Celeste and June in November

“It’s Scorpio time,” said Celeste who as her name suggested paid some attention to the stars and their progress through the wheel of the year. “What is going to happen this year? Something always does….”

“Several somethings, no doubt,” said June dryly. “I always feel a little braced in November.”

“Is it time to conjure a few more wise ones? Wizards and witches, shamans and fools? It’s that season.”

“I think Owen is getting close to his Chironic wounded healer power and Thea is diving deep with her painting. Really everyone is taking some major leaps right now. The dream world has been hopping. And the birds are pretty excited. Almost spring-like in some ways or mid-summer when the raucous young ravens fledge.”

Celeste yawned and stretched thinking how tired she was and that tomorrow was a school day. A fire twinkled merrily in the grate, welcome sustenance on this chilly night. She licked her forefinger and pressed it to glean the remaining chocolate chip cookie crumbs from the plate Ariel had presented them earlier. “Maybe I should take your advice about retiring soon. Rhea is coming along nicely as a teacher and I can imagine leaving the Illahee School in her competent hands. I have my eye on Ariel too.”

“That would be a huge step for you,” responded June, not daring to hope her partner would act on the suggestion any time soon, yet knowing that the time was inevitably approaching. “It would be lovely to have you present here in a different way. I wonder what that would look like.”

“More sewing and clothes design for one thing. I could get serious about my astrology and astronomy studies for another, I still have such a strong feeling that you and I are here from the stars. I’d like to explore my connection with the Pleiades.”

“And I with Sirius. We are spirits learning to be human.”

“Oh no. I just thought. What if our true homes are different worlds. I don’t know if I could bear to be separate from you, dear heart.”

“Perhaps we’ll just need to come back here again…. so we can be together…..” Each fingered the single diamond in her own left ear, a pair split one holiday season to remind them of their origins in the stars. Each then reached across to finger the twin sparkling in the other’s ear, looking into each other’s eyes. It was a ritual that never failed to delight them. A quick hug sealed with a kiss and they sat back again in their corners of the blue chintz love seat drawn in front of the fire.

“I know that Pluto and Neptune are dancing in tandem. Shadow selves being fished out of the deep by the watery king, while Jupiter makes it all loom large. Is there something we should be doing to help things along?” asked Celeste, pouring herself a little more from the delightful Goddessy Damiana liquour bottle between them.

June added another log to the fire – wood Arlo had split – and then decided to warm up her cooling cup of Cindy’s lavender and tulsi tea nestled in the duck down cozy that Caliente had made for them. So lovely having evidence of younger friends all around them. The fire happily kindled more brightly and the stars twinkled outside the window.

“It feels like there is some heat bubbling in various quarters…. sexually I mean. It could stir things up to have some company in that realm.”

“Other female couples?”

“I don’t know about that. Sure, it would be nice to have more witchy lesbians around, but I have a feeling that’s not so important as raising the general heat level around here. Ours too, of course.”

Their hands reached across the small distance between them to clasp warmly and then following suit, their heads bent forward as well. Lips connected and softened, opening to allow tongues to do their dance. Each put a hand on the other’s cheek. And drank deeply. “You smell good,” said one to the other. Breath came faster for a moment then stilled again. They drew apart, their eyes open deeply to each other, content to let the stirring in their cunts simmer for a bit.

“Do you ever wish we were younger, Celeste?”

“You mean like I would have grabbed you hard in the old days and we’d be rolling on the floor by now with or without our shirts?”

“Nice memories, aren’t they?”

“I keep having the feeling that if there were more juice around us, we’d have more juice between us. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking….”

“When you wish upon a star…. “ Celeste sang. “Venus is rising again in the east aka Inanna returning from the Underworld to greet her lover.”

“Remember back when I was whining about how there was no one else to play with magically?”

“I wasn’t very willing to take part in those days, was I?”

“You were busy putting energy into the school. You still are.”

“I know,” Celeste said ruefully. “It’s all-consuming.”

“And worth it. You’ve helped a lot of young folks come into their own. Look at the marvelous crop abroad now, both those here and those out a’wandering about the globe.” June thought longingly of Marina Goodwin-Brown, a favorite of hers.

“Still…..”

