travel log

glastonbury – sex, magic, clowns

Whirlwind. The winter days have pushed me decidedly off balance, snatching away home, job, money, health, and sniggering while i groaned and sweated and stretched on tiptoe, trying to snatch them back. i feel like i’ve been running around like a headless chicken, getting painted, sketched, crippled, overenthusiastic, overworked, dazed and confused. a good hard cry in the emergency room, fever coursing through my pores, death blows a fond kiss in my direction. the crisis gets washed away with tears and the puzzled doctor says “but… is it going to get better? do you have friends who can help?”. it is. i do. the solstice is past and the days are getting longer again – like the tide, the dog days are slowly starting to ebb away.

in the middle of this jolly chaos, things are growing.

working with sex and magic has been on the horizon, the back of my mind, the edge of my vision for a while. i never gave it much attention, it seemed like too vague an intuition, unlikely, undefined. but when the glint caught my eye and escaped my lips, ears around me pricked. there were questions. the questions pulled and tugged like a midwife’s fingers. explaining the obvious to each other, discovering, again, that it isn’t. what seemed like the lightest of whispers on the wind – so slight perhaps only i could hear it, imagined it – developed into hours of whispers in vans cars beds sofas hilltops. follow the buzz of the bees, you will find the honey.

a close friend who experienced sexual trauma back when we teenagers had recently told me something that really started shaking up my tree. she said hanging out with me helped her more than most of the therapy ever did. that i had always experienced sex like an excited kid having a ball at the funfair – picture a seven year old who wants to do all the rides, chocolate smeared around the lips, a balloon and a goldfish squeezed under the armpit, making friends with the dogs and the candy man and breaks things down in the ghost train and gets lost and cries. then gets up, distracted by a butterfly, does it all again and gapes in disbelief when the adults say it’s time to go home and there’s school tomorrow. (wow, that was fun to write!) the point here being that it’s all an adventure, it’s exciting, sometimes scary, it’s fun, and did you go to the fair, what ride did you like the most, ooh yeah that was scary and did i show you my goldfish?

the other big shake i got was slowly realizing all the women who are my close friends have been through sexual trauma – and i had no idea. i thought we talked about those things, but clearly, we didn’t. we don’t. it took an even longer while for the penny to drop as to why i was receiving these confessions in the first place : i had found a complicated path to excavate some buried pains from my own past. their stories were only coming because i had opened that door in the first place.

the shame that clamped out mouths shut… i wondered what the hell i could do about it. after the questions started, i continued this whole conversation with unlikely people – my landlord, my family, vague acquaintances. and i watched something interesting happen to the shame : at first it feels close, too close, but as the words go on, look at that! shame stretches. a little further away. then a little further. it does that thing like when we name fear and put a spotlight on it. often in the light of day it doesn’t seem quite so big any more, it can be scrutinized and broken down into smaller pieces and dealt with. after piecing together the cards, some tips from a student of pnl, non-violent communication, poetic license, scribbled diagrams about trauma recovery, spread recycling, a fun photoshoot and check-listing deepak choprah… i was ready.

   

in a sharing circle after hours of dancing and sweating, i suddenly followed an impulse to present the readings to an audience. it was electrifying and scary and what a kick to see those sparkling eyes! the intention of the readings is to create a space to have some earnest, caring introspection about our sexual needs, and to encourage us all to share these thoughts and the questions they provoke with others. to bring this conversation into our daily lives. on its first night out it was already a complete success : that night was buzzing and humming with sex talk.

 

Introducing the Sex Magic Tarot Readings

Sex Magic is a combination of words that usually provokes a jolt of excitement, and rings many alarm bells of caution. I will not use safer-sounding labels like Sacred Sexuality. Let’s call things by their names here.

We’re talking about sex, that wild journey to ecstasy and madness that creates life. Burning, healing, dissolving – it tastes like earth and glows like the cosmic dance. It simply doesn’t get more magic than that.

I am inviting you for a chat around this great feast. Let’s talk about sex. Let’s explore what wines we have sampled, and what exotic flavours might make our mouths water. Appetites vary with the seasons : what kind of nourishment do we crave and need today? Where will we go forage for it? How did we get past our share of the bitterness, the poison also on the table? When was the last time you discussed favourite foods and swapped recipes with the other guests?

I started brewing these spreads after realizing just how many of us are struggling, trying to recover from trauma and physical abuse. How many of us close our hearts after they have been broken. And how all that pain is often digested alone, in silence.

Let’s break the silence and open the door to being witnessed. To looking deep within ourselves, and communicating our needs, our hungers, our insecurities. We are not alone. Sex is the fire feeding our creativity, our potential for transformation : let’s feast and get warm. Work up some sweet Sex Magic, and reclaim this power as our own. 

