Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Essence of Oh Yeah

It could be downright unnerving to re-examine my baseline assumptions, as I have been recently. Certainly, as a creature of habit, I love to dig in my heels. Yeah. I tend to congeal around points of view for various reasons, such as if I think a certain outlook or position is "fair" or "good." I can get so entrenched in my opinions that over time they become, in my mind, unassailable, like laws of nature. For heaven's sake. But sometimes it's a relief to lift the grid of my "truths," have a peek at what's underneath them. This is my current experience: moments of Ah-ha! followed by relief.

The shedding of my ossified world view began at the end of last month when my dear houseguests held a mirror up, offered me alternative thoughts about situations and friendships, ideas I had never even considered. Wow. Ever since then, Hagalaz has appeared regularly in my morning divinations, helping me continue to pierce through old, rigid thought patterns. Even my opinion about that rune has changed. I used to throw it back in the bag, now I respectfully accept its presence.

Yesterday when I pulled Hagalaz yet again, I heard the words, "Be the hailstone." Later, as I was meditating, I heard, "Be a gentle hailstone." Now that's something, eh? A gentle hailstone. I'm intrigued with the idea since hail is usually not something I associate with gentleness. I love the paradox, and too, my recent experience of being pelted with hail externally as well as within my own mind, has not been harsh, but revelatory. Layers and veils have been pulled away from my eyes, revealing some uncomfortable truths, but have also, in many ways, set my world straight again.

Yesterday I was a gentle hailstone, speaking newly realized truths to a number of people. My hope is that I said what I needed to with light-hearted respect. That was my intention.

The older I get, the more I realize how deeply I love the people who are important to me. I can be very codependent, I can support others in clearly unhealthy behaviors because it feels, sometimes, like unconditional love. What I'm working with this week, as a gentle hailstone, is being brave enough to say what I see, with love and kindness.

The people who are important to me are getting a piece of my mind these days, but not with rancor or anger, nope, nor am I hoping that they'll see things my way. I'm simply telling the truth. It's not the easiest thing to do, sometimes, but it feels right. Thanks, Hagalaz. Really: thanks.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Assume you're just making it up ... because you are!

As if I didn't already spend a lot of time doubting my perceptions, this article from last week's New Yorker has convinced me, all over again, that most of what every one of us considers "real" is, as they say in the article, "the best possible story" our brains can come up with.

It's a long article, but well worth reading. Stick with it because at the very end there's a bit about Brian Eno wrangling a bunch of drummers so that the scientists can see if their brains are truly different than everyone else's (because their sense of timing is so precise). Guess what? Drummers' brains ARE different. Very cool.

The current trend in neuroscience, to think of the brain as plastic, (i.e. changeable, adaptable, an organ that can re-route as necessary to get its job done), is a very good thing, the best possible story to describe how the grey goop inside our skulls functions. Only a few years ago, we thought of the brain as a hardwired machine, a point of view that didn't give us a lot of wiggle room in terms of function, yes? Now that our brains are officially plastic (according to the people who study brain function), so many more things are possible. Just since the shift in the way we think about the brain, scientists and doctors have begun to notice that allegedly brain-dead patients might not be, and have found ways to help people who suffer from all manner of neurological disorders by re-routing their neural networks. I don't think it's a coincidence; I think the change in our baseline assumptions about the brain allowed those people to open their eyes, to think outside the hardwired box.

All I'm saying is, since we create reality by editing and judging sensory input, why not give ourselves as much space to evolve and adapt as possible, eh? Why not?

I wonder about the brain chemistry of the birthers, who will not, who can not, apparently, think of our president as a citizen of the United States. What is going on in their neural networks? Where's the road-block? The blind spot? It's interesting - and creepy - to think about.

No matter how you see the world, no matter how sure you are that you found your fourteen year old cat, for instance, cultivate a light-hearted skepticism. Take it all with a grain of salt. Yes? I say yes.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Welcome to the Real World

My eyes are open. Wonder what I'll see today ...

The above was the last line in yesterday's post. What I saw straightaway after posting was a dead bird on my front steps. Seriously, can you make this stuff up? Nope, no way. Here is a pic of the bird. I added the photoshop effect called "diffuse glow" because the energy around this very tiny bird was so gentle. It was placed in the middle of the middle step, as if by loving hands, just for me. There were no ruffled feathers, broken bones, rips, tears or other evidence of foul play.

When I saw the bird, the first thing that came into my mind was the following poem. I have always loved this poem, ever since I was a tiny girl. It expresses perfectly the shamanic experience. I didn't know the words shamanic experience when I was 4 years old, but I really "got" the poem.

Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where i sit.
there isn't any
other stair
quite like
i'm not at the bottom,
i'm not at the top;
so this is the stair
I always

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up
And it isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery,
It isn't in town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head.
It isn't really
It's somewhere else

Right after my encounter with the dead warbler, before I had a chance to take in what had just happened, I experienced a moment of elegant synchronicity: I ran into my friend Rod who knows all about this sort of thing since he spends his summers in a beautiful house in the mountains of W. Virginia above the Potomac River. He has had to figure out how to deal with many dead animals in and around his house, so he was the perfect person to see at that moment. He advised me to dig a hole and bury the bird in the garden. This sort of situation does not rattle him at all. It was clear that I could just drop the idea of freaking out, and instead adopt his no-nonsense approach.

With light-hearted respect, I dug a hole, scooped up the bird and gently buried it. It felt like I was planting it. The rest of my day unfolded without a lot of fanfare, fretting, or wringing of hands.

