Saturday, October 4, 2008

Aberduffy Day -- Credo IX

Dream about thirty years ago: I am saying good-bye to a dearly loved older man in my life. Our hands are touching through a chain-link fence. I am in tears. Kindly, he says, “Don’t cry, my dear. We will meet again on Aberduffy Day.” I woke on a tear-wet pillow, and began to search for some Celtic festival I knew not of. I searched in vain. Then I thought of the Gaelic roots: aber means river and duffy comes from dubh which means black. Black river = Styx = death! So, who wants to die when they can celebrate Aberduffy Day!

The summer I was seven and a half, 1930, my grandma King rented a house in Dublin, NH. I knew nothing about death. Innocently, I was conducting an experiment of plowing with a kitten, a string, and a pencil. The kitten ran off under the house and got stuck, but was rescued. Grandma scolded me saying I could have killed it! It could have strangled! I was puzzled, but a few days later I found a wee dead bird and carried it to Grandma King, who explained that all living things die.

I spent three nights terrified. Then I reasoned that if all die, it must be natural, so ok. So I went into the corner room that had her desk in it, closed the door, and called on God to make a bargain. If I lived a good life and helped people, would he kindly give me a Happy Death!

Fifty-three years later, my cousins invited me and my husband to visit them in the house they had rented in Dublin and gave us the directions. To my astonishment, it was the same house!! So, I was able to go back into the same room and, needless to say, reminded the dear Lord of our bargain.

This is to share with you when the time comes for me that I hope to be celebrating and so should we all.

In The Beejum Book, old Mr. Rathbone is on the train with Teak and the critters headed for Beejumstan. Teak, the little girl (moi) asks why. The rabbit Lonesome explains he is on his way to celebrate his Aberduffy Day. Well, Mr. Rathbone was real. I met him when I was six in Rome at the Hotel Flora. He was the uncle of the actor Basil Rathbone and a friend of Grandma King. They were both in their seventies, and Mr. Rathbone treated me as an equal and we had long and interesting conversations! From a Jungian perspective, he addressed my Self and taught me a valuable lesson about teaching kids later on. I remember he said what I really needed was an En-cy-clo-pee-dia. Needless to say, my mother explained it would not fit in my suitcase.

I want to add a comforting observation of a Tibetan lama I met. He said that the English language makes a grievous error in making antonyms of life/death. They should be birth/death, which are both a part of a greater Life. He then drew a circle with a horizontal diameter, put birth on the left and death on the right. In the upper hemisphere “unmanifest Life” and in the lower “manifest Life.” To me this is an important insight and worth sharing.

Just as the ego cannot define “God” through the duality of consciousness, it cannot describe life after death, but at the center (Self/Divine Guest) of the circle we can get glimpses because there we may remember . . . Paracelsus said “Let nature be your guide!” Nature recycles. Nothing gets wasted. Scorpio rules death and resurrection and recycling.

When my oldest grandson was four, I babysat him while his mother was giving birth to a baby sister. I drove him to school and we passed a cemetery. He commented solemnly, “Gaga, that is the place they put you when you die.” Then he added, “But not the important part.” Intrigued, I asked him where his important part had been before he was born. He thought a moment and then hit his head and exclaimed, “Oh, I forgot!”

Not the same as “I don’t know.”

The idea of life after death is hinted at by prehistoric man, who buried the dead in the fetal position, covered with red ochre in some cases, in the womb of the earth. But it reached full written expression during the Age of Taurus/Scorpio in Egypt and Sumeria circa 4000–1800 BC. I will conclude with an Egyptian poem of the period:


Death is before me today
Like the recovery of a sick man,
Like going into a garden after a sickness.

Death is before me today
Like the odor of myrrh,
Like sitting under the sail on a windy day.

Death is before me today
Like the course of the freshet
Like the return of a man from the war-galley
to his home.

Death is before me today
As a man longs to see his home
When he has spent years in captivity.


Now to go and knock myself live!


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