The Sex Magic Readings

Sexual Exploration
Titillation, fun, inspiration. Oh la la.

Sexual Abundance
Introspection on what sexual abundance looks like for you today, and how to manifest it.

Sexual Communication
Tackles the root of most problems : clear communication with yourself and others.

Sexual Spring Cleaning
Skeletons in our closet? We all have them. Let’s shake ‘em out, and move on.

Note : these four readings are about empowering you in your sexual and creative power. Whatever sexuality you chose to engage in (or not), with yourself and/or others, your fire comes from within and that’s where our focus is.

Book a Reading Here!

“oh, you want to explore the theme of shame do you? well, careful what you wish for!” manical laugh. we’re given a checklist of key words and concepts which i’ve kept and pored over half a dozen times since, musing on just how much deconstructing the world of clown sets out to do against the world of Common Sense, Dignified Adulthood and Fear. zuma puma’s exercises felt like we were receiving a long-overdue formal training in group socializing. “when you flop, make it bigger!”. clown brings this flabbergasting notion that you have to come as you are, as you really are, and that we love it, every minute, especially when you’ve failed to make us laugh. “put it in your pocket! well, that was a STUPID idea!” a rollercoaster of humiliation and raw honesty, exercises geared for failure and how to keep things flowing when everything goes tits up. “maintain eye contact! don’t lose them!”. once you’ve been laughed at for two straight days, sweating and grappling for inventive ways of making an ass of yourself…. what could happen? “that didn’t work – but this will!” it feels like the expanded awareness of training martial arts, acute sensitivity to the environment and instant adaptation. and the simple things – “make us laugh with one sound. with one movement.” mostly we have no idea why they do laugh. the distance between us just dissolves in our gaze and their smiles. the only agenda is connection. after this brief peak from under the jester’s hat, i can now feel in my bones why it is that a king will always listen to a fool. to get lost in the light of a clown’s pupil… a friend working on slava’s team talks of the master’s clown with wonder. a lifetime incorporating our most lonely moments of ridicule, misunderstanding, shame and isolation, and bringing it back to us : look. i’m there too. we’re all here.”what if you decided this was fun?” wink. bow.

Advertisements
Standard
europe, travel log

samhain – november

20171102_08013320171102_080147

20171101_161930

costume design

when i was preparing to cross the channel, set on exploring my ancestral lands, i had this feeling that my stay would extend beyond the few weeks planned. an intuition that i would spend the autumn threshold there, to meet my dead in a proper introduction, such as i could not yet imagine.

23423665_10156154247366323_216565995_o

the samhain gathering was a sunrise, a nest, a bubbling cauldron. four days dreaming in the moss with a colorful tribe of newfound brothers.

catapulted to another tor, i head to dartmoor under the gaze of a sheep skull with a string of pearls. first day, new faces. each one voices an intention and pulls a card – as effective an introduction as i’ve ever seen. the hanged man stares back from between my fingers, and the feeling of hovering persists. my senses sing in rapture : there are songs like golden feathers drifting in from another plane, group massages in front of a red stove, bare feet in the grass and slow breathing in the morning. the clinking of cutlery, whistles and miming while our silent lunch slips into clown, the grazing of charcoal on paper. the naked man’s voice sweeps us into a conversation under a teepee. i give tarot readings in the bath. we have casual cabaret, a casualabaret in the drawing room. ellie tells us a story of the handsome young man trying to escape from the love of the fairy queen, and  the tale leaks into our dormitory that night. in my dreams, the fairies steal from you “your laughter and your sadness”. meanwhile a scared man seeks a refuge among the slumberers, then disappears without a trace. 

20171103_133026

20171103_135935

23270397_10154869999560974_2601001023101799320_o

the day of the feast feels like something i’ve done many, many times before. the women go shrieking with pleasure into the frozen stream. we call the ancestors. cows answer the wolf howls. the dances and tears and offerings make the air crackle and thicken, i can feel them, the countless generations that sail in us, witnessing, humming in our blood. breathing down our necks, just outside the circle. after cleansing and paying our tribute, we paint our faces, don our finery. we feast : each of the 22 arcanas finds a seat at the table, a card for each passer-by,  child, trickster, and the lord of the house in a plushy animal costume. we toast and name our dead, we fill the room with their stories. the ones whose names have been almost forgotten, the ones we didn’t know and the adventures that we sometimes took part in. the devil and i strip and strike a pose before dessert : the drawings are passed around, a casual reminder of the diversity of our visions in the myriad interpretations of our curves and muscles. at some point my head starts swimming with too much stimulation, the scene, the songs, the food, the presences. red ribbons dance from the conifer bonfire and the sky pelts down ice from the full moon.

