May 03, 2012
"I know a place ... "
I have some still-sharp memories of Timbers Girl Scout Camp, when I was there in the early 70s. Actually, 1972 was my last summer there -- my parents sponsored me for a blissful double session: a whole month! And we would sing songs around the campfire nightly. I remember one in particular:
"I know a place where no one ever goes
Where there’s peace and quiet, beauty and repose
It’s hidden in a valley beside a mountain stream
And lying there beside it
I find that I can dream ... "
Mental imagery is a crucial component of meditation and what I will call "liturgical magick."
When I was taking my online ordination courses, one of the sources hosted was a .pdf of an old book on the basics of ceremonial magick. When I was more involved with NeoPaganism in this area I would guide people through relaxation visualizations. It was a lot of work to keep the narrative going (once upon a time being a Dungeonmaster in AD&D was good training) and I always appreciated it when someone would return the favor and guide me.
The feminist spirituality classic Motherwit by Diane Mariechild and The Spiral Dance by Starhawk both introduced me to creative visualizations long before my ordination studies in 2005. And I've always been a strongly visual (even slightly eidetic) person. So I often take refuge in visualizations of one kind or another.
[The role of meditation and visualization both in target archery is so well-reported that I'll pass on adding my amateur's perspective.]
When I need the refuge of that place that no one (but me) ever goes, I have a mental Rollodex of favorites:
When I need grounding/Centering/Shielding: the Temple Church in medieval London. I enter between an armed Saracen knight on one side, a Templar knight on the other. These two "opposites" are reconciled in single duty, and walking between them I know I enter in to a secure place of quiet and safety. They will keep "intruders" (thoughts & distractions) out.
When I need a big fresh lungful of settled-down calm-mind air: Imagining any of the shores I've been to, but most especially Lake Michigan at Point Betsie or at Old Indian Trail in the Sleeping Bear Lakeshore area. The waves pound in, the wind streams past, tears come to my eyes. I hear the roar of water striking sand and the call of gulls. There's nothing and no one else.
When I need to block voices and distractions in settings of crowds and chatty colleagues:
I am in a crowded shopping mall with music blaring, merchants in front of their "storefronts" trying to outshout each other regarding the quality of their wares ... I'm being jostled and harried. But then I see a dark entrance that has a simple sign, "ROSARIES," and when I go in, it's quiet and smells faintly of incense. There are counters full of display cases of rosaries, from all lands and all eras. There are only a few other people in the shop, and the Keeper is a woman who looks like the character Guinan from Star Trek: Next Generation. I know that I am welcome to breathe in the incense, spend as much time as I want looking, praying, handling the beads.
I think this last image is probably my most powerful.
I *do* know a place!
May 01, 2012
A Model of Patience & Chivalry
Don't ask me how this happened ... I can't remember the first step down the slippery slope ... but somewhere/somehow one of the voices in my head found my mouth-hole and said through it SURE I'D BE DELIGHTED TO START TRAINING TO BE A TARGET ARCHERY MARSHAL.
And I thought it only meant inspecting bows and arrows and other tackle. Heck, you didn't even have to, you know, be able to score 20 pts. at 20 yards with six arrows. NOW there's this fine print about "How a Marshal shall behave."
WHAT? You mean I have to [Austin Powers accent here] BEEEE-have?
Actually, it should come as no surprise -- and it really doesn't -- that along with the Specs for tackle and equipment should also come some guidelines for marshal deportment. Unlike our noble colleagues the heavy fighters with their nice duct-taped rattan make-believe swords; and more closely our rapier comrade kin with real steel (for the most part) and "safeties": We folk of the bow are using real weapons. It's not just a nicety to call HOLD as Sir Eatsalot is on one leg and is huffing and might need a bit of a breather. A flight of arrows mis-timed at the Line can really injure or kill someone. Tackle dysfunctions really can hurt you: I just heard a story recently about a broken spine that an archer put through his bow hand at full draw. Yes. You WILL file AN INCIDENT REPORT.
More recently at a youth event where archery was a major component, it was a matter of first, fitting bows to young people who'd never drawn a bow before, and then showing them how to nock an arrow. Several times a right-handed archer pivoted right to nock (on the left of the shelf, which is correct) but then nocked pointing TOWARD the archer on the right. It's an easy, natural, first-timer thing to do. (In fact I catch myself tending that way when I nock, even now.)
So the Marshal-In-Training (me) has to be gentle but firm and encouraging but specific that please, nock your arrow pointing toward the target, thank you.
I can manage this with grace and good cheer with the under-age-16 crowd, but my palms start to sweat in anticipation by roleplaying Lord Dungsschmertz and his atomic crossbow, and he has an ISSUE.
I was awfulizing this empitheatre with myself when I realized that in fact, I had all sorts of attitudes that I was going to have to "own" and face before I could ever be alone at the Line with archers to facilitate. It's not just what the archers bring with them, eyesight or tackle or hopes/fears/frustrations/dreams. It's my attitude as a marshal that I need to consider as well, what I'm bringing with ME.
Right Attitude and the discipline of Loving Service. (The spirit of Chivalry.)