Spring! Where the old myths reside…

easterbunny.jpgI love how old myths seep into cultural rituals—even cultural symbols as benign as the Easter bunny are diluted from a smorgasbord of ancient rituals celebrating the changing of the seasons, the rotation of soil, and the birth of spring.(1)

Witches and poets may be the ones who conjure up the old myths, a practice of keeping mythical consciousness alive. As the poet Robert Duncan writes,

“Thus, myth becomes mystery: its true significance and depth lie not in what its configurations reveal but in what they conceal…. From this result the various types and trends of myth interpretation—the attempts to disclose the meaning, whether metaphysical or ethical, that is concealed in myths.”

What is concealed in the culturally accepted stories we tell about spring? The Easter bunny, his chocolate form wrapped in colorful foil, replicated in every store; gingerly placed in pink laced baskets, on a field of grass, surrounded by chicks and eggs. What meanings can be disclosed from this odd ritual?

You may know the myth of Persephone—the mythological Queen of the underworld from Greek mythology who makes the earth barren in winter, but who ascends once a year to mark the transition of the earth to Spring.

But how about Ishtar (pronounced “Easter”), the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of love, procreation, sexuality, fertility, and war?

Or how about the cosmic egg, which, according to the Vedic writings:

…has a spirit living within it which will be born, die, and be born yet again. Certain versions of the complicated Hindu mythology describe Prajapati as forming the egg and then appearing out of it himself. Brahma does likewise, and we find parallels in the ancient legends of Thoth and Ra. Egyptian pictures of Osiris, the resurrected corn god, show him returning to life once again rising up from the shell of a broken egg. The ancient legend of the Phoenix is similar. This beautiful mythical bird was said to live for hundreds of years. When its full span of life was completed it died in flames, rising again in a new form from the egg it had laid (Newall, Venetia. “Easter Eggs,” The Journal of American Folklore Vol 80 (315): 3-32.).

In his 1835 book Deutsche Mythologie, Jacob Grimm, looking for the origins of Easter celebrations, wrote that “Eostre” must have been a local version of a more widespread Germanic goddess, whom he named Ostara. But it doesn’t appear in any written record that Ostara existed before this moment.*** (2)

Of course, many of these myths are remembered and passed down by pagan communities seeking to maintain mythical consciousness as a resistance to the colonizing effects of Christianity on their polytheistic rituals and beliefs. How they congregate into a chocolate bunny is a meme replicated and changing as it evolves in the collective imagination.

For me, Spring is an awakening of the kind of creativity that pulls from deep, unconscious sources to synthesize energies and mold them into a new form. The veil between the seen and the unseen means that we are poised at equilibrium–body and mind are in a state of anticipation, ready to “spring” forward into a feeling of rapid growth.  In this way, Spring is very much like the collective, creative imagination that takes different threads from various sources and weaves them into a crazy story about  a rabbit who hides cosmic eggs in trees for the amazement of children.

So what’s your crazy story that’s gradually coming into form? What dreams do you dare to dream? What cosmic births are you ready to offer the world?

Here is a fun, easy way to acknowledge the energy of your creative Spring, as well as to pay homage to the myriad ways that myths expand and enrich our consciousness. It’s wonderful to practice alone, or with family/ friends:

eggshells growingOn a hard boiled egg, write down key words for anything that has been put on hold during the long months of winter—anything that is dormant within you that you are open to allowing the new energy of Spring to blossom.

Crack the egg, and place the broken shells in a bowl.

Eat the egg as a symbol of the incarnation of a new idea, wish, or dream.

Find a growing thing — a plant, flower, or tree. Collect dirt from around the growing thing and mix it in the bowl with the shells.

Then pat the growing thing with the shell mixture—you are giving it back it’s soil, with the addition of the nutrients that come from eggshells. And your words are now a part of ecosystem that is a part of all evolving and growing things.

And now, follow the energy.

Here is a poem by the somatic healer, dancer, and poet Cheryl Pallant from her recent book, Her Body Listening  which does just that:

Look there
where
I ocean
I sky I earth and bleed dark, the wet round death birthing the shed of skin peeling logic and pretense, lines rendering senseless supreme sense. Sisters enter whole and crouch on knees and elbows, waves foaming, a small dance beaconing adamantine retrieval, the great perfection of imperfect. Strings vibrate. Chips chip away. La la lee. La la lo. Cannot winnows can to win.

