December 31, 2001
Here it is the last day of the year and I am feeling that I need to make some new goals for myself. To set stakes in the future where I wish to go. And yet today all I really want is to get the book reviews written for Lynx before I begin on the next issue tomorrow and to see if I can get my fingers to make that new shape in the clay this afternoon. But I want some long range goals, some giant strides, when I am only placing one heel to my toes in the day-to-day stuff. And still I know there is something out there waiting for me if I will just take the time to envision it. I feel I must shut down, not only the computer, but the thousand voices within me, for it to rise up.
May each of you find in the New Year that which your Heart desires. Blessed be!
December 30, 2001
Tonight the other drumming group met. We now have two groups because we have two ‘leaders’ who cannot agree on how to lead. Basically the same people attend both groups – all that is missing at each session is the ‘other’ leader. All of us have tried to get Jan and Kaye back together but so far they are each leadership strong and stalemated. I find value in the different ways they have so their disagreement does not bother me (except when I have a Thursday night out and then a Sunday night full of excitement and a Monday morning that will come far too quickly).
The sharing session (after the ritual of creating a circle) opened with one woman asking what it meant if you ate your power animal. For Christmas dinner she had been served her animal. After tossing the idea back and forth among ourselves we decided that each of us would journey to check in with our own power animals.
Jan felt this was important enough for us, so she stood over the group to drum. This was the first time I had seen her take the drum alone.
I was eager to see OLeo to ask if he still wanted to be my power animal so I dashed through the amethyst cave, down the earth-cut stairs out into OLeo’s meadow. He did not seem as excited to see me as I was to see him. He continued lying in his same position and only acknowledged my question by turning his huge hairy head and looking me solemnly in the eyes as if he was bored to tears with me. As I bounced around waiting on him to respond, I caught a glimpse of another lion peeking out from his other side. As I stared, it came forward growing larger until it was nearly the same size as OLeo. It was much lighter in color and downright frisky as it danced and played with a kitten-like attitude. It was like it was everything OLeo was not.
I had the thought that OLeo was offering me a new, lighter, brighter lion power animal. Though I instantly loved this bouncy, playful lion, I did not want to give up OLeo as my animal. So I asked him if he wanted to really exchange and to give me this new lion instead of himself. He got up and shook his mane and said, "no" he was not giving up on me but was offering me both of them. He said I needed to lighten up and be more playful but that I could have both of them.
I was so happy I hooked my arms through their front legs so we were walking up-right with one on each side of me as we ambled off to find Zechariahs. There he stood on the wide steps waiting for us. I called out to him showing him my new power animal on my left arm. He laughed gently and asked me which one I liked better. I said I loved OLeo because we had been though so much together but I was looking forward to getting to know this lighter, brighter one. Then Zechariahs was silent a long time just looking deeply into my eyes. "Oh, yes." I cried out. They both are OLeo, aren’t they? OLeo and Zechariahs seemed greatly relieved that I had understood that my desire for another power animal had created the lighter, brighter one along side of OLeo. As we laughed together I was shocked to see row upon tight row, like a golden field newly ploughed, lions stacked as far as I could see to the horizon. I turned to Oleo and Zechariahs and asked, "Are you offering me all of these?" "No, you already have them available to you."
As I swallowed the enormity of this concept, I asked if they had any help for the person who had eaten her power animal. I got a brusque and hard warning to stay out of her business with her animal. I returned to the other world slightly chastised but feeling very good, cared for and rich beyond riches.
After discussing our journeys and drumming for people who had asked for help, Jan again told us she felt it was time for us to meet the four elements. At first I was shocked because it never would have occurred to me to address such powerful beings. But while I was still feeling this I knew I wanted to meet fire. I guess I must have said what I was feeling, because Jan began explaining that yes, we really needed to have our power together, but the elementals had much to teach us and that if we were reverent enough we would be safe. She suggested that instead of each of us picking an element that we should all go to the same one. Because it was raining so hard the roof of the cedar house was drumming, she suggested we go to water because it should be the easiest us to hear.
