Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Loved this! I haven't seen anyone carrying anything on their head since I was in India. Well done, I thought when I saw her. Just then the pack of paper towels fell, which is why she's reaching up, to catch it.
Life as a human being is so complicated! Well, at least it is for me. I could take this post in so many directions ... but today what I'm thinking about is that there is no such thing as a hard re-start for the heart.
Life itself is full of hard re-starts. People die, move away, change jobs, end relationships. Jake died one year ago today. Even though he was ready to go, it was still inconceivable to me that he could be here one minute, then completely gone the next, never to return.
I had a client who suffered terribly from cancer for four years. I was at her house for a quick visit, surrounded by her family and dear ones, when she died. As anyone who has witnessed this kind of death can tell you, it is such a relief when the person suffering passes away. And yet, the event is emotionally inconceivable.
About twenty minutes before she died, my client turned to face me and said, "They all know you, Reya." I thought it was an interesting comment. I wondered what she was tuning in to. I thought to myself, I'll ask her about that in a little while. No one knew she was about to die. We knew it was close, but not that close! I was talking quietly with her sister a few minutes later when the room cooled suddenly, and got very quiet. I'll never know what she was trying to tell me. Even now, years later, I feel confused by that experience.
After bad breakups and following the deaths of (for instance) my parents and sister, also when I left San Francisco, my strategy for dealing with these hard re-starts was to take a big ole psychic broadsword and slice through my heart connections all at once. SWACK. I figured it would really hurt to yank the plug, as it were, but in my mind, at least, a sudden and complete break seemed like it would be easier than surrendering to long-term grieving.
Of course all attempts to break free by brutal whacking only made me feel worse. What was I thinking? Heart connections do not consist of just one big, solid cord, nope. A heart connection is all about millions and millions of little threads. Like fiber optics, the threads of love are strong but very fine. They can't be cut. At least mine can't.
Last year when Jake died, I gave myself permission to get deep into the grief. I was a serious wreck for several months, then a less serious wreck for awhile. Today, a year after his passing, I'm OK. I'm done with it. Not that I'll ever forget my dear, beautiful, psychotic on occasion, fearful, sweet, powerful Vietnam vet of a dog, oh no. But my heart has healed from that terrible day. It really has! All I had to do was dive deep into my feelings, and trust that my heart knew what it was doing. And so it does! Wow.
My human heart is not capable of hard re-starts, but it is so resilient, given time and compassion - and acceptance. I am in awe.
From the window of the Chesapeake Room on 8th Street SE.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I haven't moved house in a long time, so I forgot about the chaos that attends the final days before everything gets transferred to the new space. I forgot about cardboard boxes and packing tape, piles of things everywhere. It's all part of the unwinding of the life I've lived for nine-plus years.
Yesterday I was thinking about how even galaxies unwind as they evolve. In my mind's eye, I imagined the arms of the Andromeda galaxy spiraling away from its galactic center. Unwinding isn't just about spin, it isn't just about expansion. If that were true, then galaxies would look more like star clusters, the energy of the expansion would be more like an explosion than a spiral dance. Gravity, the most mysterious of the fundamental forces, reminds the expanding stars where they came from. In fact it occured to me that if unwinding is going to be graceful, it requires memory. Centrifugal and centripetal force are as much about gravity pulling inwards as what is spinning and expanding outwards.
Yeah, I know. I was waxing philosophical, a nice euphemism for my brain going off the deep end. Overthinking is a coping technique for times when I am emotionally overwhelmed. You know in the cartoons when one of the characters has been whacked upside the head and there are stars, exclamation points, bells and chirping birds flying around? That's what my head looks like these days. My goodness I can get so way out there.
Just as I was "philosophizing," I looked at the sky and saw the scene above - an "arm" of cloud unwinding from a central core of thicker cloud, or so it seemed to me.
Though it's impossible to superimpose a spiral shape on the total chaos in my room at the moment, I've decided to imagine that at least the energy of graceful unwinding is a part of the process of getting ready to move. This kind of crazy thinking helps me cope with the mess. Whatever it takes, yes? I say yes.
Monday, June 28, 2010
The bicycle pictures are not exactly relevant to the content of the post, but I like them.
My great San Francisco era doctor, Elliott Blackman, was the voice of common sense. When I would drag my sorry ass into his office, feeling lower than a snake's belly (as my friend Lisa used to say), he always asked straightaway, "Have you been eating well and getting enough sleep?"
I was in my early thirties at the time, quite bohemian, a par-tay kind of gal. When my answer to his question was NO, he always shook his head and gave me a look that seemed to say, Well, then, what do you want ME to do??
Since that time, I have been shown, over and over again, just how important simple things like adequate sleep are. In fact, getting enough sleep is a huge component of my Plan to Stay Sane. The fact that I hardly slept over the weekend, and have not had many good nights of sleep in the past couple of weeks, has contributed in a big way to the roller coaster mood swings and bouts of near-insanity. I can't blame everything on the moon, can I?
Last night I got a solid nine hours of deep, restful sleep. I am feeling so much more balanced this morning. Plush is the right word, as if the myelin sheaths surrounding my nerves plumped up overnight. Getting good sleep provides a healthy insulation from all the annoyances of a life fully lived on this beautiful planet.
Here's a gorgeous moon poem that my blog brother Steven left in the comments section of yesterday's post. Steven knows better than anyone how crucial beauty is. His blog is always a work of art, and I learn from him every day. Thank you, Steven. I say that all the time, but let me say it again: Thank you!
drinking alone with the moon
from a pot of wine among the flowers
i drank alone. there was no one with me --
till, raising my cup, i asked the bright moon
to bring me my shadow and make us three.
alas, the moon was unable to drink
and my shadow tagged me vacantly;
but still for a while i had these friends
to cheer me through the end of spring....
i sang. the moon encouraged me.
I danced. My shadow tumbled after.
as long as I knew, we were boon companions.
and then i was drunk, and we lost one another.
...shall goodwill ever be secure?
i watch the long road of the river of stars.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
They were playing the blues. Love those pork pie hats.
