Friday, June 29, 2012


For a long time, I didn't believe in peace. I didn't think it was possible or part of the human condition. In my mind, the word was a romanticized ideal, a false promise that could never be kept. Even the idea of the quiet mind put me off, because I thought at the time the mind should be busy figuring out solutions to all the problems in the world. 

Good lord.

I became interested in the word shalom when I read this interview with Katharine Jefferts Schori, who became the first woman to head the Episcopal church. The interview was published in the New York Times in 2006. She is awesome! Here's part of the interview:

I like the word “shalom.” I use it in my correspondence, I use it in my sermons, and that’s how I sign my e-mails — “shalom.” To me it is a concrete reminder of what it is we’re all supposed to be about.
Because it means peace in Hebrew?
It means far more than peace. I think it’s a vision of the human community. Those great visions of Isaiah — every person fed, no more strife, the ill are healed, prisoners are released.

Every time I read what she said, tears come to my eyes. Wow.

Fast forward a few years to the time when I studied Judaism at Temple Micah. I believe it was during the class on prayer that Rabbi Manewith spent a lot of time talking about the word itself, the three letter core and its significance. We also reflected on the layers of meaning of shalom.

Shalom doesn't refer to a peace that's temporary. Shalom is not about a cease fire or the eras between wars. It doesn't even reflect the peace of deep meditation. It is a far deeper peace, the kind of peace we practice on Shabbat when we live as if the world were perfect.

It's a rather intense practice actually, the joyous rest that is the Sabbath. After Havdallah, the end of the Sabbath, we return to the "real" world in which we can choose to work ourselves to death, freak out, lapse into anger, fear, vengefulness or whatever. But from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, as my father said every week in the midst of our family's Shabbat service, "All our blessings are enriched, all our griefs and trials are softened." Oh yeah.

My tattoo, which is not pretty or decorative, is profoundly meaningful to me because by having this word engraved on my arm, one of my favorite ideas, one of my most exalted hopes, has literally become part of my physical body. This is why I got the tattoo.

Shabbat shalom, y'all.

Lacy maple trees on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The beginning of understanding

That's the observatory at the Air and Space Museum in the background. Nice of the boy to enter the frame at the perfect second, hey?

I tried to watch the film "Downfall" last night, about Hitler's final days. I love Bruno Ganz and indeed he did a fine job playing the part. Also he looked really Hitlerish - except for his eyes. He has the kindest eyes. It was not possible to imagine him as der fuhrer. I'm sure it was a good movie but all I could see were those very kind eyes.

The Sufi acupuncturist told me Hitler suffered from chronic, life-long constipation. That is so apt - belonging in the realm of You Can't Make This Stuff Up. He channeled something very pure; he was a "fulcrum" as Pandora described it. Whatever that toxic energy was that he channeled, it came through his overstuffed, poisonous bowels, not from his heart, certainly. The acupuncturist says you can hear it in his voice (one of the ways they diagnose in Chinese medicine). You can see it in his eyes, too, in those old films. There is no goodness in his eyes. In fact in every film I've seen of him, Hitler appears to be a shell, not even human. I used to think of him as an empty shell, but it's more accurate to say he was a shell stuffed with shit. Good lord.

One revelation I've had in the last 24 hours is that the point of going to the Holocaust Museum wasn't in order to prove to myself I'm brave, or to in some way become a better person or whatever. In fact, it wasn't about me at all! (When will I learn?) I was there for two reasons. First and foremost, walking through the exhibit was a way to pay my respects to all who died in that terrible firestorm. When we entered the museum, Pandora said, "I think we owe it to these people to be here." It didn't sink in initially (I am a very slow processor of information). But yesterday afternoon I finally understood what she was saying. Indeed.

The second reason was to connect with my great benefactor and teacher, and to meet her powerful, beautiful spouse. It turned out to be a wonderful experience having nothing to do with how brave I am. Hmm.

Similarly, the tattoo experience did not in any way show me I'm brave. There was nothing painful or scary about it. I did face my fear of commitment (am still wrestling with it - should I have done it? Is it too big? Should I have just had line work? Is the color wrong? etc etc etc etc), but I also faced a whole set of cultural stereotypes that were dead off.

The tattoo itself is not decorative. I thought it would be, but it isn't. It's powerful and surprisingly personal. The luminous Mrs. Lipp took some photos while I was receiving it - beautiful pictures that I knew immediately were too intimate to post publicly. I had a friend take a picture that I posted on Facebook, but I was so uncomfortable about it, I finally deleted the picture. It was as if I had posted a picture of the inside of my heart. Having it out there on the network was so wrong. Very interesting!

