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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

Newsletter

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

OR

__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 kate@katebathrascoaching.com 

And! Coming IN JUNE….SAVE YOUR SPOT NOW! 

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: ninepillarshealing@gmail.com. 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 (katbeau50@gmail.com) or Mary Katherine Spain(ninepillarshealing@gmail.com) 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

Newsletter

Swirl Out of Winter, Welcome Spring!

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

Epitheulius.

[EPA-thu-lee-US]

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 

FEATURED PRACTITIONER 

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: tboulanger1@me.com

ADD ‘WRITING COACH’ TO MY CV! 

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 marykatherinespain@gmail.com 

AND SPEAKING OF WRITING…

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!  

A FEW MORE TID-BITS…

__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!
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HAPPY IMBOLC: Just Do YOU

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: 

JUST DO YOU.

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

UPCOMING OFFERINGS

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

A NEW CLASS STARTS in 3 WEEKS! Introducing CLICK MY HEALS

(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 

DRUMMING CIRCLE AND BONFIRE

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!”

Uncategorized

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? 

TIPS FOR A NOURISHING and SOULFUL 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 

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! 

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 

COMING SOON! 

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…

RESOURCES

Uncategorized

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. 

Blessings, 

Mary Katherine 

FEATURED PRACTITIONER 

**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! 

MAINE GREEN 

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 – https://www.mainegreenco.com

Maine Green’s Etsy Shop – https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaineGreen?ref=shop_sugg

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.” 

 www.innerstillnesshealing.com/my-art

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? 

Uncategorized

Happy Lughnasa!

Oh Shining One….

Mama Charlotte holding the New Moon in Cancer Prayer Bundle
GREETINGS on this LUGHNASA! 
 
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 

  FEATURED PRACTITIONER: KAT BEAUDOIN  

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 katbeau50@gmail.com. For more information about The Work that Reconnects, visit www.workthatreconnects.org.
 
 *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! 
 
Uncategorized

Your Present Wholeness

Walking makes you wise. The guidance one can receive while walking about in nature, putting one foot in front of the other, is nothing new of course; different cultures all over the world know that fresh air coupled with movement “clears the head.” Charles Dickens walked twelve miles a day around London for his writing break. This spin around town as a bi-ped did not require Dickens’ stroll to be ‘in nature’ although that is where I receive most of my guidance. And, if I can get more specific: climbing a mountain is a sure way to feel grounded, guided and altogether energetically re-set.

Happy Dog: Molly enjoys a purple football and soft grass

Although our big walk is usually taken once a week at Little Ossipee Mountain, this week I wanted to introduce my pooch Molly to the beach! She’s never been to the ocean before and it was time to take her. In addition to introducing Molly to the beach, I myself wanted to commune with the ocean. We’re made of the elements and, at times, our mental, physiological and spiritual alert systems crave them: FIRE transmutes old, worn-out patterns and sparks creative energy; AIR re-introduces us to “fresh thinking” and stimulates mental functions; EARTH works to ground us and stabilize our often taxed brain and body; and WATER welcomes in flexibility, flow and a return to our emotional truths.

This pull to the ocean may not have been all that mysterious: Living where I do now, in the most idyllic, high-vibing rural paradise of my dreams, EARTH is very present. Was I possibly feeling too grounded? Perhaps there’s been some emotional territory I have been avoiding that I sensed water could ‘unjam.’ All water is symbolic of the Feminine but the ocean especially is BIG MOTHER ENERGY. Maybe I was missing my mom (who I haven’t seen in well over a year, almost two!) 

A bit more about the paradise I have the privilege of stewarding with my husband Michael: Avalon Acres (as we have deemed it) is fifty acres of mostly woods with farmland and wildlife trails. There’s an apple orchard, wide open fields, vegetable gardens and mature landscaping. The old farmhouse has charm and ‘alarm’–always plenty of things to improve! And we’re on a dirt road–nice and quiet. In other words, this ‘property’ is truly a sanctuary. The word ‘Avalon’ means ‘isle of apples;’ the legendary Avalon is where King Arthur retreated to have his battle wounds nursed by the irrepressible Morgan Le Fay, his half-sister, who was assisted by her bevy of talented high priestesses. Morgan and her eight sisters healed Arthur–body and soul–restoring him to health and enabling him to return to his duties as King. In Arthurian legend, Avalon became associated with magical beings and mystical experiences, where the secret Mysteries of the Feminine were alive and well, where personal gnosis [self-revelation through devotion to spiritual matters] and reverence for the Earth were freely practiced. Those who sought a different kind of healing than what the court physician could provide found themselves making a pilgrimage to Avalon. 

