Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dreams Are Made of This

Happy Thanksgiving to you! I hope you all had a grand holiday and that you all ate too much, or too little, or just right. Whatever rocks your boat. We fed eight people and still had leftovers. Our boat was rocked.

We borrowed a long table from the Methodist Church across the street. I moved things out of my room, and that's where we set it up. At first it looked very institutional, but I borrowed a long blue tablecloth from a friend. Then I put our blue place mats around the table and set different plates on each place mat. Some were Fiesta ware. (Yes, this is feasting geekdom, friends, so I'm spillin' the details. Remember, I am Martha Stewitch.)

My mother gave me the Fiestaware years ago, so it was my way of bringing her to our meal. By the way, Mom sought out Fiestaware back when no one used it—back when it still had lead in it! I also used some Talavera plates Mario and I had gotten in Mexico, along with some plain Pier One plates. A small burnished gold cauldron was the centerpiece. I filled it with evergreen twigs I found outside. Next to it I set a small crystal skull. (A mini-Crane.) On the other side of the cauldron, I put a beeswax turkey candle that my beekeeper friend gave us.

We prepared an organic heritage turkey using East Indian spices. (We used this rub here for our template and then changed it a bit.) We also roasted sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, and mushrooms. For our stuffing, which was vegan, we used gluten-free rice bread and added celery, onions, some olive oil and salt and pepper, and then roasted it all up. We also made our standard quinoa with lime juice, scallions, and cilantro. Our friends brought salad, cider, and desserts galore!

Our turkey got done before everyone arrived, so that was a bit problematic. But we just cut it up anyway and then rushed our friends to the table when they arrived. We had a buffet set up in the kitchen. Everyone grabbed a plate and made it through the line. Mario and I sat at opposite ends of this long table. Before we started eating, I welcomed everyone and said how sacred it was to eat with people. We were sharing food and becoming a part of one another. Then we honored the directions and elements.

Beforehand, I did a meditation/journey to the Old Mermaids and asked for a gift for everyone at the table. They gave me eight gifts, plus an extra one since it was Mario's birthday. I wrote the gift on a small piece of paper and curled each one into a seashell. I blessed all the seashells and gifts and did some Reiki on them. Then I placed them randomly around the table so that I didn't know who was getting what gift. Just before we ate, everyone found out what their Old Mermaid "medicine" was. Mine was Crow Medicine.

We ate. I don't remember what we talked about. I was up and down from the table. That's one thing about hosting a gathering like this: I'm so busy I rarely have time to concentrate on the glory of the gathering!

After dinner and desert, we remained at the table and did an exercise using tarot cards. I brought out most of my tarot decks. Everyone oohed and aahed over them and then each person chose which deck s/he wanted to use. I gave them all yellow pads to write on, and then we each started a story: A woman learned how to be happy and healthy. Or a man found his one true love. Things like that. (This wasn't my idea; this was one of my friend's inventions.)

Then we each picked three cards from our decks. We looked at the pictures and wrote a story (beginning, middle, and end) based on our interpretations of what we saw in relationship to that first sentence. Surprisingly, given I'm a novelist, I was finished before anyone else. While they completed their sacred tales, I took the faery and ancestor offering plate outside to the Old Oak, said a prayer, and left the offerings.

Three of the people had to leave fairly early. The rest of us sat around talking about all sorts of things. Like what kind of lives we want to live. Later still, Mario and I and our overnight houseguest did dishes and kept talking.

When I went to bed, I curled up to Mario and said, "I'm just going to decide to be happy." He chuckled. "Just like that?" "Yep." So I lay in bed unable to sleep for a long time. When I started to get grumpy about this, I thought, "But I'm happy." It wasn't denial. I still couldn't sleep. But I was happy. What did it matter if I couldn't sleep? Eventually I would fall to sleep. Life would go on. Wouldn't that be great if it worked? If we could all just decide to be happy?

I dreamed and dreamed. And dreamed some more. In the first dream I remember, I was on my way home. I was supposed to turn right to go home, but I turned left. And I drove away, into the forest. It felt so freeing. In another dream, a man was walking around on the stubs of his legs; he had no feet. I didn't like looking at him. He said to me that you just have to deal with things. "You might think I was hurt in the war, but I wasn't." He had been a soldier. "Or you might think I got this doing something noble. But I didn't. I was crossing the street and I got hit by a car. You just have to deal."


I got a good deal Thursday night. I spent the day feasting with good friends. The next day one of my guests wrote and thanked me. He said he enjoyed spending the day with his spiritual family. I liked that. Maybe we do have all kinds of families we can love and gather with. I love my biological family. I love my spiritual family. I love my community family. I love my tree family. I could go on...But I will spare you that.

Blessings, my ether family, and my family of sister and brother mermaids.

