Archive for February, 2012

February 21, 2012

not lost

One of Hali’s vocabulary words the other day was meander, which got me……okay, I won’t say it. Did you know the origin of the word is from the Maiandros or Maeander River in what is present-day Turkey? The ancient Greek geographer Strabo said of the river, “its course is so exceedingly winding that everything winding is called meandering.” There was a god associated with the river, also named Maiandros, of whom Strabo said, “And they say that lawsuits are brought against the god Maiandros for altering the boundaries of the countries on his banks, that is, when the projecting elbows of land are swept away by him; and that when he is convicted the fines are paid from the tolls collected at the ferries.”

So the word meander, which we think of as to wander, ramble, snake, stray from the course – has its roots in an actual river and still has a geographical meaning. A meander is a bend in a sinuous river or watercourse.

My day usually has a little meandering in it, as we live on 15 acres of fairly dense woods, with lots of raw land nearby. And it’s not unusual for me to veer from the path. I may not be out in the Amazon or anything major, but I still get a little thrill of discovery when I find a new route.

It makes me think of some of my very favorite words ever, by JRR Tolkien:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

February 15, 2012

across the ley lines

Ley lines are said to be energy lines that connect ancient spiritual sites, like stone circles, burial sites, pyramids, churches. The term was coined by the amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins in 1929, who said: “It is quite useless looking for existing fragments, however old, of roads which may remain from the first track, although, as we shall see, some bits may form useful indications of its site. The changes from early days have been so many in the matter of roads. We must therefore clear our minds, not only of what we think of roads, even Roman ones, but of our surmises, and begin again.”

It was common for ancient building practices to include geometry, solstices, moon phases and astronomy, especially for spiritual centers. The Chinese system of Feng Shui evokes a similar orientation to the movement of energy, or qi. Literally translated as wind-water, a cultural shorthand for a passage taken from the  Zangshu (Book of Burial) by Guo Pu of the Jin Dynasty:  Qi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when encountering water.

According to the site Ancient Wisdom, the duty of the practitioners of the art was to determine the flow of ‘lung-mei’, or ‘Dragon currents’. Every building, stone and planted tree was so placed into the landscape as to conform to the ‘dragon currents’ which flowed along these lines. The main paths of the forces were believed to be determined by the routes of the sun, moon and five major planets. We know that the Earth is encompassed within a magnetic field. The strength and direction of the magnetic currents vary according to the position of the sun, moon and closer planets. The magnetic field is also affected. Other traditions have believed in the movements of energy in a similar way, such as the ankh of ancient Egypt, prana of India, mana for the Polynesians, the ancient Greek pnuema.

The Ancient Wisdom article notes that The Aborigines of Australia tell of a ‘pastage’, which they call the ‘dream-time’, when the ‘creative gods’ traversed the country and reshaped the land to conform with important paths called ‘turingas’. They say that at certain times of the year these ‘turingas’ are revitalised by energies flowing through them fertilising the adjacent countryside. They also say that these lines can be used to receive messages over great distances.

The Incas used ‘Spirit-lines’ or ‘ceques’ with the Inca temple of the sun in Cuzco as their hub. (9) The Jesuit father Bernabe Cobo referred to these ‘ceques’ in his ‘History of the new World’. 1653. These were lines on which ‘wak’as’ were placed and which were venerated by the local people. Ceques were described as sacred pathways. The old Indian word ‘ceqque’ or ‘ceque’ means boundary or line. Cobo describes how these lines are not the same as those at Nazca, being only apparent in the alignment of the wak’as. These wak’as were most often in the form of stones, springs, and often terminating near the summits of holy mountains. Documentary records made by the Spanish record that ‘qhapaq Hucha’ ceremonies of human sacrifice (usually children), took place at wak’as as an annual event and also at times of disaster. In the 17th century the Roman catholic church ordered that the holy shrines along the routes be destroyed. As in Europe, many ancient holy places were built over with churches.

Elsewhere in America, fragments of ancient tracks can still be found such as the Mayan ‘Sache’, of which 16 have so far been found originating in Coba, Mexico. The following is a description of one found in the Yucatan;

‘…a great causeway, 32ft wide, elevated from 2-8 ft above the ground, constructed of blocks of stone. It ran as far as we could follow it straight as an arrow, and almost flat as a rule. The guide told us that it extended 50 miles direct to Chichen itza (it started from the other chief town of Coba) and that it ended at the great mound, 2km to the north of Nohku or the main temple in a great ruined building’.

