16 February 2011

Arrows in the Dark Woods

"Princess Louise Henriette of Orange
as the Goddess Diana" by Willem
van Honthorst, 1643.
There’s another full moon tomorrow night. I can’t see the sky right now through the window, but I know it’s out there, slowly growing fatter. While walking back to my room across campus from dinner last night, I fixed my eyes on the sky, dwelling on first my favorite constellation—my beloved Orion—and then, of course, the ever beautiful, ever changing face of the moon, and I knew. Two more days. Now, one. I can feel it in my blood, even without the aid of the moon-phase tracker on my homepage and decorating the sidebar of my blog layout.

I don’t pretend to be some powerful mystic, but I firmly believe that all things are connected, and that when we try, when we focus, when we open ourselves up to possibility, we can tap into those connections. We can feel the cycles, the patterns, and follow along the threads through the web that forms the fabric of the universe. I am a woman; I have cycles, tied to the moon. Thus, I am tied to the moon. The oceans are tied to the moon through the tides. It’s gravity. It’s string theory. It’s the binding, blinding glow. This all feels so much like common knowledge and simple wisdom to me, like the deepest, purest truth, that I can’t understand how so few of us feel it. Why can’t everyone see the patterns? Even though I don’t see them perfectly—I don’t think anyone really can—I know they’re there; I feel them, I can touch them sometimes, I can make out the shiny threads of life through the fog of human comprehension. Why am I one of few?

Gazing at the full moon or even just meditating on that gorgeous ball of reflected light always makes me feel closer to Diana. The Huntress has called to me since before I knew how to listen, and the older I get, the more I realize that. I think she had singled me out before I was born and tried to subtly prepare my family for it, starting as far back as my grandparents, perhaps even farther. My grandfather was a very talented artist, and his specialty was wood working. I’m told our styles are very similar, especially the way we portray trees and people (about the only two things I draw with any talent, in my opinion…although I’m beginning to develop some skill with mountains and sky). He passed away when I was seven, but he left behind myriad works of art that now litter with memories the basement of my childhood home, my aunt’s house, and my uncle’s house. He left us statues, paintings, carved trays, even a full-size wooden bar (I plan on stealing that one when I have my own place and am no longer changing states every couple years).

One statue my grandfather carved long ago, way back when my mother was young, was a statue of Diana hunting. Most of his art was grounded in real life, in things and people and places he saw, like an old cottage hidden in a dark woods, or a portrait of my uncle as a child, or their family dog chasing chickens across the farm yard. Sometimes his carvings were abstract but elaborate experiments in texture and medium, and usually they served a purpose. A table, a tray, a bowl. I’ve always loved the statue of Diana; I would stare at it when we went to visit my grandparent’s house for hours. She was meant to be a lamp, but the lamp part was never finished. He carved her from a big block of hardwood. She stands with one arm clutched to her breast and her other outstretched towards the sky. Her feet are bare, pressed into the mottled base, textured just like forest underbrush. A large cat—my grandmother always told me it was a leopard—follows close behind her, its face serene. Diana’s own face is calm and knowing with a slight smirk, and there’s a wildflower stuck behind her right ear. The statue, however, is now imperfect. A wheel chair accident and a dog that liked to chew everything his teeth could reach took their toll, and so Diana’s outstretched hand is snapped off, lost somewhere to time, and the leopard’s ears are missing as well. However, the statue holds a close place to my heart, and after my grandfather’s death was bequeathed to me. It sits in my old room back in my parents’ house, and I’ll be taking it with me when I move to Texas next fall.

Oh, Diana. May your shining face always illuminate the dark woods, and may your arrows fly swift and true for the necessary kill. Death and decay, rebirth, growth. Life.

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