Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Wandering: Among the Ancients (With a lesson in one-at-a-time.)

Fiddleheads unfurling toward the Sun.
Fiddleheads unfurling toward the Sun. 

This one is for the files.

Our mycophile clan has been slowly working on establishing relationships with other members of the boreal forest -- the plant life in particular (probably in part because they don't run away when you approach them!) In mid May, we spent a day with our eyes to the Ancients. It was a relatively warm Sproing afternoon in the Alaskan boreal forest, slanted sunlight dappling trees, soil & the emerging leafy ground cover. We were in search of three plants in particular, ancient plants, food plants


Horsetail, Equisetum spp.

I once described them thusly: "...ancient, self-possessed, horsetails of the Paleozoic..." I would say that this characterization stands justified, particularly the self-possessed part. There is something imperturbable & untroubled about them. They can mingle with the roadside weeds & invasive plants of disturbed sites just as easily as they thrive among the native plants of the forest floor.

Horsetail, Equisetum, spp.
Horsetail, Equisetum, spp. 
The window for collecting horsetails as a food plant is small. Only while they are spring budding shoots with branches pointing skyward are they viable for consumption. At this time they can also be gathered for tea. But once they begin to develop oxalate crystals on their outer surfaces they are only be safe for external uses such as hair tonic. I like gazing down onto their sunburst-like branch-pattern. It is a bit hypnotic & I find myself wondering what there is to discover at the end of their tiny green ladders.


Fiddleheads, nonspecific (or, more specifically [honestly], I haven't keyed them out yet)

Cretaceous, perhaps even Devonian critters. Just what have they witnessed over the millennia? 

Fiddlehead fern. Like the nautilus & Time itself, a sacred spiral.
Fiddlehead fern.
Like the nautilus & Time itself, a sacred spiral.

I have always felt that ferns are a bit like cats. The youthful fiddle heads emerge lively, cheery & sociable while the mature fern plants grow more reserved, quiet & self-contained. Always soft & magickal are the ferns, but their approachability shifts with age. 


Devil's Club, Oplopanax horridus

"Make sure you take a deep breath of its intoxicating ginseng scent. Make friends with this plant as I have and you will delight in it rather than fearing it." -- Tom Heutte, from the USDA Forest Service website

Devil's Club leaf bud,  Oplopanax horridus
Devil's Club leaf bud,
Oplopanax horridus
Like so many things, this pervasive, rugged beauty is terribly misunderstood. While the Devil's Club (aka "Alaskan Ginseng," but it is not a ginseng) plants are indeed foreboding in their maturity, in early spring when their delicate green buds & shoots appear, they exude an unexpected vulnerability. And indeed, these plants are vulnerable -- to human impact. Taking the ground shoots from Devil's Club plants can seriously compromise their slow reproduction. Instead, we choose to focus on a small number of leaf buds instead. Taking a walk in a sea of Devil's Club is like traveling through time, pure magic

"Don't bite off more than you can chew."

A recurrent lesson in foraging, as in Life. That evening we made some sublime Devil's Club sauté, lightly cooked with some sweet onions. They have a gentle, surprisingly pine-like flavour. But the fiddleheads & the horsetail remained in their refrigerator containers for a long time, strangely never spoiling, but certainly losing their vibrance. Enthusiasm must remain checked. I have always maintained a policy of deeply learning only one or two fungi species a season & never harvesting more than we can clean & prepare within adequate time time. I see how this translates to the plant kingdom as well. This is a lifetime endeavour & there is no reward at the end of the quick road or the overly abundant harvest. 

Lesson (review) noted. 

Devil's Club, Oplopanax horridus leaf shoots sautéed with sweet onion.
Devil's Club, Oplopanax horridus leaf shoots sautéed with sweet onion.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

"I Miss the Moon."

Midnight or rather, 10:00 pm Sun.
Midnight or rather, 10:00 pm Sun. 

What she said.

