Nurture The Spark: Active Imagination

 

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Madge Bellamy in a still from the 1922 film Lorna Doone

 

One of my favorite tools for unblocking the flow of creativity and releasing pent up energy is active imagination. Active imagination is a technique developed by Carl Jung, used to bridge the subconscious and conscious mind in order to integrate, understand, and heal all layers of the self. At its core, I see it as a shamanic practice of healing. If we can immerse ourselves in that nebulous space between dreaming and waking, we can process emotions and energy that we may not be consciously aware of, yet still experience in our bodies and minds, below the surface of conscious awareness. One way to do this is through stream of consciousness writing, or free writing, which opens the inner chambers and unleashes that which lies within, waiting to rise to the surface. The act of pen to paper, foot to dance floor, or brush to canvas, without the involvement of the ego’s cries of “What does this mean? Am I doing it right? Am I wrong for feeling or thinking this? Does this make any sense?” is a way of activating those deeper aspects of the self that yearn to be acknowledged and set free. I wrote the poem below during a time when I was processing  a heartbreak that shook me to my core. One day I was perusing old photos of my Grandfather’s cousin, Madge Bellamy, a beautiful and talented silent film and stage actress. I found myself sinking in to her experience, entering a sort of meditation, envisioning her life through my own lens: a woman, an artist, whose life was imbued with a certain wild glow, as otherworldly as she was human, traversing light and shadow, beauty and struggle. I started writing without thinking, simply letting the words spill onto the page. I imagined that she was addressing me in a letter, speaking of her own heartbreak, and the spark and grace she embodied that carried her through. What unfolded revealed a well of bottled up energy within my own psyche, and what was at first a puddle of words and images and emotions became this poem: an imagining, a healing.

And in honor of the real woman, Madge herself, without my own romantic projections, her words at age 87,  “I’ve avoided all my life the romantic stuff which novels and movies are about. Never went in for that mush. Of course, I’ve missed what most people would call the ultimate human experience. But then, I’ve remained my own person, which at my age is a very satisfying state.”

 

For Emily, Love, Madge

Arouse them, my darling
Arouse them, but don’t please them.
One day a star will collapse at its core
after billions of years of trying,
and you’ll see that sometimes, love,
it’s wiser to blow up,
and then slink quietly out the back
before they notice what’s missing.
I long begged the sky
for a warm reprieve,
but diamonds are colder in space, my dear
than anyone ever told you.
The summer roses are dead,
and there’s no preciousness left anymore
to water my mouth.
The truth is as smokey as whiskey
and as smooth as the dust
on his letters,
the ones he wrote me like a ghost
through ether
for years,
long after I had stopped waiting by the window,
shining those pennies at dusk.

I took a fondness to the key
that opened the basement door,
where under the floorboards
I kept the stash of primal laughter,
the kind that felt so good
it turned my guts inside out,
the kind so sweet and slow,
it felt like the first bit of sun
warming early morning lace.
Late at night,
I still walk down the steps into darkness
and pull up the floorboards,
digging for hours,
giving myself a pretty little dirt manicure.
Oh honey I don’t have time anymore
for the nonsense of red polish,
and my lips are stained with stories I never told,
so I scratch and I claw and I howl
and I play my favorite records,
love notes burning
and embers crackling towards the ceiling,
like lovers tumbling together
into perfect illusion.
And on special occasions,
like remembering,
I pull that box of laughter out,
adorning myself in the jewels
of everything I can’t change
but can only cackle about.

I watch myself
as a little girl,
walking along old dirt paths
in thick Texas air,
fireflies dancing like nothing
had ever ripped out their wings.
Toes reach stagnant water,
a whirlpool erupts underfoot.
I go in with wings and prayers,
singing songs at the river
at the top of my lungs,
dirty white dress and ecstatic delusions:
A child just believes what she’s told.
I wanted to leave,
to shine,
and I did, as much as I could,
angel of the stage and silent screen,
singing silly demons back to sleep.

