Monday, September 30, 2013

Depth Perception


The shamanic lifestyle is so interesting - to the shaman, at least. We practice hard so as to be available to insights passing by in the ocean of energy in which we live. We go on trance journeys hither and yon, we listen to the voices of the trees, sky, clouds, planets and animals because we believe that the world, and everything in it, is sentient. When we open to a wider spectrum of sensory input than is thought to be acceptable, a lot of information comes in. We can get out there. Oh we surely can. During phases when we're experiencing a flood of insight, we straddle the line between shamanism and just plain insanity. Particularly in my society, this can be challenging.

What I was taught is that mastery in the Art has to do with discernment, with being able to decide which auguries, which omens, which signs are worthy of attention. Because if we try to pay attention to everything that's meaningful, we will be overwhelmed. We will derail and be unable to function. That way lies madness. Oh yeah.

The signs are always present. As shamans we must be choosy. No matter how fascinating the insights, the truth is - we have to do the laundry, we have to pay the rent. We have relationships with embodied humans and animals we must attend to. Body trumps spirit in every situation.

Usually it isn't that hard for me, I think in part because I'm a bodyworker. There is nothing as grounding as that. But this dramatic shift in my photographic eye, which I now believe to be directly related to what I took in visually and energetically while up at the lake, has opened a new layer of perception in me. My third eye has a new lens. This is normal for shamans. Over time, with practice, new information and new techniques of practice are revealed. That's why old shamans are valued in all cultures where they're acceptable. It's a lifelong Art to learn.

I mention all this because as I focus the new lens of insight/outer sight, I'm seeing/noticing many things I was blind to before the trip to the lake. Even the things I'm used to "seeing" (in my mind's eye) are more vivid, changed somehow. My dreams are potent, helpful and very different than my usual dream patterns. I have a new animal guide, the soulful carrier pigeon who is teaching me a great many things about gentleness and also about communicating in code. So interesting! I'm seeing signs everywhere, from my breakfast bowl to the clouds in the skies to the tiny mouse I saw scamper across the sidewalk yesterday.

Artists of every kind, philosophers and other deep thinkers, and real scientists are renowned for going off the deep end on occasion. It's part of how we stretch the imagination, it's part of our creative process.

Today I've only got one client. My gadgets are working. I love my camera. The chaos of recent weeks has begun to settle down. I'm intent on a nice walk this morning during which I'm going to concentrate on being grounded and centered rather than wandering around all wide third-eyed and Oh wow as I have been since I got back from the lake.

Instead of taking it all in, as I have been, I'm commencing the process of discernment. I have a new lens. OK. I've taken it on a spin around the block as it were, and oh wow, the things I can see. But now I'm thinking, how shall I use it? For instance, I've been told that the Akashic records of all the stars in the galaxy are stored in a library in the black hole at the galactic core. The ancestral records of Brother Sun, and every other star that makes up the Milky Way, are accessible at 26 degrees of Sagittarius. OK. Cool. However ... is it necessary for my work in my brief life as a human being to know that, to work with stellar Akashic records? Maybe. But I'm setting it aside for the moment, with gratitude, should say. I'm sorting through the possibilities, organizing them. This is a sign of returning balance, a great thing.

It's another beautiful day in DC. I will walk and feel my feet on the ground. I will enjoy the secure tug of gravity that keeps me rooted to this beautiful planet. I will put a nice lens cover over my new third eye lens, give it a rest.

It's good to be back. It surely is. Shalom.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ride the wild surf

I have been out of synch, oh man, have I ever. It started when my old camera broke, I think. Or maybe I could trace this short period of chaos to re-entry after the trip to the lake, when I couldn't "see" anything. Once my photographic eye was disrupted, like a line of carefully placed dominoes, all kinds of other things went haywire. The chaos erupted from out of the nowhere in many arenas of life - physical, mental/emotional, spiritual. It has been rather crazy.

In the Reyaverse what that means is that somehow I've gotten caught up in a wild eddy of energy. We live in an ocean of energy. It's easy to get off track, out of synch. It is so easy! Suddenly you find yourself twirling in a vortex of crazy energy. And the shit goes down all around for awhile. Do you know what I'm talking about?

