2014 saw a lot of loss with the passing of friends and family. My uncle died in his home, a film maker friend took his own life and a musician friend suffered from a cold for days and ultimately died, I haven't heard the cause yet, but wonder if it might have been pneumonia. Our jobs as massage therapists haven't panned out as well as we'd hoped, the spa we both worked at closed it's doors and the part time work at the University Wellness Center is hit and miss on clientele keeping their appointments. And in late Spring I developed an allergic reaction to my blood pressure medication that sent me to the hospital and sent me into a mild anaphylactic shock. From that experience I now get allergic reactions to a variety of unknown things, including some ingredient(s) found in the massage lotion we used at the spa which closed.
On the positive side of 2014, Dean and I got married in May. We had a pirate-gypsy themed wedding that pretty much was a large party for all the family and guest. Just what we wanted it to be. The remainder of 2014 was a financial struggle for us as jobs in Springfield for LMT's (licensed massage therapists) are few, the market is glutted due to a massage school being here in town. Jobs, in fact, are still an endangered species here in town as large chain grocery stores have recently closed their doors, fast food restaurants and factories had all shut down suddenly.
But we continue to be thankful for what we have, love for each other and good friends, and I look for wisdom from the goddesses to guide me along my path. Last year was pegged for the publishing of my sixth book and first fiction, but again, difficulties arose that set everything back several months. However, as of this writing, I am editing the proof copy of my novel, The Haunting of Booger County. The completed edition will be for sale in February and also marks a huge step of faith in the fact that I've started my own publishing company. Growling Pumpkins Press.
Sometimes in the face of odds stacked against us, when the jobs and money are failing, when friends and family move on from this world and leave us behind, we must think ahead, move beyond our comfort zone, let our steps of faith lead us into the next phase of our walk on this planet. I recently had a numerology session done during the blog radio program I co-host and was told 2015 was going to be a breakthrough year for me. Is it mere coincidence that my first novel is published in 2015? That this means I move beyond the regional books about ghosts that I'm known for in my state, perhaps not. Perhaps things are falling into place and there was a hand gently pushing the circumstances that kept the book from being published with the publisher I had before taking the reigns myself.
I wait anxiously to see how the rest of 2015 will play out.
Ahh yes, October, my favorite time of year. Samhain and Beltane drive me crazy, I 'feel' so much more, and 'see' everything around me, I hear the voices of the otherworld and experience the knowing that I'm out of place on this plane. Perhaps it's my past lives filtering into this world, or maybe a more powerful connection with the goddesses and gods of old, the ancient ones, or my kith and kin from a life one can easily view as being too...movie-like, or one out of a fairy tale. But in reality, whether you believe in past lives, or the 'otherkin' or multiple universes stacked atop one another, reaching out to the possibility of being something more. something magical at this time of year can be seen as a healthy expression of empowerment. Halloween is a great time for allowing adults to play "dress up". To pretend to be someone else, to gather with others of like mind and play at being a swashbuckling pirate, a mermaid, a witch, vampire, mummy or even a successful baseball or football player. It gives us a chance to touch the child in us that acted out bits from our favorite movies, or re-enacted circus acts after watching the Ringling Bros, Barnum and Bailey circus on TV, or becoming a ballerina in Swan Lake, or knowing the bears invited to your tea party ARE real.
I love to take deep breaths during October, to draw in the magic of this time.
Take a visual stroll trough any social media and you'll see how many adults, possibly even more than children love Halloween. So many are excited about October, Halloween, dressing up, parties, and attending the many haunted attractions across the country. Why does Halloween have such an appeal to adults, and why is it seemingly so underrated that Christmas decoration hit the stores almost before any Halloween supplies? Don't get my wrong, I love the Yule season as well. but there's just something about Samhain, and Beltane, that speak to the wild individual inside each of us.
We love the spooky, the unexplained, the chance that something is out there. We feel it in our bones in October, we sense the spirits walking alongside us and at Halloween it's ok to participate in anything having to do with ghosts, witches, zombies and vampires. It's ok to allow ourselves to be frightened by the actors in costume and animatronics at haunted attractions, and it's ok to take a ghost tours of a famous location and shiver at the stories told of true hauntings handed down through the generations.
I see October as a time to let us drop our defenses, to get closer to the spirits as the veil thins between worlds. We can utilize this time to reflect, to grow, to feel the goddess more directly. We can use the costumed parties as a time to let slip a glimpse of our inner selves to our loved one and the world.
