Jul 25, 2013

Ecstatic Dance in Portland

Here is one of the SoulCollage cards I created
that represents Rhythm Sanctuary Medicine for me.
I am so blessed to have the Denver Tribe in my life.
I have grown so much from this weekly dance.
 

Last night I went to an ecstatic dance event in Portland.  This event was going to be an important influx of information for me in my decision process about moving. I had quite a bit of anticipation and curiosity about what the evening would hold.

When I arrived at the location I found it interesting that the ballroom was above a restaurant and the building looked quite small. I was concerned there would only be 10 people there (I am used to about 150 people). I decided I was going to stay for the whole event, regardless of what happened. I wanted the full dose of experience.  

When I arrived, there was no welcome sign, directives where to put my shoes, or instructions not to talk on the dance floor. There wasn't even anybody there to collect the money, just a basket to drop your money in. Entering into the space was not welcoming, however, I knew I could create my own way into the experience, so I dropped my money in the basket and proceeded onto the small dance floor. 

The first thing that struck me when I entered was that there were no altars. I could feel there wasn’t a container for the dance, and that I was going to need to be extremely self-sufficient in creating something sacred. The next thing I noticed is that there was no DJ.  Music was played from a laptop and speakers, and it was not journey music. Wow! This was not going to be what I am used to. 

At Rhythm Sanctuary (my normal weekly Denver dance), the warm up period of the dance is the most powerful for me. I get a download of medicine and set my personal intention for the evening. I was hoping the warm up in Portland would provide me that type of space, however, that was not the case. I found myself agitated at all of the people talking on the dance floor (that is a big no no at RS). People talked throughout the warm up about mundane, ordinary things, and it got to the point that the hum of conversation was louder than the music! 

I started questioning whether I would stay for the dance. I could get this type of energy from a regular dance club. I wanted a medicine journey, a shamanic tribal trance dance. I was starting to realize that was not what I was going to get, however, I was already there, and had nothing else to do, so I recommitted to my intention to stay. 

After the warm-up, the facilitator brought the group into a circle to set intention for the evening. Although the welcome was not as colorful and evocative as what I am used to, I appreciated some form of unification in the group to transport us from the talking casual warm up into what ever was going to be next. 

And then dance began….with a song that had lyrics!  Oh my goodness! Is every twist and turn of this event going to trigger me? I can get pop music at a club, I want my journey music (which has a build up, a release and wind down - and no lyrics!) Once again, I asked myself, am I going to stay? Yes, I can do this. I worked at releasing my ideas, attachments, and preferences and simply strived to be in this moment...in all of the edges and frustrations this opportunity was presenting me. 

I looked around and everybody was dancing solo, there was no partner dancing, no contact improv. This is way outside of my comfort zone and I didn’t think I could make it through the whole dance without any flesh. I moved through the dance floor feeling in to the energetic vibrations of the dancers, feeling is there were any portals into contact. It felt as if everybody had barriers around them.

The music was slow, then fast, then slow, then lyrics, back and forth in a haphazard way. It made it difficult to get into a rhythm, with myself or those around me. I gave up my desire for a journey and simply strived to be in my body as much as I could be and make the best out of it. 

In my haphazard dance, I brushed up against a man, he lingered and that second gave me a moment to initiate something, and that led into partner contact improv, finally contact. It was a sweet soft connection, he lifted me several times and we got a little groove on. More people started partnering, and touching, and sounding and I found some relief. 

All in all, it was a challenging dance for me. The music did not support a deep dive, and the community as a whole was having a hard time diving in. I found myself sitting on the stage watching the 50 or 60 people on the dance floor, and tears started to flow. The thought of moving to Portland had been building up for me, however, I knew this could not be my medicine circle every week. It was simply not enough. Leaving Rhythm Sanctuary will be one of the hardest parts about leaving Denver. What we have there is splendid on so many levels, and this Portland dance is so amateur in comparison. 

The thought occurred to me that where ever I move, I may need to rise up and contribute more to the community and offer what I have as a resource to create the medicine space I am used to, and that so many souls are hungry for. What I have access to in Denver is fabulous, and it's improbable that I will find something of that quality right away where ever I move. I may have to invest time and effort into the foundation of where I move to cultivate it. 

When the dance was done we gathered in circle and some people shared from their dance. I was one of them. I shared commentary about my experience and also honored the beauty of  the ecstatic dance community. That I can travel someplace new and immediately have access to conscious community, and through the soulful language of dance, access something meaningful. Even though I had frustrations and attachments and a lot of stuff show up  for me, I am blessed I had space to land in when I arrived in Portland, to dance and experience my edges in community space. 

