Monday, May 11, 2020

Brenda Littleton - Masks

Joshua Tree Watercolor

When the outer world foists its fist of volcanic change upon the personal soul, I pause to ponder: where in me do I hold this energy; how in me have I repressed its existence; who am I, if I can fully accept my relationship with this beast slouching towards Bethlehem
My specific wondering is about masks. I'm watching a parade of spontaneous masks surface in our collective consciousness. I have struggled with my own relationship with masks, with my personas, with the personas of others in my life. I went to sleep contemplating the new urge to produce masks, and then this morning, Orion Magazine sent me words on The Power of Masks
I remember a moment when I was 3 or 4 years old, sitting cross-legged in a longhouse, out on the west coast of Vancouver Island, by Hot Springs Cove, during a ceremony called a potlatch. Single dancers would perform in the center, wearing masks and body dressings. I sat in the shadow of a totem pole with the raven towering above my head. There are many fractured glimpses swarming me now, as I reach back for the story, but all I really need is the link to my first encounter with many people wearing masks. 
And, here I am again, watching a dance of masks, only instead of the dance being at the end of a three-day journey, it comes from an unleashed toss game of pick-up-sticks and chance. 
The Orion article gives me a container of meaning to remind my cellular memory of my lineage, of all of our lineage, with spirit and with ceremony. My wish is for the act of wearing a mask in today's world is one where we summon a conduit with our elders, as we pace out a new path of safety and abundance. 

The Power of Masks: Then and Now

“Mask dances brought the spirit world into being, created a powerful conduit to the afterworld, and summoned safety and abundance and a life free of disease. Every religion in existence has its very foundations in these rituals.”

B. Littleton, Dark Ages 2.0. April 6, 2020

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Make it Matter

Time for reflection,
Time for listening,
Time for letting go, receiving, musing,
Time for gentleness,
For seeking in new places,
For appreciating those of old.

This tide will turn. 

This is wisdom-making:
Drawing a thin line in the sand, an absolute boundary of what cannot be,
to then see how quickly it doesn't really matter. 
To identify your worst fears,
and then have them arrive, unannounced, in full flurry,
But, instead of complete collapse,
you find yourself on the other side,
still breathing
still standing
still longing
still knowing the next, unforeseeable uncertainty is still coming.

Turn to that dark corner pocket, full of those 
"I will never: do that, go there, say those words, feel those fears." 
and let them fly,
free and freely.
Release the don'ts and won’ts and wants.
Start from right now with one beating atom.
See where she wants to flow, and follow.
Invite the next one to join you at the table.
Sew them together after they bury you with unexpected love.

The worst may yet still be waiting.
Tell your gut to expect a miracle!
You may be surprised when they stand up and applaud your foresight,
your preparation you once called despair,
but is now alchemically churned into knowledge,
into a secure way to breath.
Give up what you think is control.

Let go of holding the darkness back:
swim breaststrokes in the night sea.
Stay longer than expected in those grottos forbidden to explore.
Talk to those pernicious friends of anxiety and doubt, flying frayed ends 
of whips and flagellation. 
Listen to their grunts and sighs; let them inside you, guide you, 
ride them as ancient waves and those  old, young lovers,
as they roar you into liminal edges of unformed, foamy wet, new self.
It is time to be thorough;
It’s time to live your own deep-fathomed life,
For this is what you’ve been waiting for
During all those times of no, not now, no.
It is now,
As the ‘center will not hold’ forever more.
Take guidance from Yeats, and Jeffers, and Oliver, and all those prophets
That brought you here into this aleph.

If you have to: clean house, end relationships, kill the old cat;
Sell the car, rent the house, move to an island.
It doesn’t matter

It doesn’t matter
Until you meet yourself on the path
Until you meet yourself on the path where no one else has ever been,
And when you pick your bones and gnaw the left foot calluses for food,
And ancient patterns of having to Know completely dissolve 
while honored for their protective service,
for keeping alive this little girl once left on a logging road
for screaming too loudly in resistance to what was not right and sane,
for what was awful and unkind, and polluted
for what was brutal in loss of that particular petal in a child’s heart,
then soul slides sideways and sighs you inward 
toward the first, and lingering womb-dream.

Listening, and finding the last wave of low tide means 
the next one will soon cover over what is now raw and exposed.

The tide will turn.
Be thorough this time.
Meet yourself to make it matter.

It’s the only love to do. 

By Brenda Littleton, 2020

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The artwork, Joshua Tree Watercolor is an original piece by Brenda LittletonWriter, poet, professor, literacy of place, Jungian archetypal psychology, equine psychology, alchemy, dream-tending, community, meaning-making, working with gold, silver threads and silk. Born the backside of Vancouver Island; renewed on the black beach of Santorni; risen from ashes in Aguanga; tenderly unfolded in Topanga, busting wide high with inner sky in Joshua Tree.

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