Death in the Dooryard

Grief is a fussy, needy house guest. 

We can’t please her no matter what. The coffee isn’t Fair Trade, the bed a little too firm and the shower pressure “just okay.” We’ve overlooked the details this house guest of grief picks up on. Her particular tastes, wants–the needed things!–and her locked stare on the enormous hole that a loss has made works to make us edgy, out of sorts and above all, terribly vulnerable. It’s only in time that we come to thank her for her gifts. 

She also comes with the gift that we may have been unaware was overdue: the stripping away of the mundane, as if our entire bodies were dipped in a bucket of turpentine and the weeks, months, years of chipping paint disintegrates in a second, burns our skin, forces our eyes to squeeze out their necessary brine. She takes the unnecessary completely away and then scours, scraps, santizes. She then beckons us to be the nurse on duty: How will we care for our cleaned-out wounds, will we figure out how to wrap the bandages and apply the healing salve? 

Depending on the nature of the loss, and what it might trigger inside of us, will determine what must be rehabilitated inside of us. Instead of muscling through, we cave inwardly, silent, still, immobile. In that cave, we pick up a needle, a thread and start to sew a cloak, a cape of survival. If we are very lucky, it is a garment that BECOMES us, not one we don at times of devastation. We become the medicine beyond our grief that loss left. In this, that fussy, needy house guest is brilliant, wise beyond her years. 

And so I was reminded of these things about ten days ago. Excuse all of the mixed metaphors of the above paragraphs but a dismantling of reality will do that to a writer. On March 9th, Michael and I went down to Boston (Cambridge, actually-) to see one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Emily Scott Robinson. The plan was to leave on Thursday on the 3:30 bus, hop on the T at South Station and find the inn where we were staying before dinner–all of which we did, although I just about had a panic attack on the T. NOT a fan of being tucked into small places made of metal with a bunch of strangers–but that’s just me! After checking into the Friendly Inn at Harvard Square (packed with spirits, BTW-), we hustled over to the Russell House for dinner, which was lovely, if not a bit loud. I had oysters and a salad (and a dirty martini) and Michael had a salad, veg risotto and some wine. I’d been looking forward to the trip for a long time, that Friday, March 10th, was the start of my Spring break from UNE. After canceling Thursday’s classes, my vaca had started early! Yah! Michael, having grown up in Newton and having attended MIT, was right at home and feeling the familiar vibes. 

We got to the Sinclair about forty minutes before the show started. Hardly anyone was there, and so we got right up front, inches away from the mic. I was so pumped, so excited! However, to my great disappointment, Emily only played four songs all night. She was touring with other singers this time–Alissa Amodor and Violet Bell–and although the mixed talent was appreciated, I was going to see her. The crowd was a little weird, too. Is it the sober curious movement? Surely all those Harvard kids are used to letting their hair down. ‘Subdued’ was an understatement, and my hoots and hollers and singing along got me some eye-rolls and sideways glances. 

 The show ended at 10:50 PM, and, with my hopes dampened, we made our way back to the haunted Friendly Inn. I know it’s silly, but I was honestly, truly upset. I had wanted to be taken into the soul of Emily Scott Robinson through her music, her songs–they’d broken me open when I saw her on November 6th, 2021, in a little mountain town named Sparta, North Carolina. Emily is a NC native, like me. She grew up in Greensboro–where I was born–and moved out to Colorado chasing dreams (yup, me too). I’ve always felt a visceral connection to her and on that fateful night in Sparta, I got to meet her, chat, throw my arms around her and tell her that she was the perfect mix of June Carter and Joni Mitchell. So, yeah. ‘Disappointed’ is an understatement. We got into the room (roasting!) and I lit some sage to ban the ghosts, blabbing on about the ‘false advertising’ we’d been subjected to. (*Emily was the headliner so I do feel justified in complaining about the measly four songs). Finally, I washed my face, climbed into bed and shut up. 

The next day, Michael said to me, “I’m sorry last night wasn’t exactly what you’d expected. What can we do to change the channel?” 

“Just take me home. I want to get out of here and go home,” I said as I stuffed my backpack. “Like, now. No breakfast, no showers. Let’s just go!” 

And so we did. We made the 10 AM bus back to Portland and got back to Avalon by noon. Gone for less than 24 hours. Our house-sitter texted that she’d left around 11:15 AM, and that Molly had been walked. I was looking forward to taking a long walk with Molly–too much sitting on buses and Ts! I went upstairs to change into my exercise clothes and that’s when I heard it: a wail I will never forget as long as I live. For a second, I thought maybe Michael had started to chop wood for the maple boil and he’d slipped and really injured himself. I did not know my husband could make a sound like the one I heard that day and, depending on your perspective, it may have been easier to take had he chopped off a finger. 

In our absence, our hens who had been left in their cozy coop, had either been terrorized by an animal or had turned on themselves–they were all dead. Three of them had their necks torn out and two were just dead. We had not asked our house-sitter to do anything with them; they had food, water, a heat lamp that was on a timer. Plus, we knew we’d be back before anyone could say Avalon Acres. 

If they got spooked, and freaked out, then they very well could have killed each other. When chickens turn on each other, it can be for a variety of reasons: Pecking order got out of hand, overcrowding, bullying (different than pecking ), a sickness/a sick chicken, boredom, not enough protein in their diet, stress. Chickens also need to get out of their coops at least once a day, despite not liking the cold or wet. They need things to peck at, to scratch; in our chicken yard right now, those things consist mainly of patches of snow in various stages of melting and refreezing. We also learned that once a chicken sees the sight of blood, they kind of go berserk and lose it– a chicken frenzy. 

Instead of going further with details, rationalizing the mysterious circumstances or wallowing on the page in the canyon of guilt Michael and I both feel (it DID happen while we were gone-), I want to highlight those gifts the needy houseguest of grief left us with. On a personal level, I had to work through old feelings of perceived unworthiness: Who AM I  to think we could pull off this farm thing? Look what happened because of us silly novices! I don’t deserve the privilege of the rural life (and on and on). Added to this litany of self-abuse, I was triggered from a past life, or lives: in several past lives, things had gone badly in my absence. Whether it was returning home from plundering, fighting or exploring, I have had plenty of experiences in past lives of coming home to find nothing left and the dead all around. With the backlog of guilt from not being able to protect what was mine from these past experiences, my invisible tee-shirt for this life announces, “Not on my watch!” I got you, don’t worry with me on the scene. I’ll be there, By God. 

The tragedy brought to the forefront a need to re-evaluate the many different roles we’ve fallen into. In other words, we’d siloed ourselves in certain duties and responsibilities, all the while neglecting the ‘team-work’ aspect of running Avalon. This unfortunate event gave us a chance to review those roles and re-commit to doing more as a team–shared vision, shared responsibility. For many of you reading this newsletter, you know that Michael possesses the Divine Masculine so beautifully: ACTION, rational thought, building, weighing options and risks, seeing the long view with a very big dose of vision thrown in. Me? I could sit under my favorite tree and count pine needles, be contented to drum under the full moon and light the ceremonial fires round and round the calendar wheel. Had we not communicated effectively about what the chickens needed? Had we failed them, and ourselves, with some unspoken detail or undersight? How did falling into our siloed duties play into this tragedy, if at all? I gathered eggs, helped to clean the coop from time to time and tossed them scratch but maybe I was leaving too much for him to manage. 

Maybe, maybe, maybe. Speculation is a game we humans can play all night long; as long as there’s human imagination and the force of guilt locked and loaded, that game can go on ad nauseam. But at some point, you have to stop. You have to have mercy on yourself. You have to forgive. 

That is one of the hardest things to do, it seems. Many of us feel that if we forgive ourselves,  it means we’ve moved on– a hint of exoneration seeping down our faces along with the tears. I can never, ever forget what happened to our beloved chickens, AND I will move on with a renewed respect for owning and caring for domesticated animals. I will move on with a refined sense of direct communication with my husband, and a deeper acceptance of our different communication styles. I will move on with even more willingness to turn my vulnerability into the medicine I need to grow. Death blows one open and urges us to move on with more knowledge, more skill and more understanding. 

Because if you don’t learn from bad things that happen to you, what is the point of going through it? From the soul’s perspective, all it wants to do is grow. The last time I checked, spiritual growth and soul evolution generally require some pain, sometimes some suffering, oftentimes, some loss. We get to whittle ourselves down to the most concentrated version of compassion that our humility can withstand. And that stingy, fussy, needy houseguest of grief knows that all too well. 

We had an awful thing happen here at Avalon and we are learning from it. I can be proud of my ability to let the courage of brutal self-examination set my course moving forward. Our hearts are still breaking for “the girls” and as with any trauma on this scale, things won’t ever quite be the same. Things will be different with how we work with this land, how we honor and respect the risks that come with a rural lifestyle. I must believe that is a good thing, and I truly believe that Fortune Favors the Bold. We were emboldened to leave our life in Portland, our tidy condo with zero responsibility, and our friends to begin a new adventure and to carry out a dream. I would not trade that for anything. The gifts, this time, for daring greatly have come in unsightly, uncomfortable packaging. But they are gifts all the same. 

Thank you for reading this story of loss. If something has gone away for you, if something has been lost, if something has left or died because you couldn’t protect it, please do not blame, shame or speculate. Be Human, and know that you are not alone in your pain. 

Welcome that house guest in. Her neediness will pursue you until you surrender. Trust me: She is wise in her peculiar ways. 

Shine On,

Mary Katherine


We Shall Overcome…One Day

“No One is Free Until We Are ALL Free” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

U.S. resident, 1787: “Do we have a Republic or a Monarchy, Dr. Franklin?”

Ben Franklin, leaving the Constitutional Convention: “A Republic, if you can keep it.” 

Dr King’s declaration about the nature of freedom is almost philosophical in its tone while Ben Franklin’s infamous quote comes with a warning, ‘if you can keep it.’ When I included the King quote in one of my Freshmen English paper prompts, most 18 year olds were not really able to grasp the implication of how ‘no one’ can be free until ‘all’ are free. It takes an immense amount of empathy and awareness to contemplate that, a lot of listening and perhaps asking hard questions; and to Franklin’s point, “keeping” an entity as foundational to freedom as a REPUBLIC is the whole point–a Republic needs good caretakers. These precious democracies do NOT “keep” themselves. Government, civil rights, freedom–they aren’t “ideas;” ONLY in practice do they have any meaning at all. Only in the Good Will of the citizens can they even thrive. 

I could wax poetic for a long time here today about the precariousness of our democracy, or as another great thinker among us, Dr. Cornel West put it, “the great experiment called democracy.” We’ve come a long way…and yet. I’m not the first person to observe that things in this country are moving backwards, that progress also could be added to that aforementioned list of ideals. The fight for the rights of ALL people that Dr. King advocated for (and died for) is still our fight. We are still trying to keep our Republic. 

Or are we? Many feel deflated, worn out, hopeless. Many believe that politics is a low-vibing arena of bi-partisanship that they really aren’t interested in sullying themselves in. Personally, I trust (and am more interested in) what happens in my LOCAL environment as far as governing goes, and how to affect change. It’s just more relative, more pertinent to my experience. 

As bad as it is, many of us are grateful to live here and not some other country. I know I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. And as I grow older, I’m curious about how the application of freedom does, in fact, get carried out. Were we the people Dr. King and Dr. Franklin envisioned as the executors of justice, of civil rights, of freedom? How are we measuring up as the lucky Caretakers of a Republic? Does injustice, oppression and discrimination happen to ‘other’ people or does it have to happen to us directly for us to get involved? 

None are free until all are free. Thank you, Dr. King. 

Find out today where your water comes from. Find out who is on your school board. Reach out to a neighbor and see if they need their driveway shoveled. Be the Citizen you imagine exists here in our land of the Free. 

Shine On, 

Mary Katherine


Reminder #1: There is still time to join my Time Machine Mavens class! I can take ONE MORE STUDENT for this class on Past Lives and how to learn from them through the written word. For a fuller description, check out my website page! Starts Jan 24th (6 PM Zoom) and runs for 4 weeks 

Reminder #2: DRUM MAKING WORKSHOP with Jane E King! Make your own Medicine Drum with an extraordinary teacher and ceremonialist. All-day event takes place at Avalon Acres on  Saturday March 25th; for more info, check out my website page! An incredible experience, if you’ve been wanting a drum


“It is time to gather your tribe” 

What is your soul trying to reveal to you? Are you a woman rising up to the occasion of shedding the old and proudly wearing the vestments of a seer, healer, teacher, path-maker, bard or other kind of mover-n-shaker? 

