Celeste and June in November

“It’s Scorpio time,” said Celeste who as her name suggested paid some attention to the stars and their progress through the wheel of the year. “What is going to happen this year? Something always does….”

“Several somethings, no doubt,” said June dryly. “I always feel a little braced in November.”

“Is it time to conjure a few more wise ones? Wizards and witches, shamans and fools? It’s that season.”

“I think Owen is getting close to his Chironic wounded healer power and Thea is diving deep with her painting. Really everyone is taking some major leaps right now. The dream world has been hopping. And the birds are pretty excited. Almost spring-like in some ways or mid-summer when the raucous young ravens fledge.”

Celeste yawned and stretched thinking how tired she was and that tomorrow was a school day. A fire twinkled merrily in the grate, welcome sustenance on this chilly night. She licked her forefinger and pressed it to glean the remaining chocolate chip cookie crumbs from the plate Ariel had presented them earlier. “Maybe I should take your advice about retiring soon. Rhea is coming along nicely as a teacher and I can imagine leaving the Illahee School in her competent hands. I have my eye on Ariel too.”

“That would be a huge step for you,” responded June, not daring to hope her partner would act on the suggestion any time soon, yet knowing that the time was inevitably approaching. “It would be lovely to have you present here in a different way. I wonder what that would look like.”

“More sewing and clothes design for one thing. I could get serious about my astrology and astronomy studies for another, I still have such a strong feeling that you and I are here from the stars. I’d like to explore my connection with the Pleiades.”

“And I with Sirius. We are spirits learning to be human.”

“Oh no. I just thought. What if our true homes are different worlds. I don’t know if I could bear to be separate from you, dear heart.”

“Perhaps we’ll just need to come back here again…. so we can be together…..” Each fingered the single diamond in her own left ear, a pair split one holiday season to remind them of their origins in the stars. Each then reached across to finger the twin sparkling in the other’s ear, looking into each other’s eyes. It was a ritual that never failed to delight them. A quick hug sealed with a kiss and they sat back again in their corners of the blue chintz love seat drawn in front of the fire.

“I know that Pluto and Neptune are dancing in tandem. Shadow selves being fished out of the deep by the watery king, while Jupiter makes it all loom large. Is there something we should be doing to help things along?” asked Celeste, pouring herself a little more from the delightful Goddessy Damiana liquour bottle between them.

June added another log to the fire – wood Arlo had split – and then decided to warm up her cooling cup of Cindy’s lavender and tulsi tea nestled in the duck down cozy that Caliente had made for them. So lovely having evidence of younger friends all around them. The fire happily kindled more brightly and the stars twinkled outside the window.

“It feels like there is some heat bubbling in various quarters…. sexually I mean. It could stir things up to have some company in that realm.”

“Other female couples?”

“I don’t know about that. Sure, it would be nice to have more witchy lesbians around, but I have a feeling that’s not so important as raising the general heat level around here. Ours too, of course.”

Their hands reached across the small distance between them to clasp warmly and then following suit, their heads bent forward as well. Lips connected and softened, opening to allow tongues to do their dance. Each put a hand on the other’s cheek. And drank deeply. “You smell good,” said one to the other. Breath came faster for a moment then stilled again. They drew apart, their eyes open deeply to each other, content to let the stirring in their cunts simmer for a bit.

“Do you ever wish we were younger, Celeste?”

“You mean like I would have grabbed you hard in the old days and we’d be rolling on the floor by now with or without our shirts?”

“Nice memories, aren’t they?”

“I keep having the feeling that if there were more juice around us, we’d have more juice between us. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking….”

“When you wish upon a star…. “ Celeste sang. “Venus is rising again in the east aka Inanna returning from the Underworld to greet her lover.”

“Remember back when I was whining about how there was no one else to play with magically?”

“I wasn’t very willing to take part in those days, was I?”

“You were busy putting energy into the school. You still are.”

“I know,” Celeste said ruefully. “It’s all-consuming.”

“And worth it. You’ve helped a lot of young folks come into their own. Look at the marvelous crop abroad now, both those here and those out a’wandering about the globe.” June thought longingly of Marina Goodwin-Brown, a favorite of hers.

“Still…..”

“I remember I had to take myself firmly in hand and do the psi stuff on my own. Let my sand tray work be shamanic, even if my clients didn’t always realize it. I learned how to move myself in that space of magic and mystery, letting even ordinary, everyday actions have meaning and import. Model the world I want to be living in. It’s a challenging discipline.”

“You do it so well.”

