Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ode to my Iron

When I feel scattered, one of my favorite remedies is a combination of ironing clothes while listening to Bach. I think there have been studies of baroque music that "prove" it helps re-order the neural network. I might be making that up. However, it works for me. The precision of the notes and rhythms, the beauty of the melodies, always helps me come back into a place of relative balance. I love Mozart, too.

And yes, I love ironing. I don't expect many people to understand this. Watching the wrinkles disappear is pleasing. I like the sound of the steam, too. That shhhhhhh sound is soothing. It's not rocket science, doesn't require a monumental effort, though it's important to pay attention. It's a simple discipline, time honored. Afterwards, my linen shirts look like a million dollars.

For many years I had an iron I found on the street. It worked perfectly well or so I thought. But after I had to replace all my clothing last summer, I bought a new iron, a ritual offering to honor my brand new clothes. My iron isn't the fanciest, nor the nicest, but OH, what a difference! The new iron is a dream compared to the junk iron I used for so long. I love my iron!

There are a lot of people out there who no longer attend to household chores. Someone else cleans their houses, someone else cooks their meals, takes care of their kids, walks their dogs, does their gardening and ironing, too. I know folks are busy, but I think it's a shame. Tending to simple tasks is an excellent discipline and brings a lovely, personal energy into the home, also into the heart of the person doing the chores. Tending is a way of expressing gratitude for all the wonders and blessings of life.

In every fairy tale, the heroine is the one who does the housework. A mean stepmother makes her cook, clean and tend the fire while her sisters are couch potatoes and may I say, not very nice people. Sitting on the couch all day does not make these stepsisters any nicer. At the end of these tales, the heroine is - of course - much more competent than her sisters. She becomes strong and beautiful through the work, and it is she who ends up with the handsome prince.

Even those with ridiculously busy lives should carve out time to do something - cook a meal every now and then, or clean the bathroom, sweep the floor. I swear we as a society would be calmer if everyone picked up their own dirty socks, dusted the living room, polished the silver. Household chores are a meditation - or - they can be.

Getting ready for Indianapolis has me somewhat scattered, I'll admit. This morning, I decided to listen to Glenn Gould's Bach variations while ironing. It was a lot of fun. I even ironed my cloth napkins. I was really getting into it. Now my head feels clearer, free of wrinkles. This is a good thing.

Laugh at me if you want, I don't mind. Tell me there's a better way to spend a hot summer morning.

I love my iron.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Memorial Day is done and I am back in the land of the living. It seems just right that I'm heading out, this weekend, to (of all places) Indianapolis. I'm going to attend the wedding of a friend who has seen her share of romantic ups and downs. At last she will marry the love of her life. It's a very romantic story.

It's a Catholic wedding which will be very interesting for me at least. Most of the weddings I've attended - including the weddings at which I've officiated and my own wedding - have been modern affairs designed around the preferences of the bride and groom. A Catholic wedding doesn't allow for the personalities of the couple. It is what it is. I love tradition as much as improvisation. My guess is that I'll learn a lot from attending. Fun!

I look forward to the wedding itself, to staying in a venerable hotel (though renovated and now described as a boutique hotel - interesting term), and to seeing a friend who is also coming in for the wedding, someone who moved to Texas last year. It will be good to catch up with my friend, to meet family and friends of the bride, to wander around downtown Indianapolis and - you know - take pictures.

A change of venue is refreshing and getting out of DC during the summer is crucial.

Today I'll run errands and get organized for the trip. Tomorrow I'll spend with a good friend who's visiting from Cleveland. And then I'll be outta here for a couple of days.

I love my buddies, the soldier ghosts, and I honor the living veterans of all the wars.

Good to realize how much better I've gotten about honoring the life-enhancing rites of those of us still embodied. Cheers!

Monday, May 27, 2013


In the Reyaverse, reincarnation involves sets of similar lifetimes, meant to help us work through various issues. By "us" I mean, the soul. One lifetime spent in a particular pursuit isn't enough to really get the wisdom at a soul level. Human life is brief, while the life of the soul is infinite.

I remember (or believe I remember) a long series of lives as a foot soldier. These lives took place a long time ago, way before warfare and weapons were sophisticated, long before battles were precisely planned or strategic. Being a soldier - such as I was, at the bottom of the warrior hierarchy - had to do only with the survival instinct of the clan or tribal soul. I can't remember thinking about what was right or wrong, or which side should win. I don't even think I was afraid. I remember the shuffling of feet and the silence before the fighting began. I remember doing as I was told while dust swirled. I remember chaos and shouting. I remember: swing something heavy, swing something heavy, die - at the hand of someone much more skilled than I. Not my proudest past lifetime moments.

It happened time and again. I believe at some point my soul decided to move on to something else. Thank you, God!