Do you crave the company of others who are dancing their inner light for all to see, unafraid, uninhibited, and very-much overdue? 

To speak your heart’s desires in a soulful, safe container with others who are setting little fires of bold love in their precious lives is much needed–and from what I have witnessed in my clients–much appreciated when the container is available. That’s why I have designed an opportunity twice a month for women to gather in such a way. 

Women in ancient times used to gather to do their work together–washing at the river, pounding wool, grinding corn, sewing and weaving. As they worked, they sang, they talked, they gave advice. In our current technological age where everyone is a broadcaster and memes with Kermit the Frog give us our daily “advice,” it is my belief that something deep inside us women is calling us back to sit together, to share and hear the stories of others. When one or more are gathered in a way that is meant to move us beyond the mundane world, the work of the heart is initiated…and the soul gets its needed floor time. 

On The Persian Rug Series will take place twice a month (the first Thursday evening of the month and the 3rd Saturday morning of the month) at my Portland office, 640 Brighton Ave (with the exception of April 6th*); in these circles we will: 

  • Have council to share stories and witness others
  • Guided meditation if the circle falls near a holiday
  • Witness triumphs, lessons learned, and downloads
  • Do energy work for anyone needing a healing boost (*although you do NOT need to be an energy worker to attend) 
  • On occasion, Tarot or Oracle readings 

The dates for our circles are as follows: 

__Thursday, Feb 2nd 5:30 PM- 7 PM (IMBOLC! Guided meditation to Brigid) 

__Saturday, Feb 18th 10:30- 12 Noon (New moon Ritual) 

__Thursday, March 2nd 5:30 PM-7 PM (Intention setting for Sacred Discernment) 

__Saturday, March 18th 10:30 AM- 12 NOON (Spring Equinox!) 

__Thursday, April 6th AT AVALON! (Drum Circle under the FULL MOON! Arrive by 6 PM, end time “until”) 

__Saturday, April 22nd  10:30 AM-12 NOON (*this is actually the 4th Sat of the month; Earth Day and guided journey to GAIA!) 

COST: Suggested Donation $10-$20 [if you need a spiritual boost and cannot afford this sliding scale, please contact me directly & ask about a trade] 

RSVP: is Required! Please RSVP as space is limited (6-7 ppl)  at my Portland office. We will sit, well, ON THE PERSIAN RUG! So please bring a back-jack, comfy cushion, pillow or yoga bolster. Tea will be served upon arrival and an altar will be set. 

**Sending your PayPal or Venmo donation saves your spot; if you plan on attending, please remit at least 48 hours in advance. Keep these dates with descriptions handy and do reach out with any questions! or (207) 939-6863 

Our first circle on 02/02 will be IMBOLC! How exciting to commence this series with Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of Healing, Hearth & Home, Smithcraft and Poetry…

Hope to see you in circle! 



with Snow Shoe at Avalon Acres 

Water Song Ceremony by Stony Brook

*followed by lunch!

Friday, Feb 10th, 9am -1 PM 

What secret might you hear in the forest of Avalon? Do you know how hungry the trees are for your admiration? Is it time to let the sacred waters wash away the residue of painful memories, signaling the new iteration of human you are becoming?

If you need a forest soak, communion with a soulful community, or to realign your body with the tones and colors of Mother Earth, this Nature Retreat at Avalon is for you! 

We will also be learning and singing the Water Song, or as it is known in the Northern New England Native American tribes, “Nee-Bee-WA-Bow.” 

A morning spent on the land, a council in the barn, an honoring of the flow of water–the source of life itself–will be what fills your tank. A delicious vegan lunch ends our time together. 

WHERE: Avalon Acres, 167 Mansion Rd, Hollis, ME

WHEN:  Friday, February 10th, 9 AM- 1 PM 

WHAT TO BRING: Snowshoes, water bottle, journal & pen, appropriate clothes for outdoors, and click-sticks if you have them (I have plenty-)

COST: $45 Remitting payment via PayPal or Venmo saves your spot; RSVP at least 48 hrs in advance 

CONTACT: Contact Mary Katherine with any questions: or 207-939-6863 


Canceling Is A Cop-Out


Well, happy December! I, for one, never thought we’d see the 12th month. Does it feel like there was like–I don’t know–4 years packed into this one?  

One of the hardships and mental drains that defined my 2022 was the brutal but much needed review of who and what I truly wanted in my life, especially in terms of relationships. Recognizing a relationship isn’t what it used to be is difficult. On one hand, you may be feeling the pain of ‘what once was;’ you likely have some confusion around what to do, if anything, to make it viable again. You may feel some horror at the prospects of letting it go. However, from a strictly theoretical point of view, if it’s really not working anymore, letting it go should be a relief, right? Don’t we strive to participate in relationships with people who honor our needs (and we honor theirs), appreciate our quirks (and we appreciate theirs!) and celebrate the trusted, on-going moments of growth that only a loving, respectable relationship can provide? 

I wish it was that easy, or even that straightforward. 2022 has been a work-in-progress sorting out which relationships fit into the above-mentioned profile and which ones do not. An utterly exhausting exercise in and of itself, it was a double-whammy to realize some of the relationships I was trying to salvage were with folks who really weren’t that interested in fighting for our relationship or in figuring out why things were broken, stale or unsatisfying.  

Or maybe they, like me, just didn’t know how to end it. If you read my last newsletter, then you’ll remember that a massive cleaning-of-my-psychic and spiritual houses has been underway since the end of May. I don’t think I was quite ready to grasp that this sanitation process was to be applied to a handful of friends, some of them very dear to me. 

And breaking up with a friend can be as messy and just as painful as breaking up with an intimate partner or lover. In fact, most people really do not have a clue as to how to compassionately have a friend-breakup. Oftentimes, you just slip away from each other, the ‘recognition’ that something has devolved between you not addressed at all. But I think you’ll agree that unspoken words of betrayal and loss still haunt us, even if the slippage feels benign. The effect of not acknowledging something that once stood sacred in our lives will take up residency in our oldest, darkest places of hurt. I think this may be because those shadowy caverns are our childhood places. Places where the little girl or little boy who wasn’t asked to sit at the lunch table with others lives. It’s where the one who wasn’t picked for kickball lives, and the one who did not receive an invite to the party. Our ability to actually ‘grow up’ is based on how successful our social bonds were when we were learning about the world, and we learn early on that rejection hurts. 

Because I received so much gratitude and kudos for bearing my soul in my last newsletter, I’m going to try and re-assert some of that vulnerability in this one. With such a commitment to authenticity, some of you might not like what I’m about to say. Please know it’s only my opinion, and my intention is merely philosophical: for you to think about the troubling and nuanced ways of how we all bear or break our relations with other human beings. 

I believe canceling someone from your life is a cop-out and naming anyone who doesn’t jive with your energetic reality as someone who is ‘toxic’ is also a grave disservice to your very soul. Relationships happen to be the exclusive penthouse wherein the soul has the opportunity to grow. Without meaningful relationships, life would be miserable! And we’d know nothing of substance about ourselves. Without difficult, sometimes challenging relationships, our hearts would never deepen and our ability to truly build the megaphone of compassion would be lost. Relationships–intimate partner ones, family ones and friend ones–are our lives’ wisepointers. They show us what lessons we came here to learn, what karmic contracts to work through. They stretch us emotionally and sustain us when we need it the most. And they also teach us that the seduction of “getting our way” is a default setting designed to protect and defend. A hardy relationship is one which has seen and weathered a variety of storms…and revels in its own happy container when the seas are calm. 

And that’s why ghosting and unfriending and canceling people from your life is dangerous and could result in the upset of a half-realized human. The repercussions are far-reaching but there’s a bigger issue at play: our propensity to avoid people who do not share our particular perspective and to only gravitate to the ones who mirror our own values works to create the deadly polarization we’re presently experiencing in our country (and beyond). Is it possible that the polarization epidemic has given rise to the cancel culture, or is it the other way around? 

Just to be entirely clear, I am not advocating for anyone to stick around for abuse, violence, neglect in a relationship or to stay in even an atrophied relationship. But if you do agree with my assertion that relationships are the school teachers of our lives, why then is it so easy to give up on them? I want to also recognize that not all relationships are necessarily forged in the fires of trust, loyalty, levity or even friendliness. With the ubiquitous nature of social media and the dizzying communication tools of texting and email, we are “in touch with” a whole lot of people these days. But do we really have solid relationships with these people? Not likely. It’s easy to surface-feed on “friends” these days. So, perhaps some of the relationship wreckage is due to the fact that the relationship in question really didn’t have good footing in the first place. 

I have talked to so many people who have experienced friend break-ups this year, many of them confounded as to what they “did.” If you’re feeling ignored, snubbed or otherwise unsure about a friend, it might not have anything to do with you. It’s 2022! That person is probably just busy/distracted. But it’s human nature to assume that we did something wrong; also, we can go to the dark place with these ruminations. I’ll add that as a matter of checking in with yourself, if you are feeling ignored or forgotten, ask yourself: Who am I ignoring? Who have I forgotten about? If you’re feeling unseen, you might be putting the energy out there in the cosmos. I believe ‘what comes around goes around.’ 

As a matter of spiritual hygiene, I went to my upper world guide with this conundrum. My heart still hurt so deeply over the two friend break-ups I endured this year and none of my rituals, ceremonies or prayers were really doing much to heal the loss. And so, Athena–the Goddess of Wisdom and War–gave me some very simple but wise action steps to take that I’d like to share with you. 

In the event that you (or the person you are in relationship with) have recognized that the relationship is starting to wither or has weathered some uninvited change, then acknowledging this fact is the first step. This can be as easy as saying to them (or texting!), ‘I’m sensing some distance creeping in between us and I’m wondering if you’re feeling it too? Would you be up for a chat?’ [DO NOT discuss or explore what could be going ‘wrong’ over your phone or email! No!] 

Athena then explained that one of two likely outcomes after acknowledgment would present: 1) Reassurance, or 2) Reveal. 

In Reassurance, the person who sensed that the relationship was amiss is, well, reassured that All Is Well. A classic case of “I’ve been stressed/busy/overwhelmed” might be the reason; reassuring the person that they did nothing wrong is essentially the purpose of this tack. 

In Reveal, something is indeed amiss in the relationship. This stage of exchange is for both parties to hear the others’ perspective, explore where the breakdown happened (communication, assumptions, trigger) and to own whatever role each played. Listening with the ears of the heart is crucial. You absolutely want to avoid the defense position here, and it’s best if you have some non-violent communication tools up your sleeve in order for this conversation to be as helpful as possible. 

Once the Revealing has taken place, Athena explained that there are then another set of outcomes which will play out: Working Through It or Honor and End. 

In Working Through It, heartfelt apologies are the first step. It’s important to not get bogged down with why something happened the way it did, as ongoing explanations do signal defensiveness. Both parties agree to resolve the issue(s) with forgiveness first and clear action steps to act more responsibly in the future. For instance, if it was a communication mis-fire, perhaps you talk about what you will do in the future to change your language choices.  Identifying needs–and speaking them–is also a stop to make in this phase, and will help to dictate the needed action steps. 

However, there is another option: Honor and End.  This stage is appropriate if you both have realized that Working Through It is not an option. There could be a myriad of reasons for this: too much time has passed; respect has been irrevocably lost; positions on what to do to resolve the issue might be in opposition to each other; the karmic contract is up and therefore, the desire to carry on simply is not there. Although not a complete list, it covers many scenarios. 

When we are too impulsive to cancel someone in an effort to extract ‘toxicity’ from our lives, we are robbing ourselves of honestly healing from a relationship that ends. This “flowchart” offered by Athena makes the process a little more gentle, and a lot more holistic. Goodbyes are never easy but they are part of life. No one is exempt from loss. 

It takes someone brave to capitulate to this process. And I’m fairly certain that the friends I’ve lost this year would still be people who needed to move on from my life even after going through these thoughtful steps. However, we’d have healing and closure to take with us on our respective journeys. 

