adventures of a fearless (mostly) globe trotting seeker...
wondering, wandering, barefoot, nomadess

Monday, August 30, 2010

Photo Postcard India :: Seva Movie Shoot

Baguanala Slum, Uttar Pradesh
Holi Holiday March 2010

Dear Friends,
This last February I travelled to a rural slum village in the north of India to teach yoga as a women's empowerment service project for girls and women. This is a project for the non-profit 501(c)3 I started called Healing the Mother. It was an amazing and humbling experience. My friend Anka Malatynska is a film maker, and when she heard about the trip, she wanted to make a documentary about my journey. How my search for myself and personal healing has turned into a mission to share the yoga that saved my life with others. The light and shadow, the joys and challenges of connecting to help others, and having myself reflected back. I set out to change the world, and realized I was changing myself.

The photo in this postcard was taken on Holi, a holiday festival where you play the game of Holi, throwing colored powder at each other. When we would practice pranayam and asana, I would shout "Shakti!" at the women and they would shout it back to me, "Shakti!". This is the feminine energy of power, creation and life.

This November, we will be travelling back to the village to meet up with the women who participated in the yoga training in february, and bringing them by train to have a week long Yoga Teacher Training for Women's Empowerment at the Devipuram Ashram in the south. We will provide them with food, lodging and books so that they can study in an envirnment free from their village responsibilities. The goal is to teach them to be yoga teacher's in their own villages, for health and self-esteem.

Contact me if you feel called to join us in India this November.

We will be screening a short version of the movie at a fundraiser October 9th at the Bhakti Yoga shala in Santa Monica.

I wanted to share with you some of my personal journal entries from the February project.

in Service and Love


tuesday, feb 9
Varanasi, India

it is raining in the oldest living city tonight. a city so old, it has three names. falling rain always makes me feel like curling up in bed. and so i am. my 2 roomates are out at dinner, they will have to walk back through the narrow, twisting alleys in the rain. but maybe it will have washed all the cow poop away...

walking through these alleys, you see so many seemingly broken people. literally. their limbs broken, handicapped and begging. so many that you have to stop seeing them. no matter how much yoga you do, how much meditation, it causes pain to see suffering. it is difficult to look so much suffering in the eyes, to sustain the gaze.

today anka, the director of the documentary we are making about this trip, and i went to a village nearby varanasi to see about teaching yoga to some dalits. dalit is the untouchables of the class system. we were introduced to the director of the program by our friend appu, who is a brahmin, the highest of the caste system. he said that people are superstitious and say that if you touch an untouchable, your skin will burn.

these kids had very little, dirty clothes and snotty noses. but i did not feel sorry for them or depressed by spending time with them. it was as if we opened a can of joy. pure, unadulterated enthusiasm.

it was easy to look into their faces, to look at their eyes because we are sharing with each other. i am coming to teach yoga and they are open and excited to learn.

i think it comes down to is difficult to look at the people begging in the city because i feel overwhelmed, underequipped and guilty, and because i am ignoring them. and because we are separate from each other. it is easy to look at the dalit children in the village because i am participating with them. so when we sustain the gaze, it is hope and friendliness passing between us.

Monday, February 22
Baguanala Village, India

suicide in the village
a woman's body was found in the river today. it was the first day of the yoga women's empowerment class i am teaching in this village. this woman was supposed to be in our group. she committed suicide after her husband beat her last night. she ran from her home and jumped into the river. it made my heart heavy to hear the news. and yet it is what i am here for. or, to be clear, what the yoga is here for. to give these women a sense of goodness and connection to strength in themselves that can with stand the difficult storms. it is easy to forget some of the difficulties and life or death situations people are living through when we practice yoga in beautiful studios in America.

life can be cruel. spread a little kindness. forgive someone who hurt you in the past. the wheel of dharma and human drama moves on.

i am in a village near benaras shooting the documentary about teaching yoga to lower caste women and children. it is all exactly as i could hope, and so it is terrifying. why is it terrifying when your dreams are coming true? i guess that's why its easier to play small and keep nursing the old wounds. this is like stepping off the edge of a cliff, what is possible, nobody knows? the faces of the children are so strong, the black eyes rimmed in khajol (black eyeliner). i sustain the gaze. even when i am afraid. even when it is all so much bigger than me.

i sat at the communal water pump today in this rural ghetto. the women and children are still so beautiful. even with dirty clothes and snotty noses.what constitutes poverty? lack of money and food? how many of us live in poverty of the heart and soul, isolated from what we love most. connection to beauty, to goodness. to a basic feeling that life is good.

i am frightened by the immensity of it. everywhere, the big eyes watching. doesn't it feel as if someone is always watching us? some call this god.

the little girls follow me through the streets calling me "didi", a hindi term of respect and endearment that means big sister. i have family everywhere in the world.

i pray for strength, peace of mind and courage, to look into the soul of the human condition which stirs things up in myself.

and so it is. amen.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Knife Dance

Sunday, August 30
Metor, Ohio

Yesterday, I bought a knife. I have never bought my own knife before, never wanted one as a child. I was at a fair and there was a witchcraft booth. I was raised christian, so I never would have gone before. But I broke up with the church a long time ago. The husband and wife who owned the booth wore black t-shirts, were heavy and smoked a lot. I think in high school they were probably goth geeks. I was a nerd myself, just a different kind. I took the silver blade in my hands and something about the knife felt true. My mind automatically began reciting mantras and I felt the power from my body extend through the blade. Like turning up the sound on a stereo. I wanted to dance with it. I felt the weight of the knife, it felt real in my hands. The knife wanted me to dance with it.

