Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.
–Ursula K. Le Guin
What do we do with a hardened heart?
Tonight was Shavuot – a Jewish holiday where we review the whole Torah, but through new lenses. A quick Google search turns up pictures of wheat fields for Shavuot, which symbolize the Harvest of the land of Israel, the day when the Jewish people were given the 10 Commandments. Buried in the golden symbolism of this holiday lay some deep seeded reflections concerning namely, our hearts. And lately, my heart has been hard.
I used to think love was enough.. that with enough love and good intentions, you could over come any trial or misunderstanding. I used to put more optimism into LOVE than into the doing of the actual “work” in love itself, but as it turns out, you cannot force love. No, “love, like bread, must be made every day” (or like challah, every week if you’re Jewish).
Now it takes a LOT of hard work to even make dough… I mean how many of us have worked the fields, harvested the grain, turned grain into flour? Then there’s the combining of the ingredients, patience for them to rise to just the right combination of measurements and temperatures curated to ensure the bread is even edible. So many factors and variables… and just like in our relationships, we must work at keeping the bread alive, constantly in the home, remaking it anew. A ritual, even!
Now, while man plans… Ingredients change. Oven temperatures may vary, yeast evolves and new recipes are written; all along we adapt our process. Cut corners. Shift in dies and as we get older, our hearts change. Love is always there, but it can hide, even from ourselves. Love does not exist in a vacuum, but rather it is surrounded by forces of nature that ebb and flow, pulling our hearts and minds sometimes in opposite directions sometimes. Unlike mana, there is no exact method or science for why hearts are hardened, or not. Layers build, and callous without constant maintenance.
SO – when I looked at my Torah portion tonight called: Bo, I was reminded of stories of the plagues of Egypt, the anguish, the frustration, the hurt that for years so many people even to this day continue to endure, I asked myself, “what DO we do with hardened hearts?” When people are SO angry that they cannot forgive, forget, or give in, where do we go from there? When Pharaoh hardened his heart for the final three times, what hatred that brought out, what misery? What good came out of that, God? Yes, we may have received the commandments and we will forever forward observe this Passover counting of the Omer culmination in celebration, a mitzvah yes, but not without years of hardship and difficulty. How could anyone’s heart NOT be hardened right now, under these circumstances?
And thus, I must look at what I have learned from my many mistakes made in love, and I find that no matter how hard we try, we cannot force a softened heart. Only that is between God and the heart itself. We can work out our own hearts, showing forgiving our own souls but also, finding grace for who have hardened hearts, even when it may not feel rightfully deserved. The hardening and softening of hearts, that is left to God. And when God is everywhere, as I was taught by my parents, it’s up to each of us to do the work. To take the time. To soften our hearts. To bake the bread new. To knead the truth. To re-read the stories, with fresh lenses so that we can keep gleaning wisdom, even, and especially, when the bread turns stale.
Stale bread … used to be for the birds. But opening and reopening our hearts, that is for our people, and everyday we work it. Love, like bread, can go stale, and can be bought back to life. – you can freshen it up with a little heat, or dry it out and make croutons. Starter yeast has probiotic health benefits, and we learn that even from the sourest of dough, love can grow, into a new culture if we can cut through the tough outer later with knives of justice, in order to enjoy the warm parts. Even when matzah didn’t get the chance to rise, we still ate it up, and made ourselves strong. We keep nourishing ourselves, even when it’s tough, because sometimes love isn’t enough to survive.
In this time of modern day plague and uncertainty, we can be grateful that so many of us even have the time to learn how to bake bread, as well as the time to have had the difficult conversations with our loved ones about how to properly love our neighbors. All the while, continuing to work on our own hearts so that they may be as soft and open as our nature will allow.
Everyday, made new.
“You cannot rescue people from their pain and sadness you can only offer to walk beside them as a fellow kindred spirit” -unknown
I laugh at myself (as artists often do) almost every time I practice my newfound art of DJing. I laugh because I never thought at age 33 this is what I’d be geeking out over, but also I laugh because as a poet at heart, my DJ flow is an extension of my poetry. Whether I am spinning hoops, weaving words or mixing tracks, I find poetry and laughter in each art form. As a DJ, the poetry flows from my own consciousness as well as from blending other people’s cherished words together (more often than not, the words accompanied by music in the background) to put together a unique and experimental set. Call it hip hop, call it vocals, or poetry, whatever; I have fallen in love with the art of blending the sounds of other people’s words in a way that takes the listener on a new and mystical journey, and it totally cheeses me out. And now here I am BLOGGING about my LOVE of DJing WORDS as a POET… the irony layers upon layers of “WHAT THE FUCK IS SHE DOING” seems to spin me around saying boldly that in this wild world of art, I have, and will again, come full cipher.
“How did I get here?” I often ask myself that question. At first glance it might appear that my white girl entitlement woke up one day and thought “hey, I think I’ll be a rapper”. On a deep level, where one must look honestly at ones privileges and entitlement, I can admit that there is an element of truth to that; however in all honesty the evolution of MissConception has really has been so much more. Allow me to spin a tale of truth, take you back to my youth, and share why I dare be so bold as to tread instead on this blazen path of creativity. See, I was born wanting to defy any and every stereotype imaginable, but I wasn’t always so brave. When I look back, there are a few crucial moments in my life when I distinctly remember thinking “I am going to be an artist, blow some minds, and have a fuck-ton fun doing it”. I didn’t realize it was going to be so hard, despite everyone’s warnings. (Sometimes when you’re not even trying things come easiest, and then you start working at it and the challenges show face).
Safe to say, I pretty much came out of the womb dancing. My grandmother Carol used to tell me about how she would take me to brunch on top of the Alameda hotel and I would sing and dance and put on a show for all the guests with the piano player on deck. I choreographed and performed my own dance in 2nd grade for a talent show. I wanted to be Aretha Franklin at age 10. (My parents put me in singing lessons when they heard that.) I remember my whole childhood full of adults telling me I shouldn’t sing because I was, plainly, annoying. Nobody used that word, but I could tell they didn’t want to hear it. I often wanted to put on shows that nobody wanted to watch. Time and again I participated in ecstatic plays where nobody cared to hear me out. Entire lifecycles I role played out in my head, alone. Though my parents did offer dance lessons and school play auditions, which I readily appreciated, I couldn’t help but feeling stifled in hindsight. I wanted to bring joy, but I was told to hush, like many children. “Don’t be so silly,” they warned. I distantly remember a time in 5th or 6th grade when even though I knew deep down in my heart that I was an “artist” of mystical meanderings, that the power of the universe was within me and I had all the knowledge I needed to make the world a better place, admist along all of that confusion, I decided I would put it all away, as to not bother anybody. The sadness in not feeling welcome to be ones self, I know it well.
