Upgrades are amazing and transformative. I've got a few going on in my life right now so I'm ruminating with a bit of clarity on this subject. And (in addition to being amazing and transformative) the upgrade process itself can be super messy and complicated sometimes. I'm dealing with one at the day job, for example, complete with millions of transactions and hundreds of thousands of records in an aged system that probably should have been upgraded about a decade ago. But here we are in 2019 and technology has catapulted us into what has now become a very necessary operational task. Upgrades can also an incredible opportunity to break free from the inertia around "the way things have always been" and in our case, rebuild our business practices completely. Better late than never, I say, but damn, upgrades can be messy and complicated. For. Real.
But it's cool right? Because once you finally do the upgrade and everything is high functioning, it's a very refreshing experience to realize you've now become a butterfly! Everything suddenly becomes much more "worth it" even as the costs might have been very high during the upgrade process. Money and other resources, sure, but also adrenal fatigue, stress, awkward accountability conversations and the like. The list goes on and on when you have folks involved on a project at varying abilities and interests in the self work and actualization it takes to NOT burn out, freak out and to remain accountable and committed. I'm not saying I'm done a perfect job - oh I've had my moments at the day job to be sure - but I will say that the hutzpah to remain focused on the mission and not bail (mentally, emotionally or physically) when the days are tough and the days are long is something I'm quite good at.
The truth is I like working hard and using my mind in creative ways. I like big strategic puzzles. I like collaborating and co-creating, not dictating. Especially when our whole community benefits! And - real talk - I'm grateful to be on the tail end of this actual upgrade experience, one that's literally been 18 (solid, focused) months in the making (in addition to my regular responsibilities). It's an upgrade that's super thankless and hopefully, if I've done my job well, people may even notice something smooth happening but no one will ever know that I, as an individual, had anything to do with it..... I don't mind being behind the scenes in that sense. At all. Someone once told me "you're all about ideas, philosophy and inspiration (not products, sales and marketing)..." At the time I thought it was meant to be some sort of thinly veiled insult. Only it wasn't. At all. In fact, it helped crystalize for me that I am here to serve good ideas in my community and I prefer to collaborate with others who feel called to do the same.
It's Beltane and as the seasons shift, the fire in my heart burns as strong as ever. If you're the prayin' type, say one for me and my team as we link pinkie fingers and wade through a timely and necessary upgrade. One that's for our whole community.
May it be so.
I hesitate to write too much here. I mean, don't get me wrong! I'm writing a ton, but perhaps just not here. The new tome is getting longer and longer with tales from Adept-land. Let's just say that I'm starting to see that things like this need their own timing and their own breathing room.
But to say a few words: our New Year's / re-birth Feast was utterly magnificent. Magical. Open-hearted and downright Divine. We kissed goodbye to Winter with black-eyed peas and potatoes and said Hello Spring! with living salad and fruits. We prayed. We made garlands. We built and burned a despacho. We sat around a fire and looked at the Super Full Moon. To quote my pal Monica, May Love have its way with us all....
The 2018 Vernal Equinox recap is here.
The 2017 Vernal Equinox recap is here.
The 2016 Vernal Equinox re-birth experience is here (Look for Initiation Parts One and Two).
Mmmmm and thank you to dear Cole, the Son of Dawn (his mom's name is Dawn, y'all) for this magical capture as well as the Rumi...
look at love
how it tangles
with the one fallen in love
look at spirit
how it fuses with earth
giving it new life
why are you so busy
with this or that or good or bad
pay attention to how things blend
why talk about all
the known and the unknown
see how the unknown merges into the known
why think separately
of this life and the next
when one is born from the last
look at your heart and tongue
one feels but deaf and dumb
the other speaks in words and signs
look at water and fire
earth and wind
enemies and friends all at once
the wolf and the lamb
the lion and the deer
far away yet together
look at the unity of this
spring and winter
manifested in the equinox
you too must mingle my friends
since the earth and the sky
are mingled just for you and me
be like sugarcane
sweet yet silent
don’t get mixed up with bitter words
my beloved grows right out of my own heart
how much more union can there be
May it be so.
There’s a theater device consisting of an invisible “wall” between the performers and the audience. It’s called The Fourth Wall. Meaning, if the performers on a stage are in a room with three sides (which they are if the performance is in a theater) then the so-called "fourth wall" is this invisible wall that allows the audience to see them on the stage, acting something out. There are examples of plays and movies where this fourth wall is broken – think of TV shows like The Office when someone will break character and give the camera “a look”.