I bought the knife and found a place behind the bandstand where the musicians were playing, filling the warm, summer night with drums like persistent heartbeats. I unsheathed the blade from it's leather holder, it looked like a small sword. I began to dance. It is a dance I learned in india called tandava. There is no right way to dance, only that I must keep moving, to feel the spontaneous movement of energy currents through my limbs and I am given the strength and agility to dance the stories, the patterns of life. it is the dance of birth and destruction, the dance of the universe. It is a form of trance and meditation. I found that I was more flexible and graceful than I expected, and that my body moved like a snake and a bird. I would crouch low to the ground and then twirl and jump towards the sky. I would lift my ribcage and peel my heart open to the heavens with my fingers, like peeling a piece of fruit.

Sometimes I lifted the knife and felt like a warrior, noble and proud. Other times the knife danced anger and retribution and sometimes I felt as if I was stirring the dark waters of a sea before time with the point of the blade. People gathered and watched, they were unimportant to me. There was a part of me that liked being watched, that like the feeling of being exalted. But I did not change my dance with the knife for the people watching. I became more and more true to myself and the blade, which felt so much a part of me that it was like one of my own bones extending out of my body.

after some time passed, i dropped to my knees panting, and felt exaughsted but exilerated. i pushed the blade into the earth, it felt right, like that was where the blade wanted to go. and i kept my finger wrapped around the handle, i could feel the power running through my hand, and it did not want to let go.

I have read that witches dance the dance of chaos. And I know that tantriks like I study with in india have ritual daggers or dorjes, as the tibetans call them. I used to think doing rituals was a waste of a time, an attachment to earthly outcome. I used to think I could surrender so completely that my ego would disappear. I looked down on rituals people performed to “get” things. Rituals for wealth, abundance, health, love. I scorned asking god for things, I felt it was better to just lay everything down at god's feet. But maybe some part of me had become broken from childhood years of my prayers not being answered the way I wanted. Maybe that part of me stopped believing in prayer and only believed in surrender to a will I can never really understand.

“And that's the way it is". The Lakota native american people I get doctored by say this as they patiently sit smoking cigarettes in their front yard and watch the road. The knife dance was a ritual. Maybe ritual is less about trying to make things happen and more about accepting the way they are. I don't ask to understand, I ask to be.

Friday, August 27, 2010

In the slaughterhouse of love...(I knew no shame)

"in the slaughterhouse of love, they only kill the best lovers"
-sufi saying

we are crazzzzzy mad way gone lovers drunk on the mothers sweet juice

i fasted for 5 days in the cabin i was born in a few years ago and had a waking dream vision of approaching my own mother with carnal desire, i thought i would be rejected, but she welcomed me. her yoni was dripping wet and milk was coming out like pearls from her nipples. i drank from her thighs and breasts and tongue kissed her. when i woke up i couldn't move for an hour the physical orgasmic bliss paralyzed me.

i knew no shame

in real life, we have not spoken in over 10 years
i am estranged from my mother like other people are estranged from
their lovers
no wonder i am a goddess worshipper
pouring all my motherlove devotion into the fierce, laughing goddesses
in rough hewn stone temples with neon om signs
halfway around the world

i stopped asking to understand, now i just kneel at her feet
offering these red hibiscus flowers and magical incantations
breaking myself open
we are gypsies
we have no roots
we are wild, winding, whirling dervishes
of orgasmic, atomic sky flowers burning bright and urgent s.o.s. messages
in the sky
reading tea leaves and palms
slaves to destiny
inshallah (god's will be done)

i drove up to the cabin like a bat outta hell
back home, my marriage was melting in the fires of my burning
and the impending explosion propelled me forward,
onward to eat the road
like a lusty demoness
i go to make tea for my shadow
to cry for a vision
as it all comes tumbling down

driving 120mph on the grapevine, rout 5
that long brown vein that cuts through the heart of california
like a dry, dusty river
not like the coasts pretty, moist, wet silhouette
graced by gray ocean and green redwoods and
dramatic cliffs dropping off the edge of the youthful promise
of the west
into infinity which stopped making promises eons ago
not like the deserts holiness austerity like cathedrals
of boulders arranged by an invisible hand from the sky inspiring awe
in the quaking stillness
no, this is the taint of california
somewhere between the sex and the asshole
towns like modesto, bakersfield, fresno
abandon hope all ye who enter here

i held the wheel with one hand and scribbled in my notebook with the other
one eye on the road and one eye on the page
at 120 miles per hour
the heat of the day and my sense of excitement and dread made
my sweat smell sour
by god if i am meant to die, take me now

i scribble:
i have gone where good women are not supposed to go
i have heard the tinkling of stolen keys in the locks of
midnight temples
meeting with men
who are not my husband
i have laid my body down on altars smeared with mustard-yellow tumeric powder
and deep red tilak
smeared around the mouth of my fire
my sacred altar
the mothers mouth
i have dropped my name as i entered the room
like dropping a garment of clothing
and disappeared into the curling tail of incense smoke
i pierced the veil

i have torn the curtain in the temple
the separation the priests made
between flesh and spirit
and the temples white marble floor is covered in my red, red blood

i knew no shame

on the 7th day
i emerge from my self-imposed fasting to join the christian missionaries potluck
who have taken over the commune i grew up on
i am high as a kite from fasting
"we are all one", is looped in my brain
i sit across from a man who asks what i do for a living
"i teach yoga"
"well that's ok for excersize, as long as you don't do that kundalini"
"kundalini is the holy spirit" i say.
surely we can cross the bridge of separation between us.
he looks horrified
"how do you know this?" he says
"because i have felt it in my body, it is the same as when we spoke in tongues in church"
how can i tell him this is how i have felt christ, as an ecstasy running through my veins
sexual and spiritual have always been one for me
this man begins following me, asking more questions
when he asks, i tell him i am part spanish gypsy, part jewish, part danish
"jewish?! you are one of god's chosen people."
"aren't we all?" i say
"yes, but jews are special"
great. he's got a jew fetish
jesus was a jew
mary magdalene, the prostitute was one too

