31 May 2008

Today I feel hopeful. My personal world is good. My spine feels a lot better, which makes all the difference in my outlook. Pain and impaired mobility can really drag me down.

Barcelona Spain is out of water. A ship with 5 million gallons of water was brought to the city this week, and there is a fine of 5 million euros for watering flowers. Australia, China, Israel, all in water crisis. Los Angeles is going to start rationing water.

“Theft” of used cooking grease from the fast-food poison food oulets is increasing as people now know how to use this substance for fueling vehicles. At least those outlets are producing something useful!

It’s all happening. The many gradual changes are mounting. The wave is building momentum.

I have spent my adult life consciously preparing for these changes. That doesn’t mean I am prepared, but the feeling of waiting for the shit to hit the fan is being replaced by awareness of the shit actually hitting the fan...from the frying pan to the fire? Yet, it’s a relief not to just be waiting.

It must seem odd for those bits of information to follow a statement about feeling hopeful, but it makes total sense to me. The state of waiting challenges my sense of ability to respond, but as the waiting ends and the situation becomes clearer, I find myself more easily mobilized to act. The experience of my spine and mobility alongside these thoughts about waiting and acting “fits” to me. I wonder how many other people have a similar experience, or even a similar feeling.

Yesterday the server was down for one of my email accounts. I couldn’t get a number of US websites to load, like the New York Times and CNN. I wondered, has the government closed down the US internet? Has there been a bombing? Neither of those things had happened, but it was an interesting moment. These things are very possible, and how will I respond? How will people be affected?

I don’t mean to be a doomsayer. In fact I do not feel impending doom. I do feel change in the wind. The corporate governments are scrambling to retain control, and gradually it is slipping away from them, and as it does they become more desperate and oppressive. Humans, however, cannot control nature, and we are part of nature. As situations become increasingly dire, the mass of humanity will become less and less malleable by the manipulators. Even Katy Couric, corporate whore, said this week that she felt pressured by the government to promote the war. Scott McClellan, former Bush spokesliar has come out with his mea culpa book “exposing” the dishonesty of the Bush cabal. Rats deserting a sinking ship? It’s a pity the rats didn’t speak up sooner but hey, I’m sure they were caught up in fear-based self preservation, and status seeking, and belief.

It is increasingly clear that it is up to each of us to choose how we will be part of solutions. I imagine and hope that even people who have been duped and complicit are beginning to see beyond their beliefs and fears. There are seriously dark clouds coming...they are closer than the horizon, and the storm they bring will uproot and scour, and isn’t that nature’s way? I don’t mean to sound so biblical, being such a pagan and all, but a good metaphor is hard to resist.

I teach this class online, Healing Magic. The gist of the material is to stimulate awareness, a sense of being part of the web of life and thus able to act in support of life. I know this blog reaches a relatively small number of people, many of whom I know personally, and know to be actively involved in supporting life and solutions and all that good stuff. I visualize Earth and the people I know here who are doing this work each in their own way; maybe a few hundred that I personally know. And they all know more people doing the same thing in their unique ways, and they know more, and on and on. Today I choose to be aware of the millions, maybe billions, who do see, who do want change, who do what they can, or at least what they think they can, and that adds up to a lot of people doing a lot of amazing things within themselves, their families, their communities. I’m cheering us on! We can do it, we can do more than we even know we are capable of, and it matters.

Chloe the cat is curled up on the bed, sleeping, comfortable, her person nearby, her belly full.

29 May 2008

I believe in magic. The fog on the mountains, the rain, friends and family and lovers; the snail on the leaf, the birth of a new life, the death of a loved one or even one I didn’t know who touched my life...

...even the pain in my body. I believe in magic. I call it...existence. Some say there is a creator who is separate from what we call creation. Some say that creation and creator are one. I call it a mystery, and that is also magic.

I’m listening to a song called “Apple of my eye” written and sung by Rosalie Sorrels. I went to school briefly with one of her sons when she and her family lived in Vermont in 1975-76. Here is someone who is still out there making music, who has lived a life with joy and pain. This is a voice worth listening to.

This week marks the passing if Utah Phillips. He was a true bard, an activist, someone who spoke truth to power, who put his life into action. His presence will remain in his music and the memories so many people have of him. I met him once or twice when he and Rosalie did benefits for our little free school in Vermont.

