Friday, December 31, 2010
We humans celebrate endings and beginnings - especially beginnings - by gathering in groups, making a lot of noise, wearing funny hats, eating and drinking. It's just what we do - at birthday parties, weddings, graduations, anniversaries, retirements and at new years, too, of course. At funerals we tend not to wear funny hats or make a lot of noise, but otherwise the ritual is the same.
Today is an ending, tomorrow is a beginning and though there are those who would insist that the calendar is arbitrary, that one day is no different than the next, I must disagree. We make it important, we make it significant, we decide it is not arbitrary and so it isn't. Which is why, on December 31st, we gather in groups, put on funny hats, make a lot of noise, eat and drink.
Tonight at midnight the mouth of the new year will clamp down hard on the tail of 2010, thereby completing the wheel of the year. At midnight on new year's eve you can almost feel the teeth of the new year, you can almost hear the sound of the bite .. or you could if everyone wasn't shouting, blowing horns and such.
Once we've made it through that moment of ending/beginning, we settle down, we kiss each other, hug, wish each other a happy new year. Because that moment between what was and what will be is always a little scary. Moving from endings to beginnings of all stripes is a bit like leaping across an abyss. It's such a relief when that moment passes, oh yeah. We kiss, hug, and then we drink and eat some more.
We humans are truly adorable, and so brave, aren't we, to celebrate the marvels and perils of moving from the old year into the new year again and again? I think so.
Happiest 2011 to all. L'chaim. All good things in the new year, yes? I say yes. Cheers!
Thursday, December 30, 2010
I cried me a river yesterday. Not only was I expressing my grief about the death of Tessa Edwards, but I think in many ways I was releasing all of the momentous events of 2010 in one big ole storm of tears and snot (because when I cry, I always have to blow my nose, too - don't you?) So much stuff came out of me, I wondered if I had suddenly come down with a cold. Fortunately and finally, the storm of release subsided, leaving me at last peacefully empty.
Please understand, this was a GREAT year for me. A few examples of wonder from 2010: I moved house into this beautiful nest at the base of the chateau, on a beautiful street just seven blocks from my beloved Capitol. I've had houseguests and dinner guests and many quiet evenings. I love living here! Also during 2010: my heart opened to romantic love which - unfortunately - didn't work out, not at all, but the experience was quite a revelation. It can happen at any age! I didn't know that, how cool. And: halfway through 2010, after talking about it literally for decades, I gave playing the bass a go, and at last was able to let go of that ambition without regret. Just one more: I let my hair grow longer than it has ever been. Oh man, I LOVE my long, silver hair.
During 2010 I experienced a number of soul retrievals. I was reconnected with an ancient set of lifetimes as a rather run-of-the-mill warrior. I reunited with high school friends at a retreat in southern Missouri during which I was reminded of all the GOOD things about that period of time in my life. I traced the silver cord of connection - at last - back to World War II, found my place there, and began preparations to heal the part of my soul that suffered so terribly in the camps. I learned from first-hand experience that karmic ties can indeed be broken, oaths that never should have been made can be dissolved. Who knew?? That revelation and the broken oath lifted my heart. It was so liberating.
Several friendships deepened during this past year, always a wonderful thing. I laughed, walked around, took pictures, danced, dreamed, cooked, socialized, worked hard and enjoyed life. 2010 was a truly stellar year.
I'm not sad to see the end of 2010, though, not at all. It has been a good year, but it's over now. Hasta la vista, baby. Onwards & upwards to 2011. One more day. Let's go! Oh yeah.
I can't imagine what it would be like to be as cool as Diana Krall.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I'm reading the Dalai Lama's book about his spiritual journey. His holiness, as a simple monk (as he calls himself) spends at least five hours every day meditating and praying - can you imagine? One of the things he is focused on during meditation is the interconnectedness of all things. This mindfulness, of our essential interconnectedness, is the source of his great compassion. I spend barely an hour every day meditating and praying, but nevertheless I get it, I really do, about our interconnectedness. Oh yeah.
My heart is heavy today after learning last night that the luminous, hilarious, lively, joyous and artful Tessa Edwards, of the blog Aerial Armadillo, has died. No I never met her in "real" life, but as with so many other bloggers and friends on Facebook, the fact that we became acquainted over the internet did not in any way interfere with our heart connection.
She had cancer, I don't even know in what form. She was very active on Facebook and continued to post to her blog until mid-October. I haven't seen anything from her since then. I am very sad, truly sad, not virtually sad, to think of her passing beyond the veil.
The other thing the Dalai Lama is focused on in his meditation and prayers is the reality of impermanence. The denial of this truth will cause nothing but suffering. Yeah, yeah .. all our days are numbered, which is one of the reasons I love to say that Life is short and we aren't dead yet. L'chaim!