The above is not a great picture. It's the Women in Vietnam memorial on the National Mall. I couldn't force myself to go to the wall yesterday, but I did spend some time with this statue. That woman, holding the dying soldier? It strikes a chord.

I am currently engaged in a series of reincarnations as a healer. I remember several lives in which I served as a military nurse. I remember particularly the Civil War and WWI. What that woman in the sculpture is doing, I did that a lot. Soothing, wiping the brow, cleaning the wounds, holding a cup of nasty water so they could drink. I remember the smell, heat and/or cold. It was never comfortable.

I remember closing the eyes when the soldiers died, pulling a sheet over the face and moving on to someone still suffering. The soldiers died miserable deaths in both wars, as often from infection and the flu as from their grisly wounds. What I remember from those lives is feeling helpless and resigned. I was no Walt Whitman, believe me! I remember going through the motions without hope that anything could bring the guys back to good health. And they were so young. So young!

In my current incarnation, it took until mid-life to remember my calling as healer. I resisted it as best I could. The story I tell myself is that I couldn't do it again, or so I thought. I just couldn't. I hated being a military nurse. Did it build character? You tell me.

It was remarkable to take back the role of healer so late in this life. It was a soul retrieval to be sure. In this life I don't tend to ailing soldiers very often, thank god! - though I have on occasion since living in DC, such as when a group of us worked at Walter Reed at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I couldn't continue doing that work, though, because I became fiercely ill the day after, every time. Finally, I stopped. I do work on members of the military, but rarely is it someone who has seen action. When I do work with these guys, it's harrowing. Still!

Today I remember with love those who engage in war: the brave, the smart, and the not so smart. (I remember what that's like.)

May your souls rest in peace, all you heroes and all of you who could never be heroes. Rest easy now, ok? Please?


Saturday, May 25, 2013

I love a man in uniform

Yarrow can be used medicinally to stop the flow of blood from wounds. It always blooms in DC right around Memorial Day. 

I have one tattoo: it's the word Shalom, which means peace. It's a very particular kind of peace, a lasting peace in which everyone is cared for, the hungry are fed, the ill are healed. Shalom is not a ceasefire. It's a word that describes the deepest and most profound ideas of peace. I long for this kind of peace from the bottom of my heart.

That said, I have an intimate relationship with the military. I know living members of the army, navy, air force, coast guard, and national guard. I know many marines, in part because their DC barracks is about 5 blocks from the chateau. Some of these people are clients, some are neighbors, some are friends.

Though the decision to serve is not something I understand - and am incapable of personally - I admire these people tremendously for their courage and valor, for their willingness to adhere to a very strict and restrictive culture and environment in order to perhaps put themselves in situations in which they might be killed, or forced to kill others. I honestly can not imagine a military life. The soldiers I know are very brave, moreso than I can imagine.

Likewise, I have a very intimate relationship with dead soldiers. To be scrupulously honest, I am forced to admit I made friends with the ghosts before becoming acquainted with living troops.

Washington DC is one of the most haunted cities of my experience, not that I've been to that many cities, should say. A rather hefty percentage of DC ghosts are the dead soldiers. They are everywhere.

I have a lot of theories about why there are so many. Some theories revolve around the obvious: Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon are within the original diamond of the District, though are now officially part the Commonwealth. I also think that the monuments dedicated to various wars and conflicts draw the ghosts here. I think they're seeking healing, perhaps release. It seems natural that they would gather at the places where they're honored, queued up or just standing around wishing they could still smoke cigarettes as they did before they were killed. The dead soldiers here are always waiting for something to happen.

I honor living and dead soldiers every day of the year, also on Memorial Day weekend, of course. I look forward to walking around Arlington Cemetery tomorrow afternoon. I will pay my respects and listen to the ghosts' stories.

One of the ancient Chinese terra cotta warriors (they visited National Geographic a few years ago) whispered to me, Battle is a confluence of two mighty rivers. There is chaos and destruction! (Yes it's true - I even have intimate relationships with ensouled sculptures of soldiers. My soul connection to the military runs very deep.)

My interpretation of what the terra cotta warrior said is that fighting, warring, is a perhaps unfortunate but inescapable part of nature. We are part of nature, after all, not separate from it, as some people believe. The energy that makes the confluence of mighty rivers chaotic and destructive resides in our human hearts, along with all the other stuff that makes us human. As we enact the sacred dramas of our lives, we must dance every piece of our human nature.

I guess.

I wonder if its possible that we could take in this truth, work with it instead of always denying it, blaming it on the bad guys, I wonder if that would help us alter our approach to wars and warring. Maybe if we accepted ourselves as violent and territorial (as well as artful, loving and good), we would ramp down our love of big, destructive weapons, devise ways to work out this part of our natures without laying waste to landscapes, innocent bystanders and ourselves. We do some of this through sports and games, but it doesn't seem to be enough.

