Khanum Gol

2.13.16 Exploring Red Skywalker Wavespell

In keeping company with feathered friends this winter, chickadees and juncos and, more recently, cardinals and blue jays I’ve found inspiration for developing strength as an artist rendering form from life, and in our conversations I’ve been asking them what their stories are, where are they coming from, what messages do they bear, what associations do they foster? The songs they responded with I pursued in tuition, eventually leading to many interesting tidbits amongst which was this juicy morsel:: a legend about red birds in the Choctaw tradition as follows::

“This story tells of a time before time, during which time there lived a beautiful and special Indian maiden who was lacking in the very one thing that she she truly longed for: her mate. Sitting outside under a tree one day, she heard Red Bird, and the two entered in a conversation. Gradually Red Bird was filled with her longing and longed to assist her. When Red Bird flew away and came to another place, there was a handsome Indian brave sitting outside and they also engaged in conversation. Red Bird heard from in the loneliness of his voice the same longing that the maiden had shown. Soon the Red Bird began to see that these two people had the same desire. Red Bird, absorbed by the longings of the two, became ill of ease and hopped away. The concerned brave followed Red Bird hopping and was lead right to the lodge of the Indian maiden. The brave, being concerned for his friend, did not notice the distance he travelled from his home. When Red Bird saw the Indian maiden was sitting outside where the brave would soon see her, well Red Bird flew away. In deed the brave saw the Indian maiden and it dawned on him how far from home he was. He approached the Indian maiden to ask where he was. Red Bird sat in the tree and watched them quietly. At first the brave was shy and the maiden silent, but they soon began talking like old friends. Red Bird was pleased to see this and thought it was good. Red Birds work was done; now it would be up to the brave and the maiden. As Red Bird flew home, thoughts of how Great Spirit knew this day would come reverberated. Red Bird was filled with gratitude; now the maiden had someone who would see her and the brave had someone that would hear him and in each other they had found one who cared.”

What I found particularly incredible about this tale is the role of Red Bird as matchmaker and midwife to longing, as it brought to me in dreamtime a beloved old woman called Khanum Gol with a story, an exploring skywalking tale! Indeed afterward I wondered:: was she once this Red Bird? Had this Red Bird incarnated into the mosaic again in the squalling body of the infant whose parents beheld her bright red face at birth, her hooked beak like nose rising like the Alborz Mountains, the source of the sparkling waters of the River Karaj which rushed outside the city where she was born, the city named after these very aquamarine waters, Karaj, this nose protruding like a rock above her round moon shaped face, red as the beloved Rose of the Persian people to whom she was born, who named her simply and aptly Gol, meaning flower, while truly Gol as she was and became, within that tiny body did there also beat the spirit of this Red Bird, crossing time and space and culture and geography and society to take residence anew in she who came to be called Goli by some, Khanum Gol by others, and Bibi Gol by yet many more? Is it possible?

Here comes Khanum Gol, in her white chador with the tiny pink and red floral print. One side is tucked under her arm where she also has fresh loaves of flatbread wrapped in brown paper. The other side goes over her arm, across her chest, and is tucked under the arm with the bread, the two sides of her chador coming together in one place. Her hands are free and in one she carries a pink basket, it holds a folded quilt, watermelon, strawberries, fresh feta, a bundle of mint, walnuts wrapped in a paper cone, knives, and a pouch with agates. She carries the pouch with her wherever she goes.

Khanum Gol’s stout legs stride under the hem of her chador, her bare slippered feet with their hennad toenail press firmly into the dusty earth beneath her. When she walks her gait is ducklike, one foot treads pointing outward then the other and the overall result from the back is of a waddling woman.  Her pearly moon face, while childlike, is grooved with ripples, lines indented into her skin. Some swirl as the waters in the joobs do when they bump into the edges of the canal where sycamore and oak trees flank either side, others are as fissures on the rock faces of the Damavands. Khanum Gol seems to be perpetually smiling, her inquisitive eyes sweep the space ahead of her even before she enters it on her walk. These eyes, blue as the cascading Karaj, have already found the eyes of those who need a smile most for they take in everything and direct her feet on a path that leads her right past this woman here, a child there, a man on a bench, a cypress leaning over the street where she gives each a twinkle, a sparkle, a nod of her head, and sometimes she’ll stop and extend her hands to give a squeeze or a pat on the back, lend an ear to a tirade that releases tears in the outpouring. After she passes through everyone is left with the lingering scent of roses around them, a sense of ease they carry with their hearts feeling peacefully and purposeful.

Once in a while Khanum Gol meets such a one to whom she’ll give a sacred agate from the pouch she carries. She carefully selects one for the dying man, tucks it into his hand, whispers to him to be sure to give it to his son, to place on his eyes once his body is consecrated, to ease his transition from this place to the next. She selects another for the girl with the upset stomach that is the root of her outward upset behavior, the girl who causes much anxiety for her confused mother who cannot fathom what it is that makes her daughter behave as she does. For the lonely young man, the target of envy and hatred, she selects a stone to protect him, to open his heart to the song waiting within.

