Sunday, December 30, 2012

Past Present Future

In this form, we are bound by time. There is absolutely no way around it. We measure time very carefully which gives us a false sense of control. By measuring time, we tell ourselves it flows in an orderly fashion, but time speeds up and slows down in ways that even an atomic clock can not accurately record. C'mon. You know I'm right - right? Oy.

This morning I've been looking at depictions of Old Father Time, leaning on his scythe, looking mighty bedraggled next to the baby new year who is as cute and perky as can be, of course. Every image I saw in my google search was compelling. There is some kind of essential truth in those images, even the silly cartoons. Yeah. Tomorrow night the old guy will give it up, make way for the brand new year, as it should be!

Just as compelling (to me) are depictions of Kali, the Hindu deity who is often called the goddess of destruction. Her name means time. Time is the destroyer, after all, at least in this form it is. There is something so cleansing about Kali's furiousness. She does not sport the calm face, not ever. She is mad as hell and is not going to take it anymore.

I would likely be thinking about time anyway, since New Year's Eve is tomorrow, but this year my fixations with beginnings and endings are particularly intense since I will turn sixty in a few weeks. I should be taking it all in stride since I'm healthy and functional and - more than that - I'm happy with life at the present moment, so very happy. I've been an old lady all my life, just waiting to grow into myself. So I should be just fine with the big birthday looming, right? Right!

Should is a funny word, hey?

Last night a friend who is a great strategic thinker was trying to help me figure out how to celebrate sixty. He knows I hate parties, so throwing a party for myself was off the table before we even began to brainstorm the possibilities. I mentioned it after which he gave me a funny look. He is an extreme extravert. He said, "Throwing parties is stressful - even for me! What are you thinking?" The idea of a party went directly into recycling.

A gathering at the Matchbox Bar? That's a reasonable possibility. My birthday falls on a Wednesday so it shouldn't be too busy early in the evening. I also considered going to New York as I did when I turned fifty.

Turning sixty should be special in some way. I really hope I don't decide to stay in and watch movies on my ipad. How sad would that be? While I'm deciding, I find myself looking at images of Father Time and Kali, also checking airfares to Paris and back. It's a nice fantasy, but turning sixty in Paris alone? Why am I even considering it? You tell me!

Well, whatever. I'll figure it out or I won't. But no matter how many images of Kali and Father Time I stare at, whether I go to Paris or New York or the Matchbox bar, no matter what I do or don't do, on February 13th I will be sixty. Yep, I surely will.

Happy almost new year's. Onwards and upwards. Shalom.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

In the chute

Tick tick tick. Only a few days now until 2013. At the end of almost every solar cycle, whether it's my birthday, the High Holy Days, or secular winter solstice, i.e. New Year's Eve, it feels to me as if the Higgs Boson field narrows and thickens. At the ends of these cycles I'm in a tunnel, speeding up even while meeting thickened resistance to the forward motion. The ends of solar cycles tend to be very dramatic.

I wonder if this makes sense to anyone but me. Remember I decided to break the habit of embarrassment about being a shaman.

At summer solstice, the timespace of the solar years feels like a large, round room, which is why I don't think of it as an end and beginning, even though, literally, it is. The equinoxes have some of that feeling of tightening and thickening yet speeding up, but those benchmarks in the solar year are far more gentle in nature, at least for me.

This year the chute out of 2012 seems somewhat treacherous. It feels icy, sharp and potentially dangerous. The sleet storm we had yesterday in DC mirrored what I've been sensing, as does today's sharp, metallic high winds.

We're moving along at a rapid clip through the Higgs Boson tunnel into the new year. Some years it's a water slide or a smooth gliding feeling in spite of added intensity, but this year it feels to me that we need to be alert, we need to be our best, most balanced selves. We need to be graceful, like dancers or martial artists, and honest, too, to make it through unscathed. Some will be sliced en route. It's inevitable in this kind of energetic terrain. Those of us who can stay relaxed, yet alert, will be better able to help those who come bleeding and limping into the new year.

Please do not ask me to explain how I know this or to prove it's true. I can't.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Another holiday season bites the dust

Ah. Christmas is done. (long, slow sigh). Thank god. I'm a lot better with the holidays than I used to be, but they are still very difficult, no matter how I spin it. But it's OK. It's done now. Just one more holiday, after which 2012 (a great year for me) will be toast. Bring it on.