Life is such a trip! Today's cards and rune promise more revelations. I'll keep breathing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Unfortunate Assumptions

As part of beginning my exploration into recent, frequent appearance of Hagalaz, i.e. what needs to break in order to make room for the new, I've been watching this TED talk by Kathryn Schulz about being wrong. She says being wrong feels exactly like being right. It's the moment of realizing you're wrong that's embarrassing. She says, "The miracle of your mind isn't that you see the world as it is, it's that you see the world as it isn't." Oh man, that is so true. Incredible talk, well worth watching - at least I believe I'm right about that!

I'm thinking this morning about a friend whose cat ran away last winter. For five weeks this friend searched her neighborhood for her beloved cat of 14 years. At last she spotted her cat in an alley with a bunch of feral cats. She sat out in that alley every day for a couple of weeks, trying to coax her beloved cat to come home. She worked with some people who trap feral cats in order to have them spayed/neutered, then return them to the wild, she talked to a pet psychic, and a pet behaviorist. She even lit a candle, which is extraordinary, since she is a non-believer. (I guess it's extraordinary, too, that she contacted the psychic.) She was determined - and desperate - to bring her cat home.

At last she enticed her cat into the cat carrier. She thought the drama was over. But the cat was traumatized; wouldn't come out of the basement, wouldn't relate to the other cat in my friend's home. Just recently she started treating her cat with Prozac, trying to coax her back to her normal behavior.

On Easter morning, her 14 year old, spayed cat gave birth to four kittens. Even so, my friend refused to believe this was not her cat. She said she would bet her life on her belief that this was her cat. A trip to the vet confirmed that this cat, the one she brought in from the alley, is definitely a young, fertile, feral cat, NOT my friend's cat.

When her old, spayed cat gave birth to kittens, that was a Hagalaz moment, oh yeah.

This morning I pulled Kenaz, the torch rune, which reflects the energy of enlightenment; it's about the moment when you GET it, when you see through the false assumption, when the fog dissipates, the ah-ha. This is often a very sad moment. For my friend kenaz would refer to the moment when the vet confirmed that this cat is NOT her old cat.

I don't have big plans for today - grocery shopping and maybe a walk depending on how much green dust is flying around. No matter what, I'll be opening my mind and heart today, hoping the lightbulb above my head lights up. What am I not seeing? What do I think is absolutely RIGHT or TRUE that perhaps is not as solid as I thought it was? What am I so SURE about that I would stake my life on it?

My eyes are open. Wonder what I'll see today ...

Monday, April 25, 2011


Every morning as part of my daily practice, I shuffle tarot and animal oracle cards, then choose one of each, sight unseen. I also shake my bag of runestones, reach in, and retrieve one rune. It's fun, and too the cards offer a peek around a corner of time/space; they act as beacons for the day ahead.

That said, if I see a card or a rune I don't like, I'm always happy to choose another. After all, as my teacher said long ago, the cards are pieces of cardboard. If the image is helpful, great. If it isn't helpful, place the piece of cardboard back in the deck.

Is that cheating? Well ...

Perhaps, by choosing another card, I am shifting the energies at hand from discouraging to encouraging. Or maybe I'm cheating, who knows?

One of the runes I always throw back into the mix is Hagalaz. Yeah. When I see that rune, I can't throw it back soon enough. It is not a gentle portent, oh no. Hagalaz is the hailstone, literally. It represents a dynamic energy that breaks up the old to make way for the new. I tend to throw it back every time because I've seen enough drama, I've worked my way through so many transformations in this lifetime. I'm leaning into peaceful and content as a lifestyle from now on, or so I would like to. Enough is enough, yes? I say yes.

And yet, I pull Hagalaz often, you wouldn't believe how often, especially recently. I tell myself that the frequency with which I've grabbed Hagalaz lately reflects the current situation in the world: all of us are engaged in the process of personal and collective re-invention. I've thought of other excuses for the frequent appearance of Hagalaz as well.

I'm only mentioning it today because last night, on my way home from dinner with dear friends, the sky opened unexpectedly. Lightning flashed, thunder boomed, rain poured down and ... yeah ... just two blocks from my house, I was pelted with hail. It was gentle hail, only pea-sized, but c'mon. How many times must Hagalaz tap me on the shoulder?

Since I could not throw these hailstones back into the sky, I stopped, allowed myself to be drenched and pelted, and prayed, right then and there. What is it in my life that needs to be broken so I can start fresh? Is it a state of mind? Or something more manifest? A belief system? What? I'm going to take this seriously now, no more cheating, no more pushing Hagalaz away.

Exactly at the moment I typed that last sentence, someone outside the chateau started breaking up something (street? sidewalk?) with a jack hammer. You can not make this stuff up. OK I'm listening, I really am. My eyes are open. What needs to give? What?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Just as I hoped it would be

In a little while I'm going to put on my new dress, pull my hair up so as to appear halfway respectable, and go to church. My friend and I are taking the scenic route, along Sligo Creek, to Easter mass at the Polish Catholic church in Silver Spring. The entire service is in Polish, which will be wonderful to listen to. Languages I don't speak are music to my ears; I mean that literally. And you remember that music saves my life, yes? I say yes.

After church, we're going to brunch. BRUNCH! Yes. I never go to brunch because I almost always work on Sundays unless I'm ill or out of town. I am taking the day off to celebrate Easter. Oh yeah!

