We’ve arrived. It’s 2020 and we are literally all fucking our own burns (a common phrase burners use in snarky satire, though it’s generally more of a term of endearment.) But here we are, 2020, “The Multiverse” is here, and all of our burns are fucked. For a good reason, too. Everything extracurricular SHOULD be on hold while the world (achem, excuse me, AMERICA) get’s it’s act together. It’s embarrassing we’ve let it get on this far out of hand, this toxic hold that congress has held over it’s citizens. It’s the perfect storm of a revolution. Almost as if someone or something was behind it all?
It’s honestly everything we could have ever dreamed about as far as apocalyptic criteria goes. We are smack dab in the middle of a shit-show reality fan-fare fuck fest of egos. If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention. And if you’re an artist, you’re trying to figure out how the fuck we are supposed to make any light of this all? Are we allowed to make light? Is light needed? Or maybe, we need to sit with the darkness for a while?
By now, we’ve probably all found our “safe spaces”… whatever “that” means for you. You’ve found your own weird coping mechanisms, what works & what doesn’t. You’ve learned what you can live with, and what’s a deal breaker (some are learning faster than others). Maybe it’s your mate, your best friend, or your mother that, has been your lifeline. Maybe it’s your theme camp of best friends group chat on Facebook that is keeping your chin up during the epic flood (I hear Elon is building an ark that doubles as a submarine). “Just keep treading water”
Or maybe, it’s good humor keeping you sane during this “what’s supposed to just be a phase” flu season of pandemic greatness. Maybe it’s your dog, or your job keeping you alive? Maybe it’s alcohol and Instagram that passes your time and offers you a sense of temporarily relief from the ratchet outside. Some of you are kayaking; nature is how you escape. Others are wallowing in shame and self-defeat, knowing better, but searching for a deeper rock bottom. It’s the “I really should recycle this jar, but I just can’t even give a fuck right now” general consensus that’s gnawing at our insides. Pick your poison; you’re not alone.
Usually, it’s some fantastic cocktail combo of heaven and hell that’s just tasty enough to continue to sip, nay, savor, to make it all palatable. Still the side effects cannot be ignored forever. The iceberg is dead ahead. We can’t keep eating bullshit for dinner any more. We are all thirsty for security, and at the same time justice; hungry for truth, or something remotely palatable to feel worthy of our own existence. We all want the truth, but at what expense?
So, are you leaning into your vices, or standing up to them?
I would bet that we all are leaning HARD into our coping mechanisms right about now. Whether that’s battling work, the deer in your garden, or depression. We are all out here trying to find something to live for, let alone something to die for. And to do this, we heave learned to turn to the gurus that have come before us, as we look for answers. What the FUCK are we supposed to be doing on this rock? “What can we do to help the world be a better place?” When I ask myself that question, I keep getting led back to the same thing. It starts with you. It all starts with you.
We are supposed to be doing?… The answer: ourselves. Ding Ding DING! Taking care of OURSELVES is our first priority, let alone governing our networks; it’s a full time job. If you take care of yourself properly, then the “governing of our neighborhoods” tends to shake out in the logistics, which you can observe with the study case of Black Rock City. A place where everyone takes care of themselves, while also having communal and civic responsibility to take care of others to fall back on.
Ahh, Burners, not only did we draw the map, get the permit, and bring the dance party; we also have a handbook. We have written the playbook: The Ten Principles – a brief but detailed guide to taking care of YOUR shit.
Let’s review the stuff.
1. Decomodification – No more cultural exploitation of stuff
2. Immediacy – Live in the NOW stuff
3. Participation – Take part in the stuff that interests you
4. Self Reliance – Take care of your own stuff
5. Self Expression – Strut your stuff
6. Leave No Trace – Leave no stuff behind
7. Civic Responsibility – Get involved with law and order stuff
8. Gifting – Give stuff away when you can
9. Communal Effort – Help out with stuff
10. Radical Inclusion – Anyone can participate in this stuff
11. Consent – ALWAYS with this stuff
12. Take it Outside – spread this stuff around – just DO SOMETHING!
Some principles are easier to learn and interpret and we can innately attribute value to it such as: Gifting – the art of giving freely with nothing in return. Who would have thought there was value in giving something away? That’s an easy one to start with if you’re looking for a way to bring a bit of the burner spirit into your life. What can you afford to give away? Challenge: Give something away that is unexpected, and see what happens. (Don’t forget to pay attention to the ripples, or not.)
Let’s take the principle of: Inclusion – we all know how it feels to notice someone on the outskirts and bring them into community. We know how it felt to be left out and lost; alone. Let’s challenge each there to look around and pay attention to what needs it. I invite you to consider: “When was the last time you did something inclusive, or forced yourself to participate in something that made you uncomfortable?” Here we are, feeling uncomfortable about being uncomfortable again. SIT WITH IT. Ask it questions. Work through it. When we continue to ignore what so obviously needs attention, it gets worse. That’s Karma.