This time Ursula drummed for us. I always enjoy her drumming because it seems so extremely secure, timeless and completely reliable. By the time I got to the meadow OLeo was standing up waiting for me. He seemed really glad that I wanted to go meet Water – as if he was tired of my ‘wasting’ time seeing if he wanted to be my power animal. He seemed eager to give me the gift of this vision. His eagerness made me even more cautious so I called out to Water with a small hesitant voice. Water came toward me as trickle which I thanked for coming to me and gave words to my appreciation for the gentle introduction. That was the last calm second of the vision. In an instant the Water rose up on my left and passed through me toward the write (right). I could see the water in everything in the room in which our bodies laid in the dark. The Water flowed across me, through the fibers of the carpeting over to Jan’s body, out of her to the couch, to the next person. The Water moved though the house, the land, across the continent, through the ocean until I could see the whole planet with Water moving around it like wind passing through a forest. The Water began revolving so fast that little tongues of fire began to dance at the edges of where water entered the solid things.
I was delighted to see the fire, but told it I felt I was not yet ready to meet it. The swirling Waters receded from my vision, taking with it the fire. I wondered if I had now offended both elementals but that thought was interrupted by the whoosh of a huge figure spinning directly toward me. I was too stunned to do more than just watch as out of this storm of wind and water appeared an older woman. I do not know why I thought of Her as old because she was capable of spinning and dancing with such incredible force and speed. As I bowed She grew as big as my sight could encompass. I was not afraid of Her because I felt such love streaming out from her spins. As I watched and absorbed Her like a thirsty earth I could see Her even better and realized that she was dancing and she was dancing to me. Her movements were each an invitation to me. The love She offered was one second sexual, and the next second simply unconditional acceptance. I felt the love of a child for a mother and the attraction of a lover. I felt the love that wells up in the sight of beauty. The love that comes from awe. The low love that comes out of needs. The love that overtakes everything leaving no room for thought or even feelings. Just as I was ready to throw myself into her bewitching arms, I heard the drum rhythm change to call to return. I blew Her a kiss with open arms and turned to return to Anchor Bay. This was the first time I had ever stayed on a journey to the very end of the drumming and I came back filled with wonder and excitement wondering what would have happened if the drum had not called me back at that second.
December 28, 2001
Last night, just as we were doing the supper dishes, the phone rang. It was Roberta reminding me that the drumming circle IS the last Thursday of the month. I had totally forgotten about it because I missed last month. We were still having the storm of the day and the wind chimes clanged and rattled so I knew I was going.
After my first session with Kaye I had been slightly disappointed because there had been so little ceremony and so much information that came off of papers of photocopy. Still, I had learned so much that I was not unhappy – just wishing for a bit more interactive spiritual stuff. I do not know if it was the season (the time of ridding ourselves of old baggage), or if Kaye had planned the sequences, but this time she pulled out all the stops. The room was already very carefully prepared for us when we arrived. Not only had she made the circle with special inventiveness but the very air seemed to be vibrating.
Only Michelle came out of the darkness to join us so we simply had the four corners. Only I did not realize this in the beginning. The three of us were sitting on the couch facing Kaye in her rocking chair. Fairly soon Roberta slid to the floor to face the southern corner. This left Michelle and I at the east side. After a while I found I was not listening to Kaye but looking at the various objects on the blankets. While the candle was very enticing, what really attracted me was the long stone grinder. As if receiving a kick in the butt, I knew I had to slide down to the floor and scoot around to that side no matter how much I regretted disturbing the others in the circle.
My second surprise was when two of the women said they never felt guilt! One person said she had felt it maybe two or three times in her life. My eyes must have been falling out of my face, so she explained that there had been a few times she felt something and wondered if this was guilt but each time decided that, "Nah, this couldn’t be guilt. She didn’t need this." The other woman said she used to be consumed with guilt but she had learned to love her guilt. Instead of hating the feelings that she felt guilty about, she had found a way to embrace them, to love them. This allowed them to rise into her life completely and then float on away above her. Instead of stuffing the unwanted feelings back into herself, so she would not have to feel the guilt, she let them out and sent them off with love and thanksgiving. This emptied instead of compacting her area. Because feeling guilty added to the unhappy feelings which were making her feel guilty which was making more guilt the negative stuff only increased. By loving her past, by loving herself for her past, by loving herself in the present, she was now able to love herself more completely because there was nothing of her actions that she rejected or hated.