Like Thanksgiving, my Christmas this year was very quiet. It was beautiful in DC, chilly but not cold. There was no wind and lots of sunshine. I took a long walk this morning, marveling at the empty streets. Everything was closed this morning except the odd mom and pop corner store - everything - even the Smithsonian museums. It is the one day of the year they're closed.

Who says this isn't a Christian country? C'mon.

Tomorrow everything will be open and bustling again. I like the almost spooky deserted streets on Christmas day, but I'm in essence a city dweller; I enjoy the bustle, too. Tomorrow I'll see families wandering around Eastern Market, and lots of people with rolling suitcases, coming up from as well as entering the subway. A handful of folks will go to work, too, I suppose.

These days I approach the holidays with a much more open mind than I used to. I would welcome a really fun and heartwarming experience of the holidays, but in fact, in the aftermath what I feel this year - and every year, to be honest - is happiness and relief.

Onwards and upwards to New Year's Eve. Shalom.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Our houses

Our Houses

When we enter the unknown
of our houses,
go inside the given up dark
and sheltering walls alone
and turn out the lamps
we fall bone to bone in bed.
Neighbors, the old woman who knows you
turns over in me
and I wake up
another country. There's no more
north and south.
Asleep, we pass through one another
like blowing snow,
all of us,

--Linda Hogan

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What goes up must come down

One thing we failed to teach in Reclaiming - or even mention - is that contact with the numinous is blissful - or at least ecstatic (which is not always pleasant). I wonder why we forgot that part? Also forgotten, mentioning that after the ecstasy comes the agony. The let down after a big event is inevitable. Just imagine the first couple of weeks of January. Yeah. That's what I'm talking about. It's coming, our great, national month of detox from the holiday festivities. January is the queen mother of holiday hangovers. Whew!

What goes up, must come down.

Come to think of it, in Reclaiming we did mention the unfortunate reality of energy hangovers - ruefully - but never until the day after a particularly transformational ritual, as one would after drinking too much. It never occurred to us to try to mitigate the heavy thud of coming back to "real life" after a dance with the divine. We didn't think of our rituals as intoxicating exactly. We referred to them as "powerful," an excellent euphemism, I think.

It isn't just modern day neo Pagans who experience the energy hangover, of course. Think of all the ecstatic sects in Christianity. Below is Bernini's interpretation of the old Catholic version of divine bliss. That's St. Teresa. Not sure who the other nun is, but dear God, they are clearly flying as high as any one of us pagans when we did our rituals. One wonders how they felt the next day. And Teresa went on to be a saint which always means There Will Be Suffering. It was worth it to them, to experience an intimate moment with God. 

Naturally I'm thinking about this because last weekend was, for me, a rite of passage, a numinous, luminous, magical and perfect culmination of an old cycle in my personal saga, the cycle of my relationship with my mother. I will likely never find the right language to express what happened to me. If I were a poet, I would try that form. Last weekend was so overfull of wonder and transformation, I will no doubt reflect on it for the rest of my life. It was that big.


Now I'm home, back in mundane reality. I'm working a lot (which is good). I'm also, of course, coming down from the pure clarity and perfection of last weekend. It's inevitable but may I say I'm not really enjoying it. Who would? When I planned the trip I didn't understand that returning right before Christmas, when you're supposed to be full of holiday cheerfulness, was perhaps not the best timing in the world.

Buddhist and Hindu saints and high practitioners of those traditions focus on being calm. Of course they aren't calm all the time - no human can be - but the practice must stand them in good stead at moments like this, coming down off a peak experience just as Christmas is ramping up for the big blowout on the 24th and 25th. 

Here's the face of Guanyin of the Southern Sea, the big ole bodhisattva I've been friends with since the early 1970s. Here's a pic I took of her. It's blurry, unfortunately, but you can see she has the calm face, nothing like St. Teresa, above.

I experienced a pure, calm state when I lay down on my mother's grave. The pic I posted the other day is me with the calm face. I can't stop looking at that picture. Wow.

Though I have not yet been able to get back to the placid, centered smoothness I felt at that moment, I now know it's possible. That's what the Buddhists mean by being centered! What a revelation. I thought being centered meant observing the drama and trauma of life from an objective place, remaining slightly aloof so as to keep from being drawn in. 

On my mother's grave, I went deep to a quiet place where there is no drama, hence no need for detachment or aloofness. That state of being produces the calm face. How I would love to find a way back to that state without having to lie down on my mother's grave! What I'm trying to describe, being centered, isn't a sustainable place because I am a dynamic, living being, but I would love to be able to access it sometimes, even if only for moments at a time. Not knowing how I got there last week, I have no map to get back to it. Hence I am practicing the calm face of those traditions. It's a Fake It Till You Make It strategy. 

