New Relationship with Land – Fiona

Horse Camp 8/4/19
As Bill and I have settled onto this 2.8 acres of family land in Mount Shasta, we have begun to sense that this land called us here to bring us healing and so we can bring it healing. This week, that understanding deepened through the example of two women. Each of them live in harmony with all living beings in a way I have not experienced before. To honor each, I will make this a two-part series.

The first is Fiona, who is a tangible expression of my archetype of “Woman of the Mountain.” She invited me to her home and to walk the 5 acres she cares for. It was a transforming experience. What had been ideas and concepts of honoring the other living beings of an area were brought into a vivid, solid expression.

Her home is small, and contains a few simple possessions. It has modern electricity and plumbing, but does not support internet, television, cellphone or other electronic devices. Instead, there are rooms with large windows to let in the light. There are lovely items which reflect the integration of her spiritual practice and love of music into the heart of her life. There are also a number of features to support her cat and honor its need for quiet, safety, and nourishment. This animal is her friend, companion and housemate.

Beyond her doorway, there is a natural mountain hillside, with minimally cleared pathways winding through it. These paths feel more borrowed from the hillside, with large roots and lower manzanita branches continuing their growth across it. This small maze of trails and sub-pathways is part of the human and cat domain, shared with fox and bobcat, deer, squirrel and bear, and dozens of other winged, four-legged, creepers and slithering ones.

One place where my theory was confronted with a more potent practice was in her care for the mice who visit the outbuildings. These little ones are treated with deep kindness and affection. They are trapped in a spacious cage, with a built-in water supply. The next morning, this is moved to the protection of the shed, and they are given breakfast and left there to rest for an hour so they can calm down and eat. Next, they are transported several miles away to a spot with a small stream of water, so they can settle into a new habitat with all they need to survive. I had thought I understood “humane trapping of mice,” until I saw this true relationship with the creatures.

Fliona has asked that I house and cat sit early next summer. I will visit her and her cat often, to learn the land and let my relationship with her cat develop. I will also continue my inward transformation so that when I am there, I will honor the heart and spirit of the place as well as provide basic care.

I have long journeyed to “Woman on the Mountain,” in my shamanic practice. It is an important image of my future-self who has learned to live in harmony with Mount Shasta and Black Butte and this whole region – and with all the living beings of this area. This future me is calm and confident because she has deep relationships with land, rock, tree,animals, birds, moon, sunshine and stars.

As you can see, the Seen tangible expressions of life weave together with the Unseen mysteries of the oneness of all living beings. As a result, I am discovering that “all living beings,” includes all that shares the elements of the Earth with me — all of soil, water, air, fire, vapor — in their amazing variety of expressions. There is life in us all, as well as spirit and wisdom and the desire for harmony.

I will continue to describe the new depths of these relationships and connections in my next article.

(For this article I have used a pseudonym for my friend to honor her privacy.)

Photo of Nancy on her 61st birthday at Horse Camp trail head.

Life is Not All Petting Bunnies

bunnyThis was what I was told in a recent journey to one of my teachers in the Unseen world. I’m finding it to be very true.

We have nearly come full circle from the time we made the decision to release our 3-bedroom rental house and it’s lifestyle. In a month, we will pass the one year point since the end of my work as a bookbinder. So many changes, and not all of them “petting bunnies.”

This life calls for a great deal of honesty with myself and about myself. I can not sink into the relationship with nature; with all living beings; with my deepest sense of calling, if I am hiding out from myself and others. One of the impacts of paring things back in my life is that when I find something I am unwilling to let go of, there is something important hiding behind it.

My bookbinding equipment still sits in a storage area, which is costing us a monthly rental fee that our budget can no longer support. Yet, I have limited my attempts to sell it to people connected with the bookbinding schools in this region. I was talking with Bill this morning and finally found the courage to explore why.

My bookbinding business failed. I had given myself fully to learning the skills to both create hand bound books and journals, and to do complex book repairs. I had gathered more and more materials, papers and equipment. I tried new craft fair settings, and extending the hours I spent in this work. But the business failed. In fact it failed to the point that we are now going through bankruptcy because of the debts it accumulated. That sense of failure and the accompanying shame keep that equipment and materials locked up in the dark.

