with thanks to
Two trees form a gate.
For hours...I stand...contemplating: Threshold.
Past, present, future.
The 'who' or 'what' one was "once upon a time".
The 'who' or 'what' one will be --- terrain not yet entered.
This is how landscapes and soul,
and landscapes in the soul,
I ponder my "Fool's Journey".
Giving voice to the Great Wound so many felt (and still feel);
diasporic orphans of Alba and Cymru and Eire
disconnected from primal lands
disconnected from ancestors
disconnected from ways of connecting with primal lands and ancestors.
Mine was surely a fool's errand,
and, thus, I was branded a fool.
How many of you have been deemed a fraud
by those who've ne'er even met you?
How many of you have lived under a cloud of threats?
How many of you have had false narratives about you
spun-up like a froth
involving deeds you weren't even around for?
It's surreal, to be sure.
Should you ever find yourself in similar straits,
I can only offer you one piece of advice.
If a poisoned banquet is laid out for you,
the Hermit Road
will take you
to much better feasting.
--after Jenny Blain, with thanks to Jenny Blain
Regrets? Oh, yes.
My one regret was a scholarly misstep.
Back to that whole Fool's Journey thing.
It was kind of like trying to give someone directions
and handing them the wrong street names
and all of the wrong house numbers.
Note to all travelers of the Valley of Ghosts:
It's all far, far older than you might at first think.
As for me...
I was a kid then, and I've never been much of a scholar.
But a single whiff of hazelnut baccy (tobacco)
and I'm back there in a jiffy.
Just like The Fool on the first card of the tarot,
his seeker's nose nuzzled deep in blossoms of memory as he steps off a cliff,
I still remember a night in Wicklow
when I nearly fell from the slippery rocks above Glendalough.
All in pursuit of "the great thread of re-connection".
I would have tumbled to my death 20-ft below,
smashing limbs and back and neck and face on the wet rocks.
Somehow, though, the ferns caught me as I grasped at them.
I managed to scamper back up the cliff to solid ground.
Somehow, some way, I had help.
An O'Sullivan from Tipperary was with me.
He was just as shocked as I was
to encounter the glowing eyes waiting for us
once we were topside.
We both had a chill on our neck.
I asked: "Sheep?"
He replied: "Hopefully not Cu Sidhe."*
I returned to Dublin the next morning
to find emails from my mother, writing in from Georgia.
You wouldn't know it by looking at her, but she's quite the seer.
In all caps, her email read:
"WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?
ARE YOU OKAY?
Wherever you are,
it is COLD, and WET, and it feels like you're in DANGER."
A mother's love reaches across the nine waves.
I decided to wait until I was Stateside again
to tell her I nearly became a pile of bones
just down from the Spinc and Saint Kevin's Church.
Looking back, I realize now,
what I'd hoped would be a matter of re-knitting worlds
and healing wounds
was simply a symptom
of the trauma of ancestral forgetfulness.
At least my bumbling Fool's Journey
produced three unequivocal kernels of knowing:
The Otherworld is real.
The Otherworld is inhabited.
The Otherworld is separated from us by the thinnest of membranes.
Two trees form a gate.
The gate leads to a grove.
With uncovered feet, I step through
into the Land of Renewal.
image: "Passage Gate" / Frank "Hawk" Owen / Island Ford, Chattahoochee Forest
*Cu Sidhe is an infamous black dog in Irish lore.