Archive for December, 2007

Solstice Fun, Animal Tracks & Hard Lessons by Rhiannon

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Welcome to my second blog post!  Hope you like it!  Enjoy.

I have an amazing tree house. I love it so much. My Papa and an intern made it for me.  It’s amazing because I sleep in it even in the winter with some blankets and actually there’s cracks in there so it makes it colder. When I wake up in the morning, I’m so glad to be still in my tree house! It’s so fun to have my very own tree house.
One time when I woke up in the morning I saw deer tracks going all over the place, leading right up to my tree house steps.  I felt like the deer kind of meant I was an extra special person. One time when I was bicycling, I saw turkey tracks all around the place. It was so funny thinking of that turkey walking around and around like that!  And it seemed the turkey  wanted a person like me to see those tracks.
Now lessons are sometimes hard, right?  So I have had hard lessons, too. Even my mama and papa have to have hard lessons too.  You’re always learning, no matter how old you get or smart you get or how wise you get, you’re always having lessons. So I’ve had some, too. Like paying attention, and being trustworthy and not sneaky.  And especially, about keeping a good attitude and not getting all dramatic and bummed out even when you don’t like the work.  Even my Mama Loba almost accidentally burned down the house cause she had left some sage burning on the porch. See? Everyone’s having lessons all the time… the trick is, are you learning from them?  If you try and try and try you will!
I can’t believe Solstice has come and gone already! The days go by so quickly, it’s unbelievable how fast they go. On Solstice we made pies and cookies and we also made ornaments for people. It’s fun to make wheat things for people even though I can’t eat wheat.  We decorated the house and covered it with lace which we do a lot for parties. And we decorated our rosemary plant pretty, too. We sometimes like to go for a little walk in the snow. And we like to go underneath trees when it’s snowy and pretend they’re faery houses. And we will sometimes eat the snow and pretend it’s different flavors. We have  a little river and across that river there’s a hill and on that hill is snow even when there’s snow not on the other side. Well there’s patches of ground that are not covered with snow.  So the places  that are covered with snow we call winter and the places that were not we call fall so we can go visit fall and winter.
Wild craft is a fun board-game we play.  Well it goes like this: there’s these children living with their grandmother. Their grandmother has taken them to the huckleberry patch many times. But now it’s time for them to go alone and they get lots of problems like nose bleeding and nettle stings and they have to find a plant to help them so you have to help them find a plant to help them. Plants are very important. They help people with all kinds of infections. They help with snake bites, jaw infections, and all kinds of things.  We’d be all dead if there were no plants in the world.  You can find more about the game on the internet.

Thank you for reading my blog post!

Rhiannon Cadhla Hardin

Principles & Commitments of the Medicine Woman

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Intention & Purpose
• Every Medicine Woman has an original nature, inherent potentials to be developed, dreams to be realized and a personal, most meaningful purpose to be fulfilled. Such purpose is in inevitably unique to the individual but also connects them to and helps them serve the collective whole.
• The Medicine Woman acts always out of compassion, truth, expression of real self and what matters most… the bettering or beautifying of the world.
• The Medicine Woman not only promotes but embodies integrity to the best of her ability. She practices radical honesty regardless of what it may cost her. Subterfuge, pretense and denial are not the ways of the Medicine Woman.
• A Medicine Woman develops and adheres to a personal code of honor in all matters at all times. Taking on this role begins the moment we commit ourselves to the principles and take on the challenges and doesn’t end until the moment we die. The Medicine Woman obeys nothing and no-one, but attends what matters and heeds what’s right. While she accepts discipline from no-one, it is through her self-discipline that she best realizes, actualizes and benefits.
• The Medicine Woman opens to rewards, savors success and embodies bliss.

