31 July 2007

Hanging out in Koedijk this week after being in the east of Holland participating in a sweat lodge, witnessing a very fun and lovely handfasting ceremony on Friday, and a few days of camping. This is the final stretch of relax time before Loreley Camp. Then back to the states.

I have this feeling of coming to the end of a journey...and preparing for the start of another. NYC, VT, then head west. So far there are two possible workshops...Denver and Edmonton. I hope those happen...that'd be a lot of fun. Pick up Chloe the cat in Montana, see friends there, and then head to...Seattle? Bend? Portland? I'd like to go through all those places on my way to California...we'll have to see what works out in terms of money and gas.

Part of the plan is to sell the camper...if anyone reading this is interested, or knows someone who might be, please let me know. I am keeping the truck, just selling the camper. It slides into the back of a pickup truck. It has some wear and tear, but is in great shape generally. Everything works, and it's been a lot of fun. In addition to the two burner stove, mini-sink and 3-way refrigerator (LP gas, 12v, AC) it has a solar panel and invertor and 4 marine batteries, so if you are in a sunny place you have some electricity. Here are a few photos. It's a Palomino, was new in 2001 I believe. I can deliver, depending on location. I'd like to sell it ASAP...last week of August, or early September. Make me an offer! I am looking for something in the vicinity of $2000, but will accept the best offer I get.

The sun is shining...I'm going out to sit in the garden.

22 July 2007

What is culture? How does it affect us? How much of what we value and believe comes from culture "whispering in our ears"? How much of what culture tells us ends up being the impetus for conflict? And to what extent and in what forms do humans need conflict as part of our inspiration and motivation? I've spent some time with a friend whose conversation is always fascinating. I came away with some thoughts.

I've been working on this concept of peace, of disparate peoples finding peaceful ways to co-exist, and questioning how this can be possible. I was taught to value life, to see violence as wrong, to see killing as wrong. But what does it say about our spiritual beliefs about life and death if we avoid death? Or maybe we are avoiding cruelty but not death. Certainly in the west there is much fear of and denial of death, even in societies where the dominant religions promise paradise, or heaven, or some such afterlife.

I know this is a bit of a mishmosh, but bear with me.

I was impacted by a news story I read about a family in Iraq that had pimped out their 9 year old boy so they would have money for food, and then the boy was executed by enforcers of sharia law. I was horrified. When I discussed this with the aforementioned friend her response was "That's a mercy killing." I really had to think about that. I said "I don't think it was intended as that" but she said that it was a mercy killing anyhow, just think about that boy's life.

Whether I agree or not isn't the point. The point is that what culture whispers in my ear is different than what culture is saying to the people who killed that boy.

If you are raised to see this life as just part of existance, then what's the problem with this part coming to an end? How many people joke about sending a mosquito on her karmic way when we slap them? Is it true for humans as well?

One of the benefits of traveling is that I do get to see how culture is imprinted within me, and how different culture imprints the people in the places where I go. This awareness is coming upon me in some new way, because I have this sense of culture as an overlay that we are all subject to, and which directs and guides our lives far more than we are generally aware of.

The values I hold, of kindness, non-violence, peacemaking, honoring life; I like these values. They feel good to me. They allow me to see myself as a "good" person in the world, someone who avoids causing suffering. They allow me to see the world as a place where it is possible for kindness and love and pleasure and community to thrive. But what if culture is really a discrete set of beliefs that has no bearing on any kind of objective "truth" or "reality"? Furthermore, even if our values are the product of culture, that does not necessarily invalidate them or make them less congruent with who I (or anybody) is as an entity, a self.

My thoughts on all this are far from organized, I feel like I just had a veil removed and am taking in the different view.

Different topic...or is it?

I just learned that bush signed an executive order making it illegal to disagree with or question the administration's Iraq policy. Here's an article that describes in detail this latest turn of events.

16 July 2007

It's sunny and warm in Holland. It's even been hot and humid. What a relief after all the cold rainy weather!

I'm still very much in "take it easy" mode, hanging out with friends I am staying with, sleeping late. It's good. My back is improving daily. Yesterday I walked 4 km in the woods. It's really great!

My plans continue to crystallize. US in August, out west for the fall and winter, then head east and get to Crete to set up shop.

Part of the plan is to find a small property on Crete and build, with a friend, a couple of naturally built houses. To that end, I want to announce first here in this blog that in September 2008 we'll be hosting a natural building session for a few weeks to build some stuff. It would be great to have a team of 15 to 20 people working on these structures, learning together how to set up a low impact low cost high effiency permaculture homestead in a short time. All food and tenting space will be provided. So dear reader, if that lights something up inside you, consider coming. Let me know if you're interested and I'll be providing more details as we have them.

