Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gotta dance

Hungarian Klezmer musicians

I spent several hours yesterday at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, worshipping ancestors of blood, spirit and karma. That is what the fest is all about, after all: ancestor worship. We don't call it that in my society, but it is - it really is.

What a blast. I heard a lot of live music, always a tonic for my soul, and I danced so much I can feel it in my legs this morning. That's a lot of dancing since I'm on my feet most of my waking hours and I walk every day.

It's coming to me that somehow I've not been dancing enough lately. Last summer was so hard, I kind of let my habit of dance slip away. How unfortunate!

I'm not talking about shamanic dance, the slow, T'ai Chi type of moving that helps me understand what's going on around me. My dance of shamanic alignment is something I do every day. If I stopped doing the shamanic dance I would probably shrivel up and die - or at best be totally confused. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about dancing to music, for fun.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the birthday party where everyone was dancing - me too of course. I was reminded then how blissful it is to dance, how much joy dancing brings into my body/mind. Yesterday, too, the dancing lifted my spirits a notch or two higher than they already were, which was pretty high since I love the Folklife Fest so much.

I danced to traditional Hungarian folk music - I even took a lesson. I danced to klezmer music. I danced most enthusiastically to the Garifuna band from Belize. They're descended from Caribbean Indians and Africans and the music is incredible. I can't believe anyone in that tent could hold still.

Traditional Hungarian folk dance.

Here's a link to a playlist of songs sung in the languages honored at the Fest. Fabulous!

In addition to dancing, I took a lot of pictures, of course. I was blessed by a Koro holy man, too. He did something at the spirit house (behind him in the pic below), waved an elaborate feather at me, then smeared my cheeks with a cool rice pudding. No words were exchanged between us - words were not necessary. I walked away smiling.


I felt blessed by the whole experience. For all its faults and troubles, Washington DC is a wonderful place to live. The fest helped dissolve the weird energy of the last few days.

Life is good and I am grateful. Shalom.

Dancers and backup singers with the band from Belize.

Friday, June 28, 2013

An Adequate Veil

What is real? I ask that question all the time. I ask myself constantly, others, too. When people say something is unreal, I respond with my question. What is real?

A friend recently said that if you ask the wrong questions, you are likely to never get a good answer. So perhaps this question is faulty and that's why there's no satisfying answer when I ask it, from within or without. Was it really bizarre to see five VWs in a row on 8th Street yesterday just as I was thinking of my ancestors, asphyxiated in VWs during WWII? Or did it just seem bizarre?

Who cares? My experience of it heightened an already slightly altered consciousness from events earlier in the day. Was it a sign? Was some being, such as my aunt Edie, speaking to me from beyond the veil? In the case of the VWs, instead of wondering if it was real, I could have asked Is it a sign?

I asked the Sufi acupuncturist what is real yesterday. He says truth can never be expressed with ideas or words. Stories are veils that cover the pure truth. All that happens is a story we create about the world, including what we believe to be real and unreal. He says a better question would be Is it an adequate veil?

I'm really thinking about that. I like it. Is the veil adequate? Is its shape close to the inexpressible essence? When I experience something like I did yesterday with the parade of VWs, are my stories about that adequate veils for the underlying energy?

Being a mystic is complicated! Good lord. Happy Friday and Shalom.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Strange Days

I've had a weird couple of days. Peaceful - because I made sure I had solitude and time - but quite odd.

For instance yesterday I told the Sufi acupuncturist that it was the first anniversary of receiving my tattoo and visiting the Holocaust Museum. He said - oh - did you know this is a Jewish fast day? Apparently it marks the destruction of the temple (first or second? I didn't ask). I had never heard of it. Funny, though, that the one year anniversary of my head-on collision with the Holocaust should just happen to be a fast day in the Jewish calendar. It wasn't last year, but this year, yes. My rhythms are inexplicably Jewish.

Right after that I ran into someone who is holding a grudge against me. I was open and pleasant, but she could not even bring herself to be civil. It's OK - I have no dog in the fight whatsoever, but that kind of encounter tends to leave a bad taste in the mouth. Ya know?

Today I was thinking about my ancestors in the Holocaust, how they were asphyxiated in Volkswagons that were sealed shut. The wagons filled with exhaust and the people died. Compared to dying in the camps this was kind of deluxe. Carbon monoxide is a blissful way to go. My ancestors were killed in this way on August 9, 1941 somewhere west of Lviv in modern Ukraine. I wondered if I'm a reincarnated Melikier. I thought about how much I detest being inside any car, also how most of the cars I've owned in my life (not many) have been Volkswagons. I felt a little chill. Just then five VWs in a row drove past, one after the other. There was even a Passat taxi.

