Thursday, October 25, 2012

Update! Remembering in November: Artist Spotlights to come..

A funny thing happened upon needing and leaving the restroom…And a recent brush with the other side of the veil, a reminder that it is coming soon the time to give thanks, to think about loved ones that have gone before in the wilderness of the unknown. In honour of the holidays of remembrance this November, I present my featured Artist profiles. 
There are fantastic people I have met on my journey, intuitive, empathic hardworking people that give a genuine care about the world they live in, enough to be inspired to comment in the direction of the happenstance in the form of artistic output, calling attention, not so much to themselves for personal glory or popularity… but to the causes they take to heart.
An idea that has bounced around in my head for the last few months got the kick to the forefront by a visit from a group of Civil War Soldiers.
 Soldiers too, in common with these Artists that I know, know all too well the idea of sacrifice for the good of people they do not know. Maybe perhaps they hold the memories of loved ones they wish to protect in their hearts much like inspiration of an Artist that feels so strongly the need of a message that has to be shared with the world. In their own ways they give their life for the betterment of their fellow man: Soldiers quite literally and Artists figuratively. 
Now this comparison is not to negate the huge sacrifices of life that Soldiers give, and especially their families when their loved one dies a hero’s death, perhaps you are very curious as to why I would make such an unusual comparison?  I will get into that. But to digress a little:
As a child, like any child, I had ideas of what I wanted to be when I grew up, of course they changed over time as life’s happenstances adjusted my path and nudged me in way I couldn't have guessed. I was naturally artistic kid and love to draw, sing and dance, but had no idea that it would be my professions. I wanted to be a Nun or a Soldier, a Marine in particular, and since I was no longer at Catholic School, I sent off a form to join the Marines at the tender pre-teen age of 11. Well, needless to say they thanked me and said they would get back to me in a few years which they held to their promise. Life, by then had taken one of those turns and I saw first-hand what happened to someone I love returning from war and not being the same. He was a great Marine and the adjustment to civilian life proved to be difficult, I contemplated this as I held the ID of an Iraq Soldier who had surrendered to my Brother in Law during Operation Desert Storm.

Perhaps it was something I did in a past life? Being a Soldier, dedicated clergy? I was drawn to the discipline and the relief of having someone dictates your path. It seemed having someone telling you right from wrong rather than deciding and making mistakes and learning experiences on your own would be such a relief then to overthink each experience wondering if I am doing the right thing.
  It was not to be for me. I was not to be the hero or saviour but more of a commentator. A demotion that I am making the best of and perhaps I had already done my turn at that and now it is time for my soul to learn something new.
Perhaps the Universe has other ideas for my talents that it nudges gently for me to learn and apply that I need to listen for in the stillness.
On Tuesday, I had errands to run and they took me all over town, before going to get milk for the household, I was on the South East part of town and thought it would be neat to see the outside of Waverly Sanatorium , one the most famous and haunted places in Louisville and take some pictures.  I was chilled by the communications I saw on the Season 7 part 2 of Ghost Hunters where the Nurses who fell ill during their tenure communicated to the investigators by rapping on the walls.
Since the street leading to the Sanatorium is not loudly marked, I blew past it when I discovered a sign for Union Fort Duffield, a Civil War fort which construction started on Nov. 1st, 1861 in West Point, Kentucky just shy south of Louisville on the Dixie Highway.  

Intrigued, I decided to go check it out instead. By this time I really needed to relieve my bladder, it is a well-tended attraction, so I gathered there might be a latrine or at the very least a private bush I may relieve myself in the wilderness.
There was signage and a place for brochures; I hadn’t brought a larger stroller for the little one but an Ergo baby carrier that I strapped my toddler in whilst we pursued the map of the area. Happy for the adventure in nature, she was excited by the prospect of exploration and eager for a hike.
A hike it was! There was a toilet but it was located on the top of the fort some 300 feet above where I was standing. Looking around there wasn’t a private place in which to take a my little one and relieve myself, not to mention disturbing bugs and snakes. The area felt a little sacred to conduct such mundane business on. I saw the path and the incline and started up the hill.
Not many people had traversed what once a road that tourists, were at one time, allow to drive up. After a steep incline where my shuffling of the fall leaves startled some sunning snakes, I turned the corner where cleverly painted benches assured climbing folks that they could rest and the assent would be worth it in the end. 

Thinking it would be harder to keep going if I rested the 25 or so lbs Toddler & backpack weight on my already sturdy dense frame, I kept trudging up the hill. Honestly it was steep but the air fresh and the view of the Ohio awe inspiring. A mountain biker was doing the same, a full forward lean to get his bike up the incline so he could deflate his tires some and take the fast track back down.
As I made it to the top I was rewarded with the restroom building and made haste to relieve myself.  As I exited, a gentleman making the same trek asked if I had also climbed the hill carrying my little one.
“Yes”, I panted, happy and proud I made it to the bathroom with no accidents.
“Good on you!” he complimented and I thanked him, happy I had a witness as I was a little worried about my flagging cell battery and the possibilities of falling down the mountain, understanding now the service of GPS on my phone to find me if such a thing should happen. My brain often works out worst case scenarios, just in case.
We were rewarded for our efforts by a huge earthen fort with a fantastic view. There were informative signs, cabin and a left over cannon which I photographed.
Sitting down by the cabin and giving my daughter a chance to stretch her legs we settled to have some water and inspect the dirt which I collected a little in a Ziploc baggie.
I collect different dirt. I have since I was a kid when my father brought me back a small block of a “witchdoctors hut” (his Native guide’s words) from an Anasazi ruin that I knew I was probably facing some curse for having. When it later vanished I imagined it went back home where it belonged.
This hand full of dirt I collected from under a shade tree would fulfill a collection I was making for a bucket I was creating for the Spirit Black Hawk, where dirt from a Mountain is required. I thought it was a bonus that the dirt from an impregnable fort on a mountain would be even much more a boon for an offering for this great warrior and after looking about to see I was not observed went about my giving thanks to the land & Spirits for the dirt.

