The Fall, THE FALL and the Apple

There are two different understandings of ‘The Fall’ that have influenced my life and my understanding of life.

One is a theological construct that I have jettisoned and the other a reality in the natural world which I have always embraced with a bittersweet sense of joy and wonder. And then there is The Apple, which plays a significant part in each understanding.

The Fall as a theological construct was drummed into me from the time I was an infant. The story of Adam and Eve, the Garden, the Serpent and the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was the myth that for Christians made Jesus inevitable to redeem humans (and everything else, everywhere else) from the theologically championed Fall from grace that the incident with the serpent and the apple supposedly initiated.

I was not brought up being taught that this was a myth, or a mythic way of explaining the human condition. I was taught that Adam and Eve were real people, and everything else about the story of the Fall, as it were, fell into place from that understanding.

Needless to say, I no longer subscribe to that understanding, nor the faith the taught it to me.

But THE FALL is still an important part of my life, and this other FALL ran in parallel with the theological one all my life. The other FALL is that which happens in the Autumn. Where I grew up in the US, Autumn is called Fall, but THE FALL is when the trees shed their leaves. Autumn is so much more. It is the time squirrels and chipmunks and other creatures cache food for the Winter ahead, when bears and hedgehogs feed up before the hibernation. It is the time when people change wardrobes by putting away light coloured and lightweight dresses and shorts and bring out the woolly jumpers, hats and mittens in preparation for the cold to come.

It is the time that the apples ripen and are picked. When the harvest of this amazing fruit floods the farmers’ markets and roadside stands. It is the time to make applesauce and apple cakes, press and pasteurise apple juice, and tend to the orchards.

Apples fall in THE FALL. The falling of apples and leaves is an event in which to rejoice. It means that Nature and the natural world still maintain some sense of order and rightness.

The Fall of Adam and Eve, so called, to say nothing of the religion that is supposed to be its remedy, has led to misery and guilt for two millennia. THE FALL of Autumn cyclically brings home the reminder life and death are conjoined in a process as old as being itself; of fruit and harvest and plenty, and also scarcity and privation when the harvest is meagre. The Apple plays a role in both these stories.

One story is totally bound up the humans and is for humans. The other is Nature’s story and links together all living beings in the environmental web in its due season. One is a story of shame and loss of childish innocence. The other story is one of glorious colours and sweetness to savour, of the opportunity to experience the world around one with childlike wonder.

So now I celebrate THE FALL and rejoice in the Autumn that brings with it really of release and the reminder to prepare for the Winter, without which, lest we forget, there would be no Spring.

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Living Our Golden Autumn

Our path together reached
an impasse when we
arrived at a chasm’s edge,
where we each had to find
our separate ways across
to the future’s far side.

Barely looking back,
he departed from me
beckoned into the
reaching arms of another
and together they flew,
disappearing from my sight,
into the comfort of their
mutually awakened desires.

Alone I made my way down
along a dark and difficult path,
eventually ascending to the
other side of grief and sadness,
thankful and guiltless and free,
to dance through the tall trees,
walk amongst the standing stones,
and unexpectedly to meet another.

And now he and I
are living our Golden Autumn,
enjoying the fine blue bright days
and crisp cool nights,
before Winter’s winds dry us to dust,
when our inner fires burn down to ash,
and we will be blown in silence
into a future distance out of sight,
but never beyond our knowing.

I Could See My Breath

I could see my breath
on the Lammas early morning air,
the season surely shifting
summer beginning to fade,
though not yet over,
for the heat may yet return,
but this morning,
the cool mist of my being
lept forth to join the swirling
dance of one season’s waning,
as another steps up
to sweep me off my feet
in wonder, gratitude, delight.

Seeing my breath
as the sun creeps over
the ripening apple boughs
reminds me that time,
though we created
our own notions of it,
is never still always moving,
farther on along
the spiral of life’s journey,
and we are not ever
in the same place,
though the seasons
repeat and reappear.

We see each season
with the fresh sight
of all the experiences
between the last time
the year’s wheel
turned this way,
the breath I breathe
in and out,
the cool morning air
filling me with life and promise,
the scents of Autumn
hinted in the reminder
that as I inhale and exhale
I change the essence
of my being as surely
as I alter the whole of creation
round about me.

The Harvest

Today I will go and pluck
the ripe produce
from my garden,
in raised boxes
made so I need not bend
my slowly aging back.

Colourful beets with their leaves
are waiting for the dinner pot,
courgettes yellow,
cucumbers green,
petals of golden orange calendula
and three colours of nasturtiums,
there were peas and mangetout,
but not yet the maize,
the peppers, beans
or the masses of tomatoes
some surely destined
for more than salads,
the apples are not yet ready
though the trees hang heavy,
and with now little sun or heat
yet three figs ripened into sweetness,
there are a few random carrots
and sunflowers undaunted.

