In Which Everything is Illuminated

Or rather, a weekend in which I met with an intuitive counselor and did 5 years worth of therapy in 2 1/2 hours, stumbled into a workshop for writers that might as well have been created for me, made a connection with a keeper of stories of my hometown and finally figured out which haircut I want. In that order.

Bioneers was its usual mix of the inspiring, indulgent and incredulous. On the one hand, there was the moment when I almost bumped into Caroline Casey, who was wearing purple from head to toe and looking cute as a button (that goes in the inspiring category). Then, there was the realization that the booth down the row from us was selling elephant dung paper (the incredulous). And let us not forget the demographic of the conference (the privileged of the 99%…you could say the other 1%. The indulgent.) To speak from a place of gratitude, I will say that the great thing about the Left Coast, and the Bay Area in particular, is its ability to know no limits in the exploration of all points of human curiosity. Need to fly with the Pleiadians or let your freak flag flap in the breeze off the tip of your loin cloth? Then come on over folks! Marin county is for you!

On friday afternoon, after the aforementioned therapy session, I felt like my own little light particle and as such, felt right at home. I set up the interactive piece at the Holos booth (scroll down for more on that) and then sat back to enjoy the scene. We had passes that granted admission to most of the afternoon workshops, and as I perused the schedule I came across one titled “Ecomythology.”. There was no description but the title was intriguing enough to lure me over.

I walked into the tent and was surprised to discover that it was being taught by Luisah Teish. She is the author of Jambalaya, and teaches locally at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Women’s Spirituality.

I owned her book a million years ago, but it has been quite a while since I thought of her. The workshop was a raucous, saucey and tender two hours. She told us the story of her own earth grief, when the woods and land around her Louisiana childhood home were ravaged and poisoned by Exxon. I found myself holding my breath, hand over heart. She spoke of the importance of indigenous people being heard and healed, but also humanity’s need to move forward in its racial and ethnic definitions. Instead of territories drawn and boundaries defended, she gave anyone who feels a connection and protectiveness towards the earth a definition that we can all take on as our own. Primal Life People.  We are all indigenous to the planet.

She then encouraged us to take 20 minutes, right then and there, to write about our own experience of earth grief. You would think, given this blog, this past summer, this past month, my pen would have over-floweth. But I was still all glowey from my therapy session, and I was all tapped out! I did write a little piece, but I chose not to share it with the group. Towards the end, she gave us her email address and said we had one year to complete our writing and send it to her. She also encouraged us to submit it for an Anthology of Ecomythology that she is publishing. If my parents are reading this, I know what you are going to say and don’t worry…I have just found myself a goal.

The next day, I mustered up the courage to have a conversation with the director of Earth Medicine Alliance. When he spoke at Holos’s conference on Ecopsychology, he had mentioned working with Darryl Babe Wilson, and my ears perked up.

Dr. Babe. as he is called, is of the Pit River Nation (Achuma-we and Atsegu-we). These tribal lands include the area where I grew up, and the hot springs that I make a pilgrimage to as often as I can. I read his autobiography several years ago, The Morning the Sun Went Down, which is both terribly tragic and also redeeming. Within his compelling words were descriptions of places and people that I know well, and, as so often happens when I learn something about the first peoples of my hometown, suddenly what was invisible was made visible. I had tried to track Dr. Babe down for a paper I was writing in grad school, but to no avail. So when I heard that EMA had worked with him, I had been itching to ask about it ever since.

The conversation was predictably awkward, but still a nice connection, and the director turned me on to a series of video interviews with Dr. Babe.

This is the first of six parts, and in it he talks about the power residing in Mt. Shasta. He also busts a hole in anthropology’s approach to wisdom traditions, and just how demeaning the words “myth” and “story telling” actually are. But what I like the most about this interview, is his description of that land I love so dearly, “There is magic everywhere….and in abundance”. Indeed. This connection with EMA was also important for me to make, for if I ever manage to move back up there, I am interested in working with the inner mountain communities impacted by logging, land loss, poverty and alcoholism.

