To Love Truly

Our physicality brings us to conceive of relationships as pairings.

But when that is not an assertion of ownership but rather a consensus of trust, we discover that in loving a woman a man demonstrates to each man how to love his woman, and in loving a man a woman demonstrates to each woman how to love her man.

That tender touch is to affirm and heal the vulnerability of every man. That protective embrace is to offer shelter to every woman.

That is what it means to enter into the Spirit and Bride. We resonate within each other, and in that resonance discover the power and sensitivity that heals the world.

Goddesses

I woke up in the wee hours yesterday morning to the sound of gusting wind, crystallizing my plans for the day. The coastal arteries (US 101 and the Amtrak line) run on the seaward edge of Montecito. The tongues of the Thomas Fire had been licking its edges for the last week, and some of the fire team had predicted that if the winds ramped back up to 60 mph gust, the fire would burn all the way to the coast.

Not wanting to go three weeks without dancing, I resolved to reverse course and spend the day down in Westwood, where Ecstatic Dance was beginning its year-end celebration at 3 PM.

The day built through sublime moments. I always enjoy services at the University Catholic Center – the minds and hearts of college students are receptive. They were on holiday break, of course, but behind the fount a toddler delivered a joyous sermon of discovery throughout the mass.

At the Getty Center, a difficult moment: standing before four of Boticelli’s renderings of the Crucifixion, the woman next to me caught sight of my Love Returns logo and thought “Who is this man?” The passionate grief of that experience threatened to submerge me.

But the signature for the day was proclaimed by Ataseia at Ecstatic Dance. For the yoga warm-up, the foam puzzle mat had been set up in the middle of the floor. As the room filled up, Ataseia began to encourage us to join him there. Seeing people with rolled-up mats standing against the walls, he became more direct. “Really, people, I don’t need all this space for myself!” I was stretching my hamstrings, but heard feet padding onto the foam. Ataseia, famously gay, proclaimed, “Here come my goddesses!”

I haven’t been down to Ecstatic Dance LA since the Trump election. In that era, the ladies were young and timorous, and the crowd was smaller.

The dance was packed yesterday, which forced me into some restraint. That may have had some influence, but…something else was at work in the community.

As is typically for these events, the ladies outnumbered the men about three to one. They didn’t seem to care. They flaunted their sensuality for each other. When a man floated by, the ladies flirted, but didn’t get catty about it.

I didn’t recognize the change until about the midpoint of the celebration. When the energy begins to spin a little into the dirty, I’ll stop and raise my palm to the ceiling, focusing and projecting good will into the celebration. After a longish spell of such, I opened my eyes to start dancing again, and found a woman standing shoulder-to-shoulder with me, eyes closed in concentration.

That was novel.

So I went back into that space and enjoyed the feeling of sharing it with her. We danced a little together, and then floated off. She found another woman and starting dancing side-by-side with her.

The boys did get wild on occasion. For most of the celebration, the women held the center of the floor, but as I made my way through, my friend Adam confronted me. We began winding it up, leaping and lunging around each other, and the floor cleared a little. I was tired at that point, and didn’t last long, but by the time I wandered off, he had absorbed a couple of other men. When they were four, I couldn’t resist, and rushed back into the scrum. The floor opened up, a circle about fifteen feet across, and we went into Jedi mode, spinning and lunging, avoiding collision and injury only because we were one body. The ladies turned toward us, swaying, some coupled with arms around waists, smiling.

I was reduced to crawling across the floor to collapse on the pads in front of the altar.

Most important to me, however, was that the first meditative connection wasn’t the only time I found a woman creating space for me during the dance. Again and again I found myself connecting with a lady who just decided to hold her space while I moved through it.

The last experience was at the very end. A statuesque woman, showing a dancer’s tone and outrageous orange hair, confronted me solemnly from ten feet away. I had skipped past her several times, and she made it clear that she was ready to engage, slowly raising her hands above her head.