“I remember I had to take myself firmly in hand and do the psi stuff on my own. Let my sand tray work be shamanic, even if my clients didn’t always realize it. I learned how to move myself in that space of magic and mystery, letting even ordinary, everyday actions have meaning and import. Model the world I want to be living in. It’s a challenging discipline.”

“You do it so well.”

“Not all the time, of course, but I had such marvelous training from my earliest years. I thank my mother and aunts daily. Plus I keep my life quiet enough that I can usually open my heart center to operate from. All my chakras really. As you know, it doesn’t work if I’m out in groups too much. No dancing or drumming for me much less city council meetings or board memberships, no matter how worthy the cause. I just can’t stay centered when I am pulled every which way by people’s energies and dramas and fears. I get seduced into caring too much about the details then. I can manage it one on one with clients if I’m very careful and cleanse after every session. Put their worry cares into my little cauldron to work themselves out on their own…. Of course, sometimes a particular group thing calls me….”

“Seems like there have been more than usual this fall. You got us to the Equinox Labyrinth, the Demeter and Persephone women’s ritual, and even Day of the Dead. I’ve been amazed.”

“I’m tracking that about myself obviously. Seems like things are heating up somehow and my Inner Guidance keeps saying I’m needed to be present – to nudge things a bit more than in years past. Maybe it’s all finally coming together….”

“Have you noticed Gabriel and Jasmine Terranova’s energy? It’s very intriguing.”

“Kind of sparking…. They haven’t opened up yet about all they know…. Getting their bearings I assume. And who on earth are Ken and Marsha? They’re taking Ursula’s class. I come across him wandering around in the dream time but he’s pretty unconscious….”

“I’ll bet one or both of them show up in your sand tray studio soon.”

“We’ve been waiting an awfully long time. Is it finally long enough? We always knew people would show up and grow into their power.”

“You helped heal a bunch of them.”

“As you helped raise a bunch.” June raised her teacup to salute Celeste. “We both are available when the big energies need us.”

“I’ve always thought it amazing that we can live here in a group house….”

“Luckily we have our little suite.”

“And Owen is such a steady soul.”

June raised an eyebrow. “You’re forgetting….”

“I suppose I am. But at least we weren’t all living together during his pot and alcohol PTSD years. Nor during his sadness while Susan died and then when Robin fledged from the nest. But that led him to invite us into the house. What a blessing that has been. We’ve helped him anchor, I think.”

“Not to mention the stray urchins who pass through here. We always seem to know which ones will work for us, and us for them.”

“Usually. I think Ariel is a keeper, though I don’t suppose she’ll be content in this house forever. She will stay in the area now.” June spoke as if saying it made it so which it did. “She’s home, you know.”

“Probably she’ll partner up. I have a feeling it might be with a woman, speaking of that.”

“Speaking of that.” Their hands reached out massaging knees and sliding up thighs to their matched pair of v-shaped crotches…. The flames kindled a bit more this time. “I do believe there is a little juice flowing, Sweetie. Shall we adjourn to the bed? As inviting as the fire is, this floor is awfully challenging to my hips nowadays.”

“Not just yet,” said June. “I’d like to dedicate our rising flame to the collective fire – juice and muscle, sinew and bone. Semen and fallopian tubes – even ours that aren’t doing much any more. Our memories will suffice and can flow forward from the past into the future.” She turned her eyes towards the winged Isis statue that knelt on the mantle piece surrounded by lavender sprigs, calendula and feather bouquets, several cowrie shells and a large piece of obsidian. “May the Goddess bless all our unions and the gods rise to the charms and calls of Venus, Inanna and Isis. It is time. Help me up, Celestina mia, my knees are a bit creaky tonight.”

 

 

Pia & Raven at the Kitchen Table

Pia and Raven sat around the little round table in their kitchen, the remains of a good meal and a good story in front of them. Their black mutt Yew was curled up at their feet. Raven sat as he often did with his chair kicked back on two legs. To Pia it always seemed that he was balanced too precariously, yet over the years, she’d learned that nothing short of an earthquake could tip him over.

“So you had a powerful magical encounter this morning and it confirmed the feelings you were getting that we’re not meant to take on that eco-tourist business,” summarized Raven, picking kale strands out of his teeth.

“Do you mind? It’s not that the business isn’t meant to happen or that our thinking will go to waste….”

