Speaking of death.
Every January since my mother died, there comes a day when I remember: “It is January and this is Vancouver, which means the flowers will start blooming at any moment.” The snowdrop is usually the first one I see, spilling suddenly over the edges of gardens onto sidewalks, their white heads hanging like disconsolate handmaids.
Galanthus nivalis is an ancient cultivar famously prescribed by Hermes to Odysseus to block the effects of Circe’s sorcery on him and his men during their year-long layover on Aeaea. Today, it is used by naturopaths to treat mild to moderate symptoms of Alzheimer’s, a disease that struck my mother very early, at the age of fifty-eight. And very recent studies show that a derivative of the snowdrop can increase the frequency of lucid dreaming. This little plant gives so much hope to those trying to control and manipulate their minds.
Last night, a student talked to me about her lucid dreaming, and how it always scares her, despite knowing she was asleep, which had no effect on the tall man standing in the dark corner of her bedroom. An art project she made had helped her explore the lucid dream from the safety of awakeness and light. Her project was inspired in part by Lee Bontecou’s sculptures, which my student sees as portals that one can choose to enter, on their own accord, to experience another realm.