A few last snow pictures for you, for in fact the snow is already gone -- it vanished as suddenly as it came. We went to sleep one night to icy white slopes and woke to find green grass hills again, snowmelt flooding the rivers and streams. Not a patch of snow or ice was left. Things can change so quickly.
This time last year, I was traveling through a deep, dark forest that seemed to have no end; now the road winds in new directions and I'm grateful for all that's changed since then: for the ways that bodies and psyches heal; for creative hands and resilient spirits; for the blessings of family, community, and the quiet miracle of daily living.
Today's quotes go out to any of you who are walking through your own dark woods right now. May there be trees to befriend you, and foxes to guide you, and stories to light the way.
"In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?" - Gabrielle Roth
'“Stories are medicine. I have been taken with stories since I heard my first. They have such power; they do not require that we do, be, act, anything — we need only listen.” - Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“I had lines inside me, a string of guiding lights. I had language. Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines. What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination. I had been damaged, and a very important part of me had been destroyed - that was my reality, the facts of my life. But on the other side of the facts was who I could be, how I could feel. And as long as I had words for that, images for that, stories for that, then I wasn't lost.” - Jeanette Winterson
“There are certain children who are told they are too sensitive, and there are certain adults who believe sensitivity is a problem that can be fixed in the way that crooked teeth can be fixed and made straight. And when these two come together you get a fairytale, a kind of story with hopelessness in it. I believe there is something in these old stories that does what singing does to words. They have transformational capabilities, in the way melody can transform mood. They can't transform your actual situation, but they can transform your experience of it. We don't create a fantasy world to escape reality, we create it to be able to stay. I believe we have always done this, used images to stand and understand what otherwise would be intolerable.” - Lynda Barry (via Gail Arlene de Vos)
“When you enter the woods of a fairy tale and it is night, the trees tower on either side of the path. They loom large because everything in the world of fairy tales is blown out of proportion. If the owl shouts, the otherwise deathly silence magnifies its call. The tasks you are given to do (by the witch, by the stepmother, by the wise old woman) are insurmountable - pull a single hair from the crescent moon bear's throat; separate a bowl's worth of poppy seeds from a pile of dirt. The forest seems endless. But when you do reach the daylight, triumphantly carrying the particular hair or having outwitted the wolf; when the owl is once again a shy bird and the trees only a lush canopy filtering the sun, the world is forever changed for your having seen it otherwise. From now on, when you come upon darkness, you'll know it has dimension. You'll know how closely poppy seeds and dirt resemble each other. The forest will be just another story that has absorbed you, taken you through its paces, and cast you out again to your home with its rattling windows..." - Elizabeth J. Andrew
"Where you come from does matter -- but not nearly as much as where you are headed.” - Jodi Picoult
For more on rites-of-passage journeys in myth and fairy tales, see the Winter 2006 "Healing and Transformation" issue of The Journal of Mythic Arts.