Monday, December 22, 2014


The picture is a mashup my sister put together, of a photo we took at a gathering a few months before my sister Karen died, and a few weeks ago in Oregon. She was interested in recreating a few photos from the 1980s gathering. I think this one is by far the most compelling.

The fact that we are facing each other is powerful. My brother asked, "If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be?" When I thought about it, I decided that the younger me was not able yet to listen, to take in advice. I was still finding my way into myself, or you could say it this way: at that age I was still needing to bang my head against the wall - repeatedly. The only thing I could imagine saying was Good Luck.

But if the younger me wanted to ask for specific advice, well my goodness she would get an earful.

Just for fun, I decided to ask for her advice. What do I need? How am I doing, from your perspective? I've been letting my imagination run with it. It has been kind of a hoot. The younger me is very impressed with my hair at this age, and approves of the glasses. Of course she is thrilled that I still wear lipstick all the time.

Of course.

It's fun to imagine seeing myself as an old lady. I think the younger me would be surprised and kind of impressed.

As I gaze at my young self, what I feel mostly is protective. I wish I could wave a wand to make all the anger and sadness vanish, to clear some of the confusion, pour a little self-worth into that lovely young woman. Of course that is never possible. Healing, even spontaneous healing, is hard work. When I look at the face of my younger self, I'm in awe of how much healing work I've done over the decades since then. My goodness. This young woman in the picture isn't even Reya yet. I was Rebecca at that time, I believe, or maybe people still called me Ruby. I think I was involved in psychotherapy, and also was seeing the great osteopath/homeopath, but had not yet begun to study witchcraft. I was decades away from becoming a healer of any stripe. I look so raw, ill prepared.

Maybe the right advice would be: You're Going to Make It.

The younger me and the current day me are having many conversations about what it means to be a healer, what it takes to become a healer. This meditation is yielding a lot of interesting ideas. I should write about them on the other blog, probably.

One thing the younger me believes strongly is that I need a boyfriend. I've explained that I don't care about that anymore - it's liberating. She says no, it's not about that. She says, you need someone to talk to every day, to share your life with. It's time. 

Interesting to think about!

Our jolly company.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Round peg, square hole

I don't want to be a grinch, I really don't but I kind of am. Maybe not even kind of.

I don't like Christmas carols, only because I've heard them all too many times. They're pretty songs. I guess. I have never seen The Nutcracker, yet I'm tired of that music, too. I never get a tree and own not even one Christmas ornament. There are no boxes of tangled Christmas tree lights in my closet.

See what I mean?

Hanukkah is not inspiring, either. It celebrates a military victory and is not a major Jewish holiday. It was placed on steroids to compete with Christmas. Not really my kind of holiday.

I honor the solstice, though usually alone. Even when I was part of the Reclaiming community, I dreaded winter solstice when we were expected to stay up all night. I'm a diurnal creature who prefers to be tucked in bed especially on the longest night.

I believe I've made my point. This year I decided to save all the Christmas cards and the few little gifts I will receive until Christmas morning. I will open these things with my morning coffee. Maybe that will get me into the spirit, ya think?

Maybe. We shall see.

I'm not in a bad mood and I don't hate Christmas and I don't resent anyone who wishes to celebrate any ritual of the returning light. That I can't find a way to appreciate the holiday is yet another example of what an odd duck I am.

Hey. Rather than a grinch, maybe I could think of myself as an odd duck. It's not as self blaming. I kind of like it.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Tribal Summit

My sister Deborah above me, brother Josh next to her. Hannah is at the bottom right. Michelle is holding the center.

I used to hide from Thanksgiving. For years after I stopped working at Whole Foods, I hid in my room on T-day, cooked rice and veggies and watched Hugh Grant movies. It was true then and still true that the traditional feast is repugnant to me. I can't digest any of those foods. Also I saw so many dead, raw turkeys at Whole Foods, the idea of facing a cooked one was unbearable. I was a Thanksgiving grinch.

One year my housemate invited his extended Puerto Rican family for Thanksgiving dinner at the house on Tennessee Avenue. Well, that event was a game changer. It was so much fun. There was turkey, also a gigantic ham, rice and beans, and a lot of booze. A lot. I had no idea what was being said, since I do not speak Spanish. But I could feel the energy of blissful celebration. Those Puerto Ricans know how to blow off energy. They know how to party. Yeah.

