Monday, January 31, 2011

A brief history of lives

Begin usual disclaimer-- Whether the following is "true" or my imagination, some aspect of empathy, or if I'm just plain nuts, I can not say. I'm a skeptical mystic with a sense of humor. I know I could be full of it. That said, my belief in reincarnation is not revolutionary or anything. I'm not the first person, nor will I be the last, to believe this. My beliefs don't hurt anyone, and I'm not interested in trying to convince others they should agree with me. OK? --end disclaimer

I have a lot of past lives, and by the way, so do you! The idea of "young" souls has never made any sense to me. One of my friends believes that all of us are stars; in other words, ancient, shining and huge. We are currently incarnated in order to work through issues that are not accessible when we're in other forms. I kind of like that idea.

According to the cosmology of Reya, we are meant to work. On the spiritual side, we work through all kinds of issues in order to evolve. In some way, the work of the soul is a key component of The Big Plan, or it benefits God in some way. Part of how we do that is through the wheel of incarnation. My cosmology includes sets of lifetimes during which we focus on very specific issues and challenges. A "young" soul might be someone who has just entered a new set of lifetimes. Maybe. Who knows?

I've known my sister Hannah for frickin' ever. I "remember" the Ice Age, a set of hundreds or thousands of lifetimes that were pretty much identical: hunting, mating, walking, stars at night, short summers, long winters. I remember the smell of our clothes, fires at night, always being hungry, always feeling cold. My sister Hannah was mate, sibling, child, parent, cohort during all those lives. We trudged together through the Ice Age.

In another set of lifetimes, much more recent, I was a nun, monk or hermit. I lived those lives in the cloisters, among others living the same life. We prayed a lot, and broke the rules a lot. Interesting set of lives.

Just recently I was able to recover a set of very old lives in which I was a warrior - never a great warrior, should say. I was just a plain old foot soldier, not very skilled and never terribly brave.

I have a lot of memories of my past lives of service, the set of lifetimes I'm still engaged with. I've been a maid, cook, gardener, footman, and nurse so many times. Most of the nurse lifetimes revolved around caring for wounded soldiers. When I was in grade school (in this lifetime) I read a biography of a Belgian nurse in WWI who was executed for protecting injured prisoners of war. I read and re-read that book - I was such a morbid child. I believe I was relating to my job as a nurse during WWI, a terrible calling that involved watching young men die of infection, the flu, and from terrible injuries. That was not a pleasant life, nor was my life during the Civil War during which I did pretty much the same thing.

No wonder that when WWII rolled around, I rejected my calling to be a healer. I refused to be of any help to anyone. I must have been so demoralized, I couldn't help it, or at least, that's my excuse. I shut down as a healer, and I believe I died a fairly horrible death.

Reuniting with my soul purpose as a healer is something I didn't pick up on again in this lifetime until middle age, even though I always had the knack ever since I was a child. My mother told me that even as a toddler, I knew when she had a headache (for instance). I would come to her and place my hand on her forehead. Somehow I knew.

Eventually, this time around, I re-entered my soul's current purpose: to serve as healer. It's so much easier than in past lives because I have access to Reiki, I trained in therapeutic massage, and too I've been taught so many shamanic techniques with which to move energy. Also I am not treating wounded soldiers this time around. I work with all kinds of people who are dealing with a variety of issues. I don't have to sit there, waiting for young men to die, in this life. I'm so lucky!

I'm thinking about this today because I have, in the past few days, at last found a way to prepare for the trip to Krakow later this year. I've just now found my way into a method for retrieving the piece of my soul I left swirling in the Holocaust. It's going to be a big journey, but I have a strategy, I have a plan. You can't imagine how jazzed I am. Can you?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Space-Time is Everything

The idea of space and time as parts of the same continuum is not a revolutionary idea, it's not modern, which might be why it's not difficult for me to grasp. Do you struggle with it?

Here in the chateau, for instance, I do not have a lot of physical space, but because I live alone and don't work too much, I have plenty of time. Hence, my apartment feels very spacious.

I've worked extensively with (and written about) the geometry of time, spent many long hours cutting through the time-space of Washington DC, wondering, mapping (at least in my own mind) what it means to walk east while the sun heads towards the west, or, more interesting than that, contemplating the way in which traveling up into the mountains in spring actually takes me backwards in time, seasonally.

I wonder if the geometrically precise Masons who designed this city thought about these things. It's likely I'll never know for sure.

When I go to Poland later this year (I'm now saying "when" rather than "if") not only will I not be traveling all around Europe, I won't even be traveling all around Poland. I will fly into, and out of, Krakow. IF I take the 30 minute bus ride to Oswiecim, that journey will constitute the only moving around in space I will indulge in, because I will need spaciousness while I'm there, to sense the land/weather, connect with the vibration, do my shamanic thing. Time will be my spaciousness in Krakow.

Part of getting ready for the trip involves remembering that I don't have to get stuck in the Holocaust while I'm there. Krakow is a 1,000 year-old city. If I want to, I can travel back to medieval times when allegedly a dragon was slain and laid to rest beneath the castle. I will connect to Shiva's chakra stone and visit the salt mines. As well, I can return again and again to 2011. No doubt I'll also visit the era of the first half of the 20th century, but seen in the light of the vast history of that piece of land, the Holocaust was a moment. An important moment, but a moment.

