healing haven

June 18, 2008

Arriving at the Villa (6)

“Lemuria”     Thank goodness she saw that sign posted on the tree before shape shifting into a young girl and blundering into the circus world.  If she hadn’t, she might not have been so open to listening to the bearded lady when she relayed a story she once heard of a special city in Lemuria.

 

At first, everything was going well with her circus adventure.  Getting a job as a stand-in horseback rider, she was able to ride every day on different horses and ponies.  And she got to know many new people, finding them to be quite a diverse group, as one would expect. 

 

 

Ranging from the ringmaster, who thought himself ‘high class’ and ‘hot stuff,’ to the men setting up the tents and caring for the animals, to the performers who had the necessary skills of juggling, tight-rope walking, lion taming, etc.  And the lowest on the social order—the ‘freaks’ or ‘strange’ folk that the others looked down on and avoided.

 

 

But her time in hospice had further shown her the importance of accepting each person right where they are and who they are—accepting unconditionally—and being compassionate and supportive since they, too, are doing the best they could on their journey.  As her teacher said, “We are all struggling souls.”

 

Hospice also addressed the whole person, not just the physical.  So one went beyond appearance to the inner being.  To look at what was beyond a wasted body due to cancer eating it away; to a tube-filled body as muscles lose control of bladder and bowel; to a body with radiation burns or surgery scars or chemo baldness; to a body with no seeming memory so it wanders off and repeats stories incessantly; to a body literally rotting from wounds needing chlorophyll dressings to tamp down the odors?  She had found so much is underneath all that: a real life filled with joy and love, magic and disappointments, all the things that make up the lives of all seemingly healthy people.  A beautiful person within struggling to get through life and to do it well, to pass on to the children his or her values and legacies.  A beautiful soul…

 

There was no doubt the appearances of these circus folk could put one off… But what was underneath?  Nothing worth investigating, according to the general circus population.  But she had found much to admire: courage in the face of ridicule, honor even as they were treated dishonorably, and marvelous stories.    What a wealth of stories she heard. 

 

It was only after being backed into a corner by the so-called ‘high class’ ringmaster that she realized it was time to leave.  He threatened her against telling anyone and even that he would prevent her leaving.

 

It was only after he was distracted by an accident with the flame-thrower that she could grab her satchel, change into a black circus-show panther and escape.  As she slipped into the forest and wondered where to go, she thought back to the story told by Quinda, the bearded woman.

 

“Many years ago, when I was a child traveling with my mother and the circus, I remember being asleep and waking up to see a beautiful lady in our tent talking to my mother.  I moved close to lean into Mamam’s skirt, smelling the familiar lavender herbs she stored her clothes in.  The Lady took my hand and looked directly into my eyes, not at my chin.  She said she had seen me with my family and wanted me to know of possibilities other than being with the circus.  I was young enough then that my beard was just starting to show.  Mamam had always told me that one day I could be in the sideshow with her when my beard was full and thick like hers.  I couldn’t wait to earn my own money!  Now here was someone talking of how I could leave the circus and find the Lemurian City of Ladies where I wouldn’t have people staring at me and calling me ‘strange.’  I had heard folk say those things to my mother, but never, so far, to me.

 

“My mother put her arm around me and drew me away from the Lady as she said, ‘Family stays together—no matter what!  Thank you, kind Lady, but my daughter stays with me.’

 

“The Lady sighed.  ‘I understand,’ she said to Mamam.  Then she looked at me again—directly—and said, ‘’There is a home for anyone at the City of Ladies, where you will be respected and allowed to follow your creativity and educational dreams.  Don’t forget the Lemurian City of Ladies.  Go to le Enchanteur’s Villa where you will find refuge.’”     

 

She thought of those words of Quinda’s as the she-as-panther streaked through the forest with her satchel bouncing along her side.  After much traveling, she came to the crest of a cleared hill and could see into the distance.  A beautiful city shimmered in the mist.  Could that be the City of Ladies?  She headed in that direction.

 

When she finally came to a road, she changed into her normal body.  What is normal?  I guess most would consider me  one of the ‘strange’ folk.  She found a branched twig and sort-of combed her hair.  She got our her alcohol-gel from her satchel and cleansed her hands.  Feeling better, she stepped onto the road.

 

She approached the city and caught up to a group of women, and after asking if anyone knew where le Enchanteur’s villa was.  She was bombarded with an outburst of replies: “Oh, another one.”  “Yeh, you can’t miss it.”  Are you sure you really want to go there?”  There’s talk of odd things happening in that place.”  And each one quickly turned into one of the shops and disappeared before she could question them further.

