Monday, October 31, 2011

Go to the light.

Maybe it's because I have an ongoing relationship with the beneficient ancestors, or perhaps I'm just prematurely curmudgeonly (is that a word?) or it might be that my dislike of Halloween is due to experiences I had as a bartender. (Besides St. Patrick's Day and New Year's Eve, Halloween is the worst night of the year to bartend. People get ugly in so many ways.)

On Halloween, when the veil is thin, instead of making contact with the wise ancestors, we purposely make room in many ways for the less wonderful members of the community of the dead. I find this practice very odd. Blood, guts, zombies, vampires - oh man, disturbed spirits really love it when they see us dressed up like that. They love the evils of a hard-core sugar high, followed by a serious blood sugar crash. They love scaring small children, also love all acts of a destructive nature whether large or small. All kinds of vandalism feed these spirits. They are not very nice.

According to my cosmology, the dead are not that different from the living. There are great, wonderful, loving ancestors who stand by at this time of year to offer guidance to those who seek it, and then there are the greasy, unevolved, creepy dead. We play with these not very nice spirits on Halloween. People say it's fun. Really? I don't get it.

Following is a very loving, compassionate ritual to help ghosts cross over to a place where they might find healing and renewal. It is the work of Pomegranate Doyle, a great teacher and former colleague of mine. I've used it many times. It always works. Afterwards, the space that has been cleared feels lovely, calm and welcoming. I published this rite a few years ago for Tess of the blog Willow Manor. Here it is again

Tomorrow Halloween will be done, then it's on to the holiday season. Onwards & upwards, oh yeah.


What you'll need:
Someone to work with (you need two people for this ritual)
Black or white candle
Two face-sized hand mirrors. They do not have to be fancy - drugstore mirrors work just fine.
A black cloth big enough to wrap around the mirrors
Smudge stick or a dried sprig of rosemary, or bells, singing bowls, or salt water (to cleanse the space afterwards)
A sense of humor
The ability to behave as if you know what you're doing

Choose a place in the house where you feel comfortable. You could go to the most haunted space, but if it creeps you out to work there, the ritual won't work as well. Let your intuition guide you.

Light the candle. If you feel the presence of the ghosts, proceed with the order of the ritual. If you don't feel them you might have to "wake them up." That involves going to the haunted spaces and clapping your hands, snapping your fingers, knocking on the walls, saying things like "Hey! WAKE UP!" Again, let your intuition guide you.

Order of ritual:
Place the hand mirrors back to back so that the mirror surfaces are facing outwards. Hold the mirrors tightly together between the two of you, at the level of your faces.

One of you will be working with the ghost(s) themselves, the other person will be calling in loving ancestors of the ghosts who will guide the lost spirits to wherever it is they go after death.

The person who works with the ancestors simply needs to be sincere in calling them to come to "the gate" (the mirrors form a portal through which the dead can pass on). Appeal to them in terms of how they once loved the ghosts, let them know the ghosts are stuck and how much they need the help of loving ancestors. Be firm, yet respectful. The ancestors will come, I promise.

The person who works with the ghosts needs to be more "in your face." What I do is look into the mirror and speak plainly and loudly. The point is to make the ghosts understand they are DEAD and it's time to move on. Ghosts are no smarter than you or I, and they're just as deluded. I loved the movie The Sixth Sense because Bruce Willis is so perfect as a ghost clueless about what has happened to him.

I used to hold the newspaper up to the mirror and point out the date. I always say, "Look at how I'm dressed!" The last time I did this I held my ipod up to the mirror and said, "Do you know what this is? OF COURSE NOT, because it's 2011!!" When I feel the ghost finally understands he/she IS dead, I tell them their ancestors are present and ready to guide them to a place of healing and renewal. I tell them it's time to go as if there is no other choice. The more conviction you can muster, the better.

When you feel the presence of the ancestors (feels very calm, wise and angelic) and when the ghosts seem to be aware of what's happening, both of the living people should begin to blow into the mirrors, each from his/her respective side of the gate. Often one person will feel warm while the other feels cold, though that doesn't always happen. You don't have to blow as hard as you can, but consistently. It might take two minutes or it might take ten minutes. You don't have to blow for an hour though - ten minutes is the absolute maximum amount of time I've ever had to blow, and that was for a LOT of ghosts.

At some point it will feel like Something Has Happened. Both people doing the ritual will know when the ghosts have crossed. Something in the room changes. Check in with each other.

Trust your intuition!

After Something Has Happened, immediately turn the mirrors to face each other and hold them together tightly. Blow out the candle. Both of the living say out loud "THE GATE IS CLOSED." Mean it when you say it. Wrap the mirrors in the black cloth and tie them securely together with string.

Some people bury the mirrors or throw them in the river. I like to get them outside of the house but I'll admit I've never buried them. After awhile the energy fades and they're just mirrors again. At that point I use them to apply mascara or whatever.

After the gate is closed and secured, cleanse the house by lighting a smudge stick and waving it around the whole house, or ringing bells or sprinkling salt water in the corners. Open the windows and let the wind blow through the house, unless it's too cold. Imagine that all the energy that doesn't belong in the house has dispersed.

Then imagine a secure boundary about the outside of the house. Sometimes it "looks" like a soap bubble, nice and shiny, encircling the space. Turn on all the lights in the house, play music or sing, laugh, dance around like an idiot. When the house feels full of living energy, you can turn off the electronics.

Eat something and have something non-alcoholic to drink.

That's it ... good luck!