At the end of my meditation this morning, I told myself in no uncertain terms: Don't take it for granted. Get out there and live fully, like Tessa did. Be creative, dance around, try things that seem impossible, love with your whole heart, err on the side of kindness. Throw your tendencies towards cynicism, sarcasm and hopelessness - and your fantasies of control - straight into the compost bin. Make a fool of yourself over and over again, OK? Laugh. Yes? I say yes.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. I wonder who said that? Today I'm taking on that philosophy. It's a good excuse, in the middle of a non-week, to purposely engage in a non-day.
I can't remember a more challenging work week than the one just past. Almost every one of the people who found refuge on the treatment table this week, both regular clients and the families of regular clients, were dealing with serious issues. One after another they put themselves into my hands. Can you imagine? I am honored, every time I go to work, that people are able to embody so much trust, especially when they're extra vulnerable.
Life in this form is precious - I totally agree with the Buddhists - but oh my we humans face so many difficulties of body, spirit and mind. We really are a lot braver than we give ourselves credit for. We get out of bed every morning, we seek healing or resolution, or acceptance. We cry or smile and carry on. We are intrepid. Whoa. I'm in awe - and - I'm fried after this week. Bloody hell.
Fortunately for me, Brother Wind has died down (thank God). It's supposed to be "warm" today (40 F. without wind is relatively warm compared to the weather in recent days), and since I have no plans for ongoing holiday revelry until this evening, I have a whole day to futz, clean house, wash clothes, and most important: get out for a nice walk through the quiet streets of Washington DC. While I walk I will breathe, I will let go of all the brave/sad stories of the people who made themselves at home on the treatment table this week. I'll take in the sunshine and "warmth," feel my blood moving in and out of my heart. What I expect to feel as I walk, even more than I do right this second, is a whole lot of gratitude for my good health and wonderful life.
A non-day can be a great mental/physical health day, as long as the wind isn't howling and if Brother Sun is shining. Thank you, weather god, thank you So Much. I love Tuesdays. Shalom.
Monday, December 27, 2010
The week between Christmas and New Year's (in the U.S. at least) is a kind of non-week, a harbinger of January, the non-month, just ahead. All the lights and shiny ornaments that were merry only a couple of days ago begin to lose their luster after Christmas. All of a sudden, folks notice the tree is drying out, fading, dropping its needles. Lights and decorations in front yards start to look really tacky and excessive. Clearly the energy of the holidays is departing, but not quite gone, a bit like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard.
These late days of December are not exactly the holidays anymore. Some people go to work (though for many they are simply going through the motions of work without actually accomplishing anything). Some of us go back to work with a vengeance as it were, especially those who work in retail or restaurants, or service jobs such as massage therapy. For some of us, the holidays are definitely done. But - others take this week off from work, spend their days futzing around their houses, shopping or whatever.
But the holidays aren't really over with until New Year's Day. So this week kind of is, but kind of isn't, the holidays. Like I said: a non-week.
A friend of mine loves the week between Christmas and New Year's. He says, "It feels like everything is in a holding pattern. It feels like a time to recreate and rebuild what you want your life to be."
I love that! Never thought of non-weeks in these terms before. Very cool, a chance to recreate and rebuild what I want my life to be? Instead of a non-week, I can think of this time as a clean slate, a week of pure potential. Yes? I say yes. Thanks Sean, you're a genius. I'm on it. Oh yeah.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
The Christmas spirit is such a good thing. I'm talking about the idea that around this time of year it's best to be jolly, generous, forgiving and loving. I approve of the custom of just stopping, for an entire day, to rejoice with family and dear ones, exchange gifts, feast, laugh and appreciate the beauty of life.
Christmas is like a once-a-year Shabbat. We Jews are supposed to observe a day like Christmas every week, minus the presents, tree and funny sweaters. Can you imagine? Once a week we're supposed to stop our normal routines, cease and desist with our overarching love of working our asses off, resist the urge to quarrel with each other, light candles, feast with our families. We are supposed to live as if the world were absolutely perfect. After sundown on Saturday we can go back to squabbling, complaining, and working way too hard - if we want to that is.
I kept Shabbat once upon a time for a whole year, in penance for tossing a copy of the Torah into the trash. It's a long story. The way I observed Shabbat, somewhat arbitrarily (but it worked for me) was like this: I lit the sabbath candles every Friday night, also I didn't buy anything or drive my car until sundown Saturday night. The self-enforced break from all the usual sturm und drang of it all was absolutely fabulous. Restorative, encouraging, beautiful. The practice was a great reminder that life doesn't always have to be about running errands.
Once my year of observance was complete, I went back to my old habits. I wonder why? I wonder why I don't figure out some way to observe Shabbat fully and completely now? It's such a GREAT practice, such a radical idea, to take a load off once in awhile. Sheesh.
I'm thinking about it this morning because yesterday I observed Christmas fully and completely. Blew off all routines, lit candles, sang songs to myself. I joined friends to feast and watch movies all afternoon. We drank delicious drinks and ate delicious foods, toasted our beloved departed, regaled each other with stories.
