. . . show up with our Christmas tree . . .
Yes, it seems that the first real tree we have had for Christmas in over a decade came with a bat tucked into one of the branches. The bat, poor thing, didn't make itself known until the tree was bedecked with lights and hundreds of ornaments, and until, most likely, it had come out of its semi-somnolent state now that it was in a warm, well-lit house. I didn't get to see the show, unfortunately. Steve discovered the bat, rather like a "large moth fluttering around the lamp," when he was getting ready for bed one night while I was at work.
I wish I had been there. I have been paying attention to bats for the last four years when Bat showed up in the first sandtray landscape I created during my first appointment with my Jungian expressive arts psychotherapist. For those of you familiar with sandtray, Jungian, expressive arts, and/or depth psychotherapy, you will know this is of deep significance. The first dream, the first images, the images that follow you are the ones to pay special attention to. And when an image or symbol comes to you in person, well, it is an extraordinary and snychronistic event. However, the bat didn't come to me. It came to my husband, and it came because of my insistence that we have a real tree this year. I felt an intense need for the bracing smell of evergreen, for the perfect imperfection of branches that are crooked and unbalanced, for the nuisance of needles littering the floor. I felt that I couldn't bear not to have these in the house this year.
It was just a few weeks ago that Bat showed up in my journal pages, in a story of a young woman named Artemis who found an old house on Crescent Place filled with scurrying creatures within and powerful totem animals without. Here is the image of the bats issuing in the address of her residence, which was a Found piece of paper I've had for some time:
I wonder if I was issuing an invitation for something wild to enter our home. It would seem so.
And not just any wild thing, but one of the most bizarre creatures to grace the planet. In researching for this posting and looking for images, I came across this meandering exploration of Bat:
"All is mystery, darkness, and imposture in this transitional series, in all these moulds of the ambiguous, branded at the edge of the abnormal, the hideous and the fantastic." - Conrad Roth
Roth is so right. All is mystery, darkness, and imposture. The bat is on the edge of air, cave, and earth. It is mammal and bird. They glide and also engage in sustained flights of power without feather or wing. They hang upside down to sleep, give birth, and nurse their young. They see in the dark by hearing, truly a synesthete creature. They inhabit the eaves of houses, woodpiles, caves, and the trunks of undisturbed trees, including those standing on a hillside Christmas tree farm. They fascinate us, frighten us, and awaken something primitive deep within us.
"Bats carry our projections of a 'reverse' order that forces our perspective into the nocturnal, the underworld, and the equivalent cavernous depths of psyche. The twilight emergence of bats in the thousands or millions to forage embodies for us the concealed,
primordial forces of the netherworld breaking out in expansive liberation."
- ARAS Book of Symbols
Somehow, that a bat traveled to our home in a Christmas tree on this particular year comes as no surprise to me. Pay attention, Bat seems to be saying. Pay attention to the Wild World. It is clamoring for us to listen with our own bat ears, singing out for an echolocative response from us, wanting us to come to the edges and see what terrible mystery and magic might meet us there.
And, really, is that not what Christmas is truly about? Not the presents, the eggnog, the Santa, the holly and the ivy. If we can remember back, back, back long ago in our earliest times at the edge of our memories as two-legged creatures, this time of year was about the world getting dark and darker. It was a time when the sun stood still for just a moment before, thank the Powers That Be, it began to move again, and we knew there would be Light and warmth again. Christmas is when we remember this Grace, this journey down and through Darkness so that we may see Light again. Because there is no Light without Darkness. Nor is there Darkness without Light. Christmas is when we remember that it is, indeed, a possible miracle that the Wildness of Love can be born within the human heart. It is when we reach out to one another because the world can be so lonely.
The Bat is a question mark in our psyches. Neither this nor that. Residing in a world turned upside down. Awake when it is neither dark nor light. Liminal time and liminal space. The Bat is a question we must hold before us, with never a promise of an answer. Yet it is the questions themselves that can save us.
"There was, however, a keen awareness of this Presence in her house. Was it even her house?
Maybe she was residing in the House of the Other? Animal? Mineral? Vegetable?
The Twenty Questions of relationship with the Other:
Will you see me, really see me?
Will you hear me, really hear me?
Will you tune your ear to the drumbeat that pulses deep in my gut?
Will you touch me here and here?
Will you elicit music and starlight from my throat?
Will you forever know my name and call me by no other?
Will you let me carry my own heartache and yet make it beautiful? . . .
Will you be my Key, my Thread, my Doorway, my Nothing and Everything?
Will I be your Cup, your Bowl, your Vessel? . . .
Will you be my hiding place, the wing that covers me when the storms come?" -
Artemis at 107 Crescent Place, from author's personal journal
bat picture - http://www.inriodulce.com/links/bats.html
bats from cave picture - http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/stories/animalsnature/bat-cave/