Duck Medicine

duck feathers by Katariina Fagering My heart was hurting yesterday and I just wanted to walk alone. The river was calling me   so I walked in that direction. It’s a short distance down rows of cottages, through the park with the pirate ship filled with laughing children, over the wooden foot bridge and into a quieter park where I found a patch of straw-colored grass under a fir-tree along the edge of the river.

Deschutes River by Katariina Fagering

I sat in the grass connecting into the earth below me, feeling Her supporting me, rooting into my own body and allowing the water drifting by to smooth out my heart ache.

A single Canadian goose glided up the river honking repeatedly. Then from the opposite direction several dozen ducks appeared from around the river bend. They sputtered, flapping their wings desperately before gracefully setting their little bodies in the cold water. I watched quietly feeling surrounded and supported by these ducks who seemed to have appeared at this very moment just for me.

ducks by Katariina Fagering

I pulled out my iPhone and googled duck medicine. Lin’s Domain says this about duck medicine:

Emotional Comfort
and
Protection

Ducks are connected to feminine energies, the astral plane
and emotions through their connection with water.
Ducks remind us to drink deeply from the waters of life.
Find comfort in your element and with those of like mind and spirit.
Ducks teach you how to maneuver through the waters of life with grace and comfort. Psychologist and therapists often have Ducks as a totem,
assisting them to help others move through emotional tangles.

four ducks by Katariina Fagering

My suspicions were confirmed when I read this. They showed up just at this particular moment for me, to help me let go of my sorrow and be comforted by Earth, Water and Ducks.

A friend asked me later that day why water energy was feminine. I told him that ancient Chinese practices believe in the balance of masculine and feminine energies. Yin (feminine) and Yang (masculine). Yin is soft, slow, relaxed, diffused, moist, passive and quiet. The rhythms and essence of feminine energy are the softness of water, the mystery of the Moon, the blackness of rich soil and the deep silence of the night. It also shows up in the feminine’s ability to express emotions – emotions are watery by nature. Yang is fiery and direct like the sun. It’s steady and protective like a mountain or rocks. The masculine is laser focused unlike the elusive ever shifting watery nature of the feminine. (some of these ideas found/borrowed/learned here: The Yin and Yang Theory)

ducks on deschutes by Katariina FageringThe two are complimentary and we all carry both energies within us. When I need to get something accomplished I call upon the masculine part of my psyche and when I am hurting and need healing my feminine shows up to be tender, gentle and nurturing. Lately, It seems I rarely have time for introspection or solitude unless there is some crisis or dramatic disruption, hence my walk on this day.

I am asking the masculine side within me to allow my feminine voice and vision to be heard, seen and taken seriously. Like a big brother who has always gotten the attention, I ask him now to take a step back and let his little sister have a turn while he supports her. I ask him to take her for a walk down to the river’s edge on a regular basis just to see who shows up, to be still and listen.

wild feminine souls

Erin's class Katariina Fagering

I created this in Erin’s class, Big Wild She

I don’t paint to someday be a world-renowned painter. I am aware that my true gift is in my photography but still I paint because it soothes and heals my soul. The process of scribbling, slopping around paint, pasting on collage pieces and intuitively listening to what is next is all for the health and sanity of my being or my soul. I work out and unravel my stuck points in the swirling of paint, pencils and pastels.

crystal at Earthrise by Katariina Fagering

I can easily soothe and heal my own soul while painting in solitaire but when I create in the presence of other women my soul opens wide and releases exponential tensions and concerns. There is just something truly magical about being in the presence of so many creative women. This is why I go to art retreats.

alena hennessy's class by Katariina FAgering

Last month I travelled down to Petaluma California for The Call of the Wild Soul Art Retreat hosted by my dear friend, Erin Faith Allen. I had the honor of being one of the opening night speakers (I’ll share my talk in a following post) which was thrilling and a powerful experience but like I said earlier, for me the true magic unfolded and unraveled while creating art with the 60 or so gorgeous wild feminine souls who showed up.

Alena's class by Katariina Fagering

The energy is tangible and almost crackles around women artists committed to cultivating their wildness. When women gather and create with their hands, their hearts soften and open and they are able to listen to their own soul’s with more clarity. This is such a gift.

