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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Husband 'The Animal'

My Husband - 'The Animal'

The fifth week of the Sensual Shaman Immersion we explore our animal spirits, and like previous Immersions it proved to be both powerful and transformational for the entire group. We journeyed to reclaim our inner animals and spent an evening roaring, purring and prowling our way through the animal kingdom. There are always some surprises in the group. A timid, vulnerable woman unleashes her inner lioness, a hummingbird teaches even the largest and most serious of participants to be light and playful in his body. While it feels unfamiliar and new for most people to embody their inner animal, I must say that I have the leg up from living with one.
The very first card I ever gave my husband was a portent of our entire relationship. I picked it up at a rest stop in Tulsa when I was home visiting my family and mailed it to him a few weeks after we had met and were dating. It had a beautiful soft and sensuous Victorian woman with flowing hair draped over a roaring lion that was at her feet. Inside it said “Missing you something fierce.” I knew then, however much on an unconscious level, that the animal spirit inside of Mark would always be front and center in our relationship.
My husband is a prime example of what it means to live with a fully realized animal spirit on a daily basis. He’s a large man – 6’-2,” 245 lbs. He grew up his life being called “animal,” “beast,” “simion,” “neanderthal.” The animal in Mark, however, is perhaps the thing I love most about him. He’s a hybrid, no one animal but parts of many. Lion – being born under the sun sign Leo, he always walks with a certain amount of pride and power, Silverback Gorilla – distinguished in his community as one of New York’s long standing ‘characters’ and is often the eldest among his peers – note: I refer to him as my silver heart as the hair on his chest was the first hair on his body to turn silver while the hair on his head remains a beautiful rich brown. Lone wolf – always straying from the pack to explore new territory and ways of being, Large Workhorse for his massive strength, ability and endurance in physical work and German Shepard for his loyalty and protective nature of his home and family. What was once yelled at him as taunts and jeers in his early years, are now celebrated in our house as beautiful ways of being. My husband is, at his heart, someone who is totally at one with his inner animal. Needless to say, even in an urban environment, I live in the wild.
In most of us however, the animal spirit lays dormant or has been conditioned out of us. It is only in the most extreme circumstances, and usually beyond our control, when we ‘snap,’ that the inner animal roars awake in us for the first time. The animal spirit can and usually rises up in us in moments when we are backed into a corner, where there are no other options but to attack, devour, hunt, consume or fall victim to it. At its most unconscious shadow level, it could be violence and power-over. But what about at a conscious level? Could it be raw passion, intuitive desire, comfort and quick thinking survival? What about the animal spirit when it is consciously celebrated instead of beaten, judged or jeered at? Could the animal spirit be devotion? Could it bring us into tribe energy? Could it put us more intuitively in touch with our bodies, our environments, each other?
Our inner primal animal spirit is in our ancient brain – the brain stem, the sacrum and tailbone. It’s deep, deep in the cells of our body. An energy and ancestry we’ve evolved from over millions of years that continues to exist within us, but often on a very repressed, refined, caged level. We are taught to have manners, not enjoy our food too loudly, don’t exhibit too many signs of pleasure, be quiet during sex and certainly don’t roar, scream or cry during ecstatic states of orgasm. We’re surely not invited to burp, fart, growl, and never scratch your back against a tree.
Somehow, this animal repression and levels of refinement never really registered with my husband, Mark. In fact, the more he was taunted by his sisters, family, and other children that he was an animal, the more defiantly he embraced it. My husband’s animal spirit has evolved over the years from early days of bullying and beating up his sisters, into playful love-centered expressions of aggression that ultimately bring us closer in our marriage. He’ll wrap me in big bear hugs when I enter the home, hold me down in spooning position when I get too distracted by my reading or computer-work to be present in my body. He devours my home-cooked food so visibly with pleasure that I have found a new dharma for myself over the years in the kitchen.
But with audible pleasure, can come the expression of audible rage. My husband’s alpha animal spirit is so strong that people will often challenge him on the street, purposely running into him, bumping his shoulders, confronting his personal space. “I can take him,” the inner animal of another male speaks silently as they confrontationally approach Mark. I used to be rattled by these otherwise unexplainable interactions that were completely unprovoked. Mark would directly trigger a primal animal response in others simply by being in their presence. For the first year I was with Mark, I found these interactions absolutely baffling. Why were men so threatened by him? I found my answers in the animal kingdom. There was a need to challenge, flex, crow when another male came in proximity of an alpha male. Mark generally avoids these encounters with a brush off of his shoulder, but in his earlier years before I knew him, his young ego had his fair share of brawls and anger black outs and attacks of rage when confronted and the challenger would often be left scampering with his tail between his legs, or unconscious on the floor in front of him. In the animal kingdom, potential alphas will confront alphas as a way of attempting to overthrow the current alphas power and mark and claim their territory. When the potential challenging alpha is defeated there is a submissiveness to the current alpha and a deepening of respect.
Betas outwardly acknowledge Mark’s power size and presence - even strangers will walk by and immediately refer to him as “Big Man!” “Hey, Big Man, Yo, Big Man, You got a dollar Big Man?”
