Hawk Eye. Gazelle Legs.

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There was a specific day this weekend that everything made sense, and it was a fleeting moment of clarity that came and went by just a little too fast like the moment when you see the sun glimmer off the wings of a hawk flying swiftly on the wind and you wished it would come back but now it’s gone. 

That’s why we have memory. 

I used to have these moments of clarity all the time. They stayed. Those hawks stayed on an eternal wall of wind right in front of my face. The only people there to tell me otherwise were the vortices of cheatgrass whispering in the breeze. The only thing that blinded my sight was dust and my own long, brown hair tangling and running away from my runaway caboose of a mind. No one understands how these hours pass. 

This is solitude, the opening to a sojourning prayer. Meditation. 

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Saturday I ran nine miles up into the mountains on a dirt road and single track trail. I lost a bracelet on the way up. It was windy…warranting a capilene but hot enough to warrant a hand bottle. I reached the top of the ridge, tiptoeing on spines of rock and looking out over the town. Thinking of nothing. This space, close to heavens, barely grounded, is where I like to be. I can vaguely see my red cow gate from here, and, to my joy, no one is near it. These places are sacred. This is communion with whatever is holy. I go to places where no one has been likely to take the effort and the time to go. And when I get there, I laugh, cry, talk, or simply keep running. 

But just briefly, and even in accidentally losing the attachment of the worldly on the way up, I could talk to God (whoever it is). The only one who belongs up there is me and things I made. And I remember every word that was said to me. I wrote them down and I’ve gone through them in my mind nonstop since I left. 

There’s a rugged wind and heat that will rip you to shreds if you stay out long enough. I plan on being freckled and windburned and leathery when I get older. I plan on being small and strong and sinewy and gazelle-like because in doing so I am able to access the places that make me think…the places that give me the strength to stand up for myself. 

One of the only things I really believe myself to be good at in mind, body, and spirit is running up mountains for hours. Letting the wind whip my face. Letting the sun and sweat sting my skin. These journeys were meant to be taken alone. Sojourns.  

And from the top, I can see everything. You. I’ve been in the town for a long time, and it messes with my hermit mind…being in the dregs, bleaching like deer skulls in the desert sun. I am insular. I am strong. I am vulnerable. And it’s time to head for the ridges. 

From Rilke:

For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.

I love you. All of you. 

J. Bird 

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Study of Irish, Hindu, and Buddhist Deer Symbolism. The Cloven Nature of Karma and Reality in Love, Loss, and Living.

BOOK XVIII. PAṆṆĀSANIPĀTA.

No. 526.

NAḶINIKĀ-JĀTAKA.

 

In this story, a sage lives alone in the Himālayas, there is semen in the urine he passes, and a deer who happens to eat the grass in that place gets pregnant from it. A human boy is later born to the deer and he is brought up in complete seclusion from mankind, and most importantly, from womankind.

The boy’s ascetic power becomes so great that Sakka (the Buddhist Indra) in his heaven is worried by it and causes a drought to occur in the country and blames it on the boy. He then convinces the King to send his daughter to seduce him and to break his power. The King and his daughter accept Sakka’s reasoning and in good faith – and for the benefit of the country – agree to the plot.

The girl dresses up as an ascetic and while the Father (the Bodhisatta) is away gathering roots and fruits in the forest, she manages to seduce the boy, who has never seen a woman before. Through their revelling the boy does indeed loose his powers, the girl then makes off, and when his Father returns the boy who has become infatuated with his new friend, tells him all about it, only to be instructed and rebuked by his Father, and repent his actions.

This is not the only story of Isisiṅga that appears in the Jātakas, there is another, and somewhat similar, story just a few pages before, and which is referred to in our story. That is Jātaka 523, the Alambusājātaka, but there Sakka chooses a heavenly nymph to seduce the ascetic. The outcome is the same, the sage is seduced, repents and Sakka is thwarted, but some reason he does not seem upset, in fact he grants a boon to the seductress.

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Interesting outcome. And by interesting, I mean uncannily resonant. 

