Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Crossroads and the Crone

About two years ago, I came to a crossroads.  A sudden major life-altering event for which I was unprepared stood in front of me, blocking me from moving onward on the path I had journeyed for quite some time.  There I was, 41-years old, and face-to-face with the Crone.  Her dark ominous presence loomed in front of me, barring my way.  She demanded my attention and would not budge until I acknowledged and accepted Her.

I spent many nights traveling the spirit realm, deep in meditation on why this was happening.  In dream-like states, I walked circular roads, always leading back to the spot at which I had started.  I was visited each time by a crow, who would squawk at me, “Move on!  Just time!  Move on!  Not over!  Move on!”

I saw myself wrapped in a midnight-blue hooded cloak roaming cliffs high above raging seas and under dark whirling storm clouds in wind-swept rain, always searching in near panic for something that was lost.  The crow soared above.  “Just time!  Move on!  Not over!  Move on!”

On the physical plane, doctors poked and prodded, tested and scanned, and the only answer they could find was that my recent dramatic weight loss had catapulted me to this point.  I found it very hard to believe that losing 80 pounds, eating healthier, and exercising each day could lead to this, the end of my child-bearing years.  So, then, why?

Again my friend, the crow.  “Just time!  Move on!  Not over!”

I mourned.  I raged.  I feared.  I fretted.  I regretted.  I reminisced.  I panicked.  I felt sorry for myself.  At times, I longed for Olympia Dukakis to slap me across the face and command, “Snap out of it!”  But nothing changed it.

My last option was to turn to the Crone.  I waited until a night during the dark of the moon when my husband and son were sound asleep.  Sitting in front of my altar aglow with a single black candle, I began the trance-like meditation.  Several breaths into it, there She was at the crossroads illuminated by moonlight, wrapped in darker-than-night robes, her face veiled, and wisps of jet black hair streaked with silver floating out from under the veil.

“May I ask why,” I whispered.

That squawk from a nearby tree.  “Move on!  Just time!”

Her hand, white as the purest snow, rose up to silence the crow.  Then in a voice encompassing every female voice I have ever known, she said, “It is just what must be.  Do not fear it.  Do not mourn it.  Know me better.  Embrace it.  Embrace me.”

“But I am not quite sure how to do this, how to be this.”  I confessed.

“You will find your way.  You will know me and no longer fear me.”  The Crone glided to the side of the road, revealing two roads on which to travel, motioning for me to come forward.  “Though only you can choose which way to go.  One road leads to wisdom and the other back to this point.  One to joy and a new beginning and the other to resentment and bitterness.”

“How do I know which road to take?”

“Close your eyes and let that which you have always known guide you.”

I moved forward slightly, feeling confused and scared.  She suddenly reached out and touched my cheek.  Her long fingers were icy cold but a warmth traveled through me.  “Trust yourself, Daughter, and you will trust me.  Love yourself and you will love me.  It is time.  Move on.  It is not over, Child.  Close your eyes and move onto the path.”

I closed my eyes, my breath catching in my chest as if I was about to leap off a cliff, moved forward, and….I was back in front of my altar.  I was disoriented.  Had I chosen the correct path?  With an inner peace I had not felt in weeks, I yawned and stretched.  Perhaps I had chosen correctly.  Perhaps not.  I just needed to sleep.  I went to bed and slumbered dreamlessly.

A few days later, I was in the garden, on my knees and pulling weeds when I heard a great swooshing noise and saw a shadow pass overhead.  A large crow landed on the arm of one of my nearby adirondak chairs.  The crow squawked wordlessly at me.  I smiled and said aloud, “Hello.”  The crow seemed to bow its head to me and took off.  I watched it until it was but a black speck in the bright blue sky.  I knew I had chosen the correct path.

I write of this now only because I was recently confronted with those feelings of sadness, regret, and anger again.  As I worked in the garden with my husband and brother-in-law, a neighbor came by with his six-month old daughter in the portable car seat to see our progress in what we call “The Vegetable Garden Experiment”.  As he asked my husband about excavating, leveling and constructing, I knelt down to coo at this sweet little girl, with her tiny purple bow in her hair, one sock on and one sock off.  I told her how big she was getting and that soon she would be running her Mommy and Daddy ragged as she ran all over the place.  I told her how she could come by to see the garden and its beautiful flowers and could take some herbs and vegetables for her family.  Maybe she would even see the fairies that live in my gardens.  After many enchanting grins, sparkling smiling blue-gray eyes and several showings of tiny chubby little toes, she and her father left and I was ready to sit in the dirt and cry my eyes out.

Instead, I straightened up, turned to my husband and brother-in-law, and said to them, “One of my sisters better have a baby soon!  I can get all the fun parts and then hand that child right back over to its Mommy.”  My husband gave me a sympathetic smile and my brother-in-law cracked a few jokes.  I went back to digging in the dirt and, somewhere in the distance, I heard the caw of a crow.