Posts Tagged ‘Inner Transition’

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free Yule Log

Yesterday, we had our December meeting for our Inner Transitions book group based around Carolyn Baker’s “Navigating the Coming Chaos.” Winter Solstice seemed like the perfect time to discuss chapters related to Light and Shadow and the mythopoetic self. I was in charge of facilitating the group this time, and a Michigan friend hosted in her lovely renovated farmhouse. For some reason, I have been obsessed with preparing a yule log for Winter Solstice, and several weeks ago I discovered a recipe for a Paleo Yule Log.

I gathered roasted chestnuts from a local Amish farmer and fresh eggs from our Amish friends. This is not a vegan recipe; it contains both free range eggs and local, raw honey. Given our group’s focus on local and sustainable living, it seemed like a better fit than some of the nut and date heavy raw vegan recipes I could have tried. Many of the people in our reading group are actual farmers, and most of us do our best to eat as locally as possible. Obviously, the organic, fair trade chocolate in this recipe didn’t come from Michiana, but the bulk of the ingredients did. You can click here to find the recipe, but I’ll include a couple pictures below. It turned out great!

yule log

Making the yule log, however, was quite the comedy of errors. First of all, David is the kitchen gadget god, so despite my many weeks’ obsession, it never even occurred to me to check if we had the appropriate tools to make the log. I just assumed we did. Never mind that when we moved in here we still ate mostly raw and so never bothered to alert our landlord to the fact that our oven doesn’t work! After numerous guests wanted toast, which took twenty minutes in a full oven, we did buy a small convection oven. That’s what I planned to use for the recipe, not even considering that we needed something called a “Swiss roll pan” and not even wondering if a) we had that type of pan or b) if it would fit in the convection oven.

Even more amusing, I’m not sure I’ve ever baked anything non-vegan before. If I did, then it was probably 20 years ago. David and I had both been vegan for a long, long time, and we still only eat eggs as occasional, deliberate eggs. I sometimes blend a raw one in a smoothie, but even David doesn’t do that. Anyway, this recipe calls for separating eggs, which I didn’t know how to do, and it calls for an electric egg whisk, which it turns out we don’t have. We didn’t even have a good old fashioned egg whisk, because, hey, why would we???

David quickly realized that “my” yule log project was becoming his gift to the Inner Transitions group. Every attempt I made to help turned into a bit of a sitcom moment. For example, I decided to weigh out the cacao and in process, gave the uncracked eggs a major dusting of chocolate. Then, I thought an immersion blender would substitute well for the electric egg whisk. I started blending the eggs, but I couldn’t get the hang of it, so David blended, but those egg whites weren’t getting their stiff peaks. “How about our mini-latte jobby?” I asked. David did a great job with that, while I tried to clean the immersion blender. Um … can you say soap all over the kitchen walls? So David stopped using the latte maker and started correcting my mess, while I took over with the latte maker. How hard could this be? Well, what goes better with soapy walls than fluffy egg white splattered all over the soap?

I moved to clean-up duty, while David salvaged my attempts to help. At that point, I realized, ohhhh, the Swiss roll pan. What the heck is a Swiss roll pan? To which David replied that we really only had one pan that would fit in the convection oven. We hodge-podged together some parchment paper “walls” and stuck it in there for twenty minutes.

Bizarrely enough, everything worked out just right, and I even managed to roll the log without cracking it too much. I didn’t have any holly, but I found some old spruce I had foraged this August and left to chill in the fridge. I added goji berries instead of holly berries as garnish. David is my hero and was much appreciated by our small Solstice gathering. We even had some yumminess leftover for him to enjoy the benefits of all his hard and slightly exasperating work. 🙂

yule log 2

On a not unrelated note, we have become huge fans of chestnuts! Roasted, boiled … these are some tasty little nuts. They’re not too fatty, and the Amish farmer who procured them for me has all sorts of recipes from rice, broth and chestnuts, to chestnuts roasted on an open fire … to soups. You name it, you’ll love it. Who knew?

All Is Well in the Land of Goshen

Several people have already contacted me, very concerned about how we’re doing in Goshen after 60 tornadoes plowed through Illinois and Indiana today. Thanks for your concern. We’re doing well here. I always tell people I cut deals with the Nature Spirits, and I’m really not kidding. Thor is the God of Thunder, associated with the THORN Rune of protection. I mentally draw that Rune all over our property every time I hear of or sense any sort of major storm. Synchronously, just as I sat down to post this announcement, Yahoo news flashed some story across my screen about THOR the movie. Yes, thunder and lightning and wind were very active today! But not so much right here.

