Woke up from a night of intermittent sleep and howling winds to a clear blue sky and thick ice on Sir's water bucket. But in comparison to the extreme commutes I glimpsed on the morning news feed of friends, from my blanketed comfort zone, my work schedule on this blustery cold day is a dream. I'm working right now, in fact, as Alice Sara Ott plays Chopin piano waltzes for the delight of Tigs and Tux, destined to stay in until temps climb to today's high of 30. Mid-20's is quite a bit warmer than -11 currently playing in my hometown back in Illinois. Winter work for me today is centered on clearing channels, residing in open space, working with the energy of light, and learning the healing powers of sound. And writing of course, from a variety of positions. Starting here with the first blog post of 2014. Aloha!
The photo shows one of my main work stations: the pillow on the journey rug in the workroom, with the apophylite and amethyst that often hold the high chakra ground while I work, and are known to be effective in such a position for the work. The word work shows up four times in that sentence, and that's indeed the word for it. Doing the work is a real thing, as is the writing or editing work I'll also do today, from another work station in a comfy chair looking out at the blue. Which is a different kind of real work from the laundry, or the soup stock making also on the docket today. No driving required, no money spent, and I can attend to my old horse, Sir's, hydration by carrying out hot water buckets throughout the day. Simple, but effective, allowing perfect movement breaks. The simplicity and balance of today and today's winter work is a joy, and I am grateful for the myriad small and immense wonderments all around me. The light is phenomenal.
Basically, we're all doing the work of transformation on various levels.. Winter work here today includes turning bones to clear liquid; turning ideas into exchanges that in turn transform into checks in the mailbox; turning blue sky and ice into tankas; turning sound into healing. The foundation of all transformation is open space filled with light, and the different ways we real-ize and work with it through our minds and soul's knowing.
In journeying, I look in and out at the same time, with eye covering blotting out all light. Headphones feed my mind with repetitive drumming by a group of fellow practitioners, keeping the theta waves going in a sound-generated lifeline to this world, the lifeline I literally journey on so I can get back. Doing the work requires being in multiple dimensions at once, going into other worlds or realms at will, interacting with the assistance and guidance of helpers, and bringing back energy to this world. In remote work, that energy gets transported through Middle World to the client wherever he or she may be.
So, as in dreaming, there's a lot of traveling, which is why it's called journeying; a lot of interactions and transmissions. The mind receives an amazing array of information through many channels, visual, audible, sentient, metaphysical; yet to the ordinary reality eye, nothing happens. There's nothing seen, eyes are closed, there's nothing said, and nothing done. A dance of embodied spirit with disembodied spirit that medicine men and women have danced through the world for hundreds of thousands of years.
In meditative practices, such as with the Warrior Syllables I'm doing at present, another kind of relation to open space is happening. Mind is stilled, channels in the body where the chakras spin clear and open, obstacles are removed, and groundedness in space allows positive qualities to spontaneously manifest. Doing this type of practice before journeying, and others such as discharging energy through placing my hands on the crystal clusters set up for that job, readies me for the work. Doing it for my personal attunement is, I'm discovering, essential. And as a practice for healing, it is most effective. I am just beginning to learn this technique. The ability of masters to affect cellular structure through this practice is astonishing and seems miraculous; it is in truth an adept use of open space. For me it is another area of work in progress. To the ordinary eye, naturally, it appears as if nothing is happening.
Which brings me to the famous line by the poet W. H. Auden that poetry makes nothing happen. Nothingness is the primary field of interest in my poetry and critical work. I can't help it, it enthralls me. Here again is the awareness of open space as the stuff of life, what the universe is made of, what we are made of. Looking out on this clear blue sky day, it appears there's nothing happening. The wind moves through the high treetops, and they respond with their own movement and sound. The wind chimes on the porch play a few notes, in tune with Chopin. In open space what arises arises, what disappears disappears. Without open space nothing would happen. Nothing does happen. I love my work: to let the arisings come through, let the open space fill with light, and energy transmit and transform. When I do my work, I aspire to be a hollow reed the wind blows through, creating sound and resonant vibration that affects matter across time and space. I myself do nothing.
Okay, back to work! May your winter work be warming and transforming. Oh, and speaking of those two things, it may be a perfect day for this alchemical medicine: Jane Grigson's Celery Soup, a genius recipe from Food52. May your journey home be magically assisted by helpers in many forms.
