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Archive for December, 2008

The Coming Solstice

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Psalm 84:3

crocus_baby

The snow is really falling, since I began typing I’ve seen an inch of snow added to the railing outside.  Solstice is just a few days away. Its hard to believe that the darkness has already advanced this far.  In just a little bit the days will begin growing longer again opening up to spring.  This year I plan to mark a place in the woods on my land with a circle or an earth alter.  I intend to have a sacred space set aside for reflection and a place to celebrate the changing of the seasons. 

I will unfortunately be in Austin on the Solstice.  The idea of returning there is very difficult to stomach.  I made my peace with the land last May, and thanked it for the time it supported me, but let it know that I had moved on and that my home was now elsewhere.  After this trip I hope it will be a long time before I have to return.  It will be nice to see so many of the people that have supported me and the other victim’s through out this ordeal, but knowing that my parents are so close physically but so far away emotionally, will be trying.  Austin is so small in a way too, there is always a fear that you may run into someone from the cult. When the girls were leaving there after they pressed charges they nearly bumped into the Treasurer and chief financial supporter of the cult as they walked through the airport.  But the fears will be countered by the handful of people who have gone out of their way to support us.  These few people are so amazing.  They were willing to face some very difficult realities and didn’t just walk away from the group, but united in a front to help bring justice to the victims of this groups spiritual and moral fraud. Hooray for those that have courage!

Anyhow, perhaps while in Austin on the Solstice I can recognize it as way to put so much of the pain and struggle behind me and prepare for the gestation and birth of a new era for myself, my friends, and my remaining and adopted family.

Out side a troup of Dark-Eyed Juncos has landed in the Platter Magnolia branches.  59They are chirping and rustling up little piles of snow as they land.  I guess they came down out of the mountains to try and get a respite from the cold weather.   They are called snowbirds, I guess because one often only sees them when the snow is falling.  I tossed them a pile of corn bread crumbs that quickly settled into the snow.  I hope they find it.  Its cold outside and the flurries continue.

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Out of the bosom of the Air, Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken, Over the woodlands brown and bare, Over the harvest-fields forsaken, Silent, and soft, and slow Descends the snow.

The snow keeps falling and my fear of driving in the snow in a truck has kept me from going out to the land to work.  Its kind of painful to sit hear when there is so much to do out there, but I just have to settle into the situation and enjoy the guilt-free act of doing nothing.  Yesterday Dylan stayed home and we napped, and cuddled, made cookies, read, cooked Shepherd Pie with elk, watched M*A*S*H,  listened to music and watched the snow fall. 

Today I sit with a cup of my favorite tea,  listening to Hildegard Von Bingen and cuddle my kitties.  If I didn’t have so much work to do and was already out living on the land  I would be in Heaven.  But I’ll try to remain present and enjoy this day just as it is.

dulac_arielMy family is weird!  This is not a fact that is new to me,  but one that is just consistently reinforced.  Yesterday I was on the  phone with my sister to ask her if she wanted to go to the Skagit County Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool.  It seems like fun thing to due in the middle of winter and its only 45 dollars and includes a rib lunch.  Anyhow I told her how I had learned of a master beekeeper course being offered by the Snohomish County WSU extension and that I planned on taking it. She excitedly piped in that she herself was going to take that class as well.  She lives in Bellingham but had decided to take the class anyhow.  I suppose there are others like us out there,  but it strikes me as strange that two sisters, both in thier twenties ( what? I still have eight monthes before I turn 30 :0 ) eagerly signed up for the same beekeeping class in Everett  Washington.

I don’t really expect to become a master beekeeper, certified by the state, but it seems like tricky buisiness and for 50 dollars and 6 weeks worth of education, how can one go wrong.  I do intend on placing some hives on the land and doing what I can to have asmall store of honey and am very excited about this course. I must keep  on eye on the classes offered by the county extension as they seem to have some really wonderful offering, Cheesmaking mastercourse and Cidermaking are also on thier list.  I will certainly keep you posted on what I learn and learnif it is true that one really does become immune to the pain of the bee sting after time.

