Anava

“I’ve been here before,” she whispered under her breath. She stepped through the rocks and moss and cushiony undergrowth carefully. The trees were gallant and tall. Birds chirped from far away and sunlight glittered through canopy cracks, trickling down to reach the dead leaves and rotting trees below. Familiar and foreign, the landscape seemed to welcome her with outstretched boughs and tiny twig-like fingers; reaching to embrace her and lead her home. It was a happy, unsettling feeling. Butterflies in her stomach.

“Wonderful,” a warm women’s voice said over her. “Now touch, interact, this place is only as real as you make it!”

Anava reached out her hand to touch a small fern growing beside her. The deep green leaves were soft and variegated into thousands of tiny jagged lines. Up and down the spine of the fern she moved her fingertips, savoring the feathery lightness. The leaves then began to sway in a light breeze – she looked to where it was coming from, the Northeasterly direction, and closed her eyes to feel the tiny swirls on her cheeks. “The wind started to blow just now. It’s heavenly,” she whispered again softly, as if to herself.

“I feel it too. And your prickly skin – it’s quite cold here!” The voice laughed, and Anava did too – yes, it was cold. She was feeling hot, so the cooler air was refreshing and felt so great on her skin. She smiled and held her hand out to the sky and wind.

“Exhilarating,” the voice stated. Anava smiled wider and nodded her approval. She had been waiting to come here, she finally decided. Or perhaps, this place was waiting for her. Either way, the feeling was mutual. It was as if a dream had materialized before her, a dream that had no discernment or shape prior – only a feeling. A puff of air on a warm autumn day.

This was the embodiment of a homecoming. She let it sink in, and tried to memorize it all. She might not ever return. In the space of a moment, she suddenly fell full of doubt.

“No – Anava! Stay with it!”

It was too late. Anava felt the trees start to crumble like cake washed away with the rain. The sun light faded, and the birds silenced. She opened her eyes in a jolt.

Rana was seated before her, eyes full of sadness and forehead furrowed. Her warm voice had been guiding her throughout the journey, but now she looked cold as ice.

“I’m sorry Rana, I  – I suddenly felt like I would never see this place again. I began to mourn it in my heart as soon as I thought it. I’m sorry for letting that overtake me so quickly.” Anava wrung her hands and clasped them in her lap, nodding her head down in apology. Ah – she had never made it so far before! And she ruined it with a moment of self-doubt.

“Anava, no – that was wonderful! I have no doubt you will be there again. You will see – have faith in your agency. You are quite gifted. Know it in your heart,” Rana reached over and took her hands in hers and kissed her on her crown. Ana lifted a little, knowing Rana had such faith in her. But it was still unnerving. They had been working through this for a year – and how suddenly it had dematerialized in front of her eyes. How one rogue feeling could swing in and unseat so much hard work.

Rana seemed to feel this same thought coursing through her. She pulled back and put her hands on Anava’s shoulders. “Feelings are powerful, Ana – and you mustn’t let them run the show. YOU run the show, and YOU choose the feelings with which to run it. That doubt is powerful – and although it is fine to feel it, and be with it, and comfort it and let it run its course, while you are in dreamtime you have to guard the gates. Be vigilant. You cannot let that doubt in, or it will take over. In dreamtime, you must imbibe pure confidence. Do you understand?”

Anava looked deep into her eyes. They were hazel, and blue at the center. She suspected they had seen so much in her lifetime, and had traveled far and wide and back again. She felt empowered and comforted by Rana’s guidance and eyes and reassurance. It was as if she was her own mother.

“Yes,” Anava squeaked softly. She cleared her throat – “Yes!” she said again emphatically. No better time to start practicing this confidence and swagger she would need.

Rana smiled. “Alright my girl – that’s it for today.” She rose from the rug where they were seated and stretched her hands high. Her gold bangles tinkling as she moved her limbs – bracelets, ear charms and ankle charms. Rana always sounded like a music composition as she reached this way and that, and walked across the room. Like bells calling from another world.

