Wisdom Healing Qigong
A Letting Go and A Reclaiming
A couple of months ago, on the phone with a dear writerfriend, somehow a poem that I had written in 1998 came up in the conversation. It’s called The Lady of the Lake. I had brought it to the very first writers workshop I attended, which is where I met this sister-of-the-heart. Even though at the time I didn’t consider myself a poet—I was workshopping my novel—I read the poem as my offering to the evening readings that were part of the program. It was the first time I ever had to read my writing aloud to anyone. And, I had to do it through a microphone in front of a hundred not just people, but writers. I had been terrified. Especially because I felt the poem in certain ways was odd, and maybe too woo-woo, and one I was sure was not “publishable,” something that too often made a difference in such a venue.
I don’t remember much of a reaction around me after I read, but I do remember the reaction within me. I felt no one had liked the poem or could relate to it. I felt embarrassed, and wished I had never read it. I felt ashamed I had called it an homage to Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott.
When I got off the phone with my friend recently, I tried to find the poem. I hadn’t looked for it, thought about it, or seen it in decades. Now I was obsessed and searched every file on my computer, including very old files I had migrated from floppy disks and flash drives. It was digitally nowhere to be found. I wondered if maybe I had felt so uncomfortable about it that I didn’t even want the poem on my computer. So I started going through my hard copy folders, and, eventually, I found it.
The Lady of Shalott Painting by John Waterhouse
In the last year or so, I’ve been part of a small group of qigong practitioners who were reading and discussing what we called The Blue Book. It’s real title is Wisdom Healing (Zhineng) Qigong, Teachings by Master Mingtong Gu (my teacher) based on the work of Dr. Pang Ming (creator of this extraordinary system of Qigong Energy Healing). After meeting twice a month throughout the year, our group finished the book at the end of April and chose to take a break before talking about where we wanted to go next. We decided to share poetry and writings, our own or from favorite sources, for a couple of months. So after finding my poem, and having been too busy with work and personal challenges to take the time to more carefully go through my current writing, and since the poem was right there on my desk, I decided to bring it to the group.
The Lady of the Lake had been inspired by my infatuation with The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson. I’d always felt drawn to the mystical quality, to the melancholy sadness, to the music of the poetry that this poem embodied. Not to mention the whole Camelot thing. I also found the painting of The Lady of Shalott by John Waterhouse captivating, even hypnotic in a way. Some part of me has long identified with both the mystical, and the melancholy. And as I re-read my forgotten poem, I found myself dissolved in tears.
I have spent a good deal of time in this life hanging out in the more ethereal realms rather than anchored in my physical body. I have no Earth in my astrological birth chart, and it’s taken me a long time to get grounded. I’ve even had two, (well actually three, although I’ve only written about two) interdimensional relationships that presented some of my greatest challenges, yet resulted in my greatest growth. Now, however, I feel I have a pretty good right brain/left brain, creative/logical balance. I am able to both write poetry and build complicated websites. But there’s still an ethereal/mystical aspect of my soul. I remember one of my dearest non-physical Spirit Guides decades ago telling me in a channeled reading that my earthly beginnings were in the fairy realms. Another time we communicated, when I, then about 103 pounds, got concerned about gaining weight, she told me not to worry, that I was “faerified” for life.
And the worst thing was that I discovered
I had made an embarrassing and ignorant faux pas…
I didn’t know how the friends in my Blue Book group might respond to my poem, but I found myself feeling nervous about reading it to them. I had not offered my work in front of an audience since 2013, when I read at Malaprop’s, our wonderful independent bookstore here in Asheville, NC, from my then newly published memoir, Rare Atmosphere: An Extraordinary Inter-dimensional Affair of the Heart. And even though my current Zoom audience was an intimate group of Big Hearts, I still found myself feeling a bit shaky.
When I finished, there was a short silence before anyone spoke. I prepared myself, but stayed somewhat detached. As I listened to the responses, I was surprised to find that each person found something meaningful in my words, something that spoke uniquely to her. It reminded me of how that happens with art, how we bring something of ourselves to the experience, merge with it, and hopefully take away something new or meaningful. I was asked if I would send everyone a copy of the poem.
After the meeting, I as I typed my musings into the computer, I found myself dipping into that old well of self-judgement. First, I felt the title was wrong, that I could have done much better with the name. Then there were several lines I would definitely have revised. I also felt the absurd need to own to my Blue Book peeps that I know the poem isn’t “publishable,” whatever that actually means. And the worst thing was that I discovered I had made an embarrassing and ignorant faux pas all those years ago by calling the poem an homage to Tennyson. I saw that I had mistakenly added an extra line to the rhyme scheme of The Lady of Shalott. For those who know these things, Tennyson’s rhyme scheme is AAAABCCCB, and mine is AAAABCCCCB. How had I done that?
I was miffed that old feelings of self-judgement seemed to be surfacing over a twenty-five year old poem. It was ridiculous. I also knew that measuring my creativity by what others might think is not at all where I am now, especially in my current commitment to authenticity. For a while, I sat with the discomfort in my body, but found that the constriction soon dissolved and I was able to reclaim the part of my Self that had inspired me to write what I did, the part I can still feel in these perhaps imperfect yet intimately meaningful iambs. And…in the spirit of truth, I must confess that before sending the poem, I changed which to that in two places.
Take what you can use and toss the rest.
The Lady Of The Lake
Inspired by The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson
In days when magic charms were sent
Between the worlds, a maiden went
Upon a whim of sentiment
Inspired by one whose years were spent
To mend an ancient break.
An innocent was she who came
From misty lands of fairy fame
Where whispering willows crooned her name
And hovering moonbeams sweetly framed
The Lady of the Lake.
Upon her hair a scented crown
Of lilacs wove a spell around
Her golden curls and crimson gown
That floated with a velvet sound
And rippled in its wake.
A fairy maiden sent through time
To calibrate a paradigm,
A wispy spirit too sublime
For earthly metaphor or rhyme,
The Lady of the Lake.
She dwelt beside a secret pool
Her fair reflection clear and cool;
She warmed herself in wizard wool
And lived with one undying rule —
No lover would she take.
And in her solitary life
She was consoled by this belief
That in a lost creation rife
With separateness, she soothed its strife,
The Lady of the Lake.
She moved within an airy world
Of lonely human hearts unfurled,
Their whimpering cries and longings hurled
In knotted pleas, their anguish swirled,
Their sanity at stake.
In dreams she came and sang to them
A lightly resurrected hymn
Of hopefulness, a lovely gem
That time had never turned or dimmed,
The Lady of the Lake.
She sang to them of faded spells,
Of sleeping stars and silent bells,
Of how she understood their hell
And with her charms their fear she’d quell,
And memory re-make.
She sang to them of ancient lands
Where form and spirit melded hands,
Reminded them that wisdom spanned
The moon and sun and sea and land,
The Lady of the Lake.
But like her sister of Shalott,
A curse which she too long forgot
Assaulted her while there she sat
Beside the moon, upon her cot,
And jolted her awake.
“Too long have I remained a maid,”
She said. “My magic is betrayed.
No fairy prince’s cavalcade
Will rescue me. What price I’ve paid.”
Poor Lady of the Lake.
A raft of lilies and of reeds
She made and prayed with reverent pleas
Her fragile fairy soul to free
And end her silent misery,
Her world she did forsake.
And laid to rest on virgin lace
She floated in the mist’s embrace.
No Lancelot did wish her grace,
Or say, “She has a lovely face,”
This Spirit of the Lake.
— Rachelle Rogers
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