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

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Make love not war

Sex vs. War: The Temple of Hathor

Make love not war, that was the belief in the ancient temples of the Egyptian Goddess Hathor. Priestesses were trained in the arts of pleasure, art and sacred sensuality to distract men from war.

The legend is that, Ra the sun god was growing old, and became angry when people stopped worshipping him. He consulted with the other gods and decided to turn his angry gaze on the world. The wrathful Goddess Sekhmet emerged from his eye to bring his punishment to the world. She had the body of a woman and the head of a lion.

Sekhmet was fierce and turned men against each other so that the earth ran with the blood of war. She enjoyed the taste of blood so much that Ra became afraid she would destroy the whole world. He could not stop her, so he played a trick on her and poured beer dyed red with pomegranate juice onto the battlefield. Sekhmet drank it up and became so intoxicated that she slept for three days. When she woke up, her taste for blood had been appeased. 

She transformed into another form, Hathor, who became the goddess of pleasure. The daughters of Hathor were priestesses who taught men the art of pleasure and lovemaking to distract them from violence and war. Lovemaking also transformed the negative energy of the soldiers into healing love and bliss.

Later religions created a separation between god and pleasure of the body. The ways of the Goddess of pleasure were suppressed and forgotten, although we still feel the desire to merge our bodies with a higher love through sensual union.

Pleasure and sensuality are medicine to heal and empower our bodies and help us evolve beyond negative patterns and stories that no longer serve us. Where pleasure and sensuality are suppressed, there is often violence and fear.

Life should be ecstasy and pleasure. Our own bodies are the gateways to this empowerment if we learn to work with our pleasure.

Tantra and the sacred feminine give us the tools to awaken pleasure in our bodies to heal and empower ourselves.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"He held a gun to my head"

“He held a gun to my head. He punched me and I fell to my knees. He kept holding the gun to the back of my head.”
These are not my words, I am listening to an interview of my friend, Marcia, telling her story for a mini-documentary we are filming for my women’s empowerment project, “Women + Sex + Power- Stopping sexual violence and abuse”.

Her story is every woman’s nightmare. She was home alone in her apartment cooking dinner one night when she heard a noise like a screen falling. She looked around, but didn’t see anyone and went back to cooking, she was making chocolate banana eggrolls she had seen on a TV show. Then she went to lay down and watch a movie. She looked up and saw a big man with a mask over his face. She started screaming.
“Shut up!”
He punched her in the head and led her to her bedroom. 
She had been sexually abused as a child and something in her broke, "I will die before I let this happen to me twice in my lifetime".
I listen to her tell her story, amazingly she had been able to escape by following a voice in her head, her intuition. The voice said, "The gun isn't loaded". She had tricked him and ran from the apartment and called the police. They never caught the man that had attacked her.

Marcia had been training for the LA Marathon when she was attacked. She tried to keep training to meet her goal. One morning when she went to run in her training group, her body shut down on her and she had to be carried back to her car. She realized it was going to take a long time to heal from what had happened to her. “He stole something from me. He stole my joy”. For the first time in her interview, Marcia began to cry. I could see her shell melt, it takes so much strength to tell this story, she had been focused and not emotional. In this moment, I see her breaking down, feeling the pain and loss of what had happened to her. Breaking the silence is part of the healing process. Many women are still frozen in silences from their sexual traumas, and that locks up their power long after the actual abuse has ended.

Long after the attack, the feeling of not being able to achieve her goals had remained, he had taken her power. She had already been struggling with alcohol before the attack. Unable to run for the marathon, she spiraled out of control drinking to deal with the pain.

Sitting silently in the next room listening to her interview, I feel an ache in my own stomach like I have been punched in the gut. My own sexual wound begins to awaken and throb. I feel slightly nauseous. The solar plexus is the center for power and self esteem. Where there has been sexual trauma, power is lost and needs to be found again in ourselves. Even though I have done a lot of work to heal my sexual issues, I still feel pain especially when I am working to help heal others and I feel the pain of their stories trigger the old pain in mine. When I feel that old pain I wonder if I have really healed. I know I have healed though, because in the past I would have fallen into a deep depression, and now I have the strength and energy to help others with their pain. I have my power back. 

