Ô Saisons, ô Châteaux !

by Angeliska on November 5, 2016

Ô saisons ô châteaux, 

Quelle âme est sans défauts ?



Ô saisons, ô châteaux,

J’ai fait la magique étude

Du Bonheur, que nul n’élude.



Ô vive lui, chaque fois

Que chante son coq gaulois.



Mais ! je n’aurai plus d’envie,

Il s’est chargé de ma vie.



Ce Charme ! il prit âme et corps.

Et dispersa tous efforts.



Que comprendre à ma parole ?

Il fait qu’elle fuie et vole !



Ô saisons, ô châteaux !



Et, si le malheur m’entraîne,

Sa disgrâce m’est certaine.



Il faut que son dédain, las !

Me livre au plus prompt trépas !



- Ô Saisons, ô Châteaux !

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Well, they say in Texas that if you don’t like the weather – just wait around five minutes and it’ll change! Or was that Mark Twain about New England? Anyway, we’ve definitely adopted it as truth down here, and it just goes to show… Since my last post about it being so unseasonably damn hot and dry, a blessed cool front rolled in (finally!) and a raucous rainstorm soaked us good. The turning of seasons always feels poignant to me, and I seek to mark it, always coming to write here so as not to let it get away from me. And thus, this space has become a place where I remark upon the changing light and apologize to unknown readers for not writing more often, not posting any kind of regular updates about this and that in the way I used to. I don’t need to, in the way I once seemed to – or, I only need to sometimes. And this is one of those odd times – up late when I should be sleeping and enjoying a last night of rest in my sweet bed after hours of meticulous over packing. I fly to Morocco in the morning. Ever since Hurricane Katrina, international travel has felt dire to me. I didn’t realize it until the summer before last, when I flew to Colombia. It was the first time I’d left the country in ten years. The last time before that, I’d been a month in Serbia, Greece and Spain with my grandfather, and flew back two days before the storm hit. It didn’t occur to me until I was having a fairly severe panic attack en route to the airport to fly to Bogota, and took me a while to calm down and realize what it was all about. My body remembered, a glitch in my nervous system, telling me: “The last time I went far away like this, I came back and my life was irrevocably changed.” I was convinced on some deep level that it was the last time I would ever see my house, my dogs, my friends. Because that did happen once before. The last time.

I’ve been musing on the fact that not everyone obsesses about tying up loose ends before an international vacation. That they just excitedly get ready, and go – on a relaxing and enjoyable vacation. I’m trying to get my brain around that part, and it may catch up and hit me somewhere over the Atlantic tomorrow night that I’m about to have an enormous amount of fun, and be completely dazzled by the wonders of Marrakech and the bright stars above the Sahara. In the meantime, I’m mildly freaking out about the scores of emails I never wrote, thank you cards not sent, writing my will, kissing my dogs goodbye seventeen times (apiece), and you know – other important stuff like writing this. Why so dire? I have been reaching out to friends I haven’t talked to in a while, and feeling bad about the ones I haven’t made contact with yet. Because what if I die? What if that giant meteor everyone wants to vote for hits us and we all die? I know it’s not logical at all – that it’s my nervous system doing its weird PTSD thing, but it still seems very possible to me. I’ve been thinking about mortality a lot – in a good way, rather than in shitty morbid way (a la my teenage years). It’s part of why I jumped at the chance to go on this adventure to Morocco despite the fact that it’s financially a little terrifying for me right now. Because life is short, and what if this is my only chance to go? I don’t want to leave this earth having never seen Morocco. Not to mention that I get to go with a fantastic crew of my favorite folks, and celebrate my best friend’s birthday! What could be more amazing than that? I think the word for what I’m feeling is “anxietment”. It’s like excitement, but with anxiety added! I’m like a dog that loves to go places but feels worried about riding in the car. Kind of happy nervous panting. I’ve been reading Paul Bowles again before this trip (of course), and thinking about his wise words that I’m sure I’ve referenced here at least once or twice before. They’re so true, I don’t mind doing so again:

Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don’t know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It’s that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don’t know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
― Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

and this too:

The only thing that makes life worth living is the possibility of experiencing now and then a perfect moment. And perhaps even more than that, it’s having the ability to recall such moments in their totality, to contemplate them like jewels.
― Paul Bowles, The Spider’s House

I’ve been focusing on that more and more – staying present for those miraculously perfect moments, and realizing that my life is wonderfully full of them! I am happier and more content than I have been in years – and it’s an amazing feeling. A hard earned place to arrive at, after a lot of really deep healing work, internal metamorphosis, and growth. I had to walk through a lot of darkness, loneliness, fear and fire to get here. I know how quickly it can all change, so I seek to savor it, to stay in this place of remembering how to connect to the source of my own joy as much as possible. I learned that when you protect yourself from pain, you also protect yourself from joy. So I get to see what’s possible when I open my heart completely to both. In some ways, even if I did die tomorrow (or the next day, or the next) I like to think that I’d die happy and content with the life I’ve lived. I several books in me it would severely pain me not to have gotten written. I want to be a published author. (Though, as of this year, I am! See below…) I have a lot of love I’d still like to share. So much more I want to learn in my time here, places I want to travel to, experiences I definitely want to see and feel and know. So I plan to stay alive, for a long, long time, actually. And to stay in this place of strange and surprising happiness as much as I possibly can. It is a choice, sometimes. To be responsible for your own happiness, and responsible for your own suffering (and therefore, not responsible for anyone else’s happiness, or anyone else’s suffering!) Pain is part of life. Not negotiable. It exists for a reason. Suffering is optional. I keep trying to remember that! In the meantime, I will recall and contemplate the bright autumn light, garlands of flowers made for summer queens, morning glories gloriously tangling up fences, all the wonders of my garden, all the love that surrounds me, all the joys I can choose to honor every day. I don’t think I really understood gratitude practice until this year. Not really. But I’m starting to – and it feels so good. I have so much that I am deeply grateful for. It’s really something.

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I found this creature on the ground at Barton Springs Pool. I feel like it looks like a goblin child’s toy, dropped as it ran to hide from prying human eyes…

I'd be mad at you for chomping my brugmansia, but you're just too cute... What winged thing will you become?

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I am so honored and thrilled to have two of my poems published in this amazing Folk Horror Revival’s incredible new anthology Corpse Roads. An epic collection of spellbinding poetry, focusing on folk horror, life, death and the eeriness of the landscape by many creative talents both living and departed. 100% of sales profits from this book are charitably donated to The Wildlife Trusts.

Happiness

O seasons, O castles,

What soul is blameless?

O seasons, O castles,
I pursued the magic lore
Of Happiness, which no one escapes.

Oh long live to it, every time 

That the Gallic cock crows.

But! I shall never want again,

It has taken charge of my life.

That Charm! it took hold of soul and body, 

And dissipated every effort.

What to understand about my words? 

It makes it flee and vanish into air!

O seasons, O castles!
And, if misfortune takes me away,

Its disgrace with me will be certain.

Its contempt will take me, alas!

To the quickest death!