As if to dance in shamanic alignment with my happy mood this morning, the weather gods have swept away the rain and clouds, leaving the air clean and bright, full of sunshine and birdsong. It's a beautiful day to dress up, go to church and then to brunch.

Happy Easter to all who observe it. Happy Sunday to everyone else. Shalom.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

In a peaceful space

All around me, people are in crisis. Their beloved pets have died or are just about to, or they've lost a family member. Some have received terrible diagnoses after enduring endless, painful, frightening medical tests.

In the past I would have been waiting for something awful to happen to me, too. I would have decided it was inevitable that the other shoe would drop. What I'm feeling today is lucky, grounded, and in good spirits. Because at this exact moment in time, nothing is going wrong in my life, I can stand tall for all the people around me who are struggling. Never in my whole life has it been so easy to be of service to these people, as a friend, healer or by providing the benefits of simple therapeutic massage.

It's not a happy situation but I am grateful, my heart is peaceful. The times in my life during which I needed a strong shoulder to cry on, someone was always there for me. Right now my job is to be there for others. I am thankful.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Give it up

Good Friday dawned rather gray and gloomy in Washington DC, which seems absolutely perfect considering the fact that for Christians, this is the day their messiah left his earthly form by way of a slow, brutal, painful death. When the Christians I know talk about their faith, they always assure me it's the rising of Christ on Easter Sunday that is the center of the religion. It's hard for me to believe them, though, since the symbol of Christianity refers specifically - sometimes quite graphically - or at least symbolically, to his death.

One of my great teachers explained Christianity this way: "In that religion, the God experiences, in his body, what we go through." Well, wow. That makes sense.

However you look at it, Good Friday is about giving it up, letting go, releasing everything, even hope. On Good Friday, it's OK to grieve. That's powerful. Though I'll work today, I'll be meditating on how hard it is to say goodbye to anything, everything, everyone.

Yesterday I said goodbye to the dog featured on the sidebar. She lived a long life and though I feel sad, I know it was time. This is one of the things about growing older that I value above almost everything else: coming to terms with letting go. Yeah.

Good Friday, y'all. Have a wonderful day, but then, give it up tonight, let go and move on to Saturday, yes? I say yes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Music Saves My Life

Yes I am given to dramatic statements, I know, but the title of this post is no exaggeration. During the lowest, most wretched, heinous, hideous, horrible times of my life, music was my lifeline, keeping me tethered to the light, to the life force, until whatever personal storm I was enduring had passed.

During high school it was Motown and especially soul music that kept me from going off the deep end. Thank you Otis Redding! Thanks, James Brown! What would I have done without you? When I reflect on any era of my now rather long life, a soundtrack of the music that got me from one day to the next accompanies my memories.

During my 20's, I used to buy records from the dollar bins at the record store, based only on whim and intuition. It was in that way I discovered Lambert, Hendricks and Ross whose music was crucial during that decade of my life. I also discovered Django Reinhardt via the dollar bins. I could go on, but you get the idea, yes?

I guess itunes is the new dollar bin, isn't it?

All the arts are important, every form helps me become more fully human: kinder, more open minded, more open hearted. But music is the primary art, at least for me. Without music, where would I be? It kind of freaks me out to think about it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If you can't say something nice ...

I love it that Sonny Rollins spent so much time playing his saxophone on the Williamsburg bridge. His decision to do so was very practical - he could play as loudly as he wanted without disturbing anyone. He's a sensitive guy, oh yeah.

What I love about it, though, is thinking about how he poured beauty out into the world every day (weather permitting). Water carries sound powerfully - so there's a way in which, even moreso than in concert, by standing on the bridge and playing his ass off, he was able to infuse the world with his beautiful music. (Here's a tiny pic of him playing on the bridge.)

Something else I love: when people think before they speak. I believe the Buddhists call it "right speech." Oh yeah.

I hear stories every day from clients and friends about alleged healers, including doctors, psychic readers, midwives, massage therapists and every other kind of healer, of the most heinously NOT RIGHT speech. It gets on my last nerve.

Not saying here that I am always in synch with right speech, but when someone is lying on the treatment table, disrobed and vulnerable, I am VERY careful about what I say. When people put themselves into a passive yoga like that, in order to receive healing, anything I say is likely to go in at a deep level.

One of my friends and teachers sometimes asks people who say stupid things, "What kind of reaction were you hoping to achieve by saying that?" This is a smart question - wow - and perhaps easier to ask when one is upright, fully clothed and coherent. Among friends, or during a lively discussion, things are often said too hastily, or thoughtlessly. I've stuffed my foot in my mouth repeatedly in social situations, oh yeah.

But for healers, there should be a filter, always, always. What we say is like Sonny Rollins playing his saxophone under the bridge: it goes out into the world, into the hearts of our clients. There is no way to take it back. What we say should be as beautiful as possible. Or we should keep our mouths shut.

May we all speak thoughtfully whenever we can! So may it be. Shalom.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Springtime in DC has gone way over the top.

Though I am not at all observant, except in a philosophical way, the rhythms of Judaism pervade my being. I don't have to look at a calendar to know when the big holidays are ongoing; I feel the holidays in my bones, I really do. Most years the trip across the desert, i.e. the week of Passover, feels like a slog. I often feel very dry or easily overheated. Some years it's so hard to put one foot in front of the other, to cross the last dregs of winter.