The Long View: Plenty of Room to Roam at Avalon

Avalon Acres, in Hollis, Maine, has a similar vision. We have mighty big dreams to execute and foresee this ‘isle of apples’ to also be a place where those who are feeling “embattled” with life might come to be restored. When the only safe place to go during Covid was OUTSIDE, the natural world leapt to greet us, hold us, and welcome us back. We are at home in nature because we are nature–not separate from anything else that also lives and dies under the sun. We forget that the pacifier of Netflix [or, fill in your preferred entertainment] used to come in the form of words leaving the mouth of a trusted elder, a wise grandmother or a experienced traveler. We humans would listen on pins and needles to these words with nothing to interrupt the storyteller but the sound of a popping fire or stifled giggles at the amusing parts. Once upon a time, we lived outside, among the furry faces and weather, with an eye to what Bear was eating and how Crow was flying. We had a common aptitude, a connection to nature because we did not see ourselves as any different. 

I’d like to return to this All-Knowingness with the natural world. And so the guidance I sought prior to Molly’s beach introduction was around how to NOT feel overwhelmed with the job of executing the vision that Michael and I have for our Avalon. We want to garden and maybe have some animals; we foresee renting the barn out for private events; he wants to re-invigorate his Naked Shakespeare ensemble and dreams of the Bard’s words spoken under the stars; I want to hold vision quests for all of my clients and friends who need that type of sustained spirit-saturation in a safe container; we’d like to sell our produce, maybe make apple cider and have yoga classes, open-mic music nights, writer retreats, Highland games, fundraisers for the community–the list goes on!! There is a lot of potential here but we can’t do everything (not all at once, anyway). Plus, there’s no magic cave with unending amounts of money in it–we need to be strategic. Dreaming Big for two risk takers is the easy part but we need to prioritize!

Earlier in the week, I’d had a near panic attack thinking about the to-do’s–not just with the aforementioned Dream-List but the work of owning a big property. Only eight months ago, we lived in a tiny, posh, maintenance-free condo in Portland. This change has been massive, to put it lightly. My panic attack was right on time–I was consumed with all there is to do. It’s easy to do, isn’t it? No matter what our ‘to-do’ lists hold, it weighs on us. 

So feeling the panic, I asked for help. Not sure what other people do but when I get stressed, I pray. Spirit was real clear: “You are always striving, barreling to meet that ‘perfect day’ in the future, when everything is ‘all set’ all taken care of. When the to-do list is done. When there’s no more thinking. Striving towards that imaginary day in the future only pulls your energy away from Your Present Wholeness.” This made so much sense to me! I think many of us ‘strive towards that perfect day.’ We intend to improve our life by enacting certain choices we hope will bring stability, pleasure, happiness, a sense of accomplishment. So, how do we avoid striving (and the energy sink it perpetuates) and still get things done? If we expect to see our dreams and visions realized, how do we not strive? 

When we left for the beach, this was what I was hoping to get some perspective on. Before we were even half-way down Broadturn Road on the way to Pine Point, I had been given two answers to this question! Life’s Instruction manual, courtesy Spirit. 

Number 1: The first thing one must do to avoid taking too many trips into the future is regular embodiment exercises, preferably ones that involve an awareness on the breath. Yoga, kundalini yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong. Even dancing for long periods will anchor the energy of the body IN THE BODY (where it belongs). It’s not the body that strives and yearns for that imaginary day in the future when things are perfect–it’s the mind that does that! The body is limited to cells and blood and bone and bodily functions. It’s happy to live in the vitality it harbors. The mind, on the other hand, can do either–stay in the present (in the body) or truck off down the road into the future (or the past-). The body can’t leave the body (nor does it want to). What Spirit was telling me was that I barter away access to my energy when I think and ruminate and worry too much about the future, or ‘all there is to do.’ What counters that tendency is the practices listed above. (Great news! I love yoga and dancing and Qigong!) 