Many thoughts and revelations are rising into consciousness about my two days of ordeal, many of them revolving around what I thought I was doing versus what actually went down. As of today I believe I was spontaneously initiated during those days. Into what I can not tell you as I didn't ask for an initiation and did not plan the ritual that simply unfolded of its own accord, or so it seemed. Pandora, her spouse and Fernando were my initiators, inadvertently perhaps. I even received a new name - that's a classic piece of an initiation.

My mind is always the last to understand. Hence, I'll be thinking about this for awhile.

Life is good and I am grateful, even when I don't get what's happening, which is often. Shalom!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thank God for Pandora

Spiderweb in the mouth of the dragon head at the Hirschhorn.

I only got stuck once while walking through the Holocaust Museum yesterday. It was in the section about the ghettos and how people were transported to the camps. A part of the exhibit is a railroad car typical of those they used. There's a path through the car, also an alternative for those who don't want to experience that tiny dark creepy space in which 100 people at a time were crammed. I stood there for several minutes, wondering if I should try to walk through. I was stuck, staring at the car, trying to figure out what to do next. I might have been there for a long time if not for my great teacher.

Just as I predicted, Pandora appeared from out of the nowhere it seemed, took me by the hand and walked purposefully towards the car. That was exactly what I needed, of course. Her grounded, centered strength lifted me out of that tight spot. She is awesome! I smiled through my tears when she took my hand. Inside the car she stopped, held tight to my hand, making me stop, too. I meant to pass through as quickly as possible but that wasn't right. Of course she knew what to do. We stood there for a few transformational seconds. Wow. Once we were out of that space, she released my hand, looked me over briefly, and moved on.

The museum is thoughtfully and beautifully designed. I didn't learn anything new, but of course that wasn't the point. Walking through the exhibit was a challenge I was ready to face - with Pandora, should say. I only wanted to get through it, to tolerate the energy of that history for a little while. Did the experience help me believe I'm brave? I'm not sure about that. It certainly reinforced my trust in my teacher's incredible talents and affection for me. But did it help me? I can't say it did. It's interesting to think about.

As I suspected, the piles of shoes, the bunks from Auschwitz, struck me as lurid. I really think they should throw the shoes away, send the bunks back to the museum at Oswiecim. I believe the energy of the Holocaust is still unwinding. Letting go of the shoes would enhance the unwinding. Tell the stories, look at the photos and films, but let go of the stuff, I say.

My favorite space was the shtetl room filled with portraits of the people before the Holocaust. I love connecting with that world, now long gone. The walls are covered with portraits of people posing formally, walking through the shtetl town centers carrying books and such. It's a grand room extending upwards three stories, connecting every level of the exhibit. At the top is a skylight so this one space is filled with natural light. Fantastic. The room is a central column. It is a light-filled altar, so beautiful. The exhibit is structured so that visitors pass through the room before and after the section that details life and death in the camps. It's literally refreshing. 

I also appreciated the room of remembrance at the end of the exhibit. A friend told me I would love it and I really did.

I disagree with those who say everyone should see the Holocaust Museum. It is an awful journey that is so intense, even the tourists were quiet and respectful walking through it. I needed to do it to show myself I'm braver than I think I am. I did it, but I don't think you need to.

How ironic that the tattoo experience was quite different than I expected while the Holocaust Museum was exactly as I thought it would be. Not sure what to make of that but I'll be thinking about it for awhile.

It's a gorgeous day in Washington DC. I'll be working all day today, a very good thing. The two days of ordeal are completed. Now what? Onwards and upwards. Shalom.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Illustrated Woman

Fernando Prudencio was born in Bolivia, lived most of his life in Arlington, Virginia, but spent six years in San Francisco where he learned the art of tattooing. He loves baroque art, particularly the work of Bernini. He's a painter as well as a tattoo artist. He told us that his favorite color, by far, is Burnt Umber. What is not to love about that?

He also loves moths and cicadas, whose life cycles he has studied assiduously. He played the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, also the music from the movie Amelie, while he worked on my friend, the luminous Mrs. Lipp, and me. Yeah. You can't make this stuff up.

