Pilgrimage to the Black Madonna
excerpt from book in progress as i am writing it in France
in any language or religion, the true name of god is the name of our own mother.
this book is dedicated to my mother, whose name is bella. whose face my eyes have not seen for 12 years at the time of writing this book. her name is bella. i repeat her name, i pray to her, for her, i circle her madness in my life. tough crazy gypsy witch god fearing woman, may you be blessed and may you bless me, your daughter. amen.
i have seen when they burned me in past lives, when i was tied to the stake and shamed, as if fire could drown my spirit, which returns lifetime after lifetime, wrapped in a new body of flesh and bone. "they" are the non-believers, the ones afraid of the great mothers power, the ones afraid of the agreement they made with death to be born, who now are afraid to live and who move through this world with their spirits sleeping, locked inside their insatiable bodies. their souls are thirsty so they drink more wine. their souls are hungry so they eat more food. how alone it must be to not remember who you are, a child of the great mother, the birther of the cosmos. and those non-believers have called us witches, the ones who remember, the ones who worship in her name. they have forgotten the ways of the sacred profane. the symbol of the mother is a snake eating her own tail, through death she is reborn.
Preparation for the pilgrimage
NYC May 20
A hymn for the lovers:
Somewhere between grace and insanity we hover like urban angels testing our leather wings against the blood and cut and guts of the Matrix. We fly to rise and change the world. All we have is love, all we have is prayer. all we have is each other...two become one and kill each other with LOVE to become none. World without End, amen.
love will kill you every time. i turn over in my sleep, my hungry fingers seeking your body for some reassurance that all of this is real. i fly away again tomorrow, or at 1am, it is already today. we stay up so late that tomorrow always becomes today, time doesn't exist when you are already dead. two pirates adrift in a ghost ship, adrift between dreaming and waking. your body is cold to my touch, i am confused. there is no heat, no desire in you. i need your desire now, i want to know you want me, i want to feel safe in our connection before i leave. i run my fingers along the smooth, warm skin of your back, you live inside this skin, but like a house with a locked door, i can't get in. i think of running my fingers lower, to touch the man root of your body, the electric place, but it feels like it would be desperate now, and i don't like being desperate (or at least having anyone know i am). you i think i will die if you break my heart again.
we get out of bed. i sit and watch you roll a cigarette, the loose brown strings of tobacco gently coaxed into the thin paper by your nimble fingers, you bring it to your mouth and lick the edge to seal the cigarette. i want you to touch me like that. i am wretched once again. i feel myself start to go numb, a cool detachment begins to separate me from the heat of heartbreak. i will walk alone again, i know how, i am the priestess, the teacher, i am the brave warrior woman. i know how to do this, how to walk strong, alone, where mere mortals fear to tread. they worship my bravery, my courage, my recklessness. most people are afraid to burn their homes down, i burn them all…yours, mine, ours. i see the lie, the falseness in myself. the free woman…free from what? "be patient with me" i say. "i have been on my own trip for so long. i don't know why i have to go on this trip, but i do. it has to do with my mother". my tongue gets thick and i can't find words for the thing inside me. "i have a hard time trusting. the pain from both my parents being gone is so deep". i have not expected anything but independence, freedom and being alone in this life.
"i don't want you going to places i don't know how to pull you out of yet" you say. "i don't want anything coming between our medicine". "what medicine?" i ask. does he mean the medicine plants he carries? does he mean the tantric goddess lineage i carry, the healing through sexual energy? "the medicine of our connection" he says. the simplicity of what he says pierces my heart. there is a medicine in our loving that is so powerful now. his love is my truth serum, it makes me let go of my layers of protection that guard my soul more than anything does now. in time, everything that is real in the moment becomes an idea, a worn out cloak we forget to remove once the moment is past. this is true even of my role as a teacher and a healer.
