Sunday, December 27, 2009

Desert Dreamin'

I've written down my dream night last night in detail because it feels important to me. As usual, don't read on if other people's dreams bore you because this retelling would most likely drive you crazy! For me, this is a good place to document my dreams for later.

I dreamed I knew exactly what to say to hurt Mario. So I said it. I was very cruel. Later I was talking with Ingrid, woman who is going to teach a year long rune class (in waking life). She had all these dolls and some clothes, all made by her. They were extremely expensive. I thought she was gouging people.

She started yelling at my friend Jenine, trying to get her to buy something she said Jenine had taken home. I stood up to her and told her she had no right to talk to Jenine that way. She backed down. I had taken home one of her tops. It cost $1,800. I surreptitiously put it back. (I've been looking into taking a desert plant spirit medicine course but it costs $1,800, which I think is way too expensive.) In waking life, she's very kind; in this dream she was imperious. Despite all of this, I think I was still going to take the rune course from her.

Then I was preparing for a meeting with Ron Perlman, his wife, and his daughter. (Not his real life wife or real life daughter.) We had been in love back in his "Beast" days, but we had never done anything about it since we were married to other people. I hadn't seen him in years, and in the dream, I knew I hadn't seen him when my nose was so swollen and distorted because I felt so ugly. Now since I looked more "normal" I could see him. We drove to meet him. I saw him unloading something from his truck for his new store. I stopped to say hello but he ignored us, so I turned the car around.

Then I was helping with some kind of movie library before our meeting. They were going to make Ron a suit out of this fabric with brightly-colored squares. I thought it was awful. He wasn't sure. I held the fabric up to myself and they all saw how awful it was. I said, "Just go as you are. You look fine." He was wearing black slacks, a kind of dull gold shirt, and a brightly colored tie that clashed. I went up to him and said, "Just take off the tie," and I helped him do that.

Then we were in the park. His daughter was running. I was worried she'd fall in this dip in the ground. I picked her up and swung her around. Her eyes were amazingly black. I put her down. His wife was there somewhere and so was Mario. Ron sat in a chair (?) and I stood behind him and put my hands on his chest. He said, "I knew you would understand." (I don't know what that meant, but it was a deeply personable and affectionate moment.)

It was dark in the park. I sat on the grass and momentarily worried about ticks. Next to me was a tall grassy mound or hill. I looked up it. When I looked down I saw these tiny white flowers everywhere. I said, "Fairies." I saw something in the grass.

I reached down and picked up a black rosary. It was beautiful. The beads were made out of some kind of matte gem or material. The metal pieces had the signs of the zodiac on them. Also, the metal centerpiece (or maybe where the crucifix was supposed to be) was a mermaid, or at least a woman/goddess head with long flowing hair. I thought I should probably turn it in because it was so beautiful and someone would miss it, but I did want to keep it. There was more in the grass, maybe even rune pieces, but I woke up.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

By The Light

It is sundown in the Sonoran desert. The edge of the east horizon is scarlet. A dog is barking somewhere. No sign of the great old horned owl that usually sleeps in the palm tree near the peanut-shaped pool. The east horizon, above the Rincon Mountains, is a delicate blue, almost turquoise, and I want to wear it, like a dress, with a scarf around my neck the color of the east horizon.

Mario has gone to town to get dinner. I have a headache. The sound of the heater is annoying. The light from the compact fluorescent bulbs hurts my eyes. I am certain one day they will tell us that exchanging all our incandescent bulbs for these fluorescent bulbs was a bad idea. The light is stark and clinical. Incandescent light is...well, incandescent. Fluorescent bulbs aren't going to save us.

But I digress.

I am trying to unwind after a very scary and traumatic week. I woke up today feeling as though I'd been hit by a truck. As I stumbled up out of bed, I could only imagine what my father felt like. All day we kept getting good news about him. He was out of bed. He was joking around. They took out all his lines.

