Solitary Longing

All of us, by either heredity, predisposition, or circumstance, walk the long road and we know firsthand the depth of solitary longing. It can be terrible and lead to terrible things because as human, solitude is not in our nature. We need our pack around us, our tribe, our family, and our friends. We need our community. And when they are missing from our life we don’t often do well, spending a great deal of time warding off or trying to transcend solitary longing. When all else fails we put our noses to the grindstone and try to fill the void with arts and crafts or handwork of some kind, something that fosters meditation and creativity.

As practitioners of the Craft we often read between the lines and see ourselves while rarely admitting it. We feel the essence of peoples’ words, we sense their loneliness, and resonate with that old friend, solitary longing. I often think that at one time in my life I would have given anything to be ‘normal’, part of the crowd, a welcome family member. But that didn’t happen. Spirit had decidedly different designs on my life and after many years I learned first to make peace with it and finally embrace it as the heart and soul of who I am. I found a sense of harmony in the garden. I am never alone in the garden. Plants and animals talk to me and me to them. I listen to the air move through the leaves, I see them shimmer; I study the shadows and spaces between them and know that there are countless worlds all around me, all the time. I write stories about the way I think it should be, the way it once was, and after decades I realize that I won’t settle for less. In time the Ancient Ones who choreograph those stories became the people I truly wanted to know and associate with; no doubt the product of the madness inherent in solitary longing. But maybe not. The solitary longing of my life opened a window into ancestral medicine, into a world that still exists. I know them by name and I write their stories.

Moondog turned out to be a great character. Born to a powerful clan, he is confident and assured of an enviable life. But Moondog is also a conflicted dark individual with personal agendas well shrouded by impeccable manners that he uses to get what he wants. And yet beyond his control and purview, elders, especially Crones and their consorts the Bards have designs on his life too. They are pulling cosmic strings to shift his awareness, disrupt his plans, and land him in a world of their creation. After much to-do and even more manipulation by the Magic Makers Moondog is left with nothing but solitary longing unless he fulfills the dictate of those older and wiser.

“Ancient Ones thank you for the Weaving Woman who fed the famine in my body. And yet her legs and arms, her warm soft skin, her weight across my hips, her rhythmic roll was all too ample for one caught in insubstantial mist. Her solid, smiling presence didn’t touch the anguish of my spirit split away from the ether of Gobetween, exquisitely intrinsic, more tangible than the flesh of this reality. Like the Bards, you point to her; and I too anxious to wait much longer, slip into her vision, naked, risen to the ecstasy. Will she remember the difference between desire and the dreamtime? She sits at my feet, encircling my leg with her arms, pressing her lips to my knee. If I am an aberrant old fool, so is she. We dream together asleep in the rapture.”

This tells me that ancient practitioners, even under the very best of circumstances, had to live with the longing as well. Perhaps they enjoyed some advantage in that they were part of a society that deeply appreciated them with the knowledge that practitioners’ lives had to be that way. But we know somehow that those practitioners were just as plagued by solitary longing as many of us are today. I’ll leave you with one last glimpse as Moondog reflects on the things he had to do in effort to retrieve his Gobetween from another time.

“I had drifted through summer in the thrall of sleep. The memory of my long journey through the villages came and went like the morning mist on the river. Were it not for the thick new scars and the tattooed magic forever visible under my skin I would have believed that all had been a reverie. I had no substantial recollection of the offerings I had made to enlist the support of our people, only that I had given and they had taken, both freely, so that my clan could have its best chance at survival.”

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Responses to “Solitary Longing”

  1. Angela Cheetham Wilkinson June 20th, 2013 - 9:13 pm

    Quite extraordinary the way the reader is pushed and pulled through solitude, longing, intimacy and passion and again, to being alone.
    I’m not pretending to have a full understanding of this chapter but I was gripped or moved by some of the phrases, for example, ‘ … thank you for the Weaving Woman who fed the famine in my body’ .. a beautiful expression of gratitude by a hungry soul.
    As ever, the description of life, feelings and responses to a garden (though so many might not even notice all this often hidden, or even secret, life) tell us that this author has a close spiritual relationship with the natural world.

    • Thank you Angela. I do indeed have a close spiritual relationship with the natural world. Are you aware that this essay is in the blog: The Depth and Breadth of Ancestral Airs? Your comment made me think you might have thought it was a chapter of Letters to the Unborn. Does it actually matter? Not a bit. It is all the same story, isn’t it?

  2. Angela Cheetham Wilkinson June 21st, 2013 - 8:34 pm

    Yes, I see your point.
    Although I didn’t think myself reading from Letters to the Unborn, yes yes, it’s the same story – the wealth of experience you have, interwoven with knowledge, interlaced with speculation, with love and a depth of spirituality which is oftimes moving.
    Whatever the ‘story’ what I feel is that it’s always ‘your story’.