Cracking Cauldrons

celtic spirituality family Grieving story

What will hold your feet to the ground, when the winds of change try to carry you away?

Even through Terry’s illness I still had a spiritual practice. I would find my way up the hill to our studio every few days, bow and raise the spirit of the Swan. My dance was hurt, even stumbling, but I still called that sacred bird out from my own soul. In those few minutes I could iron something out of the world around me that made sense, that felt like spirit, that was beautiful to me.

Its over 2 years out from her passing and I feel like I’m just getting ready to tend to those feathers again. Its been clear from what the spirits have told me, what I’ve felt inside, that I’ve had a lot of repair work to do.

I’ve been filling cracks in cauldrons.

From 2 1/2 years ago:
She was on her mattress in the middle of the living room floor as she had been every night since our bed became too uncomfortable. I was so relieved to have made it through another day, the promise of sleep close at hand for all of us. I was two arm lengths away, she didn’t need me any closer – we already went over that. But she needed me there.

I put the kids down first, laying with Truly, reading to her until she fell asleep. She loved to wiggle and play for a bit before she let the story carry her away. Then on to cuddle Tadg and maybe work on Harry Potter or talk about his day, until he fell asleep. I might allow myself the great pleasure of drifting off with him, she would remind me to lay near her soon.

Then back to her couch, the one I bought as a special gift, the one she spent so much time on getting sicker and sicker. I slept on my belly, my face and drool hanging over the edge, knowing I had a few hours before one of them woke me. I tried hard not to think about anything. I kept reeling my mind back in like a fish fighting the line. It would dart towards open waters, into worry, before I drew it back, watching it carefully as it meandered before trying to escape again. I tracked it until the deep darkness swallowed me.

“Daddy, I’m scared, will you come cuddle me.” True woke me first.

Alcohol infused exhaustion had soaked into my head like a narcotic. Breathe, rub my face, put myself onto those unlikely looking feet I’m supposed to stand on. After True goes down Tadg wakes me, then its Terry’s turn. She’s been taking a very high dose of THC before bedtime, which is the hardest medicine she’s had to take. She hates it. She awakens shaking, not knowing who she is. I hold her hands and speak gently, close so she feels my breath on her cheek.

“You are Terry Ellis, you are at home with your family. We all love you so. Do you want me to sing to you?”
“Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River…”
She starts to breath more normally again.
“I’m OK, I’m OK, I’ll be OK…” she drifts off and is gone again before the song is done.

I pee and then back to the couch. Its 4am, I have 2 hours more of sleep. I don’t need an alarm. My body will get up no matter what. There is so much to do tomorrow, but I can do it, I will do it. I will be OK. I am not dying, she is.

She is dying.

She is still in my dreams almost nightly, but its not her spirit visiting so much as me learning to seperate from her with more clarity. I still want her here, want it all to be OK. But I whimper less, am better able to stand on my simple, single feet. Honoring her feels different than clinging to the past.

Even with the dreams I wake up rested, usually by 6. Instead of starting her coffee enema or pressing raw juice I do 30 minutes of yoga in the quiet before the kids wake up. When I started out 8 months ago I could barely do the easiest poses. It wasn’t that I was too tight (sure I was) or that I lost my breath, I just wasn’t all the way here.

Start slow, only do a portion of what you can, and you’ll get stronger. You must learn to under-extend yourself.

There is a celtic tradition known as the Three Cauldrons, immortalized by Amergin in The Three Cauldrons of Poesy. There are three cauldrons within each of us, one in the low belly, one in the heart and one in the head. They represent the seats of the important energies of our lives:

    • The cauldron of warming in the belly, containing the vital energy we are all born with.
    • The cauldron of vocation or motion in the heart. We are born with this cauldron on its side, we all need to discover our path in life as we live and grow to set it right.
    • The cauldron of knowledge or knowing in the head. We are born with this cauldron upside down. If we are lucky, and pursue wisdom in life, this cauldron may be righted, and we may know the glories that clear vision bestows.

I had clearly cracked my cauldron of warming, then packed it with things I did not want to look at, cementing it all together with beer or wine so I could still make the next day happen for everyone. My core was more of a sieve, I couldn’t contain energy I was raising. Its sobering to recognize the damage you have done to yourself, what happens when you purposely ignore your limits through a crisis. Our cauldrons are not invulnerable.

But they can be healed.

For the first time in my life I focused on exercise that didn’t hurt, anything. I allowed 20 minutes of breathing to be my hard work for the day. I accepted less as the pathway to more. I gave up running, intentionally, because it created stress for me. I started to lean towards the prayer the spirits have been asking me to focus on.

Caring for her was my prayer then, now I have to learn a new way to pray.

Today my warming caldron is healed, though I’m still finding darkness, buried toxicity to clear. Now its my own spirit that wakes me at night, giving me a chance to sit and breathe, clearing energy, looking at things I brushed aside when I had more to hold than I could. The kids have their own small beds beside mine. They can sleep in their own rooms or here with me, they always choose to sleep in my room. In the dim light I can look to my right to see a miracle, then look to my left to see a miracle.

Pull the mind back, feel the energy, what am I hiding from, what am I avoiding seeing?

We are never born with all cauldrons upright, most of us aren’t even aware they exist, until something bumps us, pushes us harder than we’ve ever been pushed. I see I still have blocks in my heart to steady that cauldron there. The spirits tell me there is still a haze in my mind that I will clear soon. I just need time, perhaps by a lake, to relax, release, and let the truth arise.

I have time, if I am patient, all will find its right balance.

I wish all of you who read this the time to receive from life, to gather your inner resources and strengthen yourself during this time of great change. I know many of you are under tremendous pressure. Some are facing catastrophic health issues, others are having old trauma and ancient fears drudged up while we face the darkness of our past, the failings of our government, and the ongoing struggle to attain true liberty. I hope during this time we can all still step out of our shoes, feel the earth beneath us and just breath. Sometimes that is all we can do, and often, it is enough.

Blessings to you and yours during this time of great change.

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