what is the risk of living fully?

This is a little meta. Or maybe more a bit like taking the local bus rather than the express. But bear with me.
I want to point you to this essay about the film “Free Solo” (trailer). That essay will take you to the documentary itself, about climbing El Capitan alone and without ropes. From that stop, you’ll have your own journey about the questions of courage, risk, perfectionism, and purpose.
This movie, even just the thought of it, makes my body tense. I hold my breath. Yet I also feel seduced by an invitation to know the potential we hold within each of us.
If the veil is thin, shimmering and undulating in some psychic breeze, then that movement invites the question: what makes us feel alive and how much more room might we actually have in that aliveness?


honoring the process of death

Everything ends. Everything is fleeting, temporary. This feeling, this open wound, this particular phase of the moon — we want it to be the way it is, but it isn’t. It is the way it will be, and will be after that.
Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t get too used to one thing, because it will become another. Don’t worry. You won’t stay as you are, either. This body is not the same one you had a year ago, ten years ago. Have you kept up with who you are now?
What will you continue to teach after you’re gone? Who will have your name in their mouths? What if it is no one? What if you are never internet famous, what if you never run a start-up that is the next cover of Wired, what if you do not leave a patented invention? What will you do with your life if you knew all you had was just your feelings when you create, your connections, your kinetics?
The great divine energy that is all that is loves to experience. The divine loves experiences so much that they have shattered themself into an innumerable amount of beings, each able to feel and see and hear and taste and love in different ways. They are moving through you to explore all there is to explore in your unique form. Do not deny the world your insights.
Do not be so selfish as to keep your gifts to yourself — even if they, too, will be temporary, will end, and may never be what you want them to be.
When something is dying, what happens? A withering, a crash; a crunch, a soft fading. Sometimes, things to do not go between the worlds willingly. Sometimes there is struggle. There is struggle all around, right now, as the old systems are dying.
Rage, rage, into the dying of the light.
Is there struggle in you? What is struggling to die? What should you be letting die with dignity, but aren’t? What wishes to sing itself into the great long slumber?
Me, I am shedding layers built up and I cower feeling the wind on my raw skin. It is hard to believe this is better, that this is where I should be: to look at the hard thing that I know will gut me and do it anyway. And I do it, and I do hate it, and that hate fades, and I have done it. Everything is fleeting, temporary.
Everything ends.
This body, too, will be a corpse.
Merry Samhain; happy Halloween.


Passing Equinox and heading towards Solstice

The pivot point of equinox has passed, the nights are getting longer and temperatures are cooler.   I anticipate a season of curiosity and reflection.  And time for illuminating awareness and playing in realms of consciousness.
This summer in my community, Tahlequal, a member of the southern resident orca pod of the Salish Sea, carried her deceased infant for 17 days and nights.
She swam through the waters of Northwest Puget Sound and Canada, her grief palpable and visible.  Humans, sea mammals, mountains, and waters witnessed her expression.  I could feel her grief song, which vibrated in the water of my cells connecting me to this watery planet.
It was a state of non-ordinary … some would even describe this as a unitary consciousness.
How do I describe the non-ordinary? I think of ordinary awareness is the area of the mind.  Linda Bark, in her book What would you like to Change? based on the work of Jean Gebser, describes that the mental dimension “is a place of being and knowing which is based on logical, sequential, critical and mechanistic thinking.  Non-ordinary awareness is the realms of magical, mythical, the divine source.”
Another source book that has assisted my understanding is Consciousness Explained Better by Allan Combs.
What do you think the orca whales have to say about realms of consciousness?  I listen to whale songs, and settle into the mystery.