Another ‘Mark’ of the animal kingdom I’ve come to love and appreciate is loyalty and protection. One night, after being out and about forty-five minutes later than I communicated to Mark, I came home and found Mark waiting in the hall of our apartment building, standing at the door like a German Shepard. Shocked, I asked him what he was doing out here. “Honey, listen, you’re late. I’m like a German Shepard waiting for its owner to come home. I’m most loyal to you and will wait for you forever, but it also makes me crazy when you’re late. I become hyper aware of everything. I wish you could crawl inside of me and feel for one minute what I feel for you.” I imagined a silver back gorilla beating his chest on the top of mountain screaming “I Love YOOOUUUU!!!” I smiled, my shock of seeing my husband waiting in the hall receded and I stroked his face. “That’s why I love you” I told him smiling.
When we understand and fully embody it, our inner animal spirits are our allies. The animal spirit tells us exactly what we need, what to eat, who our mate is. Animal spirit is our rawest, most primal instinct. I remember growing up baffled by how birds knew how to fly and migrate or how foxes knew how to hunt. “How do they know?” I would ask my parents. “They just know,” was the only answer I could pull out of them.
This ‘just knowing’ is part of Mark’s magic. His animal instincts are now consulted in an oracle fashion by my female friends. Mark’s senses are so heightened they have become magnified. His nose is infamous among my friends. Why? Because he can smell when a woman’s is about to menstruate. He smells and senses it somewhere deep in his very acute animal brain. If one of my women friends is experiencing a late cycle she will often consult Mark. He will then come up to her hold her in an embrace and inhale her and be able to tell her how many days until her next moon with about a 90% accuracy rate. He knows when he’s in an elevator with another woman if she is menstruating and will then give me the report. The woman in apartment 12B and 6A are menstruating right now and the woman in 4D will be in two days. The woman in 8F is going through menopause and 9G is pregnant. “How do you know this?!” I would exclaim after such direct statements were being made. “Babe. I just know,” Mark would say casually and then walk off. He just knows.
In fact, this very knowing has made my relationship to my beloved husband so successful and has also deeply nourished our marriage. When thinking of an animal that has been domesticated in our world, what do they need to thrive? - love, good food, attention, exercise and play. If anything goes out of balance in my marriage and relationship to Mark or feels strained I come back to the basic tenets of husband husbandry - love, good food, attention, exercise and play.
My new love with the theatre group Dzieci was a great learning opportunity for Mark and my’s relationship. I had become intensely passionate about working with this group of artists and all of sudden all day Sunday and one evening a week plus performances I was grooving and shaking with my new community. I felt the fear arise in Mark’s system – will I still be taken care? Will I be fed? Will I be loved? A few weeks in to my new schedule, I felt a nagging suspicion that something was out of balance in our marriage. I checked in with Mark and almost word for word he voiced the above concerns – Will I still be taken care of? Will I be fed? Will I be receive enough love? The crock pot has balanced out my new schedule and husband husbandry. I prep good smells that keep Mark’s inner animal humming all day reminding him I’m there in spirit and that all good things are coming and his inner animal feels safe, nurtured and honored.
Before meeting Mark, I had wrapped myself up in doomed relationships by avoiding my inner animal spirit. I avoided asking myself basic animal instinct questions in favor of civilized concepts like ‘do they look good on paper?’ instead of ‘do I like the way my partner smells?’
In opening to your own animal spirit, I recommend to actually take a shamanic journey where you ask to be shown and introduced to your inner animal. There’s a lot of projection in this work. Everyone wants to be a lion, or tiger, or bear, or sleek panther, but some people are jackrabbits, or dolphins, or spiders. In one Immersion I had a beautiful woman who was an eel. After you claim and entrain to your animal spirit, I invite you to research and ask yourself these questions - How does your animal mate? Is it a life long partnership, is it polyamorous, does it practice serial monogamy? Is it an alpha? What living situation, nesting arrangements make it the most comfortable? What does your animal eat? I have seen time and time again people with a strong inner animal that has been deeply repressed and these people have become vegetarians as a way of justifying that they are better or more conscious about their diets than meat eaters while depriving their bodies and spirits of true nourishment that would provide them strength. I’ve also seen individuals awaken to their inner animal spirit after a session with me or a shamanic journey and immediately go out and devour a pork roast or a bucket of KFC. “Something just awoke in me,” they would say. While I don’t advocate unfettered ravenous meat eating, I do support conscious meat eating with gratitude and celebration and also respect the handful of years I was a vegetarian for giving me the information on how to consume meat consciously.
My animal spirit has changed and evolved over the years, some come to me only once and some for years. I’ve worked with Spider who has taught me the beauty and power of weaving all aspects of my life together, Phoenix who is a healing spirit and has helped me recover from adrenal burnout, and most recently Mama Grizzly Bear who is helping me move into my protective mother energy and serve as a way to embody my largeness including my rage in a conscious direct, creative and useful way rather than repressing it. Some animals may stay with us our entire life, others may visit to bring a message or usher us into a new way of being.
This week I asked my husband to pick up a new shower curtain liner. He went with his co-worker to Duane Reade to grab one on his lunch break. Perusing the selection he chose one labeled Safari that had prints of lions, tigers, cheetahs and zebras. “Why are you getting that one?” his co-worker asked. “You wouldn’t understand. It’s an inner animal thing. My wife gets it.”
In the coming weeks send me an email and let me know of your roars, growls and howls.

