Friday, December 30, 2011

Pep-Talk to Myself

 I could not conjure up the will this year to write a Holiday blog about the appearance of the light of Christ consciousness in the midst of the “bleak midwinter”.  Not this year, sitting outside of Starbucks in the bright 70º sunshine of Camp Verde, Arizona.  Instead, let me address the importance of steeling ourselves for the coming seismic shifts of the coming year.

Let me be clear.  This is a pep-talk to myself because I am not clear; I am not fully awake at every moment of every day.  But at the onset of a New Year YOU NEED A PEP-TALK and SO DO I!

We have officially run out of time.  In fact, time does not exist for us anymore.  We have entered a new vibration where we stand outside of time.  This is the new earth, and we have to stop talking about its emergence, and start creating our new life here.

I have also run out of patience with folks who want to talk about sports or politics or popular culture.  I’m not interested in hearing about how your neighbor or your family has slighted you or let you down.  I’m not interested in hearing about the ways you limit yourself with your thoughts.  Tell me instead about the ways you have used your mindfulness to liberate you from old patterns and tired traditions.

Tell me how you have stepped out of the boxes that contain you.  Tell me how you plotted after you saw your comfortable surroundings where nothing but a gilded cage – a beautiful prison with over-stuffed couches and wide-screen TV’s.  Tell me how you jumped from your box, or if you slithered out or skipped or crawled.  

Do tell me that you set the box on fire; soaked it with kerosene and set the match with ritual and ceremony.

Why do we hold onto things that no longer serve us?  Why do we stay in jobs that demean us?  Why do we maintain marriages and relationships that diminish our life-force?  Why do we keep trying to fix the broken systems with broken tools? 

Do you really think we should prop up our economic and societal structures at any cost?  Is there an institution that is “too big to fail”, or should we have a little death to make room for a rebirth?  Are you satisfied with choosing between “evils” when you go to the polls?  What would happen if you demanded more and stopped settling for less?

In Chinese astrology, this is the year of the Dragon and we need to embrace this archetype with fervor and adoration!  The Dragon represents the power to Create as well as to Destroy.  These are twin attributes like death and rebirth.  

We are stepping into our highest imagining.  We welcome all the forces of change and we hold tight to and bring new meaning to the idea of riding the dragon.  The dragon represents destruction of the old paradigm and the bold and formidable construction of the New Earth.

We have to deconstruct everything that has worked through its last bit of usefulness – and we will construct new structures, and new relationships, and new thoughts, and patterns, and institutions that honor us and serve us.  

We now surround ourselves with constructs that stem from the recognition of our profound connection with the physical universe as well as our connection with the divine.  We ride the Dragon and we are the Dragon.

To help us ramp up our vibration for creation, the Earth School for Souls is invoking the Year of the Dragon in our first Shamanic Breathwork™ gathering of the New Year.  Join us at our new location in West Sedona.
The Year of the Dragon
A Shamanic Breathwork™ Journey
Saturday, January 7th  12:45 – 4:30PM

Light Body Pilates & Dance Studio
2050 Yavapai Dr, Sedona, AZ  86336
reduced to $35 a person

Limited Space – Please Pre-Register at or

Monday, November 21, 2011

at the still-point

We all have those moments when we feel deeply contented, at peace, and comfortable in our own skin . . . for no apparent reason except that, without thinking, we know in our bones that everything is alright . . . just as it is.  

They are moments that when we try to figure them out, or try to grasp them, they fly like fleeting gossamer dreams. 
 This is the sacred instant when we are practicing perfect self-love, opening to the constant supply of affirmation that is pouring out upon us.  If we rest in the stillness of these times we can extend them indefinitely.  We find this “still-point” when we rest in the truth of our connection to everybody and to everything.  We often have this experience when we are out on the land, feeling the dirt beneath our feet and the sky gracing our brow.

The Genesis story says that, in the beginning, we were fashioned by the Divine from the clay of the earth, and I imagine the clay was red in color.  It is said that this great creative force made us in the image of him and her-self.  The Old Testament uses the plural:  we” formed them, “man and woman” in our image, as if our source has always unashamedly embraced the force and power of the masculine and the creativity and nurturing of the feminine.

This clay, this dirt from which we are made (with the help of a little holy spittle) was once a part of a star.  We know that light is born out of darkness; darkness comes first and it is all God – there is only God.  Scientists agree that our Universe began with a “big bang” and this chunk of rock called Earth was thrown into place.  So this dirt was once stardust and that means we are also made of stardust.

So we are intimately connected to the planet; we belong here; we are here on purpose; and perhaps our most important “reason to be” consists of remembering why we are here.  What did we come here for?  When we sometimes feel like “strangers in a strange land” we are aware of our connection to the stars, but have forgotten our profound connection to the earth.  We arrive at the still-point when we know it is not “either – or”; it is “both – and”.   

Our feelings of discontent are often the catalyst for our healing; our remembering.  I want to say that our soul-self is always at peace with our “place in the universe”, but our human-self is often uncomfortable because we may have a constant nagging feeling that we do not belong here.  It is not enough to bring this understanding into our human mind; we must bring this deep knowing into our blood and our bones.  This is why we journey:  to bring many of the things we have known forever with our minds into a body-felt knowing; a visceral understanding.   

