I’ve read the more you do psychedelics the harder it is to come back to the “real” world. This last mushroom trip has been the hardest to return from. I can't really explain the portal in which I entered, but I will try. My body felt huge, like the size of a mountain, or maybe one of the big sea stacks in Trinidad, like Grandmother Rock. I could hold everyone's feelings in this new container. It was like I was the keeper of all my loved ones' sadness and experiences - they chose me to camp out in and I met them with complete empathy and unconditional love. It wasn't a burden, in fact it was what I was put here for, I was built for this. And then you came to me, like a gust of warm wind sweeping through my body and landing in my heart. You were so sad though, your heavy lip trembled and your ambivalent eyes welled with tears. Your sadness had a shape and it swam around in my chest and then I started crying. I cried for a long time. These weren't just my tears, they were tears of all my loved ones and for the Earth. I was a conduit and it was all so beautiful and perfect and lonely. My compassion and understanding poured out of my eyes like a flood and everything was exactly how it was supposed to be. Nothing needed to change.
And now I am back here, trying to integrate my mushroom heart with my every day heart, as she advises, “And the nullifying, defeating, negating, repeating, joy of life.”
*Quoted is Joanna Newsom from Time as a Symptom
Kurt Cobain on Meditation
“Just before I fall asleep and when I am really bored…I lay down and think for a while until I fall into a semi-hypnotic state of subconsciousness, some call it day dreaming, some call it just fucking spacing out. But I feel like I am not here. Some call it thinking but when I’m in this particular state of mind I forget to think and it becomes strictly observatory. I notice things very sensitively, like if I focus really hard, I can see small transparent blotches of debris on the outer shell of my eyes (or the conjunctiva). And can only follow it as my eyes move downward, it’s like watching film footage of amoeba or jelly like plankton under a microscope. And when I close my eyes and look up at the sun the bright orange redness radiates an intense picture of blood cells, or what I think are blood cells. And they are moving very rapidly and again I can only focus for so long before my eyes strain and I have to look away from the sun and rub my eyes hard then I see tiny spheres of sparking light which some call them stars.”
"Building a Body of Light" statement
As she lay on the floor, somewhere in between this world and that one, she released control and let herself go. This was a signal to all the little people inside to take over. She was safe among this group of carefully selected individuals. They all took the Building a Body of Light mission very seriously. There was Louise, who religiously went to Nidra every Sunday. Dustin, who traveled to the desert to meet a lover in his dreams. Viola, who eats magic mushrooms to find her essence. And sweet June, who fasts to be closer to God, (though her faith makes her a joke). They all went off with the oratory prompts from their guide of what to do, and when they returned from their voyages, she would paint these stories
I've been thinking about God lately and when I first felt them. It was in Montana at Pictograph Cave outside Billings. It was a hot and sunny September day and I was painting ferociously to capture the light on this beautiful rocky cliff. And just like that, everything changed. An end of summer storm rushed in and the sky flickered between dark and bright. The storm winds whipped over my hungry skin and it’s then that I felt connected to nature and its magnificent mystery in the most deep and peaceful way.
My relationship to Seattle has changed so drastically over the past year. I walk around my neighborhood with plugged ears attempting to block out violent and jarring noises. I cry in the streets daily because I can’t find a moment of peace to land myself. I’m disconnected from what Montana showed me.
So off I go, back home where the Redwoods meet the mist - then down to the California deserts where my aliens are waiting for me.
That Psychic Love
Sometimes when I look at the moon and the desert flowers and the mountain shadows I think of you and wish upon those things, hoping you feel my wishes for you. And it doesn't even bother me that you might never think of me when you look at the rock daisies and feel a warm storm gust pass through your hands because I know that when I think of you it's just love passing through me, and that is big enough for me.
Live your Dharma!
