This morning I woke up dreaming of a garden. The scenery unfolded calm and dreamlike. Shafts of milky sunlight illuminated flowers blowing in a light breeze, and I knew it was the end of summer. I felt every petal and blade of grass intimately, the sounds of life heightened. Behind me, my grandmother with her head bent modestly, an errant lock of hair caressing her right eye as always, the faint smell of lilacs and egg white on her warm, white skin. She tells me how it is that the poppies grow and she points to the yarrow for it's qualities of healing. Her words are only rhythm, like listening to a babbling brook of water gliding over stone. I understand everything and nothing at the same time.
Why is grandmother here on this day of remembrance? On this day, I am in a space where I find myself wishing to move on. Yes, I will say a prayer for the dead - but let me go, let's all go further than that one place of sorrow and shock.She wants me to unlock the secret of the garden. How?
Grandmother was a witchy woman (she is crossing herself now, appalled that I would use this word to describe her) and she knew her herbs, the folklore wisdom of old Bosnia inside her, whether she would admit it or not..
I go deeper to look for a meaning. I want to know why she is whispering to me in my sleep about Poppies, which I don't remember her liking and Yarrow flowers which grew abundantly around her house.
Achillea Millefolium - the Yarrow. She used to bring back bunches of it and spread it on newspaper on the kitchen table to dry along with other roots and stalks from her daily walk. From the dried pieces, she would make tinctures and pomades, wraps and powders. Tiny little pieces of white paper with abbreviated names indicating prescription. These were written in German but with Serbo Croatian accents over 'sh' and 'ch' sounds, as she was only patient with some things and not with others.
When we had bruises, stomach ache, head pain, cuts and fever she would rub and knead and administer with cloths or droppers her magic potions and heal us whole.
As a young man, Achilles the famous soldier/hero of ancient times was schooled by Chiron the Centaur. Chiron was versed in medicine and the healing arts and supposedly passed his powerful knowledge on to Achilles. In his turn, Achilles the leader/prince taught his troops to use yarrow flower to stop the bleeding and hemorrhaging of wounds received during their epic battles. Hence the Latin name for Yarrow: Achillea.
Soldiers, Hero's, War, Magic, Wisdom.
Poppies likewise live deep in our psyche as a symbol of sacrifice and memory. Somewhere there is a poem about fallen soldiers and poppies that spring up around their unmarked graves. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead and by the Christians as a symbol of resurrection.
Red, Christ, Blood, Dreams and Memories, Acceptance
Today is not about mourning soldiers or wise men or herbologist Centaurs, I know. It's about ordinary citizens on that day, the 11th of September, going about their business of life one minute and then dead the next. I think about them in the city and the skies and at the same time, I think about all the others too - the people caught in between ideologies and fantasies, dreams and delusions.I think about soldiers on foreign soil and how unbelievable that is, to me. Ordinary people going about their business of life one minute and then dead the next.
What were the words she said that would unlock the meaning of the dream, unlock the meaning of the jumble that is life and death, war and peace, forgiveness and acceptance?