—————————————————–
***Still, Ostara took on a life of her own. Folklorists inspired by Grimm imagined fanciful tales about the Goddess of the Spring. My favorite story is one that I think blends multiple mythic origins into such a sweet narrative. It goes something like this:

One year, The Goddess of Spring arrives late. To her horror, she finds a baby bird who had hatched too soon, his wings encrusted with ice. In her grief, she transforms the bird into a snow hare, and his coat of white fur warms him back to life. Birthed of a goddess, he is of course a most alluring and handsome creature who the Queen of Spring takes to be her earthly lover. She loves him so much that she gives him the power to lay beautiful, multi-colored eggs—he was once a bird, after all—which he takes great joy in hiding in the knobs of trees.

Of course, a hare cannot resit his horny nature and one born of a goddess is no different. He is prone to frolicking with all the other beautiful creatures born into Spring. Irate over his infidelity, Ostara banishes him to the stars where he becomes a constellation—Lepus, who sits just South of Orion. (Until this story, Lepus, identified in the 2nd century, had no origin in mythology.) Perhaps realizing that her punishment was too severe, Ostara allows him to return to Earth once a year, at the start of Spring, to hide his eggs and bedazzle children with his beautiful eggs.

Love is in the air

words can't describe.jpgValentine’s Day is a useful day to remember that love is not a box of chocolates, nor is it a candy kiss.

Love is an energy, but like most powerful forces, it is invisible. We physically feel it in our bodies, but finding the language to express it is difficult. As the old saying goes, “Words just can’t describe…”

In fact, the only way we can really use language to express invisible forces is through metaphors. And although metaphors can be beautiful, they can also limit our experience.

In their wonderfully eye-opening book Metaphors We Live By, the linguists George Laykoff and Mark Johnson collect some of the ways that love is expressed in English:

LOVE IS A PATIENT: Love is a drug. He hurt me. Love is pain. My heart is broken. Love is blind.
LOVE IS A PHYSICAL FORCE: You’re electrifying. Sparks were flying. We have chemistry. Our lives revolve around each other.
LOVE IS MADNESS: I’m crazy for you. You drive me out of my mind. I’m wild about you. She drives me insane.
LOVE IS WAR: He pursued her relentlessly. He won her over.

Certainly, what these metaphors reveal is that the way we describe love is wobbly—in one moment we’re weak in the knees; in the next, we’re on a battlefield fighting for it (or defending against it). We fall into it, we fall out of it. Everyone stands in a different relationship to it. If you’re out of love, you might be desperate to fall back into it; if you are no longer in love, you might feel boxed in; if you are in love but that love is not reciprocated, you might feel like you are falling apart. It hurts one minute, and is cathartic the next.

Although another person can ignite the feeling of love in you (and that’s a beautiful, amazing thing), feeling the love does not have to depend on other people. Often, the frenzied way that we search for love in other people renders us into hungry ghosts—so desperate are we to find the energy in another person, we walk around in a dazed state of seeking: mouths wide open, bellies bulging, but throats too small to receive:

hungryghost

Realm of the Hungry Ghosts

Thank goodness the metaphors that describe love are not love itself and escape from the realm of Hungry Ghosts is only a breath away.

If you are single on Valentines day, find the love that is all around you. If you are heart-broken on Valentines day, surrender to what is whole in you. If you are in love on Valentines day, relish that person and kiss them madly. Love is fleeting, love is a consciousness.

“Everything is in the love, and everyone needs the love”
Sufi Sheikh Sidi al-Jamal

“I got something that you need. I got the love.”- Eels, Love of the Loveless

“One Love! What about the one heart? One Heart!” -Bob Marley, One Love

The secret is in the love. In the love is the oxygen and the pores, the opening and the heart. In the love is the blood, vein and artery that threads and pumps, pools and flows; the love keeps you in circulation.

The love is where the breath gathers in the spine and some say the lotus blooms.

The love is always in the air.
There are waves within every vibration.
It’s the love.
Return to it.
Make it known, make it circulate, make it heart, make it lung, and hold it.
Pump and crystal it.
Turn and surrender to it.
Everything is in the love.

