Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The restless river begins its churns
tossing me from current to current
the waves are loud
its questions nattering away at me

i am lost in this endless sea
i cry out to an eternal sky, still and distant from my panic
save me from this sea!

It stays quiet in its watching
and offers no paddle boat to safety
although i sense its softness
i am battling with the waves to reach it

I want to know life intimately. I want to walk the ragged edges of the sensuous dance that gives life. I am no longer interested in the answers, although i catch myself grasping for them from time to time. There is a curiosity in the unknowing that the fear can't touch. It a deathly hand grappling to take you from the edge of the cliff that one finds themselves on. Yet the cliff is the imprisonment. Freedom is found in one's releasing from it's embrace. There is no safety in the answers, despite the story our minds attempt to feed our security. There also is no security, despite the structures we attempt to erect to save ourselves. The structures are only new form to what was formless. The closer i move to them, the quicker they evaporate. There is meaning in the moments between. The meaning feeds the still moment before coming to it's death at an unknowable time. The meaning too can be an imprisonment, if you allow it to shape you and cling to it when it is attempting to find release. Behind it lies the timelessness, the dark space of the great void. The space from which we came and from which we will arise again. Although the disintegration of the meaning feels like suicide, the suicide belongs to the ego, not the voice of the soul. The soul does not seek safety in structures but instead seeks to liberate itself to it's own expression, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant in the greater realm of things. I imagine it is the point of liberation the suicide longs for, unaware that they can find it in life. It is life breathing into itself within the very shadow of death.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Under the divine light of the moon...

