I love stories, discovering the stories that "wrap themselves around old bones" and wrap themselves around each of us. With masks, the story is as much a part of the mask as the mask itself. Masks are by their very nature "vessels for Story", stories ever evolving in mysterious ways. If you let the mask "talk to you", much can be revealed. While re-visiting the Superstition mountains not so long ago, I remembered an encounter I had once with a persona of the land, a Numen of the mountain. She spoke, I listened. Her name, I think, was the Bone Goddess.
THE BONE GODDESS
I was the first one.
I am this land,
and you no longer know me.
Ah well. So what. I've been here a long time.
A long time.
In the beginning, I was alone.
Alone in this place.
Me, and Old Man Mountain,
sleeping beneath the hot sun.
Running when the sun was young,
waking up the People in my country:
Ho, Hare, Snake, Mallow, Saguaro.
There were more People then.
Some have gone.
We spoke together then, laughed more.
These ones, these new ones,
they think they own the place.
Ha! They dig and dig,
but they will not find me!
Listen, I will tell you something,
since you have come here with your hands empty.
You are full of holes.
Sometimes a person stands up and just walks outside
and keeps on walking into the sun, and does not know why.
There comes a time when you have given so much of yourself away
there is nothing left, when you have become transparent,
when you can be seen through to the bone,
when your spirit has become woven into bad things.
That's when you find yourself in my country.
Walk into the desert
sit beneath a cholla and be silent.
Notice the shapes of bald mountains.
Old Man, sleeping.
The shape of his shadows,
the shape of the sky, the color of shadows.
That is when you must find beauty
in a cholla
crack in the sun like an old bone.
That's the time when you must collect your own shadows.
I may help you.
Bring your offerings if you wish,
I will give them to the Bird People, the Mouse People, the Lizard People,
walk in the shimmering heat, the silence, you may find me.
If I want you to.
I may tell you stories that wrap themselves around old bones,
around quartz and turquoise, pottery shards,
stories of Snake and Coyote
and cracks in the land like a spider web,
full of light.
And I may not.
I was the first one. This is my place.