Today I will go and pluck
the ripe produce
from my garden,
in raised boxes
made so I need not bend
my slowly aging back.

This is the time of gratitude,
so much more real
in the growing of my own,
the days I stand in awe
of what earth and sun and water
do to small dry seeds
bursting forth against the odds,
the birds, the bugs,
to provide for me nourishment
in exchange for their nurture;
I offer my thanks for these gifts
of grace and graft
brought to harvest
in a cooperative dance
between me and earth and sky,
as life to continues bearing its fruits,
providing food for feasting.

Today I will go and pluck
the ripe produce
from my garden,
in raised boxes
made so I need not bend
my slowly aging back.

I Weave with Words

[I’m reading Max Dashu’s amazing book Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion,700-1100]

I weave with words

Letters skein across the page
like the wild flight of geese in autumn,
letters turned into words
on the distaff of inspiration,
trailing ideas
ready for the loom
of the mind.

I weave with words.

Dangerous am I
as the weaving women of old
discrete words becoming incantations,
the singing of thought
and perception into form,
altering the reality of the page,
from the blank white leaf
into the mottled sheet
with images drawn out
and curling under each other.

I weave with words.

By setting out the warp and woof
of line and length,
that which moved me into the
gilded light of flow and form,
the dark recesses of passion
impassive before the shuttle
thrown back and forth line on line,
the pen creating
the garment of imagination,
the tapestry of alliteration,
metaphor and rhythm
maybe only I can hear
as I sway at the paper loom
and dream aloud
for others.

I weave with words.

Word -weaving
from my word hoard,
language neutral until
contextualised in pattern,
shaping ideas into form,
leaving no dangling threads
to unravel my inspired thoughts,
cutting the last thread
at just the right place.

I
weave
with
words.

Weaving a Shroud

I write this reflection after reading the headlines on my phone this morning, since we are not doing telly this month and maybe long after.

One of the feeds announced that scientists have determined that we are well into the Sixth Mass Extinction. This news weaves together many other news stories, a personal story and two well-known personalities that are linked to me in this heart rending announcement.

The stories:
Trump pulling out of the Climate Agreement and its ripples through policy and the latest G20 meeting.
The media fought battle by the parents of Charlie Gard.
The push to find ways to ark us off Earth to another planet when we have destroyed life on this one so it is not worth being here any longer.
The intervention of the Pope and Trump into this nasty battle for one small life that is beyond repair.
The end of life for a dear friend’s feline companion.
The news of the 6th Mass extinction.

The Personalities:
Trump
The Pope
The collective Rest of Us
Myself

How does this warp and weft combine in my mind and perception to weave a shroud? That seems obvious to me, but I will share how I see the weaving in any case, if for no other reason than to off load and let go of the news that sends me into despair and sadness.

The pulling out of the Climate Change agreement sends a signal that the environment doesn’t matter much to the policy and policy makers of the, for now, world’s largest economy. The roll back on environmental protections and the silencing of the EPA. The insistence on bringing back coal and fracking and oil all point to a determination to hasten the ongoing and accelerated degradation of our planet.

The battle by the anguished parents of one small boy, who are in denial that their child is irreparably damaged and has no chance of a life with any quality, to try any means to extend their and his facing what will surely be his death. They have skilfully manipulated emotions and the media and the public. They have rallied those who believe that only human life, is worth such extreme efforts to save. In my opinion, they have used their son in a way that is shameful and exposed themselves to more heartbreak, in part because now they will not be able to grieve when the time comes in private. They have become wounded celebrities and the public seems to want more and more. The consumer public is greedy for vicarious experiences whether of joy or sorrow to fill the void of real experiences in lives lived in front to televisions and gaming consoles and social media, which is really, and I mean a very real way antisocial in regards to proper human to human interaction.

The recent stories of people investing massive amounts of money into finding ways to build rockets and so forth to lift us off of Earth before life here becomes untenable. What they forget is that they want to build arks to take the same humans, with the same greed and the same propensity for waste and destruction, not only of each other but any other beings, to another place/planet/satellite/Moon where the same forces will still be present. So far none of the religions of the book have managed to purge human beings of their what seems to be innate desire to control, overlord, destroy and/or lay waste to the environment around them let alone each other.

Both Trump and the Pope have weighed in to offer help to the parents of Charlie Gard. Trump in his usual flippant way, fake empathy lite, and the Pope who it seems will do anything to try and save the life of one sick child. The problem is that as stated above, Trumps policies are helping to doom all the other children to slow death on a planet that will within a century or so will be nearly uninhabitable. The Pope, as long as he and his male dominated and dominating institution, refuse to see the problems caused by too many people fighting for what are infinite and scare resources and promote policies that actively encourage reduction of human populations show, in my view, an unbelievable level of hypocrisy. For the Pope to go on any context about Climate Change, without looking at a policy in his own institution that adds to the current crisis has, for me, no moral authority.

