From my window on the world, 2020 bleeding into 2021, has been a time of incalculable losses across the globe and personally.  A combination of a pandemic and politics gone-wild has stressed us in ways we had never imagined. The Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t disappeared but instead is shape-shifting and currently developing a work-around; and as expected, the virus continues to destroy many of the world’s most vulnerable. This invisible and uncontrolled force indiscriminately attacked, disrupted, and annihilated our lives and routines. Few, if any of us, were not touched in one way or another. Perhaps the greatest damage was to our psyches, those distant and often ignored regions of the mind and deeper still, the soul.

During these unsettling times, I, like everyone else was also impacted by visible loss.  Here at the farm and throughout several counties in West Virginia, a mid-February ice-storm wreaked havoc on our forests and lives. What routines that had been restored to our lives, thanks to Covid-19 vaccinations, came to a grinding halt amid days and days of electrical power outages, downed trees blocking city and country roads, and below freezing temperatures.  Like many others, I was powerless over this extreme weather event, which I believe is a result of ignoring our Great Mother’s warnings several decades ago. Climate extremes are upon us.

Carrying within my psyche the wounds of isolation and grief caused by the pandemic and the crashing of trees, daily I have sought solace in the beauty of nature and life on the farm. I filled bird feeders strung on the locust tree and brought color back into my life as I watched the Cardinals, Blue Jays, Goldfinches and other birds hungrily feeding. And then, there were my farm-birds—the little peafowl family of Zephyr, Snow, Venus and Phoenix. Each morning I carried a pailful of feed and treats to the barn keeping them happy and well-fed. Their feathery coat had gone through a molt in the Fall and by mid-February, Zephyr’s long, glorious train was near completion.  It was only a matter of time that the air would be full of his raucous, persistent mating calls—a call to co-create.

Sure enough, once warmer weather and Spring arrived, I was delighted to watch Zephyr’s full display around the barn or on the little back porch—dancing, quivering, turning, all the while calling to the “girls.”  His love-antics warmed my heart and lifted my spirits laid low by the pandemic, politics, and ice storm. His splendid life was a beautiful gift of the Great Mother. But now his voice has been silenced by another’s natural call.  Days ago, while on the way to feed these lovely, free-range peafowl, I saw his lifeless form on the grass.  I could only scream and cry. Not Zephyr. Not this fascinating creature that brought so much joy.

For this 2021 Global Earth Exchange, I offer this wounded place, the farm where I reside with the devastating loss of trees and now, the senseless death of one of the family of creatures of the farm. As I sat beside the place in the grass where I found Zephyr, I held a few of his feathers in my hands. I didn’t hold back any tears while sadness washed over me; I just let those feelings flow. In time, I began to notice a shift in the physical space around me. The grass was dotted brightly with dandelions, and the Mourning Dove, the Red-bellied Woodpecker, and the Carolina Wren were calling. Then this thought: Everything around me is a gift, birthed from the Great Mother

Not only was the outside world shifting, but inside I began to feel an emotional shift from grief to gratitude to the Great Mother. None of this, not Zephyr nor I would exist without Her. In order to express my gratitude and appreciation for all the beauty that resides here, I gathered some feathers (to make the RadJoy bird), lilies, dandelions, lamb’s ear and a small bowl with 3 items, an offering; a malachite star, a fossil and pendant with the rune, Laguz. 

The star is Zephyr, pure and simple. His stage was the farm; and along with his peahens, I was captivated by his alluring song and dance. When he was on, I could not avert my eyes. From all appearances, his death was senseless—not a blood meal, but a killing for pleasure. The fossil is life-affirming, a testament to the eternal forces that have brought us here and that sustain us despite our ignorant and selfish ways—throw-away lifestyles, divisive politics, and skewed values. I find comfort knowing that with or without us humans, this beautiful Earth will endure. Finally, the rune, Laguz, associated with water, flow, and that which conducts, reminds me that life, like my emotions, is persistently flowing and ebbing and that one doesn’t need to judge, evaluate or understand everything.

To close my Global Earth Exchange, I played the call of a peacock from my cell phone, while I walked slowly around the circle of Zephyr’s feathers. The peahens took notice as the “come hither” mating calls floated away on the soft, gentle breeze.

Keating CU 2021