Sunday, October 30, 2011


As a young person, I loved reading novels. Growing up it was Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and classics like Little Women, of course. I read Ivanhoe because there was a character named Rebecca in it, but I don't remember a thing about it. I think I read it to please my father.

As a young adult I found authors I loved so much I read every one of their books, such as Walker Percy, Gunter Grasse, Don DeLillo and Margaret Atwood, for instance. Later I got hooked on the central and south American magical realists, like Julio Cortezar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the great Isabele Allende.

Right around age thirty, my interest in novels evaporated. I started reading non-fiction then; I've never looked back. People lend me novels all the time, saying, "I know you don't read fiction, but THIS book ..." I open these books but try as I might, can not get myself interested in the characters or plots. After a few pages, I sigh and shake my head sadly, put down the fiction, pick up my history, biography or science books, with which I am fascinated, spellbound. There is so much to learn!

Of course there are exceptions, for instance I read all the Harry Potter books. I've read a couple of Dan Brown books because they captured the public imagination. Should say I read them as an exercise in sociology because that dude is a terrible writer, holy cow. But he knows exactly how to put his finger on the societal pulse beat of the moment. For that I admire his work.

Right now on the iphone I am plodding my way through the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. Those books are very fun, a guilty pleasure, like reading People magazine.

Because I signed up for National Novel Writing Month, I've been trying to imagine a plot, I've been inviting my mind to create some characters. It's rather hilarious that whenever I try to "see" my novel, my mind becomes a total blank, an empty canvas, a pure, clear, tranquil space. This morning while meditating, instead of the usual ways of focusing (such as on my breath, or using a mantra), I simply opened my mind to allow room for the novel to come into being. Every thought vanished within seconds!

It's likely I will not be writing a novel in November. I'll write something, but I'm dubious it will be fiction. However I am very grateful to have discovered the absolutely greatest meditation technique I've ever used. And it's funny, too. Oh yeah!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

River of Words

My mother, with whom I had a rather distant relationship (we mostly didn't "get" each other), often encouraged me to write. She felt I had the knack. Her encouragement was surprising and notable, since she generally didn't focus on my strengths. I took in what she said. I wrote. Letters, journals, stories and, as soon as the internets were up and running, I started blogging. That was almost a decade ago. Now I write two blogs. So indeed whether or not what I write is GOOD, the truth is, I am a writer.

I was thinking about my mother yesterday after I signed up for National Novel Writing Month. It's a funny thing for me to do since I don't even read novels, well not often anyway. But I thought of her encouragement, signed up, had a laugh. It might turn out like my attempt to learn to play the bass; something I always thought I could do, but then when I tried, it turned out I was not built for the job. Oh well. In the case of NaNoWriMo, I might stall out and not write anything. But I'm going to give it a go anyway, why not?

Running a quick errand after work yesterday, I was thinking of my mother fondly. I came across a stack of books on the sidewalk (people do that here all the time: clear off a bookshelf, put what they no longer want to keep out for others to pick up). In the stack I saw "The Family of Man," an old book of photographs. This was one of my mother's very favorite books. Of course I picked it up!

In some way I feel my mother is rooting for me from the other side of the veil. Seeing that book yesterday of all days made me smile. Hey, thanks, Elizabeth! I'm going to spend a month writing with abandon, just as you suggested long ago. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wish me luck? Thanks to y'all as well. Is the pen mightier than the sword? We shall see!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Back in the good old days, I had curly hair. Well, I did. Even just a few years ago my hair was curly. Then it grew out, unrestrained. My hair was so happy to be given free rein. As it got longer, it became wavy, then finally more straight than anything else. I figured it was the length that made it straight. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I rose from the chair at the hair salon, my hair much shorter and layered extensively, but still straight even though Richard, my hair guy, applied all the correct curl producing product, fouffed and fluffed and did his professional best to bring back the curl. He was as surprised as I was.

The haircut is very Mad Men. It was time for a change; I was so over the hippie hair. But what I imagined was a poufy head of curls. Hmm. How weird. Oh well.

It's a gray, soggy day in Washington DC. Cozy, autumnal. My plans include nothing more than receiving a massage, later on doing massage for a couple of clients. I'll have plenty of time to think about how change is ongoing and unavoidable, how life would be truly boring if this were not true.

I have straight hair? I know in the big scheme of things this is not especially remarkable. But it was a big surprise. Wow, or should I say whoa? You never know what's going to happen next. Oh yeah.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Life long learning

At least two or three times a year I am compelled to post the poem below. Oh yeah, I have had such GREAT teachers, and I am grateful.

One thing I realized this week is that I still have great teachers even though they don't look exactly like the teachers to whom I'm usually referring when I post the poem. These days my teachers look a whole lot like my clients, neighbors, friends and family.

I learned a lot this week by way of smooth and not so smooth interactions with my current roster of teachers. Wow. It will take awhile to integrate the lessons of the past week. Wisdom is hard earned and slow to accumulate, but today what I can say for sure is that I learned a lot about my attention span and stamina this past week. I also learned that in some ways I'm shamanically adept, but with other traditional shamanic practices, I'm clumsy as an ox.

Are oxen clumsy?

Because I had such great teachers, as a teacher I have always been eager to pass on to my students Every Single Thing I know. This week I realized fully this is absolutely unnecessary. I don't have to teach everything I know, not ever, and even though there are things shamans have always done, that does not mean I have to do them. Wow, what a revelation.

In many ways, even though I've had great teachers and learned many things, it's also true that I'm still treading on thin ice. Indeed.