One of the reasons I'm thinking about space-time this morning is because, although I had a lot to say yesterday, I realized that the Yizkor post needed spaciousness. It needed to rest here on the blog for awhile before being placed under the next post. That post needed space to breathe. It was nice to take a break from posting. And ... good to be back! Happy Sunday, y'all.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Sixty-six years ago yesterday, Soviet troops liberated 7,000 prisoners at Auschwitz. I can't imagine what it must have been like for those people - any of them - the prisoners or the soldiers. When I try to connect to the energy of that moment, I feel dizzy and have to go lie down for a minute. It surely must have been intense. I imagine a shattering of the energetic boundary around the camp, a slap upside the head for the liberating soldiers, an awakening from the nighmare for the prisoners. Whoa.

That was a whole lifetime ago, eight years before I was born, almost to the day. I'm beginning to understand, at a very deep level, that IF I decide to visit the camp during my time in Poland, the most important strategy to get me through the experience will be to remain in the present moment.

I got into trouble on the Civil War battlefields because I allowed myself to wander in time backwards to the battles themselves. It's kind of easy to do that because there are so many ghosts still fighting the battles over and over again. The re-enactors just make things worse, in my opinion.

In fact, during the time I was studying the Civil war, I became, in some way, stuck somewhere between 1860 and 1865. Whenever I was out and about, I identified locations based on what was happening then, not now. As I walked through Lincoln Park, or sat in the rotunda at the Capitol, I would think, "This was a hospital." (Both were.) It was an interesting experience, but not exactly healing in any way.

When we were little kids, my parents taught us about the Holocaust. They were still so traumatized by it that I believe they went too far, showing us the pictures and such. I can remember my mother saying, "Don't ever walk willingly into an oven!" That is such a weird thing to say, isn't it?

Maybe because of their (understandable) vociferousness, or due to my unfortunate past life experience in the Holocaust, or both, I've spent my whole life slightly afraid of being dragged off at any given moment, imprisoned, starved and killed. Seriously, it's always there, just under the surface. I know it's not rational, and yes I've worked on this issue in several different kinds of therapy. The fear lingers, even though it's not supposed to.

The black hole of World War II was so huge, I believe it captured some bit of my soul, sucked it down into the darkness where it remains to this day, swirling around and around. I want to retrieve my soul, bring it forward in time to 2011. I'm ready. So you see this is why I spend so much time thinking about the trip to Poland, why I'm working so hard to prepare for whatever it is I'll decide to do when I get there.

I know a lot of my journey will be focused on having fun: drinking vodka, listening to klezmer music, hanging out in the medieval square in the center of Krakow with my friend. Maybe I'll go to Oswiecim, maybe not. I don't think there's any way I can understand what I'll want/need to do until my feet are on the ground in Poland. I'll let the land guide me, and the weather, you know.

Without slipping backwards in time, this morning I am remembering those who died at Auschwitz, with respect and love, remembering those who somehow survived, with awe. Remembering the guys who had to go in there and help the survivors out. Holy cow.

Holocaust Remembrance Day was yesterday, so I'm a little late. Oh well. Happy Friday y'all. Carpe diem! Shalom.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Cone

I love snow so much, but I must admit that last night's thundersnow, while beautiful and extremely dramatic, did not deliver the kind of snow I romanticize about. It's not light or fluffy, or slightly damp - containing just enough moisture to make snow sculpture a pleasure. No. This snow is a slushy, icy, heavy, yucky snow that snapped off tree branches, brought down power lines, and snarled traffic far more than some other kind of snow.

Counting my blessings: I don't own a car and I don't have to drive anywhere today. I live in a neighborhood with underground power lines, so I never lost power (400,000 + are without power this morning). Knowing that the snow was coming, I got to the supermarket on Tuesday, so I'm well stocked with whatever I might need (not that we're snowed in here on Capitol Hill, but still, it's nice not to have to run errands).

Yesterday afternoon I baked a nice little fruit-topped cake. Should anyone drop by for a cup of coffee, I'll be able to also provide them with a slice of cake. Yep, all is well at the chateau in the wake of the thundersnow, and I am grateful!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wintry Mix

I suppose I could write a post about the State of the Union address. I think I won't, though.

Also I could write about Oswiecim, the Polish word for what the Germans called Auschwitz. I'm adopting the Polish version, because WWII is over. The holocaust is over. I could write this morning about my reasons for even considering a visit to the camp while I'm in Poland. (It isn't to immerse myself in the suffering and misery of all the people who died there, but to GET OUT of that energy. I feel like some part of my soul has been swirling inside the holocaust all my life. I would like to retrieve that part of my soul, let go, move on.)

There's a lot more to say about that. But ... the topic is still simmering in the back of my mind/heart, not quite yet speech-ripe.

Instead, I'll post Five Do's and Five Don'ts for Good Health, according to the cosmology of Reya - because a couple of people have asked me to. Why not?

