SACRED TRAVEL…Down to the South I Go [Little Rock]

When you have lived in the North your entire life there are preconceived notions of what you will experience in the South, the biggest being racism and conservative values.  I am pleased to announce that my short visit to Little Rock showed me a different view of both.  I traveled to Litle Rock, Arkansas as a guest presenter/author at the Little Rock Literary Festival.  I went alone, as a snaffoo on the part of the organizers left me without my hotel or flight information until the prices per ticket were over $800.  As much as my husband likes to travel with me, we both agreed that $800 could pay for 2 plane tickets to a place of our choosing, and a trip longer than 2 days.

As I flew over Arkansas, approaching my destination, I couldn’t help but notice how the city was surrounded by open fields, winding rivers and greenery…trees, parks, and nature were everywhere.  The Arkansas River runs between Little Rock & North Little Rock; twin cities that together are about the size of Burlington, VT.  In fact, there were definitely aspects of the city that reminded me of the Queen City.  I was greeted in the airport by a sweet woman, holding a sign with my name on it.  Her kindness and charm were delightful, and upon talking a few moments I found out that all the authors were picked up and dropped off by volunteers.; local folks, who like literacy and thought picking up a writer might be a fun time.

My literary duties began an hour after landing, with a meet & greet, dinner & drink thing, in which the public could come and meet authors.  This was my first time as such an event, in which no-one really knew each other and we all had to interact by reading name tags.   However, as you all know, I am quite social and did not lack abilities on the introduction level.  The interesting part came when I told people what my book was about.  Here is where I was reminded that I was not in my liberal, cozy corner of the universe.  Most people were interested, but there was about a third of the people who responded by stepping back a step or two.  Curiously enough, 1/2 of those who stepped back, thought of Mediums as bullshit, the other half that stepped back were doing so for religious reasons.

My response to their back-step depended on the reason they were doing so (the benefits of being Psychic).  For those that thought of Mediums as hokie (this group was primarily other writers)…I made sure to let them know that I had a book contract before I had a book written.  My way of saying…”Hey, I am the real deal”.  The second group, those with religious leanings on the conservative level (mostly local), I made sure to tell them of my family background; being Irish Gypsy & Blackfoot Indian.  With this information, the local conservatives visibly opened to the discussion.

Happily caffeinated Salicrow

Things that were difficult in the south…coffee & food allergies.  I experienced the same thing while visiting Florida a month ago.  Northerners are way ahead of the curb on the food allergy spectrum.  In fact, the writer’s party/meet and greet had a lot of lovely food…all of it made with wheat and the majority of it also containing dairy.  Seriously not even a veggie platter.  But what the lacked in food options they made up for in free drinks.  LOL, so needless to say, I drank my dinner that night (I am a serious light-weight so it wasn’t much).  And coffee…well I believe Northerners are almost cultish about good coffee.  We will  (I admit doing this) walk block after block in search of a decent cup of coffee.  

 

The real eye-opener came the following day when I met my moderator; the person who would be assisting my book-talk.  I met Russell in the author’s room half an hour before my talk.  He had read my book and was prepared to ask questions during the talk if needed.  Upon being introduced to him, I discovered that he was a Chiropractor and a leading member of the local Unity Christian Church.  He had stepped back from his work as a Chiropractor and was primarily working in ministry and counseling for his church community now.  This fact made my thoughts do a side-step, a Christian Minister in the South had been chosen as the perfect match for my work?  After a few moments of talking to him though I was delighted to hear that he practiced energy work, led meditation at his church, and that they believed that God consciousness resided within us all.  Holy Shit!  This was not the South I had prepared myself for.

When my book talk came about, I had a pretty full room & I was prepared to let it all hang out, as I always do.  I read from the early part of my book, speaking of my experience with Spirit in childhood, of communicating with myself and Spirits though mirrors, and I ended my discussion with speaking about ‘the November Incident’; my walking the line of crazy, spiritual opening.  It was generally well received, all of it…the only person who seemed put off by it was sitting in the back room with his wife, but he didn’t leave early, nor did he have anything rude to say.

