“I’m going to play hooky from the store today,” Ursula informed Charley watching him add walnuts and kelp flakes into the oatmeal he was stirring. She wished she could have brown sugar and cinnamon instead, but they’d vowed to stay on a healthy kick at the moment. “Would you put this note on the door that I’ll be open again on Thursday?”
“What are you going to do?”
“I feel the need for a wandery sort of day to think about all that we talked about last night in the hot tub.”
“I’d join you but I’m meeting with Michael to iron out more details,” said Charley. “You’d probably rather be on your own anyway.”
“Yeah, I’ve got some solo musing to do. Sorry I begged off on talking to the Sustainability group the other day. When I talked to Michael at Harvest Fest I was caught in my “doing things” mode. Showing off. It’s challenging to remember not to leap at every request and need.”
“No worries, Sweetie. I’m assuming you won’t need the car. How ‘bout I bring home something from Arachne’s Web for dinner so you don’t even have to think about that.”
“Yum. Have a good day,” she said as he picked up his backpack and a canvas tote stuffed with papers and headed out the door.
Soon Ursula was out the back door with a mug of tulsi lavender tea in hand and a notebook in her pocket. The air was chilly today and smelled of fall. The sky was overcast and she was glad she’d put on her blue shawl.
“What does it mean to be a teacher of stuff you’ve only just picked up along the way? Do I know enough? I’ve taken workshops from some pretty powerful people – shamans all I’d say. But can I call myself a shaman?” She shuddered at the audacity of the thought and settled herself on the promontory’s stone seat overlooking the ocean. “I don’t think one can name oneself that. I can see where some of us have characteristics of a shaman and I would be honored if I heard that others consider me that but….” She watched the waves break down below her.
“What’s the difference between shaman and witch?” she wondered. “I started using the term ‘witch’ because it seemed simpler, closer to wisewoman, and the word needed to be reclaimed and de….de-horriblized. But thinking of it this way makes me even wonder about using that word. Humility. I’m sure the ancient ones – teachers and spirits alike – would counsel being humble…. So what makes it okay to teach?”
“Somebody has to.” The words came from the very air around her. Or was it from the Steller’s Jay that chittered and clucked at her from the decrepit old alder at her right?
“Somebody has to,” she agreed. “There are many ready to learn. They don’t all need to go through the experimenting we’ve had to do. Feeling our way, we’ve laid new paths and we might as well teach others to follow them. Or at least they can start out on known paths before striking out cross-country the way kids often do on the Mountain. Nobody has to take what I say as gospel. I can give plenty of room for differing experiences and styles of seeing the paranormal and creating…. Especially if much of the class is sharing experiences – opening each other’s eyes to the whys and hows of it all. Which is how we in the Medicine Circles learned it ourselves. This will just be a more concentrated and directed version of our process over the last twenty-some years.”
She jumped up at that reassuring thought and leaving her now empty mug behind, headed down into the hollow where her private hut sat amidst the elderberry and salmonberry bushes. The foxgloves in the clearing had fallen over and it was time to hack again at the blackberry vines muscling in from the edges but it wasn’t as overgrown as it was some years at summer’s end. How lovely to have had time this year to keep things relatively cleared.
The door to the one-room hut was sticking as usual and the 10 x10 room smelled unused – unaired anyway. As always the terracotta colored walls soothed and inspired her. She shook out the rag rug over the porch railing and then lay down on the bed, enjoying anew the colorful pillows and the ancient patchwork quilt that had been her great-grandmother’s handiwork. The walls were covered with friends’ creations and a few of her own collages. Process work documenting the journeys of so many of the women in the community. “I’ll have to shift things if this space is to have more universal appeal as a quiet retreat,” she thought. “It may be a womb – everyone comes from the womb and should go back there from time to time – but men need to feel comfortable here too.” When her son Salal slept out here one winter between adventures, most of this stuff had been taken down.
“One of Carlos’s small sculptures would go nicely on the low shelf that lined the west wall. That would please him. I can hang the two collages I did of men’s healing process. Add a tarot deck – maybe the Herbal Tarot. Its simple images are accessible and it’s such a great right brain way to learn about herbs. I wonder what other books….”
Stretched out on the bed, hands behind her head, her mind tumbled on in happy planning mode, thinking of people hiding out here, licking their wounds and finding healing wisdom in the items she laid out. “I’ll put a Begging Bowl here too. It’s a perfect place for that hand painted ceramic one I found at ReBound the other day. People can contribute whatever they feel moved to. A guest book to share about their time here. Should I bring down some of my own journals? I’ll have to see if there are things I should be editing out. I could retype the parts that make sense to share of my journey…. ” That was a tiring thought….
.…Ursula woke at a jay’s loud squawk in the tree out the window. She was disoriented for a minute but soon, giggling at herself and her creative conjuring process, she began to jot down a list as she got inspired all over again. “Toilet paper. Hankies, another mug, more candles, check to see that the flashlight still works.” She’d learned to keep a flashlight down here because more than once she’d fallen asleep until it was too dark to see her way up the path. “Enough. I need to move around again.” She took a swig from the water jug she kept by the door.
Following the short path east out of the hollow to the edge of their property, she thought as she always did about the undeveloped land next door, wondering how they could possibly acquire it if the present absentee owners ever decided to sell. She sent a little energy call winging into the brambles that extended up towards the highway for the right people to land there. Someone who would contribute to the whole community and to this little patch on the Mountain. The narrow path turned north slightly and then west again through the cedars Charley had planted when they were first building. Soon these trees so sacred to the Northwest native peoples would be a true grove, their uneven growth from the elk’s marauding indiscernible.
“Yay! The huckleberries are still going strong.” Charley had transplanted those bushes at the same time as the cedars. She ate a few and decided to go back to the house for a couple of empty yogurt containers. While there she checked her email. Nothing she had to deal with immediately but she sent out a query to Sylvia since it popped into her mind to see if she wanted to come over for a tarot reading. Soon she headed back to the hillside.
“Picking huckleberries is such a primeval thing to do. Bear-like too.” She sent a growl and a warble out to her spirit friend and helpmeet. “What should I be teaching in this course, hmmm? If I’m to do it, I’m going to need all sorts of help.”
She would do it, she was sure now as she recognized the enlivened buzz she was feeling. Spirit wanted her to do this and her helpers both human and dis-embodied would be at hand. She’d go sit in the sun soon on the deck and start making topic lists. “Teacher” was a good enough moniker for now.