Tag Archives: May Day

Before the Wind Comes Up

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Spring comes early to the North Coast, and with it comes the wind. There are very few days in the Spring when the air is still, and many more when the house is buffeted all day by wave after wave of cold, thundering marine air.

Some nights the wind picks up around 4 am, loud enough to wake me up. I can feel it testing the give of the glass panes on my window, like a crazed tympanist tuning a drum. Even though I am well-protected and warm, I reach for a pillow to protect my head from the blasts.

This is a wind that works on all levels—the exterior and the deeply interior. Some days I have only to look at the wind blowing outside to feel it at work in my own mind, tearing loose what is hastily nailed down and forcing the trees to anchor their roots even deeper.

This morning I looked out through windows glazed with a season’s worth of salt spray and saw the treetops motionless against the sky. Throwing on a light sweater, I took the dog outside for an early walk in the sweet light of May Day. It was a morning when everything seems possible.

Even when still, the wind is a palpable presence here. It danced in a slow-moving swirl around me, full of energy but relaxed, letting the dew hang on the tips of the tall grass until it ended up on Vince’s fur, or slowly steamed away in the sun.

On other walks I have felt halfway around the folly of my clothes choice. I prefer to think of dressing as giving instructions to the elements on how to behave, the result being that I am frequently mad at myself for not dressing warmer. But today, even with just a t-shirt and thin sweater on, I was never cold.

That in itself seemed like a hopeful sign that something new was possible, was in fact presenting itself right there in that moment. And it felt like if I just walked one more circuit in that perfect balance of cold and warm, I would fall into synch with it too. The door that had formed from Winter’s blasts and then blew itself open in the Spring would be there, and I would have the eyes to see it and step through.

Usually my reverie gets punctured in some way before I return to my house and get to work. But today nothing has interrupted the flow of that golden energy. In fact, as the day matures toward afternoon the treetops still hover in disbelief, waving quietly to themselves and letting the sun penetrate their innermost branches.

In this morning of grace I felt inspired to write. Miraculously, the day has cooperated, and this blog of my heart that I have left unattended for too long finally has a new entry. I feel whole again.

It is still a time of stripping away in this country. Too many people are struggling too hard, far too much of the time. But something new and wonderful is most surely rising up, with all the force of Spring and a gale wind behind it. If you step outside, maybe you can feel it too.

Small Brown Seed

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What a Spring it has been! I welcomed in May Day along with many old friends at a lovely handfasting in Tilden Park this past weekend. I’ve known Amie Miller since she was about 13, when I used to go to her parents’ home in San Francisco to work on the Reclaiming Newsletter. Amie was my kids’ first babysitter, and Bowen’s loud proclamations during her coming of age ritual are the stuff of community legend. Seeing Amie and Juliana looking so poised and lovely in their 30s was a real treat, as was singing with Evelie again and enjoying the gorgeous Berkeley hills.

I’ve been playing more music lately—not a lot, but my guitar is now out of its case and I’m starting to get callouses back on my fingers. Along with playing I’ve been thinking about finishing lots of half-written songs, and maybe putting out another album of my own music.

Music just seems to be in the air lately, because this morning George sent me an email asking whether I still had the recording of “Small Brown Seed” I’d made several years ago, for one of the Reclaiming CDs. I did not write “Small Brown Seed,” but contacted its author Maggie Shollenberger several years ago and got her permission to record it.

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I first heard this chant at Pantheacon, when I learned it in order to teach it and lead the singing during a ritual. The song was easy for everyone to learn, and built up a beautiful, harmonious energy during the spiral dance. Thanks again to Maggie for her song. It seems the perfect season to share it more widely.

Diving Deep and Surfacing

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Oh, it has been a long time since I last posted—my apologies to regular readers who were hoping for a little more blogging between the end of April and the beginning of June. I had to take time out to host another wonderful May Day party, my 20th year of doing so in Sonoma County, and then had to take a sabbatical from writing to welcome a new love into my life. Such a great set of problems!

Photo by Tom Lux

Photo by Tom Lux

In the meantime, I have been making numerous appearances around California, doing book signings, teaching classes and leading dream groups. I have been on the air every Thursday morning, hosting Dream Talk Radio on our local Occidental radio station. And I have been interviewed and profiled in a couple places that I would like to call your attention to.

David Van Nuys, aka Dr. Dave, is professor emeritus of psychology at Sonoma State University, and now has a top-rated psychology podcast called Shrink Rap Radio. He interviewed me last month about my new book on nightmares, What To Do When Dreams Go Bad. It was a really fun interview—well, if you’re like me and love having conversations about the creative potential of nightmares it was great fun. The hour-long podcast is available for listening on iTunes and also here.

Paul Rest is a writer, teacher and fellow aikidoist I have known for ten years. He writes about martial arts in a variety of places, including the examiner.com, where he pens a series of profiles called Martial Artists Making a Difference. His profile of me is here, freshly posted just a week ago.

Finally, my friend Baruch interviewed me yesterday for his new radio show, and while the podcast is not available yet I want to let people know about the show. Paradigms is a radio show highlighting visions of a viable future, through interviews with all sorts of inspiring people interspersed with great live music. If you are an inspiring person with something to say, you might consider contacting Baruch through his website. If you do, tell him I sent you.

I will post a link to that radio show when it materializes. Meanwhile, there is the end of another school year to contend with, the first anniversary of my father’s death this Summer Solstice, workshops coming up and a dream conference to attend in Chicago in late June. My plate is full and my cup runneth over, and I couldn’t be happier about all of it.

May Day cometh!

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May Day always takes me by surprise. It is one of the holidays we do up big every year, a glorious day with good friends, live music, lots of food, and a spirited maypole dance. We’ve been doing it for so many years now that even if we didn’t plan it, people would still come to our house to celebrate. And perhaps most importantly to me, our May Day party has become a real fixture in the lives of many children in our community. I love all of it, and the joy that is generated from that gathering keeps me going for weeks afterward.

Still, there is this feeling of whiplash that I associate with the ramp-up to a major holiday. I start by making room in my day for the tasks that prepare for the event: sweeping the porch, doing the big Costco shop, cleaning chairs and tables, ordering the beer, gathering ribbons—it all dices down to discreet tasks. So I start crossing off To Do items as I work my way down the list, and then the whiplash hits me: This isn’t just another chore, not just another errand. I am cleansing and purifying this ritual space, I am stocking up for a great feast of gratitude and shared blessings. Oh right, I have to move into Dreamtime.

That point came upon me today. In between selling a car, managing property, helping Jojo with her science fair report, feeding the elderly father-in-law, and washing our dog who’d just rolled in cowshit, I was attending to some of the many pre-May Day clean-up projects around here. It all got to be too much, and then I remembered, as I always do each year, that these chores aren’t just about making more efficient use of my time. They’re about entering the ritual zone. I had to slow down in order to realize it, but overall I don’t think it’s about taking a physically slower pace but a psychically slower one.

One of our kids’ favorite picture books—and one of ours too—was called Nata. It was about a fairy who loses her wings and grows new ones every year on Summer Solstice. But there’s some sort of a spell on all of her garden friends so that no one ever remembers why Nata is so cranky, why Nata can’t fly, why Nata is tearing about in a rage all of a sudden. No one, except the old toad who lives in the garden. The toad tries to tell everyone that this happens every year, but of course no one believes him. Sort of a Cassandra figure. Anyway, the story is humorous and charming, and my internal dialogue today (“It’s always like this, but you never remember”) really reminds me of the wise toad. (Find a link to the book Nata here.)