Pretty much everything about the experience of receiving my tattoo was unexpected. Fernando has a very light touch, hence the process didn't really hurt, but nevertheless it was a really big deal. I thought it was going to be painful, that the pain would form the center around which the experience would unfold, but it wasn't like that at all.

When will I learn to let go of my uninformed expectations? Good lord.

We spent twice as much time with Fernando as we thought we would. I believe he got a kick out of us, and, well, who wouldn't love hearing that Mrs. Lipp lived illegally in Tuscany for eight years, that she drives a pink Vespa and worked at Congressional Cemetery? I believe he found me pretty amusing as well.

Afterwards I was in such an altered state. I thought I was fine, but I was definitely stoned. I suspect this is one reason people enjoy receiving tattoos. For me, it was quite unnerving. For instance, Fernando was unable to take my bank card so Mrs. Lipp drove me to the bank to get cash. She dropped me in front of the studio, told me she would drive around the block and pick me up. When I paid Fernando, he gave me a hug and said, "Now you're one of us." Pondering the meaning of that, I got into Mrs. Lipp's car - but it wasn't her car! I had jumped into a car driven by a middle aged black man who looked very surprised to see me in the passenger seat. When I realized my mistake, I apologized and jumped OUT of the car, just in time to hear him say, "Do you need a ride somewhere?" He was such a nice man, every bit as startled by the experience as I was. I'm sure he would have given me a ride if that's what I needed. Good lord.

I wasn't in my right mind at all and in fact did not feel normal for the rest of the evening. I'm better this morning, I'm glad to say.

It's a gorgeous day in Washington DC. Today is my journey through the Holocaust Museum. Of course I have ideas about how it will affect me. I was completely wrong about yesterday, though, hence I'm trying to be curious and open. I'm trying! One thing I know for certain is that it will be great to walk down to the museum and wonderful to see my great teacher Pandora.

What a week! What a life! Shalom.

Detail from a hand painted volkswagon bug. That car is so beautiful!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Everyday Miracles

I'm thinking about so many things, I could write a hundred blog posts. And yet it's not the right time to try to interpret all these thoughts because I'm in the midst of an initiation. It's not a ritual I planned or hoped for, it wasn't created, scheduled or designed by any wise teacher or mentor, nope, it just happened that my appointment for the tattoo, the journey through the Holocaust Museum, and the first exact square of Pluto and Uranus just happened to all fall together in the coming week. One of my great benefactors will be in town to usher me through. She thought she was coming for a vacation and a nice visit.

Just now a neighborhood friend stopped by. When I told her about what I have scheduled for the next few days, she helped me prepare by telling me the Holocaust Museum is very cold. At least I should bring a shirt, if not a sweater, so as to remain physically comfortable in the midst of The Ordeal.

You can't make this stuff up.

It's a beautiful evening in Washington DC following a hot, humid week. Last night a parade of dragons moved through - there was wind, crazy looking clouds, a bit of thunder and lightning, but no rain. That's not a storm. It was a parade of dragons that cleared the air. The windows are open at the chateau and I'm smiling, listening to George Harrison songs, watching the light fade. The cicadas are singing, the fireflies will begin to rise any minute.

This life in a body on planet earth can be problematic, but it is also miraculous, wondrous. I'm in awe.

I'll be working all day tomorrow, then the week of my initiation begins. I'm ready.


Friday, June 22, 2012

In the Labyrinth

I know it's a distortion of my leg or arm, but that shape extending away from my leg? Looks like Jake's ghost to me.

The unfolding of almost everything taking place this year of the black water dragon belongs under the heading: "You Can't Make This Stuff Up."

For months I've been trying to understand the undercurrents of the energy. I've viewed the events through many different filters; for instance. the influence of the stars and planets (we're currently swimming in the energy of what astrologer Eric Francis calls the "Solstice Cluster" of astronomical events. Hmm. Perhaps it should be called the solstice clusterfuck?)

I've wondered if the bizarre and unexpected quality of this year is a part of age 59, though that doesn't account for other people and all they're going through. I guess I should chuck that theory and go back to the stars and planets for answers.

Or maybe I need to chuck the quest for understanding altogether. Who knows?

It's a good year for me at least, a year of spectacular unfolding and evolution, reinvention. But it's not straightforward evolution, nope. It's a meandering path with harsh switchbacks and many changes in altitude, like a walking labyrinth, except three-D. The path of this year feels exciting and dangerous, precarious. It's kind of a rush.