I am so thankful for this instruction from Athena and pray that, in the event that another misfire happens in a relationship I care about, I’ll have the courage to walk through these steps. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. 

In closing, I want to wish everyone a very blessed Yule season. It is the time of quiet contemplation, of rest and of dwelling beside the teacher of darkness. May gentle self-inquiry be with you! 

Shine On,

Mary Katherine


Going Under…

Hello and Happy Fall!

It’s been a minute. 

Generally, I send my newsletters out at those cherished stops of the wheel (Solstices, Equinoxes and cross-quarter sabbats). However, the Summer Solstice came and went and no newsletter. Then Lughnasasa snuck up on me, and no newsletter. Argh! I was determined to get my “news” out for the Fall Equinox. 

The fact is: A lot has been going on, and the following is a very personal and very revealing “update” on me. I have trimmed down some details for sake of brevity but suffice it to say that the summer of 2022 proved to be one of the most difficult periods of life I’ve experienced. 

I’ll start my story with some background: A much-anticipated training I took at the end of May with Animas Valley Institute launched me into an initiation, a personal crisis, a dark night of the soul. 

The training was around mirroring, and the art of council. I had wanted to learn how to guide using the techniques of mirroring and council ever since I was guided by two phenomenal women I’ll call Fran and Tiffany. Located on a remote island off the coast of Maine, in June of 2007, I participated in a women-only retreat designed for any woman who wanted to have a ‘soul encounter’ through an immersion in nature.

The practice of immersing oneself in nature, walking with the spirit of the island, consisted of being outside, fasting from 6 AM to 5 PM. Once we returned to the meeting place at 5 PM, we broke our fast in silence then joined one another in council (there were around twelve women). Being in council meant speaking from the heart, and listening from the heart. And each and every one of us told our story of the day: what we experienced, what signs and signals nature offered us, what bubbled up that was difficult to sit with. To really get to the core, the heart of the matter, one must be still. Sadly, stillness is not a practice or a propensity anyone in the modern world is very familiar with.

That fateful retreat led me to do many more retreats with Fran. I’ve not only participated numerous times in what she calls ‘Walks’ or ‘Wanders’, I’ve experienced dream councils where Fran guides you through the territory of a particular dream you feel called to investigate. Both with dream circles as well as nature councils, the soul-charged technique of mirroring is employed.

When was the last time you SAT on Mother Earth for eleven hours? To be instead of do, to rest and reflect instead of organize and execute is a gift only wise people give themselves. But the juicy part was the mirroring: after you shared your story with the group, Fran and Tiffany re-told your story back to you, implementing metaphor and tossing about images in a way that told the story under the story. Fran might mention a poem from the opening council the night before; Tiffany might back-pedal to something you mentioned in passing, in casual conversation over dinner. It’s really hard to describe how powerful this experience is; it takes a skilled guide to hold that much space with active listening and mental tracking. And it’s transformative. I knew what ‘happened’ to me out there but after sharing it in circle, with witnesses and Fran and Tiffany working their magic?! So healing. Hence, from that very first circle, I was hooked. I wanted to hold space in that way, on those deeply engaging levels.

It is revelatory what becomes of the human mind when the only demands of the body are sitting, watching, listening, observing. With no distractions, the soul speaks. On a wander, you are encouraged to ‘follow the thread’ of how your soul is nudging you toward this reflection or that; if it’s freedom you’ve been craving, maybe you take off your shoes, your shirt, your bra and dance around. The edge you might be walking could be one of grief, of loss, maybe even anger so you build an altar made of seaweed and pine cones to honor these emotions. With the ego having a time-out, other systems of engagement are able to come forth. And our souls get busy inciting a sense of wonder, of curiosity that easily takes over our reality. Plus, the extended stay in nature allows for one to hear the innermost truths about ourselves that are waiting to be revealed. Whether you want to hear them or not…

Fast forward fifteen years and it’s 2022. I was finally ready to commit to taking my long-ago desire to be a guide, a mirror for others, to the next level. The technique of mirroring is a staple for the programs at Animas Valley Institute, an organization based in Durango, Colorado and founded by Bill Plotkin. An organization where vision quests are the substantial bulk of their offerings, AVI also offers a variety of retreats and apprenticeships in guiding. If I was going to be a Fran, I needed to start with some of their foundational workshops.

I landed on “The Art of Council and Mirroring” which was scheduled for the last week in May, in Vermont. I did a quick Google Map search and figured I could make the drive from Hollis to Shaftsbury, VT in about four and a half hours. The facility was called Spirit Hollow and was run impeccably by a woman who is an Animas-trained guide. I’ll stop short of sharing everything that transpired in those five days at Spirit Hollow because, frankly, I’m not sure I have the language to get anywhere close to do it justice (but more for the reason of confidentiality). That much “time-out-of-time” does something funky to one’s perceptions, and much of what I experienced happened to all of those in attendance. At the risk of sounding cliche, I’ll just say: you had to be there. I’m not talking about levitating or roaming the woods naked with deer antlers affixed to my head. I’m talking about something much more extraordinary than that: the Descent to Soul. If you think sitting alone fasting on an island sounds pretty intense, imagine the immersion happening for five days, albeit not fasting. Imagine being in company with some of the most articulate, passionate people you could ever meet. Imagine not being able to get to know them by asking the (prohibitive) questions of where are you from, what do you do and the like. These more authentic ways of interaction split my heart wide open, and made carvings on my psyche with a spiritual precision that unlocked something I hadn’t anticipated: meeting an alternative Me.

But was it a meeting, or a remembering? Again, it would be difficult to attempt to explain how and why the emergence of my soul identity revealed itself. A descent to soul often includes meeting your shadow. And meeting one’s shadow is hardly pleasant. Who wants to cozy up to every single insecurity they’ve ever known, be shown every single one of their methods of protection? And! After seeing these things, try to puzzle out what replaces modes of protection, once the reasoning behind those behaviors is lovingly unraveled and understood, in the face of Awakening? What, by God, can sustain a soul after this type of spiritual workout?

Trying to answer these things is one reason this newsletter is three months late. I walked into a mental, emotional and spiritual crisis. Admittedly, I enjoy evoking hyperbole for the sake of a good yarn but I do not exaggerate when I say: I initiated myself into a dark night of the soul. Whether I was ready to look at, sit with and admire the contours of soul and shadow mattered not–I was swimming in it, swinging from vine to vine in the costly endeavor of seeing all aspects of myself. I unwittingly unburdened myself with my persona–that adoption of conditioning that churns out our personality. Like any good dark night, this one asked me Who are you? Are you the sum of all of your woundings, your triggers? Is your coat of arms a little too snug? Lay it down, I heard over and over again.

No mud, no lotus. If you want to touch the flame, be prepared to be burned. And nothing compares to that flame! When you come to terms with your shadow, you get to own it. No one tells you this is one of the most empowering feelings in the world! Yes, you have to go through hell to realize it. And another irony is that I had no idea what to do with myself upon re-entering my life after the training. Well, that’s not exactly true. I thought I had the world by its balls, as the strict review of who and what was or was not working in my life got underway. The saturation of soul in the Vermont woods was the beginning of diluting the bullshit out of my life, of leeching the untruths I’d gotten accustomed to. I chucked paltry relationships out the window, attempting to purge anything or anyone who might not be able to handle the New Me, although I hardly had a handle on who that was.

This next bit is difficult to write and I’ll start by saying BE MINDFUL on your first week of enlightenment because you very well may discard people who do, in fact, care about you and you just didn’t realize it, or know it. Or, maybe you simply haven’t seen those people in a long time and are mistaking the absence of connection as a ‘fake’ relationship. For the love of God, do not slash and burn the way I did upon re-entry. When I realized that my mental and spiritual house-cleaning was a rather astute way for my ego to continue its protection routine, I doubled-down on my humility. If you think a dark night of the soul is unbearable, try putting relationships back together as the fallout of your Awakening looms ever larger.

And here’s where my story reveals what I may never understand, and I am finally okay with that because life doesn’t come with a user’s guide. One way in which I tried to honor the Wake Up Call I received in my descent to soul was to regularly check my motivation. Again, once the conditioning starts to lift and you can stand witness to all the reasons you did this or said that at any particular moment in life, you are left with wondering about new conditioning. You may go about seeking mentors, wise ones who have been there. You realize you are a tabula rosa at this stage, a blank slate eager to get going on some kind of window dressing–at least–in order to function in the world. However, Disorientation, as described in Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, only promises this: Be prepared to NOT be prepared. I ask you: why would anyone sign up for this willingly?

Again: no mud, no lotus. As Joni Mitchell once said of her songwriting, ‘It’s the sand that makes the pearl.’ We, too, are left to grind away at some unnamable irritation as we stare, drooling, half out of our minds, at the blank slate that is suddenly our lives. If you’ve been lucky enough to have a legit dark night of the soul, then you know what I am talking about. The old adage bears repeating here: Enlightenment is not for the weak.

There’s no “right” way to enter an initiation, or to go through one. After Vermont, returning to the construct of a life that held the unenlightened woman has been challenging on good days and torturous on bad days. But feeling empowered to own your shadow is a game-changer. However, knowing how to function in the present-day world (yikes!), carrying my newfound awareness, is a feat not many are able to actually succeed at. I’m not sure I’m succeeding at it. Not by a long shot. It could be said that this is exactly where enlightenment takes hold, unlocks something inside of us that escorts us to the edge of madness, then pulls us back a wee bit.

We will never really comprehend what happens to someone in their encounter with soul, with shadow, and so if you’re still reading this, I thank you for honoring my journey. We can maybe get the gist of another person’s crisis, and we can certainly sympathize. ‘Intrigued’ is also a possibility but we can’t understand why the initiated is all of a sudden in the breakdown lane, unable to make sense of life.

And that’s because life doesn’t make sense. I was a mess. Depression, lethargy, feeling like there was nothing in my brain–like no thoughts to contend with! I felt erased, and I was the one holding the enormous pencil. The distractions and amnesia spray of the modern world keep most of us locked into a quasi-belief that we could make sense of life if only, therefore we keep hustling. Having seen the source of the suffering, the initiate might install some new ways of being in the world because, really, what is there to lose? I don’t have to tell you: not everyone in your life will appreciate this move. Some folks might be outwardly cheering you on but secretly hoping for the day when “everything goes back to normal.”

It’s personal, so let it be. My antidote for recalibrating not only to a “new me” but to the process of destabilization with the hopes of designing some fresh conditioning has been mutli-faceted, and I will save you the details. I also have a LOT of people to thank; I had to say goodbye to some people in my life as well. One of the guiding principles for the inner-work that AVI advocates (and the essential invitation during my training) was a simple/not simple question: What is your deepest longing? The Animas guides repeated this question over and over again. How I dance with that question on any given day is unpredictable, unscripted. Most of the time, my deepest longing is to not suffer this dark night any longer.

And I truly feel the dawn is coming, the hours of darkness are quantifiable now. This summer, I met with Fran to unpack my experience with AVI and the training in Vermont. She offered me the great gift of mirroring the experience! Another level of integration was achieved. One thing that she said to me that day struck me so profoundly, and it has been my mantra henceforth: Respect the pace of the unfolding.

We do not know where the soul wants to take us. If we are very lucky, we can catch a glimpse, a flash of light coming through the forest. Surrender to the longing, to your longings. Believe me, it has nothing to do with being brave or courageous. As I swim to the surface, I do not regret going under.

Shine On, Friends.

The Great Standing Stones at Stonehenge, photo by NASA


The Compost Bin

Hello and Happy May, Eclipse, Full Moon, GROWTH! 

So, I’m wondering: Which set of verbs do you resonate with?

__Demolish, Destroy, Dismantle


__Allow, Permit, Watch. 

I ask this question today, on May 10th, as we move closer to the powerful Full Moon in Scorpio on Monday, May 16th. I’m no astrologer but the “reports” say to hold on to your hats. And it’s not only a full moon but a lunar eclipse as well. We’re actually smack dab in the middle of a powerful eclipse cycle, having had a partial solar eclipse on April 30th. It’s during these times that truths are revealed, artifice slips away, illusions get shattered. 

And thus, my verb groups for your contemplation. One set is obviously masculine and the other obviously feminine. There’s no “right” answer, just an invitation to scan your motivation, and think about what you align with. How are you showing up for life? How do you want your energy to be received in the world? 