Just as with canoeing, when I figure out I'm swirling out of control, I must skillfully navigate my way to gentler waters. Sometimes I'm skillful, sometimes not so much. One good thing is that I've had a lot of practice.

Getting back to center always involves some thrashing. I have thrashed this past week, oh my. I've had crazy dreams, been introduced to a new spirit animal guide, received many an insight. It hasn't all been bad. I hurt someone's feelings, not on purpose, but that was hard - and unexpected. My massage therapist forgot about the appointment we had, the first time that has happened in the two or three years I've been seeing her regularly, like clock-work, every other week. Massage is contraindicated in the midst of trying to right oneself. I guess! My devices went crazy. Suddenly even my computer refused to recognize my old passwords. I could go on but I'm sure you get the picture.

It took three tries to replace the camera that died. I'm extremely pleased with the Panasonic Lumix that I've ended up with. Learning the camera is quite a curve. Even though it's still a point and shoot, there are many more features than I've ever had. It's a beautiful being that deserves respect. I always threw my old cameras in my pocket, believing that the best camera is the one you always have with you. But after the old one died I realized I needed to step it up this time.

Suddenly today the energy changed. I felt I had somehow groped my way back to a nice, smooth current in the ocean of energy in which we live. I felt calmer, my stomach didn't hurt. I had energy for my clients. A Genius Bar appointment after work solved my gadget problems, and in fact I took it as a sign I was coming back into synch (such as I ever am) that my genius bar guy was someone I've worked with before. I could have been assigned to any of them, but somehow my number came up just as he began his shift.

Periods of chaos are a part of living life in this wondrous world. In the Reyaverse, avoiding chaos is not possible all the time. Weather moves through lives. It's nerve-wracking as it happens but at age 60, I've been there and done that. I can remember other periods of growth and change. I can remember that eventually things settle down.

No matter, it's good to feel more even, grounded and oriented again. It surely is.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I feel like my brain has been amputated

I'm like a drug addict coming off something cold turkey. I'm talking about not having a camera. It is so hard.

I'm using some fun iphone "camera" trickery to create images that are rather interesting, but they aren't photographs. It's unsatisfying and I'm cranky as hell. The iphone "camera" is awkward to use, has no zoom whatsoever (you can zoom but the result is so grainy, it isn't worth it). It is not sufficient for My Great Need to Take Photographs. Ipics are the methadone to the top grade opium of photography taken with a real camera.

It isn't as if I didn't understand how important photography is to me. I've always been a photographer, since I was a little girl. I have albums, boxes and drawers full of old pictures. I have albums full of polaroids too of course. Once digital cameras came into my life, nothing could stop me from plunging even further into the practice of this life long pursuit.

My ex-camera had just passed the 50,000 image mark when it gave up the ghost. I took 50,000 pictures, had 50,000 thoughts.

Now, coming off my daily fix, I am fit to be tied. I'm having no thoughts, nothing, nada. The lightbulb above my head is switched off, replaced with a buzzing fluorescent question mark.

I would head out to Embassy Camera in a shot except I've been working full days without sufficient breaks between clients to do a proper study of the possibilities for my new camera. I need to work now, make hay while the sun shines, since there's likely to be a government shutdown next week, in which case everyone will cancel their appointments -- or so I fear this may happen.

I could order something over the internet, but I need to hold my cameras, look at them in real life, before purchase. I'm not sure what I want yet. Reading specs on the computer is meaningless to me.

As well, it seems important to go through this painful withdrawal. It's a forced restart for my thinking process. I'm forcing my mind to seek new paths through the logjam of my neural network. They say that this kind of abrupt change of habit helps keep the aging brain from hardening into concrete, so that's a good thing.

Is it? My mood is foul, I'm struggling to write here and on the other blog. My entire creative process has been upended.

But meanwhile I've been given tremendous dreams, a new animal guide, too. I'm doing a lot of Reiki sessions at the moment, too. My spiritual side is stretching out even as the way I think, via Walking While Taking Pictures, is not possible at the moment.

Is it another bloody opportunity for growth? Hence, maybe a very good thing all around? I don't know. I can't think, and I am not enjoying this part!

I'm telling you that trip up to the Finger Lakes packed a wallop. Wow. Or should I say whoa?


The look on my face says it all. This thing is NOT a camera!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Taken in mid-September, during a downpour.

