Thursday, December 31, 2009
1. Write down everything you want to “leave behind” on a piece of paper. These are things you don’t want or need any more, they may have been necessary at one time but are no longer needed for growth. Some examples would be addictions, insecurities, destructive relationships and/or patterns.
2. Burn this piece of paper under the moon and either bury the ashes or release them into some form of running water (yes, a toilet would suffice). Ask Divine Goddess to take these things from you and transform them into something new in Her Cauldron of Change.
3. Take a hot shower or bath and do a self blessing(I think I have one on my blog somewhere).
4. On a new piece of paper, write down a list of things that you want to bring into the new year. Some examples would be health, love, balance, creativity, peace, prosperity…
5. After writing these down, create something on a new medium that represents these things that you want to bring into the new year. It could be a poem, a painting, a collage, a decorated candle; anything that involves the creative process.
6. Keep this thing with you so that you can look at it before going to bed and upon waking up. Meditate upon it if you can. Look at it every day for the next 30 days.
7. On February 1st, which is Imbolc, take the list and a small piece of the creative project and burn it in a safe place like a big pot. Mix the ashes with fertile soil and plant new seeds of a favorite plant or flower in this soil.
8. Nurture your plant and your dreams throughout the year. Notice that our dreams are a garden that requires careful tending and nurturing and patience.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Marriage in our society is a patriarchal construction that gives unequal economic power to men and puts women in a position where they are often economically dependent on their husbands, especially after having children. Our society promotes the nuclear family as the cornerstone of our nation, using heterosexual marriage as a means to ascribe gender roles to both men and women. When a woman deviates from these gender roles society punishes her both informally by casting her as a social pariah, and formally by punishing women single head of households by withholding affordable childcare, universal healthcare, and welfare policies that criminalize women of little economic means for being mothers. In some cases, adult, sex work in the United States can be seen as a form of resistance to traditional marriage values and patriarchy. Through this type of work a woman may be able to economically survive without dependence on a husband or the state that serve to control her body and subordinate her spirit. By making prostitution illegal and blocking sex workers from having civil rights, protection and respect, prostitution is made a male dominated, predatory industry that is oppressive to many women, while serving the dominant class at the same time.
In the Berkeley Women’s Law Journal, the definition of sex work is, “…the practice of selling, explicitly and contractually, the private performance of specified acts of a sexual nature ... the sale must involve a contract specifying the items of exchange.... The prostitution contract includes both implicit and explicit agreement regarding access to the body ... of the seller in a private setting.” (Duarte,2003). This narrow definition is used to illustrate the mutual adult consent that is necessary to constitute the sex worker/client relationship. In addition to that definition I find that it would be reckless to omit the fact that socio-economic statuses, country of origin, as well as race/ethnicity affect the delineation between choice and victimization. A woman who is engaging in prostitution because it is her only means of economic survival is not given the option of choice. Women in developing countries, especially those recovering from colonialism and are further plunged into chaos by neo-colonialism, may have little choice when it comes to career choices or means of survival. Global Capitalization has made this much worse, as well as the feminization of poverty that is occurring around the world, regardless of ethnicity. This narrow definition shows sex work to be another form of service work; however, housekeepers, cooks, food servers, nannies, massage therapists, manicurists, etc do not make nearly the same money, nor take nearly the same risks as sex workers. I also cannot speak for male sex workers, as men do not inhabit the same matrix of domination that puts women in a position to be economically dependent on a man within marriage.
Prostitution wasn’t always considered profane to the civilized world. In fact, there is evidence that it was seen as sacred. “Sacred Whore temples flourished in ancient India, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia. The word ‘whore’ was a title, used in much the way our work ‘reverend’ is employed today…Whore-priestesses were revered because they taught ‘a combination of mother –love, tenderness, comfort, mystical enlightenment and sex.’”(Muscio, 90-91). Sacred prostitution was respected and whores were considered very valuable members of society. Later, when patriarchal religions began to govern the people, these sacred temples were plundered, the priestesses murdered and the teachings destroyed. The woman’s body was no more a doorway to enlightenment and self knowledge but instead a dangerous commodity that needed to be controlled. Even today, in 2009, women are stigmatized for exhibiting a sexuality that illustrates agency over their own bodies, as well as stigmatized for not allowing themselves to be sexually objectified in a subordinate position that services the desires of heterosexual men, and reaffirms a construction of masculinity that puts men in the position of controlling women’s bodies.
In the article, Class in America, by Gregory Mantsios, he writes, “People do not choose to be poor or working class; instead, they are limited and confined by the opportunities afforded or denied them by a social and economic system. The class structure in the United States is a function of its economic system: capitalism, a system that is based on private rather than public ownership and control of commercial enterprises.” (Mantsios,193). If this is true that private ownership and control of commercial enterprises is what makes up our system of capitalism, then by preventing women ownership of their own bodies and the ability to use their own bodies as an economic resource and commercial enterprise is indeed denying women participation in capitalism and restricting the entrance of autonomous women into the “American Dream.” It seems when any woman in this country seeks to take agency over her own body, the peanut gallery always deafens us with accusations of immorality that could be likened to, “Burn the witch!”