i become annoyed with being shadowed and shake this man
then, suddenly, when i do not see him anywhere, i panick
what if he went to look in my cabin? there is no lock on the door
and inside i have tarot cards and a dildo
(for doing energy cultivation breathing excersizes)
oh i will be publicly drawn and quartered
i begin to hurry towards my cabin, down the hill, far from everywhere
no phone, no locks
no one to hear my screams

my heart is beating fast,
i stop in a field, i catch my breath
i see another vision
i am being burned in the middle of the field
they have called me a witch
they are shaming the womam who took her power, her sex back
they are afraid
what is a witch?
a woman who takes back her power
i am afraid

i am afraid to go to the cabin if he is there, and we are there alone
and why not rape the slut?
it is quiet there
it is peaceful there
there is no one to hear my screams there

i go back to the potluck and find a friend
and ask him to walk me home
we stop at the jew fetish guys cabin on the way,
i want to spy on my would-be spy
he is there, i relax
he talks of jesus
and about his son who commited suicide when he was 25
and left a grandchild behind for his parents to take care of
and he motions to his cabin where he says he has a wife who doesn't go out much
and i feel compassion instead of fear
aren't we all just finding ways to deal with our suffering?

the young man i made friends with walking me to my cabin
he moved to the missionary training camp because jesus
appeared to him on a mushroom trip at a rainbow gathering
descending from the sky in rainbow colored clouds
he says jesus told him to go back to church
but he looks lost and lonely, and the conviction drops from his voice
he is just trying to make the best of those early 20 years where nothing makes any sense
especially rejection from friends and girls
he tells me i remind him of one of the rainbow gathering girls
because i am open

the next morning there is a knock at my cabin at 6:30 in the morning
it's the jew fetish guy
i open the door and he stands frozen there, looking uncomfortable
i say hello
he says hello
"i can't remember why i came here" he says
this is not good i think
we are alone
no one to hear my screams
i invite him in and make him a cup of tea
i will transform my fear into love
"oh now i remember" he says,
"i wanted to invite you to the morning bible study"
i pictured them all there praying for my eternal soul when i failed to show up
"i prefer to pray alone" i said
he sipped his tea ans still looked uncomfortable.
then he said, "you have a mystique, i can't decide if it is spiritual or just sexual"
i bite my tongue and don't tell him that they are the same to me
he finishes he tea and leaves

in the back of an indian taxi
an impossibly old car with upholstry organically dissolving into it's greasy self
with spings that cut my ass cheeks
no a/c, i sweat profusly and hold my breath
i am going to meet my teacher for the first time
will he be the one?
i feel my heart ache and my ribs felt like they were being stabbed
"it is my heart i have come to heal" i think to myself

we are in the jungle, and there are only indians here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Double lives

does a double life give you more freedom and power? if all the world is a stage, and we are just actors playing the roles, then getting to wear the different masks can allow for more expression and experience. it can bring the realization, i am not limited to this or that. i am not the mask, i am the energy behind the mask. and the energy behind wants to play all the roles. if i am a wife who has an affair, than i also play the roles of a lover and a whore.

the first time i practiced tantra with my male teacher in secret, i went home to my husband and said nothing. we made love that night. i chanted the mantras i had learned while he hovered above me, while i held him in my mouth. afterwards he said it was as if something strange had happened, he could not explain it. he said it was one of the strongest sexual experiences he ever had. the next day we went to the movies together, i rode on the back of his motorcycle. i felt the crisp wind cutting into my face as we speed through traffic, i held tightly to his back. we cut through the traffic, weaving in and out of the lanes where the cars were stopped waiting for the red lights to change to green. shouldn't i be dead? i broke all the rules. but i was not dead. i felt more alive than i ever had. i felt immortal. it was difficult to reconcile this feeling of personal freedom with my morality, ethics and the rest of the world around me. my guru in india said tantra is the path of freedom and bondage. i would not keep a secret like this again, but i will not deny that it made some important change in me either.

i am reading a book about the psychotherapist, carl jung. he talks about a point in his childhood where he began to feel his personality split. when he began going to school, he realized that he behaved differently around the other children than he did when he was home with his family or by himself. to fit in, he acted like a different person. he said at this time, he took a ruler from his school box and carved a figure out of it. a man with a top hat. he fashioned a jacket for his "doll". he took this image and found a box to place it inside. he hide the box in the attic of his house. he made a secret image of himself that no one else could see. somehow this secret knowledge made him feel his essence was still intact, had not been compromised. It helped him to feel that he was still whole and had not lost himself to the herd mentality.

in the left-handed tantra practices, there is a purposeful engagement of taboo, used to break the practitioner from societal norms. this term of "left-hand" or vama marga, originated in india. in that culture, the left hand is used to wipe the ass, and is considered "unclean". the right hand is used for cooking and eating and greeting. to touch someone with the left-hand is a terrible insult, a taboo originated for practical reasons. most taboos have been created for practical reason that make sense for survival. but what if we want more than survival, more than fight or flight? more than reactions to fear of dying? after all, we will eventually die someday, no matter how careful we are. and if we realize that we return to the source of everything when we die, we would not be so afraid of death. we might begin to act fearlessly and take more risks. society respects risk-takers. the heroes of movies take risks to go beyond the everyday roles of their village, community and culture. that is why we are interested in their stories. because by breaking the mold, they have a new story to tell, they bring back new information to the tribe. if they fail, they will be scorned and their efforts will be regarded as vain and useless. if they succeed they will be the heroes, shamans and healers.

