Proximity

The veins on the earth are the palms of your hands, and our fists still turn into themselves like when we were babies.  
All life long, clay by the river moves us
the way music moves us, and we are carried.
All life long, water and feather ask us to dance.
Soot and gravel and oil is what we are, and it falls off of my knees when I get up from praying for you.
I leave what’s left on my skin where it’s at.

The Power of Integrating the Unconscious

“Work in the invisible world, at least as hard as you do in the visible.”

Rumi, The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems

The unconscious mind is the moon of our lives–our dreams, our innermost desires, beliefs we have of ourselves and the world, fears we harbor, memories we shove away. Speaking on matters of the unconscious, and bringing them into the light makes the average person squirm, plug their ears and say “LA LA LA LAAAAA I DO NOT HEEAAR YOU”. Psychoanalysts experience clients who lash out, run away to never return, or blindfold themselves to pretend they do not see, but the individuals on earth who get us to do this deep diving are always going to be called upon because of the value and power there is in facing our shadows.

The tumultuous and ecstatic interactions that periodically occur in our lives, the risks we take, and the ones we do not take, and all of the choices we make are driven by this layer just below our consciousness. No matter how much we think we are in control, it is our unconscious that drives our lives, like the engine below the hood of the car–we can take the wheel, operate the radio, step on the brakes and drive north, but it is the engine that determines how far we will go, and going too long without popping the hood is going to mean that eventually we have to pull over. Holding our unconscious in our awareness means understanding the duality we possess, which can be a mighty tool to have available if we allow it to show its fangs, flex its prowess, and be expressed in the light of day.

While the world of psychological science has not come to a concrete consensus as to what constitutes as the subconscious, subliminal and unconscious, it is generaly agreed that our motivations, beliefs, dreams, creative and intuitive natures all stem from the world of our unconscious, and it is also generally agreed that there are many underlying facets to our unconscious which we are unaware of (Bargh & Morsella, 2008). It is these elements that are unseen which influence many of our decisions, then also our indecisions. These unseen factors are so powerful in their ability to dictate our lives, that people across cultures and the span of time have sought psychologists, therapists, shamans, religious leaders and every kind of healer available and worthy to them to help uncover, unlock and free them of their binds.

Identifying Where Integration is Needed

Although it is easy for me to type these words, staying aware of and accepting the ugly and uncomfortable truths for what they are is not a blissful skip up the street. Working with the unconscious mind often means disposing of lifelong beliefs we have adopted that add security to our lives. It could mean defying the norms that keep us accepted and involved in our social groups. Bringing what we repress into the light could threaten the frameworks we have established as a means for safety and comfort. The consequences of bringing these shadows into the forefront of our awareness could disrupt the comfort of relationships, careers, and every aspect of our environment. People go years, and sometimes lifetimes avoiding the pain and discomfort that comes with confronting fears, recognizing desires, honoring The Knowing that is dormant, yet very much alive. But the liberation and wonder awaiting the other side of this dirty work is what transports us into living out the innermost truths that beckon to us in our dreams, speak to us in the words between words, remind us of a universe stashed away–a universe so much closer to us than we think. Integration of the unconscious is the transportation from our “shoulds” and “should nots”, to living in alignment with the euphoria that comes with surrendering to something we feel, and allowing all logical voices to squabble until they jump on board to enjoy the ecstacy of letting go.

Integration is a relinquishing and disposal of parts of ourselves we cling to for comfort and safety. And letting these anchors go feels like death–death of what you clung onto as part of your identity, and all of the despair and adjusting that comes with dying. People check off boxes and keep up with their routines every day while the unconscious is unseen, yet more awake than we would like to admit. A man who has the best of the best of everything according to his standards, yet is constantly dreaming of soil and storm, a pang of hollow he cannot rationalize. A person who spends years harboring memories of abuse and unjustice in the name of surviving wakes up in a cold sweat, unable to escape the visiting aftermath of trauma. An artist disguised as a cashier at the grocery store is saying for the third year in a row that they’re going to move away and go to the school in the city of their dreams soon. And these are generic examples–it can be as subtle as the sighs in your sleep wondering if someone longs for you in the same way you long for them, the symbol of their affection representing a part of you wanting to be unhinged. It’s the dream you had of your bare feet on wet grass, sensing a divine tranquility in the presence of those who embody more than they explain. It’s the unshakeable sensation of something trying to be said, laying in the undercoat of what is said. It’s the way you crave a song, a movie or any work of art that provokes and allows those unspoken and un-lived tremors to have an outlet.