I felt more and less stressed all day. Mario started his new novel. I wondered if I would be able to begin my writing project. It is the reason we come here every year: to write in a beautiful (and sunny) place. But I need to relax. I did some meditation today, something I should do every day and do most days when I'm feeling good. It's those times when I don't feel like doing it that it would most likely benefit me.

This afternoon I have been thinking about why I write about taboo subjects. I have been writing on a blog for a long time now, since 2003. I've written about politics, my fury and despair over the Bush years, my depression and anxiety, food, nature, my travels, my writing, ecstasy, and various other things. I've had people I know say, "Do you really want to say these things in public? It's so personal."

It's an interesting question with a simple and complex answer. I have been writing since I was five years old. Writing was always how I communicated with the world. It has also been how I figured out the world and myself. I have written publicly about my own struggles with depression and anxieties because I think it's important to do so. Depression is still one of those things that people do not talk about. And anxieties or fears are even more taboo subjects. In fact, any kind of illness, especially so-called "mental" illnesses, are restricted topics of conversation. There is still so much shame attached to any kind of mental illness.

But mental illness is not a character flaw. Having fears and anxieties is not a character flaw. No one wants to be mentally ill. No one can just "snap out of it." No one gets depressed or becomes fearful on purpose.

For years I didn't tell anyone about my off again on again depression, besides the numerous therapists. And no one knew about any of my fears. Even today when people who have known me for years find out, they often say, "But you seem so confident. I can't imagine you afraid of anything."

I think the people who have fears and who carry on with their lives are the bravest people in the world. If you aren't afraid of anything, you aren't brave; you're just clueless and/or lucky as hell.

So I write about depression. I know how lonely and hopeless it feels. I know we are so brave for trying to struggle our way out of this damn proverbial paper bag. I want everyone who has depression or who has had depression to know that they are not failures, they are not unlucky, and there is light at the top of that paper bag.

And it helps me to write about it. I still don't talk about it much. People don't know what to say when I do speak of it. I told a friend about it once and she said, "I don't have time to be depressed." At my two year Celtic program, I told one of the participants about feeling depressed and she said, "It's because you aren't connected to the Divine Source." Neither of these responses was appropriate or compassionate. What they should have said is something along the lines of: "I'm so sorry. I'm here to listen if you need a sympathetic ear."

Another strange thing I write about publicly is my relationship with the Invisibles. I talk about fairies and plant spirits and other such goodies. And I talk to fairies and plant spirits and other such goodies. I come to all of this honestly. I grew up in the country, and my best pals were the trees and plants and animals all around me. I didn't get people. What they said often contradicted what I thought the truth was. (You know what I mean. "Nothing's wrong. Every thing's OK." When actually everything was wrong and nothing was OK.)

But trees! Ahh, they were my saviors. I'd climb The Lullabye Tree, sit on one of the limbs, and sing for hours. It was my favorite place in the world, there where the woods met the marsh. I left food for the hawks in an old scraggly evergreen. I named rocks and had conversations with them. I stood at the edge of the marsh and watched for ignis fatuus (and flying saucers). And I had an entire "imaginary" world where the girls and women had magical powers (and men and boys didn't). I was only visiting Earth and disguising myself as an Earth girl to learn about Earth ways.

I spent most of my time out of doors. It was my father who taught me the names of the flora and fauna. It was my father who sniffed the air and said it smelled like snow and from then on I knew what the air smelled like just before it snowed.

I was completely in love and entranced by the natural world. It is no wonder or surprise that as an adult I would rekindle my love affair. I have experiences with plants that are just as real and incarnate as my experiences with human beings. So why would I doubt the veracity of them?

I believe we have more than six senses in our beautiful bodies. If we're open to the possibilities, who knows what we can sense, what we can experience. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a scientist. I still consider myself a scientist: I am constantly studying and learning about this old world of ours. There is so much more to learn.

I suppose I could say I write about what I know, but I also write about what I don't know. Sometimes in the writing of it, I learn more or realize I know less. I write about what I love, but I also write about what I despise. Sometimes in the writing of it, I change my mind. I write about my life because it is fascinating to me. Sometimes I am amazed I get through it; sometimes I am amazed at the charmed life I lead. But in the end, it's what I do. I write. I live. I write some more.

