It turns out that I have diviners on both sides of my family. My Great Uncle Warren could divine water, which was handy on the prairies, and he often helped people around the Harmattan area find wells for their homesteads and farms. More interesting though is my Dad: my Dad can divine water, but also pipes, even abandoned lines. We have decided that us kids need to practice with some copper rods in the backyard to see if the gift was passed on. I know that my Dad’s mother couldn’t wear a wristwatch because the energy in her would throw off the time. The unexplained abilities in my family and the curiosity I have to see if it has passed on down the line were only amplified as I read Away by Jane Urquhart.
This is the first book I’ve read by Jane Uquhart and I’m not sure how I have managed to overlook her. I love poetry and so I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. I also enjoyed her sense of timing throughout the novel. In the novel, she follows generations of Irish women and chronicles their attachment to mythical connection between water and men. The first woman goes ‘away’ as a ship is wrecked on the shore of their Irish island. The story follows this family for generations, as they move to Canada to escape the devastating landlord system and potato famine in Ireland to the back-breaking work of trying to farm on the Canadian Shield, to the shores of Lake and even the water falls near the then new Canadian Parliament. Throughout the novel the women are taken away to another world and seem to be stuck between the two.
One of my favourite parts of the novel is when young Eileen develops a relationship with the crow in the willow tree outside her family home. The crow predicts what will happen, and Eileen listens. She does not question the validity or the sanity of the situation: she just listens and trusts. This got me wondering: what listening skills have we lost as adults trying to fit into a world of sight over faith?
I’ve had several conversations over the years with friends and family about the link between our spirits and the energy in nature. What are we missing? What are we choosing to ignore? What are we telling to be silent? Maybe a gift for seeing someone’s hazy future? Maybe a gift for diving water? Maybe a gift for reading cards or tea leaves?
Sources: Tea leaves http://www.wishingmoon.com/reading-tea-leaves-whats-it-all-about ; Divining https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4zHxP1L8O8
As I was reading, I enjoyed learning about how this gift of being away, or having unexpected connections to people and nature, allowed these generations of women to connect to something beyond what was right in front of them. The first woman had a pull to be near the ocean and to then speak or write poetry. The second had a pull to be near a lake and to live as close to the land as she could and so to live near those who also chose to live close to the land. The third had a pull to be near the lake as an older teen, which reawakened her childhood memories of talking to the crow. For these women, human interactions were not enough to sustain them: they needed and found a connection with nature that others saw as unnatural.
As I learn more about Blackfoot culture and traditions, I am drawn to a deeper connection with nature. The Blackfoot word for mother is nah-ah (as in Mother Earth) and in ceremony and in prayers, they pray to nah-ah to bless them and they thank nah-ah for sustaining us and giving us what we need to survive. In the stories I have heard from Elders and what I have learned, there are generations of stories of people connecting to this land that I live on; it’s not just the Irish. So in the end, I am lead to believe that our differences are what bring us together; we are all part of unexpected connections, if we listen closely enough.
“Alone, Mary knew there was something hidden inside her, a lost thing she could find again when she had need of it, for she had fragments of the old beliefs. They were gone from her husband but they had not been completely stolen from her…had become dormant, instead, in a kind of winter sleep.” (Uquhart, Pg 74-75)
“Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?” (Proverbs 8: 1)