Archive for the ‘Languaging Lilith’ Category

h1

…and now a word from another blog

September 13, 2011

ies

Memoirs of a Female Vagrant

Mary Saxby (1738-1801): 

The girl who ran away with the gypsies
 
Mary Saxby’s autobiography, Memoirs of a Female Vagrant, was published after her death in 1806, and it is fascinating story of a rebellious 18th century woman.
 
Mary was born in London, in 1738. Her mother, Susanna died early, and her silk-weaver father John Howell joined the army, leaving Mary to be passed from ‘one relation to another’, never staying long, ‘in consequence of my perverse temper’. Her father eventually returned with a ‘serious’ stepmother, much to Mary’s displeasure, and before reaching her teens she ran away from home.

She lived on ‘rotten apples, or cabbage stalks’ and ‘what the hedges afforded’, while fending off ‘wicked men’ and tramping the countryside around Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, and Buckinghamshire. Soon, Mary was ‘nearly perished with cold and hunger’ and ‘in a dismal plight’, and would have died, if she had not found a protector, ‘a poor travelling woman’ with three daughters of her own. [read more at Writing Women’s History]

h1

Ten Weeks Later

September 6, 2011

Ten weeks after the car accident, it’s a grey, wet and windy pre-spring Melbourne day.  Without a car , I would arrive very windblown and soggy-bottomed if I had to be somewhere today.  One of my favourite quotes was made by comedian Billy Connelly, who observed that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.  Looking out the window, I thought “Dayum, I haven’t got a Driza-bone”, which is an iconic Australian oilskin coat.  I’ve acquired a couple of pairs of comfortable walking shoes, a shopping jeep in which to haul home the 15L bag of kitty litter, and have backpack will travel.  I always thought it would be fun to do the backpacking thing when I was younger, so that chook has come home to roost in a quirky way. 

Being catapulted back into the lifestyle of the carless, I have enjoyed the reconnecting with the relationship between my body, clothes, the community in which I dwell, and the Elements.   Been a long time – a real long time since I’ve not had my own vehicle and been reliant on my feet to get me places.  Once I got my driver’s licence in 1979  and first car, a Hillman Hunter station wagon my father bought for me that was barely roadworthy, I stopped walking and could venture further afield.  Go to places off the beaten public transport track and not be limited by timetables, or inconvenienced by strikes.

In the week before I survived the roadtrauma, I was frustrated with a lot of things and sent up the prayer, “Remove all the obstacles from my path , or take me out of the game”. 

A few hours before the fateful collison, I had been around at the Library blogging. When I left the Library, an amazing – and unusual – seafog had descended over the suburb. I love fog.  I drove around to the beach, parked the car, and walked out on the sand. Awed by the banks of rolling cloud floating just above the water.  The beach was deserted and it was so beautiful and silent.

I remembered the last time I saw a seafog like that.  It was the last day of a retreat-like holiday I took to the small coastal village of Robe in South Australia in 2000, which was a profoundly lifechanging year.  The seafog rolled in and as I walked along the main street with its quaint 19th century architecture, I thought “It’s bloody Brigadoon!” and laughed.

Eleven years later, ten weeks ago, I stood on the beach marvelling at the life around me and thought “It’s a good day to die’.  Less than four hours later, as I faced the inevitability that my car was going to hit a brick wall, I felt nothing other than interest in what was about to transpire.

I had been warned that a major car accident was coming down the pike and that it wouldn’t be my fault ~ and it wasn’t. I had known for months before the event, I simply asked that I not see it coming. Not know when or where or how. The day before the accident, I had to brake swiftly to avoid a collision with a car driven by a man wearing a hat, a dog sitting next to him, who blithely failed to give way to me, and sailed through the intersection.  Didn’t even look.  I watched this car drive away, wondering if my eyes were cheating me, if that car was real or a fetch giving me the heads-up.