May You Feast In Beauty!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Protect Our Airways

And by that I mean protect my airways and your airways from pollutants and global warming. From RePower America: Friday is the last day to voice your opinion on whether the the Environmental Protection Agency should regulate carbon dioxide pollution, the primary cause of the climate crisis. This is a big deal.

The EPA is taking public comment before making a ruling. I sent my message in and it will appear on the EPA's website, and be part of the public record.

Of course, special interests—like the oil and coal lobbies—are working overtime to defeat a positive ruling and have already gotten thousands of comments submitted in opposition.

Submit your public comment to the EPA here.

Thank you.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Church of the Old Mermaids and Broken Moon have been Kindled!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Whackadoodle Times: The Novel

I started a new novel today. I don't know where it will go, or what will happen with it, but it sure was fun writing it. It's first draft, finished it about three minutes ago. Enjoy!

Whackadoodle Times

I know exactly when things changed. Most people can’t point to the time and place when life went whackadoodle. I can. I suppose if I were introspective I might be able to look back in time and say that it all started dissolving when Henry Ford made the car. Or when God made man. Or Goddess made woman. Or when the first two haploid gametes fused to become a zygote.

Or when I got married. Had children. Became filled with ennui. Lived the dissipated life.

Only I wasn’t filled with ennui and my life wasn’t any more dissipated than anyone else’s. At least anyone else that I knew.

Which could have part of the problem. But I digress. I babble. Thus my father’s nickname for me: Brooke. I added the “e” just for fun when I was in college. I thought that would stop my classmates from asking me if my brother’s name was “Up a Creek” or “Down the River.”

It wasn’t a very good college.

Anyway, it began once upon a time, I suppose, the day Hayword and I were sitting out by the pool. It was a beautiful bluish kind of day. (We were close to La-la Land at the time, come on. How blue could it be? It’s what the locals call fog and the scientists call the Earth going to Hell in a hand basket--or in a designer handbag, given we were in Californ-eye-aye.)

Hayword was working on a script. Yes, I was married to a Hollywood writer. And he was such a cliché, really. One day he was in great demand; the next day no one would return his calls. This made him slightly neurotic and a little bit moody. Some would say he was manic-depressive, but he was not. Can’t a person drink to blackout some days and cry uncontrollably other days without being labeled? Maybe that person just has good days and bad days.

Not that Hayword ever drank to a blackout or cried uncontrollably.

Someone in our house did that, but I don’t think it was Hayword.

But let me get back to you about that.

On this particular day, Hayword was working on the rewrite of a script that had already sold. He had gotten the money. So he was on his way to the stage when he started feeling guilty over the massive amount of filthy lucre he received for writing down lies. That was how he characterized it. When he was talking to a stud head, he waxed on about story and drama and point of view. When he groused to me, Hayword said he was merely taking out a book from his library of lies, i.e., his brain, and transcribing it.

So the doorbell rang. We both got up to answer it. Hayword may have wanted a break from the manuscript--or maybe he was trying to get away from me. I was talking about our daughter Fern who had just quit college and moved in with her boyfriend in Santa Cruz. (Yes: Fern. I wanted to carry on the woodland fiction that began with my name. Was Fern grounded, rooted or feathery and wild like her name? No. She was as flaky as a French croissant. A real French croissant. Made with butter, butter, butter. And gorgeous white freshly ground flour. Of course, Fern was gluten-intolerant so this metaphor would be meaningless to her.)

We lived in an exclusive neighborhood near the beach (a beach that was getting closer every day). We knew all our neighbors and they knew us. We attended each other’s birthday parties, our children’s weddings, and any backyard barbecues, and we occasionally slept with each other’s spouses. And by “we,” I mean “they.” (Most of the time.) Personally, I’d seen too many of them naked and heard their views on too many subjects. This seeing and hearing left me unaroused.

We knew the people in our ‘hood, but still, Hayword should not have opened the door without even looking through the keyhole. We do have a gate. Hayword must have left it open. He wanted to pretend he was still that boy from the Midwest who knew and liked everyone. A boy from the Midwest who believed in the goodness of everyone. Every time he started dancing down this particular nostalgic yellow-brick road, I reminded him he grew up fifty miles from Detroit, Michigan which was the murder capital of the entire world when he was a boy. “Not the world,” he’d say. “Just the United States.”

Hayword opened the door and a woman stood on our threshold. She wasn’t dressed like a bag lady. But she was not dressed like anyone I ever saw in La-la Land or environs. Not that I paid much attention to stuff like that. Much. She was Caucasian, first. Probably Irish. English. One of those pale tribes. But her skin was slightly brown, as though she’d been climbing a mountain or windsurfing. You know what I mean. She had that burnished look of being outdoors a great deal. Her brown hair was pulled away from her head in those nasty Rasta braids. And she wore some kind of nondescript dress (truly) with pants on beneath it. She had a huge bag slung over her shoulders.

