Moving to SubStack…..

Greetings Everyone-

Over the next month I will be migrating my writing over to Substack. I will still offer free subscription as well as a paywall for premium content, podcasts, and video. I am doing this to protect my writiung and Ideas for a book that is beginning to immerge.

You can find me over on Substack by following this link:

The Shaman@Large blog will focus more on products and classes.

The Entropy of War

Over the last few days I’ve been watching the slow motion unrolling of the Russian troops as they begin to pierce, carve apart and penetrate into the Ukraine. There’s a deep sadness from watching this. This giant country run by a tiny paranoid man, that has more land than any other country on the planet. Yet it wants to take a small parcel of earth and culture away from a small group of people who have democratically chose to govern themselves.

I’m also troubled by ways that TV displays war in real time. We get the personal side. We get the leadership side. We get the economic side. We get all the different perspectives woven into this weird reality TV show format. The corporate media has created a hybridizing of entertainment and news. This keeps us gripped on world affairs in a voyeuristic manner. It’s just enough to engage and far enough away to feel safe.

Even with it’s distasteful way of presenting war into our living rooms and onto our devices. I sense a welling up in humanity. We are tired of war. Many of us have lived several decades with war as the back drop and for the reality of their lives. For some their entire all they have only known is a world that has been at war. War for resources, water and oil. Wars for land and religious dominance. War to cover up corruption. War to distract from economic truths. We have watched our scientists, military complexes, and workforces create and build more and more things to mutilate human bodies and destroy this planet.

If anything these wars have created an economic insulation for the uber rich. They dictate how they want to play this bizarre chess game with innocent lives and broker resources without consequence. They see no fault in destroying the earth for the resources to fight war. They see no reason to not destroy the art, the culture and the diversity of this planet for war. In their capitalistic drive for more power they will destroy this Earth and everything on it if they think it will make them more money.

Yet somehow this invasion of Ukraine feels like it’s awakening of something inside of humanity. It’s awakening that part of us that’s sick and tired of losing family members to the machine of war, watching war destroy our economic stability, driving people from one place to another in search of home and safety. Starving people. Deciding who is worthy and who is not. The only people who gain from war are those who profit. The rest of us are the collateral damage of greed and power. Over decades the corrupt and powerful have banked that the collective destruction of our humanity would keep us down. That our need just to survive day-to-day will keep us from protesting. That the fear of speaking up or acting in a way to defend our humanity would keep us from noticing the god-awful situations we are expected to thrive in. They had banked that they had convinced us that the crumbs they gave us we were the only things we were worthy of. They defined our humanity was worth through the lens of Capitalism. Our society is degraded and then fed the addictive pleasures of dreams and false truths. Taught ideologies that divided us and kept us a part because the enemy was our neighbor…. The enemy had a different color of skin… The enemy was educated…. The be enemy practiced in a different religion, The enemy wanted to steal your little plot of something and give it to somebody else… We were handed lack and fear and told it was abundance. We were told strength is in the individual and the collective could not be trusted. And the oligarchs got richer the rest of us worked harder for less and we sent our children to war.

But I believe we are in the entropy of war. War is no longer stabilizing. War is not peacekeeping. There’s no longer a truly justifiable reason for the resources of this planet to be invested in weapons of its destruction, the massacre of Humanity and the drivetsity of this planet.

We are deserving of the wealth, beauty, art and cultural and bio- diversity that is the true treasure of this planet. We have the technology and resources to evolve away from fossil fuels and to build a future that is economically fair, and culturally diverse, and protective of this planet.

We don’t need any more wars. We need each other We need our Humanity.

May Humanity Find It’s Heart….

Valentine’s Day is such a strange event. Since I grew up it has changed from the little paper cards we gave out in elementary school to long love letters, flowers, investments in dinners, gifts, grand gestures of love and affection I know the technological pixelated gifs and images we send on social media and text messages. Commercialized more and more as I got older. Disenfranchising so many because it became something you had to invest in. You were expected to do. Like a church obligation. A socialized love initiation. A kind of weird social tribal event to show that you truly loved someone by investing in pink and red hearts ,cupids and seasonal chocolate, romantic encounters.

I cannot say my life has been filled with these sort of romantic displays and encounters with other human beings. I tend to be pretty disinterested in the commercialization of most of the holidays that I grew up with. I feel if you love somebody you show that everyday in little and big ways. In ways that are genuine and real that come from the heart. That show your appreciation and your acceptance of who they are as they are in your life. Upon reflection this doesn’t always generate longevity in relationships. But it keeps it real. And I don’t contribute to more pink plastic and cheap red velvet hearts and the other confections of this day.

