Through the Veil

Yikes. Why do these humans go on and on about what they’ve accomplished and what they still need to do? They are such workaholics,” complained a sparkling blue spirit to the circle.

“It does seem like they work too hard. They’re always dashing off with new ideas before they tie up the loose ends of the current ones.”

“They know time is running out. There’s a lot to get done before…..”

“Before what?” 

“The shift of the Ages – you know, Pisces into Aquarius,” said Chronos who was in charge of such things.

“I guess I’ve lost track of time. It’s just that they rush about so. It’s exhausting to observe. And you can’t tell me that it’s good for Molly to be letting herself get so tired. It’s one way to let her protection down which makes it easier for us to reach her, but she’s running that engine on empty and not cleaning the oil either,” said a large hunk of basalt who was a little vague about technical terminology.

The Veil is Thinning

“I think Coyote is cooking up something for her…. A bit of a hurdle…”

“And you agreed to it?”

“Well, she hasn’t been listening to the gentle hints…. So I’m afraid she has a slightly bigger hole to dig herself out of now. She can do it.”

“We are moving into Scorpio, you know,” offered Kali Ma rubbing some of her hands with a wicked grin. ” It’s an appropriate time to do some Spiritual butt-kicking,”

“Ah, She-Who-Knows-When-to-Cut-and-When-to-Comfort, this is the special time for you, isn’t it?”

“Hee hee!” croaked Raven. “Maybe this is the year they all morph into true magicians.”

“Awake magicians.”

“It is awfully frustrating watching them flounder about!complained a merman. “You’d think all our archetypal stories would help them get it….”

Tell me about it. It was bad enough while they were growing and moving into place, but now that they are soooo close I am about to burst.”

Sometimes I feel like sending a bolt of lightening down to put Owen out of his misery,” agreed a shimmery plant shape.Or maybe Sitka would be willing to fall on his head. Owen connected well with Devil’s Club here and he has more than an inkling of what Owl means to him.” The two spirits mentioned took a bow. “He even followed when I became the Hummingbird in his Journey. But now he remembers almost nothing of that and I’m at a loss as to what to do next. His true mate is right in front of his eyes and he is blind. Blind!

I’ve gotten Thea able to paint the ideas I direct and the other day she heard the suggestion they’d all been called to Mahonia for a reason, but then she clammed up. She hasn’t told anyone about it.”

She’s doing the Work though, you have to admit. She went to Owen for a Soul Retrieval and has made great progress having her little girl back who may actually get her starting to play.”

We’re really learning the meaning of patience now that we have so much more at stake. It was one thing to watch everyone else fumble around but now it’s aspects of ourselves that are trying to get it.”

Halloween is coming up. The veil will be thin again. How do we want to use that opportunity?”

It might be a good time to reach them through their hearts – let’s round up a few of their available dear departed…”

“Oooh, good idea, Osiris.”

“And it does sound like Ursula is doing her class. FINALLY. We can prod a few of the young people into taking it. What about that Ariel now? You gotta admit she’s blossoming…..”

First Class

“Now that we’ve grounded and called the directions, we have made ourselves ready for our work,” said Ursula to the seven women and five men who sat on backjacks in a circle on her living room floor. In the center was a simple altar of four candles and a central figure of a small blue ceramic bear and some newly fallen alder leaves. “Thanks, Owen Logan for being here tonight to help me anchor the space.”

“I’m thinking I might want to teach this someday so I thought I’d tag along with my mentor here.” Owen grinned at Ursula.

“Mentor, ha! Don’t let him fool you. This one goes deep. He knows a lot and we have grown with it together. Why don’t the rest of you start introducing yourselves and say a little about why you are here.”

“I’m Rhea. I live at Benden Farm where I listen to Cali and everyone talk about all this. I figured it was time for me to dig a little deeper.”

“I’m Mariposa. I’m an intern for the PSU program so I really don’t know any of you or much about this? But I think it might be why I came to this community? Like, I thought I was coming for the sustainability stuff, you know? Saving the earth and permaculture and recycling? That’s important and I really love helping to make changes happen here? But the mystical side seems to underlie a lot of this for you guys,” She nodded at Ursula and Owen and shedding the question marks in her syntax, said firmly, “so I want to know more.”

