Jan 042016

2015 is behind us

I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks but I have been producing content and actually posting it on my Facebook page.  I’m excited to post some of those updates here as well as get my videos page up to date.

But firstly I wanted to share a few pictures of the latest art I made first this past Christmas.  IMG_0881IMG_0884IMG_0878IMG_0880I’m reminded of the quote:

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.
― William Carlos Williams, Asphodel, That Greeny Flower and Other Love Poems: That Greeny Flower

Art is poetry and seems to be undervalued in schools and our everyday life.  Sure there are poets and artists but we are all poets and artists and need to care for that part of ourselves… or we too may die miserably from that absence.

I made this feather inspired on the style of beading that is found in Native American art; it was made for my daughter who has Native American blood.  The 4 colors red, blue, yellow, green represent both the 4 directions as well as the four elements in her family in this home (though she has a much larger family); I wanted to weave those 4 elements to indicate how they are all deeply bound together.  The feathers are owl feathers which, from what I am told, are not traditionally used by Native American culture for ceremony but my daughter found them and has wanted to honor them for a long time.


Jul 212014

9780670893744This beautiful book (the cover art is really beautiful) was handed to me by a friend and, though my wife already had a copy, we decided to keep it so I could read it and tag it all I wanted. Someone had already gone ahead and written in the book in pen (someone called Marion Woodman) so I didn’t feel as bad about adding my notes.

This book is made up of diary excerpts from a period in Woodman’s life when she was diagnosed and treated for cancer; the entries are from November 1993 to April 1995. It is now 2014, 20 years later, and Woodman is still alive.


Her dedication to life, to studying life and being fully present really comes across and is very inspirational. At one point she goes through all her photo albums and her family photo albums and burns all but a select few of the pictures in order to simplify her life to the point where there is no clutter to interfere with her ability to perceive life in all its subtleties and also her ability to exactly connect intention/visualizations to physicality.

I strongly recommend this book and I’ll now add some excerpts.

Bone is also about the stark truth of growing older. (…) What does it mean to be an elder in this culture? What are my new responsibilities? What has to be let go to make room for the transformations of energy that are ready to pour through the body-soul? I don’t want to be here if I can’t carry my own weight. As life asks new things of me, I feel I must pause, go inward, and ask, “What is my weight now? What are my new values? Who am I and not-I at this stage? Do I have the courage to live with this evolving me?”

Death present in cancer was death asking to be accepted into my life.

Ross and I went grocery shopping today. As we drove past St. Jo’s I tried to understand I was going in there tomorrow to be operated on for cancer. Dear God, it is amazing how we go about the ordinary tasks in the face of the mystery.

Mysticism must rest on crystal clear honesty, can only come after things have been stripped down to their naked reality. – Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life

This walk with Death makes me realize yet deeper that ther is no freedom without discipline–physically, emotionally, spiritually.

The anorexic takes the rage in and kills herself; the adolescent boys take it out and kill the power-crazy drunken patriarchs who are their fathers or surrogate fathers.

Repressed energy returns to haunt us in symbol and symptom.

What we [Marion and her husband Ross] are experiencing is what a Japanese martial arts master once explained to me. What you watch for in your opponent is a suki–a moment when his mind goes out of his body. If you are present, your conscious mind in your body will know instantly if his conscious mind leaves his body. He is finished once that happens. We aren’t sparring, just holding presence. We are accepting the gifts of science that can spare my life immediately; we are also focusing on spiritual and alternative medicines for the future. We’re relaxing into the blend of science and soul.

Simplifying becomes my total focus. I’m noting how anxious I become when I fail to simplify or cannot simplify because of what starts happening around me–phone, TV, letters, ad infinitum. I believe that failure to simplify could lead me back into cancer because I would lose touch with my life vibration–my tone that sustains my life force.
Anxiety is stripped away by concentrated listening and perceiving. Concentrated vision operating in all the senses is what I mean by simplifying. The more I listen to my soul, the more clearly I hear the truth of other people, of animals, birds, the universe.
I must stay in touch with whatever keeps me focused on the still point–the place of exact harmony in body and psyche. Simplify life to that point where the dance can happen–the dance between consciousness and the unconscious. So long as I constantly allow other things to interfere, I will never find the moments in each day to reach those listening points of harmony–those seeing points of perception.