In this season of gratitude I am thankful to be hiding out in Portales, New Mexico with my dear friends and soul-family.  I am repeatedly impressed with this unlikely place of portals, this place of doorways, out here on the edge of the prairie, home to dairy farms and acres of peanuts.  Many are taken by what is missing, like trees and hills.  Many do not notice the great expanse of sky that invites us to celebrate our relationship with that living breathing blanket over our heads. 
I am thankful for the amazing group of seekers that showed up last Saturday to experience Shamanic Breathwork™ Journeying.  We had eighteen on the floor (mostly breathwork virgins) and Anne and me walking the floor; holding sacred space.  I guess I am constantly surprised how folks keep showing up to do their inner-work, to find a deeper understanding; to experience that illusive still-point and to begin to step into the reason they were born. 

I will be returning to Sedona to repeat this workshop for our “First Saturday” gathering on December 3rd.  I am impatient to share this transformative experience with my soul-family there, and I am incredulous that any of my friends and associates have so far resisted my constant harping, “YOU NEED TO BREATHE!”   

My wish for you at Thanksgiving is to recall those moments when, for no apparent reason, you knew that everything was alright.  That feeling is your birthright as sons and daughters of the earth; as sons and daughters of the stars.
Awaken the Shaman Within
A Shamanic Breathwork™ Journey
Saturday, December 3rd   1:00 – 4:30pm
Unity Church of Sedona, 65 Deer Trail Drive
Sedona, AZ 86336     $50 (discounts available)
Logistics:  Bring a closed bottle of water, a blanket and a pillow to make a comfortable journeying pallet. Wear loose fitting clothes. The workshop will run until about 4:30pm allowing time for a short artwork and process/integration exercise.  Please arrive 15 minutes early to settle in and set up your pallet.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's the End of the World

The air is full of signs this morning.  A gusting breeze rises and falls, swirling the wind chimes hanging on the front of the Airstream; stirring the branches of the ubiquitous cottonwood tree that guards the front of my campsite.  The ground is littered with little yellow leaves dried up and curling on the gravel drive.

The sky is patches of sunlight framed by clouds that hold expectant rain and lightning and thunder.  Across the treetops I see a flash and then a roll of sound that starts like a low clearing of the throat then crescendos into a crash that reverberates and tumbles past my ears.

A raven glides past, left to right, just before the rain starts to drum my blue and white awning.  Yes . . . drumming . . . and I seem to hear the soft thump of the divine mother’s heart pulsing at the core of the planet.  This is a pause in the quickening that has seized all of existence; like the moments between the beats of your heart.

We are all counting backwards now – all embodying the spirit of the Heyoka – today, tomorrow, then the last day of the calendar – the end of time as we know it – the end of an age, they say – the destruction of the fourth world.  And what do we know of the fifth?  Nothing.  And we are striving to not create the next world in the image of the one which has died. 

I grew up in a family that celebrated the “end times”.  We looked forward to the end of the world as you would the coming of Christmas.  My parents were trapped in a cosmology that envisioned this life as a “veil of tears” that would not be lifted until this life was over. 

My father was literally trapped in a body that was a prison; racked with crippling rheumatoid arthritis.  He had a profound connection to spirit and a rich prayer life, but he misunderstood that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” means it is in your hand if you will only close your fingers around it.  His disability brought new meaning and intense struggle to that metaphor.

My father knew that heaven was just a click away, but he and my mother did not accept the mantle of being co-creators of their existence.  They saw “through a glass darkly” and it was not their time for realizing the fullness of their relationship with eternity.  But they live on in their children; they carried us to the mountain top so we could see the Promised Land which lay ahead, but they could not cross over that threshold with us.  That is to be for us alone, like the chosen ones in the Bible story, if we can fasten onto the truth and not be distracted by shiny things. 

I keep hearing, like a mantra, “now we have no choice”.  We have to step up.  We have to claim our birthright, with all its blessings and responsibilities.  We have to step into the reason we were born – we are not here at this time by accident.  We are here on purpose and we have been entrusted with the care of the planet and all its citizens. 

“Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.”  I am quiet and pensive as I wait for the end of the world.  The worst of the rainstorm has passed, which at its peak forced me indoors to be protected . . . cocooned.  I have no fear, though I am also not given to excitement.  It is time to be quiet and mindful – noticing our steps and our words.

Because our every action; our every word creates new life – we spin new universes. 

What will we create today?

Follow John on:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Now is the Time!

