Thank you for sharing your mind with us, for a lot longer than any of us expected. You will be missed.
Up until we moved here to Widder Island six years ago I never suffered from seasonal or pollen allergies.
Although we’re protected from the worst of the ‘eau de cow-poo’ fertilizer smells this time of the year, the same cannot be said of the airborne things that cause one to go ‘AaaaaaCHooooo’ in the middle of the night, morning, afternoon, evening, that is the by-product of swathes of farmland in the Fraser Valley.
This is another reason we’re planning on moving to the Interior as soon as we find our forever home.
Pseudoephedrine is a snuffler’s best friend at these times … unfortunately it’s also a toxic friend when it has overstayed its welcome.
And then, one day quite by accident I uncovered, not a cure, but a tasty remedy for the symptoms.
The good stuff, not the flavoured sugar kind … and therein lies the issue with eating even little nubs of the stuff all day – sugar, which is an ingredient, no matter what the quality. (as far as I know)
Never fear, Widders is here. (Lost In Space reference – the trailer for the re-boot looks … not terrible) I found a magnificent alternative in the spices isle of our local bulk health and organic food store – star anise!
I suppose it comes in a powdered form but in it’s un-smooshed state it looks like this …
First thing I did was make a big pot of star anise tea and added a bit to everything I drank.
It worked, but after a while everything tasted star anise-y.
Enter, my handy-dandy essential oil tea light diffuser.
I wouldn’t normally have used so many ‘stars’ but these were left over from the last pot I made and they still had some smell to them so I chucked them in the top added some water … three days later they’re still going strong.
The aroma isn’t too overwhelming, Mrs Widds hasn’t fainted dead away, and I …
I … Can … Breathe!
Of course, it’s not for everyone, but if you’re doing the sneezy two-step like I am, give it a try, see what happens.
(The five previous stories can be read in sequence on their own page, ‘Prelude’ just up there on the header, or you can catch up on individual stories over to the right in the ‘Topics’ section, under ‘Prelude’)
Every time I Journeyed another layer of my fears, my preconceived notions, my externally imposed (and thereafter internalized) limitations and deceptions, peeled away. I could see clearer and clearer each week.
I wondered, a bit nervously, what this week might throw at me.
I’ve only ever ridden a horse once in my life, which lasted all of five seconds. I went up one side, over the top, and down the other. The horse looked down at me, flat on my back, with that gleeful superior expression horses get when a human has done something ridiculous. (his name was Rain Lover, a retired racehorse who’d won the Melbourne Cup twice, the biggest race in Australia, so in my defense, he was a whole lot taller than your average bear … erm, horse)
Now, I found myself atop a beautiful grey mare whose job it was to see that I stayed on her back until we reached our destination, far off into the desert. Unlike the above mentioned nag, she did so, and at the end of our journey I slid off her soft warm back, stood on wobbly knees, and thanked her profusely.
I’d arrived at a box canyon carved out of the surrounding sandstone by some long gone river, and was greeted by a gathering of women. They seemed to glow a little around the edges as they ushered me toward a dark opening in the back of the canyon wall.
We stepped from the scorching heat of the desert sun into the shadowy coolness of the cave, and as we walked they asked me to recall the things I had already learned in my Journeys and be aware of the enormity of the things I didn’t know.
Yep, I thought to myself, this was going as expected.
I hastily complied as we progressed along curved tunnel. One by one the women faded away as though they were melting into the rock. By the time I got to where it opened out into a good-sized cavern, they’d disappeared completely.
In the center of the cavern a small fire burned brightly. I hoped it wasn’t of the exploding variety like my previous Journey. The shadows of the women sitting around it danced along the walls. They were the same women who’d just faded away on me, only less solid, Spirit versions of their Selves. None-the-less I stood to one side waiting for an invitation to rejoin them. It seemed the polite thing to do.
A women rose and glided toward me. She carried a beautifully fashioned stone knife in her hand and began to cut the same herringbone pattern of marks I’d seen carved into the walls of the Bast temple on my first Journey, into the skin of my forearms.