Next week I'm going to come face to face with a number of fears, the fear of pain and commitment on the day I receive my tattoo and the following day, my fear of visiting the Holocaust Museum exhibit. I've been in the library there many times, but never have walked through the museum proper. May I say I'm scared to death that I'll sob uncontrollably, maybe even throw up? One of my greatest, if not THE greatest teacher I've ever had will be with me as she just so happens to have planned to be in town that day and asked me to go with her. I would never have had the nerve to do this if not for her inadvertently perfectly timed invitation.

The Ordeal ahead feels every bit as big and important as my formal initiations into the shamanic arts. The set of "coincidences" that shaped the timing of these two events is truly unbelievable. I should also say it's a happy ordeal - or - at least it is an ordeal I chose of my own free will, after careful thought and prayer. The two days of ordeal dovetail perfectly with the overarching theme of collective and personal reinvention we're experiencing. So be it!

When the energies demand transformation, I say dance with them. Resistance is futile! The solstice clusterfuck is upon us. Get to dancing, y'all!

You can't make this stuff up. Seriously.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Brother Sun, you have reached the height of heights, you reign supreme today. Live it up because tomorrow, well - you know about tomorrow - that's when you begin your slow dive. This is as it has always been, and how it will always be until the end of planet earth.

It's a harsh solstice in Washington DC. After an extended spring of incredible, Colorado-like weather, summer has arrived with a hot, heavy thud. It will be close to 100 F. today, terribly humid. The sky is already the color of hot metal, the sunshine hazy. It's only 8:00 a.m.


I'll be staying indoors mostly today, working on clients. Of course I will have to get out there in the worst of the heat, between clients this afternoon, to taste the day. I won't be tilting against the heat as I once would have, no way. But I have to experience this first day of summer. I'll nip down to Eastern Market, run an errand or two, then slip into the shower before my last client.

I am very grateful to live in a comfortable, well air-conditioned space. Sending energy and cool to all the people who work outdoors, from postal delivery people to dog walkers to laborers to the Capitol police.

Happy Solstice, y'all! Shalom.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father Knows Best

See Brother Sun peeking out from the left side of the monument at the top? Very cool.

I love being in sync with the weather. It's not always possible. But somehow lately, miraculously, I've been on a wavelength with the gods of sunshine, temperature, precipitation and cloud cover. It's a sweet spot I'm enjoying while it lasts.

Yesterday I had the day off. The weather was spectacular with lots of sunshine, dry air and perfect temperatures of around 80 F. I walked my ass off, of course.

I spent some time with my big ole buddy, the Washington Monument. It seemed fitting, on Father's Day, to hang out with the monument dedicated to the father of our country. And, too, the Washington Monument is "for the star people" as the Ecuadorian shamans said. It points to Father Sky. It was so right to be there.

My plan was to give some Reiki directly to the monument. I forgot it had been cordoned off since the earthquake last year, hence I had to send the Reiki "long distance" - from the edge of the terrace on which it stands. From a vantage point of a few yards away, I learned some new things about the way energy flows around and up the elongated pyramid, things I had never noticed before, so that was cool. But I missed being able to touch the stone directly. I hope the CAUTION CAUTION CAUTION tape comes down sooner rather than later.

Today I'm back at work all day. It's rainy and cool, muggy, too. Perfect weather for staying indoors. Ah weather gods, how nice to dance with you harmoniously! I am really enjoying the synchronicity.

Very nice!

Happy Monday, y'all. Shalom.

Their mom was attempting to take an optical illusion pic. I hope it turned out!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I am so lucky!

It is a spectacularly beautiful day in Washington DC including lots of blue sky, sunshine, a soft breeze, low humidity and temps that will climb to about 80 F.

I'm not working today. My plans, such as they exist, include (of course) a long walk. Before that I'll read the NY Times, drink coffee, listen to the birds. After the walk I'm going to make a blueberry-raspberry-cherry tart. Late this afternoon I'll listen to Radio Lab, one of my very favorite things.

Really what is not to like about today? Happy Sunday, Happy Father's Day. Shalom.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Remembering Karen

My sister Karen was and wasn't the odd woman out in the Mellicker family. Technically she was a half sister from my mother's first marriage, but she never felt like a half sister to me. She didn't look like my father (like the rest of us do) but she was fiercely devoted to him and, I believe, worked as hard as anyone ever could to make him proud of her. I don't know if he ever legally adopted her, but she was definitely his daughter. Oh yeah.

