October in the woods in SW Michigan, just minutes from my Three Oaks home…
Moving from the heated expansiveness of summer, a refreshing and introspective autumnal forest calls. Come walk and linger, enjoy scents and colors, experiencing the restoration and inspiration of the trees, plants, and earth. The shadows are long and the days shorter, heightening our pleasure of the moment. Falling leaves reveal the skeleton of a tree. Scent of decaying leaves is both dank and sweet, a curious embrace.
I imagine most of us woodsy fans are aware of the Forest Bath movement, Shinrin-yuko. (I rambled about Forest Bathing previously in a wintry blog – Winter Forest Bath). In Japan, formal studies are conducted regarding the health benefits of spending time in nature. A recent study explores the immune strengthening abilities of essential oils from trees and plant life. ‘Scuse me while I dab on some Hinoki Oil…
Most beguiling is the personal creativity that awakes in a Forest Bath. If we step into the woods with senses open we begin to feel very deeply. We let the forest in – into us, our psyche – and we experience profound pleasure and the rarified activity, play.
Yeah, it sounds “woo-woo.” Well, it is “woo-woo.” Let’s just lighten up go with it.
Here’s some sensory forest bath games to explore.
Find a scent and breathe it in. Close your eyes. How does it make you feel? Where do you feel it in your body. Open your eyes and follow the scent until you discover another. Repeat.
Pine, I feel in the head, throat, and heart. I walk through the woods tracking pine until I discover a fungal-mushroom scent. This I feel much lower in my body, it is heavy and rich. Something about the mushroom seems mischievous to me… Colors seem brighter after the scent of mushroom.
Let yourself gaze at something until your eyes go in and out of focus. Explore trying not to focus on anything! Find some lovely objects and make a design with them.
I feel connected to my inner child when I do this.
Sit in silence. Close your eyes. What do you hear? Repeat, this time with a smile.
Here’s a favorite. Find a tree. Go ahead and rest your hand on it. Feel. Move your hand away, slowly, and see what you feel now. Ok, umm. Just wow! Next, silently introduce yourself to this tree. “Well, hello there, Tree. I’m Doreen. It’s so nice to be in your company.” See what happens…
Go ahead and revel and twirl! Don’t be perfect! Be wild and wonderful! Be present! Be you in the deep, deep woods of autumn!
Dust off your wings! Faerie Festival season is here!
First, here’s a little bit about faerie festivals. Then the roundup of festivals I’ve been to, or want to go to, or want to go back to.
But first – Questions.
Just what is a faerie festival?
A bit of a hybrid festival, faerie fests are a little like a music fest, only more family friendly. A little bit renaissance fair, only with faeries, and in any time period. A bit steampunk and rainbow tribe. Only with, faeries. Expect music, dancing, activities, street performers, craft vendors and lots of creative expression. Expect – you guessed it – faeries!
Are costumes required?
Nope! Although, many folks do dress up in costumes though. And you’ll have more fun! All kinds of costumes are welcome- ren fair, pirate, steampunk. Faerie costumes are very imaginative, have fun with it!
Is there food?
All the festivals have food, but some have more selection than others. Check the website for each fest. Bring water.
What about shopping? Is there cool faerie stuff for sale?
Absolutely! Bring cash! Sometimes swipe devices don’t work so well in the woods.
Do people spend the weekend or the night?
Yes! Most festivals have camping or bunk houses of some sort. Recommended – bring twinkly faerie lights and such to deck out your tent. The camp ground and the after hours parties are where much of the fun happens. Plus you make friends and get to hear impromptu music jams. And many festivals have the best after hours dance parties ever.
Are pets welcome?
Mebbe. Again, check the websites of each fest.
If you can purchase ahead of time, do it. Camping may fill up.
Here’s the Round-up
(Photographs are my own but not necessarily from each festival they are tucked under)
Indoors – Get your Faerie fix in the cold months! Workshops and fantastic music and vendors.