Identifying where integration is needed means peering into the vast, the murky, the alluring, the forbidden and the tumultuous places that call to you. There is no step-by-step or one size fits all procedure to rid you of all impeding structures that keep you from feeling the calibration of the unconscious and conscious. Willing yourself to ask for answers, to look and let yourself see, to listen and really take the time to hear, and then allowing yourself to be open to what presents itself, is where the unfolding can truly begin.

What Does Integration Look Like?

If we were to dive head-first into every whim of our unconscious and act upon all of the primitive notions that underly the waking light of our every-day endeavors, some would say the world would be in chaos. Integration is not being driven by a wrecklessness that knocks over the pillars of truth we value which promote harmony in the world. Integration is not running over the livelihood or peace within another. That being said, while the decision to do what is liberating for your spirit may cause another discomfort, it does not mean your choice is wrong. But until we give our unconscious an outlet of expression, it will find its way into our environments, and express itself through the people and situations in our lives.

“Healing old wounds” does not mean the memories vanish, the pain is forgotten, or that patterns set in motion because of hurts do not need to be looked at and cradled. The resurfacing of energy dynamics which are typically eerily similar to our first scars in life, is more prominent and recurring when we do not take the time to integrate. It is when we shove the memories of our parent’s cold shoulders, or the time we lashed out at a stranger into a corner of the cupboard in our minds. It is when we refuse to question and take responsibility for the impulses we have–to trivialize and denigrate another, to immediately take defense when feeling critisized, to stop a project when it is close to being complete, that we fail to take our shadows and hold them against the light and ask them where they originated. The choice to keep your eyes wide open and stare all of yourself in the face–not just the acceptable and the radiant bits, but the shame, the fear, the meanness too–is where the keys to breathing in an open sky lay waiting. The ripple effects of going against what we know to be true, or denying the yearnings we feel in our system, return and present themselves in our waking and conscious lives. The longer you shove, gloss over, turn a cheek and make excuses for what presents itself time and time again, the longer you are keeping yourself from your own calibration–calibration of your innermost truths and the words and actions you emit in the light of day.

The coalescence of masks we keep in boxes, with the masks we exhibit does not look the same for everyone and there is not a simple answer as to how to maneuver through reality with all that we harbor. It takes repetition, asking for help, utilizing the tools you have and adopting new ones. It requires offering the entirety of your human experience to sit face-up on an alter under the sun–the stench and the dust and the puss transpicuous. It could mean taking risks that leave you without. It could mean developing a habit each morning and night where you have a conversation with yourself. It could mean writing a letter you send, or burn, or bottle, or turn into a song. And if you were hoping for this to lead you to a step 1, 2 and 3, or a tincture, or a course, or a name drop of a book, a religion, a guru, then you might feel disappointed. Not only is there no “right” way to integrate, it also does not end. We are always in the midst of duality and are made out of both the light and the dark. Our consciousness of ourselves, the world, the universe, of the past and of the future holds very little weight over the vast mystery of our unconscious. What we see in our waking day and what humanity has the ability to categorize, define and explain does not hold a candle to the wisdom of the invisible. We only have the here and now, what is within and what is in front of us. We have the choice in every moment to listen, or dismiss, feel our way through, or depend on the safety nets that keep us from unfolding.

Sources

Bargh, J. A., & Morsella, E. (2008). The Unconscious Mind. Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science3(1), 73–79. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-6916.2008.00064.x

50° in Suburbia

It’s about 50° outside today, here in suburbia of Austin Texas. The skeletons of the trees declare themselves steady against the silver-gray sky, as if we are in the center of a cloud. No blue. No yellow. Just smoke and siren heard faintly in the distance. A plane makes it’s way, invisible and overhead. My neighbor starts his engine and pulls out of the parking lot. Only screen and metal frame stands between my skin against the air conditioned breeze. Black coffee goes from hot to lukewarm. For two days now it has been raining, a light drizzle then a steady rhythm, then it ceases. Although my head sleeps right up against my bedroom window, I barely hear it’s performance.

My apartment has some ants, but never have I encountered any other creatures. Not that they’d scare me. I remember flying B-52’s–roaches the size of your fingers, then cane spiders the size of my baby sister’s face, centipedes red and cobalt blue–their babies flooding out from the tub drain when we turned the water on after a long period of renovation–those renovations consisting of Jacks-of-all-trades attempting to repair utilities built in the 60s and 70s as we took showers outside with the hose for a few months beside my mother’s orchids.

I remember rain being not good enough of a word for the buckets of salt water tipped over our thin houses, the yard a river of floating fish and rats in the morning.

