Category Archives: Abbey Residents
“Stupid, stupid, stupid…” I muttered as I trudged along the gravel path towards the woods. “You’ve done it now — you’ve ticked off an abbess, for heaven’s sake. Good job, sweetie.” I looked to the sky to see if any thunder clouds had formed in order to zap me for my insolence. It was clear.
I don’t know why I had been snarky with the Abbess. Obviously, I have some sort of internal malfunction and she has been sent to help me. Obviously, I felt a little threatened by her questioning and responded accordingly. I was always getting myself into trouble with my mouth. Obviously, one day I was going to really feel the consequences. I just hope it wasn’t today.
I came to the edge of the woods and stopped. This was no small thicket of ordinary trees. A wall of dense, gnarled banyan trunks soared above me. The path was covered with large fallen leaves and what I could see of the trail disappeared into a thick darkness. An equally thick darkness fell over me. I felt like I was in the middle of a horror movie. I was the character about ready to walk in the dark, scary place, the weird music edging towards a crescendo, and the audience yelling “don’t go into there!” — just before the ax murderer jumps out from behind a tree.
Yes, I was going to pay for my insolence today after all. I took a few steps and walked under the canopy of the banyan forest.
(to be continued)
Image and text by L. Gloyd © 2009
I shifted on my feet. The intense gaze of the Abbess made me nervous, and I was not sure if I was supposed to address her first. She was a most unusual Abbess. I expected a stiffly dressed, austere matron, not this woman dressed in a pale Grecian-style gown and glittering jewels. I could smell a faint scent of patchouli perfume.
“Lori, welcome to Lenora Abbey.” Her voice was firm but soft.
“Thank you. Uh…you know my name? ”
“Of course. Would you be more comfortable if I called you ‘Elle-Jay’?
“It is perfectly acceptable to assume another identity here.”
She turned and moved towards an alcove embedded in the wall. It appeared to be an altar with a flickering white candle and a small brazier. She picked up a slim stick of incense, briefly touched it to candle flame and then inserted the other end in the brazier.
“May I ask you why you chose that name?”
“I guess it sounds a little more polished and sophisticated. ”
“Ah, I see…Or perhaps it sounds a little more anonymous? Elle-Jay….L.J. Using initials will do that”
“As if you were trying to separate yourself from others?”
“And perhaps to separate you from yourself as well?”
I did not respond. She had hit a little too close to home.
“If I might suggest something,” she continued, “choosing another identity should assist in connecting you to your true self, not drive you away from it.
“I assume that’s why I am here… to find my ‘true self’,” I countered.
“If you want to put it that simplistically, then yes. That’s part of it.”
“And what’s the other part?”
The abbess smiled but said nothing.
“Great,” I muttered. The incense smoke began to rise from the altar and curl around the Abbess. She glanced down at my backpack that I held at my side.
“What did you bring with you?”
“Well, I brought my laptop, some granola bars, a bottle of— ”
“No, that’s not what I mean.”
“Um…. I brought a pod of lotus seeds.”
“Ah, is that what she gave you?” She began to walk toward another door and motioned me to come along. “Were there any instructions?”
“I’m not sure. The talking owl said to ‘dig before I got thirsty’…. whatever that means.”
“What? What does that mean?”
“I think it means that you came to the right place”. We walked through the door onto the portico overlooking a large grassy area.
“Why? What am I supposed to do here? If you can help me figure this out, I’d be very appreciative.”
The Abbess leaned against the railing and surveyed the grounds. “All I can say is that to be ‘thirsty’ in the real world is bad enough, but to be ‘thirsty’ in Lemuria, where the waters of Muse freely flow, is almost unheard of. You really must be in a bad way.”
“So what do I do?”
“What do you know about lotus flowers?”
“Not much – that they grow in the mud and I think symbolically they represent rebirth. That’s about it”
“And does that suggest a course of action to you?”
“Well, yeah. I suppose I need to find someplace to plant the seeds and then I have some epiphany.” I cringed when I said that. I knew I really should not be too flippant with the Abbess, but sometimes I cannot help myself when I am in an uncomfortable situation.
