JOURNEY HOME--Finding the Way Back
I mean…it’s not just something you see every day, a grown man, crying like a baby, next to a river of fire meeting an ocean of water…
My lover Jimmy and I went visit the lava flowing from the volcano at Sunrise last Saturday morning, his last morning here. There, we watched a river of molten rock come down a mountain and meet the ocean with clouds of steam. It was a sight to behold...
Pele is the goddess who lives in the crater of the volcano. Hawaiians say that the flowing lava is the body of Pele, and that her body is of fire. People fear her because—well—a woman made fire is scary! But they also love her because she made this island. Literally ALL of the Hawaiian Islands were created by volcanos erupting! The lava spews out of a crack in the bottom of the ocean, and…an island is born.
So Pele—made of fire—destroys and creates new land when she flows.
We watched the lava flowing down the mountain, into the ocean, creating new lava rock, for 2 hours. I wondered how much land had been created in that amount of time alone! The river of fire was strong—like a waterfall of FIRE spouting over a cliff into the Pacific.
Tourists were all around, even at the break of day, taking pictures and shouting out all kinds of “ooos” and “AHHHHS”. Literally every minute was new, as clouds of steam and ash below in the wind, occasionally allowing us all to see the “waterfall of fire” from a quarter-mile away….
But with the exception of jubilant squeals of delight, I didn’t see any offerings being made to Pele…until I looked down…
There, literally at my feet, was a lei, decaying on the lava rocks. I couldn’t tell if it had once been made of flowers, or if it was simply woven from leaves. I’ve seen Hawaiians make leis with flowers—or without. In any case, someone had left this lei there, clearly, as an offering. How did I know? People don’t cast leis on rocks in Hawaii by accident….
Tobacco is expensive in Hawaii—$17 for a pouch. I had bought some the day before, for this purpose, and brought it with me. The fact that it was expensive only symbolized that it was harder to come by. We all know that the best gifts aren’t usually “quick and easy,” right? I could have grown the tobacco. But instead, I paid more. In any case, it was the perfect offering, because when I knelt down to put some tobacco in the center of the circle of the lei, something happened to me…
The “ooos” and “ahhs” and “squeeeels” of awed onlookers faded into the background, and I was alone. Even as my lover stood behind me, witnessing me, I was alone, at the foot of a volcano…a man, forehead down to rocks, alone…dwarfed by a HUGE mountain and in infinite ocean, and…I wept.
In my heart, I could see all of the faces of the people who had come to me in recent days, weeks…years—some crying, but most of them wanting to cry, but not. And so I cried…not just for me, the man who knelt alone at the foot of a mountain by a river of fire—but for ALL of the people who had not cried, who couldn’t or wouldn’t or thought they shouldn’t.
I cried for what seemed like a very long time. There was a woman standing no more than 3 feet away from me. She had literally been jumping up and down and squealing like a kid getting on a ferris wheel. I was so glad she was happy, and now, I wondered if she could hear me crying, down into the rocks. I could see myself there, crying. I wondered if other people saw. I mean…it’s not just something you see every day, a grown man, crying like a baby, next to a river of fire meeting an ocean of water…
And when I saw myself there, doing that…I cried harder.
I cried for you, an for all the women—and men—who couldn’t, wouldn’t, or shouldn’t.
Somewhere, deep down inside of me, I heard a voice saying, “Thank You. Thank you for your offering of sadness and grief. Thank you. I needed it.” I realized that Pele was thanking me for offering tobacco—and a whole lot more. There, I recognized the gift of sadness—the best gift I can give to the earth, water, and fire. Amen.
Hours have passed since I started writing. The birds still twitter in multiple voices. The sun is even warmer now. Life has blessed me. May each day of our lives be as easy as showing up, paying attention, and enjoying a swim in the Ocean of Humanity and a dive deep down into the heart of the Earth to offer her our grief…and our squeals of delight.
I love you!
SEXUALLY ECSTATIC, Ughhmm-ummm...HERNIA SURGERY--How MY COMMUNITY helped turn potential misery into PURE FUCKING FUN!
The Seed Dance--Embracing the Unknown
I live in in Asheville, North Carolina, and let’s face it—when it comes to out-of-this-world experiences, my hometown has a lot to offer.