We homo sapiens are such busy animals. It's good to stop every now and then, it really is. Shalom.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Aren't we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas? You know ... the birth of Santa. -- Bart Simpson
It's a cloudy, chilly day in Washington DC. We might even get a few snow showers later today, adding to the Christmassy vibe. Oh yeah. Right now all is quiet. There's no traffic, no one is charging down East Capitol talking on the phone, or running or biking. No one is at the bus stop. It is truly peaceful out there. Nice!
My housemates are out of town, so the chateau, too, is quiet and still. Even Betty Louise (the houseghost) left me alone last night, (thanks Betty!) so I am well rested and mellow. I have candles burning in my little "fireplace," I'm drinking tea, eating broken cookie bits, admiring one of my favorite presents: a snow globe that contains all the monuments and the Capitol. There's a little music box in the base of the globe that plays Battle Hymn of the Republic. It doesn't get better than that, does it?
In awhile, I'll gather my wits about me (and the bag of bloody mary fixins), walk to a friend's house where we are set to engage in a lazy afternoon of leftovers and movies.
I used to tilt against Christmas. I'm a Jewish shaman after all and felt for a long time that I should not take part in the festivities. I believed celebrating was, in some way, a betrayal of my values. Or - I focused on the fact that I have no kids, no family close by, no partner, no traditions around the day. I excoriated myself for being such a FREAK, I held myself apart from Christmas just because I am so not mainstream. My, my.
The years I fought hard not to observe the holiday were quite miserable. The truth is: resistence is futile. Ever since I decided to dance in shamanic alignment with this day of gathering, rejoicing, feasting and gift giving, I've been a lot happier. No brainer, eh?
To all: Shalom and Happy Christmas. Cheers!
Friday, December 24, 2010
The vortex at 7th and H Streets NW, at the Chinatown gate. You can almost see the energy whirling counterclockwise in the intersection.
Ah. What goes up, must come down, yes? I say yes. I was saying NO yesterday when I woke up with a terrible stiff neck, no doubt payback from the marathon cookie bender, but I'm thinking it was also a form of whiplash in the wake of my sublime experience of the dragon-arrow eclipse.
When I marched outside in the middle of the night to dance in ecstatic shamanic alignment with the eclipse/solstice, I didn't stop to think that the energy would eventually wash back. Ecstacy does not include common sense, uh-uh. My beloved Isaac Newton understood that For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Yeah.
Twelve hours of sleep, a fistful of Advil and three hot showers later, I'm on the mend. Onwards and upwards, eh?
Happy Christmas Eve to all who celebrate. To everyone else, good luck trying to do anything BUT celebrate. When it comes to Christmas in the U.S., I surrender totally and completely. Cheers!!
Chinatown subway escalator ... this is the one that went manic a few weeks ago. Who could blame it?
Thursday, December 23, 2010
John and Manuel took the helm just as I was ready to surrender. They always know how to make things happen. I will be forever grateful.
If not for my friends and former housemates John and Manuel, at some point yesterday I would have simply thrown all the cookie dough into the garbage, called it a day. Baking is hard. Somehow I forgot about that when I decided to bake cookies for Christmas this year.
In fact I think it was exactly a year ago when I decided that there are irreconcilable differences between wheat and me. Well. No wonder I struggled and juggled, cursed, laughed (at myself mostly), no wonder I worked 14 hours yesterday just to produce some rather drab, misshapen and not very tasty cookies, most of which broke into little bits almost immediately.
It's all over now. The kitchen is finally clean again, the cookies that didn't break are safely packed in cute little boxes, ready for delivery. Next year I'll do something other than baking for Christmas. Oh yeah. Lesson learned.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Solstice day in Washington DC was crystal clear. The air was clean, the sky was a tastefully pale shade of blue, and Brother Sun was glorious, celestial, silvery. What a guy! I love Brother Sun. Since I like to think about the world this way, I decided it was a great portent for the solar year ahead.
Though yesterday was again packed full of activity, and later on, revelry, I took as much time as I could to think about the experience of being pierced through the heart; about how, for a few perfect moments my heart was in a precise alignment with the hearts of the galactic center, sun, earth and moon, thanks to the arrow-dragon, (or was it a dragon-arrow?) of the eclipse.
The alignment continues to resonate for me, even though the heavenly bodies, as well as my own human body, have moved quite a ways since then, and the dragon-arrow has sped away to realms unknown. What I feel is a closer kinship with the sun and moon, more love even than I already had for this beautiful planet where I live, and for the precious existence of life in this form.
The way I ordinarily frame eclipses is in terms of the moon or sun being swallowed by shadows or dark beings, only to re-emerge unscathed and victorious. The impact of eclipses usually feels dire to me, but not this time. It was calming and reassuring, strengthening, enlightening - even grounding. Really surprising, very weird.
