artifacts, inscriptions & unearthings

Autumnal Incongruence

The autumnal equinox passed, and still the brutal ninety-degree plus temperatures, which started in May, had not relented. Even at night it didn’t cool down; the air was weighted with almost enough moisture to rain. The weariness of this oppression could be seen in the faces of nearly everyone. The harvest from my garden through the summer was meager as the plants exhausted themselves struggling just to stay alive.

Still, in the midst of the heat, the rhythm of things shifted ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly, and my subconscious mind sensed the subtle messages that it was autumn. Tiny glimpses of color, mostly in a warm palette, began to peak through. The sun traveled to its proper place in the sky for this time of year, bringing nearly equal days and nights. Crickets began their mating calls in the simmering air, whose sound was normally a herald of the cooler weather. The hummingbirds showed themselves less and less as their internal clock began to call them to their winter homes.

160926stilllifewithtowel1000What my body experienced and what my mind sensed were complete opposites. The incongruence left me feeling off center, as my mind tried to reconcile the conflicting messages about what time of year it was. But, no amount of wanting could break the oppressive heat and bring the cool crispness of fall. The world and I could not escape the gripe of summer.

Then, the day after the equilux, the cool air came, blowing in from the north with a light misty rain. From one day to the next, the temperature plunged a full thirty degrees, bringing relief at last. It was as if everything suddenly came back into focus.

It occurred to me that life is often like that. While normally life flows from one season to the next, sometimes we feel stuck. We can’t seem to move forward, or shake off the indefinable feeling weighing us down. It is often accompanied by that vague feeling of disharmony that we can’t quite put our finger on. If we pay attention though, and listen with our souls, we will perceive the quiet signs; the next season is coming.

Perhaps the very incongruence that makes us feel so uncomfortable is something to be embraced, because it is actually a clear sign that change is happening. That feeling of disharmony can help us remember that the seasons are unstoppable. Each season will eventually come to its end, and will lead into the next.

Instead of wrestling with the tension we feel, we can stop and reflect on what the mixed messages are. We can try to put words (or other creative endeavors) to those perceptions. We can ponder on what the seasons are that we are caught in between. We can dig down deep and get to the roots of what we are sensing.

Then, if we discover any revelations in that process, we can understand a bit of the mystery of where we are. We can find a place of rest in those situations that we don’t have any control over, which is most often the case. For other situations, we may come to see where we might even need to take action – action that may be either passive or dynamic. Some situations may call for patience and acceptance, while other situations may call for us to go into battle. (Most will land somewhere in the middle.)

On the other hand, even if we pause and try to consider where we are, we may still not be able to make any sense of what we perceive. Maybe we can only see the dichotomy. In that case, we can still hang on to the truths that we do know. That the earth will still keep traveling around the sun. That the seasons will always eventually change. That this feeling of incongruence actually means that things are changing, things are moving forward.

Wherever you are, remember that things will truly align again. The cool air will replace the heat. The leaves will reveal the color underneath their verdant mask. The earth will sigh and begin preparing itself for the rest that comes with winter. Autumn will come, and with it a whole new season.

© 2016 Joni McKeown (ARCHÉOLOGIE)

Read More ...


The beautiful melancholy of the rain.

Washing away the soil

left on the feet

of the world.

The gray blanket of clouds

wrapping the earth

and its wanderers with life.


The sun made even

sweeter by its presence.



Poem © 2013 Joni McKeown
Photo © 2016 Joni McKeown

Read More ...

Can You Put the Air Back in My Lungs Again?

Breathing, of course, is the process of taking air into our lungs and then expelling it, and none of us can survive more than mere minutes without doing it. It is the most basic of all needs, and something we normally do without giving it much thought.

Historically in cultures around the world the words for breath and spirit were the same, and those concepts were often found intertwined together. Ruach in ancient Hebrew meant: spirit, wind, and breath. Pneuma in ancient Greek meant: breath or spirit. Pneuma also came to also represent many other aspects, such as sensation and thought.[1] The Greek Stoics thought that it was what sustained consciousness, and saw the soul as a hot, fiery breath.[2] Breathing is truly the thing that animates us, the thing that gives us a spirit, and that infuses us with life.

But what if we don’t breath well? What if the automatic rhythm of our breathing isn’t working?

Most of my life I gave it little thought. Here and there were little clues, though, that perhaps my most basic need was not being met. I have always needed more sleep than most people, even as an infant. Fatigue had been a lifelong companion, but because of my driven personality I tended to push myself through it. I managed through most of my life this way, but eventually my health started to unravel, and pushing through the fatigue became more and more difficult. Finally the truth was discovered. Every three or four minutes throughout the night, I stopped breathing.[3] Not only was I not replenishing my body through deep sleep, but also every cell in my body was oxygen deprived. And as I became more aware of my breathing, I even discovered that I sometimes stopped breathing when I am reading or concentrating on something.

© 2013 Mandy Steward (used by permission)My options were not ones I would have chosen for myself: I could attach myself to a machine every night (to keep me breathing), or continue as I was and possibly risk serious cardiac issues that could lead to an early death. Even though my maternal heritage was one of incredibly strong women, three generations of them back likely had the same issue, and had died very young, so I chose the first. Life tethered to a machine goes against everything in my free-spirited soul, especially knowing that it will be lifelong connection. I often feel trapped and isolated by this intrusion into such an intimate space in my life. Yet I choose life, and so must find ways to make peace with my reality.

This private journey into a foreign universe has caused me to reflect on breathing, and its relationship to our spirit. What if our spirits are that way? What if we forget to breathe? What if we aren’t nurturing that part of our being; that sacred part of us?

Sometimes we feel the spirit-fatigue in our lives. It is that soul-weary feeling we occasionally get. It creeps in ever so slowly, and we might not even notice it for a long time. Eventually though, we will find ourselves sitting in a pile, unable to continue on. We might find ourselves frustrated that we can’t push on, but the inability to do so is actually a blessing, because if we could continue to press on, it might even result in our demise. What if instead of pushing on, we would ask ourselves the questions, “What am I missing? What vital need do I have that could breathe life into me?”

In the physical realm, we may be able to look around and identify that we ended up exhausted, because we just weren’t making enough time for proper rest. Or maybe, like me, there is the discovery that something is wrong that we cannot change.

In our emotional and spiritual lives that feeling of “something wrong”, may be a result of us not getting what we need. Maybe it is just that we gradually forgot to take time to nurture that part of our lives. Or maybe it is more complicated, and it is something that we cannot change. Maybe we need something to put the air back in our lungs [4]. That will look different for each individual. For you it might be space, it might be time, it might be a career change, or it might be getting help from others to even discover what you need (which could be a community of supportive people[5] or professional help).

As time goes by and I am slowly recovering from the sleep and oxygen deprivation that I have suffered for so long, I find that I am more wide-awake, and have a greater sense of wellbeing, as my body and brain get back in balance. I am getting what I need. That has not come without a cost, but the air is back in my lungs again. And I am slowly finding my hot fiery breath again. And that makes it all worth it.

© 2016 Joni McKeown (ARCHÉOLOGIE)


[1] Stead, Christopher. ‘Pneuma’. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy 1998: Accessed (October 08, 2016). . doi:10.4324/9780415249126-A092-1
[2] Scott Rubarth , ‘Stoic Philosophy of Mind’. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Accessed (October 08, 2016)
[3] I was diagnosed with sleep apnea.
[4] I purchased this artwork at the beginning of this journey. – Quote and artwork © 2013 Mandy Steward (used by permission)
[5] For some inspiration and support you might want to check out the course: Dear Artist.

Read More ...