It was an epiphany. All of a sudden I realized I could actually enjoy Thanksgiving. It was a healing experience. I've enjoyed the holiday ever since, for the last two years in the Cascades of Oregon, at a cabin on Crescent Lake. Last year it was my sister Hannah's family including her daughter, husband and grandkids, minus her son, wife and grandkids. And the dogs, of course.

This year the ante was upped. My sisters and brother flew in from hither and yon to join our jolly company. It had been years since all of us converged in one room. We are a Jewish family, hence we are much like the Puerto Ricans, everyone talking at once, lots of laughter, hooting, and such.

In fact the way it turned out should have been a perfect storm: eight adults, two children and three dogs, stuck for three days indoors in a space that comfortably accommodates six. We had planned to get out for walks, but the weather insisted we stay in. An icy rain fell almost non-stop during our time on the mountain. You can not argue with the weather.

I was rattled. There were so many conversations ongoing at any one time, plus the TV, games with sound effects on devices, dogs barking and maybe someone playing the guitar. All at once.

All at once.

My life is pretty quiet. I do speak to people, of course, though usually it's one at a time. When I work, no one talks. Spoken language is very difficult for me in the best of circumstances. Oh I was rattled. In spite of that, I managed to behave decently except when I broke down a couple of times and started lecturing. Fortunately I caught myself fairly quickly.

There were moments of similarly ungraceful behavior from others in the group, but mostly we were all on our best behavior, determined to relax and enjoy ourselves. The ancestors kept their distance except on the last night when everyone had gone home except me. My sister, brother-in-law and I watched Annie Hall. I felt, afterwards, this was our nod to those responsible for placing my siblings and I in the same family. That movie is so good. If you haven't seen it in awhile, I recommend it. So many iconic scenes in that film. Fabulous.

It snowed the last night we were at the cabin. It was gorgeous.

OK then. I have learned to enjoy Thanksgiving even in circumstances that are very difficult for me. It was wonderful to see my siblings, all of whom I love, and fantastic to spend time with Hannah's branch of the family.

... and ...

It is so good to be home! I even smiled at the Pentagon from the plane as we made our final approach. The big lunk. Awww. DC is home. There is no place like it.

I don't like traveling but it is good for me. It's very good to connect with my family. It's great to be home, it was great to be there. Onwards to solstice.


A blurry picture of my niece Emily and her husband Brayce. Magnificent humans!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Feasting, toasting, brawling, boasting

Today is my last free day before Tuesday when I'll put myself through the humiliation of airport security, get on a big plane, then a small plane, and at last find myself standing on the Oregon landscape, greeting my siblings - all of them this year! - their spouses, my niece, nephew-in-law, and their two kids, plus the three dogs, of course. My sister has rented a "party van" so we'll only have to take two vehicles up the mountain to the cabin where we celebrated Thanksgiving last year.

We have two cabins this year, within walking distance of each other. This should help everything since as I remember from the last time we all gathered, my family generates a lot of collective energy. Sometimes there is hilarity, sometimes head bashing, sometimes both at the same time. It will be nice to have a way to escape the intensity, if needed.

The last time I saw all my siblings was at my nephew's wedding. It was a really fun weekend seven years ago. Last night I was thinking this is our first gathering as old people. Last time we were definitely middle aged.

Time whips by so fast. Nothing illustrates it as clearly as gathering with people you've known all your life. Just like everyone who has ever lived, I don't feel as old as I am. I like the way I look these days better than I ever have even though I am quite a ways past juicy, slender or pretty. I feel like at last I look like myself. I definitely look like a woman in early old age, a baby crone. So do my sisters. They look great, but you can definitely see the passage of time in their faces, too.

Life is short, yes it is. This is the prevailing thought form as I gather my wits prior to this journey.

Ah the holidays! I'm proud, also relieved, that I've learned how to actually celebrate them, rather than hiding in my room all resentful and bitter like I used to. For heaven's sake.

I greatly look forward to seeing my family, and to the beautiful air, the gorgeous views and the stars up on the mountain.

Feasting, toasting, brawling, boasting - this is what happens when my family gathers. The holiday season is here. Bring it on!

The trees at Crescent Lake, Oregon, taken last year. We'll be in the same place this year. I can smell the air already.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Late Fall early Winter Mashup

Not again in this flesh will I see the old trees stand here as they did, weighty creatures made of light, delight of their making straight in them and well, whatever blight our blindness was or made, however thought or act might fail.