You may wonder where the death of my friend’s cat comes into all of this, and rightly so. It placed me in a position to grieve the loss of a non-human creature. It allowed me to feel the pain of those Wise Ones, The Patterners who shape the framework of creation, in my personal understanding, when another and another of our fellow beings fall to the poachers, the chainsaw, the accumulation of plastics. I believe that there are those, and I don’t mean here the impersonal gods of the three book religions and any other religion where text supersedes real engagement with Creation and those Created, who mourn these losses. If we listen we can hear their sobbing in the background. But we are the ones who have caused much of this.

My hurting with my friend at her loss, mirrors my hurting with the Wise Ones and The Patterners who feel such losses moment by moment. Another elephant or rhino taken spuriously for their ivory or horn. A tiger taken for its pelt and whatever so called medicine is derived from its body parts. An amphibian poisoned by water too toxic to live in. A whale bloated by plastics it thought were food or a seal or dolphin caught in a web of discarded fishing paraphernalia. The lemurs and orangutans whose homes are clear cut for palm oil (so ubiquitous it is almost impossible to personally and quietly boycott its use). The bees who pollinate our now quite compromised crops grown on increasingly poisoned land, who can no longer find their way to and from their hives because of pest control necessitated by the use of pesticides and monoculture agriculture and the greed of petrochemicalagribusiness. The innocent humans caught in the cross fire of wars between religious factions one of whom wants to be the only right way to worship a god who tells them that what really matters is not the life you live here but the one you will earn as a reward for following blindly its rules here whilst the world heats up an burns around them.

And finally, the news that the Sixth Mass Extinction is well underway. I find this news, which the announcement only made ‘official’ the hardest of all. It was one thing when it sort of felt that way, but now it’s been said. Not that it is likely, but we are living it. We are in large part responsible for it. That there may well be very little we can do at this point to stop it. We are the ones who have done this. We who insist on wanting more and more, because we are taught that wanting more and more is what keeps our various economies alive and growing. We who keep on saying that it’s someone else’s problem. We who keep on having more children, not only that often we personally can support but that the planet surely cannot. We who think we have more of a right to be here that small frogs in the Amazon, Snow Leopards in the Himalayas, Elephants in Kenya, Hen Harriers in Scotland. We who put our personal comfort ahead of thoughts for the future. We who elect, or allow our elected officials to appoint, individuals who deny Climate Change, who want to bend over backwards to help their wealthy supporters maintain a life of monetary prosperity at the cost of the rest of us. We who do not act to find a way to live equitably with the land and our fellow citizens, human and non-human.

We are, and that means that I am as well. And right now I don’t know what to do to make a difference. I no longer eat animal products. We drive a hybrid car. We use green energy to heat our home. We meter our water to keep a check on our consumption. We are growing our some of our own vegetables and sharing them with the bugs, if it is safe for them then I feel it’s safe for me. We feed the birds in our garden and our cats who might possibly consider going after our garden visitors go out under harness to sit with us and soak up the sun, the one who is not bothered, and too lazy and slow to hunt, and our visitors know this can go out on his own. We buy most of our clothes from charity shops and support a few groups that work to maintain the woods, make wetland habitats, look after birds and other wild places. We are looking for ways to deal with our pensions in ways that are ethical by our standards, though not necessarily by the standards of so called ethical investment funds, this is a mine field through which one must carefully tread.

But it is not enough. Clearly, it is not enough that individuals take such steps, and we are not the only ones. But it is not us who make the policies. We vote. I sign petitions. I write letters. I express my gratitude for and to the gods, the ancestors and the spirits of the land. I allow myself to grieve. I make myself carry on. I write the pain out of me and share it, hoping others will come to share it as well and maybe in our shared pain something will arise from it whilst there is still some time left.

We made a large part of this problem. We therefore have a large, the largest part, in doing something about it not only for our physical and spiritual descendants, but for ourselves now and in the lives we may yet lead in another manifestation on this planet, the only one we have to call home.

Motherline

I broke the line.

From your fragile genes,
Wilma Darlene
transfigured
into
Judith McGraine
there will be
no more daughters.

Your motherline is dead.

I broke the line.

From your history
of loss and misery,
of anger and surrender,
there will be no more
women carrying
your burdened story
into tomorrow.

Your motherline is dead.
It dies with us.

I broke the line.

Never wanting to carry it forth,
even at five years old
I knew I’d be no nurse,
or teacher or mommy,
and though I have nurtured
others’ souls and selves,
they were the souls and selves
of other motherlines,
and those of fathers too.

Your motherline is dead.
It dies with us.
No daughters follow me in procession.

I broke the line.