• Category Archives Beyond the Boundaries
  • Joy

    Summer and the Herme Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Herme. The Seeker. Gaius Ovidius. Han Shan. Writing a very short play. Acting. Distractions. Procrastination. Writing again. Working on revelation. Sacred. Divine. Holy. Spiritual. Religious. Worship. Inspiration. What do these words mean? Are they still important? Judaism. Sarah. BJ. Family. Ruth and Gabe. Marina Harris. My son and Seoah. Murdoch. Korea. Adapters. Travel. Love. Burning it all away but love. Life’s purpose.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: the religious life

    One brief shining: Here it is the Lodgepole out my window I look at it and see all its Branches arranged towards the East where Great Sol becomes seen each morning no need for western facing Branches due to the shade of others those Branches toward Great Sol right now hold Needles and Cone, survival and reproduction of the species, unseen but known to me is that most magical and necessary of all transformations/transubstantiations photosynthesis gathering in the nuclear fusion power of Great Sol, combining it with carbon dioxide and water, then stepping it down into sugars and oxygen and fixed carbon. A miracle of the ordinary. The ordinary as miracle.


    Oh. Speeding into my mind since last Tuesday night Herme and the nature of revelation. Prompting a creative torrent can’t keep up with it. Have to slow down. Stop. Read. Watch television. Burning through my photosynthetically captured energy reserves. Glad my thyroid stimulating hormone has given me the ability to use the energy as long as I can. More than glad. Joyful.


    This is so much fun. Considering how to lace lines from Han Shan into my own written dialogue, stage directions, settings. Imagining how to advance the plot, how to have a smash bang ending. Yippee! Having to figure out how to represent each character distinctively. When I have trouble having to do that for one character. Gotta thank Alan for suggesting acting classes. I’ve learned so much about myself. About talents and skills long buried. Not gone. Which makes me happy.

    Acting combines the intellect and the emotions, the lev heart/mind, into a sharpened tool with the whole body. The voice. Movement. Posture. Cadence. Emphasis. Volume. All important. Plus memory. Putting it all into the mind and retrieving it as necessary, remembering per Meisner how to live truthfully in an imaginary situation.


    Also going to sleep thinking about revelation. What does it reveal? How? When? How do we know it when it’s happening? Waking up with revelation still on my mind. Seeing revelation through my window.

    The book of Nature, of super nature, always open to one page or another. Great Sol in the Sky. The Lodgepole out my window. The first six inches of Top Soil. Feeling the Oxygen breathed out by the Lodgepoles going into my lungs. Another miracle. The transfer of Oxygen into my blood stream so the energy gained from Plants and Animals can transubstantiate into my organs, flesh, bones, lev. How marvelous! How wonderful.

    These are the ordinary encounters, yes, but still inspirational. Perhaps they don’t rise to the level of revelation. The line between revelation and an ordinary miracle is still not clear to me. Perhaps an ordinary miracle involves the intellect more. I can look up photosynthesis, read about it, yet its role in our life of very life is so intimate, so critical, and so ignored that seeing where it is happening, right now, opens my heart in wonder.

    Yet it does not have the jolt, the jitterbugging of the Rainy Night Watcher. That was a hairs on the skin rising up goosebumps moment. I take from those indicators that my body/lev responded holistically. No mental processing. No slotting of the experience or wondering about Elks. Rather an oh this is happening to me right now! Wow. What? Gosh. A frisson of fear. I can still see him dimly lit at the side of the road, watching, his Antlers spread wider than the space of the two Lodgepoles just behind them.

    Loving this, too. Reimagining revelation. Yes. That’s the key.



  • A Psychedelic Old Age Anyone?

    Imbolc and the Waiting To Cross Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Movies. Women Talking. TV. New Amsterdam. On Joy, Season 4, episode 1. The Last of Us. Finale. Furball Cleaning. CJ Box. James Pogue. Anarchy. Political Violence. Decivilization. Michael Pollan. How to Change Your Mind. The Plant Magic Cafe in Denver. Keens. Ruth and Gabe this afternoon. Taxes. It’s time. Silicon Valley Bank. Vibrant Matter.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: ChatbotGPT


    This week. One eye exam. Two radiation treatments. Three visits with friends. And a Peruvian glazed chicken breakfast for supper. Almost Christmas. Gotta figure out my playlist for the Cyberknife. Coltrane. The Band. Cool jazz. The Blues. The Goldburg Variations. Not sure.

    Yes, there’s a bit of absurdity to my life. It veers from the sublime to the profane and back again. Wait a minute. That’s everybody’s life isn’t it? One moment we’re watching our grandson make his uneasy way across the floor to us and the next we’re paying bills. Getting on a jet plane for that much needed vacation. Stuffing the grocery list in our pocket and heading out to Safeway or Lunds.

    We can’t afford to stay in one state too long. Neither the mundane or the profound. Not built for it. A continuous state of ecstasy would drive us mad. Too much of the quotidian dulls us, pulls under. We all need to work on our ecstatic to the ordinary balance.