“The spiritual is indeed a foundation for what we do, though it is rather a chicken-and-egg thing. Can any of us really say which came first? The practical is so intertwined with the Spirit level,” said Ursula. “When I look around this circle I can guess that some of you come out of your experiences in the everyday and some have touched into psychic, dreaming or other realms that may lead to some different involvements in the so-called ‘real’ world. Remind me to bring those connections to light as we talk in the coming weeks. Thea?”

“I am new here too and I fall into that latter category,” responded the sole black person in the room. “It was in answering a call to know myself more deeply, that I fell in love with the Goddess a few years ago and was led to a new style of painting. Since moving down here I’m learning about the earthy, woodsy aspects of all this. Oh and community. I’m the opposite of where you’re coming from, Mariposa. I’m not very P.C. when it comes to technology and giving stuff up, but my psychic perceptions are blooming. It’s almost scary. Plus ever since the women’s Demeter-Persephone Ritual I can’t seem to get enough of ritual in my life.”

“You’ll give us another sort of balance, especially as you come to this from deep within and through a lot of trial and error in your life. June said she’d be willing to come for a couple of sessions to teach us about the psychic pieces to it all.” Ursula turned to the next person in the circle.

“My name is Uriel and I’m a newbie to the community as well, though not to the magical. I play didge and I have a healing touch and I want to go deeper. My partner is Michael DeAngeli who runs the PSU Sustainability adjunct campus here.” There was a chorus of “ooohs” and smiles from most of the group either because they knew Michael or the program.

“Uri is trained in natural healing techniques. Can you tell us a little more about that?”

“I don’t actually have much formal training. I’m not a naturopath so I don’t know a lot about supplements and herbal remedies. Probably not nearly as much as Owen here. And I’m not a chiropractor so I don’t do spinal adjustments and I’m not a massage therapist so I can’t legally work on a naked body. I’m not even a certified Reiki practitioner, but I do general energy stuff that I’ve picked up along the way from various teachers and workshops….” He paused to gather his words. “I feel like I need to put what I know into a general context and begin to develop allies and compadres so I can see how I might want to set up a practice of some sort here…. maybe in conjunction with others with more formal training and maybe even – this is a dream of mine – with the regular medical establishment. This class,” he said smiling, “seemed like a good next step. I am so grateful to be in this place and with you people.”

“I’m sure between this group and other folks you meet in the near future, you will find a productive niche for yourself here. It will be interesting to see how your path develops. And you’ll be right at home with our first exercise tonight and have lots to teach us all I’m sure!”

“I’m Janna. I’m the Conservancy Trust caretaker and permaculture gardener. I can feel the gardens calling me to be more consciously spiritual. I do a little on my own.” Her voice rose in her effort to convey what she was feeling. “I call the directions and sort of pray when I plant and weed so that I take and leave the right ones. But it’s time for more exposure to formal ritual. Plus I need more tools.”

“Planting and weeding are very Kali Ma things to do,” said Ursula. “She’s the many armed, very complex, fierce goddess from India who knows when to cut and when to comfort.” She turned to the next person. “Welcome, Gabe. I didn’t realize you’d be coming. You give us the requisite thirteen in number.” Ursula put a teasing emphasis on the idea of a required witchy quorum.

“I’m pretty skeptical about all this but it calls me too, you know?”

“Every class needs its curmudgeon. I honor you for coming in spite of that. You’ll probably ask some of the most thought provoking questions. Marsha, I’m so glad you could come.”

“Marsha Quince. I am a retired corporate executive.” She said this almost defiantly. “I’m probably in Gabe’s camp. Skeptical. But I’m looking for something new in my life and you people all seem so interesting. I don’t know much about any of this.”

“I’m Marsha’s husband, Ken. I’m also retired. From sales. I’ve been having a lot of strange dreams recently and this seemed like a good way to connect in.” He turned to the young woman on his left.

“I’m Ariel. I lived here when I was little and now I’m back!”

