New Year’s Eve Prep

Finding Allies

“We’re on our way to the Art Center to work on stuff for the New Year’s Eve parade. Anybody else want to come?” Charley issued a cheery invitation to anybody in earshot in Gaia Natural Foods, while Ursula gathered up edibles to sustain the group artistic endeavor.

A dread-locked head popped out from behind the produce aisle. “I keep hearing about the parade. What’s the deal?”

“The young people started it ten or so years ago. We rent the community center and hang out with costume trunks and music and potluck goodies. Just before midnight a lot more people turn up and we all head down Main Street with flaming torches, giant puppets, and banners. There are drummers and general shenanigans. This year Ariel’s brass marching band friends from Portland are coming so the music should be particularly fun.”

“I’ve heard about that part. What are you doing at the art center?”

“During this week between Christmas and New Years we take over the large common room at the Art Center and get creative. Some puppets last from year to year but it’s fun to make at least one new big thing. The huge skeleton man and turtle finally got eaten by rats in my daughter’s barn. I don’t know if the guys will want to get down the big bird they hung up at ReBound. But when we left last night it looked like a dragon was beginning to take shape.”

“It’s really fun,” said Ursula coming up. “You never know who or what is going to show up. The young folks have already made one trip to ReBound scavenging for likely materials and will probably make a few more. I’ve got fabric I’ve been collecting plus other odds and ends. I want to make a bunch of banners this year.”

“Maybe I’ll come by. I’m pretty good on the sewing machine. I’ve done a lot of theater work.”
“Perfect,” said Charley. It really is street theater.”

“Is the parade legal?” asked an older man overhearing their conversation.

“The kids always wanted it to stay anarchistic like it was in the beginning,” answered Charley. “But us parent types rented the hall for a staging area the second year and by the third year felt we should honor the City’s request to work on some of the logistics. Small town politics, you know. For one thing, it was making things awkward for our friend, Tad, the police chief. Then the City made us apply for a permit that involved paying 300 bucks for event insurance. We went along with it that year to keep the peace. The next year a group of us identified with it were out of town and the parade happened anyway. The following year we pointed out that it had taken on a life of its own like Times Square and that the City’s insurance covers it just like the 4th of July parade they sanction. They agreed to mellow out about it if we would help with security. So we round up volunteers to wear vests at the intersections. The whole thing only lasts about twenty minutes from start to finish.”

“Who’s we?” asked the man.

“Cedar ReSources  – a citizens group that is working towards sustainability in our area villages. We see the parade as a great community building opportunity. It doesn’t hurt the economics of the holiday week either. Now there are parties and bands at a number of venues and people make reservations at the inns along the street months in advance.”

“Come on by the Art Center to see the process. For sure show up for the fun on the 31st. You could even wear a security vest,” Charley offered.

Ursula reappeared with her basket loaded. “OK. I’ve got cheese and wine and chips. Carrots and cauliflower. Molly is making hummus. Raven promised brownies. That should hold us for the afternoon. I’m figuring we can order some pizzas for whoever is around at supper time.”

“Let’s grab some beer.”

“I hear they’re making animal masks this year like the ones they did for Solstice,” said the young girl behind the counter. “I’ll be there when I’m off work.”



The Art center was already humming in creative chaos when Charley and Ursula arrived. Beer bottles from the night before and active looking latte cups were scattered amidst piles of fabric and poles, glue guns and scissors. A young girl Ursula didn’t know was making fairy wings with Maddie from Elder House. A couple of sewing machines stood idle at the moment but obviously had been put to good use judging from the clutter around them. Ariel’s cadre of teenagers doing papier mach masks had been joined by Thea. Raven was helping Orca and Summer turn a rainbow colored tent into a dragon’s head. Its tail was a roll of green nylon fabric Cali had contributed from her garage stash.

As Ursula spread out provisions, a group came in the door. “More materials,” said Carlos as he and Marina came gaily through the door. “Buckets for drums. We want lots this year. And look at this cool wire mesh. It’s gotta be good for something.”

“Here’s some more sparkly fabric for you fairies,” offered Marina. “It came in just as we got there. How ‘bout these placemats for the dragon’s eyes?”

“Phew!” said Ursula quietly to Charley. “Looks like we’re on a roll here. The last couple of years have been kinda flat. The news of the brass band coming helps.”

“It doesn’t hurt to have Marina and Arlo around, plus Ariel’s new energy. The flock of birds seems to have landed – at least for the moment. Plus Thea and Mariposa for their first New Year’s. Looks like our Intention juju is still working. There’s Finch Terranova too.“

“Such a dance we all do, keeping the energy moving,” Ursula said, moving to give Charley a hug.

“It’s worth it,” he smiled down at her and kissing her lightly.

“It is indeed. Warms my heart, it does. As always.”