All these things aside I would like to tell a story…. A story that I think captures how I feel about the world. That naive Big Love kind of way. I think it also has defined how I am in the world more so than I really thought of until the last few years.

When I was in kindergarten my teacher Ms Dolan had us all get her crayons out to do a project. And the project was we were to draw a picture of our family. I got excited cuz I love to draw I love to get crayons out I love to play on that weird sort of yellowy paper we got when we were in kindergarten. I remember the crayons were primary colors they were flat on one side so they wouldn’t roll off our desks. And they had to smell that I found pleasing. So I got my green, blue and my brown crayons out. I drew a big circle and then I began to draw the oceans and the landmasses and I try to do the right amounts of brown and green and blue to make a beautiful globe…. a beautiful Earth. Because in my small 6 year old child mind everything was my family. I love talking to the trees I love listening to the ocean I loved all the creatures great and small. The ants in the bugs and the worms and my kitties and dogs and all sorts of flora and fauna. And from all my trips to the local library. All the books I was able to take out and explore things, place and people far and wide. The large collection of National geographic magazines my mom had piled up around the house. I just thought all people were beautiful and were part of my family. In my young mind I saw no separation. We were all in this together it was an incredibly magical experience and there I was in it with everybody else.

And with all of this swirling around in my little happy heart and coming out through my hands into this magical drawing of the globe I was drawing my family. When time was up Ms Dolan got us all to stand around in a circle with our drawings. She went around asking each of us about who we drew and asked us to tell us about their family.

When she got to me I started to say it’s the globe. It’s the world… She cut me off…. She said I didn’t listen and I didn’t do the assignment. I felt myself turn red with embarrassment. I felt humiliated. She wouldn’teven let me explain. Then I got angry. She told me to go back and draw my family. I could feel the tears welling up inside of me. I could feel the anger and rage inside of me. a I got a black crayon and I drew my family as stick figures and I came back and I told everybody who they were. I was crushed….

Of course when I became an adult and I reflect upon this experience in my meditations and also in therapy I now realize what Ms Dolan was trying to get us to do as an assignment. What I do realize as I have grown older is that I do think in those large terms first. Those inclusive terms. The first time I read about Thich Nhat Hans interbeing I felt that resonate inside my heart because that’s really how I’ve always lived. My life it’s all about interconnection. Seeing those interconnections. Understanding of those interconnections. Mending those interconnections. On this Earth nothing, no one is in a vacuum. Nothing exists by itself and isolated. We have recently created conditions in which we perceive our isolation due to the breakdown of families and communities. The lopsidedness of working conditions and economic inequities. The most current issue being the pandemic and it’s isolation due to trying to keep ourselves and loved ones safe.

So on this day one of the things I’m thinking about is how do we awaken that bigger grander wider love. That love that is as wide as the world that encompasses everybody. That is grounded in the ethics of how we treat human beings and the planet. That builds a sustainable future that radically departs from our destructive behaviors. The recognizes the sacredness of all life on this Earth. It’s fragility, strengths, adaptation and its magic.

So perhaps love isn’t a gesture of paper hearts and plastic tokens. Love is an understanding of this deep profound connection to all things around us.

The Journey

2 years ago today I was wrapping up the last of my California workshops and seeing clients. It had  been spent seeing a client, saying my goodbyes and then hitting the road.  Heading south down Route 1 along the California coast around 3:00 in the afternoon. I would see whales I would photograph the beautiful ocean in  I tookke my time driving down towards Pismo Beach. Savoring each moment I was able to see that beautiful expanse of the Pacific Ocean knowing somewhere in my gut it would be a long time before I would revisit it again.

There was a whisper of rumors that at that time. Rumors about a respiratory virus that was in China could be up in Oregon but nobody was really sure. I left California with some question marks because some of the people I had stayed with had just gotten over a long respiratory illness of unknown origin and even though they were healthy while I stayed.  I appeared healthy as I left. I know that viruses can in fact be symptomless.

I don’t think anyone really planned for a pandemic or this 2-year Long haul of our lives being disrupted. In fact I think we’ve been quite privileged in how our lives have sort of rolled along good or bad, overwhelmed, misunderstood, traumatized, full of Joy… We’ve had pretty uninterrupted lives. 9/11 put a wrinkle in our lives but we went right back to shopping and living life as life presented it. The election of Trump had traumatized many of us and we were working hard to not be mashed by that crazy and fight what we could. The climate deteriorated more but most people didn’t give it much thought.  The population of those in poverty, below poverty and homeless exploded. Tent cities rose up in city blocks and people complained about it . The people living in tents just tried to survive. It is was bad for optics and business but nobody really thought about the causes of these lives falling or being pushed into these circumstances. For the most part we’re incredibly self-absorbed and just getting what we wanted and getting through the day. 