“Yay!” said Ursula and several others. “It’s so cool that you’re returning to the roots of your birth on the Mountain. I have no doubt that the Mountain called you back and that we’ll all benefit from your return.”

“I’m Fern. I used to be married to Gabe,” she grinned at him, “And we share Anise, our little girl who goes to Illahee where Rhea teaches. And now I’m with Jay, here.”

“I’m Jay and besides being with this pixie, I’m also Ursula’s oldest offspring. I am apprenticing as a brewer in Klatsand. I grew up with all this as Mom and Owen and the others of the Medicine Circles were exploring it. So in a way I know a lot, but I don’t exactly know what I know. If you know what I mean….”

Everybody laughed.

“Obviously we have all levels of experience,” Ursula continued. “There is no such thing as dumb question. We each know different aspects and we’re all here to garner from each other. I guarantee I will learn some new things from you all and the questions you ask.”

Ursula took a deep breath to launch into the next phase of her rough outline. “It seemed appropriate to have our first class in this Halloween-Samhain window. Spelled s.a.m.h.a.i.n. in the Celtic tradition but pronounced sow’-en. It’s the pagan holiday that comes halfway between Fall Equinox and the December Solstice. It’s one of the cross-quarters, the time in this Northern hemisphere when everything is dying back and we launch into the dark to compost and renew. Thus it is often called the ‘Witch’s New Year.’” She grinned inside as she watched Marsha pick up her notebook and pen.

“I thought Spring Equinox was the time for making the next year’s intentions,” said Janna, thinking of the plants.

“Spring, of course, is also a time of new beginnings and many people consider the Vernal Equinox the most appropriate point to start the round. I’m sure that makes a lot of sense for you as a gardener. Personally, I think of the Winter Solstice as that time because it is the darkest moment and is associated with our Gregorian calendar New Years. I think of the year as going upwards from there.

“But don’t forget,” she said as an aside, “it’s all opposite in the Southern Hemisphere. For them Winter Solstice comes in June so the calendar New Year is when they are experiencing the peak and then dying back of the light…”

“The point is that it’s a circle, a sacred wheel of the year that goes round and round, with no real beginning or ending. You can also think of it as an upward unfolding Spiral. Each time we go around we are further along and further up (hopefully). The sequences of tarot cards do this as well. It’s like how in high school we reach the senior level and graduate, only to start over again as freshmen in college or apprentices in the wider world.

“This class is partly about learning to be in touch with those cycles as they play out in the year and in our lives – the astrological and astronomical as well as the earth centered ones. It’s about how we celebrate and how we can explore the caverns and mysteries of ourselves and this place – both locally and in the wider world.

“Shaman, healer, witch, wisewoman, greenwitch, and now teacher. These are all words that define me and are clues that I dwell with the sacred cycles and their blessings,” said Ursula.

“Those words define me too,” interjected Owen. “Well, maybe not ‘wisewoman.’ Can I be a wise man? I guess so.”

“What does Wizard really mean but ‘wise man’?” suggested Jay.

“Bingo,” said Ursula. “We all become wiser over time as we tune into nature and what it really wants of us. Not just nature as we have been taught but the super-natural as well, the unseen parts. That which is behind the veils. The occult, which, not so incidentally, means ‘hidden.’ So much is coming together as we enter the New Age, the Age of Aquarius. It’s both exciting and scary to be opening to all this. Luckily there are guides we can learn to call on who are actually just waiting to be invited to aid us. With Owen’s help we’ll do some deeper work together in another class finding these spirit helpers, whether they be angelic, bird, animal, stone or tree.

“One of those I particularly relate to is Grandmother Spider, known as the Creatrix in many American Indian traditions. I have this feeling that we’re all in the midst of this vast web spinning out of her center that is too complicated for us to see in more than tiny, tiny bits. Thus Eagle who flies high and can see the big picture, turns up a lot for me to confirm when I’m in touch with powerful Medicine on behalf of the whole. Lately I’ve been experiencing Goldfinch who, according to Ted Andrews’ book Animal Speaks, helps us connect with nature spirits and leads us into inner realms. Elk helps ground and center me – connects me to the earth through its four strong legs and, since it’s a herd animal, to my Tribe. According to Jamie Sams, Elk also is about stamina.” Ursula swept her arms around the circle to include them all.

