Maia Toll
Going Dark: Closing Doors to Open New Ones

Going Dark: Closing Doors to Open New Ones

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…)

Congratulations: You’ve Changed!

Congratulations: You’ve Changed!

“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…)

The Stuff That Scares Us Makes Us Whole

The Stuff That Scares Us Makes Us Whole

Seven years ago, sitting with my web designer at a sweet little restaurant (which no longer exists) on a snowy November evening, I proposed an idea.

At the time it felt like a big idea, one that would take a lot of energy and resources…

But I had a little tickle in my belly telling me I was on to something. So I tentatively laid it on the table amongst the sweet potato fries and warm beet salads. It was a program called Your Wild and Wonderful Herbal Year.

Yup, it was a mouthful. And while the name didn’t stick, the program did. It’s called Witch Camp. Now, my team and I excitedly plan our whole year around it, anticipating the lengthening nights, dry leaves, and spiced cider that announce its beginning.

“Witch Camp” began as an inside joke, or perhaps an insider’s club: the women who worked for me liked to say they worked at Witch Camp.

As we came together to create Your Wild and Wonderful Herbal Year, I started to hear murmurs from my team: “this is Witch Camp!” Eventually my web designer made a stand: I can’t get inspired to work on this program when the name is so boring. It needs to be called Witch Camp. (more…)

Hive Mind: Harnessing the Power of Community

Hive Mind: Harnessing the Power of Community

Moon Gatherings. Sisterhood Circles. Business Masterminds…

Can these get-togethers really make your life better? Or are they just another to-do on your calendar?

Let’s start with a resounding YES! (hear that echoing off tall buildings, short mountains, and bouncing off the rim of your coffee cup?). Being a part of a community can make your life richer and yummier. Simply basking in the glow of connection can heal a lot of hurts.

Each of these get-togethers serve different personal needs:

✦ Moon Gatherings are about ritual. They’re a joint space to set intentions and celebrate the cycles of the moon and the seasons.

✦ Sisterhood Circles are about being witnessed, heard, and held as you walk yourself through life’s more challenging moments.

But what if you’re feeling lost or confused or alone and want to harness the power of community to help you move forward? (more…)

Facing East: Becoming New Again

Facing East: Becoming New Again

One of the most beautiful lessons the natural world can teach us is that linear time is a human construct.

In nature, time is cyclical.

Around the world, people who know this use the symbol of the circle to show how time moves. Often times this circle is designed like a compass, thus combining the concept of time and place. The seasons are etched into the outer circle, while the inner circle— the center— is the place of spirit. This type of pictogram is called “wheel of the year” or, alternately, “the medicine wheel.”

You begin in the East where the sun rises.

You become in the South where light— that outward turning, always moving, yang energy— is strongest.

You learn to believe in the West, when you finally sink, like the sun, into yourself, coming to a bit of understanding.

And when the winter comes, when you curl around yourself like a wolf in its den, you face the North. Be still, the Earth whispers.

(Of course, all this gets turned on its head in the Southern Hemisphere.) (more…)

The Sumo Wrestler & the Tree: a Tale of Inner Peace

Forgive me if I’ve told you this story before; it’s one of my favorites and bears repeating:

A few decades back, I visited my Aunt and Uncle, who were working in Singapore. It was a long flight, first to Japan and from there into Changi Airport. My body was a mess of minor aches and twitches after 26 hours in the air.

My Aunt decided that I needed the yoga cure-all and took me to her favorite class, which was held on the cool marble floors of a meeting hall inside a Hindu temple. Four long woven mats were unfurled, striping the echoing space. We lined up on the mats, one behind the other, waiting for the yogi to take his place at the head of the room. (more…)