I am full of wonder, still too full of the sensation to begin interpreting my experience. The one thought I had was that an arrow through the heart is ordinarily about Cupid, right? If this applies, then - whoa - what a hulkin' dude of a Cupid that dragon-arrow is! Wow.
Love to all! Happy new solar year to those in the northern hemisphere, happy summer to my friends who live on the other side of the world. Shalom.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The big light in the upper left? Last night's moon from the western side of Lincoln Park.
Oh that moon. What a moon! What a night! Whoa.
As I left work just after dusk yesterday, I looked around for the moon, but couldn't see her. I figured she was still too low in the sky and that I could look for her from Lincoln Park, a better vantage point and a few minutes away. So I turned my back on the eastern sky. About half a block later, I felt someone tap me the shoulder. It was a physical sensation. No one was there when I turned around, though, but I did notice a brightly lit cloud in the sky. At that exact second, the great and powerful Luna emerged from behind the cloud. It was very dramatic; made me gasp in awe and wonder. Of course I said WOW. I bowed low, too, a shamanic dance of appreciation. After the moment of awe, I had the presence of mind to notice that the cloud from which the moon emerged was the only cloud in the whole sky.
You can not plan for events like that. Alright, Luna, I said out loud. You've got my attention. Of course I tried to take many pictures, though with my cheap little camera I am never able to focus on the moon. The camera battery threatened to give out after only five or six shots. It was way too much energy to capture digitally, for heaven's sake.
The scene in Lincoln Park five minutes later was total chaos. Ordinarily docile and compliant dogs were fighting, running away from their owners, racing around like lunatics. Duh! If the moon could tap me, an oblivious human, on the shoulder, who knows what she was doing to the dogs. Anyone who has ever seen the moon card in the tarot would have instantly grokked what was going down.
I could tell some of the dog owners were annoyed, some were surprised by their dogs' unusual behavior. I wanted to say, Hey, look at the moon! Of course they're going nuts! But I kept quiet after I saw two dog owners slip on some ice and fall to the ground. They had enough to do without having to contend with my thoughts on the situation.
At 3:07 a.m. I woke suddenly from a deep dream, jumped out of bed, put on a pair of slippers and my coat. From the front yard I quickly found the eclipsed moon hanging rather high in the western sky, coppery, fully eclipsed. Instead of speaking to the ghosts of Capitol Hill as I might have imagined, instead of focusing on the fact of the eclipse, what I sensed instead was an arrow originating in the galatic center, extending outwards through Brother Sun, sweet Mama Earth (and my heart - yours, too), through the moon and beyond, as if it was headed to the edge of the solar system. Too, I felt the presence of a great dragon. It's possible the arrow was the dragon, I'm not sure. From the center of the galaxy to the edge of our solar system, for one brief moment it felt like everything was in perfect alignment. What a feeling. Wow.
Or maybe I was still half asleep, who knows? What I do know is that suddenly I realized it was frickin' cold and I needed to get back indoors. Strangely or perfectly I had absolutely no trouble getting back to sleep, kind of a surprise considering the intensity of that experience. Go figure.
The first rays of Brother Sun are shining on the trees outside my window. The light has returned. What a good thing, what a relief, what a blessing. The light has returned, and I was given a vision that will provide me with many hours of entertainment as I ponder the significance of it all. Life is rich, full, and so good. I am grateful.
Happy new solar year, y'all. L'chaim.
Monday, December 20, 2010
I've been talking a lot with Betty Louise lately. Betty is the chateau houseghost (kind of like a houseguest except they never leave). It's not just me - my housemates know her, too. I've been talking to Betty Louise about the light. I mean The Light, and the possibilities for her if she should ever decide to go to The Light. She seems very confused when I mention a place of healing and renewal, a place of reunion with beloved family and friends she used to know a long time ago. She is not the first ghost I ever met who doesn't really get the point of going to The Light.
Some of the dead worry a bit about The Light because they know, in some way or another, that sometimes a soul needs a period of de-tox before moving into the pure goodness of The Light. The living sometimes think of soul rehab as Hell or the underworld. OK I'll admit it isn't a pretty place and yeah it stinks like rotten eggs. I took one shamanic voyage to the underworld. Peee-ewww! Won't be going back there anytime soon. Yuck. Anyone who has ever done any kind of de-tox can tell you the process isn't very fun. Ask Lindsay Lohan.
I've never seen the underworld as a place to be punished for sins. That doesn't make any sense to me - but as a place of purification and release? Yeah. As soon as they're clean, souls can move up up and away into The Light (at least according to the cosmology of Reya). It serves a purpose, but isn't punitive.
I'm thinking about all this today because it came to me that tonight's full moon/eclipse/Mercury retrograde winter solstice could be a GREAT opportunity for the dead to cross over into The Light. All day (between clients) I am going to encourage the ghosts of Capitol Hill to gaze at the fully eclipsed moon. I think they'll feel themselves being lifted up by strong, angelic arms into the mystery of The Light.