And most of all it's a time to celebrate the magic that simmers deep inside all of us. To hear the voices of our sisters whisper to us over the centuries or across the neighborhood. It's a perfect time to united, like the ladies in the movie Practical Magic as they clasped hands to cast out the evil, a perfect time to join together as we all leap off the roof and fly as the magical beings we are.
Bring a sense of adventure, newness, playfulness passion and romance back into your partnership. We need to slow life down, to re-connect and to shower affection on our partner. It's far too easy today to text each other instead of gaze into the eyes of our loved one. Or we become swamped by social media and abandon the art of talking to our mate. Our appointments books are filled with thing to do and people to see except for the person who holds our heart. Take time, make a date, or two or three fro one of the most important people in you life. During courtship you built a foundation of love and trust, we mustn't' allow that to slip away from us through the cracks of stress and modern society. Life is not all about how much money we make or who we know in the business world.
This will start a small series of articles to help couple re-connect with each other. (with a break to write an article on our pirate wedding that took place on May 31st)
Our bodies are designed as a grand mandala of energy described as "Chi", "life force" or "vital energy". Our Chi flows through the body in meridians or Zen lines and these energy pathways bring life to each organ and system that contributes to our homeostasis, or well being. If our Chi is blocked, deficient or excessive, our health is negatively impacted. Sex lifts the spirits, boosts circulation and stimulates our immune system and much more. The Hindu tradition says sex stimulates Kundalini, the dormant energy or life force that lies coiled at the base of the spine or the sacrum, encompassing the area between the tailbone and the top of the genitals. The word sacrum is rooted in the Latin name 'sacer' meaning "sacred" and refers to the high honor sexual union can have. When Kundalini is awakened energy flows up the spine to the brain and can stimulate a higher sense of consciousness and enlightenment. Combine that flow of life force with the joy of true love and we can create a state of beauty on Earth known as Urantia.
Our brain is the ultimate sex organ and its function is greatly improved from sexual activity via an intense discharge of electrical energy in the limbic cortex or the "hind brain". Orgasm relaxes the muscles and leads brain waves into an alpha state of creativity, or the theta state of deep sleep that leads to being powerfully energized upon awakening. Our body's hormones and other chemicals react to physiological processes like the Moon's effect has on the ocean causing the rise and egg of the tides.
Tantra, or Tantric sex can add to your ecstasy, bliss and sexual encounters shared with a loved and trusted partner, but it can also be an intimidating subject to approach if one hopes to follow the spiritual tradition that is over 1,500 years old. However utilizing even a few of the "sky dancing" techniques found in the "twilight language" and making them more accessible to our Western culture will increase your enjoyment with your partner and aid us in honoring each other.
We must learn to slow down our over active Western life, to change the average American style of sex that is generally limited to a little foreplay and then "friction sex". We need to incorporate slow sex at time, to be present, build anticipation, excitement and prolong arousal. We need to learn to read, feel and see energy, that of our own and of our partners, to rediscover sexual energy and to find the joy in releasing our flow of Chi or Kundalini.
Just a few tips to create an intimate atmosphere and get in the frame of mind to share yourself fully with your partner.
Colors can affect the psyche and the Chi or life force. What you wear or how the area in which your lovemaking takes place can set the stage for emotions.
Pink--passion of red muted with the purity of white
Peach-passion of red with wisdom of yellow--these colors are good for the early years of a relationship.
Blue, yellow and white are more friendly colors than sexual.
Arousing colors are reds, ambers, oranges and purples. Men generally find red the most erotic while women are more attracted to violet. Keep in mind that too much red in a setting can overstimulate and spark arguments.
Water is both a powerful healer and aphrodisiac. Drinking water nourishes the body and bathing, swimming, showering, or standing beneath a waterfall satisfies the body with feelings of weightlessness and tactile sensations as it glides over our skin.
While the bedroom is called the Temple of Love, the bathroom is called the Altar of Sensuality
Create your bathroom space with natural light or open to the air as much as possible. Use warm lighting such as a soft red or yellow bulb instead of the harsh glare most bathroom have. Compliment your own coloring with wall paint and decor. Keep it tidy. Keep bath salt, natural bubble bath, essential oils and soft sea sponges near the tub/shower. They will imbue the room with delicate aromas and lend a sensual air to the surroundings.
Bathing together promotes intimacy and love building therapy for your relationship by eroding inhibitions towards each other.