Then I wrote this: 

Jenna Penielle Lyons

Dr. Torma

Pre-Norman Irish Literature

April 29, 2013

Analysis of Oisin

Oisin:

Traveller Through Time and Leaper of Cultural Fences 

 “This youth received the name of Oisin, and in time he became the sweet singer of the Fianna of Erinn” (“The Youth of Oisin”). Oisin is the narrator of many of the stories in the Finn Cycle—the “sweet singer of the Fianna of Erinn.” Two important aspects of Oisin include his association with the otherworld and his connection with deer. We analyze his identities in both Oisín in Tir na nÓg and “The Birth of Oisin,” gleaning information about his identity as both a traveller between and among worlds—the worlds of time and space, and the worlds of symbolism and culture.  His manifestation as the voice of the Fenian Cycle is cloven in a herd of diverse fashions.

In the most famous of the Oisin echtras, Oisín in Tir na nÓg, Oisin visits the “Land of Youth” (Tir na nÓg).  In this tale, he is visited by Níamh Chinn Óir (Niamh of the Golden Hair). Says she loves him, and through their union, they give birth to Oscar and Plor na mBan (flower of women).  After what seems like three days to Oisin, he returns to Ireland, only to find out that it has actually been 300 years. Niamh gives him a white horse named Embarr, and tells him that if he gets off it, time will catch up to him and he will become an old man. Later, while helping some men build a road, he accidentally falls off and becomes old, just as Niamh had warned.  The horse goes back to Tir na nÓg.

There are several different explanations for the time travelling aspect of Oisín in Tir na nÓg. One of the most likely readings is one written by Dáithí Ó hÓgáin.  

In “Magic Attributes of the Hero in Fenian Lore”, Dáithí Ó hÓgáin writes of

Oisin as a member of the Fennia who had the gift of ‘the grace of God,’ which refers to the idea that he had survived into Christian times and had been baptised. Indeed, “[o]ral tradition developed its own explanation as to how he had managed to bridge the time-gap” and according to this, in the process of returning from the Tir na nÓg back to Earth, he sojourned for three hundred years in the otherworld—much as other characters in the same era of Irish tradition were had done; “[i]t was especially easy for this motif to become attached to Oisin, for he was always allowed in Fenian lore to have a special connection with the otherworld” (234-235). So, in effect, Oisin is another example of a character in Irish mythology that evolves in meaning in order to preserve Irish myth and to incorporate Christian symbolism.

Another tale we look to from the Finn Cycle in order to understand the powers and meaning of Oisin as a figure is “The Birth of Oisin.” In this tale, a druid condemns Oisin’s mother, Sadbh, to a life as both woman and a doe. Finn chases the deer, and one night, she manifests in the form of a fair maiden. The union of Sadbh and Finn, unbeknownst to Finn, results in the birth of Oisin. Saba disappears, and Finn later goes hunting, only to stumble upon his son in the forest. Oisin doesn’t recognize his father because he has been living in meadows with his mother and the Dark Druid for his entire life. It’s true that “[p]hilologists accept that his name ‘Oisin’ meant ‘little fawn’”(Ó hÓgáin 238). Oisin and his mother live double existences as deer and human beings and they are subject to the magic of the Dark Druid.  

A noteworthy symbolic through line to examine is that which connects the Irish symbolism of the deer to Hindu symbolism of the deer. In Celtic mythology, a giantess (bean sidhe) who milked deer could shift into the form of a red deer (McKay 149). Oisin’s mother’s name (Sadbh) is “obviously derived from Sar, a contraction of the Sanskrit word Sāranga (Deer),” and other cross-cultural connections exist: “Finn, of the Kelts, is the father of Ossian (Roscrana) who seems to be the Keltic counterpart of Rishyasringa, son of Bibhandaka. The mother of Ossian was a mythical Doe, and Rishyasringa was “born of a Hind” (Chaplin 217-219). In Hindu belief, the red deer is an obvious pointer to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. Oisin’s stature as a bard or the greatest Irish poet connects with Saraswati’s role in Hindu mythology as the provider of the knowledge with which Brahma crafted the entire universe.

 

Works Cited 

Chaplin, Dorothea. “The Symbolic Deer.” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research

 Institute 24.3/4 (1943): 215-23. Print.

 HÓgáin, Dáithí Ó. “Magic Attributes of the Hero in Fenian Lore.” Béaloideas: An

Cumann Le Béaloideas Éireann/The Folklore of Ireland Society (1986): 207-

 42. Print.       

 J. G. McKay, “The Deer-Cult and the Deer-Goddess Cult of the Ancient

 Caledonians”Folklore 43.2 (June 1932), pp. 144-17

Work on the Soul. Reflection.

Hello, pretty bluebirds. 