The local Wiccan/Witch cohort (or one of them anyway) has a monthly gathering they call a "Wine & Cheese Moot." What "moot" means to them exactly I am not sure as it seems to vary. But, as the caretaker of the community center I sometimes take advantage of the opportunity join them for wine & cheese & something.

At the most recent Wine & Cheese Moot, there were three new visitors. All of them were women (not really surprising) & all of them were incredible talkers (which is a bit surprising). Because of this, there was much talk & talk & talk. I am not sure how much of that long & vocal evening I could recall with any real accuracy, but I can remember when one of these new, unfamiliar voices lamented:

"I miss the Moon."

I couldn't even tell you which woman said it, but I'm with her.

This Sun. This SUN. I have decided that the most disruptive thing about a Sun which refuses to set is just how much it gets in the way of the Moon... 

However, I decided this week that instead of berating myself for my neglectful Lunar devotionals & general feelings of Lunar Esbat ennui during the highest Summer months (it does seem to be a pattern if I cannot be in the Desert), I need to find something better to do with that energy. 

Not sure what that will look like. But it will look like something. 

In the meantime, I can relish the brief midday peeks at the Lady as she shifts Her shrouding to & fro, & look forward to the tipping of the scales again in Her favour. 

Oh, yes & I will enjoy that Sun, because next thing you know I will be griping again about all the Darkness. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

For the Files: Oneiric Record Keeping

Dreamwork journals for Rite of Oneiric Insight participants.
Dreamwork journals for Rite of Oneiric Insight participants.

On May 23 I hosted a second Rite of Oneiric Insight. It seems to me it is important to keep record of these, or something. 

This time I kept the arrangements & ceremonial format the same, but I made the journals myself because I could not find any that suited my sense of aesthetic or purpose. Maybe this was best anyways, because I found the process of creation meditative & revealing. I am finding art & ceremony are inseparable for me.

People resemble cats when it comes to certain kinds of commitments. Inside, outside, inside, outside... ad nauseam. I prefer it when people do not make commitments until they are certain & actually committed. This may be more common with commitments that cause a feeling of ambiguity. I understand a fear of the unknown -- I have it too, plenty -- but do not engage me with it. Instead, rather, come to me when you have surrendered to your decision -- when you have decided you are in it to win it, not when you are still doing the hokey pokey. 

I always disliked that dance.

At the end of two weeks of hokey pokey, one woman (out of four) attended this particular rite. She was in it to win it & in the end of it all, she was the only one who was supposed to be there. We must trust in these things. 

I plan to repeat this rite using this format one more time (why? I don't know, I just know), then I will likely work another meditation, perhaps one more closely tied to manifesting. Perhaps there will be other changes as well. Also as time progresses, I will continue to add to the Dream Shrine which has already evolved significantly. 

Static does not seem to me to be the natural way of things, but rather subtle, sensible evolution should be allowed to occur, organically, spontaneously. There is always room for thoughtful, conscious adjustment. This, among other things is what distinguishes my work from that of a traditionalist. I cannot claim a pedigree or even a pedagogy. I can only claim what is mine.  

Dreamwork journal bindings:
"Alis volat propriis," "She flies with her own wings."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Smiteful Elementals. Or, We're On Fire Up Here. No, Really. Or, Magick Sucks Sometimes.

Elementals. Impersonal, unruly.
I have mentioned it before, but obviously, the scale was quite different. 

This place is on fire.

AICC Active fire map, June 17 2015.
Currently there are 52 active wildfires burning in the state of Alaska.

And while I say impersonal, it feels personal in an I-cannot-quite-put-my finger-on-it sort of way. 
And I am sure it feels very personal to all the mushers out there who have lost "everything."


I am reminded here that while the fires have lain waste to "everything," they have caused few injuries or casualties thus far, at least for humans & their closest companions. But my heart aches for the sled dogs who perished & their people who lost them to the Sockeye fire.

And no, I have not forgotten the wildlife. But that is a hopeless rabbit hole of despair I choose to avoid.

