Float Tanks: Gateway to Infinite Being

"The sensory deprivation chamber has been the most important tool that I've ever used for developing the mind, for thinking, for evolving..." -Joe Rogan

TehyaFloats
TehyaFloats
Yuba Float
Yuba Float

"The float tank is like a gateway to infinite being" -Michael Hutchison

As far back as my memory stretches, floating on my back in water has been my favorite thing to do. My daughter Mycelia, pictured above, takes after her mama and her grandmama in her desire to be surrounded by water whenever possible. I'm known for my epic bath taking, I've had near orgasmic experiences swimming in the Yuba river, and in my most epic Big Dreams I have been floating on my back in water.

When I was a adolescent I randomly watched the movie Altered States on T.V. It's a really bizarre film and I don't remember much of it, except that the dude turned into a monkey and it featured isolation (or float) tanks. And I was captivated. Since that moment, over 20 years ago, I've deeply desired to experience one. It's so many things I love in one! Water, floating, quiet, going inward. But I'd never heard of one being available to the public, accessible by me, and over the years I let the possibility of it fade from my consciousness. Until recently.

FloatTank
FloatTank

Isolation tanks were invented by John C. Lilly in the 1950s. If you've never heard of John Lilly, allow the second paragraph of his Wikipedia page to blow your mind:

"He was a researcher of human consciousness using mainly isolation tanks, dolphin communication, and psychedelic drugs, sometimes in combination."

As you might imagine, he was a controversial figure, and he did make some ethically questionable choices (like giving LSD to dolphins). But he inspired a whole generation of consciousness explorers and float enthusiasts, and I have been inspired by his work since I first learned about him in my teens.

Let me clarify that the language seems to have shifted in the public discourse from isolation tank to float tank, though both terms are still used and the sensory deprivation is certainly an important aspect of the experience. Lilly developed these tanks in order to answer the question of whether or not consciousness exists without external stimuli, so his intention was to create a space where a person could see no light, hear no sound, and have no gravity pressing on their body. The temperature of the water is kept at the same temperature as human skin (92 degrees, cooler than our internal 98 degree temp) so that changes in temperature aren't even felt. The tanks that remain true to Lilly's vision today keep all of these conditions in place (though you can usually choose to leave the door to the tank open if you think you'll feel fearful or claustrophobic and many tanks have low lighting available inside, and relaxing music is an option at some centers).

Oh and, of course, Lilly succeeded in proving that consciousness exists even without external stimuli. He knew what ancient sages and today's scientists have confirmed- consciousness precedes form and is the primary force of the universe.

So today, as floating is making a strong and much-needed resurgence in the culture at large, people use the tanks more as a place to relax than as a sensory deprivation experiment.

ZeroGravityInstituteFloatTank
ZeroGravityInstituteFloatTank

And relax you do! Floating in hundreds of pounds of Epsom salts allows the body to, for the first time since it was in utero, exist in zero gravity. The salts keep you buoyant so that you can completely relax your body and not have to concentrate on keeping your face above water, while also providing soothing minerals to the body and skin. But it's the zero gravity concept that's most important here- once we are freed from the constraints of the laws of physics that our bodies have been subject to since we first shot out of the interdimensional portal that is our mother's vagina (image and phrasing courtesy of my favorite person ever, Duncan Trussell, mentioned below), our physical systems can relax in a way they've never been able to before.

This state of relaxation allows the body to go into the ever-elusive parasympathetic state, where all deep healing and physical regeneration occurs. We spend most of our busy lives in the go-go-go sympathetic state, Getting Shit Done. I know that I am not alone in feeling like there is never enough time or money, that my to-do list in infinitely long and utterly untackle-able, and that I want nothing more than to feel that state of carefree relaxation I felt as a child. I exist in a constant state of low level anxiety, sometimes upped to high level anxiety, and deal with persistent unexplained pain on the right side of my body, headaches a few times a week, and frequent sleeplessness when all I want/need to do is rest deeply.

blue-mandala
blue-mandala

Most of you are nodding your heads in empathy right now, because you experience the same state of constant stress that our modern way of life creates and perpetuates. You too exist somewhere along this stress spectrum, and you also crave true relaxation. And you deserve it. And there is likely a float tank near you to help you get there.

