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Posts Tagged ‘ancestors’

(meant to be chanted in a pattern with 1 measure of 6/8 followed by two measures of 2/8. ONE two three FOUR five six ONE two ONE two, repeat. The last word in a phrase gets a breath after it, or held. “BREAD of my MOUTH (breath) MOTHer MOTHer”)

Bread of my mouth

mother, mother.

Dust of my bones

mother, mother.

Blood of my thighs

mother, mother.

Salt of the earth,

mother, mother.

 

Wrap me in arms

mother, mother.

Feast on my heart

mother, mother.

Devour me whole

mother, mother.

Build me anew

mother, mother.

 

Spin me in silks

mother, mother.

Drape me in rags

mother, mother.

Warm me in life

mother, mother.

Cradle my death

mother, mother.

 

Gave to me birth

mother, mother.

Created my flesh

mother, mother.

Under my feet

mother, mother.

You are my world

mother, mother.

 

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What follows is a story I told at a Lammas ritual,  a ritual designed to focus on the past and future roots of community, and our own responsibility to our worlds and tribes. When I told it in the ritual, it was interspersed with a song many of you probably know, Breath, found here, which was entirely appropriate for the ritual. However, here, on its own, I have interspersed it instead with a hymn, #760 in Wonder, Love, and Praise (which I normally hate with a passion, but every so often it comes through for me). I think it works well.

In the darkness that followed the beginning of the world, there arose a great clamor; a roaring in the heavens, the sound of chariot wheels racing across the sky. In the midst of the furious noise there came a great flash, and a BANG that reverberated throughout the realms.

Lightning had struck the earth.

At dawn, the ancestors crept out from their dwellings, leaving the tents and shelters behind, and made their way to the fields. The earth was damp with the rain from the night before, the waters of the world sinking into the dirt. They came to the place where the ground had been struck, and put their hands out and touched it.

It was warm.

They marveled, taking each hand in turn and pressing it to the heated ground. Surely, this was a sign.

One of them spoke a flurry of words, sudden and excited, and went running back to the camp, returning quickly with palms cupped and eyes bright. Putting out her hands, she showed them all what she had brought- a small cluster of seeds.

The others began to smile.

They found more seeds, and dragged rows, planting them in the dirt with a smile and a prayer and a song. All that morning they watched them, watched with sharp eyes as the seeds sent up shoots, small and green, unfurling in the light of the rising sun. They watched, and they waited.
oh wheat, whose crushing was for bread
oh bread, whose breaking is for life
oh life, your seeming end is seed
a seed for wheat, our bread is life
By the afternoon, the shoots were waist-high and sturdy, and the ancestors were delighted. They plucked the weeds from between the rows, and they propped up the wilting stalks. they watered the shoots that were getting too much sun, and trimmed back the trees where they shaded the corners of the field. They built a man out of twigs, and posted him at the end of the field to keep the birds away. They hoed and shooed and weeded and smiled and laughed. They took hands and danced, ringing around the field and singing, the Earth is our Mother, Thunder our Father, the fields are our bodies, the harvest our joy.
oh fruit, whose crushing was for wine
oh wine, whose flowing is for blood
oh blood, you’re pouring out is life
our life in you, oh fruitful vine

As the sun moved across the sky, the harvest ripened. When the first shadows of the mountains hit the edge of the field, the ancestors grasped their scythes and waded into the tall stalks. They moved as one, blades swinging in the deadly dance of foot to foot, stalk to ground. It was a long work, but then the field was finished, all of the ripened grain standing in bundles in the now-empty field. They wiped the sweat from their brows, and stood around, nodding in pleased exhaustion at the great work they had done.
As they gathered up the sheaves and carried them to the village, one woman stayed behind, plucking the last of the stalks from the ground and fashioning them into the shape of a small doll. It made her smile, there in the twilight, and so she brought it with her as she followed the rest out of the field.

oh life, whose crushing was for love
oh love, whose spending was to death
oh death, your mourning is our joy
full joy in birth to lasting life

And as the night darkened, the sound of merry-making rose from the small cluster of houses- the sound of revelry as the grain was crushed and needed, husked and fermented. and as they baked their bread, and drank their beer, they laughed and smiled and sang. They shouted and danced, because they knew that this was only the beginning- they knew that just as they had tended and watched and strengthened and reaped, so too they would do again, and again, and again. and so too would their children, and their children’s children. That as they rejoiced in the cycle of growth and sacrifice, they were bringing new life to the world at the cost of their own.
We are the spark of lightning in the earth; we are the growing shoots. We are the crops, standing tall in the fields, receiving our ancestors songs. We are the grain at harvest, the kernels crushed and pounded into flour, we are the loaves of bread and the cups of mead. The ancestors sacrifice themselves for us, because we are our ancestors harvest. And we will do the same.

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