But I have to admit, even as a veteran of perhaps one-too-many “New Age” events, last night’s Seed Dance still managed to catch this old-guard veteran off-guard. Think about it…for all of the focus on light, beauty, and bliss, it seems there often isn’t enough focus on the blood, the guts, and the depths of the darkness within the caverns of our souls. Without reaching down deep within, to grasp hold of the gooey innards that we’ve done our best to ignore, we can never fully know and love ourselves…and to ignore half of our own constitution is to ignore one partner in the sacred inner marriage of self.
What better time of year to take that deeper, darker journey within, to touch those unknown and unseen places--those vital jewels that we've done our best to overlook, stuffing them away into the closets we've left sanctioned for the "dark and scary".
Last night’s journey—The Seed: Blindfolded Movement Journey with PrayerformanceART —was a journey that a lot of us were in dire need of taking. Dominique Warfield, Matthew Romero, and a cast of co-inspirators carried a room full of very lucky people on a journey into the darkness and unknown, to retrieve the pieces of ourselves which were begging to be re-claimed...
What are you going to do, when you get together in a room full of creative, vibrant, and flowing people who like to dance, at a time of the year when—traditionally—our ancestors prepared to take the journey down deep into the Darkness, to fully celebrate and honor its beauty and prepare to re-emerge on “the other side,” renewed and ready for a new cycle of life? Harvest complete and feast done-devoured, what’s left over are the seeds. Warfield’s production—appropriately named “the Seed Dance,” represented the grand opportunity for each of us to glean and select the best seeds to be put away, stored, protected, and nurtured in the dark, until the light is ready to return again for a new spring….
Many associate “Ritual” with secrecy and mystery. For others, it's something to be cherished, kept safe from the eyes of those who might not understand. In many traditions, it’s prohibited to photograph anything during a ritual…and yet, it’s easy to forget that Ritual is the very Root of what we call Theatre. In our modern world, Ritual and Performance have become separate entities. Ritual is something far away—something you go to find in Mexico, Africa…or Siberia. Performance, on the other hand, is something you go to see at The Metropolitan Opera. Our modern-day society has literally divorced Performance from its intimate partner—Ritual. On some level, the two can never be separated, but if marriage is supported by the structure of a Family, Warfield and Romero are the priests who are needed to stage a re-commitment ceremony for the modern-day human family.
Lights dim. Stage set. We’re on the second floor, at least 12 feet above the sacred earth. And even though the traffic outside is not far away, the sounds of passing cars seem distant, in the silence which has been created in the sacred place we call Home. The “cast of characters”—Dominique Warfield, Matthew Romero, Julia Loretta, Genji Souren, and Jess-Sparrow—converge at the center. Loretta sings beautiful lyrical incantations. Cloaked in black, she represents the very darkness which we are invoking. My inner voice says, “the show is starting,” but before I know what’s happening, I feel as if I’m being drawn in, toward the center. A part of me begins to panic, as I try to grasp hold of the sensible part of myself, which says, “HOLD ON!”
“Center stage,” Loretta becomes the song she is singing, and Romero’s resounding, reverberant body—filled with life and voice—becomes the drum for this ceremony. Romero takes the form of a seed, even while still resounding as a human drum, and I start to feel that I have no other choice than to lose contact with the things of the world outside…
I let go. Some part of me knows that there is no reason to hold on anymore. In fact, I have every reason to let go. There might be a busy city street right outside, but it’s thanks to Dominique Warfield and her weeks, months—lifetimes—of efforts, that I can now let go and rest assured that I am safe now to journey, home.
You know, I’m no stranger to letting go. The realm of the unseen has become familiar terrain to me. I’ve let myself fall down to the beat of shamans’ drums from Italy to Siberia to New York City…but that still doesn’t make it any easier, when I reach the place where the lights end, and the unknown darkness looms….
Scenes from my life drift past me. I’m starting to see an image emerge in my consciousness. It’s an image of a guy I slept with in San Francisco 17 years ago. Why am I seeing this? Is this the vision of a one-night stand what I really want to be seeing during this trance-dance journey? Is this what I’m “supposed” to be seeing right now? I realize I have the will-power to change this vision, to see something else if I want to, but the Voice from deep within says, “Don’t try to figure it out. Just pay attention and let the vision carry you. You don’t have to be in control here. You’re right where you need to be. Just Let Go…”
Just Let Go…
To the accompaniment of a world-class music mix of mostly-original music created by Shamanique’s network of creative artists, I surrender…back into the dark…
He was on of those one-night stands I would never forget. Cute, adorable, hot as hell, fucking BUILT head-to-toe, and VERY hot in bed…but, ironically, those aren’t the reasons I remember him.
