Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Blog!

I'm moving my blog to Wordpress and will be updating it over the next month of so...

For my most recent blog post about Lunar Dominant Masculine Sexuality Click Here!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Romp with Queen Anne

 “What’s wild carrot?” I asked on my first herb walk several years ago.  It was a name I’d heard Kate, our herbal guide, say several times as we began our afternoon walk through Prospect Park.  Kate led us over to a tall slender stemmed white flowering plant with a red center.  “This,” she said triumphantly, “is wild carrot.”  “Queen Anne’s Lace?!” I exclaimed overjoyed that I knew a plant, and wasn’t a total herbal neophyte.  “Yes, also called Queen Anne’s lace,” Kate confirmed. 

Hypnotized, I moved closer to the plant.  Something about Queen Anne’s Lace always attracted me. Growing up, I would often find myself simply standing by her, feeling the draw to be close to her stately presence. On family vacations, I had a tendency to walk over to her at road stops and run my fingers over her bird’s nest of delicate white flowers with the mysterious solitary red center that appeared even more crimson in the summer’s sunlight. 

On this particular herb walk, Kate, our guide, invited us to speak with wild carrot and open ourselves to receive any intuitions or information from the spirit of the plant.  Having never actually had a dialogue with a plant before, I played along and followed my intuition as it guided me towards a tall statuesque Queen Anne’s Lace towards the middle of the field.  I stood in front of her delicate flowering top and introduced myself. 

“Hello.  My name is Isis.”  In that instant, I was immediately swept into a deeply ecstatic state, as if meeting a long lost love.  I felt my womb space open and expand and the edges of my labia begin to tingle and become moist.  A pleasurable wash of energy galloped up my spine and my mouth opened letting out a sound that could only be equated to an orgasmic surprise.  I blushed and quickly looked around to see if anyone heard me.  The other women were deep into their own meditation and did not hear my very public pleasure-filled moan.  My Goddess, was I having an orgasm in the skirts of Prospect Park?!

I turned my attention back to Queen Anne.  Rather than having a happy chatty conversation like I assumed the other women were engaging in, the waves of pleasure continued to roll through my system, and the hair on my arms goose-fleshed and stood straight up on my body.

 “Oh Isis,” I heard a voice say.  ‘Ha!’ I laughed out loud losing all awareness of anyone else around me.  “Did I just make this plant, moan?”  I stammered in my mind.  I then felt the two of us, the spirit of the plant and my spirit pull together like magnets. I could feel my heart beat in my uterus and my energetic roots unfold from my legs and reach out and twine around Queen Anne’s roots.  Wave after wave of orgasmic energy moved up my spine.  After about five minutes, Kate, our herb guide, asked us to circle again. I was sure my energy field looked like I’d just had a romp in the hay.  My cheeks were flushed, my heart racing and a glint of perspiration covered my skin.  Had I just made love to a plant?  Kate looked at me quizzically catching my eye and asking if I was okay.  I nodded, and darted my eyes around.  Did anyone else notice my quickie with the plant?  When she asked for impressions around what we experienced, my lips remained sealed.  I wasn’t one to kiss and tell. 

My life’s work the past decade has been dedicated to the study and teaching of sacred sexuality through the lens of Shamanism.  Orgasmic experiences were a dime a dozen in my line of work.  But having an energy orgasm with a plant… This was an entirely new paradigm that raised even my eyebrows.   Startled by my experience on the herb walk and feeling the calling of my spirit to immerse more fully in the green world, I signed up for an herbal apprenticeship with Susun Weed at the Wise Woman Center.

The day before the start of my herbal apprenticeship, my husband and I drove up from New York City and stayed in a B&B in the Catskills.  We unpacked our bags and checked into our room.  As we settled into our cozy accommodations, I took a look around our room and discovered that above the bed on the wall was a picture of Queen Anne’s Lace.  So that’s what this apprenticeship is going to be like, I thought, silently laughing to myself.