Likewise Karen embodied my mother's high ideals about social justice. She was a social worker for many years, protecting the rights of children.

As a teenager she was deputized by my mother, becoming the junior mom to we younger siblings. I'm not clear she ever had the opportunity to indulge in adolescent hijinks. She was dutiful and generous, something no one should ever have to be as a teenager.

Things never quite clicked for her, or at least that's my impression. For instance, during the summer of love, she was living in San Francisco. She was 28 years old, married to a law student. She kept a conservative, kosher household and had two young daughters. Yes, in San Francisco, in 1968. Shouldn't she have been hanging out in the Haight, smoking weed and doing interpretive dance to the music of the Jefferson Airplane? Instead she was living in a fog belt, trying hard to be a good wife and good mother. I can't imagine what that must have been like. Good lord.

Eventually she returned to Kansas City, divorced her husband who was a depressive and can not have been very fun to live with. After that she worked her way through a string of truly horrendous boyfriends and precarious living situations.

My sister Karen was a great cook who never allowed herself to buy high quality food or cookware. My niece told me they used toilet paper instead of paper napkins at the dinner table because it was cheaper. All that talent wasted because of her pervasive sense of impoverishment. It's very sad.

She loved classical music and all the arts, as my Papa taught her. She also loved beautiful clothes, make up, perfume. The poverty consciousness kept her from buying more than one or two lovely items of clothing, though.

She loved games but did not possess the mad game skills my father or siblings had, hence she rarely won at anything. This was the story of my sister's life. She never quite fit with the times or with her situation, but she remained optimistic, she laughed a lot. She was wounded, but tried her best.

At age 46 she was diagnosed with leukemia. After treatment, she went into a remission during which she enjoyed two years of empowerment and happiness at last. She dumped her awful boyfriend who didn't even want to hear about her diagnosis (he was such a jerk!), went to France, something she had always dreamed of but never got around to. I've seen that before, how a cancer diagnosis can motivate people to get to the business of living ASAP.

When the leukemia came back, she declined quickly, died at age 48.

Karen I did not know you very well, but I loved and still love you dearly. You are an honored ancestor and I will hold you in my heart, along with Papa and Elizabeth (my mother) as I walk through the Holocaust Museum. I hope after death your spirit found a way to get in sync, I hope you are flying high. Yes? I hope so. I remember you warmly and dearly, and what is remembered, lives.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mad Man

My Papa was a complicated man, creative, musical, artistic and intelligent. He was a great dancer, loved playing games of all kinds, was fiercely dedicated to his Judaism, a combination of politically progressive Reform Judaism and mystical Judaism - a very rare combination at that time.

His physical as well as mental health was always quite fragile. He had terrible allergies, a dodgy stomach and many afflictions of the skin, such as boils. I think he must have been in physical pain a lot of the time. Later in his life he was subsumed by mental illness which, I've realized recently, accounts for the fact that I often feel a familial attachment to the mentally ill.

Before he went off the deep end when I was in high school, he had his good years and not so good years. At his best he was really spectacular. He was an incredible raconteur who, once he got going, enthralled everyone around him. To this day I have never seen anyone lead a Passover Seder with the skill, intense and whole hearted passion he put into it. I also very fondly remember Shabbat dinners. When we were kids he actually put on a suit before coming to the dinner table on Shabbat. (We dressed up, too. It was very cool.) My sister Deborah can still recite from memory the words he used to bless the Sabbath. Beautiful, stirring, inspiring words.

He loved sports and was a bowling coach. Such a funny thing to think of now! He loved all the arts. He taught us to listen to music by pointing out specific instruments, specific melodies. Sometimes he would put some music on the hi fi and ask us how the music made us feel or what it made us think about.

I tried to avoid him when he was not as his best because he could be one of the cruelest people you can imagine. His idea of appropriate fatherly guidance was to either humiliate or insult us - or both. Sometimes he flew into a rage over something or over nothing. It was quite frightening. Even as a kid I saw the imbalances. I hated the way he treated my sisters and my mother. I flew under the radar as often as possible, hence was infrequently the recipient of his rages. I guess that's good. For all intents and purposes I wrote him off when I was still in grade school. I remember thinking, Papa is nuts; I'm not going to listen to him. When he died I felt it physically but did not grieve. I don't think I ever shed even one tear. When he died, it was a relief. Is that a terrible thing to say?