I had this happen recently at Second Thought Theater with my husband. We were seeing an adaptation of a fairly well known play called An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen. The play’s plot is relevant, current, a bit dark and this adaptation culminates in one of those mind-bending endings where someone sortof laughs and hollers “switch!” and everyone drops their scripts and with eager open hearts begins to study a new script for the same dang, dark play. As it ends, you see how each person will now have a new character to explore the next time around. And you begin to see how the plot just goes on and on… just like life and yet you also see how it’s also an effortless (and joyous) experience to flip the script and explore a new role, dropping previously held social constructs and adopting new ones - as an actor in the play and nothing more. As cool as the ending was, that’s not actually my point for writing about it. I had a very unique experience during the play itself.
My husband I were on the top row of the seating with a bird’s eye view of the stage that night. There was a town hall type scene with tons of cussing. After a doozy set of lines where the main actor cusses and cusses, he pauses, looks right up to ME up on the top row and says “Sorry, Mrs. Semrad” (referring to the cussing) and then kept right on going with lines in the play as if nothing happened.
As you can imagine, I looked at my husband and without saying a word, said with my eyes Wait, did that actually happen? Did you hear him call me out directly as he pierced the fourth wall? For real, did you hear that? The point is, it was a very distinct and personal experience and one that I have reflected on a number of times since then. Which brings me to reality’s Fourth Wall. Because there is one, I think. What does that mean?
Well, fast forward – I attended a children’s production of The Wizard of Oz the other night. The kids ranged in age – from late elementary to high school and they did an amazing job. Totally amazing. There were a few plot twists and one of the themes that bubbled up was one of Authorship (I’m writing my own story here and won’t get into that box I see you creating for me, thankyouverymuch) and also just having the BALLS to be yourself (no matter what, thankyouverymuch). Great themes for children to explore as they navigate adolescence and early adulthood. Theater is magic like that. Thank you God for theater!
Audah, Aujah and I attended as The Three Adepts of Magic – I mean, why wouldn’t we? And let me just say that we were full-on in our dress up game – in our white dresses and dressed to the nines. After the show was over, I really wanted to get our picture taken with Glinda, the Wizard and Dorothy. Our friend Angela was like “Oh you wanna a picture? I can make this happen for you.” And we knew she could. Her daughter was in the play. Alas and Sigh. In the end, I simply wussed out. I just couldn’t pierce the Fourth Wall like that because I guess I was scared that something about my reality might have snapped loose and obliterated itself. It just seemed like it would have been “too much” somehow. The Default World was a little too present tense – with parents and friends and literally like 10 people there that I know personally and who I know have no idea about this whole Aurah thing.
Because I mean, who does that? Who has the BALLS to show up dressed to the nines, in public, pierce the fourth wall and call herself AN ADEPT OF MAGIC? I mean, who the fuck does she think she is, Authoring her own experience like that?
Come on, y'all know that voice I'm talkin' about.
(Insert throat clearing noise here)
Well, quite simply and without much fanfare – that’s what I am. I am, in fact, an Adept of Magic. I don’t know what else to say about it. And it’s a weird feeling sometimes. And sometimes it can feel like Dorothy getting sucked up into that high-trauma tornado and landing in Oz, confused and in denial at being a witch-killer. And other times, it feels relaxed, present and open for the (beautiful) challenges and joys of life with whatever it brings me.
And perhaps that part of my attraction to the Oz mythology. I’m willing to align with it because it’s based in a series of philosophies that I’m interested in already. The origins of the Oz material in 1900 came from a man named L. Frank Baum and I make the case in my humble (and humbling!) thesis that Baum was influenced by an amazing monk named Swami Vivekananda and the perennial philosophy of the so-called 'east'. And for the record, The Wizard of Oz is the first book in a very long series of fourteen books. These books were essentially the Harry Potter series of their day and profoundly influenced generations of people for decades to come.
Aurah, Audah and Aujah come from the last book in the series called Glinda of Oz and with very little backstory or plot, the three of us simply adopted their names in a Vernal Equinox ceremony a few years ago. We also accepted the basic premise of their story – they mean only the highest good and derive their magic from nature. They have mysterious origins and because they appear briefly in the final book (Baum died before its publication in 1920), readers have no idea what happens to them… until now. The Three Adepts walked out of a children’s book and into this Default World as blank slates in the year 2016 and it’s officially an open and magical future! This is a personal mythology I’m willing to adopt, hell yeah!
