death, dreams, health, love, myth, nature, psychology, weather

The Egg Moon & The Deer-Woman

The Firebird Does Not Learn

She is an egg and every shadowed glance,
every silent forest destroys her.
She is newborn and the shark-tooth grit
of the earth clings to her wet eyes.
She is in flames, the jeweled fire
that everyone remembers,
and then, what she had not foreseen,
She is burned and not consumed.
Burned. She feels her feathers
knit together. Burned. It hurts her
to heal. She is still.
She dreams of the next dawn,
a darkness, a nest of ash.

‚ÄĒ¬†Kate Horowitz

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Tonight was the full moon. The 9th of April. The Pink Moon. The Egg Moon. Even the word April sounds like rain; it spittles from the mouth with the open promise, the gathering of air for the “A” and the plosive “pr” ending with the tongue lap of “l” at the back of the teeth. Water held back, pressed behind the dam. But that rain, as the rhyme goes, the April showers hold the promise of May flowers. Considering the wild rains Portland tends to get on the regular, I¬†would wager that despite a couple of stellar 70 degree days that visited us early in the week, there is still a good bit of watery April left and that will require some patience. Next full moon‚ÄĒThe Milk Moon. The Flower Moon.

Luckily, the flowers are already showing their pretty faces in the garden; purple and pink hyacinth carries on the air like a honeysuckle perfume, the camellia trees in my yard bloom bright red, some mottled with white stripes, the yellow, white and violet crocus and buttery daffodils are plenty, and the tulips have unfurled their emerald green bunny ears, though the buds are still closed tight as peapods, so many meditative eyelids, dreaming something deep and colorful. A flurry of cherry tree blossoms drift into the yard; heavy Spring wind casting a false snow, a white mimicry of Winter’s last stand.

While wandering the perimeter of the house, I found a lonely patch of trillium, a tri-fold of green heart leaves lifting up triangular white flowers, a basket of stars, everywhere in 3s.

But that’s the best part of Spring‚ÄĒeverything coming back from Winter’s sleep, seemingly, from the dead: the flowers, the trees, the animals, the goddess Eostre, Jesus. Me.

I’ve been feeling better, I’m cooking more and enjoying all the smell and tastes and textures of food. Something happened last full moon, some strong anxietal force moved through me. Some part of me died a little, something, someone else resurrected. It was what i asked for, and lately, as I¬†am sleeping more soundly, it is a common and powerful theme when i dream. Death, rebirth, fire, water, flying, wings, feathers, hands in the earth, digging and digging, biting and scratching my way through.

Gerda and the Reindeer | Edmund Dulac

Two nights ago I dreamed I stood in a huge backyard, a large farmhouse behind me. It wasn’t quite an open field as it was fenced off. The grasses were tall in places and something straw-colored was moving through the area towards me. But all I¬†could see were its dark eyes and furry antlers. It seemed to be part moose or reindeer and masculine‚ÄĒit was so large, but as it drew closer, it became softer, graceful, almost feminine despite the large antlers on its head to indicate male. It was more a Mule deer, a buck.

We both approached each other cautiously and as the deer stood still before me, it morphed into a woman. It occurred to me that i should invite her for dinner; a big party was being thrown by extended family, though it was no family I¬†knew of and no occasion i could name. When I¬†introduced my new friend to the men in the family, they leered a bit, patted at her long legs and lap asking why she was so quiet. I explained that she was foreign and didn’t speak the language, so the deer-woman just smiled softly at them and looked strangely at me. I¬†grew anxious as we visited because I¬†felt that at any moment, her glamour would break and she would morph back into the powerful, antlered creature that would bound through the room, kick over furniture and dishes and smash through the back door to escape. The thought plagued me so heavily, I¬†pleaded with my eyes to the deer-woman, and indicated with my head that we should go back outside. She nodded and followed me.

Once we were outside, she became the buck again and wandered out into the forest where I followed her/him. A bright shock of sunlight stunned the deer and it turned on me, knocked me over, bleating, snorting and biting at my neck. It was part murder, part mating. The world went dark in a swirl of tree canopy, pearl grey sky and clouds of shattered eggshell.

When I woke, it was the woman again beside me, waiting for me to rise. My sense was that I was dead, but undead. Not quite vampire, but stony, pale and cold. I was able to move fast, to levitate, to fly and could bring someone with me, transferring the powerful ability to them, with them, so long as they linked hands or an arm with me.