– O seasons, O castles!


What soul is blameless?

From THE POEMS LOOKED AT: or, NOTES
“Happiness, By Arthur Rimbaud. 1958. It is good to have Rimbaud tell us that the going after happiness is as inevitable for a person as being affected by gravity is for a solid object. The light and the heavy are in seasons and castles, time and edifices. And Rimbaud tells us happiness is a magic study, but we have to give ourselves to it. — As a cock in France crows, you can hail energy in any living being concerned with happiness. Something in us can, irritatingly to self, use self-importance against happiness; but this is a burden. Self-importance can seem to be a charm, but it scatters the energy of self and body. — Again, we must put together the non-weighing seasons and the weighing castles — though both seasons and castles have shape of a kind. — When one definitely goes away from happiness — the hour of flight — death will be yielded to. — Therefore, again, O seasons — O time as visible; and O castles — O weight as white and distant.”

From Hail, American Development (Definition Press) 
© 1968 by Eli Siegel

Blue flowers are my favorite - so rare and magical.

Heavenly blue morning glories!

And here’s another little poem fragment I found somewhere that wants to be here too:

The Crypts
Here
in this church
put away
the girls sleep
lemon trees
the boys sleep
cypruses
the old men sleep
torn up by the roots
the women sleep
splintered doors
the children sleep
dried apples

Greek, anonymous, from “Selected Translations.”

Ciao for now, y’all. Thank you for reading.

Texas Holy Water

by Angeliska on November 3, 2016

Is it November, or is it still August? It’s hard to tell honestly – hard to say that Fall has come here, because the earth is cracked and the leaves are crisped, but not with winter’s chill. Sweat still trickles down my backbone, bristles my brow, taints my bangs into wet swirls pasted to my forehead. Our recent local Halloween parade was a sweltering procession in damp costumes, flags and banners hanging limply as we wound our way through dark streets and overgrown alleyways. No hint of crisp in the air, no wind, no shiver – except for the internal shudder that we’re setting new and terrible records for the hottest days in recorded memory. For years, the summer doldrums would often keep me from writing, being unwilling to sit with a hot and whirring computer perched on my lap. I would always rather be doing something else in summer, getting outside, swimming or running around with my dogs. Autumn feels like the perfect time to curl up cozy with a cup of tea and write. So, for many years in a row, I would find myself sharing something I had started writing in the hottest days of summer, but never got around to posting until fall. I would warranting this oversight with the fact that it still in fact, felt like summer. I remember writing that in September, maybe a couple times in October. But never in November – until now. It’s hot, y’all. Hot enough that I want to still go jump in the springs, dive in the river. It feels wrong, and weird, and maybe like it’s our new normal. We had such a rainy spring and summer, and were blessed with sweet water in the creeks (though many were cursed here in Texas with flooding and downed trees). I think about water all the time – my heart’s element, blessed restorer, healer, mother essence. It is such a sacred substance.

Cypress magic at Pedernales Falls.

Some nights I lay awake and can’t sleep, thinking about the countless factories churning out countless plastic doodads to be sold in countless stores only to then be discarded and tossed aside to join the flood of garbage that clogs our waterways, our oceans, the bellies of our sea animal friends. How can I even can them my friends, when I do so little to protect them? When I sip my iced coffee from a disposable straw, out of a plastic cup, purchase my countless seemingly needful items encased in cellophane wrappers. It is so hard to effect real, radical change as one person, and even then – what? What then? Some days it feels too late. I started writing this as a happy piece – about the blessing of clear, clean water we enjoy in nature here in Austin. I’ve been thinking about how much we take it for granted, assume it will always be there. Lately, I’ve been thinking about this when I shower or take a bath – what a miracle it is to have hot water to wash in, clean water to drink, water to flush the toilet, to wash my dirty clothes. What luxury we live in, and how little we realize it.

Every day, my news feed (on social media) is rife with stories and videos about the water protectors protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. I listen to the news nearly every day, and so rarely hear any stories on what is happening there. Mainstream media isn’t taking much action to report the violence being committed against peaceful protestors who are putting their bodies on the line to protect this precious resource that we all require for our survival. It is time to have awareness about out world, and the ways it is irrevocably changing. It is time to realize that mere awareness is not enough. How will you contribute to making changes for the better, to fighting the good fight, to walking a path that honors the life-blood of the Earth? How will I?

This message came to my inbox while I was writing this, from one of our beloved local community groups here in Austin. Here’s one very easy way to offer your assistance:

Austin Stands With Standing Rock

As you all know by now, the world is watching the events unfold at the Standing Rock camp in South Dakota. This past weekend, friends of this community were arrested for doing their part in protecting the water. Cars were impounded, lives are placed on hold.

The work the native peoples and their supporters are doing in opposition to this pipeline is not just about protecting their families and their water, they are standing up for all of us, for our water and in defense of our Mother Earth. They are bravely standing strong in the face of armed resistance, fast approaching inclement weather and the general hardships of maintaining camp out in the open, round the clock.

Bob is headed up this week to help where he can. We are asking you, the community, to contribute any financial support that you can, along with your prayers, in this time of need. Any funds that you may have to share will go a long way and will be deeply appreciated.

The supply drives have been a huge success (thank you!) and now, one of the best ways to help is to directly support those on the front lines by donating funds to post bail which is averaging over $1500 per person, as well as impounded vehicle fees and upcoming legal fees.

Please send any donations that you can contribute to the following PayPal address:

austin4standingrock@icloud.com

Bob will take the donations up with him and help those arrested this past weekend. Please help where you can… Even small contributions from everyone could really add up. If you do not have a PayPal account or would like to support another way, please respond to this message.

Thank you for your support, prayers & solidarity.

- Sanctuary Council”

My favorite summer moments have been spent in the company of these two magical beings, down by the water. At least once a week, we try to get our butts down to the greenbelt to savor the sacred springs! It's heaven. (Just don't dump your purse in it, like
My favorite summer moments were spent in the company of these two magical beings (my dear friend Allyson, and her dog Neville) down by the water. At least once a week, we try to get our butts down to the greenbelt to savor the sacred springs! It’s heaven.

So yes. I wrote this months ago, but want to share now, even though it feels odd to. It feels like a good time to acknowledge the magic and beauty of what we have – so that we might be even more inspired to advocate for it.

When August finally comes in Texas, it feels like hitting the final stretch of a marathon – we’re exhausted but determined, almost totally spent, but somehow with a gritting of teeth we push on, knowing that the end is in sight. If we can just make it through August, school will start and the populations of students and teachers start buzzing as they fill the hives again with their studious industry. September will arrive eventually and usually not really be any cooler, but there’s a sense of hope in the air, instead of the blatant desperation rising up from the baked earth, the pitiful trod upon greenery crisping brown at the edges, the trees aching for rain.

