Friday, February 26, 2010

Becoming the Caduceus

Kraken Rider
The drowned moon of the monster’s eye fills my sight
But I cannot lose track of the cruel beak below.
What you most fear is what you must do.
I twist to avoid its flailing tubes and hooks
And stabbing beak, and grapple with slimy pulp
Until I can swing up onto its back
And scissor my legs behind its bulbous head.
It thrashes and spins, and I struggle to hold on.
Then it plunges deep, and I see my life passing
Until I find I have gills and the scaled body
That can go as deep as the kraken takes me.
I will bend it to a purpose. I will ride the sea-beast
To fight the sea’s enemies, those who foul the waters
And poison the fish with the toxic waste of their greed.
My sea-father gallops across the whitecaps.
Laughing, he asks if I’ve had enough knightly adventure
For now. He wants me to follow the sea spray
To the land, to a snow-capped mountain
That belongs to him. I ride the kraken
to the shore where I am stripped of deepwater things
and emerge naked and golden to receive a new mount.
The winged horse carries me to Helicon,
To the unyielding block that must be opened by force
To release Hippocrene water of inspiration.
Hooves on Helicon
Harder. The hooves drive sparks from the rock.
The great wings beat the air, driving a warm wind
Across the snowy slopes of the mountain.
Again, the hooves come down. And again.
The rock groans and yields, releasing the jets
Of the secret spring. I am down on my knees,
Catching the water in my open mouth.
Shockingly cold and pure, it floods my senses
And a figure takes form before me, from the mist.
I know her as grey-eyed Clio, muse of History.
Her sister appears at my other side. I know she is
Sophrosyne, or Tempering. She is not on the roll-call
Of muses; she has come because I need her instruction.
Above my feminine guides, huge as the mountain,
Is their mother, Memory. Knowing is remembering.
I am here to help people remember the origin
And purpose of their lives. My sun-father shines
A blessing on the peak, twin ravens, black and white.
Living as Caduceus
Now the winged horse takes me to the temple mount
Where the snake woman waits for me, gripping
Her twin serpents by their necks, holding them out
Like six-shooters. With proud breasts and flashing eyes
She dares me to receive the power. I open my body
To her cold companions. They slip softly inside me,
Interweaving and rising. Now their coils are around me.
Their heads meet at my third eye and I see that
I am become a living caduceus. Powered by the goddess
I will now do the work of the god who mediates
Between humans and deities. He reveals himself
In the play of natural things, through pure synchronicity.
Now I have ridden the kraken, and drunk from
The Hippocrene spring, and conformed my body,
Inside and out, to the code of the double spiral,
I will speak and act from the best the Greeks know:
Gnothi seauton. Know yourself.
Sophrosyne. Tempering.
Ethos anthropoi daimon. Character is fate.
Anamnesis. Knowing is remembering.
The soul has the ability to conform to its character
The destiny that is allotted to it.

- Mosswood Hollow, February 26, 2010
Hooves on Helicon: By tradition, the Hippocrene spring was opened by the stamping hooves of Pegasus, the winged horse born of the blood of Medusa, and Mount Helicon is the domain of Poseidon, lord of the sea.


Raymond said...

Hello Robert, Your ever playful flair and the fresh, rich imagination embodied so thoroughly in your poem are precisely how I experienced being with you this past week. Thank you from the fullness of my heart and soul, Raymond

Robert Moss said...

Thanks, Raymond. I was delighted by all the creativity and "fresh words" the members of our dreamwriting retreat - including your good self - brought through at our "publication party" on Friday. As you know, my poem sprang directly from a group journey that we made during the week in which I found myself engaged, deeply and indelibly, in a living mythology.

Don said...

I know very little about Greek Myth. Consequently your post here was very instructive. I followed it up by an Internet search for more information. Thank you for inspiring me to do that.

Back in 1948 I enlisted in the Army on the condition I would be a noncombatant. I wore the caduceus for the next four years. That was 60 years ago! Talk about time speeding up! But I still dream about the caduceus.

Your post was well-told, too. I appreciate it.

Savannah said...

Thank you so much for sharing this in print, Robert! It was an unmitigated joy hearing the live publication at the close of a magnificent week that no doubt will continue to grow wings for all present. And by the play of natural things this thought was followed by a flock of birds sweeping across my indoor table at Seatac airport :-).

Robert Moss said...

Thanks, Don. We are in the realm of living myth here - accessed in a primal way, through conscious journeying powered by shamanic drumming - and connections are made that you will probably not find in the books. Though I have studied Greek myth and once taught it, I did not know, until my journey, about how the caduceus as an ancient symbol of the Great Goddess and the caduceus as the staff of Hermes might be closely interwoven. (Neither should be confused with the serpent-staff of Asklepios, the correct symbol for Western medicine). And I had not realized until my journey that Sophrosyne - a Greek ideal that is the theme of a Platonic dialogue - could appear as a personified being, similar in form to the muses, though not one of their sisterhood. As always, we need to marry excat research to direct experience.

