🌱 Mornings can also be places where starlight is stored. Reading some #MaryOliver—Upstream was the second-to-last thing she ever published. I met her in 2006 at the Tattered Cover bookstore in LoDo (Denver lower downtown). I had to hear her readings from another room—the room was packed. Then I waited three hours to have her sign four books. When I got to the front of the line and she saw the books, she heaved the collective sigh of drained emotives and intuitive wordworkers—she nodded at me, stood up; and quietly went out into the dark dripping alley for a goddam smoke break. (She did kindly sign them on her return, smiling, light blue eyes twinkling behind reading glasses on a silver chain.) 🌲 This woman woke with the morning. Walked with the doe in her forest. Plucked shells from the sand like diamonds. She loved her dogs, living and passed on. In fact she published a whole book of poetry, Dog Songs, for them. She loved her wife of over 50 years who passed on before Mary did. So she knew lonely. A shaman of the earth—Mary Oliver left us a collection of maps (poems & essays) to show us the way—to her truth and lessons learned—if we should ever care to find her, that is—her and the doe, and the shell and the pond, moon and foot of the sparrow—and the pain of being different and the pain of childhood trauma (which she endured from her father) and how to love anyway—regardless—for five decades; and how not to kiss only a human being (‘let your body drink in the juice of the sweet wild blackberries and love what it loves’)—but, also a kitten born without one eye; a weed along the roadside; a savage parental wound; the thinnest thread of a dying lover’s final words; and mostly, most importantly, how to press your lips softer to the breast of Mother Earth and know her heartbeat. ✨ Wisdom for your day my friends. And calm should you need it to remain balanced.
Love yourself bigger today. Than you did yesterday.
Below: Mary Oliver w one of her beloved friends (Pinterest).
I have seen Life’s face Today and I am somber (Unsettled may be best); Shall the face of He be so Bewildered? So Shadowed? So sequestered? As if I could reach out a Sparkling arm to Life—a lifesaver— In time—before his mighty hulk Descends into the deep lost Water? What lies Beneath my Hope? What burrows sub-level In the heart’s wet red chambers? The cold Atlantic water shall Swallow him up—when all he Ever really wanted was tether, Dock, harbour. Within A circle of belonging. A cove of calm, which says: Welcome. Again And again And Again.
The practice of channeling — a person’s body being taken over by a spirit for the purpose of communication — has been around for millennia. There are countless stories of shamen, witch doctors, prophets and others who claim to hear voices or receive some supernatural knowledge from the spirit world. Channelers, also sometimes known as psychic mediums, often use what are called “spirit guides,” friendly spirits who give them knowledge and help them on their spiritual journeys.
According to Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer, authors of “Opening to Channel: How to Connect With Your Guide,” “channeling is a powerful means of spiritual unfoldment and conscious transformation. As you channel you build a bridge to the higher realms — a loving, caring, purposeful collective higher consciousness that has been called God, the All-that-Is, or the Universal Mind…. Channeling involves consciously shifting your mind and mental space in order to achieve an expanded state of consciousness.”
To achieve this expanded state of consciousness, channelers usually meditate, trying to break free of worldly influences and tune in to a higher consciousness. They may imagine themselves seeking out specific spirits of the dead, or they may be contacted, apparently unbidden, by some unknown force that wishes to communicate.
Ramtha, Roberts, & Other Writers
While most people channel to seek inner wisdom, entire books have been written, supposedly by ancient spirits channeled through modern mediums. In fact there are hundreds of such books, many of which can be found in New Age sections of bookstores and libraries around the world. The most famous American writer-channeler was Jane Roberts, who claimed to channel an ancient and wise entity named Seth. For her 1972 best-seller “Seth Speaks,” as well as several popular sequels, Roberts, as Seth, dictated esoteric information to her husband about the soul, the nature of consciousness, spiritual truths, higher planes of reality, and so on.
I started a novel. It’s scary. Not the novel. Well, it is going to be scary sometimes. But the act of it. The writing down things unbidden things did not sound realistic in the how-to books (it sounded safer) but seeing it happen in real-time is scary. Things start to grab at your pen things dart about your room things shadow the paper so it never remains purely white or yellow in candle-glow— but gray and hard to follow. I need to write this down; and so down I shall write it. Nail by damned cursèd cof fin n a i l .
