• Category Archives Tarot
  • Living. While dying. All of us

    The Mountain Summer Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Durango’s Animas River chocolates. Mary down under. Mark in Phnom Penh. Seoah and my son in Songtan. Diane in the Mission. Me on Shadow Mountain. Here comes the Sun. Great Sol feeding us all. Vanquishing the night. Warming us. The Beatles. Led Zepplin. The Doors. Buffalo Springfield. Bob Dylan. The Who. Jefferson Airplane.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Wide World

    One brief shining: Slipping into a favorite chair, a book nearby with its flap marking forward progress, turning on the reading light, finding a pair of glasses, I open the book to the spot behind Jupiter where the Bunker World has taken up residence, and travel the last few centuries with the strange world of the Three Body Problem.


    Full transparency. Cancer worries. Not following Kate’s advice. Been reading research again. Metastases. Castration resistant prostate cancer. Lethal. Readying myself for those words: there is no more we can do. Opening my heart to the final days. How will I react? With grace and good humor is my intention. Then. Full stop! No. Today is the life of July 8th, 2024 and the only life I have. Live it.

    O.K. But first. I’ll run a time limited check on that research. Just in the last year. Ah. Many more options available now. Extending life. Better outcomes. Yes.

    Mind. I don’t have castration resistant prostate cancer yet. I’m just trying to wreck my day to day composure with imagining that it’s coming. Even so I did calm myself by learning that there are other treatments beyond androgen deprivation therapy.

    It’s a delicate balance between living the life of this day, this brand new wakin’ up mornin’ life granted to me, and staying in touch with the cancer, staying alert to what my treatment demands. Denial and suppression are not workable strategies for me. Yet, neither are depression and despair.

    So I go weeks without paying much attention to this fell beast living in my body, then a few days of reading research, prepping myself for what may never happen. Though cancer is an obvious candidate it may well be something else that carries me off to the surprise after life.

    And on that cheery note, I’ll just ask: How was the play?


    Just a moment: The flipside. Herme’s Pilgrimage. Herme took a Wildwood World Tree reading yesterday and found, again, that the cards show a positive, strong context for his journey.

    The tarot itself is part of the pilgrimage. A way to move past stuckness, to gain energy, to foresee challenges and strengths. So as Herme works into his soul for the meaning behind, within, and adjacent to Trees, he feels buoyed up, supported.

    Here’s a poem Bill Schmidt found. It resonates.


    When I am Among the Trees by Mary Oliver


    When I am among the trees,

    especially the willows and the honey locust,

    equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,

    they give off such hints of gladness.

    I would almost say that they save me, and daily.


    I am so distant from the hope of myself,

    in which I have goodness, and discernment,

    and never hurry through the world

    but walk slowly, and bow often.


    Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.”

    The light flows from their branches.


    And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say, “and you too have come

    into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”

  • Transitioned

    Summer and the Mountain Summer Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: Lengthening nights. Warm days. Spanish food for the Fourth. Judy Sherman. Kate. All those who suffer, yet are strong. Resilience. Workout yesterday. Joanne. Responsibility. Seeing, being responsive. Kavod. Honor. Teshuvah. Botany. Cambium. Phloem and xylem. Heartwood. Photosynthesis. Carbon Dioxide in. Oxygen out. Creating food for us all.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Energy into matter

    One brief shining: Got a thick cardboard box, heavy, filled first with crenelated paper, opened the larger box inside and removed the slices of acorn fed Iberian Jamon ham, of chorizo, of other ham slices, churros and xocalate, then the smaller box which contained Olives, grilled Peppers, nuts greeting my Fourth of July feast.


    Every once in a bit. I’ll see some food offering. In a grocery store, especially one like Tony’s. Or, online, maybe Wild Alaska or at the Spanish food site, La Tienda. The Store. My imagination gets caught by the marketer’s guile and visions of a scrumptious meal dance before my inner eye. Not real often. But on occasion.

