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.

Pia Morning 1

Pia sat playing solitaire and feeling rather dull. Ace of Diamonds. Jack of Clubs. Why was it that she liked the clubs least of all? What did that say about her? Queen of Hearts. Now there was a sweet one. But where was the Jack of Hearts that needed to go on top? If it was buried she was done for.

As her fingers and mind played with the silly combinations and coped with the frustration of starting over and over, she was also idling like a car engine waiting at a train crossing for the arrival of someone – or something – so she could move on.

There were a lot of things she could be doing today. She could go over to the Zimmer’s and talk with them about beginning to connect into the hospice situation with their grandmother who had just been moved into their “granny flat.” They’d advertised recently for caregivers. She could write the article she’d promised Cali for the next issue of Squawk! She could at least decide the subject of the article. She could search out Raven in his studio garage at the bottom of the hill and have a talk about whether or not to do the retreat workshop coordinating business they’d been fantasizing setting into place….

King of Diamonds needs the Queen…. which is buried under the six of spades. Yes! There is the Seven of Spades free to give the six its spot…. If I can just find a place for the Three of Diamonds….

She’d told Charley and Ursula the other night that she was ready to search out the first speakers for the long dreamed of workshop series and ReTreat business. But she had not been speaking the whole truth. She knew how to make the initiatory calls. Among them all they had enough contacts to get a good line up for the first several at least. She knew how to do the PR and where to find a place and…. and…. She even knew the steps to take to launch the larger effort that they could pitch to potential funders as “economic development” and which she thought of as “local brewing.” But she hadn’t been able to get herself to make the calls. She wasn’t really sure she wanted to do it at all….

She could text Ursula right now and ask for a tarot reading. That might help her get over this hump or at least give a clue what the resistance was. She could climb the Mountain and see if some inspiration came to her on the hike…. “That’s a good idea,” she told herself heartily. “Maybe aerobic exercise will get me out of these doldrums.”

She’d been a busy girl most of her life – doing the good things that made it possible to have the good life and community she now enjoyed. This stalled feeling was a strange one for her who had always known the next steps. They had been so obvious. Pregnant and alone? Seek out a group of women to connect with for support. Want a home birth? Start a network to support the midwife she had just met. Have a child who needs friends? Round up the homebirth families for a preschool playgroup. Then a school. And who better than her to be the school secretary? It meant she was able to be near Arlo but not often in the classroom…. growing the crop of children that would carry out the next steps of the dream….

Her own Jack of Hearts did come along. Raven had swooped in with a passionate embrace of all that the community and its environs meant to her. He understood immediately the wider picture of what the bunch of them were up to. Plus he had been a perfect substitute father as Arlo entered his teen years and could benefit from the mentorship Raven offered. There had been some rough patches as the two guys learned to share her but the delicate balance of a triangle had been achieved with relative grace and Arlo had bloomed into a beautiful man.

She’d left the school office to Cindy a few years ago, wanting to try out her wings in some new endeavors. Raven’s success as a “trash” artist, combined with odd jobs and teaching art at the community college had meant a little freedom for her from the press of wage earning. She – and then they – had always needed very little to live on. When it became obvious that the house she’d lived in for years would be sold when the elderly owners died, she and Raven had set about organizing the Housing Trust to create the cooperative neighborhood of their dreams. Elk Ridge achieved, she had a little income as coordinator of the development and now as nominal manager. But…. she was restless again.

A cup of coffee would perk her up and give her the energy to do whatever it was she decided on for this day at least. She could even walk down to the restaurant and have a latte if she wanted. Not even a skinny soy one. The possibility of that treat gave her comfort and allowed her to muddle a bit more.

She kept getting the feeling that she shouldn’t be doing admin stuff any more. She envied Ursula for having created a nice new niche that seemed to involve less organizational shit. Plus Charley had the Cedar ReSource Project going and had some income. She and Raven didn’t need much but she ought to be contributing her share….

Could the astrology thing be formalized a little more and become a money source? She didn’t know enough to get professional on that score…. She couldn’t even figure out what was going on astrologically with her own self right now and couldn’t afford the training she would need to do it right. In fact, she generally wasn’t inclined to get more training in anything specific. “Making it up” as she went along had always been her modus more than going to school.

It bothered her that she and Raven had publically insinuated that they were actually going to do the ReTreat business (or whatever it was going to be called). Would it be a terrible copping out to just not do it? She didn’t like to be seen as flaking out on something she “signed up” for. Of course, who, but herself, was making her do it? “Surely you have enough of a track record of accomplishing what you’ve set out to do,” she chided herself. “Nobody will think lesser of you. They’ll be disappointed. This is something we’ve all visualized. Is it up to you to make it happen?” She didn’t think Raven would care. He was counting on her to do the organizational part of it anyway. Maybe there was someone else they could help get going on it….

