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.
The other day I was on my way to have a quick meeting with a friend of mine. I stopped for gas and as I was pulling out of the gas station, I noticed a journal on the concrete – right where my car would be passing. Huh, I thought. I write religiously in my journals on a daily basis (I have for years and years and always have one with me in my purse) and I always include my contact info in the front cover in case it’s ever lost. Duh.
Anyway, I saw this journal lying on the ground and so I opened my car door to scoop it up. On the front it said Rice University Jones School of Business. I looked inside the front cover for contact info: none. So I asked the question of my deeper self “Is this for me? If so, I need it to be really obvious, please.” I began to thumb through: lots of chemistry terms. I’m actually a trained chemist and so my curiosity was immediately piqued. I saw the word “Field” several times. I saw how “O2” (for oxygen) looked like an “OZ” in this person’s handwriting. I saw something about an owl at the end and this was the very animal card I was currently working with. After a long pause and a quick glance around the gas station grounds, I threw the journal on the floor of my car and drove off.
When I got to my friend’s office, I read the journal more thoroughly as I walked slowly from my car to the building. Let’s just say there were several (and I mean several) indications that this here journal was for ME specifically. Not a doubt in my mind. I stepped into my friend’s office and said “this thing - I don’t know what to do with it” as I showed off the banged-up book. With a sigh I placed it on the ground and we had our scheduled meeting.
Towards the end, I said to my friend “Honestly, serious question, what do I do with this? There are too many points of connection directly to me. There’s almost an ‘ask’ in here for me to do something. I just don’t know what.” My friend looked at me in the eyes and said with poignant directness “I rarely give advice… And I would let that thing go. You can let it tie up your mental space and let it hook you or you can get present and be focused on opening your heart.” (Something like that, anyway.)
And so, I stopped in the restroom on my way out. I looked at it long and hard one more time, flipping through the pages. I watched how the temptation to keep it was very strong. I took a deep breath and asked my highest self “should I keep this journal?” I immediately got a crystal clear NO and so I left it. Bye! I don’t know or care what you were about, Rice journal. But I see you. And I won’t take the bait. The clarity of connection wasn’t backed by a clarity of direction. I’m super open to serendipity but not clogging distractions.
And now, I’m genuinely curious – what would you have done? I can see how I might be second-guessing myself here but I don’t think I am. In fact, no regrets on ditching the thing. But I am curious about how deeply some other version of myself would have engaged with it. Am I missing out on some magical connection?
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, kindness and courage.
May it be so.
I've been resisting posting about my France adventures. Not wanting to brag or seem egotistical. Not wanting to rub it in that I got to go on a trip like that solo and that yes, it was, in fact, an absolutely epic adventure. Not wanting to make a scene. Not wanting to speak up. Not wanting to be like "look at me, look at me!" Not wanting to dwell on the amazing-ness that's going down in my life when the world seems like it's falling apart.
FUCK IT. That's dumb. I actually have an obligation in some way to share about the journey to open my heart and be genuinely happy. Here goes....
Lourdes. Look, if you really want to tune into the energy of Mother Mary, consider going to Lourdes. I've never experienced anything quite like it. The grotto located below the church structure is where a young girl named Bernadette encountered what she considered to be Mary. Bernadette's faith in that experience has, decades later, created an amazing pilgrimage site. Throngs of people from all over the world (including tons of Indians who love all forms of divine Mother) come to experience the grotto, feeling its walls like a giant earthen vagina, areas of it dripping with spring water. And the big church on top is where an enormous Marian procession occurs nightly - completely candlelit, with thousands pilgrims singing Ave Maria in a multitude of languages. Those at the front of the procession are in wheelchairs, hopeful for real healing. And real healing has occurred in Lourdes. Documented cases of real healing. There's nothing like it. I'm so glad I went. Mary resides in me in a way I never could have imagined prior to my time in Lourdes. I'll be back, goddess willing.
And then there's St. Baume. Y'all. Holy cow. Allegedly this is where Mary Magdaleine lived the last years of her life - meditating in a cave after she fled the Holy Lands. I mean, who knows, right? I've researched a little bit on this and I feel like the jury is out on the historic validity of this claim. That said, Mary Magdaleine is alive and well in St. Baume! In me and in all those who make the journey.
In order to access the caves, you must walk (there are no roads) uphill through a forest of 3,000 year old trees (that's me above on the forest trail). Once inside the mountainside caves, there's an amazing sanctuary and shrine to both Jesus and Mary Magdaleine. Seriously, it was so cool to sit inside the cave and listen to hundreds of middle schoolers there for a field trip singing devotional hymns and chanting prayers. I met a very cool American woman named Lee Ann (along with her husband and son) from Milwaukee and we've stayed in contact now that we're both back in the States. This won't be my final mention of her. I suspect our paths have intertwined with great purpose.
It gets better. After a pretty exhausting (and hot!) hike to the tippy top of the mountain range, I entered a super tiny chapel to encounter this inside:
Whoa, right? A naked Mary Magdaleine covered by long hair and lifted up by a pair of cherubs! And such a modern rendition. Again, nothing like it.