This morning, I was reminded of the 2nd group of verbs. As Molly and I took our morning walk down Mansion Road, I caught a glimpse of a large raptor flying overhead. The black wings of this creature flapped in the current of still morning air; I fast-walked to keep up with his (or her-) flight. Molly sensed my excitement and was happy to speed up to a trot. This bird was bigger than a raven so I knew it was either a juvenile eagle or a turkey vulture. 

I lost sight of it for a minute, my view obscured slightly by a copse of trees.  As we crested the hill, right before the dirt road becomes “hot top,” I spotted the black figure perched on the branch of an oak. 

Molly and I slowed, trying not to scare him or her off. I was practically standing right under it and noticed the “bald spot” of the bird’s forehead: Vulture. 

From a biological perspective, vultures are the clean-up crew for the environment. They can eat anything, digesting rotting flesh, trash, even motor oil! They have a non-discriminatory “taste”–being such, a lot of decay and disease is easily cleared away by vultures. 

In shamanic terms, these traits can be metaphorically translated as the ultimate healing medicine: The Master of Transmutation, of taking death and making it “viable” nourishment. To carry the medicine of Vulture is to be not only a walker-between-the-worlds but a healer who does not discriminate (or take herself too seriously). 

A man by the name of David Koziol gifted me a vulture feather once. It was June 2015 and Michael and I were on a 2nd honeymoon in the great South West. Our focus was to hit up all of the hot springs; I’d moved to Maine from Durango and wanted to show him that place as well. We’d also received a very generous wedding gift from one of his friends who lives in Santa Fe: a night at 10,000 Waves with a luxurious spa package included. 

After leaving the Orient Land Trust (aka, Valley View Hot Springs) in southern Colorado, we decided to change our day trip to Taos into an overnight. I popped onto the Air B-N-B app as he drove our rented Ford Escort down into the pink and ochre colors of New Mexico. I found a place where the host, Julianne, was a “ceramicist” and thought that sounded fun. She pinged me back with a confirmation and we exchanged numbers and info. The last message before we arrived in Taos was an invitation to go see her boyfriend’s band, the Bones of Romeo. 

“If I’m not here when you guys get here, I’ll be in town, at the plaza. Dave’s playing tonight. They’ll be at the gazebo–you can’t miss it!” 

Michael, who is always up for a night of dancing, was game. He was sunburned from too much “clothing optional” options at Orient Land Trust; I decided if that wasn’t going to stop him, who am I to say no? On the way out of town, it started to pour. A good, old-fashioned South Western summer storm. Lightning lit up the sky, thunder cracked overhead. The Escort slowed to a crawl as the wipers slapped out of control at the torrential rain. 

We finally made it downtown and walked into the first Tex-Mex joint we saw for food and a couple of beers. Once at the plaza, Julianne spotted us immediately. I asked her how she knew it was us and she said something about my Air B-n-B profile (but later joked that my Gringa-vibe stood out loudly). We talk-shouted over the music and, after a few pleasantries, turned to dancing. 

The Bones of Romeo swept us up into a frenzy. Their playing was tight, and offered a balance of originals with covers of Tom Petty, Neil Young, the Doors, the Beatles. Dave was the drummer and bashed that drum set with passion and pride. The frontman was showy, in a White Snake kind of way and the two guitar players ripped. They clearly had fun playing together and the thunderstorm had not kept anyone at home–the place was packed! 

That night, the four of us stood in Julianne’s kitchen and talked. Julianne made BLTs for everyone and we hydrated. We were all quite tired so the conversation was the type that was clipped and casual, mutterings really, peppered with bursts of laughter, jokes. It was also obvious that Julianne and David were crazy about each other, an other-worldly type of connection. Their love made Michael and I even more at ease. I slept like a drugged baby that night. It was by far the most comfortable, restful overnight of our entire trip (yes, even better than 10,000 Waves!) 

The next day, after my coffee, I walked out onto the deck and further into the sagebrush with my rattle. I love desert sage, much more than the white sage of California. I’ve always felt a special affinity with Taos, NM; it started when I discovered that Taos was about three and a half hours from Durango, CO, where I was finally able to escape the violence of my first marriage. Putting myself back together often happened on little respites to Ojo Caliente (more hot springs!) and Taos. I’d rent an over-priced hotel room in a historic hotel on Main Street and spend the weekend walking around, eating, sleeping, reading. I’d go back to Durango more grounded, more myself–or the self I was slowly re-inventing. 

So, with rattle in hand, I wanted to go sing my song “Morning Sun” to the mountains, the air of Taos and to the sun of course. It was so clear! The sun was so hot. The rays seemed to unlock a  feeling of remembrance inside of me. Of those past going-through-a-divore days but also something much, much older…

When I walked back toward the house, I found Dave standing on the deck, smiling a big smile at me. This man had the best smile! It was the ‘best smile’ because he’d put his smile to good use–you could just tell. “I have something for you,” he said, and motioned for us to go inside. 

He emerged from the bedroom with a feather. “This is Vulture. It’s powerful medicine and it belongs to you,” he said and handed it to me. “You’re a healer, inside and out.” 

I was without words at the sentiment. To be gifted a feather is an act of respect, and of trust in the care-taking of feather medicine. Dave added he’d carried the feather for a long time; I was touched he wanted me to have it and I thanked him profusely. 

David Koziol, may he RIP

I stayed in touch with this soulful couple, this artist and musician from Taos, my spirit home, for some time. I even did some distant healing work for them after Julianne told me that Dave had been diagnosed with small cell carcinoma of the lung. He fought it hard, was determined–like my Dad–to beat it. Sadly, he passed away on Sept 9th, 2020; he was 57 years old. 

After having received Dave’s gift, I always think of him when I see a Vulture. I think about that pronouncement he made about me being a healer and sort of cringe–we’re taught not to use that word, healer. It carries too much weight, and power. I much prefer ‘healing practitioner’ or better yet, ‘energy worker.’ 

When I eye-balled that turkey vulture Molly and I tracked up Mansion Road, naturally I thought of Dave, and the medicine of vulture. As the black head stared back at me, I asked if there was a message? There was: Let the decay, decay. That’s the natural process. What is decaying means it is in a state of decline and must die. 

We don’t always have to go through our lives with a sledgehammer, clearing out the debris with “gusto.” Sometimes, that which is in full decline will take care of itself. When you next see Vulture circling overhead, it might be a sign that something or someone is on their way out. 

Let them go. 

Shine On, 

Mary Katherine 

LOTS OF ANNOUNCEMENTS! *I’m so excited* 

Featured Practitioners SARAH SOGGS & KATE BATHRAS

Are you ready for a “game-changer”? Are you feeling like the next best thing for your development as a conscious human is to connect with high frequency healing and “jump a track” on your own growth? Our world is full of healing modalities these days, thank goodness! We surely need them. There’s the clinical side–good old fashioned talk therapy. We’ve got polarity, reflexology, acupuncture. I was blown away by the first time I had cranial sacral therapy! Then there’s what I do–energy work, reiki, shamanic healing.

But you have not experienced anything until you find yourself in the very capable hands of Sarah Soggs DPT and Kate Bathras, Life Coach. After some checking in and intention setting, they had me lie down. The room was bright and calm, a few crystals surrounding the biomat I was lying on. Sarah and Kate sat about 2 feet on either side of me. They told me I would be put in an energetic bubble; I was extremely relaxed and yet stimulated at the same time. Their energy bubble was already working! 

What happened next is hard to describe. And I’ll leave it at this analogy: My soul felt like it had met Creator. The clarity of WHY I AM HERE and all of the support I need to carry out my work was undeniable. Doubt was wiped out; confidence and joy were restored. 

If you would like to know more about this special healing modality offered Sarah and Kate, you can email Kate at 


Mayan Spirit Bath Ceremony & Retreat

Where the Natural World and the Ancient World Meet

The flowers of my first bath…Amy’s guidance was very healing for me

Where: Avalon Acres, 167 Mansion Road, Hollis, Maine

Time & Date: Saturday, June 18th, 2022 from 10 AM- 5 PM  

Cost: $195 per participant; $100 deposit needed by JUNE 10th to hold spot 

Allow your WHOLE self to step into the elements of Water and Fire, to collide with the Spirits of Plant Medicine, to hold space with others on their path to healing and wholeness. As the ancient Mayans called on IxChel, the Goddess of fertility and plant medicine, shamanic practitioners Amy Chaney and Mary Katherine Spain invite you to join them in a day-long retreat of release, sacred witnessing, and spiritual alignment with the natural world and your holy temple: your BODY. 

What is Mayan Spirit Bathing? Spiritual bathing has roots in many cultures. We cleanse with water every day without a thought. The practice of Mayan Spiritual Bathing deepens our connection to Water and Plant. Prayer and words of gratitude are offered as we ask the water and plants to help heal and purge what ails us, thus cleansing our emotions, our bodies, and our spirits.  We call upon our teachers and the cultural deities of the Maya, honoring the primary deity IxChel. 

All you have to do is show up with your whole self.  Feel the love of the elements and plants as they do the work.  What words do you want to radiate from your soul? Love? Passion? Kindness? Willingness to receive the fruits of life? What are your personal goals you want to achieve? Bring your dreams and step into the cleansing power of water ritual amplified by the loving essence of flowers and plant medicine. 

Is this experience right for me at this time? This specially-designed ceremony is for you if 1)you are experiencing an awakening of spirit, inner guidance, or initiation, 2)you are reinventing yourself, your life or your devotional practice, 3)you desire to “let go” and “let Gaia” upgrade your spiritual circuit board, 4) you are craving a sacred experience in a safe, loving container with others on the path, 5)you have any affinity with Central American practice, mythology or ritual, or 6) you have a profound connection and reverence for flowers, water and the Earth; 7) you need a ‘game-changer’ 

What to Expect: You will learn the history of this ancient rite and its surrounding mythology, be guided to get clear on what it is you are ready to release, be asked to walk in nature and prayerfully harvest several flowers and/or plants which will be used in your own flower essence bath. You will also reflect on your own soul’s healing via your relationship with Mother Gaia and be witness to others’ healing experiences. You will receive energy work as facilitated by Amy and Mary Katheirne as they channel Earth Energies and participate in sacred fire ceremony

Since this ancient ceremony requires utmost reverence and intimacy, SPACE IS LIMITED in the number of participants Amy and Mary Katherine can accept (10 max). Please contact Mary Katherine ASAP to hold your spot if this event resonates with where you are on your journey: A link to remit a deposit as well as other instructions will then be sent to you 

Amy and Mary Katherine first met on a vision quest hosted by their beloved shamanic teacher, Dory Cote, in 2009.  Since then, they have studied together, played together, and healed together. This ceremony will take place at Avalon Acres in Hollis, Maine–the perfect setting for this divine experience with nature. You will be asked to bring a towel, bathing suit, journal, water bottle and lunch. It is suggested that you may want to fast the morning before. Once you have registered, additional instructions may be sent to you. 

And finally…A VERY SPECIAL Joanna Macy Event using her model, The Work That Reconnects!

The Wheel of The Great Turning

The Body of Sovereignty 

The Work That Reconnects Event

Sunday, June 26, 2022 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Winthrop, ME

Hosted by Healing Hands Holistic Wellness  aka Sara Dostie


Co – Facilitated by

 Kat Beaudoin, Hope Belief Trust & 

Mary Katherine Spain, Nine Pillars Healing

$25 Suggested Donation

The Work That Reconnects model invokes the 4 directions of the spiral of life (from roots to seed): Beginning with Gratitude, Honoring Pain, Seeing with New Eyes and Going Forth. 

Utilizing sharing, meditation and personal expression, questions like these will be explored:

  • In what ways did we feel sovereign in our youth?
  • What caused our feelings of sovereignty to be chipped away?  
  • How did we make ourselves smaller in order to fit in? 
  • What survival archetypes/personality traits did we resort to? 
  • What belief(s) did/do we hold that forbids the whole self from being expressed?
  • What is the difference between Power Over and Power With? ‘Does the word ‘power’ hold triggers for you?  If so, what are they?
  • What feelings arise with the memories of losing our sovereignty?  
  • Today, how do we appreciate ourselves?
  • Today, what boundaries do we set to hold our sovereignty?
  • Today, how do we express Self Ownership?
  • Today, what affirmations do we use to solidify our Sovereignty?
  • What is our commitment to ourselves going forward?