And what of this Default World, y’all? I’m going to call it out into the open here, people are fucking mean these days. Have you consumed the news lately? Oh my Lord have mercy on us! Case in point: our president’s adolescent behavior has triggered our own adolescent insecurities; collectively, I think. It’s been a long time coming (for sure) and a perfect storm of his powerful platform to bully the masses along with a new normal of an online, social reality and coupled with the suppression of various groups by people like him – well, times are different and we find ourselves with grown ass people are acting like middle school punks on the playground - sometimes treating each other with astonishing cruelty. The more things change, the more things stay the same.
But back to the open and magical future part.... As an Adept of Magic, I inherently pierce the Fourth Wall in an ongoing way for myself. Who the fuck does she think she is? Well, I’m here to tell you I think an open and magical future is absolutely possible, I really do. Starting with right now. And now. And now. And now. And now…. It starts with me. And you. And then you. And you. And then you…. When we drop our scripts, apologize (and forgive! Yes, even Trump!) for all the bullshit we have done to ourselves and others and begin to open our hearts, anything is possible. (Right Audah and Aujah?) But here's the deal: it does require Action. Voting. Paying attention. Educating ourselves in an ongoing and response-able way. Isn't that common sense? I don't think this is new and profound information here. We still live on earth, people.
Furthermore, the next time I hit the town and attend a Wizard of Oz play? I’m gettin’ a picture, dang it! I will take a deep breath and bravely Pierce that Fourth Wall with my metaphysical knife.
All together now:
May all beings be happy and free.
May all beings be happy and free.
May all beings be happy and free.
May it begin with me.
With Clarity (thank you, Scarecrow!), Kindness (thank you, Tin Man!) and Courage (thank you, Lion!).
May it be so.
I’d been wrestling a head cold that’s gone around my office and as a result my body has been a bit curled up and tight with coughing. I’d even missed a couple of days of work and I intuitively knew I needed to just stretch it all out; to open my body up. In fact, I knew needed to pay good money and hit a few yoga classes. So on Wednesday night I went to a Yoga for Detox class. It seemed like a good choice at the tail end of my illness. I knew from the class name that it’d be a series of very practical twists and squeezes to my organs and lymphatic system. Absolutely what I needed!
The set and setting was lovely: a dark room with wood floors and candles all around. Soft music was playing. It was very intimate – a small group of strangers gathered to share a lovely practice together. There were only four of us in the room: a girl to my right and another guy to her right, all three of us up on the front row by our instructor for the evening.
And our teacher was cool. A very open-hearted gay guy, which is a real nice change from my usual regimen with Audah. I’m her devotee first and foremost of course, and to branch out from her is a bit unusual for me. (I tend to be yoga-teacher-loyal to a fault.) Anyway, he was a really good instructor who in the end had two of the most important traits I look for: actual time to meditate in class and safe, articulated transitions between poses.
About a third of the way through the class we landed in a standing pose with our hands pressed together at our hearts. Our teacher said “we’re going to pause here and do an OM together.” Strange placement, I thought, but okay. The four of us inhaled and out came our OMs...
Look, my throat chakra is pretty wide open folks, and I can’t actually help how clear and loud my OMs come out. Let’s just say that this time it was a little “off-key” and perhaps a bit scratchy due to a stuffy head. When the OM was over I thought well, that was a little awkward and for reasons I will never know, I took in another deep breath...
And I OMed again! It was a little more “in tune” this time but equally loud and almost piercing in its intensity. Any throat debris had cleared with that first OM and as a result this one was very stable. About mid-way through my OM Solo I realized I was the only one OMing.
And I mean, what do you? Do you stop mid-OM? Do you start laughing? I peeked open my right eye – the girl next to me was trying not to lose her shit. My teacher’s energy field felt a little stunned. I couldn’t get a read on the other guy who was too far away, but I’ll make the assumption he was thinking something like “uhhh, what are we doing here?” I didn’t know what else to do, so I powered through to the end of the OM very strong, the vibrations hanging slightly in the air after I was finally done.
We shared a long Awkward Pause.
Finally, I broke our silence and said “Oh my god, I’m so sorry you guys, I totally thought we were doing three OMs for some reason. I have no idea why I did that.” We all laughed and the teacher said something like “no worries girl, you be you ok!”