We had a very rainy spring here, so the greenbelt has had plentiful water nearly all summer. Last week, when a surprise thunderstorm or two rolled through, the whole city sighed with relief. Earlier that day, I had embraced my ailing and much beloved lacebark elm, asking it silently, “What do you need? What will make you better?” The answer came quickly, a ragged sigh that echoed in my bones: WATER! Please, please, water. I looked up at the bright blue sky through its browning leaves and tattered branches and wished hard. Two hours later, fat drops pelted my grateful face – even though no storms had been predicted hours before. Weather witch’s water wishes, and likely not just mine.

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I started waking up earlier this summer, trying to shift from my usual nocturnal ways because it’s cooler in the mornings, and you can get down to the water before everyone else and their dogs and their kids clutter the air with barking and laughter. I don’t mind them really, but one of my dogs (not mentioning any names, MOON) likes to bark even more raucously at other dogs and children, and it can be stressful. We try to go about once a week, if not more – but last week, almost no one was there. The water had receded and was murkier than it had been all summer. Fat dragonflies skated over the slow ripples, while huge black turkey buzzards soared over the bluffs. A heavy knotted rope hung listlessly from an oak branch, bereft of the elated bodies, full of bravado, that normally swung from it into the green deep.

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Moon learned to swim recently, something I wasn’t sure she’d ever be capable of, having only three legs. She’s a very determined girl, though – and she’d follow me anywhere. At the beginning of the summer, she just barked frantically when I swam more than a few feet away from her. Grrizelda isn’t a huge fan of swimming, but is also the most loyal of beasts, and so will paddle out to me with a concerned expression on her seal-like face pushing out of the water, making little squeaks and whimpers, her black clawed paws scrabbling at me. I took Moon out of the shallows one day, with my arms supporting her belly, guiding and gliding her through the deeper water – the way you teach a little kid to swim. She seemed confused and freaked out, so I didn’t push her too much – but the next time we went to the river, she surprised me by swimming right past and making out for the far shore. I had to swim after and spin her around – but she did great. Only one front leg to paddle with, but the kid’s a natural. Talk about determined.

Moon can swim! I'm so proud of my little three-legged doggie for taking to the water like a true mermaid this year. I wasn't sure she would ever be able to really manage it, but recently she surprised and delighted me by learning to dog paddle with only o
Look at her go! I’m so proud of my little three-legged doggie for taking to the water like a true mermaid this year. I wasn’t sure she would ever be able to really manage it, but she has truly surprised and delighted me by learning to dog paddle!

Happy birthday to my darling Fiona! This woman teaches me so much about joy and freedom every day. I'm so lucky to have her as a friend and sister!
My sweet friend Fiona and our pups glorying in the springs.

First swim of the summer (crazy...
Barton Springs bliss.

When the greenbelt’s full of water, which it thankfully has been all summer, I wonder why anyone complains about summer in Texas. Every time I’ve gone down there and jumped in, I’ve just been in awe of how beautiful it is, how lovely the cool currents feel on my legs, how gorgeous the sycamore leaves fluttering against the sky and the silvery rapids flowing over the rocks are. It’s free, and there are so many different points on the trails you can get to, so even when it feels crowded, there’s always enough water, always enough shade and sky for everyone to enjoy. I meet people all the time who never, ever venture down into that glory, and I remember being one of those people. What a fool I was! Even when the greenbelt dries up, there’s still Barton Springs – which feels like heaven on earth on a blazing day. It’s paradise there, truly – 68 degrees year round and my favorite shade of nearly black teal at its deepest point. I spend plenty of time during the hottest parts of the day hunkered down in my dim living room, ceiling fan spinning overhead, and the air conditioning blasting. But the water calls to me, beckons me to dip and swirl like a mermaid, cooling down the white hot core of me, so that even a heavy summer night with no breeze feels tolerable. The only way to survive the hot weather down here is to get in the water, as often as you can. People complain of Austin changing (and I used to be one of those people, constantly and vociferously – but that’s really another story), but I say that as long as there’s water in the springs, grackles in the pecan trees, and fireflies in the springtime, I’ll know I’m home. What would happen if that changed, too? Our planet is changing. Surely you feel it? How will we continue to see those changes manifest? How long, really, will we all be able to continue this way? I wonder every day. I want to do more than wonder.

August

No wind, no bird. The river flames like brass.
On either side, smitten as with a spell
Of silence, brood the fields. In the deep grass,
Edging the dusty roads, lie as they fell
Handfuls of shriveled leaves from tree and bush.
But ’long the orchard fence and at the gate,
Thrusting their saffron torches through the hush,
Wild lilies blaze, and bees hum soon and late.
Rust-colored the tall straggling briar, not one
Rose left. The spider sets its loom up there
Close to the roots, and spins out in the sun
A silken web from twig to twig. The air
Is full of hot rank scents. Upon the hill
Drifts the noon’s single cloud, white, glaring, still.

– Lizette Woodworth Reese, 1887

Back home, soaking up the water magic at Bull Creek today...

Frog + Toad in August Storms

by Angeliska on August 29, 2016

I’ve discovered a strange pattern recently – a restlessness in my spirit that seems to hit me every year around this time, and keeps me from sleep. Some unseen goblin has been sitting on my chest like the one in Fuseli’s painting The Nightmare, although instead of swooning dead away with fright, I am just a tight little ball of nerves, anxiously tossing and turning beneath my thin summer blanket. I normally don’t suffer from insomnia, or don’t notice if I do usually – being habitually such a night owl and giving myself the luxury of staying up most nights as long as I like, writing, reading, puttering or watching movies. When I finally get tired, I go to bed – even if that happens to be 3 or 4am. It used to be even later, when I was really hammering away on something. The wee hours are sacred time, when the rest of the world is fast asleep, and no one is expecting anything of you. But there are times when I’d like to just fall asleep at a normal, reasonable hour, and wake up when the day still feels new – and it’s on those nights lately that my mind races through every regret, every letter and email unanswered (lord, so many!), each and every instance where I meant to be a better person, a better friend, but then disappointed myself, and others. What is it that keeps me up? I can’t quite put my finger on it, because overall right now, I feel very content and for the most part, quite happy. Is it related to my mother’s August death, or Hurricane Katrina, or the demise of my last long-term relationship – all of which gut punched me in August, during the dog days of Southern summer. It must be some elusive muscle memory, an old story only my body remembers, my nervous system engaging back into instinctive flight or fight. It’s something I can’t quite put my finger on, but realizing that it hits me every year is almost a comfort – because maybe next time round, I could actually prepare for it. Stock up on Epsom salt and kava kava, or book more massages. I have to do something, because the cortisol that floods my body makes my limbs contort with stored up tension and ache deep in my joints. Maybe it’s all this rain we’ve been having, the barometric pressure shifts, or the dampness and mold in the air. The no-name storm that squatted malevolently over Louisiana what felt like an eternity finally moved west, and has been doggedly soaking our cracked and crispy Texas soil. We’ve needed it, so I can’t complain, and I am delighted to hear the little tree frogs, golden-eyed peepers that talk to each other quietly all night long. Big chubby-bellied toads hop around the yard, splaying their fat fingers over hundreds of tiny grey mushrooms with moist, tattered caps that will vanish as mysteriously as they appeared, once the rain blows over.

