I woke up a half an hour ago, but I’m pretending to be asleep still.
My eyes are closed, my face pressed into the pillow, my breathing steady, I’m giving every possible indication that I am still unconscious. If I fake it well enough, maybe I’ll stumble into the real thing, at least until my alarm goes off.
So I burrow deeper into the pillows, and I cast my mind back, trying to find the ragged edges of departing slumber. And instead I realize that there is sunlight on my face, streaming through a gap between the curtains.
Áine, the goddess of the Summer sun, rules the daytime sky from dawning Imbolc to the last light of Lughnasadh. She is said to be mistress of both love and fertility, but on mornings like this, I suspect she has a bit of a cruel streak.
“All right, I’m up already.”
Okay, maybe I’m not all the way up.
I’m sitting in bed, trying to bring the words on my phone’s screen into focus.
I really do need to get these eyes of mine checked.
Or maybe not. Most of what I’m reading are news stories detailing violence abroad and discrimination closer to home, most of it perpetrated by people whose motivation is their impassioned belief in one of the more popular middle-eastern gods.
At issue are differences in the specific hows and whys of religious practice, which I must admit, seem minor to this outsiders eyes. That, and some differences in opinion on who sleeps with who, seem to be the impetus behind some very unpleasant behavior.
One would think that the belief in a single god would bring unity rather than strife.
I shuffle the cards five times, cut the deck, and lay down a single card which will be the ‘theme’ of my day.
0 – The Fool.
There he is, about to step blithely off a cliff and into the unknown, his few possessions at his back, and his loyal companion running along at his side.
Today, it seems, will be a day of journeys, of mysteries explored and unexpected detours taken.
There is a high whine in the air as I pass the weed-whacker over the tufty grass in my front yard.
Arc left – half step – arc right – half step…, it is a strange little dance, with it’s own beat, and I find myself humming lightly in cadence. It is a hymn of sorts, though wordless, which I offer to the land spirits as I go about my work in the yard.
My relationship with the land is not one that the ancestors would have recognized.
I grow no crop.
There are no grazing herds.
I simply maintain what society has determined is a tidy appearance to my particular plot of land.
The ancients knew the names of their local spirits, knew their habits, their likes and dislikes. The relationship with the land and its invisible inhabitants was a matter of life and death. But today, for most of us, there is no relationship there to speak of. We live on the surface of the land, with no thought of any deeper connection.
In my travels I have discovered that some places are more “talkative” than others. The spirits which I feel around my home, when I feel them at all, are quiet and watchful. Sometimes I think that they are suspicious of my attempts to speak with them.
And so the wordless song, to sooth their feelings, if I may, as I work at lowering the grass.
Almost lost the weed-whacker in my efforts to reach the biting insect on my arm.
I may have spoken out of turn. The mosquito crop is coming along quite nicely.
The Morrígan stares back at me from atop my home altar.
Agent of change, of war and challenge and conflict, she who collects the souls of the dead, prophetess and raven goddess, for some reason my gaze is drawn to her this morning.
I smile and glance up at the Tarot card, the wandering Fool, who rests near her.
So, it’s going to be one of THOSE days, huh?
Well, I’m gonna be late for work, if I don’t get a move on.
And as I lock up the house and head to my car, I hear the caw of ravens in the distance.
I slog through the first half of the day until it’s time for lunch. A few of my co-workers called out today and most of my customers seem to be on the grumpy side, so things have been pretty hectic up to this point.
But now I’ve got an hour to just sit in my car, under the trees and polish off that sandwich I’ve been longing for the last hour or so.
I pull out my phone again, and dip into social media, just to see if anyone has posted anything interesting.
A friend of mine wrote, “Writers romanticize everything, I know this because I am one.”
Hmmm…, I’ll have to think about that.
I know that I won’t remember any of my other customers when this evening is over, but I’ll remember her. Tall and tan and perfect in all the ways of a sun-touched goddess, and with a playful smile that isn’t just put on for show, I can see it reflected in her eyes when she laughs.
And I think I just caught myself flirting – if only gently.
As we speak I began to hear the sound of bark being torn from trees by restless antlers; beneath my feet I feel the thrumming of hooves pawing at the earth. In the primeval forest that stands just beyond our limited mortal perception, the woodland god is waking from his slumber.
“Sorry, sorry, false alarm, let’s just focus on the job at hand!”
The feeling of disappointment washes over me like a wave, followed by the sound of retreating hooves and then a distant crash, the echoing fall of some unfortunate tree, splintered and broken, in a moment of irritation.
I’m home after dark.
I feed the cat, and then myself.
I sit for a while, watching a little television as I digest and allow my mind and body to unwind after a busy day.
Before bed, I take a brief walk in the backyard. The moon is hanging in the east, nearly full, and the cat is moving along at my feet, a shadow among shadows in the moonlight.
I’m about the head back in when I hear the owls again, making that same lost puppy sound that first caught my attention a couple weeks ago. I spend the next several minutes watching them hurtle to and fro, over my head and across the yard, to the neighbors and back again.
As I watch them I think about the comment I’d read earlier in the day, “Writers romanticize everything…,”. Maybe that’s true; it certainly fits with the world as we have been taught to understand it.
But what if the world is filled with a romance all its own, comprised of infinite layers of truth and perception, perfectly nested, each within the other, most of which we pass on our journey, never the wiser. And writers, along with those artists of a more visual nature, are simply able to bring out the romance that we would otherwise miss, because our art requires us to both see and express the world in terms our audience can understand.
The house is locked up, and I’m for bed.
I take a last glance at The Fool, resting there on my altar, and I am forced to smile.
The punchline, of course, is that every day is a journey into mystery and the most important thing we can do is to recognize that fact and take in the scenery we pass along the way.
One last glimpse at the online world and I’ll be done for the night.
Ahhh, another post on my wall, this one extolling the unlimited virtues of surrendering to that ‘one’ merciful god.
Sorry friends, but looking at that news feed, again and again, day after day, I’m just not seeing the benefit in dedicating myself wholly to just the one god, or to any single perception of truth.
I think the healthier choice is to live a modest lifestyle and to honor all beings in moderation.
Now then, until the morning comes, I wish you a good night.