Earthrise by Katariina Fagering

The Call of the Wild Soul Retreats are especially sacred because Erin has a unique gift of putting together retreats that are more than just a gathering of women to be instructed on art. There is real soul cultivated and woven into her retreats. The land is just as much a part of the retreat as each instructor and participant. It allows for further opening and connecting. This retreat was held at EarthRise Center with rolling hills, ancient oaks, wild turkeys, deer, mists and mystery.

Earthrise by Katariina Fagering

The weekend was a dance in and out of creative explorations and expansions, all the while connecting with my heart and the deeper soul-stirring side of my being. This is where I want to create from and anything less has no juice or energy for me.

pears by Katariina Fagering

Join me next year at the upcoming Call of the Wild Soul Art Retreats. I really want to create with you, and you and you!

Sara Eliason by Katariina Fagering

Sara with her painting from Big Wild She

where the ocean meets the shore

feather photo by Katariina Fagering

In October, we brought my father’s ashes to Seattle so he could rest near his mother. He passed away eight months prior and most of my mourning had already taken place but still I wept.  This time it was for him as a child. He was raised by a wounded mother who was probably raised by another wounded mother. His tender heart didn’t really stand a chance and I believe this is why he was so abusive when we were young and why he subsequently struggled with major depression and mental breakdowns.

The cycle has stopped with my generation, the blood line has been cleansed.

If he were still here today I would hold him tenderly and let him know he was loved and lovable.

wave 5 photo by Katariina Fagering

After the service we pulled our Caravan over to the rugged, jagged Washington coastline. I had forgotten just how cleansing and correcting the ocean can be. There were so many unresolved events swirling in my heart that were simply dissolved by walking on the rocks, climbing over the logs and soaking in all the ravaging beauty. What wasn’t dissolved found it’s notch in my understanding.

bald eagle photo by Katariina Fagering

At one point I spotted a bald eagle flying my way along the water’s edge. It doesn’t get more majestic than that. I’m closely connected to the wisdom of eagle (I’m a student so to speak) and this was such a beautiful gift. I photographed her through tears of gratitude.

pisces photo by Katariina FageringThen this rock displaying an inlaid Vesica Pisces caught my eye. This sacred symbol has  many meanings to many different religions and peoples from the beginnings of recorded time. For me it represents the unity of the Divine Feminine and Masculine creating a new way of existing.

A few days prior to my father’s funeral, I was in Glastonbury, England. We were staying at the Chalice Well Guest House where the Vesica Pisces marks the top of the Chalice Well and was found in the art on the walls and even inlaid into the kitchen floor. It was everywhere and it wasn’t until I recognized it on this rock that I woke up to it’s significance and I heard it’s meaning.

nest photo by Katariina FageringWitnessing a bald eagle and finding the Vesica Pisces inlaid into a rock were extraordinary experiences but there was also immense beauty even in the way the rocks collected in logs or were stacked on their sides.

Celebrating the mundane is my worship, my practice and 

my way of connecting to the Divine Sacred

so that I can witness the extraordinary and hear the message. 

heart2 photo by Katariina Fagering

wedged photo by Katariina Fagering

It’s all relevant to my journey of understanding myself and my purpose here and figuring out the balance between my soft, tender Piscean nature and my powerful side that needs to be a “Change Agent” in this world. I’ve danced between these two extremes most of my life (i.e. leaving the Marine Corps to be a photographer and then going back in to go to war) but it feels time to bridge the two and dance with both simultaneously with grace.

hatched rock photo by Katariina Fagering

small feather photo by Katariina Fagering

sidewaysrocks photo by Katariina Fagering

I’ve walked many beaches in my lifetime and they have always been healing but this experience at Ruby Beach with a heart in turmoil I was soothed and reset in a way that I cannot even articulate.

There is magic in the air that lives between an ancient forest and a rugged ocean. 

logrockassemblage photo by Katariina Fagering

when Kali comes . . .

darkcrow wings

Black wolf called me out

       from under my warm white sheets

             into my naked darkness.

                   Her beady eyes glaring down on me

 

my judge, jury and executioner.

      Lonely night of death dripping

           fear gripping my body

                  both longing and afraid.

 

Teeth snarling, spitting, ferocious

       and hungry for the remnants of my sorrow

             lurking behind Pleiades

                  squatting in the heavens

 

pacing,  and waiting.

     Then she lunges

            Gnashing, Growling, Snarling, Tearing

                   Shaking me free of the bindings

 

Of my sorrow.

     Flesh ripping.

           Tendons snapping.

