Seasonal Salon

Variations in Season

Thanks to jet travel, I go from jasmine and irises blooming in the back yard, and the plum blossoms just waning out front, to ice and snow in frigid New England. It’s March, Women’s History Month, and so I’m on the road again with slideshows. The Connecticut River is frozen over and the trees lining it are bare, but the geese are already winging their way back toward Canada. They heard Brigid’s call at Imbolc, and now Kokomthena, the Shawnee Creatrix, beckons them toward the vernal pools of melting snow.

The lunar eclipse of March 3 came with predicted intensity, with Sun conjunct Urania (wake up all Susies) and just days after the second pass of Saturna opposing Neptuna. Rumblings of structural shifts are growing, accompanied by waves of scandal, one of Neptuna’s signatures.

I picked up a paper headlining Libby’s conviction in the Plame-Wilson leak case, which contained an even more explosive story about the shabby treatment meted out to soldiers injured in Iraq. “Support our troops” has finally been exposed in the mass-market media as a hollow slogan draped over gaping wounds while families strain to the breaking point. Soldiers’ relatives have had to turn into activists campaigning for rehab treatment, for continued medical coverage, for basic necessities. The Army hospital scandal now spreads out into coverage of the warmakers’ failure to provide armor for soldiers and vehicles, and sending recruits out after greatly-shortened training. The deaths of a million Iraqis since the first Gulf bombings in the early 90s hasn’t make an impression on most US people, and world opposition just made many of them dig in their heels, but now at long last, the worm is turning.

A big shift is in the wind, and more is coming, fast. The next eclipse comes just before the spring equinox, this time a new moon covering the sun with Plutonia in the mix, still in her alignment with the galactic center. And there’s one last pass to go with Saturna-Neptuna, this summer. (The first rules oil, by the way, and the second banks and institutions.) Old structures are crumbling, and a lot of this has been hidden, so that collapses appear to be sudden but are really precipitated by a long process, like a roof giving way after termites have eaten out the beams over decades. Sounds like the economy. Dollar devaluation, loss of productive capacity. Health issues. And weather changes.

In the vacuum created by such huge shifts, history shows that people can behave in panicked ways, scrambling for security or a new illusion of security. But there is the potential for inspired action and realignments across dissolved borderlines, the visionary side of Neptuna, and the constructive side of Saturna. Even the scandals have a positive role, exposing official malfeasance and corruption to the light of day. Our challenge is to hold steady, focused and attuned, with strong hearts and expansive vision. The tides are running with those who are ready for change. They are pulling us to transform ourselves.

I’m flying home over the dun plains of Oklahoma, that was to be Indian Country for as long as the grass shall grow and the rivers run. Some of it still is. But the Nations have been scattered. My town of Oakland is Indian Country too, with peoples from all corners of Turtle Island. The Inter-Tribal Friendship House here is celebrating its 50th anniversary—or would be, except that the bank is threatening to foreclose on them unless they come up with $30,000 in back taxes right away.

The folks at InterTribal Friendship House do important work at this oldest urban American Indian center. It began as a support for Indian people displaced by the US “relocation” policy that threw them off the reservations. Among these displaced people was the young Wilma Mankiller, who later became Principal Chief of the Cherokee. "The Intertribal Friendship House is more than an organization. It is the heart of a vibrant tribal community.” This is a good chance for the rest of us to contribute to the rightful holders of American land. You can send donations to IFH, 523 East 14th Street, Oakland CA 94606, or contact Morning Star Gali .

I feel fortunate to be able to fly, for the opportunity to gaze upon the landscape from a mile up. The majesty of Eorthan Mother washes away tension and false consciousness, feeding the heart with truth. She writes geography with gestures in time, through her own great movement as the rolling lava, and then over ages, in innumerable variations worked by water falling and running, pulling and dissolving. And by the winds, cold and heat, animals and plants.

From this altitude you can see how meandering waters carved the contorted paths of canyons. Long mesas shed skirts of crumpled and eroded lava that reaches to the flatland below, a wide desert. I look to see if one of the mesas is maybe Shongopovi or Oraibi, or another of the ancient Hopi towns. May they be untroubled by jet route flyovers and all other intrusions, some day soon.

We’re passing over the Painted Desert. Red ochre, the blood of Earth, is secreted from rock at the edge of the plateau masses. The blessed substance causes the mesa sides to glow incandescent red-orange in the late sun. Further west, the mineral excrescences turn golden, flowing in stripes along the stone cliffs, in some places running for miles in long flat palisades. A deep rusty powder has collected in the soil of the floodplain. In places it is inexplicably dusted across the entire surface of badlands.

Gradually, the big mesas have changed to knotty concentric shapes, splayed like tarantulas on the desert floor. Looking across the distance, you can see rock formations sailing into the bending rays like a rock fleet. Here and there, long jagged strands of earth-bone jut up from the ground like inversed wheel-tracks over many miles. We sail over the huge crater of a meteor, lined by water and gravity. Suddenly, ugly man-made cuts invade the wild landscape as a strip mine appears, with its descending tiers and toxic-looking holding pond.

Rippled aprons of soil descend gradually from a range that looks utterly bare from afar, but on closer inspection reveals a salting of sage or scrubby piñon. The rhythmic waves of warm rock are set off by smoke-blue shadows. How amazing to see this in the same day as I left Massachusetts, pooled in snowmelt.

The shadows are lengthening, and I think this must be the Mohave, with vast washes of grayish sand engulfing half-buried mountains. Somewhere out here is the standing rock of Actionless All-Powerful Old Woman, sung in creation stories of the Mohave and Chemehuevi and Yuma. She is Hawichyepam Maapuch, whose powers caused the waters covering the world to disappear so that Puma and Coyote could descend from a sacred peak to populate the world. Later she settled into the land as stone. Probably the Old Woman Mountains of southeast California are named for her.

Toward sunset, we approach the Pacific. Banks of moisture reach through the scrub-forested ranges in long banks, settling in the hollows. Rippled hills rise out of the mist like a Chinese painting. But the mist quickly reveals itself as smog, which veils the last hills uncarved by development. Then the megapolitan sprawl of Los Angeles commences: one more plane to catch.

The pink plum blossoms will be fallen by the time I return home, but I’m hoping that our white plum will be coming into fullness, so I can savor the renewal of spring a second time this year.

Category: Spring Equinox 2007