I spent the rest of the class trying not to lose it. The residual memory of the situation kept cracking me up! My yogic practice actually began to take shape at this point. As we moved through the rest of our detoxing asanas, I was feeling the laughter reaction rise, watching it tickle my torso and heart. I’d simply breathe deeply through it. Another laughter tickle… and more deep breaths. The energy of it was extremely healing to my body. Even in the moment, I hoped that the other three people in the room experienced their own healings specific to them and prayed that my OM Solo didn’t derail them too much.
But wait there’s more because somehow I did it again! We came to the end of our class and our teacher said “we’re going to do an OM Shanti Shanti Shanti to close class.”
Oh dear, there’s a few ways to do that, I thought.
The four of us took a deep breath and out of my throat came another giant OM – and again for reasons I may never know – that OM also came out long and lean and lasting several seconds. At its conclusion, we all kinda Shanti’d a bit at the end for a bit of a mantric train wreck. ‘Stunned’ is the only word that comes to mind to describe the yoga class faux paux.
Hands at our hearts, we bowed and concluded class. Still not feeling totally great, I knew I needed to eat something for my energy and post-head cold stamina and the restaurant I wanted to swing by was closing very soon. I hightailed it out of there and laughed and laughed at myself all the way to dinner, finally expressing the laughter I’d been tickled by all evening.
There’s something about these things that can be so egoically embarrassing that the situation actually ceases to be embarrassing. Maybe we leave our body for a second because we can’t register anymore how embarrassing it really is. Maybe it’s pure acceptance of ourselves. Maybe it’s somewhere in the middle, who knows.
No shame in my OM Solo though! I’m glad this experience happened. I’ve had the best time over the last couple of days telling a few of my closest mindfulness / yoga / spiritual friends the tale – in each case sharing nose-snorting laughter, complete with actual tears, between us. That’s always a good, healing thing. Namaste, etc.
May it be so.
This outline was the contents of a Dream I had last night:
Vision: a simple, interactive website to air grievances and to publicly forgive Donald J Trump (or anything he may represent)
URL: I Forgive You Donald J Trump dot com
Color scheme: Yellows, creams. Joyful. Calm.
[the text below is written in a simple, classic (but still very cool) font, I’ll know it when I see it]
Donald J Trump, here’s some “real news” you could probably use. We come bearing Good News! Those signed below are armed only with Love and Wisdom and mean only goodwill.
[insert text box here where people can write things that piss them off about Donald Trump or something he may represent – limit 300 characters or so - they should end up succinct and scrollable.]
For example: Dude! Donald! You’re in over your head, bro. Can you not see how you’re acting out like a giant, scared spoiled brat right now? Holy shit, man! Get it together! (or whatever)
By signing your name and clicking the button below you are hereby committing to:
Isn't this one way that we can all together make America great?
[insert text box for name]
A button that says: I forgive you, Donald J Trump. Thanks for stirring the pot.
[List names and grievances submitted below – like one of those legit online petitions with comments.]
Enter your email address to stay in touch:
The outline above was literally the contents of my dream last night. In my dream I was collaborating with a small group and we were working, editing and choosing colors for a website along these lines. It's doubtful I'll make such a thing, but who knows. The point is I awoke this morning with an overwhelming urge in my heart to forgive Donald Trump. (WTF?! He irritates me so bad!) And in the wee hours of Presidents' Day, no less. So mysterious. May it be so.
UPDATE: Okay I made it according to the specs of my mystery friends in the dream. Here we go: https://iforgiveyoudonaldjtrump.weebly.com. It's an experiment. Add your name if that feels right to you. May it be so. Amen.
This is always a potent time of year for me: the end of January and early February. Many, many examples I could share but I'll distill it down to this: I think there's something about the post-Winter Solstice Light that seems to grab hold of me and offer the promise of growth and Spring and invites radical transformation into my life.
