Solar Return Missive 2018

•October 30, 2018 • 1 Comment

As has been part of my solar return ritual for many years, I’m writing a sliver of the story of my year-past and sharing some measure of my learnings, intentions, and dreams in this missive. Forgive all the imperfections.

For those who would benefit from such kinds of caveats:  In addition, to some experiences of wonder, mystery, magic, and pathways followed, I’ll be speaking some of experiences of trauma, choicefulness about living or dying, systems of oppression, and terror.

***

Since last year I was too compromised by the convergence of trouble upon me, and low in all ways, and hiding, I did not share the story of that year-past.

So to contextualize, I’ll start this tale in the summer of 2017.

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It is June of  2017, we are all well within the TT (Trump-trauma), and I travel to Europe on my first ever visit to my ancestral lands of Poland and Croatia.

Such a bone-deep remembering, such blood-borne magics. The Tatras, the Velebits, the Adriatic, the songs, colors, languages, and smells. A revivance of lineage through walking, weeping, and wondering. A long awaited journey, necessary for known and unknown at the time reasons.

There was a returning, a clarity of location on the geo-genetic cartography. And I felt like myself for the first time ever in this life because what was dim within, was not in fact extinguished. It was able to be kindled, encouraged, called forth and home.

I saw myself in those people, I traveled in the dimension of whole time, I was in rite, I was free.

It was all that was lived in my body in Poznan, Jasna Gora, Warsaw, Morsko Oski, Krakow, Zagreb, Lika, Široka-Kula, Dubrovnik. It was all that helped me to imagine, re-member, conjure and anchor into my marrow.

And, I’ll share those stories another time, rich they are with magic and heartache. For now-

Upon a reluctant arrival to the divided states of reality, I was beset with such grief and rage, such a confusion and despair that I was bestruck and stumbling to make any sense of anything at all.

Fear. Everywhere.

Scarcity. Amnesia.

Othering. Hate.

A torn web of ancestral hurt resulting in and few clear pathways.

It was so different from what I’d felt on the backroads, and seldom visited shrines just so recently, and for those of you accomplished travelers beyond the prison of this particular bastion of empire, this is no surprise, but for me: shock. Full-body wrenching, magnitude gazillion, shock.

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I tried to find my footing as I felt myself on a precipice. I hadn’t at the time realized that I’d passed through the veil of ensorcellment, that my armour wasn’t back in place and that I was even more susceptible to the malady of anguish of the ancestral trauma. That which I carried, and that which inhabits the lands I have always lived upon- the pain is not more, but different, the severance from place and belonging, and the wound of non-attachment to the spirits of our peoples and holy places.

***

I slept-walked through August by splitting wood and looking at the photos of the places I’d come back from, rereading my journals, making an anchor for the pilgrimage in my heart and home. And,

I tried to think about and enact my livelihood. What could I offer? How do I do that in a good way, with understanding of oppression and economics, and in service?

I tried to be in relationship. To identify the anxiety in my body and make prayer and magic for understanding and relief.

Nothing was working.

I was trying to run underwater, and all my words were disappearing.

In other moments I felt caught in a fracture of worlds and times, overfull with cultural conditioning about the entirety of my being.

Nothing was right, no not even right, nothing was tolerable, yet I persisted, because I was no stranger to depression and I assumed this would pass, in not too long a time.

***

In September I began my practitionership with Dr. Daniel Foor in ancestral healing (lineage repair), as a member of the second training cohort. I felt soothed in this work, and in the company of my colleagues. There was a respite, a breather. Learning intensives can be as a buffer for me, a space to dive deep in, be unobligated to the daily delirium of the news cycle, and the woes of so much suffering.

I left the training feeling confident, competent in the skills I was learning, and committed to healing my bloodlines. The training and the healing work was a natural home for the magic of my pilgrimage to rest and keep hearth.

While still standing on the precipice, and still feeling the allure of gravity’s call, I also felt re-tethered into purpose or maybe meaning.

Since the methodology is elegant, and the template-a set of bones with which to flesh out my own magic, my own witchery, and my own practice, integrating the working into my life was easeful.

