I walk a lot on empty beaches. It helps me breathe from muscly places in my belly that otherwise I can’t feel because they’re so deep. So last Monday I guess it was, walking along the roiled and wilen coast, beholding the brown and black and steel greys of Hurricane Maria’s deeps, there came this fleeting thought. You could go camping Thursday, if so and so falls into place…there’s a window you could squeeze it in and camp until work Friday at noon.
I went camping because I could and because it meant forcing myself, because it’s lofty camping on your own, the reality of it, and takes work to follow it through.
I set my tent on the bayside of one of our barrier islands that is also a national park. Basic. Satisfied. There was a natural arbor of wild grape vines behind my little dome that opened into a wooded purple stained path leading to the water. I cruised to the beach. It was a gorgeous day, windy still from the passing of Maria, a storm whose effect was surged and shuddered oceans, thankfully no impact on our lil mid-Atlantic spits of swampy forest and farm lands. It was 17 mph that day and the sea stacked her sets, breaking two and even three peaks one on top the other, crossing and cursing currents also ripped by longshore tides. I got to the beach and no one was in and barely anyone was there. Far out were two surfers catching nothing. I used my fins to swim and the lifeguard watched from a truck for 10 minutes before leaving me to my whim.
By the end of the swim I was restless. I went camping because care for my soul life and nurturing it is, at the end of the day, up to only me. It is not a pill I can take, it comes down to how I choose to feed the parts I feel but cannot see. I went back to camp, then walked out to the Bay. I wrote just to write, the other sure fire practice that personally illumines my life, helps me feel like I’m living my hours in a way that’s more filled in.
Now, it is harvest week, the last full moon of the growing season. Growth: concept of momentum, of stored energy completing its cycles of motion, of sugared sun translating from storage to fruit. The moon peaks full Thursday. From there on the cycles wheel us deeper and deeper underground.
I spent yesterday’s quiet practice reflecting on all the experiences of the year. It’s been a hard one. A flippen lot of pain, death and illnesses and other loss. It has also been rich with celebration and good relations: women’s medicine, and being close to the earth, to family joy, to art, to nurtured time with dear friends.
And in all, deep-tilling the ground from which I’ll grow my dreams.
Back at camp, over the bay the sun dropped. For a half hour or so I beheld the experience, did nothing other than witness just to see how that would go.
Walking back to my tent was twinkly twilight glee, an energy pouring into and out of me like a child. The fire I built was from kindling I hatcheted myself!! I ate fish cooked over the grate and these two experiences alone fulfilled me like nothing else I can really say…
Then the stars, how every one that appeared signaled some new part of myself that showed up and I want it to be clear, how the glee passed and how uncomfortable that was, sitting still with the funked out shit of my personal experiences this year. I sat and sat, unplugged 100% and decompressing from that, because I know unquestionably that while it isn’t always immediate: Nature heals the soul.
Eventually, many hours into the night, came peace, and the sweetness of being inwardly still, a being among beingness, with the burnt down embers of my fire and the marvel of all those specs of sparkle stars.
Nature restores my inward settings, it has yet again helped me process which is how I keep moving. Of that knowing, and the reality for me this year that writing and creative downtime are not only non-negotiables but that this has zero to do with production for commodity value, I am proud to say my Harvest this year is part of my day to day.
I emerge this Harvest week sure of the same ol medicine. The soul life is up to only me to tend for me, and its absence manifests in all ways physical and mental, of that it’s a guarantee.
That’s a lot of bounty I’d say, and so it was that Poetry came through to reflect it for me the next morning at camp over hot coffee and stunning late September blue, as Poetry expressing the Wild Nature does oh yes, oh yes it does!!
There is a deeper fact in the soul than compensation, to wit, its own nature. The soul is not a compensation, but a life. The soul is. Under all this running sea of circumstance, whose waters ebb and flow with perfect balance, lies the aboriginal abyss of real Being. Essence, or God, is not a relation or a part, but the whole.
From “Compensation”, in Essays and Poems, Ralph Waldo Emerson
The last thing there is with ease is craziness in this world.