“Thank you Rana,” Anava rose also, and held her hands at her heart and bowed in thanks. Rana bowed in return and left the room, her gown flowing behind her in a glowy daze. It was a misty blue color today, with some intricate knotting and lattice-work. Anava suspected she handmade all her gowns, as she never saw anything like it in the market or in any nearby city.

Anava turned and grabbed her study book and side satchel from the chair at the other side of the room. They met weekly at Rana’s home – a large manor house that was painted in white and constructed from marble, stone, and mason’s mud. It was always cool, but today the meditation room was hot for some reason. Ana suspected it was due to the depth of their session. She had overhead others discussing how difficult it is to keep people cool while they are in dreamtime – this was why they desired to conduct sessions at dusk.

She started out of the porch and into the gallery, where she ran into Rana’s son Ren.

“Hi Ren, good day?”

“Yeah. Great.” They clasped hands lightly in greeting. Ren looked distracted.

“Are you coming to ceremonies tonight? I heard the others discussing leader Soan’s desire to start initiations – isn’t that exciting?!” Ana tried to override Ren’s distraction. He didn’t seem fazed.

“Yeah. I heard. Not sure if everyone’s ready – but should make it interesting. Maybe I’ll just watch, I don’t know if I’m there yet.” He smiled and shrugged and started to turn away.

“What! No, that’s not true Ren – you are being ridiculous. You are ready.” Ana reached out and gave him a reassuring smile.

“Maybe. But not ready enough for private lessons.” He cocked an eyebrow and kept walking.

Anava stopped in her tracks and watched him walk away. So that was it. Her coming here for lessons. She knew something was bothering him lately. But that would mean… Rana wasn’t giving Ren lessons? Her own son?

Ana suddenly felt incredulous. She had assumed this whole time that Rana would have been coaching them both. Ren was a great student, why in the world would she invite Ana for lessons at her own home and not to her own flesh and blood who lived under her roof?

She frowned as she stalked out and onto the winding path back home. This was not a good feeling. This was not how a wonderful session with her beloved mentor was supposed to end. This wasn’t right.

Did she even know Rana?

You don’t, she answered herself.

You don’t.

Keep going to Part 5

Z+B – Part II

3

“There was a story I heard one time,” Bess began, “about a grey-haloed woman who should’ve but shan’t.”

Bess’s favorite story. Again. Bess had some favorite sayings and creative stories, but none as strange and nonsensical as the story of the ‘Doorway Witch.’ She recounted it a lot, and always took the performance very seriously.

“She shat where she shouldn’t, and she ate and she stank. And she pittered and pattered and crook’ed and cranked. She belted and bungled, she jambled and jangled, she shambled and tangled and strangled and sank.” Bess was sing-song with the random tale, and she touched the stone walls and weaver’s goods, and held her hand out to any windchimes on strings as she passed them.

“That grey-haloed woman met the old-dark man, with nothing about him but silence began. They roamed and they wandered, and somewhere strange traveled, across the Medovian land. They wove and they whistled, they picked and they thistled, across the people they met. And the grey-haloed woman would tap each bristle, singing a song until set.”

“Set?”

“Yeah. Set.” Bess glanced back at him over her shoulder. “Like, created? Formed? I think that’s your closest word for it. Ssthet.” She said it slower, fully emphasizing her slight lisp. The story of the grey-haloed woman was a Medoin story, and in the Medov language, so Bess was recounting the translated version.

“Z, it’s too bad you don’t know Medov, you would love it. Isphair fye, Eihler lye,” she smiled back at him. They were descending down the stone staircase to the main fishing port, where they were sure to find some fish monger breakfast.

Whatever it was she had just said, she was probably poking fun at him. “I told you before, I tried years ago,” Zerian shot back. “It’s too ‘jambled.’ It didn’t stick.” He smirked at her, as she glanced behind her.