I began to clear and heal my own four primary lineages: my father’s father’s people, my father’s mother’s, mother’s mother’s, and mother’s father’s.

What I began, in earnest then, would be carried onward through the year, into this very day.

I found a voice in prayer, I discovered and confirmed blessings and burdens, I found well-in-spirit guides who wore the face of the well lineage behind them, within them, and through this, have reconstituted some of the powdery residue of my people into nourishing sustenance.

They shared vision memories, they gave me homework, they challenged me, showered me with blessings unique to my peoples, and helped me to contextual and integrate the various burdens of trauma-personal, familial, cultural, ancestral.

They wove, sculpted, shaped, and sewed, beautiful containers of healing for my lineages, those ones still unwell. Still defrayed or harmful.

We made and still make magic. My of-the-earth ancestors and I.

Certain mysteries from my pilgrimage began to align into patterns and sense-making ensued, and also, other mysteries remained.

And still I Long to Belong on this unsettling journey, of reconciling what my people have done, and how they have changed.

***

In October 2017, in the season of my birth, when all I want is to be with my annual ritual of reflection and renewal and then Samhain, I was immersed in other situations, was reckoning with hurts, given and received.

First, I was called out in an organizing group I was involved with.

I struggled and would struggle for weeks and months to sort out what my resistance to hearing, and to confront what was my fragility, and also what was the toxicity/woundedness of the complex situation which had nothing to do with me, except for me being the recipient of it. A face at which to launch the pain of a lifetime of being harmed by people who look like me. And I still have complicated feelings about all that and am still learning about the convergence of power dynamics/fragility-resilience/boundary calibration/call outs-ins/group fear/vulnerability-empathy.

As a white woman, embedded in the full-throated days of radicalization around marginalization, and the sometimes-unhelpful combativeness of identity politics, and while trying and sometimes failing to earn accompliceship, I was tumbled, reaching- grasping for guidance.

To this day, there is no one or right answer for those questions about parsing it out. There is no neatness, it is not tucked in, nor ought it be- only moods, only bittersweet curiosity. And gratitude to those who said and wrote what they did so that we can all keep learning about such matters of integrity, subjectivity, trauma-aware communication, choiceful mediums for big feelings, reproduction of patterns of oppression, and so much more.

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I also have gratitude for the multitude of counselors, friends, confidantes, consultants and the like for helping me to sit in the fire of it, and to see where I needed to grow, and where I needed to protect.

It is imperative that in any place of power-deficit (marginalization) or privilege (unearned power), we learn to share and receive in ways that allow the emergence of what will help to heal the painfulness. This necessarily brings up important and enduring questions about not policing language and tone and also about not using language and tone to wreck those who are authentically catching up.

Ah.

The exposure, the shame, the shedding of some other, next thing, the poison, the medicine.

While I was trying to find the path through painful befuddlement and learn from this situation fraught with so many layers, histories, social positions, and the loss of relationship with people I cared about, and a project I’d loved for over a decade,

#MeToo exploded.

In my face. In my cunt. In my guts and in my heart. It splattered itself across all the surfaces of my life with an unimaginable velocity and pressure. All the stories I’ve known, through friendships and just as living in this body, the ones through ten years of professional survivor advocacy work, the stories on social media. Everywhere-flooded.

Pain everywhere. Mine, yours, theirs, the world’s.

The Burning Times Never Ended.

I felt the earth jolt beneath me, and I remember looking at the clouds that day, I remember exhaling as the precipice cracked. A slow motion humming swirling soft-eyed focus as colors bled and there was only silence.

I was so open. I had been too open for so long, and it was as though the woe of the world had curled up inside my chest and the rumbling volcano of my rage was smothered.

And I fell.

It was slow at first; gentle, almost a relief from the chronic, looming anticipation.

I had thought my descent into the underworld would have been different, more like other times. More seemingly ritual-esque, more contained, more noticed.

But I’m beyond bleeding and magnitudes have changed in all the ways and realms of my me-ness.

And the days turned, the waters fell, and the companionship of the dark came earlier and earlier.