I have dwelled in this area for five-and-a-half years now and am familiar with the local driving habits, the reckless driving, the failure to pay attention.  In 32 years I’ve never had an accident, had always been a conscious driver able to read the traffic conditions, and not get caught up in the collective aggro and rush-rush. From the first day I sat in the driveway of the Hillman Hunter, as the engine warmed up, I was intensely aware of the responsibility of being a driver, and being on the road. That I could be killed, or kill others if I didn’t pay attention.  Didn’t keep my wits about me. I suppose you could say I received a ‘divine download’ that day for the sense of clarity I felt before driving off, has never left me. The awareness that a moment’s inattention on my part could have detrimental ramifications on the life of another.

The severe bruising to my left breast and pectoral region from the seat-belt has faded. My wounded knee, which hit the underside of the dashboard, no longer hurts and I have also lost my fear of  having a panic attack on public transport. Which  isn’t to say I don’t have moments of anxiety, I do.  After 25 years of avoiding the whole public transport deal, it’s a totally new experience again and enormously liberating.

The attachment to my car was the obstacle. The concerns surrounding meeting the on-road costs: insurance, registration, maintenance, petrol were weighing me down.  As long as I still had my car, I had no reason to use buses or trains and my fear of having a panic attack went unchallenged.  The strategies I had developed for coping with a panic attack remained untested in the last arena, for reasons that I became aware of in the weeks immediately after the accident.

I had stopped using public transport in the mid-80s after being tired of being verbally assaulted by drunken and belligerent fellow passengers, all of them men.  I became scared of men and their capacity for random acts of violence.  A few years later I would develop Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, but I had ceased using public transport for another reason, that isn’t that irrational.  I’m a woman. Men are physically bigger and stronger and, when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, unpredictable.

I used to be a barmaid when I was 18-20. Worked in some pretty rough pubs in Melbourne and New Zealand surrounded by violent outbursts, wiping the blood off the walls after the regular Friday/Saturday night stoushes.  I loved working as barmaid. Wouldn’t be the first time, not the last, that I would love something that was not good for me. 

 I can choose to view the loss of my car in the negative, or I can choose to interpret the evidence of the last ten weeks that it hasn’t been a negative loss, rather a necessary shedding of an attachment that was holding me back.  Adapt and overcome.  Been a lot easier than I thought it would be.  Been a lot of fun actually. I remembered how much I loved riding on trains, all the books I read commuting to work, and looking out the window at the passing scenery.

There’s a view across the suburban treetops to Mount Dandenong from the train as it passes over a high bridge that is breathtakingly beautiful. The holy mountain of William Ricketts. I recall the author J.K. Rowling saying that she received the inspiration for the Harry Potter books while riding on a train…..and that is an encouraging thought.

All the obstacles have been removed in so many uncountable ways.

More Heads-Up

Navigating The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: Part I and Part II ~ Blue Light Lady

h1

A 1000 Bars Create Amaze

July 29, 2011

My Native American teachers tell me that we are in the midst of earth changes that will culminate around the year 2013. They say the earth changes will bring heat, and floods, and upheaval on an enormous scale. I am struck by the fact that 50 million women will have achieved menopause by 2013. Since we, as women, are one with the earth, is our massive, collective change Her Change as well? Can we moderate her hot flashes? Give her ease from flooding? Soothe her emotional uproar? Emerge transformed together after our changes? How will we do it? With drugs, against the problems? With nature, blessed by all we are given? Will it matter to the Earth, Gaia, what choices I make in my menopause? What stories I tell myself? What I tell other women? ~ Susan Weed New Menopausal Years ~ Wise Woman Way

From The Muse

Well….if Gaia’s Change is going to be anything like mine has been……we are all so in trouble.  Seriously, just throw the booze, cigarettes and chocolate through the door and rrrrrrrrrrrruuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnn. 

May as well, get some exercise cause there’s going to be no place to hide.

Achieved menopause…..yah, I gotta put that on my next job application.