Participants should bring a journal/pen, water bottle, bug dope, sun screen, hat (optional) and a pot luck dish to share for lunch.  Swimming will be available so bring a suit and towel if you wish.

**Space is limited as this event will be held at a private residence. If you are interested in attending, please contact either Kat Beaudoin ( or Mary Katherine Spain( to save your spot and register 

I know it’s a long newsletter! Are you still with me?!

**Are you still with me? 

YAH! I have one more NEW, exciting opportunity if:

__You are a student of shamanism

__You are a follower of the shamanic path

__You are a teacher of shamanism

Shamanic Practitioner and Teacher John Moore and I have been hard at work designing a unique community which caters to the “deep dives” of sharing, witnessing, learning, growing and practicing shamanism in a forum that is crafted by all, for all. There’s no trolling, no ads clamoring for your attention and jamming up your feed. The community is membership-based, and it is already growing by leaps and bounds! 

We named it Shamanity (Shaman + Community) and if you are interested in joining like-minded souls to discuss, grow and just experience being held in sacred space, then you might want to check out our information page here


Swirl Out of Winter, Welcome Spring!

Are you ready for EPITHEULIUS, the God of Wind, the God of CHANGE…?



No, you won’t find this one with Zeus or Hera, Hades or Persephone; you won’t find this with the historical Pantheon because this name, this God, came to me a long time ago, when I was about 14 years old. I stuffed it, not knowing what the “information” or “feeling” was about. I had no idea how to interpret how Spirit was speaking to me back then and so I ignored it. 

I think a lot of kids must experience “hunches” of intuitive gifts, abilities to connect with the Spiritual world, heightened sensory aptitudes that all get buried because the world in which those kids live doesn’t reflect back to them value or validity in understanding or experiencing the world in that way. 

Which is a shame. Sure, there’s some super cool parents out there who are open to allowing and permitting their child to be permeable to All That Is. I remember reading in Michael Pollan’s book, “How to Change Your Mind” some scientist who had studied brain activity in newborns and 1-year olds. The gist was that ‘basically these babies are tripping,’ meaning that they really haven’t received the dense plaster of the conditioned world yet. Their mental and spiritual follicles are standing at attention. They’re picking up ALL KINDS OF STIMULI, SIGHTS AND SOUNDS. Then, the controlling agents in the form of parents and the predominant values of society creep in, descend on their party, choking out even the possibility that there are forces and energies that dwell “just beyond.” 

However, that doesn’t mean those forces are not there. Lately, I’ve felt a strong desire to honor “lost gifts of childhood.” In fact, I spent an entire week-end recently at the Marie Joseph Spiritual Retreat Center in silence to trace back and recapture some of my lost gifts of childhood. 

When I got there on Friday afternoon, I dropped my bags in my tiny room and went to the beach. It was very windy–Epitheulius must have know I was coming–and I found myself ascending a rocky path to a peninsula of well-appointed houses, then cruised around the small, quaint New England streets until I found a Maine Audubon trail, which I sloshed down, dodging melting snow and mud. To my delight, there was no one else on the trail. 

When I got back to the room, I did what I always do when I check into a hotel: I made an altar. I knew I needed to focus my energies, to have something to pray by, and pray with. Afterall, I was in a prayerful community with devout nuns who had the sweetest smiles and greetings you’ve ever seen. My Goodness, I haven’t been anywhere that quiet in a very long time! I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to get on their station, if you know what I mean. And I did. 

“No Candles” the rules said; I did not oblige.

But I did turn my phone OFF and made the altar with the different treasures of nature I’d found on my walk–pine cone, rock, two shells with various dried herbs and flowers from Avalon. I knew that I was to visit with the child of me, the child of 7. The one who still very much believed that her “babies” (aka stuffed animals) heard every word she said. The one who was forever coming up with some elaborate story, some elaborate game or just playing tricks. 

I settled into my rocker, conveniently located right in front of the window. I held a crystal I’d brought and an old rock I found in Fort Collins the first year I attended Colorado State University. 

The view was pretty sweet…

To my surprise, a guide showed up: My 2nd grade teacher, Ms. Belk. Now, I grew up in a small town (pop.: 2,000) in North Carolina. In 1978, when I was 7, Siler City was still pretty abhorrently racist. My own father was extremely racist. And Ms. Belk impressed on my little soul something that no one else at that tender age had done by doing an extraordinary act every single day

Before I tell you what it was, I’d like to describe Ms. Belk: Long, ironing board straight brown hair. Bubblicious lip gloss, probably strawberry-flavored. Dangling silver hoops, lots of blue eye shadow. A mouthful of big white teeth that were always in an open laugh, and that laugh was LOUD. Can you picture her? 

Now: imagine our little bodies, our faded Wranglers and stained cotton shirts from that day’s jello or pudding we’d had at lunch. There’s a certain smell, too, that goes with one’s elementary school. I’ll not attempt to describe yours but mine was the cafeteria, of fried food and a slight burnt-coffee tinge, some sort of sanitizer to clean up vomit. And little kid-sweat. It makes sense that I can remember the 1st school I ever attended better than all the rest (and there were many-). The first of anything really leaves an impression. 

There we are, lined up at the end of the day, about to emerge onto the blacktop, to go screaming off to the bus or to our waiting moms, their Chevrolet wagons idling softly, a long cigarette poised in their fingers. 

The bell rings, it’s time to go. Before we stepped over the threshold and into the hall, Ms. Belk kissed every single one of us goodbye, assuring us that she would see us tomorrow. She might throw in a ‘Be Good, now’ just to keep it fresh. 

And this struck me as a radical act–that she would kiss white and black kids, girls and boys. She did not see color, or gender. And of course you can’t kiss school children in this day! I didn’t know why she did it but I knew that her indifference to race and gender made me think she was the coolest woman that ever lived. 

So when she showed up to guide me back to my lost childhood gifts, I wasn’t surprised. When I was able to thank her for modeling this radical act of acceptance, I was able to drill down on what it was I so admired: She exhibited Love. Radical, fierce Love for ALL OF US. She was a living, breathing example of all the things I learned in bible study about how Jesus said we should act. 

And you know what? ‘Fierce Love’ was the first stop we made on my tour of childhood. That LOVING FIERCELY is actually a super-power that gets its light turned down as we grow and mature. It may get tainted by hurt, or side-stepped because we’re too busy trying to secure a sense of safety. Whatever knocked mine out, Ms. Belk said: You can be like me. Let my example lead your 7 year old self right up to this moment, right now. 

Because if we don’t need some FIERCE LOVE right now in this world, I don’t  know what we need. 

My Spring Wish for you is for Epitheulius, the God of Wind and Change, to blow out whatever it is that keeps you from knowing–intimately knowing–what loving fiercely looks and feels like. This break-Down to break-Through we’re experiencing has a purpose: for us to CHOOSE LOVE, like Ms. Belk did, without a thought. 

Without any side-stops along the way. 

Our children are secretly hoping that’s our top choice. For them, it’s the only choice. 

Shine On, 

Mary Katherine 


Troi Boulanger is a LCSW, intuitive guide, dog-whisperer and overall fantastic human being. I met Troi [pronounced ‘Troy’] several years ago at a monthly shamnic gathering I used to co-lead called the Confluence. We became fast friends and began doing “reiki shares” every other Friday with another healer. Troi epitomizes Fierce Love, in every gesture, every conversation, every prayer. In fact, she boldly stepped out and rented her home in Westbrook for a few months to travel in the Southwest, hiking about in New Mexico with her dog Violette. In a few weeks, she’ll return to her therapy practice in Saco. 

Troi has been incorporating energy work in her practice for over 20 years. She works with people to identify patterns that hold them back, and then works to develop skills to move forward in their lives as their whole being, bringing healing to mind, body, spirit and life. Troi is also developing a website for Intuitive Guidance where she’ll help people deepen their understanding of their whole selves, while learning principles of energy healing to keep themselves at their highest best.

This summer, Troi will be offering in-home pet services on Rover. You can look for her there for your furry creatures and on Psychology Today for counseling.

For more information about these services and more, contact Troi at:


Need a boost on starting that memoir? Are you struggling with a concept you’d like to commit to paper but need a solid structure and a kind cheerleader to take your vision to the next level? I am happy to report that I can add Writing Coach to the many services I offer. There’s no project too small or large! Here’s a testimonial of a current client I’m helping to launch: 

Mary Katherine’s skills as a writer, editor and coach are a perfect match for my needs. She’s helped me to focus my book project and create a supportive structure to move the work forward. Mary Katherine reads drafts closely, provides helpful feedback and poses questions that make me consider what it is I’m trying to say, and how I want to say it. Her guidance and support have been critical! 

~ Debra S. of New Gloucester, Maine 

It’s not always easy to write. In fact, for some people, it’s torture. Not for me! I love it and will always find the most creative way for you to enjoy it as well! Send inquiries to 


I’m co-teaching a new writing class! My friend and professional peer Jess Verrill and I have teamed up to offer a new 10-week class that offers you not only writing instruction and feedback from me but energy up-grades and executive coaching from Jess. Together, we will take your project and your confidence to its highest level of poise and professionalism. 

To learn more about the class and see if it’s a good fit for you, click here. Hope to see you there!  


__My Established Client follow-up rate will be changing from $75 to $85 for follow-up sessions starting on April 1st

__The Portland Office still has 1 or 2 slots available on Sat 3/26 and Fri 04/01. for healing sessions. Do you need a tune-up? Email me to get booked! 

__Amy Chaney and I will be offering the Mayan Spirit Bathing Ritual and Ceremony on Saturday June 18th. This event was a HUGE SUCCESS last September! What better time than the Summer Solstice to meet the Mayan Fertility Goddess Ixchel and learn about ritual bathing? Interested in saving a spot? Email me! (*more details to come in my May newsletter!) 

__My ‘Click Your Heals’ class has been a great success; while teaching it, I realized I’d like to gather regularly with Seekers and Light Workers to explore, witness, study and support one another through these changing times. Ideally,  I’d like to co-host a ‘Shamanic Share & Care’ twice a month for shamanic practitioners or anyone who has foundational skills in shamanic practice. Interested in being a co-host? Have some good ideas? Email me

And finally…Meet our new logo for Avalon Acres! Although the website is still being tweaked and fine-tuned, you’ll want to be on the look-out for our up-coming events, workshops, fire circles and more! Make sure you are on my newsletter list to recieve updates!

Happy Spring!

Avalon Acres is the home to many 9 Pillars events!


Happy Imbolc! We celebrate the Celtic Goddess Brigid on the 2nd of February. This “Celtic Mary” is associated with healing, smithcraft, poetry, hearth and home and all acts of creativity.  Brigid also ushers in the very first signs of Spring, bringing us a sense of hope and warmer days. 

My wreath dedicated to Brigid. It hangs above our mantle, a natural spot for Brigid as she tends the hearth and home!

As I write this, on Saturday January 29th, my part of the world here in Hollis, Maine, is experiencing the first Nor’easter of 2022! By all measures, the “old crone of Winter” aka Cailleach, is still ruling the roost. Some Celtic folklore blend the Cailleach and Brigid together, asserting that the Cailleach transforms herself anew as the maiden of Brigid at Spring.

This year, we have the serendipitous occurrence of Imbolc and the New Moon in Aquarius overlapping one another! The New Moon occurs at 12:46 AM EST on FEB 1st; the Imbolc festivities are generally celebrated on February 2nd (some say that Groundhog Day got swept up into the tales of the Cailleach–that it was the Hag of Winter out looking for more sticks to burn, not a furry rodent wondering about his shadow). 

But wait! My calendar also denotes that the Chinese Lunar New Year also falls on February 1st. 2022 is the year of the Water Tiger, a symbol of strength, perseverance and self-confidence. Tigers are single-minded in their pursuits, not easily distracted and have few if any predators. 

I love this image. As someone who regularly contemplates how my actions might affect others, this assertion of bold self-confidence stationed in the regal posture of the hunteress, her stunning orange and black stripes shimmering against a golden sunset in India is magnificent. (‘Water Tiger’, to my way of thinking, means tigers who can swim. The Bengal Tiger, a native of India and Southeast Asia and also a phenomenal swimmer, comes to mind.)