"i just want to see you with no clothes on" you say. "i don't want to see you hiding anything". we are standing on the street corner in new york at 2am smoking the hand rolled cigarettes, it could be anywhere. a man and a women wrestling with love. i gently butt my forehead to your chest, to your heart and you hold me, frozen in time. we are immortal. a bar on the corner is playing an old song by cheap trick, "the flame". the gods have orchestrated life's jukebox for us again. "you'll be the first to be the last" the song plays and the words are perfect in the middle of the night in the middle of the street.
we go inside and you take off all your clothes, our skin touches like warm velvet. you stroke me and pull me to you. i grow wet and compliant. i sit astride you, your lingam the blade that pierces me open from root to crown and i move like an animal from deep instruct. sometimes my eyes are closed, sometimes they are rolled back in my head. sometimes i open then and see you, beholding me and it is almost too much to bear, the obliteration of my self into us. two become one and kill each other to become none. your lingam inside me the blade that killed me. my false ego is dead and all we have now is eternity, we died for love. your lingam covered in my blood, there are some agreements older than the rascal time, older than the moon. shiva is the dying god, dying like the emptying of the moon. we merged, the golden serpent laced between our spines. we are the medicine, you are always inside me, always dancing in my spine. i am drowning in happiness, is it possible to be this full? i say, "baby, you are the medicine". you say, "ride it baby, its yours."
NEW YORK CITY May 21
i call a cab to take me to the airport, and have them meet me at the neighborhood mexican food joint. i start practicing my spanish, "uno mas margarita por favor". i gulp it down and grab two fish tacos to go, the cab is waiting outside. i kiss my man goodbye in the street, the look in his eyes pierces me with their grey-blue sincerity, something to come home for. i slip into the yellow cab taking me to another mystery. the cab driver is blasting salsa de columbia. he is from mexico, he speaks to me in spanish, it has already begun. high on tequila and life, i spill out of his cab at the airport.
i land in madrid and start walking with a crumpled piece of paper and an address for a place to sleep tonight. one of my students in hawaii arranged for me to stay at her dance teachers school here in madrid. the air is warm and moist, the old building and cobblestone streets are charming, lovers lay embracing each other on the grassy park lawn. i start to pass two people walking slower than me, i smile to myself. when i was in new york, he said i didn't walk fast enough. here i am walking too fast, i like walking slow better. in my head i tell him, "what's the hurry baby, we're already dead, right?". if we are dead we might as well take our time in life.
i find the school, it has beautiful, big spanish windows and indian patchwork pillows. the dancers from the school take me out to tea and then a hookah bar, where we smoke sweet minty perfumed tobacco from a glass hookah pipe. i suck in a long drag and hold the moist steam deep in my lungs, when i exhale the smoke rises and envelopes me in a fragrance for a moment. the dancers coax each other to get up in the restaurant and do solos for each other, the men who work at the restaurant turn the music up. the women call for me to dance. i am so jet-lagged i am falling asleep in my tea. i ask for more moroccan drums or african drums so i can dance. they find a good song and i rise from the table and stand bare feet on the floor, listening to the beat with the skin of my feet before i begin to move. even if everyone is watching, i am still alone. i don't have my dagger (i didn't want to risk it being confiscated by airport security) so i grab a butter knife from the table. i listen to my feet, the beat and the power of the blade, even a butter knife likes to cut things.
i begin to dance, carving the space around me with the knife. in a swirling world of chaos where anything is possible, i make decisive cuts with my knife, cutting a line from the future to the past. this is a dance of action, holding the sword of time in the formlessness of space. my body starts to move faster, i am sweating from the fire in my spine, the serpent has woken and is dancing through me. my legs lift higher until it is more of a war dance, and why not? you have to be a warrior in this world. i dance for the angels and i dance the demons through me. i slow the dance but keep the heat, so that i can send the power, the shakti, through my hands to one of the dancers sitting near me. i dance a blessings for my spanish sisters, i give them the power surging through me. i stop and they clap. they tell me afterwards it was beautiful to see me dancing alone with god.