This year, maybe because Passover is so late, I'm tripping through a fairyland desert of pouffy cherry blossoms overhead, iris and tulips at ground level, and birdsong all around. Lilacs and wysteria are fragrant and buzzing with bees. The air is soft and warm. The trees have popped; there is green dust everywhere.

People say that during the brief moments when the desert is in bloom, the landscape is magically transformed into a place of color and brightness. I'm feeling that, oh yeah.

This year my quest for the promised land includes dinner with someone I adore here at the chateau, an out of town guest, a birthday party, a very unusual Sunday off of work - and - last but never least: BRUNCH.

Brunch! I never go to brunch because I usually work on the weekends.

What a spectacular trek across the desert this year, eh? One thing I sense very powerfully is that the fairies are all around, helping make this year's Passover more of a par-tay than a schep. Hey sparkling bright cousins, you fairy folk? Rock this Passover, dudes! Oh yeah. And ... THANK YOU!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Say Yes to the Quest

I woke up happy this morning after a night of sublime dreams and luxurious sleep during which there was never a moment when I found myself searching for a car. YAY!! There was one wheeled vehicle in the dream, a rustic ox cart that my mother had loaded with a bunch of old stuff she no longer needed. The cart was stacked high with clothes, neatly folded and sorted according to color. Even in the dream I was thinking, "her chakras must be SO clean." My mother was headed to the second hand shop to say goodbye to unnecessary baggage. That is a Really Good Dream.

Following the trail of lost cars, night after night, lead me at last to the gleaming white marble resort that seems a whole lot like the in-between-lives place if you ask me. Wouldn't heaven be a gleaming white marble resort? Well?? The final dream from that series brought many revelations, so many, wow. Now in the aftermath of all that looking but never finding, I feel grateful. It was the searching that mattered, it was the quest that provided the insights. My very wise and insightful sister Hannah, when I consulted her about this dream series, said, Morph frustration into gratitude. I had no idea what she was talking about at the time, but as it turns out, she was absolutely correct. Wow.

The quest is the hero's journey, yes? I say yes. So did Joseph Campbell and a lot of other very smart people. Undertake quests with gratitude, not frustration, yes? My sister Hannah says yes.

Tonight is the first night of Passover, the quest we Jews take every year. Last night's dream in which my mother was cleaning out her closets reminded me of the scrupulous housecleaning that is a part of the beginning of Passover. Traditionally we are supposed to find every crumb of leavened bread, scrub away anything that even resembles yeast-risen food. That cleaning is a metaphor for finding and cleaning up all the little bits of ourselves that resist growing and learning.

Quest in the form of questions is a big part of Passover. There are the four classic questions that are given to children to ask, but the Seder itself is a setting in which everyone is supposed to ask questions. Questions indicate a desire to learn and grow. Asking opens a space into which wisdom can flow.

Looking back now on the series of car dreams, I feel that in some very core way (not consciously) I have been aligning myself with the quests that mark this time of year: searching for the strength to let go of everything in order to cross the desert, for instance, or to bear the grief of Jesus's incomprehensible death, also the joy of his incomprehensible rising (the Easter version of the same idea).

I feel clean and ready to undertake the journey, and I am grateful. All aboard!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


What a storm last night, wow. For awhile around sunset, there was actually a tornado warning somewhere close, a rotating cloud was headed towards DC from NoVa. The wind was blowing from every direction at once, it seemed. Sometimes rain fell in sheets, other times it was "just" raining. The lightning and thunder did not seem in any way connected to each other. I'm telling you, everything about the storm was completely chaotic.

Every storm has its own personality. Last night's storm was giddy, goofy. It staggered around like a drunk, made me laugh even as my umbrella turned inside out a couple of times. I was laughing before I found out about the tornado warning, should say. Probably it would have been best to avoid being out there at all, but following a full day of work, I headed straightaway, as if by instinct, for my port in a storm: the Matchbox Bar. I met a friend, laughed loudly and drank toasts to the god of thunder. It was jolly.

But then last night I dreamed - again - I was searching for my car, this time in a gleaming white marble resort. The car, too, was white, a classic old car from the early 1950's. I had to find the car because my sister wasn't feeling well and I needed to drive her home. Staircases lead us to the roof of the resort after which we had to walk through the apartment of some guy who owned dozens of cats in order to re-locate the parking garage. My sister's eyes looked cloudy; I really wanted to get her home to rest. But I never found the car.

Maybe after the full moon turns today, this dream theme will fade. I really hope so. I was so SURE that the storm last night would break the energy. When will I learn that nothing is ever for sure?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's the journey, not the destination??

In last night's dream, the vehicles I had to contend with were bicycles that had been dropped off a bridge or perhaps run over by a tour bus. In the dream, the anonymous dream people and I were trying to straighten the bike frames though we possessed only one pair of pliers among all of us. I kept saying, "Let's just walk," but of course the anonymous dream people did not listen. They never do, at least in my dreams.

The theme of how to get from Point A to Point B is so much a part of my dreamscape these days that I became lucid in last night's dream, just for a second. I said to someone I recognized (but now do not remember who it was) "I need to remember everything about this dream." In response, the person handed me a beautiful cobalt blue stapler, and nodded sagely.

Well, it made sense in the dream, but now I'm wondering how a blue stapler could help me remember ... though, I do remember the dream in great detail. So - go figure.

Until I have to go to work this morning, I'll be praying about this series of vehicular dreams. What am I trying to work out? I know there's something I'm supposed to be learning, but as usual, my conscious mind is the last to know. Ideas? Theories?