Let's see, what else? I recorded the friars one evening chanting as I meditated in the pilgrim hostel's chapel. I managed my stick-shift rental car to and from St. Baume just fine - on French toll roads and winding switchbacks alike. I proved to myself (once again) that I can be joyously self-reliant in a foreign country - changing trains, navigating being vegetarian and so much more with an abundance of grace and ease. With 24 pages of single spaced typed journal entries, there's more to say. Much more. All in good time.
In the end, my week of contemplative, solo travel did my soul so much good. I'm revitalized and inspired. I take that revitalization and inspiration back into my Default World with gladness in my heart. And now? Scorpio season is upon us (finally! yay!) and I cheerfully prepare for another trip around the sun.
May it be so.
Burning Man: there's nothing like it on earth. If you haven't been, I would encourage you to consider it. With your "normal" social constructs obliterated at Burning Man, you have one of those rare opportunities to sink into who you really are without all your normal Default World baggage. Cuz we all carry it. Picture above? My most recent Burn in 2015, just ridin' on the front of a bike driven by my firefighter-turned-circus-performer friend Leonard. After a solid six years in a row, I'm on year three of my "Burning Man break." Cuz it's only a break. I'll be back someday, baby, I'll be back. Seeing several friends head out to the desert has caused a serious case of FOMO.
In the meantime, for the last few years, I've used that week and the associated resources (read: money and time) that I would have put towards the Burn in other ways. Last year I took my boy-child to southeast Asia. The year before that, I went down a super crazy rabbit hole with a new acquaintance. This year I head out on a solo excursion to France. My midwife moved there recently after retiring. She's delivered thousands of babies and is one of the most amazing (and challenging) people I know. I worked for her for six (very long and phenomenal) years in my early twenties serving the midwives and laboring women alike. I even enticed her to come with me to Burning Man in 2014. At her going away party this past May she invited everyone to come visit her in France. I raised my hand (ok, I might have been a teeny bit tipsy) and promised I would. And then I promptly bought a round trip ticket a few weeks later. I have endless gratitude for my patient and devoted husband - this isn't the first time I've done such a thing. He always smiles and says "I knew this when I married you."
At first I thought I'd just hang out in Paris for the week with her. We did that together once actually, in 2007. It was just the two of us and we had a fantastic time together. And with a free place to stay this time around, it just made sense financially. But as I continued to view this trip as a pilgrimage (similar to how I view Burning Man), something in me clicked and I knew I needed to expand my French footprint. And while I'll definitely spend time with her in Paris (as well as her amazing wife Lisa), I also have booked a couple of other excursions: one to Lourdes and another to St. Baume and now the whole trip has accidentally turned into a "Mary pilgrimage" of sorts.
Lourdes is the place where a young girl named Bernadette experienced an apparition of what she knew to be Mother Mary. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have visited this place because it's now a revered and well known place of healing miracles, many of which are documented. Further, when I lived in Europe while I was in college (back in 1995), I had numerous friends make the trip to Lourdes and report back to me that it was pretty impactful. Now it's my turn, two decades later.
St. Baume, on the other hand, is allegedly the site of a series of caves that Mary Magdalene lived in for thirty-some-odd years after she fled the holy lands. It's only accessible by foot and the journey there will be an adventure unto itself, guaranteed. I've had to rent a car (manual transmission, eek!) and everything. Nestled in a forest with 3,000 year old trees, it's been a pilgrimage site since the middle ages and sounds amazing from everything I've read - so obviously I'm all in for this one. And because I've booked a room at the friar-run hostel, I get access to the caves in a pretty cool way - it's located at the base of the trail.
Who knows if either place is bullshit. I don't really care. The spirit and energy of these Mary's has held and I'm going to go exploring to experience it all for myself. And while there probably won't be a series of cathartic bonfires (let's hope not anyway) like at Burning Man, I do expect a ton of bullshit to burn off. It always does when I travel alone like this. It's humbling to not speak the language, to depend on my own radical self reliance and to be the stranger. And who knows, maybe my heart will open a little bit more to in turn pay kindness forward just a little bit more in the world.
I'll be seein' ya on the other side. May it be so.
And here's the not very sexy post scriptum to this Dispatch: my day job is pretty huge sometimes. And while I might not be curing cancer, it's the biggest (and most gratifying) thing I've ever worked on in my adult life. I'm currently spearheading a project that will take months if not years to complete. Here's the thing: I'm committed. It's the right thing for our community (and I do mean community-at-large) that I stick around and see this through. Adventures like this one to France (as well as Burning Man) have allowed me to unhinge just enough to fly free before I come back and get super grounded again. It's actually the secret to my work-life balance. How I've been able to keep my marriage together for twenty years and raise two beautiful and compassionate children. How this body I'm in ticks. It's my natural rhythm, one could say. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't share the endless hours of spreadsheets and planning that I do on a daily basis. The meetings - meetings upon more meetings - about an incredibly diverse array of things that I share respnose-ability for. My day-job sometimes requires a lot of patience and presence that I don't know how else I could experience and cultivate except through my-life-of-writing-and-sharing-as-Aurah. You know? My left brain just isn't that exciting! SJ handles that day-job integration just fine. She burned bright with all those projects she created back in the day. And they live on without her, praise goddess, so I can just keep focused on that day job.
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, kindness and courage.
May it be so.
Periodic updates from Aurah in the Field.