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allied media conference 2018 closing ceremony spell

we made it y’all! 20 years of transformation and love and learning by living into it all together, experimenting for liberation.

we are the seeds of future freedoms, future value systems, future mythologies. this weekend we have been wild dandelion seeds filling the air, searching again for places to root, land and become multitudes. we do not long to be cut flowers, beautiful and temporary. we long to be rooted plants that move with the cycle of life.

we have found paths here, in workshops, in this auditorium, in healing circles and spaces, in kid spaces, self-organized spaces, and all over the dance floor.

at 20 years we can feel ourselves pressing at the seams of this container, on the edge of our next growth spurt. it is time to plant the seeds of our next twenty years.

and, inspired by our musical guest video 7, what if we knew we couldn’t be held down? what if we planted that way – as if we are inevitable? how do we cast spells together that way?

let’s learn, let’s practice. let’s cast a spell for the next twenty years, from now through 2038.

how old are you?
what is the world like?
what is this community centered around?
what climate shifts have happened – are we at war? at peace?
is the amc still in detroit?
is detroit still detroit?

what we will see in 20 years is what we shape. right now let’s shape the future, repeat after me.

we claim the power
of our outrageous grief
our righteous anger
our responsibility for our precious lives
our interconnected individual and collective joy
and our impossible magic

we embrace our edges
that they may teach us to grow
in right relationship to the living world
our human messiness
our weird and brilliant wonders
we know how to be
in so many incredible ways

with these gifts we can
foment a revolutionary now
that centers love, care, needs
creativity and magic

we plant the seeds of radical honesty
vulnerability, authenticity
and the kindness that eases inevitable change

we will not settle!
we will grow weirder and wilder
more interdependent
for our liberation
for our liberation
for our liberation!

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closing invitation:

lila cabbil invites all of us as media makers to help us share the story of our water crisis in Detroit and Flint. help us through the blackout. visit affordablewaternow.org

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going away present! robin at flaming idols made us candles! our candle blessing:

we are each other’s seeds
we are each other’s soil
we are each other’s rain
we are each other’s light

the 20th annual allied media conference is complete!

a weirder, more interesting life

in the face of pressure to conform, i tend to get weirder. it feels, sometimes, like my/our evolutionary imperative. if something is considered normal, it has already been achieved. in a video game it is rarely satisfying to play the unlocked levels over and over – i want to keep finding the hidden treasures and the next mystery. in life it does not appeal to me to spend all my time in the realm of unlocked levels.

today is the beginning of the 20th annual allied media conference and this instinct in me to get weirder under pressure is part of what led me to this beautiful place. we are in a lineage of people who created more possibility by pushing outside of the norms of their time.

antiblackness, antisemitism, slavery, burning witches, stealing yourself a wife, wife as domestic servant, sex purely for procreation, necessary guns – some very stupid untrue things get normalized as humans work to consolidate power.

i am in the lineage of people who said: i am equal, i am human, i am in love with blackness, i am queer, i am free, i am fucking, i am going to resolve my issues through communication, i am magic. i am fat and wearing a crop top and i look like ice cream from a musical truck on a hot day. i am hairy. i made my head hair into a shaved up pompadour and dyed it Prince-purple. i respect myself as i am. i am smart and not hiding it. i am multitudes and have many love experiments to attend to with this life and body.

and so on.

in this political moment when we have a crisis on every burner, we are letting the rotten ways burn themselves out, creating new recipes, finding new sources of nourishment.

in the onslaught of hate, we root our work in critical connections that require only our continued willingness to grow and to love.

in the face of regressive political forces, we are asserting the radical personal and collective lines on which we will not be turned. and many of us are getting weirder as we recognize we don’t want to belong to a norm world that can’t see or hold us. we want to join a greater vaster stranger world, and create pathways for future generations to follow and surpass.

it looks like a sea of sweet mermaids, unicorns, centaurs, aliens and rebels flowing towards each other. it is multiracial and the center is ever shifting based on who needs the love and care in the moment. it has been shaped by our wildest longings and it will be shaped by more minds and bodies and risks and love stories than i can even imagine.

the weird is so much more interesting than the rote, the same same, the right, the already done. the weird choose freedom. the weird show us the way to get free.

