Drumming 1

Ursula was curled up on the couch happily ensconced in the newest Diana Gabaldon time traveling novel, when Charley came into the living room at full speed. “Are we going to drumming tonight?”

“Shit. I forgot. What time is it now? I’ll need to make something for the potluck.”

“It’s almost 5. We’ve got some potatoes and rosemary. How ‘bout scalloped potatoes. I actually liked it when you made it with rice milk recently.”

“You know, that takes a while and we’ll be at the beach. Let’s just roast the potatoes in foil in the fire.”

“Good idea.”

 

“Looks like the weather is good enough for drumming outside tonight,” said Pia happily to Raven gathering things for the evening from their own cozy kitchen. “I’m glad we have Sitka House as a backup but I’m looking forward to one more beach night.”

“Have you been weather witching again, girl?”

“A little – I just put it out there as a low key request. Nothing urgent. Owen did too. There might not be a connection but it looks to be a good night. So yay.”

“It’s a delicate balance knowing when to ask and when to plead and when to let it go, isn’t it? I guess we’re all getting better at that sort of thing.”

“Anyway, I’ve marinated potatoes, mushrooms and zukes for shish-ka-bob. I think Carlos is bringing lamb for the carnivores. So we’ll need to take the grill for the fire. Did you put the drums and my flute in the car?”

“Yep, we’re all set. Are we taking anybody?”

“Arlo said he’d hitch over and carpool with us. I suggested he invite Jay and Fern from here. Oh and their little one. I think we can fit them all in.”

“Here they come now.”

 

“I kinda wanna to the Full Moon drumming tonight,” Uri said to Michael who was working as usual on his laptop. The desk in the house they’d just moved into was already cluttered with papers.

“Mmmm,” responded Michael noncommitally.

“I know it’s not your thing, but I’m shy about going by myself. You know all those people and can help me connect in.”

“You don’t need me.”

“Yes, no, maybe, but I want to spend the evening with you and I’m getting that I need to do this. I’m feeling some important stirrings in the air this night. I’ve got my special vegetable curry rice all ready to go.”

“You and your stirrings. Okay. You know I’m skeptical of all that, but I know the music means a lot to you. Let me get to a stopping place with this report. There probably are some people there I ought to be talking to.”

 

“Golly, Miss Molly, I’m tired,” thought Molly eying the cold wood stove as she took off her work boots in her living room. “Should I really be going out to drum tonight? Yes. It will be good for me to move my body differently. I can pick up some chips at the store. I certainly don’t have the energy to fix anything.”

 

Owen carried an armload of kindling and newspapers down to the beach access just north of the fork in the road beyond Sitka house. The sky was gray but the rain was holding off. His and Pia’s conspiracy seemed to have worked. They were getting better at knowing when and how to judiciously use their weather juju. This had seemed like an important night to gather outside.

There were some burned bits of driftwood in a circle of rocks and he was soon able to scrounge up more. The pickings were slim this time of year after the summer hoards and before the winter storms brought more in. He started to worry whether others would bring some to add, but reminded himself firmly that he could go get more at the house if need be.

He knelt and built a teepee of kindling stuffed with newspaper, and with a prayer for just the right mix of harmony and edgy dissonance in the evening, set the match to it. He had to do a little blowing but it was soon burning merrily. He loved the act of building the fire to call others in.

As he sat by the growing blaze, he noticed an eagle cruising up the beach towards him. He watched it happily, and then his heart soared as it circled low over his head before heading up towards the Mountain.

“Thanks, Eagle, for the gift of your presence. Good happenings tonight, eh? Thank you, Mountain, for your continued…ummm…. sourcing of our process.” He didn’t know quite what he meant by the latter, but certainly the Mountain’s presence was a constant in their lives that brought the Medicine Circles good energy as well as challenges. Full Moon Drumming wasn’t necessarily a Medicine Circle function, but there was a definite overlap of folks who liked this kind of anarchistic hippie thunder drum music with those who were the healers and seekers of his soul tribe. Certainly the bonds forged at these gatherings, usually held at a different people’s homes, helped the community as a whole, both spiritually and with their sustainability “agenda.”

He turned from his musing as some folks he didn’t recognize came up behind him. Newcomers were often a little early, not sure of the protocol.

“Hi, I’m Owen Logan.” He held out his hand.

“We met at Bear Essentials recently,” said the woman. “We’re Jasmine and Gideon Terranova and this is our son, Finch. We don’t have any drums, but Ursula said….”

