“When you run out of cheeks to turn,
What then?” I asked,
“What do you do?
Do you rev your motor up
And spin away?
In a huge splash of dirt?”
 
Slough it off, slough it off,
Let the hurt fall away.
You are waterproof.
Forget it ever fell.
 
“How do you know,” I asked.
“How do you know it’s true?”
 
You have pores, my child.
You can close them and open them again at will –
Like a leaf, that’s how it does photosynthesis.
 
Open to the sun and water that which nourishes you:
         Love, Truth, Peace, Harmony, Human Understanding,
         That you may blossom in glory.
Open to pull out the rocks and weeds that hinder you:
         Self-doubt, fear, jealousy, resentment, worry, guilt, and hate,
         That they cannot take root and grow.
Close, shut out daggers that others may sling at you:
          Fear, jealousy, resentment, worry, hate, and shame,  
          That they cannot pierce through your skin.
 
Tiny wasted insect stings, 
They need your prayers, 
Not deflected daggers back.
 
You can never run out of prayers.
Your cheeks can never run out of turns. 

© 2020 Leona Patrick, all rights reserved

Sung on the Trail of Tears, the forced removal from their ancestral lands to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.

Written phonetically according to our alphabet:

Ga Doh Dah Chiya, Dah Nay Lee, Chee Sa
Oh Gah Chay Lee Sah Gah Way U Hee
Oh Gah Lee Gah Lee, Nah Nah Quoo Yay No
Choh Gee Lah Wee, Stah Nay Dee Wee
Oh Gah Chay Lee Gah
Chah Gay Way U Hee
Chah Chay Lee Gah No
Oh Gah Chay Lee Gah

http://thechampionnewspaper.com/news/local/disturbing-images-depict-horror-of-trail-of-tears/

My Turtle Drum

(A conversation I remember from the year before I started college; the image is one of my shaman drums)

“Beulah, Annie, and I spent most of our youth at the Eufaula Indian school. We’d go home over the Christmas holidays and in the summers. Government agents took all the grade-school-aged children from their families and put them in the new boarding schools to learn English and a trade. Training the young to take their place in ‘civilized’ society was another part of the plan to end the old ways.”

“We’re you sad to leave your home?”

“A little at first, but we three liked the adventure and getting to be away from home. Mother put your great Aunt Lena, who was the oldest, in charge of us younger children. We hated how strict she was.

“Eufaula was a female seminary, one of the best of the girls’ boarding schools. Nuns and highly educated teachers came from New England to teach there. Our education was better than what little education the children of the white settlers were getting. The nuns told us to forget our native language and customs and to become good Christians.

“Since we girls already knew some English from our fathers, we did well at our studies. The teachers would praise us. But I felt sorry for the students who didn’t do well. The nuns would beat them and make them sit in the corner of the room with dunce hats.”

“Can you still speak Cherokee?” I asked.

“Oh, no, I’ve forgotten most of the words.”

“What words can you remember?”

“I can still remember the words of a Cherokee song. It’s the one they sang on the Trail of Tears. It’s called ‘One Drop of Blood.’ It goes like this:”

Ga Doh Dah China, Dah Nay Lee, Chee Sa
Oh Gah Chay Lee Sah Gah Way U Hee
Oh Gah Lee Gah Lee, Nah Nah Quoo Yay No
Choh Gee Lah Wee, Star Nay Dee Wee

Oh Gah Chay Lee Gah
Chah Gay Way U Hee
Chah Chay Lee Gah No
Oh Gah Chay Lee Gah

“Wow! That sounded really strange. What does it mean?”

“It means something like this:

Oh what can we offer you, Jesus, our Lord?
You who help us on our way to a far away land.
We can offer our works, our Lord.

Our works are yours. You are our Lord.
Ours, Yours. You are our Lord.
Ours, Yours. You are our Lord.

“I don’t know why it’s called ‘One Drop of Blood.’ Not one word in it is about blood. That’s typical Cherokee. The shamans, that’s the medicine men, receive wisdom from the Great Spirit. Also from the ancestors and the spirits of nature. When they speak the wisdom to the tribe, it’s like riddles, hard to understand. From studying the Bible, I notice Jesus speaks in riddles, too.”

