Conversations on the Way Home
I should have listened to my intuition that told me to stay and do the ritual to honor my Ancestors then, and not later in the evening. I went to the plasma center and was turned down because my blood pressure was again too high. I think that my body is still adjusting to being off of caffeine, and I need to get back into the gym. However, my Ancestors told me before I left I wasn’t likely to get seen. I thought that if I just hurried up getting to the clinic I’d be fine. Turns out, no.
I tried to strike up a dialogue with the local Earth vaettir as I was walking home, and She spoke to me, told me to call her “Grandmother” or “Grandma Earth”. I asked her about how things were going, and She told me that Her alleys and streets cried out in pain. I knew what She was talking about; EMU’s campus has experienced a rash of thefts, burglaries, and recently, a sexual assault. Things are getting progressively worse on campus as the weeks go on. I asked Her “What can I do?” to which She smiled softly and said “For starters you can have faith.” This kind of took me aback. I’m not used to my faith being questioned by spirits, especially vaettir of place or Elements when I do what I can to keep the campus clean and have open ears for those who need to speak, human and non-human. So I asked Her, a little impatiently, what She meant. She responded:
“You know we exist, but so often you question what we say to you because ‘it sounds too crazy’. Why should we continue to work with someone who doubts what we say?” She asked of me in a rather even, almost lovingly patient tone.
“You’ve got a point. So what can I do?” Did I mention I can be pretty thick-headed about things?
“You can trust what we say when we say it to you. If you truly doubt the path we lead you on, speak with your Father and ask Him to confirm what we say. Not all of us are out to hurt you or deceive you,” She said with a smile in Her Voice.
“I know you aren’t.”
“Then what holds you back from following our words?” And for several moments as I walked, I thought. Then I came to the obvious conclusion, which happened to be the right one.
“Myself. I doubt that I’m able to do this sometimes, that my interpretation of your words is right.”
“Why is that?” Grandmother Earth asks, ever-patient.
“Because, just you giving me the name Grandmother Earth to call you by brings up so many things in my mind, telling me I’m wrong. I can hear the voice of criticism in the guise of someone else inside me say “You’re wrong! You plastic shaman!” or “You fake!” or “You’re no shaman, you’re playacting”.”
“These are words I’ve read for people like me who claim the title you spirits gave me. These are words I’ve read for people who address you as Grandmother Earth and aren’t from the right tribe, or background.”
“But I gave you one of my many names. I could have said anything; Terra Mater, Anima, anything your mind could have grasped on to. Why did I give you this name?”
“Because it describes you; it is what you are to me.”
“Good. Does any tribe, any person, you included, own Me or My names?”
“No.” She let the silence hang as I continue to walk, breathing deep as the turmoil inside me from encountering those voices of criticism inside myself echoed. I could feel a hell of a hunger headache come on. I hadn’t eaten in hours. She snorted derisively, and I asked her why.
“Again, faith. Your Gods tell you and your loved one despite having no work you will be fed, clothed, and taken care of. Yet you starve yourself because you fear running out of money, or not having enough for her bills. Stop. Have faith or do not. Trust that the money will come when it is needed, and it will come, or trust that you can get a job and take care of them yourself.” Now She’s lit my anger. Probably intentionally, but I’m tired and hungry and don’t care.
“You know how many applications I’ve put in, and how hard it is for me to find a job. You know I’ve tried and tried, and received not even a phone call!” I’m thankful this conversation is taking place between our spirits and not verbally; I’d be yelling now on a deserted, dark street at seemingly nothing.
“So which are you going to put faith in? That you will find a job or that your Gods, your spirits, your Ancestors, and other friends and allies will be there to support you?” She asks like a woman calming a child. Well, She has me there. I put my hands in my pockets and sigh. She already knows the answer, but She wants me to say it all the same. I’m on campus now, and I’m walking down a way to the Student Center.
“The Gods, Ancestors, and spirits,” I tell her in a soft voice. She smiles, I can practically feel it.
“Then follow what I tell you soon; you are hungry, and soon you will be fed.”
Even after our little talk, I sound a bit doubtful. I guess I’m kind of saddened and irritated by the loss of money tonight, but She seems to not mind.
I murmur to myself “It’s a bad day that to have faith you have to buy yourself food.”
I keep walking in silence for awhile, listening to the sounds of wind, a squirrel here, the lapping of the César Chávez memorial fountain, and then wind as I move between two large buildings.
Finally, I come to a crossroad, and I intend to go forward when I hear a whisper:
“Turn right here.” I do so, not questioning, and turn. I walk down the crossroad, asking myself where the hell food could possibly be, since the Student Center is a ways off. Then, I see a friend, who is holding about 7 bags of popcorn. He calls to me, asks if I want some, and I nod with a “Hell yes”. I thank him, as he is talking to someone already, and walk on. I’m almost crying as I eat this popcorn. The voice belonged to an Ancestor, one I’ve encountered while blood-walking, and her voice reached out to me because I’d let myself open enough to hear.
“That is why you need to have faith,” Grandmother Earth says softly, “If you let the spirits care for you, as much as you deeply care for Them, They will take care of you.”
“I’m sorry I’ve discounted your words…please forgive m-” and I am cut off by Dath, an Ancestor who you will meet in my journals of Hanging on the Tree.
“Just keep what you’ve learned.” I tell her I will, and I come home to write this, as asked by my Ancestors and Grandmother Earth. I hope others learn from this. I certainly have.