So I hope you have all your rituals planned out, ready to go. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to blend the powers of Brigid, the New Moon and the power of Bengal Tiger! I’m looking forward to the online seminar I signed up for with Tara Wild, who will be presenting ways to connect more deeply with Brigid and discussing the resurgence and reclamation of the Divine Feminine. Mostly, though, I’m excited to hear about the extensive Celtic wisdom Tara brings to her circles. To read more about Tara and her work, click here. 

Also, the best rituals are ones YOU feel inspired to carry out! Since the New Moon is in the sign of Aquarius, working in groups, co-facilitating, and any discussions of social justice would be great ideas and lend a sense of power to your ritual. 

One overused expression around ritual and ceremony is the activity of “releasing what no longer serves you.” No doubt, it is crucial to regularly “own your s***” and then dispense with old ways, beliefs and habits that are not aligning with your high self. I’ve probably used that turn-of-phrase 500 times over the last ten years! However, I feel there is an opportunity to deconstruct the idea and maybe replace it with a new intention. 

“Release” signifies that we are absentmindedly holding onto nefarious ways and behaviors, that it is up to us to do the action of ‘release’ and then all will be well. I have recently had an enormous revelation about how disempowering this language is! First of all, whether you want to believe it or not, the insinuation that we need to ‘release what does not serve’ sends the ego structure that we are somehow sullied inside, and probably from our own doing. If only we could release the trauma we’ve been attached to.  The action is around removal but I’d like to suggest that the action, ie.intention, ought to be around BECOMING. 

I’d like to share a little anecdote to show you what I’m talking about. I am in the midst of prepping for a ceremony here at Avalon that was–until this big storm came along–scheduled for Sunday, January 30th. Most of us can get pretty worked up in the planning stage of anything that holds some significance for us. Could be a first date, an interview, or an event that you’re hosting. We all can “get in our head” about trying to surmise how it’s going to go. 

I call this extending energy into the realm of What If. For example, I knew this huge blizzard was coming and so I started wondering: Will people not want to drive out to Hollis, even though the roads will likely be ok by Sunday? What about Covid protocols? How much shoveling and sanding should I do before they get here? I’d hate to have someone slip and fall! What if it is really cold, as in teeth-chattering cold? What if…what if…what if. 

I emailed my co-leader, Gul, the one who was to teach us the Water Song and who had participated in this annual tradition before. Her reply, quite eloquently, was ‘It’s ceremony. It will be what it is.’ 

Although we DID reschedule the ceremony to Saturday February 5th (please come!) , something clicked awake inside of me with Gul’s matter-of-fact pronouncement: It will be what it is. WHAT IS is so much better than What IF! This simple distinction did more than help me get out of my anticipating-the-needs-of-others mode: It helped me realize that my precious energy was wafting through the ether of impossible-to-predict situations and a more appropriate response would be to power up, drum, make something, listen to some music I like. In other words, take care of ME so I can feel my power. 

As a side note: when we spend too much time anticipating the needs of others, hoping they will be provided for, that their physical and psychic needs are taken care of, we actually are stealing the opportunity for them to practice sovereignty: the sense that their actions are right for them, end o’story. 

At the New Moon in Aquarius, instead of ‘releasing what does not serve,’ try out this new (active) language as a way to refine your personal power. It is simple and takes a single, solitary act: 


My suspicion is that when we tend our garden, when we stay on our side of the fence, the NEED to ‘RELEASE what does not serve’ ain’t even a thing anymore. 

Why? Because fortifying the Self with Sovereignty greatly reduces the chances of self-sabotaging behavior, of associating with the victim-stories or flirting with co-dependency. Also, it’s a lot of work to ‘Just Do You.’ Doing You will keep you plenty busy! Plus, Spirit wants a vessel in which it can cast its expression. If we’re too wrapped up in over-extending in service to others, the probability of you-as-vessel decreases. 

And believe me: IT IS TIME to Hold the Light. Yup, I said it! Another overused expression of this Age of Awakening. Be the light, hold the light, light workers–it’s all about what you do with “the light.” But this trope I will not disown. Because it really is time to rise up and DO YOU, to inherit the agency you need to radiate the LIGHT of conscious action– as opposed to flipping projections onto others or recovering from your triggers all the time.

Another anecdote to consider: I had a client last week who disclosed to me how irritated she’d been feeling lately. Everyone was making her on edge, things were “setting her off.” After some probing questions, and an invitation to self-reflect, we discovered she had been way, way, way over-extending in her service to others. She’d “been there” for so many people in her life but they hadn’t reciprocated. Some of us (myself included) don’t know how to ask for our needs to be met. Givers will always find Takers, and the dance is well-practiced. 

Doing for others is exhausting; a common reaction is to start building up resentment, as my client was doing. Overextending can result in victimhood [“What about me”] and anger [or its cousin, resentment]. There’s nothing wrong with caring for people in our lives or even doing special little things for folks. It brightens their day! The critical word here is overextend. And the gesture must be done while we are in our sovereignty–which just means when our heart is open. 

The Universe will match whatever you’re transmitting so you want the gesture to come from a place of radiance, of joy, and lightness. You want the gesture, the word, the conversation to come also from the Water Tiger. Fierce and beautiful, not wasteful but truly necessary. I think a lot of people might think “living with an open heart” means always giving or being a martyr in some effort to sacrifice yourself or your energy for the “greater good.” But there is no truer act of altruism than living in the sovereignty of Self, in living with your own truth front and center. 

As for my client, my guides and helpers got her sorted out and returned her to the aperture of the heart. I received some “spiritual homework” for her during the session, as I often do, that I strongly encouraged her to perform in the days following our session. This “post-participation” helps to 1) lock in the healing energy of the session, reminding the body, mind and spirit they all work together , and 2)enhance the client’s own understanding of the messages I’m bringing back. 

With permission, I want to share the exercise Spirit offered this client. I think it is a fantastic exercise!! One we ALL could benefit from in cultivating a sense of self-possession and agency, to avoid overextending. 

It’s quite simple. Write out the following sentences, filling in the blank with YOUR truth. 

___When I am ________[an action], I am in my power. 

(For example, if I was filling in this blank, my sentence would read: When I am speaking from a vulnerable place, I am in my power.)

___When I am ________[a response], I am in my power. 

(Again, if this was me, my sentence would look like this–just to give you an idea: When I am responding with non-judgement, I am in my power. 

Here’s the rest of the sentences. How would YOU fill in the blanks? 

___When I am ________[a belief], I am in my power. 

___When I am ________[ a habit], I am in my power. 

___When I am ________[ a self-care practice], I am in my power. 

___When I am ________[a spiritual practice], I am in my power. 

___When I am ________[language, speaking], I am in my power. 

I so loved this idea. Thank you Spirit! It’s always the simplest exercises that prove to be the most potent. This exercise also points the way to understanding what, exactly, your sovereignty is made of. It’s incongruent with the wisdom of the heart to try and “do” anyone but you. So, instead of ‘releasing what does not serve’ challenge your enlightenment jargon with the lens of the Water Tiger. Align your energy, your new moon seeds with the energy of sovereignty and stop worrying about how people are experiencing you, your work, your language, your beliefs. After 50 years of anticipating the needs of others, of exhausting myself trying to please everyone, I feel a call to tend my garden with a loving vigilance, working to create the conditions I NEED to be my best self in a world full of artifice and projections, and in no short supply of takers and martyrs. 

I want to Do Me. 

As it turns out, the world soul (animus mundi) is actually hungry for my best self, not all of those other things I spend time perseverating over. 

Just Do You. 

Love and Blessings of Brigid-

Mary Katherine


Singing the Water Song: A Gathering Of Women to Bless the Waters

Are you a woman who is missing the feeling of being in community with other women? Are you hungry to learn, share, commune with the sacred element of water? Does your heart need the jolt of love and joy that only ceremony can bring? Join Laurie Babineau (aka ‘Gul’) and Mary Katherine this Saturday, Feb 5th from 1 pm-4 PM at Avalon Acres to join other women in circle in singing The Water Song. For more details, click here


(class runs every Thurs evening from 7-8 PM, 02/24 thru 03/31 and will culminate in an activation rite on Friday April 1st)

Are you a light worker, shamanic practitioner, change agent, or star seeder who is certain that your gifts of healing, intuition, teaching and guidance are needed now more than ever? 

Do you feel that your gifts are getting stronger, stranger, more erratic but also more magical and surprisingly more efficient? Are you sensing that refining your methods, practice or devotion is imperative in anchoring the immense changes we’re experiencing right now?  

Folks with the gifts of the Awakener who decided to come to Earth School at this time are getting upgrades in 2022–the great dismemberment is well underway! If you came here to awaken yourself as well as others, how will your special medicine and wisdom be dispersed in the years to come? 

CLICK MY HEALS will give you a place to 1)Be a Witness to others on this path, 2) Be more “fit” for the velocity at which change is happening, 3) Be Seen, Supported and Encouraged by those like you

COST: $10 per class (suggested donation) *I am very purposeful in making this offering affordable as I think the continuing “break-down to break through” may turn very swift in 2022; I am committed to supporting the work of Light Workers on their respective paths 

__For FULL CLASS description, click here

__To sign up or hold your spot, email Mary Katherine here 


Please join Mary Katherine and Michael for a Bonfire and Drumming session on Saturday, 02/26/22 at Avalon Acres! 6PM-until

There will be a potluck set up in the Barn; this event is All Ages and not just for shaman-types! Although any drumming by anyone is sacred in my opinion…

Bring a drum, some food for yourself or to share, a comfy chair to set up in front of the fire. Unless you intend to dance, which will be highly encouraged! February is LOOONG; let’s get outside and burn something! 

Do you see the Bear?

And finally…

Valentine’s Day is a great day to show someone how much you care about them, how much they mean to you, and how thankful you are that they are in the world! Nine Pillars Gift Certificates make soulful gifts, and a session with me has long-lasting effects! Here’s what one of my recent clients had to say: 

“I wanted to share with you how much our session together has helped me.   I was able to shift out of a state of almost despair.   I was so ungrounded, sad and needing of a break.   Having [my power animal]by my side has helped to support and nourish and protect my spirit. Thank you so much!”


Soulful Solstice, Here You Are

A new Day is Dawning…

Winter Solstice Newsletter 2021 

“We get to carry each other…” 

~U2, “One” 

It is a privilege to take care of each other. Bono didn’t write We Carry Each Other; he wrote We GET to Carry Each Other, like it’s a special mission, a task entrusted to us by Creator.  We are not obliged; no one is going to lose their house or job if they don’t stop for a motorist on the side of the road, stick a fiver in the hand of that homeless guy on the corner or forget to bring a lonely neighbor a piece of pie. But we do anyway. We GET to take care of each other, to carry one another through the times we’re living in. 

One thing that Winter brings on in me is the sense of stillness, of quiet. When we think about the privilege of taking care of each other, let’s not forget what a privilege it is to take care of ourselves. To compost the guilt we may feel when we politely say, ‘No thank you’ to invites and events and classes and workshops and dates, outings, concerts, or shows. Even a walk with a friend might feel, for some, a bit too much of a commitment. Winter is a time for receiving. We GET to settle in, pour some hot water over our favorite teabag and keep it simple. We might go to bed at 7:30, 8 PM–every night, if we want. If you’re lucky enough to have a beloved furbaby and a fireplace, BONUS! You’ve got a recipe for deep self-care. 

This year, like last, has been one for the books. A real doozie! In my youthful 50 years of being on the planet, I have never witnessed so much uncertainty by so many–myself included. Do you know ANYONE not experiencing regular waves of despair if not measurable anxiety right now? I know lots of people–strong people–who are doing everything they can to stay hopeful, to “keep their vibration up.” These are the same people who are giving themselves permission to “feel it all.” And we know what happens when we deny an aspect of our reality or our lived experience: it gets jammed into the Shadow which then has free-reign to incite us to act unconsciously. 