And this fire -- the Sockeye in particular -- it is most ironic. (Iconic too, but the media has that point covered.) And, regrettably personal.

Let us look more closely. The main fire map looks like this:

Detailed Map of Sockeye Fire #282 from Alaska Wildfire Information
Detailed Map of Sockeye Fire #282
from Alaska Wildfire Information

But let us examine section A, milepost 77, the starting point for the fire:

Map of Sockeye Fire #282, Section A  from Alaska Wildfire Information.
Map of Sockeye Fire #282, Section A
from Alaska Wildfire Information.

The fire was named "Sockeye" for the road on which the ignition point is located (see map). But notice that Sockeye Road gives access to a road called Landlocked... This road (ironically) named Landlocked is the address of our community retreat center... The home of the annual Summer Solstice festival.

Entrance sign for the PCC-AK.  Image courtesy PCC-AK website.
Entrance sign for the PCC-AK.
Image courtesy PCC-AK website

And, ironically or not, our Fire Tribe (a fire magick & safety crew) was making final preparations at the PCC-AK, also called "The Land," when the fire began (likely the result of neighbors with fireworks). Our folks made the second call to report the fire. They were also very fortunate to escape, because as the name of the road implies, they were "Landlocked" behind the ignition point. 

And so, while last Solstice looked like this:

Dancing around the fire, Solstice 2014. Note the red suspenders, a designation of Fire Tribe, safety on active duty.
Dancing around the fire, Solstice 2014.
Note the red suspenders, a designation of Fire Tribe,
safety on active duty.

This year, it likely will look more like this:

Sockeye Fire. Image credit: Marc Lester/ADN
Sockeye Fire. Image credit: Marc Lester/ADN

And I cannot help but wonder at all the energy behind this. Energy on many, many levels. So many levels -- from global fossil fuel energy, to the relentless heat of this Midsummer Sun, to the fever of recent interpersonal tensions. 

And this leaves me at this text I received after the fire erupted from a shrewd friend of very like mind:

"Magick sucks sometimes."

Indeed, brother.
Ignition was imminent.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What She Said. (About Animism.)

"Everything in nature has a voice, a consciousness. Try to quiet the chatter in your mind enough to notice it. Can you hear the trees, the flowers, the rock, or the ant? What are they saying to you?" -- Theresa Rose, Opening the Kimono

We've been back outside, wandering.  

What pleasure, what joy! I feel real again & again.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Moonrise in a Dreamworld

Fresh from a night of adventure, not the least of which was this outstanding moment:

We are descending a mountainous region in the tropics. My husband & others are in the lead, while I am taking the rear, following behind the partner of a girlfriend. I am under the impression that we are in Jamaica, although I have never been to Jamaica, nor do I know if it is in fact mountainous. (The environs very much resemble Dominica for which I have great fondness). 
It is night & quite dark, yet somehow we are still able to navigate & negotiate the trek. 
We are coming upon a sizable ravine spanned by a wooden suspension bridge. The front of the party has already made their passage across the slatted, aerial walkway -- J & myself have yet to make the traverse. Just as we reach the lip of the crevasse, he abruptly stops, reaching his hand back in a silent gesture to wait. 
He tilts his head, looking upward -- to the sky? To the top of the unnaturally large (also admittedly out of context) black spruce across the gorge? Using something as his guide marker(s), he points his finger up and in a short arc down to a particular point along the distant, mountainous horizon.
As if on cue -- save for a moment's hesitation (fashionably late?) -- the Moon begins to crest the dark ridge, glowing, resplendent. Our ever familiar, luminous beauty.  For a moment we watch Her rise in silence & I wonder to myself how it is that he knows Her so well, for it seems a bit out of character. Then, as if answering an unspoken command, we both grab our cameras & play paparazzi to the Moon.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Poetry for the Esbat: SPROING! Moon. 2015

Tonight's Moon. Placidly watching the SPROING from a distance.
Tonight's Moon. Placidly watching the SPROING from a distance.

