Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sweet Gifts and Opportunities

Laura Tarnoff & me Jen Klarfeld, this Summer at Tarnoff Art Center
The Summer is flying by swiftly, signifying an air of joy in my heart, despite the human highs and lows I see experienced by many around me, and that I occasionally feel within. I eagerly sought out love earlier this year, first bonding with a fellow Starseed in South America, and leaving go of that rushed union, a couple of full moons in. Later I test drove a more grounded love, with a recycled old lover and friend. We shared a lovely weekend together in May, in my beloved Santa Fe. It was all very sweet. Still about four months into mainly texting via facebook messages, it felt more like a sober business exchange, than what I know as a full fired love of the present moment. So I let these two counterbalances return back to their origins, the second, with friendship still intact.

I treated myself to a beautiful Tibetan Buddhism weekend retreat in Santa Fe, this Spring, led by a very light-hearted, and sweetly inspiring Teacher, Anam Thubten, Founder of Dharmata Foundation, out of Point Richmond, CA. The friends I met here, some familiar, and some new, were a delightful circle. The teachings and practice were very non-dogmatic, peaceful, replenishing and refreshing to me. There is even a lovely couple, who offer free talks, and Sangha, minutes from my home.

My dear friend Laura Tarnoff's Art Center is firmly taking root, with grants to reach and teach art to more children, in Pecos and Rowe, NM. I was invited to assist the teachers this Summer, and Laura and I even co-taught a day together, which was intense, wild, and fulfilling. Assisting to teach art to local kids, age 6 to 13, was challenging, and humbling too.  Many of the kids bare the burdens of the struggles of their parents, and the crazy challenges of life. Kids, I learned are not immune to the stresses of the adult world. Still we entered sacred space, and shared a lot of new learning, mastery, attention, intention, creativity, and learning together. It was demanding, and equally rewarding. I lived vicariously, learning new art secrets, and felt honored being there in service and support of these bright kids, local community, and of creativity itself. It was indeed a dream come true.

Also the process of painting I was gifted to share weekly support in this Winter, came to fruition in a beautiful, delightful, surprising art show of artists, including me, called the Inspiration Squad, who gather and create at Tarnoff Art Center.
My art can also be found at: 

My Precious Dad celebrating his birthday with Family!

In the mix was a dear visit to my Dad & California Mom, and a small California Family Reunion, which warmed my heart, and celebrated my Beloved Dad, in a good way. Dad enjoyed a big birthday surrounded by Loving Family.  Dad and Mary also completed my Dad's fourth book "Mysteries of Alien Technologies," in time for Dad's 11th appearance on Coast to Coast AM Radio & his upcoming presentation and class at Contact in the Desert, this month.

I was gifted to be a featured guest on two radio shows, Co-Creator Radio with Maxine
Taylor, thanks to my doting Dad. This was a truly special & rewarding experience, which is archived for eternity, at the following link: 
& Quantum Mindfulness Radio with Earth Angel Joel Ayala Ayapana, a highly victorious Explorer of Trailblazing Transformation.
The precious interview with Author Joel Ayala Ayapana will air sometime in September.

While some of Santa Fe was being pummeled by hail, earlier this year, Laura and I were given a special gift to participate in a new abstract art, weekend intensive, for free, as led by our friend James Koskinas, at his wife Julie Schumer and his Art Studio, performance and educational space: Parkway Artspace. A whole lot of transformation, freedom, inspiration, and renewal was fueled at the first expression of "Where the Pavement Ends." The spark which helped grow this intensive was an invitation and experience of James teaching kids, and me, this adult kid, at Tarnoff Art Center, last Winter.  Wow!  I am spilling over with gratitude for these gifts and treasures shared!

Summer continued with an adventurous road trip, as I answered the call to join my friend Laura Tarnoff and our mutual friends, old and new, for my first Sundance in this incarnation. Three daring girlfriends set out on a beautiful, scenic roadtrip, through Northern New Mexico, to the Navajo Nation, in Red Valley Arizona, in a big truck pulling behind a modern camper.