It hasn't worked so far, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying the practice and I do think it's mitigating the energy hangover. I am grateful for that. 

Also grateful that the solstice has passed. Let there be light! Shalom.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sacred Landscapes

The truth is: every landscape is sacred. Some are more famously sacred, but even lands that have been devastated by storms, eruptions, floods, fire and/or overuse are sacred scars that can, if we pay attention to them, help make us more compassionate, kinder, more mindful.

There are many magnificent landscapes known all over the world. Gazing into Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe, for instance, brings a sense of awe and inspiration, a visceral experience of wonder. Oceans and mountains are especially wonder-ful sacred landscapes. The landscape of the sky, whether it's bright blue, filled with fleecy clouds or dark, spangled with stars and moonlight, is equally sacred and inspirational.

Some sacred landscapes do not convey breathtaking awe and inspiration nor the kind of compassion that arises when looking at areas of devastation. The landscapes I'm referring to are more quietly sacred. As opposed to knocking you out with their beauty, gazing at this kind of land quiets the mind and heart - except during storms, of course, which seem to always be more dramatic in the flat lands. Of course I'm talking about the prairie here, the landscape of the city where I grew up: Kansas City.

I made a point of getting to a retrospective of Terry Evans' photographs at the Nelson-Atkins museum. She is a native of Kansas City, hence a part of the gently rolling, big sky landscape of the American plains. The exhibit was incredible, so glad I caught it.

I took the pics with this post on the same day, just outside the back door of my sister's home. It was foggy all day but just before dusk, Brother Sun came out and turned the landscape gold and gray. It was spectacularly gentle.

Other than these two shots, I was somehow unable to connect with the land in a way that allowed my eye to do its thing. I grew up there, but I've been away a long time. I couldn't see the gentle sacredness, couldn't find it. I'm no longer able to see the prairie well enough to capture its essence.  It's interesting to think about.

My inability to connect is an aspect of having become a swamp thing. I've lived in DC for fourteen years tomorrow, almost as long as I was in California. You never know what life will dish up next. Me? A swamp thing? I guess so!

Let there be light.
Let it snow
May it be so.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No place like it

The Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas City is a great music town. It always has been. It's a great arts town, including but not only because of the Nelson-Atkins museum. The symphony is good, the theater is good, also should mention the city has a great dance scene. It's a fabulous food town. And the people are nice. No, really -- they are.

This past weekend I was wined and dined, welcomed so heartily I was kind of blown away by it all. People cooked for me, picked up every single check except once when it was energetically appropriate for us to split the bill. I literally did not have the time and/or headspace to see everyone who wanted to book some time with me. One of my very favorite friends of all time referred to me as a "visiting dignitary." How sweet is that? I felt well loved. Even that aspect of the trip, the socializing, was intensely healing.

We of the megalopolis here, stretching from the District to Boston, are nice, too, but it's so different. People in Kansas City stop, take a moment to acknowledge one another. Not everyone of course; I'm referring to the cultural norm. Here on the midatlantic and New England coast, appropriate behavior includes being slightly aloof - it's our pack behavior. In Kansas City, the cultural norm is to be polite but also to engage with each other, even strangers. Just because that's how it's done there.

I used to feel slightly embarrassed to have grown up in Kansas City because I wanted to be cool, and Kansas City, to my mind, was not a cool city. The truth is, Kansas City is not seen as a cool city, but it is really cool. It is.

I (heart) Kansas City. And - it's good to be back in the swamp I call home.

Gigantic shuttlecock on the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins museum. There are several, scattered about. Startling!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Above and below (not under) the weather

The day the children were murdered in Connecticut was the day my sister and I dedicated my mother's gravestone. We didn't know anything about the shootings, of course, as we were not flipping through Facebook on our iphones while at the cemetery. Good lord, no.

It was a gray day, dark because of the heavy, low overcast that must have been very thick indeed. I remember the gray, but I can't tell you if it was cold or hot, or if Brother Wind was hanging around. I can almost always remember the weather, but not last Friday's weather, nope. I can tell you that, above the weather, the moon was brand new and the sky was well washed due to the Geminid meteor showers the night before.

We were not above the weather, however. We were in the weather. You could even say we were the weather, dancing a moment that was outside of time/space in every way you can imagine - not just for me. My sister experienced it too. Oh yeah.

Above the weather, on my way home yesterday.

