Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

The Sisterhood Lives

img_0883She thought transformative was too big of a word to describe the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium.  Now Mom understands that “transform” barely covers the metamorphosis that occurs with symposium sisters after four glorious days supporting, accepting and loving each other.

We all arrive in Laytonville tired from the journey, maybe even a little grumbly.  Some of us travel 14 hours to get into the woods on Black Oak Ranch. But for those of us who have been here before, we know it’s worth it. img_7357

We have come home to the sisterhood and are ready to have our burdens lifted. We long to breathe clear air into the stress around our complaints and concerns from the outside world and make room for more love. We fuss a little over where to set up the tent or how best to arrange our sleeping bags in the tipi but know it will all work out in the end. We just have to get out of the worrying pattern.

img_0845Mom and I arrived at noon and schlepped our sleeping gear, my books and pottery from car to tipi – getting to those 10,000 steps easily. I wanted Mom to step into the independent woman I knew her to be and honor her as Crone as well. After 40 years of teaching this was her first September not in school. I felt anxious how best to hold her up while leaving space for the sisterhooimg_5174d to empower her AND carve out time to share my teachings, receive support from my friends and revel, just a bit.

Thirteen of us shared a tipi with some personality conflicts and snoring that would just have to be overlooked. That first evening it’s almost difficult to imagine how we can possible shake off the discomfort, set down the masks we wear and allow our own unique expression of the Divine Feminine to shine forth.

The transformation usually takes a breakdown to have the breakthrough.

Mine began as I prepared for my class Womyn Meets Death, which I created based on the experience of walking beside Melinda Listening Deer in her last year of Life then losing her. I was terrified of doing this wrong, not honoring Melinda “enough” and felt inadequate to teach this class. I was teaching on Melinda’s birthday. I set myself an alarm, giving myself 30 minutes to feel whatever arose and dropped into sacred space to read through some of Melinda’s 13-yimg_6303ear-old emails that she had sent out Grove Mother during our sacred year as The Sisterhood of the Willow’s Magic. As the tears flowed, a mama deer and her fawn encircled where I lay. Melinda’s presence was with me.

And yet I still asked Reem to walk with me to the class site. She hugged me and told me I’d be okay. Pilar found me and gave me the notes I had forgotten, but asked her to bring, then forgotten again. Mom walked by as I set up the altar and gave me the thumbs up. Tiffany stood in the back of the assembled 40 womyn and smiled proudly at me. Even Kris walked on by.

And I began. “We all stumble around death and grief.” I looked down to the picture of Melinda. “I’m not so much teaching this class as holding space for a sharing and ritual around death. We all handle bearing witness to dying and death so differently and each deserve dignity for our process. We have done a great job reclaiming our right to sacred births and now it’s time to reclaim a sacred death.” Then I passed around a tincture called Emotional Ally and Rescue Remedy.

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I shared this bumper sticker with Melinda when she went bald after chemo and the tumor had started to protrude from her belly. I shared it at ritual and how Melinda started going out bald in public after this .

It went around a few times while Copperwoman sang Goddess is the Universe, my new favorite. I swear every single woman had tears in her eyes at some point in the next hour and a half. “That’s okay!” I said during the creation of the Earth Blessing Pouches that we would later keep on the altar or scatter to the earth like ashes. “Mama Earth Loves Your Tears!” We shared stories and infused holiness into the transition between Life and The Other Side.

It was so beautiful, so empowering. I eased into my Living a Magickful class for teens, not really thinking too much about it until I was before seven teens, most of whom couldn’t look me in the eye. How could I get and keep their attention? I spoke of the magical connections related to the four directions and gave them four examples of issues they could possibly be faced with and four herbal allies. I told them they would only get to take one herb – one problem at a time. “One day, your issues will have issues.”  But to nail down the point I had them add their birth year, month and day and reduce to a single digit then read from The Enchanted Diary about the lessons that will follow them throughout their life. I asked the girls if they would want to take on all seven archetypes. No? Okay, only one herb. I’m a bad ass teacher with teens.

img_0882At night the bone-fire blazed higher and hotter. Each time I danced around the fire, I got a little looser, a little freer. Apparently this gave my mom permission to get a bit more of her boogie on. She was on fire!!! “Vivas Las Crones!” she hollered at the ceremony.