The Sundance was birthed and led by Howard Bad Hand, an old Friend of Laura's and her Parents, from South Dakota. I had met Howard a couple of times, at Santa Fe's own, Indian Market, and at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs. In fact today is a special birthday for him, according to his bio on their website:
I must say, I didn't fully get, or even appreciate Howard, until seeing his dear, service oriented being in action, and in dancing motion, at his very inspiring global event. He is the Intercessor of the High Star Sun Eagle International Sundance for Peace.

The Land of Enchantment, on the road to Sundance
My Ex-Beloved Kamajou introduced me to Laura Tarnoff, seven or so years ago, when they worked together at the local watering hole in my neighborhood, here in Santa Fe. I am an Artist, from Winnetka originally, raised in a Jewish Family outside of Chicago.  Similarly Laura is an Artist, raised in neighboring Northbrook, from a half Jewish, half Italian Family, outside of Chicago. Needless to say, we recognize each other as Souls, and through many lifetimes, and cultures we hold near and dear to our hearts. We are regular loud pilgrims to the sacred waters of Ojo Caliente, the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, Indian Market, Afreeka Santa Fe's Fiesta Fela and now Sundance, and endless creative and art making endeavors.

When I first met Laura, we swapped business art cards, of which we each had a whole variety, like our own mythical tarot card decks, in the restaurant, down the street from my home. Laura invited me to tend the fire, at her vision quest, up in Rowe NM. I came up, slept on her Dad's couch, and tended a small fire, from 2:00 to 4:00 am, while Laura sat up all night long, in a sweatlodge structure outside, awaiting unique medicine visions and spirit visits. Tom, her husband, feared for his wife's possible demise, as a roving grizzly bear's feast. A woman shaman and cosmic hypnotherapist, stayed on alert, inside.  In the morning I was invited into my first sweatlodge of this incarnation, with Laura, her Dad, Sherwin, and Friends. It was very sacred. What a way to begin a friendship!

Laura took on such a commitment, after facing the death of her Mother, and after many years around the Sundance, Medicine Men, and Sundancers, including her Mother, when they lived in South Dakota. Laura wholeheartedly invited me to Sundance over seven plus years of friendship.  I felt intrigued, yet never enough to prioritize it. I have my sacred circles, that are pretty non-dogmatic, I thought. Laura has hers. "Maybe someday, when I am more retired, or have more money, then I will go," I told myself, year after year.

Howard Bad Hand Sundance Intercessor
This year a mutual friend agreed to join Laura, to attend and be a supporter at the Sundance. Without over-thinking it too much, one day I decided, this year I can do it, and so I will. The timing just felt right. There was no huge problem calling me to heal it, more over all, an openness of heart, and a bit of blockage to clear toward naming and taking my next life steps.

So join in, I did! We were really welcomed, and quickly too. I really did not know a lot about the whole thing.  I am steeped in shamanic tradition, in my community circles for about 25 years now, which certainly helped.

We awoke the first day around four something, and made it to the dance grounds to see the giant red sun arise in the East. Dancing began in the circle's center. There were prayer sticks erected in white, red, black, and yellow, denoting the circle, and an open gateway, at each direction. We sat in some folding chairs in the South, under a round arbor of a sheltering sort. Not too many people were there so early, beyond the dancers, and a few supporters. 

I followed Laura's lead standing up and gently dancing to the beat of the drums, the men were beating, behind the whole ceremony. Women chimed in and sang chants at times too. There was a lot of beautiful formations and simple continuous dancing, and calling in the spirits of the various directions, and or honoring their presence.  

I was singled out to receive the chanupa, the sacred Lakota pipe, of one of the dancers, after the beautiful dance came to a close, along side a small number of us. Friends old and new gathered round and guided me on the protocols. The women I came with gathered together, with some other supporters in attendance, and smoked the pipe to send the prayers more fully to Creation. Each time we engaged in new practices, new friends guided us on new ways and approaches. We were guided to say Mitakuye Oyasin, All my Relations, and to be sure the tobacco was completely smoked that all the prayers are sent. It felt very sweet and very honoring.  At times I though "L'chiam" the toast meaning "to life!" from my Jewish heritage, and from memories of my mother appearing in the community theater production of "Fiddler on the Roof!"