A Faerie Poem
The following poem is by east coast photographer, and faerie soul Cathleen Newberg. I met Cathleen at Maryland Faerie Festival and she kindly responded to a verdant faerie newsletter with this inspired enchanted poem. Enjoy! Thanks, Cathleen for letting me share here!
I dreamed a dream
of pretty things
Of starlit nights
and Fairy Wings
Of dancing lightly
with feet bared
As if Gravity
no longer cared
My spirit soaring
no longer bound
such sweet sounds
dreaming the dream
of starlit nights
and fairy wings
~ Cathleen Newberg
Know of any of faerie festivals not mentioned here?
Belize and Guatemala happened for me this past January because of adventurers Deb and Bob Stelton, through their mom and pop travel company Mexi-Mayan Travel.
And they really are my mom and pop.
Forever curious, an inspiration to countless students and seekers, hosts and trip organizers of expeditions since the 1960’s, they are only now at 88 and 91 years young just starting to slow down.
I’ll admit to a tug at the heartstrings. Climbing around ruins and getting in and out of boats or beat up trucks is a challenge at their age. I am an arm for my mother to lean on, (darn arthritic knees!) or a cheerleader as she navigates a high ledge, on her butt, backwards. I am an ear for my dad’s failing hearing, and also sometimes a stabilizer for him also. It’s not easy for them and sometimes I worry. Well, enough of that. You get the picture. We treasure each of these excursions.
It has been an honor and delight to accompany them and sometimes work as guide on many of their madcap journeys.
Talk about gratitude, my life has been rich with culture and experience. They’ve modeled viewing the world with wonder and curiosity.
Follow their lead, my friends! Pursue your passions, interests and loves as long as you can! It keeps the mind, body spirit, strong and supple like a cheetah…
Other than the ‘rents and I there were 12 more adventurers. All intelligent, mature, considerate, and often hilarious individuals, including 3 archeologists. All curious about and considerate of the culture of Belizeans and Guatemalans. Many archeology passionistas who appreciate a cold local beer at lunch.
More People, Local People
A few words about the people of Belize. They are funny, kind, patient, and generous. Names of businesses and street signs reflect their humor and generally easy-going nature.
More good natured monkey bizness…
Our local guides took care of us like family. Once even ingeniously packing a home cooked lunch feast (made by one of their sisters in the wee hours of the dawn) which we enjoyed at a ruin in the open air replete with china plates!
I was touched to see a young taxi driver holding my mom’s hand and slowly walk her to his old cab with the cracked windshield and peeling window darkeners.
In San Ignacio the dogs are plump and adored. They wander the streets freely and bark all night. All night. They bark all night! All. Night. Yawn. Supposedly they are watch dogs, but I think they are more just party animals.
I’ve been to Guatemala about 6 times. Here too I find the people are kind. Traditional Mayan spirituality is intriguing and very alive in Guatemala. If you can experience a Mayan shaman ceremony or visit a Maximon shrine, go for it!. The shamans will speak directly to the gods on your behalf, building a sacred ritual fire. Maximon is the saint of drunkards and whores. He can be bought off with offerings of cash, booze, and cigarettes. I mean just do it! Can’t hurt, right?
In San Ignacio we stayed at the Rolsen Hotel. The Rolsen sits atop a hill a bit out of the hustle and bustle of downtown. Modest and clean accommodations, very kind and helpful staff. Nice Pool. Although the coffee was dreadful, the breakfasts were hearty and the fruit plate was super fresh. Best thing on the menu – Pork Pibil. There is a lovely view of the city from the dining room. And it’s easy to get a cab or tour company and take excursions from here. We used the dependable and friendly family-run local tour company,
BTW – we about fainted over the food at San Ignacio’s restaurant The Crave. So yummy!
Also the Belize Zoo is lovely place, small in size with lush flora. I am not keen on zoos but this zoo is more of a rescue center. I petted a rescued jaguar!