I do not expect everyone to understand the path I walk or even believe in the experiences I have had, but respect and politeness are a lovely thing….and the South has that in accolades!

After my discussion, I was pretty much free to do whatever I wanted.  I decided I needed to walk, and chose to walk the downtown area, check out shops and get some food.  After eating, I was in a small art gallery/store connected to the library system when I ran into an older lady who had come to my discussion, and waited patiently in line to have me sign her book.  Mary, a spritely 80-year-old was truly delightful.  After talking to me for a few moments in the store, and my talking about how much I loved nature, she said “Alright then, let’s go walk the river walk”, and like that, I was off on a journey with a complete stranger.

As we walked along the river, Mary told me tales of her city, and of her life.  She had lived in Little Rock for the majority of her life, and apparently, I was not the first stranger she had hooked up with before.  She was a retired school teacher, with a keen mind, a strong intuition and a great deal of kindness.  When I walked her back to the library she invited me to come stay with her the next time I came to Arkansas.

On my voyage along the river, I was again delighted to see that my view of racism was also not completely true.  Now I am not saying that there is no racism in Little Rock, what I am saying is I was surprised by the number of mixed race couples I saw.  In fact, there were almost as many couples of mixed race or same sex as there were heterosexual couples  of the same race.  I found myself thinking on this, and questioning if this was the result of the ‘Little Rock 9’ ‘https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/central-high-school-integration.  The Little Rock 9 in short, refers to 9 black students who enrolled in a formerly all-white high school in Little Rock in 1957.  There enrollment was due in part to the Supreme Court ruling school segregation illegal in 1954.  It is a tremendous story of bravery that you really should take the time to read (see link above).

After my time with Mary, I attended a panel discussion featuring cartoonist who wrote about important political and ethical issues.  I was there primarily to see Trina Robbins; a prolific feminist writer, who I had met at the Authors dinner party the night before.  I had found a natural bond with Trina (also a spitefully, delightful senior) when we realized we were both carrying Wonder Woman purses. (Trina was the first woman to draw a Wonder Woman comic).  The other panalist were also waving their liberal flags…Erin Nations, a transgender man who bravely writes the comic series Gumballs, which speaks on transgender issues, and MK Czerwiec a nurse, who writes comics for the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371 is about her time spent working with HIV patients in the 90’s.     Way to go Little Rock, for bringing in writers (and cartoonist) who are rocking the real word!

After listening to the panelist I headed out to the river walk again, this time to do some work.  I made my way down to the Clinton Presidential Park Wetlands, where I did a bit of earth magic.  Singing/toning to the wildlife and water itself.  If your interested in seeing what I did, go check out my Facebook Live video on my page Sali Crow.  I delighted in seeing the abundance of turtles in the water (I saw at least 50), and the biggest bat-house I have ever seen.  I continued down the river, stopping periodically to sing to the Earth and place crystals here and there (I placed some in other metropolitan areas as well).

All in all, my trip south was a refreshing view of Americans.  Almost all of the local Arkansasians said the same thing “There is a strong current that runs below the surface of most Arkansasians”.  They are in general, or at least the folks I met, more open-minded than I ever imagined, and genuinely interested in meeting people.  The highlights I will keep securely in my mind are those of meeting Russel, and his open-hearted soul, and of Mary taking me on a journey without even blinking an eye.   Thanks for shedding some southern charm on this Northern girl.

spreading love-salicrow

 

 

 

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Stories of Spirit…Welcoming Death [the art of the Doula]

Last night at the end of my Sound Meditation class, it came to my awareness that a fellow Reiki Master, friend, and gentle healer had entered into Hospice.  She had fought the good fight with Cancer only to watch it return, this time with death as it’s companion.  The thought crossed my mind of heading straight to her house and catching a ride home later with a friend, but it had been a long day and I opted for riding home with my husband and making a quick dinner.

Waiting on dinner, I checked my Facebook messages and read “You should come sooner than later.  She seems to be holding on,  enjoying time spent with her boys, but her time is close.”

