The Owl of Athena

I had a mystical encounter with an owl, considering I believe  a washer winked at me this is not a surprising revelation.

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Once upon a time, in a place …..Let’s say, I was young, and I was a waiter that made between 100 and 2oo hundred dollars cash a night in 1987. I paid no taxes on tips and had no responsibilities in my life outside of a job, rent, and my cat. The money I made was more than plenty.

But one night I made less when I felt I deserved more.  As I walked home  thru the Uof I campus I argued in my head with the man that didn’t pay me what I was worthy of. I bitched to myself about the 100, rather than the 200 dollars in my pocket. I tromped through the snow glaring at my feet as I huffed in the cold. My body was anger. When I crossed Linn Street I came up against the big church there for which I had, and still have no particular feeling.  In the flat cropped hedges that surround it sat an enormous owl. When I saw the owl, my mind immediately heard this admonishment,

“Never accept the worry and the angry of money into your body.”

I stopped dead. The owl sat still.

It spoke to me. I heard it. Period.  And that voice changed me.

I worked as a waiter for a long time after that , and I got a lot of bad tips, but never again did I relate money to my personal value, never again did  become the angry the owl  had warned against.

This was a great gift, from whom, I don’t know.  The owl sat outside a church, so perhaps the father god? It was an owl, the emblem of goddess wisdom, could have been the mother god. Or was it my own divinity, my consciousness, coming to me in exactly the guise I needed, to hear the message?  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.

I chose to have the owl of Athena tattooed on my shoulder as a reminder of this epiphany  life  granted me because I  am entertained and consoled by the foibles and insanity of the Greek pantheon, but what I am choosing is metaphor– depth, and the recognition and celebration of our inability to absolutely know. I believe this is the great lesson.  I learned it from an Owl.

The Master keeps her mind
always at one with the Tao;
that is what gives her her radiance.

The Tao is ungraspable.
How can her mind be at one with it?
Because she doesn’t cling to ideas.

Tao te Ching

Has a life changing epiphany ever come to you from an unusual source?

© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer

The Present Witness

We live on the demarcation line of history. Our land is bordered by a road in the front and a camino (footpath) in the back. On the road side, the terrain flows into flatlands that tractors can access. Behind the camino, the fields scale back up the mountain, and can only be planted by hand.

The rain has made it clear it’s here to stay, and planting time is in full swing. In Iowa, my homeland, this means the vast, black sea of topsoil is laid bare, and gargantuan farm equipment roam the plains like imperial walkers, dwarfing all natural objects, their drone and growls replacing the cicada’s song and long gone predators. Here in Mexico on the other side of the road, the zero-till trackers crush the clay into brick, giving one pause if you consider the incredible strength of a seed, and how it manages to force it’s escape from the trampled earth. It’s a triumph of nature, they’re sung into the stream of existence by the sun’s siren song.

Behind the camino, the slish of a chuso (hand tool for planting) renting the soil, and the occasional chink as it bounces off stone can be heard in the still of the afternoon, followed by the tapping of a huarache on the newly planted mound. The one hold out in the flatlands, Don Bolillo, still plows his cacahuate (peanut) field with mules, but it is only because they do not yet have a peanut planter in the area. Continue reading

Common Gods

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Common gods is a series about objects and concepts I think we unconsciously worship or pay homage to.

Zea mays

This piece immerged after reading Michael Pollen’s Zea Mays section, in the Botany of Desire. I was captivated by the idea of a tyrannical plant, a plant with intent.

Within the small scroll there is a quote from Walden.

“All that I can say, then, with respect to farming on a large scale- I have always cultivated a garden-was that I had had my seeds ready. Many think that seeds improve with age. I have no doubt that time discriminates between the good and the bad; and when at last I shall plant I will less likely be disappointed. But I would say to my fellows, once and for all, as long as possible live free and uncommitted. It makes but little difference if you are committed to a farm or a county jail.”

True Love

The components of this piece are: a fortune from a fortune cookie that reads, ‘ You will find someone special for whom you have been waiting, very soon’, the myth of Atalanta and the golden apples, the devil and Continue reading