    That’s why I plan to head into the Plant Magic Cafe someday soon. See if there’s someone who can help me find a willing source for some psilocybin. It’s been a minute for me. It’s now legal in Colorado to receive a gift of psilocybin. And to have it in your possession. But you can’t buy it.

    Not that that’s the only source of ecstasy for me. Dream world. Hiking in the Mountains. Reading a great poem. Discovering new ideas. Deep conversations with friends. Writing. Even so. It is one and I want to go again.

    There was this time, you see. Long ago and far away. But not so long ago, really. When students opposed a stupid war. Men walked on the Moon. And there were drugs to help you find your own way among the stars. The music, too. That wonderful music. We did slip the surly bonds of normal life. A time when the ecstatic to the ordinary balance tipped toward the ecstatic.

    We lived it. Some of us. Then many of us, most of us, allowed the lapping Waters of work and family to serve as a constant draught from Lethe. We never fully forgot though. A bit of Tinkerbell’s dust remained caught in our hair.

    No. I don’t want to go back to a psychedelic age of protest and up the establishment. That was college. This is old age. What I want is a psychedelic old age. And protest? Of course. Always. Up the establishment? Never quit on that one. Or the protest either for that matter.

    Thing is I can’t stay up late lying on the floor with my head between the speakers and the Doors cranking out Riders on the Storm.

    What’s that look like? A psychedelic old age. About to find out.

  • The Consolation of the Natural World

    Yule and the Moon of the New Year, at 4% Crescent

    The Webb in its L2 orbit:

    “Telescope deployment is complete. Webb is now orbiting L2. Ongoing cooldown and eventual instrument turn-on, testing and calibration occur. Telescope mirror alignment and calibration also begin as temperatures fall within range and instruments are enabled.

    The telescope and scientific instruments started to cool rapidly in the shade of the sunshield once it was deployed, but it will take several weeks for them to cool all the way down to stable operational temperatures. This cooldown will be carefully controlled with strategically-placed electric heater strips. The remaining five months of commissioning will be all about aligning the optics and calibrating the scientific instruments.” NASA

    Monday gratefuls: Mental health care for teens. Jon’s care for Ruth yesterday. The tenderloin roast. Yumm. The blizzard in Maine. The cold in Minnesota. The mind numbing 45 degrees we had here today. Ode in Mexico. Peak TV. All the wonderful series on now. Righteous Gemstones. Pennyworth. Bulgasal. Hotel del Luna. Qin Empire. New Book-Becky Chamber’s, A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Life



    Tom asked me this morning how I got along so well with prostate cancer. With grief. With living alone. OK, he didn’t ask those last two, but I figure he implied them.

    When first diagnosed in May of 2015, six months after we moved to Colorado, cancer hit me hard. I sat there in Eigner’s office listening. Who me?

    When I got in the car to drive back home, the first thought was: Don’t drive when in the grip of strong emotions. Oh. Yeah. Sat there for a minute wondering if it was a good idea to pull out of the parking lot. But. How am I gonna get home?

    The mountains were still new to me then. Amazing me each time I went somewhere. Still true, yes, but then my amazement was new, too. I chose to drive back Deer Creek Canyon Road, a sort of back way from Littleton to Conifer.

    Turning left about three miles north of the Denver Botanical Gardens, I began the trek up the site, millions of years ago, of the Rocky Mountain Orogeny.  Rocky Cliffs rose from the Earth and the road began to climb as Cliffs and Streams and Boulders began to dominate. Colorado Blue Spruce, Ponderosa Pine, Lodgepole Pine. Aspen. A few Willows and Dogwoods along Deer Creek

    Numb. Yes, numb. But then. These Mountains. The layer cake of their formations. One strata on top of another pushed up, up, up out of the Bedrock during the Laramid Orogeny, 80 to 55 million years ago. This Rock was ancient then, resting in place, awaiting the slow changes that come even to the seemingly obdurate.

    These facts were fresh with me because, as is my way, I’d been reading a lot about the Rockies before and after our move. I like to know where I am. And how it got to be there.

    Huh. It hit me. I’m such a Mayfly. Even my cancer is such a small thing. Big to my life, sure, but in the scope and sweep of these Mountains, Granite and Gneiss and Marble and Shale exposed after a long, long sleep. A sweep of the second hand.

    As is also my way my Body went out to the Mountains, following them as I drove. Embracing them as teachers, as guides on this Planet we share. I gradually became calm, understanding that my life and the life of the Mountains are not separate, but joined. Now and forever.

    There is a Great Wheel not wedded to the Seasons of temperate latitudes, but one wedded to the creation, life, and inevitable doom of this Rocky, Watery place we call home. I am part of that Great Wheel’s turning. As are each of you who read this.

    Before what I have long called the Consolation of Deer Creek Canyon, I experienced the Consolation of the Great Anoka Sand Plain, the shore of the Glacial River Warren. There in Andover I planted, Kate weeded. Flowers and vegetables grew. Dogs ran here and there in the Woods. Bees flew in and out of the Gardens, the Orchard.