I put down my phone, packed my basket with oils, sage, my drum as well as snacks, water, and coffee.  When death calls, I never know if I will be going for a short visit or a long.  I ate quickly and got in my car, immediately tapping into my dying friend.  Before I was even out of my driveway, I was singing Spirit Song [song of the soul] and could feel the miles between us dissipate.  I was in duel reality…existing both in ordinary reality-driving my car, watching the road & the otherworlda psychic/shamanic state of existence.  In the otherworld, I was sharing space with my friend; as close as if I were sitting by her bedside.  In this state, I could see her life force and recognized that my decision to see her that evening was a good one.  I felt it as an honor and a duty, that death itself was asking me to come recognize such a beautiful soul as she transformed from body to spirit.  Her work as a healer needed to be acknowledged.

When I got to her house, I was touched by the way her family was already showing reverence.  The love in the house was palpable, and there was a somber reverence that spoke of how much they wanted to honor her in her passing.  We spoke for a few moments about creating sacred space when a loved one is passing, and soon they were walking around the house collecting photographs and special items to place on the altar in their mother/friends room.

Creating an Altar for the dying is a beautiful and thoughtful way of calling in the Ancestors to help with the transition between life and death.  I have given directions for creating an Ancestor Altar at the bottom of the article.

As her family gathered pictures and memories, I began to do Reiki on my friend and to sing gently to her.  My song was a continuation of the song I had already been singing to her during the 20-minute ride from my house to hers.  When singing the song of dying, the words are not important, in fact, I seldom sing with words at all.  The song of dying is sung with emotion and reverence for the person awaiting transition and for death itself.  As a Medium, Death is a friend of mine.  I spend much of my life between the veil, communicating with those who have transcended into death.  I have a great respect for death, and can honestly say that I love it.

By loving death, I do not mean that I love pain and suffering.  I mean that I love the act of transition.  Like birth, death is magical, it is more ‘real’ then any other experience we will have in our lives.  When we sit with death we cannot be anything but what we truly are.  We are vulnerable.

Singing to my friend, I began to loosen the strands of life that were sticky; the places she held tight to her body.  I sang and I soothed.  I could feel her life force & was aware that her death would be soon and did not believe she would live another day.  My song was joined by the soft murmurs of the others in the room.  Her children and friends joining in ‘spirit song’, guiding her soul across the veil.  As I held my tones out long, I felt her sliding on the vibration and her breath becoming slower and slower.

Then it was done, my time with her had come to pass.  She would not pass for hours still, but I felt that it was time for me to leave.  I knew she would be gone before long, but that her last hours were for deep quiet and her family alone.

I left her home at the same time as another friend, and we stopped to talk outside the house.  I spoke of how my need to visit; which had been so urgent, felt like administering last rights…kind of like “Hey there, all is well across the veil, safe travels to the Otherworld”.  In such moments, I connect deeply with my ancient self, my priestess self, the tribal shaman, volva-self.  I see this as the holiest of the work I do, for it is never something to plan on, but something that I must do when I feel it’s vibration.  When death asks me to pay a house call, I do so with great reverence for both the dying and the spirit of death alike.

We are changing the way we interact with death, we are remembering the old ways of honoring and reverence.  Families are interacting deeply with the presence of death through hospice, as well as with the art of home funerals and celebrations of life.  We are remembering the sacred and death is becoming a deeper act of healing.  Years of disassociation with death; death behind white curtains, and sterile environments, and funerals without connection to our ancestors put a serious hick-up in our ability to heal and understand death.  That is changing.  Death is an exceptional moment of Spirit.

My friend passed late this morning, and I am happy to know that her spirit is free and she is no longer burdened with a painful body.  I take heart in knowing that one of her dear friends washed and anointed her body with lavender, showing love and kindness in the ceremonial act of preparing her body for death.

Creating an Ancestor Altar for the Dying-

*You will need- a shelf (dresser, portable tray in the hospital, bookshelf, window sill), family photos of living & dead relatives, special treasures (wedding rings, holy items, crystals, etc).

Set the altar up where the dying and the people holding space can see it.  Even if your loved one is unconscious, set the altar up within their personal space.  Invite your ancestors to join you in the room, and to come aid in the passing of your loved one.