 “you are a miracle, and a landmark on the territory of a new world”.

it felt like home. we emerge filled to the brim with love. stronger.

20171113_103423

20171115_112133

i volunteer once a week, working in the garden at paddington farm

back into my new home, i settle into a rhythm… little eden screaming MOMMY LOOK ANELICOPTA. i rip open the blackened, dry skins of the beans. hard caramel seeds rain down into the pail at my feet. the beans climb up, the dry branches of black quinoa, the kale that i’d never met before. colorful home-schooled kids mill around, prodding at the earth while a mum gives me golden words – “there’s no lesson, no plan. we just do what they want to do. they’re learning to learn, and we try not to get in their way.” michelle wanted to teach eden about the trees, and instead got a lesson about how to evade monsters and aliens in the forest. i’m sitting in a pool of organic learning. the esoteric library, with its dusty crammed shelves of witchery, druidery, magickry, its string of muttering, beringed midde-aged men, delivers its treasure into my hands, but. it’s a trickle, compared to the rest of this river. friends made on the way to the sunset. promises of black clouds of starlings above a lake. the frost fair, where all the tribes of celts, fairies, witches and muggles mingle in their winter finery to watch morris dancers,  buy sheepskin slippers and gather to watch the man beating an arrowhead on the anvil.

20171125_144432

20171125_150114

i spend a whole week dancing. the five rhythms unveiling its surprises as i watch my body shake in ways i’ve never felt before. like taking a walk down your dna trail, responding to the drums with convulsions, spinnings, percussions, low sweeping motions that i suddenly recognize, sowing seeds, bent over a field a few days later. my body caresses itself, stomps, breathes in the whirlwind of other dancers with only the slightest impulses coming from me. the house and techno music make my soul shrivel and wail, but no matter where i turn, they are honored guests here. i work on my patience – people go wild and love it, they’re a delight to watch. we’re all so beautiful when we stop trying. contact improvisation turns out to be SO MUCH FUN, halfway between dreamy hibernation and a playground. the barriers between your body and other bodies, between the kid and the adult blur as we run around, rub up, and throw ourselves onto the ground, breathless, screaming with laughter. like post-coital frolicking, with random strangers.

speaking of drugless trance : i find myself watching amma, hugging. a man on her team tells me she simply does not sleep. with each step closer to her, my body flushes with heat, and the inside of my arms tingles, anticipating the imprint of her embrace. i get dizzy and slightly nauseous, like when you’re falling, falling in love, hurtling down. i watch her for hours. a queen bee, surrounded by a buzzing mass. she the dreamer, and we the whisps of her dreams. she clamps the side of her forehead against another, mutters some syllables and jumpstarts an earthquake. watching a miracle – five hundred times. a fox greets me every time i go for some night air on the racetracks. the glorious sunrise welcomes us back into the real world, and i glimpse a buddha statue between grazing sheep on the motorway.

20171119_133337

20171119_143626

20171117_154152

arbre bleu

20171110_092022corbeaumarronier

weeping willow

Standard
travel log

glastonbury

20171012_160843

“you’re going to meet such exceptional people here!” i heave a sigh of relief as i put down my bags under the bunk bed. i become an attentive student of ritual.  in the first light of the morning there’s chanting, offerings of light, flowers, water. stories of the life of krishna, leaving cowherds in a forest drunk with love for him. meditation. i take about four days to settle down enough for the quiet to really fill my cells. the ashram sits on earth kissed by millenia of pilgrim feet. one tower standing alone in the green, pillars of wind rushing around it, through it. this place has a tiwanaku feeling to it, a sparkling jewel left without polishing, half-buried, away from the centre stage.

20171011_172840dishing out food on the main street with sharon and david

20171012_180844

20171010_165139

the red spring20171029_091552

20171010_160114

20171010_095409minnie has a selection of cushions, but damn it – nothing like dead leaves for a nap

the signs are unmistakeable – i pull one card on arriving, “trust”. the first person to whom i ask gives me a bed, a workroom, a garden. i go to a conference by the apprentice to a famous magician, most of the books on my reading list are in the high street windows – along with crystals, cauldrons, goddess temples. no one else seems to think that the water from the springs tastes like our juices, but their names don’t lie – white for semen, red for blood. my hands burn like hellfire, an eco of an acquaintance in a distant spiritual town, who cured his ruined hands “with the power of the mind”, so long ago. there used to be a perpetual choir here. the land was bathed with holy chanting, every hour of every day. my conscious self understands – “that’s what you’ve been feeling, like a deposit of silt under your feet.” the texture of deep sacred sound, washing into the earth, the centuries. i give my first reading in a church – sitting on the grass. against one of the few walls still standing. i have a magnetic attraction to churches, with both polarities. i’m drawn to the grass breathing in the crumbled ones, and repelled by the walls of the closed ones.