The deer-woman had someone with her now, and I had a faceless someone with me. The four of us flew around until we came upon a memorial site. A grave with no body. A decorative brass commemorative plaque. With my name on it. But it was not my current married name. It was my maiden name: Andrea Jackman. I wiped dirt away from the plaque, collected cigarette butts and trash thoughtlessly discarded in the grass surrounding it and threw these things away. I felt sadness, but also, realized, it was not truly myself that was lost or dead, but a previous incarnation of self.

This lead me to seek out the mythology of the deer, the stag, ways to interpret the dream. Some of it I¬†knew, but some of what I¬†found amazed me in my own psyche’s ability to deliver the message.

It begins even in Neolithic Cave art where the depiction of people for hunting or shamanistic practice, dress in deer hide and wear antlers. In Classical times, the ‘Stag God’ was paramount to the Scythians and other peoples across the Eurasian steppes. To the Hungarians (my ethnic background) there is a great horned doe, which shone in multicolour lights and its antlers glittered from light.

There is the Spring renewal, the chase after the stag is a hunt for the return of the sun, searching for its light and heat which during Winter is taken away by the stag. The girls of the legend are the does, the daughters of light (Leukepius in Greek), who return the light and fertility of the sun. For that reason they have names which indicate “light, white, burning” Dula=Gyula,Gyul…, Sar=gold, light, stag. Bular or Bugur=stag in Turkic.

Ancient Norse mythology tells how 4 stags run in the branches of the ash and browse the foliage of the world-tree Yggdrasil, eating away the buds (hours), blossoms (days) and branches (seasons). Their names are: Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr, Durathor and are thought to represent the four winds.

In Greek mythology, it is the Keryneian stag, a fantastic beast with golden horns and brass hooves sacred to the huntress-goddess Artemis who turned herself into a white hind (female deer) to avoid being violated by two giants.

The deer is also a central religious image for Buddhism. Buddha is often pictured with a deer, and legend tells how he first preached in a deer park. The deer image itself representing innocence and a return to the wilderness.

In Celtic mythology, the deer is a magical creature, able to move between the worlds and many tales have humans transformed into deer. For example, St. Patrick was said to have transformed himself and his companions into deer in order to escape a trap laid by a pagan king. Cernunnos, the Celtic Horned God, was depicted with the antlers of a stag; he is said to be a god of fertility and plenty, and to be the Lord of the Beasts. According to some, his antlers symbolize a radiation of heavenly light. Images of stags were supposedly used to symbolize Cernunnos in non-human form. In the Welsh tale of Culhwch and Olwen, the stag is one of the oldest animals in the world, along with the blackbird, the owl, the eagle and the salmon.

In some parts of Asia, deer are considered to be conductors of soul and thus the robes of shamans are usually made out of deerskin. Likewise, many Native Americans believed deer and other animals with forked horns and antlers represented forked or double nature. When the Cherokee traveled during harsh winter weather, they rubbed their feet in warm ashes and sang a song to acquire powers for the four animals whose feet never were frost bitten‚ÄĒopossum, wolf, fox and deer. To the Pawnee, the deer is a guide to the light of the Sun. The Panche Indians of Colombia believe that human souls pass into the bodies of deer after death and therefore eating the flesh of deer is forbidden to them. In ancient Mexico, deer were sometimes depicted carrying the Sun (similar to the ancient Steppe myth and the Scythians).

The antlers of the stag are compared to tree-branches (the world-tree Yggdrasil) and since they are shed and re-grown every year represent fertility, rejuvenation and rebirth. Carl Jung noted that “the stag is an allegory of Christ because legend attributes to it the capacity for self-renewal … In alchemy, Mercurius is allegorized as the stag because the stag can renew itself.”

This close to Easter, my mind is swirling with birth, bunnies, blossoms, eggs, animals, the moon, the sun, Christology, oh and sure, I’ve some room for chocolate in there, too. After all, it is the sweet delectables, the luscious plenty, the little gifts, and the small rewards that make such great love and transformation possible. But was my dream telling me to lay off the Twilight series by conjuring a vampire deer? Was I truly dead? Rutting? No‚ÄĒI’d like to think it’s the change on the horizon, the promise of sun, a great white fire I¬†am still chasing after in the woods. Some promise borne out of rain, softening the edges, washing away the ashes, waiting for me to rise from a bed of flowers and turn my head up to the clouds of shattered eggshell to see the robin blue sky.

dreams, love, sex

After

Anthos had been
when i awoke
keen to the ground.
My hair fallen lush
over the grass
my mouth wet
with unspeakable ghosts
as i had been feeding on flowers
heavy with the sap of a woman’s intent
and with affections for
the amorphous stranger.
i can now twine my fingers
into the stems
push my knees into the earth
stretching here forward
feeling the nine-days wonder
gathering the texture to my naked
attuned body.
i am learning.
The Beaujolais waits nearby,
a helpless nectar on its side.
The sweetness lingers past
from where i breathe
to where i remember
the depth of you and the face i haven’t seen.
The light returns
i cherish our exchange
wait for seven days to evaporate
and hungry for the rain.

