Post Beltane

These have been some quietly eventful weeks. Afternoons remain peaceful since the loud neighbors backed down, and the peace has meant more to me than I once could have imagined. I have my entire day to work again. Things tend to get noisier as the summer comes on, but that is general neighborhood activity and not usually a bother.

Everything I mentioned in previous posts has been developing. My reconciliation or resolution between direct seeking of liberation and remaining creative in a sort of high-grade maya has been a conscious aspect of the story playing itself out here for a long time; I just know to look out for it more now, so there is peace in that process. And the old woman who told me the stories would start coming through more now? Vividly, wonderfully present. Signs have included geese and goose feathers and snow–and I have started to recall earlier meetings with Mother Holda, to use but one of her names. She hasn’t told me the one I will use to refer to her yet.

When I was posting every day, I think I mentioned Dante’s Vita Nuova as a model for the sort of book I love to read and would like to create: verses beside the poet’s own notes as to their inspiration and meaning. Mine would be immediately magical, of course, in the way I describe magic here. That book is happening; I have been working on it officially for several weeks. Today’s text appears below, right after an introduction to an unusual aspect of my work: dancing. This is not a metaphor only; as much as it becomes one, it always refers to actual, in the flesh dancing.

Dancing began when I was 18 months old and was tolerated, mostly, by my parents–until letting a weird kid monopolize the front room floor became a nuisance. Then I found various ways–I never stopped. Since getting out on my own, having a large room with a sound floor–and the privacy to use it–was always my top priority in a living space. This practice provoked curiosity and sometimes more concerning feelings in those who learned about it, so it had to be protected. When conditions were good and time was free, it was an ecstatic practice that could go on for hours. It appears to be the same dance as that of the Mevlevi Sufis, but I danced alone and much faster. Music was important to ‘uphold my spine’–provide bodily energy; I called the songs I relied on at any given time (they changed, of course; most of them wear out eventually) ‘dance fodder.’ When I overcame my fear–‘writer’s block’–and began composing, verse was always preceded by dancing. I wondered if I would even be able to work without it, but I found out when my poor hard-working skeleton started wearing out and paining me. Now dancing is over, but after a period of adjustment, I work as much as ever. Because–all that time I was dancing, spirit tells me, I was bringing through insights–and storing them. Dancing created an invisible storage-battery, and I am drawing on it now.

From the Book of Pertinax:

More stories–the Old Mother has been more than keeping her word. These came when I thought of an image, wondered if it had a story behind it, and then started telling the story as if I already knew it. Turned out I did:

The Golden Ally

A young woman watches a goldfish swimming around and around in its bowl. As she relaxes her mind into its pattern, it seems to swim faster–in spirals–faster. It blurs into a column of gold and resolves into the fall figure of a young man. He steps forward and holds out his hands to her. She reaches out, and he gives her a clear glass marble with the figure of a goldfish inside. He dissolves as she looks down at her hands holding the sphere. She then looks again at the goldfish, which is swimming slower and slower. Finally it stops, almost limp, seemingly with exhaustion.

Under the Leaf

A young woman rises early and walks out at sunrise on the first of May to look for a special leaf–and then to find the magic underneath. All through the fields and the edge of the forest she searches, but finds no sign. Her home garden and fence-row are the same. Sadly she goes back to her room, where she listlessly reaches for the disappointing letter she recently received from her friend. She rereads it, then turns the page over. There is his personal sign. Suddenly, she sees it again and understands what it means. She goes back out to pick one perfect fresh apple leaf, and lays that on the letter to make sure she’ll remember this moment later–even much later: The sign of the double-fishhook anchor, secured with ivy vines.

Dreams were active if not retrievable–more teaching and learning, in the company of others.

5 May 2021


A Poisoned Thorn

Why did you ask, when you already knew I would answer as if from an oncoming trance,

then over my shoulder look frantic to enter the back of my head in the race that this dance

was about to turn into–a steeplechase gallop that rendered me breathless–no cantering here?

Why can I only imagine. Imagine I shall. Enter Death, coming over so queer

and yet gentle, as if I were fearful when really I’m anxious to greet my best-spirited kin

and share in return–how it steals softly over me–song spun away from the place where I spin?

How shall I tell you–the Why you are asking is Who I became as the trances began,

and when she is likely to fly into dancing again–on a floor not a faery’s hand-span

from this moment in time and this time of the moonrise when lights in the trees pattern codes into rhyme.

I’ve come out from under the mountain to find and maintain you in peace and good order where time

cannot ever keep up with your burgeoning swiftness. Tell me again, and I’ll ask you no Why–

Horses with terrible thundering hooves hurtle down like hard rain from a cobalt blue sky–

and everything aches in the wreckage they leave in their wake. They assure us, you’ll heal and grow strong–

for all this long meanwhile she’ll see you collecting the flashes of code that resolve into song

after song as you recognize patterns that ask you a question so strange, it’s escaped you till now–

Why did he spell out in letters so faint–Love, he wanted to spell, but he didn’t know how.

Suddenly everything shifts as the trance enters vividly: Such is its effortless grace

that nothing exists or has ever existed–through real but unspeakable–circles you race

into magic concentrically potent and lyrical–images flown on a magnetic wind

across the far ether from where you are already done being left like a dead body skinned

half-alive for the use of a spirit who hates it and cannot remember the reason it chose

to frequent such lowly environs that seldom appear in good taste or remember the rose–

of their scarce mortal person: Not merely the trees in the garden are redolent; loveliness wafts

abroad on a breeze in the oncoming evening and wasn’t she danced here like one of the drafts

her actions have drawn out of heaven, a spiraling motion that pulls magic steadily through

and into a new mode of being she simply completes when she sends her recordings to you,

and you gladly receive them? There’s no Why about it–she’s answered herself; don’t you know what’s been sent?

Back to the maker of angelic art as it plays its own harp strung with hair that was meant

to overflow shoulders and trail to the floor if the bridegroom took too long to find his way here?

Look at her standing in silent reproach–never dancing; he’s barred; he’ll not see it this year,

nor the next–he’s been scorned for a failure. But then the old woman–the nightmare he dreaded and fled:

Draw out the thorn from the side of his mind and deliver him: Make this his wedding’s birth-bed.


About J

formal verse poetry and commentary at
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