The other woman and I looked at each other with open mouths. Neither of us wanted to admit to what we had to say: that we felt guilt almost every moment of every day! My Goodness! was it really possible to live without this barbed wire wrapped around everything, every impulse, every action? With this idea came the realization that no one can make us feel guilty. It is something we do to ourselves. Others can have opinions about us or our behavior, they can say whatever comes to their minds, but each of us alone decides whether to take it as something to grow guilt on.
A couple years ago I had gotten the idea that I really wanted to be ‘bad’. I wanted to practice being bad. Problem was: I did not know what to do. I even discussed this with a couple of women friends and found out that they, too, did not know how to be bad. One person suggested not returning telephone calls as doing the baddest thing she knew to do but the rest had no suggestions at all. I realized that we (especially women) simply did not know how to be bad. Some tried to get a better understanding of what I meant by "bad" and all I could come up with was to not do what I thought people expected me to do. The conversion ground to a halt because only I could determine what I thought was expected of me which probably in many cases had nothing to do with the expectations of others.
This morning I see that I was not really looking to be ‘bad’, but was seeking a method of giving up my minute to minute guilt. I felt that if I could accept ‘true badness’ in myself, that somehow I would feel better about who I am and could stop responding to what others thought of me. But I see that what I really was wanting to do was to get rid of guilt! Well, what a job before me! Not only can I examine how others have controlled me by manipulating my guilt buttons, but I have myself to watch because I suspect that much of my life I have used the same blunt weapon against the dear old one I am. It should be an interesting day!
I was at a conference in China that was meeting in a fancy hotel. Many of the actions of others and the customs were foreign to me so I was constantly having to rethink the appropriateness of each decision. It seemed that instead of attending meetings or hearing lectures, I stood in line most of the time. Every activity was preceded by much more time of just waiting to get to it. As the conference came to the end, I realized that the people I met in the lines, the things we talked about while we waited had been more valuable than any lecture or demonstration.
As we were packing up to leave, the message went out that we were expected to clean up and sweep after ourselves. My room had been very small and it took only seconds to run the broom over it. But I did not stop at the door. I began sweeping the hallway, also. Again there was a line of people queued up to leave, but instead of getting into the line, I continued to sweep the floor. I carefully swept around each person’s feet, asking them to step aside so I could even sweep where they stood. I was being extremely thorough and was rather proud of myself, in a small way, for taking the most proper action. As I got to the end of the hall it opened up onto a bowling alley. The floor there was littered with popcorn, bottles, papers and scorecards. A couple women were just standing together off to one side. As I started sweeping this huge place with a broom that seemed to get smaller and smaller I noticed that they were only talking, not sweeping, and it hit me: "Why did I feel I needed to sweep this huge room when no one else was?" I set the broom in a corner and walked resolutely away from it. A couple of people tried to call out to me (I think) to tell me to get back to sweeping but I just smiled and walked on.
As the group threaded its way toward the tour buses I noticed I was walking beside my mother. She was smiling very broadly and I said to her, "You must be feeling very happy because you accomplished so much at the conference." For a second I felt as if someone had spit into my face when she said, "That was because I refused to stand around in line like you did."
As she said this, a wire fence came between us so I could see and hear her but the grid was too fine for her to touch me. The enclosure I had stepped into wound around so I was lead off in another direction. I realized that I saw her comment as one which would normally be guilt- producing in me and that I already had my ‘defence’ in place and I was safely being lead away from that manipulation.
December 26, 2001
I cannot believe I did it. I cannot believe that I could ‘take that much time off of working’, have that much fun with opulence, give myself up to receiving so much joy. For two days all schedules were winds that come from other directions. I successfully closed my eyes to working waiting and just sank into the pleasures of being showered with goodness. A couple times, when I went from one pleasure to the next, the little voice within would pipe up with "do you realize how close this month is to ending?", "have you even thought about Lynx yet?", "you could start working on those book reviews today" or even "now you should write a thank-you to _______________ or __________". Steely hearted I would instead, wallow deeper in pleasure as answer.