Friday, April 15, 2011


I've been dreaming hard lately, have you? All the dreams have had different settings and different moods, but they are all about getting from Point A to Point B. I'm trying to figure something out at a very deep level, clearly. In my dreams I am driving around in big station wagons, or searching for my rental car in a parking garage, or just walking around. Last night my friend Linda and I (in the dream) were descending from the top of a very tall mountain which was also my old neighborhood of Bernal Heights in San Francisco, in search of a cafe. We walked through clouds, across snowy fields, climbed down steep, rocky trails, traversed a labrythine maze of streets. Never did find a cafe in the dream, though.

Even in waking life, I'm wandering a lot these days. Yesterday I walked for hours all around the District of Columbia. Usually I walk until I get tired or run out of time, then find a Metro station and head back to the Hill. Yesterday I lapsed into an altered consciousness, no doubt related to the gloriously perfect weather, birdsong, dogwood blossoms and bright green baby leaves bursting open everywhere. The blue sky and perfect temperature, the fact that Brother Wind was nowhere to be seen - well - I got high on all that color and perfection.

When I walk, there is almost always a rhythm: wander, take pics, then periodically stop, take a break, drink iced tea while sitting, watching people and such. Yesterday I was not interested in stopping, not even once, to seek refreshment. I walked and walked and walked. It was actually a bit disorienting, but in a very euphoric way. Almost everything about my walk yesterday was dream-like.

The good part is, I have at least a million pictures. OK, maybe not that many. A lot, though. The silly piece is: I have a little bit of a sunburn. I should have remembered how strong the sun is at this time of year. The bad part is that I wore crappy shoes because I wanted to show off my newly pedicured toes. Dumb.

Today it's life as usual: clients, music and dinner with a friend. Yesterday was fantastic, but it's good to come back to what I think of as reality. I'm wondering: was yesterday's unusual walk rhythm connected in some way to my recent dream quests? Was I trying (unconsciously) to work through something? Did I succeed? I have no idea. Do you?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Play it again, Sam

With thanks to my friend Jo, whose blog post helped me articulate the following.

What is an old soul? If you ask me, all of our souls are ancient. We come from the stars, from the Big Bang, maybe from before that. Young souls? I don't believe there's anything new under the sun.

Some of us can remember better than others. Maybe I should have put the word "remember" in quotes, because it isn't always a conscious memory. Sometimes there is simply a resonance of soul history that pervades the individual stories each person carries around. Some of the oldest souls around (I mean the folks whose spiritual lineage is palpable) are the ones who say Be here now. Live in the moment; this moment, right now. Even as they make these statements, there is the reverb of ancient wisdom coming through. It's kind of ironic, isn't it?

My spirit guides tell me I'm close to finishing a long set of lifetimes during which I've been learning about service. I've been a maid, cook, nurse, gardener, and servant so many times, you would not believe it. Apparently, service was a tough pill to swallow for my soul (if indeed souls can swallow, or, for that matter, be too proud to serve others). I'm learning this lesson however, and am perhaps not going to have to come back again in this capacity: we shall see. When my guides intimate that I might be able to complete this set of lifetimes at the end of my current life, it's almost as if they're winking and smiling at me. Almost.

I remember a long set of lifetimes before this set, one in which I was a warrior. I was never a stellar example in that set of lives - just a regular foot soldier, and not very good even at that. I remember the Ice Age, (or so I think I do), when everyone was a shaman, hunter, warrior and healer - everyone. There was no separating ourselves from mother earth and father sky back then. Modern human consciousness was still developing. All of those lives were nearly identical.

One of my great teachers used to say that if you want to remember past lives, then, at the moment of death, be sure to leave your body through the crown chakra. Clearly I have done this over and over again.

All this leads me to understand why I feel old, always have felt old. I started calling myself "old" at age thirty-five. Now that seems so funny, but in light of yesterday's reflections and thoughts, I realize I've been eager to grow old all my life. No wonder I was aloof in high school and such a wreck as a younger adult! I was SO uncomfortable in my youthful body.

Even now, at age 58, I am "young." I don't have a lot of wrinkles, gravity hasn't taken control of certain parts of my body yet, and I have lots of energy. One trophy of old age I can claim is my gray hair. I love it so much! I can relate to my gray hair.

Please understand, I am not complaining, no way! I'm VERY grateful to be so healthy and hearty, and too I know I'm silly to keep wishing for old age. It's ridiculous, but you see, I remember, I really do. Hence my infatuation with being old.

OK, 'nuff said about this one! The sun is FINALLY shining in DC this morning. I'm going to take a big walk this morning, oh yeah. I'm outta here. Shalom.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Swamp Things

Mythologies are not invented; they are found. --Joseph Campbell

What are myths, folktales, legends? Joseph Campbell thought a lot about this question, wrote about it, talked about it. Bless his heart for all his great work.

I've been thinking about him lately in part because I know a lot of people who are engaged in slaying dragons, cutting off gorgon heads, retrieving golden fleece and all the other heroic acts that are a part of the dramatic plotline of every human's life. Whew!

There are inner mythologies and folktales, the themes of which accompany life's unfolding rites of passage, but I think there are also larger, more overarching myths that come from the landscape, weather patterns, and seasons. Naturally these myths vary according to the region. For instance, The Snow Queen is a Scandinavian folktale, part of the landscape of Denmark, Finland, Lapland and the north pole. (Many thanks to Hans Christian Andersen, who did a beautiful job of transcribing one of my very favorite stories of all time.) There is no such story indigenous to Tanzania or Hawaii. Those places have their own stories.