“Tonight, however, I want to invoke Bear who is a particular friend of mine to connect us to our inner healer selves and particularly our healing hands. I believe we are all healers. We do it in many different ways but this “handy” appendage can give us tangible evidence.

“So! First exercise: each of you hold your hands together and feel their temperature. NowOwen Or Grape pull them a little ways apart – about an inch,” she said as she demonstrated. “Now move them slightly farther and a teeny bit closer, not touching, but so that you can begin to feel a little buzz between them. If it feels appropriate you can rub them together vigorously for a little more oomph.”

She watched as amazement broke out on some people’s faces and consternation on others. “If you can’t feel  anything, that’s okay. Just keep playing with it. Chi energy is present whether you feel it or not. Experiment to see how far you can stretch it apart. Can you make it into a ball? Try throwing it back and forth between your hands.”

Some people obviously got it. “I see it as a blue energy,” said Rhea. “But then I’ve done this before.”

“Bravo. I can’t see  it visually myself but I know others who do. Can anyone else see it?”

Fern nodded shyly with wonder on her face.

“I thought you might be able to. Okay everybody, pick a partner and take turns putting your hands on each others’ heart…”

After a bit, Ursula reassembled the group into one circle. “The heart is a good place to start because even if there is something else obvious going on – stomach ache, sprained ankle, grief – the heart is usually the source and the most important part to be healed – or at least to give energy to. Who’s willing to share their experience?”

“I felt a warm glow where Jenna had her hands,” said Mariposa wonderingly.

“That’s good to hear,” said Jenna, “because I couldn’t feel anything from my end. Though I did notice that she took a deep breath and seemed calmer.”

“Perfect you two,” said Ursula. “If you can’t see anything spectacular, and most people can’t, then you rely on the subtle clues. And Receiver, if you feel something tell your Giver. Not necessarily in the moment but afterwards at least. You never know what little thing you might be able to corroborate and thus strengthen them. How was it for you, Uri?”

“I’ve done it before, of course. I rarely see anything either, unless the person is a really strong empath themselves, but I get an almost electrical tingling in my hands when I’m at the right place and the energy is flowing. Sometimes that feels blocked between us and then I have to be careful not to get kinda shocked if it bounces back on me with… with sharpness. Tonight I could feel it more strongly on Jay’s front heart than his back heart. I sensed that chakra as really open and trusting, but there is something lingering in his shadow side we might want to look at later.”

“That’s interesting,” said Jay. “I’ve been feeling a little oppression recently like something old is trying to get out. I’d love to work more on that with you.” His mom nodded.

“I couldn’t feel anything,” said Marsha. “It was really frustrating. This stuff is harder than I thought.”

“Don’t get discouraged. It’s only your first go at it. I’m sure you’ll feel more successful as we practice these things. And ironically sometimes “trying” too hard can block the very energy that wants to flow here. But remember also,” she said to the group, “some of you will be good at this particular aspect and others will pick up more easily on other things we do. I’m sure even Uri will hit some snags here and there.”

“So your homework for the next time is to bring things for the altar representing each of the four directions as I called them tonight: East as Air, South as Fire, watery West and Earth in the North. (Other traditions have other elemental correspondences.) We can’t discuss it any more tonight as there isn’t time but please bring items that seem appropriate to you and we’ll work with them next week. Remember there are no “right” answers. Most things can fit into all of the categories so go with your instincts of the moment.

“And speaking of the moment, on the shelf there next to our family portrait I have placed what I am calling a Begging Bowl. Put your payments for the class in there. Remember that although the suggested donation for the class is $10, you can put any amount more or less in the bowl, including nothing. I’m practicing a new way of collecting and charging that is called Dāna in the Buddhist traditions. That’s a Sanskrit word that means generosity or giving and receiving as a spiritual act. So put in whatever feels right for today. I am grateful for your presence.

