Winter Solstice Bear Ritual

Molly rushed to get to the Community Center in time to help with the set up of the Solstice ritual, a little late for her role of backup for Ursula. She had been talking to the paper buyer about the lousy recycle market situation. When she walked in the door, the room was already well into the process of being transformed. Owen and Jay were standing on tables hanging the dark fabric to divide the large room into two sections. She could see people in the kitchen setting up serving tables, Marsha Quince looking very much in charge. Someone had moved the Women’s Club Christmas tree under the East windows.

“We need one more piece of fabric to really partition it off,” said Ursula bustling up. “Did you bring any new stuff?”

“The Goddess must have been whispering to me,” said Molly. “A big green one came in today and I had a feeling it would come in handy. Let me just unload these muffins in the kitchen and I’ll dig it out. I brought the extra lights you asked for too.“

“Where do you guys want the lights?” asked Mariposa flitting up behind her.

“We talked about the inside of the bear’s den being dark, so string them up along this entrance area. People can leave their give-aways under the tree here. We moved it from the other corner to have the festive feeling out here and not in the cave. Come see it,” she said turning back to Molly. “Can you help Pia and I sort out how the altar inside should look? We have different ideas and are pretty irritated with each other. She’s always so sure she’s right and I’m too scattered to focus very well. I’m not even sure why she’s helping, the folks from the class need to learn this….”

“OK, how ‘bout if you ground first,” suggested Molly reaching out to give her a hug.

“Oh, yeah right! I guess I am sort of out of my body. I still tend to do that when there’s so much going on, don’t I? I feel a particular responsibility to Bear with this one and the students that are looking to me…. It’s all making me cranky. It’s too much….” Ursula was close to tears.

“BREATHE,” commanded Molly firmly looking Ursula in the eye, belly to belly. Then more gently, “Breathe.”

They stood quietly together for a minute amidst the bustle, going deeper with each breath and imagining their cords going down into the earth from their second chakras.

“Aahh. Much better,” they both said at once.

“I love how we can do that for each other,” said Ursula. “My cord was brown today, of course. What color was yours?”

“Silver with little sparkles in it. Like Christmas lights,” she smiled. “Would you like me to do the altar with Pia? Then you could go sit quietly with your Bear mask for a while to get ready for the anchoring.”

“Actually, I think I’ll walk down to the beach to watch the sun go down. That always seems an important part of Solstice to me. It’s like if I don’t watch it go down it might decide not to come back up.”

“Oooh, radical move, Ursula! Good letting go! I could learn this from you,” Molly admired the shift Ursula was making.

“Well, I know if I don’t go I will be no good at anchoring and mess up the energy all around…”

 

By the time Charley walked in, others were arriving too. The place was dimly lit and mysterious. He’d been held up at the Conservancy Trust working some bugs out of the mailing list. It was great to have so many people helping with ritual these days. He could sit out a few out prep-wise. In fact, two young women he didn’t even know greeted him quietly. Ursula’s new ritual class was already proving fruitful. The taller one took his plate of deviled eggs into the kitchen. The other smudged him with cedar and sage, brushing the fragrant smoke with what looked like Ursula’s hawk feathers.

As always, the smudge instantly calmed and grounded him into a trancelike state. He felt a little buzz of anticipation as Owen, recognizable behind an Eagle mask they’d made together in the Men’s Medicine Circle, pulled aside a gauzy curtain and gestured him into what felt like a dark cave. A couple of parachutes were draped low from the ceiling representing Air, while a small fire cast a glow from the fireplace in the South. He could dimly see chairs and pillows in a circle on the wooden floor, many with people already in them. Candles twinkled on an altar at the west end. He couldn’t see what else nestled there, probably shells and a dish of ocean water for the West. He had a flash of the year they’d done a ritual around Sedna, the Kwakiutl seal goddess who was especially meaningful to the surfer part of him, with a handmade kayak filled with Christmas lights in the center. Tonight the room smelled of the cedar branches that had been placed around the outside of the circle. Earth.