~ Andrea E. Janda

education, gardening, marriage, nature, photography

Smithsonian Sunday

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Yeah, it will be ok
Do nothing today
Give yourself a break
Let your imagination run away

~Sunday by Sia

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Cinnamon rolls are baking somewhere downstairs and the smell has roused me from sleep. the windows in my room are open, it’s 67 degrees, the birds are singing, Odin is sitting on my desk watching them flit by as i type this, and the sun pierces everything in my room, lighting up the coronas around the sunflowers in a vase nodding behind me. Anemone ‘De Caen’ are beginning to bloom as the purple crocus fade down and the yellow daffodils stand up. My Apeldoorn Elite Tulips are starting to shoot buds our from their curled, green rabbit ear leaves. i know all of this because i just wandered out in my cat pajamas, barefooted to see what is coming up out there in my garden. now i’m just waiting for that last frost to seriously be done and i’ll put the seeds in. sometimes it snows in April you know . . .

i move slow on Sundays, meditatively so. i am just now contemplating a shower after daylight savings time forced me to look like i woke up uber-late this morning at 11. there are so many silly little tasks to do . . . but first, i think i will go eat some breakfast and drink some tea and then come back to work on a few things. ALL of them involve my computer and various applications for managing money and photography, which is an interesting theme lately.

my forest is painted RED

i am thrilled to announce, (if i haven’t already told some of you) that i placed in Smithsonian Magazine’s 3rd Annual photo contest with my forest is painted RED. 7,500 photographs were submitted from around the world and 10 Finalists in each of the five categories were chosen: Americana, The Natural World, People, Altered Images, Travel and you can now view those photographs HERE. i am prominently featured in the Altered Images Category.

The Grand Prize Winner and the five Category Winners will be revealed in the August 2006 issue of Smithsonian so if i win in my category, i will go to print in the magazine and win $500 plus some other non-cash prizes. i don’t think i’ll win it, but check out what The Grand Prize is . . . no matter what happens, it’s good press as well as a great opportunity for me to be seen and all under the guise of an institution i truly respect. The Smithsonian Institution is “America’s national educational facility with 18 museums, 9 research centers and 120 affiliates around the world.” It was a gift from James Smithson, a British scientist who willed his estate “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge . . .” i encourage you to read the history.

These last few weeks have been crazy busy with work and little bits of photography. i went to a seminar hosted by Blue Pixel and Nature’s Best Photography which featured Daniel J. Cox, a well-renowned nature photographer featured in National Geographic.

He covered:

  • the issues involved in nature photography, from trip planning to capture to workflow, travel to distribution
  • tips for entering and winning nature photo contests
  • the importance of conservation and photojournalism
  • the differences between JPEG and Raw workflows and how to manage color and exposure in each one
  • how to make effective and accessible archives of your valuable digital negatives

His discussion began pretty pedantically really covering some of the more pedestrian aspects of photography (depth of field, focus, shutter speeds, light metering) that i assumed most would know there. But, his talk on natural conservation and his own photography, lifestyle and travel experiences were wonderful. Some of his knowledge of media types, storage, software, color management and technology were a little behind the curve, but he produces incredible work.

Saturday morning, i shot a very last minute wedding on The Black-Eyed Susan, a paddlewheel riverboat “custom designed for social, corporate, and private entertainment” docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. i was only available for the ceremony and a few formal shots. having NEVER met the bride or groom or wedding party, it made for quite a challenge. i don’t typically do these thrown together things . . .¬† i have a contract and a must-have photo checklist. i typically meet with the couple and the person paying for the photography to get a feel for what they want and what kind of people they are. i like to be prepared and comfortable in my surroundings. this was NOT the case for this event. in fact i found myself crawling over life preserver boxes and behind people, playing “crouching tiger hidden photographer” to get some decent shots.

it’s a real trick to NOT be obnoxious and all over the wedding party when the “stage” for the ceremony is as small as it was, and forget about room to take pictures of the processional and recessional people always forget they are being photographed and walk WAY TOO FAST! i haven’t had the time or the desire to go through the photos yet, but i am hoping i produced something of merit and charm, all things considered. All i know is the whole wedding party lined up on the back of the boat and waved to me on shore as i shot some final photos of them floating off into the harbor. But i wasn’t done . . . then i drove 45 minutes back to Annapolis and went to work at the restaurant and waited tables; a private party of 17 plus a few extra seatings and all in a second floor dining room. So up and down the damn stairs all nite with heavy trays of food and dishes. By the time Sunday arrived, you can now understand why i take them so slowly.

