Let me tell you a story…
Press play below (prefer to read it? Just scroll on down👇🏼 )
She is stumbling through a pine forest...
She is stumbling through a pine forest.
I am stumbling through a pine forest.
The air is damp, cool, and thick with their heady medicinal scent, but I do not pause to notice.
It’s daytime, but the light here feels more like dusk. There is a sense of in-betweenness and liminality in the air, a sense that stretches somehow beyond my perception.
This place is outside of time.
I trip. I am grasping hold of banks, rocks, and branches as I move…
Because of the quickening.
It’s getting more urgent now, and I know the baby is coming. I’m almost there, I’m almost at the place in the woods, where children are born into the world.
It’s not a clearing, but a large, round patch of moss in the center of a small circle of trees. Cultivated over many, many moons, by generations of women, the moss here glows with a bright, vibrant, inviting green in contrast to the faint bluish haze of the pines.
Here, the trees are different.
Their branches hang low, offering privacy and protection. Worn smooth in places, they seem to reach out, yearning to be gripped, held onto, hung from, so that women who are in that exquisite and miraculous moment of bearing life, can be held up by the forest herself.
I arrive, sinking down, my knees landing on the mossy bed. It is SO soft and SO deep. Not only to my physical senses but to my Spirit.
I know that here, I am held.
There are women gathered, waiting and ready: sisters, mothers, grandmothers, kin. Their presence eases my panic, and the pain of my journey.
From here, the birth is quick. It’s my first. It’s a BOY!
…But in moments, my panic returns, and I know that something is very wrong. And before any of my sisters say the words, I know, he is gone.
The grief comes in a wave so powerful it knocks me to the floor.
I’m jolted to my senses – my physical senses – and realize I’m sobbing.
I open my eyes and remember: I’m in ceremony.
I’m in a room heady with frankincense and propolis, surrounded by sisters whose faces I do know.
I move to the outer edge of the memory (if that’s what this is?) and breathe.
Then (as I’ve been taught), re-enter.
Again, the grief is crushing and I howl in pain. This is wilder than anything I’ve ever known (and I’ve looked death in the eyes on more than one occasion). But I sit inside it for a moment longer this time: Feeling, holding, being.
This feeling is mine. And not mine.
I don’t know this woman but we are the same. I know I am her, and she is me.
An ancestor from much older times than this, I know in the way that you undeniably know certain things, that her story, her life, her experience in this pine forest (so painful and so fierce) has been a part of me for many, many Moons.
Her story has been carried here, to this day, down the red thread that has spun and gathered within the wombs of all the women in my maternal line. It lived inside my womb, my mother’s womb, my grandmother’s womb, my great, grandmother’s womb, and so on, and so on.
Crucibles of memory.
Crucibles of shadow.
Until here, today, it rises to the surface to be seen.