A little part of me that carried the trauma of my motorbike accident in its nucleus squeaked in fright. Ok, it was a big part.
A Much Shorter Retrospective Digression Than The Last One …
I’m the only woman I know who doesn’t have a piercing upon her person, of one sort of another, anywhere.
Long before I received all those wonderful scars on my right knee from the motorbike crash, I had accumulated two other important scars that contributed to my non-pierced self.
The first occurred when I was a child. (separate from the usual bruises, scrapes, bumps and general bloodletting-spawned scars of childhood)
My father, who was as confused about my burgeoning baby butch identity emerging from the wilds of my early childhood as I was, tried to force me to wear a dress for a family outing. He won, but only because he was bigger than me. I later fell and cut my leg. (funnily enough, in the exact place on my knee that would be sliced off when I had the motorbike accident twenty years later) I got blood all over the dress, ended up wearing my old clothes, with a giant bandage over my wound. I wore that ‘huge’ scar (I was just a little kid so size was a matter of perspective) like a badge of honour.
My second scar of renown was a self-inflicted one on my left forearm. A scream for help from my teen years that no-one heard, so I resumed my self-imposed protective silence. You wouldn’t believe it these days, but back then I had a spoken vocabulary of only a few hundred words. I never spoke more, or less, than what I required to survive.
In the heady days of my ‘steep learning curve’ when I moved to Sydney a year after the motorbike accident, all the women around me had pierced ears and/or were contemplating getting some in places with significantly more nerve endings. (this was a time, long past, when body piercings were only starting to enjoy their hedonistic popularity)
I honestly contemplated it for a few … moments, but the idea of voluntarily choosing to have my body skewered by inanimate pointy objects, even if they only made a tiny little hole to stick dangly ornaments through, made me feel queasy and heading in the opposite direction at a great rate of knots.
Back to our story …
“This is a Blood Ritual.” The Spirit Woman said gently, trying to soothe my fears as she staunched the flow of blood from my arms with some silvery dust. “In this moment, you have a choice. You can stay here in this Place of Power and the shedding of your blood will not have meaning, or you can go further into the Mystery and find the strength and means to continue this Path.”
My heart then did what I was coming to expect it to do when Truths were revealed to me on these Journeys, it seized up for a few moments then thudded against my ribcage until it got back up to speed.
The Spirit Woman indicated a dark tunnel branching off from the cavern. “Choose.”
The second tunnel curved and sloped downward. My eyes adjusted to the darkness as I walked the spiral, and ended up directly underneath the first cave. The tunnel ended in a shimmering wall that looked like quicksilver or the surface of water as a fish might see it.
A friend of mine once said, on a completely unrelated topic, that all we really need to do is stand in our life and breathe.
Once I stopped thinking about what to do next and simply let my sense of my Self lead the way, I knew what to do.
My hand passed through the quicksilver surface of the wall and, meeting no resistance, I stepped through the Portal into a dark space.
I was in another cave, bigger than the others, but again directly underneath the other two. I had descended into the heart of the Earth in a Sacred Spiral.
The quicksilver Portal retreated to one side of the cavern taking the small amount of light it generated with it.
There was that the familiar thudding in my chest again. I was buried who-knew-how-far underground, in the dark, utter dark, with no way out, and I was supposed to do, what?
Because of my previous adventures I had learned enough to know that I could create whatever I willed, (with varying degrees of difficulty) if only I could figure out what that might be.
My heart settled down. I breathed some more.
First, I needed to create light from lightlessness.
I focused my attention on the pattern tattooed on my forearms, and moved the energy pulsing there down to my hands.
Tiny bright tendrils of energy began to radiate from my fingers. The streams of light swayed and danced from finger to finger, grew brighter, swallowed up my palms, spread across the backs of my hands, and even shone through my fingernails. My hands were wreathed in pure light.
I gazed at these beautiful glowing hands, my hands, in amazement. I lifted them over my head. The light spilled out through my fingertips and filled the whole of the cavern with the most brilliant of whitest lights.