Relax and enjoy your hot flashes. Ride them like waves, feel them in your spine, ski the edges of your flushes, honor the volcanic heat of your core. ~ Susan Weed


 STFU Susan!  Really.  Did our Grandmothers have to put up with this crap?  NO. They got on with it.  In corsets!

h1

Hammer of the Gods

June 7, 2011
stained glass ceiling of Thanksgiving Chapel, Dallas
to express all life, with its difficulties, its forces, its joys, its torments, its frightening aspects. And then bit by bit, all that falls away and your arrive finally at a burst, an explosion of gold; you arrive at the summit.”

A Yod is formed when two planets make a sextile aspect and a third planet is opposite their mid-point. That third planet must make angles of 150 degrees with the other two. If you drew lines on the chart connecting the planets, you would get a Y-shaped formation that seems to point to one part of the horoscope.That 150 degree angle is called a quincunx, a strange minor aspect that, by itself, is off again, on again, favorable, unfavorable. The two planets making the quincunx seem to be out of joint. Imagine two waves going into and out of phase, first adding and then canceling each other out and you have the picture. Because of this, it is always difficult to say what the effect of a quincunx will be at any particular moment.

The result is steadier in a Yod since the power is focused. The “energy” of the two planets making the sextile seems directed to the house and sign containing that third planet. The effect of a Yod is said to be “fated” or show some special destiny. Oh sure, it sounds really impressive when you tell a client “Hey, you have a special destiny!” However, that’s nothing more than a “Barnum statement” and really says nothing. All that is really going on is an emphasis on one particular area of the life. Nonetheless, this focus frequently seems driven, compelling.  The Yod  pushes you and the solutions are seldom simple. It’s not nicknamed “The Finger of God” for nothing. ~ Bob Marks

About the Window

The Glory Window, which forms the 60-foot-high ceiling of the Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas, is one of the largest horizontally mounted stained-glass pieces in the world. Designed by French artist Gabriel Loire, the window symbolizes the blessing of the Divine descending to earth as well as the ascent of human praise and gratitude to God.

Chartres-de-Bretagne

There are a whole lot of Yods happening this Thors Day (9th June), which might mean we’ve all got a special destiny this week: or the circus is coming to town!

  1. Venus in Taurus sextile Ceres in Pisces quincunx Apollon in Libra
  2. Psyche  in Cancer sextile Moon/Juno in Virgo quincunx Pallas Athene/Vesta in Aquarius
  3. Eros in Aries sextile Pallas Athene in Aquarius quincunx Juno in Virgo
  4. Cupido in Sagittarius sextile Vesta in Aquarius quincunx Psyche in Cancer
  5. Mars in Taurus sextile Psyche in Cancer quincunx Cupido in Sagittarius
  6. Mercury in Gemini sextile Eros in Aries quincunx Poseidon in Scorpio
  7. Lucifer in Leo sextile Apollon in Libra quincunx Ceres in Pisces
  8. Admetos in Taurus sextile Ceres in Pisces quincunx Apollon in Libra
  9. Black Moon Lilith (mean) in Aries sextile Mercury in Gemini quincunx Poseidon in Scorpio

And if that isn’t going to keep us little Dickens out of trouble, there’s also a Grand Water Trine between Kronos-in-Cancer, Poseidon-in-Scorpio and Chiron-in-Pisces.  Two words I keep getting: heavy water

Of course, there’s probably a whole lot of other tasty Yods to find.  I’m sure there are a lot of Centaurs up there flipping each other off…

Personally, the Yod behind Door Number II is lighting up my Descendant. I expect to meet a squirrel with its nuts in Aquarius any time now….

h1

Looking for Lilith

June 1, 2011

Path of Lilith, artist Shane Coppage

So I was doing some writing last night, as I was reading John Sanford’s book “The Invisible Partners: how the male and female in each of us affects our relationships”, and I mused that Lilith is the animus.  Or rather, an exiled fragment of the animus….and that the daimon-lover is Lilith in disguise entering the active imagination to reconcile/redeem the Masculine Wound.