In the article, Sex and Race, by William Chafe, he writes, “In 1898 Charlotte Perkins Gilman argued in Women and Economics that the root of women’s subjection was their economic dependency on men….In fact, the issue of women not controlling their own money has long been one of the most painful and humiliating indexes of inequality between the sexes…”(Chafe, 664). I would like to reiterate that not allowing women control of their own bodies is equally, if not more, humiliating and painful. Since this society only promotes sex within marriage as normal, women who do not conform to this role are ostracized from society in many ways. As sex workers, women are criminalized and therefore are denied the fundamental right to control their own body or economic autonomy. Furthermore, stigmatizing sex work is also an example of using values and attitudes to reinforce the power of the dominant class by creating moral arguments that serve to distract the rest of us from the real immorality of imperialism and neo-colonialism(Alexander, 3); and thereby causing opposition within the dominated groups. (rcg671). The dominant group also maintains control by defining good and bad sex and women’s roles regarding sex, reproduction, and sexuality. Some women engaging in sex work are opposing and reclaiming those definitions for themselves and therefore defining their own existences and identities while maintaining economic independence from men or the state
Alexander, M. Jacqui. Pedagogies of Crossing. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2005. Print.
Chafe, William. "Sex and Race: The anthology of social control." Race, class, and gender in the United States an integrated study. New York: Worth, 2007. 659-72. Print.
Duarte, Susana (2003). PROSTITUTION POLICY: REVOLUTIONIZING PRACTICE THROUGH A GENDERED PERSPECTIVE by Lenore Kuo. Review of Berkeley Women's Law Journal, 18, 308. retrieved from GenderWatch (GW) database. (Document ID: 507748691).
Frye, Marilyn. "Opression." Race, class, and gender in the United States an integrated study. New York: Worth, 2007. 154-58. Print.
Johnson, Allan G. "Patriarchy." Race, class, and gender in the United States an integrated study. New York: Worth, 2007. 158-67. Print.
Mantsios, Gregory. "Class In America-2006." Race, class, and gender in the United States an integrated study. New York: Worth, 2007. 182-95. Print.
Muscio, Inga. Cunt a declaration of independence. Seattle: Seal, 1998. Print.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
To celebrate blog's first trip around the sun, I'd like to celebrate my mother lines by posting an ethnographic interview with my own grandma.
My grandmother on my father’s side is named Edith. She was not given a middle name, although her sister was given two middle names. She and my grandfather are very important to me, and have been a stable foundation in a somewhat unstable family life and childhood. Always kind and gentle, I remember Edith, whom I call, Nana, always being a warm and nurturing light. She has never spoken one harsh word to me, nor to anyone else that I’ve heard, except for my grandfather on occasion. The worst word I have ever heard her say was, “stupid head,” to another car on the freeway, for which she apologized for immediately upon utterance. When I called her to ask for an interview, she was surprised and wondered why I would ever want to interview her. She claimed that I should interview my grandfather, because he did much more than she. I replied that we all know what grandfather has done, because he tells us at every family gathering. I told her that it was her life that I was interested in, and that her contribution to the world was great and valuable. She was still a bit resistant when my cousin Michelle and I arrived at our grandparent’s house in Oceanside, CA. This is for reasons that I will explain later. Michelle brought a video camera and was maybe even more excited that I. After playing a board game with my daughter, Michelle, and me, we adjourned to the living room and began our interview. We left my grandfather and daughter in the TV. room so that they couldn’t hear, I wanted my nana to be very honest, which I knew she couldn’t do with either of them present.
The first thing my grandmother did was lay down some ground rules. She didn’t want any dates in the interview, not even the year of her birth. She said she wanted to protect her privacy. I knew exactly why she would say this. However, I pretended, along with the rest of our family, that we didn’t know. Edith Palman was born in Frankfurt Germany, around 1922, as I believe she is between the ages of 85 and 87 in 2009. When she was less than two years old, her mother and sister sailed on a ship for two weeks to meet her father in America. He had traveled to America some months before and established himself in Southern California. Edith’s mother, Mary, was already a seamstress in Germany, and began reproducing styles that she saw in department store windows on her own sewing machine. My grandmother says that one of her earliest memories is sitting on the floor, looking up and watching her mother spin yarn on a huge spindle. The old fashioned kind, the kind that the mythological Three Fates use to spin each and every one of our destinies. Edith’s father began to take English and accounting classes and eventually became a CPA. However, and this is very interesting for this day and age, he quit his job with his accounting firm in order to support his wife’s embroidery business that was beginning to do well. When I remarked on how rare that seemed for any time, especially then, she replied that her father was a rare man. She said it with a certain tender affection that was touching. Her father had passed away before I was born. Edith remembers her childhood as lonely. She shook her head and said it wasn’t very good. Her parents were always gone and working, like many immigrant families at that time, both the mother and father worked outside the home.
Growing up in Silverlake, California, the only break from staying home with only her sister, or helping her mother cut string at the embroidery shop, were the German picnics and dances at the local park on weekends where her mother and sister and she would dance to the “ooompa ooooompa” music that was part of her cultural heritage. She also remembers the greatest times of her childhood being spent with her aunt and cousins in Wrightwood, CA. The Palman children were able to briefly get out from under the strict household of their parents, and were able to socialize with other children. At home, neither my grandmother nor her sister was allowed to have sleepovers, or parties, or sleep over at another friend’s house.
My nana believed herself to be a “nerd” in high school, not fully blossoming until she began to attend Los Angeles City College when she was around the age of 17. She remembers being delighted on her first day of school, when all of the male students noticed her legs in her new dress. Nana began to date regularly, and found this to be a time of freedom and possibility. She went dancing at the Palladium in Hollywood. She didn’t know what she was going to do with her life yet. When I asked her if she had always planned to be a mother and house wife, she replied that she had not. She didn’t have a plan for the future, she just wanted to explore and have fun. Sounds much like my perspective when I got out of high school.