On days like this when the sun comes out after days of cloudy rain, the river calls and I walk on down the road. I just took this snap of the Sandy River coursing down from Mount Hood fresh with rainwater and snow. Yesterday's big rain had it churning brown when I drove over the high bridge where I stood today to take this shot, now transformed into its frothy jade green look. Two ravens circled high above, giving an oracle that I heard interpreted as keep going, and variations including perseverance furthers, and go with the flow.
The Incredible String Band's Water Song came to mind and I sang the line wizard of changes, teach me the lesson of flowing back to the river, as I often am impulsed to do around flowing water. Being in flow as part of All instead of sitting on the bank with your worries feeling out of flow is an image I've received from others who work with invisibles, with assisting self and others in raising frequency, transforming fear to love, trusting and participating in flow. The way we assist each other, encouraging, inspiring, and sometimes directly transmitting information or energy through and to each other is reflected by the mirror all around us. Just then, the message from the ravens, the sound of the river swollen with yesterday's rain, the resonance of what I was watching with the metaphor from the written material on flow, and the welcome rays of the sun did their stuff and I received the benefit in mind, body and spirit, helping me sync with flow.
In doing shamanic work – and in many other modalities of healing, lightworking, wayshowing, channeling, dreaming up – part of the assist comes from the practitioner's connect, gifts, and medicine, certainly. But a lot of what is going on is in the connect in us all: the connection of the people working, but also the connect that happens within the person receiving the work. What information, inspiration, guidance, helpers, wisdom, energy, power you personally connect with that was needed, to return to flow and raise your hum.
Sometimes I describe shamanic work as energetic jumper cables from one human battery to another. Sometimes each of us needs a jump to start up again and get back on the road, so we can go with the flow. Sometimes we need encouragement, support, information, affirmation, or a key energetic component we don't feel, can't see or locate. News we can use. The receiving of that is deeply connective and reflective, awakening parts of our soul that were fragmented, lost or sleeping, freeing shadow parts from the dark shameful closet we've locked them in. Helping each other through our helpers, our shared fragility, our innate insight and gifts, our connection happens in each moment, all around us in nature and beyond, throughout the universe.
When we're in flow, the universe flows to us and through us. Our brains light up and we feel that sense of group belonging psychological experts tag as essential to a person's well-being. We can each connect with flow and allow it to flow through us as we travel through our day, in traffic, at the store, at work, with our peeps, or in nature, seemingly solitary as I often am, but never alone. When you're in flow you can feel you are one with Source, and things are easier, simpler. What you're looking for turns up, whether it's a parking space, that thing in the junk drawer you need, the name of the guy you were supposed to contact, or the next step in your career, home, or relationship situation. The phone rings, the email pings, the eagle flies by overhead. Ideas come to your writing or project and revisions are obvious, delightful.
Living so close to a river is an excellent mirror, or flow chart if you will, and I've been fortunate to find myself living near several through the years. Each day the river is different and fluctuates wildly. Each drop of water is unique and different than any before or after it. Yet it's all river, and all rivers flow to Source. And from the source, come to think of it. Conditions affect flow but flow continues, sometimes more than we think we can handle, sometimes less than we think we need. Learning the lesson of flowing is the work of many lifetimes, but in essence, simplicity itself.
If you are feeling out of flow, what will help you return? It might come through stillness, movement, silence, or sound; words or dreaming or nature or love. It might be all of the above. How do you restore your connect? If you need a jump you feel I can assist with, let me know. Our work might be in the Lower World, in water flowing underground [yes, cue the Talking Heads], or emanating in Middle World from an ancient water bubble in a crystal, from a waterfall in a past life, or from a few drops of a flower essence, or from a celestial Upper World wash of light that jumpstarts your cells into resonance and healing. We might actually be working at river's edge in an intensive nature training session. Or you might be on the other side of the world. Maybe a part of you returns, carrying the heart medicine you lost in an estranging event, re-lighting the fire in your head after a bewildering situation, renewing your thirst for life.
Wherever we are, may we be going with the flow, awash in the ever-present universal glow.
Right now, at midday on this placid Labor Day weekend Sunday, I am looking out from the back deck onto this. Sir Galahad, my 33 year-old horse, has finished his mid-morning nap and is back out, grazing in his field. And all around us, visible and chatty to us but unseen in the photograph, are flights of swallows. They are today's teachers, advisors, entertainers.
