Archive for the ‘wanderlust’ Category

The Land of Fey

The Land of the Fey (or Faerie) exists anywhere magick is taken as fact above fiction. In these mystical places I so adore, serendipity, mystery and connection reign as high truth.

As we flew over Ireland, the Emerald Isle, I shuddered in delight and tears filled my eyes gazing down upon the carpet of green and craggy shoreline. Myths have been born here and exist as more than fables or stories with little bearing on the world today. The lore and magic that has been passed down through the centuries has been carried like the Holy Grail Itself.

I wanted a wee bit of Irish faery dust and leprechaun luck to bless me and keep me good company. Many years ago, my Priestess Connie de Masters gave me a light from the Goddess Brigid’s Sacred Flame. One of her students had come to Ireland and held a lighter to this flame igniting the sacred protection of the Patroness of Ireland and brought it across the Atlantic. I carried this open flame in a 7-day advent calendar from Connie’s home and lit the furnace in my home with the sacred flame.

I no longer have that flame that represented all of Brigid’s power of fire to forge smith tools and craft, divine poetry to ignite the heart and gain wisdom from the deep wells of inspiration and healing. However, a week before my departure to Ireland, I was gifted with a Brigid weaving from Julie who had attended my class Womyn Meet Death where I paid homage to Melinda and our beloved on the Other Side. I carried this weaving and a bottle of blackberry cordial (Brigid’s herbal ally) in my suitcase for a very special offering.

Our first night in Trim’s Kiely Bar proved to be an auspicious start. The next morning Joey drove us to the Sacred Hill of Tara. It was on this soft, mounded, grassy knoll where a huge rock stood. In Ancient Celtic Times, men vying for the right to be King competed in many daring feats of strength. They had to be strong and good – but only if the sacred stone spoke their name when they touched it would they be deemed worthy to take the crown.

I placed the weaving at the base of this stone and poured a libation of cordial on it. I could feel the magick pulsing.

We the visited the Hill of Ancient Ones and discovered spiral carvings representing the Goddess, a wishing tree with ribbons waving from every branch, and a splendid cemetery with moss covered tombstones.

IMG_3033Just steps away, we happened upon a bookstore where I found a book called Tending Brigid’s Flame written by Lunaea Weatherstone, who was once my teacher for a yearlong study in sacred sisterhood. We then found the gallery of Courtney Davis. I sat before the altar set up in the shop, lit a candle and wrote down a wish. I held the small piece of paper with my wish to the flame and release my desire to Brigid to fulfill. I was particularly fascinated with a painting of a Raven in the center connected to Goddess Brigid, Kuan Yin, Kali, White Tara and Corn Mother – all Goddesses who have called to me. The artist told us about the sacred well less than a mile away and gave us two small bottles to fill with the blessed water. We made our way down the path, through the iron gate and up to the dark pool that rested in a cave-like opening. I knelt down on the stone and reached into the pool to fill the vials.

Guinness and other pub adventures awaited us in Galway and the Aran Islands (a most lovely place untouched by modernity, including street lamps). Magick graced us once again when we came to the Dingle Peninsula and drove the breath-taking Slea Head Drive in the Wild Atlantic West. We experienced breath-taking cliffs, crashing waves, epic sprays at least 30-feet high against rocky outcroppings and sites that have stood since the Iron Age. The first of these was a Fairy Fort.

This sacred site, most likely misunderstood by most, which I say because the draw seemed to be a two euro purchase for pellets to feed the nearby sheep, consisted of a circular hedge of Hawthorne bushes surrounded by a moat. Hawthorne is believed to be the bush that marks the entrance to the Land of Fey: that magical, mystical place where the warm light of Twilight suffuses the air with golden tones and faeries alight upon the air as glitter in a perpetual Midsummer’s Night Dance. This spiral of Hawthorne hedge was clearly fairy-built. In my mind’s eye, I could see faeries dancing in wild abandon along the thorny rows in a spiral dance and upon the hedges with something of a burlesque flair. Or at least that’s how they make me feel.

The moment I stepped foot into the ring, a rock turned my ankle and I tripped into the Hawthorne bush where a thorn pricked my finger. Blood entrance. The faeries knew a believer had arrived. Soon after I found a bright magenta foxglove (also known as fairy fingertips), my favorite color.

We journeyed onward and soon stopped in a bookshop where I bought a book of Peig Sayer’s stories. Born in 1873, Peig lived on Dingle Peninsula until she married onto the Blasket Islands where she became a storyteller of legend. My finger tingled after purchasing the book: a sign that the Fey were pleased with my honoring of the lore and lyricism of the peninsula.

We ended the scenic drive at a tour of Dingle Distillery where we toasted the Fey & Bridget with a supremely delicious, caramel-tasting whiskey, the first independent Irish whiskey made in over one hundred years.

