When I arrive back in Taos, I am just plain exhausted. I put down my bags down and open the double doors to the back patio of my friend’s house. She has gone to California to visit family and has graciously (and unexpectedly) invited me to stay at her place while she is away.
The mountain greets me. Wow, what a view! She is shrouded in blue, reflecting the midafternoon sky. Puffy clouds form slow-moving shadows along her surface and I can see clearly the pancake-shaped top, a relatively small, flat indent just beyond the closest peak. Supposedly, thousands of years ago, the firely liquid of a volcano spewed forth there. Still today, there is speculation of what kinds of otherworldly objects fly in and out of that spot.
Tears of gratitude well up in my eyes. Taos has done it again. How many times have I left and how many times have I come “home” again (I consider Taos one of many homes) to be greeted with celebration, sunshine (whether it’s green or white on the ground) and the blessings of the mountain? Some say: “The mountain wants you to stay here or the mountain wants you to go. Either way, you will know for sure.”
I don’t know if that is true, but I am not going to take the warm welcomes for granted. And let’s just say that, like the legendary Pele’ who may or may not be dwelling at the bottom of the Big Island’s Mauna Kea, I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side.
In Taos, over the last eight years, I have learned to expect the unexpected. I have learned that lessons can come in the most subtle of ways. Aqui en Taos, I have learned that pretty much EVERYTHING, every moment that is, can contain a life-lesson.
After taking in the spectacular view for a few more minutes, I walk back into the house to look around at my new digs. The place is huge— and old. I know it has some history because in every room there is a horno (adobe oven/fireplace). For most adobes built prior to the turn of the century (which this home may or may not be), the horno was the only heat source for the sometimes bitter Northern New Mexico winters. Hornos in kitchens were used for cooking too in those days.
The possible antiquity of the place also means that things inevitably happened here. I can feel history welling up in
the walls. This does not bother me, however. Over the years, I have learned to live with ghosts and the possibility of ghosts. When Shane and I ran a gallery on Kit Carson Road last year, we shared a wall with one of the oldest buildings in town. Two doors down was the last still-standing boardwalk in Taos and beyond that, the infamous Kit Carson House. How many times did I sit in that courtyard, imagining sheep grazing, the outside horno blazing and Maria Josefa Jaramillo (Carson’s third wife) running back and forth, wearing herself out trying to get it all done with children in tow? How many “deals went down,” as they say, right on thiat very same street?
I have learned that sometimes walls do have eyes.
“Hi there!” I say out loud to whoever may be listening. I light some sage in the kitchen and watch the tendrils curly-cue into the air and disappear. “I’ll be here for a while, just to let you know. If you are benevolent, you are welcome in my space. If you are up to no good, then I don’t want you around so keep your distance.”
The way I see it, this is how I want 3D folks to treat me, so why not those who dwell in other dimensions? Makes sense to me.
I go through each room of the rambling house with the sage stick, sending wisps of smoke into each corner as well as thoughts of good will and as much love as I can muster up. Then, back in the kitchen, I put the smudge stick down and reach for a cup in the sink to make some tea.
One, two, three, four, five, six…I count six long-legged, grey-bodied spiders in the sink. I imagine they are all looking at me at the same time with their eight eyes each. Then I discover three in the bathroom, two on the carpet in the living room, one on the wall in the kitchen and one inside a pot on the stove.
Ahhh, I think. Spider has come to greet me. I wonder what she has to say. Considering that this is the third time Spider has shown up in my world in so many days, I am pretty sure there is a message she is wanted to impart. The day before, a young high-schooler (a family member of a friend) was showing me pictures of camel spiders in Afghanistan. The night before, Spider came to me in a dream.
More sage. More smoke. More good will. I will not freak out. I will not freak out. I will not freak out. Spider clearly has a message. What could it be?
Silence. The spiders in the sink do not move. The one on the wall does not move. The ones on the living room floor do not move. The world in that moment is in suspended animation. I sigh. Time to put down the fears. Time to be strong in the face of what could easliy be construed as an arachnid invasion.
I reach for my animal medicine cards and the accompanying book that I had placed a few minutes before on the kitchen table. I read:
Spider…weaving webs of delight,
Weave me a peaceful world.
Carrying creation in your web,
Waiting to be unfurled!
That doesn’t sound so bad. There is no mention of poison or massive attack or jumping on my face all
at once to bite it clean off (all of the scenarios I had envisioned just minutes before).
Spider DOES have something to teach me and it had something to do with weaving. I read on…
Spider wove the web that brought humans the first picture of the alphabet. The letters were part of the angles of her web…
Of course. Spider is here (with friends, apparently) to help me with what I came here to do. I came here, after all, to WRITE. To write posts, to work on my novel. To write. To write. To write!
And who do I have to help me? None other than the Master Weaver of all of the webs of Creation! The bringer-forth of the first alphabet to the people of Earth. The embodiment (in the figure eight…eight legs, eight eyes, body shaped like an hourglass) of the infinite web/wheel of the universe….
Thank you SPIDER! I am so grateful you are here!
But, ummm, would you mind moving out of the bathtub? It has been a really long day and I sure could use a good soak right about now…