I obviously have internet access where I'm staying, and I've been indulging my media jones, and reading what's happening politically...wow. I guess what astounds me most is the high level and degree of corruption that is evident in pretty every government, multinational corporate dealings, and generally in the management infrastructure of our world, and that people stand for it. That's the part that gets me. It's not that the corruption exists...that's not surprising, people are corruptible, and in general the people drawn to those power positions are less developed empathically and, I think, spiritually, so they of course succumb to corruption. It's that the general population allows it to continue that's so mind boggling.

Of course it's true that a lot of people are doing amazing things that buck the status quo. I don't want to underemphasize that. One really amazing thing is a project I just heard about rosesforchildren.com

I'll be driving east to west across the US in September, and I'd love to offer workshops to any communities along the way that are interested, preferably with a local co-teacher. I haven't mapped out my route, but I am headed from Vermont to Montana so the deep south is probably not where I'll be.

Workshops include Iron Pentacle, Pentacle of Pearl, Three Faces of Betrayal, Guerilla Healing, Pentacle of Air, Advanced Energy & Bodywork, Concensus, Magical Activism, and if you need something else I would be happy to develop a new workshop.

12 July 2007

Sadness and anger. Lodged in my lower back. Sending fire down my left leg, into my foot. Fire and ice, at the same time. Yesterday two friends lovingly challenged me to feel what's in my back causing me pain, calling for my attention.

The time I spent in Germany was powerful for me. That's also where this particular spinal incident started. All the feelings I have about Germany, growing up as an ethnic jew in the US, being a political person and a peacemaker, learning about the genocides that have taken place and are taking place around the world...all sitting in my lower back.

When I came back to Holland a few weeks ago and blogged about some of my feelings re: Germany, I ended up apologizing (that's how it felt) all over the place, in my blog, to my German friends who were offended by my stating some of my feelings. Really I just wanted them to get it that my feelings about Germany had nothing to do with them or how they cared for me when I was with them. I responded to something archetypal as well as personal. A friend just sent me a book called The Well of Remembrance by Ralph Metzner. I'm looking forward to reading it.

My feelings are still there. Sadness and anger; a deep well of sadness for all the suffering felt by so many, inflicted by so many, through time and all around this beautiful Earth, and teeth-gnashing rage at how mean people can be. I feel these things when I think about Jews and Gypsies and Queers and Catholics and Africans and disabled people and Native Americans (the list goes on) and the nazis, and the kkk, and all the haters. I feel sadness and anger when I think about Palestinians having their houses bulldozed, their ancestral olive grove destroyed. I feel these things when a car bomb goes off in Britain, when a suicide bomber blows up themself and others at a Tel Aviv café, when skinheads beat up a Jew or a Gay person, and this list also goes on. I feel these things when people I know hurt each other with lies, shortsightedness. It's all the same stuff to me...the ability of humans to be so blind that we don't even see the scope of what we're doing and how we're hurting each other.

Do I get to feel how I feel about any and all of this without apology? Do I need to go out of my way to make other people comfortable with what I feel?

In my efforts as a people pleaser, which is certainly part of my psychological profile, I can go out of my way to try to make sure everyone is happy with me, but that doesn't work. I need to go through the experience of feeling what I feel, letting it pass through me. I understand that, just like when I have reactions to stuff, people react to me and what I go through. I am a mirror for them, an opportunity to look at their issues, just as others serve as my mirror. Looking into the mirror of Germany I can see my own cruelty, my own denial, my own suffering, all of which is (in my world view) universal, stuff we all have within us. One thing I have learned is that it is me being cruel to me if I deny my feelings and experiences. It's challenging to let myself have it knowing that there are people I love who may have a hard time with my expression.

So I sold my house, left my home, traveled, had all kinds of experiences, came to Europe, traveled some more, eventually going to Israel and then Germany, both places of significance within my own personal mythology. I felt what I felt in those places. I try to make sense of what I experience. Going to those two places and having my physical body respond is it did, I am left with a lot to interpret. Are my interpretations correct? Do they trigger other people? What do I need for my own healing, in relation to all this?

Yesterday two friends challenged me lovingly to be with what is in my back, to give attention to those feelings. I am doing that. I am not overwhelmed by what I feel, just aware that there is sadness and anger, and a strong desire for transformation of all this.

10 July 2007

It's raining. The sun is shining. I'm moving slow. Sleeping late, slowly doing some back exercises and stretches. I am in day 2 of this. I think it's helping. I will do this everyday and see what happens. My tendency is to just want to rest but it's not actually the best thing for this kind of lower back thing. I found a great website called spinehealth.com

I'm staying with friends in Den Dolder which is near Utrecht. I'll head back to Arnhem tomorrow, then on Friday teach Iron Pentacle as a one day workshop in Amsterdam, then more unscheduled time. It looks like I may actually make it to Crete for the first week of August, which is very exciting.