Robert Moss said...

Savannah - It was a joy to have you in our dreaming family, and we were all excited by your very exciting venture into magical realism. Looking forward to the next installments of your novel-in-the-making.

Alla said...

I love this little story, Robert! It's very poetic and powerful. How did you feel in this reality after having had that experience? It seems to me that after such big images (especially those of myths) something should've changed right away. Maybe, you are used to such things, though... :)))

Don't you think that the symbol of caduceus and the picture of Yin-Yang from your "Lady of I-Ching" have something in common?..:-) Recently I noticed that I often wake up with my legs curled up like those snakes. As I remember, it was after good dreams - no defence, no threat. I don't remember you write about one's body positions as reflections of something in the dreams.
Looking forward to your future posts,

Mike B said...

Just before checking on your blog this morning I changed the wallpaper on my computer to a picture of Pegasus flying against the full moon. The story of Pegasus, in a child's version, was a favorite my mother would read to me before sleep. I'm touched by the power of the poem and the coincidence of Pegasus's appearance too.
Mike B

Robert Moss said...

Mike - I love the winged synchronicity of Pegasus flying across your computer screen just before you found him drumming open the Hippocrene spring. It's impossible not to feel sometimes that the universe is giving us a nod, or a whinny.

Robert Moss said...

Alla - I hadn't thought about the yin/yang in relation to the caduceus, but what does strike me is the possible correspondence between the caduceus and the depiction of Fu-Xi and his consort as twined dragon-serpents in their lower bodies. There is no doubt that a visionary experience of this kind is transformative, and thrilling. As you can see, it immediately generated a poem. It is important to move and create with the energy of these experiences, to gorund and honor them in this world.

Alla said...

This is exactly what I was trying to express; it wasn't about Yin-Yang themselves - I called it incorrectly - but just about the similarity of the picture with twined dragon-serpents and the symbol of Caduceus. (I still keep feeling bad and clumsy with my language skills. Also, I try to be short, and it doesn't help every time. :-) )

Robert Moss said...

Alla, I think your English is excellent, with delightfully original twists that come from not being a native speaker and thereby more alert to root meanings that may escape people who have grown up in a certain language. Over at my forum at, we very frequently see how people for whom English is a second, third or even fourth language are the adepts at inspired wordplay and double entendre. I am reminded that one of the undoubted masters of English prose was Joseph Conrad, for whom English was a third language. Alas, I'm afraid those of use born and raised in the English language are often very lazy about developing passable knowledge - let alone - mastery of other languages, which is a shame because to know a people and its literature and its mindset, we must have the words.

Raymond said...

Thank you Robert. One thoroughly essential element of our Writer's Retreat week was the courage exercised and displayed by everyone present throughout the week.

Two clear and vital instances: 1) the 3 women who, on the second morning, shared their writing first, Steffanie, Elaine, and Lynn. After that, I was impelled to go next, and receive whatever waited for me. Which was 2) my comeuppance powerfully delivered with accuracy and love from everyone. That gave me my writer's shoulder and arm, where before was only a howling stump. The authenticity and depth of every one present renewed my faith and desire to "go on" with life (playfully), and furthermore, after my Friday publication, I take myself seriously and playfully as a published/able author.

With chills up my spine, I summarized the week on the phone from SeaTac with my daughter. "Patricia spoke to me in the car ride to the airport, ""Now that you are with Robert (and his Dream Team), I can go. I too have much to do."" Patricia meant much to both Anne and I. She knew that I left for Duvall with both great need and skepticism. And, she responded happily through her tears. I already had my own.

Also, you should know I told Anne my dream and theatre that dramatized the tension of my daughter growing up with oppositional parents. She replied with a hearty laugh, "It's about time that you got it, Dad :) !" There is more for us to share and she has more happening than I do. So the timing of my entry into your dream of life couldn't have been better, unless it had been sooner.

I look forward with great anticipation for the Level 1 Dream Teacher Training in July. Meanwhile, I have lots of work to be fulfilling. Thank you again for living life courageously and in a way that you are only willing, but able be present to so many dreams.

Steffani Raven said...

Raymond, I have no adequate words for your courage. Your post brought tears to my eyes. The deeply life changing experience I witnessed in you during our Mosswood Hollow class was very moving. The culmination of this growth with your post where your wife is moving on- now that you're with Robert's dream school,-was so beautiful. I can feel how much you're growing, changing, letting go, and embracing life. I'm proud of you for your work. It was an honor working with you this week. For me this growth with all its pain and joy is what life is truly about.