Being freed from the gravitas of gravity and allowing the nervous system to switch from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic state, the body can now focus on regeneration and cellular-level healing. Blood flow is stimulated through all of the organs and tissues, pain relieving natural endorphins are released, and the brain begins to emit the alpha and/or theta waves that are generated during deep states of meditation and relaxation. No matter what your particular physical or emotional or mental issue is, this state is the one you want to be in to begin to heal it. And, in my opinion, floating is the quickest and safest way to get you there.

Which brings me to the story of how I got there.

I am a huge fan of podcasts, and especially love The Tripodcasts put out by Duncan Trussell, Dr. Christopher Ryan (author of Sex At Dawn, which I've posted about elsewhere), and Joe Rogan. Every minute of every one of them has been captivating, enlightening, and funny. All these dudes are consciousness explorers, and lately they've been talking a lot about float tanks. Joe has one in his home (seriously, ultimate life dream) and Chris recently visited the Zero Gravity Institute in Texas and recorded a podcast with owner Kevin Johnson.

I highly recommend listening to that episode to learn a little more about the history of float tanks, including how the misunderstanding of how AIDS was spread in the 80's led to a decline in their use, how his company is working with veterans suffering from PTSD to alleviate their symptoms (which is amazing, since only psychedelics have been found to have such promising results in the treatment of PTSD and basically no other treatment protocols have any effect), and how pregnant women benefit from experiencing a womb-like environment similar to their unborn child's. Chris does an excellent job of addressing the concerns he had about floating before trying it out; if you have similar hangups their discussion will shed some light on the reality of floating versus the common fears and misperceptions people often have.

ZeroGravityInstitute
ZeroGravityInstitute

"You can have very introspective, psychedelic experiences naturally in the tank."-Joe Rogan

So, hearing these podcasts very much reawakened my desire to experience a float tank. I remembered being told by someone I met after Duncan's stand-up set in San Francisco last year that there was a tank in my area. I didn't really believe this since the person didn't live here and I'd never heard of it. But I recently decided to check into it and started asking around. Soon I was given the phone number for Lee at Samadhi Tank in Grass Valley.

But I didn't call. I was too busy y'all! I was Getting Shit Done! And not sleeping and having constant headaches and pain. It wasn't until I rushed down to Bakersfield to be with my dying grandmother last month that I realized it was time to carve out some space for floating. I considered driving to Los Angeles or Fresno to float during those few days, but ended up just calling Lee instead and scheduling an appointment in my own town a few days hence. I was ecstatic when I hung up the phone. Ecstatic.

And that ecstasy turned into profound gratitude and wonder when I went to the Samadhi Tank website and discovered that not only were they the original float tank manufacturers, but that they were 10 minutes from my front door. Which is out in the boonies, completely removed (oftentimes to my dismay) from all of the people and places that are central to my life. For 20 years I had desired to float and felt it was an elusive experience that was beyond me geographically, financially, and logistically, and now here I was realizing that the people who first brought float tanks to the public and are the elders of the movement (since John Lilly has passed) live 10 minutes from my isolated country home!

The Book of Floating
The Book of Floating

Which brings me to a point Lee makes in the foreword she wrote for The Book of Floating, which she generously gifted me after my third float (generous is very much a word that describes this beautiful woman's spirit). She tells the story of how this gorgeously intricate Huichol yarn painting (which I've seen up close and is absolutely exquisite) came to grace the cover of this second edition of the book. The work was done by a Huichol shaman who had floated in John Lilly's tank, and John left it to Lee and Glenn when he passed. They were almost sure they wouldn't be able to obtain the artist's permission to use the piece for the cover, as he lived in an isolated indigenous community deep in the uncharted mountains of Mexico. Lee writes, "You're probably guessing that some amazing coincidence is about to be revealed because first- you've already seen the cover- and next, we're dealing with the flotation tank, Dr. John Lilly's invention, and of course coincidence control is about to take over." I love that phrase- coincidence control- and it so perfectly captures my experience of finding Lee and Glenn and Samadhi Tank! And fits in with a few other stories Lee has told me about the history and evolution of Samadhi too. When people are doing good work and offering true healing to the world, the right people and events find their way to them. And yes, through a series of perfect synchronicities they were able to track the man down at the last possible moment and get his signature, a story I recommend reading in Lee's own words from the book!

