Do you remember the first time you saw a picture of a unicorn?
Maybe it was one of those pre-Raphaelite remakes with a lovely woman cradling a unicorn’s head in her lap (no layered symbolism there!) or a cartoon in which the unicorn shoots rainbow hearts out of it’s horn. While part of you said “not real,” another part of you said, “hmmmm… wonder if they eat apples?”
There are many kinds of belief. There’s the belief of your mind, a form of believing which wants to be rational and absolute (the brain refuses to remember that it can be faulty or manipulated). The mind wants it’s truths clear, precise, known.
Then there are the beliefs of the heart, soul, or body, none of which are tied to the mind’s rationality. Dreams, shamanic journeys, intuitions, and our spiritual beliefs fall into this second category.
This dichotomy is the difference between what I think of as your daylight mind, which logically navigates the complexities of the modern world, and your nighttime self, which knows life is softer and that shadows are multi-layered. Neither form of belief is “right” and both are valid.To live wholly we must find balance between the two in the same way we balance light and dark, inhale and exhale. (more…)
Australia is burning, Puerto Rico is quaking, the polar icecaps are melting, and koala bears are reportedly headed toward extinction.
What can we do when the madness of the modern world overwhelms its magic?
We can seek kinship.
Rewind to a cafe in Ireland. There’s a pot of tea on the table, three of us are deep in our mugs…
…. and I’m bemoaning the lack of goddesses in the Old Testament. (more…)
“Rule number one: Don’t be an asshole,” I announced.
Two hundred people tittered and my teaching assistant hopped up to write Don’t Be An Asshole in big letters on the white board.
In the past few years, the conference I taught at had become a force for social justice issues. The inadvertent side effect was that leading a class there had become a bit like walking through the Fire Swamp in The Princess Bride: one wrong word could erupt a deadly geyser of virulence, and once there was an eruption, it was tough to get the class’s focus back on topic. “Don’t be an asshole” was meant to give me something to point to if I misstepped, a tool to help me get the class’s attention back: “Oops! I broke the first rule. I’m so sorry,” or “hey, remember the first rule?” It was a way to get eyes back on me. What I didn’t realize was that it would quickly become a mantra for the weekend, with people leaving my class reminding each other “Don’t be an asshole!”
We all have assholic moments (even if you meditate, do yoga three times a week, and center and ground daily). The more stressed we are, the greater the chance we’re going to erupt. (more…)
It’s the time of letting go, the season of releasing.
No longer held tight to branches, leaves swirl and twist with new found freedom. At night, the owls whisper of winter; the earth sighs and exhales after a season of productivity…
As the year winds down, we face both forward and back, like the Roman god, Janus. We gather the harvest of the year that’s been—seeing to fruition the things we’ve put into motion—while simultaneously peering into our own becoming, beginning to plan what will be.
This time is in-between, balanced between past and future.
In Ireland, we celebrated the close of the year on October 31, called Samhain in the Celtic tongue. While ending the year now makes little sense to the modern mind, the farmers of old had just brought in their crops and laid in their stores for the winter. The time of life and growth was ending, and winter, the time of death and incubation, was coming. (more…)
It’s all about to change.
The crows are congregating in the side-yard spruce, screeching and cawing after a summer of stillness. The echinacea is drooping in the front garden, vibrant pink petals tatty and tired. Early autumn is a time in-between: the days are still warm but the night breeze begins to whisper of winter, smelling a bit like a promise and a lot like freedom.
I sync my steps with the outer world, harnessing the power of the shifting light and the changing leaves. Take me with you into whatever’s next, I whisper, as I lay out my own transitions like the first-day-of-school outfit, smoothing the wrinkles and adding a dash of unexpected color. Through the hot days of summer, I’ve planned these evolutions so I could be ready for my own migrations when the first V of geese crossed the evening sky.
After a decade of weekly blogging, I’m ready for a change of season, a next phase, an end, a new beginning. I’ve been nurturing these seismic shifts all summer. (It’s been kind of fun to secretly hold a mini-earthquake in my pocket, deciding what will remain stable and what will get shaken lose.) I’ll get to that, and the fabulous possibilities change has created for you, in a just a moment. But, first, a quick story (cause that’s what our Sundays together have been for): (more…)
“How does the story end?” she asked. “Did you heal yourself with herbs?”
My number three wish, right behind ending world hunger and luring a live-in masseuse to my lair, is a life that’s that simple.
Like so many people who get involved with “alternative” healing, I started this crazy and glorious journey— a journey that, over the years, has defined every aspect of my life— because I was sick. After yet another doctor stared at my bloodwork in confusion, I decided to take my first (desperate!) step into the “woo-woo” by making an appointment with a naturopath. From there I began exploring the wilds of the Manhattan wellness community, cavorting with homeopaths and energy healers, acupuncturists and, yes, herbalists (all modalities which are now more “normal” to me than pharmaceutical medicine).
While herbs were part of my healing, they were far from the totality of it… But that wasn’t the part of the (above!) question that hung me up. I got stuck on the phrase “did you heal?” (more…)