I had designed a scenario in my mind of finding the right young bookbinding student, and having my equipment go to helping them set up their studio. I wanted to have a story of generosity. I wanted to pretend that leaving bookbinding was part of the natural flow of moving toward motor home living. What I am learning is that all of this is hard to admit, but vital to my story. If I am going to stay honest about the challenges of this life (and its promises), I need to share deeply.

This is made easier by a TED talk Bill found yesterday. Brene Brown spoke for 20 minutes about Vulnerability , it is liberating. She points out that while vulnerability is at the base of many of our fears and much of our shame, it is also the fundamental basis for creativity, joy and whole-hearted living. Failure is part of life as we give ourselves to commitments, relationships, or projects with all of who we are. We have to launch ourselves into that flight of creative possibility, without reservation or fear. It is not that we are being unreasonable, it is just that we are letting our heart propel our life.

I would never trade the life I have now for a return to a successful bookbinding business. I would not trade my hours of walking the trails, journeying for wisdom to ancestors, and singing for the healing of the Earth, for endless hours in a bookbinding studio creating the most incredible books.

This land and this mountain have claimed me. We have been asked to remain here on this 3 acres of land, to care for it and for an aged cabin for Bill’s sister. Our home on wheels is a strong shelter providing all we need. We have food and some of the cleanest water on the planet. We have just enough in the bank to make the monthly bills, while the generosity of the Universe continues to flow to us in amazing ways.

Our small home keeps me growing in my intimate relationship with rain and wind, phases of the moon and song of morning birds. It is a strong reliable shelter for our living. My devotion to living for the healing of the Earth and All Her Children deepens every day. It is not all petting bunnies, but the transforming flow of life keeps showing me flowers.

P.S. – The bookbinding equipment is now up on Craig’s List.

Sixty-First Birthday

IMG_5236A year ago, I took a transformative birthday hike which gave a surge of flow to some things we were already considering and brought to life others. I shared that experience in my post “Birthday Hike.” At that time much was still unformed, theoretical, and experimental in the unfolding of a human life, lived in harmony with nature. I did not know then what it meant to live an Earth-Centered life, in the service of the Earth and all living beings. It has been an amazing year.

Last year, after my birthday hike, I returned to a rented 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house that was tucked up on the north face of a wooded hillside. The house was enfolded by Dogwoods, Pines, Cedars and Manzanita. The outside critters were pets, having been fed by hand by the previous tenant. We too were tame, throwing out apple and seed in the evenings and watching chipmunk and squirrel; blue jay and deer gather for this staged encounter. Our sky was very narrow, leaving the house in the shade much of the year, and yielding little of moon or starlight.

IMG_5553This year, I returned to our 30-foot long Winnebago motor home, and its lovely small shower. It sits in a meadow-like setting with a dozen or so adolescent pine trees at the near side of the 3 acres. We look out at the cinder form of Black Butte, with the silhouettes of trees marking its outline against the sky. The canopy of the heavens is wide open to bring sunshine through the days and the shifting patterns of moonlight across the nights. The Milky Way stretches leisurely across the sky when the moon is young, and the sun appears at a slightly different point on the mountain side each morning.

There are deer and hare; chipmunk and lizard; sparrow, hawk, golden eagle and swallow in the meadow. I saw a long, thin gray snake one day, and we chased a coyote away one night because it was disturbing our near neighbor’s dog. We still water a small area near the motor home, and scatter some seed for the smaller birds. I have set up a small tub of water near the far fence, sheltering it between bushes and overhanging it with dried manzanita to provide a safe place for the smaller creatures to drink. They are all shy and wild and wonderful.

Last summer, much of my time was spent trying to enliven my bookbinding and book repair business. I put in more hours, went to more craft fairs and took on more challenging repair projects. It didn’t work. The business died beneath me and, in releasing my identity as a bookbinder, the last obstacle was removed from shifting to a full-time motor home life. By December the equipment and supplies were in storage. All of those materials are now seeking a new set of hands to put them back to their intended use of making beautiful books. I hope that my ads with several bookbinding schools will catch the eye and imagination of a new bookbinder.

