And Seventeen on Serenity, but
Toast, a shoal of quick fishscales flashing in
If half a sphere sat on a square
Such that the circle was intersected
Tangentially where it touched
The midpoints of the four sides
And centred then at cardinal points
Of East and North West and South
So that it formed the upper story
Of a constructed cross of tall hallways
Placed upon platforms of many steps
That led to avenues lined with trees
Surrounded by grounds filled with birds
That flew from forests all around
Laced with roads that winding ran
Along the sides of valleys dividing
Rocky promontories facing plains
Reaching out toward the horizon
Then we might wander to that place
And place our feet upon those steps
Pass through hallways rich with arches
Until we came to that central space
And looking up into that dome
Recognise our sacred home
The heart’s interior in blue of mind
The golden dome in the sky a sign
Echoes of angels in the songs of birds
Mosaic paths to gardened earth
Pillars of virtues guiding the living
Fountains of nourishing waters giving
Peace to the air of dappled sunlight
Leafy shade at edges where we might
Circle the circumference with songs that rhyme
Weave body and soul and words and time
She was called by her father on a summer’s morning:
“Be ready, child, we leave now, the day is dawning.”
And forthwith, they rode, from the land that she knew,
Further than she’d been, into a valley new.
And along the wooded trail, as they eased to a pace,
She asked of her father what he knew of this place.
“What you will know too,” he said with a smile,
“For this land is your family’s, stretching mile after mile.
But only the land to the left of this road,
Yet all, for generations, is where your kin tilled and sowed.”
“But what of the land to the right?” she enquired.
“Oh, none live there that your forefather’s sired.
But now,” he continued, “I must tell you why we’ve come.
For your mother and I…understand you’ve met someone.
And there’s a day – like today – in which we in our time,
Were taken down a road such as this, that comes now…
To daughter of mine.”
And with that they turned into a large open glade,
Where dozens of their kinfolk on wooden benches were arrayed.
But only on the left, for to the right sat many others,
And as she took in the view, she tried to discover
Whether in the sea of new faces, she knew anyone,
When suddenly her eyes blinked, as if from rays of the sun.
For the face of her beloved was looking back at her.
And as he came over to embrace her, she heard her father’s words:
“To the heart of this valley, your young lover took a ride,
This morning, before us, with his father by his side,
While your mothers and kinfolk prepared this ancient place
With flowers, food and wine, fit to receive God’s grace,
For a marriage of true hearts. And for all of us here,
We are overjoyed and blessed, for now we can draw near.
For the land to the right is of your lover’s forebears.
But now this land, beyond, is for all of us to share.
This green valley is your heart, this great world is a church.
Along aisles – or roads – in Love…
Do the two sides merge.”
Leading three sweatlodges then being part of one by Danyo.
His spiritual name in English is White Mountain which I saw he is.
He’s a pipe carrier for his people. He’s been a sundancer for twelve years.
They pierce their chests with hooks and dance hung from the world tree.
He says it takes some of the suffering away from the women who give birth.
In the lodge he called the women the life-givers, men the protectors.
Rochelle doing Huna Bodywork Healing on me on her table in the tipi.
The grief and wounding that surfaced stimulated a visionary experience.
Releasing Catholicism, Jesus / martyrdom mythology, I was in the dream.
On a cross so lonely so realistically yet aware of her on the ‘outside’.
Sensing how I was trapped and moving warm energy against my skin.
Taking me by quiet storm til I was so warm and safe within.
Jason coming out in his wheelchair all the way in the mobility taxi.
Being carried by four people in his chair up to the chicken shed longdrop.
The longdrop was the highest point of the Gathering land.
Lots of joking and cheering about carrying the king to his throne.
Later in the big tipi with the drummers and dancers around the fire.
Jason’s request: Cody and I took turns holding him up so he could dance.
Down at the stream at dusk, some people standing ankle deep in the water.
My torch joins theirs as we hold them like cups upright shining from below.
In watery shadows slides an eel lazily tracing a line sideways.
Embarrassed at my ignorance of such matters, I turn caution into bravery.
With an ‘O’ of finger and thumb, I let the eel slide forwards like a condom.
Sometimes I held it forward of halfway, and we both backed up in fright.
Lying in a field of enjoyment under the duvet in my tent, gladly exhausted.
In such a high state of consciousness I ‘dreamed myself’ into visions.
Impossible four-dimensional landscapes like continuous fruiting on trees.