It was at the end of this night, that I had the opportunity to bare witness to his full moon pipe ceremony.
I never actually asked the Sundancer to describe the teachings of the pipe or the how he conceptualized the responsibilities or medicine of a pipe carrier to be. He did however speak about the sacred relationship he maintained with his pipe from time to time. When describing his original interest and impulses in exploring polyamory, he explained that the concept of multiple relationships originated with the relationship he had with his pipe that he eventually had to open up to include Bhurlesquey. He spoke of the sacred marriage that happened between a woman and a man when they were joined by the pipe, and that if in a marriage ceremony, a relationship was blessed by the pipe, it was bound to last forever. In my lineage of celtic shamanism we have a relationship with our mala's as called in the peruvian traditions of shamanism, a mesa. These are our medicine bundles, reflections of our microcosom within the macrocosom and in relationship with the blessed stone people that carry the wisdom of our ancestors in their ancient wisdom. Each stone had unique medicine and worked in relationship with us on specific archtypal themes. Because I was working on creating a strong relationship with my bundle, despite the tension of my colonized mind, I had context for the relationship he was describing. What was foreign to me however was how to add another into this relationship. Since my relationship with myself had emerged I had failed to sustain any long term commitments with romantic others. I had felt deeply and learned many things for and with partners that came through the last seven years, but I always had one foot in and one foot headed out the door. I was waiting for "the meeting". One of the things I would come to cherish most about the Sundancer was the uncompromising humility in devotion that he displayed when he was in prayer. From the womb of the big box case, he removed the peices of his pipe and assembled them in preparation. Smudging and in deep prayer, he began offering his pipe to the 7 directions. Observing him in prayer, evaporated the boundaries of time and of his individual persona in the world. It was if he had enetered a different dimension and I was no longer part of the picture. I was deeply moved by the ease in which he slipped into this state and the commitment felt within the energy of his peaceful devotion to all that is mother. I focused on opening myself completely to this experience and deeply uniting with the energy present. I felt as if I was in a vortex of timelessness, the air was fuzzy and my body tingled. By the time the ceremony was over, I was filled with a gleeful excitment born of the stimulation of new openings within oneself. A melting of a boundary. The sundancer came back slowly. His eyes retreatedly coming back to reality. "Hmm...that was an interesting energy" he said contemplatively while looking down at his pipe carefully dis-assembling the peices and putting them away. "What energy?" I asked. "Your medicine" he said, as if he was slowly re-appearing in this reality. "My medicine is an "interesting" energy?" I asked inquisitively. "Umm hmmm" he said in that way that he reflexively displays a curious sensitivity. "It was a foreign energy, he said, "a deep dark feminine energy. Not a bad energy...just a dark one". He had felt the white owl medicine. White Owl was my spirit name. A name I was given in my post-graduate existential crisis to help me understand my path in the world. A spirit name serves as a road map to understanding who you are, the purpose of your life's initiations, what medicine is born of them and what gifts you bring to the world. In order to understand it you have to watch and know the medicine carried by the animal and see the threads of these behaviors in your own life, generally forming a pattern. The white owl was nocturnal, rotates her head in a full circle and sees clearly in the dark. She has been associated with the dark goddesses of old, a messenger between the worlds of nature and spirit, earth and air and the virtue of wisdom. Not surprisingly she was also the totem of my lineage, which I would only discover a year into my apprenticeship.
Carrying white owl medicine was both a burden and a gift. My inuit Elder used to say "your greatest gifts are your greatest burdens, no one asks for them, but you must use them anyway". This medicine was born of struggle, of hardship, desperation and pain. A pain consistently seeking to be healed. A pain that would take me into many deaths, many periods of mourning and many transformative births. Coming to learn, identify and know the inner workings of shadow in my own life and in the collective society, as it was her dark corners that called out to me, helped me to neutralize the judgements i placed on good or bad, right or wrong. As such, i had a deeper capacity to hold a neutral healing space for others to unveil their "un-desireables" and not face rejection. The underbellies did not scare me the way they do a sleeping sapling. At the same time, the medicine i carried would mean the shadows of the people connected to me would be shaken up. Everytime, I passed through a new initiation so too would those connected to me and most would run for the hills. The shadow of the soul is perhaps one of the most mis-understood concepts of spirituality within the patriarchial dream. Our lost connection with the divine feminine has disregarded her. Banishing her into the unconcious, screaming for attention and if ignored, ravenous in her pursuit of acknowledgment. But this was only one of her faces. The other face when given concious permission of expression is that of deep nurturing, fertility, sustenance and abundance. The soul is fed of the seedlings of the shadow. As a person worked to mine the unconcious, seedlings of self and therefore existential knowledge emerged out of the darkness and integrated into embodied conciousness. But there is no birth without death. If it was summer all year round, we would never see spring, because there was no winter of re-generation of ecological cycles promoting new growth. Yet even in our dissassociation from nature, we are able to understand the simple truth that it is not possible for it to be summer all of the time. A flower only has so much time in bloom before blossoms return to the earth for the re-generation of a new cycle. The shadow was the dark, the unacknowledged, the unconcious, the fertile, the gestation. The white owl medicine illuminated it, so that the soul could be liberated from the tension in between, over and over and over again. Unfortunately, in a patriarchial, repressed and unconcious society, the shadow has completely been disowned and when triggered the unconcious individual experiences a primordial terror. A primordial terror that our ancestors understood to be a natural defence of the ego to the death of it's roles and identities and maintained initiatory rites of passage to teach an individual how to meet such challenges. None the less an accepted aspect of the natural order of nature. Entering into a conjoint place of prayer had opened up the Sundancer's ability to energetically feel me and read the pulse of my medicine. The raw, fertile and re-energative energies of the feminine had also touched him. He attempted to neutralize the impact of these verbally, but I could see in his body language, it made him just a wee bit uncomfortable.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A visit from the sacred masculine...

