HearthkeepersMay 11, 2023
I’m cleaning the kitchen, I mean REALLY cleaning it. My Mother would call my kitchens current state a shit-mess! It has been weeks since the…
I’m cleaning the kitchen, I mean REALLY cleaning it. My Mother would call my kitchens current state a shit-mess! It has been weeks since the…
Grief is different now. I see it’s always been there, invisible to people until we happen to stumble over it. Once you’ve seen it, not just a small dose, but the giant-soaking-you-where-you-stand dose, you’ll always see it.
Doesn’t this little circle of pets say everything? We come in beauty, we pass in beauty. We are all connected, here to revere each other as sacred even as we struggle with loss.
That is why, on Christmas eve, hours before I was going to perform my full Santa gig, I was driving to pet stores with Truly and our new eight week old German Shepherd puppy, “Dandelion”, looking for the right food, right collar, right treats, right everything.
It is so glorious to feel the merciless cold pulling at you as you reach deeper into spirit.
Why do we grieve at all? Wouldn’t it be more helpful for some switch to flip in our brains when a close member of our…
There was a tradition among my ancestors, up until about the 12th century, called the Fianna. If you were a young man, maybe 14…
I’ve been working on a bigger writing project, a book about the first four years since Terry’s death. It’s what I had to write just so I could write about something else, anything else. Saying what needs to be said seems to be a requirement for storytellers. I now have a manuscript titled “Wilder Grief”.
That’s how we’re all connected, only we can’t remember it. We’re all in the sun together, enjoying the light.
Fathers Day. OK, this one feels different. I think a lot of us widows/widowers track how anniversaries and holidays feel from year to year. I…
True’s bed is now a tent in the living room. It’s been there for about a month. I drag her out of her sanctuary at…
On my way into town the same stump always catches my eye. The winter snows pulled back a month ago, revealing its dark stature against…
“Her body wasn’t strong enough to hold her spirit anymore, so she had to leave…” It’s impossible for me to accept that our beginning came…
Animals were the first beings they had to negotiate their own relationship with, on their own terms.
We already knew how to lay down together, wrap our tails around each other…
The craft of hope is no longer a challenge to me, so much as honoring its value in the world.
I’d be teaching my kids wonderment, full time.
How many times has their joy saved me? Too many to count.
I will tend my Dragon and pray to the dirt to make this an island of peace.
Dedicated to Alicia Luengas Gates 1936 – 2020
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…
Has loneliness made our seeking stronger, made us each hungry again? I think that makes each of us a little holy. That is surely a good thing.
We don’t know whats coming next. But we have each other. And what remains will be good, beautiful and worthy of all of our talents and wisdoms.
I suspect that is all magic really is: our relationship to true wildness. It is in the movement of water over rocks, the way fire travels, the song of soil remaking itself across eons.
Doves survive, endure and thrive.
Its more exciting to say it began with hamster entrails on the living room floor, but it didn’t. That was a few days after the…
“Daddy what happened to Momma’s skin?”
“What do you mean, when she was sick?”
“No, when she died.”
“So you mean when we put her in the Earth?”
Its so fulfilling to turn around and see another citizen of the house nesting there, breathing love in, breathing love out.
I guess we were all wound a little too tight for a game as potentially violent as croqu
Today I untethered the cart
and felt the space we’d made in me,
empty cupped hands.
What can live there now?
My invisible wings are vast,
not angel wings,
or Eagle or Hawk.
They are rare though,
soaring gifts from another world …
here are times when I come up to wake them for school and they’ve found each other and are so entangled I can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. If I go away for a few days I know so long as they’re sleeping next to each other our littlest one will be fine. They comfort each other in ways a phone call from me can’t.
What will it be like, someday, when my children are running through the forest after I’ve died? Will they feel me with them, sharing in their joy?
I think thats why it can be difficult to talk about that doorway, I disappear completely. There are no words, and little thought. Absolute silence from within.
Its one of those things you do together that reveals who you really are. We were always people who would take the road less traveled, even when it was hard, and find all the beauty that was to be had there.
I don’t know how to process all of that – how to be delightfully pregnant with possibilities and holding grief at the same time? Can I feel all of that without curling up in a ball with a case of cookies, a bottle of wine and every episode of the X-files?
Isn’t it funny that my cure for loneliness is learning to be alone again?
It turns out I’ve been carrying around a floating divorce of sorts. Terry and I did not say “’til death do us part” in our wedding vows. Now I understand why people include that clause. If the spirits are real to you, tangible in your life, does your marriage really end after death?
There is a young man, sitting in jail halfway around the world, who tried harder than anyone I know to escape the gravity of life….
