Friday, January 24, 2020

The Wizard of Oz Portal

There are a lot of dead people in my past, not just people who died of AIDS, but a large number of these beautiful souls did. I was searching for a way to contact them that was universal, and I do not mean through a kind of portal in the sense of organized religion, but something secular we had all shared or visited. There was no location I was certain everyone had visited, no restaurant or park or beach. Then I thought about The Wizard of Oz as the place all of us had visited at some point in our lives. Everyone I ever knew saw this film. I am calling this (Soma)tic ritual The Wizard of Oz Portal.
            I have also been thinking a lot about hypogea in ancient Greece. Hypogeum was circular burial chambers, and pregnant women would visit the remains of their dead ancestors to invite them to inhabit the bodies of their unborn babies. I hope I was a pregnant woman who performed this ritual in a past life. It sounds terrifying at first, seeing the bones of the dead, but it is exciting thinking of such an experience coursing through my electrical circuitry and nervous system, my blood pumping into the heart of my unborn child and ancestor simultaneously.           
            Do you remember the scene in the film where the wicked witch puts Dorothy into an opium-induced trance in the poppy field? It is an essential part of the story because after Dorothy is pulled out of the trance by the good witch Glenda she can finally see the solutions for the way out of fear and suffering. But when she is asleep in the poppies, this is when I freeze the frame, then sit across the room with binoculars, studying Dorothy while quietly invoking the name of a dead lover or friend.
            After doing this recently I had a dream that I walked past a church and singing poured onto the street. When I walked inside the church it was filled with everyone I knew who had died of AIDS. They were fantastic and laughing and happy to see me and I was happy to see them. There has never been a dream as good as that one for me. Even my next best dream was only half as overwhelming with beauty, hugging and talking with these friends. If I could get pregnant, I would want to be in a hypogeum with these friends and lovers and invite them to visit the physicality of Earth again through the life of my baby. Without hesitation I would do it and write poems with my baby, a true collaboration. I do enjoy visiting The Wizard of Oz Portal. It is a way to be present for an examination of what parts of my life are beautiful because of each of these people and what each of them taught me. My life is what it is because of these people, and all of it, the horror and drama and being sick and me trying to convince everyone to come to macrobiotic cooking class with me. 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Creative Capital (Soma)tic Poetry Ritual Talk

January 30th, at 6pm
Creative Capital, NYC
Limited seating please RSVP
Please buy your ticket at THIS LINK

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Suspension Writing

Cave of the Hands, Argentina
In 2005 this technique was called the Human Hibernaculum. At a workshop in San Francisco that year, half the students were dancers. I like it when dancers join (Soma)tic workshops, giving all of us poets lessons in the true spirit of soma meets somatic. Initially, this ritual ingredient involved each person getting the opportunity to write inside a tight circular cave made of the other students. The writer's job was to write, nothing more. Everyone else was instructed to please place their dominant hand (the hand one writes with) on the head of the writer, stacked one on top of the other. I would then ask everyone to direct a loud hum down the tower of hands and into the head of the writer. It was very exciting in my experience, like being filled with a high electrical pulse, my pen flying across the paper, channeling the most extraordinary material. But for most people, it made them dizzy and sick, one of the dancers vomiting in the middle of the ritual. It was a disaster, and I knew there needed to be significant changes to this ritual ingredient.
           Over the years, the Human Hibernaculum transformed into Suspension Writing, which is far more enjoyable and generative in many ways; this is something I generally include at the end of the day. Please ask everyone to choose a line or phrase from their day's writing, something they can easily memorize and repeat. Then break the workshop into groups of five. A clock or watch is essential for the workshop instructor. Each group is to choose the first writer, and the writer's job is to write, and nothing more. The other four are asked to place their hands on the writer's back, and then the writer is asked to lean into their hands. When the writer is securely held, I ask them to bend their knees so that they need the others to be able to stand while they write. Then instruct the others to whisper their lines, please. After half a minute, ask them to please speak their lines. After half a minute, ask them to sing their lines, and time this for a full three minutes. Then ask them to speak their lines for half a minute, then whisper their lines for half a minute, then stop and switch. Each person gets to write while being held and washed in the sound. While this is generative writing, it is also exhausting. At the very end, I ask everyone to shake and wildly dance, howling, or screaming. Then we stand or sit to write for another ten minutes.
           With multiple groups of five, have the writers face the center of the room, so the whispering and singing travel between the groups, compounding the experience. If you have students who are sensitive to being held or touched, consider a different version where the workshop is divided into two groups. Group A will be in a circle writing, while Group B will be in a circle behind Group A, directed to whisper, speak, sing, etc. Then the two groups switch. The good thing about this version is that there is less exhaustion from holding someone's body up, and therefore you can do multiple rounds.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Crystal Dream Therapy ∆∆∆ Astral Projection