Sounds fanciful?  Well, isn’t the whole mythology surrounding Lilith rather fanciful and embroidered ~ The Alphabet of Ben Sira.  I found this interesting critique by Eliezer Segal over at ucalgary.  

The feminist critique of conventional values has not overlooked the Jewish tradition. Whether or not one acknowledges the validity of all the charges that have been leveled against the treatment of women in Jewish law and theology, it is hardly possible to ignore these issues.

As one who is normally sympathetic with feminist aspirations, I have often been disappointed with the scholarly standards of the debate, especially when it has been directed towards the classical texts of Judaism. In the course of polemical ideological exchanges, I find too frequently that sweeping generalizations are being supported by flimsy or questionable evidence, with a disturbing disregard for factual accuracy and historical context.

As an example of this sort of scholarly sloppiness, I wish to discuss an intriguing Hebrew legend that has found its way into dozens of recent works about Jewish attitudes towards women.

The legend in question was inspired by the Bible’s dual accounts of the creation of the first woman, which led its author to the conclusion that Adam had a firstwife before his marriage to Eve. Adam’s original mate was the demonic Lilith who had been fashioned, just like her male counterpart, from the dust of the earth. Lilith insisted from the outset on equal treatment, a fact which caused constant friction between the couple. Eventually the frustrated Lilith used her magical powers to fly away from her spouse. At Adam’s urging, God dispatched three angels to negotiate her return. When these angels made threats against Lilith’s demonic descendants, she countered that she would prey eternally upon newborn human babies, who could be saved only by invoking the protection of the three angels. In the end Lilith stood her ground and never returned to her husband.

The story implies that when Eve was afterwards fashioned out of Adam’s rib (symbolic of her subjection to him), this was to serve as an antidote to Lilith’s short-lived attempt at egalitarianism. Here, declare the feminists matronizingly, we have a clear statement of the Rabbinic Attitude Towards Women!

There is only one slight problem with this theory: The story of Lilith is not actually found in any authentic Rabbinic tradition. Although it is repeatedly cited as a “Rabbinic legend” or a “midrash,” it is not recorded in any ancient Jewish text!

The tale of Lilith originates in a medieval work called “the Alphabet of Ben-Sira,” a work whose relationship to the conventional streams of Judaism is, to say the least, problematic.

The unknown author of this work has filled it with many elements that seem designed to upset the sensibilities of traditional Jews. In particular, the heroes of the Bible and Talmud are frequently portrayed in the most perverse colours. Thus, the book’s protagonist, Ben-Sira, is said to have issued from an incestuous union between the prophet Jeremiah and his daughter. Joshua is described as a buffoon too fat to ride a horse. King David comes across as a heartless and spiteful figure who secretly delights in the death of his son Absalom, while putting on a disingenuous public display of grief. The book is consistently sounding the praises of hypocritical and insincere behaviour.

So shocking and abhorrent are some of the contents of “the Alphabet of Ben-Sira” that modern scholars have been at a loss to explain why anyone would have written such a book. Some see it as an impious digest of risqué folk-tales. Others have suggested that it was a polemical broadside aimed at Christians, Karaites, or some other opposing movement. I personally would not rule out the possibility that it was actually an anti-Jewish satire–though, to be sure, it did come to be accepted by the Jewish mystics of medieval Germany; and amulets to fend off the vengeful Lilith became an essential protection for newborn infants in many Jewish communities.

Buckle, Oseburg Viking

Eventually the tale of Lilith was included in a popular English-language compendium of Rabbinic legend, and some uncritical readers–unable or unwilling to check after the editor’s sources–cited it as a representative Rabbinic statement on the topic. As tends to happen in such instances, subsequent authors kept copying from one another until the original error turned into an unchallenged historical fact.

Certainly there are volumes of real texts and traditions that could benefit from a searching and critical feminist analysis, and it is a shame to focus so much intellectual energy on a dubious and uncharacteristic legend of this sort.