With love and respect - and confusion, too, because I can't imagine it - I honor all who ever were crazy or brave enough to pick up a weapon and walk onto a battlefield. I really do.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Life is sweet

What is life? One way to describe it is as a sacred drama, soulfully enacted. There are many costume changes in life, and the set changes are relentless, too. Think of the number of actors it would take to portray a person moving through the entire story of the sacred drama of life. Wow. Or should I say whoa?

In the first half, we become fully invested in physical form by growing and maturing, then acquiring, partnering, having kids, pets, homes, cars and other stuff.

The second half of life is about letting go, a sacred drama indeed, and not what most people are best at. We are shapers of the world, we have opposable thumbs. We are relentlessly creative, always coming up with ideas about other ways to shape and hold the world in our fantastically dextrous hands. Also we are a working species, like bees or dogs. If we aren't what we think is productive, we are unhappy.

When the time comes to begin the unravelling of the fiefdoms of family, job and possessions, some people resist the inevitable. We're so good at gripping, it hardly seems fair that a time will come when release is the only rational option. In U.S. culture we are encouraged to hang on even tighter, to deny the second half of life. It's quite weird.

I've been observing my fellow boomers, myself too, as we enter early old age. The let-it-all-hang-out generation is struggling more than we might have imagined, at letting go.

I have somewhat of an easier task ahead than those who have been what we consider successful. I'm talking about the people who have stature and money and own property, you know. They worked so hard to attain these things. Maybe they really love the fruits of their success dearly and do not wish to relinquish them. It does seem a bit unfair that they have to, but they surely do. Resistance is futile.

I'm looking out my window right now at the almost unbelievable lushness of early summer in DC. The leaves couldn't be fuller or greener, gardens are jungles full of exotic flowers. The midatlantic landscape in late May is ripe in every way imaginable.

Once the heat of summer sets in, the more fragile blooming plants will shut down for the summer. The roses will bloom, but their flowers will be tougher. By August, summer will have worn itself out and then fall will arrive at which time the green world here will gladly, eagerly, let go of the detritus of seasonal youth. I admire the grace of the green world, the easy-come, easy-go attitude.

When a neighborhood tree dies and must be cut down we humans grieve. The people freak out (we love our trees so much). But when I check in with the spirits of these trees, they seem absolutely fine about it. They've always been a part of this earth, and will continue to be here, in some form or another, until Brother Sun explodes. Trees will persevere, while our complicated, over populated species will become extinct at some point. Maybe that's why we panic at the thought of letting go. Maybe it's instinctual.

All my life I was very nonchalant about this incarnation. As a youth I was downright flippant about being alive. I complained a lot and felt put upon by the enormity of my karma. Awww ... poor little Reya.

I'm sixty now. I'm no longer flippant. Life is precious, it surely is. Externally I've never been what would be considered successful, hence there's almost nothing to let go of, but I've been very successful internally. It's that arena that will be hard to ditch, when the time comes.

Meanwhile my body ages. It's aging so quickly these days. It could be alarming, but I will try to be graceful as I enact the last decades of the sacred drama of this lifetime. I'll look to the trees to show me the way, like many before me. I'll gaze at the stars whenever I can, to seek inspiration. I'll try! Wish me luck.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

A change in the weather

A cold front will be moving through DC tonight and tomorrow, breaking the spell of early summer soft air, soft sunshine, butterflies and roses. I'm good with that, of course. We never want for heat in DC. Before long I'll be issuing rancorous complaints about summer weather. I am so predictable.

Another thing I'm looking forward to is tomorrow's full moon/eclipse. Once we squeeze through that tight astrological spot, we won't have to contend with the Taurus/Scorpio eclipse gradient for another six months. Thank you, God! I love intensity, but enough is enough.

Happy Thursday, onwards and upwards. Shalom.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sultry, ain't it?

If I had half a brain I would close the windows and turn on the A/C. I had it running today while I worked because it's so unbelievably humid outside, if I hadn't, my clients would have stuck to the sheets.

When my work day was over, I opened the windows and welcomed in the soft, warm air. I'm always like this at the beginning of summer. I think - oh, this humidity is so charming, it's so southern, it's so sweet! By July I will be over this fantasy, of course.

Tonight, the windows are open and I'm glowing, as they say in the south. One thing I missed every summer in San Francisco was weather hot enough to make me sweat. It is cleansing - it really is.

The air tonight is not too hot at all - maybe about 80 F. It's thick with a bit too much oxygen, perhaps, but we're not into the Code Orange and Code Red days yet, so it is breathable - rather like standing in a steam room for awhile.