Gratitude to Old Teachers

When we stride or stroll across the frozen lake,
We place our feet where they have never been.
We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy.
Who is down there but our old teachers?

Water that once could take no human weight -
We were students then - holds up our feet,
And goes on ahead of us for a mile.
Beneath us the teachers, and around us the stillness.

~~Robert Bly

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


At the end of my work day yesterday, I walked the circuit around Lincoln Park, snapped a few pics of the sunset. I did not engage with anyone, not humans, or dogs, or birds, not even the trees. A brief wave at the Cloud People was all I had the wherewithall to manage. After that I closed and locked the front door to the chateau, spent the evening blissfully alone.

Sometimes - even still - I wonder why, in this lifetime, I was not able to successfully partner. Sometimes I blame myself, feel defective, lonely and such because of my spinsterhood. But after a busy week like last week I can see underneath the self-blame. Truth is, I was built for solitude. Being single keeps me healthy and happy. This is actually not a defect. Hmm.

Last night I slept long and hard, dreamed many dreams. When I finally woke up this morning, the thought came to me that when I don't get enough time to recharge away from the realm of others, my brain gets brittle. All that grey goo inside my skull shrivels, dries out. I "saw" my brain, huddled in the corner of my skull, shivering, shrunken and puny. I'm sure this is not literally true, but metaphorically? Oh yeah.

This morning my brain feels bouncy, plump, juicy and ready for a day spent with people I love among the magnificent trees at the National Arboretum. The weather in DC is supposed to be perfect; highs in the upper 60s today with abundant sunshine.

Looking forward to re-engaging with the world of humans today, in a limited way, since mostly we will be hanging out with trees. Who doesn't love a big ole convo of trees? I mean really!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Too busy to think

There are lots of people who are as busy as I've been this week, every week. How do they do it? Whoa.

I usually have plenty of time to process, ponder, contemplate and reflect. I need many hours in a week to walk around, alone, take note of the world. When I'm as busy as I've been this past week, I have absolutely nothing smart to say about anything. Inside my head it's all static. I'm a dud.

My friends depart for San Francisco on Wednesday, I will receive an Auryvedic massage on Thursday. My work schedule this weekend is a bit slower than last week. I so look forward to a less hectic pace, even though this past week has been so much fun.

When I don't have time to think, I'm stupid. In a few days, when my head can stretch out and process everything that has taken place recently, maybe then I'll have something good to say. I hope so!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Guess who's coming to dinner

What makes a successful dinner party? There are obvious components of course - good food, candlelight, music perhaps. Ordinarily a successful dinner party depends who is invited, and how they are seated around the table. It can be a very tricky chemistry.

The Literary Feast throws the common wisdom of purposefully inviting like-minded people into the wind. I love that!

[A literary feast is] a fundraiser presented by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation: 33 dinner parties held in homes across Capitol Hill all on one evening. Each dinner features food and fun related to a specific book (reading is optional-- it’s a dinner, not a discussion!) A community-wide dinner party, a chance to mingle with new and old friends, all for a great cause.

Those who want to participate choose from a list of books, buy tickets without knowing where or with whom they will be feasting. Last night I only knew two of our guests. It could have been awkward or dicey or downright uncomfortable, but it was so much fun! Couples who came together purposely seated themselves apart from one another, so they could talk with people they didn't already know. Everyone made themselves at home immediately, something that isn't that hard to do in the house on Tennessee Avenue, but still, I was impressed!

Dinner was tasty, but last night was more about the gathering than anything else. I'm a bit weary from all the cooking yesterday and from the energy I had to generate to successfully hang out with people I've never met (I am such an introvert!)

It was well worth it. You see, THIS is why I love homo sapiens. When we're good, when we're willing to take a chance, have some fun, do some good in the world, we are SO good. Last night I witnessed good cheer and good will amongst a colorful variety of my fellow humans. Experiences like this are encouraging.

Life is good and I am grateful. L'chaim!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thanks, Prometheus - and Julia, you too!

I did not enjoy cooking until I was well into my thirties. What was all that about? One of the great gifts of my marriage was learning to cook. My husband was a great cook; he encouraged me to give it a go so often I finally did - and discovered how much fun it is.

I love chopping, stirring, bringing to a boil, then simmering. Equally satisfying is mincing garlic, listening to the white wine sizzle when I pour it all of a sudden into the pan, sniffing the delicious aroma of the fennel, leeks and celery as they soften in olive oil with bay leaves, star anise and other spices. It's a rush watching the soup turn brick red from the tomatoes and saffron. Oh yeah. This is why I love to cook. I fancy myself some kind of mad scientist (of sorts) anytime I indulge in the alchemy of nutrition. Later on, people will sit around the table, partake of the results of my efforts. That's always the best part.

Today I'm brewing a big ole batch of Mississippi Goddamn** Bouillabaise for the Literary Feast dinner we are hosting tonight at the house on Tennessee Avenue. It's for a good cause, though I don't quite remember what that cause is.

I'm thinking about the discovery of fire which necessarily preceeded the discovery of cooking. According to the people who create the stories we call history, roasting was discovered by accident when animals fell into roaring firepits. The people around the pit were hungry, so when the flames died down, they ate. Can you imagine the scene and how quickly the word spread afterwards? Boiling, by comparison, was a much more sophisticated discovery involving fireproof cauldrons and the inspiration to add water to whatever was being cooked. When did baking begin? I don't know the answer but it's interesting to think about.

