I’ve been letting this blog languish, steep, infuse. Focused on other things, other brews and fermentations. This era of revelation: a great unveiling, on every level of being.
late 14c., “revelation, disclosure,” from Church Latin apocalypsis “revelation,” from Greek apokalyptein “uncover, disclose, reveal,” from apo– “from” (see apo-) + kalyptein “to cover, conceal” (see Calypso). The Christian end-of-the-world story is part of the revelation in John of Patmos’ book “Apokalypsis” (a title rendered into English as “Apocalypse” c. 1230 and “Revelations” by Wyclif c. 1380).
Its general sense in Middle English was “insight, vision; hallucination;” meaning “a cataclysmic event” is modern.
Inner. Visible. It all just keeps happening. The body, like a flower, unfolds itself. We do this together. Light shines on what was hidden.
Not sure what else to say in this exact moment. Aiming to post more, to keep unfolding these inner worlds into and with the collective. This sharing authentic expression direct from our marrow is medicine.
Thank you all for being there, for being brave and real, awake and playful, crying, laughing, looking, listening, feeling everything.
The connections between us are synapses. We are strong together.
A friend recently asked to read this again, so I’m posting it here.
From November 30, 2010:
The other night I woke up to find a ghost hovering over me. It looked a little like No Face from the film Spirited Away—a white, oval mask with subtle features, soft painted designs fading in and out, a black hood and cloak. It loomed over me and I felt that it was the ghost of everything unmourned in my family, of long-gone relatives and and events that still hang around and permeate day-to-day life even though I (and we) might not know it.
Many cultures believe that if one who’s passed away is not properly mourned then their soul won’t have enough oomph to make it out of this world and into the next. Instead, their ghost will begin to devour the life of those still living—which can cause depression, addiction, and a whole range of destructive feelings and behaviors.
In his book Long Life, Honey in the Heart, Martín Prechtel writes
…when a person was buried and not enough tears were shed and when truly felt grief was absent, the soul of the dead person could not make it to the next world and would be forced to turn back. Scared and invisible, it took up residence in the body of the tenderest and most familiar person it could find. To give themselves a feeling of physical substance, in desperation, the ghost would eat the life of that person. For this reason ghosts usually devoured their relatives, especially their grandchildren, jumping into their bodies and eating them from the inside out, consuming the little child’s spirit also.
…Alcoholism, substance addiction, most depression, homicide, suicide, untimely deaths, accidents, and the addiction to argument were caused by the endless hungers of such ghosts. This kind of ghost consumed soul after soul until a whole series of generations had been destroyed.
…The ghost problem, of course, is what makes the uninitiated world of modern times so scary.
I knew this had something to do with this ghost in front of me, and in my half-awake state began sending it a strong wave of love and compassion. Fear would simply have fed the ghost and drawn it closer; sending this love-beam, however, seemed to dissolve it and give it the momentum it needed to make its way to the next world. I don’t know whether this was truly what was going on or simply a symbolic personal experience; all I could do was interact with the situation as best as I could.
There were other, smaller ghosts near it, further back, and the more I sent these waves of firm love at them the more they retreated and went on their way as well. After a while, though, another apparition entered: this time it was an enormous ghost, big as the planet, grey, featureless, cancer-like, bloated with centuries and generations of unmourned death and destruction from across the whole world. The big boss.
I looked around and found myself to be part of a vast conglomeration of people, thousands and thousands of healers and shamans and beings, old and young, of every background and culture, gathered and lined up against this ghost. Each of us were dealing with it in our own ways: dancing, singing, praying, enacting complex or simple rituals or simply sitting, everyone’s method unique and strong. We were tiny in physical mass compared with the ghost, but together we formed an immense chorus of healing comprised of humble, creative, and utterly unique individuals.
And it was working. The impossibly huge and swollen ghost, the entity creating the pain and fear and despondency in our world, began to shrink and dissolve. Slowly, slowly it turned and began to move through the stars of night and towards the center of the galaxy, towards the black hole there where it would be graciously devoured and transformed into new life and light.
I fell back asleep after that, and woke up this morning feeling lighter, freer, and happier than I have in a long, long time.
Prechtel again, in the same book:
…in every nation of the world now, [there are] peoples who had their original relationship with their stories, music, ancestral histories, and customs destroyed or trivialized by the heavy tread of some other traumatized people whose ancestors’ souls are still waiting in the Underworld. All of these people need someone who will bargain with Death in the Underworld for the release of the Goddess, their cultural and individual identities, and their indigenous souls. It would take a lot of grief rituals and some very brave, unarmored, highly initiated poetic shamans to do that.
I would like to think that we are all now these brave, unarmored, initiated poetic shamans. We need not react in fear and aggression against the ghosts that seem to saturate our world; rather, let us feel the strength of our love more than ever, feel it as a wave sending these hungry spirits on their way and down their right roads. See the bloated ghosts of these past centuries dissolving now, turning, and moving toward the cosmic compost zone. It’s happening, and as it does, the indigenous soul of the world and of all of us comes free and alive again.
Here in Portland there’s been a blizzard and it’s quiet outside. Portland’s the perfect city to try an experiment: just for a day, stop all traffic. Cars, buses, trucks. To see what a difference it would make in the city’s sonic environment. I’m a big fan of reducing noise pollution; though our brains tend to block out background noise after a while, the constant clang and roar of traffic echoing through the city still affects us.
When it snows in a place like Portland, though, the city shuts down. The only cars that drive around are the ones with 4-wheel-drive and snow tires.
It’s so much quieter out there right now.
So good job, Portland. Let’s notice if we feel differently today, in the soft white quiet that’s suddenly settled in out there. Let’s breathe it in and walk in it, let the silence seep into our nervous systems, relax a little more. Let’s listen for the sounds that are there when the roar is gone.
