Monday, November 23, 2015

To All My Relations

As we move into the week of Thanksgiving here in the US, Clan of the Wildlings has this to say about recent tragic events and the divisiveness that they have spawned. 

To those who fear, there is a place set for you at our table should you choose to join us in peace. To those who hate, there is a place set for you at our table should you choose to join us in love. To those who are alone and hungry, there is a place set for you at our table should you choose to join us in gratitude.

So may it be. Blessed be. Aho!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On Intolerance and Peaceful Co-existence

The past few days have been agonizing for me, as they have been for everyone following the news. I tried to stay out of it, to stay off of social media, to stay silent. I failed. I cannot stay silent in a world gone mad. 

People I thought I knew have been spewing hatred and intolerance. Many are calling for more war, more bombings, closing our borders, refusing to help refugees. I simply cannot stand by and do nothing. I'm reminded of a quote from a favorite film. Sure, it's a pop culture piece of entertainment, and sure, it in itself promotes violence. But this quote states it eloquently:

"And I am reminded on this holy day of the sad story of Kitty Genovese. As you all may remember, long time ago almost 30 years ago. This poor soul cried out for help time and time again, but no person answered her calls. Though many saw, no one so much as called the police. They all just watched as Kitty was being stabbed to death in broad daylight. They watched as her assailant walked away. Now, we must all fear evil men. But, there is another kind of evil which we must fear most … and that is the indifference of good men!"

I was horrified when I learned the story of Kitty Genovese in college. I am horrified today by recent events, and by people's reactions to them. So this morning, when I ought to have been getting ready for work, this is what I wrote:

I don’t normally post about current events or politics. Recent events have made this reserve impossible. In the last few days, I have seen and read about horrific crimes against humanity in Tunisia, Beirut, and Paris. Here on FB, the response has been both compassionate and hate-filled. As an empath, this is intensely painful for me. No, it’s not about me. It’s a global problem, this use of violence to further ostensibly religious agendas. It’s not just overseas – it’s here in the USA as well. Let us not forget McVeigh and all the others like him – AMERICANS who have perpetuated terrorism.

But I will tell you this. As a medical professional, I see people of all nationalities, all faiths, all genders, and all sexual orientations EVERY DAY. Each and every day, I treat people with compassion regardless of these labels. I see it as my sacred duty to see people as human beings in need first, before any of these things. 

And guess what? We are all the same when we’re in pain. Everyone’s lower back aches the same. Everyone scrunches their shoulders up to their ears when they are stressed. Everyone looks the same when they finally let go and relax.

People often talk during massage therapy sessions. Some do it because they can’t bear silence. Others, to distract themselves from the sensations in their body. Others talk to me because no one else listens to them. And let me tell you something else. Yesterday, I treated a patient who spewed hatred for the entire hour. This person hates Muslims, gays, anybody who disagrees with their church, Democrats, women in general, terrorists, and liberals. The things this client said broke my heart and caused me to sit down and question everything I am, everything I know and everything I believe in.

A friend of mine asked me how I handled the situation and said I must have the patience of a saint. I simply let the client speak. I healed this person to the best of my ability. This patient needs healing most of all. This person says these things because of deep pain within. I don’t claim to be a saint. I tell you this story not out of self-aggrandizement, but in hopes that folks will realize the same thing that I did:

Hate only fuels more hate. Violence only fuels more violence. Divisions among humanity serve only the people who seek power. Like it or not, we are all in this together. 

It’s the 21st century, and it’s high time that we all start working together. Call me an idealist if you will. Un-friend me if this angers you, truly. 

I refuse to believe that Islam or Christianity are faiths that are fundamentally incompatible with peaceful co-existence. I refuse to believe that failures in the past mean that trying again to build tolerance and peace will fail. 

We must overcome. After all, what is the alternative? A World War in which we wipe every Muslim from the face of the Earth? A global ban on religion? More years of mass killings, until no one is left? 

No. These apocalyptic visions will not happen. We will find a way through. Humanity has a tendency to shine and find solutions at the very last moment.