First a serious disclaimer: I believe good health is mostly about luck and genetics. You can contribute to ill health, or increase your chances for being healthy, but the truth is that there are folks out there who are healthy as a horse even though they do everything you aren't supposed to, and others suffering from ailments even though they do everything "right." Good health is basically a mystery. It's so unfair.


1. Get enough sleep. Just do it. Seriously.

2. Take it down a notch. No matter how you live, my guess is that you're trying to do too much. You don't have to force yourself to become laid back - god forbid! Being laid back is something we on the northern end of the eastern seaboard really can't comprehend. No matter what it is you think you MUST accomplish, just take it down ONE NOTCH.

3. Take care of your teeth. You wouldn't believe how many diseases are linked to bad teeth and bad gums.

4. Move around. You don't have to go to the gym or raise your heart rate to a certain level, just don't sit around on the couch all day. We were built for movement.

5. Spend time outside every day, yes, even if it's "too cold" or "too hot" or whatever. Connect with the sky, weather, landscape. Every day!


1. Don't worry about your weight. It is currently popular to blame all ills on weight, smoking and global warming. My guess is that the world is far more complicated than that. There are plenty of people who weigh "too much" who are perfectly healthy.

2. That said, don't eat fast food. That stuff is toxic. I like Michael Pollan's rules for eating. Keep it simple, eat actual food. The more it's processed, the worse it is for you. Even frozen vegan veggie burgers are, to my mind, just as gross as fast food. They aren't real, they have no vibration. How can they possibly be nourishing?

2. Don't believe there is any tried and true path to good health, you know, if ONLY you'll drink pomegranate juice, or follow so-and-so's seven steps to great health in seven weeks, or whatever. It's a lovely dream that there's The One True Way to Good Health, but it is a dream.

3. Avoid pundits. In fact, avoid TV. Listen to music instead, or watch movies. Skip "the news." Read a book, or The New Yorker. Or blogs (but skip the political blogs).

4. Don't take things personally or literally. Learn what you can from your experiences, then let go and move on. (Thanks to Rob Breszny for this one.)

5. Stop focusing so much on how your life SHOULD be or COULD be, or how you hoped it WOULD be. Count your blessings.


Of course I could go on and on, but I'll stop now! Have a good Wednesday, y'all. Shalom.

I thought I was taking a pic of this guy on the Metro train. How funny that it was also a self-portrait. Looks like I am haunting him. Fortunately for him, he was so absorbed in reading and listening to music, he didn't even notice.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Cool-spooky shadow cast at night by the streetlights in Lincoln Park.

One of my great teachers in San Francisco told me that poetry, at this time of year, "cracks the ice in the heart of the earth," which apparently is necessary in order to remind her that though it's not yet spring, maybe she could begin to kick the machinery of spring into gear. He said that second part a lot more eloquently than I have here.

With that in mind, I proclaim the following: February will be Poetry Month at the chateau. I will ask dinner guests to bring a poem with them; after we eat, we can sit in the living room by the "fire" (three pillar candles) and read some poems aloud to each other.

It's kind of exciting to need poetry in DC. Our winters are so gentle compared with the harsh season in the midwest, also north of the Mason-Dixon line. Though somewhat warmer and much dryer than elsewhere, in DC we have had a Real Winter so far. Hence: poetry month at the chateau.

To kick off poetry month, (I know it isn't yet February, but I'm jazzed) here's one of my very favorite ice poems. I know it's rather dark, but I like it. Actually - I think it's funny.

Stay warm, y'all! Shalom.


They say the ice will hold
so there I go,
forced to believe them by my act of trusting people,
stepping out on it,

and naturally it gaps open
and I, forced to carry on coolly
by my act of being imperturbable,
slide erectly into the water wearing my captain's helmet,
waving to the shore with a sad smile,
"Goodbye my darlings, goodbye dear one,"
as the ice meets again over my head with a click.

--Edward Field

Monday, January 24, 2011

Maybe not

Little by little is something my friend Manuel says often. He is a very determined person who can pretty much accomplish anything he wants simply because he never gives up. I am so in awe of his ability to stay focused, keep his eye on the prize. Wow.

Me? I'm a quitter. OK, maybe I'm being too harsh. Let me say it more compassionately - when I see that something isn't working, my tendency is to cease and desist rather than continuing to bang my head against whatever it is keeping me from achieving my goal. Some things are not meant to be, right? Well??

Sometimes this approach really works. I know people (not Manuel) who have invested years and years of energy into jobs, relationships, situations that never went anywhere. Sometimes you really DO need to know when to fold 'em. When energy is stuck, in many cases, my tendency is to break up that stuckness.

I'm thinking about this today because I have been balking at the idea of watching the rest of the BBC series on Auschwitz. I watched two episodes which I found fascinating. Here on the blog I wrote that learning more about its history "only made me want to throw up once or twice." A couple of days after posting that statement, I was stricken by the stomach flu during which I wanted to do nothing but throw up for two days. The timing of these things feels significant to me, and, too, the body never lies. Did the mere act of touching the energy of Auschwitz make me literally ill? Clearly there was something traumatic about it.