What am I learning right now...well there is the part about the body and limitations and motivation. I am definitely encountering that. There are the interesting questions and ponderings in conversations with friends. There is my own sense of uncertainty about what the future holds, but also excitement about that, and really...just flying from trapeze to trapeze. There continues to be the kindness and generosity of friends. That's the most prominent and consistent thread through this whole journey. Everywhere I go people have been really wonderful. Everyone's working on their own lives and having visions and following truths they perceive, and everywhere I have gone people have also made space for me, fed me, talked with me, shared life with me. I'm extremely fortunate, blessed, in the right place at the right time, however one wants to look at it.

Thinking about settling down again is really a trip. The plan is for me to actually go to Crete in March and get a room and start to make money and find a piece of land and build on it and make a home there. Before I get there, though, I have an autumn and a winter to experience, still not really settled in, so I am working on how to make those months as comfy and lucrative as I can.

But then to get a place on Crete and start a new daily life, and see what unfolds, that feels huge. I have been continuing to really feel how connected I am to Turtle Island, North America, where I've lived most of my years. It is so beautiful in so many places and ways, and there are tons of people I love there. And yet I am choosing to make a home elsewhere and travel to North America for periods of work and visiting.

I have learned that 6 months is too long for me to be on a teaching tour. 2 would be perfect. 4 is fine. 6 is a bit strenuous.

I think something I'm learning is about pacing myself, not trying to lift the too-heavy stone in a figurative sense, since I have already learned not to lift the literal stone. If I can live in a low key way, warm, good simple food, a pace that does not involve rushing, enough work to pay for simple overhead, then I can maintain a level of energy and productivity that feels good and nourishes me, rather than taxing and stressing me.

03 July 2007

A few days ago I taught a workshop on Concensus Process in Amsterdam. In the time leading up to and preparing for the workshop, I gave a great deal of thought to the subject of concensus. This is something I started to write before the workshop, and have since edited some. I'd love to know if this makes sense and/or is useful to anyone.

Concensus is the thing that, as a species, we are working towards.

Humans, in fact all life, is in a constant conversation. Each does what they do, showing who they are (whether we mean to or not) and attending to others, listening and perceiving. In that way we are all participating in this great conversation.

Concensus is the organic state an entity, or group of entities, reach when all voices have been heard and have grokked that they have been heard, and all people have listened and grokked their listening. When we are honest about ourselves and what is inside us, and when that is received by another or others, and it is really received without judgment, something shifts inside the one sharing and inside the receiver. More space is created to receive what others share. In this way, concensus is a process of nourishment being shared outwards in an ever-expanding spiral.

Concensus requires full participation. We must each speak our part,and we must each listen to all the other parts we can. To be fully present, to fully present all of who and what one is to another, is an act of choice. Te be present and to fully receive what another shares, putting aside one’s personal reactions, judgments, agendas, is an act of love. It requires the willingness to see the other for who they are, and to simply accept...not like, or disllike, or come from subjectivity or self interest.

Once all parts have been heard, and we have each listened to the best of our ability to all we can hear, then something will happen. Perhaps the world will change.

In a group of people when this happens, one can feel it. Something manifests. It isn’t agreement, or shared values, or anything so mundane as that. It’s a state of organic beingness that one feels in moments of grace or enlightenment. In a group it is exponentially greater. To really feel part of something, even something that briefly vibrates with this state of grace, is ecstatic. That’s why many people become hooked on “high” group experiences.

If each life form is actually the universe experiencing itself from yet another perspective, then the great conversation is the universe communicating with itself from all perspectives. The microcosm of this is the individual who works to “know themself in all their parts” whether metaphorically in a spiritual context or literally by learning to know how things work in the universe. But this microcosm, personified in Cartesian philosophy, in Feri practice, in the study of physics and anatomy and language, and on and on, this microcosm is a reflection of the macro, the universe engaged in this process of becoming, becoming aware, becoming aware of self, becoming aware of other, and ultimately becoming aware that self and other are one and are separate. This paradox lies at the heart of our conflicted nature. It is this paradox, seeing that which one holds abhorrent embodied in another person, while yet seeing that person as a legitimate person with the right to exist, that confounds us.

In this context, the process of concensus between individuals, including but not limited to individuals from polarized groups, is of critical value to the whole field of life. The more people do this work, the better. All concensus work makes a difference to the whole organic field of concensus as a social psychological/spiritual phenomenon since every additional node of concensus work is an indication that more of the whole group is participating.

02 July 2007

A quick entry here to say that the workshops in Amsterdam this weekend were really wonderful. They were fun, deep, people took risks and did real personal work on making themselves more available to participate in groups, political or otherwise, with a greater sense of how to be effective. The weather cooperated more than once with sunshine. The space we were in is a beautiful kindergarden with a wild forest garden in the middle of the city. All in all, very positive.