The Sun has not yet set, the Moon not yet risen. I meet my guest in front of the flower café. She doesn’t have a car, so we hop into mine, masked, and wind up the canyon road to the trailhead. She is here for initiation. I am here as her guide. She doesn’t seem to notice that today I am a mess.
One night before the Full Moon, parking is scarce, but we find a spot only slightly sideways-sloped along the hill. As we get out, a throng of people emerge from the trailhead and drive away. We have the space.
I’ve brought a frame drum wrapped in the blue and brown Native American themed quilt my half-Amerindian Grandma Squillante made. Sasha (my guest) and I walk for twenty minutes in silence, my mind in a downward spin with painful thoughts I’ve had all day, after spending two hours in a zoom class with my former fiancé, who’d shown up without warning, our first visual encounter since I received a text on Thanksgiving letting me know he’d moved out “to restore integrity” with himself, followed by a flurry of emails about how to close our shared Spectrum account. I have no idea why I stayed on the call.
Last week I dreamed he’d moved back in without my consent. In the dream I see his desk all set up for work, then see two fresh turkeys on the counter with a little smiley post it note, clearly a gift. I can't eat that. Doesn’t he know poultry needs to be refrigerated? Then he walks into the kitchen (naked, fully shaved, and smiling), sits down at the table, and says, “Sage, we can't begin wearing formal attire.” Well, we can wear something, can't we?! But I am frozen. WTF is he doing here? I wake up after saying, “I didn't change the locks. I see I should have.”
This class is that nightmare come true—without the turkeys (I don't know about the pants). Here he is, unannounced, in “my” study community. I am not ready. I’m still healing and need closure.
Thoughts swarm like flies: How could he? What was he thinking? He knows I’m a certification candidate here. And more importantly, How in the hell do I manage my mind? How do I get back to myself? But most of the day I am gone. Out of the body, dissociated, dropping in for moments of peace or to nap, only to fall back into a rabbit hole. Then this walk. Thank heavens for ceremony.
We reach the top of the climb and the mental toxins stop as I hug the ancient Oak growing on top of the world. We’ve made it to the Labyrinth. We can see the marine layer below, and far off the tiny ferris wheel on the local pier.
Two other women are here. “Look,” one says, “You can see the Moon and the Sun at the same time!”
Sure enough, in the West, behind a black silhouette of the Oak we just hugged, is the Sun, a ball of gold in an orange sky, setting; to the East, above a cotton white marine layer, in pastel pink and baby blue, the delicate outline of the Moon rises. Between them and below us is the Ocean. I had timed it this way. As always, the view is breathtaking. I am on the Land. I am home.
I explain the ceremony to Sasha, place a bowl of water near the Labyrinth entrance, then unwrap the drum and call in the directions. Sasha walks the Labyrinth while I circle it clockwise, drumming and chanting a song from my teacher. When she reemerges, she accepts the drum and holds space for me.
I pour water on the ground, offering sorrows, then move into child’s pose, head below the heart, forehead on the packed clay ground. With eyes closed, I ask for guidance and immediately receive a vision; the horizon, the Earth below, and the stars above stretch out to the East and the West, and I am one with it all, larger than human life. I open my eyes and get up to walk.
Circling inward, in this sandstone symbol of returning to the center of one’s being, with one barefoot step after the other, I ask for help. Within moments it arises: “I love him. That is the pain. It is not what he’s done, or my thoughts about it, but that when attention is on those things, I go against my true nature, which is Love.” I can't believe it can be this simple and ask, “So, I can just leave all the trauma, the impact, the stories, the pain…?” I don't think so. The patterns are too old, too deep. Isn’t this denial?
But it is a new insight, one I had not considered, and if it’s possible, this is the world I want to live in. So, with all my might, will, and prayerful intention, I blow “againstness” into the small rock I’ve carried in for this purpose. I’m pretty sure I don't trust the message, but for the first time today, I feel peace. And power. (I also really want to pee, but I keep walking.)
Once at the center, the place of “receiving,” I sit, facing the Moon, but I know I’ve already received the gift. I am not surprised. Usually, by the time I reach the center, I simply sit and rest in the Moonlight, in appreciation, then pull out a strand of hair or a pinch of tobacco to leave as an offering.
Before getting up, I blow into the rock four more times, again with everything I’ve got. (I really want this f*cker to work! Is it okay if I swear…? I don’t know.) I realize I’m angry, in pain, and also praying this is real, this call to be love, to drop the story, to live a life of peace and joy with whatever makes its way in. Sometimes it feels like more than I can manage. Especially when other people are involved.
The walk out is a bit of a stumble, a sign that transformation is afoot and still in process. Back at the entrance, I pick up the bowl and empty the remaining water, with a final prayer, into the sentinel tree perched in the East between us and the Moon. Half hidden, I also offer my own water to the drought-impacted Earth, and return to Sasha.
We pack up and slowly walk down the now dark trail. As we walk she talks about her autistic toddler. I am mostly silent, allowing the mind to process. Love him? What does that look like? Spirit, you know I will need help with this one.
Before we leave the trailhead, we stop and share what we are bringing home. “I am Sage and I am bringing home…” The word “ancestors” forms in my mind, a message from the soul (?) and I give it voice.
“I am bringing home ancestors.”
Back at the house I check my phone. A spiritual sister has sent a message: “I’m not supposed to be awake, but I am, if you want to call.” Oh, I do.
With the lights off, I light two candles, one for me and one for the cat. The house feels surreal. In the dark I call my friend, close my eyes, and attempt to put words to what has happened.
While I can feel the pine floor beneath my feet, and I know I am standing near my writing desk, I am also still, viscerally, on the Labyrinth, under the Moon. The walls of the house, the ceiling too, are not fully solid. It is as though the structure is slightly transparent and the walls not fully connected. It has moved to the other side of the canyon, to the top of the other ridge, on the dirt, in the Labyrinth, under the night. Two worlds merged.
“Christy? Are you there?” She doesn’t answer. I hang up, send a text thanking her for the deep listening, then go to bed.
The next day I see she had called back. The phone had not rung. Her message says she could hear me and she was not muted and the mic was on. Still I’d spoken into silence, into a vast, mute, black sky.
I am here to listen, and to follow when the gift of wisdom is offered. It doesn't matter what any “he” is doing here. That is what I’m doing here. And no matter what anyone does, I can love them. Maybe from very far away, but I can love them. That is a superpower.
I am grateful I am not alone and pray the ancestors stay.