Sixth day past first half of Goose Moon, the Land of Standing Stones

25 08 2006

I am flesh again.  I rejoice that I am restored, but Oh! let me never forget what I learned while I was stone!

Yesterday, I believe, I am not entirely sure of time, the Gorgon visited me. She said nothing, and as I could not speak, neither did I. Evenso, there was communication. She prepared me a tea, and I knew as she brewed it, its purpose was healing.

The tea tasted of earth and left my mouth dry. I could feel myself growing sleepy. The Gorgon held my hand as I drifted asleep. My last awareness was of my little serpent coiling itself around my arm.

I knew I was asleep, but I was also aware I was not dreaming. I watched my serpent slough off its skin. It looked at me. Without words it was telling me to put on the skin it had shed. Perplexed, I picked up the brittle sheath, thin as grass, as long as my hand. Each tiny scale was depicted perfectly, even to the scale coating the eyes, the openings for the nostrils, transparent as mica. My serpent lay coiled beside me, luminous in its new skin. It nodded its head in encouragement.

Gingerly I wriggled my little finger into it. The snakeskin stretched to fit, enveloping my hand, then arm, over my head like a tight sweater, down my body to my feet. It felt comfortable.

Then I realized I was eye to eye with the little grass snake that had been my companion since the Day of Serpents. Looking up I saw the Gorgon, shooing my hissing cats from the bed. She reached down her hands, and I slithered into one.

Slithered is too ugly a word for the beautiful feeling of the movement- sinuous undulations. My snake body moved sensuously in one smooth, gliding movement.

The words of Solomon came to me, “There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.”

The Serpent Queen set us gently down on the ground. My body thrilled to the feel of the earth under it. Humus is alive. The ground thrummed with movement, bunching of earthworms, scurrying ants and beetles, the mewling of larvae

Snake senses are very different from my familiar human ones. Foremost, I could not hear. Sound vibrated through my body resonating in feeling. I knew which vibrations were the jumps of crickets and which the danger of human beings. My ability to taste the air was heightened beyond imagination. The flavor was complex and rich, yet I could discern each individual element: water, bark, leaf mold, stone, mouse, owl, human, fellow snake. My awareness of temperature was different as well. I could feel the proximity of creatures by the heat they exuded. I could tell when I crossed the bedding place of a deer in the grass, how long the sun had set by the temperature of the stones, where baby rabbits lay still in their nest, still but for the beating of their hearts, which I could also feel. Sight was very different too. Besides the perspective of ground level looking up, eyes set on each side of my head gave me expanded peripheral vision, though everything was colorless. My sight was alert for movement, stirrings of the shadows. My body responded instantly to my senses. I nabbed a cricket before I was aware it was near.

I followed my mentor serpent like a shadow.

By dawn we had reached a river. Fearlessly my companion approached the human sitting on a wooden pier. Fearfully I followed, disliking the feel of lumber on my scales.

The human was a woman. She was clad in tall black leather boots and supple deerskin breeches. Her shirt was inky silk, flowing from her shoulders and arms like water. Her long grey hair was bound by a magenta scarf. Something about her scent reminded me of Sybilla…

“Ah, Verdia,” she was saying to my serpent, “you have brought a friend. You want to cross I take it?

Did I understand her because I was a human or because she could speak the snake language Naga-Krita? I did not hear a reply from Verdia, my serpent. But the woman understood.

“Of course I will take you. It is no trouble at all, you are a friend. You have helped me out of many a scrap, taking you across is the least I can do.”

The woman reached down her hands and we coiled ourselves into her calloused palms. As gently as the Gorgon, she set us down in the bottom of a shallow boat. She pulled us across the water by means of a thick rope and pulleys strung between the two piers. I wondered why Verdia chose to take a ferry when we could swim across the water easily ourselves. Instantly the answer flashed in my brain – predators.

Once across the woman again lifted us gently from the boat. Both Verdia and I nodded our thanks.

“Blessings be to ye!” she called as she pulled away from shore to return. Verdia led me up a steep hill parallel a stair of stones built into the hillside. We wended our way on the soft turf between stones until we came to a small hole at the base of a wall. In we went, down into the dark highway of snakes.

We emerged into a subterranean cavern, lit by a few candles in mirrored alcoves. Across the cavern was a stairs ending in a pool where we now rested. A woman bearing a small lamp glided down the stairs as smoothly as if she were a serpent herself. She set her lamp on a shelf and beckoned us.