Come to think of it her style was a bit bag ladyish.

She looked at us with clear blue eyes and said, “You got a pool house?”

They say women are sentimental suckers. Ain’t so. Men are. Yep. They are such soft touches. Especially when it comes to women. And Hayword was no exception. I don’t mean he was leering at this woman. She was about my age. Too old to be lusting after. Too young to be tramping around. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I don’t know. She looked smart. All there. He probably figured she was just down on her luck. I figured she was selling something. And I wasn’t buyin’.

Hayword was.

“Sure, we got a pool house,” he said. “Why?” I knew then he had stepped fully into his guilt stage of the game: He wanted to do good deeds to assuage his rich guilty conscience.

“It’s not a pool house,” I said. Hayword looked at me. “It’s more of a garden house.”

“Garden?” Hayword asked.

“I’m going to put in a garden,” I said. Some freaking day I was going to put in a garden.

“So you have a garden house?” the woman asked.

The wind shifted then, and let’s just say that she was a little earthy-smelling. Musky. Sweaty. Not sweat that has turned. But that rich smell you like on your lover, not on a stranger.

“Look, Eartha,” I said, “whatever you’re selling--”

“I’m not selling,” she said. “And how did you know my name? My father nicknamed me Earth because I smelled like dirt. I added the ‘a’ just so it wouldn’t be so strange. But then people nicknamed me Eartha Kitten. I didn’t really like that. Eartha Cat I can dig. Eartha Jaguar. Eartha Cougar.” She was looking at me, but I could tell she was paying attention to my husband too. “I would like to stay in your garden house for a while,” she said. “I’m a traveller, and I need a rest.”

“Just like that?” I asked.

“In exchange,” she said. “I will do one great thing a day.”

I looked at my husband. He was smiling. A sly smile. He loved these kinds of distractions.

“Oh yeah?” he said. “What one great thing would you do today?”

“Let me see the garden house, and then I’ll decide.”

“Okay,” he said.

“Hayword,” I said. “Are you crazy?”

“Excuse us,” he said. “My wife and I need to discuss this.“ He shut the door gently on Eartha. I stood looking at him with my hands on my hips, just like some stereotypical women in some bad movie who was always ruining the fun of her infantile husband.

“Brooke,” he said. “This is gold, gold! We’re locked up in this mansion where we never experience real life. Here’s someone offering to do one great thing for us. Even if it’s just for today, don’t you want to see what it is? Just for fun.” He grinned. “Come on. In the old days, you’d walk a mile for a good time.”

“And I’d walk ten miles away from a bad time,” I said.

“Let’s just see where it goes,” he said. “Might make a good movie.”

“She could be a psychopath,” I said. “A serial killer.”

“I’ll make sure she’s not,” he said.

He opened the door again. Eartha Kitten was still standing there.

“We’ll let you do one great thing,” he said, “and then we’ll see. First, though, we need to know that you’re not a psychopath, a serial killer, or on the FBI’s most wanted list.”

“Oh good lord,” I said. “Just stamp sucker on our foreheads.”

Eartha held her bag out to Hayword. “You can check for weapons,” she said. “I am basically a nonviolent person, though.”

Hayword didn’t take the bag. Neither did I. I wondered if millions of people in the audience were screaming, “Don’t, don’t, don’t let her in, you idiot!”

She slung the pack over her shoulder again. “My name is Eartha Connolly.”

I squinted. Her real name could not be Eartha. It was just some kind of terrible coincidence.

She seemed to be waiting to hear who we were. I didn’t say a word. Hayword moved out of the way so she could come inside.

“First, the one great thing,” he said.

Eartha stepped into our house. I shook my head. He was going to learn to lock that goddamn gate if I had to shoot him to get him to remember.

Hayword led the way through the house and out the back to the pool. Eartha didn’t look to her left or her right. She was not obviously staking out the place. We walked along the pool and a bit away from the house to the garden house. Hayword opened the door and let Eartha go in first.

I stayed outside.

“Go sit by the pool,” this strange woman said. “I’ll be right out with the one great thing.” She handed Hayword her backpack. He took it this time. He looked at me and grinned. If I hadn’t been so annoyed with him, I would have laughed.

We went back to the pool and sat in the lounge chairs. Hayword started looking at manuscript pages again. I lay back and wondered if I could really put a garden somewhere back near the pool house. And I kept looking over my shoulders to see what Eartha was doing. Probably sticking our valuables under her baggy dress.

And then, she came out of the pool house--garden house--carrying two filled martini glasses. She handed one to me and the other to Hayword. I looked at the drink. It was slightly darker than any martini I had ever had. And the glass was warm. Room-temperature.

“This is your one great thing?” I asked.

“How do you know we’re not both recovering alcoholics?” Hayword said, “and this will end a decade-long dry spell.”

“If that’s the case,” she said, “you might want to do something about that garden house. If you went by the contents of the house, it should be called the liquor cabinet.”