I know a painter who had to be hospitalized due to lead poisoning from oil paints. He almost died from using cadmium red! That’s not how I am going to die, no, I am going to die in the elements, specifically with the giant Redwoods, the ones I married. I will die in a big storm, it might even be in the local paper, “Big Storm Wreaks Havoc on Locals, One Dead from Falling Redwood.” I will be squashed and dried out like an old lizard underneath a desert rock. Preserved. Then you can take my leathered corpse home and live with me and tell me things you were scared to before. Like the old man, Carl Tanzler, from Key West Florida who became obsessed with a young woman named Elena. When she died at 20 of tuberculosis his obsession deepened. He said that her spirit would come to him when he would sit by her grave and serenade her corpse with her favorite song. He also said that she told him to take her from the grave. Tanzler attached the corpse’s bones together with wire and coat hangers and filled the face with glass eyes. He replaced her decomposing skin with silk cloth soaked in wax. He put a wig on Elena as her hair fell out, dressed her remains in stockings, jewelry and gloves, and had sex with her dead body. The whole town didn’t mind, in fact they found it to be quite romantic priding themselves on taking in the rejects, outlaws and the riff-raff of society. But see, if the circumstances were more consensual, I wouldn’t mind if someone did this to me, in fact I’d request it. I have trinkets from past crushes sprinkled around my apartment and smell them sporadically to get a hit of romance when needed. The pages of that book you gave me are drenched in your sweat and incense. Once in high school I picked an old Now and Later wrapper from the trash that a crush threw away and held onto it for a year. Lockets of hair pass through my fingers like fast money trading between hopped-up bookies at a horse race. I used to be ashamed of this part of me, like I was this creepy pathetic witch who lived in her dreams and projections. But as my yoga teacher says, “Live your Dharma! Even if you do it poorly.” I am an observer and absorber, and sometimes that little obsessive creep witch.
You is the word for desert.
Me is the word for spirit.
It's inevitable, really. I'm sorry it took so long for me to realize it. The paintings have known for quite some time, but I am listening now.
A couple months ago I met two Australian guys, (or as they call themselves AustrALIENS), and they’ve been telling me a lot about Bigfoot, spirit highways, UFO’s, and coincidences. I’ve been telling them about our conversations too, mostly the ones about dreams. They get excited and want to name all of the phenomena that we experience, and sometimes it’s fun and interesting, but other times it’s annoying and feels like they are trying to tie every bow perfectly on the birthday present. I was telling them how paintings can be born and then die in a matter of seconds. But some don’t die, some are meant to creep outside our dreams and attempt to live in this world for a while. Sometimes they only live a few days, die, and then come back to me years later, and sometimes they never return and leave to a far-off place. The guys have a name for this place, but I can’t remember what it’s called, or maybe I don’t want to remember and want to keep it untied.
Into the Heat
The surface of the liver is soft and porous, and if held, can tear and shred due to its fragility. I won't fall apart if you hold me, even though my skin melts into the air and the air is absorbed into my skin. A swamp. That day the heat was so wet, holding as much water as my body. The line between flesh and air blurred as the humidity rose. Soon, our boundaries will be indistinguishable, like the liver, the edges not certain and always changing.
We Psychic Sleep
We sank to the bottom of the ocean, heavy as anchors, then floated to the sky, light as feathers. Light as a feather stiff as a board, light as a feather stiff as a board. That is the same in-between space that we have been going to every Sunday night, down the ramp where the Persian rugs welcome us to rest so that Bluebirds can fly out of our throats, sunflowers grow from our stomachs, and waves crash in our hips. And it's the place that always plays that song, "do you believe in magic, in a young girl’s heart?"
Best Friends at Houda Point
The sleepy sky hung low and grey when the two friends reunited for the first time since the accident. The woman had driven 11 hours, dodged ancient redwoods on the dark windy road, to behold and embrace her friend’s new shape. See, last year the old Cypress was struck by lightning during the big storm and had to have one of her arms amputated.
The tree leaned over a cliff above the local surf beach and for over 20 years the two friends had spent hours sitting quietly together watching the little bodies bop up and down in the waves below. They would look at the surfers swarm the parking lot when the tide changed, suit up in the open doors of their pickups, and scurry down the rocky stairs to the little cove beneath. The woman would tell her friend how surfing is just like painting; most of the time you don’t get it, but once in a while you do, and it feels really good when you do.
