Life and Death intertwined Here, in a Knot that Binds Glorious and Grotesque.
A fawn fatally entangled, limps back to the wilderness from whence it came, transformed, trailing ichor & transcending onto the sacrificial altar. It will swiftly be churned asunder and by dawn we find new life. The sacred sacrifice offers nourishment that benefits the whole, impelling rebirth! And the cycle goes on…
\”YOU’RE A GOOD KILLER\” In order to live, you’ve got to be a demolisher. You take plants & animals that were once alive & rip them apart with your teeth then disintegrate them in your digestive system. Your body is literally on fire inside, burning up the oxygen you such into your lungs. You didn’t actually cut down the trees used to make your house & furniture but you colluded in their demise. Then there’s the psychological liquidation you’ve done: killing off old beliefs you’ve outgrown, for instance. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty, just pointing out that you have a lot of experience with positive expressions of destruction. Can you think of other forms this magic takes? As an aspiring mast of Pronoia, it’s one of your specialties – a talent you have a duty to wield with energetic grace. -Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia, Rob Brezsny 104
I prune strawberries. I make a safe space to nurture life within the garden sphere. Beneath it all, I find earth.
I turn from the bed to find total destruction! Lying on the path: squashed snails and dying blooms, A serving of slaughter (= (if not >)) growth preserved. I, murderer.
I, life giver. I create and destroy. This is a necessary rhythm: the world seeking balance.
Dear Russ, I’ve been feeling disconnected recently. Being able to spend the weekend with you was the greatest birthday gift I could have asked for and you made it so very special! It was wonderful. But since you returned to Eureka, I have found loneliness magnified. I inhabit a whole house, all to myself, on 400 acres plopped down amongst expansive woodland and populated by creatures of every kind! Now I will admit: the animal friends, I do not mind. Their mystic energy enraptures me!
I am embracing the wilderness …perhaps because it is all that I can do at the moment. It delights and scares me – this tiny human in awe of its majesty. As I sit in the living room at night I wonder: who is looking in? Rattlesnake, scorpion, bat, bear or owl: the nocturne awakens and thrives. Coming across a dying fawn is an uncomfortable situation to face. “But remember,” I remind, “I did put myself here.” It’s a bit like clipping rosemary for dry allafternoon. The experience tests your patience, but if you sit through it, doors open. After all, I talked to you!
Family has been trying to get in touch, more and more as their messages get ignored. The image they have is of this young woman somewhere on the opposite side of the country traveling with only her pack having her back. They live with the not knowing, as do I. But to them, I am gone (lost) and they have no control. To me, I am right here at the very least!
It is so difficult – impossible, really – to photograph the sensation of the sun on one’s back in the garden, explain the experience of a place, or simulate all the layers of awareness that make up what it feels to be here. Dimensions are shed when the media changes, and the reality gets lost in translation. You just had to be there, omnisciently!
I hesitate to even attempt expressing the magnitude of this journey. I procrastinate more and more about calling someone, or writing a blog entry, even taking a picture! What could I say? How to convey? I put it off, put it off again and again, delaying response, delaying reaction. Instead, I just AM. A lot of times that is enough. I surrender to the ebb and flow of the world before me. I am learning how to dance in the current. It is magic! I am living my dreams!
The Camps are a truly genuine couple who built an oasis of mythological proportions from a clear cut mountainside! Walter and Jane are pioneers. Their livelihood comes from sharing this vision with people in the most tolerant and caring way. I have tremendous reverence for the way they generously welcome and provide for people on their land in the woods, again and again without bitterness. The harmony here is honed in its forty years of happening. On arrival, I am given their trust and my own freedom. I find a magnitude of magic in this wonderland of knowledge and art, in an action that sustains us!