When we lose our power, the problem is, we will look everywhere else for it. We will look in bottles, powders, pills and sex to escape through our pain. Where is our value? Where is our power? Inside our core, we have lost the natural God-given connection to Source- our infinite power and worth.

How can we change our fate and earn our destiny? When we have had violence and trauma, we think it sets our lives on a certain negative course. We feel trapped in the fate of these negative patterns. There is a way to change these negative patterns. We must go on a path of healing and empowerment. We must become the heros we have been waiting for. We must go back our worst fears and reclaim the parts of our spirit and power that were taken from us and left behind. We are the heros that will hold us and forgive and love ourselves. And where we have healed, we can help lift others up to heal.

Three years ago, Marcia saw an ad in a yoga magazine of a Core Breakthrough Yoga program I was teaching and signed up for it. She had moved back to living with her parents, knowing that would stop her from drinking. She was so excited to begin my program that she missed the first day. She came every day after that and began to experience deep healing. It was not always easy, there were days she felt the pain and no running, no yoga could make it disappear. Still she had the strength to breath through the pain without drinking, without escaping and she began to integrate herself again.

Marcia has become a healer now, working with women to find their womb wisdom. She is an example of how we can go beyond our traumas and find healing beyond what we have imagined before.
"I promise you can be more powerful than before you were wounded." I said this to a woman in the Courage to Rise women's Leadership program and it has become the motto for the 2013 CTR campaign.

Marcia's video will premier in January 2013. Please support Courage to rise by donating to make more powerful videos of women's stories and a yoga video that can be downloaded from the internet that teaches the Core Breakthrough Yoga technique for healing trauma.

Monday, October 22, 2012

therapy on a crack pipe

hollywood, ca
oct 22

it is a tender process writing memoir. like therapy on a crack pipe.

cut my heart open and let it bleed in the sink
look for patterns in the blood lines
why are we here?
why are any of us here?
to sweetly fuck the abyss

writing the book is my way now of sweetly fucking and getting fucked by the abyss
time pass
yet i am so driven to do this
ever since i was a little girl, i wanted to be an author

so i wake up drink my coffee
look at the new lines on my face
wonder if i will ever be loved enough before i die
and get to work
persistently massaging this mass of grey matter into 
the clay i can sculpt from
make something of singular beauty
in a fleeting lifetime

everybody wants "spiritual teachers" to have the answers
i am standing on the side of the road with my pants down
shouting at the traffic speeding by

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"It's never too late"

Joshua Tree
Sunday, Oct 7

“It’s never too late”. My friend Alfred’s mother is dying of cancer, she is lying in a hospital bed after a seizure unable to walk anymore. He has been told that she will not leave the hospital again, he is praying for a miracle. Her long time boyfriend told him that he regretted never marrying her. Alfred told him, “It’s never too late”. His mother is not able to speak after the seizure, but she can nod her head yes and no. Her boyfriend proposed and she nodded yes. They held a small ceremony around her hospital bed. Four days later she passed away. Why do we wait until death comes to make peace?

I have not seen my own mother in 15 years. A history of mental illness and abuse. Stories I am tired of telling. I recently got a massage to relieve some of the chronic pain in my right shoulder. As the knot melted, a memory surfaced. I was 14 and my mother was kicking me while I was curled up in fetal position to protect myself. I remember looking up at her, angry that she was still beating me like a child as I grew into a woman. I looked at her with hate in my eyes, all the suppressed rage that I could not express in talking or fighting back. I had no power. So I found a way to have power- I promised myself that no matter how bad she beat me, I would not let her see me cry. Hot tears that stung my face betrayed my weakness, my vulnerability. She could beat my body, but she could not control my mind. I began to twist the scenario. She was the weak one for losing her temper. I was strong because I could control my emotions, and I made my face like a mask. I would not let her inside. That memory was so visceral and as the knot massaged out, I wept and wept all those tears that had been trapped inside for so long. I am tired of this anger inside me. Is this where I learned to control my emotions and keep people out of my vulnerability?

Over the years when the trauma and abandonment come up, I take myself to the shower to cry alone. I curl up like a ball on the floor and let the water fall on me like a powerful rain, something to wash me clean of all this pain inside. I let the water fill my gaping wound. Will I ever be complete?