On the day of the big homecoming, the woman approached her friend, at first cautiously, and then ferociously. As soon as they hugged, the sky let out a big yawn and turned cobalt blue, like God was above, a puppeteer, with light on their strings. The woman had always felt more connected to her friend than to most others. She was an outcast, and the birds, waves, and trees had always taken her in when no one else did. The Cypress was not just a playmate for the day, but was part of who she was. A best friend.
It started so hopeful, I was smug with love, "my man and me," hummed from my lips as I walked down the streets, my chest a little closer to the sun. Years later I'm left with the faint echo of that song, la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
It's always playing in the kitchen, in the heart, and as I move around the house, the song changes. In each room it sounds different, but even when I am outside on the front porch having a coffee, I can still hear it, la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Today I cried for hours. Yes, some of those moments were for missing you and re-reading our story, but most of it was about her.
She picked dandruff from my hair like an adoring Howler and bundled me in blankets by the fire made by her perfectly crafted hands. She told me she loved me and that I was her lifer. I cried into the flames trying to hear and accept love, to receive this gift. I kissed her black lips hoping some of the ink would mark me ‘hers’ into the night.
Long past the sun’s set, she took me to the desert the only way she knew how; through a painting. I walked around the gallery and all the paintings were of large canyons, dried grass, and gaping skies. I stepped into the biggest one and the vast purple night held my hand and whispered, follow me. Cobalt blue and cadmium red wrapped around my fingers and led me to a cave and before I could even settle my eyes on her scale I was swept up by a giant eagle. I wrapped my arms around her soft feathered waist and took off leaving a dust storm in our path. Up in the sky, I could feel it all: the yellow earth, pink voluptuous canyons, and the smell of stale flowering sage preparing to die.
Ahead in the distance I could see dark green…life! As we approached, it looked like a collage where someone cutout a “tropical paradise” picture from a travel magazine and glued it to Death’s Valley. She started to descend and the smell changed to a familiar wet bark, much like the fog soaked Redwoods I grew up in. I roamed this paradise but felt I didn’t belong. Sexy ripe fruits tempted and flirted while pools of holy water gathered in pitcher plants. Was this the love I had been pushing away my whole life? It was so plentiful, obvious, and easy, it wasn't a struggle like the desert. Suddenly I felt the need to throw up and asked the eagle to take me home. Maybe I’ll visit paradise again but paint it with my own colors – my warm desert colors.
One afternoon, the light was coming through my window and usually I’m not home to see this light so it felt like a God send. This light was devastating - he was warm, glowing, and made everything in my apartment feel sacred and special and the memory of what that moment felt like is seared into my body. I was laying on my bed in complete silence as the burning light crept across my hips, and now he's on the books, oh then onto my hand. My little hand. Holding hands was a bold but wise choice, it reminded me of when we held hands on our way to buy oysters one afternoon. Kumamoto, Kumamoto, Kumamoto. Say it right, Sara, don’t embarrass yourself in front of the seafood guy. I remember you being so bright and funny that day, full of light. You were tapping your fingers, patiently, waiting for me to finish my painting. The painting of me in your studio. The painting of me among your precious things. Your rug - that was really hard to paint! The painting of the torrid light. I think the same light came to visit me that afternoon I was on my bed. Come to think of it, both times the clock read 3:05 PM. Or maybe he was an ancestor of that light. Ancient light.
The Female Search for Love
“When is the last time you got laid?” “You look good, fresh, did you get laid recently?” “Don’t you just wanna get laid?” “I would go crazy if I went more than a couple weeks without sex, I don’t know how you do it!” “What’s wrong with you!?”
I just finished bell hook’s Communion: The Female Search for Love. She says, “As women increasingly develop their awareness and consciousness and to the extent that men resist doing the same, a sociological situation will prevail where many women will in fact not be able to find men of their caliber and consciousness with whom to share their lives…Many women are finding celibacy a better alternative than being victimized in abusive relationships.”
