Sunday, August 31, 2008

What? Our local Freebox in Ashland, OR

In the same lot as our thriving local recycle center is to be found our freebox. It is a small wooden building with one open side housing a long rack which is crowded with used clothing on hangers. Underneath it is a shelf with piles of shoes and boots for everyone you know from the man of the house, the teens needing those famous Nike's and even a bunch of baby shoes and sandals. In front is also a long shelf with boxes stuffed with clothing and below it, more boxes and more clothing. On the front is a sign: Please, no torn, wet or dirty clothing.

There are people in our neighborhood whose entire wardrobe is to be found at the freebox. Ashland is a relatively upscale town in southern Oregon so even famous labels may be found crowded into the boxes: Lands' End, Eddie Bauer, Ralph Laren, Ann Klein. It's good pickin' there: the farming hippies come from Williams to comb for t-shirts, skirts and pants, hoodies and later in the season, wool sweaters. Our Mexican mothers take dresses with them and small pants and shirts for their babies toted on their backs in slings. The teens, both girls and men, assemble colorful outfits to take off into their lives. Older women, and a few men as well, search through the sweaters to be found there wool, cotton and acrylic to keep their bones warmed even in summer.

I have a woman friend who prefers what might be called an eclectic wardrobe. She finds a pair of orange spandex tights which she fringes on the bottom, a slippery polyester knit printed top in shades of green and turquoise with yellow which straps are removed to be worn upside down on her hips with a pink belt also pulled from the depths of the pile. Her top is a blue cotton knit tank and on her head is a green cap slung over one ear with the peak floating at a rakish angle across her face. She has a large storage unit with masses of stuff: her own kind of freebox! Once she gave me an all wool Ralph Laren hand knit sweater great for the in-between season, in-between winter freezes and spring warming, in-between summer's ending heat and the stormy blasts of October. Stylish for free. I'm thankful.

I check out the box whenever I go past. It's closed on Tuesdays. I find sweaters that may be unravelled and used again to make other sweaters or jackets, shawls or potholders. There are occasionally flannel sheets which I wash, rip into strips and then, with a giant crochet hook, turn into floor mats easy to use and easy to launder. Lately I found a long, primo cotton hoodie and for winter, a puffy warm down jacket coming past my thighs. Cozy!

The Freebox is also a little of a social center: a great place to meet our neighbors: beautiful young mothers with gurgling babies and toddlers trailing behind, working people whose budgets go only as far as the gas station and the local discount grocery store, college students in search of useful clothing or costumes for special events, even a theatre manager seeking wardrobe for a production he was planning.,

Everything is there: coats, jackets, slickers, tops, blouses, shirts both long and short sleeved, skirts, jeans, Dockers pants, tights, shoes and boots, sandals, hoodies, leather and polyester, cotton, wool and linen.

Is there somewhere in your town where a freebox could be made available to everyone? Is there a place, a small garage, an empty store front, a volunteer or several who could spend a little time keeping such a place tidy? Let me tell you, you might be surprised about several things: one, everyone has something to give from time to time and two, many people in your community will be very grateful for the boost such an option for clothing can give their budgets season by season.

When we look around, there are a hundred hundred things we may do to support and assist each other. It's an old new idea. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What? The aftermath of Mt. Shasta ceremonies

We arrived home last Friday afternoon with a huge load of laundry which finally slunk itself into the L-mat yesterday. Clean clothing and towels have a renewing effect on the psyche and now it is possible to remember and assess our week and a half ceremonial event on Mt. Shasta.

So many people! So many from distant places not only in the US but also from Israel and even Taiwan! Young and older. Knock down living-in-the-woods hippies and seeking corporate people taking vacation time to camp among the volcanic heights of Mt. Shasta among the stunted fir, giant rock piles strewn over the dust, alpine flowers and a glacial stream flowing down. Our camp swelled from 6 people on Wednesday before the event to about 30 by the time Saturday and the Full Moon arrived: about a gallon of coffee at each sitting was consumed along with donated meals and treats.

Jim Thundereater magnificently led us all through the flow of time and energy while we danced and were cleansed. For me, it was memorable in several of the people who came into my life: there is something about high energy that makes us bond with a depth not available during our usual day to day lives.

