The Well Maiden's Return

A waterfall, heart of the forest, spills into a large pool — a well so deep, there’s no bottom.

Rumor persists in this place from time immemorial, reeking of Violence and Death, but also …

A Way of Life people once knew, evoked from their ancestral DNA, or perhaps, lives once lived.

Despite warnings, I returned; for though a child, I knew … something I couldn’t yet voice.

And finally, when I was fully grown, Old Woman revealed herself as Great Blue Heron.

She told me of a past when humans and the land were one — a relationship so deep, so timeless.

The Well Maidens fed and watered these roots — roots symbolized by Kings married to Sovereignty.

Until one day, when She came forth, one took Her by such startling force, and severed the connection.

She cried out and went within Herself; thus Violence begot Death, turning everything to desert.

The world is now green again, though devoid of kinship, blood falling from bisected roots.

My reflection shows in the well, and I hear the wind whisper: “Rise, Well Maiden, rise strong …

For some people are replanting, and those roots — well, they need some watering.”

Model: F.K. Garland

Photohoot: Devil’s Hopyard 10/10/18

Mindful Photography

Photography is a form of meditation and an expression of mindfulness.

How do I know when to hit the shutter-release button? How do I time that moment, that threshold? Well, I just know — a feeling deep inside.

At best, I can describe it as an always-changing ability to continuously listen to and re-develop a relationship with myself, my camera, and that which is around me at all times when taking pictures. I’m constantly honing and learning new ways of doing so through writing in my journal, studying the technical aspects of photography on my own time, working with my mentors on how to improve my photos, and connecting with nature and her patterns. And there are times, such as illness or stress, when I really need to trust my instincts.

A bad ear infection, and episodes of double vision and dizziness, have caused my other senses to compensate for my ability to hear and balance since last Thursday night. Despite that, the promise of a beautiful sunrise and the possibility of seeing seals called me out of bed on Saturday. Moments before I took these pictures to the right, I heard the seals barking in the distance, the waves lapping at the shore, and the gulls screeching over the wind’s relentless moaning. Suddenly, for half a second at most, there was silence, and everything became one. I intuitively knew, “NOW. Take it now” — a threshold I call “Wild Hearth.”

So I invite photographers, hobby and professional, to share their experiences. We have different ways of interpreting relationships with our cameras and subject matter. Feel free to email me using the envelope icon at the bottom of the page or leave a comment below.

Brigid's Flames

Brigid of the Flames, encircle me —

In the east, womb of sunrise;

In the south, home of noon-day sun;

In the west, tomb of sunset;

In the north, height of Polaris.

 

Like my many foremothers before me,

I rekindle flames in your blessed hearth —

A fire protecting this household

From harm and strife,

From hatred and callousness.

 

Let it lovingly burn bright and true —

Uniting past as present;

Connecting present as future;

Acknowledging the forthcoming

As seven generations past and present.

 

On this day and night,

From dawn until dark,

From dark until dawn,

I tend your sacred hearth

As those did before me.

Deer Eyes

The doe watches me,

Her large, perceptive ebony eyes

Reminiscent of a mountain lake

On a summer afternoon.

I lose myself in their depths;

So deep, I delve in my reflection

And walk my soul’s birch woods

To a vaulted wooden doorway —

The doorway to Otherworld,

Where she and I walk side by side,

Both of us intuiting our origins:

Stardust birthed by the Big Bang.

Perhaps she is my foremother

From a distant past …

Perhaps I am her sister

From a previous life …

 Our connection runs deep,

A spiraling river in our blood —

A blessing and knowing sensed

When I see myself in her eyes.

The Threshold Tree

Branches paint clouds;

Roots dig deep, deep, deep down

To a strong bedrock foundation

Resting at sea’s edge.

This lone tree is the threshold

Between two realms:

The earthly one where I stand;

The diaphanous one where the spirits wait.

I hear them …

The waves crashing against rock,

A seagull’s cry,

The wind lamenting in my hair.

Once the sun returns to salty womb,

The portal will slowly open

And the dead will dance with the living

Until first light.

The Selkie's Legacy

The ocean is a powerful, mysterious force.

And for as long as I can remember, I’ve felt her in my blood and soul. Former United States president John F. Kennedy predeterminedly described my intuitive knowing beautifully in his remarks at the dinner for the America’s Cup Crews on September 14, 1962:

I really don't know why … all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think … in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it’s an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We’re tied to the ocean.

His latter words send shivers down my spine, conjuring memories from long ago.

