This is Conner's Hill, 2020. They are building a new Light Rail Transit (LRT) line beside the road.
The fool sets out on the journey less prepared than she imagines herself. The fool is blissfully unaware when she leaves her nest that this is what is waiting for her just up the way. And thank the mother she doesn't know what is next or she may have stayed on the couch and never set off.
There are times at the beginning and down the path when a seeker can feel stuck and stymied. These temporary blocks can feel unexpected are also helpful. The seeker may be revved up and ready to move while also at a loss about how to take the next step or which direction to explore next. The stuck/ block/ pause helps to slow down the process and consider what's next while allowing the energy to build.
Imagine the slingshot pulled back; the tension in the egg before hatching; the seed before sprouting; the contractions before pushing in mammal birth. We need strength and power for the momentum of movement.
In the beginning makes it sound like were about to start all of creation and perhaps we are. The beginning. The egg. The seed. The womb. The circle and even the mythological creature the Orborous, the snake-like animal eating it's tail. These are the images of the Beginning.
Consider the egg or the seed. Take a moment to imagine these archetypal forms. Imagine the pressure in the egg as the chick inside pushes against the shell, building up the strength needed for living after escaping the shell. Imagine the force within the seed as the sprout uses its natural momentum towards growth as the power to push the husk open.
And in the beginning there is the essence of what will be the final outcome. The cyclical nature of creation-sustenance-destruction can be felt at the beginning. The wholeness of the entire thing is present in the heart of the birth. This is the time and place of all potential.
Before the birth of creation, there is nothing. There is only darkness. The beginning includes that which is there before the beginning: the black empty space of the universe before the big bang; the oceanic primordial soup in early evolution. This is the idea. This is the feeling. That which is there before the beginning begins. Before the hatch and the sprout. The beginning is where we start.
In her set The Wild Unknown Archetypes Guidebook, Kim Krans writes about the seed; the beginning, the origin, the pearl: "beginnings come in many forms. They are not always a beautiful seed... origin stories like any birth story are complex, surprising, multilayered and usually reveal a central image or detail that represents the fully formed being." She references the image of the full potential of the oak tree present in the acorn. That forms an understanding of the beginning- its an orientation toward the potential of the seed.
The fool is the first card- 0- zero- in the Major arcana of tarot cards. You can read about the history of tarot with a simple google search so I won't go in to that. Pictured here is the fool from the Deviant Moon tarot deck. The artist and author, Patrick Valenza writes this about the card: "The Fool begins his journey with a delirious dance through the canal, leaving the conventional traditions of the city behind. With maniacal laughter, he heads out into the unknown, still clothed in his sleepwear. Half awake, half dreaming, the Fool treads water on the cusp of the conscious and subconscious realms, neither fully in one or the other. A gondola waits in the background, which signifies the start of a voyage to self understanding and enlightenment. Overhead a crescent moon hangs in the sky. It serves as a beacon of subliminal influence that will follow the Fool wherever he goes. Although his nocturnal visions are entrancing, the Fool cannot totally escape reality. The fish from the canal nibble at his leg and keep him from falling too deeply asleep. Pointing to his head, the Fool reminds us that one's state of mind determines his path in life and that all great accomplishments start with a dream." The fool starts in the realm of the beginning.
In Daughters of the Moon tarot, Fiona Morgan replaces the traditional fool card with The Dreamer. She writes about the dreamer, that it is "the most complete and perfect aspect of yourself... The Dreamer symbolizes the O, the egg, the vulva or the opening, returning from zero, all beginnings which are also endings." The fool's beginning asks us to recognize the regenerative energy that is within our self. It invites us to dream of other possibilities. And most of all it is a call to action and a leap into the unknown with only a faint understanding of where we may land.
In The Wild Wood Tarot, Mark Ryan and John Matthews rename the first card of the deck, The Wanderer and say: "The Wanderer represents the wisdom or courage to let go, to step into the void of the possible... the momentum of the Great Wheel has already sent the true heart of the Wanderer into the future, leaping across the gap with courage and joy. Now the figure must leave the burdens that have been carried for so long and and trust the wings of imagination." (Ahh... the wings of the imagination! This is where trauma sits; healing happens and growth occurs.)
The place before creation of that which is about to become- the fool sets off and the beginning begins.
In the beginning.... friends. Want to come along?
Beginning: "The point in time or space at which something starts."
April Fool's Day is the perfect point in time to start. Let me first start before the beginning. Like all great beginnings, it was preceded by an ending.
In the Spring of 2019, I invited Kriket-the-shaman to my office for a Friday evening visit. There was no sign of a global contagion and the table was laid out with a buffet of many different foods on top of an old favorite rainbow plaid tablecloth. I had met Kriket once before for long enough to know that she was someone I wanted to talk with further. I had seen Kriket work. Shorter in stature than most, she could hold the energy of the room in a way few people could-- easily. And she made it look easy- like gentle lifting of the butter from the top of the block with a knife on a warm day.