Today a friend and I decided to go on a Facebook fast.
Now, I know that for many folks, this wouldn’t be a big deal. And I’ve certainly done it before, whilst camping, or on road trips, or at festivals. In general, though, especially in the midst of a week in total snowed-in solitude, the ol’ News Feed has been my go-to habit, my solace in the storm, my social stimulation substitute, my excuse to avoid looking deep into my psyche or coming up with pretty much anything worthwhile to do. It’s been like this on and off for a couple years now, much as I hate to admit it (especially since I don’t really use a cell phone), though it’s reached a fever pitch this past week. I even gave in the other day to the big no-no of waking up emotional, checking FB before even getting out of bed, and posting some dramatic angsty status update that had absolutely no basis in reality. Though I deleted it a minute later, who knows who read it? Who knows what nonsense I’ve been perpetuating through the virtual aethers?
Whenever that space has opened up this past week of not-knowing, of loneliness, of facing down the dark, what have I been doing? Certainly not sitting within it, breathing, witnessing what arises. No sir. I’ve been careening across the house to land on my laptop, all a-flurry, to hit “refresh” on my various friends lists, craving the rush of new status updates or those little red numbers in the upper left that tell how many new comments or likes there are or how many close friends have posted. I’ve been like a pigeon in a psychological experiment cage, pressing a button obsessively just in case a pellet of food comes out. I’ve been a junkie, a FB-aholic, craving the nourishment that does not nourish, the empty fix that’s satisfying for a split second then leaves a gaping maw in its wake. “More! More! I need more!” raged the beasties inside me, getting upset in the dark of night when five minutes would go by without anyone posting a new update.
It. Was. PATHETIC. It was sad and ridiculous and an overall laughable and heinous state of affairs. I knew I needed to stop. But how? For a while I refused to acknowledge how much of a life-suck it had become—perhaps, in part, because it seemed relatively benign in comparison to addictions like drug abuse or even negative self-talk. And since I’m generally on my computer for a good part of the day, how could I stop myself from going there? Really, what was the harm? These past few weeks I’ve been methodically winnowing out my addictions in an effort to make space for new and nurturing practices. I’d gotten nearly all of them, stopped them, nipped them in the bud. Except this one. Turns out it was a compulsion I felt nearly powerless against.
Until last night, when my friend announced she’d be taking today off from the Book of Face. Perfect! I said I’d do it too. Everything’s easier in solidarity! I went to bed almost giddy at the prospect.
Here is what I’ve done in the past two hours instead of hit “refresh” on the news feed:
Made chai from scratch then drank it outside in the sun as the black-capped chickadees and finches hopped around on the snowy deck
Wrote this blog post
Danced around the house to badass Celtic music
Edited a friend’s graduate school application essays
Practiced yoga for the first time in a week
I’m fairly certain that none of this would have happened were it not for this momentous fast. And so far, I’m still feeling the giddiness I went to bed with last night. I feel lighter, freer, untethered from a weight I didn’t even realize was there. Again, to someone who doesn’t use the Book of Face all that much, this might sound ridiculous. But I’m just stating the facts, ma’am.
(An hour ago, I emailed my comrade-in-virtual-arms to see how she was faring so far. “I feel like Facebook is my crack,” she replied. “I don’t wanna be on crack.”)
Nor do I. It’s my hope that after a day of total abstinence, I’ll be able to re-enter FB-land in a much more healthy and balanced way. It’s true that there’s so many good things about it: keeping in touch with folks in faraway lands, publicizing the businesses I help run, sharing photos and projects and gratitudes, asking questions of the collective consciousness. But the medicine of Facebook, like anything else, depends on how we use it. And, like most things, it’s best in moderation.
Of course, I’m very aware that once I hit “publish” on this, it’s going to show up on Facebook. I could change the settings so this doesn’t happen, but I kind of like the idea of it. Like sending a message back home from a newly-discovered planet. Bridging worlds. But I won’t log on to my account to adjust the way the post shows up, or to see who’s liked it or what folks are saying about it. Most certainly not.
Until tomorrow, that is.
(Title taken from this track, if you like a little dubstep with your winter’s day.)
From a freewrite this morning, written in view of the freezing Columbia under a wide blue December sky:
I have become so full of experience that I must release it. In the alchemical crucible of ourselves, our bodies, we transmute our lives into new form. We digest, we express.
And where to begin? How to choose from the roiling sea of memory that swirls and churns in the gut, all color and texture and feeling? No matter how I second-guess, hesitate, dive headlong, give power or take or hold it, this river of life keeps rolling. Flowing. Wouldn’t it simply be better to let go into it? Isn’t this the aim of all my yoga training, music training, physical theatre, dance—to know the structure, the riverbanks, so as to release into the stream?
What is the structure of a life? There is the structure we are born with: bones, muscles, organs. There is the structure of family, of culture, of the land in which we’re raised—though these structures are more mutable, more subject to revision. We can choose to leave our families and find or create new ones but our bones are ours.
Through writing I wish to organize this sea of experience into some kind of body. To match like with like, to find what limb attaches to which joint, and what is the blood, and what is the flesh and lymph and fascia. What is the outside, what is the inside. Perhaps they are the same. Perhaps there is a pattern.
What was once visible, palpable, in-the-moment experience is now invisible, stored in the earth of my own body that walks and dances and sings and stretches and sits. Deep inside, it is changing, it organizes itself, it becomes new. I am gathering up my invisible insides in order to birth them again, birth these stories, birth myself. The old skin falls away as new life comes through, made from threads and waves and particles of the past, birthing itself, becoming its own body. Who knows what it will look like; who knows where it will go? It’s not up to me to say. Create, create, keep creating, says my grandfather. Release the dams from the river. Let it flow into the sea.