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There is but One God, Her name is Truth, She is the Creator,She fears none, She is without hate,She never dies, She is the cycle of birth and death, She is self illuminated, She is realized by the kindness of the True Guru. She was True in the beginning, She was True when the ages commenced and has ever been True, She is also True now.

jb_inge

I am currently wondering if another stint, with another kind of mean herbalist is for me.   It was just over a year ago that I withdrew from my herbal shamanic course on Whidbey Island.  It was just past a year ago in September I learned the truth about the cult my family was involved with.  And at that time was forced to take action that irreparably tore my family apart.  My sisters and I finally realized the extent of our abuse and formally pressed charges against the leader of the cult.  My family disowned me an there was a full on assault from from the cult leadership and my family alike.  At that time I was involved with a small group of nature based spiritualists in New Mexico, and I made the decision to go to a women’s workshop and attempt some healing.  My herbalist teacher left me a nasty message saying that she expected me without fail to be at her class that week.  I had already attempted to explain to her my upheaval and peril.  Yet she took it upon herself to act as though I knew less about what I needed in in my own healing then she did.  So I with withdrew.  My background in an Eastern cult with a guru lead me to a place where I was wholly unable to listen to the demands of others that discounted my own needs.  I am sorry that I have missed the opportunity to fully experience what her class had to offer,  but I feel totally secure in my decision to remove myself from another commanding experience.

Onwards,  April of this year I found myself in a month long excursion into the wilderness.   I came to the people  that offered this experience through a circuitous path of seeking.  While there,  the fruit of my dissidence erupted and my family’s guru was arrested four days before my scheduled departure.  I was panicked and scared and my “Teachers”  were removed and hardened to my situation.   I asked to leave to deal with the situation and to give and seek support from the other victims and they wanted nothing further to do with me then to tear me apart an tell me that my life would be that much less “magical” without connection to them.  They sought to strip me of the experiences I had upon their land land to tell me that life without them would be unfufilling. I had gone there to seek a spirituality removed from dogma and tradition and in the end found that when I did as they said, which was act out my own true self,  they discarded me.  In my most trying hour, they had no sympathy.  They , like my former guru, sought only to make me conform to their set of preset rules.  

I have been to classes with with Susan Weed an though I admire her, I do not believe her teachings are for me.  Beyond her medicine,  I see a propensity for conformity.  It seems she desires people to be as harsh as she is.  And though I admire her harshness in theory,   her harshness is not a world that fits with my sensibility.  At an Oregon herbal conference,  she attacked a young apprentice for referring to a man she had just referenced as “guy.”  She berated the woman,  telling her that it was her fault that the feminists movement had not moved any further because she used a West Coast colloquialism.  What would she have to say about all the girl’s in Texas who say “ya’ll?”

My point is not to discount teachers,  I suppose at points in all of our lives we need them.  And though I will never deign to say that I am beyond learning ,  my experience leads me to understand that I am “past” teachers.  By that I don’t mean that I have learned it all,  for I know beyond measure that is not true.  However,  I feel that the desire to follow one persons prescribed life path is something I cannot and never will again deal with.   I have so much to learn,  but from now on I will look to my original teachers;  the plants, the rains, the watery sound, the hill country, the snow on the mountains, the sand beneath my feet,  the buzz of the canyon, the greenness of the earth,  the islands in the sky,  the paws of cats,  the mole hills, the damp of the leaves,  the cold, cold wind,  the rush of the Stilliguamish, the strength of the waterfalls,  the wildflowers,  my friends, the greening of the trees, the fall of their leaves,  the compost of leaf to soil, and the sod on my feet.

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Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth

jb_magic_flowersMy journey back to the wild begun with an intense desire to reconnect with the natural world.  A place I once felt at home, and a place that in my late twenties I began to realize I was losing touch with.  I began by looking around my natural surroundings which were rife with green life and trying the waters of nature based spirituality.  I found initially that by delving into herbal medicine I could immediately connect with my natural surroundings.   My search for spirituality lead me to many writers on the subject, some of which I still admire and some that I subsequently found are better writers than teachers.