Among the gifts I've received through Facebook are the memories of my father recounted by the people I grew up with. One of my friends said my father was the first person to ever treat him like an adult. Papa challenged my friend's beliefs in ways that left a lasting impression - a good one, should say. "Your father taught me to think," my friend said.

Just the other day another old neighbor was remarking on Facebook that Papa constantly corrected her grammar for which she is still appreciative. Really? I hated it when he corrected mine!

The name of this post refers to one of his many careers, in advertising during the 1960s. He was no Don Draper - nope - but he appreciated the creativity in that field at that moment in time and worked as an art director for a Kansas City agency. I remember the magazine Advertising Age arriving in the mail.

First Edie, now Papa. Coming up on the day I receive my Shalom tattoo, and the next day when I walk through the Holocaust Museum exhibit, I am calling in my ancestors - apparently.

Papa you were such a piece of work while alive! My goodness no wonder you died so young. All that internal/external drama must have been exhausting. Eating terrible food, smoking all those Chesterfield Kings, could not have helped either.

It's all water under the bridge now, of course. I love and honor my father. In my heart of hearts, all is forgiven.

What is remembered, lives. Shalom.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


The last time I was in Paris, it was just for one day. I flew over from London where the rest of the teaching team was planning British witch camp. I went specifically to see my Aunt Edie.

Edie, my father's sister, moved to France after World War II to help resettle refugees from the camps. She liked it there, found a great job in the financial sector and stayed for sixty years. She, her husband and son lived in an apartment in the swanky 16th arrondissement that was so small I could not figure out how they managed a peaceful coexistence. Their kitchen, for instance, was hardly bigger than this blogpost. Of course in Paris, going out to eat is not chore. Yeah. But still - that apartment was so tiny.

We spent much of our time together sharing family stories. She regaled me with tales of the years when my father and mother were good with each other, happy even. They worked together in politics mostly and were great allies, a good team. I had never seen them happy with each other; her stories were such a gift!

The other thing she gave me was a name, one word she pulled from an old book or something, one of the random things that ended up in the U.S. when my grandfather came through Ellis Island. She believed it was the name of our ancestral shtetl.

It was a wonderful 24 hours during which my auntie kept saying, "You don't want to go see the Arc or the Tower?" Nope. I just wanted to hang out with my aunt.

It was that one word, in my aunt's handwriting on a scrap of paper, that I took to the library at the Holocaust Museum. The librarians told me immediately it was not a spelling they recognized - not Polish, not Ukrainian, not Russian. Edie told me the location of the shtetl was west of Lvov in modern Ukraine. With just two bits of information, the EXCELLENT librarians found the shtetl and a pictorial archive not only of that town but the other small towns close by. There is a Yizkor remembrance book in a library in San Francisco, written in Hebrew. Some day I would love to get some of those stories translated. The librarians said the Yizkor books are kind of hilarious, compendiums of shtetl gossip. I would love to read some of that!

Aunt Edie was glad for my company as she was grieving the loss of her husband. They were married almost all the years she lived in Paris. Coco, as she and all of us called him, was someone she felt she really could not live without. I'm grateful for that 24 hour visit. My aunt died three months later.

I cherish the gift of that final visit with my funny, haughty, wickedly intelligent auntie. I cherish the gift of family myth, also the misspelled name of the place where my ancestors lived for centuries and died all at once, asphyxiated in volkswagons on August 9, 1941. I'm thinking of my aunt with a lot of love this morning. Hey Edie! I know you're flying high. I love you. Thank you! Shalom.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


My goodness this year has been a coming of age transformation and transition! Not just for me, of course - we are now in the midst of a societal, collective transformation of huge proportions.

On the personal level, too, it has been a rather harrowing year in some respects. Age 60 is now just a few months away. Gulp. Please do not misunderstand - getting older agrees with me in so many ways. But no matter what, it is daunting. I'd be an idiot if I didn't get that this is a big decade coming up, right?

Perhaps in response to the daunting nature of my next birthday, my spirit guides have encouraged me to be courageous - whole hearted as well as brave is what they mean, willing to stand up straight, lift my chin, put my shoulders back and walk into the 6th decade with a smile on my aging face. They've suggested I work my way up to my birthday by doing some stuff I've avoided because I'm afraid of it.

For instance, I am going - for the first time ever - to walk through the exhibits at the Holocaust Museum this month. One of my greatest teachers, perhaps the greatest teacher I have ever had, will be visiting DC later in the month. She and her partner wanted to go, asked me if I would accompany them. I swallowed hard and said yes. The tickets have been purchased, the date and time is on my calendar. I will not schedule clients so will not have the option of backing out at the last moment.