***

Last year I spent my birthday mostly alone, and mostly in bed.

I had fallen off the precipice and was in free fall.

The day after, someone who was a close friend until that day, and I, hurt each other. Hard. Not nasty or mean, but hard like any moment of schism shot as an arrow into a heart. I would have stayed, but I was told to go. I’d wanted to give what was asked, but all I could do was try to stay alive. The piercing brought paralysis, and immobilization, a dissolution of will.

I couldn’t see the edge of the known world, the falling hadn’t been broken, and now there was no use in trying to see, only to sense. I couldn’t do something they needed me to do. It wasn’t a choice. But it still hurt them. They left me. And that made the fall scarier. More vivid-textured.

And as a high functioning person, inclined toward autopilot when needed, and quite accomplished at masking the truth of my suffering to protect, and with the help of some skillful and devoted  priestesses, I offered a four-day intensive over Samhain. That afforde1028171218d a container to move some of what had me tangled and tormented.

I asked the ancestors so many questions. Yet, none of the answers were what I wanted to hear.

Radical acceptance was not in the room. Surrender to the mystery was but a lovely platitude, grating to my desire to not be in what was happening. I wanted vitality, solutions, community resonance, stable income, and truthfully, to be appreciated for what I’ve been trying to do before it was popular.

***

November blows in and the veils are so thin, and my ancestors, wise and loving, are revealing some of the burdens of oppression: peasantry and poverty, gender repression, fundamentalist thinking, scarcity and betrayal, disenchantment from the living world, forced amnesia of the old ways and ones, forced displacement, violation of the body, violation of the agreements, and so so much more.

There, in the holy dark, in free fall, on some unknown day,

I stopped responding, initiating, producing, organizing, convening, and really, to be honest, caring. You may be one of the ones with whom I simply stopped communicating.

If so, know that I’m sorry. It wasn’t personal. It still isn’t.

I feel terrible about it. Ashamed.

I tried. And looking at the volume of communication happening, I panicked. I gave myself to the fall because there was nothing to clutch. I had no words. None.

For the most part, I stopped emailing, planning classes, texting, returning voice messages, responding to requests and invitations and became a hermit. Actually, the word I settled on was recluse. And from the soft glow of my lantern house, I lent myself to the prayers for water, and in protection of those at Standing Rock, and asked my ancestors how settler and indigenous peoples will find our way to healing and common cause? To give me insights and understandings about solidarity, risk, conviction, and courage.

Mostly though, I was in duck and cover mode, and I did not want to be alive and wrestling with all this shadow- the collective’s shadow, my own, the futility and the complicity.

Was this cowardly to stop fighting and try to rest and regroup? Depends on who you ask I suppose.

As a lifelong learner, and as a channel for shadow learning, I was tired. Everything was a blur. Everything was reduced down to the sound of the rain on my roof for hours. All around me was strife, and a frightening parallel of undiscerning self-righteousness hell-bent on taking down anything which did not align with a purity. The cover-my-shame by calling-someone-else-out age was here.

Resignation. Bitterness. Cynicism. Extrication. I gave up.

***

I yearned to know what was happening.

Was this menopausal depression? Bipolar? Overwhelming ancestral recovery? Too many ghosts? Was this a rite of passage in a mythic underworld? An adrenal failure after living for forty-six years in a mad mad world? A capitalism breakdown because I’m overfull with mixed messages of how to ‘run my business’? A relative survival fatigue from social, economic, emotional pressurizing? Was I being tempered? To what could I cling to make any kind of meaning, have any sense of duration or responsiveness?

What was being asked of me? What was I willing to give?

All the guidance was to stay with it, and so I did, but I withdrew from life, and life withdrew from me.

I knew I was in the state of loss. Loss of what I thought was ‘me’, my magic, and then also, clients, employment, opportunities, and relationships. I didn’t want to ‘run a business’, I wanted to show up and make awesome spirit-spoken learning containers for cultural healing and regeneration, not fucking research marketing/analytics/web design/etc…

AAHH!

