I was called to Alaska where I was sent to grieve
In the majesty of light and land,
To the heart of the mother, the font of seed
Where it feels like life was incepted
I was called to grieve.
So many shades of green,
We sailed a sequined sea where
Even the whales seemed small against the backdrop of trees reflected in the water
. . . softly shimmering
. .the light. . . the water
. . ..the calf her mother. .
The show off breaching
The land stretching farther than I could imagine
I want to go there to breathe in the clean air
We heard the eagles sing
Then we saw them by the dozens a pile of abundance
embodying how we’ve been
Eagles by the dozen a pile of abundance
Feasting on what's rotten
Embodying how we’ve succumbed
Eagles by the dozen
The water meets the land where the earth has been cleaved by glaciers migrating
This water is your dream
This water it will kill you if you go in fast or deep
I was called to Alaska where I was sent to grieve
Faces in the forest accompanied me
A dog for protection howled for me
Berries and glacier water nurtured me
Life growing abundantly
ALASKA expresses what I experienced in Juneau, Alaska as a participant of the Goda Yoga/Birds of a Feather yoga retreat in June 2016.
I typically incorporate archetypal and totemic imagery into the things I make. Symbols that have resonance in the collective psyche imbue work with that resonance -- a feeling connection that may not even have language associated with it. Like a dream.
Water is an archetypal symbol for the imaginal realm -- the realm of feeling, the unconscious, the feminine. Alaska is the realm of water -- the ocean, the glaciers, the ice melt and rivers. It makes sense that I would be brought to deep feeling in such an environment. It is place where the channels of water are held by glacier cut land -- the relationship between the two a reflection of the relationship we need to have between our bodies and our minds. Our feelings transform us, the way the melting glaciers transform the earth.
When I allow myself to feel what I see, my heart aches in ways that are often intolerable. These pains linger in the body. These pains are expunged through feeling. In Alaska I became aware of how strength emerges from going through that feeling process. This is the gift of grief. Capacity.
The immensity of the landscape -- the ocean, the land, the sky -- was humbling in a comforting way. The earth is strong. Magnificent.
The tenacity of life was apparent when we visited the Juneau city dump where American bald eagles congregate. It didn’t matter that eagles are as common in Juneau as Mourning Doves are in Valley Village, we were absolutely delighted every time we saw one! An eagle would soar by, someone would holler “There’s an eagle”,” and everyone else would say “Where? Where? Where?”. Every time we saw an eagle, we appreciated its inherent splendor.
There was a lot of excitement when we saw the eagles at the dump. There were so many of them! When we got closer, we saw a gang of indiscriminate gourmands scuffling for morsels atop the refuse mound. It really struck me as an apt metaphor for what has happened to America (to modern civilization in general) -- we are complacent consumers subsisting on abundant trash in great numbers becoming lazy, malnourished, and distracted from the grace of our true nature.
The tenacity of life was evident in the luscious forests -- the trees, the meadows, the wildflowers. The growth was abundant and layered so that the interconnectedness of life was apparent as moss grew on trees, and vines intertwined, reeds interlocked and filtered light cast a gentle glow on everything. The growth was dense -- it looked like the earth was carpeted with layer upon layer of ancient ferns. It was primordial. The regenerative energy of life was palpable.
Walking through the rain forest, there were many paths to chose from. One path narrowly snaked along the edge of the hill, growth along the edges camouflaging the fact that a misstep would cause you to fall farther than you could see because the growth at the edge of the path was actually the tops of the trees rooted far below. A path lined with seasonal wildflowers and salmon berries bridged small waterfalls to take you deeper into the rain forest where the leaves of the plants became dinosaur-sized. A two-mile long wood-plank path through a boggy meadow in full spring bloom led to a respite cabin. Each path was a different experience.
The ancients were with us at every turn. I saw their figures in the mountain ridges, and I saw their faces in the ice and shadows as they watched, sometimes angry and sometimes serene. Once I saw them -- the eyes, the mouths, the countenance and posture -- I could not ignore them. These are the stewards of the world who witness everything.
It is natural to be in relationship with the landscape in Alaska. Each vantage point facilitates a fresh perspective. It is as easy to get lost in the detail of pebbles along the shore as it is to get lost in the expansiveness of earth that opens up along the horizon at the end of the channel. Every moment in Alaska was infused with an invitation to explore, not only the land, but to explore the depth of feeling that was generated by being in that space at that moment. I experienced how when we allow the land to hold us, there is healing.
The Imaginal Cell
Thank you with much gratitude to those companions and teachers who were part of
this experience. I will be forever grateful to you for making space for me to be part of this adventure. It was beautiful and profound
Below is a slideshow of some additional images from my time in Alaska:
Music available for download and remixing at ccmixter.org
Jeris -- DNA Repair
Benmaesound -- Eagle Call Outs
Juskiddink - Chimes
Haskel Joseph - Guitar
Smojos - Djembe
Davidou -- whales
SackJo22 - Vocals, Bass, Waterfall
at Glendenhall Glacier Field Recording
Images and video were made using the automatic settings on a Nikon D60
and an Iphone5S. No filters or adjustments were used.
Thank you for being part of this experience.
Check the Teachers, Healers, Resources page for more information about Goda Yoga, Birds of a Feather, Cheryl Moss (our amazing yoga teacher!) and others who were part of this trip