“There will be plenty,” Owen assured her.

As if in confirmation, Pia and Raven appeared over the dunes carrying a big conga and its stand, followed by Arlo with his djembe. Jay and Fern staggered in with a cooler of their beer between them. Little Anise followed lugging a bag of percussion instruments. Gabe brought two doumbeks and Alex another conga.

Soon there was a goodly crowd of all ages, glowing in the golden light of the magic hour. A table had been improvised on a relatively flat-topped log a little ways from the fire circle. A couple of people were already digging into Cali’s cookies. Pia added her veggie shish kabob sticks on a grill along side the ones Carlos had already laid down. Underneath were Charley’s potatoes pre-wrapped in foil with rosemary and a dollop of butter.

Ursula stood behind them, holding baby Menolly and cooing to the bright-eyed little one who was cooing right back. Pia stood up to admire her. “Such a sweet little Dragon Girl, isn’t she?”

“Always a miracle that she’s here,” Ursula whispered, knowing that Pia understood how much her granddaughter meant to her. Children and dogs raced around them in the sand, a few middle school aged teens wandered down the beach picking up trash, while groups of adults clustered in conversation.

“Pia, I hear from Charley that you’re cooling on the idea of doing the workshop and Re-Treat business,” said Ursula after she’d handed the baby back to Cali to nurse.

“I’m not cooling on the idea, but I realized after talking to you guys the other night that I just don’t have the right energy to do it. My body gives off unhappy vibes whenever I think of making the phone calls to get things rolling.”

“An important sign you need to listen to.” Ursula turned conversationally to the newcomers who were standing at her elbow.

“We’ve been wishing a long time for someone to set up what we’ve been calling a Re-Treat and Re-Creation program to do speaker gigs and workshops here. A form of eco-tourism we could live with. Yoga weekends or visiting shamans and healers who could teach us new stuff, or whatever.”

“It doesn’t even have to be outsiders,” added Pia. “Plenty of folks here might be coaxed into doing a workshop if details like regional PR were handled for them. My partner Raven and I were talking about organizing this effort but now don’t think we’re going to.”

“Where would the workshops be given and where would people stay?” asked Gideon. “There certainly aren’t any big lodges or conference centers here.”

“We think it would work to use places like the community centers in each of the towns and various meeting rooms here and there. The Art Center often has space, for instance, and so do some of the spas. Actually, the vacation rental agencies have the conference room facilities scoped out, but they don’t have time to book groups or handle logistics. Obviously places for people to stay are scattered about – rental houses plus B & B’s. There are several restaurants like Arachne’s Web who do side catering work.“

“Sounds intriguing to do it in a decentralized way,” said Jasmine. “I used to do retreats for a conference center back east. Where would we start if we were to do something like this?”

“Wow,” said Pia. “Not to jump all over you, but you might be the answer to our prayers. I’d be happy to fill you in on what we’ve been thinking. It’s perfect for an economic development grant since it can be pitched as taking advantage of our existing visitor population yet keeps us from filling with T-shirt shops.”

“I love it when you talk ‘dirty’ like this, Pia,” said Molly. “I can just hear those well-oiled wheels in your brain turning.”

“Takes one to know one,” laughed Pia. “I haven’t been able to think of any reason why it wouldn’t be viable…. besides my own lack of energy for it. My wheels aren’t rusty but they’re ready for a different kind of track….”

“Or something like that,” laughed Ursula.

“The Healers Guild will collaborate,” offered Charley who had come over to add his two cents. “That always appeals to funders.”

“Wouldn’t you need non-profit status?” asked Gideon.

“Maybe,” said Charley. “We just happen to have the Cedar ReSource Center’s 501c3 to sponsor projects that are….”

“….moving our River and Mountain community towards sustainability.” Molly and Ursula chanted this last bit in unison with Charley. “Don’t we sound like a grant proposal already?”

“We’re both on the Board,” Molly explained to the Terranovas. “Charley is staff.”

“I’ve been wondering what that was about,” Jasmine said. “It all sounds intriguing.”

“The Center helps pull pieces together for new projects. Dreaming. Conjuring. Networking. Manifesting. Even providing technical help sometimes like bookkeeping and grant writing. That’s how the Portland State Locus program landed here,” said Charley.

