I thought the other day that there were three ghosts which had visited during the Christmas holidays -- and the very slight effort I made to be mindful of the tradition of the solstice effect, which is that the equal duration of dark and light make it a liminal period during which spirits may ascend and descend from the heavens to earth, to the underworld and back again as they wish. Dickens "Christmas Carol", which did as much to create Christmas as we now celebrate it than probably any other event, plugs directly into this other tradition of Christmas as the point in time when spirits may pierce the veil. This is one reason that we like him.
I was thinking that it was my father who had visited, and my grandmother, and a young man I barely knew who died years ago, and then I "saw" my old boss walking down 17th Street, as he was in the 1970s, in the person of someone else who looks exactly like he did when he was alive, 35 years ago.
And because I didn't write it down, I can't now remember who the ghosts were or how they visited.
This is the result of having nothing on my mind but the Aged Parent's 2007 taxes. Just to make sure I understood the lesson, when I went to take them to the convenient post office (parking space, no line, far away suburban) on Boxing Day I found it closed. Somehow, if there has been any obstacle that could be winkled out.....well I'm not even going there. I finally got her taxes mailed off yesterday and can now begin my own Christmas.
I began last night with a viewing of Doctor Atomic
and stayed way past my bedtime to do so.
I continued this morning with a croissant, and not sober oatmeal toast, for breakfast, and contemplated the embellishment of the edges of the Clun Forest chevre-scented 'ghan, specially conformed for getting through the holidays sane. Looking at Sophie Callaghan
wearing her embellished blanket, I have decided that the east and west edges of the ghan shall be trimmed as alternate versions of a Demeter costume. You won't really be able to see it when the ghan lies folded on the back of a chair, disguised as a slightly funky granny ghan.
So the ghan, as shamanistic Demeter garment, would be worn shawl style over the head, and this edge and how to embellish it is what I'm thinking about. There's a vernal equinox edge, which I think will have tulle, hand-crocheted ecru lace along the edge, and two large white felt poppies over the ears. There will be ribbons to tie under the chin, perhaps, perhaps embroidered in palest green,
There will be some kind of cuffs, perhaps knitted, on the corners of the ghan to affix the ghan to your wrists so the hands can be kept free to make the signs embroidered on the cuff:Bless
The opposite edge of the ghan will be trimmed in fake fur, 1 1/4 inch arctic fox
, perhaps a velvet edging scalloped to resemble icicles, with a crystal drop at the point, white felt pomegranates with sequin seeds over the ears, chin ribbons embroideredGoodbye Persephone
and cuffs embroidered, right and left, either Sock
or Trust No Men
which is the preferred tattoo of the Asian Gyrlz Gangsta Crips.
What do you think?
My project today is sweet potato bisque, to try and remember the ghosts, make notes for the Christmas memoir, and work on my Christmas tree decorations. This year, the Lalique dragonfly angel topper, the one-inch voodoo dolls, and the lords-a-leaping garland.
Right now I am embroidering, in glow in the dark floss, on cream coloured charmeuse, the maker's mark pennant for the ghan: Clun Forest Sheeps' Wool + Touchstone Farm + Amissville, Virginia + 2008
You see how the Blackadder lends itself to really hot embroidery letters. And these are Blue Ridge Mountain sheep, as am I. This wearing of the terroir, crafting a garment of wool grown where I was born, touches on the protective and transformational as well as liminal powers that knitting and crochet have. I'm thinking of the Irish fisherladies and the patterns they knit into the sweaters (waterproof with lanolin, yeah!) they make for their men. Ritual labor indeed.
Perhaps invisible, or liminal, is the way this concentration on one-eighth-inch portions of the world, releases something akin to what James describes as Saint John of the Cross' (? Ignatius Loyola?) meditation methods. There will be a reporters' notebook beside the embroidery scissors to record the recollection of the ghosts.*
[Spelunking in James for the precise quote, I come up with this socko one by R. L. Stevenson, whose reputation is rising:[As I go on in this life, day by day, I become more of a bewildered child; I cannot get used to this world, to procreation, heredity, to sight, to hearing; the commonest things are a burthen. The prim, the obliterated, polite surface of life, and the broad, bawdy, and orgiastic -- or maenadic -- foundations, form a spectacle to which no habit reconciles me.
[I point out that I would know nothing about R.L. Stevenson if I hadn't written the Christmas -- Halloween -- memoir of Aunt Cherie
, and went spelunking in my father's childhood. Stevenson -- nor indeed Swinburne. Certainly they -- the ghosts of Christmas past -- have been the greatest gift of LJ to me.]
____________________ Yes, Loyola:
In the Christian church there have always been mystics. Although many of them have been viewed with suspicion, some have gained favor in the eyes of the authorities. The experiences of these have been treated as precedents, and a codified system of mystical theology has been based upon them, in which everything legitimate finds its place. The basis of the system is "orison" or meditation, the methodical elevation of the soul towards God. Through the practice of orison the higher levels of mystical experience may be attained. It is odd that Protestantism, especially evangelical Protestantism, should seemingly have abandoned everything methodical in this line. Apart from what prayer may lead to, Protestant mystical experience appears to have been almost exclusively sporadic. It has been left to our mind-curers to reintroduce methodical meditation into our religious life.
The first thing to be aimed at in orison is the mind's detachment from outer sensations, for these interfere with its concentration upon ideal things. Such manuals as Saint Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises recommend the discipleexpel sensation by a graduated series of efforts to imagine holy scenes. The acme of this kind of discipline would be a semi-hallucinatory mono-ideism -- an imaginary figure of Christ, for example, coming fully to occupy the mind. Sensorial images of this sort, whether literal or symbolic, play an enormous part in mysticism. But in certain cases imagery may fall away entirely, and in the very highest raptures it tends to do so. The state of consciousness becomes then insusceptible of any verbal description. Mystical teachers are unanimous as to this.
p. 397, http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=JamVari.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=all