i am about to hug thousands of weirdos and it is better than any corporate holiday. let the AMC2018 (the 20th anniversary!!), begin!

flower moon spell

the petals:

how many witches must cast a spell before it can protect our families, our bodies, our land? the sacred ritual of birth? the innocence in each of us?

how much abundance is needed to satisfy the hunger of cancer? the grasp of loneliness, the ache of desire, the pulse of greed calling?

how many prayers must cross in the sky, at odds, to confuse the gods into hiding? (for isn’t it true that the idea of god corrupts us, tricks us into diminishing our divinity until we forget how to be answers?)

how many children must be warriors for their future, and how do we forget war for the sake of a future?

how many nights will the moon pull the tide of this blood river, until the trauma settles, and even the memory of the trauma, and even the anger and forgetting and getting lost in the shape of the trauma? how many nights until it flows clear in us?

how much dirt must we grip into with our roots before we can trust ourselves to grow all the way out into the light?

flower moon spell:

moon help us shine into the impossible places, and then shed the pain, carrying the lessons into the dark, new, and fertile night. teach us the spells of this time.

gift us abundance without attachment.

let us pray by loving each other without conditions.

let us play, singing blurred words and dancing alone, surrounded by love and the possibility of love.

over and over, take what we can’t carry, with ashes, with water and whispers. and then let the nightbirds sing us to sleep.

humble us, remind us that the dirt is home, the dirt, the mess, is us…the petals fall away.

questions while watching Wild, Wild Country

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does this mean i need to reassess my entire tarot practice, since i began with Osho?*

what do these people believe in?

why is sexual satisfaction so scary to people who are officially committed to procreation?

can a small town be racist and also have a point (no flood-of-people-dressed-in-one-color feels like it would just be chill)?

is sheela my hero, and the most competent secretary in history?

is sheela evil??

could sheela exist without bhagwan?

did sheela & bhagwan just put capitalism behind all the things we believe in?

is capitalism what killed this experiment? or is it worshipfulness? or…?

wait, he’s bill clintoning her?

wait, there’s a price on Assata’s head but this pleasant Australian killer lady just out here?**

oooh is this a tale of a bad breakup?

he came out of silence to beef? #sacredpettiness! #pettyguru!

how do we resist/avoid the conditions that create bhagwan? wait, for real where did he begin?***

how do we cultivate loyalty to each other and ideas without the groupthink follower energy of a cult?

is sheela the rib of bhagwan? the root? the container? enabler? mirror? the cold heart? or…?

ok…but is it still possible to have a diverse sexy stylish wild free love back to the earth commune? or is it like fundamentally a jurassic park level dangerous idea no matter what?

* that deck is fire though
** brought to my attention by Janine
*** i need a prequel

storms come

it’s been raining for days. today the sun came out briefly and i noticed that all the colors seemed to be vibrant impressions of themselves.

the rain has not come alone, and it has not gone anywhere but into the dirt. the soil is damp and soft, swallowing temporary steps.

the thunder comes from a long way and then the lightning is exploding just overhead and i can hear the patter of rain against the window and the outer wall. this amazes me, knowing how small raindrops are, that i can hear them at scale. i can hear them through all the layers of my home, over the music, behind the noises from the television. i can hear the rumbling even as i write this, rumbling is a promise of something spectacular coming, but i cannot wait for it tonight, i must sleep. this beginning of the storm will do for now.

it’s as humbling and awe inspiring as anything else, to live in this world of rain that pours in sheets from the sky for days, tiny boisterous rain, cleaning the earth below the topsoil, rivulets carrying away the impossible silencing weight of winter.

it is spring, daunting squall-full spring. let’s see what all this death has made.

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storm to do list:

bluster about;

donate to Mia’s breast cancer support fund;

listen to new Andre 3000 tribute to his late parents and cry for days;

read pema chodron classic When Things Fall Apart and center;

dream about a detroit screening of Pleasure Activism contributor Alana Devich Cyril’s new documentary about her battle with stage four cancer and finding pleasure in each day;

fall from great heights into the river that finds itself underground.