Recently, I participated in a workshop where the statement, “Now is the Time!” became a recurring theme.  And in the following weeks the slogan seems to have gotten momentum.  It is THE time for so many things.  We have to ask ourselves, as we transform and reinvent ourselves, what is our responsibility for reinventing and transforming “the collective”?
We know that the collective mindset and vibration are a reflection of our own processes, then at what point do we extend ourselves into the wider world to up-level collective attitudes and behaviors?  I keep hearing:  “Now is the time.”
It has been part of my own awakening during the past two years to move my attention away from the distraction of politics and the insane left versus right dialog.  But I am a child of the sixties so I noticed with interest the grassroots birthing of the Tea Party movement.  I also noticed how quickly they became subsumed and co-opted by party politics, all the while wildly waving the false flag of fierce independence.
Now I notice the Occupy Wall Street movement and the reactions they are spurring in our opinion leaders.  Some on the left are wondering if they can ride the coat tails of this significant voting block without jumping on the bandwagon of radical social disruption.  Many on the right are demonizing the movement as a direct threat to everything we hold dear in this country:  mom, baseball, and apple pie. 
Count me as one who is ready to shake things up.  All bets are off.  The Occupy (Your Town’s Name Here) movement is about a fundamental dissatisfaction with the status quo.  We are dissatisfied with the way things do NOT work.  We are way past the point of just trusting the system to correct itself – to find its own center.  There was nothing sacred about our economic system, our political system, or our form of government in the first place.
We have been fed countless lies from the day we were born.  But the waking up to the truth of our being includes a concomitant realization that our social constructs and our most revered belief systems are largely arbitrary. 
I have been railing lately about the need to become free of our own personal boxes that keep us from stepping into our highest imagining – but we also need to take a good look at all the larger boxes that keep us from our highest good whether they be family, relationships, country, economic systems, political parties. . . . 
Even if you live in a beautiful golden cage with plush furniture and a wide screen TV, it is still a prison.  And anything can become a box; even the latest cause or your habit of healing yourself.  Take a good look at your Belief Systems, and notice that the initials for that are B.S. 
So part of my awakening is about ripping the mask off the illusion.  We are witness to a radical adjustment in our culture as it must begin to mirror what is happening within us.  We know that we have to die and be reborn on a daily basis – and so must the structures that contain us.

“Occupy Wall Street” is about the death of an outdated and unjust system to control the other 99% of us for the dubious benefit of the few.  Do we have something better to put in its place?  Seriously, how could we do worse?  It is time to eat this sacred cow, and NOW IS THE TIME!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Fool and I will be Just Fine

So much of the journey to awakening is about paying attention.  So much about healing our past woundings is about simply noticing when we are “triggered” and not obsessing or wallowing.

We are sharpening our senses – we are paying more attention to the little things that show up on the wide-screen of our awareness and we are noticing everything.

For several days I have had a flock of western blue jays fluttering around my back door, moving around a clump of scrub oaks, dancing and sometimes confronting each other.  They are beautiful beings with their vibrant blue feathers, their smooth rounded head and graceful long tail feathers.

And I ask myself, what in the heck are they doing?  I do not jump to conclusions, and even though I am challenged at math, I start to put two and two together.  Remember I said they were fluttering in and around a scrub oak tree, not like the mighty oaks of my childhood, so I didn’t notice that even these miniature versions have acorns.

Now I notice that much of the activity is about slipping a mouth-sized white seed out of its husk.  What is the learning here?  We all know the lesson about the tiny acorn and the towering oak tree.  But now I am reminded of Yeshua talking about the mustard seed – a tiny yellow ball in the hollow of my hand.  Yet if my faith is even that large, I might manifest something great - I could move mountains.

The mountains before me today are these:  I want to re-program the unconscious patterns in my brain that keep me short of my highest imagining.  I want the four-year-old that lives in me and makes many of my most important plans and decisions – I want him to grow up.  I want the courage to step out of the boxes of familiarity I have constructed for myself.  I want to stay focused on what is important and what is truly needed and not sweat the small stuff.  Did someone say, “It’s all small stuff”?  

We have just finished our fifth and final week of training with Brad and Star Wolf at the Sanctuary of Sedona.  This year I have received my Shamanic Breathwork Facilitator Certification and have been ordained as a Shamanic Minister.  The Earth School for Souls has been launched and we are about to receive our classification as a congregation of the Venus Rising Association for Transformation.  Meredith and I have decided to move out of the house up by the chapel, and to move independently for a time, testing the waters and stretching our legs.

The air is still this morning and I am in the middle of my waking meditation when suddenly it moves, tossing the vertical-blinds in spirals into the room. Something has come to put an exclamation point on my lesson. Even the air conspires to serve me up some learning for my breakfast. So I am paying attention. I notice what it is that sends a shudder down my spine; what causes the nerve endings in my legs to tingle or makes the hairs of my arm stand on end.

The silver Airstream sits in the driveway, and I don’t know where it will take me next.  My work stretches out before me, and I step first and then look around to see where I have landed.  It would be scary for anyone but a fool.  But if I have the faith of a mustard seed, the fool and I will be just fine.

* * * * * * 
The next offering by the Earth School is a Single Session Intensive Workshop, on Saturday, October 1st, from 1:00 – 4:30pm.  At the Unity Church of Sedona.  It is called, “Finding Comfort in Being Adrift”, a theme that is current for all of us.  We will have a short teaching, a full hour journey session, an artwork process piece, and time to process your experience, before we release you back into the real world which will be forced to scramble to catch up with your newfound awareness.

If you would like the Silver Bullet to stop in your town, the Earth School for Souls loves to travel.  All we need is a space to lie down and journey and a few seekers who are committed to their own awakening.  Call me – we’ll do lunch!  707-799-7662

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Eyes to See Angels

This is a story about reclaiming something in me that was lost.  The idea of going out in the world in order to find "yourself” is a cliché and frequently scoffed at.  But there is really nothing greater in this life than finding yourself; to waking up to the truth of your being.