Yes, I put it all away alright; through high school in dance team I opted to be in the back row every time. I didn’t try out for parts that had singing auditions, which were almost every part. I didn’t want to call attention, for fear that I would be told I wasn’t good enough. All of those things we are told as women, as children, as adults that we “aren’t pretty enough, aren’t smart enough, didn’t make the cut” echoed through my head constantly. After all, wouldn’t we rather do nothing at all than fail? “If you don’t do anything you can’t fail,” I thought. (All this coming from a straight A student…). I never really felt like I fit in, or had a purpose, and it was very confusing for a child who was asked constantly “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Until I found the misfits…
I signed up for a poetry writing class at KU, mostly to avoid British Literature, and I remember my classmates seeing my love of creativity and word-smithing, encouraging me to go to poetry readings and let my words be heard. I didn’t believe them at first; THEY thought I was worth OTHER people’s time?? As I began going to readings and putting myself out there slowly people started asking me to do it more. The local jam band asked me to come sit in and flow during their Monday night jam sessions. I started calling poetry circles in the park, where strangers would come to just hear words exchanged in the moonlight. People BOOKED me! I started attending secret midnight readings, hosting events and finding serious poetry slams, with jazz bands and professional poets encouraging me to “work harder to find the right word,” which is what a professor taught me once. An endless cycle, nonetheless, I was hooked.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t poetry that dragged me surely out of my sh-ell (sheltered-hell), but rather, it was a hoop. I was in college and my friends started learning how to hula hoop, this oldschool-made-new fitness craze; but these girls were learning tricks, dancing and meditating with the hoops. Dancing, having always been a vertical expression of a horizontal desire (said Rita Dove), became an immersive experience. I had always been a lover of play and movement, so I followed right along in stride with the other hoopers, learning how to work with one, two, and up to six hula hoops at a time. I didn’t realize it at the time, but later I would light them up, and set them on fire!
“The irony spins in hoops yearning to endear our ears to truth” – Stella Dreamwalker
It was using these plastic rings with a “give-no-fuck” attitude that gave me the courage to really bless the mic the way a mic should be blessed. Well, the hoops, and many poets and artist that I encountered who each inspired me to the stars and back. A little bit of self-confidence was the ignition I needed. Fueled with my words of love, I combusted and in 2009 I made a decision to start taking myself seriously, as an artist.
Over the years, I’ve casted many nets and caught a lot of fish, some very lucky minnows and some sharks. I knew carving out a niche as an artist was going to be difficult. It was going to be full of disappointment, misunderstandings and with plenty of people telling me I couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t be successful. I knew I was fishing in waters deeper than I had fished before. I also knew that there was no other option for me but to try. I was a guppy who wanted to move mountains with art. So first learned to walk on lands and then I learned to fly… and then, mountain hunting I went.
I remember the night it dawned on me that if I was going to do this, which is when I started diving deeper into hip-hop. I realized I had been embodying many of the elements of this loved art form without even knowing it… DoJing and emceeing, art (graffiti/stenciling), bboy dancing, and the consciousness of it, all touched my heart; the pain and the sadness right along with the badass gladness. “My Main MissConception” was the first spoken word performance piece I wrote and my roommate deemed me the name MissConception. #miccheck
Special thanks to Alex Chase for recording and mastering my first track.
Since I was little I had always loved rhyming. Shell Silverstein and Dr Seuss were heavy influences as a child , and in middle school I memorized all the words to a Jurassic 5 song and then the rap at the end of TLC’s Waterfalls. I was obsessed with cadence and delivery. After flaming hoops unleashed my inner confidence, I took to the stage saying the thing that nobody at least nobody who lied like me) wanted to say. Passion and truth flowed naturally like water from my lips. Largely, I wasn’t the most popular act in town, especially in the thick of the spoken word and rap scenes, despite my emphasis on social inequality, the environment and gender equality. I wanted to change the world, and again it seemed nobody wanted to listen. Eventually a local producer, DWILL, offered to make beats for me and record my first album. In 2008 he helped me to debut my dream, Self Titled: MissConception; I was ecstatic. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be making a hip-hop album. He believed in me, and that is sometimes still hard to believe.
Since then, I’ve performed on hundreds of stages, hosted showcases, self-produced several more albums (Ostentation, Saraswati, Saratonin, Serendipty EP, and my new release coming in 2020 titled: Saramony); I’ve worked with some very talented producers, and I even had the opportunity to release my first chap-book of poetry in 2016 entitled: Class Action (because who really wants to go to law school anyone when you can be a poet). #poppoetry #12poetsin12months. (I still have a very limited amount of 2nd edition signed copies left #classaction)
Yes, it all looks so pretty on a website, and yes I have wanted to give up over and over. The truth is for an artist, it is a constant internal battle of your mind as to whether or not to keep going or give up, and an external battle with everyone else. Almost every day I doubt myself. And almost every day I have someone reach out to me telling me that my words changed their life. “Have you considered getting an agent?” is the most grateful and yet painful question; lord I wish I could find an agent who would understand this hot mess of an artist. But just knowing that so many people now believe in me; what a blessing. On the other side of the same token, I receive more messages than I’d care to admit that my work is trash, founded in ignorance, and I have no business as a white woman in hip-hop, or that I’m chasing a dream that no longer serves me or my lifestyle. One thing these hoops and ciphers have taught me is that each of us has our own fires to burn and our own lessons to learn.
I learned long ago to not chase the dream. Follow it. Show up for it. Be ready for it when it comes knocking, but don’t chase it. Desparation is a heavy stench. The thing I keep coming back to as an artist is that it doesn’t matter who likes or doesn’t like my art. The art is made FOR ME, by me, because of me, and through me. It’s there if you want, take it or leave it. You don’t have to understand it to appreciate it. Sometimes the parts of creativity that we MISunderstand are actually the POINT of making the art. The more healthy discussions that spark from these dreams come alive the more fuel for the art.
More often than not I wake up lyrics in my head from a dream and scribble them down before I forget. I am not necessarily a writer, dare I say that I am a channel? I always tell people that although I may write down the songs, they don’t exactly come from me, they come through me. I didn’t plan for this. I didn’t ask for this. I just simply cannot help myself; and thus another misconception was born.