Saying yes to the invitation is a big deal for me. I've spent many an hour in the library of the museum, especially a few years ago when the excellent librarians helped me locate my ancestors' shtetl, found a pictorial archive of the place, a business directory in which my family's name appears.

Also, because the Nazis were just plain old weird, recording every detail of the murders, I can tell you that the Melikiers, and everyone else in the town, too, were killed by asphyxiation in volkswagons on August 9, 1941. The shtetl was bulldozed.

There is only a railroad crossing in western Ukraine now where the bustling shtetl once was. But because of the excellent library at the museum, I saw pictures of the people gathering at the street market, pictures of the living world before the Holocaust. My ancestors were short, stout and alarmingly hairy. Ha. I loved seeing those pictures, and in a museum! It made my lineage palpable, real. I felt I could reach back through time, connect with the foundation of my tribe. It was an amazing experience.

The journeys to the library have always been wonderful. Perhaps the journey through the exhibits will be healing, too. This is my hope, and if not, I'll be OK anyway because Pandora will be with me. I still believe she can do anything, hence if my energy is askew she will instantly notice and help me restore balance.

Another way in which I'm going to mark the passing of my youth is by finally at last getting my tattoo. I've thought about this for years, and in the last year have finally pinned down exactly what I can live with for the rest of my life. It's the word Shalom. I am so not a biblical kind of gal, hence the contemporary Hebrew which is clean and streamliined. The word looks like a magical row of sigils. I love the word Shalom and all its layers of meaning. I will have it inked on the inside of my right forearm.

I know, Jews are not supposed to be tattooed. But the thing is, the God I worship doesn't really mind what I do as long as it's not mean or destructive. The God I worship understands that by getting this tattoo, I am confronting a fear of pain, but also a fear of commitment. Getting a tattoo is a lifetime commitment! I am committed to the idea and soul of Shalom. I am.

The placement of the tatt, on the inside of my forearm, is an echo of the prison numbers the people in the camps received. I purposely chose the location. It's treif to be a Jew having the word Shalom tattooed on that part of my arm. It's so treif it spills over into the territory of holy. At least this is my justification.

OK so here's the crazy bit about that tatt - the artist who will do the deed is Fernando, a name I subsequently discovered means "be courageous." Yeah. And the only time he had available in the next six months is the day before my visit to the Holocaust Museum.

File all of this under the heading: "You Can't Make This Stuff Up." Hell yeah.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Toad Strangler

What a week! Good lord, life has been exciting, vivifying, shocking and dynamic. I'm talking about the impact from the recent pair of eclipses, Venus' transit across the sun, and the moon occulting the Pluto system. All of these events are eclipse-like, hence they pack a wallop individually, but clustered as they were this past couple of weeks? It has been a toad strangler energetically. In the midwest we used to call heavy downpours "toad stranglers." It's evocative, hey?

This morning, the wake from the event has settled at last. It feels to me that the energy has coalesced into a large gold snake or current moving in curves and waves underground, turning over stones, aerating the energetic landscape the way worms aerate dirt. It's all for the good, but feeling eclipse-like energy underfoot here on planet earth is a bit unnerving.

I'm heading into a big weekend of work, a good thing for my bank account, also for body and soul. I'm a very intense person with a temperament that makes me inclined to tilt into the dramatic side of everything including, of course, planetary events. During these events somehow it always slips my mind that there will be an energetic hangover when all is said and done. Whew! Tending to the bodies of my clients will be a god send, it really will.

It's another Tahoe summer day in DC today. I am not complaining! Have a wonderful Friday. Shalom.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Big Energy, Big Magic

I'm eager to get out, walk around a bit on this beautiful day in Washington DC. I'm eager to experience the energy from the transit of Venus, notice how that energy is settling over the landscape. There was an eclipsed moon the day before yesterday as well.

These precise planetary alignments create huge bursts of energy, at least that's what it feels like to me. Last night's transit had the quality of a moment during which the unspoken is at last said out loud. Even if it's an unpleasant truth, it's such a relief when someone says it out loud. Same goes for pleasant truths, like when President Obama said out loud, in public, that he believes gay people should be legally allowed to marry each other. In ten years it's going to seem so horrid that we ever thought we should not allow this.