Here in the house of my grandparents where only my mom and dad now live it is dark, far darker than any other place I’ve ever been. That includes both sets of coastal mountain regions where I’ve been lucky enough to stay, over on the upper half of the west coast. Winter comes darker here in this pine-shrouded place mere miles from Ma Atlantic, in a way that’s way darker than anywhere else in my world. It is, this trip, a darkness of peace. So too this wild shining full moon: this bolt of truth-light lit up around the seeds that fell under winter-solstice’s new moon.
Wild-eyed, moony vision, passions elemental in precision, lifeforce stirrings in pine-wind and starlight. Crazyyy. I used to call such potency “Mad-Poet Vision”. Nods to the tribe who hold the line of such teachings: my name or words for this derive from Allen Ginsburg’s studies of poet-ecologist Gary Snyder, who brought the teachings back from the monks in Japan. It is, condensed, what Ginsburg taught eventually as First Thought, Best Thought.
To infiltrate the yak yak of the linear, egoic (or “male” animus mind), we allow the wild stirrings, the deeper impressionistic vibes that are psyche’s messengers to have their way.
We have been programmed, in part from societal conditioning, to believe these are two different energies and that the one that is personally predominant is such according to your gender. In truth they are a continuum of single energy manifested as receptive or active depending on your state of consciousness. Every man is intuitive and receptive and every woman is thought-driven and purposeful, or so do we each have these capacities.
One of the reasons women repress their strength or natural association with the realm of the feminine godhead (and therefor with the realm of the collective unconscious) is because we in Western society esteem a male God. The feminine, however, was at one time divined among many other aspects through menstrual mysteries. During the 14th and 15th centuries 9 million women burnt at the stake because of a document known as the malleus malefic arum which associated menstrual mysteries with being a witch. (see Shuttle and Redgrove’s (2005) The Wise Wound for more info.) Thus inherent feminine wisdom had to be buried deep within the collective psyche, so that it is demonized or repressed and therefor shamed to the extent that rhythmic knowledge of one’s own psyche either as a female, or in regards to anima or feminine instincts, became associated with Satanism!
Diane diPrima, the female contemporary of the above fellows, brought her esoteria more home to her own experience. Also entering the door via studies of Eastern cosmology, diPrima discovered the archetypal mind of the Godess, or the feminine divine. To work more closely with this metaphor, as a counterpart to the more known and illumined God, the Goddess oversees the realm of dark, night, intuition, death and rebirth (because the female rules the women’s mysteries, of which birth is one) receptivity, and on a more temporal or practical level, emotions, though that is equally an embodied male or animus or egoic part of the process as well (see Ann Ulanov’s interpretation for more on this.)
It makes sense that 50’s gnosis would seek Eastern tradition for enlightenment, in that it was an overt response to the subversive tactics of the US Government during the McCarthy era, a time which saw people like Ginsburg and Leroi Jones (who became later known as Amiri Baraka) on trial for obscenity in their poetry. To quote a line of diPrima’s Rant, THE ONLY WAR THAT MATTERS IS THE WAR AGAINST THE IMAGINATION/ALL OTHER WARS ARE SUBSUMED IN IT (sic). To keep a people anesthetized on the illusion of Descartes self-vs other (embodied hate projected outwards) is the best way to keep them from opening the door to explore that our complexes begin, and can be transformed, from within. Eastern tradition introduced these 50’s rebel poets to the concept of non-dualism.
So it is that first thought, best thought was born. Jack Kerouac actually took this concept and re-visioned what the modern novel could be–allowing for a trance-like, ecstatic spiral stream of consciousness to penetrate the tops layers of personality into the more free-associative realms of the deeper psyche. This is first thought, best thought: to follow the flow of the psyche in image, sensation, words, sounds, and to not resist what it arrives with or where it leads. To especially have no plan, but, as in the case of the writer, to be a channel for and follow the words. It is, throughout this act, how the artist speaks for the society by wheeling deeper and deeper into the collective unconsciousness and bringing out more and more to the host of light, or animus/ego-consciousness.
I learned almost all of this information in books, long before I went to an Institution to study it. In fact, I had to skip school this past weekend out of reverence for the holy Poetry first thought best thought mad-eyed seeing in the dark vision. Despite my school’s worldly attempt to foster an environment that esteems Hillman’s non-literalization of the image, the final point is if you study this stuff too much instead of trying to live it–to actively dance the day with the doors of the psyche open and free–you deaden the archetypal mind. You Kill the Soul.