I left that weekend with replaying thoughts of a budding seed that had taken root while there. I wasn't sure what it meant, or how I would come to know it, but I felt it land deep in my core. This is the way in which I come to learn that the voice of my truest self is trying to be known. Its the feeling that arises deep within me that something said, something is witnessed or something i've experienced has hit an unknown button that is in the very near future going to come to be known. My teacher had spoken about the divine feminine being within the land. In Celtic history, it was understood that the king that watched over the kingdom of a village was indeed chosen by the land and as such the king would remain her servant, listening for her voice and heeding her guidance when making decisions that concerned the community.
The archetypal motif beneath the currents of this materialization, is that the womb of dreaming in the medicine of the divine feminine holds and gestates the wisdom that the eternal masculine then alchemicalizes and puts into action. The masculine contained the energy of fire. She explained "most of the work we do here is healing the internal masculine within the women that come to the lineage, so that the two can come back into balance". I thought about the social issues I had studied in my social work career affecting women in the patriarchal dream and could recognize the imbalanced masculine that we advocated for in the feminist movements. Our conciousness stuck within the dream, imagining the power we tried so desperately to reclaim lay within the hands of the oppressive actors enacting their worldly drama. I thought about the vision of womens community I so carefully crafted from the threads of my healing journey and how it still held these components. Except this time the imbalanced masculine got to "work on" our inner selves. The warrior rising to meet the villain of our pain and go to a battle of fire and brimstone vigorously hacking out what didnt belong to us. And then I thought about the tenderness in the land that had called me to it. That I had moved onto only in the spring of this year. That her gentle whispers contained the message of beginning to gather the women whom my trials of fire had destined me to meet. I had nurtured the gentle nature of her womb on this land, harnessed her medicines of receptivity, but who was the masculine that would help support this womb and in participation of it's healing bring forth a balance by the time it manifested in the world? I thought about the Sundancer's arrival into my life and the medicines that he carried. While these questions and contemplations remained strong I would need to go and speak to him. Perhaps he and I were on our own archetypal journeys, coming together to reflect some of these very lessons. Like me, the Sundancer lived with a constant state of existential yearning. Although I had known many others that wrestled with the inner angst of existential impulses, I had never met someone with quite the same commitment to answering them. Additionally, although we had our own unique set of intepretations regarding the teachings of the old ones that we had each received in our own unfoldings, he was the first man I have come face to face with in a romantic way that reflected so much of what I beleived to be true, yet from a masculine angle. Studied in Indigenous thought and having worked and been initiated into many Aboriginal communities and rights of passage, he maintained a deep reverent relationship with his pipe and had taken a four year pledge to Sundance. Leaving the retreat I picked up Madison and drove directly to his apartment. Burlesquey had gone to Vegas for the weekend and he was on his own. As usual he opened up the door with glowing eyes and gentle joy in his smile. My heart lept. After putting Madison to bed in the loft, I made my way down the stairs to join him in the living room. When I entered the room, he stood up and walked over to where I was standing, his arms on my shoulders and staring joyfully into my eyes. "What do you want?" he whispered. "I'd like to honor you". My body stiffened, the awkward fidget that comes up when I feel vulnerable and confused began to twitch. Trying to look at the floor, and shuffling my feet in one place, the rest of my body started to stiffen. I had become speechless. He continued to stand in silence, embracing me in his arms. "Tell me what you need Erica" he whispered again. "Do you want a massage?... Do you want to be held? Let me know what you need and I will give it to you". My lips would still not part to utter a word of reply, my thoughts were racing, anxiously trying to track the discomfort I was experiencing in responding to his question. "Needs?" I thought to myself. "what are my needs? and why is it so foreign to say what they may be out loud? Why do I feel such terror ripple through me at the thought of having to admit what they might be?" I didn't have a problem negotiating my pragmatic needs in relationship, asserting myself when i needed to, setting boundaries and letting the other person know what i did and did not find acceptable. But it seemed, asking me to identify and speak to the most tender, vulnerable, intimate needs was a risky option loaded with a bucket of gunfire waiting to dig into each half healed wound within the tissues of my intimacies. "It's alright" he said reassuringly, "i'm patient. I'll just stand here and continue to hold you until you're ready to tell me". A tiny breathe seemed to break through the constricted spaces in my lung capacity and sighed a little sigh of relief that I had time, yet I still wasn't confident I'd have the answer soon. We may be standing there for awhile. Twenty minutes later, he broke the silence. "Alright.. can I give you a massage?" He asked. I nodded shyly and went about preparing to lay down to receive. My body still frozen in holding, as I maneuvered myself onto the ground. We spent that night wrapped in eachother's arms until almost 2 am, speaking gently to eachother about what my weekend had been like and exchanging perspectives on some of the things that were coming up for me as a result. "How can I represent the masculine on this land so that the sacred masculine both as an energy and in it's human form is paying it's reverance to the healing women will receive in this place?" I asked him. After several moments of silence and contemplation, he advised in building the landscaping structure of the cermonial space in the back field, that I build a sacred fire holding the energy of the masculine and that this energy can be balanced with the planting of a tree with the positioning of what might look like a yin and yang symbol if drawn out in outline. It would be a brilliant start. Yet if the fire was truly to represent the energies of the sacred masculine, it would also need to be built by the sacred masculine. Just like the energy of the firekeepers that tend and prepare the fire for the womb of the lodge at womens full moon lodges, this offering would hold that energy of the sacred masculine's holding and reverance for this land and the women that gathered here. I wanted to ask him, but posing the question made me feel extraordinarily vulnerable. I had watched him pull back from me in the month that he ran and re-negotiate his boundaries differently upon return. He was here alright, but he still hadn't arrived. My heart was too attached to him to feel like i had the capacity to house a rejection for even this simplest of tasks, loaded with a meaning so deep and so foriegn it was too hard to articulate. The question would need to wait, but i was on notice, something really beautiful was happening here and most days I could hardly beleive it had arrived.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sacred Sexuality

Sacred Sexuality

The singer of all songs...