Routine is supposed to be especially important when you’ve suffered the loss of a parent. The ritual of our days, centering mostly around school, hold…
I would like to carry her
down this hallway,
my sometimes tender
often edgy bird,
to lay her on the waiting bed.
The Earth is really a place of great feeling, we’ve just been raised to hold ourselves back from it
This gorgeous young man painted from head to toe with every moment of his Mothers love is sleeping without fear. You know his rest is unblemished, it is still the sleep of young, wild things.
I saw her encompasing all of us with love. It is not a romantic love, its a Mothers love. A radiant, transcendant, utterly pure of heart, Mothers love.
We’re not ready to move on,
we’re ready to move in,
The cauldron of our family
will remake us again,
not seperate from Momma,
but with her on the other side.
Widower. Thats the new job title. Objectively of course it fits. We were married almost 15 years. The kids and I celebrated our anniversary by…
One things for sure, you are not anywhere to be found in all the paperwork I’m dealing with. I’m struck by how little all that stuff has to do with you. The important crap of life turns out to be total crap after all.
We sat together in that place of no refuge.
Our girl is now bigger than popcorn ever was. It used to be her feet found the world, now its her eyes, her fingers, her…
What can you give someone at their passing, who, seemingly effortlessly, held open a door for you that led everywhere? If I had every day, for the rest of my life, to walk down the many paths that open door made available to me, I wouldn’t even begin to explore the potential that is there.
When you’re under a spell your life can feel like that: this is not real, this is not how things are supposed to be, yet you’re trapped. This insanity has become the new real. It feels like you’re farther away from whats real than you ever have been before, but really the opposite is true. This middle place is closer to the new real than you realize, you just have more to pass through.
But for those of us who know that magic must disguise itself in our world, it was clearly the head and spine of a recently fallen majestic being.
These moments pass between us, each one different, like tiny speckled quail eggs we’re sharing with each other. Trust becomes a tangible thing when you’re on a journey like this. Its become part of my daily mantra: trust & patience, trust & patience, trust & patience…
The Forest stole my hiding place and made it into a celebration of connection. Everyone (including our dog Bella) spent this Fathers Day in the…
Relax – that’s what I know my job is now, that’s the message I get when I check in. This is not an easy task…
I don’t know why I thought enormous stress, lack of sleep, and Terry’s health crisis would magically not impact my fear of flying. Yes I’d…
I tell myself I’m being there for them, but I know its the other way around, they are my life raft. She snuggles under my…
We have to feed it to them carefully, sensuously, even though we know when they eat it they’ll feel like they’re dying. But how else can they be reborn?
Its been storming hard here for weeks, they’re starting to call it the 100 year flood…maybe. The hillsides, sometimes barren from drought or fire, seem…
Mending asks us to sing.
Mending may require dance.
Mending asks us to allow ourselves to be filled with light.
Mending asks us to grow.
Mending requires that we receive as well as give.
I miss the dignity of an inauguration that included a poet like Maya Angelou. Hearing her read “On the Pulse of Morning” made me feel for a time like I, who wrote many poems back then, was actually somehow a relevant part of this nation.
You can’t love this place without making room for the ways we’ve scared it. Our injuries conjure forth its vitality, dispelling any doubt in its regenerative power. It is not only vulnerable, it is vulnerability, that is the nature of vital places.
To look into Cear’s eyes was to stare into your own soul. Once upon a time… there was child born into the world of dreams….
How do you reclaim wildness, when you are part of a culture hell bent on minimizing or destroying everything wild? How do you embody the presence of an animal to call forth your humanity?
I’ve been indulging in a rare pleasure recently – watching something that lasts more than 15 minutes (my current self-designated guilty Papa-pleasure allotment.) Stranger Things on Netflix has…
When did it start for you – that deep ache that was also a yearning waiting to be lived? I remember the moment acutely, my feet dangling over the edge of the back seat of Grandpa’s old Buick, feeling so small, like a leaf waiting to be blown out to sea.
When I was making my rounds that fateful day, I was being shown that my work with the Sidhe is always happening. Its really about a quality of presence and relationship to life that never ends. Everything has to fit within that connection.
…I journeyed to the spirit of the Slough, finding an ancient woman twisting her yarn at a spinning wheel, weaving out the eons singing to the tap of her wheel. Listening to her spinning song slowly turned me to gunpowder-black dust. She sang, wove and spun until I became a small bird perched on her wheel transformed by her radiance.
I’ve been feeling lately, like so many of my friends, that I’m sitting at an important crossroad. I understand that I need to move forward, but have not really been given the direction yet. So I sit with potential, and that can feel oddly frightening, like you’re pausing at a threshold while something ominous and unknown draws closer.
I suspect somehow that our wonderment actually feeds the Earth.