=====================

If you’re in NYC on Monday Feb. 12, stop by the Bowery Poetry Club for the Square Root of Love, an evening of poetry and music curated by the one and only John Sims:

SquareRootOfLoveposter

 

 

Happy Year of the Earth Dog

earth dog

2018 is the year of the Earth Dog.

Good luck!

Don’t go too far under.

But if you do, remember.

The dog always knows the way out.

Dear kindred spirits:

I am of the mood to let it all go, and yet I know that this is easier said than done. In Chinese astrology, 2017 was, quite aptly, the year of the rooster (luck! romance! prosperity! Except Ug…those roosters. Their bravado, supremacy, and hierarchy do not rule the zodiac with benevolence).

It was a difficult year for me, and a difficult year for many of you that I know.

It was year of upheaval in which a politics of cruelty unmasked many of the hypocrisies and unveiled many of the possibilities within the politics of reason (formally known as “democracy.”)

It was a year of personal reckoning in which rejections mounted and I lost the dailyness of a close friend and with it the love and vibrancy that he brought to my life. (He’s not dead, just moved to Texas!)

And, it was a year of reckoning with the shifting ground of hope. When hope is alive in our lives, everything seems possible. But what does this even mean? After all, the shift in almost every sphere has left many people without a clear vision of the future.

Culturally we think about “hope” as a vision constructed in an energetic moment of possibility that then, poof! Our vision comes into the world as if by some fluke of magic.

Yet, as Carla Harryman, in her deeply theoretical and yet personal analysis of the philosopher Ernst Bloch writes, “Realized change is never an end in itself.”

This is so true. Realized change may begin as an energetic burst of possibility, but what synergistic atomic particles need to come into alignment in order to make that thought manifest in reality?

Let’s just say chaos is a simpler theory than hope.

And it is possible to find hope, even there.

These are my goals for 2018:

-roll with the punches but never let them keep me, or anyone I come into contact with, down
-surf the pain because it’s not mine, or yours: it’s a cultural sickness
-build community so that suffering is always collective, always shared
-make or support art and music whenever vapid noise rules supreme

Join me!

I’m leading a new year’s trance writing retreat, starting a healing circle (remote and live), and continuing to invite people to my home in Westchester, NY for fire ceremonies at the equinox and solstice (contact me for more info).

If you’re on this same wavelength, please keep in touch!

Sending love, light, and….a new definition of hope: stability within chaos.

 

Kristin

Reclaiming Power

The international swell of sexual harassment and abuse allegations has the potential to be a revolution. Although it is primarily women who are coming forward, people of all genders are bravely telling their stories. The revolution is wake-up-call for people in power—primarily men because they are the gatekeepers of that power— to stop equating how fuckable a person is with their innate qualities as a human being. Although it’s hard to imagine a society of any kind where the powerful behave benevolently, it shouldn’t be so hard to imagine one where the powerful behave justly.

But for that to happen, we all need to acknowledge our relationship to power. There is no doubt but that for many people, their power is forcibly taken away. In situations of harassment, intimidation, and rape, there is no consent and these situations need to be publicly aired and taken to court.

However, for every person who has told a story of sexual harassment or intimidation there are those who have consciously wielded their sexuality to get a job, a part in a movie, an article published, a review, etc. Should those lucky people also come forward—without fear of judgement or reproach—to at least acknowledge that this power play happened and it worked for them? This is a Capitalist society, after all—and the message that gets hammered into us is that there is nothing wrong with perceiving a game and then playing it until you get what you want. I personally did not choose this path but I also can’t begrudge those who did.

Of course, the game is rigged. Which means that for every person who submitted to the power play and advanced in their career, there are hundreds who tried and failed to get the part. These people now have to bear the shame of playing the game willfully and consciously, but in the end, getting nothing. Those people also need support because rejection, bitterness, and envy are horrible energies to carry around. Trump’s election played into these energies; they make people cruel, un-compassionate, and shut-down as human beings.

Then there are those who, like me, saw that the game was rigged and tried really hard to live on the outside of it. But even that is complicated. Looking back on my youth, I was always suspicious of women who flaunted their sexuality because I had been raised to believe that expressions of female sexual desire were expressions of a false personae—dressing the part to appease men in power but never able to achieve that power in themselves. This viewpoint was supported by women friends in various fields of work who would talk scornfully about how so-and-so had gotten that job, or that publicity; that publication, or that part.

