The Ocean of Tears, The Lake of Memories, and the Heart of Heaven

Tears are holy, and at the heart of Heaven, is the Ocean of Tears from Chassidic myth. Michael tends it, and I always grewing up calling it the Lake of Memories. Heaven is lovely, from Metatron’s library to Uriel’s beaches to Raphael’s nursery to the Tree of Life, but I have always found the Ocean of Tears to be the most holy of places, and it is the first place I met Michael at twelve. Neshama Carlebach set it to song, and I like to think the holy dead are on its shores. Scars like the Holocaust, which I as a German woman know all to well, and I like to think of the victims of it are in the forests and fields and beaches of Heaven, at rest with Adonai, at peace. The souls I have had the pleasure of meeting are, but there are tears in Heaven, and there is still sorrow even at the Heart of God’s Land.

“The time came when Reb Yitzhak died. His son Mendele kept expecting to hear from his father in some way, even if just in a dream. No message came so about a month after his father’s death Mendele went to visit the Kotzker Rebbe to ask why he had not heard anything. The Kotzker Rebbe said that he too had expected Reb Yitzhak to contact him from Heaven and when he heard nothing he decided to go to Heaven to find him. He looked in all the palaces in Heaven and found no Reb Yitzhak. Desparately he went to the angels and asked. From them, he learned that if he wanted to find his dearest friend, he would have to search for him in a dark forest at the farthest end of Heaven. He mustered all of his strength and entered the forest. Finally he came to the end of the forest and saw a huge ocean. Leaning on a walking stick, staring out over the vast sea, was Reb Yitzhak. The Kotzker Rebbe rushed to him, embraced him, and asked what was happening. Reb Yitzhak pointed at the ocean and said: “Don’t you recognize this ocean?” Kotz replied: “No, what is it?” Reb Yitzhak said: “This is the ocean of tears. In it are all the tears shed over the centuries by God’s Holy people, the community of Israel. I can not leave this dark place. I spoke to God about the countless people who’s suffering this embodies. When I left, I vowed to God that I would not leave this place until he has wiped away all the tears of our people!”

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Blood in the Cut

It’s the pulse of the universe, pounded into forged bronze.
The guardian of the threshold is buzzing like a hive, golden
idol eyes the fire of god, light of the universe, and as he
lays hands on me and heals my favorite ways to die, I eat the
sacrament of the damned, him my animus, my lion. We are in the
cave together, bleeding out into the River Styx, painting all
Hell red with our spilled regrets, our shared burden. Iron and
hemoglobin, smell of a rusty nickel, making love like wolves.
Longing, lust, wildfires in the flames of our union, wandering.
There is a desert caged in my ribs of the unressurected dead,
and at the core of my stomach, Adam rides a bone horse in the
Valley of the Shadow of Death, and I am pregnant with pauses.
Eternity spent forlorn, wishful drinking and thinking, always
thinking, when everything feels like the movies, they say, you
bleed just to know you’re alive. It’s Wings of Desire, Wim Wenders
wrote this script before I was born, I the trapeze swinger that
condemns the purest of archangels to a life of earth and toil.
Shouting “Nein!” into the ears of the suicidal, only Michael instead
showed me a miracle, and I didn’t jump off that building, the
angel broke all that is holy and spoke loud and proud, so many
times, pulling me out of the heart of Hell, saving twelve year
old madrigal from the storm of evil in the heart of darkness,
hearts like apples, blood like wine, body of bread and bones of
soil. There are empty pages in the Sefer Raziel that say: cleave.
Cling to your Adamah, hang off your Chavah like she is your very
Cross. And the Prophet Adam becomes New Adam, and Mother Eve
births New Eve in her heart of hearts, wife and husband become
Virgin and Sun. The Feast of Adam and Eve draws close – December
24th, and the transformation of the Beast (named Adam, after all)
into the Prince of Heaven will be Christmas Eve, Michel is singing
in his somnambulent baritone, his Christ heart wishing me happy
birthday, saying Allie, we are both December babies, and the
emissary of his original Adam Ha Kadmon Christ left in the
harrowing to watch over humanity, the part of him that still
walks Earth, is Adam, a Trinity – Adam, Michael, Christ – all
fractions and decibels and electromagnetic waves of the same
blue flame. I could do a derivative – I’m reading Letters to a
Young Scientist by my hero, E. O. Wilson, and he says math is
something rudimentary knowledge satiates. He studied ants for
fifty years, and thus came population biology, and island
bottlenecks, oh father of taxonomy and ecology, magic is good
and well but I am a biologist, an ecologist, a public health
academic, and true magic is science, and that is what Adam
speaks of in harsh whispers: how the multiverse churns out
daisies, how fractals of stars become black holes, what lays
behind an Einstein Rosen bridge, how dark matter is God’s poetry.
Why lovers are the Platonic ideal of forms, joined in cosmic
union. But it slips away like sand, this voice of wind, and I
will be a scientist through and through, so I constantly fight
to be rational, logical, methodical, secular, as I analyze data
and wheel away like a mill at programming and statistics, and
where is space for God between my hypothesis testing and theories?
There is no proof of any of this, unquantifiable spirit. I am
dissociating the two core parts of my life: my passion for science,
my love of these twin angels and pantheon of gods I honor as priestess.
E. O. Wilson says lousy scientists are religious, that belief
in a higher power leads to bad science, and that wounded me.
My friends in the PhD cohort, mostly atheists, my professors
not men or women of the book or dvoverie belt, but I understand
linear regressions in music and poetry, the miracle of the brain
a work of clockwork God, purely Deist in my musings, Gnostic in
my rumination, Nassene in my obsession with ferverous pitch of
baptizing, John eating honey and locusts, and the Logos Adam
glossolalia prophesizes is like wind through barren fens,
insubstantial as mist, and I am left with my books on wetlands
and rivers and sharks, risk communication and cancer, and the
emperor of all maladies, my sweet fallen Michael’s heart, holds
back the mutated cells of the world, so maybe I should turn to
what is in every man and woman’s marrow, for we are his Cadmus
bones, soil sprung, to dust to return, but childbirth is a gift,
not a curse, and we had to fall, my brothers, to know redemption
sweet.