One day, at one of the German picnics, my grandmother and grandfather met. My grandfather has stated many times that the first time he saw my grandmother he knew instantly that she was the one. My grandmother, on the other hand, makes no such claim. She thought he was cute, and nice, and that’s about it. She remembers wearing a new, beige dress that she had just made herself using very special ceramic buttons that her mother had hand painted. The dress was straight, with these buttons running straight down the middle. She was asked to dance by many men that night, but grandpa had stuck out. Nana denies that she was actually going with someone else already when she met grandpa but the rumor is that she was already in a relationship when they met.
Their first date was to the observatory. They began to see each other regularly. After three months grandpa finally kissed her, or so she says. (This is where it gets tricky. When I send a copy of this to my grandmother I will have to edit much of this out. I fear that if she sees that I have written this about her, she will never speak to me again. However, I believe this part of her story to be very pertinent to this class.) Within a year they were married. My grandmother says that because they were very poor, that she had to have a private ceremony and wear a black dress. This is a story that my cousins and I have heard before. I never understood why on Earth anyone would choose a black dress to get married in, even if they were poor. Being that my grandmother and her family were talented at designing and making dresses, this situation gets even more improbable. Then one day we did the math. Our grandparent’s first anniversary took place before my father’s first birthday. Suddenly it made sense about the black dress. Nana was pregnant with my father when they got married! In all of these years of protecting this secret, they had forgotten to move their anniversary year up one year to account for the discrepancy. This was the reason that my nana, today, 70 years later, was so adamant about not giving any dates. I think she realized that we were beginning to catch on. The shock of finding out that my extremely pure and gentile grandmother was having sex before marriage is huge for me. I always saw her as innocent, angelic and obedient.
Immediately after being married my grandfather went back to work. Struggling to make ends meet in a depression era, he worked very long hours. Edith’s life of dating, school and socializing came to an abrupt end and was replaced by a life of solitude in a small house. She never knew when her husband would be home, and I believe she wasn’t leaving the house to go anywhere or do anything as there was no money. She remembers this time of her life as very lonely. I could imagine that this solitude, partnered with post pardom depression was very hard on my grandmother. She began developing habits like having to touch doorknobs on both sides before closing a door, or having to stick her fist in a glass after washing it. I don’t know if my grandmother had always had tendencies towards OCD, but they began to manifest themselves much more apparently during this time. To this day nana still has these, as she calls them, “quirks.” Although she has never received any treatment for it, she seems to manage it well, as it does not seem to affect the quality of her life.
Somehow my grandfather avoided going to WWII so they got through the war fairly well, with my grandmother never having to take a job. She says she began to smoke during the war, that tobacco was rare and then all of the sudden the tobacco companies started to give away free cigarettes at the market. In a time where chocolate, meat, pantyhose and many other small luxuries were unavailable, smoking became very popular. However, my grandfather never knew about it. I mean never. My grandmother didn’t quit smoking until after I was born, and my grandfather never had a clue.
Edith had two more children after my father. My grandfather’s landscaping business began to do well and nana joined a women’s knitting group to alleviate the loneliness of her role in society as a housewife and mother. The family moved to Northridge, CA, where they lived across the street from Natalie Wood. Nana tells us that she never liked Natalie Wood’s mother. She would always call my nana and ask her for favors like taking her daughters to school, or borrowing my grandmother’s mink stole. She also wanted to take my aunt Linda with the Wood family so that Natalie’s little sister would have someone to play with. After Natalie had gained some fame in movies, her mother invited my grandmother to their new house in a more upscale neighborhood. My grandmother describes the scene like this:
“It was about 11 and Mary (Natalie Wood’s mom) and I were sitting in the front room talking when all of the sudden I hear this bell ringing. Mary jumps up immediately and says that it’s Natalie and she wants her hotdog. While I’m still sitting there she runs off to get it for her and bring it to Natalie who was still in bed.”
As Mary and grandmother were friends, after Natalie married Robert Wagner Mary told my grandmother this after Wagner had bought Natalie an expensive, toy tiger:
“I don’t know what he sees in her because she is so flat chested.”
My grandmother thought that the family was a bit strange so eventually lost touch with the Woods. Living in Northridge with her husband and three children, Edith took care of not only caring for the kids and the household chores, but paying all of the bills and household expenses as well. She had a method of rounding up in her check book every time she paid a bill and by doing that saved over three thousand dollars by the time my grandfather retired. When he retired he took it upon himself to take over the household accounting. Upon finding out about the extra money saved, he became angry and asked how my grandmother could have kept this money a secret. I forgot to mention earlier that my grandfather was very intent on being the sole provider of his family. This was a measure of his own manhood, and he took it very seriously. He would not even let Edith accept gifts from her family if they were not given on a birthday or Christmas. She told me he had made her return a pair of pajamas that her mother had bought for her one time.
My grandmother tells me that the single most important thing in her life is her grandchildren. Honestly, even though she is aging and visibly becoming frailer, I couldn’t imagine life without her. She is the glue that keeps my family even talking with each other. I fear that after her and my 90 year old grandfather pass, my father and his siblings will never speak to each other again. My cousins and I are pretty tight, but without my grandparents organizing family reunions and holiday get- togethers, we also may begin to spread apart. I am so grateful that my daughter has been given the gift of knowing my grandmother, and now that I’ve documented her life, she will have this too to remember the women who came before her, and the love and strength that has been passed down from her mother bloodlines.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Luckily, my grant covered my fees, and I was registered for 9 units. However, unless I have 12 units, my financial aid gets cut in half so I was desperate for 1 more class. I found the perfect class, called women, sex roles, culture - an anthropology class, at the perfect time. The only problem was that 10 people were trying to add, including me, and there was only one spot available. The professor said that after class, we adders would have to put our names down on pieces of paper that she would then put in a hat and pick one at random. We all had a 1 in 10 chance of getting in.
