Soul Speaks

I am in Sedona assisting Suzanne Scurlock-Durana with Healing From the Core: Release and Renewal for my eighth year in succession.  I return because I am fed by the energy of the Red Rocks of Sedona and it’s spectacular vistas. The brilliant sunshine and sparkling air and water enter my body at a cellular level.  Here I easily connect with the power of the elements of nature and I am nurtured and nourished deep09-IMG_5477ly.  The circle of people who gather for this retreat have a commonality of purpose and understanding that allows for deep connection and bonding quickly.  In this sacred space created by nature and manifested by a network of souls, I step into a field of safety and support. Here I am able to drop into the deepest layers of myself and communicate with my Soul Self.

Yesterday I made that deep connection and allowed Soul to speak to me.  This is what she said.

Soul Speaks:

Release your fear of lack for there is abundance all around you.  Open your eyes wide, be in love with your life and all that you have.  Expect nothing and discover that you have everything.  Begin where you are now.  It is enough.  You are enough.  The time is ripe for openings, new beginnings and growth of all kinds. 

Use what you have on hand.  Look around.  Finish the unfinished without need for anything more to be added.  Allies abound.  You are supported at every turn.  The Universe is conspiring for your success.  Your success, your growth and expansion into the experience of absolute abundance requires the successful growth and expansion of others.  As they succeed, you succeed.  Give of yourself and share all that you have with wild abandon asking for nothing in return.  Withhold nothing in your giving.

Your life of absolute fearlessness, of absolute compassion and giving will create a reality of absolute joy.  Laughter, song and dance will fill each moment of your life and you will dwell in the experience of love eternally.Cathedral Rock

Mountain Valley Retreat…Launching!

Here I go, ready or not! Launching the new website for Mountain Valley
Retreat! Let me know what works for you and what does not…I will greatly appreciate all feedback.

Lessons From a Leaf

falling leaf

I am getting ready to launch the website for Mountain Valley Retreat. Building the retreat has been a significant endeavor for the past year and for the last few weeks I have been creating the website with the help of my friend, Brad Lucas. Every day this week I have lost myself in writing the text and finding the pictures to try to convey the heart and soul of the retreat we are building.  I sit at my laptop when the sun comes up and close the lid after dark.

Today, I received an email from my dear friend Pat Tuholske. I read her beautiful words that speak so poignantly of trust and change and tears well in my eyes.                                    “If you were a leaf on a tree, would you be the first to cast off in the late summer breezes or the last one to cling on stubbornly until bitter winter winds force you to let go?”                                          I feel myself longing for something unnamed.

Lessons From a Leaf
Watching fluttering leaves fall fills me with a contradiction of feelings. I get the slight sadness that summer is over yet the thrill of witnessing the wonder of the alchemy occurring within the leaf. Observing the transmuting cycle of spring’s leaf buds bursting with new life, summer’s fullness converting sun into food, autumn’s grace of falling colors, winter’s patience trusting the cycle.

Have you ever seen a single leaf twirling from the tip of a limb when no other leaves are moving and there is barely a breeze? When I see that leaf I feel the tree speaking to me in a language long forgotten by humans. This tree language shouts in falling curtains of color: let go, trust, fall, don’t fear, change.

Connected to the tree for the entire growing season, the leaf possesses the wisdom of release. Falling to earth, caressed by the wind, it is able to express its own inner timing. Performing its final dance with the air, the leaf gives itself to the soil.

If you were a leaf on a tree, would you be the first to cast off in the late summer breezes or the last one to cling on stubbornly until bitter winter winds force you to let go?

When I feel stuck on something, I follow the teachings of the falling leaf. If I feel an issue tugging at me, I go watch the falling leaves. It helps me to let go of the struggle and understand falling is not a failure but a surrender to the cycle of change.
Pat Tuholske
This entry was posted in Ozark Flora and Fauna, The Human-Nature Journey on October 14, 2013.