Number 2: Do every task, even the very mundane ones, with Gratitude. When we bring a sense of appreciation to the action steps of realizing dreams (or washing that sink full of dirty dishes-), our hearts pop wide open. When our hearts are open, we are present. When our hearts are open, we are present to our Present Wholeness! It is super hard to escape the moment when your heart is open. Try it sometime. Try to leave the present when your heart is spacious, not constricted with worry or grief. And when you are in deep gratitude for What Is, your heart is open. And there is always something to be thankful for. 

And so, I commit to trying this. It’s really not  that difficult when you think about it. I’d rather stay in my Present Wholeness and have easy access to my body’s vitality. The present is where we make decisions and that is where the decisions we make get carried out! There is no perfect day in the future; only the perfect Now. 

See you at Avalon. And Blessings to you from Father Sky! Enjoy the longest day of the year on Sunday June 20th!

Rise up and Meet the Sun!
Uncategorized

A New Moon Meditation…

Today, May 11th, marks the New Moon in Taurus. A new moon is when the Sun and the Moon are sitting side by side to each other. We do not have the sun’s light shining upon the moon, as they are next to each other in the sky, therefore it is considered “dark.” In two weeks, there will be a full moon, when the sun shines upon the moon, revealing that which have been planted at the new moon…

The 9 Pillars of the Divine Feminine came to me during a new moon meditation. The new moon in Libra, October 2018, to be exact. It is remarkable to think that the Pillars came to me via Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, Justice and Mercy, at the time of Libra–the great Balancer. If you can imagine the scales of justice held by Athena, you have a picture of the nature of that new moon.

Our moon today is in the sign of Taurus, the first Earth sign of the Zodiac. If Aries is “I AM” then Taurus is “I sense.” It is, in fact, a tremendously sensual sign, and time. A new moon wants us to slow down, to be quiet. The metaphorical “seed planting” means to set an intention, to watch the purpose of that intention grow with the moon. In Taurus, we are invited to appreciate the Earthy pleasures of being alive, to sit and take in a beautifully manicured garden, to walk slowly through that garden touching each and every one of the flowers, to send deep appreciation to the natural world.

In this meditation, I invite you to get comfortable, and sit somewhere quiet. Take some nice long breaths before hand and imagine you have a root stalk between your sit bones. Send its column of connection down into the Mother. You may even want to lie down for this meditation, and burn some incense. Taurus is ruled by Venus and anything we can do to make ourselves feel more beautiful, cozy, and at ease is a good thing to cultivate at this time.

In this meditation, you will meet the Spirit of the New Moon in Taurus to seek guidance on what kind of “seeds” [intentions] you are in most need of planting today. Be open to what she has to share–we are prone to “know” what we think we need; Spirit often operates on a different level than that! So relax, sit back and breathe!

To listen to the New Moon in Taurus meditation, click this link.

The Faery Garden I created on May 1st, Beltane!
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A Yule Story: REDEFINING LOVE

Altar on Sunday, December 20th~A Winter Solstice Ceremony

THE LOVE TRAIN

            I’m in, I’m on, I’m tucked in right here under the luggage wrack. I barely made it because, you know, I’m coming in from the flight called 2020. You too? Bumpy doesn’t cover it. But we’re here now. We’re settling in to the Love Train.

            LOVE. It’s an over-sued word, isn’t it? ‘Love’ can mean so many different things. Just yesterday after reading my very thoughtful “course and instructor evaluations” I said to Michael, ‘I love my students.’ Would I tell them that? No! That would be weird. I ‘love’ my three-dollar plaid shawl I found at Goodwill that reminds me of my Scottish heritage. Do I tell it I love it? No! That also would be weird and maybe questionable. And yet we take the word and force it into all kinds of scenarios, expecting it to do our emotional and psychological heavy-lifting. What creates this dependency, this compulsion to rely so much on the word ‘love’? And why is it off limits to my students or a piece of cloth? In most instances in our modern world, we use the word ‘love’ in its romantic sense. Or, we use it to create dramatic emphasis, as in: ‘I love that new Adelle song’ or ‘I love Clint’s salsa’ ( I do!). We do a lot of ‘loving’ in our culture but I’m wondering if by over-extending its meaning, we aren’t diluting its essence? We need to first receive love in order to give it, and in order to recognize it later on. When we are babies, ‘love’ is actually attention, and care.