By now we in my society are very precious about cooking, well, at least I am. It's a precise art, it is. Too much salt wrecks any dish, though not enough produces bland, boring food. Onions must be sauteed before adding them to soups, to keep them from tasting bitter. I have a lot rules around all of this, of course and may I say I'm not the only one!

I've made the rouille and the stock for the soup. Pretty soon I will add the seafood, finish with a few tablespoons of Pernod. Et voila! Dinner.

May all your hungers be satisfied! May you be well fed! So may it be. Shalom.

The theme of our dinner is Nina Simone's autobiography, "I Put a Spell on You."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The After Place

They simply called it "the after place." I saw many friends and family I hadn't seen in a long time, though I now can't remember who was there specifically. There was a joyfulness, a sense of connection, reunion, and healing. And it was beautiful, though I couldn't tell you why. No pain, no flopping around - wow. It was a remarkable experience, well worth remembering.

The dream was so powerful that I swam hard, pushed myself through several thick layers up to a state of complete awakeness. The after place, eh? In the moment of wakefulness I promised myself I would remember every detail, though I didn't write it down and now of course I can't remember much more than the feeling. I'll stick with the feeling, thank you very much. Beautiful!

I've dreamed of the after place before. It is always a place of peace. Sometimes there is a soft and steady rain falling. People gather to welcome me, but it isn't a raucous party, more like a sweet, quiet gathering. In the past, when I had these dreams I always felt the awe, but accompanying that, there was always a sense of wistfulness. Not last night, not at all. I was glad to be there.

I'm thinking this is a life-stage thing, shifting from feeling wistful at the prospect of mortality to a nice, comfortable acceptance and trust that when it comes around, whenever that might be, the experience will be more lovely than anything else. Who knows?

Today, though, is a great day to be alive in Washington DC. The sun is shining, Brother Wind is rushing around exuberantly, the air is crisp and bright. My friends and I are going to go for coffee, then down to see Andy Warhol's "Shadows" exhibit at the Hirschhorn. From there we will wander, take pictures, seek refreshment. I foresee an early evening convo at the Matchbox Bar. Oh yeah.

Life is good, really good. When it's time to leave this form, I'm assured in my dreams that will be good, too. I marvel and give thanks for this complicated existence and the mysteries that lie beyond.

L'chaim, y'all. Have a peaceful Thursday.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Old Friends

Tomorrow after work I'll head over to the Dubliner where I'll meet up with my friends John and Paula. Friends? They are so much more than friends, they are family. You know what I'm talking about? We met when I was living at Lake Tahoe at the very beginning of the 1980s. We "recognized" each other immediately as family-friends-clan-tribe, and we've been close friends ever since.

They live in San Francisco, which means we don't get a lot of actual time together. True, too, is that we let months slip by sometimes inbetween phone calls or even emails. It doesn't matter. Getting into a groove with one another is seamless, effortless. We don't have to try or work to stay close, or to catch up.

Not saying I never get on their nerves. Everyone who is willing to be a close friend has to put up with my tendency towards officiousness. They don't really care much. When I get obnoxious, without putting any extra spin on it, they simply tell me to knock it off. It is such a loving willingness they have to accept me exactly as I am. It's luxurious, and very rare.

They are whip smart and funny as hell. Paula has explained things to me that I could never have found language to describe. For instance, I always knew I disliked digital clocks, but had no idea why until she explained that time is not a number, it's cyclic, hence the analog clock on which the hands spin round and round (clockwise, don't you know), is a much clearer way to deal with time. Oh yeah. Brilliant, hey? John clearly predicted my association with Reclaiming long before I began my training in the craft. He "saw" it. Wow.

We will no doubt spend time at the Matchbox bar. We're going to go to the Hirschhorn to see Andy Warhol's abstract paintings. We'll walk around and take pictures (they share my love of photography). I will show them Eastern Market and the chateau, of course.

I'm not saying here that there's anything wrong with friendships/relationships that require a lot of work to maintain. That kind of connection can be very satisfying, and I have friends for whom I feel a deep love even though being friends is so strenuous. But with John and Paula, it's smooth. It has been smooth for thirty years. Oh man, I can't wait to see them.

To the miraculous nature of friendship! Cheers!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Let me say straightaway that I'm not against corporations, even huge corporations. It depends on the company. Whole Foods (for whom I worked for a couple of years) is a really good company. They treat their employees well, are ethical in their business practices and make it possible for me to eat very high quality food. If not for Whole Foods, many of the organic farming laws and regulations would not be in place. Whole Foods has the heft to make that sort of thing happen.

Same goes for Ikea and Starbucks. Both of those companies donate money to great causes, treat their employees decently and sell products made from sustainable materials. I can afford to buy a new rug, made in America, if I need one. I can find a decent cup of coffee no matter where I am. These corporations serve the greater good, in my opinion.

Of course large corporations, when they do make mistakes, make big ole mistakes. But that's inevitable, yes?

Here's what I love about Occupy Wall Street: I love it that people are participating in our democracy, bringing individual points of view into the light of day, expressing their own frustrations with the lopsided nature of society. The reality of haves and the have-nots has always existed throughout history, but for most of history, in most locations, if the have-nots try to take a stand, they are silenced, jailed, killed.

In the U.S. allegedly we are allowed to express our opinions as long as we do it lawfully and peacefully. This is one of the things I love about America. Sometimes things get out of hand on one side or the other - that, too, is inevitable. But I like it that the American Way includes the right of every citizen to have a say.