A Letter to my Soul Mates

etheric meditationI wrote a letter this morning and I share some of it here because it speaks to all of my new and old heart connections…
I have often felt awe at the connections I have with you and others in my life that are beyond my ordinary understanding. I can only imagine that we are interrelated throughout many lives as I recall a book I once read called Return of the Revolutionaries. Dr. Epstein explains about “Soul Groups.”
Soul Groups are individuals who make a pact on a soul level to move through lifetimes together; changing roles, changing gender, race, ethnicity and interrelationships. A friend in one lifetime may have been a wife, child, parent, or someone else in a previous lifetime. The group has a common thread running through all their lives and relationships. I think he called it the Soul Group Mission. It is a large-scale mission, shifting the global thought field. The group Dr. Epstein tracked in his book was revolutionaries in the American Revolution and continue to walk the cutting edge of revolutionary thought regardless of their occupations in this life. (Oprah Winfrey is an incarnation of one of the souls he tracked.)
When I read the book, it rang true for me. I have noticed that in the past 20 years, and especially in the past 6 years, the friends that I have deep heart-felt connections with, practice healing methods that are outside the mainstream view of medicine. They include art therapists, organic farmers, teachers, writers, actors, sound healers, energy workers, yogis, bodyworkers, psychologists, movement therapists, physicists, shamans, and non-traditional nurses and doctors.
I think that our “soul group” chose the mission of changing the worldview regarding healing.
I have no doubt that you and I are partners in this soul group and that we are affecting the global field with our beliefs and actions regarding the way healing happens.
Interestingly, it is a return to indigenous ways supported by modern science. Quantum physics has now proven what the ancient mystics intuitively knew: every thought-form put into the field affects the field.
All fields entrain themselves toward the strongest, most organized field. Our thoughts draw to our awareness from the unlimited Universal field of all-potential the experience we are having.
The most intriguing and thrilling aspect of my life is the repeated experiences I have that support this belief. When I meet someone from my Soul Group, we both experience a feeling of remembering and reconnecting on a soul level. The level of comfort and communication is deep and immediate. I am smiling as I think about what the future is holding for us, just waiting for us to think the thought!


Over the Threshold

Tipis outside the Buffalo Bill Historical Cent...

Tipis outside the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming

As I sit at my workstation poised for my morning writing session, I review my notes on Ganesha from the first session of Writing Your Practice. I am searching for an inspiration. I read what Susanna spoke about the Ganesh concepts: “You have everything you need, create from your own resources. Move through the thresholds that present themselves. Embrace Change.”
I grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Tipis are a part of my heritage. Indian blood flows through the veins of my personal lineage, if not my mothers or fathers of this lifetime. The evidence of this has surfaced repeatedly throughout my life and I embrace this part of who I am.
When I considered how to house the seminarians who would be coming to Mountain Valley Retreat, tipis seemed like the perfect solution. I purchased three 20’ canvas tipis. As the retreat took form, I “saw” where the tipis would sit and I realized that in the east we would erect the “men’s lodge.” In the west would be the “women’s lodge” and in the center of the property, the “children’s lodge.” These directional placements align with the corresponding positions on the Native American medicine wheel.
The artwork of tipis has always fascinated me. Native people used the tipi hide to tell their personal stories. The designs of the tipis were the province of the women in the tribe. Dreams often inspired the paintings as well as personal power animals and significant exploits and experiences. Medicine shields and elemental allies would also find their way to the canvas of the tipi.
As I dreamed about the tipis I was putting on our sacred ground, I felt a responsibility to respect the lineage of this ancient art form. I felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the canvas I had before me, let alone the task of designing and painting the murals. I decided to begin with the women’s lodge…I had to start somewhere.
I made calls to try and locate a “real” artist to commission or at least assist me as I felt unequal to the task at hand.  I also noticed there was a resistance to bringing in outside help.  I kept moving forward, doing what I could to prepare. I read books and looked at tipi art. I watched for tipis when I traveled. I looked through paint color pallets and chose colors I was drawn to. I thought about what I wanted to represent on the women’s lodge. I asked for dreams of inspiration and they came.
I got my boyfriend to help me carry one of the tipis into our newly constructed yurt, a 30’ diameter, 706 square foot round structure that is our large meeting space. Laid out on the floor, the tipi has to be folded in HALF to fit inside the yurt. Holy shit! This really IS a huge canvas! For two weeks it lay there as I looked at it and wondered what to do next. I called my friend Star and she came and looked at it with me. I told her what I dreamed it would look like and we spent a day searching the internet for images and making sketches. She made some full scale sketches and I planned to have her help me with some of the actual painting.
As I stood looking at the canvas one evening I thought to myself, “I have ten people coming for Thanksgiving. I need places for them to sleep. I can’t keep looking at this blank canvas…it is time.” I went out early the next morning with tools in hand and penciled in the phases of the moon around the top. With a brilliant blue I filled in the back ground sky. It went much quicker and easier than I had feared.  It was beautiful!  The ice was broken.
I knew I wanted to represent our land around the base with earth colors and rather than a brush I used a sponge to get a three-dimensional effect of the mountains. It worked and the sponge method was much faster than the one-inch brush I had used on the moons.
I was undecided as to whether to fill in the night sky above the moons but the sponge worked so well I decided to put a North Star above the full moon and  fill the rest with a field of stars on blue.  I ran out of blue paint just as I finished. I love validation!
The “easy” part done, what remained were the drawings of two red-tailed hawks, a medicine woman, a wolf, a raven and some large pine trees.  No more sponge painting…
Last night I sat on the canvas with several drawings around me and began sketching a hawk. When I finished, I realized that I am the artist I was seeking. I can do this. I am doing this. I have walked up to a threshold, met my fears and stepped through to the other side. Today I will paint the red-tailed hawk, messenger from the gods.tipi moons and north star