For me, this journey of awakening includes pulling out of my unconscious self the pieces that are ready to come forward.  I am talking about the shadow parts that have been suppressed, resisted, and covered over.  I have unconsciously kept them in the dark for a myriad of misguided reasons.

We call this process re – membering; that is putting the pieces back together.  And I had a powerful remembering, lying on the floor in the darkened sanctuary at Isis Cove, in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.

In my journey I re-dreamed a dream I had as a little boy in Quincy, Indiana.  I could not have been more than five or six.   Around that time my family moved to this small town in Southern Indiana and my father took the position of minister to a small town and country church.

We moved into the parsonage across the street.  There were six of us in all; my two parents who took the master bedroom, my two older sisters in the other large bedroom, and my little sister was in the extra small bedroom.  That left me.  There were no more bedrooms so I was put in a baby bed in my father’s study.  Not only was I not upstairs with the rest of my family, but I was in the room downstairs that was as far away from the rest of them as I could possibly be.  I could not have been more separate from my family if they had consciously tried.

And I was afraid.  I was afraid of the dark.  I was afraid of the shadows that seemed to animate and move around my father’s study in the darkness.  My parents tried to console me with the assurance that I was surrounded by hundreds of angels.  But to me, an angel was not a comfort, it was just another disembodied spirit; a spook.

And I had paid enough attention in church to imagine that those angels were in constant conflict with an equal hoard of demons which was hungering to get at me.  My darkened bedroom was alive with dueling spirits, swirling shadows, monsters and unnumbered and unnamed things that go bump in the night.  I could see them, and even on the hottest summer evening I slept with a blanket over my head.  I was well into my adolescence before I ventured to fall asleep with my head uncovered.

That is the backdrop for my dream.  I became that small child again, alone downstairs while the rest of my family slumbered somewhere far away.  I walked into the dining room which also held the stairway to the upper rooms, but my passage was blocked by a large and fierce looking lion.  This was a strong male lion with a full mane, like the ones I had seen on the pages of a children’s Bible storybook.

My fear of the lion was compounded by the presence of a towering masculine angel who seemed to be communing with the beast.  The angel had long flowing blonde hair and his aspect was snow white.   I don’t remember seeing a sword, but he had a strong presence that held the power of artist’s renderings of the arc angel, Michael.

The lion did not attack me or even come toward me, and the angel never faced me with the full force of his presence while I stood frozen in the doorway.  Yet I sensed that they were fully aware of my presence, and now it comes to me that they wanted to make themselves known to me but did not wish to frighten me.  Now I know the lion was there to give me his strength and the angel was there to give me his guidance.

But my scared little boy sensibilities did not let the truth of that vision have its desired effect until now, some fifty years later.  The little boy came forward from that dream and prayed to God that he would never again be confronted with angels – and the spirits complied.  Out of fear, I shut down my ability to see angels.  There really were spirits and beings and entities moving around the nighttime shadows of my father’s study, but they obediently hid themselves from me, at my request.

The piece of soul-retrieval here is a profound remembering of why I moved away from my family in the first place.  I am the only one of us who ever even left the state of Indiana.  It is paradoxical that being separate from my family . . . feels like home.  And if my sisters ever need to understand why I live so far away, they need to remember that little boy who was set so far apart, who tried to make his cries heard through a warm air register in the ceiling, so they would tell his mother who might come down and comfort him.  I can still hear them yelling crossed the hallway, “Mom, John’s crying.”

I have had some deep healing around that remembering, and now I can recognize that urge in me to be separate (in general) from the ones who love me, especially when things get too comfortable. 

And the piece of gold that comes from mining this wound is about my forgotten ability to see angels.  I reclaim that gift now, and since having this journey have put the ability to work.  When I am allowing, and in certain light, I can see the wings of the people around me.  I have practiced this seeing with friends and with people I don’t even know. 

You can try this yourself; look at someone and ask yourself, “What would their wings look like?”  Don’t try to put wings on them, let their own wings appear.  They are there all the time – we just need the eyes to see.

Announcement:  With the kind help of Joyce and Roger at  we have gotten the early version of our website up; take a look at:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Portals of Transformation

In our first weeks back in Sedona, Meredith and I drove to Portales, New Mexico to facilitate two days of training for a group of students and practitioners at Eastern New Mexico University.  MSR has already blogged about the significance of the name of that small city on the edge of the prairie, but I can’t fail to echo that observation.

The word portales is Spanish for “doors”, and I am struck by how that symbol shows up at this time for the beautiful travelers who took this journey with us, for my dear friends Penny and Carol, and for myself and my partner who are diving headlong into this new venture and roll as teacher and guide.  We are stepping through portals; doors of transformation as we move into new ways of being with ourselves and others; new ways of thinking and new ways of relating to each other, to the planet and to all of existence.

My teacher, Star Wolf, talks often about the usefulness of seeing our movement through existence as a Spiral Dance.  We are not on a linear path.  We are on a circle, the great medicine wheel, but we are also spiraling; coming back over and over to the same places but we are changed, engaging on higher levels. 

