even more bereft than public grief normally does. 

Weaving Circles of Leadership

The day is a mandala of light, shadow, song.

I have been thinking about leadership, particularly when it comes to conservation and community care. My perspective of this subject is influenced by having lived most of my life in a small country where there are only two degrees of separation between most people, and where we are blessed to house a mix of family-centred cultures. Individuals do not tend to stand out because our focus is on working together. We also are good at acknowledging all members of a team. Coalition is now the norm in our politics, and co-operation and harmony have great value in our shared community.

The cult of individualism which prevails in the north-west of the world (what is generally known as Western Civilisation) means that certain people are selected for admiration with little acknowledgement of the community effort which invariably supports great acts. Even when a person rushes into danger to save another, where is the appreciation for their family who raised them to such decency and courage? When a sportsperson makes an amazing win, where is the praise for their coach? In Aotearoa, we are somewhat more inclined to a wider view, perhaps because we are still a relatively young and cosy nation, or perhaps due to the Pacific and Asian influences here, although most probably both.

I believe we will never solve our problems, especially those of conservation and community health, if we focus our attention on individual leaders. We must work together, valuing the efforts of everyone and believing that even the smallest of us can make a difference. You may not be able to speak at an international forum on climate change, but you can pick up rubbish as you walk along the beach. Both things are important. The international speaker probably doesn't have much opportunity for beach-cleaning, after all, and the job needs doing just as urgently as speech-making. These two acts ought to be celebrated equally, and connected in our social consciousness not as individual acts but as strands of the whole movement towards healing nature.

You may never have the opportunity to rush into a crashed train or a burning building, but every single day you encounter people, and your words, even your smile, absolutely might save the spirit or life of someone who is struggling with problems you never know about. The power of community is endless and vitally important.

Someone I count as a guide in this way is Lesley Austin, who offers the Wisteria & Sunshine online community. Lesley has always lived an authentic earthwise life, and has much wisdom to share. But she does so as a weaver, her hands and heart always open to new threads from others; she facilitates communities so that the wisdom of all can be heard and honoured. I believe this is what a modern form of leadership should look like. It is, of course, a very very old form of it, dating back to when women were equal to men, because consensus is the natural feminine way.

Infact, consensus is the natural way of life.

As I finished writing this, I learned that Ursula le Guin has died. She was another beloved guide for me, and I was particularly blessed to have read her book Always Coming Home. I wish her much joy and wonder on her journey forward, and thank her for all she gave the world.

There Was A Storm

lush rain falling
the sky unspooled
a light from inside the world
peace, healing, hope

the river rushing over black rocks

a bird song trembling
through the late auburn light
and my own heart trembling
waiting for night

sometimes I think our cells play symphonies we have no awareness of
great music swelling, then gentling, old tunes of the half-forgotten universe
deep within us
and we find ourselves roused to dance
or wary of the world for no apparent reason at all
only the unheard, but felt, music in our blood

will you read this I wonder without a picture ... will you fall in for only words?

The Rain and the Song

My day began and ended with rain. It seems like it always should. Water is change. It is the veil between was and will be, here and the otherworld. We are born through it, King Arthur sailed it to Avalon, Jesus made it into his blood like wine, Ceridwen kept it in a cauldron of transfiguration and poetic inspiration, the Snake-Goddess heals us through her underworld springs. When it rains I have to believe in the divine, because nothing so mythic, so powerful for body and spirit, could be a merely accidental sticking-together of atoms.

Cicadas are singing their long song; I wonder, what myths might they have about the transition into light, and do they sing these as they call for a mate? Do they sing the sun and the rain, or in memory of the buried dark? Do they think of our world as an outer world into which they have emerged, or an inner one into which they have delved? Have you ever noticed that, when you start asking questions, and reaching for a strange sympathy for other life forms, your own perception of the world becomes more magical?

photographer unknown

The Pilgrim Leaf

A leaf is cartwheeling up the path. It clatters like one of the bright wooden devices my favourite primary school teacher would pull out of a basket and call a musical instrument. It is making a travelling song.

This leaf, it's been in the sky, and now it moves along paths and grasses, luminous and dirt-specked, waiting until the wind is done with it, and the light gone off it, so it can begin the long disintegration back into the belly of the earth.

And now it's coming down the path again - going nowhere really, just around and about as the breezes play - but making a journey of Life, regardless.

I guess we could all say the same.

Blessings of an Evening Sky

The moon is a grove of light
where we can lay our wishes.

The moon is the sacred heart of the world.

The moon is a mother
made mother by the sun.

The wind is dreaming through the trees.