“mantra: i die a thousand deaths, and am reborn one thousand and one times.” – #shewolfetarot by @serpentfire

the pace of a lightning storm

I can’t rush
I can’t shrink
I am light but only of darkness
I am the sound of darkness
I am the thick and heavy crash
I look soft I look slow
I am tons I am bigger than ever
praise arcs the sky
gasp, gasp in wonder
you thought you were above.
surrender to going under:

there is a lightning storm out tonight, it is loud and massive and midwest and bright and spectacular. it’s been raining for days, the land is swollen, the river is fast. here is a lesson of lightning: you can’t rush or shrink who you truly are.
and if you have a brief life, let it be bright.
and let the sound be a sign of intimacy.
close enough to quake within, close can be so frightening. show all the way up.
I tried to capture the lightning but you could only see it by being present.

we will not cancel us

We will not cancel us.

We hurt people.

Of course we did, we are human. We were traumatized/socialized away from interdependence. We learned to hide everything real, everything messy, weak, complex. We learned that fake shit hurts, but it’s acceptable.

Our swallowed pain made us a piece of shit, or depressed, or untrustworthy, or paranoid, or impotent, or an egomaniac. We moved with the herd, or became isolationist and contrary, perhaps even controversial. We disappointed each other, at the level of race, gender, species…in a vast way we longed for more from us.

But we will not cancel us.

Canceling is punishment, and punishment doesn’t stop the cycle of harm, not long term. Cancellation may even be counter-abolitionist…instead of prison bars we place each other in an overflowing box of untouchables – often with no trial – and strip us of past and future, of the complexity of being gifted and troubled, brilliant and broken. We will set down this punitive measure and pick each other up, leaving no traumatized person behind.

We will not cancel us. But we must earn our place on this earth.

We will tell each other we hurt people, and who. We will tell each other why, and who hurt us and how. We will tell each other what we will do to heal ourselves, and heal the wounds in our wake. We will be accountable, rigorous in our accountability, all of us unlearning, all of us crawling towards dignity. We will learn to set and hold boundaries, communicate without manipulation, give and receive consent, ask for help, love our shadows without letting them rule our relationships, and remember we are of earth, of miracle, of a whole, of a massive river – love, life, life, love.

We all have work to do. Our work is in the light. We have no perfect moral ground to stand on, shaped as we are by this toxic complex time. We may not have time, or emotional capacity, to walk each path together. We are all flailing in the unknown at the moment, terrified, stretched beyond ourselves, ashamed, realizing the future is in our hands. We must all do our work. Be accountable and go heal, simultaneously, continuously. It’s never too late.

We will not cancel us. If we give up this strategy, we will learn together the other strategies that will ultimately help us break these cycles, liberate future generations from the burden of our shared and private pain, leaving nothing unspeakable in our bones, no shame in our dirt.

Each of us is precious. We, together, must break every cycle that makes us forget this.

the blessings that come

my life is overflowing with blessings right now. i am learning that it takes work to prepare for blessings, and to put them to good use.

in the past month i finished two books, did two big journeys for emergent strategy (madison and nashville, very rare trips in this year of homing), and hosted the first emergent strategy immersion in detroit.

the books reshape everything, the characters and ideas show up in between my mind and the world as new lenses, combining grief and pleasure in each day, in each interaction. i am shocked by how often people are sharing secrets and love and longings with me these days. these are stories i am open to in new ways. do they know this is all i want to hear, the truth this raw?

and…i want to be home, quiet, hermiting. having to leave feels like tugging myself away from a comfortable womb. i am healing each day i am home, talking to my plants, sitting in my tub, swimming with all my elder homies, making small offers to my community, cooking.

and i want people to come here, gather here.

immersion is a way of being in water, completely. the event i hosted is the first of several experiments this year. i am seeking the best ways to invite emergent strategy to the front of peoples’ consciousness and practice, ways that don’t rely on me being the sole one to teach/spread it. this first one was thrilling for me, it was a group of people surrendering to the flow of being with each other, taking risks together, being whole together, steps and missteps that became a dance, learning with each other.

we were in detroit because it’s a teacher, a cauldron of transformation, and because i want the city to feel the abundance that comes from emergent strategy, the love that can open inside the theory.

eh, this all feels vague, and that is probably on purpose too, as i want to learn a lot more before i say more.

i was immediately able to test some small pieces out in nashville, and am in a large experiment with solidaire in may, as well as ongoing facilitation with Movement for Black Lives and BYP100. i am giving myself permission for this to be a learning year, i want to be generous with my student self in every space i get to be in or hold.

but conversations continue…some places to check me out:

Sex, Power and Leadership Conference

Longreads: a beautiful distillation of everything i care about in interview form.