I'm enjoying it. At the first blush of summer, some steam is a good thing: good for the health. After a cold, dry winter, the bronchial tubes need some moistening. Also the humidity tamps down the pollen, always a lovely thing for me in the midst of grass pollination season.

A storm system will pass through on Friday, they say, bringing temps back down into the 60s F. I'm all for it. Though I enjoy the first blush of summer, it gets old fast, especially when urban pollution becomes mired in the humid air of DC. In summer, the Death Star (as my friend calls this beautiful, powerful, wounded city) is utterly toxic. It's unbearable!

I will be getting out a few times this summer, for short bouts to the midwest, W. Virginia, and best of all, the finger lakes in upstate New York. I will prevail.

I welcome summer this year, as I always do, before I remember what summer here really means. My memory is like a sieve. Ignorance is bliss.

Welcome summer! Shalom.

Monday, May 20, 2013

After the fall

One of the things the shaman said to me on Saturday, almost as soon as we met, was, Well. You had no choice but to be a healer.

No choice, eh? That's interesting.

OK. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I guess!

Since he landed, I've been sending Reiki to Commander Hadfield around the clock, almost. Being up on the space station for such a long time, while a lot of work, was a bender to end all benders. He LOVED being weightless and became higher and more out there the longer he was on board. I've watched all his videos now. The ones he made early on are very different in flavor from those he made during his last month on board. By the time he recorded Space Oddity he was three sheets to the solar wind. He was high on so many levels.

The return to earth was hard. The Soyuz capsule is horrible! He said the "landing" felt like being in a car crash - exactly what they expected. Prior to the crash, he and the other two astronauts spent three horrible hours jammed into that tiny capsule, enduring maximum G force after being weightless for months. In what reality is it OK to bring humans back to earth that way? Oh I miss the space shuttle!

Commander Hadfield is an astronaut, so he'll be as upbeat as possible. That is how they roll, those guys, but he must surely be depressed, struggling as he is to regain balance, breath and the ability to maneuver on land.

I'm sending him Reiki and sending a prayer that he will take some time away from the endless PT and medical tests to sit outside, gaze at the sky and breathe, remember, let the energy settle. If he had a good cry, that would be excellent for his health. Hangovers of all kinds are awful. I really feel for him.

Choice or no choice about my role as healer, I've tried but seem unable to send Reiki to Angelina Jolie. This morning I was thinking about lovingkindness meditation, how we were instructed not to force it. If it's a struggle to send lovingkindness to an individual or group of individuals, we're supposed to shift the focus to someone else.

I'm so sad for Angelina. This morning it came to me that she will age very quickly now, especially if she has her ovaries removed. She was such an exotic flower, an unfolding beauty that was almost not of this earth. Now she will fade and shrivel. I'm not cursing her, it's what I "saw" as I was allegedly meditating. My heart goes out to her.

In many ways, her situation and that of Commander Hadfield are parallel - two people who flew higher than most of us ever will, and are now back on earth, trying to recalibrate and move forward. It's easy to send Reiki to the Commander, but every effort to send it to Angelina is like slogging through a vat of Jello. It's exhausting. Finally I decided not to even try.

I want to be universally compassionate, since I have no choice but to be a healer, or so the shaman said. But I'm not universally compassionate. I'm really not.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I have a dream

I saw a REAL shaman yesterday.

What is real? I ask that question constantly, yet even I draw a line between real and unreal. Of course where reality ends in my perception is somewhat off the norm.

An understatement.

A friend questioned me about the difference between a real shaman and a not real shaman, forcing me to admit that I'm unqualified to be a judge of that. Here's what I can say about the visit - she worked with my energy body and shifted things significantly. I felt it as it was happening and on a long wander home from the session, but even better the work came up in my dreams last night. The shaman herself was in the dreams, off and on, directing the action.

The best thing is that, in the dream I was standing next to my car, keys in hand. If there is such a thing as a dream miracle, this would be it.

For at least twenty years I have dreamed hundreds, maybe even a thousand times, that I'm searching for my car. Usually these dreams take place in huge parking garages with many floors. Sometimes I'm looking through a shopping center car park, sometimes I'm on the street, trying to remember where I parked my car. It's a colossal waste of dream time, wandering around car parks, looking for a car. I hate cars and parking garages. It's a mean dream.

I've had the dream so many times that I'm often lucid enough to realize I'm having the Lost Car dream. Sometimes in these dreams I decide I have the power to transform any car I see into my car because after all it's my dream and I'm making it. But it never quite works. Sometimes when I'm lucid, I'm able to wake myself up, but I've never been able to force the dream to unfold as I would like. Not ever.

I have tried many times and in many ways to break the spell of the damn dream. Once I went into a store in a shopping center with a huge parking garage. A friend took the keys and parked my car somewhere, then came back to the store. My task was to find the car in real life, something I did in less than two minutes. I walked right to it. I thought for sure the spell was broken. Nope.