My hope is that ‘ancestor honoring’ become a regular part of death and dying.  We need to remember that we are connected on both sides of the veil.  Our Beloved Dead are waiting for us when we cross, and like our living loved ones sit by our side when we are dying, our loved ones in spirit do the same.  One saying goodbye, the other welcoming home.

I hope you enjoyed the read folks…peaceful travels to the spirit world for those who are crossing.

spreading love-salicrow

salicrow.com

STORIES OF SPIRIT…Best Friends with my Spirit Guide [soul-friends]

My book has been out for 3 weeks now, and people are starting to share their experience of reading it, with me.  Most of the feedback has been in regards to similar personal psychic experiences people have had, and how they gained intuitive insight from reading how I navigated my own Psychic development.  The other sharing I have experienced is that people recognizing the people & places in my story.  This is not all that unusual as I have lived within an hour radius of the Connecticut River for the entirety of my life (minus a few months in Maryland here and there).  Vermont & New Hampshire are my home; particularly the areas of the Northeast Kingdom, and the White Mountains.

Last week one of my community friends brought up Adam when she spoke of my book and how the reading of my relationship with him affected her.  She recognized Adam, she remembered him, she loved him and as she spoke of him tears welled up in her eyes.  At that moment I could feel Adam standing in my space, I looked at the tears in her eyes and I could feel his heart filled with love.  This, of course, made me want to reciprocate with tears of my own.

I changed some names in my book, but not Adams, he insisted that his name and story be mentioned, after all, Adam’s story and my story have been woven together for the last 15 years.  Anyone who has ever done a Seance with me knows who he is.  For those of you who have not, Adam is my doorman; the spirit guide who holds the job of watching my back and organizing traffic in the spirit world.  I call him my doorman because I use to own a bar, and the job is pretty similar.  He decides who come in, who is not welcome and delivers messages for spirits who need a bit of help communicating with me.  Although I knew him briefly in life, our friendship is something that has developed after his death.  I love Adam and consider him one of my dearest friends.

When my friend spoke of Adam she mentioned how tragic it was that his life was cut short.  I understood what she meant for he was a remarkable soul, but I couldn’t help but smile.  My immediate response was to say “He still is making a difference, he is still working toward a goal.”  I often refer to Adam as the ‘hardest working spirit I have ever met”.  He goes to work with me every time I do Spirit Communication, which means he is working a full-time job in the afterlife. Like me he is a healer, helping people to find peace in knowing that their Beloved Dead are ok.

Adam has taught me so much in the years we have been connected.  But the most important lesson he has taught me is that older spirits, ones who have been around for awhile, often continue their work between death.  He has shown me the dedication that spirit guides can carry and how much they are willing to be present in the world of the living. They care about what’s happening here, and the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is getting thinner.

I appreciate all the feedback, and love hearing your experiences through reading it.  I hope that you are all fortunate enough to gain the peace of connecting with your Beloved Dead.

spreading love-salicrow

Stories of Spirit…True Love & Death [loosing our life partner]

Next week is my 25th wedding anniversary!  My husband and I met when we were 18 & 19 and have had a love affair ever since.  That is not to say we have never had obstacles to overcome, but in truth, we are best friends and are fortunate to still have a passionate, layered relationship that brings both of us much joy.  We are truly partners in that we have always shared our life.  Right from the start, we shared bank accounts, cars, mortgages and household belongings.  We have friendships outside of one another, but as a general rule what is mine is his and his mine.  I am aware of how fortunate we are to have such a relationship, and am often reminded of the pain the death of such a person brings.

As a Medium, my work brings me up close in personal with the details of peoples lives.  I often say that I am a guest at other peoples family reunions.  I listen as Uncle Joe describes his hot rod antics, as he tells of driving down back roads during prohibition, and watch as Grandma shows me through the inside of her immaculate farmhouse.  Through words and pictures, I see prayers stuck to walls in ancient cities, as a dead mother describes how she watched her living daughter during a pilgrimage.  I smell the cigarettes burning during the visit of this one’s father, and I hear the deep resonance of another’s voice as they sing to me, so that I can tell their family how musical they were.  These details are interesting and bring confirmation to the living guests that I am indeed in communication with their Beloved Dead.  But for me, the real bit, the piece that sticks to me is the love.  I feel it!