All the planetary, stellar energy has been so interesting, and so very very intense. Whew. The big ole eclipse is now over and done with. Dealing with the resonance of that big event is no small task, but the main event is over. Onwards and upwards. Don't know about you, but I have a lunar hangover. That's the thing about the moon - she'll get you drunk as a skunk; the next thing you know, you need a serious dose of Lunar Strength Advil - except - there is no such thing.
Coming back to earth after a big whoop like this weekend is always such a relief. I know many grounding techniques, thank goodness. One of my favorite methods involves reconnecting with my people. By "my" people I mean friends and family of course, but it's also fabulously grounding to meet and greet the folks with whom I share the "small town" of Capitol Hill. The Hill is smack dab in the center of Washington DC, but nevertheless it is a small town where everyone knows everyone else. It is, without a doubt, the friendliest neighborhood I have ever lived in.
That's why, in spite of the blistering heat of yesterday, I made myself walk down to Eastern Market. On Saturdays and Sundays it's a busy place. Seventh street fills up with vendors selling arts and produce, flowers, jewelry, pottery. On the weekends, Eastern Market is a farmer's market and flea market, a gathering place not only for the citizens of the Hill, but for people from all over the city, Maryland and Virginia. Even after all these years on the Hill, I love strolling through, looking at all the people.
I wasn't the only one in a mood to be out and about. The market was packed as you can tell from these pictures. I ran into at least a dozen neighbors, stopped to exchange small talk, had an iced coffee with someone I haven't seen for awhile. Chatting with all these lovely people was just what I needed to get my feet back on terra firma. Oh yeah.
Today I will again engage in relational behavior since my work schedule is full. I love the planets and I do dearly love the stars and all their shenanigans, believe me, I do. But when it's time to come back to earth, nothing is as encouraging and helpful as connecting with people. I love my fellow human beings so much. Shalom.
I wish you could see in this picture how HUGE Major is (the dog). Wow.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I tried to photograph the moon last night, but did not succeed. The daytime sky was gorgeous yesterday, textured with traces of angel wings. Beautiful, yes?
I only did it once, officially at least. You see, I never used to be able to appreciate the full moon. Perhaps because I was born at the dark moon, or maybe just because I'm (as my mother used to say) "too sensitive," the energy of the full moon gets to me. It feels buzzy and crazy, like listening to two radio stations at the same time. Or at least it used to.
We were at witch camp in the mountains of W. Virginia. The teaching team was planning the week's evening rituals. When I suggested that I opt out of the full moon ritual, one of the other teachers said, "Reya, all witches draw down the moon. For some witches, that's all they EVER do." It's true. One of the classic books about modern witchcraft, written by NPR reporter and witch Margot Adler, is named Drawing Down the Moon. But in Reclaiming we were so solar-oriented. I was an initiate and a teacher, but had never formed a relationship with the moon.
My co teachers promised to stick with me through the experience. The ritual itself was conceptually so beautiful. The one hundred campers and eight teachers stood in concentric circles, the tallest on the outside edges, the shortest close to the center. I was dead center. The idea was that I would call down the moon. The participants were to begin toning at the center of the "bowl" of people when they felt the energy arriving. As moonlight filled the bowl, the toning would swirl and circle outwards from the center until the bowl "overflowed" with moonlight. At the peak of the ritual, all of us would be toning together. Very cool ritual plan, eh? Reclaiming rituals were such artful pieces of spiritual theater.
I had planned an invocation very carefully, even written it down so I could deliver it properly, but in the moment when it was time for me to draw her down, something took over and I just started howling LUNA LUNA LUNA. I think I also shouted "Come down, come in, come down" ... just phrases, nothing eloquent came out of my mouth, believe me. I was like Marlon Brando yelling STELLA in that famous scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. I don't remember the sound of people toning or anything else about the ritual, actually. What I do remember is that the moon looked so big, really huge. I could see every crater, I could see the ridges on the edges of moon's horizons. My eyes were wide open and I was drinking in that view. It was like looking through a telescope.
The next thing I knew, I was being nudged to devoke. One of my co-teachers was on the ground holding my feet, an indication that I had really done it. She was holding me down so I didn't fly off into space, apparently, or so she told me later on. I said my proper goodbyes, but I was bluffing, the way you bluff when you come home stoned and have to talk to your parents, pretending to be sober.
I didn't sleep that night; I kept getting up, walking outside the cabin to look for her, see where she was in the sky. Oh man. That was such a crazy night.
Since then, needless to say, I have built a relationship with the moon. Some full moons are mild and have no effect on me anymore. Some moons ... well ... Last night's moon, for instance, got way under my skin. I truly understand the werewolf myth. I felt like getting crazy, but I behaved. My relationship with the moon is contentious, yes, but I am a grown up and can resist the urge to rip off my clothes and run through the streets howling like a lunatic. At least I did last night. Drank some wine with my housemates and went to bed. Had the weirdest dreams in the world, not the dreams I expected, of course.
The full moon has turned, the eclipse is done and now it's onwards and upwards. The task at hand now is to surf the crazy waves of resonance from yesterday's big event. Shalom.
Friday, June 25, 2010
St. Marks Church, and God.
My first great astrology teacher taught me that the idea behind the art is not, as many people will assert, that the planets are DOING things to us. The planets do not have personalities or motivations like ours, nope. What she always said is that we are "cyclical beings, living in a cyclical universe." We are related to the planets and stars, in other words. In relationship, there is impact. Yeah. I love that.
I think of astrology as a poetry of physics. It addresses the fundamental forces of gravity and electro-magnetism within our solar family of rocky terrestrials, gas giants, and ice giants, as well as the way our solar family interacts with all the other solar families out there. We are a part of this family, you and I. The electro-magnetic field of Brother Sun extends far beyond Pluto, so believe you me, you are living within that field and affected by it every second of every day. When the moon is full (as well as at the dark moon), our earth's oceanic tides are strongly affected. When the sun and moon line up, gravity literally pulls the oceans away from the seabed with much more than the usual intensity. You are 98% water. Yes, I mean YOU. Do you really think gravity isn't tugging on you? C'mon. We astrologers struggle to find a language for the impact of that tugging, for the impact of electro-magnetism, for the feng shui that accompanies the positions of all these huge bodies.