“Why would the Cherokee be singing a song to Jesus on the Trail of Tears? I thought you became Christians in the seminary schools.”

“Actually, we were already Christian. Most of the Cherokee tribal peoples converted to Christianity at least twenty years before the Trail of Tears. To us, God was just another word for our Great Spirit. The main difference was that he had a son, just like a human father. We loved it that his son Jesus cared so much about us that he died for us. Also that we could have a personal relationship with him and pray directly to him without having to wait for a shaman ceremony.”

“Did you have to give up your Cherokee beliefs?”

“Most of our values were the same as what Christianity teaches, so it was no problem keeping them. We forgot some of our old legends and stories, though. At seminary, we knew not to talk about them. The nuns told us what we knew about the healing properties of herbs and plants was just superstition. We knew that wasn’t so; we’d seen them work. But we kept our mouths shut about it. We didn’t want to end up in the corner with a dunce’s cap or worse.”

© Pending publication in 2021 or 2022 in Pageland by Leona Patrick

“Girls, look what I found!” Peter, ten, a year older than me, called from the stair landing.

Page, six, Pam, five, and I looked up from playing dolls in Page and Pam’s room. Our jaws dropped when we saw what he was carrying.

He lowered the little lamb to the floor.

Dolls forgotten, we scrambled over and surrounded it with our “Ohs” and “Ahs.”

“It’s so soft and cute!” Its wool cottony beneath my hands, its round eyes peered shyly up at us.

“And what sweet eyes!” Page said. “Has Mommy seen it?”

“No, I didn’t see her when I came inside.” Peter lifted the lamb back up. “Let’s go find her.”

We clambered after him down the stairs to the kitchen.

Mom, coming in from the mudroom, stopped short when she saw us.

“Mommy!”

“See what Peter found!”

“Isn’t it cute?”

“I’m naming it Lambchops!” Peter announced.

“It’s darling, but children, you can’t keep it. We’ll have to find out who owns it and return it.”

The next day, we could tell by Mom’s somber look that something was wrong.

“I found out who owns Lambchops,” she said. “It’s Mike’s Diner.”

Mike’s was a Greek restaurant on Lee Highway, the main road that Pageland Lane crossed.

“Are they going to eat him?” I asked.

“Yes, I’m afraid so. Mike bought him special for Easter dinner.”

“Oh no, no, no!” We girls wailed.

Peter joined in with a louder “NO!”

“I’ll go to Mike’s and talk to him,” Mom said. Dad was away piloting a flight.

We piled into the station wagon. With two-year-old Sally beside me, I held one-year-old Laurie up front. In the back, Page and Pam sat beside Peter, Lambchops on his lap.

Mom drove the tearful lot of us to Mike’s Diner.

“You stay here while I go in and talk to Mike.” She parked the car.

“Let’s say a prayer.” My eyes followed her approach the diner.

“Humph!” Peter scoffed.

“Dear Lord, please don’t let Mike kill our little Lambchops for Easter dinner. We promise to be good if only you save him. Amen.”

“Amen,” Page and Pam repeated.

Fifteen minutes passed.

“Why is it taking so long?” Peter had just finished asking when the restaurant door opened and Mom walked out.

“Kids, Lambchops is ours!” She got into the car. “Mike sold him to us.”

“Yay!” Mom was our hero. “Mommy, thank you! Thank you!”

“He can’t stay in the house, though. You’ll need to show him to the dogs. If they don’t get along with him, we’ll have to keep him in a pen.”

Bo and Mandy, Dad’s English pointers, were quick to greet us when we parked and got out of the car. When Peter lowered Lambchops in front of them, they stood still and looked for a moment. Then they turned away as if to say, “What stupid creature did these kids drag in now!” their scorn palpable.

“Baa!” Lambchops butted his head against Mandy.

She chased him away, but, undaunted, he came back with another “Baa” and butted Bo.

“G-r-r-r-r!” Bo’s stern growl didn’t faze him.

“Baa!” Lambchops, innocent eyes on Bo, just stood there.

