Digital Cleanse by Kelly McGannon

Sometimes, modern life feels dried out and far away from what nourishes. In our chase to connect, we climb ladders that promise better tomorrows and disconnect from what feels good under our feet. We forget the myths and their subtle warnings.

Rung over rung, we push into the ethers, no longer worrying if this wobbly, narrow structure is going to support us. We want to live where the gods live. Stretching skyward, we squint and see Icarus and those sexy wings. He looks so damn glorious up there, waxed and shiny in the warmth of a thousand suns.

Maybe, just maybe, with enough bandwidth and digital dust, we can have that mega-watt star quality too. Without thinking, we gamble away our bones to become birds in some researcher’s experiment. We follow the Piper’s music and forget to look behind, through the shadows, and into the dark, for what’s hunting us—that quiet band of researchers forever tagging and tracking our movements, hoping to sell us one more hit of Olympic ambrosia.

The tweets and chimes up here are confusing breadcrumbs. They never point to true north but keep sending us back into the maze where the Minotaur roars his hungry approval.

As we wheel around and around the menagerie, we can’t help but wonder, “What are we doing?” and “Maybe it’ll be different this next time around” as we take one more pass.

But, these are Lotus-Eaters’ dreams. They steal away our minds and are dangerous. Hermes brushes by on his golden-footed slippers and shakes us awake, “You can only live off of ethers for so long, mortal. Go home.”

He’s right. When we come to, our first thought is of home. We start to climb down out of this Pavlovian nightmare, back toward terra firma and those sweet spaces where you can wear your soul skin and it’s enough.

I know such a place. I suspect you do too. It doesn’t live in a computer, tablet, phone, or watch. In my place, there are no walls, no stale air, no LED lighting. There’s no clock either. The only sign that time is passing is the way the shadows lengthen and contract around my sundial body, wheeling around me as I whirl around the sun.

In this earthy place, everything is in rhythm with itself, and you fall into rhythm with it. Look! The sun dances over an east-moving river, bright glints leaping up like fish. A crow barks one short “caw” in the distance only to hear one sent back over the valley.

The north wind, with its promise of snow, crackles behind itself, snapping like the winter hag’s cloak. The Cailleach Bheur, that ol’ Winter Crone Queen, pulls us into her cape as we descend. She knows where we’ve been and knows what we’ve seen. In her ageless age, she knows just what to do.

She lies us down on earthen beds and tucks a silken weave of flaxen gold, russet, grey beard, and pine around us. This is earthing—the best medicine for aerial tours. She knows that the land will draw out our mad fevers and bring us back to ourselves. With our ears in the dirt, we pick up the drumming of the earth’s heart, and the fire that sits in our heart’s hearth entrains to it. Music bursts forth out of the caves of our mouths. We begin to hum an old Appalachian spiritual, “Home, I’m going home, back to the land that heals my soul. Take me home, take me home, over the green, green hills. I’m far away.”

Statue at man at top of ladder
Untitled by Kelly McGannon.

And, just before our eyes rest in deep slumber, we can almost make out the Cailleach’s thick blue body, one-eye wide and fierce, spiriting more of us home with her hammer, knocking more of us down to the ground, like stars.


Kelly McGannon
Kelly McGannon is a writer and transformational coach living in the Washington D.C. metro area. A graduate of Yale and Princeton Universities, her work has appeared in DreamTime, Outside In Literary and Travel, Braided Way, So To Speak, Teach.Yoga, and the anthology Dreams That Change Our Lives. Kelly is completing a Jungian Studies Reading Seminar certificate through the Jung Society of Washington (JSW) and has led interactive workshops on the power of myth and storytelling on the East Coast.

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