As I went through the world this evening I decided what I want to do with my public space is share some of the beauty and the blessings that I notice every day. I will try for every day. Maybe just a few words sometimes, maybe several, maybe a story or not. Partly it is to simply share, because I think we all need as much beauty as we can these days, and maybe it will inspire you to look for blessings too (and share them in the comments section). But partly also it is a devotional. I believe any space can be a church, and I'd like to use this one in such a way. 

I may change the template here as I go along, or may not. Often I spend too long looking for images to go with posts, and I'd like to free myself of that obligation perhaps. 

The Inner Winter

Dear friends, I am going to take respite for a while, a time of quiet, an inner winter. I need to listen to the old stories and I can't do that well if I'm always thinking of what to say myself. I might be gone a day or a week or who really knows ... not for long, I'm not good at silence ... and I will still be at twitter and facebook a little ... I will return when I have seeds and songs to share.

Here is something small for the meanwhile.

Tin and tambourines
On midsummer's morning
Copper and a haul of briny dreams

Hare leaping, moon rising
Out of the wild green fields
Of grass and the sea

Walk your way to quickening
Run your way to joy
Follow the furred moon's feet

Star and silver harps
On winterheart's eve

Lay my love down to peace

The Ordinary Woman in a Strange World

The day is soaked and grey. I sit here with wet cloths on my bad sunburn and shiver slightly in the damp breeze. Such is life on an island at the edge of the world - one day fierce summer, the next day a storm.

I suppose it's a perfect time for swaying between (re)reading the ostentatiousness of Gormenghast and the eerie bare bones of The Owl Service. I will come down ultimately on the pleasant ground of Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword, with its cheerful ordinary kind of heroine: I always seem to end up with ordinary.

But I have to say that, despite my own ordinariness, and while I love the grand and marvellous wonder of a Gormeghast or a vivid summer's day, this is an eerie world when you look at it properly, and that's what feels real. More real than clocks, tea tables, swords. Ordinary is, I think, our defence against the wild truth. I have lived in forests and behind old mountains, in the city and suburbs, and everywhere I've seen watchers, I've heard whispers, I've felt the power at the edge of the light. Often, often, I've sensed that humankind shares a border with forces that are not supernatural but deeply, profoundly natural. I wrote about it in Suburban Magic, although perhaps more benignly than I ought to have. A storm always reminds me that humankind's sweet, busy, ostentatiously ordinary world can be stripped away any moment, and beneath it there is an otherworld that we used to understand, centuries ago, but have now walled up (or so we think) behind apartment blocks, electric lights, breakfast dishes, smartphones.

The Beloved Day

What can I tell you about a night that's almost-dark? About that vulnerable half hour when the sky has softened, become denuded of all but the quietest pink light? Coming inside from it, I can tell you that it is gently held. The day does not go down alone. It isn't abandoned by the sun but carried with it, as if the sun has a pocket, or holds the day in its cupped hands against its heart.

I can tell you that everywhere I look at the world, I see love.

The Winged Woman

Wind is dancing through my house, stirring shawls and curtains, making it seem like the rooms have wings inside of them. The idea captivates me. When we think of wings as the manifestation of our spirit, our determination and hope, we envision them rising from shoulderblades, feathered or translucent, lifting us up to our dreams. But what if our wings are inside us? What if they are not material things, or even made of cloth-of-wishes, but are wind?

The breath of the Great Spirit, or God, or the trickster-god, or the lord of Change - the stirring of wild love through us all.

Perhaps we are uplifted by something that is within us but not of us, and all we are required to do is trust in love ... to open our mental doors, open our soul windows, and let it through, let it move us to where we might go.

photograph by vivienne mok

The Comfort of Rain

I opened my door this morning to a promise of rain. I had not expected it. I had not even intended to open the door, but there was a coolness and a shadow in the room that suggested an interesting sky, even with all the curtains closed.

Already I can see the fierce brightness of summer bleaching away the edges of the storm, and I know my chances of rain are small. I'd like to say the promise was enough. The momentary comfort of chilled air, the beauty of grey where it has too long been blank merciless blue. But the truth is, I want that promise fulfilled - rain. I want the faint thundery wind to be saying something meaningful.