“Come here, Mandy.” Peter patted Lambchops. “See, a new friend for you.”

As Mandy went behind Lambchops and sniffed under his tail, we held our breath. Then she licked him. When her tail wagged, we let out a group sigh.

“Mandy likes him!” Pam said.

“Come here, Bo.” Petting Lambchops with his right hand, Peter gestured to Bo with his left.

Bo started towards him.

“Baa!” To Bo’s ears, it probably sounded like an alien from another planet. He paused and looked up at Peter, his brows lifted together in a doggy question mark, then turned away.

Through his patience and instinctual understanding of animals, Peter soon brought Bo around. After Bo performed the ritual sniffing, licking, and tail wagging, we knew Lambchops passed the test.

“Look, kids!” A few weeks later, Mom pointed towards the road as a car came over the hill. “Lambchops is with the dogs chasing the car!”

“Ruff!” “Ruff!” “Baa!” Lambchops trotted behind, his plaintive baa’s a counterpoint to the dogs’ barks.

“He thinks he’s a dog!” Peter laughed.

The rest of us joined in, laughing hard and holding our sides.

Dad had tried to break the dogs’ habit of barking at and chasing every car that came up our road, but they refused to give up their favorite sport. From that day on, Lambchops joined them on their chases.

By the next summer, our once adorable, little lamb was a big sheep with a mangled, dirty coat, reeking of sweat in the heat. To get him shorn, Mom drove to a shearer in the mountains an hour and a half away, all of us and Lambchops in tow.

At the shearer’s shed, Lambchops froze beneath the shears while we muttered useless words of encouragement. The worst was how petrified he looked when the shearer turned him on his back to get at his belly.

We watched as the last long sheet of dirty wool fell off. In all, it took barely a minute.

His trial over, Lambchops stood up and let out a happy “Baa!”

“He’ll be much more comfortable now.” Mom was glad she’d made the trip.

“But he looks so skinny!” We petted him.

“And naked!” Page put in.

We laughed.

“It’s time for Lambchops to be with his own kind,” Mom announced the following spring. “I’m taking him to Bob Alvey’s sheep farm.”

Not as attached to him after he got so big, none of us objected.

Mom drove us and Lambchops to a pasture on the Alvey farm where we met Bob with his flock. Peter and I maneuvered a recalcitrant Lambchops out of the back seat of the station wagon.

He looked around as if bewildered at the mass of strange, wooly creatures.

“Nope, not for me!” I could imagine him thinking as he turned in scorn and clomped away.

Then a single “Baa” rang out louder than the rest. Turning toward the sound, Lambchops spied a pretty ewe. Without a backward glance at us, he followed her and disappeared into the flock.

© pending publication in 2021 or 2022 in Pageland by Leona Patrick

“The only way in which one can make endurable man’s inhumanity to man, and man’s destruction of his own environment, is to exemplify in your own lives man’s humanity to man and man’s reverence for the place in which he lives.”

Alan Paton

Note: The brass sculpture I created when I was twenty represents all forms of repression: negative emotions holding an individual back; one person holding another back; and racism, hatred, and indifference holding a group back.

Below are excerpts from Sandra Ingerman’s site. You can find a twelve minute podcast of an Earth Ceremony based on her writings at the bottom of this page.

“‘Imagine. Before you were born you were just a little spark of light connected to the creative force of the universe. You looked down on this great earth. What a beautiful planet filled with wondrous life forms. You started to ponder the possibilities of life on earth. . . . [and] the preciousness of life . . . We are a community of people who can gather our spiritual light and energies together to remember and to create a wondrous life for all living beings . . . This is how we thrive together in changing times.’ Excerpt from How to Thrive in Changing Times by Sandra Ingerman (Weiser 2010)”

The above excerpt and the ones below are from Sandra Ingerman’s Creating a Human Web of Light.

“The core principle of the Medicine for the Earth work is to . . . change the world and heal others by who we become – by our presence and by the love and light we radiate.

“Harmony within will create harmony without. So the true work is learning how to change our thoughts, attitudes and belief systems. We actually have to work with the alchemy of the soul to really be able to change our inner environment as our inner state of being is reflected back to us in the outer world. The literal definition of alchemy is ‘working within and through the dense darkness inside.’

