Wilder GriefApril 30, 2019
What will it be like, someday, when my children are running through the forest after I’ve died? Will they feel me with them, sharing in their joy?
What will it be like, someday, when my children are running through the forest after I’ve died? Will they feel me with them, sharing in their joy?
I think thats why it can be difficult to talk about that doorway, I disappear completely. There are no words, and little thought. Absolute silence from within.
It turns out I’ve been carrying around a floating divorce of sorts. Terry and I did not say “’til death do us part” in our wedding vows. Now I understand why people include that clause. If the spirits are real to you, tangible in your life, does your marriage really end after death?
I would like to carry her
down this hallway,
my sometimes tender
often edgy bird,
to lay her on the waiting bed.
What can you give someone at their passing, who, seemingly effortlessly, held open a door for you that led everywhere? If I had every day, for the rest of my life, to walk down the many paths that open door made available to me, I wouldn’t even begin to explore the potential that is there.
Mending asks us to sing.
Mending may require dance.
Mending asks us to allow ourselves to be filled with light.
Mending asks us to grow.
Mending requires that we receive as well as give.
How do you reclaim wildness, when you are part of a culture hell bent on minimizing or destroying everything wild? How do you embody the presence of an animal to call forth your humanity?
I’ve been indulging in a rare pleasure recently – watching something that lasts more than 15 minutes (my current self-designated guilty Papa-pleasure allotment.) Stranger Things on Netflix has…
When I was making my rounds that fateful day, I was being shown that my work with the Sidhe is always happening. Its really about a quality of presence and relationship to life that never ends. Everything has to fit within that connection.
…I journeyed to the spirit of the Slough, finding an ancient woman twisting her yarn at a spinning wheel, weaving out the eons singing to the tap of her wheel. Listening to her spinning song slowly turned me to gunpowder-black dust. She sang, wove and spun until I became a small bird perched on her wheel transformed by her radiance.
I’ve been feeling lately, like so many of my friends, that I’m sitting at an important crossroad. I understand that I need to move forward, but have not really been given the direction yet. So I sit with potential, and that can feel oddly frightening, like you’re pausing at a threshold while something ominous and unknown draws closer.
I suspect somehow that our wonderment actually feeds the Earth.
We’re like forest rangers for a forest nobody around us believes exists. We setoff into that world, sometimes stumble into it ourselves waking or dreaming, to work with the spirits there, to heal to bring balance, to remember soul in life. I suppose in a way, thats special. But sometimes I think it shouldn’t be.
To finally destroy them in our culture they first had to be painted as physically real, then evil, then slain, replacing many Gods with one God. But if Dragons are larger forces of nature, they cannot be slain anymore than you could kill the rain or wind.
This is the journey available to us if we open to it, the yearning we feel for something more profound, and the answers nature offers us.
Language, way of life, much of what we do in the West actually DRIVES us away from the palpable presence of our own souls…
Its funny how water connects us and pulls us apart. He was the one who dragged me out of that lake when I nearly drowned all those years ago, now I’m driving his ashes, my Mom, son, and artifacts that story 45 years of their life in Utah out to the coast.
When I find myself in a forest I feel that I am the one being understood, not the other way around. Its as if my spirit is finally free to expand to its biggest size and once there, it finds itself wholly encompassed by something much larger and more mysterious than I can ever fully understand.
Now being loved this much is of course AWESOME, the first 5,000 times it happens.
Dismemberment is not a metaphor, nor is it a recent phenomena. Its one of those core human experiences that points to a universal spiritual terrain we all walk as human beings.
The problem is you’re doctoring souls and nobody cares about their own soul anymore…
I was wide awake at the wheel when the Elk danced into my headlights. He was big, just under 300 lbs from the sheriffs report. I moved to the right to avoid, he dance to the right, I moved back, he jumped back.
Death comes into our lives in many different ways. People sometimes think that because we get to work with spirits, and the processes of the psychopomp, that death transforms into something easy, perhaps even palatable.
Just two days ago I invoked a number of my deceased friends as part of a ritual performance I had the great honor of performing for the Foundation For Shamanic Studies Council gathering. It was a way of calling out to those who I felt suffered from the lack of any real method of accessing the worlds shamans know so well.