Take a deep breath in honor of trees and bushes

I am grateful for the abundance of living vegetation in my neighbor.
I asked my friend, who is an arborist, “What happens to the plants and trees when there is smoke from the fire in the air?”
He responded, “They like the CO2 from the fire, it is like fertilizer to them”.
Abundance. Look around and gather the garden vegetables, pumpkins, squash, plums, blackberries, apples, pears, late strawberries dripping from branches. And there are tall trees, shrubs, plants and flowers. I am harvesting not only the produce, but also the emissions from photosynthesis by the green leaves and needles.
Harvesting air by breathing.
Oxygen is food for your cells, breathing has the ability to excite to readiness or to calm and expand. I practice diaphragmatic breathing. During an inhale, notice the expansion of the lower ribs (points for contact with the diaphragm) to the front, back and sides. At the end of an exhale, the next moment all things are possible. At the end of an inhale, all is abundant.
The green leaves and needles that live around me, offer their silent photosynthesis. Today, I visit these neighbors and breath with them.


Report from the field of combustion

Smoke from the fires is what we hear on the news. According to the agency monitoring Washington State air quality, the last four days Seattle has had “Unhealthy” air quality. A step away from “Hazardous.” This comes with a recommendation to stay indoors, close all windows, and use an air conditioner (who has one of these in Seattle?). It is also recommended to refrain from strenuous activity outside for people and dogs.
Here is the laboratory: confinement, heat, energy, plenty of vegetables, water, art supplies, two humans, and two dogs.
This is a perfect setting for experimenting with pleasure.
“There is power in pleasure. Pleasure can balance, restore, and transform us. It can change us physically, energetically and emotionally. Our bodies are designed for pleasure.”
     – From Wonder Body: A Sophisticated Coloring Book for Curious Adults
Moving through emotions of anxiety, fear, joy, frustration, and ease—we wore pajamas all day, we drank ice tea, made homemade dog treats that included zucchini from the garden, groomed, painted, and painted some more. This bizarre daylight with the red sun created unique shadows and changed the color on the canvas. We sang loudly, watched musicals. I don’t know what will be next but we have pinpoint focus on our next breath.
We are trying to make sense of the unrecognizable sun. Every living being is being affected by the smoke.
We are cooked, creative, in an altered state from the containment.
How are you?


harvest season

It’s harvest time, so of course here’s the obligatory golden field of wheat photo. I’ve definitely noticed more corn around, and the bigger, thicker squashes in people’s urban gardens (so envious, my tiny container garden right now consists of a few scraggly cherry tomatoes and kale that is 90% eaten by caterpillars).
The wheel of the year has a cross-quarter celebration August 1st, one of the ones halfway between a solstice and an equinox. This one is Lammas, very much a celebration of harvest — of what we planted in the spring at Imbolc (February 2). I’m thinking back to the intentions that I planted and noticing that I really am in a different space, and really did plant energetic wishes that are now blooming.
Here, the wild blackberries are also really ripe, so our plans have been to make some bread and some blackberry jam (which will probably actually be squashed blackberries, not formal jam with the boiling of the jars and all that). I haven’t made time for that yet, but it will happen! I feel flexible with my celebrations, though I like doing a little something, at least, day of.
This year, I did a tarot spread (I know, shocker) from Little Red Tarot, who I found because they have a “Queering the Tarot” series that has been fun to read. The article with the spread also has more information on lammas and the energies of this time of year.
Enjoy! And happy harvesting, of whatever it was that you have been planting, nurturing, and growing.
— Zed
PS: Exciting announcement — Erotix: Literary Journal of Somatics is almost ready! It’ll be out at the end of August.


Components of Combustion

Components of combustion
What does it take to safely light things up?


com·bus·tion – kəmˈbəsCH(ə)n/
  1. an act or instance of burning
  2. a usually rapid chemical process (such as oxidation) that produces heat and usually light  ;  also : a slower oxidation (as in the body) 
  3. violent agitation – tumult