Jun 162014


You don’t even need to leave your room, just sit at your table and wait.
Don’t even wait, just listen.
Be quiet, be still, be solitary.
The world will fully offer itself to you, to be unmasked, it has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
- Franz Kafka

Growing up I’d imagine that adults knew more than I did, that they were, at least, certain of their words; now, as an adult myself I know this is not true.  At no point do the societies I have come across make an effort to teach people how to be parents, how to be adults, how to live.  I thought I could get on the train tracks, perform well in the things asked of me and find myself arriving at a place of undeniable success; now I’m off the train and looking at the school systems and how careless they are, how little value is placed on the schools by the society, how it does not prepare one for life outside of school (Life!).

I’ll argue that if we make a list of the things we are not taught we will have a good list of some of the most valuable things in life.  Love, meditation, personal finances, parenthood, interpersonal communication, empathy, and slowing down.  Learning to stop doing doing doing as if it were getting us to another place where we need to be in order to receive something.  Learning to be still, be quiet, notice what is happening, noticing the pile of stuff that you are carrying around and that built up in your runaway busy-ness.  Stop.  Don’t even wait.  Just listen.

Stop and become intimate with yourself.

Jun 032014

Finished reading Hyemeyohsts Storm’s Seven Arrows a couple of days ago, right before bed, and spent the night dreaming of medicine names, rivers, eagles… I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. Or maybe, more accurately, I was expecting something different. I think I was expecting a sweet, nature-loving account of how Native American life was organized; a look at their cosmology, their way of life, their traditions and connection to life, nature and god. I think that the first few chapters still allowed me to keep that view of the book as Hyemeyohsts goes into different stories/tales that are important medicine stories in their tradition. I think that somewhere around here my view of the book changed:

“Before, when the camps had come together, the Sun Dancers had stood in a line within the Medicine lodge. The drum had been its heartbeat, and the singers’ voices had been strong. The People had stood there in the Renewal of the Brotherhood and watched the sunrise. The Power had been strong and because of this the People had been strong. But this time, the sunrise that came the next morning at Sand Creek was not the same. The morning exploded with the frightening crash of thunder irons, as hundreds of Pony Soldiers charged into the camp at a full gallop.

Hawk was awakened by screams and by the roar of horses’ hooves and exploding weapons. He grabbed his bow and quiver and ran outside. He saw hi mother clutch at her stomach and roll over in a sudden pool of blood. She spilled her cooking pot as she fell, and the steam rose from it into the air.”
arrow 2

As I reflect on the book I notice that one striking feature that so touched me is the absence of a reason for the book.  To clarify: it doesn’t feel like the author was trying to tell me something or convince me of something, of his agenda.  He writes a story, an account of lives lived and of the way of viewing the world according to the Medicine of the Peace Shields and, just as in real life, there are deep losses and high beautiful moments.

To me, a very moving book.


May 292014

“Thank you very much,” said Jumping Mouse.
“But you Know, it was very Frightening Running under you with only One Eye.  I was Constantly in Fear of your Great Earth-Shaking Hooves.”
“Your Fear was for Nothing,” said Buffalo.
“For my way of Walking is the Sun Dance Way, and I Always Know where my Hooves will Fall.  I now must Return to the Prairie, my Brother.  You can Always Find me there.”
- Hyemeyohsts Storm

Haya Trees1Chief Tsunka Wakan Sapa (Phillip Scott) holding Haya up to the the tall redwoods

Just a few days ago I got to attend a beautiful blessing ceremony for a baby girl, Haya, who turned 1.  The ceremony took place amongst tall redwoods and was led by Phillip Scott, a Chief in the Lakota tradition.

Blessings Haya!

May 262014

Skull and Flower“Come sit with me, and let us smoke the Pipe of Peace in Understanding.
Let us Touch.
Let us, each to the other, be a Gift as is the Buffalo.
Let us be Meat to Nourish each other, that we all may Grow.
Sit here with me, each of you as you are in your own Perceiving of yourself, as Mouse, Wolf, Coyote, Weasel, Fox, or Prairie Bird.
Let me see through your Eyes.
Let us Teach each other here in this Great Lodge of the People, this Sun Dance, of each of the Ways on this Great Medicine Wheel, our Earth.”
 – Seven Arrows, by Hyemeyohsts Storm

Join me in Book 4 of this 50 book project.  Seven Arrows by Hyemeyosts Storm.
Previous books were:
1 – Walking a Sacred Path – Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool, by Dr. Lauren Artress
2 – Lost In The City Of Flowers – The Histories of Idan Book I, by Maria C. Trujillo
3 – The Wondrous Mushroom – Mycolatry in Mesoamerica, by R. Gordon Wasson