And yes ... it has just fallen, gentle and white, a moment like a poem. Now even the light lying across my table is sanctified. The world smells of soil and leaf and secrets. I still do not believe in promises, I've had too much summer for that. But I remember that rain can exist, somewhere behind the sun.

 photograph by Miguel Constantin Montes

Owls and Stars

Thank you to everyone who read my earlier post, and to those who left a comment. I appreciated your words so much. I decided to delete the post because I felt I was getting tangled up. January is always "the ditch of the year" to me, and I'm determined that while I'm down here this time I will look for stars in the dark water. I will rest on weedy shores and sing myself songs that will make the kind of skies I want for the year to come. I should tell you now what I'm telling myself - I don't want anything ordinary. The world (and the blog world) has plenty of ordinary.

Yesterday I read The Owl Service by Alan Garner for the first time. It was mesmerising, haunting, and not only in its story but in the way it was written. I especially loved how the most powerful elements were never actually seen. The mother, owls ... It was the kind of storytelling that makes me feel utterly clumsy with words and reminds me why I often am more comfortable with poetry - because you can make with it a silence from potency; you can write words that have been shocked and fractured by a force that is never actually seen and yet the whole poem, in its half-wrecked body, exists for it. The Owl Service was a poem, a rain against hillshadow, a moment after some wrong sound, a masterpiece.

It also reminded me profoundly of the house where I grew up, so there's that too.

illustration by darren hopes

The Magic of Dragons and Dust

"I think... that when I die, I can breathe back the breath that made me live. I can give back to the world all that I didn't do. All that I might have been and couldn't be. All the choices I didn't make. All the things I lost and spent and wasted. I can give them back to the world. To the lives that haven't been lived yet. That will be my gift back to the world that gave me the life I did live, the love I loved, the breath I breathed."

- Ursula le Guin, The Other Wind

Yesterday, The Other Wind arrived on my doorstep. I read it right through. Today it lingers in my heart like a dragon's claw or the memory of sun flashing against a high window. This is the third time I've read it, and I've gone deeper into it than before; next time, who knows how much deeper I will go.

I came late to the Earthsea books, but I'm glad. I came to them after I'd lived on an island of heat and stone and dust, after I'd sailed, slept under the stars. The books did not so much lead me into enchantment but accompanied me through my knowledge of what enchantment feels like. I have been in Tenar's dark and in her farmhouse kitchen; I have lived in the wind, looking for dragons.

This morning, I was thinking of how profoundly, and with only sparse simple words, Ursula creates images in my mind, and I was wondering what other books that reminds me of. Then I realised - none. Earthsea reminds me of itself. And of places in my own world. That's how real it feels.

illustration by jeanie tomanek

ps: A fairly new reader of my weblog tells me she assumed I was a teenager. I'm curious now. For those of you who have read my online writings for a while, and who have read my books, how old would you guess I am?

A few Judgments

An old woman is waiting to cross a busy street. Six people walk past and do not help her.

1. A woman who has just learned she is pregnant after several years of trying. She is deep in thoughts about how she will tell her husband the news.

2-4. Three men who are on their phones. All three spend forty hours a week on those phones, or on their computers, and all too often walk oblivious through the world. They are hyper-focused on work so they don't need to go into overtime; so they can be with their families are much as possible - play games with their children, cuddle with their wives. They are working not for nice cars or fancy holidays, but to buy things like medicine, school books, braces. If they had seen the old woman, they would have helped her, smiling and gently joking as they helped her across the road, because that's the kind of men they are.

5. A young woman who is desperately shy. She sees the old woman and wants to help her, but the fear of it is too much. Not only the fear of taking a risk - will the old woman sneer or laugh at her? - but the fear of how she'll lie awake that night shivering, remembering every word she said, every stare of every passerby, even if it was the right thing to do. (Instead, she goes home and lies awake berating herself for not helping the old woman.)

6. A young man who has a migraine and urgently wants to get home to a dark room. He barely even sees the old woman through his migraine aura.

A woman is sitting on a park bench, staring at her phone, while her child plays on the jungle gyms.

1. She is texting family for updates on her grandmother, who has just had a stroke.

2. She is gently trying to teach her shy child a little bit of independence.

3. She has spent all morning playing with her child, reading him stories, and has now brought him to the park to play with neighbourhood friends so she can have a breather.

4. She is reading research for an essay she has to write tonight, what with being a university student bringing up her child alone and hoping to make a better life for both of them.

5. She is reading facebook and having a little me time in the sun while her child plays happily.

6. She is well aware her child has fallen over and bumped his knee, but she can see it's not serious and she hopes that, by giving him space, he'll pick himself up and develop a bit of resilience.

7. She sees her child is in dispute with another child. She believes they will work it out for themselves, and thus further develop their socialisation skills, rather than having an adult fix it for them.

8. She is being lazy for a little while, what with being a real human being and all.

A woman has her child on a leading string.