27 May 2008

I’m happy to report that I am much better today. Yay! I can stand, sit, walk, and all with much less pain. Halleluja!

It is intermittently warm & sunny, and thunder & lightening here today.

It is looking like the Urban Witchcamp in Amsterdam is not going to happen. I’m disappointed, but so it goes. I still hope for enough enrollment for the Urban Permaculture workshop. It is such topical material, and yet I imagine that rising fear levels and shrinking economic resources make people more likely to stay home and spend less.

I am revisiting my plans for the 4th quarter of 2008. I may be returning to the US as originally planned in mid-September. I’ll be looking for a diesel pickup truck, so if you hear or know of one, please keep me in mind.

Something that confounds me is the experience of offering something of value and having it not be well received, like these workshops. I know I am not a person to attend lots of events, and so that is part of it for other people as well, but I am fascinated by the experience of having the workshops be well attended in some places, and not so in others.

I am open to possibilities and curious to see what happens over the next three months, and how that all will effect my trajectory.

26 May 2008

A friend emailed me today, referring to yesterday's post and said "...wonder what it is you're supposed to be learning.."

Today, with ibuprofin and a back brace, extra sleep and basically no activity, I am feeling better. My lumbar spine still hurts, and my mobility is affected, but I feel better. I am able to work online, communicate with my project co-workers in Holland via email, do some promotion via email, and just be. The weather is intermittently sunny and cloudy.

So what I am learning, again, is to make the best of what’s in front of me and trust the flow, even when it is uncomfortable, uncertain, and scary.

25 May 2008

It is still raining here, and the forecast sees no end in sight. Yesterday my back started to act up and today I can't stand up straight, moving in bed is very difficult..shades of last summer...shit. I have to get out of this cold wet weather system...it is supposed to be hot and sunny! My whole outlook and energy are affected by this.

22 May 2008

It's still cool and rainy in prealpine Italy. The mountaintops are often shrouded in clouds, it rains daily, and there is that wet melancholy feeling. I am ready for a warm sunny day!

These periods between jobs when I am usually in a quiet place are necessary for me, and yet I always feel like I am shirking. Funny thing.

I'm reading a book called “Mountains Beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder. I highly recommend it! It's about a man named Paul Farmer, a doctor, medical anthropologist and what I would call a medical activist. The book, and Farmer, are fascinating, inspiring, wrenching, and well worth reading.

The first run of my 8 week class Healing Magic has concluded. Now I am preparing for the second run by doing some rewriting of the materials, making some additions to the reading list, adding a film list, stuff like that. It is scheduled to start June 2 but I think I am going to move that back to August or September. I haven't done much in terms of promotion yet.

I appreciate so much the comments that people have made on this blog. No matter what happens to humanity, all the journeys that we make in becoming more loving, more generous, concerned with more than just ourselves; this learning is a pure goodness in the universe, and it is a privilege to be part of that.

I was just out for a walk and ran into a couple who live in this village. They speak only Italian and I speak little Italian, so communicating has it's challenges, but they were picking roses and the woman gestured and with words telling me they were for a benediction for St. Rita as this is her feast day. I told her that my mother was named Rita and that it is her birthday tomorrow, she would be 80. Then the woman showed me some other roses, St. Rita's roses, some of the only pungent roses I have seen here. It was a very sweet moment, and particularly meaningful for me given some of the memories and grief I've been working with this week. Grazie St. Rita!

20 May 2008

Here's some hot news. "Stories from the road" told by yours truly will debut on wbkm.org June 1, 2008 at 8 PM Eastern Time (US). To listen go to http://wbkm.org and click on the flower. If you want to be sure you can listen I suggest going to http://wbkm.org ahead of time to make sure your settings all work. See you on the air on June 1!

19 May 2008

Last night I dreamt over and over (waking up, going back to sleep, to the dream) about my mother's murder. I wasn't dreaming of the actual event but of her being missing, finding out she'd been killed, and feeling powerless and enraged. Over and over. I woke up feeling sad and heavy.

I read, a couple of days ago, about a bomb, which came out of Gaza and killed a woman. I thought about how tragic that was, and all the other tragedies, the daily deaths in Gaza, all equally tragic. I wrote to a friend who lives in Israel, what will it take for people to learn? Her response, that we are learning and that love is the answer, rings true. I believe it.