Ain't I lucky?

Mario just got home from the grocery store. He brought me a present: incandescent light bulbs. We go around the room and put them in here and there. The room feels better immediately, more homey. Softer. I'm sure all the Invisibles in this room quite agree with me.

Or maybe it's just me. But I feel positively glowing.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Up and Over, Down and Under


We left in the dark Sunday morning. Traveling away from the heart of the world for our annual pilgrimage to the Old Mermaids Sanctuary. I had sung to the weather spirits and whispered to the mountains and the dragon of the hills for days ahead of time. Now we said goodbye to the house and the land and drove away.

We stopped every hour to change drivers. At one rest stop, a group of scrub oaks grew up tall and lithe and looked like a grove of dryads caught in the dance. We bowed to them.

Later we went up and over. The pass was clear. I pressed my hands against the window in thanks. When the White Mountain came partially into view—she wore clouds like a veil—we stopped the car and made offerings to the mountain and the weather spirits. The wind whipped the offerings away. And it was done.

We passed the dragon made visible and knew we were on our way. We waved.

We kept driving. The light on the distant hills was mesmerizing. Unlike anything we had seen on this journey in other years. Sweet light shafted the hills here and there, like giant spotlights, making the hills look like mountains, green and gold, never dull, never gray.

When it wasn't raining, hawks perched on fence posts in the fields just beyond the highway. The hawks looked toward the road, waiting for some passing car to kill some passing creature. I loved the plump hawks immediately but was glad not to participate in their feeding this day.

We saw crows everywhere on our journey: individual crows picking at dead things on the pavement and flocks of crows rising up from the trees and fields. There they were, our ever present road companions, at every rest stop. In every field.

Redding was nondescript. In our hotel room, I got emails from my father. He seemed to be recovering. Wished I could do more.

I slept some.


We began the morning driving through thick fog. Sometimes my vision was so impaired by the fog that I kept driving only on faith. It felt like one of those nightmares where I was driving with my eyes closed—or through a thick fog.

It seemed appropriate for this pilgrimage to the Old Mermaids Sanctuary, somehow, to have to make it through the fog. To come out the other side.

All my trips to the Old Mermaids Sanctuary are pilgrimages. I go to write. To rest. To be still. To walk with the wild things. To be in the desert is to be present to all things, to the possibility of death. The possibility of life. The fog only reminded me that the veil was thin between here and there.

The fog ended. I heard from my youngest sister. She said our pops looked good. I was glad to have some of us there looking out for our dad. On Saturday last, five of my friends and I had done healing work for my father. It felt powerful and loving. Before I left home Sunday morning, my dad emailed that he'd had the best night yet and asked me to thank the healers.

Sometimes life works in mysterious ways.

Near the end of the day, we drove The Grapevine, up and over the Tejon Pass and then down toward Los Angeles. I could feel the dragon in the land. Moving, stretching, twisting.

We found a place to stay the night. After dark, we went out to the spa by the pool near our room. We took off our shoes and socks, sat on the stone, and put our feet in the hot water—becoming mer creatures for the evening. At least part of us. The sound of the traffic seemed to surround us, as though we were at the bottom of a circular waterfall, only it wasn't soothing like a waterfall. It felt intrusive and overwhelming. I got up and turned on the jets of the spa. The sound of the traffic disappeared.

We kicked the water. I closed my eyes. I whispered, "Hello." And then I felt as though the disappeared and displaced creatures from all around came to be near us. "I had nothing to do with this," I said. "I wouldn't have paved paradise." Although I wondered if it was true that I had nothing to do with it: After all, I was sleeping in a place where they paved paradise. "And he had nothing to do with it either." Not my Mario. "What can I do?"