                  Bones cracking.

 

All that remains

      Is Hemmingway’s honest and true

             bare bones, naked night, no excess, no fluff

                    Just the boney truth, the pure and the true.

 

Humbled by her ferocious hunger

       shaky gratitude moistens my face

             at the feet of my

                   beady-eyed liberator.

  dark sky 2

 

I actually wrote this poem months ago in Santa Fe after being awoken by some force and pulled outside to sit under the stars during the Pleiades and two beady stars above kept piercing through me. I grabbed my journal and wrote this poem pretty close to what it is today. 

Tonight, I decided I was tired of waiting for it to be better and I just wanted to get it out there. The Universe appreciates speed or so they say, so create and share! I want to start posting more often, I miss it. 

Thanks for reading and let me know if it resonates. 

Big Love, 
Katariina

 

The Summer of 16 Hotels

southern arizona prairie by Katariina Fagering

Larry couldn’t take living in our poorly constructed caravan any longer so he gutted it and hired two amazing craftsmen to rebuild it. While they were busy with the rebuild, we kept moving and traveled for six weeks across five states, staying in 16 different hotels. We drove through gorgeous scenery in New Mexico and Colorado, paddle boarded in Austin, swam at Barton Springs, caught up with old friends in Portland, Houston and Santa Fe, and slept at too many Hampton Inn’s.

IMG_1164  by Katariina Fagering

I’ve discovered that although Hampton Inn’s are a soft, comforting, consistent place to lay your head, it comes with a sort of “soma” sedation effect. The sheets are soft, the staff is very friendly and in the morning they serve waffles. But built into this seductive comfort is disconnection from the diverse and inconsistent world that exists outside those walls. All of this doesn’t really matter very much except that it has a sneaky effect of putting us to sleep to what is possible. It dulls my creativity and makes it hard to get back to the woman who connects deeply with trees, the stars and birds. It hints of A Brave New World by Audis Huxley and The Matrix, if you know what I mean.

I was talking to a new friend, Athena Steen (a natural builder and extraordinary woman), one evening about the relief and softening I felt sitting under the stars outside one of her straw bale casitas. She shared with me her belief that all buildings carry the energy of the people who built them and those that have slept within those rooms. I concur that sleeping in a straw bale home is healing and vastly different than my Matrix-like experience of a Hampton Inn. The sheets may be clean and the waffles tasty but on the subtle level something isn’t right.

In nature we see immense diversity that requires all the disparate pieces and parts to survive. This creates a healthy ecosystem where life thrives. The more diverse the healthier it is. I don’t desire to live life in padded comfort; instead I crave the crackling energy that exists on the edges of diverging cultures, and belief systems. This is where I feel most alive and yet I am still seduced by the Hampton Inn’s and Starbucks of the world.

starbucks-dada.jpg

As humans we crave and seek out consistency out of fear of change. We induce an illusion of stasis so that it doesn’t feel like there is change or even movement. This is why Starbucks is so popular; you can get the same Carmel Macchiato in Hong Kong as you can in Seattle. It is always soothingly consistent. The same goes for McDonalds, Hampton Inn and every strip mall across the states. I can pull off the highway and find a Subway, Chipotle, Taco Bell or Chili’s and even the design and often the layout of the mall will look the same from Indio to Albuquerque. This is all part of the illusion of stasis.

It’s brilliant psychological marketing! It’s so embedded in me that after four months without drinking coffee when I see the Starbucks logo I still get a surge of desire for a “Grande Mocha.” The corporate siren on their logo calls to me to come in and order a big cup of soothing consistency, despite the fact that I never really liked their coffee much. I did, however, love the aroma, the music, the soft cushy chairs and art on the walls.

the couch

not a Starbucks couch

I recently heard the creator of Orange is the New Black, Jenji Kohan, describe the States as a mosaic. She stated that we are not the melting pot that we claim to be but instead we are a mosaic of cultures, economic states, races, etc. What she is interested in is the places where the mosaic is disrupted and people from extremely different lifestyles are forced to mix. In Orange is the New Black, that intersection is a woman’s prison.