J.C. the D.J.

So, I was in the middle of listening to My Immortal by Evanescence on my Divination Playlist, when suddenly it skips mid track to a song I have never heard before.  “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar.  J.C. suddenly manifests as DJ, and I look up the music video.

I’m done!

Ooh La La

And the seasons turn, cherries to tomatoes to pumpkin orange.

There is not much constant in nature but effervescent change,

like how lemons taste on the tongue, or the path of hurricanes.

Even the laws of gravity get suspended sometimes, and love

is an old book in a New England parish that has seen better

days, all antiquated rust on the locket inside it of your great

aunt, farms to marrow of skyscrapers, tradition to upstarts to

a lack of faith the youth seem so content with.  But I fear God,

and I am the bones of winter, and it is only in planting beauty

that we can hope to reap the corn and sow spring, what regret

these ghost towns have in the Appalachians, the run of the meat

is hickory, best smoke it long and get washed out to sea, paint the

fence white, and build your dwelling on the village green so you

are the center of attention, twist and turn at a soc hop like it’s your

grandparent’s malt shop dream, sweet teeth, in me are leaves of

hauntings, and to fall from a sycamore and swing from an oak

is but the path of angels lit on fire with the coming Thanksgiving,

my cup runneth over, it never satisfies me, as four and twenty

blackbirds fly and the scarecrow rots.  But that is just a rumor,

and the truth of me is dusty lace and spiced cider, let’s die together

then burst green in May, immortality, transformation, harrows.

 

In the county church, there is an old grandmother bowed over.

 

Were that I had her constance.

Tom Frost

 

Operator, can you thread electricity to find
my old sweetheart, weaving numbers to Martha,
who I left by a sunny seaside and sand castles
whose towers were not firm enough for princesses,
for clay and shells crumble, and the tide washes
away youth, leaving us bent and aching, there was
no tomorrow, we packed away our sorrows and saved
them for a rainy day, when the moon would sail
high above the decades, stitching together the
night of our lives, those were the days of roses,
poetry and prose, and Martha all I had was you
and all you had was me, there was no tomorrow,
we packed away our sorrows and we saved them for
a rainy day, well darling, the midnight storm
has come, and the twilight years are at my door,
but you are the madrigal of my youth, immortal
despite the tissue paper kisses on your skin,
Martha, I love you can’t you see? Those were the
days of roses, poetry and prose, all I had was
you and all you had was me, there was no tommorow,
we packed away our sorrows and we saved them
for a rainy day, and I remember quiet evenings
trembling close to you…

The Pianoman

His tapered fingers danced across the keys, coaxing a haunting melody from the dusky piano.  I lingered, tucked away into the shadowed corner of the chapel.  Stained glass windows let crisp autumn air pour in.