The sky has shifted from silver-white to pencil-lead in the short time of my reminiscing a place other than the place I am physically a part of in the here and now, and lately it has been like that–ash stains and air.

Birds are trying to get their words in and the thunder is all bass. Under manicured lawns and watched streets of suburbia, bones and scraps of shelters rest, swarmed by skins and furs of creatures I wouldn’t recognize.

I wonder where the deer go when it gets like this?

The wind moves my curtains a teasing dance–it’s “I am my own and I do what I please” aliveness always prevalent, provocative. Really I know I will write about all of it–the closet rooms and the king size beds, the bus stop and the red-velvet interior caravans, and about the way dirt is gold. Really I will praise this neighborhood in the way I praise the ocean in my chest. The separation is mostly invented in my mind–here vs. there. That time vs. this time.

Water of the sky is now heard dipping into puddles, and by the slush of tires on the road. The mud on a woman’s boots coming in from walking her labrador. A sweet carrying; a seamless returning.

Rain is never asking “may I fall right here?” “Is now a good time, or..?” “How much is too much?” “How would you like me to land?” And I think I’d like to be rain and wind and soot and clay.

The Science Behind Tarot

The Tarot of The Old Path Deck, by Sylvia Gainsford,
a member of The Fellowship of Isis, with the assistance of a coven of 8 witches
[Image Description: The Sun card from The Tarot of The Old Path deck laid face-up on the grass next to a citrine crystal]

All things occult are trending, and tarot has continuously been taking flight, with fresh gusts of wind propelling its utilization from all corners of the earth. Regardless of one’s religion, spiritual practices, or cultural background, tarot is a psychical tool gaining more and more utilization with every passing year. Industry trends in the US report an annual increase of 2.6% growth in the year 2021 alone, with no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Tarot is used for guidance, like an extra set of eyes giving insight into a situation, connection, conflict, exchange, relationship–any and every setting in our inner and outer worlds can be reflected upon. Within a single deck there is the totality and complexity of the human experience, and our specific place in the cosmos. As more people are benefitting from and taking delight in the addition of tarot to their spiritual practices and routines, let us take a moment to peak into its emergence, and first, its birth.

The Scattered-Seedling Start of Tarot

Tarot has its origins in what we know as the standard sold-at-the-corner-store deck of 52 four-suited playing cards. With time it became a divination tool, much like the way figurines, birds, stones, words on pages, dreams and sounds have been used for prophetic insight and spiritual symbolism across cultures and religions throughout the span of human history. Card games evolved into fate and destiny games, similar to MASH, the who-will-you-marry game played at recess, (where you end up divorced with a Cadillac, a tree-house for shelter, and 23 children).

Despite it’s start as a playful pastime, tarot gradually became fused with more characters, ancient symbols, and religious ideograms specific to the time and place of each deck’s creation. Tarot took shape and was added to by way of whatever existing beliefs, materials and symbols were swimming in the air.

Multiple Independent Discovery is the phenomenon of multiple individuals on earth, completely independent of one another, discovering and/or inventing the same thing, at the same time. This concept is parallel to and much like the origins of tarot. Robert M. Place, in his book, The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination, eloquently unravels the path of its genesis, and seamlessly reveals that its dawning is not from one particular time or place, but rather an entity in and of itself, being birthed in waves across continents.

Wealthy noblemen, and high members of societies across Italy and France, commissioned artists to create elaborate decks made just for them, based on specific roles and people they live under, amongst, and above. All classes in society used 52 cards of 4 suits and a 5th suit created by their own means, or created for them, but in decades to follow the Renaissance there were tides of lent and periods of scrutiny by the ruling class where many decks were destroyed. The particular deck that was produced and dispersed the most was the Tarot of Marseilles, by French manufacturer Grimaud, which is still the number one, as well as original producer of this deck today.

Today there is an endless array of choice and preference available for us, catering to our precise interests, aesthetic likings, beliefs and cultures. From Gummy Bear Tarot, to Cat Tarot, then all the way to Neoconservative Tarot, really nobody is being left out of the practice of tarot.

Tarot as Therapy–Why It Works

As human beings we have been applying meaning to the world around us, creating stories and symbols to make sense of and connect ourselves to existence, for a very long time. Navigating matters of the heart and spirit–what is right, what is harmful, whether to stay, go, say yes, sit still–has always been on the human experience agenda, and there are endless schools of thought to help steer us into places of emotional, mental and spiritual fulfillment. Tarot is just one of an infinite amount of instruments we have at our fingertips.

