“Paths of the Dead”

For a few days now I’ve been trying to remember the times in my life when I was happy. They’re few and far between, it turns out, or at least the ones that I can remember. But I kept thinking about it, and just now remembered how happy I have always been during the first months or years of my loving relationships. It’s the nesting—the building of a safe, warm, and happy home for the two of us. That’s a pattern—nesting does make me happy, more than any other prolonged activity. (There are other happy times, of course—being with horses, for example—but those have been, for the most part, single events and not of any duration.)

So that’s the first insight.

I’ve also been thinking and puzzling over why I am SO passionate over these book nooks. (A book nook, in the broadest sense, is a small, enclosed diorama that takes up approximately the space of a book on one’s bookshelf.) And mine are not just any scene from a movie or a dollhouse miniature—mine all have the theme of being outdoors in a safe and beautiful place. It makes sense on the surface: Since childhood I have loved being outdoors and pretty much always feel safe and peaceful there. But my fascination with them feels like more than that—and a psychologist friend and I have been talking about their similarity to Jungian sand-tray work. So I kept feeling into the question….

Down in the kitchen just now I was washing a drinking glass that dates from the early 1970s—my first husband and I purchased a set of these at a kind of “dollar store” before we were married. This glass is the only one I have left from the set, and I wondered why I keep it—that’s when the “nesting” thing hit me.

At the same time, I’m involved in a fascinating discussion about book nook lighting issues in my group on Facebook, and specifically thinking about how to light my current work in progress, entitled “Paths of the Dead.” Inspired by a scene in Lord of the Rings but set in the time and location of my ancient ancestors, this nook will portray a scene in which a young couple (with their infant in arms) is fleeing SOMETHING down a narrow gorge in the mountains through which they must pass, despite their terror. I’ve been trying to understand why they’re doing it—what are they fleeing, and why? And where are they going?—and have been asking Grandmother Taz (in whose time and place the scene is set) to help me listen in closely so that I can understand it better. So far, no dreams or conversations have happened, and I’ve been disappointed….

But this morning, a “flash of light”: Putting the “nesting” thing and the “terror” thing together, it occurs to me that my nesting is about creating the safe space that I never experienced as a child. And so are the first two of my nooks. “Sanctuary,” the first one, is about a quiet and lovely space in the woods where I can go and be alone or with my horse. “Midnight’s Paddock” (“Old Friends”) is about a dreamy location where Midnight the Horse (and I, hiding in the trees) can experience the love of a human family but also run free in the woods.

As a logical, psychological extension or next step in this story line, “Paths of the Dead” represents fleeing from some deadly terror into a wilderness where even Nature doesn’t feel safe. Wow…no wonder it frightens me and draws me in at the same time! It likely mirrors something, or some feeling, from my childhood experience…and something that carries over into the present time in some fashion.

Thank you, Grandmother Taz and my other Guides, for your help. That help doesn’t always come in the way that I expect or want, but it’s always there if I’m open and listening.  

Onwards, now, to see what’s down that frightening path….

2 thoughts on ““Paths of the Dead”

  1. Mike Shell says:

    Thanks for this, Kay.

    For me, it is in my fiction writing that I discover these hints and insights. Jim was asking me the other day why I don’t publish my stories. “Because I write them for me,” I answered. “They tell me about inner stuff I haven’t been able to articulate yet. I’m not sure they are for anyone else.”

    However, I have published stories on my “Walhydra’s Porch” blog https://emptypath.net/walhydras-porch/ (now in limbo since my Mom died 10 years ago…has it been THAT long?!).

    True to form, those stories usually start with my grouchy witch alter-ego Walhydra complaining about or lamenting something she doesn’t understand.

    I often started with just the first sentence, and I rarely knew where the stories would go until they were finished. But they almost always end with Walhydra saying begrudgingly, “Oh, alright…!”

    Blessings, Mike

  2. I hear you, Mike. Yes, you shared one (or more?) of Walhydra’s stories a year or two ago. This kind of work sure does help us make sense of the apparently senseless things that happen….

    The way you describe your writing as a way of discovering hints and insights–that’s happened for me, also–most notably in periods where my ability to contact the Guides/the imaginal world has failed me. Usually, for me, the words come after the images or visions; sometimes concurrently.

    Thank goodness we have these ways of … what? Investigation? Communication? Understanding, for sure, even if it’s partial and still confusing. Otherwise, for me, life would be pretty close to unbearable at times.

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