Ahimsa + Sangha

Happy Friday beautiful, shining, powerful community!

We just wanted to send everyone off into the weekend with a little a lot of warm fuzziness!!!

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Last Friday we tested the power of the sangha (community) and practiced ahimsa (non-harm) with an acoustically accompanied yoga class and dinner event to raise donations for Farm Sanctuary! Coffee Shop Covers for COM|PASSion was a lovely night of good yoga, great food and heart warming community building! Deep Dog Yoga opened their doors and Joni Marie Newman, vegan chef and cookbook author (Just the Food), spoiled our bellies with tacos from Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen!!! We talked yoga and veganism and life. We can’t think of a better or more healing way to have spent a Friday night!

We are happy to say that we were able to send off $100 worth of love to Farm Sanctuary! You can see just a few of the furry and feathered faces that you supported with your COM|PASSionate donations above from our trip to the farm last year! We had our hearts set on adopting some turkeys this past Thanksgiving to come stay at revolution headquarters but with a possible move on the horizon for the core COM|PASSionate REVOLT team we were really happy to be able to support in a different way with your help and generosity!

Thank you so much community! What an amazing way to start of the the new year with an intention of COM|PASSion!!!!

In gratitude,

Lila, Turkey Lurkey, The Largest Brown Eyes You’ve Ever Seen, Mischevious Goats, Lounging Piggies and, of course, The COM|PASSionate REVOLT Team

Climbing Mount Stewart: Exploring Place in Dreams

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Last night, I dreamed:

 I ride my bike and walk up a large hill or small mountain. As I climb, everything goes wonky – the path narrows and curves at a bizarre angle, gravity and perspective and the very directions seem to shift in ways I can’t understand. It’s all I can do to stay on the narrow gravelly path, as if I could just fall right off it as I go. From the top, I can see new green fields all around, and there’s a civic park there at the summit. Gathered there sitting on a wall are some women I knew in high school, with their young children, and a young man who was a childhood neighbor and playmate. One of the women smiles and speaks with me. I begin to have visions of maps, and understand that this place is called Mount Stewart.

I’m excited to begin 2015’s Dreamboat by introducing  some my favorite tools for exploring dream imagery, taking you step by step through fresh dream work. There are obviously many elements of this dream that could be unpacked – the strange climb, the various people at the summit’s park – but my focus here is on the mountain as it reveals itself to me: Mount Stewart.

Places in dreams – in particular, specifically named places – hold a lot possibilities. I don’t know any place with this name in my waking life, nor does it remind me of any place I remember visiting. So the first thing I do is use the best tool for researching dreams, imagery, synchronicities and such that I know: the almighty  google.

Google informs me that Mount Stewart is:

  1. A California mountain situated on The Great Western Divide, in Sequoia National Park, named after “The Father of Sequoia National Park,” in an area of the park called Valhalla. Stewart was an early conservationist who was also a journalist and fought to save the Big Trees (the park houses the biggest tree on earth).
  2. A small community on Price Edward Island, where a bridge across the river was an important transportation hub linking the two sides of the island.
  3. A place on Victoria Island, B.C. near Thetis Lake.
  4. An Australian asparagus farm.
  5. A memorial in New Zealand dedicated to early European settlers.
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Mount Stewart

That’s quite a list! I take some time to see how each facet of this list resonates, and what associations arise for me:

  1. That there is an actual Mount Stewart within a day’s drive is exciting. Looking at the map, I see that there is no road that goes there – it’s deep in the forest and can only be accessed by trail. Deep Forest and Mountain have been showing up in dreams and travel with increasing regularity and power for me, and I have never been to Sequoia but a dear friend considers it a spiritually transformative place that deeply affected her when she visited. You can be sure I will now be scheming on how I can make a retreat there sometime this year.
  2. I note that my only association to Prince Edward Island is that one of my favorite childhood authors lived and wrote about life there, and maybe I will revisit one of her books, since one of my intentions for 2015 is to reconnect with literature and fiction writing. I also note that I have ancestors who lived in Nova Scotia, although I know nothing about them or even which family line they came through. I will do some research on this.
  3. Victoria Island was a place I visited as a child, but was too young to remember much. I note Thetis lake because it’s good practice to note mythological figures who may be woven into the dream’s landscape – Thetis being an Archaic Greek sea goddess whose pre-patriarchal worship was deep and widespread and which record is largely lost, and who is remembered now for being mother to the hero Achilles. Also, another Canada connection. I take from this to be on the lookout for a connection to early childhood, powerful forces from beyond memory, and/or a reminder when working with this specific place of a larger context of the living earth and sea.
  4. Asparagus farm! The tag line goes, “We grow fresh green asparagus 8 months out of the year” and my first reaction is about how asparagus is a tender, early Spring vegetable – I feel a distaste toward the idea of over-forcing something out of its season. The “fresh green” reminds me of the green I see from the park.
  5. A memorial dedicated to early European settlers – I have been thinking and reading recently on ideas of whiteness, privilege, settler colonialism, and my own relationship with my ancestors. This process indeed feels like a long climb where the way the world works suddenly shifts, I have to account for different perspectives, and I have to tread very mindfully.