The burden of absence grows, and I pay daily the grief I owe to love for women and men, days and trees I will not know again. Pray for the world’s light thus borne away. Pray for the little songs that wake and move.

For comfort as these lights depart, recall again the angels of the thicket, columbine aerial in the whelming tangle, song drifting down, light rain, day returning in song, the lordly Art piecing out its humble way.

Though blindness may yet detonate in light, ruining all, after all the years, great right subsumed finally in paltry wrong, what do we know? Still the Presence that we come into with song is here, shaping the seasons of His wild will. 

~~Wendell Berry 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The end of the haunting.

I heard live music last night - bluegrass. Fun.

Yesterday at last I broke free of the haunting.

Oh yeah. I've been haunted by my ancestors, especially in the last few weeks. I knew it on some level, that I - and even my friends - were channeling something not quite right. And there were the mystical experiences. I kind of got it, but still, until I put away the ancestral pictures yesterday, I didn't have the right words to describe what I've been doing. After I cleaned up the ancestor altar and put the pictures in a drawer, the mist cleared. I've been haunted. Good lord.

It isn't the first time I've been haunted. During my years with the Civil War soldiers, I was haunted then, too. Oh my. With the dead soldiers, as with the dead ancestors, I wished desperately to send healing back to them. I wanted to help, but what happened was I got sucked into the energy, not intentionally, even with the Civil War guys. I was pretty ambitious back then. Also much more grandiose than I am now. Let's see - the Holocaust vs. Reya - who will prevail? The Civil War vs. Reya?  It was like Bambi Meets Godzilla. I had to try, but for heaven's sake. I got in over my head.

Well, I'm not the first, nor will I be the last person to experience a haunting. I believe on some level, the people who are passionately devoted to battle reenactments are haunted by the same ghosts I kept company with during the early 2000s. Same goes for Hasidic communities; I mean, they're haunted by the Holocaust dead. Some are more intensely haunted than others of course. The books of remembrance about old shtetl culture mention hauntings all the time.

I always tell students that it's not healthy to hang out too much with the Dead. A little convo here and there is great for us, inspiring and a little scary, an awakening to the preciousness of life - or it can be - but, too much time spent with the Dead is draining. Look at anyone who hangs out with the Dead all the time, including funeral people of course, but also those who work in morgues, cemeteries, forensic doctors, that sort of thing. They may be the nicest people you ever met, lively, too, but there is a gray gloom around all of them. There is.

Of course it is the destiny of some people to care for the Dead. Somebody has to do it. I'm grateful, though I sometimes feel sad when I notice the impact of over exposure.

In fact for the last few weeks I've had that gray gloom all around me. I noticed I haven't been taking many selfies. I look off in these pictures, not quite myself. Well. I have not been. I haven't felt well, it's no wonder I haven't looked so good.

It's over now, though. As soon as I put the ancestral photos away (with love and respect) - that was yesterday - I felt better, more energetic, cheerful, curious and not so damn worried. What a relief! Whew.

Farewell, fine gazing globe.

It's cold in DC today, very windy. In fact the wind blew hard enough to knock my green gazing globe off its stand. It shattered into a million pieces, a great lesson in impermanence. It wasn't cheap and you would think I would be mad or sad that it broke, but I felt not a second of sadness. I've had one foot in the next world for a few weeks. I've been halfway through the looking glass. The gazing globe falling and breaking is, to me, a signal that I'm back on the right side of the mirror. The portal to the wormhole of history is closed.

L'chaim, y'all. Carpe diem. Be here now. Shalom.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Origami Lifestyle

Life doesn't feel like a path or a road to me, well or not so well traveled. That image does not ring true in the Reyaverse. This existence seems nonlinear except in the realm of time. The shape and idea of walking labyrinths comes closer to describing what I've experienced in my 61 years as a part of the biosphere of the earth.

I just read an inspiring article about tidying as a dialogue with oneself. Here's a link to the article. Marie Condo is a superstar decluttering specialist in Japan. I love the way she thinks! Well worth a read.

One thing they mentioned in the article is the importance of folding in Japanese culture. It made me think about how, at least in the Reyaverse, life is an unfolding, refolding, and unfolding again. Sometimes the unfoldings lead to a dead end. At that point, we fold and fold some more. When we unfold again we're likely to find something completely different.