The Sun's sweeping arc shifts rapidly, severely --
it will make mayhem for as long as this lasts.
The Night has taken to dragging her starry cloak elsewhere,
while Lady Moon slides about in the pallid sky, ever patient, 
I like to think she is smoothing creases in her shift,
awaiting her turn...

The days are long, long, longSPROING! The winding-up of crazed Alaskan summer antics begins NOW (or perhaps yesterday, while you were distracted). Human kind is frenetic. The signs are clear: two neighbor's trucks totaled in as many days. Countless other accidents in the nearby streets. You might think there was snow, but nay, it is Spring! that has sprung in the Last Frontier & the people are already quite mad. The same applies to the rest of the lot -- children of Flora & Fauna -- as well. Everyone clamoring under the Sun.

Now the birds, they continue their songs past the witching hour.
Soon, the plants will grow at night. 

We are thrumming -- a hive, alive!

Which is why I get SO much glee from knowing there is this flower out there somewhere who dances to the beat of the subtler Lunar rhythm... Ephedra foeminia.

"Two researchers from Stockholm University accidentally discovered that pollination in a species of Ephedra – the gymnosperm Ephedra foeminea is correlated with the full moon. The finding is a first for the plant world. No other plant has been found to wait for the full moon to activate pollinators, including Ephedra distachya, a very close relative, which relies on wind to carry its pollen.
The plant is pollinated by nocturnal flies and moths, and these insects may utilize the moon to navigate in the dark. Further, the spectacular reflection of the full moon’s light in the pollination drops glistening at the top of the plant probably attracts the insects to the cones." -- Plant’s pollination synchronized with full moon, EarthSky

Pollination in the Gnetales.  Image credit: Rydin & Bolinder,  Moonlight pollination in the gymnosperm Ephedra (Gnetales)
Pollination in the Gnetales. E. feminine at right.
Image credit: Rydin & Bolinder,
Moonlight pollination in the gymnosperm Ephedra (Gnetales)

(If you are a source material kind of critter, see their paper in Biology Letters: Moonlight pollination in the gymnosperm Ephedra (Gnetales).)

I prefer this approach -- courting moths & harmonizing with a gentle, nocturnal rhythm. Not that I dismiss the unwavering heat of the summer Sun. Oh, I do relish every moment under those rays! (And if they find me in a yawning desert, even better.) But there is a stillness, a mindfulness that arrives with the Moon & this is the sacred-secret (also the secret-sacred). Quiet, it is much more than the absence of sound. 

This brings me to the poetry for this Esbat, a quiet-flower-Moon poem by performer, writer, director, poet, and artist Bernard Bragg. In the video below, Bragg translates the poem “Flowers and Moonlight on the Spring Water” into what he has coined “Rarefied ASL.” This piece is simply brilliant. I have included two versions, the first being my personal favourite. The second includes an introduction by Mr. Bragg & subtitles, not that one would need them given his unambiguous & sincere rendering. 

To read the original inspiration for this work, an ancient poem by Zhang Ruoxw Chang Jo-Hsü (c. 660-c.720), visit here: "Spring, River, and Flowers on a Moonlit Night." (Here for hànzì.)

Blessings to you this Esbat, my friends.

Monday, April 27, 2015

What He Said. (About simplicity.)

"My dearest, I will now explain the only safe and true formula, the destroyer of the darkness of the World, the most secret among all secrets. Let it be secret to him who would attain. Let it cover any period of time, depending on his conception. There is no qualification, nor ritual or ceremony. His very existence symbolising all that is necessary to perfection. Most emphatically, there is no need of repetition or feeble imitation. You are alive!" 
-- Austin Osman Spare, The Book of Pleasure (Self Love) 
There are no words for how wild I am about this mad man's writings. How had I overlooked this crazy cat man for so many years? 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