“Verdia? Is that you?”

Verdia flowed into the pool, shimmying across. I followed, gliding in Verdia’s wake.

“Oh, it is you!” exclaimed the woman. “And you have brought another.”

This woman is older than the ferry keeper, but looks younger. Her white hair falls past her ankles in a shimmering braid. Her face is wrinkled, but rosy. Her hands are knotted and veined, but move easily as she reaches her hand affectionately to Verdia. She seems as perennially young as spring, but as old as the rocks of this cavern.

“No one will disturb you, I promise. Stay as long as you like, as long as you need. I will be close if you need me.”

Turning to me she said, “Verdia is a worthy guide to these Springs of Castalia. The waters are ancient, springing from the very heart of the earth. Many things in the water are terrifying, but none can harm you, though they may hurt you. Blessings be to thee.”

She laid out her palm to me, and I laid my head in it, absorbing her warmth, her scent like apples. When I lifted my head she turned to leave, taking her little lamp with her.

Verdia was lapping the water, and I did the same. It tasted unpleasant, like sulfur, and was warm. Verdia glided back into the pool, diving into the black depths. I followed.

We dove until I thought I would die. But at the last moment, Verdia led me into a small crack between the stones emitting bubbles and steam. This tunnel was illuminated by fire, the rock baked hot. We side-wound like desert snakes, barely touching the burning surface. We reached the lip of a pit. Blades of blackened grass cropped up between pits of rock. It looked dead, but following Verdia’s example, I ate some. It was a living plant, though tough and dry. It scratched my throat going down, but I felt immediately cooler.

Verdia began a careful descent into the pit. We made our way over cinders and pools of bubbling, molten rock. We traveled for a very long time, hours or days, I am not sure, until at last we reached a wall of glowing coals.

I drew back in alarm as the wall shifted, imagining it falling down on us in a shower of burning embers. What I took to be a wall was not, it was the mammoth coils of a colossal serpent. Verdia led me around it until we were looking into an enormous eye.

Like I could feel the beating of a rabbit’s heart, I could feel the sound of the serpent’s thoughts.

“I am Ouroboros, the Great World Serpent. The Egyptians call me Nehebu-Kau. The Norse, the Comanches know me by other names. The world rests upon my coils. When I breathe the mountains shake and land trembles. When I exhale, smoke and fire pour from my nostrils. I am the churning rope of Vishnu and Shiva, that churned the primordial milk sea into the Butter of Immortality.

“The Greeks called me Python. Apollo thought he killed me, but I cannot die. I am born of Gaia, the very source of life.

“Learn from me.”

Verdia led me away, over Ouroboros, upwards into dark caverns. Here I met Jormungand, son of Loki, foster brother of Odin. Jormungand will help destroy the world at the last battle between the gods and giants. Here too was Nidhogg, who devours the souls of evil men. Near by was Am-Mut-Set, also an eater of souls. In still another the cockatrice or Basilisk. We visited the underground city Bhogavati, where the naga have their treasure houses.

“Learn from me.” “Learn from me.” “Learn from me.” “Learn from us.”

Further on through the labyrinthian tunnels under the earth we came to the fantastic palaces of the Dragon King. From there we emerged onto the earth’s surface. Cien Tang, the Great River Dragon greeted us. His yin scales were blood red, his yang scales purest gold, his mane was fire. He can make himself as large as the universe, as small as a flea. For us he made himself as small as ourselves, and bade his servants to bring us rice wine.

Cien Tang told us this tale:

“The King of Heaven, Yu Huang Shang Ti, The Jade Emperor, was troubled by mankind. Thus he neglected to send rain to the earth. The people suffered terribly, so the dragons appealed to Yu Huang Shang Ti to send water. Still troubled the Jade Emperor disregarded their request. The dragons took it upon themselves to carry water to the people in their mouths. Furious at their presumption, the Jade Emperor imprisoned the dragons under four mountains. Still the people perished. The dragons broke free of the mountains becoming rivers. They flowed across the land into the sea. And so they remain until this day, the Heilongijan or Black Dragon River, the Huanghe or Yellow River, the Yangntze or Long River, the Zhujiang or Pearl River.”

Cien Tang taught me about the cycle of the zodiac. “There are both dragon years and snake years. Dragon years are the time to start a new venture, to marry, to have children. The dragon represents daring, ambition, power. There are five dragon colors, green, red, blue, black and white. Snake years are years of introspection, planning, seeking. These are not the years to act, but to consider future actions. Snakes symbolize the search for wisdom, for truth, for inner growth. The five colors of snakes are blue, purple, gold, silver and gray.”

