Sunday, November 30, 2014

Surrender to Love

The children and I walked for a long time today. The first proper walk since our migratory return to the Winter Grounds as we have been focused and busy making our home. We have only been here for a handful of days yet if feels like forever.

We set out, with no clear plan or route in mind. Slowly we walked together and I found myself entering into a bit of an altered state. It was the swing that took me there. Or rather the sounds of laughter that came from that bit of rope tied to that old oak where the hillside is worn down from the countless little feet dragging as bodies thrust into the air. The echoes were familiar as they traveled through the small valley and were held by the trees.

We carried on, gathering around the still standing May Pole. I could hear the singing and feel the dancing that was woven into those faded colors of cloth wrapped around the towering pole. Village life was full in those days and I love dearly the people I have lived with on this hillside. 

I began to understand a quality and reason for this walk that I was unaware of when we first began. A quality of healing, of coming full circle, of honoring a process. Perhaps the beginning of a walking ceremony of completion, of death, of transformation. Perhaps it would help to release the dancing woven ribbons of the May Pole to the fire and to open all the hearths to the east. Release.

We continued on, making our way past the many mounds made with muscle, sweat, shovels, pick axes. Where lodges once stood and where people we love once dwelled. We were walking amidst the ruins of a once thriving tipi village. 

Gently, sadness flows through me and out my eyes back into this hillside.

The stories and feelings of this place, of this journey, grew, exponentially as the children shared their own as we walked, giving me a small glimpse into their wild and free relationship with their place. 

We ate rose hips as we searched along the dry creek bed for treasures of tumbled stone. It was the sound of muffled singing and drumming from a distant past that brought us to stand at the bones of an old sweat lodge. A place where together we entered the womb of the mother and prayed. I could feel its' warmth somehow although it was damp, the hearth overgrown with moss and my breath steaming as I exhaled. Outside of myself are the cold remains of tribal life. Inside are the stories of connection, life, love.

We gathered herbs to bring home for tea. Our quiet walking on the leafy path joined us with a buck who turned and came toward us with a relaxed confidence. For a brief moment I thought I was a deer, perhaps a doe, for we seemed so comfortable together. 

With chilled hands in our pockets we uncovered with our boots the old rock-tiled platform and hearth built for the horse trough bath tub. Such luxury to bath in the snow by the creek!

A dense, dry standing dead oak revealed itself. The kids and I wrestled with it for awhile. Now it brings warmth and light to our home. 

We continued on, following the faded network of paths formed overtime as hearts and hearths connected; traveling bodies moving through life in similar ways. Gathering wood. Fetching water. Having a poo, visiting a neighbor, having a bath, playing, joining, celebrating, arguing.

A web of shared life shimmering with texture.

The sound of the first lodge to rise with the chopping of wood or the crying of a child. 

In the evenings, hunkering down for the long nights journey away from the sun and one by one the glowing lanterns of homes across the hillside fading out. 

The sounds of children being born; a father announcing the arrival with the blowing of the conch.

The bright colors of village children in costume for a beating-of-the-bounds parade or a Spring Equinox play. 

The long, long nights on vigil hill; bodies bundled from the wet and cold while waiting for the return of the sun. 

The sacred communing and mind melding of the talking stick, spiraling around and around, sometimes till morning.

The big lodge and all the diverse realities it accommodated.

It's only our one family lodge standing here now, glowing in the night.

There are so many reasons, known and unknown, for the dispersal of lives. It was the sheriffs arrival at the Summer Grounds in September, on the behalf of the land "owner", coming to remove us that broke the last of this shimmering web.

Spider shows us that webs are alive. They ebb and flow, break and mend at the whim of the elements. To be strong, they are continually re-made. Sometimes daily. 

We have returned to the Winter Grounds although the new land "owners" have asked us not to. For this struggle and lack of consensus between us I am sorry. I love them and see myself in them. Respectfully, our family answers to the earth. It is her with whom we give our authority. I pray that we all remember this power.