“The best kind of sex, the sex in which there is the least amount of pretense – the most gratifying and satisfying sex – is the sex you do with the person in your life with whom you are the most open with.”
Sometimes that person is yourself.
First Stage Old Soul
When I was a kid my mom had one of her spiritual mentors, Jose, do a soul reading on me to see how old my soul is. There are five phases of the soul: Infant to Old. Within each phase there are 7 stages. I am First Stage Old Soul. The Infant Soul learns about physical existence, life and death, and a need for nurturing. The Baby/Child Soul learns about culture and community, a need for structure, and belonging. The Young Soul is learning free will, self-determination, and taking charge of one’s own destiny. The Mature Soul is learning co-existence, taking responsibility for relationships, and honoring differences and otherness. Lastly, the Old Soul is searching for balance and completion. The soul will focus on true self-expression and self-actualization.
Most of the time I only use this information as an ego boost. But once in a while weird witchy stuff will happen to me which makes me feel something ancient and deep is looking over me. Like just now, I was painting, trying to think of a title for this big piece I’m working on. I started writing down name ideas and was about to write this one down but actually wrote something entirely different down. This new name that came from a primordial-space-land was perfect, and unfamiliar. It made the whole painting make sense and made it about something I didn’t even know it was about.
A bird just shit in my hair while I was on my way to the dentist. I feel this is a psychological test (considering the last time I went to the dentist a few weeks ago I sat in someone’s urine on the light rail.) Or maybe it’s karma, I live in the Karma House, after all. Maybe it’s karma for purposefully sitting next to a dude man-spreading all over the train. I sat next to him, fists up while muttering, “I’m gonna get this guy.” He looked at me in disgust as I squirmed and stretched out trying to assert my space while knocking knees. Maybe it was the lady upstairs saying, “yo Sara, chill the fuck out and stop wasting that precious female energy on this dud.”
Who cares why shit and piss follow me…the dentist chair has been transformed from a torture chamber to a place for meditations.
I’ve decided to step away from Tarot for a bit, I had to. I am gullible, a believer, a child with big eyes. Over the summer, I lived in my dreams, my projected fantasies, my daily tea leaf readings. I felt unstoppable and heroic for abandoning the mundane realities of waking life. I walked through the streets smug with a smirk on my face that read, “oh you poor mortals trudging through the shit sludge of daily life!” But that shit sludge is life. It is the various markers on how I plan my day. Without a plan for the day I have nothing. Getting excited for what you know will happen and know how you’ll feel is a real gift. I know more or less how I’ll feel when I paint. I’ll get ecstatic, insecure, anxious, guilty, optimistic and on and on. Making a plan for myself to feel these feelings is, “winning one’s own way.” The Chariot.
“The Chariot represents groundedness and the ability to accomplish tasks on the physical plane. It also traditionally symbolizes a victory of self-discipline. This control is not prohibitive and stiff, like the Emperor, but involves bringing unconscious contents to the surface of consciousness for the purpose of accomplishment. She is not the mother, but the daughter in character, 'not a goddess of procreation but of creation...the worker, the maker, and as such connected to soul, to soul-work.' You are the one who confronts monsters and turns them into allies.” -Motherpeace Tarot
Yesterday I was working on a painting and just feeling blah, it wasn't exciting to me. I literally yawned every time I looked at it. I started thinking about how you were telling me Agnes Martin waits to be inspired to paint. Then I was in bed thinking of that process: of painting, waiting to be inspired, feeling frustrated with the wait (oh the wait!), trying to keep busy during the wait, and some of that "busy" is making shitty paintings that break you down and make you feel so small and insecure and like you know nothing in this world.
I was laying in bed with all these thoughts and the moonlight was coming in through the window. It was a nice moment of stillness. And all the frustration and disappointment and all highs and euphoria with painting led me right here. Where I can lay in bed bathed in moonlight and think about how the cold blue light makes the plants come alive with their shadows on the wall. And how my skin color melts into the cobalt sheets. This moment was my painting and it was in my head and that felt really nice.