Still sitting at my desk, I closed my eyes and only in my mind, called in the east, south, west and north. Casting the circle around myself without moving or speaking a word, I called for the Goddess Sophia, who I believe is best for school matters like studying, exams and what not. I appealed to Her and asked Her so respectfully if she would make sure I got picked. After, I thanked her, and then all the elements, starting now from the North and working my way back to the east as to open the circle. Then I waited patiently for the end of class.
I wrote my name on the paper and kissed it for good luck. I never win raffles or lotteries or anything like that. I began to sweat as she pulled a paper from the hat and read it aloud.
Guess whose name got picked?
Estatic, I went to a grassy spot on campus right after class and thanked the spirits with loose tobacco from my American Spirit pouch, and water. I didn't care if anyone saw me or wondered what I was doing.
Dang it's good to be a witch!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
I'm so blessed, and I thank the Divine Goddess for gifting me with so much love and adventure. I thank my mom for pushing me out and taking care of me, my windy and twisty path, my daughter, my family, and my friends. I thank my body for being such a strong vessel, I thank the mother for supporting me so sturdily under my feet. I'm thankful to the Universe that I always seem to have what I need. I honor my bloodline from the beginning to the end of time. My new moon birthday wish is for apathy to be forever buried in compassion for the human race. May my will be blessed and quickly manifest into reality. Blessed Be.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
“Does she know how to ride a bike yet?”
“No, do you think she could learn in like 5 minutes?”
“Well, if we ride to the pier and back, I guarantee that she’ll know by the end of the night.”
“Do you think learning to ride a bike in the dark is such a good idea?”
I shrugged. The things I consider good ideas, other people call dangerous. “Well, if she learns in the dark, think of how easy it’ll be for her when it’s daytime.”
My best friend smiled at me, full of trust even though she had been hit by a car more than once on a bike and was terrified of them herself. We were off. Her 8 year old daughter, my goddess daughter, got on her bike and rode straight into a chain length fence covered in thorn bushes. She lay on the sidewalk, all red and scratched and screaming. “You’re not a good mother!” Kids really know how to make words sting.
“I’m gonna ride down and buy some bike lights from the guy on the boardwalk who sells a front and back for 5 bucks. I’ll meet you down there, okay?” I knew I had to get the bike lights or the cops that roam the boardwalk on segways would ticket us. I have no respect for the cops down there, I only see them hassling the homeless, ticketing performers on the boardwalk who don’t have a business permit, or getting smokers with a $500 ticket since they made it a non-smoking beach. Of course they’re never there when you actually need them.
By the time they met us, my little goddess daughter was fiercely riding, crashing, getting back on and riding again. My daughter had already learned on our road trip, earlier this summer and was motivating her to keep going. There was no way we were going to make it to the pier. I decided we should stop in front of the Bistro, a local bar with live music. I had brought some fried chicken, string cheese, Hawaiian rolls and Fritos for a little picnic dinner on the beach, however, it was already almost 9pm and here we could listen to music.
The Venice boardwalk is a ghetto carnival at night. There was a man crouched on the ground, with a lighter and some kind of accelerant, doing what I could only describe as burning a dollar bill into the cement. Squatter punks wandered about as well as the elderly homeless, potent with mental illness. A hip hop band blared from the bar’s outdoor speakers and the chatter and clinking of beer bottles filled the salty breezes. A black and white suv pulled up onto the boardwalk and two cops got out, which sent the pyro-guy sprinting into the distant dark. They shined their flashlights into the eyes of a younger man lying on the boardwalk, he told them he was sick and needed an ambulance. Squatters eyed each other nervously and tried to hide their bottles underneath hoodies. The children were mesmerized. I busted out the fried chicken and Fritos.
An older woman approached us wearing grey sweats and a oversized t-shirt. her grey hair was tossled and she had a fearful look in her eyes. She stumbled up and got within 2 inches from my nose. “What boofital shiiiildrennn,” spit flew all over my face. “think zey would share some shicken whhhhhhif meee?” She didn't smell bad, just the smell of alcohol leeching through pores.
“Sure,” I said and began to make her a plate. In the spiritual tradition that I follow, a crazy, old woman could very well be Goddess in crone form, come down to test her priestesses. I've had a few of those encounters and they are always trying.
“Habb you ever needed to get zownnns on your knees on zee concrete and shuck a dick?” She asked the children. Yes, this was feeling like one of those tests.
I gave her the rest of the chicken. “Why don’t you go and see if any of your friends want some?” She quickly scooted toward a group of older men.
I nudged my best friend. “Hey,” I whispered, “Isn’t this where your husband was stabbed?” Last year her estranged husband was at the bar and a homeless vet came up and stabbed him in the ribs. Instead of going to the hospital, x mr best friend goes home but sees him on the way. He caught up with him in front of the Firehouse, another local bar, and confronted him. The guy responded by tasering him and stabbing him again. X mr. pulled the knife out of his arm and then proceeded to kill that man. When the cops got there he was already dead of multiple stab wounds to the chest and contusions to the face and head. X mr. left the scene and went to the hospital, where he was arrested. The D.A. never charged him, citing it as self defense.
“x-husband,” she reminded me.
“I know. But you should hurry up and file those divorce papers.”
“He’s good with the kids.”
“I know,” I reminded her, “I know.”