Share a scented bath and read to each other, sip your favorite wines or drinks, listen to music, feed each other fruits, cheeses, nuts or chocolate. Practice shared breath work and the Erotic Gaze (talked about later). You can shower together and share mutual washing, stretching, singing or talk about issues of the day. Massage and sexual play can be a big part of your time together in the sensual glide of water surrounding you. An overnight stay at a spa or hot springs resort can offer a much needed sensuous break from stress and boost your passion for each other, (turn off the cell phones and computers) Even a foot bath for your partner with scented water will pamper and promote passion and love.
Well here I am, 60 yrs old and getting married again. My husband-to-be is Dean Pestana and our wedding will be pagan, with a pirate/gypsy theme held on May 31st, 2014. Yikes! Not a lot of time left for me to get everything accomplished that I need to do. but we're old hands at being a couple and since both have been married before neither of us require the white dress and tux flutters of a first time bride and groom (thank the Spirits). We'll have two officiants, one is the leader of a pirate band that plays at Ren Faires and the like and the other is a Wiccan High Priestess. We'll combine the tradition wedding with a hand fasting and the calling of the quarters. I even plan on having a small acting segment where we either have two warring pirate groups bond together as their Captains marry or a raiding pirate party showing allegiance with the island ruling government via a marriage. Our reception is flat out going to be a party, a Hafla, with belly dancers,poi and fire spinners, pirates, an Irish band, (along with canned music) hoop dancing, sword dancing, lots of folks in costume and wonderful geekyness. This is going to be an outdoor event, held in our large front yard under a huge Father Oak and surrounded by all our flowers and various critters that will more than likely photo bomb the pictures take throughout the day. Both Dean and I have a deep connection to nature and we can't think of a better locale than our own yard with trees he's planted and cared for and both our flower and vegetable garden with their Devas and sprites joining with us.
Then the very next weekend I am one of the workshop presenters at the St. Louis Pagan Picnic and although I've spoken about ghosts and hauntings the past three years at this event I am changing my topic--this time the subject matter will be Tantric touch and sensual massage for all us Baby Boomers (and anyone else for that matter) who are still going strong and sexy or for those who want to get their sexy back.
So for the next few weeks I'll be busy, sewing, preparing my workshop notes and hands on massage demonstration and my first fiction novel will be in at the publishers May 15th. Goddess knows I need the elves to come at night and help carry out all my insane plans to get this finished on schedule and not be totally frazzled by wedding day.
Sorry I've been MIA for awhile. My uncle died in his home right before Christmas of a sudden heart attack. And then I came down with the same plague that has been effecting everyone I know. Here in Missouri we've had the oddest weather. yesterday it was 60 degrees and people were out in their shirt sleeves. Last night yet another round of the polar cold came through and today I'm sitting here typing with finger-less gloves on, and extra long sleeved sweater and a portable heater near my feet as we awoke to 11 degrees. Around Christmas and New Year's we were locked in with heavy snowfalls as well and this offered a time to reflect and make plans for the upcoming year.
One of my newest projects is writing my first horror novel called The Haunting of Booger County. My paranormal team ParaNatural Research Association plan to make an indie horror movie out of this project. The story is loosely based on an on-going investigation we have at a private location where a suspected serial killer lived a few years back. The woman thought to be his last victim was never found.
Interestingly enough as I began to plot the story it revolved more around a man seeking to find answers to the haunting on the property. The tale was to center around this man and what happened to him, it still does. However the female characters I have in the novel have become larger, and figure more predominantly in the story. In fact the story couldn't happen without them. The females originally had been secondary characters and now have taken front row. This is a good thing. Most of them display very strong characteristics and some who are the intended victims for the killer show quick wit and a great resolve and actually escape. Yes there are some who don't, not all can be so fortunate and fiction, as in real life, has its victims.
But just as women in real life are making their mark in the world of movie making as directors, screenwriters and actresses--especially in the horror field, I've come to find out, which is male dominated-- so have my main women characters taken over in the novel and have become a force to be reckoned with. I'm proud of my female characters and many are based on ladies I'm proud to call friends in real life. I not only have the would-be victims that fight back and escape but those in law enforcement who defend the male lead from the ancient horrors lurking on the property and the female who may, or may not be responsible for some of the evil activities happening in the story and who may or may not be trying to stop what's been happening there.