All the elements were there. He always liked to check. Not that any would be forgotten. Maybe it was more like “checking in.” Calling his personal circle. Soon their individual hearts would intertwine like a Celtic knot to bring Spirit, the fifth sacred thing, into the Center. Would they remember to make that explicit as they called in the directions? “Stop it,” he chided himself gently. “They’ll do just fine and all the old hands are here to hold the space and provide the deep energy.” Always there was something new to surprise them and neither the “audience” nor the “celebrants” ever knew quite how it would appear as the distinctions between them blurred.

He found one of the pillowed floor seats with a comfy back and realized he had settled in between Gideon Terranova and Michael. Finch Terranova was on the other side of his dad. It was so great to have more men involved these days, especially young ones. For a long time Owen and he had been the only ones – or the only consistent ones anyway. It quickly became obvious that Michael was kind of fidgety. Charley patted the knees on either side of him in silent greeting, leaving a calming hand on Michael’s for a heartbeat or two until he felt the younger man take a deep calming breath. Charley knew Michael was not very into what he called spiritual fol-de-rol but was present for Uri’s sake.

A dark shape suddenly loomed followed by others. The Ritual was about to begin. Draped and masked figures took their places, two in each of the Directions, while two more stood slightly to the left of the altar. The silence deepened. Another figure in a mask – a bear mask – appeared and sat on the floor on the right side of the altar. On the bearskin that he hadn’t noticed before. Gordy’s bearskin. Ursula…. He settled in another degree into a meditative place and breathing deeply himself, sent grounding energy to his wife as one more figure holding a candle came into the Center with arms outstretched.

 

 

Ursula sat silent and still by the altar. It was good she couldn’t leap up to coach or nudge her students as they made their way through calling in the directions and the elements. She’d insisted they get over the hump of wanting to read their parts. It was always tempting for those new to ritual to script things out. They wanted get it “right.” As if there was a “right.” For her the strong power came when it was done intuitively, when space was left for Spirit to inhabit, inspire and shape the words. Written out it stayed in the literary, planning part of the brain, not nearly as connected to the Creative Source. In her experience Spirit needed a lot of open space. That’s what the first clearing was about – to allow breath in so there was room for inspiration. In-spire. To Breathe. Fern had done a great job of grounding and centering the group. Soon Thea in tandem with Rhea would be telling something of Bear and the intention for the ritual. It was Ursula’s job simply to be, to anchor. She imagined the splash of leaving the boat and sent her claws down deep.

Firmly rooted, yet barely able to see out of the mask even if there had been enough light, she slipped into a dreamy state…. Soon she couldn’t remember what the intention was.… Could people could see her there in the mask?…. It didn’t matter…. She was holding the deep space…. leading them under…. welcoming them there. Being Bear. Her consciousness stretched as she put out her hand to the stuffed head of the real bearskin underneath her. She thanked this particular bear for the gift of its presence in their midst, and felt him in the Spirit world…. lumbering through the woods…. plucking a salmon out of the rushing stream…. Felt his pleasure at finding a stump full of bees…. his sleepiness as this deepest point of winter was reached, the longest night of the year…. Wanting to snuggle with his She-Bear, yet feeling that before relaxing there were some important messages to convey to these two-leggeds gathering here in this Spirit Cave…. Not from themselves necessarily… they were just setting the space…. Being the conduits…

“Is that what Bear does??” thought Ursula and with that thought tuned into the circle again. She should probably be listening while people around the circle spoke of their experiences, what they had dreamt, but somehow she knew that the deeper part of her was hearing them…. Had that been the intention? She didn’t need to take care of those dreams or figure out how to make them real…. They were being felt deep in Bear’s heart. All she needed to do was be Bear…. What do Spirit bears dream about? What will Bear ask of me this night? Or of us all?

 

Molly was enjoying being gathered up in sacred space. To her the feeling was almost tangible – a soft mossy bubble wrap that enveloped them all. She was glad her informal part of grounding Ursula was over early and she had plenty of time to sink into the familiar glow. She had thought about her health issue for a second in the beginning and then successfully pushed it out of her mind. “Let Bear’s healing energy take care of things tonight.” Now the talking stick was being passed around and people were sharing their experiences from the visualization.