Truth in her crown,
drunk and dancing,
came and rushed me away.
What ridiculous lines we try to walk.
Arouse them, my darling
Arouse them, but never please them.
Nothing will satisfy the vultures.
They have a job to do,
just give it to them.
We all have a role to perform,
and roadkill makes delicious fodder for
mad dogs and foolish, foolish girls.

I hung my feathers up in the doorway
and reveled in my power
on a stage I built myself,
where no lights
would ever be bright enough
and no man could ever be warm enough
(but oh, my face could sure light up a room!)
I was no foolish, foolish girl.
Stop crying, darling,
start laughing,
spill your emeralds on the ground,
bathe in the poison that rolls off
the false Queen’s wicked tongue,
it’s the antidote to sinking.
Pull yourself together.
The roses are dead,
and everything’s fine.
Everything’s fine.
You said what you needed to say,
even if it was never enough,
you said it.

Sweet girl, you are wiser than you think.
You are stranger and you are stronger
than you let yourself believe.
Be joyful in the wild wood
at the edge of glory:
unchained, ugly,
beautiful and breaking.
Wholeness is a story they tell you
so you keep on trying.
I never wanted to tame
the eager effervescence,
because love meant passion
and passion is a cousin of war.
Walk the tightrope honey,
that funny line that separates
the mad from the sane.
Anyway, what sane person
needs to prove themselves so badly,
they’ll up and steal my key
to the basement door?
It’s not theirs to take.
Some things are yours,
sweet child,
don’t forget it.

They’ll fool you into thinking they know
what you’ve got stored there,
under the floorboards.
But they will never really know.
Take that stash of frenzied laughter
with you.
Use every last breath,
bellow every guffaw
like a spitfire pixie,
Untamable,
Unnamable.

Like the sullen organist
who played on Sundays,
whose wife left him for the grocery boy,
I just kept on playing.
I kept coming,
going,
raising hell
with boisterous music
and
I laughed
I dreamed
I wept,
the kind of tears that burn
like heaven.
No one can use my key
to open their door,
skeletons like their own closets best.
Say what you need to say, baby,
and go.

Let Me Be Tidal

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Let me be tidal,
you will remember it this way.

As my fleeting name
slips off your silver tongue,
breath escapes heavy lungs
and we are crystalline-
down dirty alleyways
where fishbones and petals
stick to our shoes,
caked in the mud
of forgetting-
that you were always here,
that both faces reflected
in your grand chandelier
belonged to us,
shattered and laughing,
remembering
what it feels like
to reach beyond skin.

Sparks set fire
to the icy ocean inside,
sacred heart of the feminine
unfolding in an explosion
of roses and flames.
We find water in dry wells,
mirages we can drink from,
where I swear I see seedlings
bursting forth from desolation:
Mother of God, fire breathing nurturer,
offering us a dance
in the riptide.
I promise I’ll be pulled away
without getting pulled under,
or maybe I am the moth
whose wings fry on the porch light,
lost on her way to the moon.

And for each piece of myself
I willingly relinquish,
I hold closer the little wounded me
who is still afraid of what will happen
when I dive in again,
to those same depths
I will always crave,
a sweetness so stormy and true,
a sudden re-imagining
of a world
I have so carefully created.
(Still,
nothing ever felt as good
as vanishing
in those fearful waves,
or pretending
to be impenetrable,
even for just a second,
imagined relief from
rawness.)

Let me wear the skeleton key
around my neck,
rusted and hanging
from a cord worn bare
by the redwood’s pleas
for softness,
where I can hear
the old ones communing,
and bones growing,
molecule by molecule.
And oh how they break,
life blooming continually
toward death,
where we set sail too soon
on forbidden waters,
or maybe it was never soon enough,
how the surface
will deceive the depth,
how you will let me go
when it is my time
to taste the quiet
in saltwater hair.

Let me be tidal,
you will remember it this way.