For a few years I taught witch camp in Somerset County in England, close to Glastonbury. That land was the inspiration for the Arthurian legends. The rolling hills and mist in the mornings, the springs, the quality of the air, chalky dirt and clear water feels Arthurian. It really does - I'm not the first nor will I be the last person to feel that myth underfoot in that place.

I always wonder how much of the mythology that underlies our form of government came from the landscape of the northeast coast of the what is now America. The Indians of the northeast Iroquois nations certainly picked up a vibration that inspired them to bring together warring tribes into a Grand Council of "peace and power." Coming together, settling their differences, made that nation powerful and cohesive.

Later on, our founding fathers tried the same thing, though of course their version was a lot more European in flavor than the Iroquois League of Peace and Power.

But then our founding fathers moved the seat of government south to the midatlantic. They took a myth born in a place of rocks and harsh winters, of nor'easters and hardwood forests, planted the fruits of that mythology into a very different landscape. Here in the American midatlantic the land is fertile, fecund. The air gets thick in the summer, life force buzzes audibly. The land vibrates with primal power, perhaps giving those who take that energy to heart the idea that they are invincible. Farther north, people had to band together in order to survive. Here the livin' is easier.

What happened when our founding fathers moved the center of government to a swamp where the law of the jungle supercedes all of the lovely, high minded energies of the original American myth? It can't be good.

People get elected in other, very different landscapes. They have Big Ideas about coming to Washington, about how it's going to work. Then they arrive and get mired in the swampy myth cycle. After that, things slow down, get stuck, become rotten.

Perhaps I should switch off NPR for a few days, stop listening to various Republican congresspeople who are saying the most absolutely crazy things, yes? I, too, can get mired in the swampy vibe of midatlantic mythology. I should be more careful. Oh yeah. Step slowly away from the radio, Reya. OK? OK.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Full Circle

I used to hate going to bars. Last night I was trying to remember when that changed, trying to follow the sequence of events during which the Matchbox Bar on Capitol Hill became one of my power spots. How could that be? A bar?? Weird.

After several years of working in restaurants and bars, I became weary of the noise, the vibe. When I quit working in restaurants, a part of me believed I would never again understand the infatuation people have with restaurants.

Time passed, and, too, smoking is now prohibited - which makes a big difference. Also, my professional and personal life are both very quiet, subdued. At work it's just me and my client in a peaceful, healing atmosphere in which neither one of us speaks. We listen to music while I go about my work: dancing, sculpting and praying. There is an almost reverent atmosphere in the treatment room. At home there are times when I'm dancing around, or cooking, but still, it's just me.

Sometimes it's great to place myself in the midst of a lot of people, to bellow over the cacaphony of rowdy folks drinking and eating. In fact, going out for lunch, dinner and/or drinks is my favorite way to hang out with friends.

And now I am a bit appalled, also a bit tickled, to realize that somehow, unbeknownst to me, the Matchbox Bar has become a Reya-power spot, every bit as potent as the Summerhouse on the Capitol Grounds, or the banks of the Potomac River (both of those locations are also Reya-power spots, i.e. places where I gather energy and life force).

As Renee and I left the Matchbox last night, one of my favorite bartenders said, "Goodnight my friends." We ARE his friends, that's the crazy thing. We really are. OK, so maybe I should put that old TV series "Cheers" in the netflix queue? Maybe.

We named the woman on the right side of the pic "Queen Mab" because of her beautiful red hair, white skin and the fact that she was wearing a satiny, kelly green skirt. The woman looking at the camera is another regular, someone who met her true love while sitting at the bar.

Monday, April 11, 2011


DISCLAIMER: This one contains more about ME and about MY SELF-ESTEEM, or lack thereof. Me, me, ME!! Gross. Anyway if you're not in a mood to read about my navel gazing, please move on to the next blog, yes? Oh my, yes. END DISCLAIMER

You would not believe how many people have told me they KNOW how to fix the U.S. budget. Some of them even say it would be simple. "Just do this ..." Or "Just do that ..." I love some of the solutions I've heard - other ideas simply startle me. A few scare the bejesus outta me. Whew! But ... it's not the content of these simple solutions that strikes me; rather it's the conviction of the people who think they really know how to fix everything. Wow.

The brilliant Barry of Astrobarry: Astrology for People Who Think contends that self-doubt is just emotional exhaustion, or so he says in his horoscope forecasts this week. After enduring the toxic energy of the final days of last week, during which the deal was struck, at the last minute, that derailed a government shut-down, I, for one, am not only emotionally exhausted but physically and spiritually exhausted as well. I'm toast! Whoa, you would not believe what Capitol Hill felt like by Friday. I'm kind of amazed that anyone has the juice to feel outraged about it all, or convinced that they know the "right" answer, but indeed there are plenty of folks out there full of conviction, outrage, and answers.


Recent thoughts about my lack of self-esteem revolve around the idea that I don't have deep reserves of natal energy (according to the Sufi acupuncturist) so maybe my emotional reserves run dry more easily than others, therefore I can not muster the conviction that other, sturdier folks have in spades. I'm wondering about this.

Another thing that's absolutely true is that I have purposely cultivated self-doubt about my perceptions because ... I talk to dead people. I'm not the first, nor the last human on earth to talk to ghosts, to relate to Brother Wind as a being, work with spirit guides and animal guides, to dance shamanically with energies that no regular person is aware of and such, but it's not acceptable in my society here in the 21st century to believe and behave as I do. In order to stay balanced and keep my good humor, I must constantly remind myself that I might be making it all up. Hence, I create self-doubt, which inevitably picks apart self-esteem, yes?