I sat down with Lee after my first float and asked her to tell me how she and Glenn came to be doing what they have been doing for the last 40 years. And she told me their story. In 1972, before they had met, Glenn was a computer programmer working for Xerox and suffering from extreme social anxiety. He had a very hard time interacting with co-workers and could not speak to more than one person at a time. That year he attended a workshop held by John Lilly, who by that time was a counterculture hero whose work with consciousness was well known in certain circles.

At that time the only tanks in existence had been made by John and had been experienced only by people he knew or who came to his workshops. Glenn got to float in John's tank at this workshop, and when he emerged John asked him to tell the group about his experience. Glenn started talking and before long realized, with amazement, that he was addressing a group of people easily and without fear. This profound change had come about as the result of his short time in the float tank. By the end of the workshop Glenn knew what he wanted to do from then on and asked John's permission to manufacture and distribute float tanks to the general public. John gave his blessing; he wasn't interested in creating a business out of the tanks but did want more people to have the experience.

Lee came into the picture a few years later and the two of them have made and sold float tanks ever since, first in Los Angeles, where they opened the first ever commercial float center in Beverly Hills, and now in Grass Valley.

Margaret Howe
Margaret Howe

One of the things that has always stayed with me since I first learned about John Lilly many years ago was that, in 1965 during his intensive dolphin research days, his assistant Margaret Howe shared a living space with a  dolphin named Peter and interacted with him daily for 10 weeks. Whales and dolphins have been my spirit animals since before I ever heard that term (in some serious foreshadowing to the amateur researcher, blogger, and aspiring book writer I would become- I used to write reports about them for fun during childhood summer vacations), and I am convinced that cetacean consciousness holds important keys for the development of human consciousness and the preservation of life on earth.

Which is why I was absolutely thrilled to learn that Lee had actually swum with some of Lilly's dolphins back in the early 80s when he was continuing with his cetacean research! To be standing face to face with a woman who had actually had this experience, which I had fantasized about for years, was such an honor. I mean I would love to swim with wild dolphins, but I spent many a youthful hour picturing myself swimming with Lilly's dolphins in their little pools and getting to know them that intimately.

lilly_leary_perry_tank_Feb1996-1
lilly_leary_perry_tank_Feb1996-1

Glenn (right) and Lee also got to spend some time with Timothy Leary (middle) as he was dying in 1996. John Lilly (left) had called them to say that Leary was nearing the transition and in pain and that a tank would be helpful for him, and they happily obliged. You can read that whole story here.

Meeting Lee and Glenn has been an honor and a blessing beyond words. I've gotten teary-eyed a number of times since meeting them. Between them and the many eminent elders in the psychedelic movement whom I met at the Women's Visionary Congress, I am beside myself with how lucky I am to get to know some the people who started the revolution in consciousness that I fancy myself a continuing part of now. Meeting the people I have had serious hero worship for since my teens, or the people who knew them firsthand, is an experience that continues to blow my mind with its gracious blessings.

Lee and Glenn are a testament to the benefits of long term floating- they are centered, present, and loving people who emanate warmth and compassion while serving their fellow humans.

Locals: Call them! Meet them! Float! 530-477-1319

www.SamadhiTank.com

I cannot wait to get more floats under my belt, as I see and hear and read so clearly that there really is a cumulative effect to the practice. Thus far my experience has been one of profound physical relaxation, but my mind has yet to quiet and go into the meditative state that I have experience in brief glimpses in the past. I can't even imagine who I will become and how my life will change in the coming years as I continue to make floating a priority and a consistent and sacred ritual.