I feel censored! I feel stuck! I feel as if an important appendage has been cut off!

My camera died and replacing it is turning out to be more of a project than it has been in the past, hence I'm camera-less for a few days. May I be honest? I'm kind of freaking out.


What I'm getting is that my brain has mapped itself to think in accordance with the process of me walking around and taking pictures. Somehow these activities have been braided together. Pulling out one of the components, in this case, the camera, has been rather tragic. It's alarming and also hilarious.

Of course I'll get a new camera. The first day I have time this week I'll figure it out either at a very nice camera shop in DC or over the internet. I've gotten great suggestions and advice from family and friends. In researching I'm realizing how important this tool is to me. Instead of buying another of the same without a lot of thought about it, as I have when my old cameras died, I'm thinking about what kind of tool would best serve me now. I'm being choosy. This is evolution and also it is unsettling.

And funny.

A few months ago I worried because I felt called to listen to really weird music, like Korean classical music and Bollywood, for instance. I thought this behavior might signal some kind of pathology. A dear one suggested I might be trying to shake loose some cobwebs in the dusty corners of my mind/heart. He was spot on. And now the shaking, the loosening of cobwebs continues.

I'm exploring the connections between photography and my mind - because I have to. I am camera-less! Yikes!! It's interesting and unnerving.

And funny!


An "old" picture from a few days ago.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

You may say I'm a dreamer.

In last night's dream, I was being taught how to use spheres made from glass and jade for healing. The night before that I dreamed I was receiving a tattoo of the dove from the biblical story of the flood, the dove that returned with evidence of land. The tattoo was on my breastbone, dead center between my breasts. The funny part was waking up to discover a mosquito bite there. It must have been itching while I slept, but still.

I could go on. I've been dreaming like crazy lately and these dreams have a very different quality than my usual nighttime programming. Problems I often have in dreams are solved and I'm contending with something new. Instead of searching for my car in the dream, I'm in the car. The other night in the car, an old lady was behind the driver's seat. I wanted her to stop the car but she was driving back up to the finger lakes. When I demanded she stop, she said, "You're no fun." Ha!

Coincidentally this string of powerful, numinous dreams is simultaneous with my reading of Robert Moss's Dreamways of the Iroquois. I'm learning a lot, especially in terms of shamanic perspective. For instance, he talks about how our animal spirit guides hunt for us. I always thought I had called for them, asked, prayed for their assistance. I thought they heard the call and came to help. I believe in a reciprocal multiverse, but had never thought about it before. It's true that every one of my animal guides presented itself to me. They must have been looking for me. It's entertaining to think about.

One thing I find tedious are the chapters of personal narrative - how he came to be a shaman, especially. Who cares? Even more tedious are the numerous anecdotes meant to prove he's a REAL shaman. I do not need convincing.

Still the book is inspiring me to dream many fantastic dreams. According to the Iroquois, that means I'm a REAL shaman. Hell yeah. I'm down with that for sure!

It's another perfectly beautiful early fall day in DC. I'm out of here in a minute to walk and wonder about my dreams. Tonight I'm cooking dinner for friends. The city has settled in the aftermath of the mass shootings. We got over it rather quickly, as a city. These mass shootings are part of the American experience now; we have to adapt. But how sad.

May you stay away from crazy people with powerful guns!

May your day be sweet and dreamy. Shalom.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I hate guns

The problem I have with the Law of Attraction is that it makes it seem easy, as if all you have to do is focus clearly. Sure, sure. Focus clearly and everything you want will come to you in the blink of an eye. Really?

The mind is powerful, it surely is.  But, umm, everyone's mind is powerful. When I think of the traffic jams of competing wishes and prayers out there, clogging up time/space like the Monday morning commute, I have to laugh. It's a wonder anyone's dreams ever come true. For heaven's sake. Oh that Abraham Hicks - he is a consummate snake oil salesman.

I dream of a U.S. that is not gun focused, gun centered and gun crazy. I've visualized it clearly so many times. I have prayed, I have called on the angels and wise ancestors to help us. My focus increases after mass shootings, of course, but I live in a violent city. It's always on my mind.