Is that normal? Seemed bizarre to me.

Later on someone I've known since the early 1980s, the sweetest, most gentle person you've ever met, flamed my ass on FB because of a post I wrote on my other blog. I wrote about Lyme disease, how evil its soul is. I didn't say this in the post, but I believe there's a way in which Lyme zombifies its victims. They serve the disease, not themselves. I've seen it more than once - the change in personality and world view. It's chilling.

What this friend objected to was my emphatic plea to be careful when out and about, to avoid catching Lyme. What I said in the post is don't catch Lyme. He insisted that advice sucks, his exact word. This does not sound anything like his normal self.

He demanded that I remove the sentence from the blog post. It was as if the spirochete was speaking directly to me. How dare I tell people to take this seriously? How dare I tell people to do everything they can not to be bitten?

That was NOT my friend talking. It took a long time to straighten out the misunderstanding. When I told him to unfriend me, but to please not tell me what to write in my blog, he kind of came back to himself. Even that was bizarre.

This man contracted Lyme many years ago, was given the antibiotics and believes he was cured. But he developed something like rheumatoid arthritis a few years ago and suffers greatly from it. These symptoms are associated with Chronic Lyme. In the weird interaction, my friend behaved like a spirochete, not like the man I've known for thirty years. WWZ is going to come through tick borne diseases.

Mama said there'd be days like this. I guess!

I'm ready for a few days of boring and normal. OK? Please?

Peace and love, y'all. Shalom.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Don't come shattered to this peace*

A wing above Eye Street between 18th and 19th Sts. NW

It was a wonderful day in Washington DC today - for those who believe in marriage equality, that is. It was historic, a turning point. In ten years people will look back and wonder what the fuss was about, but right now, this is big.

I remember that, during the early 1960s, seeing a black/white couple was shocking. Now no one would blink an eye, at least not in the places I've lived for the last thirty years. And so it will be for couples of all types, no matter their gender or sexual preferences. God bless America. Jacob Needleman is correct about the nature of our experiment with democracy, that it requires inner work for us to evolve towards the ideals of the founding fathers. It is a work in progress. It was designed to be this way. Hell yeah.

Last year when the Nats were doing so well, the mood in usually dour DC was buoyant. Election night in 2008 was definitely joyful, as was the first inauguration. Some of the finest energy I've experienced in this crazy, powerful, beautiful, wounded city was the day of the Rally to Restore Sanity. That was a great day, too.

The energy here today went beyond buoyant, beyond festive. It was a circus, a par-tay atmosphere on the streets of Capitol Hill. There were rainbow teeshirts and flags and pink triangles and interesting clothing choices. I saw lots of crazy hair cuts and colors today. You hardly ever see that in DC. Sweet!

I got out and about, though I skirted the edge of the party energy down at the Court. It was too much for me today. I recognized that and steered a wide arc around the energy. A few years ago that would never have happened, but I'm mellowing out in early old age.

You didn't have to be in the center of the crowd in front of the Court to feel the energy. It was palpable. A wonderful day, a fleeting moment of perfection. Life is good and I am grateful.


*The title of the post is a mantra I woke up repeating this morning, over and over. It was woven into seemingly unrelated dreams. I kept repeating it over and over all night. It seemed important. Though poetic, I'm not clear it's as significant as I thought this morning. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


A year ago today, my friend and I went to a studio on H Street where we each received a tattoo. I had been thinking about it for years. I could "see" the word Shalom on my arm, a healing opposite, a mirror of the numbers that were tattooed on the arms of the people in the concentration camps. I "saw" it in modern Hebrew, clean and bold. A few months before I actually got it, I began writing the word with a sharpie on my arm every morning. That was not attractive. Finally I went ahead and actually got the ink.

My expectation was that it would be painful and I would be a wimp, but once it had healed I would be happy with it. What actually came to pass was the opposite. It hardly hurt at all. There was sensation but Fernando, the artist, has a very light touch.

Almost immediately afterwards I began to struggle with my decision to do it. Oh the regret! You would not believe how sorry I was that I had made the commitment. I researched having it removed, I went to Nordstrom and got a tube of thick makeup meant to hide dark circles under the eyes and such. The saleslady knew exactly what I needed - apparently many people need to occasionally hide their tattoos, from family members sometimes, or to interview for a job, she said.

After my attempts to pretend I hadn't done it failed - I'm not going to wear makeup on my arm every day, for heaven's sake! - I began to imagine how I should have designed it. It should have been smaller, it should have been plain black, in script, decorative rather than so in-your-face. What looks good on paper is a completely different thing on skin. I still harbor these regrets by the way.