Lemur Returned


I have had mystical experiences throughout my life. It is only recently, in the past decade, that I have embraced them without reservation and only very recently, in the past year or so, that I have written about them and shared them publicly.

Lemur was special. Over the years I have given home to over fifty cats but Lemur stood out as unusually beautiful, intelligent and charming.

He was extra large, weighing in at almost twenty pounds and pure white with that tail that gave him his name. Standing straight as a stick into the air, his tail was grey with black rings looking every bit like a lemur’s.

I don’t know his lineage or early history…just that he showed up in the urban neighborhood of my friend Paul and worked the ‘hood getting attention and food from several families.

The day Paul was moving across town he discovered Lemur had crawled into his open car as he made trips back and forth to the house. Paul got the message that Lemur wanted to go with him and that day he became Paul’s cat and best friend. Paul often talked about the antics and idiosyncrasies of Lemur as I sat across from him admiring the framed photo of Lemur on his desk.

After Paul died, at the too early age of fifty, I was standing with his four sisters at the funeral home. I asked which of them was taking Lemur. Eva looked at me with a degree of embarrassment and said, “None of us.” I asked, “Really? Who then?” When they told me they were taking Paul’s beloved Lemur to the pound I was truly shocked. Without thinking I said, “I’ll take him.”

At that point I had four dogs and six cats but I figured it would be easy to find a good home for this beautiful well mannered cat I had heard so much about but never met. It didn’t take long before I knew the “good home” was mine. He was just too special not to keep.

A few years later my life took a 180 degree turn and as I packed my things to move away from the life I had known for thirty-five years, I never even considered leaving Lemur behind.

Lemur and I had two great years alone in the woods in a little log cabin and then it was time to make the big leap and we crossed the country in our version of a covered wagon to California.

I am in my fifth year here in the mountains that rise from the desert floor just short of the Pacific Ocean. Lemur died a couple of months ago following a short but vicious bout of cancer. He is buried under the huge oak tree in the northwest corner of the property with a pile of stones marking his spot.

My story takes a turn now. Let me tell you about the hummingbirds.albino hummingbird

When G and I set up house I unpacked a hummingbird feeder but it didn’t make it into a tree until about a year ago. I would fill it with sugar water and the acorn woodpeckers that proliferate the many oak trees on our property would promptly suck it dry. The hummers didn’t have a chance against these large aggressive birds and I let the feeder hang empty.

In June we built a patio and in it’s center is a beautiful fountain. The day we turned it on six hummingbirds arrived to bathe in and drink the running water  We removed the perches from the feeder, moved it closer to the fountain and filled it with nectar.  The hummingbirds started feeding almost immediately without the competition of the ‘peckers.

At the end of July I headed for a five week stint at Esalen Institute. By this time the hummingbirds were crowding the feeder that G was filling twice a day so he went to the bird store and bought four more figuring he wouldn’t have to fill them so often…or more birds would come.

In a few days he was counting 30-40 hummingbirds on the feeders at a time!

Meanwhile, I was at Esalen in a shamanic workshop with Hank Wesselman. One of the ceremonies we did was a partner journey. With someone in the group that we did not know, we journeyed via the drumbeat to the lower world with the intention to find a power animal for our partner and bring it back to them. My partner, who knew none of what was going on back at my house, brought me a hummingbird. Her name is Joy.

The next day I was privileged to receive a healing from a Huichol Indian currendero.  During the healing she asked if I had lost anyone to death recently.  I told her no, thinking of the people in my life.  She persisted and I thought of Lemur.  When I said “Yes, my cat” she told me I was still “holding ” him and it was important for me to reach closure and let him go.