In Ireland I found the magick I was seeking.  I define magick as nature speaking to me of beauty and connection without logical understanding, leaps through time and space and assurance that all of life belongs and is accountable to each other.IMG_3031

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I Came to Ireland to Meet You

 

I pulled my sweater tight as Joey and I walked the dark, narrow streets looking for a place to grab a pint. Thirty (or turty if you’re using the Irish accent) hours without sleep but I made it to Ireland: the first European country to call me in with its joviality, magic and fierce loyalty.

We passed the Kiely Bar and laughter exploded from inside. It was the sound that I had come for and it caught my fancy

like a faery to a fire ring. But shyness overtook me and we kept walking. I looked back at the laughing man painted on the side of the large brick building and felt a tug as my heart and soul wanted inside. The cold, wet wind blasted and a light rain fell as we circled the streets of Trim, County Meath. We came round again to the Kiely’s Bar and the mirth tumbled out as a couple exited and shouted back to the locals inside.

I didn’t hesitate this time but pushed open the door and entered the small pub where about five guys of varying ages stood at the bar. The crack of a pool game resounded from the back of the house. Joey ordered a Guinness for me and a Smithwicks for himself. I left for the toilet (Irish word for bathroom) – and delighted at how the aging floor dipped quite steeply – a taller person would have to be careful not to bash their head on the lintel.

When I returned to the bar, a behemoth of a guy had his arm slung over Joey, my quiet, mountain man. “Do you like to sing?” our new friend asked. I laughed.

“You’ll have to forgive my brother Mark here. I’m George,” A smaller version of the good Irish man leaned over to shake our hands. “Mark thinks it’s his job to make everyone feel welcomed to Ireland.”

“That’s right.” Mark grabbed the Smithwicks out of Joey’s hand, slammed it down on the bar and held up a full pint of Guinness. “Don’t care if you like it or not, mate. You’re drinking Guinness as long as you’re in Ireland. Not that fucking Smithwicks.” He stuck a cigarette in his mouth and waved at us to follow him with Joey’s new beer. “Come on then, I need a cigarette.”

Joey smiled at me and laughing we followed the pied piper with the Guinness in hand to a large outside patio. James with the pointy chin, hook nose and missing teeth where the perpetual cigarette dangled and Kilkenny Ed, a man with a genuine smile and honest eyes, joined us. For some strange reason the cigarette smoke didn’t bother me as we huddled around a bar table.

 

“It’s black going in,” Mark held up a beer for a toast. “And black coming out. Sláinte!”

“Sláinte!” We chorused the Irish salute to your health.

“Do you sing?” Mark asked again.

Joey shook his head no.

“You will,” Mark put a hand to his chest and belted out an Irish tune, more like a story and with his round face and open blue eyes, Mark became a modern-day, drunk, affable bard.

George beat his cigarette lighter against his beer glass as if it were a bodhran. “We used to have a shite band. But it was the craic!”

After a few more tunes and a lot more Guinness, paid for by the locals, we told the boys of our travels while in their country. “Ask anyone about Mark Watson when you get to Aran Islands and they’ll know him. And when you’re in Galway go to Mc Cambridges and ask for Tara, that’s Kilkenny Ed’s daughter.” Kilkenny Ed smiled broadly and said something in a strong accent I couldn’t understand but tried intently to decipher. “I love how she’s trying to understand, Ed. But not even I know what he’s saying most times,” George said affectionately to Joey. The Irish men had this respect for our relationship not often seen in America. “The Kilkenny cats wouldn’t fight with us, but we like Ed okay here. Everyone loves Ed. We’ll be highly insulted if you don’t say hello to his daughter.”

I wrote the information down on a napkin certain I wouldn’t remember the details in the morning. James wrote Souvenir from Kiely’s Bar, Trim on a napkin and handed it to me laughing. Kilkenny Ed recited his wisdom several times which I took down but still don’t know if I truly got it right: Always nice for nice, because you can’t take it and you can’t sell it, to a fault.

Mark grabbed hold of Joey’s long, goat-like beard and gave it a tug. “I’m not gay or anything, but I just had to do that. Come on now, what song will you sing with me?”

“Whiskey in the Jar!” I shouted. I had taken Joey to enough pubs and festivals stateside to know he had heard this song a few times.

Mark nodded and we all began to sing. Even Joey.

“What brought you all to Ireland?” George asked when the song was over.

“I came to meet you,” I replied.

Between me leaning forward and my eager brown, Bambi eyes as wide and round as a deep well, my answer may have been too much. Brothers Mark and George Watson brushed me off like I was a little crazy, and James shook his head. But Kilkenny Ed looked at me sideways with his bright blue eyes, mumbled something endearing I couldn’t make out, then he lifted me in a bear hug clear off my feet. And I knew he understood.

 

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.

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.