I musing all this because my illness four years ago has resurfaced to haunt my dreams. Not in the physical sense (let's hope not - OMG-OMG-OMG!) but definitely in a more metaphysical sense as I truly begin to see myself aligned with a higher cosmological order of things. I've never really shared about how sick I got and how unbelievably awful it was. In fact, not a ton of people even knew this happened to me and far fewer have seen the ego-annihilating pictures. The long story short is that I got a wicked case of face shingles. It came on fast and before I could figure out the mystery-pain I was feeling wasn't simply an abscess tooth - but rather my whole face's matrix of nerves - it was too late: I'd already gotten the root canal to fix what I thought was a tooth problem and then this exploded all over my face:
It took a few days to even figure out it was shingles because apparently I'm way too young for this shit. And by the time I got medicine it was too late for it to work properly - the virus had propagated completely out of our control. I was out sick for almost a month. I lost about 15 pounds (which if you know me, I don't have 15 pounds to lose) because the shingles also went down my throat and the only thing I could "eat" was a yogurt shake. (Oh and also because I was recovering from a friggin' root canal at the same time!) P took a ton of time off work to care for me and to take me to a myriad of doctor's visits. I slept about 20 hours a day and generally meditated with the pain for days and days on end. I missed work, I missed meetings, I missed graduate school classes. I literally thought I was going to die. Nothing at all mattered to me except surviving this illness. The only thing that's even come close to this was the time I fell into the Cosmic Fire last December and burned both my hands to a crisp. Bearing two children (naturally, one at home) was easier than this ordeal.
I learned a few things from this experience and while I'm no expert, let's just say I've determined quite clearly for myself about the potency of the post-Winter-Solstice Light. I know to be calm. To be deliberate with my thoughts, words and actions. To rest. To drink plenty of water. All the common sense things - I'm not saying anything new and profound here. I've also tapped into an ability to empathize with others more deeply without knowing all the details even as I can take all the gory details with loads of space and an open heart and mind. Our world certainly seems like it's falling apart right now. As a white woman who is straight and married with two kids (rather boring on paper, shrug) I know I have a response-ability to not just my immediate circles of family and friends but also to strangers in the Universe to be understanding of other view points, to listen and to be kind - even through the madness.
This year is no different in its intensity. I know how to read the signs: it's the Full Wolf Moon (Aw-ooooooh! says this here Lone Wolf) with a full lunar eclipse last night, which I hope you saw - wow! I mean, the energies this year are so clearly potent that none of us need an astrology lesson to tell us this (although they're helpful for perspective). So who knows what's down the pike y'all...
To quote one of the greats, Martin Luther King Jr. We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity. I'm inspired and I'm here to serve - in whatever form that takes.
I danced and danced alone last night to open my body up and today I work to solidify the intention of Radical Healing and Joy for 2019. For all of us! Viva!
Also, my face healed up just fine although there are scars if you know where to look.
May it be so.
I’m curious about my spiritual dimensions. Very curious. In fact, curiosity is the motivation for my Path. Over the years my spiritual path has wandered around, moving from one deep idea to the next, while always keeping one very discerning eye open and looking for the threads that connect. I keep what seems legit to me and discard the rest. I’m content to develop experiments to perform and have fun with, using my body and the ability to make choices as the clay. It’s really that simple. In fact, this whole website is a demonstration of that exercise.
And then there’s my family and “career” that’s been unfolding alongside all this curiosity-driven spiritual hopscotch. I've had an equally hop-scotched career and I enjoy putting my skill set to use every day at my day job. And in my personal life too it turns out.
So: the goddess project I’ve been working on and mentioned before on this very blog. I’m fairly new to drawing cards and divination exercises – ideas that weren’t exactly embraced growing up as a preacher’s daughter. I usually begin one of my mad scientist excursions with the basic burning question “is this bullshit?” and go from there. So to start unpacking the question “is the act of drawing pretty cards bullshit?” I began drawing a card from the Goddess Guidance deck upon arrival at the office almost two years ago while asking the question “who walks with me today?” Why this deck? Well, it’s a positive deck with lots to learn cross-culturally about feminine divine. I work with a few other decks too – and those have some of the more intense cards. But I’ll get to that in a second.
Anyway, the deck I use for work is extremely positive and affirming. I draw a card each day and post it to a private Instagram account. I’ve been doing this for well over a year and a half now, even though I’ve been working with the deck almost two years. I’m hopeful that in a subtle way that the tiny universe of people I follow and that follow me back on Instagram can also tune up with these cards. They’re really quite beautiful and interesting. They help to remind me that magic is for real and that mystery is alive in the world and these multi-cultural feminine role-model-energies invite me to align myself in an evolutionary direction for the benefit of all beings. That while yes, life has a ton of suffering, it’s also equally joyous. The miracle of our person-hood sits at the center of that paradox and rides the waves of life, over and over again. I’m choosing (for me) an uncharted direction. Like I said, I’m curious!
