The thin line

girlinthegardenI walk a thin line that leads past the woods
A dusty path few friends will take
I will emerge from among the leaves
Only, alone, when I need to. Locusts and honey
For the woman in second-hand jeans
The sackcloth and ashes of the 2010’s.

Awkward knowledge comes in instalments
With every new fact I pay with peace of mind.
The clothes I wear, the shoes, leather or oil
Crude is the currency of my innocuous existence.
I strip myself of pleasures until joy unsold rests
On the stack of my debt, a fraction lower.

Force-fed with oil and blood every day
My dearest and I sell our hands and hearts
And hide at night in dreams of another way.
While our souls fly under the canopy,
The machine mindlessly steals our years
We stay put for our boy and our girl.

For their existence we choose to walk this line.
Our dirty hands cherish our replacements
Until they too are sanded by urbanity
To serve as cogs in the march of progress
Towards decline. Were the world an orchard
I would wait for the apple to roll into my palms,

But the trees need shaking, or we die
Destitute, in dishonour. For every step I take
Yet another soul is trampled on. At night
I hear the wailing of the silent suffering
As the unwilling accomplice, maiming love
For the guilt of living on the eve of destruction.

But the rays still caress my cheeks, and as the berries
Ripen outside my door, unaware of winter winds
The blackbird sings a lustful tune of longing
And happily rips a slug to shreds. Every quiver
Of its beak proclaims our noble right
To be alive until we too are subsumed.

The Mother’s face will not answer.
A dark smile of woe and woo hides between the shrubs
Her dazzling smile upon the waters, defiled
By the trawling and choking of her children.
Her scream so long and loud, a cosmic echo
Thumping in the background of my existence.

Yet I live a distant memory of a world
Thousands of turns around the sun ago
When I hear the mother’s daughter’s daughter’s daughter
Sing in the garden of original sin. Let me be considerate
But unburdened. Like the blackbird with his slug
I ask for no more and no less than to see her today.

I walk the thin line that leads into the woods.
I wriggle between guilt and joy, and try to trample
Just what I need to stay alive. To carve a path
Into a luscious dawn, for the dearest of my blood
I carry the light of life and pass it on to all
Who follow in my trail. I guard my line.

Seasons of Humanity

By Lia Hunter

Children of Gods

 

Ancestral Celestial

Children of Gods
Sun and Earth
source of our abundance
blazing fecundity, alchemical, we
in their image

Grandparent stars going before
forging all we have and are
smiling on us from
what afterlife dimension
star gods burn their way to

Larger than one culture
older than our memory
together in the web of life
cycling in the seasons we spin up,
or down, in our collective energy

Nets that bind, release
renewal patterns ever dancing
breath of life so sacred
novas wild, death birthing,
in the dark, the shining spiral

 


 

We are Pagans. We have a healthy, whole worldview that doesn’t try to exclude or ignore death and darkness. We aren’t afraid of them. We know where they lead – we’ve been there. We’ve walked the paths where darknesses and deaths overtake you along the way, and that they are not only not the end (the path has no end, it’s a spiral), but they are necessary for growth and life. We don’t disown matter in favor of spirit, nor spirit in favor of matter. We know both are integral. We see both clearly, because we live in them, together, and don’t deny any part of the world we come from and live in. We don’t have a story we must make the world fit within, our stories reflect what is, and what always returns. Mythology extends our memory past the reach of history, and we know that these are not the same thing, and that both are important.

We are not alienated from our world. We feel at home in it. Our kin are here, and we belong, having been born of this place, and being suited to it. It’s not some staging area for a Great Sorting in which we’ll eventually be put on a train to our real home, which supposedly will have an absence of death and darkness. What kind of unnatural thing would that be?! It doesn’t sound sustainable.

The sun halts in its courses, but it moves back again. The moon wanes away, but waxes again. The stars burn and collapse and burst, but their gravity and star-dust make worlds and stars again.

