Nota bene–these are the Tower Time essays as they are right now. Some are rough, some short, some rambling. I offer them here in one place for those new readers who are curious and for those of you who asked to see them all in one place. I hope you find them helpful.
Tower Time File
Prologue This may seem like a bit of an anti-climax after all these years of warnings and thoughts and predictions about this Tower Time business. I’ve decided to create thematic documents, so I can add information as it comes up or as experiences should be recorded. I hope these are helpful to you as we navigate the times that are our times. So please consider this a first edition.
Tower Time, Document One. A Knowing, Cassandra-like
I feel I owe you all a slightly more thorough explanation of “Tower Time,” a phrase I have been using somewhat cavalierly for a decade or more and one which I find myself using with increasing frequency.
I don’t remember precisely when it began, this quiet knowing that has grown, for me, into a certainty. It began with a pinch of insight, a glint of what was happening globally reflected in local events. It was more than a lack of harmony, of simple chaotic modern life—this feeling hinted at larger activity, a shift in the zeitgeist, a disturbance in the Force.
This early knowing pointed obliquely to the old dream of every old feminist—the Collapse of the Patriarchy ™. Since our fiercer days in the long-ago 1970s, many of us have modified our speech—often because people refuse to understand that Patriarchy ™ is a system or a set of systems and is not merely angry women being mad at and blaming men. We now talk about Hierarchical, Top-Down Systems—HT-DS, for those of you who must have an acronym for everything—and that’s the language I will use here. But for those of you who still call the Patriarchy ™ by its oldest name, you may translate HT-DS to “Patriarchy” and you will be accurate.
Tower Time is named for the card in the Tarot deck, of course, specifically the Smith-Waite deck (which is the one I’ve been reading for more than thirty years). The Tower is one of the more direct cards in any reading and it lends itself to these times.
We—you and you and me—are living in a time of dramatic transition. The West is transitioning from the Age of Fossil Fuels, not gracefully, I might add. We as a planet are experiencing the most recent in a series of mass extinctions. We have moved into a post-Industrial Age—what the brilliant John Michael Greer calls “the deindustrial world”—where we collectively have lost the willingness to grow our own food and not piss in our water source. Whether or not you believe that the climate is changing globally through human agency is completely immaterial to me but I believe it is occurring and we lack the political will and the political power to override the interests of business and industry (and, let’s face it, the dominant culture) to mitigate that in any way. The clear knowing that I felt has grown more insistent in the intervening years. It is this: we are living in times when these massive, ancient and toxic systems, that have both created civilization as we know it and doomed it, are crashing under their own weight of history and grief. It is the death throes of patriarchy that we are experiencing and it will die as it has lived—in violence and oppression and injustice and death.
I did mention that this may be difficult to absorb, didn’t I? Many people nod and express their own sense of the rightness of this information. Others refuse to believe it, pointing—quite accurately—to the many instances in history where a group of loonies has believed it is the end of the world. I won’t engage in argument with you or read long reports that have come from dubious media or academic sources. This is intuitive—that is the very nature of a knowing. You are free to believe or not, as befits your sense of the current time and your knowledge of history and as that sense dictates.
Here’s a thing I do know. This is the time we were made for and one of the reasons we’re here. Tower Time.
Religion as empire, state as empire, education as empire, healing as empire—all are recalibrating in their individual descents. Each of us is in our personal place as the Tower erupts and crumbles. Some of us stand on the top, blissfully unaware that anything long-term is occurring below our feet. Some are trapped amongst the turrets, calculating a way off. Some have flown away and are gone to wherever and whatever comes after this life, after Matter has become Spirit. There are rock-climbers who are testing hand- and foot-holds as they work their way down the walls to perceived safety. Some are among the rocks at the base and some are out of sight, gone on to do the new work.