“Blessings on our journey together. Thank you to the inspiration of the East, the heart & web energy of South, the water in the West for bringing forth our unconscious, and the Bear and our ancestors of the North. Namaste.” Ursula put her hands together in prayer position and bowed to the circle, who, of course, bowed back.

Ursula’s Morning

After her husband Charley headed off for early morning yoga, Ursula Goodwin-Brown sat in the hot tub looking out into the tiny meadow she insisted on keeping natural for the fairies. Not that she could see them herself, but she had a strong sense they were there, confirmed by visiting Scots from the magical Findhorn garden who came through once years ago and told her they always left a piece of their lands wild for the plant spirits. Her kids thought it was cool that she’d never stopped believing in fairies…. her daughters did anyway. Her sons never mentioned it.

She loved it that the thirty square feet or so was always filled with tall grasses in various stages of green and brown. During the summer the pinky purples of wild mallow and foxglove mixed with daisies, cat’s eye, and pearly everlasting to dance among the salmonberry and thimbleberry shoots trying to get a hold. Besides pulling the latter two out (they had plenty of license to grow elsewhere on the hill), her gardening mostly consisted of moving the flowers back uphill from where they’d migrated into the paths.

This autumn morning spider webs stretched from every possible spike of grass in her meadow, each with its maker in the middle. “There must be fifty of them,” she marveled as her eyes kept catching sight of more. “All sizes and turned every which way. Grandmother Spider is weaving her magic again.”

But the marvel was just beginning. As Ursula watched, the sun rose over the top of the forest uphill, bathing her in its misty God-rays like the blessing of a loving Grandfather. She could feel the gifts of light and love bestowed on the world every single day. No wonder the ancients had worshipped that beaming, life-giving orb. No wonder they had bowed and prayed at dawn for it to reappear. No wonder they had played flute, pipes, rattle or drums to welcome and ensure the sun’s rising each morning. “How lazy we are, not to take that care. To not even notice…. Certainly not to thank. We just assume….”

Now the webs sparkled with diamonds encircling the spiders like planets. Dazzled, she tuned into a chit-chit-chittering all around her and caught sight of dozens of finches, still in their golden summer hue, as well as chickadees, warblers and little brown wrens darting about in ecstasy at the edge of the meadow. Their flitting dislodged last night’s raindrops from the Sitka spruce and hemlock branches in delicate golden showers, while the birds themselves became translucent angels for that instant when they swooped sideways to the streaming light. She whooped in joy at the spectacle, her heart pounding.

As her focus shifted back and forth she realized that the huge sword ferns next to the tub and on into the woods were backlit as well. The moiré patterns of layered spider webs against ranks of fern fronds was dizzying, so much so that even as she gloried in the beauty of the scene, she could feel her mind slipping from the present into a trancey state…. The glorious morning…. faded…. like a movie…. back to a painful winter when she had seemed to be failing Grandmother Spider as a weaver of community webs.…


….Watching the few people present at the monthly Networking Potluck earnestly placing their colored sticky dots to prioritize the dutifully brainstormed lists of ideas for moving the community forward, Ursula had been swept with a feeling of desolation. The meager showing seemed to bode ill for the Big Project’s chances of success. Did that mean that she and Pia and Molly would have to work even harder to get things off the ground? Where was everybody? A few years before when particularly nasty political shit was going down in the outside world, people had rallied and there had been a burst of involvement from all quarters. “Think globally and act locally” had taken on new pizzazz. Commitment flared. Even nonpolitical June and Celeste had gotten involved for a while and a cadre of young people had taken leadership roles, galvanizing inspired projects. Ursula thought of that time as their Glory Days. No task had seemed too daunting, whether it was a protest against old growth timber cuts, a day care center start up, or a play about the demise of the salmon that integrated spiritual ceremony with activist passion. Would that it didn’t take a sense of crisis to bring people out of the woodwork.

Ursula sighed. The fledglings – so active and eager at that time – weren’t coming to gatherings much anymore. Neither the rituals nor the stirring-the-pot meetings like this one. Of course, Caliente and others were involved with their farmsteads – truly the important groundwork that boded well for the long term. But what would happen to the organizational side in coming years as Ursula’s generation aged and died off? Did none of the young people have time for being on boards or getting new things going? Was that process just too old hat?