Sharing and listening to stories is the way we create meaning in the world, and differentiate between what feels right, and what we are doubtful of. Stories in the world tell us about ourselves, mirroring to us what we are more of, and showing us where we possess all that what we think we do not. Every character we have ever read or heard of, whether fiction or non-fiction, comes with clues as to who we are. In this way, the archetypes and images reflected back to us in tarot reveal where that particular energy lies in ourselves, allowing us to participate, or step away from that force. The same way our favorite childhood stories tell of heroes, and racing rabbits, and generous fairies–all in the name of planting morals in our hearts, oftentimes tarot calls us to rise to our truths, and step up in ways we have been downplaying our abilities. Then other times we draw cards telling us to be humble, to remember a higher purpose, to call upon help.

Then there is the mystical aspect, the mysteriousness of why it is, that in the entire deck of 78 cards, we draw the same 1-3 cards in rotation, sometimes those particular cards even falling out into your lap face-up. While many are understandable skeptical of the validity of tarot, we can liken its positive effects to many researched-based theories. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung explains that archetypes that come up in our dreams and waking world as a collective, circulate and pop up in our culture, from art to politics to world-wide movements, likes and dislikes. Projective tests, used in both the clinical and forensic world today, use images to bring out the unconscious emotions, desires and fears of individuals. Since they are not able to spend time thinking of what to say with their conscious mind, this is the most effective way for the assessor to extract truth from the querent. In this way, tarot reveals to us that which is hard to look at, often times opening the floor for us to confront that which we bury.

I believe that whether we have a tarot deck, a book of poems we received as a gift in the 8th grade, a collection of rocks, a playlist on shuffle, or we get out in a canoe and paddle into the horizon every morning, the world is teeming with tools available for us to listen to, observe and connect to our inner worlds. We are able to navigate by way of spirit, or you can call it intuition, or your inner compass, or whatever you want really, because no matter what the tool, language, activity, the truths that sweep over our lives will continuously reveal themselves to us, no matter how hard we try to shove them into a corner. That being said, as the truth-seekers we are, we might as well enjoy ourselves as we bloom and unfurl from these shadows! I recently received my first deck, as shown above, from my sister and have been using it for 2 months as means of reflection and guidance, and it has been extremely enriching as I embark on new ventures of every kind imaginable. I cannot think of a better time than now for me to have received one of the most delightful tools to draw inspiration and insight from, and I hope you enjoyed reading about some of the wonder I am diving into!

Thank you for reading if you made it this far, and remember to subscribe if you feel it!

On Moments of Remembering & What to Do with Them

The mind has the ability to digest any truth that is read, and in turn have the spirit chime in that, yes, it rings true. We are creations that have inherited The Truth of The Universe, which knows no language or form. By default we possess this inner knowing, and sometimes we hear and read symbols on earth that resonate with this wisdom, that sing the tune of Truth we feel deep in our chests.

We receive these signals, then we go back to work–the tending, the caring, the abiding by, the responding–we are left with our patterns: the coats we have tried on, the shawls left on a sidewalk for someone else to use, ones so invisible to us that we have adopted them as a part of our skins, some removed then recovered in a later time of life, others stumbled into, given to us, then coats our earth guardians have zipped up to our chins upon being brought into the world. Coats that distract us from the core of our knowing. Coats that we needed until we realized we didn’t. But there is always the return, the promise of moments in time when we remember who we are–when the sun rises and presents a color we haven’t witnessed before, yet somehow recognize, the slip of the tongue of children around us–their simple questions worth asking that tell us systems we deem as ultimate, are not so ultimate after all, and then when we read a message delivered in such a way, that it speaks directly to the God within. Moments in meditation when we reach The Realm of Simply Being, when chords are sequentially delivered from the divine, their melodies like the palms of heaven’s hands, cupped delicately over your ears, and then sometimes the moment is in those brief milliseconds upon waking, before remembering our bodies, our walls, our obligations. These moments present themselves all life long, and in between those moments we wear our coats, and try to move along as the world is moving along, between sun rise and sun down, stepping into footsteps, looking for pathways, finding temporary comfort in coats familiar.

Then there are chapters of times in our lives, where instead of living between these moments, we are among them, when we consistently remember we have machete’s to find a clearing in The Wild, we have our songs and our hands and our blood. Blood unlike, yet very much a part of, the blood that came before us, that created us, carried us, the blood of our neighbors, the blood in the winged above, the blood in the cold below. Blood of mineral and iron and stories–stories made of coats that were gifts, that were left behind, worn until ragged, made anew, dipped in spring water, buried in ash. We are actively alive and inside of every story made up of these Truth Moments, where messages were delivered, and Remembrance Rang through. All the blood before and beyond, given their very own messages of the same Exquisite Infinite.