I'm reading an amazing book, They Called Me Mayer July, written by a man who grew up in a Polish shtletl, but moved to Canada in 1935. When he was 70, his daughters encouraged him to write about life in the shtetl. He taught himself to paint. His paintings are incredible. And the stories are fabulous. They remind me of the Yizkor memory book stories, gossipy and quirky. There is no sadness in the Mayer July stories, unlike the Yizkor books. He got out before the firestorm. He lived a completely different life than the people who stayed in Poland. It's a joyful book. Healing. I love it! I've also been listening to a lot of Chopin. It's a Polish theme unfolding at the chateau these days.

Fall is gorgeous in DC always, including this year. We've had great, perfect, Colorado weather. The leaves are slowly turning. Fall in DC is luxurious. I've been, you know, walking around, taking pictures, meeting friends for dinner, also working quite a bit, a great thing.

All of it is great. I was such a cynic when I was younger. These days I wake up grateful every day. Life is a precious unfolding and refolding. L'chaim!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Extreme 2014

Towards the end of the blood moon.

I remember on New Year's Day, wishing for a gentle year. That's all I wanted. Was it so much to ask?

2014 is not over yet, of course. Maybe the last quarter of the year will be gentle. May it be so? (she asked meekly)

I'm not complaining. 2014 has been a spectacular year in many ways. I went to Paris! I had a soul retrieval at the Eiffel Tower! I've had Mystical Experiences, Epiphanies, Revelations and Insights. And also I've made for myself a lot of seriously mundane space during which nothing that happened deserves to be capitalized.

So far, this has been a year of extremes. I like to delve deep into meaning, I like to spend time in contemplation. During years like 2014, there isn't time for all that before the next Big Thing occurs. The year has been like an intensive, an immersion course.

This year I've addressed a number of very deep, very old wounds. I didn't set out to do so, believe me! At age 61 my strategy is to let sleeping dogs lie as far as deep personal healing is concerned. I worked at it for decades before I realized I will never be able to address every one of my quirks, neuroses and wounds. For heaven's sake. I did what I could, which I believe is enough. Ten years on the couch, three decades of holistic healing ... I think I've fulfilled my lifetime quota of personal healing, don't you? I am content to leave well enough alone for the duration.

Ya know?

But the healing has come to me. Paris was one of the most healing experiences of my life. It was so uncomfortable! Likewise the High Holy Days just past. My goodness.

What happened the other day is that midday I suddenly had to lie down on the couch. I felt slightly dizzy - very unusual for me. In a slight doze, I sensed the spirit of my father apologizing to me. I accepted. It was deeply moving. Then suddenly I was wide awake, getting ready for clients. Whatever it was that happened, that I translated as the spirit of my father apologizing, was deeply healing. It went to the core of one big, ugly old scar.

After this Amazing Experience, I returned immediately to the completely mundane. Made an apple pie - really good - did all the laundry, paid a bill, put money in the bank. I'm working hard from now through the weekend, always a great thing. I love my work for so many reasons.

The teeter-totter of 2014 requires the extremes of mystical and mundane. All my years of practice are coming in handy this year. I am grateful.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Golden Years

In almost every way, I love being in my sixties. There's something wrong with every stage of life, but there are also unique gifts that accompany every personal era. The particulars change over the course of a human life, but it's always complicated, it surely is. I feel lucky that I've survived long enough to know this. It truly is a gift.

Of course, being in my sixties is daunting, as it is for everyone. Instead of planning ahead to the next big life project, it's time to begin winding things down. I'm not the first, nor will I be the last, struggling to figure out how to hold that truth comfortably. It's alarming.

That truth, though, helps me remember how precious life is. The Buddhists are 100% right on about that. People say let go, enjoy life, don't sweat the small stuff, etc. But to someone in their 30s, life IS the small stuff. Younger people should bump heads and strive and push hard and try to find their own private holy grail. In youth, one must sweat the small stuff. It builds character and is what forges the myths that accompany every life. It's so unfair to admonish the young about it. How can they hold the big picture? They're so busy with work and children and projects and adventures. For heaven's sake.

However, at sixty, we really can begin to let go. We no longer have to sweat the small stuff. At sixty, it's all about the big picture, it's only about the big picture. It is such a relief!