My eyes, used to the dark and overloaded by the intensity of the light immediately filled with tears. When I could see again I beheld a cave made entirely out of crystal. The light reflected and refracted around the space until it shattered again and again into a million rainbows and returned to pure white light once more.
I did a little dance of joy like a gleeful child who had just discovered the most wondrous magical thing ever. I laughed and I cried and l laughed again, dizzy with euphoria.
I calmed down eventually but I still had a big grin plastered on my face while I looked for a way out. I hadn’t noticed until that moment that the floor of this wondrous crystal cave was crystal too. Of course it would be. Nice long pointy shards of crystal, angled in every direction.
I faced the next part of my challenge. To get back across the cave to the Portal, the edges of which glowed with the same bright light still shimmering all around me.
I focused my will and saw the crystals as all soft and smooth. They ignored me and remained pointy. What if I flew above them? The crystals flexed and slowly turned their pointy ends toward me. Several of them started to grow.
Got it. No flying.
I must walk, (and it was made clear to me there was no other way to do this) with bare feet, across the razor sharp edges of the crystals, without shedding a single drop of blood.
Remember that part of me that had a thing about not willingly putting myself in situations where I would have my person perforated? She was a gibbering mess now.
I shifted my weight onto my right foot and slowly, very slowly raised my left and lowered it onto the crystals, the very pointy crystals. I could feel them pushing against the sole of my foot. I held my breath and shifted my weight onto it.
I knew I couldn’t entertain even the merest thought of injury or my fear would bring the entire structure down on me and there would be slicing and dicing and blood everywhere. I focused my will as sharp as the sharpest of the needle-like crystals underneath my foot and took another step.
And another, until I stood in front of the Portal, where I finally remembered to breathe. My solar plexus ached and I shook from head to toe, but I’d done it!
The bright silvery light of the Portal slowly shifted. Swirling patterns rose to its surface and resolved into a map that showed the three caverns I’d already been in and others both above and below those three. An endless labyrinth stretching beyond my capacity to understand.
This was the way out though, I knew that. I stepped through the map and found myself back at the entrance to the very first tunnel in the desert canyon, only the canyon wasn’t there anymore. Nothing was there.
-oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo-
Today was a perfect Spring day. The air was crisp and clear, the sun shone bright, ignoring the occasional scudding cloud. Everything felt like it was gently smiling. What a perfect accompaniment to this trailer.
It connects to the original movie, hooks the attention, shows the lead actors, (Emily Blunt – le sigh) and doesn’t give a thing away … perfect.
Now, I wonder if I had a word with the House of Mouse* I might be able to convince them to STOP RELEASING TRAILERS THAT GIVE AWAY THE WHOLE STORY!!! … but I doubt it. Their promotional people are of the mind that one is good, two is gooder, three is best, and seventeen trailers before the actual premier of the movie, is the bestest idea evah!
* the House of Mouse is a one-size-fits-all way of referring to anything Disney-ish, alluding to its ‘umble beginnings.
Recently, I featured a ‘comment’ from the catacombs of my WordPress spam folder.
The catacomb has revealed another gem with yet more sinister overtones.
Let us now gird our loins and be confronted with, in all its gruesome entirety, the sheer terror of …
“Leave me alone!”
… in my spam folder …
… okay then.
(The four previous stories now have their own page, ‘Prelude’ just up there on the header)
I found myself in an old, old forest.
Moss-covered tree-trunks towered above my head while shafts of pollen-laden sunlight angled through the sparse undergrowth and shone on fallen giants repurposed as nurseries.
I sensed, rather than heard, birdsong and the lilt of falling water underneath the sound of soft rustling leaves and creaking branches.
I was so happy to be Journeying again I spoke without thinking. “This is much better than drowning.” My words disappeared the minute they passed my lips. I paused, warily. The universe didn’t immediately end so I counted my blessings and moved on.