May waves of these Truth Moments take hold of us all, and carry us for longer and longer amounts of time in all of time’s capacities. May we gain a way of weaving ourselves through our words and actions that are rooted in these Rememberings we all carry. And may we take the time to deliberately remember.

May mothers remember the daughters within themselves, and laugh with mouths so wide-open that they taste sun, and drink in moon–may our feet made-for-dirt and sky, find no inhibitions in our dances, our greetings, our runnings, our work.

May fathers remember the sons within themselves, and pause along pathways to ask their why’s, and how’s, and what for’s–may their throats thirst for Truth, and be quenched in returning to connectivity.

May all of our vessels be recognized as Holy,

all of us look one another in the eye,

in recognition of the sacred.

May our coats be disregarded and used only for good–

celebrated, transmuted, taken off when too heavy.

May we hold the infinite wisdom, as residing in messages abound,

and infuse it’s simple potency into the invisible of our daily lives.

For the world transforms into more balance,

the longer we swim in those moments of remembering,

the more we accept as individuals,

that it is in those moments,

the real work is done.

A Letter to My Students,

Meditate on your dreams daily.

Allow no outside voices

to trample your spirit–

deep, deep down,

The Voice that Knows:

what words make you feel safe,

what thoughts bring you comfort;

what is illusion,

what is Truth. ~ you ~

Made of Love.

Made of Righteousness.

May The Sun Remind You ~

May The Rain Remind You ~

May The Goodness of The World

remind you, that

is what

you are ~

The Paradigm Shift of Education

In every corner of the Earth there are paramount changes occurring. Systems in place that govern our lives are being turned inside out and upside down, as humanity gains awareness in the ways we have been indoctrinated by false idols as to what is normal, what is forbidden, what is accepted, what is truth. We are no longer accepting a “that is just the way it is” defeat—blurred lines between peace, and complacency. Every unspoken and age-old written rule stating “you must” is rebutted with a strong and sincerely posed question of “why?”. Why do we need to operate like this? Not only do we ask others these questions–we are asking ourselves why we have maneuvered, within each of our intricate roles, in the ways we have been maneuvering–contouring ourselves for the comfortability, easy digestion and consumption for a machine we can barely name for all it has infected, for far too long. Why are our priorities, priorities at all?

Education is no exception in our quest of why, in fact it is an integral component of this shift, for education has nothing to do with institution.

In recent years in every educational setting I have been a part of, there is an incessant complaint of teachers concerned with students “always on their phones”, and I have always found the demonizing of cellphones in classrooms to be a missed mark. As a millennial teacher, with social media accounts filled with connections in various parts of the world, of all ages, paths, and backgrounds, it is clear to me that there is a vast gap between awareness of our connection to The Whole, and the linear perspective only reaching so far as what our Facebook feed and local news can deliver. From a single Tweet, Instagram post, and TikTok, we are exposed to the beliefs and experiences of people in the state next-door, country above us, camp below us. We see into the living rooms of leaders, of the privileged, of poverty. Hidden cameras and leaked screenshots reveal and expose. Heroes have become human. Protests in our country have been broadcasted on livestreams of the accounts of “ordinary” people, coinciding with the telling of the very same events from the local newscaster, both stories on the same night contrasting in severity, tone, bias, honesty. Livestreams depicting unwarranted and severe police brutality, organized and peaceful protest are depicted by news channels as being “riots”, placing authority on pedestals, aghast at such unruly behavior by “deranged” citizens. If we already had little to no trust in our systems in place, the contrast in the telling of events between people and paid organizations has only affirmed our disbelief.

As we move into the school year of 2020-2021 gaining knowledge and experience of available virtual learning tools, we add more to our ability to access and reach our students. As I dissect every impulse within me to hang on to the ways in which face-to-face instruction is better in any way compared to virtual instruction, I am left with the simple truth that given a student has a device they can connect to WiFi, they are able to take ownership of, and expand upon their learning like never before. As educators we have the opportunity to enrich and inspire, reaching far beyond the restrictions of campus protocols border-lining on unnecessary policing. The driving force remains the same–are we filled with the intention to prepare students for a world as it is, and as the limitless and versatile world it is becoming? Or for systems of rigidity and rules we don’t believe in–a world that doesn’t exist, that is hanging on by the fragments of operations long since proven ineffective?

The neuroplasticity and patterns of thought of our students will always differ from our own, just as much as generations after them will differ from their own. As I piece material together, create videos, insert links that reference information, add a gif, play with html, I am able to control the steps in which information will be received, and on the student’s end they can move at a pace comfortable for themselves. There are opportunities to expand upon information, then options for deviation from the lessons in order to practice a skill, or gain more awareness of prerequisite information not yet learned.