We needed to return here to be able to feel and to heal. A circle completing and never ending. 
It is a deep blessing.
May we continue to walk with gratitude for where we have been, where we are now and where we are going. I remember, yet again, that the process and journey through life is all we have. May we cherish it.

To all the lives who lived on this hillside, I love you. Deeply. You are in me. It was an honor to share life with you in this way and has made my life more whole. 

To the life before me now, this land, these trees, this water, thank you for opening. Thank you for receiving the lives from my womb made by the love of two bodies united under your moon. Thank you for weaving me and my family into you and you into us. And thank you to the previous land "owner", who preferred to call himself a steward, for being a part of the openness here. 

To the people who have recently arrived here as the new land "owners", please be good to her. Take care of her and listen to her. May you be taken in and held as we were by her fierce and gentle embrace. 

And to the unknown path ahead of us, may we walk it with open arms and curious minds. May the love that opened to us here in this place give us the strength and power to move forward on dancing feet. 


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dispatches from the Trenches

Stepping out for a pee into the night strong wind rain tall trees. Push the smoke flaps over come back in to smoky embers remedied by a hand full of dry manzanita and oak twigs. The rest of the family sleeps barely audible sighs over the rain caressing the cover. No lining or ozan yet; moving lightly in our lodge.
The Big Lodge blew down last new moon in some heavy wind on Soda Mountain. It didn't just blow down, it kind of exploded. It was really well staked around the cover and the tripod was buried 12-18 inches. We were staying in there and went to bed trepidatiously, poles flexing from the onslaught of the wind but standing strong and tight. Little sleep and then sometime around four the cover started tearing on the leeward side. It was a 27' tipi and liked to catch the wind. At this point we roused the children and got out, more tearing as the fabric gave way at the peg loops. Kayla and the kids headed away towards the van, trees crashing, I stayed rolling up bedrolls as the whole structure becomes more and more unstable, wind more and more intense and I find myself in the doorway as reality begins to lean and shift then white canvas passing my face, poles knocking, looking up to see a clear, moonless sky, Orion trailing his dog and away to the left shreds of canvas, still firmly staked, and a pile of articulated poles, fallen, discovered for the first time, ancient bones uncovered by the elements.This was Clear Guidance and we took refuge in town for a few days while we cleaned up the aftermath of the Big Lodge and pitched our family lodge...somewhere else.

The Big Lodge is no more, at least for now, and it's both saddening and a relief. The whole concept and reality of Tipi Village is an unanswered question and this is a time of radical restructuring on many levels. Most welcome. Right now we are one family in the woods and the rain is getting heavier. We get to rise to the circumstance of living and always give thanks.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Geese giggle overhead longing for winter grounds land slipping away below. We slip away together.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Skunk Medicine

Occasionally a skunk might come into our tipi, at night, when we're all in bed. He'll sniff around the food box, maybe rummage in the trash and generally have a good nose around. He'll have free reign around the lodge; an uncomfortable and formidable, (though dynamic and welcome) guest, even known as good pets. Any attempt to shoo or evict a skunk would be folly, even were one not in one's home. Left be, skunks are a rich part of the fauna of embedded place. A benefit to a diverse ecosystem with powerful medicine. When harassed or threatened, their defensive spray can be so intense as to cause temporary blindness and lasting discomfort.

It has been a little over a week since our second visit from the deputies. We had moved, since eviction, deeper into the woods, onto land within the same region but beyond the assumed imaginary boundaries of the Dominant Paradigm. It turned out, according to the real estate agent's GPS(who happened to show up shortly after the deputies' arrival), that we had pitched our lodges on the 'wrong' side of that imaginary line drawn over a map of the wilderness, by a couple of hundred feet.
The deputies recognised our blunder as a good faith attempt to comply and gave us until Monday to 'rectify the mistake'.

