A Journey With Blackbirdowl

Saturday, February 12, 2011

18 The Bridie Fire Spring
Sunday January 30, 2011:
The sun, lying low across the pavement, breathes warmly upon my legs, my face in shadow, is stinging from the bite of the February wind. We walk through the deep shade of the narrow streets to St Bride’s on Fleet Street.
Quickly, we make our way down to the warmth of the crip. In a small chapel, we sit on hard seats and listen to the building grumbling above our heads. Beyond the heating system, I am sure I can hear water running. It sounds very much to me as though there is a constant slow flow of water dropping into a deep pool below. Each droplet has its own voice. Each droplet is made big by the cavernous space surround the pool, by the stones and bricks that bind it, confining it to the darkness of the secret waterways of subterranean London.
Above me, somewhere in the main church, an organ is playing. I divide my hearing between the water flowing under cover of the rumbling boiler and the sweet sound of Handle.
Last time I was here, I danced by a springing a field. I wander where that is now.
My mind focuses on the unseen water and before me arises the mist of an energetic little spring, rising from between white shining rocks, held by dark green moss. I watch the progress of the water, the glittering droplets lit by the low spring sun until they glisten gold and red.
“No, that’s fire, not sunlight” I think to myself, watching the water arc amongst slowly rising yellow, gold and red flames. The water and fire begin to play with each other. Droplets leap high into the air, chased by teasing tongues of fire until the drops are beads, becoming mist and then steam and the fire is dampened, only to leap up again, stronger than ever.
I marvel at the phenomena of fire and water and the dance they are doing. Neither succeeds in resting dominance from the other but yet the dance is vigorous and earnest, and both elements definitely mean business. In the end, they dance together, harmonious in spray, mist and steam, in fire and heat. Fire snaps, and then hisses, pops and then puffs as water gets the better of it, only to leap up again.
Sharp businesslike footsteps upon the tiles break the spell. We’ve stayed too long. The church is closed. We must leave now. I nod at the water fire, the flaming spring and briefly speculate about the actions of opposites that have the potential to snuff out or evaporate the other.
“What can I learn from this easy coexistence?” I wonder to myself. There’s harmony in their dance. I like that.
“I know that my redeemer liveth”, sings a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice. Softly, the organ replies. , Together they dance, bowing politely to each other with every phrase and counter-phrase. I sing along quietly as I walk without haste from the church, out into the bitter February sunshine.

17 Ewes milk dancing revolution
Saturday January 29, 2011:
It is the first stirrings of spring. New lambs have arrived. The first milk
of the ewe is special, rich and thick, it nurtures all who sup upon it. The long winter is over, or so we think … In the insistent beat of the tambourine, in the silver trembling of her voice, the Ewe goddess comes to show me how to dance.
Imbolc is also Bridget’s time. Brigit, bright one, queen of all the land,
goddess of poetry, smith craft, inspiration and fire comes to. My feet want to follow the rhythm of the Ewe goddess but my body wants to move with the fire of Brigit. So I do both.
Brigit and the Ewe goddess might be twin’s sisters. Their femaleness challenges the magical tradition of the twins. Until now, I have encountered the twin spirits as male or ungendered. Perhaps even, the Ewe Goddess (who’s other name I don’t know) and Brigit are one and the same, a multi-aspect goddess. She invites me to crawl out from the darkness of winter into the light of hope and spring. Surely now, the light is returning and winter has truly gone?
But no - it is still cold and the wild wind snaps. I hear the footfall of the great Bear of Winter as she paces firmly across the sleeping land. Here is the ferocious mother; with her great bear claws she rips at what is no longer serving us. She leaves behind sore and bloody wounds that only time will heal.
She stalks the bare hillside on heavy feet. I stand in stillness and go within to root out what I need to let go of. I use her Great Bear Claws to tear out my fear of death and give it to the salt water that might be my tears, the healing flow of the sea, or just salt and water sitting humbly in a bowl waiting to help me let go.
I walk in my garden and touch the cold cold earth. I feel the tender silky first leaves of the snowdrops rising from the frozen ground. Bravely the sweet little flower pushes her way out, even though the frost of the clear moonlit night lies in wait to bite at those first tender shoots. I lose myself in that vulnerable fragility. Beneath my harsh winter frosty crust, I find soft hope for the coming year, it hardly dares to stir and shift. But I know that nothing can hold back the dawn.
I light a candle and hold it cupped in my hands. I feast with my fingers upon its warmth. In my mind’s eye, I see the golden flames dancing at first tentatively and then more bravely in the shelter of the orange glow that is it’s reflection upon my cupped hands. I think about love and how the simplicity of loving without ego can best help me nurture myself so that I may support a friend who is taking her last painful and terrifying walk in this life.
Oh but what is that sound? I hear the infectious beat of the tambourine. My feet start a-skipping. I dance with light lambs feet, irrepresseively and joyfully, hopefully and courageously. In the face of love, fear is defeated. I dance with the Ewe Goddess, stamping out the fear and dancing love in. I dance for those resisting tyranny whether at home or abroad, I dance to awaken myself from the long winter sleep, dancing in hope for a bright future.
“Leap for joy like new-born lambs,
Chase the bitter wind away.
Together dance into the light.
We have the courage to resist!”
My body on fire, I dance on. The song spins from me as I twirl; insistent instinctive with the rising beat of the tambourine. AS one, the dances release the energy and we come to a ragged circle. I find the stillness within my breath and slowly allow it to calm me.
“Let this be the courage we all have to resist,” I think, remembering my fear and knowing that love is what will fuel the revolution within me, and the revolution outside in the world.
White chocolate melts in my warm mouth. I feel nourished and strong, ready to rise up and move forward as the sweetness fills me with the energy I need to face the coming months. And on the edge of my hearing, the sweetest of maternal bleats comes to me between the voices of my companions. Softly I bleat in answer and remember the feeling of lacing my fingers amongst the curling softness of the fleece on my sofa at home, and am comforted.