Radically Selfish Podcast

and being very high for 4/20 special episode of How to Survive the End of the World podcast (we also dropped an episode on Reshaping Apocalypse that is fire).

blessings also come as needed lessons. saturn is retrograde from now until my birthday. this means caution with my words, discernment in what i listen to, and…karma is coming, learn from it. i want to learn, and to smile, to laugh in the lessons. everything is still hard, and we all die. i take that seriously. but until then, i am focused on the blessings.

writing so hard

writing comes easily to me in that i write daily, and have since i learned the alphabet. i don’t really feel things fully, or understand things, until i have written them down.

writing is still the hardest work i do – physically, emotionally, spiritually, politically. figuring out what needs to be written, what needs to be uplifted, how to write it, who to write to, how much i am willing to share and to change…and, always, when to write – it’s hard work.

words are spells and invitations. they all exist, and we rearrange them over and over to say the truth.

the ancestors i love left me a river of words, and i am conscious of being a small stream flowing into it, sometimes guiding others, bringing myself to an ocean.

so. i just wrote for three weeks straight.

on the surface of it, i finished two books.

one nonfiction, on pleasure activism.

one visionary fiction, a novel on grief and transformation in detroit.

just under the surface, i edited an anthology that i’d been gathering for a year, with a lot of original writing on pleasure to weave it together. as i was completing it, i could see all these additional needs, and every day i was reaching out to people who would add the exact note to the chorus that would make it complete. it was exciting work. and i had to ask myself daily: am i being brave enough? am i telling the truth about my pleasures and vision and healing journey? do i need all these words? does it read like a conversation? am i enjoying this?

i turned it in to my publisher a day before it was due. it will come out this fall, it has a cover, it’s real!

and just like with emergent strategy, i wrote a book that i was longing for.

by the end my whole body hurt. there’s no way to write for 12-13 hours a day that doesn’t tax the body. i took baths and swam every day, celebrated each chapter upon completion, went for walks, sought pleasure.

still, it hurt my hands, my neck, my back, my ass.

my goal is to create a life in which i write 4-5 hours a day most days, an amount that doesn’t hurt. writing brings me unparalleled satisfaction. for now these marathons are what i have and i’m grateful.

so then it was time for the novel. the novel has been showing itself to me for five years in short stories, through a nanowrimo, and a month long writing residency january 2017.

it’s an emotional lift. it’s all about grief, so of course it’s full of ghosts, and i have to step into my own grief to write any of it.

for two days of the work i wrote for 17 hours, no breaks, no swim, nothing but the work. and my pulsing sense of scarcity, that i only had six days left. then five. i moved like a dying snail through three small chapters. my eyes were trembling when i laid down to sleep.

then, the third morning, i released my outcome orientation. i accepted that i most likely wouldn’t finish in the time i had. that i may never finish, that i can’t approach this book that way. i scolded myself for being out of alignment with everything i believe in about creating.

i course corrected.

i let myself deepen into the story, lose myself in the content, feel it and weep, take risks. i went swimming daily, took more epsom salt baths and let myself feel as excellent as possible. i connected with others, friends fighting cancer and heartache and nightmares. i watched planet earth ii.

and, to my surprise…i finished something i’m excited to read, to share. i feel satisfied.

and i remembered, then, how i wanted, needed, to finish the novel before i turn 40. i am aware of time passing. i love aging, and i live in a perilous world.

i noticed how people, people who love my writing, don’t quite understand that writing is hard.

i set relatively soft boundaries around the writing – i won’t answer emails, i won’t be on facebook as much, i won’t do other work. just for three weeks. people used the private space of every social media platform i’m on, my text messages, and friends in common, to still send me requests.