my first tantra teacher was married and i was married. we practiced in secret. his wife was not interested in learning tantra, and neither was my husband. these practices were only for the initiated. the desire to learn how to work with energy and power of sex had to come from your own soul. now that i am a tantra teacher, people ask me if i teach tantra for couples. i do not specifically teach tantra this way. i teach it as a form of self-inquiry, to reach an understanding of yourself. in self-inquiry, all goals are questioned, there are no sacred cows. nobody likes to speak about it plainly and openly, but people who begin seeking, through western therapy or mystical eastern practices often have their proverbial houses burn down. they get divorced, they lose their home, jobs, cars and pets. sometimes they lose their minds too.

when i began sexual practices outside my marriage, i knew it might cost me my marriage. i was afraid of this, of hurting him, of being a bad person, of being judged and i was afraid i would not be able to support myself without my husband. but the desire to understand my own nature, which was so clearly rooted in sex, outweighed all other external realities. compared to the burning of my soul, my marriage felt like an external reality. it was only one part of me and i was desperate to touch on the white-hot center of me. the nexxus of the tornado, from which everything else was spinning around. creating and being devoured by itself to create again. so i dove into the white hot center and saw that the whole world was spinning.

when i studied with my sufi teacher in istanbul, we would turn in circles to the music. the turning becomes spinning and i realized that everything in the whole universe was spinning along with me. they say the dizziness makes you drunk. this drunkeness makes you taste the wine of your heart and become intoxicated. they say your soul lives inside your heart and your mind is the servant who guards the door to the throne room. but for most of us the mind has become a tyrant and keeps the door of the heart locked, the soul becomes a prisoner inside.

why does the mind do this? because the mind is afraid. the soul is not afraid. the soul just wants to experience through the miracle of the body, of the senses. that's why the soul waits in beginningless time to be clothed in another body, to have the experience of tasting, tongue to tongue, the warmth of a french kiss again. the soul waited for the marvel of tasting an ice cream cone, for the delight of smelling roses and manure, for the sting of a punch or kick in a good fight. and especially, the soul waited to be clothed in a body for the dance of sex. what more divine joy is reserved for mortals than the holy prayer of union?

two bodies slick with sweat running along the shore of each others bodies, driven by a deep instinct like the silver bodies of grunyon fish gasping and running for the beach. the oxygen burns their lungs, because they are underwater sea-breathers. they are running unknowingly towards their own annihilation. an orgasm is an annihilation. in one fraction of a second, you forget your individual self and return to the womb of beginningless time. through the weaving of the flesh bodies, the soul tastes it's immortality again in a flash of light. the soul came to live. the soul knows it never dies.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sufi Ecstasy Pilgrim

From my travel diary in 2008:

nov 17

konya, turkey

we are in the city with rumi's tomb, on a pilgrimage for the anniversary of his death. we have come to a dergha, a room crowded with people. so crowded it seems impossible that any more could fit, and yet the room is alive and when a new person comes, somehow the bodies move, rearrange and settle again. it is stifling hot and the air is thick. the women are wearing head scarves and mostly they are in the back of the room, as if by some unspoken agreement the men and women have separated themselves in half, the front and the back. but i do not want to be in the back of the room, i do not want to be a good sheep. what does God care for a head scarf? doesn't God know every hair on my head? so i edge my way into the wall on the mens side, in the front where the musicians are. there is an open space there where the men are holding hands and dancing in a circle. sometimes, one of them gets in the center and starts whirling.

baba is sitting in the front of the room. he catches my eye and motions for me to come to the center. i climb over people to get there, and then one of the men grabs my hand and i am pulled back and forth in the dance, bowing up and and down in trance like rhythm. we say, no we breath, the name of God, "allah". over and over, it is hypnotic. the rhythm is pierced by yells and shouts that make the energy get higher. i shout the name of God, allah! it has the same feeling as saying jesus or mother. "la il ilaha il allah"...there is no God but God, in the sufi way it means all the names of God are one.

zikir is ecstaic breathing, breathing the name of god and turning and bowing to bring on ecstatic states. it is very familiar to me, it is like speaking in tongues in the born again church i grew up going to. zikir means rememberence. tonight, i cried out for all the sins that have been committed against me and all the sins i have committed against others. i cried for all the joy and pain i have experienced. i cried out to the God i have known and the one i have not yet begun to fathom. i cried out for the soul of the child i aborted and the mistakes i made with the son i gave birth to. i cried out the name of God with the animal sound of longing for the love of my mother and father that i never felt i got. and down came the rain, the energy filling my body until i thought i would burst, like a locomotive and my body the tunnel.

still i felt myself resisting this locomotive and the resistance felt like a knife in my back. the ecstasy was washing through me and the pain was also stabbing me at the same time and it seemed impossible they could both exist at once so intensely. i kept trying to relax, to let go of my self consciousness and drown in the fullness. and then the pain in my back went away and my body was filled with a tremendous shower of light that was like the most intense orgasm and it felt like God was fucking me in the middle of all these people and i felt like dropping and writhing in the pleasure of the orgasm on the floor. but i kept holding the hands around me and making the deep throaty sound of the zikir and then crying out the names of God.

i felt i could not go on, i was exaughsted, but it felt like when you are having sex and the body and the nerves are finished, but some deep need drives you on to another orgasm. the sema has its own life and strength in the group energy, so i tapped into the person next to me and matched my breathing and movement to his and then i was riding his strength as if we were making love, as if the whole sema was a pulsating nucleus of dancing particles. and i was carried in the circle, in the drunken rememberance. i am laughing, i am crying, my limbs are covered in sweat.

finally the murshid calls for us to stop and i bow to him and he says,

"you made a beautiful zikir. who are you? you are my daughter".