We are a group that has taken a long time to ripen. Not only did we have to survived the wounding of being deeply inspired in a culture that often rejects or eats alive the inspired, we then had to figure out how to support ourselves and perhaps our families…
Tadg has always called him “Packa”, a little ones abbreviation of the more difficult “Grandpa”. The Packa tree’s ruby red fruit hung for months, darkening to a cherry-black red.
When Michael Harner began to read selections from his new book, “Cave and Cosmos” at the most recent Foundation for Shamanic Studies (FSS) Council meeting, I saw spirits surrounding him, supporting him as he read.
We modern people stumble to the waters edge by chance. We go there in dreams, on fortunate drug trips, when we slip between living and dying, when our hearts are open, our minds are quiet and the Earth reaches out to us.
You joined the meeting about ten minutes in, slamming up against the plate glass again and again.
Agencies, institutions and laws do not heal people, that much is clear. At best they can provide opportunities for transformation, guide books, the names of mentors, directions to journey in. They are not in and of themselves, healing. That is the work of our fellow human beings, and the compassionate spirits who offer their wisdom and support.
I was finally willing to let the veil fall, hearing again the world beyond the wooded ramparts of my home.
I got to make a friend a Shillelagh this past week from an oak in our grove. A special gift, I empowered it using shamanic techniques, some taught by the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and some by Tom Cowan.
The five of us were crammed in the back of an old Lincoln heading over a cable bridge just past sunrise. The river was low from the long summer, the morning light made perfect diamonds flicker across its surface.
I’ve come to see my journeys as a way of moving within the spirit of the Earth more freely, I’ve even been thinking of the spirit world as her consciousness.
I’ve been going through some tremendous healing lately. Almost nightly as I dream, my heart is being mended and remade. Scabs I never thought would come off, turn to dust as I rise for morning chores. This has been going on for weeks now, I don’t want it to stop. Ever.
The suffering that our western culture has wrought in this world is due in part, I believe, to the oppression of our own innate ability to access the spiritual dimension of our world. We perpetuate that distortion of ourselves every day, by denying the presence of the spirits.
Real change does not feel soft. Its a bump – a big bump, that moves your life ten feet in a direction you never expected.
There is hunger for ceremony in our communities. The free, open-hearted, accessible and powerful movement of healing energy in a safe and sacred way.
“Olivia is still connected to my heart Papa,” Tadg said to me yesterday. Indeed, she’s still connected to all our hearts.
The other night I surpassed that stage of flight. After a great dream spent soaring with friends, I was given a bare broomstick to practice levitation.
Posted below is an interview I did with my dear friend Ann Riley a few years back. She weaves shamanic practices, storytelling, and Celtic traditions masterfully.
The secret, wind-filled family-time buoyed us all with helium laughter. Blustering fog off the incoming tide wiped the dust from the crevices in our faces. The dry winter was over.
If someone sold pin-up’s of Amish farmers, our walls would probably be plastered with them.
You were born to journey, like some of us were born to cook. One of my favorite Pixar movies, “Ratatouille”, covers this topic well.
Santa was very happy to see me this year. As jovial as ever he instantly embraced me and welcomed me into his workshop.
Our land is never fallow, something is always ripening, one of the blessings of living in California. This morning before he left for school, Tadg and I harvested some deep red prickly pears that seemed to appear out of nowhere.
I came of age in cavernous halls, often dancing with adults and little or no parental supervision.
In one of my first journeys to the spirit of the land she was engaged in a continuous dance of giving and receiving.
I want every day to feel like this, maybe you have a time of season and place that feel that way to you. Ever since I was a child this is the time of year that makes me feel like I belong here and now, I feel loved.
At my Dad’s memorial service a little over a year ago, I learned that his father found his true calling as a high school shop teacher after having graduated with a degree in mathematics during the Great Depression.
There are places of stillness in our lives, vantage points from which we can take in the transformations occurring around us always. The horse trough out our back door is just such a place.
I’m struck by the feeling of newness+oldness this time of year brings. Life bursts forth while ancient energies abound. Like practicing shamanic techniques in a modern culture, old and new are intimately entwined.
The shamanic journey awakens us to the spiritedness of all things, and to the special responsibility we have to creatures we kill for food.