I’m in Pocatello about to head out on a long trail run with Juno. I found myself lost in my own head in Missoula on Friday night, so I did a night drive down here so I could focus and get some work done and spend some time at the red gate. 

And I thought about a lot of things on that drive in the dark. The moon was [nearly] full and yellow. I thought about the fact that in a week, I will be done with school. In just over a week, I get to sign my life over to the government and hotshot for about 150 days, which will be emotionally hard in and of itself come mid-August. I thought about all the people I know and love…how many people in Missoula I won’t see for months or maybe never again. And most of all, I thought about an impulse that I’ve developed over the past few years and more especially in the past few months that I don’t think is a good one.  

And that’s running. 

No, not running for fitness. Running away from problems, running away from people, and running away from confronting issues I have with others and myself. And I decided that every problem in my life would have had a different outcome had I stayed and dealt with the issue…had I decided not to bail on things that were frustrating. By silencing others and leaving, we place ourselves in  solitude and our own thoughts. And I’ve learned that that is a dangerous place to be. 

Right now is one of the most emotional times in my life–a huge turning point that I have no idea what to do with or how to handle. This should be an exciting time for me; even though I graduated in only five semesters and college flew by, I somehow feel like I missed out on a lot of the things that college kids do (I don’t even know what that is). I felt the same way after my high school graduation. I think I went to bed at 9 p.m. the night of my high school graduation, and this year, I don’t get to go to my graduation. I guess I view other things as bigger, more important events in life. I’ve always been more excited to go hike up the mountain and photograph flowers with my dog or to walk/bike down to the College Market and get a shot in the dark than I have been to graduate or go to parties or even perform in ballets. 

I always look at others, couples in specific, and I think to myself: “It must be so easy to have someone right by your side all the time…someone to hang out with everywhere you go and to do everything with.” And I think those people are blessed–or appear to be. But for some reason, I think some people end up alone. Maybe it’s destiny. Maybe it’s our own fault. Maybe it’s because if you run away, people don’t feel like chasing you because it is an insecure place to be. When someone who holds a special place in your heart wishes for you to have peace within that same heart and you react with anger, you know something is wrong. When you run away from someone because it hurts you to be away from them emotionally, you know something is wrong. That’s not how I used to be. School turned me into a mess. Stress turned me into someone I am not. And for anyone who experienced the effects of that, I am sorry. I’m trying to fix it…to get back to how I was last autumn and winter. It’s a process. This semester ran me into the ground physically and emotionally. I am tired. 

And so another year of intermittent traveling and being rootless begins…this coming Friday. Last year I was excited to embark on a huge journey alone, and this year, it seems like it would be better to rent a warehouse space and paint every day in it, go to yoga twice a day, run for half the day, ride motorcycles, write poetry with my English degree that I now have no idea what to do with, have someone to go skiing with every weekend, and just live in one place and enjoy it for a year or more. To enjoy a place, someone special within it, and to be rooted and happy and authentic with a cup of tea and each other’s love at the end of the day. To quit running. 

A couple months ago, it was a really cold night and we were drinking tea by a fire and someone asked me what I truly wanted my life to be like. I said that I wanted to have a family. That was true, but what I really should have said:

“[…]rent a warehouse space and paint every day in it, go to yoga twice a day, run for half the day, ride motorcycles, write poetry with my English degree that I now have no idea what to do with, have someone to go skiing with every weekend, and just live in one place and enjoy it for a year or more. To enjoy a place, someone special within it, and to be rooted and happy and authentic with a cup of tea and each other’s love at the end of the day.” 

Articulating the things you want–from the depths of your heart–is something I have never known how to do. Until now. I have something to work toward, and it involves doing less work for awhile. Or doing the right kind of work. Work for the soul. 

There’s a difference between running and wandering. It’s an art to be able to know that difference. I think after hotshotting season is over, I am going to be doing some hardcore chilling and resting; five more months of this kind of work and stress will send me straight to oblivion. 

A year and a half of running makes one extremely tired. I can attest to that. 

I love you. 

Do work for your own soul, and you can have the souls and love of others with you. I’m trying. 

End.

There is an end to everything. And with those ends, new life and new beginnings. I’ll meet you in that field someday. You’ll feel the wind and see little birds and you’ll know I’m there. 

Goodbye, bluebirds. Shine bright. Sing loud. Fly high. 

 

I love you. 

Trajectory.