You can see how many facets of the image of Mount Stewart start to appear when held and turned in different directions. Exploring associations like this is one way of doing so. Another way of doing so, and one of my absolute favorites, is to explore the language itself. Where words appear, dreams are great punsters and make much use of the poetic depth of language and etymology.

First, I look at the word as it shows up: Stewart is an old Scottish name, connected to a line of royalty, of Old English origin by way of a Breton knight. (I note that I think I have some Scotch ancestry that I know nothing about. I think this may be connected to the line that wound up in Nova Scotia about which I also know nothing.)

From it comes the English word “steward:” a person who manages the household, or the affairs of another; a manager, caretaker, or guardian.

Digging deeper into the etymology yields the Old English stīġ + weard.

Stīġ: 1) house, hall, building, enclosure for animals. 2) An especially steep or narrow path. (!)

Weard: 1) guard or watchman, protector. 2) a protected place (neighborhood, section of community, area of a building, division of a forest).

Weard is also closely connected to an Old Norse word for cairn, a man-made pile of stones acting as a trail-marker, burial-marker, astronomical device, or spiritual monument. I note that this doubles the image of the small mountain with man-made park at its summit. I also note that part of my ancestry includes Norse folks, and with the earlier Valhalla connection there’s a doubling of this influence too.

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For me, Mount Stewart thus becomes a dream-place named for the process it embodies and illustrates: a careful climb up a steep and narrow path, which requires an attitude of oversight, guardedness, and stewardship (including the ecological stewardship for which the historical Californian Stewart was known). The park at its summit is a protected place, and needs to be approached as such. Whatever or whoever is beginning to be represented there by the people I meet in the dream should also be approached with these attitudes. The protected and stewarded nature of the place may reflect the purposes of cairns: orienting and connecting during movements between realms. As I deepen this dreamwork by turning to the figures and my relationships with them, I will bear all this in mind.

I understand this dream to speak to ongoing processes of learning and growth for me, touching many layers of my experience and practice: my relationship with mountainous terrain which was renewed last Fall when I traveled in the Carpathians; my relationship with forest terrain and its creatures, which are regularly present in dreams; my desire to have more travel and working retreats in my waking life; my relationship with the land of California, which has revealed itself to me in dreams before like this; my deepening practice of ancestral study and how that connects to issues of privilege, settler history (that great Western divide), and my stewardship of all this in terms of my own right relationship with the land I live in.

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You can see the rich weave of information and influences these ways of working a dream create. The beauty of these tools is that you don’t need a lot of special equipment or education. Access to the internet, a playful and curious mind, and an intention to explore and expand an image (rather than collapse it into definition, as I might have done by looking up “mountain” in a symbol dictionary) are all you need. Held this way,  a dream becomes a puzzle that yields orientation, guidance, confirmation, and fresh ideas and directions to look toward. I hope you find it useful!

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

Slowing down…

Good morning COM|PASSionate REVOLUTIONARIES!

We  hope that you had some time for self-care the past couple of weeks and that you feel rejuvenated and/or recovered from the winter holiday season.

We’ve been meditating on slowing down.

There’s been a lot of movement over the past year. We set our intentions high and seeing some of those intentions actualize into fruition is pretty amazing. Some of them have manifested in ways that are recognizable to the seeds of intention that were planted in our mind’s eye. Some of them have taken on a life of their own. Plans have been made, re-made and scrapped. Around mid October we realized that we had fallen into a productive but frenetically energized wind tunnel. It took us until mid November to realize that it might serve us to set our sights on getting a bit more grounded. We didn’t feel like we had started to find our footing again until a couple of weeks ago.

So we’ve been meditating on slowing down.

We’re still saying yes to movement. Especially, movement towards this amazing healing community we’re starting to see actualize. However, we’re doing so with a grounding breath of gratitude so we don’t miss everything there is to be grateful for already in existence all around us.

If you’re also coming back and sinking into the schedule and present-ness of the new year we’d like to offer this meditation to settle in and slow down.

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Meditation on Slowing Down

Find a comfortable grounded seat. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to find some warm outdoor space like us in Southern California or can find a quiet place to bundle up and enjoy the winter chill we highly encourage you to take your practice outside.

We’ve been loving a winter warming hibernation oil mix that we made for this meditation. It contains Orange to cheer and lift any seasonal lowness, Pine Needle to clear and open ourselves up and Cloves to warm and comfort.

Get grounded. If accessible actually on the ground but any comfortable seated or standing position will do. If utilizing oils place some underneath nose, on temples and heart space.

Palms up on the knees or open forward (if standing) is always a little bit more receiving. Palms down or near sides is always a little bit more grounding.

