Spring so far, for me, has had more deathly themes in it than I was expecting. Maybe I am just waking up more and more to the entwinement of life and death, like when you look hard at one of them it starts to morph into the other.
I moved back to Pennsylvania in March, been dwelling right along the Lower Susquehanna. The river, rocky islands, and rich woodlands held me in quite a lot of grieving those first couple weeks. I've been blessed to meet Lyrra Magda, who is teaching a plant class on the land here. She has initiated me into learning, slowly, the dismemberment arts, starting with local roadkill deer. Spring's here and I'm skinning an animal for the first time in my life. Those first few hot, hot days, and I'm fleshing and graining, laboring to honor this animal's life and death by engaging in the utter alchemy of hide tanning. There's a designated carcass spot in the yard. The vultures love us. So, this is spring I guess.
Left to right: Fleshing the Hide; A View of the Luminescent Backstrap Sinew (will be turned into thread); Folded up Frozen Hide Thawing
It's not all roadkill membranes, though. We've also had your standard spring wooing experience here, so full of magic and miracle. Take, for example, this pair of mating Luna Moths. Another first in my lifetime to behold. Shortly after the female emerged from her cocoon, a male showed up. They were bonded abdomen-to-abdomen for nearly 24 hours before disappearing. She'll lay about 200 eggs. And they will both die very, very soon, if they haven't already. In those 24 hours we kept good vigil. Jazmyn and I baked a Sassafras-flower and Redbud Bundt cake to celebrate, and we had a tea party for the mystical lovers.
In the next few days, I also said goodbye to my grandfather Walt Moyer. I guess this was in keeping with the pattern of sorts, loss and death in such tight proximity to beauty and birth. I feel blessed to have been right where I am in time and space, present to witness the moths, and present to be with my grandpa in his last day in human form. I don't know if either of them were aware of my gaze. Perhaps the songs that were sung did echo somehow through layers of altered states of consciousness.
It has indeed been a season of Spring Ephemerals.
Take a guess, what is this?
It's the inside of a dead and dried Pokeweed stalk.
Lyrra had taken us to a patch to see the towering and toppled grey stalks, teaching the importance of identifying the dead stuff you see, so you can know what to expect when it's growing season again (especially if you're wanting to eat wild foods). There were also tiny little shoots coming up, perennially embodying the theme of life-death-life. I was obsessively intrigued with the unique form of this pith in the stalk, with discrete chambers. I pulled out and separated the rings you see to get a better look at the papery membranes separating the chambers within the spongy tube material. The form struck me as snake-skin-like and vertebral, like I could feel my own spine in it. That overlay of plant body, animal body, human body, baby you know that's what I'm in to!
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Stay tuned for a longer article someday on the eco-somatics of the dismemberment arts.
I am excited to be collaborating with Jenny Rivers to co-facilitate this special women's gathering on April 30th, outdoors on the Susquehanna River. You can still register here. I will be offering a guided intuitive movement experience to feel the natural regulation between our human body, earth, creative forces, and this particular season of the year.
Also, save the date for July 30th, in Airville, PA! Annie Wilison and I are planning an outdoor workshop for that day, which will include her leading a Keening practice, and myself leading eco-somatic integration practices afterwards. Keep an ear out for more details.
Probably one of the most important practices you could do, whether budding naturalist or not, is to have a "sit-spot," or a place in your landscape that you go to regularly and frequently, sit in active or meditative awareness, notice the sounds, sensations, take notes in your journal, etc.
I've started to combine this practice with my own inquiries into participatory dynamics of giving/receiving, especially relating to my artistic interests in dance and, more recently, song. If you are also interested in place-based song and dance, here is a 4-day-long invitation to you to join me in this inquiry. Really, you can repeat the days and have it be a much longer exploration.
Day 1: Listening. In your place, focus on listening. Can you invite every single cell of your body to open into a listening state? Introduce yourself to the place, the beings, the spirits, state your intentions if you haven't already, observe your sensations and what you're curious about. Listen some more.
Day 2: Sing/Dancefor. Let your dance or song be a gift for this place or beings you are meeting there. An offering. You create it for them. Notice if you can sense whether any beings seem more interested to receive or witness this gift than others.
Day 3: Sing/Dancewiththe place. Like you are part of the same chorus, taking cues from each other, collaborators, sharing the lead. Or choose one being in particular to have a duet with.
Day 4: Let yourself be moved/be sung BY the place. Let your body be a vessel, that the place itself might dance through you. If you are familiar with Butoh practices, they are especially suited for entering into this particular state of surrender. Wait, and allow yourself to be moved by the qualia, essences, resonance patterns, voices, beings, etc.
Reflect on your experiences with each of these versions. Write me a note if you do this and want to reflect together!
Hepatica's Song. I started by wanting to sing FOR Hepatica, but by the end there was some sense of being "sung through," too. I was making a flower essence and connecting with apparent themes such as wayfinding, timing, and knowing when to open and when to close. Overlaps between old and new. Joy.
I am continuing to see clients online via video chat, and I am now also accepting local clients who are interested and able to travel to Airville, PA for outdoor eco-somatic sessions. More details on my website, or e-mail me with questions!
If you have found my content meaningful or beneficial in some way, please consider financially supporting my work. Until I get something like a Patreon setup, you are welcome to donate via this paypal link. Thank you!