For our Holos booth, I offered an interactive piece called “Soul Seeds” and I thought I would offer it here as well, since it is easy and fun.

This was taken on Friday, right after my arrival from the therapy session. I told you I was glowey. (Dress and vest – thrifted. Hat – Target. Boots – Fluevog.).

Planting Your Soul Seeds

You will need:

a small, business card sized piece of either cardstock or cardboard
a same sized piece of tissue paper
paper mache glue (flour and water mixed together)
a soft, small paintbrush
a colored pencil
seeds native to your garden or bioregion 

1. Take a moment to think about something you want to “compost” this Winter…a habit, self-belief, a pattern etc.

2. Take your piece of cardstock or cardboard and paint it with the “glue”, while thinking about what you want to “compost”.

3. Sprinkle a small pinch of seeds onto the cardstock/cardboard

4. Take a moment to think about something you want to “gestate” and “germinate” over Winter….a goal, a new way of being, a project, etc. Make this one word.

5. Write this word with the colored pencil on your tissue paper. Place the tissue paper over the seeds and cardstock. Paint a thin layer of “glue” onto the top, gently sealing both pieces together.

6. Place your seed card on an altar, mantle or dresser where you will see it over the winter months. Come February (or after the ground thaws in your area), plant your card in your garden or city tree well. Sprinkle with water and let nature do the rest.

As for the haircut? I haven’t gotten one since before Fern was born, and have been trying to rock the woodland-fairy-mermaid-70’s hippy look. Not so sure it’s been working. Then last night I watched “Crimes of the Heart” and fell in love with Sissy Spacek.

Hey all you fashionistas, is this a haircut, or just the way her hair is styled? Would it be a gigantic pain in the ass since my hair has minimal wave? Could I just sleep with curlers? Can I pull this off? Imma gonna try today by pulling my hair back and just doing the front.

The best part of the weekend for me had a lot to do, funny enough, with style and appearance. I had encounters with more than one person that stirred up feelings in me I haven’t had for a long time. Nowadays I am surrounded by loving, supportive, respectful folks. But there was a time not so long ago when I hung out in certain scenes that were narcissistic, mean spirited, image oriented and spiritually bypassing. For too long I stayed in these circles based on my own feelings of inferiority. No more. But I talked with multiple people at Bioneers who gave me the once over and approached with haughtiness. It was a true testament to how things have changed in that I immediately recognized how crappy it made me feel…and I didn’t buy into it. Instead, I kept it real, I kept it loving, and killed ’em with kindness. What I received in return was an eventual melting and show of vulnerability. I realized, not more than once, what a severe waste of time it is to buy into social competitiveness and “better than thou”. Life is too precious to spend energy on being popular.

But once I have my Sissy Spacek hair, just you watch out! (I jest, I jest).

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8 thoughts on “In Which Everything is Illuminated

  1. Wow. Lots to take in, so for now, I’ll just make two superficial comments. You look so beautiful in that photo (LOVING the outfit, too). And, I’m so obviously not a fashionista, but I don’t think your hair would do that. It’s partially the cut, but mostly the styling. Like, 10/90. But I think that length, with that layering, would look lovely. Different, but equally gorgeous.

  2. i think the haircut is mostly a bob with styling. however, the feathering stuff in the front calls for a sort of mullet-ish cut. i have the same thing going on, a la stevie nicks’s longer version. cute!!!
    i have to reflect on this whole ‘we are all indigenous” thing. my knee jerk reaction is not a good one, however. i think its all well and good to do the earth grief thing, i like that idea, but i really don’t think many indigenous people are going to get behind that idea that we are all indigenous people who need to just move on from racial and cultural barriers. in fact, i think it would really piss most of the people i know who are natives off. it sorta pisses me off. sorry white folks. you just don’t get to pretend it’s all moving forward from now and we are all indigenous. life’s just not that convenient and simple and it seems like the people who would be able to take these workshops won’t be the people on reservations and rancherias who are actually indigenous, which is often the case with these weekend shaman type things that take place in workshops. i can just picture my friends being all “oh HELL no she did not say that.”
    but i will spend some time reflecting on her ideas and talking with the people i know about it. knee jerk reactions are not always right.
    anyway, i think that haircut will look stunning on you and i love how your blog always leaves me with food for thought.