20171027_113535

bridie’s yard

20171021_110936

20171029_084849

we have a day of almost-end of the world with a huge storm, eerie yellow light and a red sun. i read cards, rumi winks : “ruby sunshine”. i give up on the idea of leaving and get a huge buzz every time i’m asked if i’m a local. “i am now!”. tastes like honey on my tongue.

20171026_115927

20171029_100047

raspberry harvest

putting stuff on shelves. a desk, all mine. fresh flowers. settling, slowing down at last.

the strongest pull here is the togetherness. on the way here, i did an exercise where you dig up the books that have been most relevant to bring you to your calling, however vague and cross-sectional that is for me. having read hundreds, i was surprised at how similar my top-off-my-head pick are – the hero of a thousand faces, women who run with the wolves, and a tie between midnight’s children and stranger in a strange land. every one tells of us woven in the bigger picture, dancing the same dance as our mothers, our gods, our rivers. being a molecule in an expanding horizon of molecules, every day is different in exactly the same way. the visible and invisible, the then and now all tickling and licking at each other. bref, here i sense the togetherness, a common mud holding us in the conscious collective. a man dances his demons away in a workshop where our guide speeds us up to his rhythm, as he cannot calm down to ours. we tense up, run, shout as he beats the floor with his fists. a dj talks of feeling seen, and dealing with death, words pouring out of her at the end of her show. i give out free food in the high street, receiving fifty strangers’ gratitude. at bridie’s i share a very special feast after the privilege of sweeping the hearth and the altar, its shiny trinkets, mirrors and four-armed deity. “all revolutions eventually fail because they don’t control the food supplies. we’ve been feeding the spiritual revolution for ten years now.” it’s the community shop’s anniversary, and at the table there are three generations, half of us strangers to our hosts. “and that’s as it should be”. it’s so tangible, the number of lives traveling through this hub, the trading of goods, information, good vibes, with a wind of change blowing fresh air through its corridors. i’ve done two tattoos, had an emergency apple crumble delivered at my doorstep, pilgrimed to the tor in motley company, picked apples from the avalon orchards, been offered a bike, shoes for the mud, plant tips, rides, jams. i feel like abundance has decided to monsoon and just drench me to the bone.

Standard
europe, travel log

london – brighton

i cross the sea to the north. it’s a long, dreamy transition leaving one mist-clouded coast for the white cliffs of dover. a middle-aged man mopping the ferry floor sings in a beautiful baritone a song about all the girls he’s ever loved, to an audience of me and a couple of running kids in the vast, echoing, empty cafeteria. i feel the water in me pulsing to the water beneath the deck; communicating in ways my brain can’t understand – there’s some kind of eager reconnection going on, clear as day. in london, to contrast with the parisian graffito “menu du jour : l’amour à la amélie poulain”, a bar chalkboard proclaims “unattended children will be given a shot of expresso and a kitten to take home”.

20170910_174041

20170910_154135

pimped crossing light on trafalgar square

20170912_113826

love at first sight in camden market – luz adopts a ukulele

20170918_134942
our working desk

21731540_10155937250816323_827277890037992807_o

along the canals the boat people are applying coats of paint to their homes, taking advantage of the last sunny days. there are squirrels absolutely everywhere, surprises me every time. i am quickly reminded of how much our work is relevant in the cities, where the chaos is and i find it difficult to maintain harmony. we browse the city’s cosmopolitan options to fall back into our bodies. there’s an outdoor tai chi class, under a tree which keeps us from the rain. there’s an intensely beautiful yoga class with the urban avatar, an impressive presence who even pulls a dog-eared tarot from a pocket for a quick one-card pull before we leave. tango has a particular flavor so far from south america. i love working on my awkward steps, slowly polishing them. my body bristles with attention, gliding to the slightest pressure of a palm, following the heat of some stranger’s ribcage behind closed eyes. the milonga whisks us away from the gray towers into a swirl of silky dresses and intense, silent sensuality. a fragment of another era, still throbbing with life. cloaked in dream.

some beautiful dancing

we meet a tango dancer who paints dreamy dotwork landscapes and i run into some people i know from rio on the sidewalk. we take care of the lovely cedric, a city dog with an uncomfortable existence as he is mortally terrified of transportation, unknown people and much to our embarrassment, black men in particular. we never seem to run into english people anywhere ever. i go to a vibrant sunday market where it feels like summer is never going to end – a ska band jazzes up the park while families in t-shirts mill around incredibly delicious-looking food for every conceivable palate, friends have beers in deckchairs and a bush by the river drowns out all competition with ecstatic birdsong. i meet women who are building a boat in their backyard – “yeah, i’d barely ever lifted up a screwdriver before, and now here we go!”. when asked “so, did you enjoy the tate modern?”, i open my mouth, close it, for a few seconds, minutes. to me, that day, the art in these walls only screamed of alienation. the violent neons, ripped rubber tires and piles of rubbish weep. it brought me back to being a punk art student, feeling raw, unheard, powerless, angry, and using a similar language to express this.