I buried these sweet babies in the roots of my favorite rose bush, so that they might bloom again - in a different form. Every night, their brothers and sisters serenade me in a chorus of gentle peeps, teaching me their language in my sleep.
I buried these sweet babies in the roots of my favorite rose bush, so that they might bloom again – in a different form. Every night, their brothers and sisters serenade me in a chorus of gentle peeps, teaching me their language in my sleep.

These days and days of rain were a boon to us, and a bane back east. I’ve written about this before – the mixed up feelings I have when August storms curse the wetlands and coast but bless our parched earth. Hurricane season means we might finally get a blast of rain, but a weakened system, not capable usually of wreaking quite so much havoc. I get hypervigilant around this time of year, keeping an eye on the weather, on the tropical depressions and the threat of whirling winds. Even without a hurricanes in the Gulf (yet, and heavens forfend) this year, Louisiana has been nearly drowned by these persistent rains. They’re saying this is the worst disaster since Hurricane Sandy, and yet I can’t help it – I perceive something a little different in people’s responses and reactions to this kind of shitstorm happening in the deep south. There’s a shrug of the shoulder, a kind of blind eye, a certain diffidence in the body language that I wish I could stop interpreting as, “Well, they do live down there in the swamps anyway…Don’t they know any better?” Maybe I’m wrong about that. I know a lot of people care. But it’s weird to see what people care about, or what their social media feeds tell me they care about, anyway. I get it, it’s not a totally valid source of information to weigh judgment against – and it’s less about judging and more about just inputting the information I come across, and determining what exactly to do with it. I mean. We’re talking about 60,000 homes and businesses. More than two feet of rainfall in three days. One hundred thousand people evacuated. It’s a helluva thing. And it’s here, at home. We can’t just shake our heads when whole towns are underwater. Of course, we’re going to see more and more of this. Much more. It’s easy to become inured to it, to all of it – all the terror, disaster, suffering going down in the world… But if you’ve lived it once before, you can’t just ignore. I can feel the fear and sadness rising up through the roots, blowing through the pines. I want to tell them I’m sorry. So sorry about everything that was lost, everyone that drowned. I hope they find a way to make it right again. It takes some time. And some things never come back together. It’s never the same, after. I know that now.

The recent deluge we experienced for days on end down here in Texas was much needed, but it made me melancholy. I have been feeling extra sensitive, soft underbelly exposed - as vulnerable as these poor sweet tree-frogs I found drowned in the rainwater fi

The recent deluge we experienced for days on end down here in Texas was much needed, but it made me melancholy. I have been feeling extra sensitive, soft underbelly exposed – as vulnerable as these poor sweet tree-frogs I found drowned in the rainwater filled cat food bowls early one morning after a night of storming. It seems strange that an amphibian could drown, but apparently, they can. I mourned these two meeting their fate in this way. It’s rare that I get to see these guys – usually they’re hiding out in dark nooks and crannies around my porches. I love eavesdropping on their conversations (I’m listening to them as I write this). I wonder what they’re saying to each other.

Frog totem brings cleansing. I’ve always known I carry this medicine, even though I resisted it when I was younger. I remember feeling like the ugly Frog Princess around all my swanlike girlfriends. Pale with big eyes and easily hurt feelings, so thin skinned and affected by toxic energy in ways I didn’t even understand at the time. I would hunker down on my little lily pad of self-pity, not realizing what gifts I had. Taking it all so much for granted – the way young folks do. I feel so grateful for my years on this year, and what some maturity has brought me, and taught me. For instance – how lucky I am to have Frog medicine! They leap between worlds, and can cleanse negativity and bad spirits. I keep a little rose quartz frog with me when I read tarot for people, and I know she helps me in my work. Also: I don’t know why I ever thought frogs were ugly. I don’t know how I ever thought I was. We’re not – not at all.

Frog sings the songs that bring the rain and make the road dirt more bearable.
Frog medicine is akin to water energy, and the South on the medicine wheel. Frog
teaches us to honor our tears, for they cleanse the soul. All water rites belong to Frog,
including all initiations by water.

From Medicine Cards, by Jamie Sams, and David Carson.

Seriously, though - today was a really freaky day. Remember when I found this mummified toad trapped by the star? Well, today, one of my clients noticed that a big fat toad had got himself stuck in that tiny hole in the middle! It's about the size of a qu
I found a strange thing, a few years back – this mummified toad trapped by a metal star in my yard that I use to cover over a pothole. It was a chilling discovery – imagining this creature stuck and not able to get out… I’ve been thinking about all the crazy water rescues I’ve been seeing videos of – people and animals overtaken by rising floodwaters. I think about the people trapped in their attics in New Orleans, 11 years ago. Trying to hold on, hoping someone would come to the rescue. Sometimes you get saved. Sometimes you don’t. About a year after I found the toad mummy, another toad got trapped in the dastardly star. I know, I should probably just fill that hole in to avoid more toad mishaps, right? But this huge fat toad was stuck in the circle in the center of the star – half in, half out. That circle is about the circumference of a quarter. It was just the damnedest thing. I didn’t know if I should try to pull him out by the legs, or push him on through, but eventually I got him out! A smaller toad was waiting worriedly close by, and I could almost hear her voice talking to her husband, “Murray, I told you you were too fat to go through that hole! But did you listen? Of course not. You gotta lay off those slugs, Murray!”

Poor mister toad.
Poor mister toad. I was grateful to be able to save the one I found, if not his brother. Now I always watch out for them.

Glorious golden thunderstormy afternoon. This Texas summer is the best ever.
A glorious golden thunderstormy afternoon. Everything sparkles and flashes bronze in the setting sun.

toadbucket
I found this big dude chillin’ in my watering can recently and thought maybe he was stuck. So I put him in the garden. Today, he’s back in the can. Sorry, toad friend! The watering can is clearly Barton Springs for toads.

Evening walk after the storm. All is quiet, painted dripping rose gold. The hush of water soaking the earth, and fireflies winking bright into the night air.
Evening walk after the storm. All is quiet, painted dripping rose gold. The hush of water soaking the earth, and fireflies winking bright into the night air. I know how lucky I am. I count my blessings. The roof over my head. The high ground I live on. All my books out of boxes and up on shelves for the first time since Katrina. I’m home, and I’m safe, and it’s beautiful. I’ve been working really, really hard to make it that way. To convince my nervous system that it’s as okay as the rest of me is. It’s still hard, eleven years later. My lucky number. I’m doing the work. It helps. But the storms keep on coming, and it hurts me to see the water rising, see people losing everything. I remember.

This is from my old friend Desier Galjour in New Orleans – she’s been boots on the ground doing flood relief down there, and I think what she says here is so, so important.

