A remarkable life off the grid

candlenight

I had little time in this past ‘Templebody’ tour (a recent 5 month globe trot at the end of 2015, teaching and giving sessions) to write what was happening throughout that magical journey. One morning I woke up in the middle of the night in England and wrote this piece, lost perhaps in a bit of poetic waxing for the intense feeling of silence I was surrounded by, but hopefully it conveys a bit of what I feel is one of the most beautiful places I stayed on this voyage. I offer it as a gift to the friends who inspired it….

I have woken up at two a.m with a full October moon shining in through the circular skylight above me in the handmade home I am sleeping in. The skylight frames the full moon like a perfect painting and its intensity shines onto the white duvet I’m so happily curled within.The power of the moon seems to make the duvet a light souskylighthebrce of its own and this casts a surreal, ghostly luminescence that reflects against the wooden walls and the wooden ceiling – this wood spiraling above me to create the massive skylight itself, bedoffering a window to the outside world in this sudden moment of wakefulness. The silence would be eerie if it wasn’t so magical, deep and penetrating, rising up from the earth, telling stories I can barely hear that ask me to wake up and write.

I am sleeping on the Moors, sharing the same land where the Bronte sisters used to live not so long ago, just a few fields and a number of sheep away from their home. This is a powerful land of rolling vistas where Wuthering Heights – the famous English novel – was birthed by Emily Bronte. An introvert who never had much connection with anyone outside of her immediate family, she gave birth only to this work of art and then died the year after it was published. She was only 30 years old and likely died of tuberculosis, brought on by the harsh weather of the land and a weak viewbody due to possible water contamination from the graveyard nearby.

Their water source was runoff from the local church graveyard and a morbid consideration runs through my mind of the family literally drinking of death every day as they pulled water from the well. Death was indeed a frequent event in her short life. Her mother died when she was three and most of her siblings died before she did, except her sister, Charlotte, who outlived them all and became the other famous Bronte writer.

Emily died on the couch at home on a cold December day less than a week before Christmas at the age of 30, having no idea of the impact her writing would bring to the greater world of literature, songs and film as the years rolled on like the moors themselves. She knew only that her novel became quite controversial, and many people despised it for its intensity and lack of Victorian convention when it came to emotions.

The wind is incredibly strong outside as I write. The trees are blowing and without sounding like I’m trying to wax poetic I have to say that each time I’ve been here I wait for the sound of tree branch scratching against glass in the middle of the night as Cathy calls from a formless body for her Heathcliff. I can feel how the energy here created the story she wrote. The moors are ancient and I have just woken from a prophetic dream that has told me something quite important about things about to become my life that I need to be aware of. This is the third time I’ve been here visiting dear friends and each time the land, and the feeling it evokes in me, amazes me with its depth of silence and spirits. Waking and sleeping here is like living in a novel.

To begin describing the remarkable house I am staying in, I will start with the bath I took before bed. It was an extremely hot bath filled with essential oils. bathThis wouldn’t seem an extraordinary thing if it weren’t for the fact that the entire home I am staying in lives solely off the land and was built by hand from everything reconditioned. It is built within, and encircled by, the old green mossed stones that only sheep used to ingreen stoneshabit to keep out of the cold by staying huddled together with a good windbreak. Inside, this house looks like a piece of art, complete with steaming bath, shower, electrical lights, heating and water…..all off the grid and built entirely without permission.

Steam from my bath filled the room lined in wood, the water having been drawn from old culverts built in the 1800’s by Irish slaves – culverts designed to bring water to all parts of the moors for the orchards and the sheep. open culvertOld, reclaimed windows artistically filled the walls around me and I drew pictures through the steam onto the glass as I soaked in candlelight reflections. bath2The windows look out onto darkness, and within the darkness, beyond the moss-green stones keeping us hidden from the world of laws, I knew there were only trees in occasional huddles, and larger stone walls that criss cross the mostly open land where this homemade hobbithouse my friends have built, resides. The stone walls were built in a time that is long forgotten yet still present on these rolling hills in their alternating wet and then blue skied days.

I am writing in the centre of a home completely made by thrifty hands, which is nestled within this stone enclosure that shares the space with three beautiful trees that cover the hobbit house so that no one can find it. Strawberries and moss cover the roof so that it is entirely invisible from every angle. Living off the grid and building your own place with your own hands without someone else’s permission is illegal in a world that works on different time than these storytelling Moors. My friends live on the edge, not only of the world, but on the edge of what the world of rules deem as appropriate.

I have never seen a place like this. Not only is it artistic and beautiful, it is also warm and sensual and made completely – can I say again – of recycled material. It was built for the practical reason that a place to live – aside from the former yurt that had lived out its days – was needed. The materials to build it had been accumulating for some intuitive project or another by my friend whose name I won’t mention just to keep it all a big secret….and he has built a masterpiece.

We eat to the bottom of our bowls a comfort stew cooked slowly over the day on the wood stove. The warmth and sustenance tastes of things that remind me of how well we’re taken care of….when it is windy and cold outside but inside you’re warmed by a fire with a heart full of love. insidedayWhere tea and cozy sweaters and purring cats mark out your minutes in an orchestration of life in its sweetest, most tranquil moments. I am here by the grace of a friendship that started with the maker of the stew as well as the home ~ a woman I met over 25 years ago when we were under twenty and sharing a life and an apartment in the South of France. There have been so many moments I have looked at her these past few days, been grateful for the ease of our friendship, always at home in her company and that of her partner. I have been marveling at how time flies, as if it were all just yesterday, like old people used to say when I was young. Younger.