1. The child is autistic/mischevious/lively and all it would take is a moment's distraction and he'd run off into possible danger.

2. She has lost him before and the terror was so great, she needs this support until he has learned better obedience.

3. She had a difficult life before becoming a mother and is overly anxious about everything.

4. She knows someone whose child ran into traffic.

5. She used to be a police officer and now sees potential danger everywhere.

6. It's what she thinks is best for her child at this particular time.

The cure for sanctimonious judgment is a dash of imagination mixed with a dash of empathy. I wish we would all be more gentle with each other.

Woman On A Summer Evening

She goes out in the calming of the day and gathers in all the pieces of herself that fretted away through the brighter hours -

contentment that was carried off by mutterings
dreams she dropped in the garden among weeds and sunburned flowers
forgotten things
smiles that dissolved in humidity
tears that she said were perspiration
the worry-worry-worries that came to nothing in the end
ideas that flared like a reflection of sun in the neighbour's window
random moments of peace

They are quiet, softened, like the precursors of stars.

She takes them back in. And as she closes the door, the night gently darkens.

A Summer Reading List

I was wondering if it's time for a book post, but surely it's always so? I have been enjoying those of others recently, and decided to offer my own.

I am currently reading Thornyhold by Mary Stewart, on the ever-reliable recommendation of Melissa Wiley. I didn't think it was my style, but am finding it addictive. I don't think I've read Mary Stewart before, but it's been a long life filled with thousands of books, so perhaps I have.

Next on my list is The Owl Service by Alan Garner, which I've never read despite it twice being in my house. I adore the old Welsh myths however, so I'll be trying it again. Sometimes when I'm without an actual book, I imagine out those myths, making a book of them in my mind - especially the tale of Arianrhod & Gwydion (which my long term readers may remember I love), but also Rhiannon, Ceridwen, and Blodeuwedd.

I also have coming The Other Wind, which is the final Earthsea book by Ursula le Guin, not necessarily my favourite of the series but essential for my collection (my favourite is The Tombs of Atuan read in conjunction with Tehanu, with Wizard & Farthest Shore for back story and The Other Wind to tie it all up so okay my favourite is the whole series).

And I am waiting on The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery, the second half in particular which I love, perhaps even more than the Anne books. It's more adult but has a luminous spirit which enchants me on a grown-up level. I've only ever read it online, so will be excited to have it in my hands. Hopefully the cover will be quaint and unsuited to the story - I grew up with the strange, ugly cover art of second-hand paperback novels and have a real soft spot for it. I almost never choose a modern book for its cover, no matter how glamourous.

Another book on my to-be-reread list is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. To be honest, this is a book I dip into rather than read right through. I don't really like ensemble casts, as you may have been able to guess if you've read any of my stories. (I have several plots-in-waiting that involve two people in a house or on a deserted island, nothing more for the entire novel. Well, except ghosts and eerie animals, but they probably don't count.)

I recently finished rereading Crosstalk by Connie Willis, a fun rom-com by one of my favourite authors. I love this book, although I find myself getting caught up over and again by the heroine's ridiculous name. Connie's short stories are also an absolute treat which I intend to reread this month.

There are so many wonderful books being published all the time, not to mention the vast library we already have in the world, I could bury my nose in a book all day every day and still not get through everything I want to read and reread and rereread.

My reading tastes are fairly eclectic, although you'll seldom see me reading literary fiction for pleasure. I like heartwarming comfort, a touch of thrilling dark, and escapism, hopefully with cleverness woven through. I'm not stupid or lowbrow, I've read Old English in the original and have many classics on my shelves. By I take books as friends, and I personally prefer relatively easy-going friends who have beautiful spirits and who can have an intense, fascinating conversation but aren't sombrely focussed on important things all the time.

UPDATE: I'm giving up on Thornyhold. Despite the love everyone else seems to have for it, I'm finding myself unsuited to it. I don't mind a book starting slowly (as you will know if you've read Deep in the Far Away) but expect some things to wonder about, some lures ... I don't really see the point of so much Mary has included in her early chapters. I'm afraid I've lost interest.

wild sky woman

She lived in a house up high, where the clouded breezes were her landscape, and their quiet rush her song. She harvested rain and star pieces, made poems from the sun. And she was drifty, and she was pale, and she spent her days alone.

She wanted to love who she was, but when she looked out her vast windows, looked down on the world, she saw that the best loved things were earthy things, woven with tree roots, stranded with medicinal brambles, and she saw too how they would be beautiful, and loved them herself. And because she was lonely, she made poems from what she saw of tree, dirt, cracked acorn, so that she could be part of the loving and being loved too.

