Monday, August 6, 2012


The shamanic lifestyle is tricky. We live multi-faceted existences with many levels of goings-on, or as my teacher Pandora says, we are so many places doing so many things in this life and in all the lives.

Hell yeah.

In addition to buying clothes, becoming acquainted with my tattoo, slogging through the heat and humidity and of course in addition to my work as a bodyworker/healer, this summer I've been immersed in my memories of the Holocaust.

What I remember is being really afraid. I remember walking a long, long way, carrying heavy things. The only other scene that's clear is in the "showers." I remember the smell, how uncomfortable it was in there with all the naked people in the cold or the heat, can't remember which. It was dark but I remember catching the eye of a woman across the room, she pressed up against the wall by all the people, but with her head turned so she could see me.

It wasn't a particularly meaningful eye contact, though it was a deep connection that brought clarity. As we gazed at each other, the thought came to me, We're done here. It was such a relief!

One of the torches I carry has to do with these memories. I don't know why, but the Holocaust is with me, in me, of me. It's with me when I walk around taking pictures, at the Matchbox bar, in dreams and nightmares. It always has been. Of course I want to put the Holocaust torch on the stack of dead wood with which I will make a cleansing bonfire. And yet this torch is dear to me, essential, you could even say. It's a significant part of my identity and colors my world view, which I'm sure is not exactly a great thing. And yet, there it is.

While I figure out what to do with the Holocaust torch, the shamanic work of preparing for the cleansing bonfire is ongoing, not unlike a movie playing at the back of my mind/heart. The last few days, when I pay attention, I notice I've been unravelling the greasy, moldy rags that are wrapped around the tips of my torches. It's the rags that are moldy, not the sticks themselves. Setting fire to old, greasy, fuel soaked, moldy rags would create a toxic, not a cleansing bonfire. Once the sticks are clean, then I can ignite the fire. What will I do with the greasy rags? I wonder. Maybe I'll throw them out, just as I did with my mildewed clothing. Who knows?

When people ask me, "What have you been up to?" I usually have no idea how to respond. I'm living my life, cooking dinner, working on clients. I play Words with Friends and Scramble, read the New York Times on the ipad. I get on FB, post to the blog. I walk around, take pictures, do the laundry, you know. When I refer to my "real" life, I sound so boring. It is my internal life that's interesting. But to explain this in a casual conversation would make me sound like a total nut case. I may be a nut case, but I prefer to keep that truth from my neighbors and clients. Hence, I must seem quite dull to most folks.

Lately when asked what I've been doing, I've been able to tell the story of my mildewed clothing and show off the tattoo. It's better than saying nothing. I guess!


SG said...

A part of us is always in the places we ever went to. A part of all the places we we ever went to is always in us. I guess that is what makes us who we are.
I have often wondered what makes me want to keep some of the unpleasant memories in my heart. I've never really found a precise answer. Perhaps to keep me grounded. Perhaps to remind me of the blessings that have been bestowed on me. Perhaps to help me live my life in a better way. Perhaps a little bit of everything?

Anonymous said...

Although I have never felt the Holocaust -- or at least not that Holocaust -- quite so personally and intensely, I think I can understand some of the sensations and need to carry that torch.

And I also feel that those "small" tasks such as swapping out clothes, walking, photographing are not unrelate. Perhaps if only because you are able to do them and still carry the torch of those for whom such supposedly mundane and unimportant actions were denied them.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thank you both for these wise words.

Junk thief, I remember San Francisco during the 1980s. It was like a holocaust. Everyone was so afraid - and rightly so.

Tom said...

dull. ha. I'm thinking now i need a head peeking out from my garden. besides my own i mean

Reya Mellicker said...

Tom heads would be perfect in your garden! I see them too.

Miss you. xx

Steve Reed said...

You're an interesting person because of the way you carry yourself, Reya. Even when you're doing commonplace things, taking photos or visiting the Matchbox, your interesting personality is there. You don't have to explicitly reveal your inner life in order for the rest of us to know you have one. I think people sense it, not just in you, but in others. Know what I mean?

Angela said...

You and I are so unlike in our upbringing and should have difficulties communicating, but I can relate to (most of) what you say, and you seem to grasp my own difficulties, too. I carry a very different burden as you know, the opposite, so to say. But no matter from which angle we both look at the world, we can add something to it, can`t we?

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks Steve. Yes people know I'm different and find that charming - to a point. In a casual conversation, I think it would be way over the top to explain I'm immersed in memories of dying in a concentration camp. That would kill any "how ya doin" type conversation! Ha!

Angela - <3

Pauline said...

Casual questions like "how are you?" or "what have you been up to?" require casual answers. So glad you share that internal, interesting life with us!