A Song of the Ancestors – a tale of loss and wonder
Ralph looked up from the pots he was washing, in the kitchen of the homeless shelter. The weather outside was playing with rain and thunder, and some bits of lightening thrown about for good measure.
Ralph heard the door to the outside open inward – it has a few squeaks and clicks when it does – … he looked up at the gust of wind that blew the door all the way open, when at the same moment there was a flash-bang of lightening&thunder. After Ralph had blinked his eyes a couple of times, he could see in the doorway an old man standing, with a large walking stick in his hand. Made Ralph think of a wizards staff, for a moment. He had to be careful what ideas he let loose in his mind, for sometimes there were visions unreal, or so the psych-evaluations asserted.
The seeming apparition closed the door quietly, and there was a moment of silence, as the last drinkers of coffee and conversation looked up as well. Into the quiet the stranger spoke, in a voice most recognized as the product of too many smokes and too much time spend hanging onto a glass of sorrow manifested. Alcohol was a depressant some said, but for many it quieted the silent rages that went with too many bad memories, and unrealized dreams.
“Hello, my friends, I could us some help. May I sit and tell my tale, so you might determine whether to join me in my coming folly?
There were grunts of assent, as well as dismay. Some coffee cups refilled, and a few chairs pushed around as the audience woke up to its coming potential role. The man sat down at a table near the door, after leaning the staff against the wall, where hangers and wet clothes had gathered for mutual protection.
His audience looked at his face, trying to read its open secrets, and found there mystery, without even being able to name this seldom experienced feeling. He looked at them shyly, only glancing about at them, and then began to speak. His eyes focused inward, not unlike the thousand yard stare well known to many in this room, … a room that was part haven, and part private monastery.
“I need help calling out to the dead, the ancestors. We need them – our nation and people – we need our dead, our ancestors, badly. But no one believes much anymore, the public displays by politicians at grave sites aside. Even the fake Christians and other religious, who pretend to believe in an afterlife, actually fail to act in the right way towards their own ancestors.
“The dead are a power whether we acknowledge them or not. They can be even more of a powerful helper, if we trouble to reach out to them … in the right way, which as a lot of folks know can be fraught with memories. Soldiers and drinkers see the dead all the time, but who cares or believes in this age of crass immorality and vain posturing.
“Here, where we are, – that is Washington D. C. – is a special place for the dead to gather. I will next reveal a secret, a sacred one at that, but still it is important that you hear this in order to decide if or how&why you will participate with me.
“Legends designed and built this town. Legends that knew magic, and so we have folk who come searching for the hidden temple of the Freemasons, in basements and behind secret doors. Perhaps not ever conceiving it has always been there – in plain sight. Not hidden, colossally obvious .,. everywhere monuments to the dead, to our ancestors, some laid out in the form of a Cross, and surrounded by triangles of black pavement, the dreaded black roads spoken of by Black Elk.
“The Freemasons – at least a skilled few – paid attention to ancient Egyptian heritage that lurked in the symbols and other works. Paid attention to the fact that the ancients had an intimate connection to the dead, having constructed their own monuments, with secret unknown faerie magics.
“You can’t believe the theories of modern physics when looking for the dead. They are too close at hand, in every chance and supposedly random event. Watching. Waiting to catch the fallen, and carry them over the rivers of Lethe.
“I propose to walk these signs, this labyrinth of the dead, and I would like the company of those to whom death and the dead are well appreciated. These patterns in this city are like a psychic transforming magical battery, a zone where spiritual resonances were/are laid/stored, … ley lines created by human beings who knew shocking truths about reality.
“They were laid just for this moment of crisis. A crisis that accompanies/includes the whole of the earth. And we – those whose hearts know the terrors and wonders of death&dying – are the keys to remind us that the dead are here too. Are as real as the moon. Right now. Waiting for us to remember, and to pray to our ancestors for help in this Age of Trials through Chaos.
“I propose to walk, and touch certain places in a kind of historical order, after which we wander/wonder in circles around the People’s Home, and by this magical evocation of the dead, understand that just they have the wisdom we need to hear and act upon. And, … I don’t mean the White House, but the Capital Building.
“Like Lourdes in France, visitors bring a steady stream of dreams and hopes to this Temple, not always realizing the power of these buildings to create a sense of the solemnity of history. Visiting folk leave behind then an imprint of their feelings of wonder and awe, in the spiritual heart of this place.
“The primary riddle is where is the monument to the aboriginal peoples who lived in these lands for millennia, in very earthly&cosmic spiritual Ways? What are their ancestors up to? Millions murdered. Are their spirits&souls restless, or something deeper and more true?
“A native American veterans memorial is proposed, but those dead fought in our wars. What about their wars with the European invaders? Where is the memorial to that?
“A story shared with me, tells of a place in the Mall, not too far from the center of the Cross aspect, where there lies a marker – a small but clearly visible above the ground survey marker – showing exact latitude and longitude and elevation, for any surveying needed doing in the area.
“The teller of the story actually went looking for it, and found that it also included arrow-markings of the four directions N, S, E, and W. While there, my friend saw a circle gathered around the central point of the Cross, which upon further investigation turned out to be Native Americans holding an annual ceremony. He even knew a couple of them, and after showing them the marker with the four directions on it, the group moved there for the last few of the seven planned annual ceremonies.
“If there is a memorial where Native American ancestors are evoked in Washington D.C. that would be one place touch first, if it still exists and can be found.
“My own preferences for the next in order (not all, at my age I am lucky to walk to the store a block away, much less trudge all over this Temple) are the Washington Monument (the revolutionary war), the Lincoln Memorial (the civil war), the Vietnam Memorial (the war of madness) and the fence around the White House, the iron straining to contain the madness.
“There is a reason the old ways held that iron had special magical properties, one of them being the capacity too brand with fire the darkness, as needed. We touch the fence to connect the dead – that we have gathered – to the psychic shield thus made. Warriors with unfinished business, being remembered and made more known.
“At each place you touch think of the dead there memorialized. Imagine them watching. They thirst for something only we can give, which is to not only be remembered, but appreciated as well for their sacrifices, in the past, and the present, and the future.
“Touch the Stones. Pray, silently in secret. Sing. Dance, in the grass. Ask the dead – of all the different peoples that have come to our need in this place and time – to sanctify the becoming of the true America, a People of Peoples. Ask them to help us heal the division rained upon us by evil two-hearted ones.
“We, without this, will continue to nurse our hatreds, something which the dead – our remarkable ancestors – have set aside. The ancestors are too busy trying to help folk who have forgotten them, to worship old crimes, best forgotten. They need us to remember them, and wonder about them, and ask them to show the ways through.”
Ralph watched him wait a beat of two, and then stand, with a bit of difficulty; and, turn and walk out the door, which once more blew open, albeit with less force, only a bit of rain, and a rumble of thunder.
In the room some were standing up, looking at each other. Choosing for themselves whether or not it was time to face the ghosts who seem to haunt, which perhaps can become a gate to wisdom, if we have the courage to listen with our hearts to a past that is still alive in our present, just ethereal of substance, and ripe with tales of wonder …
Ralph called out.
“Anyone want to help me put together food and such for those who go with? I’m going. Where’s the community cell? Pictures to take, and friends to invite along.”