Tomorrow is a doozie of a day astrologically. Expect a lot of light shining into every dark corner of your mind, body, and being. Expect tugs and pulls. You might feel cranky, or energized, or completely overwhelmed or maybe you'll develop what I call the numb forehead, a condition that sometimes accompanies an overloaded, overcharged event. Maybe you'll be oblivious. Who knows?
My strategy for tomorrow is to take it easy, play it cool. I'm juicing up my sense of humor, focusing on beauty, balance and delight. Hoping to see with clear eyes and an open heart, and to embody all the emotional willingness I've been able to muster during the last two weeks.
Once upon a time I would have either wanted to duck and cover, or come out swinging, as if there's any point in fighting the fundamental forces. For heaven's sake. My plan for tomorrow is to dance with the energy, but lightly. Light as a feather. That's my plan. Shalom.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I had a friend once upon a time whose name was Chris Bliss. It's neither here nor there, but really, what a name. Yes? I say yes.
Her pretty face came to mind this morning because I've been thinking about bliss, that indescribable feeling of perfect satisfaction, happiness, joy. How ironic, or maybe it's just another example of the paradoxical nature of "reality" that here in the middle of this dramatic time in my life, rife with sturm und drang, I am choosing tarot cards and runes (part of my daily practice) that are often associated with bliss. The ace of cups, for instance, has showed up several times this week. It is a card that conveys a pure and open heart, and the emotional willingness that accompanies that condition. Do you know what I mean by "emotional willingness?" I never understood until recently. I'm starting to get it. It's a big deal.
The rune I've pulled more than once during the last two or three days is wunjo. It looks like an angular P and is associated with joy, perfection, glory and bliss.
The practice I'm engaged in right now, holding love very gently in my heart without grasping or pushing it away, might be creating a space into which bliss can flow. Maybe THAT's why I'm working so hard. You think? Or maybe I've just totally lost my mind. Or something else, who knows?
When I ask my spirit guides what it means to choose such lovely oracles in the midst of hellish heat and humidity, while trying to manage unbelievably intense emotions, they pat me on the head and suggest that I keep working on the purging and packing of my stuff in preparation for my move. They keep telling me not to worry. Instead of all this consternation, they tell me, why not make a fresh fruit crisp? Indeed. Why not?? All the consternation in the world will not help me understand this moment. I have such great spirit guides.
I love to cook, and I have to say, I've been masterful in the kitchen of late. The cooking and my excitement about the upcoming move are so refreshing, like oases in the desert of my recent emotional exertions, like the dot of yang in the center of yin, the dot of yin at the center of yang. There's some kind of profound truth here, isn't there? Yep.
This is not a high quality video but oh my, they were so cute then. Even Keith Richards was such a puppy. Very sweet.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
A few years ago I read The Secret Life of Dust. That was during the time when a lot of single topic books were being published. There was one about salt, one about water, one about cod. I even think there was one about dead bodies. How weird is that?
I don't recommend The Secret Life of Dust. Finding out what it's actually composed of? Ewwww.
Metaphorically, though, dust is powerful stuff. It holds history; it is a collection of everything that once was, rendered finally into the tiny particles that drift lazily through beams of sunlight, or cling to every surface, that gather into what my father called "cobwebs." Under furniture, dust shape-shifts into bunnies. Wow. Dust is truly magical. It's no wonder so many authors have used the idea of dust, and the word DUST, in their book titles.
I have one client who has in-law problems. When they come for a visit, she'll book an appointment for the day they arrive, and another on the day after they leave. She takes such good care of herself. I always marvel at how "dusty" she feels after the in-laws leave town. She always seems coated with a thick layer of familial dust; the history of her husband's family settles into every nook and cranny of her being. That second appointment is always about clearing the dust. Swiffering, you know? I am polishing more than anything else in those sessions.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In three weeks I'll be out of the house on Tennessee Avenue. Preparation for the move requires frequent and serious encounters with dust. I mean literally, figuratively, metaphorically, mythically. Oh yeah. Memories and emotions associated with my tenure in this house are swirling through and around my head and heart. So many memories. So many emotions. Whew.
No wonder I'm taking so many showers these days! I am washing away the dust, cleaning my physical, ethereal, spiritual and emotional body. I am unwinding the life I have lived these past nine years. I am letting go.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I'm so grateful for Astrobarry, Astrology for People Who Think for explaining my ongoing bout of total, unmitigated, off the charts, effin', soul stretchin', mind bendin' drama. THANK YOU, Barry. If you wonder why I'm so nuts right now, click the link. He says it all.
I know I don't have to move through this alone. Operators are standing by. Indeed I've been calling on all my spirit guides, animal guides, God, angels, the ancestors and so on, to please guide and help me. Friends have kept me busy drinking and feasting. I have such great friends!
There's no such thing as backing out of all this, oh no. The tunnel has collapsed behind us so there is no choice except to move forwards. My goal is to stand tall with my shoulders back, to begin every day with a positive attitude, to keep listening and keep learning. This period of time is definitely not all "bad," I should say. It's a time of reinvention, personally and collectively. I have experienced so many ah-ha! moments, something I appreciate even when the process of attaining these revelations is difficult or strenuous.
When not in a state of total consternation, I've been having a good time looking through old journals (as I pack and throw out old stuff in preparation for the move). I'm not reading every one of my old journals, oh no. But for fun I decided to look at summer solstice in some of the books, see what I was writing about. Here are a few of my favorite solstice entries:
June 21, 1977: "A small quarrel with Miles was blown out of proportion. I should never argue while detoxifying from an acid trip."
Haha!! I should say so!!
June 21, 1980: "Watching Cosmos and feeling like a puny human."
June 21, 1983: "High on my last line of coke, I found myself downtown."
No wonder I barely remember that period of time. Whoa.