    Each fall I would find Folk Alley radio on the internet, turn it up so I could hear on our small brick patio outside the lower level. There I would replenish the soil with compost and other nutrients. Digging out onto a tarp, then shoveling it back in. When that was finished I would open the boxes of Bulbs, Corms, and Tubers and Rhizomes. They would go in the Soil, with a bit of fertilizer, at the right depth, then get tucked in with a hard pat. Next Spring there would be Lilies, Tulips, Iris brightly signaling a new growing season.

    I loved that work on those fall afternoons. I’d often hear the Andover Marching Band practicing. The Garden of course had its rhythms. It was finishing as I planted the perennial Flowers.

    The Garden fed us all year. Fresh veggies, canned veggies. Fruits, too. Raspberries, Honey Crisp Apples. Plums. Cherries. The Bees gave us Honey.

    The Garden was part of me and I, after the eating the produce and the Honey, was part of it. I call this the true transubstantiation.

    In all Seasons I would hike to my Tree in the Boot Lake Scientific and Natural Area. I would sit with my back against it, looking at all of its Children who grew in an irregular circle around it. I sprinkled Tully’s ashes there. She was a sweetheart and I wanted to honor her.

    I’ve gone on too long. The point is, I long ago found my place in the Natural World, its bounty, its death, its ongoingness. And as the Mountains along Deer Creek Canyon reminded me, that was and is enough.

  • Happy New Year!

    Samain and the Moon of the Thinned Veil

    Sunday gratefuls: Kate, always Kate. Nearer to my heart as the veil thins between this world and the Otherworld. Rigel and Kep, good dogs. Xiola, that pit bull that showed up yesterday. Hope she got home ok. Low hanging Cloud this morning. Fog on Shadow Mountain. Samain, Summer’s End. New Year’s day for Celtic lands. Long ago. Glasgow. Needs all the power it can get. Then, to use it.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Fog

    Tarot: Eight of Cups, Druid Craft

    Happy New Year! Feliz Samain! The season of light has fallen behind us. As I write at 7:30 am, the sky has only begun to lighten, a blue steel. As I feed the dogs in the afternoon, the sky heads toward late twilight. The temperatures are cooler and Snow is in the forecast. All Crops are dead except those few winter hardy ones like Winter Wheat, Garlic.

    Up here the Aspens are naked. I found a skim of Ice on the Dog’s outdoor Water yesterday. This morning the shed and the roof of the house have a coating of Frost. I’ve begun layering with flannel shirts, fleece, and lined outer shirts. The boiler works harder now.

    The Celts began their year today. The Samain festival marks the end of the growing season and the harvest season. Samain is the last harvest festival, preceded by Mabon in September and Lughnasa in August.

    Through its influence millions of children will go door to door tonight dressed as Bob Ross (Gabe), candy bars, ghosts, celebrities, goblins, animals, witches. Whatever seems fun. Most will not know that the costumes mimic the Celtic belief that the veil between this world and the Otherworld thins on this day. That means the dead, those of Faery, other creatures like goblins can cross into this world more easily. In the ancient Celtic mind anything strange might happen or show up.

    And, yes, it also means that the living can cross over into the Otherworld if they can find a portal, a place where the veil thins even more. Holy wells, caves, dolmens, sacred groves. A place made sacred by repeated worship. The living, though, have to be careful if they cross over because the return from Faery, or the Otherworld, may not be as easy. For sure eat no Faery cake nor drink no Faery wine.

    Today is my first Samain without Kate; I feel her absence and her presence more keenly today. A family altar anchored by her ashes helps me place her both here and there. Wherever there might be.

    The fog, the frost, the chill in the air underscore this day as one of a thinned veil. A day after which the strength of the growing season must see us through until Imbolc when the ewes freshen and milk becomes available. Even then we must wait until Ostara, the first day of Spring, to see the world once again as a place that can support the living.

    To start the year here suggests an emphasis on the inner world, on life lived with family, often huddled around peat fires for warmth. Eating, being sustained, by the crops of the time of light.

    A book dear to me, The Fairy Faith, written by W. Y. Evans-Wentz, recounts his several visits to the smoky huts all round Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany. In those villagers’ homes he heard the stories that kept the family enthralled over the long nights following the New Year. Stories of elves, fairies, goblins and more. Evans-Wentz went on to become famous as the translator of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

    We have stripped the world of its magic with Enlightenment reason and scientific method. Many, most, are as I used to be: either/or folks. Either the scientific, logical worldview or nothing. I prefer, Yes science and logic. Yes magic and mystery.

    Sure this is meteorological Fall. Yes. It’s also Samain and Mabon ends today. It’s true we don’t know what happens after death, but it’s also true we really DON’T know what happens after death. The second law of thermodynamics explains dissolution, decay, the inevitable crumbling of organic structures. As far as it goes. Yet it cannot imagine a world untouched by its rule. But, I can.

    Having the New Year today suggests that there is a way of understanding that comes in the dark, in the midst of decay, in the inner reaches of our psyche. A way best accessed when the light recedes and time for reflection grows. A way that precedes the way of light both in time and in spiritual significance.

    early spring, 2011

    Remember Steiner’s Springtime of the Soul at the feast of Michael the Archangel? September 29th. I believe Steiner recognized the same wisdom as the ancient Celts. To become more of who we are we need to go inside, into the dark, into the fecund place where the imagination lives.

