Monday, June 30, 2008


Talk about your nice surprises... I woke today to an email telling me I have been chosen for an Arte y Pico Award, which was created "to be given to bloggers who inspire others with their creative energy and their talents, be it writing or artwork in all medias."

What makes it especially gratifying is it is awarded from peer to peer, creative to creative. Mine was graciously bestowed by Rose of Walk in the Woods.I hope you will take a moment to visit each of the five blogs I've listed below which I have found to be inspirational, and perhaps leave a comment letting them know you stopped by!

Rose has presented me with the award and I would now like to present the award to the following five blogs.
To be listed is considered a “special honor.” The Arte y Pico Award is meant to be paid forward to bloggers who merit recognition for their creative efforts.

Zura's Blog (

Holly's Blog (

Pattie's Blog (

Lani's Blog (

Amy's Blog (

If you have been selected for the award, please pay it forward, following the steps below:
1) Choose 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award based on creativity, design, interesting material, and overall contribution to the blogger community, regardless of the language.
2) Post the name of the author and a link to his or her blog so everyone can view it.
3) Each award-winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award.
4) The award-winner and the presenter should post the link of the "Arte y pico" blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5) Please post these rules!

The Arte y Pico blog is in Spanish. To read it in English, clickhere. The translation is not perfect.

Happy Creativity to all!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Expect the Unexpected

Nothing feels better than being blindsided by something nice. I mean, life will creep up on us like a thug and knock us flat with all manner of problems, emergencies, connundrums and dilemmas, sometimes to the point where we sit vigil awaiting the next Awful Thing. Which is why the unexpected Nice Thing has such impact, even when they are small gifts from the universe. I wanted to share two that happily surprised me recently.

The first was late in the week when the remarkable Rose of Walk In The Woods let me know I had won her weekly giveaway, and it was a pair of the Spirit Cord necklaces she has in her Etsy shop I had only recently been coveting. They arrived in the mail yesterday. I added a silver lotus pendant I put together to the green one, and love the way it looks. Thank you, Rose!

The other Oh! moment came this morning when, after my walk in the hazy, early morning sun, I wandered my disaster of a yard mulling over my appalling gardening skills. I kid you not, my back yard is like a meadow. I guess nature is ok with the way I let things run amok, though...she surprised me with some out of control wild blackberry bushes that this morning yielded the first harvest. While I was picking them I discovered yet another surprise guest: a gangly Mulberry bush, also showing ripening berries.

Sweet surprise, earth mother; I thank you.

Friday, June 27, 2008


" It is June, wildflowers on the table.They are fresh an hour ago, like sliced lemons,with the whole day ahead of them."

- Stanley Plumly

I don't think I could say it better; I won't try. Each morning as I walk, I gather some of the prettier weedlings and herblettes that nod their heads at me from the edge of the sidewalk, or from behind the fences along the back end of the highschool football field. I don't even know most of their names, but am learning. Wild carrot? Red clover? Those I knew. But new to me today: white campion, butter-and-eggs (toadflax), Swamp Candles (Yellow Loosestrife), fleabane, Oriental Lady's Thumb, and Asiatic Dayflower. Identifying these just by online photos is tricky, and some I just have not found a match for. I am grateful though that the internet is giving me the gift of at least some call these by their name is so satisfying, especially now that they are my guests!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Talking to the trees

I sure hope I am not the only one who does it. I may be the only one to admit it.

Each morning I am up at six and stumbling out the door, barely coherent, MP3 powered on, and I am off and walking. The nice thing about six am (some people think there is NOTHING nice about it) is that things are pretty still. By things, I mean, human things. And human beings. Cars and lawnmowers, shouting children; even other walkers or joggers are rare. I like this. I like that most of my town still has its eyes closed. My personal space becomes fantastically large; I can walk backward to look at things longer if I like. I can play air drums along with the music being piped into my ears. I can dance a little, sing under my breath, cross the street in the middle, and do a full-on freak-out if I happen to walk face first into a surprise spider's web, without fear of mortification.

Most of all, I can talk to the trees.

I wish I could find the right words to convey what I draw from the trees. I sense them breathing, almost, their energy permeating the morning, soothing me like a comforting hand. Each one is, to me, like a person, a character. And yes, as I said, I really do; I speak to them. Not outloud too often; mostly in my head. The old-growth elders of the tribe, massive and stately, exuding the wisdom of all that they have seen; I offer them my respect. Good morning, Grandfather Oak. Good morning, Grandmother Pine.