I am mindful of so many of my own points repeating at this time, and I am grateful for the grace of encountering these mile markers with new insights.  I first moved to Northern Arizona in the mid 1980’s and just about the first person I met in Flagstaff was my enduring friend, Penny. 

On our first encounter, I sat in her small apartment and told her about my time with the Lakota medicine man some years earlier.  We could have talked about any number of more relevant topics but something compelled me to relate this most intimate piece of my own spiritual journey.  The following spring, the two of us drove down to Sedona on Easter Sunday to hike into Boynton Canyon to have a chanumpa (pipe) ceremony.

At one point we both had our eyes closed, deep in meditation, and I heard a clear voice from higher in the canyon yell, “I am God.”  The voice repeated a few more times and we finished our quietness.  As we walked out, I looked at Penny and said, “Did you hear that?”  We each had a good laugh when we saw the young couple who had hiked in ahead of us.  And though our ceremony was more humble, we could identify with the enthusiasm of the seeker who finds a piece of the divine within himself and just can’t keep still about it.

Over the next twenty years I wandered away from my practice in the shamanic tradition, but those enduring forms stayed with me, and I celebrated their blossoming when I returned to Sedona almost two years ago. 

And on this trip around the spiral I have revisited my childhood and some early woundings I have stuffed down and repressed all my adult life.  But I do not wallow in self-pity or victimhood by bringing my wounded children into the light.  I have not suddenly remembered some forgotten or imagined trauma, I am talking about some little snapshots of my childhood that I have minimized or trivialized or covered over with rationalization or humor.

I have come to see that my shadow is not just one “dirty smelly child” but a crowd of small children who follow me around every day.  And as I come to make peace with them, to honor and to love them, they no longer need to dominate my thoughts and behaviors.  Instead they inform me and keep me company without keeping me from the peace and happiness that is my birthright.

We are all stepping through Portals of Transformation as our lives and our bodies are bombarded and caressed by new moons and eclipses and planets.  Standing still is not an option, so we pass through willingly facing the full strength of the sun in this summer season.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Upon the Occasion of My Ordination

I have not blogged in more than a month, mostly because I have been immersed in some intense learning.  I served as a staff apprentice for three weeks of training in the Shamanic Initiatory Process at Venus Rising in Whittier, NC.  Then I worked the 4-day Wise Wolf Men’s Council and offered a heart centered and moving ceremony with an amazing group of conscious men. 

I have been in the center of the tornado that is my own transformation while Star Raven and I plan for the upcoming Breathe America – Breathe Asheville event on May 14th. There is so much up for me, that it is difficult to know what to share or where to begin.  I also know that we are all in tumultuous times; the planets are kicking our collective butt, and we are being fully confronted about how we choose to show up on the planet as we move either enthusiastically or kicking and screaming into the next phase of our Earthly existence.

In light of that fact, I will share that I was given the opportunity to complete the training and initiations required for me to receive my ordination this month as a Shamanic Minister.  I want to present here my “statement of intention” which I offered when I received my license to marry, bury, and breathe:

My father was a Baptist minister to a small country church in rural southern Indiana.  When he died young, I stepped up to receive the mantle of sacred service to others.  I told everyone I was going to be a minister when I grew up.

But by the time I was ready to go to college, I was already having second thoughts.   When I decided to study literature and composition instead of theology, I reasoned that we are all called to minister to each other whatever profession we might choose.  I had also become skeptical about the role and function of organized religion, and wondered if I might have an even greater impact on the planet as a writer or a teacher.

When I morphed into an addictions counselor in my twenties, I thought I had landed in my life’s purpose.  To me, this was ministry:  giving myself to the service of the poor and the broken; all the while being largely unaware of my own brokenness.  It is not clear to me whether I willingly walked away from that path or whether I was tossed out on my ear.  In retrospect, I see that my contributions to that endeavor were summarily rejected because of my nonconventional ideas and methods.  I was too sensitive and hindered by a wild imagination.  So I got to my feet, dusted myself off, and quietly walked away.

So it is interesting how, on this trip around the spiral, I reclaim the wounded counselor.  I welcome back that lost part of myself, and I remember why I took that path in the first place.  I realize that I am finally ready to serve, because I am taking the necessary steps to allow myself to be served.  It really is all about me; because I might truly be able to reflect something vital and important to you if I have first attended to the yearning of my soul.

My intention is to continue down my own path of soul recovery; my own path of self love and self healing; my own path of discovery and re-membering.  It is my intention to continue reclaiming all my integral missing parts, and through my own process and my own struggle to possibly be a light to others.  It is my intention to allow the Divine to build a temple, something holy, at the site of each of these re-memberings; to build something surprising and currently unimagined.