Friday, February 10, 2012

THE GODDESS SCROLLS - Sacred Erotic Tales

I was deeply honored to write the forward THE GODDESS SCROLLS - Sacred Erotic Tales by Rev. Goddess Charmaine a collection of spiritual erotica. On sending this forward to Rev. Goddess to review, I received a call from both Rev. Goddess and her mother. Her mother was weeping on the phone, thanking me for honoring her daughter's path through these words and touching her heart. The feminine on the planet is healing. Our relationships to our birth mothers and the divine mother is healing. On hearing Rev. Goddess's mother weeping, I wept. Her mother explained she didn't understand all the concepts I spoke about in the forward or what a yoni was(Sanskrit term for vulva), but that there was a power and beauty in the words that she felt in the presence of her daughter and her daughter's work. Rev. Goddess later told me that her own daughter Archa and her daughter's husband Doug had been reading the book and it had brought them closer as a newly wed couple and was reinvigorating their romantic partnership as newlyweds. Rev. Goddess has been a friend, confident and inspiration to me over the years. Her path and work have informed my own path. I am deeply grateful to have her in my life and consider her a true friend and colleague. THE GODDESS SCROLLS -Sacred Erotic Tales will be on pre-order on Valentine's Day.

"I read Reverend Goddess Charmaine’s first book The Sensuous Mystic – Uniting Sex and Spirit as I was just stepping onto my path as a Sensual Shaman and Sexual Priestess. Being a recent initiate as a Sexual Priestess, I knew the power and obligation of what lay before me. The split between sex and spirit is was one of the darkest and deepest wounds on the planet and only one who’s energy can battle the darkest most powerful shadows on a personal and public level takes on this epic feat. One must be called to this path with a fervor and ferocity that champions the most intense human psychological labyrinths and deepest core wounds. There is no space to be wishy-washy about this work. Those called to it are in a life-long stand for the unity and healing of a sexually empowered planet.

Reverend Goddess Charmaine has dedicated her life as a Sensuous Mystic and Interfaith Minister to healing the split between sex and spirit within our holy bodies and on our sacred planet Earth. She has held one intention since the time I know her - to have her yoni in the sky. Translation – to reawaken God/dess Consciousness on planet Earth and celebrate the connection to the holy body and sensual spirit. Reverend Goddess Charmaine is a pillar to the modern Western Tantra movement and is one of the sensual transformers who paved the pathways for this powerful global awakening.

