Ask the dead of Annwn about the fear of death, and you get a silent stare.Continue Reading...
Archives For Death
My newest contribution to A Sense of Place is now up. The fourth in the series, “Where They May Be Found.”
We consume the dead. Grains and vegetables ripped from their umbilical roots, flesh carved from still-bleeding beasts who looked dumbly at the assassin’s blade. We feast on death, fell trees to build our homes and wipe our asses. The black blood and stone we rip from the womb of the earth were once flesh and fiber of forests we wouldn’t recognize, creatures we can’t comprehend, and we burn it to run our cars and turn on our lights.
I am the least macabre person I know. I flinch at the very idea of watching a slasher-film, and really, really don’t like images of death. So Ceridwen is both very difficult for me to understand and yet also somehow one of the most kind gods to whom I’m devoted.
There’s a story in that post about a memory I have regarding drowned siblings. There are a few similar things from my very distant past which I don’t look at very often except when something reminds me. And, really, I fucking remember this memory clearly, and how obstinate I was with my mother that my older siblings had been drowned. More interestingly, I vividly recall being in the tub when I argued with her about the matter.
Where’s that memory from? I don’t know. But I developed an utter fascination with such events in my early 20’s. There was a woman in Texas who methodically drowned her children (I think she had 6 of them), and besides the gory details of the event (one child ran away, and she calmly retrieved the child in order to drown him), the detail I remember most vividly from the accounts afterward was how both utterly calm and bewildered she seemed, as if she’d done it in a moment of trance.
Was a christian woman drowning children as a sacrifice to a Welsh goddess? Hardly (I think). And the circumstances of her life were horrible, and many people claimed it was a rebellion against her husband and her life, evoking stories about Medea and other infanticidal women. Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch addresses how many of the charges against witches in Europe involved either killing their own children or helping others do so, particularly as acts of rebellion against men.
As I said, though. That memory haunts me still.
And Speaking of Death…
Apparently I’ve got three more days in Eugene. I’ve purchased my ticket to Seattle (I’m taking the train, loading my Dionysian altar on my bike and hefting my rucksack on my back. I’m quite aware of how much I’ll look like I’m from Eugene when I show up in Seattle in this manner). There’s one thing I have to do, and I’ve finally figured out the details of a certain top-hat spirit that’s been just on my periphery this whole time. I’ll write about it later.
Meantime, I won’t be doing much writing for a bit. My A Sense of Place contributions are now every other week to make room for all the other writing projects I’ve got going on, and I guess relocating might require a bit of attention, too. I’d like to write a bit about Eugene, but I’m not sure what there is to say quite yet. It’s been magical, but magical is not always safe or sane. I once remarked to Alley that Eugene seemed, when I visited last year, awfully like being chained to a 500 pound piece of hematite, so grounding that the notion of ever leaving seems the one thought you’re not able to consider. There’s…something…here. Lots of somethings. I could spend an entire lifetime trying to track them down, but my life is probably best lived elsewhere.
Still, if anyone wants to visit a town where spirits ride random bus riders and chthonic wells spring up everywhere, it’s a good place to start. Just make sure you buy a return ticket and read (and re-read) Tennyson’s poem about the Lotos-Eaters.
Three days of thought, dancing. A day or two of the dead.
There’s the goddess who drowns children. The goddess who goes down and then returns. And the two dead under the tomb.
There’s the death in the eyes of another, though he is not dead but only beginning to live. Eyes can dance, you know, and then wither in sockets and maybe still see.
Why do I need a skull? Not one to hold within a mind, or not mine, but one to hold in a hand, eyes withered, dry voices still speaking.
The dead touch you and you remember all the times you wanted to die, or feared dying, or actually feared life so much that you could only think on death.
Breeding life in soil, relentless, so much it drowns in its own fecund exuberance. A goddess drowns children because we drown ourselves.
You’re drowning in his eyes, which is a kind of death.
“Time to dance with the one who set them free,” and “We live, we die,” and you don’t even like The Doors but it works.
Sit on a tomb while another sleeps in the sun. Say hello, and read their names, and think to yourself it’s so ridiculous that you want someone to laugh at you. Dionisia. Dimetria.
Dances can kill like Desire. ‘…thigh, and death smiled.’ St. Vitus and Tarantellas and you really find yourself thinking on this, because
Desire is a kind of death, and desire is a dance, and the threads snap but they don’t because it’s all still together.
Eyes wither in the skull but still see, because we don’t need them. We never needed the light except to remind us how to look.
He looks, and you cannot imagine that withering. He comes again, and you wonder if you finished what there was to do.
And you ask yourself why you’re not dancing, because even the dead still desire, even the dead still dance.