 

Inspired by a journey through beloved Big Sur, California

Stars Whisper Stories

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laughing the language of moonsugar

 

Stars whisper
stories in secret,
laughing the language
of moonsugar
behind hurricane clouds
and ghost lights,
where the wave
never began
nor ended
because it always was.
It was as simple
as picking up a fork
from the kitchen table,
only it wasn’t
useful, cold or stainless,
and what was once weightless
had turned to gold,
dusty and growing
with the Black-Eyed Susans
on a hill where every path met,
melting into a stream
that had never known water,
but still moved
like her mother’s antique silk,
A serpent awakening
in her painted cave,
hematite handprints
animated by an ancient chant
nobody knew
until we all started singing:
and it was never out of tune
because we harmonized
with the bees,
and eyes became flowers
in the song of the spheres,
every ritual
a reenactment,
every passage
a possibility.
What remains
are the stories that sing
through the walls,
and in stillness
we learn
the uses of enchantment.

Feral

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white winged mysteries

 

 

 

The feral one learns
the language of God
in dark corners
while she waits
for the telepathy to kick in,
where pretty is a lie
and truth speaks louder
than a pose under false light.
Past pine needle floors
and lost meadows
she steals away
with sparks
and birdsongs
that swallow her whole.
Shifting like a seed in flight,
she wears a crown of cobwebs
while white winged mysteries
rest at her feet.
Here the relics
of weeping settlers
on foreign soil
reach back through doors
veiled in knowing,
opening to faraway voices:
the way shadows dance
on faces masked by centuries,
cloaked in the grace of silence.
And then the spiderwebs
between her thighs,
every space an altar.
She keeps the vaults locked.

Offering

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An offering: a dedication to continually breaking open, pausing at the reflection found at the end of a road, any road, spiraling into other, into sameness, into the unfolding of an uncertain map–the palm, the spark, the ether and the soil. Leave something behind in this ritual of burning. We will leave everything behind. Become the leaving and the returning, moving through the pathless wood, knowing lightness and burden, the giving up and the eternal longing. Swim blindly in fear and laugh until nothing is left, rising into your own unseen hands, the ones that hold the stars, with eyes for the invisible. Pull out your heart and let it rest on a sunlit stone, warm and beating, poised for the next reckoning. It was always here, the question in the waxing moon, who asks you only to be. Breathe the tidal seething under glassy surfaces, the intricate architecture of desire, knowing it always comes to this: Hold it tightly, and then relinquish everything. An offering.

Simple Ritual: Every Space An Altar

Some of my treasured altars

I  love to create altars as a simple ritual of reverence to the sacred in the ordinary. Altars are a way to a sense of groundedness, a feeling of home.  Any space can be transformed into an altar, and anything of meaning to you can become a part of this creative dedication. See the altar as a living prayer, a liminal space bridging seen and unseen worlds. I place little offerings of love to the mystery, to spirit, to the unfolding self, to the earth, to the cosmos, to those who have gone on before me, to icons of divinity– any piece of inspiration along the journey. I may write something to call in or release and place it on the altar with intention, or I may collaborate with another person or a group of people, a creation honoring the collective vision.  The altar exists in the space between stillness and movement, between knowing and un-knowing, where I give deliberate attention to the moment, connecting in to the golden thread, bridging earthly and divine, my heart at the center…and every hollow, crevice, ledge, pair of lips, hands, and eyes become shrines, shining us through the darkness.

Roses Are Still Falling From The Sky

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New skin is birthed by desire in the kingdom of decaying leaves

She was born at the top of the stairs
that rise in the night
to nowhere,
near the winged elm
under a pregnant moon,
full and aching,
like a spider’s belly
who knows it’s time.
When the music stopped
they all breathed out
after a long time of lungs full,
and the electricity in her mother’s heart
dropped into her thighs,
so warm her knees gave out,
hollow pomegranates falling
from her rose-print dress,
an initiation
among the voices of the dead
wrapped tightly around each neck,
the heaviness of release
measured by the grip of tired hands
that hold on
long after the body is emptied.
A child, grown,
feels the weight in her marrow,
keeping watch
over the ancient pain,
her birthright to freedom
from the lineage of war,
here, in the earnest reconciliation,
the mending of the thread.