We began without contact, simply clearing the ether. Goddess or not, all woman I encounter have wounded hearts, and I ended up with my right palm hovering over the top of her breastbone. My left hand gently activated the upper three chakras. Her eyes were closed in concentration, but as I lowered them, they opened with a gentle smile.

I stepped in and whispered “Yes, you are beautiful. Believe in yourself.”

Dropping to my right knee reverentially, my palms hovered over her feet, and then my fingertips pressed into the floor, grounding her into the earth. Looking up to see how she was responding, I was rewarded by the most regal of attitudes.

I stood and we embraced. I felt her looking into my heart sympathetically, and I allowed myself to collapse against her. Eventually we knelt on the floor, ears pressed together, one arm over and one arm under; then switching to the other side. As we melted together, her forearms and palms glided slowly and tenderly over the perspiration on my back.

For the first time in my life I felt that in the presence of a woman neither she nor I had anything to prove. I was something infinitely precious. To be molded by her was a joy.

The Joy of Non-Attachment

Neal Crosbie tries not to take himself too seriously. I am an irritation, then, in that I see things revealed in his work that reflect the struggle to bring love into the world.

Which I take very seriously.

The challenge is to moderate our natural instincts, with the cerebral cortex being the tool that brings discipline. It’s a struggle because our bodies are designed to enjoy animalistic behavior. It’s a war because the spirits that preceded us don’t want to cede the stage of evolution to us.

And why should they? Evolution is about competition, and they serve a purpose is resisting our rise to dominance.

In the Native American tradition, the coyote is the most pitiful of the animal gods, getting his way only by tricking his betters. Trickery is a way of transforming situations, and so through his weakness, eventually coyote becomes the most influential of the gods.

As climate change withers the ecosystem that supported them, how is this supposed to happen? Animal gods have fewer bodies to manipulate, and so less means for reorganizing spirit.

A possible answer was proposed in some of Neal’s recent work. Compelled by a dream, I bought this one two weeks ago (sorry for this drab image; the color is vivid in the original):

CoyoteTransform

What struck me is the shadowing of Coyoteman’s color fields in the abstract construct on the right. I read this as a soul shadow. In this image, the color sprays emanate most obviously from the soul shadow. It’s not clear whether they are being assimilated, projected or expelled. That a transformation is being undertaken is suggested more strongly by the two elements on the right: the Buddhist circle of completion and the “greater vehicle” of Mahayana practice.

In conversation on Sunday, Neal explained that he is completely worn out upon returning home from the Art Walk. He has many deep conversations, his booth and eclectic art serving as a magnet. His joy is infectious. When I tried to suggest that he was engaged in spiritual service, he became hostile – and more so when I illustrated my point with Christian scripture.

But trickery is amusing. It provides us a release from tragedy. Contrast this with Siddhartha, who sought to conquer pain through asceticism. What’s the attraction in self renunciation? Joy has qualities that make it the more potent tool to achieve non-attachment

.I see this, then, as coyote’s essential contribution: through absurdity to guide us away from suffering into the harbor of joy. While the construction of that harbor is a weighty matter, I wouldn’t denigrate the guide. In fact, I wouldn’t want more to serve for any purpose than to shelter the spirits he inspires – not least because they inspire by their creativity.

Is Neal’s art then a method for implementing coyote’s transformation? I believe so.

How Long?

This nation has cultivated a spirit of violence. Lacking an external enemy, it turns now inward.

First Las Vegas, and now Texas. Both sites of the most fervent gun worship. The saner parts of the country reject your mania, and so the intensity of the hatred builds where it finds succor.

We shall overcome:

Exit the Dragon

Healing Touch

After Dance Tribe on Sunday, I stopped in to sit with a sick friend.

Reclining against the arm of his sofa, he motioned for me to take the armchair. I took the last pillow on the couch and put a hand on his shoulder. He got up to take a pain pill and we watched football, interrupted by two calls from ladies that love him.