The wood stove in the living room has a boiler at the back of it that heats water as the fire is stoked throughout the day. Fresh copper pipes pull water from a tank outside that connects to the culvert stream of Irish slave sweat, further down the hill. The culvert graciously offers fresh water on a continual basis to the tank that fills in the heat of the wood stove. The heated water is then pushed out through pipes that circulate through the domed kitchenhobbit house and the cooled water goes back into the tank to be reheated. In this way, steaming hot water is provided for the shower and the bath. There is electrical lighting that uses speaker wire my friend has had for many years (in case it was ever needed) that is hidden behind wood dinnerspotartfully and which attaches to old batteries that sit in the outdoor ‘kitchen and pantry’. Inside there is a coleman stove for tea and a small cutting board, bread, cheese, fruit and nuts. Food is bought for the day it is needed and refrigeration is only the cool of nights outside if needed, and nothing is wasted.

The entire structure is enforced by a massive half-globe shape of strongly welded metal. The man who built this home received it for free from a show hosted by Disney or some other conglomerate with a lot of money. They had spent 10,000 pounds building it, and gave it away, finding nothing else constructive to do with it. My friend built the house around it so it has a solid core that can hold the structure together. 

The old chicken coop – now that all the chickens have disappeared, having been eaten one by one courtesy of  foxes since I was here last – has been made into an outhouse. If you can imagine a classy old chicken coop of an outhouse, this is it. It is walled inside, with pictures hanging for your viewing pleasure.  The toilet seat is carved, smooth wood with a piece of art of a mirror hanging behind and above it. coopdayWindows flank a view onto various kinds of bushes and trees that share the vegetable allotment that initially began the story years ago of my friend-the-builder living here. Red and black currents grow around nettles that poke out everywhere, a cacophony of fruits and food and herbs, some largely unknown, abundantly offer themselves in an orgy of organized green. At night, the christmas lights around the mirror over the toilet shine from a solar connection by day that keeps the chicken coop alight all night so you can find your way there easily in the dark. The contents this outhouse collects (in a plain plastic bucket beneath visitors) is composted completely and then used as fertilizer around all of the plants. I had no idea human shit could be used as fertilizer….I don’t know why that seemed such a strange concept as it was explained to me. It likely has something to do with the cultural Cartesian hangover we’ve been handed, believing ourselves to be different animals, greater ones, than the ‘animals’ of the earth…and our shit is only good for flushing away as if it never happened. Perhaps.

The home here took around ten thousand pounds to build, mostly for the skill of a local carpenter who helped build it, and that’s around 15 thousand US dollars. Bit by bit funds and wood and glass and window frames and pieces were found. flooringThe floors are old foundry flooring that was black with soot and the accidentally spilled blood of  men over many years, and each plank was sanded down by machine until one could find the grain again. The door is a circular one, to make the hobbit house complete, with iron holds and handles to open them made of old leather from horse girdles my doorsfriend has kept for over thirty years, waiting for the perfect project.

Some of the wood that provides the support for the roof over the outside deck is old oak of the kind that can no longer be found around here. It is only known that it comes from an old English ship from the 1700’s that was left on a property for years waiting to be used for something else, covered in Nettles until my friend uncovered them. As he points them out to me he says that he would love to know more of where they came from and for all he knows slaves were chained to them…he knows they carry stories that are timeless and hidden forever. He wonders about them every time he looks at them and now they help hold his hobbit house up.

hobbitopendoorWood is everywhere. Old wood. Copper pots, candle sticks and old bits and pieces in and all over this small Yorkshire town. We would only find such items in an antique store in North America, whereas here they live in it everyday. There is something about the texture of living in natural wood, not bleached or painted, just wood, old and sincere about its origins. Something timeless about the smell of the air. Something that makes me feel like no matter what the weather, there is always something taking care of us – the earth, the wood, the friends, the stew, the tea, the laughter and the love. Something that when I am not with the earth, or when I am in modern environments of metal and steel I cannot feel as readily.green man

I am going to go back to sleep now under the full moon. I am grateful that I live in a time where wood still exists and stands on this planet despite mans best efforts at blind eradication, and the earth still speaks to us in prophetic dreams as I drift in the timeless arms of friendship. One day, I will dream, the world will be filled with hobbit homes and we will always know, each and every one of us at every moment, how well we are taken care of.

buddha

Where Chinese Pulse system and Hindu Chakras meet

Kiiko Matsumoto is a fireball of Japanese knowledge with deft fingers that insert acupuncture needles with ease and assuredness for the benefit of students who lean expectantly on the edges of their seats.

She has authored a good handful of books and is internationally known for her scholarly work on Acupuncture. She interprets Chinese medical classics that the rest of us wouldn’t know how to access, let alone know how to read.

She chuckles throughout her classes – sometimes at sources only she cares to understand – smokes cigarettes with flair between breaks and tolerates no question she doesn’t find intelligent enough.

“Why you ask that question?” she demanded of me once, “No stupid question. Only good question. What you want to know?” and the sharp glint in her eye is an easy invitation to quickly reassess my needs before I open my mouth again.

I love her workshops because I get to hear more of the classic ancient texts in an environment that makes the knowledge applicable regardless of whether I am using a needle or my hands. Learning classic texts means learning how energy flows through the body in all its intricate forms. All this ancient information hasn’t even had a chance to arrive on our shores yet and it is the Chinese and Japanese masters of today that give us glimpses into vast systems of knowledge. The results of their treatments speak for themselves. The more you know of western and eastern sciences, the more you can see into the body, and the better you can treat.

