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oakreclining4 It was a normal oak tree as far as oak trees go, except that it curved back like it was reclining before it reached out for the sky.
Devon walked towards the oak tree with focused determination. Her mind was a blaze with conversation. Dialogues she had recently had with people crowded the busy intersection of her mind. New possibilities vied for her attention and all she wanted to do was breathe.
She leaned against the oak tree, bending her back like she was doing a back stand. She gazed up at the sky. If it were an eye it would be the eternal ageless eye of the crone gazing back at her with enduring peace.

oakoverShe toned, unwinding her thoughts, letting them squirm away into the grass and seep into the earth. Devon took a deep breath and on her next exhale the wind kicked up and the sun came out of hiding. The leaves danced high above her and felt comforting. Devon made an effort to hear their song. She imagined it was a lullaby that the crone was singing to her. Devon surrendered to the crone’s constant calm blue eyes, and her dancing leaf song. Rustling notes never sounded so sweet. Devon stretched out her arms imagining they were branches. She reached higher and higher, further and further, stretching her mind to stillness.
oaksun

The sun squeezed through the oak’s branches dripping sunbeams into Devon’s brow and crown. They filled her mind with light that spread its radiance throughout her body, warming her soul. In that moment Devon opened her heart and received deep nurturance from the crone, from the sun, from the wind, from the oak. As she let go deeper still, she could have sworn she heard the old oak sigh. Was it being nurtured too? Devon wondered. The crone sang dancing leaves of joy and Devon joined her. Her song was quiet, reverent. She was at peace.
They stayed there together; Devon and oak, until the sun turned crimson and reddened the sky. If you would have looked at the oak, you would have seen two souls entwined, neither human or tree, but instead a silhouette of love.

And that’s the end of the story.

Copyright © 2015, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.
Photos © 2015 Vlatka Herzberg

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Changes

San Diego Sunset 1Dear reader,

Based upon recent research, I have decided to carry only our own photos. Recent previous blogs have been deleted.

Sincerely,

Vlatka

Soundhealher

Photo by Theodore Herzberg

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Deer Woods, MagikMagik and I went into the woods before the day got hot and the workday got underway. Sometimes we play follow the leader, sometimes Magik follows me, today I followed Magik. He had a mission in mind, to find the crunchiest piece of bark in the forest to munch on.

We walked up one trail, down another. Earlier that morning I used a newly learned grounding technique. I ran cold water on my feet, then hot, then cold, then hot, then cold again. Walking, I felt much more connected to the earth, sure-footed.

Magik rounded the bend, I rounded the bend and to my delight I found a sleek black and white feather. A little further down the trail I found two owl feathers.

Magik hopped over and under fallen tree trunks. I followed until we got to Grandmother Oak tree with Bay Laurels for arms. I greeted Grandmother Oak, she greeted me. Magik took the opportunity to munch on bark, while I got settled. I took my crystals out and waved the feather over them and over me. I didn’t wave the feather over Magik in case he thought it was food.Deer Woods, feather I started to sing, checking in to my surroundings, finding my comfort. Mostly animals, not people visit this sacred place, so I felt comfortable to let go quickly.

When I sing, I can feel what emotions are hanging around in me, I can observe them and start to loosen them with sounds I make. Thoughts drop away and the raw feelings are exposed. I softened into sadness, a soulful sadness. When you sing sadness, you can stretch it and dive deep into it. You can be intimate with it, and you can witness it. You can sing on the outside of sadness and find joy there. You can sing sadness and joy, back and forth until you slip between into the liminal.

An Old One came to watch her. Perhaps she was an old Faerie Queen, or maybe she was the crone, or a Shamaness who came to just sit and be with the singer. Folds of eyelids closed over bright, keen, hawk eyes. White wisps of hair feathered her face. Her nose was strong, and determined like her character. Her lips flat and used to smiling a lot. She held her head with a soft majesty. Her presence filled the liminal with peace. Together the Old One and the singer sat waiting, listening deeper. The singer wasn’t sure what she was waiting for or listening to, but that didn’t matter, she surrendered to the peace.The singer sang, and the Old One listened. The singer sang cascading waterfalls, and silent moments. The singer played hide-n-seek with notes that darted around the trees and back again. Somewhere in the play the Old One disappeared and the singer opened her eyes. A deer was watching her. The singer sang tender, tender gentleness to the earth. She caressed the trees with butterfly kisses. Her voice echoed through the forest, leaping and skipping, and eager to play. The deer was still, so very still for the whole song. Nary an eyelash moved. The singer lowered her voice, still circling notes, making them rise with the wind and fall with the leaves. The deer moved closer, each step purposeful, eyes focused on the singer.