We spent so much time shoving our grief and our trauma away so that we could just survive the grind of modern life. Navigating the glitches and triumphs of technology. The resistance to aging with all of its potions, yoga, healthy lifestyles and eating.  As well as  the acceptance of aging bodies that need things replaced and illnesses dealt with…. Retirement and investments… That dream house.  Keeping our youth entertained as well as educated.  Constantly pushing them to the top of the pile so that they are the most perfect, the smartest, most intelligent, most able, most capable, most creative to win the life game.  Balancing all of this every day while just keeping our job so that we could pay the bills.  We could move forward into the next day and do the exact same thing over and over.  Having embodied fear to not question anything.  Knowing that if we did question we would be considered negative or not a team player.  We would be putting our whole life at risk families relationships friends business partners etc… Life was complicated and full and for many people.  We weren’t living we were triaging 24 hours for a life we never really attained anything in.

And then a silent virus came and shut everything down.  We were stuck in the deafening silence of our empty shells.  Our beating hearts. All the  broken dreams.  The waste of time, energy and resources we put into a system that expect everything form us yet it belittled to our need for safeguards. Wrapped it in a flag and sold us a handful of magic beans about American exceptionalism. Berating those who couldn’t make it saying they were lazy, unworthy and undesirable.  And they did little to prevent it from crashing down because those who had invested well saw no need to keep it going because there was nothing that they needed from the system anymore.

And as we sit here two years later with a government that is at a standstill do to political posturing.  The very programs that could give us decent jobs, health care, lives that are meaningful, education that actually gived us the resources and the tools to build a better future for our youth…and the country.

The social and economic entropy is the reality of where we are right now. Although it might feel like, it is not necessarily the end.  It doesn’t have to end badly. It doesn’t have to define who we are. This is the time to stop.  Reflect upon what it is we really want as our futures.  The thing about entropy is you can never go backwards.  It never falls back to the way it was.  It’s like when you drop a plate and it shatters in pieces.  You might try to glue it back together but it’s never going to be the same it’s never going to be whole.

And we are never going to build it like it was we are never going to have a world that looked like it did two years ago. We might have shadows or memories. We might have remnants. We might have bits and pieces that are holdovers from that time. None of that will resurrect it back to what it was. What we need to do and is move forward into a vision of what we want not just for individuals but for the collective. No single human being lives in a vacuum. Everything that’s happening on this planet will affect every single one of us whether you are a billionaire and you can go run away to space or you’re living in the squalor of a shanty town. The effects of this catharsis has ramifications for all of us.

It’s time that we actually dealt with the water crisis, the food crisis, resources, housing, education, and the large population of people who will be migrating to livable and habitable places on this planet.  These and many other things that can be grown out of this entropy. As one of the laws of the universe entropy always moves towards order and work so as we move through this we can define that order and that work we can set the direction we can set the vision. This is probably one of the most pivotal and important aspects of our evolution right now on the planet. What we do now will affect if we go towards extinction or our survival into something different.

A New Year’s Poem

A New Year’s poem

It never ends.
It keeps going.
The sun rises.
The moon sets
Waves crash and roll.
A gajillion stars made this night sky
The moon haunts the Earth’s shadow.
My breath hangs as the air chills for snow.
This year ends.

This particular one will pass with the whimper of losses.
The rages of fires still burning on all the parched places.
Our helpless actions.
Hands dropped to the side looking at the ground.

Some waiting in lines for beer to celebrate
and others food to feed themselves.
Still we walk forward to another cycle.
Another day.

Each breath a gift.
Our bodies filled and temporarily satisfied.
The mind darts into the folded spaces
Reevaluating life and death choices.
Navigating the shifting moments that tumble forward.
Rhythmically passing into the next revealing
A mystery materializing while exhaling.
Only to be drawn in with the next breath
To scribble some more on the dreams still waiting.
A new year begins again.
An unphased continuum of greater and lesser things.
Life without end.

The Holiday Message

This year ends as strangely as it began. From almost opening up and the expansion back into normalcy we’ve have collapsed back down into this place of isolation and uncertainty. We seem to be in this cultural societal unmooring of our normal traditions. We are grappling with a new way of being in the world. A new way of being with each other, new ways of communicating and interacting. There’s a strange awkwardness to this as we kind of navigate and discover. Building the skills and language of what was once( taken for granted) normal family and friends events and traditions.