In fact I'm balking at the idea of going to Poland. I'm afraid of how powerful that journey might be, that it might reduce me to jello. I'm experiencing some serious doubts.

I sent out a prayer this morning, a petition for some guidance around this. What came to mind immediately was the voice of Manuel, saying, "Little by little." I think that means I don't have to launch back into the BBC history of Auschwitz right away, yes? What do you think?

Bloody hell, even the preparation for this trip is SO strenuous. If I go, IF, may it be worth all this struggling, please! May it be so.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I don't know about you but I love my habits. I cherish my habits because they make me feel safe in some way that is probably instinctual. First my morning shower, then meditation, for instance.

One problem with my love of habits is that at some point, they become rules, i.e. first my morning shower, then meditation, not meditation, then shower. A habit that evolves into a rule can become canon law, never ever to be broken. These "laws" enter into the grid of my values at which point they becomes absolutely invisible to my conscious mind. I become judgmental about The Law, i.e. I can't believe there are people who meditate first, then shower. What is up with that??

You know I am oversimplifying, right? But you get the idea.

Because I am a rather die-hard Aquarian, I sometimes become rebellious. I want to bust out of the jail of my own making, break my laws, oh yeah I WILL meditate first! I'll show 'em. Them. Who is them but my own jail-creating mind, eh?

I'm thinking about this today because on Studio 360 yesterday a bunch of 20-30 somethings were talking about Jack Kerouac's book "On the Road." The young women were actually appalled that anyone would take the book seriously.

These folks, so smart and clever on Studio 360, they just don't get it, that at that time, it was Against the Rules to drive around and sleep with as many women as possible. It was too early in the evolution of the revolutions that changed our society for a woman to write such a book. It was the launch of the Beats, a primordial volley that helped launch the cultural movements that were about to punch through the old paradigm.

Now I guess any loser can do drugs, drive around, and sleep with women. Jack (and so many others) broke the old habits in order to make that possible.

Some days it's so funny to be middle aged, to stand at the hinge between what was and what is coming. Jack K. was before my time (slightly), and these lovely young people are way ahead of me. I just kept laughing as I listened. It was really funny.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I'm back in the saddle, as it were, heading off for a short day of work, very much looking forward to focusing on other people as opposed to my personal list of symptoms and complaints. Oh yeah. It occurred to me yesterday that the final phase of any illness is boredom, which is what finally got me off my ass and out the door for a quick walk, in spite of the bitter cold made worse by my ill-tempered brother, the wind.

The walk was worth it, though, just for the sight of the pink/purple angel wing clouds floating above the sunset. Wow.

A flu like the one I battled this week takes awhile to recover from. I'm still feeling fragile, but experience has taught me that there's a point at which it's best to get back to the rhythms of life, even if I'm not quite yet up to snuff. That point follows directly on the heels of boredom.

I'm outta here. Shabbat Shalom, y'all.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Clean Slate

There is no detox program quite as effective as the flu, and, after the holiday season (during which I ate everything, drank everything), it was high time for a cleanse. I stopped eating cookies and breads as of New Year's but hadn't really gotten around to foregoing rich foods and too much wine until the beat down from Herr Virus on Wednesday. So in that way I guess I could be grateful, if I were a generous person, that is.

Once upon a time I used to fast one day a month, usually at the dark moon. Fasting is actually a great thing, unless you take it too far, something many Americans routinely do because we're just so extreme. Fasting for a day or two or three? That's great. Gives the digestive system a rest, re-sets the appetite, clears the mind and heart. Those mega fasts of seven to ten days are terribly hard on the heart, liver and kidneys, though people like them because after a few days without food, we humans get so high, so stoned - seriously. And, as I said, because we are Americans we like super-sized everything, even super-sized fasts. It's embarrassing to be an American sometimes.

I'm against the big macho fasts, but a short break from everything but juice and water every now and then? Yes.

I'm thinking a better time, for me at least, would be the day of the full moon. That ole Devil Moon, as Tess of the blog Willow Manor would say, frequently trips me up. To dance in shamanic alignment with the energy, by fasting - just for one day, might improve my relationship with Sister Luna, ya think?

At the very least it would provide me with the clarity I have today in the wake of a couple of days of drastically reduced intake.

I am so lucky to be able to make choices like this: when to eat, what to eat - or not eat. This choice is a luxury that most of humankind, throughout history, everywhere on the planet, has not had. I'm going to try to remember this as I move slowly back into the world of food and drink. Going to try to keep it simple. I really am.

Happy Friday. Shalom.

Can you tell this is a teapot? Kind of hard to read the pic. It's on the sign at Sidamo Coffee and Tea at 4th and H Streets NE. Great place.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Full Viral Moon

All hail the viral overlords for they shall inherit the earth!

Aw hell, what am I saying? Planet earth has always belonged to the viruses, as it will again once the larger lifeforms depart once and for all. You know those charts with all the families of living beings that usually feature the forms we're best acquainted with? On an accurate family tree, anything larger than a bacterium would occupy only a tiny corner.

