Three Cyclic Returns
doing the work, naming the spells/spelling the name
So, once again you found me looking at words, using word alchemy to transform “running in circles” into “course concentration,” wondering at the fact that so often, no matter where we start, we end up back there again. What’s in it for you?
Give me a few words about cycles, and then I’ll tell you.
That equation of running in circles to getting nowhere based on the aim of getting from one point to another distant point: if your perspective is too close, the earth looks flat too. If you’re moving like the second hand on the clock face, you’ll get back to where you started while the hour hand has barely moved. Your gut needs your brain and your brain needs your gut, but brain cells last years while gut cells last only days. You are a patterned culmination of multiple cycles moving in their different speeds and rhythms, you are the greater-than sum of those parts.
Here’s a table listing the life cycles of the different cells that comprise the wholes we think we are.
Wheels within wheels, coexisting cycles, community circles, days, moons, journeys around the sun.
And I have yet to think through how the centrifugal and centripetal forces impact on all those cycles, but I’ve touched the hem of that wonder.
Here are three places I departed from and have cyclically returned to just now--have had to return to, never mind where I started from; one recent, one medium-term, and one from my remoter past:
Yes, I am working with herbs again. This I never really stopped, but the last four or so months full-time at the clinic meant that my time out in the elements gathering plant material was down to almost nothing. A month or so ago, all the desert willow trees all over town came into bloom within a few days of one another, and everywhere I drove I had tears in my eyes seeing them. I’ve had fresh desert willow blossom water a few times in the last couple weeks. I’d love to share!
I am working on bellies again. I haven’t talked about this very much for a while, and that’s going to change. I’m a certified practitioner of Chi Nei Tsang--”applied Chi Kung in internal organs treatment”--which is a wonderful beyond-bodywork modality centered on the navel (more circles and circular motions). I had the enormous privilege of studying with master teacher Gilles Marin back when I was still in Berkeley, and I constantly find myself quoting him, even in the years that I haven’t been actively doing the work.
Now, I’m rereading his wonderful book. I’m working on my own belly. I worked with patients at the clinic and some others. This system of subtle movements directs and brings awareness to the chi--the life-force energy--and working with it in the center of a person’s body. All the major energy pathways pass through the navel area.
Not only does it help with digestion/absorption/assimilation; I saw it help with conditions as diverse as asthma and knee pain, with huge components of emotional release or even past-life regression. Naturally, then, when I was first becoming proficient in this work I noticed that the more I did the work, the finer my perceptions became. I am so ready to bring this back as a center of concentration. It demands that the practitioner work on herself wholeheartedly in order to help her patients find their own conditions for healing and access their own innate self-healing powers. I’m ready for that.
The final cyclic recurrence for today goes all the way back to two thirds of my lifetime ago. Very few people will remember this now, but until I was 13, my name was spelled Ila, with an initial “I.” When I was 13, I was so fed up with being bullied about my name (it’s a long story, but the bullying was exacerbated by the phrase “dies irae, dies illa” from the Requiem mass the whole school was learning to sing), and I decided that changing the spelling would help.
And so, ever since I’ve had to correct people who think I’m “Ella,” and Google Translate thinks I’m simply “she” (from Portuguese).
Given that there are so many writing systems/alphabets that represent sounds differently, it shouldn’t matter too much how a name is spelled--or should it? The word is spell--it’s part of my constitutional magic! I’ve always sensed a lot of power and importance in names and naming, and I’m very careful how I use other people’s names.
Lately, I’ve seriously been thinking about going back to spelling my name as it appears on my birth certificate. Making it happen on passports/green card/social security, etc., etc., is a whole other question, of course, but I’m trying it on for size, coming back around to where I started from.
I’d love feedback on this issue. And I’m joyfully available to work with you on your belly, if you’re in the Tucson area.