Self-expression and self-reliance are obvious principles in concept, but not easy, and sometimes scary to embody. There is times to explore the inner soul workings of expression and of preparedness in life, which can take years to skim.
We may never master them completely, but the more I look at the principles and try to tackle them personally, the more I realize just how much work there is to do if you just look around your neighborhood. Before you look outside, start inside, and some of us, some of us need a program.
So, What step are you on? Let’s work ‘em. Together if you like?
So pick one… Have you mastered your leaving no trace habits (always a daily practice)? When I ask myself “am I truly acting upon my civic responsibility?” the answer is generally “well you can always do more”. And God forbid we look at immediacy these days it’s practically slapping us in the face constantly. I can’t look away. Do I have enough money and food to eat today? Do I have a roof over my head? “Yes”. Ok. That is more than sufficient and I should be grateful for another day. Coming from someone who has been a life-long habitual planner and slave to calendars and lists, it is foreign territory to not have a schedule to worry about as a crutch for my insatiable need to be productive. To do MORE. Communal effort calls… and while it’s sometimes difficult to interpret what it’s saying, and it’s calling your name right now to get out into the street and DO something that makes the world, ever-so-slightly a better place. Please. “We need all hands on deck for setting up camp. This means you.”
People are jumping in with unexpected skills. This is where creativity and out of the box thinking is a welcome sport. On the decomodification front, a phenomenon is happening in the most obscure ways all over the interwebs. Leave it to the alt TikTok kids to start creating accounts like “OfficialPurell” and “BurgerKingMerchandize” to fuck with the system and take the power back from advertisers trying to capitalize on the creativity of our youth. “Shame on you for thinking you can dupe us for so long” Commodification: the world we live in depends on it. But it doesn’t have to rule our every decision. If you are commodifying, because let’s face it, we’re all capitalists like it or not, then take a look at where you are spending your money. Are we investing in a better world? Trash is a serious matter in this reality, and you better be able to pack out your own.
“You vote with your wallet. Your dollar bill is your ballot ” – Wookie Foot
Thinking and acting local with intention and mindful environmental responsibility has never been more front and center. The time to take a stand for justice and equality has never been more available. It’s almost as if… as if the 2012 Mayan prophecies are all coming to fruition, slowly and painfully. Let that sink in as we switch gears into: The Multiverse and take everything we have learned from Black Rock City and apply it for real; as needed.
It couldn’t get any clearer. Burning Man’s Caveat put out a great article (Burning Man Culture in the Time of the Plague) about the Multi-verse that we have literally manifested for ourselves and that we are now currently building. REAL TIME. Taking the burn “out into the world” without a playa to even look forward to, kind of puts a whole new spin on the realities of this life that we spend so much energy building for ourselves. What if the default would could be different? What’s if there isn’t this make believe alternative reality, but instead, that world is the default?
Right now, I am so fortune that my life is literally turned into a theme camp. My car has become a stage. My clothes are my costumed representation of justice and freedom. The food I eat represents what I want to put into my body… and, yes, I really need to work on my civic responsibility, so that I can assure that everyone in my neighborhood and in this country has the right to a quality life, just as I have.
We owe it to all of those who have died in the face of privileged injustice. We owe it to our ancestors, to put this world back together again, properly.
“We are going to need a bigger temple”
Burning Man Podcast: https://burningman.org/live/
A friend of mine shared this graphic novel of the death rate of the highest causes of death since January, and it is truley alarming:
This is only another reminder of the seriousness of the state of the world it is that we live… this multiverse is complex, and there are many unknown territories to explore, channels to swim, and battlegrounds to cross before we can celebrate our pilgrimage again as burners. Until then, we must yes, bring our burner flare out into the world, but continue to do so with the love and tact and compassion and this revolution needs right now. Our attention to detail. Our humor. Our work ethic. Our kindness and generosity. Those qualities are needed now more than ever. We are all rangers, and we are all here to help. We are all comfortable with the uncomfortable, and it’s time to buckle our seatbelt.
We are not through the finish line with this Pandemic… no, we are crossing this dessert. All of us. It might take many generations, but we are not turning back to the old way of things “working” just fine. Fine is not fine at all any longer. We are not giving in to slavery and warfare and military state intimidation tactics anymore.
Maybe you’re a perfect human being body, who has already mastered all of these steps in a past life and now have one of those convenient holier-than-thou righteous badges proudly on your arm… I beg of you, to please, help teach the world these ways. We must take these principles, these concepts, and gift them freely to anyone and all who are ready leave this toxic relationship for good.
It’s a lot to pack in, and it’s the lightest I’ve ever packed for this burn, now that this burn it’s my LIFE. I never thought that I would miss the dust SO much.