As I've been checking into women in the horror field I've come across some phenomenal women on Facebook--Patricia Chica Filmmaker--has won awards in the past few weeks for her movies and as a female director. Her films are worth finding Ceramic Tango won awards at Shockfest and the Macabre Faire film fest.
tWIStED tWINS PRODUCtIONS--is run by identical twins, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska (Soska Twins) who have won awards for writing, acting and directing horror movies. They are best known for the movies Dead Hooker in a Trunk and American Mary.
All are independent produced, and not products of Hollywood but gaining huge followings across North America and Canada where both Patricia and the twins are from.There's even a month of recognition for women who are active in the field of horror--http://womeninhorrormonth.com/
I admire these ladies for what they're doing, not so much that it's in the field of horror which I've found myself not tackling, but for what they've accomplished in a field heavily owned by men. Much like women who make their way in sports, or the military, these women are on the forefront of gaining acceptance for what a female can do regardless of her gender but based on her talent, knowledge, ability and wiliness to work hard.
A friend of mine--Maharet Christina Hughes--owner of GraphicVibeLA (image of Maharet as she looks today)
https://www.facebook.com/graphicvibela has gone through a mentally and emotionally devastating divorce and come out on top. Although she still gets bouts of loneliness and depression over the life she once had, she is moving onward and upward. During her marriage she lived in a small town here in Missouri with a small town attitude towards her as a belly dancer. This affected her business as a photographer and professional capable of anything from printing business cards to designing books (which she has) for another strong lady I admire--Princess Farhana--a belly dancer extraordinaire who has made several teaching videos, written books, appeared in movies and danced worldwide. The cover photo is of her latest book, photography by Maharet.
Chris, who goes by the name Maharet as a dancer, made the move from small town Missouri to Hollywood CA where she is losing weight, getting her new business up and running, taking photos of dancers, musicians, actors, and is even writing her own book.(images below are of me and Maharet a few years ago, one at a dance performance and the other for the signing of my first book in which her pool hall was featured for its ghost story) She has blossomed even through her struggles and fought off the defeated feelings brought on by her divorce. All of these women I've listed have overcome the odds and are succeeding in their goals, both on a professional and personal level and both Maharet and Farhana are inspirations for a couple of the strong women in my novel.
Lomi Lomi literally means "to break up into small pieces with the fingers/" Is is a type of healing massage that is traditionally practiced in the Hawaiian Islands. This method is defined as "to rub, press,crush, massage, rub out, to work in and out as claws of a contented cat? In the early 1900's Lomi Lomi was coined "Hawaiian massage" by the legal system. The form of massage involves both physical and spiritual ritual component. Lomi Lomi originated in the South Pacific and is practiced mainly in the Hawaiian Island although practitioners of this are can be found in Australia, and the U.S.
The use of palms, forearms, fingers, knuckles, elbows, knees, feet and even sticks, shells and stones make this form of massage a true whole body:and contact with Nature, experience.
Traditionally, Lomi Lomi was practice in four contexts:
As a healing practice of native healers
As a luxury and aid to digestion for the ruling chiefs
A restorative massage withing the family
By the masters of Hawaiian martial arts
While the word kahuna lomilomi is widely used in contemporary writings as the massage practitioner, those who performed the healing art were called ka po'e lomilomi (the massage people) or kanaka lomi (massage person). a related term kauka lomilomi was coined in 1920 to describe osteopathic physicians. The word kauka is the Hawaiian version of doctor.
Like all endeavors in old Hawaii, Lomi LOmi was conducted with prayer and intention. Herbs were often used and no one was to disturb the practitioner as he or she prepared to conduct the healing art. They did not want the vibration broken between them and Nature; these old practitioners knew the laws of vibration, of connection, they knew the power of the spoken word. They gathered the vibration of the plentiful.
This form of massage was used for healing, childbirth musculoskeletal disorders, asthma and applied to babies and children to strengthen them and mold their features for physical beauty.
Most often the massage was performed in family units once a member learned the skill from the village medical priest, or kahuna. This skill set was handed down through the generations accompanied by the transferred teachings of using positive thoughts to channel energy called Mana; the life force.
Lomi Lomi releases healing energy or Mana from the practitioner into the client as the therapist uses the long, flowing, dance-like movements along the client's body. This form of massage has been compared to rocking a baby in a cradle, working deeply but rhythmically with the long strokes fully nurturing the body. The experience can overwhelm the mind with sensations and communicates an acceptance of the inner self, and often changes the way you think, feel, move and breathe as harmony is achieved between the body, mind and soul. The body's subtle energy channels, Chakras, nadis and meridians or Zen lines are used to effect this harmony. The body may then release painful past life memories, stress, depression and trauma locked away in the subconscious mind.
