My offerings to the blog have been scant, of late, mostly due to climatic conditions not conducive to writing. Wielding a pencil with mittens and choppers is not something I have mastered yet. We’ve been engaged in all sorts of endeavors, though: The dream work has become more involved and refined, as has our flagging efforts – recognizing, reminding and helping each other work through unhealthy habit patterns. We have had workshops and explorations into dodemic connections and how we are gifted/guided by the plants and animals in our circle. For the last moon and a half we moved about 2 miles off to Shelp Lake to establish our snow camp… one step further from life as we used to know it… even leaving behind what few conveniences we had at winter camp. Storytelling has reached new heights. Some of my most precious memories of this experience are of a fully occupied winter lodge… all snuggled close and in laps, hair brushing, massaging each other; warm fire in the middle, fed constantly, casts a glow on the storyteller’s verbal illustrations, as story and dream come to life. We had many feasts: 2 for iik, moving from the ‘toddler’ to the ‘kid’ phase of life; one for me, moving through the ‘changing woman’ time which is deep upon me. It is a powerful thing to celebrate these transitions with the respectful, joyful support of clan. We also had naming feasts which were outrageously funny, light and insightful events. During these 3 spontaneous ceremonies 2/3 of our group, and even one visitor, found new address. I spent the last 2 moons as coyoteqwai, the feminine version of coyote (with special spelling meant to defy the laws of written English). Our final feast was the night before the first group left – honoring the guides and staff who have led us through phenomenal transformation. This feast was the biggest of all – dancing, singing, drumming, diggeridoo, rapture. The last moon of our experience in the N. woods was transition moon. Bit by bit, we eased our awareness back in to the world we would re-enter, guided by circles, workshops and meetings. We talked about how we wanted to move in the world, what we hoped to manifest, and identified our individual strengths, weaknesses and needs. Our intention has been to keep present and strong in the program to the end and beyond. Out of the year-long, into the life-long. The last sun: I awoke this first light ensconced in our snow lodge thinking of the first Ishi (Izaiah having become the 2nd): a native Yani man whose small family clan survived undetected in the N. California wilderness for many years. After the rest died off, Ishi remained, walking alone and hidden, for several more moons until he felt called to reveal himself to the rest of the world. The sun of this writing seems poised in a surreal limbo. Two thirds of our clan walked out on their journey ‘beyond’ yesterday. Next sun the rest of us will follow. We will scatter like the wind to all corners of the earth. I sit now in a ghost camp of snow hills – the fleeting ruins of a momentary, thriving culture. I think of what a glorious, wild, deep, persistent ride this has been. The large group felt at first unwieldy and chaotic, then powerful and transformative. As the final moon passed, it seemed that we were just finally starting to get into a natural rhythm. Early on in this experience, our clan elder, Margaret, shared a poem with us which seemed an appropriate final blog entry. I will end with this sharing of depth, mysticism and power, though what I feel mostly at the moment is sad and fragmented. Canto (Waagosh – fox) told me tearfully last night that he would give up anything to continue with this same group for another year; a powerful statement from someone who has been fantasizing of reuniting with pancakes, friends and dogs for the last 12 moons. But the dream goes on… shifting to scene after scene… the limitless images of Self reflected back change and change again.The circle remains, unfailing and absolute, embracing us always and reminding me that the earth has no corners. Did Ishi feel this as he watched the life and family he knew pass away? I wonder. Two suns later: I sit in the Three Lakes laundromat, clean and fed on my first town food in 12 moons. I had to hunt through the lining of my spark-pocked coat to retrieve the 3 bear claws that had given my pocket the slip… and now the scent of a full turning of the seasons is mechanically slooshing away… but I am quite permanently stained. Balance is here in the laundromat, too. The circle holds me, as always. One quarter moon later: I sit in a hot spring in northern Idaho. The voices of my clan, my circle, my waking dream still wash through me. My inner Sky guides me on dumpster diving the 1st donuts Canto and Zander have ever had. My inner Wolfgang has me clean and organize the car at each stop… not something I was in the habit of doing in the past. Sun Eagle speaks to me of gentleness and trust in my difficult parenting moments; Susan (and Canto, too) flag me relentlessly when I get too controlling. Each person, every character who has played a part in this experience (including all of you, dear relations) sings loud and clear, guiding my every moment. I am so blessed. After the hot springs, Vedrica Community in N. Idaho. Another circle, the same circle, to fall in love with again. As I leave Vedrica the song comes to me that filled my tears as I left Teaching Drum… and when I left our last clan member in S. Wisconsin: Round and round we go we hold each others’ hands and weave our lives in a circle. Our love is strong. The dance goes on. And on… And on… One moon out: Back in California, reunited with Pixy’s family for a sweet moment (maybe more, but I am staying in the present)… we’ve come full circle. Patterson Creek is dancing and alive. A heavily attended ‘occupy Patterson Creek’ movement has been staged in the drawers of the yurt in our absence. Twelve mice caught so far… a feast! Eric returned from his counter-balancing experience in Baja. We have new gifts to offer this reunion and so far our beginnings feel balanced, loving and strong (mostly). Ishi (the 2nd), Canto (Waagosh) and Zander (Bagwaj Baca Akwe – Wild Chicken) are delighting in sunshine and re-connection with people and things they have longed for. For the month of May we will be on a visiting tour of California and hope to see many of you. After that, my intention is to permanently re-home our car, rein in some of our animal friends and start walking with goats and donkeys, back northeast. It looks like we will find home in Vedrica. There is a very convenient system of trails that can bring us quite directly there. While I walk, Eric can come and go with the boys on their summertime blitz (camps and other adventures). I am hoping to be joined by more folks on this next adventure up the Pacific Crest and Lewis and Clark trails. Please let me know if you are interested! Right now, it seems that Pixy will remain in N. CA building tribal connections here. I imagine that we will be the furthest branch of that network. It is no accident that this new home base is about 1/2 way back to Teaching Drum. I’m not done there. But if I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s fresh perspective on my favorite old lesson: Things are not as they seem… stay present… change happens… be open… aware… trust. The Return written by Geneen Marie Haugen Some day, if you are lucky, you’ll return from a thunderous journey trailing snake scales, wing fragments and the musk of earth and moons. Eyes will examine you for signs of damage or change and you too will wonder if your skin shows traces of fur or leaves If thrushes have built a nest of your hair and if andromeda burns from your eyes. Do not be surprised by prickly questions from those who barely inhabit their own fleeting lives; who barely taste their own possibilities, who barely dream. If your hands are empty, treasureless, if your toes have not grown claws, if your obedient voice has not become a wild cry, a howl, you will reassure them. “We warned you”, they might declare. “There is nothing else. No point, no meaning, no mystery at all, just this frantic waiting to die”. And yet they tremble, mute, afraid you’ve returned without sweet elixir for unspeakable thirst, without a fluent dance or holy language to teach them, without a compass bearing a forgotten border where no one crosses without weeping for the terrible beauty of galaxies, and granite, and bone. They tremble, hoping your lips hold a secret. That the song your body now sings will redeem them. Yet, they fear your secret is dangerous, shattering, and once it flies from your astonished mouth, they, like you must disintegrate before unfolding tremulous wings.