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dreams & initiations

in the first dream
i saw my smiling face as a little girl, looking at me now
hair was golden brown
and my woman face now, with jet black hair
morphed with my face then
and became one
and i was smiling at me
softer was i then, older am i now
there was a great deal of power in my eyes as they stared back at me
and i knew we were becoming one, i was looking at my future self

in the second dream
there was a man, naked
his arms were outstretched like his body was a cross
i got on my knees
and put his phallus in my mouth
and i wept
and used my fingers to dig into the flesh of his hips and ass
and pull him more deeply into me
devouring me, making me forget myself

i take a journey to my inner landscape to tell these stories
this morning i found one asking to be told
it feels like i am standing at the base of a mountain,
telling this story is an uphill climb

already i feel tired
at the top of the mountain there is a cave, the story is in the cave
a dreamweaver is waiting for me there
i pack a satchel for the climb, a simple meal of bread, cheese, eggs

i open my memory box and pull one out at random
like sifting through my grandmothers jewelry box
and as my house is burning down
i find a quiet room to playfully examine the contents
when the house is burning, the first instinct is to run out
what of staying inside?

i am the huntress
lurking behind the the forest and trees
following my sacred deer
who disappears and then reappears,
standing silent as the perfection of time in a bright sun filled meadow
we join forces, the huntress and the sacred deer
we go to the cave together
inside we find a creature, half minotaur and half alien,
the half that is the bull smells wretched of earth, blood, feces,
the half that is alien glitters with many-colored jewels

in a third dream (a dream i had in india)
i walk into a room, a bedroom
i know this because the room is empty except for a bed
i feel a sense of dread
i have had this dream many times before, i am tired of it
on the other side of the bed there is a man
i do not notice his face, only that he is a man with dark hair
i cannot stop my dream self from walking to the bed, to the man
i am watching my dreamer
me and the man are separated by the bed
i think, "not again"
i cannot move the feet of the dream me, not to the right or to the left
then i realize, i can go up!
i float up and leave my shoes behind at the side of the bed
and i float to the sky and look down on the old dream
i realize i can fly

jesus said:
"i speak my mysteries to those who are ready to hear my mysteries,
she who has found the body is superior to the world

when you make the two one,
and when you make the male and the female one and the same,
and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye,
and a hand in place of a hand,
then will you enter the kingdom."

i fashion a mouth for mouth and a tongue for a tongue
the taste of your seed
bitter, pungent, earth and fire
i swallow your legions whole

"leave your shoes outside. your shoes represent your life. when you come inside, you are only energy now".
he was married and i was married, we were meeting in secret to practice tantra together. a few minutes before, i had been sitting in my car in the driveway of my teachers house. now that i had rung the doorbell, it was too late to turn back. i had pulled the trigger. i smiled stupidly. we were somewhere in the suburbs, in neat rows of sand colored houses. they all looked the same, i had to check the address twice, even though i had been here once before. i was nervous anyways. he was very dark with blue black skin. The color of his lips much darker than mine. He had black hair on his knuckles and tufting out of the collar of his polo shirt. He was dressed like a computer programmer, in khakis. he had a little belly, but other than that his arms were long, thin and lanky. i had not been to india yet, but when i did go, i saw that he had the same kind of body type as most of the men from the south.

he sat on his couch and i sat below, cross legged on the tan carpet. his house was clean but almost empty of decoration, nice but generic. his wife and children were on a trip now. that is why we were meeting at this time, because we needed secrecy. i was a wife and a mother. these things i tried to leave outside with my shoes.

Monday, August 23, 2010


dark tunnels
dropping into wormholes of visceral memory
working in the coal mines
the soul mines
spinning the poison into gold
with my silver tongue and mercury fingers
too much mercury will kill you
just enough will give you sublime visions
this soul is mine
i reclaim it
from the hobbits and trolls
the more visceral the wormholes the better
for the writing
for me, the writer, and you, the reader
writing is an act of discovery. i want to discover my relationship to my memories. i want to discover my relationship to you, the reader. i want to transcend the separation between you and me by taking the things i have isolated myself the most with, my private wounds and memories, and flush them through the burning of my words into the common language of all our experiences and dreams. i want transcendence. i want to break through the the other side. i pulse between the dark, small feelings of these moldy memories and the big, beautiful feeling of release when they are exposed. am i having a manic-depressive episode? every 2 minutes. it is a slippery slope considering where i have come from.

still, i dig my way through these impassable mountains of memory, persistently pushing like a mother in the necessity of childbirth. sometimes i get lost in a tunnel. this exersize is only fruitful if one part of my mind is strong enough to get out without getting too lost. i think of all the artists who have simply lost it, who died young of drug overdoses or were locked up in the looney bin from madness. they pushed it too far, to try to understand themselves, to break through the membrane-thin collective reality bubble and bring back handfulls of the sublime. in books and paintings they lost themselves and their minds. when you are pushing, do you always know what is too far? on the razor's edge, you only find out by testing your steps.

last night i could not sleep. i fell asleep with a faint sense of darkness, of angst, perhaps all is not right in the world. perhaps there are evil spirits, dark energies. but i am a grown woman, i put these childish thoughts aside and fell asleep none the less. i was woken by the buzzing alert on my phone that someone texted me. "fuck", a sense of dread that i would not be able to sleep again came over me. then the cell phone rang. a friend of mine telling me what a great night he was having, driving under an almost full moon, belly full of sake, having just made new friends at the restaurant he ate dinner at. he asked how i was doing. "twisting and burning", i said. "alone, here, in self-exhile in ohio, can't sleep". "well, you gotta get outta there then", he said. "otherwise you'll just keep twisting and burning". i didn't want to hear that. one of my favorite sticks for my mind to beat me with is that i am hard on myself for nothing. "i'll let you go back to sleep", he says. i wish it was that easy.

i lay for awhile with my eyes burning. how many sleepless nights have i spent in my life, wrestling with the feeling of darkness. i called another friend. "it's the demon time", i said. "the wind is howling through the trees, it is restless like me". "maybe it is telling you to follow it to a nearby graveyard you haven't found yet", he drawls in my ear. "no thanks, i don't need that to start up too". we laugh.  i confess to him that i am afraid i am not doing anything, producing anything of value with my writing. that i am making myself miserable for nothing. he tells me that i am doing good, that i am producing something. i feel much better.

