Painting by Aron Wiesenfeld
mythic perspectives

The Haunting of America

Though Halloween evolved from All Hallows Eve, a Christian holiday honoring the dead saints (hallows), its origins lie in the much older Celtic festival of Samhain. Celebrating the end of the harvest and the earth’s descent into winter’s womb, Samhain was a time of liminality (halfway between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice), when the veil between our world and the Otherworld was thinnest, when the dead were thought to move more easily among the living, when the revelers would set an empty place at the table for the ancestors and leave offerings of food outside as propitiations for the spirits.

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Orange leaf in orange sunlight
mythic perspectives

Animal Senses

I began to become convinced that this way of seeing is our most ordinary, normal, human, way of encountering our world; that in the absence of intervening technologies, our animal senses spontaneously animate the sensuous surroundings. We speak of things “catching our gaze,” “calling our attention,” “grabbing our focus,” and those are all quite precise ways of speaking, because as we’re wandering the world, things solicit our attention, draw us into dialog, a kind of conversation without words. A fallen leaf on the ground calls my attention, and so I slow down to stop and gaze at it. And so, in my experience, this leaf is not dead, though it’s been lying on the ground for days. It has its own agency. It has its own power, its potency. And so, it is with everything we experience. This has become a very basic insight to me: that our bodily senses, left to their own devices, are inherently animistic; that sensory perception is participatory; that the senses are gregarious organs that actively participate in the surrounding terrain; and that when we speak of the world around us as a set of objects or objective mechanical processes, we actually frustrate our senses and force our awareness to withdraw from our skin and from our eyes and our ears, and we climb up into our heads and live in a set of verbal abstractions—because the human animal cannot help but experience the world as animate and alive through and through.

David Abram, from “The Ecology of Perception”, an interview in Emergence Magazine
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Tiny Actions Over and Over and Over
activism, reminders

How to Save Democracy #01

Remind yourself that you can’t save democracy.

Sobering, depressing, I know. But let go of that burden (it’s overwhelming you) and just do one small thing. Everyday.

Donate. Mail postcards. Make calls. Make sure your friends are registered to vote. Your small thing inspires others to do their small thing inspiring others and others and others until…

we ALL save democracy.

Vote Save America
Vote Forward

💪🏻✌🏻✊🏻


More ways…

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Angela Davis photo by Deana Lawson
activism

Angela Davis

We have to have a kind of optimism. One way or another I’ve been involved in movements from the time I was very, very young, and I can remember that my mother never failed to emphasize that as bad as things were in our segregated world, change was possible. That the world would change. I learned how to live under those circumstances while also inhabiting an imagined world, recognizing that one day things would be different.

Angela Davis, interviewed by Ava Duvernay in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair. Full interview here
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exercises + experiments, mythic perspectives, tarot

The Trickster Within

USING MAGIC TO MANIFEST THE LIFE OF YOUR DREAMS

I saw a client recently who was struggling with direction in her life. Should she get a new job? Go back to school? Move to a new city? Consistently distracted by petty family dramas, she was feeling powerless, overwhelmed and unable to get any sort of clarity for herself. She needed to find a way to tune out the noise of everyone and everything around her, in order to tune IN to what it was she truly wanted – a near impossible task for many of us, especially with the world noisier than ever.

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activism

Language of the Unheard

I am writing this in my Santa Monica apartment. Right outside there are sirens blaring, scores of helicopters hovering overhead, two stores across the street that were just looted by roving criminals and a couple of structure fires a few blocks away. About an hour ago, there was a crowd of at least 300 peaceful protestors outside. I watched from my roof, afraid to enter the fray, but when they stopped and knelt in silent vigil for George Floyd, I knelt too, and raised my fist high in solidarity.

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reminders

How to Quarantine

The rain surrounded the cabin … with a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside…. Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, the rain. As long as it talks, I am going to listen.