Lilith Mosaic

 Created by toadranchlady

Why then do we perpetuate the scurrilous rumours  that the Scribe Jesus ben Sirach fashioned about Lilith?  Why have we allowed Sirach to walk through our minds with his dirty feet and teach us his version of the ABCs of Lilith?

The historical Lilith ~ what does that mean exactly?  The historical Lilith as others have written her and perceive her to be; or the historical Lilith in context and relationship to the life we have led, the life we are living, and the life we intend to live.  Astrologically, archetypically, I have put aside the false Lilith humbug , the banality of her evildoing that is no more than the creation of one man’s imagination.

 Lilith casts a spell on mankind?  No, not at all. It was Ben Sirach as a Shadow Scribe who has taken all of us for a ride.

 

h1

To Lilith…thanks for everything,

May 25, 2011

Julie Newmar Writes ~ The Fury and the Physician

h1

Living in a Shell

April 13, 2011
Nautilus House

Read More at Geekologie

 “There is,” Gwin writes, “such a thing as crazy-mother bonding. This can occur unexpectedly anytime two women who have crazy mothers are having a conversation. . . . There are more crazy mothers than you might think.”

~ Wishing for Snow: A Memoir ~ Minrose Gwin

About Daughters of Madness

June was 9 years old when she came home from school and her schizophrenic mother met her at the door, angrily demanding to know, “Who the hell are you? What are you doing in my house?” In another family, Tess repeatedly saw her mother wait outside church then scream at family friends as the emerged, accusing them of spying on and plotting to kill her. Five-year-old Tess and her 7-year-old brother would just cry, begging their mother to take them home as onlookers stared. These are just two of the stories gathered for this book as psychotherapist Nathiel conducted interviews. The children, now adults, grew up with mentally ill mothers at a time when mental illness was even more stigmatizing than it is today. They are what Nathiel calls “the daughters of madness,” and their young lives were lived on shaky ground. “Telling someone that there’s mental illness in your family, and watching the reaction is not for the faint-hearted,” the therapist says, quoting another’s research. But, she adds, “Telling them that it is your mother who is mentally ill certainly ups the ante.” A veteran therapist with 35 years experience, Nathiel takes us into this traumatic world–with each of her chapters covering a major developmental period for the daughter of a mentally ill mother–and then explains how these now-adult daughters faced and coped with mental illness in their mothers.

While the stories of these daughters are central to the book, Nathiel also offers her professional insights into exactly how maternal impairment affects infants, children, and adolescents. Women, significantly more than men, are often diagnosed with serious mental illness after they become parents. So what effect does a mentally ill mother have on a growing child, teenager or adult daughter, who looks to her not only for the deepest and most abiding love, but also a sense of what the world is all about? Nathiel also makes accessible the latest research on interpersonal neurobiology, attachment, and the way a child’s brain and mind develop in the contest of that relationship. Some of the major topics addressed include:

    * Feelings of guilt in the child – Is it my fault?
    * Keeping the secret
    * Role reversal – when child acts as parent
    * Fear of the same fate
    * Building resilience and accepting help
    * Insights from daughters of mothers who were schizophrenic, psychotic, severely depressed, paranoid, and personality-disordered.

Manic Depression by James Hammons

You talk about the importance of the connection between mothers and daughters because daughters identify with their mothers, and the mother is the first model for how to be a “woman.” What impact does having a mentally ill mother do to a daughter’s sense of self?

Susan Nathiel: There are two parts to this answer. First, when a child’s primary care-giver (usually mother) is impaired psychologically, this has an overall effect on the child’s developing sense of self. A core sense of self is strongest when the caregiver can be reasonably attentive, can have many more positive interactions than negative with the child, and can mirror the child’s expressions and experiences. No mother is perfect, obviously. But a child’s sense of the world and her place in it, and her place in her own body and mind, is formed in the web of interaction with the mother, hour to hour and day to day and year to year.