My great bear bare claws
Monday January 17, 2011: It is the anniversary of my father's death. I am working with Black Mother today, which seems appropriate. I am also worried about a friend’s health; she has cancer but doesn’t seem to be getting the attention she needs from the health service about it. So I decide to journey to meet Black Mother; my purpose is to Gain wisdom from the death of my Father and to fight for the life of my friend.
Something thick is covering my face, Rough woollen material, it is almost suffocating me. There are so many layers to push through. It is really difficult. I need a knife. All I have is my hands. Making them into claws, I slash and rip, tear away and push my way through.
Beyond is a network of dark, dark tunnels, I walk along, scrutinising all the walls, I am looking for something, I’m not sure what. They are smooth like shiny coal, but darker and more mat black. Here is a place of dark damage. With my hands bent like claws, I jab with my fingernails and slash and cut it, ripping it out, tearing it away with my bare hands.
I fling it into a fire burning dimly in the tunnel centre and the fire burns suddenly a brilliant angry red. I am not sure if I’ve got it all, I feel around in the gloom for more. I continue to tear and fling into the fire until I feel that I have finished. .
I walk out of the tunnel onto a deserted hillside into the lonely night. At the top of the hill, I look down upon the black grey world under the moonless sky. I am utterly alone. I wait.
In the distance, something moves. A black shape, dark against the dark night landscape is moving slowly on all fours up the hill towards me. It gets closer and i see it is a great bear walking on all fours. AS she gets closer, I know that it is she, Black Mother.
She turns and I follow her. We move carefully back down the hill and into the tunnels. With a great roar, she rushes at the wall I had been attacking and begins to rip, slash, bite and seize great chunks of the wall. She flings it onto the low burning fire which dances up to the ceiling of the tunnel in a towering inferno of the most brilliant purple! I am dazzled. It is so hot and so bright. She continues to tear at the walls until I see the slightest star shape shimmering of the pre dawn dark from outside begin to glimmer. But she is not finished until there is a massive jagged gash in the rock side and the night air steps in dragging its dark moon light with it.
She moves further down the tunnel and finds other places to rip and tear at. Her progress can be charted by the pits and cavities, tears and gaps that she has left. All the time, the great purple fire roars its rage in a duet of vengeance and anger!
She stops beside a big black round amorphous shape. Growling and snarling she tears at it, again and again with her great claws until huge clumps detach and she runs back to fling it into the fire. The fire burns brilliantly purple lighting up the amorphous mass which begins again to swell and regenerate smoothly and cleanly right in front of us.
I’ve done nothing but watch her ripping the place to shreds. I am exhausted! I sit down by the fire and stare into it. I look down at my hands and see the bare bear claws, their murderously sharp nails smeared with the poison that the bear rips out. There are no mitigating circumstances for leaving any disease in its place. I must fill the gaps with love. My claws must show me no mercy.
She stands in front of me and growls. I growl back bending low in acknowledgement. We part, she to walk the dark hills and I to push my way through the rough veil, to take into this world the great Bear claws to be my tool for now .