    During the season of light we work and live in the outer world, coming to the dark and the inner life mainly at night. During the season of dark, the fallow time, we can more easily spend time in meditation, dreaming, listening to tales told before a crackling fire. Perhaps writing and painting and cooking to express for others our inner work.

    Join me this Samain as we honor the dead, honor the pool of memories that bind us all as one, honor the subconscious mind, honor the mysterious and the immeasurable. Honor faeries, goblins, elves, Tarot cards, the Tree of Life, and astrology. Kabbalah. Everything that seeks to penetrate or contextualize the interesting, but limited world of science and logic.

  • My Cauldron

    Fall and the waning crescent of the Michaelmas Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Greg Lell, starts today staining the house. Susan, who will care for the dogs when I go to Minnesota, comes at 10:30. Marina Harris and her crew coming today to clean. RJ working on how much money I can spend. Coyote HVAC next Monday. Kate, always Kate. Those two Mule Deer Bucks. The beginning after the ending.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The World, #21 of the Major Arcana

    Tarot: The World


    Bubbling and churning. My life a cauldron, happily. Eye of house stain. Leg of house cleaning. Fingernail of dogsitter. Horn of Mule Deer Buck. Feather of mini-splits. Bits of redo and redesign of kitchen. A dash of Orgovyx. One major arcana. A pinch of the ayn sof. A sprinkle of Stars. A slice of Woolly Mammoth Tusk. Two measures of Aloha. Tears of grief. Stir with family and Congregation Beth Evergreen. Simmer for a season or two.

    Not sure of much these days. Which suits me just fine. My path has companions worthy of Chaucer. A location worthy of poetry. A destination unknown.

    My ancientrail, my life, has begun to reknit itself, reconstruct. The base of this reknitting? The love and life I had with Kate. Her smile, her laugh, her sharp insights, her deep knowledge and compassion. Her kindness. Not gone, here, right here in my soul. Her hand in mine until the end of time.

    She found this house. She earned most of the money I receive monthly. She encouraged me to leave the ministry and take up writing. We were brave together. Adventurous. We loved each other and left imprints on each other’s souls.

    Now I have to walk this ancientrail without her physical presence. I wish it were not so, but it is. As I put a few touches on the house, learn methods to access the occult, manage my cancer, exercise, spend time with friends, read, write, paint, I’m living forward, not looking backward.

    Changing the house a bit will help me say, yes, this is my place, too. It will never be other than our place, but no ghosts allowed. Only good memories.

    The whole Tarot, Kabbalah, Astrology, Judaism journey has me on a strange side road from that of the skeptic. Where it leads is to mystery, of that I’m sure. How it will affect my life? Unclear. Maybe a lot. Maybe only some. Tincture of time. (a favorite phrase of Kate’s)

    When I came up for closing on this house, October 31, 2014, three Mule Deer Bucks greeted me in the back. We stood with each other for a long time, not moving, seeing each other. After they left, I knew the Mountain Spirits had welcomed Kate and me to their realm. Samain.

    Yesterday, two more came.


    They came on a day when Black Mountain was aflame.

    I got up this morning and let Kep out and he chased one of the bucks who had stayed the night. The buck cleared the five foot fence as if it wasn’t there. Kep was pretty damned proud of himself. He never barked.

    Back to that pot. Double, toil and trouble, cauldron burn, cauldron bubble.


  • Michaelmas

    Fall and the Michaelmas Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Coyote HVAC. Starting next Thursday. Greg Lell, starting tomorrow on house staining. Mussar. Tarot. Kabbalah. Astrology. Elisa Robyn. Rabbi Jamie. Alan. David Jordani. Tom Crane and his colleague who recommended the mini-splits. Shirley Waste. Frozen dinners. Cool nights. Rain and snow on the way. Ruth and her first homecoming. Max. Claire and Patrick, his mom and dad. Paul and Sarah, grandpop and grandma. Kate, aunt.

    Sparks of joy and awe: Writing. Michaelmas. Tom and Roxann, anniversary.

    Tarot:  Rebirth, #20 of the major arcana, Druid


    And so this day comes round at last. Michaelmas. The feast day of the Archangel Michael, defender of heaven, God’s most fierce warrior. Tom and Roxann celebrate their wedding anniversary on this day, usually on the North Shore, sometimes with a cooked goose. Jen, mother of Ruth and Gabe, celebrates her birthday. And Rudolf Steiner thought of this day as the springtime of the soul.

    I feel, different. Better. Almost like having awakened. Not woke in the social justice sense, but in the, oh this is what my soul needs to do next sense. Seems like the Tarot and my chart reading with Elisa on Monday and my own feeling that Michaelmas could be the date for a life transition have synched up, said YES.

    Delacroix Eugene: St Michael Defeats the Devil

    I’ve got a few things underway: house staining starting tomorrow and the mini-splits install beginning next Thursday. My Tree of Life Spread class starts on Saturday. I meet with Kristie on Friday. PSA at 1.0. Not quite low enough. Perhaps a kidney issue in the bloodwork panel. We’ll see. Started a new painting. Changed my days, I hope permanently. Looking forward to the Woolly Retreat at the end of this month.