I spilled some water on my mother's stone, and on my sister Karen's stone, too, (it's right next to my mother's). I remember my sister reading a beautiful dedication she had written on a folded piece of typing paper. I know I sang one of my favorite chants about spirit and time. We placed rocks on the stone as well as on my sister's stone. Please don't ask in what order these things happened. I can say for sure that the ritual unfolded perfectly, in a decidedly non-linear way.

It was a kind of spooky feeling, lying down on my mother's grave, but I did it anyway. The idea was irresistibly compelling. As I lay there, I let my inner eye gaze downwards, through the grass that's still brown from last summer's severe heat and drought. My point of view followed my gaze, down into the earth, past some bugs and the roots of the grass, past old remnants of weed roots and such, down into deeper ground where it was quiet and black. I couldn't sense the plain pine box or the caftan-like sheath, but I believe I found my mother's bones, felt the resonance of the shared DNA. I became serene when that happened. My living, beating heart became surprisingly calm. It was a beautiful and unfamiliar experience.

I could have stayed there for a long time, but as I have learned from many years of experience, contact with the dead should be brief. It's not good for my health or well being to spend too much time among those who have crossed through the veil, even those I love most dearly. There's a way in which it hampers not only me, but also holds back or constrains the dead. I can't explain how I know this.

Hence I got up, brushed the grass off my coat. My sister and I made our way to the car, drove off into the gray, gray day, inadvertently tracing arcs and spirals as we returned to the world of the living. The last sentence is my attempt to poetically say that after the dedication, we got lost, drove in circles, even while following the google maps app on my iphone. We both know Kansas City like the backs of our hands.

It was funny and it was bizarre. Eventually we found our way to familiar environs after which we sat down and enjoyed a delicious lunch.

It is done.


My friend, Guanyin of the Southern Sea, at the Nelson Atkins Gallery. I've been visiting with her since the early 1970s, whenever I can. She is so dear to me that I have a poster of her hanging in my living room. Here is a link to a beautiful blog post someone wrote about her.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Blog break, because

As I am now breathing, sleeping, thinking, imagining, dreaming and feeling only the upcoming unveiling of my mother's gravestone, I'm going to take a break from this practice until I get back from Kansas City.

See y'all on the flip side.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Romancing the stone

On the grounds of the Botanical Gardens yesterday. Wow.

If you could look inside my head and heart right now, your eyes would roll around or maybe you would go cross-eyed. There's so much going on, I'm in awe. All of it, everything, the intricate dreams I'm having, the planning in my head, the upwelling of emotion in my heart - all in preparation for the trip next week - is complicated, rich, many layered and indescribable.

That's why my posts here have been long and convoluted lately. Preparing to unveil my mother's gravestone is strenuous in mind, heart and body too. I'm sleeping more deeply than under normal circumstances, waking up unclear about what is the dream, what is the "reality." I'm having dream-like experiences in waking life, such as spotting the hawk yesterday. My prayers have never been more sincere and meditation has never been as crucial.

Everything I do is luminous, numinous and heartfelt right now. I feel almost translucent. Even making a salad or vacuuming, even my walks around the Hill (always a splendid experience) feel infused by an extra je ne sais quoi. Wow. Or should I say whoa?

I choose to say wow. I've been through numerous initiations. The unveiling is definitely an initiation of some kind, a big one. The Sufi acupuncturist told me this week to let the experience change me as it will. He pointed out I'm not in charge; I'm a participant in this ritual. I'm to participate with openness, always my hardest thing. But I'm going to give it my best shot.

I am smiling. Shalom.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille

In my society, people are not taught how to behave in groups except as a member of the audience or the person standing in front of the audience. We learn about romantic one-on-one relationships, we learn about friendships, also we learn how to sit quietly and pretend to pay attention. Some us learn how to lead a group, of course. But no one ever shows us how to behave as a full participant in any group situation in which there is no apparent leader or commander.

The thing about the speaker/audience (commander/troops, teacher/students) format for groups is that there really is only one participant, the speaker. Even at a concert, it is the musicians who channel most of the energy. Within the audience, there is applause, cheering, whistling, even singing along, jumping up and dancing around, but audience behavior never touches the energy that gathers on stage, except maybe at death metal concerts in the mosh pit.

What we know about group behavior comes from the dynamics of our families of origin, which accounts for why poorly facilitated gatherings and meetings of all kinds, no matter the purpose, tend to go very wrong. With no other model to rely on, when we aren't clear about who is in charge, we lapse into family of origin dynamics. Things go downhill from there, of course. Family dynamics are reflected in clubs, cliques and gangs of all kinds. If we knew we were role playing, we could learn so much. Alas.