The gnarled tree trunks gave way to saplings and then to a clearing. In the center an old woman kneeled next to a small energetic campfire. Its light threw her flickering shadow up against a tiny house made of things the forest had bequeathed her. She sensed my presence and slowly got to her feet. I could see massive scarring surrounding her right knee.
She, was me, perhaps in the future, or from a different timeline. Our eyes met and a flash of recognition passed between us, but then her campfire exploded into a giant fireball and consumed her. Higher and higher it rose. In-between one heartbeat and the next it seared the trees and undergrowth, and reduced the entire forest to cinders.
The fire burned so hot I could feel it scorching my clothes, burning my face and bare skin. It towered over me, challenging me.
“What do you want?” I shouted over the raging noise.
The flames blazed even higher and hotter.
My skin began to blister as though I’d been out in the heat of a long Aussie summer day for hours. Some separate part of my mind said that I couldn’t be burning. After all, I was really just sitting with my eyes closed in a room in the suburbs. You’d think that by now I would’ve learned that what’s real in one Realm is also real in another.
However, prudence required I take a step back, just in case, then, in a flash of clarity I rephrased question.
“What is my lesson?”
The fire lurched towards me, surrounding me. I’d experienced being surrounded by fire once before and I didn’t like it very much then either.
The heat was so intense my flesh started to disintegrate right off my bones. I had to find a way to escape, or die.
I wondered if the fire was an illusion designed to test me, something I could walk straight through if I chose to. I stepped forward and got cooked some more. I tried again, then gave myself up to the inevitable. This Fire was going to consume me.
My thoughts turned philosophical. (probably in order to stave off the screaming heebie-jeebies. I mean, who in their right mind stands willingly in front of a raging bonfire and calmly contemplates their demise?) I would experience Death and Transformation, without having to actually reach the end of my physical life. Who knew what epiphanies I might epiph.
A tongue of flame shot out from fire and licked across my body reminding me that philosophy had its place, but that place was neither here nor now.
So be it.
Trial by Fire.
Fine. If I couldn’t go through the flames I would go under them.
First I had to protect myself. I flexed my will, (I was getting the hang of this bit) and caused a hard shell to form around me with a pointy end, a bit like a bullet shape and began burrowing into the Earth. The cool earth relieved the burning sensation on my skin. When I sensed I had gone far enough to outdistance the fire I headed back up to the surface, and emerged in a completely different place.
I was vaguely aware of my physical body trembling with tension. The struggle had exhausted me, but my success at getting past the fire pushed such minor considerations away.
I stood on the surface of a small planet or moon, so small I could see the curve of the horizon quite close to me. I was safe. I could breathe, and more importantly I had passed another Trial.
I spent a bit of time looking around, not that there was much to see, until it occurred to me that I’d escaped Fire by entering Earth, so, logically, that was where I was supposed to go next. I decided I would skip the week-long wait, resume my bullet-ish shape, and dig my Self back down into the earth beneath my feet and continue my adventure.
A searing heat rippled around my body. A subtle reminder that I knew this Journey was complete, and to push this particular boundary, at this particular time, would incur the wrath of Beings best left un-wrathed.
That night my skin still felt kind of warm so I looked in a mirror and was shocked to see my face covered in a heavy sunburn. Being fair-skinned, and the Summer season at its height, I hadn’t been out in the sun without a wide brimmed hat and sunscreen for weeks!
My knees went weak and my heart rose up in my throat and pounded so hard I thought it was going to break out of my body, again! I sat down abruptly and asked myself what was I doing gallivanting around the cosmos and coming back with a sunburn?
My skin blistered and peeled and took several days more for the redness to fade.
Elsewhere in my life a different sort of crisis was looming.
I was doing fairly well at university despite my abysmal lack of math expertise. Although I had a logical mind, I’d left school before I could delve into the intricacies of geometry, and it’s elder sibling, algebra, was something I’d heard of only in passing.