I feel challenged, yes. But I also feel empowered, more passionate than ever, and ready to connect with and reach students in a time where connection and the ability to discern fact from fiction, is crucial. I have never taken my role as “teacher” lightly, and consider it an honor and tremendous responsibility. After recently overcoming many internal doubts I had of myself, as an educator in the school I am at, during this virtual era, I am realizing that everything I have experienced up until this point has, as usual, prepared me for where I am, with the team and students I am with. For every complaint or frustration a teacher has about teaching virtually, I have a dose of a silver lining for them, and I don’t hold back in my delivery.

In the future I foresee teaching to be an “independent contractor” type of role, as more and more parents opt for homeschooling, and students themselves seek answers, truth, sincerity and authentic instruction. I am willing and able to adapt, grow, and serve my students, connect with people and enrich the lives I come into contact with, whether I am under a blanket of an institution or not. Because education has never been about the building, or the system, or the mandated assessments. Education happens to all of us whether we enroll in a course or take a year off to live and work on a farm. What cannot be bought or given a certificate for is the passion for truth, for uplifting–the driving force of an educator, then the reverence and sacredness of the relationship between teacher and student. And perhaps this shift moving us to adapt, to re-frame, to scaffold, to put ourselves in the shoes of our “clientele” will remind us all of what education, truly is.

On Moonbeams

If you research the benefits of sunlight, there are medical websites that tell you about Vitamin D, it’s mood-enhancing and bone-strengthening qualities, and the way it responds to every cell in your body. Information, stories and discussions on the absorption of moonlight is predominantly affiliated with folklore, tales of turning into a werewolf, tarot sites, spiritual, mystical, and ultimately, separate from the scholarly and scientifically accredited playing field. Hardly a trace of experimentation, research, or any sign of minute inquiry can be detected from academia and science, into how, and then why, we are affected by the moon.

There are Ayurvedic1 studies done on the cooling impact moonbeams have on our nervous system, moonlight being beneficial for inflammation, regulating menstrual cycles, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, increasing fertility, and more. Ayurvedic medicinal practices and herbs are not recognized by the pharmaceutical world. Western medicinal practices relying heavily on pharmaceutical advancement do not highly favor or take seriously the traditions and holistic remedies of the earth. Where a bottle of turmeric powder says “anti-inflammatory”, “increases brain function”, “rich in antioxidants” there is a requirement by the Federal Drug Administration to place an asterisk next to those claims, disclaiming “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease”, discrediting long lines of work done by medicine practitioners, not-so-coincidentally of indigenous and non-European origin. Where is the inquiry, or the tests run, or at bare minimum the acknowledgment of preventative and highly-effective medicine? At this point in time more people are becoming aware of the flaws in the FDA, the invalidity of claims made in the past, claims made only to further an economic agenda or government interest.

We absorb the particles of our environment–fumes, compounds in our water, the type of light we are exposed to. Our skin is an organ that is constantly taking in what we expose it to–even the soap we use to wash our sheets and clothes is taken in. Toxins are released and our bodies work hard to assign everything consumed, to where it would be most useful. Nothing goes unaccounted for, and everything matters. Therefore, the light of the moon, like the light of the sun, is no different. It’s silver blanket and hypnotic radiance is absorbed, and where does it all go? What role does it play in the cells of our bodies? Through the blood in our veins, to our nervous system, what effect does it have on our brain? It moves our wombs—but why, and how? As we gaze into the piercing white light what happens behind our eyes? Moonlight illuminates the plants as they grow, the soil, the earth, so by way of the food we eat, and water we drink, what role is the moon playing? What effect does it have on the animals of the sea, the desert, the birds in the sky?

For the last two nights I was with family tucked away with no street light to disrupt circadian rhythm, and took a significant break from the light of my phone, just letting it completely die without a sense of urgency to charge it up right away. The moon peaked over the mountain around 10pm, to reflect off the water and beat down like a stadium light over a football field. The brightness entranced me–every leaf on the trees around us were as visible as if it were sunlight. Quarter-sized translucent frogs could be seen along the banks of the river; I could read the notes in my music book, and if I wanted to could have written pages upon pages under her glow. With the safety of having family nearby, and being far away from the busy suburbia of my apartment, I slept outside directly underneath the moon, legs sprawled out, hands crossed under my head, as calm as the animals sleeping around me.