Start to take deep full breaths stretching your capacity for prana or life force. Find the edges of your breath- the biggest inhalations and fullest exhalations you can take. Feel your breath come up against the edges of your body container. Then return to a grounding count (i.e. an inhalation/exhalation count you can hold for the same amount of time.) Start to concentrate on your edges against your clothes and then transition focus to where your clothes or feet meet the earth.

Feel it solid beneath you. Draw breath up from abundant earth into body. Sit up taller with each breath or if standing let soles of the feet root downwards, arms become engaged by sides and crown of the head pulls up towards the sky. Radiate.

Enjoy this grounded radiation good for settling in, practicing being present and being open to the coming moment for as long as you’d like. When you feel sunken in and refreshed. Invite your breath to gently return to it’s natural meter and softly open your eyes. It’s completely normal to find that your breath’s natural meter may be a bit more expanded than when you started your practice. Stay seated or still for at least five breaths after you have opened your eyes before returning to normal activities. Take time to process after if your mind wishes. This can be done via conversation, art, journaling or within community sending us a comment here!

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In present COM|PASSion and Gratitude,

The REVOLT

Swords and Resolutions: A New Year’s Meditation

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I rung in 2015 this year with a small tarot party of old and new friends, all of us filling up my kitchen table with tea and sass and little charms and laughter, a few tears, and of course a gaggle of tarot decks. It was lovely and fun and super orienting – and a little surprising! It has me actually excited to talk about something that’s often spoken of in tones of dread, confusion, disappointment, or bewilderment.

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That’s right: let’s talk about Swords.

Or some aspects of them, anyway. I think talking about swords, despite their (rightful) reputation for pain, vulnerability, grief and distress, is an apt way to come into the new year. Because New Years generally has us doing a lot of swords-y activities from the quiet space after the holidaze and before 2015 gets into action:

Taking stock. Looking back and making some judgements about how things went. Taking accountability for our parts in all that. Looking forward and crafting visions of how we’d like things to go. Taking responsibility for nurturing those visions into reality. Setting goals. Breaking those goals down into pieces, making plans, committing to taking steps. Discerning and choosing. Dreaming and scheming.

RWS deck's dreamy Page of Swords
RWS deck’s dreamy Page of SwordsWS

The thing about swords – particularly the Ace, the quintessential sword that holds all the possibilities of swordiness – is that they cut both ways. And how we treat ourselves in going about these things is a great litmus test for how we are using sword energy. Do our resolutions hold us with their promise, inspire us, give us definition and motivation and evolve with us as we get into action? Or do our resolutions become another weapon that turns on us, another reason to cut ourselves down, punishing us when we slip or fail or don’t achieve something the way we hoped?

Swords talk about mentality – our thoughts, beliefs, fears, judgements, goals, unconscious scripts, critical thinking, ideas, inspiration, vision, discernment, communication, language – and our relationship to these things in ourselves and each other. They can also be about how these things interact with particularly intense and deep emotions – how they support or impede us in the thick of those feelings. Swords are tools, too, and they can be used in service to ourselves. I think it’s very common to feel at the mercy of one’s thoughts – whether they are oppressive one-liners that run on loop, or unconscious beliefs that continually undercut our ability to make change, or suffering that cuts so deep it feels impossible to think through and cuts us to pieces instead. Our relationship to these dynamics are very much connected to how we feel empowered to make the changes we want in our lives. Sometimes, it’s revolutionary just to remember that you can pick up the sword and use it to cut yourself out of such patterns, and to reflect on them instead of being pinned down by them.

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This lady is The Queen of facing even the most difficult reflections…

Take your deck and lay out the sword cards (or google up some images). Do any remind you of how you talk to yourself, how you react when things don’t go your way, how you treat yourself when you feel like you’re doing a bad job of something, or what happens when you try to make a change?

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Do any images remind you of tools you have, skills you’re learning, different perspectives available, helpful stances to practice? Is there anywhere in the images you feel a sense of balance, lightness, or empowerment?

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Thoth deck’s 2 of Swords & Mary El deck’s 5 of Swords

Can you give yourself permission to be with the Ace of Swords – and remember what it’s like to feel empowered and purposeful? Or know that things will change as the new year gets into gear, and you are capable of discerning and then making whatever adaptations are necessary, and this is not failure but its own kind of strength?

AceofSwordsWildUnknownEven the word resolution acknowledges that things change: resolution is re + solve – to loosen, free, figure out or cut apart again. Hidden in the word itself is the implication of swords at their cutting, discerning, liberating best. A resolution is not a bond, which one is punished for breaking. It is acknowledging that even when you think you know something’s form, it will dissolve into pieces and become something else again – which you can then examine, learn from, make new decisions about. It is knowing that there is more than one solution. It is realizing that judgement and accountability are processes in motion, with plenty of opportunities for taking responsibility in new ways.

I know I’ll keep checking in with the Ace of Swords this year as a reminder of all this, and of how my relationship with swords energy is of just service to me and my own vision. I offer this meditation to you in hopes it sparks some interesting thoughts and helpful ideas for you as well. Please share them in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the suit of swords and how you use its imagery.

And of course, cheers to your 2015!

Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.