June 21, 1990: "In my dream I had decided to move east of the Mississippi, to a humid landscape. In the dream I am happy with this decision. Wake up and wonder what the fuck that was all about. I'll never leave San Francisco."
June 21, 1992: "Solstice at the beach was great. I never mean to take off my clothes and jump in the ocean, but in the moment, it always feels like the perfect thing to do. I have lost all self consciousness. What a good thing."
June 21, 1996: "I do create for myself intense situations of transformation."
June 21, 2001: "What is the measure of life's satisfactions?
- Juiciness, all are fed
- Salt and honey
- Remembering that we join a party already in progress
- Rattling the bones!
- Hand holding"
June 21, 2010: "Epic love stories call for qualities I've wished to develop; a capacity to gently hold the deepest ache of love while neither grasping nor pushing it away. The practice builds character. I GUESS. Fuck that! ... I guess I should be rattling instead of writing."
We live in interesting times, y'all. Shalom.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Brother Sun has set and the sky is growing dark. Ahhh ... summer solstice, falling this year at the end of the longest week I have ever experienced, is finally OVER and done with. Snap.
Time heals all wounds. Maybe. What can't be healed by time can be at least lessened via the shaman's rattle. Vicki Noble, one of the most powerful (among many) teachers I've studied with, always said: when life gets you down, rattle. She is an amazing shaman; I took what she said seriously when I studied with her, and still remember much of what she taught me, even though it was so long ago.
So after days of winge-ing, whining, throwing myself down on my couch in tears (an arm thrown over my eyes ... just like in the movies), today I fished one of my small rattles out of a dusty box and .. well .. I rattled. I rattled my clients' energy fields, I rattled my own energy field. I rattled and danced around like a maniac between clients, shaking loose all the little knots and clumps of old patterns I would really like to leave behind once and for all.
No I didn't actually listen to Frankie Goes to Hollywood even though pop music from the eighties is so darn cute. But I'm feeling more relaxed anyway.
Thanks, Vicki, thanks Brother Sun. Thanks, Frankie. This week is over and I am grateful. Happy Solstice, y'all. Shalom.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
My friend Della looked at me carefully, sized up my energy. Then she said, "Reya, put on a hat and your sunglasses until after solstice." Sage advice, oh yeah. I am completely overwhelmed at the moment by all this energy, exhausted by the light, by the changes and loss and heartbreak. I want to sleep because I want to dream. I slept a little bit last night; had strange dreams. More renovations are taking place here in the house on Tennessee Avenue. Next door they are drilling, hammering, pounding. I hear heavy things crash to the floor over there as I pull piles of dusty old boxes out of my cubbyholes. Chaos is all around me. I surrender!!
Forty-eight more hours to solstice. I am hunkering down, working a lot, going to the movies tonight. I have a plan, a map to take me from here to solstice. After that I'll draw up a new schematic.
What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, isn't that right? This has been the longest week of my life. Holy cow.
I'm searching everywhere for my famous sense of humor. Maybe it, too, is hiding from the light. My spirit guides say I can do this, I can walk through the next two days. Of course they're right, right? Right.
Friday, June 18, 2010
In the lexicon of the tarot, the mind is like a sword. I like it. The mind should be bright, and sharp. We use these adjectives all the time to describe smart people. Used in a balanced way, the mind analyzes the world by cutting all incoming sensory data into lovely, bite-sized chunks, enabling us to look at the components of "reality" one by one.
Unfortunately, when overused, the mind will end up stabbing itself into pieces so small that no sense can be made from them. You know that situation in which your mind keeps going over the same material again and again? Yep. I don't know anyone who hasn't thought themselves into a bad headache at one time or another. Well maybe there are those who don't overthink. I should speak for myself: I've done it a million times. For visuals of this phenomena, google "8 of swords," "9 of swords," and especially "10 of swords," then click on images. Ouch.
The warning signs of mental overkill (for me at least) include anytime I begin a thought with one of the following phrases, "I ALWAYS ..." or "I NEVER ..." or "When will I EVER learn to ..." Self-blame and self-pity are sure-fire signs that I need to get out of my head and into my heart.
I've been up in my head a lot this week, trying to figure out the incomprehensible, also trying as hard as I could to avoid my heart space. Yesterday I spent a lot of time with people who love me dearly. By the end of the day I was able to bring my attention into my heart, a space in which I don't have to be rational or judgmental of myself or others. In the heart, nothing has to make sense, a good thing because really, life is mostly a mystery. I can hold that when I'm in my heart space, but my head? My head punishes me for what I will never understand. Whew!
Today is a work day - always a good thing because at work, I think about my clients rather than about myself. It is such a relief!
What a week! I can not ever remember a week that lasted so long. Oh well, it's almost over. Solstice is ALMOST here ... slog slog. Onwards and upwards.
Maybe even my camera was enchanted by the number of lightning bugs rising in Lincoln Park last night. I know I was. My assumption - that even a piece of machinery could be entranced - comes from the fact that the lens refused to focus on the fireflies - or anything really. Try to think of this unfocused film as artful rather an just badly done, please? OK? OK.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The Francis Scott Key bridge and my dear friend the Potomac River. Oh. And a kayaker.
I am standing on high ground, on a cliff close to the house where I live in dreams. I watch in horror as a tsunami sweeps over the landscape. All the lights go out and I am standing in total darkness. After that I'm in the house, trying to clean up after the flood. There's detritus everywhere, as well as the lackadaisical anonymous dream people who are (as always in my dreams) just sitting around, oblivious. There are also dogs, all of whom need walking. None of the dream people are the least bit concerned. I get mad, real mad. I open all the windows and start tossing things and people out. Wake up with my jaw clenched hard.
After that dream I was ready to launch into my shamanic dance of dispersal, the first step of soul retrieval, that is, until my spirit guides explained it is too soon for me to begin a massive campaign of healing. Some wounds must bleed for awhile, they tell me. Hmmm. When they know I'm hurting, they often pat me on the head, or so it seems. I really wish I listened more carefully to their advice. So, OK, I'll "bleed" for awhile. Bleed and clean out closets and cubbyholes, listen to music, cry some more. They have never steered me wrong. I think this time I will take their advice to heart. Why not?