            But you don’t say, “I attention you” to your beloved, your children, or even your pooch. And I won’t come out and say ‘I love you, shawl from Goodwill’ although that’s how I feel! I explore these thoughts today, on this Day-After-Christmas morning, because to me, it is so much more important to cultivate the ways in which love is delivered and distributed in our world. Let’s wander off-field for a minute and imagine what recovering from our cultural expectations and semantic ideas of modern, often mass-marketed notions of love would look like:
            Here’s a story that’s perfect for sharing at this Yule time. I was in the Saco post office about 3 weeks ago. I had only one package to mail to North Carolina, for my mom. I’d gotten up early so as to avoid waiting in line as well as reducing my chances of being exposed to all of those asymptomatic Covid-carriers. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who had this idea! I found a primo parking spot right on Main Street but when I opened the post office door, there were at least 7 people already waiting. Eight-thirty—opening time—came and went and still we stood there. Several more people came in to the post office; some huffed and left, not willing to wait. Finally, a bedraggled postal employee appeared and told us that the computer wasn’t properly shut down the night before and he was trying to track down the employee for her ‘passcode.’ We were unamused and went back to sighing and staring at our phones.

            The line eventually started to move. However, transactions were not swift! We all groaned as we watched the first customer insert and removed her debit card several times before the transaction was complete. This seemed to happen to each and every person thereafter! A normally 3-4 minute exchange was taking around 8 minutes (which feels like an age in the post office).  The mash-up of ridiculousness, holiday stress and Covid-fatigue fell over us still waiting our turns; snarky yet entertaining conversations started to spring up and I could feel the “citizen pack” forming.

            The young lady in front of me finally walked up to the counter. She too punched and punched the debit machine, to no avail. Her forced cheerfulness was palpable towards the postal employee, who no doubt was just trying his best. We crinkled our collective brows as we watched them laugh and smile, wondering when, when when! things might move along.

            And then, she dug around in her purse, produced her wallet and pulled out several dollar bills.

            Gulp. I didn’t have any cash. I turned to the woman behind me, who at this point in the morning felt like someone I could trust with my life. “Looks like cash only. I can’t believe this,” I said.

            She stared through the glass door over my shoulder. “Oh, no. Well, that’s okay. I just went to the bank.”

            I looked down at my package to my mom, its expert wrapping a skill I’d learned from her. “I don’t carry cash. I don’t have any cash on me this morning. This is unbelievable!”

The customer strolled through the doors, waving her receipt over her head. “Cash only folks,” she announced and then power-walked out. I knew I shouldn’t get mad but I was! I was upset, as anyone would be. It was finally my turn, I couldn’t go. I had no money.

That’s when the lady behind me said, “I’ll pay for it. Go ahead! You have waited all this time.”

Tears sprang to my eyes as I stared back at her; others behind her were waiting for the line to move yet they looked on as we had our exchange. Perhaps they were deciding: ‘Should I continue with my impatience and holiday stress or get swept up in witnessing this act of kindness?’

Kindness, care, attention, love. I fumbled for my phone so I could get her number or email and send her the money; she refused. I offered Venmo, Paypal? Nope.

“Please,” she said, tears now filling her eyes. “Let me do this for you. I can’t be with my son this year,” she said, gesturing towards her packages headed to New York. “And you can’t be with your mom. But we can still brighten someone’s day.”

I wiped at my eyes and said something I never say but, in that moment, I meant every syllable. I said, “Bless your heart.”

$14.68. But, really, it was like a lottery ticket. A solid gold bar. She did in fact brighten my day and so much more! It was an act of giving, and of receiving. An act of care, of humanity. It was an act of love. And she insisted on remaining anonymous.

That vibration carried me all day, all month really because here I am this morning, compelled to share it with all of you. We can love our pieces of clothing, our friends and lovers, those in our care, like my students. We can say we love anything, anyone, at anytime because frankly, words are cheap, and easy. But perhaps it’s time to expand and maybe re-vision our methods of distribution. The word may be over-used but the feeling—the experience of Love—never gets old.