“Not all the time, of course, but I had such marvelous training from my earliest years. I thank my mother and aunts daily. Plus I keep my life quiet enough that I can usually open my heart center to operate from. All my chakras really. As you know, it doesn’t work if I’m out in groups too much. No dancing or drumming for me much less city council meetings or board memberships, no matter how worthy the cause. I just can’t stay centered when I am pulled every which way by people’s energies and dramas and fears. I get seduced into caring too much about the details then. I can manage it one on one with clients if I’m very careful and cleanse after every session. Put their worry cares into my little cauldron to work themselves out on their own…. Of course, sometimes a particular group thing calls me….”

“Seems like there have been more than usual this fall. You got us to the Equinox Labyrinth, the Demeter and Persephone women’s ritual, and even Day of the Dead. I’ve been amazed.”

“I’m tracking that about myself obviously. Seems like things are heating up somehow and my Inner Guidance keeps saying I’m needed to be present – to nudge things a bit more than in years past. Maybe it’s all finally coming together….”

“Have you noticed Gabriel and Jasmine Terranova’s energy? It’s very intriguing.”

“Kind of sparking…. They haven’t opened up yet about all they know…. Getting their bearings I assume. And who on earth are Ken and Marsha? They’re taking Ursula’s class. I come across him wandering around in the dream time but he’s pretty unconscious….”

“I’ll bet one or both of them show up in your sand tray studio soon.”

“We’ve been waiting an awfully long time. Is it finally long enough? We always knew people would show up and grow into their power.”

“You helped heal a bunch of them.”

“As you helped raise a bunch.” June raised her teacup to salute Celeste. “We both are available when the big energies need us.”

“I’ve always thought it amazing that we can live here in a group house….”

“Luckily we have our little suite.”

“And Owen is such a steady soul.”

June raised an eyebrow. “You’re forgetting….”

“I suppose I am. But at least we weren’t all living together during his pot and alcohol PTSD years. Nor during his sadness while Susan died and then when Robin fledged from the nest. But that led him to invite us into the house. What a blessing that has been. We’ve helped him anchor, I think.”

“Not to mention the stray urchins who pass through here. We always seem to know which ones will work for us, and us for them.”

“Usually. I think Ariel is a keeper, though I don’t suppose she’ll be content in this house forever. She will stay in the area now.” June spoke as if saying it made it so which it did. “She’s home, you know.”

“Probably she’ll partner up. I have a feeling it might be with a woman, speaking of that.”

“Speaking of that.” Their hands reached out massaging knees and sliding up thighs to their matched pair of v-shaped crotches…. The flames kindled a bit more this time. “I do believe there is a little juice flowing, Sweetie. Shall we adjourn to the bed? As inviting as the fire is, this floor is awfully challenging to my hips nowadays.”

“Not just yet,” said June. “I’d like to dedicate our rising flame to the collective fire – juice and muscle, sinew and bone. Semen and fallopian tubes – even ours that aren’t doing much any more. Our memories will suffice and can flow forward from the past into the future.” She turned her eyes towards the winged Isis statue that knelt on the mantle piece surrounded by lavender sprigs, calendula and feather bouquets, several cowrie shells and a large piece of obsidian. “May the Goddess bless all our unions and the gods rise to the charms and calls of Venus, Inanna and Isis. It is time. Help me up, Celestina mia, my knees are a bit creaky tonight.”

 

 

Ursula’s Burning Times

“Talking with Thea got my brain going on my own Burning Times stuff,” thought Ursula as she fixed herself a cup of tulsi and lavender tea after Thea and Owen left the store. “Do I really want to think about all that again? Yet, I have such a strong feeling that many of us in this community experienced being burned, hung or drowned in past lives….” She shuddered. “And that we have come here to get over it together. We are learning to live in a small town and not only survive, but thrive.”

She thought back to when it had all really come to the fore in a Healing Group session way back in the late 90’s. It had been her turn to be in the center of the circle with Pia, Molly, Cindy, Chloe, Stella and Owen. It wasn’t that she had any particular aches or ills but rather that they were practicing hands-on healing with each other. Usually at Ursula’s house. It was a stormy day, the rain beating on the south facing windows making the cozy fire in the stove all the more welcome.