Although my questions on sexuality were active in my summer explorations, so too was the re-emerging performer that Calleach had returned to me through the midwifery of my dreams, the alchemy of my healing. My artist had gone under in the early periods of recovering from my sexual trauma, the voice that had protected me had buried itself in the ground. I would learn in my shamanic studies in the autumn, that not only was it the voice that was buried, but it was some of my soul parts carrying the medicine of the way i expressed myself in the world. Without my tools, there could be no art. Without the art, there could be no expression. Without the expression, there was no medicine. The second shamanic weekend of this year in the apprenticeship, in the time of the east, we were to re-claim wounded parts of the maidens that continued to live in us all. When I journeyed on this, i was shown an array of images of dancing with my father as a child. My feet pressed on the tops of his, while we waltzed around the kitchen floor. My childlike eyes were wide with wonder and awe, at this magnificent embodiment of the masculine that was my dad.
Images of us singing together and him reminding me that I needed to stop singing from the front of my mouth. A crashing and choking of the unhinged beauty that flowed like a river from my essence, one of the first obstructions that would serve to teach me later the lessons I required to continue walking my path as a medicine woman. We were to journey to Brigid requesting a healing prayer, poem or was no surprise that what I was given was indeed a song. "On the shells of broken dreams, lies a secret way of being. Hold your light up to the sky, Oh my child don't let it die. Don't let it die, don't let it die, oh my child keep it alive. Don't let it die, don't let it die, oh my child keeps you alive. Keeps you alive, keeps you alive, oh my child don't let it die". We would gather at the river and amongst the drumming, create prayer boats to send along the river, offering our incantations allowed and in the silent witness of our sisters. That by doing so the healing was complete, the blocks, the river's medicine teaches us of the flow of life and spirit. If it was your time to speak you would feel it in your body and yell stop to halt the drumming. The silence that befell the admonitions of vulnerability of the deepest kind was deafening. I was attempting to listen to the subtelties of my body expected to alert me to my position in line, but at this point lay laden with ripples of intensifying fear. It was a terror that coursed through my para sympathetic nervous system, my body attempts to shake it out through knee knocking and quaking full body quivers. It seemed of the 24 women, we were down to two and I was one of them. Aftering spitting out the word stop in an act of surrender, i grimly and hastily made my way to the water. In ankle deep currents, i balled over and began to sob. Not quietly, or submissively, but in loud quakes of anguish. Like a tsunami of energy propelling itself from the very core of my being. And out of that quake, a fragile and small, soft, aching voice I could not muster the ability to settle from its quaking, creaked out of me. One ripping word after another, the blockages in the drainpipes had been faced down, the garbage deflected with the mighty currents of drain-o. Although my voice had only made its way out as a whisper, it had begun it's tough climb out. It had reminded me of life and the feeling one experiences when life pumps through one's veins. I felt the depth of release only a soulshaping orgasm is capable of manufacturing. My teacher would later say that her witness of this moment in my journey was a profound chord cutting, the shredding of this ballooned image that had been driving me, completely deflated and my own personal power returned to me. Sexuality had caused me to shut down my voice and bury my self expression, as such the shadows of the dark feminine ravenously devoured layers and layers of the dark sides that lay behind the primordial push of our animalistic drive toward mating. Yet as my sexuality was faced with an opportunity to heal, so too my performer appeared, reminding of the other peices of this complicated image. And as i re-claimed my performer, my sexuality in turn continued to transform, there became less desire for the expression of physical pentration and instead more of an art of seduction. A seduction that needn't actually be fulfilled, for in it's fulfillment it would successfully kill out it's reason for existence, which was the art and the expression of the deep crevices of eros.

