Beltane Mountain Moon
Black Mountain sits, stoic and massive. No Pele here on Shadow Mountain either though not far away, less than 600 miles, is the supervolcano at Yellowstone. Does Pele feel these others, all these others? Stromboli? Mt. Etna? Montserrat’s Soufrière Hills volcano? Mt. Pinatubo? All those seamounts like Lo’ihi? Are there other Pele’s around the world or is She the one goddess of fire beneath the earth’s surface?
And what of the Rocky Mountains? Is there a Vishnu-like deity here, noted for His calm, stolid presence, a stable and stabilizing force? To be on and among these mountains does not call out terror, does not reveal the raw fierce power of an erupting volcano. The wildfires that can scour their flanks are not of them, but of the soil, of the world of plants and lightning, of drought and human folly. Their orogeny was, of course, violent, a brutal tearing of the earth itself, forcing rock up, up, up, a tectonic plate pushing hard against another. But that was long ago, ended long ago.
The tao here is quiet, steady whereas the tao of Kilauea creates in ropy pahoehoe and ragged aa, in blasts from the magma chambers meeting underground water, by rips in her surface. Yet they are both the tao. No less generative, no less powerful for their difference. The tao here relies on cohesion, aggregation, altitude, the flow of the atmosphere. The tao on the Big Island relies on explosion, heat, creative destruction, movement.
Both are outward expressions of absence, the unceasing, unrelenting power of pure creation. The tao comes into this reality from the ein sof, making the ten thousand things. The same source that births you or me or the ocean or the sun or the Sombrero Galaxy.
(Emperor Ningzong’s poem inscribed in the upper right corner reads, “The wild flowers dance when brushed by my sleeves. Reclusive birds make no sound as they shun the presence of people.”)
Yes, I am one with the calm of Black Mountain, with the hottest lava erupting now on Kilauea’s eastern rift zone, with the gathered strength of the Yellowstone magma, with the flow of the Colorado, the Rio Grande, the Platte with the globe straddling fluidity of the world ocean. So are you. We bring our own uniqueness, self-consciousness, to the tao. We know ourselves as part of the tao. I am stolid, explosive, fluid, distant, near. We are of the tao now, as we were before being thrown into this time, these places, and we will be of the tao after this life we have dissipates, falls away.