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Musings on the Zodiac

Spring Equnox Approaches

It's nearly time to poke your head out of the hibernation cave. A few more snow storms, a little warmer outside. It's time to get into the spirit with another poem, this one by E.E. Cummings:

"i thank You God for most this amazing"

I thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
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A Wordsworth Winter Secret

During your long winter hibernation, many months you've hidden away, you read to the boy from this poem by William Wordsworth, composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey

Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.--Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.

The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!

With some uncertain notice, as might seem
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire
The Hermit sits alone.

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Rafting Secret

The boy has returned with the supplies. You tell him about a dream you had last night in which you are riding down a river in a raft. The details of the dream are hazy, but it is apparent that you are to go on a rafting adventure. You have no idea why. You and the boy discuss your options. He will help you put the raft together.

While camping there by the river, on the other side of the hill, with goats grazing nearby, you and the boy construct the raft out of saplings growing in abundance there. You are careful to take down the little trees in a way that it is hardly noticeable, a thinning that is needed, no more. You use river reeds to bind the raft together.

The boy gives you a milking goat to take with you, along with some of the grains he has just brought with him from town. He gives you a couple of clay pots, and you know how to start a fire with flint. You’re not sure about a milking goat on a raft, but one young goat has been following you around everywhere. It’s her first milking season.

The raft is finished. You’ve even designed a little shelter where you can rest or sleep in bad weather. You will use a long pole for guiding the raft. On most nights you plan to go ashore to make campfire, to hobble the goat so she can graze, and then to sleep under the stars. You know how to read them now.

Early one morning the boy pushes your raft off the shore onto the wide, lazy river. As you enter the current and begin to glide downriver, the goat has misgivings and begins to bray. Her friends and family answer back. You have a lump in your throat, as you’ll miss the boy and you aren’t sure how you will get back. But the boy says you will.

With tears in your eyes, you wave until your raft sails around the first bend and you can’t see the boy any more.

“As if dreaming, I return to the place
where the Highest lives,
and hear a voice from the heavens:
where am I going?”
—Li Qingzhao  Read More 
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Moon Secret

You’ve been taking care of the goats again, since your cave experience. The boy had to go for supplies.

You remember a drawing or painting that looked like a moon on the wall of the cave, but when you had looked again, it had vanished. Then you saw another moon with a fire around it. And another with dancers holding hands around it. Every time you saw these, the images disappeared.

Now while you watch the full Moon rise in the East and gaze at the brilliant sunset in the West, you dream up a Full Moon celebration.

First you light a small fire and you haul logs over, arranging them around the fire in case any guests come. You never know.

You put on the garland you’ve made with wildflowers and grasses, you highlight your eyes with charcoal liner, you hang vines around your ears and your neck. You wrap vines in crisscross patterns up your legs. You twine wildflowers in your hair. You rub your lips with berry juice.

You cook a stew using roots, forest greens, spices you collected, and rice from the dwindling supply. After a while it smells delicious.

The border collie trots over to check out the stew. You give him a few morsels. Then the goats, unable to sleep, meander over one by one, their bells tinkling. They collect near the logs you’d arranged for sitting on and look with cocked heads: “What’s up?”

You pull out the flute the boy had made for you and begin to play it as he showed you how. Even though you’ve not yet learned it perfectly well, it’s well enough to give spirit to a song.

The Moon is high in the sky, its light lending a silver cast and hazy shadows, all over the hills and meadows.

You and your friends dance around the fire, fire flies blinking in and out, sound of flute echoing across the land.

“The song of the flute, O sister, is madness,
I thought that nothing that was not God could hold me,
But hearing that sound, I lose mind and body,
My heart wholly caught in the net,
O flute, what were your vows, what is your practice?
What power sits by your side?”
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The Cave Secret

In the early morning, up on the mountain where you've been contemplating the stars and constellations, learning about the zodiac and how to know fortunes by reading the sky, you discover a cave hidden behind granite boulders.

You enter the cave.

Inside are smells of animal fur and wet earth and rock. You pull your emergency candle out of your day pack, light it, and head towards the sounds of dripping water, echoing in the far distance.

Crawling on your hands and knees, you squeeze yourself through a small tunnel and then, standing up, you wind through a narrow passageway. The dripping sound is getting louder.

Now you must slide on your stomach along the cave floor, pulling yourself along on your elbows, carefully keeping your candle upright. Soon you think you see a glow of light. Your heart begins to beat more quickly.

You reach the end of the narrow opening, and are overcome with awe at the sight of a large pond lit by an unearthly light from below, turquoise and pale blue.

You pinch out your candle and put it into your pack for the return trip.