    The loft’s organization makes sense now. Not cluttered. Some more work to do. Still pruning downstairs. Wanting to get further along before snow. Not quite sure how to manage that. But, I’ll figure it out. Back at my workouts and feeling better physically.

    Devil and
    Tom Walker

    Here’s something I got from Elisa on Monday. “I’m a reconstructionist. Just not a Jewish reconstructionist. I’m an MOT (member of the tribe) of Congregation Beth Evergreen and Jamie is my Rabbi.” “Oh,” Elisa’s face lit up in a big smile, “That’s such an Aquarian thing to do. To be in but not of something. And you may decide later that that’s over for you.” “Yes. When I met Kate, I had known for a year or more that I had to leave the ministry. It was over.”

    Since September 23rd, I have drawn the Lady, #3 of the Major Arcana, three times, The Moon, #18, and, today, on Michaelmas, Rebirth, #20. In the last 8 days I’ve drawn 5 Major Arcana. The Lady and the Moon both point toward the anima and the inner world, living into the feminine creative energy, my Yin chi. The rebirth card. Well, that’s another matter and it came on Michaelmas. I consider that more than significant. It’s a clear message.

    According to the Druid Craft Book, the message is: “You hear the call and awaken to the new light of day. You have entered the darkness and drunk of the cup of silence. You have chosen life and emerge reborn.”

    Meaning: “The Power of the Call. You may have heard the call of the spiritual path you are seeking. Rebirth into a life that is more fully your own. You may have come to a crossroads in your life, and a decision is required that will take you in a new direction.”

    Life has given me no choice. Change or retreat. Grief forces the soul to reconsider its location, its direction, its purpose. Yes, even its calling. I count my grief as having begun on September 28th, 2018, three years ago yesterday. That was the day of Kate’s bleed. The acceleration of her decline.

    From that day forward my life had as its everyday anchor Kate’s medical and emotional and spiritual needs. Not that I could fulfill them all, no, but her gradual physical diminishment meant no day could pass without considering them.

    I took her hand that day, September 28th, and never let go until April 12th of this year. The letting go was so painful, so shocking. Disorienting. Even disfiguring my soul. Nothing abnormal. Mourning. Then, grief and its labyrinth.

    It was as Dante said.


            IN the midway of this our mortal life,
    I found me in a gloomy wood, astray
    Gone from the path direct: and e’en to tell
    It were no easy task, how savage wild
    That forest, how robust and rough its growth,
    Which to remember only, my dismay
    Renews, in bitterness not far from death.


    Those caregiving years were not hell. Kate, my love and my soulmate, was still alive; but, they did hold suffering and torture for both of us. When she took that long, last ride, I climbed the mammoth frozen body of the Devil into purgatory. I’m still there, but I can see the sky above me.

    Today I identify with the curly haired boy standing at the exit of an elaborate dolmen. A priest, a Druid perhaps, sounds a trumpet of relief. The journey through the Inferno is complete. Purgatory lies almost behind.

    I can feel the hesitancy in him. The darkness, the strangeness of purgatory still more familiar. The long, long path from that dark Wood more known than what lies ahead.

    Symbols of eternal life, of rebirth, like the Holly and the Mistletoe and the Hare and the triskelion crowd the picture below him.

    Will he step out of the door? Embrace the Hare. I know he wants to. The energy and promise, the possibility of life renewed, remade, reimagined, reconstructed only just ahead.

    He feels, as I do, an expansion in my chest, a lifting of the head, eyes no longer cast down, or around in a worried scan. That feeling, that alone, can propel him out into the sun.

    Let it be so. For him. And, for me.

    St. Michael and the Devil, 16th century Book of Hours



  • Shadow Mountain Hermitage

    Lughnasa and the Michaelmas Moon

    Kate after election day, 2016

    Tuesday gratefuls: Bailey. Bailey Patchworkers. Sewing, quilting. Kate, feisty and adorable. From so many cards I got yesterday. Drawing the Death Card. Gratitude. Gabe. Ruth. Jon. Kep and Rigel. Rain yesterday. Kitchen remodeling. Greg Lell, house stainer. Moving forward, into the fourth phase.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Tarot and Kabbalah

    Tarot: Eight of Pentacles


    285 west to Bailey. A favorite journey, usually made to the Happy Camper. The Continental Divide shows up after Pine. The tone becomes more Western. This time though to Platte River Community Church. Upstairs to the social hall where older women sat around round tables, eating off paper plates with plastic forks. Piles of cloth sat on other tables, parts of Kate’s stash now on its way to other sewing rooms, her taste distributed.

    I said very little. Kate met you when we moved up here. She loved you and felt loved by you. You encouraged her and were her friends. Thank you.

    Oh. And, I took off my shirt. This is not a strip tease. Lots of hands went up, encouraging me to keep going. Flattering at 74. I had on the Love is Enough t-shirt and showed it off because it featured a counted cross-stitch familiar to them.

