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.