Lemur’s death had been shocking not only because of it’s sudden nature but also because I had not felt that the veterinarian had done her best for Lemur and those of us who loved him.  I had written a letter to her telling her how I felt, but concerned that perhaps I was over-reacting in my grief, I filed it away.  Now I understood I needed to revisit the letter and either mail it or burn it and let the issues I had around his death finally rest.

When I returned home from Esalen mailing the letter was one of the first things I did.

On the following day, G and I were sitting on the patio enjoying the fountain and the feeders with their flock of hummingbirds when suddenly a pure white bird appeared.  An extremely rare Albino hummingbird was at our feeder!  I ran into the house and got the camera and we took pictures and made a video of it.  As I was filming the video G was tracking it verbally and I heard him say, “there it goes!”  I looked up from the camera and watched as it flew across the property and landed on Lemur’s grave.  It sat for a few seconds on the stones and then flew up and perched on a limb directly over the grave.  For several hours it flew back and forth between the feeders near the house and to the tree under which Lemur’s body lies.  None of the other hummers left the grove of oaks the feeders hang from.  As I watched this beautiful, rare event unfolding in my yard I said to G, “It is Lemur.  He is back to tell me everything is alright now.”

One other person saw the white hummingbird.  My friend Jan, who lives about one-half mile away, took a picture of it the next day at her feeder.  Jan was the person who cared for Lemur when we were out of town. She adored him. He visited the two of us for four days.  We haven’t seen him since.

We live in a wonderful, mysterious world.  I am so grateful for this life I’ve been given.Lemur and GenSnowflake aka Lemur

Sit Simply

The new treatment room addition to the little house is finished. I have been moving into it and in doing so freed up space in my old treatment room that is in the big house.
I love my old treatment room. It is a sweet small space with a big window seat and its tucked away upstairs where it’s quiet and out of the way. As I cleaned out the closet I “saw” a meditation nook replacing the things I had stored in it that were moving to the new room we built out at the little house.
Yesterday I set about creating my vision. I took out the shelf system and moved it to the closet in the new room. I took down the hanging bead doors that had closed off the closet from the rest of the room. I filled the holes left in the wall from the shelves and sprayed them with wall texture and paint. When everything was dry, I stood and looked at the empty space imagining what belonged there.
Pulling down a box of sarongs and scarves in my bedroom closet I went through them and found a painted silk I bought in Mexico years ago. It is four by six feet and a soft beach scene. Sky, ocean, sun, palms, birds, sailboats…all the elements of nature are depicted and the colors are vibrant yellow, blue, red and green. When I gaze at it I feel the sensations of being at the beach and it has a calming effect…perfect!
I have been moving my library out of my bedroom to various bookshelves around the property. A small maple-wood three-shelf bookcase was freed up in the cleaning process so I brought it in and placed it so that the hanging silk just meets its top edge. The silk covers the wall almost totally above the shelves. I set the shelves on a small woven prayer rug I got from a medicine man we did sacred ceremony with in Peru. His wife wove it in red and black filling it with the animals of Peru and other elemental symbols.
Next I went to my yoga room. Standing in front of my altar, I selected items that felt right to grace the new altar I was creating. On the top shelf I placed an altar cloth that a dear friend made for me. It fit as if it had been made for the shelf. I placed a candle in the center to represent fire. A glass pyramid filled with sand and shells brought in the element of the sea. Hawk, turkey and jay feathers found in my yard represent air element and a clay hand sculpture is both earthy and representative of my work. A small glass dog was a gift from my grandmother’s neighbor given to me when I was four. It holds the energy of the grandmothers. I also placed a pair of brass meditation chimes, a Mala, a rosary and a third prayer bead necklace, all gifts with spiritual and historical significance for me.
On the second shelf I placed items that represent my shamanic work: my medicine bag and a second medicine bag that was given to me when I broke my arm by my friend, Gray Wolf; a turtle rattle from a pow wow I attended in South Dakota; a pheasant wing from a hunt I photographed with high school friends in South Dakota; and an icon of White Wolf, my power animal.
The bottom shelf has four small framed pictures: one of my children, one of my family taken when I was twelve, one of G and me, and one of myself taken with a Kirlian camera which captured my auric field.
My meditation cushion is facing the altar, all contained on the small prayer rug from Peru.
This morning I got up early, went in, and sat. It felt genuine to have a dedicated meditation nook and my meditation was effortless and rich. I felt as if my body responded to my intention to honor my practice with this effort, creating a place with no purpose other than to sit simply in prayer, contemplation and meditation. I am so blessed.IMG_4260[1]