Unlike my child's father, x mr., with all of his faults, at least spent every other weekend with the kids, as well as at least make earnest attempts at paying child support - without a court order. Not that a court order ever motivated my x to pay. And he's seen my daughter like 3 times since she was 1. Ahem. Sorry, I digress...
Becky was back. I didn’t know her name yet so I asked her. “Mary Elizabeth,” she said, “but will you please call me Becky?”
“I had cancer.” She told us matter of factly. Then she pulled up her shirt. I mused that for an older woman, her breasts looked like the breasts of a 13 year old. One was scarred and misshapen from a mastectomy. My daughter grabbed onto my arm tightly. I signaled to her that it was okay by gently patting her back and she relaxed.
“Underneath Your Clothes
There's an endless story
There's the man I chose
There's my territory
And all the things I deserve
For being such a good girl honey...
Do you know what happened to meeee!"
“What,” I was already wincing before she replied.
“My only baby boy died!”
“I’m sorry.” We all responded together.
“Now this little nigger boy keeps telling me what to do!” Oh great. She had to go on and fire out the n-bomb in front of the kids. “But I got the Italian mafia to make him stop!”
How could I end this compassionately? She moved closer to the kids and without thinking I intercepted her and gave her a big hug, putting my heart to hers. “Goddess help me!” I whispered.
“My only baby boy died!” She cried and held me tight. “He was twelve!” After a minute, I leaned back and put my right hand on her forehead, my left hand on her chest. Puzzled, she looked up and said, “Now they want to blow my head off!”
“We’ve got to go now, Becky. I want you to take care of yourself.”
I took my hands off of her and touched them to the ground. On the way home I had to explain to the kids why I hugged her and no, it’s not okay for them to now start going around hugging the homeless.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
My favorite is the first poem by Philomene Long. she died on my birthday a few years ago. I'm going to buy some of her books. It's a shame I've spent so many years here and never met her or read her words.
Friday, August 7, 2009
For a long time I've been wanting to build out of straw bale. This home is the closest to my design that I've ever seen! I believe that sustainable living can alleviate poverty and that straw bale can really help people have affordable and beautiful housing. Someday, when I get my land, I will build a bunch of these and make some of them into senior residential living facilities. If you read the link, you will see that it only cost them around 10 grand and they completed it themselves in 4 months. The reciprocal roof is so beautiful!
Friday, July 31, 2009
E’s mom and her girlfriend built a huge bonfire in the back yard of their little house. I call it a back yard but actually it had no boundaries, stretching to the creek and past, winding through pines and up mountains and beyond into the textured and ever changing sky. It was Solstice eve and we were on the Colville Indian Reservation in Eastern Washington. People had warned me not to wander the reservation without a guide. My chameleon skin allows me to pass for almost any ethnicity, however, my California license plate blared a sort of vulnerability that I didn’t like. On the way through Oregon a trucker ran me into oncoming traffic. Somehow I squeezed between him and the oncoming cars. I said, “FUCK!” and Mikyla asked me why I said that. “Oh nothing.” I replied. Exept that we just almost died. I felt like my CA license plate somehow singled me out for that. Oops, I digress; Let me get back on track.
So since it was Solstice, and I was in such a beautiful place that was tribal land, I begged E to do ritual with me. I could tell she was a little hesitant because maybe she hadn’t done it in awhile because she moved and also because I knew she was exploring other spiritual paths besides Dianic Witchcraft. Many Dianic Women have done the same, finding either an imbalance of female only ritual, or because of the recent petty and ridiculous drama that had gone down in the circle that initiated us. As for myself, I am 100 percent Goddess Worshipper throughout and within. God is son and consort, Women are the shape of the Universe. As changeable as nature, nurturing or cruel, holding enough space for every little thing possible.
Not only was it Summer Solstice but also a dark moon. I purified the space by walking the circumference of the circle with my drum. Stopping in each direction, I envisioned that each element washed through the space, purifying it. Using Tobacco and making sure to thank and honor the native ancestors of the land, I invoked the East, Air, and E invoked South, Fire, in the same fashion. Following Dianic tradition, we cast the circle and called Goddess to bless our will. Dark moons mean release, Summer Solstice is the pinnacle of manifestation and fertility. What an amazing mix of opposing energy! How best to work to work it? We decided the best way would be to release all obstacles that stood in the way of our most truthful, wildest and most creative hearts’ desires. We know that are hearts' true desires would automatically align with the will of the Divine. We began to write what needed to be banished on paper and spoke them bearing witness before tossing the words into the flame. Healing. We started with the world, the land, the people, beginning outside ourselves and spiraling inward towards our core. When E felt complete, she left the circle through a doorway that I carved for her so as not to disturb the integrity of the circle. She didn't want to trip with me. she felt I needed to be alone even though I never told her that I wanted to be alone.
Slowly, I started to eat from the bag of magick mushrooms that was given to me by E’s mother. I chewed each one carefully and thoughtfully, investing my intention with every bite. I wanted to speak directly with my guides. I wanted to see beyond the veil, I wanted to dance naked around a bonfire in the middle of the woods and face my fears about the night, the darkness, with nothing between myself and the void. Even though I was initiated into the Dianic tradition 3+ years ago, I felt that this type of quest was critical to my growth as a witch. I mean, to really be a witch one does have to stay through the dead of night in the middle of the woods in my book. To evolve one must face her fears. It’s a different type of initiation and I hoped that I would get some questions answered while I was at it. I never formulated how this opportunity would come to be, only that my heart desired it, and now, through the help of my Dianic sister, the universe, and mama Z, it was all cumulating into this very evening. This Solstice eve of the darkest moon is it. Goddess feels I am ready. I feel ready. I would have been too scared to do something like this before now. Alone in the woods, on a foreign land, wild animals and wandering spirits abound, I begin to chant myself into a trance.