21316531_10155911396806323_5908876014025034027_o

this reaction is probably enhanced by the days i’ve spent immersed in the delicate oil paintings of the pagan otherworlds tarot. the cards blow my mind. their beauty soothes the soul and evades words. i used to work with the tarot de marseilles, which i picked because it was difficult to relate to. i figured once i wrapped my head around this one, the others would come easy. its atmosphere reminds me of the stone walls of a cathedral, governed by complex number ratios, bearing the imprint of archaic rules and filled with underlying secrets i will never grasp. this deck here though…. it’s like walking through a forest. the cards whisper, and let the wind flutter through them. their messages often escape my lips, making no sense to me, but cristal clear to the listener.

i read in two homes populated by childhood friends, and the experience is moving, watching them sit one by one by my candlelight and open up, feeling their connection to each other through the walls and the years. their collective love creates a space for reading that is oh, so soft and welcoming. they wait gathered in the kitchen with wine, music and candles, cheering as each one comes back out, head whirring with information and wearing a sheepish grin. a book on non-violent communication falls into my hands, and deeply rustles me up. it comes right on cue in a time of stress, transition and delivering a lot of intense news. i’m still digesting all of the experiences shared in it… it offers such simple methods to deal with a million every-day situations. it’s like the ultimate communication swiss knife, simple steps to clearly understand and communicate relationship expectations, raising kids without guilt and punishment, get past that argument you always have with your mum, and the more spectacular examples of settling blood feuds between warring tribes and preventing a murder. the trick that really got to me was the phrase “repeat to me what i’ve just said”, and how you have to usually insist about five or six times for your message to reach the other’s ears instead of what they think they’re hearing. very soon afterwards i get a helpful illustration when a friend picked the devil card : “oh. that’s… bad, right?” “nono!” enter a long, loving soliloquy on the devil, followed by a pause and a few minutes later “and so the devil, that’s like a bad thing?”. it’s just humbling to have another precious tool drop in from the skies : “here my dear, this will help.” the cards had told me that some of the most important aspects in learning their language would not come from them, but from the web in which they are but one intersection : plants, folklore, language, poetry, music, moon phases and seasons, kung-fu, sexuality and self-care rituals. a friend talks of cleansing spaces with sound and a couple of days later i meet a kalimba with a sound like the tinkling of the stars. every note produces vivid mandalas behind closed eyes. it drew me like a magnet and the world disappeared, like the first time i heard tibetan bowls. i play it for a friend who immediately has a short out-of-body experience (and thinks nothing of it. “well, i dunno, it’s not like i count them or anything”). speaking of childhood loves, we leave london to hang out with the most beautiful bromance i have yet come across. in a nutshell, their first tattoo was : Till Death Do Us Part.

20171005_160542

20170929_191038
the burnt pier

20170926_134802

22042284_10155990054641323_1640529257559667155_o

20171005_092430

20171005_092241

22282108_10156036334856323_4990327026415650589_n

brighton offers high vibes after concentrated londonness. when we arrive i forsake all good manners, drop my bags and run to the sea. i am unable to sleep, restless all the time, there’s an unlikely turkish palace and a burnt pier looking forlorn. i watch five beatboxers and rappers gravitate around a street mike in the space of fifteen minutes. it’s a delight to live in a musician’s home, and sway on the wave of voices and guitar strings while perched on the kitchen counter, watching the sunset. a city of students and funeral homes, nestled against the devil’s dyke, soft curves under fading pink embers. i drink in gratefully the night silence that london could not provide, the sea dissolves the city smell, racket and agitation with her tireless dance. i get a concentrated shot of brazilianessence in a shared house with fantastic women and a bulgarian samurai. we close one chapter of the coral collective as luz returns to brasil. it’s been an intense three months and it feels good to take a break, process and regroup, until our next adventure. i pack my bags and prepare to leave for glastonbury.

