From the ancient lore comes a tradition of stepping across doorway thresholds with a deliberate mind. The forefoot advances with unformed anticipation, while the aft briefly lingers with grateful regard. Grace resides in the pause between, a blessing from an unseen source.
Solstice is our planetary threshold, spacious enough for all to freely cross; the southern legions come north––come they must, and go we will. In the intimacies of this grand affair––pole to pole––secrets are sometimes revealed, although usually overlooked for their subtleties. If you were otherwise engaged to notice our recent global passage––sun to sun––take heedful comfort in knowing that a solstice resides in the center of every breath. The lore instructs the attentive further, with an injunction to keep the door-stoop and threshold clear––a practice which speaks for itself.
On the archer’s range we deal with innumerable thresholds, one of the more apparent occurs at anchor-point, where/when a well drawn arrow reaches the nexus of tension between effort and surrender, time’s threshold otherwise called the present moment. If the archer eludes the hazard of hesitation and the temptation of haste, the “still” arrow ripens into a shot that falls from a bow like an apple from a tree.
We’ve been several years sharing archery inspired by Old-World traditions, but have remained keenly aware of a deeper lore embedded in the ground beneath our feet. A beloved teacher once remarked that memory is retained in the crystalline structure of a place; I often walk the land meditating on the meaning of these words. I’ll listen for it in the overhead flight of Sandhill Cranes plying their great wings south; I’ll listen for it in the deep-throated call of a Great-horned Owl urging courtship to open the winter door to posterity; I’ll watch for it in the northern swing of shadows bearing the intensity of December’s waning sun, and celebrate it when a new archer finds the rhythm of a free arrow sailing to his mark.
Sometimes a mark is not what we intend, and so it was that while searching for a wayward arrow, another came to hand. In the sandy bed beneath a clear riffle of Barrett’s Spring, which enters at the northern border of the Shire, an arrow point crafted of dark stone seemed placed for finding. Although 800-years or more may span between this point and those we use––often lose––in the moment held a legacy is bridged, point to point.
Note an affinity of color and weight.
Cast by an ancient archer, this crystalline legacy hits the mark; a tactile reminder, leaving me humbled and honored. Hafted to a new shaft cut from the native-cane bed along Noketchee Creek, and buoyed with the curve of fletchings dropped from the wings of ambling gobblers, this arrow is ready for flight. On the other hand, my manufactured point, left in the same spring, would be useless in under a year.
The oaks are shedding visionary poems again; this one has an ambitious project.
Posted in Archery
Tagged Future, Seed
In our August days, the afternoon Cicada buzz––the sound of southern heat––fades into twilight enchantments of the Katydid rattle. Rattles rattling through late summer nights cooling, then break into the wake of the silence––the dew-heavy webs strewn across meadow’s morning explain everything. You ought to see the spiraling arrow scatter these otherworldly pearls of dawn. And speaking of pearls, the Moon, as you know, swells toward another crisis, ahead of its fateful encounter with the sun.
A new student recently brought us a fine expression of traditional East African archery; it’s a bow crafted by a man of the Hadza people. The elegance of its effective simplicity, along with the deep cultural traditions which these people carry, favor a view that the Hadza bow bears a ‘source design.’ If so, it’s not off-mark to call it a Mother Bow. Such regard the bow inspires, that I carried it the other day on a walk around the Shire, introducing places of significance here. It’s clear that the bow is made for travel, and certainly expresses a lifeway shaped by the simple freedom of movement which can be difficult for the “modern westerner” to appreciate, restricted as we are by our mechanical modes and narrow (safe?) channels of travel. To us the craftsman remains nameless, but the bow traveled a long distance in reaching our hands from his own; it’s a blessing on this place in accepting the grip. Tonight I’ll carry it beneath a Winter starfield, confident that Orion––that old hunter––will be duly impressed.
In the lore of America’s First Nations is the story of Earth Diver, a mythic precursor of our local Crayfish. Narrations tell of an age when the need arose for new land to appear above the primeval sea, but where such treasure could be procured was lost to the deliberating assembly. Crayfish raised the hopes of the clueless, speaking of a place where such mass could be found; reaching it, however, required the special talent of divers such as himself. The assembly consented to the project and Crayfish descended beneath the trembling surface of the sea. For long days he was missed, and as patience gave way to despair, a color change in the water heralded his return. Lifting heavy claws above the water’s surface, Earth Diver brought forth the mass for new land; he did so by gathering and then piling clay from the deep-sea bed into a great mound which finally rose above the water’s surface. His service rendered, twas left to other mythic engineers to make the earth suitable for the beings & events to come. Today, Earth Diver’s Crayfish progeny demonstrate the talent of their illustrious Ancestor in the closing moon of winter, reminding us of all that’s gone before to make possible all that is still to come.
Leaning into Winter’s gate, night overcomes our day. The intimacies of light which we huddle around, can burn in three degrees, but in crossing the threshold we turn inside out and lift the Capricorn sun back home to our zenith. Before you go, dear traveler, turn North, and in the luminous night use winter eyes to glimpse the supernal light emanating from the dark gate of your empty mirror… Winter’s midnight sun is all yours.
Note to Hermes:
“Seize hold of the cable of
The ray of light and
Rise to the battlements of
Tended by a devotional heart
Your tender-strong hands
Wrestle beauty from
The blistered earth
A Joseph lifted from
The deep well of knowing
Set dancing as leaf and petal
Pollen-drift and broken stone
Hear the spectral banners snap
In the wind
Merciful green to the gold ‘n red
Your fierce eye keen
To the indivisible moment
Generous hands provoke
Fragrance and fruit
But in the deep harvest
At your alchemical touch
And our quicksilver is found.
Leaving shoes behind, dervish-like
You step through the hidden gate
Of your garden
Into the secret one, nearer still
Where everything is
And everyone will be…
Hear the tattered banners snap
In the autumn wind
Hear the birdsong you alone
You will entirely know yourself
As lover and beloved.
While losses to our orbits of family and friends seem to shrink our world of known relations, sometimes it opens us to the creative universe of the unknown. Our town bears the recent loss of a beloved friend, a son of Hermes, who nurtured a heart-full practice of and regard for the arts, and especially for those who bore them in trouble and in joy. Although he never let arrows fly across our range, he intended to do so, and his sincerity in this regard left it simply to be a matter of good timing. Along with others, I share a notion that he’s not done with us yet; that this sudden departure allows him to work and love in a more comprehensive orbit. Godspeed and thanks for the rain, dear friend; we’ll let an arrow fly here for you.
Twilight fell into night and a full moon rose with an amber-red glow, like firelight from a wood stove. Our mountains are burning ‘neath a sky that’s forgotten how to rain. A spring-killing drought leaves a deadly thirst among the highland natives. At the Shire, our smoke-reddened eyes and nasal stings are brought by ashen winds from the Cohutta Mountains northwest of us. We all know what it means, and all the more so, when we lack for words. Midnight, and high in the sky vault, an indifferent moon glows cold ‘n white; its fullness, a cruel parody of our emptiness.
In the Archer’s Lore rainmakers would cast a skyward arrow to breech the high-hidden river, reluctant to share its life-giving wealth. The art may be lost on our modern frame of mind, but we’ll craft suitable arrows just in case, and pray for rain.