after we hang up, i still can't sleep. but when i close my eyes now, my skull is filled with a beautiful, radiant, strobing light. my body is filled with a comforting, sensual warmth, as if something soft is rubbing my whole being from the inside, invisible. i have always felt this. the fight between the light and darkness has often been fought in my body between the hours of midnight and 4am. since i was a little girl laying in bed. and the darkness always felt like a shadowy, oppressive force of dark intention. and the light always felt pleasurable in my body. that's why i understood immediately the language of the saints, nuns and martyrs who talked of being consummated with god, the bridegroom, in the bridal chamber. when the ecstasy overtakes me, i am transported to that place, that bridal chamber, and i am touched by the holy spirit. it is quite beautiful.

i spend a few hours running my fingers over the skin of my naked body, throwing off the bedcovers. i feel the hard jutting shape of my ribcage and the soft wrapper of golden skin. what miracle is this? i feel the wetness of my tongue as the taste grows sweet, the amrit, nectar of immortality releases in my throat as i salivate more. i brush my fingers like the hands of a ghost or the feathers of the wings of a bird over the shape of my breasts and nipples. they change shape at the tips and begin to feel cold and sharp. i am aroused. but in a thick sort of trancey way. i do not want to have an orgasm or come. i run my fingers lightly between my legs, feel the bones of my hips on both sides like a leather saddle. i run my fingers through the electric fuzz hair and touch my my private self. i linger momentarily, then bring my hands back to my breasts, my ribs. i listen to the sound of my breath.

i say some prayers to the angels, to the almighty goodness, i think of my guru in india. without my mantras, i might just be some crazy lady pushing a shopping cart down the street. i was diagnosed as bi-polar before. in another lifetime in this same lifetime. i think it was a spiritual diagnosis. i did not know how to weave between the ecstasy and the agony. between the feeling that we are all one and that i am alone in a cruel, meaningless universe. i was like a paper boat tossed on the waves of the passions. yoga is what saved me. made me feel like a functional human being. after a year of doing yoga, i tapered of all my psyche meds. i gave up on being normal a long time ago. i am functional. and beyond functional, i regularly dance in super-real realms of intensity of light and shadow that i feel is a beauty way to move through my barefoot lifetime on this small planet.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Circling my father

reading jack kerouac on the road...

the lovers, the burners

all ended so tragically

you know that search for TRUTH, FREEDOM

they were courage teachers

and now this new age bullshit movement is so hermetically safe and sealed

no tragedy please

is there something in between?

does it matter?

my father was a burner

he was an elder in our church commune

he molested many of the girls

wonder if he just lost touch?

these are the questions i am circling with my book

the ache in my gut

he grew up a good new york jew

2 parents, 2 kids, a boy and a girl

squaresville, eastern european immigrants 

escaping pogroms and witch burning to be good factory americans

my zadi, grandfather, would smoke cigars and play poker

he didn't earn much working at a sewing factory in the city, but by god he could play some poker

and from the winnings they had the first tv on the block

a bunch of greasy faced teenagers crowding around with my pops to watch the ed sullivan show in the jewish bronx

i imagine him just turning on to the 1960's and freaking out one day

fuck the immagrant american dreams

there's a whole world of magic out there boy

naked girls and love festivals and rainbow colored drugs

he made his way to hawaii and meditated on the beach, believing that they were "tuning in" to other people meditating around the world

and he ate fruit that fell from the trees and he said the cockaroaches were as big as cats

and it all sounded super far out hearing him tell his yarns sitting on his lap 

as i grew up on the christian commune that he joined after all that freaking out

left him empty

so, here's a riddle:

what happens when you take a bunch of hippies who have been experimenting

with the far side, with sex, drugs and freedom,

and then give them good old time religion with a bunch of rules

speaking in tongues and being washed in the blood of the lamb

it's still counter culture cuz we were far from mainstream

i grew up milking goats and wearing a bonnet for chissakes (literally, for christ's sake)

what happens then?

in my case...

beauty, trance, ecstasy, magikal way of looking at life

shattered when it all broke down

due to my fathers indiscretions

and so my mind grew to believe there was a perfect life before, and a broken one after

good and evil

fall from grace

i carry the sins of my father for 7 generations

blood of my blood

flesh of my flesh

seed of my seed

father, i circle the world trying to understand you.

why did you do it?

what were you thinking?

and now you hide away, you won't even tell your own daughter where you live

because you are afraid they will come after you

you protect yourself before me

if you have remorse, you keep it to yourself

and send me mysterious emails about being proud of the life i have made for myself and being proud of me and so on

and i say fuck you

and i love you

and i ache and burn and twist for you

and me

and the whole world of mere angelic demonic mortals like us

you will not witness me father, but i will be witnessed

by the whole world

i am whirling

i am whirling

for the thousand fold suns that will light up our faces when we meet again on the spirit plane

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Heart of Tantra Manifesto

TANTRA is not about sexual freedom or sexual control, it is about worship as a doorway to accepting the raw, naked moment of what is, the ground you are standing on is the ground to TRUTH...the BODY you are living in is spirit made flesh. can you stand naked in this moment with me and sustain the gaze? i worship YOU.

to integrate sexual energy with spiritual energy and experience oneness through the other, first you must experience oneness with yourself. why are you split? why is sex split from spirit? we are ashamed, we have run from the garden of eden covering our nakedness (innocence). For of such (childlike innocence) is the Kingdom of God.

the kingdom of heaven is within us and around us, not an imaginary place in the sky or a reward after we is in the living, breathing NOW...know yourself and you will be known. in ritualistic temple tantra we worship the body as the home of god, and by showering our adoration on the human form, we claim our wholi-ness back.

we fear the body, we fear death. sex brings birth, which brings death. we are split. we want birth without death. pleasure without pain. love without loss. so the real tantra is weaving together the opposites, becoming a master. in tantra, there are techniques to pierce the veil of "ordinary reality", but they are disorienting to the mind.
Because the MIND has perceived things as smaller than they are. When we see they are bigger, the mind is confused. "Where am i?" "Who am i?" "what life am i waking up to in the morning?" "Whose dream did i buy into?"
These are questions many people spend their lives keeping busy to avoid. Who asks these questions? The heart and soul ask these questions. When you start asking these questions, your life might begin to change, and it might scare you.
would you light your own house on fire because your tears taste sweet to you? totality of pleasure and pain, the feminine chaos as a teacher. stir the shakti pot. you have to want more. burn your old dwelling places down to find a new home.