Sitting in my place of power…
In the center there is me,
Me, and I’m feeling safe and free…
~Starhawk and Anne Hill from circle round
The air around me becomes fibrous, like cobwebs under water. As the plant fills my body, I see the hair- like fibers extend from myself out into the world. Mama Z tells me that this is how the psilocybin spores seed themselves, by sending out fibers to attach to the environment. I look up and the stars are simply within reach. I’m surprised at how the sky, and even the Earth, is filled with rainbow, geometric shapes. A white, teardrop shaped light is flying in and out of them. I see other white lights flitting about. I think that they are spirits, and thank Goddess, I am seeing them as white lights because I get really scared of ghosts. These are not, however, Earthbound spirits at all, are they…maybe I should ask.
I Invoke Helena and Gabriel, previously it was revealed to me that these are the names of my guides. For a long time I heard it as “Gabriella,” which I wasn't fond of, but then I read about Gabriel the angel who is very Goddess like in aspect, and so Gabriel stuck after that.
“What are all the shapes?”, my first of many questions.
Portals. This Universe is multidimensional, even on the Earth, people go through them all of the time without knowing. You’re seeing them now because your editing mechanism is impaired.
Oh yeah. Even though mushrooms are a shortcut to seeing through the veil, they are still poison to our bodies. Many people I’ve been meeting say that for this reason they use peyote to quest, because it is supposed to be medicinal in a wholistic way, mind-body-spirit. Of course, deep meditation and breathing can take one there just as well, and it’s good for you, no costly side effects. Mushrooms do wear the body out, and I will tell you that I felt it the next day.
I noticed that the fire was dying. There was a pile of wood behind the turquoise barn decorated with antlers painted pink; by the horses, next to dark woods. Looking in that direction it seemed like a vast, blackened pool. Could I embark such an epic journey? I decided that not having a fire would be worst. I stepped oh so carefully, using a long branch to feel my way. Being a dark moon, it was completely black and I felt like I was swimming. I finally made it to the wood pile and picked up two big logs to take to the distant glow of my fire. Getting back was a bit easier, but I was afraid that maybe I was tromping on some garden plants. I stepped on a rubber hose and thought it was a snake…whew! Finally, back to the fire and I planted the logs in the middle. I had some rose incense that was a pink powder and I began to throw it into the fire. Pink sparks erupted and the scent of rose filled me with safety and peace.
I sat some more, gazing at the fire and listening to a lone cricket sing me the ballad of my life. As the mushrooms began to take full effect, I felt all of my anxieties melt and my sight become clear as crystal. I could see past all of it. There was no veil, I felt like I could just pass through to the other side and see what was there…I could feel a warmth coming from there…it’s not cold at all. No wonder we are implanted with such a fear of death. If we could really see it…we would all be offing ourselves trying to get over there.
Here is the separation, or what you feel as death. This plane of existence is one of the hardest realms…even though we give you an intense aversion to death, many still cross themselves over anyway. That’s how hard it is here. But it’s supposed to be. You chose it to be.
Really? I chose for there to be starvation, war, heartbreak and injustice? I don’t think so. Why the fuck is there so much pain in the world?
All things must pass on this plane.
To evolve. How else do we become omnipotent?
We have to have children get raped in order to achieve evolution? Is it worth it?
Look, it’s not like it was commanded that horrible things happen here. Part of it is nature, Earth Goddess is the mother who creates and destroys. Free will is what causes it. You are put here to manifest or destroy, to evolve your own spirit and therefore the collective spirit. The world is the way it is because of the choices people have made, not by our doing. It is necessary that we do not interfere too much. Pressure is needed to make coal into diamonds and it is sort of the same with souls. Oppression and grief creates compassion and gratefulness. A soul has to learn certain things before it can go on to the other planes of being. This Earth-plane is a bit like soul boot-camp. Besides, don’t forget that for every utmost tragedy there is utmost joy…anyone and everyone is capable of touching both.
What is myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy purpose here? What am I supposed to do?
Whatever you want.
What do you mean, whatever I want? Don’t I have a destiny? Don’t I have a purpose that will change the world for the better? Am I supposed to be a writer? Am I supposed to do something else?
Your contribution is your entire life. Just living and experiencing is enough. Yes, you have predetermined talents, but it is up to you to discover and use them. Your destiny is yours to create. Your paths are infinite. It’s really up to you and everyone else who is on this planet.
Like ‘The Secret’? I always figured that to be somewhat of a white privilege thing.
You use intention when you do spells. Intention is universal. What “The Secret” forgets is that everyone’s will affects everyone else on the planet. As with intention, some have the tools or are placed differently, not all intentions are attainable from every place. It is important that you realize this. However, you could make someone else’s intentions possible or impossible, bring great joy or suffering to another, depending on the choices you make yourself. Collective consciousness is the lesson the human race is learning now. It will change you greatly as a species.
Really, don’t worry, robin. Just like your child who you watch on the playground we are lovingly watching you. The child may choose to dig, swing, maybe get into a fight with another child. When the child skins her knee, she runs to her mother whose arms enfold her. When the worst happens to you, you are delivered into Mother’s arms as well. Always and without fail.
I think I get it.
We think you do too.
What about trees and animals? What is it like to be them? I feel so bad for them sometimes. Nature is so harsh, and with people fucking up the natural habitat of many creatures,it must really suck to be them.