I was invited to hang out with several people from the dance afterwards at the restaurant downtown. We hung out for hours, having amazing conversations and connections. They made me feel welcome, and part of the tribe. They shared with me that Sunday morning is the best dance to go to, there are a couple hundred people and more partnering. On my next trip out here, I will schedule my time so I can attend that event and get a wider view of the dance community in Portland. 

Jun 23, 2013

Living the Question

SoulCollage card created by Raven Shree.
This is a card I created when I was contemplating
where I wanted to move, which ultimately lead me
from San Diego, CA to Denver, CO.

In my last blog I shared a little about some of the things I am learning from some physical things showing up in my body. “Living the Question” through this experience has been revolutionary, and is taking me into new realms of self discovery. 

As I moved through the pain and contemplation of death, one of the first questions I asked myself was “Do I want to Live?” I was not prepared for the space of silence to follow. I thought “Yes” would emerge spontaneously, however, that is not what happened. “No” didn’t come up either. So, there I was asking myself “Do I want to live?” and not having an answer. 

As I lived this question, I noticed myself putting my seat belt on, and looking both ways before crossing a street. Something inside of me was focused on living, however, this part of me seemed primal, and trained. I examined this reality deeper and came to see I’m doing these things less out of the fear of dying, and more out of the fear of pain. Physical pain, and I image emotional pain, are things I have a big aversion to. This fear is held in my somatic being and on some level prevents me from fully living. Its an oxymoron, I know. 

The next question I started asking myself was “What am I living for?” As I contemplated how I wanted to respond to the physicality of what was happening in my body, I thought it would be good to have something anchored in my consciousness to point me forward through the darkness. Once again, I found myself with no answer. I thought an answer would come up immediately, at least one thing I am living for. One thing that drives my heart towards passionate living. But nothing...I was coming up blank. 

I shared my experience with a few people; they attempted to give me responses. They want me to live. “You love nature” one said, yes, but I am not living for nature. “You love photography” one said, yes, but I am not living for it. These are things I’m doing while I am alive, they bring me joy, but they are not what I am living for. They are not my anchor points to get me through shadow, pain, or the possibility and reality of death. 

I continued to live the question “What am I living for?”, and it took me on a powerful journey of self discovery, perfect timing as I deepen my relationship to Raven Shree, and the new me that is emerging. My old persona, my old psyche, my old way of life no longer applies. Asking these basic fundamental questions was an important way of sinking into the new flesh of what is emerging in and through me. 

I lived this question for days and still no answer. As I settled into the silence, and stopped grasping and gripping for an answer, something started to emerge, a one word response that shocked me. I felt embarrassment for having this be my answer. Can this be what I am going to live for? It’s definitely not what drove my old person, in fact this one thing was something I ascribed to weakness and vulnerability. Yet, here I was getting clarity on what I am living for, and that is Love. 

Love as a full embodied presence in the moment, love for the wind, for evolution, for people, myself, animals, everything. Love. Wow. Ok. That is pretty fantabulous. I’ll hold on to that and live into this reality and see where it takes me. 

What questions are you living? What silence emerges as a response? And what truths filter up as new guideposts for your living? I welcome your comments and shares and would LOVE to hear from you. 

Jun 17, 2013

Eye to Eye With Bear


Several years ago I did a solo twilight hike in the Shenandoah mountain range in Virginia. 

As I walked along a narrow path, I noticed a clearing ahead. I felt an energy pulsating from it, however, I couldn’t discern if it was “good” or “bad”. I  proceeded forward cautiously, and when I got there, it was ablaze with life and wonderfully amazing. 

Flowers were blooming, insects buzzing, birds singing, deer grazing. I got down on my knee and started shooting the scenery, enjoying the profound beauty singing to my spirit through color, texture and sound.

...Then all of a sudden everything went quiet. The birds flew away, the deer bounded into the thicket, even the insects disappeared. It went completely still and silent in an instant. 

I had no idea what happened, and all I could see was through my viewfinder. I slowly lowered my camera, turned around, and came face to face, with Bear. Eye to eye, with not a blade of grass between us....we dove into each others souls, it was instantaneous. 

There was a soul moment of breath, of consciousness, of kindred spirits merging. The moment was so profound, tears came to eyes. I was there, on my knees, in front of this bear, in the wild, by myself, having soul union with Bear Medicine, for the first time ever. It was deep loving making. 

I slowly rose from my knee and started chanting in Sanskrit. Sacred words from ancient elders, the many names of the divine. Our eyes stayed locked, soul to soul, Bear and I. Then he did this thing with his shoulder, and in that movement I understood his power even deeper. I’ve seen images of Bear in Indian drawings and never understood why they made their shoulders so big. Seeing this bear in the wild, I totally got it.  