Samadhi Tanks Grass Valley CA
Samadhi Tanks Grass Valley CA

One of, if not the, biggest things that has come out of all of this for me is that, in the weeks since I first started working on this post, Lee & Glenn offered me a job writing for Samadhi Tank! And we have gotten some good work done. The first time I pulled into their dirt road driveway and saw the painting on the side of a building shown above (elephants being the other big animal energy in my life), I had a subtle but strong feeling that my future would be bound up in this place. As soon as I stepped into the float room a few minutes later that feeling strengthened, but I had no idea how that would happen or if it even really would. It has been my dream to make money writing since I was a tiny child, and I still can't believe that I get to combine floating & writing- two childhood dreams- into AN ACTUAL JOB. This came about partly because they read this here blog & liked what they saw, but also partly because amazing things happen when you start floating. While I can't say that I have had any life-changing epiphanies inside the tank, just about everything that wasn't flowing in my life has started to flow almost effortlessly since I've been floating. Spending that time in the tank has influenced everything that's happened outside the tank.

The tank is a magnifier, a clarifier, and an activator.

TheWellOfRemembrance
TheWellOfRemembrance

Delving deep into the Well of Remembrance- floating has reactivated my deepest soul longings and brought my dreams into reality.

Floating brings you quickly and deeply into Presence, into pure Beingness. With time and practice, rumination over the past and worry over the future begin to fall away. This is why John Lilly bequeathed the name Samadhi onto Lee & Glenn's fledgling tank company. Samadhi, in ancient yogic philosophy, is the purest level of consciousness.

Physically, I find that floating effects me in different ways on different days. There is a lot of information out there about the seemingly endless ways floating will benefit your life, but the truth is that works different ways for different people at different times. Sometimes I walk out of the tank in a dreamlike daze, shaking off a relaxation so deep I have to wait a few minutes before I'm able to drive. Sometimes I pop out like a cork and find myself in an incredibly clear and energized state of mind with ideas pouring out of me faster than I can do something useful with them! The Book of Floating will give you a very thorough idea of the physical benefits possible with floating, but you'll have to find out for yourself how it effects your mind & spirit :-)

Oh! And I am going to the Float Conference in Portland with Lee & Glenn the second weekend in August!!!

SirensInTraining
SirensInTraining

I encourage you to find a float center near you, get in & go inward, and see what gestates & is birthed anew!

▲ Top photo is of Tehya in a cosmic surrender ▼

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30 Years of Therapy in One Night: Healing From Within w/ Psychedelics

"At the deepest level, our consciousness is what we are- to the extent that we are not sovereign over our own consciousness then we cannot in any meaningful sense be sovereign over anything else either"

-Graham Hancock

Amber Lyon of Reset.me, who I first heard about on the Duncan Trussell Family Hour podcast, has done the human family an enormous favor by distilling decades of psychedelic research into one pretty animated infographic. Finally, a user-friendly way to share this information with the people in our lives who still may be stuck in fear-based thinking about these powerful medicines. Watch it. Learn it. Share it.

Solar Blessings: Handcrafted St. John's Wort Oil, Deeply Penetrating Herbal Healing

These 4oz bottles of organic St. John's Wort body oil are now available in the shop!

As you can see, I rocked the shit out of my little river photo shoot the other night. Not that I can take credit for this gorgeous image. It's all the oil, the river, and especially the sunshine. I can't help but feel that the red sunlight fairies that showed up in these photos are little blessings on this whole endeavor, some sort of magical infusion gifted from the sun at this final step of the months-long medicine making process.

You can read a full description of this medicine's many beneficial properties within the Etsy listing, but I will include a short list of them here:

❤ carries the properties of the full summer sun with it into the body's tissues

❤ deeply relaxing to sore and stressed muscles

❤ quickly penetrates, strengthens, and nourishes the nerves to alleviate short or long-term nerve damage and pain

❤ warms and calms the entire body

❤ soothes and heals bumps, bruises, sprains, burns, etc.

I've been promising a post on the whole process for a while now, so here it is. To be sure, it's the same process as the homemade lavender oil I posted about a while back, but it bears repeating. Homemade herbal medicine is so simple and beneficial, I'll do whatever I can to teach others how to do it :-)

It all started on the Summer Solstice back in June, when Mycelia and I set out to harvest more St. John's Wort (hypericum perforatum) than we have in years past, while being sure to leave enough for it to re-seed and continue to flourish here. My sister Lacey also helped with the gathering.