    Less often, my eye’s dance, my inner tongue tastes the delicacies on offer and I reach for my money. The anticipation never matches the reality. Oh, if it only could. Sure the Jamon ham is tasty, but not in a lift off, send me to the moon way. The Olives are good as are the Peppers. Good, not amazing. I know. You’d think at 77 I would have learned. And mostly I have. But on occasion…


    Still no word from Rocky Mountain Cancer Care. Not sure why getting in to see these radiation oncologists is taking so long. Kristie put me on the Orgovyx to tamp down the cancer while I wait to get in, but it’s been almost three weeks and I don’t even have an appointment. I’ve jiggled Kristie and Rocky Mountain. Nada. I’m a bit frustrated. Ready to have these metastases radiated.

    I’m assertive about my care. In general and especially so with cancer, yet moving medical bureaucracies is no easier than moving corporate or governmental bureaucracies. Sometimes you have to wait.


    Back to the tarot deck. Pulling cards each day. Tarot tickles my inner compass, puts a probe down below my consciousness. Yesterday from the Wildwood Deck I turned over a five of vessels for the second time in three days. Ecstasy. Happiness. Realization of a dream. And from the Woodland Guardian deck, the Bee and the Pomegranate. Productivity. Hard work.

    Herme’s Pilgrimage has legs. Learning botany basics in a Coursera class from Tel Aviv University. Finished the Tree communication class from the New York Botanical Garden. Am reading my way through a book on Tree myths and one on old growth forests. Did a Google arts and culture search on Trees and got thousands of hits. This pilgrimage has a wandering path with Trees as a lodestar. For now. Plants, too.

    I have transitioned from the days of learning for my conversion and bar mitzvah to a new field of knowledge.





  • Herme’s Pilgrimage

    Summer and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: Ginny and Janice. Irene. The Dreamers. Yud Heh Vav Heh. Chai. Aleph. The Shield (Star) of David. Tarot. Woodland Oracle Deck. Orange one. Older one. Our country. Right and wrong. Love it, don’t leave it. The 1960’s. The Peaceable Kingdom. Judy. The Goat. The Aurora in the Lake. Steppenwolf. Cooking and heating with wood.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Dreams

    One brief shining: The thickly polyurethaned round table had a jigsaw cutout of a house and a Mountain, outside Bear Creek ran full and strong; as I drove to the Blackbird for breakfast with Ginny and Janice, I’d noticed the sign, In Case of Flash Flood Climb to Safety; as a result, I looked again at Bear Creek, saw its strength contained for the time within its banks and was glad.


    This new, integrative journey, Herme’s Pilgrimage I think I’ll call it now, has me reaching back into closets stored with varied kinds of knowledge. The story of Zeus, Hermes, and Lycaon. Of Baucis and Philemon. The South Node on my astrological chart. The Wildwood Tarot. The Tree of Life. Kavanah. Teshuvah and Tikkun. Resurrection. Reincarnation. The Tea Ceremony and the way of Chado. The Great Wheel.

    As I wander on this pilgrimage, knowing how to read a Tarot spread will come up alongside quantum mechanics. Sun sign next to the sephirot on the Tree of Life. A roku Tea cup and a tallit. How these will resonate, reverberate. What fun, eh?

    Today the Tarot and Oracle cards have my attention as does the parsha Shelach, Numbers 13:1-15:41.

    Beaver and Birch, Woodland Oracle Deck

    The Woodland Oracle suggests drawing a card a day to become familiar with the deck. Seemed like a good plan. So I did. The Beaver and the Birch.

    Upright the Beaver and Birch suggests a focus on home, doing the decorating, maintenance that create a home. This felt propitious because Herme’s Pilgrimage focuses on activity I can do at home. Also, the Beaver works hard, creating not only a home and a dam with their hard work, but a Pond as well.

    The pond can represent the work of Herme’s Pilgrimage. A layer that reflects the Sky, the rational world of appearance, and a depth below where matters of myth and legend, religious practice, and poetry lie.