As for Wall Street itself, that world is not something I understand. Gambling is so weird, at least for me. I lived at Lake Tahoe for a couple of years, during which I partook of the casino experience exactly once, losing all my money in the blink of an eye. After that I decided it would be a lot more fun to throw $20 bills out the car window. I realized the state of Nevada would quickly go broke if it were true that anyone can gamble and consistently win. Hmmm.

During the crash of 2008 I kept asking people, "Where did the money go?" No one could really explain it in a way that made sense to me. Did it evaporate, I would ask, and they said yes. Yes? Money can evaporate? Please explain.

A world in which barter was the norm for exchange would make a whole lot more sense to me. Money is a bizarre - and in the case of American money, really ugly. A few years ago the Mint decided to redesign our money. Instead of making it cool looking, they decided to increase the size of the presidential heads. I find this shift quite rude. Who wants to gaze into the face of Andrew Jackson? I mean really!

I would love to live in a world in which those who have money would spread it around to the people who have not had the same privileges, who are down and out for one reason or another. I would love to live in a world in which health care was not co-opted by pharmeceuticals and insurance companies, and was provided to all in a reasonable, fair and just way. I would love to live in a world where all were well fed.

It's such a fantasy! When people try to make that happen, it gets complicated. For some it becomes a scam, others are unfairly excluded, and the ones who have the money and privilege hoard all the excess so no one can benefit from it.

Don't ask me for answers. I have none. But I really love it that people, regular people, have come out of their homes, have gotten their asses off the couch, out from in front of their TVs, to express themselves. This is a time of awakening for the common man and woman. That is why I love Occupy Wall Street.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Here ye, here ye

I can be a little bit of a jerk sometimes. I don't do it on purpose, nor am I usually conscious of what's going down until it's too late. Dang, man. As soon as I figure it out, that I've transgressed a boundary, behaved badly, or if I've in some minor way tried a pick a fight, I am very good at offering apologies.

You would think that, in this way, I would learn from the experience and move on. The other person almost always accepts the apology which means the episode is over. But no. I worry, I suffer, I flog myself (mentally) because somehow or another I believe I should have behaved perfectly. I should ALWAYS behave perfectly! Sometimes I am downright obsessed with guilt in the aftermath of what are truly minor transgressions even though, these days, I'm hardly ever really and truly mean. It's ridiculous actually because when other people behave without perfect aplomb towards me, I tend not to take it personally. I shrug it off and move on, but when I've snapped at another, bloody hello! You would think I had committed murder.

In Chinese medicine, small misbehaviors indicate an internal imbalance. The self-righteousness I was prone to earlier in life? The Sufi acupuncturist says that was due to lung heat. What a concept, hey? It's not a terrible character flaw, it is simply heat in the lungs. I don't even know what that means, but I like it, the idea that for those of us who mean well, small slips in civilized behavior can be treated with needles, moxa and/or herbs. Chinese medicine is no-fault medicine. I love that!

In addition to the end of my willingness to listen to complaints about weight, I'm adding a second decree: I'm going to stop apologizing. I mean I'm going to stop over-apologizing. When I'm an ass, I owe a sincere apology. It's important to pay attention, learn from the experience. But then, I will move on; I will cease and desist with apologing over and over and over again in an effort to redeem myself in the eyes of the person I offended. As if it's up to them! My goodness.

I got into the habit of apologizing after I left the witchy community. At the time it was a Really Good Habit because while I was involved in magic, I was a total bitch on a regular basis! I'm a lot nicer now. Time to break the annoying habit of over-apology, yes? I say YES.

If this post was offensive to anyone, I apologize. Once only, but sincerely. Onwards and upwards. Happy Saturday, y'all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rain and Roses

Aging is confusing for we baby boomers, though I should say we are not the first, nor will we be the last, generation to find it bewildering. Maybe especially now it's challenging because our society is virulently ageist, also because we mature so early and age so late at this moment in evolution. It's easy to think, during the mid-40s, that somehow we will escape what is inevitable. Then we turn 50 and see that oh yeah, we're going to grow old - or die before that happens. One or the other, there is no third choice. In affluent 21st century America, we age quickly during the decade of the fifties.

My affection for the process of aging goes against the grain for many people of all ages. Youth is revered, old age despised. I don't understand. Every age has its challenges and problems, also its blessings. In late middle age (I think that's where I would place myself), we are liberated from so many concerns that were Terribly Important earlier in life. The hormonal imperative of young adulthood to be partnered, the biological clock ticking away, etc. all become nothing more than a vague memory after menopause (men have their own version of menopause, you know).

We're free, too, of the sense that we must ACHIEVE, climb ever higher on the ladder of success, whatever the hell that is. Earlier in life it seems necessary to be important in some way. What was THAT all about? Hmmm... I don't remember, though I know my ambitions around being a High Priestess were very acute. I would go for the jugular if I thought someone was about to surpass me in the hierarchy of priestessing. For heaven's sake.

I've been thinking recently that when I turn 60, there are a whole bunch of things I'm not going to do anymore. For instance, I've heard people talk about their weight for most of my life. I'm so over it. I was thinking, after 60, when anyone begins to complain about their weight, I'll stop 'em cold - nicely - and explain that I don't want to hear it. I'll smile, change the subject, and will not apologize. From then on, I will never ever again have to listen to that crap. Free at last!

Last night I realized a meteor could hit the planet or I could suddenly drop dead from something or another before I reach 60. In other words, what am I waiting for? As of today, October 13, 2011, if you're worried about your weight, tell someone else, please. Life is short and I don't want to hear it.