Ursula lay on her belly on cushions covered by a light wool blanket. The others sat around her, first breathing together quietly to center and then softly toning in a blend of voices that incorporated Owen’s deep bass and the women’s altos and sopranos. Some molded their mouths to create the eerie melodic overtones that seemed to come from another realm than their own throats. After a few minutes without any discernable signal, the toning quieted and someone started a simple chant they knew well. “Oh, purify and heal us, heal us and free us.” The chant repeated for many rounds, sometimes softly, occasionally almost shouted. A few tentative harmonies came and went. A rattle sounded and Pia’s frame drum began a steady heartbeat. Ursula lay still, feeling the energy swirl around her, trying to empty her mind of her fears. “I am safe,” she reminded herself. “Loved. These are special friends all on a journey together.” She knew about their wounds…. It was time to open again to her own….

As the rattle crescendoed and then abruptly stopped, Ursula took a deeper breath and felt the others respond in kind. Then hands settled gently on her upper and lower back while others touched her feet and arms, and gently cupped the crown of her head. It was impossible to tell whose hands were whose and in fact it seemed like way more hands than the number of people she knew were there. “Stop trying to figure it out,” she told herself firmly.

Flashback, 1996

Presently Stella’s voice spoke quietly, almost dreamily. “I am getting a picture of Ursula in the woods, in a long dress with a basket of herbs on her arm in the early 1700’s somewhere in Europe. A blue dress. Her hair is much blonder than it is in this life. Oh, Ursula! I am getting the feeling that you were running, afraid for your life. You have been carrying pain here on your back for a long time.”

As Stella spoke Ursula felt waves of nausea and began to twitch. They had uncovered some past lives on Ursula’s body before that were important revelations about her relationships with her “growing up” family and with Charley but this one struck at her core in a new way.

“Breathe into your panic,” Chloe instructed.

“Breathe into her panic,” Owen ammended.

Soon Stella was describing seeing Ursula in a past life as a healer witch woman being chased after leaving the home of a patient.

Looking back now, Ursula remembered being of two minds about this revelation. One part of her was saying, “Of course! It makes perfect sense. Now I know why I’ve been drawn to all this stuff for so long.” Yet, she knew she was about to be incredibly sad and that it was going to be hard to bear.

They had begun to talk about what they were each receiving. Ursula would have a questioning thought, “I wonder what that would feel like?” and then impressions would come into her mind. Not like a screen she was watching. More like her imagination being very fertile and emotive. When she thought of it like that she would immediately become suspicious of herself, “I’m making it all up.” Yet she felt impelled to relax and go with it. Certainly there was no denying the increasingly strong feelings besieging her, all aspects of her body/mind now fully engaged.

“I have the impression it is my own village folk chasing me, not an organized inquisition group. A hectic, angry mob that knows me and wants me to be a scapegoat for something…. They’re very scared…. crop failures, famine…. they need someone to blame….” She could empathize with their fright and anger, yet their pain only magnified her own…. and…. betrayed, betrayed by people she loved and was helping…. Ursula thought of the hysteria in The Crucible.

As if in confirmation, Stella spoke her own impressions aloud, “I see betrayal here…. and torture.”

 

Back in the present for a moment, the store quiet around her, Ursula took a sip of her comforting tea and picked up a small statue of the ancient Mother Goddess. Fat and round, a clay model of the Venus of Willendorf, it fit into her hand providing tangible comfort. Soon her mind’s eye slipped back to the Healing Circle remembering how she had propped herself up on her elbows weeping, weeping hard – snuffling and wiping her nose on a tissue Cindy handed her…. Another awful feeling arose…. She almost knew who the betrayer was…. Could sense a presence…. Was he or she in the room with her here?

“Were you burned?” At first Ursula had thought Stella was referring to the marks on her arm from the previous day’s brush clearing around her house. Then she’d immediately had a strong image of herself tied to a stake. In fact, she’d had that image several times in the previous minutes but hadn’t mentioned it.

“Yes,” she whispered turning over and sitting up. “And my children and grandparents were watching. Don’t know if I even had a husband. I left my body quickly – I knew how to do that. But they didn’t realize I was no longer in my body…. Their pain was worse than the fire. I get the sense I was a loner for many lifetimes after that….” Tears were running down everyone’s faces. Owen’s strong arms held her from behind as she shook and shivered – her body wracked with reaction. It was hard to breathe into her agony yogically with her nose plugged up with tears.

“We all feel it, Ursula,” whispered Owen. “We’ve been there too.”

“Betrayer and betrayed,” wailed Pia.

“Atlantis, Crete, the Russian steppes. Over and over,” intoned Stella fiercely.

“We have much to heal.”

“And much to atone for….”

The chant came again. “Oh, purify and heal us, heal us and free us.”

