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Archive for the ‘Creative’ Category

The story begins like this: someone is lost, someone finds a thing, not what they were looking for, but a thing they need.

You are wandering. Perhaps you are wandering in fact, on a hike, on vacation, a break from your everyday life. Perhaps you are wandering in spirit only, in the idle moments of your day, or when you ought to be focused on something else, something important. Perhaps the face you wear every day makes you feel trapped. So you wander outside of yourself for a bit, and this is when you meet him.

You meet him in the mountains. Or, you meet him at the crossroads, metaphorical or otherwise. You meet him in the flood of words and images at 2 am in the glow from your laptop when you drown yourself in media to quiet your brain in the hopes that you can sleep. You meet him in a song. You did not expect to meet him here, wherever here is.

“Who’s there?” you ask, and you hear only laughter, faintly, and perhaps the ringing of bells. You try to see his face, and immediately you feel that this task is insurmountable. He does not have a face, or he has a multitude. His face is hidden, it is visible only in profile or a sliver beneath a hood. You think he is wearing a hood. That might just be his head. You’re not sure where the horns come from. You don’t know if that’s fur or feathers and if it is growing or worn. You ask about these things, and there is more laughter. Perhaps that is the point. You ask if you may walk with him a while.

“What do you think you can give me?” he seems to ask, and you fumble through memories of texts, for approximations, correspondences, fragments gleaned from other faces, other cultural lenses that seem more familiar. More laughter. More songs, silly and resilient and lingering in your head long after, until you cannot remember why you are humming it at all. You struggle to see, to understand, to hold this image in your hand though it shifts and slips through your fingers like water. “Can’t you be still?” you wonder, and his image shivers, a brief rainstorm, a disrupted connection.

“No,” he says, “and neither can you.”

You frown, because you feel safe, and secure in your home. Or perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you are filled with fear, and the fear is what keeps you still. While you still seek to know him, you still ask questions, and you learn to expect an answer in the form of a riddle, or simply a series of more questions. You cast your net wider, you learn to ask different questions, you start to question yourself.

At some point in this process, you change. You move. You lose someone, you gain someone. You take stock of yourself and rebuild a home around what you see yourself to be, what you think you might be becoming. He shows you a smile, shows you a different face. You find photographs of foreign landscapes that feel like home. You learn a new skill, you think more seriously about wool than you ever thought anyone would need to. You find pictures of sheep in the mountains, curls dragging like cloaks, bells jingling in distant wet air. You see him. You learn the word ‘transhumance.’ Your world widens, and there, again, there is the rush of information, the many faces, this time of rock formations and high pastures and seasonal processions and masks and wild men.

“This is not all,” he says. “Not all and not always.”

You look at yourself. You look at mythology, languages, remembered bits from the ends of semesters long ago, after the exams when you learned little snippets of culture as an addendum, for fun. You read about names, familiar to the ear but just different enough to be confusing, to make you understand that these faces are different. You think about figures with multiple heads. You read about gender, and fluidity. You look at yourself. You start to combine the pieces of yourself into something else, something whole. You are not still. You are changing.

You are not the same person at work and at home. You wear multiple faces, you make youself invisible in some spaces, so that you may flourish elsewhere. You put on armor as you ride the bus across the river, made of water and clay and moss and hide and metal. You change your face with the seasons. You think about fiber, and seasonality, and use. You transcribe bawdy puns from spindle whorls. You wonder what he wants with you, why you ever met. You ask him this, in a quiet moment. “Why me?”

“Why not?” he answers. “You were looking, you were changing.”

“I’m no one,” you say, as you have said to yourself a thousand times before, only now you hear the echoing roar of the thing that you carry with you, that you will always carry, and you can see perhaps more clearly that this is not entirely true.

“You are enough,” he says. When the winter comes, he lets you borrow his cloak. You dream of a city buried under ice, traveleing a continent, pushed by the weight of glaciers. You are still struggling to understand. It is a monumental effort to make space and time for yourself in this world, let alone make space for a god. You learn to work with what you have.

