Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blessed Be the Caretakers

Hattie Eva Smith, married Eaton.
In the midst of pain, in the lull of heavy drugs in the Burn ICU, I experienced seeing my ancestors standing around my hospital bed. I thought at first that they were visitors or hospital staff. For me, time was distorted and it was a while until I realized that they were clearly defined to me, but also various shades of transparent translucency.

Some of them moved so swiftly around my bed they were a blur of action, but some of them stayed with me long enough to be recognizable. My paternal 2x great-grandfather, Hiram King Wicker, stood at the foot of my bed, acting as patriarch and traffic controller of the ether room. His blue eyes twinkled at me merrily and I knew I would be all right.

My maternal great-grandmother Elsie Elizabeth Durant Riddle sat to my right. She always manifests to my right. She held my hand and I could feel the soft smoothness of her skin. I was too hazy to realize that my hands were bandaged up into tight balls to stop the burns from contracting.

There was another woman in the room, unknown to me by appearance. She wore a long skirt and full blouse that could belong to any nondescript time period. Her face was sober and serious and her head was bent in half-prayer.

Then there was a last permanent guest, who I didn't recognize at first. Her age threw me off, as most of the photos I'd seen of her were either much younger or much older, like my father remembered her, my paternal great-grandma Hattie Eva Smith Eaton. She stood on my left side, with her hands open, palms down, on my left thigh, just above my knee. Her face was also serious, but when she saw me watching her, she'd smile crookedly, reassuring me.

My great-grandma Hattie was a nurse. In 1931, my great-grandpa Royal Levant Eaton died as a result of diabetic complications after a wound inflicted during his work as a prison guard. Being the depression, the government refused to pay out his pension due to his death from a pre-existing condition and Hattie had to find work so that she could care for her children. She went to school and was a nurse for the rest of her life. And then, in her afterlife, she was with me, attentive and unmoving, watching my other ghostly visitors.

In the hospital, every time my dressing changes were done and my legs had healed more, and looked better, the nurses would ask me, "Are you sure you're diabetic?" I knew that was Hattie, standing with me. As the drugs faded and I grew more tangible in my body, my guests paled and became air around me, invisible to my eyes. But I could still feel them in the room with me. I feel them with me still.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Bismuth, My New Stone Ally

Bismuth. I've seen it every year at the rock show I attend and I always marvel at the geometrical shapes it forms as it grows. It's a heavy metal with a rainbow iridescence to it, number 83 on the periodic table of elements. It's been known to man since the fifteenth century and was often confused with lead. The French chemist Claude Geoffrey the Younger noted it as an element all it's own in 1753.

  • Bismuth is non-toxic. Kind of. It has a radioactive half-life of 19,000,000,000,000,000 years. So it's not toxic to us.
  • It is one of five elements that expand as they freeze (including antimony, gallium, germanium, and silicon).
  • It has a high electrical resistance, with a thermal conductivity lower than any metal, with the exception of mercury.
  • It is the most naturally diamagnetic metal, which means it's repelled by magnetic fields. It also resists being magnetized.
  • Bismuth subsalicylate is the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol, 
  • Bismuth tribromophenate is an ingredient in Xeroform, a medicated gauze used to treat serious wounds.

I spent months covered in xeroform from the waist down. It saved my life. I picked up a specimen of Bismuth at the show this year, as a totem for my new stone ally.

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