New Year’s Eve Prep

Finding Allies

“We’re on our way to the Art Center to work on stuff for the New Year’s Eve parade. Anybody else want to come?” Charley issued a cheery invitation to anybody in earshot in Gaia Natural Foods, while Ursula gathered up edibles to sustain the group artistic endeavor.

A dread-locked head popped out from behind the produce aisle. “I keep hearing about the parade. What’s the deal?”

“The young people started it ten or so years ago. We rent the community center and hang out with costume trunks and music and potluck goodies. Just before midnight a lot more people turn up and we all head down Main Street with flaming torches, giant puppets, and banners. There are drummers and general shenanigans. This year Ariel’s brass marching band friends from Portland are coming so the music should be particularly fun.”

“I’ve heard about that part. What are you doing at the art center?”

“During this week between Christmas and New Years we take over the large common room at the Art Center and get creative. Some puppets last from year to year but it’s fun to make at least one new big thing. The huge skeleton man and turtle finally got eaten by rats in my daughter’s barn. I don’t know if the guys will want to get down the big bird they hung up at ReBound. But when we left last night it looked like a dragon was beginning to take shape.”

“It’s really fun,” said Ursula coming up. “You never know who or what is going to show up. The young folks have already made one trip to ReBound scavenging for likely materials and will probably make a few more. I’ve got fabric I’ve been collecting plus other odds and ends. I want to make a bunch of banners this year.”

“Maybe I’ll come by. I’m pretty good on the sewing machine. I’ve done a lot of theater work.”
“Perfect,” said Charley. It really is street theater.”

“Is the parade legal?” asked an older man overhearing their conversation.

“The kids always wanted it to stay anarchistic like it was in the beginning,” answered Charley. “But us parent types rented the hall for a staging area the second year and by the third year felt we should honor the City’s request to work on some of the logistics. Small town politics, you know. For one thing, it was making things awkward for our friend, Tad, the police chief. Then the City made us apply for a permit that involved paying 300 bucks for event insurance. We went along with it that year to keep the peace. The next year a group of us identified with it were out of town and the parade happened anyway. The following year we pointed out that it had taken on a life of its own like Times Square and that the City’s insurance covers it just like the 4th of July parade they sanction. They agreed to mellow out about it if we would help with security. So we round up volunteers to wear vests at the intersections. The whole thing only lasts about twenty minutes from start to finish.”

“Who’s we?” asked the man.

“Cedar ReSources  – a citizens group that is working towards sustainability in our area villages. We see the parade as a great community building opportunity. It doesn’t hurt the economics of the holiday week either. Now there are parties and bands at a number of venues and people make reservations at the inns along the street months in advance.”

“Come on by the Art Center to see the process. For sure show up for the fun on the 31st. You could even wear a security vest,” Charley offered.

Ursula reappeared with her basket loaded. “OK. I’ve got cheese and wine and chips. Carrots and cauliflower. Molly is making hummus. Raven promised brownies. That should hold us for the afternoon. I’m figuring we can order some pizzas for whoever is around at supper time.”

“Let’s grab some beer.”

“I hear they’re making animal masks this year like the ones they did for Solstice,” said the young girl behind the counter. “I’ll be there when I’m off work.”

 

 

The Art center was already humming in creative chaos when Charley and Ursula arrived. Beer bottles from the night before and active looking latte cups were scattered amidst piles of fabric and poles, glue guns and scissors. A young girl Ursula didn’t know was making fairy wings with Maddie from Elder House. A couple of sewing machines stood idle at the moment but obviously had been put to good use judging from the clutter around them. Ariel’s cadre of teenagers doing papier mach masks had been joined by Thea. Raven was helping Orca and Summer turn a rainbow colored tent into a dragon’s head. Its tail was a roll of green nylon fabric Cali had contributed from her garage stash.

As Ursula spread out provisions, a group came in the door. “More materials,” said Carlos as he and Marina came gaily through the door. “Buckets for drums. We want lots this year. And look at this cool wire mesh. It’s gotta be good for something.”

“Here’s some more sparkly fabric for you fairies,” offered Marina. “It came in just as we got there. How ‘bout these placemats for the dragon’s eyes?”

“Phew!” said Ursula quietly to Charley. “Looks like we’re on a roll here. The last couple of years have been kinda flat. The news of the brass band coming helps.”