You invite him to sit with you in quiet moments, while you spin, while you pour your tea. You offer your burgeoning skills, you watch the color change from delicate pink to a deep and earthy brown from infusion to infusion. The room smells of rich wet dirt and warm sweet corn. There is the clink of porcelain, and the dripping of water on wood. He sips the tea you share, and smiles.

“Why sheep, though?” you ask. It could have been any number of things, you think you know this now. Sometimes it is a hawk, or a lion, or rabbits. Often it is rabbits.

He sets the cup down with a gentle chime, the small clear ringing. “They got your attention,” he says. “It was a start.”
You offer him tea, or beer when you can, and when you can’t you feel a little guilty but you reserve space for yourself, first, because your first job is survival. There are always the stories, the places in your mind, the myths that were never written. When you can, you give him words and pictures. There is not a rush of information, not like it was at the start. It takes years, and you are still getting to know him. You are still changing. And it is enough.

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I am a work of art. I am the result of intricate craftsmanship, and years of seasoning. I am still in the act of becoming.

I chose this blog title because it had been floating around in my head for months and months, actually probably more like a year, but it didn’t seem right for a public blog. This is different.

Clay Child is a name I was given while doing journeywork. As far as I know it doesn’t correspond to any actual personage or place, or even a culture, so I feel fairly secure in adopting it without stumbling into the dreaded area of cultural appropriation. Let’s hope so, anyway. I’m not even sure if it’s a name, per se, or a title I was given for that specific journey, or a descriptor of the animal spirit (Hellbender) that was involved in the process.

What I do know is that I’ve come to see the aspects of myself that are Clay Child as symbolic of my personal journey, my strengths and weaknesses, and my goals. I am malleable. I shape myself to my surroundings. I am so contained within myself that I need some sort of stimulus to change. Even though I feel like I’ve made so much progress, I am still unfinished. I will be shaped by future changes, and continue to do so until I die.

And in a way that’s very comforting.

I like clay. I grew up in a land of clay soil. I grew up digging in the yard, rolling balls of dirt between my hands. I once made a mouse-sized replica of a Navajo Hogan in the backyard, and it lasted through the winter. I loved the pottery class I took in grade school.

When I moved to upstate New York I wanted to learn about the soil there, which was so different. When I visited the gorge and had that amazing experience there, the most prominent aspect of the geology was the shale. Shale is muddy clay soil that has been compressed into layers. So even though this clay in New York was very, very different from that in my hometown, I could still feel a sense of connection, of recognition. I was not so old as shale. I was clay. But I could still fit in there.

(Now I am in a place that appears to have very sandy soil, but that is a different situation altogether)

Nowadays when I think of clay I think of Yixing teapots, which I’ve come to be a little obsessed with. And really, I shouldn’t be surprised.

The interesting thing in the past few days is that I think I’ve stumbled onto a system of energy work that actually works for me and feels relevant! (gasp!) I mentioned in a thread on TC that I visualized Pu’erh tea, the feel and smell of it, to help me in grounding, and that worked more effectively than the regular tree roots visualization. I used them in conjunction and felt way, way more grounded than with the roots alone.

Today, after reading through threads on Reiki (sounds scary!) and personal boundaries, I tried brushing up on my centering and shielding. I wanted to visualize a shield that was strong, but still able to absorb energy from me that I put into it, something that could be reflective to protect me from negative flotsam and jetsam (thanks social anxiety!) and something warm, to keep me feeling safe and grounded.

A TEAPOT.

The beautiful luster of well-seasoned Yixing ware, which is constantly refreshed and bathed in infusions of tea. It was an amazing visualizing experience, and I supplemented it with the cleansing, centering sound that Yixing makes, a sort of ringing tone that is clear and wonderful. I’m refreshing and checking in with the shield throughout the day, and I’ll see how it works out tonight. I’m meeting some of Girlfriend’s coworkers for happy hour, and I’m feeling pretty good about this potential social situation so far!

I feel like a work of art. I feel like I’m crafting something with myself that will last a lifetime. And I love it.

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