Because there is new work and it is past time to engage in it. Our work during the collapse is to not stop there, gawking at the impending calamity. We are charged—and many people are deep into this work—with creating new systems, systems that are genuinely cooperative, nurturing, sustainable and of greatest importance, resilient. There are groups that are forming in some areas to learn new/old skills, to get going with the new times. But they often bog down in meeting after meeting, talking through modes of governance, of how to hold a meeting without Roberts Rules. Remind them that time’s a-wasting and that talk can happen while food is being planted or tended or preserved. Decisions can be made while looping rugs and milking goats. If your group is dreaming big dreams but spending most of their time arguing protocol, you made need a new group. Because it is happening now. There isn’t some future Big Event that is looming on the horizon that marks the Beginning. It’s here.
As I sat with other gardeners around a fire a few weeks ago, I realized something it–if you have been waiting for the other “shoe” to fall, for the crap to hit the fan, you can stop waiting. It’s here, friends. Time’s up. We are in it–whatever it is. Continue gathering your allies, holding those you love close, planning, working, playing and thinking. But make no mistake, it’s here. Tower Time. Put on your game face and keep your courage up. These are the times we were made for.
Per ardua ad terra!
Going to Ground in Tower Time
Early in the Gulf of Mexico oil well disaster–when it was apparent that the problem would not be solved quickly–a small group of women gathered in the small Temple. They brought rum and watermelon and the room soon filled with clouds of rich incense. Chants for Yemaya began softly, rattles were gently rattled. As the spirit of despair was tamped down and the strands of joy and connection wove themselves into the singing and the smoke, the chants grew stronger. The dancing which was little more than rhythmic stomping began. The Beloved Crone seemed to be speaking an unknown language, as water bottles were chugged and offerings were made to Ancestors and Deities. The woman nearest the altar–the one who had issued the invitation–muttered prayers and knelt on the floor, singing the holy names. As she had promised, she flung herself full-length in front of the wooden altar and begged the Sea Goddesses for mercy. The singing and chanting continued for some time, until the participants were dry and tired, eyes streaming tears of grief and too-much-smoke.
Sometimes when we pray, we forget that prayer is not simply sending our best intention into the Universe. For those of us who see the Ancestral Goddesses as non-corporeal beings who have some authority and ability in the world of the world, the prayers and the singing honor Beloved Ones who are near us, but are not us. The invocations in which we implore them to fix our lives or clean up our messes or show us a way through are requests and bargainings. We understand that we have a part in this relationship but we do not have control. We are not the boss. We are participants in an ancient cycle of creation and destruction and re-creation.
And sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes the answer is–you got yourself into this and you and your people are going to have to fix what you broke, you are going to have to take personal responsibility and get yourselves out of it.
Our community was far away from the horror and ineptitude that was the Gulf disaster, high in the southern mountains. But we are none of us “away”, are we? We are all connected–physically, spiritually and electronically. We know that today’s oil slick is picked up by next month’s hurricane and deposited in our organic gardens, on our longed-for heirloom tomatoes.
We work ourselves into a frenzy of grief and guilt and spiritual activity. We open ourselves to the sorrow and anger, and filter it as best we can. We meet for coffee, and walks, and we talk for hours on the phone. Gentling the community in its outrage, cushioning it from outright despair. We are blown about by the winds and waves of all that assails us and sometimes the only place to go for succor, for comfort is away from the computer and the phone and the endless cups of coffee. To the garden, to the woods, to the earth.
There’s an evocative expression that has become a keystone for my work in the community of late. The phrase “going to ground” has taken on new significance as we stand in this challenging Tower Time. To “go to ground” is to run pell-mell back to the den or burrow, to find someplace safe to hide. To make a run for it. Foxes do it. Rabbits do it.
Since the earthquakes that ripped through Haiti in January of 2010, there has been a series of human-made and natural disasters that have been unremitting in their intensity and we have been subsumed in the wake of them.
How many times have I forgotten–forgotten!–the people of Nashville, TN who were inundated literally with the rising waters of the Cumberland. The seaquake and tsunami and the ongoing nuclear tragedy in Japan sets on already-heavy hearts. There have been storms and volcanoes, floods and bombers. One after another, a laundry list of devastation that can barely be acknowledged, much less comprehended.
In my community work, in my social networking, in counseling seekers with Mother Grove congregants, I have been calling the times in which we move Tower Time. I imagine that the vast foundations are cracking and we are in the top of the Tower, where we must leap outward or be crushed with the weight of this six thousand year old system in its death throes.