Tuning in she realized the person speaking now had a familiar ring that slowly formed an image in her mind…. Ariel.

“…. As Uriel’s voice led us into the forest, I found myself imagining being at the base of a giant Sitka. I could feel hemlock and cedar nearby. A circle of Old Ones told me they are exhausted and need some respite from the caretaking of this place. They were grumpy and frail. They said we’ve put ugly structures on most of their sacred spots and only a few of their tree friends are still standing. They told me I must be part of the change – part of opening the door – part of taking over as a Guardian of the Mountain and this place….”

Her voice trailed off in uncertainty and there was an almost audible hum as everyone absorbed this news.

“I received a similar message.” The voice was Owen’s and Molly’s heart warmed. “I was inside a cave in the Mountain – really, under the Mountain. I couldn’t actually see anybody but I felt a huge, impatient presence. They told me they’ve been watching…. that we are doing a good job stewarding places with the Conservancy Trust…. some of us as individuals as well….” Owen hesitated, trying to speak what had probably not come to him exactly in words. “There is no time to lose, we must find the… meanders…. the paths…. get through the blackberry bushes…. We must see… recognize…. the Old Ones and let them go…. They want to be thanked…. We must step up to the…. the plate…. the table….”

A young man spoke simply after a space of a few heartbeats. “It was all like a dream. I saw myself walking tall and moving forward with my work at the day care center. There are children there who need to be nurtured and taught about Bear and the Mountain and the Old Ones…. This will heal them…. I can do that.”

“I am to study herbs,” said a young voice. Flicker maybe? “There are people here to teach me.”

“The community is ready for what I know…” said Jasmine Terranova.

After each there was the silence of witness. The “how” conversation would come later after the circle was closed and they shared food and chose gifts from the unwrapped offerings under the tree, emerging again into the sparkle of the Holiday season or perhaps even later as things rounded into the New Year.

 

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.

Ursula Struggles

Ursula walked north up the beach. The sky was heavy and foreboding. Like her heart. The Mountain was shrouded in mist. Like her brain. She kicked the sand with her toes as she walked. Fiercely one moment. In discouragement the next, anger and frustration competing for attention.

The worst thing was that she couldn’t even figure out what was feeling so very off. She dragged along oblivious to the sand dollars on the beach and the lovely rills the outgoing tide had left.

Sex was better these days since she had put a little pressure on herself and Charley to take time together to really connect. They still had a ways to go to recapture their youthful passion. No, that wasn’t the right way to put it. They would never regain that level of hormonal drive or innocence. They were parents of grown children, grandparents even. The imperatives were different. They had busier lives than ever…. Were full schedules still the problem? It was so sweet when they did connect…. Yet, there was this feeling they could be going deeper….

The teaching was going well. The group seemed to like what she had to say and they were having lively conversations. The mix of personalities was good. Sometimes she wished she were structuring the class a little more openly. More people coming in to speak…. She had thought that Owen would chime in more but he was still staying in the back seat. Like he had her back, but…. Maybe this is what happens when one comes forward formally as a teacher. Was this what she was meant to be learning as much as the putting together of the content? For it was easier – a luxury actually – to be in charge rather than cope with the challenges of always co-creating with her pals…. It was a good experiment and was helping her hone her thoughts…. Maybe the lessons would translate into words at some point. A book.

HUSH! No planning ahead just now!” The words came like an imperative from deep inside her…. Usually she brushed the injunctions aside with thoughts along the order of “I know I shouldn’t do this right now but….” It was hard to resist the joy and juice of a creative rush of ideas….

Okay. Deep breath.

Ritual work was going well too. She’d enjoyed the powerful surge during the Demeter-Persephone ritual and telling the Durga story on Samhain had felt so right. What was her part of the Durga rebirth? What else did she or should she have a hand in?

