A Lament for My Familiar

Death. I’ve been acutely reminded of its omnipresence in many ways lately. Seeing the low angle of the sun at this time of year has begun to trigger my seasonal affective disorder. My nightly cemetery walks have been tinged with greater pensiveness and even despair. It’s a gloomy, cool day here in Chicago as the Sun gets ready to enter the eighth sign of the zodiac, Scorpio, herald of the mysteries of death and rebirth. I’m still processing the devastating news I received on Tuesday when I took my 11-year-old cat, Thor (a feral kitten rescue from Hawaii), to an emergency veterinary clinic for an abdominal ultrasound and other tests. My regular veterinarian had performed an X-ray on Thor to determine the cause of his misshapen stomach and elevated liver levels revealed from recent blood testing. The X-ray indicated a mass protruding from Thor’s liver–one so large it had actually pushed Thor’s stomach at a 90-degree angle. No wonder Thor’s lost 9 pounds in a little over two months. Was it a tumor? If so, could surgery be an option? I was referred to the emergency clinic, which is equipped with an advanced radiology department, to find the answers. Instead, the main veterinarian there stunned me with the diagnosis: advanced pancreatic cancer that has metastasized to his liver and lungs. And then those horrible six words, laden with the iron weight of finality:

“There is nothing we can do.” Continue reading

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The Road to Mana: Re-Membering Soul Loss, Restoring Forgotten Gods

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.

–T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets (“Little Gidding”), 1942. Section V

Epilogue, Part 1

Chicago, Illinois

Thursday, July 9, 2015

“Anna, my spirit guides told me this: ‘The place where this all started [Hawaii] is what’s going to heal her.'”

Continue reading

Wight Power: Cultivating Right Relationship with Land Spirits

Winter is finally starting to lose its vise grip here in The Chi. Daytime temps have been hovering in the 40s and 50s since Sunday, tolling a death knell for the mounds of snow. It’s actually possible to see patches of grass on peoples’ front lawns and in public parks once again, and the faintest buds are beginning to poke through the tips of tree branches. And so last night, for the first time in months, my Bodacious Beau™ Dan and I went out for a leisurely stroll in our local cemetery. That unmistakable angle of the almost-spring sun receding behind adjacent rooftops in the west just before it plunges into its deep, egg-yolk hue at sunset warmed both of our hearts immensely. Sparrows, robins, and turtle doves warbled and cooed from the neighboring trees. Indeed, all of nature seemed to be ringing out a symphony of joy, and I felt delighted to be unhindered in my ability to leave offerings for the spirits of the land and our Dunning neighborhood’s dead. I clutched my slices of homemade banana nut bread (the Mother Squirrel–I’ve named her Ratatosk as a nod to Norse mythology–residing in the Hel-Tree in the cemetery would surely be pleased!) to my chest and Dan and I grinned at each other as we traipsed our way through the soggy cemetery grounds. Continue reading

Whispers of Pele: Musings on Death and Rebirth During My Hawaiian Honeymoon, 2004

Whispers of Pele

 

The overpowering sulfur dioxide fumes that had been our constant companion since we’d entered Volcanoes National Park had certainly affected my respiratory system by three in the afternoon, making me wheeze with each intake of air during this, our third straight hour of hiking makai (towards the sea) as we neared the end of Chain of Craters Road. Continue reading

St. Lucy’s Day: Composed at Ewa Beach Park, Oahu, 12.13.03

Formerly tormented

The rudders of my heart

Steer me towards an inner you

Ferried by fate

The gleaming words

Bend like reeds

Suppositions of selfhood

 

I imagine you borne aloft and far away

It brings me grief

I imagine you borne aloft and far away

Peace escapes this shore

With every retraction of wave

What went before

In copper-colored disarray

The grains of sand

Disappear into murky hesitancy

The gasp before the scream Continue reading