Again I put my hand on his shoulder, then worked my way around to his neck on the side where the cancer was eating at his jaw. He sat up, giving me another twenty seconds to feel his spirit, then arose abruptly to set up a massage table. As he placed a sheet and pillow, I rolled a stool out from under the counter. He climbed onto the table, draping a blanket over his legs, and laced his fingers across his breastbone, waiting.

I had told him that I had come to get his head out of the way of the parts that were working toward healing: his heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. As I felt around, touching him gently, my right hand eventually came to rest along the right side of his head, fingers behind the ear.

I saw then the scene he had described before: the noose choking him as he grieved for his people and land.

The evil eating still at him.

I had advised him that many sacred beings stood in attendance to aid him in his struggle, and I did nothing for those twenty minutes other than facilitate the introductions. They gathered under my palms and fingertips, secure as I felt around in the corruption until safe harbor was found.

He relaxed completely, patient with my intuitive explorations. It was only at the end that I hooked my fingertips under the choking circle and widened it, lifting it over his head twice. Remnants remained – the connection to those others that had suffered with him, a connection that he needed to strengthen to transmit the pattern of healing.

I admitted: “I think that I need to allow you to process what you’ve received. Is it OK if I leave now?”

Dear friend, what an honor it is to support your struggle to bring light into the world.

What Happened in Vegas

I drove out to Vegas last night, getting in around midnight. After taking a room in the Mandalay Bay hotel, I walked down to the victim’s memorial on Las Vegas Blvd, finally turning in around 2 AM. I woke at 6 AM, unable to rest, and began the work that I was sent to do.

Touching the 58 crosses this morning, I was astonished by the number of young women. From some came peace and acceptance – from others the mourning of the family and communities from which they had been ripped.

That number was repeated at the Church of the Sacred Redeemer at noon. The celebrant mentioned the 58 several times.

But there weren’t only 58 dead. It’s just that one is dismissed as unworthy of concern.

Reading of Paddock’s writhing and moaning in bed, I understood his struggle. We used to talk about the “bad seed” or say the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Paddock’s father transmitted a spirit of violence to him. Today, many that suffer that initiation choose not to have children for fear that they will infect them as well. Paddock may have not had children for that very reason.

At Love Returns, I write of the Earth as a honey pot that trapped selfish personalities, enabled Micha-el and his cohorts to cast them out of heaven. Rejected, they rage against humanity here on earth, driving us into self-destructive behaviors.

What I realized, as I drove without rest for five hours on Sunday night, is that they are now trapped in our minds in the same way. If we focus our will carefully, we can blow them up.

In controlling their victims, one of the memes used by demons is that God has abandoned them. I went out to Las Vegas to love our enemy – to redeem the only soul that was in doubt. For those that can’t put the pieces together, that may be for the best.

But I will testify as to this: the grace and forgiveness of the Father is unlimited. Every spirit that falls and is redeemed blazes a trail through human nature. When we peer into their darkness, they see a light shining down on them. It’s important not to leave them there alone.

By Grief to Heal

At a Good Friday service, a minister once advised:

There are some sorrows too great for the body to bear, and for this reason we have rituals.

If this is true, then perhaps also the converse is true. To confront our deepest wounds, we strip away all semblance of ritual, and connect to our experience through the simplest practice.

For the final workshop of my Soul Play Fall Fest, I participated in Clarity Breathwork with Ashanna Solaris. The thirty attendees almost filled the space. After a brief explanation of the practice, Ashanna passed a crystal around the room, asking each of us to share our name and a few words that described the goal we hoped to achieve. Seated just to her right, I received the stone last. Held in my left hand, the crystal was infused with the energy cupped in my right as I slowly intoned:

Empowered feminine partnership.

But the Father asserted himself.

We were organized in two rows, heads toward the center with a footpath to allow Ashanna and her assistant to reach easily those overwhelmed by powerful emotion. I positioned myself next to the wall, actually a short space from the others.