As they began to tune into clock time and thus to wind down, Chloe and Molly each massaged one of Ursula’s feet gently, while others continued to talk about letting go of the pain. “Now that this is in your consciousness, you don’t have to carry it in your body anymore.”

“We can only be free to move forward when we have healed these ancient past life wounds.” Stella went on to warn Ursula to take good care of herself in the coming days.

“Take a bath filled with flowers,” Chloe counseled.

“Be sure to journal this,” Owen reminded her as they stood then in a circle with arms wrapped around each other, noting each other’s swollen eyes and puffy noses. Feeling so blessed to have uncovered another of the stories they had been holding inside them. For each knew they had their own version of the tale. Uncovering one wound helped them all.

 

Ursula remembered going home and blurting out her tale to Charley where he was weeding in the garden, before even getting into the house. His long hug had been a healing balm down to her very center. For several days she had been aching, battered and sore – wild jolts coming whenever Charley put any pressure on her scapula or held her close. He had sweetly held her close a lot. She’d had moments of sobbing again as well.

During the night she cried about that village wondering how they managed when the next woman went into labor after she was gone…. or the next child got sick and needed a special herb that only she knew where to find. What did they do then? But the image of her children of that life was the most haunting one. It made her heart hurt and sent her into sobs a number of times. No wonder she had this thing about wanting her present children close by. Some additional images came of other lifetimes, other horrific purges, but they felt more speculative on her own. She also had some flashes about people in her present life who might have been in some of those, but not knowing what to do with these thoughts she tucked them into the back of her mind where they still lay.

Mostly she had walked around feeling like she was in two worlds at once. The normal everyday one where dinner must be fixed and they watched a funny movie and she brushed her teeth. And then the numinous one – a momentous new sense of herself stretching back through the ages. A parallel universe that was very real and affecting her physically. Was it only the gorgeous sunny spring weather and the bursting wild flowers on the Mountain that made everything so crystalline and poignant? Her back was spewing images, vibrating, shimmering. Achingly alive with a mind of its own.

One of the most vivid after-impressions was that there had been a promise from the Goddess as Ursula called out for help during the chase. The promise seemed to be that the ancient ways would return and that she would have a hand in remembering them and live to see them active in another life…. This life…. She had held on to that assurance in the ensuing years since the uncovering of that past life in the Healing Circle and others on Stella’s and Chloe’s tables.

It was partly on this experience that she now based her assurance to Thea and others that they were recovering the old skills with the additional curriculum of learning how to live in small groups in harmony and understanding. “We are remembering our connections to the earth itself and to all beings, two-legged, six-legged, stone, tree, and star,” she said aloud to the things in the store now glowing with the intensity of her vision of the past and of the future. “I have a part to play and I will not have lived this pain or died these deaths (and how many more) in vain. Blessed Be.”

 

It was only a little later as Ursula was unpacking boxes that the bell on the door at Bear Essentials tinkled and Ursula looked up to see one of the young women come into the store. “Hullo, Rhea. What can I do for you?”

“I’ve been thinking about the grounding you did at Illahee School the other day. It helped a lot of the kids. In fact, it helped me. I’ve heard about grounding but I never really knew what it meant beyond some sort of connection with the earth…. Umm…. I’m wondering if you would be willing to teach a class for grownups about this stuff.”

“Funny you should ask. I’ve had a couple of requests for just such a thing and have decided to do a combined psychic skills and ritual class. Thea is interested. Do you know her? She’s the painter who moved into town this summer.”

“I’ve seen her around. I know that Janna and Mariposa would be interested. Were you thinking monthly?”

“I was thinking weekly so we can build consistent energy. I have Thursday evenings free after yoga ends at 5:45. Would 7 pm on Thursdays work for you?”

“It would be perfect. Can we start it immediately? For some reason I’m feeling some urgency about this.”

“I don’t see why not. You seem to be my final nudge. The less time I have to worry about it the better. I’ll put a message out on the AOK list and we’ll see who else is interested and how it wants to evolve. I’m thinking we might even take on some of the seasonal rituals. I know the old hands would love to have some relief from that responsibility.”

Rhea looked excited. “Oh and I wanted to tell you a story that came out of that grounding you taught at school. First of all we decided as a group – both kids and teachers – that we no longer give “time outs” but ask each other to take some time to “get grounded.” So the other day, one of the younger boys, an intriguingly spacey sort, was unable to settle to anything. Celeste sent him off to get grounded. He went up into the loft and didn’t return for a long time. Didn’t come back and didn’t come back. When he finally reappeared in a very calm state, he whispered into Celeste’s ear, ‘It really takes a long time to get to the center of the earth.’ What do you suppose he was seeing?”