Khanum Gol in her flowery chador with her kindly face speaks the language of the people: the windtalkers, the fire tenders, the earth keepers, the honey gatherers, the ones who know the tongues of all beings; those unconquered people who generation after generation keep alive their heritage openly yet secretly practicing what became lost to the conquered ones, assimilated into the conquest. The lost ones who embraced the ways of their conquerers and were enslaved to the yoke, the grist mill of taxation and toil in servitude to those dry barren and devoid desert dwelling brutes who could not comprehend the subtleties beheld by eyes blinded with lust for possession, could not hear in songs the celebration of the glory of a pink sunrise over the waters of the Caspian Sea where the iridescent insides of shells appear as Heaven on Earth with their leaden dead ears; instead applying themselves in savagery, slaughter and carnage guided by the belief that by bending others to their will, destroying forces of opposition, and ruling with the law of their one narrow vision they could control the unpredictable and glorious epiphany that Khanum Gol’s people, and all the other free people like hers, felt singing and thrumming in the very fabric of their embodiment, spontaneous and alive in ways that could never be captured, tamed, chained, or controlled, not even in the name of their one god whose name they bandied about carelessly, attempting to manipulate even their own people’s Sacred to their use.

Khanum Gol was an interesting woman to say the least. She was at once healer and midwife, present at many births within her community and also served those people who requested her presence at the births of their infants, believing her presence would lead their child to an auspicious future, insisting on her attendance in defiance of mockery from their families, who found people like Khaum Gol to be of the old fashioned, superstitious, illiterate kind and far, far beneath them. Indeed they were far, far from whatever was beneath Khanum Gol, whose merry eyes swept over them and could turn surprisingly frosty and cold, for the waters of the Karaj are many faceted depending on the place they flow through. With icy gaze she could dam the flow of words that these people chose to carelessly speak, so that they froze unspoken.

Khanum Gol is the reason for my existence. She played the role of matchmaker between my mother and father. His people come from the arid climes of adobe dwelling, mosaic building, qanat digging, silk weaving, wind speaking fire worshippers; the Yazdi’s, whose roads were part of the trade routes linking East to West on the trade route known as the Silk Road, a city with maze like alleyways and streets that were walked once upon a time by Marco Polo. My mother’s people spring from Shiraz, and are as opposite to the Yazdi’s as Heaven to Earth, yet both are dreamers and lovers:: of the Sun, the Moon, and the Sacred Fire. The Shirazi’s are beauty loving people whose philosophers, poets, alchemists, and artists love to gather in lush flower filled gardens where groves of trees and mosaic tiled pools converge in symmetrical harmony as Man’s creative testimony to the glory of Source. Here lovers rendezvous in clandestine engagements amidst the song of nightingales, the fragrance of roses, and the chatter of poets involved in duels with words, where once Saadi wrote of the mysteries, concealing the ways of his ancestors in verses within the Bustan and Gulistan wrtings such as these:

“O darlings of your fathers, learn the trade because property and riches of the world are not to be relied upon; also silver and gold are an occasion of danger because either a thief may steal them at once or the owner spend them gradually; but a profession is a living fountain and permanent wealth; and although a professional man may lose riches, it does not matter because a profession is itself wealth and wherever you go you will enjoy respect and sit on high places, whereas those who have no trade will glean crumbs and see hardships.”

Of One Essence is the Human Race,
Thusly has Creation put the Base.
One Limb impacted is sufficient,
For all Others to feel the Mace.
The Unconcern’d with Others’ Plight,
Are but Brutes with Human Face.”

Shiraz where the mystic, philosopher, scholar, sage, and poet Hafez held conference and bespoke truthtelling, prophecy and augury in poetry revealing hypocrisy, illusion, and lies cloaked in verse below the boughs of ancient trees as Ghazals such as this, 407:

“The green fields of fate were fully grown
While the new moon’s sickle hung in the west.
I remembered the crops I had sown
It was now time for my harvest.

I said O fate, when will you awake?
The sun is up, it is now dawn-break.
Said, you have made many a mistake,
Yet keep hope and faith within your breast.

If like the Christ, this world you depart
With integrity and with a pure heart,
Your brightness will give a new start
To the sun, even shinning at its crest.

Don’t seek your guidance in the skies
It is deceitful, though it seems wise.
It helped many kings majestically rise
Then brought them down at its own behest.

Though many jewels and rings of gold,
Necks and ears of many elegantly hold;
All the good times will one day fold
With a clear mind listen, and a beating chest.

Don’t sell the harvest that you reap
In the market of love, for so cheap;
For the moon, a nickel you keep,
And for the stars a dime at best.

From evil eyes may you be freed;
Fate rode the sun and moon’s steed.
Hypocrites ruin their own creed and nest
Hafez leaves without his dervish vest.”

Khanum Gol brought my father and mother together, like Red Bird in the Choctaw legend, and then it was up to them. I was a result of their union and along with my Yazdi grandmother there was also moon faced, beak nosed, sparkly eyed Khanum at my birth, with her birdsong, rosewater, and beads, in Tehran, once known as Ragha:: birthplace of Zoroaster according to some lore, Tehran where the blood of a hundred thousand hundred million people flows, as does the Karaj pour forth from its headwaters in the Alborz Mountains passing to the West of this city, below the Caspian Sea.

I wonder about the spirit of Red Bird being as one with Khanum Gol’s, for it is through the Red Bird’s song that I entered communion with Khanum Gol, visited with her in all time outside of time, once upon a time and sat with her in tuition. How came Red Bird to know her story unless they knew each other? Could they have been one and the same? From Source returned to Source, the Source of All Source, turning and returning, singing the songs and dreaming the dreams that reside in the pockets of the apron worn by all Time outside of time, once upon a time: there was a Choctaw Legend that Red Bird called me to seek out; Red Bird, matchmaker, midwife to dreams and longings, feathered friend, thank you for the gift, this gift that informs my cells back through all time to the magic that courses through the blood in my embodied form, the magic of my people, the songs of their knowing, the reason I am as I am and could not be any other than as I am for to know where I come from is to unfold into allowing the transmissions to flow with this free person.  To know Khanum Gol is to know myself, is it possible I am Cardinal?  Am I swirling in and out of the eye of the needle?

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