Tower Time–we must engage or perish, We cannot remain untouched, uninvolved because it does involve us. All of us. But the overwhelming-ness of it–how do we find the wings to fly from the Tower? How do we glide away from the mess and the pain and not look back to those falling faster and faster?
We don’t. We can’t. It is not in our nature. And so we bear the wounds and we keep on, even as we feel the spiritual life-blood leaking out, only to be replaced by ennui and despair. In our circles, we call for “grounding” : we speak the words of guided meditations in which roots grow from our feet and sink, gratefully, into the Earth.
Grounding. Going to ground.
We are furry mammals, warm animals, wounded animals. We have tried to think ourselves out of this mess. We’ve tried to ritualize ourselves out of this mess. But you know what a wounded animal does. A rabbit or groundhog or badger? They go to ground and lick their wounds. They hide in their burrow, in the very womb of the Earth and they take time to heal and regroup.
I’m not suggesting we bury our heads in the sand, that we run away from our spiritual responsibilities. I’m advising that when the going gets too much for you to bear, you remember that you are a warm animal and you have a special option because of that. You can go to your burrow to recuperate and lick your wounds. Then you can return to your community renewed as the clever and powerful badger that you are.
Finally, here’s my advice to a friend who was feeling ungrounded, displaced, abandoned by Goddess and community. I offer it here for you, with a few additions and points of clarification, if you have need of grounding. Here is a too-brief check-list of possibilities, if you are finding yourself in the midst of the falling Tower, unable to do more than gasp as the earth rises to meet you.
–Have you set an energy trap?
–Have you set wards? Are your shields up? If you can’t do that, let your community know and they will shield you until you can.
–How is your altar?
–Go out to your land and ask for help. Invoke your Ancestors and the land spirits. Take an offering. Bring some of the dirt in with you. Put it in your pockets, on your altar.
–Brick dust at the secondary entrances to the house–windows, back door, crawl space door. Not a line, just a drop.
–White dust at the front door–can even be baking soda. Salt works, too.
–Light a rue candle, if you have one.
–Spend time outside, sitting on the dear old Earth.
–Invite others to join you in a simple ritual of healing and grounding.
The best advice I have is “go to ground”. Earth everywhere. Dirt, dirt. Then evaluate and see where you are.
Go to ground, sisters and brothers. Earth everywhere.
It’s Tower Time.
Cardinal Cross in Tower Time
My friend Diotima is an extraordinary astrologer. See, I know enough about astrology to be dangerous and the rest of it sounds like adults in those Peanuts shows–wah wah wah. She somehow makes it make sense–even to me.
Here’s her take on where we are right now–
The world is an awfully ragged place to me right now, friends. The UN recently released an official report on the rate of global climate change and it isn’t a pretty thing. And has seemingly been met with the usual tepid response by The Powers That Are.
We’re still looking for that Malaysian airliner. We’re still digging bodies out of the mudslide.
The garden is planted a bit and things are rising up–spinach, kale, chard, potatoes, onions, cukes, lettuces of several sorts. The recent cold snap–what we call dogwood winter around here–bit the taters but everything else is fine. The apple trees are in full and fabulous bloom–including the new espaliered Stayman Winesap. The violets are luxurious, the dandelions crisp and delicious.
But this Cardinal Cross has combined with this Tower Time and it is hard to shake the sadness some days.
The ferry in Korea has split my heart, I fear. All those children, those parents..the stern and unyielding Sea. I haven’t yet been able to wrap any sort of cord around the breakingness of my heart around this. I am anxious for news and yet completely without hope. I can’t imagine what it will be like when they get the cranes in place and pull the ferry upright. I can’t imagine what that scene will be like–how hard that job will be, how impossible it will be to endure for those parents who are waiting, waiting.
So…per usual…I am sinking my knees into the Earth, the good rich soil of my land here. I am smelling apple blossoms and counting peony budlets. I am not doing much writing but I am spending time at my home altar, wondering. I am wistful about the coming Beltane with its magic and whimsy.
