All Souls…

“A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missis, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry.”

Soul Cake

Today is the feast day known as All Souls’ Day.

A while back I shared a poem I had written for my grandfather (for all grandfathers, of course, but especially for him).

Today I’d like to share a letter I wrote to a man I never actually met….and never will.

Encouraged by Angi Sullins– the magnificent Muse of Duirwaigh Studios– in her Once Upon a Time online workshop, I wrote this letter to my Benefactor, Douglass S. Parker.

Why would I write a letter to someone I had never met and never will?

I think the letter explains it all.

Dear Doug,

I never got to meet you.

We only “met” in email correspondence, and one dream, though brief and suddenly gone. I meant to visit, for your retirement celebration. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I should have. Because now you are gone. You died. And I didn’t know. I tried to get in touch with you again, to share news, but never heard from you after some time in 2007. So I’d like to try this- writing to you. Thanking you. Learning from and with you. Exploring together worlds others plop down cash or credit card or library card and cast away or return or pass on. But we- you and I and others, I think- we go there. We understand the local language, customs, rituals, and more. I want to expand and delve and share what I’ve learned. From them. From you. From myself. You seemed interested, intrigued, by my enthusiasm. I think I got you excited, too, new angles to approach, new worlds to find. I hope in all of my energetic, “look at this!” messages another message came through. “Thank you!” Thank you for showing me the first map to a world I had visited but didn’t realize I could explore, or even stay a while. A map. A key, unlocking new doors, in learning, in creating. I made so, so many more connections, however brief. I stepped out the door, key in hand, and headed down an unknown path, Bilbo and Frodo and Dorothy and Lyra and you by my side- your footprints in the dust, the dirt, the path, next to mine. You’d already set out, and left a lampost to guide me, to show me the path, There, and Back Again. You left me Lookfar, for the watery route, for finding, alone, my shaddowy self, my gebbeth. You left me a mirror, a couple of Oracles, to question, to pass through the gates, to seek the answers in my soul. To show my self my soul. To show- not tell- me, all I needed, all I need, is my self. To open that door, to return home, to draw my own maps, write my own adventures, and share them. With them. With you. For you. For me.

Thank you, Doug. Thank you.

Much love and gratitude to you, sir.

Love,

>Kerrie

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Rings…

11 Years…

…that’s how long it’s been since a ring was placed on the finger of this dryad, binding her with metal,  her fate sealed with symbols, capturing her in her form with a name…

…but not to be lost in the shapes that were to come, to grow, to branch-out, to evolve…

…ever-more…

The woodcutter needs his trees, the dryad needs her tree, bits are cut away, new seeds are planted, growth and decay must occur…

…both…

…together…

…ever-after…

…to be continued…

********

Today is the eleventh anniversary of the day my husband and I were married- same day, even!- surrounded by willow branches & ferns, by family and friends.  Some have gone, some have been born, some have been lost, some have been found.  New names have been given, new shapes have been slipped into… and old ones left behind.  I still don’t know “who I may some day be.”  We are still together- eleven years married, almost eighteen years since we first met.  A bit worn, a bit tired, a bit bent, and a bit overwhelmed with Life’s Challenges.  But together.

We’ve come this far…

…and there’s still far to go…

In Love and Life, my Deer-Hart…

…I’ll meet you in the Dark Woods…

…let’s count some rings…

********

My dearest love, my gull, my bard,

Today I am declaring to the world my true devotion to you.  As a personal sign of this, I am taking your surname, McNay.  I know that you have felt uneasy about this, about taking away a name that I have had my whole life, a name that others know me by; in a way, my identity thus far.

In some cultures, a person takes many names in his or her life, as a sign that they have left a part of their life behind them, and are moving on to the next part of their life.

In Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife, Maggie Black and Crow, a Trickster spirit from the Rincons of Arizona, have the following discourse:

“Then tell me who you are,” Crow said, “and why you have come to this land of mine.”

“That’s two questions,” Maggie pointed out. 

He ignored this.  “Quick now.  Who are you?”

Maggie shrugged.  “I’m many different people,” she said.  “So I guess I’m a bit of a shape-shifter too.  In West Virginia, I’m Emil Black’s granddaughter.  In L.A., I’m Nigel Vanderlin’s ex-wife; in London, I’m Tatiana Ludvik’s crazy friend.  I’m a vagabond writer to my friends in Holland; a sweet summer affair to a sculptor in Florence; a hopeless klutz to every gym teacher I’ve ever had-do you want me to go on?”

“Those are just the shapes.  What’s underneath?  The essence, that doesn’t change from shape to shape.  That’s what a shape-shifter has to know or you lose yourself.  You can’t get back.  You’re trapped in one shape, and you can’t get out.”

She frowned, thinking about this.

“What are you at the core, Black Maggie?”  He smiled viciously.  “I don’t believe you know.”

To many of the people in this room, and to others who could not be here today, I too am many different people, with many different names:  I was Chicken to my grandfather, Leo; Kerrie-Anna-Banana and Kerrie-the-Strawberry to my aunts Joan and Jane, respectively; Marie to the Roman Catholic Church; Diana to my Anne-girl, Sheila; Angel, Doc, and KC to my family from Wheelock; Perrina to the virtual world; Fairy-girl to the musical spirits of Arizona; and kerriefairy and Princess Kerrie to you, my Deer Hart, my Little Prince.  I am all of these people, and none of them.  I am myself, though, not a name or a title.

When I went to Arizona last year, I did not yet know the steps to the dance I was to perform.  I found my dance on the paths of Thumb Butte, alone with Nature and Time to guide my arms and feet.  When I met you, I did not yet know who I was, or what role I was to perform in your life.  Since then, I have found my words, I have found my self, I have found my role.  I was a bit afraid of becoming “wife” and how that word, the simple change of my name, would affect my life.   I am still curious, though no longer afraid.

I may know who I am, but not who I may some day be.  But I know that with you by my side, we may discover these, and many other things, together.  May that journey last forever and a day, longer if possible.

 

 

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May 31, 2003 – May 31, 2014

 

“You are dancing for us…”

Rustling what remains of their skirts, veils,
Juniper and pinion/sycamore show me how
to finish my dance.
Raising my arms, the wind molds me
as it does the trees,
Just so.
You are dancing for us, not them.
Follow us, this way.
If you travel down this path,
we’ll show you how you appear to others,
what you really are,
inside,
to us.
Come back tomorrow, once you’ve passed
through (the mirror of) Tonight,
shimmering twilight lifting the veil
for you to pass,
a little of its magic coming to rest upon
your shoulders.
You can never return home,
but you will find it,
changed,
on the other side.

(c) March 2002

Between Earth and Aerie: A Night in the Land of Faerie

I wrote this after my trip to Prescott, Arizona in March 2002.  I had been asked by Kelly Miller-Lopez of the musical group Woodland to dance at the first Faerieworlds Festival.  I don’t know if there is any archive footage of the performance, but I will always remember every detail in my heart.  I can see Thumb Butte where I finished my choreography the day of the performance.  I can hear the laughter of the children of all ages.  I can feel the smooth stage under my bare feet.  I can taste the salt as I perspired in the heat of the day & stage lights at night, trying hard to convey Grace.  I smell the damp earth when I returned to Thumb Butte, to give thanks for the Dance.  Another journey, another time, all part of the path.

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