Requirements & Creed
• The Medicine Woman is wild (willed), true to her own nature, not subject to the whims of others of the constraints of society. She revels in uninhibited sensual engagement with the world. Expresses her authentic being and fulfills her purpose, with no regard to so-called edicts or the systematic inculturated fears of the healing profession.
• Ability is not defined by age, but by experience, gifts, sensitivities, wisdom and results. The archetype of the wise woman is usually that of the elder, but of course not every elder is wise and even (or especially) children – unhindered by the imagined limitations and the fog of cultural perception – can have the capacity to afford us profound insights or have a pronounced healing effect.
• Authority rests with the individual, and certification of any kind does not guarantee or imply wisdom, ability or skill. The Medicine Woman Tradition is meant to be tested against the individual’s own experience, rather than simply accepted as prescribed dogma. Thus, the Medicine Woman Tradition does not accredit anyone. We impart a set of perceptual and practical tools that you can use to empower yourself, find your unique personal path, gather experience and earn credit when deserved. With any kind of service, real accreditation is bestowed by the people who are helped through our insights and efforts. Credibility accrues with wisdom and results, though the Medicine Woman is not dependent on anyone or anything outside herself to validate her.
• The Medicine Woman Tradition is not just about service to individuals, but to the greater whole that begins with the health of the self and that of the earth. A Medicine Woman can be fully solitary from other humans and yet her medicine is evoked in every moment, in the way her meals are prepared, her food gathered and her home tended. In the love she lavishes on herself and her fellow creatures and the discernment she hones in every decision.
• The Medicine Tradition is a practice rooted in ancient wisdom within the contemporary context. In a hurting world and a destroyed or denatured landscape, reduction in diversity and more confusion about roots, authentic culture and real belonging. The Medicine Woman Tradition reflects both our authentic, ancient nature and the current situation, so that we can better understand and effect ourselves and the world.
• The source of the Medicine Woman Tradition is Anima (the animating spirit of all life), made available through relationship with specific instructive place by the sensorial, intuitive and instinctive self. Rather than excerpting from the established ways of any one ethnicity or culture, the Medicine Woman Tradition is based on personal experience and direct relationship with Anima and earth.
• Eclecticism can be just as dangerous as adherence to exotic and often romanticized cultures. By picking and choosing what we are most comfortable with or find easiest, one can end up with a generic, feel-good system providing permission to do nothing. The Medicine Woman knows that some of her greatest lessons are marked by discomfort and difficulty.
• The Medicine Woman Tradition is in many ways the antithesis of what they call “New Age,” being more about engagement and responsibility than escaping, transcending, or being consoled. Neither is it associated in any way with the sensationalist “Medicine Woman” novel of some years ago.
• The Medicine Woman Tradition is not a religious one, and Anima can be described in secular or scientific as well as spiritual or magical terms.
• The Medicine Woman Tradition is an art form, and each individual will have different degrees of potential. This tradition is distinguished by its emphasis on making truths proactive, and it’s really not the Medicine Woman Tradition unless its principles and tools are applied and employed. Practical and hands on, the Medicine Woman manifests her healing and service in tangible ways. This result is personal responsibility that avoids victimhood, and that embraces a perspective that sees every moment as decisive, every choice as conscious, and every commitment significant. She takes on the responsibility for her part in the co-creation of her reality, the world around her, and the future course of events.
• Despite the title, men are not excluded from the Medicine Woman Tradition. It is available and accessible to any male who feels strongly called to it. The term Medicine Man has been trivialized and commercialized beyond being of any use, and so we invite males – with the sensitivity and penchant to follow the Anima Medicine Way – to fully utilize the Medicine Woman materials and lessons, principles and practices.

Healing Self & Others
• Healing is defined as ever growing wholeness through holistic reintegration of all the parts, and the Medicine Woman understands that the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.
• Medicine is defined as anything that contributes to that wholeness.
• The human body is a complex and diverse ecology to be nourished and supported, not a machine, battlefield or temple to be fixed, won or cleansed.
• We assist the body in regaining equilibrium, by nurturing the vital spirit without suppression. This is done through nourishing unique, individual people rather than eradicating pre-defined diseases.
• The Medicine Woman does not treat healing as a a battle. While she may also be a warrior, she understands that disease is not our enemy, but rather an ally and learning tool. She knows viruses and bacteria as integral parts of the whole, inspirited beings with the innate desire to thrive and proliferate.
• Healing is composed of both nourishment and challenge at all times, as two sides of the same leaf, the Medicine Woman knows that we need both.
• Each wound, problem or illness is a gift, lesson or portal — an opportunity for further growth and wholeness.
• The Medicine Woman works with the whole person in the context of their lives, relationships, home and place. Only through the whole person and picture can full healing occur.
• The Medicine Woman has a conscious response-ability and commitment to use her gifts, skills and healing to contribute the integrity of the larger whole