Something about how the dancers felt of the spirit worlds, and we helped serve them from the material world, felt very reassuring, reminding how unseens and seens are always working side by side, hand in hand.  It all felt surprisingly ego-less. I felt very guided, encouraged, seen, honored, and well useful. It was very dear. My modern mind questioned some of the details. The dancers do not drink water, and dance out in the hot sun, and we were told not to wear sunglasses, jewelry, or to drink water in front of the dancers ever. As time went on, it was what it was, yet at first, my mind wrestled with the whole concept of self deprivation. I kept comparing it to my transformation practice. It would never serve for me to deny a client of a glass of water. Why here? Later it all fit into a larger context where it made sense.

The second day we were there, was a very full day, to say the least. There were piercings both days, of men's chests and women's upper arms with eagle bones, and I had not bothered to fully read, ask, or learn why it all even takes place. Laura had described bits and pieces to me over the years.  A tree is cut down, and transplanted. No one is praying to the tree in and of itself, yet there is a larger energy that is generated through the tree, like a torodial field. See the movie "Thrive!"  Later I felt it was also like a small world, or sphere  around the whole circle, or perhaps several, within each other. At times it felt like the enhanced energy of the Sundance encompassed the whole Earth!

Our first afternoon included the piercing, and I was definitely reacting in some slight shock and horror, even if a low grade, from my modern American ego. At times I felt like a kid, judging "this is hard, I don't like this," people are suffering, and my trainings teach me that sacrifice in exchange for healing is outdated, and of a lower plane, than I am trained to work from. Had to keep reminding myself, I am not here to be pierced, and each dancer is choosing willingly to participate, piercing or no piercing! The empath in me was a bit outraged, and believed I was taking on some of the pain. Later I realized that there is a huge ego trip underneath the modern new age empath trip, and it kind of lost its hold on me. What ever feelings I felt in response to the ceremony, were meant to be, and also mine, and they certainly transformed, as the Sundance continued!

We were quite wiped out at the days end, and woke up with slightly less enthusiasm for seeing the big red new sun, the following morning.

There were difficult moments throughout the first two days, for me. My Western questioning mind, still rattled on, on and off. Our Friends were to get married, under the tree, the second day. Also the previous night, Laura's Friend and I requested healings and learned the protocol. We sat at the dinner table with the Chief, so to speak of the whole creation. He treated us warmly, with no ego at all. It was very refreshing. Our friend got her nerve up to ask him about a healing for us. We ended up gifting tobacco, and a very reasonable donation to Howard, and we were pleasantly instructed and provided with all the tools and a simple lesson, on how to create a prayer flay and 16 prayer ties each, out of grass green colored cotton fabric and tobacco. It was relaxing and freeing to have this earthy  receptacle for our direct prayers, without having to really burden another human ego, with the gory details. We were also counseled on how to keep our prayers very loose and free, and intention centered, not really controlling the outcome, or details too much!  

So we got our prayers in order, and felt a bit giddy, and goofy, sharing cookies and giggles before bed. Our friend the groom, came over to our neighboring camper, and shared some very very deep wisdom, guidance, truth and inspiration with us.  We shared many laughs. We joked that this was his bachelor party, yet the stripping was on a soul level, more than anything!

Was it that night, after our bachelor party, when I walked to the enclosed showers with Laura? They turned out to be ice cold, yet I was already invested! Laura went back to wait for a hot shower in the camper. I decided to call it an African shower, and just go with it, and did! On my way out, in the dark, a small to medium sized snake appeared ahead and to my right, startling me with waves of very high energy. I had my phone, in the dark, yet it was turned off. The mystery remains... rattler or no rattler.  Grateful I never found out. Lights from the open dining structure flooded out enough to reveal the third snake I have encountered live, and close up, this season. I turned around and waited a short eternity for the grace of my cell phone flash light to reboot with my phone.  I raced back to the camper, as Laura scolded me about letting bugs in.  All I could say was "wild animal!"