One day, Kiiko was describing the pulse system. In Acupuncture, the human pulse is read in the same place as it is in Western medicine – on the radial artery on your wrist – but in Chinese medicine it is also read in three positions and at three depths of those positions, giving us nine different compartments in which to read distortion in the body. These different compartments represent three levels of the body – upper, middle and lower – and represent different meridians in those levels – Lung, Spleen and Kidney Yang on the right wrist and Heart, Liver and Kidney Yin on the left.

I have always wondered why the meridians are organized in that order, and this day she began explaining that it made sense that they lay on the parts of the wrist that they do, because that’s how the energy flowed in the body. ‘Of course’ she seemed to imply, like there was nothing more to say, and she turned to the blackboard and continued on with the workshop.

I had to ask. I sneaked my hand up carefully like a flower looking for sunshine on a cloudy day. I cleared my throat. I asked, “How is it that the energy runs that way in the body?” and she spun around and gave me that ‘stupid question’ look.

“Because that’s the life cycle of the body!” she said, almost rolling her eyes and then she looked at my face and laughed.

She walked to the board and drew what looked like a caduceus, or a double helix. Two lines that weave back and forth in a serpentine fashion that illustrate three levels – the upper, middle and lower parts of the body. She pointed to the first side at the top, on the left of the body. “Heart, right? Heart in upper left side of body”. I nodded. 

She followed the helix to the middle section on the right side where it led to. “Liver, right? Liver in middle of right side of body”. Again, we nodded.

She continued the line of the helix back to the left side of the body at the lower portion of the abdomen. “Kidney. Lower body always refers to Kidney.”

She moved over to the Kidney Yang side on the lower right side of the body, up along the helix to the left side of the body in the middle, to the area where the Spleen and Stomach both lie under the ribs. She finished up at the top where she began and pointed out that Lung sits on the right side as Heart sits on the left, even though they both ‘govern’ the upper section – the chest.

And in this way, Kiiko Matsumoto taught me that there is a relationship between Chinese Medicine and the lifecycle that comprises the chakra system, even though there is no mention in the Chinese texts, as taught in the West at any rate, that refer to this ancient Hindu system. Without that link, it appears as if the meridian system and the chakra system are different, and yet, as we shall see, they are actually inextricably linked.

 

On Annanaki, conspiracy theories and the role of sacred geometry within the madness…

I am going to lose friends here. I may even lose colleagues I care about too. I am going to be an iconoclast, if the new gods be the evil manipulating aliens that we are now to fear rather than fear itself.

Ok, I admit. My work is about sacred geometry. It is about frequency of the nervous system and the geometric harmonies we witness in everything from nature to sound vibration to the innerconnectedness of all things. It’s being discovered in physics. It’s on everyone’s T-shirt now. People are seeing geometry and how it offers us a language like a new alphabet that makes communication between otherwise seemingly disparate tongues understand one another.

Maybe I should read Zechariah Sitchin’s book – you know the one? Everyone seems to be referring to it, regurgitating the ideas as if they found them themselves, weaving the ideas to fit their own nomenclature of a landscape we are just beginning to explore and are very confused about.

Do you know about this book? Without having read all the research and explanations as to exactly how or why, it runs like this: Gazillions of years ago – I forget how many now but more than I know how to count – aliens created us out of advanced playdough, killed off ten of our twelve DNA strands to keep us in the dark, and used us to mine gold. The aliens needed gold. Somehow their need for gold and the harvesting of our chaotic energy into sound resonance that they can siphon for their own needs are connected, and we are a slave race that has been manipulated and must be very afraid of who they are and what their plans for us may be.

Now this may be true, and I don’t know. However, the main thing that’s important here is that I’m not sure who does know this for sure, but everyone seems to be jumping on board. We need to be afraid, is the message, and if it’s not anthrax or the political evil that is guaranteed to be consciously killing the human race to keep our population down, it is the aliens who are sucking life out of us as we live and die in ignorance.

Mark Twain said “Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it”, and this sums up, for me, the whole question around if our government is trying to kill us or if the shadow of our own fear, ignorance and greed are harvesting some tragic planetary results. Alongside a great deal of frightening speculation by a population afraid of our own shadow…We may be the stupid people doing stupid things because we are an evolving race of frightened people.

The Buddhists say there is Bright Faith and Blind Faith, and I have never forgotten this lesson I learned in my early twenties in an ashram in Thailand. Bright Faith is when you know something from direct experience. Listen to a philosophy, like Buddhism they say, and take nothing as true unless your own application of the philosophy becomes a vital, visceral, living truth for you. Blind faith, conversely, is when you believe something because you have been told it, and this truth is specious and not to be trusted if you have no personal proof of it.

This, I feel, is the backbone of where intellect meets intuition and must be used as the ruler of all personal experience and opinion. One cannot read a book or listen to a lecture and believe it to be true. It worries me when I hear rooms of people in explosions of laughter and clapping when hearing the above stories of alien malevolence and how the new fight is to rid ourselves of our alien enslavement by becoming smarter, Awakened beings of light in a new era, savvy to their manipulation.

I rudely confess I am tired of the nature and planetary studded names of self ordained ‘Awakened ones’ who offer workshops in consciousness and stand arms uplifted to the truth of our birthright, and who can offer such enlightenment – that they so well understand – to anyone who can pay for their workshops or services. To me they are as questionable as politicians who promise a new world order while they speak in circles that many are happy to gather within.

