Monday, July 10, 2017

Ducks, Birds, Squirrels and a Shaman




words & photos  © Susan Marie


I have always adored nature. 

When I was a toddler, camping at Allegheny State Park [told to me by my Mother for I do not recall] after playing in nature, my Mother saw I had two fat cheeks just like a chipmunk.  She immediately came to me to see why my cheeks were so big and she found a bunch of rocks in there.

Rocks.

Yep, I put a bunch of rocks in my own mouth. 

Rocks found in the dirt of the forest. I have no idea where I got them from, but I ended up with trench-mouth [who even ever gets that?] and all I can think of now is I hope they tasted good! 

After that, and to this present day, I collect rocks. All kinds of rocks, gemstones, ones found in sand and dirt, collected from streams, given to me as gifts. Rocks. Everywhere. Pull open a drawer looking for tape? Rocks. Checking pockets in the winter for a pair of gloves? Rocks. Pulling out a box to look for paperwork? Rocks.

I simply adore everything of this Earth. I guess that is why I had to have those rocks so close to me as possible, by putting them INTO my mouth. Maybe I tried to eat them, who knows? All I do know is this was not a strange thing to my Mother, me, with a mouth full of rocks.

Which brings me to the other day . . .

Human existence takes us on delirious twists and turns and we often do not understand the ultimate greater objective of anything until later.

This was not one of those days. 

Picture this: 

A beautiful summer afternoon, perfect weather, not too hot or muggy, the kind of day where you just feel the sunshine soaking into your entire being and it feels utterly right, correct, you understand that you are being filled up with something far more intense than what the human mind can comprehend.

Look to the sky, cobalt, royal blue, the clouds just sit there like cotton candy, and from a distance, there is what seems to be a hawk flying towards you. You rush to grab a camera, cell phone, anything, and get outside to capture this rare gift. Standing there, the "hawk" comes closer, flying TO you, directed FOR you and as it gets closer you realize it is a turkey vulture. The wingspan on this bird is astounding. As it draws near, you watch it glide on the wind, as if flying was a simple task and the magnificence of the wings, each feather, the flight, leaves you wide eyed in wonder.

Of course I was recording the entire scene, I have to, I document everything. It is part of what I am here to do.

The moment the vulture started coming right AT me, I lifted my arms up and saw both wings straight out, right above my head, and it zoomed down, then back up and as it did, I saw the underbelly of one of the most beauteous beasts. 

 [video below]


video


Knowing this is not an ordinary visit because this solitary vulture has made itself apparent to me for the 4th time in 2 weeks, I refer to my knowledge of animal totems:

"Choose paths that support your higher consciousness and your heart. Use your resources combined with past experience to approach problems from a different angle. Allow yourself to use all of your senses to navigate through situations for your highest benefit. Call on all your resources to get the job done. You are fiercely protective of those you feel responsible for but know when to allow others to sink or swim. Recognize the need for higher awareness in all those around you. Use energy powerfully and efficiently. Soar to extraordinary heights. Do not allow things to weigh you down. This is the energy of the Earth, the natural order of things, the power of the Shaman." 

Strong medicine. Point taken.

Then I had to get right out in nature.


I went to one of my beloved parks with my son, one where I often step into other worlds quite seamlessly, a place where unusual things occur and somewhere that I call home. I drive around the bend in the park and see a certain flock of ducks, squirrels and birds that are always on a certain patch of grass that is part of an immense part of the park. The wildlife only stays to the out-most corner though and I always wondered why.





I grab my camera and start walking. I tread slowly, knowing the animals may be leery of me at first but soon as I let them know I am not a threat they start accepting me as one of their own. I snap photos and take video, the animals are now, what it seems, to be posing for me and then I hear a whistle - whoo-hoooo - from behind rows of pine trees.

I look around.

There is an elderly man standing there by a gate. A house I know well yet never pay much attention to. The house is on the corner of a main road in the city, an extremely busy intersection. I have driven and walked past this house most of my life.

Today, I heed the call. I feel absolutely right and safe in doing so. Subconsciously and spiritually, I already know who this man is without knowing.

He speaks in broken English:

I have something to show you both, come here. 

So we do.

My son side-eyes me wondering what this is about. I mumble, do not worry, it is fine, I will explain later, smiling the entire time.

As soon as we pass the gate, we enter another world. There was only the sound of nature, wind, tree branches swaying, birds singing, critters hopping about, ducks quacking and I was unable to hear a single noise that is normally palpable on the city streets right beside this house.



Without speaking much, we followed this weather worn man into his sacred space. He led us to the main garden with a massive water fountain that has four goddesses around it in a circle. Beyond that are various DIY feeders he built for all the animals that stay so close to his land. He introduced himself to us and we, to him and he motioned for us to keep following him. Beneath an immense covering of grape vines, he started focusing on my son.  