Album Artwork painting done by Wieteke Waterborg, 2008
Ceremony | Saramony Release Day January 1, 2020
– A projection of desire and reflection of the fire –
In preparing for my new album release, Saramony | Ceremony in 2020, I collaborated with a group out of the Twin Cities called the Gypse Freq Circus for one track; several of the tracks were written by a producer named Eisenhauer, and a few parodies in the mix that just fell out as well. (Parodies are my favorite!) Recorded and mastered by Jonathan Larson of the Tenderloin Studios in San Francisco, this is some of my darkest and most conscious work yet dare I say? It is set to release on January 1, 2020. #2020vision
I’ve always said that there are two rules of ‘Show Business’: 1. Shock Value – and 2. Always leave them wanting more. Say the thing that they don’t expect you to say and then leave them hanging on the edge of their seat baby so they come to your next show. These 8 tracks I am hoping will tug on your heart strings just enough to help me fuel the next round of creativity, whatever that may be. I’m always paying attention and ready when the universe calls.
Another professor once taught me that “Poetry is the art of paying attention” and he could not be more right. Paying attention in a century where attention-spans are the length of twitter tweets is a nearly impossible feat. It’s asking a lot of people these days to cut through the clutter and really give your mind to one train of thought for more than five or ten minutes. How about, just one song even? Listening may or may not save your life per say, but it’s CERTAINLY saving mine. Here is a sneak peak of the title track off my new album, entitled: Gypsy Freq Circus
Being an artist and performing original work to an audience that appreciates said art is truly the greatest give in the world; the highest of highs abound. It has become my mental health lifeline. Booking an artist is somewhat akin to saving their life in a sense… it’s our purpose, striving art. It’s what we live for.
“Art is why I get up in the morning,” said Ani Difranco, “but my definition ends there you know it doesn’t seem fair that I’m living for something I can barely define…and there you are right there in the meantime”. Art is the process of defining what there is to get up in the morning for. Whether it pisses you off or inspires you, at least it’s doing something!
❤ Thanks for the love during the last decade ❤
If I’ve realized anything about the beauty of performance art, it’s that it’s an incredibly hard sell, almost especially so when your tool-kit is full of a variety of tricks; often people don’t know what to do with me as an artist. I’ve been told, “I’m too spiritual for the hip-hop heads and too hip-hop for the yoga teachers.” I don’t write my own “music”, I write the words. I take other people’s music and words that flow through and mash em up often serenditiously. When they ask about my work style I tell people, “If you put Ani Difranco and Jurassic 5 together, you get one hell of a MissConception”. And I suppose I’d have it no other way; after all, my name is MissConception; the element of mystery and elusivity is part of the practice. You’re supposed to interpret art, not be told what it is. “Just what is she trying to do?” Truth is the magic is in the mystery.
In closing, I just want to say a seriously great big thank you to anybody and everybody who has ever supported MissConception, myself, or any other artist that inspires you on any level. Thank you for also sharing your art with me. Special thank you to my dear friend and editor, Stella Dreamwalker, for believing in me and writing with me along the way. I will be forever grateful for your love, and I will continue to offer my creativity and love to any and all who wish to share. The only way out is in-word, and we are all in this wordy world together, spinning circles. Let’s keep rockin’ into the twenties!
First we have to forgive each other.
And then, we must forgive ourselves.
As someone who although was raised Jew-ish, always felt spiritually connected to all faiths, you might be surprised to know that while I do many Jewish things, I am not all that religious. I was raised reform, some of my family is orthodox, much of my work is in a conservative Jewish context, my prayerful nature is certainly Jewish, but I have always been a rail rider… a paradox. How can I be Jewish, and also be…. performing burlesque, singing Kiran to Hindu gods, or, god forbid, eating bacon? I don’t belong fully to any of the laws, and yet I am still a summation of all that I have learned and come to known as comforting in the realm of prayer and spirit. I consider myself to be pretty attuned to all the ways the spirit works, nondenominationally, as far as being human is concerned.
So when a few weeks ago I had this sense of dread come over me… I was baffled by this unexplainable heavily grieving of loss. Nothing showed overtly obvious as a reason…My love and work has been steady, I’m not PSMing, Mercury isn’t still in retrograde if you consider that important… granted, we live in an age where I fail to see how it’s possible for anybody not to be constantly depressed about this morbid state of the union… affairs… our planet…all that we have created. It’s a boat-load of good and bad. That aside… I checked in with myself, and though I felt balanced and healthy within, still, there was great sadness.
As people come and go in and out of our lives, is to be expected, and we ourselves undergo new phases of ourselves – old parts dying off, new parts growing – some things forever stay relevant, perhaps like faith, spirit, creativity. The real reality and secret is that EVERYTHING is temporary; we are always learning the process and when we master the process, then it changes. If you haven’t yet noticed, it has become clear to many that attachment is where pain grows. Specifically, unhealthy attachment.
I mentioned I currently work at a conservative synagogue in the Bay Area, and last week a man came in grappling with his mortality. With tears in his eyes he said he has two-four months to live and just wants to make it easy on his family. My tears began to flow with him and we hugged and talked…grief is a process, not a destination or something to avoid. And even when it’s not your own grief, it is still overt and demands attention; always better not to be done alone.
Then, in a staff meeting on Thursday, my Rabbi did a short teaching, and it hit me like lightening… he explained that this weekend is Tisha B’Av! The Jewish day of mourning. What is that about?
For those that aren’t familiar, on this day in 2019, Saturday, August 10, at sundown marked the Jewish day known as Tisha B’av. Known as the 9th of the Jewish month of Av, and it has a reputation of being the saddest day of the year. It usually occurs in July or August, and the Gregorian date switches around, it marks the culmination of a three week period of mourning. Twenty-four hours dedicated to the communal mourning of disastrous events that have all occurred on this day throughout history. I thought I would name a few, the first one written in the Bible, our oldest rendering of time, states:
“ …On the ninth of Av it was decreed that our fathers should not enter the Promised Land”. –Mishnah Ta’anit 4:6
…And it was decided the Jews had to wonder the dessert for 40 more years (or something of that nature, I didn’t go to synagogue tonight, because clearly I am not the best Jew. I like to keep my options open… but I instead, worked on this blog post, and dug deeper)
Tisha B’Av commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av (the first by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.; the second by the Romans in 70 C.E.). On this day the many other tragedies occurred, notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and from England in 1290. Some connect the day to Kristallnacht, which began on the 9th of November, or to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Perhaps a stretch, but worth noting. Some other dates include:
- The First Crusade officially commenced on August 15, 1096 (Av 24, AM 4856)
- The Jews were expelled from England on July 18, 1290
- The Jews were expelled from France on July 22, 1306
- The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492
- Germany entered World War I on August 1–2, 1914
- On August 2, 1941, SS commander Heinrich Himmler received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution.” As a result, the Holocaust began.
And then, a little further research thanks to my friend Moxie proved to show that :
- 1871 – Chicago Fire 370 dead
- 1989 – San Francisco Earthquake
- 1992 – Hurricane Andrew
- 1972 – NYC heat wave – 891 dead
And the beat goes on. Really, no matter which way you look at it, people are constantly in a cycle of grieving. It’s unavoidable. And yet, here we are, continuing to walk forward in our lives as if nothing is wrong.