Thoughts and observations after 2 weeks of helping folks that got flooded out. Going through Katrina has taught me how to deal with events such as these on a purely triage mode mindset. I am able to pinpoint where immediate help is needed, starting from day one helping with rescue efforts. Most people are in a panic and it’s up to us to stay calm and get the job done. Russel Honore has been quite an example, for me since Katrina, on how to do this. Thank you sir. Once folks get to a dry spot the next step is to make sure they are fed, dry, and can have a cot to sleep on. Home base so to speak. The animals that are in need of rescue are next. We got flooded in areas that were filled with livestock, horses, chickens, etc. Not an easy task to get them to dry land and fed. Not to mention most people who donate chow don’t have a feed store in their neighborhood so getting specific feed for all animals is critical. Folks came in from other states, towing their boats, to help rescue folks who were still in floodwaters. Thanks go out to them and I MUST say that local Law Enforcement will continue to deal with flooding and when THEY want some kind of permitting process, so be it. This means that the regular guy from that particular town has a decal on his boat, a laminated card, that states he is prepared and familiar with safety. We need to have this. Why? Because when you get a guy from Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, into a town he has never seen dry, much less flooded, we know a local will be able to partner up with him to continue rescuing folks. The LAST thing we need is a bunch of guys who head into an area they are completely unfamiliar with and now we have to rescue THEM. This IS a safety issue, NOT a money making venture. This is not the first, nor will it be the last, time we have had to deal with being told to stand down. So here we are now getting food and cleaning supplies to as many people as we can. We haven’t stopped. Folks are sleeping in hot tents. Animals are still pouring into shelters, vets, etc. I know this can be tiring to read but it can be exhausting to live through. We have a long way to go and I will continue to collect donations for folks who are so hard headed you have to practically hit them over the head with a bucket of cleaning supplies. I will continue to monitor situations and report to whomever is in charge or can help. I will continue to fight hard for those who are in shock and can’t speak for themselves. Dana DiPerna has been tireless and we are still getting supplies to folks. dgaljour@gmail.com is my Paypal. Second Harvest Food Bank is also awesome if you don’t feel comfortable with donating to a Paypal account. We are in the very beginning stages of this event. Don’t stop paying attention now, please. Thank all y’all.

and from my friends Jami Girouard and Jay Pennington:

If you are an able bodied person within the greater New Orleans area and your schedule permits, please try and make it over to an area affected by flooding to help with the gutting process. A big group of us went this Saturday, and it took about 14 of us total to gut an entire 3 bedroom house in a day :: There’s 50,000 of them that need to be gutted. There’s houses where only 2 people are working on them. If it took 14 of us to gut an entire house in a day can you imagine how long it will take 2 people to do that work, especially elderly people or people that aren’t able bodied? It’s exhausting work but our fellow Louisianans need us right now and if you went through Katrina you know how daunting that reality is. Even if you have limited mobility or can’t lift, there’s stuff to sort through and support to give. It’s really devastating over there y’all.

If you can’t be there physically in person to help, (and aren’t able to make it to my Fais-Do-Do Fundraiser on Wednesday!) but still want to offer assistance, please consider donating to these reputable organizations that are doing great work. Please do not donate to Red Cross. Thank you.

SECOND HARVEST

TOGETHER BATON ROUGE

We're putting together a little backyard fundraiser to get some money and donations together for the folks affected by the terrible floods in Louisiana. It will take place on Monday evening, August 29th, which is also the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Kat
This mural is from Rayne, Louisiana – Frog Capital of the World! It looks like they’ve taken a fair amount of flooding in all this. I’ve always wanted to go there, for their Frog Festival (though I would never eat frog legs – the horror!) I just wanna hear some good Cajun music and maybe watch some frog races!

We’re putting together a little backyard Fais-do-do Fundraiser to get some money and donations together for the folks affected by the terrible floods in Louisiana. It will take place on Monday evening, August 29th, which is also the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. After losing my home in the storm, I want to honor the day, the dead, and all those who were affected by rallying support for people who need it badly right now. I’m inspired by all the folks stepping up to serve in the “Cajun Navy” – helping out their neighbors because that’s just what you do! So we’re gonna get some money and cleaning supplies and other needed goods and send it to Louisiana! Let’s sing and dance and be together. It felt so good to gather last year, for the full moon. Very healing. We’re keeping a close eye on the weather – we may have to postpone/reschedule if it thunderstorms… I can’t fit that many people in my living room! So please do some weather magic for us, eh? The irony of a flood relief benefit getting rained out is just too much! There’s a 60% chance right now. If we postpone it, we’re thinking this Wednesday, August 31st. Oh, weather gods! Please cooperate with us. With everybody.

(Update: I think we’re going to have to postpone it – I just can’t handle the potential stress of everyone getting dumped on after working so hard to set everything up. So Wednesday it is. I am finding myself compulsively refreshing my weather app, checking radar, monitoring the tropical depressions as they move into the Gulf. This is what I do around this time of year. Watch and worry. So tonight, we’ll be here at home, if anyone wants to drop off donations. The house is ready, everything is prepared. I will light the candles for the dead, and play New Orleans music and it will feel like a Hurricane Party maybe, except I never celebrated those things. I hunkered down in terror or got the hell out. But I’m safe now. I’m going to keep finding ways of showing myself that until all of me believes that it’s true.)

Very good advice on how practice self-care when writing about difficult subject matter from Bhanu Kapil:

1. In what sense is creative writing a form of cultural and institutional revenge?
2. Take pristine care of your blood.
3. Every day, orient to joy and pleasure.  How?
4. Scrub your arms up to the elbow with salt then rinse them in cold water.
5. Change your clothes and shower when you get home, even if you are tired.
6. Let nettle and oatstraw steep in a mason jar and drink the resulting infusion.
7. Chelate long-held, chronic trauma, anxiety and fear.  It’s time.*  I love you.  *How?
8. Remove yourself from situations that cause you distress.  How?
9. Spend time with your beloveds. Who are your beloveds?
10. Drink hot water in the morning.
11. Write anyway.
12. Write until you reach the edge of something, whether it’s the world, the community you live in, or your skin.

I’m listening to Bessie Smith’s big full-bellied blues as I write this, and praying for Louisiana – for the living and the lost, the waters and the earth. Even though Bessie’s singing about missing Mississippi, I think I know that feeling.

Muddy Water (A Mississippi Moan)

Dixie moonlight, Swanee shore
Headed homebound just once more
To my Mississippi delta home
Southland has that grand garden spot
Although you believe or not
I hear those breeze a-whispering:
“Come on back to me”
Muddy water ’round my feet
Muddy water in the street
Just God don’t shelter
Down on the delta
Muddy water in my shoes
Reeling and rocking to them lowdown blues
They live in ease and comfort down there
I do declare
Been away a year today
To wander and roam
I don’t care it’s muddy there
But see it is my home
Got my toes turned Dixie way
‘Round the delta let me lay
My heart cries out for muddy water

If you’ve still got it in you, here’s some collected writings
about my experiences with Hurricane Katrina,
in reverse chronological order. Dig in:

Reverse Phoenix – Hurricane Katrina, 10 Years Later

6 YEARS ON – FRAGMENTS + WET FEATHERS

Storms – 5 Years

Hurricane Katrina: Four Years Later

New Orleans in August

One Year

Lower Ninth Aftermath

MARDI GRAS APRÈS L’ORAGE

AFTERMATH: REVELATIONS

JUST WHEN YOU THINK IT CAN’T GET ANY WORSE

Calamity

The Triumph of Death

What can you do?

