Pandemic Diary: Day 24
4-5 For the first time in five days, I am outside. I’m going back to the labyrinth – inexplicably drawn there. I don’t need to know why. I need to follow this guidance. To let it walk me there - and walk me round and round the labyrinth.
It’s very early and no one is out but me. I walk the labyrinth with my head down. Circling and circling.
After the labyrinth I see a neighbor. I am 20 feet away. I say, “Hello.” He says, How are you?” but I can tell by his cool regard, that he’s mistaken me in my boots and head covering and big coat for one of “them“, a member of the Orthodox community. To him, I am an intruder in ‘his’ neighborhood. I don’t belong here.
Since I last walked this street (it’s more than a year ago), he’s surrounded his property with a metal fence. It’s beautifully designed and looks very strong. A fortification the way you see around a bank or government building. A reminder that here, in our small quiet community, we’ve have been dealing with a different sort of invader for several years. We ignored the emails in the letter stuffed into our mailbox from concerned community Members. Now we were living at the epicenter of the expansion of orthodox Jewry
My husband, a Reform Jew and I, half Jewish but never identified that way, are not considered really Jewish by this community. They identify themselves clearly with their fur hats and long black coats. Married women wear the traditional wig and cover that with a scarf for good measure.
They stroll up and down the street pushing strollers, older children lag behind, stopping to examine a flower or pick up a stick. The mothers, trusting this quiet neighborhood, walk on, trusting their children will catch up. They walk into the fellowship farm even though the sign, clearly posted, says No Trespassing. I’m sure they don’t think they’re trespassing. I’m a little family with children who want to see the cows, I imagine them thinking. That sign is not for me.
But it is - explicitly for them. The signs, now posted all over the neighborhood, were not here before they arrived with their otherness and bought up every available house, building synagogues, purchasing my favorite Chinese restaurant and razing it to the ground - no doubt another synagogue will soon rise on that site.
I walk on. Ultimately, we are all trespassers. All interlopers in an ecosystem that was never meant to be overtaken by human life. When I trace it back myself, without the scholarship of Bible study or a formal education and comparative religion, what I see is that it all seems to begin with the thought of dominion over.
The thought of man has dominion over nature. Of man has dominion over woman. TheI thought that anything has dominion over anything else. Coronavirus has sent us all to our rooms to think about this but we’ve done. I can’t help it this is how I see it. Mother nature sending adolescent humanity to her room for the offense of not knowing who’s in charge here
As I’m walking I realize I could walk back through the farm land which leads to the forest and farm across from my home. The edge of the land is right here, at the end of this road - just ahead. But I am afraid to walk in there. There are ticks and possibly snakes and other unknown creatures – unknown to me in my modern, suburban way.
There’s always a threat from nature right now it’s the coronavirus. Next month or next year when this is all over, they’ll be another one. In our neighborhood before the pandemic, there was the Orthodox taking over our school system, taking over our roads. There was never this much traffic, I said to my husband. They have no right to live so many families and one home home. Can’t we do something about it?
When I do notice man-made things, what I notice is how they’re blocking off how they’re claiming space
A stone wall delineating a property line. An iron fence marking out the edge of the yard. An alarm on the door a road cutting right through the forest.
She tolerates us and our intrusions but only so long.
I’m reminded of the scene in Lord of the Rings when the fire monster rises from the depths to challenge Gandalf. It’s a very exciting scene. The wizard stands firm, protecting the others, he faces down the monster, holding his staff of power planted firmly to the ground. “You have no power here go back where you came from.”
The monster retreats and Gandalf turns to join the others. But then, at the very last moment, a whip of fire snaps up from the crevasse, winding itself ‘round his ankle and pulling him straight off the cliff. Gandalf falls and falls - It’s very dramatic - into the fiery depths where he wrestles in the dark, losing all sense of time. In a fire dream, Gandalf wanders and wrestles, struggling with the shadows of the deep earth.
Later, in a different film, Gandalf returns. He is cleansed, purified by his struggle, He’s a white wizard now, fully empowered to meet the threat encroaching the world of men.
This is the power of the deep earth mother. Coronavirus is just a tiny speck of what she can do. Floods, fires, earthquakes, cyclones, title waves,
As I am writing those words in the notes of my cell phone, I hear a ping. A message from my acupuncturist.
She and I have been sharing notes on coronavirus. both of us have a mild case. She writes, Just a thought, perhaps Lyme disease has prepared us for this.
See what I mean? There’s a whole network of wisdom out here knowing exactly what’s going on, connecting other dots, Dipping digging into our own deep experience for the vaccine which won’t just be a chemistry experiment but will call on the deep alchemy of a symbolic. even mythic awareness.
The word pandemic contains within its alchemy, the word Pan, from the Greek, which means “everywhere everything all at once.” It’s also the name of a the trickster god of nature. Pan, who symbolizes the place where man and nature meet, is often pictured as half man half goat, playing a flute as the world falls apart. Pan is famously wild, sexual and unwashed. He lives in the forest. He leads innocent human into pandemonium, aka chaos. Pan, reminds us that nature is infused into everything and everyone. You me your grandmother. All of us were born wild. All of us die back into wildness.
Once of my favorite words, Panspermia, means, essentially, that everything has the seed of god in it. The world can be built from anything. Anywhere. Anyone.
Catherine wrote: I feel comforted knowing that I was able to heal from that illness. It gave me confidence which bolsters my immune system.
This virus is inviting me to change. An illness never leaves us unchanged. Perhaps this is the path of evolution.
As I finish writing back to her, I look up just as a black cat emerges from the forest. Like other witchy women, black cats are special to me. They’re my spirit animal, a reminder of my connection to the other face of nature, Her, the sacred feminine.
I look back to my phone. I want to tell Catherine about the cat. I look up and the cat has disappeared. I scan for her, eyes searching the road, the farm, the neighboring houses. Oh well, I shrug. I walk on. A few steps and, suddenly, there she is. Waiting for me. Standing completely still. Right in my path. She looks directly at me straight into my eyes from behind the wooden fence that corrals the wheel and the chickens. Then, she turns and pads back into the forest.
I dictate those last words into my phone. I look down and there on the ground is a bottle cap: Corona Extra.
Oh, how I laugh.
She is everywhere. Pandemic. Panspermia. A pandemonium of life emerging everywhere every day all at once.