Because we fear DEATH, we also fear comes from the animalistic urge to pro-create, which is fueled by sensual DESIRE, so that the SEED fertizes the EGG. This seed matures and is born through the mouth of the woman's body. This is all feminine. Women are sex. Show me the culture where they cover the man's body in fabric to control the lust of the women. Women cause men to desire, inside the woman is the flame of SHAKTI, the magnet of DESIRE for sensual desire, for joining. If you are afraid of death/life, than you will be afraid of DESIRE, SHAKTI and WOMAN. and so we live in a state of PATRIARCHY now. we are afraid of the SHAKTI, the MOTHER. in goddess worship, we return to loving the DIVINE MOTHER. of course we must also love the DIVINE FATHER, but because of the patriarchal imbalance we find ourselves in now, i find it most beneficial to turn in the direction of the divine feminine and from that love, i will meet the divine masculine, since they are mated partners.

TANTRA means WEAVING...weaving light and dark, conscious and subconscious, matter and spirit, right and wrong, life and death and RE-BIRTH...yes the distances between you and i and us and god...weaving the fabric and the vagina 0's and penis 1's are just the binary code...what's the intelligence behind the binary code??? that's the exploration of inner and outer space...doing and un-doing...melting, blending, alchemizing...

the dual dissolves into the non-dual, but the the One becomes two and that is the hard part because the feeling of separation comes again. a lot of spiritual practice is chasing the Oneness instead of learning to move skillfully between non-dual and dual, as consciousness clearly chooses to do. if we only seek oneness, we will fall short in the human experience, which our souls chose to experience opposites. For what greater purpose of Gods have we smaller gods met face to face in this lifetime? Tantra is a play of the gods (you and me).

it is a problem to try to define liberation, samadhi, these spiritual words become like opiate for the masses, what does "love" mean?, "enlightenment"? anyone who has experienced these cannot explain them...

when i teach TANTRA workshops i say, "i'm not promising you anything. not a better orgasm, not a soul mate or enlightenment". all these concepts are commercialized and it is easy to make a lot of money pushing people's buttons ...But the goal you may begin with may be just the trick to get you in the door.
my guruji says the problem with tantra is people just wanting to get their kicks. but then he sighed and said, "but what's so wrong with kicks?"

FREEDOM is found by the individual. It is a process of individuating, becoming who you really are. It can feel like a lonely, painful process. Luckily, we have grace and guides. It is important to find a teacher. You cannot mimick your teacher, but you can follow their example to becoming a mature, spiritual grown up. Meaning take responsibility to be who you are in this life. Stop projecting and blaming all your relations, politics, etc for keeping you from realizing your dreams, your power, your freedom. FREEDOM comes from within.

It is also true that we live in a world where there is a great deal of suffering. So your own freedom is intrinsically connected to doing works with your hands to change the world in it's physical form as well. FREEDOM comes from service and LOVE.

Spoken words contradict themselves. Words are like teachers, they can only point the way. You must navigate the way on your own.

The TANTRA that can be spoken is not the TRUE TANTRA.

Saturday morning, syrup and pancakes

saturday, august 21
pittsburgh, pa

drove 5 hours from cleveland yesterday to teach in pittsburgh
staying at some kind soul's house i never met yet, smells like cats
doesn't make much difference to me anymore, where i lay my head

saturday morning
woke up remembering how you move inside me like syrup and pancakes with melting butter
you standing in the doorway naked with a cup of coffee
rubbing your belly
which is not rock hard like the infomercials
but soft with honey bear fuzz, and thick around the waist like a real man
and how we used to make love in the mornings
before breakfast,
after breakfast
we used to say we had to charge the worlds battery by creating friction with our magnetic parts
well, i guess the world is still runnin'
because these days
i don't see so much of you anymore
and sometimes i just want to wrap my legs around you
to feel the assurance of your arms
the sweat of our bellies as you slide inside
and we make a solemn prayer
sometimes looking into each others eyes and sometimes looking far away
to the stars
and sometimes it seems like it should be as easy as making a phone call
or buying a plane ticket
but somehow, it's not that easy at all
the same magnetic force that used to pull you into me
now seems to be pushing us apart

and i mine my misery for art
to tell my story
of sin and redemption
of love and loss
like a good country song, except in my version,
everything you lose will come back again

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What i didn't tell you

the sensei says that when you fight, you meet the opponent in yourself. you meet your anger, fear and indecision. the indecision is the worst, because you freeze and can't respond to your partner, even if they are hurting you. you are confronted with the reality of the punch, the kick, the contact. you can't pretend you weren't just kicked. and you can't pretend you didn't just kick your sparring partner. satori, a moment of awakeness.

what i didn't tell you
is that i crawled on my hands and knees after you left, after you didn't want me to spend the night again. i didn't tell you that i felt so sick i was dizzy and couldn't stand up, like i was on a badly rocking boat. i felt like i had to throw up, so i crawled to the toilet and curled up around it, like a kitten licking it's fur. and i cried and cried, big, fat, hot tears rolling down my cheeks to the tile bathroom floor. god, i am so sick of this ache. i just want to be held and loved, i want to have someone pet my hair and kiss my neck near my ear and say it's all going to be all right. my girlfriend sat and watched me. she shook her head. she said it seems like the men in the world really aren't doing the women much good.