From “Rain and the Rhinoceros” by Thomas Merton, 1966
*I discovered Merton reading David Abram’s masterpiece, “The Spell of the Sensuous”
**More on Merton in this lovely tribute by Doug Toft
***Photo by Joe Gardner
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Gandalf and Frodo
reminders

The Time That Is Given Us

“Mordor. That name even you hobbits have heard of, like a shadow on the border of old stories. Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.”

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

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Wenceslas Hollar illustration of the fable
mythic perspectives, reminders

The Moral of the Story

Look to the irony in any story and you’ll find the moral, the gospel, the very reason for that story existing in the first place. We’re all quarantined from one another, but maybe this is happening to remind us just how connected we all are. Maybe this interconnectedness is a really hard moral for us as humans to learn. We elected a president whose entire m.o. is to vilify “the other”. Fox News is built on this. It’s infuriating to learn about all the folks right now ignoring the calls for social distancing, but the harsh reality is that a lot more people are going to have to get sick and a lot more people are going to have to die before we start to learn the moral of this story. We are truly all connected, aren’t we? Even the president’s wall can’t save us. 

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Nautilus shell art by William Conklin
exercises + experiments, reminders

Self Care in the Time of Corona

Yes, by all means, breathe in the light. Yes, absolutely, focus on the positive. Pull out the crystals, light up the sage. Keep yourself safe. But don’t bypass what you’re feeling right now. This is the moment. Scary, messy, uncertain, full of potential. You were made for this, remember? You are no stranger to trauma. This is your wheelhouse. A natural healer, you are well equipped to thrive. Trust.

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How Heavy, The Deep Water. How Sweet, The Hope
mythic perspectives, personal essay

We Don’t Get to Know What’s Coming

Most of us have a recurring dream of some form or other. Some folks dream of flying, of losing their teeth. I dream of waves – giant, menacing, deep-water waves rising up in the night like dark-cloaked mercenaries. On and off throughout my life I have dreamed of waves. In my youth, I would mostly watch them from a distance, a hillside perhaps, or sometimes through the window of a house, the swell rising on the horizon. Lately though, the water seems closer. A few months back, I’m having a picnic as a wave towers over my friend’s shoulder. Just last week, I am on a dock when the water below me expands like a balloon, swallowing the dock entirely right as I wake up.

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dark wave
mythic perspectives, performance

Go Dark

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

Wendell Berry


I’ll be performing at Write Club on Monday with the word “obscure” as my jumping off point. This Berry quote along with my recurring dreams of large waves will feature prominently in my piece. Come join the mayhem if you’re in the area! And check out my performance from last year for a tease of what I do. 🙏🏼

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Angels Landing Zion National Park
activism, personal essay

Aesthetic Arrest

Zion National Park in May of last year. We set up camp in the shadow of one of those glorious red rock monoliths with the rushing waters from a nearby (but unseen) river as our only soundtrack. That night the moon turned the whole valley silver and the sounds of the river seemed to amplify in the still night air, enveloping us in this white-noise cocoon. After dinner I went off on my own, determined to put a visual to what now seemed to come from everywhere at once, and as I pushed through the brush, the more it consumed and bewildered me, until finally, I reached the river’s edge and stood there on the banks, for how long I really don’t remember. 

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Pagan Otherworlds Tarot
mythic perspectives, tarot

Paying Attention

I’ve been reading the cards for more and more folks lately and every session has been its own kind of wild, weird and wonderful. Tarot has been a near-daily study and meditation for me for over three years now and while my understanding of it is always evolving, here’s what I currently know: I am not a fortune-teller. And while I do think we’re all “psychic” in our own ways, I’m not a huge fan of that word either. It just feels exclusionary and ego-based.