I grin at the young and fresh-faced Dogwoods, their butter-colored flowers open wide like a smile, and the delicate Willow waving shyly. I nod to the elegant Paper Birch leaning nonchantly into the breeze, smile at the dainty Japanese Maples, and almost applaud the scruffy Cedars, because I have a particular fondness for them and their deep, red hearts.

I say their names when I recognize them: Elm, Magnolia and Tulip Poplar, Ornamental Cherry and Arborvitae, Sweet Lilac and Ash. Viburnam, Sassafras, Catalpa, Linden, Grey Birch, Sycamore...I list them like a litany.

I could make poems out of tree-words found in a glossary of tree-terms; to me the words sound like a secret language:
Blade, bract, clingstone, conifer, freestone, midrib, palmate, rootstock...they weave together an incantation of growth.

This morning I approached a grand and imposing tree near the edge of the road, and my steps slowed as I took in the large orange X on its solid mid-trunk. What mark is this? As I neared, I saw a sign, an official town notice, tacked to its bark: Tree Slated for Removal. My heart clutched. Poor, doomed tree. I mourned the impending loss in advance, my hand on its blackened girth. It was clearly ill, discoloration running up its length, but it still radiated strength, solid under my palm. I stood still there for a moment, so I could spend time with this tree, this tree I had been warned would soon be gone. I tried to take a picture with my mind, to transplant it from its roots to its crown, so it could grow in my imagination, not be forgotten, always be honored.

Then, I said goodbye.

I said it out loud.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


My mother tells me this is what it is. Once there has been an expansion of the self, it is a natural part of the cycle: the contraction. It is squeezing me hard. The last few days, I am increasingly aware that I am slowly spinning downward and inward. It does not alarm me, but it does disappoint me. Leaving the multicolored and manic creativity of the last few months feels like leaving my soul in a locker at the train station. I know I will be back to pick it up again, but…it is hard to move away from it.

My mother says it is part of alchemy; this is the time to mine the gold from all the knowledge I have been gathering. Time to take it out and examine it and go deeper. I am trying hard to find satisfaction in the process but I feel my joy fading out like a dying star, not into sadness, but into…complacency. Ennui. Cynicism.

I am not creating much at all…little to no art, no writing (save this babbling), no poems. It is a beautiful day: the sun is shining, the sky is blue…all is right in my world but me. I know this phase well, and I am trying to outwit it with my walks and my explorations of pagan social events. I remain aware, though, that the veil has fallen heavily and it will be some time before it lifts again. I just need to be patient.

Save a spot for me on the higher plane; I will get back there as soon as I can.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Exploring Beyond the Forest

As many of you may know, last month I went on a 4 day camping trip, attending a pagan Forest Folk Festival in the woods. I went looking for new friends and experiences and came back feeling awake, alive, and eager to learn more about the things I had discovered. Once home, I searched the 'net for local drum circles or other events, and found a group that was hosting a workshop I felt I had to experience. So on Tuesday night, I went to the posted location to see what awaited me there. Here is my tale:

I was a bit anxious, I admit; I had taken a bit of a leap into the unknown. Here I was in a room with 6 strangers, about to embark on my first semi-guided meditation/Shamanic journey. I was not sure what to expect, from this group or from the experience. I only knew if I did not follow my heart and start to respond to the calling I had been feeling for so many years, I was risking my health on every level. The participants all welcomed me to the group warmly, much to my relief, and our guide was encouraging and kind. I was ready to begin.

Eyes closed, feet tucked underneath myself, I followed the instructions to breathe, breathe in deeply and picture warm sunlight on my imagine the warmth and light seeping down, through my face, my neck, flooding my mouth....breathing deeper and drawing the warm light down through my shoulders, my back, down my arms to my hands, into my belly and down my thighs, letting the glow move all the way down my legs to my feet. The voice guided us further, describing a path through the forest, green trees all around, a canopy of rustling leaves overhead. We were brought to a clearing where a large tree stood; in my mind it was clearly the massive grandfather tree with its enormous bent arms I had seen on a recent hike. My mind's eye could see the door sized hole at the base of the tree that our guide described, and I entered as instructed.

