Dear Soul Beings,
It’s Thanksgiving weekend and a malaise has settled into my body. Something dark, constricted and small. A matrix of phlegm, of pain and sadness. A curtain is drawn. Since the election, I cannot remember my dreams, I’ve had trouble writing, eating and sleeping. And now, this malaise has settled into my cells in the form of a virus.
There are black wings in the sky, and I am struggling, as many of us are, with anger and depression that borders on hopelessness. This is not indicative of my true nature. I am always looking to regenerate, create, pray and dream. But lately, I have been suckled into this malaise. My foundation is cracking.
My husband sits at his computer, researching properties, writing contracts, paying bills, listening to the news 24/7.
“It may not be so bad. We will get through it,” he says, somewhat detached. He couldn’t vote and is not a citizen. His heart is broken on the inside. He was rooting for Bernie.
My daughter, on break, alternately Facetimes with her Boston friends, plays the piano, sings and watches The Mindy Project. I have files saved for her future, dangling on a string.
Words dance before my eyes as I try and read fiction. I write a few words of poetry and think back to Thanksgiving, growing up, as I did, in a purple house in Oak Park, Michigan.
Me standing in ballet shoes by the kitchen sink, filmy skirt and ribboned ankles. Nine years old. The oven is hot and turkey steam filters out, grease drips down the oven door, noodle keugle damp with egg on the counter, waiting it’s turn to heat, green beans fragrant with onions, and I am pirouetting around the kitchen, potato peeler in hand. Music from the Nutcracker is blasting through the radio. In a couple of weeks I will don a crimson velvet and tulle costume as the Sugar Plum Fairy. My parents work silently in the kitchen.
It is six days since the Kennedy assassination and the television has been on non-stop. The neighbor boy, a teenager, admonishes me and my sister for playing outside while the nation is in mourning. Black feathers filter down from the sky. We run inside.
“This is just the beginning,” my father says. He was raised with the Holocaust in his family’s back yard, and depression from that era fed into a whole spectrum of shame. Depression that led to passivity.
I feel that depression. All those decades of protest and violence, civil rights and illegal wars, death and destruction, activism and small victories.
What do I say to my daughter? She is sheltered but sensitive and wise and as absorbent as a sponge.
“He’s not my president,” she echoes. She writes. She sings. She’s trying to make sense of it all.
But I can only see world tumbling backward into shadow, as we sink into the belly of the beast. The entrails of this soulless, misogynistic, fascist monster, have risen to the top. I cannot hear a heartbeat in the shadows. How do I humanize the shadow? I cannot hear a heartbeat in the bully rant and my feet are having a hard time grounding.
I fill my bath with rose petals and feel more alone than ever. Who am I to bathe in rose petals? Who am I to get trussed up while the river is flowing backward.
In my heart, I know I cannot run away. My mentors and guides continue to remind me that healing will come from the Spiritual and Creative realms and from taking action.
There are people I know working eighty hour weeks that cannot afford their mortgage payments. Cannot afford their health insurance payments. Cannot get out from the mountain of 2008’s debt. The establishment did not campaign at their door. Trumplefuck used them to wipe his drool.
The planet is teetering. My head screams. I am surrounded by in-fighting. Everyone is angry and defensive, including myself. We are all on a collective journey into the dark night of the soul. How can I not remember the Holocaust and demon hate so many practiced? It feels like we are on the edge of the abyss. How do I call up love? How do I feed my Soul? I am searching for a heartbeat.
Family and dogs are packed into the 4Runner on the last day of the holiday. Despite my fever and cough, we know we have to do what we can to keep ourselves sane. We are on a mission. We are looking for a heartbeat to ground ourselves.
The road up to Taos always feels like a magical journey. The bare darkened branches of the cottonwoods sway in the wind. A pale sky, heavy with clouds is mirrored in the river below. Ravens watch from on high while a party of robins huddle on a fallen bough. We pass the Gorge and wind through the canyon, heading for the giant teepees off Highway 68.
Five miles south of Taos, at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, we spot the teepees and pull off. We are at the home of Taos Drums. We make our way through the showroom, looking at drums hollowed out from logs, displayed with feathers, rugs and flutes. There is also a selection of crafts, furniture and jewelry from local Native American and Hispanic artisans.
We make our way to the back room that is stocked with different shapes and sizes of drums and each of us is given a beater to test the timber and voice of the drum. I had been here a couple of times before, first when I was diagnosed with cancer. I feel certain the hand drum I bought at that time, sang healing back into my cells, helped shrink the tumor and deeply emboldened my spirit to carry forth.
We settle on a triangular shaped log drum, 20” high that has a nice deep bellow to it. This will reach deep into the soul of Mother Earth and connect to our own souls. We leave happy and content. After a bit of soup and a wander through the shops off the Plaza, we drive home, catching the last hour of light. Mostly we are quiet, listening. Marika sings, the dogs nap.
Once home, I crawl into bed. The congestion had settled into my chest. I could not eat, or read, and was having trouble breathing. I needed to rest. That night I had a dream that the big long snake was crawling up beside me. A voice spoke.
“The snake in you is growing.”
When I awoke, I wrote down the words in my dream journal. Really? I asked myself. I felt so absolutely worn out and devoid of spirit, I had to wonder. But I had taken action. The drum was in the house and waiting to sing.
The next night, night of the new moon, I gathered the family in my studio. I lit the candles and smudged with sage. We sat in a circle and I said a prayer, a prayer for connection, for love, healing and protection and protection for others. Within minutes, I felt like I was inside the heartbeat. I couldn’t tell if I was drumming or the drum was drumming me. The connection was between all of us and the earth was palpable. After a while, the trance took over and I had a vision that we were surrounded by white horses who were flying around and circling the house. Prayers of gratitude.
That night I went to bed with a smile on my face. I woke up in the early morning from a dream, where we were renting a cabin in the woods and when we entered the front door, there were these baby wild cats that looked like ocelots. They had gorgeous markings, brilliant green eyes, and very eager to play, especially with our mini poodle terrier puppy. I was so entranced, I lay down on the floor to try and garner their attention. The landlady came in to watch. Then the mother cat, which looked more like a mountain lion, wandered in and lay down silently behind me. She nuzzled toward my hip and gently nipped me. The landlady said, “Oh she does that from time to time.”
I feel transformed when I wake up and for the first time in a week feel ready to face the day. I am suffused in wild life imagery: wild white horses, a symbol of balance, wisdom and power. Baby ocelots, which symbolize shining the light in dark places and following one’s instinct, defending ones rights and speaking out. Mountain lion is a guardian symbol of what is precious. She is also a symbol of balancing wild beauty with feminine power.
These dreams feed my soul and keep me centered. Drumming is my way of practicing radical self-love. What is yours? I wish you all peace and love.