Monday, February 23, 2004

Someone gave me a bag of black walnuts once. I thought about using the hulls to make leather tanning stuff, since someone also gave me two deer skins, fresh off the corpse. As it turned out, the hulls tanned my hands just fine, so much so that I decided not to mess with it. Likewise, the deer skins ended up not being cleaned by my ash/water solution as eaten up by same. So I was left with the nuts themselves.

I dug a hole about 3' square and a foot down. Then I put compost, goat shit and stuff like that down. I poured the nuts out on the dark earth and covered them with more of the same. Then I put a blanket of chicken wire over the bed and covered that with local surface dirt. Years later I had this tight grove of some dozen tall, straight black walnut trees. So close, they would go up straight and tall before branching out and make some great wood.

One day I was out back doing something in the garden when I heard a WHOMP sound. I looked around to try to place it and I couldn't quite see anything when I realized that one area I couldn't quite see anything wrong was in fact supposed to have a big old poplar tree, about 75 feet tall and maybe 24" across at the base. Which had snapped, dropping the poplar giant right down on those black walnuts. I was left with two saplings, one pretty much untouched for some reason and one snapped off about five foot up. A couple years later the one tree is soaring up, looking good. The snapped trunk has sprouted side sprouts, creating a brushy, yet distinctly black-walnutish thing. That wood will likely be more interesting and valuable than the one tree that is going so well. That might mean the straight tree will be allowed to grow taller. It might also mean that the strange one will produce something valued by people at least, if not by trees, like a table or sculpture, or some fantastic bit of carving that serves to enchant the eye and hand... of a human. Sometimes it is problematic being liked by those not of your kind.

I carve spruces now. I cut off the top half to create a "sacrifice" offering to both the goddess of winter and the prophet of the Yawehists. The Christmas tree goes away and the brushy shape adapts it's shape to it's circumstances. Since the Hermeticists we have known that "as above, so below; as below, so above." and for a tree it takes the form of worshipping the Earth mother with it's roots, while showing homage to the sky and sun by growing it's branches in an equal form, but skyward. So the branches approach the form of the roots and you get a structure like a curvy "Y". After a few years, when they are big and strong, I will cut them down and sacrifice them to my goddess of art. I have one cedar man out back, about 12' tall, named Andy. I'd like to add some much bigger pieces, maybe 20' tall and more, back behind and supported in part by the large white pine trees near the edge of the property. A whole family of tree figures looking down at the garden, the hen yard and the bonfire site. Like my "giants" I envisioned as a toddler back in Kentucky.

Mom would come to me and tell me that I could stay with grandma or come with momma to the store, and I would say I had to check with my giants. Mom thought I was saying I would be checking my joints and thought my knees hurt or something. Growing pains maybe. But I was, in fact, going back into the bedroom and seeing the ceiling lift up, held by two tall figures. I would ask them about this trip and they would tell me if it were well aspected. If it were, I would go. Years later I found that this sort of visioning and the several near-death experiences I had thanks to my asthma, were typical aspects of the life of the shaman.

I have two kids, by two women. One child, the oldest, is bent, twisted and mostly not responsive. Nice eyes, though, and when he is responsive it's great. To see the connection with me as my son goes flying past, spinning in his own head, is so strange and awesome. My daughter is bright and straight in mind and spirit. Like an ash tree she has become strong. I'm looking forward to watching her grow out there in the world, overcoming problems and always having a home to return to. I sometimes understand that when I see the sun come up in my back yard, my daughter might be tucking herself into bed, just like I did I when I was her age. It was such a brilliant time in my life, and I see her as dazzling.

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