I will not give up. I will not give in to fear and hatred. I will continue to resist peacefully. I will continue to speak up, speak out and to take whatever actions I can to create cultural change.

Currently, I have an idea to create a global peace accord in which we all agree to the following:
  1.  Everyone has the right to live as they wish so long as it doesn't harm others.
  2. The right of sovereignty of all nations must be respected - no more conquering others by force.
  3. Diligently work to solve problems without violence.
My idea is to write this up with a cover letter and start sending it to local churches. Since religion is used as an excuse for many of the violent acts recently committed by terrorists, mass murderers, school shooters and what have you, we should start with faith leaders. We must start in churches, and in homes, to teach our young people to respect and tolerate diversity. This is the foundation of peace. Peace doesn't just happen. Peace is more accurately termed peaceful co-existence. Peaceful co-existence can only happen when we reject the use of force and embrace our beautiful diversity as a species.

Will you take the pledge? Do you know of someone already doing this? Drop me a line or a comment!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Spiritual Goals

At the archery range 12/16/2010
The Pagan Experience - Wk 2- November 9: Spiritual Goals! What are they? Is there an expiration date? How do you set them and what is required to achieve them?

What a fascinating prompt! I don't believe that I've ever consciously set a spiritual goal. The story of my spiritual path has been a relentless desire to know, to become, and to heal. But what is it that I want to know? Everything. Curiosity is the fuel that drives my endless quest. Life is mystery, and I'm like some little spiritual bear, lumbering along, nibbling fruits, and following my nose.

That being said, I do have a secret yearning:
  • I want my very presence to fill people with peace. Just by being around me, people will experience an awakening or a healing. This wish no doubt comes to me via my studies in Yoga. Gurus and Yoga masters are like this. I hope I get there someday. My healing clients often tell me that they feel this way around me, but that's not my 24/7 state of being...yet.

Here are some things I want to accomplish. I'm not sure if they belong in this category, but they are spiritually focused:
  • Create a sacred grove. My dream is to find one with a natural spring and some old trees that would only require a bit of refinement/manicuring.
  • Create a mystery school to teach the old/new ways. I'm doing this on a small scale now in training coveners, but I want to have a comprehensive, established program with a cadre of teachers. I'm looking at you, Autumn Pulstar and Super Duper Space Witch!

Here are some things I'm working on right now:
  • Journey/trance work - do it on command, travel with a mission, get smoother at leading others.
  • Spirit work - get over my fear and get more confident. 
  • Pranayama - there is a breathing technique that raises the body temperature enough to endure any climate. Ancient yogis could melt snow off of their body.
  • Pineal gland - decalcify my pineal gland and strengthen psychic abilities.
  • Sound healing - does this belong in here? It's for my career, but it's also a deeply spiritual practice.
  • Blood mysteries - the sacred cycles of woman. This is a project I'm working on for my coven.
Huh. Well, it appears that I do have some goals! The only expiration date in all of these is the grove and the school. Obviously, I'd like to get that done ASAP and in this lifetime. All the rest...they will be completed in due time. I'm working toward all of these goals with research, study and practice. The pineal gland goal also involves diet, eating whole foods and drinking filtered water.

Like everything else in my spiritual path, I don't consciously set these goals. Case in point, I didn't even realize I had goals until I wrote this post. I just...go where the path leads.

Monday, November 9, 2015


The Pagan Experience - WK 1- November 2: What do you define as your “place in the world”? How does that inform your spiritual pursuits?

I have always been a wanderer, a gypsy, a seeker. Seeking truth, seeking meaning, seeking myself and seeking a place in the world...these things are a huge part of my spiritual path. I've written a bit about my tumultuous early life, but today, suffice it to say that one of the hardest parts of it was feeling as if I belonged anywhere. I was treated as a second class citizen, as "less than", as "other". My parents divorced, I moved to a different state, and later tragically lost our family homestead. So a home, or a place where I belong, hasn't existed for me for a long time. How long?