there is a peaceful revolution in the streets of madrid, people have built a tent city in one of the main squares. they are protesting all the government parties being corrupt and not representing the people. the night is warm and thick and there is excitement in the air. i stop and dance in the center of the drum circle, everyone is surprised when i say i am american, with my black hair and gold nose ring with a chain that attaches to my earring hoop. the drums beat of a universal language and we are all brothers and sisters in search of freedom. i dance in the cobblestone streets, i dance for their justice, for the uprising of their hope.
i walk back to my room alone, it is after 2am and the streets are being hosed down by giant trucks. i am lost and wandering for awhile. i ask some british tourists if the know the address i am looking for. they are young and pissed drunk. one of the boys drops his jeans in front of me and i walk away, no time to waste with idiocy. i hear them talking behind me, "of course it scares people when you pull down your pants" and "but she doesn't have any fucking shoes on". i smile to myself, i must look strange. i walk through the park under large white statues of horses against the inky black sky. i finally find my room and try to call him before i fall asleep, no answer. i know it is silly, but falling asleep in the strange room in spain, i wonder if he was in the arms of another woman.
MARSEILLES June 23
back at the airport to fly to marseilles, i screwed up and didn't print out my boarding pass and they are charging me 40 euros. i feel like i have the flu from jet lag and i can't afford to be wasting money, my eyes water up but i don't cry. another nervous breakdown from the deconstruction of travel. i pay the fee and wait in line to board the plane. i am exaughsted, my eyes are burning. i tried calling him again, but still haven't gotten through. a little bit of panic runs through my body. "let's not give in to desire" he said when i left. "i am not looking for anything else" he said. i wonder if he will wait for me. "you're off on your own mission" he said the night before i left. i have been on my own trip for so long. now i want to make room for two, but will he wait for me?
i sleep on the plane and wake as we are descending at sunset in marseilles. the earth is pockmarked rocks near the shipping port and looks like a crusty shell from above. the clouds are pink and golden in the abalone sky. we are flying low over the orange-red terra cotta roofs of the french countryside. my phone beeps, it suddenly has reception. in the no mans land of the french airport, i get a text, "baby". my stomach flips. he still loves me! i remember the first time he called me baby, when i got up to get coffee after a night in the magic mushroom medicine together. we hadn't had sex yet, even though i had married him in the medicine, when he held me and the golden serpent laced our spines together.
we were still just flirting around each other when he pulled me to his lap as i was walking by the chair he was sitting in. deep in the melting of the mushroom magic i kept disappearing to a dreamlike place and re-emerging as if i was coming up from deep sea diving. one of the times i went under my mind to my subconscious i saw a vision, i was taking the vows of the priestess, of the lineage and he was there. and i saw he was the one who i could become who i am and be safe with. whether this was a dream born from my desire or a vision of dharmic law existing between us from other lifetimes, i do not know, only time will tell. the next morning, i woke up before him and laid there for hours, wanting to enjoy the thick syrup of breath moving in the space between our bodies. i didn't want to break the spell by moving. finally i got up and was leaving to get coffee, and he opened his eyes. i asked if he wanted coffee, he said, "thanks baby". my stomach fluttered, i liked it when he called me baby even though i didn't know what it meant, our dance still such a young thing and and fragile, i felt like a foal testing it's new legs. he called me baby for a few more days, then disappeared to be back with his ex-lover where his heart was calling him. i went on a two month mission around the world. from the beaches of hawaii to the brothels of kolkata i taught the mothers liberation. when i got back she had broken his heart and now he calls me baby again. will our love survive? i choose to love like a meditation, to see what comes without trying to control. anyways, i write better when i am lonely and longing.