Wi-Fi and the internet have become the new portals to old traditions, memories, greetings, and gatherings. Engaging in the physical world with our family and friends has become a tangle of protocols and questions. What is safe? What is possible? How do we create inclusiveness when there are clearly risks and dangers to each person’s individual decisions about covid and how they want to be in the world with it. The New normal is unsettling and even unsatisfying. It doesn’t meet our needs and also prolongs our isolation. Our ability to find ways to meet those needs is also a perilous tangle information and uncertainty with shifting mandates and suggestions. What we can and can’t do.

So in the middle of all of this…. at this odd junction. At this normal holiday season, my message is we have to adapt. Adaptation is evolution and sometimes if done right it’s revolution. I think the gift of what is happening now is that we can build on to make the world to be different. Change is not easy These things don’t come because they are easy. They come because we want something different through a process of awareness. The last two years have given us this gift. We want a world that offers us safety. We want a world where we feel like our wages meet our needs. A world where we can all find safe affordable housing. A world that is not being torn apart by war. A world where the food supply and the food chain is both sustainable and healthy. Nobody goes hungry. Every one has access to to medicine and education. We have these tools in our modern world that allow us to continue these conversations and to discover and brainstorm. Maybe even Barn raise the next generation of traditions that mark not just the grief of what we will lose because of what we’re going through but will in fact uplift us into a better vision for us, for the planet and beyond.

May the Holidays gift you with grace and the magic to inspire you into exploring the possibilities of next year

The Way of Spiritual Poverty

Over the last year or so many of the elders in spiritual communities that I have worked with over the years have fallen on some truly hard times. And it is  with the grace of each community we support them through these hard times and hopefully to a safe landing on the other side.

I’m writing today because even though I see the goodness in this work of taking care of, triaging crisis and trauma  it seems driven by a doctrine of neglect and poverty.

I look at the root as to why these  women ( and men) get here and why they are left in this time of their lives with nothing. There are long winded manifestos of their gifts and selfless offerings to make the community, ceremony, festival, gathering as magical experiences. To encourage fundraisers and donations. And yet many of them have been living in sub par conditions, suffering from health issues and financially broke for years.

If they are so valued, WHY?

One of the first responses to this question is: They chose to live their life this way. They chose to renounce the real world. They chose to renounce the values of a society that didn’t value them and  their work in the world.  Hearing it from them, the saged wisdom keepers we flock to seems legit.  This  being  their personal choice  seems very noble, powerful and empowering.

Yet the reality of the conditions of their lives seems(to me) to be the very thing they claim they are not getting from normal social structures. To me the denial and disconnect is obvious.

I can’t help to wonder if really what they are doing is trying to fit into alternative social structure that help them justify their lack of skills to navigate in the real world (This can be do to mental illness, addictions, family/social trauma… Etc… ) It’s really easy to create uniqueness/eccentricities and be empowered by  that (or expected fit into that role ) to justify isolation or feeling valued. This seems to be the way many communities are setting a precedent to glorify the inability to manage one’s self in normal society. It also cultivates a mind set of being spiritually moral or a more  evolved human through accepting deprivation and poverty as lofty

A similar example are artists and other ceatives. They have digressed along these lines which is why the art world (the business of art) makes a tremendous amount of money off the artist while boxing the artist into an exploited situation.It is then this perception of the person that is used as a wedge between them and the very things they need from a community.

Many spiritual communities use this very practice as a means to exploit those who are socially unskilled or incapable of being socially skilled in a way that benefits the community or people who are in the upper echelons of those communities. This is a power dynamic that is acceptable in many of these kinds of groups.  So entrained are these structures within these groups that questioning it will get you ostracized. When it is very cult-ish and abusive.

There are plenty of things about modern society that I can critique. There are many things about how money is used and misused. How resources are used and misused that I feel have led us to damaging the planet and damaging our society. But I’m also seeing within spiritual communities a way in which we say we value our elders but we do not even give them the resources to allow them to live a quality of life that is reflected back to them in what they offer.   If they get sick they can make choices to get the best treatments and medicine.Where we make sure they have safe spaces to live.  Communities often take from them and then value the sacrifice not the person.  This misplaced value deprives them of asking for what they really need. It a dangerous immoral by-passing. It says their humanity is not important. It devalues them from having a life that is safe and secure.

As we are living through this time of catharsis, change and reevaluating our social structures/ spiritual structures, I think this is one of those moments where we really need to look at and come up with solutions that support the people we value in our society to know a vibrant thriving life.

The Extremes and Edges: The Places to Listen.