On first meeting Rev. Goddess Charmaine, there was no doubt in my mind – I was in the presence of a fully realized Goddess. She towered in leopard print stiletto heels and a hip-hugging black pantsuit with an ass you could set a teacup on. Her long braids and almond eyes radiated a Cleopatra like energy. She was truly what I envisioned as a walking embodiment of the Goddess. Upon meeting her, one feels in the presence of someone both holy and accessible at the same time. Rev. Goddess holds a strong mother energy that loves and nurtures the collective, a powerful presence and connection to Source that ministers to her community compassionately and effortlessly and a strong connection to her roots in “the hood” that will throw back a bottle of red wine and dance on top of the bar at the disco – yes, in the same leopard print stilettos - all from the same authentic and sacred cord of being an embodiment of Goddess.

Being present in her workshops as both a participant and a co-facilitator Reverend Goddess Charmaine’s connection to Eros feels limitless. In witnessing her powerful presence facilitate erotic trance dances, guide individuals through healing self-pleasuring rituals or minister at clothing optional church services, I see her always connected to the infinite sensual life-force of Goddess.

Her erotic fiction over the years has continued to inspire an ocean of devotees who seek her same connection to universal orgasmic inspiration. This collection of work has truly been a sacrament and life-long devotion to the path of the Goddess and the quest of uniting sex and spirit. Each sacred erotica story was crafted during a Tantric rite and completed during a full moon. You are reading a mystics journey through mystery school and sacred initiations. On reading her erotic stories, one is easily transported to a time where the wounded masculine and feminine energies within our collective unconscious have healed and birthed a new race of humans that remember the holy body and sensual spiritual as a sacred gift that was born of the cosmic act of one-ness with Source.

This book of channeled erotic transmissions is written in the same style as it was received from Source, in erotic bursts, in panting self-pleasuring visions, in seeds and sutras created in Tantric pujas with consorts and kindred souls. Several times while reading the book to write this forward I was swept into such ecstasy through the transmission of the erotic prayer, I would find myself in a state of energetic orgasm, only to come back to the story and realize that two hours had passed and I had only skimmed the first page.

In your hands you hold a Sacred Sexual Bible. May the connection to sex and spirit awaken and unfold in YOU and all of the beloveds you with whom you choose to share this sacred text."

Infinite Sensual Blessings & Erotic Awakenings,

Isis Phoenix ~ Sensual Shaman"