    1. just to clarify really quick, she was NOT calling for moving on from racial and cultural barriers, or ignoring oppression, disenfranchisement, etc. like i said, she believes in the importance of indigenous voices being heard, respected, healed, for the perpetrators of violence to take responsibility. but in terms of where we are in planetary survival, it would go a long way in unification for us all to take a step back and realize…we are all indigenous to SOME part of this planet, and we’ve got to go deep and work hard…together… if we want humans as a species, and the planet herself, to survive.

      i would hope it is obvious from the way i write, but i also realize that those new to me may not know of my deep abhorrence of workshop shamans (plastic shamans), new age seekers, native wannabes and feather-leather-urban-tribal-techno-hippies in general. i’m right there with ya.

  3. Magic is flowing. I am happy you had these experiences. I had some similar ones listening to an all day training with Dr. Eduardo Duran, he wrote “Healing the Soul Wound” most recently and “Native American Post-Colonial Psychology”. I’ve yet to read either but the training was enough to be an evolutionary jump for me professionally and personally. It has already changed my path and my work with clients – all within the super-flawed city/western/capitalistic system that I work. Amazing.

    And the cut, girl, go for it. Let it be a bob on some days and curling iron that shit on others! My bangs do a natural feather based on their length and cut.

  4. I’d imagine it to be especially disappointing, coming up against those haughty attitudes at such an event which is clearly meant to be in the spirit of all that is not along those lines. Good for you for not buying into it. I’m glad to hear that your “kill ’em with kindness” strategy was successful. That’s encouraging.

    I lived in Marin for awhile (Kentfield) and it is a funny place, all that enlightenment mixed with all that entitlement. Natural beauty, open-mindedness, but also a bit tough to take in some ways. I prefer the more laid-back attitudes of Sonoma County.

    Sounds like it was a wonderful and personally productive weekend. Yay for valuable connections made and glowiness gained, you do look positively luminescent and I love your outfit 🙂

    I would have to agree that there is a lot of styling going on with Sissy’s hair. The last photo seems like it would represent the actual cut best, the layers being more apparent and less curled. I think it could be a really cute cut though and you could totally pull it off. Chances are it could end up looking pretty different than it does in the pics though, so if you do go for it, I would just go into it with that in mind.

    That’s such a bummer Jeff couldn’t get tickets to see Mary Oliver 😦 I actually decided to go at the last minute the night of and got my ticket at the door. I went by myself which was actuallly kind of nice because it ended up feeling like it was just me and her in a way. Though I did keep thinking how cool it would be if you and Milla and Heather and Sara and all the other wonderful ladies of the internets who I know love her could have been there too.

  5. look at you with your apple. i love that feeling, after a super healing, enlightening, illuminating therapy session. why can’t i do that for myself? cuz the contact has something to do with it. and the guidance and wisdom and perspective of another. we can’t do it alone. i have to freaking remember this way too often. i used to be a black widow. a serious recluse. or something. but my kids are busting me out! i want to know more about the gleamings from the therapy.

    i love how older healer women often wear purple. what is that about? purple people. i’m going to be one of them. brigitte likes to wear purple eye shadow i’ve noticed.

    i want to plant some soul seeds. i hope i do that. with the kids even! i’ll show you my altar if you show me yours.

    and lastly, for today, you remind me of my sister with how fashion forward or backward you are! you guys surprise me with the inspiration you come up with. and i love it, but i never would have gravitated to that hairstyle on my own. and it wouldn’t work for me and my afro anyways, which is probably why. yes. you need to start sleeping in curlers every night. and fern too. just tell her this is part of growing up girl. it’s time for curlers while you sleep. so funny the things we do for fashion and fun. i’m wearing my glasses that have no prescription in them today. just need them sometimes.

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