Relating to the Plant World
• Plants are animate, inspirited parts of the earthen whole, just as we are. Every plant is a medicine plant, and all have some interspecies benefit whether we’re aware of it or not.
• Their effect depends on the person using them individual constitution, their relationship to the plant as well as how the plant has be harvested and prepared. The medicine of the plant will always be stronger when it has been taken and prepared with love, honor and consciousness.
• We are made worthy of their gifts to us when we honor their intrinsic value, apart from what they can do for us. Plant life, like all life, functions according to the principles of reciprocity, which is to say that it is both a willing recipient (nutrients etc) and provider, giving back to the soil even in death.
• Every plant has intrinsic value apart from any benefit to humans. Yet as extensions of Anima, they join us in working together to heal and nourish the whole.
• Plants exist as members of a dynamic and interdependent network that include all life-forms. Plants, and communities of plants, have individually – but especially collectively – an awareness or consciousness different from but not lesser than that of animals and other life forms.
• Plants are sentient, aware beings, but they are not humans. To expect them to behave and communicate as such is to shortchange both ourselves and them, and impose our imaginings on the surprising multi-dimensional relationships that we can have with them.
• Different levels of communication are possible through sensory signals, impressions and feelings. Communication with plants involves not the transmission of words but of qualities, sensibilities and intention – an evocation of essence that we then translate into a known dialect. What is imparted between humans and plants is far more significant than language, deeper and more intense. The plants communicate in ways non-verbal, non-linear, instinct driven, responsive, generally not anticipatory. The seemingly most instructive plants reveal possibilities rather than telling us what to do.
• Healing systems and structures are useful as we are learning, but are less necessary and sometimes even become hinderances once we have developed our intuitive abilities and deepened our personal understanding of and intimate relationship with the individual plants.
• The Medicine Woman works with the whole plant, not isolated constituents… just as she works with the whole person rather than isolated organs or elements.
• The Medicine Woman primarily works with plant allies that are local and sustainable, as a way of becoming intimate with the land and plants as well as respectful to the earthen whole.

For the Medicine Woman intentions evolve into commitments and all worthy commitments are kept.

Rhiannon’s 1st Blogpost

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Hello!  Welcome to my first Blog Post. I hope you enjoy it!  Oh, and my name is Rhiannon Cadhla Hardin, princess and guardian of the Canyon.  Rhiannon means “Great Queen,” and Cadhla (pronounced Ky-la) means “so beautiful that only poets can describe her”.  I’m seven years old, and I live at the Anima Center in the the most amazing place in the uvinerse.

When I was four I didn’t think I could hardly do things, but my Papa encouraged me that I could do anything that I tried hard enough at.  When something looked impossible heavy Papa would ask if I could carry it, and I would say “I don’t think I can do that.”  But he said I could, and sure enough I was able to do it, and I am proud of myself!  I learned what it means to feel satisfaction in my efforts and work, and to try to enjoy and find meaning in everything that I do.  Now I’m learning to have walks in the dark, to get over my fear of the unknown.  When I do that, I start to notice that the dark kind of talks to me.  It seems to me that it’s trying to teach me something that I can’t yet hear, but I believe I will be able to understand it one day.  It seems that every place has a spirit to it, that the earth wants you to hear its story.

One time I caught a fish. I was very sad to do that. Now it all started out that I told Mama Loba that I had seen some fish swimming about under a rock.  I brought a tiny net I had just in case, the kind you use for getting little fish out of aquariums.  Anyways, I was not expecting to catch one with such a small net, just thought it would be fun to try.  Mama Loba didn’t expect me to, either, but you know what?  I saw a bunch of them and they heard me coming and one tried to swim away but its face went right into the little net.  I pulled it to shore, shaking with the excitement because such a thing had never happened before.  As hard as it was for me, I understood that it was about life and death, and animals like us need food to live.  We made a prayer to our blessed meal, and said thanks with every bite.

I go on “alone time” sometimes.  It’s very important.  It’s not good to just spend time with other people, but with yourself too.  You can feel peace and calmness, and respect for the earth.

I look forward to your comments and stories, and hope you will come back often to read what I’ve written.  Bye for now!