Standard
europe, travel log

nails and armors

after hanging out with so many men our path took a u-turn and we settled into a nest of femininity: we were hosted in a beauty salon. neither of us had ever set foot in one before, and it was delightful : a bunch of women taking care of themselves, making jokes and coffees and chatting, all there to have a good time, to bond and relax and forget their days’ troubles over a foot massage, a manucure, whatever. everybody popping their head in the door, whispering “so what’s up girrrls?”, tiptoeing in and out to check on our progress. candles, music, buddha statues all set and ready before we even arrived, every room vamped up with incense and flowers and attention to the minutest detail. ines, the dazzling owner, telling how women drive one hour to come to her place. that she makes sure her girls are happy, that they can work well and spread the love all around.

we worked intensely on women as family – our customers were mothers and daughters, sisters, and their tattoos were all about each other. the cousins, grandmothers and best friends came in to watch. ines kept joking about her daughter being a mini-ines, and sure enough, they even picked exactly the same tarot card. a mother surprised her daughter by just  coming along, then suddenly getting two big tattoos on her forearms.

21013733_340855889688373_4919856655850835189_o

benni

four-hand tattoos

i complete luz’s octopus on andrea’s arm

vivyan and ines

viv and martina

swinging by paris i took part in a little mother-daughter circle myself, cunningly plotting to draw her into experimenting our popular tarot-shiatsu combo. my beloved mother does not believe in cards, or in being taken care of – so it took some plotting to persuade her.

20170830_174846

20170831_140914
a pig on a péniche!

IMG-20170831-WA0043

versailles with my mum

i’ve been thinking a lot about armor lately. tarot cards as i read them are forever wary of stagnation and the building of elaborate towers and walls – which shut you in as much as they keep others out. the tower card has kept popping up for men i’ve read for on the road, and one of its meanings is the destruction of old walls that have stood for too long. the line between a castle and a cage, the protective wall and the barrier is always a slippery one.

we build armors from our experiences. from memories of pain and resentment and sadness, we hold onto them to learn, to become tougher. we vow we will never be caught off guard again, be hurt. we establish a security perimeter, where none shall pass, to protect ourselves. we retreat behind a barrier of aggression, silence or the insouciant “i’m fine”. and then we sit there. thinking, safe at last. completely alone.

21316531_10155911396806323_5908876014025034027_o

pagan otherworlds – a tarot with no armor.

there’s a card called strength. it has no armor, physical or otherwise. while on the battlefield, the vikings had a shield, used both for defense and attack. but no armor. there’s no armor in kung fu either. i was repeatedly taught that for most defenses you only need to move a limb by about 10cm. you deflect the attack, or move yourself out of its way. you use your opponent’s energy, instead of spending a lot of your own trying to block it. 

but armor does use up your energy. it’s complex to make, heavy to carry. it also limits your options. your movements, your angle of vision, your hearing, your power of improvisation – all are limited. armors are crafted for a specific set of circumstances, and if there’s a change, they become dead weight. take one of those fancy full-body medieval tin cans. you’d be baking under the sun and sloshing under the rain, attracting lightning bolts and with frozen articulations in the winter. in these conditions, how good can your response be?

i’ve just watched a great ted talk, where a turkish healer states : “if you want to watch something die, draw a circle around it.” i feel the armor, the walls work in much the same way. you draw a circle around yourself, say this is where you stand, this is your shape, this is what you’re willing to let in – and no more. you close doors. saying no is important, and closing doors too. but just like anything in our funny little cycles, there is a time and a place for that. if you watch life through the narrow slit of an war helmet every day, life can only be perceived as a battlefield.

i feel like our viking friends got it right. if battle you must, what is more efficient than armor is an adequate weapon. wit, empathy, healthy boundaries, communication. and a battleaxe too, why not. a weapon, and flexibility to adapt.

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi

Standard
europe, travel log

a month of yang

20170815_101205

life on the road, how i’d missed it. its crazy coincidences and intensified everythings.

the on-the-roadness is a space in which i’d circulated a few years ago -that was the reason i started this blog at all -, and my journey through this space has lately seen of a lot of new parameters. traveling with a steady companion –  and through the pairing of two loners, to boot – is new and surprisingly easier than i might have thought. traveling  with a huge bunch of Things (and in a Car!) is also a huge leap out of my backpacker routine – being able to lug around all of the paper, candles, tattoo equipment, food supplies, herbal medicine books, presents for hosts and musical instruments is a luxury i’m greatly enjoying. the years i’ve spent resolutely not accumulating belongings, which would stay behind at the next move, have honed a great appreciation and reverence for any tool. i’m feeling grateful as hell.