There is a running joke among my friends that I am too Capricorn to sleep. The fact is I have always resented needing to sleep, but then again, this ritual ingredient would not exist unless I was interested in making those many unconscious hours productive in some way. When I was a teenager in Philadelphia, there was a queer elder we called our New Age Queen named Peppy, the first transwoman that I ever knew, and she was a one-transwoman healing force. Peppy taught me to read tarot, but also shared with me the uses of crystals in industry and science, and how we can push that ancient technology for healing our lives. She told me once, "Crystals breathe one breath a century, fifty years inhaling, fifty years exhaling. If we are patient, we can hear whether they are on the inhale stage or the exhale." The day I began taking Peppy's advice about forging connections with crystals, was the day I truly started my conscious relationship with the living planet Earth.
           There are bottled waters on the market prized for their crystal, or silica content, just read their labels to see what I mean. There are many problems with these waters though, the first being that they are sold in plastic, and I hope that everyone reading this does not need me to tell them how harmful plastics are to the future health of our species and all of the other species alive on our home planet. There is also the grotesque fossil fuel waste of transporting the water across oceans and continents. In other words, please infuse your water at home with crystals, and it is easy, and I will tell you how to do it now.
           Clear quartz is the main crystal, and I generally have three small pieces. Clear quartz is a connecting web between worlds, between waking and sleeping, between physical and spiritual, and between our bodies and the planet itself where we find all of the nutrients to keep us alive. I also add a piece of rose quartz and one blue lace agate. Rose quartz cleans and opens the heart chakra, and any amount of cleansing and opening of the heart is a good thing, even when we are referring to our sleeping bodies. Blue lace agate opens the throat chakra, something very beneficial for a poet. Lapis lazuli is also an excellent choice for opening and maintaining a robust and healthy voice.
           Clean the crystals by laying them on a small bed of dry sea salt overnight. Flush the salt down the toilet when waking and wash the crystals. Then place them in a clear glass pitcher. Use filtered water when filling the pitcher. Let it sit all day near your bed while you go about your day, allowing the water to cook in the vibratory pulses of the crystals thoroughly.
           Now, please use a clear pint glass to fill from the pitcher. I have tried cups of ceramic, metal, plastic, but a clear pint glass is the best choice, and I will explain why I believe that to be true later. Fill a clear pint glass with the water, sit on the edge of your bed, look down onto the surface of the water and say three times, "Please help me remember my dreams." Then drink half the glass of water, and set the remaining half glass near your head on a nightstand. When you wake, sit on the edge of the bed and repeat saying three times to the water, "Please help me remember my dreams." Drink the remaining half glass of water. Missing parts of the dreams come flooding back to me, it is just amazing, and I hope you have the same results. In workshops, some students have reported having no results for a couple of nights. Many people see results from the start, but if not, please keep trying as it merely needs time to build its process in some of us. I like to have a digital recorder nearby to preserve the dreams. Then I write in my notebook as fast as I can, using this unique opportunity to get inside the ritual of the dream therapy for language to be used in my poems.
           My theory about how the Crystal Dream Therapy works is that the water is connected through the crystal infusion. After we drink half the glass, the other half glass of water is still in communication with the water now inside us as it moves through our blood and into our brains. Throughout the night, the water we drank shares details of the dreams with the water left behind in the glass. When we drink the remaining water, it acts as a backup file, showing us what we had forgotten when reentering the waking world. I believe the reason the clear pint glass works better than ceramic, metal or plastic, is that the molecules of the glass allow the conversation the crystal water is having to penetrate with better ease throughout the night. Over the years, I have experimented not only with different containers and crystals, but also distance, sometimes keeping the remaining half glass on the other side of the room, or even in a separate room. When the glass is kept near my sleeping body is when the dream recall is sharpest and strongest. The use of clear quartz not only enhances the water, but it also upgrades the qualities of the rose quartz and blue lace agate.

NOTE: Astral projection was something I was very skeptical of for years until a good friend proved it to me by visiting me three times one month. After a workshop and reading a book and a half about it, I was still unable to do it, and gave it up, thinking it was just not for me. After more than a year of saturating myself with the crystal-infused water while working with the Crystal Dream Therapy, I found myself on the ceiling looking down on my sleeping body in the middle of the night. It was terrifying. I had not anticipated terror, but it was real, especially when I would see myself reenter myself. The next morning I would wake aching and spend the day exhausted. Eventually, I started traveling outside the apartment and would find ways of proving to myself that I was not dreaming. One evening I saw a drunken man walking on the sidewalk after buying a hoagie from the all-night sandwich shop and was yelling, "I told him I didn't want any tomatoes!" He threw the tomatoes onto the sidewalk. The next morning I ran down the stairs and outside to find those tomato slices just where I saw them land the night before while floating above the angry drunk.
           The Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania commissioned half a dozen other poets and me to write about our neighborhoods in Philadelphia. The project was titled "Poetry, Politics, and Proximity." My poems were composed through these astral saunters, floating above the trees and building tops. I decided to plainly and clearly explain the process at the microphone during the project's event, regardless of who was in the audience. And of course, some older male poets scoffed, but I have been used to such poet behavior for decades, never to worry myself about it. I told them how every morning after waking from an astral trip, I would hammer out a solid block of text, like plasma thrown against the wall. It was never coherent, ever, at least not at first. I would carry these blocks with me and chip away at the words to reveal the poems hidden inside, and those were what I read at the event. I am very proud to say that my first astral projection poems were commissioned by the University of Pennsylvania, despite the fact it is where President Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. all went to college. Is there any amount of poetry or poetry-making that can be the antidote to that level of psychic filth? We poets are constantly amending the constitution, and one day we will be heard! Poets should also be given money for talking to ghosts or flying around town at night, acting as the ghosts.