    As I drove away the North Fork of the South Platte River roared over Rocks on its way to Denver’s Water system. I passed the somewhat dilapidated office of the Bailey Flume, a six trailer trailer park, and a home next to the River with a Horse paddock. Bailey is in Park County, no longer the Denver metro and much poorer than Jefferson County where I live.

    Been pondering the cards. Again. Still. Drew the eight of pentacles*. Again. Key words from the Druid Tarot Book: Steady progress. Apprenticeship. Training. Makes sense to me after the High Priestess and Death.

    I’m in my fourth phase of life, a new path, a new ancientrail has appeared before me. The High Priestess has blessed me and Death holds the gate open. What do I need to do? Work methodically, steadily. Stay on the trail.

    What is this trail? Some of it is much clearer now. I need to dive into the tarot, astrology, and kabbalah. Learn about them, keep my head down until I can do readings, cast charts, count the Omer. Bring all of this into conversation with the Great Wheel and Taoist strains of my own thought and practice.

    Will I do readings, cast charts? No idea. But that’s the level of learning I want and it will require my attention. I will count the Omer

    This trail adds research and study to my already existing writing and painting. Up here in the Shadow Mountain hermitage we have plenty to do. Time now to get at it. The destination is unknown, yes, but it’s end is certain.


    “In a general context, the Eight of Pentacles Tarot card indicates a time of hard work, commitment, diligence and dedication. The effort you put in will not be in vain as your hard work will pay off and lead to results, rewards or the accomplishment of your goals. When this Minor Arcana card appears in your Tarot reading, it indicates that you are methodically working towards something you want. It may seem boring, mundane or even relentless at the moment but you are on the brink of achieving great success, so don’t give up. The skills you are learning at the moment will stand to you later in life and you will come away from this experience not only with the inner wisdom you’ve gained but with a sense of pride and self-confidence from achieving your ambitions.” tarotguide

  • Let go (Note: correction below)

    Lughnasa and the Michaelmas Moon

    picture by Mary

    Monday gratefuls: Tara. The Ancient Ones, holding space for my eventful life. Peregrenatio. Rigel, lying down with me last night. A long night asleep. Orgovyx. Exhaustion. Hot flashes. Cousin Riley, his wife. Diane and Mary in Indiana. Bailey Patchworkers. Kitchen remodelers. House stainer. Jon, Ruth, and Gabe.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Death

    Tarot: Death, #13 of the Major Arcana


    So many help me. Jon, Ruth, Gabe came up Saturday. We had chicken pot pie and I sent them home with two. They also went to Upper Maxwell Falls to scatter some more of Kate’s ashes. I didn’t feel quite up to going and I wondered if it might be better anyhow. Allow them their own time, their own way of saying goodbye.

    And, it was so. Here are Gabes’s (correction) words about it:


    “Grandma’s metaphorical ashes. The ashes that stuck to the bottom were the parts of grandma that will stay with us forever. The cloudy ashes that eventually dispersed to go to the Atlantic Ocean were the parts of grandma that were temporary and that we don’t need to remember like pain and suffering. And, the glass was the vessel like our bodies, useful but not permanent.”

    Leaving for Durango, Bill not pictured. Tom, Paul, me, Mario

    The next morning I take a walk with my Ancient friends: Paul, Mario, Bill, and Tom. We spoke to each other in our minds, through the spirit air waves as Mario suggested. We gathered afterward. They’ve allowed me a lot of time to process my ongoing, eventful life. And, I love them for it.

    Afterward I went over to an organic breakfast spot, Taspen’s. Been here almost seven years and it was the first time. Meeting Tara, my friend from CBE.

    Marilyn, Tara, the Burning Bush

    We talked. Tara is a great listener and an empath. When I told her I felt I’d expressed self pity when Jon and the grandkids left on Saturday, she said it sounded like love. Ruth had said, See you, grandpop. And, I said, my voice catching, I hope so. Sounded needy and self-pitying to me at the time.

    After talking with Tara, I thought. No. I was vulnerable, sadly hopeful. And I don’t experience vulnerability with them too often. Maybe that’s changing now.

    Today I’m going to the meeting of the Bailey Patchworkers. Kate’s stash and other sewing accessories will be given away to her friends there. I asked for a couple of minutes to speak. I’ll tell them that Kate loved them. That they gave her friendship and motivation for sewing. And, right after we got here. She went faithfully as long as she could.

    They were a very different crowd from her ordinary social circles. She spoke her political truth often, to folks who didn’t agree. As Lauri, her engineer friend said, “I should have disliked her, but I adored her.” That was Kate.

    These are those who helped me just in the last three days. A lucky guy, I am. And, of course, Rigel and Kepler.


    Tarot: Death, # 13 in the Major Arcana

    I’ve been drawing cards in what some call a daily oracle. Pick out one card, see how it speaks to the day. Oracle is a poor choice of words in that it has a predictive connotation. I don’t find the tarot useful as prophecy. I’ve found it astonishingly useful as a mirror to my inner world. It shows me things I ignore, or overlook, or diminish, or things I didn’t know were there.

    Let’s see. I’d call it, I guess, The Daily Mirror. Ha.