As I got used to it, my thinking turned 180 degrees. I decided I should add to it, try to make it more decorative. As it is, it looks like someone stamped my arm. It shouts S H A L O M!!! I can be so emphatic, which is I guess why it turned out like it did.

I imagined the word nestled into cherry blossoms, or roses. Both of those ideas still appeal. I also periodically imagine having a white skeleton key placed behind the word. That would be cool. Sometime I might follow through.

A friend who knows me well advises me to just leave it as it is. I've made my statement, according to her. She makes a good point.

Most of the time in the last few months, I haven't worried, fussed or focused on it. It is a part of me now. Big, emphatic, not decorative enough, incomplete ... my, my. Sounds like I'm talking about my whole self, not just the tattoo. That is kind of hilarious.

Happy tattoo anniversary to me. Onwards & upwards. Shalom.

That's the inside of my right arm, elbow at the top of the pic.

Monday, June 24, 2013


What do I have against the moon? Why don't I like it? I mean - what has the moon ever done to me?

I was asking myself last night, walking home from a birthday/dance barbecue. I love to dance so much. I dance around the chateau all the time but I had forgotten how much more fun it is to be on a dance floor with other people who are just as unselfconscious as I am in interpreting the music. Wow. And the music was great. DJ Adrian Loving is an artist! It was so much fun. After my wonderful day yesterday, I was feeling generous enough to question my dislike of the moon.

Why don't I like it? I'll tell you. My relationship with it is awkward. Dark moons are depressing and full moons jam my circuits. In between the extremes, there can be nice lunar moments, but those moments do not linger. The moon is moody. It's not reliable. The moon makes me crazy!

Once upon a time, when I was staying in a little house on the Mendocino coast, I sat for too long out on the deck gazing at the full moon through binoculars. After that I was unable to sleep for the remainder of the night, in spite of the magical, relaxing Mendocino air and the sound of the sea crashing into the cliff below the house. I had to keep watching, checking on the moon as if it might get lost on its way to the western horizon. At dawn I was still on the deck, watching the moon set into the Pacific.

For days after that I was out of sorts, not myself. I didn't exactly become a werewolf, but I felt the lunacy. I felt raw and emotional. The moon was in my dreams for weeks afterwards. It was way out of proportion.

Another time, at witch camp, I drew down the full moon. This is something witches do all the time but I had never tried. Apparently I did a great job. From my point of view, after I began to call her down, the moon became much larger than normal. It seemed to fill the sky. I could see every ridge and crater.

For awhile, I kind of lost track of the campers and other teachers around me. When it was over, two of my fellow teachers were on the ground, holding my feet as if they thought I might leave the planet. They looked worried. A few campers came up to me after the ritual to ask if I was OK. It must have been powerful. To this day I don't know what happened.

So you see when it comes to the moon, I have to be cautious. However there are some moons I enjoy. This supermoon, just past full as of last night, was a joyous moon reflecting a super bright Brother Sun at his apex, hanging out with his buddy Jupiter.

The light was abundant, day and night, over the weekend.

Now, Brother Sun begins his slow descent. The moon will wane much faster of course. Onwards & upwards. Shalom.

A baby picture of the super moon.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Go with the flow, but choose the flow, ok?

The usual disclaimers apply today: This is a weird one. Also I'm not intent on anyone agreeing with me. There are many truths.

One way I like to describe the reality I inhabit is as a river with many different currents or flows. Some are fast moving, some sluggish. Some will suck you underwater in a heartbeat, others are buoyant. There are dark flows and light flows and flows of every color. It's up to us to float, swim or row, row, row our boats as we navigate the river of reality.

The Holocaust is a dark flow, a deep inky black storm that is still unwinding. It is still very much a part of the river of shared reality, faded, but still powerful. At its height, that darkness entranced people, turned their minds to mush. All the arguments about how the German people willingly ignored what was going on are unfair. They were in an altered state, most of them. There were rumors, there was propaganda. Very few really knew what was going on. I seriously wonder if Hitler himself understood, inside his mind, what was going down. All of Germany swirled in the darkest flow imaginable. Very few were able to keep their heads above water.

I can remember times in my life when I became entranced by the dark flows. I remember the very few times I went with a group of colleagues to study with the grandmaster of a very dark art. That man was so disturbed! He spoke to us about putting death curses on people, he even joked about Satan. We sat on the floor at his feet, taking it all in - and please understand that every member of my group was smart and interested in social justice. But we didn't challenge him, we surely did not. He was very good at his dark art, he really was. We were stupefied.

At the conclusion of these "teachings" we inevitably and always went straight to one of our favorite bars and proceeded to get stinking drunk. It was our tradition. None of us wondered about this behavior. Maybe we said "Oh he's a character," or something, but none of us ever put it together - that he was no spiritual teacher for any decent person, and that getting drunk right after an alleged spiritual learning points to something very wrong with the process.