In the Peten area of Guatemala we stayed three nights at the remote El Sombrero Lodge. Run by an Italian woman who came to visit as a young lady then fell in love with the land (and a man) and never left. She is assisted by her adult sons. This lodge was my favorite on the trip. Outstanding service and delicious home cooked meals (they baked me a birthday cake with only an afternoon’s notice, and served it warm for desert!) The lodge is tucked in the jungle on a crocodile filled lake (no swimming). I found the rooms utterly charming – screened-in thatched roof structures. You will hear the howler monkeys! Some rooms are more “communal” then others. You may hear your neighbors! The lodge generates their own power (which goes off at night unless you make other arrangements), keep their own bees, and serve the honey with homemade pancakes. Excellent coffee. The owners are highly knowledgeable about Mayan archeology and offer excursions to nearby ruins by boat, horse, or car. The road to this place was exceedingly bumpy, but worth it!
Deb had the brilliant idea to finish our trip at the most luxurious of the three “hotels.” So we were off by a scenic boat ride to, The Lamanai Outpost Lodge. Private, quiet rooms, service, food and cultural and ecotourism activities here were first rate. Hot showers, air conditioning, comfy beds, beautiful landscaping, hummingbirds everywhere. 24 hour coffee is forever in the communal room. Our hosts mysteriously and repeatedly offered drinks on the house. Was it something about us? Or is it the norm? Hard to say… Regardless, cheers!
Finally, we visited many ruins… I’m sorry the names escape me (there were so many!) but here are a few favorite pictures…
Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear about your adventures – please comment!
“A cozy one, a sexy one, one for the weather, and a wild card.” Inviting advice offered from friend and blogger Julie Johnson of The Redolent Mermaid to my quandary on a last trip.
I confess that mostly I’m a last minute packer. Sure, I have grand plans to pack two-three days before a trip and then re-pack the day before, removing half of the stuff, etc. But no, mostly, I just end up shoving everything into the suitcase last minute. Yoga mat? Check…
Careless as I might be in packing clothes, not so with perfume. Not always. But mostly. Laying the potential fragrances out ahead of time to sniff and dream gets me in the mood. And it’s an adventure to see if the way I predict fragrance interacting in an environment will play out in just that way.
For this jungle faerie hunt I selected a small vial of rare Hawaiian Jasmine in oil for my weather (tropical) scent. A gift from a friend who procured it at a farmer’s market in Kauai it seemed an obvious choice.
A small potent vial of verdant faerie’s Butterfly was my cozy scent. More of an aromatherapy scent than a perfume, Butterfly is bright with Geranium and Mint, and grounding with Clary Sage. It is perfect for jet-lag or the disorientation that sometimes accompanies travel. The bottle is now empty… Somehow it’s brightness was a soothing tonic. Helping me to feel stronger and ready for adventure.
My sexy scent was verdant faerie’s Eau De Parfum, Duskblossom, a rich scent with a seductive heart of Jasmine & Tuberose and a complex narcotic patchouli / tobacco base.
On the trip I ended up slathering Butterfly on my wrist to wake up and then layered my sexy pick DuskBlossom on top, day and night. During the day I would occasionally layer on the straight up jasmine. I found the Hawaiian Jasmine and Jasmine-heavy Duskblossom perfect for the jungle. It’s heady seductiveness lured me into lush jungle spirit. Blooming, thick, both ethereal and and of the earth.
The wild card was J. Hannah’s award-winning Skive. I especially love to take this one traveling because of it’s nifty eco-lux and travel ready packaging. The scent itself is always a surprise to me, although I’ve known it for several years. And its smokey, woodsy, musky, tea scent always brings out unique nuances in the environment I am exploring. I reached for Skive just once. At the Lamanai Lodge deep in the jungle. On a night when I got the itch to enjoy a scotch at the lodge bar. Stay up late listening to the songs of night critters as the Howler monkeys finished their last throaty bellows. The smooth smokiness matched the scotch and the sounds. I felt far away.
Once, as an experiment I put some drops of Butterfly into a pair of smelly sneakers. My brilliant idea did nothing to mask this funk. Then they just smelled like funk and Butterfly. C’est la vie. They are now sitting with good ol’ baking soda.
