WHEN THE FISH CAN’T BREATHE

WHEN THE FISH CAN’T BREATHE

I have always had a creek in my life. It seems like a soul necessity. Everyday life then becomes woven with the life of the creek and conversations are interspersed with creek references: “the creek is high,” or “let’s go down to the creek” or “the salmon are running.”  When I was a child, the creek in my life was “the Old House Creek” on my grandfather’s land.  I can still remember how it smelled– the sweetness of Cottonwoods and the damp green smell of fish.  It amuses me how creeks get their names—bits of history fixed in time. That creek was, of course, named after an old house that used to be there, but no one I knew could actually remember seeing it.

For the past 30 years I have lived with a creek in the Upper Nehalem Watershed called West Coal Creek because of the shiny bits of coal that were found among the cobble. At one time, in the early thirties, there was speculation about developing a coal mine on the main stem of Coal Creek to fuel the logging trains that were then hauling huge old growth trees out of the Coal Creek Valley.

When I first started walking along the creek, I made a trail along its edge. In the spring, a proliferation of wildflowers—yellow violets, lily of the valley, trillium, bugbane grew along the bank. Alder and large conifer lined the creek, some 2 or 3 feet in diameter.  Often I would see schools of cut throat trout, multitudes of crawdads, and, in the spring and fall, runs of coho and chum salmon.   The creek was alive but always changing.

In the past few years as the clear cuts in the hills above me increase leaving nothing to absorb the rain and slow the flow of water, the velocity of the water rushing through my land has also increased. The wildflower banks disappeared; next the trees near the stream were uprooted; more banks disappeared.  A yurt we optimistically put creekside had a fifteen foot buffer; this year we closed off the entrance path which is now straight over the edge and a ten foot drop.  One section of the creek simply blew out from the force and the debris.  It became a standing, brown lake in high water. In low water, large islands of silt were formed.

The coastal watersheds are very soft and erosion is part of the natural change we live with. Still as I have walked the creek these last few years and witnessed the erosion and siltation, I have also witnessed the disappearance of life.  I have not seen crawdads for several years; there are no more schools of cut throat trout; this year, I saw no salmon.  The fine gravel of their spawning beds is covered in silt. The silt and debris, of course, travel on down to the Nehalem and people have discussions about what can be done about a river filling with silt.

 

 

 

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SUMMER SOLSTICE HOLY DAY CEREMONY

 

June 21, Thursday, 12-2

At Wanderland Rainforest Iseum

Traditionally, the Holy Day of Summer Solstice is a celebration of the fullness of life—the warmth and abundance that the summer sun brings to the land and to our spirits. In this Summer Solstice ceremony, we will go back more than 3,000 years to the stories and myths surrounding Sirius (Sothis), a star that “rose from the underworld”  around the time of the Solstice, and whose radiance and beauty were so great that in Egyptian mythology, it was said to emanate the “Soul of Isis.”

This ceremony, led by Gwendolyn Endicott, is a celebration of Isis, the Mother and Heart of the Universe, and includes a meditation harmonizing our heart beat with the heart beat of the Great Mother. Pam Tillson will accompany the meditation on the drum. We will call on Isis to help us open our hearts in gratitude and to bring fullness and healing to us and to the Earth.

Ceremony begins at noon. There is no charge, but donations toward maintenance of the Forest Sanctuary are greatly appreciated. For more information contact Gwendolyn@nehalemtel.net

 

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DRINKING FROM THE STREAM OF TIME

                                                                              (published Upper Left Edge 2017)

Odin, from Norse Mythology, is a sky god who inhabits the top most branches of the World Tree. The World Tree is huge. Its roots go deeply back into Time, through generations of peoples and cultures, through the changing millennia of Earth itself, to the very belly of beginnings.  The branches of the World Tree grow far into the heavens and vanish from human sight.

Many sky gods feel superior to Earth, much like mind tends to feel superior to body. But Odin is drawn to storm, to clouds racing across the night sky split by lightning.  Perhaps this passion stirred in him Desire—for Odin Desired beyond the realm of most sky gods.  Odin wanted to drink from the stream of Time. He wanted Memory. He knew it would be painful; he knew he wouldn’t always be in control of memory. Still, he desired its gifts so much that he was willing to give one of his eyes so he could look inward.

Some fear the pain of memory and choose not to recollect. They become, as Joanna Macy puts it, “psychically numb.” Others crucify themselves with the pain of the past; they cannot see beyond it. They create a story that tells of their suffering, their wounding.  They tell it over and over.  It becomes who they are. It is a powerful drink, this gift of Memory.

From the gods’ dwelling place in the topmost branches of the World Tree, the story goes, Odin became aware of activity deep in its roots. He knew something important was happening there. But he could not see it clearly.  It looked to be three women spinning and weaving, spinning and weaving. He could almost hear the hum. But what were the mysterious hieroglyphs they carved in the roots of the tree?  He wanted to Know.

