Saturday, March 27, 2010


        "In the folk life of Ukrainian people, the pysanka possess talismanic powers.  Receipt of a pysanka is not only a token of friendship or esteem but also brings with it protection from harm.  Ukrainian ancestors believed that pysanky in the home would bring good fortune, wealth, health, and protection from lightning and fire.  Pysanky are said to possess curative powers for both men and animals.  With the acceptance of Christianity in 988 A.D., the pysanka has been part of the Christian tradition and Easter ritual.  The pysanka came to symbolize the rebirth of man, as represented by the Resurrection.  Beeswax was considered  as a magical ingredient of the writing process. This was entwined with the sun cult.  The wax was made from honey; the honey was collected from flowers; flowers grew because of the sun."    Olga's Eggs-Files

Years ago, I inherited 8 Pysanky. The number 8 has significance for me, since it is my life path number. I have not felt the urge to decipher what each Egg means until now... but considering my fear of Fire, I see from reading the above website they have offered me protection from it for all these years.

The designs of each Egg is linked to Egyptian ceramics circa 1500 BC and to symbolism of the Trypilljan culture in the Ukraine around 3000 BC.

Trypilljans lived peacefully...a matriarchal, artistic and creative society who linked themselves strongly to Mother Earth. Hence, the symbolism on an Egg closely resembles elements of Nature.

A symbol on a Pysanka is a word picture or code which contains the secrets of a culture. Very like my Tarot deck, in my mind, the symbols also contain revelations on emotions and feelings such as love, hope, fear, anger and so on. Pysanky involve a trinity of symbolisms...the Egg itself,  the design, and the colours used.

I discover in my research the most magical Pysanky are those with four or five colours. I look through mine; even the Egg which I considered to be only golden has four other colours intertwined throughout. Each Egg is considered to carry a message of good will, luck and well-being for its owner.

Let's see...I have a predominantly black Egg, a golden one, two red or reddish Eggs, a brown one, two green and one very lovely blue Egg. My favourite is the brown Egg, which has Stags, Rabbits, a Wolf, Pine Trees, a Willow Tree and green and gold vegetation placed in strategic spots. Oh, and tiny golden dots are painted upon the upper half of the Egg...

This one, after peering at it (these images are small) for some time, I've decided is celebrating Spring. The Stags show leadership, victory, masculinity and joy. The Rabbits show the humility of Man as he listens to the lessons of Nature.  The Wolf denotes loyalty and teachings of wisdom. The Willow Tree is said to hold the Sun in the Sky, bestowing happiness and benevolence.

The Pine Tree symbolizes strength, boldness, growth and eternal life, while the greenery situated throughout the bottom half of the Egg symbolize the rebirth of nature and life. The golden dots represent the Stars in the Sky, tears or fixed points which have no beginning or end.

The colour of this Egg is predominantly reddish-brown. This colour signifies Mother Earth, bringing forth her bountiful gifts.

I have meditated with this one, not realizing it was a harbinger of Spring, and have had visions of Apple blossoms. Now I understand why.

Blue is used sparingly on these Eggs.  I have a totally blue one, with some gold outlining the Chrysanthemums and Roses and Leaves. This Pysanka signifies blue Skies or Air and is a talisman for good health.  It also represents truth, fidelity, higher life and trust.  I was not able to find out why blue is used less often...everything about a blue Egg sounds wonderful!

The golden yellow Pysanka I have has most of its gilt flaking still shines, though...I had difficulty taking a photo of it with the flash on the camera. It has golden oak leaves and acorns on it, outlined with red dots, and a meandering golden line all around it.

Long ago, when the Eggs first came to me, I knew a lady who understood the symbolism behind each Egg. She asked me to randomly pick thinking about it, just choosing one out of the eight.  I picked the golden one, thinking...ahh, a golden Egg, just like the one in the story of the Goose who laid the golden Egg. It must mean wealth...

The lady said...You are strongly connected to the Light. You have persistence and are hospitable and are eternal.

There was no mention of wealth. Not of the material kind, at any rate!

At the time, I really did not know how to respond.  Flustered, I almost dropped the Egg when I placed it back in the bowl with the others. I wondered if this wonderful Romanian lady knew that I was intent on Wealth. 

She didn't say anything as she picked up each Egg and looked closely at it. She only sniffed when she saw the black Chicken Egg. I've looked it up. From the site Olga's Eggs-Files, I find black is much the same as any other definition of the represents the absolute, constancy, eternity or the womb, and death.

We spoke no more of them, as we drank our Tea and exchanged news and gossip, as if the whole Egg incident had never happened.