It's not just me. I'm not the only one who wishes we could slow the number of gun related deaths in the U.S. But the grip of gun madness is intense. None of these murders, even of the school children in Connecticut, seems to put the tiniest dent in the madness. Gun madness is a powerful demon served by many Americans. It scares me.

Of course I'm thinking about it in the wake of yesterday's mass murder shootings at the DC Navy Yard, about a mile from the chateau.

All morning the sirens wailed as police, EMTs, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles raced up and down 8th street. At first I thought, summer is over. But after awhile I realized something horrible must be going on. Sadly, I was correct.

In the U.S., guns are at the center of a very creepy cult. Gun people are scary. They would rather have everyone heavily armed, including people who are crazy, than allow for the wisdom of restricting access. They are slaves to their guns. There is nothing rational in the way they talk about guns. Scary.

Today I'm going to turn around my anger and instead try to send healing to the families of the victims. I'm lucky to have the day off. I'll walk and look at the beautiful blue sky. I'll go grocery shopping (one of my favorite comfort behaviors) and cook something delicious. I might make an apple pie, too.

I will give thanks that I was safe yesterday, that I didn't happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I will dream and pray that as a nation we wake up to this disease of gun lust, try to turn it around. I don't believe in the Law of Attraction, but I have to pray. I just have to.


That's the chateau reflected in my coffee cup.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ain't misbehavin'

I thought about bad behavior yesterday as I walked around. It's an appropriate train of thought on Yom Kippur, after all.

One thing I often wonder about is whether animals have within them an urge to be better - whatever that means - like we do. Do dogs reflect, for instance, on how they could have peed higher on the tree or think to themselves they should have barked more loudly at the mailman? Dogs do feel remorse, but it seems more like they're unhappy that we're unhappy. Dogs appear miraculously unashamed of their behaviors.

They say horses are psychologically a lot like us. Do they think about standing tall, running fast, or are they more zen in the moment of their behavior? It's obvious that some animals have very complicated psyches. From what I hear about elephants, they might be into self help like we are.

We humans are way into the idea of striving to be better - smarter, more accomplished, famous, rich, beautiful, etc. Is this instinctual, too? Is it a form of pack hierarchy behavior?

Clearly I've done a lot of thinking about our striving to be good. Likewise I am always entertained by thoughts about what we consider to be bad behavior. I'm not talking about the extremes of evil. That is a pathology of imbalance. Sometimes I think we look to Hitler, et. al. in an attempt to diminish the shame we feel about our relatively mild misbehaviors. Compared to Hitler, most people are angels!

Everyone lies, steals, kills (the food chain is a bitch no matter how refined your diet might be). Everyone cheats, manipulates, gossips, argues. As with everything else we humans believe somehow, if we just try hard enough, we can escape normal human behavior. Or maybe we just think we should try.

I think we have to try to be kind, compassionate. We have to try to acquire wisdom. I don't hold out for shining perfection from any of us, but that should never stop us from trying. I am not a cynic. I like it that humans are complicated, that we struggle and try so hard to be good. I love our pangs of conscience when we've behaved badly. We are a noble species, by and large.

One thing that came to me yesterday is that almost all of my bad behavior, through my sixty years, has been the result of fear and/or a stomach ache. The one major exception is the soul loss period when I was bound up by doing way too much magic. It's interesting to think about.

A glorious Sunday to you complicated humans. Shalom.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Yom Kippur

Contemplating the crossroads at the American Indian Museum.

It's Yom Kippur.

I started the day by praying and meditating, then took my coffee out to the terrace so I could gaze at the sky for awhile. Though I walk every day, and definitely look at the sky while I'm walking, I had gotten out of the habit of just sitting down outside, gazing at the sky. One gift of the trip to the lake was rediscovering that practice. I'm a little unkempt when I sit down with morning coffee. I think I've been too self conscious to sit in a public front yard on East Capitol Street before I've cleaned up, but since the lake, I've decided I can run a brush through my hair and put on something slightly less dodgy than my jammies. With minimal effort I can make myself almost presentable even first thing in the a.m. It is worth it!

In a little while I'll take a shower, get out for a walk on this spectacular day of perfect, crisp, bittersweet fall weather. The light is gold, the sky a shocking blue. I will have to wear a light jacket. It is perfection.

The sky above the chateau this morning.