If you know my work you know I may be as strange in my assertions around lightbodies and consciousness expansion. The difference for me is I did not learn what I teach (and charge workshops in!) from a book, I learned it from the body directly. The East Coaster in me still has a bit of a hard time confessing – even though I’m out of the box about it now, after 20 years – that my work is the result of what felt like a million volts ripping up my spine. Like a high frequency bandwidth on a radio dial I could not control, my mental capacities were torn from me in a New York minute and I barely escaped the confines of a psych ward. I never knew if I would come back to the person I was. While I’m glad to be here today with my faculties relatively intact, I can only say that the vision of geometric precision I see when I look at a body, and the nervous system that runs it, are a result of the long journey I had to go on to heal the tear in my psyche. I may have crafted a story that upholds my delusions to keep myself sane. If so, there happen to be many others who find the same patterns in atomic structure, the cosmos, and numbers in physics to prove our collective theories correct. Among them are many others who attest it to be deeply connected to alien conspiracy, and this is where I draw the line, because that is not what I have witnessed directly, and I hope I never do. Have they? And do they have a right to call me naive while the scientists would consider me uneducated?

I appreciate logic and I also appreciate the dance between that and intuition. Intuition, for me, means knowing something viscerally in the body and mind, not just a ‘hunch’, even if hunches can often pass for intuition.

My world is one of study in Eastern and Western sciences and philosophies. I am self taught – outside of acupuncture studies – and many have agreed that ‘I am right’ about how the weaving of the two results in a logical matrix of geometric proportion that I found corroborated in a dense compilation of research that proved to me that what I was Seeing was not just a hunch. Yet, I could be wrong.  The story of this Fractal way of looking at a body is a long one, and not for here, so let me just boldly assert that I may carry a piece of logic to compliment the bridge between Intellect and Vision.

Visionary states have led everyone from Pythagoras to Hildegaard Von Bingen to Einstein and many saints in between to a path that proves to be a valid one on the road to greater discoveries. They cannot be discounted. However, I believe Blind Faith can be, and should be.

The Tupperware party has changed. Once upon a time women gathered in living rooms across America to share plastic containers to better organize their kitchens in the effort to become better homekeepers. At the same time, these parties gave the women a sense of their own autonomy, providing a small income through sales and a circle of women who banded together under the auspices of better housekeeping to actually find a world outside of that. Perhaps the underlying motive was really to take over the world one tub at a time, and maybe it gave birth to the feminist movement, but maybe the less conscious side of it was just looking for a place to find camaraderie.

We love thinking the same way about the same thing. It makes us feel at home. We band together within ideas. I love it when people get what I am here to offer, and yet find it strange I am supposed to create something ‘marketable’ out of a vision and a healing path of my own that should have nothing to do with anyone else’s validation.

I confess that when I first discovered the links between ancient, largely religious symbology and the same patterning in the body – and therefore our universe – that it was more to me than just the proof that the human organism is a microcosm of the macrocosm. It begged the question of how a wisdom so penetrating and established at some distant point in time could be lost in the history of mankind, leaving us in complete ignorance of its existence as we shuffle around like apes in suits screaming out Nasdaq numbers on floors that would rival Colloseum death matches.

I confess that I am afraid of the ‘conspiracy’ possibility that some government will insist on what seems like an inevitable mandate of enforced vaccination ‘for the good of the people’. I am afraid that the gun toting maniacs that insist they have a right to bear semi-automatic weapons so the government doesn’t kill us all would actually be people I would like between me and some white coat trying to put a drug in my unwilling arm. I confess that I am confused about that dichotomy.

However I am not so confused when I see how the new information coming out in physics prove – through a logical association between ancient and contemporary philosophies – that crystalline structure within the frequencies we are just beginning to document explain logically how we are living bodies of Light. Or that we are All One. Or that we have an innate connection to the Source energy of many Names because we ARE it, and that we have an ability to amplify our own frequencies creating greater states of health, awareness and expanded consciousness. For the betterment of all Humankind.

I confess that much of my languaging is the same as those I have a hard time listening to. I was shocked to hear in a recent conversation that I was perceived as just being ‘another one who just wants to say Yo dude, all is one’.

The point of my work is to provide a basis as to why and how these ancient assertions may be true. To give the logical mind a point of reference that gives these deep, time held philosophies basis in a world of men who have slaughtered millions for a denial of the populace to subscribe to their Blind Faith, combined with a deep, human need to control others for superficial gain. Perhaps the idea that we are being controlled by the same mentality on an alien level is only a projection of how we have been taught to think for a few thousand years.

Without proof, per se, without a logical association between the intellect and visionary states that require a bridge of personal experience to bind them, we are nothing short of a murder of crows revisiting the reasons for fear, slaughter and myths to uphold our justifications.

I am aware there must be life beyond human, known as Alien. I believe it enough that if they landed on the White House lawn I would likely not go into a state of irretrievable shock that may render many murderous.

I would like to give voice, however, to the possibility that they have a benevolence to them, rather than the mirror of hatred and coercion that we perhaps are projecting them to stand for.

Perhaps we are gaining consciousness on new ground, yet still too young to realize we are just repatterning our future based upon our past knee jerk reactions.

Because this is what we have always done. We are a science that believes in the second law of thermodynamics and this leads us to base every idea as a glass half empty rather than full. It is called Entropy, the idea that life exists and then loses heat until it is dead and nothing else exists beyond it. It is a ‘gradual decline into disorder’ and this is the basis of all scientific perspective as we witness the material world around us. Like a kaleidoscope, this entropic view colours all our other socio-political perspectives and governs how we think about everything whether we realize it or not.

Negentropy is reverse entropy. It means things becoming more in order. In my simplistic way of viewing the relationship between the two I would say that Entropy means everything is losing energy and dying, and Negentropy means that there is a flipside of things gaining energy and living. Like a child being born, birth would seem a death to one observing the events from the inside of a womb and prove the point that all is dying. To the midwife witnessing the birth it is a life and energy gaining event rather than a losing one.