“Molly said to tell you that she and Gabe will be down after ReBound closes,” Carlos relayed to Ursula.

“Ursula, did you bring your animal picture books?” called out Ariel.

“Yes, and the Ted Andrews book on animal symbolism in case some of you want to look things up.”

“Can you tell us more about Power animals?” Thea asked.

“I like the way your mask is taking shape. That’s a good way to bond with your Cougar another degree, isn’t it? And you’ll have fun playing with it. Did you tell them about how you got your new friend?’

“Yes, but not everyone can do that formal shamanic process right now. Finch and Zydeco are having trouble choosing what to make.”

“Owen would probably do an emergency session,” Ursula laughed, “but short of that, I’d suggest thinking about some animal you love. Just let one come into your mind. Do you ever dream of animals? Especially if you have more than once.

“ I’ve been dreaming about Elk lot,” said Zydeco.

“There you go. I’d say that is an important messenger for you to explore.”

“But I’m kind of afraid of them when they turn up around ReBound.”

“All the better,” responded Ursula. “Dig into that. As Starhawk says, ‘Where there’s fear, there’s power.”

“Who did you cuddle with as a child?” Ursula continued turning to the others.  “Did you have an imaginary animal friend? It’s really about listening to a call…. Even just opening one of these books at random and seeing if the creature pictured resonates.”

“I had a raccoon friend,” said a skinny teen with multi-colored hair.

Ursula thought she might be the daughter of the woman who worked at the Locovore Garden but she couldn’t remember her name. Sierra? Cheyenne? “That would be a great connection for you.”

“Can you have more than one power animal?“

“Absolutely. I have several as does everyone I know. Sometimes you’ll have a main one for a time. A particular part of your life or a season. And it’s not just animals, remember. It can be trees, plants, even the Earth herself. Stars, gods, goddesses, angels. Anything that feels like a guide or an ally to you. A helper. Something who’s qualities you would like to share or learn from.”

“Awk Awk,” Raven laughed as he flew past with a handful of potato chips.

“Raven and I identified so much with our first animals that we changed our names to join them. He always has been a trickster sort and loves sparkly things.”

“And you are such a Mother Bear person.”

Finch picked up one of the books on the table and started leafing through it with a thoughtful air.

Orbs & Children’s Books

“So what do you think about these orbs that people are photographing?” Several of the “tribe” were sitting around the big round table at the Mermaid Bistro. Ursula and Thea had come after yoga class.

“What are orbs?” asked Ariel.

“Circles or globes of light that show up somehow on digital photographs. They are full of lacy, mandala like patterns.”

“Aren’t they just reflections or dust on the camera lens…. or something?”

“From what I hear none of those ‘explanations’ actually add up. They even happen under water. Plus, some people can actually see them.”

“Cindy can. In fact she even talks to them. She says they appear when people are really happy or spiritual – deeply connected in some way. They’re around children a lot. But they’ll come if you ask them to and if you’re in the right state of mind. Laughing. Connecting with nature.“

“You should see the pictures that Cindy took of them at last year’s Solstice ritual. They are all over the place as Charley is smudging. And she also got a couple at the Grandmother Tree, though she said she had to coax them to stay for the picture. They kept disappearing when she put up the camera.”

“It’s like they’re fairies or star beings or the gods and goddess or….”

“Maybe they are beings who have been around all along and we are just starting to be enough on the right wave length for more of us to see. Something about our frequencies….“

“And for the digital cameras to catch.“

“That reminds me of all that stuff in children’s books,” said Ursula. “Think about it – out of body experiences, flying, time travel, psychic connections, and other worldly beings like fauns and fairies and talking animals. Even the talking stars of Le Petit Prince or Wrinkle in Time. Children’s books have been a safe place for those who wanted to present paranormal phenomena and the mystical. One could write about any of that stuff and it could just be dismissed as an imaginative work for children. A lot of interesting ideas got planted in our brains by the Narnia and the Dark is Rising series. What if we need to be looking at those books more closely for clues?”

“I sooo longed for those books to be true! ‘Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning,’” Ariel quoted.

“Some of my favorites are the Green Knowe books,” said Ursula. “I’ve read them over and over. There’s the scene where Tolly and his granny are singing Christmas songs and are joined by the voices of all the children who lived in the house over the ages. He gets to play with them. His granny says at one point, ‘I always wondered who the mysterious boy in the stories was who rescued the children in the 17th century. That was you wasn’t it?’”

“You mean, Mom, that dragons might be real and we could talk to them psychically? Cool! I obviously have a thing about Anne McCaffery’s Pern books,” said Caliente thinking of her daughter and the name of her farm.

“Some say the Mountain is a dragon or has a dragon who lives on it somewhere. It certainly is associated with Fire. We should be open to the possibilities at least. These days it seems more and more like ‘The Goddess is alive and Magic is afoot,’ as the saying goes.”

