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selva oscura
i look into the mirror. a stranger’s face flashes in the glass. the woman’s face is green and gold, rooted and primal, alarming to glance. she is crowned with roots and jewels, donned in strange finery. i must not have seen such an image. i turn away and the image vanishes, confirming my guess, but then i’m seeing her face again. over mine. instead of mine. i am fearful of the face. i don’t understand why i am seeing it. it disappears from my perspective. i am again relieved, but slightly less so. i decide to distract myself with another task and feel certain the mirror will return to normal mirror behavior if i don’t let my eyes catch it from the side. even as i strategize, i see the image a third time and am overcome with fear: then i realize i couldn’t possibly be seeing what i think i am seeing, that it must be a dream and riding on that last startle i wake up, then wake up again, then wake up again. awake but not awake yet, awake inside the dream, i puzzle in a bed i didn't fall asleep in about how i could ever manage to write down such a dream. i wonder how worthwhile it is, to write down such a dream when i’ve written it down so many times before. in the dream i was in layers of waking and dreaming and documentation; it truly felt like i must have already written this dream down. [dream (concluding fragment), 3-28-2018 3:40AM, at a hotel in the northwest chicago suburbs]

yesterday's spring equinox ritual, culminating in a dialogue with that face in the mirror:

1.
writing myself awake.

the shape of it, i know the shape of it. the shape things will take. the shape of things to come. shape it out of nothing: we are as we are, we are what we are, no more, no less: shapes cut out of that swatch of oblivion, what we are before waking, that is who we are before we remember the shape of, the shape of, the shape:


2.
beauty has been made into an obstacle. it was supposed to be a beacon, a calling out to the beloved; to bring together, to couple in divine ecstasy. instead, now, it is a gate through which only a few may pass. instead, now, it is a facade with nothing behind it, an unattainable, unsustainable, ultimately meaningless metric intended to isolate and wound. instead, now, beauty has been reduced to the consumer commodity of physical attractiveness. physical attractiveness cannot be maintained. beauty simply changes form.

what is beauty? do we know how to see it? do we know what we find beautiful, or are we being told? who is beautiful, and how is that beauty received? is an experience of beauty acknowledged as a gift, or is it expected as a parasitic entitlement? is an experience of beauty acknowledged as a gift, or is it used to take something away? when we name someone beautiful, is that simply one of the many names we give them, or is it the only name we allow? do we negotiate beauty by abandoning it to itself? do we limit beauty to one unsustainable moment's perfection, or do we allow it to evolve?

in the dream, you recoiled in fear when you saw my reflection in place of your own. in waking reality, you recoil from your own reflection. where is beauty in this equation? if you will not give beauty to yourself, how can you give it to anyone, at least not in a way that is ultimately destructive? gaze through what you are afraid of seeing in your mirror. know it is there, if not necessarily in the way you are afraid of it.

self-hatred is a warding.
it keeps you from your own magic.
it cuts you off from source.
source longs for you as you long for source.
source longs for your return.


3. the green woman, from the wildwood tarot, mark ryan & john matthews, illustrated by will worthington. sterling, 2011.


3.
looking into your own eyes, what do you remember? do you remember the words of a beloved (you are allowed to have more than one), do you remember the words of a song, do you remember anything at all? memory is an act of worship. it is a holy offering. it is a form of sustenance, a path out of oblivion, a way to keep oneself this side of eternity. it is our oldest ritual, and, like beauty, it can be turned against any of us at any moment in time. be wary of any mortal who wields memory as a weapon. to control. to chastise. to limit and shame. they have lost the path. they have forgotten who they are: or they never gave it a real thought in the first place, a greater evil than overt acts of sabotage: apathy. those who are not living for something are not living for anything. when the time comes to cross over, there will be nothing left of them to cross. they will end. they will cease. they will not transform. they have chosen to end themselves.

memory is something to live for. live for it. live through it.

memory is an act of worship. it can, however, also be used to wound: and, sometimes, memory itself is a wound. when it hurts to remember, we must remember more. not necessarily of what wounds us, though that will be part of the process eventually. we must remember why we remember. why memory is our birth rite, our source, our most revolutionary act. we live in a time of forgetting. we live in a time in denial of time. we live in a society that exploits a romanticized notion of memory for profit but ultimately delivers nothing worthy of remembering. costly experiences that will only build craving for the next costly experience. beauty and memory have been distorted, have been abused, have been depleted in the service of the wealthy oblivion of an ugly few. who are you in a world like this? what do you see when you look into your own eyes?


4.
fear can be a tool. fear can be protective. fear can be a warding, keeping you away from your true path. fear can block out the space around what your path truly is: fear can tell you who you are. what you need. what you desire. like beauty, like memory, the nature of fear is not one thing or another. like memory, like beauty, what matters is not the existence of fear, but how fear is interpreted. what are you afraid of? how does your fear demonstrate who you are? who you've been? who you will be, moving out of this moment and into eternity?

fear shapes us. it is one of our core influences. it brings us to who we are, just as sure as it takes us from who we might be. what if, instead of letting fear direct our behaviors, dictate that which we will and cannot do, we learned to dance with it? what if we let fear shade the landscape, allow us to see things we might not have otherwise seen, experience the world in a strange and distinct way? what if we simply stayed with our fear as a loved one, not an antagonist, not an executioner? fear of, fear of, fear of what?

all the things we remember, fearfully. all the fantasies we construct under the guidance of fear. the stories we tell ourselves. the limitless possibilities of things that can go wrong. fear is a creative irritant. fear can be a healing poison. will you sit with fear today, for a minute, will you let your fear have its say instead of trying to repress it, minimize it, silence everything in service of silencing fear? what has fear given you? can you iterate those gifts of fear? dance with those gifts. dance with that mystery. find beauty in the memory of fear.


 
 
music: jeff greinke - metal from the sky