As a reiki practitioner of seven years, becoming more and more attuned to the way my body responds to the environment around me, to what I consume in any way, to the way various energetic exchanges make me feel, the moon was medicine I didn’t know I needed. Nothing in the world could have stopped me from laying there, open to receive, cradled in silver.

I was not expecting to start my cycle for at least another two weeks, but on the same day as my brother’s wife, on the night I laid so openly under the moon, I started my cycle significantly earlier than expected. Her daughter was also on her cycle at the time. Where is the scientific and “administrative approved” information on something so widely accepted amongst women as just “something we do”? If it were something happening so closely in the lives of men, would we have more answers? While I am not hurried or demanding in any way to have an explanation, I find it “funny” that in matters such as these, we sweep it into a box of phenomenon not worth serious pursuit, experimentation, questioning, diving into the root and connection it has to all living things. There is still no certainty as to why women sync cycles when in close proximity to one another, or how or why the moon correlates. Ironically, as far as the “medical world” goes, a study lead by a woman named Martha McClintock at Harvard in the 70s2, found that amongst her dorm-mates, they were indeed syncing up and sharing cycles, but for that to be the closest thing to accredited knowledge for something so common and a part of our lives, shows how much more we need women, and I will also say non-white women3, to be in high ranking medical fields. We still have little to no information on the female orgasm, or on the variations of experiences we have with our vaginas in general–from menstruation to sex to miscellaneous occurrences, women have vastly different experiences from one another, which we are constantly uncovering variations of. While men have a very concrete understanding of their genitalia, girls scramble to exchange lessons taught to them, things they read on the internet, experiences had–even in this age of information at our fingertips, nobody really has a handle on so many mysteries of the ins and outs of life with ovaries, the same way we don’t really understand what moonbeams are good for, how they dictate our cycles, what is happening in the body when we absorb her light.

If we are dependent on peer-reviewed articles, or FDA-approved information, we would think the moon to be non-essential, not a vital part of life, not worth diving into. But we know better. The undercurrents of the psyche, hormones, a woman’s womb–the cells and electric currents of our bodies respond to moonbeams. I know it because I feel it, my body responds to the silver blanket over me, and the grass underneath me. There is a kind of charging and cleansing taking place. Tides are moved by the ocean, and surfers are able to predict where to go based on the time of year, based on the moon. Growing up we always knew that beaches would be filled with Portuguese man-o-war jelly-fish, or “blue bubbles” around the time of the full moon. The ocean would come up into yards, filled with debris from the shore–rocky and spewing. Then as nights pass and there is less silver, the tides return to being shallow, calm and still. Our bodies, and our wombs of gushing current are directly affected by her in the same way, reminding us we are a part of the earth, made of the earth, and return to earth. Rain falls and basins are washed clean, valleys of mountains are cleared, veins of the earth in motion.

I am ever-leaning in, to the space between worlds–between words written, words left out, words extracted, and that which cannot be explained with them. Across landscapes and cultures the moon is associated with feminine nature, and the sun associated with masculine. “Mother Moon, Father Sun.” Yin, (feminine, dark, still) and Yang (masculine, bright, moving) represent the dualism that is inherent in every living thing. As we restore balance on earth, and within ourselves, we lean into knowledge that has never left us. This Inner Knowing has always carried us–advantageous and feared.

  1. Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine, where everything you consume and absorb–every spice, herb, oil, and everything absorbed through the skin organ–is medicine and directly effects your organs and cells in your body.
  2. http://www.mum.org/mensyn.PDF
  3. I say non-white because many women of color have experiences, outlooks on life and background knowledge to offer that differs from what we think of as “normal” or “accepted”–often times providing more holistic and thorough approaches of preventative care vs. symptom treatment. We as human beings tend to operate within and by the means of the structures we have in place that we accept as-is. There are things in place that we question and want to change, then there are things in place we cannot possibly question because we don’t even see them as being in place at all, so acclimated to their positions in our lives. When we have people from different backgrounds and ways of life in positions of power, what we find is a more thorough and in-depth account of the subject. To take things further, we should question why current “positions of power” are more respected than if we encountered a medicine person without degree or title, in a place where degrees and titles do not equate to respectability, but I digress, per usual.

Invocation

If it is a clean-shoe and giggling stroll through the park, on the crispest of days, you’ll always be yearning for fire, desperate for even a flicker. If it is wrapped in satin and bought at the mall, you’ll wonder what the cotton feels like that she made from pieces of her youth and drapes around her shoulders every full moon. If she sums it up with memes and words she never wrote, you’ll remember the maddening covet, propelling you from just a sentence once scribbled on your refrigerator. From the oval pattern of her steps leading to the passenger side of your car, to the song in her sighs, and sage oil in her hair, she is leaving you wishing to be able to explain the phenomenon, whether you are beside her, or watching her twirl under the water below you, 52 feet deep.