I filled my ears with the motets of the Anonymous Four over and over hoping I would get tired of church music. I kept the Christmas lights on all day (it was dark and dreary enough with the rain and threats of rain) in a stubborn will to consume electricity. I read as long as my eyes would let me. Richard Brautigan’s An Unfortunate Woman, which I was afraid would be a bummer, being his last novel, but was greatly surprised how journal-like it was and how much there was for me to learn from him. Instead of working in clay I read the photos in the book on raku as I planned new pots and sculptures. On my desk stood the many brand new tools just asking to get to work but I stayed in by the warm stove to just let myself dream in long banners of helpless thoughts. By evening I was ready to travel, get out, go somewhere, so I read the Reisefruher to Alhambra in German and looked at a feminist calendar from Japan which had Fumi Saito’s picture in for April.
At dusk I sat and watched the lights and birds on the inside Christmas tree change in colors and form as darkness sculpted them. I nearly put my shoulder out of joint whisking Buddha’s new fur butterfly through the air. He showed such gratitude for his store-bought toy I began to think that the three dollars I had paid were easily worth all the happiness he seemed to get from his gift. All day he carried it around with him – the bell jingling as he laid it at our feet while his used his tail to tap on our legs in command to play. He completely ignored the toy I had made for him and even steeping it in cat nip had not made the stuff he knew interesting.
Between showers we did get in our walk in a soft gentle mist that seemed to have more spring on its mind than winter. The only neighbor I saw was an iris blooming. Even the ocean was flat and still as if it was tired of winter storms and high surf.
We had planned to do a Japanese dinner to try out our new chopsticks, and placemats, but when it came time to do all that preparing of foreign foods, we chickened out and had left-over turkey, leeks and celery. Surprisingly this year we got no cookies, no baked gifts, no candy or other temptations, so it was easy to be good! – at least in the kitchen. Werner was pleased with himself for getting in four hours of drawing but I had only a small, calm decadence on my side of the balance sheet.
December 24th, 2001
I got up early to have time for all my prayers by candlelight, to have the quiet alone time such a day needs as grounding and basis. I am determined to not let myself get caught up in drama and emotions, to be able to refuse to perform as others expect me to do, to do just what I like and what I to do. Yet trying to make others happy is such a part of my holiday equipment. And I know by evening how futile it is. I cannot run from Christmas, but I must find my own wells of happiness for myself in it and let the rest go. Wish me luck! and I wish each reader here success with finding another day of happiness in this time of such great potential.
I have decided that I want an inside tree – cat or no lion. If he tears it apart I shall have enjoyed putting it up. I will not be taking the life of a whole tree – only pruning some branches for a vase, but there will be lights on it and balls and birds and my happiness trimming it. So a big part of my day I am giving to this pleasure. This is my Christmas present to myself. One part of me wanted to just go to the garage to work in clay, but I realized that today is very special and the clay will wait for me while I take some lessons in celebration.
At dark we will open the few gifts, mostly boxes and envelopes with foreign stamps on them, under the tree I already see in my mind. I see I am already in my future.
with the speed of light
Do what you truly love today. It’s the best one you’ve got! Have a holiday filled with blessings. And if so inclined, Have a Merry Christmas!
December 22, 2001
Today I am recovering from the Solstice party at Kaye and Kim’s. What a great party! The heavy rain storms on Thursday seemed to clear out just in time for a dry spell on the Solstice, but by afternoon the misty drizzle was moving back in on us. Still Kaye and Kim had prepared a huge bonfire which they had lit at 4:52 (Solstice sundown) with a flint. In the wet air the light and warmth of the fire at 6:00 o’clock was even more welcomed. As we circled the oldest kind of fire, six persons drummed, a flute was played and rattles seemed to coax the sparks up into the white column. We had orange stars in our misty sky that rose on stairs of smoke. As our feet drummed against the soggy winter of earth we knew our land was being watered – taken care of for the coming year. Kaye did the invocation, by asking us to access our ancestors who had stood around such a fire, to invite them to join us, to allow ourselves to return to their times. Then she talked about the trees which had given the energy of their lives for our fire, light and warmth – how we were to take that fire to pass it along by sharing our lives with each other. Also she offered thanks to the trees still living around which purified the very air we were breathing. The warm moist air did seem to come from another mouth in the night. We shared our breath-blessings with the trees as we fed them as they fed us. The rain began to fall more densely and people’s shoulders hunched up against the onslaught. The master kiln man took a burning branch from the fire to carry it into the house where it was added to the round glassed in wood stove in the center of the holiday decorated room.