Slowly, I was filled with an utter ecstasy of being. There was no past, no future, just the moment. I took a breath and it was wonderful; I took a bite of a prune and I never tasted anything so gorgeous! I needed only to sit still to experience this ecstasy. Wow! This is how trees feel? Awesome! Animals have it pretty good if this is how they feel most of the time. Mmmmmmmmm, prune flavor was exploding in my mouth and it was so good it was making tears roll down my cheeks.
“Food is my medicine, and medicine is my food.” I said it out loud and my own voice startled me. It felt like it resonated into eternity. I could almost see the words creating a path into the watery sky. For a long time I lay on a blanket gazing on the fire and the stars. I witnessed many more things, but those are secret. All were dancing, and partying, and celebrating. The cricket merrily kept time. Feeling no fear now, I took off my clothes and danced along with the land. This is my playground. It's everyone's playground. Before the crack of dawn, I put myself in the shower and then to bed. Eyelids closed and beginning to drift, I laughed and thought of a line from “Kung Fu Panda”,
There is no secret ingredient!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
“Bleeeeigh” A kid, yes, in the baby goat sense, greets me as I stumble onto the 3 foot wooden porch outside of my little shack. I’m chuckling as I write this because Mikyla calls it, “Our fake house.” One thing that I love about the summer is that one doesn’t need much to serve as shelter. The air and shade suffices. Our 10x10 feels luxurious. The caretaker of the farm, who I will refer to as GG, which stands for Goat Goddess gives me a warm hug and welcomes me. This woman spills over with compassion for all two and four legged creatures that wander this Earth. This nurturing drive has caused her much pain in her past. I think that for most of us who feel the need to nurture this is a truth, as we do not discriminate who we are driven to heal. When we find that the sores still fester even though we’ve been giving it our all, we should draw back and realize that we are not meant to be the one to heal that person or even that the person is not meant to heal. Instead, we defiantly give more. Not out of a sense of pride but more out of a refusal to give up. Even when slaughtered, we pick up our gashed and bloody parts and offer them up if it would help anyone. When it comes to healing and replenishing ourselves, we are ridden with guilt and feel a bit selfish. At least I used to, now I revel in self nurturing, and do not punish myself for being amazingly selfish at times, like now, taking this trip. I know that my selfish journey of discovering my authentic self will replenish and inspire me to greater acts of healing and creating, as well as help me be a better mother. We cannot teach our children how to self actualize if we do not practice self actualization ourselves. Art and travel are two wonderful paths to self discovery.
I walk to the edge of the precipice that this little farm sits on. 100 feet below, a river of topaz syrup forms rapids over red, gray, green, brown and black stone. I’ve never seen water quite this color or consistency, like melted down emeralds, turquoise, and amethyst. These riches are most precious but not coveted, this is for everyone.
In a hundred years I imagine that the cliff will erode to the point where this farm will become part of the gorge. There are some places, a few places, where the combination of all of the elements come together in perfect harmony, creating a very magickal energy and healing space. This is that kind of place. It is no surprise to me that the four couples who live here full time, plus the many travelers that I’ve seen come and go, as well as the 14 dogs(6 of them just being born) that live here, are able to do so with very little conflict. Synergy is created between the people who are able to be more because of the others. Harmony between many living beings is not easy to create! In this space, it’s effortless. But it’s not just the space, but the time. Nothing is forever in this world.
GG offers me some goat milk and I hesitantly accept, remembering the goat milk of my childhood, I was afraid it would be really gamey and taste the way most goats smell, I was very pleasantly surprised and now drink about a quart of this whole food daily. What will I do when I go back to L.A. and drink the pasteurized poison from the grocery store? Eh, why worry about the future when the present is such a gift?
GG comes into the little shack and lays a pile of green buds and a little cupcake paper full of bubble hash. “Reny and Bell told me that you need this.” I felt a rush of gratitude. Reny and Bell know. I remember how well they took care of me when I went on tour with them last year. It's much better to hang onto the goodtimes and let go of the bad.
“Thank you so much!” I was completely out and still nauseous and headachy from all of the coffee, tequila, and 2o something hours of driving (not in that order so much) of the past two days. The day was a blur, I slept, I smoked, I was fed. I played with 10 baby goats that nibbled and nuzzled me. One ate a huge chunk of my hair. Mikyla ran around in ecstasy from the baby goats to the dogs to the baby chics and back to the goats. Always in the background was the constant roar of the topaz river. I went to bed before the sun, and felt more grounded when I woke up the next morning.
“We’re going on the lake today on a speed boat.” Says Bell cheerily over a cup of French pressed coffee. We packed margaritas, sandwiches, lots of bud and hash, beer, hummus, chips, fruit and water into the cooler and loaded it onto a small speed boat. Chelan Lake is the third deepest lake in the world. Like a serpent, the lakes winds for 55 miles. Where it is shallow, one can see clear to the bottom. The water is blue and green, almost like tropical, but cold. A wonder to behold.
A is a very Adonis like man in his early 20’s, vivid blue eyes and full lips, a sculpted body and windblown hair. Not a bro-ha however. A kind and generous fellow. He works for his uncle renting boats and sea dos and kyaks and so gets to take a boat for free. I see a big intertube and wakeboards attached and I know that this is gonna be phenomenal. As the boat flies through the water, liquid diamonds and emeralds erupt around us. I hold my hand in the spray, dazzled by the sparkling water slapping against my fingers. The air is sweet with the smell of hash. J, who is A’s girlfriend, held a small orange flag up anytime anyone bailed on the wakeboard or intertube. A beautiful, young woman with dark curly hair, mocha skin and big brown eyes, J seems to always be on the verge of tears but smiling at the same time. Her slim and voluptuous body brings a gasp to my lips. But more beautiful than her physical body is the impression that she is one of those who can hold the utmost joy and saddest pain all at the same time. One of the gifts, or maybe better called, responsibilities of the Goddess. Holding that kind of space is the sign of heroism, I knew that although J was young, she had been to Hades and back, and was still climbing.