There is so much in here I could say about suicidal ideation, networks of care, hiding the truth from your family, shame, mental health discourse, ancestral grief, the great turning, isolation, dissociation, and more, and I think I’m going to bundle that up into an offering.

What rings true is that the big uglies all came, the demons: jealousy of others’ success borne of their unearned privilege, shame about falling off the edge and failing myself and so many others, fury at the hypocrisy and entitlement of those whose lives don’t include the kinds of suffering so many lives do, inadequacy from comparison about creative projects, despair for a feeling of obsolescence and lack of purpose, resentment of living in a time when my kind is at war with the beyond human, and a wicked judgementalism about it, a hatred of all that is unjust, and an apathy for any further action because fuck it, and what can I do anyway?.

Mostly though, I was numb. Fumbling my way through each day, grateful at the end for the blissfulness of unconsciousness.

***

December brought the Solstice Dream Temple, and four nights at the big waters with ritual and a group of dreamers and magic-makers. I felt… there and not quite present. I activated this annual gathering so that I might have for myself some of what was co-created. I did have some powerful dreams, and leaned on those dreams throughout the coming months.1215171626b

Powerful conversations were happening at my land project about unconscious oppressive patterns and behaviors. Here where I have lived for nigh onto eight years, the occupied and ancestral home of the Chinook peoples, we have two collectives- one for folk of primarily European descent and one for Indigenous and POC. We have struggled before and since the second collective formed, as white people to address racism, and in all other categories of privileged identity as well.

Could it be said that we are always trying to learn, and have made mistakes of all kinds-yes. And does the last four years of living in a cauldron of experimental cultural deprogramming and imaginative radical political spirituality require a willingness of presence and labor- yes. And, I could accept this for so long, rely on it, give it what resource and care I could. Yet in this time, this falling apart, metamorphic time, I was frustrated with myself, with all of us, with the seemingly never-ending struggle in it.

For struggle had ceased to be a source of inspiration. And not the kind of struggle which from which comes unnecessary suffering, but the kind of struggle which is in coming and going well, in toppling the empire and growing liberation in the ashes- the struggle for which I’ve tried to devote myself as an avowed priestess of the Great Turning. The struggle to give a living world to the ones yet to come.

That struggle felt fruitless. And all the moments in the hyper-local realm started to feel a waste, throwing my already diminished energy, into a singularity, a hole.

I went back to the Midwest for the holidays, to a place where it is safe to be angry instead of numb. Not at them, but at all of it. I performed or thought I performed ‘okayness’ because I didn’t want them to worry, not from such a distance. It was too hard to receive their love, freely given and always there.

Tight lipped, and short-fused about the predicaments of loving people who are far away, I came back to Portland.

Okay, I thought-I’ll keep trying, as more people in the know about my state became more concerned.

I pushed at and pulled for help.

I went to therapy. I worked with my guides. I listened. I was fraught with a now-panic about how much I’d dropped, how many people I’d simply left hanging- clients, students, friends. I just could not communicate about what was happening, and as someone with a wee bit of dexterity with words, I was beyond alarmed. I was wracked with shame, and terrified about what was continuing to unfurl as not new, but newly-boldly-visible hate violence. Standing Rock, anti-white supremacy demonstrations, queer and trans folk being hunted.

I could feel the reverberations even without being on social media which I had to abandon as a way of staying alive. Starkly, all the ways social media perpetuated unwellness, blinded me like sun on snow after being in a cave.

For twenty years, and especially in the last six, I had been building a life of service and livelihood through teaching, counseling, consulting, training, and priestessing. I was moving a little bit away from chronic poverty stress, and had courted and cultivated support for the offerings I was making. It was generative, and also unsustainable the way I was engaging it.

In this turmoil of the year I was saturated with a panic at the thought of not only ruptured relationships, but of having let an entire business erode through my silence and unwillingness to email, write newsletters, make facebook events, advertise, publish, beg, plead, and in all other ways sell myself in some perpetual state of hustle. The scratchy, insidious voice of internalized capitalism carving at my sense of worth by repetition of messages that I was forgotten, useless, behind, out, done. There would be no second act.