As apprentices, our main assignment over the course of our apprenticeship is to cultivate a green ally relationship with one plant.  We were asked to ally with one plant by sitting with her each day, breathing with her and listening for her song.  When the apprentices were given our plant ally assignment, I felt Queen Anne dance beside me. “Yes,” I told her. “I know.  We’re allies.” 

Throughout the seasons of the seven-month apprenticeship, I meet with Queen Anne  daily for the first two weeks and then weekly.  I saw her grow from a feathery rosette with a white tasty root, to a statuesque Queen who towered over most other wild flowers and finally to the dried hand of the death crone as fall and winter turned and all that were left were her seeds, holding her blue print for the next year.  During the seven months we spent together, she and I moved from rapturous romps to bosom buddies.  I realized too that our first meeting was her acknowledging my work in sacred sexuality and was also her way of telling me she too was an ally in the sexual arts. 

As a young maiden plant, her green feathery hair drapes along the Earth’s floor and her curvy and plump womanly root body nestles against the grooves of the Earth cradling her powers for her second year’s growth.  In sitting with her maidenly form in her first year, Queen Anne tells me “Most don’t, but you can actually sauté my greens and root as a tasty vegetable addition to any meal.  My maidenly first year leaves are brain food and supports cell health in the brain and circulation in the body.” 

Her second year, she grows a long slender stem and has a crowning white head with a mysterious crimson center.  This is when she is ready to be harvested and when her womanly magic is afoot.  Queen Anne tells me “With strong intention brew my crimson spotted flowerheads in boiling water for fifteen minutes and drink the day after an unwanted potential impregnation.  I will support a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the womb by making the inner surfaces slippery so that it comes right out.” 

In her final phase of life, after her head closes, she instructs me “Take my seeds and carry them in a sweet medicine pouch next to your night table where you keep condoms and lubricant.  I go there if an ‘accident’ happens. Take two teaspoons of seeds every four hours for two days after your ‘opps moment’ and I will keep you from being with child.  In my second year of life I have a hairy stalk to remind you of the psyllium like qualities to move eggs from the womb.” 

“My second year head furls back in the fall but my first year leaf stays green.  In two years, my life is complete and seeds scatter and begin again.   I am the keeper of the maidens moons my red dot shows you when your cycle is upon me and I help bring it on.”

After spending seven months with Queen Anne and graduating my herbal apprenticeship, I feel like my relationship with her has only just begun.  As a sacred sexuality teacher, I’m not surprised that Queen Anne chose me as an ally when so much of her energy teaches about healthy sexuality and reproductive choice, something that our religious and political climate still attempt to usurp control over.   Queen Anne reminds me how to listen to the seasons and cycles within myself and to honor my body, my sexual energy and my reproductive choice as my own intuitive right as a woman.  My relationship with Queen Anne brings me deeper into my own inner rhythms around conscious conception and personal sexual power.  As a sexual shamanic teacher, my wish is for each woman to align with and feel Queen Anne’s support on the rapturous road of their lives.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Seeress's New Eyes

Seeress’s New Eyes

seer·ess  (sîrs) n.
A woman who acts as a prophet or clairvoyant.

The eye doctor told me to lean my head back and not to worry, this wouldn’t hurt.  With her bare hands she removed the clear protective contact lens that had covered my eyes for the past eight days.  “Wow, you weren’t scared at all.  Most people flinch or blink.” 

From the age of ten, I had convinced my mom to let me try out contact lenses to avoid the peril and prepubescent humiliation of eyeglasses.  I had muscled my eyes through many uncomfortable situations in the past so having a doctor remove a contact lens was the least of my worries.  Touching them was quite commonplace.  I had had my hands on my eyes, determined to avoid glasses since I was a young girl.  We checked my vision, which became a little fuzzy after the clear lens was removed.  “That’s normal post surgery,” she said,  “A few more weeks and it should correct itself.”

We tested my sight and I hovered around 20/40.  The best my vision had been since around the age of seven.  I could see.   