    Anyhow my point here is that I’m doing my own thing with these daily cards and I’m not only reading the day, but the trends. I’ve had so many cards that spoke to my anima. I’ve remarked on this before. I’ve also had cards like the Hanged Man that speak to a transformation in values, in beliefs, in life way.

    The Death card is the apotheosis of that trend. Yes, indeed, it refers to death. But, to death as transition, as transformation, as a severance with the ways of the past (including life, eventually. for Kate, already), an entry way to the new. If you recall the High Priestess from yesterday, she blocked the way on the path. She encouraged waiting, going down into the depths. I’d call it wu wei.

    The death card opens the way, suggests I embrace the changes that the anima cards have hinted at, the inner knowledge that the High Priestess wanted me to attain before going on. It also suggests letting go.

    Let go, Charlie, of the flat-earth humanism of your post-ministry years. Let go, Charlie, of the old life you had with Kate. (note: this does not mean an end to grief or a diminished view of life with her.). Open yourself to the tarot, to astrology, to kabbalah, to the other world. Open yourself again to the creative life of writing and painting. Live into it. Live with it. Live. Let go of the caregiver, let go of the inner skeptic, the inner editor, the inner cynic. Embrace the mystical, the soulful, the beautiful. Let go.

    Die to the old ways and be born again into a fourth phase of life. One focused on creativity and the other world. Let go.



    “Meaning: Initiation and transformation.  The core structure of initiation involves an experience of death followed by an experience of rebirth…We often have to die to our old ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving before we can open to our new life.” DTB

    * “After a period of pause and reflection with the Hanged Man, the Death card symbolises the end of a major phase or aspect of your life that you realise is no longer serving you, opening up the possibility of something far more valuable and essential. You must close one door to open another. You need to put the past behind you and part ways, ready to embrace new opportunities and possibilities. It may be difficult to let go of the past, but you will soon see its importance and the promise of renewal and transformation.

    Similarly, Death shows a time of significant transformation, change and transition. You need to transform yourself and clear away the old to bring in the new. Any change should be welcomed as a positive, cleansing, transformational force in your life. The death and clearing away of limiting factors can open the door to a broader, more satisfying experience of life.” biddy tarot


  • I am

    Lughnasa and the Chesed Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Helen Reddy. I am Woman. The Women’s movement. Cancer. Its sequelae: pet scans, orgovyx, friends reaching out, fatigue, persistence. Shortness of breath. Family. T-shirts. Living in the moment. The Day. A Day. This Day.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The voice of the 1960’s

    Tarot:  Prince of Pentacles


    Watched I am Woman. A biopic about Helen Reddy. Got drawn in by a snippet of the movie in which Tilda Cobham-Hervey sings Delta Dawn. Didn’t know that was Helen Reddy. I’ve been listening to it in my head for weeks now, since I thought about a parody featuring the Delta variant.

    Not a great movie, but a good one. My anima is strong, perhaps even dominant. Movies which feature women overcoming obstacles and flourishing speak directly to me.

    Many tears. Why? Well, sixties music almost always moves me, reminds me of the passion, the wonder, the promise of those magical years. Speaking truth to power. Yes. Especially when the vulnerable do the speaking.

    Remembering Kate. Her determination to go to med school. The Dean who tried to turn her away because “You’re already married to a doctor.” Her determination to conquer the obstacles in her life: back pain, sexist managers, a lost voice, her final illness. A strong, smart woman. Ill-used by many of the men in her life. But always, always getting back up and going on.

    Cleansing, the lacrimae. Sacred waters. Draining pain and sadness and nostalgia. Bringing me into the present after a trip through the past.

    Got a lot done over the weekend. Money stuff. Pruning. Cleaning. Writing.

    What is a good use of time? A key question for those raised in the success obsessed American culture. I still clip articles about improving my productivity. Why? That ancientrail, my highest potential, trapped me in a long and narrow tunnel, one I’ve struggled against, embraced, knelt down and crawled through on my hands and knees.

    All those novels. Unpublished. Kate wanted me to publish before she died. All that injustice. Still there, seeming deeper and more entrenched now, after all the work. That damning number, carbon in the atmosphere. Still rising.

    And then we die. Leaving behind an unjust world, a world heating up behind human endurance, creative works birthed but never raised into adulthood.

    Tarot cards speaking to my anima, encouraging her, telling her to dive in, create, dance, sing-the High Priestess, the Lady, even the eight of Pentacles. Today, again, the Prince of Pentacles. That’s the patient, methodical, practical approach guy. Speaking to my animus.

    Animus and anima working together, literally yin and yang, vibrating, humming, feeding each other, feeding off of each other. My neshama emerging, cheering them both.

    I am Woman. I am Man. I am. Both.

  • That Bear!

    Lughnasa and the Lughnasa Moon

    Friday gratefuls: That bear. Fantastic Fungi. The workout. The fall. Mussar. Chili cheese dogs. A Friday with no appointments. Domestic chores. New neighbors coming. Three in a row. The Tarot. Kabbalah. Shan-shui poetry.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Liberation

    Tarot:  Cernunnos, #15 Druid Craft Deck


    Six and a half years later. Three or four years after Kate. I saw a Bear! A big one. On the same road as I was. And, I was on foot.