I wonder, does the dust miss us when we are gone?
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’d like to think these hard times are just instilling us with the lessons we will need to be successful later”
Are you taking notes? I sure have been. Many years ago a young lady told me about her issues with Candida, which is when there is an unbalance of yeast overgrowth in the body. What she spoke of was fascinating, but I was skeptical. It sounded “new-agey” and like a lot of hokey-pokey snake oil, but I did some research and the more I learn about the human body and my own system, the more I believe from understanding my friend’s own journey and lessons from ten years ago (Thanks Leigh).
Taking care of oneself is a full time job. I wish someone had explained this when I was younger in school. What DID they teach us anyway? They told us a lot about the “drugs” we were not supposed to take, the scares, the horrors of using “bad drugs” and how it would fuck up your life, but I don’t exactly remember them saying “why”. And then we were taught some about the “good” drugs (aka antibiotics and other man-made chemical formulas) that we were supposed to take to make us well, but they didn’t warn us about the dangers of taking them. You see, when you take an antibiotic, you have to be incredibly careful to make sure to take probiotics with and immediately after. For some this is common knowledge, but I cannot tell you how many times doctors have prescribed me an antibiotic and never said a word about the health of my gut. When you don’t follow the correct protocol, you risk your small intestine over-growing with bad bacteria. These bad gut bacterium in turn eat your nutrients, so that your body doesn’t get them, even when you’re eating a super clean diet.
When I tell you I’ve been sick for over a month, realistically it’s probably been more like a year or two, or 10, that I’ve been dealing with this type of mysterious illness that manifests as chronicle fatigue, not to mention bloating and gas (YAY for my boyfriend, right?) and other GI issues. Yes, I messed up my gut years ago unknowingly, and now I am paying the price. Doctor after doctor has run tests and tell me that “everything looks good”, so I had to start taking matters into my own hands.
What does that look like? Overall I feel okay, I feel “fine”, but I don’t feel GOOD. I’ve been one one of those scary medical googling binges and asking my doctor constantly about this or that; I’m sure he thinks I’m paranoid and crazy, but I stopped caring about that, I just want to feel BETTER.
So I’ve been taking all of the research and knowledge that I have learned on the sidelines over the years about staying healthy, and pulling it together in a full embodied plan for living life, and yes indeed it is a full time job. Many of you have heard me talk about the Whole30, which I am still a huge proponent of, and that sugar/carbs/dairy elimination diet has been the foundation for cleaning out my gut. Healing truly can and has to be done with food… it’s not just a recipe, it’s a lifestyle. It takes time and money… all the money I’m saving by NOT doing drugs, I’m spending on food and supplements, but hey, at least I’m taking care of myself.
Healing is truly a feel time job. Today I took off work because I woke up feeling absolutely exhausted and knowing what I needed to do today would involve not being at work, so I sucked it up and set about continuing on my health cleanse.
This morning, I woke up, took my morning meds which included two tinctures, several multi vitamins, ashwaganda, lysine, and reshi (all spread out by about 20 minutes to give each molecule some alone time to process. I also take aloe with probiotics along with my meal, a mud shot (yes, real MUD to clean the pipes), along with several other oils balms and remedies to try and keep myself on track. This morning, I ran myself an apple cider vinegar bath, while freezing some coconut oil and tea tree suppositories, I also used the mud on my face for a mask, made a hot tea with 40+ medicinal herbs, did some stretches, and this is all on top of the colonic hydro-thearpthy session I had yesterday (now you can understand why I needed to stay home from work!)…. The list goes on. In fact, I CREATED my own “self-care” daily reminder list that goes a little something like this:
NO SUGAR FOR ME THANK YOU!!
Food Prep Weekly
Supplement twice a day
Tinctures twice a week
Probiotics every day – Take aloe with probiotic
Coconut oil pulling
Mud Mask once a week – or mud drink!
Frankincense and tea tree for anti fungal on floor of shower
Coconut Oil Moisturize!
Bath: Epsom salt, sea salt, ginger, baking soda and activated charcoal
Sleep with lavender on my pillow at night
Take magnesium before bed
Ravansara under my toes
Bergamot in the morning on my temples
Iron Ferrus Sulfate 1 pill three times a week
And on occasional colonic 😉
Why do I need a list? Because forming habits is hard, and I need constant reminders of staying on track.
It’s almost 2:00 p.m. and I still have major food prep to do. I’m day 18 on this Candida food cleanse, and I honestly don’t even know what I would do if I didn’t have sick-days to take off work to focus on my health right now. Being and staying healthy is truly the most important and more difficult part of our lives….one bite at a time.
It’s also much easier when it’s a GROUP EFFORT. As always, feel free to post your recipes and ideas for staying healthy or treating Candida in the comments section below. I learn from you, and we learn from each other, that’s how this works.
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?
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’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.