I looked around. Was that a rowan tree heavy with berries near us or some other tree disguising itself as the rowan on this Winter Solstice night? Weren't rowan trees notorious fairy hangouts? There was something wholly natural about this tree in such an unnatural setting. The red berries hung down from the branches like tiny edible rubies waiting to be plucked.

I could feel the real place beyond the concrete, beyond the traffic, underneath. Underneath.

Under the Earth I go...

I opened my mouth and sang. A wordless song. A song of recognition. Everything got still as I sang.

All that has passed away, all creatures, the flora, the shape of the earth, all these beings are mi familia.

It seemed as though the world settled into place as I sang.

Or else I did.

Eventually we shook the glittering scales off our feet and legs and got out of the water. Nothing looked the same any more, or any different. Mario and I held hands and went back to our room.


In the morning, we drove away from the dragon place and headed east to the desert. Blue-black clouds hung from the sky like a heavy theater curtain ready to drop. Eventually the clouds moved north and the sun came out. At a rest stop a hummingbird greeted us. Our first desert creature. The dirt beneath our feet was pink and diamond-colored.

On the radio news, we heard the wind had kicked up a dust storm on I-10, not far from us. The dust had became a cloud and moved over the road. People died in collisions and explosion. I stood on the pink dirt and called out to the wind. Be calm, be calm. The wind snapped the flags at the rest stop. I didn't remember ever seeing sustained wind like this in Arizona before.

We drove deeper into the desert. The low mountains hunkered into the ground. Saguaros raised their arms in greeting. I recognized this land. I knew it in my bones.

After a while, ahead of us, a strange kind of fog moved, only we knew it wasn't fog. We talked about what we would do if visibility got bad. We realized we had no idea what was a prudent course of action in a dust storm. I wondered if this was what the West would become as the climate changed and the top soil continued to erode: a giant dust bowl a la Oklahoma? We should all be prepared for this.

I thought of the dream I had last week about tornadoes. I could see small one and huge ones all across the landscape. In fact, I couldn't see the land, only the storms. In the dream, Mario and I tried to get to my father. We passed through the wall of the tornado unharmed. Later we survived a tsunami. We ended up at an old farmhouse, or some such—some kind of amazing house made from dirt, sunlight, and darkness.

As we watched the dust storm, I sang for rain. Wouldn't rain stop a dust storm?

We kept traveling through the dust. Visibility never got bad or dangerous. Yet it felt apocalyptic. As though everything had changed and we just didn't understand that yet. We were all living a life that had already passed us by.

Then it began to rain. Arizona monsoon rain. Only this was December. The sky was black. The dust storm disappeared into the ditches to be resurrected another day.

The rain followed us to the Old Mermaids Sanctuary. It stopped while we unloaded the car. Then it rat-tat-tatted the roof while I put away our things in our casita. It rained as I thought about how grateful I was to the people who owned this place, who built this place, who loved this place, who are this place. I thought about how this place had saved my life. How I would not be the person I am today if it wasn't for this place where I go and listen to the voices of the desert. Where I listen for the heartbeat of the world. Where I sing with the coyotes.

When the place felt like ours again, I went outside and stood at the edge of the rain. And I sang. The rain came down harder as I sang. Water splashed up all around me. It was so dark out I felt a little spooked. I thanked the weather spirits for helping us get here safely. I heard thunder. I shivered and went back inside. I could almost hear desert calling out to me, "you can run but you can't hide!"

It is true: in the desert you can't hide anything. It's all out in the open. One way or another, if you stay long enough, the desert will show you the truth. Every year here I learn things about myself and the world I didn't know before. Sometimes they are things I would rather not know.

But I am not going to think about any of that tonight. I am not going to think about my father's surgery in a few days. Or about what novel I'll write while I am here. Not yet. Tonight I am going to fall to sleep next to my sweetheart and listen to it rain in the desert.

Right now it sounds like the Old Sea is coming back to the New Desert. Perfect conditions for this pilgrim.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Personalized Old Mermaids Tales

Get your own personalized Old Mermaids tale. Go here to see how.

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All work copyright © Kim Antieau 2008-.