This blog has allowed me to process a lot of thoughts, feelings, and creativity — but it will be asleep for awhile.
WordPress now wants money — quite a bit more — for email lists, and even statistics. But that time and energy must be spent on a new website, which I’ll post here.
Because of this WordPress switch, I’ve had people drop me notes, thinking I’ve dropped off the planet.
I’m around, better and bolder than ever, but I’ve got boatloads of work that I’m doing.
I appreciate your comments and insights over the years, and I look forward to posting the next chapters in my life story, here, as soon as time catches up with all these big expanding spaces that I’m entertaining,
Unfortunately, that news won’t hit your inbox, but I’ll post it here, in the ‘fullness of time.’
I love that old saying, ‘the fullness of time,’ it sounds gorged on possibility.
To a Thanksgiving lived in deep gratitude for all that is, and I hope your holiday gorging consumes life’s best offerings
It’s an odd optimism, isn’t it? Midterms loom, the world seemingly sits yet again on the precipice of America’s ideological bipolar disorder, the planet burns, and our economic systems collapse into we don’t yet know what.
But I believe that our metanarratives of struggle and empire saturate us with beliefs, language, behaviors that diminish ourselves and reality: we are born magic makers, capable of genius and flourishing.
I believe we are called to succeed in our Divinity, now more now than ever.
This kind of faith is trivialized as convenient fiction, wishful fantasy, or ‘magical thinking.’
Why? Because the world’s lost its magic, the magic from long ago, the magic of the ancestors. Lost as we relied more and more on our minds, ignored our intuition, and developed a collective, compulsive addiction to thinking.
I’m not anti-science or anti-intellect. I’m pro-discovery, pro-awareness, pro-learning, pro-life, and I think all these things are the heart of good inquiry, and of good science.
And for these reasons, I’m pro-magic, because the ‘either-science-or-magic’ stories are bad ones.
Those of use who’ve lived in and navigated through our psyche’s painful depths know that pessimism is a privilege, and we know that despair is a siphon of this precious life that was born to be lived fully, for ourselves, and for others.
There’s an understanding opening that ‘miracles’ were never supposed to be tethered to one tradition, but they exist as the nature of life.
This is magic’s reality, the wisdom before religion, and the synchronicities of the embodied, intuitive, creative life.
No religion required.
If this is the age of the Great Awakening, and I believe it is, it’s because we’ve never been called to such deep magic, healing, awareness, and love.
I celebrated my birthday in a week-long blowout, because I deserve it.
Every detail of my trip to Deer Isle and Bar Harbor is worthy of a treasured, uncanny story.
And perhaps I’ll write more at sometime, but, for now, in the interest of clean writing, I’m going to stick with one majestic story.
I can use the word majestic because it’s about my adventures to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest elevation on the U.S. eastern seaboard.
The highest elevation on the eastern seaboard, please read this again.
Cadillac Mountain isn’t just a mountain, it’s a place of unlimited views, island vistas stretching beyond the eyes, mountains in the distance, and the Atlantic Ocean spread like a blanket past the horizon on a clear day.
And it’s ancient, full of magic, memory, awe, wonder.
Some might say “sacred.”
My trip fell into place after I heard “Bar Harbor” in my psychic ears one morning, when I realized and felt and knew that I needed a vacation.
“Bar Harbor” that’s for people with money, I thought.
Some habits die hard.
But I followed that voice, and within hours I had a car reservation, and beautiful, affordable accommodations in both Deer Isle and Bar Harbor. None of this required any money down, just a belief that it would come together, because it felt right.
I didn’t know that Cadillac Mountain existed.
And I didn’t know that my charming, environmentally conscious, vegan friendly, B & B Bar Harbor room was just 2.3 miles from the Cadillac Mountain Summit entrance.
I’m not sure how I learned about Cadillac in the planning frenzy, but I did, and I knew that going to the summit was something I wanted and needed to do.
I mentioned my trip to a friend. This friend’s traveled to almost every continent on the planet, if not every continent, and he told me that I had to go, that Cadillac was really special.
But there’s a caveat with Cadillac: sunrise tickets are considered the premier view. The thing, the draw, the pitch, is watching sunrise from Cadillac, the views of a vast horizon, watching the sun’s approaching light break the night sky one glorious moment at a time.
There were over four million visitors to Acadia National Park last year. Cadillac is the park’s great gem, and Recreation.gov releases only 102 tickets each day for the sunrise viewing. They release them at 10:00 a.m., two days ahead of time. That’s it. Tickets sell out quickly, and you’ve got to be online, in queue, ready to buy them at 10:00 a.m., or be prepared to be out of luck.
Only one ticket per car, every seven days.
I’m watching the weather forecasts during my first three days in beautiful Stonington, Maine, anticipating my trip to Bar Harbor and Cadillac.
My birthday’s on Tuesday, I’d like to go to the summit for my birthday, it’s a great metaphor, being on the highest eastern seaboard summit, nearly unplanned except for all this magic, on my birthday.