this is also the first time i‘ve worked as a team and the energy is so different to working just for yourself. you fight harder for your partner, you sell with more sass, you regard your  joint forces like a proud mother her baby. your focus is sharper, your boundaries clearer. the difference is palpable for both of us within and in other people‘s reactions as well – every time we leave a host‘s home, we are begged and pleaded with to stay a little more. it‘s interesting to observe another‘s way of communicating who we are and what we do to another fresh batch of strangers – whether this is my colleague luz or whoever happens to be introducing us to their social circle. luz and i have been tattooing and mixing that with seemingly little-related passions for so long that it‘s been a challenge to describe why we do it, how we do it. in the website that we‘ve already redesigned three times, i‘ve sweated and groaned over a way of explaining our path to the three-minute-concentration audience.

it‘s kind of funny explaining my relationship with luz a few times a week. the story starts with “so we met about four years ago”, and because of the number of incredible connections and coincidences involved, people will assume that we‘ve been intensely working together since then. before june, we‘d actually barely spent more than five months in the same city or even country. we seem to swim in and out of each other‘s lives, always popping up a few months later with exciting discoveries to share, amazed to find out we are still walking in the same direction, however different the paths. many people express a sort of envious wonder at how we have found each other. again, i‘m feeling grateful. common interests branch out into each other‘s familiar field and before we know it we‘re practicing group meditations with the moon and our hosts, matching chinese medicine elements with tarot cards and geeking out on herbal legends. i‘m so used to picking up odd bits of information left right and center, then isolating myself to study and delve deeper to work it into my art, just like she does. the sharing is beautiful and nutritive. we can feel our power growing.

so people don‘t want us to leave anymore, and more coincidences come to tug at our skirts. we dreamed of a boat ride in amsterdam, and two hours later we were suddenly in a boat. we got lost in creative ways and confused by absurd bureaucracy. we marveled at the beautiful boat-houses along the canals and wandered inside van gogh‘s paintings in a different way, now that we‘ve breathed under the same intense stormy skies and spent days walking by those pale redhead dutch faces. after a delicious shower of icy rain, we had a cup of tea with a young woman in a spiritual centre, telling her we were only staying a few days, looking for clients.

“but you work with tattoos… doesn‘t it take a while for people to know your work, then trust you, then decide to work with you?
– well no, actually. it‘s a funny thing, but people usually meet us, then we all fall in love, and the next day they get a huge tattoo even though they never felt the need for it before.”

her skepticism was camouflaged by a dazzling smile. ten minutes later a boy walked in, had a cup of tea with us, invited us to stay in his home for a week, and had three huge tattoos – we did him the courtesy of leaving before he got into huge debt to get more, always more.

20170724_200802

eric lived in an appartment squeezed between two blocks, but still had a beautiful view

eric
four-hand tattoo

20170806_195914

20170730_194412

we met sofia back in brasil. little did she imagine we would go all the way back to her home, to tattoo all of her friends

20170731_180215

20170802_201502

 

20170806_192630

girls’ quiet sunday drawing session

20170806_202333

“have you ever tried spaghetti ice cream?”

20170804_152314

(by luz)

20170804_200053

adrian

20170808_114441

leon

work in progress snakes int

snakes for daniel

we have been simply swimming in masculine energy. men who suddenly stumble across us in their homes, get their first tarot readings, confess recent spiritual awakenings and dreams of travels to take medicine in exotic landscapes. men running from broken hearts or the mothers of their children. men living in beautifully adorned home-temples and claustrophobic rubbish heaps. men with whom we watch rabbits run around a back yard in the evening. men recovering from depression, artists struggling to make a living, political activists and ex-soldiers, construction workers and students and foreigners. a little boy with a gap in his gums that makes him look like a vampire, a little boy who lost his dad and could‘t stand my presence. a man who loves motorbikes, but doesn‘t “have the patience” to travel without a woman by his side. men madly in love with women living far away. a naked man standing in a lake, doing tai-chi in a golden sunset light. men in positions of spiritual power, not listening. everywhere, the carved face of the green man, the old pagan god of summer, creation, and all things growing – the european ambassador of yang energy, winking from stone walls. so many men! so many men to whom we deliver the messages from the cards and their own bodies. we watched them laugh and cry, stare into empty space and fall asleep and unblock and let go. we are coaxed into inventing a joint therapy marrying tarot and acupuncture which seems to delight our friends, so as the french saying goes, we add this string to our bow. it‘s been touching, swimming this great wave of manliness, and giving them a little care. the tarot kept spitting out apocalypse cards and great big storms of unmerciful change their way. so many people we came across had not had a simple pat on the back, a lovingly-prepared dinner or a kind word in a while, and needed it.

