The words which follow were read aloud at the August 29th Moon Language Story Circle in Austin Texas. The evening's stories and songs all touched on instinct, migration, homecoming, profundity, and courage. It was the ten year anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina which devastated New Orleans and displaced a staggering number of people in addition to the those whose lives were lost, but not forgotten. Redwood Elixir was passed around as I read aloud. Many tears and deep breaths punctuated my words with a raw vulnerability that I had not anticipated and do not regret. It was a night wet with tears, and full of hope -- enigmatic thing that it is. May it bring you more of the same as you read it now.
After calling the Mountains and the High Desert my Home for so many years, I am learning what it means to leave the Land to which you have belonged.
As we become intimate with a place we become a part of the larger landscape, no different than a flower or a tree. And just as odd as it would seem to displace one such flower or tree--moving it from its home to an unfamiliar place, hundreds or thousands of miles away--it is similarly disorienting for those humans who have mingled their blood with the dirt, their breath with the wind, to uproot and make home elsewhere.
Humbled and harrowed, I now find myself living once more in Austin, TX--where I was born and raised. And yet every cell in my body cries out for the desert landscape, for the mountains which held me for so many years. A place becomes you, literally and irrevocably so. And so the sagebrush which pulses through my veins and the mountain meadows which bloom behind my eyes, will sustain me best they can so far from Home in hopes that soon I will return to the embrace of those places of which I am a part. And even still, while I am here in these rolling Hills of Oak and Juniper, this land of Wildflowers and slow-moving Rivers, I will offer of myself what I can so that I might forge some similar sense of Knowing in the the changing geography of my own hometown, grown unfamiliar to me now from so much gentrification and the fast passing of time.
When I first arrived back here, I woke dreaming each morning; resisted the urge to lick the remaining dust of the Mesa from the bumper of my car. That silty residue which told of rain in the lowlands, an expanse of sagebrush turned grey to green; a powder fine pollen of sand and clay that told the tale of the untamed road which once led to my Home.
The Redwood is a tree which connects us with the timelessness of Life on Earth. It re-sets our inner clock to the ancient rhythm of the forest and the trees. "Old As Time, Old As Time," is the refrain heard in the gentle rustle of Redwood boughs. The medicine of this tree has a profound ability to heal long-held and inherited grief, particularly as it relates to loss of home, loss of place, loss of way of life. It is a valuable remedy for connecting with one's own ancestral roots as well as finding communion and harmony with the Spirits of the Land where one lives. The greatest gift offered by the Redwood is sense of ancient support, one which exists beyond time or space. It has been a great teacher and ally to me during this time of so much newness.
So I want to share with you a gift that I have discovered. I want us to plant a seed within this Moon-swept moment. And though it is more typically the new moon which holds within its darkness, the most auspicious time for such planting, within the watery womb of this Piscean Full Moon, I am certain that our seeds will be as life flowing forth from the primordial Oceans of our origin.
I invite you to remember where you've come from. The parents whose bodies made yours, and their parents before them. Remember your grandparents. And your great grandparents. And using memory, or story, or pure imagination, remember as far back as you can, the People who have passed down to you your bones as well as the stories which knit them together. Smile upon their lives. Thank them for their feet upon the Earth, their hands within the soil. Remember for them, the feeling of sunlight on your brow and breeze on your bare skin. It is good to remember.
The Redwood is a treasured teacher that has guided me toward this sacred act of remembering. It is a medicine that has helped me to slow down—from capitalist time to true Earth time. It is within this slowness, this timeless space and honest pace, that I have come to know my ancestors as well as the many generations of Self that have already come and gone, died and been reborn, even within the short span of my young life.
Each of us is like these trees. We are nursed by the life giving shade and mycorrhizal nourishment of our Elders, growing out from our ineffable core of heartwood each year, leaving faint rings which point toward who we were, where we came from. Many choose to acknowledge only the outermost bark both in themselves and others, the newest iteration and layer of growth. Let us now make a different choice and not forsake the falls we have taken, the roads we have walked. Let us remember and claim what lies beneath the surface ourselves--the many layers of lives lived, loves lost, the ancestors who dwell within us, always, whether or not we are aware of their presence. It is good to remember, for this is the living story of who we are and all parts of the tale are essential to its unfolding.