Dipping your hand in the water, you feel a pleasant energy coursing through your fingertips to all parts of your body. You long to swim. You remove your clothes and slip into the water. Floating on your back, you feel yourself swirling with energy, your skin tingling, your whole being alive with light and color. Orchestral stringed music fills the cave. Sitars join. Then ancient drumming.

This must be the cave of your heart!

"O friend, understand: the body
is like the ocean,
rich with hidden treasures,
Open your inmost chamber and light its lamp."

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Secrets and always more secrets

"The secret of what you are searching for lies hidden in the cave of your heart."

--the Old Woman in The Sophia Secrets

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The Ninth Secret

Go to the lake, the seashore, the mountain top, a room lit only with firelight.

A gull dropping a mussel on the rock to open it and then flying on without tasting even a morsel of that soft flesh. The tide coming in and going out at the same time (I've seen it!). Crying and laughing.

Write a poem about paradoxes. Anyone can do it. Here's one:

The wind carries the night in on a cloud,
the moon falling between mountain peaks,
behind leaves twirling, twisting, shining.
The midnight half-moon reaches up
through the ice on the lake,
like a whale breeching,
dancing, skating,
carving circles and lines across,
to meet the stillness of
one hundred million stars
spinning around the universe
and into the vast space between my eyes
where I see nothing
but sunlight washing me clean.
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Many Different Kinds of Secrets

Looking deep into the waters at the magic of every day, you can uncover all manner of secrets.

For clues to such real life secrets, and discovering your own, please do visit my blog, "Crossing the Tidal River: My Life as an Elder:"
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The Eighth Secret

For many days you’ve been making your way through the forest brambles, following the stream as it flows gently downwards. Now the trees thin out and you can see grassy green hills dotted with oak trees, not far away. With the sun high in the sky, you emerge out of the forest into a little valley.

In the distance you see a boy with a staff and goats all around, some goats drinking from the stream, some eating grass, some just wandering around. The boy’s black and white dog spots you and comes running in leaps and bounds. The boy calls the dog and the dog immediately lies down in the grass, not far from you. Wagging his tail and smiling the way dogs can smile.

You and the boy offer to share food. Sitting under a broad old oak tree, you pull dried rabbit and mushrooms out of your pouch, and he goat cheese and flat bread, tastes that delight your senses.

After an afternoon of getting to know each other, you accept when he asks for your help for the next weeks. His sister has had to return to their village to help their mother who is pregnant again. You’re not sure what kind of help he needs, but you are willing.

Over the last year, you’d not seen much of the stars, only a few shining through the forest canopy. Now on your first night out in the open, on a hill above the valley, you are filled with awe as the stars begin to come out, your whole being tingling at the sight, the vastness of it.

As the campfire dims into coals, the boy tells you stories about the beings in the sky. Over the next several days you learn to recognize their shapes and the ways they move across the sky during the night and how each being is connected to the others. He also tells you about the celestial beings you cannot see and outlines them for you during the day, using a stick and drawing their star maps in the dirt.

While you'd had some inkling about this, but mostly had thought it bunk, you are astonished to learn the depth with which you can know the character and destiny of a person by the positions of the beings in the sky at the time of your birth. And you can know something of the past and future as well. The boy teaches you about all of these wonders.

After a few weeks pass, you take note that the sister has not returned. Two full moons have come and gone. The boy one day admits that she will not return for several months. He'd like you to stay. You are thrilled to spend more time with this boy who has taught you all about goats, all about the weather and how to predict it, all about the wild animals who live nearby, and all about the black and white dog that keeps the humans company and helps keep the goats safe.

You are excited beyond measure to learn more star wisdom from this boy.

“Evening Star who gathers everything
Shining dawn scattered—
You bring the sheep and the goats,
You bring the child back to its mother.”
—Sappho  Read More 
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The Seventh Secret

Your forest retreat is now surrounded with creations put together from objects you’ve found in nature. You’ve made instruments out of stone and wood. You’ve learned to snare rabbits and have made garments for yourself out of the skins and eaten the meat cooked over your outdoor fire. You’ve also used the skins to create a comfortable bed inside your tree shelter.

You’ve spent a year in the woods and have a notebook full of dreams and entries about your experiences and new understandings about yourself. Say nothing of knowledge about plants and herbs that you gathered, a knowledge gained by meditating on them and receiving messages concerning their use.

You feel satisfied and full, with a positive sense of yourself and a feeling of empowerment that you’d never known before.

It’s time to leave, to continue your journey.

Since you do not know the way out of the woods, you will follow the stream, knowing that it is bound to reach a lake or a village, or discover more mysteries.

“My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.
I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one ….”
—Rumi Read More 
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