Hayword laughed.

“There is one caveat,“ Eartha said. “You have a choice. This will be the one great thing for the day. And there are only two glasses of this drink. Once you drink it. It’s done. It’s over. I cannot make another. This one great thing will be gone forever. Do you understand?“

I frowned. I wasn’t sure I understood.

Hayword said, “Sure.“

And then he downed the martini. Just like that. I yelled his name to stop him, but it was too late. She could have poisoned it. She could have put drugs in it. She could have done anything to it. We had no idea.

“Oh man,” Hayword said. “What did you do, Eartha? Brooke, you’ve got to taste this.”

I sighed.

“She’s waiting to see if you’ll go down,” Eartha said.

“What?” Hayword asked. “Oh.” He laughed. “I don’t think she poisoned it.”

I smelled the drink. The scent of juniper went up my nostrils and seemed to tickle my brain a bit. I closed my eyes, carefully brought the glass up to my lips, and took a sip.

For a moment, I thought I was in a forest. I could smell the pine trees. I could feel the slight chill of the snow on the floor of the forest. And somewhere, someone was brewing hot chocolate.

The martini had a slight sweet taste of chocolate.

“Just the right amount of gin and vermouth,” Hayword said. “And maybe lemon? I love lemon. Or orange. I wish I had savored it. That is a continual lesson for me to learn. Savor, savor, savor.”

I took another sip.

It was the best drink I had ever tasted.

I held my glass out to Hayword.

“No,” Eartha said. “One each. That’s yours.”

“Do you want the rest of it?” I asked.

“I don’t drink,” she said. “So do we have a deal?”

Hayword looked at me. I looked back at him. “I want to see some ID,” he said. “And then we’ll take it one day at a time. One great thing at a time.”

“Good,” she said.

Hayword stood and reached out his hand to her. “I’m Hayword,” he said, “and this is Brooke.”

“Nice to meet you,” she said. “And now, I’ve been walking for a long while. I’d like to rest.”

“I’ll show you where everything is,” Hayword said.

He picked up her pack and together they went into the garden house. I sat in my lounge chair looking at the martini. It was absolutely the best thing I had ever drank. I suddenly felt like that little boy in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe who just wants more of the magical Turkish delight the White Witch feeds him. I wanted to keep drinking this liquid forever. I felt so relaxed after two sips. Happy. Contented. I wanted more. And more.

I stared at the gulp of drink left in the bottom of the glass.

Who did she think she was creating something like this and only making enough for two drinks?

I was no Edmund Peevish in Narnia. Or whatever his name was. And she wasn’t the White Witch.

I tossed the rest of the drink in the straggly bush next to me.

I gasped. What had I done?

I stared at the bush and licked my lips.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Church of the Old Mermaids is NOW Available!

IT'S HERE! IT'S HERE! IT'S HERE! You can now buy Church of the Old Mermaids on Let's prove to everyone that books of beauty have a place in the publishing world. Remember I was told that "your books are beautiful and meaningful and people don't won't buy those kinds of books and you will never make a living." I want to prove that statement wrong for every person who just loves a good beautiful story!

And it is a good story and they're great characters. The best publicity any author can have is word of mouth. So spread the word! And all of you who have offered to be part of the Old Mermaids Tour, thank you, thank you, thank you! I am so grateful. I will get back with you as soon as I have an idea about when it can all happen. Later on, I'll figure out some kind of deal for book groups, maybe buying multiple copies through me. But first I wanted to get the word out! Also, I'm building the Church of the Old Mermaids page on my website. Go there and wander about. Love, love, love!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Coming Soon!

Church of the Old Mermaids will soon be available on! I'm so excited. Fourteen days and counting. Finally, finally, finally. I'll let you know as soon as it goes up. Dancin' in the streets!!!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Soul Sisters and Brothers

Today we stood on the bridge that spans the place where we get our drinking water. From there, we gazed down into the rust-colored water and watched the salmon swim upstream. Watched them seemingly stay in place. Can you imagine the energy it takes to stay still against all that water pressure? They are profoundly beautiful. Movingly beautiful. Their blood-colored scales gleamed when they came up out of the water. Gleamed except in those places where the body had begun to decay. Had they spawned yet?

They swim, swim, swim toward home. These were wild salmon, every one one of them. No hatchery salmon these. How glorious to keep going no matter what. A bald eagle flew overhead looking for a meal. We counted seventeen salmon.

Later, we stood along the roadside and gazed at dozens of Tundra Swans. Cars raced by. I shuddered and watched the swans float on Franz Lake. And I listened to their soothing songs. How can I describe it? It sounds as if they are trying to calm down their children. Oooooh ooooooh. It's okay, it's okay. All will be well.

Thank you, sisters and brothers. I hear and understand you.

May You Fly in Beauty!

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

And So It Goes...