We left Cien Tang to follow the sinuous body of a river. Sitting on the bank was a beautiful woman making figures of river clay, When we came closer I saw the woman was a serpent from the waist down.

“Ah, Little Jade Snake, how long it has been! Have you eaten?” I could understand her speech, but not the speech of Verdia.

The woman turned to me. “Ni hao, little jade one. I am Nu Kua, creatrix of the Chinese people.” She breathed into the face of one of her clay figures. It slowly began to wake.

She smiled at me. “Learn from me, little jade one.” Then she slid into the river and was gone.

Verdia led me into a garden. There were many fountains, each attended by a goddess. We wound our way to each.

“I am Birgit Anu. Learn from me.”

“I am Wadjet.” “I am Acpaxapo.” “I am Tiamat.”

“Learn from me.” “Learn from me.” “Learn from me.”

“I am Ariadne.” “I am Chalchiuhtlicue.” “I am Coatlique.”

“Learn from me.” “Learn from me.” “Learn from me.”

“I am Erzulie.” “I am Kundalini.” “I am Manasa”

“Learn from me.” “Learn from me.” “Learn from me.”

“I am Nilawati. “ “I am Renenutet.” “I am Cihyuacoatl.”

“Learn from me.” “Learn from me.” “Learn from me.”

“I am Rhea.” “Learn from me.”

“I am Astarte.” “Learn from me.”

“Learn from us.”

We were sprinkled with water by each deity. With each drop I felt more of everything – more vital, alive, emotional. My serpent undulations became a dance, an offering of gratitude for the life giving water.

The garden ended at the edge of a sea. Verdia led me into the water. We slipped easily through coral gardens blossoming with living colors, fish flashing fearlessly around us. Verdia stopped before an oyster. The oyster slowly raised open its shell, revealing many pearls. Verdia ate one, and I followed suit. I found I could breathe and move easier in the water.

We traveled deeper, following the ocean floor until all was darkness and I could not see. But I could feel Verdia gliding before me, and felt safe.

Suddenly the mud exploded open before us. A horrible head, red eyes blazing, its scales glowing eerily with phosphorescent slime, reared itself out of the seabed. It lashed with its tail, tossing us through the water in a maelstrom of mud and steaming bubbles. I lost Verdia in the swirling waters.

I landed on the ocean floor, facing another gleaming, gold eye. I squirmed away from it, only to find myself face to face with another, this one black as the ocean depths. Frenzied I fled, trapped in a maze made by the sinuous bodies of many huge serpents. Desperate, I struggled to follow the coils of one, just one, to find an end. The end was a serpent mouth. The serpents began to heave themselves about in a circular dance, like I had danced in the garden. I found myself spinning. I tried to keep looking into the eye of a monster, but it closed its glowing eyes. I became dizzy.

I felt myself buffeted upward, spiraling in the arms of the whirlpool created by the serpents gyrations. I was pushed away on the waves to the surface, helpless, lost, afraid.

After a bit, the sea became calmer, until it was still. I calmed with it, floating on the surface. I could see a smudge on the distant horizon. I began to swim toward it, thinking it to be land. Although I swam languidly, almost lazily, the smudge came quickly closer. As I neared to it I could see it was not land, but misty cloud. I continued toward it. If I stopped it continued steadily toward me. Soon I was lost in a white world of water and mist, alone. So terribly alone.

There was nothing to do but go on so I did. Eventually the mist thinned. To my horror I found myself swimming in the sky! Below me was the coast of the sea, waves foaming around toothy rocks. I froze, and felt myself begin to fall.

Out of nowhere flaming snakes swarmed around me, bearing me upward. They licked me with fiery tongues, a warm tingling on my skin. I found I could fly like they were flying, I only had to keep moving. We went higher and higher. I could see the entire hemisphere below me. A serpent like a rainbow coiled about the earth, embracing it. Snakes like clouds chased each other across the sky. I saw that the corona of the sun was a brilliant serpent.

The flaming serpents led me higher, until earth was but a glowing blue gem in a dark night. Comets whooshed past, radiant cobras with flaming tails. I twined around the silver coils of Draco and Hydra. At last I found my self between the eyes of the Serpent winding through the universe, what I had called the Milky Way when I was human.