Journeys begin sometimes with a dream. The dream for me started late summer 1999 at the end of a workshop I was taking. It was the end of the weekend and we were all laying down. We were doing the last meditation to kind of bring it all to closure.

As the drumming filled the air I went to a spontaneous relaxed vision…. but it wasn’t just a vision it was a full sensory experience. It was incredibly lucid. In the dream or vision I was flying amongst these beautiful cumulus clouds that had turned slightly pink from the setting Sun. I could feel the coldness of the air as I was flying through them and the sky was blue and the sun was setting. I heard a voice tell me to look down. I looked down and saw snow covered tops of pine trees sticking up through deep snow. Really deep snow. I flew over it I was completely transfixed by what I was seeing. The perspective from above was jarring. It was a cold frozen world. The very edge of the tree line before it becomes too cold for trees to grow.

The voice said people will survive who go here. This is where it will begin again. I flew around for a while longer taking in this experience. I continued to feel this cold wind in my face and the stinging in my nose and then the drumming ended and I woke up.

At that time in the real world, I was not someone who thought fondly of the cold weather. In fact winter was my least favorite season. Thought of going north to survive some apocalyptic something was kind of off-putting to me. Intriguing because everyone was looking to the equator for answers among the indegenous communities. I didn’t really understand the nuance of my vision but I knew it was important to remember and write down.

Fast forward several years and there was a series that came out called Planet Earth and I rented it from the library. I popped in the first DVD and I was blown away because what I saw was the exact same image I had seen in my vision years before. The camera was flying over trees covered in thick layers of white snow poking out of deep drifts of snow the end of the boreal forests where the tree line ends the frozen tundra. The edge of life and death.

Fast forward again to December 2019 and I am making my way across the country. This is the third time that year crossing the country. My travels this trip are to end with me teaching in California at the end January. I would be making stops along the way the most important was in the southern deserts of Arizona to listen. My destination was Organ Pipe National Monument which is about 17 miles from the Mexican border. I’m going there to experience the desert to listen to the sound of the Earth. To be out in the wilds to understand what the Earth is trying to tell us about how we need to be on the planet and what we need to do to survive the changes that are happening.

I spent 6 days out there. Amazed at the diversity and life force. The vastness of the stars. They were so bright they lit up the sky without the moon. You felt you were standing in them… In the universe. The extremes of the ecology that expressed a wide diversity of life forms. It is sufficed to say my experience in the desert was deep and profound. I left there altered by what I experienced. At some point I will write more about that but for now it ties into the next phase of what would happen.

I don’t think anyone was prepared for the pandemic or for a virus to overtake the United States but when I left California I knew something was changing I knew a shift was happening. The very last thing I saw when I left the coast was a pod of humpback whales as I drove down route 1. I would stop and watch them come into view. Watching them until disappeared and then I’ll get back in my car and I drove further south. Then I’d stop and I’d watch the pod reappear and I did this several times before I made that left hand turn onto route 127 to head East towards the Mojave desert.

Without getting into the whole sort of journey of avoiding covid and learning to live with a plague as a reality. My life got weird and strange. It went from bad to worse to bad and then it began to improve and somehow through the miraculous magic of believing and having faith and trust in myself and in others I ended up landing in New Hampshire to live.

A few months ago I was looking on the internet one day thinking about planning a trip to Iceland after the world got better. In the mystery of the great Google up popped this listing for the Arctic Circle Grail in Greenland. And I was really intrigued. It is not the edge of the Boreal forest but it is kind of the end of the Earth. It’s one of the farthest reaches of Northern landmass you can go. It’s as close to the Arctic as I’m probably ever going to get and I want to hear what the Earth says there.

Greenland is an interesting place. We know it from our Western history is being the place where the Vikings landed, tried to and failed to establish colonies. We know it as avglacier covered large island. We know it is right now the epicenter of watching our climate disintegrate before our eyes. It has a history of indegenous shamanism that sing ancient songs about the trees that grew all over Greenland in a warmer time. It’s a place fill with secrets. It represents a whole lot in regards to where the planet is going and what could happen.

I want to go and listen. Like I did in the desert in Arizona. I want to hear what that northern extreme place has to say. In my journey over the last 30 years of discovering my humanity and what that really means in relationship to other people, to places and with the Earth. I’ve come to realize that listening and observing is one of my best teachers. I’m hoping that if I make the journey. Put in the sweat to reach these places that the Earth has something to share with me. Something to teach that I can bring back and use in a way that helps to realize the changes that we all have to make so we can participate on the earth in a healthier sustainable thriving way.