    Yesterday I did another of my outside cardio workouts. I chose to go around the “block” across Black Mountain Drive from me. A pretty long block as it turned out, about 30 minutes worth. Supposed to be 10, but I had a bad image in my head of the length of the roads.

    Krashin went down hill. I’ve recently discovered all the side roads from my stretch of Black Mountain Drive go downhill. Hmm. Must live on the top of Shadow Mountain, eh?

    Downhill in Krashin’s instance is toward a deep valley that runs between Shadow Mountain and Black Mountain. The forested valley has no roads, no homes, past the end of a short lane off Krashin. Wild. One or two homes on Black Mountain, perhaps a few more, then over the top of its 10,000 foot peak is the large Staunton State Park. Plenty of critters.

    As I shook my head at how little I knew of my own neighborhood, I looked up. The road curved further away from a route back to Black Mountain Drive. A big black Bear ambled across it. Way big. Healthy with lustrous black fur, not in a hurry. Off on a morning errand hunting for food. Then it was gone.

    A car came by from the Bear’s direction, slowed to a stop. “Yep. I saw him.” “Good. Just wanted to be sure.” No fooling around when it comes to either Bears or Mountain Lions. Either one can create havoc with the human body.

    Being on foot made me vulnerable. I had no bear mace, no bells to ring. I was in shorts and a t-shirt, tennis shoes. Not fighting shape.

    So I went on anyhow. Curiosity. That thread I mentioned a few posts back? Often helps me make decisions that are not in my immediate best interest. Where was the Bear? I wanted one more glimpse. Perhaps he hadn’t gone far into the woods. There are homes on both sides of the road, but their properties have many trees.

    Couldn’t find him. (I say him because of the size.) I did keep looking, realizing I couldn’t outrun a Bear, they’re fast. Frisson.

    During stretching I had started watching Fantastic Fungi, a documentary Tom Crane recommended quite a while ago. What a treat. Made me interested, yet again, in Mushrooms, Lichens. I’ve gone through phases. Ready for another one, I believe. Not only finding edible ones, but becoming more familiar with their roles in forest decomposition, communication. Also, psilocybin. (btw: the documentary is on Netflix.)

    Just looked up the Colorado Mycological Society. Looks like fun. Birding? No. Not me. Hunting for Mushrooms? Learning more about them? Yes.

    Point here with the Bear? The radical interconnectedness that Mycelium, the underground part of a Mushroom,  a fruiting body for the organism, offers. Mycelium, threadlike, growing one cell at a time, dominate the rich soil layer near the surface. They carry nutrients back to the fruiting body, sure, but they can also transport nutrients between and among groves of trees.

    Like Mycelium, the wildlife here are mostly invisible. Once in a while, a sighting. Usually Elk or Mule Deer. The occasional Fox. Marmot, Woodchuck. Squirrels. Chipmunks. Rarely, Bears, Mountain Lions, Lynx, Bobcats. We moved into their habitat and they’ve learned, more or less, to live around us, out of sight, wild. Like the vast underground networks of Mycelium, there are large populations of wild things all around us. At least up here in the Mountains.

    We Humans live such sheltered lives, huddled in our right angled dwellings, getting our food from refrigerators and grocery stores, evading the fall of night with electricity. We, at least most of us, know little about how to sleep outside, find food, evade predators. Yet that is the way of wild things.

    Cernunnos, #15 of the Major Arcana in the Druid Craft deck.

    Cernunnos is the great horned God of the Celtic pantheon. “…the Gaelic god of beasts and wild places. Often called the Horned One, Cernunnos was a mediator (between humans) and nature, able to tame predator and prey so they might lie down together. He remains a mysterious deity, as his original mythos has been lost to history. A God of the Wild.

    Given my brief encounter with the Bear and seeing Fantastic Fungi, this card calls to the deep in me. Joseph used to call me nature boy. My mystical feelings run not toward the ineffable, the distant God, but toward the Mycelium that connect us to the Wild life all around us. Cernunnos is the God of those tiny threads, often invisible to us.

    People stop their cars to see Elk harems, Mule Deer fawns, a Fox warming itself on asphalt. Why? We don’t stop for dogs, cows, chickens.

    That Bear. What a gift I felt seeing him. Why? Rising up from this Elk, that Fox, the Bear is the numinous presence of Cernunnos, the Wild as a dangerous and alien place. We shiver at the sight of creatures who navigate the wild in their daily existence. They are not of our world.*

    Tarot commentators find this card intimidating, warning us against dark impulses, becoming enslaved to our wild passions. Not to me. In our sexuality, in our pairs, in our procreation we become one with the wild, perhaps only during the small death of orgasm, but perhaps also through bonding with another human, one of our own species.

    These are not dark impulses, rather they are the wild portions of our own soul. Yes, they can scare us, make us do things we regret. Sure. But they can also show us the animal within us, the one who recognizes Cernunnos as its embodiment.

    I celebrate the Wild. Cernunnos. Love making. That Bear.



    *We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth. Henry Beston