In the sun’s shadows, is where my story lives, in Iron Forest Town; an old town, of old trees and ‘older ways’.
One dusty, long ribbon of a road, was the only road that lead to Iron Forest. A place where kindred and townsfolk alike, knew how to weave a story; knew how to keep secrets hidden;
A place where the days always feel more than what they seem; a child’s day in the sun, lived for the anticipation of the mystery, each new moment brings.
My friends, Einar, Barin, Willow and I, were taught a hard lesson from the ‘Aether’ mystery, that Autumn. The lesson, that some secrets work their way from a dark, thorny place, to cast a shadow upon our souls. A shadow that slowly infects, with it’s presence, every sunlit corner it can creep into; carving a place, deep; for the light to seek out and grow…
I live with my Daddy, Magnus in an old two story house across, ‘Sleepy Souls’ creek bridge; of which I walk daily after collecting wild plants from Caedmon’s field. I slowly cross, tip toed, on small wooden planks just to hear the creaking of the honey aged, wood boards beneath my bare feet. Wood, that is silvered, worn by time, that all the splinters have been rubbed smooth.
My Daddy, Magnus calls me Angel Blue. He said my name was chosen long before I came into being, from the Old Gate Watchers. I was to be taught the lessons of my natural born gift. Magnus says I am ‘Seer’ on the wing. I could sense and seek out things that needed to be found.
I often wonder, who is watching me … now.
The journey begins, in the small forested Hamlet, where the town’s people have learned to walk in their own light. Magnus says to me, ‘They walk as the ones who came before us Angel, and you must do, too, in your time.”
The Menfolk, like their Fathers before them, were blacksmiths, carpenters, hunters, magicians… Protectors of the Vision I= Watchers in the night I>
The Womenfolk are gilded by sun and storm; shining, nurturing storytellers, walking in their visions by daylight, harnessing the dream energy at nightfall.
The Autumn season came into our town, accompanied by storms and winds that sounded like a freight train lost in the night.
I was up in my bedroom, warm and safe by lamp glow, sewing my Mother’s white cotton dress; the one with little blue flowers that look more like blueberry stains since I have been wearing it.
I tore the sun faded hem this afternoon, as I walked through old man Caedmon’s fields grabbing for berries, with the briars grabbing me back. Caedmon, lets me walk in his fields; he watches me from his upstairs porch, as he waits out the sun going down, with whiskey, his pipe and his thoughts…
I think this gives him pleasure to see my hair and cotton dress glow in the setting sun; A whippoorwill darts past me and flies toward him as his gaze is steady upon something I cannot see.
He is a man of great wealth, owning much land and lumber. He is ruggedly handsome, like my Daddy, from years of felling trees and blacksmithing. His presence is formidable but gentle. I sometimes see darkness reflected in his light blue eyes, watching me, but I am careful as to not show him I have noticed.
Einar, Barin , Willow and I grew up together in Iron Forest Town with a deep understanding of the secret gifts we would wield one day. Our bond had been silently arranged among the Elders, long ago into the story and birth of Iron Forest.
The Autumn season that had come to our town would test the depth of our souls and the very fabric of our light, forever changing the path that was written for us and for all.
I must first tell you about the depth of feeling I have for Einar. He and I chose one another as children, when the Elders allowed the union of two souls to be promised, for the sake of the Seer needing a Watcher, for protection, during the time of visions.
The shadows that envelop Einar are primal, fierce and protective.
Einar is a watcher and grand seer from the first warrior. His lineage was boldly carved in a secret storm; a watcher in the dark, was his seal.
His gift as a seer and watcher, was to protect me in my time of Vision.
This bond was silent but very forceful between us…
The story will be continued, very soon…
~ I live with my Father, Magnus. Like his Father before him, he is a miner, woodsman, master hunter and my protector; always watching but has a suffering allowance for my independent and curious nature.
Father, lighting his pipe, sits with me on our large, southern wood porch every evening I can recall, since I was a girl child. His stories weave a magic spell; lucid, hypnotic and sensual are his words that speak of the ancient gifts shared by the light and dark beings.
He speaks of the love he has for my departed Mother. Her name meant something to him I will never know deeply nor could I speak of with the finest words. I knew her as Aislinn.
He called her, Angell.
I wear her dresses she made by hand, now. My favorite is the antique white slip she kept in her cedar box, wrapped in a satchel of cinnamon and coriander.