The surgery and procedure had been a bit of a whirlwind.  The day the Groupon came out for LASIK was the day I had saved exactly enough in my ‘stash away for the dream procedure of seeing 20/20’ envelope.  I had been saving for a few years now, dropping $20 or $40 into an envelope every so often after session work.  The day when the Groupon was listed was also the day I was on my last pair of contact lenses and the day that the online contact lens distributor refused to process my order because it had been over a year since I’d been to the optometrist.  I had also been preparing for my role as the Seeress – ‘woman who sees’ in Theatre Group Dzieci’s upcoming production of Ragnarok.  The timing of everything was becoming suspiciously auspicious. 

Generally, slow footed on large purchases, I hemmed and hawed for an hour looking at the Groupon.  Large purchases were always something to be contemplated, considered, discerned from every angle, never jumped into at a moments notice.  In some ways I had been yearning for this since I was seven, but now that it was here, I felt rushed.  I needed more time… but more time for what?  More time to not see?  I clicked ‘BUY.’  In a moment, a feeling of elation soared through me.  Zings of pure exhilaration tingled over my skin. 

My first call was to my mother.  “Guess what?”  “What?” she played along.  “I just bought LASIK.  “Oh that’s wonderful!  You’ve wanted that for so long!” 

No one sympathized more than my mother around desiring new eyes.  I had flown to my parents home in Tulsa last summer just before her birthday to be with her during her cataract operation.  She was nervous.  She I and I had a sort of bad vision bond.  When I was in high school, she had gone temporarily blind in one eye from over use of contact lenses.  It was right around my senior year when we were looking at colleges.  I had to drive us up to Illinois with her in the passenger seat, something my mother’s very controlling personality would never normally allow.  My grandmother, since I can remember, wore thick coke bottle glasses with bifocal lenses and was also plagued with cataracts and glaucoma.  Good eyesight was not something that ran matrilineally in my family.

After purchasing the Groupon, I scheduled my pre-screening with Diamond Vision.  After all the tests were run, it turned out my corneas were too thin for LASIK but were okay for a procedure called PRK.  From what I understood after everything was explained to me, PRK involved scraping away cornea cells and LASIK involved making a flap.  They both used the same laser for corrective surgery.  Recovery from PRK would be longer and more uncomfortable.  The earliest appointment for me was six weeks away.  I would have to be out of contacts for two weeks prior.  “Uggghhhhh!” I bemoaned to my mom.  “That’s soooo long!” “It will be here before you know,” my mother reassured me. 

The two weeks in eyeglasses were excruciating.  I only wore glasses when I was sick or tired.  Wearing them for two weeks straight, I felt sick and tired all the time.  I had two pairs, one were the right prescription but were too big for my face and kept sliding off.  The other, a much older prescription, didn’t account for my astigmatism.  Both were exceedingly frustrating.  For two weeks I felt ugly, and distant, like there was a wall between me and others, a protective shield keeping us apart.  I squinted to read labels in the grocery store, blurred my way through session work and had to stop my new love for adult gymnastics classes while I subjected myself to the doctors orders to wear stupid, ugly, clunky, awkward glasses for two weeks while my corneas returned to their natural shape. 

All the frustration I felt as an eight to ten year old in glasses came bubbling to the surface.  For over twenty years contacts had been a lifeline and a way not to ‘deal’ with my visual frustration.  Now I was meeting it head on.  I was quick to anger and prone to isolation these two weeks.  The break through occurred the day before the surgery.  I was singing at the Cabrini nursing home with Theatre Group Dzieci.  Most at Cabrini are at the end of their life cycle and are all in various stages of declining health.  Some of the sights there are hard to see; open sores on skin, the cruel vulnerability of the deteriorating body, the elderly returning to an infant like state.  One wants to look away in these circumstances.  I took my glasses off at one point and felt much more free and seemingly present when I did connect with the patients than when they were on.  That’s when I realized, I chose these eyes. 

