Fish Heart

A bit of silliness perhaps, but sincere silliness:

Fish Heart

Oh Beloved, cast your line!
My heart is ready for your hook
to pierce the living red flesh
and spill through that ragged hole
my hot pain, into the cooling water
unknowably vast.

When you have caught me,
draw the line taut –
my heart struggles against what it wants
but yearns to be pulled hard
until, breaking the surface stillness
and flying through the wild open air,
this little silver fish
falls, flapping and panting
into your hand.

Everything is recycled.

Have you seen? is now!

Why? Two reasons:

1. THOSE FREAKING ADS ARE GONE!!! (Don’t get me wrong, I understand WordPress needs to make money, and I appreciate very much all the free services that the presence of ads has made possible over the years, but I did not get to choose what they were, and most of the time they were not things I would have supported.)

2. Now I can host sound files! So, watch for chant recordings to show up here — as I complete them — which is right now a slow process. But as the old sages said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single URL. 🙂

Thanks for reading! Love to you!



Trance Dance

Last night I had the unusual and lovely experience of assisting Sam at a trance dance he was leading. It was totally spur of the moment — I had planned to go to another, earlier group meeting but didn’t get off work in time. So I’d just found myself uncommitted for the evening when he texted to say more people had RSVP’d for his event than he’d counted on and he was desperately seeking a helper. I’d done it before (and Sam had very generously taken my car waaaaay south for a free oil change just that very afternoon) so I said sure, I’d do it.


Sound and light

Sam’s ecstatic dance events blend shamanic breathwork with a type of blindfolded conscious movement practice that we first learned from Vic Day and the MidMOtion Collective when we lived in Missouri. Participants have an inner journeying experience in a group environment. My job: keep folks from slamming into walls or whapping each other on the head while dancing to world music with their eyes covered by a bandana. And, he said, I could slip out before everyone “came back” at the end of the dance, and still have some time to myself that evening.

It has been a couple of years since I’ve played the part of trance dance helper, and it was interesting to see how Sam’s style of maneuvering people away from collision has evolved. I found myself trying to gauge what was about to be a gentle physical interaction and what could be a painful smack — and get out of the way of the former while attempting to prevent the latter. I didn’t want to err on the side of caution, because I know that the negotiation of energetic boundaries can be an important aspect of the experience for the dancers. On the other hand, nobody wants a kick in the elbow while they’re peacefully doing a yoga headstand.

A few times I also caught myself thinking something like “No, it should be this way, not that way” — and I had to tell my “take charge” part to take a step back.

The dance space

Most of what I did was simply watching the dancers and feeling the energy and trying to create a container that was safe but not obtrusive. I wanted to be like the walls of the space, sturdy and reliable — so much so that you never have to think about the work the walls are doing. But unlike the walls, I moved among the dancers. In reflection I can see that this, too, was a dance.

A different kind of dance, though — one in which I had full access to my sight. And I’ll admit that the “I can see you but you can’t see me” thing made me a little uncomfortable. When I caught myself admiring the fluidity of one bearded, dreadlocked guy’s spiraling flow, I noticed myself feeling like I was somehow cheating by watching someone’s private dance.

And when I saw this other girl curled up on the floor with her hands covering her head — then watched her slowly, slowly start to move — and finally lift her face and raise her chest upward — so that I could practically see the light pouring from her clawed-open heart — and tears sprung to my eyes, I told myself — stop it now — you’re projecting.

Well, sure. A room full of blindfolded people expressing their souls’ primal movement is pretty much a blank canvas for projection. I’m looking at them and seeing aspects of myself. And I’m also appreciating the uniqueness of each person’s steps which, all together, including mine, make up the Dance.

Later it occurred to me that witnessing could itself be a valuable part of this ritual. Sam reflected that to me as well when he commented that I’d seemed to be trying to disappear into the woodwork all evening and I admitted my discomfort with what felt like a voyeuristic position. 

“No,” he told me, “People actually like knowing that you’re watching them — watching over them, really. It makes them feel safe, protected, free to explore the outer reaches of movement. ”


By the time the pounding drumbeats had smoothed out into oceanic tides of gentle sound, and the dancers were all lying on their backs, blissed out, it had become clear to me that I couldn’t exactly leave. It would feel too strange — like the closed container had sprung a leak before arriving at its destination. Although sitting in the sharing circle was the part of the ceremony I least looked forward to — feeling awkward as a watcher among the temporarily sight-deprived — I knew I had to join in. 

It’s funny how I always assume people are making negative judgments about me, and they’re only waiting for a lull in the conversation to spit them out. Does everyone do that? I certainly expected these cute young Boulderites to see me as a strange hulking ghost whose purpose was mainly to disrupt their shared intimacy with my weird silent vibes. 