Snake medicine. Everyone I asked spoke of transformation. My business is called Trailblazing Transformation, I said. "Yes, yet this is for you!" they reminded. Later, upon return, I told my Earth Angel bosses, who import art of the Huichol People of Mexico. Mary said snake is the most powerful feminine symbol of all to the Huichol. I did feel a very high and energized sensation, after my safe, still close snake medicine encounter. I am, after all born in the Chinese year of the wood snake!

The second day was super full. Laura and I shared some misunderstandings and vented at each other, in ways we are not used to. We were both a bit worn down, and raw, even though we were not dancing formally, only supporting. I missed a breakfast, and was very outside of time, before the dinner, the first day, actually all days! An inner tenderness seemed to come out, and clash, or even simply just lash out, or express some extra needs, that we usually need not bother to attend to.

The next day we again missed the full sunrise, yet still arrived early. I stood, and sat at the edge, and on a log, nursing my cup of green pomegranate tea, extra long.  This day grew to contain a lot! We shared and danced in the morning, and our friend, the bride to be arrived, looking radiant, and wearing actual jewelry. We got to participate in a giant healing, where the 50 to 60 Sundancers circled round, in front of us, from their side of the circle, and patted us with their powers, their bird wings and feathers. This was really astounding. What a original treat.

Perhaps even before this was the wedding of our friends in the circle. We were led through cleansing with steam, and allowed into the circle, with the dancers. Before this, a very special gift transpired. A woman came, a Navajo lady who had received a deep and powerful healing last year. She brought a bag full of beautiful jewelry. She asked if we were dancers last year. We got to witness her powerful gratitude, and story of healing. I instinctively asked some dancers, and found two women who where the Sundancers last year. They each remembered her well. As the stories and feelings were shared back and forth, I was moved to tears by the power all of it, and the privilege to merely witness.

Finally the wedding time came, and we joined the Dancers in the circle. It was very sacred, very special, very divine, and very beautiful. After the very simple, down to earth ceremony and uniting, sharing and kissing, the bride and groom were wrapped in a quilted, hand made star blanket, and they were sent to circle around the whole circle. We all followed. Only later did we learn, the bride, was so in the moment, she did not even realize we all followed in their trail.

That day we were asked to support the groom, the bride and friends, as he was pierced, in a way that honored their union. We agreed. From inside the circle, somehow, we were more energized by the heart and core of the egoless, spirit centered group in the circle. So, for reasons beyond my full understanding, I must say that it was a pure joy. Four of us stood behind the groom, and stayed our centers while he and others were pierced in the center, by the tree. It was very energizing and dear. My thoughts, fears and reactions were not present, this day, at least not at this time.

After a brief break, we were, all four women and supporters, invited to stand, as guardians to the four gateways of the four directions, with me in the South, Laura in the West, the bride in the North, and our mutual friend in the East, the place of new beginnings.
This was a treat and a gift too. We were coached, and steam purified, and guided to our posts, out at the circle's edge. We were suited with shoulder sacs of cedar, and a hot canister, on a wire, holding a heated rock to burn the cedar. All day each one swung their cans at the gateways.  I was coached to twist the can instead of swing, which was unique. I did a bit of both. Laura got to help hold the smudge can to purify the dancers, in the West.

Now the order of it all, gets a little blurry. Yet after the wedding, sometime that afternoon, we were called in for our healings, by the tree. It was me, our friend, and a few others. Yet it all played out like one big healing concert, we all co-starred in. It seems this was after all the light fun stuff, after the wedding, the group healing, and the piercing, sometime. After the four direction stewarding. 

The healing for me, seemed gentle, and intense all in one. Our friend the groom, came and yet it felt like Creator talking through him to me. It felt very private, and it was not ego centered, like Western therapy, or doctoring. It was different. There was some guidance about letting my identifications go. I recall being asked if I was complete, so to speak, if I had left all I had to leave with the tree? It felt like I had not, as a huge well of sadness rose up. I had this healers conditioning, or good kid programing to not fully address it, so instead of telling the truth of, "no there is more," I acted good, and complete, and left. Yet the truth was otherwise. So I walked out of the circle still kind of unfinished. 