Venus in Pisces girl
is romanced by the Devil
while the Fool watches,
and the Empress grabs him
by his ear, wise and fumbling,
whispering, “It’s worth living
a season of loneliness
while the blossoms open
and drop
in their own time,”
until a touch in the dark
tells the plants bottled up
in the bottom drawers
that they can grow,
and new skin
is birthed by desire
in the kingdom of
of decaying leaves.

She calls the wind
to carry her away,
but it stays still,
burrowed in roots
entangled by the past-
this is the surrender
to the tiny-boned thing
that lives between waking life
and the one underground,
flesh embroidered
with yellows and violets
like the hope of springtime,
floating soft like secrets
who crush stories from other worlds
into barley
worn bare by the last light
of winter’s day.
Chests rise and fall
as every hole widens-
breath quickens,
quiet sorrows swallowed
sweet and deep.
The unearthing begins.
She makes a circle
of stones that sing,
and the dirt under her nails
carries shriveled cells
from the fight,
hiding from every pair of eyes
except the diamond ones,
and eager mouths
feathered with questions
build flood walls around
every sacred heart.
To understand is to erase the story,
to admit you still feel the walls vibrate
and know they will crumble
but laugh anyway
at the way danger tastes better,
at the way hunger happens
when the stars wake up.
And every slumbering stone
that falls is kissed
by the next passerby
prepared to give meaning
to the unknowable.

The first day after,
and every moment since,
she has thrown open all the windows,
taken the doors off their hinges,
stripped bare and waited,
feet wet with sirens’ voices
dripping down her legs
and seashells falling
from ethereal cords, cut,
Andromeda unchained
from the edges of white rocks,
disintegrating
into the silence
that comes after a storm
has washed it all away.
They were wrong about her,
there was never a rescue,
except for her own choice-
the only choice-
to dive face first
into a clean slate morning,
where the first thing she sees,
and the only thing left,
floating beside her on an empty ocean-
is a salted reflection
of wild roses etched like dreams
on her mother’s sheer cotton dress,
vague and vanishing
below a glassy surface.
She lets herself
become engulfed
by nothing,
and in the emptiness
is the fullness of longing
for some unreachable truth,
facets carved in the dark,
veins illuminated
behind eyelids
that never shut
in the shapes of letters
calling all the hidden angels in.

Lunation

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Make good with your ghosts.
Dance the illumination
with the archer and his flaming arrow,
aimed straight for the heart
of everything that glows.
The cosmic trickster
laughs as her blood
hits the concrete,
painting the unsung map
on sidewalks of lifetimes
stretched across galaxies.
Webs of light hold hands
with black holes,
golden robes draped
on the backs of the ancients
who call you in.
Once spinning in
mechanical precision,
you find the guts
to tilt out of orbit.
You are not the cardboard cut out
of the “worst thing you ever did.”
Your silhouette extends infinitely,
your flesh the expression
of the desire to
stand your ground in mid air
and finally jump.

Creating Spaciousness With Wonder

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My affirmation for wonder: I embrace my truth and respect myself as a tidal creature who knows that my dedication to feeling deeply, with wonder and curiosity, is a key to liberation. When I witness and experience myself as love, awakening beyond all shadows, I feel that love as boundless, and I am free. 

We hear a lot about hope, but is hoping helpful? What if there is nothing safe about being alive, at least in how we have come to understand “being safe.” In what ways do we keep ourselves entrained in patterns of belief and behavior that dim our light, out of alignment with our truth, because disappointing others or failing to “get it right” feels like too much of a risk? Like Terence Mckenna said, what if the real magic is “hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.” What if feeling safe is more about feeling held, a sensation we can nourish within ourselves, which then nurtures our receptivity to others, and to life. Those moments of constriction, where we feel stuck, where we wish it could be different, are opportunities to choose wonder and curiosity as ways to create (luscious!) spaciousness in our experience.