Katrina

30 YEARS – SEIZURES

by Angeliska on August 8, 2016

Today marks thirty years since the day my mother died. Nearly half a lifetime, it seems – and so much of my life that I’ve had to live without her. I have spent most of those years hiding. Body hunched and curled over to shield the shameful wound of my unbearable, unspeakable grief. It lives at the core of me, every day. Everything I lost when I lost my mom. The door where I came in, that source of unconditional love and support, all her magic and wisdom and essential Maggie-ness, which I can only experience through the stories and memories of the people who knew and loved her, and through the precious objects she left me. Her absence has shaped my existence in countless ways. I tried to be tough and stoic for so long, even as a very small (and very scared) child. I didn’t cry, I didn’t grieve, I didn’t let on that there was anything wrong – even though everything was. When I was forced to admit to someone who didn’t already know that my mom had died, they would say, “Oh, I’m sorry!” and look very uncomfortable, and I would say “It’s okay.” But it’s not. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now. It will never, never, ever be okay that my mother died and left me to have to figure out how to survive without her. I’m tired of pretending, tired of lessening the horror of my loss to make other people more comfortable. It is a raw place in me like the scar left when a tree loses a big branch, an essential piece of itself, necessary to uphold the structure. Children need their parents. For survival, for healthy growth and development, and really for everything. Those who have lost one or both to death or abandonment may walk with their chins up and their upper lips stiff, but they suffer every single day without the love and support of those people who should have been there to raise them. And they hide – from a society that has forgotten our rituals for grieving and honoring the dead, and from themselves, because reckoning with the enormity of that loss can be truly terrifying. This is the work that I have been doing. Learning to stop hiding from myself, and from the world. Step by step, year after year, I make slow progress. I have learned to cry, in front of other people especially, which is so hard. I have learned to let myself be vulnerable, to ask for help, and to seek it myself. I work on processing the deep traumas the trainwreck of my childhood inflicted on me, with therapists and healers who understand how to treat trauma in the body, in the nervous system, where it lives. And I write. I write to know myself, to remember my memories, and to feel things I had for so long been afraid to feel. I wrote this piece, or began the process of writing it, two years ago in a writing workshop with my hero, Lynda Barry. I could barely get through reading it aloud to the class because I was sobbing so hard. I still can’t make it through without crying, and that’s okay. I share it here for anyone who is willing to bear witness. I have learned that grief must be witnessed and shared to be fully processed, so I thank you in advance for reading, and for your willingness to be a part of this process for me.

Sacred Memento of a beloved mother. 18k mourning locket - early 19th century, French. One of the best I've ever seen.
Sacred Memento of a beloved mother.

Seizures

I am seven years old, chasing madcap after my cousin Luke, who is ten. We are tearing through my grandparent’s tiny country cottage out in the Hill Country, where my family has lived for generations: a ghost town near Llano called Lone Grove. I don’t remember why I’m running after him like a crazy wild thing, but I’m determined to catch up, to escape the close confines of the little house with its heavy smell of burnt bacon, dust, and old people. Maybe we’re racing out to the ditch to go race dirt-bikes, me on the back clutching my cousin’s skinny ribcage tight. Though perched precariously, I want to imagine myself both as tough and romantic: like Nicole Kidman glaring cooly over Tom Cruise’s shoulder in the the Top Gun poster that hangs on my cousin’s closet door at home. It’s much less glamourous when we limp back down to the house later, our kneecaps skinned fresh into what will later become one big scab. For now though, we are exuberant – full of sweet tea with six spoons of sugar mixed in, desperate for some kind of life and action in this place where all the adults whisper in low worried voices and tell us to keep it down. I rush out onto the porch, Luke’s hair in a long rat tail just out reach of my grasp – the screen door banging behind me with a shotgun crack. I don’t know how many times we kids have all been hollered at not to do that very thing, but this time it’s him, who whirls on me with hazel eyes flashing. “Don’t you let that damn door slam when your mom’s in there having seizures! Don’t you have any respect?”

I don’t know exactly what a seizure is, but it sounds bad, the way we hear the grown-ups talking. I think of the word seized, seize the day, and I think it must mean: grabbed, taken, stolen. The cancer is taking my mom away, shaking her body like a rag doll in the mouth of a wild dog until there’s no life left in her. I stand on the front porch, shaking, staring blind at the magic rock embedded in the side of the door frame. It’s hot, hot in late July and a few minutes ago I was dripping with sweat but now I’m cold, cold. This stone cottage was built for my great-grandmother to live in, back in the thirties. Someone took the time to make sure that the very best little rocks were set right where you could see them, going in and out – the smooth edge of the speckled polished granite I always touched for luck, and my favorite: a piece of smoky quartz with a tiny phantom rainbow hovering at its core. How did those colors get in there, I’d always wondered? They seemed suspended somehow, like the blue glow on the tip of a match-head or a patch of iridescent oil skating over a puddle. My finger strokes at it, trying to make it move, but it doesn’t budge. I can’t go in or out now. The red number of my cousin’s soccer shirt is receding down the driveway, hazed and wavy in the heat. His shoulders are hunched up high like his body hurts, and I want to run after him but I’m stuck here. I want to say sorry but I don’t know who to, and I have the sense that if I try, it will knock something loose in me and Luke and all the grown-ups that will never be able to be put back together. No one is allowed to cry here, or we will all drown. It hasn’t rained in weeks and weeks.

I can’t apologize, and if I go back inside, I might get yelled at more, or worse – just recede into the murk of concerned murmuring like another shadow, get lost in the sickroom hush. There’s nothing to do in there but make myself very small, hunch up in the corners of the dim living room with a old National Geographic from before I was born. On the other side of the front door hangs one of my mother’s watercolor paintings: this one of a roadrunner with a dead lizard hanging half out of his mouth, pausing mid-dash. One the other side of that wall hangs a picture of a horse torn from one of my coloring books. With my black crayon I made the horse regal, a Black Beauty stallion with a starry white blaze, and emerald green eyes. A gift to my mother, to try and cheer her – to show her that I care. I do. I don’t know how else to say so except staying quiet and out of the way, coloring pictures, maybe being an artist, like her. The horse stares down its long nose at the wan figure in the hospital bed – but her eyes are very rarely open to see it. I had worked hard on making sure it was colored in as perfectly as possible, no straying from the lines, no messiness. I knew, as an artist, it would matter to her that I could do a good job, take care with making it just right. After someone tall tacked my picture up in her room, I worried about it. I had learned recently that black was the color of death. What if my black horse seemed like some kind of bad omen, or served as a dark reminder of what was coming? It felt like it was coming fast, the way Texas thunderstorms come up on you suddenly. One minute the sun is shining too bright – and then the air changes. The heady odor of tin is sharp and metallic in your nose – making you look up to see those bruised-looking storm-clouds pulsing on the horizon. Everything speeds up, like a freight-train rushing towards us down the track. My cousin Luke was obsessed with locomotives when he was younger, and he had these model sets where you could move the position of the tracks to your pleasure. The train could go over the bridge and into town, or it could careen off the edge of the kitchen table if you directed it that way – nothing was inevitable. This is not like that, some part of me knows. I don’t know how to shift the path, swerve the course of this juggernaut that screams towards my mother’s body tied to tracks, wrapped in white bedsheets. I am too little. A few days before, I was pushing her, grown so thin and frail in her wheelchair over the gouged out tire tracks on the dirt road. We go halfway down, to where the crepe myrtles are blazing vibrant fuchsia, so pink it sears the eye. I try to make encouragingly poetic and mature comments about the beauty of the blooms, but she is too tired to respond with more than a breathy whisper. I don’t know it yet, but this is the last time she will leave her bed and see the world beyond the robin’s egg blue room where her life is folding in on itself. This is the last time chance I will ever have, to talk with her, about anything before it all collapses. I want so much to say the right thing: find the perfect, magic words that will make her smile, paint the orange freckles back on her face where they’ve faded grey. Change the direction of the train tracks. Banish the black horse from high up on the wall. Unslam that damn door.