“It doesn’t hurt to have Marina and Arlo around, plus Ariel’s new energy. The flock of birds seems to have landed – at least for the moment. Plus Thea and Mariposa for their first New Year’s. Looks like our Intention juju is still working. There’s Finch Terranova too.“

“Such a dance we all do, keeping the energy moving,” Ursula said, moving to give Charley a hug.

“It’s worth it,” he smiled down at her and kissing her lightly.

“It is indeed. Warms my heart, it does. As always.”

“Molly said to tell you that she and Gabe will be down after ReBound closes,” Carlos relayed to Ursula.

“Ursula, did you bring your animal picture books?” called out Ariel.

“Yes, and the Ted Andrews book on animal symbolism in case some of you want to look things up.”

“Can you tell us more about Power animals?” Thea asked.

“I like the way your mask is taking shape. That’s a good way to bond with your Cougar another degree, isn’t it? And you’ll have fun playing with it. Did you tell them about how you got your new friend?’

“Yes, but not everyone can do that formal shamanic process right now. Finch and Zydeco are having trouble choosing what to make.”

“Owen would probably do an emergency session,” Ursula laughed, “but short of that, I’d suggest thinking about some animal you love. Just let one come into your mind. Do you ever dream of animals? Especially if you have more than once.

“ I’ve been dreaming about Elk lot,” said Zydeco.

“There you go. I’d say that is an important messenger for you to explore.”

“But I’m kind of afraid of them when they turn up around ReBound.”

“All the better,” responded Ursula. “Dig into that. As Starhawk says, ‘Where there’s fear, there’s power.”

“Who did you cuddle with as a child?” Ursula continued turning to the others.  “Did you have an imaginary animal friend? It’s really about listening to a call…. Even just opening one of these books at random and seeing if the creature pictured resonates.”

“I had a raccoon friend,” said a skinny teen with multi-colored hair.

Ursula thought she might be the daughter of the woman who worked at the Locovore Garden but she couldn’t remember her name. Sierra? Cheyenne? “That would be a great connection for you.”

“Can you have more than one power animal?“

“Absolutely. I have several as does everyone I know. Sometimes you’ll have a main one for a time. A particular part of your life or a season. And it’s not just animals, remember. It can be trees, plants, even the Earth herself. Stars, gods, goddesses, angels. Anything that feels like a guide or an ally to you. A helper. Something who’s qualities you would like to share or learn from.”

“Awk Awk,” Raven laughed as he flew past with a handful of potato chips.

“Raven and I identified so much with our first animals that we changed our names to join them. He always has been a trickster sort and loves sparkly things.”

“And you are such a Mother Bear person.”

Finch picked up one of the books on the table and started leafing through it with a thoughtful air.

Owen at the Tree 2

Owen’s mind reached to the roots of the tree, down, down their hugeness…. journeying…. out onto the plain of the Underworld…. The sun is overhead here, a warm breeze blowing. A hummingbird, impossibly iridescent chartreuse and red, buzzes at eye level, then darts off, only to return again. Does it want him to follow? It hovers now over a gigantic datura plant. Owen moves towards it sniffing and feels its spirit kiss him before it sends him on his way. A cluster of tiny psilocybin mushrooms waves him over. Suddenly elfin himself, he sits like Alice in Wonderland at the foot of one, marveling at its subtle beauty, conjuring for a moment the delicate tracery of form and color that particular Medicine provokes. Before long, however, he salutes the fungi and turns again towards the sound of the hummingbird behind him. His wee guide is now looming as large as a goose over a stand of Devils Club whose few enormous spiky leaves are the browning yellow of autumn. His heart speeds in his chest. He’s been asking to make this connection. Is he ready for what these dangerously prickled sticks have to tell him? He fingers the aventurine still somehow in his pocket in this the Spirit World.

When it comes it is not at all what he expects. slide3

“I am the sharp surprise in the woods. I am Pan,” booms the plant. “They cast me as the Devil and are afraid of my power. My cloven hooves and randy ways are confusing to this world that wants to control everything – to dam rivers, mine veins and bludgeon trees into planks. In real life you can’t touch me in this form. But here in the Underworld you can rub against the brazenness of my stickers with impunity.”

“I won’t be filled with their diabolical torture?”

“They will spur you. Acupuncture for your dormant inner eye, the pineal gland asking to be awakened. Another re-membering of your body parts for the tasks ahead. No need for actual touch on the earth plane. An essence made in my presence will serve as a goad, a guide, a guardian. You are a Green Man yourself. Orion hunts with you, the Dog Star Sirius at his side. Chiron – the wounded healer – is calling for you. Listen….”