Magnus, after slowly exhaling the dark scented pipe smoke, tells me “daughter, you walk in the light of your passing Mother; you favor her in the good ways I can’t be for you. Lucinda, you will find your way just fine, girl. Gentleman Caedmon sees you running tall in his fields, choosing the ripest herbs and plants for your mixing’s. He has a mighty strong fondness for you child. He might come callin’ soon for you.”
I just stare dreamy into the dusk, listening to the deep sound of Magnus and the vibrational drone of the cicada; feeling a sweet desire for the way Jupiter touches me, not the kind of ‘touchin’ you can tell Magnus about.
Do we keep some of the sweetest things, hidden in a dark place for fear of losing the rich memory of intimacy; or are we just afraid? ~
Excerpt from my Story ~ (c.) 2018
(The moments that align) ‘Lucinda Mae, Jupiter and a Pig Named Pearl in Dusty Spirit Springs’
My Father, Michael Douglas Flannery, I remember with great fondness and love. He was a quiet, strong and patient man who gave me a sense of security as a child.
I admired his patience and passion for the things he loved to do and people he loved to share his time with. He was a quiet man and as a child, when I would look up at him, his tall frame seemed so towering over mine. When he would reach down to pick me up and hold me, his strength would pull me up with such ease I thought he could always protect me from any bad dream.
As a child, sensitive and imaginative, I really loved the feeling of my Dad’s protection. I thank God, as a curious child, I had a Father like him.
He was one who understood my explorative nature, but kept a watch on me. He understood my independent nature and also my deep need for love.
He is the one whose passion and inspiration for plants and gardening, taught me so much and inspired me to gain more knowledge of plant essences.
I remember his love of Family and gathering with them during the Holidays. His warmth, generous smile and happy demeanor were always a welcome sight.
I will always remember his patience teaching me how to plant my first garden as a young girl. I loved the way my bare feet touched the cool upturned soil on the warm spring day.
He taught me how to carve my first Jack-O-Lantern for Halloween. This was exciting for me as he showed me how to use his favorite fish carving knife, carefully. It made me feel so special that he trusted me.
He taught me how to fish and our Family’s camping trips were the highlight of my summers.
My Dad loved many things, simple pleasures through all the seasons. He was an outdoors kind of man. His hands were strong and busy. He was so fond of fishing, camping, boating, and gardening. He was adept at woodworking and making things. I loved his creativity and joyful spirit.
He also “carved the path” of how I would view other men that came into my life.
I have been blessed to know many good men in my Family and as friends who have been loving and nurturing and showing strength and discipline when needed.
I can only whisper in prayer and praise to my Father now, and some of the other wonderful men I have known…these wonderful moments you all have given to us I am forever thankful and gracious beyond words.
The earthy Pioneer country people, their homes and churches, the surrounding sinkholes and caves and the beautiful Joppa escarpment is what helped create the area and National Park we know as Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
There once were 13 churches in this region now there are two left here in the Mammoth Cave area. Joppa Missionary Church and Cemetery, circa 1862, is one of the historical churches left steeped in many stories rich with tales and events of these people in their time of sharing and living.
Many immigrants and pioneers explored and settled in the Green River Valley coming from western Virginia, eastern Kentucky, North Carolina and Pennsylvania during early 1790’s.
These people of the Joppa Ridge would form a very isolated, self-sufficient mountain farming community that relied on one another, celebrated weddings and children being birthed, grieving together during the passing of a loved one, sharing knowledge, good times and secrets among themselves.
The 1862 Joppa Church was a fascinating place for me to explore. The lovely wood clapboard floor that still feels sturdy has a warm rounded sound as one walks upon it amidst the silence and leaves that have blown in. The large old glass windows let bright light shine upon the dark wooden benches and pulpit. The windows behind the pulpit overlook the large shade trees, cemetery and forest.
I notice there are pennies left on the pulpit and realize the special significance of “Paying the Ferryman” so he would take them into the next world. This is an old Greek myth where Charon, the Ferryman of Hades would demand one coin for payment to cross over.
Pennies are left on gravestones in abandoned places and churches to remember the deceased. It is a lovely sign that you remember the ones that have gone before.