But the weather’s not looking good.
I must decide, because I have one day, one ticket.
My friend calls to see how my trip’s going, I tell him my predicament.
I think to ask him if he can get me a second ticket, but I don’t want to impose. Tuesday’s my birthday, the weather will be bad. Thursday’s weather is looking perfect. But something about being on Cadillac on my birthday feels important, even if it’s ‘just a metaphor.’
I don’t say much too much more, and as we’re talking, he insists that I need to get to the mountain summit for my birthday. He gets why, he gets that it’s a great metaphor to be there for my birthday. And he wants me to see the views when the weather is good, because he knows the summit’s views are special.
He offers to get me a ticket for Thursday.
I’m all set.
It’s the morning of my birthday in Bar Harbor.
I’m awake at 2:30 am, because it’s raining, I don’t want to miss the day, I want to do my practices, and I know that because the weather is wet and miserable, I must leave early.
The B & B owner told me when I arrived that I might want to forego the trip, the weather was going to be bad. High wind gusts, torrential rains. As bad as it will be on the ground, worse on the mountain.
No, this is my birthday summit.
I’m going to do it. Come hell or high water, as my Gram used to say.
The Waze GPS app tells me it will take me 16 minutes or so to get there.
Yep, I’ll definitely need more time.
My ticket gets me into the summit at 5:30 am.
I leave at 4:55.
It takes me ten minutes to get out of the B & B parking lot. I’m not used to driving, I must navigate around the SUV-semi-truck hybrid that decided my little rental didn’t need much room for navigation, there is zero visibility in this storm which is getting worse every five minutes, I’m using Waze on an android phone, and I’m wondering how in the hell people can use an android interface, and I can’t believe I’m having to use this damn android while I’m driving a car that I’ve not even taken the time to learn which buttons turn on the defoggers, because how often do I drive.
The road is black, the lights were set to ‘Auto’ by the Enterprise rental people, and I’ve not yet figured out that I can get a high beam by pulling the arm forward. The windows are fogging, I haven’t a clue where the defogger is, and the storm is dropping leaves everywhere in an indiscriminate and joyous ode to fall. There are no road lines, there is no way to drive except one foot at a time.
It’s terrifying and hysterical all at once.
The Waze lady tells me to turn left, but I can’t see anything, so we get a course correct . . . . beep, beep beep, what the fuck, then another course correct, then another. Beep, beep, beep.
I’m going around the summit base in circles, over and over, traveling the same damn road, one foot at a time.
The 2.3 miles to the summit road entrance takes me almost an hour, in what I can only describe as another wonderful lived ‘crazy ass stubborn’ life ode.
Crazy ass stubborn.
I stumble into the summit entrance, finally, I must have passed it before without seeing it, I haven’t a clue how I saw it this time, but I’m here without having an accident, driving one foot at a time.
This park is usually full at this hour, but not today. There are ten cars maximum. I didn’t count. I’m being conservative.
And I’m certain most of the folks in these 8 or 10 cars knew how to use their headlights and defoggers.
Cold, rainy, miserable. Only a handful actually get out and walk around, because it’s raining, the wind gusts are all over, and there is nothing to see, what’s the point.
I’m at the top of the mountain, despite myself.
On my birthday. Here I am.
I’ll raise Gram. I made it come hell, high water, piles of autumn leaves, mountain winds, headlight conundrums, and foggy windows, up the small mountain road.
I stay until the rain stops and the light breaks. The mountain’s blanketed in clouds. I use the facilities, chat it up with the woman cleaning the bathrooms, and then make a slow trip back down the mountain.
Thursday morning was the last day of my trip.
I took the Bar Harbor sunset cruise the night before, Wednesday.
The cruise was a glorious close to a magnificent six days. Clear chilly skies, new friends, music, singing, sparkling wine, and there was a sweet release into nature and beauty and freedom as we sailed the harbor in a schooner. As the sun lowered on the horizon, a rainbow spanning the harbor appeared. It bridged the bay, from one side to the other, an arc of possibility painted itself above us, and I felt its promises in those colors that we languidly sailed under.
Thursday morning I was up at 3:00, because I wanted to pack and leave after my second summit visit.
It was a disarmingly black morning.
But I’d figured out the defoggers and working the high beam.
I made it in thirty-five minutes the second time, not the promised sixteen, because it really is black and dark in Federal Lands before sunrise where there are no road lights, only the dark, the cold, and nature.
And there’s nothing wrong with one foot at a time: slow and steady gets to the summit.
It was cold, clear, and hypnotically dark except for the brilliance of a million stars stretched above the summit that morning, and the reverence of a 102 car passengers who arrived as tourists, but left as initiates.
It hits, deep, real.
This is it, the land, the night, the sky, the moment.
Cadillac is an international tourist hot spot.
But that morning, I didn’t see tourists, only initiates.
The ancient wisdom, you can feel it there.