I'm happy to say I woke up and got the hell out of that tradition. While I was involved, I never put a death curse on anyone nor did I ever worship Satan. Other than being a bitch and an asshole in relationships, and power struggling within the alleged non-hierarchy of my tradition, I did no wrong. That was a long time ago, thank god!

But I'm still drawn in by the dance of the Holocaust, and may I say I'm not the only one. Hitler is invoked all the time, still - probably more often now than right after the war. There is a pure darkness about the Holocaust that's hard to let go of. There's something irresistible there. It's creepy super dark S&M fascinating. We aren't supposed to admit that of course.

How can we remember the Holocaust without getting pulled into darkness? It's tricky. I think the first step would be to understand that there is an allure about pure darkness, pure evil. People get pulled into darkness all the time, even those with the best of intentions.

I'm going to think about it through tomorrow's super moon, then put the topic away for awhile. When I get too wrapped up in the Holocaust I suffer. Finding my way back to the bright flows has sometimes been a real struggle. I am no longer interested in that struggle.

I like to find
what's not found
at once, but lies
within something of another nature,
in repose, distinct.

--Denise Levertov

He was looking right at me. They're so smart!

Friday, June 21, 2013


Summer solstice 2013 is great. I am liking it, in spite of being overwhelmed by all this light. That's not unusual. Summer solstice is kind of big for me. I would never have noticed the pattern, but my sister did. She asked Why is June such a big thing for you? What a great question! I had no idea it was a big deal.

I looked back through the blog. It's uncanny that every year, June is momentous for one reason or another. I blame the planets in most of my posts, but really can I blame them EVERY solstice, year after year? That doesn't seem fair.

Another pattern my sister pointed out: I write a post about my father at summer solstice every year. Believe me I did not do it consciously. Weird! He comes into my mind at summer solstice. Apparently the ancestors wish to be remembered in June. Every June. That is crazy.

I like to write about the Holocaust every June, too. That is crazier still. The Voice in the Shower said recently that at solstice, dark energy comes briefly into the visible range. The Holocaust is a dark storm indeed, still unwinding. At solstice its terrible energy becomes wholly visible to me. It's interesting to think about.

I contemplated getting the Shalom tattoo for years before actually going through with it. Of course that happened in June. The next day I walked through the Holocaust Museum. June. What is up with June?

Jake died on June 30, 2009.

For heaven's sake! I could go on but I'm sure you get the picture. I'm going to be thinking about the significance of summer solstice for awhile, needless to say. I'm very grateful to be aware of the pattern.

Another gift of this solstice is that I have miraculously regained my joy in growing older. For a long time I've been the spokeswoman for growing old.  I have railed against ageism right and left. Here's a post I published on the other blog last year.

When I turned sixty I was taken aback. It came to me that at sixty we know for a fact we will die, we will. It's hard to believe when younger. Death feels like a bullet we can dodge if we're lucky. But we don't dodge it forever no matter what we do or who we are. You feel that at sixty. At least I did.

I realized that old people are reviled because they are visual reminders of our mortality. No wonder we're ageist! Good lord.

However for some reason, probably linked to the planets, my ancestors and maybe even the Holocaust, all of a sudden I'm glad to be growing old again. It's very exciting!

I got my old age mojo back. Thanks, Brother Sun!

It's an auspicious sign when I see the colors blue and orange next to each other. It's an auspicious summer solstice for sure. That's the U.S. Botanical Garden Conservatory in the background.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Falling upwards towards the light

Summer - so far - is fabulous. We've had some hot days, but lots of rain and weather fronts that move through, taking with them the terrible humidity and heat. This morning is gorgeous - the windows are open at the chateau, something I don't remember doing last summer from the beginning of May until almost Thanksgiving.

Last summer was not only relentlessly hot, but extraordinarily difficult.

It's only now beginning to dawn on me how stressful it was to be stalked. When the stalker left her "gifts" by the front door - bags full of small stones, jars of glitter and other creepy spell-like items - my immediate reaction was anger. I know dark magic - I studied dark magic during the last few years I was involved with the S.F. community - hence I recognized what she was trying to do. Also I knew how to avoid the clingy energy she meant to wrap around me. The notes and letters she wrote were even creepier and went straight into the freezer where their awful energy couldn't move around much.

Perhaps not every stalker is in a dark place, I'm not sure, but the person who stalked me was, she surely was. She wished to drag me into the darkness with her. She wanted to drown me in her darkness. Maybe a better way to describe it is to say she would have devoured me if that was possible. She was very disturbed.

Last summer what I felt was angry. Looking back on it now I see how creepy it was. Surely at some level I was afraid, too.