Deer Woods, deerThe singer finished her song, honoring the tree, the earth, and the deer. The deer watched the singer. Their eyes held a long moment. Then the deer walked away, raising legs over brush, one leg, two leg, three leg, four. It was rhythmic, almost like a deer march. The deer made its own sounds, singing short bursts of air. One breath, two breath, three breath, four. They walked away, down the hill, leaving the singer and Magik alone, sitting before Grandmother Oak with Bay Laurel trees for arms.

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.
Photos © 2014 Vlatka and Theodore Herzberg

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Red Rock Raven, Magik and ManzanitaIt was one of those mornings where I felt the push to get work done. My Corgi Magik who is often a gauge munched on a small branch he found in my collection of rocks. I proceeded to lecture him on how it was important that I work and that I will take him out later. He pouted and looked up at me with those big brown eyes and if he could he would have said, “relax”. I remembered that sometimes when I am frazzled busy that is exactly when I need to go into nature and my place of beauty. So off we trudged into the woods. Walking down the street, a small red rock was on the sidewalk, I picked it up and looked at it more closely. It reminded me of the large Red Rock. I had not intended to go there today, too much to do. I had lectured Magik on how today was going to be a short walk, but I looked at the red rock in my hand and decided to listen. We trudged towards the woods. I was in my head and stomping my feet, moving forward, wanting to get the walk over and done with fast. Just as we climbed the hill I heard Raven’s “cawing.”

There were two of them sitting in a tree, like sentinels, and they were making these “purring” sounds. I hadn’t heard them before. Then they started to make these “popping” sounds also new to me. I watched as they arched slightly backwards to make the low “popping” sound. It’s almost as though their tone or voice dropped lower in order to make the “popping” sound. I was struck by the uniqueness of the vocalization and that they looked like two sentinels on either branch of an oak tree. I stopped to take my camera out, go figure they flew away. “Well I guess I needed to be in the moment with them,” I thought to myself and off we trudged, although my footsteps were a little lighter and my head a little less full.

As we approached the second climb I heard the golden dry grass humming. I wasn’t sure if they were crickets all chirping at once, but something in that steady “hummm” calmed me, it was almost like a chorus of dry golden grass and crickets humming or toning together. The sky was this brilliant blue and the last of my heaviness and mental busy-ness dropped away.

Red Rock Raven, Ravens on Red RockAs we rounded the bend two ravens flew over us, “cawed” and landed on the Red Rock! I was totally awed, and full of wonder and joy! Despite feeling the urge to push myself to work I listened to Magik, listened when I found the smaller red rock, and listened when I saw the ravens. I and others call it listening to the “whispers”. I’m so glad I listened. Magik didn’t notice the ravens and traipsed up to the rock. They flew off, circling above me making that wondrous “purring” sound they made earlier. Gratitude rushed over me! I sat on my usual stone chair on the Red Rock, made myself comfy, got out my aquamarine and started to sing. It was one of those moments where I felt like I stepped out of one world and into another. There was no-one around, the sky seemed electric blue, the golden dry grass sang with me, and the sun and the salamanders seemed to be celebrating, flooding me with passion. Passion for life!

