Portal Path

November 30, 2022

by Hagar Harpak

Tree branches make a portal

Where is your tenderness as this year descends deeper into the underworld?

What is your deepest wish as you move into this last phase of this circle around our star?

Who are you becoming through the moments of reflection within the in-betweenness of this season? 

Life is filled with crossroads. 

There are personal portals. There are the big gateways of births and new beginnings, of deaths and dissolutions, of grand openings and grand finales and grand awakenings and major moves in and out of phases. 

There are collective doorways that we cross together, like the one we are moving into now as November surrenders itself to December, and we walk together the last steps of this year, preparing and resolving, or maybe totally ignoring, completing a cycle and making space for the next. 

There are the little thresholds within our own understandings, or the pauses between this breath and the next, the moment that you hit “send,” the soft gaze before you take your eyes away, the sentence that gives itself to the question that comes after it, the onramp of the freeways, the offramp too. 

Life is a continuum. Our life force doesn’t care that 2022 is reaching its final month. The breath isn’t ending or beginning. Those binaries are smart and helpful, and also incredibly limiting. If nature knew we were counting cycles the way we do, she/they would laugh. Does the tree ever think; “These are my roots, and that is the soil, this is mycelium, and those are worms, these leaves are mine, and how dare the squirrel take my acorns?! This is carbon dioxide that I just took in, and now I will give oxygen and make clean air?”

Humans need boundaries. We need to know where our skin is, where we end and the rest of the world begins. We need a year to come to a conclusion so that we can start the next. We need walls around so that we feel protected and keep ourselves safe. We need the distinction between outside and in, between self and other, between here and there. And these walls create the need for windows, for the ability to look outside and see the view of something greater, of somewhere beautiful, or just to let the light come in. Our walls create the need for doors, so that through them we are welcomed home, or so that we walk out through them into the great unknown. 

We are always in the middle of things. We are a transition palace, a temple of binaries, breaking open to reach within the spaces of the in-between, to expand beyond the spectrum of this and that. The Now of this moment is never in isolation. This moment stands on the foundation of what came before, dances on the ruins of what no longer belongs, weaves the pieces of the past into the presence of the present. This moment sets the tone for what will happen next, carves the path of the next adventure, builds the set for the show that must go on as we become ancestors. 

Nothing is ever in isolation (except for what is, because there are no absolutes). The decomposing leaves (leave them alone, leaf blowers!) become the soil, become nourishment for insects and fungi, become ground for the tree. The tree becomes your breath, and your breath becomes its food, and the fruit that grows on it will feed you, and some of it will drop, and seeds will make the possibility of future feasts of reciprocity. 

Maybe some of us will ponder what we leave behind as the leaves no longer decorate the branches of the trees, and the year closes in on itself. Maybe some of us will love the darkness of this season’s nights, not just for the beauty of its sparkling lights, but for the tomb that is the womb, the exit that is the entryway, the decay that gives way for the life that will need to lay dormant underground for a while, filled with potential, filled with possibilities, carrying the key for what is yet to come within the secret compartment of what hasn’t yet happened, made of all that happened before. 

The portal is the path. We are always at a threshold, always on the road, always at a fork. We leave things behind, we walk toward a new horizon, surprised when the past awaits around the corner, inspired by the memories of the future.

The path is the portal. Everywhere we go is an opportunity to receive ourselves anew, to recommit to a love we felt was lost, to rewire a disintegrated system, to revive, to recreate, to reconsider, to generate, to germinate, to grieve, to rekindle a lust for life. 

We learn to look forward and back simultaneously, the way that Janus, Roman god of thresholds and transitions does. We breathe through the trunk of Ganapati, Hindu elephant-headed god, who stands in the doorways, in the space between, at a new beginning, and always in the middle of things, and whose trunk twists and turns like a serpent, to remind us of life’s fluency of motion, complexity, danger, and sweetness. We break open into three paths, and move within liminal spaces, crossing roads as the Greek goddess of the crossroads, Hecate. We are mycelium and tree, animal and wind, developing a network of interconnectedness underground, rising to offer shade and food, decomposing and seeding and fruiting and eating and being and breathing. 

So breathe, my darling. Long deep inhale, slow and steady. A sweet and gentle pause before you let it go. A powerful, luxurious, mindful exhale. And before the next round begins, another soft spoken space opens, asking us to wait. And then to go again. 

May this portal into the portal of December-January be a path of breath filled moments, a woven tapestry of memories and hopes, dreams and contemplation, reflection and envisioning, and deep resounding presence.

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