What does remember really mean?
2022 the year we learn to listen to love
Week 24--in which we explore the strange meaning of the word remember
What does the word remember mean to you?
Without thinking about it, you’d probably say recall or recollect. We tend to think of remember as accessing a fact or piece of information stored somewhere in our noggin.
The sign for remember in American Sign Language demonstrates this meaning in an amusing way.
Make two fists with your thumbs sticking out. Bring your right thumb up to your forehead as if to pull out an answer and then bring that thumb down to the nail of the thumb on your left fist in front of you, as if your right thumb were putting that fact you just retrieved onto a piece of paper.
Once you see that sign it’s easy to (ha!) remember because it’s so visual.
That’s what I always assumed remember meant. That is, until Mark Nepo came on my radio show a few years ago. The word remember came up in a poem he was reciting, and he suddenly said, “Janet, do you know what remember means?” I paused, searched my noggin for a clever answer and couldn’t come up with anything.
What Mark said next has stayed with me.
In that moment, Mark transformed remember, a word we use every day and think we understand, into something else altogether: a doorway. A doorway that drops us deep into The Mystic—the threshold between worlds—where we discover we have access to unlimited wisdom and grace. The threshold that patriarchy absolutely positively doesn’t want us to find.
Mark said remember started out as a medical term.
He said remember originally meant to put the body back together after an accident or injury. To restore your members—bones and body parts—back to their original healthy starting position.
Remember Humpty Dumpty? Bet you haven’t thought about that nursery rhyme in ages! But here you go:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. (cue smashed eggshell)
and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men
couldn’t put Humpty together again.
There it is: put together again.
Humpty couldn’t be re-membered.
Have you ever felt that you couldn’t be re-membered back into your original state of wellness or wholeness, love or peace after a great emotional or psychological or financial injury?
I sure did.
When I was crawling my way through a terrifying divorce, I began to realize I had allowed myself to be verbally abused for years. First in small ways, but over time, those insults and put downs accumulated such a weight that I didn’t know who I was anymore. In my early soul writing pages, I would cry: when will I feel strong again, when will I feel whole again? I felt so riddled with wounds that I described myself as a piece of swiss cheese, barely able to stand.
I needed to be re-membered. And I was. Through daily intense deep soul writing, which activated an extraordinary internal divine Voice, and weekly group therapy with a mystical therapist, I slowly found myself again.
But I didn’t realize until Mark Nepo redefined the word for me, that what was really happening was that I was being re-membered.
Have you ever seen a piece of kintsugi? Kintsugi is an exquisite Japanese art form that re-members a shattered piece of pottery, not only back together, but actually into a form more beautiful than the original. How? By gluing the pieces back together with gold. Gold.
This is the kintsugi bowl I gave my son to celebrate his first year of sobriety.
Jerry’s story, if you don’t know it, is that an enraged New York judge sent him to federal prison in 2013 to try to force Jerry to name his fellow political activists in Occupy. I know this doesn’t seem possible, but my 24-year-old-son was sent to prison with no charge, no trial, no accusation.
Despite being shattered emotionally, Jerry stayed silent.
After 8 months of refusing to name names, the judge had to release him. Jerry was free, but he came out wracked with PTSD. Sixteen months later, he checked himself into a psychiatric hospital.
He now keeps his annual AA sobriety coins in this beautiful bowl. This summer Jerry will celebrate 8 years of sobriety. And two years of working as an attorney for legal aid in NY keeping others out of prison!
Once deeply shattered, Jerry is now re-membered, not just back into wholeness, but into a whole new state of grace, purpose, and love.
Today, as I sat down to write this Notes from the Field about Re-membering the Songlines of the Witches, Jerry’s black kintsugi bowl popped into my mind. I hadn’t thought about it for years.
So why now? Why kintsugi? What does kintsugi have to do with Songlines?
Kintsugi is a perfect symbol for what happens when we remember 11 witches of the past, people who were shattered into smithereens by patriarchy.
When we welcome them into our ceremonies, tell their stories, hold out our hands for their seed medicines, wrestle with the shadows patriarchy falsely cast over them, pray with them and for them, we discover who they really were and re-member them back to their original grace and beauty, strength and power.
But they’re not the only ones being re-membered.
Here’s the real magic of Songlines.
As we embody each witch’s medicine, allowing that medicine to grow in us and become us, we are being re-membered back into our own original grace and beauty, strength and power.
- Who will we be when we have been fed with 11 profound medicines?
- Who will we be when we have wrestled with 11 shadows patriarchy created to keep us small, silent, obedient, afraid?
- Who will we be when we have transmuted the suffering of 11 witches’ lives into the gold of conviction, courage, and power in our own?
- Who will we be when we have begun to pray 11 witches’ radical prayers, prayers they could not say in their lifetimes?.
- Who will we be when we remember them?
- Who will we be when they re-member us!
All the kings horses and all the kings men cannot stop us from being re-membered by 11 great souls stepping out of time to take us by the hand and help us remember who we really are and who we came here to be.
Re-membering the Songlines of the Witches opens Tuesday, June 21, the Summer Solstice, in a sacred ceremony at 2pm Eastern conducted by Sabin Bailey and Kahu Lahela. I will be leading a guided meditation into the Mirror of Memory to reveal the hidden labyrinth and open you to receive messages from the four moons and your 12th witch.
Re-membering the Songlines of the Witches
to the gold of remembering and being re-membered back into wholeness
PS: Emma and I had a spectacular conversation with Star Sister Marcia Wade last Friday about all the gorgeous witchy astrology and magic in Songlines. Before Marcia introduced me, she asked me to talk about witch and redefine it. It was the first time I've ever explained the full power and beauty of this word. Talk about remembering and being re-membered! The conversation was recorded and will be on my youtube channel on Monday or Tuesday. Come to my professional Facebook page for the link.
If you missed any of the last 3 newsletters about Songlines, you can read and share them on the blog section of my website.
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