The History Of Anima Center, Part 1

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

One of the most frequent questions we’re asked is when and how we each came to be here in this fairy-tale canyon, 250 miles from the nearest city, and light years from what we or our parents expected us to be. The seeds for what has come to be the Anima Retreat and Learning Center, women’s sanctuary and wildlife and botanical refuge, began not with some grand and far-sighted vision, but with an insistent, gnawing call-to-home.

I was only 22 yrs. old when I first drove what is called the greater Gila Bioregion, the southernmost high mountain range in the American Southwest, a mountain range of Aspen and pine and dramatic rock cliffs, loosely laced together by the life-giving rivers where the ancient Mogollon Indians planted their maize and made their prayers. I came seeking my roots in the fairly named Land of Enchantment, the actual and mythological New Mexico, the land of adobe casas and renegade cowboys, artists and flamenco dancers, bloody kneed Penitantes, Hopi tradtionalists, low-riding cruisers and out of work magicians… oddballs with the wherewithal. But also I came back for the land, the land that had been absent since I was taken out of the state as a baby, absent from the cities and suburbs where I had grown up. I came for the wildness of sharp-eyed sniffing rabbits and swooping redtail hawks, and the promises found in every Western movie of a landscape that by its very nature encouraged, abetted and begat freedom. And I came foolish, without the common sense to fix the four wheel drive Jeep pickup with the overweight, gypsy-shaped, wood shingle camper, or the pracitcal savvy to figure out one end of a fence stretcher from another when it came time to try my hand at the long hours and short pay of a ranch hand. But I was, if anything, “directed,” which is a nice way to say obsessed, drawn like the proverbial filings to a magnet by the pull of not just a wondrous state but a particular, exact and exacting place. As with the children’s game of “warmer, warmer,” I felt myself not only heated but awakened the nearer I came to what I later realized was this canyon, and more disconnected and chilled the further away I got in search of income and shelter.

Clearly I was learning what I needed, and being shaped for as yet unrecognized mission. Over the following four years my paintings were featured at Santa Fe art shows, with world-beat bands backing me while I “rapped” about the inspiration and lessons of nature, and I then opened up what was the first mystical or even nontypical gallery on the plaza of old Taos, quickly a nexus for writers, activists and spiritual seekers from Siberian shamans to explorative Franciscan Monks… but I never quit thinking about the land I’d been first pulled to. The coffee shop philosophers and wild visionaries could not substitute for full-on wilderness and a personal association with the legacy of the Old Ones. The beauty of Blue Lake or the snow packed Pecos could, literally, never “take the place” of the red volcanic rocks and wildflower pageants, diverse fauna and provocative energies of the Gila. They beckoned me to purpose as well as place, permeated my dreams and distracted me in my waking hours, until in 1980 I succumbed to the siren whisperings and permanently closed the gallery doors.

Nobody in cowboy-clad Catron County had ever seen anything like it when I showed up in a converted 1958 Oneida school-bus, my antiauthoritarian hair blowing, like Bob Dylan said, in the wind. With barely enough money to live on, I nonetheless immediately started a search for land to buy, not only convinced but committed to find the exact spot that would be the source of my insight and the place of both my pleasure and work. What was by then no less than an arduous and adventurous quest – for a holy grail of belonging and purpose – centered around the village of Reserve, affectionately called “Reverse” because of its delightfully backward propensities, a tiny cluster of private properties inhabited by less than 400 escapees from the dominant paradigm, and surrounded by 3.5 million acres of undeveloped National Forest in all its sensual and savage, generous and spiritual manifestations. Within that diverse geography of history and hope, there could only be one section where I could most be myself, most hear what I needed to hear, and begin to serve in the ways that I was meant. Only one womb-like canyon, carved and massaged by one winding river, and only a certain hallowed bend.
I had little money and no credit, guide or map. One possible way to find my way there, I decided, was to set aside my identity as an artist and take a menial labor job working for an unsavory Christian Scientist real estate agent who specialized in remote properties. It was likely only a coincidence that his last name was that of the birds nesting in the cliffs I had dreamed about but not yet seen, their offspring bravely making their first brave flights from hundred of feet up in spit and mud nests. Closer than ever to where I belonged, making $3.50 an hour working for Swallows (to be continued).