Monday, October 22, 2012


The next morning, Mehr still greeted me with respect and loving kindness. He was of his own accord but still sensitively checking in, the affections born of our connection the night before still present but not enamoured. I anxiously awaited a visit from the shaming internal voices, waiting for them to begin their reign of terror. Their attempts at wreaking havoc upon my sense of self respect for drunkedly disrespecting myself by jumping into bed with yet again a perfect stranger. Curiously, those voices never came. There was both a closeness and a distance that remained between us. Our closeness born of the extremly intimate bonding that had taken place just hours before, yet a distance in our knowing that what happened for us in those hours did not follow a lengthy getting to know one another, 'nor did it seem either of us felt it neccessary to do so because we had united in that way. I was deeply touched by what happened that night for a number of reasons. I think for many of us, sexuality is not seperate from a moralistic view on what frameworks are appropriate for engagement. In my experiences individually and from what I have observed in others, we attempt to moralistically arrive at viewpoints, informed by our questions and therefore experiences in the world that we then develop values, principles and codes of conduct that determine our methods and limits of sexual engagement. The challenge of course is that if we construct and live out these things with a rigidty, we impose our mythologies that are relevant for a time but ultimately come to a place of obstructing the ways in which we may be challnged to grow, or more importantly be given opportunity to heal. Although I was able to detect that there were two underlying impulses that drove my sexuality, one of self honoring and one of self destruction, I was still attempting to define these behaviors through the lens of these structures. I assumed up until this point that when i "jumped into bed too quickly" was when i was in the mode of objectifying myself and that if i gave rise to the lengthy dance of romantic intimacy prior to engaging someone physically, as i was exploring with sundancer, that i was awakening to the calls of self honoring. What made this experience with mehr so different from the ones with the others, in which my crossing the threshhold of engagement left me with days of enshadowed consequences? Specifically because at the onset of my engagement with Mehr, he as a person did not entice in me a deep feeling of interest. I still do not have the answers to this question, yet a few observations have explained how deeply moved i was by this experience. Mehr and I had connected under some seemingly similar contexts as many other one night explorations had taken shape along my destructive history. Yet from the beginning he demonstrated honor and respect. He had taken interest in my replies to his questions through out the night about who i was and what i was passionate about in the world. I had watched his reactions to me like a hawk throughout the evening. I could sense his desire and observed if his desire was in fact enticed by me and shaped by the environment or whether he was in a state of desiring overall. Although he mingled with many different people throughout the night as the rest of us had, he did not demonstrate a seething desire for others, yet in fact had his eye on simply me for the duration of the evening. Yet there were so many beautiful women present. His passion for me while we were making love was genuine and authentic, ruthless but also gentle. He respected himself and respected me by seeking to protect himself without any dialogue on how his pleasure might be obstructed by wearing a condom, an experience i have had so many times before. When we awoke in the morning, he did not try to overcompensate on behalf of what we had experienced the night before either by pretending to be more involved with me than he really was or by treating me like i was as insignificant to him as i might have been when he met me only the night before. Neither of us had any reason to make this out to be anything other than it was. A beautiful and deeply intimate sharing of two people, in one space in time, if only for the pure reason of our mutual pleasure and enjoyment. A beautiful transparency, lost of any fictional dramas or stories meant to justify what was already justifiable. What made it even more beautiful for me was the lack of a need either of us displayed in securely protecting the experience for ourselves and seeking to replay it. In his coming to kiss me goodbye before leaving the firespinner/wyldewoman household the next day, the simple goodbye represented all that had been. A closeness and a distance. There were no phonenumbers exchanged, an asking of when we might see eachother or how we might continue what we had begun. 'Nor did i secretly hope for one and anxiously grapple with why it was not occuring. It was like a brilliant unfolding of gratitude in the present without seeking to hold, control, make pain out of, tell a story abount but instead just allow it to be, for what it is, for what it was, for what it needed to be. Yet in the tenderness of that kiss, there was also a respect, an honor and an acknowledgement for what there was and what there had been for one single moment in the eternity of time. It seemed finally, my fast was broken, I had come out of the insatiable devorous hunger that the forced abstinence of my sexual expression had seethed and prowled for and in it's surrender had been given that which i was seeking but never coming up against. I didn't know if it would happen again and it didn't matter, because something in me was free and for once i trusted that whatever moments were next to come, whatever gifts they brought with them or lessons to impart, would be the right ones, in their own rightness of time and rightness of place. In the meaantime I would continue my journey stumbling blindly through the dark, presented with new experiences for trial and error and just trying to continue to identify and honor the feelings in my body, trusting them as the only source of truth as my guide.