We're sitting in our living room on a Sunday night. I'm looking right at the Old Mermaid on the wall. Ain't she beautiful? Mario is sitting on the floor making a box for a writing project he is doing. We're listening to some XM radio station called Spa. It's New Age music. I know what you're thinking. Isn't that close to musak? Well, no. But yes. No, it's real music and it is strangely soothing to my always over-hyped-up nervous system. Understand that every few minutes I switch it to the Led Zeppelin station. All Led all the time. One sound makes my ears bleed, and the other sound tells me it's all good that my ears are bleeding. The complete experience.

Had an interesting last few days. On Thursday, I went to lead a teen book club discussion of Broken Moon at one of the area libraries. Ordinarily I love going to these things. I like being with the kids, like hearing what they're saying, what they're reading, what's going on. I had a list of questions in case the discussion got stalled near the end of the hour.

I got there at 4:00 p.m. I started talking about 4:05. By 4:10, I was looking at those questions. There were eight teens and they hardly said a word. I was stumped, I was stymied, I was flummoxed. They sat there with their arms folded staring at me. The two boys talked a bit, and one of the girls said a couple of things. I didn't know what was up. I didn't know if they didn't like the book or they didn't like me or if it had something to do with the full moon. It was an excruciating hour.

When I was finished, I hurried outside. It was pitch dark, and I couldn't find my glasses which I need for driving at night. I was in a strange place, in the dark, and I wasn't sure I could see to get home safely. But I got in the car and started home anyway. (Only made a few wrong turns. Don't you all feel safer now?)

Friday morning I drove into Portland to teach the Faery Shamanism class. I was very excited and glad to do it. Almost the full class showed up. I told them what had happened the night before and said that I hoped the same thing wouldn't happen this morning. It didn't. I think I did all right, although I wasn't as articulate as I used to be. When I was a teacher and then when I was a branch librarian, I talked with people every day—I mean really talked. Had discussions. Had to present my ideas in a coherent way. I was good at it. After fifteen years of pretty much talking to no one except my characters (and Mario) on a daily basis, I have to learn those skills all over again. Who knew they could get rusty.

But I talked, they talked, I taught them the fath fith (the Celtic invisibility charm) and I taught them a Celtic way to lift an enchantment. They read me poems. We listened to music. We talked about words. And for the last hour, we moved away the chairs and tables, set up a sacred space on the floor, and I drummed while they journeyed. It was a very enjoyable four hours.

After class, I went to Stillmeadow for the weekend to learn an African grief ritual. (The teacher, Sobonfu, is from a small village in Africa.) We built a grief shrine, ancestor shrine, and forgiveness shrine. We built the grief shrine mostly from cedar branches. It was quite a project. We went out onto the land and got the branches (with prayers from us asking permission from the trees). We then brought the branches into the building and wove them together to make the shrine which looked like a teepee made from branches with the front open.

After we got to know each other and our sad stories, the ritual began. People went up to the grief shrine and expressed their grief. There was wailing, screaming, crying. Sometimes as I danced and sang, I wondered what the hell I was doing there. Once when I went up to the shrine, I heard someone yelling next to me, and I thought, "I am amongst crazy people. In fact, I am a crazy people." And I started to laugh. I covered my face so no one could hear or see me laughing. I wondered if I'd be stoned for laughing at a grief shrine. For the first two days, I was skeptical of the entire process. I already feel bad. How could feeling bad help relieve my badness feels? And, come on: I'm a little Irish girl. We don't start wailing until we've had large amounts of alcohol.

We weren't allowed alcohol, sugar, or caffeine. Since I don't ingest any of those things normally anyway, I had a little easier time than some of the other people there. By the end of the weekend, the ritual all came together beautifully, and suprisingly, I was laughing and telling jokes.

The idea is that we are a community. We shouldn't hide our grief from one another. We need to witness for each other. And once we feel our grief, the grief will drain away and we will fill up with joy—until something happens and we need to express our grief again. In our culture, we aren't encouraged to express any emotions, really, and certainly not grief. People are rewarded for not expressing their grief. "Oh, look how well she is handling it. She's so dignified." Etc.

When I got home this afternoon, a woman we know was raking leaves at the church across the street. I went over to say hello, and I learned that Evine's sister had died while I was out of town. I called her as soon as I got into the house. The memorial is on Wednesday. I doubt that anyone will wail. And we will be the poorer for it. But I hope I can use my new skills to support Evine in her grieving process.

I hope this makes sense. It is late and I is tired.

May You Wail, Dance, and Drum in Beauty!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cats & Dogs

It is pissing down pouring down rain. It has rained so much in the last forty-eight hours that I'm looking for the Ark. I'm telling ya! We kept waking up last night as the wind shook the house. The electricity came and went. It's been a howling time. And then today, I decided to go see a movie. In this torrential downpour. Not too bright this kid sometimes.

