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.

friends, weather, writing

let. me. clear. my. throat.

you know – i am not one to meow meow meow
and my even having to preface it now, you can fully
expect a little hissing, but more, i implore you:

tragic darling dears, get out of your beds,
off your couches, your haunches, your
hands and knees and for fuck’s sake PLEASE
point the camera out the bathroom, the window,
outdoors, out of self-respect, his, hers, mine
the worried cat and dog and yours
take into consideration that we’ve no need
to bear witness to your public bleeding
i have seen every configuration of stocking
stunt-cocking, macro of labial fold
(god DAMN that shit gets OLD . . .)
and your face pulled down into mask of despair
mascara, wings, and blood everywhere
and more tits than i could ever use.

Now, mind you, i like my dark days too,
and these things can be done in 32 flavors
and then some, but it won’t make me come
find you in your self-absorbed hip-o-drome
it’s just more i have to scroll past –
to find actual, breathing, human
photographs.

i believe you ‚Äď you are real and so are
the rest of the enhanced blanched
oversaturated things you possibly feel
but i’d like to see more of your real life
pooled at your feet, than a pair of your
panties, your bathtub, the Xs & Os the
utter lack of prose and pause and thought
given to the extended forearm-as-tripod
still in the shot and those webcam eyes
so tenderly wrought.

i am not asking you to find/define your depths
i am not trying to damage your emotional
intelligence ‚Äď i see the dress pattern you
are after, but i’m afraid you’ve dropped a stitch.
i will allow you the feline quality of female
i will ask you, however, to remove your ears
and that silly tail. There is NO pair of
breasts or handcuffs or shoes that will fix
what your expression
and vision
and your camera
will never do
in ultra-uncandid
clicks.

writing

Casting the Deeper Reflection

She bends into the pool of water with softer expectations.

She has come here to know what the others must see. She wishes to throw off her feathers and know grace. She wants to leave the rippling wake of the Swan. It is not what she sees, but what she feels when she sees it. She drinks deep of herself, pulling down the stones that hold the water back, untying those ribbons that make her simply, “girl,” and she understands these things for the first time:

the shape of her hands as instruments, not locks,
the curve of her mouth as sugar, not starch,
the lilt of her speech as power, not prattle,
the set in her gaze as intention, not ignorance,
and movement of her body as purpose, not presence.

She leans inward, she takes inventory, unearths the wreckage, and blossoms. They will see her differently, now. They must. For she has come to reclaim what she had before not recognized.

I am She.
. . . And i have always been.

I realized my own life force — my own powers.

There was far more in the reflection than a creature with dimples and delectable features. i was no longer a map of fine shapes to plunder. No circles. No Triangles. No lines. No jutties. i was more than a giggle and a hair toss. More than a Mistress and a Maiden. i was something with wings. i was fire and water and magic and truth, and it came from me in waves: out of my fingers, out of the breaths i spoke, out of the voice i lilted and thrust into song, and from the burning tendrils of silken-red hair when i turned to listen.

When the change occurred, they stood watching. Some came to embrace. Some came to crush. Some came to borrow and to bathe. And still some others came to steal. Always, there are those that want to get close for their own intentions. Both come into your night, both come into your Garden to feed on things that grow and fuss, blink and bluster. But some come on white-dusted looms to leave only glitter on your finger when you touch their wings, and some come elusive but gorgeous, with their own space and light, vanquishing dark, green and etherly. But most important the change delivered my sight, my strength to recognize dark moths from fireflies.

I wasted my time kissing villains.

i knew what a lover was but i did not love. i saw it in black and white and red. What i knew of love taught me how to leave one slowly and to tear flesh as i went. i did this only to fill the open mouths, the holes, the digs in my own flesh that were missing. When dark angels move in, you cannot see that under their cloaks are wings and within their wings are pinions and any one feather, small and sable, can be fashioned into a fine dagger or an ink well to scribble their name from head to hip in long red letters the length of your paper white canvas. But wings can be bound, as hands. Or cut. And wounds as words can be sewn and stifled. i allowed few wings to brush my cheek and fewer still, the hands that cut through my skin and left weeping scars.

She leaves the water to the wild.

Silver fish with golden eyes. They must know something about breathing from a mutable element that she does not. How can you drink what can tear down the shore? How can you bathe a sharpened something in a fluid that will tumble a stone, a shard of glass, until it is safely smooth and delicate? What did Narcissus see but an Echo? And what does an echo teach but to love only the song of yourself, though the body shrivels and the bones become stone. A flower is nothing that cannot wither while the eye inside denies this death.