I found a contact for my mother online last week. I left a message and she emailed me back. Now I am left to wonder what will happen when I call her back? Will she be verbally abusive again? She had her own pain that was so unbearable that it came out in rages of beating her kids. She had her own struggles and had been abused as a girl. How many generations do these patterns carry on?

I look in the mirror at the lines on my face. The wrinkles show my journey. What does my mothers face look like after 15 years? I think of Alfred’s mother, I think about making peace before death. My mom used to say, “You’ll be sorry when I’m dead”, when I talked back to her. I got tired of the death threat as a manipulation to get me to behave, to quiet down. I guess I am lucky that she is still here for me to try and make peace. I say prayers that it will be different this time.

What do I want? I want to lay my head in my mothers lap and have her stroke my hair. I want to receive all the mother love I have been missing. I want to be held. I want forgiveness and peace.

Friday, September 28, 2012

No Names...

Last night, I woke up inside my dream while I was sleeping, I woke up in a life I lived before, in the past or in the future I do not know, in dreams there is no time. Still this was no ordinary dream and I knew it was what people call a past life. 

I was a small girl looking out the doorway of my family’s mud hut as the sun was setting. At the edge of the village in the dust of the dust, the women collect their gathering baskets. Their skin is as dark as the dark blue corn they grind on  stones speckled grey and white. The girl is I, she is young and learning, her hands still get numb, sore and bruised. Still, she is proud to be doing the women’s work, the washing, the hanging of the white linens. It will not be long before the newness turns to resentment, not long before the honor becomes a chore.

It will not be long before the days of her life, the honor of duty becomes a fence that traps her beauty and the color of her dreams begins to bleed into the drab dusty earth of every day living. She searches the distant horizon for the man on the horse, for the messenger from somewhere far away, for the one who might come and take her away. To where she does not know, but it is somewhere far from the names that shackle her.  Daughter Sister. Mother.  She longs to go where she has no names.

I have no names when I disappear for fleeting moments in a lover's arms, 
I disappear in blinding pleasure to blot out the pain.  
More pleasure, more pain.
I die to live again.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"is tantra about sex?"

i received an email this morning from a woman who had talked to a tantrik scholar who had dismissed sexual tantra 

tantra is divided into right hand and left hand parctices
the right hand (dakshina marga) does not engage in sexual practices
the left hand (vama marga) does engage in sexual practices for initiation, kundalini awakening and enlightenment

the left hand accepts the right hand, but the right hand usually denounces the left hand tantras, that is why it is called the left hand, because in india the left hand is used to wipe the ass, it is unclean. this is called the "forbidden" path of breaking cultural, moral conditioning of taboos.

 They say that the intimate partner practices & left-hand pujas were discarded/ censored from strains of traditional Shiva-Shakti tantra (including Sri vidya) some centuries ago, and it's my experience with all my teachers that they are very much alive.

when did tantra begin and what is tantra? some people say it was a neo-hindu offshoot in reaction to the morality against sexuality in indian culture. i do not agree with this and i think it is a puritanical view point from scholars who do not understand tantra. their own discomfort with this form of sexual spirituality leads them to dismiss the power of the sexual tantrik traditions throughout time. tantra has always existed. the worship of the Mother goddess and sexuality as a sacred staircase to the higher states of evolution has always existed in all cultures and as a mystical hidden teaching of almost all religions and ideologies. look at the drawings in the pyramids in egypt...

the scholars tend to dismiss or denounce the left handed sexual practices. they are not usually practitioners of this form of tantra. depending who you talk to, it is higher or lower form of tantra, initiation and practice. a left hand practitioner will feel it is the true hidden tantra and a right hand practitioner will say it is less.

this stems from our own direct experience and what opens us up truly to the Lord.

we can only follow our gnosis, how the spirit and the Mother has stirred rememberence inside of us. this stirring has happened within my womb and my spiritual experiences have multiplied through my sexuality. they say tantriks are born not made.
the real question is, "what is sexuality"

if i look at a person from outside who is meditating and i do not understand meditation because i have not had the inner experience- then i would describe the outer experience i can perceive, "this person is sitting down not doing anything". if you practice meditation, you know that in your inner experience vast universes are blossoming inside you, you may have sublime visions or terrifying encounters with your own thoughts and fears as well as supernatural energies. the inner experience that can be felt is radically different than the outer experience that can be spoken of.