But she did not really understand loam or lichen, or how to nestle your fingers deep into the earth seeking memory, water, buried wishes; she understood the gradients of sunrise, and the silences of white empty rooms. She did not speak with any fluency the conversations of women weaving in a circle, for her own tongue was bone-broken, heart-aching silence, the language of the alone. She kept on talking dirt though, because that was what people heard and loved.

One day she wondered if maybe she ought to look out different windows, and seek for other houses in the sky where other people might be standing at windows listening for their native song. The thought of it made her catch her breath -

But she did not move from her earthy view. The love you have, even if it is a borrowed love, unseeing of your authentic soul, is better than the true love you might never find.

I want to knock on her door, stand on her threshold, and tell her to give me all her words for clouds until she is filled up with cloud beauty, her own beauty, and learns to love herself. Maybe then she will have the courage to see the other quiet sky people - see me - and give us the poems and heart-aching stories we need just as much as the earth people need theirs.

illustration by mirjama appelhof

A Wuthering Love

The world is shaken with storm, white with storm. I have had toast and tea, which seems to me a kind of living poetry, and am only waiting now for the fall of the old dark, unkempt and starless tonight, wild with sea and ancient stone magic.

I think sometimes the world is very lovely with its flowers and soft green trees, sunsets and breezes - and then a storm comes and I remember the more hectic beauty of fierce weather, the grin instead of the gentle smile. It's nice to sit peacefully on daisy-lit grass beneath an oak tree. But its utterly transformative to be amongst the roots of low black mountains as a storm shakes all the serenity out of you so that your bones are as stark at the white sky and your breath a tempest.

Every January in my little country, people go on holiday. Camping, staying at the bach, tramping through the forests. And every year there is a dangerous storm. People come home bedraggled, flooded-out, cold. And they say, who would have thought? Every single year. I guess they were hopeful. Or else determined to ignore nature and do what they want. I myself am hopeful in another way. I hold on through the humid days for these great summer storms. I have no myth to tell you about them, they are more than that - they are a simple promise. Every January, every Easter, wild weather. The oldest god of all.

daughter of the king moon

She was born under a full moon. It rose silver over the bright silver sea, but by the time it looked down on her where she lay beneath the hill, it had turned gold, the way a summer moon does; the way the eye of a good king does, looking upon his people. And the tug of the moon touched her heart, and drew her just a little out of the world.

Books would say her star sign was Capricorn, but no one born under such a moon could be troubled by the far, far stars. Those same books would say her moon sign was Cancer, a water sign, but again they'd be wrong. She had nothing of the sea in her. She had been delivered into hill shadow and blessed by old sky gold. Sheep had sung outside her first bedroom window. Old witch trees had danced for the summer sky king. She was blessed by things that could not be charted or ascribed to everyone born that night. Some may have heard the sea as they slept this side of their mother's heartbeat. Some may have arrived closer to the dawn. Let them then be Capricorn with a side offering of Cancer. She was the king's shadow-hearted girl.

All her life she lived just one degree out of rhythm with other people - the ones born under smaller moons. And all her life she felt like something dark danced inside her, moved by an old wind, led by an earthy, halting song. She had a moon in her mind and hill secrets in her bones.

I talk lightly about astrology sometimes, claiming the traits of my sign and feeling just a little proud to be one of six women in my family (four generations) to be born under it. But in truth I believe our natal influences are more intimate, individual, than star signs devised by men so long ago. If this story resonates with you, perhaps you might look into where you were born, and what was in the nearby sky, to create a private natal blessing of your own. 

And The Goddess is The Space Between

Climbing down the weedy, rocky hill in the dark, through the oldest hour of the year, you found a chair out of nowhere to sit on. I'll never understand how you manage these small magics while I, moonless, am struggling just to see.

I suspect you were born with magic in your blood, an ancient pine hill gypsy singing magic that has people wondering where you came from - Iran, Turkey, Brazil? They never get it right. You came from a tiny mystic country beneath the fog; you came from the dance of a star. Sometimes I imagine the dusky, barefoot goddess who must have led you to me, the moist earth mother, the sea-voiced queen. Her thighs the mountains, her belly the rolling hills, her throat the roads, of the world between that tiny country and my tinier one; her song the way to go. Why to me, though - that is the mystery. I wish I could tie a moon to my wrist, so I could see it more clearly. I wish Christ would hold his lantern high for me, Arianrhod spin a constellation for me, so I could see.

Then again, there is magic in this dark mystery.

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Thanks & Blessings.