The Art of Shapeshifting

We wonder how we will ever get through. We don’t know if we will but we believe.  We don’t always know what we believe in but we have faith anyway, maybe in life.  Maybe in the great carrying on of it all.

The survival instinct that drives such great feats. The birth of fire.  The catching of water.  Harnessing the air, and cultivating earth.  Building worlds in the wake of vanishing lands. 

Pulling up life force from the underworld even though everyone says it is the land of the dead.  Maybe it is, but we understand each other, the dead and I.  The homes one can make in a half-life. 

So the dead gave me a special thread from the Fates, themselves, to lend me strength to walk through the trial by fire, and the judgement by drowning. 

A witch won’t sink if she holds her breath, but she will surely fall if you throw enough stones to find her bones.

And maybe it is they who live in the ground, silenced so long they forgot how to make a sound.  So they learned a new way to sing, quiet through the aethers and in the land of dreams. 

And maybe this is the magick of sleep.  Gathering colors and scenes from my sisters in the soil.  To paint my pathways forward, adorned and ordained by the sacrifices they made.

Maybe I don’t know how to survive, but I know how make beauty in my liminal skin, sinking into twilight and shadows.  The things that scare the living shaking in their shoes because they are afraid to die. 

Because they believed the lie that anything ever ends, while I was making friends with ghosts who know a thing or two about existing in a different form from the offspring of the sun. 

For this is the art of shapeshifting: to adapt and evolve to the nature of a place, or a heart, or a soul.  

And when I dissolve to return to the whole, I’ll leave my blood on the stones thrown and a vial of ash from the burnings.  

A bowl of water from my lungs when I had to breathe instead of float.  And the dirt from the skin I left behind when I found my wings again and took to the sky. 

Copyright © 2021, S. Naify

Art: Shapeshifting by Sherri Bustad.

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