I just got home from the most beautiful evening trail run. It’s amazing…for a town of people who supposedly love mountain sports, it sure is hard to find a running/mountain biking partner who isn’t under age 45. I’ll never forget my first marathon (I was 15!), my first 50 (I was 17!), and my first triathlon (Also 15!), and I miss that feeling!!! Now that I am 20, I feel like an old lady, mostly because I haven’t been devoting as much time to running and riding. I still feel very strong on the bike, but as far as running goes, I have some transforming to do. I miss the days when I used to be fast…here’s a pic from each of those awesome races…they were firsts that I will never forget!!! 

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I really miss the support of my friends and family. I think I am more hesitant to do races here because I really don’t know anyone. In Pocatello, the endurance community was so tightly-knit. I loved it. I am excited to be back there for the summer and maybe the fall as well. 

I guess it’s Thursday night (so, the Missoula weekend begins today) and people are beginning a three day drinking marathon…not a scene this hermit girl is into. That being said, it was rather nice to go scamper for a couple hours by myself. I haven’t ran that hard in awhile, and I really miss running or riding hard every day–sometimes twice a day. I am excited to be done with school because it will give me a chance to run, ride, and climb at the level I used to…without getting hurt.  

Being done with school is another thing I haven’t really talked about on The Lyon’s Roar. I have a week left; I have to leave two weeks early so I can sign my life over to the government and begin five months of fun back on Snake River Hotshots. I’ve always been in school, and this coming year will be the first year I won’t be going back. However, I think I’ve decided what I want to do the following year, and it involves gaining residency in Colorado so I can get my MA in this program starting in 2014: 

http://coursecatalog.naropa.edu/religious-studies/graduate-programs/ma-religious-studies-language-indo-tibetan-buddhism/requirements

I am really excited because I think Boulder will be a place I can truly pursue my interests as a writer, a lover of yoga, an artist, and someone who loves to run and ride. I think it will be a supportive community. Though I am sure I will end up back in Missoula at some point because I want to teach at this university, I think it will be good to leave for awhile and gain some perspective, some new friends, and some fresh air (and a Master’s Degree that isn’t offered here). 

But I’m leaving Missoula in a week, and I’ll miss some things, and I won’t miss other things (i.e. the 80% chance of it being overcast at any given point in the day, and the alcoholism). I’m off to see some friends and enjoy what is left of the sunshine. Have a wonderful evening. 

I love you. All of you! 

Also, check this out: 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIOH77vrRJw

Realizations. Books. Paths.

 

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So today I was reading this book, Women of Wisdom. Thank you, B, for letting me borrow it.  

This is what it is about, from taramandala.org: 

“WOMEN OF WISDOM by Tsultrim Allione is an exploration and celebration of the spiritual potential of women as exemplified by the lives of six Tibetan female mystics. These women achieved full illumination despite cultural prejudices and a host of other problems that male practitioners do not encounter, and their stories are an inspiration to everyone on the spiritual path.

Tsultrim Allione’s extensive autobiography, preface and introduction about her own difficulties and triumphs along the path speak directly to women in the West who pursue a spiritual life. WOMEN OF WISDOM offers valuable insights to all those interested in women’s spirituality, regardless of background or tradition.” 

Needless to say, this book brought about tears and realizations for me. As soon as I had read even the preface (written by a former nun who gave up her vows to become a mother), I was bombarded by an onslaught of tears and realizations about my own struggles as a human, a woman, an artist, and a young adult. I share a lot with you in this space, but I don’t often share things like this. I’ve been searching for meaning, for contentment, for happiness…and I know how to find it. It’s different for everyone, and sometimes it’s hard to realize what we have to do to attain the greatest joys–the greatest love. 

I don’t fit in with people my own age…never have. Sometimes I go days feeling like I am gazing into space, thinking about things in a different world, and living outside of what is real. That’s okay, I think. I believe that most serious writers, artists, etc. live in a different dimension; there are studies to prove that and other things about the psychological states of artists, particularly those involved in writing on a scale that supersedes and takes precedent over all other events in their lives. But this book–and a series of events in the past couple years–have led me to seek some changes in my own life that will lead to the betterment of the world, the eradication of my own fears, insecurities, and attachments, and a more serious exploration of one of the world’s richest cultures. Reading this today made me realize what it will take to become grounded. 

My life is going to change dramatically upon graduation…a path that will lead me across the world and [maybe] back again. 

I love you. All of you. 

J. Bird