Not a good question right now. Irrelevant,” came again from her inner self. “You’ll know.”

Another deep breath. “Where am I? What is this NOW? Cold sand in my toes. Shoes waiting patiently by the path.” A lovely wet rock that wanted to be in her pocket. Her neck wanted her scarf to be wound a little more snugly…..

Everyone thought she had it so together. That she wasn’t afraid of anything. And she wasn’t – except when she was terrified. Was that what she was modeling? That it was possible to be looked up to and still be scared? Ugh. “Gag me with a spoon.” She kicked the sand again.

Giving herself to her community. Buya! Bloody Bully for her! What about the times when she did things she didn’t really want to do? Go through Molly and Charley’s proposal, for instance…. She’d done it cause she knew she had a bunch to say if she could wrap her brain around it. Her experience was valuable – not to be thrown away. And she had been soooo glad they were doing it and not her, but it had felt important to contribute in some way. Especially since it was happening under her nose, in her own house. In her own bed with the dreamer that was Charley right next to her….

Plus she kept having the feeling that she should connect with the Terranovas to further the ReTreat idea a bit. She really liked their energy…. She had a feeling they had something to teach her. She wondered if Pia would follow up on that. Does Pia feel guilty for not going forward with it? Again, no need to think right now about where that was all going….

Manifesting what she needed. She’d gotten gracefully out of the active organizational work…. Taking on the teaching had been a big step – she touched for a minute back into the working out of that role earlier in the fall. That it was okay to do it and declare herself such…. It was hard to have people look up to her when there were so many other competent people around. And she was glad she had straightened out that thing about being a shaman. She so wasn’t one. Uri, now…. He had a lot to teach them on that score.

She knew there was something big in the way…. something that was smothering her today. Welling up strongly. Not making her sick, except at heart….

Doing readings for everyone else…. Not giving advice exactly and certainly not predicting the future…. But still being someone that folks with troubles could turn to. It wasn’t a bad thing certainly. As an elder…. How would being a crone help her? Was it time to declare herself such? She’d rather been avoiding it, not really comfortable being an OLD WOMAN. She knew she would still be beautiful and sexy even…. And she did like her wrinkles and increasing gray hairs…. What was in her way?

Was it HOW she was doing it? All this planning and manifesting and visioning…. It needed to be done…. Or did it?…. It was fun…. Was it taking a toll? Was there something wrong with the spirit with which she was doing it? Something that was draining her energy? Yet it was hard, VERY hard to imagine being any other way…. Does it have to do more with play? What would that look like??

A cluster of ravens and crows were picking at a seal carcass – maybe she needed to let them pick at her. That would be a shamanic experience…. Maybe she needed to have a session with June…..

Slowly her senses came back. She noticed that the fall wave surges had covered the large rock outcropping that was a seasonal friend to them all. She always wondered where the starfish – “I mean sea stars” – went when the sands washed in…. What was buried in her and wanting to come out?

No time like the present. If she turned right instead of left when she came out at the road, she would be at June’s door in a jiffy. If June was busy or not there, she could leave a note. If she was there….

 

 

“Help!” Ursula wailed to the white haired wizened little beauty who came to the green doorway with its arching trellis still showing a few tiny late roses. “I need guidance. No! I need my body to be taken apart.”

“You‘ve come to the right place, Girl!” grinned June. “I’m so glad you’re here. I just had a cancellation so your timing is perfect. Of course.”

“I need to be doing this for myself.”

“Of course you do. Chiron is in an interesting dance with Uranus these days – so Wounded Healer and wacky Heyoka Revolutionary are messing with us. About time you reached out beyond your own resources and came out of your woods for help. Haven’t seen you in here for a quite a while. I’m so happy I can be of service.”

In her urgency, Ursula brushed past June into the beautiful space. She plunked herself down in front of the biggest tray built into the floor in front of the wood stove and deposited her rock from the beach into the center of the fine black sand from some foreign shore. June stood watching with her arms akimbo, knowing better than to say a word to this seasoned supplicant as Ursula breathed deeply and looked around her at the thousands of figures waiting patiently on the shelves for someone to need them.