But, I was being pulled between two polarities. At one end was university, where everything was measured, calculated, precise and concrete, literally as well as figuratively. Where we were told we were being taught to think for ourselves but that anything that deviated from an acceptable ‘norm’ (set by the faculty) was publicly exposed in a classroom situation and used as an example of how not to do that particular task.
I can’t say this was true of every student around me or in every faculty, or in every institution of learning, but it was enough for me to wonder if this was where I wanted to be for the next six years.
Then, there was this other new world I was discovering with equal intensity. A world of Myth become manifest, where there was no right or wrong way to be, only my way. (which, of course, is different for each and every one of us who choose to walk a Path of Awareness)
I was dis-covering, uncovering, a knowledge that had remained dormant all my life, and perhaps even before this life. Knowledge stored in my very cells, the only safe place for it until I was ready to recall it to consciousness. Knowledge that made my heart and Spirit soar with its Beauty and Power. Knowledge that had such a profound sense of rightness and balance to it that sometimes I was moved to simply sit and just be with it.
My dilemma then: How could I continue to venture forth into a rigidly structured academic world that was fast becoming the antithesis of the knowledge I was thirstily absorbing in the Spirit Realm?
One day, at the end of a scorchingly hot summer back in my Aussie dyke-on-a-(motor) bike days, I decided to go for a ride along one of the endless roads that linked the one-kangaroo towns scattered infrequently across the length and breadth of the country. Some of them so small they didn’t appear on any maps.
I was on my way home, tired but content. For a while I had outrun my ghosts.
Maybe it was an idiot throwing his still burning cigarette out of his car, or sunlight through a broken bottle, a lightning strike, or even deliberately lit, but a bushfire (we call them ‘wildfires’ here in Canada) had sprung up and spread rapidly through the scruffy tinder-dry bush.
Over a small hill ahead of me a towering plume rose into the sky faster than I ever thought possible. Suddenly the harsh sunlight turned a sickly beer-bottle amber. Smoldering and charred remnants of gum leaves and twigs gusted all around me like grimy soot-stained snowflakes.
As I rode along the sun disappeared behind the choking smoke. Finally I pulled over and looked behind me, hoping to go back to where I could skirt around the fire and take another route, the long way, home. The smoke was thicker that way though, obscuring the flames just out of sight, roaring like some kind of nightmarish monster and heating the stifling air around me.
If you’re caught in a bushfire they tell you the best thing to do is stay inside your vehicle, right? Good advice if you have a vehicle to get inside of. My options weren’t good. Mentally tossing a coin I decided to keep going forward. I lined myself up with the white painted centre-line of the road and gingerly inched my way through the smoke and heat and ash. I rode without ever seeing a single flame until I was well beyond the fire and high up on a ridge.
At a lookout I stopped and took off my helmet. Tiny smoldering holes pocked my jacket and thick pants. I breathed in the clean air and watched the road I’d just ridden along get swallowed by the fire. If I’d’ve turned back, I would’ve been caught in that maelstrom and would not have survived.
-oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo-
What a difference a day makes.
After losing two major branches to the Ice-storm we decided our Winter Tree needed some TLC so we made a bit of a garden around her base with some logs from the tree across the way that had a severe prune, (also from the ice-storm) some newspaper to inhibit the grass and bucketloads of our nicely nutritious compost.
Then, this happened …
As it got dark, the snow began to get serious, and seriouser …
It was some rare and seldom photographed, (mostly because they’re invisible) SNOW DRAGONS …
They frolicked and gamboled in the snow underneath the Winter Tree until Mama Racoon …. erm, I mean Mama SNOW DRAGON called them in for supper.
Off they hopped into the night …
… leaving the Winter Tree to chuckle to herself at the wonderful mess they made of her nice smooth snow skirts.
The next day the path-clearing crew started removing 40 centimeters of snow from the walkway.
Coco the Community Cat arrived disgruntled that the path had not been properly cleared before she, and her very long tummy fur, had to plow through it in order to get cuddles.
Mirabeau leapt to the rescue with warm towels and soon Coco was relaxing in one of her most favourite places …