“All miracles involve union with a divine force. In the bible when Jesus says to heal in my name the true Aramaic translation of this is to know God and heal as God does. This means to have union with the creative force of life is essential for true healing to take place.

“One phase of the work is to learn how to recognize that we are more than a body, our thoughts, and our past experiences. We are spiritual light and we are divine at all times.

“We are not separate rather we are connected to one source and to a web of life.

“In our egoic states we perceive ourselves as separate from each other and the rest of life. Life circumstances and our relationships with others trigger negative thoughts and feelings. As human beings it is important to acknowledge our thoughts and feelings. It is also important to acknowledge that there is energy behind our thoughts and feelings that we can send out to others and into the environment.

”It is healthy to have a range of thoughts and emotions. The work we must do is to learn how to transmute or transform the energy behind our thoughts and emotions into love and light. In this way we can feel the depth of our feelings but not create any harm by doing so.

We must again recognize as all ancient cultures did that words are vibration. And when we speak out loud we send a vibration out into the universe that will manifest back down on others and us.

“You might remember when you were a child saying the phrase abracadabra. This is actually an Aramaic phrase “abraq ad habra” and it literally translates to ‘I will create as I speak.

“The second phase of the work is gathering together in community to do ceremonies to reverse the pollution that we have created.”

“Instead of trying to manipulate the environment…We change ourselves with the understanding that our outer world will reflect back to us the inner changes that we make.This way of perception goes back to the ancient and esoteric principle of ‘as above, so below; as within, so without.’”

“As we begin to change our consciousness and get in touch with the light inside of us we can effect great changes in our outer world.”

“Author and lecturer, Eric Pearl teaches, ‘In quantum physics if you change the behavior of one particle, another particle in a different location will instantaneously react whether inches or universes away.’ Lower frequencies entrain or attune to higher frequencies not the other way around.

“All spiritual traditions teach that everything manifests on a spiritual level before manifesting on the physical. Where we have power right now to create change on the planet is by incorporating spiritual practices into our lives.”

It’s best to practice the ceremony outside, but if you can’t, close your eyes and imagine yourself in one of your favorite spots in nature. I like to imagine myself under one of the two gingko trees in the image of the back yard on Pageland Farm, where I used to play as a child.

Note: This is a poem I wrote to vent the anger I felt in my twenties; a back at ya, suckers! It’s such FUN to play the VILLAIN! Just remember, IT’S ONLY A PLAY! I was getting my Chinnamasta on. Although my inspiration was the Salomé of the Bible, the narrative is biblically incorrect. The image is from a painting, also done in my twenties. The last part about the older Salomé I wrote recently. The old hurts are long gone!

Salomé is frank
about the nature of Her desires,
and accepts the fact
that they rule Her completely,
and nothing gets in the way.

The only value She recognizes is desire,
and the only things She values
are the objects of Her desire.

So all-consuming is Her voracity,
She overlooks none from the vine.
Few are the helpless fools
who in their silly arrogance
attempt to escape
the devouring vacuum suck;

And many are those
who maul and shove
in their greedy scramble,
that much sooner to reach
the gaping, drooling womb.

And those who cease to serve Her,
She casts aside contemptuously—
emaciated weaklings,
worn out shells,
sucked up into the pit
of Salomé’s desire.

Salomé, at the pinnacle of Her power,
the nemesis of John the Baptist,
triumphant over Her silver platter,
and the severed head that lay thereon.

An older Salomé now, the She-Satan,
revels over Her many conquests.
Her witch’s cackle,
bubbling up high from the back Her throat,
in Her triumphant glory,
She continues to exact Her just revenge.

Her enemy’s own weapons,
She turns greed and lust against them.
Ruthlessly
She eviscerates Her fallen foes.

Gleefully
She surveys the piled up,
massacred corpses.
And with a long, loud, throaty “HA HA HA HA HA!,”
She kicks them over the cliff.

BEGONE!

© 2020 Leona Patrick, all rights reserved

Sunrise in Thunderbolt

From the yawn of morning,
the effortless cry,
the soundless breath,
the needle’s eye.