Later today I'll work on a couple of clients. They aren't just anyone. On Yom Kippur I was given the opportunity to work on two incredible, powerful, insightful young women. It's perfect.

Oh - I know, most Jews will spend their day much differently than I. They'll be in temple singing and praying, hungry/thirsty. In the afternoon they'll lapse into a daze generated by all the prayer, song and fasting. They will nap or zone out in some way that makes it possible for God to speak to them. The fasting, singing and non-stop praying helps cut through the wall of sound that surrounds most people. The observance of Yom Kippur dissolves every routine, puts people into a mild state of shock that opens space for a direct sit down with God. At least this is what I've experienced. It's very powerful.

Yom Kippur, like all Jewish holidays, is based on family and community. I love thinking of my kin gathering today to observe the holiday. Tonight I'll join the Temple Micah community at a neighborhood Break Fast dinner. I go every year and always look forward to it. I'll hear about the sermons and how the day went, I'll hear about the problems finding parking and other annoyances. We will eat apples dipped in honey and toast the new year together. I will see my friends and neighbors arrive kind of shriveled. As they begin to eat and drink again I'll see them plump out like one of those super skinny sponges that doubles its size when immersed in water. I'll watch their walls of sound come back. Their voices will become fuller, louder. There will be laugher. This is how a new year should begin.

In the meantime, I'll be doing my thing with God on my own. The God I worship does not care how or even if I observe the holidays. The God I worship only cares that I am sincere.

I am sincerely grateful for my good health, creative mind, and vibrancy. I'm sincerely grateful to live in this beautiful space on this beautiful street in the heart of my beloved Capitol Hill. I give thanks for my community, friends, clients and family and for all the seasons of life I've experienced and survived. I feel well cared for and guided.

This year, Yom Kippur is all about sincere thankfulness. Man, am I lucky! I surely am.

Onwards to 5774. Shalom.

Wings? A big heart? Taken at the corner of 7th and Pennsylvania Ave. SE yesterday.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In the here and now as the old year bites the dust

I've come back to myself at last, fully and finally. What a relief! I took many pictures yesterday. Today I went out to look at the clouds as the sun rose. I could feel the heat and stickiness, I could smell the skanky swamp in which I live. I noticed things, I could hear the traffic, sirens, helicopters, people on cell phones. I stopped, I looked, listened and smelled. I am present - more or less.

The timing of this soul retrieval is lovely. Today a big weather front will roll through, sweeping the thick air and stink out into the Atlantic. Behind the front the meteorologists promise cool, crisp, fall-like weather. Ahhh.

But I'm still thinking about the lakes. I'm already searching for a place to stay next year. Of course. I would love to go up in winter, see ice and snow. Sometimes the north ends of the lakes freeze over, they say. Wow.

But wait! Earth to Reya: be here now.

I've returned just in time for a last go of internal work in observance of the Days of Awe. It's my last chance to engage with the cycle of the year just past and wonder what kind of encounter I need with God this year on Yom Kippur (begins at sunset tomorrow). I wish to conclude the year's business with a peaceful heart, if possible. The book of life will close whether or not I've finished my internal work. I'd best get to it!

I know I'll have a lot of questions for God about becoming old, turning 60. I'm also ready to let go of a bit more of my tendency to apologize and feel ashamed about everything. It's a process I've been working on for a few years; no doubt there's more there. Who knows what other kinds of insights Yom Kippur will bring? Being present gives me the best chance of engaging fully in the holiday, something I love to do.

I'll have time Friday night and Saturday morning to talk to God. In the afternoon I'll see clients, then go to the neighborhood Break Fast dinner as I have for many years.

One message I don't need to hear from God: that life is a precious existence. I know it. I feel it. I can smell, taste and touch the sweetness, I surely can. Life is good and I am grateful. Shalom.

Sunset over East Capitol Street.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Eyesight and Insight

Taken with the iphone yesterday. At last I am able to see something interesting.

I know I've been back almost a week, but I'm still reverberating from the journey to Canandaigua. My goodness, what a trip!

An example of continuing resonance is the fact that until yesterday, I couldn't see the landscape here in my beloved city. I can see visually, but am somehow incapable of noticing the stuff I usually do - reflections in car doors and hoods, flowers, you know. Since I returned, this beautiful city appears to my eye as flat and uninteresting, dull. I have not even been able to notice what's going on in the sky. It's very weird. As I sat gazing out over the lake last week, walking through the gorge, strolling around the little villages, I had no idea the experience would have this kind of lasting impact. How could I have known? This has never happened to me before.