Interestingly, the lush intensity of the jungle softened all the fragrances, and I was really digging DuskBlossom with Butterfly as I wandered around under massive vine covered trees investigating endless variations of miniscule mosses.
In the off-the-beaten-track shop of Miss Garcia I hit gold in the form of Copal Resin. Miss Garcia opened the door of her pink shop to us on a Saturday night. Her smile and transcendent Saturday night copal smudging scent greeted us. Still soft and fresh, she unwrapped the copal and cut me off a 1/4 pound piece. I mentioned I wanted to tincture it for perfume, and she instructed that it should soak for 9 days, a sacred number as per the Mayans.
I left the shop floating on an incense cloud basking in the radiance of the kindly Miss Garcia.
I will tincture some in organic alcohol and oil. For 9 days, as recommended.
Incidentally, Copal is a resin from the Copal Protium Tree. It is used mostly as an incense but can add a lovely incense base note to perfumes. A bit like Frankincense only sweeter and more ethereal.
Mayan Faeries – The Alux
This dapper fellow and frequent travel companion is my dad. In addition to being an incredibly literate professor, he shares my curiosity in faeries. He always gets his question out in the most serious and professorial of manners, asking our local guides what they know of the Alux (pronounced ah-loosh) a Mayan sprite or faerie.
As children our Belizean guides were cautioned not to go into caves. In the caves the Alux lie in wait and will get you. And parents are advised to have more than 1 child as the Alux are less likely to talk a child into going off with him if a sibling is present.
“Does anyone ever come back from there after being caught?” asks yours truly.
Now, doesn’t that make you just a touch suspicious? Don’t you wonder what it’s like in the land of the Alux? Maybe it’s super nice and the children don’t WANT to come back… Hmmm.
Belize & Guatemala Part II coming very soon..
In the meantime for more scented beauty, check out Julie Johnson’s blog –
Xkeban was lusty as she was beautiful. Lust coursed through her body unchecked. A libido as big as the hot at the peak of a summer’s day in the Yucatecan jungle when you can do nothing but lay in your hammock and sweat, too hot to even fan. That’s how big her lust was.
That’s right, I said, unchecked. And in the little Mayan village where Xkeban lived, the sway of her hips as she lead her many lovers off to her palapa or worse yet, to the jungle, filled the more sanctimonious villagers with condemnation.
And in the hearts of the villagers, the Yucatecan heat blazed in a hell-storm of fiery condemnation for that “floozy,” Xkeban. And fan this fire they would. Especially one villager named Utz-Colel.
Utz-Colel was just as beautiful as Xkeban, but she was pious. She did not let her secret passions drive her to look brazenly into the eyes of the men. Or to openly leer at the curve of their low backs, (you know, that dip just above a man’s buttocks where neatly fits a hand) as she “accidently” brushed her swelling breasts up against him in the market place to reach for the ripest mango. Nope. Utz-Colel did not even think of such things. She did not give into these passions merely because it “felt natural” as Xcaben was prone to. Really. No, never.
Yet… whom was it the villagers called for when they were ill and needed someone to sit by their sick beds dampening their fevered foreheads? And who was it that took in the goats when past milking age? And the old dogs too lazy and useless?
Have you guessed it? Not the pious Utz-Colel, but Xkeban. Because Xkeban’s heart was as big and kindly as her lust. Truly, even bigger. And while Xkeban would use the finery gifted her by her lovers to feed the indigent. Utz-Colel would scorn those below her while she twisted her ribbons and dark thoughts into her black braids. For inside she was bitter and Utz-Colel’s heart was cold as snakeskin.
One day a most delicate and sweet perfume filled the air of the little village. The sublime intoxicating effects of this aroma caused all to seek its source, leading them to the home of that (good-hearted) slut, Xkeban. Her time amongst the living was done and there she lay, and from her wasted body emanated this fine perfume.