You can read my brief reviews of the books on plimbooks (playing catch up with the reviews of books 1 and 2)

May 262014

Oyanoconic in nanacaoctli, ya noyol in choca
I have drunk the liquor of mushrooms and my hear weeps.
- Poesia Nahuatl


In this age of constant interconnection we are seldom OFF.  We are seldom not-doing.  We are constantly catching up.
There is new information every time we scroll down.  It is either something happening in the world, a new coup, a new discovery, a new bomb, a new intriguing popstar relationship, or it is something new in a friend’s life (even if it is a friend whom we haven’t spoken to in many years, it is there and we must read it).
My connection to books dwindled with the coming of the internet to the point where I’d look at my many bookshelves and wonder “why exactly do I have these books that I love but don’t read”, something was off.

And so I have committed to a simple challenge/project (I like to call my challenges PROJECTS).  A book a week for a year.

A book a week for a year.

Yesterday I finished my third week and my third book: THE WONDROUS MUSHROOM – Mycolatry in Mesoamerica, by R. Gordon Wasson.
wondrous_mushroom2What an amazing book.  Powerfully written (full of conviction), clear, concise, focused and with profound effects.  Simply put Wasson’s work strongly invites you to see the recently lost great civilizations of the Nahua, the Greeks, the Aryans in a completely different light, one strongly, deeply influenced by entheogens (“plant substances that, when ingested, give one a divine experience”).  This book encourages the reader to attempt to see the world through the eyes of a simple people who place at the core of their culture, of their cosmology, of their living the world shown to them by the mushrooms.  Nowadays we call those substances psychadelics or hallucinogenics with the limited understanding that they influence our brains; our scientific endeavours shaping our perception; our yearning for a logical framework limiting the depth of experience.  For those people the mushrooms were, possibly, a door, a passageway, an entrance… not a “figment of our imagination” (or sad excuse for an imagination).

Sep 132013
Skilled Contact

Image from a craniosacral workshop at the Florida School of Massage

You could probably best define someone by the things they hold on to.

You could say “hold on” or you could just as well say “cling to”.  The things we cling to are the things we will not bend for.  Ghandi held on to his quest for Truth, satyagraha – the quest for truth.  He wanted to know truth, understand truth, and embody and live truth.  We may not even know what is at our core but we may insist on … we may insist on “dinner is a time for family to be together”, or television time at the end of the day, or “my God exists and he is the only one”, or “I do it for money”, or any other phrase we may have adopted as our motto.

We hold onto things in our body too.  Our verbal and mental phrases are physical postures too.  They may be slight such as a passivity to the eyes, downturned corners of the lips, or a shuffle to the step.  Or they may be pronounced, such as an arrow-straight spine, or a collapsed one.

We hold these voluntarily… though oftentimes we forget.

The most skilled kind of bodywork is an act or reminding, not a forcing.  I, as the bodyworker, touch the body and look for the fulcrum, the center of all that is happening.  And yes, the fulcrum is an attitude and a posture but with the right words, and touch and the right movement we can reach the level of the posture and the attitude.

To encourage a change it is not necessary to put a lot of effort; in fact, it is often counterproductive and our effort gets in the way of working with the person.  Find the way to be effortless while being fully effective.

“A good cook need sharpen his blade but once a year. He cuts cleanly. An awkward cook sharpens his knife every month. He chops. I’ve used this knife for nineteen years, carving thousands of oxen. Still the blade is as sharp as the first time it was lifted from the whetstone. At the joints there are spaces, and the blade has no thickness. Entering with no thickness where there is space, the blade may move freely where it will: there’s plenty of room to move. Thus, after nineteen years, my knife remains as sharp as it was that first day.”
- excerpt from Chuang Tzu’s “The Dextrous Butcher

Sep 012013
Touch 3

There is a moment between the decision to let go and the act of letting go when things soften.

Together we rocked right, together we rocked left.  A tide pulled us further out and, after drawing us out so far that it felt endless, brought us back in.  The movement always happened together, never one leading the other; in unison, in sync, in flow.  Yet, it was boring, or became boring.  Where were we going?  What was the purpose?  What was the meaning?
At some point I, or maybe it was you, or probably it was us both, found the boredom more interesting than the story we had been living and decided to let go.  Let go of the other, let go of the precious flow, go our separate ways.

And isn’t that when we felt most together?

Suddenly there was a sense of vertiginous space where before the air was stuffy.  The stagnant pond became an ocean and a tide so strong it put our efforts of trying to feel a tide to shame drew us clear across the universe and back.