When I was a child, Mary, my grandmother, raised me on tales about the selkie, an Orcadian word for “seal.” Her woven yarns were variations of those hailing from the Orkney and Hebridean Isles of Scotland, as well as surrounding coastlines. I’m fully aware that they’re not true to original form, that I don’t reside in nor have I ever visited the United Kingdom. But she told me the selkie legends for a reason — in a different locale, on a different shore.

The selkie is a beautiful maiden with raven hair and deep brown eyes when on land; in water, a seal. She is the epitome of the ocean: wild, beautiful, fully herself. One day, a fisherman happens upon her dancing in the wake of the moon’s silver light. He falls in love with her. He steals her pelt, and in doing so, she is bound to him. Years later, her eldest child, a daughter, discovers the parcel and, without true knowledge of its significance, gives it to her mother as a gift. The selkie dons her skin — her very soul — and returns from whence she came.

According to my maternal Scots-Irish mythopoetic genealogy, I’m supposedly the descendant of a selkie and fisherman. The women before me chose between two paths: one moved through wind-swept sand dunes and rocky cliffs; the other flowed with the currents in the ocean’s depths. Whether literally or figuratively, both land and ocean are in my blood and soul. I stand at the hearth of two worlds. To deny one over the other would mean betraying parts of myself.

We need to appreciate and own all of ourselves, even those traits that others tell us to hate, to tame, to put in a box. And therein lies the selkie’s gift — her deepest magic and legacy.

Winter's Gate

Walk through the gate.

Know that courage is not the absence of fear. Acknowledge this understanding and move across the threshold.

Stillness is a teacher. And to be in continuous bloom wrecks havoc on your health. Merge with the quiet moments, for they compost the soil for your rebirth come spring.

Growth and death are important to the life cycle. Though considered dead to the naked eye, many plant species, for example, require darkness, whether from less sun, snow cover, or a combination of factors, as well as stillness — the Dreamtime — in order to grow.

Yes, the long nights and cold, short days affect serotonin levels. When balanced with self-care and the space to live a more introverted life during the winter months, your serotonin levels increase, and you also connect with inner wisdom and the deepest roots of your personal power.

So surrender to the stillness, to the Dreamtime, for both wisdom and the beginnings of life reside at its very heart.

My Daily Prayer

My maternal grandmother, Mary, once told me that prayer's more than just a request for help, an expression of thanks, a worship service, or an earnest hope or wish.  Prayer's action.

As if in a waking dream, she's sitting across the table from me.  A paradoxical combination of impishness and seriousness illuminates her blue-green eyes as she leans over her afternoon libation, which, most likely, is tea laced with a hint of whiskey.  

"Prayer's living your life, my wild selkie," she declares before taking a small sip.  

She suddenly fixes her gaze just above my head.  She speaks to me, but there's obviously an unseen someone, or something, present in the room with us.

"By living life, you're prayer in action," she affirms in a matter-of-fact manner.  "In doing so, you share yourself with those around you, especially the next generation.  Continue to be, continue to walk your path, continue to give and receive unconditional love in all its many forms, continue to give wholeheartedly.  These gifts are the ultimate legacy.  So simple, yet so profound, they're worth more than money, status, and power."

We sit in silence for awhile, her love wrapping itself around me — a hug from the other side.  And then, she fades away.  But I hear her whisper: "Continue to be, continue to walk your path, continue to give and receive unconditional love in all its many forms, continue to give wholeheartedly."

I say this daily prayer for all, especially my amazing significant other, who loves me completely; my four awesome stepkids, who are the greatest teachers in my life and always in my heart; their mother, who intuitively trusts and respects others no strings attached; my parents and brother for being there; and lastly, Mary, who was, and still is, a mentor just beyond the hearth.  

The Morning Portal

The lighthouse at my back, I face the brightening eastern sky.  All is quiet, except for distant boat motors, lapping water against the retaining wall, and an eight-year-old boy gasping in wonderment over the miracles of morning light and its colors.

An egret lands near the docks.  Now, completely still, it continuously scans the water for breakfast.  And then ... SPLASH!!!  A fish struggles in its long beak.

The steamy, salty air rises from the ground.  I breathe it in, then out.   I feel it creeping over my skin — a baptism by ocean and heat.  Cleansed and fully present, I greet the day and walk through the morning portal.

Lammas

Be grateful for each moment; each one is a lesson learned and gift given.  These moments first started as seeds sowed last spring.  They pushed their green shoots through the soil, reaching for the sun's nourishing rays; thus, they grew strong.

And now, Lammas is here.

The First Harvest produces crops and next year's seed.  The latter is so important.  Without quality seed, there would be no crop, both literally and metaphorically.

What has come to fruition for you?  What are your Lammas lessons and gifts?