I've been thinking about the adage that says, at the end of life, people wish they had said YES more often than NO. I wish I'd said yes to many more possibilities, such as living in Paris for awhile during the 1970s, for instance. But there were plenty of fateful intersections where I said YES, when I wish I had said NO. I wish I had said no to my ex husband's proposal of marriage. My sister knew the correct response. She told me straight out not to marry him. But did I listen? Of course not! It's all water under the bridge now.

Still interesting to think about.

It's a beautiful fall day in Washington DC. I have the day off work and I am fully back to what passes for normal for me. I'm going to get out there. L'chaim, y'all.

See the moon?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Day of Atonement

It's an interesting paradox, being a mystic in Washington DC in the 21st century. Mysticism like mine is common throughout history, but in general we Washingtonians wish to address the world in more concrete terms. I'm a bit of a freak here. If I lived in Boulder or Savannah or Taos or any number of other places, my shamanic shenanigans would be seen as perfectly normal. I could go off the deep end as I did in San Francisco, another place where there's a niche for mystics.

But I'm here, which is a good thing. I really don't want to go off the deep end. I want to function in my culture. I like what my sister says about her own formidable mysticism. She wants it to be interesting, but not too interesting. I love that!

Sometimes the mystical experiences are few and far between, sometimes they come one after another. Like anything else, mysticism has a rhythm. It must be clear to anyone who has been visiting this page, this season has been a whopper for me.

Unlike the days of old, when my tendency was to tilt head first into the mystic, right now what I want more than anything is to lean away from all that. It's awesome and interesting, also a little scary, and too mysticism can quickly become a pathology as it has for many mystics throughout history. You have to walk the line.

I'm hoping that what happened to me Saturday and Sunday is the final episode in the High Holy Day experiences, the coup de grace. Maybe it be so!

I was sick Saturday morning, all of a sudden, out of the nowhere, really sick. I had multiple symptoms that would not be that interesting to mention. It was like a body-wide attack of everything. Meanwhile outside it was not only grey and rainy, but dark. The overcast was thick and pervasive. I spent 24 hours doing nothing but sleeping, drinking water and taking herbs, and - should admit - suffering.

There are so many ways I could look at this episode. The surface layer has to do most likely with a virus or bacterium, or in Chinese medicine, a pretty massive imbalance. OK. But there was more to it than that. Please don't ask me to explain how I know that.

Saturday into Sunday was my Day of Atonement. I did everything Jews are supposed to do on Yom Kippur: I prayed, shivered, felt awe and fear. I even fasted! That is so crazy, even I am amazed, and it happened to me.

Another story that could be told about what happened is that I took a journey to the underworld and battled a demon. My symptoms and especially the way most of them have, at this point, cleared up without medical intervention, describes a classic shamanic experience. Of course I don't want to be the kind of shaman who goes to the underworld and fights demons - who would want that, I mean really? Most of the time I am a diplomat shaman who acts as intermediary between the seen and unseen. I don't take it on, I try instead to open channels of connection to bring healing and wholeness.

This morning I was thinking about the lives of the saints - many of them developed horrible illnesses and suffered terribly, but then they died. I have prevailed, hence I am not saint material.

I knew that already!

I hope this most recent experience is the final chapter in this series of experiences. I have much to integrate. I'm weak from it all. Because I'm superstitious, I believe things happen in threes. I had the visitation from my father, the experience at the Holocaust Museum, and now this.

Hear ye, hear ye, oh great mysterious ones: I need time to recuperate and integrate. No more mystical experiences for awhile, ok? Please? I am flesh and blood and I wish to be sane. Thank you. Shalom.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I'm back

A big ole mystical experience such as I had last Thursday is somewhat like any other bender. It's an overload of something blissful and inspiring, something that humans only need a drop of from day to day. Rumi was correct: the life of the spirit is like wine. A glass of wine is great, but a whole bottle? Well. It happens sometimes, but takes awhile to get over.

Friday I worked all day, hence felt steady, but there was no doubt that the experience at the Holocaust Museum had impact. Everything seemed a little surreal all day. Saturday was the real Yom Kippur. I had the day off work and planned to attend services at the Hill Havurah. I know and adore many in that community, as well as Laurie, the community leader. When Saturday morning came around, though, my body would not take me to the services. It was very clear and as I always say, the body never lies. OK then. I took a nice walk, gazed at late season roses in the Botanic Garden. I also ran into some of my nearests and dearests at Eastern Market. We sat down and had good, lengthy visits, it wasn't just hello and goodbye. Fabulous.

