Today’s Daily Prompt for bloggers from WordPress.com’s idea generating maven michelle w. is OASIS. Her prompt reads: “A sanctuary is a place you can escape to, to catch your breath and remember who you are. Write about the place you go to when everything is a bit too much.” I have resisted some great prompts from michelle, saving them in a folder for a rainy day when I might need inspiration for journal or blog, but today I am prompted to write right now!
My personal sanctuary is a physical one, a literal oasis in the desert. When I parked my old motorhome on private land near Tucson, Arizona, six years ago (never again to fire up that gas-guzzling, noisy and polluting engine!), I backed into the offered campsite so that my door opened directly into the entryway of a little clearing within a circle of mesquite trees. I knew this shady area would be my outdoor living room and warm-weather bedroom, because for over a decade I had been searching for, discovering, living in beyond legal timelimits, and returning seasonally to public lands campsites with a shade tree (or great view, nice boulder…) under (or next to) which I could live/ create jewelry/ eat/ sleep/ dream….
I soon decided that I would create a Medicine Wheel in this mesquite grove by planting four native shrubs at the Cardinal directions of the grove, with each plant’s flowers the color of its direction. On my way to Desert Survivors nursery, I was envisioning the Healing Grove where I would sleep the next nine months….No!, where I would hold women’s Dark/New Moon ceremonies and other sacred events and councils! Several neighbors got involved and the Healing Grove was birthed with a copper spiral energized rose quartz vortex in the center of a Sri Lakshmi yantra, then gifted over time with a statue of Kwan Yin, crystals and stones, and two ancient mesquite-grinding pestles found nearby in this desert valley.
Lovely women gathered for ceremonies I created and led, coming into my power as priestess after many years of despair around not finding a circle or coven to join. I became the creator of the ceremonial life of my dreams….well almost,.for I dream of a circle of peers that co-create and deeply support each member’s life and healing, and doing it mostly “all by myself” in order to have a ceremonial grouplife was taxing.
It got too cold to sit in ceremony in the Grove, and before the next Spring I had descended into a “time out” year in bed, lost once again in the dark cave of depression and pain on both physical and psychological/ spiritual levels, dread-full at the time, but in retrospect a year that was amazingly transformative. The Grove received no gardening attention other than daily drip irrigation that kept plants alive during the long hot early summer, so plants went feral and the small stones were tossed everywhere by curved bill thrashers. The colors, crystal/ stone, and herbal energies of the Wheel blended in strange ways, the grapevine wove the trees together, and the wolfberry grew enormous and sprawled into the central circle. The shamana I had become in the dark cave laughed and declared the Grove’s ceremonial space a spiral The Grove and I were “rewilded” and “gone feral” in magickal ways. Many wonder-full meetings were held in spiral the next year.
And then the neighborhood changed, with landowners retreating into relative isolation after burning out on their ventures into community, and temporary campers other than myself moving on. My community and circle shrank, with only occasional council or ceremony with one or two other persons at a time. And then, this Summer and Autumn, just a circle of one.
I found that a Circle of One is a good thing to be, so long as there is an Oasis to nourish one’s spirit. Indeed, it can be a Spiral of One! A Circle whole unto oneself, a Spiral with movement and evolution…. At first, I found my returned solitude, especially for Moontime ceremony, rather, well, lonesome (shades of the “dark” solitary years!), and not nearly as enjoyable as the group synergy had been. But easy to go with my own flow without commitment to others at designated times, so stressful when I’m exhausted or in pain…. Over time, especially this year of Personal Discovery and Breakthrough work with lifecoach Scout Wilkins, I have come to deeply enjoy what is, for now, a solitary spiritual oasis. Whenever I “hit the wall” of depleted adrenals or fibroflare, my recliner awaits in the Healing Grove to relieve me of the stresses of gravity (physical and mental). The Grove awaits for any ceremony I wish to create, and is a place to relax and “just be” for a moment or hours of contemplative timelessness (or a nap!).
This year from the Magick Chaise I watched the mesquites leaf out, with noticeably more delicate applegreen leaves each day dancing against the windy Springtime sky, and the golden flower “catkins” singing with bees turning into tiny pods elongating almost as I watched–then falling around and on me as I flew in the ecstasy of total exhaustion on my magick chaise. The smallest warbler in the US, Lucy’s Warbler, entertained me for months, and small dark brown Tree Lizards seemed to respond to my loving energy. The horde of apple-theiving thrashers warned me of the Gila monster’s approach, so I was blessed to see his beaded beauty. The diamondback rattlesnake dreamed peacefully even when I unknowingly sprinkled her while handwatering. And always the sky was visible through the branches, calling me as I reclined, and flew.
Now the mesquite leaves are dry and more gray than green, dropping slowly over weeks of what folks in colder climes of North America call Indian Summer. The sky here is a lovely shade of “Autumn blue” which is fading until it will be pale or storm clouded through the dark rough barked branches of Winter. And then, finally (long after our late winter wildflowers have gone to seed), the new Spring leaves will emerge and the cycle begin anew. Will my next “Mesquite Year” find me still living at this oasis, or creating a more permanent one on the land I hope to find and purchase? Will my dream of community bring others to share the Healing Grove, wherever it will be?
I know that the answer will be revealed as the seasons turn. And I know I will always take “alone” time to watch the birds and lizards, the play of light and dance of clouds through the branches of a beloved tree or grove, in my outdoor livingroom or laying on the ground off-trail in wilder Nature.
And when the weather is too cold/ windy/ rainy or I am “in town,” my sanctuary is still available in my memory. When stressed or scared, I now have a simple practice to center myself: I envision entering the spiral path to the center of the Healing Grove. With my hand on my heart, I speak (or think, if in a public place) my self affirmation “I am amazingly powerful…..” Three deep breaths, and I am “good to go!” Even if you don’t have a literal Oasis Healing Grove in your front yard, you can remember a special place where you felt especially in touch with wild Nature and/or your own powerful, wise Self, and go there for a moment–or an hour of “daydreaming” or shamanic journeying. May you find the renewal you need as I have been so blessed to do!