And at the bamboo kitchen, some favourite women are singing so juicy.
Impossible to visualize, rolling raunchy with the ‘Funky Chicken’.
The desire of wanting to witness what I am already intimately influencing.
Andy’s in Auckland to do a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat.
The centre is in Kaukapakapa not far from where the Gathering is held.
Being at the same time, I’m naturally disappointed he’s not here instead.
But my other two brothers bring him out on the Sunday before his starts.
I’m swimming at the time so I’m not tempted to play tourist guide.
Instead we four of us jump off the bank and feel like kids again.
The sweatlodge still wasn’t built after the first week of the Gathering.
The previous year, the site had been left in disrepair; the coverings rotted.
Musing again at its fate, I saw firewood stacked in the old rock pit.
Everyone had agreed the children could have a campfire here, Doug said.
The sacred site was cleansed by kid’s laughter and toasted marshmellows.
The next day a large lodge was built: in darkest night the people entered.
Older men aren’t blessing younger men much anymore, Bly had said.
Elsewhere I’d heard that younger men weren’t apprenticing themselves.
Max asked a circle of ‘good men’ to join he and his son Willow in the tipi.
We honoured Willow for the journey into manhood he was making.
Sharing what it meant to be a man, we spoke of what we recognised late:
The support of men, and how we wished we’d had Willow’s fate.
Finding the power place for the closing ceremony on Saturday.
On the other side of the stream, a clearing between the three largest trees.
Coming together again as a smaller circle: where were all the men?
Each person standing before the group framed by the two big trees.
Being told of their qualities, the growth some had noticed over this time.
The image was of taking the gathering inside to pour ‘out there’ again.
The wonderfully contentious process around drugs and alcohol.
Buttons getting pushed, flare-ups and walk-outs, my meditations on Yin and Yang.
Gerd’s offer at the morning circle after three days of drama and dramas.
He puts a beer bottle on the altar where everyone’s offerings were arranged.
More laughter when Simon opens it to pass round for the alcohol-lovers.
Half-way around Gerd in his turn pours it out on the ground “for the others”.
Getting a sweatlodge together a little belatedly, Skins and Ben agree to help.
They take on Firekeeping with lots of wood to gather, chop, and split.
Later Skins says he has to clear with me about something a few days ago.
We reach an impass so he says he and Ben are no longer available.
I make the fire, crossing a poster of five bikers that’s been placed there.
In the circle next day Skins says he appreciates how I “got it together”.
I do a half-day in silence, an note taped on my tee-shirt.
Later I’m wandering naked as such a joyful innocent, so safe.
Where ‘Steve’s Cafe’ opens out from the Totara grove there’s a tent.
In a dome cubicle of soft bedding sits Corinna who I haven’t met.
All smiles and elfin eyes she lets me come close like a silent pet softly.
She shows me photo albums of her bus parked in different places.
Finding myself an older man among teenagers doing a sweatlodge.
Often in their company I act the suave runaway from responsibility.
Here I tell them of tradition and honouring, people and process.
In the third round the young men are still braving it with their philosophy.
Warm sound and silence resounds when I invite the women to speak.
“We’re a swimming pool”. And another:”a soft penis in a warm vagina”.
The talking stick suffered a variety of applications in the circle.
Gerd and I raced for it once, no, twice I confess, once in the tipi.
In the marquee I handed it to him before he could finish explaining.
In the tipi I held both the male and female, and offered him the male.
He witnessed my love, but took the female, and we jolly-sailored like boys.
Moustache-twirlers, like the counterplay of complements/compliments.
“If I can’t hug you here, I couldn’t hug you anywhere”, I told Henry.
He was sitting at Gerd’s cafe, and I just knew that I must ju-jitsu him.
Sure enough, he was only at the Gathering for five minutes.
I pushed past to his chair while Agnes gave me a wry smile.
Henry and I haven’t had much to say to each other for a while.
Now he thanks me for minding Zowie but tells me to use tongs for the food.
Corrina’s eyes are every colour, but her nose stud’s turquoise-green.
It picks up the eye-green like fishes in two ponds of colourful lilies.
Going gaga enough to tell her something like this I mention iridology.
“An iridologist’s dream, your eyes”, and the bit about the guy down in Golden Bay.
He took close-ups of his eyes and put them on sticks in the garden.
Like seed-packet posts showing what he was growing and guarding.