This is, like any other analogy, can be called Fractal in itself – it is a pattern repeating itself even if the story changes, yet the pattern remains the same. 

In this case, I want only to say that perhaps our existence is not all about death, manipulation and conscious eradication of mankind. Perhaps we are so caught up in our taught, entropic view of the world that we cannot see that the glass may be half full.

I do not see the need to perpetuate fear, clothed in a different wolf skin, to band the population together in a common view.

I solicit for the negentropic view – if I am using these terms correctly – that we have old ways of thinking and this too must go if we are to allow for a future based on new, uplifting potential. Einstein said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” There is no way I can see to create a positive world based on an old fear. It is an ‘us and them’ mentality that has created all the bloodshed our history teaches us.

Dear God, that sounds much like the new age adage of ‘just think positively’ and all will be well.

But that’s not quite what I mean even if the words sound the same.

If it’s true that my research puts me in the same category of those who see how there was an ancient wisdom that governed this planet before that wisdom was mysteriously eradicated, and those watching this planet intend only malevolence, and I become one of the people who have ‘disappeared’ never to be found again, I will be very sorry I wrote this.

In the meantime, I have not seen this to be a Bright Faith I can subscribe to, and I would like to be one of the voices that believe that we, as a race, can wake up to the greater reality of the mystery we find ourselves in without it leading to the demise of all those who believed in something greater than the fear of the unknown.  

Perhaps we fear to live and so find ways of perpetuating the fear of death and persecution.

I don’t know. I just see geometry, and I can see nothing malevolent about it. 

Ancient Healing Practices 4: Taking the piss out of Ant hills

While off in the middle of a National Forest in Finland where we were making drums in the traditional ways (more on that in the next blog), I awoke one morning in the middle of a conversation about ant hills (it takes me awhile to wake up) and some strange practices involving ant pee, masculinity, and the upbringing of children…

Rather than explaining it I will just let you watch the short video that does that for me…although I confess I still have some questions around it…and honestly, who wouldn’t?!

Ancient Healing Practices 3: The Wounded Angel

There are three reasons I went to Finland for the first time in my life this year.

One was because I had the intuition that my mother, now in her 80’s, needed to go to the land of her first language and that this would not only be healing for her, it would allow me to be introduced to my own (unknown) heritage by the woman who had given it to me.

Secondly, the powerful dream/journey I had after this intuition told me most directly that I needed to go to the land of my ancestors and search out the ancient, healing roots of ‘my people’. I had no conception of having a ‘people’, or even what that really meant and the dream showed me there was much healing available to me and my family if I took flight for no other reason than an intuition and a dream. forest shaman

Finding the healing traditions of a land that has quickly forgotten its ancient roots would have been like finding a needle in a haystack if Who or Whatever had sent me the dream hadn’t orchestrated the events like a maestro of the biggest symphony. I never could have pulled it off myself, and had no idea that the connections would roll out like a red carpet when, in reality, prior to booking the flight we had no friends in Finland. The only contact we had was an 84-year old cousin of my mothers. They had sent Christmas cards once a year to each other for 60 years, and this year, no card had arrived, leaving us to wonder if she was still alive.

In the end, not only was she alive, we met relatives we never knew we had. We learned about my grandfather the ‘healer’ – where our gifts of the Body come from. I saw pictures of my great grandmother whose name or face I never knew. We have Family, and that was only the beginning of who ‘our people’ are.

We stayed in an art museum in a remarkable part of Helsinki via new friends, such as Virpi and Paavo, who showed up before we left Toronto. We weren’t asking for connections, they just kept being gracefully showered down upon us.

 Virpi

SusannaWe became very close with the Centre for Finno-Ugric Shamanism, spearheaded and lovingly tended by Susanna Aarnio where we joined in a shamanic drum making workshop. This opportunity also arrived before we even booked our flight and it’s not easy to find centres of this caliber in Finland – in fact this is the only one, so we were very ‘lucky’ to know about it before we even left Canada.

 

Susanna Aarnio; Founder of the Centre for Finno-Ugric Shamanism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dalva and lauraWe were offered a home there and with Susanna’s apprentice, now a dear friend – Dalva Lamminmaki, and her wonderfully open hearted partner Laura Tolonen.

 

We were gifted a remarkable session of Sauna traditions and healing by the talented Maaria Alen. There’s a big blog coming up on that soon…

 

In short, we got the high-speed tour of Finnish healing traditions, good cheer, and serious endeavours mixed with delightful mirth.

Thirdly, and very personally, I went to Finland because I wanted to understand this intense seriousness, seeming lack of humour and loss of joy andkalevala mother gratitude that I have witnessed in (some of) the family I know in Canada. The Finns are known for their seriousness, and the relationship with my mother over the years has been frustrated with my demand that she react to things differently. I wanted to understand the culture, and therefore myself, that much more.

This is a blog on healing, and not just my healing. I wish to share insights through me but not ‘of me’ as an indulgence. The wounded nature of a people is a reflection of us all, and the Finns have much in common with Native Americans in their shamanic traditions, high rate  of alcoholism and suicide, as well as the ceaseless slaughter of their heritage along with their flesh and bones. We are all one people, and the sadness the Finns carry – this melancholy they paint and write and quietly live by – is but one mirror of our own stoic stories.

I will start with the Wounded Angel.

wounded angelThe Wounded Angel is a painting by Finnish symbolist painter Hugo Simberg. It is one of the most recognizable of Simberg’s works, and was voted Finland’s “national painting” in a vote held by the Ateneum art museum in 2006. 

