OOI started “seeing” Fairies, imaginary friends, Trolls, and spirits, after my Grandpapa died. He told me about them. Grandpapa conversed with Trolls. He saw Fairies but he talked toTrolls.
OOGrandpapa had owned a slaughterhouse and meat-packing company. He demanded that my father begin his career with the company by working in the slaughterhouse. My father could not do that. Grandpapa disowned him, and when Grandpapa sold his business, he gave most of his money to his three younger children. Grandpapa’s wife died long before I was born. He eventually lost the rest of his money.He was all alone, old, sick, and alcoholic. My two aunts and my uncle would not bring him to live with any of them. But my father and mother brought him to live with us. While living with us, my Grandpapa became close to his son again.
OOMy Grandpapa and I did everything together. We played spaceship in the chickenhouse while doing daily chickenhouse chores. We tossed vegetables to each other when harvesting. He taught me how to weed. He taught me how to laugh. I loved that old man. I knew he was drinking “whickey” behind my mother’s back, and hiding bottles in the foundations of farm buildings that had fallen in or been torn down years before. Every day my mother would look for his bottles and empty them down the sink. My father knew that Grandpapa wasn’t going to get better; he was dying, so he’d bring him a new bottle every morning on his way home from working the night shift at Star Taxi Company.
OOGrandpapa saw things that weren’t there. I think some of the times when my mother took the “whicky” away he saw monsters, but most of the time they were Trolls and Fairies and old friends that had died years before. He had lived near our house when he was a young man and had worked doing some construction of our driveway for the previous family when the town moved the road. While pretending to read the newspaper he made up stories at the dinner table that were so real even my Mother would think he was reading them. “Oh Mr. Cuningham, you are not telling the truth, That didn’t happen,” she would say when she finally caught on.
OOI will tell you a story that my my Grandpapa told me. It is possible I see all these strange nature spirits just because of this particular story:
OOJust once over the centuries industry came to the area in the middle of Oswego county where my family bought the house I grew up in. It was a company that made charcoal. They, cut down solid, healthy trees that had stood for centuries just to burn them into charcoal.
OOThe company was large enough that the railroad created a small spur to come onto the back of what would be our land, in order to pick up the finished charcoal.
OOThis did not please the nature spirits who lived there,
especially the Fairies and the Trolls.
OOThe nature spirits were shy and did not want to make any trouble. They try to live next to Humans without being particularly noticed. During the period of the charcoal pits they stayed as far away from them as possible and continued to live their lives.
OOTrolls, are not the vicious creatures invented by the brothers Grimm and other story tellers. They eat the plants they care for in the fields and forests. Even though you do not need to worry about them “nibbling on your fingers” they are not nearly so peace loving as Fairies. They had been on this property long, before the Fairies had moved in.
OOTrolls did not care at all for the burning of trees, the destruction of nests and...
all that darn noise.
OOThe Trolls respected the Fairies' wishes that nobody should make any trouble and that they could wait it out until the charcoal company moved on to some other piece of land. “The trees will grow back. Terrible things have happened to our forest before. Remember the big fire and remember when the giant beavers flooded almost everything? And still after a while the trees grew back. We just have to ignore it all until they leave. Everything will be fine once they finish cutting down the big, old trees.”UNTIL
Yes, the Trolls respected their wishes...
The woodcutters cut down
the honey tree
to make charcoal.
OOIt was a very good tree with a very large interior devoted to making enough honey for the bees themselves and for the Fairies and the Trolls.
OOFrom that point in time strange stuff happened around the charcoal pits. The workers’ big saws broke or bound up in the trees. The laces in their shoes disappeared, or even worse would be tied together in nasty little knots. If they carried their lunches to cut down trees, the pails just mysteriously tipped over...
right-hand gloves simply disappeared.
OOThe Trolls did all of this with the absolute intention of BEING NOTICED.
OOFear spread throughout the company. Soon they could not consider these events as simple accidents, lapses of memory, or clumsiness.
OOTrolls really like honey. Fairies do too, but for Fairies it is only an occasional treat.OTrolls really
TheTrolls did not let up, day or night. They enlisted the help of crows. The Crows would gather around the workers all day cawing and staring down at them while they worked.
I AM TEMPORARILY
As I said toward the beginning, Grandpapa conversed only with the Trolls. He told me about the fairies, but I never did think that Fairies were his friends and companions. I very seldom talk to a Troll. They think I am going to miss seeing them and chop them up when they are pretending to be a log or a branch. They do a great job of pretending they are pieces of wood.
My nature spirit friends are mostly Fairies. One of them, is named Bryan MacPherson. He came to this country from Paisley, Scotland with his mate Effie before this country was a country. In our years he is probably 400 years old. In a Fairy’s life he is middle-aged. He is proud and has always been irritated that my Granpapa told the story as if the Fairy population was not part of the struggle against the charcoal company that was cutting excellent old trees to burn for charcoal. Bryan came to me while I was writing and wants to add his statement to Grandpapa’s version.
“En who de ya think did telk to the Crows and the Owls? It sure wesn’ a squatty little Troll. WE all did fly up and perlaver with the Crows an the Owls. It took some convincin’ em to help durin’ the days an the nights. They all were plannin to fly off away frem all the camocian. Fairy folk ain’t shy and WE ain’t afraid.”
Now back to my Grandpapa’s story
OOAt night, a Parliament of Owls stood watch. Eleven pairs of Owls make a Parliament, or so they say. Twenty two persistent Owls hooting from dark to light; then during the day, the Crows came back on duty.
I need to mention the Snakes.
