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Geoff Oelsner’s PONderings
Dear PON Friends,
It’s coming on Halloween, Samhain, the time the Celts believed that the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world is thinnest, allowing spirits such as the Sidhe (the “People of Peace,” the faery folk) to more easily cross from subtle realms into our world. The ancient Celts often left food and drink out to please the spirits to ensure that their population and livestock stayed healthy during the harsh winter.
Souls of the dead were believed to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Food or drink was sometimes prepared for their visits. Mumming (wearing disguises) was part of the seasonal festival, which involved people going door to door in disguise, reciting rhymes in exchange for food. The original trick-or-treating!
(The Celtic Halloween)
In the season leaves should love,
since it gives them leave to move
through the wind, towards the ground
they were watching while they hung,
…Now when dying grasses veil
earth from the sky in one last pale
wave, as autumn dies to bring
winter back, and then the spring,
we who die ourselves can peel
back another kind of veil
that hangs among us like thick smoke.
Tonight at last I feel it shake.
I feel the nights stretching away
thousands long behind the days
till they reach the darkness where
all of me is ancestor.
I move my hand and feel a touch
move with me, and I brush
my own mind across another,
I am with my mother’s mother.
Sure as footsteps in my waiting
self, I find her, and she brings
arms that carry answers for,
intimate, a waiting bounty,
“Carry me.” She leaves this trail
through a shudder of the veil,
and leaves, like amber where she stays,
a gift for her perpetual gaze.
~ Annie Finch
This month I want to lift up a beautiful and unitive facet of song and chanted poetry: their power to evoke and invoke spiritual energies for help and healing. This includes the energies of all the Plant and Animal Powers. Do you feel close to or even at one with certain animals, insects or plants? Or are you perhaps sensitive to angels or other high vibratory light beings? It may be more than enough for you to enjoy a wordless communion for whatever you attune to, but be open to the possibility of receiving words or a song. Writing them down and chanting or singing them can strengthen your connection.
I had a peaceful experience of such intimacy early one morning a few months ago and wrote this poem to re-invoke it:
Who Am I (5 a.m.)
The owl’s call is full of its knowing of kin
The forest pours its who’s to other tufted ears
Soon feathered answers whir around the hill
Hoots loop the eastern slope where I sit on our porch
in kinship with all who sing who I am in the silence before dawn
~ Geoff O
For untold millennia Native Americans have received spirit-songs from totemic powers that help them tap miraculous healings, avert storms, break droughts, and provide needed information, direction and protection.
At different times in my life, I have experienced a totemic sense of affinity or some degree of oneness with Lion, Rhinoceros, Turtle, Red-Tailed Hawk, Carolina Wren, Owl, Blue Jay, Red Headed and Pileated Woodpeckers, Red Winged Blackbird, Red Fox, Buffalo, Seal, Mantis, Earthworm, and, among plants, Oak Trees and Mullein. Once in a while I sing, chant, dance, visualize or dream to strengthen or revivify one of these energetic links. Sometimes a new song comes to me in a dream.
Here’s a poem Gary Snyder wrote about an interspecies meeting of minds that took place “Here in the Mind.” The poet receives and passes these words of power on to us:
Sat down on excavation gravel
by juniper and desert S.P. tracks
interstate 80 not far off
howling and yapping from a rise.
Magpie on a bough
Tipped his head and said,
“Here in the mind, brother
I wouldn’t fool you.
Smell the breeze
It came through all the trees
No need to fear
Snow up on the hills west
Will be there every year
be at rest.
A feather on the ground–
The wind sound—
Here in the Mind, Brother,
~ Gary Snyder
What might you receive if you attune to a particular animal, plant, or other aspect of Nature you resonate with? A poem, a song, a wordless communion? Nothing at all is fine too. Make no effort, simply invite. Let us know if you want to share something that comes to you.
"May your own special animal of Light come safely to you."
~ Kenneth Patchen (American visionary, pacifist poet, novelist, and artist, 1911-1972)
All My Relations,