Everyone becomes quiet, there’s only wonder, awe, and cold, the chill of the elevation, the bitter chill of your smallness, and the pettiness of your life’s worries shattered like ice.
The Mountain also gives vistas of promise, of hope, because it’s a world where time and human activity are put in their proper place.
Shaken, reoriented, set right.
That morning was the perfect antecedent to my first visit. If my first visit affirmed the magic of will and intent against all circumstance, one foot at a time, the second visit gave me the gift of grace beyond all will, life’s magic beyond all intention, freely given, in every way — even the ticket.
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect Cadillac sunrise, or a more perfect awakening of ancient memories collectively shared, 102 cars at a time.
With the sun’s rising, blood and the bones come alive with memory on Magic Mountain, and the exquisite fragility and beauty of our earth and existence are felt in the body and breath.
For hundreds of thousands of years, this mountain has been special and revered, and there is no question of that truth in its sublime, dwarfing beauty, and the body’s response to this reality.
At the base of Cadillac, in Bar Harbor, is the Abbe Museum.
Through more serendipitous, unplanned circumstances, I visited the museum after leaving Cadillac, and before leaving Bar Harbor.
Abbe confirmed my felt experience, after the fact. This land is ancient Indian land, and it’s soaked in the memories of hundreds of thousands of years of precolonial existence.
You can feel how special the land has been for eons upon eons upon eons.
I don’t know enough to know how all this works, but I felt enough to know that the mountain — calling it Cadillac seems wrong, for so many reasons — is an ancient spot of magic and deep reverence, and that day in mid-summer when I heard ‘Bar Harbor’ and started planning a ‘vacation,’ I was given something extraordinary, beyond myself.
An initiation into a larger part of myself, and into a shared story, a story deeper than all books.
The planet’s burning, autocracy’s a looming threat, yet, I know magic now more than ever, because I heard Bar Harbor, followed my intuition, and magic unfolded in multiplicities of embodied experience and meaning.
I now believe that the land, the mountain itself, called to me, then gave me these multiplicities, in those moments, through rain and through sun.
That morning, I saw 102 cars with their tourists, and these tourists became initiates through no will of their own, and I understood that these folks now carry a wisdom beyond themselves into the world.
Not because of them, but because of what the mountain, and the Wabanaki ancestors, gave them.
Changed by forty minutes on Magic Mountain.
They now carry bits of the Mountain’s wisdom in their experience and memory, for generations to come, just as the Wabanaki ancestors understood in their connection to this land.
When it’s in experience and memory, it’s in the DNA, and it’s passed down for lifetimes to come.
Science confirms what wisdom knows.
This entry is part of that magic.
The invitation to “Bar Harbor” wasn’t for a vacation: it was a calling to carry these felt memories and realities larger than my little life in my body and experience, and into the our shared world.
It was wisdom and magic giving itself to me in this lifetime, for these times, and for these words.
And for a million things I can’t begin to understand or know.
A lot of the Goddess worshipping folks, men and women, make a whole lot of this day — but I’m not keen on feast days. Too Catholic, too dripping with stuff that puts me off.
One thing I find fascinating, though, is that these Goddess folks enshrine motherhood — which is, well, okay — but this seems to mean it’s important that they must say, over and over, “Mary of Magdalene was never a prostitute. Ever.”
Yeah, decent theology 101, when you understand that nowhere does the text say that Mary was a prostitute, it’s a cultural myth, created by Pope Gregory in 591. Got the lesson at Harvard Divinity, but it’s even in art history lessons. For example, check out Scarlet Woman: The True Story of Mary Magdalene by Waldemar Januszczak. (As an aside, his art history insights are extraordinary. I recommend anything he produces. Huge fan. His take on the much maligned Rubens is extraordinary, as are his insights on the Rococo and the Renaissance. Brilliant analysis.)
But I’m in a pissy mood today, and what irks me about privileged [white] feminists making sure to clean up Mary’s rep is that it’s a ‘patriarchal’ bifurcation:: purity and pollution.
Mary prostitute = bad.
Mary not prostitute = good.
Make sure to cast The Mother as pure and powerful.
The Whore, well, who knows what they think. I’d like to ask, but I have other hornets’ nests to kick today.
White feminism is a gnarly creature, and perhaps worse when drenched in spirituality.
Despite white feminist Goddess spirituality, not because of it, I’ll lovingly honor Mary Magdalene today, the woman that the Catholic Church finally recognized as Apostle to the Apostles.
She was the first to bear witness — if you believe the story — and tell all the men the truth, and not one of them believed her.
A woman telling a group of men the truth and not being believed.
Because of power.
Nope, she wasn’t believed, But when they saw for themselves, they took over, claimed the message, and shut her down.
Peter always struck me as a jealous and controlling.
But here’s another take on this his-story: Mary’s true spiritual gift was in being recast by hatred and the greed for power, and she carries hope in her miscasting for millions and millions of women marginalized by sex work.