I have eight billion things to do, but this lethargy has got quite a grip on me, so Mario suggested a movie. I was going to see the Secret Life of Bees but I didn't want to sit through fifteen minutes of commercials so I went to see Changeling which was just starting. I thought it was a movie about a woman whose son disappears. It is ostensibly about the woman, but the boy disappears because a serial killer takes him. The movie is based on a famous Los Angeles serial killer case from 1928—a case I knew nothing about because I LOATHE movies or books about those kinds of things. So here I was trying to assuage my depression and I'm sitting alone in a movie theater trying to cover my ears and eyes while some guy is wielding an axe: on children, no less! I was going to leave, but I kept waiting for redemption because I didn't want to go out into the dark and the rain by myself after seeing that. But nothing redeeming happened.

I don't think I've seen a single Clint Eastwood movie I actually liked. Did not like Unforgiven. HATED Million Dollar Baby. I recognize his films are well made, but I'm often bored or, more often, I just don't like the viewpoint all these films seem to have: Life is really shitty and people behave really badly. Period. This all may be true, but I want something different from films and books. I want more than reality. How to explain it? I want beauty. I'm thinking of the movie El Norte, about Mayan peasants coming to the United State illegally. Terrible things happen in that movie. But I remember the heartbreaking aching beauty of it all. Yes, we suffer and we die, but we also live and there are moments when we live in beauty. And the movie had touches of magical realism.

You might think then that I like Pan's Labyrinth because it had some of that Latin American magical realism too. I hated Pan's Labyrinth. Yes, I did. I didn't believe the mythology; it didn't seem true to me. It didn't feel as though it was rooted in real folklore. There is a difference in what someone makes up from their leetle brain and when someone creates a story that has roots in mythology and folklore. For instance, Hans Christian Anderson completely made up The Little Mermaid, I think. Little Mermaid seems silly, to me. Like a Hollywood romance. The Little Mermaid wants to give up the sea and live with her guy. No! In folklore, the women are longing to get back to the sea or the forest, the mountains. Or they find restoration in the forest, like Silver Hands does. Her hands actually grow back once she's been in the wild long enough. And the Swan Maiden and the Selkie go back into the sky and the sea respectively once they've regained their stolen power.

Even if the mythology of the movie was rooted in "real" folklore, I didn't believe it.

And it seemed like the director of Pan's Labyrinth was a little too into torture. That always turns me off. Then again, I liked Hellboy II, which was directed by the same director as Pan's Labyrinth. I've always been a sucker for Ron Perlman.

I babble.

I'm leading a teen discussion of my book Broken Moon tomorrow at the Battle Ground library. Then on Friday I'm teaching Faery Shamanism at PCC. Should be interesting. And then this weekend I'm going to a workshop on grief. Learning how to express and let go of grief as a community. Here's hoping the rain stops soon or I'm going to have to learn how to grieve being cold, wet, and miserable.

Hasta la vista, babies.

Read more here...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Another Kind of Hurricane

A couple of days ago, I was at the library commiserating with my fellow library employees, each of us wondering if we were going to be laid off, worrying about all those people who are going to get laid off, wondering how this is all going to turn out. And one of the women said, "Kim, remember Ruby." I didn't understand what she meant. I knew she had read Ruby's Imagine and loved it.

"This is just a different kind of hurricane," she said. I nodded. "You're right. We've got to stick together and support one another." Just like Ruby and her friends did. Of course, I'm not sure how we'd do that. We can't pay people's medical insurance. We can't pay their mortages. What does it really mean to support one another during these times?

I wonder if a ruby-colored butterfly warned me this big spin was comin' and I just didn't realize it. Maybe I was paying attention to the wrong signs and listening to the wrong experts. I've got to remember Ruby's vision. She saw the world as it was and imagined it as it could be. She walked in Beauty, dreamed in Beauty, loved in Beauty. I shall endeavor to do the same.

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Go here to read about what we did at the Old Mermaids playshop this weekend.

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Friday, November 7, 2008


Turn off the teevee. Don't listen to the naysayers. Go forward with hope, determination, and a plan. And go here and look at this sequence of photos. Kind of "says" it all. (via Will)

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Old Mermaids Tour Plotting Begins...

Go here for more info.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cool Map

Cool real time map. Just move pointer onto the state and get the stats. Use tabs at the top to find out about prez, Senate, House of Reps. Or click on the state and you'll can get info by counties.

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I Was Young

I was young when George Dubya got into office. And then I got old. Tonight as I danced around the house singing, "Ding dong, Bush is gone, Bush is gone!" and as I leaned outside into the rain and yelled "Yeah!! Obama! Obama!" I felt young again. I feel hopeful that the sniping, the selfishness, and the aggression will give way to compassion and unity. We will imagine the world we want and then we will build it.