The garden is my safe haven. Each day I love it with increased zeal; it grows on me. The energy is tremendous! When there are three hundred people roaming the property, I go there to find comfort and peace. When I am alone, I often sing. I mix with the strawberries. I listen to boys playing in the ivy cave. I duck occasionally when a hummingbird zooms overhead. I practice patience: ruminating at my task for hours on end, only Aegopodium listening. I serve a sustainable mission by taking care of a plant’s need and receiving the food it gives me in return. Not only do I learn the language of the flora, I am given the creative freedom to shape its aesthetic. We resonate with one another! While communing with plants, one of my favorite tasks is to massage the soil. When my hands have touched the whole bed, it is renewed and beautiful!
In a moment, I can channel this energy into an expression of fine art, which mimics the actual experience of being. This is my means of sharing, communicating, & celebrating the beauty that I see with fellow company and east coast stylee. OR, I can wait a week. And then what I thought I saw all looks entirely different! As it fades into distant past, the perception perceives itself, becoming an entirely new perspective – one that could not have been imagined! Revising eternally, I am overfull with the wonders of life!
There is an exquisite rhythm maintained in this microcosm on the mountain. There is an abundance of both community and solitude; they co-exist is perfect balance. Bustling with creative freedom, our actions are always inspired because we choose this! Each a unique voice and creator! I’ve got the energy ball rolling and I am a prophet! I sit back in wonder to watch will(its) manifest.
Looking ahead but trying not to get there before myself. Nice, easy pace. I don’t rush or worry about what will happen next. I wait to see! When I push myself through the discomfort of not knowing, I emerge on the other side not needing to know. I am happily surprised to learn the way I will get by! For the present, I am simply here, now. What will be, is, and is beautiful indeed. Still, I want to be where all I see is you, but I guess I’m supposed to spend some more time in the rosemary patch. This is increasingly Okay with me. The outside world is still there and it still loves me. The connections are just as strong, but there is a slightly severe delay on all communications in and out. This affords time for personal reflection, to be sure! I am grounded, presently.
We shall meet soon, tumbling through the universe like the time traveling bears that tramps through my dreams, guided and gripped in the awestruck embrace of mother earth as she spins through space! And so it is. Blessed be.
Another job offer tempting me. I explore the feeling of this new option. I call, to find that I would have to “Go right now!” I realize: that’s ALL (ways what) it would be – PRONTO! Then come all the other considerations necessary to live …in civilization. Ew!
My heart yells out, “Casey! Don’t do it! NEVER SURRENDER! Remain a wild child, after all that is your allure. Continue daring to be free!” I’ll stay… gone. Having consciously chosen this path, once again, I enjoy the freedom before me, Playing in the present moment with increased vigor. In every new moment each of us choose what we are. I’m scared sometimes because this way is so transitory, but aren’t they all? Headspace: I am safe. I am blessed! The world is taking care of me and lets me know by offering opportunity. I’m taking this ride to the end of the line!
“Fear is a symptom of loss of our authority; When we give away our authority, we should be afraid!” -Caroline Casey
I am glad I came all this way, Up here, on a mountain, away from the Momentum of people…
When the night Feels my song I’ll be home
I’m headed to the pond. I’m going to take all my clothes off. And jump in! I am in such a natural state, Sitting in the garden all day. I’ve got two more hours to give there tonight. Sifting through foliage, what don’t I love about this? I am fed.
Follow the throbbing heart, Practice ritual in art, Grounded in the natural (nature of ALL). With a monk’s virtue, Balanced on the path, I shine like the Christ child!
Barefoot in the fig tree, pruning. Work trade. I’m living on loving-kindness! There is something we can barter more universal than cash; I am an independent contractor for cultivating compassion. I offer myself, a person, Peace Pilgrim, open & willing, energetic & present, seeking to serve for the good of all our relations.