“Hmmm. Maybe I should do a little more research on dragons,” mused Ariel.

“It always made me sad – angry even – that when the children had a magical experience, they were made to forget it when they got home. Pook at Pook’s Hill, a Fairy to Stay…. In the Narnia books Susan forgets as she gets older. ”

“But it gave me comfort that maybe I’ve experienced an adventure like that and just can’t remember it,” said Rhea.

There was a little pause while everyone at the table searched their memory banks wistfully for any traces of such a thing. Alas, as they say in the books.

“When you think about it, they’d have to forget for their own safety and sanity. They would have been labeled psychotic or at some points in history actually burned.”

“Yes, I read and hear about so many people today finally realizing their psychic gifts who remember being told that such things didn’t exist. Made to feel crazy or at least childish.”

“Some of them went through some pretty crazy times having repressed all that. Drug and alcohol addiction, suicides – I think a lot can be blamed on those early moments of the psychic pushed into the background by a culture freaked out about it. Read Judith Orloff’s Second Sight. She is a psychiatrist in Los Angeles who finally came to terms with her own suppressed psychic abilities and now is combining both worlds very effectively to help others integrate their experiences and gifts. She knows when to prescribe drugs and when to encourage shamanic journeying, for instance.”

“I do know of a few whose clairvoyance was quietly acknowledged by a family member and some even trained to expand on it. But they were usually told never to tell. There are people in this community who had that experience – one of whom has a Mom who to this day will not admit to any of it.”

“Somehow I never quite gave up my belief in fairies. I so wanted them to be true.  Even though I had no physical rational evidence,” said Cali wistfully.

“A guy visiting from Findhorn years ago admired my little meadow area at the house I keep everyone from mowing,” said Ursula. “He said they always left some areas natural like that for the fairies.”

“Oohh. Galadriel in Tolkein…. not to mention Gandalf.”

“We need to pay attention to something that brings up emotions that strong in all of us.”

“Do you think those children’s authors actually experienced those phenomena and remembered them?”

“It doesn’t matter. They may have thought they were ‘making it up.’ But what if they were channeling? What if they were being led to write stories that had hints and clues in them that could lead us to such experiences becoming normal. First we discovered them as children when our minds were more open. And then many of us read them to our children.” Ursula and Cali smiled at each other. It was nice to be talking about these things together.

“Or went back and reread them ourselves,” said Thea.

“Cindy and Chloe have both told me they’ve seen fairies and nature beings,” said Ursula. “Little flashes that they almost didn’t believe themselves. And the Findhorn books talk about being helped by what they call “devas” that various people could see and communicate with. I have to take those things on faith cause I don’t see them either but they gave me a huge sense of happiness that maybe I was right to have clung to my belief in fairies.“

“Maybe we should all go back and reread those books with new eyes.”

“I’ve done that and I’ve always wanted to put together a good list. I have a lot of them in the store anyway. Children’s and Young People’s books are great because they’re short and fairly simple in plot lines so they can be a quick and satisfying evening read. But of course it isn’t just the kids’ books – Marian Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series for starters. There’s a lot about psychic connections and training in her stuff.”

“Those books have such sad consequences,” Thea spoke up. “People are always getting harmed by their gifts.”

“Yes,” agreed Ursula. “And the ones where a group of psychics develop an essentially tantric open marriage of intercommunication sure ends badly. But they definitely have clues about needing to have to have intimacy and trust to psychically connect. Not necessarily sexual intimacy. You have to be able to trust each other with your inner thoughts. Because they are exposed…. You can’t lie – even to yourself. ”

“I’d say those books were definitely a product of the era they were written in. Hints of possibilities but in a non-accepting, fearful culture,” offered Thea.

“Like ours!”

“Time to rewrite the stories….”

“Hmmm. I’ve been saying that about myths too,” said Ursula.

“There’s lots of cool stuff in movies,” said Ariel. “Lord of the Rings and the Narnia series for instance.”

“I won’t watch them cause I’m too in love with my own long held images from the books.”

“They leave out so much of the subtlety.”

“Like Tom Bombadil!”

“But of course, there are hints in the movies too. The Matrix!”

“There’s just something about the books though…”


“Did you know there is a scene in Mary Poppins – the book, not the movie – where the baby twins in their cribs are chatting with some starlings. Mary Poppins, of course, can understand them. The birds are wistful because they know it won’t last and the babies insist they won’t forget. Sure enough, the next time the birds visit, the babies are cooing and babbling nonsensically without connection.“

“Then there’s the chapter where the Pleiades sisters come down to visit causing all sorts of havoc, and not only because they have hardly any clothes on.”

“Maybe the orbs are those beings we’ve been talking about beginning to come into focus for us….”

“I’m going to start taking some pictures myself.”