Because I have not been able to notice, I have not taken many pictures. I think I've only taken 3 or 4, and only yesterday captured an image I like (at the top of the post).

As if to encourage me to open my eyes to this land, the land where I am at the moment, window washers came to the chateau yesterday morning. I did not schedule the window washing, believe me, but oh the timing of it, oh my. Events such as this belong in the category of You-can't-make-this-stuff-up. Oh yeah.

If life were a dream (and it is) what would it mean to have sparkling clean windows at the very moment when I realize I'm blind to the beauty of my usual landscape? The timing was impeccable. I love clean windows - and - I love synchronicities.

I'll head out in a little while to run a few errands before I see clients this afternoon. I intend to look at the sky carefully, to take it in. I want to remember that the Milky Way is up there even though I can't see it. The stars are there, even though I can't see them. The disc of our galaxy is invisible during the day because of the brilliance of Brother Sun and the earth's atmosphere, at night because of the light of the megalopolis in which I live. But the stars are up there, the Milky Way is there, always and forever. I'm hoping that truth will help my eye readjust. Will it work? We shall see.

These are the days of awe. As usual, I'm in synch with the holiday. Awesome!

Speaking of awesome, here's the last sunset at Canandaigua. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Seeing Stars

A constellation of candles, left over after dinner.

Where we stayed, on the west shore of the lake, halfway between the villages of Cananadiagua at the north end, and Naples at the south end, we were in the boonies. We were at least a half hour drive from anything except other little houses tucked into the mountain facing the water. It was rather farther away from civilization than I prefer.

The moon was dark, we were in the boonies, and after the first night, the sky was mostly clear. There were stars.

After dinner we blew out all the candles, turned out all the lights in the condo and sat patiently on the porch, waiting for our eyes to adjust. I timed it the last night. It took a half hour before my eyes stopped noticing new stars. Adjusting to the light was part of the magic of those star spangled skies. It was as if new stars were twinkling into existence.

One thing I noticed is that when I can see many many many many stars, it's harder for me to pick out the constellations. There are so many dots out there; well, you could connect them any of a number of ways. Usually when I can see the stars, it's just a few of them, just the bright markers in the familiar constellations. But the skies at Canandaigua were full of stars. I gave up trying to locate constellations and instead gazed mostly at the Milky Way.

When I was at Lake Tahoe a few years ago, I could see our galaxy, but it was faint as there was a sizeable moon that week. Prior to that the last time I saw it was from inside the circle of stones at Avebury. That was sometime in the early 2,000s.

I did not take this picture, but it looked like this.

As kids we saw it often. Now I hardly ever see it which is such a shame. The sight creates in everyone - really everyone! - jaw-dropping wonder. I despair to think of the people alive right now who grew up in cities and have never seen the Milky Way. They are deprived of something essential to our humanity, a birthright of every being on this planet. Dung beetles navigate by the light of the Way. There are stories and myths about it all over the world. It's depressing to think of the people who have, no doubt, seen pictures of it, but never the real deal.

The extended family of Brother Sun was vivid at the lake. Besides blueish white, I saw gold and even a fierce kind of violet color in the thickest parts of it. I kept saying, Hello Galactic Center! Hello! What I heard in response sounded like Nielsen's 4th symphony. It was loud but beautiful and harmonious. The galaxy definitely sings. It was almost unbearably beautiful.

Every night after dinner I opened my eyes, looked up. The Milky Way poured into my brain, I swear it did. I feel certain that what I received from the experience of seeing a vivid sky thick with stars will make me wiser, kinder and more inspired.

It's possible I took in a little too much, like a starving woman who suddenly happens upon a banquet. You can't blame me, though, can you?

That's reflected sunlight on the water just after sunrise.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Universal Solvent

They think it took 12,000 years to carve this gorge at Watkins Glen State Park. A blink of the eye in earth time, but for us, an unimaginable eternity. Water is persistent!