I had met him during that era of one-night stands that characterized my coming-out years. He was one of many—so many—and yet, I can’t say that I ever had a BAD one-night stand, nor that I ever regretted any of it…nope, not one fucking BIT of it!
But he was different. Why? Not because he was smoking sexy. Not because he lived in San Francisco at a time when young creative men could still afford beautiful apartments. No—the reason I remember him is because of the after-math.
The “after-math” of an incredible one-night stand was anxiety—anxiety, that maybe he, this beautiful, wonderful, bright-light spirit had given me AIDS.
I had fallen asleep in his arms that night. When I woke up, it was the next day. He was still smiling. We kissed goodbye, and then…when I got home….the panic. The panic set in, that maybe I hadn’t really been asleep, but had been “knocked out” by some drug he had hidden in the glass of water he put beside my bed. Yeah, maybe I had been “knocked out,” and in my void of unconscious darkness, he had infected me with HIV.
I lived in anxiety for a full month, waiting to live out that “30-day window”. I was working for an HIV education outreach program on the streets of the the inner city at the time, so I knew the drill—it could take up to 30 days after any suspected “exposure” for anything to show up.
My test came back negative. It keeps coming back negative, time after time, even after another half-a-lifetime of joyous, ecstatic love-making. The difference today, while I dance in Asheville 17 years after that night in San Francisco, is that I no longer live in fear.
Yes, today, here, dancing here in this room full of screaming banshees, I'm digging up that old casket full of irrational fears and prying open the lid to have another look. Inside, I see myself as a young man, scared, a bit naive, and relying on information delivered to me by a society who depends upon Fox News murder-mysteries as their information source. NOW from this future moment, 17 years ahead of that game, I can look back and bless that 25-year-old, irrationally afraid person that I still call "me".
Suddenly, as if in a lightning flash, as the techno sounds escalate, I find myself in the wilderness, where I once slept on the ground beneath an ancient pine tree, alone, in the middle of a high mountain meadow in Colorado. I went there in search of myself when I left San Francisco later that same year.
“Bum-Boom!” I hear the sound of a drum, but when I awake from my place beneath the tree, there is no one there. I am alone, just me and the tree. I am awakening within the dream, awakening within the vision I am seeing while I dance here, upright, to the cadence of the techno-drum, in a room full of people I can’t see. I awaken within my own dream, awaken on the ground beneath the tree on that high mountain meadow of my past…past, but now present, here!
I hear the call of coyotes in the distance, and an owl comes even closer.
I want to understand why I am seeing, hearing, and re-living these scenes from my life now, as I dance blind-folded in a room filled with 90% strangers, in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2015. It’s hard now to remember where in the world I am, what century I’m in, or…even WHO I am…
It occurs to me, on some deeply subconscious level, that part of what’s happening to me is the disappearance of ego—the vanishing of everything it means to say “I”. It can be a scary place to be, to say the least, but fortunately, this is not the first time I’ve been there, and this room full of people who can’t see me is a place where I’m encouraged to go deeper. In her opening words to us, Shamanique invited us to carefully consider our intention for the journey at hand. Mine was to trust and know in each moment that I am following my heart’s true guidance.
A hand touched me. The touch excited me. I didn’t expect this dance to be about touch, but clearly, now, I wanted it to be. I waited to see if the hand would retreat or touch again. Much to my delight, it caressed by body, my whole torso, from the scruff of my beard to…my abdomen. Whoever was touching me was doing so with full consciousness and care. Had the touch been anything less than fully considerate, I would have chosen to back away from it, but…
I stayed. I touched the hand with enough tenderness and care so that the human who was attached to it would know that I relished this touch, and that I was open to continuing the touch—or not. I recognized it as the hand of a woman.
It felt good. Everywhere she touched me was orgasm. I became surprised by my own excitement—a guy who mainly likes guys, at an event that was probably never intended to excite me this way. But it did. I was only wearing tights. I knew everybody could see me there…in all of my excitement...but then I remembered—-everybody was blindfolded! So I continued my dance, aware that only the facilitators might notice, and hoping that these Shamans of modern times would allow me to fully dance in my power. After all, like Jesus, like the Dalai Lama, like Mother Theresa…I’m a Tantrica. I can’t shut out my life force…especiallly when I’m committed to an intuition like “follow your heart’s truth in every moment”!
