Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Song of Medusa

Recently I revisited a novel I wrote with my former partner, Duncan Eagleson, back in 1993. It's still published by Infinity Press, and probably badly in need of revision. It was the only novel I ever wrote, and it was so much fun, I remember, to see the characters come to life, develop personalities, each day as I sat down at a typewriter. The story was inspired by Riane Eisler's paradigm shifting, seminal book, THE CHALICE AND THE BLADE, (1989), and archeologist Marija Gimbuta's work on old Europe.  The novel was about a woman who became the "Oracle of Delphi", and envisioned a world that embraced "Gaianism".  A time of respect for the Earth being alive, communicative, and utterly interdependant. Below is the closing of the novel. 

AFTERWARD: September 21, 2027
As the trail winding up Spirit Mountain grew steeper, Susan was a little out of breath. She could see the summit ahead, the rounded, granite bones of a once massive mountain range, a sight common to this part of New England. Rounded boulders loomed on either side of her, painted whimsically with colorful abstractions of lichen and moss. Susan remembered when she lived in Colorado, the rock climbing she did when she was younger. The mountains of southern New Hampshire were among the oldest ranges in the U.S., great-grandmother mountains softened, folded and smoothed by a long, long life. These were not the Rockies, and she knew she was out of shape.

It was late September, a brilliant fall blessed by the right amount of rain and sun. The sugar maples were almost psychedelic in their glory of reds, yellows and oranges. The sun was bright, tender and poignant with a frailty felt only during Indian Summer; the last and perhaps sweetest days of summer. Such days were the grand finale to that great burst of fertile creation that began in the Spring. To her, it seemed as if all the land, and all the devas of the plant kingdom, were giving their final concert, their master chorale. Soon the first frost would come, and Susan would walk with her morning coffee into a garden fallen overnight, melting away like a dream, ready to sleep beneath the immanent blanket of snow.

Below her came a procession of people, making their way up the trail between rock outcroppings. Some carried baskets of food, bread, and torches, candles; all carried flashlights and blankets. It was the evening of the Fall Equinox, a special Fall Equinox, because it was also to be a full moon. She felt the pulse of the land beneath her feet, heat, a coursing of energies like a heartbeat, humming through her. The drummers would syncronize with that heartbeat after the sun went down; she knew they were already attuning themselves even as they walked. She took her shoes off.

“Breathe, just breathe”. With each inhale, Susan let the sense of Gaia come into her. She never knew what else to call it; “earth energies”, “Creator”, “Source”; to her it was Gaia, and she visualized roots that grew from her feet, roots that went down deep into the Earth, connecting her with the web of life. It wasn’t even that abstract, really. It was just what it felt like - as if she became bigger.Her breathing became rhythmic, releasing the small concerns of her personal life, the tensions and conflicts of the day, breathing in a pulse that rose through her now bare feet.. “Hello, hello” she said out loud. “Here we are.” In answer, currents flowed up her legs, into her hands. Susan paused, leaned against a granite boulder, slightly dizzy.....“not so fast...” Closing her eyes for a moment, she felt Martin’s hand on her back. He was feeling it as well. She almost heard his “Are you all right?”, but he hadn’t spoken.

The warmth of his presence steadied her. A little further up the trailhead was an arbor woven of branches and grapevines. Tanya and James stood on either side of it, ready with the sage smudge sticks they used as each person entered the place where the ceremony would be held. A raucous crow flew suddenly across the path, to land in a nearby tree. It squawked at them as if to say “well, hurry up!” and flew off. Martin broke his trance to laugh; they had, as far as he was concerned, been welcomed.

The top of Spirit Mountain was flat granite shelf. It was a splendid view; to the east the spire of an old church rose from an ocean of trees, and the Connecticut River was visible, winding like a snake through the landscape. Before her, ten boulders formed an imperfect circle. Perhaps they had once been more regular, but erosion or earthquake had, over time, worked them out of alignment. At the circle’s center stood a whitish boulder, shot with veins of quartz; crystalline intrusions flashed here and there on it’s surface as it reflected the setting sun. Susan wondered, as always, how the long ago people who once came here had managed to move rocks weighing several tons into these placements.