I sold an amazing amount of books and pottery. So grateful for the support of my img_0869new art form. So incredibly grateful my books still sell. Tucked away in the tipi was the first print out of Melinda My Beloved, A Memoir. My first book in 8 years. I will now write a chapter about the experiences of symposium and the sisterhood that lives on.

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Terrapsychology: Gaia Speaks

Room to Be Wild Part 2

coyoteImagery

As a child, a reoccurring nightmare was to find myself in a white room of padded walls bound in a straightjacket. My crime, they said, was that I did not understand the difference between what was real and what was imagined. I could not be trusted to behave or keep my tongue and so I was shut away. In essence, I would not be tamed. I was scared, always so afraid in this dream that I could never find ground. Every effort was spent on reminding myself that I was okay and I had not lost my mind. Sometimes the dream would morph into the trickster Wiley E. Coyote who tried to catch a ball, a symbol of solid knowing, but just when he thought he had a good grip on the ball it would slip from his fingers, circle all around him, return to his grasp only to slip away over and over again all through the night.

About this time I read a book called The White Mountains in which tripods had taken over the minds and will of all people. The main character awakens to his individuality but must keep this knowledge of his true self hidden from the electronic impulses that the machines used to control the people, as in the ancient figure of the Golem, until he could find a reliable escape route. This book further embedded a fear of becoming programmed and the loss of self, both wild and free.

oc before spanishBy the time I was a teenager I developed the suspicion that the current Orange County culture was suppressing the heart of my wildness and individuality. I remember asking my best friend if she thought I was an authentic person or whether I had succumbed to an asleep, sheeplike mentality – the true zombie apocalypse. She said I was about as unique as I could be given where we lived. My gritty, earthy personality eventually turned to a search for my Native American roots. I was dismayed by my conquering Spanish blood and wanted to find something that felt more real and deeply connected to a rock solid core that indeed connected to all life and the goodness inherent in the world.

Then I met Uncle Jimi, a Tongva spiritual leader, and he invited me to an Ancestral Walk, where the people of the Tongva and Acjachemen tribes held ceremony at several sacred sites along the Orange County coastline. We began at the ancient site for the village of Panhe, tucked into a beautiful valley where a crowded state campgrounds lead into what was now a world famous surf spot. As we stood under the shade of a tree waiting for the rest of the people to arrive he said, “We are so loved by Our Earth Mother that she will continue to provide and give her love no matter how far away we, her children, drift from her. She will always provide this shade,” He pointed to the canopy of leaves with a large hawk feather that was wrapped in leather and decorated with beads. “Her love is unconditional and forever.”gaia

This imagery of being shaded by an omnipresent tree with deep roots that offered protection and love throughout eternity regardless of how far away I strayed endeared me on a very deep level to the spirit and soul of the land. But it wasn’t just a matter of this particular parcel of land. In that teaching moment, I understood and felt the power of Gaia as a sentient being in love with her children. Just like a mother’s arms will hold firmly around her children even as they thrash about trying to discover themselves and their place in the world, so too does Mother Earth hold us. In that moment a deep desire and commitment to be worthy of that love was planted in my heart, almost like a chivalrous knight who would earn the honor of performing on behalf of his fair lady. I would apply the best of my skills on behalf of the Mother who was bestowing me and all beings with such lovinthe-giving-treeg affection, sustenance and protection.

This image of a tree aligns with The Giving Tree, a classic childhood book and one of my favorite stories. There is a young boy who loves a tree and she loves him. He scrambles and plays all around her as a child. As he grows older he visits the tree sporadically and mostly to take from her. But she is always loyal and gives whatever she can, changing form to suit his needs. She remains completely dedicated to her beloved until in his final days when he returns to her and recognizes the love that never left. I find great comfort in the stability and solidarity of the tree and I unified in love and a deep sense of family. I am drawn to tree lore and the stories of them as standing people. They are my guardians, my friends, my family.