What would it feel like to become swept away in wonder, rather than pulled under by fear? How much more deeply could we explore the roots of our motivations, if we took a step back to slowly respond rather than quickly react? What if we courageously embraced all of ourselves, and each other, not just the lovely bits? What if we really listened to our bodies, to our hearts, when they communicated with us? What if we could be ok with finding balance and then losing it- returning again and again to that sweet, strange ebb and flow? What if we respected our pain as a teacher? What if we honored difficult relationships and situations as our teachers? What would happen if we could just be there for it. Breathe. Lean into it. Play around with it. Forget everything we think we know, feel into it, and connect with the inherent wisdom within. To be embodied is to be in awe, of the brokenness as much as the beauty, to nestle into the underbelly, a dynamic sort of surrendering—a dance—eye to eye with the movements of the unknowable, wholeheartedly present, creating a gorgeous openness that is unchained from mere hopefulness, anchored in truth.

Maybe our higher selves know something about the broader picture that isn’t initially clear to the monkey mind, but if we keep our fingers on the pulse long enough, we become it- the hawk’s eye view of life’s tidal surges and withdrawals, the frenzy and the stillness, the ever-flowing energy that moves through all. Slowing down to witness this current as it courses through us cultivates a deeper understanding of the rhythmic nature of the universe. We know that the muck will always come to the surface, and instead of frantically trying to pretend its not there, or despairing that things aren’t clear in the moment, we can just observe, without “hoping” that it could be any different than what it is. Ironically, that is where a shift can actually happen! We are fully capable of being with ourselves, feeling where the anger grips the stomach, or where the sadness consumes the chest. If we can understand just one thing, we must understand that it is ok to be exactly where we are; where we find ourselves is where we start from, and it is valuable because it is our experience. When these waves rise up, we can simply become curious about them. Curiosity with a dash of loving compassion quells judgment, both of self and others, opening us to the wonder and possibility in our sticky, sparkling humanness. Pema Chodron’s incredible work has taught me this, and reminded me of the wisdom we always carry within. Her books “The Places That Scare You” and “When Things Fall Apart” are essential reading, in my opinion, and have helped me through some very dark times. Tara Brach’s “Radical Acceptance” is also a goldmine for the tender soul.

If you forget everything else, remember this: You are your own source. It has always been enough. You deserve to know that love you long for, the one you’ve searched everywhere for, except maybe in the shadows of your furthest corners, where those fragments “that can’t possibly be loved” live under white sheets like abandoned ghosts gathering dust. Reveal to yourself what you have hidden. Hold every aching piece who believed staying in darkness could shield them from rejection. Offer yourself to the honey dripping, blossoming, luminous, true blue love, the kind that survives every season, moving through the mess of decay and the promise of tiny greens who push up earnestly through the dark, growing towards the myth of the sun whose warmth is now becoming real. It is safe to wake up from the dream that somebody’s coming to save you, to bust out of the illusion that there’s something to be saved from, or some elusive love, approval, or validation “out there” that’s going to fill the holes that can only be nurtured from the inside. Don’t trip on the untied shoelaces. Untangle yourself. Peel off the roles that have fit you like an old dirty sweater, hanging on by the thread of your agreement to remain attached to an identity that you now know is as mutable as water. Make the choice that is true for you now, not the choice you wish was true, or the one expected of you, but the one you have to make because damn that old sweater and tangled laces have really had their run, haven’t they? Your power thrives in your choice to release what’s been worn, and move forward, however slowly, in the direction of what feels true now. Its ok to be scared, but you can open the curtains and let the light in, it’s been waiting for you to believe in it.

