A promise of devotion: The melody of soul
“We must die because we have known them.’ Die
of their smiles unsayable flower. Die
of their delicate hands. Die
(Rilke, p. 139)
“Ekki mukk… you sense it right? Ekki mukk… it’s quiet here,” Lilja said, smirking as she gazed down at me, standing on a ladder. I know this now, this sense of silence that yearns to burst forth; that melts into the mosaic tapestry that she painted on our living room wall. A black background splattered with eight “sapphire blue flower[s] of the hermaphrodite” (as cited in Jung, p. 154), flowers with a white center in the shape of daisies, an offering from the Nordic gods. “There,” she pointed, “This is where my soul lives.” I know this now; it is reflected in the primordial patterns that energize the soul. Do you know what I mean? This song that she listened to for hours as she painted… stillness… yes quiet… it too knocks on my heart, beckoning me to engage with its presence. It does not feel like she is gone, for she is always standing in the underworld, a young child with a blue-black overcoat, pricking my skin, just as the call of ekki mukk, never fails to lift the hair on my arms. These reminders are chilling, but I embrace them, it’s the only way I know how to live without her.
Já, I hear it, in this slow steady cadence and her cacophonous voice that undulated back, as she harmonized with Jonsi, as if singing along with him would remind me later that she is always living in the notes of a quiet sound.
“Beloved, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.
The changing colours of its fruit
Have dowered the stars with merry light;
The surety of its hidden root
Has planted quiet in the night;
The shaking of its leafy head
Has given the waves their melody,
And made my lips and music wed,
Murmuring a wizard song for thee.”
(Yeats, p. 17)
This calming death, dauðalogn lures me into the embrace of the sea, where I here Lilja call out, I fall prey to the web of words… I am at the mercy of the sea (TRB, p. 299). I try to imagine each time I walk into the waves, if she was at the mercy of these inchoate waves… forever changing… (TRB, p. 299), for she swam along these waters since she was five, and twenty five years later the coast guards are dragging her from the seas embrace, seaweed entangled in her hair and around her legs. How could this sea, the realm we call home take her to its depths? I am not mad to want to swim to her each day, even if some call it lunacy, for it is not lunacy for [us] who come[s] from the sea (TRB, p. 299). The sea is my beloved.
“Imagination works by deforming and forming at one and the same moment… It is the pathologized image in the dream, the bizarre, peculiar, sick or wounded figure—the disruptive element—to which we must look for the key to the dream-work.”
(Hillman, p. 128)
The deformity of the psyche mirrored the body, or was it the other way around, for I am constantly rubbing it… this scar. It might appear to most people that I am scratching or playing with my nipple, but that is not the case, for I have no nipple, in fact, I have no left breast. This void on the body is mirrored in the void within soul. Was it part of the plan, that she should fall away from me, and then I would lose a fragment of my body? What is it that I am supposed to see, know, and remember from such an image? Lilja drowns and my imagination grips the mythological figures in the dream underworld… It’s one of those fragmented dreams, where I am not in the modern world. I watch myself sitting in a chair, in a dilapidated house made of stone with a roof constructed from twigs and shrubs of the ancient trees: Yygdrasill, the ash, as if this house is my body and Odin is spreading his arms like wings over me, and Idho: the yew, roots reaching up below the earth, for my body was already a corpse that needed to be made sacred. I am staring at a bowl of soggy spongy balls… a soggy hummus sauce, and I am pulling out the green Friseé leaves, but I can’t put it in my mouth, even though Aslaug is screaming at me to eat it. Já, she is there in this underworld haze, and I can’t make her stop.
But I stuff this secret away in the back of the closet, just this one I keep away from Albin, as if my already withering body would protect him from death, shelter him from such natural rhythms of life. He doesn’t know about the tumor in my uterus either; they wanted to take it out, but I told the doctors to leave them be; it was more than I could bare, giving up bits of my body, piece by piece, letting them cut away at one breast was enough. It is only because I imagined them tossing it into the sea for Lilja… an offering to the gods, an offering to Sedna… she would know what to do with it.
“Swallowed by a viscous vengeful sea,
darker days are raining over me,
in the deepest depths I lost myself,
I see myself through someone else”
(Of Monsters and Men, 2015)
This alluring cadence of a song that suggests my solace is found in the black water, is also mirrored in the window image, a photograph of a shadow… in the deepest depths I lost myself… this shadow coddles me, an embrace so startling that I am rendered in stillness, surrendering to the melodic tones, inviting memories of this vengeful sea. This photo that suspends my gaze, conjures Lilja’s eyes and I see myself through someone else… nay, not Lilja, but the figure that holds my wrists in the sacred shadow realm of sleep, for he wants me to see… to see through him so I see soul in everything.
I suppose I should not be surprised that he wandered in the night before the anniversary that Lilja became an offering to the sea, for he simply whispered into my ear, his breath a hint of raspberries and honey… I will wander with you and ascend to my solitude… (TRB, p. 232), such familiar words from a man who placed all of his mythical figures into a red book. I almost dropped to my knees, but he pulled me closer to him, holding my face in his hands… Já… those hands were telling… a man of Iceland indeed… a warrior elf with strenuous long fingers, and arms that seemed to wrap themselves around me, reaching to his own back. He was a tower, standing six feet five inches, he was certainly not the young lad I knew from my childhood days… his sandy blonde wavy hair now touched his shoulders, and he had become a druid knight.