When working with Spirits I am connected to their energy field and through this, I am often able to feel their memories.  I can tell where they held pain and illness in their body because I feel it like a dull ache in my own, and I can feel deeply their emotions.  I can tell when a Spirit is nervous, this happens particularly if there is unfinished business between the living and the dead.  I can also feel the depth in which they loved their living counterparts.  This is a truly amazing thing to experience, for through this gift I know what it feels like to love a complete stranger.

This week I met with a client for a one on one session; whose husband had passed.  As with most of my Individual Spirit Communication sessions, I expected it to be emotional, deep and healing.  As I sat with her passing messages from her husband, I felt like I was the narrator of a love story.  Her husband spoke to me/through me, talking about their life together.  He shared stories of their meeting, how they had both been married before, he spoke of their being a team, that they did everything together and often just the two of them.  He spoke of the home they built together, and his favorite chair in the living room and the view from the window that the room had been designed around.  He spoke of their Carribean escape and the many planned adventures that unfortunately did not come to pass.  But more then anything, he kept coming back to the deep well of love that they shared, and through his words and energy, I knew what that well felt like.

These meetings; in which I am the spiritual go-between for lovers separated by death, hit me on a personal level, for I know that I too will someday experience the tremendous loss that comes from the loss of ones soul partner to death.  Yet, I know that my loss will never have the completeness that others experience, as I am a clear communicator between the world of the living and the dead.  I will still be able to speak to my husband from whichever side of the veil I exist on.

Often when I am speaking to lovers separated by death, I remind them of how fortunate they are, explaining how many never get to experience a love so deep and complete.  This does not diminish the pain of loss, in fact, the pain felt by such a loss can often be debilitating as their lives have been so closely woven together that finding where one begins and one ends can seem impossible.  When death comes in and does it’s little dance, the living partner is often left floating adrift in the deep water, wondering where the familiar life they have known has gone to.  They find themselves questioning if they even want to return to where they have come from, or head instead for the distant shore of recreation.  For they have become a stranger to themselves, half of what they once were.

The love though…oh the fortunateness of experiencing such beauty!  It is what we all search for, deep inside we are looking for another who totally gets us.  We all want that special someone who walks a parallel path and co-creates the dream with us.  Those of us who are lucky enough to experience such a thing should relish in every minute of it, and remember that someday it will come to an end and when it does the pain will be great.  I do not say this to create sorrow or to make people fear the loss of their beloved, but instead to make those who have true love remember what a precious gift it is.  I write this in celebration of such beauty, and as a reminder to those who have lost their true love, that you are among the fortunate and blessed, the ones given the opportunity to know such harmony.

May you be fortunate enough to know the depths of true love!

 

spreading love-salicrow

 

Stories of Spirit…The Power of Intention & Community Kindness

A couple of nights ago I reached a breaking point, in which I found myself sobbing uncontrollably like a toddler behind my steering wheel as I sat in my driveway, my emotions were so overpowering that my husband had to take my coat off me when I got in the house and hand me a cup of tea.  I was not crying out of despair, I was crying as an emotional release; letting go of all the backed up fear, and chaos that I had been wading through the last few weeks.  The catalyst for my emotional warble was receiving back to back hugs from 3 of the most solid people I know.

Many of you know that my sister and her family have been going through a lot…illness, surgeries, near death experiences, infections, ambulance rides to Dartmouth, and emergency surgeries.  While most of the acute issues have been experienced in the last month, the journey has been much longer than that.  Now that the water seems to be clearing and we can see the shore, I find that the heaviness of emotion; particularly fear, is too much to carry any longer.  It is no longer needed, yet it still must be released.