For those of us still living, it could be a discombobulating experience. The rush of many souls passing through all of a sudden is always disconcerting, even if we don't consciously register what's happening. A gate opens and a strange, non-wind blows through, and then, just as mysteriously, the non-wind stops and it's all over.
Here in DC the eclipse will reach fullness in the very wee hours of the night. It's overcast right now so it might not even be visible to the living. That is alright by me. I plan to be tucked securely into my bed, perhaps with the covers pulled over my head when the celestial gate opens. Though today would be a great day to die in terms of fast transit to what we think of as Heaven, I don't plan on this being my day.
However, for those already dead, you who are lonely, confused and wandering around, it's your E ticket outta here, dudes. All aboard, shalom and bon voyage!!
Sunday, December 19, 2010
This morning's news is: I'm getting some really great psychic readings - thanks to all who have offered their visions. One person "saw" me with a cat (crazy because I am so not a cat person, though interesting to me especially since I had a cat in a dream just the other day). Others "see" me in Poland (LOVE that!) and sense that the experience will change me in ways I can not possibly imagine. Someone "saw" me at Lake Tahoe, in a contemplative state. That works for me - I love Lake Tahoe.
Very cool. If any of you who haven't read for me would like to, please do. Take a deep breath or two, close your eyes, and allow your inner eye to open. "See" me sometimein 2011. Be curious; curiosity creates an opening into which insight can enter. If you see something awful, please do not tell me what you saw, OK? Seriously, skip any visions of doom or gloom. But neutral scenes and positive visions are more than welcome. You can comment here or email me on Facebook. Also if any of you want me to read for you, please ask. Remember, it's just a game. The future is not set in concrete, nope. Anything could happen at any moment as every one of us, from the smallest ant to the planets themselves, co-creates the world. It's fun to imagine, though, yes? I say yes.
In addition, doing psychic readings for each other will help us pass the time between now and Tuesday, the toad strangler of a winter solstice we're coming up on. Buckle your seatbelts, people, and visualize 2011. 2010 will be done with before we know it. Onwards and upwards to the new decade, oh yeah.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Between now and New Year's Day, one of my favorite games involves psychic readings for the coming year. I'm not talking about doing the readings for others; I ask my friends to read for me. When I ask, inevitably most of my friends will initially say, "But I'm not psychic," or "I don't know how to do a reading," or "I can't." What happens next is I say, "Just close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath, then visualize me sometime in 2011. What do you see?" Within seconds, my friends are reading like professionals. Like I always say, we are ALL shamans, every one of us. We all have a third eye that will open if only we bother to take a breath or two, let go of the "can't" mindset, get curious.
We're all psychic, we're all shamans - and yet we all have blind spots, too. Oh man, do we ever. The biggest problem with psychic readings is the interpretation of what comes through. You know that saying lost in translation? It works in the realm of psychic vision, too. Every image, sensation or emotion that arrives through the ethereal is filtered, just like "real world" information, though our values, our world view. Interpretation of astral messages is likewise shaped by individual history. All the adventures of our lives color the way we perceive everything, both psychic and "real."
I'm thinking this morning about Betty Friedan, the incredible visionary whose book The Feminine Mystique radically changed American society. The book is well worth reading - wow. She saw through the cultural norms of the '50's, she did her homework, she figured it out and wrote about it so articulately. Towards the end of the book she writes about what happens when there is no national sense of purpose, when national identity is lost. It's so interesting to think about.
After that, she loses it a little bit. For instance, she has nothing good to say about the birth of the counterculture. She could see so much, but when it came to the beats, she didn't perceive that in order to punch through the feminine mystique, through the national regression that was 1950's sociey in America, we were going to need a whole lot of beat poetry, we were going to need Elvis, Bob Dylan and then the Beatles, James Brown, Jimi, Janis, psychedelics and a whole lot of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. According to Betty we were all just supposed to snap out of the era of the Flintstones, grow up.
But of course it didn't happen that way, wouldn't, probably couldn't have unfolded in such a mature manner. We had to act out, seriously act out. Betty Friedan could see so much, but she didn't see it all. I should keep this in mind when I get all involved and uppity about my sense of what is and what isn't, especially in terms of what is yet to come. No one (except God) can see The Big Picture. And yet - it's so fun to try, yes? I say yes! Happy Saturday, y'all. Shalom.
Friday, December 17, 2010
People on the sidewalks smile when it's snowing, something I rarely see when I'm out and about during a rainstorm. Snow is a blessing. It bestows clean, clear white light to the landscape. It turns the landscape into an open body of water, temporarily of course. When it melts, the trees and plants are well watered. Snow is good! It's so good.
Everything looks beautiful, enhanced, by snow. There is no such thing as a rain globe, right? But who doesn't love a snow globe? Well?
It snowed yesterday in DC, a big surprise, a wonderful surprise. As my friend Donald would say, the snow ponies arrived, bringing light in the form of frozen water crystals to DC right here, right now, during the darkest days of the year. Sweet!! It wasn't a lot of snow, maybe an inch or two or three; just enough to coat the trees, just enough to make everything gorgeous. Oh yeah!