I had no idea when I began this post I would become so involved with each Pysanka. I have found the stories which are embellished on each to be very inspiring and evocative. Perhaps one of these days I will be able to pick up a strange to me Pysanka and know immediately what it is telling me.

These Eggs I have are old...close to being  an aged 50 years.  I am amazed at how well they look, since my granddaughter loved them when she was young and played with them constantly.

It is a complicated art, taking time and patience to paint each Egg. They are made with an ancient wax resist process.  A stylus is used for writing on an Egg with hot Beeswax. A flame from a Beeswax candle is used to melt a piece of Beeswax which has been placed on the tip of the stylus. There are some instructions here.

However they are made, they stand up well. One of the Eggs is from the Chicken, some came from Duck, and some are Goose Eggs.  They are available in every conceivable type...from Ostrich to Quail.  Mine are heavy, which makes me think they were not blown out.  There are only two of them which have the residual hole at the ends.

I keep them in a bowl, with the Marble Egg my parents gave me as a birthday present years ago. And now that I've learned a bit about them, it makes much more sense to me when I pick one up and meditate.  Understanding symbols will help if a vision or two should come my way.

All in all, with newfound understanding of the Pysanky, I have found a wealth of knowledge.

It may not be material wealth but...

I believe it's a better kind.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Tea of Balance and Clarity

As I drove home from Hospice training the other day, all I could think about was the reviving cup of Tea I was going to make as soon as I walked in the door.

There are refreshments served during the morning and afternoon in the conference room where the training occurs. And I could have Tea anytime I wanted.

But there is something about coming home from a long day trying to assimilate all the information we are given, making Tea and sitting down in a favourite chair.

Each time, I swear the World and its troubles recede a little. Tea allows me to meditate, allows me to calm the whirlwind which is creating havoc in my mind.

Tea is the preferred beverage for Monks throughout the World.  In my book of Tea, there is an anecdotal saying:

"The monks of the Chinese Ch'an sect of Buddhists believed that the first cup of Tea helped to keep a calm and clear mind while they sat in meditation. The second cup helped them feel as if the spirit was cleansed by the gentle Rain. After the third cup, one can understand the nature of things."  ...from the book Tea Bliss

I definitely needed to sit and reflect on the nature of things, after a full day in the classroom.  I am no longer able to take in as much as I once did... fibro fog and age, you know. And sometimes, I can feel quite addled trying to keep up with the enormous amount of information involved with the dying.

There is a volume of topics...and some of them bring up swirling feelings inside about my own beliefs and my own reactions to some of those topics. For instance, one day we were required to write down six favourite things and place them face down on the table. And then our instructor, without any knowledge of what was on them, came along and took three of those favourite things. The exercise was to teach us how loss affects us...unique for each individual.

In my case, she happened to take the three favourites which were the dearest in my life. And I reacted with such extreme anger to these losses. Wow.  I cannot begin to describe how inappropriately I reacted.

There was the clue I required that there was a great deal I had not looked at within myself. It was evidence...enough for me to know I had better find the root of that over-the-top flush of anger which had consumed me, during the exercise.

There were more than three cups of Tea drunk during quite a few deep meditations over the next few days to understand where the obscure pool of anger had its source. And of course, that wrath had its beginning when my daughter Katrina died.

It was not pleasant re-visiting the circumstances leading to her death.  I had written scores about it...enough for a order to understand, just as I did when my mother died.  It is how I make sense of crazy-making events.

So.  I thought by writing about it I understood, as much as anyone can, and had let go  But you know what? As I peruse the emotional pages of my writing, I notice anger was rarely mentioned.

And I realized I had blocked that steamy rage into a muffled cocoon deep within my soul. As painful and fraught with anxiety as it is, it is time to let the stinking mass out...and away.  Because even though anger can be beneficial, in this case it was a mouldering mess which hindered me in so many ways.

Not the least of which is anger that can consume me over inconsequential things in inappropriate actions.  If there was ever misplaced anger, this was it.

I have learned over the years that meditation will clear my mind and allow me to go inward, towards my centre, where stillness and serenity reign and the sounds of the World are no more. There the answer would come, floating along in that translucent space...

And it did. I had forgotten...I had misplaced a memory crucial to that anger so recently found.

The anger had its roots in the tribunal I had to face when it became obvious that my daughter, if she was to live, would need transplants...primarily her liver, at that time. The member of the tribunal were made up of doctors and nurses, clergy and social workers. Their job was to determine if Katrina was a good prospect for a transplant.

They asked me to make decisions as to how my daughter would react...would she do all the things required to keep that transplanted organ healthy? What kind of person was she?  What did I think of her? The questions went on and on...