Being Psychic does not mean you never experience fear.  In fact, fear is something that can blind Psychic sight.   If the fear is strong enough a Psychic can actually generate false answers for themselves.  I did this once when I was much younger.  My husband; who is pretty good about communication and being on time, was suppose to meet me after work.  When he didn’t show up, I was surprised.  When he still wasn’t home by the time we were supposed to be meeting friends, I became alarmed.  The later he was, the more I became convinced something had happened to him.  When I looked at my cards, they quickly confirmed my fears, and by the time he rolled into the driveway I was running across the yard crying, as I had believed him dead on the side of the road somewhere. In reality, he had a beer with the people he was doing work for at the end of the day and had no cell reception.  Because of this experience, I learned how important it was to center myself before searching for psychic information.  But from time to time I need to be reminded.

When my sister called me to say that both she and her son were facing life-threatening situation her crying triggered me.  We are so deeply connected, that even though we have a year and a half between us, we consider ourselves twins.  After getting off the phone with her  I found myself floundering, in a quick and powerful spot of fear.  It wasn’t until my husband said to me “Have you looked at your cards?” that I even considered scrying.  Moments after being reminded I was able to calm and center and know that all would be well.  That being said my body still experienced an adrenaline dump, it had gone into fight or flight mode before I was able to center.  This type of energy does not simply dissipate, it requires a release.   When we do not release this emotional sludge it affects our health and well being.

Most people go through a crisis like a horse with blinders on; focusing on that which must be done, the goal at hand.  We deny ourselves the luxury of wading in our emotions for there is no room for them.  When the crisis is over it is not uncommon to find ourselves exhausted, and emotionally sensitive.  This is because our vessel is full.  We can not just go on with our lives, we must first release our burden and fears.  This must be done for true healing to begin.  Whether we are the one experiencing the trauma or the support for others going through it, the emotional heaviness of the situation must be addressed.  My release often comes in the form of tears.  In fact, whether I am happy, sad or angry tears are likely to show up.

This read is about community, intention, and kindness so I will spin you back up to my opening paragraph…The catalyst for my emotional warble was receiving back to back hugs from 3 of the most solid people I know.  

I had not had a day off in almost a month, that I was not in a hospital holding space for surgery, sitting with my sister as she recuperated or going with her to a doctors appointment.  The emotional roller coaster of the month had finally seemed to slow and I was looking forward to time off when my husband got sick.  As we run a cafe/wellness center someone had to take his shifts and that someone ended up being me.  After the second day of doing his job and my job, I was truly feeling beat.  At the end of the day, I hoped that no one would show up for my sound meditation class, as I really wanted to go home.

The first person to show up was a friend of mine who is solid as the earth and has blood that runs a bit gnomish.  I told her if it was just her and I that I was going to cancel, then another of my regulars came in; who lives on a family farm and is a solid, salt of the Earth kind of person.  I decided to cancel and the three of us just stood around talking for a moment, me giving them the update on my sisters family.  Then my farm-guy, plow-man neighbor came in, another solid, reliable, kind person.  When I explained we were closed and he walked over and gave me a hug.  Then came another from my salt of the Earth woman, and then finally from Gnomie.

I was OK, until about 5 minutes into my drive and then it hit me.  I think it was their solidness, that reminded me of all the love and support our family has received during this stressful time.  Their hugs represented all of the prayers, reiki, and love that people had shared.  I was overcome with how lucky I am to live in such a community, where people genuinely care about one another.  All too often we are shown the terrible things that human beings are capable of.  It is so refreshing to be reminded of the beauty and kindness that we are also capable of.

The power of intention is an amazing thing that can be used for good or bad.  It is also something made stronger by group belief.  The more people believing in an outcome, the more likely it will come to be.  With this in mind, I encourage you to start monitoring your thoughts.  What goes through your mind on a regular basis, are the things you are thinking about what you want to see come to pass or what you fear?  If your mind wanders toward fear, hate, and anger, redirect it.  Give it a different focus. Focus on the good you want to see in the world…make it so!

spreading love-salicrow

 

Stories of Spirit…The Holidays [boundaries, new traditions & self care]

I love the holiday season.  I love the lights, the music, and the holiday cheer.  I do not like expectations, over-doing, and giving for the sake of ‘have to’.  I gave all of that up a long time ago.