What is belief? A mental construct of reality, a lens through which to perceive, a set of guidelines that we use to determine trajectory and behavior. Belief, as a human activity, is and has been the basis of our species' path for thousands of years, whether we call it religion or ideology. Now we are on the brink of self-destruction. Through our heedless actions we bring about the daily extinction of life forms on earth, climate change continues to accelerate, cultures clash and a minority ruling elite continue to amass resources at the expense of the non-elite majority.

I travel and teach love, joy, personal empowerment, connection with spirit and self, belongingness. I believe in all of it. I feel good when I teach it. I see others feel good when they work with these ways.

Here in this quiet valley, in this stone village which has stood for hundreds of years where people have been growing food, making olive oil and wine and cheese, where the church bells ring hourly and birds sing, flowers bloom, people are born, live, die; here in this place I find myself. Through the amazing technology of internet and wireless microwave transmission I read articles, peruse newspapers, dialogue with friends.

Somehow there is a space in the world that I fill. I touch some lives, and hopefully they are enriched by this touching, and they touch my life too. Sometimes the love and kindness blow my mind. Sometimes I encounter tightness and scarcity in others, and in myself. I do my best to work it through when I encounter it in myself, to get back to kindness and generosity. When I meet those walls in others I do my best to be compassionate, and to find ways to get/do what I need to when others are not sharing. Sometimes I do this better than other times.

I feel fear about the collective situation, and I feel fear about my personal situation sometimes. Rarely do I find myself immobilized. In my dream last night I felt immobilized, in a bed on the street in Burlington outside if the old Grand Union, people walking by, and I was invisible to them. I knew she'd been killed and I couldn't find her.

The government of Nevis covered up my mother's murder because they didn't want to damage the tourist trade. The government of Nevis, along with the US Consulate, the FBI and the Dade County Coroner, lied about what happened in order to protect their financial interests and political affiliations. How disgusting is that? And yet it is certainly no more heinous than the daily killing, through direct and structural violence, that occur in so many places on this beautiful planet; violence perpetrated by governments and their agencies, by corporate policies and practices, and ultimately by the complacency of regular people who, for whatever reasons, collude in order to maintain the familiar comfortable status quo.

Words like hope, despair, futility, possibility, all crowd my mind and make me wonder, as I face the sun and the infinite sky, about the great mysteries we humans have contemplated for millennia. What are we? Are we spirits in bodies? Are we just biomachines with nervous systems and built-in self-preservation mechanisms? How is it that we can feel and share so deeply and at the same time turn our backs on life itself in order to be comfortable? Are we evolving towards a more fully realized existence or is this a wheel spinning conundrum which we must pass through on our journey to whatever lies beyond the veil of this life?

17 May 2008

This post is in response to Shahar's comment from a few days ago.

I think probably everyone has different reasons for getting married. The couples I have married all seem to do it because they want to be married to each other. What that means to them, I cannot say.

I have never been married so it's ironic that I act as priest in wedding ceremonies. The weddings I have done have all been fun and sweet and my intention in doing them is to offer a kind of supportive energetic as the couple takes what is for them an important life step. My job is to priest the ritual as I would any ritual, bringing my best and making a space for the mystery to be experienced. I've been to weddings where people spent tons of money and ones where people spent very little. It is an interesting practice, marrying. I really am not sure why people do it. I do think, though, that if it is something two people want, to marry each other, analyzing it can be useful and can also be useless. If one wants something, does one have to understand it rationally 100%?

16 May 2008

I'm back in Italy after spending a few days in Marseille with a dear friend. It is cloudy and cool and rainy here. The cherries are ripe, and there are baby birds in a nest chirping in the grapevine outside the room where I am now staying. I haven't felt like I had a room that was “my” room in so long, I just realized as I was unpacking my altar items and a few little things how nice it feels to spread out in that way. I have pared down the amount of stuff from a house packed full to this little bit, and some stuff in storage.

This room is at the bottom of the house. It has a door and a half oval window on the south wall, through 30” of stone wall. The north of the room has a few stairs up into a hallway with two closets, and a new wooden door at the end leading out into what will be a bathroom and an exit to the north yard which is down the hill from the rest of the village. There is a new very comfortable single mattress, a red tile floor, white cemented walls and ceiling...the room is a big arch, so the walls curve up and meet at the peak. The south wall is not painted or plastered, it is exposed stone. The room is not quite 4 meters long (north <-> South) and 3.5 meters wide. The peak of the ceiling is around 3.5 meters. Outside the door are stone stairways, a perpendicular door on the east leading into another part of the house, and west the stairs go down to terraced ground where the wedding ceremony was held. This is where there are some of the cherry trees. Looking south one sees the mountains that are between us and the sea.