A flight of swallows is the collective noun, as is a murder of crows or a gaggle of geese. All around me for the past few days are flights of violet-green swallows, barn swallows, tree swallows. The barn swallows that come each year to build their nests and raise their babies on top of the fluorescent lights in the barn have been joined by other barn swallows. Each year the swallows gather in flights, dive-bombing the cats and chasing each other about in the air, eating bugs in preparation for their migration. They become my teachers for this period.
But I'm not going to relay facts about swallows, or even copy any of the many poems I wrote about them in the past two years of writing Into the All Empty. Suffice it to say they feature prominently among a host of other feathered friends. At this moment there are hundreds of them flying and chattering, as a red and blue light plane flies overhead, one of several small aircraft that populate the skies over me on the weekends in fair weather.
The swallows teach me that uncertainty, movement, change, and the urge for going can be beautiful, graceful, natural, effortless, and fun. They show me that you don't have to take anything with you except your joy in being alive, your energy, and your natural instincts. They demonstrate that community is important, and that community shows up when it's time. Playfulness is an obvious part of their preparation for a journey of thousands of miles, along with gathering, self-expression, and eating whatever food they encounter in the sky. The are flying madly about partly because it feels lovely, partly to feed up for the journey, partly to gather together, partly to pair up, and partly to get in top shape for the long flight ahead.
What are they saying to each other? I always wonder what birds say to each other. What do you think?
In a half hour I'll be preparing to fly myself, in a remote shamanic journey for a client. I never know who my helpers might be for the work. Perhaps a swallow, or a flight of swallows, will show up to guide me to a lost soul part, or take away a thread of energy that does not belong to my client, or bring some energetic gift that is needed. Whomever I work with today, the swallows have helped me find that place of detachment, of lightness, and openness to simply be, that is required for the work. The wind chimes softly play a note here and there on the breeze. A few cottonwood seeds drift over the house from the woods. In each moment we can connect with the field of all possibilities, the invisible that creates the visible, whatever we need. This is where the work happens, where we know, and receive. This magical anything can happen feeling is pervasive this weekend. I hope it's surrounding you wherever you may be.
Last night's Blue Moon – the rare second full moon in a solar month – lulled me early into dreaming, and woke me in the wee hours with its light and power. I don't think I was alone in responding to the 'whispers tucked into the turning of Earth's curve' as she flew across the sky. The title line of this blog post is from a recent poem I wrote, and felt apropos for this time, this moon, this subtle seasonal shift.
Morning flights of geese, calling to each other; a certain crispness to the air, changes of light at sunset, and the first few yellow leaves signal that the planet is at that place in her cycle where our hemisphere is tilting away from the Sun. My favorite season approaches, and with it the strong magical pull through space and time I always feel. It's as if time kaleidoscopes and the matrix of past, present, and future aligns and opens. I'm aware of all three at once, and of threads coming through the opening. The veil between the worlds thins.
One of the medicine tools I use to work with time is this Selenite Wand. Selenite is very good for journeying into the past and future, and seeing the threads that connect who we are, were, will be. This information can be very helpful for a number of reasons and in a plethora of circumstances. Dreams, body symptoms, subconscious emotions, premonitions are, like the whispers, telling us something we need to know, relocate, release, re-member.
This wand has a story. I had the selenite, and it told me it wanted to become a proper wand. So I asked one of my dearest friends, a master artisan of wood, stone, ash splint basketry, and darn near anything, if he would make the handle. He asked what I wanted on it, and I think I said a dragon or something. He took the stone away, and when he returned with the finished wand, he'd carved the triskele instead.
A triskele is an ancient Celtic symbol, sometimes seen in this pattern, sometimes in other whirling patterns of three. It symbolizes the unending interconnectedness of past, present, and future, through life, death, and rebirth. In the triskele, the three are also one, with no beginning and no end.
My friend said, "It just seemed to be the right thing." I don't think he knew the stone's properties and main purpose, but on another level he realized it perfectly. Selenite sees the past, present, and future, and can illuminate information on the soul's path and progress, aiding understanding in the present, and showing connections that assist the onward journey. Bingo!
The carving is not an overlay. Yew wood has an outer wood layer that is lighter. Mark Kelz, the carver extraordinaire, created the triskele by carving away the wood around it. The entire handle, from its delicate petal-like top to its perfectly turned round end, he carved by hand, and gave me as a gift. The Selenite Wand resides in its own basket with preserved Flicker wings as its attending spirit. It seldom calls out to be used for the work, but when it does, I know we're going to be flying through time.
Yesterday was one of those days. The work fit the whispers, the V's of geese, the magnetic pull to the stones and green valleys of my once and future lives. I think I've been doing this a long time.