i think of my father. i just want to be held. when will this ache ever go away? will i always be this broken? my gut hurts like nausea. it's the buckshot size hole where my self-esteem should be. i want to be seen in my entirety, my wholeness. i want to fuck you for fun and have you take me seriously.

i haven't told you this because
the truth is
i don't know you that well
even though you slipped so easily inside me and my body was wet with yes, and i felt you travel to the center of my white, hot yoni that makes all the light in my forehead go white too. it was easy to go there. it wasn't as easy to recover balance afterwards. somehow, when i got out of bed, a spell was broken. what had flowed so easily like a dance was now feeling limited. a little confusing.
"i'm going to get coffee, do you want to come?"
"no, that's alright"
"can i get you anything?"
"i'm good"
i pulled on my dress and went out from the cave of nocturnal love into the sunlight. my eyes sting from the sudden brightness. ah, god's flashlight. i walked down the street, that funny kinda walk with hips extra loose and my pussy still wet. i secretly smile to myself. maybe i look like an ordinary woman. but i am not. i am full of slick yum.
"mango? pineapple, guava?"
"mango, pineapple, guava?"
the fruit seller sings on the corner
pigeons drop shit on the parked cars.
at the coffee shop, i regard myself in the bathroom mirror. what have i looked like to you in bed? my face always surprises me. i often turn the rear view mirror in my car to look at myself, instead of the traffic. like a toddler fascinated with their own reflection. is that really me? is that what i look like on the outside?

what do i look like on the outside?
on the inside i am aching
i think, did i sleep with you too soon? but i don't want to think of it like that, of playing games. i followed what felt real in the moment. we sparred, i got kicked and i kicked. maybe i met more of the opponent in myself. the old, sad buttons that get pressed by close contact, and like a child's doll a recorded voice comes out of me that says, "papa". and now i retract back into myself to lick my fur in dignity. we played hard.
a flash of satori in our spar, in our lovemaking.
am i broken open, or just broken?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Flesh of my flesh

this morning my son told me he had carved my name in his palm. he was calling me from santa cruz. i could hear cars in the background and i pictured him standing on the street. i wondered if he was a little stoned. when he had come to visit me a few months earlier, i realized all my friends were stoners too. i sighed, you can't win them all. i asked him if he had gone to a coffee shop called pergolesi's. "oh yea, i love that place", he said and sounded proud to know the joint. i used to go there, when i was his age. 17 almost 18. before coffee shops blew up, before there was a starbucks on every corner, there was pergolesi's, a victorian gingerbread house on the outside and a gothic nightmare on the inside.

i had been there a few weeks ago, before i came to ohio to write. it was intimate to know we had both been standing on a street in santa cruz only two weeks apart. when i went back to pergolesi's that trip, i was walking down memory lane. i was almost giddy with my memories of my youth. it felt good now to have an experience to share with my son. he had been upset and not speaking to me for a month, but now he needed his social security number to apply for jobs. i am so glad when he needs something from me that i can provide. he said he put ink in the ridges where he carved my name to make a tattoo. it is strange, but i think there is something quite beautiful about that. he made a flesh offering to the gods of mothering. being a mother always humbles me, makes me feel like a very small and unworthy participant in the beautiful pageant of life. how could this beautiful life have come from me? his eyes are dark, intense and often troubled. he's got a dramatic tango with life. he will burn brightly and not go quietly into the night.

i worry for him. i made a flesh offering too. at sundance, a native american ceremony, i had offered 24 pieces of flesh from my arm in a prayer for me and my son to get a long, to be in a good way. it's not much to brag about, just a little bit of scarring on my left shoulder. looks like a cat scratched me maybe. but every time i look at it, i remember my prayer. there is a superstition around the practice, that the harder your prayer, the more you bleed. and my arm was dripping with red blood that day. i cannot quite describe the feeling of the tiny bits of flesh being removed. maybe the metal scalpel was cold, or maybe the air was cold touching the newly naked nerve endings.

the man who did the flesh offerings carried a silver aluminum briefcase. he set up a little altar of sage and a buffalo skull. there was a long line to give flesh offerings, my friend rachael and i laughed when i cut in line to join her, "just can't wait to give flesh offerings". somewhere, women are shoving and cutting in line to buy lingerie at a nordstrom's. when it was my turn, they told me to turn clockwise to enter the sacred space. i asked if i could turn counter clockwise, the witchy way. he said, "sure, i love that". and then i held the sacred pipe while he took the offerings from my arm. i felt the cold blade, the raw nerves, the warm blood beginning to drip down my arm. it made me focus on my prayer. the cold feeling from the cut made me feel like the spirits were touching me.

the night before, they had a night dance in the dark. the rest of the sundance ceremony is done during the day, in the light and heat of the sun. the night dance felt different. while the drummers played, and the dancers danced, the supporters would stand also and dance facing the sundancers. but looking always in the distance, to the sacred tree. i was so tired waiting for the ceremony to begin, i had fallen asleep in the itchy grass with my blanket. when the drums started i felt as if i was in a trance, like a heavy hand was holding me down, it was so hard to get the energy to stand. when i did face the dancers, i felt the cool night air, the blue-black sky and i saw the black silhouette of the tree. i began to pray to the tree. "creator, i will be dead someday. please take care of my son." and i wept. i have so little control over my son's life. he is becoming a man now. he has his own river to navigate.

flesh of my flesh
fruit of my womb
some people pray to their ancestors
i pray to the miracle of my child
to the life that runs in the river of time before me
and gives me faith in life