From the full sun at noon,
the fury and the flame,
the melting of tears,
the echo came.

From the empty dusk,
the spider’s web,
I sit and wait
for the tide to ebb.

And only night
can cast her veil,
enfold my soul
in a velvet seal.

Note: written in my twenties.

© 2020 Leona Patrick, all rights reserved

Chinnamastra Yantra, the ferocious aspects of the Mother goddess

She is sometimes represented standing nude on the copulating love-diety couple, three jets of blood spurting out her neck while she holds her self-decapitated head in one hand and a scimitar in the other.

According to the text of Gupta Lalitambika, she “is the embodiment of virtue, love, humanness, anger, valiancy, terror, odiousness, mysticism, humor, and tranquility all put together.” Quite the resumé.

Her decapitation symbolizes her courage in transcending the limitations of mind and body. The blood spurting forth is her generosity in sacrificing herself to nourish others.

The Chinnamastra yantra represents the severing of the ego and mind-chatter to achieve the inner wisdom of the third eye, as depicted in the downward pointing triangle in its middle. The eight-petalled lotus surrounding the triangle represents cosmic harmony. The outer geometric sheath corresponds to the earth; and it’s outermost area to the mundane emotions, such as anger, fear, and worldly desires. The T-shaped structures protruding from the square are the gates of the four directions, and the entry points of the yantra.

Yogis meditate on Chinnamasta for the courage to overcome all odds.

This is a story of growing up as one of six siblings in the nineteen-fifties and sixties on a farm in rural Virginia.

Had it not been for World War II and Mom’s little red convertible, our parents likely wouldn’t have met. Mom was from a wealthy Pittsburg family of German descent. Dad, an admixture of Cherokee, Creek, and Scottish Highlander, grew up on a ranch in Oklahoma.

PART I. AN UNLIKELY UNION, delves briefly into their backgrounds, how they met as officers at the Quantico Marine Corp base near Washington, DC, and their subsequent marriage. Put off by Dad’s pointed scowl at the minuscule cigarette burn on her uniform that not even her superior officer had noticed, Mom vowed to have nothing to do with “the conceited jerk.” Then D-Day came. The euphoria was so great, she couldn’t turn down his request for a lift to join the jubilant celebrations erupting all over the nation’s capital.

Her parents, not happy with her engagement to an “Okie” of dubious background, hired a detective who uncovered a secret that almost derailed the engagement.

PART I. COMPLETING THE PROMISE, starts with their life in Metropolitan DC after the war and continues with the birth of my brother Peter, my arrival less than a year later, Page’s three years later, and Pam’s a year after Page’s.

Newborn baby Pam barely out the hatch, the family was in the middle of the move to the farm. Then I came down with appendicitis. How did they manage?

Some hilarious episodes ensue as farm life presents a steep learning curve for Mom, especially with Dad frequently away piloting for Capital Airlines. After life on a ranch, for Dad it wasn’t farming that was the challenge; it was Mom’s total ignorance of both farming and all things domestic.

Our sister Sally arrived three years after the move. A year later, sister Laurie was born.

PART III. FULL HOUSE, continues with adventures on the farm and on our cross-country camping trips during the summers, with Dad flying standby to join us during his two weeks off work.

A year after the first camping trip, Mom was diagnosed with diabetes. The effects of the disease, which became increasingly severe, challenged both Mom and the family dynamics.

The story concludes with our Grandma Jo’s visit to the farm after traveling with us from California on our return from the third camping trip. While sewing clothes for me for my first year of college, she told stories passed down from her great-great-grandfather. During his family’s forced removal from their north Georgia plantation, he witnessed a soldier slit his uncle’s throat. After surviving the Trail of Tears, he arrived in Oklahoma Territory an orphan at the age of twelve, to later become a councilman and lawyer for the Cherokee Nation.

Although this is based on a true story, I have exercised creative license in embellishing the details and the tales passed down to me. Also, where I deemed appropriate or forgot them, I changed the names of characters and the dates of events.

© pending publication in 2021 or 2022, Leona Patrick