I learned a lot about group behavior during my years with Reclaiming because allegedly we were non hierarchical and also allegedly used consensus in every group situation except public rituals. Consensus process is not a great way to make decisions. What it is, however, is creative. In Reclaiming meetings I witnessed every kind of acting out, also every kind of good behavior and always, bewilderment. We were dancing on completely unfamiliar territory. The energy in those meetings was unruly, but powerful. Sometimes it was fun, sometimes: frustrating as hell.

What I learned from the maddening years of Reclaiming meetings I endured is that, when given free rein, group behavior becomes a play, a sacred or not so sacred drama, a saga. The longer the meetings dragged on, the more developed the characters became, sort of like what happens in a TV show over time. 

The crazy behavior that takes place within families of origin is itself an epic myth cycle, as anyone who has ever been in psychotherapy can tell you. Every examined childhood memory reveals the role play that is part of every family. Who is the good child? The ornery one? The smartest? The black sheep? What about the parents - are they a unified team, the god and goddess of the myth cycle? Or are they pitted against one another, like God vs. the Devil? Every role that gets enacted is necessary in order to tell the family saga. Some roles are more fun to play than others, but all are a part of the drama.

I've been curious about how the group dynamics played themselves out during the Occupy movement. I read various complaints about the movement based on the fact that there was no central message and no group leader. I thought it was a fabulous moment of group dynamic evolution, though I'm guessing that it must have been confusing for those taking part. Did some people revert to the roles they played when growing up? I'd be willing to bet money some did.

In my family of origin, also during my years with Reclaiming, my role was to sit in the group until I couldn't stand it any longer, then lose my temper and stomp out of the room. That bit might sound "negative" (I never know what that means). But the truth is, my role served a beneficial purpose. Stomping out of the room in a huff inevitably broke up the stuck energy, enabling progress in the unfolding of the work at hand. 

If I were a member of Congress, right about now I would slam my fist on the lectern, snort with outrage and march out of the Capitol, slamming the door behind me. Maybe then the Fiscal Cliff negotiations could move forward.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. The point of this post (glad to finally get to it!) is that during my trip to Kansas City next week I'm playing a very different role than I ever did in my family, or Reclaiming for that matter. I am coming into the drama, I am taking a central role in the saga, I am co-facilitating the unveiling of my mother's grave stone, which places me in the galactic center of this epic moment in the history of my family. 

I will be playing against type next week. It's a monumental rite of passage. I can't wait.

Shalom and happy Thursday. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Wonderful star!


It's dawning on me that while in Kansas City, I will be engaged on many levels. First and foremost, I will be submerged in the complicated energies, memories and emotions that are bound to be a part of the unveiling ceremony. In addition, I'll be connecting with many friends from many eras of my life, as well as spending lots of time with my beloved sister. This trip is going to be big. Really big. Epic, mythic.

I'm an introvert, and (as my mother used to say) "too sensitive." If I don't at least try to manage all that energy, my antennae will jam, I'll be knocked for a loop. I'll be rendered unable to function. I don't want that! I really want to rise to the occasion. 

Within the galaxy of every complicated situation, there is a focal point, a pole star that - if located - can provide a point of stability, a steady place from which to survey whatever it is that's happening. I think of ballet dancers, of ice skaters who can spin around forever without getting dizzy. They know something I need to learn - asap, please.

Hence, I googled "pole star worship." Number 3 on the Google list was a post I wrote in 2009. How funny! Here is a link to the post. Apparently this idea has been floating around in the moldering depths of my brain for a number of years. I'm slow, but eventually I get around to these things.

Thanks to the nice algorithms of Google, I was able to read about ancient mariners who, in their own way, engaged in pole star worship. I also read about the practice in Taoism, as part of Japanese ancestor worship, in shamanic traditions, and in Hinduism. I love the following, taken from a book of "cradle tales" for Hindus. 

For the fact that seems most deeply to have impressed the Hindu mind was not the appearance of the starry dome so much as the perfect steadiness in it of the Polar Star. Wonderful star! The only point in all the heavens that stayed unmoved, while round it came and went the busy worlds. And this stillness moreover must have characterized it from the very beginning of things. It was never for the Pole Star to learn its quietude. It came by no degrees to its proper place. Rather has it been faithful and at rest since the very birth of time. Surely in all the world of men there could be nothing like this unswerving, unerring from beginning to end, the witness of movement, itself immutable. 