if i was not a left hand tantrik and i saw 2 tantra practitioners engaged in union, i would only see the outer container, 2 people having sex. of course, their experience is as different from normal definition of sex as the meditator is from just sitting around.

how can people understand what they have not experienced? i have compassion for those who still feel so much shame in their bodies and repression of their natural and spiritual sexual energies. it is unfortunate that in their lack of experience of the tantrik union, they have judged and persecuted tantriks throughout the ages. tantrik women adepts have been called witches and whores, or at the very least not given the same credibility and stature as the scholars. this also is a form of HIMSA (violence).

i think the world needs a tantrik enema....

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"What is the role of a woman in tantra?"

TANTRA FAQ: "What is the role of a woman in Tantric meditation?"
I thought I would share a very good question that was emailed to me this morning:

in one of your talks, you mentioned "playing roles". 

within the context of a tantra partner meditation, is there a role that a woman plays?
or is it a crapshoot of experiences?  or both?

or when a woman softens to the energy of her partner, 

is her experience that of his energy and how that energy flows and what it needs?  
the sit then becomes a cutting through all the external structures to
a deeper understanding of how your energy interacts 

with the energy in front of you.
I woke up today wondering ;)


well...the masculine and feminine dynamics are fluid in both males and females
some sits with a man i find they move more towards the shakti feminine energy expression and i sit in the grounding shiva masculine position
think of the male/female sacred energy dynamic like the positive/ negative ends of a battery
and then think of that range as being fluid, no one is entirely feminine or masculine energy

the "role" of a woman in the sit, i think is to be in self-enquiry of the experience happening inside herself and awareness of the play and exchange of energy with her partner

when i have sat with a very solid "base" male partner, i find that the serpentine energy really begins to flow and move because it is grounded in safety, and i really enjoy this feeling of flow in my body and appreciate being based to have that experience

there is a lot to look at here, when we think of the "role" of a woman both in tantra sitting partner meditation and in how we live in the world...
in relationships, i think that the feminine needs to be able to surrender to the masculine, but that it is difficult as a woman to surrender to men who are not stable or safe
of course we are all evolving, so there is no "perfect partner" who makes us feel perfectly safe
but as i travel the world and see so many communities where the women have become the bread winners and the mothers, and there is a wounding in the masculine causing alcoholism and abuse, i see a deep pain in the soul of the world
a deep pain in the sacred masculine soul and the sacred feminine soul
i hope we are finding ways to mend this deep soul pain mirrored in the masculine and feminine

the "role" of a woman in these tantra practices is not the old idea of woman= passivity
i have been told before that i can be masculine, because i can be very directed and dominant
but look at the tantric goddesses, they are very powerful, so i think there is a place for a very powerful woman to meet with a very powerful man
and both give and take the dominant position in a natural flow
this dynamic calls both partners to be in their power, to face their weak places and to be humbled and grow
but what do i know?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

an open letter to my father on fathers day

fathers day 2012
venice, ca

hey dad
i wish i could honor you but i'm still so angry at you
and that's just the truth
my heart doesn't understand and still beats with love for you
but it's got no where to go, no where to flow
you won't see me face to face
all your shame of the past has you hiding from me

i'm 37 dad...
it's been over ten years
i wonder, do you miss me?
i wouldn't know how to walk away from my son
he's 19, i started young
you know the math
so many girls who have been abused have babies young
i pray everyday to be a good mom to my son
i'm still working out the shit from my own past

all around the world i work with women who are angry from the abuse of men
where can the healing come from?
we are all One

i wish i could see you, i wish we could have a cup of coffee
i wish i was free to pour my heart out to you
so i do it here
in an email
i always hated hallmark cards and holidays that are supposed to hide all the problems we have
happy birthday, merry christmas
and now happy fathers day
i wish i could honour you dad, but i'm still so angry at you
but i'll send this wish
cuz it's all we have
happy fathers day

i miss you
i am waiting for you
don't let it die this way
let's make a new story between a father and a daughter
i am waiting for you

