Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sharing this inspired reflection of Mila, after the Ritual Gathering at Lizae's

My dear friends, sisters and family,

Please allow me to try putting in words what the experience of the ritual night meant to me. The gongs have not stopped playing. From some mysterious place, they continue beating, rhythmic and distinct. They bring me back to Saturday evening and everything that flowed from it.

The poem that I was asked to create for the Night of Ritual Gathering in Oakland had been like clouds gathering in my imagination. I did not anticipate what they would bring. Not even when the words drizzled their patterns. Then, the drizzle became stronger, and the images and meanings started to pour like rain. I felt my Lola touching me once more as a child, in my hometown; smelled her roasted cacao beans and inhaled the smoke from her slow burning herbs. Most of all, I heard her gentle chanting, how she implored my wandering selves to come back as we prepared to go home from visited strange places.

After writing the poem, I practiced reading it to my sister in Los Angeles. I did it again in Berkeley, to my son, Kriya. I thought they were simple readings at first but I began to wonder why my sister cried and why my son could not speak after listening to it. Kriya remarked later that the chanted words resonated with a haunting yet familiar power. And when he said this I realized that the only way a song could be heard was for someone to sing it; and that by my chanting, I have finally opened the gift that Lola had long ago bequeathed when she sang it for me, exactly the same way her grandmother chanted this to her as a child, and all the other elders before them who did the same act to the next generation.

By invoking the chant for coming home, I have once more opened the entrance to the sanctuary that our ancestors knew; the sacred and safe space where I could settle myself with them, after wandering to so many places. By the act of listening, my sister and son similarly invoked the chant, lifting the veils from a distant past where the three of us reconnected with our roots in that same safe and mystical place. I felt as if I was floating in collapsed time; that I was, I am, a strand tying the past to the present; in a continuum of melodic notes and rhythmic words that could only emanate from a life source, the one creative source.

I cried as insight after insight rippled within me. I was chanting to the nudgings of my grandmother, to that of my mother, their mothers and all the other ancestors before them; to once again play the music of the spheres, so that I may serve as a humble medium and be able to pass it on to others; so that the sound may continue in its healing as it calls to our wandering selves to come together as one; as it implores us to listen, as it reassures us that to come home is to face who we are; and to know that the real self is infinite and thus, indestructible. It was the most reassuring truth once more revealed, the truth about how fleeting and yet how eternal life is, like we are.

And the most beautiful thing about life is the chance to rediscover it with you, dear kindred souls, as we continue drawing congruent mandalas within the babaylan consciousness and community, as we continue calling to ourselves and to others to come home. My heart is a spring and you provide the waters which nurture it.

Thank you to all of you.
In loving gratitude,

How could I not know that it was the chanting that my Lola's way of bringing us back to where we came from; to our past, to our ancestors, to ourselves? I realized later that the chanting was chanting itself through me, that the chanting was the bridge of my Lola, later my mother, that brought tears.

I was in my hometown, in my Lola's big house, in my little body as a child.

I traveled all over the horizon of my childhood and all those beyond. I remembered the hundred thousand miles of distances spanned as an adult and the darkness and pain that seemed to surround them.

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