For more information about Rev. Goddess Charmaine visit

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Crush(ing) Journey

A Crush(ing) Journey
A crush… you remember the kind – In middle school when you’d moved beyond boys and girls having cooties, or in high school, where you scrawled the name of your obsession countless times in your spiral bound notebook perhaps hyphenating the name of your beloved with your own. By adult standards, sheer silliness. I remember middle school, perhaps it’s because my heart was so open or perhaps I just had an affinity for life, but when my best friend at the time asked me who I had a crush on, my reply was - the entire seventh grade. What was there not to love? Everyone had something beautiful about them, attractive even in the awkward preteen years where hormones were raging. When hormones rage there’s very little discernment. I see it at Tantra pujas, all of a sudden the fat guy across the room who’s balding looks pretty good when you’re eye gazing with him and seeing into the very depths of his soul… heavy set and balding seem to give way to something bigger, deeper, more vast, the universal place that is loveable in all humans, the ecstasy of one-ness, our connection to Source.
Taking people into this state often in session work and facilitating groups has become common place. Yes, I see the divine in you. No I don’t want to be your girlfriend/move-in/leave my husband for you. Well, every once in a while something throws a curve ball and the universe cracks me wide open to a place of love that feels just like those days of having a crush on the entire seventh grade. Dzieci. Dzieci an experimental theatre ensemble, a shamanic tribe of artists, my Beloveds. Dzieci, my crush. Dzieci… I rolled the sound around in my mouth and even now feel the faint flutterings in my belly and I instantly feel like I’m twelve years old again.
While I suppose based on my preteen history, it’s not uncommon for me to have a crush on an entire class of people, it hasn’t happened in a while. I recall the vast memories of awakening that have been this large in my system – beginning my work with Suzanne d’Corsey the Celtic Priestess I apprenticed with for five years, attending my first Daka/Dakini Conference in Sedona and meeting my tribe and awakening to my calling to build a Holy Body temple on the Earth, and the first time I saw Dzieci’s production of Makbet and witnessing a form of what could be when theatre and the sacred are woven together in support of group transformation. Now it’s official. I have a crush, a crush on an entire group of artists who are deeply committed to their own process of transformation and to transforming the world.
Dzieci had been in my dreamscapes for weeks, see the previous blog post below this one. There was an awakening opening up in me once again, just when I was getting all cozy and comfortable in my life and feeling like I knew my shit and where I was going. Just when I was feeling like the fat cat, everything changed. Now I’m making my plans around Dzieci. I ran out before Naked Church this Sunday so I could play with Dzieci for an hour and fifteen minutes before sprinting back in a cab home to greet people for service, and oh trust me I thought of canceling Service all together – thank Source Rev. Goddess holds me accountable every month to be there, as I had already moved Service once already to attend Dzieci’s Maraton.
When you have a crush, things become unreasonable. You become super human. You go places you would never go, your wardrobe changes, you’re dressing up more, paying attention to details, plucking hairs you normally let grow wild. It’s in you, like the universe has a hyper witnessing state of existence where all eyes are on you and you must look your best.
Another thing about a crush, you normally know where they are and structure your plans around being with them. Well, being a shaman and having my psychic perceptions open amplify that ten times more. I know what the group is feeling because they’re so intimately linked. I know each time I am getting an email from them before it arrives because I can feel it being composed. Last night I semi-slept, semi tossed and turned with my stomach doing side stretches and back-flips with nervous crush energy. I’m consumed with a feeling of flying and vomiting at the same time, like being on a rollercoaster and feeling the jump in the stomach as you tip over the fulcrum of the first climb and whoosh down, screaming, arms above your head, stomach in your heart. Yeah – that whoosh-stomach-heart-screaming thing has been happening twenty to thirty times a day for a week and a half right now and quite frankly my body is exhausted from the joy ride.
I remember the Zingo Roller Coaster at Bells Amusement Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was in the third grade and was cleared through height specifications to take my first run on the Zingo. I was feeling queasy towards the end of the ride after all the excitement and just as the coaster pulled in to finish the ride, the operator overshot the stopping point and took us around again. Nearing the end of the second run it happened, I turned my head sideways and vomited over the railing and probably on everyone behind me and below. Even in the third grade this moment was profound - I had waited my entire eight year old life to ride on the Zingo, and then got to go round twice!... and then puked. The agony of ecstasy.
Last night was a bit of a tipping point. I writhed in bed all night with infinite energy. My soul was dying to stay up, write, study, vision fueled by all the energy and awakenings my soul was going through and the agonizing crush energy that kept sputtering through my nervous system, but my body was helplessly beyond exhaustion from being on the Zingo for an entire week and a half going round and round. I’d lost and found myself several times in the deep Shamanic process of the past week and a half, riding off adrenaline, feeling like I would lose my lunch a few times, getting off and climbing back on. Even in the space of deep exhaustion, however, there was a childlike excitement of gratitude. Even in my body’s state of passionate exhaustion, I would rather ride the Zingo and puke than never take the ride at all.
Great paper written on Dzieci

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dzieci's Maraton

Dzieci had mixed in with my dreamtime and meditation for weeks.

The week before Maraton was the most powerful. Each night as a slept, I was greeted by a sacred coven beckoning me to play, cry, dance, sing, heal. Upon meeting Matt Mitler and the Dzieci tribe outside of their repertory performances of Makbet and Fool’s Mass my body and soul shook. I had stepped into their dream and them into mine. Matt sat with each person who came in simply being with her/him before collecting donations for the weekend. I knelt, gazed and embraced Matt and offered my donation. My body shook with a gentle tremor as I felt the largeness of the space and the intensity of the journey that was to follow.

For years I’ve been disenchanted with theatre having acted professionally. I found my experience of the world of professional theatre deeply dehumanizing. If someone tells me they’re an actor of course I’m excited for them, but there’s also a place in my soul that stings with the pain I know caused by a life devoted to the craft in a professional context.