“Again, on a simplistic level you would be right.”
“But what’s the catch? There’s always a catch.”
“There is no catch. The goal is simple. Go plant the seeds.”
“So, where do I plant them? I’d like to get on with this.”
“Yes, you do like to get to the point and take care of things. Achievement is important to you.”
“Well, no disrespect, but what is wrong with that?”
“Nothing, but I don’t think I have to tell you the other important aspect, do I?”
“I suppose you are going to say that I need to stop and smell the roses?” I was on a roll now.
“Something like that.”
“Or how about ‘it’s the journey, not the destination,”
“Good, you know all this then.” The Abbess stared into the distance with a face that suggested that the time for our audience had come to an end.
“Okay, well, I guess I best get started….um, I wondering if you could just give some directions on where to go… just to get me started?”
The Abbess pointed across the grounds towards a wooded area. “Through the woods, on the other side of the Abbey grounds is a small shrine dedicated to wandering poets and other creative persons. It has a pond with a floating garden at the entrance. Simply plant your seed there with the other lotuses. Enjoy your journey.” She abruptly turned and walked away from me.
“Uh…Thank you. I appreciate that.”
(to be continued).
Image and story: L. Gloyd (c) 2009
I disembarked from the ferry and worked my way up the foggy trail to the front door of the Abbey. Strangely, I found that I was alone. My fellow travelers on the ferry had disappeared. After a moment of hesitation, I knocked on the heavy oak door. I heard the light patter and scuff of feet on the other side and the jiggle of a latch. The door swung open. A teen-aged girl smiled at me but said nothing. She motioned me to come in and pointed towards an archway. I thanked her and then proceeded through the arch into a large hall. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a pulsing glow. I turned towards the glow and saw a woman. I knew she had to be the Abbess.
Text and Image: L. Gloyd (c) 2009
So, I might as well start right now, and start as close to the beginning as I can. I can’t share my first deck, they were lost in an unfortunate swimming pool incident.
After their untimely death, my grandmother gave me a deck for Christmas, with three different books on their meanings. It was the classic Rider-Waite deck.
Everything begins at the beginning, and the beginning in a Tarot deck is the Fool.
The first card of the Major Arcana, which represent milestones in your life, positive and seemingly negative.
Hello to all of you who have stopped by to check out my new residence here at the Abbey. I am getting moved in and settled. I really love my hideaway here at the cloister. It seems Imogene has really been working on the gardens as you can see from the view. It is beautiful. It also seems I have someone who has made its way to my hideaway as well. I am calling her Abby for now. It seems like a fitting name. If Abby belongs to one of you, just know I have been taking care of her until she finds her way back. She keeps eyeballing CJ, my bird.
I hope to have a parley here at the Abbey in the near future and hope you all are able to stop by. It will give you a chance to meet the new residents and catch up with some of the ones who have been here at the Abbey for a while. It will be respectful since the Abbey is a place for solitude, but I am hoping that a little bit of a party atmosphere one day will lighten spirits and bring smiles upon everyones hearts. It will be in the main courtyard. Food and your favorite passion is welcome. This is a place where you passions desires can be seen and enjoyed by many. So be checking for an announcement soon and hope we can bring more beauty and spirit to the Abbey. *~Em~*
If I am not in when you drop by, please feel welcome and come on in and pour yourself a cup of tea and enjoy.
Dr Young glanced at his watch and double checked with the miniture clock which he normally used to gauge the fifty minute hour. His patient was a few minutes late and he knew there was a good chance that she might not turn up at all. His decision to have all future sessions in his office instead of the Taverna had not gone down well. Their telephone conversation had been acerbic; he explained why they needed to meet at his office, she answered in monosyllables and referred to him throughout as ‘doctor’ – never a good sign. There was a slight drizzle which emphasized the ticking of his clock and the comfortable silence in his room which was as inviting as any office could be in a psychiatric unit. Ten minutes late, no warning, no phone call – and he couldn’t read her, not yet, she had given very little away other than an all consuming rage.
