Every time I read this, I smile and then I laugh at the final sentence, 'in order not to daze the village too much.' During the years my kids were growing up (four in all), I used to wake up at 4am to write...sneak out to the kitchen, make coffee, light a candle, one good lamp for the writing on the kitchen table, and soft Native flute music. I used to feel like I was the only human being awake/alive in the entire world, and I loved it...that being so alone (the ancient meaning, root- 'all one'). And so 'all one' women and so magia, so filled with powerful thoughts and ideas, that's exactly how I felt in those early mornings, as though I were hiding from the village, and I was. For the sheer joy, in those hours, which also included the fear of having nothing to say, or saying something already said/written, or simply telling my own truth...but the joy was like an underground river that kept pulling me to the wide open ocean, that freedom. To stand at the shore 'all one,' to count the stars 'all one,' to witness the waxing, full, waning, new moon 'all one,' and to watch the pulse of Sun fill my eyes 'all one.' Writing each word, each line, each stanza (for poetry), each paragraph (for fiction), 'all one.' My only audience in those hours...my great hunger, great thirst to hear it all as clearly as possible, that music in my silent soul. The mute soul of my childhood that bore witness but didn't sing it out loud...so Coatlique dragged me from my dreaming bed most mornings, the sound of her skull rattles laughing as I protested, "Go away, maybe tomorrow." Her skulls whispered, "Who says you'll live until tomorrow, the only time is now," and she was right. I think every writer/poet is protected by this terrifyingly beautiful Goddess..."Who says you'll live until tomorrow, now." The one who brings the clouds, the thunder, the lightning...rain. All one. All one.
I bought a wonderful black and white likeness of Coatlique over thirty years ago in Merida, Mexico, on my honeymoon; also, a solitary woman/Goddess diving into the sea, surrounded by hungry looking fish. A dangerous dive. An enticing dive. The woman/Goddess had dark hair to her waist, flowing in the water, and she's adorned with Mayan symbols. The cloth print of Coatlique was fierce, uncompromising, as she squatted to give birth (yes, square on her feet), her powerful female body straining with effort, her face a grimace. Of pain. Strange joy. Every time I looked at her I thought, 'Yes, that's birth alright, that's how it is.' And though it was somewhat awe-ful to look at, it was also comforting. The truth. Of birth. The Diving Goddess would have to grow on me, as I didn't exactly know what to do with her, or what she wanted to do with me. But I longed to know. That hunger. That thirst. All one. All one.
Twenty-four years after my honeymoon in Merida, Isla Mujeres, Mexico City...the climb to the top of the Pyramid of The Sun, carrying the clay Quetzalcoatl flute I'd bought from the vendor before the climb, and playing shy notes to the blaze of Sun over my just-married head, my then husband beside me...getting drunk in Isla Mujeres, crawling and laughing in the sand...arriving in Merida at 2am, finding a coach with a single horse, the driver laughing at my request to take us for a ride, but he did it, took us for an eerie, empty-street, early morning ride...he should have been home in his warm bed, next to his sweet wife, his children dreaming in the next room...so perhaps Coatlique whispered in his ear, "Who says you'll live until tomorrow, now." And so, twenty-four years later as my marriage to my then husband ended, my fourth child, ours together, went off to university, Coatlique sang in my ear, "Who says you'll live until tomorrow, now," and I moved alone (all one) to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I'd been my children's daily mother for (literally) forty years...from fifteen to fifty-five...so Coatlique was really calling my poet/writer's bluff... 'All one, are you...' I was used to being surrounded by teenagers, their noise, their jokes, their general daily chaos, and being called 'dude' by my son's friends (it was a compliment)...many came to live with us for various personal, family reasons, so we often had one of his friends staying with us, or they gathered in the front room or his room, the sound of their uncensored laughter. Then they'd suit up to go surfing in the morning, the afternoon, sometimes at midnight on a full moon...they looked like mythical beings filing out the door in their various wetsuits, going out to meet La Madre Mar and what swam in her, the scary hungry fish (sharks). Once after a morning attack of a great white, the guys were suited up in the afternoon to go surfing...of course, I freaked out, "Are you all crazy!" My son, Jules, looked at me very calmly, "Mom, the sharks live in the ocean." He was right, off they went. I tried to memorize his back as he walked away...but he returned hours later so happy, so alive. All one. All one.