The practical challenges of living as two individuals in a small home are finding their own solutions. We are playing with our schedule to allow times for independent function. We find true appreciation of the good food, beautiful surroundings, comfortable home and freedom to live simply in relationship with one another and with the Earth, which this home on wheels supports. We are each following our own unique path in ways very different from all of the shared work we have done in the past. We are encouraging each other in our self-understandings that I am more of a mystic than I had realized and Bill is very much the wise elder and mountain hermit.

I had been doing Shamanic Journey for over a year when I turned 60. I had completed a couple of courses on line with Sandra Ingerman and Don Oscar Miro-Quesada. I had met my power animals and journeyed to several places of healing in the Unseen world. Images and messages from this journey work provided guidance, encouragement and vision for the transition that took on its practical form in the late fall.

This year, nourished by many more shamanic journeys, hikes in amazing natural beauty, and continued learning from my teachers, I have settled into this as my path and work. The transformation of the World requires the dreaming into being of that transformation. What takes form in ordinary reality must first be envisioned, tended and drawn through from the Unseen World. This is not the work of my human will, but as a living channel of the loving, healing, creative energy of the Sacred Source flowing through me. My work is to deepen my relationship with the creating heart of the Earth/Source/Creator through experiencing it in my shamanic journeys and chanting.

I hope to be able to weave together a book of the threads – images and insights I can bring back from the Unseen to the Seen expression of Life. I can not describe this work well, but I know the feeling in my core – the focus of my consciousness, my life, my love in celebrating the sacredness of the Earth and her expression in all living beings. The dedication has moved from theory to daily practice, and is now supported by a teacher and shamanic drumming circle here in Mount Shasta.

Over the months ahead we will each continue to discover how to share our gifts with others.  I will do my work for the benefit of all, as all shamanic work has always been done. I will write when the words flow, or when a poem wakes me from sleep. I will send honor, respect, balance, clarity and harmony out into the world with every step I take in my hiking. I will discipline my mind, so that my thoughts are adding light, love and renewal to the Web of Life.

You are always free to come to this website and follow my unfolding life path. Please, share this with others who you feel would enjoy the journey. If you find that it resonates with your being, please explore your own ways of connecting with the Light, Love and Life of the Sacred Source. I would love to hear from you about what you discover along the way.

(The photos are of Black Butte to show how it towers above us here, and the tree line up the southern slope.)

Life Flowing with Shuffles

IMG_5081
“I do nothing. It is more difficult than it sounds,” responded one of my companions from the Strolling Bears. I had asked how she connects with the mystery that runs deep within life. “I allow Life to live,” she continued, tipping her head to one side. “It takes awareness and patient attention to catch the current of where it is flowing.” It was an unexpected response and one that fed my thoughts as we hiked along the trail beside a rushing river coming down from Mount Shasta.

The scene was amazing. Dancing rapids and singing river to the right. Hillsides of moss- covered rock which were home to layers of small plants, wild flowers and grasses of all sizes and shapes. They made a tapestry of varied shades of green with pink, yellow and purple bright threads woven in. Above, there was a blue sky with gentle breeze to ease the heat. Below, a rock and packed soil path, narrow enough to keep me focused on “just this step.”

We had lunch overlooking a small waterfall, little more than a series of rapids with their own waves splashing back into other bowls of rock. On the return, we paused to soak our feet in the icy waters and laughed at the complexity of getting out of and back into socks and hiking boots. I had remained alone, toward the back of the group, most of the hike, and it was great to have this companionship of cold toes and river-water moistened hair.

IMG_1710There is a picture of me, one sock in my fingers and a butterfly resting on the back of my hand, licking salt and water from my skin. That butterfly visited each of us, resting on hand or finger for a leisurely rest. When we got ready to leave, it landed on the back of my head and rode there for about a quarter of a mile, sipping river water and tapping my scalp with its long tongue. My mind played with the idea of a butterfly symbolizing transformation, and me carrying it along, coming up with,  “I am a vehicle for transformation.”

When my friend had left me and the weariness of being 3.2 miles into a 4 mile hike began to set in, life turned again. I came around a corner in the trail and my three companions were talking with a young hiker from the Pacific Crest Trail. She was looking for a ride out into town. My fatigue eased and I chatted with her as we returned to our car. She is from New Zealand, completing California sections of the PCT she could not do last year due to fires and smoke in this area.