Marseille is a big city, not tall, built mostly out of limestone and concrete. It is a port and has been for centuries. This city has trafficked in slaves, guns, drugs, opium, and who knows what else. There are numerous big consulate buildings and residences. Many countries have a presence here. One can assume that there are still big deals being made here, and probably for the same things as hundreds of years ago.

This is a Mediterranean city with a pretty mild climate. My friend is looking to do a bunch of interesting permaculture type things, including a balcony garden. Like every city I have visited there is huge potential for energy and food production, potential, which is not being explored on any significant scale yet. And like every city there are people doing things quietly, on their own. These people will be more prepared for food shortages, blackouts, etc.

The Urban Permaculture workshop in the Netherlands is coming up in early July. It feels so timely to me, and yet I feel like I don't have the contacts to promote it as effectively as I'd like. If anyone reading this has contacts in Europe who you think may be interested in the workshop or linking it on a web page or posting it in a forum, please let me know or just send them the link to our site http://urban-permaculture.blogspot.com/

I have concluded that my body is reacting to the toxins I've been exposed to in New Orleans, and most recently in Israel. I got dosed twice times in Israel with toxic chemicals. Once in Haifa we happened to be there while there was a chemical leak, which we heard about later. When we were there, though, my body went into reaction; my eyes were burning, my throat was getting sore and swollen...and those things subsided when I left the city. The second time was in a car where there were three people wearing a lot of chemical soaps and scents, and we drove by a place where there are known toxic fumes due to some industrial plant. Both of those times I had strong physical responses to the chemicals. Lately what I experience is more bouts of low blood pressure, a feeling of weakness in my limbs though if I choose to go for a walk or open a jar I can do it, and heat sensitivity (due to heat exhaustion in Israel most likely). I feel a need for sleep and down time, and I have some in front of me now. Also clean food and good water! I feel like I am spending physical capital on doing things I believe in, but which take their toll.

I am watching the US politics, and world politics in general. It is so pathetic to see the US Congress continue to lamely give Bush & Co. what they demand, more money for war; to watch the election circus spin along merrily when the reality of rigged presidential elections in the US continues not to be investigated and corrected; to see the obscene profiteering by corporations while people pour their life force into working for the corporate masters, and have lives filled with meaningless stuff and stress. People have it within their power to free themselves, and most people don't know it. Many don't even see how enslaved they are. I do think that is changing. I think in the US more and more people are seeing the horror that the country has become, and most of those people feel powerless to change anything. Awareness, though, is a big step, and out of that can come new choices. Neccesity is the mother of invention, and as the US economy collapses, even those who had been wealthy will have to make some significant changes in their lives. I hope that brings out creativity and kindness in people. That's what I saw in New Orleans, in the ruin of the city people brought their creativity and kindness, and it mattered.

10 May 2008

It was a beautiful sunny warm day. The wedding was really wonderful. This old Italian stone castle house was filled with flowers and the cherries on the trees are almost ripe. The peaches and almonds and apricots and figs have a ways to go. Roses are blooming, and lavender. The people were decked out, friends and family from the south of Italy, the UK, the US, came to celebrate. The ceremony was sweet and real and beautiful. I officiated in Italian and English, which went well, and was fun and exciting. Afterwards there was antipasto and wine at a the B&B in the village, and then a 10 course meal down the hill in the valley at the ristorante of the mayor, that was just amazing. By the end of the meal, after all the good-byes, I came back to the house and crashed.

After napping for a few hours I woke up and checked my email to find that the IRS has decided that they are taxing me on dividends for the year 2006, and the tax is more than the dividends! My only course is to appeal it in tax court. I realize as I write this that there is a kind of taboo against discussing tax issues openly. I am pretty pissed off about this. How the IRS can tax me $1010 on $270 of dividend income is beyond me. I have provided them with the information which verifies this, but they don't accept it so I have to deal with this bullshit. Of course they have nearly doubled the amount with interest and penalties. I made $7000 in 2006, and less in 2007. It’s annoying, and rocks my equanimity, but it’s also a good exercise in perspective, balance, and trust.