What is real, anyway? I just read a review of Oliver Sacks' new book about the plasticity of perception. Did you know there is no such thing as color? Our brains invent color in order to help organize the information that enters the brain through our eyes.

After reading that review, I wondered how it is that we came to believe there is one objective reality, how in the world we function as if we're all on the same page. How can anyone be convinced that they know the answer to anything?

Just thinking about all this is overwhelming ... time to jump in the shower, put all my concerns on the back burner, and get ready for work this afternoon. I have three clients in serious need of my utmost attention today. Onwards & upwards!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Interesting Conversations

I've got a big day of work ahead of me. More than one of my clients is/was involved in the making of the deal that helped avert a government shutdown at the last minute Friday. I can only imagine what kind of shape these people are in, which is why I spent an extra-long time breathing and meditating this morning. I'll need to be at the very top of my game today. The conversations that precede the bodywork should prove to be very interesting as well. Some day I'm going to write a book. Oh yeah.

Last night, one of my favorite Matchbox bartenders asked me to show him how to make contact with a spirit guide. This is a very young guy, smart, cool, and did I mention really CUTE? I am thinking very seriously about how to answer his question. Should I write something about how I think he should go about it? Suggest he come in for a session of trance in which he can meet and connect with his guide(s)? Both? However we go about it, it's going to make for interesting conversations.

A friend has an ancient dog, suffering from so many maladies, most recently a large, cancerous tumor in her mouth. It is time for him to say goodbye to his beloved dog, but he is unsure how to muster the courage to make the call. He has asked me to sit down with him and talk about how I finally came to the decision to say goodbye to Jake. Of course I'll tell him the story, of course I will. It will be a rich and interesting exchange, sharing and perhaps helping him take this awful step that is part of being a responsible pet owner. Whew!

I could go on, but you get the picture. This moment in time, at least in my little corner of the District, is providing folks with plenty of grist for the mill. The people around me are seeking answers, pondering big questions, working with deep issues, looking with open eyes and hearts at ways in which they can transform themselves. They are seeking, within their own hearts, ways in which they can avoid emotional and spiritual shutdowns. In their own way these people are dancing in shamanic alignment with what just went down in the Capitol. I'm in awe.

The only way to avoid systemic shutdowns is through change and transformation, which is always difficult and scary. Facing inner conflicts, striking deals between one facet of themselves and another, is hard work! So satisfying, though. This work is good!

Human beings are truly amazing, shining, radiant beings, they really are. I feel very lucky to be included in so many of these interesting conversations. Life is good, full, fascinating. I am grateful. Happy Sunday, y'all. Shalom.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Essence of Esteem

When I woke up this morning, I felt more at ease, but I never know whether I'm picking up on a sea change in the District or if I've simply had a good night's sleep. Down the street in the Capitol, they struck a deal at the very last second last night. Holy cow. Whew.... I am breathing easier.

One thing that every member of Congress has in spades is self-confidence. Every member on both sides of the aisle believes he/she knows what will help bring goodness to the U.S. I think it's self-confidence that helps them get elected, which is interesting to me as right now I am examining my own low levels of self-esteem. I have very high self-esteem professionally. In the treatment room I am comfortable and at ease, but in other parts of my life, not so much.

While they were visiting a couple of weeks ago, two very very dear friends acted as a mirror, reflected back to me a very different reality, in some respects, than my version of my life. It was so interesting. Insights into my deficient self-esteem came streaming into consciousness. Perhaps as interesting is the fact that I was willing to take on their points of view so readily. I believed what they said and saw, even though they were only here for a few days, over what I believe in my own heart of hearts. What is that about??

Clearly I still have a lot of work to do in this area. Maybe that's why I live seven blocks from the Capitol. Maybe I'm here in order to soak up some of the abundant self-confidence that is a part of feng shui of Congress. Do you think? They go to work every day, every one of them, where they face off against people in complete disagreement, but mostly they do not bend to the will of others. They are so sure they're right.

Everybody hates them, or at least feels exasperated that they don't do a better job. Still, they don't stay in bed all day with the covers pulled over their heads. They get up every day, put on their boring suits, and stand tall. How in heck do they do it?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Far Out!

Yep. He's kissing the sky. What a shaman!

The astrological configurations that began earlier this year and will continue through 2017 are, in many ways, similar to what was going on between 1963 and 1968. I was just ten when JFK was assassinated, fifteen during the summer of love. Though I remember clearly how the old paradigm shattered during those years, I was so young that maneuvering through it - shifting my point of view - didn't require a strategy. In 1963, my role model was the character Doris Day played in the movies. By 1968, it was Janis Joplin. Oh yeah - everything changed during those years, but I was an adolescent. From my perspective, it made sense that everything changed, internally as well as externally. In the aftermath of the '60s, I adopted the sex-drugs-rock n roll lifestyle for a number of years. Not only was it fun, but it got me through the day. I think ... I can't really remember those years clearly.

But that was then, and this is now. The energy of what's going on right now feels familiar; still, a little historical context never hurts, right? As a part of my research into strategies to help us through the current tumultuous time, I added Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music to the Netflix queue. The DVDs arrived in the mail this past Tuesday, "coincidentally" in the midst of all the hand wringing, teeth grinding and hard work going on down the street at the Capitol. You can't plan for perfect timing like this - receiving a movie about a peaceful gathering in the midst of contentious engagement? Talk about intelligent design! Wow.

