Written by Kimberly May, a guest contributor.
The smog has returned to Los Angeles. We receive a brief reprieve now and then, especially when the Santa Ana winds are at play. It is not hyperbole when they say the Santa Anas brings magic. But it is the recent rains that make the Burbank mountains look like another world, brushed with dew, full of life for a change, and I feel a tug ton my heart that is as ancient as the earth itself. The afternoon sunlight cuts sideways through the smog above the Los Angeles River. For a brief moment, I imagine it is the misty highlands of my heart's home - where the veil between us and what we used to know is not so thick - and not the murky waters of the Los Angeles basin that I find myself still. The daylight smog shields the land from vision now, just as the nighttime light pollution blocks the stars, and so the only place left for me to escape is inward.
I've never lived anywhere outside of Los Angles, but my heart remembers a place and time where things weren't so complicated and painful. Los Angeles: the city of Angels, they say. Frankly, I've been looking for them my whole life. And it is my quest to find them here amidst the smog, superficiality, ego, false enlightenment, and illusion. I know this. It is the mission. And I have taken many blows in the process. I am weary. I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed. So how should I presume?
It is strange to grow up in a town as isolating and lonely as this one. Especially when you are one of its lost angels. I am a lost angel, living in The City of Angels, looking for the others. Sometimes I think I find them. Sometimes I recognize them, but they do not recognize me. Sometimes there are brief moments where our hearts connect. There is a clarity in their eyes, an ease and eloquence to our speech, and a unification of purpose. We have remembered. We have found each other like we said we would. But the glamour and the illusion of this city is as thick as its smog, and inevitably I see my friends slip backwards into the mists. The allure of cheap beauty, the kind that can be bought, filtered, faked, and painted, reigns supreme, and there are many times when I feel the gyre widening and can no longer hear the falconer. I live in a pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses. After all, this is where the beautiful ones fall. But I have a different perception of beauty than most. And those greek gods and goddesses? Well, most of the time, it's nothing more than a Hollywood light show.
There is a shortage of authentic beauty here. The kind that takes a lifetime to acquire. The kind that comes from the heart, from the hard-earned battle scars of the soul. And make no mistake, it is a battle. It is a war to maintain the integrity and purity of your heart in this world. Growing up here, I have literally been through hell and back again, many times over. Mostly at the hands of others. Sometimes driven through by my own sword, I have truly watched some of the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by madness. And I have also had them try to take me down with them. I have watched people become famous, burn bright and fast, and grow old in body and spirit far before their time. Because really, what they were trying to find was a way back to themselves, and all that fame got them was a heavy load of other people's projections and perceptions. So much so that they no longer knew how to differentiate themselves from the perceptions of others. I have witnessed this, been involved in it, and even succumbed to it at times myself. And I have lost many people because of it. Not so much physically, but in heart, in soul, in spirit. It is a particularly excruciating kind of pain to watch someone's soul slip away and not be able to do anything about it. My heart has been broken more times than I can count. It seems to carry an omnipresent heaviness at times, bracing itself against the certainty of the tragedy of life. And yet, I also feel hope because I can see the true authenticity of who people really are and vow to act as witness to that, to remember it and remind them, even when they do not remember themselves. It is a lot to ask for someone to hold the full expression of joy and sorrow all at once. To hold all possibilities of existence, but I am a healer. I know that.
I think what I've come to realize is that I would never trust a healer without battle scars. I would never trust a healer who has not been through hell and back. Because how could I ever trust you to help lead me out of the depths of my hell if you have never been there yourself? The thing about entering the realm of hell is that there is no guarantee you will make it out alive. Trying to find a world that makes sense, torchbearers and trailblazers burrow through the madness and take the first hit. And that first hit - the crushing realization that you are no longer in the garden of Eden - is the loss of your divinity. There is no longer a unification of perception, and people will hurt you. They will fight to the death to defend their fractured perception of the world. They will fight to the death to defend their loneliness.
How do you not become one of the lost ones? How do you maintain your heart in the depths of hell? How do you deal with the crushing blow of the loss of your divinity? If it is by dragging yourself through negro, half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels and sawdust restaurants with oyster shells at dawn looking for an angry fix, the choice is yours. It will determine how far you wander from your own heart and how much you perpetuate the suffering of others. But either way, there will be grief. There will be howling. And if you're brave enough, there will be time to wonder, "do I dare?". If we truly knew we would make it out alive, is it even a hero's journey, and are you truly the hero. You have to lose yourself to find yourself.
We cannot avoid the grief. And my poor dear souls, we try so hard. We try so hard to avoid the suffering that we forget it is part of why we came here. We forget that it turns us into diamonds. And I do not mean to glorify or glamorize suffering. In fact, I think that's one of the ways we try to avoid it. We turn it into a story about ourselves. We take on the identity of it. That is not the point. The point is, how do you find your diamond heart. How do you forgive? How do you allow yourself to see the weeping child inside every man and every woman and love them in spite of the fact that they are not ready to accept your love. How do you forgive them for not being ready to pull the dagger from their own heart.
So what do we do as angels incarnate? We wait. We feel the pain, and we allow it to take us deeper. We are forged in fire and ice. We are the ones we've been waiting for. Sometimes we know that. Sometimes we forget who we are. I think the pursuit of beauty in the city of angels is really just a pursuit of truth. And the road to truth is confusing, and people get lost along the way. They get dazzled by the false lights and synthetic stars that they forget to look up. And there may come a time where I forget as well, where I forget my divinity again. Where the mists that I've seen cloud the eyes of so many of my lost brothers and sisters cloud my own, and I can only hope that the light I've helped to spread in my moments of lucidity will lead me back to myself. Because that is the real truth to all of this, we don't do this alone. The angels are all around us.
About the Author
Kimberly May is a Celtic Shaman, Runecaster, Herbalist and Astrological Apprentice, born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has studied spiritual and esoteric pursuits for the majority of her life. She is currently in three apprenticeships in pursuit of her spiritual work: a two-year Herbalism program with the School of the Sacred Wild, a four-year program with the Stephen Forrest School of Evolutionary Astrology, and a two-year shamanic studies program with The Northern Gateway.
You can connect with Kimberly via Instagram: @artemisias.arrows