    The dam suggests the barrier, the boundary I need to construct so I can focus on letting the Pond fill up and surround my home. I will leave my home by swimming through the Pond and return the same way.

    The Woodland Wardens represented in the 52 cards of the deck combine Animals and Plants. Jessica Roux, the creator of the deck, says she was inspired by the Victorian language of Plants as well as the Creatures themselves.

    Whatever focuses my attention, sends it down unimagined paths, has value to me. Tarot and oracle decks have that capacity for me. Music, too.

    Wanting to go as far down the Rabbit hole, into the Pond, and through the Looking Glass as I can.



  • Herme’s Journey

    Summer and the waning Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Monday gratefuls: The Ancient Brothers. Great Sol. Shadow Mountain. TV. Books. CD’s. Jazz. Mozart. Telemann. Bach. Coltrane. Monk. Parker. Gregorian Chants. Rock and roll. CD player. K-dramas. Netflix. Amazon Prime. Mhz. Starlink. Conversation. Listening. Seeing. Really listening. Really seeing. The Aspen out my bedroom window. The dead Lodgepole.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The lesser light-the Moon

    One brief shining: When I go now to an airport, when I even imagine going to an airport, I recoil, seeing the old Native American punishment, running between rows of TSA employees, airline boarding agents, and crabby fellow sufferers all diminished by the experience, yet needing to pass along, like some fraternity hazing ritual, the same misery to the pledges not yet seated in their too narrow and too jammed together seats. And paying often thousands of dollars to do it.


    Still enjoying a post bar mitzvah push sense of opening, of new possibilities. Herme’s Journey, which I imagined after the dream workshop last month, got sidelined a bit by the week of the ritual, guests, celebration, and the week of physical recovery that followed that one. Though. Kavod for the Trees (Honoring the Tree) has kept it alive.

    Herme’s Journey followed thoughts and feelings triggered by my Wabash dream. That dream encouraged me to reenter the life vision I had when I started college almost 60 years ago. To embrace that dream of a long period, lifelong in my hopes of those years, as a student, then a scholar. With libraries and writing instruments my primary tools. With ideas and their expression as my life work.

    Herme, you may recall, is the name I gave to the neon sign I had made of the Hooded Man Card* from the Wildwood Tarot Deck. The name I gave to myself in the wake of Kate’s death, of a mourner then a griever, then… I wasn’t sure what.

    Herme’s Journey blends the Hooded Man Card with the first card of the Tarot Deck: The Fool. The major arcana of a tarot deck tells a story of the Fool’s journey, begun blithely, a bindlestaff over one shoulder, a dog alongside, stepping off into the unknown. In the Wildwood deck** the Wanderer’s journey is through the Wildwood. Yes. My journey, too.

    The Wanderer is a beginner, the beginner’s mind at play in the fields of the psyche. Herme’s Journey is my Wanderer’s path, a beginner’s path, but one begun with the age and experience of an old man. So, Herme’s Journey.

    What lies along this path? Still unclear though Trees play a central role. As does the Great Wheel of the Year and the Jewish Lunar Calendar. As the pilgrimage unfolds, I plan to explore Kabbalah, my long period of work with Ovid’s Metamorphosis, poetry and literature, myth and legend, fairy and folk tales, religion, and the arts: music, painting, sculpture, theater, dance, opera.

    What will come? Again, unknown. It will be the path, not the destination. What I will do is read a lot, write, travel, think, listen, see, taste. Talk.


    *The Hooded Man stood at the winter solstice point on December 21, along with the earth and the sun in the night. This is the time to be alone and contemplate life. This card describes the gates of death and rebirth, deep inside the Earth.  Hooded Man

    **A central theme of the Wildwood Tarot is the interconnection of humans with the wild, with animals, and with the calendar cycle.