When we say the Lakota benediction – Mitakuye Oyasin, we bring in all our relations, and we acknowledge that we are related to the trees and the rocks, to the river and the sky, to the red soil of Sedona and the muddy stream of North Carolina.  We are related to the Earth and everything that crawls here, or runs or gallops or flies over its green and blue crust.
We face all of existence, past present and future, and we know, when we look at the stars, we are looking at our source and our destiny, and sometimes we cry for home.  I long to be reunited with my divine mother and with my divine father.  And I am grateful to all my relations who are my teachers; all my relations who radiate out from this place in concentric circles, because you have given me a taste of Heaven.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I am in the heart of my third round of breathwork and shamanic minister training, and while these events have been the inspiration for much of my writing, I have not until today blogged from the workshop. I am sitting on the deck outside the octagonal meditation lodge. The day is overcast by a veil of clouds but still quite light. I am facing due south according to the adjoining medicine wheel, and the breath of spirit is blowing into my eyes with some force.

I journeyed this morning and experienced my first rebirthing. I have not been the most active traveler on the breathwork floor. On my first journey I laughed and cried; I flew and I swam in the ocean; I danced around the tribal drum and I sang out loud. Afterward my partner told me I barely moved and though she saw my mouth move, there were no audible sounds. I have stayed within myself, somewhat shy even when I have run along the shamanic path.

The habit of quietness is built in; it is hard-wired. And it has served me to sit back and observe, to reflect and to analyze. I have mentioned before that when I first moved to Sedona I sat in the sacred circles for three months before I spoke. My friends refer to that time as “the good old days”. I need new friends.

I have become progressively more active in my breathwork journeys and that coincides with a parallel opening and more active movement into the outer world. As within, so without. As above, so below. This morning, in my breathwork journey, I sat up for the first time and rocked to the rhythm of the energetic music.

My co-journeyer, Karen, rubbed my back and I leaned forward into an unintentional child pose and felt like I was sinking into the floor. She instinctively moved to put pressure on my shoulders and I started pushing. I did not push too hard at first because the sensation of rocking and the resistance and the darkness was pleasant and comforting.

I continued to push and my space became constricted as I began to struggle to be born. Karen held me between her legs as Star Wolf encouraged me to push and to fight for life. When she invited me to vocalize, I found myself yelling so forcefully that later my throat felt raw. Star Wolf let me take her hand and urged me to claw and to kick my way out. Karen held me tightly like she was trying to keep me in the womb. When I would have quit the struggle all together, I was commanded to kick myself free, and I did.

When I was out, I collapsed exhausted into the arms of these two amazing and beautiful women. And they held me like I cannot remember ever being held by my genetic mother. Star Wolf whispered in my ear that I was welcomed, that I was wanted; that I was loved very much, and I cried like a baby. (Because that’s exactly what I was.)

These women held me for the longest time and I remember thinking that they should just let me go and attend to someone who needed them more. At one point I had a twinge of anxiety for being cared for so closely and for so long.

I was not unwanted by my own mother, and I was not unloved. She did the best she could. It is significant though that I perceive that I was neglected as a child. My father died when I was quite young and my mother seemed, to me, understandably preoccupied with her daily pursuits and with my sisters.

It doesn’t matter if I imagined or constructed this scenario because it was real to me. And it is the source of my deepest wounding. It is the wounding that created deep-seated and unconscious patterns in my tissues that have been repeatedly triggered and activated ever since. These patterns have shown themselves most frequently in my intimate relationships. And it is only in exposing them to the light of day and noticing them when they arise that they do not continue to cripple me and keep me short of my happiness.

We are all wounded. And we all continue to be buffeted by unseen forces that seem to be beyond our control. I am thankful for the breathwork and other experiences which have brought my shadow into the light and transformed much of my unconscious stuff into consciousness.

Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not done yet. And I’m grateful to all the others who have come into my awareness and held me when I was raw and when I was in pain; all these beautiful souls who have hugged so much of my resistance out of me.

Look at the website for Venus Rising to learn more about Shamanic BreathWork and to begin your own Shamanic Journey.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

2nd Annual Birthday Blog

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I signed off in these pages with the words, “Happy birthday to me”. On that day I was blessed to take part in the 8:00AM gratitude circle at Unity of Sedona before I went into my first writing retreat.

I remember telling the group that I would hold them in my heart as I went into this training. Then I remember noticing the sacred circle expand as it came to include my fellow writers. Today that circle has grown even larger to include my new friends in Asheville, my colleagues at the Isis Cove community, and my fellow journeyers who are in the breathwork training with me through Venus Rising.

If I recount all the experiences of the last year; all the lessons learned; all the pleasure; all the joy; all the laughter and the tears – it sounds like a lifetime. But it feels like a moment. I believe I could step through an opening in the veil right now and be back in that sacred circle; in the loving arms of my soul family.

There are so many wonderful things that have come to me since then, that at the time, I could not have imagined. I want to say that they came to me because I opened myself and allowed the unexpected to be revealed. So it is timely that today at Jubilee, Pastor Howard reflected on the importance of embracing the Great Mystery which is part and parcel of walking with the Divine.

Linda Star Wolf teaches that when I set my intention it should always be for “this or something better”.  With the understanding that if I am truly open and allowing, the Universe is bound to have a better imagination than I do, and I should count on receiving something greater than my dreams.  Be careful what you manifest.  Always allow for something better.

As I write this, I am conscious of a profound energetic presence that is preparing to propel each of us into our next unexpected imagining. Outside my window the wind is rising and the bare branches are flailing in an oncoming gale. Earlier we had a spring snow storm, and now at sunset it is bitter cold.