I sat outside that afternoon, feeling so spent, and for a few untold hours, tears poured out of my eyes and my being, with no end. Laura and I shared some words about what the source of this grief was. In the end it did not matter. It felt both attached to pain and sadness from my whole, and early life, perhaps from my adoption and womb time. Yet Sundance is not Western therapy, so the concern is not really on the why, how or what, the concern is on the releasing, and leaving behind what is not truly you! So I kept running like a faucet, mostly not attaching the grief to any specific time, memory, person, scapegoat, or thing! Yet I merely allowed it to flow out. I was a human tear machine, a giant raincloud personified. I felt physical pain bottled up inside, burtsing forth, and longed for an aspirin, for the first time in many many years! Yet in the morning, it had all passed, cleared, free! Any fear around it was cleared out with the pure grief! Refreshingly gone!  

There was a whole day after this, yet it all blends somewhat into one now. The third day included a giant rainstorm, where we got drenched and cleansed! There was a kind of wedding like receiving line at the end, after the rain, and both protection, clearing, and cleansing from the rain. One of the Women Dancers stopped and gazed into my eyes and soul, holding up the whole line, indefinitely. I was again moved to tears. A few more of the dancers, shared some kind of holy recognition with me. One we recognized as having such uniquely amazing energies and powers kissed me, as I did her, and honored that we would remain in touch.  And this theme went on, some.  It was really something.

I spanned the gamut, from being the outsider, being reluctant to participate, to accepting the invitation, to joining in, and over analyzing, and questioning, to accepting guidance, feeling honored, learning and teaching the sacred steps and details, to full participation, gratitude, honor, blessing, appreciation, awe, inclusion, and surrender.

The Sundance Tree: photograph by Phyllis Mae Helms
We bonded with more amazing new and familiar souls!  A friend from one of my dear soul family circles joined us, after I had thought "Gordon would love this!"  He certainly did. 

Three of the Women Sundancers looked like soul doubles for three of the Soul Sisters in our friend Lynda Star's Starseed Family Circle. This blew my mind, and I shared this with one of them. I was heartened by the dancers who exuded joy, thoughout, and while it was not an ego centered circle, the way some, male and female, maintained their own high heart and overflowed with bliss, and their own uniqueness through the uniform dance and protocol, made my heart bloom inside!

I made connections with some, yet not all of the sacred people I did not want to leave behind. We were informed that they were to pull down and chop the tree up, so we went back to the center and watched the dismemberment. I could feel that the energies were of total wholeness and balance now, so the tree's service was complete. The bride and groom collected small hand sized, round slices of the tree, one for each of us to take with us. Yet it is really us who take and leave what we need, while the tree pieces no longer seemed to be quite so significant.

And so it is here, on Howard Bad Hand's birthday, that I come to find myself, freshly cleaned out, revived, renewed, and with a new heightened sense of unity, service, connection, peace, prosperity, joy, grounding, clarity and love, flowing from inside of who I am, and we are.

The message from the whole, from through the tree, and the ceremony, and the richness of it all, was that of being as a hollow reed, as a hollow bone, as what shamanism has all along always been about. That energy field that was co-generated, co-created, co-birthed, co-originated, is the energy field we are, every one of us made from. The gift of Spirits and Angels, Medicine Powers and Medicine Animals and Plants, is the gift of being and resonating our true vibration, listening, witnessing, watching, giving, helping, and receiving.  The gift is that we are here sharing this sacred music, this sacred dance, this sacred awakening, healing, and creation!  For inclusion in this, I am so grateful!

This year I have been bouncing back and forth between pressuring myself from the inside out for who I expect myself to be for others, and  releasing myself back to the freedom of being who I am for me.  I am grateful!

Photograph from Facebook credited to Anja Photography, as shared by Lynda Star
Mitakuye Oyasin