I'm thinking about this today because an invading virus got the best of me yesterday. It was one of those intense, sudden-onset ailments. I got up, felt a little tired but that's not unusual. Took my shower, meditated, wrote the blog. And then. Then, I felt it bite down hard waaaay deep inside my belly.

Needless to say, the rest of yesterday was a total wash. I know there are ways to mask the symptoms of the flu, but I don't believe in them. My great San Francisco doctor wisely said, "Let the symptoms express themselves for three days. If, after that time, you're still sick, call me." Let the symptoms express themselves. I like that idea, that in some way, fighting off the ailment is my body expressing itself; it makes sense, at least to me. I also know that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger - I like to give my immune system a chance to triumph, though yesterday what I felt like was some poor idiot, flat on my back, but still waving my fists around. Ha! That virus kicked my ass.

You know all the flopping around, fever, aches, moaning, barfing, etc. is not the work of the virus, did you know? That's your immune system fighting the virus. Healing is a very dynamic experience. Also kind of trippy. For awhile yesterday I felt like a Borg cube. I have no idea what I mean when I say that, but I did. My spirit guides wanted me to clear my head and visualize blue. Blue sky, vast blue sky. It really helped, though again I can't say how or why.

Today I did a lot of sleeping, drinking weak tea. I had some yogurt with bananas, watched NCIS DVD's. I'm on the mend, but ... whoa.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Temporary Dip into Fiction

As a part of my regular, normal, non-mystical day yesterday, I streamed a couple of episodes of Downton Abbey from the PBS website. Masterpiece Theater really is always so good, though I rarely watch it. I don't usually need fiction since my 'real' life is rather overfull of drama at all times.

Downton Abbey is a variation of the Upstairs/Downstairs model in which every member of the household plays a role, something that makes more sense to me since I've been a servant in so many past lifetimes. Watching Jane Austin mini-series is always a little tedious, since the servants say almost nothing. They're kind of invisible, two-dimensional. Only the upper class people have personalities. In Downton Abbey they are all of them a bunch of characters, including the servants.

I'll admit that my favorite characters in the series are the ill tempered, self-centered maid and her buddy, the ambitious, self-serving footman. They sit around smoking cigarettes all the time, gossiping and planning how to advance themselves within the hierarchy of service. If they meditated every day, if they were kind and mindful, well, the unfolding drama would not be very compelling, at least to me. In fiction, at least, I prefer those with minor character flaws to long suffering, really good characters who I find, almost always - in fiction - to be boring. Am I revealing something about myself I shouldn't? Hope not!

Today is clear and calm. The promise of spring is in the air, though spring is a ways off still. I even heard birds singing this morning (first time in awhile). I'm going to get out for a nice walk, maybe open my third eye again to the unseen, thereby once again engaging in my personal drama. It was a nice break yesterday, though. I see why so many people enjoy fiction. It's like a mini-vacation from the sturm und drang of 'real' life. Very cool.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


We mystics love ecstatic connection with the mysteries. In fact, it's possible to get so caught up in messages from divine voices, receiving revelations and talking to bell-voiced angels that we can get really crazy. I guess that's why we have a bad rep.

We have to be so careful not to get carried away. As a cautionary tale, I like to think about Mirabai, ripping off her clothes and running through the streets naked as a result of her great devotional love for Krisna. Yeah, she did write beautiful poetry, but c'mon. I do NOT want to run through the streets naked. That would not be pretty.

For me, living the shamanic lifestyle means I must keep at least one foot in the "real" world at all times. Chop wood, carry water - or - in more modern terms, do the laundry, pay the bills. I'm sure it's blissful to run through the streets naked, well, maybe. Actually, that's hard to imagine. But nevertheless, I'd rather cook something nice for dinner, vacuum the living room carpet. As long as my soul lives inside this human body, I want to be fully human.

The weather always explains everything. The message this morning is crystal clear: Chill out, Reya. An icy rain fell through most of the night, coating everything in beautiful, treacherous ice. Dancing in shamanic alignment with the ice, I will spend today involved with mundane activities. I will put aside, for the time being, all thoughts about Auschwitz, voices, revelations and burly angels. I'll do laundry, change the sheets on my bed. Later when the ice turns to rain, I'll go for a walk, buy some groceries, drink tea, watch a silly movie.

Some days I don't have to pretend to be normal, Some days, I am normal. Happy Tuesday! Shalom.

Monday, January 17, 2011

All Along the Watchtowers

Being a mystic is such a weird lifestyle, especially right now in history, right here in Washington DC. Yesterday, for instance, I heard a voice, encountered a huge, super bright angel, and received several very helpful revelations. You would never have known all this was happening if you'd been watching me on a Reya-cam. I heard the voice while walking to work, received the revelations mostly between clients, encountered the angel in the middle of a session. The tears that welled up during the angelic encounter could have been interpreted as a moment of empathy for my client, maybe, or a brief allergic reaction to something. I am so good at pretending I'm normal. It has taken years of practice, though.

It was the day of my first initiation as priestess that I began hearing voices, after an amazing dream of removing layer after layer of earplugs I didn't know I was wearing (in the dream). For almost a year after that, when I heard the voice, I would ask others around me, "Did you hear that?" All you really have to do is see the looks on people's faces in response to a question like that in order to shut the hell up, fast.