He asked him of his studies and what he plans to do with his life. My son answered, mentioning environmental studies and art as his dual majors. This man, ancient of soul, began speaking of the great philosophers, of Socrates and Pilates, of art and nature. Of the sacredness of the words of those that passed before us, of ancient blessed rituals and practices that no longer exist in society. Of the importance of not being typical. He said one thing to my son, looking him dead in the eye:

Do not lead an ordinary life.  

We continued on, through narrow passages that led into majestic gardens, flowerbeds, statues of ancient art and philosophers, into gateways that led to picnic areas and tables, even a nice setting for afternoon tea. This small parcel of property was suddenly 300 acres.  The only sounds, birds and squirrels. 

We were about 10 feet from a busy city street. 




I no longer wondered why wildlife stayed to this one specific corner of the park. They knew where they were most safe, away from the hum-drum drone of everyday everything and people that abuse and kick at them in the park. They knew that at any given moment, they had an escape plan.

Right here, where we were now standing. 


After conversations about nature, wildlife, spirituality, I asked the man where he was originally from because I knew he was an Indian and knew he was a Shaman before we even entered his space.

He looks to my son: 


Do you know where South America is? 

My son answers: Yes, right below North America. 

The man, pleased, nods his head and begins to tell us about Peru, Macchu Piccu and that he is a descendant of the Inca

I knew we were in good hands. 




Did he tell me he was a Shaman? No. Did he say he was anything other than a human being that came to America a long time ago with nothing yet made a good living for himself via hard work? No.

What he did do was speak without having to say a single thing. 


I keep his name private and photos of him with my son and I private to protect his space, to protect wildlife that gather there and to protect this dear man who saw us both crouched low, in reverence in the grass, just like the geese, squirrels and birds.

He told us to come visit anytime . . .
 

Human existence takes us on delirious twists and turns and we often do not understand the ultimate greater objective of anything until later. 

I am happy that I choose to always take the twists and turns.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Mystic








The blood of channels of ages
of ancient mad philosophers
waking at dawn,
resting bare feet
upon the face of Mother Earth,
staring in wondrous awe
to a skyline that speaks
of truth and wisdom.

Whispers of the velvet night,
and the newborn dawn,
sing in hushed angelic choirs,
comforting the spirit,
guiding the traveler,
like lanterns held high
in the searing desert sand,
telling the mind, body and soul,
to keep
moving
onward.

The well is not far,
dear friend,
and it is deep. 

The moss covered stones
have secrets
for you.

Step lightly,
in reverence,
drink of only
what is required
to sustain your spirit,
for there are others
following your tracks,
even if hidden
by the wailing wind.

They follow your scent,
like fireside smoke
spiraling,
above this dying world.

Rejoice,
for you are blessed
with the knowing
that existence is eternal,

and that this life 

is but
a dream. 



words & photography © Susan Marie 



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

starshower






in the spaces
between us,
the cracks
and crevices
of time -

the evolution
of the Earth,
spinning
on its Axis,

the tear
the smile,

the cirrus wonders,
and celestial star-showers,

the words spoken
in haste,
and ones never
uttered,

the listless breaths
caught in passion,
and released
through lips
full,

in the shine
of heaven,
and the tarnish of hell,

in between,
the light and dark
shadows of our souls,

are merely
- cracks -
like lines on palms,
- direction -

- the middle of the road -

connecting me
to you,
and us,

to
everything
 
that
is.


words & photo © Susan Marie 




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Metallic Gold, an Artist, a Friar and a Marine






For me, there is no death, there is only life.


Places of burial are sacred to me. They provide me with immense peace. I am at home standing upon the thin line between worlds I wholeheartedly walk into. It is natural for me to be among the departed.

Spiritual weight I am used to. I am an ultra-extra sensitive empath, medium, energy and body worker and all around practitioner of the healing arts as a whole, so I kind of have no choice in that matter and accept spiritual matters humbly and with reverence.

Boundaries are crucial. What is disturbing is when others, beyond your control, overstep the boundaries you have carefully honed for yourself as you bled through life when you step away from the calm serenity of the world you created and into society. 


Not all society, mind you, but most of it. That kind of suffering is beyond my control and I am exhausted from having to deal with it. Alas, this is how the world currently works. I stay away from it as much as possible, yet we must exist within both worlds, simultaneously at times.

Jean-Paul Sarte penned my state of being nicely in Being and Nothingness:

"Sartre contends that human existence is a conundrum whereby each of us exists, for as long as we live, within an overall condition of nothingness (no thing ness)—that ultimately allows for free consciousness. But simultaneously, within our being (in the physical world), we are constrained to make continuous, conscious choices."

No kidding. Not an easy thing to do.