I imagine that I’ve opened my palm to find a sweet yellow bird laying there, wet and worried and wondering.  I look down, unaware that it had been there the whole time, and through my resistance to feeling “what is,” my tight grip had cracked its protective barrier. With kindness and compassion, I open my hand, relaxing my muscles with my breath, giving room for blood to flow, for energy to circulate, allowing this tiny being to wiggle around and ruffle its feathers. When I release my hold, I allow space for flight, or rest, or just being- tension soothed by gentleness, love, presence, honesty and some good humor about it all. Maybe hope looks more like that—knowing our ability to shift how we respond to our experience, as an integral part of the tides, moving out and in, with a willingness to allow space, to accept the call into the unknown. Nothing will ever be what we expect it to be, and that just may be the relief we have hoped for. Lightness of being that comes from being fucking real. Yeah, that feels more like freedom. And freedom loves when we do what hasn’t been done. I trust myself the most when I surrender to now and fly heart first into the feeling, however uncomfortable, because that is real, real like a river who is always in flux, who just keeps moving, because it is compelled to, because knows it will somehow reach the sea.

In Ruins & Rising

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The heart is a safe place to live,
remember that
when you have forgotten.
That is the only miracle
you must always remember.

 

You walk in the front door and barely a breath passes
before you find yourself out the back door,
arrow-straight pathway
to the sea,
diving head first
into the secret lives of mermaids
and a million tiny miracles,
the kind made of
saltwater dreams,
jungle birdsongs
and roadside shrines
to Our Lady of Guadalupe,
for those times
when you fall on your knees
in gratitude
or for those times
when you have nothing
but a fucking prayer
for the all-embracing mother
whose starlit gown
and crescent moon chariot
carry stories told
for thousands of years,
long before she came here.
And if you want to listen
you can hear
the sounds of night falling
and the electric kiss
of silent lightning
piercing dark skies,
holding a space vast enough
for meteors
to dance in the sultry air,
enveloping you like the languid body
of a tired lover
whose crystal waters lap sweetly
on your white shores,
untouched, mostly,
vines bursting with
purple blossoms
crawling across
seashell mountains
and seaweed rotting
in the beating sun.

And the driving down dusty roads,
lined with green,
thick and tangled,
past children playing, barefoot,
past tiny wooden crosses
on every doorway
and ladders to nowhere,
past abandoned buildings,
sweet old dogs, and roaming chickens,
the king of iguanas
guarding a shack
with ceviche from heaven,
while a little girl waves
in front of crumbling walls,
whose fading colors
bloom behind her.
Maybe these makeshift shrines
to the virgin mother
tell you that this
is all you need,
because of how beautiful
they are-
their clusters of candles,
sometimes lit,
their wilting flowers
and neon lights
flashing against the darkness.

And the song-filled bike ride
to the pyramids,
who touch the place
where the sky is born,
where you explore
the chambers of the ancients,
still slumbering in stone.
You are content
to only climb mid-way,
because your body goes weak,
heart racing fear of heights-
no sacrifice today.
So you sit on the ruins
communing with Ixchel,
moon goddess of becoming,
of rain, of healing,
weaver of fertile prayers,
medicine woman
alive in every phase of her creation.

An iridescent blue butterfly
comes to you to say:
you are not imagining things,
yes, this is really happening.
And at the foot of another temple
you walk through
a passage of initiation,
chasing the light,
cherishing every step
because you know what happens here:
You are never the same,
reborn on the other side.

Then there’s the part
where you just have to laugh
at comparing the wet, thick air
to a a lover,
because it soon
turns into an enemy
urging you to keep seeking
these prehistoric sinkholes
to wash the perpetual sweat
from your skin,
finding pure delight in the jump,
free-fall
into unimaginable beauty,
the kind that turns you
into a creature,
who howls and sings
the sounds that come
from a timeless space,
but somehow it also
rattles your memory
and brings out the best
90’s pop tunes,
because when delirium sets in,
Mariah Carey goes perfectly
with the ancient Mayans
“it’s just a sweet,
sweet fantasy baby”
swimming in these
underwater cities,
labyrinths of
subterranean rivers,
burial grounds
and portals to the underworld,
where as you float, you decide
that you too will bury
your dead here,
all your bullshit
and your beloveds
you can no longer carry-
these unreal spaces
make you drop it all.
For a moment
there are no humans left,
just you and the ghosts
and the wild things,
and you are not afraid.