I wrote this poem sometime during middle school, so age 10-12:


An unused road
offering shade and sweet water 

like a dream
seen from the dry and dusty reality
visions of a home

As an adult, I have created homes for myself. Many of them. My friends in Colorado used to tease me about being a localized gypsy. Out there, I moved nearly every year. There was no practical reason why this had to be the case. I was reasonably well employed, and apartments were fairly plentiful at that time. I just...couldn't settle down. Couldn't commit. I was heavily in search mode at that time.

Along with finding a literal place where I belong, I have tried on many faces and many personas. Who am I? Earlier in my life, that answer would be different from day to day. Case in point: at one time, I had a gigantic hat collection. Have you ever considered how easy it is to change your identity through hats? It's a thing, trust me. Clothing is hugely symbolic in human culture, and hats are an integral part of that. 

Searching for identity, I have tried many a pastime, many a sport, many a hobby. I'm still not truly into middle age, and already, I have been so many things: a dancer, artist, photographer, buddhist, witch, pagan, philosopher, writer, poet, clogger, flautist, drummer, healer, belly dancer, SCAdian (that's a medieval re-creationist), fencer, archer, martial artist, teacher, hiker, businesswoman, artisan, backpacker, kayaker, climber, mountain biker, knitter, gardener, visionary, priestess and more.

Now, I can say that I have claimed my place in the world. I know who I am. I accept and honor where I have been. I'm headed in a good direction. I know that I will continue to grow, change and evolve. I will continue to explore and try new things. I will always learn. I will continue to heal. 

I am still sometimes surprised to learn that my place in the world is one of leadership. Then I remind myself that I am worthy, that I have something worthwhile to say, and that what I do matters to people.

The reasons that I had for this intensive learning and exploration were really quite simple. I had to find a way to survive and to cope with my lot in life. I attribute my fanatical drive to my history of survivorship and abuse. Helping others is my way of striking back at my abusers. I'm not interested in revenge; instead, I don't want anyone else to have to endure what I did. That's a pretty beautiful thing, in my book. Out of such deep pain, I have learned so many useful things. I have attained a pretty good level of personal peace. 

These days, people meet me and say things like "are you *always* this calm" or "how are you this peaceful all the time". That makes me think I must be doing it right. 

I am a priestess. I am a healer. I am a musician. I am an artist. I am one who walks between the worlds. Look for me in the liminal spaces. On a random Tuesday morning, you may see me in the woods. On a beautiful fall day, you may see me high on the mountain. In the summertime, you'll find me on the river, quietly paddling my boat. There is my place. This whole beautiful Earth is my home, and I can be anything I want to be. And so can you!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Samhain-tide Hiking

The Pagan Experience - Wk 4- October 26: Any writing for the letter R or a topic of your choice– I am keeping this familiar format on week 4 for those who have joined me from the Pagan Blog Project!

Last Friday, on All Hallow's Eve, I went out for a little stroll after work. It was spontaneous, a whim, a deep calling of the soul. Such days as that is not granted with so many in a lifetime. The weather was so perfect, golden and crystalline, a pause in time out of time. A gentle breeze blew off the lake, ruffling the jeweled leaves. I saw no one, spoke not a word save with my heart and breathed in all the beauty of fall.

It was warm enough to get in the water, so I did. I rolled up my pants and waded across the clay-sand, gravelled bottom through crystal clear water. With my feet grounded in Earth and Water, I offered a song on my flute to the waters, to the sky, to the sun, to the waning autumn.

Here and now, at the end of the growing season, the dying time is nigh, and the light begins to fade. Pachamama is putting on a show to teach us to blaze, blaze brightly at the night and face death in all our glory, dressed to the nines. We let go, we let go, we heal, we commune with our beloved dead and we rest.

Last Friday, it was a day to be with the forest and with the waters. A day to be silent, a day to listen without speaking. To soak in the harvest wisdom of the brilliant leaves. To sense the eternal reflected in the shell of Grandmother Turtle. These creatures have abided through the millennia, not evolving, only...perfecting. Existing.

