The Heartbeat of Memory, Heartbeat of the Earth

I moved to this house in March of 2005, less than a year after my brother’s death.  I was completely in pieces. Beyond my inexpressible grief, for months I’d  been having trouble finding a place to live in the area, suitable, and then this amazing house came up – right across the street from where the TTouch trainings are held !  I was heavy into TTouch back then..and this house was quiet, pretty, large enough for me to have an office, a temple, a snake room. It’s right on the road, but there was little traffic back then. There was a garden… not huge but adequate, and the whole area is surrounded with open fields, little lakes and forest, and enchanted trails deep into woodlands. Some of those woodlands and fields were the same ones my paternal grandmother walked as a girl; she was born in a house around the corner. All of this felt more than lucky; it felt fated. Luke and Lila and Alex and multiple cats and my rat Kala and several reptiles, and I *think* a rabbit or two,  and  me! all moved in. I can barely remember those first few weeks, but come April it starts to get clearer. First snow melt, I walked out onto the back deck, slipped and went down hard on my knee. No dogwalking for weeks. And then as the year went on, I lost 60 pounds and went into a very…self-focused phase.  It was as if losing John propelled me into a phase of determination to achieve the things I’d been putting off, and it started with health. As the years rolled by, I lost both Luke and Lila, and many other beloveds, but Danny came into my life, and now Zeke and Amara..and Korky (my parrot and really, kind of a soulmate).

Today I am reflecting on some of the things that happened, and that I did, while living here all these years.
I completed my training in canine nutrition, or one level of it; I went through a portal of deep growth with my herbalism, something I’d more or less dabbled with since the 1980s,  but over the past decade it became so much more.  I rescued a blind horse, lost my father (and thus, all hope of reconciliation, ever) and in 2015 three of the people I loved most in the world just walked out on me, in the middle of much personal struggle with coping here, n my own. Later that year, Alex almost died,  and to make it all worse his crisis happened while he was in Saskatchewan and me here, with no way whatsoever to get to him. That was also the year I was given a prestigious column in Plant Healer Magazine, and saw my business start to expand dramatically (I hate saying ‘my business’, when what it really is, is my calling)… Alex and I moved through estrangement into togetherness and back again a few times, finally settling into the comfortable, connected and contented place we now are.

Somewhere in there, I went through menopause.

Disillusioned with Wicca, I committed to studies in the Western Mystery Tradition with Mara Freeman, but found myself more and more drawn to Druidry, a craving I have neither  fully explored nor resisted, with the result I am not entirely sure how to define myself, or if that really matters, after all. The entire OBOD course is sitting in my upstairs cabinet, waiting for that magical moment when I know I will have time.  After I make time for more exercise, for yoga and to send more time with my animals…more cooking, playing my bass  again.

I lost several cats..one of whom was a soulmate to me and precious beyond what I can convey . Not that the others weren’t – Howard the Duck and Batia and Ogden and Quinn the Eskimo – cherished, all. It’s  just that Amidala and I have known each other through many cycles,many incarnations.  Her loss was monumental for me, even as I know without question we will be together again.

I watched Danny grow from a wide eyed, completely hyperactive little boy, to an elegant (but still crazy) young man and then into midlife and now, a distinguished and somewhat less wound up senior. It had been my deepest hope that he would be able to live his whole life in one place, but that is not to be. He is 11  next month and while I look for several more years, the final ones will not be in his beloved house. I hate to move him now, but Hell.

We’ll just have to make them the best years of all.

“Love” is nowhere near a strong enough word.

I learned to love deer, and made friends with a small herd whose presence changed me in ways I could never share on a simple blog post…my understanding of the wild, first and foremost.

The chunky,bossy  littleWhitetail with the rounded ears on the right, is Goatdoe, with whom I have had a blessed and beautiful connection for years. I had prayed to see her one last time, but it’s ok. Not knowing what happens to them, is the Way of the Wild. She is in my heart forever. The others are Tulsi and Tilia, one of whom came to me last year when she was struggling to give birth. I helped her gain strength, and she, and her twins, went their own way back into the forest, as it should be.

I grew herbs – all the herbs I had loved for years but only knew through purchased tinctures and teas, and even ten years later I walk the garden everyday and just say their names, a magical litany of everything in the world I find so beautiful….Elfwort…Artemisia…Lady’s mantle…Wood Betony…Hyssop, Motherwort, Self Heal, Borage, Horehound, Catnip, Sage, Comfrey, Lavender, Avens, Thyme, Salvia,  Calendula, Monarda, Melissa, Althea…. and then the ones who showed up just to teach me, Evening primrose, New England Aster, Mullein, Cleavers,  Meadowsweet, Goldenrod, Bidens, Nettle, Agrimony…and then again, the trees.  All teachers, guides, all so dear to me that it tears my heart to write these words,  as I know I am two short weeks away from saying goodbye.

Evening primrose, Oenothera biennis, from whom I learned so much and came to cherish as such an ally

From this land I have taken nine sacred woods for Beltane, for incense, for runes and charms and wands and staves.
From this land I have collected antlers, from a little spiker and a larger buck, left at the Gateway from my garden to the fields out back.