Maya Angelou, who had a brothel and was a sex worker in her early years, amazing how we bury these facts, once told a story. She was at book signing, and saw a girl in line. She described, in the gentlest way possible, that the girl was obviously a working girl, and had probably worked all night. She had her false nails, false lashes, and the rest, itself a stereotype. Angelou said, “The girl came up to me, handed me her book to sign, and said, ‘you give me hope.’”
Angelou was teary eyed when telling the story, and knew what the girl was telling her. ”That’s it., right there,” she said, “That’s all of it, isn’t it?”
If you’re interested in a different take on Mary of Magdalene, check out Mary Magdalene.
I had a hard time getting into it, and I didn’t enjoy it the first time I saw it.
On a hunch, despite myself, I watched it a second time. I changed my mind with the second viewing — and I agree with Allen’s review on Ebert.com:
There is a strong, crucial sense of mania within “Mary Magdalene” and its vision of a movement. Tahar Rahim and Chiwetel Ejiofor, especially—both who could lead biblical epics of their own—say the words of the Apostles that we know, but with such a bursting exuberance that we know they’ve completely drunk the Kool-Aid, and then some. These men are so desperate for a resolve to their pain, as Mary learns in her quiet, haunting conversations with them, that their lives have become an open-arms embrace for a kingdom that’s only as real as their faith. This is never seen as a criticism against the Apostles—instead it’s an incredibly honest take on full-fledged worship, and another example of the staggering compassion that “Mary Magdalene” has for the people in its story, and what they represent
To Mary Magdalene, and the millions to whom she gives hope.
“Everything is but a path, a portal, or a window opening on something other than itself.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
My new landlord’s been great at getting stuff done, and he embodies how many men see themselves: a doer, taking care of what needs to be taken care of, and making sure everything is done right.
He hunts, fishes, rides a Harley, and won’t vaccinate, because, I’m assuming, Real Men don’t vaccinate.
He also put up bird feeders in the garden, cleaned out the wild area in the back, and he lets me grow anything and everything I want.
He informed me last year after buying the building that one of his first projects would be replacing the porch windows, “you don’t need so many windows,” he told me.
I’m slow at metabolizing input, I’m too busy taking in the stuff that highly-sensitive introverts take in, including remembering this phrase that for him meant nothing.
Read that again: he told me that ”I” didn’t need so many windows. Not that he as landlord wanted to create a better living environment. He didn’t ask me, the person who has lived here, who has told him about every quirk and nuance in the building, and who has made this place attractive and solid, a space that made him want to purchase the building.
No, he didn’t consult the woman who in less that six years created a heaven-Eden-sanctuary that makes this old, otherwise shit-hole building probably the only decent rental within 50 miles.
My commitment to myself while living in conservative, rural Maine must constantly navigate this area’s egregious poverty and thoroughly-entrenched-in-and-happy-to-be-so-ignorance.
Side note: I’m no longer trying to help others by way of church involvement or in any organized manner, as I had tried; we must all find our own way. My criticism of the bad is now a simple practice of what I believe to be the better.
Growing food in an obscenely poor area, riding an electric bike, walking-running all over, in an area where everyone suffers from every imaginable preventable disease, including covid, this is what I do, because I live in some of the worst of what white-misogynistic-American-capitalism has created for itself: sickness, ignorance, economic ravishment.
A land where dreams go to die.
Back to the main story: last week the windows went up.
My landlord hired the son of a friend for the work. Apparently, the friend has been pretty nasty over the years to his kids resulting in big problems.
The one son — I’ll call him Jake — is a nice guy, hard worker. When the landlord decided that I had too many windows and talked with Jake about work, wanting to help Jake and his family out, Jake proclaimed in wild enthusiasm that he was able to get free windows for the job.
Jake, too, can do a good deed.
So two men with big ideas and good intentions made my space “better.”
The porch is now dark, has small windows with bars, yes, think fascist prison, and I can no longer go out there any time and feel the trees, experience that oneness anytime day or night, oneness with the birds, the sunflowers, watch the sunrise over the road, or meditate in the morning sun.
I can’t take the house plants that suffer indoors through the winters to their favorite porch spots, where they happily take off for a few months of growth. Nor can I grow seedlings upstairs now, because there simply isn’t enough light
The upstairs portal between myself and the garden has been closed.
It’s a different space, a different vibe, a different energy.
There are so many things that need to be done here, so many, many things.
But I didn’t need so many windows.
I’m angry and exhausted.
Let’s be clear: I understand this change is the price of renting, for not having the money to buy a home, having chosen the long-haul, hard road for my life.
And I’m also aware that I may come to like this change, with time. Survival is adaptation. And I’m not just a stunning survivor, I’m a high priestess who invokes and understands life’s magic.
I also know that from this kind trauma — and this is a huge trauma, requiring lots of words and emotions to work through — regenerative energy is born.
But reality has nearly infinite entry points at any moment, and there’s one I can’t ignore, as I scan the headlines, my life, the lives and stories of my friends and clients: men hate women.