Luckily, traditions have developed observations in which to help people deal with these emotions. The jews sit shiva for seven days when someone dies. Many custums have particular rituals with which to honor the dead. #DayoftheDead
Central to the observance of this Tisha B’Av period is fasting. I also found it interesting that during this three week period of mourning preceding the 9th of Av, weddings and other parties are not permitted, and people refrain from cutting their hair or having sexual relations. From the first to the ninth of Av, it is customary to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine and from wearing new clothing. All of these actions are considered a luxury and inappropriate for a time of mourning. Visiting cemeteries is highly encouraged to tighten the sadness. Uniquely on Tisha B’Av, Torah study, meant to be joyful, is not permitted. Some parts of the Bible or Talmud are allowed, like Job or Jeremiah.
Bottom line, the community grieves together.
Now, whatever your ritual or history or beliefs may be… we all feel pain. And we all crave to be understood. Which begs the question:
What DO we do with all this pain? More and more comes every day.
I’ve learned that first, you have to process it and acknowledge it. And then you forgive it. You forgive BOTH sides of the story… you forgive others, and then you forgive yourself.
It’s not easy to admit the truth, especially when some of it has been blocked out potentially. And sometimes, we need a little help doing that. Usually this is easier said than done, and that’s why we developed these communal places to grieve and morn, where it is done in a group setting, facilitated even sometimes. In our communities.
That is exactly what the Temple at Burning Man is designed to do. Organically. No religion. No priest. Just community.
This year, I’m ramping up for my fifth Burning Man, and my mother who recently was told about the Temple at Burnin Man, informed me that she is ready to make the pilgrimage.. NEXT YEAR. “Wow, I thought… just when I was thinking maybe I should do something else with my time…”. And yet, why did she want to go all of a sudden?
To my surprise, because someone explained to her the grieving process that happens at Burning Man, at many of the various temples in fact. It’s such an important piece of the journey that is so often overlooked, and something I am greatly looking forward to spending some time at this year. And someday, maybe I can even bring my momma to this sacred place, one that is different every year.
It’s worth mentioning that “the” temple isn’t the only temple at burning man; in fact there are several. I’m honored to be working with this team a bit this year on the playa called Bee Divine . This honey-combed shape temple at Burning Man will guide people into embodying the Divine Feminine through ritual and holding space. “The art piece developed into a large-scale interactive temple that would hold interactive ritual theater,” said creator, Elizabeth Huebner. ” I wanted to create a beautiful temple, but I also wanted to explore how we can choose to create sacred experiences through the use of our own will and imagination.”
In an effort to create sacred space and hold myself accountable for something meaninful, I’ll be working a shift at the Bee Divine and leading my Israeli-inspired Lotus Flower Forgiveness Movement Meditation Ritual at this hive at 7:00 am on Friday morning at Sunrise (location TBA). In the meantime, no #FOMO, If you have something you need to let go of, no time like the present to metamorphosize! #beedivine #callitin #justaskhow
In the name of letting go, I am also really excited to be bringing my first piece of true art this year to the burn, introducing: GRACE …. the cutest baby fire you’ve always wanted! Come, help me feed her, keep her warm, keep her dry, and burn bright all week long. Participants will be invited to help keep the baby alive throughout the week by feeding her wood chips and ascribing an intention to each bite they deliver to her furnace.
You can come find Grace mostly around Center Camp and Pandora’s Bike and Fix it Shoppe at Rod’s Road and 4:30 …. Also we will be at the EL Diablo lighting ceremony Monday Sundown at Center Camp that Crimson Rose leads and possibly even at the main Man Burn event, if the baby can hang! Remember… doing sacred should also be silly… that’s the key to working your way through challenging times. Make it special.
I want to say a special thank you to my lovely friend and playmate TJ Lee for taking my idea and helping make it a reality! Also want to thank Dan Brown for suggesting I make my “fire on wheels” idea into a baby carriage when we were watching the man burn last year …. the world works in mysterious ways! Sometimes you watch it burn from the front row, sometimes you watch it burn from the back row, but it’s all about who you’re standing with that matters.
If I’ve learned one thing about the art of attachment (or lack there of), it is that the more you love, the more you will grieve, it is that simple. Budda knew it. The more you want something, the more it will hurt when it’s gone. And so we make choices based on how much we are willing to risk our hearts. Keep this in mind as you move forward day to day; how much of yourself you give away and in exchange for what.
I encourage you to not shy away from that which you love, but rather, love with a healthy intention and with compassion. You never know when someone is grieving, and THEY themselves might not even know it either. But love and grief are real, it is physical, it’s emotional, and it’s going to happen.
It’s time to start dealing with it. And please know, that you are never alone. Reach out anytime, I always make myself available when it’s important.
New Album called Sermony | Ceremony Coming Soon in 2020!
When someone asks you “what’s your favorite city”, you can bet your bottom dollar that anybody who has ever been to Burning Man undoubtedly will come out with “Black Rock City, is my favorite city”. Anyone who disagrees, I’m guessing that it USED to be their favorite city, and then the cultural direction shifted. Now what?
Oh, how we let our cities define us. The culture we create is directly and deeply interwoven with each city’s unique personality, as in any culture or group of people. We used to have our culture and communities be the focal point from which to dictate our whole lives and interactions. Ceremonies and celebrations were timed by the moon and nature’s seasonal flow. Our communities WERE our education systems, our entertainment forms, and the workforce. WE were the ECONOMY… the economy didn’t define us.
Fast forward to 2019, we couldn’t be further away from that model of life. They say that a tribe usually consists of about 256 people. That’s how many people one person actively keep track of, sincerely. 5,000 is the friends limit on Facebook, and to be honest I don’t know who most of you are anyway. Staying in touch has become so impersonal, we tend to fill up our cups with meaningless banter and scroll-past memes mores than genuine human interaction, whereas at Burning Man, it’s quite the opposite. The emphasis is on the human interaction and not so much on their credibility (who you are and where you’re from). The truly ironic thing about living in the Bay Area, which so happens to be the headquarters of the Burning Man office and social climate, is that we’re surrounded by all this culture, but there’s very little real community. There’s no village, no hub, no center camp for which to commune. And that’s making it really difficult for millennials (and everyone else dare I say) to make friends and have a life outside of work, let alone raise children.
I want my “Cheers” damnit. I want my village. My vibe tribe. I want my center camp at which to commune twice a day. I want to build a new city, and one that doesn’t have to go away after ten days.