My daughter lay dying...I was already beyond thinking clearly. The only thing I could feel was incredible anger that they would ask a some fairly horrible scenarios they dredged up and ask me to make a decision about her character. If I gave the wrong answer...she might not get that transplant.

I remember being consumed with deep, abiding anger towards these people who were only doing their job. I had little, if any, control over the terrible outcome.

I have never felt so helpless. Just as helpless as I was when someone came along and took my three favourite things.

As I drink my tea, and as I breathe deeply, I write this with peaceful sorrow. Of course, Katrina had progressed too far and all her organs finally shut down, averting the whole transplant issue.

And as events so quickly progressed from the room where the tribunal sat in what I perceived as judgment, I just as quickly tried to forget it. In so doing, I easily buried the anger with which I had been consumed. I was afraid of that anger.  If I let it out, would I still be standing after the holocaust of emotions were let fly?

So.  Today I will brew a special cup of Tea.  I will use a pinch of each of Black, Green and Red Teas, along with a pinch of Chamomile, Mint, Dill and Willow Teas.  I will take the mixture to Grandfather Rock, who has sat waiting for this very event, waiting for me to recognize his benefit in my search for balance, clarity and finally, joy.

I will say a prayer as I sit with him, I will take a drink of the concoction, the mixture of which has special meanings for me, and I will offer the rest to him.

And then, I will finally accept that I am not all-powerful and that I can't always determine the outcome of events. And I will realize it was okay to feel anger at the time, it was okay to mourn deeply.  It is not okay to carry it for all time.

Anger such as this produces tense muscles, gritted teeth, embitterment, along with a host of other physical and emotional problems.

I have been told...when the student is ready, the teacher will come.  

I'd guess I was ready for Hospice and its teachings!

And Grandfather Rock...

Friday, March 05, 2010

Paths and Primroses

Long years ago, after my family emigrated from Germany, we settled out in the country, fifteen miles from the nearest town.

It was a culture shock for my mother; she had lived in Hamburg all her life...and now she lived in a forested area close to a Mountain. We had few neighbours; the ones we did have did not speak German.

I was a solitary child...people were not the ones who interested me. Plants and animals and their behaviour was what absorbed me. I would go outside and sit among the huge Rain Forest Ferns, watching this small insect or that. I would go on long walks, with my dog, a German Shepherd named Zenta.

To this day, I is it that at the age of five or six I was allowed to wander through the bush, by myself, and not have anyone wonder where I was? And where did I get the courage to do so?

I knew there were Bear and Cougars and Deer; the sightings of each of these was discussed at home. It did not stop me. I had total faith in my Dog and in myself.

And I did not know what getting lost meant. But there was one day when I found out.

Each morning, I would awaken with anticipation at finding new paths to follow. There were many trails made by animals where I lived. One could follow them for miles, coming to swamps and ponds, fields belonging to neighbouring farms, or to the foot of the Mountain which rose up behind our property.

I was always on the lookout for wild flowers for a bouquet for my mother. Inevitably, I would pick a bunch, not understanding  the wilting which would occur quickly, as they were held in my hot little hand.

I figured it out, however, as I grew more experienced. I would leave the flowers unpicked until I had followed a trail far enough; I would pick the flowers on my return. This way, I thought, they would stay pretty and fresh longer.

And so it was, during a trip one Spring day in the car, I saw yellow and white and blue flowers growing not far from where I lived. I promised myself I would find those flowers the next day...they looked exotic and different from the usual Daisies and Dandelions that I picked for my mother.

The following day, I took Zenta on what I considered a huge adventure, since I had not walked along the road before, it being the single place out of bounds for me.

But I knew if I walked along a trail on our side of the road, I could get to those flowers without being seen. I amaze myself...I was so young!  To have that kind of guile scares me somewhat, as I possibly may have handed down the pleasure in thrills and risk to my children and grandchildren...

Anyway. There's not much I can do about that one.

My dog and I walked along the sunny trail, which wound around huge Maple Trees, up and over hills which seemed high to me, but in reality were only small mounds. I looked back and when I could no longer see my house, I knew I could cross the road.

Zenta knew we were doing something wrong.  She did not want to cross the road with me...I had to grasp her collar and pull her along. It seemed to take ages to cross that road...any minute I was sure my mother would see me, even if that was an impossibility.

But those Flowers in the wooded area across the road called to me...I could not ignore them, even if it meant punishment for my misdeeds later on.

And then there I was! Sun shone on this amazing patch of what I would later find out were Primroses, Forget-Me-Nots, and Bluebells. I thought it was Heaven, surely!  