Me and my mama.
Margaret “Maggie” Merrill Cook Polacheck
December 31, 1947 – August 8th, 1986

And, if you’d like to read more about this journey, here you go:

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WILD BLUE YONDER

NO ROOM IN MY HEART FOR THE BLUES

FAMILY VACATION – HANK WILLIAMS’ GRAVE

STAR-CROSSED TROUBADOURS

Foxes in the Rain

Triumvirate Lemniscate

Gustav + Mama – August 8th

UP FROM THE DEPTHS – New Moon in Pisces Eclipse

by Angeliska on March 9, 2016

Moonlit Dreams by Gabriel Ferrier
Moonlit Dreams, by Gabriel Ferrier

The new moon in Pisces eclipse is inviting us to plunge into the depths, a voluptuous mermaid or wizened sea-hag who beckons us with long green fingers into her cold and wet embrace. Watch with round and wondering eyes the silver scythe of a moon setting on the horizon, that light coming down low – sinking slowly into the water. A fingernail paring belonging to a maiden goddess, glowing like an ancient opal. The reflection of your own face so familiar, wavering on the liquid surface. What shipwrecks lie beneath? Long kept secrets are being revealed. We are being given the opportunity to contemplate the deeper mysteries, to hold our breath and dive down to the ocean floor, hunting the pearls of wisdom until morning.

01_Birth_Of_The_Pearl
Birth Of The Pearl, by Edmund Dulac

Pisces is my rising sign, and usually the first thing people guess when they’re trying to figure out what I am in the zodiac. The eyes give it away, probably. One astrological interpretation of my chart described me thusly:
Generally, you have inclinations and tendencies for the following:
professions dealing with occult matter or mediumships, religion,
seafaring, acting, psychometry, clairvoyance, painting,
poetry, mysticism, and espionage.

I’d say that sounds about right!

queen-of-cups
from The Symbolist Tarot (A project I sincerely wish had come to fruition!)

I’ve been thinking about the Queen of Cups with this moon, and what she has taught me about self-care, and the dedication necessary to re-route the urge to help and heal every other broken baby bird in our lives when it is often ourselves most direly in need of healing. It’s easy to become a martyr from this place of constantly pouring out, without ever taking the necessary time and space to replenish. Compassion must begin with the self: because there are no truly selfless acts. The gifts you share with others must be offered freely, because it is truly your pleasure to do so. The best way to prepare for that work is to know how to give to yourself, and how to graciously receive the kindness and self-compassion that you would selflessly offer someone else. The Queen of the Waters teaches us how to refill our own cups from the bottomless well of the spirit, and to drink deeply – refreshing the places where our spirits have grown frayed and withered. Take the time to sit alone, to reflect, be still and quiet as a calm tidepool. What would be most nurturing for your soul right now? Perhaps it’s taking the time to write by hand in your journal every day, to converse with yourself in a friendly way – to transcribe and meditate on the dreams that come through in sleeping time, when the subconscious mind wakes up and wanders through other worlds. This is a powerful time to be creative – to dance, draw, dream and let the hidden messages from our subconscious psyches drift to the surface. Take long baths, anoint your skin with nourishing oils, or maybe receive a massage, some healing touch. Watsu is a gentle form of relaxing bodywork that takes place in a pool of water. Spending some time swishing around in a salt water float tank can be incredibly restorative, and becoming more and more easily available. Go swimming, in fresh water from the springs, if you can. Spend time nurturing friendships that feel reciprocal and supportive. If you’re ready to do some serious emotional healing, it might be time to find that skilled therapist or healer who really gets you, (or who at least might be smarter than you) – ideally someone who practices a modality that is effective in releasing ingrained old patterns or trauma that you’re ready release. It helps to drink lots of water – always, but especially when doing deep emotional clearing work. Ingesting and immersing in good water helps reconnect us back to the source, the primeval headwaters from which everything originates.

 8O
Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom, by Ilya Yefimovich Repin

This spring new moon is beckoning us towards a powerful time of renewal: of coming back into the body, and awakening consciousness. It’s time to open up our hearts like the bright blossoms and new leaves bursting forth outside! We are being given new opportunities to tend to our own healing and return to the work of nurturing new growth. Spring is a powerful season for clearing any stagnancy or old wounds from the past that have been hurting and blocking us for too long. This is a perfect time to do some spring cleaning and deep clearing of inherited pain from our family lines. 

  I have been seeing representations of that heavy ancestral energy show up in many of the tarot readings I’ve given for quite a while now, and have been actively seeking an effective method to assist my clients in moving through their familial baggage. I feel very called now to offer a way for my beloved tarot clients and dear friends to partake in a method I’ve found to be incredibly helpful, called Family Constellations. This April, I will be very honored to host a beautiful healer and longtime friend from the Bay Area, Akasha Heather Christy, who facilitates this amazing healing modality. Akasha will be leading a workshop for us here in Austin, at my home. 
Here’s some information about this work from her:

  “This is Akasha writing you from the Bay to invite you to this workshop that Angeliska and I are cultivating. It is my great pleasure to have the opportunity to come to Austin and share this work of Family Constellations with you. Angeliska is herself an amazing healer, and I am honored to spend this time with her, and with you all, doing this much needed work. Family Constellations provides a means to identify the unspoken and unconscious emotional patterns which affect our lives. It reveals the stagnant patterns which extend through generations of ancestry in a phantom-like manner, showing up in unaccountable ways, dragging on our spirits – in order to open a door towards deeper soul level resolution and healing. 

