Where to begin. There is so much swirling around me and within me at the moment, that I seem to fade into the background noise.
Who in their right mind would want be front and center to all of this ... madness and chaos?
I want to hide. I want to run away. Surely there is a place free from this ... storm.
But I have no place to hide, no where to run. It is too wide, too deep ... can’t get over it, around it or through.
So now what?
When I look around at the outer world I see signs of structural and ecological decay. I see our cultures carrying the contagions of neglect, abuse and alienation. Where there should be guilt, I see conceit. Where there should be accountability, I see a deficiency of outrage or shock.
But I also see signs of wellness, the evolution of holistic systems, and the reconnection of mind, body and soul. Where there is pain and conflict, I see attempts at reconciliation. Where there is fear and loneliness, I see signs of cooperation and connection. Where there is hunger and spiritual thirst, I see nurturance and spiritual depth.
So life is not without its salves.
But it is turbulent nonetheless. For every Apostolic reformationist, there is a Pagan permaculturist -- or at least I hope so. But the storm itself never recedes.
And so I retreat. Into the private world of my own makings. And here too, the storm rages.
My home is falling apart around me, my medical bills are piling up, my finances are dire and my schedule is too full given all the physical limits I have to endure.
But still ... for every sorrow, there is hope. For every pain, there is laughter. For every worry there is joy. But the storm still rages.
So I retreat into the work. And here finally there is calm. There is silence. There is softness, a place to rest. And here within my work, I breathe ... shallowly at first, then deeper as I return to grace.
But then I am conflicted. Why does peace for me exist only in the places between? Why can’t I bring this peace with me? What use is this bliss if I cannot bring it to bear within the worlds, the people, the pain, the decay and the fear. What use is my serenity if it is outside of the very worlds I occupy.
So I surge forward into life bringing with me all the bliss, peace, silence, softness and generosity I can muster.
And yes, I still stand in the midst of the madness, but I am not afraid. I rest within the swirls of chaos and I surrender to it.
I am one with the pain, the loneliness, the decay and the conceit ... and I am filled with peace, outrage and compassion. I am angry and I am delighted, I am grieving and filled with hope, and I am silent and screaming.
It is so easy to retreat from it all. It takes a bit of madness to face the abyss .... and smile. And I am grinning like a Cheshire cat as I surf the currents spilling tears over all I see and sense.
I am crying for all the pain and I am crying for all the beauty. May my tears bring moisture to the thirsty. And may my ramblings bring nurturance to anyone suffering in the storm’s wake. Let us join hands and ride this wave together. For in all of this chaos, remember that you are not alone.
Submitted by katrina on Mon, 10/03/2011 - 6:20pm.
Lately it has been difficult for me to live in the moment. I talk all the time about how living in the moment is what we should aim for as spiritual seekers. It is just that it is currently difficult for me to return to the now.
In the now there is pressure, deadlines, commitments, sorrows, pain and confusion.
Off in my la-la land, there are mountains to climb, and stretches of forest to explore. In the future, there is passion and adventure.
But right now, I am not feeling much passion and I openly groan at the slimmest hint of leaving my house.
Can’t I just lay down for a bit longer? I am so tired of all this “schtuff” happening all around me.
I feel like I am standing in the midst of swirling winds and debris. And all the debris is from my life and it is all yelling at me.
“Do this now!”
“This is late!”
“You meant to have this done by now!”
“What are you waiting for?”
“People are depending on you!”
“Get with the program!”
And all I want to yell back is, “Bite ME!”
But then I remember … this is not about being in the now. This is about being in the Manifest realm. I love to swim in the ethereal, the astral and within the unknowing. But here on earth, I have things to do, people to meet and places to be.
A dear friend once told me that returning to earth for me felt like a trip through the underworld. And she is right.
As I sit with this insight, I slowly remember how coming to the present moment use to feel like for me. And as I slow down the moment, expanding my sense of now, once again there is peace, calm and openness. And of all the sounds around me, no one and nothing is yelling at me.
Now this is the grace I recall. And all I had to do was remember … and open.
Submitted by katrina on Thu, 08/25/2011 - 5:57pm.
This past Saturday was spent out in my yard. I wanted to finally pull all the vines off of my poor azalea bush by the side porch. Over the years, it has had its beautiful pink blossoms obscured by the green of the invading vines so often that whole portions of it seldom see the light of day.
I start at the bottom near the stairs into the temple. I pull up several roots with twisted vines spiraling out in all directions. I climb up to begin cutting vines here and there knowing it will now be easier to pull out the other ends at the far side of the bush.
I find my self following the vines down into the heart of the plant, weaving my fingers through branches and smashed blossoms hoping to avoid cutting living growth.
But then we find some are so wedded to the azaleas, we cannot help but cut off the lost portions. Finally we are at the bottom of the plant. And now as we grasp at the roots and dig into the soil, we find that yes the bush itself must be pruned so we can get closer to the core.
