My practice of life as well as witchcraft is oriented toward the physical senses – I naturally gravitate toward an embodied way of being in the world. I want to feel experiences on my skin, in the movement of my limbs, in the taste on my tongue, in the sounds that I hear, in the scent of the wind. This preference spills into my life in a thousand little ways, one of which just proved its immense value. And, sharing corvid that I am, I want to hand you this shiny bit of spirit I just found.
The bauble I’m offering you today has two cords that hold it in place. The first one is “filing.”
I do not know when I began to select moments to “file.” It was an impulse that arose naturally, but I think it did not really manifest strongly until I was in my 20s. When I am in a particularly beautiful place, or in a wonderful moment, I pause and mentally hit “record.” I focus my attention on exactly how everything feels in that moment – on touch, sound, smell, and taste when applicable. For example: the warmth of my godchild cradled sleeping against my chest, the cool of the summer night, the drums echoing across the field, the scent of the bonfire on the breeze, the sound of laughter and discussion around me.
Over the next couple days, I summon the moment I recorded a few times – I feel it exactly as it was, recalling in the sharpest clarity possible. That cements it into my body, my mind. And then, when I need it, I can call the moment up again exactly.
The drum circle in the memory above was 14 years ago, but I can still feel my infant godchild warm against my chest. I can still smell the fire. I can summon the moment I stood on an outcrop at Zion National Park, sun beating down on my shoulders and stunning beauty all around me. I can summon the first time Ash kissed me, the moment the lights came up at Ram’s Head Live when my band headlined a show there, the memory of my mother ironing.
These filed memories are different than my normal recall. They are vibrant, vivid, and only a few seconds long. A snapshot of a moment in time, but one that allows me to step into that moment rather than just think about it.
The second cord holding this shiny little support tool is a way of approaching linear time.
During the plague, one of the thoughts that kept me somewhat sane and still able to serve my community was that, somewhere, I was not isolated. I was not living in 2020. I believe linear time is a construct we need for this way of being incarnated, but my belief about time is that it’s actually all happening at once. So, I would comfort myself with the knowledge that, at that exact same moment, an Irene was with her community, with her band, with her family.
I have a bit of a flexible relationship with linear time. It’s not always comfortable – I carry and wear black tourmaline because it helps me stay connected to what is happening in this linear moment. I have seen and reacted to things that are not there but once were, or will be. Until I got a handle on what was happening, I thought I was losing my mind. Seeing something clearly in one moment and having it vanish completely a second later is upsetting.
The emotions of a trauma sometimes hit me before the trauma itself. I broke down in tears for no reason the day before I got the phone call that my father had covid. Within the last couple weeks, I had a massive depression and anger cycle the day before another traumatic event. The part of me that is nonlinear and the part of me that is incarnated as human and subject to linear time do not always link up correctly. The waves of other moments land regardless of what the linear construct happens to be doing.
So, although I live a linear timeline, I also know that the timeline is an illusion. And that liminal understanding of time-flow vs time-now informs my perspective.
After the plague passed, and I could once again be with my people, I began to work the two cords together. I started to file a moment, and at the same time think to myself, “I am always here.”
Every full moon labyrinth walk, as I stand or kneel at the center of the labyrinth, I file the moment: drumbeats, the full moon, the fireflies, soft conversation, the grass beneath me. I am always here.
Every Kindred Crow show, as the applause at the end thunders, I file the moment: the adrenaline, the sweat, the cheering and clapping of the audience, the smile on my face, the expressions on the faces I can see clearly. I am always here.
When it is an unusually beautiful day and I’m sitting in the Stone Circle at the Magic House, I file the moment: the breeze and birdsong, the stone altar I’m sitting on, the sunlight glancing off the menhirs, the soaring silver maples, the blue sky above. I am always here.
And, maybe most importantly, I record small but meaningful moments as well. When Ash and I curl up in bed together, their arms around me as we drift towards sleep, I file that moment too: the warmth of their body, our breath rising and falling together, the scent of their skin, the soft mattress beneath me, the safety and security I feel. I am always here.
I do not know why I started doing this – this weaving together of the two practices. I suspect I was trying to prepare for the next blow from the pandemic – to hoard as many shining moments, as many strong memory files as I could, to help get me through if we needed to isolate again.
And this odd little practice? It just proved its weight in gold.
(Fair warning – in the next section, I am going to mention abuse.)
Last weekend I went through one of the hard things that can happen to abuse victims. After 8 years of never having to see my abusive ex-husband in person, I happened to walk into a restaurant where he was dining. I do not think he saw me. I was masked, and his back was turned to me. I left immediately and was (thank gods) in the company of my brother Caine, who was wonderful about getting me away from that location immediately.
I quelled the initial panic attack using all the skills I’ve learned from my time in therapy: deep breathing, focus on sensory stimuli (the car seat beneath me, the traffic moving on the highway, the touch of my clothing against my skin), self-talk that repeats the ‘I am safe’ message.
It may have been the focus on my senses that did it. Or perhaps it was just that wonderful, wild thread of unpredictable magick that flows through me at times. But, somehow, as I was trying to return to my Self after that awful moment, some of those memory jewels spilled into my body and mind.
And Ash’s arms were around me. I am always here.
And my community was drumming while I knelt in the labyrinth. I am always here.
And the audience was cheering. I am always here.
And the sun shone in the Stone Circle. I am always here.
Those strong, deliberately-filed memories filled my senses and I began to feel just how much I love my life. How exquisite and beautiful my post-hellscape-marriage world is. At a moment when part of me was reeling from fear and shock, an enormous wave of gratitude and love took over.
And my breathing settled.
And the tears that fell were as much of love as of pain.
And it wasn’t fixed, but it was better.
I have no idea whether this pattern of mine is replicable. I don’t know if it will help you, or if your filed memories will show up when they’re needed the same way mine did. I don’t even know if this blog will make sense to anyone who reads it.
But when I find something that works, I share it. So, here we are. A new shiny from my feathers to your own. File your beautiful moments, set a time-mark when you do.
I hope you’ll never need this practice. But if you do, I hope it will glow as brightly for you as it did for me.
After all, we are always here.
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