Because we are sitting on the horns of a great shifting of our culture and we all must find the ways to hold on, to create beauty, to be kind to one another and to hold space for the grief and the hunger.
Document # 5
Viva! in the time of the Dead
We began a discussion on Facebook, as one does, about the nature of societal change and the onset of the much-discussed revolution. I had just gotten up from a long nap and gathered my haunted thoughts and replied:
I talk about Tower Time rather a lot and people always ask–when is that going to happen? It is happening now and I think Tower Time and the elusive revolution we’ve all been longing for (but are also a little afraid of) is also ongoing. I take much of my information about how to be in the world from nature ( not surprising since I’m a Pagan) and this time we are in will have earthquakes and tremours and landslips and landslides. We need to reenvision what “revolution” looks like because it won’t be several “important ” actions, then skirmishes until the goal is achieved. This is tectonic and will take time.
It’s here, we’re in it. Time for deep thinking, lateral thinking, vision.
Document # 6
These Are The Times We Are Made For…no, really
We are all subject to the dramas and disasters that seem to abound in this moment in time. As always, I ask that you breathe deeply, ground yourself.
There. Marginally better? Good.
I have been dispensing my particular–some would say peculiar–brand of calming advice over on Facebook and I’m simply reposting some of it here.
I also ask that you re-read this earlier post, if you feel the need.
Take a deep breath, friends. Ground yourself into the bosom of the Earth. Now, from this place of strength and relative safety, open your heart to those in need of your goodness, your strength. Speak gentle words to those who need them….and kick the asses of those that need that, too.
The world is aswirl with chaos energy right now. We always have choices then but the two obvious ones are ground and hold–or ride the chaos. What we do tends to be determined on how strong we feel at the moment. Going to ground like a little furry critter is always a good option.
With respect and love to my colleagues…the system can’t be overhauled. System has to be uprooted, turfed out, composted so that its rot will feed the new system. We have tinkered around the edges for far too long.
In this time of grief and fear and fury, it has been a comfort to sit with my own past and with the magic of my forebears. Blessed be the Ancestors! May They stand with Their descendants and bring us wisdom, strength, vision.
It is neither the one thing nor the other, friends. Breathe, ground, if you can. You can stand in solidarity while lamenting the burning of the city. You can hold many emotions at the same time or sequentially–fear, fury, grief, longing. You can feel traumatized and triumphant. This is complicated, this time of change and growth. You are free to feel what you need to feel as you sort through the events in our world. And if you are overwhelmed with a desire to help, look at your community and see if there are people who are hungry–because they are there. Look to see if there is land that needs protection–because there is. You can help. You can feel. It’s ok to do both.
In this case–unlike Watts in 65 (?) and Baltimore in 68–we are the seeds that are awakened by fire. It’s up to us to go into the forest that is Baltimore and Ferguson and Pine Ridge and Oceana, and bring the green. What is left when things are cleared away? The people who are dreaming/weaving/scheming these new systems have to be at the tables of Power that will gather now. They/we must demand real change–not over-paid consultants, not political platitudes. Those people are already working in those places and we–from afar–can help them feel their own authority to initiate real change. The people on the ground in all these places have been told to be patient, let the system work, calm down, wait. What is happening now is that the real people who live real lives in these real places have reached the perfect point of despair. Some of us have been there, too–and it would have taken only that rush of clear destructive energy to bring the change. Certainly there are other ways to achieve change–but they are intentionally hobbled by so many things so deeply ingrained in our culture. It is worth it–thinking this through, being articulate. Because it won’t stop in Baltimore, or Ferguson, or NY.
Sometimes what we are doing is kindling past the apathy of culture and life. Sometimes we are lighting signal fires to let the next generation know that we care about the world we are leaving to them. Sometimes fire is light, sometimes it is heat, always–in its wake–there is renewed life. I always take Nature as my teacher and I think about forest fires–the terror, the destruction, and the aftermath of livid green. It is all a cycle, you know. The Great Cycle. Creation/Destruction/Creation.