Ursula had slipped outside that night to sit on the steps and watch the quiet street. Everything was taking so very long. She ached for a deeper connection. To have all her own four chicks around her at fire-lit healing sessions like the Kalahari Bushmen that Brad Keeney wrote about…. Tribe…. People dancing their sorrows, their worries, their ills. Elders and shamans touching Spirit on behalf of the whole or of an ailing individual. Did she need such a dance right how? Did they all need it? How could it ever be pulled together? “Always the practical thinker,” she thought ruefully. “My natal Capricorn moon waves its weary administrative wand.”

There was no moon that February night and no stars either, the sky being overcast. But she knew it was the Dark of the Moon – time to plant seeds. Wasn’t that what they were trying to do at this potluck? How could seeds grow with only the labor of the valiant, stalwart few? She wanted all her kids here – all the community’s young. So many were off gallivanting. It was appropriate she knew. “Yea even important,” she chided herself. “They need to have a wider experience so that if they are eventually to return to their roots here they will know what they are choosing and what they are giving up. Plus be able to bring back experience to share.” Odyssey Years. She’d had that certainly. That’s how she and Charley had landed here. She hugged her blue chenille shawl more tightly around her shoulders. How could she reconcile that knowledge with this deep inner longing for being a granny in a hut with other grannies…. Pounding grain together…. Working on clay cooking pots like Malidoma Somé described…. Gossiping…. Counseling…

She had felt herself falling into a trance as that image took hold in her mind’s eye. Was it somewhere else or in her own future? Was it a past life of hers or a collective memory? It didn’t matter. Her belly filled with the emotions of it and soon the very smells…. dry sunbaked soil, cardamom, cumin…. Giggling with her compatriots. Crinkly dark skin. Weathered faces. Skilled hands…. The pursing of worried lips as they talked about the village…. Someone was stepping outside their marriage and might need a little talking to. One of the fledglings was itchy for a new adventure. Maybe he could be sent to the city with the next load of trade goods. Whose back was hurting and what was she stiffly holding back from? The stories went round and round. Some revelations were greeted with shouts of laughter and ribald teasing.

“Your old man can still get it up, eh?”

“Hee hee.”

“Mine can’t. I’ve got the hots for that tallest young, handsome one!”

“Me too. That green wife of his better watch out.”

Other bits made their grizzled heads shake. Who could take a particular teen aside and teach her about things her mother wasn’t bothering with? Were the men ready for the returning warrior’s cleanse? Whose turn was it to lead the vision quest training process? Better call a dance to lighten up that quarrel between adjacent villages.

These old ones were full of vinegar still and honored for the wealth of their experience. Kali Ma-like, they knew when to cut and when to comfort. Kwan Yin-like, they were available to enfold a child, tender advice to the lovelorn, and facilitate the taking on of a needed skill.

“Had it ever gotten stifling?” wondered the Ursula on the steps and the Ursula in the hot tub. “Probably.” Old customs had begun to cramp and not everyone was wise all the time. “Are there people involved?!” She could hear Pia Rosen’s voice in her head with just the right ironical tone.

“But we’re full of new ideas. We’re inventing. We’re re-membering the tribe. Finding the pieces. We are touching into the old ways – the shamanic knowings….”

…. In her mind’s eye she danced around a blazing fire under a starry sky in that tribal time, her body glowing and prickling with healing energy. Hands so hot that the sparks might have been from her or from the fire. She placed them on the temples of a friend who was grieving the loss of a parent and then on the low back and belly of a woman with a challenging pregnancy. She hugged another dancer and together they swayed with the ecstasy of energy flow, belly to belly. Turning, they both encircled the hips of an arthritic visitor. Voices around them toned and hummed, rising and falling with rhythms uncharted and undirected. Drums and rattles added to the rising chi of the group. She whirled and swooped – now a goldfinch, now an eagle. Was that an ordinary dog or was it Coyote behind the man sitting cross-legged with a child in his lap? Antlered Elk rose tall and ghostly, shadowing the circle. Was a fellow dancer turning into a jaguar? Certainly snaky energy was rising in that one across the way….