“‘You have given me money, which is of no use to me.’ Jupiter is the god of wealth in the sense of limitless opportunities, which has little to do with money. Money is a by-product of true wealth, but not its source. True wealth lies in telling the right story at the right time. We honor Jupiter, and he incarnates through us, when we, in the words of Isaiah, “speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”
Jupiter says to each of us, ‘I will make you wealthy, by your own definition. What is your definition of wealth?’ What is a wealthy life, what is a wealthy culture? Simply asking the questions initiates a journey of discovering their answers.
Jupiter says that if you write down the answer to these questions, wealth will be yours. But don’t forget to tell the story of how you got it…”
By speaking of the forces that dwell within us we bring them to life.
Caroline Casey, Making the Gods Work for You
So I’m down on the river bar in the afternoon taking a break from the farmer’s fields. I sit back on the sand looking over the river, relax and start to doze. I’m asleep for a bit, somewhere between dream state and only mildly awake, when, out of the blue, I feel this big wet sensation on my face: I’m being LICKED! I reflexively push away with my hand, sitting up & turning to see that I have rejected the advances of a cougar cub! The little one instinctively nips my hand in response to my abrupt rebuttal! I scramble up the hill, retrieve others and upon our return, we are graced with the sight of momma mountain lion leading her babe up the hill across the river. Thank goodness we didn’t have to meet her! I am full of gratitude for the mystical gift that youthful creature bestowed! For such an elusive entity, reaching out and touching a person like that must be a rare treat!
When I first came to the farm, Catherine and Russell took me down to the Salmon River for a dip. We all settled into the river bar, I took a quick skinny & was napping with my shade hat pulled down over the face (to protect from Cougar-Face) in an attempt to catch the last rays of warmth before the sun fell over the mountain ridge. All was quiet, until Catherine suddenly blared out, “BEAR.” I popped my hat up and was about to turn & look over my shoulder but there he was – black bear – sitting on the ridge right across the river from us. His nose was in the air. He stayed, sitting there by an evergreen for several minutes, sharing our company. I was charmed. What a magical greeting! Well, I thank you for the welcome! Before long black bear moseyed on, climbing the hill in his slow paced way. It was my first direct encounter with these animals, but I was left with the sense that their presence is deep – drenched – in peace.
Shady Brady (farm intern) was lucky in that he had the opportunity to co-habitate with our local black bear: his tent is pitched down by the river & nestled near a berry patch. Brady would start suddenly in the early morning hours, startled by something, which was then startled by him, taking a few steps with a gruff grunt. It was these steps which again startled Brady, but it seems that everyone stayed startled enough to keep moving on their own way! More often than not, the black bear presence is felt rather than encountered. It’s a brisk brush with a powerful but peaceful steward of this land.
One afternoon Shady enters our outdoor kitchen announcing bluntly, “Bear ate my soap.” I had to laugh! Ha! Ha! Ha! Bear ate my soap? Ha! “Tell me, dear Shady, just how did that happen?” I inquire jokingly. “Yeah, yeah,” he replies, “Everyone’s a skeptic, but seriously!” It’s really quite simple. Draw your own conclusions. You are on the river bar. There are bear tracks on the beach approaching a cairn, which once marked the location of a bar of soap. And there are bear tracks down the beach, departing the scene. And yet, for some, this is not enough.
I ribbed Mr. Brady, “How do you know he ate it? That nice black bear may have just balanced it on his head & then hopped right into the river to lather up! I bet he\’s full of lavender scent right now and got a nice shiny coat to boot!” But Brady stuck with his story, “Just down the beach in the berry patch there was a little spittle on the ground. Bear spit-up.” Guess that bubbly block didn’t go down so well… But I wouldn’t speak too soon, because later that week I caught sight of black bear swimming over to our river bar. Back for more black bear? Since the “Bear ate my soap” incident, I suppose my imagination has run wild, at least, in dream states… Am I dreaming? I invited black bear into my sanctuary – literally welcoming him into my tent! My companion in the tent was skeptical that this was a good idea. Being wary of a big black bear in such close quarters is understandable – appropriate, even. But I was unyielding: I’m tryin’ a hang out with da bear! I’m down. I’m down! I encourage black bear again & again – come! Welcome! I unzip the tent for him. And he immediately blesses me with a wonderful greeting-hug-romp. We wrestled about playfully feeling each other out! Then, at the appropriate time, he exited and took his bear-pace over the hill and on his way. See? All is well.