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Bites the Dust

Just got home after being in Vancouver and Portland most of the day. Turned on da teevee right away. Now every time we hear another Republican has been defeated, we turn on Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust." I am in joyful anticipation that we may soon get our country back. The loooonnnng freaking national nightmare may be over. And then the difficult work will begin: Building up (better than before) what they have so assiduously destroyed. But it's still too soon to celebrate. Crossing my fingers and toes.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Samhain, Part Two

What follows is a long description of our Hallows ceremony. If you're not interested in the Invisibles or ritual, you might want to skip this post. I put in a little more detail than I ordinarily do in case any of you want to try this at home.

"When we dream alone, it is only a dream, but when we dream together, it is the beginning of a new reality." —Unknown Author

About midday, I wondered once again what the hell I was doing as I prepared for the Hallows celebration at the Old Mermaids Sanctuary. I had had little sleep over the past couple of nights, and I was starting to get a little cranky. Still, when I finally dragged myself out of bed, I spent part of the morning dancing around the house skyclad. I really think everyone should begin at least some of their mornings dancing around the house nekked.

Then I cleaned the house, did laundry, made dal, made marinated rice salad, decorated, started the ancestors altar. Got a headache. Had company. The company was a nice break, actually. She told me an interesting dream she had had complete with a shapeshifting donkey with a blue vine and a hummingbird that was a kami. Kamis are Japanese god/goddesses/spirits. (Her mother is Japanese.) I'd never heard of a kami, so that piqued my interest. I pulled out a bunch of my mythology books, and we looked at pictures of goddesses, read about hummingbirds, and tried to find info about kamis. Talked. Mario stopped by during his break.

After she left, I went back to preparing for our ceremony. People here are notoriously bad about RSVPing even when you ask them to, so I didn't know how many people were coming. I was hoping it would be a small group. I put tea lights in tiny cauldrons and candle holders outside to illuminate the way for our guests. At 6:00 p.m. when the gathering officially started, it began pouring down pissing down rain. All the candles were immediately drowned, except for one. It flared and burned for quite a long time.

People began arriving between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. One woman was dressed as a fairy. She wore red crinoline and fairy wings. Someone else was dressed as a kind of Earth mother autumnal goddess with a blue moon crescent on her forehead and a crown of leaves on her head. Another woman wore a beautiful red mask with a long orange dress. (I know; I should have taken photos.) Mario wore a mask made from leaves that our friend Michelle made. Another woman was dressed in belly-dancing clothes with a faux leopard shirt, purple crinoline, faux leopard hat, purple wig, and these glorious strange sunglasses. I dressed as a relaxed witch shaman Kim person, with a purple witch hat, pouches, and a long summer dress. Another woman was dressed as as hippie, complete with peace signs painted on her face.

I loved it! After a bit we settled down to start the ceremony. First we called in the directions and elements. We started in the East. Normally I would call in the directions, but instead I asked the people sitting in the East to say something nice about the East and about Air. They did. Then we moved on to the South and Fire, West and Water, North and Earth, what is Above and Below.

Then we went to the heart of the ceremony. First they each picked an animal card from the Medicine Card deck. (Eventually they would travel with the power animal to an ancestor. They would thank the ancestor and then ask for a gift to bring back to someone in the circle. Then they would ask the ancestor if there was some kind of service request they could bring back for someone in the circle. So everyone would get a gift and everyone would be asked to do something for the community.)

Aside. Now here's one of those funny coincidences—or gifts of the Invisibles: I told Mario about my ceremony plans a few days ago. I said I wanted to let each person take their Medicine Card home with them, but I didn't really want to break up my deck. Well, Saturday morning, the morning of the ceremony, someone donated a used pack of Medicine Cards to the Friends of the Library. The woman even brought it up to the desk so that Mario saw it, rather than just putting it in the barrel! Mario called me from work, amazed, and asked if I wanted it. Of course! So he bought it from the Friends of the Library and brought it home.

So I took those cards out and everyone blindly picked one. Once we had our power animals we drummed and danced. The nine of us spread out so that we were dancing and drumming in the living room and my room. (Our little rented house has a strange setup. It's really one huge room with a staircase running through it. Not the best feng shui, I know.) In the past, drumming with people who are not accustomed to drumming has not really been that successful. For instance, the drumming at our Healers Circle has been a little lackluster. But tonight I encouraged them to dance their animal and to make noise. Perhaps being dressed as fairies, goddesses, hippies, and witches allowed people to relax and go for it. Which they did!

When we finished drumming, I turned out the lights. I instructed them to imagine their true self, the one who is full of herself, who knows and understands her true power. For me, I always imagine myself like in the photograph of me on my banner here on my blog. (I'm at Horsethief Lake State Park where the pictographs are, near to She Who Watches. I am open and powerful.) Then I asked the group to each merge with their true self.