After shedding our wet coats we sat in circle pressing the room’s walls with 26 backs. Kaye passed around a bundle of dried sticks so each person had one. Then she passed a hank of pieces of black yarn – again one for each. She talked about the sticks we were holding in our hands saying that there were parts of ourselves we no longer needed, which needed to pruned away, which we were using to protect the green and growing parts of ourselves. These brittle, dried parts needed to strip away and this was the time to give up old memories, patterns of thinking and belief, and expectations. To do this we were to take the yarn, to tie a knot in it for each time someone had hurt us. I found this very hard to do and really could not think of one who had hurt me in the past year. I was glad to sitting in a small corner where no one could see into my lap and the unknotted yarn. Then we were tie more knots in the string - one for each time we had hurt someone else. Now I was able to add more knots. But as I pulled each knot tighter, I put in a prayer for me and that person to forgive me. Then we were instructed to tie the yarn to the dead twig. To this we also tied the addictions, the false thinking, habits and patterns which we wanted to be rid of.
Then she passed out pieces of green yarn. On this we were to tie the blessings we had received from others and more knots for times we had been a blessing to others. Here I ran out of yarn as it got too balled up to be tied to anything. We were not to tie this to the branch, though. Kaye passed out Chinese wish papers with the gold squares to pay the gods. On these papers we were to write what we wanted to have fill up the space where the behavior we asked to leave had been. You could feel a shift in the energy of the room as people went from thinking of old hurts and sadness, to blessings and good that had come to them, but when they began to ask for gifts the expectations of Christmas flooded the room. As adults, instead of writing letters to Santa Claus, we were asking the Universe for the things we wanted! And we felt that we deserved them! The joy and excitement was palatable.
These pieces of paper were rolled up and tied with the green knotted yarn. A little girl, named Jade, had a bottle of rose water with which she had been playing. Suddenly she began to tip the bottle to wet the cork which she pulled out and pressed to people’s faces. As solemn as a priestess she bravely went from person to person. As she made her way around the circles some held out their papers of wishes for her to perfume. Then, one by one, each person knelt before the fire and fed it first with their dried twig. When it had taken fire, the roll of wishes was sent up in smoke also.
Wisely, Kaye knew we needed to filled with something at that point because we had given away so much. She brought forth a jar filled with green willow branches. These she passed around with the instruction that we were take the branch home with us, to put it into the ground where we felt it would gladly grow. It was so important to her that we replant the twigs, she offered that if anyone had no place for a tree in their life, she would plant it on her land. Then she told us a little story. That afternoon when she had gone to creek to gather the branches she had cut all she needed. As she was walking away, she had the feeling that perhaps she needed a few more, so she walked back to a new place to cut them. When she looked down she saw on the ground a long black thing. Picking it up in her story and now before our very eyes, she held up the sheath for a sword. We all wondered, at first, why this was out along a creek and why it had come to her. She explained the constellation of the planets are in a formation that they were in 2,600 years ago and would not be like this again for another 2,600 years. It was time for us to sheath our swords, not to study war anymore, to pray for peace. She handed the sheath to each of us for us to put our prayers for peace on it. As we were doing this three women started to sing a song they happened to know of asking that the warriors on the earth for peace so the nations could come together and the earth could begin its healing.
By now, the smells of foods warming in the oven and crock pots were inviting us to the next phase of celebration of being human. It is always amazing how people can bring parts of a meal and when it is all together a complete menu is laid out. There were chips and dips, tiny individual quiches appitizers, chili soup, big quiche, rice and veggies, sliced ham, green and fruit salads, corn bread, French bread, cheese, nuts, wines, eggnog. A complete feast. A feast complete with belly dancers. Two women tied on filmy scarves, put on their finger castanets and turned up the stereo. At first they danced to each other and then went from person to person with the gift of their dancing. As the plates grew empty and were stuffed in a garbage bag on the porch, little groups formed as like interests found liked persons.