It is true that pushing anything away too fast can create the boomerang effect in which whatever I was so eager to get rid of comes back to slap me around. Also true is that there's still another month before I move, so I will be living with stacks of things all around me for the next few weeks. There is no point in throwing them out the windows, eh? The anniversary of Jake's death is the 30th and though I would love to pre-grieve, you know, get it over with, apparently this is not possible.
Hanging out with great sadness, (as opposed to pushing it away) is an act of devotion. Enduring sadness with grace and compassion is almost what the sufi acupuncturist would call "saintly." Pema Chodron has taught me that the best approach to difficult emotions is to "soften" around them, rather than clamp down, get mad, or try to throw them out the window.
OK, OK. I see the path of devotion unfolding before me, and with respect for the big themes of loss and change I'm embodying, I will put one foot in front of the other. I'm no saint, oh no. God. No way. But I will try.
This is my friend Renee, "listening," in the center of the labyrinth at Georgetown Waterfront Park.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Final Verse from Chapter 38 of the Tao te Ching
So the sage only looks at what is really real
He doesn't just look at the surface
He blows away the dust and drinks the water
He doesn't just go for the flower
But also for the roots and fruit
Blow away the dust, now:
Come to the living water.
I'm really beginning to get it - that summer solstice - for me at least - is about heartbreak. Yesterday I took some time to look at old journals, read old blog posts. It's fascinating, in a sad way, to see that every year at this time, I suffer a huge loss. What is up with that?
Last year it was Jake, the very worst thing that has ever happened to me. The day he died I came straight home from the vet and wrote a beautiful post about him. I'm still amazed I had the wherewithall to write that post. I was such a wreck that day and for months afterwards. This year I'm suffering another loss. Even an ice pack on my heart and a stiff drink after a serious sweaty cathartic walk did nothing to alleviate the heartache. And I'm writing writing writing. I'm powerless, apparently, to stop the flow of words.
I was thinking this morning about the sacrifice of the King, the old agrarian story of summer solstice, in which the king must be killed, his blood sprinkled on the ground, in order to ensure a good harvest. In the San Francisco spiritual community I was involved with, we built a wicker man at summer solstice from highly flammable materials, decorated him with all kinds of things: bits of old candles, roses, leftover spell workings and such. After a plunge into the FREEZING ocean, we lit the wicker man, watched him burn while singing or perhaps dancing around (you see, old habits die hard, hence my crazy shamanic dancing whenever I sense a flow of energy). At the end of the ritual, an archer shot an arrow, attached to a lit sparkler, out over and finally into the Pacific Ocean, as a salute to Brother Sun at sunset on the longest day of the year.
It was a beautiful ritual, though I'm thinking in some way I have taken in the concept of sacrifice perhaps too deeply. All the themes of solstice fun, you know, like a midsummer's night dream, frolicking in the woods, drinking honeysuckle necter, hanging out with the fairies? Doesn't resonate with me at all.
At summer solstice, I grieve, I do. Last year was awful. This year? Awful, too. As much as I detest the winter holiday season, it's clear that winter solstice is a much finer time for me. Bring on the shorter days, please? All this abundance is killing me!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I try very hard here on the blog to sound like I know what I'm doing, that I'm wise and smart and ... you know the drill. Ah hell, sometimes I am so full of it. Those who know me in "real" life are all nodding their heads right now. I get ahead of myself, I forget about restraint, I tilt at the world in joy or rage or fall to my knees, overcome by beauty, by love for this beautiful experience of life. Inevitably, the next thing that happens is: I crash.
Every one of the astrologers I admire has been wagging their fingers, sternly telling me (and everyone else) that this summer's line-up of planetary configurations, eclipses, grand crosses, comets, and such will create an atmosphere in which big, sudden surprises, lots of energy and changes will occur. They warned me, oh yeah. I should know better than to get all macho about it. I've been reveling in the big energy like someone on Ecstacy (I think - I've actually never taken Ecstacy). For the record let me say that the impact of running all this cosmic energy has been mostly great. I've learned so much in recent weeks, had many revelations and insights.
I'm not quite the bad ass I think I should be, however. While I was pounding on my chest and acting completely crazy, dancing and such (see yesterday's post), the universe snuck up behind me and smacked me hard - just like the astrologers said it would. Ouch.
As one wise friend likes to say, "Fall down once, get up twice." Yeah. OK. Or, another friend tells me, when in doubt, buy table linens. That is great advice. The good news is: THE MOVE INTO THE NEW APARTMENT IS ON!!! Wooo hooo!! I'll be in my own fiefdom exactly one month from today. It's time to get out there and buy table linens, poste haste.
There is absolutely no use in predicting what's going to happen next. This is one seriously insane summer. Don't count on anything! Engage, dance with the energy, but please don't go off the deep end like I have - if you can help it. I couldn't help it. But maybe you can.
Hand on my heart, eyes on the prize. Onwards and upwards.
**Thanks for the great song title, Thievery Corporation
Monday, June 14, 2010
You know that word Qi? Some people spell it "chi." Of course these are both transliterations. The original, literal meaning of the Chinese character for Qi refers to the steam rising from a bowl of rice. I love the idea that life force is a delicious and nourishing scent, that it is a part of the element of air. There are other words that refer to the essence of life force, like prana, rouach. I wonder what the English word would be? Soul? It's possible English speakers don't have a word that conveys the mystery and power of the life force. Maybe I just don't know the word. Do you?
I'm running a lot of life force lately. I feel energetic, wired, actually, though not manic. I've been sleeping well, having the sweetest dreams you can imagine.
My Qi is rocking and rolling. It is so abundant that the Sufi acupuncturist last week described my pulses as "great." Believe me he has NEVER said my pulses were great. What he ended up doing in the session, as he explained it, was to enhance my "great" pulses so as to heal the ancestors. At the end of the treatment I thanked him sincerely from the ancestors. It's incredible to have enough energy to pay it backwards. Talk about abundance. Wow.