As for the rest of this Sunday . . . i took myself out to breakfast, did some shopping, bought a pair of gauchos and a skirt, took myself out for thai flavored dinner plus a beer. i got a fair amount of reading done at both meals with excerpts from Girl With Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace and Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. All the while amazed at how friendly and warm people are when the weather is pleasant, even the animals are in a good mood. i walked along past a group of men outside a local pub having some beers and hot wings and i turned to smile and wiggle my fingers, waving down at one of their dogs, a gorgeous white-faced Staffordshire Bull Terrier who in turn sat up, nudged me and licked my fingers gingerly as i walked past.

People seem to lose their damn minds when it’s sunny. on Main Street, a young man was sitting on the sill, legs dangling out his second story window singing to no one in particular and in fact, was making up songs for the passerby. later on West St., i was talking casually to my friend Paul when a truck drove past and a blonde-haired girl squawked into a CB radio as if campaigning, somehow broadcasting “HEY PAUL!” from the passenger seat. Paul responded by stopping mid-sentence, skipping out to the middle of the street, throwing his arms into the air with ROCK ON horns poised on each hand, yelling “WOOOO-HOOO!”

something about a sunny day, a Sunday and all its simple pleasures; sleeping in, familiar faces on walkabout, good food, good news, a good read, pretty things purchased, a nice stroll down streets lined with gardens newly in bloom, phonecalls and messages from dear friends, freshly washed bed linen to lay your head down later.

i understand why people go to church, why they don’t want to work, why they choose forced respite on Saturday or Sunday. as midnight approaches, bringing to close a full day lived and loved, greeted and embraced, photographed and written about, documented, cherished and learned from, i see the world as my church and the amazing places, people and things in it, all beautiful, meaningful and deserving of reverence in their own godlike ways.

nature, photography, weather

creature feature

i hope i don’t bore you all
with the billion bugs
and the few thousand flowers.

should i go photograph buildings
or portraits
or industrial scenes
or road kill?

as a writer, i tend to write what i know
and what – photographers shoot what they see?
so YOU see what i SEE, i suppose.
and though i do have concepts
i have mostly fortunate scenery . . .

i see five acres of forest,
i see horses and trees and flowers
i see explosive colors everywhere
and everywhere i go i see
a picture.

today while driving i saw
a lightning storm
a rainbow
a row of trees
blinking on and off with
the million green lights
of fireflies
a once impeccable white classic car
with hanging fuzzy dice
badly wrecked on the side of the road.

and i wonder at how to capture it all.
and will i have time?

food, friends, nature, relationships, technology

wonderful day

gaw – what a great day i had yesterday!
a really laid back warm and wonderful birthday …
i woke up late didn’t shower until 3pm
took a nature walk,

washed my car . . . which always consists of pulling snails off the hood
and shooing spiders so i don’t blast them with the hose
and looking out for passing butterflies.

at 8pm i met a friend Jennifer for dinner and had an incredible meal:

baked brie with mango, strawberries, grapes and oranges, filet mignon with chive mashed redskin potatoes and grilled asparagus, a bottle of champagne, and for dessert, a chocolate truffle in pecans with a glass of 6-grape port, and an awesome coffee drink with real whipped cream, the stiff kind, not the fluffy stuff.

We had a window view overlooking a mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and watched a light show of heat lightning until the rain crashed in. i went to the valet who i told didn’t need to go get my car as i could see it, so instead he followed me out with an umbrella over my head for a walk and closed my door for me. Hug

afterwards we went back to her place and shared a bottle of shiraz and an endearing two-hour conversation.

Jennifer bought me a flowering tree called a crepe myrtle which is currently potted at 3ft but will grow to be 25 feet.

i love plants as opposed to flowers. as my boyfriend says “giving flowers is like cutting off the sex parts and handing someone a bouquet of penises, it’s best to be alive and keep growing” and i agree live plants . . . it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

then the topper — i came home and my boyfriend had a really nice gift for me: a 10 GB iPod! we had a good laugh about my love of little gadgets and how different i am in that i don’t want clothing or jewelry or perfume and how that makes it easier to buy for. and that he sees my appreciation for music and technology.

and then — some wonderful lovemaking <3