“Because there’s more meaning to it than you’re used to. The double meaning. It gets lost quite a bit when translated. I bet you would get the tongue if you tried harder. Your name comes from Medov – I would think that counts for something!” Bess took the stairs two at a time. Zerian followed as best he could, trying to keep up. Bess was an infuriatingly energetic morning person.

Then he finally caught and processed the last part of what she said.

“Wait – Bess, what do you mean my name is Medov? Hold up!” He panted a little when they landed at the bottom of the stairs. It was a good distance down to the port from the main city walls. In some areas it was vertical ladders built into the cliffs. Luckily, this stairway didn’t have any. “Bess, you never told me that before!”

“Yeah. ‘Zerian’ – Zeriphyn. Means prophet. Or wait, maybe it’s shitface…” She looked into the sky thinking hard.

Zerian glowered and made to punch her shoulder a bit too hard, but she turned away in time to dodge it and kept walking.

“Yup, definitely shitface,” she said, bouncing ahead.

Zerian exhaled and kept after her. She was too quick for him at this time of day. In the back of his mind, he wondered how he ended up here with her, of all people. Someone so enigmatic and… erratic for him to fully grasp. So unlike anyone else he had known. The wonders of life.

She was pulling a few rings off her belt in payment for some fish in a steamy broth, with something green slopped over the side of the bowl and a poached egg on top.

“So glad you agreed on getting fish, Z. And what a beautiful morning.” She handed him a bowl to sip, and they leaned against the ropes on the pier. The sun was just over the horizon, gleaming on the sea and sparkling on the small waves. Bright orange against the blue. It was heart medicine to be sure. Zerian decided to forget she had just called him shitface.

He mumbled agreement under his breath. The sea was so beautiful at this time of day, and he breathed in the calming salty air. They rarely had time to come down here. Zerian thanked his difficult sleep for the early sun rise view. He remembered vaguely something about falling in his dream. Or being yanked in the dark… Whatever it was, he didn’t feel like he slept at all.

“Mmmm, yes,” he agreed, the warm broth hitting his stomach like a torch. “Good call on the fish. Wish I had slept as well as you.”

“You’re still sleep stumbling?” Bess asked, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand, ignoring the linen cloth that was wrapped around the bowl.

“Yeah. Stumbling. I guess you can call it that. I just can’t stay rested lately. I keep getting yanked around.”

Bess frowned. “Hmm.” She looked out at the horizon and took a loud slurp of her broth.

“What, no wise saying or prescription of toad-sticks that I should be taking?” Zerian was joking, but he instantly regretted the bit about the toad-sticks.

“Sorry Z. Not this time. But it worries me.” She suddenly turned off her playful demeanor and put on her wiser-than-thou hat. “You should see a Reader.” She paused, and they listened to the hustle of the pier. The sea birds crying out above. The thrash of the waves against the jutting rocks.

“Maybe a Reader will give you the toad-sticks you need.” She slurped up the rest of her eggs and brought her bowl back to the merchant, bowing in thanks.

“Sorry about the toad-sticks Bess,” Zerian followed her, trying to finish his bowl while walking. “But do you really think I should seek a Body Reader? That serious?”

“Maybe. It’s been what, a few months now? Or maybe you just need a punch to the face. I can do that if you want.”

She flashed her smile again.

“No thanks,” he shook his head. “So, maybe after we close up today. Or maybe I could take an hour – would it be OK if stepped out midday? I think I know who I can see about it.” Zerian handed his bowl back to the kindly fish merchant, who was now icing some silvery, gigantic fillets while his fish broth bubbled around behind him.

“Sure, that should be fine,” Bess shrugged. They started up the steps back to the city walls. The air was cold and clear, and as he looked back up at the city the sky was still sparked by a few stars. Specks of glitter winking through the dome of blue.

“But I’m telling you Z, you might like the punch to the face better. A little taste of blood is good for you.”

He laughed, but she was probably serious.