Turning towards a sound, Owen sees a centaur – half man, half horse – gallop towards him over the hill. Blood is dripping from scores of arrow wounds. “Heal me,” says the creature, “Heal me before they fester that I may heal others that they may heal still more.”

Owen stands baffled and overwhelmed.

“You know how.” Is it the Devil’s Club or is it Pan? It is hard to tell as they shimmer in and out of each other. “Puncture wounds will scab over but sometimes must be lanced to give the pus a vent. Call on me when you Journey and my Medicine will energetically find and open up the crusts whether they are visible scars or ancient and far under the surface. Do this for yourself and for him. You came into manhood in the war in the same era as the discovery of the asteroid Chiron in the sky. Your warrior wounds are the same.”

Reaching his hands towards the Centaur, Owen feels energy fizz back and forth between them, until the man/horse dashes off.

“You are one who shows the way, Owen.” The Devils Club speaks gently now. “With my lance and the Tarot’s Hermit lantern held high, you search out overgrown byways. You know how to lead your blindered compadres down the paths of this green world to find their wounded places, lost parts, their shadow selves. It is time now to grow into your power as a shaman. Be the Scorpion who knows when to sting and when to salve. You have done the background work. You need only open another degree to my energies. Let me in. Let me light the fires of seeing in your brain.” His voice booms again. “The coals of healing blaze in your hands. The sparks of regeneration smolder in your cock. No need to make more babies. But you do need to make magic and your cock is a fine tool for that. Your hands will touch and heal. Your cock will light fires of inspiration and healing as well.”

Owen feels his prick shrivel with the thought. This is not what he was imagining for his future. “I’m hardly a horny kid anymore….”

“Ha!” shouts Pan. “You fear. You would stay hidden. Too late for that. Rise to your potential. Fulfill the promise you made to yourself when you were born in this place!”

Owen bows his head in acquiescence and feels the sting of thousands of teeny barbs…. His hands fall off and lie twitching on the ground. His lungs gasp, his teeth rattle and his heart pounds so hard it jiggles open the door on the locked ribbed cage it lives in. Seizing its moment for freedom his coeur, his corazon jumps out of his chest into the sword ferns where it morphs into a dove who sits preening in the moonlight. “Have so many hours gone by?” and “Not a dove, it must be a band-tailed pigeon.” His rational self asserts itself for a moment. But not for long.

His penis begins to pulse and glow with a strange blue light as if electrified from within. Snakelike, it grows and grows until it passes the moon. It stretches even further until it enters VenusIsisAstarteAphroditeInanna who is sparkling voluptuously, high in the dawn of this magical place where time zigzags about as madly as his body parts. “Welcome home,” the Goddess of Love whispers happily. “It’s been ages.” She writhes and moans as he enters her labyrinth. Who knows how long they dally in delight, hearts open and connecting, until eventually millions of dancing beings spray forth from their orgasms, their energies scattering to fertilize new generations of seers and healers. Venus whoops and Owen roars in ecstasy. He is MarsJupiterScorpio Rising, gloriously alive. His legs goat-like and hoofed. His hairy chest and taut belly heaving with emotion. Mossy tendrils curl from his beard up around his face and hair. Violets cheer and lilies bow to his presence. A grouse rises up in a whirr of surprise then spins its spiral dance at his feet. Is that a wizard’s peaked cap on his head?

As he notices the hat, his energy begins to deepen and quiet. He stands tall and clear-eyed, feeling his roots in the earth while silvery energy lines curve between him and the people of his community. The ones he grew up with, the ones he’s called in. Yes, he has called them in with the help of this Tree and the Mountain. He knows that now…. His strength is in the marriage of moon and sun in this green place…. He must find the Council Fire…. and the Others….

…..He rises and starts down the hill towards town, but before he has taken more than a few steps, sleepiness blurs his sight and his intention slips beyond his conscious knowing.

He curls instead into the lap of the Grandmother Tree. His penis nestles sweetly limp on his leg like a tired child. Cooing, the dove that is also his heart pierces his chest and roosts in his left ventricle. His hands, inscribed with strange markings, inch over like worms and zip into the cuffs of the green leather shirt he now wears. His eyes are heavy with all that he has seen. Someone covers him with fern fronds and moss…. The Moon smiles from directly overhead. The Sitka whispers sweet dreams of deer nuzzling his cheeks. He sighs feeling safe again. While the Mountain….