Late middle age is a wonderful time of life! There is a late bloom at this age, similar to the roses in DC, also the bulb flowers who - in the midst of the midatlantic autumn - bloom as if it were spring. I'm not a fan of the muggy, hot early fall we experience here, but I do like the metaphor of the late blooming rose, oh yeah.

Life is good - at every age, believe me, at every age. L'chaim. And Shalom.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Ball

I just realized Arlo and I have matching hair. Wow.

My date Arlo Guthrie and I are headed over to the Willow Manor Ball today where we will drink champagne, hobnob with folks famous and not so much, dead and alive, notorious and not. It is THE blog event, something I look forward to every year.

Now I know I look a little nervous in the picture, but the truth is we puffed from a funny cigarette just as we were departing the Occupy Wall Street scene in New York, and now trying to dance is somewhat of a challenge! I feel like giggling, but I'm thinking I need to pay attention to what I'm trying to do. Safety first!!

How the hell did I get into this dress which was once worn by Twiggy? It's the Ball. It is magic. See y'all on the flip side. Follow the link on the sidebar and join us, please? Bring a dream date - anyone you want, the rules of marital fidelity, not to mention life and death, do not apply. On other days we can live disciplined, orderly lives. But today? Gotta dance!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Last night's crazy, ringed moon. Pretty star or planet on the left side of the pic, isn't it?

I was born at the dark moon which might be why I struggle so with the full moon. Should say, not EVERY full moon, though - more often than not - I flinch when I see the shiny disc in the sky. I can't help it, and btw I am not the only one who has ever felt this way. Think of the poor wolfman. The full moon brings a buzzy, shouting energy that I find overwhelming. I want to run and hide, but there's no hiding from Luna, c'mon.

Way back in the 90s, I drew down the moon one time in the middle of an epic witch camp, surrounded by a hundred campers and my fellow teachers. What I remember is an ethereal voice coming out of my own mouth, an eerie wailing sound (was that really me?) my head tilted back, my eyes wide open. I wailed/sang/called LOOOOOONAAAAAAHHHHHH! over and over again with the same passion that Marlon Brando exhibited in the famous scene from A Streetcar Named Desire.

Important disclaimer: I never made out with the moon, I promise. Eww.

At the time I had no idea that my relationship with the moon was so passionate. Again I must say I'm not the first, nor the last, to go a bit crazy under its influence. After the wailing I'm not sure what happened except the people in the circle around me began toning in a crazy spiral around and around. I remember how huge the moon seemed, I swear it filled at least half of the sky. It was trippy. At the end of the ritual apparently the moon let go of me, or I let go of the possession. When I looked down, two of my most revered fellow teachers were on the ground holding my feet as if they were afraid I might fly off into the night sky. I wonder what happened that night. I guess I'll never know.

Last night was one of Those Moons, big ole devil moon, as Tess of the blog Willow Manor would say. I tossed and turned all night, barely slept. Hence today I'm feeling kind of hungover (I wasn't drinking last night), and when I look in the mirror it's alarming to see how pale and scary I look. Surely werewolves feel like this the day after, hey?

Luckily I had a day off today. I don't have to focus, thank god. And now the moon has turned from full to a waning gibbous. What a relief! Hoping for a better sleep tonight. Wish me luck. Thanks. Shalom.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The 99%

There was a piece on NPR this morning about Occupy Wall Street in Kansas City. Made me proud of my home town. And there's this opinion piece from the New York Times, well worth reading.

This is great. I wonder if Jon Stewart understands that he kicked this into motion when he held the Rally to Restore Sanity last year. The home-made signs, the gathering of all kinds of people with differing ideologies smells very much like that rally. I love it that there are a lot of different messages being presented and that this seems to be a real grassroots movement that is only partially organized by professional activists. I have a big problem with professional activists of all kinds due to the holier-than-thou mindset that seems to come with the territory. Why are they better than the rest of us? I've never understood that.

What I remember about the movements in the sixties is that the protests changed the way people saw the world. The social changes came into play somewhat after that. I am very excited! Regular folks are participating in our democracy. Oh yeah!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

No place like it.

Autumnal rose with chateau windows in the background.

Literally for decades I've had a repeating dream about not being able to get home. I'm trying to catch a cab, find a bus stop, train station, Metro station, or my car. I am stranded and bereft.

Was. I haven't had that dream in awhile.

I do not own the chateau or my nest at the base of this grand old house on East Capitol Street, but this is my home, maybe the first home ever.

I certainly never felt at home in the house where I grew up, nope. I lived alone in a number of apartments during my 20s and 30s, but back then I was neo-bohemian to a fault, literally. I didn't cook, didn't care about comfortable upholstery or having a table at which to sit while eating dinner. So while I parked my stuff in these apartments, the spaces were never cozy, nor did they reflect anything much beyond my disinterest in nesting.

Later, I proceeded to co-habit with a string of other people, all of whom had definite opinions about what makes a house a home. For the duration of each of these situations, I took the path of least resistance which was to never even try making these spaces feel like my home. The result is that I lived in other people's homes.

When I moved into the chateau, I did a few things to make the space more comfortable. These days I love to cook and entertain, making some degree of domesticity a must. Also, as I get older, my appreciation and fondness for comfortable upholstery grows exponentially, a great motivation to at least try.