Dreams Come True at the Oregon Country Fair

Sometimes a highly anticipated experience can surpass keen hopes and dreams. Gratefully the Oregon Country Fair did just that. For nearly ten years I have heard of this free-spirited three-day extravaganza and let my imagination roll around, wondering what could make people sigh so contentedly when they thought of their days on the fairgrounds.

IMG_0640A road trip was in order. Our first stop was to visit my dear friend Ann in Upper Lake. We ate delicious calamari and wings and listened to jazz at the Blue Wing Saloon and perused her new store Upper Lake Mercantile where I traded my pottery for a beautiful recycled rug – perfect for camping… or should I say glamping.

IMG_0600Rambling through the Pacific Coastline we stayed next with Sageman Drums Familia – Kris, Jimmy, Althea and Finn in the Avenue of the Giants – surrounded by ancient redwood forests, ripe blackberries bushes and such amazing good friends and people.

IMG_0605We found Oregon campsites perfectly suited to our needs, bought local jam and rose quartz (definitely for glamping), ate local fish and chips, drank local beer and eased our way into Cascadia – a bioregion in Pacific Northwest, social movement and vision for a country of compatible, open, ecologically focused people. After five days on the road we set up camp at Elfen Wood campgrounds just 1,000 yards from Oregon Country Fair and took a nap in the hammock.

IMG_0678Oregon Country Fair invites you to be the kid running pell mell down a hill with your arms flapping or trying out cartwheels for the first time or dressing up like a cupcake or a tiger or a tree.FullSizeRender (7)

This buoyant open-hearted pulse vibrates through the entire grounds and forms a circle of protection for loving kindness. Its three days without hearing a sharp word spoken surrounded by hundreds of joyous people. Even or maybe especially the babies and kids emanate pure bliss and delight.

IMG_0675IMG_0674There is just so much to see and do with parades, meditation centers, yoga, sacred altars, vaudeville acts, belly dancers, ecology booths, tanning workshops and many stages and alcoves with performers of spoken word, ecstatic Kirtan, hip hop, classic violin, live drumming, rock, funk, on and on it went. The crafted work from pottery to jewelry to glasswork and metal work is so yummy, so dreamy. Joey absolutely spoiled me with treasures. And the food was so tasty and full of flavor.

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My absolute favorite moments: trading The Wicca Cookbook for a t-shirt from my inspiration Jen Delyth, creator of the iconic Celtic Tree of Life, and when a girl of 11 or so screamed with sheer delight for her friend who juggled 14 times – absolutely thrilled for her friend’s success. Where else do you find that kind of support – but at Fair.FullSizeRender (6)

Here you feel your bigness and truest oddball self and know deep acceptance. This full expression of being opens possibilities of how to be in everyday life. It’s so tangible, so real that all the drive home I imagined stepping into the Light of My Greatness all the way home and was greeted by an email inviting me to Faeland Festival in New York. That’s what I call an
answer from the Universe.

IMG_7133“She’s an Artist. She don’t look back. She can take the dark out of the nighttime and paint the daytime black. She’s an artist. She don’t look back.” – Bob Dylan

Artist is a coveted word among creative people. Those driven to make things – whether books, music, pottery, painting or clothes – reach out with irrefutable courage and a sense of wonder to answer the call to play. For it is Divine inspiration speaking through and to us that allows us to create. Our lives and unique perspective carve the holes and chamber of the flute, the Divine is the wind. Our creationjamie5s are the byproducts of making love to our Muse.

It’s a vulnerable journey – to be an artist. We dive in, turn ourselves inside out and present our expression of the emotions and visions we feel and share this with the world. In my resolution to fully claim myself as an Artist, I turn to my dear friend Reem Khalil for inspiration and audacity.

Reem designs eco-friendly clothes, including the dying, cutting, sewing and merchandising of her line Refined Bohemian which she shows at festivals. She’s always growing, adding new designs and this year she expanded to include 2-D mixed medium art. Her booth at the Sawdust Art Festival is a cross between a museum and a fashion able boutique. This is how she makes a creative, juicy living.

Reem has her struggles like all of us, but she never seems to doubt herself as an artist. Some people hold a limited view of being an artist – you are only an artist if you have no mundane jobs and every single one of your bills is paid through vastly creative products – you are only an artist if someone important recognizes you as an artist – you are only an artist if you have maintained artistic status for a decade or more, etc. Reem busts through those incomplete and inadequate judgments and emanates the pure joy that comes from playing with the Muse. Period.IMG_0492

Her childlike enthusiasm and open demeanor draws a tribe around her that supports and encourages her work. I can only assume that most of us draw inspiration from her in the process of selling one of her exquisite bamboo vegetable dyed skirts. Her thirst for an ever-expanding creative lifestyle is unquenchable in equal measure to her ability to share and elevate her beloved to artist status whatever their chosen endeavor.