I sought the advice of a psychotherapist to make sure I wasn't totally off the deep end. She asked such great questions, such as, "Does the voice command you?" Nope. "Does the voice suggest that you act destructively towards yourself or others?" Never. Just the opposite, in fact. "Can you distinguish the difference between the mystical voice and the voices of humans?" Uh - yeah! Of course. The therapist pronounced me a modern-day mystic, perhaps a few chips short of a fish dinner, but harmless. Whew.

What the voice said yesterday was, Auschwitz will heal you. Wow. I've been watching a seven part BBC series on the history of Auschwitz, part of my preparation for the trip to Krakow, Poland later this year. It's actually very interesting and has only made me want to throw up once or twice. Auschwitz will heal you. That was all I heard, but it made me think about my work with the American Civil War battlefields, how I went to those disturbed places thinking I needed to bring healing there. It was a big mistake, believe me. Reya vs. Gettysburg, for instance, or Manassas or Frederickburg? Ummm ... total disasters. What if I had approached the battlefields simply and humbly, as a person wanting to understand and thereby be healed instead of thinking of myself as The Great and Mighty Healer? Hmm.

One of yesterday's clients is Ukrainian. She was at Auschwitz a couple of years ago. She told me a lot of the buildings have been removed, that it's more like a memorial within a marshy field of open land, that the energy is dissipating. She said the Holocaust Museum here in DC is much creepier.

It was after she left and the next client was on the table that the angel appeared in the corner of the treatment room. He pronounced loudly, in a voice that sounded like a bell, that I would be well protected if I decide to visit Auschwitz. This dude was big and mighty, almost burly, if indeed angels can be burly. I have no reason to doubt his promise.

Ah the lifestyle of modern-day mysticism. Weird? Yes, definitely - but at least it's not boring.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

People are strange

We are a very curious species - we are indeed. We want to know ourselves, to understand our place in the world, where do we fit? We ask ourselves so many questions about our essential natures, we develop overarching theories and create personal stories of identity. Most of us, in some way or another, find ways to pidgeon-hole ourselves.

Ah but that pidgeon-hole (whatever one you choose) just keeps shifting and changing. Maybe that's why we are endlessly asking ourselves, "Who am I?"

Some things stay the same, I guess. "I have big feet," for instance, or "I'm an Aquarius." The deeper truths, the ones that shape-shift, are far more intriguing (at least to me), such as "I was young, but I'm not anymore. What does that mean?" Or "I'm a Capricorn currently experiencing a Pluto transit." Yeah.

Obviously, I'm still thinking about the big astrology flap based on Parke Kunte's ignorance. For those of us who study astrology, it was simply annoying, but for many who know nothing about the goings-on inside the ecliptic, it was worth considering - I think because it challenged people's ideas about who they are, even for those who don't "believe" in astrology.

The take home message is clear: just because someone releases a statement about something doesn't make it true. But how cool that some of us took the time to think about what it might mean to identify ourselves differently. You see? This is the very reason I so adore our species. We are full of questions, always. Sweet.

These daffodils are not blooming outdoors - this is in front of the fountain at the National Gallery of Art. Harbingers of a season to come.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Temet nosce

A big mainstream news story this week revolves around the "discovery" of the sidereal zodiac, something that people who know nothing about astrology, but who are nevertheless interested in discounting it, can't stop writing about.

It's so weird.

None of us who studies astrology is alarmed or surprised. This short essay explains the difference in the two zodiacs very clearly and concisely. The sidereal zodiac is not new to us, but for those who know zip about the art/science of astrology, it is somehow a Big Story. Why now?

One reaction to this "news" is really interesting. Some folks I know have been aghast at the idea that they might have to identify with the sign that precedes the sign they have always identified with. Funny, eh? We are who we are, after all, completely complicated no matter whether we think of ourselves as a Capricorn or an Aquarius, yes? I say yes.

The timing of this "news" is far more interesting than the fact that those who know nothing about astrology are writing about astrology (because they have nothing better to write about?) and subsequently making asses of themselves, though I'll admit I find that part of it kind of hilarious.

I've been meditating on this all morning, wondering. I think the ancestors are whispering to us this week, asking us to revisit what we think we know about ourselves. Are we really who we think we are?

There's more to say about this, but I'm off to work. Any theories about why this is "big news" this week? Why did it go viral? Why now? I'm intrigued.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Turn, turn, turn

These late afternoon clouds over Eastern Market look like whipped cream, don't they?

The last half of January on the American midatlantic east coast, though gloomy and cold, is a time of gentle quickening. For those who pay attention, it is barely possible to tell that the light is returning. For instance, yesterday at 5:30 p.m. it wasn't quite dark. And though Brother Wind continues to blow sharp and metallic (as he has all winter), somehow he doesn't seem as angry as before solstice. Maybe even the wind has been trying to help me remember to breathe, who knows?

