Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The End

For those that have gone before me.
Kavyn Brian Warren

This gluebook was created using the prompt: last end final.

An Ancestor Be

Regardless of your ability
to embrace the presence and influence
of ancestors, it is easy to acknowledge a debt
to 'what has come before' -- personally
and as a culture.

One might muse then,
on what kind of ancestor you will be --
what footsteps left on the sands,
what handholds etched
on craggy cliffs --
that might help children
find their way.

consider ...


For those who drift only partly awakened,
I can be there --
need only be there --
be there --
This is the finest of attentions --
to … be the hidden handmaiden of dreams,
to … guide in silence,
to … conduct a symphony of hopes,
to … gather discarded prayers into a basket of fairywind.
Hush -- hush, for though they slumber
by choice and Current blend --
someday they will remember,
and search your cheek
for tears of joy.

Ancient View

In Mongolian Shamanism mythos,
the touch and relevance of ancestors
was embraced in several special ways.

It was believed that each person had seven souls;
some assigned (destined) to various dominions
as a return of spirit to source,
but others whose function was influenced
by the family that remained.

All souls spend a time in the 'Lower Kingdom'
from which they could sometimes be 'saved',
usually by the interaction of a Shaman.
This embraced conditions of coma
and near death experience. In both, the family
had to desire and petition for the return.

One soul hovered near the family home (camp)
in order to provide council and assuage grief.
Often people 'Heard' the voice of this spirit
as if they were still alive. Eventually this influence
diminished. However, the family by group will
or ritual could install this 'soul' in an object
near the home for eternity -- usually a favored
tree or rock, from which it's presence would be
known by future generations.

One soul went to the Upper Kingdom (Tengri),
To provide a communication link with the
demi-gods of the weather. People did not pray
to the Tengri itself, but to their ancestors there.

NOTE: none of this was considered 'religious' --
The other four souls returned to Source
Completely outside and distinct from the
Known and imagined worlds of the Three Kingdoms
(seven thousand years before the 'Rings'). While there
was no possible communication with these souls,
it was felt that the way a person lived their life
had an influence on how these souls behaved
in the shaping of the universe. These four 'aspects'
of being roughly can be equated with,
Mind, Soul, Heart and Spirit with which you
Might be more familiar.

Thus any ancestor might have influence on future
generations in a myriad of complex ways -- all revered.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Organised Disorganisation - Sepia Ancestors

The way to the Isle of Ancestors was laid out before
me, in a way that I could follow, but knew
not where it would lead. None of it made sense,
over the water to the isle, in another time,
another place. I was robed in red, safe
and protected, purposeful and expectant.
When I reached the guide she said nothing,
unusually quiet. I glanced in question, not
knowing why I was here -- none of the thoughts
I had found answers in the mist that smelled
of ancient incense and sounded like a sea of small
bells. I felt a discontent, a sense of needless hardship
inside, a heaviness that mildly aggravated.
"Long ago," came a voice, "This was how it was."
A guide pointed to a patch of ground, stubbornly held
by womenfolk in dark clothing, proud but worn by it.
At first I didn't understand. "They are so sombre,
clothed in dark up to their necks, yet handsome and
intelligent..." And they seemed to have something to
say, as the guide indicated toward them again.
"You want colours," they said. "Yes," I said, facing
them with respect and kindness.
"Well it's no good asking us. We come from long ago and
far away. We don't remember when the sea was alive
with the sound of small bells."
Confused, I sat on a mound of simple earth, bare of
life and song. I saw them, bound as they were in manner,
as surely as if they had been tied up by an absent
captor. Inside me there was a vague sense of aggravation.
"Why did you come here? You know we are set in our
ways, as surely as if we were made of stone."
"I thought to..." I said, part of me knowing it was unnecessary
to go on.
As I spoke with them, clear as a bell, some curled up and went
to sleep in their dark robes, a deep and peaceful slumber.
"Our time was lived. We were made for the dark. We were
made that way..." the elder said. In a corner of her
eyes there was a tear that sparkled like a diamond. A hint
of the bell sea? I thought.
"Be at peace," I said aloud, "I have nothing to admonish you with...you are the
foundation that was. I accept you. I accept your strengths as
part of the whole, and bid you rest now."
"Well and good," said the elder, proud and regal looking, her
hair tied back in an ancient design, dark and lovely. "Then
we, no I, shall give you something, something from us..."
I looked down to see an ancient sepia dragon sitting serenely
in my lap, important against my red robe.
"I feared you would not..." I said, looking from the ancient art
back to my elder, whose regal countenance had always
made my sentences fall away.
"Understand? We know the patterns of the earth, and we were
one of them. Each pattern is different, and we lived our pattern. Now
you may add the colour that we need, in your own pattern."
I smiled then, finally understanding the disorganisation of
organisation. The thread lingered, yet was forever separate,
forever joined, but different. It was meant to be different. This
was the truth of the elders, to whom I had sworn absolute loyalty.
My elder opened her robe a little, and beneath the dark was
a range of colour, that had always been there, yet was always
obscured. I was moved by the sight. "You knew it was there," I
"Always," she said, "Yet not, if you understand me."
Expecting her to sleep, like the others, in their calm state,
like wind-formed rocks that seem to lean of a need for the earth,
and the grateful peace of support.
"You would want to rest now, too," I said, rolling the ancient art into
a scroll to take with me, and rising from the mound of earth.
"Not yet," she said, with a slight smile. "I am your guardian, as
strong as any you will find. My name is as you know it, and
will always be..."
The heaviness lifted from inside me, and I knew it was impossible,
and unnecessary, she would think, to thank her. She had always
done as was expected, and knew the hard roads. I told her I was glad she
was here, glad she was there to watch that I would remain,
forever the same, yet forever different. She said that
was the way of the ancestors.
copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Soul Sisters on Isle of Ancestors