“We achieve something akin to this at times in our campfires,” Ursula had thought, her butt beginning to ache on the community center steps. “Our evenings together on rainy winter nights. Drums, voices, wisps of magic. But always there is a holding back. A lack of experience. A lack of custom. A lack of trust, not of each other so much as fear of the seeds inside us. Fear. It always comes down to that doesn’t it?”

Fear of the unknown. Fear of the magic itself. Fear of being thought unscientific and therefore crazy. Fear of shamanic flight. Fear of Power. She’d shivered, feeling her own trepidation gain ascendance, as open as she was. The longing for tribal connection was still there but it had become tempered by her rational self. “It’s too difficult. It’s taking too long. What’s the use? I might as well settle into a lonely granny-hood, family secrets intact.” No outsiders to probe…. no way to heal…. no connection to Grace…. which to her was a link to Source but also a connection to the whole. The Tribe.

There was that word again. She was pretty sure that it actually did “take a village.” That felt right deep in her gut. This was not the era of the hermit, though a few people off in their proverbial or literal caves could send sparking and nurturing energy to the whole. She thought of June with her quiet counseling practice and Nettle Nancy who hardly ever stirred from her wooded cabin on a back creek but who envisioned the world’s healing on a daily basis in her meditations.

However, the bulk of the energy this time around was within group. Joining together, communing. Developing the intimacy and the trust to connect telepathically. Did it have to be such a long slow process? Was it possible for a lightning bolt? A magical moment when a group of them had clarity and were connected…. It seemed like they’d almost gotten there once or twice….

Out of her despair that night, a germ of inspiration for a visioning ritual had flickered in her brain. After several deep yogic shrugs, she’d gone back inside the community center to help put away chairs and tables. The meeting was done. She only half cared about the outcome. The ideas on the brainstorm sheets posted around the room were the same ones voiced in other such forums. Déjà vu all over again. “What will it take to propel us to the next level? To put juice and Spirit into these lists. To take it all out of the theoretical into the real?” They’d accomplished a lot over the years. They could pat themselves on the back. Yet Ursula knew there was something potent missing. Several somethings, no doubt.

Tribe. She could almost taste it. Almost describe it. When could she have it in this life?


While Ursula had been journeying back through a few stages of her community’s development, the late September morning sun had risen higher and the spider webs, though still visible, no longer glowed. The grasses were now a soft gold. “It’s amazing how many different kinds there are. I’ll take some down to the shrine at the store. It would be fitting to honor Demeter, Greek aspect of the Mother – Goddess of the Grains, Bringer of Seasons – whose daughter Persephone heads down in autumn to her underworld lover. Her adventures away are not unlike those of my own four offspring. I must count myself lucky that two have chosen to live here now, thank the Goddess, and one had a baby last spring, making me a real granny (tra la!). But two are far afield and I miss them even though that seems greedy of me. Can I help it that I’m insatiable?”

Grass stems in hand, her petite frame naked and dripping, she stood on the path next to the tub. Turning to each of the Directions, she called aloud, “Thank you, airy East, for the rising sun and the new beginnings that grew out of the revelations of that night of despair at the Mahonia Community Center. Thank you for this new day as well. Help us to create the songs that heal and bring out the best in each of us. May you continue to send us new energy for our endeavors.

“Thank you, fiery South, for the passionate hearts that beat in concord and in conflict, and for the growth that abounds within both states.

“Thank you, watery West, for the deep knowings, memories and dreams that will inform this day, as well as for the Pacific that graces this place. May we listen and be in the flow.

“Thank you, earthy North, for the stories and the power of the Mountain and the rocks and the trees and the creatures, plants and ancestors of this place. May we honor you always and all ways.

“Thanks be to the Above.” She raised her arms high, “and to the Below.” She knelt and touched the earth. “Gaia. And to all our relations. All is well. I am ready for this day, Grandmother Spider, come what may.”