Monday, October 31, 2016

Pilgrimage of the Great Wheel: Great Dismal Swamp

This weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the Great Dismal Swamp, which is a point on the Pilgrimage of the Great Wheel. This sacred journey is something that has come to me in the last couple of years - I am visiting all the points of a great wheel of ley lines that covers the southeast of the US to experience their power and to honor these sacred places. Check out that linked post for details.

The Great Dismal Swamp is a lonely expanse of wood and marsh and swamp, and an area rich with history. It's a wildlife refuge, and was once used as a hideout on the Underground Railroad during the US Civil War. Local legends are rich concerning this place. It's a wild place, an impenetrable wilderness, a liminal space where the touches of civilization and law were light. What this land was to pre-European peoples I do not know, but I do know that they lived here - it was a vast region, once. To my eyes, it is a fascinating place. What secrets are hidden in its tangled wood? What lurks beneath its black waters? What do the fearsome stings of the swarming insects protect?

For me, this visit was a continuation of a period of intensive underworld work. The guardians of the underworld have made themselves known to me. I have been doing a great deal of journeywork, shadow work - working with the dark, hidden places within and below. Reflective, visionary work. Quiet, powerful work.

I spent the weekend mostly at the nearby Merchant's Millpond, which is another kind of swamp....a still place of towering cypress and tupelo gum, an enchanted, watery forest. A place in which the veil between the world is as thin as spider silk. A place where I was honored to witness a vulture feed. Turkey vultures and black vultures had found a deer, possibly lost in Hurricane Matthew, on the hummock of a cypress. There were birds at the carcass, birds in the branches, and yet more vultures circling in the sky above.

Sacred transformer, death eagle, purifier - I honor your wisdom! Teach me to soar on the thermals of life, conserving energy until opportunity presents itself. Teach me to ingest refuse, that which no longer serves, and bring it back into the great cycle, to take on new life and power my wings.

Teach me the mysteries of death, that gentle release that frees the spirit to carry on its journey. Teach me to release what is tired and worn-out and unnecessary, making space for the needed and new. Teach me, sacred Vulture!

When I came to the Great Dismal Swamp, I startled a vulture by the side of the road. It flew so close to me that it took my breath away. I was crawling along in my truck with all the windows down and there was this enormous bird, feathers looking more brown than black, with a mottled texture. It flew in front of me for some time before drifting into the woods.

Later, a Great Blue Heron led me deeper into the swamp, flying above the canal as I drove behind on the road. On and on it flew, gracefully gliding over the black waters...I honor you, heron! Teach me the ways of the stalker, the patient hunter who stands in the shallows, silent as a shadow, who strikes swift as an arrow.

Heron led me to Drummond Lake, which was much larger than I supposed. I paused here, ate and drank, made offering to the land. This writing is what happened next.

The voice of Spirit comes to me as the land.
Today, it says, do not hurry
do not do.
Today, sit in the swamp wind and be.
Simply exist.
Be present with the holly and the honeysuckle
the fox grape, the sumac, and the corpse berry.
Soak up the last sun of autumn,
glowing golden timeless time,
like the turtle on driftwood silver and brown
let the tiny yellow moth draw you in
to the meadow, sere and dry
wooly marsh grass waving like flags in the breeze

Today the voice of Spirit beckons
come and be with me
Commune with me as this place
Mother grandmother swamp
Listen to your sisters the songbirds
Listen to your mother the waters burbling
Watch your brothers, the waves
Let the four winds cleanse you
and father sky lift you up.

Be as one with the land
Exist in this dying time,
last blazing of beauty
before winter's sleep

Today I honor the Great Mystery
that moves within all things.
Today, I am free.

- JN 10/30/16

This weekend was passed in the dark of the Moon. I paddled the waters, I walked the land, I bathed in
the sun, listened to the rain, drank in the starlight, was cleansed by the winds, and offered my songs to the land. Mother grandmother swamp, I honor you! Your waters fill my dreams and draw me deep, deep below, to the underworld, the land of the ancestors, the home of the fae, kingdom of the Horned One.

I honor you, Great Medicine Wheel of Jomeokee! Great Guide, this pilgrimage I make in your honor. This land I walk to gain your wisdom, each step trodden by countless ancestors who have gone before me. Fill me with your medicine. Teach me, Great Guide. Lead me on...

Blessed be! Naho!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Season of Samhain Begins

This began as a facebook status update that I wrote last night, and I like it so much that I wanted to share it with the blogosphere. The season of Samhain has begun!

The expression of one's soul can never be lost. It is reflected in others, because we are all connected (like it or not). What is truly ours never leaves us forever- all things ebb and flow in this great dance of creation. 

Like ripples in a pond, we flow on; like the flashing of lightning, we come and go so quickly...echoes of generations of souls learning and loving and losing, finding and remembering, knowing and meeting once more. The season of Samhain is upon us, my tribe. 

It is time to burn away and shed what no longer serves. It is the time of the final harvest, my beloveds- the harvest of souls. On the farms, the slaughter begins. In the wild, the hunt is on. We care for our land, pruning and clearing and mulching. We scurry to complete our work of preparing for winter, gathering, processing and storing away the fruits of the land. 

When Samhain comes, we put on the last of the harvest feasts. We can set a place or places for those who have gone before. It is time to commune with our beloved dead, now as the veil grows thin. We remember, we recite their names, we tell their stories, we honor our ancestors. 

“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future."

Blessed be! Naho!