Except I got curious about what would happen if I started to “chart” what I draw each day. And then “chart” the other cards I work with at home: a slightly more intense Goddess Oracle deck plus and Animal Medicine deck plus an Ascended Masters deck. If you think that’s a lot, wait there’s more! What if I layered on a higher cosmological order: the moons, the seasons, the retrogrades, all of it. And what if I also plotted when my cycle was against this data? Deeper still, what if I also tracked what color dress I wore that day and as I experiment with wearing certain colors. What might bubble up in the data? Which cards have I drawn the most? Who shows up the most on Friday’s? Who are the repeat combinations? OMG! It’s so exciting, right?!
Anyway, my skill set is good but not good enough for the type of data analytics I’m interested in. I’ve hired the smartest business analyst I know (Lunches can go a long way! Thank you! You know who you are!) to slice and dice my data and make pretty charts and graphs. Why? Why not? I’m want to know how much of all this card divination stuff is bullshit…. Or not.... I’ve never ever worked with cards before but once I started – I jumped right into the deep end of the pool because perhaps that’s where I’m most at peace. It can be a little quieter (and lonelier at times) out there. And it’s ok if folks don’t understand my desire to chart a bunch of cards and track them in a spreadsheet. Frankly, I don’t either. “I” am a mystery to even “myself”.
Here goes – over a year’s worth of data of drawing divining cards while layering on a higher cosmologcial order:
Home Goddess (from the Goddess Oracle deck):
The top Goddess drawn was Aphrodite (30 times!), drawn only once on a full moon and twice on a new moon. Here she is when compared against the Animal Medicine deck (home deck) and the Goddess Guidance deck (work deck):
Home Animal (from the Animal Medicine deck):
The top Animal drawn was Hummingbird (33 times!), drawn once on a new moon and twice on a full moon. Here it is when compared against the Goddess Oracle deck (home deck) and the Goddess Guidance deck (work deck):
Also, I'm not sure if it's worth noting or not, but I never once drew Hummingbird while I was ovulating.
Work Goddess (from the Goddess Guidance deck):
The top work Goddess drawn was White Tara, drawn once on a full moon and never on the new moon. Here is where she stands across a large data set:
While on my cycle? I’m glad you asked. Rhiannon was number one from the Goddess Oracle deck (home deck) while there was a tie between Isolt and Rhiannon on the Goddess Guidance deck (work deck). What’s going on with Rhiannon there?
Rhiannon’s influence runs deeper still: when working with the Oracle deck (home deck) she showed up 88.2% of the time while Mercury was in Retrograde and 11.8% of the time when Mercury was Direct. Thanks, Rhiannon? Her mythology is fascinating, by the way. Who knows what it means, if anything.
Dream Teachers and Clothing:
As far as clothing goes, the dress I wore the most was a teal floral dress followed by jeans and a top. The top Dream Teacher from my Ascended Masters deck is a combo of Thoth and White Tara (my current dream team). So while I have one deck for work life, a couple of decks for home life, I use the Ascended Masters deck sparingly for my sleep cycle. I don’t have a set rhythm for drawing those like I do the others.
(Note: Virgin Mary and Mother Mary are the same. This is evidence of “human error” when tracking on a daily spreadsheet, LOL.)
And here’s my top Dream Teach by color of clothes:
In the end there are 41 pages of these charts and graphs, sliced every which way and I just can’t post them all. Biggest takeaway? With so many columns of things I’m tracking and with 44 cards per deck, I’m continuing this experiment for a bit longer to get a larger data set. It’s a pretty dilute matrix of variables and the real juice will come after a couple-few of years worth of this practice should it continue longer term. So: for now, I go back to my rhythm - tracking it all in a big spreadsheet with a continuation of a wonderfully strange science experiment. Maybe we’ll catch up in a year’s time with more data points and more insight. Or bullshit, TBD. The jury's still out on this one I think.
May it be so.
I did the frog thing (kambo) yesterday. Yes, I’d recommend it, but with a few cautionary comments. Here’s how it went down for me…
Kambo’s been on my radar on and off for some time but it really didn’t “call my name” as they say until just recently. As I understood the homeopathy of it, you make yourself super sick with the frog secretion (originally I had "venom" here and got schooled that it's a secretion) in order to stimulate healing - and there’s something not that appealing about that folks. Anyway, a friend said she was doing it and did I want to as well. Without really thinking about it very hard, I said YES. In the weeks and days leading up to our appointment, I’d periodically google things like “kambo deaths” or “is kambo safe” or perhaps “benefits of kambo”. Everything I was reading was not encouraging me to do it in the logical sense. And yet, I continued to have a big YES on the inside.