I experienced something similar in the military. As a white girl raised in a Washington State suburb, I was suddenly working alongside people from incredibly different backgrounds. I was thrust into a diverse world of contrasting colors, religions, sexual orientations, and socio-economic backgrounds. The experience was at the same time exciting and disorientating.

waters edge

waters edge

On the edge where the mosaics blend is a juicy place to exist; it forces one to expand their perceptions of what is appropriate, what is the “right” way to interact, communicate, and exist. I wish I could report that I handled it with eloquence, but the truth is I fell flat on my face many times. I experienced the pain of living in the juicy edges of existence as I was forced to expand my sense of reality and yet this is where I most want to live: on the edges where the mosaics blend.

Breathing Into My Authentic Story

trees in chula vista by Katariina Fagering

I’m typing tonight as the sun descends into the ocean, filled with gratitude for my gorgeous husband who took the kids to play somewhere far away so I could be alone for the first time in I can’t remember when. The lack of quiet, reflective, creative solitude is just one of the downsides to living in such a small space and leaving our nanny behind in Houston (I miss you Ana).

Beyond the RV park we are living in, I hear laughter and shouts from a boisterous game of volleyball in the harbor park. Willow, my dog snores under the day bed while Crow caws as she flies overhead, perhaps to say goodnight and remind me to stay the course.

crow with buzz on the wall at dancing crow yoga (love that name!)

Whether the myth about Crow being the keeper of Sacred Law holds water or not, I hardly care. Crow has kept me true and everyday truer to my course of living the fullest, healthiest expression of myself. She reminds me that I am an active, radiant being inside and out, full of life, love and wisdom to share. My authentic story is better told when I am living congruently with my highest expression, instead of succumbing to those more base desires, like drinking, gorging, consuming, and overindulging and a tendency to want to lay down as often as is possible (that’s a Kapha for you).

Living these three months on the shore of the pacific ocean has softened me into a new devotion for the wellness of my body, mind and spirit. I feel like a toddler in many ways, learning to trust my new legs on this path towards inward devotion.

larry yoga photo by Katariina Fagering

As I wrote in my previous post, Birthing a New Lifestyle, our life took a left turn in February. We sold our house, one of our two vehicles, and rid ourselves of a lot of excess stuff that no longer served us.  We slowed down the over-consumption and paid down nearly all our debt (just a little bit to go!). Those steps were just the beginning.

Laura and Bhava photo by Katariina Fagering

We came to San Diego to take an intensive yoga course called, Mastery of Life Training, a yoga course taught with the vedic wisdom of the Eight Limbs of Yoga (our teacher, Bhava, wrote a book about this). Mastery of Life Training is a 10 week course that meets every other weekend for about 20 hours of yoga, breathing, meditation, movement and mantra. This course is both gentle and challenging, loving and stirring; it taught me to embrace my discomfort while pushing my comfort levels.

The learning curve for us has been steep, but we are committed to living more healthy and active.  This practice takes a lot of devotion.

Larry can Dance by Katariina Fagering

Larry and I view this experience as an opportunity for a total system reset; a chance to shift our lifestyle. Living in Houston wasn’t kind to us in many ways. When a buffalo burger and a pint of delicious craft beer is within arms reach, we found ourselves out of balance and  drinking every night to survive the humidity, heat and concrete (please don’t get me wrong Houston is an awesome city in many ways, I’m just not a city girl – it doesn’t work with my dosha).

laura plumb photo by Katariina Fagering

A few weeks after arriving in San Diego, Laura Plumb, one of our yoga instructors offered an Ayurvedic 21 Day Spring Cleanse which included eliminating meat, alcohol, gluten, sugar (the hardest for me), dairy and caffeine. Instead, we learned how to eat amazingly delicious dishes of rice or quinoa, beans and greens with ayurvedic spices like turmeric, fenugreek, cloves, fennel and ginger. We drank a lot of teas and yummy smoothies.

We are long past the 21 days – moving into ten weeks of no alcohol and pure healthy eating. Our bodies are slimming down.  I’m feeling stronger, Larry’s back is forgetting the constant pain he once accepted. Most importantly, we are softening into an unconditional love and devotion for ourselves.

dinner photo by Katariina Fagering

It feels like a natural progression to first clean up our home and outer lifestyle, before turning inward to that healthy physical stasis we knew at one point in our lives. We decided to adopt this way of eating for six months, give our livers a rest and then see how we feel. I don’t want to be militant or absolute about anything.  This isn’t a path of fundamentalism; it is a path of grace and devotion. If my mom makes us a wonderful cheesecake when we visit her, I’ll savor each bite with gratitude for the love she put into creating it for us.

