I love and hate getting up early– the world is different for the earlier hour, something strange and new, before unseen, unknown, and undiscovered. But, the hour is earlier, and sufferer of (or reveller in) insomnia that I am, this means less sleep. I got about 3 hours last night. It is enough.
This morning the world woke hazy, and a thick mist bubbled the glow from the sodium-arc street lights. I walked light-dome to light-dome on my way to work in the sunless sleepless predawn, fog curling around me, warm and inviting. I remembered other foggy nights, other foggy mornings, the school bus ride in Connecticut, fog in fingers grasping the hillsides during the steaming spring, or in Palm Court the night I met a Nightstalker muted by mist and amid a mass of beachballs, or down by the bay speaking to herons with a cigar in my hand, a haze severing the bayfront from the world outside of Faerie. Fog creates another world, a tinier one, around us. It causes us to turn inward, reaching through ourselves past the thick cotton lining we’ve wrapped ourselves in, buffering us from the world. It muffles the sound of our searchings. It settles us to stillness.
It was strange to start a day haunted with this. Strange and not bad. Strange and sweet. Something to hold onto. Something to keep, here in my still silent searchings.
Last night, I was a tarot card, having wandered down to the bay to find two water birds at either end of the little pier. I came up between them, a snakeoil seller in my calf-length corduroy coat and floppy black-and-brown leather hat, cigar in one hand and a book in the other. A serpent priestess with a lying grin between a snow-white cattle egret on the piling to my right and a dusky black-crowned night heron on the piling to my left. They eyed me yellowly, ruffling feathers at my approach.
So I bowed low to them, whole body to the ground and approached them reverently on my knees. This they tolerated. And so I sat between two birds, dark and light, a cigar my scepter and an open book on my lap, the Tao Te Ching in English, as interpreted by Ursula K. LeGuin. Court de Gébelin I’m sure had not in mind the Way when he named the cards from Egypt, nor did the Order of the Golden Dawn think much of Lao Tzu when they could pretend to plunder the Qabalah. But I sat and read Lao Tzu’s words through LeGuin’s lens, as the pillars on either side of me danced and bobbed on their willow-switch legs, brushed orange in the sodium-arc light, and I was The High Priestess under a waxing moon, brazen and still.
She doesn’t stand for dogmas, you know, or so the books on tarot tell me. She is not about obeying, but finding your own way, through your own trial, past the gate down into your own spiritual enlightenment, among the roots of things. That is what they say. I could interpret this night in many ways, it seems. Perhaps I shall try to view it from the herons’ perspectives: “Who was that crazy predator female thing, and why did she sit there by us so uncomfortably long and not attack us? Was she looking for a fish?”