What they actually told me:

“In my mind I think of you as Rainbow Lady … Holding the sacred space.”

“You had such a beautiful energy. You grounded the whole ritual.”

“Your name is Angie? Oh, like an angel, of course.”

“You really brought it, girl!”

This, accompanied by many hugs, without my asking for any feedback at all.

How striking that if I could have, I would have skipped that part entirely. And I never would have heard any of that — because of my fear of being dissed by the in crowd. 

Who says they’re in? And who says I’m out? 

Maybe in reality, I have more freedom AND more safety than I think. Maybe it’s me who chooses to move in and out of circles as they suit my needs in any given moment — or as I am called by a power greater than myself. Maybe my whole dance of life is like my dance last night — gliding from my place of watchfulness on the sidelines, to active intervention where I see I can help, to, when my courage is great enough, open and vulnerable relationships with other human beings. 

With my eyes open, I have more choice, and more responsibility. I have more opportunities to practice compassion for others and for myself. 

 In this sketch I tried to represent some hint of the presence of music as a physical force, sound waves that filled the room and wrapped our moving bodies like swaddling clothes. Out of this chaos, something was surely being born. 

Shiva altar

Spirit Soothers

I am not someone who believes that my life was better before smartphones existed. I love my hand held digital devices. They make me feel like I’m on Star Trek. And for people like me who are not gifted with natural social ease, email and texting have opened far more possibilities for communication than they’ve closed. (That, of course, could be a whole other post.) I like the electronic word and I’m not ashamed to admit it!

But … There can be such a thing as too much. My job involves planting my face in front of a massive Mac screen for 8 (or – usually – more) hours each day. Then I go home and, for fun, put up websites. It gets to where I can feel my eyeballs vibrating from the continual barrage of photons. And even though the vast majority are “friendly fire,” when the range is point blank, the impact is significant.

And I think I feel the onslaught more acutely when I’m in a relatively more energetically open state. Earlier this summer I was lucky enough to attend a couple of camps that had an opening effect on me, even as they showed me where and how I could perhaps exercise a little healthy discrimination in terms of what I’m inviting in.

In the weeks following those camp experiences, I find that some things I’ve typically thought of as relaxing and pleasurable – don’t feel that way just now. For example, I’m having a hard time making myself sit down and watch a tv show – even one I ordinarily enjoy – even in a format with no commercials. Even if I actually WANT to catch up on a story I’m curious about.

What do I want to do instead?

Well, I’ve become more aware lately of activities that have what I perceive as a soothing effect on my spirit. The sensation is like Throat Coat tea for the soul. Or, as in this description I just encountered in The Arabian Nights: “coolth of my eyes,” suggesting, as the footnote to this curious phrase says, 

Arabic “Kurrat al-ayn”; coolness of eyes as opposed to a hot eye (‘sakhin’), I.e. one red with tears. The term is true and picturesque so I translate it literally. All coolness is pleasant to dwellers in burning lands …

— translator Sir Richard Francis Burton

I read that and thought, Dang. That describes it perfectly. 

I’m sure all of these things are pretty much “duh” in terms of what to do to energetically recover from digital overstimulation. But they have been refuge for my heart, medicine for my mind, and balm to my spirit.

1. Paper

Interacting with paper instead of a screen: reading books, writing letters, drawing pictures in my sketch pad with an old fashioned pencil.

2. Nature

Specifically – going to places where I can hear the wind, but not the sound of traffic.

3. Acoustic music

Lately I’ve found my way back to instrumental folk and classical music – and it’s like I’ve been wandering through neighborhoods I’ve never seen before, right in the middle of towns I thought I knew.

4. Water

(especially water that’s outside, and especially especially, water that I can be in without any clothes on)

5. Art

Since I already mentioned drawing, here I’ll note how satisfying it has felt to create art in public places – like this mural I was invited to help with, which is on the wall of the studio my housemate is turning our garage into.


I did the yellow. 🙂

And you know, it was past my bedtime when they invited me to this painting party, on an evening I had set aside for self care through physical, mental, and emotional rest. But as soon as I had a brush in my hand I knew on a visceral level that this WAS a type of rest that I was also deficient in: rest for my spirit.

Rest from interacting with human arguments and demands. Rest from mechanized processes. Rest from filtering all that which is poisonous and trying to make it clean. In a way, painting felt just like floating in a pool of liquid light.

Ok, I still needed sleep. But even before I went to bed that night, I felt like I’d already had a pretty sweet dream.