“We’re just not meant to be the ones getting the fruits of that planning.”

“Yes,” she agreed wryly. “As usual….”

“And we have to find the people who will take it on. Plus you have to discover what it is that you are meant to be doing. Okay. That’s cool. I can live with it. Can’t argue with the Voice of Gaia.”

“Thank you for being so understanding.”

“Did you think I would be anything else? You’ve put up with plenty of my scatter-brained schemes and about faces in the middle of the road.”

“I knew you’d understand. We’ve never followed the usual routes before. I didn’t think you would mind this time either…. still….”

“Where will you start since the Voice didn’t hand you a playbook?”

“I’ve been thinking about that all afternoon, of course. I could talk to the Conservancy Trust crew. Rumor is they’ve gotten purchase options on some special land along the estuary.”

“Really? Where? You didn’t tell me?”

“I was told in confidence. I can keep secrets when I need to, unlike some people I could mention.”

“Humph,” said Raven pretending to be surprised and offended at the same time.

“Anyway, they’re about to launch a capital campaign and are hiring someone to run that campaign.”

“Do you think you have the energy for that work just now?”

“My question exactly. Yet it feels like a practical step to take on behalf of the River. The money side has always fascinated me. I have the contacts from the fundraising we did to get the Housing Trust and Elk Ridge going. This will be easier. Certainly less to explain. Preserving estuary lands is as conventional as motherhood and apple pie these days and Owen says our Bay is high on the state and federal lists because a large percentage remains undeveloped.”

“You just expressed an energy drain around doing that sort of work. As worthy as it sounds, it will take over. I’m not sure it’s the side of your brain you should be working from.”

“Am I being too noble again?” she asked plaintively, a side of her that few people ever saw.

He cocked an eyebrow at her.

“Okay, maybe I should follow up on the hospice caretaking for the money side…. That’s still noble, isn’t it?” She smiled ruefully. “But working with the dying is hands-on and direct so it uses a totally different energy. It’s almost like it turns me on…. At the same time I’m going to figure out – or more likely be open to guidance about – a ceremonial way to honor the Salmon and the River that includes the native peoples. Perhaps a festival at salmon return. Plus something else to keep them in the forefront of our minds during the year.”

“You know the whole thing smacks of your Pisces Rising. You’ve been wondering what that means. You’ll be conjuring on behalf of the fish and the river. Learning the watery side of yourself.”

“Oh, Raven,” she breathed. “Why didn’t I think of that? My magical fish self that I am here to learn about. Yee gods and little fishes. You’d think I could’ve figured that out. Guess we can’t always see what is right in front of our noses. Good thing we have each other…. and our community.…”

“Awk!” said Raven, putting his chair back on four legs and pushing away from the table. “I’ll do the dishes.” He reached into the cool box to put away the yogurt. The cool box was a cupboard he’d built it into the house because he hadn’t wanted the noise of a refrigerator thrumming. It was insulated to the inside and open at the top to vent out naturally rising heat. He and Lindsay-the-Architect had worked hard to see how close to zero energy use the houses in Elk Ridge could be.

“So we need to manifest someone for the aforesaid eco-tourist business,” mused Raven.

“Is it enough just to think it or should we get a conjure crew together?” asked Pia.

“Let’s see how it unfolds for the moment. I don’t have time or energy right now….” replied Raven, his hands in the dishpan. “…. Actually I have something else I was going to bring up tonight that’s been nagging at me again. The Trickster has been nipping my butt – Spirit Raven or Coyote. Uranus coming on strong, as you would say.”

“Fire away,” said his partner, beginning to fiddle with the saltshaker. What other agonies was this day going to hold?

“Ummm…. well…. it’s sorta about fire.” Raven took a deep breath and turned around drying his hands on the raggedy pink dishtowel. “It’s about our sex life. We’ve been avoiding the issue for a while – giving it a rest so to speak but I don’t think ignoring it is doing us any good.”

“It’s not like you’ve made yourself available when I’ve made overtures,” retorted Pia sharply. “During the holidays when I put on the sexy negligee my sister sent me….”

“You know I can’t stand to have someone come on to me. It’s all too reminiscent….”

“So what the hell am I supposed to do? You think I’m seducing you if I try to lure you into bed. Which I am, of course, but…. How else are we supposed to get there? It’s such a fuckin’ double bind.”