I talk to the Nature Spirits like I talk to the bees who get mad at me for interrupting their meal while watering my bee friendly flowers: “Hey, don’t sting me. I planted these flowers, and I’m keeping them alive for you. Don’t sting the hand that feeds you. C’mon, live in harmony, eh?” and the bees let me do my thing without stinging me, just like the wasps when I remind them who planted the plants that house the insects the wasps eat. When storms come, I always request that the Nature Spirits protect our property, especially our home and gardens. I remind them that I can much more easily advocate for Nature if I have adequate living quarters and food. So far, so good. Although much of Goshen was tucked away in basements, I felt fine wandering around upstairs figuring what to wear for tonight’s outing. I just knew no storm would hit our house.

Tonight we had our Inner Transitions book group meeting scheduled in Three Rivers, Michigan, and we received an email saying they were on if we were. Driving there, we saw some pretty intense damage — the roof of a silo ripped off and insulation strewn all over the road; closed roads; miles and miles of downed power lines; a tower toppled over; branches and entire trees scattered across lawns and in ditches; pitch blackness all around. The house hosting the meeting did not have power, but they did have a wood stove and hurricane lanterns. They ran their generator so we could flush the toilet, since there were a dozen or so of us visiting from various locations. We had a lovely, lovely time! Somehow, having fluorescent lights replaced by the warm glow of a fire and oil lamps was just perfect. The people hosting expressed gratitude because they had consciously designed their home to be able to host such gatherings even in the event of a long term grid-down scenario.

I won’t discuss our Inner Transition processing, because that’s private, but tonight’s meeting underscored for me the sense of joy and return to soulful community that life without electricity has the potential to cultivate. The massive power outages, likely to stay out for weeks, also affirmed my own urge to get some extra preps in place last weekend. It was weird, because even while posting about the GridEx II drill, I didn’t really feel like that was it. I just felt like we ought to have some alternative heat and extra food and water available for us and for David’s parents. Unlike so many in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, we didn’t end up needing those preps today; however, we sure would be happy to have them if we did. David’s parents’ garage window got smashed by a flying canopy, but they, too, are fine and have power. We are all grateful, and my heart goes out to those who lost their homes or who will need to survive without the grid at least for the near future.

Many people have spoken today about the Philippines, since the unexpected storms reminded them of how suddenly life can shift. People have asked me how to process such large scale devastation, and I have a bit of a different take on it. When such a large group of people pass unexpectedly, I truly believe they carry on in a different collective reality. They are on a different timeline, because their collective sense of reality hasn’t really had time to separate. When something that massive and that sudden takes 10K people at once, I really believe it’s like Avalon fading into the mists. That’s why I’ve never been afraid of dying in an “Earth destroying catastrophe.”

First of all, I’m not afraid to die. I’ve spoken to the dead since I was a child, and the dead speak back. It’s a transition, not the end.

Secondly, I have faced my own death on multiple occasions. The day after my brain injury, I awoke in my old bed at my parents’ house, feeling so cognitively different and not remembering how I got there that I actually thought I was dead. I wandered around the house and, finding no one there, really thought I might be dead. My parents have a graveyard behind their house, so I wandered outside to see if I could locate my grave. I figured if I were dead, I would remember where it was, or at least I’d find some fresh dirt that would lead me to my headstone. As I wandered, I saw no one but a deer, and the deer stared at me. “Hmmm, so the deer sees me, but animals often see the dead, so that proves nothing.” I finally got the idea to return to my parents’ house and call them each at work. I figured since they don’t talk to the dead that if I were dead, they wouldn’t be able to hear me. They both picked up and assured me that I was still alive and that I very much needed to go to the doctor. Immediately.

The doctor ordered an initial two weeks off work, and I was bored. Very, very, exceedingly bored. I kept trying to read, but everything spun around. The letters seemed to float like bubbles and gnats around the room. I finally focused all my attention to clear the print and read “The Sun Also Rises” in one day. I had read it many times before, so I didn’t notice that I couldn’t actually follow the plot. I already knew the plot. When I stopped reading and looked up, the room began to spin. It spun and spun and spun until I finally passed out. The next morning, I awoke to the most massive migraine imaginable. I had never had a migraine before, and this, supposedly, was not a normal one. I thought I was hemorrhaging. I called my dad and told him I’d leave the sliding glass door open in case he needed to collect my body. I made peace with the Great Spirit in a moment of wonder, “Oh!!! You exist!” And that was that.