So it is, this moon brings me to mind of the celebration of the Tribe of the Wild-Eyed. Those of us out there being it. Surrendering, again and again, all ideas in favor of the WILD, in favor of the psyche, the inner Nature, the Soul. May the outward full moon light, symbol of consciousness and focus, of male-orientation (the full moon reflects the light of the sun!) which shine-throttled through your personal dark all weekend long and likely stirred the wildinnereyes! Guide you inward and through doing so, help you re-relate. As always my prayers are that you re-relate in gentleness and love. May this moon light be ecstatic vision, may your trust in it be as strong as my reverent love for it. May it guide you ever home.
If there’s anything to learn from diPrima and her tribe, it is that the Wild Eyed Vision, the embodiment of psyche and soul, the interchanging dance of male/female within, can happen no matter who you are.
But let it happen. That’s the work. It takes practice to return. Again, again, again.
May we have no fear of the dark, and not hide the crazy that comes with it, that we’ve all been taught to fear~
The way the crescent moon cups in the center feels deep down in the hollow of my heart like this. Like yes for many days now I’ve been laid back in that very good place to hang out a while. Laid back swing–
–that’s home, the east, the fall-changing leaves, the peeps and screeks in the low-land night-part of the trees. If I were sitting on the moon with fishnet legs in a dangle maybe in my hand I’d have a fishing pole dropped over to hang in the fish-sea of souls. Which is to say there are so, so many here who deep within me, move.
Which tires me out, again and again. So many lines on the troll.
Tired feeling: me watching, over and over the circles I know. They grow out from the little space here–shore-side ripples leave go far way out then always return to here where they start, same ol line upon the coast. Here I–keeping count at the edge on the swing. Sound of quiet in the stars the footsteps that beat check on the dock to the tides. Swept swept swept again rush rush rushing out and, more. To return, Home.
Oh moon, your silly countenance such easy laid back way you cause me to sit. It’s not the same as California-moon charm hanging on my back otter-style in the waves. More pertinent: action. The harmonizing way of getting to be part of the flow.
I am tired and surprised by this laid back moon arch that doesn’t feel like ache.
Erika comes and gets me we talk about feminism, racism, intersection, Catholicism a long, long time. This is the work we do to write. She tells me she can see my space which I say is good bc I can’t even see my way to my degree. What the hell have I gone and done?
In the city Walsh takes me to the fancy spaces and also, simply, to the streets. This is when I feel alive the most, like me. Walking in Baltimore City. It does not stop me from feeling unsafe. Justin doesn’t know I am home and happens to have time open in the same space. We walk to what back then was boarded up ground, days I was 16 and drove Park from Druid Hill Ave and MLK once a week. Those were the days that Chat Street used ear guns to pierce a nose and to get a belly ring down to the S&M dungeon of the Leather Underground you’d have to go.
None of this matters anymore. Now. California is as sterile as gentrified sections of Baltimore but there is lots of sun. I don’t know what I am doing and sit a long while at Erin’s waiting to ride to the beach. Twitter and the untelevised civil rights movement. Social justice repair. I lean way back into the clutch of the moon.
Change is coming.
To swim at a spot where there’s a deep divot drop-off and lots of backwash from pounding shore break, this is what you do.
Stand at the seem, the furthest place the water flows up on the sand. Get your ankles wet. If you’re not timid go up to your calves. Now imagine you’re about to jump into a double dutch session–to get the rhythm of the ropes what happens is your hips cradle, you start to rock back and forth to get a feel for the swing. This is what happens at the water’s edge.
Or what oughta.
The primal beat alive at the ocean naturally moves in you. If you put panic aside. The amount of time for me that I’ve been away dictates the time I need to find the beat. For me it’s never more than one week but can still take forever which is up to five minutes because as much as it’s about the ocean–it’s also about the false rhythms of life disconnected from Nature–they are alive in our bodies. They make themselves KNOWN right there at the edge, and need too to be shaken off to find what’s elemental, what’s real. Then you can know the sets with your body.