No! No! Cried some other part of me- the same survival anchor autopilot keeping food in my guts and my body out of the deep sea.

People who love me validated the crisis of commodifying ourselves over and over to survive. Whether it is for money or love- services rendered in all forms: visible/invisible, gendered or not. I was in the deep throes of ancestral and personal council with my guides about power, authenticity, courage, value and what comes next? As though I was even in any state to consider a next.

***

And into 2018 I rolled. Dreamed through, surviving with constant preoccupation about leaving. I held a profound and inactionable sensibility about the gaps between the world ‘we’ say we want and the actualities of how stretched so many of ‘us’ feel. Bemoaning to the spirits that I wanted a temple space to be held for me in my communities of care for this rite of menopause, that I wanted rest and recovery, touch and comfort. And knowing that the grind of oppression in all forms has laid waste to precious moments- mine, maybe yours. I was both a’feared and not, tracking how impossible it felt to contend with even the most minor threats to a regulated self, and how much was and still is- circulating like a great army of dementors, around all of us.

The psychic field of layers of trauma, of daily onslaught of the self-appointed leadership on all levels, the ongoing reckoning with living in extinction and the ensorcellment of powerlessness- I mumbled through the days that I had no desire. Desire had evacuated, and in the murky underworld I fought.

Friends came and went to my little home on the edge of the woods. I had food, warmth, the telephone, and of course, Netflix-one prevalent harm reduction tool for dissociating.

I walked in the woods, ruminating about this journey, about what shape my magic might be taking, if I still could even feel magic? I listened and listened to the waters and the trees. Nighttime was a calm and weighted blanket, letting the sorrow of myself feel embraced.

And in another breath gratitude for the blessings of my life, and the awareness of my relative privileges and what my responsibility to dismantle those was and still is.

This confusion of asking myself if I deserved to rest? Seriously, that was a real and insidious internal conversation- as someone with relative privilege (small savings account, white skin, college attendance, living by woods in an metropolis, etc..) do I get to take a break when there are those who don’t?

And what does it serve me or anyone by not resting?

But in capitalism, there is no rest. None. Not for those of us who are living quite literally, on the edge.

I have been living on the benevolence of a Patreon account, those ones who kept the rent paid, and the small comforts allowable, while I regrouped, and who I basically ghosted. It’s true and I’m so regretful of this. I started off in that way folks do, with perks and incentives and promises. I noticed in the fall that I was failing that. I wrote some notes saying I would try again, then notes saying that I couldn’t any longer, that I was sorry, that I’d be back, that I’d share stories, then I didn’t. Some folks wrote back to say they had to go, some to say it was okay and they were staying, some didn’t share at all.

If you were or are one of those folks- first of all, thank you. Thank you. And I am sorry. Not for falling apart, but certainly for inadequately tending the situation in so many ways, and especially for the failure to let you know sooner that your support mattered a great deal-maybe more than you could or would imagine, and that even on the hardest, wouldn’t get out of bed days, I was saying a prayer for all of you.

***

In February I attended my second retreat to train for the ancestral lineage repair work with my cohort.

We focused on refining our technique, since this is not counseling work, but rather empowered guiding- the client drives the session, and its wholly consensual.

Here is where the work I’ve been attempting to nurture in the world finds another steady companion of influence. The lineage repair work fits right into the content, and holds hands well with the rituals and temples I have and long to call us to and on some small occasions, have.

There are many elaborate ways of talking about how it all came to be this way, some use the language of attachment theory, some of religion, and those are good and helpful frames to use, and sometimes use myself. I am most allured though to the thinkers and writers of the mytho-poetic style. There is a plain-ness hidden in the eloquence of prose and poetry and their beloved offspring which is a portal into my body, the keeper of my lineages’ wisdoms.

Estrangement from the web of life and humans’ place within, the terrible fear of annihilation after death, the pathological thinking which compels exploitation and enslavement, the blind entitlement emanating from unearned power- are voraciously killing the diversity and interdependent systems of the world.