When it first arrives, you think there’s been some kind of a mistake, surely it meant to sit down next to someone else. You distract yourself, move on, until you finally realize its not going anywhere. So you spend time together, without really acknowledging it exists because, lets face it – you know grief, you’ve been there before. You don’t need any kind of re-introduction. Sure you can tag along if you want to, but don’t get too comfortable.
“What are you on about man…why are you trying to keep out the Ocean with that thin wattle?” The youngest Cian often spoke without thinking, as was typical of young people then, just as it is now.
We’re like forest rangers for a forest nobody around us believes exists. We setoff into that world, sometimes stumble into it ourselves waking or dreaming, to work with the spirits there, to heal to bring balance, to remember soul in life. I suppose in a way, thats special. But sometimes I think it shouldn’t be.
To finally destroy them in our culture they first had to be painted as physically real, then evil, then slain, replacing many Gods with one God. But if Dragons are larger forces of nature, they cannot be slain anymore than you could kill the rain or wind.
This is the journey available to us if we open to it, the yearning we feel for something more profound, and the answers nature offers us.
Our two year old has developed a seriously respectable roar in the last few months…
When we were out on a lake, Dad thought of me less as a son he’d taken fishing and more like a somewhat lame first-mate. He needed me to get the boat on and off the trailer, so I would do, but just barely so. He was kind to me, but within the understanding that, as far as fishing went I was a bit limited.
Language, way of life, much of what we do in the West actually DRIVES us away from the palpable presence of our own souls…
Its funny how water connects us and pulls us apart. He was the one who dragged me out of that lake when I nearly drowned all those years ago, now I’m driving his ashes, my Mom, son, and artifacts that story 45 years of their life in Utah out to the coast.
Since the big rains came, the Mushroom People have come out in numbers I’ve not seen in a decade. Everywhere I turn a new village appears, populated by fascinating folks.
I’d almost forgotten how deliciously ferocious our weather can be.
It was for that reason I was acutely aware of the power released as the roosters spirit passed.
The crucible of the alchemist, the container for his life opus, is symbolized by the egg. It is out of this crucible the true self, radiant self, finally emerges after the struggle of transformation. Tonight I’m stricken by the transformation of my daughter, considering the last two years and nine months – the world that made the crucible that fosters her emergence.
When I find myself in a forest I feel that I am the one being understood, not the other way around. Its as if my spirit is finally free to expand to its biggest size and once there, it finds itself wholly encompassed by something much larger and more mysterious than I can ever fully understand.
It was in just such a dream-place a few nights ago I was taken aside by some people I’d never met. They talked to me about a topic I must keep private, after a while we ended by sharing some food of the Sidhe (the Faerie folk).
To acknowledge that the old way is dying, to grieve it and the many losses that go with it, but realize also…
Now being loved this much is of course AWESOME, the first 5,000 times it happens.
Dismemberment is not a metaphor, nor is it a recent phenomena. Its one of those core human experiences that points to a universal spiritual terrain we all walk as human beings.
Its finally happened, the Dragons are waking up after sleeping for millennia. Halfway around the world three Dragon lairs have appeared this summer, proportedly first swelling then blasting their way open.
By the time I caught up with True, she was carefully examining a tan, three foot long Bull Snake stretched elegantly across the front path.
My family has a lot of good stories I may never share. Some because they belong to all of us and are still unfolding, some because they don’t belong to me at all. They belong to my wife, my son, and now my daughter.
The heartache I feel when my son is just away for the day at school still takes me by surprise. I want to hold his fierceness tightly, bury him in my heart until his hysterical laughter blows everything wide open.
Holding her takes on greater power every day, not for her but for me. I can feel her relaxing into me, I can feel that she knows everything is going to be OK because she’s in Papas arms.
The problem is you’re doctoring souls and nobody cares about their own soul anymore…
I was wide awake at the wheel when the Elk danced into my headlights. He was big, just under 300 lbs from the sheriffs report. I moved to the right to avoid, he dance to the right, I moved back, he jumped back.
Death comes into our lives in many different ways. People sometimes think that because we get to work with spirits, and the processes of the psychopomp, that death transforms into something easy, perhaps even palatable.
There is nothing like holding a child, feeling its breath move through you and out into the world. It is the essence of hope, and what flows from that is peace – deep peace.
Just two days ago I invoked a number of my deceased friends as part of a ritual performance I had the great honor of performing for the Foundation For Shamanic Studies Council gathering. It was a way of calling out to those who I felt suffered from the lack of any real method of accessing the worlds shamans know so well.
As a new dad I was not used to giving up so much of my inner space. I’d already given up the solitude of going to the bathroom alone, did I really need to give up the privacy that sleep offers?
We are there again, in that tiny bucket rushing down a river too fast to know where we are going or what is right in front of us.