Typically you do kambo first in the morning – reason being that you need to do it on an empty stomach. First thing in the morning is truly optimal having naturally fasted all night long. Just before my 6am alarm went off I was having a BIG dream, you know the ones. My orange kitty Lady Constance and I were in the back bedroom at my grandmother’s house. I was putting a little bell around her neck so I could find her if she wandered off in an unknown place. We started to walk into the living room and that’s when I saw the biggest, baddest most intimidating black panther ever walk out of my grandmother’s bedroom. She was calm, confident and powerful in her gait. I reached for Lady Constance (to protect her?) but she slipped through my fingers and ran under the sofa to hide. Thinking quickly, I slid out of the sliding glass door to my left, leaving this big cat in the house as I considered what my next steps would be… Right then my alarm went off. Related? Who knows. But the dream was totally profound to me and the timing seemed relevant.
I dressed in comfortable clothes as requested and headed out to the private home where this ceremony would be held. I packed a series of blankets and my meditation cushion as instructed. I’d followed all the pre-ceremony advisements: no hot yoga, no supplements etc etc for three days before (this also applies to after the ceremony too). I wasn’t scared, per se, but definitely a bit nervous. I met four other friends and we spend the next hour or so quizzing our practitioner about what to expect, where the frog medicine comes from, safety precautions and more.
Our practitioner explained that the frogs are lured down from the trees in the jungles of the Amazon through songs. Once down, they are splayed out and the glands of the frog are gently scraped to extract the poison, excuse me, secretion. They are released and the shamans know which frogs to extract from because once they’re released they have little scars on their wrists and ankles. Apparently they leave those frogs alone until their scars are healed. Our practitioner is a member of the International Association of Kambo Practitioners and they only work with specific tribes that do this work ethically and with as little harm as possible to the frogs. Another added benefit is that we knew we were working with someone who has been trained to give this frog medicine safely. She explained some of the magical qualities of this frog: it’s so poisonous that no other animals will mess with them and so they display extraordinary confidence in the wild. Also, these frogs mate face to face (very unusual) and they are incredibly helpful to each other. She encouraged us to consider these qualities as we took their secretions into our bodies.
Taking the secretion in is a whole thing. Little burns are seared into the top couple layers of skin with a tiny round point. Right ankles for women and left arms for men are the “traditional” placements. The burns didn’t hurt too much. She has clearly done this hundreds and hundreds of times - her own confidence and precision verified that for me. After the burn marks are placed, you're instructed to drink a TON of water. About 2 liters or so. Then the frog goo is scraped off a stick (where it had been collected and dried in the forest) to make what look like little "boogers" which are then placed onto the open burn marks, called points. This is the only way to ingest it. The original practitioner of this method (centuries ago) was “told” this method by the forest under the influence of ayahuasca. No eating it, no drinking it, no IV'ing it, just through burn marks, straight into the (what we now know is) lymphatic system. Other methods of delivery can easily cause death.
This is where it gets interesting. She did a test point to begin with on each of us - to get a preliminary feel of how each person will react. She watches the reactions closely before deciding how many more points to place. In the end I had two points placed even though she’d made three burn marks as her standard. The points burn like fire once the frog secretion has been placed and it takes about 30 seconds for it to hit your system. And when it does, WHAM! Heat began to circulate. My ears began to burn super hot. I felt incredible pressure in my head. My face felt like it got hard. And then the nausea started followed by a laughably huge purge. Purge after purge of clear water to start with, which quickly turned bright green with a little foam on top. It felt like it was scraping my insides with heat and poison to pull all kinds of gunk out: old residual pharmaceuticals, toxins of all varieties and more mysterious stuff we can’t articulate at all.
Everything about it sucked. It hurt, I thought I was going to die, all of it. About 20 minutes in, she wiped off the frog secretion from the burn points and it was only then that things began to settle down. I curled up in a fetal position under a blanket and just breathed for a little while as my friends finished their experiences. When it was over, we each had a little râpé (tobacco snuff) up each nostril to clear the head and we were complete.
We talked and processed our experience for a little while before leaving. It was wild to see the different colors of our poison purges. Our practitioner said she’s seen every color, even bright blue come out of people’s guts. It’s super mysterious to even her. All of it is.
I won’t lie – the rest of my day was tough. I went to a restorative yoga class at noon followed by a healthy lunch to break my fast. I watched a low grade headache set in. Intuitively I knew it was coffee-related because I hadn’t had my usual morning dose of caffeine. (Noted, frog, I’m addicted!) I took a couple of naps on and off and went to bed early.