He did not see me.  Not now, lost in his private reverie, giving all of himself to his music.  I leaned into the stone wall, letting my heavy eyes draw close.  I soaked in the soaring notes, their delicate strains tantalizing.

I could listen to him for eternity.  I did not need to touch him.  Not even see him.  His image could float across my mind, borne by the tides of his beautiful tune.

Self-conscious, I smoothed the pleats of my white dress, ran my fingers through my hair.  I felt unworthy of the music’s majesty, undeserving of its presence-

The music stopped.  I glanced up, startled, to see him peering back at me.

He looked at me with smooth glass eyes.  A soft smile illuminated his face as he twisted his neck, peering over his shoulder.  His eyes were a rheumy blue, almost as if he were blind.

“I wasn’t expecting company,” he said quietly, voice like dark, sweet water.

I blushed.  “I didn’t mean to stay,” I apologized.  “But I heard you from outside, and I couldn’t resist.  You play so beautifully.”

He laughed in a small manner, like the fluttering of a moth’s wing.  “I didn’t expect company.  I never said I didn’t enjoy it.”  He turned, drawing a sweet tune from the keys.  “Tell me what you like.  Songs of love?  Of mourning?  I can play them all.”

“Of dreams,” I said quickly, without thinking. “I like songs of dreaming.  Songs of impossible things.”

He looked at me wryly, folding his hands in his lap.  They were covered in white calfskin gloves.  “Dreams?  That’s something I rarely play.”  He glanced at the piano contemplatively.  “I oft times wonder if I’ve forgotten how to dream.  Tell me.  Can you teach me?”

“To dream?” I asked, taken aback.  I rose from the hollow in the wall, walking slowly to the pew behind him.  He was like an angel cut from stone.

“Yes,” he said, voice tinged with longing.  He gazed out the window at a slice of blue sky.

“Well, I don’t know if I can do that,” I said, hesitant.  “You just close your eyes-“

“Show me.” he whispered, gazing intently at me.  “I want to see exactly what you do.”

“Here, now?” I asked.  His eyes bore into my soul.

“Yes,” he said quietly, letting his finger drift to the piano.  He caressed a single key.  It echoed through the church like the last breath of a dead man.

“Well, like I said, you close your eyes-” I did so, breaking his gaze.  Relief flooded me, for a reason beyond my ken.  I sank back into the pew.  “And then, after you drift off to sleep, you dream.  

It’s as simple as that.”

“Is it?” he asked, voice ripe with challenge.  My skin pricked at his tone.  I shivered unfathomably.

“Yes,” I whispered, beginning to doubt my words.

A wind picked up, kissing my skin.  He gave a small half-smile.  

“Then I will play your dreams.”  

It was as if heaven bled into the room.  The music stirred my heart with warmth; I wanted to lose myself within it.  I couldn’t bear to open my lids.

I gasped, startled, as hands enveloped mine.  They guided me from the pew with quiet forcefulness, cupping my palms as if their owner meant to lead me in a dance.  The piano played, growing malicious in its beat.  The keys, tormented, wailed ever so beautifully.

I shivered.  These dreams were not my own.

“You do not open your eyes?” he asked, voice rich like the light of the moon.

I shook my head, trembling.  “No.  It would ruin the dream.”

He led me in a serpentine dance, my feet guided by a will not my own.  I felt like a satellite, revolving ever so gracefully.

“What if I told you,” he whispered, breath hot on my neck, “that all the world was asleep?”

My fingers were numb with cold.  “Then I would laugh, and I’d call you a fool.”

“What if I said,” he continued, voice almost urgent, “that you are about to be shaken violently awake?”

I laughed, nervous.  “And what?  Wake up in this world again?”