Keep going to Part 4

 

Z + B – Part I

2
Zerian grumbled. The hot sunlight was creaking its way into his eyelids, and he couldn’t fight it anymore. He felt so sore and exhausted. He wasn’t sleeping well lately.

He rolled out of his lumpy bed and onto the rug to stretch. He glanced around at his little apartment above the shop. He stood and put his hands at his heart, as he was taught, and said his morning Grace of Thanks for all the living and all the dead.

He could hear Bess playing her flute on her balcony above his. Her apartment was directly above, and just a bit smaller. The tune she was playing was light and jaunty. Intriguing, as she didn’t usually play so happily.

“Good morning Bess,” he called as he pushed aside the woven doorway and onto the balcony.

She quickly stopped playing and he heard some heavy footsteps.

SWOOSH – she had swung herself from the railing above and tumbled onto his balcony, tucking into a roll and landing on her feet. A true nimble gymnast. “Thank goodness you never move your furniture, Z, or I’d be dead.” She was quite solemn – but Zerian had to laugh.

Bess was wearing a leather-tooled top with four strings that tied behind her neck and back. She was always exposing her midriff for all the universe to behold, before being interrupted by her tawny, gauzy leggings and heavy belt that supposedly kept them in place. She was quite a personality, but to Zerian she seemed like a typical portrait of her people, the Medoin, a primarily nomadic nation that took great pride in boldness and barbarity. She flashed him a challenging and charming smile.

Zerian thought he was in love with her once. It was shortly after they first started working together.

He remembered that golden afternoon when he thought he had said all the right witty things, and she smiled back at him. That same charming and challenging smile. He leaned a little closer – edging for a kiss, maybe – hopeful and optimistic as he was. But then time stood still and Bess busted out laughing at him. He was both confused and insulted, and Bess slapped him on the shoulder.

“Z, you had me going – you cannot be serious,” she almost bellowed.

“I – I am. I feel a connection with you Bess,” Zerian stated, almost pleadingly. Then he turned defensive.

“C’mon Bess – are my feelings lying to me? Are you telling me I’m completely wrong? I totally misinterpreted the intentions?” He bristled. He thought this was a sure thing. He felt attracted to her, and her to him – she couldn’t have ignored their chemistry!

“Zerian boy,” she wiped away a tear of laughter, “You are not in love with me.” She stared deep into him. “You are in love with the idea of me. Not the actual me – the idea of me. And you want that for yourself. If you strived to live like I do, and swagger like the Medoin, then you would have figured out that it was never ME. It was always about YOU.”

Zerian remembered that day clearly, and the way it stripped him. He had been incredulous. First of all – he had never wanted to be like Bess. It was arrogant of her to assume something like that.

Or did he?

Also, when did Bess start talking like a fortune-teller or some kind of know-it-all who could see into his soul?

She was always like that – you just refused to see her that way.

But she didn’t know him that well – only a few months. It was all just conjecture.

A few months is enough time, especially if you are a fortune-teller…

Gah! Zerian shook his head and admonished his ridiculous out-of-line thoughts. Back to the present moment. The one where Bess and him were not in love, the one where he definitely didn’t want to be like her, where she was certainly not some wise sage from the temple high, and the one where she was just a good friend.

A great friend, actually.

Bess was still standing before him, waiting patiently for him to gather his foggy morning thoughts (something she did a lot).

“So – ready to open the shop or you want to break your fast first? I’m in the mood for fish.”

She started towards the door without waiting for an answer. Zerian grabbed his shoes and they pounded down the stairs to the street.

Keep going to Part 3

 

Writing to be Whole, or Being Whole to Write?

I guess I inadvertently took a blogging hiatus, as it’s been a MONTH since my last post. I didn’t mean to, but life got in the way, and I by no means had any kind of blog ‘schedule’ to speak of.

However, in the past month, I have come to realize just how important writing and time to reflect is in my life for my sanity and self-preservation. I have had very little of this in the past few weeks, and I have been paying the price mentally and physically. But now I know how important it is, and I will fight to keep it at the top of my priority list.