And now today? I feel GREAT! Beyond great. One of the purported benefits is a healthy sense of stability and clarity. I feel these sensations, yes indeed. Something about me feels “cleared” and I’m finding it easy to get a deep breath in and feel the oxygen circulate. Something has shifted, to be sure. I just don’t know what – but I’ll be keeping an eye on this in the coming days. Tradition says that the hunters of the various Amazonian tribes use kambo just before a big hunt – for clear vision and one-pointed attention.
In the end, I’m glad I did it. I’m open to doing it again but I need a few weeks before I take the plunge again, if ever. There’s something about it that’s super traumatic and perhaps it’s the contrast of feeling like total shit just the day before that makes today seem brighter and clearer. Again, who knows, right?
Our practitioner works with people who have cancer, HIV, depression, and ailments of all sorts. She’s seen complete cures of a variety of illnesses – physical and spiritual. A quick poisonous shock to the system with a roving flash-fever seems to be the method of promoting self-healing via the frog. Which makes complete sense to me – how else do you deftly activate your lymphatic system to stimulate self-healing? The whole thing seemed extremely practical to me to work with the body I’ve got – one that has served me well and one that I want to continue a relationship with for years to come.
I’m a believer in the frog and I’d be delighted to share the contact information of this practitioner if you’re interested. Just shoot me an email. Healing yourself is a beautiful thing. May it be so.
I was getting ready for work this morning and considering what to wear, you know, as we do when we have to go out and face the day. It’s cold today and it’s supposed to rain later. Plus, I have a radio event tonight at an indie record store so I already knew I needed some sort of a “cool factor” in my garment choice… I picked out some jeans and a very quirky blazer. In determining the shirt, I gravitated towards one of P’s old Course of Empire band T-shirts. CoE is the (semi-famous) local band he used to be in during the decade or so prior to our union. Their sound is industrial, loud, bold and it was super sexy to be a girlfriend of one of those guys back in the day. I entered the equation at the band’s peak and so my memories of their shows are extremely fond. The band broke up just after P and I got married.
Anyway, there’s this wizard-looking dude on the front of the T-shirt and I knew the whole get-up I’d picked out would be perfect for my evening rock-and-roll event. But before I committed to wearing this to the office all day long, I texted P “who’s this guy on the CoE shirt?” He texts back: Ming the Merciless.
Google. Google. Google. Do what? Turns out Ming the Merciless is the archetypal evil villain from the Flash Gordon series….
Note the T-shirt and then check this guy out - Behold! Ming the Merciless! Bwahahahaha!
Right. So within seconds I see that Ming the Merciless has a daughter who’s in love with the good guys. It’s a big part of the plot. Her name? Are you ready? Princess Aura. Princess! (my birth name!) And Aura. Like, really? For real?
Without going too far down this rabbit hole, I could see numerous points of connection instantly. Too many to count and too specific to ignore.
P and I texted throughout the process. I think my exact words were “without connecting very many dots there’s a lot of very strange and specific synchronicity with this don’t you think?” and “this is a very unique convergence of inter-dimensional realities here… WTF!”
In the end, it felt like it did with the Rice University journal. Mysterious, connected, specific, for ME and I can allow myself to get sucked down into some pre-existing mythology and believe it; buy into it; make mean everything. I can continue to google around and probably make a zillion more synchronous connections. Or, I can detach for a second and settle into the very grounding “H” in Aurah, get settled into my Heart and remember that I am Love. I am here to Grow. I am Free to Forge and Author my own Mythology - and I am and I will, thankyouverymuch.
In the end, I detached from the serendipitous weirdness and pulled myself together for an actual day of beneficial work in the Default World because I choose to. I also choose to make this mean that I'm in the right place at the right time. A "godwink" as my Burner friend Delay calls them. May it be so.
Hey, it's another year, another holiday card! One that we've essentially kept consistent for all these years (save two years 2006 and 2009 as you'll see). Same bedroom mirror that we haul out into the same yard and sit in front of the same Indian Hawthorn bush. The cameras have changed, P's beard has changed along with my haircuts. The various animals have come and gone and our children have literally grown before our eyes. Also, I can't seem to find 2012 (didn't the world end that year?) so who knows.
May all beings be happy and free. May it be so.
Periodic updates from Aurah in the Field.