But what if ‘feeling it all’ sounds horrible, like the very words might be code for complete destabilization? Haven’t we seen and felt enough? There’s the rub, the riddle of 2021 (and probably our challenge for 2022 as well): How do we allow the full gamut of feelings and emotions to be acknowledged and possibly even felt and still function? How do we avoid shutting down completely if we are courageous enough in staring down the political circus, Covid-hell, tornadoes, sex-trafficing, starving polar bears, refugees fleeing war, refugees fleeing gang violence, wildfires gulping up great swaths of land, rivers and ocean water choking with debris and plastic, addictions of every kind, burnt-out teachers (God Bless’em), heroic (and also burnt out) doctors and nurses…I could go on. Michael told me that last Friday, December 17th, was ‘National Shoot Up Your School Day.’ I don’t even know what to do with that. And I haven’t even mentioned the climate calamity. 

I call this ability to NOT turn away from injustice while maintaining self-dominion BEING A WAKEFUL WITNESS. Shamans are especially good at it, as they are extremely sensitive yet their possession of The Self–in all of its forms–is intact, strong. I also have borrowed a term from Caitlin Mathews for this ability: Walking the Middle Way. To stand up, be seen, feel, respond with compassion, be okay with ambiguity…and to understand THOUGHT precedes FORM.

What you focus on is where your energy is. 

We are at a choice point, folks. Well, we’ve been at several choice points over the last 20 months! Our reality is crumbling, and I’m not interested in sugar coating it. I AM interested in learning more about being a wakeful witness, about walking the middle way. In shamanic terms, we are experiencing a global dismemberment: when the psyche is torn apart so that something new and more expansive can emerge. Since we’ve essentially finished Year Two of the break-down stage, can we please just remember the old adage of psychotherapists: Things happen FOR you instead of TO you. 

And let’s be careful and cognizant of aligning with language that talks about “when this is all over” or “when things go back to normal.” This language sets us up for disempowerment because it constructs a reality around the idea that the present time is somehow inferior to some other future “time.” We don’t want our language to be a delivery system that gives our power away. 

Lucky for us, it’s Winter. A time to scale down our delusions and trust our insights and instincts. Not everyone likes the cold–I get it. But from an archetypal perspective, we actually have a chance in this frozen, bleak period to surrender to What Is, to practice being the Wakeful Witness. Not to cowboy up and tell one another “You got this!” 

We get to find out what lasts in the winter. And…Only Love Lasts. Everything else is eaten, and dies with the cold. 

How potent can you make your inner life this winter? 


  • Start your day off in a way that you cherish. Sleep resets us. A restful night’s sleep can make the day ahead exciting and filled with magic. However, when we don’t get good, uninterrupted sleep, things feel a bit off and we’re prone to look at life’s limitations instead of life’s possibilities. Now, as a woman who feels like she won the lottery when she gets a really good night’s sleep, I decided to be more mindful of how my day starts–regardless of how I’m waking up. Whether it’s lighting a candle and making a simple intention for the day, sipping coffee alone or with your journal or getting right on the stationary bike, start your day YOUR WAY. When you do this, you’re sending a message of empowerment to your operating system. YOU get to set the tone. If it’s not “your” day, then whose is it? 
  • Ask for help. A friend of mine who suffers from chronic depression and chronic pain said to me a few years ago, “Pain makes you pay attention.” If you’ve ever had a back injury, a migraine, sciatica or even an ingrown fingernail, it’s hard to ignore it. Once the pain is gone, we feel like we’ve gotten our lives back! I agree with my friend–pain colors all other experiences. 

But what about emotional pain? It’s much easier to ignore than physical pain because it is nebulous and unformed. It shows up like an invisible rash you’re too self-conscious to scratch. It might look like depression, guilt, overreacting, over-eating (or limiting food to try and control something), binge-watching Netflix, sloth, self-criticism, reluctance to allow undesirable feelings to emerge, judgment of self and others, over-serving with drugs or alcohol..the list goes on. Where it is hard to modulate to physical pain, it’s kinda easy to modulate to emotional pain. Especially these days when the low-hanging fruit is about the only thing we have to nosh on. 

In the cold, long night of Winter, in the blanket of Yuletide, ask yourself the hard question: Where have I gotten conditioned to my emotional pain? If the lens is muddy, ask a trusted friend where they think you’ve gotten too accustomed to the stubborn creature of emotional pain. Treat your emotional pain like you would a debilitating back injury: see a doctor, or in this case, a therapist. Ask for help through prayer, hot-yoga, automatic writing–whatever speaks to you! Allow your emotional pain the attention it deserves so that it can dissipate.

Attention is, afterall, just love. 

  • Give it up to your teachers. I took a workshop online (Zoom, of course) over the spring with one of my beloved teachers, Barbara Bloecher. It was on the Medicine Wheel and Barbara opened the circle with a note of thanks to all of her teachers, especially the one who had taught her the most about the Medicine Wheel. I loved this idea! And adopted this practice of thanking one’s teachers as a way to open sacred space. 

The other day when I was closing my yoga practice, I remembered this exercise of gratitude. I sat up, got comfy, closed my eyes and started to thank all of my teachers. I started with my shamanic teachers, my therapist, my dream coach, my sweet husband. I went through family members then old bosses and co-workers. Then the children in my life, kids I babysat 40 years ago! I thanked friends that taught me something in my younger life–a jewelry-maker friend who’d shown me how to bead. I thanked my ex-boyfriends, grade school teachers, even the mailman! I thanked the weather, the seasons! There are literally so many teachers in our lives! And I didn’t just think about them or “send them gratitude.” I got really in touch with how they showed up, what they shared with me specifically, how I have integrated their wisdom and the gifts that they freely gave. 

By the end of this tour of gratitude, I could have blinded someone with the light that was beaming out of me! I was swimming in unconditional love. 

And it made me think about how giving one’s time can save someone, can make a difference that truly changes someone’s life. 

So, this Solstice, take a moment to FEEL what a privilege it is to take care of each other and yourself. Light a candle and reflect on all that you have learned from 2021 and when you blow that candle out, imagine all of those lessons firmly anchored inside of you. And then, go outside and look up. Look to the Ancient Ones calling us home to ourselves. And know that you are supported, even in these dark days of quiet contemplation and uncertainty.

Be watchful, and witness.  

Shine On, 
Mary Katherine 


After a very hard decision to not teach at UNE this Spring, a fantastic opportunity fell in my lap! I am teaming up and co-teaching a series called Sacred Storytelling Immersion with House of Indigo Publisher and Intuitive Coach Jessica Verrill. Jess and I have known each other for over 10 years and are excited to collaborate on this project! 

If you have something to say, wisdom to share through written expression, and are ready to RISE UP and be seen, heard, and acknowledged for the soulful seeker you are, this class is for you! 

Class starts in January 2022! To learn more or to register, click here 


My calendar is sprouting with possibilities for 2022! I am currently planning and fine-tuning events, workshops, ceremony and several classes here at Avalon and beyond. From hula-hooping parties to glamping beta-testers to retreats at Borestone to drum making workshops (and SO MUCH MORE!), I will be letting you know through these newsletters as well as my website calendar what’s on the horizon.  Stay tuned! 

Looking for that perfect stocking stuffer? Nine Pillars has your Gift Certificate ready to go! 

And finally…
From time to time, I like to direct my readers to the Resources page on my website. It’s a landing spot for several practitioners I know and work with. Do you need some acupuncture, chiropractic care? How about a private yoga lesson?  Maybe you’re in search of a new therapist? Check out the list; it may get you through the holidays and beyond…



Free Fall Into Gratitude

You’re gonna need a bigger boat.

A chilly dip in the waters off Oak Island North Carolina, on November 9th, 2021 

I’m writing this from Oak Island, NC, where I’ve been visiting family all week. It’s been super relaxing and nourishing, as the beach itself is nearly deserted and the weather here in Carolina is still warm–60’s and 70’s. A perfect pause from Covid, work, and other commitments. 

Although it’s been over a month since it happened, I wanted to share my first “real” traumatic wildlife encounter with you. On a cool 1st of October, around 7:45 AM, Molly discovered that she is not the only animal at Avalon. Walking along the perimeter trail, Molly got one sniff too close to Mr. Porcupine. 

I say “traumatic” to modify ‘wildlife encounters’ because Michael and I have experienced plenty of wildlife: flocks of wild turkey, deer, howling coyotes through the pines. I even saw a very large snow hare last winter, which I understand is rare to see. We watched bats fly out of the cupola all summer, cedar waxwings dive-bomb mosquitos over the frog pond, and an unusual antic with a bold raccoon who nosed her way into the hayloft (now my office) and, well, left her mark. We’ve seen a fisher and porcupine hanging out in the apple trees (literally) and of course tons of raptors, eagles and other birds. 

But when I heard a ‘yelp’ and looked down at my feet to see a cowering, shaking Molly, I went into EMT mode. We were probably half a mile from the house and I fast-walked her back, my heart pounding and tiny sweat beads forming across my forehead. 

I’d say she probably had thirty quills in her left shoulder and leg and twice that in her back left leg, foot, and tail. The sounds of that walk–the longest in my life–were of her doggie hassle, the crunch of fall leaves underfoot and the repeated phrase, “It’s alright baby girl. Mama’s got ya,” coming from my lips in a low but assertive murmur, over and over. Molly seemed to be crawling, not walking. She hovered extremely close to the ground but moved in step with my speed-walking. It was as if she knew she couldn’t fix the problem herself, slightly ashamed at how vulnerable and exposed her little dog-body was. 

At the house, sweat now pouring off of me, I ripped off my coat and hat and dialed the number to Michael’s work, WIndham Highschool. It was unclear whether he could leave school or not; in my frustration, I threw the phone across the kitchen. That didn’t help things so I picked it up and called a neighborhood friend who is also a dog owner and asked where the closest emergency vet was. I called the place she suggested only to be told they weren’t yet open. But they did refer me to the Maine Veterinary Medical Center in Scarboro. We hopped in the car and were off. 

If the walk from the incident back to the house was the longest walk of my life, the drive to that emergency vet was the longest drive of my life. Molly’s black snout was glued to the door frame in the back seat where she half-sat and half-lay, her general position while riding in a car (I think she gets car-sick). I kept cooing and shushing, telling her ‘it’ was going to be alright. In reality, I was conjuring up the worst scenario in my head after remembering that a dog I used to house-sit for swallowed a quill after his full-facial encounter with a porcupine. Some quills had sprayed his chest, and a quill had “migrated” into his lung, collapsing it three weeks later. He died in his sleep. 

In between comforting words to Molly, I prayed. To Artemis, the Goddess of Wild Animals and the Hunt. I prayed to Mother Mary and Jesus, and to my own guides. I needed my baby girl to be okay and I needed to stay grounded; the razor-sharp focus I was experiencing was super-enjoyable, but we were still in EMT mode. 

I arrived at the emergency clinic to thankfully see Michael waiting for us in the parking lot. We sat on the pavement, a bright, beautiful fall day overhead, Molly between us; we didn’t say a whole lot. The tech came out to get her, and Molly was going in for “Porcupine quill removal.” They did indicate that they would give her some sedation; we signed off on the consent forms and then we waited. 

Two hours (and $945) later, Molly was quill-free and very, very woozy. I had the vet tech help me lift her into the car–not because Molly is heavy but at that moment, she was dead weight. I babied her for several hours as she recovered, saying prayers of gratitude now. 

Then, I had to pack: I was going to an island retreat off the coast of Acadia to do dream work with a beloved mentor and two other women. I did a load of laundry, washed some dishes, checked over the must-have list from the retreat’s organizer, finished up some lesson plans so I could truly be “unplugged” for the next 72 hours. 

About three o’clock, I realized I hadn’t eaten–not since the apple & cinnamon donut from the Holy Donut around 9:45 AM. Was I even hungry?

And then it dawned on me: “Must be the adrenaline.” Adrenaline is that yummy stress hormone which is released into your bloodstream by the adrenal glands in times of panic, trauma, fear. There’s tons of benefits one feels from an adrenaline boost, including dopamine, better vision, easier breathing and an analgesic effect against pain. The buzz must have wiped out my need to eat as well. My heightened euphoric state was so noticeable I asked Michael if we could please look into purchasing some mountain bikes, remembering the rush of flying over streams and rugged terrain in Durango on my trusted Diamond Back. Speaking of Michael, I was in a near honeymoon state over him and his willingness to share the burden of a pet emergency, my soaring phone a crumpled memory. And every time I looked at Molly, especially once she started to re-orient, shivering herself into a post-surgery state of mind, I was overcome with emotions–love, gratitude, relief. Were these heightened emotions for partner and pooch part of adrenaline’s lottery ticket? Bring it! 