If your cup is full, you can pour it out to everyone freely, knowing it will be refilled. Reflection and writing is how I fill that cup – if I don’t get to do this, then I cannot pour out onto others and give as freely as I want. My psyche and body will pay for it.

That being said…. I don’t want to get ‘attached’ to the idea that without blogging or reflection time that I will be miserable – because to believe that will make it so. Coming at it from this frame of mind, I can more easily let go of expectations and frustrations if I somehow don’t get time one week to do it.

Maybe there is another way of filling your cup?

Maybe it is acknowledging that your cup is filled always, if you just ask and intend for it to be that way?

*

I enjoy poking holes in my rhetoric sometimes, and asking myself if I’m getting too attached or averse to certain ideas or concepts. In the end my writing and reflection is just a timely reminder that ideas, concepts and expectations in life do not define me – I am the one who defines them.

Cheers for more reflection time, if it comes or if it does not. Neither one will necessarily make you happier or more blessed. Neither one will make your cup ‘fuller.’ Because you already are!

Writing and reflection just serve as mechanisms to more readily recognize that fact and catapult it. For example: I don’t think I would have come to that conclusion if I hadn’t started writing this. There’s a catch 22 if I ever saw one!

And such is life; a confusing, circular conundrum. I love it.

“Language-twisting-twisting”

Words are always following me. They hang above, trailing me wherever I go. Constantly composing, re-forming, re-stating. Once I have a moment of peace or silence, they flood me like the deluge…. An onslaught of compositions, essays, poetry, and random statements.

I am used to this constant internal narrative. It’s been there for me all along, so it’s all I know. Constant and normal. But I do have to work to keep it productive and not obsessive. Once I open the gates to the flood, it is hard to retain balance. To find the prior equilibrium. I’m working on it, but it is an ongoing battle. A battle I enjoy, really, so I am at least thankful for that!

The more I write these thoughts and think things out in words, the more I find it’s not really about the words at all. The individual words, meanings, or technical skill. It’s not even about the literal story. No… it’s really only about conveying a concept. Communicating a feeling. Incepting pictures to the hearts and minds of others and to myself. The words themselves are meaningless, but together with intention and imagination they create, transform, and build.

Feeling these concepts in my writing, spirited and soulful concepts, is the goal. I hope I am on the right track. It feels good, and moves me passionately, so I think I am stepping in the right direction. The pictures of the soul are so much more communicative than any human written piece could aspire to be. Transformative, intimate, touching. These pictures are the ones I reach for and hope to glimpse.

Amazonian shamans have a distinct relationship with words. They talk and describe their spiritual journeys and ayahuasca dreams in far-reaching metaphors that seem nonsensical to the outsider – but they make perfect sense to them. They tell us that this is the only way one can know the unknowable and examine the unseen. To get close. To glimpse.

They describe this as tsai yoshtoyoshto, which means “language-twisting-twisting.”

In his wonderfully readable memoir about his studies in the Peruvian jungle with indigenous peoples, The Cosmic Serpent, author and anthropologist Jeremy Narby posits why they must speak in twisted language – the “language that is double and wrapped around itself.” The shamans use their koshuiti, or particular song they sing, during their hallucination dreams in order to communicate with what they are seeing. They say:

“With my koshuiti I want to see – singing, I carefully examine things – twisted language brings me close but not too close – with normal words I would crash into things – with twisted ones I circle around them – I can see them clearly.”

Here, we could infer that normal language does not let us know these concepts adequately. We need the metaphoric meaning, as this is the only real way to see. Mental pictures cannot be described in mere words. They are concepts, feelings, pictures that reach beyond and within the self.

I have been writing my poetry stream-of-consciousness style for a while now, and I am only just grasping the pictures and concepts that it conveys to me. When I write, I try to let it flow unhindered, and it naturally comes out in rhyme. I’ve decided not to fight it – indeed, maybe rhyme is the best way of seeing the universe?