I have sheltered an owl three days on my porch, right after the dog we nicknamed Minerva was laid to rest there.

I have gathered feathers and made Witches ladders to protect this magical dwelling.

Made rose beads from the gorgeous wild rosebush right outside the back door.

And innumerable rowan crosses from the trees I planted after one of the departed friends gifted me with three.

Solar crosses from the Virginia creeper… pot after pot of healing salve from the resinous buds of the trembling aspen and my beloved balsam poplars.

I set a little Faerie corner, with a huge piece of natural quartz I found in the woods, a teapot of my grandmothers,  and a mask that represents the spirit of our house and life.

 

I rescued more wild birds than I could start to recall.

Just two of so many; top pic is a red eyed vireo, I had actually rescued two of them and brought them around, released. The bottom is a female rose breasted grosbeak and man, was she feisty! I hope to post a few more images of some of the birds I’ve encountered here.


I learned to live alone, to carry much hurt, to manage my fierce and sometimes reactive nature, and how important my work is to me, how inseparable from my spiritual path. In this house, I grew into a more deeply authentic self than I would have believed possible. I am not remotely the person I was, when I moved here 12 years ago last March. I had found my centre, found my way through the ancestral patterns and baggage and pain, and was on a very strong trajectory towards my goals, when  the sky fell, sixteen months ago last week.

16 months ago, after a pleasant, casual chat via email with the owner, I was perfunctorily handed an notice of repossession, informing me  I would have to leave, that the long standing repairs would be more easily done if the owners moved their son in, and despite my horrified pleas for clemency, and offers to pay for many of the needful things myself,  there was no quarter. We did take it to court, and we did receive a stay of execution, so to speak, and a minor indemnity for our losses (not close to what we actually lost, but better than nothing). I  went through months of Hell – gut wrenching anxiety and confusion – my partner lost a significant position out West due in part to my need to have him here, until we discovered that the owner’s initial demand for repossession was procedurally invalid, and we had grounds to protest. A very intense course I set up online became disrupted in development after I realized I’d have to continue consulting fulltime and try to develop the course in the small amount of the day that’s left over. And on and on. It cost my  health, it cost a ton of lost income and I cannot describe the anxiety of not knowing where we could go anywhere closeby, now that this area is so trendy (and thus expensive) and we wouldn’t have references (and just a “self-employed herbalist” as an employment check).

But… now it is all  behind me. ..the struggle of the last while, the growth, the losses, gains, deaths and entrances…as we move heart and soul, body and mind,  all the animals and, err, my books…to a new place and a new beginning.

We found an amazing house, so vastly superior to this one in terms of condition, there is no comparison. Clean, new, good floors and windows, no mold, HUGE ( my office will be three times the size of this little space) and so on.  Yes, there are drawbacks and yes, we see it as a bolthole – but, a gorgeous bolthole and one where I can spend the next few years moving to the next level, publishing, completing work, learning.
And to honour this passage, I had a very special thing made – a drum that carries the impressions of several leaves from my surrounding land, trees that were and are profoundly sacred to me.

Rowan
Oak
Apple
Maple
Cedar
Ash
Balsam poplar

Now, after this long and cathartic entry I don’t feel I can do justice to the beauty and power of this drum, so I will break into another part and show you some images now that it is here, on this land, the land which birthed it’s creation. Right now I am simply filled with gratitude and a sense of balance, of the..rightness, of this passage. As I hold my drum and let the heartbeat of the land resound all through me, I know that in the years ahead, as time moves on, I can call the memories, the spirits of the land, and come back to the loves and losses and lessons that this very old house and this ancestral land bestowed upon me and brought me through. When the new occupants raze my beloved trees to the ground to sell for firewood, and chemically blast the sacred herbs into oblivion, I will drum their spirits into a new reality, I will call them to the land to which I have been heading all my life.

And without hesitation, I know that they will come.

My gratitude has no limits. 

At the end, as at the beginning, stands the archetypal power of the Divine Feminine—the goddess. She is our future as she was our past. With her drum in hand, playing her sacramental rhythms, women can once again take their place in the world as technicians of the sacred. In the pulse of my drum, in the beat of my heart, I erect an alter to her forever.”
Layne Redmond, When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm

2 thoughts on “The Heartbeat of Memory, Heartbeat of the Earth

  1. I am so happy for you Cat, you deserve happiness and success, in all things. It seems to me the trials we go through are many but when we look back from where we are now it makes perfect sense. I am so very happy you found you new place. I have been praying that it would happen. Holding you in love and light, with Goddess. I know you current place and Beings as well as your brother have helped as well. ❤ ❤ ❤

  2. Thank you so much, Rose. You are so insightful, yes I know without a doubt the spirits of this place love and appreciate me and all I tried to do. I did some magic a while ago to set this land free of it’s poisoner and, well, you know how things unfurl…I will talk more about that in future. “You can do nothing in magic without sacrifice” – well if the land heals and I went through Hell, so be it. Alex is at the new house as I write, cleaning and prepping and doing everything he can to ensure as seamless a passage as we can. I do feel this is right,now. And thank you so much for commenting, and your friendship, Sister of Avalon. I love you. xx

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