We Pagans lack, or find ourselves healing from, the sickness that separates people from their world and from each other. We’ve awakened from the illusions of separateness, dominion, and patriarchy. We tap back into the indigenous memory of mythology and the preserving shrine of nature, which gives us the broad perspective and time-depth that is necessary for wisdom. Wisdom can’t be preserved in a book. Language isn’t big enough, alone, to hold it. Even poetry, which comes close, needs experience to translate and unlock the treasures it holds.

The sun halts in its courses, but it moves back again. Seasons come to their edge, and transform to the next again. Humanity falls down in its destructive Winter of Illusions, but reconnects with the reality of Nature’s spirit of community and thriving life… and heals again.

If we healers are to heal the sicknesses of our world, to help the season change, we’re going to need the long perspective to know where to effectively focus the short. We’re going to need to know who we are and what spot in history we are situated in, as well as what archetypes from mythology we are dealing with. We need to know biology before we can be doctors. We need to know nature to apply its medicine.

Let’s remember to step back, into the cosmos, and watch the dance, learn the steps, and choose our part in it. We aren’t just individuals, born in a geopolitical nation, and privy only to the history since our birth, as people in our civilization tend to think. We can and must expand that to humanity and the earth community… whether or not nations are formed or continued. We should be privy to how things may go as well as how they have gone before, and why.

It isn’t a hard study if you stay curious and just remember to take at least one step back for a longer view of the big picture whenever you consider something.

Humanity has been around so much longer than the couple of thousand years or less that Western civilization has brought with us in cultural memory. You can’t navigate well in a fog of forgetfulness, with only your immediate surroundings visible and only a portion of that understood. Let’s all learn the lay of the land and the times, and the ley of how they all connect. Let’s connect with each other to more powerfully heal the imbalances. Capitalism wants us separated and thinking we’re powerless. But its spell is breaking, as ours is rising. It’s time for the light to overtake the path again.

The sun halts in its courses, but it moves back again. Awake from illusion, learn, and teach again. Blessed Solstice again, and again, and again.

Proud of Preston

Belisama:

Proud of Preston heed my entry
Hear the voice of ancient memories
Hearts purloined by Roman sentries
Like a river shining bright.

Proud of Preston born free traders
Made by commerce and hard labour
Merchants gilded artists favored
Like the Brigantes warred in tribes.

Mechanics shift the scene of battle
Raise the red brick smog industrial
Cording hearts like twisted material
On the wheels of the cotton lords.

Step the Chartists to the engines
Pull the plugs release the tension
The rioters face the sentries
Dye the river dark with blood.

Grey arise the business faceless
Fake fulfillment for the faithless
Mass the market for the tasteless
Selling life for capital.

High in the stone fortress
The sentries hold their rule
Beyond the mall and office
Do you hear a river call?

Proud of Preston I have carved you
In my sweeping spirit formed you
Through your veins floods dazzling water
My Setantii shining bright.

Will you hearken to my entry
Drown false dreams in ancient memories
Will the proud of Preston
Like a shining river rise?

*Belisama is the goddess of the river Ribble, which forms the southern boundary of the city of Preston, Lancashire in northern England. Her name is Gallo-Brythonic and means ‘Most Shining One’ or ‘Most Mighty One’.

**Chartism was a movement that aimed to bring about social reform by winning the vote for working men. After the House of Commons rejected the People’s Charter for the second time in 1842 protestors stormed across Lancashire pulling plugs from steam engines and turning out workers from the factories. On ‘Black Saturday’ policemen opened fire on rioters in Lune Street. Four men were killed and three badly wounded. ‘The Preston Martyrs’ Memorial’ (1992) commemorates their deaths.

***In 2012 this poem won the first Preston Guild Poetry Competition. Preston Guild is celebrated every twenty years. It was an amazing achievement to have been gifted these words by my local river goddess and to have them recognised for longevity. I would like to hope Belisama’s call to the city’s people will be remembered for many centuries to come.