“i know you are writing but…”
“i hope your writing retreat is fun, can you just…”
“congratulations on writing, what about…”

i initially resented this. then i realized it’s the ongoing lesson of boundaries. i am responsible for my life. i can’t have slippery boundaries and expect others not to slide into my sacred writing space.

there are so many societal reasons why boundaries are hard for me. for all of us. and for me.

and, every day, i see how the work of creating and holding boundaries allows my life to be lived in a way that satisfies me. not in reaction or resentment, not protecting my projections of other people’s feelings, but in reveling, in the miracle of being a creative, curious person.

i keep telling the truth these days: no. no and here’s why. no, i’m writing a book. no. i’m writing two.

no makes way for yes. and i’m 39, i want all the yes i can get in this life.

time is both nonlinear and magical. AND finite in the sense of a life. actual years. death is always with me. the week i finished the novel was the 50th anniversary of martin luther king’s assassination.

when i turned 39 i felt very aware that it was my mlk year. 33 was when i compared my life to the brief miraculous life of jesus at the age of his assassination. it’s ridiculous to do this. so what.

39 is the year when i am noticing what i have (and mostly haven’t) done in relationship to mlk. (there are other such years, if you’re into such things.)

i have felt a lot of admiration for mlk as i have aged. he was a human, a direct action hero, and a writer. we remember him as an orator, but that’s because the words he wrote to speak were such radical love poetry.

now i am a 39 year old writer deeply disappointed by the nation of my birth, losing faith in the species at a large scale, but gaining faith in the planet, in the intimacy of communities, in what love can do, and…in what i can envision beyond the mountains of struggle and pain before us.

i see free people.

writing in the context of white supremacy and militarized capitalism and patriarchy ranges from annoying to devastating. writing about concepts that were articulated clearly 50 years ago, and thousands of years before that, is humbling.

will the conversation ever change? it’s changing all the time, of course, but will it ever really change?

i think about how hard it was to write the words “i may not get there with you.” to have a wife and children, a flock, a following, security and a god…and to still know no safety. they are true words that shouldn’t be true. this far into the human journey, speaking truth shouldn’t be fatal. but he didn’t stop writing, speaking. mlk was generous.

i get inspired by this when i dabble with hopelessness and rage. i don’t stop writing, even though i rarely claim originality. i am in the chorus i believe in: i sing of justice, i sing of liberation. i write what i need to read, to hear, to say. i feel when it’s true. i celebrate when i feel truth from others – it’s so easy to perform, to promote. but all i want is truth.

junot diaz just wrote something i needed to read, to hear. it’s in the new yorker, and it’s a #metoo story.

i am a survivor of many kinds of sexual harm. among these is harm that came at the hands of a male survivor of rape. i didn’t know that until later, it was all a mystery in the moment. i experienced harm inside of a sort-of-relationship where i believe we truly loved each other as much as we could at the time. we both carried so much unspeakable baggage in the door that we could not see or hear each other. and i experienced the physical harm of his trauma, coming through his body into how he interacted with my body. he didn’t mean to hurt me. he did hurt me. writing about it hurts me.

i could feel in junot’s words a pain that has always been under the surface of his books. the yawning chasm. the unspeakable baggage. the truth. i know it hurt to write this piece. everyone needs to read it.

writing shapes and reshapes the world, even if the words are simply rearranged dreams, visions, confessions, truths. matter doesn’t disappear, it transforms. we are of it, we shape it. writing so hard that the truth comes forth changes the world, and it changes the writer.

in all of this, in small and undeniable ways, i feel different than i did last month. this is internal. i told the truth. i am 39, and i am slowly seeing who i am.

my hands

i just turned in the pleasure activism manuscript. my hands hurt. and the book is exciting.

!!

the moon is full above thick clouds. i feel her. i completed this work in a moon cycle. that feels right. full moon is when you name what you are releasing. i detach from outcome for this work. i’ve given it everything.

and i got two days of fiction writing in this week. now i get to revel in the fictional realm of my novel. well…struggle more than revel. joyful struggle.

with nonfiction i have a sense of how to do it, it’s my voice, my opinions, my stories. but the novel is a weaving together of voices i can hear, ghosts and complex characters who want me to get their stories right. and this first novel is full of ghosts, grief, songs and magic, all in Detroit. i love the story, and i am eager to know where it will take me.

grateful for everyone honoring my boundaries, and reminding me to hold them tight. grateful for the wide range of pleasure activism contributors. grateful to have a life that centers pleasure. grateful to have a life that has gifted me so much to grieve that i must write about it. every day, as i’m here, comes more sorrow, more joy.

all is full of love. wish me luck, and hand love.