Within days of our long evening talk filled with all the best and biggest ideas about humans, hard times, healing, and hope, Kriket recorded this podcast on Hope. The sound strangely failed, and her lovely meandering ideas were amplified by the strange recording. She later lamented how she was both very pleased with and frustrated with how it turned out. She said it was nothing like she had recorded before. When I suggested re-doing it, she said she knew it would never be what it was the first time and opted to leave it as-is. I'm glad she did. My favorite quote from it is: "Do I have a destination in mind? No.... I don't have to get to different levels. I can forever be the intrepid explorer of self and soul. I love that. I think that is exceptionally hopeful!" (So do I dear friend!)
The summer of 2019 was one of transformation for me. In addition to having a shamanic healing session, I began my own inward journey... again. This was at least my third time around diving deeply into my psyche looking for clues of the truth and deeper understanding of my own self as a spiritual being.
In the summer of 2020, Kriket was considering how to get out camping in her little car and all that she would need for tent camping. I offered the possibility that if she wanted to camp with me, we could take my trailer out close to the city and spend some time outdoors. That led to two camping trips that summer. I think it would be a great title of a book: "A shaman and a therapist go camping" and we could fill it with the secrets and mysteries of the universe. Really Kriket and I mostly just basked and played: played with ideas and tarot cards and the elements of the outdoors. We shared space together, in nature and with spirit. It was the easiest of ease.
Then it was winter and in the darkest days when we were all so separated from each other, Kriket and I became covid-buddies. As per the rules, she could have up to two people in her bubble and I was one of them. I visited her apartment a few times when there was time and it felt safe for both of us. The last time was a weekend in late February. We hung out, caught up, visited and played. We read tarot cards and we both felt touched by spirit in the readings. I have one set of special cards that I brought to read for Kriket that day and she during the reading she exclaimed: "These cards are sacred.... I feel like I've been kissed on the head by spirit."
Kriket read my cards too of course. She created a spread spontaneously while laying them out. (I'll write about it and tag here when it's done.) The first card was "intention" and all the other cards were related to that. The third position in the 7-card layout she named "catalyst" as in what would start this intention moving forward. It was the 5 of cups: loss/ grief and anger; things not turning out as expected. Neither of us knew what that would be and nor were we worried about it. We said our good byes on the road outside her apartment and I left.
Then eight days later Kriket died.
That was the ending. And that was the beginning. Anyone who has experienced grief knows that you feel like you lost your very self- you can truly feel like you will break. And you do break. The confusion, shock, anger, sadness and even the way you experience your self- it changes you.
Stumbling around in grief and searching for solace, I decided that on the weekend of the spring equinox I would take three journeys and I did. The first journey was to Pigeon Lake Provincial Park. This was the first time I would go back since we had gone together. In September we were both at that particular part of the lake for the first time. Neither of us had been there before. At the time, I wrote: "And I awoke mid-dream, mid-day, mid-week in the middle of nowhere.” We shared a love of the liminal space and all the ways to come to the beyond within the self. It was a weekend of ceremony and sharing space with spirit.
The second journey I was home and travelled deeply within searching for some fraying fabric of meaning from spirit and any animal who may point the way. I met Eagle which freaked me out but has become an important link in my own chain of understandings.
And the third journey was to Elk Island Park on March 21. I had not been in ceremony with Kriket there- we didn't travel in the same circles. I did not know her until I knew her. I hadn't been to the federal park for years. However, I packed up the small fox from her kitchen she had given me one cold evening in January of 2020 and other accoutrements and walked in a way to set up the fire and sacred space to honor Kriket's memory and our brief but important friendship. I won't lie. It wasn't simple tears and heartfelt longing. I told spirit off and played Awake my Soul by Mumford and Sons. "I GAVE YOU ALL..." I shook my fist to the bright sky: "She gave you all and what did you give her? Where was her ease in this life?" (Aren't we all sometimes a petulant confused adolescent in our relationship with spirit?)
This was also the time of remembering our relationship in this life. We both felt a strong familiarity- like we had been in relationship as parent-child or peers- in other times and places before this one. I still cannot believe that for the entirety of this lifetime I will not see Kriket again.
Kriket's service to spirit was a gift she gave all who knew her from: her podcast; as a patient seeking healing; attending a ceremony she led; being a student in her circle; or a friend in drumming or other ways. Kriket inspired me to take my spiritual journey out of the closet and share with others some of the strange and esoteric ways we can be intrepid explorers of the self and soul. I knew Kriket would be my third spiritual teacher after our first dinner together, but its since her passing that I've learned the most.
This is the fool's beginning. And like all paradoxes it starts here at the end.