You know you've got the right plant when bruising it leaves deep red marks on your fingers. This is from the hypericin, the active medicinal compound that turns the tincture and the oil made from the plant the incredible red color that it's famous for..

 

On a mission.

When we got home I quickly got to work chopping up the herb into as many small pieces as possible; the more surface area of the plant material that comes into contact with the medium extracting its medicinal properties (in this case, the organic olive oil), the stronger the medicine will be.

Next the oil is poured over the top of the herb, which has already been placed into the steeping container. Herbalists differ in the herb-to-oil ratio they use. I tend to be pretty free form with it and just put as much plant material as I've got into the jar, then add the oil. You want to fill the jar to the very, very top, leaving zero room for air once the lid has been put on. So the top of the oil is touching the bottom of the lid. No air = no mold. Slowly stirring a chopstick through before you top it off will bring any air bubbles up to the surface, and you also want to remove the lid every few days to see if more oil needs to be added (it has a sneaky way of lowering once the steeping process begins).

When all was said and done, I had 5 gallons! I like to steep my herbs for one full moon cycle. This year the Solstice coincided with the new moon, so the oil brewed between the June and July new moons.

The infusing process with St. John's Wort is more visually rewarding to behold than with any other herbal medicine, due to the ruby red hue that the hypericin imparts to the liquid medium over time. It is truly satisfying to watch the liquid redden more day by day. (This is true for making it into a tincture for internal use as well, see my Etsy listing for more on what it is about this herb that makes it good for depression when taken internally and warming and relaxing when used externally).

When it was time to strain out the oil, Lacey and my friend Sarah were here to help. I gathered all the kitchen funnels I've got, along with some cheesecloth (though I learned from this experience that I prefer cotton muslin), and we got to work.

After the straining out (putting a large beach towel under the whole scene turned out to be a very good idea), I poured all five gallons into an eight gallon container to ensure that it was all evened out and each bottle would yield the exact same medicine.

The differences in color are due to the thickness of the oil. A gallon is deep red, a half gallon is jewel-hued and less opaque, and the 4oz bottles look more orange than red in some light.

I ordered the labels on Etsy and am very happy with how they turned out. The text reads: Gathered on the Summer Solstice at peak potency, this ruby-hued body oil is pure liquid sunshine. Deeply relaxing and warming to the musculature and nervous system, use it for isolated aches and pains or for total body realignment after a bustling day.

Here's the current scene in my kitchen window. It brings me much joy to look at every day.

Once again, you can read more about the healing properties of this oil and perhaps purchase a bottle (at a very reasonable price) here ❤ 

 

LOCALS: Message me if you'd like to meet up in person to get your bottle. You can either pay me in person then or pay via Etsy by using coupon code SUNSHINE at checkout, which will remove the shipping cost for your order.

Upside Down, Underwater, & Anew

Or how I came to be a believer in the Saturn Return. [singlepic id=291 w=500 h=350 float=]

This winter has been the most challenging time in my life. The postpartum year or so was pretty gnarly, but fairly stable compared to what's gone on over the past three months. My partner Graham and I came thisclose to splitting up (thereby splitting our family up), we lived in a waaay too small house under the thumb of an irrational, mean-hearted landlord, we struggled every day to come up with enough money to make ends meet, and we got into some hurtful and emotional personal drama with some of our best friends.

I felt like I was drowning, kicking my way to the surface, hoping for that break in the fabric of the water where it would give way to air. We searched constantly for a new home, new jobs, we talked and talked our way through our problems and the problems with our friends. But still there was no give. Nothing was shifting, despite my and our efforts.

During my last period I did some (apparently, very strong) "magic" in my own little way with the intention of deeply grounding and strongly centering myself in order to push through the stagnation.