You are Essex, I whispered.
Já, he nodded, but call me Bok.
I giggled, because it reminded me of the German beer, Maibok. He smiled; satisfied that he could shift the sorrow just a bit.
The tone beckons again, darker days are raining over me…and I know I will be pulled back to my bedroom, where the young woman’s voice emanates from my iPhone, comforting me with her melody, summoning me to breathe for another day without Lilja, yet, I ponder and whisper out loud to the stillness in the air, these are living dispositions, emanating from a big red book, What words should I use to tell you on what twisted paths a good star has guided me to you? (TRB, p.232)
Bok smiled, daringly… We will wander together and descend to our solitude.
And for now, I ponder Bok in this photograph of my shadow because I am avoiding the inevitable, telling you about my twin Albin, “the union of the sames,” we are, except he is the wing-footed wanderer in love and I… well, I am just trying to figure out how to stay amongst the mythical characters in the sacred shadow realm of sleep, for it is Bok’s parting words that mimic Yeats’, Anima Hominis… I shall find the dark grow luminous, the void fruitful when I understand I have nothing, that the ringers in the tower have appointed for the hymen of the soul a passing bell (p. 331-332).
Ready or not, I ring it.
“I believe the dead will soon become extinct… I am no longer threatened by the dead… I thank you for your love. It is beautiful to hear you speak of love. It is music and old, far-off homesickness. Look, my tears are falling because of your words.”
(Jung, pp. 322-323)
Let it be said, that Albin came into the soul of this world to be embraced by love, to know its follies and beauty, but I, Alda know only death: I am of the living who summons the dead, for I must pay obeisance to their existence. Surely Albin knows it too, for our father died when we were eight, but he puts those emotions in some sort of treasure chest, to peak at its glittering presence from time to time. I am enamored, exalted by death; these shadow figures following me around surely want me to know something. It is no surprise that I reach for answers, befriend figures and words in books in order to find solace and affirmations that allow the soul to grieve, to be tossed in the midst of a storm, so that I too can know love, know it furiously through death, reflected in the image of my daimon, who visits nightly from the dream underworld. Jung said that image is psyche, while Yeats mirrors the idea in a poem, by the help of an image I call to my own opposite, summon all that I have handled least, least looked upon (p. 321), for who wants to look upon your own shadowy figures, those elves and “little people” that bring ancient stories. Outside of Lilja, such figures, these elves were my friends, and now that she is gone… well… it’s the realm of the imaginal that I seek the most pleasure, for it is in their words: soul, which intoxicates me like a virus, a homesickness that I can only purge by confronting and creating a dialogue with such images that come from the depths of the soul of the world.
So it is not that I don’t believe in love; it is that love and death lead me in a dance through this life, and remembering to speak to death honors its existence and forgives love when it falls away. Lilja’s death reminds me daily that love moves on a pendulum and perhaps it is better not to hold steadfast to the manifest realm. Or perhaps believing in both is what it means to be alive in this world.
The other night, as I wandered the dream underworld, I saw a man killed in front of me. But I did not sob or have those horrendous emotions I had when Lilja passed on to spirit, I remembered it was just another image I needed to confront, engage it, then encourage it to move into another realm. That is, that needy shadow that was stepping on my heals during the daylight hours, causing me to grieve when I could not connect with friends and family showed me that the my solitude keeps me close to the ancient ones, whereby I am given stories to write. The woman’s voice, an exotic intonation in this song creates a cavernous well for me to dive into, for if I could face them, if I could make amends with my shadows, I’d bow my head and welcome them… (OMAM), I would and I do. But certainly, you must know this too, it is Albin’s undeniable, paradoxical love that holds me steadfast to this daylight world, even when I am clamoring to get to Lilja in my dream underworld… again, such catapulting words acts as a bridge between my soul and the anima mundi… are you really going to love me when I’m gone… I fear you won’t… I fear you don’t… (OMAM)
To be continued…
~merry merry my lovely dreamers~
As a writer, I am entrenched in soul, that is, the psyche of the world moves me to explore the depths, the breadth of my soul that lives within the soul of the world. So I must bow to my muses, to the ancient ones, to the shamans, druids, and healers who encourage me to honor the language of the dead, for the dead are eternally with us, and I don’t know about you, but I cannot live without their presence. So below I pay tribute to the guides that were present, as I wrote this section of The Tales of Albin and Aslaug… kisses…
Graves, R. (1948), The white goddess, New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Jung, C.G., (2009), The red book: Liber novus. (TRB), (S. Shamdasani, Ed.) New York, NY: W.W. Norton
Hillman, J, (1979), The Dream and the underworld, New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Rilke, R.M., (1980/1989), “We must die because we know them” in The selected poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, New York, NY: Vintage International.
Yeats, W.B., (1903/1996), “Two Trees” in Selected poems and four plays, New York, NY: Scribner Paperback Poetry.
Yeats, W.B. (1959), “Anima hominis” in Mythologies, New York, NY: Collier Books.
Sigur Ros, Hfratinna, https://youtu.be/8AuJdkZkgCw?list=RD8AuJdkZkgCw
Sigur Ros, Ekki mukk, https://youtu.be/INWZy3-Vw80
Sigur Ros, Dauðalogn, https://youtu.be/RWtx0AvGAlw
Of Monsters and Men, Black water, https://youtu.be/gEaaazkAynE
Of Monsters and Men, I of the storm, https://youtu.be/tlCkafSYNJI