She wishes . . .

to be blind as Tiresias, as the twin thoughts of a soft, penetrable creature; worry and pleasure slither over each other as cool as snakes. And when those mouths open to swallow, to draw breath and blood, when all of love repeats, a tongue can trick. To taste is to suffer, and the resounding “yes i will i can i do i am” doubles back. She swims away into the depths of the next breath, and she leaves a rippling wake. Her feet do not touch the bottom stones and she draws the water, a nectar for nymphs. Her eyes light in golden flame, two suns on the lake, and her skin smoothes out silver, her hands web to fins. She will not crawl wild-eyed, with her fingers in dirt, she will wait underwater for her hands to break and her wings to grow back, and then —

Emerge.

books, health, nature, photography, writing

Curioser Still . . .

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“Maybe there really are girls the size of pinkies
with hair the color of the darkest red oleander blossoms
and skin like the greenish-white underbellies of calla lilies….”

from I Was a Teenage Fairy by Francesca Lia Block

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i have spent a lot of time in diminutive states this Summer. i have been smallish and pale and worried and heartbroken and dragged through frightening dreams.

i have been “burning branches of synaptic fire, surf(ed) the serotonin swells, while the dark heart is dawning, and cuts the wound that nothing quells” as one of my favorite songs goes . . .

i have begun things and ended them and reconsidered them and rebuilt them after tearing them down hair and skin and nail and bone. i took some teeth from them too because they scratched at the blades of my back, looking for the places where the wings protrude.

my delicate green luna caterpillars caught some strange withering illness and died before they slept in their own blankets. still – i have several coccoons from the others. strange, tattered, dark scraps of curled leaf and fur and silk. not much for photographing. not until they hatch in May.

i am coming around again. i have recovered something and have begun writing and taking pictures again.

but i’ve been down the rabbit hole and into the pool of tears, you see.

and i have also, been taking advice from caterpillars, as the story goes . . .

“Who are YOU?” said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

“What do you mean by that? ” said the Caterpillar sternly.“Explain yourself!”

“I can’t explain MYSELF, I’m afraid, sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself, you see.”

“I don’t see,” said the Caterpillar.

“I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,” Alice replied very politely, “for I can’t understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.”

“It isn’t,” said the Caterpillar.

“Well, perhaps you haven’t found it so yet,” said Alice; “but when you have to turn into a chrysalis–you will some day, you know–and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you’ll feel it a little queer, won’t you?”

“Not a bit,” said the Caterpillar.

“Well, perhaps your feelings may be different,” said Alice; “all I know is, it would feel very queer to ME.”

“What size do you want to be?” it asked.

“Oh, I’m not particular as to size,” Alice hastily replied; “only one doesn’t like changing so often, you know.”

“I don’t know,” said the Caterpillar.

Alice said nothing: she had never been so much contradicted in her life before, and she felt that she was losing her temper.

“Are you content now?” said the Caterpillar.

“Well, I should like to be a little larger, sir, if you wouldn’t mind,” said Alice: “three inches is such a wretched height to be.”

“It is a very good height indeed!” said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).

“But I’m not used to it!” pleaded poor Alice in a piteous tone. And she thought of herself, `I wish the creatures wouldn’t be so easily offended!’

“You’ll get used to it in time,” said the Caterpillar; and it put the hookah into its mouth and began smoking again.

writing

Deserted

There are two bullet holes
and three closed fists
and a bird crashing into the highway
with stones tied to each wing.
And I don’t know who you are
and I can’t remember
who I was supposed to be for you
… mighty despot.
And the cries are heard
seething in from the desert.
You will remember me –
and I promise the recollection
to be a savory search,
reaching back over miles
and mice
and minutes spent in the rapture
of near-death.
Those reptiles lay ahead of you.
You are left to fulfill the expectations
of more masterful gods.
That good-night is golden …
the death of sentiment awaits your arrival.
Birds dashed against the pavement,
a dish fit only
for regal mouths
with an appetite for sand.

~ Andrea E. Janda

writing

Diary of a Lazy Sunday

i went to bed as the sky was slipping open,
a silver blade across a dark canvas
the sun – a dusky, milk-white pearl,
a burnished tin coin
and the patter of rain.

i woke up late afternoon
a warm ivory cocoon
decided not to burst wings
but lay still for 2 hours
assembling dream collages
rewinding conversations
re-writing myself
two paperweight cats
held me warm and fast.

i had explained to him
that waking up is like being born
sometimes i come out screaming
sometimes i need more pushing
sometimes i cry . . .

i called three friends
from under the blanket-tent
with sleep and recline in my voice
and they asked if i were ok
and i declared softly
with a honeyed smile in my voice
that i was
indeed
fine.

in a slip of black satin
i padded the stairs, cats in tow
and made eggs and pancakes
for dinner
with peanut butter and toast
and drank orange juice slowly
marveling how far it had come
to be here now.

how far would I have to travel
to move this slow every day
in a purposeful dreamstate
consciously delicate
instinctually incoherent
to share a wishbone prize
while never having broken
a thing.

~ Andrea E. Janda

nature, weather

wings and things

ahhh what a gorgeous day.
77 degrees, no humidity, a cloudless sky
four hours of sleep the previous nite
high on adrenaline and life,
and a field of moths and butterflies . . .