Inside, an earthen ramp led downward, lit by a slant of sunlight from above. Deep into the earth, down under a ceiling of roots, I stepped into the dim passageway ahead. For a while it was dark, and I felt my way along, until we were brought into a large cavern with walls of rock, a stream running through, and ground beneath our feet that was strewn with all manner of stones. We were told to pick one up, and at that moment our guide pressed a stone into my open hand and the drumming began. We were left alone to explore, with no more guidance; just the steady heartbeat of a single drum. I let my mind wander...

I surveyed the cavern and was a bit disapointed. I was hoping for crystals, or stones I recognized...instead it was wet, black rock: jagged and dark as coal. The steady thunk of the drum manifested itself as water dripping onto a slab of stone which, as I watched, started to disolve like black sugar under the persistant impact of the drops of water. Like quicksand, the surface of the stone began to cave in toward the center, an hourglass effect with black grains swirling down into an invisible drain. I watched for a while, before realizing the slab of rock itself remain unchanged, and would never disolve completely, so I made an effort to follow the trickling stream nearby instead. As I stepped toward it, a large scarab beetle scuttled in front of me, its gunmetal grey wings opening with a click that sounded mechanized, revealing a vibrantly colored underside. It flew parallel to the water and vanished into the dark.

The water was flowing across a streambed glittering with the same jagged, jet black rocks, wet and gleaming in a light source that seemed artificial, like overhead fixtures, flourescent tubing. I followed the water to where it disappeared through a fist sized hole at the base of the far wall of the cavern. I bent down to try to see what was on the other side, and saw that radiant gold and orange light was shining though the jagged hole. I tried, with both hands, to tear the hole wider, as though ripping open a package, but the rock remained true to its properties, and merely dug into my hands and refused to budge. I thought for a moment and realized that if the hole refused to get bigger, I would have to get smaller.

It was an effort. Like inflating a balloon in reverse. My mind struggled to imagine myself crompressing, minifying myself like Alice attempting to go through the rabbit's door, but at last I was able to duck through the hole, and on the other side I shot back up to my original height the moment I entered the space. I looked around in wonder: this cavern was round with a high domed ceiling, like a a bee skep, with light from the outside making the interior glow. The walls reminded me of what I see when sunlight beats down on my closed eyelids: a rich red-gold-orange membrane, but this time like stained glass, like walls of carnelian and amber. I sensed movement over my head and glanced up, where I could make out the swirling shadows of a figure, an entity...she flowed across the ceiling like a wraith, with long trailing tendrils, like bird-of-paradise feathers, ribbons, or angelfish fins. She rotated counterclockwise, a whirlpooling of deep-shadowed maroon and red. She did not show her face; I am not even sure how I knew she was female...but somehow she communicated to me that she was pleased to see me, and that she was there to act as a guide. My attention was drawn back to the cavern walls, which were now coming off in layers, like sheets of amber-colored mica, in pieces as large as pictures windows. They floated around me, orbiting in rings, some going clockwise, some going counter clockwise. The room abruptly filled with blinding gold light which erased everything around me, and I found myself encased in a grey veil, like a cocoon. I wanted to struggle to get free and see more, but coached myself to wait. Slowly the grey burned away before my eyes, edges glowing like burning paper, and I was facing a soot-blackened wall riddled with fissures that glowed with light. I waited and waited, hoping the cracks would open and I would see some wonder on the other side, but though the light pulsed promisingly, I could not will the wall to crumble. I was disapointed to hear the drum change rythyms, and the voice of our guide calling us back to the room we sat in.

It turns out what I thought was 10 minutes of journeying was in fact 25. I felt myself practically humming with the intensity of all I had felt and seen. We all shared our experiences, and were delighted to find there had been some "bleed-over" between us. A few other's had experienced circular themes, rotations, shrinking and growing. One person had even see the Catepillar from Alice in Wonderland! I was asked if i had ever had taken a journey before, or had power animal experiences. I said my mother, a healer, had done a retrieval for me years ago, and it was a seal. I had gone on a brief journey 3 years ago that my mom guided a few family members on, and I had been met by a badger . Most recently my mother journeyed on my behalf and encountered a peregrine falcon. Our guide suggested I had gone into this journey with three of the 4 elements: water, earth and air. She smiled and said, the entity you saw sounds very much like a fire elemental. Everyone looked at each other and nodded agreement, and a few said in unison: the phoenix. Our guide seemed very pleased for me; she said much of what I saw was typical for beginners, especially things being closed to me or hard to penetrate. She told me to keep practising letting go at those moments. I smiled and nodded, realizing my journey has only just begun; I can hardly wait for the chance to try again!