For the Files: Beware the Stick Figures

Stick Figures: Ridiculous. Ridiculously potent.
Stick Figures: Ridiculous.
Ridiculously potent.
I have mentioned Stick Figure Manifesting before. This serves as a reminder to myself (& to anyone else who may also experience this phenomenon): Beware the stick figures! Like sigils, they manifest (a little too effectively perhaps). They may not be at all sexy like a full blown ceremonial magick-style sigil meticulously created using an appropriate astronomical kamea & embellished with biblical &/or other obscure & ancient words of wisdom to then be obsessively scribed or etched onto some rare metal, parchment or other critter skin & finally, laboriously consecrated with a gloriously elaborate circle-shaped ceremony... but they work. 
Oh, my, how they work...

✼ ✼ ✼

Greet the Sun — Morning Movement & Offering 
Join Resh Keljesh and yoga instructor Kathryn for a collective expression of gratitude to and celebration of the Solar Source. Awaken, energize and connect with your community mates through guided group movement. Share in thankfulness and reverence while the Resh K’eljesh devotional dance troupe makes offerings to the Sun through rhythmic gestures and dance. Feel the light stir within and without as we rise, rejoice and build a conduit to facilitate warmth and harmony together.  — Hosted by Resh K’eljesh

Manifesting with Movement: Whole Body Symbol & Sigil Magick with Moma Fauna 
Both workshops described below are condensed previews of a multi-week, intensive series to be offered at a future time. 
Part 1: This preparatory workshop establishes a general framework for the “movement manifesting” concepts in Part 2 by exploring a variety of magickal principles, attitudes and approaches employed in symbol-focused magick. Among the many concepts covered in Part 1 will be definitions and implementation of amulets, talismans and sigils throughout history and cross culturally, a comparison of theories and strategies for executing sigil/symbols in manifesting operations and practical devices for creation of magickal analogies.  
Part 2: During this second workshop, we will begin to transfer and apply the principles from Part 1 to three dimensional space and somatic movement. We will explore concepts of visualization, geometry, dimensional orientation, personal creativity, style and repertoire, harnessing muscle memory for “organic belief” or a “magickal forgetfulness.” We will also take time to consider and discuss the implications of embodiment as magickal operation for both individuals and groups.

✼ ✼ ✼

And I swore I would keep it simple at this Summer Solstice festival.

Beware the stick figures!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Poetry for the Esbat: Wherever You Are, There You Are... Moon 2015

The Moon, from The Alice Tarot  by Baba Studio & Magic Realist Press.
The Moon, from The Alice Tarot
by Baba Studio & Magic Realist Press.

Wherever you are, there you are. 
Fortunately, also is the Moon.

I have fallen through the Rabbit Hole again & tumbled away from the precious silent, stillness of the High Desert into the drone of Alaska's largest city...

Why we always do this when the Moon is reaching Her fullness, I am not sure, but there must be some unconscious reasoning at work. No wonder I think of the Moon as transition...

I rose on our departure morning ready for tears, a deep sobbing sadness of cathartic proportions. But my emotional upwelling never came to be, for the demands of readiness & the bustle of preparations stole away the moment. 

I still ache for home & all that the term includes. But particularly this time, I yearn for that house which speaks to me as though I am special.

As I cast a stare at the consistent, texturized walls of our modern, very practical Northern abode, my heart aches for the imperfection & impracticality of that stack of crude yet carefully placed bricks sighing in the desert. Friends & family are mobile, connected -- they can visit, telephone, video conference -- but the house must stay the course. If I could place a phone call just to hear it breathing, I would. 

What can I do, but ask the Moon to keep Her careful eye upon my Beloved? May Her soft, cyclical gaze watch over our precious dwelling, friend, sanctuary & all that surrounds that place -- canyon, winds, barn, shed, corral, trees, birds, soil, mycelia, mammals small & large, the hordes of insects & arachnids... everyone slowly overtaking the place, claiming it as their own. 

I can't begrudge them for having good taste.

And so, on to the poetry for this Esbat. Goethe seems to say it best this round. Bittersweet yet beloved under the Moon. She makes everything better.

