New Moon: yuan fen, rivers, moon, bodies, dances, recipes

"Yuan fen" (緣分) is one of my favorite words in Chinese. It translates (somewhat) as serendipity, synchronicity, or affinity. It's that magical invisible red thread of connection that binds me to you before we were even conceived, that line that ties my umbilical cord of past, present, and future destiny to the places, people, plants, and all else that composes my life.


"Heaven determined my Fate, but I choose my Destiny," said one of my first teachers. "It's all a choice," laughs Jeremy. We'd decided not to brave the cold river with our bare toes, walking upstream on the slippery rocks toward the place where the river turns, where we can't see anymore. Those unexplored places can wait.


On the edge of the waterfall, Dave and I decided to walk across that river, rushing and tumbling down towards the bottom of Ithaca Falls. Walking against the current, he quickly slips and slides his way across to the opposite bank, skiing across the slippery stone with arms akimbo. I slowly move across, thinking of the slow Tai Chi practitioners weaving their arms and legs with intention and chi through the invisible air currents, with grace and precision, bodies relaxed yet strong. We move across the river in completely different ways, one slow yet steady and calculated, the other quick yet a little messy. Both successful. Metaphors?


My new intention is to write an English blog post with each new moon, and a Chinese blog/ letter with each full moon. Dear reader, I hope you enjoy. And please, always, give me feedback. Thank you.


"What's the difference between the full moon and new moon?" asked my sister. This is for you, Ah Mei. During the new moon, we don't see any moon at all. It's completely a new beginning. These are the darkest nights, when the stars are brightest, a fitting time to plant bright intentions for the coming moon. From here, the moon waxes or grows day by day, and our seeded intentions sprout and grow, until the moon is absolutely full again. The full moon, pregnant with gifts, and bright with light, is a great time to give thanks for all that we are grateful for, and go on moonlit hikes, have celebrations with friends, and more. From here, the moon wanes or shrinks night by night, back into the darkness of the new moon.


In the olden days, when we lived outdoors and our bodies were connected with the rhythms of the moon, women would often bleed in sync with the moon. We would bleed with the new moon, and feel the exultant heat of ovulation with the full moon.


I am feeling grateful for my sisters. We started a weekly dance project, where we come together to share songs, visions, and exploratory dances. We just began, and already, I feel my heart aching and breaking wide open, and filling with love and gratitude.


"Let's experiment," I said to Dave, practicing yoga outside of my cabin as the sun dispelled the mist over the fields, through the trees, "I've never tried this before, but have always wanted to." And thus was born Yoga Exchange, where one person leads an asana/ movement, and then the next person leads the next asana… and on and on like so. It births many new asana sequences that just might get traditional yogis rolling in their graves, but got me inspired with fresh ideas and full delight.


"Core, move from your core," said Larry. And I remember Teacher Wu at NTNU, showing us how to move from our two places of core power: our Heart, and our Dan Tian (solar plexus). "And move as if you have eyes in your palms, and on the bottoms of your feet," added Teacher Wu. He taught us how to fly, how to use our weight like a pendulum, dancing with gravity like a lover. I'm practicing leg lifts, boat pose (navasana), bridge pose (setu bandhasana), and posting regularly again, to cultivate core strength. Simple asanas like mountain pose (tadasana) and down dog (adho mukha svanasana) reveal my imbalances and tendencies: a slight pelvic tilt (minor lordosis), and leg muscles that angle in different directions. "Posting" is a basic practice that I learned from Mauro (who learned it from Rinpoche) at an underground Tibetan Buddhist sanctuary where we nourished our chi and cultivated our innate ability to be amazing human beings. Posting: feet are wide apart and slightly bent in horse stance (the wider the stance and the deeper the bended knees, the more difficult the pose), arms are rounded in front of you, hands slightly cupped and open in front of your heart. Relax into this pose… you'll be here for a while. Stay here from 15 to 30 minutes everyday. With deep breaths, enjoy the burning, shaking, sweating, and grounding sensations.


Ecstatic dance. Basically the music plays, and you surrender to it in ecstasy. Dance. And thus began a month of big red giant (fast burning star) dances with a stranger turned adventure companion.


Contact improv. I give you my weight. We share it. You give me yours. I take it and translate it into something else. We roll across each other, flipping and spiraling across the floor. You pull me up from the floor, translating my weight back down into the earth. I fly upward, in response, laughing in surprise at the momentum and sheer freedom of weight, released, returning back to the ground in a sideways tilted angle, surprised yet delighted to catch another person on the way down with my spine. I surrender my spine to their shoulder, contouring my curves against their body as we all coalesce together, jellyfish-like, interweaving across the studio space, expanding outward and contracting back in again like a giant communal breathing apparatus, or a swirling supernova, until an explosion occurs, and off we go dancing back into pairs and trios again, at times slow and earthy, other times airborne and explosive.


I'll leave you with some autumnal recipes that I've been experimenting with.


Fire cider (from Cali)

Chop finely and then infuse into raw apple cider vinegar: onion, garlic, horseradish, ginger, cayenne/ other fresh peppers. Optional: turmeric, burdock, osha, usnea, sage, etc. Let infuse for 2 months. Take as a heating tonic/ immune stimulant during the cold winter months.


Sauerkraut (from Abbe)

1.       Chop/ grate cabbage finely into a large bowl.

2.       Massage salt into the cabbage, adding 1 T salt at a time. Add 2 T of salt per head of cabbage. This will release the cabbage juices. Keep massaging it to break down the cell walls, until there seems to be enough liquid released to cover all the solids.

3.       You can add anything… onions, garlic, turmeric, various wild roots, etc.

4.       Stuff it all into a clean glass jar. Submerge it under its' own juices, with a stone or glass jar to push down the plant matter below the juices. (Some people add water if there's not enough liquid, but I was taught to massage it enough for its own juices to do the job- tastes better like this)

5.       Cover with cloth, and let sit for a week.

6.       Enjoy!


Honey infusions (from Lucy)

1.       Fill glass jar with fresh plant material of your choice. Thus far this season, I have made honey infusions (each separate) with rose, bee balm, tulsi, and mint.

2.       Fill over the plant material with honey.

3.       Use chopstick to press out all the air bubbles.

4.       Let sit for as long as you wish. You can start indulging on your honey infusion within 2 weeks.

5.       Enjoy the deliciousness.


"Might as well make the medicine delicious," said Meredith. "I like my medicine strong," said Cali. "Let my lessons be gentle yet powerful," said Efan and I, as we prayed to each other and the Sky, Universe, and all that was listening, watching heart-shaped clouds rolling through the sky, with our bellies empty, preparing for Vision Quest.