Next I asked them to have their power animal give them some protection. The power animal might lick them or surround them with light mesh that kept away harm or do something else that was protective. My power animal taps the top of my head and a kind of egg of purple light envelops me.

I then had them imagine walking down five steps with their power animal. I told them at the bottom of the steps they would find a threshold and beyond that threshold was an ancestor who had volunteered to come and talk with them.

Another aside here. When I talk about ancestors, I don't mean an ancestor like the creepy Uncle Jack you never liked who died last year. I remember when I first started doing this work, I thought, “but my ancestors were all a bunch of depressed drunks; I don't want to honor them or talk to them.” And then two things happened. One, I realized that when we speak of "our ancestors" we're talking about everything on this planet that has lived and then died—everyone that has become dust at our feet: the flora, fauna, the stars. Jesus, Buddha, Emily Dickinson, and the Big Old Oak are all my ancestors. And I realized that for any faults my blood ancestors may have had, they did something very valuable: They survived and because of that, I live. Once I had that realization, all dread and judgment for them slipped away and I just felt profound gratitude for my life and compassion for them and their lives. So I explained to the group that anyone could show up as their ancestor. They might see someone they knew or they might not. They might not see anyone; they might just hear something.

Once they crossed the threshold and saw the ancestor, I instructed them to thank the ancestor. Then ask the ancestor for a gift to bring back to the group. After they understood what that gift was, I told them to ask the ancestor if there was anything we could do to help our communities.

Another aside. This is the thing about the Invisibles: They are not omnipotent or omniscient. Sandra Ingerman says that we are co-creators with them. I like that idea. Instead of walking around with our hands out all the time petitioning, we might instead say, "What can I do?" I think this is so true about so many aspects of our lives. We need to step up as much as we can and take responsibility for our lives and communities.

They then had time to talk with the ancestor. They could ask them if they were able to help make the election go smoothly and for the good of all. And then they said good-bye, walked over the threshold, came up the steps, and returned to our living room.

I turned on the light then and they each wrote on a white slip of paper what the gift was. On an orange slip of paper, they wrote the act of service. Then we dropped them into my mother's green bowl. Each person picked an orange piece of paper and a white one. Then we went around the room and told each other what our gifts for the year were.

There were some interesting “coincidences.” My gift was "clarity," which is what Mario got from his ancestor to bring back to the group. His gift was "love," which was what my ancestor gave me to bring back. One person's ancestor for the journey was Daniel Boone. This person was a bit reluctant to mention this. (And someone else had a character from a movie. What I said is that we never know what clothes the Invisibles will wear.) As soon as the one woman mentioned Daniel Boone, another woman said, "I’m related to Daniel Boone's wife." And then another woman said, "I'm related to Daniel Boone!" So whatever that means, we had some Daniel Boone energy goin’ on!

My gift of service was "love one another." That's an easy gift of service I can give—I think. We'll see how the year unfolds. Some of the gifts of service were specific: mow your lawn, send a card to someone in a nursing home, save the Gorge from development, and others were like mine.

Afterward we ate and talked. One of the women showed us how to "fluff our auras." I've never been quite sure what an aura is, but I was willing to fluff and be fluffed. And actually, I could feel something on my hands as I was fluffing, kind of like when you're doing Tai Chi or Kum Ye yoga and you feel pressure or energy on your hands. Mostly it was a kick looking around the room and seeing these beautifully and exotically dressed people fluffing and being fluffed.


Four of us sat around talking after most everyone had gone. Then we each pulled a card from the Healing Poetry Deck and read them out loud. (I can't remember if I told you all about that. Eight of us from the Celtic Shamanism group put together a deck of healing poetry that we wrote. It's really beautiful. We're going to get a website up soon. We've sold the first 100 decks, and now we're working on the next batch.)

Then Mario and I were alone. We dreaded going into the kitchen, but we finally did. Some little (or big) faery had done the dishes.

I emptied the food from the ancestor plate into a paper bowl someone had left, and I carried it out to the crossroads and left it for the spirits, the faeries, and/or the wild things.

And then I went to sleep and dreamed.

This morning I went out to get the cauldrons and candle holders. All are partially filled with water now, except for one. Remember I mentioned that one candle burned bright during the downpour? The flame had shivered and flared up in the rain, wobbling like a dextrous bellydancer. Apparently at some point, the heat shattered the thick glass and now it lay in three pieces on the grass. Earth, fire, and water all there on display. My teachers who work with the Dakinis might speculate that this was a blessing from the Dakinis. My Celtic teachers might murmur, "Ahhh, the power of three." Someone else might say, "It was just a clash of fire and water and the glass lost." I'm sure I could calculate how hot the flame would have had to have been to shatter the glass. But in the end, as my friend Will says, "It's all one thing."

May You Celebrate in Beauty!

Below is the ancestor altar built on my dad's quilts.

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All work copyright © Kim Antieau 2008-.