This is getting lost in the drama of the other thread. So, if you are overwhelmed with a desire to help, look at your community and see if there are people who are hungry–because they are there. Look to see if there is land that needs protection–because there is. You can help. You can feel. It’s ok to do both. Think of your friends and colleagues who have been triggered by recent events–check in with them. Check in with the people who are always strong but now are quiet. Send them your good love and attention.
That’s all for today. Except this–
Fear not. Fear not
Document # 7
What if you chose to be proactive in this Tower Time of ours? What if we–each of us–simply said, enough is enough? There’s a truism in the non-profit world about tackling a big, complicated problem–“how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Let’s take a bite, together, to secure our resilience in these chaotic times. A tiny step into freedom from fear, a wee dance-step into the circle we all long to create. Today, right now, I am going to my altar (in the middle of the day!) and am saying a word or two to Themselves. Time to fly, sisters and brothers. We have been too long looking down, fearing the day. We don’t have time to dillydally or fret about things we can’t fix. Time to figure out what needs fixing and see if we have the tools to do it. I suspect we do. Shall we?
Document # 8
Chop Apples, Carry Compost–a Farmer’s Meditation
Chopping apples became a meditation for me today. The kitchen was set up with various cutting boards, colanders and stainless steel bowls, and a large pot in the sink held water to wash the apples. I started this morning by sharpening two of my favorite knives. Porch to kitchen. Wash and drain. Chopchopchop. Refuse to the compost tub. Chops into bags. Repeat.
It gave me time to clear the noise of this past couple of weeks out of my head. Chopchopchop. I was standing at my kitchen work station and began to wiggle my feet and sway as I chopped. A little tune came into my head and I hummed as I worked.
And because I was standing, I took time to do a good deep and grounding and check in with the good Earth. A cool breeze–and damp–drifted in the open window. I let the feel of it cool my back and my soul a bit, too. These are complicated days to try to think through and impossible days to try to sort out feelings in. So I let my heart drift, too–I left Charleston behind and Sudan and Greece and the red wolves and the damaged Gulf. I felt it flow down into the good Earth to become compost for this new world we’re building.
I think about–too much about–resilience these days. As all these systems collapse, as we learn to navigate by the stars and the Sun in Tower Time, what does it mean to love the land while looking askance at the people–my species–who inhabit it. Resilience, survival. Community and food and caring and love.
There is so much visible pain, so many angry fearful people–and I have been angry and frustrated and fearful myself in these days. But this day of simple, monotonous work and the gift of grounding have brought me some healing, I think. And some re-membering of who I am and where I am.
As we approach this flawed nation’s birthday, what are you re-membering? How are you healing yourself, your community and the souls you hold dear.
May we all re-member well, friends. Even those of us who have named it are not immune to the stresses and chaos of Tower Time.
Lighting Signal Fires in Tower Time
I’ve written rather a lot about Tower Time. For Cassandra figures like me, there is nothing satisfying about seeing visions come to fruition. We are experiencing the roiling change, the fear, the uncertainty that is almost programmatic in this enormous shift. Many communities are easily seen to be in peril but I say to you that all communities are thus.
Yes, the Veil is so thin as to be nonexistent, so if you are feeling your Ancestors and Descendents close to you, you are experiencing that. If your garden is flourishing and feels delightful, that is because it is filled with beings of delight that you can now perceive on some level. If you are not meeting with like-minded people to figure out where we as a species go from here, you had best get started. Time’s a-wasting, as we say hereabouts. This world is shuddering and shifting and moving out–it is up to all of us to decide the human worlds that will inhabit this physical space.
Perhaps we can refrain from the word-bombs and ego-lightning and get on with the reasons we’re actually here.
Something you may find helpful right now is to ground yourself deeply and shield yourself, too. Do all the self-care we’ve been discussing ad infinitem–hydrating, exercise, nutritious food. Holding fast to the good that you are and that you know.
Remember how strong you are and what you have already been through.
We are shaky now, frightened, angry. Go to your altar and renew your daily spiritual practice. Go outside. Remember, remember who you are and where you are, and your golden wild heart. Find your tribe and sit in circle with other tribes, either literal or virtual.
A thought, in love, from your village witch.