To the Full Moon Rising
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Goethe)
Translation by A. S. Kline

Are you leaving me already?
Only now, you were so near!
Cloud-mass shadows you, I see,
And you’re no longer here.

Yet you feel how sad I am,
Your rim still shines, a star!
Telling me how loved I am,
Though my Beloved’s far.

So pursue, now! Brighter, brighter,
Purer ways, with greater light!
Though my heart in pain beats faster,
More than blessed is the Night.

Blessings to you this Esbat, my friends.

There's no place like home.
There's no place like home.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What He Said. (About the Value of Everything.)

-- from Alchemical Psychology: Old Recipes for Living in a New World by Thom F. Cavalli
-- from Alchemical Psychology: Old Recipes for Living in a New World by Thom F. Cavalli

Although I take some issue with his definition of "animism" & I have never perceived myself as a panthiest (also not quite exactly a panentheist, although much more the latter than the former), the premise that somehow from the perspective of "Nature" or the "Universe" "No one thing is any more important than another..." makes me want to say, "Yes, exactly." For us, as humans, there certainly seems to be some strong desire to adjudicate, classify & valuate by form, function, aesthetic, but isn't that what gets into so much trouble?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

What he said. (About Animism.)

"'That's the principle that governs all things,' he said. 'In alchemy it is called the Soul of the World' ...He also said this was not just a human gift, that everything on the face of the earth had a soul, whether mineral, vegetable, or animal -- or even just a simple thought." -- Paulo Cohelo, The Alchemist (emphasis mine)

 Yes. Exactly what he said.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Baladi Moon: Another Homecoming

Moonrise over Nevada. Photo taken on the road home.
Moonrise over Nevada. Photo taken on the road home.

Baladi (Arabic: بلدى‎ baladī; relative-adjective "of town", "local", "rural", comparable to English "folk", with a lower-class connotation) -- Wikipedia

Perhaps I neglected to mention yet another migration. Nowadays, our shifting of location is regulated less by the seasons & more by the heartstrings. Thusly, we adapt.

It seems to me that there was no mistake when my dance instructor chose to direct my studies toward Baladi just as we return home -- to my home, the land of my birth & the house I loved at first sight. I am, despite a liberal education & a small degree of worldliness, still a desert rat at the core. 

And don't I know it.

As part of my dance studies, I was given an assignment to document the sounds of my environment. I struggled with this in our Alaskan city's muffled winter... traffic, jets, the humming of the bathroom fan, the sounds of my children sleeping... I felt I couldn't discern much & most of which I did seemed unsatisfying.

And perhaps the truth is that I often don't have the quietude within myself to listen while I am in an urban environment, even one as idiosyncratically wild & magickal as ours. 

But my first day here in this obscure, rural outpost in the high desert I wrote:
"Sounds from my home (the home of my birth, the one from which my blood is made): cattle maaawing at sunrise, wild turkeys cackle like a gang of drunken comedians, the collared doves with their sad-sounding cries, the occasional diesel engine of a truck loaded with hay, or dogs, or children... and SILENCE."
Silence. Silence is the key. Absence of input makes the sensory experience more refined. When the constant drone of the hive is replaced by silence, sounds become staccato -- they are rendered pure. This makes all the difference.

The rest of the family notices these perceptual, perhaps qualitative differences too. Depending on who they are, they mention how the food tastes better, the toys are more engaging or the Sun is brighter & warmer. In this rustic environment, everything moves at a much slower, more relaxed pace & despite the overwhelming amount of work to be done, the sense of pressure is minimal, while the work is somehow more satisfying. 

And the Moon, oh, that Moon! She is always at Her finest. There is nothing, nothing at all like the Moon slung low over the desert, cradled by a Night sky that bears stars that not only can be seen, but are too plentiful to count. 

Baladi Moon. How much more sense it all makes from this side of the journey. All the pieces, they just keep fitting together. Perfectly even. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rite of Oneiric Insight, Part 3: Reflections

Some quick notes on the Rite of Oneiric Insight (for the files).