I know there's an anti-snow contingent out there - all of y'all who are cranky because snow makes for a slow, slippery commute. What I want to say is: Dudes! Get a grip. STAY HOME FROM WORK! Or ... leave early. Put on a hat and some gloves, wrap your neck in a nice warm scarf. Then open your eyes and heart to the beauty and wonder of a pre-solstice snowfall! C'mon!!
I love snow! Happy Friday. Shalom.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The last few days before winter solstice are always a slog. The darkness becomes gelatinous. It's like one of those dreams in which you try to run but can only move in slow motion. Some years, I snuggle indoors during the last week before solstice. I watch Hugh Grant movies in an effort to locate a sweet inner space of goodness and compassion (when possible). But not this year, oh no. Nope. This solstice is not serene.
My strategy this year has been to tilt at the darkness, to get all up in the face of the long, cold, dark nights by gathering with dear friends, feasting, toasting, laughing, bellowing over the roar of the crowds in restaurants and such. It's a traditional strategy for many people. It's really fun. Who knew?
The planets are conspiring to make this winter solstice a real toad strangler (in the American midwest, this is a phrase that describes a super hard rain, but somehow seems appropriate here). The moon will be full on the longest night, but it will be fully eclipsed for a very long time here on the North American continent. Full moons tend to magnify energy, eclipses always intensify everything. Add to that the chaos of Mercury retrograde and ... well ... this year we'd better party like it's 1999. Seriously.
This year, dancing in shamanic alignment with the solstice requires determination, courage, and a big ole bunch of good cheer. By laughing, drinking, eating and gathering with my friends I've raged, raged against the dying of the light.* Oh yeah. This is as it should be. Four more days. C'mon solstice, bring it. I'm ready for you, yes I am.
*Sorry Dylan, please forgive my paraphrasing of your beautiful poem.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
See the half moon in the sky?
Living alone is a self-indulgent luxury, it really is. Here in the chateau, my little nest, I live exactly as I want to. I don't have to negotiate with anyone about where to set the thermostat. (In the house on Tennessee Avenue we played thermostat wars: summer and winter, I turned the temp down, the housemates turned it up. Back and forth, back and forth.)
Here in my nest I am never forced to listen to TV. I don't own a TV - free at last from the commercials but especially from the talking heads my ex housemates are so fond of. I don't have to maneuver for position in the kitchen first thing in the morning when I Really Need My Coffee. I'm telling you, I'm spoiled rotten here.
The chateau is a refuge of cool peace and beauty, within which I never have to butt heads about any small domestic issue, not ever. Maybe that's why I've been much more generous in the realm of socializing this holiday season than I have been in the past. I've been eating, drinking, and making merry almost every night of the week, allowing myself to stretch far beyond my introverted nature as I interact like crazy with individuals and crowds of people. I know that when I come home, all will be exactly as I left it, that in the restorative quiet of the chateau, I'll have the luxury of integrating all the sensory input at my leisure.
I am very lucky and very happy. Loving the holidays this year. Cheers!
Oh yeah, it's the Matchbox bar. Again. Yep.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Have I been thinking more about the Baby Boom, about the Holocaust? Yes I have. Did you know that there is always a baby boom after a war ends? It makes sense; nature abhors a vacuum. Remarkable, though, is that the baby boom in the U.S. after WWII lasted ten years longer than any of those who study these things expected. I haven't done the math, but it seems like the natural order of things was far more disturbed after WWII. Not only the holocaust, but the atomic bombs, wiped out a huge number of our species all at once. The energetic reverb must have been incredibly powerful.
I started reading Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Bloody hell, it is bringing me down. Just now, only a few days away from winter solstice, is no time to read the intimate details of one man's experience in Auschwitz, for heaven's sake. What was I thinking?
I'll put aside the book, and further contemplation of that dark storm, until later, at least until after the holidays. It's there, in the back of my mind, forming the plot line in my dreams and coming up in my heart and soul with some frequency.
For the next few days, everything has to be all about the light, so I must eat, drink and make merry. After that I can get back to my gloomy thoughts.
Monday, December 13, 2010
There's nothing new under the sun - or is there?
I mean, there's nothing new about silvery sunlight at winter solstice - nor is poetry a new form of expression. There's nothing new about friendship, collaboration, or our species' tendency towards creativity and the arts. Right?
But when something comes out of nothing - well - that makes me feel that the world truly is created fresh and brand new in every moment.
I am in awe of Steven's poem, inspired in part by my thoughts about sunlight in yesterday's post. It's a beautiful piece, though the truth is, Steven writes beautiful poetry every single day. So, there's nothing new about that. Wow.
I'm proud to be part of this collaboration, so very proud, you can't imagine. All is relationship, isn't it? Nothing new about that, but when I take part in an artful collaboration of any kind whatsoever, it is so exciting. It feels as if nothing like it has ever happened before.