Let me repeat that; This is Finland’s National and most loved painting.

Beautiful, yes. Intense, absolutely. Poetic, to be sure and it sums up, for me, the exact emotions I feel that underlie many of the things I went to Finland to understand.

Some first lines of the poem ‘The Wounded Angel’,  inspired by the painting and penned by British poet Rg Gregory read:

‘Those who bear the wounded angel
   are they honoured or destroyed?

   Far beyond their comprehension
   are the warfares of the void”

 

The warfares of the void. Before I even had the inkling to go to Finland I was speaking with a friend who, like me, is half Finnish. She had been to Finland before, whereas I had not, and we were discussing the sadness that is almost palpable in the Finnish spirit, that they refer to as melancholy. It feels poetic to them. They take pride in it and I am just beginning to understand it a bit more.

“It seems to me”, I reflected, “that when I feel into the bodies and souls of the Finns as a people, it seems that something horrible happened to them. Some warfare deep in the past they may have forgotten, something that feels stolen so completely from them that it cuts to the core and has lived throughout many generations. It feels like it may not even be remembered, it just lives inside of them like its own entity.”

Maybe it is the 1000 years of slaughter I later learned they endured at the hands of both the Russians and the Swedes. Maybe it was the decimation of their shamanic heritage where healers were beaten, rocks and ropes tied around their ankles to be thrown to an icy death into holes cut into the winter lakes, century after century. Their drums were rounded up and burned in large bonfires. Only around 70 of this heritage of shamanic drums were retained and put into a museum years later, one that then burned to the ground, abetting the destruction of the soul of a people and their ways.

It is forgotten now, in daily life, but not the recent ownership of their land by the Russians in an area known as Karelia, in 1940. This is the most current memory that leave the Finns still bereft that their land and heritage has been taken from them.

shaklesThe wounded angel, with its bloodied wing, or pictures such as this one, also in the National Museum, sum up the essence of sadness I am talking about.

 

And yet, there is also this….

 

 

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, especially if you are one of my family or new Finnish friends! The Finns are not all down in the mouth at all. In fact, once you get to know them they are incredibly fun, gracious, and get on with things due to an indomitable spirit that is so strong it has its own name. This ability to never give up to the point of world record status  – kind of a cross between determination, balls, character and strength – is known as ‘Sisu’, and I’m proud to have that in my blood, and present in my life.

They are also some of the most honest people I have ever met, which explains to me why I hold honesty as one of the most prevalent requirements in my life and relationships of all kinds. Their free media, for instance, is paid for by the populace at the request of the government who make this a taxed requirement!! What?!

It turns out that the government want the media to keep the truth out there, and Laura, our hostess and journalist extraordinaire explained it to me this way; If the media do not keep tabs on the government and the government do not keep tabs on the media, how is the populace supposed to know what’s really going on?

‘Well exactly’, I said, ‘and why would your government want the populace to understand what’s going on’? This seemed a complete 180 from what was going on in the world I know in America.

“Because’, Laura explained, “The government need to know that when they have hard decisions to make, the public is aware of what’s been going on so they have the backing of the majority even when things are bad’.

Wow. Now that’s a concept!

 

Moreover, when a Finn trusts you it is solid. They will do anything for you. If you break that trust, you will likely never be forgiven, for hell hath no fury like a Finn’s refusal to speak to you if you piss them off.

They are quiet and use few words. ‘Please’ is not a word in Finnish, but it assumed by the ending of a word, usually at the beginning of a sentence. This messed me up trying to pull a request out of my mouth that felt like it was hanging in the air at the end, waiting for something nice to add. 

Their language is brief and to the point, kind of like ‘Hammer in closet’, or ‘Excuse me, may I just disturb you for a moment”? being translated as “Hei’, pronounced ‘Hey’.

There is a story that one of Finland’s Presidents was sitting next to an American journalist who said, “I have taken on a bet that I can encourage you to say more than a few words’. After a long silence he looked at her and said ‘You lose’.

There is also the story, or really, the understanding, that they are the People of the Deer. They have lived with and survived by the Reindeer. They are forest and lake dwellers who live in Silence and they trust Nature more than any other thing on the planet, even if She has taken her toll. There is a respect for the natural cycles of life that is still heard in the vast expanse of open space this country affords.

Here I will encourage you to take a beautiful two minute journey into the mind of the Deer People:
http://youtu.be/T5HcLFyPkYs 

They have a million clear and healthy lakes and yet use only the water from deep in the ground for all the sinks, toilets and showers around the whole country. The water from the tap is the cleanest I have EVER tasted. Education is FREE. All of it. So is healthcare. This, just the tip of the iceberg of this wonderful country that has more trees and open land than I have ever seen in all my travels. Lilja lake

It is interesting to note that the first things I have learned in Finnish in my short time there were not numbers, they were herbs and trees. I don’t even know how that happened, but the breadth of my vocabulary is based in knowing how to say things like ‘It is a Birch forest’, something almost as ubiquitous as my need to know how to say ‘I would like a cup of tea with honey’.

I learned that most names in Finland are nature based. I announced this to my mother one day as my new discovery of how related the Finns are to the natural world around them, and she said, ‘Yes, just like our name, Jarvinen’’. I was surprised to learn that ‘Jarvi’ means River, and I bet I never would have known this, and many other things, if I hadn’t taken this trip with her.

This nature-name-revelation came sometime around the morning I walked into the kitchen finding my mother bent over a dictionary in laughter. She speaks fluent Finnish and sounds just like a Finn but her vocabulary is limited, having only spoken it for the first years of childhood and adolescence.