  • I’m Into Something Good. Oh, yeah…

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Cool night. Elk. Mule Deer. Fox. Great Sol. The Great Wheel. The Great Work. The Jewish Year. Wild Trees. Ancient Forests. Sequoias. Coastal Redwoods. Bristlecone Pines. Kabbalah. Shekinah. The Sabbath Bride. Emergence. Lodgepoles. Aspens. Jewitches. Love. Justice. Compassion. A direction, a purpose. A way to live.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Emergence

    One brief shining: Before the closing of the door and before I even open it, I stand hand over my eyes repeating the shema, declaring that I, god-wrestler, find the one to be all and the all to be one, which we might call god or not, but we can call it for sure the interdependent web of all things, all becoming things, everywhere there is a where, stretching from me in front of my bedroom door to the other reaches of this universe, passing by the Crab Nebula and the Horse Head Nebula on its way to a boundary where there can be no boundary.


    I’m into something good.* Said this this morning during the Ancient Brothers. An exciting burst of serendipity, synchronicity, plain old enthusiasm. Heading toward eudaimonia. Wow. Sounds manic as I write it. Has some of that flavor. The shovel that uncovered this new path? A dream. And the Dreamers’ response to it.

    And… Here we go. I’m going back to Wabash College. At least that place I was when I was there. Serendipity note: the Herman’s Hermits song below was released in 1964, the summer before my last year of high school, and before my mother’s death in October. Another serendipity note: Herman’s Hermits.

    When I went to Wabash, I had competing emotions, both so very strong. The first. Grief. Unresolved, not understood, in no way dealt with. Mom was dead. I left home to go to this school, at the time highly competitive, and bare my small town intellect to so many others so much smarter than me. Grief and uncertainty. Toxic at best.

    The second. Finally! A liberal arts education. A chance to get into the cultural deposit of the West. (It would be many, many years before Asia showed up in my life.) Philosophy. History. English Literature. Languages. A chance to grow beyond my autodidact years, guided by professors and stimulated by fellow students. Hard to convey the excitement, even relief, I felt at starting college.

    Then German happened. I wanted to read Hegel, Nietzsche, Kant in the original. So I signed up. And floundered. Bad. Got c’s and d’s on quizzes and tests. Where this headed was clear. Abject failure. I did not do the brave and movie worthy thing. Face up to it and overcome. No. I dropped German like a hot potato masher hand grenade.

    At the end of the year summer jobs were hard to find and Wabash was expensive. I decided to go further. Leave Wabash altogether. I’m not big on regret, but this is one of them for me.

    The dream. Said. Go back. Be who you intended to be. The one that got lost along the way. So who was I going to be, the 18 year old version of this 77 year old. I wasn’t sure of anything but my desire to dive headlong into the deep waters of the liberal arts. Where would I come out? No idea. Didn’t want to know. I only wanted the journey. No destination.

    I’ve made a journey, but got off the path of liberal arts, shunted aside by politics and religion. By alcohol and women. By travel and jobs. All ok, all good. Yet not where I wanted to be.

    Now. The tarot card, the Hermit, hangs rendered in neon over my breakfast table. Herman’s Hermits remind me of the year before college, feelings accelerating, ground speed increasing. I’m also reminded of my first response to Kate’s death. I’m going to be a hermit. Hence, the neon. Last year I wrote a one-act play introducing Herme, the Hermit, and Cold Mountain’s poetry. And the dream says, go. Teshuvah. Return to the highest and best you.

    A semi-hermit, a sometime recluse, a happy loner. But one with the permission to study, to write. To go back into the liberal arts and see if, as Israel: God-Wrestler, I can add to the world my own learnings.  About the Great Wheel, the Jewish liturgical year, trees and plants, about process metaphysics, about religion, about poetry and literature, about transformation and metamorphosis. These are the lenses through which I have learned to see the world.

    Next. Organizing my days, weeks, months, years around this Fool’s Journey. After that. On to the diving board, spring up and down. Out into thin air.