And then last Monday I was driving along a curvy, scary road (Highway 20 between Nevada City and Truckee) in a rain/snow storm with three and a half year old Mycelia in back. I must have been lost in thought, because suddenly I realized that I had lost control of our truck, that it was slipsliding across the wet road. I don't remember what I did, tried to get it under control I suppose. But soon I saw that we were careening toward, fishtailing in a 180, right at the dirt embankment that had been to our right but was about to be to our left. The bed of the truck clipped it and...

Next thing I knew I woke up upside down. I didn't feel fear when the car was sliding around and I didn't feel it now either. I went into pure Mommy Survival Mode. Get myself out, then get her out. She was talking to me, "Mommy I'm hurt, mommy I'm hurt" so I knew that she was alive and aware. I unbuckled my seatbelt and turned around onto the roof/floor of the truck, opened the door, and climbed out. There were already two cars pulled over with men running to help (this is how I later realized that I had blacked out momentarily). I ran around to the other side of the car to get Mycie out but it had landed at such an angle that her door was dug into the earth, and I couldn't get it open. One of the men, in his 50's at least, exhibited some serious strength by pushing the side of the truck up out of the ground and was able to open the door for me. I reached in, undid her carseat buckles, and pulled my baby outta there. She had a bruise on her left eyelid and broken capillaries all around her eyes (and carseat strap indentations on her neck), and that was it. The right side of my neck was aching a bit, but the fight-or-flight hormones prevented me from feeling all the other little hurts until later.

The cops came, the ambulance came, I tried to rescue our various belongings from the truck. The EMT's loaded us into the ambulance and took us to the hospital. On the way Mycie chided the driver Mark for going too fast on slippery roads, and told Jerry, in back with us, to sit down and put on his seat belt. She was so amazing that day, and ever since. I see no signs of trauma in her. She has said a few times since then, in the car when we're driving, that she doesn't want us to "fall down" in the car again. I have researched car accident trauma in children and she is displaying no signs of it. She and I both went to a healer friend of mine and he did find some compression in her neck that he fixed right away, and I plan to have her get some craniosacral work soon. And I will continue to listen to her when she talks about it and be open to anything she may have to express.

As for me, the bodywork I received from my friend was invaluable. I had a rib out, compression in the neck, severe pain in my right neck (diagnosed in the ER as whiplash- my xrays were fine), and achy hips. All this I knew before seeing him. But it wasn't until I was lying there on his table that the bruises on my head were discovered. Now this was less than 24 hours after the crash, and I had been going through and processing a lot in that time, but how the ache and tenderness there evaded me is a mystery. It is now, four days later, what I feel the most. And what scares me the most. Head injuries can often wait months or even years to manifest. But I feel like this is okay, just normal bruising. To be expected after one's roof has literally caved in.

After the initial healing session I called Graham, who had just been at the tow truck place and had taken these photos:

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[singlepic id=288 w=500 h=350 float=]

[singlepic id=290 w=500 h=350 float=]

He said that the guys there were amazed that the driver had survived. I said to him, "Just imagine if someone had been in the passenger's seat, they'd be dead for sure." The reason I thought this is because, in the picture that I am so glad I thought to take at the crash scene (at the top of this post), I thought that the front seat facing the camera was the passenger's seat. I thought this because I crawled out the other side when I came to, and I didn't remember moving to the other side of the car to get out. But Graham pointed out to me, "Amber, that is the driver's side."

Holy. Shit. And then seeing the photos he took it's like "Ohhhh, no wonder the left top side of my head hurts like hell".

In the ambulance on the way to the hospital (they had a carseat for Mycie and I had to be strapped to the stretcher) I suddenly realized for the first time... Oh my god, we were protected. We should not have walked away from that. (And this was before I had seen Graham's photos and realized how dented in the driver's side headspace was!). I just got this overwhelming bodily feeling that some spirits or something had enveloped us in a warm bubble of *just enough space* and shielded us from the severity of the impact. I mean, she has a bruised EYELID, I have bruises on both sides of my head- if the parts of the car that hit us had penetrated a half, a quarter, of an inch deeper...

