Evolution at the Ancestors service

Recently, I ran across the lovely poem Evolution, , by Langdon Smith.  Even though it’s based on obsolete science and has a few other issues, it stuck with me.  When the UToS ancestors service was coming up, I got a strong feeling I should recite it there to honor the spirit of Evolution, that force of Love and Time that has brought about the life of this world.  I adapted the poem a bit, and it was chosen to lead things off, right after the opening songs.  I recited it to a heartbeat of drumming, and it seemed to work really well, lending a distinct presence to the rest of the service

Here it is, with some links added.  I haven’t marked my edits; it should be fairly easy to figure them out… I removed the “brutish Neanderthal” characterization, and split that section- the art referenced was produced by early Homo Sapiens Sapiens– made it more polytheistic, changed a few pronouns, etc.

Evolution
By Langdon Smith (updated by Hugh Eckert)

When you were a tadpole and I was a fish
In the Paleozoic time,
And side by side on the ebbing tide
We sprawled through the ooze and slime,
Or skittered with many a caudal flip
Through the depths of the Cambrian fen,
My heart was rife with the joy of life,
For I loved you even then.

Mindless we lived and mindless we loved
And mindless at last we died;
And deep in the rift of the Caradoc drift
We slumbered side by side.
The world turned on in the lathe of time,
The hot lands heaved amain,
Till we caught our breath from the womb of death
And crept into life again.

We were amphibians, scaled and tailed,
And drab as a dead man’s hand;
We coiled at ease ‘neath the dripping trees
Or trailed through the mud and sand.
Croaking and blind, with our three-clawed feet
Writing a language dumb,
With never a spark in the empty dark
To hint at a life to come.

Yet happy we lived and happy we loved,
And happy we died once more;
Our forms were rolled in the clinging mold
Of a Neocomian shore.
The eons came and the eons fled
And the sleep that wrapped us fast
Was riven away in a newer day
And the night of death was passed.

Then light and swift through the jungle trees
We swung in our airy flights,
Or breathed in the balms of the fronded palms
In the hush of the moonless nights;
And oh! what beautiful years were there
When our hearts clung each to each;
When life was filled and our senses thrilled
In the first faint dawn of speech.

Thus life by life and love by love
We passed through the cycles strange,
And breath by breath and death by death
We followed the chain of change.
Till there came a time in the law of life
When over the nursing sod
The shadows broke and the soul awoke
In a strange, dim dream of Gods.

I was thewed like an Aurochs bull,
You were strong and lush and fair;
‘Neath our brows so deep our eyes did keep
The sparks of new wisdom there.
Lit by the glow of our precious fire,
Safe in our rock overhang,
When the moon hung red o’er the river bed
We worked and we danced and we sang.

I flaked a flint to a cutting edge
And shaped it with careful craft;
You took a limb from an ash-tree slim
And fitted it, head and haft;
Then we hid us close to the reedy tarn,
Where the bison came to drink;
Through the brawn and bone we drove the stone
And slew him upon the brink.

Loud we called through the moonlit wastes,
Loud answered our kith and kin;
From west to east to the crimson feast
The clan came tramping in.
Our lives were full, our lives were short,
Too soon they came to an end,
And mournéd we lay underneath red clay
Until we should live again.

Next you were the chief of a hunting folk,
And I was your shaman mate;
Our tribe made its home ‘neath a tent of bone
And skin from a mammoth great.
For we followed the trail of a foolish bull
With all of our cunning and wit,
And drove him down in blood to drown
In a covered and spike-filled pit.

You carved that feat on a reindeer bone
With sure and steady hand;
I pictured his fall on the cavern wall
That folk might understand.
For we had heart and thought- and art!
Ere modern laws were drawn,
And the age of sin did not begin
‘Til our primal days were gone.

And that was many millennia ago
In a time that no one knows;
Yet here tonight in the mellow light
We sit at Delmonico’s.*
Your eyes are deep as the Devon springs,
Your hair is dark as jet;
Our years are few, our lives are new,
Our souls untried, and yet –

Our trail is on the Kimmeridge clay
And the scarp of the Purbeck flags;
We have left our bones in the Bagshot stones
And deep in the Coralline crags;
Our love is old, our lives are old,
And death shall come amain;
Should it come today- well, who can say
We shall not live again?

The Gods wrought our souls from the Tremadoc beds
And furnish’d them wings to fly;
They sowed our spawn in the world’s dim dawn,
And I know that it shall not die,
Though cities have sprung above the graves
Where the crook-bone folk made war
And the roadways snake past the frozen lakes
Where the mummied mammoths are.

For we know the clods, by the deathless Gods
Will quicken with voice and breath;
And we know that Love, with gentle hand
Will beckon from death to death.
Then as we linger at luncheon here
O’er many a dainty dish,
Let us drink anew to the time when you
Were a tadpole and I was a fish.


* Never been to the one in NYC, but I’ve been to Emeril’s Delmonico in NOLA… yum.

Praises to Brigid

Once upon a time, there was LiveJournal.*  I haven’t posted there for over a year, but I was digging through my account and found this (from twelve years ago, almost exactly:

Because I have dreamed of beauty

Sing within me, oh perilous Muse,
Bright mistress of my soul’s fire;
Your mantle lies still swirled around
This world- warp and weft embedded,
Emblazoned in the lines of light,
Dragon-fire in the deeps of the land.
Untie that knot of memory, return,
Descend in imbas into my secret self;
Set your flame within my head
That I may frame, focus it in words,
Blaze it in beauty through the land.
My heart is always home for you.

Mighty Brigid, threefold Flame, my Muse of Fire, how can I praise You enough? You are the blaze on the hillside, the whisper in the well, the shield of the house. Your spirit inside us inspires- guides the healer’s hand, the smith’s hammer, the poet’s pen. You set the cool head aflame with ideas, seeds of bright beauty that sprout and grow, entwining all the green and grey and blue of this fragile world.