Well, Utz-Colel was in disbelief and swore up and down that when she died she would smell one hundred times better than that whore, Xkeban…
A few good-hearted individuals who remembered Xkeban’s kindnesses arranged for her burial. The next morning the fragrance was even more pronounced. Scent intoxicated once again, the villagers followed the perfume to the grave of Xkeban to find darling little flowers, the Xtabentun flowers, had proliferated on her grave!
Time passed and, I suppose you can guess what happened when pious and haughty Utz-Colel died. From her body emanated a foul stench so unbearable the villagers could barely stand to plant her in the earth upon which they hastily flung various flower seeds before scurrying quickly off.
But the next day only a spiny, odorless, cactus flower, called the Tzacam flower bloomed.
Well from the other side of the grave, Utz-Colel became furious about this and arranged somehow (it’s a secret) to return from death and remedy this perfume problem. She decided she would wantonly seduce as many men as possible just as Xkeban had done. Then she too could smell of fine perfume and produce darling little flowers on her grave.
Now here is where my tale turns cautionary. So listen up, those of you who think this seduction plan is sounding… interesting.
Villagers beware! Utz-Colel has now taken to posing sensuously under the Ceiba tree at the edge of the village, languidly combing her long black hair. And if she lures you into the jungle with the sway of her ample hips in the delirious heat of a Yucatecan summer’s afternoon, you will not be seen in the village again. For the bitter, soul-stealing sex of Utz-Colel is like making love to an odorless cactus flower on a foul and cold snakeskin bed, and it is believed her savage wrath against Xkeban will be your demise. Really.
Just thought you’d like to know.
This tale is my retelling of a traditional Mayan tale. It is an absolute true story of how the Xtabentun and Tzacam flowers came to exist. If you don’t believe me then just go ahead into the jungle with Utz-Colel and see for yourself.
~For My Mom~
This month will find me heading to the Yucatan Peninsula as a tour leader for my parents company Mexi-Mayan Travel. We’ve a group of lively and curious travelers including my parents. All avid learners and explorers and some archeologists and anthropologists. We’ll explore Mayan culture and history as well as the local flora and fauna. There’ll likely be some margaritas and excellent sea food…
As special gift to our group I’ll create for them a fragrance based on their group scent memories of our journey. Each person picking one or two outstanding (pleasant) scent memories. Then I’ll blend it up!
“Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine,
freedom, and a little flower.” ~ Hans Christian Anderson
~Here and There and Back Again~
In Which We Explore My Being Butterfly & You Being Butterfly, Butterfly Medicine & Faerie Magic, A New Perfume, and Maryland
Are You My Butterfly Buddy?
Do you suffer from “Shiny Object Syndrome?” Do all the glittering things find you landing lightly, following multiple passions, exploring and traveling?
You may be butterfly in nature, like I. With magical super powers to perceive colors mere mortals do not and to smell with smell receptors (noses) all over your body. How can one be expected to limit oneself in the face of all this luxury?
Yes, butterflies are a beautiful thing. But sometimes us butterfly types get a bit of stigma as being, well, flighty.
(Like this particular blog post. It is going to flutter. Reader, beware!)
Of late I have been indulging in my butterfly tendencies, big time. In January 2016, I gave up my condo and jobs and have been living the gypsy life. An imperfect nomad’s life with the heart of a butterfly. Fluttering along with me is my dog, Missy, and my verdant faerie perfumery in search of nature, beauty, magic, and of course, faeries.
Since January I have been to Guatemala, Michigan, Mexico (twice), Canada, Oregon, Montana, New York, and back and forth from Chicago to Maryland a bunch of times. My theme for 2016 is action. Could you have guessed?
It’s been wonderful, and I am at an all time happiness high. I could not have done it without the help of very kind and generous people. So I’m feeling extremely grateful too.
But sometimes I question my seemingly ill-advised life choices. If you are also a butterfly you may nodding your antennae in agreement.
So I went on some faerie meditation journeys to explore all of these yearnings for freedom and lightness and shimmery beauty, and it’s accompanying self shaming.
In these journeys I organically connected to, and then made peace with, my butterflyness. All synchronistically confirmed to me in the mortal realm with butterfly references in movies and podcasts I stumbled upon, faerie card readings, friends observations, and of course actual butterflies visitations.