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

viking heaven

tuesday, may 1
topanga canyon, california

can a dog go to valhalla, the viking heaven?

its 3pm, i have 2 hours and 50 minutes with my companion left
dogs love unconditionally
is it possible that this is our last cuddle?
the last time i cry and he is with me to lick my tears?
but this time i am crying to let him go

we both know it is time
we have cheated death for 2 months since the vet found the tumor that is growing so aggressively in his right shoulder. the tumor makes joey lame so he propels his body around by jumping like a bunny rabbit, but he has been in a lot of pain. this morning even the morphine didn't ease his pain and so his pain out weighs his joy and it is time to let go
i call the vet and make an appointment for 5:40pm 
strange to make an appointment with death

we've had a good run
the road trips and the hikes and the nights we have slept together
i am not putting my dog down i tell myself
i am putting him "up"
i held him in my lap and wept at his death and my grief
"i just want him to be ok" i cried
and then his pain subsided, he stopped crying and relaxed in my arms to sleep
i realized that he is going back to the Mother
to lay in her lap
from the great womb where we are all born and consumed in death to be re-birthed in countless forms

people comfort me, they say, "he is going to a better place"
well this was a pretty good place
i watched him sniff the air a few days ago as he stood outside
no more sniffing the air
it's the little things
my friends mom who was passing from cancer told her
"i haven't eaten enough ice cream, i haven't watched enough sunsets"
i wonder, has joey chased enough squirrels?
i feed him raw steak and cheese, he should die like a king

i curl around his warm body for one of the last times
i will drive him to the vet, to the appointment for the time of his passing
i got him when he was 3 months old at the pound
i didn't ask permission from my room mates and i didn't really have the money to take care of him and my young son
but i needed his love
to make up for all the love i was missing


i have to stay strong for him now, who has been strong for me
strong enough to know when to let go...

Valhalla Viking prayer
Lo, there do I see my Father..
Lo, there do I see my Mother
And my Sisters and my Brothers..
Lo, there do I see the line
Of my people back to the beginning..
Thay do bid me to take my place among them..
In the Halls of Valhalla,
Where the Brave may live forever.

travel well, little brother, unconditional companion, i will miss walking with you on the earth
may the valkyries, the fierce angels, escort you to heaven
may your spirit be free

Friday, February 17, 2012

karma kool aid

feb 10
Calcutta, india
Yesterday i was given a tour of the area I would be teaching yoga to the sex workers at in the Sonagachi neighborhood. i walked behind my guide through the crazy, suffocating back alleys where the sex workers live and work. There were children playing soccor in the streets next to piles of rotting food.

Women sat lined up against the brightly painted walls, in equally bright saris, all staring at me with black eyes rimmed in kajol as they wait to be selected by customers to be paid for pleasure or some fascimile of pleasure. their eyes looked back at me like the eyes of time, dark, glassy, unpenetrable. I feel fear and tightness in my lungs walking through the decrepit alleys that twist and turn, the buildings leaning in towards each other so that it stays cool in the brothel neighborhood, but doesn’t let in much light. The air is thick, moist and sweaty, not able to pass to the sky, it is recirculated through the bodies, creating a feeling of gloominess. Like water that becomes brackish when it can’t flow back to rivers and the sea. Water like that you aren’t supposed to drink, they call it “black water”, it doesn’t flow.
Sonagachi is a fully formed little universe, with all the sex workers and all the businesses that serve the sex workers and business of prostitution. There are chai wallahs sitting on stoops pouring the sweet brown liquid into the red clay cups that are a signature of Calcutta. There are carts full of fresh frying samosas and puri. The sticky smells of spices and sweat cling to my skin. Calcutta, city of joy, the laughter of the sex workers children rings through the alleys. Some of the children have just gotten out of school and are wearing their neat uniforms, the girls with their glossy black hair tied in braids and ribbons, they buy snacks at the street stalls. Lakshman says many of the women got here because someone married a poor girl and then sold them to sonagachi, to the madams and pimps who are part of the eco system of prostitution. It would be easy to descend into madness here, except that this is a place just like all other places, and there is a logic to survival. Above all, we find a way to survive.
I feel a strange sense of dread knowing I am coming back to teach yoga in a few days. I cannot explain this feeling, it feels like the sense of dread a warrior would know when battle is approaching. What battle am I fighting? What secrets of my own subconscious are being churned from deep in the sea within me? When I came last march I was alone. This time I am not alone. Lakshman is walking through the alleys ahead of me, as if god perfectly scripted for me to have a bodyguard, a steadying male presence that calms me. He came to teach them kalari, for self defense. And gabe is with me this time, his support means more to me than anything, that he is here seeing the work I have been doing all these years when he was back at home feeling I didn’t love him enough when I would leave for India.
When we emerge from Sonagachi back to the main road, with all the blaring afternoon rush hour traffic, it is as if we have been spat out of the womb, the thick, brackish air of the brothel opening to the grey Calcutta sky. We buy some roasted corn from a street vendors cart and head back to our guest house where gabe is waiting.