(And for those who are listening, you will hear Gaia speaking to you even in your dreams – it’s called terrapsychology.)

Room to be Wild Part I

Homework Assignment from Deep Storytelling and Archetypal Activism: Sketch out the issue to be addressed, describe how it has spoken to you imaginally, outline the response this calls for, and mention how such a project could transform you and the issue.

Derby Playhouse production of  A Midsummer Nights Dream.   ©Keith Pattison 5 Swinburne Place Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 6EA tel/fax 0191 2610884 mobile 07703 560871 vat no 605 6235 59 e mail:  mail@keithpattison.com

Derby Playhouse production of A Midsummer Nights Dream. ©Keith Pattison

PART 1

Our culture has lost its wildness. On the whole, we have lost the ability to feel the unfettered freedom and sense of belonging of a well-loved child. We have made nature dirty and a fearful place to be. And in doing so, we have squashed the most free-spirited aspects of our innate feral nature and in the same fell swoop cast ourselves outside of this veritable Garden of Eden. Without our wildness, it is difficult to access emotional honesty because such rawness must be contained as a rule of a dignified society. We cannot allow for the impulsive, unpredictable puckish

behavior inside, nor without. We condemn those who would take to wanderlust or spend days just being in naturally wild places. We have desecrated wild lands by covering them with asphalt and shopping malls and squeezed out the coyotes and rattlesnakes to make room for another subdivision. This sterile, linear civilization has become the mirror to our own taming and created a fear-based, trivial existence.

Comfort Creates Apathy

Millais_-_OpheliaWhen we strive for personal comfort and convenience in favor of connection and community we develop an apathetic indifference to the downstream effect of our actions. We pretend that we can cut the cords to our collective soul both from our ancestors and descendants. Even though this separation is imagined and not real, it is powerful enough to make it so that we cannot hear the voice in the wind or see the wisdom of the changing seasons as metaphors for spiritual awakening. We forget that the world is in constant communication with us and seek only to control and contain the mystery. We no longer know the phases of the moon or signs of impending rain or grow our own food. We no longer remember the power of one person or one act of positive thinking or connect to the value of tribe. The loss of our inner knowing that we belong to a loving, connected web of conscious souls in various forms whose lone purpose is to adamantly live the light of an individual spirit has plunged our society into a collective madness.

Announcing Mother Earth Creations

I just paid for my very first application to sell my wares (Mother Earth Creations – a consortium of ceramic mugs and bowls, mug trees, Goddess jewelry, organic bodycare and inspired mosaic art) at the Patchwork Show in Santa Ana. As soon as the mugs come of out the kiln, I’ll be at Company of Angels at Waldorf School of Orange County with mugs and bowls. Over Labor Day weekend teaching classes and selling moon bowls, books at Joyous Organics at the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium.
Below are the moon bowls for the symposium. They are to rinse reusable menstruation pads. It’s been so long that I’ve watered my plants regularly with my iron. : ) But this is all about a return to Spirit, my Spirit. I’m starting to prep for teaching over Labor Day Weekend Symposium: Womyn Meets Death  all levels  all ages and Living a Magick-full Life  young women  ages 13-20 (more on that in an upcoming blog).
blood bowls
I’m a little nervous and feeling vulnerable about selling my ceramics. Pottery was just going to be a diversion – something to keep me busy. I was so depressed and sad that my writing was not able to support me and my boys. It was a death that I put in league with losing my dad, grandpy, divorce, broken family and the lost chance for reunion with my bio-father. But I absolutely need to play with the muse, so I decided to play with clay and get down and dirty with myself. And look what I can make!!
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I glazed 18 pieces today, trimmed a bowl and threw five mugs and two bowls. When I first started I was happy to throw three bowls in the same session. Now this diversion has become a true expression of artistry and a way for me to play with Creativity Muse. I’m super excited, full of hope and desire. I’m feeling really good about being an artist. Really fulfilled with juicy living.  What peace that wheel brings me!!IMG_0788
And now, the time has come to share my work, my love made visible. Joey made this mug tree from a piece of wood we found on a burn site in the Eastern Sierras. I burned the sigil from my Native Name that Melinda gave me: Dancing Butterfly That Soars on the Wind. That beautiful necklace is made of jasper and amethyst. Sets or mix and match mugs will be sold with and without the tree. How cool is that?!
And I’m writing, writing, writing. It feels so good to be crafting stories again. What a beautiful world.