Look down fair moon and bathe this scene, Pour softly down night’s nimbus floods on faces ghastly, swollen, purple, On the dead on their backs with arms toss’d wide, Pour down your unstinted nimbus sacred moon.
One hot afternoon in July of 1965, Jim Larkin and his wife JoAnn were slowly paddling their small green boat upstream on the Styx River that drains the northwestern corner of the Florida panhandle. Having spent the several hours around noon lazily fishing in a favorite spot, half a mile downriver from their blueberry farm, they were bringing back enough bream for themselves and half the town of Babylon besides. Jim’s widowed mother, Evelyn Larkin, was back at the farm, taking care of their son Jerry, eight years old, and their infant daughter Margaret, born only the year before.
JoAnn Larkin, who had pale skin and dark red hair, and always wore dark red lipstick and matching nail polish even when she was working in the patch, had already started to clean the fish, and was idly scraping scales back into the water. Her husband, Evelyn Larkin’s only child, paddled slowly, and kept his face turned away from the sun. He had to be careful about burn, and considered that it was a sore trial for a farmer and his wife to have fair skin.
“What’s that?” JoAnn said curiously, and pointed at something in the water, twenty feet away.
“It’s a croker sack,” Jim Larkin replied, and turned the boat a little so that they would come nearer it.
“It’s not one of ours, is it?” she said.
“I don’t think it’s one of ours. Who’d be throwing our croker sacks in the river?”
“I don’t know. We ought to take it back. Good croker sacks are getting harder to come by every day. Looks dry. Must have just fell in from somewhere.”
JoAnn leaned over the prow, and snared the sack. She swung it over the side of the boat, and set it between herself and her husband. The string that held the top together had already come loose in the water, and the sack fell open in her hands. With dampened rattles, five snakes slithered out over the lip of the burlap.
The man and woman drew back in fear, pushing frantically against the rattlesnakes with their feet. Each was bitten several times, and probably would have suffered more had not their thrashing panic overturned the small boat.
Jim Larkin dived deep, and in a few seconds attempted to come up for air. Among the dead bream that floated on the surface of the water, he could see the snakes coiled and waiting. Their tails swaying slowly in the water beckoned him upward. He lost consciousness and drowned.
JoAnn Larkin swam to a sandbar, crawled across it, and fell into a sand-sink, which are as common as leeches along the margin of the Styx. She was sucked in slowly, and all the while never left off calling her husband’s name. But she gave over all resistance to the sinking sand when she saw his corpse rise suddenly to the surface of the water, and bob among the dead fish. His head was thrown back, his eyes wide, and one of the snakes pushed its way into his slack mouth.
Their bodies were never recovered. JoAnn Larkin’s skeleton, white and contorted, still lies frozen in the sand a dozen feet below the surface of the Styx. Jim Larkin was spun a couple of miles downstream, and then wedged into a rocky crevice in the bed of the river; there the normally sluggish black waters of the Styx, rushing through this submerged ravine, industriously pried the rotting flesh from his bones.
Evelyn Larkin had nothing of her son and daughter-in-law to mourn over and bury. The overturned boat, protecting the nested croker sacks and two drowned rattlesnakes, told no plausible story of their deaths. One July morning they had rowed down the Styx and simply failed to return.
Though she had no remembrance of her parents, Margaret Larkin never went swimming in the river, for fear that she would be dragged down to the bottom by her drowned mother and father. And her brother Jerry never after crossed the bridge over the Styx without glancing uneasily among the pilings, dreading to see there his parents’ decayed corpses. Yet they said nothing of these irrational terrors to one another, nor to their grandmother, who never lost the feeling that her son and daughter-in-law were still to be found somewhere in the river’s meandering length.
Eventually, a small cenotaph was raised in the Larkin family plot in the Babylon cemetery. It was marked with the names of the couple and bore the simple legend: LOST UPON THE STYX. 14 JULY 1965.