I saw how he used the muscle mass in his shoulder to initiate the lift in his front arm. It was as if the ripple of movement started in his core and moved out from there. He shook his head and snorted, an action I interpreted as “Thank you for seeing me.” Bear wanted to be seen, witnessed, and acknowledged, and I did just that. 

He sauntered off the trail, walking away as I slowly started to back up, still chanting with tears of deep gratitude flowing.  After we parted ways, the totality of the experience washed over me. Holey Moley, I just came face to face with a Bear!!! 

A wave of adrenaline, fear, excitement ripped through me. I walked the trail back to my cabin, full of life, amazement, and joy to be alive. This experience transformed me in so many ways, teaching me deep lessons of courage, power, presence, love, kinship, beauty.... 

This is a SoulCollage card I created to honor this experience. Whenever I look at this card, it is an instant reminder of my connection to Bear and the lessons that came through from our interaction. 

This is a great example of how SoulCollage can be used to capture the learnings and insights of your life. Sacred imagery to capture sacred moment in your visual autobiography.  

This expiernace brought Bear into my life as my Solar Chakra Spirit Guide. I am forever grateful and moved to great deaths from this memory. 

Jun 8, 2013

Grief Into Newness

SoulCollage card I created as I started to
come though the other side of Grief. 
I recently went through a deep embodied period of time exploring and experiencing Grief. Earlier this year I had some physical things show up in my body that stopped me in my tracks; putting me in the space of contemplating mortality and preparing for death. 

I saw the experience for what it was and stepped fully into it, permissioning myself to go all the way. I kneeled at the altar of mortality for weeks, sobbing deep levels of grief, vomiting for days from the core of my belly, releasing twisted knots of sorrow burrowed in the depths of me from lifetimes of evolution. 

I started making my will, getting rid of things, contemplating the after-life, the before-life, and the infinity of it all connected together. Then I went deeper, grieving for all the ways I’ve failed to bring divinity to life. Grieving for all the ways I’ve denounced God and failed to show up fully for the most important relationship in my life. I grieved for all the ways I’ve let myself down; fessing up and owning up to my role in it all. 

Going throughout this experience with Witness consciousness engaged,  seeing it and experiencing it at the same time, was extremely powerful. 

I slowly started to rise up from the depths of the underworld, realizing I wasn’t dead yet. As I prepared to die, I started to ask myself, how can I prepare to live? This was a turning point for me, the shift that started to bring Living back into awareness. I had been a consort to death for weeks, Life  now wanted some of me back. 

I began to take more ownership in my ability to heal myself.  I listened more fully to my inner authority and made choices from that propulsion. I enacted a ritual wedding in nature, uniting myself with my primary lovers; God, Self and The Moment (lovely threesome). I began making commitments to Life and started re-engaging the fundamentals of living. 

Card I created as I started to own
the power of the depths:
Water Dragon Energy.
I stand now in the deepening of this practice, holding the forces of life and death simultaneously. Letting this union, the yin and the yang, the light and the dark, strengthen me. Letting it bring power into my human body, into my human life. To expand courage into divine living, and permission  my yearning soul to live more authentically. 

This is what my Spring has been about. It has not been about hiking, photography or workshops. It has been about dying, and living, being present, and showing up for what shows up. It is in this cauldron of actualities and improbabilities, in the mixture of  imagination and intuition, that I step into New Moon ritual tonight. 

Tonight is the last New Moon of Spring. This is the moon cycle that will carry us into the Summer Solstice. Tonight I stand in the darkness of this pregnant void, letting the primordial ooze of my being birth something new in and through me. Growing this intention as the moon gains light each night, honoring the life I have and the authentic fullness that wants to be expressed through my living.  

This consciousness will carry me into Summer; the season of fire, sun and warrior energy. And so the next leg of my journey will commence. Not due to planning on my part, but due to the natural evolution of time and being. The seasons carry me though life and death, through the infinity of light and dark. I simply ride her back,  legs quivering as I hold on, hair flying through the cosmos, yelling Yippee. What a ride this is! 

Mar 7, 2013

My Relationship with Winter

SoulCollage card I created 
to explore and express constrictions
in my psyche around Winter. 
I grew up in San Diego, CA and didn't really have winters. When I was 14, I moved to Oklahoma and experienced my first winter... with snow, freezing temperatures, and the bitter coldness of family life. My life during this time was dark and bleak. 