Pennies from Heaven

gRANDPYI absolutely believe in the power and protection of loved ones from the other side. One of my most favorite Angels is my GraChicamandpy Joe who once again has reached across the veil that separates the living and wherever he is at to provide for his family.

Skyler wanted to go on a surf trip to Chicama, Peru, home of the longest left, but couldn’t imagine how to pay for it. I suggested we ask for donations in his graduation invitation with the faith that the family would rally for him. He just needed to pay it forward and trust it would come back. Our family is crazy, dramatic and above all loyal. I knew they would come through for him.

I didn’t expect to reIMG_0194ceive a call from Grandma Chris and two huge jars of coins that Grandpy had saved. He’s been gone more than 8 years and still Grandpy has found a way to give my son $240 worth of spare change for a change of air.

Grandpy used to call just to ask, “Who loves you baby?” There was a call and response routine. I would say. “You!” and send a long kiss. He would say “Caught it!” And then we would  hang up. That’s it. And I would be all warm and cozy inside, feeling loved and positively protected.

Sometimes there is just no way to deny how harsh life can be. How bruised and battered we can feel when dreams die, love leaves and work grinds out the joy. But when the angels reach through the clouds to help lift the load, I am reminded that life is but a dream and I will get through. All will be well.  I just need to look for those penniesSkyler Graduation Invite email from heaven and one way or another, they will come.

“Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven
Don’t you know each cloud contains pennies from heaven?
You’ll find your fortune’s fallin’ all over the town
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down

Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers
If you want the things you love, you must have showers
So, when you hear it thunder, don’t run under a tree
There’ll be pennies from heaven for you and me.”

Pennies From Heaven is 1936 American popular song with music by Arthur Johnston and words by Johnny Burke. It was introduced by Bing Crosby in the popular movie Pennies from Heaven.

The Giveaway

Over the years, my Cousin Elise has been more consistently true to her calling than most people can muster in a week. Of course, she’s wavered but she has never given up. It’s not easy to be a farmer and fight against giants like Monsanto and Western medicine. But she’s the Daughter of David and carries one HELLAVA slingshot.

image1I just spent the weekend with my cousin sista, helping her with the TerraVita Herbal Symposium hosted in Laguna Beach Canyon among luscious plants and happy good folks. Incredible teachers lead 15 classes that explored how our herbal allies can help with literally everything from anxiety to lymphatic issues to allergies to the libido and more. More than 100 people gathered to learn, laugh and love the natural world in new ways, discover more about product sourcing, take responsibility for our own emotional, physical, mental and spiritual well-being and empower ourselves and each other to live an Earth-centric lifestyle that calls for a peaceful balance of work and play.

I took a class on adrenals with Kirsten Hale and really got how much stress our current go-go-go society puts on our bodies. I mean its one thing to hear that stress isn’t good for you, but when you really hear the details of the parasympathetic system and how many tools we have at our disposal from breath to herbs, its a wonder we have normalized insanity to the point that we make it bad to feel anxious or sad or low. How we do not allow time for grief or integration. The class inspired me on my project towards my masters is Depth Psychology and workshop at the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium about infusing dignity into the death and dying process.

image1(1)We identified local plants with Joel from Naturalists for You during marketplace. So much medicine in our own backyard and we call many of these herbal allies “weeds,” as if that’s a bad thing. I helped Elise with an order form and was immensely pleased to watch the crowds of people clamoring for her Tulsi and Nettles from her farm, Oshala Farm. I helped her connect with my friend Dwight Detter, who used to work for Whole Foods as a local forager, and now has a consulting business, Food Centricity, to help folks bring their integrity-rich small businesses to the global marketplace.