On days with surf when there’s little let-up I like to wait for a set wave. That’s the one that comes after a barely there pause, and it peaks a certain way which I swear has a glean. The second you see it swelling wade in to the white water and when your hips are in it’ll be bigger so start to swim towards the wave. It’ll look like it’s gonna break on your head. Timed right you go under as it’s peaking and the momentum pulls you out fast then easy, surfacing just on the other side of the break. Then you’re past the crash zone. You can just hang laid back and bobbing style. And feel the swells pass through you.
Surfing? A whole other beast because to do what I just explained is a lot more hectic if maneuvering a board. Mine’s seven foot fun which for me won’t dive. Also the pay-off is different. A swim gives me that deep body chill and I’m lazy (my board’s been dinged since Memorial Day and I haven’t once thought to get it fixed.) It just depends on what you’re looking for–to swim is a no hassle reward. Surfing is lots of labor but equivalent or even way BETTER result–LOTS of stoke! It all comes down to the energy you’re working with/need.
Which for me is about being in the One. Doing what I can to keep unprogramming the false rounds, doing what I can to de-program autopilot. Which has been on my mind. The way it always is at season-passing: the deep life: The thing that moves us. The thing that’s of you, that we can only somewhat see. There’s Soul in there, lest we forget. It is. We are of it. We are It. Great Mysterious One Soul. World-Rhthym. Creating and destroying of it’s Self over and over again.
Season-passing, like a hip-rock taking stock of the wild rhythm of which you are actually a part.
This post appeared originally on The Impulse Itself, Saturday September 13, 2008. 6 yrs ago, today.
Similar cycle: last of Summer, of growth or bounty energy, but on the apex of Moon Wax, day before Full. Rather than now, day before last-quarter wane.
yes yes yes, a weekend all to me, starting despairingly bc i dear reader am always no-thing if not dramatically self-involved in the happenings or so perceived non-happenings of my very own life…and do tend to let such perceptions overcome the best of me…
so said, what a glory day i’ve had since yesterday passed and i subsequently got my head out of my ass. handscrubbed my versa this afternoon after a trip to the library–where my card was so outdated i had to open a new account in order to check out Girls Like Us Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–and the Journey of a Generation which called to me literally off of the shelf as i passed it by. i hoped, as i heaped said work and a slathering poetry books on the counter, that it would deliver me in a similar mythically-steeped retrieval of trailblazer femin-ista historia as diPrima’s bio My Life as a Woman The New York Years did. and so far i am adequately quenched.
made some jewelry today, too. and wrote a poem. tonite, it’s my plan, after the moon goes up and the light is all over the land the way only darktime light can be, i am going to write. like, maybe even all nite long….
I’ve decided to waste my life again,
Like I used to: get drunk on
The light in the leaves, find a wall
Against which something can happen,
Whatever may have happened
Long ago—let a bullet hole echoing
The will of an executioner, a crevice
In which a love note was hidden,
Be a cell where a struggling tendril
Utters a few spare syllables at dawn.
I’ve decided to waste my life
In a new way, to forget whoever
Touched a hair on my head, because
It doesn’t matter what came to pass,
Only that it passed, because we repeat
Ourselves, we repeat ourselves.
I’ve decided to walk a long way
Out of the way, to allow something
Dreaded to waken for no good reason,
Let it go without saying,
Let it go as it will to the place
It will go without saying: a wall
Against which a body was pressed
For no good reason, other than this.
The thing about waves they teach wild wisdom better than any other teacher who stripped me filled me made me brave.
For days this week I’ve been thinking on that last September. Fall 2008, I lived on a place called Anngar Farm. Waves teach you: the ways of the season on a farm, how to host a garden, how to track the sun rise and set across the space of sky from winter to fall, how to know in your body how it moves bit by bit across the year across the sky, by watching for it at the tops of the trees. How to know in your body that eventually, movement, no matter how long it takes, always moves you back across the same ol space.