You know how that happens. You think of or experience something of deep significance, and then it’s everywhere. Synchronistic.
And the healing I have found is that it is ok to be a butterfly. It is ok to be me. In fact it’s wonderful.
So, dear Reader, are you also a bit of butterfly, filled with yearnings for sunshine, freedom, and a little flower? And do you have a bit of angst about it as I did? It is not generally encouraged in human society. Have you noticed? We are expected to stay put and focus. Of course there is nothing wrong with focus and productivity, but these expectations have sometimes made me feel bad about myself. Just a touch.
Let’s be proud of our inner butterfly and flaunt it in the shining sun!
Recently while in Kauai, I discovered a beautiful flower meditation to manifest radical self love. Give it a try!
If you are not a butterfly type – why not give butterfly style a go? Allow your senses to expand and experience more – grow some powerful yet delicate wings to flitterfly a little. What new hobbies can you explore? Where would you really love to visit? DO IT!
Some Butterfly Dope
verdant faerie loves beauty, perfume, and travel. Hence, the superpowers of the butterfly are swoon worthy.
The lucky creatures smell more than us. That is, they are more sensitive to scent perception. Butterflies have scent receptors studded along the antennae, legs, feet, and other parts of the body.
Butterflies see colors we don’t. With 5 or 6 color receptors to a humans 3, a butterfly’s eyes see more than twice the colors of humans. Butterflies perceive more color than any other creature (except maybe faeries). Dogs have the least. Sorry, Missy.
Those flutterby creatures have a surprising reserve of strength and stamina. Some butterflies even migrate. The Monarch butterfly can migrate up to 2500 miles and the top butterfly speed is 12 miles per hour.
The exquisite butterfly brings transformation and magic. A universal symbol of joy – their dancing beauty inspires.
When the butterfly visits you, or you are feelin’ your inner butterfly flutter, you are ready for personal growth and emergence. Ready yourself to experience any one of its life phases, caterpillar, pupae, butterfly. You may find yourself ravenously hungry, reading and studying voraciously like a caterpillar, or in need of a lengthy inner journey, pupae style. Or you may soon gloriously emerge to explore the world with your ultra-keen, superpower senses.
Often times the visit of a butterfly coincides with a remembrance of a deceased loved one, a particularly beautiful and light being who graced your life with sweetness.
(Psst- faeries often choose to disguise themselves as butterflies…)
In Faerie Faith, faeries of the air are creatures of the city of the east, Gorias. One of the four cities of the Tuatha de Danaan, from the tribe of the Goddess Danu. The east brings the sunrise and new beginnings and hope. Look to the faeries of the air and butterfly allies to aid you in your intentions especially when embarking on a new project, or if a situation might benefit with a dazzling butterfly touch.
If you would like to experience a more through Faerie tradition for yourself, I can recommend the teachings of Celtic Shaman, Danu Forest. At present, I am enjoying the Faerie Teachings course. It’s a wonderful addition to my spiritual practice and interaction with the world of Faerie. Her website is wondrous to browse.
Aromatherapeutic Perfume – Because Jet-Lag Happens
After returning from my last trip back from Hawaii I had really really bad terrible rotten jet-lag. Day one I lollygagged about on a lounge chair, limp and deflated. But on day two when I still felt my butterfly wings wilting on the chaise, I mixed myself an aromatherapeutic blend. And know what? It worked! I was back to my usual self.
I’ve found it’s also fantastic for staying alert while driving on long road trips.
And I’d like to share it with you!
Butterfly is composed of highest quality all natural essential oils. No harsh synthetic aroma-chemicals whatsoever. Not a one. It is a unisex body scent.
The Scent -
Refreshing Pink Grapefruit, Mint, and Rosemary to uplift
Lavender, Geranium, and Clary Sage to balance and calm
Patchouli for grounding.
Butterfly is in a roll-on applicator bottle, in an oil base of organic fractionated coconut oil. It is light and sheer and easy for transport.