Manic Depression by neogothic-jam on deviantart

The second part of the answer has to do more specifically with being the daughter of an impaired mother. For a young child, “how mother is” and “how women are” can be one and the same. So if mother is volatile, mean, depressed, or neglectful, this can be confusing to the daughter. Being a woman may seem to be a bad thing, so a girl may do her best to be not-like-her-mother. Many women I interviewed said they didn’t really know how to be a “woman” – they didn’t admire their mother, or want to be anything like her. It was very hard to separate what was the illness, what was the person, and what was the woman. So if a girl doesn’t want to be anything like her mother, where does she find a role model? “Being a woman” is something we learn most easily by identifying with a woman we want to emulate – it’s not something we naturally know how to be.

Nautilus cutaway

Shell Essences

Fossil Nautilus: Connecting to the Love Within. Remembrance of Forgotten Gifts

Totemic Energy

Nautilus – A symbol of beauty and proportional perfection. When a nautilus appears in a dream or meditation, it is there to teach you how to make your living environment a safe and comfortable place to be.  Nautilus teaches you to sense, intuitively, the sacred geometry of any environment.
 
 
 

 

 

The Nautilus

Artist: Lynette Shelley, Curious Creatures

h1

Il Violino Rossi

April 6, 2011

Cesca & Anna, The Red Violin

The Story.. 

Nicolò Bussotti  is a violin maker who is married to Anna Rudolfi, pregnant with their first child. Anna is worried about her own health, as she believes her age may complicate her pregnancy and birth, but Nicolo is confident, saying that he has the best people available when she is due for delivery. Anna sees her servant Cesca  with questions about her child’s future, Cesca uses a form of tarot cards to determine this.

Astronaut Eugene Cernan, Apollo 17 Mission Commander. Last Man on the Moon, Dec 14 1972

Cesca cannot determine the future of someone not born, but she does offer to read Anna’s future instead. Anna chooses five cards, and Cesca’s first card (The Moon) signifies that Anna would live a long life.

Ronald Ryan, last person legally executed in Australia. Hung 3 Feb 1967

Cesca predicts the second card (The hanged man) means disease and suffering for those around Anna.

"Le genie du mal" or The Genius of Evil by Guillaume Geefs, 1848

Cesca’s third card is Il Diavolo (the devil), and she explains that Anna will meet a handsome and intelligent man, that will seduce her “with his talent and worse”.

"The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential" ` The Nuremberg Code:

Cesca predicts the fourth card (Justice) means tough times ahead, featuring a trial and persecution.

Read it and Weep

The final card (Death) Cesca sees does not predict death, but due to the positioning (the card is seen upside down), she sees it as something else, as a rebirth, where Anna will be pursued by many suitors and that there shall be lots of money involved.

h1

I have to do what again…?

March 7, 2011

Naaaaah, I don't think so!

Image Credit: Dymphna’s Road

Earth is fully in her own transformation. This is not a state of pathology or from being ruined by humans. This is a natural state that happens when growth occurs and is a sign of health. Moving water is healthy. Stagnant water is not. If there was no energy moving at all on Earth, it would be a sign of a dying planet.

We need to hold our own “ground” during this time. Energetically Earth has been our ground, or stabilizing force,  but as she is deep into transformation we must hold that quality for her. This is an energetic stance of balance and stabilization.

We are NOT in a state of evolution but in a state of involution. In evolution, we grow or transform from the current state we are in. During involution the new level comes down onto the planet. All that’s required is to step out of the old state of being and into the new one. It’s effortless.

The new state of being or the new paradigm is ALREADY HERE. We don’t need to wait for some big moment in 2012. We can start experiencing it now. I’m in the new energies and let me tell you…the view is great!

It’s not enough to be in soul purpose anymore (or trying to get there). We need to be in soul purpose aligned to the Earth. Which is transforming at a tremendous rate and requires us to stay current with her to be effective.

About Gia Combs-Ramirez

I am a soul intuitive and energy healer, a master of energy and consciousness. With my spiritual gifts for reading energy, I am able to look at your soul’s perspective of your life and see if you are in alignment with it at a personal level. If not, then with energy healing, I can align you from personal to spiritual levels. The results: A life of joy, grace, empowerment and ease.

