The Last Dark Moon

They say, those who know such things, that that tomorrow will be the last Dark Moon visible from Earth.

Don’t ask how I know this information, just trust that my source is impeccable and beyond all doubting. No one would listen to me in any case, but I wanted to leave a record, not that there will be anyone ever to read it, but I will have said my piece.

That is important to me.

For several years now people have been preparing to flee Earth, making the necessary preparations to abandon the only place humans have every lived. They do this because Earth has become virtually uninhabitable. The air is foul, the water poisoned, the land denuded of trees. There are no birds to speak of or sing any more, and no longer any large, and few small, mammals on land or in the sea. I will not run the list, everyone knows. Everyone saw it coming and those who had the power to alter the outcome did nothing. They did nothing because it would risk their wealth and privilege. So death ruled and extinction became so common place that one more loss, by the end, was any longer mourned.

But, I mourned. I wept for the world as it was becoming. I grieve for the world that has become. And though I wanted to stop what was happening, I had no real power. I could stop buying this or that product, but it made no real difference. To the end I never stopped trying in my own little way.

I have a room in my home with photos of all those who are gone. For as long as someone remembers them, they still exist, at least in my heart. A heart so full of sadness, brimming over with memory of the lost ones.

In all of this, though, I could look up into the stars at night, especially when the power failed, which it did with increasing regularity as the fuels ran out and there were no more resources to strip from the body of Earth. I could look up and see the stars, watch the constellations wheel through the night sky in their dances of destiny and order. I could look up at the Moon and watch the phases, in and out, increase and diminishment.

The last phase of preparation before beginning the evacuation of Earth will be to throw on all the lights so people we know that they are heading; they will see the clusters of lights and be reassured. Of course only the wealthy and the young are being allowed to go. If one cannot pay for passage one can sign on in a renewed form of indentured servitude. Already the new phase of human endeavour begins with slavery, but they have a some fancy name for it that I don’t recall, and besides people have been used to other kinds of indebtedness for generations now to buy homes and to furnish them with stuff.

None of that really concerns me, what concerns me is what taking away the Dark Moon will do to people’s souls. Granted they will look back on a dark Earth, but it is not the same. Not the same at all. The Moon was for most of human existence a place of mystery, variously a god or goddess. The force of tides that for too long have brought our rubbish and death to the shores where people have not been near for years, for they became too toxic a long time ago.

The last time the New Moon will rest in the arms of the old, as I understand one long vanished native people called the Dark Moon. The New Moon will be forever tarnished, and I will have lived to see that night. Those who can leave will look up and celebrate. They will congratulate themselves on being fortunate enough to go there in the next few months. They will not understand that what they leave was once so beautiful and pristine, and even before they arrive, the Moon was littered with human debris.

We are a wasteful and wasting species. None of that will change as we go off to exploit other worlds. I can envisage a chain of ruined worlds over the next however many millennia. What a terrible legacy.

And tomorrow is the Last Dark Moon, forever. The power running the lights will be able to carry on even after humans embark for worlds farther away.

A very few people will still populate the Earth, but not for too many more generations. All the wealth and all the will to keep Earth viable is on its way, away.

And tomorrow is the Last Dark Moon, when all the stars will sing their song of glory one last time, for once the moon is lighted there will be no phases, it will always be light. No waxing. No waning. No deep mystery. No wonder. Only night as light as day. No night any longer either.

I imagine that any creatures left on Earth will die from lack of the basic patterns of their beings. No dark. No rest. No night. No repose. Even if artificially created dark is possible the energy of all that light will still insinuate itself through every conceivable space. There will be no escaping it.

I shall stay up the whole night, the last real night. The night of the Last Dark Moon.

Perhaps, if I am blessed my heart will burst from sadness and the lost ones can die in peace with me.

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The Third Fall

When I wrote ‘The Fall. THE FALL and the Apple’, I only thought of two Falls that were part of my personal story.

There is another, however, one which I have only been introduced to since living in the UK. One I witnessed yesterday, and only the third time in such a spectacular fashion. But this time there was a difference, for in the middle of the experience I connected it to the other two Falls, and it too was connected to apples for it occurred within the mysterious realm of Avalon, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

This third Fall is that which occurs at the end of a Starling Murmuration sequence.

We were at RSPB Ham Wall on the Somerset Levels. I had spent the day indoors at a meeting nearby whilst my partner explored the reserve, and he brought me there after he picked me up to share what he had discovered. During the day it had gone from sunny and bright to overcast and windy, eventually adding mizzle to the mix.

We walked down to the big hide and back in a cold wind, waiting for the Starlings to come in for the night. I had seen the murmuration there before, from a distance, with a friend who works for the RSPB, a couple of years ago. I had also seen it when out on the Levels many years ago, also from quite a distance the big sky the sky dancers stage. My partner had never had the experience, seen the display.

At the time posted on the notice board at the RSPB building on site, the Starlings began to arrive. Last evening was different from the previous times I had seen the massed dance, from a distance. I had heard the beating of hundreds of wings swooping over my head. I had watched them turn and swirl and wheel, seen masses of starlings blacken part of the sky and then open up into a loose mass. This time was different.

What I had never seen up close was want happens when the aerobatic display ends: what happens after The Fall.

The Starlings rise and drop several times on the way to the reedbed to roost, but the final act in the aerial ballet, The Fall, I had not witnessed up close. The reedbed was swarming with Starlings. Literally thousands and thousands of them. This sort of display only happens in late Autumn and Winter.

There are no adequate words to describe the spectacle. The entire reedbed roiled and quivered, the chittering was incessant, the sound of the thousands of pairs of wings continued to beat as the mass settled for the night, which took time; it was not a rushed settling in, settling down. Some of the birds stopped to take a bath or have a drink. The reedbed was thick and dark with Starlings as small groups continued to move back and forth. Even when it appeared the space could hold no more, overhead another huge group would arrive from behind us churning and whirling, and then another from the right, over the trees. Fall after Fall after Fall. More and more Starlings arriving.

I could feel the intensity of whatever drove these amazing birds to seek the place of their night’s roosting, the place they would shelter for the night. I wondered who choose the site for the night, of all the various reedbeds on the Levels, wondered why they all came to the one in front of us at Ham Wall. I wondered how they all knew when the gathering was taking place. I was curious how come there were always a few stragglers who came in at the very last. I wondered how they got separated from their group. I wondered if a raptor got to any who were late and not part of the massed sky dance.

So many questions. And, I suppose I could find some of the reasons behind this behaviour; for now, however, I am content not to have the answers. The mystery is fine, essential still. The mystery is part of the magic of experience.

I would love to see the morning rising, and am sure I will manage to do so one day. In the meantime I am left to ponder this Fall, the third Fall, its deeper meaning and its lessons.

Leaves fall from trees in the Autumn. Sap rises in the Spring after the trees Winter rest bringing trees back to life, reawakened. Starlings fall from the sky into the reedbeds to rest for the night. In the morning they awaken and rise to begin their daily cycle again.

Mystery. Wonder. Connection. Awe.

For all the words I have written here, I was speechless last evening. Clearly, to me, the marker of a deep and profound spiritual experience.

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.

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.