It took me two days to get through the movie. I watched it in chunks, for a few minutes at a time. The experience was so provocative that I had to keep switching it off to reflect, also to marvel. It is a truly brilliant movie in so many ways. Though dated, of course, it speaks volumes about how one segment of American culture made its way through the upheavals of the '60s and '70s. It is a film of a huge, three-day ritual. I learned so much watching that movie again after so many years. Incredible. A year ago I doubt seriously it would have had that kind of impact. Timing is everything.

One way we civilized homo sapiens make our way through paradigm shifts is by gathering, by ritualizing (and thereby clarifying and organizing) the energy of the moment. Woodstock was a grand ritual of peace in spite of difficulty. The people who came to the concert provided serious horsepower for the shamans on stage who, one after the other, punched through a big wall of energy. I think of that congealed wall of energy as the Mad Men status quo. Do you know what I'm talking about? The people at the concert were softened by drugs and alcohol which no doubt helped get them through the horrible conditions of having to live side by side for three days through rainstorms, without adequate food, water or shelter.

I would have been miserable had I attended. I am so grateful to everyone who was a part of that ritual of peace, I really am. I'm sure every moment of the experience could not have been fun. The people there knew Something Was Happening, something more than the music. They stuck with the energy, in spite of the challenges. Wow.

Of course Woodstock was not the only ritual gathering from that time. The demonstrations against the war, also the marches in support of Civil Rights and the Women's Movement, helped organize the energy at hand, helped us recognize the new pattern in the midst of the chaos of change.

Clearly, our ritual gatherings during the current upheaval are taking place here on the network, in the world of blogging, on Facebook and Twitter. We've seen how, in Egypt, for instance, the democratic revolution that knocked Mubarek off his throne was birthed through this new way of gathering.

For a long time I've been trying to figure out why it's so exciting to be a part of the blog universe, why Facebook seems, to me, to be important - i.e. a lot more than a "time suck" as people often say. After seeing Woodstock this week, it's coming to me that through this kind of truly global interconnection, we are being given a glimpse of the pattern that's coming into being, of what is possible to co-create in time/space, of what follows the chaos of these next few years. Staying connected this way, even (or maybe especially) the connections we make to people we've never met in "real" life, will keep us afloat while the current status quo breaks into a million pieces. Nothing is certain, but we have each other. That's what matters right now.

I don't know about you but I am so grateful I don't have to stand in mud, tripping on acid for three days, in order to be a part of the current grand shift. Whew! What a time to be alive. Wow.


Country Joe and the crowd singing "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die." POWERFUL magic, oh yeah

Thursday, April 7, 2011

For heaven's sake

The natural world does not give a rat's ass about the impending government shut-down. No matter how we wring our hands, point fingers, decide how to fix the problem or berate the people we charged with figuring it out, the birds continue to sing, the dogwoods are beginning to open, and the tulips are dancing in gardens all over the city.

I understand the strategy behind the way our brains evolved, particularly the frontal lobes. The intelligent design of brain evolution made it possible to think faster and therefore get away from predators, figure out how to grow food, hunt and such. The way our opposable thumbs evolved is pure genius.

But ... our fast-firing neurons and clever hands are both blessing and curse, yes? I say yes.

We think, therefore we are. We overthink, in fact. Definitely. We: worry, fret, imagine the worst and the best, stress out. We get stuck in our heads all the time. Then there's the opposable thumb problem of wringing hands, finger pointing, fist pounding, giving the finger, or the "up yours" fist gesture ... sigh ... I could go on and on, because I too have the active imagination that comes with an oversized cerebral cortex, and hands smart enough to fly all around the keyboard.

Meanwhile the birds are singing beautifully, the trees are unfurling gracefully. All of DC looks like fairyland - well - except for the people, marching purposefully up and down the streets, brows knitted, shoulders hunched, talking talking on their blackberries.

Me? I'm going to take a big walk today, meet a friend later on for drinks. I can't fix the budget; instead I'll dance in alignment with the rest of the natural world that, in spite of not having a big ole brain, really gets it. Life is short. Carpe diem. Oh yeah.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On the brink

The weeping cherry tree in front of the chateau.

The cherry blossoms are - at last - beginning to flutter. The weather has been so cold that they lasted a lot longer than they usually do. Cherry blossom season, in slow-mo, was rather exquisite.

What's not exquisite is the looming possibility of a government shut down. What that means, seen from a local perspective, is that the Smithsonian would close its doors during the Cherry Blossom Festival, one of the busiest times of the year. That would be a shame, as would the fact that many related events would be cancelled. Hundreds of thousands of government employees would be put on furlough. HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS. Think about it.

And of course everyone will be angry. Imagine me heaving a big sigh. Yikes.

I'm long past thinking I know what should be done to avert the shutdown. I hear people all the time talking about congressional process as if it's a simple matter, as if all the hundreds of members of Congress should simply see things the same way. Working, as I do, with people directly involved in that process, I assure you it is NOT simple.

This morning I will be sending soothing energy towards the Capitol; I'll be hoping, praying, and wishing that one way or another, this crisis can be resolved.

When Congress experiences conflict, we citizens of the District bear much of the brunt. It is not pleasant to live within that energy field. Nope.

May cool heads prevail. Please? C'mon. May it be so.