~ the river below the river ~
At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?
Mary Oliver, Blackwater Pond
I’ve been thinking about the Waters lately, how grateful I am for their flow, their kissing leaves, drumming on roofs and tarmac to get our attention, caressing the grooves in bark, running down trunks, into gullies, a million drops uniting to flow down deep into the loamy earth, quenching deep roots, carrying all that is nutritious and vital with them to feed underground streams and aquifers, following their original instructions to join the river of life. As we, in the Northern Hemisphere, enter the dark, fallow season, how can we tap into the teachings of the precious waters ~ the river below the river, ‘rio abacho rio’, as Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls it, this subterranean knowing?
“I feel like the earth, astonished at fragrance borne in the air, made pregnant with mystery from a drop of rain.” Rumi
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
“Each [human] has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river. [They arrive] there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayermaking, singing, drumming, active imagination.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“From ‘the river beneath the river, ‘ I learnt to leap and keep going, to catch the verve of shout places, and if escape be needed, to make myself fine as mist. I learnt from rivers, that going to the edges will lead to Plato’s cave, that slots filled with debris often hold the oldest grandfather trouts, and that the middle of the river like the middle of so much in life, is often not the deepest.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes, The Soul is a River, The River is a Soul
“Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face
grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.
In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
the sense of their mysterious encounter.
And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Silent friend of many distances, feel
All images are copyright taken by myself as part of a wild being project except for the one of myself gathering bones by the bog, taken by Chantal Solomon, who I am deeply grateful for… it was a big step for me to embody my journey at the waters’ edge in this way, gathering bones form the wild. I am so grateful as well to all those protrayed in the images for their courageous commitment to their own wild paths, inner tacking, restoring relations to the earth through their gifts. Thank you! I thank also the rains, rivers, marsh, ponds, lakes and seas of the unceeded ancestral territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, where I work, live and play. #waterislife Last of all, how can I forget the poets and storytellers who share their #songlines with us so that we may find our ways home. With deep, humble love and gratitude, I thank Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Mary Oliver, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rumi and others whose words have not yet reached my ears.
with wild love, Belinda White