Fifteen minutes… there could be lots of reasons… late out of school… a deliberately slow walk… window shopping…. winding him up? Angry patients familiar with therapy, seething, poorly and insightful were more than ready to play games. Some patients clued in…. they learned about transference, eye contact and how not to have it, foot tapping, hand clenching, losing concentration… an assortment of strategies for wasting time or creating a diversion, a red herring. Some clients could not confront the truth and would not or were not able to leave denial; denial…most people stayed in denial because the truth had become a monster, it grew stronger and more terrifying the longer it festered inside… he had to make them safe enough to look behind the secret wooden door and stare straight into the eyes of those long hidden demons. When he got them to that point he had to help them stand their ground and embrace reality….a painful and shuddering nightmare that had to be described, in detail, over and over…like an intricate jigsaw which gradually painted a garish image of memories blacked out but not extinguished. A tiny spark, the echo of a flame… they didn’t want to look for or find what was buried inside them, it gnawed at their emotions, burrowed into the psyche and made itself manifest in some other way. This girl, this twenty minutes late girl, had attempted to lock down her past in a suffocation of anger and a grim determination to keep her demons locked away in a vault that she had tried to make impenetrable….even to herself.
Twenty five minutes late – half the allocated session – what was she doing? He thought about the time they had already spent together and the animosity the girl displayed toward him and the other ‘therapists’ she had seen during the past two years. She was articulate, furious, enraged but fundamentally desperate…desperately depressed, lonely and locked inside a world where the past merged with and overwhelmed the present. He had watched the flickers of fear in her eyes when they got close to or even glimpsed a shadow of memories she could not bear to go near. Time had taught her how to push thoughts to one side, drop them into a huge hole and bury them in the hope that they would suffocate and consequently decay until they ceased to exist. Break downs, tremors, twisting fingers, insomnia, loss of appetite, self-loathing…they bloomed in the soil of those buried memories and their poisonous tendrils wrapped themselves like barbed wire around her mind and body. He wondered how so young a person found the energy to fight them off and continue the day to day pretence of a normal life, even more astonishing when it became clear that she had no support from home. She had insisted that their meetings should be low key affairs to be kept to themselves with only the minimum of information disclosed to her parents. It was difficult. They had not discussed why she wanted them kept out of her treatment… he felt that she wished to protect them from knowing about her distress…they would not cope with it. Who were the parents in that relationship and that household filled with brothers, secrets and seemingly inexorable anxiety.
He watched the time tick away and had to stop himself from ringing her to see what had happened. He wondered if she had forgotten that failure to attend could lead to her being sectioned to the psychiatric unit; she was taking a calculated risk and had probably already worked out that such a drastic step would not be taken for one missed appointment. She was feisty and rebellious, determined not to lose her identity, unwilling to concede an inch without he had to drag it out of her, sarcastic, cynical, a sense of humour – and the loneliest fifteen year old he had ever met. Twenty two years as a psychiatrist had thrown up any number of truly sick, bizarre, dangerous, obsessional, neurotic, psychotic and sociopathic people…unreachable patients who needed medication, nursing care and a safe place to live, whether they wanted it or not. Depressives, manics, phobics, wretched men and women who told him they could not relate, ruled the universe, stayed in bed and cried all day, washed their hands for hours on end until they were raw and bleeding. There were very few personality types he hadn’t met and treated, very few who didn’t feel in some way cut off and alone. He had changed tack and qualified as a psychotherapist which had sent a number of older teenagers his way. This girl was his youngest client to date, undoubtedly poorly, definitely not mad …but the loneliest person he’d ever met…and it filled him with an indescribable sense of anguish.
If you think you may like to read Parts 1, 2 and 3 they are posted under Table 42 at the Tavernadimuse. They are also on my personal blog but I don’t know how to get you there from here!
1st attempt at masking
2nd attempt at using the technique of masking with rubber stamps to avoid over-stamping part of an image – destined to be a birthday card for my sister next month
Thoroughly unprepared for meeting Enchanteur I have left a letter of apology as to the absence of my gift. I am crafting a lap cover of sorts and only was able to manage three blocks while on the train.