Butterfly is made special order for you. If you want a particular scent tweak on it, let me know!
And, as it is primarily a therapeutic composition, it is not composed to last a long time on your skin. It’s function is to provide a quick mood and energy shift and then free you up. Like a butterfly landing lightly, touching with magical grace, then fluttering off.
You may order Butterfly from my verdant faerie Etsy shop. Cost is $25 per 8 ML bottle.
In closing I would like to share some photos of beautiful verdant Maryland fairieland where I encountered exquisite faerie creatures and people, was housed like a queen butterfly by kindly friends, house sat, made perfumes, taught aerial yoga, trained a wee bit on silks, learned a wee bit about gardening, visited watery and enchanting places, and went on dreamy shamanic faerie quests.
Missy and I have driven back and forth again from Chicago to Maryland 4 times in 2016! It is a special place in my heart for it’s verdant natural beauty and quirky magical faerie culture. I am forever grateful for the charming healing heart of Maryland.
Here’s some pics from the annual Faerie House Exhibit at the AnneMarie Sculpture Garden (a wonderful place with sculpture and interactive exhibits) where I neglected to take a picture of my kind hostess and new faerie friend, Holly and I together. But here is the house Holly made for the exhibit. The Emerald City made of recycled materials!
If you like aerial yoga or are looking for a place to train on silks – Try Ridgely Retreat for yoga in Annapolis and Urban Evolution for silks in Baltimore. Really nice folks…
Well, after wandering and roaming these past 9 months, I feel a bit ready to dig in deep with my perfume and writing and connect with loved ones and loved activities. I’ll be hanging out in Chicago, and nearby Michigan. That is unless I happen to need to off somewhere. You never know what’ll happen with a butterfly, or a Missy, behind the wheel…
Well, how about love? Self love. Big love. Unconditional love. Love of dark places of the psyche, and light places too. Gracious, forgiving love. Lover of love. Yup, especially self-love. Simply, right here, right now. Loving the self so intensely it emanates from self like the fragrance of blossoms, permeating the air with sweetness and subtly infusing beauty and more love.
As you may or may not know, I’m living a nomadic existence. I find each place I visit holds a theme, a special message for me. My recent stay in Kauai was not an exception. And the message was, and is, love. Right here and right now, love.
Kauai is a treasure trove of botanic beauty. The island is one of the wettest places on earth, receiving more than 400″ of rain per year. The result is a florid, lush environment. For this, Kauai is fondly known as the emerald island.
Ever present aroma of flowers, White Ginger and Plumeria mingled with wet-green and salt-ocean welcomes. Visually stunning too, powerfully craggy and jagged, volcanic, mountainous shapes are smothered with verdant fecundity.
And something is uniquely inspiring about the quality of air and light in Kauai. Perhaps the angle of the sun, or the moisture in the air, or the frequent rainbows.
But for me the breezes perfumed with blossoms were the ultimate vehicle of transformation…
I had the unbelievably fantastic fortune to be the guest of a talented landscaping designer. Flowers were everywhere. It was impossible to escape their intoxicating perfume. Almost a delirium of scent. But a delirium that does not take one away from self, but to self. Spirit of blossoms spoke to me in scent, “Be here now, be love.”
I’d like to share with you a meditation that spontaneously came to me while in Kauai. Inspired by the overwhelming beauty and perfumed air. I am now on the mainland and have since practiced it wearing essential oils. Still good.
This morning I wore Rose Otto for love, Frankincense and Sandalwood for their meditative properties, and Neroli for sparkle. You may use any scent that speaks to you. However I do recommend natural floral fragrances. In my opinion synthetic fragrances do not have equal energetic vibrancies. (This lengthy topic is for another blog!)
Read through the meditation once, and set aside a little time to enjoy it on your own. Just follow your memory and heart.
Before the meditation I recommend applying fragrance to the inner wrists, breast bone (heart chakra), between brows (third eye), and ear lobes (like the sufis). If you don’t like to have it on your body, put some drips of the fragrance on a tissue or cotton ball.