“That is truly lovely. Thank you so much for telling me. Perhaps someday we’ll hear the details of his journey from him.”

After Rhea left, Ursula shook her head in disbelief. “Okay, Spirit, Bear, Whoever. You’re kicking my butt good now. I guess there is no more time to dally about getting all this stuff out.” She sat down at her computer before she could second guess herself, typed for a minute and then firmly clicked “Send.”

From: aok@ nekelew.net

To: Undisclosed Recipients

Subject: Greenwitch Magic 101

Reply to: Ursula@nekelew.net

I am starting a class on Magical Basics to be held Thursday evenings from 7-9 pm at my house on Mountain Lane. I’m thinking for starters we’ll cover techniques of grounding, calling circles, using your healing hands, clearing space, smudging, creating altars, doing ritual and setting intention. You’ll have a chance to help at the seasonal community rituals and will also gain skills to help with your personal journey.

Suggested payment is $10 per class but the Begging Bowl will accept any amount. More will help cover costs for those who can pay little or nothing. Trades are also a possibility.

 

 

Owen at the Tree 1

Owen had never known how to describe the giant Sitka Spruce before him well up in the Logan Family Forest, across the highway from most of the houses in the north end of the community. Always he was filled with awe at the powerful presence of THIS GREAT-GREAT GRANDMOTHER OF THE FOREST. The roots and branches – even those several stories above – were themselves the size of most large trees. The ferns growing way up overhead on her thick branches were the size of a VW bug. She was like an elephant, or rather, a whole tower of elephants. Huge legs. Massive body. One could almost see her wise eyes beaming and sense her enormous beating heart…. Yet, none of these images sufficed to express the power of her physical presence. The reverence she engendered was as boggling as a giant cathedral. Her connection to All That Is…. An ancient, gigantic force….

As kids he and Gordy had climbed into those branches. He could still see the frayed ends of the ropes they’d used to pull themselves up, ropes probably strung by their father and his brothers. They had even spent the night there on occasion, but it had always been spooky somehow and by the time they were teenagers Gordy had become disinclined for that particular adventure. Owen had continued on solo for a few years but his dreams while there had become disturbing, and soon his travels away from the community meant that he too left the Sitka behind.

Since his return twenty-five years ago, he hadn’t neglected the tree entirely, but he came up rarely and not to spend the night. The Medicine Groups held ceremony here from time to time. It took at least a dozen people, hands outstretched, to reach around it. He’d also brought Robin and the Illahee children over the years, but he’d been disinclined to share the place with many. It was too special.

He wasn’t quite sure why he had chosen this particular evening, but he sensed that September’s Equinox Labyrinth had woken something in him. Ever since then he’d been feeling a strong call to journey inward, to spend a night in deep listening to the Tree and the forest as a whole.

Owen settled into a soft mossy place in the crook of the Grandmother Sitka’s mammoth roots. He could feel the tree embracing him, loving him. It was almost as if she was congratulating him on following his inclination to choose this spot on this night. “OK, I’ll take that affirmation,” he whispered.

His thoughts as he centered in were full of Daniel Giamario’s Shamanic Astrology idea Pia had talked about the other night in the Medicine Circle – how Rising Signs are what we are here to learn this time around, while Moon Signs are the expertise we bring into the world from former lives. His own Cancer Moon explained his innate ability to care for others, his mothering of Robin after his wife’s death, and even his strong on-going connection at Illahee, both to the group as a whole and to the some of the needier children there. It was so easy for him to reach them through nature. Kids that were having trouble reading, especially those coming discouraged from other schools, thrived when Illahee got them out in the woods. Finding a newt or an animal skull could spur an interest in looking it up and it didn’t take much nudging for a drawing and eventually a little writing about it…. He knew he was also inclined to be something of a worrying mother hen. Maybe that was the shadow side of his Cancerian expertise. His Libra Sun gave him balance, but he could get fretful especially about details and young people.

His mind’s eye flickered over times when he’d been overly fussy about the children’s safety. It was hard to listen to Celeste’s sage advice that huge learning leaps often occurred right after a kid had climbed high in a tree or scaled a rocky incline. It seemed that mastering a physical challenge often meant immediate advancement of an elusive academic skill. Brain-mind connections. Somatic learning. Illogically, he still fretted even knowing his own and his brother’s tree born adventures, perhaps because of those escapades.