I’ve heard gay men say-write, “they hate us,” and I metaphorically rolled my eyes in silence thinking they should quit being victims,
I thought they were being drama Queens.
Today, I get it.
The ‘they’ are the forces that shape who goes into the room and decides on our individual and collective windows.
Windows are a primary metaphor for voice, decision, power.
What views we hold, what perspective matters, what we chose to see, what we chose not to see.
I want to be clear, also, that my landlord is basically fantastic. He’s no slum lord, and for this I’m grateful. He goes above and beyond to keep a tenant that he’d be a fool to lose in this part of the world, and he knows it. He was raised by a single working mother, and, perhaps, for this reason, he’s been dutiful to me, a single working woman.
But I listen to men, watch them behave, see how ‘their women’ behave around them, and I see how weak patriarchy has made them, how independently decisive and violent and ignorant they must be to be “men.” How many dumb decisions they make because they don’t collaborate or communicate, because their “executive decision making” goes willingly and strategically unchallenged in their limited perception.
See also, history.
I’m a survivor, so most of my life I’ve navigated around male hubris like all women, but there are times when it’s all a bit much.
In other words, these past few days echo the trauma of Hillary Clinton’s loss to 45, because this country preferred a white male wanna-be demagogue to a woman of experience and intelligence.
The light is too bright, the pain too raw, reality laid bare.
From one perspective, with these new windows, these ugly, rinky-dink portals to perception, there’s nothing and no one to blame; it’s simply change, it is what it is. And all is well, and I’ll adjust.
On the other, from a different entry point, it’s the same old shit: two men deciding the life, fate, and literal every-single-day perception of a woman, after they finish the job and get out of here, high-fiving themselves on their goodness: the landlord for being a good landlord and taking care of business, Jake for getting free windows and doing a great job.
And I’m not bringing up any social status differentials here, either.
If I were a man, this window game would have played-out differently, no question; and chances are, if I were a man living here, I might have been like the guy downstairs, 40-something, who smokes pot all day, goes shopping with his Mom, and never does anything. Ever.
But I’ve invested my time, energy, and heart, a very female thing to do, in creating a space that supports pollinators, our local ecosystem, the community, and myself.
Nurturing that space included a portal from upstairs, the joy of watching the robins play every spring, summer evenings in the rocking chair, I counted eleven bird species one languid evening, and knowing this property and house better than anyone.
I’m a woman, I create a home, not a house, a sanctuary of space, peace, open heartedness.
That portal was closed.
What does it mean to say that men ‘hate’ women?
It means we are invisible at best, and often to be punished, because what the hell. It means that our voices only matter when they serve the male principle, can be pummeled into the fascist-patriarchal world view, even the best of them.
Look at the headlines.
Look at the little tiny windows men give to women to look through, so they can be good and strong, and then they can be great with themselves and who they are.
My landlord made another throw-away off hand comment to me,the other day, as he left with a smile on his face pleased that he’s not a slumlord, “all you need is a man.”
No, I thought to myself, because we cannot say these things out loud and be polite, I need bigger windows.
I’m reflecting on three lines of thought, and perhaps these thought strands will give you something.
I had a conversation yesterday with a dear friend who chooses to be child free. We talked about the happiness and freedom we experience as child free women, no regrets, perfect peace in the choice and how being child-free has happily played-out in our lives.
And I told her this: I never wanted to be a mother — there were windows in my life when a family and children seemed possible, when I was younger, but I always chose in the direction of my education and intellectual-creative development. Deep in my bones, in my knowing, raising children was never part of this life’s journey.
When I played with dolls as a child, I liked Barbie — sexist, perhaps, but she also held the ideas of autonomy, choice, and style. My Barbies had a big, lovely hand-me-down-house, given to me by a family friend. It wasn’t fancy, but in my imagination, it was a castle. And my Barbies had dresses, lots and lots of stylish dresses.
My grandmother’s handiwork perfected the art of Barbie dresses with scraps of old cloth and crochet hooks. When folks from church came over, they commented, “that’s the best dressed Barbie[s] I’ve ever seen.” The running church joke about the Barbie dresses complimented my grandmother’s impeccable craftsmanship, but it was also a fact.
Barbie had her own place, and she dressed to the nines,
Ken remained in his swim trunks, and was he ancillary in the fantasy narratives.
He appeared in the castle only to be with Barbie on her terms.
They had no children, and I never played at raising babies. Perhaps because the women I was raised with worked, I never observed infant or child care. Yes, I had baby dolls, but they were for sleeping, comfort talismans, not make-believe babies for whom I had to care, feed, and change.
No diapers for me, I had Barbie and her wardrobe. That’s what I liked, at least when it came to dolls.
Heather Cox Richardson’s re-post today that rightly recognizes how the idea of Motherhood is being politically twisted — quelle surprise — in these days. I invite you to read her Facebook post in its entirety here.
From her entry:
I told this story here two years ago, but I want to repeat it tonight, as the reality of women’s lives is being erased in favor of an image of women as mothers….