Wabi-sabi, imperfectly perfect. Too beautiful to crop, so I put  a heart on it.
Out on the land, we must go at these seasonal changes. It's imperative to taste the air, to fill one's lungs deeply with the pure breeze. Allow your mind to grow quiet, your ego to rest. No need for individuality now, sink into the life of the forest. Observe the changes in the plant and animal life, each to their particular cycle in the endless dance of life. Now the Earth shows its beauty in a final outpouring of life as death draws near for many. The Earth and much of its life will rest, going deep within during the darkness. Do you see it? Do you feel it?

I had no recollection of the length of the hike, but stubbornly pressed on until it looped back to the parking lot, some 5 miles or more later. At one point, I walked up on some does, only a short bowshot away. Turtles were still out on logs, and wings of many kinds were on the winds. No need to look up, wing-shadows dappled from the tree trunks. I am watched over from above.

I am truly blessed.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Hearth and Home

Cob home with stone and natural timbers
The Pagan Experience Week 3- October 19: Deity and the Divine – This will be the third week’s topic every month and an opportunity for you to share with everyone those who guide, inspire and inform you. Tell us about your favorite Deity of Hearth and Home.
"Home is a place where your heart is free." - Enya

Let me tell you about my dream home. I long to live in a place of community, on a gigantic piece of land, ideally in the mountains, near a river. Together, we will create a self-sustaining haven of permaculture farming, art, music, craft, spirituality, retreat, education and celebration. I will do everything that I like to do and never have to leave the homestead except to see new places. All the homesteading skills that I learned growing up and have continued to build through the years will find their true purpose. This has been my dream for as long as I can remember.

Here are some features my home will have:
We'll have plenty of guest cabins


  • Log, Timber framed, Stone, Cob construction - depending on climate and site
  • One story preferred 
  • Partially built into hillside if site permits 
  • Central heat and air
  • Solar/hydroelectric/wind power/water heating as appropriate to site 
  • House sited to take advantage of prevailing wind, natural light, etc

Interior Features

  • Wood paneling
  • Stone, tile, wood floors
  • BIG stone fireplace – one chimney to feed two fireplaces – one in living room, one in kitchen; both have hearths big enough to sit on. Kitchen has operational spit for roasting and bread/pizza oven
  • Smart closets, storage in every room
  • Mud room/airlock to utility room with:
    • Boot dryers
    • Storage bench
    • Rack of hooks for coats and such
  • Built-in shelves
  • Built-in benches and window seats
  • Thick interior walls for soundproofing of bedrooms
  • Definitely a rocket stove and built in seating
  • Guest bedroom or additional bedrooms at other end of house from master   

Kitchen Features

  • Back side of fireplace in kitchen with:
    • Big serpentine hearth
    • Spit roasting apparatus
    • Wood fired oven
    • Swing-out hanger for pots, dutch oven, tea, etc
  • Old fashioned stove – gas + wood range
  • Air-cooled pantry
  • Convenient access to root cellar
  • Nifty compost container
  • Ceiling hooks for cast iron cookware
  • Concrete countertops? I want really tough, easy to clean natural or semi-natural materials

Bathroom Features

  •      Plenty of storage for toiletries, TP, towels
  •      Separate soaking tub
    No home is complete without flowers & kitties
  •      Big walk-in shower (big enough for two, with bench)
  •      Additional heater for wintertime (I hate being cold and wet)
  •      Make enough bathrooms, seriously. None of this one bathroom nonsense.

Exterior Features

  •      Deck/patio
  •      Screened in porch
  •      Portico
  •      Solar lighting along pathways
  •      Lots of garden space

Facilities of the Community

  • Meditation Room 
  • Indoor Temple 
  • Outdoor Temple (covered, no walls) 
    Plenty of gardens & herbs
  • Sacred Grove 
  • Large program room 
  • AV-enabled program room 
  • Commercial kitchen 
  • Cabins 
  • Art Gallery 
  • Performance space/stage


  • Educational Center 
  • Healing Center 
  • Retreat Center
  • Organic Farm 
  • Sustainable Community 
  • Artists & Writers Residencies 
  • Sacred Grove 
  • Spiral Scouts
  • Mystery School

Lots of big trees and barns

Surely we'll have at least one treehouse
And plenty of outdoor living spaces!