It was when I decided to move my practice into the chateau that I noticed how sparse it felt here. For my clients' benefit (or so I thought) I took time, spent money, fixed things up, attended to neglected spaces in the apartment, hung pictures, arranged. In other words, I decorated. The result is a COZY, inviting, calm and rather nice place, if I do say so myself. Clients say, "This is very you," "It feels so calm and inviting in here!" etc. I love it when they say that! One client asked if I'd had a feng shui consultant help arrange the space. Cool!

I did it for my clients, but I, too, am reaping the benefits of my efforts. For the first time ever I live in a space that's arranged just right for me. Not too big, not too small, too hot or too cool, too hard nor too soft. Within the domestic realm, I have achieved the Tao of Goldilocks.

Hence, the end of the nightmares. Or - at least that's today's theory. Happy Sunday to all. Hoping everyone I love is enjoying a peaceful day in a homey setting. Shalom.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Me: Good morning, your majesty. Whazzup?
God: Ha. I love it when you call me that!
Me: You are majestic, you know.
God: Yeah, that's what they say.
Me: You've got a busy day ahead, hey?
God: Yom Kippur - not actually my favorite day of the year.
Me: Why?
God: I love the singing, and the way y'all wear white. That's cool.
Me: But -- ?
God: But all the fussing about being forgiven? Sometimes even I don't understand what that's about. I guess it makes people feel better, but you know it isn't up to me personally - everyone can be forgiving of him or herself and others. It's hard but it can be done.
Me: Well, I can expl--
God (interrupting): And the people who never talk to me all year long, but today? Today they ALL want to talk to me, all at once. For heaven's sake. If I had a head, it would give me a headache.
God: Sorry, I interrupted you.
Me: Well ... I ... wanted to talk to you.
God: (laughing) You talk to me every day, go ahead.
Me: How are we, you and me? Are things good between us?
God: Why wouldn't they be?
Me: I'm supposed to ask before the Book of Life closes at sunset tonight. And I'm curious, this whole Let there be light thing from this year - did I do it?
God: Oh yeah. You're shining like a star, my dear. Well done.
Me: I've been wondering about facing the light like this ... doesn't that mean I will cast a very dark shadow? An unexamined shadow?
God: You generate light, just like everyone. This year you're remembering to embody the light rather than standing in someone else's light. Make sense?
Me: ... ummm ...
God: When you generate light, you shine from your back body as well as front body, creating only the palest shadow. It's a stage of life thing - you're just about three-score, yes?
Me: In a little over a year, yes.
God: Younger people must struggle, they have to build, expand, thrash around, cast shadows and explore those shadows. But later in life, the only thing you have to do is shine.
Me: OH, wow. What a revelation.
Me: Wow.
God: Pick your jaw up off the ground, please. Can we wrap this up? I've got places to go and people see, sixty-four gates to pass through.
Me: Yes, of course, your majesty. THANK YOU, and I love you!
God: I love you, too. All of y'all. You're so adorable. Better get going. Shalom!
Me: Shalom! See you tomorrow... kiss kiss!

Friday, October 7, 2011


What a week! The birth of baby Melina, the death of Steve Jobs (rest in peace, brother), the return of sunshine to Washington DC, as well as Occupy Wall Street reaching critical mass, all in ONE WEEK? Holy cow, no wonder I'm tired.

It's a good tired, though, a satsifying fatigue. Nothing is worse than exhaustion from boredom, hey? No chance of that this week, at least not for me.

I have a million thoughts spiraling through my mind and a million emotions spiraling through my heart, but not so much time to express them today. I could write at length about Steve Jobs, but others have done that very well. I could go on equally about how much this moment in time feels EXACTLY like the 60s and how damn lucky I am to have lived through two historical periods of social upheaval and change. I could wax rhapsodic about the parents of the baby who was born Tuesday, how incredible both of them are, how proud I am to be part of their extended family.

Indeed the High Holy Days this year have been epic, at least in my little corner of the world. Light poured in, to the city, into my heart and mind. I feel literally bright from all the light. Wow. Tonight after my long day of work I will settle into the energy of Kol Nidre, I will honor the ancestors and ask for their guidance and wisdom. Tomorrow is Yom Kippur, a day I ordinarily find unnerving. This year I'm ready for a big ole sit-down with God, I look forward to it. The light this week was cleansing. I feel squeaky clean, oh yeah.

What a week! Wow. Happy Friday to all. Shalom.

I did not take this pic. I saw it on Facebook and knew immediately I would post it here. It's an image that does my heart good. Spread it around!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Odd Duck

Sometimes I seriously wonder if I'm from another planet. I am SO out of the mainstream. I know I'm not the only one, and I'm not disturbed about it at all. I yam who I yam, it's OK. The way I think and conduct my life is more or less harmless, at least I try my best. Also, and maybe this is equally significant: I am not interested in trying to convince anyone else that my way is the right way. God, no.

At times I've wondered how it was I moved so far off the societal path well marked and followed. All my sibs married well, have kids (well, most of them), and live within the consensual hallucination called ordinary reality. And then there's me. Hmm...

Only during the holiday season am I ever this focused on how different I am than Jane Q. Citizen. Today I'm thinking about it because I attended a birth yesterday, always an experience of awe, hard work, focus, and teamwork. I spent the day around people whose lives I can hardly imagine: the doctors, nurses, midwives and such. They're healers, as am I, but their points of view are vastly, hugely, monumentally different than my cosmology. They come at it very differently - very. Can't use the word VERY often enough here.