What started as a ride to town ended up with her being our cabin guest for the night. She was delighted with the shower and a place to unfold her sleeping bag and sleep through the afternoon. Bill made one of his famous pasta sauces and we added chocolate cake for dessert. Dinner was enjoyed sitting outside our motor home, sharing stories and book recommendations back and forth. Her perspectives as a 20+ from a “tiny country on the bottom of the world” meshed seamlessly with our 60+ perspective on living simply here. She spoke of living on the trail; waking in the night and seeing spiders on the outside of her tent, having her tent blow over on top of her, walking long hours on road portions of the trail that beat your legs and tire you whole body. She also shared the joys of seeing bear and snake, stars and eagles, and making friends along the way. We spoke of the freedom of living in our home on wheels and our appreciation for our place here at the edge of a meadow with pine trees, with Black Butte as the backdrop. What a wonderful gift.

The next morning I got to spend more time with Shuffles (her trail name) driving her to the segment of the PCT near Dunsmuir she needed to complete. I came back to pick her up and set her on her way toward Burney Falls. It was great watching her walk off, big pack comfortably on her back – one who loves to hike and is living her dream.

I could not have imagined a more lovely two days in my life. Why would I feel that there is something I am seeking, something more that I need to discover? Life, when allowed to flow where it will, makes it perfect to be carried by its marvelous currents.

 

Coming Back Into Focus

IMG_E4828I can not even begin to explain the blending of factors that has led me to fall silent these past six months. I am still watching as Grandmother weaves together the mixture of threads of my life transition to give some form to the experience. I know that it is more complex than I could have imagined. I know Bill and I went straight against all we knew about the ways in which multiple changes add to the stress on the body and mind. I know that we were blessed beyond measure by our family; the Spirit of the Huachuca Mountains and San Pedro Valley; the living beings that surrounded us; and the help of those in the unseen world. I also know that it will take time for me to integrate our winter in the desert. I will share that process with you as it takes a more solid shape.

For now, I want to return to the blog as I return to our home on the skirts of Mount Shasta. We have come back in our motorhome, Brego, and are living about one mile and a world away from where be began on December 1 of last year. Brego has become home in a deep and stable way. I am familiar with the rituals of folding out the bed and spreading out the blankets when it is time to sleep. There is a pattern for washing and rinsing dishes to put a minimum of soap and food particles onto the land. I fill jugs of water from the faucet for our drinking water and other uses for the time being, while Bill solves the issue of air in the fresh water pump. We take wash tub baths and try to do part of our laundry by hand. In sum, we are finding how to live congruently with this home and in harmony within our natural environment.

We just returned from our first “unplugged” camping experience up along the McCloud River. Our original plan had been a very brief touching down with our son and his family, and then out into the open lands doing dry camping (without electric and water hook-ups). But somehow life had other plans. The connection with family was one of the threads in our weaving of this new chapter of our lives. The time we spent with them extended through the winter and the dry camping just never came into place.

One week after getting back to home territory we found the time was right. The weather was perfect. We were in Fowler Campground –  a lovely area right at the edge of the river between the Lower and Middle Falls of the McCloud River. This has been a wet and snowy winter and so the falls and river are especially captivating. I hiked for hours each of the four days we were there and Bill combined writing, hiking and gathering wood for our morning and evening fires. We had the sense that this was the life we came out to experience. This is what we are walking toward so we can more fully appreciate and serve the web of life. For me, it was a settling back in with cherished land.

I feel like I am just waking up from a complex, beautiful and disorienting dream. My practices of greeting the day, and doing shamanic journey and ceremony were present in Arizona, but somehow they were sharing my attention with a great deal of learning, living and adjusting. Now there is a sweet feeling of asking permission to sink back into the amazing energy field and companionship of Mount Shasta and all the expressions of nature here. The practical aspects of life continue their pull, but here it is the devotion to the healing of the Earth and All Her Children which promise to fill my days.

 

On the Outside!

IMG_4272I had one of those moments the other morning when suddenly the perspective shifts and everything changes form. The wisdom that dropped in months ago suddenly makes perfect sense.

It happened during my morning ritual of watching the new day dawn. I was looking at the colors dance in the clouds across the valley, gazing past widely spaced cottonwood trees, and over grasslands. Then something sprang into focus that has been right here all along. It is the small swimming pool surrounded by a concrete skirt and a wrought iron fence in our son’s side yard. I looked at that fence, hugging an 15 x 20 space and began to laugh.