Upon waking, I wished to get deep into the woods, my ultimate grounder. Instead, I was diverted to a cemetery to visit my Father on Memorial Day. The need to go there was so intense. Magnets pulled me there.

Driving, I turn down an old walking path, one not meant for driving, yet I drive down it anyhow. I entered a part of the cemetery where the sun rarely shines. On this day, it did.

Directly before us were rows upon rows of trees. 



I put the Jeep in park, got out and knelt down on one knee on that path. I crouched down low and listened to the birds singing, to the hum-buzz of the dead, living. The wind whipped my hair around my face and in that moment, I was fully awake and alive staring up and into trees.

Kneeling down in awe to those before me on this strange Earth, I knew then why I was guided to this healing place.

My son and Mother were with me. It is always only the three of us visiting my Father and my Uncle. They are side by side, yet passed 15 years apart.

My son diligently dressed up my Father's military memorial stone. I was only 15 when he passed so the gold faded to grey. My son, the artist, on his knees in the grass, painted over each letter and scroll, in shiny metallic gold, matching exactly how that stone was the day my Father left this plane.

Next to my Dad is my Uncle. The Franciscan Friar. He never fully took that oath publicly, spiritually, yes. I tore away the overgrown grass, the three of us worked in the sunshine, a perfect day, soaking up the energy of this dear Earth. We cleaned the stones, polished them, and placed flowers and memorials by each.

As we worked, silently, the birds, squirrels and wind sang to us. The beauty of nature, existence itself, rumbled within and around all of us. Freely, open and accepting of all that is, the three of us understood that we were in another world, standing and praying on holy ground.

I knelt before a most divine tree and took several shots of her upturned arms reaching towards heaven. I placed my right palm lightly upon her ancient skin letting her know that it is safe, that I am here in reverence. Then I turned my chin upward and saw dozens of emerald tops of sainted holy heads, all standing in lines, like soldiers. 


On Memorial Day. 



At that exact moment, my son yelled out, "Mom! Look!"

Two massive, majestic hawks flew over all three of our heads. The wingspans were immense. They circled back and forth, like fighter pilots, several times, painting the sky, and our lives, with blessings personal to each of us. They continued to circle until we left each graveside.

There are no coincidences.

I inhaled deeply, my hair dancing with the breeze, and looked all around me. My blood, my bones, my very soul, all of me - on fire - with the absolute aliveness of nature and the spirits that guide me on this well worn path.

They told me to keep going and that everything will be fine. They told me I am loved and watched over. They told me not to worry so much. They told me that life, dear soul, life is good. They told me that they will help me grow into the woman I am yet to become.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Struck






thunder
struck -
barren and stark,
against the
full moon,
howling.


a tree branch
cracked -
and I felt my heart
snap -


and my hands
shook,
worn and lined
from years of spilling my soul,
on pages
upon pages
of ink,
that turned to blood.


and you,
you, oh my dear soul,
how your silence speaks
louder than the mightiest maelstrom
and I,
my wings, white,
mourning.


I set my body
to fire -
blazing like lightning
that struck
once,
my breath
the wind,
my hair
the grass,
my eyes
cloudbursts,
my arms
rushes and reeds,
my blood,
crimson bursts
of buds that bloomed,
and my smile -
the sunburst,
that once did give sight
to your now blinded eyes.


you would not recognize me
as I do not, you
for I am taller
than the mightiest oak -
my limbs reach
through the dirt and earth,
to crevices and fault-lines
that can hold this planet together
or break it,
apart.


and you,
you once held me dear,
so dear,
oh so utterly dear,
and now -


you are a rock,
stuck in mud,
not moving,
gathering moss,


and I peer down low
and kneel,
in holy prayer,
and pick you up
once,
in my palms,
so utterly precious -


and throw you

as far as my soul
can see.


photo and words © Susan Marie

Friday, April 28, 2017

Come Hear Us Read --> Center for Inquiry/Just Buffalo Literary Cafe Wed May 3rd


http://www.centerforinquiry.net/wny

 
The next Center for Inquiry / Just Buffalo Literary Café event is Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 7 - 8:30 p.m.
 

The featured readers include Susan Marie, Tom Yorty, Rebekah Keaton, and Celia White

This will be a wonderful event and I hope to see you next week!  
The Center for Inquiry is located at 1310 Sweet Home Road in Amherst.  
Parking and refreshments are free, as always. 

Best, Curator, Jennifer Campbell

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Bones & Breath, A Man's Guide to Eros, the Sacred Masculine and the Wild Soul

  



http://www.thebonesandbreath.com/contact/index.html




L. R. Heartsong, artist, writer, author, French trained chef, light worker, shaman, and utterly wild soul, published a profound 223 page softcover volume, The Bones & Breath, A Man's Guide to Eros, the Sacred Masculine and the Wild Soul, via White Cloud Press.