I didn’t die, at least not physically, but everything I thought I knew about myself and my life, all the external definitions died. And yet something remained. That something is the reason I don’t fear death. I see that something in every client, every friend and every stranger. While others fear a collapse of the familiar or a collapse of civilization or the grid, I relish the possibilities. Yes, I want systems in place to be able to handle sewage, food, clean water and some form of heating … you know, the basics … because I don’t like unpleasant smells or desperation. I know we can prepare our communities with backup systems that treat the Earth better and protect us from ourselves.

But I do look forward to people turning inward, as they inevitably do when “tragedy” looms or strikes. I look forward to how real people become when suddenly faced with their own mortality. I have helped so many people die, walked with them as they prepared to transition from this life into whatever lives beyond. I’ve relayed so many messages from passed animals, parents and children — messages with such affirmations and synchronicities that “prove” (to the Soul at least) that life continues. All is well.

As Julian of Norwich said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” We have agency. And life. We continue to co-create beyond the familiar. Who’s to say that won’t be our very greatest creation?

“Cultivating an Inner Life”

I recently joined a book study group with some visionaries, spiritual advisers, organic farmers, permaculture activists, and other “big picture” thinkers from Goshen and nearby Three Rivers, Michigan. I missed the introductory meeting due to an errant email, but tonight we have our first actual book discussion of Carolyn Baker’s “Navigating the Coming Chaos.”

As preparation, we read the Introduction and Chapter 1. I’ve already read much further, but we’ve been asked to answer the following questions related to the Intro and first chapter. Given this book’s powerful message, which aligns so closely with what I try to offer through this blog, through my own life’s expression(s), and during individual sessions, I thought I’d answer the questions here. Although many Transition Towns have leaders actively studying this book, you do not need to be involved in the Transition Movement in order to benefit from it. As the famous Medical Intuitive Caroline Myss says: “What a pleasure it is to endorse a book of this quality and genius. But more to the point, a book of great urgency. I not only recommend this book, I urge you to it.”

So do I.

What was most encouraging about what you read in “Navigating the Coming Chaos”?

In a bizarre way, I feel like I’ve been co-writing a companion volume through my blog. Since my philosophy and experiences dovetail so easily with the book’s premise and message, I began using it as an external checklist of my own internal preparations. So few people have developed strong enough inner lives to be able to look chaos in the face without flinching, running away, numbing themselves or going crazy. I found it encouraging that others recognize the importance of beauty, poetry, mythology, and art as essential to surviving any sort of “long emergency.”

Having gone through my own extensive traumas, including a brain injury microcosm of the societal macrocosm of having all structures forcefully and suddenly stripped away, I’ve long known the importance of cultivating and soothing the soul. Surrounding myself with (and creating my own) art, poetry, culinary delights and sacred spaces immediately transmuted the usual hellish experience of TBI into something mindful, beautiful and deep.

As a teenager, my mom went through multiple severe health crises that forced me to step up as parent to my siblings, house organizer for my dad, and emotional support system for everyone involved. That “long emergency” changed me in irrevocable ways and taught me early on that life as we know it can change in a heartbeat. Support structures we take for granted can disappear and not return unless we ourselves build suitable replacements. If we don’t step into our strength, we can easily drown in the torrents of change. My mom’s health crisis occurred on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual planes. I saw my first demon during that time period and learned to walk protected among some incredibly dark agendas and intentions parading themselves as “helpers.”

As a scared fourteen-year-old pretending to be an atheist so no one would inquire about my inner life, I faced many Dark Nights of the Soul. I devoured ancient philosophy and classical literature, and my “atheist” teenage journals read like devotionals, with my own “hymns” of praise and cries for help as I tried to make sense of my little world gone mad. Those journals examine what it means to be human, how can we find meaning in the midst of chaos, and how do we burn in the fire to become the phoenix rising from its own ashes? I continued this obsession with appearances vs. Reality, alchemy and transmutation, and inner transitions through my college honors thesis on angels in “Paradise Lost,” into my graduate studies, and into the present day.

