Archive for the ‘wanderlust’ 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.

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.

Local’s Guide to Mammoth

“The Mountains Are Calling and I Must Go”

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Photo Credit: Giuseppe Vicente First Snowfall 2015

These words by famous explorer John Muir greet the traveler upon entering Mammoth Lakes, California. Nestled in the Eastern Sierras, about 35 minutes south of the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park, Mammoth Mountain is a world-class winter wonderland. This quaint alpine town at about 8,000 feet in elevation boasts a world renowned ski resort, more than 45 restaurants, live entertainment and plenty of cold weather activities such as, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, sledding and ice skating. Here are several insider tips on how to enjoy winter in Mammoth Mountain like the locals do.

Food & Drinks:

  • Groceries: If you didn’t bring your own food and need to plan for dinner, snacks etc…remember there is only one major grocery store in Mammoth, so plan ahead. Locals know to get to the store before 8am or before the slopes close at 4pm—and Friday’s steer clear if you can—as they are as packed as the SoCal freeways at rush hour. Natural food can also be found at Sierra Sundance Whole Food Market.
  • Coffee: Stellar Brew and Natural Café serves up fresh roasted coffee in a cozy, homespun atmosphere. They make foods from whole natural ingredients (including vegan and gluten free) and sell local crafts.
  • Breakfast: Good Life Cafe offers delicious comfort food that tastes like grandma made it.
  • Lunch: The Latin Market on Tavern Road offers the best authentic and inexpensive burrito in town.
  • Happy Hour: Locals favor the Outlaw Saloon for their weekly appetizer specials and pro game watching. Slocums offers reduced appetizers and a collection of signature cocktails.
  • Friday Nights: Most locals frequent Roberto’s for tasty Mexican fare. The chips are made from flour tortillas and are incredible fluffy and tasty. Upstairs sports a great view. Across from the north village and tucked downstairs, Clocktower Cellar has a great beer selection, 160 different whiskeys, a pool table and foosball table.
  • New: Bleu offers wine and craft beer tasting and an exquisite menu of farmstead cheeses, grass fed and wild game meats, sustainable seafood and freshly baked artisan bread.
  • Hidden Gem: Tom’s Place, located 20 minutes south of Mammoth, has been a local’s favorite for nearly 100 years. The setting of this fishing hot spot is rich with crusty character(s).
  • Beer: Mammoth Brewing Company offers a steady supply of staple and seasonal craft beer, made on-site, often with hops grown nearby. Growlers are half-off the first Wednesday of the month, and you can bring in a growler from your home town and have it filled up here.

Hitting the Slopes:

  • The locals get to the Main Lodge by 8am, to ensure a close parking spot, which doesn’t require lugging yourself, equipment and crew aboard the bus and you get ahead of the traffic both coming and going. It’s best if you can park at Chair 2 or 4 for the smoothest time.
  • The Mill at Chair 2 is a great spot for a quick snack or drink or just a chance to just rest and put up your feet.

Activities:

  • Sledding: The best free sledding can be had at the top of Deadman’s Summit off Hwy 395, just north of Mammoth Lakes.Woolly’s Ski Park is located on Highway 203 on the right heading to the ski resort that features a heated deck, tube lift, adult drinks and snacks.
  • Ice Skating: The Mammoth Ice Rink is awesome for outdoor skating.
  • Snowmobiling: Ride through the trees with either Snowmobile Adventures or DJs at Smokey Bear Flats.
  • Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing: Tamarack Lodge is your connection to experience the serene beauty of alpine lakes and ancient forests.
  • Gondola Rides: Check out stunning views at the summit of Mammoth at 11,053 feet.
  • Live Entertainment: The North Village features live music and a packed schedule.
  • Hot tubs: There is nothing better than soaking in the natural hot springs created by ancient volcanic activity. Check out themaps for directions. Be certain to be respectful of others in the tub, park a fair distance from the tubs and clean up after you leave.