But the disdain I felt for “those women” really meant that I was disdaining myself; I had suppressed my own femininity and sexuality because I was afraid that if I expressed it, I too would become one of the hated false women. This suppression affected my relationships, and it affected my career. I was so fearful of being scrutinized by men in power and so in horror of what I perceived them to want from me — that I put up a shield every time I walked into a room.

Looking back I can see many opportunities missed because of this.

In my 40s—well, let’s just say it was the return of the repressed, or in my case, the return of the false woman. (I unpack this idea in my unpublished book “Killing the False Woman Keeps the Live One From Breathing,” and I talk about it on the Commonplace Podcast.) She came out with a vengeance in ways that, looking back, were self-destructive and destructive within my relationships.

Now 50, I have a new found confidence in the balance between my intelligence, my sexuality, and my femininity and finally feel balanced and in “my power.” But I do wonder about my youth—all those years where I rejected my femininity and demonized my sexuality—where would I be now had I felt able to express it?

I read an article in the Times saying that some men are reacting by hunkering back into their old-boy networks—canceling Christmas parties and being cautious about what they say to women. But for them to do this is to entirely miss the point.

The point is that this is a revolution in which power itself is being questioned and yes, it’s a reaction to Trump and the white male supremacy that he has unleashed. For this reason, Men in power who consider themselves enlightened seriously need to walk through the world and evaluate people not as fuckable or not fuckable, but as human beings. Gender is not the only issue—rather, I think it’s about how people in power abuse the sexual expression of others for their own gratification; and how people who want that power behave in relation to it.

Thanks for reading! Stay human! Expand in love.


 

 

Inauguration Incantation

You have hurt me
I store this in my armbone
You have hurt me
I store this in my chestbone
You have hurt me
I store this in my neckbone
You have hurt me
I store this in my marrow bones.
I have hurt you
you store this in your heartbone
I have hurt you
you store this in your belly bone
I have hurt you
you store this in your mind bone
I  have hurt you
you store this in your source bone
in your being bone
at the base of your neckbone
in your reptile mind bone
You have hurt my mind
my love organ
You have hurt my brain
my eye organ
You have hurt my throat
my voice organ
You have hurt my cells
my breathing organ
You have hurt my womb
my heart organ

And I hound you
Hound your bombing missiles
Hound your tax cuts
Hound your poison policies
Hound your 100 word vocabulary
Hound your arctic drills
Hound your dead sea creatures
Hound your highest-bidder family planning
Hound your oil addiction
Hound your white hooded support network
Hound your domestic terrorism white house
Hound your hybrid vegetables
Hound your censoring of human love
Hound your elimination lullaby

But I am not at war with you.
My war
is with your avarice
my war
is with your hate
my war
is with your wrath

and your wrath will not pull me down

because your wrath is not my sun

your wrath is a black hole in your eye

your wrath pulls bile into itself and

my sun is warm
beauty, diversity, poetry, and love.

My sun is love.

It is one among millions of suns,

all sourced from the same light.

holdpaperhands red candle chant, shout, screamsounds rage into red candle burns rage into red candle burns brighterhotterforceangerfuels now firepapers tininto burn out papers burn down lightwhite candle replace the rage with (peace self-esteem calm security) newemotionsenergy fill you up write feelhealing sourcestrength

-Kristin Prevallet
From Solidarity Texts: Radiant Re-Sisters edited by Laynie Browne
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1rs1mKiAeL4NFlybzBUWUVSNEk/view

Three Reasons to Jumpstart your New Year’s Resolutions Now

Have you ever made the conscious decision to change something about your life or health, and then said to yourself: “I’ll do that AFTER I get through this stressful time in my life.”

Only to find that stress never really passes – or if it does, you no longer feel the same urgency or commitment to make the change?

Until, as poet John Ashbery writes in the poem “Varient”

“the whole thing overflows like a silver
Wedding cake or Christmas tree, in a cascade of tears.”

Here are three good reasons to cascade the change you want to make in your life not into tears, but into a path that has already begun to form, one day at a time, starting now.

1. New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work…

…unless, of course, you have a steel resolve and the unflinching willpower to maintain your initial burst of enthusiasm. What does work is to set realistic goals and take small steps on a daily basis towards those making those goals a reality. So if you start now, by the time the new year rolls around you’ll be on the right track.