“What’s up”? I asked, ambling to the teapot in a kitchen that was as bright at 3 a.m as it was at high noon  in this land of the 24 hour sun.

“I just looked up how to say ‘how does that suit you’, you know, if you want to ask if someone agrees with something, and the translation in Finnish is; ‘the suits me like a fist in the eye’”!

I’m not sure if this is an intentional part of the dry humour Finns are actually known for, amidst the seriousness, but I am still learning.

What inspired me about the Finnish world also sometimes made me sad. Like learning to ‘undo’ my more California-esqe compulsion to look at strangers and smile. A direct look in the eyes of someone you don’t know is an almost aggressive act, and I found this very hard to get used to. I was more than disappointed I had to wipe a welcome look off my face to strangers in my otherwise friendly, silent vernacular, and I struggled between fitting in and causing a scene born of misconstrued kindness. It was true that my initial attempts at smiling bore surprising results, some of which I defined as ‘Invasion of the BodySnatchers’ stares in return. I wish I had a picture of some of those….

A beautiful young woman with such defiance and mistrust in her passing face gave me the idea that the external world is distrustful until proven otherwise. I was actually heartbroken by the stare, and stopped to watch her disappear into the crowd. 

I think I hit my ceiling on the day that I was alone in a supermarket when an older man whizzed around the corner and hit me with his shopping cart. I looked at him, shocked. He stared only at my leg where I and his shopping cart intersected, not moving, waiting for something to change. When I did not react right away, I suppose from surprise, he looked up at me with a frown and waited another moment for me to move. Without a word spoken, or a glance of kindness, he grunted and whizzed away into another isle of unsuspecting victims.

While this may seem rude to me, there are other things we do in the North American culture I was raised in that the Finns – rightfully – consider to be very rude. For instance, in North America we continually interrupt each other as if using the others sentences only to spark a new one of our own. We never let each other finish a thought. The Finns never do this and consider it extremely poor manners. They may be quiet, but they are very respectful. They do not jaywalk and think following the rules are actually not something to rebel against but to respect so that everyone is taken care of. And you can never be late with a Finn. They are always on time. They are always where they say they will be and they always offer you whatever they have. They do what they say they will do, and this, in itself, is reason for a global trophy – if one were offered – for an honest people who work hard to create a society that works for everyone. And it does seem to work. Finland has recently been polled as one of the best places to live on the planet.

I bring back with me many treasures from my time there. I try to be more on time. I take pride in my ability to work with such dedication to the crafts and skills offered to me in this life instead of worrying I am just obsessive compulsive. I take my reflective, sometimes brooding nature that requires solitude the thing that allows my art, one that is entitled to some space rather than a need for overt apologies to friends who do not understand my need for isolation.

I also never realised that I am usually carrying on two conversations in my head with many I know in my life. One is the conversation I’m having at hand, and the other is hearing their inner thoughts as if one can never be sure what the other thinks. I didn’t notice this until I realized that in Finland I never heard quiet whispers beneath their thoughts. They think about what is in front of them and they deal with what is at hand. If they have something to say, they say it, and if they don’t, they’re not really keeping you guessing. That made me feel very, very comfortable.

I bring back with me the connection with trees and lakes and the calmness of the land that is imbued in my heart already, from birth. I can see why so many Finns live in Northern Ontario where I grew up as the same kind of peace is found in the same trees and waters.

nestoriI learned that my grandfather was one of seven children. That he was not only a healer who gave massages and offered healing in the sauna for clients, but that he was also a herbalist. I learned that he had one brother who looked so much like my handsome grandfather I thought they were twins. This is a picture of that Uncle I never met. His name, I learned, was Nestori, and this picture would have been one of the last taken before his early death. 

My grandfather watched this brother die at the age of 18 by repeated rifle butts crushing his skull inflicted by Russian soldiers. This had something to do with a scar on my grandfathers left shoulder he carried all his life, a close miss to the heart, and that’s all I will ever know about how that happened.

I was taught that saying “I love you’ over and over is not a compliment, it betrays a lack of trust as if one continually needs assurance of the way things are. If a Finn tells you they love you once, it really means forever, and there is no need to reinforce it, unless you break the bond yourself.

They show it in their actions while they keep words to themselves. They offer you their heart even if they show a neutral face. They avoid embarrassing displays of affection that only the needy require. They offer their reflections in their acts, their art, and their poetry, seeing the beautiful and the simple to be one and the same. And when they have had enough of the world, they retreat to the forest, where all they need to know is found in its Silences, where all wounds are healed.

 

“Mi munassa ruskieta, ( All that is brown in the egg)

se päiväkse paistamaha (shall shine as the sun)

Mi munassa valkijeta ( All that is white in the egg)

se kuukse kumottamaha ( shall glow as the moon)

Murskaha muna muruikse (Crush the egg into crumbs)

taivosella tähtysikse.” ( to shine as stars in the sky)

Ancient Healing Practices in Finland 2: The back story

This trip began as an intuition, it landed as an insistent dream, and it has become something of a synchronistic headwarp before we even arrive.

A few months ago I had the feeling that if my mother and I were ever going to go to Finland together, this was the summer to do it. She hasn’t been there in 57 years and I have never been at all. I had the intuition that she needed to put her feet on the ground of her first language, and I needed to be introduced to my heritage – by her.

The Dream that followed this intuition told me that I was from a people known as the People of the Deer. That my heart was made of deer heart and I could feel it beating in my chest as I was taken over land where the Deer People are from. I was told that I was not only Finnish, but my ancestors actually descended from Lapland, a place I knew nothing about. The dream said, most clearly, go to the land of your ancestors and search out the ancient healing traditions of your country.  It turns out the Laplanders have a very rich tradition of Shamanism, as do the Finns. But I didn’t know any of that when I had the dream. Ot that the two things held closest to them are the Deer, and trees.

