Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lilac Drunk - the Five of Swords

It's been a radiantly clear evening. Mountains like black cutouts edged with silver against a sky like back-lit lavender lucite, crescent moon slipping down the cold spring air, swooning into lilac evening, the Kootenay River winding away, blinding, unbearable in the sunset, now a moving silver mirror going to find the sea.

The region I live in is called the Kootenays. It gets its name from the K't'naha people who lived here once. Kootenay Lake is a great axe-cut between the Purcell Mountains and the Selkirks. Unimaginably deep, glacially cold except for a very thin skin warmed in the summer, a tectonic fault lies at its bottom, hot springs rise from the ground around it. The north end of the lake rises into what might, without hyperbole, be called God's Country. Wild roses, glacier lilies, lupins, alpine meadows ringed with glaciers blazing in the sun. Moose and wolverine and elk and caribou, otter and marten and cougar.

It lifts my heart to know it's all there, and breaks it to know I can't go there any more. That me who used to ramble the back-country in a rusty truck with four-wheel drive, making ridiculous death-defying runs across broken logging roads, stealing huckleberries from under the noses of the grizzlies, juming naked and screaming into tiny alpine lakes so cold they burned off your skin, that me lives in my dreams, where he can still see.

The Sword of Geburah has broken my heart, to release the new one. This is the work of the Five of Swords. Aleister Crowley depicts this card as a rose penetrated by five swords. The wild rose has five petals. It flowers around the time of my birthday. When my son was in a coma from meningitis I was put in contact with an old Blackfoot woman in the prairies. Bathe him in wild rose, she said. If you can't get petals, get leaves, simmer them. I did, and put them in a special bottle, and washed him down when the nurses weren't looking.

The Five of Swords will break your heart for sure, but it will heal it afterwards.. Blood, and tears, and the water of birth, and the rose so willing to sacrifice itself.

I'm drunk on the lilac evening.

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