Pauline (a great writer) is also interested in making a poem about sunlight. Can't wait to see how she articulates her thoughts about my beloved Brother Sun. Willow of the great blog Willow Manor, regularly uses a visual clue to inspire herself and others to write poetry. Now I know how you feel, Willow. Very cool!!
I'm looking forward to the solstice, just like I always do. The return of the light is close now, and though winter solstice takes place every year, that miraculous rebirth, too, always feels revolutionary, unprecedented.
All hail the light. Let there be light! Shalom.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
If I were a poet I would write a beautiful piece about the silvery sunlight of winter solstice. The light at this time of year is so precious, not only because there isn't very much of it, but because it's unlike the light at any other time of year. Generally, sunlight is gold, right? In spring, it's a light green-gold, in summer: hot gold initially, that sinks slowly into a thick orange-ish color by August. When fall arrives, the sun becomes 18 karat melancholy gold. As winter approaches, the light thins out, grows paler and paler. By solstice, the sunlight is not gold. It is the color of clear quartz.
There's a way in which solstice sunlight seems not of this world. What a crazy thought. If I could write poetry, though, I would be able to convey what I mean. Maybe the pictures tell the whole story and there's no need for words here. Ya think?
Saturday, December 11, 2010
In winter the sky turns "leaden." It really does. Not only is the stratus layer the exact color of lead, but it feels heavy, a lot heavier even than the serious thunderstorm anvil clouds of summer. Stratus clouds feel solid and metallic, even when they're rumpled like yesterday's sky. What is it about winter that's so heavy anyway? It's interesting to think about.
What I'll be thinking about today, between clients and while I get ready for tonight's social engagement, is lifetime purpose. My somewhat irrational desire to get to Krakow, Poland is all about completing some bit of my life's purpose, I know it is. When I ask/pray for illumination on this desire, all I get is the visual of a circle, actually a ring. The visual isn't about what's inside the circle (or what is excluded either), and it isn't 2-dimensional. The visual is of a ring going round and round, with no beginning and never ending.
Well. Did I need a reminder that the allure of Krakow has to do with past lives and paying it backwards in order to pay it forwards? I would think not but maybe I do, because try as I may, that's all I can visualize when I think about it.
When you pray, do you get confusing visuals? Shalom, y'all. Enjoy your day.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Shalom, y'all. Happy Friday and happy weekend. I usually wait till the end of a post to extend well-wishes. But I've been thinking that the word "Shalom" is a greeting as well as a final word. I love that word. Why wait to use it? Well?
Having entered the fray of the holiday frenzy yesterday, I find that I am now committed to the ritual creation of light and heat for the duration. Tonight is my last unscheduled evening until - let's see - 2012? OK, I'm exaggerating a bit.
I am very lucky to have so many wonderful friends here in this crazy, beautiful, intense, wounded city, friends who have invited me to spend time feasting and toasting with them as we approach winter solstice.
Life is short. My strategy for the next few weeks? Celebrate. Have dessert first. L'chaim!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Here in the northern hemisphere, we're bearing down hard on winter solstice. It gets dark at 5:00 pm and isn't light again until 7:00 a.m. It's cold and windy and ... well ... you might think that our tendency would be to tuck ourselves under a warm blanket and drink tea until the spring thaw. But no, we humans - at least we humans here in Washington DC - crank everything up at notch or two or three at this time of year.
Yep. We enter into a holiday FRENZY of activity: shopping, wrapping, standing in line for hours at the post office. We go out to eat and drink, we put tiny, sparkling strings of lights outdoors and indoors, and of course we bring a little bit of the evergreen forest into our houses. We bake cookies, bread. We give gifts, host parties, attend parties. We stretch ourselves thin at this time of year, always.
According to the cosmology of Reya, what we're up to is instinctual - we are generating light and heat with all our activities. The frenzy is a ritual of triumph over the darkness. All the gift buying, wrapping and giving is, at some level, an offering so as to insure the return of the light after solstice.
Some of what transpires over the holidays is fun: the gatherings, for instance, and all the drinking and eating is pretty fun, too. The frenzy part of it all is exhausting, but we rise to the occasion, year after year. We humans are, in many ways, such noble, valiant animals. We will NOT let the darkness bring us down. Oh no. No way.
After New Year's Day, then we can get under a warm blanket with tea and books. By January 1 it's pretty clear that the light will return, that all our heat-light generating activities and offerings have been accepted by Brother Sun. Whew! New Year's Day is always such a relief!
Today I'm going to leave all thoughts about the Holocaust, Baby Boom and Krakow behind while I enter into the fray. I'm going to bake, shop, go to the post office, thereby insuring the return of the Sun after solstice. Or so goes my theory. A little bit of holiday frenzy is a good thing, yes? I say yes. Let there be light!