That last season, on the farm. The Fall that year ushered in the larger cycle of who I am, how I am, where I am now. It’s alive in me, greater wave set incoming, I SEE YOU from the space within where for years I’ve tracked your tide. My car is broken down. The dear upstairs neighbor I adore is replacing the battery for me. He works late nights on the weekend (means he sleeps late in the day) so it won’t happen til early next week. For which I feel SO relieved. Means I don’t have to go anywhere, do no thing. Ride my bike to the beach…
And deal in words, who are Alive in me the traipsing, living way. Words, like waves. Waves of Poet Mad-Eyed Vision-Making. Seasons-passing. Cycle-making. Cycles inside cycles. Cycles ready…as they always are, are we paying attention…?
It’s been a million days of this I think, and as I write such words I see the gray slant of my ceiling in the morning, the days leading up to, but especially following, Aunt Mary’s death. Grief, which sits like a bone in the air. Its smooth, cold, calcium-yearning. Always there, blocking the place in your throat where you draw oxygen. I would lay in bed morning after morning, awake but not really. Asleep, but not at all. Just clinging there, some place in-between, my eyes in a sorta dull stare.
Funny, what it means to come back to you again: oh words, oh sacred meaning-making, oh holy process–humbled understanding. It means I come back to me. I was reading an interview with Tony Morrison last night and was struck by an image of her, a working mother, up at dawn to find time to write before her kids, open-eyed, began to sigh and taunt out Mooom! What excuse have you, I thought. It’s simple, and clear as that. I felt a satisfaction that has been a long time missing. A triumph from the well of me, gold struck and electric, so body-strong I nodded my head. Yes, what excuse indeed.
I’ve been up between five and six for a solid two months of mornings. Restless. Tested by the ceiling’s gray slant, its oceanic pressing, its whale-back depths and want for air. I have told myself this is just June gloom. Diddled away on Facebook, even began running on the beach to break that terrible habit of mind-numbing waste. The skylight with the peek-show of flat clouds. The words, which would begin in strings of lit sentences that would trail off the moment I tried to set them down.
This life, said Poet-priestess diPrima, for which
…you can’t sign up as a conscientious objector
the war of the worlds hangs here, right now, in the balance/…a war for this world, to keep it/a vale of soul making
the taste in all our mouths is the taste of our power/…bitter as death
…the war…the war for the human imagination…
…to keep it/A vale of soul-making…
Yes indeed, for this is what I chose…AND MUST CHOOSE, again, again…lastly, devastatingly…AGAIN: That this soul-making, this commitment is what it would be, what it is. My very life a testament…Holy Poetry, maker of, liver of Psyche. Twelve short years ago, on a bouncy bed in a purple house, three months out of college, in the candle-lit magic I acknowledged destiny. I made a Decision. To this would I be subsumed…to this all else would fall into submission. Lead it where it would take me, take me where I’d follow–and so on and so on in the creatrix magic of such dance.
A vale of soul-making…
Thursday on the eve of New Moon I lit the charcoal, burnt the resins, a form of devotion I haven’t practiced in years. Kat brought them to me, a cherished gift. I prayed on my knees, open-hearted, kept a whole day of quiet yesterday to honor within. I tended my soul, peeked its mirror, stayed there with me to see myself when my reflection came back. This morning I woke in dreams and was awake long before I realized I’d been laying there, tending gray.
Oh reflection, here it is.
Here it is.
I am ready again–it’s been two straight months on the Bardo—to begin.
but not my town, a hawk flies &
wings in the air make trilling sound
the screech above and
outside my door puts the hair
to raise up on my arms.
I am thinking of you again,
not for nothing but
need for magic. And men.
My mother, I finally
told her to go. It had been
a management of tasks,
a bee swarm of honey &
skin made red, trying
to avoid the sting. It is
confusing the say of stay
the need, help, the help that
happens best from standing
still. This happens alone.
In the greenery outside my door
where hawk trills &
I rescued lizard
and spider, but she
lost a leg. It is new moon
again, I here your laughing
music play the distance
between us like theater
sounds at curtain call. I want
more than this,
I always did.
I was sitting on the floor in my hobbit house, on two plush pillows that are hand-me-downs from the upstairs neighbor who moved out. I live in a hand-me-down house.
I was sitting in the hand-me-down hobbit house on hand-me-down pillows on the floor, on a hand-me-down rug from the woman who lived here before I did.