  • Go now, the play has ended

    Lughnasa and the Korea Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: The Trail to Cold Mountain. Performed to applause. Released. Packing started. Radical light this time. The company of actors. Acting. Alan and Joan at dinner last night. Cold Mountain. His poetry. The improv class’s Armando. Ginnie. Rebecca. Marilyn and Irv. Ruth. Jen. Gabe. Joan’s piece on the dybbuk. Alan’s on aging. Tal, a master teacher at 26. A chilly Mountain Night. Luke and Leo. Vince. The Parking Spot. TSA open at 4 am for precheck security. Korea. Israel. Taipei.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Live a Great Story (decal on a Jeep back window)

    One brief shining: This time there was a crowd when I walked out, confident in my piece, carrying the drinking Gourd and my parchment poems, dropped into Herme and Han Shan’s story, Great Sol gone unseen as Berrigan Mountain rotated west with the rest of us, a light breeze blowing.


    Go now, the play has ended. My first play has found an audience. What a rush. I finished saying, “Take the Trail to Cold Mountain.” And we all had. My performance was over. The work of the summer over. Ups and downs culminating in a work I was proud of and a performance I was proud of. Felt wonderful. Stretched in a healthy way past my comfort zone.

    Only will know later if my goal for the piece spreading the word about the Rivers and Mountains poetry tradition of China found its way into anyone’s heart. If I had written an artist’s statement for The Trail to Cold Mountain it would have been something like this:

    I want to introduce to a Mountain audience the Rivers and Mountains poetry tradition of China through the Tarot archetype of the Hermit. I believe most Mountain folks have a strong component of this archetype that led them here. We like the curvy roads, the cool Mountain mornings, living with Wild Neighbors on Forested Land. No, more. We need to live away from the World, to clear the heat and dust from our minds and be where the Wind sings through the Pines. So, too, in China. In the Andes. In all the great Mountains and Forests of the World. We are one people.

    Poetry and archetype, myth and legend. Religion. This has long been my realm. From one novel to the next, from one job to the next, even the motor behind the justice work. Now it speaks to where and how and with whom I live. In the Mountains, with other Hermits yet also linked in loving ways to a community, caring for them and being cared for by them. Still linked in deep heart connection with Minnesota made friends, with family far away and nearby, living my own life with them all, yet apart from them, too.

    Deepening the love. Burning away the dross.


    Coming home, late. Drove up Brook Forest and Black Mountain Drives. Realized a powerful raison d’être for experiencing the sacred. As I drive along the familiar ranks of Lodgepoles and Aspens, I look now for another glimpse, a brief appearance of the natural world calling to me. (Art Green, Radical Judaism, p. 120) I know that the opportunity, the chance to again see through a portal like the Rainy Night Watcher exists. Thus, I’m more aware of the sacred all along the drive.

    This is, I imagine, the reason others over the course of history have written down their experiences, collected the stories of others, and collected them in what we call sacred writings. Not to freeze those moment and make them rules against which to measure our lives, but as clues, as prompts to the possible moments when the natural world will reach out to us, to help us be ready to see what we’re looking at.


  • Entheos

    Beltane and the Mesa View Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Curiosity. The Ancient Brothers. Mark and Dennis. Coming May 23rd. Yet more Rain. Even more swollen Streams. Ancientrails as a life project. Tom and his time with Charlie H. Bill and his time with Bella. Mark and his time at the gym. Anytime Fitness. My treadmill. Marilyn. Ginnie. Josh. Jane. Kat. A banker. Vulcan Centaur.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Rocket Scientists

    One brief shining: A beautiful woman with a long braid dangling over her t-shirt down to her space themed spandex had, on the back of the blue t-shirt an outline of the Vulcan Centaur rocket, on the front ULA and I asked, I’m too ignorant to know but is that a real rocket ship?


    Yes. She answered. And I was working on it until I quit my job a year and a half ago. What was your area of expertise? Vibration and acoustics. Oh. I see. Not sure why I keep running into engineers. But I do.

    CBE is amazing. All these smart people. This was at the Dismantling Racism class yesterday afternoon. Looked up the Vulcan Centaur and it’s been under development since 2014. Supposed to fly for the first time in July. Had a setback a month ago though with a second stage explosion during preparation for a launch.