“Wow, I wonder if I could do this project and write too,” said Jasmine. “But maybe they would kind of feed each other. It would be cool to have the Harner people come to town. I’d really like to learn from such folks….”

“I worked with them training for Soul Retrieval work,” said Owen.

“We figured it could start with all the teachers each of us has had over the years,” said Molly.

“In fact, you could probably get a Locus intern right off the bat,” said Charley.

“It could be musicians too,” mused Finch who had been listening intently to all this.

“The ‘shishes are ready,” called Raven squatting by the fire. One of the young mothers, a two year old clutching her pant leg, began helping the bigger kids roast hot dogs on skewers.

“Let’s have tea together next week and I can give you names and contacts on the local end.”

Ursula and Pia gave each other high fives as the others turned toward the food. “Yesss!”

“I knew they were live ones!

Pia Morning 1

Pia sat playing solitaire and feeling rather dull. Ace of Diamonds. Jack of Clubs. Why was it that she liked the clubs least of all? What did that say about her? Queen of Hearts. Now there was a sweet one. But where was the Jack of Hearts that needed to go on top? If it was buried she was done for.

As her fingers and mind played with the silly combinations and coped with the frustration of starting over and over, she was also idling like a car engine waiting at a train crossing for the arrival of someone – or something – so she could move on.

There were a lot of things she could be doing today. She could go over to the Zimmer’s and talk with them about beginning to connect into the hospice situation with their grandmother who had just been moved into their “granny flat.” They’d advertised recently for caregivers. She could write the article she’d promised Cali for the next issue of Squawk! She could at least decide the subject of the article. She could search out Raven in his studio garage at the bottom of the hill and have a talk about whether or not to do the retreat workshop coordinating business they’d been fantasizing setting into place….

King of Diamonds needs the Queen…. which is buried under the six of spades. Yes! There is the Seven of Spades free to give the six its spot…. If I can just find a place for the Three of Diamonds….

She’d told Charley and Ursula the other night that she was ready to search out the first speakers for the long dreamed of workshop series and ReTreat business. But she had not been speaking the whole truth. She knew how to make the initiatory calls. Among them all they had enough contacts to get a good line up for the first several at least. She knew how to do the PR and where to find a place and…. and…. She even knew the steps to take to launch the larger effort that they could pitch to potential funders as “economic development” and which she thought of as “local brewing.” But she hadn’t been able to get herself to make the calls. She wasn’t really sure she wanted to do it at all….

She could text Ursula right now and ask for a tarot reading. That might help her get over this hump or at least give a clue what the resistance was. She could climb the Mountain and see if some inspiration came to her on the hike…. “That’s a good idea,” she told herself heartily. “Maybe aerobic exercise will get me out of these doldrums.”

She’d been a busy girl most of her life – doing the good things that made it possible to have the good life and community she now enjoyed. This stalled feeling was a strange one for her who had always known the next steps. They had been so obvious. Pregnant and alone? Seek out a group of women to connect with for support. Want a home birth? Start a network to support the midwife she had just met. Have a child who needs friends? Round up the homebirth families for a preschool playgroup. Then a school. And who better than her to be the school secretary? It meant she was able to be near Arlo but not often in the classroom…. growing the crop of children that would carry out the next steps of the dream….

Her own Jack of Hearts did come along. Raven had swooped in with a passionate embrace of all that the community and its environs meant to her. He understood immediately the wider picture of what the bunch of them were up to. Plus he had been a perfect substitute father as Arlo entered his teen years and could benefit from the mentorship Raven offered. There had been some rough patches as the two guys learned to share her but the delicate balance of a triangle had been achieved with relative grace and Arlo had bloomed into a beautiful man.

She’d left the school office to Cindy a few years ago, wanting to try out her wings in some new endeavors. Raven’s success as a “trash” artist, combined with odd jobs and teaching art at the community college had meant a little freedom for her from the press of wage earning. She – and then they – had always needed very little to live on. When it became obvious that the house she’d lived in for years would be sold when the elderly owners died, she and Raven had set about organizing the Housing Trust to create the cooperative neighborhood of their dreams. Elk Ridge achieved, she had a little income as coordinator of the development and now as nominal manager. But…. she was restless again.

A cup of coffee would perk her up and give her the energy to do whatever it was she decided on for this day at least. She could even walk down to the restaurant and have a latte if she wanted. Not even a skinny soy one. The possibility of that treat gave her comfort and allowed her to muddle a bit more.