About 15 years ago I had a major opening to Spirit which I refer to as ‘the November Incident’.  It was so all-consuming that it takes up two chapters in my book Jump Girl, the initiation, and art of a Spirit Speaker.  (release date-2/13/2018).

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/562306/jump-girl-by-salicrow/9781623171926/

During the November Incident, the world of spirit opened to me so intensely that I had a hard time keeping up with my daily life; let alone performing the holiday magic I had done for so many years.  I even struggled with being present at my favorite holiday party; spending 15 minutes locked in the bathroom, trying to regain a sense of center.

Now, I understand that the shamanic opening I experienced during the November Incident is far outside of the normal range.  But all the same, it taught me that I like many people do way too much during the holiday season.  We run around in a hubbub of ribbons, candy and shopping centers, filling our obligatory list of buying, visiting and celebration.  But the pace that most of us keep at this time, and the to-do list we create for ourselves has a tendency to suck any holiday spirit we may have from our tired, over-stimulated souls.

During the November Incident, I was forced to slow down.  I did not have the mental capacity, nor the physical energy for hours of shopping, nor did I have the focus to withstand hours of holiday parties I didn’t really want to be at.  Instead, I chose to slow down, do less, spend less, and be more present.  The functions I did attend, I did because I wanted to.  The gifts I gave came from my heart.  I stopped the bullshit of ‘I need to have something for everyone’, and chose instead to give of myself.

Many years have passed since Spirit ripped the veil from my sight, but the holiday traditions I chose at my time of opening are the ones I continue today.  I have stepped away from shopping malls, and ridiculous baking list, instead choosing to spend time with people I love.  I send Yule cards instead of buying gifts, some are real with my handwritten blessings inscribed on paper, some of virtual, but they all mean something.  My gift giving list has been greatly reduced, as I feel we all have way too much as it is, and no one needs me to buy them a cheese slicer with matching knife set.

My opening gave me permission to stop doing.  I was able to step back from the obligation that the holiday season has become and found in it the feeling of happiness, and celebration I knew as a child.  I love coffee dates with old friends, holiday music playing on the radio, and I love the lights & greenery.  I do not want presents, and specifically ask my children and family members not to give me gifts, unless they felt a deep calling to do so.  To my children and grandchildren, I give gifts of things they need, like tires, car batteries, bed sheets, and socks.  When it comes to toys I choose wisely, I ask myself if they will still enjoy it after the ribbons, bows, paper, and sugar have worn off.

When approaching the holidays this year I suggest you ask yourself a few questions.  “Do I want to do this?”,  “Will my item be appreciated, or am I just buying for the sake of giving?”, “What do I need?”  “What do the people on my list need?”, “How do I want to celebrate this year?”

Traditions are not just something from the past that we must recreate.  They all came from somewhere, at some point they were new, fun and worth repeating.  Which means we can create new traditions now, traditions that fit our lifestyle and beliefs.  We can choose to have a tree or decorate a houseplant.  We can choose to not decorate at all.  We can choose to eat pizza for Christmas dinner instead of holiday hams and hours of cooking.  We can designate a pajama holiday instead of a fancy dress event.  We can choose to be happy for the holidays instead of overstressed, sugar bombed and broke.

My work with the Beloved Dead has shown me that we do not give a flying-fuck what we got for Christmas from Grandma when we were 8.  What we remember is the house filled with laughter, the smell of yummy food, and the feeling of love.  We remember emotions, events, and silly stories.  So go out and make memories that feel good.  Stop doing what others expect, create new boundaries that keep you happy and healthy during the holiday season, and remember to spread love.  It’s what it’s all about folks.

spreading love-salicrow

Stories of Spirit…The Sacrifice of War (remembering my father)

Today is Veterans Day and I am thinking of my father.  His whole life or at least the life that I was witness to was enveloped around his service in Vietnam.  His thoughts, actions, and values were reflective of this pivotal time in his life, and his physical limitations were created by it.  He carried a pride that had been drilled into him by boot camp sergeants and fellow soldiers, in the essence of his being he was a Marine.