    The class has gotten better. Taking a mussar approach to the work. I like it for the inner work though I chose an opponent for my practice this week. Four areas of possible practice each week: with HaShem (God), with Self, with a fellow, especially a victim of anti-black racism, or with an opponent.

    My practice involved an e-mail to a person with whom I’ve had long standing differences. Sent it last night and got a reply this morning. A sweet one. Maybe there’s something to this approach. The middah this week is kavod, or honor. Honoring self and other. The theological idea is the all made in God’s image trope. Said another way, we’re all human, all riding this blue spaceship our only home together with all the other critters and plants. Honor it all.


    During the Ancient Brothers session on curiosity I identified curiosity as my defining characteristic. And naming what I call the valedictory lifestyle. As a valedictorian myself I’ve occasionally become curious (see!) about what happens to others who graduate first in their class academically. Turns out usually nothing spectacular. Sure a lot go into academics. Some have successful careers in business or the sciences.

    But usually no stars. No one off achievements. No amazing inventions. Why? Because we’re generalists. We easily get sidetracked by something new and shiny. If purity of heart is to will one thing, we’re not at all pure.

    I call them enthusiasms. My enthusiasms can last a long time. Religion has turned out to be the longest lasting, but inside that broad category I’ve been all over the place. From existentialist atheist to Christian to Unitarian-Universalist to Pagan and wanderer with the tribe. There’s a piece of each of these, often substantial pieces that remain intact within me. All somehow glued together with Taoism.

    There’ve been many others. Art, my twelve years at the MIA. Politics, lasting almost as long as religion, but again all over the place in terms of action. Islam which I studied after 9/11. Horticulture. Cooking. Heating with wood. Beekeeping. Dogs. World travel. F1. Science. Tarot and Astrology. Cinema. Acting. Writing. Getting degrees. Tea. Korean and now Spanish. Oh, and one that actually has been lifelong, reading. Not sure when I learned but I’ve never ever stopped. Buying books, too. To feed the habit. I’ve dabbled in painting and sum-e.

    Enthusiasms in my life are more than dabbling but less than enough to gain full mastery. But I must admit it’s been, is being, a hell of lot of fun.





  • Creativity. Our birthright

    Fall and the High Holidays Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: Prostate cancer. Erleada. Rain. Aspens, golden Aspens. A wet driveway with gold coins. Water. Holy, holy, holy. Tom. Diane. Alan. Acting. Chekhov. Tal. Nikkia. Sight. Hearing. Taste. Touch. Smell. Coffee. Safeway. Vaccines. Flu. Covid. Jen. Ruth. Gabe. Denver Springs. Kate, always Kate. Jon. His memory.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Fall Melancholy


    Spoke with Tom. A wide ranging conversation as always. Favorite part. We both spoke to our high school reunions about the things that unite us in spite of divisions. Why we can’t all see that friendships cross political divisions, especially old friendships, saddens both of us.


    Class on creativity with Rabbi Jamie. A flash of inspiration. Hochmah. A plan, a container for a work of art. Binah. The act of human creation mimics/is the same as that of sacred creation. In the far away ayn sof, the realm of nothingness, a desire emerges. It travels down the Tree of Life where it realizes itself in the realm of inspirational wisdom, Hochmah. Hochmah passes the desire, now an idea, to the practical wisdom of Binah, the sefirot of builders and wisdom. Here it takes on form, becomes a possibility.

    Kabbalah and the arts. The ever flowing Tree of Life finds energy moving down and back up in a continuous circuit. Charging and recharging. Pushing desire into limits where it can act as a catalyst for action, for realization. Kabbalah and Tarot and Taoism. Teachers, revealers. Seeing the processes behind life and its boundless diversity. Opening us to the world unseen as it moves through our daily experience.