So you move gracefully
through the dark
in embryonic caves
filled with turquoise waters
whose depths you will never know,
and you decide
you will never lie to yourself again
about some things,
(about those things
you will never know,)
because at some point
you understand
that what is seen
cannot be unseen
and what is felt
cannot be unfelt,
and what is known
will never again be unknown,
but still, you will always prefer
the way it feels
to merge with the mystery
to find beauty there,
and truth,
in all that lies beneath,
floating softly
in womb-like waters
of the mother.

Because mystery is the first love
of water nymphs and mermaids,
so you descend into another cave,
found at the end
of another dusty road,
where stalactites loom above you
and water drips onto your head
as you swim towards the center,
finding comfort beneath a single hole
in the ceiling
through which sunlight shines,
the golden thread
to the world above.
You can’t stop smiling,
feeling your human hands clinging
to the edge of the earth,
little feet kicking
to stay afloat,
then the sweetness of letting go,
because this is all one big letting go,
joyfully plunging below the surface,
surrendering
to the depths of the unknown
in the caves of your inner being.

Then there is that other
hidden cenote
surely favored by las brujas,
where the water is more emerald
than turquoise,
surrounded by mangroves,
where some force
calls you further and further in,
to where it is cold,
to where the roots reach out
like gnarled hands
you don’t want to hold,
but are curious
about touching anyway,
because when you go quiet
you can hear the spirits of the dead whispering:
“you can hold on to nothing here.
Just absorb it into your body,
so when you die,
and they bury you,
the earth can sing your life
through what grows
from your bones.”

And so all of this
you must release:
the flesh scraped by dead coral,
bruised by rocks,
sliced by shells,
stung by salt,
bitten by strange insects,
turned blistery
by jellyfish larvae,
hair woven into knots by the sea,
ears heavy with water
and siren songs,
finger pinched to hell
by a kind-looking hermit crab,
stomach aching
from dancing in the kitchen
after eating too much papaya,
coconut, dragonfruit,
mango, rambutan,
tamarindo, and tequila,
or maybe it overdosing on queso fresco,
or choking on the ocean from laughing too hard
about falling out of the kayak one too many times-
but these are the blessings of the journey,
slippery paths
and countless oases
to remind you of your aliveness,
friends alongside,
soothing the aches.
This saying goodbye,
to the the sand between your toes
the way your heart
will always fill
and empty again
with the tides,
where you will laugh
your way to divinity,
uncontrollable hilarity,
joy, deep sorrow,
and then an even deeper stillness.
Yes,this is all one big letting go.
We will have to give everything up.
So fuck it,
jump from the scary heights,
and listen
to the wonderful elf-like man
who told you at the cliffside ruins,
“Fly your imagination!”
because that is some truth right there.

And you imagine that somewhere Ixchel, Tonantzin,
y Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
hold hands and smile above it all,
with tears in their eyes,
above the blood and sacrifice
above the obsidian and the honey and the music,
above the ornate churches
built for one god
built on top of temples
built for many gods-
the descending god, the honeybee god,
the wind god,
a space for everything
to be loved.
We all need a sanctuary
when darkness falls,
because it always will,
and you will pray that
building your refuge
won’t hurt anyone else’s,
and that your retreat
will be respected,
as we all look for the light
that comes from nowhere,
the light that holds it all,
shining into emptiness,
lighting up the caverns
of our sacred hearts-
entangled and shining,
together,
in the house of the spirits
through which blows
a warm gentle wind
who will carry it all away.
The heart is a safe place
to live,
remember that
when you have forgotten.
That is the only miracle
you must always remember.

Inspired by breathtaking Tulum, Yacobá, Valladolid, Ek’Balam, Cobá, and other magical places of Quintana Roo & Yucatán, Mexico.