The inherited cultural wounds from the felt sense of Longing to Belong are pervasive and persistently driving a climate disruption which will leave our descendants in a new world, one deprived of so much we take for granted and thoroughly less populated through biocidal actions of our kind.

I felt blessed to have completed my bloodline repairs, and understood that there would be more healing to come, as the wounds of the before-ness wouldn’t just disappear now that I could sense, make sense, and map them. Just as trauma doesn’t ever disappear- it can be transformed and we can build resiliency skills and support networks and learn to experience them differently, so too is the legacy of the epoch of human history which holds the forgotten straying.

***

I left for Vermont right after this retreat, and taught there, and loved the powerful witch community who hosted me and delved into the magic with such ferocious vulnerability, and delectable creativity.

Returning to the lands I call home, I felt bolstered and exhausted. Temporarily buoyed by the ritual work, the abundant passion of the participants and the familiar feeling of giving a good course.

Thus, I decided to offer a mentorship program which would meet once a month. The TACT facilitator’s mentorship, and I don’t know if it was mistake or not to try this. What I do know is that I learned a lot. A lot about how hard it is to be outward facing when the mood of one’s being is so protective of quiet, still, slow.

Since I have opted out of most frontlines activism, which in and of itself is a lengthy and ongoing internal conversation, I have considered training people who are engaged in organizing work for justice and liberation in the delicious arts of trauma-aware conflict transformation to be a contribution to those movements. A second-line position prepared to help the circular firing squad come to our senses and stop shooting each other, and instead to recognize the true adversaries as the systems of oppression.

I have watched, with great consternation, the lines in the sand being drawn, the purity politics, the virtue signaling, the mob mentality, the shame-superiority cycle, the victim blaming and the victim narratives, the deflection, the dissembling, the lateral and horizontal violence, the intergenerational split, and so much more. Yes, there are abusers, yes I believe survivors, and yes I want transformative justice. How we do, what we do, matters.

I stepped into the mentorship program to help other people feel confident in their own shadow material in order to help others with theirs. It was a six month roller coaster of challenge and joy. As of this writing I’m still deciding if it will happen again, and if so what needs redesign.

Suffice it to say, this was a part of my year which anchored February through July.

***

And still into March and April I felt these feelings, I pretended I was setting up my new ancestral healing practice, pretended I was ‘getting better’, pretended I gave a shit about the full scale implosion of decency and possibility as the ICE raids swept through Portland, as my longtime organizing group dissolved the collective and set down our camp, as fresh waves of grief for world, beauty, my place in it, swept over and pulled me under.

I started an impromptu, secret club of folk who I knew, but who didn’t know each other. I began to text these six or eight people every day with a check in: You still here? They would reply, “Yes.” Some days they would initiate.

That was it. Once a day, I would send a line out to them and they would toss it back. All of us wondering what the next day would hold. All of us sharing in some way or another that we were holding steady-ish, and making peace with ‘good enough’ instead of brilliant thriving.

And is thriving a privilege? Should we all be grateful to be surviving?

Please- no love and light here, no ‘this is a state of mind’. Just no. It isn’t that simple for many of us who daily grapple with the tumult of painful suffering all around us. We are not weak or broken because we feel this. We are strong.

As a pagan animist, I took heart and health from all the beings near to me, even the tree person who fell on part of my house the weekend I helped a dear friend move from the land. There were signs and signals in the wind, in the steady patter of the waters of life pouring down, giving rhythm to the ticking moments.

My ancestors told me to wait to start the practice until I’d helped out as an assistant to the training in May and so I held off, and it wasn’t hard, because I was still screaming no to the envisioning of having to hustle, to cheerfully announce, to find a presentable photo of myself when brushing my teeth was the celebration of the day, on some of those days.

***

The mentorship was happening, I went and returned from NC, spring was springing and I put myself into beauty-making where I live. I committed myself to clearing all the unneeded piles which are easy to accumulate in a thirteen year long land project of scrappy and resourceful folk, many of whom had moved on at some point and, ahem, forgot, some of their things. Piles of all kinds became my focus and my foe. My labor was toward providing significant crisis responsiveness to so many people (even though I was barely afloat), cleaning piles, and browsing goats. I thought about starting my practice, and prayed on it. I thought too about offering a course or a talk. And still I’m endeavoring to understand for myself by writing this letter to you, how I could even remotely do that. It wasn’t laziness or an unwillingness to provide for myself, not some idea that I deserved anything in particular.