His Scorpio rising sign was intimidating. A wizard? He didn’t think so. Although lately the Green Man archetype had been moving him almost to tears. Green Man. Pan. That wild ultra-masculine forest being, the uncontrollable aspects of Nature – floods, typhoons, lightening-set fires. Spring growth. Procreation. Rampant sex.

Owen grinned. It was hard to imagine that part of himself going wild. What would a goatish rampage look like in a sensitive widower tuned into children and plants? Unpartnered too. No easy outlet there. He’d certainly never felt like casual encounters. Was there somebody to play Green Woman to his Green Man self? Goldberry to his Tom Bombadil? For a minute he wallowed in a longing he rarely admitted to himself. He loved Tolkien’s image of the cozy, wooded cottage and imagined a Northwest American version with Tom’s magical appearances here and there to spur the furious growth of a coastal spring and summer – blackberries and Old-Man-in-the-Ground, those vine beings that curled relentlessly, reaching for sun and nutrients. Butterflies. Bees. Pollen. Sex.

Yet right now was the opposite season. The dying back. At sixty-four, his life matched this October season. He listened to a couple of raccoons chittering in the distance, almost a quarrel, but not quite. The bats swooped low. The full moon was hidden at the moment but its silvery light gave an eeriness to the density of the forest. Suddenly he felt a little spooked. All alone in the woods…. on the Mountain…. He could almost hear a hummm, a low throb of the life within the Mountain. He’d forgotten about that pulse. Hadn’t heard it for a while….

He opened the thermos of tea he’d packed. Chamomile, catnip and salal from his garden to ground and calm, with a pinch of lobelia to heighten his sense of adventure, but also to help with any lingering PTSD upwellings. He’d tossed some motherwort in too – its scientific name, Leonuris cardiaca, lionhearted, speaking to courage in transitions which is what he was really asking for. His Libra self liked the balance of all those opposites. An aventurine stone was in his coat pocket. He used to think it was “adventurine” with a “d” but had recently learned that it was about growth, especially opening and clearing the heart chakra which he figured also means it’s about courage for making shifts. “Coeur” meaning “heart” in French.

Leaning back he settled the orange and brown Peruvian woven wool blankets he’d brought a little more comfortably behind and under him, his thoughts drifting to more prosaic topics. His upcoming conversation with Gordy about finances was sure to be unpleasant. An article to be written for the Conservancy Trust newsletter about making peace with invasive species. His nagging question about the importance of Devil’s Club…. He looked towards the stand of Devil’s Club he knew was just outside this clearing, but it was now too dark to distinguish one plant from another. This would be a good place to Journey with it….

Held in the arms of the Great Grandmother Sitka, he mused about all the people who had come into his life since his boyhood days in Mahonia and Nekelew. He had been lonely then for others who loved this place in the way he did. So many of his growing up peers either lived here without noticing or had been set on moving away. He had left too….

The Vietnam War had been calling as he graduated from Nekelew High School and going had seemed the right thing to do. For sure he didn’t have any other options lined up for himself. He wasn’t exactly the studious type. Nor wanting to learn a trade…. The War. Now there was a topic he didn’t want to think about. These home woods were so different from the tortured jungles around Duc Pho.

On the other hand, his visit to the Amazon Basin a few years ago had been all too similar a landscape. The sensory overlap of sound and smells of the two jungles had given him flashbacks of terror in the midst of learning about traditional healing plants on Peru’s Madre de Dios River, making it a truly heroic shamanic dismemberment journey. It had felt like a blowing asunder of his body parts like his recurring flashbacks of others’ deaths and dismemberments. However, the vision medicines had shown him some clear distinctions of time and place that allowed him to make peace with the differing energies. The war was then. The medicine plants were so very NOW. The war and its aftermath had tempered rather than broken him. He had been lucky – neither physically wounded, nor so psychologically scarred that he had fallen into debilitating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Alcohol had been an issue, as had pot. But thanks to his higher powers for AA, he was now clear of those substances. He knew they could be sacraments, but he had overused them and they had taken over for a while. Drinking and smoking too much had worked to drown out the shrieking demons haunting him from the Asian jungle but he knew he had become too deadened to be useful to this world and his deep connection here in the temperate Oregon rainforest.

The people now in his life had shown him the possibilities of a spiritual pursuit and after the Amazon he had studied far afield with different teachers to learn about the sacred inward paths with no further need of outside hallucinogenic infusion…. Thus his thoughts led to the typical drumbeat for shamanic journeying and he began to hear it in his head….