strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

fuck it’s hot June 21, 2007

Filed under: nature,witchiness — andygrrrl @ 11:40 am

but happy Solstice anyway.

In my ideal world, on the summer solstice I’d get up and watch the sunrise, preferably in a field full of wildflowers, on the edge of a forest. The day would be spent in every fun summer activity you can think up–rope swings and swimming holes, climbing trees, playing silly childhood games like freeze tag and hot box, making daisy chains, blowing bubbles. At high noon me and all my witchy friends (because I would have many, a big community of friends and lovers and poker buddies, a chosen family of like-minded pagans) would have a big, fun, crazy ritual culminating in a Spiral Dance and we’d all collapse in a big laughing heap. And then we’d pig out, on watermelon and blueberry cobbler and ice cream (home-made, of course) and lemonade and apple pie and all of our favorite foods. Maybe we’d have a food fight. Then I’d lie in the grass and watch the birds. Find a hammock and a good book of poems. At dusk we’d say good bye to the sun and greet the coming autumn, build a huge bonfire and party all night, drumming and boozing and dancing. The whole day would be like Gay Pride and Mardi Gras and the Fourth of July all rolled up and crossed with a block party.

Someday. As it is, it’s 105 degrees in the shade, here in the desert (oh, but it’s a dry heat!). I have homework to do and errands to run on what amounts to my day off; but it is nice, for once, to not have to work or go to class, like I usually have to do on my sacred holidays. So, if you get a chance, even if you’re not inclined to nature worship yourself, I still think everyone should use the solstice as an excuse to go to the park and have a picnic. If it’s not too hot out.

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the body electric February 12, 2007

Filed under: holistic medicine,nature,poetry,the body electric — andygrrrl @ 2:55 pm

I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?
“I Sing the Body Electric,” Walt Whitman

I think this is going to be the first in a series of rambling, disconnected posts, because I’ve been meaning to write about how my studies in massage therapy and holistic/alternative medicine have altered my thinking and perspective about the body, the sacred, the physical, the mystical, the “natural” and “unnatural.” But it’s such a huge subject–my god, look at that list I just wrote–I don’t know where to start, of course. But I’ll get started anyway. Because I think I’ll figure out what I’m begining to understand intuitively if I write it out.

The program I’m doing here in the Southwest is really a bootcamp, a crash course in Western anatomy and standards and Eastern (and Western alternative) practices: pathology and tai chi, reiki and deep tissue therapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Cranial-Sacral techniques. And by now I’ve been working in the student clinics several months, learning how to be a healer, essentially. It’s a tall order and I know this is only the beginning of my education.

And when I’m not daydreaming in class (hey, you’d have trouble focusing on symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome too, if you’d been working 8 hours already), I’m sitting there thinking, “Wow.” Just a simple “wow,” because I find it hard to articulate beyond that. But holy crap, the human body is an amazingly elegant…..and here’s where I’m lost for words. “Machine” is absolutely the wrong word, and I’ll get to that eventually. “Thing” is too cold and objectifying. “Creation” brings up all these Christian resonances in my head, with their notions of a distant creator god and the sins of the flesh. “Artwork,” I think is the best one I can come up with. The human body is a work of art, with all those meanings of organic symetry and balance; Beautiful with a capital B, so much beyond superfical notions of aestethics. It’s perfectly evolved.

And I’m not talking about some classical ideal here, perfect proportions carved in marble. The 60-something woman sitting across from me is a wonderful example of how the body adjusts to external pressures while maintaining a very precise internal order. That’s what I mean by beautiful: the same beauty that’s illustrated by the mathematic fractals which outline the growth of a tree branch, the Divine Proportion (1.618…) found in both Debussy’s symphonies and the curve of a seashell.

Your body really is electric, incidentally. Connective tissue called fascia spreads throughout every part, even at the cellular level; fascia is made up of collagen fibers that consist of a crystal matrix that generates its own electrical pulse. It even glows under a blacklight. This connects every area of your body to every other area so thoroughly that you can’t affect one part of the body without affecting the whole–which includes your brain and mind.

I’m not sure really where to go from here without sounding too breathless, except that now when I see someone on the street, instead of (well, to be completely honest, usually after) thinking “Wow, that’s a truly hideous shirt. Did they get dressed in the dark?” I’m starting to think “Hm, looks like he has a nasty case of Upper Crossed Syndrome. Bet his back is killing him. And his heart’s wore out from working so hard, since he can’t breathe properly with that posture. I’d hate to see his blood pressure numbers…” I’m trying to learn to see the body not as a thing to be displayed for aesthetic reasons, to see beyond social markers and cultural cues of dress and so on. It’s similar to taking an ecological view of nature, seeing it as having intrinsic worth instead of resources to be exploited. Your body has its own wisdom, it’s more than a rack for displaying your wealth and social status. And it’s kind of appalling how hard it can be to readjust your thinking along those lines. But that’s probably the subject of another post.