OK then - not with the community I expected, but with community none-the-less. It was a day of extra divine light but not in the form I would have thought. So what else is new? I am a devout misfit, I surely am.

When I woke up Sunday I felt Perfectly Normal. It was a great feeling, something I hadn't tasted since before my father's visitation. The High Holy Days packed a wallop, I tell you. The feeling of mundane reality is always reassuring, especially to the animal of me. I was grateful, did good work on clients.

Monday was the numinous experience hangover. I've had worse energy hangovers but it wasn't pleasant. I had a slight headache centered around my third eye, felt queasy, and oy was I cranky! Just like a liquor hangover, the spiritual hangover surely is.

My energy has returned to normal. I am so relieved. Even the full moon, total eclipse, grand trine in fire situation overhead is not rocking my boat. I'm thinking today that all the practice I've had lately embracing the mundane has helped me form a more stable foundation. It's with happiness that I return to my pattern of walking, taking pictures, cooking, cleaning, seeing clients, listening to music, doing laundry and such.

Autumn is here and I am happy. Shalom.

by Li Po

From a pot of wine among the flowers
I drank alone. There was no one with me --
Till, raising my cup, I asked the bright moon
To bring me my shadow and make us three.
Alas, the moon was unable to drink
And my shadow tagged me vacantly.
But still, for awhile, I had these friends
To cheer me through the end of spring.
I sang. The moon encouraged me.
I danced. My shadow tumbled after.
As long as I knew, we were born companions.
And then I was drunk, and we lost one another.
...Shall good will ever be secure?
I watch the long road of the river of stars.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Holy Days

The Schtetl room at the Holocaust Museum.

When the idea came to me today to go to the Holocaust Museum, I didn't immediately get on board with it. I was involved in a convo with the Holy Grail, my beloved Abbott Suger's chalice, when the lightbulb above my head lit up. I was thinking about the conclusion of the Days of Awe, wondering how best to wrap up the powerful healing work of this year's holiday.

A trip to the Holocaust Museum is always a bit daunting, naturally, but after all the contact I've had with the ancestors this year, it made sense. First there was a dinner with old friends who suddenly began channeling my ancestors, complaining about the small portions they serve in restaurants. Believe me this is completely uncharacteristic of these guys who worry about every calorie and won't go to buffets because they're appalled by all the food. After that was the way too palpable visit from my father. A couple of days later, I was out at dinner with a friend when a waiter - not even our waiter - felt compelled to stop by the table and immediately begin laying out his family's Holocaust history. It was bizarre. I have no idea why he felt he should tell us everything, even the tattoo number of his grandfather. I'm sure he didn't see my tattoo. Even weirder - he was French. Crazy.

Throughout the High Holy Days, Holocaust related synchronicities have arisen every day. It has been off the charts, I tell you. The above: just a few examples.

I checked with my spirit guides before setting out for the museum.

Me: The Holocaust Museum - bad idea? 
Spirit Guides: If you're doing this to get rid of your ancestors, forget it. But if you want to pay your respects and strengthen your healing skills, especially for trauma, then by all means, go. 
Me: (secretly disappointed it wouldn't help me convince my ancestors to move along) Hmmm. OK.

In fact I had been hoping the ancestors would go away. They are cranky and relentless. I keep wondering what I should do for them. How can I help? It's bewildering.

Instead of marching straight over, I asked for signs. I wanted auguries. I wanted a confirmation or two or three. First I saw two park police on horses. We had a nice chat. Oh those magnificent animals. I felt this was a sign pointing to GO. Then I ran into one of the people who regularly hangs out at the table of good vibes at the coffee shop. I never see those people anywhere except on the Hill, but I did today right in front of the Smithsonian Castle. Another auspicious sign. I looked up, hoping for one more sign. At that very moment, Brother Sun came out from behind the clouds just enough to be visible but not blinding. Crepuscular rays streamed out from the clouds surrounding the sun, just like God in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Park Police horses. That's Delilah on the right, Big Mack on the left.

Brother Sun

OK. I went to the museum. I did not linger in the first part of the exhibit, the rise of Nazism. It was congested in there, even thought there are not many tourists in town. I went straight to the Auschwitz bunk, stopping only in the Shtetl room so I could gaze at all those beautiful portraits. You're not supposed to take pictures but I took just one, of that beautiful room.