Having to throw away every piece of my clothing was traumatic too - not that I had beautiful clothes, mind you. When the old clothes mildewed, that was a actually a good thing since it forced me to unload all those ugly, stained, ill fitting clothes. At the time I felt a little bit panicked. It's kind of funny to think about now. Coming, as the mildew did, at exactly at the same time as the worst of the stalking magnified its impact, no doubt about it.

In spite of the trauma, I prevailed. I booked clients and cooked dinner for friends. I practiced aggressive self care. I had a lot of trouble breathing last summer, but I mean really, who wouldn't? Other than that I was determined and strong.

There's a way in which my dip into the dark arts, way back when, made me brave and helped me fully form even though dark magic is a study of how not to be, what not to do. I woke up and got my ass out of the tradition, though. That piece of it, the exit, was the most empowering work I did in that tradition, by far.

If I had stayed involved with the dark magic trolls, I don't know what would have happened to me. My sense is it would not have been good. But I got out, oh my I surely did! It's interesting to think about.

But that was then and this is now.

I haven't heard a peep from the stalker since an email last December. If she emails twice a year, I'm OK with that. My preference would be to never hear from her again of course.

Though certainly not stylish or glamorous, my wardrobe this summer is far nicer than it was before the mildew. I don't even remember those old clothes. Hasta la vista.

I used to think I needed dark and light to live fully. The idea was to partake equally of both, though since balance has never been my best thing, I tended to go too far in most situations. As I grow into early old age, my perspective has shifted. I'm thinking that leaning into the light as much as possible, with an occasional dip into the dark, is the way to go from here on.

There's a diaphanous quality to the energy of old people that requires more light than dark, I think. Dark is heavy. Young people have the strength and oomph to contend with it. As we get older, it seems crucial to dwell in the light.

Please do not ask me to explain what I just wrote. I have no idea what I mean.

I have clients this afternoon but the whole morning free. I will walk around my beautiful neighborhood, bathe in the clear light of this beautiful morning and offer prayers of thanks that last summer is long gone. Onwards & upwards!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Where was I?

When I wake up in the morning, before anything else happens, I ask myself, Where was I? It's a technique I learned a long time ago that helps me remember my dreams. I love my dreams. They're so weird, also very creative.

I can't say I'm thrilled when I've had one of those horrifying nightmares from which I wake up all of a sudden, heart pounding with fear, though it is great to wake up from those dreams. Nor do I enjoy the sad or scary dreams that stick with me through the whole day. However, the things I learn from remembering my dreams, the way they point me in the direction of mental, emotional, and spiritual healing and balance, makes them well worth remembering.

I have a lot of repeating themes in my dreams, like the house - my house - the one high on a cliff overlooking a place where fresh water meets the salty sea. I dream about that place all the time. There's another place I'm often lost within, a huge structure that's kind of like a shopping mall, kind of like an office building, also like a hotel. It's huge. I'm either trying to remember where my room is, or wanting to get out of there and go home, but I can't get a cab and have no idea where the closest subway stop might be.

Based on the above, you might wonder what it is about my dreams that I find so compelling. Ha. Well, I also have incredible dreams in which I can fly. Sometimes I dream that the planets are huge in the sky. In those dreams the awe I feel is palpable. When I'm at my house on the cliff I often gaze at the place where fresh water meets salt water. It feels profound though I can't explain why.

Jake is often in my dreams, as well as my parents and other people I loved who have died. It's always nice to hang out, even though they no longer inhabit bodies in the "real" world.

Not every dream is repetitive. Not every dream is a challenge. Some dreams are just fun. I love those dreams!

This morning when I woke up I couldn't bring to mind any scenes or characters from my dream. When I asked myself Where was I? all I "heard" was Everything is better in Israel!

That's interesting, hey? I wonder if parts of the dream will emerge later today. Sometimes I'll see someone on the street or hear a bird or just as I'm handing money to the guy behind the counter at the corner market, a snip or bit of the dream will come back to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?

I am intrigued! Everything is better in Israel? Everything? Well, then, ok.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Why I don't read novels

I saw somewhere on the internet yesterday a list of reasons why reading is good for us. We love our lists! One of the reasons reading novels is beneficial is that it increases empathy, or so the list said.

When I try to read novels, what I ordinarily decide is that the author is working through something, a personal issue. In other words, it's hard to get involved because it feels like none of my business. I get that the author needed to write the book, but do I need to read it? I don't feel like I learn anything from novels. I would much rather read history or science books.

Less and less as I grow older am I interested in the psychology of people. I love to hear their stories, though not so I will understand them.