I left my parents as a teenager, and set out into the blizzard of a new life. With limited shelter, little food, sparse clothing...winters are deadly. They contract bones...and soul, hibernating spirit in dark regions of no-thing-ness.  

I moved back to San Diego when I was 18, and once again had no "real" winter. It 's much easier to be homeless where weather is nice, and the body and soul can open up to potentiality. 

As I evolved my 30's and developed my Wiccan practice, I came to understand Winters purpose on the Medicine Wheel, however only at an intellectual level. Since I wasn’t experiencing the true depths of Winter in San Diego, much of the dying, rooting and hibernating processes of the season had to be forced and deeply intended...and I could come out of the process when ever I wanted and go to the beach for fun and sun.  

After leaving my biological family and the cold winters of Oklahoma, I made a conscious choice to not participate in Winter. Winter sports held no appeal to me, and snowy places were totally out of the question as vacation spots. Traumas from my time in Oklahoma deeply rooted in my psyche, Winter was shadowland I avoided as much as possible. 

At the end of 2008 I went to Utah with a friend for a Death Lodge Rites of Passage Ceremony. It was winter. There was snow and cold, however, we had a cabin, clothes and food. My relationship with winter healed dramatically on this trip. I  discovered that with right provisions, Winter is doable. When needs are met, I can even have fun in Winter. 

With my relationship to winter and cold healing, I no longer needed to stay in San Diego because of the weather. More places in the world opened up as possible locations to live. My inner gypsy could come out to play. This time I would not be running away from something...but rather, running towards something. A much way to move! 

I moved to Denver, CO and experienced my first winter on the other side of my healing. I engaged in winter sports of shoveling walkways, grocery shopping in blizzards, and learning how to layer clothing in fashionable ways. Living in Colorado supported me in deepening my understanding of Winters medicine at an experiential level, enabling me to go much deeper in my journey through the Medicine Wheel.  

I can now immerse myself in the wisdom source of Winter and the north direction on the Medicine Wheel. As my relationship with Winter heals, I am more able to come into stillness, and the cave of rooted being 


Here are some of my SoulCollage card exploring the theme of Winter in my Life,  
and at a collective level for the cultivation of Soul. 

Transforming Poison into Elixir  (childhood healing card) 

Divine Download of Light 
(merging Crown Chakra with direction of North on Medicine Wheel) 


The Crone;  Death Doula of Rebirth


Mar 5, 2013

Arrival

Mountain Range I drove alongside
on my way to Southern Colorado. I love the cloud
moving across the sky mirroring the snowy peaks. 

I arrived at my hotel in Alamosa. The man that checked me in was nice. No elevators, so I make several trips up the stairs with all my gear. After two trips, I am ready to settle in. I open my window and see that it opens to the inside courtyard of the hotel. This will not work. I need a window to the outside. I need to see the sun rise and set, and the moon wane this last moon cycle of winter. I am here to honor the season, and I need to see it! 

I request a new room. The man puts me in another room on the same floor so I don’t need to haul my gear down the stairs. The room is in the back of the hotel. I am the only one on this side. The room is not as nice as the other one, however, the window opens to the back alley, 
and that is more important to me. I take it. 

I start the process of moving my stuff from one room to the next. The man offers to help, however, I want and need the exercise; I make an adventure of it. Due to the hall structure of the hotel, I have to walk all the way around the hotel to move rooms. As I circumnavigate this new space that will be my home for the next 4 nights. I find myself calling in the directions of the medicine wheel. 

My first room was in the direction of south, which governs power, energy and Summer. My new room is in the north, the direction of Winter, the season I am here to honor. My new room anchors in the compass point of the season I am here to immerse myself in. Even the candy in the rooms is different. In my first room, they were white. In my new room, they are dark brown. The universe is amazing in how she lines up things.

I move my car closer to my room. To do so, I have to park at the back of the building where there is no one else. I appreciate the theme of this dark alleyway as an entry portal into my final winter ceremony. I step out of my car, look up, and see a huge shooting star fly across the cosmos. The universe lights up for me. A sign I am on the right path. 

I made a wish on the shooting star; I wished for love to enter all beings with every inhale. I take a deep breath myself, inhaling love for this exact moment, and officially welcome myself to my journey.   

I step into the ceremony of honoring winter and the lessons I moved through this season with the 2012 Shift. I move into the consciousness of wrapping up Winter and being prepared to step into the season of Spring from a more integrated and evolved standpoint. 

Feb 4, 2013

Sustainable Shifts: Conserve Water


We are all responsible for making choices that support a healthy planetWater is a precious resource, without it, there is no life. With population increasing and fresh water supply decreasing, it's imperative we make conscious choices now to conserve water

Many of us have had access to clean, running water all our lives, and may take it for granted. Here are some simple shifts you can bring into your daily life to honor the sacred element of water on this planet. 

