Maia Toll
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):

A teacher is much like early autumn: a bridge between two ways of being, a portal, a cross-roads guardian pointing out pathways and pitfalls.

During the autumn of this particular story, I was teaching my first Foundations in Herbalism class. My outline was done, supplies were on hand, handouts were ready… but I still had no opening gambit, no hook to draw everyone in and turn eight strangers into a team that would learn and explore together during the nine months to come. What doorway could I offer into this amazing world where flowers had names and trees whispered their musings in dream-time? How could I open a gateway big enough for this entire class to step through?

I thought back to my classes in Ireland, my time at Sage Mountain, to festivals and gatherings and celebrations…

… And it came to me: I would lead an opening drum circle!

(Stop groaning! From the distance of time, I’m well aware that this was an incredibly horrible, and even horrifying, idea. I had only recently learned to clap. Yes, as in “clap your hands.” That thing that every three year old does naturally but I did like a rhythm-less juvenile elephant. But at the time it never occurred to me that going from Baby Clapper to Master Drummer was a huge leap.)

On the morning of the first class, I set the chairs in a circle and a blanket in the circle’s center. I laid out herbs, flowers, rocks, crystals, and, of course, a basket of rattles and tambourines I’d purchased just for this moment. By my seat sat a huge drum, also a recent purchase. (HINT: if you have to buy the drum, leading a drum circle is most likely a heinous idea!)

I surveyed the set-up feeling a rising sense of panic. It was like I suddenly woke up in the wrong bed… or the wrong house… or maybe even the wrong planet. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized I didn’t actually know how to drum.

What the hell was I doing?

Luckily, I was saved from disaster by a student who regularly led drum circles and was kind enough to take my self-inflicted predicament seriously. Opening circle achieved, the class went on to have a fabulous year.

It took me a while to give away the tambourines and the rattles and to admit that banging the mother-drum just wasn’t my thing. There was a deep longing in me to connect in the way that my teachers had connected, to plug in through the vibration of stomping feet and rattling gourds. But that wasn’t my doorway.

I connect through the vibration of voice, through story and sharing the words of the soul.

We can only open the door to which we ourselves, by our nature and being, are the key. This has been my biggest lesson as a teacher: to simply show up, as myself, and open the door. We can only open the door to which we ourselves, by our nature and being, are the key. Click To Tweet

But like any gatekeeper or guardian, I’m also aware that there are many ways in. And sometimes I want a new perspective, a new way of seeing our world.

So at this time of new beginnings, I’m opening a new door (and to do this I need to close some others).

This will be the last of the weekly Sunday Tea emails. This particular offering will move to a monthly format; I’ll pop back into your inbox on the last Sunday of the month.


You are cordially invited to join me in my newest venture! It’s called The Night School: a (FREE) solo study program that delivers tasty morsels of magic one email at a time.

The Night School

If you want to continue to get the now-monthly Sunday Tea email, do nothing and I will see you in a month.

But if you think you might want to come play with me at The Night School, click here for more info.

Big Hugs—

Maia Signature