    No dogma. Nothing but metaphor for the unknown, yet knowable ways the universe changes from invisible to visible, from thought to structure, from vastness to particularity. The path of the sacred as it becomes this holy world in which we live and move and have our being. For a brief time. Until our teshuva, our return to the invisible, the unknown, yet knowable. And our teshuva, our return again, emerging as a desire in the ayn sof, the nothingness, the nirvana, the moksha to which we go like insects toward the ohr, the golden light of holiness. Our chi merged with the tao. Then reemerging as another expression of the tao.

    A tarot card presses us to look, to see what cannot be seen until we look, until we see what we are looking at. The power of teshuva rendered clear in the golden Aspen leaves, the bright colors of a Midwest fall, the birth of a child, a memory of a time never experienced in this lifetime.

    We can learn to feel the power of desire as it passes into us and through us and on into malkuth, the realm where the holy and the sacred become manifest. Where the bride the shekinah meets the malchiyot the king in his kingdom.

    The tree of life not only is a three-d map of the dna of the universe. It also bends back upon itself so that keter, the realm of malchiyot, touches malkuth, the realm of the shekinah. Said another way the masculine, the yang, meets the feminine, the yin, and gives birth to this awful, terrible, wonderful, amazing spot we call reality. Chi and tao. Yin and Yang. Hochmah and Binah. Chesed and Gevurah. Netzach and Hod. Back and forth. Power and desire channeled into containers. The penis and the vagina. The semen in the uterus. In and out. The way of all things.

    Creativity is literally our birthright.


  • What is control

    Summer and the Aloha Moon


    Thursday gratefuls: Simcha. Joy! Ichi-go, ichi-e. Marilyn. MVP. Judy and her journey. Rich. Jamie. Susan. Alan. Susan. Ken and Sarah, his daughter. A new Water heater! Expensive! Learnings from Burning Bear Creek Trail. Evergreen. Shadow Mountain. Shadow Mountain-Black Mountain-Brook Forest Drive. The Holy Valley. See what you’re looking at.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: A trip

    Tarot: Seven of Stones, Healing

    “Give our minds a break. Calmness. Meditation. Stillness. Healing. Reevaluation. Patience. Perseverance. State of stability. Attentive care. Take time to relax and unwind. ” tarotx.net


    Been thinking about control. That is, our control over our own suffering, our own joy. What does that mean? Control? Is it equivalent to will? That is, if I can will myself to do something, does that mean I have exerted control? And, if so, to what end?

    The question came up in the Mussar practice group last night. A quote from the Dali Lama said if we create our own suffering isn’t it logical that we can create our own joy.

    Rich Levine questioned whether we create our own suffering. He used the example of slaves. Isn’t their suffering brought on by external circumstances? He then later offered that the enslaved also created an alternate culture of songs, music, religion, dance as a way of combating the external oppression of their masters. I thought about Viktor Frankl and Man’s Search for Meaning, written while Frankl was in a concentration camp.

    Here’s the way I think about cancer. I do what I can (exert my will. Control.) through diet and exercise. I follow the plan my doctors lay out. After those things, the result is out of my control. I can’t will the cancer away. In this instance I find the notion of not having control liberating. I do what I can and the rest will happen as it does. What I’ve done is come to peace with the process.

    So there is a moment when having control matters, when exerting my will is possible, and a moment when I cannot. My suspicion is that most things in life, including joy, contain such a mixture, a more nuanced approach to the matter of will, control.

    Take death as an example. I have a little plaque that reads exercise, eat right, die anyway. A good reminder of the ultimate futility of a sense of control over our life.

    I’m suspicious of the idea of control. The ego muscling the psyche through brute force. I believe it’s more subtle than that. More like finding an alignment between desire and intention. How can I line up what I desire with what I need.

    Controlling either our suffering or our joy exercises the same modality, the ego wrestling one mood out of the way for another, presumably better one.

    Hamlet had the same dilemma:

    “To be, or not to be: that is the question:
    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them?”