* Take showers instead of baths. This one is hard for me. To compromise, I plug the bath up when I take a shower, sit in the rain, and get the best of both worlds. When not washing my hair, I then use my bath water to water my plants. 

* Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap. Then water your plants with the rinse water.

* Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and save 25 gallons a month. Turn off the water while you shave and save up to 300 gallons a month. Teach your children to turn off faucets tightly after each use.

* Flushing the toilet every time you use it calls on a lot of water. If all you do is pee, you do not need to flush the toilet every time. You can also upgrade older toilets with more water efficient models. 

* Support projects that use reclaimed wastewater for irrigation and industrial uses. Share with others what you are doing. Model these actions.

* Catch rain water in buckets and barrels in your yard and use that to water your plants. 

We are the change we need in the world. We are the ones, born into this time to make a difference. Be a steward for vital living and honor the great earth in how you live your life.  

Jan 28, 2013

Global Warming & the Pine Beetle


In my Naturalist training with the Audubon Society we've been exploring the effects of increased CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) in our atmosphere, and how what is going on in Colorado effects the larger world.

The current increase of CO2 in our atmosphere comes largely from burning fossil fuels, such as combusting coal, driving cars and flying planes (basically participating in the western way of living we've created since the industrial revolution). This increase of CO2 is a leading cause of the global warming effects we are experiencing and leaving for our children and future generations. 

One of the models we explored was how the effects of the Colorado Pine Beetle ties into the larger ecological processes happening in the world. As many of you know, large amounts of pine trees are dying in Colorado due to the Pine Beetle. We have always had the Pine Beetle, but many of them would die off in the cold winters, which kept their effects contained. Due to global warming, winters in Colorado are not cold enough to kill the Pine Beetle, which has enabled them to proliferate at extreme rates, killing 80-90% of the pine trees in many Colorado counties. 

Trees are not only dying in Colorado, forests are dying all over the world, due to heat and water stress, deforestation and fire. As a result, more and more of the trees that take in and cleanse CO2 from our atmosphere are being reduced. CO2 has to go somewhere, and a lot of it is making it's way into our oceans, which in turn is making our oceans more acidic. Marine life forms the foundation of our food chain on so many levels. To turn our oceans into acid...well, that's just not a vital solution for the future if we want a healthy planet.  

Now back to the trees.... We have less snow falling, with less trees providing shade, which means the snow we do get melts faster, which means our drier summers are more intense, and with less water supplies fires becomes more destructive, which means more trees get destroyed, releasing more CO2 into the air... and the cycle continues and increases. 

Wowee...so much interconnectedness with what happens in one area of the world and how it affects everything else. The planet has gone through many shifts in it many billion of years; species have been wiped out due to many factors, and that may be a cycle we are moving into now. Those of you with children want a vital, alive and healthy place for your offspring to prosper. Those of us in love affairs with nature want the ecology of the planet to be healthy and vital, so animals can continue to rear their young and the oceans can continue to be clean waterways for life. So what can we do....?


Jan 9, 2013

First New Moon of 2013

SoulCollage card I created to honor
my New Year Intentions.

What a powerful moon cycle this has been! I remember the beginning of this cycle, the New Moon on Dec 13th, on the other side of The Shift, and setting my intentions for how I wanted to be present, receptive and authentic as I moved through the portal into the New Era. 

That buildup culminated in a beautiful celebration at Rhythm Sanctuary’s Winter Solstice event on Dec 20th, with amazing and profound insights activated. 

Then the moon became full on Dec 28. I celebrated this fullness with members of my community by “Spiraling through the Chakras” at an event I hosted at my home temple. Then, as the moon began to wane, I entered into a 6 day Death Lodge process, engaging in deep devotional work, honoring the shedding and release of the old. 

My first steps into the New Era were not bold and adventurous, they were tentative and hesitant. “How do I integrate my ideas and desires of transformation into an embodied reality?” 

This type of questioning supports my intention for this new year, which is to live the questions. My desire is not to define everything, but rather to live the questions:  “How can I love more fully today?” “How can I be more authentic in this now?” “How can I be a Clear Channel for the light?” Living these questions, and recommitting to them over and over again, and somewhere along the way, the answers will find their way into my soul, into my life, into my constant reality. 

And so here we are now, coming to the end of this powerful moon cycle, getting ready to enter back into the dark phase of the new moon, a time fertile with possibility. A great time to recommit to your soul intentions, to the new era you are birthing through how you live your life, internally and externally.  

What questions are you living?