I’ve sometimes considered my need for beauty as a weakness; however, reading Carolyn Baker’s book, I realize that I just happen to be much more in touch with my soul than most. She explains why humans need to cultivate a strong inner life, and recognizes how the shift away from the inner life actually caused the biggest challenges we face today — whether from government, natural disasters, environmental destruction, economic crises or the seeming inability of the masses to recognize wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Carolyn underscored what part of me already knows: “My perceived weakness is, in truth, my greatest strength.” Recognizing that I need beauty as well as food from my garden; prioritizing ways to offer moments of joy and delight to the traumatized; following and cultivating advice from dreams and daydreams; understanding that my walks in Nature, sacred chants, creation of sacred spaces are truly, deeply necessary — that recognition is a gift, not a character weakness, because these are real, human, healthy needs whose value our dangerously ill society rejects or minimizes to its peril.

What was most troubling?

I initially felt so overwhelmed by the confirmations in this book that I needed to set it down for a few days. For decades, I’ve received premonitions of coming emergencies and the precariousness of our current way of life. I had premonitions before 9/11 and an immediate sense of a darker agenda than the commonly presented story — this at a time when I watched no news and followed no politics. I just knew it was a “false flag” even before I knew that concept or term. I also recognized the massive opening for transformation and growth. The most troubling part of “Navigating the Coming Chaos” is the recognition, in black and white print, that these “random intuitive instructions” I’ve received over the years “to prepare myself for the coming chaos” aren’t so random after all. I’m intrigued, comforted and completely freaked out that someone like Caroline Myss endorses this book, because on the one hand, that’s quite a validation. On the other hand, holy sh!t, that’s quite a validation.

My initial reading of the book also happened to occur when one of the “signs” I had been told would mark a clear indicator of the coming chaos occurred, namely, the shutting off of the EBT cards. That sign has presented itself to me so clearly for so long that I actually had made long-standing promises to myself that I would implement certain things if and when that sign ever occurred. We received a temporary reprieve with the “agreement,” although millions will still face food stamp cuts this coming November 1 because a non-renewed supplementary program expires on Halloween. I experienced the synchronous timing of the EBT failure “test” at the same time I began reading “Navigating the Coming Chaos” as further validation of my intuition and a major nudge to implement my own specific promises to myself in a timely manner.

Once I honored my need to set aside the book for a few days and simply garden, chant (bhakti yoga), paint with Runes, obtain certain supplies, sleep more (to cultivate dream guidance), and nurture myself, I began to experience relief. Point by point, I went through Chapter 1 and realized, “Hey, I’m already doing these things. I’ve been doing them for decades. I’m not crazy or eccentric for valuing such things. I receive excellent guidance through my intuition, prayer and synthesized abilities to intuit and to strategize. What Carolyn calls my ‘Internal Bunker’ is extremely well-stocked.”

While reading the book, I still experience waves of: “Crap! Someone else with an intelligent, intuitive and soulful background sees the same emergencies I do; that means we’re really facing emergencies; this isn’t just me being paranoid.” — but then I feel gratitude that someone else has created a toolkit and personal development guide for people with less well stocked “Internal Bunkers.” Ultimately, the more of us with tools and strength “to face the mess we’re in without going crazy” (to quote Joanna Macy), the better. Together, we can tap into our unique gifts and skills to create something extraordinarily good.

Do you have a favorite quote?

The Rumi poem at the beginning, and the quote from Plotkin’s “Soulcraft”:

“Nature has much to teach us in her vast classroom. You can acquire an entire education merely by observing carefully. But you must be patient and offer your attention, like a lizard stalking a fly. This takes skill, and practice. What you find in nature is what works. It wouldn’t be there if it didn’t. Boundless wisdom awaits.”

What do you intend to DO after reading the intro and chapter one — in the process of Inner Transition?

I intend to continue along my multi-pronged preparation path, which at this point, includes reaching out to local people and organizations to create as strong a community safety net as possible. Although not a focus of the intro and chapter one, these actions flow from long-term, very insistent intuitions, feelings and dream guidance I’ve received, in some cases since childhood, but at least for several years. I find that doing and following through on intuitive nudges results in relief and peace. I have also increased my studies of the Faery Realm, Old Ways, permaculture and magickal self defense.

At the very least, I will know that I have done all that I can do. Spirit, Mother Earth, the Unseen Realms and other humans can meet me halfway or not, but at least I know that I’m fulfilling my end of the bargain. That in itself brings me tremendous peace, comfort and a sense of purpose. I love what I’m learning, and I intend to enjoy the journey, whatever the destination.