Friday, August 29, 2014

I nominated George Washington for the ice bucket challenge

Yesterday I remembered all of a sudden that back in the early 2000s, after 9/11 ... maybe 2003 or 2004? ... I offered the ice bucket challenge to George Washington. Yes, I did. It had nothing to do with ALS.

We were in the Iraqi/Afghanistani wars by then. I was still doing a lot of magic, especially at that time with the geometrical layout of DC. I was reading voraciously about our founding fathers, and the Masons.

I invoked the wisdom of the founding fathers all the time back then. Seems funny to remember since the founding fathers were a bunch of cantankerous, argumentative trouble makers. They had high ideals and were all, each in his own way, intractable. Why in the world was I invoking that? Now I can't remember - I think it came from a feeling of desperation.

During that period I spent a lot of time at the Lincoln Memorial, also the Washington Monument. I went down to Mount Vernon a number of times, stood at the new tomb to see if I could have a conversation with George. I never connected with the new tomb where he and Martha's bones are laid to rest. I was drawn, time and again, to the old tomb.

Washington's old tomb.

Attempts to have a conversation were fruitless. I sensed a presence but was unable to forge a connection back through time to it. In my mind, George and Martha were sleeping a little too peacefully. One day I climbed on top of the tomb, where I stood up and poured a liter of ice cold water from an Evian bottle on the top of the tomb. I held the bottle high so the water splashed and crashed. There were a few ice cubes too that hit the ground on top of the tomb with a thud. I was not asked to leave, which is even more surprising when I remember I was chanting WAKE UP, WAKE UP, WAKE UP!!

After that I got off the roof of the tomb and listened. My sense was of grogginess, thick, uncoordinated lips that can not articulate. You know how your eyes burn when you have to get up in the middle of the night to catch a plane or something? It felt like that. What I believe he was trying to say was, "Go away. I gave my sword to Congress. I was done then and I'm done now."

Well, ok then.

After the total disaster of trying to wake up George Washington, I decided to have a go with Lincoln. At the monument I couldn't get anywhere near close enough to his enormous statue to spill ice water on him. Besides, I wanted the ice water on his head. I briefly considered using a squirt gun but then I remembered how he died. That was the end of that.

I was going to pour ice water over the head of Thomas Jefferson's bust in the gift shop/restroom area underneath the memorial but as I gazed at his face and remembered how complicated he was, I thought better of the wake up call. May he rest in peace.

It wasn't the last time I would involve myself with the sudden collision of human head and ice water. In fact this slapstick performance art piece is something I used to great advantage when I was emerging from the world of witchery.  The effect I was going for is similar to what happens in movies when someone is hysterical or in some kind of doze, fainting after an injury or from hearing bad news. In the old black and white movies, someone else gives the hysterical person a sharp slap across the face. They immediately snap out of it. Slapping myself in the face did not appeal. I remembered that sometimes, in movies, drinks are tossed in faces. It always has the same sobering, awakening impact.

While I was extricating myself from my witchiness, I needed the bracing effect of icy beverages in my face, apparently. I wanted to wake up, and lighten up. Indeed a drink tossed in one's own face is funny. It was also sometimes sticky, depending on what I was drinking when I got in a mood to douse myself. I worked hard to become a Muggle, I surely did. Never quite got all the way there, but I'm close enough for jazz these days.

I remembered this yesterday, at the Washington Monument. Now I understand exactly why I have been so enthused about the ice bucket challenge, also why I've been insistent it's about much more than ALS. That an enormous number of people have suddenly begun doing what I was up to all those years ago is rather thrilling.

When I did the bucket challenge last week, this was my prayer:

May we awaken
May cooler heads prevail in 
Gaza, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Iraq
May Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever subside
May we awaken
May I awaken

May the founding fathers rest in peace. Those of us still living? May we wake up! May it be so!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Get back to work, you.

Summertime and the livin' has been easy. So easy. What a summer. The weather has been great, my work schedule has been light, the streets have been empty. What a peaceful summer. I can't remember a summer this relaxed in a long, long time.

Of course all that will change after the big Labor Day weekend, coming right up. Every student who isn't already back at school will start in again, people will return from their holidays at the lakes, mountains, rivers and ocean beaches. Once the summer vacation stuff is back in the basement or attic, they will put on their suits and tilt into their work again.

When Congress goes back into session, I swear the ambient noise level across the entire city increases, as if there is a low-level static ongoing. It's like a huge underground turbine is switched on. I can feel the vibration and almost hear the low humdrum of the energy. My guess is I'm not the only one who can feel it.

I'm ready for the end of summer. Even a lovely, gentle summer, as this one has been, is not my favorite season. I have appreciated deeply the pleasures of this summer - and - I will bid it a fond farewell as soon as possible.

Some people live in the past. I live in the future. Onward and upwards.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Don't give up until you drink from the silver cup

At last, a fairly non blurry picture of Abbott Suger's chalice. Exciting. I've taken dozens of shots, with the "real" camera as well as the iPhone. At last I am becoming steady enough to focus on the cup itself, not the plastic box in which it is encased.