This Autumn is different than any other, I felt it for certain this morning. Usually I don’t notice the spirits of the land speaking this loudly until late in October. The potency of this season catches me off guard time and time again.
I wanted to find a way back into the Earth, deeper into an authentic spirituality.
154 years ago today another tragic massacre occurred in southern Utah. A group of a 120 immigrants, making their way to a new life in California, were slaughtered by a group of Mormon militia men.
This summer’s dominating grayness finally crumbled before the dipping sun of late August. The mist dances away around ten and rushes in like a stampede of phantom mustangs around four.
Last night I found myself sitting up late again, grateful for the blanket of post-midnight darkness. It seems like every few nights I have new knot in myself to sort through.
Every step holds the potential for a new beginning, that’s one of the things dance taught me. If you’re really dancing, you’re on an edge that can lead you in any direction.
I was told you should do the 1 legged stork dance.” That’s what the spirits told my friend Ann when she journeyed about my healing.
The lesson lately has been that just by spending time with my spirit, sitting and becoming aware of its stuck places, I can create healing. Listen, breathe, pay attention.
Singing is the best part. I tone whatever feels right, let words come if they will. My foot responds – flooding with warmth, but not blood.
I remembered the depths of sorrow in me,
are less than
a drop of your water.
Shamanism teaches us that any being in our awareness can appear to us as a helping spirit when we journey to the upper or lower worlds of Non-Ordinary Reality (NOR). I’ve found that figures like Santa are especially helpful to journey to.
We are the makers of story, and story is the maker of us.
Autumn used to be the time to savor my most intense feelings. Wrapping them tightly in earthen bundles, I’d carry them into the woods on aimless walks.
Omens are a way life can change who we are. They are not just messages, they are reworkings of the place where our spirits and the material world connect.
This morning I got a very strong feeling while dancing. It was an awareness of being involved in a quiet cultural movement with many divergent tributaries.
There Is Really Just One Project.
What’s left is only that which is essential – only that which can embody the transcendent.
Alchemy only works when you begin with separate elements. A little of this+a little of that = gold.
The sudden death of someone close is like walking away from a really bad car crash. Even though you’re unscathed, every molecule in your body suffers an impact.
Telling this story is the last part of the drum beat – the vibration that follows the collision of beater to leather.
I like to imagine what my wildest Pagan ancestors would say to me if they were sitting beside me now. Likely they wouldn’t caution me to be especially concerned with respect or propriety when exploring my spirituality.
I’m telling you this now because I want you to know something – I’m coming for you.
Like a trip through a baroque gun barrel, Ayahuasca by its very nature refutes the label “recreational drug.”
I want to gather each story from the river and share it with you; slowly, gently – like drinking warm honey
I turn to the concrete circle in the middle of our acre of land surrounded by a forest of Oaks. Bowing, I step across the threshold and begin to dance.
When seventy-five serious students put their best intention behind a powerful shamanic teacher like Sandy you know the roof with be raised.
I became a member of the tribe of Shamanic Workshopper’s shortly after graduate school.
“I used to be afraid of the dark until I had my first child. Then I had to get up in the middle of the night to breast feed her. It was through that experience that I came to know the dark was sacred.”
I knew this bone was held by the ancient people that fed on the animal it came from. Holding something stone that was once living opens a world of possibilities.
Last night I was surrounded by at least a dozen spirits, they were tossing me around like laundry in a dryer.
During our brief friendship Ernesto took me under his wing, trying to help me to understand what I’d been going through.
I keep backing away from my keyboard, finding excuses to be distracted. Its been far more difficult writing about this part of my past than I thought it would be.
The dreams, visions and waking shamanic experiences started several years before I found my way to a Shamanic Practitioner
What would you do if after years of hearing voices you woke up one morning to them saying “It is time; now they are calling you.”
only heard about Rolling Thunder because I was taking Iaido lessons from one of the last living Samuri.
I felt like my head had been cut off, filled with hysterical laughter and put back on upside down.
Nina was experiencing a call to a sacred practice. That calling has been ringing out for at least as long as we have had language, story and song.
A few months ago I played the Beheading Game. Don’t worry, my head was returned to me – though I’m sure its not…