What I like about people is the energy around them, the patterns of their stories (as opposed to the content). I like seeing how people navigate their way through this crazy experience of life. Some people are incredibly original in approach. Others follow a script that seems to have been written several generations ago. I have no opinion about how life is lived as long as no animals are harmed in the process. Should say unduly harmed. Life is harmful, there are consequences to every twist and turn. The food chain is a bitch in terms of perceived harm. But we perhaps shouldn't go out of our way to harm others, yes? It's good to try not to.

I like the patterns, the energy, the way that energy feels when my energy interacts with it. Why people do what they do is not as interesting. I figure there's something lovely, also something really gnarly, about everyone. Do I need the details? I really don't. Does that mean I have no capacity for empathy? It could. I'm kind in general and tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. Isn't that good enough?

Hmmm. Maybe I do need to work on empathy. Do I? If so, must that learning come from novels? Hope not!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Keep it simple

The color is all wrong here. I can't get it right, no matter how I try. These lilies, in real life, are deep mahogany.

Summer solstice is right around the corner. In the Reyaverse, solstice is a time of concentrated energy, worthy of my attention. In summer, the denseness of energy is the result of an overabundance of light. There is such a thing, there is.

I loved the Reclaiming beach rituals for the solstices. At summer solstice there was a wicker man, always home made and homely, if elaborate, at the center of a rather large fire circle. The effigies were huge some years, sometimes more modest. It depended completely on who volunteered to make it.

We brought to the ritual the stuff we were ready to say goodbye to. We brought symbols of ended relationships and life eras now concluded, also mundane odds and ends like the stubs of wax left after the candle has burned out, old spells and such. We decorated the wicker man with our stuff.

There were always lots of roses at those rituals, roses on the wicker man, also there was always a rose wreath that was passed around the circle after the wicker man had begun to burn. To gaze through the wreath at the solstice fire would give us clear vision through the darkening half of the year.

Very cool.

Even cooler, just as the sun set into the Pacific, an archer strapped a sparkler onto an arrow, lit the sparkler, then sent the arrow into the sky, up then down towards the western horizon. I loved watching the sparkler soar through the sky. Also loved the sound of the arrow as it was released from the bow. There is music in archery, for sure.

It was an elegant send off for Brother Sun. The years when the burning man's fire sputtered out just as the sun set were especially magical. Sometimes, though, that fire burned on and on, in which case the drummers would start up and people would dance around for awhile.

I was never that great as a pagan for many reasons. I'm too uptight, I guess. I did not enjoy dancing naked around a campfire at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Even considering the peer pressure at those gatherings, I mostly kept my clothes on. The rituals were held on the beach at the foot of Taravel Street which runs right through the middle of the Sunset district. It was hardly private.

That was then and this is now. I still dance with the solstice. I like to sit on the west steps of the Capitol, fully clothed, watching Brother Sun sink down behind the monuments, the river and Arlington National Cemetery. There is no archer, no sparkler salute. There is no burning man. The Pacific Ocean is 3,000 miles away.

I celebrate the solar year in a quiet way these days. I'm far better suited to it, and Brother Sun doesn't seem to mind the form of my worship. It's the sincerity of observance that matters, not the structure.

Let there be light! Shalom.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Let there be light

Brother Sun spends a lot of time in the sky at this time of year. Because he is so far south at midday, even the ambient light inside my north facing apartment is significantly brighter than in winter. The days are much longer and everything is filled with light. Let there be light, indeed!

Once upon a time I was not fond of the solstices. In winter it was too dark, in summer, too light. I railed against the extremes as I struggled to get a grip on my own extreme nature. You see I've been pursuing the Tao of Goldilocks for many years. Many, many years.

Yesterday a friend said there is love in discipline. Is that right? I think it is, depending on the discipline of course. Jake used to love training sessions. Following commands was one of his favorite things. It made sense to him, helped him be slightly calmer. We never did anything elaborate, just the usual sit, down, stay. I was lazy about it, though, especially as he grew older. In fact I'm lazy in my practice of many disciplines that would do me a world of good. It's not like I have a solid grip on impulse control in general.

But I have not been lazy about the discipline of mindfulness meditation. I sit every day - every day. Sometimes when traveling I'll skip a day, but I get right back to it. I'm almost superstitious about it. Is there a love for the practice in my heart of hearts? I'm thinking about it.

One thing I can say for sure is that the solstices don't bother me as much as they used to. I'm enjoying the bright solstice days. I'm marveling at the tiny shadows of things at noon, how compressed every shadow becomes. I'm enjoying the afternoon light that comes through a kitchen window only at this time of year. At summer solstice, Brother Sun enters the kitchen, catches the crystals hanging in the window, fills the kitchen with rainbows. It only happens at this time of year.