Once inside the Auschwitz bunk, I closed my eyes to see if I could learn something I don't already know. In my mind's eye I saw Durga floating down into the room, on a horse I thought, instead of a lion. I heard the clanking of her weapons as she spread her many arms. The demon of fear sprinted around the bunk, trying to elude her. It even tried to scare her. The look on her face was calm and beneficent as she slit its throat. Then the room filled with a milky white light and I "heard" the 21 Taras speaking in harmonious, sing-song unison about the long life of the spirit. It was spooky and ethereal. When the mist faded, I sensed Kuan Yin saying, "Let go, let go, it's almost all over now, let go." It was a kind, melodic voice, like Laurie Anderson's.

I have no idea how long I stood there. A minute? An hour? I can not tell you.  I left immediately afterwards. I was done.

Unlike the visitation from my father, todays Extremely Powerful Mystical Experience felt gentle, even though it happened inside the Auschwitz bunk at the Holocaust Museum. How could I have ever imagined that? You can't make up this stuff.

Here's a funny thing. As I walked to the museum, I kept thinking, My God I am so Jewish! But once I had the vision, of goddesses and a bohisattva, I had to laugh. Nothing could be further from Judaism than to commune with goddesses. I find it very funny, I do.

What a crazy High Holy Days this is for me. Crazy with wonder and power.

I have the day off on Saturday, Yom Kippur. I may attend the Hill Havurah services, at least for awhile. Or maybe I'll do something else. When the first star appears Saturday night, in spite of the wonder of this year's holiday, I will feel relief. There is only so much awe I can bear in a 10 day period. Sheesh.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Perhaps due to my contrarian nature, I detest shopping. I don't even like internet shopping - I know - I'm a freak. One of the worst things about shopping is that I end up with more stuff which means I have to figure out where to put said stuff. I live in three rooms and though there is abundant closet space here, I prefer not to jam the storage space, from stem to stern, with so much stuff that I don't know what I have. It's bad feng shui.

Of course there are corners of my closets where a bunch of junk is stuffed in. I am a human after all.

One of my favorite things is getting rid of stuff. I find it liberating, exhilarating. When my head or heart is in a tangle, one of the most therapeutic activities, for me, is housework that includes at least a little culling.

Every year I look for a theme that runs through the work of the High Holy Days. One part of this year's theme has to do with a gentle culling. For instance, I unfriended a couple of people on FB who post dreadful hateful posts and leave completely inappropriate comments on my posts. I didn't know either of them - friends had recommended we connect over shared passions. But we didn't have enough in common to function as FB friends.

Unfriend. Unfriend. It felt so right.

After that I started going through my "Likes" list. Some of them I couldn't remember liking or cared nothing about.

Unlike. Unlike. Ahhhhh.

We're supposed to make amends during the Days of Awe, apologize for the mistakes we've made. Apology is a variety of culling, isn't it? It's an attempt to erase a hurtful moment, right? When I was younger, most years I felt it was necessary to offer lots and lots of apologies.

Either I've become a nicer person as I've gotten older or I am finally learning not to over-apologize at last. This year I made just one apology. (There is also such a thing as under-apologizing, of which I've been guilty at times.)

An apology has to be sincere. An apology must be offered without expectation that it will be accepted. Once offered, there is no need to repeat it. Repeated apologies lose their power; they flatten out and become insincere, manipulative. My spirit guides hate it when I do that.

Perhaps I forgive myself more easily these days, hence I no longer feel I must always apologize for everything. Who knows? A friend of mine said recently that those of us who didn't get the love and support we needed as children are easily shamed. True. But I may have grown out of that, or healed out of it. Interesting to think about.

There is so much wonder in getting older, there seriously is. We don't have to bang our heads against the wall anymore, or act out as much. It's an important part of early adulthood, all that head banging and bad behavior. It builds character, it is the stuff of being human. Inevitably, mistakes are made, after which apologies should be offered. After 60, we have enough character, thank you. At least I do. Or at least that is today's theory.

It's a lovely, rainy morning in Washington DC. The Days of Awe are winding down. It has been a really great holiday for me this year. I am content. Shalom.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


It was at witch camp one year when Norman had a mystical experience. He was one of the campers, a rational man, mostly. He had been out in the woods drumming with some other campers. After awhile people wandered off to go to sleep but Norman stayed on, under the stars. As he sat there, he heard drumming and chanting. Thinking some other group of drummers had formed, he followed the sound but was unable to find any other humans in the wood. The sound of drumming, he said, was loud and clear.