The crew moves & acts (together): One organism, distinct legs. Leapfrogging about one another, In a hive of activity, Sometimes (chicken) chatter. We scratch the ground with our bare hands. We dig into it – working, massaging the soil. We worship the ground. On the farm We are On the farm (Time slows down. Dirt is constant.)
I think up a lot of stuff 2 do while in the field. I’ve become quiet (introverted: focused inward) …almost somber. But it helps me continue to clear, clarify & cleanse. I AM> focusing my energy. & yet releasing grip… (go with the flow, you know?) Simply be.
Yet the child – my child, mind child seeks distraction. But I set that little girl down here in the dirt. On the Farm We are On Farm Head Space Here for our vegetables. “Here. Now,” I tell her, With an implied, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere ’til you’re finished.” At first difficulty the child screams (tantrum)! But thyme grows on us (silence prevails; discomfort passes). Somethings always new or changing. Somethings always the same. Cluck Cluck is learning to Cock-a-doodle – a garbled call (The lotus unfolds) the kid is quiet.
Come evening, My mind breaks along with the body, Too exhausted & scattered to go pecking around @ misc. tasks. I just surrender (to what is). Sleeping (deep) because I work (so very hard) to serve. The thoughts still bob in my brain (seeds of worry?) Coming & going (more freely). Release them; Do Not Water! They clutter the nature of what is! In stopping resistance, you embrace being. So that abundance enfolds you in its loving arms! On the path, you are. Been a week – two – three – Four since I came (Like Whoa, And How!?) Slow go – or so go(-ne)? I thought When was it (timely)? I (appropriate) am here. My body continues An evolution of blisters & scratches, itching & callousing, Taking care – my vessel knows. I let it, Because last night Venus held the sky (Milky Way her backdrop). It was deep – sublime! Each one, I thought – though I knew it not by a name – held its place in the heavens (it belonged). Something familiar there.
I’m drinkin’ cold mate: cream & honey. I am so nourished (Thank You bacon), Body working hard, Learnin’ the satisfaction of a rigorous days work in the earth (worship). I rake the land with my hands. I feel real (grounded). There is dirt under my fingernails. It is worked into the creases of my skin. Tasks are beautiful in their simplicity (a moving meditation): Hand-weeding, stirrup-hoeing, laying hay (all rhythmic routine). No need for perfection, (basically) its all squiggly lines! We make organic, squirrelly bunches – yum! [I am inspired!] As my body finds rhythm – it hums! Sometimes I don’t even think! Sustaining. Vision: emerges (well being). I am the tiniest ant, but also infinite! Evident, giving (we harvest), sharing the labor to create a Sanctuary of Spirit (TRANSPARENCE).
Matake Oyasin is a Lakota expression that means, “For all my Relations.” This includes the sun, moon & stars – all things! I am reading a book by Caroline Casey where she expresses this idea that, “we want to become completely involved in the responsibility of shaping reality for the greater good of all our relations.” This includes all that we do: in public and in private! She quotes an old Sufi story to remind us that “…if it weren’t for the hidden work of those who pray, imagine, dream & act compassionately when the opportunity presents itself, things would be much worse [than they are].” It is important to remember that we are active participants in community.
Ceremony plays an important role in unifying a community. Ceremony, as defined by Casey, is a group ritual demonstrating the will of the people. It is a form of theater that helps us visualize and experience what we want to make reality; it is a token rite grounding our intention in a physical act. A theatrical element is part of the ritual that helps our experience become reality. And so it is.