Her eyes first lit on a little ceramic candelabra with its three blue birthday candles. It was Mexican with bright flowers and three teeny birds on it. Next she picked out a black mother goddess figure – full boobed and solid – and set it in the center between the beach rock and the candles, placing several plastic children and needy looking folks around her. It was telling that the choosing of these figures made Ursula tired again. It was the worst of her sense of her role – the giving of herself for others.

A shaman priestess went into the tray for the part of her that could go deep. Either solo or in a group. Then a Native American medicine man crowned in eagle feathers, his hands held aloft in supplication, smaller plumes along his sleeves. There should be spirits and guides around them…. Polar bear and brown bear because she couldn’t decide between them. Heck LOTS of bears – a Zuni Bear. A…. She hesitated as she was choosing yet another bear. This was known territory. She didn’t need every bear on the shelf. Or Jaguar or Raven or….. But a crystal – a blue sparkly crystal egg…. And fairy maybe…. She turned toward the shelf loaded with them and chose an enticing blue fae pointing the way. But she was so young and pretty – ageless. Fairies were ageless weren’t they? Immortal in all the stories. Or morphing back and forth.

Maybe she needed the stooped and hooded crone in the scene. The older version of the fairy perhaps…. in the direction that the fairy was pointing. She sat back on her heels, simply being with the scene until she felt a call to put a gateway of some kind between the two. An arch and some Greek pillars would serve. Perhaps a chair next to the crone. A chair for herself…. A throne??

June watched silently, seated now in her well-worn armchair, while Ursula created the scene. She would have voiced more encouragement with most clients and maybe asked a few questions, but Ursula was an old hand at this.

Next Ursula selected an ordinary looking persona – a woman with a businesslike orange jacket and slacks. She had a briefcase in one hand and the other hand on her hip. No stopwatch like the Alice in Wonderland “I’m late. I’m late” rabbit, but she might as well have. Ursula had already decided against that rabbit – she’d banished him a couple of years ago and was damned if he’d come back in her tray this time! She glared at him before she moved on.

It was cool that this business-like figure had articulated legs like the dolls her daughters played with so she could be made to walk, visiting each of the groupings in the tray…. Leaving footprints like the astronauts on the moon…. And maybe even sit in the chair. She took the figure firmly in hand and placed her in front of and just outside the tray. Then grabbed a lei and placed it around her neck to lighten her up a bit.  She’d have put a goofy hat on her if she could have found one….

“OK, June, I’m ready to talk now.” June nodded with a grin and silently handed the younger woman a box of matches. With a bow of thanks, Ursula sat down on the floor and after a moment’s prayer, lit the candles. She could almost hear the birds on it start singing as she did so.

Taking up the orange jacketed woman again she began to speak, “This is ME – Me in my most busy guise even though I’ve never carried a briefcase in my life,” she assured June. She walked the figure over to the circle with shamans and spirit guides. “’Take me apart,’ she says. ‘Scatter my bones…. I know they’ll come back together when you’re through.’” Ursula prostrated the figure in front of the circle. “I surrender all that I know. All that I think I know.”

Next she turned the plastic woman towards goddess figure. “Here is where I have my roots – my foundation. Where I come from. Who I most honor and represent. Gaia. Mother Earth with all her solidity and her beauty – even in her present travail. Even in my present travail. She’s so THERE. Waiting always for me to tune in. But today all these everyday people are in the way of my connection with her…..“

“Do they need to be?” asked June.

“Noooo, I guess they don’t. They’ve been my job. Maybe for lifetimes! But I’m reaching for something else right now…. Hey!“ she said as she knocked them over with her hand. “I’m going to stick all these people into the sand. They’re part of my bones – my very structure. They are exactly what I must let come apart. It’s not that they’re not there. But they aren’t the point at the moment, are they? They are outside of ME.” Ursula turned them upside down. “Now they’re a bunch of figures with their heads in the sand…. That’s not quite the right metaphor. They’re not like ostriches but they weren’t my responsibility…. Maybe they really need to be buried all the way….. “

“Bravo,” said June. “You’re making my job very easy today.“

“They don’t need a voice or a teacher or anything right now. Whatever they need they can find for themselves from ALL of us. Including whatever new energy is wanting to come in that can’t if I’m in a controlling place…. Or cause I can’t imagine it…. That gives me confirmation shivers….”