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Heather and Sibyl acknowledge
that they are one
are companions
have walked this way

Sunday, January 29, 2006

For All My Ancestors

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Forever entwined
we will always
be as one

my ancestor

i never knew my paternal grandfather. He passed away a couple of years before i was born.

Throughout all these years even when i was growing up, i only regarded him as a distant relative, someone i never knew.. until recently. A couple of months back, as i was clearing dad's place after his funeral, i came across Ah Gong's photos. For some reasons unknown to even me, i took dad's black & white old photos and amongst those, this photo of Ah Gong.

Grandfather was originally from Chaoyang district in Shantou city, Guangdong. Born to a poor Teochew family, he and his 2 other brothers (there were five of them) left home to find their fortune in Nanyang (South East Asia). That was in the early 1900s and he was only he his late teens then. He settled in Singapore while his brothers settled in Malaysia and Brunei respectively.

I was told that he was an industrious, ambitious and extremely hardworking man. He started his Chinese rice wine business from scratch. Although a teetoller and a non-smoker, he created his own self concorted rice wine which he sold to anybody and everybody who wanted to drink. Every morning, he started at 6am to sell to all the merchants in Chinatown and more often than not, would end his day around 10pm.

Dad said he was a tyrant - a stern, autocratic traditional Chinese businessman who would not hesitate to cane his children if they play truant from school or if they refused to do their calligraphy writing. Like most of the successful Chinese merchants before the 1960s, he had a few wives - 3 to be exact, and many children - 2 adopted sons, 6 sons and 6 daughters. (How he managed to rule his big household and maintained family harmony, i certainly have no idea but he must be a darn good manager and head of the family)

Ah Gong, although we have never met, i must tell you that I am very very grateful to you because whatever you achieved have lasted through your next 2-3 generations.

Ever since we took away your ancestral tablet after dad became a Christian 20 yrs ago, we stopped worshipping you... but this year, for some reason, God wants me to get acquainted with you again.

Ah Gong, I pay my respects to you. i hope i will do you proud and i make sure i will take care of Fourth Aunt for you and for Dad.

Have a good New Year.

Chinese New Year Visit - Spirit Quilts

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During your visit to the Isle of Ancestors, as a part of Chinese New Year 2006, take the time to make a spirit quilt like one of these by Patricia Montgomery. Don't feel compelled to make your spirit quilt from fabric.

You could simply take a large piece of paper and create a quilt collage using papers and glue or you might draw quilt squares and fill them in with a combination of sketches and collage. Alternatively you might produce something using photoshop or make a spirit quilt style altered book.

The possibilities are endless.