The hands on technique is an important part in this massage and its associated healing, however the work must be done with unconditional love from the practitioner whose focus is deep and complete. Love and compassion for the client must be present, rather than treating him/her as an object to be 'fixed'. This is what allows the energy flow and established true harmony within the body.
Prior to and following all healing modalities the practitioner took part in spiritual blessing to initiate the healing process as they sought harmony between man, nature, and the gods/goddesses. This practice was an essential part of their practice and known as lokahi. Without lokahi there is illness. Today in our Western lifestyle we forget the oneness of connecting with Nature and the gods/goddesses; look around at all the illness in our society brought on not only by the poisons in our food, air and water, but by the hustle of daily life and the dis-connecting of the family unit
Dancing is a means of connecting with oneself and the goddess. Belly dancing, Chakra dance and temple style dance easily lend themselves to connection with ones higher self, all offer the chance to allow us to move freely, to flow in rhythm with the music, as we experience a falling away of self doubt and image conciseness. These forms allow women of all sizes and ages to come together without fearing judgement on their looks or weight or even any physical impairment that might hinder them from executing the gravity defying leaps and spins we so often see on TV program where the young and beautiful compete with each other to win money and fame.
I am a belly dancer and will turn 60 this Christmas. The style I've chosen to learn is the Tribal style, earthy and grounded, where the dancers stand more solidly rooted on both the balls and heels of their feet rather than elevated on the balls for the majority of the dance. Tribal does incorporate the Cabaret method as well as utilize other dances from various cultures. When we perform our Tribal Fusion dances we draw from bits of Jazz, Salsa, Bhangra, Temple, even country line dance if it fits the choreographed number for our performance.Our costumes are bright for the Tribal style with large flowing 25 yard skirts that swirl and move with us in a cloud of gauzy cotton. Scarves and belts adorned with bells, heavy silver jewelry, or beaded patches bring an emphasis to our hips. And yes, we dance to accentuate our hips, not to hide them, Often our skirts are pulled up and tucked into the waistband creating ruffled layers at our sides, or bustled in the back, drawing the eye to our hips, to the part of our bodies that support our young as we carry our babies to term. Our hips are goddess-like, and our bellies, and our costumes allow the movement of both to be clearly seen.
Belly dance teaches women to take control back of our muscles, to undulate our bellies, bump our hips out and in in, up and down. to celebrate our womanhood. To recall the original intent of the dance in preparing young women for childbirth. The dance allows us to tap into the Wild Woman in all of us. To seek Her out. We feel our own beauty in dance and we learn to dance with other women in a trusting, non-predatory way.
In the Tribal style we learn dance moves that have a set pattern, then brings these individual sets of moves into and improvisational cohesive dance with the addition of verbal and non-verbal 'cues' that alert us when the leader is about to change the pattern she's dancing into the next one. The women performing an Improv dance never know ahead of time what the leader may choose to do as she 'feels' the song being played until she signals us for the next change of movements. There are also signals that cue us into knowing it's time to change leaders and during one dance it's possible to cycle every dancer into the front position to lead her sisters in an original and heart felt interpretation of the song. We celebrate as one the joy of the dance, each other and expressing a sisterhood not easily found in today's competitive, money-driven society.
Dance can also teach us balance, and many dancers incorporate the practice of yoga, Tai Chi or other body arts into a daily meditation or workout. Dancers can branch out into balancing swords, candles, or baskets on our heads and still perform the focused muscles movement of our torso. This adds to the feeling of accomplishment, of pride in one's achievements where you strive to bring out your best.
For me, there is a beauty in dance, a overwhelming joy. I perform before audiences, but it's not necessary in order to reach a level of oneness with the Goddess within. Remember your dance as a child, when music played and it didn't matter who was around you; you just danced, freely and without embarrassment. We only learn to be embarrassed when we allow others to make us feel that way. When someone laughed at us as a child and said we looked silly, or berated us and told us to stop dancing, to behave, or to act 'our age'. And yet dance was and still is; a vital part of certain cultures, drawing people together to each other and to their deities. Dance is an unspoken language, one that can be understood through any spoken barrier. And dance is a language we must cultivate back into our own lives.