“So to speak.”

“Ha ha.” There was sarcasm and bitterness in her voice. “I feel hypocritical about how non-existent our sex life is. Everyone thinks I am so voluptuous and out there. You have that rep too, Mr. Flamboyance. You have to admit we consciously play that up. I know I slept around a lot in the old days. I don’t even know who Arlo’s father is…. Besides someone at one of those wild parties during the demonstrations that spring…. A black man….”

“Presumably,” he said equally sarcastically. “I still don’t get it why you aren’t into making love when I do show interest. It’s like you are taking revenge on me for those other times.” Raven eyed Pia fiercely and she glowered back.

“Maybe I am. But not on purpose.”

“Goddammit, Pia, we’ve been over and over this. You know in detail, ad nauseam, how I was abused as a kid and find it hard to let go into physical intimacy. It’s not like you don’t have your own issues. I hate the way we’ve been sniping at each other constantly, while pretending there’s not anger there but….”

“I’m not saying we don’t have issues,” interjected Pia, skipping over the sniping part. “But when I’m feeling horny and want you to know it, you go deep into a book or project and I can’t pry you out of it.”

“When I’m turned on you can’t seem to find the spark. It’s like one of us always has to be unavailable. You seem to choose the times I’m otherwise absorbed to approach me. Like you know it’s safe because I won’t want to respond….”

“It ain’t news anymore that we both have wounded places that are shut down,” she interrupted again. “Our counseling work showed how perfectly matched we are, you and I, to keep each other at a subtle distance. Not to mention the beginnings of menopause which is obviously slowing me and my juices down. Yet, I know there is something deeper to be had between us. I so couldn’t bear it when it seemed like we were only rubbing body parts without really connecting. Yada yada….”

There was a pause while each thought back to the awful days when they were first wrestling openly with all this, not knowing what was at the root of their problems, each so resentful of the other. Anger. Spite. Confusion. Self-sabotage. And yes, even a little subtle revenge had crept in. It had taken a lot of June’s sand tray therapy and some journeying with Owen’s teacher in the city to achieve a sense of equilibrium about it. Now, despite the fact that the conversation was taking place while the sun was in Libra, it seemed balance had become a stale state as well. What could shake them up again? What magic could get their blood flowing? Resignation was a safe place to be but hardly the most creative, and not what their personas seemed to be “advertising” and presumably asking for.

Pia broke the silence. “I agree that leaving it alone isn’t getting us anywhere either. Will starting the Ecstatic Spirit Dance will light some sparks in us? I like your poster, by the way.”

“Dance certainly is body centered so I’m kinda hoping it will shift the energy, but who knows. Your belly dancing phase opened up some tight places in you but that was at a point when I was particularly shut down after all those revelations about priests and Boy Scout leaders. Hit a little too close to home they did.”

“Should we go talk to June again?”

“We’ve had therapies up the wazoo. Somehow I’m not sure anything new will come out of that….”

“I know what you mean. Maybe this is another of those things we need to let season some more.”

“Sigh. I brought it up cause I want you to know I’m conscious of it and want to move forward in some way. I’m wondering if it might help if we could start talking about it in Medicine Circles,” suggested Raven.

“You’ve said that before and I suppose we should but I can’t quite bring myself to. Too scary. Hypocrisy again.” Pia began to cry.

“Aw, honey. No need to go there. Our hormones ain’t ragin’ and we have so much in every other area….” He reached out for her and their two tall figures blended into a hug, though each was still awkwardly stiff, not knowing where to take this moment of intimacy. They knew they had ancient karma to work through that they’d explored some over the years of their relationship, but obviously at this point the impasse seemed insurmountable. Although the destructive nit-picky snarling at each other had been on the rise again of late, at least the subterranean anger blew through faster….

“I do think that others may be having more trouble than we think,” continued Raven, “If we could open up the subject with our nearest and dearest, we might all gain something….”

“Not yet, Raven. Please not yet. Maybe something else will arise….”

“Like my cock?” He chuckled. “That would be a breakthrough. And it would be lovely to have you juicy again. I had to bring up the subject, though. I know it’s really hard for you to talk about so I appreciate the effort that took.”