Julie James’ class on memory, focus and attention will inform my Herbal Journeys column in Witches & Pagan Magazine with the science to back up the incredible benefit of using herbs on our bodies for heart, brain and gut health.

I brought my pottery to the public eye for the first time (in addition to the French translation of The Faerie’s Guide to Green Magick in the Garden) and donated the book and two cups for Seeds, a non-profit that:

  • Strengthen the minds and hearts of children
  • Enrich their education
  • Enliven their spirits
  • Develop their passions
  • Spark their curiosity

It was a weekend filled with great information that I promise to sleep on and allow for a full integration of mind, body and soul. Yum.

Rambling Roses

I had the best intentions of finishing that rambling road trip to Oregon awhile ago, but life, or perhaps I should say death had different plans for me. October is the end of the Celtic Year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and if you pay attention you can feel the spirits on the other side as the darkest time of the year prevails. With my best friend dancing with cancer for the entire year, I was walking the line between Life and Death – living large for me and Melinda, so I could come home and sit on her couch with my now bald friend and tell her stories of my adventures, so listen up friend….

bad ass cancer babe20150922_122839Joey and I left our wooden haven for Crater Lake and picnicked by the deep blue waters. (I ate too much cheese). Then we headed for the quaint town of Bend to visit Deschuttes Brewery, where we met a lovely couple who told us we must visit the waterfalls in Silver Falls. silver-falls-state-park

By the way, you get FOUR FREE tasters at Deschuttes (my favorite is Fresh Squeezed). We walked behind the falls and I grazed my hand on the wet rock and moss covered railings, leaning over to feel the mist. Fairies live here – spirits on the other side of the veil.

We shot out to the coast and camped in Newport with a visit to Rogue Ales Pub House. The boats creaked in the harbor, as salty as the characters in the bar. And the kimchi crab sliders were insanely delicious!!

20150923_174715We got fresh oysters in Coos Bay to barbecue at the family wedding on cousin Elise’s Oshala Farm, where Joey met another 20 or so of my free-spirited, gypsy relatives and see how very close this apple stayed to her roots. We stayed in a tree house in Cave Junction, about 40 feet above the ground.

IMG954100Oh yes, Melinda, it was a grand time. A few weeks later I went with good friends  to the Hollywood Cemetery in celebration of Dia de los Muertos. It was then I got the first real awareness that you were not going to be with me much longer and next year, I would be dedicating an altar to you. I just about lost it. So I wrote you a letter and told you how close to the veil you felt and asked you to give me a sign so that when you were gone, I would know you were nearby. We forgot to do that.

Or maybe neither one of us wanted to admit what it meant to have a tumor so big. Or that when it popped or whatever it did that the poison was now filling up your entire body. We made plans to go on a double date to Big Bear the first week of December. But you were too sick, so Joey and I went alone. I beat Joey in bumper pool and wanted to have you there. You never met Joey.20160110_124811

Three days later you went into the hospital, two days later home to hospice and two days later you transitioned to the invisible realm, behind the veil. Ah, girl, I miss you. You passed the same day as my father five years ago and again I await El Nino to mirror the deluge of my tears. I hope you felt honored with the ceremony I created for you. The day after your transition is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who has always been a source of comfort to me, and who has offered signs of her omnipresence for 500 years.Virgin Guadalupe

I recently looked up our text messages

YOU: Thinking of you and all I love and how I want to spend the rest of my life showing my love

ME: I hope you take decades

YOU: That’s the plan.

I still feel you, girl. I know you are here and I will continue to share my adventures with you, my beloved friend.