In my best handwriting, with sepia colored ink on linen paper, I enclosed the letter in a scented envelope. When I reached the train station I asked the porter where to post mail. He explained rather harshly – ‘we don’t do it this way here – we send telegrams’, and pointed towards a rather long line. I gathered my bags, and proceed to take my place in the line. The telegraph was rather timely, some may even say old fashion. A tiny man with a permanent smile and rather large teeth stamped a portion of my letter onto a Christmas type paper. He then walked outside his booth and placed the new correspondence into a treasure trunk. I watched mostly stunned and opened my change purse to pay for the service – he quickly said, ‘Oh no, Miss, there is no charge for mail on the road to the Alluvial Mine.’
My attention turned back to the treasure chest- it was overflowing with different size boxes wrapped with the finest care and silk bows attached. Panic over took me. Why had I not chose another gift, a finished gift to be precise? How was I going to wrap the gift once I finished? I can only hope to pass some gift shops on the Owl Creek Road and purchase wrapping paper and ribbon.
Suddenly I see her! It is Enchanteur! She is looking through the trunk. She reads my letter – her lips twist with distain and she looks around the old train station. I stand rigid behind a pillar, balancing myself on my toes, hoping not be found. I fear if she locates me I will be left behind and I must complete this journey. I have wanted to take this journey for the past two years and unfortunate circumstances have held me back. No!, I will not let this happen a third time. A shrill whistle goes off and she turns and leaves abruptly … I am safe. I move along once again to take my place on the Owl Creek Road.
“So, we have here Jan, Wacam, Mule and eh hm, Viper” “Yes.”Sqwk.” “Sure.” “Hisssss – I’m here my dear.”
“Shurrup with your slimy ‘yes dears’ you slithering, hissing, horrible, horrid jumped up worm. It’s all your fault we’re here! Do us a favour and creep back to where you came from, leave us alone, I hate and detest the sight of you; I could kill you!”
“Oh my dear Mule don’t be like that, surely this is a time for reflection and reconciliation – hsssss.” “Don’t argue with him Mule, please don’t take on so, it’s my fault we’re here, I’ve allowed this to happen, I walked us all into the darkness.”
“Ah, hm, yes, I wonder if we could pause for a second so that I can see where you all are and if there are other opinions on this matter. I want you to see this session as a place of learning and enlightenment, that won’t happen if the time is spent apportioning blame. Are we agreed on that? Good. Now, Jan, when did you notice yourself walking ‘into the darkness’ as you describe it? How long has that been going on?”
“Do you mean how long this time or how much of my life?”
“There are no right or wrong answers Jan, just tell me about the ‘darkness’.”
“Okay. I would say it started when I was about 4 years old, so more or less all my life. This bad spell I’m having now reared up about a month back, it was subtle, slow at first – but now it’s really got me in a strangle hold.”
Silence. This happens with many psycho-therapists, they leave spaces for their patients to fill, they give nothing of themselves, reflect back at you what you tell them. It’s got a fancy name but apparently it’s the hardest type of therapy to be in because you can hide behind your chair with your coat over your head shivering and sobbing and the most they will do is lean forward a little. I went through this for years and the way it ended was truly awful, even my GP was shocked – (GP General Practitioner, my doctor who works at the local surgery and is the person who refers me to a Consultant at a hospital if I need a specialist examination and /or treatment.) I am not putting Wacam and Mule through that kind of cyberspace therapy!
“Can you describe it – any of you – can you tell me what it’s like for you now or when you knew there was a problem?”
“Skwk, skw, sk, s….. ”
“Hmm, so you’re a little ….lethargic… Wacam?”
“No, he’s an idle, lazy, good for nothing son of a parrot who only shows up when he’s on easy street! When the going gets tough he takes his wings home and makes out he can’t fly anymore. SQUAWKKKKK help me oh help me because I have lost the will to fly….. Oh no, my feathers are losing their lustre, help me, oh help me… me…me..me..me..me…..”
