Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dark Goddess of Star Fire: A Meditation

As the sun passes from water into fire and the moon swells full over the cold, hardening ground of the land, I ready myself for a night of ritual. In preparation for tonight's work, a few days earlier I spent some time in prayer and meditation, seeking the wise company of whatever guides might appear.

It began with a few tenuous notes turning and echoing out across the waters, the keening of the violin striving against its own tension and yearning. I was there, on the same familiar rocky cliff that curved in around a small bay, the dark waters of the ocean stretching out far beneath me. The murmuring wash of waves among the pebbles of the beach below, rocking in rhythm until the music faded again into silence.

Stars in the Tarantula Nebula (NASA, Hubble, Aura, 04/01/99)Above me, the stars began to slip out into the night, one by one, as though disrobing from the dark veils of the night sky. One by one, they turned and shot a gasp of brilliance blazing out in a spiny halo of light around them, then pulled back again, glistening and humming with a silent energy. I lifted my head to ask them for their wisdom. It seemed as though one beckoned to me, glimmering more brightly than the rest. The vertigo of a wild night sky thrown open from horizon to horizon swept over me as my gravity seemed to shift — and then before me, solid as stone it seemed, a staircase spiraled upwards into the starscape. Step by step I climbed, my feet steady, my eyes on the scattered specks of light. Each step fell thick and heavy as though on stone draped over with the deep, plush fabric of night and darkness and stillness. As I reached the final stair, the star before me stepped close as a woman, dark and brilliant with features that seemed to shift as she turned, as though I gazed into her eyes from across countless light years. She smiled, and lifted her hand to caress my cheek and temple.

Then all at once, her other hand was at my throat, grasping my jaw firmly. With one quick motion she wrenched my face away, palm hard against my forehead, and I felt my spine snap as my body crumpled beneath her hard, cold fingers.

My body tumbled as it fell from the sky, loose and undone. I felt almost relaxed, my body buffeted and slowed by the wind, as though some tension in me had snapped and let me drop. I fell like a limp dead thing, which is what I was, and when I hit the ocean's surface, it gave way with almost as little resistance as the air, opening its dark mouth in a crater-like wave that closed over me again as I sank down beneath the waters.

Down and down I sank, making no attempt to swim or even draw a breath. My body became as heavy and dark as the oceans themselves, and creatures glided past me in the dark glistening a wet gold, slipping in and out of sight almost like stars. It seemed to me that all this time, I could see the stars shining above me, above the surface of the water, though only dimly — so dim that perhaps it was no more than a memory. My body lay on the rough bottom of the sea for a long while, its limbs swayed only by the slow, sluggish motions of the currents. I do not remember making the decision to move again — and maybe it was only the ocean itself that gradually pushed and pulled and turned me towards the shore — but eventually I found myself on hands and knees, stumbling and crawling up the pebbled beach, waves dragging at me as I gasped and sought for a hold.

Exhausted, I could not go far, but sat just above the highest reach of the waves where they ran themselves out between the wet, rounded stones. I sat for a while, catching my breath as it returned and letting the ocean water drip from me until I found I was quite dry, though chilled beneath the night sky once more. Then down the beach came the white hound, old companion of this place, bounding with joyful greeting towards me. I flung my arms around her in an embrace and buried my face and hands in her warm, dog-scented fur. Life, with that warmth and panting breath and bounding joy, began to return to me and I felt happy and grateful to have found her again after so long an absence. The dog curled up beside me on my left as my hand ran over her long, white fur in gentle strokes, and together we sat still for a time on that pebbly shore.

Then there was the dark star goddess beside me again, sitting with her knees drawn up to her chest, feet bare against the wet rocks, the hem of her deep blue robes clinging with damp to the stone. I was not afraid, but comforted as she drew my head down to rest on her shoulder and she stroked my cheek again just as I stroked the dog's warm fur. Though she did not say a word to me, I came to understand the killing blow she'd dealt me was not a violence or punishment, but her gift to me: a change in perspective that sent me plummeting into the depths. Too many are striving towards the stars, climbing those steep ladders and struggling with all their might towards the heights to catch a glimpse of something marvelous.

Birth of Stars (NASA, Chandra, 10/7/08)She turned a little so that we could look one another in the eye. Sitting there on the beach, she was barely taller than I was, her face shifting in and out of shadow, her eyes shining, her hair seeming sometimes wet and dark as to be almost black in long, flowing locks, and sometimes like a liquid fire, deep amber and auburn, strands curling and licking along the pale, perfect skin of her face and shoulders like tongues of flame. Leaning forward, she pressed her little lips against my forehead in a lingering kiss. I felt the warmth of that kiss seep into the depths of me, blossoming and opening outwards from within. The sky above me seemed expansive and infinite in the darkness. The ocean spread like a black, rippling plain of reflected starlight so vast and great and deep that it stole all breath from my body. The stone and earth below me shuddered with solidity and power, hard and warm and heavy like a great weight on which I walked like some delicate, fragile thing. The three realms loomed in majesty, surrounding me in glory where I sat stunned in awe on the threshold, that liminal space where land and sea meet sky. I was so utterly small — and yet, a witness to this greatness, I held all this in the intimacy of my own body, concentrated and unfurling through the three realms, the elements of my being a microcosm of this larger world.

The goddess of starlight and transformation leaned away from me, a small, slight figure full of power and primordial energy churning in the dark. This is it, she seemed to say, this is what you are here for. To be the witness to the wild, overwhelming wonder of the world — to be small and simple beneath the sky, to drift light and buoyant upon the sea, to dance fragile and always half-rootless across the land. No other view is better than this one right here, no other view is meant for you. You cannot become big by strife and struggle. You can only participate in the vastness of creation, you can only join in relationship with the greatness of the world, by staying here to attend to your place in it with openness and gratitude. You are not in service to your self alone; you are in the service of greater things than you.

The kiss lingered still, flooding my senses with the slow opening of light and energy and song. I felt as though I were slipping into deeper trance... yet soon I found myself opening my eyes, the meditation over, the mundane room around me and the candle flickering in its holder, amber-rose in the bright sunlight thrown in slanted rays across the coffee table. Still, the energy flowed through me, and the vision remained.

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