I hope that while you lick batter off of your fingers, you momentarily feel as though they are my own, and that the .02-second-moment leaves you mute for the entire day. When you are slipping on your smile-for-the-picture, teeth-baring grin, which you have practiced since the 1st grade, and you’re standing near the entrance of a cafe built in 1943, I hope that the melody to escape the splinter-ridden doors cradles itself onto your skin, and follows you home. You place it into the box of items you don’t have an answer to, a file cabinet, a category, a label for. And you continue to play it, long after you’ve forgotton all names.

She is entrancing you on your living room floor, adoring your heart by way of devotional movement. You wake up and wonder where your mind had to go in order to conjure such gestures. In your waking hours, in the layer of reality just under what can be seen, you spend your time looking out for anything as tantalizing as what you see in your dreams.

I hope she writes you poetry that scares your name out of you–yes. If she doesn’t invoke The Absolute Entirety of Your Heart, she isn’t the one. The Unravelling of The Fabric of All You Think You Know, waking up cooled beneathe branches of spider-webbed new, and dying-sinking trees, on earth men have not paved or trimmed for your ease or your liking, the truth swiftly moves to sit it’s page on your forehead: you have never fallen in love with The Woods, for how could you, if you’ve never set sail to meet her?

In all the tender reasons we fall for people, may The Ability to Fly be one of yours.

I know you like simple, straightforward and logical sequences that fit into an understanding militaristic, routined, and packaged. I know that a psychology textbook brings you momentary relief from the incessant plea for rationale–the ever-liquidating “Live, Laugh, Love” mug you hold in your hands. False Order giving you temporary satisfaction. This is not a homely or agreeable Tale of Good and Evil. Predictability will not  suffice. A torn page in your Book of Being is in tatters on the street, and you’ve tried in vain to make your story meaningful without it. Kept afloat by definitions, you peel away at life vests you’ve been prescribed for too long. You long to be brave, to gaze deeply into the faces you don’t want others to see.

 

 

 

 

Authenticity & Identity Lesson

In my ELL classes we have been talking about words nationality and culture, exploring what they mean to us, having discussions in and outside of class, interweaving stories and perceptions from other people around the world by way of clips, Ted Talks, and reading about perspectives outside of Hawaii. Today’s discussions were exceptionally meaningful. Maybe because we have already been discussing these matters, so the kids have been warming up? I have been learning to ease into projects, and expose them to as much as possible before dropping the project rubric on them.  We watched Ted Talk by Hetain Patel entitled Who am I? Think Again. In his talk he has dancer Yuyu Rau translate for him until he finally joins her in speaking something other than the repeated Mandarin paragraph he “learned by heart” during his visit to China He proceeds by using various accents, emphasizing his many experiences and suits of culture he has tried on for himself, bringing him closer to his own authenticity. Throughout the lesson we looked at the transcript, discussing words like assume, assumption, authentic and authenticity. Other words were gone over and of course each class was differentiated in our explorations, according to who was in class and what questions they had. (I had little to no input in discussions). Here are the highlights:

  • One boy, who is Vietnamese, said he is assumed to be Chinese when he goes to Chinatown with his aunty, and sometimes he will be spoken to in Chinese. He also said in a different part of class that he thinks more people in younger generations have a harder time answering questions about where they’re from or what their culture is.
  • One girl expressed how she wishes she did know more about her culture, often feeling left out in one group, then not completely a part of any single group. Springing from this we talked about what it feels like to not belong, and how there must be so many people in the world who feel this way.
  • In all classes, speaking about the word “assume” surprisingly brought on discussions about what we assume when we meet people, and why we construct those assumptions. The classes came up with clothes, skin color and then of course accent and language being main causes for our assumptions. We started to then go into why these assumptions are made and why they are different for each of us.

I split the class into groups of 3, having one person as recorder, one artist, and one leader. They had a blank white sheet of paper, a computer, and markers. Going through the transcript on the Ted Talk, (which also can be translated, and which was helpful for my Chinese, Korean and Japanese students) they had to record and illustrate all of the things they found that make Hetain who he is, authentically. Collections of visuals, quotes and words were written and drawn on the sheet such as “Born and Raised in England” “Bruce Lee philosophy” and “Indian clothes not COOL” and they each had to share their creations with the class.

Overall this was an interactive way to explore components of culture and discuss ways we’re authentic because of experiences, as well as the small and large pieces that make up our culture and identity.

hetain patel