Sit in a comfortable position. Make sure your back feels supported, and that you can line your vertebras up comfortably. Lay down, if you won’t just snooze off. Take some deep inhalations of your fragrance.
Now, let your breath just be however it wants to be. Don’t try to control or shape it. Screw the deep breathing or any other techniques you know. Just observe breath entering and leaving the body. Abstain from assessing or judgement. Let it do what it naturally wants. Observe your breath as you might observe something very dear to you. With curiosity, compassion, love. As you’d observe a child at play, your lover, a kitten, a beautiful sunset. If you find yourself pushing or becoming frustrated with yourself, (dammit! I am not loving!) turn up the corners of your mouth into a slight smile, and send love to the part of yourself that is being harsh, judgmental, and generally a shit. Just acknowledge it for what it is and love it anyway.
Allow this gentle observance to continue and add a layer. This is where you get to use imagination.
In your mind’s eye, see a flower in your heart center. Imagine its color(s) and the petals. Now imagine this flower expanding and growing until it fills the entire inside of your body, so you are essentially one large blossom. The center of the flower is your heart center. Stay with this image for a time.
How does it feel? Allow yourself to feel. Explore this sensation. It is real. Can you perhaps feel the petals softening you? What else do you notice?
When you feel ready, add another layer. See the fragrance of the flower emanating. Allow the scent to become a visual for you. What color is this aroma? Can you see it swirling around inside of you? Does it create patterns? Does it move in waves or in a steady rhythm?
Now let the flower and its fragrance begin to soften the boundary of your physical body from the inside, permitting your edges to soften and the essence and aroma of the flower to swirl out of your body to fill your aura. If you are unsure of your aura, imagine your physical body is in a sort of bubble and fill this with scent.
Feel into the energetic essence of this flower. If this seems strange to you. Don’t worry about it, just go with it. Try not to judge and again, just feel. Perhaps folding your hands gently over your heart chakra will help you to feel or deepen the sensation.
There is such sweetness there – in your heart.
Here you may even say to yourself, out loud or internally, “I love you (your name here).” Go ahead, repeat this several times until it is comfortable & natural.
Linger with this sensation as long as you please. When you are satiated, feel the energy, aroma, and the very flower get smaller until it is enshrined in your heart. There you may carry it everywhere and call it forward anytime you need a touch up of self loving.
It’s nice to ground yourself with a little food and drink after a journey like this.
Other than meditating, here are some of my favorite recommendations if you are in Kauai…
It’s a bit of a hike, and not really that secret (just ask a local). Not really a swimmers beach, but it’s so beautiful and a little more secluded. Clothing is optional.
Call ahead and find out when the live Hula dancer and music is happening. Get reservations. Get up and dance – I did! (The drinks were not as wonderful as my hostess’ creations, as pictured above, but the view and music is great.) Hey – and I noticed that most Hawaiian songs seem to be love songs for the people, land, and customs of Hawaii!
A mini Grand Canyon. Here the land goes from arid dessert to pine forest to lush rainforest. The hike at the very end of the road is amazing, but incredibly muddy and rather challenging. Bring hiking boots! There will be mud!
An charming and intimate yoga studio in a picturesque stone building. Open windows. Ocean in view. I took Amy Lin’s advanced flow on Friday. A delicious, sweaty 1 hour and 45 minutes of play and spirit and good challenge. Yum.
This is so worth the visit. The grounds are amazing as are tours. Call ahead to the monastery and find out when the tours run for they are not all that frequent. Nearby there is a Rudraksha Grove for picnicking and collecting brilliant blue Rudraksha seeds, or dried Rudraksha beads for malas.
Also, “drive to the end of the road.”
There are some cool caves, fresh coconut water stands, another hiking trail, and a beautiful beach. Then you can buy a tee-shirt in Hanalei saying “I drove to the end of the road.” That is, if you ever come back…
Thanks for reading! If you try the meditation, I’d love to hear about it. Love to you…
This post dedicated with love to my dear friends/family, Deborah, David, and Lulu. Mahalo forever.