As I watched my rapid Covid test turn no colors at all, indicating I was negative, I texted my dream mentor: “Negative! See you tom!” As I drove north, in the most beautiful state in the most beautiful season, I thought about how Covid has induced the opposite of what I had been the recipient of the day before. The “threat to safety” which forced the adrenaline to bloom was like lightning in my blood; to be sure, adrenaline has been our ticket to longevity. If you’re reading this right now, it’s because some of your ancestors way, way, way back were darn good at assessing danger, were likely familiar with sacrifice and surely knew about the rewards of risk-taking in general. 

But Covid moved us inside and we started to modulate to isolation. We reached way down to our tribal chakras and have been in a constant state of evaluation: Who’s safe? Is [fill in said activity] worth the risk? We drew in, making ourselves small, and swooned from all of the different (and sometimes contradictory) signals from the news, doctors & specialists, family members, friends & neighbors, spouses, all the while wondering What Should We Do to Be Safe? Should I go out, ever again? Is that shot going to work, or am I going to get sick anyway? 

I wonder if we could practice more “tribal instinct” that leans toward group prosperity and the survival of the collective as a whole, like our ancestors generated, instead of the seemingly never-ending drip of evaluation, judgement and discrimination of who and what is “safe”? The vigilance of Being The Decider syndrome–which we all were forced to inherit–produced a whole bunch of collective anxiety! What some of us would do for just a Day Of Adrenaline, where what YOU DECIDE is Instinctual, primal, and voracious because it lets you know you are alive. 

We’ve become engrained to a persistent separation that none of us asked for. But there comes a time when one must ask themselves: What will the cost of my long-term orienting to fear be? Can I peel some of the warning labels off of my world? If you want to explore and hopefully institute a new mindset that will hold your post-Covid self, one that allows for your safety (perceived or otherwise) and your drive to get on with the hard work of living, you’re going to need a bigger boat. I realize we may not be “post” anything. Does that scare you? If it does, will you permit the fear to be WITNESSED instead of WOVEN into the fabric of your reality? 

Have a wonderful, SAFE AND POSSIBLY EXHILARATING Thanksgiving. 


Mary Katherine 


**This month, I am skipping tooting my horn for a fellow practitioner and instead introducing 2 Maine businesses that focus on inspiring works of art. With the holiday gift-purchasing season upon us, please consider supporting these creative, dear friends! 


Comfortable Locally Designed and Printed Apparel

Ryan Hughes and George Corey’s Maine based business Maine Green is a story of family, friendship, and home told through art. Our vision is to create Maine inspired images to share with the world. Through legends, history, and nature all images have been hand-drawn with passion and love. We owe a great debt of gratitude to this beautiful state, and this is our thank you!

 Maine Green’s Website –

Maine Green’s Etsy Shop –

JoAnn Dowe, Abstract Artist 

 “Creating abstract textured paintings accesses a deep part of my soul. My art is influenced by my journeys abroad and locally, and my practice as an energy healer. I feel the connection with the ocean, lands, galaxies, and their occupants. Spheres, spirals, swirls and geometric shapes call me, and once incorporated, produce strong movement and a flow of primal energy that continues to beam out through vibrant color and form.”

Facebook JoAnnsArtHeals 

Going to York anytime soon? The above photo is from JoAnn’s current show at the Gallery at 244 York Street in York, ME  

And of course, there’s always Gift Certificates from Nine Pillars! And who couldn’t use a little Healing Energy to go with the Fresh Start of 2022? 


Happy Lughnasa!

Oh Shining One….

Mama Charlotte holding the New Moon in Cancer Prayer Bundle
I tried something different this month. Something that scared me. I leaned in, and asked my Mom to see me. And you know what? She did. 
The picture above is my mom sitting at my kitchen table, holding a prayer bundle. After nearly two years of long-distance connection only, Mom made the trek from North Carolina to Maine a few weeks ago. She wanted to see me and Michael, our new home. And meet Molly! 
Two years is a long time to go without seeing a parent, especially a mother. Especially my mother. My mother happens to be my #1 Fan, which I think everyone needs. Everyone needs one person to champion them, unconditionally. My mom is that person. She has always praised me, cheering me on in difficult jobs, relationships or personal struggles. As a raucous and rebellious teenager, she never judged me or told me I was out of line, out of my mind, or embarrassing–which, looking back, she sure could have said those things. Mom nurtured my friends as well, and while she had her “favorites” of the men I dated, she never dismissed any of them or stated disapproval. And believe me, there were a lot. 
Naturally, I wanted to make her visit special. My mom loves baseball so Michael ordered some Sea Dogs tickets. I planned a day of planting annuals because my mom loves her some flowers! She also wanted to see my best friend, Karen Lamb, and her kids. And she wanted to see a special lady named Anne L., who I used to work with at Portland Gastroenterology. I wanted other folks to meet my mom so I planned a FOR-REAL dinner party. Finally! I’d have the sound of loud conversations and clinking glasses in my home! (Good riddance, Covid) 
Sadly, Mom was a bit under the weather while she was here. Sinus congestion with a rugged-sounding cough made us worry enough to go to Urgent Care and get a Covid test. Thankfully, she was negative. She just felt awful, tired, run down. We skipped the Sea Dogs game (too wet) and I decided to cancel the dinner party. I wanted to create a peaceful, restful environment for her to heal, recover. And she did see Karen and Anne and even Michael’s child, Charlie. 

The time that she was here–about seven days–fell over the new moon in Cancer, on July 9th. The new moon, for me, is a time of ritual “seeding”–setting intentions for what I want to grow and manifest. Normally, this ritual would look like me setting sacred space with some incense, candles and calling in the Directions. I would also journey to a helping spirit (Journeying is a shamanic technique I learned long ago to connect with the imaginal realm; the guides who help me there know much better than I what seeds to plant for my highest good!). Once the information is revealed, I may place physical seeds such as apple seeds or pumpkin seeds in a jar or bowl of dirt, tobacco or marbles. The sacred action is symbolic, meaning it is a stand-in for my intention and devotion towards nurturing what helps me grow. 
Since my mom was here, I wanted to share this ritual with her. It didn’t feel right for me to sneak off and disappear to perform this important monthly rite in my office. And although I wasn’t sure how she would respond, I knew I wanted to invite her into my world. 
I was raised in a Christian home. Baptist (and then Presbyterian). We went to Sunday school followed by church service every Sunday. We’d leave the house around 9 AM and get back around 12:30 PM. Did I mention every Sunday? You had to be really sick to skip church, and no one in my family ever skipped church. 
I am so proud and grateful for the religious foundation the church gave me. Although I do not go to church anymore or identify as a Christian, I often pray to Jesus and Mother Mary and also to a ton of angels. Today, my church is the land, the stream, the mountain. The cry of a hungry Red-Tailed Hawk, the glistening dew on a spider’s web. I meet God in a lot of different spots these days and that program fits me, suits my earthy soul just fine. 
But my mom is still very much a church lady. She goes to her Presbyterian church in Greenville, N.C. regularly and has, at other times, served as deacon and elder at other churches. She says Merry Christmas to people at the holidays and does not apologize for it. And she reads her Bible, and prays. 
Because I wanted both my mom and Michael to participate in my new moon ritual, I decided we’d make a prayer bundle together, or despacho. “A what?” Mom asked. I said the word again, and spelled it for her. She immediately googled it on her phone! According to the website The Four Winds, a despacho is “a prayer bundle or offering…that holds symbolic elements and the prayers of the participants.”
After the package is wrapped up and tied, it can either be burned or buried. To create a despacho, you need materials. You need biodegradable items, preferably from nature. Things that will easily burn, or things that can easily biodegrade. The materials we used were: tobacco, corn meal, lavender, pine chips, salt, chocolate, dried flower petals, dried cedar, and sage. 
You also need a big piece of paper, or tissue paper to serve as the base. This time, I asked my mom to write the words, ‘All Is Well’ on a paper plate. We placed that on the paper, face-down. This “cradle” would hold all of the other offerings. 
I explained the procedure to my mom: take a pinch of one of the offerings, hold it while you speak the prayer, then place it on the paper plate. She wanted to know if we were praying for anyone in particular. I told her we could pray for whatever and whomever we wanted. 
So we prayed for our loved ones and family members, friends and neighbors. We prayed for the environment and the government, both local and national. We prayed for God’s creatures, the cleanliness of rivers, for the people who had to move out of this beautiful home Michael and I now live in. We prayed lots of gratitude prayers for the front-liners in the Covid fight, for all of those therapists out there, listening to horror stories. We asked for those who are depressed, addicted, or lonely to find just one person who cared, or could find them some help. We prayed for the “state of the world” in all of her messiness. We prayed for the little babies, those just coming onto the Earth scene, faced with who-knows-what for a viable planet. We prayed for hope, instead of fear, to trickle down to those who have hate in their hearts. We prayed for teachers, everywhere, of every ilk. 
We rotated around and around until nearly all of the offerings were gone. Mom and I both were shamelessly letting the tears roll down our faces. I think it was Michael who, when it got to his about fiftieth time, said, “I think that’s all I have for today.” Then, we thanked the Spirit of the New Moon in Cancerthe sign of the Mother–for listening and taking in all of our prayers and offerings. I tied it up, decorated it with some lavender and a piece of driftwood in the shape of a coyote’s head. It sat in my living room under the watchful protection of Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of Hearth and Home, of Poetry and Healing, until the following full moon, which was July 23rd. This moon in Aquarius was appropriately named the Blessing Moon. 
Although Mom was not here when Michael and I burned it, her presence was very much with us. It is said that as a prayer bundle burns, the prayers are released, the smoke carrying the prayers where they need to go. Fire is the Sacred Alchemist, turning “this” into “that” and never going back to What Was. 
After the despacho ceremony, I thanked my mom for being willing to try something new and different. I stopped short of giving her the “this-is-how-I-worship-now” speech–a willful daughter trying to be seen, and accepted for Who She Is Now. I didn’t do that because, honestly, I didn’t have to. What we had created together exceeded the need to differentiate between Her Way of worshipping and My Way. It was important to create something sacred together, and it was really important for me to share my spiritual practice with my mom. 
Why did it feel so vulnerable to introduce this thing to mom? I think it’s because we are especially protective of the things in life that are important to us, that are extensions of our soul. Everyone harbors a fear of rejection, as it is human nature. But my mother has always “gotten me” no matter what because she has always loved me for exactly who I am.
And that is the greatest gift you can ever give anyone.  
Blessings on this 1st Harvest! May the bright, shining gifts of Lughnasa rain down upon your path. May you show up with your vulnerable self, as I did with my mom, to dismantle the illusion of separation. 

Shine on!
~Mary Katherine 


I met Kat at a shamanism class nearly 10 years ago.  We’ve explored many worlds since that first meeting and become great friends. In addition to her shamanic practice focusing on sacred space design and tools such as the Medicine Wheel, Kat practices Reiki and The Bars/Access Consciousness, but her long-time passion is “The Work that Reconnects,”  a practice she discovered in the 1990s and studied in 2017 while on a year-long solo cross-country sabbatical.  “The Work that Reconnects” was created by Systems Thinking expert, Buddhist Scholar and Nuclear Activist Joanna Macy, who Kat had the honor of studying with while she was traveling in the Southwest. 
Joanna Macy states that “The Work that Reconnects (TWTR) helps people discover and experience their innate connection with each other and the self-healing powers of the web of life, transforming despair and overwhelm into inspired, collaborative action.”  To Kat’s way of thinking “TWTR is a framework for approaching our deepest and most protected feelings about what is happening to our planet and its inhabitants.  It relies on attributes assigned to the four cardinal directions as a platform for integration, within and with one another.” 
Kat has more than 35 years of community-based facilitation and group work; she left her management position in State Government in 2011 in support of the Great Turning.  She conducts workshops in private settings and for corporate as well as non-profit groups. She lives in Augusta and can be reached by phone or text at 207-446-8099 or by email at For more information about The Work that Reconnects, visit
 *No classes or ceremonies will be offered in August; please keep an eye out for September events and offerings happening in September and October here at Avalon Acres!