“I am Anata. I am Ayida -Weddo. I am Azhi Dahaka. I am Da. I am Atum. I am Julungul, Galeru, Ungur, Wonungur, Worombi, Yurlungeur, Kalseru, Langal, Ungud, Wullunqua, Goorialla, Dhakhan, Ungud, Bobbi-Bobbi, Ulanji, Muit. Learn from me, dust of earth, flicker of starlight.”

The Serpent breathed on me and I found myself back again at the Springs of Castalia, coiled safely and comfortably in a crevice in the rock, entwined with Verdia. I writhed in happiness to be back with Verdia. Verdia writhed with me.

“Welcome home,” said a voice outside our shelter.

We emerged from our hole to find the Gorgon. She held out her hands and we flowed into them. The taste of her skin was like honey. She sat on the stone steps and laid us tenderly in her lap. We were home.

My skin began to itch. The Serpent Queen held out her hand, the forefinger and thumb in a circle. I pulled through it, slipping out of my snakeskin into my human self.

The Gorgon held me in her lap like a child. “Tell me what you saw when you looked at my face.”

My words trembled on my lips. “I saw myself.”

“That frightened you.” A statement, not a question.

I nodded.

“Why?”

That was the question I had been pondering incessantly since I saw myself. Still I had no answers.

“I don’t know.”

The Serpent Queen was silent. Fear had nearly turned me to stone it had so paralyzed me. If I said nothing I knew i would calcify again, I could feel rigidity returning to me as I sat. The longer I was silent the harder I would become, and the harder it would be to face my fears. I breathed deeply.

“Serpents are evil,” my words were barely spoken. I knew the Serpent Queen heard, but she did not recoil from me. “They are demonic. They are sexual license. They strike. They bite and kill. They live alone. They eat their children. They are reptile. They are phallic. If I am serpent then I am these things too.”

“Are you?”

“No! yes, I mean, I could be, if I wanted to be. I don’t want to be, but then I do, sometimes. I wish I could be. Sometimes. Only sometimes…” I jumped up and began to pace the stones of the Springs.

The Gorgon remained silent. I continued on. “The serpent tempted Eve to sin.” There. Inarguable Biblical history. Or so I supposed.

“Is it the fault of the serpent Eve sinned?”

“If it had not tempted her, she would not have sinned and everything would be different.”

“Is it the fault of the serpent Eve sinned? The serpent offered a choice, a choice she always had, the forbidden fruit was already there. The serpent only said aloud what she already knew. Temptation is not sin, though you believe it is, don’t you?”

I nodded.

“You believe because you are tempted to do wrong, want to do wrong, you are as culpable as if you actually did it. Your heart is raw with guilt for things you wanted to do, but did not do, as raw as with the guilt for the times you did strike and bite and harm.”

The Serpent Queen raised her veil again. I looked at my own face, eyes conflagrant with anger. She continued.

“Embedded in the word ‘believe’ is the word ‘lie’. Be very careful of what you believe, that you do not believe lies. They turn you to stone.

“Temptation is not sin. Sin is the choice you make. Temptation is refining fire, it reveals who you truly are. When you choose to yield to temptation you show your quality. When you resist temptation you show your quality. You are correct, the choice one makes changes everything, makes things ‘different’.

“You have yielded to temptation and felt the bite of remorse, seen the harm your choice caused. You have felt the bite of evil, suffering the pain of another’s submission to temptation, destroying your hopes and dreams. You have also chosen to resist. You have chosen to protect others from the pain you have suffered. Those choices have made a difference too.”

I sank down on my knees next to her. She touched me gently on the cheek, her blazing eyes softening. “Forgive yourself for the things you didn’t do.”

“Are serpents evil?” she asked me, her voice like sun on my face.

“No,” I answered, “They are not evil of themselves, but are chosen to be symbols of evil. Not to everyone, but to some. I believed them to be evil.” I thought of Cien Tang and his story of the rebellious dragons. “I don’t any more.”

I sat next to her in silence, lying my head on her lap. The images of my journey with Verdia played themselves through my mind. “Learn from me,” the deities and serpents had said.

“There is more isn’t here?” I asked.

“Yes. There is more. But you will be able to bear it. Remember, you have already survived the things you will remember.”

We rose to leave. As we rose, I reached out for Verdia. She twined herself about my neck. The flicker of her tongue in my ear tickled, and I laughed.

I am flesh again. And I have much to learn.