She kept getting the feeling that she shouldn’t be doing admin stuff any more. She envied Ursula for having created a nice new niche that seemed to involve less organizational shit. Plus Charley had the Cedar ReSource Project going and had some income. She and Raven didn’t need much but she ought to be contributing her share….

Could the astrology thing be formalized a little more and become a money source? She didn’t know enough to get professional on that score…. She couldn’t even figure out what was going on astrologically with her own self right now and couldn’t afford the training she would need to do it right. In fact, she generally wasn’t inclined to get more training in anything specific. “Making it up” as she went along had always been her modus more than going to school.

It bothered her that she and Raven had publically insinuated that they were actually going to do the ReTreat business (or whatever it was going to be called). Would it be a terrible copping out to just not do it? She didn’t like to be seen as flaking out on something she “signed up” for. Of course, who, but herself, was making her do it? “Surely you have enough of a track record of accomplishing what you’ve set out to do,” she chided herself. “Nobody will think lesser of you. They’ll be disappointed. This is something we’ve all visualized. Is it up to you to make it happen?” She didn’t think Raven would care. He was counting on her to do the organizational part of it anyway. Maybe there was someone else they could help get going on it….

What if this was like her aborted vision quest back when Arlo and crew were doing them as part of finishing high school. Someone had to model coming down before the end. It had gotten cold and rainy. Late March was a dumb ass time for a solo in the woods with only a tarp for protection. Nevertheless, it had been hard for her to sensibly give up and walk down off the Mountain without even a single night alone….

Round and round her thoughts went. Maybe she should climb the Mountain – visit the Shrine – see if there was any guidance to be had up there.

But as she was putting on her faded purple sweatshirt (Nekelew High Class of 2000) and scarlet tennies, another thought occurred to her. It had been a long time since she’d been to the River. If she went through the State Park she could walk around where the River neared the ocean and visit the Bay Shrine. The mate to the one on the Mountain. With this thought a heron flew over heading towards the estuary. Long legs sticking out, it gave a single throaty honk of greeting which seemed to confirm the notion that her watery side needed addressing rather than the earth and fire of the mountain. Checking her watch, she grinned to see 11:11. It was always a good sign when the numbers were the same or lined up in a sequence, but all ones was an especially significant omen.

Ursula R & R Day

“I’m going to play hooky from the store today,” Ursula informed Charley watching him add walnuts and kelp flakes into the oatmeal he was stirring. She wished she could have brown sugar and cinnamon instead, but they’d vowed to stay on a healthy kick at the moment. “Would you put this note on the door that I’ll be open again on Thursday?”

“What are you going to do?”

“I feel the need for a wandery sort of day to think about all that we talked about last night in the hot tub.”

“I’d join you but I’m meeting with Michael to iron out more details,” said Charley. “You’d probably rather be on your own anyway.”

“Yeah, I’ve got some solo musing to do. Sorry I begged off on talking to the Sustainability group the other day. When I talked to Michael at Harvest Fest I was caught in my “doing things” mode. Showing off. It’s challenging to remember not to leap at every request and need.”

“No worries, Sweetie. I’m assuming you won’t need the car. How ‘bout I bring home something from Arachne’s Web for dinner so you don’t even have to think about that.”

“Yum. Have a good day,” she said as he picked up his backpack and a canvas tote stuffed with papers and headed out the door.

Soon Ursula was out the back door with a mug of tulsi lavender tea in hand and a notebook in her pocket. The air was chilly today and smelled of fall. The sky was overcast and she was glad she’d put on her blue shawl.

“What does it mean to be a teacher of stuff you’ve only just picked up along the way? Do I know enough? I’ve taken workshops from some pretty powerful people – shamans all I’d say. But can I call myself a shaman?” She shuddered at the audacity of the thought and settled herself on the promontory’s stone seat overlooking the ocean. “I don’t think one can name oneself that. I can see where some of us have characteristics of a shaman and I would be honored if I heard that others consider me that but….” She watched the waves break down below her.

“What’s the difference between shaman and witch?” she wondered. “I started using the term ‘witch’ because it seemed simpler, closer to wisewoman, and the word needed to be reclaimed and de….de-horriblized. But thinking of it this way makes me even wonder about using that word. Humility. I’m sure the ancient ones – teachers and spirits alike – would counsel being humble…. So what makes it okay to teach?”