Co-creating, the ultimate mission, is our lot in life. At Burning Man, everything is in a constant state of creation; of evolution. Art, is how you create culture and evolve it. Inventing new concepts and revisiting the old. Rewriting the rules as we see fit. Why not? If gravity changed, wouldn’t you adjust as best you could? One could say that the same thing is happening with evolution itself…it’s moving faster than we can document or understand, and possibly moving us back towards old ways of life. That is hard to suppress or make sense of for some of us. Sure, some people would prefer to stay ignorant and “asleep”, while the rest of us, are slowly waking you up. Which life are you living?
It’s no secret, Burning Man is on the forefront of creating and defining culture, in a new sense. Like a quantum particle, always changing, always desecrating and then recreating itself different and better; we have continued to ebb and flow with the changing dynamic that is human existence. Now, our mission is to change the culture.
So what exactly does it mean to change the culture? To push the envelope of precipice? To actively seek out the new and refine it, while still relating to the old…. It’s quite a lot to carry, that’s for sure. Especially when met with so much resistance.
The Ten Principles of Burning Man have helped us understand what it means to be a part of a culture and to change it. That can look like simply participating, actively or showing up, even for the messy part. It can mean being self-reliant and self-expressive, even at the expense of being misunderstood . It means taking chances where no one said it was possible; isn’t that what we are all here to do?
Speaking of the impossible, in the Bay Area community, many reflect upon the somewhat recently shattered communities: Ghost Ship and Paradise Fire. Here we saw very vibrant cohabitation brought down to nothing but ash. The community took action. A few months later, FEMA “stepped in” to ASK some of the active Burners Without Borders leaders and for advice. “What do we do?” they asked. With no money and no resources. “Help.” There’s more to that story I don’t know all the details, but it sets the stage for our collective power and wisdom that could be the change many of us are seeking, if we are brave enough to face it. When there is a task to do, Burners can figure it out and get it done; and then light it on fire if need be.
It’s a delicate place to be. Abiding by our principles, we have to be careful not to exclude anybody or anything. Where does that leave us when people mess up or disagree? Perhaps it’s possible to shift what change looks like:
Let’s take the Tenderloin district in San Francisco’s downtown. Some say the Tenderloin got it’s name because street dwellers and slingers used to bribe the San Francisco police department with steaks and other cuts of meat in order for them to keep their mouths shut and turn a blind eye. (How do you even fact check this? I didn’t; it’s too funny)
Today, walking through the Tenderloin is like walking through the worst horror movie ever written. It’s a living nightmare. I was driving through the streets a few weeks ago and I saw a lively dark skinned man shaking a paint can vigorously with a large group around him. I looked closer, expecting to see him huffing paint, but as the moment passed I could see he was indeed spray painting on the wall behind him, telling stories to go with the motions. People gathered round and listened with interest and desire for human interaction written on their faces and I thought to myself, “THAT is how you change the culture. With art. You rewrite the stories with new lessons, and the art is what allows people to HEAR those messages”
So what if Burning Man is holding the spray can, or the paint brush? What if it’s our turn to rewrite this story of love and kindness and truth? What if we could teach the world how to live together in peace in tribes? How to share and learn from each other and live with art and fun as our focus instead of fear and anger.
Burning Man is no stranger to art. But how do we harness the art? What ARE we trying to say? Personally, what are the conversations we need to have in our lives to deal with our criticisms and understand the other side? We cannot keep going down this anti-global-warming rabbit hole for a second longer.
If I have learned a few things about my time with Burning Man and developing my own leadership skills around community organizing, I can say this: Don’t start the fight if you’re not willing to be the bigger person. Don’t let the need to be right over shadow the desire to get along.
“Being offended should always be the beginning of a conversation, not the end of it,” Said Jamie Dewolf of Tourettes Without Regrets, the legendary variety show in Oakland, CA.
And I am here, to piss you off. To challenge you. In order to push the envelope, we must first open it!
My grandfather always told me, “we’re not arguing, we are brainstorming”.
So, let the brainstorms begin. And the action to follow. Tell me, what are you purveying?
“Creating all this drama while running from our trauma” Professor Nightlife Jones
“Despite all my rage, Im still just a rat in a cage!” – Jai Love
I’ve come to love the sound of the recycling jingling in and out of cans outside my bedroom window on the street below…. not because of the environmental implications, I mean, but because it sounds like home. My home, now. Life on Clement. 94118. I chose this very place, of all the towns and cities in the United States, I picked here. The Inner Richmond. Why? Many reasons. Fate. Chance. Coupled with my proximity to work in Tiburon at the synagogue, and for a variety of other factors involving landscape, environment, proximity and creativity, this is my home of choice. My sanctuary. My center. The eye of my storm.
That’s not to say I don’t doubt myself everyday. Did I make the right choice? Pick the right city? The right job? The right part of town. I KNOW that I picked the right partner, thank goodness, and I am grateful everyday for that clarity. So why have I been so…. disillusioned? So unhappy. What more could I want?
Yes, I do miss my family. But I like it here. I like who I have become. I’m not as sweet as I used to be, but much kinder and smarter, I’d like to think. Rougher. More careful with my energy and time and space. Protective. A mamma bear. I work out now, sort of. I actively DON’T eat cheese at every meal. I don’t smoke… near as much as I used to. I don’t weigh myself down with unnecessary bullshit and small talk with people I don’t care about. So where are these giant waves of sadness coming from? Are they a part of me? Or maybe much bigger than me? Generations larger than I can possibly comprehend, it seems.
And I am open to it. I asked to understand, the human condition. I remember at six-years-old asking for answers of the universe. I read Conversations with God and the Four Agreements at an early age, and lots of other spirituality self help type books that seemed reasonably informative. I remember adults protecting me from the truth, for the same damn reasons we protect our own hearts and tune out our own minds when it’s convenient, which is more often than not these days. Every night we feel the need to turn the volume up or down, it seems. To alter our current state, because reality is not pretty.
And sure, we can blame it on mercury in retrograde, or the solar storms, or claim we are just products of our environment, and that’s nice, to put a name on it. A blame. “Survival of the fittest”, gone wrong. Of course, I am not niave enough to think it is all outside consequences no, I am open to it being all my fault. By no means is my life perfection; though I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The amount of beauty and joy I have been shown far outweighs and exceeds the haunting of mistakes and misdeeds, that me and those who came before have scored. Everything we know is constantly in a stage of flux and transition; growing, changing, building, maintaining. Disruption. Creation. On repeat. New twist. Developed plots thicken. We grow sicker. We discover a cure. It is true, that I have grown sicker, weaker, sadder. And it has been very hard for me to admit that to myself, because once you give it power, then it changes, right?