Is it too scary to follow your heart’s truth? Not here, not now, not in the space and time beyond space and time, which is beyond Asheville, WAY beyond the 21st century, beyond this room full of blindfolded people, each dancing their own journey…
And so I followed it.
The hand retreated. I made myself open. My arms and heart were open. The invitation was there. My new friend could come in to dance with me…or she could leave…and still, I would be there, dancing, ecstatic, gleeful, and fully ALIVE!
In the darkness I dance. Shamanique tells us all that we can remove our blindfolds if we want to dance without them. But I’m having WAY too much fun with mine on! I mean, really…I can SEE BETTER with a blindfold on!
Image after image, scene after scene, drifts past the back of my blindfold-anchored eyelids. To repeat them all here would mean writing a book—and maybe I should. The Shamanique experience last night was just the reminder I needed, that within each one of us lives an infinity of stories, scenes, faces, songs, and people from this life, this place, this past, this future, and that world beyond what we see every “normal” day of our lives. This place, this dance, gave me a place to safely take that journey, backwards and forwards—but, most of all, DOWN deep into the depths of my heart’s reservoir of truths.
Yes, Shamanique….clearly, you KNOW of that infinity, that immense well of Truth that lives within every human heart. Thank you for helping us get back there, too. Thanks to you, we’ve been given a place to each re-member ourselves—to put it all back together, for ourselves, our loved ones, and this world. Thank you. Amen, and All Our Relations.
This is an unusual blog for me. My intent is to write more about the so-called "everyday experiences" in between the "supernatural" ones. In actuality, every day here on Earth is a supernatural experience, so the difference between heaven and hell on Earth, I suppose, is in how we perceive it and what actions we decide to take...
WHAT HAPPENS to a relatively balanced, generally happy guy when he files USAirways? I, unfortunately, found out last Monday at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The result: you can find happiness in Hell, but it might be a whole lot easier if you DON'T fly USAirways. Soon, you won't be able to fly USAirways anyway because it's merged with American, so...let's hope it gets better.
The picture in the middle is what I generally look like on a good day--sparkly-eyed and quite happy.
The pictures on either side show you what happens to a generally-nice guy when he gets stranded in Charlotte Douglas International Airport
with SCREAMING, SHOCKINGLY RUDE USAirways personnel for 5 hours.
The good news is that I made the most of the situation. Charlotte airport fortunately has a unique layout. You can escape USAirways hell by going to the very center of the airport, where all the concourses meet in a central promenade lined with rocking chairs! Thanks to Emily, the volunteer musician playing a grand piano, my layover became a new exercise in simply dropping in and appreciating the beauty of humanity--far removed from USAirway's crazed "Concourse E," where the elderly and toddlers lay passed-out left and right on the floor, while USAirways personnel screamed at them over loud speakers.
Yes, Emily...volunteer musician at Douglas International Airport...my hero! She saw the guitar I was carrying. (I travel with it everywhere, even though USAirways always gives me flack about it). She asked me to sing with her. So we sang "Margaritaville" and "Sweet Caroline". She asked me to sing one for her, so I sang "Ochi Chernye" (Black Eyes), a classic Russian song with a Gypsy flair. The restaurant hostess just beyond the grand piano suddenly lit up like a Christmas Tree. She was a Russia native. Instantly, I had made friends. I almost missed my "re-booked" flight that USAirways had put me on, 5 hours after they had caused me to miss my original connection!
Yes, last Monday in Charlotte airport...a testimony that there is hope, even if you have to fly USAirways. Personally, I've decided I don't think I'll ever fly USAirways again unless I absolutely have to...but I'm going to make an extra effort to book my flights through Charlotte, with longer layovers, to see my friends on the rocking-chair promenade.
The time had come to go to the river to make offerings. Yesterday, it was rose petals for the women who've long waited to be honored. Today, in my bicycle basket, wrapped in red cloth and contained in soft little packages, I carried an offering in the name of Men...
The wheels of the old rusty bike churned....forward...fast...furious...tears welling up in my tear ducts and streaming down my face, even as I dodged traffic.