The few precious minutes of extra light, as well as the monumental gift of breath, (oh yeah!) has shifted everything, both physically and emotionally. I had a busy night of dreaming, but the dreams were very productive: shabby buildings were in the process of renovation, happy weddings were taking place, I was surrounded by loving friends from every era of my life. For the time being, the nightmares have vamoosed.

I must remember to be more cautious with dragons. They are wild, after all, and unimaginably powerful. Standing outside on a cold winter night, gazing at an eclipsed moon, being pierced through by a dragon-arrow? What was I thinking? Sometimes the shamanic lifestyle is way too crazy. Oh well, it's all over now. Onwards to the last half of January, and beyond. Shalom.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Smile, breathe and go slowly. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

A bunch of neighbors and I were out last night during the brief, beautiful snowstorm.

Do you breathe? I mean, really breathe? I try to remember how much it helps everything, no matter the situation, to take two or three deep breaths. Mindful breathing is the foundation for so many helpful practices, from yoga to prayer to meditation, also every kind of athletic endeavor, not to mention the making of music. Even whistling depends on breath. A sigh, a whisper, the sensation of someone blowing gently into the ear - all of these depend on breath.

If you stop breathing, you will be dead in a matter of minutes. Breathing is the most crucial living act.

Did you know that when you breathe, your ribcage expands, each rib tilts outwards and lifts? Your trunk elongates and the curves in your spine straighten slightly. Inhalation means that your big ole tough diaphram has dropped, creating a vacuum so air rushes into your lungs. Exhaling, though it feels easier (at least to me), is a forceful act: the diaphram lifts, pushing air out.

Ah sweet breath. I'm thinking about it today because yesterday the osteopath, who worked hard on me for a long time, explained that my shoulder girdle and ribs were so screwed up, I haven't really been capable of a true, deep breath for awhile now. He even asked if I'd been punched in the chest recently. Hmmm ... in a manner of speaking, yes. That dragon-arrow of the eclipse literally passed straight through my heart, apparently, wreaking havoc as well as inspiring awe. Wow. Such is the way of dragons.

Not being able to breathe accounts for my creeped out moods of late, for the nightmares and such. I am so grateful for my marvelous health care practitioners. Bowing low in thanks for the art/science of osteopathy, breathing deeply - and easily - this morning. Everything seems better. It's incredible how much can change simply by addressing physiology. Thank God!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Back to Basics

That line in the sky? It is not a product of photoshop. It was really there yesterday afternoon. Crazy!

A client who assesses learning disabilities in children says that my tendency towards being overwhelmed and exhausted is called "Information Processing Disorder." Nice to have a diagnosis! As a kid I was called "too sensitive" or was considered cowardly, shy, or weak. As an adult I decided I was a total introvert, always scoring nearly 100% on the Meyers-Briggs personality type tests.

What the Sufi acupuncturist says is that my nature is "welcoming" - sometimes way too much. I have a curious nature so my initial tendency is bite off more than I can chew. A "welcoming" nature coupled with the fact that I don't have plentiful kidney jing, a.k.a. life force, means I often find myself in a position in which I throw my hand across my forehead and take to my living room sofa, blown away it all.

Whatever it is, the one thing I have learned over time is that sometimes I need to stop - just STOP - cease and desist with the taking in of information and with my persistent attempts to understand the world.

Today and tomorrow I am officially on retreat from the world at large. I'm not going to read anything further about what happened in Tucson, or listen to the new members of the House of Representatives talk about, for instance, how awful the United Nations is. What is THAT about?? Betty Louise, the houseghost, is on her own for a few days. I won't be working so I don't need to extend any healing to anyone except myself.

A trip to the osteopath for some back-to-basics restructuring of my skeleton (which involves a long, boring subway ride), reading blogs, a simple, nourishing, non-provocative homecooked dinner, and a stupid movie is my plan for today.

I am fascinated by all the crazy complexities of life in this form, even the terrible complexities here in the U.S. since the eclipse cycle began a few weeks ago. I'm toast in the wake of it all. Fall down once, get up twice. But maybe take a nap before getting up the second time, yes? I say yes. Sheesh.

Monday, January 10, 2011

If life were a dream ...

I have what the Sufi acupuncturist refers to as a "symbolist mind." I connect dots, look for patterns. I see everything as possibly meaningful. The world is an on-going, 24/7 divination, chock full of all the guidance and information we could possibly ever need - if only we take the time to notice. Should say, not only do we have to notice, but we have to be discerning; it is up to us to determine what merits our attention and which things we can ignore. Those who try to take in and understand everything that takes place can not function. Equally non-functional are those who adopt sound-bites from the talking heads on TV rather than trying - at least TRYING - to think things through.

If life were a dream, what would current events symbolize? What can we learn by thinking about "real" life as a metaphor?

Life as a dream in the U.S. right now is not good. First, thousands of dead birds fell out of the sky on new year's eve, thousands of dead fish washed up from the Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere. These events are worthy of attention, also totally creepy!

Before I had a chance to pray about what the die-offs meant, I began hearing the most half-assed explanations. We Americans are very susceptible to propaganda of all kinds. I've read here and there that what happened to the birds and fish is "normal." In none of these articles are the experts able to explain why this happened, just that it's "normal." We're supposed to just say, "OK," and move on. On the other end of the spectrum I've heard/read all manner of conspiracy theories to explain this event. THEY are out to get us, but THEY got the birds and fishes first.