Special Lantern

11 08 2006

A Settle Lean

If one is possessed to enter a hole in the ground – deep that is, where ‘bowels of the earth’ is a phrase that burrows in your soul, then you may as well do it right. Not spelunking in spandex shorts with crevasse defying, blinding lamps. Not scrambling beneath sewered city streets with fearsome brands of branches wrapped in pitchy rags. Never again a fingernail creep through war blown trenches with hope your only light. Nay, my friend – we’re going to explore an ancient mine, and I’ll show you how it’s done.

What you have in your hands in a miner’s hat with an acetylene lamp built right in. Select a couple of rock chips from the can – use tweezers not your fingers – and drop them in the trey – screw on the lid. Now fill the drip-can half full from your canteen and wipe up your clumsiness. Check the flint and thumb wheel – a single spark will do. Fine! Open that stop-cock just a might – when you hear a hiss, count three and thumb the wheel. We have two hours – let’s go.

The tiny yellow flame is just enough – not more – to keep you safe; a reflected cone of eerie light guided by practice sweep of head and transfixed eye. Feel you way with toe and finger – the light is only to let you know yoou haven’t turned to stone.

………………………………………………………….

Consider how you deal with others – seeking knowledge, that is. You can lead or follow or just keep out of the way – mostly fumble by wits alone in caves of mystery, no matter what you’ve been told. You always have a lantern to guide your way, though – at least allowing others to get a sense of who you are. Just allow a little of your spirit to drip, measure by measure, onto the solid pebbles of your principles and flecks of knowing. A golden glow! Keep a low profile and be wary of pits of fear and shaky shorings of other’s beliefs. Just settle for sharing the lean glow of inner light with a friend – and allow their light to guide you to where you’ve never been. Don’t look for treasure – just try and get out alive.





In Praise of Morning Light

7 08 2006

 

In Praise of Morning Light

 

Photomontage: Lori Gloyd (c) 2006





Crystal and Moonstone

5 08 2006

 

On Light

A month or so ago much of the work I posted involved water, night time, and anguish. No doubt this represented the descent into darkness, into that murky, moist place where seeds of Self are planted and germinated. Fortunately, the descent to the subterranean world is a journey to a place of profound fecundity.

Like a plant, that inner Self needs to grow upward and reach towards the light. It needs the light to grow and flourish. I have hurdled through a dark place in my psyche and now need to head back towards the light.

In light of this (pun intended), it does not seem strange that my images and words in the last week or so have been filled with images of light—stories of a lighthouse, a blazing mandorla of oranges, yellows, and warm shades of green. In fact, the desire for light has spilled over from the digital realm into the material world. Last night I assembled an arrangement consisting of a crystal vase, crystal flowers, and an egg of carved moonstone illuminated by light. The soft glow of light in the darkness of my living room created a tranquil and sacred space.

I have not had the time to investigate the meaning of light, but my intuition (there’s that light again) tells me that I have reached a milestone in the heroine’s journey and am now on a new league of that journey. Brilliant!

Assemblage: “Crystal and Moonstone” and text: Lori Gloyd © August, 2006





The Watcher

4 08 2006

 

The Watcher keeping me safe on the journey….

 

Photomontage: Lori Gloyd (c) 2006





G is for Growth

29 07 2006

As we journey along the road of our creative quest searching for our personal grails, we find that the journey involves a deeper introspection that we expected, and often the results are more than we expected as well. Yes, we do the writing exercises and find out some interesting little tidbits on how our inner worlds function. Many times this leads to joyful breakthroughs in our understanding of ourselves. They are those “Aha!” moments that fill our hearts to overflowing.

However, if you have been on this road long enough, you will discover that these introspective moments also can be very bumpy. In fact, some are more than bumps; they are potholes so deep you can break an axel and slow down your journey. Through these potholes we discover our dysfunctions and those of our relationships. We uncover deeply buried grief and guilt that bind us up. We discover our own flaws that need repair.

These introspective moments cause us to adjust to how we proceed down the creative road. We try new projects, pushing the envelope at times. These outward endeavors may shake up the status quo of our relationships. Some people rejoice in the changes they see in us. Others will not. It disrupts the equilibrium of their worlds when we change. Even those on the same creative journey may balk at the new directions we go.

All this is said, not to discourage the pilgrim on the path, but to be an admonishment to pull ourselves out of the painful potholes, to learn that it is normal to groan as we grow, to enjoy those moments of exhilaration, and, finally, if necessary, to sit along the side of the road and rest a spell.

Lori Gloyd © July 29, 2006