Whereas the Viking ships sought adventure in conquest of outer seas, Odin leads us on an inner adventure in the deep Sea of Self. Odin is wise in the way of Ancient Mother Wisdom.   He has heard that there is a Sacred Well of the Mother, that a drink from the well can give him Wisdom, can give him Sight.  But he finds that a Holy Priestess protects the well.

“I would drink of the waters of Wisdom,” he tells the Priestess of the well. “You can’t just come and take of it,” she says, “you must give up something as well.”  She would not tell him how much was required.  Still, Odin knew it was his way of Seeing that he had to surrender. He wanted Vision. He wanted to see inward and not just outward. He offered his eye for a draught of the Waters of Wisdom.

When Odin drinks of the well, he experiences what it is like to become human: he experiences change and loss. Now as he sits in the top most branches gazing into the depths, he can see more clearly. But what he sees is his own dying. There is something he still does not understand. “The mystery,” the myth tells us, is only revealed to the Worthy.” Suffering and death are part of the surrender.  “I know I hung on that windy tree, swung there for nine long nights, wounded by my own blade, bloodied for Odin. Myself an offering to myself: bound to the tree that no man knows where the roots of it run.”

The violent images of “hanging” and a “sword in the side” are metaphors– and realities that reflect cultures of war and conflict. Although physical injury and death are pathways of Initiation, I prefer the equally powerful, but gentler, metaphor: that one must trans/form to allow more spirit light to enter.  On The Tree of Life everything grows and changes, withers and dies, sprouts, and grows newly.

Odin is hung on the tree for nine nights. The birthing time (nine months) was spoken of as “nine- night” in folk language. It was a sacred time. From the birthing blood and waters, from the pain and letting go, new life was born.  It was a time “to make sacred.”  This is the core meaning of the word “sacrifice” (sacre/sacred; fice/make). Odin experiences “dying to himself” and transforming.  As Odin surrenders, he “sees” the Runes, the words of wisdom rising from the depth of his consciousness.  He knows them as initiations in the soul’s journey through life.

He can also hear, rising from roots, the sound of singing , singing and spinning. He hears the three Norns, busy with the weaving of creation. In Norse mythology, this is the way they are described: “Urd, the wise and ancient Norn, teaches lessons of the past while Verdandi, who is young and fearless and straight forward, bids good use of the present; and Skuld, who is closely veiled warns the Gods of future evil.”

When I come to this part of the story, I find myself re-inventing their song. The Old One sings of the Past: “These are the threads I bring. They are strong. They are rich in Memory. They are filled with gifts.”  The Young One sings of her Beauty, of her joy and laughter. She chooses surprises. She chooses adventure.  The third One, the One who creates the pattern, the One who creates the imprint on the future, she sees Beauty and Harmony. She sees growth and Love.

The stories surrounding the Nordic Runes have roots that go back to the 12th century.  Yet, the wisdom that they offer still speaks clearly of the soul’s journey and the initiations along the way.  Ralph Blum in his book on the Runes, calls them “Divine Play,” a  guide along the Path. When I feel confused or blocked, I often look to the Runes for guidance and wisdom.

 

 

 

 

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WINTER SOLSTICE HOLY DAY CEREMONY

Winter Solstice 16 001At Wanderland Rainforest Iseum

Thursday, December 21,   12-2

“From the Darkness comes the Light”

 Ice, snow, winds, and rain sweep the earth as darkness comes earlier each day. Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year.  We are in the womb of the Great Mother, the place of dreams and infinite possibilities.  From this night on, the sun returns—longer each day, nurturing the seeds of spring that sleep deep in the earth.

Winter Solstice celebrates the presence of Spirit and the power of Hope. At this time, we tend the Hearth and listen to the ancient wisdom stories of Light born from the deepest Dark . We will begin at noon with Sacred Story—a telling of creation myth.  The ceremony that follows will focus on the “Radiance in Darkness”—what is the Light that you carry?

This ceremony will be led by gwendolyn Endicott, story teller, author, Priestess. Come a little early, rather than late. Bring a journal. There is no charge, but donations toward the maintenance of the forest sanctuary are greatly appreciated.

Gwendolyn@nehalemtel.net or 503-368-6389

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EARTH’S PRAYER

 

EARTH’S PRAYER

On our early morning walk,

The dogs paused beside the road,

Nosing their way through the luxuriant new grass.

“What a pleasure,” I thought,

“to immerse yourself in green.”

Smelling, tasting, being

as the new morning sun

lights the dew into sparkling.

 

Just then,

I caught sight of a circular web

delicately hung from a twig

making rainbows as it swayed gently in the sun.

“Good Morning, Earth,” I said,

Seeing Her all around me, vibrantly alive.

 

And She replied with a fine mist

That rose from the grass

as She breathed out the cold earth

and surrendered to the Sun.

 

 

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