Growing up as a young girl, things were not always easy.  My parents fought.  There was alcoholism in the family. My mother’s temper was volatile.  My father’s spirit was absentee.  I did not want to always see the unpleasantness of what was going on around me.  I blurred my vision for protection and to create another world that was safer and easier on the eyes so to speak.  My eyesight continued to get worse through middle school and high school and eventually leveled out in college when I moved out of my parent’s house.  It had stabilized since then but sight wellness continued to revolve around contact lenses.  The simple removing of my glasses at Cabrini the day before my schedule surgery brought all of this bubbling to the surface.  It was safe in my blurry world.  Would clarity bring back what I had longed to turn a blind eye to?

I bustled about the evening before the surgery with chores until I finally stilled myself during a late dinner with my husband.  That’s when it sunk in.  Tomorrow morning I would get new eyes.  A gamut of emotions flooded through me as I struggled to take conscious bites of my supper.  I phoned my mom and a close friend who talked me through what I was feeling.  The next morning came like a lightening bolt.  I dressed, had breakfast, put a carnelian stone in my pocket for grounding and support and went to the eye doctor. 

I was the first operation of the day.  I was ushered into a room, my vision checked a final time.  I was hastily given a blue operating cap to contain my hair and blue booties to put over my shoes.  The doctor came in and spoke to me about the procedure.  I was then taken into a clean operating room and given a choice of a teddy bear or stress balls to hold.  Stress balls...  Damn, why didn’t I take the bear?  I was covered with a blanket and asked to lie back on a chair.  Before I could catch my breath, a plastic cover was put over my eye that terrifyingly held it open.  Drops were put in and then ice cold water was poured over my eye for ten seconds while I squirmed and writhed.  Something equivalent to an electric toothbrush came over my eye and scraped the cornea cells away while I tried not to leap out of the operating chair.  I took deep breaths and then room went dark.  A white light appeared before me in a far away tunnel and suddenly everything in my body relaxed.  In the darkness, the white light came closer as the sound of the laser clicked away.  In the tunnel, my vision changed.  A new eye was given to me from the other side and a realization washed through me that this was what it was like at moments of birth and death – the crossing.  The same horrifying process was repeated on the other eye, plastic shield, ice water, electric tooth brush and the same mystical blackness into a tunnel of white light followed by a feeling of euphoria crept through me as my body accepted her second new eye.

In less than fifteen minutes, the procedure was complete.  The doctor asked me to read the clock on the wall and for the first time in twenty-five years, I did so without the support of contacts or glasses.  I arose from my chair and grabbed the doctor in an embrace.  I slam dunked my eyeglasses into the donation bin and embraced my husband Mark who was nervously sitting in the waiting room.

An orderly encouraged me to sit for a few minutes to adjust, but as soon as I was feeling ready, to go home and sleep as the numbing drops would wear off in the next half hour and the PRK corneal abrasion would begin to sting.  The orderly gave me a kit with sunglasses, night eye patches and eye drops. I was instructed to avoid books and anything with a screen – computers, televisions, phones, ipads and direct sunlight in my eyes for three days.  Mark and I hailed a cab home.

The next three days were like a sensory deprivation tank.  The smallest bit of light in the same room was excruciating.  I sat in darkness, complete with wrap around shades, blinds and curtains drawn on all the windows.  I meditated for most of the day and night, my vision going in and out of blurriness and itchy burning feelings pounding around my eyes. In the three days of darkness, I had many overwhelming moments feeling into past and parallel lives where I had been blind and how blindness opened my body to wise woman and crone energy.  The feeling of seeing without seeing was oddly familiar, comforting and empowering.

 My friend Cindy came over and read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and Harry Potter, to me as I lay with cool towels over my eyes. She cooked a quiche.  Lisa came over with pineapple hibiscus infused vodka and toasted to a successful surgery. 