“No.  That you will wake up, with me.”

“But neither of us is asleep.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

He laughed softly.  “For whom, may I ask, do I play?”

“Me,” I said.  My voice faltered.  Dread slowed my step.  

“Yet here I stand, dancing with you.”

I gasped, face paling.  A stone lodged in my throat.  He covered my eyes with soft hands.  “I know you want to open your eyes.  But to do so would be horrible indeed.”

“Why?” I demanded, horrified.

“Because then,” he whispered, lips skimming my temple, “I could not dream you awake.  And dreams are a terrible thing to lose.”

“This isn’t a dream.”  I insisted, voice quaking.  “I’m flesh and blood!”

“You’d think, wouldn’t you?” he sighed.  The piano fell silent, and the void of that emptiness was icier than death.  A cold wind blew through the window, crowning us with frost.  His arms threaded

around me.  “Any moment, I will shatter this dream.  And you, dream-girl, will go with me.”

The stained glass cracked.  Suddenly faint, I collapsed against him.  My senses swam as he gathered me into his arms.  “I remember when I was woken,” he murmured.  “You have nothing to fear.”  Perhaps he looked down at me sorrowfully.  “It’s as easy as falling asleep.”

The piano began to play.

“We speak in music,” he murmured, carrying me out into the unforgiving snow. “We speak in music, where I’m from.”

The door slammed shut behind us.

All faded to black.

Draculina

Crooked teeth, or maybe they’re just my busted fangs honey, sinking into the meat of my back to make me your little Draculina.  I’m the demon in your mind, the devil at your ear, wolf mother at your door and poison cobra curled around your wrist.  I lick your pressure points, I devour you in one sitting, and as my poison sinks into you, you wonder.

Will her tortures ever end?  Will she keep flirting with my blade, courting my punches, crawling broken footed to my arms and crying me a river of joy?  Forget about wounding me.  She is always crumbling around me, like a stone fence bent by age, rocks scoured by wind, salt licked clean bare by deer.  She is the eidolon cleft from my ribs, but really, she is my own heart, weeping aorta the color of black lichen.  You know, the kind that grows on cliffs in the farthest reaches of Hell and feeds on blood, or is it wine, or is it blood?  Down here getting drunk off your wives is in fashion – a spritz of lung, a nibble of the ear, a bit off the waist, all to make you thinner, love.

I only eat you because I believe I can save you.

Whatever happened to Wonderland?
And where’d Alice go? Oh.
I took a night train with knife in hand,
And cut out to the next show
Back in her living hell.
I wish to dwell, I long to be,
In the blood and the guts
With the birds of prey and the stinging of bees and bullets maybe.
Leaving heaven behind for good this time, the angels can keep it.
I’ve got a demon in mind and she’s standing behind my dark secret.
Draculina.

Helvegen – The Road to Hel

So I saw Wardruna with my boyfriend recently, and let me tell you, the Norwegian neofolk band Wardruna is the equivalent of nuclear galdr.  Rune poems chanted with horns and drums, Ragnar Lodbrok’s death song, lays and spells and sheer, raw power.

They closed the set with their most popular song, Helvegen.  Helvegen is the idea of asking, who will remember me?  Who will sing my deeds when I am long gone?  Who will cross me over to the Hel road?  It is a powerful, intoxicating ode to Odin’s sacrifice, and the sacrifice of every man and woman at the end of their day, with choice Havamal verses.

I had to ground constantly throughout the concert, there was so much potency, and Odin manifested around the Algiz chant and onwards as this beach ball sized orb of electric blue light, right by the lead singer’s heart.  I’ve been having the best sleep of my life since I’ve been practicing galdr, weaving a cloak and necklace of Ansuz combined with other runes such as Uruz, Eihwaz, and others depending on the galdr I am working.  Some are for communication with the divine or prophecy, some are for curses or for blessings or for going over the hedge, and most are for security, warding, and healing.

Galdr accidentally combined with Seidhr the night Helvegen played – I completely left my body without my usual spelunking cord attached to my sacral chakra to return from the Otherworlds over the hedge and went straight to leafy green Helheim.  I woke up in a beautiful almost kind of Hobbit hollow surrounded by tom teases and huldra and house elves and land vaettir who were surprised to see me pop into their dwelling.