"Dream Drawers" in varying stages of production. A project initiated & further inspired by the Rite of Oneiric Insight.
"Dream Drawers" in varying stages of production.
A project initiated & further inspired by the Rite of Oneiric Insight.

It is all in the intent.

I attend a dream circle led by a very astute & intelligent attorney who has been journaling & doing dream work since the early 1990's. During a discussion of dreams, dreamwork & how we understand, interpret & relate to our dreams, the attention turned to me. All eyes in my direction, I gestured as though I was placing a hat on my head & said, "Time to put on my crazy hat..." And I offered perhaps a more candid explanation to that group of relative strangers than I would to people closer to me. I had expected eyebrows to raise, or faces to glaze over, but instead the response was, "It is all in the intent."

And so there we have it. I just needed to say it.

A few reflections on the inaugural Rite of Oneiric Insight:

My people:
My (deliberately) small group was comprised of four participants, plus myself as officiant. The group was diverse with ages ranging from approximately 30 to over 60, three women & one man, representing multiple ethnic backgrounds, occupations & spiritual leanings. Two have inclinations toward shamanism -- one modern or "neo-shamanic," one vis-a-vis culture/heritage. One participant has a proclivity for Hellenic practice & the another is a seasoned dream worker. Everyone had their own understanding/interpretation of this journey & everyone had wonderful reflections & energy to contribute.

The Cards Don't Lie:
One of my participants was feeling leery about attending & waffled hot & cold over the week, primarily because of the elixir -- having a sensitive disposition, she was nervous about consuming it. I told her she could participate without drinking it & she agreed to this condition. Since I only had three drinking horns, I told her that was convenient & I would make her some chamomile tea instead. But, when she arrived, she had changed her mind, as she is wont to do & decided the elixir would be fine. I replied that since she is so fickle, she didn't get a drinking horn this time. She also neglected to bring her hearing aids, so she missed much of my introduction, the ceremony & basically all of the visualization despite my careful placement of her head nearly in my lap. 

When the time came to draw cards, she was the only participant to draw a Gate of Ivory

I sent her home with the script for the visualization journey & she recorded it for herself, repeating the journey using headphones, with more success (I hope). 

An Inspiration from Offering:
My personal offering was a small apothecary chest which had been fashioned as an advent calendar. I planned to convert the chest into a small, portable shrine for dream ceremony-ing, painting it with a simple black exterior, maybe putting it on feet. I felt the simplicity of the shape & design allowed the personal imagination to operate uninfluenced by specific iconography, with the drawers representing the multitude of possibilities in the dreamworld & also functioning as containers for offerings amassed over time.

The night of the rite, I dreamt of images on the drawers of the chest, each representing various themes, landscapes, concepts one might encounter in the dreamworld. Thus, a new variation on the shrine was born -- the box will probably remain a night sky black while the drawers will each bear a different symbolic image. I also considered using each of the first four people who participated with me as muse for a drawer face. (The drawer with musical composition in the image above was inspired by one of the participants.) 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Poetry for the Esbat: Baladi Moon (Again, It's Personal)

The Creative Centre & Essence of Baladi Dance Image passed from dancer to dancer to dancer... Credit: unknown. (Leave a comment if you know this artist.)
The Creative Centre & Essence of Baladi Dance
Image passed from dancer to dancer to dancer...
Credit: unknown. (Leave a comment if you know this artist.)

Baladi (Arabic: بلدى‎):
"The word Baladi (you may also see it spelled balady, beledi, beledy, etc.) can mean several things: 
1. My country, of the country or of the people.
2. It can be used a complement as the balad are considered the salt of the earth or a slur when referring to somebody as unrefined, like calling somebody a hick.
3. In dance it refers to the dance of the everyday people, raqs baladi as opposed to raqs sharqi.
4. In dance it can also refer to a particular music and dance construct, also called baladi taksim, or ashra baladi.
5. In American belly dance and in the Levant it also sometimes used to refer to a particular variation of the rhythm masmoudi saghir." 
-- from Egyptian Baladi and the Baladi Taksim, by Shems 

I generally tend towards the outside world & bioregionalism when I share Full Moon poetry, but of course the protracted Alaska winters tend to provoke a turning inward. The end result then, is that inevitably some winter Esbat poetry winds up being more personal. This is one of those times.