My working theory is that I am more tolerant of the solstices because I'm closer to living the Tao of Goldilocks than I once was. These days I leave it mostly to Brother Sun to enact the extremes. I feel liberated from the need to push hard, first this way, then that. Hence I'm able to enjoy the splendor of the solstices.

Whether or not I love it, I am grateful for my meditation practice and whatever the hell it is that compels me to set the timer and sit down every morning. I am wisely guided.

We've had a lot of rain lately. My rose begonias are so happy.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Living the Tao of Goldilocks

Churchyard on 8th St. NE between Constitution and C. Oh the light of summer solstice!

If you could see my natal astrological chart, if you had studied astrology, you would understand instantly why moderation was not historically my best thing. My chart is a diagram of extremes in opposition to one another. I've got some things working in my chart to help me prevail and work with the oppositions, but there's nothing about moderation there. The picture of my innate intensity is so clear in my natal chart that once upon a time a friend had a teeshirt made for me with my natal chart and the words "It's not my fault!" above the image. Yeah.

Once upon a time in my life I pitched first this way, then that, almost always to damaging extremes. Imagine one person on a teeter totter, standing on top of the plank, running from the end on the ground to the one in the air. Imagine me barely pausing at the center, running hard up the plank until gravity brings the upper end crashing down to the ground.

It was interesting to live that way and now the memories make for some dramatic storytelling. Memories of my early adulthood also carry with them a considerable number of regrets. There's nothing wrong with that; I did the best I could. Nobody's perfect.

I've been thinking about it since the Voice in the Shower asked me why my love of mindfulness meditation has to be such a big secret.

Me: I do NOT love meditation! I have to force myself to do it each and every morning.
VinS: If you didn't love it, you would make up a story about why you don't have to meditate.

I've been thinking about it, about whether I love meditation. I can not agree with the Voice on this one. I do not love to meditate. It's a discipline, like flossing my teeth (something I also do every day). Though meditation is always interesting, it's rarely pleasurable for me. It is necessary, end of story.

If I said I loved to floss my teeth, wouldn't that make me a little weird?

Whether or not I love meditation, what I can say is that it has helped me manage my temperament of extremes in opposition. This is a good thing. Earlier in life I had more energy for the intensity. But now I'm sixty. I'm glad meditation is a central part of my practice. But do I LOVE it? I do not.

Shortly after yesterday's new moon at noon, the overcast cleared and Brother Sun emerged. After swimming around in the Gulf of Mexico for a couple of days, the baby moon brought in a beautiful, clear, early summer afternoon. I spent it with a beloved dear one, walking around, taking pictures, ending up at the Matchbox bar and an art opening. It was a sweet afternoon of moderation, considering I could have decided to go down to the Mall for either Pride celebrations: joyousness, partying, color, laughter, or to see the Million Bone Project: a grim art installation meant to increase consciousness about the price of genocide.

This city is so crazy. Both of those events were taking place in DC simultaneously. Good lord. Is it any wonder people go mad when they come here to help govern this country?

Pride was too much of one thing, Genocide too much of another. Instead of either extreme, I stayed on the Hill, spent quality hang-out time with someone I love beyond all reason, but rarely see. It wasn't too hot or too cold, too big or too small. Yesterday I was living the tao of Goldilocks. Here, here!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Gravity is Reality

Boy did I ever get high from the wedding. The joy and perfection of the ceremony was an elixir. Add to the dizzy juice of love a couple of plane rides and - well - I was three sheets to the solar wind. I was still flying around several days after landing in DC. Woo hooooo!

Someone told me that jet lag is the time it takes your soul to catch up with your body. Truth!

Ah but every lovely flight must come to an end. What goes up, must come down. The Sufi acupuncturist brought me back to earth Wednesday. Since that treatment, I can once again smell and taste, construction noise and traffic annoy me, I've once again become very picky about what I eat, what music is playing, etc. I am back to myself.

After the treatment, he said, "You'll be of better service now." I thought at the time he meant I would be better able to care for my clients. Interesting to think about.

I don't normally consider my work to be service because I love my work, I really do. It sustains me on so many levels. It helps me. It serves me. It is grounding, satisfying, challenging and fits like a glove, more so the longer I practice. Somehow that doesn't feel like service to me.

I guess the idea of service can go both ways, hey?

Life is good and I am grateful. Shalom.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Double lives

The Reyaverse is a multiverse in which there are layers of reality, layers of truth. THE truth does not exist in the Reyaverse. There are many truths.

This is not an original idea. The cosmologies of many different cultures, from all over the world, throughout time, contain more than one truth, one reality. There are three worlds, or nine. Sometimes seven, sometimes more than that.