 

Slinking into an alley, she hid her satchel behind some broken pottery.  Maybe she should see what was there first.  Who were these people at the Villa?  She shifted into a moth since dusk was approaching—no one noticed a moth—and flitted along looking for the Villa.  There was the sign.

 

She waited until another woman entered and flew in with her.  Quickly finding a spot with good vantage view on a wall shelf in the foyer, she landed and looked around.  She would stay like this until she knew more.  No one notices a moth.

(see also http://cityofladies.wordpress.com/2008/06/18/arriving-at-the-villa/#comments)

June 15, 2008

Circus Memories (5)

Filed under: fiction,memoir,Pythian Games — by thalia @ 7:04 am
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Adjusting her satchel diagonally across her neck and shoulders, she found the wet coolness of the satchel’s outer material felt good.  Somehow, this day seemed a lot hotter than when she set out. The plastic lining of the satchel and the plastic zip bags should have kept everything within dry.

 

She scrambled up the embankment, as well as an overweight older woman could scramble, arriving at the top somewhat out of breath and with dirty sappy hands from grabbing at the shrubs for some balance.  She arrived at the top, repositioned her clothing and satchel.  Whew! Now, where am I? and where is that music coming from?

 

 She looked around and listened.  A path ran along the stream bank with the music seeming to come from the right.  OK, let’s go and see what we see.  As she ambled along the pathway, she took note of the trees and wild flowers.  Among the familiar flowers, some seemed to be those of the Ozarks, and some from her living in the Northeast.  But some were entirely different.

 

So very different!  Wonder what they are? On the way back, if there is a way back, I’ll look closer.  Follow the music.  Reminds me of the circus figures I made for Essie for Christmas.

 

 

I sure enjoyed researching, drawing then painting and cutting out the figures.  Fun designing what to use and how to do it.  Two layers of oaktag (now called poster board) glued together was the perfect thickness so the figures could stand up.  Tried to get the same stuff Dad had used on my set years ago, but no longer available. 

 

It was so nice to hear that Essie enjoyed playing with them.  She really enjoyed my putting her face on the horseback-rider’s body.  I remember all the fun I had playing with my figures Dad had made for me.  Now I was making circus figures for my granddaughter–the Wheel of Life.  So many good memories for me and I hope, for her.

 

The path moved away from the stream and now joined with another.  Three children were ahead, probably coming along the other path, hopping and skipping along.  The music was louder and now she could clearly hear the brass band playing marching music.  Anticipation and memory quickened her blood.  She remembered her first visit to a circus at Madison Square Gardens in New York City in the 1940’s.  The overwhelming sights and activities in the arena upstairs—truly a three-ring circus—and the overwhelming sights and smells while visiting the animals in the basement of the Garden.

  

 The whole trip into the City with my family was exciting: going on the bridges over water and into the tunnels under water to enter Manhattan.  So many new things to experience.  And the wonderful circus music making your body move like a puppet on a string.  She couldn’t help skipping and moving to the music she now heard. 

 

One of the boys stopped and turned around to look at her.  She could hear him say in the honest/cruel manner children sometimes have: “She’s old.  Why is she coming here?  And why is she skipping?  She looks silly.  Let’s get out of here.”  He grabbed the shirt of another child and they started to run away. 

 

Momentarily deflated, she hung back as they darted ahead.  Now it was her weight and her age that occasioned some ridicule for being different.   As a child it was being too skinny, dressed in mostly hand-me-downs from cousins, too shy and quiet.  Later it was being too good and smart, then having children and staying home to be with them instead of working, then… then… then… always something.  But now it doesn’t bother me the way it used to.  I know my own worth and why I was like that and the struggle to overcome all the odds.  I know who I am and where I am going.  Well, I may know the essence of who I am under all the who’s I can be, but I may not know where I am going right at this moment.

 

She came upon two objects nailed to a tree: one was a circus poster that caught her attention.    

 

 

 Yes, that is who I need to be right now.  A young girl who can skip and run and even… maybe…  ride a beautiful horse, just like that.  I always loved to ride horses, but I may be too large for one now.  But a young girl would be perfect, like Essie.

 

She moved off the path into a clearing behind some bushes.  Looking around, seeing no one, she closed her eyes and thought of her granddaughter’s face on the bareback-rider’s body: slim, young, agile and enough balance to stay on the horse as it pranced around the circus ring.  This will be great!   Finally a chance to really ride horses and yet be so graceful.  I see myself on a beautiful white horse, just like that one.  Flexible enough to leap from horse to horse yet mature enough to be responsible for the care of the horses.   Yes…

 

Yet as she could feel her body shift into its new shape, and the pounds drop off, she suddenly remembered the other sign on the tree.  “LEMURIA” 

 

What did that mean?

