Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

For the Files: Notes on Nomad Meditations Week 2

"For there is a Beauty that hath no fitter ornament than Silence."
                                                                  -- Aleister Crowley

The altar exercise for Week 2 of the "Spiritual Nomad"lessons was to consider your altar items & place or replace three items on it. The objective of exercise was obviously to narrow down which items have them greatest spiritual significance or symbolic value. Of course, given my experience with the exercise last week (see: "Altars & Mushrooms & Other Revelations") this assignment placed me in a quandary. How can this soul-searching hominid improve upon a beautiful canyon, an open pasture & the star-dappled night sky? I find myself in agreement with Mr. Crowley once again -- there are some things which gain nothing from embellishment, addition or enhancement. 

So, I sought to consider what might enhance my meditative experience. I asked myself what items I always include on one of our transitory altars, be it for family, improv, holiday, etc. It seems to me that I consistently use incense, a candle, a vessel with water & a stone, salt, plant, animal or fungal material. The latter items abound at my Night Altar & need no additional representation. Quite instinctually, I determined that the water was to be brought to the altar in the vessel of my body. Thus, I began a ritual of drinking a full glass of fresh, cool water before stepping outside for my devotional. I have found this process particularly valuable. The first two items, the incense & candles, remained to be tested. These would be the two items that I would experiment with & carefully consider for the week's exercises.

My first night, I took a Chinese joss-stick outside with me. It was one of those pink & tan, low-smoke sticks which abound in Chinese markets -- we have been using them regularly in Sunrise "devotionals." However, I am ambivalent about this "low-smoke" variety of incense in general & I found it wanting. The second night, I took a candlestick & stub to my Night Altar. This was most unacceptable because it chased away the Darkness. I confess I was pleased when the wind took action -- where I lamely delayed -- mercifully snuffing out the flame halfway through the meditation. The third night I tried a Japanese Nippon Kodo "Koh." These are nice sticks & the Sandalwood is captivating, but without the bamboo core (or dish of sand), I kept breaking it on the frozen ground. I tried the Koh in Amber with a holder, but was uninspired. Finally, I used Greek "Livani" (Frankincense resin, or "tears") with charcoal in a burner. Not surprisingly, this was the best incense experience so far, although I may prefer a different resin. I will enjoy experimenting further with myrrh, benzoin, copal, dragon's blood, etc., presuming future assignments allow for it. 

Overall, this has been an interesting process & despite my natural tendency to pursue projects in less than orthodox manner (read: not very good at following directions), I think I am still considering the essential questions. My notes for the individual meditation experiences follow.

Notes on Meditations at the Night Altar Week 2:

Night Altar Day 1:

+ 1 Glass of cool water
+ 1 Fukwai Jintan joss stick

Remember breathing. Remember the stars & the Red Planet.
Remember grounding easily.
Supplication, gratitude.  Smooth, easy.
I feel present, more present than ever before at the Night Altar.
Eyes closed. Listening. Breathing. 
Hear the river, the cattle.
Feel the cold breeze on my face.
It is cold outside, but I am not.
Smell the manure, the damp soil, the melting snow.
The incense.
Did the incense bring this awareness of scent?

Night Altar Day 2:

+ 1 Glass of cool water
+ 1 candle stub & candlestick

Remember: This candle is too bright. It chases the Darkness. 
It's light surrounds me. I feel like a beacon in the night.
Remember being preoccupied with the flashlight in the corrals on the far side of the pasture. 
What are they doing?
Never grounded.
Thank yous & goodnight.

Night Altar Day 3: "White Face's Lesson"

+ 1 Glass of cool water
+ 1 Japanese Nippon Kodo Sandalwood

Remember the ease with which I grounded.
Remember rocking, breathing. Rocking -- without Baby.
Listen. Listen to their breath. Heavy. Slow. Rich.
They are somewhere nearby, with me here in the Darkness. Breathing as I breathe.
Remember no longer feeling cold. Remember the heat across my forehead.
Inspiration: to be more present in the moment.
Expiration: thankfulness for this Life.
Remember feeling present, alive, electric.
She turns her head.
She was resting there with her white face turned to the Darkness.
So very near, all this time. All this time, breathing beside me.
Awareness is so much more than ocular input -- yet how we humans rely upon it so -- at the expense of all other awareness. 
This is White Face's lesson.

Night Altar Day 4:

Unexpected guest.

Night Altar Day 5:

+ 1 Glass of cool water
+ 1/2 Japanese Nippon Kodo Amber & incense burner

Remember sonic booms & cow parade -- urinating.
Baby crying. Fiasco.

Night Altar Day 6: "A Reply from the Gods"

+ 1 Glass of cool water
+ 1 Incense burner, charocoal & Livani tears

Went out feeling ecstatic after passing on my "Secret Garden" to a friend (more on that later). This kept me amped up & it was difficult to ground & centre.

Remember not hearing the river or the cows.
Breathe in.
Breathe out & the cows exhale with me.
Breathing. Breathing & rocking.
The energy is strong within me tonight. The night is very still, very quiet. Only the cows breathing...
The stars are clear & beautiful. No Moon.
There has been no Moon for days now. I miss Her.
I drift in & out of my meditation. The energy is so strong. The night is so silent.
Breathing. Rocking.
During scattered thought -- monkey brain -- it occurs to me that I have not spoken to the gods directly in a great deal of time. Always the mushrooms, the plants, the animals, the canyons.
Breathing. Rocking.
Monkey says: Why not now? Why not ask Them, "What say you? What are your words?"
I ask in silence. I ask aloud.
The river is loud now, but it is the suddenness of the Owl that stops my heart.
The geese -- silent thus far -- chime in & a single dog provides the chorus. All the while, Owl continues Her staccato call from the Darkness.
I feel so present, feeling the intensity of all these voices. With some trepidation, I half expect someone to step forth from the Darkness...

I have forgotten to breathe.
The dog is silent. The geese settle back in. Owl continues Her call, but it too is fading.
All is quiet again. The cows breathe with me.
I look to the stars, the canyon, the pasture & the frozen soil beneath my feet. 
I give thanks for this Life. I give thanks for Their words. 
I am listening.

Night Altar Day 7:

+ 1 Glass of cool water
+ 1/2 Japanese Nippon Kodo Amber & incense burner

The neighbors left their floodlight on. I can see the cows sleeping along the fence where the Darkness has been chased away. Is this where they rest every night? So close. Closer than I thought.

Remember trying to focus, to ground, to breathe. Remember the black cow standing, watching. 
Monkey brain. Thankfulness & goodnight.

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