Tonight, after everyone went to bed, I was sitting outside under the waxing gibbous moon and wondering...what happens next? The world is turning and the human wars are escalating. Environmental change is escalating and will reach some kind of crisis point in the relatively near future. Perhaps if humans make some drastic changes we may stave some of the worst, but perhaps not. With that awareness, afer eating one of the most extraordinary meals of my life, I sat under the moon and wondered, what do I do next? I can be here until mid September. There are workshops, classes and possibly other teaching opportunities in front of me. The US is not an appealing place. Where shall I go? How shall I live? Not new questions for me, or for this blog, but they presented themselves strongly again tonight.

I realized something. By letting go of a lot of material and human attachments a few years ago, traveling and web spinning from community to community, I have made many attachments with people. There are so many people I love, and who love me, all over the place, which means I am always not with some of the people I really love, including Lasky. I am most of the time with people I love who love me,which is the greatest, but I don't have a primary family or even a primary community like most people do. It's a sticky web in some ways, it both connects and , as I travel and makes web connections, the web becomes a way of measuring distance too.

I no longer think in the way I used to about finding the safe place to be when the shit hits the fan. I am thinking more in terms of...if things happen that make it that I have to stay where I am, wherever that is at any given time, how will I make that work? What resources are around me right now that I can use for survival? What can I offer to make myself valuable, worth keeing around and feeding etc.? It's very different in different places of course. In Tel Aviv the resources are very different, and would be I think harder to access, than in the Italian Alps. The Bitterroot Vallley in Montana offers a whole different set of resources and challenges than the ranch in Sonoma Cty. California. What I can offer seems to be differen tin different places too. Some of the skills and talents I have are needed more in some places, and others in other places, so as I travel I am always needing to notice and adjust myself accordingly. It's an interesting exercise.

07 May 2008

It's sunny and warm today. I planted a vegetable garden. It feels so good to dig and plant, and I am aware that physically I have very little stamina right now. Some of it is that I haven't eaten much meat lately, and also I feel that I am still recovering from the heat exhaustion I experienced in Israel.

There are two more workshops scheduled for me to teach. Here are links to the websites:

Urban Witchcamp
Urban Permaculture

Both feel timely and significant. Luckily they are both in July so I have some time to rest up before heading into the intense schedule of two 3-day workshops.

05 May 2008

Today it is a bit cloudy and cool, windy even. The house has been a bustle of activity in preparations for the wedding Saturday of the two people who live here. This is a 500+ year old stone house, with a tower room, that the couple marrying have worked on for the last 10 years cutting windows through the stone and reinforcing them with concrete, making tile floors and putting in plumbing, electricity, telephone, wood stove and fireplace; it’s a beautiful place but not opulent. It is simple and rustic. I know the woman because her mother has been a friend for a long time and I have been around as the bride was growing up, and we are friends. Now she is in her mid 30’s. I am only getting to know the man in the couple. He is from Genoa but moved to this village because of family connecions, bought this little castle, and has been fixing it up. Outside there are many kinds of fruit trees, grapes, terraces...it’s quite a wonderful place. The wedding will be here on saturday morning. I’m performing the ceremony.

Today we have been selecting music. It’s great to have a music library. It’s a very pleasureable task to select music for a lovely event celebrating love.

I have been reading the news and see things developing, food crisis, more disaster, riots, more and more blatant corruption and greed driven violence as the corporate government monster is also moving towards it’s demise; it struggles and will continue to do so ever more intensely as the crisis builds. This is going to get ugly. It fills me with a sense of dread to read what I just wrote. I am a pretty positive person and I take great joy in living and I am not blind or in denial. The avalanche is just starting and a lot of people are going to be burried before the mountain stops collapsing. Sadness doesn’t even begin to describe what I feel about what’s coming. Horror is more like it. I know that many wonderful things are and will continue to happen, and I am all for it, but I see what I see.

Now, notice that this is exactly what the news is designed to make me feel. The news that is covered and the way it is covered is designed to make me feel that I am about to go under, that all is despair and woe and that I have no power, that I am not free.

Horse hockey! It’s just time to plant food, grow soil, save seed, and share! The more people do that the easier it will be to transition away from the multinational global economics of food distribution and get back to people and Earth, which, by the way, used to work. It still does ina lot of places! If everyone would plant something, and also buy locally grown food, there would be a huge shift in the economic base away from the ruling elite and towards local people involved with local Earth.