My favorite was young Black Fox, a 10 year old boy growing himself up in nature with the guidance of several people distantly related to his mother. I offered myself as an ally and requested him to become a wisdom ally to me: hugs sealed the relation. There was Maidel, a beautiful Cuban woman with her husband and child who, without hesitation, brought me a special pyramid crystal with which to develop communication skills. Precious gifting. And Curt, a Canadian man my kid's age struggling with the renewal energy the mountain and our camp offered him. His generous spirit opened and laughed heartily with us around the fire. An Israeli couple on tour happened in on our circle and stayed to dance most of the night.

The world shrinks to within the boundaries of the Medicine Circle, we dance and rededicate ourselves to renew universal love which goes with us to our distant lives when we demolish the stone circle and restore the plateau at Panther Meadows to its natural state. Our experiences shared later with our cohorts inoculated them with the peace and love we danced for them at the Full Moon.
This year, the 13th, brings us a new prayer and next year a new dance will move our limbs in another high energy sharing during the Aquarius full moon on August 5th, 2009. Will you be there?
We welcome you and pray now for your well being.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Full Moon Medicine Wheel Circle, August 16th

Later in the afternoon our sundry vehicles trundled up the last mile of roadway to the topmost parking lot at Panther Meadows on Mount Shasta where some of our guests and visitors had already found their way.

With only a small prompt from Thundereater a wide circle was cast on the plateau whereupon all of these people entered and began to clear away every stone and rock inside to pile them at the circumference. Very soon the medicine wheel circle was clearly delineated in the once strewn vista by the stones that came from within it. The gate of the east was set up with a tall stone and a cluster of smaller stones around it. A smaller circle of 13 stones was placed (this was the 13th year of the circle celebrations) and within it, a large, flatter single stone altar. At the south gate sat our grandmother, at the west gate a larger stone to balance the east, and at the north a medicine staff was set in rocks, it's feather aloft in the breeze.

While we were setting up, other groups were also doing much the same things for their own full moon ceremonies. As the evening fell closer to sunset and dusk, there were organic symphonies with the sounding of Tibetan bowls and bells, drums and flutes toning across the plateau which lasted through to nearly midnight.

Each of the circles' music blended and harmonized while we were opening our circle. Elders Starwalker and Amraah, each with handmade drums, opened the circle by drumming around the circles from east to south to west to north sounding a clearing around the outer and inner circles and over the altar making way for the dances of our shaman Thundereater dedicating the circle. By the time he was finished fully 75 people were collected on the boundaries of the circle awaiting an individual purifying smudging with sage and cedar before entering the circle for the all night dancing. Other drummers were setting up and after they were smudged, they began drumming in the circle a lively rhythmic dance that everyone could move with. Of the 75 people who began the evening, about a dozen were dancing as dawn brightened its way across the western regions of North America.

The purpose of the circle is related to the meditation of dancing all night. It is a personal act of prayer and dedication made during a particularly energetic time. Full moons are high energy times which we may all attest to noting instances in our lives when full moon periods brought catastrophe or surprises. The full moon in August, the sign of Leo opposite the moon in Aquarius, is a healing moon and at this time many people were focusing on their own or others well being.

It began 13 years ago when Jim Thundereater, a Shasta native shaman, in a great deal of pain both physical and emotional, petitioned the Great Mother for a vision. The vision showed him that he would create a 16 year long series of Medicine Wheel Ceremonies during the healing Full Moon of August. In groups of 4 years, each step included first a new prayer, next a new dance, then a new song and a completion. This year, the 13th, marks the series which thank the Mother and Mother Shasta for allowing him to serve the people. Each person comes for their own reasons and all join the circle created by the shaman for the purpose of serving all the people, even ones who do not attend or even know about such a thing.

When two or three are gathered, there I Am.

Mt. Shasta Full Moon ceremonies

Saturday morning about 8:45 there was coffee perking on the grill when I arrived up from the parking lot having slept in my van, my usual custom. Many already were gathered in the morning coffee camp. By magic cell phone we knew of many others who were on their way from some distance. They would be with us in time for the afternoon purification in the stream running down the mountain.

We chose a spot close to the camp and an easy walk that everyone could manage. We walked just a little way down the grade from our camps alongside the glacial Panther Meadows stream.l In August, the watercourse is lush in summer violet fire weed banked along the cascading water, next to golden rod daisies in colorful clumps, mountain heather further from the water and blooming their star-like blue violet flowers were michaelmas daisies. Finches and nuthatches flitted chirruping among the taller trees, ancient alpine specimen some of which might be 1000 years old yet stunted by harsh mountain weather conditions.