I love this thing! It is so old. And its history is colorful. Here's a link to an article about it. Time bestows magnificence, a good thing to remember as I grow old. You could make a copy of this, get it accurate to the last detail. You could recreate it with a 3-D printer. But it wouldn't feel the same.

The last time I was at the National Gallery, there were other people in the room where the chalice is displayed - an out of the way gallery that most of the hordes avoid. The girl in the photo below was as entranced with the holy grail as I am. We had one of those fabulous encounters in which we connected rather deeply for a few minutes, then parted company without the slightest desire or expectation we would ever see each other again. While we both looked at the cup, we oooo'd and ahhhhhh'd about its beauty, how old it is. Her family got bored and went into the next room, but she stayed. We kept smiling at each other in wonder.

I suggested she try to take a pic from above, because the stone cup itself is incredible. The way the museum has it displayed is great for seeing the light radiating from the cup, but you can't see inside from the top, unless you're a giant.

I've learned a lot while gazing at this cup. It came to me the last time I saw it that any cup can be the holy grail. It's not about the vessel. If you seek the holy grail, when you drink - even conceivably from a paper cup full of Starbuck's coffee - you may take a sip from the sacred chalice.

If you do not seek the grail, which by the way seems perfectly fine to me, you can drink your coffee and get on with your day. No problem!

I am a life long seeker of the grail. Just like in the story, I get distracted, side-tracked, lost. I surely do. Also there are many days when I really want only the most mundane experience of thirst quenching.

Some days I yearn for a sip of the holy - just a sip. Those who get drunk on divine energy never manage it well. When I need a sip these days, I become conscious of what's happening. I pick up my water glass or coffee mug or wine glass and take a delicious sip. I remember my interconnection with the biosphere of this beautiful planet, also with the mysteries that can not be explained or grasped while in this form.

Oh those sips from the holy grail. They are healing, quenching at a soul level. They lend perspective, bring calm, hope and peace to my heart, much needed right now with the world aflame, or so it seems if you listen to the news.

Last time I was at the National Gallery I imagined I could breathe love into Abbott Suger's chalice. It felt like my breath swirled into the cup and filled it, even overflowing a little bit, or so I imagined. My breath seemed full of stars. Please don't ask me to explain how I knew that.

Feeling calmish in the midst of madness in the world at the moment. This historical period feels just like the 60s. I'm finding ways to be with the energy without freaking out. I am grateful. Shalom.

Pyx in the form of a dove. Also French. In the room with the chalice.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Path of Least Resistance

It has been a very quiet time in the Reyaverse of late. Once I calmed myself down - or - was calmed down by the heart and the chalice, I've not had a lot to write about. No news is good news!

The smoothest parts of 2014 so far have been the moments when I didn't try to accomplish anything significant. I have been seeing clients, cooking, walking, taking pictures, spending time with people I adore, running into neighbors and trading news, sleeping pretty well and having lots of dreams. This is the good life.

Summer in DC has been unlike anything I've ever experienced in my many years here. There have been a few hot days - not too hot, though, a few bad air days - but not too toxic. Mostly there has been abundant rain and cool, not too humid weather. We have had a Lake Tahoe summer in Washington DC. Will wonders never cease?

A spectacular summer, now drawing to a close. That's OK, too. I love fall!

One thing that has been on my mind is relationship, specifically how hard it is for me to figure out who my people are. I attempted, unsuccessfully, to mesh my energy with local spiritual communities last spring. I tried the very inclusive St. Mark's church, also went to the Hill Havurah seder, and briefly joined a group that meets to talk about God. None of these was a good fit. In fact when I sent the notice to the God group saying I didn't think it was a good fit for me, they couldn't wait to say BYE BYE GOOD LUCK. I think it was a relief for these nice Christian people to be rid of me and my heathen, shamanic ways. It kind of hurt my feelings, to be honest, but it was the right decision.

For now the local community of spirit idea has been placed once again on the back burner. It's OK.

Recently I was invited to join a group of massage therapists for happy hour. Oh man I am so not a happy hour kind of person. I sent out an email to the list of about 2 dozen people, fishing to see if any of them would like to meet to discuss the soul of healing, technique, and to share stories, seek support and feedback. I love being part of working groups. One person replied.

Alright. Never mind!

Next weekend I'm taking this class, about connecting with others. I will receive CEU credits for it, also I'm curious. When the words "life coach" show up anywhere I am cautious. That field is such a pyramid scheme! But if this class can help me tune my community antennae, that would be great. As the Mother Superior in the treatment room, I know exactly how to connect. I also have a wealth of good friends here and elsewhere with whom I can interact successfully, one to one. It's the group relationship I struggle with. I look forward to the class.

I'm going to take a long walk today, check out the chalice at the National Gallery. I will take pictures and seek refreshment. Tonight I'll cook a nice dinner and watch a movie.

The world is aflame but my personal life is smooth as silk. It's disconcerting and I am grateful!


Thursday, August 7, 2014

In my cups

When the sheets come out of the dryer, I fold them and stack them in the closet.
There are no heart shaped items in the closet. Oh I love small miracles like this.

Beauty is curative. I took in a lot of beauty yesterday. Subsequently, I am much calmer. Thank you, God.