You see, back in October, I wrote a post “The Prison of Our Culture,” including:

As I was seeking deep wisdom for our transition out of this culture and economy, the thought suddenly appeared, “You will stand at the prison bars forever shaking them and struggling with them, and the jailer will never let you out. But if you will turn around and begin walking the other direction, you will find that you can walk through the walls that you imagine hold you in.”

I had forgotten that in our culture we build fences to define what is ours and to keep others out. Those who have acquired wealth, power and property put up fences around themselves and then convince everyone else that they really want to be allowed in. We all gather on the outside of the bars, pushing through pay checks, time, talent and life energy, hoping that those inside will receive these gifts and find us worthy of entering in. Every now and then, the gate swings open to allow someone in, so the rest feel that they too will some day enter the chosen ground.

What we do not see is that those inside are the ones imprisoned. Fenced in to protect what they have and cut off from the riches beyond the boundary. We are held in place, hands on the bars, because we are look the wrong direction. When we turn around, we discover all the wonder of the natural world, given without price – abundant for all to receive.

I come out in the mornings to live my gratitude for all of the stars filling the predawn sky which speak to my heart of vast open spaces and light that travels through time. There are the cliff and canyons, pebbles and rocks that give solid form to this beautiful land. There are grasses, bushes, shrubs, trees and many other members of the plant family, all adding color and texture and life. There are four-legged, winged, crawlers, swimmers and one who slither, moving with howl of coyote and rustling grass of rabbit. There is the gift of water in the nearby streams, in the San Pedro River, within my body, and coursing through all living things. There is the wind – the breath of the spirit and the breath of our life, given freely. It carries vibration through the cosmos and dances with the wings of hawks. There is the sunrise, seen by billions of living creatures this morning as they look to the horizon for the light of a new day. With light come the gifts of vision and colors so varied from subtle to brilliant that they make my heart leap. There is the gift of the divine light within every human soul. The call to be one vibrant strand in the Web of Life with all humankind, all living beings and all the expressions of creation.

So, why would I ever cling to the bars again. I am a rich woman. I have no need to fight my way in. I will sit here, surrounded by beauty and filled with gratitude. A free woman indeed.

 

 

Nothing Like a Head Cold …

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Attractive woman with cup of hot drink

 

Two days after we claimed Brego (Our 30-ft. 2003 Winnebago house on wheels), we both came down with head colds. Plain, simple head colds that leave you feeling miserable for about 7 days if you do everything right and a week if you don’t. But there is nothing like a head cold to test the home-worthiness of a new abode.

Part of being a couple in a small space is finding a way of letting one another get needed rest. In Brego, there is a wood door that swings open across the hallway to give the bathroom/bedroom a private feel. It muffles the sound enough, so my nighttime self-care in the front of our home has not completely disrupted Will’s sleep in the bedroom.

I have taken to the couch/bed, finding it perfect for sleeping partly sitting up. “Bergo’s blanket,” a rough hand-woven horse-like blanket that we brought with us, has been my extra warm top layer. Topped with a scarf around my head, my forward nest has been perfect for the times my sinuses have allowed me to sleep.

Changing position to sitting cross-legged, with thick robe and blanket around me, it has also offered space for tea and spiritual journey when I’m awake in the night. What a head cold does to the brain cells seems to make it easy to slide into that dream-like thought pattern that allows helping ancestors to teach me at 3 AM. I have received constant reassurance about my current path in life and images of being painted with the colors of this desert landscape as a way of integrating my life into the service of this expression of earth, sky, water and light.

Another message that dropped in one pre-dawn was the challenge to drink 10 cups of tea by 2, a reminder of the wonders of hot, spiced tea. Letting the warmth and moisture move up into my sinuses as a natural decongestant and feeling that relief has lifted my hopes of feeling better.

This is not to say that there are not huge piles of used tissues and a nose chapped almost to bleeding involved. I have done my usual thing of trying several over the counter cold remedies as well, and my body has withstood the challenge. Many times I would have preferred an immediate cure of this cold as a message of the support of the spirits of this land. Yet, now on day 6 1/2 I can acknowledge that there is nothing like surviving a cold to convince me at my core that Brego is my comfortable home and will support me in sickness and health along our way.