The Mountain’s hummm becomes louder, vibrating Owen’s newly reconnected organs and body parts. He doesn’t hear it consciously himself, but his being absorbs the love and caring of the gigantic energy of this place. Somewhere deep inside he senses welcome and thanks for his work of the night and for the long years of his tenure here, as well as for his ever-growing consciousness. It isn’t entirely peaceful however. Those energetic prickers from the Devils Club are still working in his system. His body registers the spurs as if it is a horse and rider on an urgent mission. A centaur?

 

Down at the house June wakes slightly, noting the louder than usual hummmm, and turns over to dream again.

 

Cindy hears it too and wonders what is stirring. She is often aware of the Mountain’s gentle pulse though she’s never told anyone about it. Tonight it is crescendoing like it does when something big is afoot. There are almost words to it. “Wake to the call…. Sitka, Cedar and I, we need you awake…. River and Bay need you…. Raven and Eagle need you….”

Does that mean she should be doing something or is the message for another? Plural or singular “you?” She suspects with a feeling of dread that it is for all of them and that she needs to share the message. That is way too scary a thought….

 

Startled awake, Uri hears the hummm for the first time. Is it an engine starting up? A log truck downshifting on the highway? He glances at the clock. 2 am is an odd time for any of those possibilities and it is going on way too long. The Coast Guard rescue helicopter? The refrigerator? He can feel it deeply in his body now and as he settles into it he realizes the sound is coming from below him. From the earth itself. He tunes in another degree, calming his rational brain from its tentative explanations. Words begin to form in his mind. “Welcome Home…. What took you so long? Now get to work….”

“I’d better talk to someone about this. I wonder who.” He knows that Michael, snoring gently beside him, is not a good candidate for hearing about the weirder stuff. It is time to find some allies in this new place in order to bloom that side of himself. Finally connect with Ursula? He’s been putting that off. Or Cali…. Things they’d said at Harvest Fest had made his ears prick up….

 

Owen opened his eyes with the first bird chirps. Robins even this late in the season, and a flicker. A gentle rain was falling on his sleeping bag. He didn’t remember getting into it. He lay there still warm inside, feeling the glow of his connection with the tree. There had been more but he couldn’t quite recall…. A dream about…. Pan? Seems like he should take on some clients for shamanic journeying work. And maybe he’d collect the last of the rosehips and make some necklaces to sell at Bear Essentials. Was it time to make a Devils Club essence? It would surely strengthen his green self.… He felt strong and clear…. If only he could remember the wisps of the dreams teasing at the edges of his consciousness.

By the time Owen arrived back at Sitka House he was soaking wet and ready for a shower and some breakfast. He hoped that Cali or somebody had dropped off eggs. He needed the protein. As he stepped in the door, he was greeted by June at the kitchen table, sipping her tea from a delicate Limoges cup, her wispy white hair all a-tumble about her shoulders.

“I dreampt about you,” she said without preamble in her straightforward way.

“Did you now?”

“It was a Capital Letter dream. The kind that says, ‘Listen up!’ I saw you in a glade dressed all in different shades of the forest like an elderly Robin Hood, but with a strange blue light coming from your crotch. You morphed into a stag and winked at me before dashing off. It felt all merry-merry-in-the-greenwood. I followed you and found a maypole in another clearing with the ribbons woven and nobody around except for some ravens peering at me from the trees. I wondered if it was the ravens themselves who wove the ribbons or if it was some of us. Or us in raven form…. Oh and there were owls there too.”

“Did you take any meaning from the dream? It feels rather phallic for an old Lesbian like you.”

“Not for you though. What’s stirring there, Mister?”

“I did have a wild Journeying session last night up at the Grandmother Tree where I saw Pan and Devils Club in the underworld but I can’t remember what they told me except that they are linked somehow.”

“Pan. Robin Hood. Peter Pan. The green playful ones want you to join them more often. You need to be going deeper, Owen. The ravens want us to play with magic and owls call us both to see into the shadows – maybe even into death. The gates of Shamanic death anyway. And they want you to open your heart, to let the community have more access to you. No more hiding your gifts of connection and healing. I just remembered there were vines coming out of your hands, and runes. Sure signs of healing energy.”

Owen grunted, increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation. “I’ll do some journaling this morning to see if anything more comes up. If it stops raining by this afternoon I want to go back up and make an essence from the Devil’s Club root near the clearing while the moon is still full.”

June watched him leave the room, thinking there was something different about him. Some change had happened during his night in the woods that he wasn’t entirely aware of yet. He smelled intriguingly of magic and rue. Had he been dancing with the Goat Footed God himself? About time.