The ancient people who made this stone circle millennia ago were a mystery. There was evidence that Phoenician or Celtic colonists had once settled along the Connecticut river, fishing, sailing, and marking places that were sacred to them with standing stones and cairns very similar to prehistoric sites in Ireland and Europe. Perhaps this was Tiranog, the “blessed land to the West” of ancient Irish legend. The controversy surrounding these structures and “calendar sites” had never been settled. The vanished people who so laboriously moved enormous and carefully selected stones to mark this place could also have been native Americans long lost to history. It really didn’t matter to Susan.

What these mysterious places did share in common was geomantic intensity. A divining rod held over the quartz boulder at this circle’s center frenetically turned like the blades of a helicopter. To a geologist, they were places of geomagnetic force. But it took no scientific knowledge to experience the presence of this place. At last, just like the ancients who once came here, people were beginning to realize that these were places of communion. One did not build condos on them.

In the deepening twilight, people passed through the woven entranceway, seating themselves around the circle. Some brought blankets to wrap themselves in, and some of the older folks had folding chairs. Beneath the white quartz stone were offerings of food, wine and written prayers to the ancestors of this place, as well as a basket of seed as offerings to the animals and nature spirits who lived here. And a few small personal shrines had been set up in an inner circle. Susan saw her friend Margo’s little Goddess statue resting on a red silk cloth. Nearby was a brass statue of the Buddha, a photo of the late Dalai Lama placed at his feet. From a crevice in the stone hung a laughing Greenman mask . Candles in colored votive holders flickered like a shimmering rainbow around the base of the stone.

Four drummers were already synchronized into a heartbeat rhythm. They were attuned to each other and the qualities of the element each drummer was inviting to be present, air, fire, water and earth. Their rhythms flowed into the azure twilight as Martin sat down to join them, his dumbek between his knees. Susan walked around the circle, bowed to the center, and then picked up a pack of matches on the ground to light citronella torches mounted around the periphery.

At last she sank down to join the chanting, to enter into deep receptivity. She saw that she was a little nervous, and tried to shake it out of her body for a minute. She was one of the focalizers tonight, and although she had served in that way before, she never knew exactly what she would do until the moment arose. Years as a public speaker and environmental activist still made it difficult for her to completely relax into a wholly intuitive way of working within a group, trusting that indescribable merging that always happened. She took another deep breath and visualized her roots going down into the earth. It didn’t matter, she remembered. “It doesn’t matter in the least whether I’m nervous or not. It’s not about me, and it never is.”

She could see it now, if she unfocussed her eyes; a glow that seemed to come from the granite floor she sat cross-legged on, a pulse that attuned her to the drums, light that seemed to pour from cracks in the ancient boulders. Her unease was gone, unimportant.

Tonight they would offer thanks for the food grown and harvested throughout the summer; not just for them, but for all those who eat. They would chant and pray and dance their gratitude for being fed by the Earth and all the beings upon Her, and, in a ritual of reciprocity, they would offer their prayers, music, gratitude and love back, sending it down into the Earth to sustain and nurture the One who sustained and nurtured them. Susan was one of those tonight who would become a kind of filament for the ritual. In the course of the ceremony, she would open herself to communion with the spirit of place,and what visions she received she would share.

Sometimes what came to her was empathic, a feeling of sadness or disharmony that needed to be witnessed by the group, or simply a tremendous love that radiated between all present, renewing them. Sometimes she received images that were far from grandiose and very specific - once she saw a piece of baked liver on a plate before one of the women present. It seemed that she was both pregnant and anemic.

Later in the evening there would be pumpkin bread, cheese, fruit, bottles of wine and mead. The drummers would continue to drum until the sun rose, letting rhythms flow through them in constantly changing waves, moving beyond exhaustion.

Before closing her eyes to chant, Susan looked around the circle. South of her, at the Temanos center, her friend Jewell would be facilitating a gathering. She visualized Jewell’s strong, lined face, her famous blue rattle in her hand, and a momentary flash of love, support flooded her; she knew Jewell was aware of her, and very busy.

“Gaia. Gaia, thank you. I am here.”

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Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

This is beautiful!

Gail said...

Thank you for sharing. I couldn't meet with my group so I did a solitary ritual at the beach honoring Gaia and nature spirits on Ostara. Vulture came to me recently and I found out that she is all about community. I hope you find spiritual community again. Gail

Lauren Raine said...

Thanks! Community is so important, spiritual community a treasure. Gail, I agree, vultures are quite misunderstood!