If you google the history of Mother’s Day, the internet will tell you that Mother’s Day began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis decided to honor her mother. But “Mothers’ Day”—with the apostrophe not in the singular spot, but in the plural—actually started in the 1870s, when the sheer enormity of the death caused by the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War convinced American women that women must take control of politics from the men who had permitted such carnage. Mothers’ Day was not designed to encourage people to be nice to their mothers. It was part of women’s effort to gain power to change modern society.
The Civil War years taught naïve Americans what mass death meant in the modern era. Soldiers who had marched off to war with fantasies of heroism discovered that long-range weapons turned death into tortured anonymity. Men were trampled into blood-soaked mud, piled like cordwood in ditches, or transformed into emaciated corpses after dysentery drained their lives away.
The women who had watched their men march off to war were haunted by its results. They lost fathers, husbands, sons. The men who did come home were scarred in body and mind.
Cox Richardson shows why Mothers’ Day is a more powerful animal than Mother’s Day. The former is about the political and sovereign strength of women, the latter is a construct that demands gender specific ideas to buttress social norms that don’t do much for mothers, mothering, or living children. In the latter, mothers and mothering are mired in stereotypes, expectations, and subjugation.
My spiritual-imaginal explorations have led me to an evolving devotion to The Divine Mother, the one who births all creation.
More precisely, She’s called me to herself, again.
The Great Creatrix, the vast invisible darkness from which the Universe herself expands, unfolds, who dances through the whole of everything, including our small, ephemeral lives.
The enormity is stupefying, this Great Mother Of Everything.
For too long, our World Religions have been male centric, male dominated, male privileging.
It wasn’t always so, the Great Goddess was our first original devotional object.
She was respected, honored, referenced, cherished, held in our hands as talismans to bring Her to our minds and hearts at every hour.
Our first dolls were the great Mother, figurines not to be cared for as dependent girls, but the One Source who cared for us, nurtured us, protected us, eroticized life on her terms:
Sloppy assertion? Do I have enough information to claim anything about any of these mysterious figurines, let alone the Willendorf? Self-serving rhetoric?
No more self-serving than the recently leaked SCOTUS draft, or any of the violence, domination, and anger on display in the name of ‘values.’
The wisdom and mystical traditions of these new patriarchal religions, all of them are new in comparison to the goddess, all the writings, saints, epiphanies, and revelations revealing the nature of Reality always understand that that the mystery beyond words is neither female nor male.
If anything, the mystics privilege the feminine, and nature’s generative, healing resilience as the means to living in our True Nature.
The Holy Spirit herself is an old Sophia artifact, the Mother meeting herself in the Immaculate Conception: the idea of human sovereignty written in female humility and devotion.
The evidence for such a radical recasting is in the texts and in the ancient practices, if we carefully clean the accumulated debris from the artifacts like spiritual archeologists, instead of rehashing old narratives and expecting a new result. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, not personal or collective transformation.
But getting the Great Mother’s face back in our collective consciousness isn’t easy.
Men walk into rooms with their given-at-birth-collective permission slip, “made in the image of.”
Women have to wrestle their made-in-the-image-of from ‘the powers and principalities of this world” (Paul’s epistle to The Ephesians).
But another layer comes to light in one’s evolution when one recognizes that we really are from the dust — the earth, the Mother — and to dust we return.
We come from her, we go back to her.
Everything comes from her, everything returns to her.
We live on death. Our bodies are the bodies of stars, dinosaurs, animals, rocks, trees, flowers. Everything is connected, everything is recycled and life and death are illusions in the deepest sense. Life and death are constantly circling ouroboros style in this great cosmic life dance, that has never been ours, only Hers.
We’re at our most spiritually alienated when we believe we’re in this alone, and that the end-game in this life is eternal salvation or awakened enlightenment.
No, it’s just Her world, Her dance, Her work, and we’re here to hold Her hands and listen.
Everything is impermanent, so are we; and we just keep getting recycled, over and over.
Yet, we hold the wisdom, grace, pain, travail, beauty, resilience, and achievement of these ancient, recycled memories in our blood, bones, flesh.
It’s part of what it means to dance with Her, again.
There is One Mother, but in these memories, we all hold the memory of all mothers, no matter our gender, no matter our gender identity. We are all mothers in the Great Recycling Project. Mothers and mothering takes on a whole new life, and to know this Mother opens the door for collective transformation.
I told my friend another story, yesterday.
At one point in my life, I sponsored five kids through Christian Children’s Fund.
It’s probably not a choice I’d make today, but I made it then. I didn’t go to church, didn’t believe in the teachings, but CCF had excellent Charity Navigator ratings. I believe in tithing, and I support children’s development.
The kids received one hot meal a day, one multi-vitamin every day, and they were taught to read and write in their native languages. (Side note: it was devastating to me when the 9 year old Polish boy wrote letters more sophisticated and informative than the 10 year old boy from Alabama. There’s a lot more to say about this, but it’s for another time.)