I sang to the forest all mottled with light. I sang to the gnomes who tend the forest, trees and shrubs. I sang to the old woman who tends the woods with such tenderness and care. I sang to them all about the pain in the world, about the violence against women and abuse of children. I sang of regrets and mistakes that I have made. I sang compassion into all the cracks and crevices of the world and my world, to people I remembered, and to those I didn’t know. I sang peaceful blue skies to the places of violence. I sang golden singing grasses to women lost in their pain. I sang raven’s purring to children crying. I sang compassion to eyes watching me. And I sang to the earth gentle as the breeze. Grass “humming”, ravens “purring”, insects “buzzing”, wind “whispering”, ancient tones “droning”. Something deep from within the forest stirred. I could hear her breath. My eyes were seared shut by sunlight, but I could still see the mottled light of the forest. I could hear the flutter of her wings, born anew. Somewhere in the heart of the forest with its mottled light, new life was being born. It was a life filled with the innocence of a deer, and a heart so tender it ached as her wings unfurled and she stepped forth on the earth for the first time. I heard last fall’s leaves cracking under her bare feet. I wondered if they bled? She stepped forth undaunted by the sunlight and caught her breath, the beauty froze her for a moment. Electric blue, golden grass, red rock beauty sang to her, this creature born anew. The wind greeted her, caressed her cheek. She spread out her wings, jumped into the sky and with open arms flew!

I stopped singing and put the aquamarine in my pocket. The wind tousled the golden grasses and the electric blue sky was still there, tangible. Magik came out of his hiding place in the shade and sat, his polite way of begging for a treat. “Not today, you had your treat, we both did.” We got up and headed back home. A shadow of wings flew over me. They were long. The bird was long. But as it flew over me I heard her feathers whisper, “thank you.”

What wildness is born out of our creative play? I would have never known had I not listened to the whispers.

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

photos by Vlatka Herzberg

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Image

I’m so excited to share this with you. One of the most naturally beautiful places in the world to me is Iceland. My daughter is currently going to school there for a semester. On the weekend she went on a historic tour of Iceland with a professor and other students from the Icelandic University. During the tour they stopped at museum where the Tapestry of Iceland is being created. The above photo is of some people stitching the tapestry.

While my daughter was waiting for lunch, she saw the tapestry behind a window. A woman asked her in Icelandic if she would like to stitch a thread into the tapestry. My daughter was first surprised that she understood the Icelandic and that she was asked to participate in such an honor. She was the 3041 person to stitch thread into the Tapestry of Iceland and also got her name recorded!

What excites me about all this is the history being woven, and being woven into Icelandic history. The tour was focused on some of the history of Iceland being told through a Saga, the history and saga were as one woven together. What also amazed me is that there are physical landmarks still in Iceland today that were a part of the history and Saga being told today. The Saga’s and their physical landmarks are kind of like an Inuksuk of Icelandic history.

The significance of the tapestry and so many people coming together to weave it reminds me so much of the Tibetan Story Scrolls, Thanka paintings. In Tibetan history, there were holly men that walked from village to village with these ancient and sacred Story Scrolls. They would stop at this village or that, roll out their scroll and start telling the stories, the history and spirituality all woven together as one, and they would tell the stories for hours. At the end, tears would be streaming down the listener’s faces for something sacred was transmitted. That’s exactly the word that a Chicago dancer I met in Canada many years ago used when referring to the sacred and ancient dances of Tibet, “transmitted”. He said that the dancer would become the deity and in that process transmit the spiritual teachings to the students. I believe something similar and miraculous happens with the Thanka’s, the Story Scrolls of Tibet.

I wonder if that kind of magic and mystery is being woven into the Tapestry of Iceland, and for that matter other tapestries, or Story Scrolls that we create with friends, family, and community. Look at quilts for example; often many hands and many stories have gone into their creation.

When I used to teach through story in schools in Canada, I would have the children create their own Story Squares. In groups of 3 or 4 they would draw a story onto a large square cloth and then be able to tell and share it with the rest of the class later. One of my favorite memories is walking into a school and seeing the Story Squares hung like large prayer flags from the hallway walls.

Whether drawn or sewn, weaving ourselves and our history into cloth, we become aware how we are all threads woven together in the Great Tapestry of Life.