Many fascinating and haunting tales come from this Joppa Ridge and cave area. it is believed that prehistoric Native Americans, around 4000 years ago, mined the cave walls in Mammoth Cave for minerals. They also buried and entombed their dead inside the cool cave. In the 1800’s there was a doctor named John Croghan who created a colony for his tuberculosis patients within the cave. He thought the cave air would heal and end there suffering. It ended more than suffering; it ended some of their lives. There are many people that tell of the ghostly sounds and apparitions in this area of the cave.
During the years of the 1920’s the caves were privately owned and explored. One unfortunate happening was the infamous story of Floyd Collins who owned a section called Crystal Cave.
One day while exploring the cave a large boulder fell upon his leg pinning him there. On finding him the next day people tried to move the heavy boulder but it was in vain. Many people from all around came to help and take in this horrific event. After two weeks, Floyd Collins passed away. They displayed his body in the cave.
His body was stolen only to be found a few days later, without one of his legs. It was returned to a coffin in the cave until the National Park System made the purchase of the cave. They then closed it to tourists. This part of Mammoth Cave is reported to be haunted by many. People have written that they can hear the voice of Floyd Collins asking for help. It has been reported that people can feel objects thrown from some unknown source to land near them.
Researching and learning about the Joppa Church community has been difficult. So many people have passed on and there are not many written records to view. I have a great appreciation and understanding of the importance in handing down letters and stories to one another, to ensure that our past is not just a hazy memory that will be lost in time.
There are many people who have explored the Joppa Church and cemetery through the years, and have written about experiences that they have had. A few have written about the sense of something from the woods watching. Photographs have been taken on dark evenings that reflect orbs of light around the cemetery and within the forest.
One particular story happened around a research group of people who entered the church and looked around. They found a Bible and noticed the page it was on. They returned after a short period of time exploring outside and enter back into the church, to notice it had turned pages. It was reported to be very still and neat inside the place. The people opened and closed the doors trying to stir up a draft to see if the pages would turn. To no avail the pages would not turn.
Most of the stories that have been shared around speak of the uncomfortable feeling that something is watching from the nearby woodlands.
The following photographs are from my visit here and the surrounding countryside where I gathered chicory by the railroad line and explored abandoned houses. I hope you enjoy the journey!
~A Summer’s Dream~
The Cicada buzz mounts to a vibratory fury and descends swift, as I watch the mist settle upon the summer fields.
Bull thistle has gone to seed among the barn; white flurries dance, softly, upon the electric aether, before the storm.
I wander a lush and timeless countryside, where feathery mimosa trees blossom, in their sweet sugared fragrance, cooked by a fiery sun.
A peregrine falcon soars from a space on high, overseer of a rolling hillside.
Amish women tell stories as they hang their wet washing in the wind, to press and dry into shape; cotton and linen, sun faded and warmly fragrant, by evening.
In the old house, a slow thunder rumbles the wood clapboards and settles with the dust;
as iced lemon and watermelon waters, are stirred slowly with long spoons deep, into perspiring glass jars, for the evening porch gossip and gathering of loved ones telling stories of the day.
Swift blackbirds among the cornfields take flight, trailing a dusty path towards the lavender heaven above.
Those that have secrets will find each other in the haven of “Old Caedmon’s” tobacco barn, deep into the tree line, where dusk moves like velvet shadows over the living things…
Bare footed and cotton dress, finds me on the dust roads that wind down into Ash Rose Hollow, where I gather wild plants and berries; horses languish in the field, with the last heated moments of the day.
As the moon finds a path through the windows, I smile, upon cool linen and satin, remembering the day’s blessings, unfold into memories of sweetness.
I secretly listen for the distant whistle of our town train, coming, always before the town clock strikes midnight.
It is a lullaby song for a summer’s dream.
~By Tommie Flannery Baskis~ 2019
‘Lady of the Woods’
Shimmering ashes and silvered cloth, drape long and smooth,
Like a slow fog that whispers over the forest path, to adorn the Lady of the Woods.
As the sun lies down before her, a glory of mist in the smoky heaven; the very breath of Angels of the winter land.
Her lullaby… shattered crystals, that resonate bright upon the aether;
rejoice in the gathering of Wood Thrushes that will carry her tune,
To the Knight of her heart-
The stygian corridors of man, where no apparitions dare to quarter,
The Knight will find her.
In dreams, where the ‘Shadows of the Light’ speak the stories that we see,
beyond veil and mist, she will be-
The Lady of the Woods…
shimmering ashes and silver cloth, a formed mystery;
A story foretold