For heaven's sake.

For me, the timing of this terribly sad event is more significant than the reasons why. New Year's Eve - the brink of the new secular year. As an auger, please understand this is Not Good, even if it's "normal."

And now poor Mrs. Giffords. If this were a dream, what would it mean? I am so sad for the families of the six who were killed, including a little girl who was born on September 11, 2001. How weird is that? What are the chances? As a second big event in the U.S. since New Year's, I'm tellin' ya: Not. Good. As a shaman, that wave of terrible nightmares I had now makes sense in terms of dancing in alignment with the prevailing energy.

Maybe this wave of creepy events is an anomaly that will pass, maybe it is a "real" life nightmare, maybe things will calm down now. I hope so. I pray for clarity, thoughtfulness, compassion and peace. Shalom.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Homage to Elizabeth

of the great blog World Examining Works..... though I am not as stylish or ironic, nor do I live in Chelsea or ever have a view of the Empire State Building ........ dang, man. But ... here goes:

Saturday morning a quick snow storm transformed Capitol Hill into a frosted landscape.

It was a perfect storm, just enough snow to be magical and beautiful.

By noon the sun came out. The snow promptly melted, then the temperature dropped.

After work I went to the Matchbox bar for lunch, then hurried home.

Once inside the chateau, I cranked up the heat, lit some candles, poured a glass of red wine, and watched "Three Days of the Condor." Excellent film for a freezing January evening.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Enough is enough

Sincere regret (at least according to my cosmology) leads to insights of the perhaps not so comfortable but oh-so-valuable type. After that, regret brings the ability to make amends, ask for (or bestow) forgiveness, and then? Move on.

So how does a person know when to stop exploring? When does the healing act of walking through regret become unproductive? As my friend Jo of the blog Smiling Heart would say, it's tricky. I know people who walk around all day like hung dogs, feeling bad about everything, others (including myself) who can at times get so caught up in exploration that we forget life is passing by.

This is going to sound like a non-sequitar, but it isn't - at least for me. I just looked out the window. It has started to snow, just now I think. Big, fluffy, beautiful white flakes of snow are falling on Washington DC. Snow is cleansing, snow is beautiful. Snow (this snow, I mean) is so graceful and fluffy. Today's snow says chill out, smile, relax. The snow is my clue that I've spent sufficient time with this specific set of regrets, and that I can now let go, move on. Ahhhh.

This is one of the reasons I love living in a city in which there are four seasons - the weather here explains everything. I talk to the world of seasons and weather, to the green world and the dead, my ancestors and guides. Not surprisingly, they all talk back. What I'm trying to say is that there is so much wisdom and guidance available for those of us willing to partake.

I love getting inside my heart and mind, poking around, searching for understanding - even in the less than comfortable places. When it's time to move on, something outside of myself will always remind me - a gust of wind, the sun coming out from behind a cloud, or a beautiful sunset.

A beautiful clean white snow shower in Washington DC is saying to me, Doucement. It's saying, Stop now, Reya. Enough.

OK. Onwards & upwards. Shalom.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Power of Regret

The accidents of our lives bruise us into dirty individuality. —Gregory McGuire*

I don't believe in original sin. According to my cosmology, humans are complicated individuals who come into being with a lot of karma, "good," "bad," and everything inbetween. Hence I don't get the idea of taking on shame just because we are who we are. I also don't get the Jewish slant on the same idea, that we should in some way or another always feel guilty about mistakes made or plans that never worked out, or about our moments of greed, failure, ambition, bitterness and thoughtlessness.

Some of us fare better than others over the courses of our lives, but what that means is beyond me. It seems that everything we experience is a part of working through our very complicated karma. Sometimes that process includes some suffering. Don't ask me why - the reasons for human suffering are incomprehensible. The God I worship can wrap his/her "arms" around the why of suffering. It's too big for me.

Both shame and guilt are too punitive to be of any help in moving forward. Both states of being are energetically sticky, like greasy velcro. When I feel guilty I become a magnet for every negative idea and situation. It's like a black hole that sucks me ever deeper into it without presenting any opportunity for healing.

Regret is a different story, at least for me. Maybe this is simply a matter of semantics, but when I feel regret, I am able to work with the matter at hand. Regret does not feel oily or sticky to me. It's not a comfortable place, but it provides the emotional space I need to learn. When I experience regret, if I work with it, I am able to find healing and wisdom, whereas when I feel shame or guilt, I am lost, emotionally.

I'm still in the process of reviewing everything that went down in 2010. It was such a great year for me in so many ways. Still, I have a couple of serious regrets about the way a particular situation unfolded. I'm sitting with that feeling this morning, trying to make space around it, listening, hoping to learn and move on. It's high time to put 2010 to bed; my prayers this morning included a petition to move fully in 2011, pronto. I think I'm almost there. May it be so.

Happy Friday to all. Shalom.

*Thanks to Tess of the great blog Willow Manor, for posting this quote on facebook.