I will heed to the “language-twisting-twisting” as it shows me what I cannot see in this rationalistic, brain-based world. It shows me the language of the heart…in singsong.

*

I want to know, but feel unrest.
I want to formulate the best.
And so I must take my time…

Pyramids are built in rhyme.

Context

My spiritual and intellectual journey had been fairly touch and go up to this point. When it rains, it pours. As of the present moment (summer 2015) this is the longest most in-depth period that I’ve written, read and reflected about spirit and intellect. In the past I would go through phases like this and eventually something more ‘grounded’ would divert my attention (i.e. weddings, layoffs, job hunting, having a baby, etc.). But among the past phases, there occurred two moments that have touched me spiritually in a way that I have never forgotten, and continue to look back upon again and again. Crucial moments of context in my personal journey. And both of them had me weeping over a journal of my thoughts.

The first was when I was 14. I was overcome with sadness one evening – or so I thought – and was compelled to sob and sob for people or circumstances I didn’t know or… I couldn’t fathom what it could be. I wrote about this strange melancholy moment and noted a spiritual aspiration in my journal, relating to a dream I had with an eagle flying high above me. At the time I just thought I was being overly sensitive and emotional. In hindsight I feel like it was a calling, a reminder of some kind. My heart expressing itself, urging me on to something beyond myself.

The second was nine years later in my senior year of college. I watched a movie called “What the Bleep Do We Know” with some friends. The movie was entertaining and presented a lot of concepts that I had already read about and discussed with others, but there was something within me that ‘clicked’ after watching it – like all the feelings and thoughts I had had up until that point had coalesced and suddenly…broke open.

I was overcome with joy. Powerful joy. So powerful, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wandered. I left the group to be alone and do the one thing I knew that would help make sense of it: write.

So I started writing in my notebook, trying to put this feeling into words, and as I sat on the floor, tears streaming, I wrote  one of the most inspired pieces I have ever written. It was a message of simplicity, love, and light years ahead of where I was spiritually at the time. Admittedly, I am only now grasping the totality of what I wrote in that moment. Ten years have passed since then and I am only now finally feeling these pieces start to come together.

Here is an excerpt of that entry, written on the blue-carpeted basement floor of the house I was living in exactly ten years ago from this very entry. I had to stop writing after this, as I was out of words to write. I feel that the true concept of unity can only be felt. Words only get you so far.

There is no point in trying to be closer to ‘nature’ because we are nature; every one of us. We are one with nature at every minute of our lives. We cannot be separated from it no matter what we try. We are nature. We are God. We are Unity.  Sometimes I am overwhelmed with feelings of great unity. Unity with myself, the air, the carpet, my friends, my thoughts. This feeling is so powerful, and moves me so deeply, that I cannot put it into words. I fill with love and cry tears of joy. I am God. I am You. I am Me.

And so it is today the same as it was then. This ‘Unity’ I spoke of is a little more defined in my heart and mind, but no less an enigma that cannot be fully described – only felt. This love, this joyful catalyst of the heart, overflows – and my cup runneth over.

 

Words Made Manifest

It feels good to get words out on a page. Cathartic; a release. A way to make sense of the swirling, thrashing thoughts in your head that come from everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.

Words are differentiators. They define and describe. They cause and effect. They move mountains and hearts. They are powerful – but they can also be toxic. They can be ‘slings and arrows’ tipped in poison.

Useless garbage. Clutter.

This is the light and dark contrast that I wrestle with when it comes to writing. I hope to create a space where I can express what’s in my heart and mind without muddling things up.

If in the end my words just fill space, at least they serve a small purpose to me. Because once I let them out, I can move on …. in thought and in spirit.

This seems vague, but isn’t everything? I often feel that all of life is vague…we are the ones who choose to make it not so.

About me:

Aspiring human. Relentless thinker. Emotional wanderer. Intuitive grasper. You can read more about the ‘We Are Starlings’ title here.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer but I’ve never made the space for commitment. Here it is now.