This morning at dawn I quartered the ripe pomegranate that had been sitting in the center of my wreath since early in December, remembering the night my dad brought one home when I was a small child. I swallowed my first seeds feeling a child’s sense of awe and wonder that any fruit could taste so bitter and so sweet. Crimson bedded in pearl. I have a vivid memory of sensing the importance of the act although I couldn’t have been five. I say this because my little brother wasn’t with us. He was almost four years younger than me. Once mobile, Davey, became the love of my life; we were inseparable.
How could I know then that I had entered the myth, and like Persephone would make periodic descents into the underworld throughout my life? Once I understood, I resisted identification with this mythical figure. This resistance lasted throughout my forties and fifties, but eventually I became reconciled to the Fate that was mine to own.
As soon as pomegranates began to appear in stores, I bought one each autumn (for many years reluctantly), understanding that I was repeating a mythical contract and choosing my story at the same time.
I still experience a sense of inevitability.
Now in my late seventies I pick out my pomegranate with care holding the smooth rounded fruit lovingly before buying it, knowing that soon I will settle it into the center of my homemade balsam wreath. I always buy more than one. On January 6th I burn my balsam branches in the fire. Then I cut the fruit out of its nest in the center of my wreath to leave an offering for the animals… this year the first recipients were wild turkeys.
Like blood, I thought this morning as I cut open the pomegranate thinking about the child who once made a contract with the Beyond through my dad. As the crimson juice flowed, I ate one seed from each section before offering the quarters to the turkeys outside my window. Seconds after swallowing the first seed pulsing energy streamed through my body; something important had just happened. Moments later the reasons for eating four seeds surfaced from deep within – a seed for each of the Four Sacred Directions, Four Sacred Seasons. Accepting the bitter and the sweet.
I am always learning.
It’s January 6th, Epiphany in the Christian calendar, and the day my dreams celebrate ‘the first of year’.
Today’s dream informs me that I am releasing old stones… am I letting go of whatever left might be ‘cast in stone’? Possibly. Dreams are so complex that only more living will reveal the dream’s intent.
Yesterday I spent the day with my elf scientist friend, a man who is capable of bridging the world of science and mysticism with ease, a man who has been adopted into the Oglala Sioux, a Medicine man who wears only egg yellow Hawaiian shirts because when Katrina devastated the lives of so many people, he hoped to bring color into a world made of mud… mud that has only become more oppressive ever since, spreading over entire continents. Compassionate witnessing is as natural to Al as breathing, and in his presence, I am both seen and heard for exactly who I am. A powerful healer in his own right, I am healed by simply being around him. And so grateful to have this man as a friend. Without the usual male agenda. Al loves pomegranates too!
Last night after our visit I slept deeply and well. An unusual gift, for this chaotic, most frightening year has also been the most exhausting I can remember. I am thankful that it has finally come to a natural end.
A new cycle begins on a slate gray day when the snow etches bare deciduous tree branches in eggshell, evergreens in powdered sugar, a day when wind sleeps, and the polypores on dying birch trees act as shelves piling up their bounty.
Although I don’t consider myself a Christian, I am aware that my Indigenous ritual life intersects with my old religion and ‘her story’ in peculiar ways, and I am finally accepting that the blending of the two is a positive marriage. It has taken a lifetime.
I have begun a new year and have grounded my intention. I have eaten the four seeds. I am ready to engage with the future with an open but wary heart.
BIO: Sara Wright is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.