Bhava photo by Katariina Fagering

Bhava Ram – check out his amazing journey by clicking the photo

We began our cleaning up and clearing out with our home and possessions, before moving onto our bodies. Now I am beginning to experience the subtle (emotional) body in a new and poetic way. To allow every breath to be a conversation towards a more congruent expression of my highest version of my self.

With every breath I am audaciously learning to tell my story with my whole heart.

om home photo by Katariina Fagering

Birthing a New Lifestyle

chula vista marina

This morning, as the sun rose I practiced my yoga asanas out on the lawn next to Chula Vista Marina in southern California. The cool breeze carried the taste of salt as the sun warmed my face. I felt cradled in the beauty of Mother Earth. My heart filled with gratitude for the freedom to make new life choices and know that Mother Earth will always catch and embrace me when I fall.

crow

Crow (keeper of the Sacred Law) keeps showing up to remind me to step deeper into my own integrity and live in congruence with the woman I know I am. Crow wants me to stay present in this timeless moment where past, present and future exist as one. Where I am standing in my full expression of self, creating audaciously connecting to the deep wisdom held by my ancestors. I’ve missed crow’s gentle reminder because in Houston there are very few crows, seldom heard or seen. Can you imagine going a day without conversing with a crow? I can’t and yet I did for 3 years.

In February our lives took a left turn and suddenly we were packing up our house to be sold, buying a travel trailer (I like to call it our Caravan) and making plans to head west to study yogic living for a few months. It felt like such a quick birthing of a new lifestyle but as I thought further I realized this idea was first conceived nine months ago at our wedding.

Larry at wedding

The weekend of Big Luscious Matrimony in Dripping Springs, Texas was really more of a coming out party for Larry and I. It was the first time we had experienced our imperfectly, authentic dream of cultivating our creativity, connecting with our community and exploring sustainability. We planned the minute details of the wedding for over a year so that it would be a direct reflection of ourselves. We had local ice cream, local beer, local pies, local dinner. We collected mason jars for the year to use as reusable water glasses for the guests. We got he flowers from a flower farm down the street.

wedding flowers

Then we allowed for mystery to show up and help us complete our dream. The ceremony was planned that morning before the wedding and it was perfect. We had a circle gathering of all our guests just before the rehearsal dinner and I wasn’t sure what would happen but we wanted to create an opportunity to share our intention for the weekend and for people to meet each other. What happened actually blew me away. Deep sharing, tears, laughter, and bonding. We only planned to hold the space for coming together. kat and larry wedding day

On our last morning at the venue, sipping our coffee on the front porch, Larry and I decided that we needed to live this way. So we figured naturally that meant to buy a ranch and create our structures and call in our tribe. We dreamed of swimming in our natural pond pool, hosting gatherings of all sorts while we raised our feral children to run wild and free.

the land that heals

Nine moths later when we are getting ready to put some money down on 50 acres in Hill Country, Texas, Larry asks if we might want to postpone the buying of land and instead travel a bit in that “caravan” we were buying to live in while we built our first structure. With only a few seconds of thought I shouted, “YES” and we were off to pack up, haul out, donate, toss out and give away our collection of stuff so we could easily live in our tiny caravan.

As it turns out the baby we birthed didn’t look anything like we expected. Instead of us living stationary calling in our tribe, it looks like we will be riding with the wind at our backs with our hearts full of honey gathering new members of the tribe and visiting and “talking story” with our antiquated tribal peeps.

Goodbye Happy Home!

Goodbye Happy Home!

This labor was arduous, both physically and mentally taxing as all of my labors are. Then there was the painful limbo period between contractions where I wasn’t able to express my creativity and our dream didn’t quite look like we had planned. Yet the further we traveled across the Sonoran Desert away from Houston the clearer the path became. It’s as if the fog of living in the humid urban hub of concrete and strip malls had lifted and I could breath again and the scent of the pacific ocean was calling us home.

Sonoran Desert

Our passage to California is just the first stop in our new mobile life. We are attending an intensive yoga course called, Mastery of Life Course by Laura and Bhava. I will write more about this experience now that the wild, salty winds from the sea are cleaning out all the sluggishness and waking up my feral, creative soul.  The sea and crow will bring me back to my balanced stasis of audacious-ness.

Where will we go next? We’re not quite sure yet, perhaps north, perhaps east, we’ll have to see what plan we conceive and hatch during the next few months in glorious San Diego.