2. Laying down the seeds to get yourself started might not be as hard as you think.

For example, if weight loss is your goal, what if you made the commitment now to eat 1/2 your usual portion, savoring every bite? If you’re trying to stop smoking, how about spending this week smoking 1/3 fewer cigarettes, becoming more aware of your cravings, and drinking a glass of water each time you feel a craving coming on?

Whatever your goal may be, chunk it down to what is possible and commit to that. It will be easier to achieve.

3. Stress may stifle your desire to make changes, but procrastination buries it alive.

A new year is a reminder of how time flies – Tempus fugit. Whatever it is that you’ve been meaning to can drag your energy down, making it a lot harder to commit to larger changes. So find six hours between now and the New Year to do what you need to do to get that “to do” list in motion.

If it’s something big – like writing a dissertation or starting a new business – then separate the forest into trees, and the trees into branches. Make the job smaller, and once you’ve got it started keep taking small steps until you’re on a roll.

Happy new year – every day, starting now.

==========================================

If you’d like some guidance, there are two ways that I can be of help to you.

If you’re in the New York area, join me for a Resolution Retreat Feb 3-4.
Click here for more info

Or, you can call me for a free, 30 minute resolution exploration phone call.
Click here for more info

Past Lives Future Time

dsc01241

Often when I tell people that I lead retreats to explore past lives, the reaction wavers between amusement and bewilderment. Especially now with so much that is disruptive and harmful happening in the political sphere, it might seem counter-intuitive to spend an afternoon trancing-out into the stories and metaphors that seemingly lay beneath the surface of your consciousness.

But have you ever had the experience of focusing so intently on a problem that all the energy you put into thinking just makes it worse? Or, a situation in which the more you try try to deal with it head on, you are lead you into a hall of mirrors that splinters into a debilitating anxiety and its ripple effect of insomnia?

And so you decide to give it a rest and go to the movies. And you find that getting lost in the narrative of the movie helps you to release emotions that you didn’t know were there. As you follow the characters through the plot, you are able to disconnect from what had been ailing you.

Perhaps, when the movie is over, you cry or feel that weird feeling that you are in a movie, feeling those same feelings. Then, somehow, when you return to deal with your problem, you have a new insight or approach that seems to lift the heaviness out of the situation.

Sometimes disassociating can be a marvelous thing.

And you’ve got more movies than Netflix streaming inside your mind right now — and believe it or not, they’re better than Hollywood when it comes to helping you to get insight into difficult areas of your life. And if you need to heal, spending some time with those movies can actually allow your body to relax and do what it needs to do to bring your body and mind into alignment.

What are the metaphors that open up the rich imaginative doors to the movies within the movies of our lives? Traditionally one imagines being on a boat in a gentle river surrounded by a blue mist; doorways are of course important, as are portals and tunnels.

To me it doesn’t matter if these moves are “real.” Was I actually a young boy who my family had written off/forgotten about? Did I watch from high up in a tree as my family was slaughtered by settlers, not one of them ever wondering what happened to me?

It was in the unfolding of this story that I suddenly felt better about something specific happening in my life—and if this story was my unconscious mind’s way of releasing what needed to be released so that I could move forward, I’d say that’s pretty amazing. Whether it actually happened or not is irrelevant.

The narrative of past life regression allows for unconscious searching. It is like following sign-posts leading somewhere, even if you are not sure where it is that you’ll end up. It’s reader participation–you are making your own narrative, like draping cloth between two poles. The tapestry that unfolds–the quality of the stitching, the colors, the texture–all that all comes from you. And somehow, it means something to you.

Perhaps as you reveal these narratives to yourself you’ll stumble on a story that you can then unfold into your writing or art. A character might emerge and grab ahold of you, prompting you with the energy to write into/around his/her story.

Perhaps it will be more like fragments or pieces of memory that will be revealed.

Or a feeling — unsettled, or settling.

Sometimes if you don’t like the movie that’s playing right now, you need to check out a different theater. Get a different perspective, and make changes from there.

So whatever you are facing in your life—whether it be terror in the political sphere or debilitating stress or illness in your personal sphere—take a break from it. Gather your resources, heal your body, and trust that you have within you the narratives to be strong and survive.