 By revealing the places in which we have given over our attention, our life force, and our dreams, we can see how we are respecting those who came before us. We are always seeking to respect our families – our ancestors. That being said, when there is tragedy in the family line that has gone unnoticed or ignored, it wreaks havoc on our lives. We can spend our whole lives unconsciously focusing on these places that are unresolved. Whether it is genocide, war, lost love, lost children, displacement, addiction, mental illness or loss of fortune – any of these things in our family history can impact how we live our lives now. This weekend event is an opportunity for us to gather and go into these hidden places, and share the process together with the morphogenic field in order to offer resolution to ourselves, and those we love.

Why come? 

Because you have an issue which doesn’t seem to be going away – problems that take too much of your attention, and are able to trace sources of the issue back to your family of origin. 

You are willing to allow your intuition and feelings be a source of exploration and resolution – you are willing to let go of logic long enough to allow the mystery to show you the way through to new perspective and opportunities.
 
You are open to working with others, to witness and serve those around you to discover new healing for old wounds.

You are thirsty for a new experience in your life – ready to make a change, and allow yourself to operate differently.

This experience stands to completely transform your perceptions around how you relate to your family and loved ones, and will offer you a greater capacity to let go, open more, and share more deeply. It will offer a level of internal resolution that will serve every relationship you have – including and especially with yourself.

We will be sharing this work on Saturday, April 16, 2016 from 12 noon – 6pm and Sunday, April 17, 2016 from 12 noon – 6pm
If you’d like more info, or to register, contact us soon!

screen-shot-2010-10-30-at-12-14-48

Mexico’s Haunting Underwater Sculptures

ccf4b82d-ebdb-4b9e-ad16-bbc17031be25
“The Lost Correspondent” by Jason deCaires Taylor in the waters of Grenada.

I’ve been dreaming, not surprisingly, of water for the past few nights. Water in dreams is emotion, and so I always try to pay attention to the currents: where is it choppy, with rough waves – or tranquil, clear and serene? Is the water a rushing flood, a tidal wave, a pristine spring, or a polluted puddle? Pay attention to what the water is doing in your dreams. It will tell you so much.

Last night I dreamt of inspecting exotic mushrooms for sale at the hippie food co-op. I can’t make up my mind about which fungus would be best (black and robust with thick stems like tree trunks, or slim pale straw mushrooms that look like little ghosts), so instead I select a petite aristolochia specimen, with intricate crazing designs on its heart-shaped leaves and big floppy dutchman’s pipe blossoms that are periwinkle blue with confetti sprinkles that look splatter painted on. The man I nearly married is sitting at a table nearby, and we amiably discuss my marvelous plant until the store manager approaches and asks if we’re “in loooooove“. We both pause awkwardly and are silent, not knowing how to answer, until I put my hand on his shoulder and say, “We were once, a while back – very much so. But not now. Not anymore.” It doesn’t feel bad to say this. We are at peace. I go to the lake, an old place, somewhere in Upstate New York. The water is clear, sea-glass green, but with fuzzy black shapes covered in algae, indistinctly waving beneath the surface. I start to wade out, to investigate what they might be, but something stops me. It doesn’t feel entirely safe. I say to my friend who is perched above me on the rocks that there has always been something about lakes that creeps me out. She says that the other lake we visited that one summer is truly ancient: formed millions and millions of years ago. There’s something in the way she says it that seem to imply that this lake is perhaps artificial, man-made, possibly polluted. I get the feeling that the Slithery Dee might live there. Something that might wrap an eel-like black tail around my ankle and yank me down. The dark shapes in the water look like people. Maybe the frozen statues of figures standing in circles. Lost ancestors waiting beneath the waves.

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The night before last, there was a big storm in my dream – prophetically perhaps bringing the real thing not long after. I was supposed to go in to a doctor’s appointment, but they called me from the office, not wanting me to risk it. The sky was dark grey, and the wind was starting to pick up. Electricity is crackling in the air, making the new leaves shiver. Fat drops were starting to come down, but I was thinking about chancing it and trying to get on the road anyway, when I noticed that it had actually been raining heavily for days. My yard was flooded, but not in bad way – just, a water feature that got beyond itself. The long neglected pond had filled up and overflowed its confines. Two bright koi fish that had been languishing in the few inches of brackish water near the bottom were now swimming happily in lazy arcs around the roots of the lacebark elm. I’d thought anything living in the pond that my former partner created had perished years ago, but apparently not. Two shiny carp, like the dual fish symbol in Pisces, and not the first time I’ve dreamt of these magical totems. I wonder for a moment if maybe I should try to scoop them up and return them back into the pond, but then realize that they’d just swim right out again. So I start planting some seeds that I find instead, for little pale blue flowers called baby blue eyes. I find a buffalo skull washed up from under the porch and decide to hang it up. The flood hasn’t ruined or destroyed anything the way it used to in my dreams. The floods used to erupt suddenly, sweeping my rickety wood cabin down the river. It used to be enormous tidal waves I ran from, huge moving walls of emotion that threatened to engulf me, drown me, suck me under. They would sometimes crash over me when I could no longer out-run them, but I’d survive it somehow. Coming to, bobbing in the water, eyes salt-blind, grasping for the waterlogged leather handles of old suitcases stuffed with soggy family photos, old love letters with their carefully inked words of longing rinsed away, just blank wet paper now. Not much is salvageable, disintegrating cardboard boxes containing important documents, histories, memories, secrets. All gone. I would have these dreams often, before Katrina hit, even. But now maybe something has finally shifted again. My world can flood a little, and it isn’t a total disaster. The storm can come, but it doesn’t keep me cowering at home anymore. The overwhelming feelings rise up and can now be felt, and completely processed. The good things are made free again. What was neglected can now be restored with love. New seeds filled with potential appear to be planted. The old bones of what has passed can be reclaimed and honored.

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Dream Reliquary is a project by artist Caledonia Curry, also known as Swoon. It is a space for people who wish to participate in the creation of a sculpture containing a large repository of dreams transcribed from people all over the world.

☾ Many wonders are being revealed in the depths, including an adorable new species of octopus: Casper, the Friendly Deep Sea Octopus Who’s Entirely New to Science

The Nuit Report March 4-10. Solar Eclipse in Pisces.  There are so many fantastic astrologers out there right now, sharing their wisdom and expertise with us so generously. I have found that checking in with a gifted guide to the cosmos on a regular basis has helped me understand my own shifts and transitions so much more. Aepril Schaile has become a mainstay in that practice for me, and someone I feel thrilled to know in this life. I love her grounded and wise way of communicating, and the way she imparts even challenging or heavy concepts with grace, compassion and humor. Check her out:

Aepril’s Astrology Oracle March 9-10: called back

Aepril’s Astrology Oracle March 7-8: deep sea exploration and revelation

Aepril’s Astrology Oracle March 2-3: A Non-rational, Ungrab-able, Undulate-y, Ubiquitous, Water Portal. 

ASTROLOGY MARCH 7TH-13TH: THE APHOTIC ZONE from AUSTIN COPPOCK

The Courage to Heal: Solar Eclipse in Pisces from Chani Nicholas

Chiron: Healing Through Bridging & Weaving from Rasa Lila Healing

The Symbol of Piscean Era: the Fish