"Is that fair?" asked deputy Mc.Kay. In one sense, yes, of course, we've made a mistake, we're on the wrong side of that line on that map. My mouth however, which sometimes, with an emboldened doubt, like stretching fresh wings, said (something like),"No, that's not fair. This place we call home, our children are born and grow here. The folds of this place, we know intimately, as the folds of a lover. You men with guns and tasers walk all the way up the hill here, well out of your way, into the wilderness, to displace us, so that this land can be sold to conservation and exclude these representatives of a keystone species." (the reality of what actually came out was probably more clumsy).

"Well let me say it like this, on Monday I'm coming back and I'll arrest every adult still here and place your children with Child Services."

I have a lot of respect, on the whole, for the deputies. We've had some good dialogue over the past week. They are charged with executing a court order and they seem to understand the absurdity of the whole situation; families living wholesomely on vacant land in the middle of nowhere, not only doing no harm but bringing great benefit to the immediate ecology. They, in this instance, being agents for the powerless wealthy. An executor of an estate of thousands of acres, living in Montana and an LA business man connected with the Hearst Foundation.

During the intervening days the Big Lodge was moved to Public Land and the village was cleared all except for our family lodge, remaining on the 'wrong' side of that line. The children went to stay at their Nana's. Monday morning came and some people showed up in support. Kayla made herself comfortable in the crown of our lodge and the sheriff's deputies arrived, walking up the hill. They stayed for a while, appearing a little bemused and more perplexed, not expecting to see my glorious wife high in the crown, with a sign,"we belong to the earth", peacefully not only refusing to come down and be displaced, but giving the deputies some heartfelt conversation. Mostly I felt like crying during that time and I missed the children being witness to such living. The deputies left not needing to arrest anyone, Kayla came down and we took off for Medford seeking legal help. We heard that the deputies had come back again whilst we were gone. They have a fleet of four or six vehicles, two pulling trailers carrying ATVs. Combined there has probably been more spent on evicting my family from the wilderness than we earn in a year. We're talking tens of thousands of dollars. They came again the next day and we were gone again. The day after that the deputies and I met on the driveway. They told me they were coming to take our family lodge. I was amused to imagine them dragging the whole thing down the hill on their backs but it turned out they were coming only for the cover. They strongly asked me to accompany them but I declined as we were on our way to the courthouse to file a lawsuit. And anyway we have plenty of tipis and can make more. The lawsuit is so that we can have the right to 'buy' the place we call home. We came home, late, hungry and tired in the rain to find out the Big Lodge had blown over. Along with the deputies taking our home we had no shelter so we repitched the wet Big Lodge and made dinner and dried our bedding as best we could. Thankfully the deputies had helped and brought a couple of bags of our belongings to the Big Lodge. There was an idea to ask Bob and Suzi Given for shelter that night as it is their contingencies of purchase that are forcing Steve Mosby to evict us. They've stopped cmmunicating with us and refuse to consider our tenure, insisting that they will sell the land to the government. Many in the surrounding Greensprings community say that the Givens want to have Soda Mountain to themselves. I, personally, don't think they are so selfish. I think they have an old school idea of conservation which cannot accept humans as a part of the ecology. What is clear is that if we are to do anything about environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity then it is essential that we re-intergrate ourselves, our nature, as a part of a whole, Gaia.

So a couple of days ago we were heading to Central Point to collect our tipi cover and we met the other hostile neighbour, Jonathan Paul, outside of his house on Soda Mountain Road. There was some exchange of words and tensions grew along with aggression. He had a 'badass' gangsta-leaning little friend with him also heckling, telling us to leave and trying to intimidate. So we drove out to Central Point to the sherrifs, picked up our tipi and had more friendly interaction. Some hours and $20 in gas later we're home again and Jonathan Paul turns up again as we're collecting a set of poles from the 'wrong' side of that imaginary line (the sherrifs told us we could). More aggro posturing , whining and complaining (really- do you people have nothing better to do?) and Jonathan leaves telling us he's tattle telling the sheriff. So the next day we get a chance to engage on the front line of the Dominant Paradigm, again, and the deputies go and walk all the way up the hill, again, to discover that they had bad information.