I remember the audition that turned me, I was waiting at one cattle call for a New York audition for Lysistrata. There were 200 women there to read ~ beautiful women, resumes in hand, immaculately dressed to sell themselves. We were waiting in line like horses being inspected to be purchased, having our teeth checked, inspecting our hooves, go for a trot around the room. I remember waiting, looking up and down the hall when something shifted in me. There was nothing sacred here. My soul made a decision that day to leave theatre. I threw out my headshots and buried my resume in the deep dark files of my computer. I went on a quest to discover my own voice and what it had to say. I wrote and performed poetry, I created a One- Woman Show with the support of Carlo Altomare & Orietta Crispin at the Theatre Lab. I co-created a and traveled with a spoken word play with New Street Poets. I created performance pieces around my relationship to orgasmic energy in the elements, but there was still a piece of my soul that felt like it was missing. That I had surrendered the day I trashed my headshots.

Years later and well on my spiritual path, I met and facilitated a few healing sessions for a fellow shaman. She mentioned she had participated in Dzieci’s Para-Theatrical Workshop Maraton and that it had changed her life. I felt a deep soul resonance with this woman and took her recommendation and filed it back in my mental rolodex to pull out again when I was ready to meet them. A few years later, I received an email from Ripley Grier Studios, having rented space from them for a naked yoga class a few years back. They mentioned they were hosting Dzieci’s Makbet. The card I had filed back in my brain flipped open and I decided to go check out the ritual performance. Witnessing Dzieci’s Makbet and the ecstatic and organic and deeply ceremonialized process of the play unlocked places in me that I had been longing to find in the theatre but didn’t know how to create. Dzieci had found the sacred and were weaving it into everything they did. As an audience member, when you see their work, you are not simply a witness. You are on the journey with them, invited into the tribe and embraced as community. After this production, I signed up for their newsletter and went on their website several times just to keep up with what they were offering. When I saw their repertory production of Fool’s Mass and was greeted with an equally profound response, I signed up for Maraton.

Maraton is a 24-hour journey into the very depths of your soul. My relationship with the theatre had been very fractured and wounded. I went in with the simple intention – to heal and realign myself with my highest purpose in relationship to theatre and performance. Maraton beings at 7am on a Saturday and ends at 7am on a Sunday. During that time, you are taken through a journey, sometimes silent, mostly non-verbal, into the very depths of your being. There’s no hiding. You meet yourself including the parts you don’t want to meet over and over, again and again. The company members and participants of Maraton create a matrix of energy. Each person in the room is a piece, a wisdom holder, part of the universal constellation. Who’s in the room is meant to be in the room. There’s a piece and place for everyone. After we sign in, we are silent. In silence, the deep impulse of movement, connection and creation unfolds. The process works with perhaps a loose form and is mostly created through transmission. There may be a plan and the plan may also instantly transform. During a particularly powerful physical exercise one participant received a painful injury to his eye. The group transformed and simply was with the participant who was injured. We sang to him, held space for him. He was rocked and cradled and a deep container of intimacy and compassion were created among the other participants. We all healed in this moment. The journey for those 24 hours is pure soul transformation. I saw how many places I had hidden in myself. I felt every archetype in my system awaken including some I hated, and in those places of hate and rejection a tremendous place of love and acceptance was allowed to open. By no coincidence, Maraton took place in the Dark of the moon, a time mostly easily accessible to dance in the shadowland of the soul. I soared in my strong suits and fell flat on my face in my personal places of disempowerment and in both of these extreme spaces magic and healing unfolded within the full spectrum. Walking dazed into the rising sun the next morning, I went home and wept and laughed spontaneously for the next 24 hours when I was caught with the recollection of a gaze into someone eyes, a song of awakening, a dance through the body's very limits of exhaustion and a return into the portal we all come from and to which we all ultimately return.

Dear perspective participant - You have to be ready. You have to want this with your whole soul. You will want to quit. You will want to fall back asleep. But you will want more to awaken to the eternal magic of the universe and your highest potential that is present within this powerful matrix. You find Dzieci when you are ready to find them. May you hear the call when ‘dzieci’ is ready to awaken in you.

'Dzieci' is Polish for 'Children'