My second week in Santa Fe brought the most intense lightning storm I've ever experienced, and I'd experienced some whoppers in the Sierras, where I lived for five years...but this was non-stop lightning, as though the sky was being tested, as though the earth was being tested, and surely I was being tested. I'd never (ever) been so sad in my entire life...this didn't feel 'all one,' this felt terribly alone. No teenagers to listen to, worry about sharks, curfews, who's drinking, who's driving...no husband to fight with, make up with, breathe the same air with...my entire life was 'all one.' I went out to the patio to watch the bone-jolting lighting, thunder, no rain yet...back to the couch to read, the room in darkness except for one small reading light over my head. I felt limp, sad, depressed, and wondered where the damn rain was and if the fucking lightning was ever going to stop, as in ever, that night...when I saw it. A perfect, tiny, glowing-white lightning bolt appeared in the darkness over my bare feet, and it quickly, smoothly sliced into my left foot...an energy I'd have to learn how to use, channel throughout my body without thinking I was having a fucking heart attack, which happened twice until I learned. To allow it. To allow it. To bring me. Rain.
The tiny, glowing-white lightning bolt took me to Bali, a place I'd wanted to visit for over twenty years...and I went three weeks after '9/11', the bombing of the World Trade Center, the attack on my country. And of course, Bali is surrounded by the largest Muslim population in the world, but I'd bought my tickets, made reservations, almost six months before. When I arrived in San Francisco, from New Mexico, for my connection to Taiwan, then Bali, all my reservations had been cancelled...I was a pretty innocent traveler in those days and didn't know about checking flight status online, so there I was fighting, begging, fighting for my reservations, and I got them. A young Chinese guy became a computer whiz, fixed my reservations, and walked me to the gate, smiling, waving goodbye...the plane was boarding. Myself and a man were the only non-Asian passengers, so I was thoroughly scrutinized then allowed to blend in. I had three seats to myself to sit, stretch out and read, sleep, and the stewardesses were all truly beautiful and wonderful to behold as they bowed to us, the passengers. And the passengers bowed back, as did I from their example...namasate, The divinity in me sees the divinity in you.
After more fighting, begging, fighting, I finally landed in Bali, picked up at the Denpasar Airport by a young Balinese guy whose name translated to 'Love,' he told me...an air conditioned van, the air outside was a thickness/heat I'd never felt, breathed. And the traffic was horrifying as two lanes became three, four, five, sometimes six, with entire families on one motorcycle, no helmets, the baby balanced on mom's lap...the people walking on the sides of the road with enormous bundles on their heads, people on bikes, families holding hands, pregnant women with swaying hips wrapped in rainbows...everyone apparently unafraid, fearless, as I kept wanting to scream, "Watch out, Love, watch out!" But I didn't, although I did keep saying things like "Ohmygod ohmygod you'vegottobekidding ohmygoddess"...Love just laughed, that wonderful Balinese laugh. "These people are fearless," I said to Love. "What does that mean, fearless?" Pause. "It means you're not afraid to die." He laughed louder, namasate. Days later, I ended up wandering around in the Ubud Temple, courtyard after courtyard, where it seemed many dancers and artists live...the engraved stone, winged, roaring beings over each arched doorway made me stop to bow my head slightly in greeting. Purple and white orchids trailed a tall, graceful, wooden statue of Saraswati, the Goddess of music and literature (of course), small ponds with small fish swam in them, beautiful flowers everywhere, and terrifying, carved, vividly painted, wooden, winged demons, so beautiful, in surprising places...there was actually a huge winged demon right over my bed at the hotel, had to get used to that and then I fell in love with it, kind of like the lightning, that crazy, dangerous energy that wants to kill you, heal you, kill you, heal you. I walked into a courtyard with an immense bird in a steel cage; the 'ankle' of the foot/claw/talons circled by a steel clamp. Owl, hawk, eagle, it was huge, whatever it was, it broke my heart, that hunter of the skies, to see it clamped, caged. I walked closer to the cage and the bird met my eyes, split second...red red red fire in-human, a free thing caged. "Don't get too close," a woman's voice warned me, I turned to meet the same eyes. "He's my eagle, no problem." She offered me tea in her pavilion, to see her stunning amber jewelry, deep gold jewels with the captured sun at the center. I finally asked, "Why isn't the eagle free?" Her red red red fire eyes met mine, "What is freedom, madam?" She told me, very patiently, with no apology, she's a trance healer and that her eagle helps her heal, in dreams. "What is freedom, madam?" Is this the voice of Coatlique...is this why I fought, begged, fought, traveled to Bali, to hear these words.
The one who brings the clouds, the thunder, the lightning...rain. With her skull rattles, rain. "Who says you'll live until tomorrow, now, now now now." And the diving Goddess, I came to learn was Ixchel, her island Isla Mujeres...the Goddess of childbirth, healing, ecstasy...she whispered in my ear (as I laughed, crawling on the sand), "One more child," and she taught me to dive even deeper, where the scary, hungry fish live, where the stories live at the bottom of the clear turquoise sea. Off the shores of Isla Mujeres, her home. The one who brings the clouds, the thunder, the lightning...rain. "What is freedom, madam?" Now now now now, into the Sixth World now...
****I have a tiny gold/glowing lightning bolt tattoo on my left foot, exactly where it sliced through- will show you if you ask, when we meet sometime. ****