What if this was like her aborted vision quest back when Arlo and crew were doing them as part of finishing high school. Someone had to model coming down before the end. It had gotten cold and rainy. Late March was a dumb ass time for a solo in the woods with only a tarp for protection. Nevertheless, it had been hard for her to sensibly give up and walk down off the Mountain without even a single night alone….

Round and round her thoughts went. Maybe she should climb the Mountain – visit the Shrine – see if there was any guidance to be had up there.

But as she was putting on her faded purple sweatshirt (Nekelew High Class of 2000) and scarlet tennies, another thought occurred to her. It had been a long time since she’d been to the River. If she went through the State Park she could walk around where the River neared the ocean and visit the Bay Shrine. The mate to the one on the Mountain. With this thought a heron flew over heading towards the estuary. Long legs sticking out, it gave a single throaty honk of greeting which seemed to confirm the notion that her watery side needed addressing rather than the earth and fire of the mountain. Checking her watch, she grinned to see 11:11. It was always a good sign when the numbers were the same or lined up in a sequence, but all ones was an especially significant omen.

Cali & Ariel Climb the Mountain

Caliente and Ariel were renewing their childhood friendship by climbing the Mountain on a cloudy day in early October. Black shaggy Lummox pranced before them as they made their way up the well-worn trail.

When they reached the saddle of the Mountain, Cali headed off the main path along a lightly trampled way covered with miner’s lettuce and a little plant she’d never managed to identify. After a minute she slowed and, pointing silently, knelt at the base of a large Sitka Spruce. Digging with her hands, she exposed the top of a good-sized rounded rock. “This is a shrine that Owen and my mom got a bunch of us to carry up here when I was a teenager. The rock is from the beach and connects energetically to a mountain rock we carried down to the bay.” She dug further.

“Here’s the Fibonacci spiral that Raven carved on the front.” Her fingers lovingly traced the spiraling pattern. “We carried this fucking thing up here in a canvas cradle. Taking turns, it still took us two evenings. My brothers powered it up the last bit.”

Ariel was awestruck, imagining the effort of getting the rock to this spot and her good fortune in connecting back with these people who would undertake to do such a thing. She was almost afraid to ask about their intention for fear it would be some disappointingly prosaic reason. The answer when it came was deeply satisfying.

“There was a battle over the placement of a cell tower up here contrary to provisions in the park’s master plan about no further intrusions of electronic equipment. Although a number of us consider this a sacred mountain and we know the native people did as well, we had no legal standing ourselves to enforce its protection. So Owen’s idea was that if we put a shrine up here it would begin to establish that standing.”

“Did the tower happen?”

“Yes, we were unable to stop it.” She paused for a minute remembering the whole process and then grinned. “I gotta say it’s nice to have the cell phone reception.”

Ariel grinned back understanding the ironies. “What did you mean about connecting with the Bay?”

“The Bay Shrine is also in the State Park. Owen and Raven got the rock from the place on the back road up here where they dump the landslide fall from the highway. Mom says that when the two rocks were in place she could feel the zing of a field establish itself between them. Would it be an electrical field or a magnetic field?” Cali mused. “Who knows, but a lot of good things have happened since, more or less between the two rocks – ReBound, the Conservancy Farm, Elk Ridge. Cain’t say for sure they came out of this act but it’s fun to think maybe they did. At any rate, it’s all part of the cool things that have been happening in the twenty years you’ve been gone. And every year in May, around Mother’s Day, a small groups visit both shrines and rededicates them, ending with a picnic at the Bay. I haven’t done it in the last couple of years but my folks almost always go.”

“It really does feel like a remarkable place, both here at the shrine and the community as whole,” said Ariel. “I’ve wanted to come back ever since my parents split. But now I’m realizing that there were reasons to come home besides just the ocean and you guys.”

“Let’s go on up towards the Pinnacle. It’s cool to see the place laid out from there.”

They stood and brushing off their bottoms, set out along the trail that curved around the north side of the Mountain. Lummox raced up from his woodsy snuffling adventures when he saw they were headed onward.

“Didn’t you used to be able to see north up the coast from here?” asked Ariel.

“Yes, when we were little this side was newly clear-cut. But trees do grow and these are now blocking the view. Can’t really complain. I do miss seeing further in this direction but the wind doesn’t whip so much through here anymore.” She shrugged.

After fifteen minutes the trail angled up again towards the ridge and it wasn’t long before they reached the last bit. Rather than a path it was a jumble of sharp toaster-sized rocks heading steeply up. The drop off on either side was precipitous and there was little to grab onto for balance except prickly wild rose bushes. The big shaggy dog bounding between them didn’t help. Cali’s legs were rather shaky and she kept having to stop and catch her breath as she crawled up. What with the baby and all, she hadn’t climbed the Mountain in a while, especially this far. The thought of Menolly made her breasts tingle. She shouldn’t hang out up here for too long.

They clambered up the last bit, and Ariel, who had not been breathing hard at all from the scramble, gasped breathlessly at the panoramic view, South, West and East.

“I’d forgotten!” she whispered.

