I believe the universe talks to us – we just have to listen. Sometimes it’s incredibly clear – someone gives you the message you need right here and now; you turn on the radio and the lyrics of a song jump out at you and smack you in the chops. Sometimes it’s more subtle – signs, symbols, associations. Okay, I can hear you – is it really the universe or just our subconscious finding links, meaning? Are we filtering out the bits that don’t fit the puzzle and focusing in on the bits that do? I dunno. And, really does it matter, anyhow?
This is the ethos behind medicine walking – that when you go out in the world you watch what wanders across your path. You take notice of the signs, you follow the flirts.
Lately I’ve felt like I’ve been wading through mud. Whatever I do, nothing seems to make any difference. I’m just fighting, fighting, wrestling with the world and with myself… shadow boxing. And my path through the woods echoes that – the Cauldron has been deep in mud lately, hard going.
Once again, I met the dentists this morning – sliding down as I was climbing up. ‘You always go the hard way,’ they said. Again.
‘Honestly, it’s easier going up than coming down,’ I said. Again. And we smiled and passed.
I take my phone with me on my walks with the SP – not because I can use it (no signal) but for taking photographs. Only today, as I came to the hill-fort and paused to watch sunlight filtering through trees and glancing on the field beyond, it suddenly beeped at me. How strange. I checked but no messages – no surprise there as nobody has my number. But it snagged me so I checked on Twitter and there it was – a message. A sad message.
‘It never ends.’
And I came down along the path through the woods and found someone had built a circle and someone had covered the hut with bracken. I looked down and I looked up – from earth to sky. A circle in the woods. A place of safety in the woods. And I thought about the weary despair in that tweet. What never ends? Torment. Anguish. Misery? And no, it doesn’t – if you let it claim you; if you clasp it close to your heart and dance with it, a tango of obsession. But if you release it, if you let it go…
It’s interesting, this idea of letting go. A couple of days ago I was looking for a heart opening meditation on YouTube for a friend. And I found one but figured I’d better try it out myself first and it was pretty amazing – and the words were spookily, scarily accurate – like it had been written just for me. And, maybe for that reason, I didn’t send it. Then yesterday I played it again and – I swear to God – the words were different. There was a whole passage missing. Weird huh? But anyway, I stood by the circle and felt my own sense of ‘It never ends’ and did a bit of heart opening and – wham! – back I went again, to Jerusalem and that unconditional Love that sweeps absolutely everything aside. It’s the One Thing that will sort anything, everything. That makes everything alright. Truly.
So, after I recovered my equilibrium, we went on, the SP and I, and we chose to go the long way. And, as we came to the fork in the path, down by the river, there was a piece of red tape fluttering in the breeze, like a crime scene.
What? Except, this being Exmoor, someone had pulled it aside. We went on. And climbed the steep hill to our bench, to our vantage point and…and… there was no path. A huge tree had given up and slid down the near-vertical bank towards the river far below.
Landslide. Land Sidle. Lands Lied. Island Led. Sin Ladled. I’ll Sadden. I’ll shut up now, yeah?
Turn back? Hell no. You can let go but don’t give up. Never give up. If the path disappears, you find a new one. If something blocks your path, you find a different way; you go around it. You don’t fight it; you don’t smash it; you dance it. The SP danced the lands lied with a flourish, a flamenco of a dance. Mine was more of a wobbly waltz. And there was a moment where I thought, okay, this is it, I’m going to tumble down like the tree and smash my skull on the rocks and float off down the river, a lumpen log (wearing James’ new coat, for which he would never forgive me). But no.
We descended and joined the big wide easy path by the river. And met a couple of exceedingly elderly women walking exceedingly slowly leaning on their sticks. I said hello and went to move on, then thought I’d better warn them that the path had gone. ‘Maybe best to take the Middle Path,’ I said.
They looked at once another and then back to me. ‘That’s very sweet of you, dear, but we’ll be alright. We’ll just take it very slowly and very carefully.’
Messages eh? What you reckon? I’m thinking this…take it slowly, take it carefully...
Let go but don’t give up
No, it's not an oxymoron. Hmmm...oxymoron eh? Moon oryx.. Moor onyx... Om or Onyx? The onyx is a stone of - well, well, letting go; of centring oneself with the Higher Power. How about that then? And the oryx? I dunno, what comes to my mind is Margaret Atwood's novel, Oryx and Crake. In which Oryx was a prostitute, a teacher, a lover, a guardian of the animals.
'It's not even her real name, which he'd never known anyway; it's only a word. It's a mantra.'