what are we here for?
i mean BIG, what are we here for?

we are here
to create some joy in this world. because as i watched the children kick the soccor ball, i thought, how strong is the drive to be alive. how strong is the desire to find joy and happiness however fleeting in these streets, in our own hearts. and i say this whole crazy fucked up ball of wax is mothers song to us, a hymn of heartbreak and love and peace when it descends upon us like the grace of a dove.

so raise your voices, make some art of this existence, why not? let's make beauty out of the chaos.
Feb 11
Calcutta, india
The blade falls, and blood pours out over the cement, the priest pulls the goats body away and the legs are still twitching while the heads rolls a few feet away.

we are in the kali ghat temple in Calcutta. The crowd to see the mother and get her blessing is crushing each other. People push and shove, no one is acting “spiritual”. We know a priest who cuts us in line, saving us about an hour of waiting. The woman we get cut in front of starts screaming, “why? Why?”. It is not fair, but today we are the ones cutting in line, tomorrow we may be the ones getting cut in front of. We have to firmly grip each others arms so that we don’t get pushed out of line. It is especially heightened as you get closer to the Mother statue. A fat police man starts grabbing people and throwing them out of the sanctuary. People are yelling, there is so much fighting in the temple. I say my prayers when it is my turn to stand before the statue, a primordial chunk of rock with three bright orange-red eyes staring back at me. Blood red eyes. Kali, the mother of birth and death, liberator. Then I am quickly shoved aside, my turn is over.
On the way out we stop at the sacrifice pit, where they are beating drums, burning incense and sacrificing goats. I stand on the steps and watch.
The blade falls again and again.
two goats
three goats
four goats
five goats
the goats crying stings my ears. Each time they sacrifice a goat I make the sign of the cross over my heart. I was born a Christian not a hindu.
forgive us father, for we know not what we do

after the round of sacrifice ends, I walk to the U-shaped chopping block and put my own neck to the metal where the goats heads were placed. There is still blood on it from the sacrifices.
mother, my life belongs to you
I leave a small rupee coin offering in the dish and we leave the temple.

Feb 13
Calcutta, india
today in the calcutta class for the sex workers i asked, "what is important to you? what are your biggest obstacles? what brings you hope?" my 19-year old son was in the class with me watching. i pointed to him and told them how i had been a teenage mom and had a hard time in society because i was an unmarried single mother, sometimes i would look at my child and not know how i would feed him and that was heartbreaking. one of the women said, "we are the same as you. we are sex workers because we have to be to feed our children. only to feed our children. a woman cannot leave her child. the men have left and now we do what we have to to feed our children. i have no attachment, i do not take the karma, because i am only doing my duty as a mother." i said, "i think there is a great pain in the world that the men are feeling too. how can we change the world? maybe when we raise our children we can change the world with them."

the woman who spoke shook my hand before she left the room. she said, "don't worry, we are with you" i am here to "teach" them, but they see the hunger in me for transformation in a suffering world and they are reassuring me. they are with me, she put her strength in her hand in my hand, she gave me the gift of solidarity. "we fight because we must. life has taught us to fight. everything alive fights to live and we have learned from nature." warriors. mothers. lovers. somehow this has brought me deep peace, a year ago it brought me outrage at the conditions they live in.

feb 17

kerala, India

The air in south India is warm and there is the smell of smoke rising from the little fire of coals in the kitchen where our hosts are preparing chapatis. Birds are calling to each other and the sound of horns in the distance fills the tropical air. We are in kerala where we have come to conyinue studying kalari with lakshman. We arrived on an overnight bus where I had a fitful sleep in a crawl space above the drivers head, my body pressed a few inches from the roof.

gabe called his girlfriend back in the states today and got some very bad news. His best friend, jimmy, the one who stole my car in the fall, was put in jail for hustling drugs.