On the fourth day, my vision slowly began to focus and the blurriness dissipated.  A world of clarity awaited me.  I rose from the sensory deprivation chamber – light, sound, taste, smell all heightened beyond my usual experience of them.  Both my vision and my psychic sight were palpably present.

In researching Seeresses of the past in preparation for exploring the role Seeress in Dzieci’s Ragnarok, I discovered that historically, many Seeress were actually blind at some time in their life, born that way or blinded early in life, which ushered in active gifts of psychic sight.  As a Seeress who now ‘sees’ both physically and psychically, I’m recommitting myself to taking in the details of perception on the Earthly and psychic planes including that, which might be unpleasant to witness.  I’m replacing my rose colored glasses with laser cut clarity.

I call on the lineage of and ancestry of Seeresses to awaken within me.  Our physical site is restored.  Now the eyes of our eyes are open. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Courting Ms. Violet

It is a Wednesday afternoon in late April.  The day is overcast and cold for the middle of Spring.  I wear my winter coat and sling my foraging bag over my shoulder.  I am off to Central Park and pray to the water elementals to hold off until I am finished harvesting.  

I am on a mission.  Making violet medicine.  She’s been calling to me all Spring.   While my ambitious appetite wants to go out and harvest many things and make lots of different tinctures, I am reminded my herbal teacher’s mantra, learn one plant a time.  During my entire seven-month herbal apprenticeship we were asked to find a plant ally and get to know just one plant for seven months intimately.  While I learned much about many different plants during this time, my relationship to my plant ally that I meditated with for seven months is of course the strongest.   

This season, a new plant ally has risen up to be greeted and I am becoming more familiar with her delightful acquaintance.  Violet (viola odorata).  This is my third time harvesting from her this season.  First was a glycerin based tincture, then a vinegar from her leaves that are high in vitamin C along with a violet cordial which turned out to be truly delicious.  Today I was guided to make an oil from her leaves as a new base for womb and breast salves and a vodka-based tincture from all her parts. 

Violet called to me across the park and told me exactly where to gather her.  In my shamanic herbal apprenticeship, we were taught to listen to and hear the voice, song and healing energy of the plant through channeling the plants deva, or spirit.  While this may sound mystical or other-worldly, it is actually quite simple and involves deep presence, listening and a little trust and belief in magic. 

While many violets were growing along the Central Park pathways, she was very specific with me about which ones wanted to be harvested.  She asked that I call her Ms. Violet and sing to her while I harvested her.  She told me where there were extra leaves that needed to be cleared so the ivy could grow and to be generous when I took her flowers because the spring ones were decorative and her true flowers that seeded next years violets would be up in the fall. 

On singing and picking, I was transported to when I was a little girl picking wild violets in my grandmother’s backyard.   It was a ritual I relished every spring.  I would bring a small bouquet of these delicate, purple, handpicked flowers and present them to my grandmother.  She would put them in a glass vase with opaque glass violets etched into it. The vase went in my grandmother’s living room among all my grandmother’s beautiful colored glass and antiques.  Somedays, after picking a fresh bouquet, I would sit next to them in the green velvet chair in my grandmother’s living room and just look at their shape – their long slender stem and the ever so fragile nature of their petals.  I sighed wistfully at this sweet memory of long ago.  Had I known they were edible at the time I’m sure I would have found them a tasty snack.

During a self-pleasuring meditation ritual after I had harvested my first batch of violets this summer, my clitoris actually appeared to me as a violet.  Her delicate petals opening and unfolding, the beautiful engorged veins in my labia mirroring the lovely purple striping in her petals.  I know women often refer to their vulvas as flower like but this time I got that metaphor on a much deeper more profound level. 

As I harvested in the park today, Ms. Violet told me she would sooth this chronic throat irritation that had been with me for months and when I used her tincture and she would help me speak more clearly and effectively when I sometimes jumbled my words or sentences together.  Violet has a delicate but steady flow, like a well tuned violin being playing long sustained notes.  She told me she would help my throat and voice come back into balance from the nodes and polyps I had developed on my vocal cords.  Her heart shaped leaves reflected the shape of my thyroid.  My body loved having a fresh violet leaf placed right at my collarbone to support my sluggish thyroid that sometimes needs encouragement. 