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activism, personal essay

Freedom Now

I grew up closeted in the backwoods of South Carolina in the 80’s and became interested in storytelling around 9 years old when my father would drive me into the sticks and drop me alone on the side of a dirt road with a rifle. From there I’d hike into the woods to find a marked tree with a small plank hanging from it, about 15 feet up in the air. I’d climb the tree and I’d sit on the plank and I’d wait quietly. And wait. And wait, for some unsuspecting deer to stroll by; a deer I’d never have the heart to shoot; a deer that would graze the baited corn my dad had spread out on the ground below while I silently watched, spellbound, boring all of my secrets into him telepathically, before firing in the air to spook him back to freedom. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing at the time, I just knew, on some level, that it was safer to be the boy with lousy aim than the boy who didn’t like to hunt.

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Francis O'Connor set design for Waiting for Godot
mythic perspectives, personal essay

Letting in the Mess

Samuel Beckett and Tom F. Driver on the function of art in a world in crisis

There is so much about my work as an artist that is changing. Much of what interested me just three years ago feels frivolous now. I stopped writing a romantic comedy just before Trump was elected and I’m not sure I could summon the drive to finish it now regardless of what someone offered to pay me.

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Letter to a Young Activist
activism, reminders

Letter to a Young Activist During Troubled Times

Grumpy Sneezy Dopey

I was home sick with a cold today. On the couch for hours watching movies, scrolling through the socials, in a grumpy, sneezy, dopey malaise. (Where is Doc and Happy when you need them?) There’s something about being sick that amplifies my insecurities. The shadow swoops in when I am weak, whispering – Poor you, So frail, So small, You will never accomplish the things you desire, Why bother, The world is on fire, No one cares… Nothing you do matters.

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Cosmic Tides
mythic perspectives

Cosmic Tides

A man’s soul is like a lagoon connected with the sea by a submerged channel; although to all outward seeming it is land-locked, nevertheless its water level rises and falls with the tides of the sea because of the hidden connection. So it is with human consciousness, there is a subconscious connection between each individual soul and the World-soul deep hidden in the most primitive depths of subconsciousness, and in consequence we share in the rise and fall of the cosmic tides. 

Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah
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common sense crash test dummies gun reform
activism

Common Sense

You can still learn a lot from a dummy.

Growing up in South Carolina in the mid-80’s, I remember the adults around me grumbling about new legislation that was gaining momentum in Congress. Legislation that, if passed, would require the driver and front-seat passenger of a car to wear seat belts, or else be subject to a fine. The grown-ups were pissed. How dare the government tell us what we can and can’t do in our cars. Civil liberties! and personal freedom! became all the rage. I distinctly remember an aunt avowing she’d never wear a seat belt because she’d read somewhere that they were just a hoax, that they were highly dangerous and what if the car went off a bridge and into the water, huh?!

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How much time did you spend creating?
How much time did you spend consuming?
reminders

At the end of the day…

Image
exercises + experiments, personal essay, tarot

Intuition

Intuition is having a moment. Search the hashtag on Instagram and you’ll get over 2 million hits. It’s super trendy with the witches and the healers and all the new, new-agey folk (hi me!). Considering we’re living in deeply unsettling times, it’s natural that so many of us are seeking guidance and a stronger inner compass. But I often see intuition getting lumped in with things like psychic visions or other exclusionary skillsets which is disheartening and completely misguided.

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fiction

Animal Space

Oh muse,
how you fix at me with sleepy eyes
your tail a pendulum, back and forth
cleaving bloated minutes on the brink
(always on the brink)
of the next idea.

Oh muse,
how your whiskers twitch ‘gainst hurried hands
feeding hands that nag now, stop and start
pounding, locked in some human rhythm
(desperate, choked rhythm)
of the next idea.

Oh muse,
how you warm my side
how you moan and purr
how you sleep a tiger’s sleep of stoic peace
beyond ideas
in the animal space
dreaming of blackbirds and tattered socks
and little plastic milk tops that tap and crinkle cross the floor.

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mythic perspectives

The Great Work

Consider the numerous strange rituals that have been reported from the primitive tribes and great civilizations of the past, it becomes apparent that the purpose and actual effect of these was to conduct people across those difficult thresholds of civilization that demand a change in the patterns not only of conscious but also of unconscious life.

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