The practice was simple: a slow rhythmic breathing, described by Ashanna as “feminine.” The inhale was heard as “ah” and the exhale as “oh.” No pauses between – we were to create a deep, steady cycling of energy.

Whether fighting food coma or afternoon lethargy, for the first twenty minutes I had trouble staying awake, much less maintaining the rhythm. Eyes closed, four times or five I heard a female voice in my ear encourage me to “Keep breathing.” Finally I got the knack of it, enjoying a steady cycle that built energy between my hips and solar plexus.

The voice was not satisfied. “Breathe into your heart. Let it rise into your chest.” Allowing my ribs to expand with the inhale, my back arced away from the carpet as my breastbone lifted upwards, falling with the exhale. The blocked energy washed upwards. Running from shoulder to shoulder, an intense band traced my head.

Sorrow awoke in my heart and built through five or so repetitions, and I was there again. My breath caught on the grief of the experience, losing its rhythm. The voice again ordered “Keep breathing.” I went deeper, and then crumbled in psychic agony. Wracked by sobs that broke into moans, the inhale became a brief gasp. I struggled for a minute, the blood-streaked visage filling my mind’s eye, until the voice commanded, “Breathe, breathe.” Slowly the inhale became longer, the exhale less explosive.

I was astonished by the serenity of the face above the broken body. My forearms just below the wrists began to glow with energy. He suffered, but when the animal reactions asserted themselves, he projected them away. That urge to scream, to struggle against the pins that held the limbs against the wood, to flee the pain of metal grinding against bone, these were suppressed and projected forward, finding their way through two thousand years to me.

I screamed, a long, impossibly slow articulation of agony that stretched out for twenty seconds. As the sound echoed in the room, my amazed intellect observed that the lungs were not deflating. Hands took my head and the voice, less assured, again commanded “Breathe!” I did, but the rhythm was marked by short, choked sobs.

I broke again, long waves rolling through me, hips and shoulders seeking freedom from the floor made intimate by the discipline of the practice. A last paroxysm brought my head against the carpet hard enough to thump against the concrete floor. Intellect stilled me with alarm.

And then the serenity transfixed me. I lost bodily awareness, floating in a space of sacred regard. The twelve elders stood guard around me, finding focus in the twelve apostles. My sacred lady turned her tender gaze upon me. Returning to earth, the glow in my forearms brightened and lengthened, and filled my feet. He thought “Father, I offer these wounds to you.” Pulled skywards, my arms and legs left the floor. Tears came, punctuating the impossible serenity and the compassion that sustained it.

The voices around me broke through, others sobbing in grief. I realized that I had triggered this. I came instantly to alertness, again in the room. Rising up on one side, I caught Ashanna’s eye as she ministered to a woman near me, and breathed the question, “Do you want me to help?”

“Whenever you are able.”

I gathered my legs under me, stretched my palms into the heavens, and washed the room with love.

The woman next to me was the most distressed. I won’t describe in detail. Ashanna’s assistant and I spent several minutes with her. Others needed attention, and left alone I advised. “Feel the love in the room. Breath it into your lungs. Now let it flow into your blood, and gather in your heart. Now let it flow from your heart to the rest of your body.” She steadied, and I offered simple praise. “Good job.”

She gasped “You too. Good job.” Then she turned away to her man. Gathered in his sturdy embrace, she immediately steadied.

Ten minutes later, as I delayed waiting for the others to depart so that I could check in with Ashanna, my coparticipant caught my attention. “Thank you. I never would have done it otherwise. You went for it, and I decided to do the same. You filled the room with this incredible energy, and I just went along.”

I’ve been there before, triggered by the passing of the elements or the words of a song. Eyes filled with awe, people huddled together in groups, glancing over shoulders turned against me.

So this was the greatest gift of the weekend: to be told that in that suffering the seeds of healing could be found. That is why it was done. That was its purpose. It is the only way to make meaning of it.