Since just after midwinter I have been quite preoccupied by dance studies with a new instructor/mentor (I have mentioned her before). This is an exhilarating, expansive & somewhat terrifying experience. I have completely thrown myself into the fire this time. On purpose.


This week we began "Baladi studies" in earnest. 

And this is only some of what she has to say about Baladi:

"...It´s all about the FREEDOM of speech – literally – but not a mental speech made of ideas and stored data in my brain – it´s a HIP speech...HIPS CAN TALK...

After watching, teaching, correcting, stimulating thousands of dancers from different nationalities, it´s obvious that most women are totally disconnected from their hips (and the organs, muscles, creative energy, sexual impulses, LIFE inside it). It´s a problem if you wish to dance a mean, juicy, (im)proper baladi piece but it´s an even bigger problem if you wish to enjoy life and use all your potential as a human being. 
Here´s what I call my hips: “MY BELOVED POWER HOUSE“. They expand with time – literally and metaphorically speaking – and are the source of my power, inspiration, love, passion, drive, ambition, dreams, pleasure and and and and. And then some. My hips are queens, goddesses, mother and father as well as their children; my hips sustain me when everything seems to go down the toilet and are a fountain of endless joy, discoveries, strength and divine pleasures. 
If your hips could talk, what would they say?... 
...Women who are disconnected from their hips (or carry around a hate relationship with them) cannot be fully creative and alive – they just can´t. One thing – love for your hips – leads to the other: the FIERCE willingness to be yourself and move ahead in life outpouring love and pleasure..."
-- Joana Saahirah, Hips don´t lie (we agree, Shakira!) – BALADI DELUXE

But this dance is so much bigger than even all of that -- with cultural context & nuance to grasp, technique to study, vocabulary to build, rules to learn & then break... To add to it, there's a unique musicality to be understood as well.


And in the end, it is about getting down to the essence of your being, feeling & communicating your raw, honest truth through the art of movement we call dance. 


Today I was asked to dance an improvisational Baladi for her. She told me to dance with gratitude for something I really love, really enjoy, letting my hips speak for me.

So I did. As I danced, I forgot about being under pressure with her eyes on my every move, every moment, because I was dancing with gratitude for wild mushrooms in cream sauce. My wild mushrooms... mushrooms I picked, cleaned, dried, soaked in wine, sautéed & bathed in butter & heavy cream & maybe some fontina or...

When we reached the end of class, she told me (not aware of my particular gratitudes) that I had indeed just danced my very first Baladi.

And it made me wonder: what could I create if I danced Baladi for the Moon?

Hence, the Poetry for this Esbat. (I do love successful multi-tasking... or is it syncretism?) When I read this poem, I said to myself, "This is about a Baladi. A Baladi for the Moon."

Moon Dancer 
By Spencer Kluesner
(poem inspired by the painting "Moon Dancer" by artist Julia Watkins)

She dances to the drum's rhythmic pulse.
Until we are entranced.
Until we begin to feel as if we were with her
A part of her
Living through her
Anticipating her next move

And she twists
With an instinctual certainty
An aquarian dream
An ancient dance to the female cycles of the moon
Knowing her next move without thinking
Feeling her next step while dreaming

I want to be her
I want to feel the infinite forces of energy
Flowing through my being
I want to let go into that space
As only a women can

And I may
But if my body can't dance
My spirit still can

And I'll connect to the infinite
To the nothingness that is really the everything
The whole of our existence
The energy of all that was
And all that will be.

Blessings to you this Esbat, my friends.

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