I love the starry dome because I love the big picture. I believe a broad understanding of anything comes via the big picture. I think the long view is most true. OK. Fine. My mistake is to think of myself as a big picture person. The big picture is way too big for me to take in all at once. I need to be anchored, a witness of movement rather than the overwhelmed shaman who is trying to dance with every part of the movement all at once. I am holistic, yes, but the big picture knocks me to the floor, time and again.

Hence I must learn to navigate the big picture by way of its pole star, whatever that is. Just as I was wondering about it yesterday, I came across this story from the New York Times, about how important it is to keep one's eyes on the ball. Yes! This is what I'm talking about.

In Kansas City, I must keep my eye on the pole star. I really want to. I wonder if I will be able to do it. Ya think?

The inside of a gigantic topaz at the Natural History Museum. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A few happy updates, that's all.

Psssst! Hey, gods of the early winter storms, take note: It would be so nice to get a regular winter storm including rain and some wind to knock down the remaining leaves. Yes? C'mon.

The stalker stayed away yesterday, I'm happy to report, hence my clients' sessions went smoothly, without rude interruptions. It has to be unnerving to lie on a treatment table, undressed, vulnerable, while someone bangs relentlessly on the door just a few feet away. Good lord. One of yesterday's clients recently lost her son to cancer. A second client has been in excruciating pain because of a bulging disc. These people really needed an hour of peace on the table. I, too, enjoyed a peaceful, productive day. I had no reason to call the police (who are, may I say, so sweet, encouraging and protective towards to little old ladies like me), and was able to sleep soundly last night. Yes. Thank god!

This morning is misty, moisty and foggy, a weather situation that results a cinematic landscape. Everything looks soft, both silvery and gold. Beautiful. I'll get out in a awhile, take some pictures before my first client arrives.

The stone for my mother's grave was laid yesterday. OK. Wow. I was curious about the process, how the stone is laid but am fine that it's in the ground. It's a feeling of relief, knowing it's there at last. And of course, I found a how-to video on youtube. That mystery of how stones are laid is solved. Now I'm on to researching the unveiling ritual, something I knew nothing about until last night. It's the unveiling ritual that my sister and I will enact when I'm there.

All of my nearests and dearests will be around the weekend I'm in KC. It will be a wonderful reunion. I can't remember the last time I so looked forward to a trip out of town.

Life is good, and I am grateful. Shalom.

Dried out, but still trying.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What constitutes crazy?

More like a whisper than a cloud.

What is crazy? I've been thinking about it a lot.

Am I crazy? I'm a shaman, I have spirit guides and animal guides and past lives. I talk to the cloud people, the gods of weather and ghosts, of course, all the time. I listen to the Voice in the Shower, take shamanic journeys to the upper and lower worlds, etc. You might think I'm crazy, but I'm not. At least I'm not according to a therapist I saw for many years in San Francisco.

When I first admitted to my mystical tendencies, she asked me these questions: Do your spirit guides command you? The answer: no. They make suggestions, but it's never as if I must obey them. In fact, I often ignore the advice. I am forever skeptical.

She asked if they ever suggested destructive acts. Never. They suggest kindness, compassion, and good humor. They encourage artful expression of what comes to me, nothing more.

She asked if I could differentiate between my guides and living humans. Of course I can! Good lord.

She asked if I thought others should share my version of reality. Hell no. No one has to see the world as I do. That would be silly.

At that point, she pronounced me sane. And even though I was depressed and weird during the years I practiced magic, I never got lost in the magic, though during that time I was swamped by sadness and old psychic wounds. All that is behind me now, but I continue to ask myself the questions my therapist posed, to make sure. I am not interested in going off the deep end.

I was thinking about it last night as the stalker aggressively banged on my front door. I'm assembling the creepy notes and letters she has left for me, as well as the numerous, equally creepy texts. I'll need these things to petition for an order of protection. I also have on hand the many texts I've sent her, stating clearly that we have no relationship, that I don't want a relationship with her, that she is unwelcome and that I will call the police if she persists.

Last night while she was pounding on the front door, as I dialed 911 I thought, "She thinks I'm going to answer the door. She thinks I'll be happy to see her."

Now that is crazy.

She departed before the police arrived, but it's important to call them, for the record. It's necessary in order to get the protection order. What a bizarre episode. I'm not the first, nor will I be the last, to be stalked by a deranged person. She is very disturbed.

May she turn away from me forever and find a way back to clarity. May it be so.

Setting up for the inauguration.