Somebody has to.” The words came from the very air around her. Or was it from the Steller’s Jay that chittered and clucked at her from the decrepit old alder at her right?

“Somebody has to,” she agreed. “There are many ready to learn. They don’t all need to go through the experimenting we’ve had to do. Feeling our way, we’ve laid new paths and we might as well teach others to follow them. Or at least they can start out on known paths before striking out cross-country the way kids often do on the Mountain. Nobody has to take what I say as gospel. I can give plenty of room for differing experiences and styles of seeing the paranormal and creating…. Especially if much of the class is sharing experiences – opening each other’s eyes to the whys and hows of it all. Which is how we in the Medicine Circles learned it ourselves. This will just be a more concentrated and directed version of our process over the last twenty-some years.”

She jumped up at that reassuring thought and leaving her now empty mug behind, headed down into the hollow where her private hut sat amidst the elderberry and salmonberry bushes. The foxgloves in the clearing had fallen over and it was time to hack again at the blackberry vines muscling in from the edges but it wasn’t as overgrown as it was some years at summer’s end. How lovely to have had time this year to keep things relatively cleared.

The door to the one-room hut was sticking as usual and the 10 x10 room smelled unused – unaired anyway. As always the terracotta colored walls soothed and inspired her. She shook out the rag rug over the porch railing and then lay down on the bed, enjoying anew the colorful pillows and the ancient patchwork quilt that had been her great-grandmother’s handiwork. The walls were covered with friends’ creations and a few of her own collages. Process work documenting the journeys of so many of the women in the community. “I’ll have to shift things if this space is to have more universal appeal as a quiet retreat,” she thought. “It may be a womb – everyone comes from the womb and should go back there from time to time – but men need to feel comfortable here too.” When her son Salal slept out here one winter between adventures, most of this stuff had been taken down.

“One of Carlos’s small sculptures would go nicely on the low shelf that lined the west wall. That would please him. I can hang the two collages I did of men’s healing process. Add a tarot deck – maybe the Herbal Tarot. Its simple images are accessible and it’s such a great right brain way to learn about herbs. I wonder what other books….”

Stretched out on the bed, hands behind her head, her mind tumbled on in happy planning mode, thinking of people hiding out here, licking their wounds and finding healing wisdom in the items she laid out. “I’ll put a Begging Bowl here too. It’s a perfect place for that hand painted ceramic one I found at ReBound the other day. People can contribute whatever they feel moved to. A guest book to share about their time here. Should I bring down some of my own journals? I’ll have to see if there are things I should be editing out. I could retype the parts that make sense to share of my journey…. ” That was a tiring thought….

.…Ursula woke at a jay’s loud squawk in the tree out the window. She was disoriented for a minute but soon, giggling at herself and her creative conjuring process, she began to jot down a list as she got inspired all over again. “Toilet paper. Hankies, another mug, more candles, check to see that the flashlight still works.” She’d learned to keep a flashlight down here because more than once she’d fallen asleep until it was too dark to see her way up the path. “Enough. I need to move around again.” She took a swig from the water jug she kept by the door.

Following the short path east out of the hollow to the edge of their property, she thought as she always did about the undeveloped land next door, wondering how they could possibly acquire it if the present absentee owners ever decided to sell. She sent a little energy call winging into the brambles that extended up towards the highway for the right people to land there. Someone who would contribute to the whole community and to this little patch on the Mountain. The narrow path turned north slightly and then west again through the cedars Charley had planted when they were first building. Soon these trees so sacred to the Northwest native peoples would be a true grove, their uneven growth from the elk’s marauding indiscernible.

“Yay! The huckleberries are still going strong.” Charley had transplanted those bushes at the same time as the cedars. She ate a few and decided to go back to the house for a couple of empty yogurt containers. While there she checked her email. Nothing she had to deal with immediately but she sent out a query to Sylvia since it popped into her mind to see if she wanted to come over for a tarot reading. Soon she headed back to the hillside.

“Picking huckleberries is such a primeval thing to do. Bear-like too.” She sent a growl and a warble out to her spirit friend and helpmeet. “What should I be teaching in this course, hmmm? If I’m to do it, I’m going to need all sorts of help.”

She would do it, she was sure now as she recognized the enlivened buzz she was feeling. Spirit wanted her to do this and her helpers both human and dis-embodied would be at hand. She’d go sit in the sun soon on the deck and start making topic lists. “Teacher” was a good enough moniker for now.