All along the road they bloomed...and further into the Wood, there were so many Trilliums as well! But there was an old gate I would have to try and climb over...and how would Zenta clamber over it with me? I walked along, puzzling over it, until I came to a part where the fence had fallen over.  

Zenta pressed against my side, the side closest to the road.  She wanted me away from it; I heeded her advice and stepped over the fallen fence, and into the deep Woods.

All my life, in all the gardening I have done, I have never been able to replicate what I saw that day. It was as if a giant hand had seeded the ground...I could not walk without stepping on the Primroses and Bluebells.  They were growing that thickly.

Completely absorbed, I wandered along, head down, trying not to step on the beautiful blooms shining in the dappled Sunlight. Zenta, by this time, had accepted our forbidden journey and was only interested in sniffing out unfamiliar scents, although she continued to stay close to me.

I ambled so far into the Wood I could no longer see the road. And when I finally raised my head, there were old buildings just ahead of me. Oh, oh.

But they were old, falling apart. I thought possibly there was no one about, since I had come upon old buildings before and had explored them to my heart's content. Danger of falling debris never crossed my young mind.

Hello! a voice boomed from above. Frightened, I wanted to run, but I could no longer be sure about  from which direction I had come. Zenta of her friendlier barks, which reassured me a little.  But my legs still felt like jelly...I was in a forbidden place and someone had seen me. 

Up here! I'm up here!...the voice continued.  I looked up.  And there, in the ancient barn's hayloft, stood an old, bent figure. 

I said not a word.  I clung to Zenta's collar, so frightened I was close to tears.

Wait there!...I was told. I saw the man disappear into the dark recesses of the barn. And since it would take awhile to find my way back to the road, I stayed, quivering in my old rubber boots.

He came out of the dark doorway, into the Sunlight. My eyes as big as saucers, I stammered my apologies for trespassing.  He smiled; he said no more, but he offered me his hand.

Strangely reassured, I took it.  We walked along a well-tended path and came upon another building...a log home, this time, with wild gardens surrounding it. A woman stood on the back porch, which looked as if it had seen better days.

She looked ancient.  I don't believe I had ever seen anyone who looked that old.  But kindness shone out of her dark eyes and her face was wreathed with a gentle smile. I was not quite comfortable with the whole scenario as yet, but I continued on with the man who held my hand.  I climbed the old stairs along with him.

The man and woman conversed, as I looked around.  Flowering Shrubs grew all around the porch; they looked as old as the couple in whose company I found myself.

I was invited into a dark room.  It must have been their living quarters...I later learned because they were unable to keep up the rest of the house they had closed it off, living in the kitchen, with a bedroom off to the side.

I was offered milk and cookies.  They would not allow Zenta into their home; she stayed on the porch, although they gave her a cookie as well.

They introduced themselves and asked me my name. I knew it was polite to tell them, yet I could not make my mouth form my name. I could not speak at all.

So many thoughts raced through my mind. I knew I was in trouble.  I wondered how to get back to the road.  I worried I might never see my mother again. These people seemed kind...would they show me  the way home? I wondered and worried with much trepidation.

I swore I would never disobey again.

The old couple sat with me at a table by the window, as I finished my cookie and milk. Zenta was becoming restless...I could see her pacing back and forth along the porch, looking anxious. And the couple noticed...the old man went outside and comforted her, making her lie down.

They asked eventually if I was ready to go home.  Ready? I was more than ready...

I nodded, still unable to speak.  The old lady went with us as far as the porch, where she picked some of the purple Flowers...I learned later they were Lilacs...and presented them to me.  The perfume is one I will never forget. In my mind, the scent of Lilacs and this adventure are one and the same.

Thank you...I said...and my name is Marion.

Suddenly, the dammed up voice inside of me burst. Now that I was on my way home, I found my confidence and clamoured to know about the Flowers which bloomed so profusely by the side of the road.

I was told they were planted by seed many, many years ago and had spread all by themselves. I was in awe...this old, neglected but charming garden was one I told myself I would emulate. I wanted to live in a place where Flowers bloomed all by themselves.

The man...his name was Mr. Rand...walked Zenta and I home along the side of the road.  It was strange...I felt as if I had walked miles and miles on the trails, yet it was only a short walk by road.

My mother immediately assumed I had done something wrong; she came out of the house ready for battle.  But Mr. Rand reassured her and the bouquet of Lilacs did the rest. I was only sentenced to my room for the afternoon.

As I played in my room, I mused over the Primroses and Bluebells, none of which I had picked. But I remembered the path which led to them...and I knew it would not be long before I returned, if only to stare at them from the side of the road.

And today, I sit and think...

If only all the paths in my life had led to a Primrose garden...