Mikyla was very scared at first and didn’t even want to board the boat, but once she felt the thrill of going 60 while doing a 360 she was squeeling in delight. Soon it was Bell’s and my turn, and bell sat on my lap in the intertube. When the boat started going, the weight of my ass compared to the lightness of my feet put us in a perpendicular position to the lake, my head grazing the water and ours toes pointing to the sky. My fists held onto the handles of the intertube like vices and I screamed. My screams turned into the hardest belly laugh I’ve had in a long time. They swung us around, not satisfied until we were dumped into the lake. That shit was more fun than any rollercoaster I have ever been on. Too bad Mikyla was too scared to go on. However, I trust that she knows what kind of thrills she’s ready for, and I’m a little relieved that she is not an adrenaline junky.
The sun, the dazzling lake of precious jewels and mystery (Chelan Lake even has it's own legend of a creature much like the Loc Ness Monster), the margaritas and hash, was all so intoxicating that I felt like I was in a dream. We came back to the farm with a dinner of sweet potatoes, bok choi cabbage and wild asparagus that had been freshly gathered with some rice. Eating healthy is so easy when someone else is cooking for you.
The rest of the week went much the same way. Waves of fun, conversation, hash smoking and relaxing was the theme. I milked a goat named Brigita. Not getting much into the bucket but plenty on myself and the poor goat, it was a bit harder than I thought. It’s a process. On Friday I prepared to leave for two days as I was going to see my beautiful, ultra witchy sister at her mom’s house on the Colville Native Reservation. As I drove through the landscape on highway 97, I thought how awesome it would be seeing Emily again and meeting her mom, who is a wonderful artist and her mom's girlfriend, who is a blue haired, Native American.
For a while now, my witchy fantasy has been to do an intense vision quest alone in the wild. Little did I know, that I would achieve this spiritual goal and that the questions I had been imploring of the universe for the past year would get answered in a most spectacular and psychedelic way.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I grabbed Mikyla and left the shiny streets of Venice, CA at 4 in the morning. Wanting to get to Mount Shasta by early afternoon, I put the cruise control on 80mph and began the 9 hour trip to find myself. Why do I need to travel so far to find myself? Why am I not right here? I don’t know why but desire to go north drives me. Witchy Poo, the psychic, told me I would go on a trip this summer and it would be too expensive but I would go anyway. Back then I thought, no way, I’ll be more responsible this time. I’ll do what I’m supposed to. I’ll do what a mother is supposed to do. I’ll save money, I’ll sling lattes at Starbucks, I’ll put Mikyla in daycare so that I can make my measly 8 bucks an hour. I’ll jog, I’ll quit smoking, I’ll be what I’m supposed to be.
Then I realized that I am only capable of what I am capable of. That is following my passion. Whatever I’m passionate about seems to get done. Why do I keep trying to be “normal”? I’ll never be that person. I need to get away so that I can strip and peel all of those layers, layers of “you should be…” and “why can’t I be…” and “this is what is supposed to be important.” I needed to find what lies beneath, that would be authentic. That would be me. And then I could ask myself what it is that I’m supposed to be.
Purple clouds dripped rain as Mikyla and I walked up the path to see Castle Craggs rock at Mount Shasta. Suddenly, the rocks came into view and I sucked in a deep breath. The cinematography from Lord of the rings had nothing on this. I felt the first layer slide off of me into the wet soil.
I made dinner and drank a bottle of now, 3 buck chuck, I slipped on mud and slid on my butt the whole way down a small gorge, Mikyla squealed and laughed and so did I. Another layer came off. I folded down the back seats of the car and Mikyla, Yahoo and I slept inside, listening to the rain hit the foggy windows. I thought about the writers whose blogs I frequent. Hobo Stripper, Davka, and Carrot Quinn. They are travelers and seekers too. Of course, they are much more hardcore and brave than I am. My traveling is maybe a bit tamer and more domesticated, with my mom’s car and my savings account at my service. Even though I have my daughter with me, I feel proud that this is really the first time I am road tripping alone. Mikyla is grown not only of my flesh but of my soul as well and so being, she is part of me. She is the purest parts of me manifested into the outside world and put in my charge. I owe it to myself to teach her what is important to me.
The next day was an even longer drive. My destination was Chelan, WA, but I was meeting Sidestreet Reny in Yakima and then following them the rest of the way. An hour after leaving Mt. Shasta, I realized that I had forgotten a very important piece of luggage with all of my prescription medications for asthma and whatnot back at the camp site. I was already in Dorris, Oregon, before I reluctantly turned around and went back to retrieve it. Damn, over two hours was wasted on that.
I arrived in Yakima at 9 pm. The owners of the bar let me bring Mikyla in, they said it was okay until 11. We got to see the show and the music filled me up. Goddess, I miss their shows!
At about 2 am, we began our 3 hour treck to a little goat farm that lies on the edge of a gorge in Chelan, WA. The sun was already rising by the time we got there and I felt like I was seeing angels sitting on the car. I was very tired. I fell into a soft bed in a 10x10 shack. This would be our home for 2 weeks. Listening to the distant roaring of rapids and the morning crowing of roosters, my eyes closed. In my dreams, speckaled baby goats licked a thick coating of rasberry jam off of my neck and face.