 

(see also http://pythiangames.wordpress.com/2008/06/15/circus-memories/#comments)

 

June 8, 2008

An Old-Fish Story – 3

Filed under: fiction,Pythian Games,shape shifting — by thalia @ 8:11 am
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Where were they going?  And why are they all going together?

 

She turned around and scrambled even further along the ledge.  Many varieties swam by: trout, bass, crappie…   Oh, and there’s a catfish.  Don’t usually see them all together.  I wonder if there is a gar although they are not usually in fast moving streams but in brackish backwaters.  I remember being so surprised when I first saw an alligator gar and how it looked like an alligator with its long snout with a double row of needle-teeth in the upper jaw.  I read up about them and their average size of 3-7 feet.  That one reprint in the paper of 10-foot long gar caught in Mississippi in 1910 was amazing.   

 

Gars are a primitive species with fossils found going back to the Cretaceous period about 145 million years ago to about 70 million years ago. What would it be like to have a direct line back for so long? But they are so ugly.  That’s unkind.  I bet they consider themselves just fine, or even VERY fine.  And the gar would be large enough to carry my satchel.  Good thing everything is in plastic-zipped bags – just in case.  

 

She sat on the ledge, feet dangling into the water, well aware that if a gar was present it might bite her leg thinking it was a flopping fish.  Gars, so old yet still around and surviving well around here and further south.  Do they have awareness or any sense of who they are?  The skeleton picture of the gar showed teeth in a bit grin, or so it seemed.  Like the wolf dressed as the grandmother in Little Red Riding Hood.  What big teeth you have…

 

Before she realized, she slid into the water, satchel, scales and all.  Other fish darted away obviously aware that gars eat fish and even crabs.  She understood their reluctance to travel close but it still hurt her even though she knew gars were solitary fish.  She always seemed to want to connect with any and every thing.  She could sense the difference between “her” feelings of being different and the gar’s acceptance of being who he was.   

 

The slight wriggling motion of the gar swimming made her nauseous for a few minutes, then it felt natural and free.  It was much easier to move through water than to walk through air because of gravity.  And the rhythm of swimming was quite soothing.  The feel of the water as she glided through actually felt very sensuous on her skin/scales.  Do fish interpret that feeling as sensuous?  Maybe not, since they don’t know of anything else and know nothing to compare it to as I do.

 

She could see a narrowing in the cave wall where the fish were heading towards and then disappearing into.   Ok, here we go!  A dark passage with spotlights on the side, here and there, as sun shone through.  Possible outlets for springs.  Springs are a good source of wells for farmers and settlers.  Are any of these hot springs?  There are many hot springs that were used and still are, for healing and pleasure, in the Ozarks.  Even Native Americans gathered here to recover and bask in the warm, soothing waters.  

 

One sun-lit area loomed larger than the previously seen ones.  It was off to the right side where the main tunnel divided.  She decided to check that one out as she saw some fish heading over there.  She swam to the same area and was suddenly outside.    

She popped up close to the surface but still retained the gar body, remembering that gar have an air bladder so they can breathe air for as long as 2 hours.  Being close to the surface to draw in air also made them vulnerable as an easy target for bow-fishermen.  But she wanted to see if anyone was around before surfacing and shifting.  Seems clear. 

She wriggled onto the pebbly bank and checked to ascertain how well the air bladder worked.  As her tail, flipping her ashore, caught the light’s reflection, she thought of how some Native American tribes, like the Seminoles, Creek, Chickasaw, and Cherokee participated in ritual dances and song surrounding the gar, and many liked to collect the gar scales, which were hard like armor.

 

She lay still, now breathing air.  She watched and listened.  She could see the other fish moving along further with the current of the stream.  She could hear the sounds of water running over rocks and the usual forest sounds.  But what is that?  A hum—something else.  Just sounds like a humming  noise.  Maybe the gar can’t hear things above water the way humans would.

 

She allowed herself to change back into her regular form so as to listen better, even though she knew her hearing was getting worse.  But it still had to be better than the gar’s.  Sounds like chattering well off in the distance—people chattering and music.  What kind of music is that?  Not any popular music like country, rap, hip-hop, reggae, rock and roll, big band, or even classical. Whatever is that?  Sounds familiar in a way, in a sort of nostalgic way… like when I was a child… sounds like circus music! Real circus music!  Where am I anyway?  Where have I traveled  to?  And when have I gone to? Since I can’t go back against the current so might as well go on.  It’s been years, but I’m going to the circus!

 

(see also http://pythiangames.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/an-old-fish-story/#comments)

 

 

 

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