That could have been my son.

That is not my son.

My son is here with me in India, he has stopped drinking because he grew tired of feeling fucked up all the time. How does Jimmy’s mom feel? According to gabe she is an alcoholic burn out who has a hard time getting her sentences out because of permanent damage. His dad used to be an alcoholic but quit. And jimmy is a short, charming street hustler who plays the guitar well and has good stories to tell but can’t keep himself from stealing from everyone around him. I hope jail changes him. Gabe says jail doesn’t change anybody for the better. “he’ll just get raped in the ass”. I shudder to think.

What happens to men in jail? My old room mate went to jail, I thought he would get eaten alive, a pale grey haired computer programmer with all the hardened gansters and felons. He told me there was a guy who kept picking on him, pushing to get him mad. They were in their cell one night and the other inmate said, “look up at that star in the window, that’s all you’re gonna see when I’m fucking you”. The guards came by and my old room mate got out and told them what happened and they kept him separated after that. My son could have been in jail with his friend. Young men who go to jail tend to spend the rest of their lives going in and out, they get “institutionalized”, so that jail with it’s regular schedule, 3 meals and a hard bed starts to feel more comfortable and safe than trying to make it in the outside world.

I can’t help but remember when I was in India a little over a year ago in varanasi and I called gabe the day before thanksgiving and he said he was smoking tweak and hung up on me. He said, “why are you in India trying to help people when your own son is in so much pain at home?”. I could not explain to him why I had to go, why I could not stay and give up my dreams to be a good minivan driving mother. I had to go to India because it was the fire of passion burning inside me, it is my path to acceptence of my pain with my own parents so I can love my son freely without the same samskaras.

It could have been the same this year. I could have been here in India trying to help the sex workers and gotten the phone call that gabe was in jail with jimmy. I think I would have died. But this time is different, he is with me, all those years of praying and ritual changed things inside me to make a way for us to have a better relationship.

Gabe feels a little guilty that he has left jimmy behind. I tell him no, he did what he had to to escape that fate for himself. I remember that pivotal afternoon in December when we sat in the IHOP eating a burger and fries and I asked him to come to India with me. He told me jimmy had done heroin for the first time. He said he had to get out of his situation before it got much worse. he saw the train wreck coming and got off that train, thank god. We light a candle for jimmy, the jail bird gutter angel tonight. May he see more clearly, may he be free. You never know what it takes for a person to hit rock bottom and change for good.

email home:

how many times when gabe and i were apart have i prayed
at the sundance with the native americans in south dakota
in the dergha with the sufis in istanbul
at the tantrik temple in india

i prayed:
please god protect my son when i cannot

and i was buying time
that i would be stronger through these practices and that nothing terrible,
nothing of permanent damage would happen to him in the meantime
please god, goddess
i asked the universe to have patience with me, with my son, to give us time

and i feel it did happen that way
we are together here now and transformation is possible

some of that really bad shit though, it don't change easy...
the bloodlines of our families and ancestry is carved deep beneath our skin
the patterns and habits that are carried by one generation
and placed on the backs of the next
seem like endless spirals, circles within circles that keep birthing themselves
and yet, the desire in me to transform the pain i carry from my parents,

from the abuses they suffered and then inflicted on me

has been so strong

many times i thought i was losing the battle or fooling myself
i have felt i have been moving blindly,

chopping my way through a chaotic storm for along time,
but i felt some lighthouse in the distance that i could not stop the storm

and i could not turn back
i had to stay on course even when i was blind
but something inside me was not blind, some inner compass was true
is this what we call faith?

all parents and children ache for each other in this way
our blood is our strongest religion

it has been a long 6 weeks in india

i look forward to hugs and sisterhood back in america at the shore of another sea