We do this for all men, I thought. We do it for all the men who couldn't, all the men who wouldn't, and definitely for all the men who thought they shouldn't.
"I need to find courage," he'd said to me. We had been casual, life-throbbing hot lovers for several years. We would get together maybe once every couple of weeks, for one specific purpose: WONDERFUL, FUN SEX! This time, I had made one specific request of him. During the throes of our passion, I pulled my face back from his luscious, wonderful lips, looked into his eyes and said,
"Hey--do you have anything you want to wish for? I'm going down to the river today, and when I go there, we get to make a wish. So whatever you're most wishing for, now is the time to let it be known."
He didn't look surprised. By now, he knew how much I loved to use HOT SEX to FUEL my consciousness, TRANSFORM my reality, and CREATE HEALTH and well-being for myself and others in my life. Together, we had learned how to harness our hot sexual fun and use it for our greater good. We knew we lived in a world where people said that SEX was something you had to PROTECT yourself from, so we had set out, long ago, to treat our PLEASURE as a life-giving source of good health, vitality, and...
"Courage," he said. "I need to ask for courage--the courage to ask myself 'What needs do I have that need to be met FIRST,' and the courage to fully live my life."
"All righty then, you fucker," I told him with a salacious grin, "You asked for it!" I pinned him down by arms--and legs--down to the bed, and whispered my most filthy secrets into his ear.
This time, condoms had a function much more powerful than "protection". We both put them on, together, and prepared to catch our offerings for Earth, River, Life, and Courage. Today, as was often the case, our sex wasn't focused on goals such as penetration. Instead, we wrestled, sweated, screamed, laughed face-to-face, kissed passionately, and moved our bodies together, bucking, writhing, and sliding around in our own sweat. Our intention: To generate as much erotic excitement as possible, and to harness that energy to fuel our dreams.
I could feel his orgasm coming. We had both been riding the wave for what seemed like hours...that sweet edge where breath and movement and sound can prolong the euphoric goodness of orgasm almost indefinitely. Either one of us could choose to cum at any time. Signaling complete let-go, each of us surrendered to shouts, screams, and passionate embraces of COURAGE, EXHUBERENCE, AND VITALITY FOR LIFE.
"We're fully ALIVE," I laughed out loud with him, over and over, as we cut loose and then drifted down that sweet river of after-glow bliss. "We've got full vitality, passion, and courage," I said, over and over, as our breathing patterns gradually returned to normal.
I arrived at the river and pushed my bicycle through the tall weeds, toward the high banks. I was approaching the water, unwrapping my offerings, when two men appeared. They walked by me as if they didn't see me. I couldn't tell whether they were intentionally ignoring me or if they really didn't see me, so just in case, I called out, "Hey there! "
They turned in acknowledgement, and so I continued with the words, "I wasn't sure if you saw me, and I..."
"I hope we're not disturbing you," one of them said kindly, carrying a bottle of wine and walking out onto the horizontal tree which perched like a perfect bench over the water. Evidently, this wasn't such a "secret spot".
"No, you're not disturbing me," I said. "The problem is that I might soon be disturbing YOU because I'm going to be making some offerings to the river. I didn't want to surprise you when I suddenly start screaming, shouting, or crying."
"You go right ahead, bro," the one man said to me. "Just pretend we're not here. Hey--what are you doing, anyway? Is it some kind of meditation?"
Wow, I must be in Asheville, I thought. "No," I told him, "it's not a meditation, but if I try to explain it to you, I might lose touch with what I'm doing, so..."
"Sure man, yeah. Sorry to disturb you." With that, the two of them went to sit down on the tree, open their bottle of wine, and light up a hand-rolled...cigarette, and I...I proceeded down to the water's edge to open my...package...
Now I'm at the River to make our offering. I do it for both of us. I do it for all of the war-torn men who hurt. I do this to transform our grief and our anger to full, conscious sanity. I do this so that we can be whole and complete, free of our burdens, and available here on Earth for our lovers, our friends, our families, and not least of all--ourselves.
As I poured the offerings from their packages and watched them diffuse into the flowing waters, I felt so liberated! I knew I would write about such things. I knew that my writing would be part of the ritual. I knew that my words--like these waters--would go everywhere. And so now, they do. Milk and Honey to the River. Amen, and Blessed be.