I have always been fascinated by weather in all its incarnations, especially in its extremes. This is a storm, and it tells me something new is in the wind; something wonderful and unexpected; something greater than I could imagine if I can only surrender to the Mystery and allow it to be revealed.

So in the coming weeks I will return to the Sanctuary of Sedona and allow for the next new imagining to take shape in my journeying. I will put myself back on my wheels and roll them into Isis Cove for a time, with the expectation of being surprised by the Mysteries. I will finally rest in the arms of my Anam Cara with the anticipation of being utterly startled by God.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I am grateful for the little synchronicities that compile to write the text of our days. My fellow tenor in the Jubilee choir, David, turned me on today to a beautiful essay about the Platte River which sparked a remembrance of my own time on that river which is said to be “an inch deep and a mile wide”.

My journey down the Platte River was in the 1980’s when I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska and my friend, Jim, suggested we take a canoe trip from the west back toward the city of Grand Island on the Platte, over our spring break. In the spring, the shallow river has more flow and more depth and it is a prime stopover for thousands of Sandhill Cranes which are migrating from southern climes back to their nesting grounds in the northern states and Canada.

As we started our passage we had lots of sunshine. The greatest challenge was keeping to the deep channel that would float the canoe. We both kept an alert eye for those elusive stretches that would shift from one shore to the other, then back to the middle. Only occasionally did we hit sand and gravel, at which point we would paddle back a few feet and then try another tack. We were light and happy.

Toward sunset each day we would push onto a high bank, pitch our two-man backpack tent and start a small fire for cooking our dinner. During the day we had seen hundreds and thousands of Sandhill Cranes circling above us in gigantic gray brown beehives. At the end of the day every sky-born crane would circle down, spreading its expanse of wings like a parachute as it set its two feet onto a sandbar.

Every little sandbar on the river became alive with the rustle of feathers and subdued squawking, until the ground was no longer visible. Jim and I would sit in jaw-dropping silence as we snapped photos of birds against a brilliant Nebraska sunset.

On the final day of our journey we set off late because the sun had not risen to wake us. The morning was heavily overcast and gray. We were jacketed against the chill air and we could feel the moisture in the air long before it began to snow.

It started with just a few flakes, and their appearance spurred us to paddle a little faster. Our progress was frustrated by our reduced visibility, so we frequently headed into a dead-end channel and had to back up more often. The flurries became a full-fledged Nebraska blizzard and we strained our eyes and our arm muscles to find our way down the river toward the city of Grand Island.

At one point, overwhelmed with mental exhaustion and physical fatigue; after we had run onto yet another sandbar, I sat in the prow of the canoe, the paddle across my knees. I was blanketed in the unrelenting whiteout, just staring blankly into the gray murky water. Jim was impatient behind me. Half laughing, he prodded, “What are you doing?”

I answered with force, “I don’t know!” I had given up, momentarily. In the middle of the Platte River, being pounded by a spring blizzard which was roaring across the high plains of Nebraska . . . I surrendered . . . I surrendered.

My friend did not push me. He waited for me to return to myself. I slowly lifted my paddle, pushed the end of it down into the water against the gravel bed, and the two of us wordlessly shoved ourselves free of the ground and back into the flow back toward the world of men.

When we saw the ponderous cement bridge over the river, we knew we had reached the outskirts of Grand Island. And unable to go any further we stepped up to the street level into a world which had become strange to us. We were soaked to the skin. We wore layers of clothing, topped with our plastic rain ponchos. We had several days of unshaven facial hair and we had not bathed since we started the trip. We each held aloft a canoe paddle in an attempt to engender pity in some kind-hearted passerby.

We knew we were a sight and we also knew it was a long-shot, getting somebody to stop and then to go out of their way to drive us to our car. But it was our best plan. Now, here’s the part of the story that feels like a miracle; that in retrospect feels like it might be connected to that moment of surrender in the thick of the blizzard, in the middle of the river, when all seemed lost.

A car stopped . . . several yards past us . . . onto the shoulder of the highway. When we ran down the stopped car and peered into the rolled down window we were amazed to see the faces of our co-worker Joe, and his wife. They were familiar faces – a port in the storm. They had driven to Grand Island to catch a glimpse of the famous Sandhill Crane migration, and had been as surprised as we were to be caught in a blizzard. Of course, they were also surprised to be driving down the highway and catching a glimpse of two sorry souls standing on the edge of the road holding canoe paddles that looked vaguely familiar.

After unloading Jim and the canoe, I went home and had the best long hot shower I have ever had. Today I can still remember how good it felt to be warm and clean. I can still remember how good it felt to sit on my couch with my muscles unclenched.

So I celebrate the cold that shows me how to appreciate the warmth. I celebrate the wet and the risk and the discomfort that makes me appreciate being dry, and safe, and at ease. And I celebrate the moments of despair that leave us no other choice but to give up, to surrender, for these moments open the portals to our deliverance.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Keep Your Head in the Heavens and Your Ass on the Ground

Today, Asheville, North Carolina is giving me a big wet kiss in the form of a beautifully warm day; short sleeves and sunshine after the bitter cold and snow. But it is a deep deception; it is a lover who lies. Because it is not spring; it is a momentary respite in the depth of this winter, to keep us from slashing our wrists. I welcome and I embrace the lie.