We stopped at Charlie Tom's now vacant fire pit: both men and women had walked down to this spot together. Now the men would group and walk further down to the place called "The Mother's Breast" where they would begin the purification ceremonies: putting up a tapestry barrier tied to the trees and bushes, then their own words of dedication before plunging into the stream to wash, slosh or even dunk body and head into the running waters. The women sitting above heard their shouts all the way up the hill. As they returned, we, in turn, spiraled down the trail to the mountain creek.

The water was i-c-y, my feet were numb in about a minute. I splashed about finally flinging about a dozen handfuls of water up over my head, shoulders and chest before I quickly returned to creekside beside the flowers. The children flopped and lolled in the waters defying the chill while the rest of the women, mothers and visitors, also flung water over themselves or sat down into the stream. After pulling down our tapestries, we returned all the way up the path to the camp.

Our camp, now nearly 30 people, would make and eat a meal before we left for the topmost part of the parking lot and vista at Panther Meadows a little later in the afternoon to begin the medicine wheel circle. We rested during our afternoon repast anticipating the night long full moon dancing to begin about dusk.

Who? The who's come to camp.

Jim Thundereater (dad) had us ready to move out of the driveway in Ashland just after noon on Wednesday 8/13. Aurora (6) had her back pack stuffed with things to do; Teresa (mom) had brought and stashed everything that could be wanted on any camping trip and the Wagonmaster, myself, had checked oil and the radiator, given the tires one last eye as I walked around the van before getting in and turning the ignition key. We were off for Panther Meadows at about the 7,000 ft level on Mt. Shasta about 3 hours away including stops.

We pulled into the campground parking lot about 5:30 to be greeted within minutes by our camp mates who had already set up their nearby camp. Hugs all around as they said they knew were were there by the chuckle of the van's engines and the unmistakable growling slam of the side door closing. It took very little time to move our entire load up the hill and to complete setting up our camp; one small colorful tent for Aurora and a larger one for Mom and Dad. Soon there was coffee on the boil on the grill well placed in the fire pit. Oh, sure, it didn't quite happen in the time it took for the words to be written or read. No, rather in an astoundingly efficient time, an assured and skilled small group of people did what was obvious to create a functional and quite charming space between the spiraling alpine fir, the large volcanic rocks strewn about and volcanic dust under our feet. Three quarts of coffee disappeared amongst the workers now lounging in camp chairs and on the ground. Thundereater brought out the flute and played a greeting song. We shared together our various getting-to-the-mountain stories joking and laughing a chorus to the flute.

People come together and do something. The camp nestled in Mother Shasta's upstairs parlour, a place we call Panther Meadows. We celebrated each other and the whole of us in the jokes and laughter called up with the stores being told. I relaxed very ancient parts of my child-body that had very seldom been released, a serene peace rose up from the ground to animate me with its smile that I grinned about over my coffee cup to everyone present. It was great fun. It could be called soul fun because this kind of warmth grows and develops parts of our emotional bodies not usually impacted in uplifting ways.

Wednesday evening and Thursday all day our tribal family assembled on and two and five together with all their tents and sleeping bags, coolers full of food, drums of all sizes, shapes and tones, tamborines and rattles. Everyone was happy and excited to be together.

I wish that the who's in your tribe are good campers: take yourself to the wilderness. Leave no trace, take only memories.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Who? What? When? Mount Shasta Full Moon meditation.