The pic above is of a sheet I put on the treatment table. I saw the heart, inadvertently folded into the sheet, just before my client arrived. What an encouraging sign for my client, a woman who has been through hell and high water. It didn't hurt me to notice this small miracle, either, considering how worked up I've been.

Later, I walked down to the National Gallery to look in particular at a medieval chalice. Here's a description of the cup. It is splendid and brought cheer to my anxious heart and mind. I saw it the other day but at the very end of a long wander through the galleries. I can only take in so much beauty at a time. I'd been staring at landscape paintings for almost an hour; by the time I saw the cup, I was overfull of visions. I couldn't take it in at that moment, even though the words, You have found the holy grail ran through my mind as I glanced at it. One should not turn one's back on the holy grail! So, I went back.

It's beautiful. The cup is carved from stone, was made around 100 B.C., maybe in Alexandria, Egypt. You can see the light shining through the stone in the top picture. A french abbott in the 12th century had his goldsmiths fashion the setting for the cup. My, my ... it is powerful, beautiful, and healing - and so old!

I'm sad no one drinks from this cup anymore. It's just there, in a plastic box. I would love to have a sip of wine from this cup. I surely would!

Hearts and cups; they're the same thing in the tarot. I believe some angel swooped in yesterday morning, applied a balm to my anxious heart, left a trace of it on the sheet, whispered in my ear, too, encouraged me to go take a few visual sips of that beautiful cup.

On my way home I walked through the Summerhouse on the grounds of the Capitol. The structure and the running water within generate a tremendous amount of healing energy.

Yes I get anxious, I always have. It's part of me. But it passes. And often I am guided in the direction of healing by mysterious ones who have my best interests at heart. Yesterday was a healing day. I am grateful!

The Summerhouse

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gotta dance

I've been nervous this week, out of sorts, having bad dreams and spending my days worrying. No matter how many ways I try to tell myself that everything is fine, no matter. Still, I worry. I say to myself, you're ok, you're alright. I remind myself of the preciousness of life, I remember to be grateful for my great good fortune. I take deep breaths, soften my jaw, drop my shoulders. I do things, like cook and clean, walk, take pictures. I watch the clouds move through the impossibly blue sky in the midst of the nicest summer I have ever experienced in DC.

Still. I worry.

One thing I've realized only recently is that anxiety is not rational, therefore rational arguments against it can only serve to shame me for my emotional state. Like I need that, on top of the worry.

I've been chronically anxious all my life. Even as an infant, I was upset. The Sufi acupuncturist believes it's because my digestion is so dodgy - always was, of course. I had colic and cried all the time. I did not sleep. As a baby, I was a wreck. Some people are, it's not my fault. And so it has been ever since.

Over the decades I've amassed a huge cache of tools to help me calm down. Oh the breathing, oh the meditation. The stories I tell myself, the affirmations, prayers. I sage myself, ring my Tibetan singing bowl, give myself Reiki, send Reiki to others. I am aggressive about self care, receive massage, acupuncture. I connect with friends, feed them. Of course I self medicate with a martini, too, now and again.

All methods help at least temporarily most of the time. This past week, even my very favorite self soothing techniques have fallen flat.

The world feels as if it is aflame, a term I borrowed from David Remnick. Here's a link to his essay in the New Yorker about the happenings of this summer. Israel/Gaza, Ukraine/Russia, Ebola. Beautifully written. Scary!

Right now the fabric of the world of people feels like cheap polyester too close to a burning candle.

There are definitely things to be worried about right now. Good lord. And yet here I sit in Washington DC in the midst of a beautiful summer, surrounded by the serene emptiness of downtown DC in August, among friends, clients, neighbors. I'm eating good food and laughing and walking. I'm taking some really good pictures.

Maybe it's the paradox of the world aflame juxtaposed with my own little bubble of tra-la that's got me so anxious, who knows?

I believe that persevering through times of angst is strengthening. I will prevail is one of my favorite self soothing stories.

Yes, I know there are pills that would alter my brain chemistry and make me feel like I'm not really anxious. If I were depressed, not functioning, I might actually follow that line of inquiry. But I am functioning, doing good work in the treatment room, sleeping well, eating well, connecting with others, cooking.

I don't need drugs. Maybe what I need is patience.

I've spent much of my adult life practicing the art of intuition. I have sharpened my ability to sense the subtle energies much as a wine aficionado learns to taste the most subtle flavors, or the way musicians learn to differentiate the most subtle shifts in tone, rhythm, key.  The way a musician cringes at a bad note, I cringe at the energy of this crazy moment in history.

The astrology of the past few months - well, years, really - has been ridiculous, motivating personal and collective reinvention. The social fabric of my society has been shaken hard. In particular, the geometry of the stars and planets has been really hard core since the day I left for Paris. I did not plan for that, I assure you!

I dance with the subtle energies, I surely do. It's my soul's calling. Lately, the dance feels like a scene from a mobster movie when the bad guys shoot at the feet of someone. The someone has to jump around to avoid being shot.

Serenity prayer. Breathe. Get about the business of the day, Reya. OK. This, too, shall pass.