Every one of the professional healers I worked with yesterday was WONDERFUL, let me say - super heroes. No one was surly or impatient. There was professionalism, yes, but everyone was compassionate and competent. However it was very clear that if I had taken my rattle out of my purse and started dancing in shamanic alignment with the energy of labor and delivery, I would have been politely escorted from the room. Hey, I know better than to do that. But I thought about it, tried to imagine how my shamanic behavior would be received. It was clear that no matter how groovy labor and delivery have become in hospital settings, it's STILL a hospital. Such strange environments, hospitals.

OK, yeah. I'm a freak. My sister hates it when I use that word but it is not an insult, it's just how it is.

Walk your walk and talk your talk today, people. Let there be light! Shalom.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I like it!

The spray paint over whatever graffiti was underneath has got to be as cool, or cooler, than the original art.

The astrologers said this period of time (since spring 2010, through 2017!) would feel like the 60s and it does! They were spot on. The Arab spring, sit-ins on Wall Street, riots in London, unjust wars, even the renewed interest in medical applications for hallucinogenics feels so familiar. Even the Tea Party, bless their hearts, getting out on the streets to demonstrate? They, too, feel the energies afoot and can not sit still. They must dance in shamanic alignment. The energy is strong.

It's very Age of Aquarius, the way so many of these movements don't have a clear agenda or a designated leader, or leadership that lasts very long. How these movements evolve is something I am curious to see. Most of us grew up with the idea that either we would be "the leader" or one of the faceless followers. We were encouraged to go one way or another, depending on the values of our parents and teachers, i.e. Be safe, be a follower, or Change the World!. We knew there was only room for one or two leaders, in class, the arts, and at work. It was very hierarchical. Similarly in our politics it was a situation of THIS or THAT. We were FOR or AGAINST. I think that paradigm is long past its expiration date.

Though it's harder for leaderless groups to find a focus, it is evolutionary behavior. It is the essence of the Age of Aquarius that each individual must find his or her way, do his or her part, contribute to the whole. It is no longer our duty to follow directions or to swallow anything hook, line and sinker or to be either FOR or AGAINST. We are at last seeking the third road. The world, and everything in it, is complicated. Yay!!

I'm seeing a lot of outrage on FB and elsewhere because network news is not covering the Wall Street sit-ins. But we all know about them, yes? Why do we care about the network news? We are so used to being outraged, it's hard to think straight sometimes. Network news is part of the old order, the establishment. Kill your TV! You don't need it anymore.

oops. Just lapsed into 60s jargon. Ha. I am VERY lucky, as one of the most Aquarian Aquarians you'll ever meet, to live through TWO historic periods of social upheaval and reinvention. That was then and this is now, but oh boy does it feel familiar.

Love, peace and rock 'n roll.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Enough already!

"Let there be light" is the theme of my work for the High Holy Days this year. It is an interesting theme indeed. Light reveals what has been previously hidden from view which can be wonderful, illuminating, but also sometimes there are creepy little crawly things in the shadows that I didn't know were there. If there's light, things will be revealed. Hmmm.

In the past, discovering creepy crawly stuff was my cue to get to work, to heal or resolve the creeps and crawls no matter what, even at my own expense, even things that can't be resolved or healed. I was very determined.

It's interesting that I'm choosing, in a number of different situations, to turn away from the dark, instead face the light. The dark issues that are a part of life are fascinating, have always been compelling to me. Bearing down on age 59 as I am, it's dawning on me (perfect phrase) that I don't have to solve, unravel or fix everything lurking in the shadows. While I'm mucking around, life is going by. I need to choose carefully before plunging into the shadows to fix and repair. I do have a choice! What a revelation!

Let there be light all around me, to my left and right, before me and behind me, above me and below me. Let there be light as the days grow shorter. So may it be. Shalom.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Tenth Month

It's October and I am happy. Though once again gloomy in DC, it is a CHILLY gloom rather than a hot and humid gloom. At this time of year, I prefer chilly. It's supposed to be chilly. It might even be blustery out there; the wind is gusty. How exciting! Fall. Oh yeah.

October will be a busy month. I'm going to attend the birth of a baby - soon - next week sometime I think. Two of my oldest and most beloved friends are coming for a visit from San Francisco. Can't wait to see them! October 12 is the Willow Manor Ball, something I look forward to every year. See the sidebar for details. The Literary Feast is October 22nd, an excuse to cook, toast, and feast.

I will play a million games of scrabble with my sisters, brother and friends on the iphone. OK. Maybe only a thousand games. Along with the cool weather, I am again inspired to entertain here at the chateau; right now there are four or five cookbooks on my kitchen table, open to recipes for quiche, stews, and soups.

In October the leaves will begin to turn colors as best they can after a very dry summer followed by three steady weeks of rain, not the best of conditions for a colorful fall. Nevertheless, I will be out there walking around this month, taking dozens of pictures anytime Brother Sun is kind enough to grace us with his presence.

As always in October, I will hang out with the Dead. The veils are already very thin, have been for awhile, I should say, and the ghosts are already partying, such as they are able. They love a good long period of gloomy weather, who knows why? I've asked many times but they always pretend they didn't hear me. Actually there are living people, plenty of them, who LOVE gloomy weather. I don't get it, do you? One thing I'm guessing I will not do in October is understand that prediliction.

On Halloween I will again vamoose East Capitol Street to hide out on Tennessee Avenue, away from the uber-throngs of trick or treaters.

Oh yeah. October is my favorite month. I hope it stretches out and lasts a good long time. May it be so. Shalom!

She seems very determined.