“Skw….you’re a horrible mule Mule, I’m moulting, my sapphire blue feathers are dropping out in tufts… infact I’m almost bald and….. I am a Macaw, pure bred, Macaw… my parents are not common and garden parrots. You are offensive, aggressive and stubborn – you’re an ass! No, you’re an assho…”
“Wacam! There’s no need for that kind of talk! It would help me if you two would stop squabbling… as for you Mule, please stop pulling everyone to pieces and winding them up, we’re all in this together, TOGETHER… ”
“Skawry Jan.” “I’ll try to curb my temper, sorry Jan.” “You don’t need to apologise, I’ve done this to you, stopped Wacam flying, made you a beast of burden with all my endless complaints…. but shouting and being nasty won’t help me to make you feel better – okay?”
“Hssss – sounds fine to me. The parrot’s weak and feeble, the mule is a plodding donkey and the Jan issss ssssooo happy to take the blame. You do know dear lady therapist that I’m only here to observe, I take it all those years of training haven’t blinded you to the obvious? The obviousssss, hsssss, not your strong point I sssussspect dear lady, hsssss….”
“Things are never quite so black and white, hmm, we may find that you’re more involved than you think….Viper?”
“V.I.P for sshhort… but feel free to call me… whatever, hssss.”
“Sqwa…. I wish you’d hissss off to where you came from and leave us alone.”
“Well, sense at last from the pathetic parrot! I don’t give a toss how important you think you are you long streak of …” “MULE!” …” hiss, long streak of hiss.”
“I’m exhausted, it’s impossible to think straight, I cry a lot…everything looks black, everything is black. It’s a black hole, the gravity is so powerful I’m being sucked further in. I can feel it swirling and crushing my body into a tight space; there’s no light in a black hole, no breathing space… oblivion.”
The clock ticked, steady, rhythmical – reassuring – a welcome break, a pause to consider and draw breath, a few moments without pressure.
“It’s as though I’m being smothered, I can’t breathe, can’t see – imagine an Egyptian mummy with thick, black bandages – and then, for no reason, everything changes and I experience the same emotions in a different but equally ghastly way.”
“Skww..a..a.. black is so not my colour. My feathers, my marvellous, exotic, multi-coloured magnificence…. I will be barred from all society of rank and breeding. Shunned by my blood relatives…. relegated to conversing with… with…. budgies!”
“Oh Wacam I’m so sorry to have done this to you, so sorry, it’s all my fault, you should never have associated with me, I do this to everyone; drag them into a world with no colour, bring them down, taint them with my presence. Please try to fly…. go back to The Calabar and convalesce, hitch a ride to Africa… try Wacam, try to fly!”
“Skwa… skw… sk… I can’t Jan, I don’t feel confident, I have no energy, no reason, no purpose, I may never fly again…. I may spend the rest of my days like this, shackled, imprisoned… grounded.”
“Oh dear, oh pass us the tissues… some of us have never flown but we’re not moaning and groaning, yearning for ‘skwour skafire skeathers’ and where we’ll be in society! Get a grip!”
“Don’t be so angry Mule, I know it’s difficult for us but Wacam does have a point. He was born to fly and now he can’t so please allow him to be upset, it’s not his fault that you have never flown and have a rough, itchy, plain brown coat.”
“Brayeee…brayeee… just hang on a sec Jan, we can’t all have fancy clothes in lovely colours. My coat has served me well, it fits its purpose…. and it’s needed to with everything I’ve had to carry. The only wonder is that I haven’t broken my back or crushed my knees…. the burden has got heavier by the day. I’m not having a go at you… just stating the facts.”
“I know Mule, I know and I’m sorry, more sorry than you will ever know! I don’t deserve you, you’re a wonderful friend but I can’t cope with the tug of war, the arguing and bad feeling. The two of you should leave me and go to a place where you’ll be appreciated and people won’t endanger your sanity with crippling burdens! Leave Mule, leave me and drop off all the things that are weighing you down, go and live your life.”
“Hmm, could I intervene here for a second? Do I take it that you feel responsible for the feelings of Wacam and Mule? So much so that you want them to leave and begin their lives elsewhere even though you seem to have had, perhaps still have, a close relationship? Where does that leave you – and Viper?”