Another issue I encountered in my studies is my own reluctance to self medicate which seems to be the way most herbalist learn their trade.  I have never been one for medication,  and that reluctance to medicate , I admit, may be a fault.  I have, at heart, an inability to  go out of my way to treat issues I feel sure my body can handle on her own.  When I was down in New Mexico earlier this year I developed a strange inflamed, ichy rash on my toes after walking a space barefoot in a sandy enchanted canyon.  My hosts were so kind and quick in offering me a foot soak which I am sure would have hastened recovery but after two days of soaking and no further recovery I left it too my body to deal with the irritation it was fighting.  The unexplained rash disappeared and the heat and itch resided and I was left with a guilty feeling about not utilizing the magic that the plants would surely have given me.

I cannot explain it,  it is not a resistance to helping myself nor a inability to commit,  but I seem unable to to utilize the gifts of the plants when it comes to “minor” issues.  In some ways I feel that it is a affront to my body to suggest that it does not have the ability to heal itself in its own time, in it own way, especially when dealing with minor irritations.  A one day bought with diarrhea does not prompt me to drink blackberry leaf infusion,  but to try an notice why I had diarrhea in the first place.  Was it an inconsiderate meal choice, or a massive emotional issue I am not dealing with?  For me,  feeling and noticing my bodies issues,  is one of the many things that bring me back into my body.  In this sense I do feel that I am an avid Susan Weed’er.  In her seven rivers of healing her first and most vital step is “first, do nothing.”   I am still a major believer in herbal medicine and love the gifts the plants give me, however, I do initially try not to fight what ails me,  but let my body deal with what ails me.  If something persists and gets worse,  then I act.

I only note this reluctance to medicate to speak of my comparative failure as an herbalist,  for though I can tell you many of the uses for local plants I cannot attest to many of them merely because I cannot seem to to utilize them in in the situations they are most useful.

I can however tell you of nettle.  Nettle most seriously has changed my life.  A lifetime of sluggishness and fog rapidly went away after a six week stint of drinking nettle infusion.  I was able to stay up with the routine of the nettle infusion, after finding that upon waking I craved the green, creamy taste.  I am not healed but massively improved and now find that the process of brewing an infusion seems to come naturally when I most need it.  My body seems compelled to rise from bed and boil the water and measure the dried herb that I  gathered earlier in the year and set it rest on the counter overnight.    I also effortlessly strain and simmer the tea and drink it eagerly in the morning without pause.

  I have found that, for me, herbal medicine is almost akin to muscle testing.  When I need it my body seems to compel me to nourish myself as needed.  That may not be the words that many herbalist will teach but it  is my experience and therefor my truth.

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 Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.

So much work to be done yet, but so much done already.  Its still a bit hard to believe that after all the struggle to make the purchase we finally have the land.  On  the first day we went in with a vengence and tore out the carpeting and banged out a few walls.  We then went after the “nico-patina.”  Layers upon layers of paint.  I then reworked the kitchen.  I scrubbed and stripped and sanded  the kitchen cupboards and reworked the design.  And one day I tore up the countertops and replaced them with pine.  Its all looking good and slowly coming together.  

This weekend  a very cold bought of weather came in, unfortunately, because we were so late in finalizing the purchase we were unable to gather our supply of wood for the winter.  On Saturday morning we had a cord of wood delivered which Dylan anxiously stacked later at 1:30 in the morning.  Saturday we layed pine floors in the bathroom,  and worked until nearly 3 in the morning.

The work has been  sooo incredibly satisfying.  Its created a stytemic change in both Dylan and me.  And though  is late in the year and we will have to wait until the weather improves before we can really begin work on the land itself.  We are happy to be doing what we can to begin our life,  in the shadow of Whitehorse Mountain  on our little homestead we’ve dubbed Sky Island Farm.

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