Solstice is a time of great abundance, especially this year. Besides the many hours of daylight, the moon is waxing, the comet is growing brighter, and the planets are working their way towards the cardinal grand cross that will occur on June 26. Whew! (I looked for a good link about the grand cross, but didn't find one I like. The short explanation is that the planets align in such a way as to create a big ole intersection in the sky, a big X. This is a cardinal grand cross which coincides with a lunar eclipse, turning the big X into a spiritual launching pad. June 26th this year is truly monumental in terms of astronomy. Buckle your seatbelts, y'all!)
As a shaman it would be bad form for me to NOT be bursting with life force at this moment in time. I'm dancing, shamanically at least, as fast as I can, trying to keep up with all that steamy Qi in and around me. It's exhiliarating; it's like being madly in love. What a rush.
I'm thinking when the light begins to wane later in the summer, when the grand cross dissipates, I'll probably need an energy vacation. You think? Oh yeah.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
“I got these lines in my face tryin’ to straighten out the wrinkles in my life."
--Ramblin' Jack Elliott**
Sifting through stuff in preparation for the upcoming move out of the house on Tennessee Avenue, I came across this picture of me, taken when I was in my late 20's. I was sitting with my sister Deborah and her family on her front porch in Kansas City. I look so relaxed and happy, mostly because I was caught unawares by my brother-in-law, who was a great photographer. When I pose for pictures, I just look weird; frozen and goofy.
Just for fun, and because I'm feeling all alive and happy right now in life, I put up this image as my profile pic in Facebook.
Almost immediately the comments started pouring in, how beautiful I was, how lovely, like a movie star, sensuous and etc etc etc. I was of course flattered by the reaction, but initially quite puzzled. I look at that picture, then I look at myself in the mirror. Honestly I don't see so much of a difference - OK I'm old, have gray hair, weigh more, wear glasses. But can it be true that I have actually aged? WHAT??
Just as it is for so many others, I find the process of aging is so bizarre. I don't feel that different, but apparently I really LOOK different from the outside. I guess that's why people get facelifts and color their hair, go for tummy tucks and get liposuction (sounds so GROSS to me - YUCK). Though I respect everyone's right to make these choices, the truth is, after plastic surgery, most folks just look weird. Turning back the clock is not an option, people. The best we can do is try to move gracefully into old age, yes? I say yes.
Of course I was not graceful about the big reaction to that picture. I almost immediately took it down, replaced it with an image that features my hair. I added a diffuse glow to the pic, I suppose to mask, at least to some degree, the physical evidence of my 57 years. Even I, the campaigner for how great it is to grow older, She Who Admonishes Those Who Denigrate Old Age, yeah, even I, the spokesperson for the wonders of middle age, get self-conscious about it sometimes. Hey. I didn't do anything wrong by aging, I just haven't died yet. Why the self-consciousness, why?? For heaven's sake!
**Thanks, Rick, for this great mantra. Oh yeah!!
How funny that the link didn't work. I fixed it.
Took this on my way to see the Sufi acupuncturist this week. The angels are everywhere. Sweet.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
All is well and I'm off to work after a very energetic yet somehow peaceful meditation this morning. That new moon kicked my butt - which is fine, really. My butt needs kicking occasionally.
Here, from blogfellow Kerry, a poem that says it all. YES. Happy Saturday, y'all.
A Strange Feather
All the empty plots,
All the ghosts and fears,
All the grudges and sorrows have
I must have inhaled
The watery distortion, via photoshop, is the only way I could make this collage look interesting. The canon is part of the Andrew Jackson sculpture in Lafayette Park in front of the White House.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Like every other member of my species, I am a storyteller. My mind is at all times narrating the events of life, trying to explain why I feel a certain way, for instance, or what I'm experiencing. Though intensely creative by their very nature, these stories are nothing more than that, just stories. We need stories, we do have to navigate through the complexities and the paradoxes of life after all, though it's important not to swallow the stories hook, line and sinker.
This is the very reason I meditate every morning. Meditation allows me the opportunity to unhinge from my stories, to detach, temporarily, from the big ole structures my mind has created. It clears the decks, takes me back to the drawing board where I can begin to build my version of the world in story all over again.
Lord knows, I tried to meditate this morning. I sat where I always sit when I meditate. Forty minutes went by according to the clock in my room. Ah but I did not find one second of peace. My head was full of words words words, stories, self recrimination and self blame and for heaven's sake, what was that all about? How is it possible to wag a finger at yourself? Makes my wrist hurt to even imagine it. When I woke up I felt dreamy and soft and happy. What happened in between then and meditation time? Huh?
Right now my head is beginning to construct a story about why everything went downhill so fast. Whoa. I say: WHOA there Nelly (speaking to my head). Some days are not made for peace, so what? I'll try again tomorrow, and maybe by then I'll find a second or two of quiet on the meditation cushion. You think? Hope so.
A peaceful Friday to all!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Andrew Jackson sculpture in Lafayette Park, next to the White House.
We used to always say What happens between the worlds can change all the worlds - or - heal all the worlds. I think there were other variants. We spoke these words right after casting our magical circles. I always thought of this phrase as an affirmation, a way of encouraging us to put as much energy as we could into the intention of the ritual.
When I left my life as a witch, I forgot all about the idea of effecting change from between the worlds. I stopped "conjuring" - the purposeful shaping of energy for a specific outcome. What I discovered is that for me, conjuring always got me bound up. All that shaping and focusing on a specific intention meant I became blind to alternatives, I couldn't see or imagine anything other than my intention. It was as if, when I did magic, I tied my own energy into knots, got all snarled up, developed the worst kind of tunnel vision. It took awhile to unwind from all that conjuring. Whew. It was such a relief to cease and desist.
When I stopped conjuring, I decided the healthiest thing I could do was to live very fully and specifically in THIS world - you know, the world of flesh and blood, the world commonly known as "reality." I wanted my feet securely planted on bedrock and topsoil, my heart beating real blood, my lungs taking in the skanky air of the swamp where I physically live.