In fact, here is a video since found that suggests my dream was…well, maybe not just a dream…

http://youtu.be/T5HcLFyPkYs

I was not going to say No to a powerful dream directive like that, but keep in mind I’ve never had much of a draw to go to Finland. They have the highest rate of alcoholism and suicide on the planet, and I’ve already mentioned the lack of humour that, as a people, they are known for.

Ironically, the only two phrases I’ve ever known how to say in Finnish are, ‘I love you’ and “leave me alone’ – it sums up much of my Finnish family, as well as my own life…. I would love the explanation of how it came about that these are the two phrases taught to me out of a plethora of linguistic possibilities, but my mother can’t remember. And of course, it’s funny. In a dark sort of way that I’m beginning to think is where to find the Funny in a Finn. 

I committed to the trip, my mother was not hard to convince, and I flew to Toronto alone to do some work before she joined me from California where we had spent the winter filming her teacher training program in Somatic Stretch. This is significant because as obscure as this technique is in North America, I have discovered that Somatic Stretch is a name well known all over Finland – alongside Pilates. A strange coincidence, and one I will pursue when we get there.

Committing to the trip is one thing, but knowing what we’re going to do when we get there was another. We only had vague contact with one ageing cousin of my mothers. They have been writing a Christmas card every year for about 60 years but there has been no other contact and my mother wasn’t even sure if she was still living – having missed a Christmas card this past year. How you’re supposed to go to a Lutheran country and search out ancient healing traditions with no connections in a quick two week trip eluded me, but follow the dream I did. The next clue on the path came the day after I had just been asking myself if this trip was going to find us wandering together around Helsinki looking for restaurants that cater to my strange, celiac diet…or was there something more? If there was, I had little idea of how to follow up, save for asking random strangers on street corners if they happened to know any Shamans of Finnish tradition?

Around the same time I had this thought, I flipped open Toronto’s weekly magazine for the first time in a month of being in Canada. I glanced at its pages for two minutes before I got off the subway I was on at the time. And in that two minutes I saw a workshop happening the next morning in nothing other than Finno-Ugric shamanism.

I laughed out loud. I’d never heard the word before or ever known that there was a form of shamanism called Finno-Ugric – one I later found out dates back thousands of years, specific to the Finns and the Ural mountains they originate from. The Ural connection comes via Mongolia and Siberia. The Finnish language is more like Russian, Estonian or Hungarian, and these Mongol roots are the reason our skin is often much more olive coloured than the typical Scandinavian White. I called the number for the workshop at 10:30 that night, as soon as I got home, to register for the workshop happening the very next day. There was only one workshop being offered, led by a woman from Helsinki who is a carrier of the traditional ways and who had never come to Canada before to teach.

Despite this wonderful synchronicity, the man who answered the phone said I couldn’t come. The workshop was too full. I was silenced – a rare event – for lack of believing I could run into such a coincidence of being told to search out my roots, have something so random land in my lap and then be told I couldn’t go.

‘Are you sure?’ I asked. “I’m definitely supposed to be there’. He laughed. I convinced him some more. He asked the woman leading the workshop a second time and I heard her pause for a moment before saying ‘Yes, she comes’. I went.

I learned that Deer are the most sacred animal to these Northern Shamans, reminiscent of my dream of being told I was connected to this ancient way, and she and I have become great friends in the short time she was in Toronto. She is part of a drum making workshop in this tradition over the June 15th weekend near Helsinki, which my mother and I are enrolled in. This all happened before we booked the flight, so things were looking optimistic….

We then discovered that we have LOTS of family in Finland, and some are coming from Sweden (who knew?!) to meet us in Lahti, where my grandfather is from and his sister’s daughter is still living.

I then met another woman who I have become very close to in the short span of a couple of weeks. A friend of a friend, she had just returned from Helsinki only to fly back to see her mother who had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only a few weeks to live. Our initial meeting was due to the fact that she had heard of my work and wanted me to come and offer support for her mother while I was in Helsinki – a great honour to sit at the bedside of one dying. And a surreal visit to sit at the bedside of a mother dying while I am on a pilgrimage of sorts with my own mother….Sadly, the woman died before we arrived, and just today, I gave the daughter and her father each a session to help their nervous systems digest the load they are under just three short days since her death.

Because of this new friendship, and just after we had booked our flight for Helsinki, she had connected me with a friend of hers who lives on a beautiful lake in Helsinki. He is the curator/guardian of an art museum, and we are renting his place, connected to the museum and surrounded by Nature.

We had gone from wondering what on earth we were going to do in Finland to staying in an art museum just a short ride from the city centre of Helsinki when we arrive for a generously low amount;  connecting with a tribe of our family lineage we never knew existed and are about to meet; taking a Finno-Ugric drum making workshop and participating in drum circles of ancient ways; staying for free at the house of the woman running the workshop because we have come so far; having a place to stay in Lahti when we get there, all set up as ‘basecamp’ for our trip as offered by the shaman I met in Toronto; we have connections all around Finland and Lapland – cool festivals, people and links, lakes, cottages and saunas…and the list goes on.

The amount of effort and energy it would have taken to coordinate this red carpet roll out could have taken months. As of now, my personal vote is always to follow the dream and let the dreammaker work out the details. Because really, I just can’t plan parties as well as this one has been laid out.

Sweet dreams – and updates on actual ancient practices coming soon.