The most recent incarnation of that idea comes to us via the astrophysicists. Here's a link to a video of the fabulous Neil de Grasse Tyson speaking about the multiverse. He is a very clear channel, as was Carl Sagan. I love the people who speak for the stars. Even I, living in a multiverse, need to be reminded that there is not some objective reality out there.

In addition to past lives, I have alternate lives. Do you? For instance, in an alternate reality I am a bass player named Reggie. I'm awkward and lanky, a bit too tall, painfully shy. I have long messy dreads, smoke weed from morning to night and never take off my sunglasses. I'm a decent bass player in that reality - soulful but not star material.

I'm not the only one with multiple lives. Think about Superman and Batman - think of Walter Mitty. I know they're fictional characters, but still.

When I work on clients, sometimes I can "see" the outfits they wear in their alternate lives. I see suits of armor all the time on mothers of young children. They are mighty, noble, fearless. I admire these women so much. Sometimes I see regal attire, or more surprising, rags, on the alternate selves of Capitol Hill's wealthy citizens. I wonder what the heck is going on in those alternate realities.

Yesterday in the middle of a session it came to me that the person I was working on had recently discarded her Navy Seal Barbie uniform. Even more startling than having this information come to me all of a sudden was her response when I mentioned it. She seemed to know exactly what I was talking about. How weird is that?

We are multi-faceted beings, we surely are. Complicated. Endlessly fascinating.

Do you have alternate identities? It's fun to think about, gives you something to do while you wait for the Metro train or while in line at the supermarket. It's creative and as long as you wonder about it with a light heart and skeptical mind, it will cause no harm. Who are you in alternate realities? Well?

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Laughing Zombie

Luc and Jeanine, about to take their vows.

I don't enjoy traveling. I dislike living out of a suitcase, sleeping in unfamiliar environments, in unfamiliar beds. Except for travel by train or boat, I'm disenchanted and exhausted by every form of transportation.

Don't even get me started about cars and highways - yuck.

I could get into an even bigger rant about travel by airplane. The only benefit to that is that it's fast. Otherwise, the experience sucks.

Once I reach my destination, even if it's in the same time zone, I suffer from jet lag. I am completely disoriented. To get from Point A to Point B I must rely, at ever 5 or 6 steps, on google maps. I think my body drops into a minor state of shock when I travel. I feel nothing. I can't tell if I'm hungry, or alternately, my stomach hurts. I don't sleep and I can't feel much of anything. I drink lots of coffee that has no effect. No matter what I eat, it does not agree with me. I can't taste or smell. I might as well be on the International Space Station - except I feel the pull of gravity. Oh yeah.

Once upon a time, one of my cohorts named me a priestess of place. It is so true. When uprooted from my familiar setting, I'm off kilter. Such was the case in Indianapolis over the weekend. I'm not sure any combination of Bach and ironing could have brought me back into balance.

I decided to go with it, not feel ashamed of being discombobulated, and carry on in spite of it all.

I was there with a friend I've known a long time, someone who makes me laugh my ass off. This really helped. As long as I was going to be a zombie, why not a laughing zombie? Well, why not?

In spite of my prevailing bewilderment, the weekend was really great. Hanging out with my friend is always a good thing. She moved away from the DC area last year so our paths haven't crossed. I love her. Hanging out was wonderful.

Also wonderful: the wedding. Jeanine and Luc assembled more than the wedding party for the rehearsal dinner. In addition to the bridesmaids, groomsmen and family, they invited a bunch of those near and dear to them. They created an ad hoc community that, by the end of Friday's dinner, generated its own energy field. Those of us who bonded at the rehearsal dinner carried the soul of that lovely experience to the wedding the next day. I don't know if they did it on purpose or not - but it worked.

There were many more people in attendance at the wedding and reception than at the rehearsal dinner, yet the tapestry of connection we wove at the dinner acted as a central pillar of energy for the wedding - which was absolutely great. If you have any doubt that the wedding was fabulous, gaze at the pictures above. C'mon. It was perfection. Someone read a Walt Whitman poem. We prayed at the end of the ceremony for people who are ill or poor or suffering. In offering that prayer we generously shared the beautiful energy of the wedding. Fabulous. And you should have heard the toasts at the reception! They were personal and yet included everyone listening. We came to know the bride and groom much better, we fell in love with Jeanine and Luc by listening to the toasts. I am honored to have been a part of the celebration.

Just as I was figuring out which way was which, it was time to come home. Even coming back to a familiar landscape throws me a little. Last night dear friends made dinner for me - so wonderful. I couldn't taste a thing. But we had fun, we laughed, feasted. Even as a travel zombie, I can have a good time.

Life is so sweet, and I believe in love. I am grateful. Shalom.

From the Indianapolis Art Museum