Friday, November 02, 2007

The Womb of Immortality

Tuesday October 30, 2007:

“Go now to a place of safety, a place of softness in which to lie and dream ...”

I snuggled down upon the sheepskins and pulled the blankets over my head. Burnt sage hung on the air, the wool smelled warm and dry, beyond the thick closed curtains an occasional car rumbled by. We were safe, held in the womb of immortality, the drum beat, like a heart beat rocking us into another world.

“My intention is to journey to meet the ancestors, to gain wisdom and healing…” I murmured as I began to breathe deeply.

I walked as part of a long line of figures, meandering through trees, curving across wide meadows, moving slowly, slowly down to the water’s edge. A swan sat quietly waiting, glimmering silver under the night sky, her reflection shimmering upon the barely moving water.

And then I was riding her, gliding silently down the Ssssssssnaking River, past high banks, arching trees, across plains until the river flowed into the dark mouth of a cave and spilled itself into a small dark mirror-still lake. I dismounted and began to walk around the water, my footsteps loud in the silence.

In the distance, an old, old figure waited for me. As I approached, I saw him bent and thin, skeletal yet with skin and thin white hair. My father, stood in front of the only way forward, frail, almost transparent. I stopped dead in front of him.

“Daughter,” he whispered,”I always knew that if you made up your mind to go to the devil, you would do so in your own sweet way. Nothing I could ever say or do would have stopped you”

Beyond the familiar cynical wry words, I recognised for the first time ever the acceptance and trust that lay behind them. In all my rebellions, in all his barbed words, I had never noticed his confidence that I would be alright, no matter what I did.

And as I stood before him, I felt humbled. For thirty years, I had withdrawn, absented myself, disconnected, run away. Through all this time, he had always respected me, I knew that now.

“Daddy, I’m sorry I left you” I Whispered, my head hung in shame, my cheeks hot.

Silently, he shuffled aside, nodding to me to pass. I reached out to touch him, but he was gone. My way ahead was clear.

I walked down the tunnel and round a corner. There she was, almost bent double, old and frail but smiling still. Neatly she stood, feet together; hands clasped holding her shiny handbag, that air of polite mischief still evident.

“Ah, here’s my favourite grandchild! She smiled, then lowering her voice and looking to see no one was watching “the one I loved the most,” She nodded.

And I remembered her quiet understatement even in the midst of maternal disproval over one of my more eccentric fashion choices, “I always wanted a red-haired grandchild,” she had said mildly.

“I’m sorry I left you for so long, Grandma” I muttered through lips that didn’t seem to be behaving.

Nodding and smiling, she moved aside and was gone. The way again was clear.

I moved through a long dark tunnel and out onto the shore of a lake. There on a rock, sat a figure playing the guitar. Cocking his head to hear my footsteps, he cackled manically an strummed harder, lifting up his voice in song. My blind brother in struggle was serenading me with wild song!

I’m sorry I ran away from you, “I said, once more hanging my head. “It was so hard, so hard when you were crazy beyond reason. I was afraid.

It seemed to me that he was nodding. He turned his face to me and began to sing more softly. I heard the words but did not understand them, yet I was soothed. His hands competent upon the guitar, each note resonating from the tips of his fingers. I smiled to myself, and remembered my own ham-fisted playing and resolved to practice! Then he was gone and I was alone on the shore.

The trees were singing. They were all singing. The whole forest was a chorus of sweet music, lilting tune and strong words, which again I heard but did not understand. And in the middle, in a big curving copper beach tree, she stood soft and round, smiling face, glasses slightly crooked, singing her head off.

Lacing my hands on the tree, I felt the warm bark and stroking it whispered
“I’m sorry I left you. I was so afraid for you.

She sang on, smiling, her face shining with joy. I hugged the tree and thanked her, my dead chosen sister, for bringing me to the trees and to the goddess.

And now I was crossing a beach and climbing into a small bobbing boat. Lying down, I let it take me out to sea, round the headland, a flotilla of seals invisible but near. The pebbles crunched beneath me and I climbed out of the boat and clambered across the rocks, up the slipway to the top of a hill where I sat down, my back to a gnarled old tree. Edged on three sides by the foaming leaping sea, the land lay spread out before me, like the beautiful curving figure of a woman. I breathed the sweet air and allowed myself to be bathed in the liquid song of a blackbirds sitting in the tree above me.

The sun sank behind the sea and the air chilled. I returned to the boat, to the sea, the beach, moved through the now quiet woods, past the empty rock by the lake, through the dark and empty tunnels to the underground lake.

I was lying spread-eagled across a huge warm softly rising furry belly. A heavy paw clamped me to her. I lay still, safe and warm ... And time moved and I was conscious of every second, savouring it from this place of nurture. There was nothing to do but to be, just be, because I was loved and nothing else mattered...

And the breathing of my sleeping companion emerged from behind the receding drum. I rolled over, flinging the blankets off, rose and stretched, a laugh that would not be suppressed bubbling up, bursting out.

“Wakey-wakey” I called to my snoozing companion, “it’s time to be born!”

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