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Ritual B — Week 4 — Tattvamasi

Updated: Oct 14

Ritual B — Week 4 — Tattvamasi

Steps for Ritual:

1. Choose a place to take a walk. Walked the Botanic Gardens this morning ending up in the Rhododendron Dell.

2. Choose a poem by someone you have had proximity with in one or more of your places. Think of this as extended family, some close, some more distant.

Whisper that poem five times while you walk. Feel each step and breath. Feel the wind participate with your breath.

Today, that poem is “Gigan ix.” By Ruth Ellen Kocher. I memorized the short poem and recited as I walked.

3. Find a plant. Go based on feel. Try to see what catches your senses or if any draws you towards its leaves/stalks/stem/root.

Today, I chose a Rhododendron ‘Cynthia’ imported from the UK in 1865, fully in bloom now, a large and sprawling tree.

4. Ask the plant if you can hold it. Hold it for 10-15 minutes reciting the Gayatri Mantra again and again. Feel and think of the sun.

a. Gayatri Mantra: Om bhur bhuva swaha tatsavitur varainyam, bhargo devasyadhimahi dhiyoyonahpracodayat. Om shanti shanti shantihi. (No translation for now because I don’t know it or think of it, though I have recited this mantra multiple times every day for decades).

b. Today, also recited the poem to the plant.

5. Either write where you are OR take the return walk, whispering whatever sounds come to mind.

Today, I recited while I walked.


Video:


https://youtu.be/TG56Fb0LOpc

Lab Notes/Freespeak

Gigan ix. By Ruth Ellen Kocher

you imagine you are made of glass

the thought does not depart from your daily life

your wisteria out of season, the dim dogwood

shedding berries, your chipped, failing walkway

to a front door that is not yours.

at night you settle into an opaque fullness

the inside of you belongs to you.

in the morning, the light, always there

turns out your silent recesses, strips you bare.

A flirtation of refraction and transparency

You imagine you are made of glass

At night again you understand the invisible

Fill yourself with blindness and stars

Open your mouth to the silver

Vowel the moon would make if it spoke just

Once. If its reflection could estimate sound.

-

Rhododendron

By simply standing

In the rhododendron dell

Holding the rhododendron of a british noble

Called Cynthia, I could not think

Of the debates about.

I felt the cold bark

Settle into the opaque

Fullness of my skin.

After standing, looking for fifteen minutes, I saw

Two green small buds bulbing out

From the trunk, from the roots.

I saw where all the flowers

Meet, under, in their undersides

Where all stems of the red flowers

Are white, gathered like mushroom stalks

To feed the many pistils, and inside

The flower, between two pedals, a drop

Of something, a single drop, of sap or water,

Or something beyond my knowing.

Surely, a tongue that could carry food

To any bird the humans would permit

To die of thirst. For the length of time

It takes one human to memorize a poem,

Only one bird arrived, I thought korimako

And then, a fern, that trills rivets

Of sound. Almost machine-like, almost

R2-D2, or some sort, Tui who I could

Not see, made their presence known.

There is nothing juvenile about this

Practice. There is nothing groundbreaking

Either. There are times and you are asked

To respond. There are ways of living

You are brought into. And life all round

That asks for difference. Distraction

Draws me because I cannot fathom

What the rhododendron knows. What

Fullness at night it settles into that is wholly

Its own. A part of it that I will never know.

That we will never know. Today I memorized

A gigan from Ruth Ellen, a gigan I do not

Remember from her book. I listened

To my teacher’s voice via recording.

I listened to her voice pre-surgery, could tell

Perhaps, for the first time that her voice

At one time was different than the one

I’d come to know. And in the recording

Only for moments—A certain vowel held

A little longer. A certain beat pressed

In a way only she could, could I tell that

It was the same voice that taught me

How to write a book of poetry. And as I walked

The garden, I read her poem, I repeated

Her poem until I committed it to heart.

Imagine you are made of glass the thought

Does not depart from your daily life

Your wisteria out of season, the dim dogwood

Shedding berries, your chipped, failing walkway

To a front door that is not yours…

at night you settle into an opaque fullness

the inside of you belongs to you.

in the morning, the light, always there

turns out your silent recesses, strips you bare.

A flirtation of refraction and transparency

You imagine you are made of glass

At night again you understand the invisible

Fill yourself with blindness and stars

Open your mouth to the silver

Vowel the moon would make if it spoke just

Once. If its reflection could estimate sound.

-

And I walked the way similar

To the way I walked back, which was lost

And unsure of itself, my steps

Eventually, when the poem was sufficiently

Committed to memory, to my heart,

Into the lungs that make of air sound,

I was in the rhododendron dell, and there

In the dell of transplanted plants, from

The early 1900s, started by a settler, an

English-speaking settler, there I saw

A plant, many of the rhododendrons

Now in bloom that speaks spring despite

The snow of yesterday, snow that in this climate

Does not stick, that rhododendron someone

Named Cynthia, that specific one, with its specific

Hue of flowers fully in bloom. Long green leaves

Gathering dust, scratchy bark, long marching trunks

Stemming from one place just out of the ground

To me, and so I whispered the mantra

Of the sun, and held any mild thing, listened

To the many that taught me. And now, I leave

The dell, the garden carrying the opaque

Fullness within me when turned out. The inside

Of you belongs to you. The inside of you

Belongs to you.

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