You're probably reading this, JP and I'm probably going to hear about it from you. I'm communicating the story, from my perspective as it unfolds and you are woven in to it. I still don't know why we're opposed or why you're so much involved other than you've taken your friends Bob and Suzi's story. I can tell you that attempts at bullying and intimidation, even if you're acting at Bob and Suzi's request, will only serve to make us more resolute.

The last time Bob and Suzi Given's names were mentioned in this blog I was threatened, by Bob, with a defamation lawsuit (hey, that's how rich people communicate in the US of A!). It got Bob to speak from his Ivory Tower and I heard his and Suzi's discomfort at feeling dragged in front of their community against their will. With compassion (I have no assets to lose in a lawsuit) their names were removed from the open letter I wrote to them. Bob and Suzi Given,you can continue to pull strings to send men with guns and uniforms, men without guns claiming to be 'security', have big, ugly yellow gates installed and locked, and generally harrass, intimidate and try to get your own way by whatever means you deem appropriate, but understand that the world will know. Your actions lack any morality and even the most basic human decency, not to mention neighbourlyness. I have only ever been friendly and amicable with you and, even still, I enjoy our interactions, though sparse. I have the power of communication and I will continue to use it. Even when you come around and we get to a point of consensus; I will communicate that. If only you knew how much I long for some resolution with you! And before you freak out about the horror of your names being public, now, consider that I'm not dragging you from your home into the rain, telling you to leave and giving you and your children nowhere to go.
My children have a right to be able to live and grow where they are born. There is no right to buy and sell the earth for private gain. We belong to the earth!
Stop all of this waste and expense, circle with us and find a mutually amicable way forward together.


An Open Letter to Jonathan Paul, another involved distant neighbor

More sharing of the process here.....

Dear JonathanPaul,

I appreciate the decency (although minimal) you have to come to us directly for communication, however, it's ironic that I feel safer perched in the crown of my tipi over six men with guns, tazers, mace and handcuffs than I do talking on level ground with you. I continue to be baffled as to what your issue might be with my family and Tipi Village being on this mountain and I get a sense that you may not even know. Can you spell it out for me very clearly so that things can begin to be properly addressed (sans yelling)? I am not interested in aggressive threats towards my family from you or your friends anymore. Enough.

It was Friday (a few days ago) when you came to "check" on us while we were loading the last of our things (with the sheriffs permission none-the-less) from the land we have been evicted from. You smugly took a picture and informed us that you'd be telling the authorities. Well the sheriffs paid our family yet another visit the following day. In retrospect, it probably helped our cause having them see that we are honest and that there are neighbors attempting to sabotage. They said the complaint that was filed was a 'bad call'. So I guess I can say thanks for that. 

Although recent encounters between us have been on the nasty side, I have gotten glimpses of our commonality. I can imagine a day when we have a good, robust and respectful argument with the many valid perspectives all around. 

I heard you say that I should find another cause to sit in the crown of my lodge for, another way to spend my time. What other cause would that be? Animal rights? No GMO's? Climate Change? Yes, these are worthwhile causes and are also all symptoms of the dominant paradigm; the one that is currently pushing my family and community around. There is a pattern repeating itself here, one that is rooted in white-settler land-ownership consciousness. How did you get to 'own' your 'property' in the first place? Consider what it is embedded in. You shout for us to leave the mountain. How have we offended you so? The only time we enter your space is when driving by your house and cameras on our weekly trip to town. The less savory parts of myself are tempted to speed on by, ignoring the 'slow down' signs and your wish for no dust, but I resist. I'll stretch myself for the sake of neighborly respect, giving what I wish to receive. If I may be so arrogant as to advise you on something, how about finding something else to do with your time besides passive aggressively pushing and threatening families who are living a quiet, simple and direct life in the woods? 