Laid out below them were the sparkling ocean, river, bay and mountains. There was much evidence of human presence, of course, but it was exciting rather than depressing. They could see the Illahee School playing field with its building tucked mostly into the woods. ReBound was a scar in the dunes but it generated a feeling of accomplishment and hope. The clearcuts and housing developments were less easily forgiven but Cali pointed out the Elder Home now ensconced in one of the former fancy McMansions, as well as the abodes of various people she knew. Her folks’ house was hidden but the very corner of Benden Farm was visible. Cali’s body thrummed again at the thought of her baby down there.

Looking over at her, Ariel snapped a photo on her phone of Cali sitting on the rocks, the magnificent lay of the land in front of her. “Chica…. so many cool things down there that you guys have accomplished….” She hesitated, “But….  do you ever feel a little spooky up here?”

Cali looked at her in surprise. “No. Although sometimes I worry that the dogs will fall off. Mostly I feel power. I feel satisfaction at all that is happening down below. I feel the beauty and ancientness of the mountain. But spooky?”

“Right now I feel like someone is watching over my shoulder – like there is a BIG presence here that doesn’t really want me to be here. It’s almost growling at me. How weird is that?”

“Seriously? Maybe since I’ve lived here all along, I am tuned to the Mountain’s energy…. but I don’t sense that at all.”

“It’s like needing to make friends with a growling protective dog. Like I have to pass muster somehow…. At least I hope it’s a test and not a warning because the longer I’m here the more I want to stay here. In fact, I’d almost say I was meant to be here, that I was called here. Does that make any sense?”

“Yes, it does. Many people feel called here. I was born on the Mountain so I haven’t experienced that feeling either. If there was a call for me it was before I was conceived.”

“I was born here too so the call for me has been to return to my homies.”

With that, a wild high-pitched screeeech drew their attention. Spiraling up towards them were two bald eagles. The young women watched reverently as the huge birds, white heads and tails evident, swooped up past them before peeling off to head west out towards the ocean.

“Wow! It is indeed a powerful place.”

“There’s your confirmation,” said Cali with tears in her eyes. “My brothers used to mischievously call them B52’s. The eagles are welcoming you. I’d say you need to make a conscious connection – make friends almost – with the presence in the Mountain. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I’m guessing it will unfold and you will know.”

“It seems to me since there were two eagles that they are welcoming both of us,” said Ariel. “Or rather saying they’re stoked we’re here and conscious and that we have work to do together.”

“Maybe the eagles were reassuring the Mountain or at least the scary presence you were sensing.”

“That rocks my world! Guess we’d better head back down and get to it,” laughed Ariel. “I wonder what will happen next? Wish I’d gotten a photo of those eagles!”

“We were too amazed to even think of it, weren’t we? Come, Lummox.”

 

The Mountain, of course, appreciated the attentive visit of the two young women, as well as the continued energy shown by them and others to the Shrine, the Peak and the details along the way. “I have special fondness for those born here. They made a choice to come from the get go. Yet, so many of them are wandering now, riding the ripples outward…. Of course, I have an equal fondness for those heeding the call to appear here now for the first time. How challenging it is to come even though they don’t realize they are actually remembering their intentions from the Council Fire to help make the changes here. Guess I should be thanking you, Sister Spider and Sister Coyote….”

“You’re welcome.” Abuela Coyote appeared on the Pinnacle. “All these two legged humans with their blasted free will clause are so tricky to work with. Their twentieth century acculturation has drummed out of them their most basic connections with Earth and Sky, not to mention the likes of us. It’s a delicate business to call them awake. But it’s gotta happen. You’re usually more patient than I am, what’s up?”

“Oh, change is in the air, don’t you think? The fiery one today – she’s aware of the possibilities and is working hard to make alternatives realities. Even spawning new ones to carry on after her.”

“Her attunement to you is muted though. She is so used to your presence. That’s the disadvantage of having been born here. What will it take to really wake her up?”

“That airy angel one, now, is a special case. It doesn’t pay to get too fond of her who has been gone so long, hence my grumble that spooked her. I never quite dare to believe the statements any of them make about intending to stay here but especially the young pups. There’s so much to lure them away.”

Coyote Woman made a sympathetic noise. She knew what it was like to care so much.

“Yet so much is at stake,” continued the Mountain. “So much wanting to happen. I sometimes feel desperately lonely. The tribal Old Ones are silent, mourning their losses. They still hold the space, but barely. We very much need the living ones to wake up.”

“Breathe,” said Coyote sagely. “Just breathe.” The Mountain inhaled deeply and a puff of cloud appeared like a cap at its crown.

Far down at its feet a few sensitive souls felt a subtle shiver in their bones. Ursula looked up from her berry picking and saluted the peak barely visible above and through the trees. Owen cocked his ear as he dug for potatoes in the garden, noticing sweet birdsong all around him. Baby Menolly sighed in her sleep and dreamed of a warm hand patting her bottom in a welcoming sort of way. Carlos, trimming in the orchard, looked forward to the new spring growth a whole season away.