At the house on Tennessee Avenue, the outdoor light display is truly fabulous - it looks like a comet is streaming past. Very cool.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I spent hours today in the library at the Holocaust Museum, looking at pictures of old Jewish Europe, streets scenes in pre-war Krakow, specifically. Oh the beards! Oh the hats! Wow. We Polish Jews were short and wide, almost Hobbit-like in appearance.
I was careful to avoid looking at any image of the Holocaust itself, steering a wide circle around the pics labeled "Jews being rounded up," "The move into the ghetto," "SS officers shoot Jews" and especially the pics of the camps. I've seen plenty of them, who hasn't?
Think of what it must have been like, at the end of WWII, to see for the first time the photos taken by those who liberated the concentration camps. My mother told me that they knew it was bad, but had no idea just HOW bad it was until they saw those pictures. There's a way in which she never recovered from the shock of learning the awful truth.
Poland was "THE country of the Holocaust" or so said the really nice photo archivist at the museum today. If I go to Krakow I need to be prepared to deal with the energy. Today I looked at images of the living world of Jewish Poland before the war. I'm thinking maybe I'll have to face some of the liberation photos again before I go, learn how to manage my reactions in a healthy way.
I've got my work cut out for me.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
It's freezing in Washington DC, much colder than it usually is in December. Tonight we'll experience a hard freeze with temperatures dipping down into the lower 20s. Brrrr. The wind has been relentless for the last couple of days. It's such a metallic wind, so dry and sharp. This wind cuts through even the warmest clothes. Walking around on a day like today is not pleasant, believe me.
Anyone who knows me understands that I pay attention to the weather. When the weather gods say Chill, bella, I listen and comply. Hence I will resist the urge to write about all the things that are coming through me for at least one more day.
Though, can I just mention briefly how much I've been thinking about the counterculture of the late 1960's, especially the peace-loving hippies? I'm thinking, if the souls of those who died in the Holocaust, especially in the camps, were reborn, wouldn't it make sense that those souls, reincarnated en masse during the baby boom, would want to live communally, love freely and openly? They shaved our heads in the camps, so of course we grew our hair as long as possible, of course we really hated the war in Vietnam, of course we embraced "flower power." We didn't see too many flowers in the camps, believe me. It's kind of a no brainer, eh? After living in fear, being starved, tortured, humiliated and murdered, of course we did everything we could to live without shame, liberated from every societal restriction.
Oops, I'm slipping back into it. As I typed that paragraph, Brother Wind gusted hard against the window. OK, I'm stopping now. Today I'll clean the chateau, run a couple of errands, meet a friend for dinner, a dinner that I hope will taste the way it's supposed to. I don't have to figure it all out as soon as possible, I don't have to encounter the dementors every day, right? Right. Right on. Shalom.
See the Capitol? It's completely hidden all summer by the thick tree canopy. The leaves are almost all gone now.
Monday, December 6, 2010
The problem with being a mystic is that we're "too sensitive." Even before I began practicing the art, I was labeled Too Sensitive by my parents, family and teachers. After that, I spent many many years learning to listen, even more sensitively, to the subtle energies. I practiced the art of seeing the unseen, cultivated my sense of the world as a living being that is constantly communicating its marvels and perils. I still practice, every day. Dolly Parton says, "Find out who you are and do it on purpose." I have taken her advice to heart!
In massage school my great teacher Judy Topaz (even her name was great) had those of us in her class close our eyes. She passed around various objects, like little fabric pouches full of ball bearings or beads, or intricately stitched pieces of embroidery. We were invited to explore these things through touch only, heightening our ability to locate areas of congestion and other situations through the skin of our future clients. I loved the exercise in which we placed a single strand of hair or thread under a piece of paper, then located it with our fingertips. Next, we placed a second sheet of paper on top, found the hair through touch. And on and on until we couldn't feel the hair under the sheets of paper.
Neurologists say that the reason blind people develop such great hearing, smell and touch is because in their brains the maps for these senses are much larger and more complex. They have space in their brains because the visual cortex isn't active. In bodyworkers and mystics, the brain maps for what is barely noticeable to John Q. Public must be vast indeed. I bet mine is!
So it figures that when I come into contact with a huge energy field such as the Holocaust, for instance - or the Civil War, something I worked with extensively a few years ago - the impact of that contact is rather bigger than maybe it would be for someone who isn't "too sensitive."
I really need to take it easy with whatever is coming through my heart/mind about the baby boom and the Holocaust. The last few days I have looked very bedraggled even though I've had plenty of sleep. Everything I've eated has tasted really weird - except chocolate. I told a friend last night that connecting with the oversoul of WWII through the family connection of my ancestors who died in the Holocaust is like an encounter with the dementors. It really is. And I'm no Harry Potter!
There's so much in my mind/heart, I could write a book I swear. But I'm going to take a break today, think about lighter things, put the thoughts about the baby boom, the Holocaust, aside until tomorrow (at least). Tra-la. L'chaim. Oh yeah.