Transportation

  • There is a free bus service to transport you throughout town running every 20 minutes throughout the day. There are five different bus lines with different stops and the hours vary depending on the line.
  • Driving to Mammoth: From SoCal, the least expensive gas is at Fort Independence, just north of the city of Independence, even includes a casino run by the local band of Native Americans. If you are traveling south into Mammoth, fuel up at Topaz Lodge. Highways 120, 89 and 108 are typically closed all winter. Road conditions change quickly, so be certain to have chains with you this winter, and know how to put them on as the chain installers may or may not be working. Have water and non-perishable food in the car as well. Drive 20-30 miles an hour in snowy conditions.
  • Flying to Mammoth: The airport is conveniently close to the city of Mammoth Lakes and easy to navigate. Make sure to check weather conditions as the plane will not land if the wind or viewing conditions are too severe and will return back to your original destination.

Dave Mc Coy, who turned 100 this year, brought his portable tow line to Mammoth Mountain in 1941 and opened the first chair lift in 1955. Mammoth now has more than 150 named trails and 28 lifts (includes 9 high speed quads, 2 high speed six-packs and 3 high speed gondolas).

A Long Walk Home

20150723_100417I’m climbing to the top of that mountain,” my daughter Ali said, her bright blue eyes staring fixedly at the peak. Inwardly I groaned, knowing that I would be hiking alongside her if that hike is what she wanted.

This specific peak would give us a breathtaking view of the Sierra Crest and a panorama of total wilderness without human habitation anywhere in sight.

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But I had been part way up that mountain and I knew it was daunting. Plus, I am in the process of deciding whether or not I like climbing mountains. I tend to find the thrill of talking about it afterwards with a beer at camp, more exciting than ascending or appreciating the view. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but in my defense…. we did have a bitchen camp spot.

Since we had driven fourteen miles into the back country and not backpacked, we had luxuries such as a hammock, an EZ Up, coolers with ice, a solar powered shower.. it felt like frills of a high end hotel that we had all to ourselves surrounded by trees and wild open spaces.Ali and I flowers

But as I don’t see my girl often enough and must cram all my loving into a very short time, I led the way to Funnel Lake along a flat dirt road, easy and peaceful. 20150722_181129Beginning at 10,300 feet elevation, the uphill trek starts with a steep incline just passed the lake through a forest of piñon pines. So although your lungs begin to burn within five minutes, at least there is shade. Then comes the fully exposed slog through the talus field, where rocks that you thought were stable give way and you slip, like a cartoon character running in place and have to catch yourself, sometimes grabbing a black sagebrush or tiny juniper for stability.

“We can do this!” Ali said with the determination of a marathoner. About this time I started calculating how much older I was than her and making excuses for lagging behind.

I was carrying the backpack when Ali’s water bottle dropped. I watched it tumble down the 20 feet I had just climbed, “No!” I cried pitifully. I scooted down the rocks to retrieve the bottle and ripped open the pocket of my pants. As we scaled the bigger rocks, I gained on Ali and the poor girl had a view of my tush for the remainder of the climb. Not the day to gIMG_0038o commando.IMG_0034

Finally, after a 1,400 ft climb in about three-quarters of mile, we bagged Crystal Peak. We then admitted how often we had thought about giving up but didn’t want to let the other one down and laughed. Both of us were determined the sign the little piece of paper Skyler had signed last month. With big smiles we headed downhill for our beers.Ali

Twenty-four years ago, I opted to move to Chicago with Ali’s dad after college graduation rather than travel solo to Europe. Ali had been born three days prior to our first date. I always attributed this decision to a strong desire to heal the karma circle of an absentee father – I wanted to make sure her daddy stuck around, unlike my own. But since my assessment was off, I always felt deep regret for not crossing the Atlantic in the summer of 1991.

As Ali and I toasted each other back at camp, I realized with the awareness of a thunderclap that I skipped out on Europe for a totally different reason. I was meant to have this daughter, this beautiful young woman in my life forever. We were fated for each other. It was her all along. Now we’re planning a trip to Spain.. not sure how many peaks we’ll bag, but we will find the perfect tapas bar. Maybe we’ll even get some writing in.

Ali & I MaskedAli and I sitting