Can you feel the shift into Fall? I have just returned to Oregon after some time in the South of France, and it feels very real over here. The mornings are gloomy and I've had to pull my cardigans and sweaters out of storage. The bedroom windows are staying closed every few nights, when the temperature drops. Bluejay has been visiting the bird feeder and the wasps that swarmed us in the summer are now nowhere to be seen. This is a time of further descending into the shorter days of year, the cloak of fall helping us take stock and reflect 🍂
And reflect is what I intend to do with this letter. Because, what really remains for me as summer fades away? Truth is, this summer has been a really big season.
Earlier this year - in March to be precise, I applied for a Vision Quest with Animas Valley Institute, an organization that I highly respect and that Alasdair had just done a Vision Quest with. And I don't know if it's because Alasdair had just gone to his, or I had just applied to mine but right after that our life began to unravel in whole new ways. We ended up moving twice in the summer and have actually found a home so dreamy I never even imagined it could be possible — and in all honesty, I’m still struggling to relax into it.
What if this is just a dream?
I need to stay on guard.
Things could not be that easy.
if you've listened to Alasdair and I's podcast at any point, you'll know that unravelling has felt like an ever present companion for the last 3 years. Sometimes I think it's personal. And sometimes I'm reminded that it's probably collective too — after all we all remember the crack in reality that occurred in 2020. Like 9/11, it feels like one of those times in history from which we never really come back. The normal of before never totally comes back. And that's okay. We go forward. That's been true in my life many times too.
Moments of rupture, fractures, cracks, tears in the fabric of life.
Times that mark the shift from before to after, ushering in the new, sometimes without our consent.
Words uttered, actions taken — and poof, it’s a whole new paradigm.
These past few months, I've been reflecting, feeling, dreaming, walking and sitting with one of those fractures my life, taking place during my childhood. It's really fucking tender, and I've reconnected with aspects of myself that were utterly buried — and yet had been in the driver's seat for most of my life. After years of sitting in and with all the variations of anger, I've opened up the grief box. More like the grief ocean. The unfelt grief carried over a lifetime has been ebbing and flowing, crashing on the shores of my being in giant foamy waves.
Am I drowning? Or is this rebirth?
After months and months of being lost at sea — or found, perhaps — I have come to deeply appreciate the feeling of my heart cracking open to let the flow of grief move through. I’ve come to see and feel heartbreak as the medicine the world needs.
There is tremendous joy in feeling our hearts breaking, wide, wide open. What’s been locked up for so long, finally can flow. Oh, the relief! Come on, sweet raging waters of grief, open me wide so I can let the truth of each moment, of life, hit me right in the heart.
I ended up being accepted to this all women's Vision Quest and felt like Life was leaving me no choice but to say yes. I was terrified to say yes because I knew I was signing up for something big.
I'm leaving in less than 2 weeks. And I can feel pieces of me dissolving. Pieces of me I always thought were "me" but turn out to have been merely aspects of me. It feels like my internal life is dezooming, defocusing. It's both exhilarating and terrifying.
The guides of the quest invite participants to prepare as though they are going to die, putting their affairs in order, clearing out their desk. I went to France with this intention, to visit my family and close out the loops that needed closing. I looked through memories, childhood diaries, pictures. I dreamt, I had conversations with family members. Tracking pieces of me.
Since I've been back and as I prepare to leave for this Quest, I'm noticing these threads, pieces and fragments of my life, seemingly disconnected, finally connecting, integrating into a bigger story. And it feels like this story I've been living, this large part of who I am, is getting ready. Preparing herself to be laid to rest after 25 years of loyal and faithful services. I can feel she will always be a part of me, but that her time at the forefront might be coming to an end. This part I thought was me, was just one small part of me.
Oh, what grief I feel in writing this one sentence! Like the small Russian doll who forgot she belonged to a grander whole, I am weeping for the years spent in a smaller part of myself, and of my life. And alongside this, I am crying tears of gratitude, for the brave, brave work of this smaller part who carried me to here, with her tools and her strategies — her best attempts at protecting me and keeping me safe so I could develop and grow to now.
Who is the one I was?
How do I let this longing move through me?
Who am I becoming?
What is emerging?
Where is this taking me?
How do I live the questions that life is asking through me?
So, does it feel like my identity is dissolving before my eyes? Yes. As you can imagine, it is not the most comfortable experience.
I'm beyond grateful for all the wholing work I have done, for all my relations with the Earth and the more-than-human world to help me through this transition and keep me grounded, here, an Earthling undergoing the changes she needs to. I'm grateful for the countless, endless hours spent in the psychedelic realms, practicing the skills of humaning in expanded states of consciousness. I’m grateful to be able to show up in wholeness, and to respect, honor, tend to and love the wounded parts from a place of integrity — most of the time.
During this season, Wild Within has launched and almost sold out the most epic retreat we've ever announced. 8 days in Guatemala, to plunge Into the Heart. Into our own hearts. Into the heart of the world, the Earth and the Cosmos. I can feel the warriors of the heart being awakened, opening up to their heartbreaks. The mycelium threads are being woven around this program and the energetic grid is already forming. Those who are already in are, I am sure, feeling into their own journeys, what in them is unravelling, dissolving.
This is not your average mushroom retreat. This is not the ceremony factories that are popping up overseas to cater to the curiosity of Westerners. This is Kelly Ann, Alasdair and I, wearing our hearts on our sleeves, opening up to the profound Mystery that continues to work through us. This is reverent and honest, done with care and patience, with years of study and practice and the layers of support of our adoptive lineage and all our relations. We are not perfect nor are we promising anything, except that we are wholeheartedly committed to doing the tender work of inhabiting our hearts and remembering how we belong to the heart of the Earth & how to walk this Life with beauty.
We only have 2 spots left for Guatemala: Into the Heart. If you've been wanting to join us, I personally invite you to the take the plunge... Into the Heart.
I'll talk to you on the other side, fellow journeyer and until then,
Stay Wild ❤️
"Quiet your ego, make humility and acceptance your primary goals, and move forward like a fox walking on ice: cautiously, deliberately, and gently. By persevering in what is true and good you build the foundation upon which good fortune can come to rest"
The I Ching translated by Brian Browne Walker
Hexagram 64 ~ "Wei Chi/ Before Completion"