reflections from the southeast PA rural underground

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A myth of our own

We pulled into the driveway and Eric said, "Welcome to psychedelic land." My thoughts were on the beef stew that I knew had been cooking for hours on the stove. The night was cold. This night would give its all to prevent the great Sun from returning to its rightful place.

The people said their greetings and gifts were exchanged by a few as others ate and talked. There were 15 persons present all told. Christmas cookies seemed to be everywhere. The wood stove gently worked its magic, keeping us warm from the December air outside. It was the Solstice. The house was "off the grid" and thus, powered only by this black stove and the Sun. The people were, in their various ways, "off the grid" as well.

Behind the house Sean and Tara had built a ring three levels deep made of pine boughs and adorned with quartz stones and sea shells. The path between the ring lead to a stump atop which lay an ice sculpture of sorts with a large white candle in its center. Once assembled outside the boughs, one at a time each person entered the Solstice path placing each step with care, trying to stay off the sacred ornaments, until they had finally reached the center. The wind chill made the night temperature feel much colder than the actual temperature of 18 degrees F. As usual, my feet were the first to cry out to me, "get back to that stove, get inside, this will take hours." The wind would not yield quietly to the Sun this night.

Many candles having been blown out and re-lit the ceremony was slowly fulfilled and we stared for as long as our extremities would allow at the shining center representing all energy and life giving power in the universe. The tea candles of each individual flickered, struggling to stay lit, drawing their fire from the center as we humans would continue to do all the days to come. The stars in that frigid night held their places. This was not their time to shine.

My feet numb and the ceremony over I didn't linger long before heading for the warm house again. I had internalized nature's vistas many times before and thus, making it my religion, understood that it needed my perception and further reflection on it to truly bask in its glory. It needed us. For who else would appreciate its beauty?

A couple of days later, driving back from hiking alongside a rushing, rhododendron-lined creek, Eric commented as we saw the Sun in its waning hours, "I feel privileged to see this, look at the light, its crazy, everything is purple!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

To Our Lady of the Wood

He had taken deathlife the day before in the mid-morning hours. This time had not been the usual day-long marathon of past seasons. He wanted to suffer, he said to me, "for the craft." But in just two days and 9 hours of shivering cold he had taken two female deathlifes. This time the suffering would come after the hunt.

When I arrived she was hung from the tree by her two front legs. Her head fell back lifeless now. The brown, white, and black coat that had sheltered her from these cold winter days was now stripped. I could see only the remnants of the fur around her four ankles and hooves. Deathlife was white bone and bright red flesh. The muscles had frozen from hanging outside in the frigid night air of early December. Her coat lay draped over the blue metal summer chair that sat just to the right of her body.

He commented on the amount of fat stretching across her back. "She must have been eating really well," he said. "Yeah, corn and soybeans are everywhere," I responded. How many fields had this deathlife known? What dreams had she conjured in the minds of those that had been lucky enough to see her and pondered at that moment, or in a later reflection, the magic of her beauty? And too, how many had glanced without even the slightest reverence for the creature they had just witnessed? How many times had she lept and bounded through stream and over rock and wood? Such a mighty strength she had mastered in her muscular legs and back! Such keen eyes and ears.

"Look at the amazing black patch just behind her nose," he said. "She was such a beautiful girl." I could not stop looking at that head which now rested like some unknown thing on the bed of dead maple leaves on the ground. The eyes now lifeless as the sky above. Gray and clouded over. As I sturdied the frozen rib cage so that he could cut off the bottom right leg I noticed my hands start to burn with cold. This was only appropriate after all. It was the least I could suffer to be saved from death with this life.