Without knowing it, I found myself in ceremony at the Un-Dam the Klamath Music & Arts Festival. This took place on my first weekend on the farm, up in the mountains at a town called Happy Camp! I was with new peers (we call ourselves interns). Zack (better known as Shady Brady), the physics teacher from Illinois split an Indian taco with me. Russell immediately jumped in to help paint salmon on a huge wood panel down the hill.
At first the audience was pretty sparse. There was, of course, one woman who sat on the lawn all day: an avid audience member. She was a mystic type who didn’t care what anyone thought and contentedly danced her own dance. She was vocal too and responded to the performances candidly, for all of us really. We became acquainted as fellow audience members witnessing the afternoon together; we were in fellowship.
The playground had an excellent springy whale, which flung me willy-nilly for quite some time… until someone pulled me onto the dance floor. We jived around, enjoying the music and ourselves. The mystic lady moved about all wrangly, doing her thing beside me. Then, leaning in to address my partner, she demanded, “Take your shoes off! Feel the EARTH under your feet!” while stomping her foot several times! She repeated this command, always with the stomping! The girl refused, insisting, “I do what I want! You can’t tell me what to do!” My shoes were off! I just laughed! Mystic lady turned to me and said, “You don’t need that! Find someone who will take their shoes off and feel the EARTH under their feet! You have got to feel the EARTH under your feet!”
Another attraction was chopper bikes! They had one really super small wheel attached to extremely long forks, making it most difficult to mount and ride, especially on the grassy terrain. I watched people ride them down the hill and nabbed the first one that became available when one of the kids lost interest. After several attempts on the back lawn I got the thing rolling and took off around the grounds, becoming a participant in the current of energy!
The goal that brought everyone together on that weekend was re-allocating resources to benefit all by letting the river flow freely. This would especially benefit the salmon, whose ecosystem was disrupted by dams. There was a strong Karuk Indian presence at the gathering because the Klamath River is the lifeblood of their native land. The native people bring an important perspective focused on creating a sustainable balance. Their influence was evident in the arts, traditional music and tacos.
After several musical acts, a Karuk man stood up on stage and spoke from his heart about the matters facing us all, but specifically the local community and their fight to bring down the Iron Gate Dam. He asserted that our will, be reality! His genuine enthusiasm was a crucial part of the transformative magic. He invited us to take part – every man – for it is all our land! He spoke for our posterity! It was certainly a moving speech and I was touched to see someone breaching cultural boundaries for a common purpose. All one. Come together. I felt a shift in the energy after he spoke and as the night rolled in: feelings of comfort and unity.
The music continued with a woman playing songs about rivers. The audience increased, as did their energy level! More relaxed and playful in my fig leaf skirt, I went over and sat beside Russ. He made me nervous; I had a lot of affection for him even then. I sensed that we had a similar understanding of what the day’s events meant on an energetic level, whereas others didn’t notice these subtleties. This is part of the intuitive connection that seems like it was already well formed when we met. Mystic lady was around again. We were dancing around and she turned to Russ, “Take off your shoes! Feel the EARTH under your feet!” Simple: he complied. She was elated. She turned and told me, “This one is a keeper!”
Finally, we were presented with the most striking shared visualization of the event. A symbolic school of salmon swam up in front of the stage. These were children in costume, dancing around with fish on their heads. There was one huge mother fish that was made up of about twelve kids. It was similar in style to a parade with Chinese dragons. The whole dance was narrated by a local gentleman playing the guitar on stage. His song told a story of the salmon wanting to be set free! The presentation grabbed everyone’s attention and the energy skyrocketed! The school of fish gathered their momentum swimming up and down the lawn, until they finally rammed a big PVC-framed wall of fabric that read “Iron Gate Dam!” They pushed against it repeatedly until the whole thing came crashing down! Everyone cheered them on the whole way! The audience served an important purpose by reflecting enthusiasm. We were important participants in this ceremonial dance! Woo-hoo!