This summer’s wildfires—in California, across the west, in Europe, and even the arctic circle—have ignited needing only three components: air, fuel, and spark. They spread a visceral and primoridal fear as they destroy land, lives, and threaten the air we breathe. Yet they also bring life, unleashing the potency of serotinous cones that open in the heat.
It’s hard to imagine, but in a few months I might be grateful to curl up next to the contained heat of a wood fire: burning brightly but contained by hearth, dangerous carbon monoxide and other byproducts carried safely up the flue. This combustion is ancient and I am grateful to the inventions that make it safe.
I’m on a long drive right now, relying on the internal combustion of my car’s engine. Back in the day, when automobile engine’s were simpler, a balky engine could be diagnosed by checking the four fundamental components: air, fuel, compression, spark. All four were necessary for the smooth running of an engine which is really a series of small repetitive explosions safely contained by the strong metal of the engine block. Remarkabley, all four continue to be present in the right proportions for mile after mile. Small wonder!
And just a few week’s ago, I was in the desert heat at our Portals of Pleasure retreat, witnessing with wonder the process by which humans could combust, burn off the residue, ignite change—all while anchoring deeply, tethering themselves lest their heat rise too quickly.
Heat. Combustion. Potency. Big powers to play with this August. But so much potency too.
Looking forward to hearing what Alex and Zed are firing up this month.


Rise and Shine

I spent some weeks in British Columbia earlier this month and, as result, been thinking alot about bread. They eat ‘alot’ of it here, or at least ‘alot’ by my standards. Now mind you, I love bread. Anyone who knows me knows I will probably ask for an onion bagel on my deathbed. But lately I’ve been trying to eat more veggies and legumes, and less bread. So I’d lost touch, sort of, with the magic of this material.
What I’m noticing is the complexity of the very matter that is bread. The way it has tenacity, wants to cling to its bread-like form despite being filled with holes and spaces.
I’m noticing the way tearing away a piece leaves as many crumbs outside my mouth–on my lap, my laptop, my floor–as it does crumbs and chunks inside my lips.
I’m noticing the holes, the tiny little portals carved out by the complexity of the relationship of flour and water and yeast, how they danced together in the baking, how they worked together to leave behind this holy thing for my sustenance.
I’m reminded of the ways we dance with others, sometimes creating resilient structures together, sometimes only leaving behind the echoing holes.
I’m in awe of these holes.
And grateful for them too.


“To make [my story] not too heavy, I plunged it into the water.”

Hello from Portals of Pleasure!

We are on retreat right now, at our annual five-day deep dive in New Mexico. I invite you to tune in to our circle, radiating outward and connecting to all of you beloveds who follow and accept our work — you create part of the larger energetic circle.
Just take a deep breath and think of us through Sunday the 22nd, we’ll be gathered and experimenting and rooting into wildness. We’ll be breathing & thinking of you, too.
Wait, there’s one more thing I want to share with you.

I mentioned that I’d seen this short film with a dancer underwater this month on the video Amy + Alex + I made and posted to the Patreon (you can join us here and support our ongoing work — it makes a big difference for us on this end!) I found it stunning, and have watched it many times.
The film is Ama by Julie Gautier.
What an incredible portal of pleasure.
— Zed


A Wonder Woman rabbit hole of delight

First, a quick note!

Portals of Pleasure, our annual 5-day retreat, is coming up July 18-22. We still have some space in it if you feel called to join us! We also have one full scholarship left for a person of color, which includes airfare (thank you, donor!). If you or someone you know would be a good fit for that, please do get in touch with us.
— Zed
Now, on to Alex’s note to you! 

I have fallen into a rabbit hole of delight.

It happens occasionally, and I find it invigorating and transformative.
It started with another nudge to see the movie Professor Marston and Wonder Woman. As a teenager in the 1970s, I had rejected Wonder Woman based on my idea that she an image designed by men, so I was reluctant to see the movie.  I had waited for its appearance in theatres in Seattle, but must have missed it so I rented it last week.
Then it happened: I fell down a rabbit hole.
The movie was sexy and delightful.  I had a dream about the content, and decided to watch it again.  Then I was inspired to read more about the Marstons DISC theory of human emotion and interaction: Dominance, Inducation, Submission and Compliance.  I also found more about Angela Robinson, the director, and Jill Lepore, the author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman.
What was delightful was all the surprises.  I didn’t know much about the history of Wonder Woman, about the screen writer/film maker, or about early academic theory about the emotional traits and dominance/submission. But I feel in love with the images and ideas of Angela Robinson and the thoughts of Jill Lepore.
I wondered through this for a few days, tasting the ideas and thoughts of these thinkers and erotic pioneers.  And to follow my pleasure and interests.
Here is the trailer; check it out.