“Hisssss… have no qualms on my behalf dear lady, Jan and I have rarely been closer hisssss… I love her, I have no intention of leaving and, hissss, she doesn’t know how to get rid of me, we are hsssss – loversssss.”
“Skwaaaa…. she doesn’t like you…. shkwee told me, I don’t like you, we’re fine when you’re not here, we’re happy, we are aren’t we Jan, you love me don’t you, you love Wacam don’t you?”
“Oh Wacam I love you dearly…. I adore you…. but sometimes we fly a little too high and I fall and crash…. but never think I don’t love you, I will always love you… there is so much colour and vibrancy when you are around, so much fun…. ”
“Oh yesssss, sssooo much fun…. what a ssshhhame Jan always crashes when sssheee flies with you, sssooo difficult for Mule to to pick her up again…. perhapssss you ssshould be on your way. I’ll take care of Jan hisssss…”
“Oh don’t worry, we all know how well you’ll take care of her, you won’t be satisfied until she’s creeping along on her belly, listening to you whispering poison into her ear forever… you… you… snake in the grass!”
“Mule! Don’t antagonise it please, it doesn’t help! It’s my fault he’s here…. drop the burdens… take a rest, please, please …. graze, go somewhere lovely, a large field, a meadow… take a rest!”
“Hisssss – good advicccce… leave ussss Mule…. ssssave yourssself.”
“Oh Mule my dearest friend, I’ve worn you out, you’re exhausted. I have to go on alone from here, I have to search for a light, a glimmer of hope, this is all my fault.”
“Hisssss…hardly alone, hisssss, I’ll be there…. ‘it’ – I won’t forget that dear Jan…hisssss.”
“Right, well, our session is almost over, hmm, we need to see where today’s journey has taken us and sum up what we’ve learned. It seems to me that Wacam is desperately unhappy, Mule is anxious… and angry. Viper, you seem to be… contented… but I have to say hmm, there exists a palpable animosity between the three of you….and Jan, you take the blame for everything – which leaves you depressed, anxious, angry, bitter and…. confused. Am I near the mark or have I got you all wrong?”
“I think you’re on the right lines.”
“Viper? Do you have anything to add? I am going to recommend a further appointment, are you willing to attend?”
“Attend? Mmmhssss – I think you will find Jan goes nowhere without me…. indeed I am in the ascendancy, I dictate her every move… hisssss.”
“I see. Okay then, hmmm, same time next week? Does that suit the four of you?”
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to come on fixed days and times, may we leave it open?”
“Of course. Hmm Jan – before you leave, hmm, have you considered medication, just as a prop whilst we talk this through?”
“I’m on the maximum amount that can be prescribed without being hospitalised. My doctor is coming on Wednesday, we’re going to discuss the situation.”
“Ahh, I see, I see.”
“I’m not sure if you or anyone else ‘sees’ for that matter… but I thank you… I owe thanks to so many people, more than you’ll ever know… I’ll do my best to turn up. Thank you for listening. Bye bye.”
The door closed.
“Psss…psss… Jan, in here, Jan.”
“Who’s that? Viper? Where are you?”
“Psss, in here… in here Jan, look in the pouch…”
“Hank! Oh Hank, it’s so nice to see you, I thought you’d stayed on The Calabar… don’t get involved with this, it’s horrid.”
“Psss, shurrup, I’ve got a message for you, hik, soz, just had a lovely drop of rum, hik.”
“Honestly Hank! You’re a devil! What’s the message?”
“Hic, hic, it’s from that French bird with the weird name, Len, Chan, Teurea….?”
“What is it Hank, what, come on, what is it?”
“Hic, she says, hang on, I wrote it hic…down…got it…listen….”
“Tell me Hank, quickly!”
“It says, hic, ‘Go to the Abbey darling, your room is ready, there are friends waiting… the lights are on, look up sweetheart, lift up your eyes, walk toward the light.’ hic, hic, don’t cry Jan, please don’t cry……is it bad news, you don’t have to go there.”
“Don’t worry Hank, it’s not bad news, it’s not bad news at all.”