A few years later, I had a powerful dream that involved my sister also looking for her car. Someone showed us where to find the cars. I asked his name and he said, "Oh. You're not supposed to notice." At that moment in the dream, I realized he was an angel. The feeling was indescribable. Both Hannah and I found our cars, though mine was a tiny red tractor. But I was glad to have any kind of vehicle.

I thought for sure the cycle had ended because of angelic intervention, but no. I kept having the dream.

In December when I was in Kansas City to dedicate my mother's gravestone, I actually couldn't find my car in a supermarket parking lot. I went to where I was sure the car was, but it was parked elsewhere. The moment felt numinous, I thought maybe I would never have the dream again. But, I have continued to have the dream, maybe not as often.

Last night I was standing in front of my car, holding the keys. It was my old car, Neptuna. In the dream I had rented it from Zipcar. When I realized I would be returning it late, I texted the Zipcar people to let them know. I remember texting the word ACCORD. Indeed, Neptuna was a white Honda Accord. In the dream I simply texted ACCORD.

I looked up the word this morning. Every definition sounds great to me.

ac·cord  (-kôrd)
v. ac·cord·edac·cord·ingac·cords
1. To cause to conform or agree; bring into harmony.
2. To grant, especially as being due or appropriate: accorded the President the proper deference.
3. To bestow upon: I accord you my blessing.
To be in agreement, unity, or harmony. See Synonyms at agree.
1. Agreement; harmony: act in accord with university policies.
2. A settlement or compromise of conflicting opinions.
3. A settlement of points at issue between nations.
4. Spontaneous or voluntary desire to take a certain action: The children returned on their own accord. He confessed of his own accord. 

Of course I wonder now if the dream spell is broken. I'm not holding my breath, but maybe? We shall see. Whether or not the dream spell is broken, something is shifting. 

I'm sticking with my assessment that the woman I saw yesterday is a real shaman. She surely is!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The grandmothers are fighting

I could write about Angelina Jolie, but I'll leave it alone. I'm triggered because of a client who went through the same process and suffered terribly as a result. It's none of my damn business.

I'm far happier to focus my attention on Col. Hadfield, now back to earth after more than 5 months on the space station, He continues to tell his story on FB and I assume on Twitter. I am a sucker for a good teacher and he is a great teacher. I am a Col. Hadfield groupie!

He knew the price he would pay for spending all that time weightless, high above the earth where he had - without a doubt - the BEST view ever. I keep thinking about how, for him, it was well worth the pain and disorientation he's now enduring. He didn't walk into this blind. He knew it would be a fuck of a re-entry, but said yes anyway.

He says he's dizzy. Good lord, who wouldn't be! His lips and tongue feel heavy when he tries to talk. Can you imagine? I cannot, and I've been trying. My tongue feels weightless. It can wag for hours on end, till I'm hoarse and exhausted. My tongue can go all night, I tell you, as if weightless.

For sure: the higher you fly, the harder you will fall. So true! But sometimes it's well worth the crash and burn. His extreme situation is well worth contemplation especially by those who dream of, or espouse, the idea of finding balance and then staying balanced, or staying grounded. Who can do that?

My guess is we'll hear a lot more from him, about the "wonder of it" - his time in space. I look forward to that. I can't stop thinking about what he is dealing with, coming to terms with gravity and all that process entails. The brass tacks of readjusting to gravity are of great interest, of course. I'm also thinking about what it means, the metaphors. If it were a dream, what would it mean? Well, wow. The mind boggles.

How I wish I could work with him, do some Reiki, craniosacral balancing, chakra balancing and polarity work. After he comes back to himself a little bit, I would add therapeutic massage into the equation. I would send him to the Sufi acupuncturist for sure. I would get him outside so he could breathe fresh air and gaze purposely at the sky. I think it would really help him to look up to the place where he was for such a long time. He probably needs a soul retrieval, too.

I have a health plan for Col. Hadfield. Ah. None of my business, eh?

Very fun, sticking my big nose in other people's business.

The Voice in the Shower this morning said The grandmothers are fighting. I've been thinking about it all day as it's a much more obscure message than I usually receive. There's a lot going on, so much it's hard to keep up with it all. The fighting grandmothers may refer to the feeling of chaos and change that lies just under the surface of "reality" right now.

At the moment, nothing is boring. Even the grandmothers are making an unholy racket. All I can say is: wow.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Life is but a dream, y'all

I'm tempted to write about Angelina Jolie, but good lord - everyone is going to write about her. The short version of my thoughts on her decision to not only do the pre-emptive strike on her body, but also write about it for the New York Times is: it made me feel sad.