This wasn’t the only charity I supported. But it was important to me. They were kids I felt a responsibility for, kids with names, faces, stories to tell. They wrote me letters, drew pictures, and my generosity helped them and their families.
“If everyone in America could support just one child,” I’d think to myself, “the world would be a better place.”
One day, out of the blue, after many years of giving, I received a letter from CCF with a honorary certificate of some type, and a letter.
I’d earned some kind of donor status, which wasn’t on my radar.
But this is what blew me away: over the course of my giving, I’d managed to donate over 36,000 dollars to support other women’s children, through one organization. This didn’t include any of the other organizations I felt committed to.
I’m not sure what that means. I’m going to take a guess here, though, and say that there is more than one way to be a good Mother, no matter your gender or your instincts.
I believe in One Mother, and all of her children. I believe that the stars, the sun, the galaxies, the flora, the fauna, the pebble, the mountain, the Republican the Democrat, the misogynist and the Wiccan, we are all, all of us, made in Her image.
We are Her. And for this reason, all is worthy of love, all is lovable, and all of us are Mothers.
Notes on skinning soaked almonds at 4:16 in the morning:
Standing at the sink and removing one skin at a time, I can’t think about everything I‘ve told myself that must be done by the day’s end. No. It’s this one thing, over and over, skinning almonds. Skin in one bowl, almondin another. Skin. Almond. Skin. Almond.
I resist the tedium. Why did I soak so many almonds? “You knew the time involved in skinning them, and why must you be picky when you have things to do, and life marches on. When will you learn to let go of every detail?”
The chiding chatterer persists. She’s stubborn.
I’ve got my agenda. My agenda’s important. Almonds, not so much. After a bit, I quit arguing with myself about the importance of standing at the sink peeling almonds, and finally give myself to the morning’s quiet and dark and task, one skin at a time. My mind sinks into a comforting rhythm, as my fingers do their thing.
It becomes musical, this almond skinning, in the dark and quiet. Three notes alone in this song: the sound of my fingers breaking almond skins, the nuts plopping in their bowl, and my breath in the morning’s sweetness.
In the quiet, another kitchen sink epiphany visits. I pause, invite it in, then continue. Almond. Skin. Almond. Skin.
Three bowls. One with broken skins, one with almonds, one now empty.
I think, “Done already?I was enjoying that.”
Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and fermenting bacteria, rested in a dark, warm corner, until the smell of old shoes permeates the room. That’s the sign that the bacteria have created a mound of cultured nut-seed meat whose smell is nearly intolerable in its mass, except when it‘s covered, sealed, and in the fridge.
This morning’s edible music: small scoop from odiferous mass, to which I added pink salt, fresh garlic, nutritional yest, and herbs from the garden saved in ice cubes, thawed, fresher than dried.
Served on the crunchy end of a fresh baked, seedy boule, with sun dried heirloom Purple Cherokees from last season, and fresh cut sage from the tent.
He led a day retreat at Memorial Church, a rare event, even then.
Thay’s passing reminds me of this event; the intersection of memory and the present holds magic, a soul weaving not bound by time or space.
Twenty-years ago, I meditated with Thay.
I remember where I sat in Memorial, and I remember watching Thay teach. The Memorial Church podium remained empty, no top-down teaching, but the area in front of the alter at the bottom of the stairs held an elevated platform, with an oversized maroon sitting cushion. Thay nestled into it, his robe folds becoming indistinguishable from the cushion.
I don’t remember what he said, or even the topic, now. I remember that his voice was soft and uneven, even then, and his accented words were staccato.
Twenty years ago, I sat with Thay, and I remember little of what happened inside Memorial Church.
What memory holds, what’s fashioned itself in the nooks and crannies of my cranial lobes, was what happened when our retreat ended.
I left Memorial, I passed through the yard, and I walked out the gates. I remember the sun and a chill that brightened the blue, but the cold didn’t bite. As I turned from Quincy onto Broadway, I felt something approach me from behind, slowly at first — then peace broke the shores of time like waves, waves that washed in and thru me from unseen places. Endless streams dissolving inner and outer until there was only the ocean, a way of being that I’ll call peace, but certainly it is more.
Language limits us, limits the way we relate to things, it closes meanings and nuances long abandoned by culture for convention. Or is it the other way around? I don’t know. But I know that I’m left only with the word, ‘peace,’ and the metaphor of a shoreless ocean, as I hear ‘go as water’ from that same unbound space.
Maya Angelou wrote that we don’t remember what people say or do, we remember how they make us feel.
I don’t remember what Thay said that day, but I remember that peace.
To remember that peace, today, is abiding Soul work, the deep stuff.
Allow me tell you why I believe so. I believe that we’re dissolving, we’re turning into collective goo, old forms dissolve, as new forms are born. We’re the butterfly digesting itself before its transformation. Or, as someone once said, you don’t put new wine into the old wine skins. We need new skins. Change isn’t easy. The fear of change, the stresses, the anxieties haunting us, we’re overwhelmed. To feel these things on the most visceral level is to be human, no matter who you are or what you do.