Upon reflecting of my past, my relationships gone wrong, friendships failed, I have grown discouraged. Though admitting your mistakes is the first step to changing the future. Please know that if I haven’t followed through or reached out to you lately, and I was supposed to, please forgive me. Life has been like a god damn tornado. I lived my whole life in Kansas thinking I’d never seen a tornado, until I got to San Francisco and realized that the tornado was all around me. I was the calm.
Somehow, I’ve thrown myself out of orbit. What was once an eye is now a limb, a gust, an upheaval of old foundation crumbled to new. As I continue to stumble down this dumbfounded road, seeing new walks of life, some pristine and some soot, I recognize my own depression is a result of years of neglect and emotional instability, from my own actions but also from the gusts of wind from other storms, other atmospheres, colliding. Exhausted. Worn.
The storm comes and goes, and so does my vulnerability. As I continue to try and be as present and available to others all the while taking care of my own sanity. I want to do more. I aim to do more. I will not give up on doing more, for myself and for my community.
Sometimes it is as simple as switching your medication.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as saying something. Speaking up.
Saying I’m sorry if you have to.
Admitting your truth and finding your next step.
Sourcing the pain, so you can work on healing the wound.
My friend taught me a learning recently. She said “Sara, you’ve been so open, you’re forgetting to protect yourself”. And then she taught me to clear. After years of being an empath, I now am aware of the consequences of neglecting that power.
“Thank you (insert higher being here)
for clearing all draining and negative energy chords
in all directions of time. “
» three deep breaths – then follow with «
“Thank you (insert higher being)
for shielding me with 1000 feet of silver light
in all directions of time. And so it is”
-From April King_
Ripples that we make go everywhere, in all directions. We make them constantly- some microscopic and some so big we can’t even see that it’s a wave.
I Invite you, to be careful what you put in motion, as it may not turn out like you thought. You may not even be thinking about it consciously at all. Luck is chance and fate is a game. Back and forth. Sometimes you win sometimes you loose and you don’t have to play. You choose to feel it all or feel nothing. Both have consequence. Balance is only possible with out attachment and then constant upkeep of the body soul and mind / space we occupy. None of it matters and it all matters we all could argue reasoning for both. We are that enlightened. And yet we are our own enemy. We hold each other back. We fight the way of nature. We protect what we have know we hold onto tradition and the sacred for dear life maybe for a good reason maybe not. Sometimes both. The complexities of chance and fate and intentions at work here are astronomical unpredictable. The equation is long and the ripples are strong. Waves so big you may not even notice it.
In this day of age we are all ripe and raw. We are BOTH sides of the coin and the paradox. We are all misconceptions. We could all argue both sides of the fence. So be careful what you say and always tell the truth. If you have the facts and integrity and kindness you will come out ahead and if for no one else but yourself. Be your own karma. Don’t forget to breath through it all. I love you. I’m working it out just as you are. Maybe you’ve learned something and have something to teach me. Don’t hold back; please, we need your voice.
“It’s about planting a seed, letting it grow
Nourish it, flourish is, give it grow, flow,
Water it down until the roots take hold
from the leaves on the trees to our breaks get old
Cultivate relationship millions of years,
Keep it strong, erase thereof fears.
Don’t you let no producer tell you that you can’t,
Just make sure you’re careful which seeds you plant”
-MissConception, 2009, Plantin’ a Seed-
Friends and loved ones: This is a poem I wanted to share that I wrote when I was in high school and was considering what it would be like to not grow up. I saw back then and now how fucked up and sad this world was even from a child’s perspective, and I felt it all. I still do. Many of us do. We feel every abusive relationship, every neighbor grudge, even if they are not our own. Every fear tactic, every mass shooting and every war. Every disease. When you feel it all, you just want to feel nothing, and that’s how I felt when I was 16 and just wanted to crash my car into a tree. What were my problems then really? They paled in comparison to what I and many struggle with now and what the world is enduring I imagine. So I wrote this letter, as many of us do/did, to everyone I loved, and in reality everyone who I hated, at the same time. This is in no way a reflection of the relationships that I have or had with these people, but more an overall arching of the opposite of the way I felt, and how much anger, even then, I felt from this cruel and yet beautiful world. Even surrounded by LOVE. Think of what we could overcome, if we all were to listen to each other, and process, rather than black out and shame. Here’s to reducing the stigma and talking about depression instead of hiding from it. -MissConvinced
Thank you for letting me die before you.
I know you never wanted to see this day through
before your own
but this vehicle has crashed,
my body has been thrown.
Thank you for giving me everything you’ve ever done for me.
Funneling your hard earned profit into my college funding –
For raising the sun out of your ass,
and for buying me this car so I could crash
it in front of my mother’s home
so she could see how much I hate
driving down this road alone.
Dear Brother –
Thank you for never taking the time to hang out with me,
I know you had shit to do, we were both busy.
Maybe you never wanted to know me anyway because after this
I am just one less person for you to miss.
Dear Grandma Carol and Papa Sid,
Thank you for raising a rockstar instead of a kid –
For leading me to believe that all of life was one big,
yet very serious joke
and now I’m spoiled and broke…
I have all this SHIT and no where to go
when all I really want is to just go home.
Dear Bubbie Esther–
Thank you for giving me the opportunity
to stand in your shoes so I can see
just how great a depression can be once more…
After all, we are both products of a nasty war…
and while your strength resides in my backbone core.
I’m not sure I can carry this legacy any further anymore.
Dearest unborn child of my throne –
Thank for your patience in womb;
for allowing all of those who came before you to atone, |while I quietly bitch and groan…
Fighting so hard for a soul I didn’t even know
and I’m not even sure I can save my own
to ensure you’re happily ever after so for now
I’ll just talk to me:
The girl herself doesn’t even really know…
I’m not sure of I’ll make it out cold
or surrounded by loved ones of my bone,
but I can still stick-shift down this gratitude road,
Into the unknown, and hope… that I am not alone.
I used to think falling in love was the key to happiness… you think you learn every thing you need to know as a little girl… “he’ll be on a horse, just before midnight; I’ll be wearing white, and it will be happily ever after”. Right?
And then… you grow up.
Reality smacks you in the face, and if you’re paying attention, you realize that if you really want to fall in love in a HEALTHY way, you must find that happiness and love within yourself first. Quintessential, yes, just as the love itself is. A perfect mix of idealism and reality. There are no shortcuts. There’s no magic pill or perfect weight that suddenly grants you the divine agape soulmate twin flame type of love you read about in the romance novels. You do the work for you; you get to that place where you are SO ecstatic to NOT be in a shitty to relationship, to be FREE, and that’s when true love finally has the opportunity to open itself to you. Even then, it’s not a guarantee.