I had in mind some kind of pure existence, something simpler and more direct than the world of magic. Ah yes. It was a very idealistic, one-dimensional idea in which I did not take into account the fact that life is always multi-dimensional, no matter what. I'm no longer there to conjure, but I still visit that place every day. I'm between the worlds when I pray and meditate every morning, as well as in dreams. I'm often between the worlds when I work, following the wisdom of my hands. Ronda, you know what I'm talking about, yes? Walking home from dinner with a friend last night I watched the lightning bugs rise in Lincoln Park where the thought struck me that every dawn and every dusk exists between the worlds (as well as in the "real" world). The space between breaths? Yep. Between. What about my photos? I mean, really!!
This morning I'm thinking about the blog realm. Here we occupy a space between the worlds, definitely! We make friends with people we've never met, we talk to people who live halfway round the world. Time/space collapses here; I leave comments on blogs written by people in Australia where it's already tomorrow (or - is it yesterday? I can never wrap my mind around it).
"In here", we find soul mates, folks we've known in other lives, other members of our tribes. Yes indeed, this blog realm is most certainly between the worlds. For heaven's sake.
As it turns out, though I place my feet on the swampy ground of Washington DC every day, tracing the same paths that Brother Lincoln and Brother Whitman followed way back when, and Brothers Washington and Jefferson before that, I'm still a creature who inhabits, and benefits from, the things that transpire in liminal spaces. So, go figure. There is no such thing as a pure earthy, one-world existence after all.
I was slow to put two and two together but I get it now, at last. May what happens between worlds heal all the worlds. Amen!
Between the worlds, after a nice rain.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Nice trombone duets outside the Dupont Circle metro stop.
Some days I cry. I just do. I listen to evocative music, or the voice of someone I love over the phone, or maybe I sink into a beautiful memory - or a sad memory - or some hope for something yet to come. Or all of the above. Some days are just so full that my heart overflows. What can I do but just, well, cry?
Yesterday the weather in DC was absolute perfection, Colorado weather - low humidity, high of about 80 degrees F. I walked and walked, received a wonderful massage from my Bulgarian Olympic swimmer massage therapist, then wandered home among honking car horns and the din of the city. Everything seemed absolutely perfect.
I was listening to the music of Townes Van Zandt and Rick Lowe and the beautiful voices of Bono, Aaron Neville, even the Grateful Dead (via the ipod). My goodness, I was a piece of work yesterday. Whew.
With all the sparking sunshine, fluffy clouds, and lost in the beauty of the music, somehow I just could not keep myself from shedding many many many tears. They weren't those hot, acidic, burning tears that accompany a bout of frustration or grief, no, they were the wet, sweet-salty tears of pure, heart-felt expression. People passing me on the street steered a wide arc around me. It's so funny how averse we are to any emotion in this crazy city - except anger. That, we get. But the kind of weepy mood that accompanies feelings of love and beauty? There's no place for the expression of that in the District, oh no.
You know, crying is therapeutic. It draws toxins from the body, it empties lymph glands. Sometimes, too, it is the only way to express the fullness of feeling that comes from being so in love with this life, this beautiful planet, this amazing experience of corporeal existence.
Yesterday it was sunny outside but rainy in the internal realms. Today I feel clear and sunny inside. Ironically, or perfectly, depending on how you look at it, I see from my window that the clouds have gathered and a soft rain is falling. Sweet, eh? I think so.
L'chaim, y'all. Sniff sniff.
**Thanks, Aaron Neville, for the way you sing that song.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I always love hearing what my esteemed colleagues here in the blog world think. Many sincere thanks to all for leaving such GREAT comments on yesterday's post. I learn something new from you every day. Really, thank you.
Believe it or not, I think (perhaps this is a fantasy) that I have a pretty good handle on my own life's purpose, not only with regard to what I'm supposed to be doing, but also what's not my job this time around.
I knew even as a kid that I would not have children. I just knew it in my heart of hearts - that it was not my job this time around. I was also certain, at an early age, that I would never be a triumphant member of corporate society. In fact, I have never in my life owned a business suit. I wonder if I should be proud or ashamed of this? Hmmmm ....
Probably the most important thread of life purpose has been/is the recovery of my role as healer. It took me until midlife (my early 40's) before I began to study massage and other healing techniques. The story I tell myself is that past lifetimes in which I was a military nurse totally soured my enthusiasm for the art of healing. I mean really, watching young men die of infections during the Civil War and WWI? It sucked. So I gave it up. During WWII, I was not of much help to anyone, sadly. The good news is that, since moving to Washington DC, I have been guided very strongly to reconnect with my soul's purpose. Once again, in this life, I work with the troops - living, dead, active, retired, important in rank or not so much. It's ironic, paradoxical, that this is part of my soul's purpose as I am the most non-violent person in the world; I grew up in a family of peaceniks who were against my choice to join the girl scouts because it is a "para-military" organization. My goodness.
What I'm wondering about this week is whether or not there is a difference between the roles we play (massage therapist) and the underlying archetype (healer) that sets the tone for life purpose. Does this make any sense? Even I don't know exactly what I mean! Perhaps I should stop for now, pull my wits and words together a bit more before continuing on this topic. Yes? I say yes.
Monday, June 7, 2010
What in the heck are we doing here, individually and collectively? What is the point of it all, the living, loving, the joys, sorrows, sturm und drang of it all? Do you ever wonder? I do, definitely.
I used to think that it would be great to have a very clear, singular life purpose, something obvious. In that way, all efforts and energy could be directed towards fulfilling it. But when I learned about the lives of people like Abraham Lincoln, Anne Frank, Ghandi, Clara Barton (just to name a few), I changed my mind. All of them did such great work for us. Because of them, as a society we are kinder (maybe), more compassionate, more human. But for them? I think for them, having a clear life purpose was perhaps a bigger burden than anything else, drowning out the possibility that they could pursue a few selfish personal desires.