On my way out I noticed another sign, for the Fort Duffield Memorial Cemetery. 
Many of the original resting places of the Soldiers had been moved to other cemeteries but I could still feel that perhaps some of their remains stayed at the fort. Looking up at yet other climb and vista, I contemplated not climbing another 100 or so feet. I realized I may never have a chance to see this again, as we will be returning the borrowed car and soon my adventuring would be relegated to what I could reach on foot and bus. So I resolved myself to climb up the mountain and thought perhaps if it felt right collect some of that dirt as well. Soldier’s grave dirt is good for protection.
The road had not been walked upon since the leaves of the season begun to carpet the path. I shuffled up the hill taking small breaks to take in the quiet, catch my breath and take in the reverence around me. 
My little one reached her arms out to touch the light rain of goldenrod leaves that floated down upon us. We finally reached the Apex and upon reading the sign proceeded to the memorial.

I could feel the presence of the 61 men who had not seen battle in the Fort but lived in constant awareness of it possibility. Many died in the elements while stationed there in the 4 years of the Civil War that it was active. I felt them as sentinels as I gazed on their raised flag and gleaming white stones re-positioned in a circle around the flag they defended. I felt very strongly I would not gather dirt here, it did not feel right. I instead read out each of their names aloud and took a couple photographs instead.
 I saw their faces in life, in my mind’s eye, proud and tired soldiers in uniform, 61 of the 1000 that were station there to protect General William Tecumseh Sherman’s supply base in West Point, Ky.

I thanked them for their time and I felt lightness as I left the cemetery by a different path. This is a precaution taken by many who visit cemeteries so that they less likely to be followed home by other worldly visitors and ghosts. This path was much more of a downhill hike to be taken very slowly and carefully, especially with my precious cargo. It was with relief when I finally found the road and could see the car in the distance.
After finishing my errands and a good nap to be had for the little one, I made it back home  and shared my photos of our recent adventure with a little history lesson for the folks back in my hometown. I was grateful for the exercise and that our adventure’s outcome was a safe one when I exited the bathroom after placing the bag of dirt in our art/altar room where my Ancestors & Orisha’s reside.  Standing in the Nursery playroom I had a strong sense that the room was very crowded with unseen visitors, surprisingly I was not at all scared when a loud and strong voice spoke to me.
“You have done much to give voice to us; you do much to insure we are remembered. This does not go unnoticed. For this we want to provide for you, and protect you”
I started to cry, a sign that something supernatural was indeed occurring at that point. The voice came from the shapes that had formed in my mind’s eye. Shapes of these men that crowded the room, the men whose names I had read on the tombstones just hours before. I had never in my experiences with the other world heard a voice so strong and clear, and swooned before I regained composure to answer a simple “thank you, for that I am very grateful”.
With that, they vanished, the room lightened and I walked back to the living room where I contemplated how I could insure I do right by this acknowledgment.
An idea had been brewing for some time, of giving voice to other folks who straddle these worlds, inspired by their touches with the Spirit world that they expressed in healing, artistic expression and act of compassion. A lot of these folks came forward to help my family and I when we faced very difficult times in the previous year. Some I only knew through the internet but had spread the message amongst their friends, of when we needed assistance. Their acts of charity helped keep the roof over our heads, food in our bellies and their prayers & well wishes for trips to the Doctor for our little one for testing for Spina Bifida Occulta which thankfully came back as negative, her signs being only topical.
These folks, struggling as we do, to make a living at and providing for their families whilst communing, giving reverence with their passed on family and Ancestors; who in turn give them guidance and inspiration for art they sell. I want to dedicate this virtual space this November to these folks that dedicate their time and life to those that have gone before and theirs who come back to ours to help guide and inspire.
When you think of gifts this season for yourself and others please consider taking a look and or sharing with friends the links from the folks I will be gathering here. Not only does this benefit the immediate needs of the families they support but the Spiritual family beyond they also support with offerings and prayers. Our families are not just the ones we see, hug and spend time with but all that grace our walls and altars, family Bibles and photos walls, remembered in our hearts and songs.
Cold touches on the arms and voices calling our names from the beyond will happen with more frequency this month so leave out a class of water and a candle for those that are still looking out for you from the other side of the Veil.

***I have decided to update this post with feedback that I have received from other folks in concern to my impressions...reliable and trusted sources put forth the idea that perhaps the Soldiers I had felt came with an Native Spirit voice as they let me know that Ghosts often are not as strong or as focused (they are working out their own things here) to offer what I had heard and that perhaps it had to do with more the Native dwellers of the land I was exploring. I was retrieving dirt for Father Black Hawk after all. However, something else may have piggy backed on my way home, something that showed up in a photograph that was taken of me during rehearsal for the Victorian Ghost Walk in Old Louisville. Stay tuned as I hope to receive this photo and report back this cautionary tale in the next blog! 

Up your protection and prayers folks! 

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