What a surreal moment in history this is. Am I the only one feeling it? Angelina, an archetype of sex, cutting off her breasts because of something in her DNA. Sad - but also weird. Who would have guessed, yesterday, that this would happen?

Similarly surreal yesterday was watching the Soyuz capsule separate from the International Space Station, then drop from the sky - like a damn rock - onto the forlorn steppe of Kazakhstan, with three astronauts inside. Good lord! I miss the space shuttle. At least they could land as if on an airplane when they came and went from space.

If you don't know about Chris Hadfield, who was the Space Station commander for five months, please google his name right away. He posted on FB and twitter throughout his time up there, made life on board the station seem real to us regular folk. I learned so many things, saw many incredible photos of earth, and was charmed by him as well. His video cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity went viral to such an extent I feel certain you've seen it. Just in case you haven't:

Even ten years ago, no one would have imagined this. No one could have. It's a beautiful cover - melancholy, unlike the original which was meant to be ironic. Col. Hadfield showed us how inspiring it would be to see the earth from up there, no matter the discomforts. Only in the Age of Aquarius could a Canadian astronaut, on a mission that has become more or less routine, have such a far-reaching impact within our society. Well ... wow!

My dream life has been off the charts this week in terms of the surreal factor, as well as the intensity and vividness of the dreams. I planted some potent seeds before the eclipse, announcing I would teach a class in shamanic healing techniques this summer. I've been working on the outline passionately; it feels like I'm channeling something - I can't stop writing and thinking about it. At night after writing and thinking about the class, I lay my head on my pillow and dream vivid, three dimensional dreams. When I wake up, it takes me a minute to separate from the dream - they are powerful, I'm telling you. I worked the eclipse and now it's working me.

More craziness: here come the Brood II cicadas! They're beginning to hatch already. I'm talking about Magicicagadas, people. They are NOT locusts and they are NOT the mournful August cicadas of summer. These guys bring a goofy, wild, joyful energy as they hatch, fly, mate and die. When Brood X rose in the early 2000s, I could not stop giggling. Jake could not stop eating them, but apparently they weren't that bad for him as he never suffered for a second in the wake of a cicada chow down.

It's one thing after another this spring.

What a crazy time. Me? I'm working, writing like a maniac about shamanic healing, dreaming powerfully. I'm walking around when the pollen isn't too bad.

All is well at the chateau. Shalom.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Spin Doctors

We humans create meaning. We can't help it. Those who are unable to discern meaning from the events and situations of their lives are thought to be depressed and put on various medications. We are intolerant of those who don't tow the line according to current standards.

Of course those who find too much meaning in the world are also thought to be unbalanced. I definitely fall more into this category than the former. I love storytelling, i.e. the creative act of attaching meaning to the world, the creative act of the narrative. Oh yeah.

The following is from this Scientific American article about our inclination to tell a good story.

Our minds form cohesive narratives out of disparate elements all the time: one of the things we are best at is telling ourselves just so stories about our own behavior and that of others. If we’re not sure, we make it up – or rather, our brain does, without so much as thinking about asking our permission to do so.

The graphics that go along with the article are quite wonderful, though I think our stories about a strict left brain/right brain division have been revised since this was published. Also, I dislike the way we love to imagine that the brain is separate from the body. I assure you, it is tissue and fluid and blood - and it IS a part of the body. To what or whom would the brain ask permission?

The creation of stories is ongoing, including in the sciences and especially in history. I love revisionist history. It reveals much about the wavelength of cultural thought at this moment in time, maybe not as much about factual history. History always explains the viewpoint of the historian, always.

As a shaman, it's my duty to decide what experiences deserve my meaning-making, storytelling attention. I could assign meaning to every damn thing if I wanted to. I really could. However, if I went down that sketchy path, I would never have time to work on my clients, get the laundry done or while away the hours on Facebook. No. What one of my great teachers said over and over is that mastery in the art of shamanism has to do with discernment. What merits attention? It's a central question, along with, What resonates?

I had a weird day today. There's a cold front moving through DC, bringing unsettled energy, bouts of rain, bouts of clear sky, moody looking clouds, a cool breeze, but also lots of humidity - a harbinger of summer in the swamp. The weather is confused and the day has been confusing. For instance, I temporarily lost my keys. Please understand I am a hyper vigilant about my keys. I never lose my keys - except I did today. But I found them, hence decided that episode is probably not worth focusing on.

But the bird fight - that, I'm thinking about.

Coming home from Eastern Market, I heard terrible bird shrieks and scuffling feathers. Just inside the gate of the chateau, two mockingbirds were going at it like nobody's business. It was a brutal fight to the death.

Little dinosaurs.

Several times I yelled NO FIGHTING! I was within a foot of them, but they paid no attention. I was afraid they were going to kill each other. I leaned down, put my face within a few inches of them and yelled KNOCK IT OFF!! as loudly as I could. Suddenly they noticed, and both flew away, apparently unhurt. It was so weird.

