Archive for the ‘Writing’ 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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SanTana’s Fairy Tales

Neither Sarah or I can remember where we met. A bar? A literary event? Las Comadres meeting? Regardless, I’m proud to call Sarah Rafael Garcia a friend. She slept on my couch right after I moved out on my own and she returned from a walkabout through Australia. She taught me how to live frugally at a time I didn’t know how to be anything but comfortable middle class. We organized and gave book readings at schools, stores and universities. We started Wild Womyn Writers. I was one of the first writing teachers for Barrio Writers, an organization she started. Sarah went on to gain her MFA (impressive) and then she won an artists’ year-in-residence (wow!) to gather Mexican American community-based narratives to create contemporary fairytales and fables. I love having creative, smart friends!

The culmination of this research, writing and organizing skills occurred last Saturday at a literary event called SanTana Fairy Tales in Downtown Santa Ana that included an impressive collection of local visual, musical and performance artists, bilingual single-story zines, a fully illustrated published book, an ebook, a large format classical book with graphic art and interactive ipads. The exhibit will be up at the CSUF Grand Central Art Center through mid May.

For me, this performance brought to life the different experiences of the devastation and sorrow of becoming obsolete and marginalized in your own hometown. On display were excerpts from the collection of fairy tales, graphic illustrations for each story and central in the room were parts of the carousel that was taken down to make room for gastropubs and other hip businesses that would attract urban youth.

I was mesmerized by the carousel horses, the marque letters spelling “Fiesta” (the “s” is missing) and Aztec artwork that had once adorned the quaint carousel. I never rode the carousel but I have always adored it’s mythical quality and seeming permanence as the very fabric of this Hispanic community.  I remember seeing the carousel for the first time while driving home our live-in maid Rogelia. I was twelve. The image was so clear with the fruit stands and men in their large vaquero hats and huge belt buckles, I included the scene in Rogelia’s House of Magic.  Now that the carousel is gone there is a gaping hole – as if there is still a ghost of its presence. “Vas a ver, first the carousel and quinceañera shops, soon los fruteros, and one day it might be us!” – SanTana’s Fairy Tales.

The event began with a monologue from a circus ring master in which she attempted to win over the crowd for the revitalization of the “rundown streets of Santa Ana.” Her wicked laughter and the jingle of coins in her pocket gave her true intentions away. The next performance was a haunting instrumental while two children wove in among the crowd as if they were crossing the border, or perhaps just crossing town, and afraid to be caught. The following song remembered the first trans who was murdered. Other fairytales included the woman who refused to move her house for the traintracks and the young vato who painted a mural, a vision of oral history honoring the Mexican American veterans, which provoked the mayor to understand the difference between public art and graffiti.

My takeaway from the event was a deepening of my humanity and pride for la gente who hold onto each other and keep their stories alive despite the powers that are tearing down their safety and cultural cornerstones. I’m so proud of you Sarah!

I Finally Did It!

They say my Santa Ana Canyon, early Californio ancestors were “Born to the Saddle.” Before I left Orange County, I was determined to touch the horizon that dominants the skyline: Saddleback Mountain. My ancestors and this land have lived in me as a River Beneath the River, always guiding and affecting my life. It is my destiny to record their story in the grandest novel I could conceive.

I planned the hike for Spring Equinox, the day my youngest son turned 18. It was a day to claim freedom and stability. When I heard the NFS was dynamiting historic dams and prohibiting access via Holy Jim Falls, I found another way. We hiked out of Blue Jay Campground – a 28 mile roundtrip with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet, vs 16 miles from Holy Jim and a 4,000 ft vertical climb. I made myself forget how far that distance actually was.

Two miles of climbing later, I pulled out my phone, looked at the map and had a truly spectacular hissy fit. It was too far. What were we thinking? Why didn’t we go the other way? Joey tried to help which made things worse. Slowly I pulled myself together and we started to walk again.

We passed through a pine forest and the scent lifted my spirits, along with the vibrant yellow primrose flowers and the shiny brick-colored manzanita bark with white flowers that look like tiny beads when they fall on the decomposed granite path. The blooming white sage and  century plants infused me with endurance. And then around a bend, I saw Santiago Peak. Tears came to my eyes. I was filled with such a fervent desire to stand on that mountain. The wind blew in the bucolic ranchero era that lives in me so deeply, so passionately. The ancestors and this land gave me the strength to push onward. I couldn’t think. I was like an animal, simply aware of being aware, walking mile after mile: 11 miles the first day, 17 miles the following day.

I told Joey the story of the young boy who cut a hole in a cocoon to help a butterfly that was struggling to free itself. The child did not know the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly had a swollen body with shriveled wings and would never, ever fly.

I have long struggled living on a land that does not coincide with the freedom and natural beauty that I see when I close my eyes and look inward through the memories of my ancestors. Though I love this land so very deeply the struggle is over and I see things as they are. In three months, I am moving where wildflowers grow, rivers run and stars speak and I will write a tale of family and land inextricably woven together.

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.

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.

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