Piles of card stock and stickers and paper and ribbons–that’s the scene on the hand-me-down floor–and me. Looking over my treasures the way I did the Sunday paper when I was a little girl and took the comic section from dad when we got home from church. Advice columns and horoscopes, too.
Last night I went to a ritual for the full moon. It is the first time I have sat with these women. It was element-themed. When the guide got to mineral, my blocks made themselves known. That’s when the moon entered me like a prism of blue-charged light. It brought the medicine I needed.
When I left the moon was across from me in the east sky and big as a neon plate, a holy hole in the cloth of space. The waves were crashing on a building at the bottom of the cliffs. I’d never seen the sea from that angle. The moonshine was full with the kind of quiet that was all you could hear.
I came home and burnt white sage I harvested out of the canyon here. It burnt a long while. In my hamoc I made myself into a cozy ball and soaked in that special silence from the sky. It occurred to me to come in and journal about the experience but the stillness was so full of such healing calm that I wasn’t able to leave its comfort.
It was a prophecy moon: the full moon of the cycle that brings forth summer. Under its light we see just exactly what it is our soul struggles to grow.
Back on my hand-me-down floor this afternoon, my lap full with the cut and paste prototype for Riot Wise, my grown-up riot grrrl zine, I was feeling the kinda cranky that’s creative. Frustrated. That dim-lit sludge funk wall that’ll hold me like a pit, unless I can name it for what it is.
I’d been feeling it most the day long: at the coffee shop with books open on all the subjects I love to read, in front of the open screen. A dready street kid came and sat down and that pissed me off. That never happens. I was pissed at him! When a guitar street kid sits down next to me I always see that as sacred bohemian medicine and give thanks, start conversation.
But the momentum, the fucking momentum of peaked energy inside, the raw pre-manifest life force stuff of what I so badly, badly need to grow. It was so complete and pressing at me that all day I’ve felt like I could crawl out of my skin.
That’s when Narnia came to call. A demo song of you. It’s on my iTunes, which I listen to when the passion is frustrated and wont seem to run smooth. Bratmobile and the Pixies, Modest Mouse and Sonic Youth. Your song, Brooks. I’m sitting there, my lap full of a zine I want to make, my yearning heart full of the work I so ache to do. Your song started and I felt breath, had relief, just for a second. Thought, what is this?
Your song, Brooks, A Lonely Prayer. I didn’t even know it was on my Itunes. You sent it w the Flat Tire demo. It won’t upload here because I don’t have enough space on this blog. It made me cry. It gave me pause.
I don’t feel any better. But at least I remember now–Narnia is real. Narnia is real! The struggle is true. The strength to get & create what I need comes from holding strong inside the wicked space made from not yet having it.
You’re playing 8×10 right now. I’m sending my love.
What can I tell you that you don’t already know?
The 101 in Ventura County in June smells strawberry sweet. There are paintings of seagulls on a wall in town, circling a convertible.
My sister-in-law is 8 and a half months pregnant and I never got to hug her when her belly was big and round.
For every 10 men on the internet dating site, odds are 1 is actually looking for more than just text-flirting for fun.
June gloom in Orange County means running on the beach when the air is buoyant gray. The best way to run is Santigold.
The neighbor runs laundry all day long but never goes anywhere. 20 years of healing can be imparted inside 2 minutes of wisdom.
I fell in love 5 times since the winter, and all 5 are still sober, today.
My last cousin graduated. I left my love for so long, back there.
Peace with my grammy
restored. I don’t have to watch out
for them anymore. It makes me mad that all that time has passed
and the most I have to show for it are some photos on a screen.
What can I tell myself
about home that I
And here it is, moonlight again; we’ve bathed in the river
and are sweet and wholesome once more.
We kneel side-by-side in the sand;
we worship each other in whispers.
But the inner parts remember the fermenting hay,
the comfortable odor of dung, the animal incense,
and passion, its bloody labor
its birth and rebirth and decay.
from Semele Recycled, Carolyn Kizer
The five best things I found on the intraweb this week:
Writer Olivia Cole’s response to whiney whites.
An incredible article by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah on the landscape of acceptable literacy in the US.
Elle UK tries to rebrand feminism.
Some inspiring hints from artists past.