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La Luna

The people of the village use their torches to light up the dark bog and together they remove the heavy boulder off of Mother Moon. Her radiant face shines with such beauty she touches the hearts and minds of all the villagers and fills the bog with illumination. She lifts into the sky and fills the village and the world with light.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes goes on to talk about her insights into the story of “The Lost Mother Moon”. She talks about how the bog in the story represents emotional wounds both in us personally and in our world. She suggests that the way to work with our wounding is not to avoid it, but rather go into it, feel it, be in the center of it metaphorically and meditatively. While being in the center of the wound, feeling with intensity, we can find the light, even if it is just a flicker. We grab that light and fill ourselves with it, we can come back into our lives and into our world being that light for others and ourselves.

After I finished listening to this second cd of “Theatre of the Imagination”, I checked my Facebook page. A friend had posted a story about a man who had gone to a school where there was a tragedy and he stood in front of the school as a bodyguard, helping everyone feel safer. He came everyday to stand as a bodyguard. No one asked him to. No one paid him. He went right into the center of that wound in that school and in that town, and he was a light.

How can we be a light to each other, our world, and ourselves?

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©2012 Vlatka Herzberg

Sienna ran through the forest, deeper and deeper still, sprinting like a deer on the run. She felt the dampness of the mist cloak her, hiding her from the world she left behind. She bent over to catch her breath and noticed a gate, rusted, old, hanging onto its last hinge. Sienna shoved it and it creaked with complaints of being still for far too long. She tiptoed into this hallowed place, aware that she was not alone. Eyes were everywhere watching her. She was afraid to move in case she stepped on someone. “Who goes there?” Amidst the ferns and roots, Sienna saw a large face, moss-covered nose, fern hair, dark slit for one eye, an old tree trunk for the other, roots reaching out stretching, digging deep into earth, searching for light. “It’s I, Sienna.” she muttered. She closed her eyes part way so that she could see through the haze of lashes, soft vision, and then she saw him, or at least she thought it was a him. She caught her breath and hesitated. He smiled. “Fear not child of the forest. You are welcome here.”

Sienna looked around and saw more faces looking at her. “I have wandered into the woods many times, and have never found this place or seen you.” He Who Watches Without Being Seen laughed. “We are seen when we choose.”  “Why today?” Sienna asked. “Why not?” he smiled. “Have you seen the wind dance and the trees laugh?” he asked. “Only in this sanctuary, not in my world. People have forgotten how to dance with the wind and laugh with the trees.”  “Will you?” “Of course.” she said and instantly the wind twirled around her, taking her by the hand. They danced with a fervor, spinning wildly out of control, until Sienna fell to the ground laughing, and the trees laughed with her too.

He Who Watches rumbled with laughter. “What’s so funny?” asked Stone Face. Sienna stopped laughing and looked into Dry Creek. Shrouded by leaves, was a face, oh so smooth, delicate lines for eyes and nose, and a just so mouth, as though someone had brushed it on. “Life.” said Sienna. “Sometimes life is funny.” Stone Face blinked, blank. “Well I don’t think it’s funny. So many humans walk this way and all they see is hard rocks, wet water and lots of green. Seldom do they stop and see what isn’t seen.” “I’m doing it.” smiled Sienna. “Humph.” grumbled the stone. “I know that the stones talk, the wind sings and that when I walk through the forest I am seen.” said Sienna. “What does one person matter?” grumbled Stone Face. “I am not only one. There are many.” “Where?” asked Stone Face. “Here and there, and everywhere and that matters. Sienna smiled. “Humph.” A twig snapped. Stone Face froze.

Leaves rustled, a deer approached. Sienna turned and gazed deep into the deer’s eyes. The deer blinked and shape shifted into a tall woman with a gentle, deer like face, with large, black doe eyes, and soft, long deer like ears. She swept across the creek and gently laid her hand on Sienna’s shoulder. “You have heard our call, and have come.” “Of course.” said Sienna. “Shall we?” asked Deer Woman. “There is a whole Other World waiting to explore.” Sienna followed. Deer Woman guided  her towards a hollow tree trunk, and began to step into it. “Wait.” said Sienna. Deer Woman looked deep into Sienna. Her eyes moistened with tenderness. “See with more than your eyes.” she suggested. Sienna took a deep breath and let go of things needing to be the way she thought they ought to be, and then she really could see. “It’s a portal.” she exclaimed. Deer Woman nodded, extended her hand. Sienna took it gratefully. Together they stepped out of one world and into another.

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