This book is not specifically for men. This book is for all souls in search of themselves, of something more than simply existing. The Bones & Breath  is for all humans fully human, yet spiritual, or seeking to simply be. My connection to this book and the author changed my life, solidified my thoughts, enhanced my state of existence and caused me to realize that I am not alone. This volume will touch you deeply, if you allow it to, if you are willing to explore this grand stage and promise to stay in a state of absolute awe and wonderment.  This book holds your hand, yet guides you.

L. R. Heartsong, or River, is prevalent in the fields of bodywork, shamanism, naturopathy, and psychology focusing on progression, self-awareness, authenticity, exploration of the divine, acceptance of the light and dark within self, one another and the universe. He has well over twenty years working professionally in various fields of spirituality and continues to educate himself in order to help others.

When I first received this book, I excitedly browsed through the pages. What I found fascinating is the reader is able to stop wherever they please, not following a designed pattern, more so, a creative one. One can start at the beginning and follow River's empathetic story or open any page and begin. This is only one important aspect of this book.

The chapters are easy to read, not scientific or medical in nature, and as a student of Western and Eastern Medicine, as well as spirituality, this volume is most useful for all people practicing the healing arts. River's understanding of the human mind, body, and spirit connection is palpable, and his own journey within the pages creates a safe space for the reader to begin or continue upon their own path.

The chapters are as follows:

  •      Intro: The Erotic Warrior
  •      Eros, Passion, and Soul
  •      The Sacred Masculine
  •      Ensouling the Body
  •      Myth, Shadow and Light
  •      Pleasure, Power, Sex, and Eros
  •      Wild Soul, Wise Heart
  •      Conclusion: The White Hart
Within each chapter towards the end, are soulful insights, much like skill building, to utilize ways to empower, test and push yourself, lightly, at your own pace. River gently suggests, based upon his life experience and training, ways that you can question your own soul, mind and body to further progress.

For example, if one wishes to face the dark within self, at the end of chapter 4, Myth, Shadow, and Light, the author suggests embodying soul skills to explore your inner darkness. The suggestions are merely just that, questions that you can choose to ask yourself and choose to answer.

If one wishes to embark, the questions may bring the hidden, to light.

As an artist and a student of all forms of healing arts, The Bones & Breath  is a most treasured addition to my own continuous quest on this plane. Easy to read, stunning writing bordering on majestic, true to life analogies, 100% real life tried and tested ways of being, this volume simply must be consumed then digested.


Written from pure stream of consciousness, The Bones & Breath  speaks to the soul. Every chapter involves new ideas, allowing the heart to open wider, the mind to expand, and the dark side to emerge and the light to shine brighter than a beacon. This is not only a book everyone needs to own, but also a book ripe with extensive knowledge of the human experience and all it encompasses. 

Upon receiving this book, Chapter 6, Wild Soul, Wise Heart, spoke to me immensely. This chapter outlined exactly who I was, am, wish to be. This is the beauty of the author, this book, a loving gift to self.

The immense caverns hidden in each chapter, the wide-open spaces left to explore, the absolute giving of oneself, this is The Bones and Breath.










Wednesday, February 22, 2017

ravensong








a threshold, she stood,
feet, bare, body clad,
in white cotton raiment
swirling about her ankles,
as the wind
sang like a lute,
upon the still night sky.


a woman's song
carried upon the breeze,
playing with the edges
of light and dark,
night and day,
the precious time,
between
dusk and nightfall.


her ravensong
burst forth
from mouth,
wide open in awe,
chin upturned,
jawbone outlined,
tears precious
gifted in humble grace,
against the light
of the coming
of fresh eve.


the lyrics
danced around her shoulders,
tickling them just so -
tussling hair,
three feet long -
burnt sienna skied tresses.


a dreamcatcher
she was,
weaving lives
within lives,
connecting the dots,
with her fingertip raised
pointed at stars,
moving them
across Father Sky -
to meld into one another -


just
like
lovers.


this is her solace -
the ancient firmament
where Gods and Goddesses exist,
eternal,
where celestial wars rage,
she pulls both arms outward
with heart, full -
like some majestic holy crucifixion
and met the maelstrom head on -

for this
is
all
she
knows.


- forward -

and she jumps
happily,
into this rebirth,
this knowing and unknowing,
learning and unlearning,
growing and dying,
smiling while screaming inside -


to lead
not only herself
but others -
into the great abyss,
the infinite chasm,
the unknown universe,
the holy grail,
the swan songs of birds,
the most precious calling
to the wild souls of nature,
beyond all
that
is.


a threshold, she stood
feet, bare, body clad,
in white cotton raiment
swirling about her ankles
as the wind
sang like a lute
upon the still night sky.



Words and Painting © Susan Marie



On Soundcloud HERE