The mainstream paradigm has no regard for future generations. It is completely absorbed in itself. I will not feed my children to it! I will instead lead a way that I believe to be wholesome. A way that regards all our relations, including unborn ones. A new old culture is emerging through people all around the world. What a time to be alive! If peacefully resisting eviction by living in the top of my lodge can help this movement in any way, although small, it's a worthwhile cause. While seated up there, a sheriff asked me what kind of example I thought I was being for my children in not obeying the authorities. I felt a gentle smile emerge and then reminded him (and myself) that the highest authority is Mother Earth. She's in charge and continues beneath our feet. We belong to her, not the other way around. The most power we can have is in our ability to adapt to her and dance with her seasons. Anything else is an attempt to control the outside world, which is futile. 

Jonathan, it is your birthright to have a place on the earth, to build a nest as the bird does. There is no arguing that. Every human has that right. There is enough space on this mountain to share. Contrary to the mainstream 'conservationist' thought, humans are actually an integral part of the natural world. We are living in a time where we humans must find a way (by remembering the old ways) to live in harmony with the remaining wild places. A healthy bio-diversity is dependent on keystone species. Humans are just that!

The mainstream way is one of isolation and separation. We all know this. It does not live as tribes or bands any longer. It lacks an understanding that we are woven together and have a responsibility to each other and the future. I understand you do not have children of your own. But as folk who live within a few miles of each other out in the woods, you do. They live here with us. And they could use your help in assuring their future is imbued with a culture of regard, of empowerment through direct living, of songs and stories that are grounded in a place. You have a part in this story. Which role would you like to play? 

In love,

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another Open Letter to Bob and Suzi Given, our distant neighbors

Here is one of the latest of many letters written a few days ago to our neighbors. They are in escrow to buy the land we have called home for seven summers now with the intention to pass it onto the government. This letter has gone unanswered along with the others. It is our hope that through sharing these letters and stories with a wider community (the public) the parties involved will be motivated to act with integrity and accountability. Please Bob and Suzi, talk to us. We are here on the mountain with you. Let us sit in a circle on the ground we all love and find some consensus. 

Dear Bob and Suzi,

Today the sheriffs confiscated our family's shelter. We returned home just before dark with hungry and tired children to find our clothes, rugs and beds in an open meadow wet with the rain that comes and goes as I write. I had the thought to drive to your place and ask you to accommodate us tonight, seeing as you have had a role in our displacement. We don't have a dryer. We have the sun, which is shining on the other side of the earth right now. 

I heard recently (from an attorney) that the law is designed to protect the interests of the rich; it isn't moral, fair or just. 
Carl Jung spoke about money representing non-feeling. I find that without much money, we are vulnerable, raw and trusting and thus comes the inspiration to dive deeply into the richness of life and its' many challenges. It benefits me to take good care of relationships, knowing that this is all I have at the end of the day. Excess money seems to confine and shelter one from the soul's tendency towards deep empathy. 

The amount of money that you and I have seems to be our main difference and I pray that this does not come between our heart's capacity to love and respect one another as well as our ability to communicate directly! 

Bob and Suzi, you both have said several times that you respect me. Today I am baffled by the contradiction of your words and your actions. Ande and I have extended ourselves to you many times only to be hung up on, ignored or avoided. Somehow you have absolved yourselves of any responsibility with the current plight of our family and small community. You are as culpable as Steve for sending men with guns to remove us as well as installing gates on the driveway to lock us out of our home. I have learned that both of these are your contingencies for the purchasing of this land. So it seems Steve is doing your dirty work. The only way to get direct communication from you is to literally follow you around at a festival begging for it, or write an open letter. Tell me, is this respect?

Standing in the meadow this evening was yet another opportunity to rise and meet life's call to empowerment. Dire and epic seem to go together these days. We continue to do what we can. Living intimately with the natural forces of our earth mother gives us a strength far greater than any attorney, court, bank account balance or land deed can ever give. 