Accepting the fickle nature of the indifferent weather seems to mirror a shift in my own nature toward a deeper appreciation of the dance between spirit and matter. I was trained, like you, at an early age to separate my spiritual life from life in this body.

The extreme embodiment of this pattern allows you to function however you will day to day, spreading unconsciousness and deceit without regard to the life of your spirit. In this paradigm your spiritual aspect may be attended to only on Sundays, enduring the sermon or confessing in the booth.

I was forced to face this conflict early in my young adulthood when I had the rare privilege of studying with Native American teachers. They would look me squarely in the eye and tell me that in my culture, what we would call “religion” they would call “a way of life”. They did not separate their spiritual life from the rest of their living, and they found it laughable that anyone would try.

I came to understand that everybody has a religion, even the atheist. Your religion is what you do, day in and day out. Your every thought, your every word, your every step is a prayer. And we are always praying.

Now those of us who have immersed ourselves in the spiritual often find that we have become disconnected from our life in this body. Sometimes it seems our practice takes us out of our bodies to journey to the stars and we have lost our connection to the earth.

I am remembering that I do face all of existence when I look at the stars, and the heavens seem to represent my origin and my destiny. But I cannot forget that I am inextricably connected to the earth and this human interlude. It is important. We have chosen this life for a reason, not the least of which is to live completely and to fully appreciate this gift.

We are not just toiling in the illusion until we are called home for supper. We are not sitting down and waiting to die.

Our planet is undergoing a profound shift in awareness. It is not even enough to wake up to the reality of our spiritual nature; we must also wake up to our soul’s purpose in this body. Many of us have chosen a rigorous curriculum in the Earth School and we are working out what it means to be in a body.

So today I enliven my senses. I feel the sunshine on my face. I take the hands of my fellow journeyers, and I appreciate the touch of another. I breathe in the fragrance of the Carolina pine and the piles of decaying leaves. I enjoy the lilting clouds and I bless the earth beneath my feet. It is good to be alive.

Buy my book at a discounted rate by clicking on the image above. I am beginning to collect reader reviews for future promotions and events, and I would love to include your comments which you could send directly to my e-mail address. Also, if you have read the book, feel free to sign on to and Barnes & to post a reader review. FYI – the book is also available on Kindle and Smashwords.

Monday, January 17, 2011


As we merge bravely into the Via Creativa I know that we are all being re-birthed to one degree or another and it feels right to mark this passage with sacred ceremony. 

This morning I sat outside and the chill air was augmented by the blessed sunlight. I smoked a wonderful Cuban style cigar from Miami, gifted to me this Christmas by a treasured friend.  My occasional enjoyment of a good cigar has been viewed by some of my loved ones as just one more bad habit. They are probably right. But it has become a ceremony for me and I’m not ready to give it up.

I gave up cigarettes more than two decades ago, and similarly they held a mystique for me because I had shared the experience of smoking with my brothers after we emerged from the sweat lodge, steam rising off our naked bodies into the chill air on a sacred hill near Wounded Knee in South Dakota.

This ceremony began in Mexico, last July, when I pulled my vintage Airstream down to the Sea of Cortez to camp on the beach with a companion. It was the off-season which means it was hotter than hell and we had no competition for selecting the best campsite.

In the mornings we would drive to the harbor and have fish tacos and beer for breakfast. In the evenings we would nestle into the warm moist air of the evening and split a bottle of good red wine and share one of those Cuban cigars we had picked up from the friendly young man in the market who said he could sell us something stronger to smoke if we so desired.

We had looked at each other with big grins, feeling carefree and dangerous, but deciding the cigars and the wine were quite enough for these two aging pilgrims. We had found some comfort in each other; some joy in re-entering our youth and finding another wounded one across the table; someone who knew your mind without your needing to speak; someone who would drink that bottle of wine with you and pass the cigar back and forth until it was down to a finger scorching nub. We talked deep into the night.

When it was time to leave, we headed back to the Arizona border where a guard yelled at me for stopping on the wrong line, confounding his electronic sensing devices. But he didn’t even want to take a peek into the little trailer which could have hidden any number of sins, but in reality hid only two small wooden boxes of contraband Cuban cigars.

Back home we had several more evenings on the patio passing one of those cigars back and forth. When the summer was gone, so were the cigars, and so was the short-lived pairing of twin flames.

Then on Christmas this year she gave me the humidor and a package of good cigars. And now, far from the southwestern desert, I sit alone in the chill of a Carolina winter and send my smoke into the receptive ether. I observe and I honor the ceremony of wafting my prayer into the heavens with the help of a good cigar.

We have gone deep this time and now we are emerging from our murky and moist method; knowing that this time represents our birthing so we are not all scrubbed and shiny yet. We still carry the evidence of our process: some blood and some mucus.

And we quite possibly have not extracted ourselves completely from that tight opening. But every step along the way is a holy one, so we will bless the journey as well as the destination. And I will have one more puff on my cigar as I pull my last captive foot through the sacred opening.