Well I'm back folks! It was an amazing, beautiful month away, ensconsed at the Anima Center deep in the Gila Wilderness in NM. I spent many an afternoon floating in the beaver ponds, cooking magical food with Loba in her loving kitchen, singing to the night winds, sleeping under the stars, and gathering food and medicine plants galore.
It was a much needed respite from the civilized and busy world, being alone in the woods makes so many things clearer, it gives perspective and time to explore the dusty corners of ones mind and heart.
I'm not sure I could recount every meaningful moment or lesson learned, or heartfelt insight that I was gifted with while being held by the powerful canyon where the Anima Center resides, but there were many.
I remembered what it felt like to open up and SING! So many years and tears I shed because of the fear of opening up my mouth and saying what I felt, singing the songs in my heart, and letting that vulnerable place in me be seen, and heard by all who cared to listen. I spent many mornings singing as the sun rose over the cliffs, feeling so deeply my heart, my grief and my gratitude.
All mornings rise, all mornings rise
I give thanks to all mornings rise
each day a new beginning,
all mornings rise, all mornings rise.
As night fell, and the stars winked on in the velvety black, I sang again, feeling the songs of the night within me, and singing them out to the birds, and the crickets, the gurgling river and shining moon. It is amazing that we are able to forget the sterling brightness of the full moon when it is dulled by the city lights, or that uncountable multitude of stars that bejewel our nighttime skies, the Milky Way spinning across the night.
I chopped wood with a heavy maul to fuel the woodstove on which Loba cooked, and found immense satisfaction in the thwack and crack of a log splitting under the rhythm of the ax falling. It wasn't always easy, there were days when I couldn't split a log asunder no matter how I tried, but as my arms strengthened, and my confidence, and with the help of someone a bit stronger and more experienced than me, I came to enjoy the task of splitting wood in the shade of a juniper tree in the mid morning.
I canned peaches, plums and wild meat, gathered bagfuls of wild grape leaves to pickle, oodles of acorns to be roasted, armloads of fragrant pungent poleo mint, and started a fire in the rain, and then successfully grilled steaks to perfection for a feast of wild and wonderful foods, spilling off our plates in abundance.
I learned to skin, gut and cook snake (Yes, I actually did, and it tastes absolutely yummy!)
I got stung by a hairy catterpillar and a fresh alder leaf poultice took the awful sting right out!
I danced in the rain, and got soaking wet hauling water from rain barrel to rain storage, ever grateful for the abundant supply of sweet, pure rainwater to drink.
I didn't run into any (live) rattlesnakes until the last day, when I was busy in my head, walking quickly, unaware, the insistent rattle and hiss of a coiled snake quickly brought me back to my body and awareness of my surroundings.
The silky softness of river water on my skin as I floated in the sun soothed a hot and sweaty back, and wind in the cottonwoods sang to me as I relished the respite.
I found that evening primrose infusion, simple and gentle, is one of the few herbs that really make a difference in my monthly menstrual cramps. Not very many things offer me much relief on the first day, other than adherence to a strict gluten free diet, and a regular regimen of mangesium, fish oil and Vit B6, and to find such a gentle, abundant and unobtrusive remedy to be so effective was such a blessing.
I am eternally grateful for the gifts of the Canyon at the Anima center, both the physical and the internal gifts of clarity, self awareness, confidence and knowing deeper what I want my life to be.
Now, back in the city, I caught a pint of rainwater to drink during last nights storm, taking each sip with gratitude for its sweetness, and I'm busy catching up with friends, clients and e mails, finishing up the processing of herbs and foods gathered while I was in NM. I've been roasting and cracking acorns, stripping leaves off the rose and primrose, drying fuzzy mullein leaves, storing wild mint and monarda in jars, and planning how to cook the gifts of wild meats, dried lambsquarters, beans, and other treats I was given by sweet, giving Loba as I left.
I am ever so grateful for my time away, with no one calling, no one to tell me how to fill my time and more appreciative now of my blessed home, full of love, friendship, and comfort, and hot running water!
I can't emphazise enough how much I encourage each and every one of you to get yourself to the Anima Center at some point to experience the gifts and lessons it has to offer. They offer numerous retreats and events throughout the summer months, and always offer internships, retreats and lessons via correspondence all year long. Get the hence my friends, and you too shall be filled with gifts such as these.