We are still here. 

May we all find the strength and courage to continue an honest dialogue. I hope that together we can find a way forward that is good for everyone. 


Thursday, September 18, 2014

'Rural' Disobedience and The Song of the Diggers

It's a well known English traditional folk song, published here as it's pertinent to Tipi Village at the moment and we've been singing it for the past week or so.

There's been a lot going on what with sheriffs and all and we'll post an update when there's time. Mother Earth endures and we belong here!

Love from Ande

In sixteen forty nine
To St. George's hill
A gallant band they called The Diggers
Came to show the people's will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs.

"We come in peace" they said
"To dig and sew
We come to work the land in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
That it may be a common treasury for all."

"The sin of property
We do disdain
No one has any right to buy or sell the earth
For private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls spring up at their command."

"They make the laws
They chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The gods they serve
The god of greed who feeds the rich
While poor folk starve".

"We work, we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Nor pay rent to the lords
We are free, though we are poor
You diggers all stand up for glory, stand up now!"

From the men of property
The order came
They sent the hired man and the trooper
To wipe out the digger's claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed but still the vision lingers on.

You poor take courage!
You rich take care!
This earth was born a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
"We come in peace"
But the order came to cut them down

"We come in peace" they said
"To dig and sew
We come to work the land in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
That it may be a common treasury for all".


Friday, September 5, 2014

Mother Earth Continues Beneath our Feet

Version one of an incomplete essay written on the evening of Wednesday the third of September after meeting the sheriff's deputies:

Today the deputy sheriffs came to evict us. Hostile neighbours and land 'owners', you can be proud of yourselves for empowering the Dominant Paradigm. For attempting to displace our children from their place of birth, from the land that they love, we love. The struggle is tenuous right now and we're not (yet?) Conservation Refugees. We belong to the Earth and our connection endures. We are old and strong and we know that we are all a keystone species, like the wolves of Yellowstone.
You 'conservationists' who live in your air conditioned central heated buildings, who think that 'nature' is something seperate, external, understand that human nature is 'nature' and there is simply no getting away from it.

This is no right wing libertarian entitlement to exploit and plunder our mother; this is people living as Homo Sapiens Sapiens and we're happy to get along with you Homo Urbanus; we can complement each other and I'm not to tell you how to live but perhaps when you say you respect and even admire the way that I live, you could be kind enough to walk that talk and at least stop harassing us; it's getting old and we are here, always have been and always will be so you'd best get used to it.
My children are probably about the seventh generation  since the slaying and displacement of the small bands of families who once roamed these mountains before the settler consciousness of ownership arrived. To the descendants of settlers and the supporters of this Dominant Paradigm; I am sorry, you have been told and sold a lie and the life of servitude you have given to your mortgage (mort- death + gage- grip) has only ever been for the profit of the greedy. There is more than enough of this abundant world for everyone and paying for a place on her is detrimental because it separates us from our responsibility and our accountability to her, through the intercession of any landlord, bank or entity which says 'this is the way you are to live, regardless of personal mores and morals'

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Always have been; always will be.

Version two, with more about the people and events of that day, two days ago:

Today the sheriff's deputies came and evicted us from the wilderness, even though we'd already moved beyond the imaginary boundaries imposed by the Dominant Paradigm (we were coming back for tidy up).

So we all danced together, with the sheriffs and private detective, we circled and sang together and tears were shed and we made some strong memories and new (old) stories to share on this land, this same earth.

I can only be, ultimately, grateful for the experience and the continuing process of the gift of living and the place I now find myself, in the Big Lodge, candle around the hearth children gently snoring on that ground under the sky.

Mother Earth endures, old and strong, beneath my feet, under my backside, sat cross-legged.

We are not Conservation Refugees.

My children are not displaced from their place of birth.

We are here and connected. Always have been, always will be.

Get used to it.

(And be welcome)