on the train, i find out i made a mistake. i should have taken the train from the airport to arles, not marseilles, i went in the opposite direction, i will have to go to arles tomorrow. the attendant on the train asks what i will do. i say i don't know, maybe sleep on a bench in the station. he says in a heavy french accent, "you must have a lot of courage". "if you were my daughter i would be afraid for you". i tell him i am not afraid, i travel all over the world and always a miracle finds me.
all these rooms look the same...4am in marseilles...sleeping in a mostly clean white box with a somewhat working shower, wifi though. no tv. would be in french anyways...law and order in french would give me an orgasm...
it gets later and still i cannot sleep. it is still the middle of the day in my jet lagged body. i think of what the train man said, about being afraid. sometimes i do get afraid. but then i remember i am psalm fucking isadora! the angels and the demons listen to me.
on my way to the black madonna, i think of my mother. i think of crazy powerful women and gypsy blood and caravans and loyalty and how it is possible sometimes that pain is thicker than blood and we disburse. there are a lot of pretty women in the world, but what about the ones that scare the shit out of you? i go to the dark mother tomorrow.
i hired a private detective a few years ago to try to find my mother. he said she must be hiding out from bill collators and th tax man because he couldn't find an address. he said in his experience it doesn't go well to show up and surprise someone who is trying not to be found. so i circle the globe on a pilgrimage to the mother. maybe by moving in the physical world, my prayer will stir the invisible sea and change the weaving of what is keeping us apart. i walk in both worlds, a pilgrimage with my feet in the world and a pilgrimage for reconnection and forgiveness in my heart. the real pilgrimage is circling things inside me, the black madonna is the icon of the dream mother in my own consciousness. i worship the mother, i long for her, i journey far and alone in this world, i suffer for her love. my pain has made me strong and other people come to lean on me now, come to know the mother as she is channeled through me, i am an excellent vessel because i am so empty, my longing a fire that has burned me clean through.
someone once gave me a box of darkness and i dance inside
blood red lips and flamenco curled fingertips
the world is ending and i will dance calling in the spirits of chaos and oblivion, ushering in the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning
there is a temple in india of the mothers genitals,
you walk to the holy of holies,
a dark pit of water and stone.
a box of darkness, the mother's womb,
from where we all came and where we will all return.
someone once gave me a box of darkness,
i thank my mother who birthed me for this living mystery.
ST MARIE DE LA MER May 24
sometimes the burning is so intense
the travel wears me down and makes me emotional
so does drinking cheap liquor from strangers bottles and dancing barefoot in the streets with glass in my feet til 1, 2, 3am
so does traveling a woman alone not sure where i am sleeping every night
i hunt myself
i hunt my heart
i hunt my longing
i turn away the water so i can stay thirsty and use the thirst to hunt the root of my thirst
last night i followed a group of italian hippes and slept on the beach with blankets lent to me by a man and woman who came to me and asked for kali's blessing
this world is so many layers of beautiful delusion
the veils wear thin
i am the illusion
i am thirsty, road worn and broken down
i laid down on the sidewalk yesterday until a policeman came to see if i was ok or just another drunken gypsy over the edge
no more pride
i was laying on the sidewalk in pain and bliss
staring at the pink and blue abalone sunset sky
tears streaming down the sides of my face
i felt like i was floating
am i in this world or the next?
i pilgrimage to the black madonna
i am writing postcards from france back home to an address i found on the internet when i searched for my own mother
the statue of the mother i pilgrimage to is my own mother that lives inside me
my longing to see her face
i have not seen her for 12 years
they say blood is thicker than water
somewhere between all the confusion, abuse and pain, the pain was thicker than the blood and our caravan of gypsies dispersed
i pilgrimage to my hope that love is stronger than pain
i have not gone inside the church here
i have not seen the black mother's face except in the tourist pamphlets
all the idols were created for us to project our longing onto anyways
the power is in our longing not the statues
they say this mother is covered in many fabrics so only here eyes are showing
oh mother you remain always a mystery to me