I just couldn’t latch to any belief that it would matter. The well was dry and I was burning up

I went to the Dance for all Peoples and prayed. I hosted pinochle nights at home. I did not go out any more than I had all year, being content and not content to stay in, float, meander, breathe through the panic of it all because I was so saturated with all the fear running rampant through the body of the collective. Flooded with it all, and with days being bright and hot, I took to my hand tools and strengthened my boundaries. It can be a difficult or tenuous negotiation to protect and shield enough but not so much that no feeling is possible. It was like being on a carnival ride in an earthquake and trying to adjust the dial.

I’ve been curating my own tool case for a while, and since there were many improvements, repairs, and beautifications for my little house I wanted to tend I uncovered it and set to it.  I started small, toe-touching into the waters of will to action. Having been enbleaked for such a while, it required a conjured perseverance and a heliotropic turning toward that kind of magic.

Little by little and almost every day, after daily practice and devotions, I visioned and designed, collected materials for, and crafted and mended. Supplementing here, improvising there, all so very imperfectly. Certainly a queer renovation as many parts are not square, level or straight.

And the hours turned into weeks. Sawdust, silicone, screws. Learning. Moving. Thinking with a part of my mind which had been in the backseat- hostage to the Bonnie and Clyde of trauma brain and hormonal second puberty.

I’m proud of what I accomplished, and in that found something began to change- when in the evenings I could sit and observe what the efforts of my will and creativity felt like and provided. Then it occurred to me that I was enacting what I think of as my wellness plan for this coming year. Because when the days close in and the howl of wind is the lullabye in the season of reaping, it is good, I think, to have a wellness plan, informed by the well in spirit ones, and your own common sense.

To have a wee bit more comfort and safety in my home at the edge, in order to weather the tides.

Interspersed in the construction days, resplendent with my femme finery of booty shorts, leggings, halter tops and often, bare feet; sweating and doing too much and hurting my body, were late afternoon jaunts to a beautiful neighborhood pool or the river to cool myself, and be in sensual play with the sweet waters. And a few more card nights, and a dinner out at a friend’s house here and there, and still, mostly reclusivity, seeking the middle path. Asking impossible questions in counseling and scheming.

Somewhere in there- past first harvest and on toward second harvest, I began to imagine what I might want to come out of all this, to come out of me. Trying to assemble what had been simmering all this time and what that medicine was. A potion. I started feeling as though I hit the bottom, had made my way through the immediate learnings, had been taking in the blessings of my people on a body level, and almost could feel the tendrils of any kind of a me-ness, and had an appetite for the what was beyond the most local version of living I could make for myself.

Some thinkings were moving from threads to cloth, some magics still needing enlivening. And then some people I know, in kinship with in me, people in the ‘club’- you know of empaths holding grief and fury and all else on behalf of the people who can’t, but mostly who won’t. Those of us so affected by the echo in our marrow of the agony of the mountains and seas and all the lands and beings of the earth. And bearing witness and using our bodies as shields and antennae and all the ways we access the spirit dna memory of what loving the world and knowing we are loved in return, to help defend and heal. Those of us feeling beat down by the cudgel of despair, greed, and malevolent violence (not to be confused with benevolent violence)- and struggling to survive the gravity of our choices and all of our choices, right now.

Some amount of suffering is part of the human experience, I believe this is true and necessary. And some of it is not, and the piles of unmetabolized grief, and the suppressed fury of a thousand generations of survivor ghosts suffocates us.

And some of these people reached out and asked if I’d priestess their death through witnessing, not by my hand. And before you go in any particular direction with that, please read- they are all still among the incarnate. The nourishing kernel of this share is that my own year and these earnest and not at all spontaneous requests alighted in me in some alchemical way.