My bio…

I grew up on a dude ranch outside a small town in Montana. Summers were heaven, school time was hell. We didn’t have a TV, radio was almost nonexistent and our local library was the Bookmobile that occasionally came through town. Needless to say, words like “psychic, clairvoyant, healer” were not part of our vocabulary. It was only later that I discovered my greatest joys in the summer had to do with Nature Spirits.

At age 14, I stated my definitive purpose in life: I wanted to grow up to be a rancher’s wife (women’s lib was slow to come to Montana). My life promptly went other directions. I’ll share some of those stories in more posts to come, but much like following one link to another, then to another, it would look like this: Montana> Mexico> Marriage 1> Divorce> Massage School in New Mexico> Marriage 2> Energy Healing> Developing Reading Energy> Montana> Discovery of Crystalline Consciousness Technique™> Development of CCT classes> Healing with horses> Healing the Earth> Study of new energy paradigms. Read more: The Science of Energy Healing

h1

What’s Cooking?

February 21, 2011

Image Credit: A Little Brit of Heaven

My birthday cake was her latest project because it was not from a mix but instead built from scratch – the flour, the baking soda, lemon-flavored because at eight that had been my request; I had developed a strong love for sour. We’d looked through several cookbooks together to find just the right one, and the smell in the kitchen was overpoweringly pleasant. To be clear: the bite I ate was delicious. Warm citrus-baked batter lightness enfolded by cool deep dark swirled sugar.

But the day was darkening outside, and as I finished that first bite, as that first impression faded, I felt a subtle shift inside, an unexpected reaction. As if a sensor, so far buried deep inside me, raised its scope to scan around, alerting my mouth to something new. Because the goodness of the ingredients – the fine chocolate, the freshest lemons – seemed like a cover over something larger and darker, and the taste of what was underneath was beginning to push up from the bite.

I could absolutely taste the chocolate, but in drifts and traces, in an unfurling, or an opening, it seemed that my mouth was also filling with the taste of smallness, the sensation of shrinking, of upset, tasting a distance I somehow knew was connected to my mother, tasting a crowded sense of her thinking, a spiral, like I could almost even taste the grit in her jaw that had created the headache that meant she had to take as many aspirins as were necessary, a white dotted line of them in a row on the nightstand like an ellipsis to her comment: I’m just going to lie down . . ..

 

Image Credit: The Housewives’ Tarot, 78 Notes to Self

None of it was a bad taste, so much, but there was a kind of lack of wholeness to the flavors that made it taste hollow, like the lemon and chocolate were just surrounding a hollowness. My mother’s able hands had made the cake, and her mind had known how to balance the ingredients, but she was not there, in it.

It so scared me that I took a knife from a drawer and cut out a big slice, ruining the circle, because I had to check again right that second, and I put it on a pink-flowered plate and grabbed a napkin from the napkin drawer. My heart was beating fast. Eddie Oakley shrank to a pinpoint. I was hoping I’d imaged it – maybe it was a bad lemon? or old sugar? – although I knew, even as a thought it, that what I’d tasted had nothing to do with ingredients – and I flipped on the light and took the plate in the other room to my favorite chair, the one with the orange-striped pattern, and with each bite, I thought – mmmm, so good, the best ever, yum – but in each bite: absence, hunger, spiraling, hollows.

This cake that my mother had made just for me, her daughter, whom she loved so much I could see her clench her fists from overflow sometimes when I came home from school, and when she would hug me hello I could feel how inadequate the hug was for how much she wanted to give.

I ate the whole piece, desperate to prove myself wrong.

~ Extract from The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender

1950s~ Mother and daughter at kitchen table, preparing ingredients in mixer for baking.

Image Credit: Blessed Femina 

“The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” is fully grounded in the lives of overly perceptive children, whose emotional antennae pick up way more at a family dinner than the correct way to hold a knife and fork. ~ Read book review on Stumbleupon by Yvonne Zip