Statistics, Probability and The Dark Underworld
(stream of consciousness, unedited...with apologies) It is five fifty-eight am....the Earthquake man has just driven away to the airport for a business trip. The elkhound is working on a bone in the light of our beautiful wild-caught christmas tree (still up but not for long I think). One cat has found the chair next to me at the kitchen table. The other is already out hunting - at this hour and at this frosty temperature, he’ll be lucky to ‘catch’ a frozen carcass left on the lawn from yesterday’s carnage. The moon has set, and it's pitch black outside. Not even a hint of dawn. But that will probably change in less than fifteen minutes. Even though I’ve lived to see 17, 235 sunrises this moment will never get relegated to the mundane. I am moved to tears each time I am fortunate enough to witness the sunrise. And, I’ve often got skin in this game of sunrise happening, every day on time, just like it always has, just like it silently promised us it always will, by virtue of its relentless envious unwavering predictability.
I have a relationship with the Dark that is fitting for my overall way of being in this world. Those of you who share intimate space with me know I am a dark female. An Underworld explorer. A shadow lover. I fall in love with people when I’m given the opportunity to see some piece of their shadow. A quiet, “ahhh.....there you are...” whispers in my head, and a release of ancient chemistry signaling “Tribe” washes through me.
(For those of you paying attention to the sunrise, it has been 13 minutes and there is an ever-so-slight-could-miss-it-if-you-had-indoor-lights-on blue glow in the eastern sky)
Of course for everything in unadulterated nature there is a balanced opposite. And for the love relationship I have with shadow I also have a predatory relationship with it. Or rather, it has one with me. I have learned that while 4am is a wild lovership of raw ideas and pure possibility, 2 am is the hell of the world that exists beneath Mordor. Oh it’s true friends! There is a hell beneath Mordor. And it isn’t a place for mortal people to go. But we do go there. I’m sure many of you have been there and bear the scars of your journey and the sense of triumph for having actually returned.
My particular corner of this darkest underworld place holds the deepest unknowns and fears imaginable. I am certain I was chosen by my profession - guiding people through their own underworld to find their soul’s image in order that they may get busy with what they are meant to be doing in this world - and that I come by this profession honestly. Crazy is part of my medicine (if you ask the Earthquake Man and our children, you will get the balance of this story). But to be perfectly clear, as a footnote for those who might be in a similar boat: if 'sane' is what most of the people in my culture are doing, then I would prefer to be seen as 'insane'...please, I'll take that hands-down. Sane or insane, I've been initiated by Crazy - made it down to the bottom and came back with jewels. And, the reality for all of us who have made this journey, is that we come back with a road map to the Dark, necessary for our continued and ever-more-stealth navigation. But the wounded parts of us can steal and use this road map to sabotage us. You get where I’m going here: there is useful Crazy and there is dangerous Crazy. Remember - equal and opposing balance for all things. For me, I know to avoid - if at all possible - 2am, because this is the time portal for my own particular version of unhelpful downright dangerous Crazy. The most bottomless sense of uselessness. Here I exhibit extraordinary skill in remembering the overwhelming amount of immutable data evidencing my wrongness.
(Sunrise update: it has been seventeen minutes and there is that breath of ohhhh-yesssss-this-is-really-going-to-happen-AGAIN!! horizontal orange strip at the foot of the sky).
On my first vision fast I was held by a geological formation that I came to know as 'Great Grandmother Turtle Who Carries The Hearts of The Stone People On Her Back'. On my second night, after the colony of bats living in the eastern wall of the Escalante took off for their night marauding, as I was lamenting into the crowded night sky, "WHO AM I?!?!" Great Grandmother quietly said, "You are Night Mare. Now tell me who you are.." For the next five hours in a galloping ride that whisked me safely through the 2am morass, I learned that Night Mare is She who makes love with the Dark, whose keen peripheral vision sees what is not seen, what lies at the edges and must be given attention, whose broad dark gray back can carry those who cannot make the journey themselves. Until this coronation, I had few conscious weapons to use against the dangerous Crazy that stalked me. If I can remember Night Mare, keep her fed, honored and exercised, I have extraordinary power and facility with the Dark. If not, I am eaten by it. In the absence of Night Mare there is nightmare.
(Six forty-four and the entire eastern sky wears a cloak of turquoise, whose hem is deep crimson)
I have a sense, by now, that if I make it from 2 to 4:30 and I remember to ride with Night Mare, everything will be fine. Well, perhaps not ‘fine’...there will be casualties, but I will come out with a new jewel and I will survive. Like the sunrise, I can use statistics and probability, sheer logic, to assume I will come out the other side and everything will carry on. Still, each night that I am led into this Shadow place, the truth of it is, I do not get to know whether I will survive. That’s the nature of these dismemberments...an essential ingredient to them in fact. We don’t know if we will come out the other side or who we will be if we are fortunate enough to emerge. We might as well not waste our time needing to know. Once it is clear that this is what’s happening, we simply must go. Whether or not we emerge to talk about it.
I cannot tell you for certain that the sun will rise tomorrow. But I can, with absolute knowing, tell you that this morning it is rising, as it did yesterday, but utterly different and new. And I can say with some certainty that the only way we can proceed on this human path, is to assume it will rise again tomorrow, to lay our bets by planting our fields, making our babies and sending out invitations as if it’s true. Until it is not.
(It is six fifty-one. The street lamp outside flickers, in the unavoidable but-still-faint solar signal that the world will see another day.)