A little while later I heard the saddest, most poignant birdsong, unlike anything I've heard before. I went out to see what was going on. Below is a picture of the bird who was singing the saddest aria ever from his or her perch on the flagpole next door. Of course my mind turned immediately to wondering if this was one of the birds who had fought by the gate.

About what were they fighting? And why the long face on this mock? Usually they're so haughty.

The birds have their own story, of course. But I witnessed the fight, hence the bird fight as well as the sad song is a metaphor of something. My official decision: this merits attention. I'll be thinking about it for awhile. May whatever story I spin help me become wiser, kinder, and more compassionate.

What a weird day!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Post Eclipse

It just so happened that I had the day off yesterday. I cleaned house, one of my favorite things, went to Whole Foods, another of my favorite things, took a very long walk - another favorite thing - and finished the outline for a course on shamanic healing techniques I might teach this summer. It's always good to organize my thoughts, whether or not it comes to pass. I posted the outline on the Chateau Seven blog.

According to the astrologers whose opinions I value (including my own), this was the perfect way to dance with the eclipse energy. By behaving as I did, I set my intentions going forward to take care of business but also to enjoy myself.

Enjoyment is, for some reason, underrated earlier in life. But from 60 onwards, at least for me, it seems much more crucial.

Today, the first day of the rest of my life, I'll take a shorter walk, then see clients this afternoon. This, too, is exactly the shamanic dance of best intentions. I'm pleased that things worked out this way. They don't always, do they? I feel blessed by this eclipse. I hope the feeling lingers.

Pennies in the fountain at the American Indian Museum.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hang Ten, because the eclipse is here. Wheeeee

Tomorrow, somewhere over Borneo I think, there will be a "ring of fire" annular eclipse. Astronomers are buzzing about it, of course, but so are we astrologers. Every astrologer has an opinion about celestial events as dramatic as this.

Astrology is the poetry and philosophy of astronomy, every bit as true (whatever that means) but not mechanical or dry. We use the same calculations astronomers use, but instead of thinking in terms of data, we open our hearts. We hope to discern meaning from these configurations. It's complicated. Also, just as with any art, interpretation varies according to the practitioner.

I love reading what other astrologers have to say, whether or not their interpretations resonate. I like astronomy too, the precise way that the tunnel vision of science can nail down the details of these dramatic configurations.

Until recently, there was no differentiation between the two facets of the study of the sky. I think both astrology and astronomy have suffered as a result of the split. It's a darn shame.

I'm thinking about it because I'm doing a pretty decent job, so far, riding the energy of tomorrow's eclipse. Today I met an old friend for lunch. He is someone I've known since the early 80s. He and I have been through a lot together. We're very different people, but our friendship persists even with much water under the bridge and after all this time. I feel smart when I'm around this friend, always have. He's brilliant on many levels, also provocative. I love him. That he happened to be in DC on the eve of the eclipse can be filed under You-can't-make-this-stuff-up. It seems auspicious to me.

After that I met with someone who's encountering many health issues. I'm going to join his team of doctors and shamans. It's exciting because I haven't been part of a healing team for awhile, especially a healing team of such high caliber. It's an honor and will call upon me to be my best. This, too, feels significant.

This eclipse cycle is demanding of me that I stand tall, stay grounded and clear headed - and - enjoy. I can't imagine anything better.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Lip service

Yes, that's pollen.

I love that scene in Annie Hall with the subtitles. How adorable are the young Woody, dressed in white and the young Diane in her iconic tie and baggy pants, flirting, sussing each other out? It's a sweet scene.

I've been thinking about it lately, the disconnect between what people think and what comes out of their mouths. Is that poetry? I guess it can be, as it is in the scene from Annie Hall.

Often, though, the mouth opens, the vocal chords leap into action, words come out, but the words are empty, mean, or do more to obscure than further true communication.

Yeah, I'm still fussing over what that guy said on Facebook about my neighborhood. Perhaps I should have responded to his ignorance - maybe if I had I wouldn't still be thinking about it. Maybe.

I take umbrage when anyone disses my 'hood. I rail against those who assume that every citizen of the District is involved in the shenanigans ongoing down the street within the Capitol. So there's that, but too I get worked up when people entrench themselves, at all costs, in whatever position they've taken.

It's not fair to point the finger at that ignorant guy on Facebook. I do it, too. In spite of how precious curiosity and openness are to me, I remember only too vividly how many times I've rejected an idea only because thinking about it would take energy or perhaps because considering a different point of view might make me uncomfortable. I try not to become entrenched, but it happens.