“Thank you, I guess, though I’m still feeling pretty grumpy about it. What a day. All my shit seems to be up. I should go check what Uranus and Chiron are up to.”

“Maybe your fishy river thing will bring on some flow.”

“It might. I know it strikes a deep chord in me, why not in the sexual arena as well as the spiritual.”

“We could go snuggle with a movie.”

“A sexy one?”

“Why not? Might as well have a vicarious thrill. But let’s take the pup out and wish on a star first.”

Yew pricked up her ears. It was good her humans were airing that sex business again. However stale the issue she hated it when their tension about it was on the rise. Why they couldn’t just tumble into bed was still a mystery to her. She sighed as she clambered to her feet.

The three of them went out together into the night.

Owen at the Tree 1

Owen had never known how to describe the giant Sitka Spruce before him well up in the Logan Family Forest, across the highway from most of the houses in the north end of the community. Always he was filled with awe at the powerful presence of THIS GREAT-GREAT GRANDMOTHER OF THE FOREST. The roots and branches – even those several stories above – were themselves the size of most large trees. The ferns growing way up overhead on her thick branches were the size of a VW bug. She was like an elephant, or rather, a whole tower of elephants. Huge legs. Massive body. One could almost see her wise eyes beaming and sense her enormous beating heart…. Yet, none of these images sufficed to express the power of her physical presence. The reverence she engendered was as boggling as a giant cathedral. Her connection to All That Is…. An ancient, gigantic force….

As kids he and Gordy had climbed into those branches. He could still see the frayed ends of the ropes they’d used to pull themselves up, ropes probably strung by their father and his brothers. They had even spent the night there on occasion, but it had always been spooky somehow and by the time they were teenagers Gordy had become disinclined for that particular adventure. Owen had continued on solo for a few years but his dreams while there had become disturbing, and soon his travels away from the community meant that he too left the Sitka behind.

Since his return twenty-five years ago, he hadn’t neglected the tree entirely, but he came up rarely and not to spend the night. The Medicine Groups held ceremony here from time to time. It took at least a dozen people, hands outstretched, to reach around it. He’d also brought Robin and the Illahee children over the years, but he’d been disinclined to share the place with many. It was too special.

He wasn’t quite sure why he had chosen this particular evening, but he sensed that September’s Equinox Labyrinth had woken something in him. Ever since then he’d been feeling a strong call to journey inward, to spend a night in deep listening to the Tree and the forest as a whole.

Owen settled into a soft mossy place in the crook of the Grandmother Sitka’s mammoth roots. He could feel the tree embracing him, loving him. It was almost as if she was congratulating him on following his inclination to choose this spot on this night. “OK, I’ll take that affirmation,” he whispered.

His thoughts as he centered in were full of Daniel Giamario’s Shamanic Astrology idea Pia had talked about the other night in the Medicine Circle – how Rising Signs are what we are here to learn this time around, while Moon Signs are the expertise we bring into the world from former lives. His own Cancer Moon explained his innate ability to care for others, his mothering of Robin after his wife’s death, and even his strong on-going connection at Illahee, both to the group as a whole and to the some of the needier children there. It was so easy for him to reach them through nature. Kids that were having trouble reading, especially those coming discouraged from other schools, thrived when Illahee got them out in the woods. Finding a newt or an animal skull could spur an interest in looking it up and it didn’t take much nudging for a drawing and eventually a little writing about it…. He knew he was also inclined to be something of a worrying mother hen. Maybe that was the shadow side of his Cancerian expertise. His Libra Sun gave him balance, but he could get fretful especially about details and young people.

His mind’s eye flickered over times when he’d been overly fussy about the children’s safety. It was hard to listen to Celeste’s sage advice that huge learning leaps often occurred right after a kid had climbed high in a tree or scaled a rocky incline. It seemed that mastering a physical challenge often meant immediate advancement of an elusive academic skill. Brain-mind connections. Somatic learning. Illogically, he still fretted even knowing his own and his brother’s tree born adventures, perhaps because of those escapades.

His Scorpio rising sign was intimidating. A wizard? He didn’t think so. Although lately the Green Man archetype had been moving him almost to tears. Green Man. Pan. That wild ultra-masculine forest being, the uncontrollable aspects of Nature – floods, typhoons, lightening-set fires. Spring growth. Procreation. Rampant sex.