In the meantime, while it’s incredibly difficult to wait it out and trust yourself in this divine plane, in all actuality, if you are not madly in love with yourself, then you have no business trying to love or support another human, a partner, let alone a child. Even if it NEVER happens in this lifetime, don’t you still want to be THAT happy, that it doesn’t even matter? I do. And every day is an effort to meet myself in that place.
So many people are miserable in relationships, and also miserable alone. Loneliness is a slow death that will kill anyone’s spirit faster than it will kill a body; but what good is a body without a spirit alive? Falling in love with yourself, all the while letting go of attachment to things and places and ideas that will in theory ‘make you happy’ requires a good dose of proactivism; meaning, you’re going to have to go out and get it. You can’t sit passively and wait for love to find you. FIND yourself. I dare you.
We look at couples who have been together for years and think, “Why them? How come they get to be so happy together and in their relations? Why do they deserve it?”
First of all, if you are still thinking like that, then you’re not there, or ready. You still have work to do within loving yourself. Once you’re there, you won’t CARE who has what relationship or why they deserve it more than you.
Also, what we often fail to see are the sacrifices, or choices, one makes to be in love, truly. It requires a selfless that comes from selfishly loving yourself first; then that selfishness turns INTO selflessness for others. Loving another means not always doing exactly what you want because you’re putting someone else’s needs right up there with yours, which can look like a chore, but one that shouldn’t ever bring resentment. This applies to familiar love, and the same goes for romantic love; there comes a point when someone else’s happiness becomes just as necessary for your happiness, though not dependent on it. The second you depend on another to fill up your cup, that is the moment your cup will drain, and continue to drain, unless you re-learn to fill it up yourself. This happens on a micro and macro scale.
So, how do we will up our cups? One bite at a time. With a daily dose of self love and self care. Eventually, when you start giving yourself SO much self love, you will begin to expect it. You deserve it. You already know all the ways; don’t let it overwhelm you. Remember your worth; stop giving your power away to other people – that is never true love. YOU live in your power and in your own divine agape love. Once you’re there, then we can talk matchmaking.
Anything you would give a partner, give to yourself. Anything you would WANT from another, choose to be that. Too many people are sitting around waiting for love to find them, wondering why it isn’t happening. When was the last time you went to the gym, or got yourself a pedicure? “Money’s tight,” you say? Work out a work-trade for your local gym membership, or take up a part time job with all the free time you have not dating somebody and start saving those pennies for a well earned vacation and spa retreat. Take yourself somewhere exotic. Push yourself to harness your creativity and freedom to make the most of this trip around the sun, even if it’s alone. We are born alone. We die alone. And in the meantime, we have all of these fabulous souls to get to know and experience on a daily basis! Start inside. Work your way out by walking your talk. The only thing you’ll have to regret, is your own disappointment. Start now before it’s too late, and remember, it’s never too late to love yourself!
And Happy Valentines Day,
I’ve noticed myself having been in a terrible mood as of lately, not shocking considering the state of affairs globally. Usually I’m an upbeat person. I don’t have too much to be upset about; considering the depths of depression I’ve been to, I’m doing alright. I am not angry with anybody (grateful for this). I don’t think any one is upset with me (fingers crossed). I’m not injured (more blessings). Though I am in a city of grey smoke and dark skies, old wounds have since turned into scars, all of this I still find encouragement enough to face some glaringly apparent realities. Your pain is still my pain. Your challenges still mine. And until we are all given the same freedoms and treatment, we must continue to stand up for what is right when there is so much wrong out there. We can do better. We must do better to honor our brothers and sisters. And to heal is going to require a whole lot of medicine. There is a reason medicine usually tastes bitter; it’s often a hard pill to seallow. The question is: how badly do we want to be healed? Are you willing to put in the work?
If you believe in evolution and the survival of the fittest notion, then it makes sense to me that before us monkies found the mushrooms, we were quite uncivilized. One species dominated others and the food chain fell accordingly. As some became more aware, others stayed ignorant and knew less about right or wrong. In today’s modern day of information it seems that ignorance is a choice. If you’re paying any attention at all today, you can’t help but see through the bullshit and hope for a better world.
Seeing the dark morale and destructive repercussions of both Mother Nature and Man Kind alike, the future of our planet and species does not look entirely promising. As a past and somewhat “safe” period of existence crumbles and dies, newer forces of power make way. Though it’s easy to tune out and look the other direction, much easier, while to look our current position in the face with conviction requires great strength and patience, as well as I’d say a healthy dose of unselfish empathy.
Unpacking all of this, I recognize that I have been angry, cruel with my thoughts, harsh with my loved ones, and down on my own self worth. Mad at the government. Annoyed at co-workers undeservingly. Introverted and quiet. I haven’t been able to be there for others, and for all of this I am sorry. This is my mission, to call it out, and change the path. I am grateful for those in my life who have been kind with me and still reminded me that I am/we are love(d). Simple phone calls and messages go so far these days. A true friend is a blessing, and often helps the medicine go down sweetly, despite being so bitter.
Speaking of medicine, I learned SO much this week at the Chacruna Women in Psychedelics conference, even though it was a reminder of how far we still have to go in the name of justice, it was inspiring to say the least. We have work to do, kids, and it starts with individuals making commitments.
The conference began with an informative conversation on how the drug war affects women initially, which moved into a specific conversation on sexual abuse predominantly in the ayahuasca community. Ethical touch and consent policies are currently becoming more and more relevant in these doctrines, as the conversation continues in such grey areas of practice.
Women in Psychedelics Conference
Practice; everything is and can be a practice. Whatever you learn and discover can be turned into a practice depending on how often you should do it and how committed you are to the practice. Yoga you could practice daily. Brushing your teeth twice or more. Practice playing an instrument or saying prayers.
Kathleen Harrison broke down the logistics of how the practice of psychedelics began. The origin of women in psychedelics essentially began with the 1840s feminist movement. Mind you, birth control wasn’t legal until the mid 1900s, and LSD was slowly creeping onto the scene. When JFK was assassinated in 1963, that shattered the hearts of many young people in America, and the result of that anger, coupled with the Vietnam war draft, the birth of LSD, and then the resurfacing of birth control, all gave birth to the free love movement we know today.
The summer of love in 1968 brought about a release and a desire to explore. With birth control now readily available, the use of LSD in the music scene became rampant and hormones were raging.
Using LSD as a ‘party drug’, and really any medicinal molecule that is abused, can cause great cracks in the psyche. These splits can either help us or destroy us. “That which can heal you can also kill,” said Michelle Corbin”. We all know someone who has taken one two many hits and never come back. It’s only unfortunate we don’t have the resources as a society in place to deal with overt mental illness that can on set quickly when one is not careful with their sacraments. While many hippies were abusing said substances that were still legal at the time, others were tuning into the healing power and sustenance that the LSD molecule invokes. “We were trying to refigure how society could operate for the good of the collective,” Harrison said. “Right now the world is in a rut and that is leading to even more suffering. This reality is screaming for a deeper, collective, feministic vision” to intervene, Harrison explained.