There is a lot of wetland and anakes around where we lived. Nothing for millennia had endangered the snakes except for Hawks, Eagles and other birds of prey. When the snakes got large, even the Eagles would not bother to try to lift them up. Plus, there were a LOT of snakes, more than any group of birds could possibly consume.
My family always called these snakes Water Snakes. I have Googled Water Snakes and they do not look like the snakes that I saw around the house where I grew up. A Water Snake is beige with big brown spots and is not near as long as the snakes I saw in our driveway. The snakes around our house were shiney black and I have seen some that spanned the width of our driveway. I found the snakes I saw on Google and they do inhabit New York State near where I lived. Rat Snakes: big, black, shiney, constrictors that grow up to eight feet long. The Trolls sent these giant, Rat Snakes into the work area to slide into the charcoal pits when they were cool and crawl out at the exact moment when the workmen came in to light the fires in the mornings.
Large snakes startle humans. Especially when they are very tired. The Crows and the Owls made sure they were always very tired.
One very brave Troll was named Balsi: a Norse name. This particular Troll emmigrated from what is now Norway with Leif Ericson - he is VERY old. Balsi started to slip into the workers’ barracks during the middle of the night and whispered to the most frightened,
“I hear some of the littler slitherers might be
Copperheads.” They slide up a pant leg and
one nip on yer leg will dead ye quick.”
The company decided this area wasn’t that profitable any longer. They packed up their equipment and moved the operation high into the Adirondack Mountains.1
And that is the tale the way my Grandpapa told it to me and told it to my father when he was a little boy.
My Grandpapa died and I was alone, but not for long.
His Fairies and the Trolls came to visit me. Imaginary grownups came to tell me more stories and teach me how to make up my own. I explored the old burn-pits and used old pieces of charcoal to draw pictures of my new friends on big rocks.
The earth where the railroad spur had come through the property was so hard packed that it carried sound. On hot summer days the trains could be heard as if they were right in front of you.
My father would tell visitors to our house that there was a “ghost train” in the woods behind the house.
Once my aunt walked to the back of the property looking for the train. She ran back pretty fast. It may have been the last time they visited.
1 If you have any real interest in charcoal pits in NY State in the 19th Century this is a computer link I found: http://www.adirondack-park.net/history/political/pre-const.html
In the cemetery the tall guy told us he had written a letter to his governor to suggest that he might want to go for a walk in the cemetery. It being a somewhat old and fine cemetery surrounded by highway, a bubbly crick, poison ivy, a cigar bar, and an old house that won’t let anybody in to see it’s basement. Something went on about how his father walked somewhere with the governor’s father. How he knew the governor’s wife likes to go for walks. How his children like to go for walks.
(go to story)
Since I don’t really have anything to tell you, let me mention some things that happened on Sunday, August 20, 2017. I was dropping off a bag of used clothes at The Thrifty Store where even rich people shop for twenty-five cent shirts. Slumming it is big now and everybody loves a bargain. The place was closed and management prefers folks to not drop off donations on Sunday but people do anyway. Which makes it a good day for poor folks to get something they can afford, namely, something free. (Go to Story)
I have read poetry, novels, books that have inspired me, and listened to music that makes my breathing uneven.I hae seen art so powerful that I had to put my hand on a wall to keep from being dizzy (page #2 of this magazine). There is, however, only one time I felt something that came from inside of me; an idea so fully formed I could not escape it. A vision that would not fade. (go to article)
Inspiration is the process of clearing ourselves and bringing in wisdom, guidance, divine revelation, healing energy, or the sacred breath from Spirit. Call it channeling one’s muse, if you like. It is the process of connecting with the divine, getting our human selves out of the way, and allowing Spirit to move through us. (go to article)
Our Poetry section includes some of our favorite poets, click on ther names to bring yourself to special inspiring poems:
Robert Graves -
To the Muse Goddess (visit)
Dante - ‘’Purgatorio’’,
Canto I, lines 7 to 12 (visit)
Peter Fortunato -
Four Poems (visit)
Mary Gilliland -The Language of Bees (visit)
Nancy Cuto - Madragana Wears Her New Name (visit)
The Atlantic, June 1961
The original significance of this word has long been blurred by dishonest or facetious usage. The Muse, or Mountain Mother, whom the preclassical Greeks worshiped on Parnassus and other sacred peaks, seems to have inspired the poet in much the same sense as the loa gods of Haiti now “ride” their devotees. And, although by Homer’s time her invocation had become a mere formality, subservice to the Muse has ever since been avowed by counterfeit poets in the service of politics, learning, or the church. True possession has occurred sporadically down the centuries as a phenomenon that can neither be provoked or foreseen. (go to entire article)
The nine Muses are the offspring of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the Goddess of Memory. Before the invasion of the Olympian gods, the Muses, goddesses or guardian nymphs of springs and groves, tutelary spirits, belonged to a preliterate, oral culture. The original three are the daughters of Mnemosyne, memory, although they were raised by a wetnurse or foster-mother, Eupheme. Even this biographical snippet must be a late revision, since Mnemosyne is said to be the mother of the Muses with Zeus, so is already a literary corruption, the first euphemism. Mnemosyne is a personification: Memory. (go to article)
the Second Attention
(Emphasizing the Recall)
I closed my eyes and immediately recalled the Elders advice.
“Nothing might temper the spirit of a nation as much as the challenge of dealing with impossible people in positions of power.
If you face the uncertainty with impunity, you will acquire the strength to withstand
even the incomprehensible.
And for this, peace will guide your way - then you shall know how to proceed”.
(go to the beginning of article)
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