He became uneasy, looked up at the sky. He could not recognize the constellations. He ran back to camp and sat, wide awake, shivering, next to the teachers' cabin, for the remainder of the night. I saw him from the window early in the morning, went to find out what was wrong. He told me his story and then said, "When the other campers find out, there will be panic." You can see why he would think that. But the thing is, mystical experience tends to be individual. I told him it was unlikely anyone else heard the drumming. Those who had experienced the mystic would know and understand, those who hadn't would think his story was the product of his imagination. In either event, the only person who was panicked was Norman. Poor Norman.

I think that's the last year he came to camp.

I mention this because I had one of the most potent mystical experiences of my life yesterday. Believe me I have had many contacts with the unexplainable. I'm a mystic - that's what we do. I'm not the first, nor will I be the last, to have this kind of experience, by the way. I scan for the mystic, since this is my calling. Likewise, I have spent most of my life studying the art of sensing subtle energies. When people tell me about their numinous moments, I sometimes say, Welcome to my life. Or sometimes I say, You can't make up this stuff.

It happens to me often enough that it takes a whopper to throw me into a fit of the shivers, like Norman, under the tree, in front of the teachers' cabin. Yesterday I had the same kind of shivers. I alerted my women's group, aka my sisters, asked for grounding energy. Energy arrived almost instantly that brought me back to myself. One of my sisters "saw" aspens in her mind's eye, and the thought came to her that we are connected through the roots. The perfect thing to say to me while I was quaking in my damn boots.

As for the content of the experience, it sounds as flat as Norman's story when I put it into words. I was with a Reiki student, we were sending long distance Reiki backwards in time to our fathers. At one point, I felt his presence in the room. It was unlike anything I've experienced previously with ghosts or spirits or other ancestors. He was there, flesh and blood. Some other hair raising stuff happened, too.

I sensed my father's presence. It sounds like nothing unless you've had a similar moment. If you have, you know how powerful it is, if you don't, you might be thinking, Oh that Reya. She is a few chips short of a fish dinner. 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dancing through the Days of Awe

Happy autumn, happy new moon, happy Jewish New Year. Wait, the High Holy Days are not meant to be happy. The days of Awe are supposed to be serious, contemplative. Though there will be feasts this evening, (including here at the chateau) and the blowing of the shofar - which is pretty fun because it's so weird sounding - after that the holiday settles into a rather excruciating intensity for those who participate. Many Jews forget all about the days between Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur. There is probably wisdom in that.

I love the High Holy Days - of course. One of my favorite pastimes is contemplation. Intensity is my normal. I like taking my time. A ten day holiday is perfect for me - there's plenty of time to delve deeply into it. So hey what is not to love?

I've been engaged for the last 24 hours in some new year's eve contemplation, looking back over the last year, thinking about what I've learned, the mistakes I made, and such. It was a very dynamic year!

One of the most useful things I learned is that sometimes, during certain eras of life, it's best not to push too ambitiously to accomplish everything. Timing is everything when it comes to achieving goals. This past year was not in any way horrible or boring - just the opposite. As for accomplishing great things, it was a total fizzle.

What I learned is: that's OK! Every year does not have to be stellar. So be it.

Since I lowered my level of ambition, I've been sailing smoothly along through the days and nights. After a winter and spring in which I aimed high and failed repeatedly, I changed my strategy to great effect. Summer was lovely. I spent my time doing all the mundane things I enjoy most: walking, looking at art, taking pictures, spending time with friends, cooking, cleaning, working on clients. I didn't travel, I didn't get out of DC in August, something I usually think of as Absolutely Necessary.

It was fine! The weather was so nice and the city was so quiet. Sweet.

One thing you're supposed to do during the High Holy Days is make amends. The one big apology I owed has already been extended. I'm pondering whether I should apologize again. It's possible one sincere apology is enough. My spirit guides hate it when I over-apologize. I look forward to meditating on it.

Hear ye hear ye! The book of life is open for perusal between sunset tonight and Yom Kippur. I will leaf through the pages, as I always do, and happily say goodbye when the year ends on Yom Kippur. Though you could hardly call me an observant Jew, I do resonate with the rhythms of the religion. I can dance with those rhythms.