When someone finally says it out loud - that the emperor has no clothes, for instance - it's not possible to go back to the old ways. Beyond the sense of relief that surrounds truth telling, the speaking out loud creates an environment ripe with possibility for change.

The eclipses/transit were more potent than I expected, making possible many new paths, creating possibilities for unforeseen benefits and opportunities for growth and evolution. Like I said the other day, we can spin straw into gold now, right now. But we must get out the spinning wheel and get to work. It won't happen just by thinking about it. Yes? I say yes!

I'm an intense person, hence I find this kind of planetary craziness quite exilarating. How are y'all faring? Well, I hope.

Onwards and upwards. L'chaim and Shalom!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Alchemy of this Week

When the Ecuadorian shamans came to DC, many things confused them, but not the Washington Monument. When they saw it, they said, "Oh. That's for the star people." Indeed!

Some people won't even notice the energy of this week. Tuning in to planetary configurations requires an ability to focus, to drop down deep into oneself, to listen in every way it's possible to listen.

Some people will feel the energy, but immediately create a personal story to "explain" why they feel whatever they're feeling - jumpy, energized, out of control or whatever. Still others among us will feel the energy and remind ourselves, over and over again, that this is a big moment in the sky, hence a big moment for we puny humans. No matter how high fallutin' we think we are, we are incapable of separating ourselves from the dance of the planets, I assure you. Ha. We're such a funny species, believing ourselves to exist outside of nature. How would we do that?

I've read extensively about the configurations taking place this week, taken in the interpretations expressed by my very favorite astrologers. I think of all of them, Eric Francis' Planet Waves is the best bet for a comprehensive interpretation. He is not a public astrologer; you have to pay for his forecasts, but they are top notch.

For free, you get my interpretation.

Have you read anything about the old art of alchemy, the process by which lead is transformed into gold? Isaac Newton was a passionate practitioner of the Art, oh yeah. Joseph Campbell, among others, believed the Art was metaphorical, a description of the process of human evolution. We human beings are pretty good at transforming the metaphorical leadenness of our lives into something resplendent, burnished, shining and precious.

We work so hard, each in our own way, to become "better" (whatever that means). We study, practice, delve deep into our personal issues seeking a better understanding of what holds us back. We change habits, households, jobs, vocations, relationships - all because we believe these changes will help us become smarter, more accomplished, kinder and more fulfilled.

Change is hard, but change is good. Even more important, change is inevitable. In Chinese medicine it is believed that if circumstances do not change, disease will result. Some of us tilt into change on a regular basis, others among us hang tight to what was, out of fear or because the discomfort of change is something we would prefer to avoid. Most people do a little of both, depending on the situation. 

This week, what's going on in the sky sets the stage for radical, beautiful, life-enhancing transformation. You can't sail without wind, or write without a keyboard (or pencil), etc. no matter how much you might want to, but this week, if you're meant to sail, a beautiful wind will kick up. If you're meant to write, you'll be inclined to pick up your favorite pen and get to it. If you're meant to dance, the Pandora radio algorithms will offer up the best selection of music for you.

Rise to the occasion, people! This week you can spin straw into gold.

The surfeit of creative, life-enhancing energy available this week feels dangerously exciting because it is so potent. Purification, transmutation, transformation of a very profound nature is within our reach. Open your palms, let go of what's heavy or toxic so as to receive what is rightfully your highest expression of beauty, balance and delight. You will not regret it, believe me. Digging in your heels will not help. This is a week like none other. Seize this moment, please?


Friday, June 1, 2012

St. Patrick's Breastplate

Tomorrow morning I will get behind the wheel of a rental car and drive out of the city, up to the mountains I am so in love with, to spend the weekend in a house on the Little White Neck section of the Potomac River with two of my nearest and dearests.

The weather is supposed to be spectacular. I'm taking two REAL BOOKS since there is no internet connection. I will not blog, spend time on Facebook or Twitter, or play Words with Friends or Scramble. Even I, She Who Loves Modern Technology, needs to unplug sometimes. I can't wait.

I will take my camera.

One of the books I'll have on hand is Anam Cara, a book of Celtic wisdom by John O'Donohue. It is an incredible book, beautiful and almost achingly soulful. Here's a lovely poem from the book, a Celtic prayer.

The Deer's Cry

I arise today
through the strength of heaven, light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

(~translated by Kuno Meyer)

May it be so today and every day! Have a wonderful weekend. Shalom.