Robert I loved reading your poem, especially after hearing it "live" at Mosswood Hollow. It was a privilege being there for the life transcendent journey you took us all on. Your poem reminds me that I'm always amazed at the living myth within us all. I sometimes dream of mythological creatures and Goddesses that I know I have never heard of in my waking life, yet they come to me anyway. After doing research I find out what they are trying to tell me in my dreams. How do they access me? Perhaps from the deep collective unconscious. Perhaps they're slumbering deep in my DNA- A gift from the ancient ancestors who worked with them in ancient days. I don't know how they enter, but I know it's deeply healing. Thank you for leading me on this life journey Robert. You're a gift from the Gods themselves.

Robert Moss said...

Steffani - Bless you for your generous heart and searching spirit. The week at Mosswood was a time of deep and creative transformation for all of us. We saw again how the extraordinary becomes easy when we group the supportive energy of a family of dreamers and seekers, and how the powers of the deeper world come to find us when we open a space where we can be found.

Raymond - I am moved by your furher experiences, in this world and beyond this world, and by the courage and clarity of intention with which you are pursuing your journey. We have learned more, together, what it means to take the power of raw emotion and harness it to healing and creative purposes.

Raymond said...

Thank you Steffani. Now I have much more writing to do. That's my dream.

And, making toast takes on a whole new meaning, after your dream and then your action ~ two fabulous stories that had everyone laughing and begging for more. Please let us all know your publishing plans.

Alla said...

Dear Robert, you are so generous! I wish I could participate in your dreamwriting retreat some day in the future! Probably, I would need to learn at least 3000 synonyms more for that... :-))))))

Raymond said...

Thank you Robert. Now I am getting down to work shortly ~ additional writing and having published as a series in a magazine soon. I'll keep you up-to-date.

Raymond said...

Hello Steffani, There are no new posts this morning so it's up to me.

I didn't thank you adequately for your acknowledgment yesterday. Having learned a new phrase from Savannah, "If you spot it, you got it.", here's back at ya! . . . and all of our dreamers and dream writers

And, I experienced an old, uncommon saying this morning as our week continues working me. "I am never innocent." I am posting it so I am aided it never forgetting it.

Raymond said...

That is, the degree of courage and transformation that you see in another, is in you also.

Olive said...

If I may add a little to this conversation, without being completely "in the loop". I have always felt we are never "innocent". We are always aware and always part of the game, no matter how remote. I am presently reading Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy, and throughout, he has a wonderful phrase. "No one is innocent. There are only various degrees of responsibility." Your phrase, Raymond, jumped out at me, and I just wanted to respond, because it touched a nerve on several levels.

Raymond said...

Thank you Olive for speaking and saying "Hello".

Irène said...

I read this poem shortly after it was posted, feeling heaves of recognition and fear of, what I told myself at the time, I did not understand. I could remember nothing of the poem I had just read and so re-read it twice, very slowly, trying to catch hold of something, a word, an image, anything I could say I knew, but could not. It was like reading a foreign language yet in every sentence words triggered light that shot out of my head in all kinds of directions, to places & things that I knew for certain, but could not identify. So I decided to sleep on it, remembering only the picture that appeared with the post.

In the days that followed, I continued to feel and see things that clearly pointed to this mysterious poem which I eventually decided to stop "reading" and instead start "singing" (reading like listening, pretending that the words were like notes to hear and not be understood).

Yesterday, I had intended to attend a sweat-lodge ceremony but decided not to, telling myself that I was not ready for whatever change inevitably awaited me (not around any corner, but right smack in front of me - I knew it was coming for it had already arrived and I just refused, absolutely refused to look at it, knowing I could not avoid this change, but hoping that I could just avoid it a little longer.)

I spent the day riding instead and in the last hour, at the reception of a finished obstacle course, my horse feel and I with him. I landed on the right side of my head and felt sharp pain as my cheek bone hit the sand and the back of my neck absorbed the shock of my fall.

In the emergency room, a doctor told me that my right eye had probably inflated, forcing my eye shut, due to a hairline fracture in my cheekbone which allowed air to travel up under my eyelid (now bloated like a croaking frog!). While waiting between exams & x-rays I amused myself by "seeing through" my shut eyelid, into dark indigo blue until I realized that I was in fact having my vision - the vision I should have had during the sweat lodge ceremony which was actually taking place. And the images that followed this thought were beautiful and seemed endless carrying me from the hospital, home to dinner & family, through a nice warm bath & into sleep where I again found myself "à cheval" & in a land that upon waking I knew resembled the space of this poem.

I read it again this morning and even though most of the words still flow through me, flirting with my desire to hold things in place I know, I was at last able to acknowledge what I did not want to see.

Thank you so much Robert, for sharing.