At this point the party threatened to splinter into the potters, the drummers, the dancers, the class on native religion and and and. We were rescued by the white elephant. The circle reformed quickly and eagerly for this part of the evening. Each person had brought, wrapped, a gift received and not wanted for the exchange. Slips of paper with numbers on them were drawn from a bowl and the rules of the evening were laid down. The person with number #1 would pick a gift from the pile and open it. Then it was #2’s turn. That person could either take a wrapped gift or ask to have the gift #1 had. The person who had to give up the gift could either unwrap a new one or ask for the gift of any other person (except the one who had taken the gift from him). As more gifts were opened there was a wider selection of gifts to choose from. Person getting gifts they wanted would try to hide them, pretend they didn’t like them – in any case, not get attached to them! Persons who got weird things – like the wire clothes hanger covered with ruffled pink and yellow net, a sack of tea bags, or a strange paddle-shaped thing that seemed like mammogram device which none of us had ever seen – would wave them enticingly in the air. One woman stretched out seductively around her present – a thing to roll newspapers into logs. At first it seemed everyone wanted the salad tongs with huge green, leaping frogs as handles. What household could exist without the image of frogs leaping into a salad bowl? Among the laughter at the ugliness and strangeness of the various gifts, were the howls of dismay when someone had to give up the frog tongs. For a while, a lovely ethnic dress was hotly contested. Only when Bea modeled it and it fit her so perfectly in size, color and style no one had the heart to take it off or from her. One package had been labeled "for the Disco Queen". This was taken by the (female) minister of the Methodist Church. Judy spent the rest of the evening trying to get rid of a silver blouse and horrible rhinestone earrings and necklace. When it was Kaye’s turn to ‘shop’ the gifts, she stripped down to her tank top, tried on the blouse, put one of the huge earrings like false teeth in her mouth and danced for us. A CD of The Chieftains had emerged and Kim was shouting for her to "take the tape" (she wanted something better than the ‘fridge magnets she was stuck with). The CD went back and forth until only the jewel case was available – someone had lifted the CD! Still it was a hotly contested item. Then Cindy opened a suspiciously big box and found in it, of all things, a paper cutter! Was it broken? Someone gave her a piece of newspaper. The whole circle counted as she slowly and dramatically made a trial cut. It worked! "Is there blood on it?" someone shouted. No, the thing seemed in perfect condition. Cindy knew she would not get out of this room with this gift but she fought hard to keep it. The couples ganged up by taking each other’s unwanted gift so they had a chance at the paper cutter. Kim was still wanting the CD but Kaye went for the paper cutter. Then Amy and Chris got it away from her and she took the CD again from someone else. I was #23. When I stood up, Amy had her arms stretched over the big box protectively. As I looked at her, she hissed like a cat. I hissed back and walked toward her sideways, hissing and clawing the air. Her eyes were stricken like a trapped animal but bravely she fought on to keep her prize. Just then I glanced down and felt a great sadness from Kaye, I could physically feel her wanting that paper cutter with every inch of her being. Without thinking or asking I reached into her lap and scooped up the CD. Amy was amazed that she still had the paper cutter and in that same second Kaye realized she could take it! And she did. Amy gave it up weeping and howling which only added sparkle and glitter to Kaye’s prize. Michael was the last person and did not need a paper cutter so he took the necklace Don had gotten and kept all evening. Don got to open the left-over gifts – a truly ugly ball point pen and a billed cap printed with gaudy fish. By now our faces were hurting from smiling and laughing. Those who had gifts they refused to carry home, began to hang them on the tree ( not cut, but had blown down in a storm for the occasion). Kaye disappeared with the paper cutter, Kim put my CD on the stereo. We knew this party would soon change with the arrival of more instruments and the exiting of those having trouble keeping their eyes open. And this is when we went out into the rainless dark.
Continue reading at:
December 30 - 22, 2001
December 20 - 10, 2001
December 9 - 1, 2001
November 30 - 11, 2001
November 9 - 1, 2001
October 31 - 21, 2001
October 20 - 11
October 1 - 10, 2001
September 21 - 30, 2001
September 11 - 20, 2001
September 1 - 10, 2001
August 22 - 31, 2001
August 11 - 21, 2001
August 9 - 1, 2001
July 31 - 26, 2001
July 25 - 18, 2001
July 17 - 11, 2001
July 10 - 4, 2001