Ursula reached out and put the “me” figure in front of the fairy. “I’ve always loved her. She’s light and sweet yet has such power. Not heavy or ominous. Fairy queens don’t age do they? We do. But they don’t….” Suddenly she broke down. ”Is there a way to have both??” she wailed.

June handed her the Kleenex box as tears rolled down her cheeks and her nose began to run. “Charley and I are just beginning to heat up the sex again. I really don’t want to get old and lose that.”

“Being old does not mean losing sex, believe me!” said June.

“….. Maybe I am ready for my croning. June….”

“Are you now? We would be honored to have you in our Crone’s Circle. It’s a big step, you know. A process. Literally a ‘crowning.’”

“I know. It’s my 60th birthday next summer. I have a feeling that declaring myself a Crone would solidify something for me – help me make a gateway like that one there….” She pointed to the sand tray in front of her.

“We can talk about the process later.”

“I suspect the details will emerge.… She’s all of these personas isn’t she?” Ursula picked up the woman’s figure she’d been moving around and set her in the chair.

“I’d say so.”

Suddenly Ursula leapt up and grabbled a lioness that caught her eye across the room. It gave her a warm feeling in her midriff – like it was meant to be. Her solar plexus glowed – the place of the Lion. Lioness. She put it down next to the little chair. “It’s like the tarot Strength card, isn’t it, June.”

“Yes, and like your Leo Rising, my dear.”

“Oh. My. God…. Goddess….” she amended. “It is. I. Just. Have. To. Show. Up. That’s what Leo does. How could I have forgotten? Or been so afraid?”

They both sat quietly for a several breaths. The ticking of the clock made itself known. Ursula’s stomach growled and she giggled.

“I still need the village though, June.”

“Do you?” The therapist spoke non-committally.

“Yup,” the younger woman said firmly, reaching out to uncover the figures she’d buried a just a bit ago. “Sorry, guys. It’s not that I don’t love you and our connections. And I do want to teach and heal. It’s just that I needed you out of the way for a bit. So I could see straight. You are my beloved tribe. Staying linked to you is an imperative for the future. But I need to shift my perspective just a bit. Put on a new pair of glasses. Not dark glasses to hide behind yet not rose colored ones either. Kind of seeing-through-the veil-glasses…. so I can access the new guides that await me. As a crone. You’ll all show up too, right?”

 

“Hey where were you this afternoon?” hollered Charley down the stairs when she opened their front door. “The Terranovas came by!”

“Oh. My. Gosh.” Ursula stood there with her mouth open and then began to laugh. “That is sooooo hysterical. And so perfect.” She told him about her day. “I obviously wasn’t meant to meet with them. What did they have to say?”

“It’s pretty damned exciting, actually. They are definitely interested in setting up the ReTreat business. And….” Charley paused for dramatic effect, making Ursula really listen up. “They seem to have plenty of money. They might even be interested in buying into my retreat place idea here on the circle. The land above and the house down the hill we just noticed is for sale.”

“Oh Charley. Really? And we wouldn’t have to do it?”

“I’m not sure how much I would need to be involved. Or if it would be profit or non-profit or how it would be structured or or or. But we could use our Aerie as a sleeping place rental and….”

“And the Womb…. “

“And you could teach as much as you want.”

“And others can be brought in.”

“And people will get hired and….”

“Will I have a place to be peaceful?” Ursula asked a little plaintively as she saw her craving for increasingly less active involvement crumbling….

“We can protect ourselves – you especially – in all sorts of ways. These seem like very capable people.  And it looks like they have enough money from to start it off right… and….”

“Abundance,” she breathed.

Abundance,” he agreed.