Equipoise, Whee!

Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina
self portrait, the world and me

On the page for today’s date, the 29th of December, my poem Equipoise appears in the global datebook, We’Moon 2014. This has me musing about what kind of folks start using a datebook the week before the new year starts— maybe the kind like me who like to ride the glide.

This is the week of time out of time, the days before we jump, next week, into next year’s newness. Whee! It’s the cusp of the year! It’s the end of emptying for the year of 2013, and the start of filling up for the year 2014. Time to ride the new moon sense of poise. Time to listen deeply to guidance from your greater consciousness.

My guidance is steering me toward service. In January I start the Literacy Project training and I’m looking at a voluntourism project near Belem, Brazil for spring or fall. If you are so inclined, please comment on what guidance you are receiving for 2014, regarding how you might contribute to the great changes afoot in our world.IMG_0325

Empress of the Americas

Guadalupe tattoo, Susa forearmShe has many names, the woman who appeared on the hill in Tepeyac in 1531, and spoke in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. At that same site, she was worshipped as Tonantzin, Venerable Mother, by the much earlier ancestors of the indigenous man to whom she appeared. Among other names, the Virgin of Guadalupe is also lovingly called La Morena, Empress of the Americas, Queen of Mexico, and Our Lady of Tepeyac.

Some say that, as a virgin, a woman belonging only to herself, La Morena reflects the blessing of moonlight to women everywhere. Some say that this Goddess Tonantzin, who painted her self-portrait on Juan Diego’s cloak, is the Matron Saint of Artists. Many attest that she can help anyone, especially those who have been unable to find help anywhere else.

For the sake of the world, call on her magnificent compassion today on her feast day. Call on her as the great alignment comes to completion. Ask her help to create a planetary shift, ask her to help humanity jump the synapse from here — our current breakdowns, to there — our future of amazing possibilities.

A Short History of Tonantzin: http://yeoldeconsciousnessshoppe.com/art261.html

Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin
art by Ana Maria Vasquez available from


Giving the Body Back

Ramsey Creek Preserve in South Carolina, the first green burial site established in the United States, consists of seventy-eight acres of pristine woodlands. Since 1996, people have chosen to be buried there, without vaults or embalming, along simple trails in a beautiful woods, sites marked only by mounds and flat river stones engraved with their information. The land is held and protected by a conservation easement, so the people who are buried there, far from paying a cemetery just to take up space, contribute by their death and choice to saving and protecting the land from development.

It is a comforting place to visit, which is what I did yesterday with my partner. The space feels sacred, a breathing eco-system nurtured by the bodies of people who deliberately decided to enrich the earth, to give their sustenance back to the earth that gave them sustenance. The mounds and markers in the woods create a startling art combining life and death!

In fact, Ramsey Creek Preserve unites life and death in a way sorely missing in modern life. Instead of attempting to fence death off from life in a cemetery, here the juxtaposition of life and death reminds us how stunning life is, how change is its spectacular signature. The combination of the living forest with the burial mounds reminds us, as we walk the tranquil trails, to get on with full-out living!

One flat river stone says, under the name and dates, You kept your promise to love me. It makes me think that all of these Gone-befores kept a promise they must have made, to love the planet that nurtured their lives. My own end-of-life papers have been prepared since I was in my forties, and each time I have updated them, I have designated cremation for disposition of the body. Now I wonder. Cremation means burning fossil fuels so that the nutrients of my physical form create air pollution as part of the process of turning it into ashes, whereas green burial means the nutrients of my body would actually enrich the land. The thought of becoming a real part of a living forest like Ramsey Creek Preserve feels so much more fitting.IMG_3489

Ramsey Creek Preserve was the perfect field trip this week, as I go along at the age of sixty-six, in my Earth School curriculum, always learning. This week is All Hallow’s Eve, aka Hallowmas, Samhain, or Halloween, the ancient festival of the dead. Hallowmas is one of the Old Religion’s eight High Days that divide the year into seasons, Hallowmas marking the midpoint between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice. Peoples have always honored their ancestors as the Wheel of the Year turns toward the dark, toward that mystery of gestation that looks so much like loss. I think of all those who have gone before as ancestors, and I honor our unseen connections, whether biological or not.

I am grateful that as I age, my spirit lightens. In the woods at Ramsey Creek Preserve, in the brilliant October colors, breathing the invigorating autumn coolness into my lungs, I do not plod. I skip! And I offer thanks to those ancestors who made the sensible decision to have themselves planted here, in order to give something back.


Birds on the Mountain


Not far from Mars Hill, NC, Big Bald Banding Station is located at 5390 feet above sea level on Little Bald Mountain, open vistas on all sides. The morning was cool as 14 of us walked the half mile up to where a lone volunteer bander had been working since dawn. The southern Appalachian Mountains serve as an important flyway for many neotropical songbirds as they migrate from breeding grounds in northern U.S. and Canada to their winter habitat in Central and South America. During September and October, volunteers of Southern Appalachian Raptor Research operate mist nets daily at Big Bald Banding Station. Captured birds are fitted with a U.S. Bird Banding Lab metal leg band, measured, assessed for health condition and then released unharmed. An average of ~2000 songbirds are captured, banded and safely released each autumn migration at Big Bald.

On this Sunday morning, the volunteer bander had set up the mist nets, and on a regular schedule, she had extracted, banded, documented, and released each bird that had flown into a filmy net.On this windy morning, when more leaves than birds were caught in the nets, that number during the time we were there was six. When we arrived, in her hand was a stunning yellow-bellied sapsucker.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

When it came time to release it, the youngest among us got the honor.IMG_3419

Afterwards, we followed the bander to the nets and watched her carefully extract five more: an oven bird, a tufted titmouse, and three warblers (a bay breasted, a palm warbler, and a black-throated blue). We helped remove leaves from the nets and one of us volunteered to scribe data for her. Some of us, including me, got to hold a bird for the magic moment of release.

When the bay breasted warbler rested between my fingers, my other hand flat beneath it, I felt no weight at all. But when I opened my grip, and it took flight, I experienced the exquisite touch of its feathers brushing my hand. Life! Ephemeral, magnificent, fragile, and precious!

Through oak and poplar, wind

cracks the whip!

No human noise. Only

on top of the mountain,

close clouds,

fast! Across

blue jewel sky,


sweeps me clean.

c. Susa Silvermarie 2013

Bay-breasted Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler (Photo credit: Wikipedia






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