I have much to offer about my thoughts on this question, this rite, this- choice. And many many questions. I think it a worthy enough topic to explore in holy conversation and council,  and am in the middle stages of crafting a new offering about this question of choiceful, witnessed sacred death.

And what came out of that as the goats were fattening, and the nettles dropped seeds, and the blackberries were finishing up, and the balancing point of a season revealed not stillness, but dynamic equilibrium, I had a realization about ‘my work’. And about all this slowness in moving toward it. And where does it come from? And for who?

All of this dance with mystery had to happen. All of it. And would I change anything if I could? The most penetrating loneliness? The demons? The failed efforts to live as though the world needed me? I don’t know. It was one of the most difficult years I’ve endured. And I don’t know whether the ritual initiation into Beyond Bleeding is complete or not, but I can suppose that I’ve collected a note or two on what it has been like to enter into this rite and to be in it now.

And my best work comes from making the containers and experiences I need for my magic, with others. So there is something coming too on this- on being in liminal, neither mother nor crone, in the waning moon, some past full. And when a person’s magic is anchored to any rhythm for thirty or so years and that changes, that is potent, and confusing for some. For me.

***

This October brought a an almost storybook version of autumn with just warm enough days and crisp eves, colors and winds carrying those colors and painting the sky. Sweaters but not coats and the smells of the last bits of summer evaporating. Oh my.

I’ve been thinking about this missive. Trying to let it flow, let what wanted to come forth do that. And now we are nearing the end of this year’s tale- so what is it that is most important to share?

I’m still in the good struggle of my community project. I’ve begun an MD protocol after months of consideration and a recent invigorating talk given about epigenetic neurogenesis. I foresee it as a viable treatment and an aid in client work. My construction projects are tucked in and the rain barrels are beginning to fill. I’ve started to reach out to people who I’ve fallen away from and to find out how we are. I’m opening a practice and preparing to offer some learning containers. I’ve cleaned and reset all my altars for the season and am loosely and noncommittally talking with some folks about writing a book.

I’ve led a few ritual lantern walks in the woods near my home, eaten lots of apples from our orchard, and visited the creek most days.

And I threw myself a great birthday party this year. Over four days- a storytelling feast and a sauna ritual at home, friends from in and out of town staying with me, fancy dinner out and a night with a magical storyteller, brunch, singing with 200 people in four part harmony, wine and girlfriend talk late into the night, and an on-my-birthday- trip to the coast with two amazing witches for hours of the elements and being blissfully lost in the place where sky meets water in the autumn fog.

It was full of well wishes and cards, homemade cake, bouquet of flowers, and blessings and blessings.

I told everyone that I needed to fill my cup, to recharge, to allow myself to be abashedly witnessed and to receive care and love, encouragement and support.

Right now, the dark has settled on the day and the night is quiet. As I integrate this past year and give some breath of thanks for my life and my dreams, I’m also giving a breath of gratitude to each of you for enduring whatever travails and triumphs you’ve had since last we may have connected.

I think what is true is that I’m not ok. I don’t know how any of us who are paying attention, living in our bodies, and loving the majesty of the world, could be o-k.

Rather, I’m committed. Committed to reaching out, to accepting that I can’t live the way I’ve been living, can’t hustle like I did, can’t carry the load I’ve tried to carry. I’m forty-seven now, and while it is just a number, it is also a terrain to traverse with respect. I’m committed to living even in a time when so much around us is dying. And I’m committed to the death midwifery rites and ways we so desperately need.

I’d like to be with you as much as possible and to take momentary respite in the comradeship of facing the hard and beautiful, and finding the turning point of paralyzing fear into thundering collective power.

Thank you for your sturdiness. Thank you for you patience with this tale, written imperfectly with parts left out or unintentionally forgotten, and not quite tied up in a bow at the end, but instead a sort of uncertainty how to end. Thank you for your support of me in whatever way that has come to be or might be.

I ask the blessings of the well ancestors to be with you and for your own pathway to be clear and easeful.

With all kindness and with grief and rage, and always, always, love-

rain

 

 

 

 
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