For most of us, one decidedly obvious life purpose is not our destiny. Instead we follow threads, we come to many fateful intersections in which we have to make a decision - go this way or that way? As there is not (yet anyway) a google maps program for locating life's destinies, we have to think, feel, pray, and wonder when we come to these intersections. I'm not saying the people I mentioned above didn't have to pray, think, feel and wonder just like you and me, but it must have been different for them. I imagine that, in some way or another, each of them was able to keep their eyes on the prize of their life's purpose whereas many of us don't have a clue where we're headed. All we know to do is put one foot in front of the other, try to pay attention, and hope the decisions we make will take us towards the best possible destiny. Maybe I'm wrong about this, you tell me.
I have a lot to say about this, but for now I will cease and desist. The heat wave broke yesterday; it's clear and dry and sparking outside. Some small part of my life's purpose is calling me out to walk and breathe and appreciate the turn in the weather before I have to go to work. Or maybe that's just an excuse, who knows?
What I'll be wondering about as I wander today is the difference between the roles we play, i.e. mother, father, teacher, healer, lover, etc. and our life's purpose(s), i.e. to bring the ancestors back into manifestation as our children, to pass on wisdom, etc.
Do you know what the difference is? Is there a difference or at least a distinction? I'm not sure.
*Not really. I think blogging was born to suit the needs of new millenium essayists, such as myself, so in other words, just the other way around.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
It has all been a bit much of late. Though I say that I enjoy it when God is direct and blatant, the truth is that I kind of enjoy nuance when it comes to the big messages of life. Am I a wimp? Oh yeah, I am.
It has been unseasonably hot and humid outdoors, way too hot for early June. Indoors we've been living with dust and dirt and a completely ripped up kitchen (my housemates are renovating my favorite room in the house ... which is definitely traumatic for me.) I'm STILL waiting to hear about a move-in date for my new apartment.
To top it all off, yesterday I had to say goodbye to my favorite client, always a wrenching experience.
Let me explain: all my clients are GREAT. There are a handful who I just love and cherish so much. It wouldn't be too much to say that the handful of beloved clients are truly precious to me. When one of the cherished few leaves (in this case to move to Portland with his wonderful wife who is going to have a baby shortly after they settle in) I am always a little bit heartbroken even while feeling so happy about the onwards & upwards. When we say the final goodbye, these clients become, for a day or two at least, my FAVORITE client.
Yesterday's favorite client hugged me and said, "Thank you for the last two years. This has changed my life."
So OK that's probably why I had a little bit too much to drink last night, why I argued so vociferously with my housemates about the efficacy of protesters and protests to change society (I don't think it works anymore), why I listened to "What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding" about a hundred times.
Ah yes, it has all been a BIT MUCH of late. Thank you, God, for making my life so interesting. All I can say is: Wow.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
I'm a psychic. So what? So are you. I don't believe that label means I possess "extra" sensory perception, just as I don't believe in a "super" natural world. If it's happening, it's natural, right? I say yes. What being a psychic means to me is that I've practiced tuning in to what one of my teachers referred to as "the subtle energies" and worked to develop a language with which to describe when I'm perceiving.
Everyone reading this post has had the experience (at the very least) of hearing the phone ring and knowing who is calling, or thinking about someone who, "coincidentally," shows up a few minutes later. You know what I'm talking about, right?
It's just another one of our incredible gifts, this ability to tune in on a frequency that allegedly does not exist in the normal range of sensory capacity, or so say those who believe in a rational world. Just like having a knack for woodworking or playing the guitar, perceiving the subtle energies is an art that can be developed. If you don't practice, it will come in fits and starts, but if you do practice, over time, you will get better, just like with any art. I don't tend to make a big deal about being a psychic these days. It just is.
Well except for yesterday. I'd had a very detailed dream the night before that turned out to be a true dream, down to almost every detail. Even for an old school psychic like myself, sometimes these experiences are stranger than fiction. Shook me up a little bit, I'll admit it. (Imagine here the theme music to The Twilight Zone.)
We know so much more than we are able to admit. All I can say is: wow.
Friday, June 4, 2010
When I googled brain+music just a minute ago, I got more than sixty five million hits. It's a big theme in neurology at the moment. Very cool. This week I enjoyed this article from the NY Times, titled "Exploring Music's Hold on the Mind." This is my kind of science, oh yeah.
For me, the importance of music goes far beyond the brain. Music feeds my soul, it does. My life has a soundtrack, always has. It feels like a survival thing to me; that I would die without music. Perhaps that isn't literally true, but it seems that way.
As a kid, my life was accompanied by musicals and symphonies, the musical choices my father made. Coming of age was all about the Beatles, etc. Choose any time in my life and I can pinpoint a piece of music or at least a genre, that got me through the day. I remember even as a child listening obsessively to the ballet suites of Aram Il'yich Khachaturian. As a teenager I literally played James Brown, Live at the Apollo Theater to death. Who knew it was possible to wear out a record? You would think vinyl would last forever.
Fast forward to my twenties? Abbey Road. And on, and on.
A few weeks ago, I was all about Brazilian music, especially bossa nova and samba. It's such uplifting music, and too it smoothes my energy, polishes my aura, brings out the luster in my electromagnetic field. After a couple of weeks of bossa nova, abruptly (or so it seemed) I began listening to gravelly voiced guitar playing singer/songwriters, Eric Clapton in particular. Maybe my energy got too smooth, maybe my aura needed a little ruffing up. Or maybe I needed a piercing infusion of melancholy. Your guess is as good as mine.
Sometimes my theme music is very specific. For the last couple of days, I've been listening, over and over again, to the great Nick Lowe song, "What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding." I've listened to it so many times I may even end up memorizing the lyrics (quite a feat for me). I'm not quite clear why, though it's possible the song is acting as a spiritual tonic for the stomach-wrenching, heart/mind-wrenching reaction I have to anything I read about the oil spill in the Gulf. The pictures of the birds, covered in slime? I can't bear it.
Thanks, Nick, for this beautiful song. Here's a version in which both Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe sing the song that Elvis made famous. I embedded the vid in the largest format I could, as a metaphor for its huge impact of the moment. Hope you enjoy it.