Owen grinned. It was hard to imagine that part of himself going wild. What would a goatish rampage look like in a sensitive widower tuned into children and plants? Unpartnered too. No easy outlet there. He’d certainly never felt like casual encounters. Was there somebody to play Green Woman to his Green Man self? Goldberry to his Tom Bombadil? For a minute he wallowed in a longing he rarely admitted to himself. He loved Tolkien’s image of the cozy, wooded cottage and imagined a Northwest American version with Tom’s magical appearances here and there to spur the furious growth of a coastal spring and summer – blackberries and Old-Man-in-the-Ground, those vine beings that curled relentlessly, reaching for sun and nutrients. Butterflies. Bees. Pollen. Sex.

Yet right now was the opposite season. The dying back. At sixty-four, his life matched this October season. He listened to a couple of raccoons chittering in the distance, almost a quarrel, but not quite. The bats swooped low. The full moon was hidden at the moment but its silvery light gave an eeriness to the density of the forest. Suddenly he felt a little spooked. All alone in the woods…. on the Mountain…. He could almost hear a hummm, a low throb of the life within the Mountain. He’d forgotten about that pulse. Hadn’t heard it for a while….

He opened the thermos of tea he’d packed. Chamomile, catnip and salal from his garden to ground and calm, with a pinch of lobelia to heighten his sense of adventure, but also to help with any lingering PTSD upwellings. He’d tossed some motherwort in too – its scientific name, Leonuris cardiaca, lionhearted, speaking to courage in transitions which is what he was really asking for. His Libra self liked the balance of all those opposites. An aventurine stone was in his coat pocket. He used to think it was “adventurine” with a “d” but had recently learned that it was about growth, especially opening and clearing the heart chakra which he figured also means it’s about courage for making shifts. “Coeur” meaning “heart” in French.

Leaning back he settled the orange and brown Peruvian woven wool blankets he’d brought a little more comfortably behind and under him, his thoughts drifting to more prosaic topics. His upcoming conversation with Gordy about finances was sure to be unpleasant. An article to be written for the Conservancy Trust newsletter about making peace with invasive species. His nagging question about the importance of Devil’s Club…. He looked towards the stand of Devil’s Club he knew was just outside this clearing, but it was now too dark to distinguish one plant from another. This would be a good place to Journey with it….

Held in the arms of the Great Grandmother Sitka, he mused about all the people who had come into his life since his boyhood days in Mahonia and Nekelew. He had been lonely then for others who loved this place in the way he did. So many of his growing up peers either lived here without noticing or had been set on moving away. He had left too….

The Vietnam War had been calling as he graduated from Nekelew High School and going had seemed the right thing to do. For sure he didn’t have any other options lined up for himself. He wasn’t exactly the studious type. Nor wanting to learn a trade…. The War. Now there was a topic he didn’t want to think about. These home woods were so different from the tortured jungles around Duc Pho.

On the other hand, his visit to the Amazon Basin a few years ago had been all too similar a landscape. The sensory overlap of sound and smells of the two jungles had given him flashbacks of terror in the midst of learning about traditional healing plants on Peru’s Madre de Dios River, making it a truly heroic shamanic dismemberment journey. It had felt like a blowing asunder of his body parts like his recurring flashbacks of others’ deaths and dismemberments. However, the vision medicines had shown him some clear distinctions of time and place that allowed him to make peace with the differing energies. The war was then. The medicine plants were so very NOW. The war and its aftermath had tempered rather than broken him. He had been lucky – neither physically wounded, nor so psychologically scarred that he had fallen into debilitating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Alcohol had been an issue, as had pot. But thanks to his higher powers for AA, he was now clear of those substances. He knew they could be sacraments, but he had overused them and they had taken over for a while. Drinking and smoking too much had worked to drown out the shrieking demons haunting him from the Asian jungle but he knew he had become too deadened to be useful to this world and his deep connection here in the temperate Oregon rainforest.

The people now in his life had shown him the possibilities of a spiritual pursuit and after the Amazon he had studied far afield with different teachers to learn about the sacred inward paths with no further need of outside hallucinogenic infusion…. Thus his thoughts led to the typical drumbeat for shamanic journeying and he began to hear it in his head….