“Psychedelics tend to bing a very feminine energy. The great grandmother of wisdom, was invited into the atmosphere, and she began speaking, loudly, if you care to listen.
“Psychedelics themselves are feminine; arising from a deep need of earth and life and to know itself. Precious tools we humans can receive. Use it to investigate yourself to find where you’re hurting and what you need to heal. Then emerge as a new person, then turn to caring for the community.” -Kathleen Harrison
LSD allows the seeker to see invisible structure, the bones, that hold everything up what we assume is reality. They bring out the patterns. And once you know the way a system works, you can change it, but only then. Small parts of society can begin to make resonant changes.
Too much power can lead to psychopathy. We must ask ourselves, where am I not using my agency? Where am I giving it away?”
Michelle Corbin gave a powerful talk on healing toxic masculinity in a woke world. She spoke of the personal being political: the feminist possibilities of psychedelic praxis. “What’s if we could reframe rape as a men’s issue instead of a women’s problem,” Corbin said.
Top ten tips to end rape … if you’re a man.
“What would it mean to have a medicine that can cure toxic masculinity?,” Corbin said. Let them dig up their own rage and anger that keep these social and political construct machines going. Privilege can be blinding, and step one is admitting you have a problem, before the medicine can be used properly. This also begs the concept touched on at the beginning of this article; how to keep medicinal practices ethical and safe.
How can we, safely, use these visionary states to look at engrained structures and figure out how they can change? What habits and structures are within each of us that we haven’t yet looked at? How can we look at these dominating systems with different lenses? This is how you disassemble cultural programing. Why would anybody want to do that? Disassemble cultural programming…
So often the worth of the female voice is misinterpreted. If you’re too quiet you’re week. If you speak up too much its competition. Women must be careful what story you tell, especially concerning the mainstream. The opposite of mainstream is the underground, which one can also argue is feminine in nature: it’s horizontal like mycelium, it connects everyone and holds everything together. Nothing can take it down. The underground is a rich nourishing long term project that won’t disappear easily. It holds a different kind of information of not just goods but actual experience and information. It often transmits by oral tradition because it is illegal sometimes and not always published. For years, the understand has held and continues to hold these sorts of conversations about psychedelics and medicine, and it was suggested at this talk to continue with this sort of community intention.
Presenter Sara Reed was in the middle of her moving telling of how MDMA changed her life and the life of almost 2/3 of participants in a clinical study with MDMA and PTSD. Participants took MDMA in three controlled settings, with three meetings before and in between each session to progress with a licensed professional. At the end of the study 68% of participants no longer had PTSD.
Sara Reed also went through the study herself, so that she could better understand as a psychologist how to use this tool. She said that of the many lessons learned, what stuck out most was how powerful of a tool this could be for anybody who has gone through trauma. “It’s not about fixing yourself, instead learning to love the complexities within you. Home is where the performance stops and play begins with endless possibilities,” Reed said.
The BIG QUESTION that many researchers and presenters kept coming back to in all of their work was: “What are we learning here? That is what this project is about. “What is the awareness we can bring to this challenging future?”
So what have we learned here? First you must look at what your toxic assumptions are. Know what is out there to be gathered, gather it carefully. Get your roots tapped into where good information comes to you. Look at these gifts in this way, dive deep and be careful when you ascend: when the ordinary becomes non ordinary. Value community and your resources collectively within. The best way to become a master? Master yourself. And when you’re triggered, breath through it. Be relational, not reaction.
Thinking about what there is to learn from each other, and ourselves, let alone these molecules got me fired about up about the idea of learning about these sacraments more in depth WITH my community, local and beyond.
What does that look like? The last speaker of the night really bated my breath when she told us that it’s time to “stop sucking on the tit of our lies”. Jodie Evans explained that it’s time to stop supporting this “war economy” that is so convenient and easy for the white man, and instead to start promoting a peace economy. Which means investing in quality, resources, community conversations, connection, pleasure, interdependence, sharing and abundance. Kathleen encouraged us saying: one of the quickest ways to make these moves is to commit to a group practice with your community: Moral Mondays. She challenged us to for nine months get together with your people to discuss one topic or another, and let the vacuum of creation take hold. Make it your practice, and see what unfolds.
This gave me my idea. Every month, let’s pick a molecule, a sacrament, a compound, and let’s go in, together. Let us study and learn from each ogher. If say one said molecule of the week isn’t your thing, then you can just observe, that’s fine, too. Pick your participation and do what you can. For example, let’s say one week we pick tobacco. If you don’t use tobacco, don’t start by all means. But you may want to carry some around with you, burn it like sage, feel it’s power and see if it does anything for you. One women on the panel shared how tobacco is one of the more sacred plants in history, often used with prayers and songs while “reading” people, blowing the smoke over their heads while receiving insights.
Let us talk to the plants, and let’s let them talk to us. Once we have worked our way collectively (either in person, or online, via chat video group, etc) we will then begin attaching molecules to issues. For example, maybe one evening we will pair a micro-dose with the issue of the political system construct, or perhaps whisky and ethics. We will decide together what next week’s practice will be, and we will learn as much as we can with the comfort of our chosen community. If you wish to do this in your town, with your people, please do. We’ll call it Going A-WAWL: “And What Are We Learning”
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” -Lilla, Aboriginal Elder and Activist to set out a challenge for people working towards social justice. At the end of the discuss evening talk on psychedelics, a ball of string was passed around, each participant instructed to take the string, wrap it around their wrist and then pass it on to the next person, over and over again until the room became a web. This string activity was to remind us that we are all held in the arms of the grandmother. Our actions affect everybody around us. Jodie Evans said “when we remember that we are all connected we act in a very different way. Each day waking up is a practice, wake up daily.”
Sitting with my own frustration and negativity, I was reminded that once we finally have the patience to sit with the darkness, what needs to happen will come. I woke up, again that day. And a little more everyday sinfe.
It rained today in California, bringing a sense of temporary relief and quiet. The air was cleaner. I felt a bit better. Deep breaths and open hearts blossomed on this season of gratitude. As we move into this dark season of what many consider to be “holy days”, I ask that we all be more mindful that while some people are celebrating, others are in mourning. There is space for both, to comfort and rejoice. Enjoy the moments of stillness while we can. Take a healthy dose of your own medicine. Don’t forget to spread some love where you would least expect it, please.
PS please forgive me and correct me if any information is mistaken or misquoted.