Other ancient tracks have been found in New Mexico. These roads are barely visible at ground level and radiate from Chaco Canyon. As in Bolivia, some of these paths run parallel and others lead to nowhere. One of the major sites connected by the ‘Anasazi’ roads is Pueblo Alto.

Ley lines and energy pathways are fascinating. I have come to think of this idea with regards to connecting with important people in my life. In fact, I was introduced to the term by my friend Kathy. When I lived in Asheville, we had such serendipitous conversations that we decided that there must be a ley line from Asheville to Montclair. In fact, it was from these conversations that the idea for my book was born.
This is all a very long set up to post a few photos from a recent visit to Kathy’s home. As a global curator, of course she’s got amazing art, but truly, I think if she had a pile of rocks and twigs (like I do :))  her place would somehow look as beautiful. She has “the eye”. And she is about to launch a brand new venture, which I will talk about as soon as it is official. Lovely, aren’t they?

February 2, 2012

the goodbye girl

It’s been mostly a warm winter. Not much snow. My daily walk is an hour tip to tail on our property, with her arms spread out wide (I don’t know what that even means, but I’m going with it). So instead of the usual winter whites, my eyes have been feasting on mossy greens and peat-y browns. Brown on brown on green on gold. The woods have been lush, wet and alive, with lots of activity, growth. I will miss these woods.

We will only be in WV for another month or two and as we prepare to move out west, I realize how much place means to me. I truly yearn for a permanent home. Thanks to health and financial issues, the  last few years have felt very transient and unsettled. And as we head to Utah, we will probably still be in limbo for a time. But I feel so lucky to be living here, now. I love this place. F is already out in Utah and says the mountains and rivers there are so dramatic and gorgeous, WV pales in comparison. But I don’t believe it. Will I be able to walk for miles and not see a human? Will I find a secret wood chime like the one we hung out by a remote creek, one that will be a surprise for a future somebody?

What of these trees, these mushrooms, these paths? My signposts now are the tree-man, the ruffle mushrooms, cedar that runs into the fallen mossy oak, a faerie pine comb branch, and the place the dogs scramble down to the big creek.  The treasures I find are secret stories contained in an old jar of sparkly dirt, a hollow in a tree that the dogs drink water mixed with tree sap from,  and a concrete sign that foretells new beginnings. Maybe these woods mean so much to me  because, now all but forgotten, they were once well-explored, traveled, loved.

I don’t want to forget them, I want to tuck them away in my pocket, or wear them like a jacket. But you can’t really own a place, not like this. It reminds me of how I felt leaving Maine. I lived on an old berry farm there, in the hills, near snowmobile trails where I could leave my house and snowshoe for miles and miles. Where my Ace loved to eat the blackberries the grew along the dirt road. Like then it doesn’t seem possible that I will find a place that speaks to me with the quiet connection that has been right for me at this time in my life. And it quite literally does speak to me, in this house whose walls are made of cordwood, stone, colored glass bottles and the occasional dinosaur and secret message.

As a bohemian-type yankee from Connecticut & NY, then Boston, NH & Maine, the South was as foreign to me as if I had move out of the country. I haven’t always felt like I fit into West Virginia and North Carolina (except in my happy hippy town of Asheville). But there is much about the place that will always tug at my heart. The first day we moved back here, I got a flat tire and the very first person to pass me insisted on helping me fix it. It is a place of simple goodness (mixed with some wily reticence), with characters in every hill and holler. Our (world’s best) neighbors have traveled the world, but built their home on 40 acres right here, where we celebrated Christmas with them with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Then we came home and soaked in a wood-fired hot tub under the stars. I don’t know what life in Utah will be like, but I hope for natural beauty mixed with a community of good, natural, happy souls.

Azul watches over Salvador often


And speaking  of Southern love, my friend Diane of Dog and Pony Press tipped me off to the incomparable Butch Anthony. Oh my dog! Happy! Love! Donkey! Could not love this man, or this donkey, more.
donkey dance with butch anthony
and with just a tiny bit of stalking digging, I discovered that Butch is the partner (romantic) of another major stalkee of mine, Natalie Chanin of the inspirational Alabama Chanin. What a couple. And check out the place Butch built in Florence Alabama. I mean, who does not love the word laconic. Butch’s Doo-nanny Festival is coming up March 30-April 1, in Seale, Alabama.

In cuteness news, Hali loves to engage Siri, the cool chick who lives in my iphone in conversation. This morning, after a particularly good convo, Hali said to Siri, “I love you, Siri.”
To which Siri responded, “I’ll bet you say that to all your Apple products.”