    I’m answering Hamlet today with, neither one. Neither passive acceptance of “fate” nor activation of will ensures success when we face the sea of troubles life often presents. What does then? I believe it’s that mix of doing what you can (will) and following the advice of experts that you trust (if any), then leaving the results to come as they will.

    It will not be fate because you have actively engaged; but, neither will it be in your hands because the actual results happen as a mix of your engagement and factors external to you. In spite of my diet and exercise, in spite of my taking my meds and following the surveillance recommended, my cancer may still spread. Or, because of those two factors, it may continue in remission. Either way, I’ve acted as I can. Which is enough. And, it’s enough, I believe, because there’s no other way it can be.

    This is, I think, wu wei. Yes, act. Just don’t expect the results you think you need. That’s where acceptance comes in. Accept the results, then recalibrate if necessary.

  • Burning Bear Creek Trail

    Summer and the Aloha Moon


    Wednesday gratefuls: Alan. Susan Taylor. Burning Bear Creek trail. The blue Columbine. The Dictionary of Art. Burning Bear Creek. Kep. Groomed. North Fork of the South Platte. The Denver, South Platte, and Fairplay Railroad. Highway 285 which covered its rails. Mountains. Bailey. Award Winning Pet Grooming.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Burning Bear Creek

    Tarot: Knight of Vessels, Eel

    “The Eel is a shapeshifter. He is purposeful and agile,  gliding over the water (emotions) with such ease and quickness that he can adapt his physical form to accommodate even sudden changes.

    Knight of Vessels Wildwood urges you to apply the same adaptability as you begin to pursue your own goals. He invites you to find opportunities to express yourself.” tarotx.net (edited)


    Found it. The trailhead to Burning Bear Creek Trail. Surprised myself by walking uphill for some ways without huffing and puffing. Fist pump. Two months ago I drove past the trail head and found other beautiful vistas including the huge beaver dam and pound. Also the hillsides with beaver cut tree stumps.

    The trail begins right at the road and the parking area only has enough space for two or three vehicles. I expected a turnoff and a larger parking area so I missed it. This time I followed the mileage suggestion and found it at about three miles from Hwy. 285 on Park County #60.

    There is a two mile stretch of 60 before the trailhead that is private property, grandfathered in I imagine because it is in the Pike National Forest. Maybe four or five homes along the way. This is isolated country, back country. What a wonderful place it would be to grow up. Pronghorn Antelope, Black Bear, Beavers, Mule Deer, Fox. Burning Bear Creek. Moose. Mountain Lions. Mountain vistas. Pine and Aspen Forest. Mountain meadows. Wild Flowers. A neighborhood of wild Animals and Mountains and Creeks and Plants.

    The trail starts uphill right at the road and continues across a meadow for a couple of hundred yards. Well maintained, it has rock dams every so often. Water shunts down the hillside then, not eroding the trail. A lot of work went into this, one of hundreds of trails in the Rockies.

    When I got a hundred yards along the trail, this is what I saw.

    A couple of things began to bug me. Had I locked the car? (Had I turned the burner off?) And. Why had I chosen to hike without my camelpak? A short hike, that’s what I told myself. Wasn’t the water I missed but the bear bells. I plan to purchase bear spray, too, now that I’m hiking in the true back country.

    I’d set my timer to 15 minutes. I decided I’d go back right away and continued on. A 30 minute hike was what I’d planned.

    Further on I found a patch of blue Columbine, Colorado’s State Flower, as well as a contrasting red Indian Paint Brush.

    The Blue Columbine is endangered because hikers dig them up for their Rock gardens. Silly folk. They could come back in the fall and collect the seeds. I may do just that.

    The trail took a downward slope as my timer went off. I could hear Burning Bear Creek running below so I decided to go on.

    Up the slope of the Valley’s other side I could see that the trail leveled out. Went up to investigate.

    I found this marker pointing up this section of the trail.

    Oh. My. I’ll be coming back with bells on. And Bear Spray, Water, and Snacks. And, a longer time line.

    On the way back

    Finally, I stopped at the Shawnee National Historic Site. About half way back to Bailey.