Water is yielding; it has to do with surrender. But water perseveres, as you can see. A trickle becomes a stream. In winter it freezes, expands, and cracks the rock beneath it. In spring, it thaws and runs harder against the rock. Time passes, et voila! Even more dramatic than the gorge pictured above is, of course, the Grand Canyon. Water is powerful and coherent. Every day at the lake I thought about surface tension. Water does not give up. It surely does not.

Water is moody, unpredictable. But it is also healing, cleansing. Water dissolves almost everything. Water is where life on earth began. Water is eternal.

I've often said I don't "get" water. I don't like water. What? What does that mean? How can I dislike water? I am a bag of water with some salts and other minerals, I surely am. When I say I dislike water, what am I saying? Well?

I take pictures of reflections in rain puddles at every opportunity, also from the hoods of cars that, although not technically puddle reflections, are definitely watery. Every mirror is in some way related to water, including the moon, including the rings of Saturn, for instance. I love mirrors! So - what have I been on about?

I learned a lot about water while at the lake. I learned a lot about myself, too.

It became clear to me, sitting on the deck mornings and afternoons, gazing out at the beautiful confluence of sky and lake, how the sky gathers water, puffs up with beautiful clouds, then returns the water in the form of rain, snow or ice. I watched the trades and sharing between sky and lake all week. There was little difference between the sky and the lake, almost nothing, really. They were two peas in a pod, they surely were. They are. It was a revelation.

I think of myself as a land dweller rather than a denizen of the sea. Of course I do, yes? I do not swim. Swimming pools are toxic with chlorine and natural bodies of water - well - things live in them. It creeps me out. When I swim I can't see a bloody thing unless I wear my glasses but then I worry they'll be swept away. I have never opened my eyes under water. When my sisters reminisce about the community swimming pool we belonged to when we were kids, what they remember is almost drowning. Yeah.

I do not enjoy being in the water! I never have. I do love being on the water. Put me in a canoe, please. Thank you.

Still, I'm amphibious in a sense, because I live and have my being in the ocean of air that envelops the planet. I kept thinking, I'm swimming whether I jump in the lake or not. 

Swimming from inside the condo. Spectacular.

On our last morning, after a few days of clear skies, the lake produced mist. It was as if the lake decided to help the sky. Soon after the mist came up, so did Brother Sun. Then a few pretty little clouds scattered themselves above the water. The mist inspired Father Sky to produce some lovely clouds. It was very sweet. Sky and lake are very dear partners. They dance. I, just like every other being on this planet, am a part of the dance of sky and water. Yep.

Since returning to DC, I've been wiped out, utterly exhausted. I assumed I would be energized and relaxed when I returned, but no. I feel like I swam across the English channel. My explanation - today at least - is that I received so much wisdom while I was there, I'll be bogged down for awhile as I integrate what I learned.

It was quite a trip! My goodness. I am grateful.

Mist on the lake.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Home sweet homies

Shamans around the world (well, the ones I've read about) have always been loners. They are the weird folk who live on the edge of the village. Shamans are not exactly popular - except when someone needs their help, kind of like the dentist maybe. Though - dentists are usually pretty normal people. Shamans are meant to be not so normal.

You never read about the happy, long lived marriages of shamans or about their children or ancestors of blood. The shaman-as-abandoned-orphan-who-never-marries is a common theme. In order to crack open shamanic perception, the shaman must undergo hardships - usually illness, insanity or injury, or all three. These hardships tend to make them ill suited to the usual discourse among humans.

Shamans are no good at cocktail parties. They are crap at smalltalk. When they speak, they say the weirdest things. No wonder they live in the tiny shack at the edge of the village and no wonder regular people cross the street to avoid them, unless they need healing. Good lord.

For awhile I was one of those shamans. I recognized, even strove to be the weirdo in the shack at the edge of the village. Looking back, I can not remember why that seemed so appealing. I pushed people away right and left, preferring the company of dead people, animal spirits and spirit guides. My cronies were the weather, the cloud people and the seasons.

I was very weird for awhile.

But when I left the Feri tradition and was brought into the blood of Mongolian shamanism, something shifted. One of the ways I shook off the energy, the "current" as it is often called, of Feri, was to study Judaism with the luminous Rabbi Manewith during her tenure at Temple Micah. I took classes and attended services for about a year, trying to bring myself back into some sort of balance.