“We should have cameras at our rituals. I’ve always resisted that as intrusive but it would be cool to catch some of this.”

“I can’t wait to see your book list, Ursula.”


Young People Woo Woo

03-2 This is what Peace looks Like

This is What Peace Looks Like, 2003

“Cali, there’s like a poster in the bathroom about a class you mom is starting next week.” Skinny decaf soy latte in hand in a new metal traveling mug, Mariposa joined the group of sustainability interns and local young people lolling on the outside terrace at Angel’s on a balmy fall day. It was midweek so some had the day off. The brightly painted tables and chairs set off the many hues of their clothing. Battered backpacks and bikes were perched around them. And one baby asleep in her papa’s front pack.

“Yeah, she says it’s time to pass on what she and the Medicine Circles have been playing with. Rhea’s going.”

“I’m thinking of signing up,” ventured Janna.

“Seriously? Is there is anything to all that fuckin’ woo woo shit?” asked Gabe, still boggled by his recent talk with Molly.

“I grew up with it,” said Cali. “Mom says the questions us kids asked helped her grok the Earth as something to worship, though she never uses that word. Am I hardcore about organic cuz it’s right for the soil and my body or b’cuz I’ve learned to sense the living being named Gaia? I guess that makes me pagan.”

“The Earth Goddess is Pachamama in South American,” said Robin. “She’s very real to me ever since my exchange student stint in Peru.”

“Dad claims the ocean is his church,” added Cali.

“I like thinking of it as a mystery,” said Carlos.

“It was kinda scary when my folks first got into all that,” said Robin Logan, thinking of her teenage embarrassment at Owen’s first appearances as the Green Man in the 4th of July Parade. “I thought we’d be called weirdos.”

“Seemed like a natural progression to me,” said Arlo. “They already made fun of us. Called us hippies. Granola eaters.”

“Birkenstockers,” added Carlos.

“We were hardly the only ones smoking weed,” Arlo reminded them miming that action.

“I get the connection with Earth, but like Tarot cards and ritual? Magic? Seems like wishful thinking,” blurted Mariposa.

“Mom says she chooses to live as if it’s true – you know, reincarnation, psychic connections and dreams.

“Ursula claims she doesn’t have the direct 3-D connection some do,” said Carlos. “She takes it pretty much on faith. Says it makes her happy. Now June…. She’s a counselor and healer. Doesn’t go to many group things. Ever talk to her? She’s pretty hard-core…. In a very gentle way.”

“Some of the massage therapists are dreamers and seers and channelers – generally kind of out there,” agreed Robin.

“But Ursula actually calls herself a fuckin’ witch,” persisted Gabe.

“Yeah, she declared herself one years ago. Had a bunch of people over one time when we weren’t home and they ceremoniously cleansed her and painted her body. I’ve seen the pictures. She wanted to reclaim that word – do her part to take the bad juju out of it. Not many others in the Medicine Groups use the term ‘witch.’ None of them are Wiccan. That’s more organized like a religion. She says “shaman” feels way above her, but “witch” just means a wisewoman in the woods.”

“Right on,” said Janna.

“June and Celeste are part of a Crone Circle,” said Carlos. “They want to reclaim the “crone” and “hag” words too.”

“Medicine Groups?” asked Zydeco who had just walked up.

“Men and women together, alternating with men and women separately, get together on Friday evenings. Sometimes the gatherings are closed to outsiders to develop intimacy and trust,” said Cali, reaching over to unstrap Menolly who was beginning to stir. “Sometimes, like now, they are open to whoever wants to come. There is a core – most of whom you can guess, who hold the space and come up with the activities.”

“And they do what?”

“Don’t really know, man,” said Carlos watching fondly as Cali pulled down her sundress top to put Menolly to her breast. “Practice healing and visioning? General woo woo? Plan the more public rituals.”

“Oh, you’ve been to a few,” teased his partner. “And so have most of us.”

“Is it possible for Tarot, like, actually predict the future?” asked Mariposa.

“It’s more about focusing in on the present. I don’t see the future as written in stone – as inevitable in any way. There’s always free will. Divination is more about considering what comes up in the cards, coins or yarrow sticks or whatever to see the threads and what might come to pass if current patterns play themselves out. They show me the challenges I’m dancing with and where I can make adjustments if I don’t like what’s taking shape.”

“But what decides what cards get drawn?”

“‘Magic. Spirit. Your Higher Self. Your guides. If you don’t have a concept of The Greater Mystery then you have to apply ‘willing suspension of disbelief.’ You have to say, ‘I’m going to trust that the cards I pull have some meaning in my life. I’m going to notice them at least and think about what comes up.’ The images are powerful archetypes that work at a subtle level.”

“Maybe you should be teaching the class, Cali. You sound like you know a lot.”

“Maybe more than I think I do, eh?”