To remember that space which I’m calling peace, today, after twenty years, testifies to me of Reality.
For two weeks now, I’ve been living with high-voltage live wire nerves. random crying jags, negative bias overdrive, and to-the-bones exhaustion.
Some of us feel the exhaustion, without dealing with the day-to-day realities: the feelings and experiences of others we share, not just empathically, but as part of the collective, the collective goo.
Those who practice peace, faith, hope, no matter the form the intentions take, hold peace for others, as we have been held.
As Thay held me that day, and, now, today.
He wrote, “There’s no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected. Once you are aware of that you are no longer caught in the idea that you are a separate entity.”
Thay dies, a memory returns, and I understand that memory a little better. That shoreless ocean remains, has always been, will always be. I’ve fallen and risen Phoenix like at least 99 times in those twenty years; together, we’ve been through more than a Apocalypse blockbuster. This month marks merely one year since the Biden inauguration, and the dizzying speed at which we’re spinning may not slow down.
Thay dies, and the shoreless ocean that sought my attention twenty years ago returns its limitless energy to the world, promising time that her shores are not abandoned, and that from our chaotic goo, life comes, always.
Peace in every step.
Recorded from yesterday’s livestream, ‘Ceremony on the transition of Thich Naht Hahn,’ from Deer Park Ceremony:
Live stream, Thich Naht Hahn memorial ceremony, broadcast from Plum Village, Saturday 1/22 @ 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT
You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer. — Thich Naht Hahn
You’re a shining star, no matter who you are, shining bright to see, what you could truly be. — Earth, Wind, and Fire
It’s an honor to say hello as we enter 2022.
It’s a gift to be alive, healthy, and safe as we navigate another year in a world filled with luminous discoveries and heart breaking losses.
I hope you are safe and finding comfort, as well as finding deeper wells from which to draw during our collective birthing.
I’ve missed you, but other things have been happening.
I’ll share them throughout 2022.
There will be a new web site, one that resolves a lot of the creative, psychological, and imaginal tensions that I’ve used this space to explore over the years: you have been part of that sorting. Thank you.
Given that January and February promise to bury us in apocalyptic news cycles, I wanted to share something from E.O. Wilson, who passed December 27.
Wilson was one of our great natural scientists (read about him here and here). Neither a cynic or pessimist, he wrote that scientists ought to “offer the hand of friendship” to religious leaders and build an alliance with them, stating that “Science and religion are two of the most potent forces on Earth and they should come together to save the creation” (from the Wiki link).
Wilson was insightful and conciliatory. But of course. You cannot work with and in nature and be a recalcitrant cynic — she doesn’t allow it. Diversity, infinite possibility, recovery, resilience, nature’s trove is life, life itself.
And nature’s intrinsic and unstoppable energies are necessarily our energies: we are made of Her.
Never doubt your greatness or strength, never doubt your elemental nature: the stuff of exploding stars, billions of years of evolution, great cosmic energies, the memories of your ancestors, and Intelligence beyond your imagination’s boundaries are the stuff of you.
Everything matters, everything has significance.
This includes you, magnificent creature of earth, wind, fire, water.
I’m posting this entry early, as I’m observing a special three-day-new-moon-during-New-Year’s-weekend time of reflection this weekend. Many have written that what’s happening on earth is reflected in the sky’s stars; I’m respecting that calculation, while acknowledging the elasticity of meaning.
Feel free to join me — drop me an email and let me know if you do.
Flourish guilt-free in in these days.
We aren’t just the ones we’ve been waiting for, we’re much better than we realized.
It’s powerful to know that shining isn’t just allowed, it’s necessary.
Shine fiercely in 2022.
It’s the intractable rebellion needed.
”Shining star for you to see what your life can truly be.”
(This entry was originally published with the wrong E.O. Wilson links. Fixed.)
I’d like to thank you for following, sharing, and connecting these past 6 years — it is six, I believe.
It’s an honor to have you in this space, and as part of my life.
In that spirit, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.
Despite the holiday’s origins and our skewed myths around it, Thanksgiving’s perhaps my favorite holiday.
Gratitude is the foundation practice for all of life: it changes our perception, and we learn to see what wants to be seen, because our sight’s unveiled. Giving thanks opens the doors of wonder, magic, mystery, tenderness, hope, perseverance, courage, healing, resilience, and beauty.
It transfigures our cares and doubts and despair into provisions, if we are patient.
No formulas, no rituals, no doing, no achieving, no judgement, no opinion.
It’s the practice inviting us into joy and equanimity.
And equanimity’s greatest gift, stillness.
Gratitude is where our ‘yeses’ are conceived: yes to life, yes to love, yes to every transitory moment as a drop in the incomprehensible cosmic ocean.
It’s the shift from living to being alive.
That’s a bit of what I’m thinking about today.
And I wanted to share my thanks with and for you.
May you and those you hold dear make memories that matter today, your gratitude delivering a feast of yeses..