The Trip to Backwards World

Jane Burns Uncategorized


The world is sometimes “too much with us.”  Ever feel that way?  Personally, I live a rather cloistered existence, quietly balancing my client work with my own spiritual practice.  Many days, I am floating back and forth between ordinary and non-ordinary reality, traveling on the wings of my drum and prayers, my songs, poems, and simple rituals.  The house is clouded with the woodsy smell of burning sage.  I am busy, but centered, at peace, and grateful for the work I’ve been given to do.

But then ordinary reality insinuates itself into the mix, making its urgent bid for my time and energy.  A pressing need to deal with legal, financial and earthly matters of all ilk wrestles my focus away from this work of conversing with the faery folk and garnering insights into the workings of the human soul.  (As my cousin Nancy says, who’s got a better job than you, Jane?)

I am in the process of renovating my barn, and it so happens I live in an historic district in my town. The paperwork, obligations and stipulations that must be addressed before you can even begin construction are complicated, and seem to emanate from some strange world of very singular thinking.  I feel like Maelduin washing up on the shores of The Island Where Nothing Changes.  (See my blog entry from 4/29/10 entitled Islands in the Sea.) 

To someone who devotes her life to healing and transmuting situations for the better, I struggle with people who are devoted to keeping them the same.  Improvement of the barn has no real place in this discussion—it’s not even on the table.  This is like backwards world to me, and I have difficulty speaking the language.  Though I am trying.

My impulse is to simply reject this line of thinking, but when I journeyed and asked for help, my guides gave me a symbol of a triangle inside a circle.  This is the reiki symbol for Reed, part of the Ogham or tree alphabet.

One of them presses this symbol into the palm of my hand and smiles at me.  As she withdraws her hand, I feel a conclave of gently waving reeds spring up around me.   They tap against my cheeks and forehead. They nod and bob in agreement.  The energy of Reed is all about acceptance, grace, and harmony; it is a collective consciousness.

The symbol of the triangle is important here.  The base of the triangle represents duality, the physical world, the unending pull between extremes.  It also symbolizes the earth where the feet of the reed is rooted.  Above that rises the heart of the triangle, or the emotional realm—the water in which the reed sways back and forth and where aquatic creatures hide.  The heart represents the complexity of emotion that can either obscure or clarify.  The apex of the triangle represents the spiritual aspect of all matter, the truth that breaks the polarity: as in, neither good nor bad, it just is.  The Celts love the number three for this reason—three trumps the tension of duality. 

Reed tells me I should always respond to the world with wonder.  A contrasting way of being or thinking only elucidates my own way more.  Polarity is a natural force in our universe.  For everything we believe in, there will be someone somewhere who espouses to the opposite viewpoint.  It just is.  It is not our place to denounce or obliterate an opposing view but to accept its equal place in a universe great enough to hold infinite points of view.  We are asked to remember–in the face of what seems like opposition–to continue to reach upward like the reed and connect to the mystery that always lies just outside of our comprehension.

In the end, the folks from the historic district have actually gone out of their way to help me, and I am grateful to them for working so hard to find a point of mutual agreement.  The barn stands poised to be transformed into a wonderful workspace, a place that will become a refuge for myself and for all those who visit.