Bright Arrow of Fire, Victorious and Gentle One, when have You not been near me? I have been a hawk above a cliff, a hound on the trace, a salmon in a pool. I have been father, mother, son, daughter, infant and aged, dead and alive and neither. I have made worlds, shaped them, ruined them. Above and beyond and within, You have been with me through all of it. On my left and on my right, before and behind me, above and below me, within and without me- I am always in the compass of Your glory and grace.

Thrice-shining One, Beauty of the Upper Airs, Hearthkeeper and Comforter, accept my thanks. Guide my art, grant me imbas and imagination; let me draw compassion from Your well; make me sure in the works of my hands.

Light-casting, Triumphant Brigid, mighty and gentle, nine times hail!

Essay on Brighid from the IMBAS website

 Brigid, the Energy of Creation

*It was a good place to write various things, and to communicate with friends.  But it started to wither for various reasons, and then the Russian company who bought it moved the servers to Russia, and most of my friends ditched it wholesale in the face of various (IMHO legitimate) concerns.  I haven’t deleted my account, though I haven’t posted in over a year.

Imbolc 2019

Into the ice wind and snow sting, I trudge
A path to ring my neighborhood, layering
Another fine line of fortune around the land.
Your fire in my deep within leads me on,
Your song (one of so, so many) drives
The rhythm of my feet. Wearing red,
I carry Your flame; engraved above
My heart is Your sigil. I warm
To my task, returning home to light
Your candles, offer You mead and music
And a story that is litany to You.
The cold-bringing winds cannot quench
This blaze; whatever the season, You
Whisper this blessing in my words.

Glacier Bay

We took a trip to Alaska last month, and one of the stops was Glacier Bay National Park. It was awe-inspiring and beautiful, and the spirit of the place was very evident (even to a cement head like me).  Maybe it’s because everything is so new there- I tend to think of “natural wonders” as being impossibly ancient, but the fjords of the bay formed very recently- since the peak of the Little Ice Age in the 1700s, as a matter of fact.  There was something very raw and brash and youthful about the place.

Johns Hopkins Glacier

Crack! and rumble as we face the
Wall of ice; a woman behind me
Murmurs “white thunder”, and lightning
Ices my spine. More chunks tumble
And splash as the delayed crash follows.
Hard to find a scale to size it
Until the eye, the mind grasps
That those tiny curved dark dots
Are harbor seals, five hundred pounds
Or more, hauled out on the floes
(Oblivious to the plummet of blocks
Bigger than them). Blue glow
Shimmers in the serried spikes along the
Glacier top, and all is quiet for an
Intake of breath while our ship pivots.
Then a span of the ice-face fails
Its hold, spouts and plumes at first,
Then it all merges as the wall dissolves
At one point, fountaining high before
The roll of sound reaches us. A wave
Heaves up, spreads, touches the hull,
Rocks us gently, massive, implacable,
Before passing down the bay towards the sea.

Happy New Year!

Hail to the home-fires at the turn of the year,
To meetings and greetings, friends and good cheer;
To joy in the darkness and love in the light,
To family at table and peace in the night.
Our dogs are asleep and the cats, too (below),
And outside the grey wind fingers traces of snow.
As the slow-growing Sun gives up the short day,
And the last hours of this month tick swiftly away-
Though this last year was troubled, it’s true,
I wish you good fortune and health in the new!

Love and bright blessings to you and yours!

Magnetic Poetry

We collect fridge magnets.  Not obsessively, but occasionally… they make great compact keepsakes to bring back from our voyages, and some artists use them as a convenient medium for small pieces.

At out cabin, we have a sampling of the usual mix, plus several different “magnetic poetry” collections- including Shakespearean words and a selection of phrases from The Onion.  This has led to many odd sentences and slogans spread across the doors of the refrigerator there.

This weekend, however, something different happened.  There were three magnets- one with a Brigid symbol, one with a picture of Her, and one with a Celtic cross.  I moved them so that there was a little space cradled between them, and challenged myself to come up with something appropriate from the remaining words.  I did… and then, after pondering the result, She told me to write the rest of the poem:

My Lady’s fire can make drunk
The coolness of this world- only pour out
And see: Her well contains the flame,
Her forge flows with the inspiring drink
Of poets. Petal upon petal, Her flowered
Aspects unfold from either, both, other;
And as hearth flicker and struck spark
Flash across the earth, springs burst forth
From every hidden hollow; water, blaze,
And the hand of Art all strive, all proclaim
The power of Her name to a waiting land.

(The part up to and including “And see” are from the magnets…)

Cousin Bat

Those who know me know that I like (am mildly obsessed with) bats.  There are many reasons, not the least is that they are an Important Animal to me spiritually – I’m not going to use any more specific terminology because I don’t want to make any claims that I don’t have backup for.

They also, unsurprisingly, flitter into my poetry:

Cousin Bat

What are the ways to sing praise of the night-flyer?
Not hard: emerging at sunfall’s call, they dive,
Flickering through light-cones, prey-hunting, or
Skim swift past our heads, sure of course, seeking
To feed on pests, unwanted crawlers; or they sip,
Hovering daintily, at secret flowers, night blooms,
Blessing each with pollen from the last; or they spread
Seeds, a worthy outcome of fruit-greed: jungles
Regrow from their dung. Cunningly concealed by day,
Carrier away when the sun is gone, so loved by Nature
They arose twice, independent; soaring a six-foot span
Or hiding thumb-small in river caves; solo slumbering in leaves
Or spiraling in their millions to flow against the moon-
Wondering words as many as all their wings would not be enough.

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