I lay in the sun in my front yard and watched the bumblebees play in the Penstemon and thought about sovereignty. I was listening to an album about a queen, the Lumineers’ Cleopatra. I was watching the bees in their purple nectar traps and I was reading a wonderful fantasy fiction book, Uprooted by Naomi Novick.
It is a book that makes a villain of the woods, which would not ordinarily be my bag, but it is so well plotted and so beautifully described that I am on my second reading, the one where I watch the author’s tricks and record them for my own work.
And there is a passage where the main character, the hero, has lost something very dear to her. A person… I will try not to reveal too much: I hope you will read it, if you like this kind of fiction.
Anyway the hero – who is a woman, but could also be a man, or trans, or queer, or some sovereign place on the gender spectrum that is purely their own – this hero has not given up. She is trying to retrieve this person who she loves, and not just with everything she knows, but also with all her powers of curiosity and willingness to learn and willingness to exhaust herself and willingness to try new things and willingness to be a fool and willingness to be made fun of and willingness to be scorned and willingness to be exhausted and willingness to be hurt by failing again and again and again.
All of this willingness because of all of the love that she feels.
It feels so much like this is what is needed, in our world, now.
And there is a passage that reads "tears were sliding down my face, a slow trail, not hard weeping. I was too desolate to cry anymore. The light outside was starting to dim; the witch lanterns hadn't yet been lit."
A week from today, we will light the witch lanterns at California camp. And for the next eight days we will be working a story of despair and loss and persistence, and magic, and finding out what sovereignty means in this world where it seems sometimes that no such thing as possible.
And what I thought as I watched the bumblebees in their nectar madness, and as I read those words, is that what I have been told about sovereignty, about self possession, is a lie: I have been told that the key to sovereignty is to feel less: that this is what allows self possession. I don't know why those words of that book did it, “the slow trail of tears..,” why they were the last ingredient in the potion that I have been brewing this long year of studying the myth of Rhiannon. This long year of following the gift of my intuition and retrieving my own rulership in my work and in my body and this long year which has included the gift of mortal love, as Rhiannon’s story also does.
Which requires me to feel, and feel again, and feel again, and I start to believe that my sovereignty is slipping, that I need to shut it down.
But really what I need is to feel all of it, to bumble around in it, on this solstice night, on every dark and moonlit night and rainy day. It is the solstice today. At sunset, I walked down to the creek and caught the last light of the sun on the ridge, kissing its way through the trees and I called it into my heart, for the courage to feel all the ways that I am a writer priestess… I said those words out loud and the wind rose and brushed up the towering cottonwood, showing the silvery underside of the leaves, like a hand on velvet. The wind brushed up against me, and inside me, there, and I looked at the last rays of the sun on this day and I breathed in the fire of my own path, my work as a writer priestess, the way that words are my worship of the beauty of this world: my love\and my way out of grief. My desire and my expression of my sovereign mind, and also, with this breath, this body, this mortal and flawed and gorgeous life, also, everlastingly, my song.