 

Growing up the child of a wounded warrior, I knew the toll of war.  My father was missing an eye, a fancy piece of glass made to resemble an eye sat where it belonged.  As a child of four, I once accidentally witnessed my father cleaning his eye.  Walking into the living room to find him with his eye in his hand and the socket drooping on his face I was horrified.  I screamed and had to be comforted by my mother.  For days I was afraid of my father, not understanding what I had witnessed.   I have found myself revisiting this moment time and time again in my memory and can’t help but think how terrible it must have been for him, knowing that his appearance had scared his own child so.

Many of my father’s wounds were visible, the glass eye being the most noticeable.  He had physical markings to show that he had been damaged beyond repair, that war had taken a great toll on him.  But he also carried many deeper wounds that were not visible to the eye, wounds that affected how he saw himself and the world around him.  These hidden wounds were far more painful than the loss of an eye, for he was haunted by his actions and the things he saw during his time of war.

Mike Emory (my father’s mentor), Grammy Brown, My father Richard, his younger brothers Teddy & Eddy.

My father grew up very poor, raised by his grandmother in the deep North Woods of New Hampshire.  He lied about his age and joined the Marine Corp at 17 so that he could send money back home to take care of her and his younger brothers.  Having grown up wandering around the woods, his skills made him a natural for reconnaissance work.  This was what eventually took his life at 62.  He did not die from the grenade that had taken his eye and left him with shrapnel in his brain, in the end, it was the exposure to high levels of chemicals (agent orange) that destroyed his body.

He was thankful for the years he had between the grenade and his death, seeing them as borrowed years.  Years that allowed him to get married, have 3 children, and many adventures.  But those years between were not all good.  Along with the physical ailments the grenade had bestowed upon him, he also lived with nightmarish memories.  In trying to escape the thoughts that plagued him, he turned to alcohol and other substances for comfort.

redemption…re-connection after 13 years of not speaking.

My father’s story, in the end, was one of redemption.  He eventually found a path healing, after many losses and many bottles.  He lost his family to his own alcoholism and then found it again through sobriety.  He found a deep spiritual center inside of himself and embraced the gifts that were his birthright, seeing himself for what he had been all along, an intuitive medicine man.

Medicine Man

My Dad’s final goodbye

My experience growing up the child of a wounded veteran shaped me as it did my father.  Living with him, his addictions, and his pain, I gained a deep understanding of the hidden anquish anyone who has seen war experiences.  This exposure has led me to work with many veterans.  I have a great respect for the price they pay, and an understanding of the wounding they carry.  I do not think there are words deep enough to express how much respect I have for those who have served.  Whether I believe in the war they fight or not, I respect the soldier.  I know that there are many reasons why they enlist, choosing to fight for their country.  For some, it is a deep feeling of patriotism (something my father also had), but for many their choosing is much more practical.  They see military service as a way out of poverty, a way to provide a better life for themselves and the ones they love.  They take the gamble, rolling on their lives and mental stability, with hopes that they will be among the lucky.

I would like to take a moment to pause and send love and healing to all of our men and women who have experienced the service of war, and I ask you to join me.  Here is what you will need…

*a candle, *a flag or item that makes represents military service to you, * photos of your own loved ones who have served

Set up a small altar with the items of memorabilia & photos & light your candle.

Focus on your Heart Chakra, directly in the center of your chest.  Take deep even breathes through your nose.  With every inhalation imagine you are filling your chest cavity with love, with every exhalation imagine sending that love to everyone who has served in the military, starting with those close to you and expanding outward.

Do this for about 5 minutes then speak clearly out loud “Thank you for your sacrifice”, and blow out the candle.

Remember not all wounds are visible, not everyone is walking around with a glass eye or a prosthetic leg.  Most of the wounds of war are buried deep within.  Support your local VFW, and Veterans home.  Buy the red poppy from the guy sitting at the grocery store today.  Hell, donate more than is convenient, after all, we can not come close to matching the donation they made.  Remember to thank them, truly and deeply for they deserve our thanks.

I would personally like to thank the men and women who have served this countries military.  I have deep respect for the sacrifices you have made and understand the price it continues to ask of you.

spreading love-salicrow