I remember attending Yom Kippur services with the congregation, spending a long day packed into a tight space, praying, listening, singing. I remember, at one point, looking down at my feet. I was wearing shiny new shoes. I had dressed up, such as I do, and was spending the whole day as part of a community. The thought came to me in that moment that I was no longer feral, that I had rejoined the ranks of my fellow humans. It was a happy thought.

Funny hats

I don't regret my years on the edge of the village - I honestly don't. I learned so much and had the time/space to develop intimate relationships with my guides and the spirits of nature. I maintain those relationships of course, but I've also, in recent years, allowed certain humans into my inner sanctum again. Among these people: my siblings, from whom I wasn't exactly estranged, but had not been close to - not ever. I made an effort to come to know them better and they welcomed me with open arms. Also among the first people I let in were my housemates John and Manuel.

At the Finger Lakes, I could have disconnected from them, stayed with the water and sky rather than accompany them on our sojourns away from the water. They gave me a lot of space to commune with the land and weather, of course. They know me. But I didn't spend all my time with the spirits. I walked around the "downtowns" of Geneva, Canandaigua, Naples and Watkins Glen with them. If I'd been up there on my own, I would have spent all my time hiking, walking, talking to the landscape, but I was with John and Manuel. I wanted to hang out with them. We tasted wine, cooked dinner together every night. We listened to music, exchanged stories. We laughed a lot.

I delighted in their company. What a great sign of the balance I acquired after leaving Feri. Thank you, Rabbi Manewith!

Also may I say, it was a lot of fun. I really love them and am comfortable with them. We know each other's quirks and annoying habits, having shared a house for almost ten years, yet we are tolerant of each other! More than anything, what I enjoyed about the Finger Lakes was being with my old housemates. That is a bit of a revelation.

I have more to say about that, but not today.

Just one more thing: I was finally able, after several days, to contact the spirit of the Iroquois nation. What they said is that I didn't need them to interpret the voice of the land. I could speak directly to the lake, the sky, trees, birds and deer. I'm a shaman and apparently do not need a middle man. Well ok!

And so I did my shamanic dances with the water, the mountains, crows, the Milky Way. I learned a lot about that land, and especially about water, an element I've never really understood. I'll be writing about that for sure.

It was a wonderful, wonder full journey. It's great to be home, in my beautiful apartment in the chateau, in the heart of Eastern Market, the epicenter of my village of Capitol Hill. I do not live at the edge of town anymore, I surely do not. I keep company with the people, I have friends, family. I'm so glad!

I will post many, many more pics of the lake, I promise. This was my morning perch. While I communed with the spirits, John and Manuel left me to it. They know me.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Canandaigua bound

In my dream I was in Jerusalem. I didn't see any of the familiar landmarks or any buildings at all, but I knew we were there. A neighbor/client was my guide. She pointed out how pristine the land was. I remember looking down. Beneath my feet and all around us was bare rock, crumpled and scored, with a few spindly looking bushes growing out of the cracks. I remember thinking that the last time I'd seen Jerusalem (never, in real life), the rock had been obscured by layers of crap: moldy leaves, dirt, trash, garbage, refuse and other detritus. I was impressed. I said, "Somebody has done a great job cleaning up!" I was almost in awe at how clean it was.

When I woke up I thought about how I've decided to 'live clean' on this upcoming journey, to see if sticking more or less with my routine helps me be more at ease while I'm away from my beloved chateau, my beloved Capitol dome, my beloved neighbors and their dogs and kids. I find it very hard to ever leave the District.

When traveling, I love seeing the people and places, but the actual going and coming back is unpleasant unless it's by train. Also, once I've gone off my routines, I am miserable, can't sleep, suffer from a dodgy stomach, feel moody, cranky and homesick. It has recently dawned on me that going crazy with the coffee, booze and terrible food does not in any way enhance vacations. This time I'm going to keep up with my morning practice, drink only one cup of coffee, not too much wine, and stick as closely as I can to the no wheat/no cheese paradigm that works so well for me.

We shall see if that helps. I have a feeling it will greatly enhance my experience at the lake, but who knows? It's an experiment.

I'll see one more client today, finish the odds and ends around packing, watch a stupid movie, and go to sleep early. We head out at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Life is good and I am grateful. Shalom.