Mount Shasta, Siskiyou County, CA. It's Friday, August 15th. Our camp has been growing since we arrived on Wednesday with Jim, Teresa and Aurora in the van loaded with everything ever wanted to make a camp and hold a full moon ceremony above the top parking lot at Panther Meadow. There are four tents in our camp, another one up this morning anticipating our brother, Happy, and just below us live Black Horse with Black Fox and their three doggies making plenty of sometimes unwelcome greetings around and about the other camps. Everyone is curious because we set up an open shelter with a lovely colorful tapestry of Ganesh gracing one side. The ceremonial drum has been placed in the center awaiting a circle of the assembled group. There is a lot of excitement as we gather around the campfire for morning coffee brewing in a large enamel pot above the crackling blaze. Smiles and greetings pass as quickly as the steaming cups. This August Full Moon also has a lunar eclipse to go sometime Saturday afternoon just before the medicine wheel circle, drumming and dancing that will be happening Saturday evening. Many of our friends are already in camp with us and more are expected tomorrow to participate in the healing ceremonies. This is the 13th year of the ceremony held by Jim Olson, Shasta native, up on the mountain. There is purification this afternoon. The women will walk about 2 1/2 miles up the mountain to the upper spring and the men will walk downward about the same distance to the lower spring. Everyone will bathe in the very cold ice melt water preparing for the ceremonies tomorrow. And after the walk, there will be a camp wide meal which we will all share the food and cooking. There will be more people assembling all evening and into tomorrow. It might not have been anything of your experience to join your friends in a personal sacred festival. Full Moons are especially good for energy and there are other good times like the day/evenings of summer (June 21) or winter(December 21) solstice or at the times of equinoxes either in March or September. Come together to join with your friends and send prayers of well being and healing to everyone present, all your family people and to people all across the world. Every time there is a small group, the energy of your prayers makes a difference to the peacefulness so needed in our world now. If you listen closely, you may hear our drums singing for you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

why? why seek family?

Why would I be searching for my family? Mostly because it has taken a great long time to find my real family. It became clear to me early that I was not born to my real people and not in my right place. Now, in this time, decades later, I find myself actually sitting with people who feel like my family. If you have a family that really feels like the real thing, you might not understand why I wish for the one that feels deeply that it is family, where I am included, respected and listened to, where there is plenty of room for me to be just exactly what I am, what I have made of myself out of the experiences I have had pursuing the ideal of a real family. I feel I can relax now with nothing to prove. It makes a huge difference to how I can become now: what a blessing to pass on something of the accumulated wisdom of nearly 7 decades.

This realization of true family happened more deeply in me than simply in my brain mind, it is felt in my body mind, the feeling part of myself that lets me know things I need to know that are not worded, not thought or said, are simply energy in motion. The better I am at observing myself, the better I have become at discerning where and with whom I should be to evolve naturally, that is, the way I see my true self. The adopted family I have found (and who have found me) gives me a place to work on these things.

The idea to blog and to eventually build a web site called LotusWFive, of course, has come out of a felt experience that once I have found that family I can truly make a contribution of myself. Our simply sitting together being in conversation, enjoying the morning coffee or the evening desert together has shown me that everything that we are here, what we do here, and what we talk about here is knowledge needed and wanted by every human on the planet either as a direction to go or a validation of where we have become our best. I believe that these understandings are food for thought and very worth blogging about. Bon Appetite!

We are going to be at Mt. Shasta for about a week over the full moon lunar eclipse on Saturday, August 16th and later camping across on the Eddys. I will not be blogging until I return so have a good holiday.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Where? Where on earth?

Where? Well, where is here on earth somewhere! I came to realize there was really a little more to it than simply that we are some "where" here on the planet. Each of us born on this planet from the moment of conception when the egg in your mother was fertilized by a speedy little sperm from your father, from that very moment until the fetus is born it recapitulates the entire 3 1/2 billion year history of the planet. It's all recorded in the DNA in every cell. That's a duplication several trillions repeated. From this it could easily be noted that each of us is an Earth Person. The planet in all her glory is in us bones and blood, no matter who we are, what we might look like, our age, our profession, our race or family history. All of us are of this earth.

It also means that each of us is needed and wanted to be here and without us our earth would not be what it is now. You and I are each critical to the whole, the whole earth,and to the entire 6.something billion people here on earth. You are important. Great. Now just get on with it, make something of yourself here and make something of the great where that earth is. You simply cannot make a mistake. And the very things that you might choose to do could, indeed, make the entire difference!

Friday, August 1, 2008

When? When are the best "whens"

Moving right along with our unfolding W5, the next place to visit is "when." When? Friday, August 1st is a solar eclipse, that's a big planetary when. And the day of your birthday, that's also a "when" for you, maybe with friends and presents thrown in on the deal. Every minute is a when and when I really began to understand and remain more easily in the flow of "whens" in the present tense with my largest possible self, I became a true gift to myself. Do you recall this slogan: "Now is a gift, that's why it's called the present!"? So, my best when would be this one.