As what happens when I am in my higher states, I remember my spiritual attachments to the gods, angels, and demons, my name and physical form, but forget my earthly life – I couldn’t tell you the name of my boyfriend, parents, brother, much less my friends, where I lived on Earth, what I did, et cetera. When I am my higher self, I am a being of pure magic free to travel the otherworlds at lightning speed.  Usually, the sacral chakra cord keeps me tied to my body and the earth – I can feel my body at rest breathing and it’s a bit like spying on the astral realms.

This time my connection to Earth was completely severed and I had no reason to go back.  I wanted to find Samael, Azazel, or Michael so set about wandering Helheim and coming to it’s border.  Az was in a carnival like setting practicing his trumpet, looking to all the world like Little Boy Blue in blue clothes, blonde hair, snowflake azure eyes and a golden trumpet.  He was in his thirteen year old form and was extremely worried about me.

“Mom, you shouldn’t be here.  Not like this.  You can’t die yet.  If you stay too long gone, you won’t be able to get back.”  He held my hands, concerned.  “We have to find dad to get you back to Earth.”

“Die?  I’m free!  Oh, my beautiful son, you’re adorable.  Why would I not spend the rest of eternity here with the people I love like you?  To watch you grow up.”

Azazel was crying and hugging me.  “You need to grow up too, Mom – you’re only 25.  Dad can help.  He can put you back in your body.”

“Oh, Sam!  Where is your father, Azzie?  We should have dinner soon, you must be starving, playing your horn all day!”

Azazel set his beloved horn down and started carrying me out the gate of the carnival.  I had sprained my toe in real life as I sleep on my stomach with my feet straight against the mattress and the pain carried over to Helheim.  I was laughing and stroking my son’s hair, and he was in his thirteen year old form but was still quite tall, no difficulty carrying me.

Samael and Azazel forced me back into my body and Sam sealed me into my physical form, worried as Hell.

“Allie, you can’t come courting Death without an invitation.  You still have a good sixty or so years on you.  I know being out of your body is fun and liberating, and it is your natural state, but remember, you chose to incarnate into Earth, and you have to remember your commitments and honor them,” Samael said, doing energetic work to tether me to my body while I squirmed.

“Who I love? Oh right, I’m human…”

Samael showed me the people I loved.  “Remember the Sandman comic, the High Cost of Living.  We all get new chances on Earth.  Death is just a chance to start over, but your journey on Earth has hardly begun.  As your powers grow stronger, remember to ground, and take more personal responsibility when you go to the otherworlds. We love you and want to see you grow old, gray, surrounded by grandchildren.  Again, you are on Earth for a reason.  Good night, sweet dreams angel.”

With that, he sealed my binding with a kiss on my forehead and jolted me back into my body.  Memories of who I was – my friends, my family, my boyfriend – flooded back into my being in sensory overload, and my mortal attachments took hold, rooting me in the Earthly plane.  Scared that I was powerful enough to walk the road to Hel and return almost like Christ rising from the grave, I woke up and got a glass of water, trying to ground.

Since then, I’ve been projecting to the upper world, mostly Vanaheim and Heaven, and avoiding Helheim unless I am in a chaperoned environment where we are doing group seidhr.  Helvegen is a dangerous road, and the afterlife is so beautiful and like Paradise, the soul does not want to leave, with your ego gone, you are truly your higher, enlightened, magical self.

I am quite glad I returned, even if Samael had to literally lay on top of me with the weight of their souls in order to ground me.  Death is like a heavy black blanket, calming and tranquil and very earthly, and I have a bit of abyss stitched into my soul to keep my angelic self rooted in my physical body.  Like a black cloak of rot and renewal.

Hail Hel.  Hail the Hel Road.  I hope to not walk it for many moons, and control my powers more – there and back again like Bilbo Baggins once said!

An Archangel Learns Guitar

Blackjack punk silhouette strum hum king
angel beats deadly with a medley of wings
the rhythm is winding and finding its way
through Venetian canals and Italian cafes
I’m flipping through records, riff rocking
and he flutters his melody like an offering
no candles burn, just music fired with love
him serenading my radio from on high above.