So we begin judiciously cutting just those that obscure our path. But soon, the pruning reaches higher as we clear a path to the source of the infestation.
After a while, the last root is cleared.
But my poor bush, it seems so open and vulnerable now that we can see its inner structure.
“Now there can be new growth”, my compatriot reassures me.
I nod in assent, but the sadness seeps out of my pores.
Yes, there will be new growth, but till then she will look so small and brave.
And if you think I am talking only about my azaleas, you have not been paying attention.
Submitted by katrina on Mon, 05/23/2011 - 2:42pm.
I have been struggling with what to call myself for over the last couple of years. I posted a question on Live Journal several years ago that spawned a rich discussion, but still left me scratching my head. Am I a witch, a magician, a shaman, a mystic, an oracle, a priestess or something else altogether?
Recently, I had settled on “wiccan mystic” after using “shaman and mystic” for a few years. But now I am once again grasping at straws.
This all came up recently at the urging of my mentor, Dr. Michael Conforti. He wants me to drop all the qualifiers that reference my religion, my role in the tradition or any of my in-born traits (like psychic or healer). He thinks they unduly restrict my audience and leaves me in a small niche within the marketplace of ideas.
He said something that made me think as well as laugh really hard. He said, would you ever hear Elie Wiesel introduce himself saying, “Hello, I am a mystic and a Jew?”
I laughed and said, “Well, maybe he should!” But I of course understood what Conforti meant. Wiesel’s message transcends his spiritual orientation and ethnic background. And although we all know he is Jewish, he doesn’t have to declare it in order to be heard. *1
So why am I declaring my religion and spiritual orientation? Do I think that I would not be heard otherwise? Do I think that no one would notice unless I spelled it out for him or her? Am I using it as a smokescreen to hide behind?
I have no idea. Sigh …
But I am old school, I shout back in defense. I call myself black or African-American because I am proud of my African heritage. I call myself Cherokee and Irish for the same reasons. I declare myself a witch and a bisexual because I believe that doing so may help make it safe for others. I own my disability and my tough urban background because I am not ashamed of who I am or where I am from. In fact, a lot of my self-descriptions are matters of pride, a stand taken in the face of oppression.
I say to the world, “This is who I am. Deal with it!”
But is this something that is still needed? Does the world not know who and what I am? If you read my words, attend my classes & rituals, or see me walking down the street, what else really needs to be said?
Michael Conforti is also from a tough urban upbringing. And when he opens his mouth, you can sometimes hear it. But you also hear his scholarship, his brilliance and his passion.
Does he have to express his roots as in “I am a Catholic and a Brooklyn born Sicilian”, in order to exhibit his pride?
Conforti and I have been discussing one of my father’s precepts -- respect or fear. “If you do not show me respect, you will have cause to fear me.” I have lived out this precept most of my life. In fact, I now realize that I fall back on generating fear as defense mechanism. I am uncomfortable being seen as tame or harmless. But as I age and my physical limits grow, it is getting harder for me to effectively live with this as an operating principle.
So now, I use the moniker of witch to generate fear, suspicion and surprise. (And other various tools of the inquisition!) Which is kind of silly at so many levels. I mean, I am a large black woman with a booming voice, what else do I truly need to shock people anyway.
What if I shocked them instead with my scholarship, my intellect, my passion and my humor? What if I stopped trying to frighten people and instead just focused on expressing my thoughts, ideas and musings?
In many ways, that is exactly what I have been doing for the last two decades. So why is it so hard to craft a self-description that is in-line with how I actually present myself?
I don’t know. But I am a lot closer now that I have begun to think about it critically.
So who am I?
- I am a teacher, a blogger, an author, a web designer and a singer/songwriter.
- At some point, if I am successful, I will become a certified archetypal pattern analyst.
- I am a mystic and a pagan.
- I started a school, a ritual group and a spiritual tradition.
- My ancestry is African, Cherokee and Irish.
- I am bisexual and I self identify as queer.
- I have academic degrees in electrical engineering and computer science.
- I worked in the telecommunications/internet technology field for 25 years.
- I spent over forty years as an activist in the black nationalist, communist, labor, feminist and other political/social justice movements.
- The mountain and river of my birth are both called Anacostia in the city of Washington DC.
- I returned to DC in 1990 and bought a home.
- And my name is Katrina Messenger.
- And I am so much more than all of this …
All of these statements are true.
Which of these, if any, do I use as my calling card to the world?
1.What is funny is that the Elie Wiesel page in Wikipedia does exactly what Conforti says not to do. The opening line is, Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel is a Romanian-born Jewish-American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor. Considering that it was probably written by someone other than Wiesel, it's still kind of amusing.
Submitted by katrina on Mon, 05/16/2011 - 8:10pm.