As I've said many times, I am a slow learner.
Oh, not in all things: ask me to solve a fourth-degree differential equation and I'm there, with pencil.
Calculate the apparent orbit of a newly-spotted comet? I'm your girl – or I was, alongside Jack Bennet and Johannes Wolterbeek-Muller, back in the day.
But understand a relatively simple tale of incarnation and re-incarnation turned into a wonderful piece of music by the Grateful Dead? I'm afraid not.
At least, not for 35-odd years.
Terrapin Station is the only Dead music which really got to me. Probably because I bought it first in 1977, when I was just 17. The soaring orchestration of the eponymous track did indeed dig fairly deep grooves in my psyche – the astronomical allusions are gorgeous for a start.
But, in my mind, until now, I've situated it as a slightly stoned campfire tale. The imagery of the storyteller and his audience in the firelight, while visions of soldiers, sailors, and ladies with fans come and go is a powerful one on its own.
Let my inspiration flow in token lines suggesting rhythm that will not forsake me till my tale is told and done.
But what is this Terrapin Station place, anyway?
Yesterday the song started replaying itself in my mind, seemingly out of nowhere.
The Terrapin, or alternatively the Tortoise, is an ancient symbol of the earthly plane.
Some rise, some fall, some climb..to get to Terrapin.
When we are out of the world, we are in quite another space altogether.
While you were gone...this space was filled with darkness. The obvious was hidden. Nothing to believe in, the compass always points to Terrapin.
We are in that circle of firelight,keeping the darkness at bay – or trying to ignore it altogether – and telling each other stories which conjure up phantasms from the void. Stories which give us insight in how we should be living this life, what our soul's true path is.
For many of us, our soul's true path is to be the story teller. The light-shedder. Not necessarily the voice of reason or the voice of the thunder – although both these modes may have their places. Not to dominate, but to illuminate. That is the path I am – hesitantly, at first – setting my foot upon.
I am a Witch and a Priestess of Hecate. I am also a Shaman – and I'm making no apologies for using that descriptor, given my family heritage.
A Witch's job is to turn the Wheel says Sister Hecate, and of course she's right. A Shaman's job is to help heal her line, and of course that's right, too. But all of us have an added obligation to tell our story – to describe what satori feels like, and lighting candles in the dead of Winter, and dancing the Maypole in the Summer, and surrendering to the Universe when it's time to do that, and making and creating and shaping this Terrapin Station in all the ways that we can.
While the fire lights are low, strange shadows from the flames do grow – till things we've never seen seem familiar.
For many are the souls waiting just beyond that circle of earthly light. Waiting for a chance to slip in once again, to return to Terrapin, in all its wonder and glory and pain. And many are the already incarnate souls gathered around that comforting fire, turned to the flame, their ears pricked for the story's message – some hint, perhaps, on how best to navigate this round of Earth. We can help light their paths for them.
Story teller makes no choice – soon you will not hear his voice. His job is to shed light, and not to master.