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I have always had a deep affinity for whales. And it was the whales who popped into my mind first as I lay there on the stretcher fully realizing what had happened and sending all my loving and grateful energy to whatever had been there with us. It seems so appropriate. Whales are so fucking grounded they're underwater. They move slowly, with intention, in their dark worlds, sending out and receiving vibrations to give them information about their surroundings and those close to them. Waking up upside down, knowing that my whole life had just changed, was like being momentarily submerged in an underwater womb of new beginnings. One of my first thoughts, hanging there, was "something really good had better come of this".

(A friend sent me a beautiful facebook message with the subject line HEALING LOVE after seeing the photos of the crash, and it included these lines: "This is proof and a big reminder that YOU HAVE A MOST IMPORTANT AND ESSENTIAL MISSION ON EARTH AT THIS TIME. That is it. And you have a momentum of blessings coming around to you as the snap back of what you put out into the dimensions of the world.")

And man that snap back started right away and has been awesome. A few days after the crash we found out that we got the house rental we had wanted! After months of searching and trying, this is *very* exciting news.

And the settlement money! The truck was listed on craigslist at the time of the crash. I had spun out in the rain last fall as well- a rear wheel truck with a light back is dangerous, and I never felt safe in that car. But the settlement money we have just received far exceeded the price we were asking on the car (due to the payment plan the folks who sold the truck to us had been on), and we can use it to move into the new place, pay off one of our credit cards, pay off Mycie's sweet little Waldorf preschool through the year, do some serious Violet Folklore shopping (!) so that I can really start rocking the shop once we are settled, and buy ourselves a new little family four wheel drive station wagon (or two).

So all of this makes me think of a radio interview I heard with the herbalist Rosemary Gladstar a few years ago. She ended up going off on a tangent about her Saturn Return and how life changing it was for her and this horrible car accident she was in during that time. I thought about how mine was coming up and just hoped that it would not involve a car accident. Luckily for me, my injuries were far less severe than hers. But nevertheless, it was a lesson.

Okay, so even though I have to say that nearly everything I've ever read about Aquarius seems to describe me pretty accurately, and even though I have found my friend Li's astronomy/astrology wisdom 100% accurate and helpful, I am still enough of a skeptic about astrology that I wasn't so sure I even believed in this "Saturn Return".

Until now. A friend said, "It is one of the realest things I know. Let it be your teacher." To which I replied, "Oh girl, it's schooling me." I mean, there was all the struggle of the last few months, and then I literally get flipped upside down, knocked unconscious, and then awaken to a new reality. That's exactly what the Saturn Return is about, and I am certainly paying attention to what is being revealed.

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Other really positive outcomes of this include the healing of relationships that had been strained (this sort of thing really makes you realize what and who is important, and what baggage it's time to let go of), and something that was really needed for me - a deeper spiritual connection with life, the universe, and all its manifestations. All of these important things that I had moved off to the periphery of my consciousness while in stressed out survival mode this winter are now center stage - my loved ones who have passed on, the whale spirits, water spirits, and the essences of the many plants and herbs that I love but had been greatly neglecting (calendula and yarrow keep coming up especially). I feel them again, and I feel that they were in the car with us at the moment of impact.

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It's crazy to think of all the little moments and decisions that led us to be in that car on that road at that moment. Six years ago our friends purchased the truck that they would later sell to us, making sure to buy one with a good crash safety rating. One year ago my friend decided to go into the Peace Corps, and at the time of the accident I was driving home from Tahoe where I was for her going away party. That morning I had decided to go home another route due to the weather warnings, and had literally made the decision to go the way I did after all at the last possible minute before the road forked.

Which is to say, it all feels "meant to be". As soon as I came to it all just felt right. It wasn't a conscious thought, just a knowledge. Like, "Okay. It happened. It's done. We're okay. Time to take the actions necessary to move on from here." I never felt regret or fear or "Nooooo!".

And I am consciously putting it out there to the universe that I am open to all the lessons to be learned from this, to all the communication from all my little guides, to any healing that comes at me from whatever direction.

This is just the beginning. Of a new life, a new consciousness, a new connection. I have found myself again and am ready to move forward with my family into what comes next, knowing that I have love and support all around me.

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