Violet has a soothing and claming effect on the nervous system and supports regulating excess heat in the body.  She has a love for women’s breasts and is a natural supporter of healthy breast tissue and helps smooth out lumps, bumps and cysts both in the breast tissue and in ovaries.  Her leaves make a wonderful poultice over skin irritants, eczema, or places where there’s been chronic pain and inflammation. 

If you find yourself in a field of violets stop and sit with her.  Sample a few of her flowers.  Some are being candied in my kitchen as I write this (painted with egg white and sprinkled with sugar and left to dry.)  She is a beautiful ally to become acquainted with holding the coolness of Spring in her body to relieve the body’s natural inflammatory tendencies and a wonderful generous plant high in vitamins that the body loves. 

Thank you Ms. Violet for all of your wonderful medicine and your generous nature!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rose the Wild Woman

Rose the Wild Woman

The past two days in New York and along the Jersey coast have been sweltering and most of my immediate friends and colleagues have claimed extra heat in their body, unexpected outbreaks of rashes or inflamed skin, sleepless nights and general irritability. Having an impromtu Goddess gathering in the Central Park on a glorious ‘feels like summer’ day, two of my very best friends and Goddess colleagues, yoga teacher Lisa Kazmer, and birth doula / Tantra coach Cindy Neder and I hiked through a very warm and crowded park on a Tuesday afternoon to camp under a shady oasis below Sheep’s Meadow and celebrate some sacred sister time.

Cindy had recently received in the mail a pair of rabbit fur mitts that she would be incorporating into her Tantric session work. We took the mitts out and took turns stroking down each others bodies and massaging each others faces with the soft velvet of the rabbit skin and thinking of all the many ways we could incorporate this wonderful nourishment into our lives. I thought wildly, “Why not a Savasana assist at the end of a yoga class with the fur mitts??!”

“I don’t think the vegan yogis would go for that” Lisa commented. Well, that’s the difference between a Buddhist and a Goddess, I suppose.

I rubbed the mitts over my face and on working on our bodies, realized each of us had some sort of skin heat imbalance going on. On a whim, I had brought a jar of rose infusion with me to the park. Each woman swigged thirstily and we ended up sprinkling rose water on the inflamed skin areas around the body. I had been making rose infusion for the past few days since the temperature rapidly spike across the coast. Rose is one of those fragrant flowering powerhouse plants that is as wild as she is beautiful. She holds core wild woman energy. Her brambles warn that she commands absolute attention and presence in her company but her scent will stop even the most unpresent person in their tracks reminding them to breath deeply and become aware of their surroundings. Rose has for centuries been used as a tonic for the uterus that supports regulating women’s menstrual cycles and relieving uterine congestions and heavy periods. She is also a cooling herb that lowers body temperature, soothes the intestinal track and nourishes skin. In breakouts of prickly heat, skin inflammation, and eczema rose to the rescue! On hot days try misting yourself with bursts of rose water, especially over itchy skin areas. For digestive distress or feverish tendencies, imbibe a quart of rose infusion a day to bring down heat in the body.

After each of us were massaged with rabbit mitts we drank and sprinkled rose infusion on our body’s and gifted ourselves with her sweet fragrant and wild essence. True to her wild nature, rose accompanied us as we each drew a card from Lisa’s tarot deck and received our messages from Source. We closed our time together as Lisa read to us the Tennyson’s The Lady of Shallot. We cackled, embraced and parted ways, the wild ‘rosaceae’ woman awake within us all.

The roses petals we used (Rosa Centifolia) for our infusion were certified organic (lots of garden roses have been chemically treated.)

Places where you can purchase bulk edible rose petals in the city

Flower Power



Mountain Rose Herbs