Monday, July 23, 2012

"You will stand in my danger"

"Dangerous" in its oldest form meant "to protect" ... 'You, stand in my danger...certain things on this Earth must be kept from disappearing from this place.'

The Dangerous Old Woman
she is passionate, but also observant
she will protect whoever and whatever is filled with a spark of electricity
she will preserve broken trees that have been damaged in a storm with poultices

-Clarissa Pinkola Estes The Dangerous Old Woman Myths & Stories of the Wise Woman Archetype

I am editing and re-reading work I have done and work that is in a near-finished first draft a place where the story is like pie not yet ready to be baked. Everything, or nearly every thing is there in my mind, in a file, on a blog or on paper; these are my ingredients for a delicious pie. The first draft of Splinters include segments of food and meal making; characters who love the art of recipes and feeding find their way into my stories. One of the works I am editing was written during the early years when I was not sure I would be alive(this blog began as I sorted the events of that time). It was a work that was literally and figuratively fed through my fingers from a soul that would not be silent even as my body and my world was unfamiliar to any I had known. While I listened to Clarissa Pinkola Estes describe her meanings for 'dangerous' I heard her say,"S.S." in reference to a stage in the epic of ones' life when you are 'still standing' in spite of all travail. The work I wrote was a fairy tale written by hand onto lines of a composition book then onto a laptop that has since died after a heroic life of ideas, adventure, homelessness, sickness, oceanic travels and finally a cup of tea spilled onto her keyboard and into her innards. I keep her still, my "Ruby". In a tray under our bed in the Gypsy wagon, she remains a talisman of the reality that we my husband and I are still standing. Back then, in 2008 I was brand new to the world of the blog. While sick and disoriented, Ruby was my cyber-canoe voyaging into the Internet. Before I ramble more than necessary, I must get to the crossing of meanings before I lose it: my email account and therefore my passport to the first of my blogs and the publication of my fairy tale was ssvardoATgmailDOTcom. Though it stands for something different than "still stand" it fits marvelously as well.

Sometimes things we love, creations born of passion and necessity rest/wait for what seems a long time. While I edit both my fairy tale of 2008, and Splinters my mythic fiction nearly complete, I pause to listen to things, take walks in the forest around me, make meals for my family who is bigger by one with my son visiting from France for the summer. My sense of what is valuable and precious expands and is affirmed by my real life and the life that fashions itself with the ingredients of artistic expression and storytelling. When I hear about the old stories from cantadora Clarissa, my ancestors and my dreams become fertile and present and they tell me how to live with the spark of 'danger' that Estes refers to. What is worth preserving becomes clear even while my one ear can hear a fraction of all sound; and I flounder in my reassembling relationships with others.

Vasallisa the Beautiful from the Baba Yaga tales
I hear in the old stories from Estes the description of the ancient and fabulously dangerous crone BabaYaga and am surprised at the details of her ways and laugh with acknowledgment of her chicken-legged house. A house far from normal atop chicken legs to allow her mobility, I understand 'dangerous old woman' in more depth. We live with three black hens who lay the eggs we eat. The eggs are rich, brilliant orange yolked and laid by creatures that will protect what is precious to them with their sharp talons and quick beaks. Those crowing hens are dangerous and if I needed to be protected I would stand with them. When we lived in the last house attached to the ground on a foundation (a solid and 'normal' home by ordinary cultural standards) I found a wooden puppet with hinged joints. It was colorful and dangerous looking. I named her Baba Yaga in what I recognize as an innocent and unknowingly auspicious naming of things yet to come. While we kept Baba Yaga with us she stood behind the door in the "Helpful People" corner of the small cottage. Purposely. That little cottage was in some respects the place from which our world would be turned upside down as health, safety and normal was shaken like the letters in an alphabet soup tossed from its packaging. All previous spellings would be unuseable, ineffective, ill-fitting.

Today, and at this moment, I sit to write at a keyboard in a Quonset Hut built from the frame of a discarded greenhouse. Around that discarded frame my husband has pulled sheets of metal, a window found at a junk yard and a door fitted with glass lets in light. A small hinged door for a black cat is cut into that door so the sleek huntress can come and go as she pleases. A wisely crafted tile floor that can be lifted and moved provides us with the illusion of solidity and packets of shredded denim insulation warm us while we go about writing, washing up dishes and cooking up mugs of tea and tasty meals. The Gypsy wagon, our VardoForTwo is just steps from the Quonset door. The vardo rests on wheels and ferns grow tall around her walls. We Gypsies find new and different meanings to the alphabet soup Baba Yaga has conjured for us. Definitions change as one lives; resting and protection take on meanings deep, broad and essential. What value is worth defending? It changes, and adaptability is a factor. At the core it is wise to know what is in the heart. Surrounding that sure heart I would say learn to wear heartwood hardened during the winter, so your skin can adapt to the seasons that will surely scar.

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