However I'm resolved to let go of that one silly incident, and instead to pay more attention to what comes out of my mouth (the only mouth I can control, after all). I'm trying to speak mindfully these days, to consider what I hope to accomplish by speaking, what I truly wish to convey before talking.

It's really hard!

One of my favorite affirmations is, I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I intend to take that practice to a deeper level. Wish me luck.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Last Word

Quarrel, quibble, argue, bicker - in English we have many words to describe what happens when we disagree.

Why do we do it? To what end do we get red faced and angry, for what benefit do we wave our fists or shout? What do we hope to accomplish in the midst of conflict? And why do we go on and on when there's no clear path to resolution?

I've been thinking about it all day. At its foundation, every argument is a contest, a challenge. Arguments are one way we establish pecking order; they are power struggles. We're social predators, like dogs. We want to know who is alpha in every situation. We have to know, apparently because we fight all the time.

I'm not suggesting that societies with rigid customs about who is the boss of whom are preferable to all the kerfuffles we engage in here in 21st century America. Though - there is a way in which life would be a lot easier if we weren't always jousting for position.

The caste system in India is interesting. You might see a super high class Brahmin begging on the street, or a lower caste person who is rich and lives in some hideous gigantic house. The pecking order in Hinduism is so complicated, even though I've studied, I've read all about it, I can not wrap my mind around it. Indians love to argue. Even the elaborate bartering and bargaining that goes on in the marketplace is an example of the ways in which they establish pecking order. It's complicated.

Ah but that's India. I live in the U.S. of A where allegedly we're all equal. Not true - never was - but we try. We practice being equal as best we can (though of course there's disagreement among us about what equality means). One of the side effects of this evolutionary behavior is a tendency to altercate, sometimes about anything.

We think we are so sophisticated, but I maintain, as always, that most of our behavior is instinctual. It's the stories we attach to our behavior that are sophisticated, not the behavior itself.

I'm thinking about it today because of an exchange on Facebook. One of my friends posted about how sad it is that kids no longer play in the streets (he had been looking at old pics of San Francisco). One of his friends chimed in about how community dies when there is no exchange among neighbors.

I went on a little bit about Capitol Hill.

Me: Come to Capitol Hill. Kids play - not in the streets because they would be run over - but on the sidewalks and in the small front yards. When I moved here I couldn't believe it - neighbors hanging out with cups of coffee or glasses of wine on the front porches, catching up on gossip, kids growing up like brothers and sisters with their neighbors. Honestly I am not exaggerating. Come to Capitol Hill. I'll show you a living, breathing community. 
Friend of Friend: Capitol Hill, D.C.? Power Center of the World Imperium? Inventor of the Inside-the-Beltway Syndrome? No, thank you. Kids play in the street and run from back yard to back yard in the corner of Omaha, Nebraska, where I live, as they did in the corner of suburban Denver where my daughter grew up, and the parents’ heads, in both those places, are not addled by grand political madness. 
Me: C'mon and visit. You'll be surprised. 
FoF: Been there, done that, Reya. And you’ve seen my reaction above. It’s charming enough on the surface, but that’s like the charm of the kept rabbits in *Watership Down*.

At that point I was tempted to continue, if for no other reason than his argument was embarrassingly empty. The kept rabbits in Watership Down? Good lord. But I also wanted to prevail. Of course I did! I'm a normal human being living in a society where I'm allowed to express my opinion.

He insulted me (threw down the gauntlet) by saying he knows more about DC than I do, though he lives in Nebraska. He also insulted my dear friends and neighbors, maintaining that their minds are "addled by grand political madness." Nothing could be further from the truth.

He made clear that his mind was closed to the idea that real community could exist on Capitol Hill. He called me a liar. I wonder if he realized that.

I could have responded with outrage, i.e. Oh, so you know more about DC than I do? I've lived here 14 years! Or I could have been holier than thou, i.e. I'm sad your mind is closed to a wonderful bit of information about DC. Or ...

I could have said a lot of things, but it was time to close the computer and take my shower. The Voice in the Shower, a stalwart ally always, said, Rebuttals are not always necessary.

Wonderful advice and interesting to think about. Who gets the last word in an argument, and what does it mean?

I'm not against disagreements, by the way. As a Jew, I learn from arguing. In fact they say Talmudic teachings must contain a difference of opinion or they can not be considered authentic. I believe it. There are many truths, many realities. I love mixing it up with someone of a different opinion. I love nothing better than engaging with someone, after which I change my mind about something. As long as the quarrel doesn't become personal, I find it enlivening, no matter who has the last word.

But I must choose my battles carefully. Given the above, to continue would have been, at best, a waste of time, yes? He can have the last word. It was clear (after my shower) that unless I wanted to vent my spleen, nothing interesting could come from continuing the exchange. Hence I let it go. It felt really good not to respond.

Interesting to think about!

Shabbat Shalom, y'all.