so it‘s been quite a ride. with some spare time to watch black squirrels, bats in waning light, swallows fishing in lakes, going to an earth-sauna looking like the oven from hansel and gretel. watching existential graffitis on the highway saying “i am the gate of the world”. discovering a place i‘d visited in my dreams and gardens full of sculptures and swings. painting bathrooms at two in the morning, drunk on wine and music from our rock‘n roll teens. listening to hang-drum or yiddish gipsy swing in parks, visiting vertical salt-water walls, a main street with house facades drooping like melted candles, a village of container homes and a punk community kitchen.

i‘m having quite the wild love affair with rumi, so i will let him add a last pinch of masculine beauty:

Who gets up early
to discover the moment light begins?
Who finds us here circling, bewildered, like atoms?
Who comes to a spring thirsty
and sees the moon reflected in it?
Who, like Jacob blind with grief and age,
smells the shirt of his lost son
and can see again?
Who lets a bucket down and brings up
a flowing prophet?
Or like Moses goes for fire
and finds what burns inside the sunrise?

Jesus slips into a house to escape enemies,
and opens a door to the other world.
Soloman cuts open a fish, and there’s a gold ring.
Omar storms in to kill the prophet
and leaves with blessings.
Chase a deer and end up everywhere!
An oyster opens his mouth to swallow on drop.
Now there’s a pearl.
A vagrant wanders empty ruins.
Suddenly he’s wealthy.

But don’t be satisfied with stories, how things
have gone with others. Unfold
your own myth, without complicated explanation,
so everyone will understand the passage,
We have opened you.

Start walking toward Shams. Your legs will get heavy
and tired. Then comes a moment
of feeling the wings you’ve grown,
lifting.

The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

Standard
europe, south america, travel log

the not-van trip

20170707_113840-1

so i have this friend, partner in crime, kindred spirit called luz. luz and i have been dreaming of touring continents in a tattoo truck for the last few years. a home of our own, where we can work our magic on people’s bodies and go explore, accepting all the invitations to “come visit me in my country”. when she told me she was coming to europe i thought, holy cow, it’s really happening, right now.

so i fed this to the social network monster :

19050367_316922595430441_2104610391098130432_n

let this be a summer of connection.

i am soon to hit the roads of europe, in search of the magical people. the shamans, the medecines women, the plant people. your grandmother, your childhood friend, that girl you worked with. i am looking for the luminous people you know, the ones that shine, the ones you love.

i am looking for a community i could call a home. a family where people are connected to the earth and sky and make beautiful things with their hands. i am looking for somewhere the plants will teach me about healing and nurture.

so i come to you, my friends, my loves, my family. whisper names in my ear, of places i should see, people i should meet. gather the people who are thirsty for the love and magic i put in my talisman tattoos and call my name. i will appear on your doorstep in portugal or in your cousin’s town in romania. i will paint your walls and faces and read the cards for you by a campfire.

let this be a summer none of us will ever forget.

http://coralcollective.strikingly.com/

 

so to cut a long story short, the gods laughed at the plans of mice and men and me in particular, and instead of a van i set off for germany in a borrowed car and a cheap tent. prior to my departure there was a lot going on : the women in my family went through storms of weeping, yelling and festering silence. i got ripped off a lot of money i didn’t have, and filed my first law suit – against an eighty-year old. found out my dad has lung cancer and needs to be operated fast.

my dad has a habit of saying something tragic to send me off on my long journeys. the first time i set off for south america with no return date, he drove me to the airport. just as i was going out of the car, he casually tossed at me : “if anything happens to me, don’t come back. you just go do your thing.” at the time there was nothing wrong with him. not getting any younger, but peachy. maybe it’s the seaman’s blood talking, getting a kick out of doom and gloom and woes yet to unfold. this time around, he said “just remember the 20 years we’ve spent together”.

so i left behind the family home, its troubled humans and ever-peaceful garden. the highway got greener every hour as i drove. a few hours later i landed in a nest of cristals, incense and beautiful carpets in the square, bare industrial butt-end of a small german town. a few hours after that, we were all on our way to a teepee in the dutch plains. it was an interesting week-end. watching men leave on other planets, burrowed under tons of the hard, uncompromising, earthly embrace of feminine ayahuasca. witnessing examples we will not follow – the best kind of lessons. big words, little action. we take a walk along the surreally straight lines of the dutch countryside, passing by six bambis and a lama in clean little fields.

20170707_170215

20170715_095443
who’s about to have fun?

20170715_123329

20170715_123352

20170715_133347

20170715_155943

20170717_131256

20170718_133738

our four-hand mural painting – can you feel the power?

we leave behind a mural painting for the little german kung-fu pandas, in the children’s training room. our dazed host keeps repeating how all is “so new for him!”. we head off today for amsterdam with no hosts or clients waiting for us, nothing but a very strong gut feeling that we need to go.

20170712_100205

friend map

20170713_155344

Standard