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. 


summer's end

Summer’s end. Life is but a dream. 
Reflections: relations. 
I know you. I know these hands, these eyes. 
I see you. 
We have seen each other through years, months, days. 
Love partners have come and gone, and we keep saying hello and goodbye to each other
And each fresh landscape that we pass through, make love with, 
Make Home 
Pass on 
Hello and goodbye 
Forever and anon 
The falling leaves 
That decay into winter whiteness 
Composting through death
Into the blossoming spring 
Ecstatic summer 
And now, 
Celebratory autumn harvests 

My cabin smells like mold and wetness 
Perpetual rain here in the northeast
I think of California and the desert southwest 
And I crave the dry air, big sky, and towering mountains 
There is a place called Home 
And it lies within 
But I want to create something 

I light candles with you
And we read our fortunes 
Giggling over beautiful tarot images
Asking profound yet profane questions about our love lives 
To ancient spirits spiraling through our fingers and tongues 
As we surrender ourselves 
To the unknown yet known 
It all lies within
And we know the answers already 
Even as we choose the cards
With questions lodged deep in our minds 
We know
Already, we know 
The cards confirm our knowing 
And we smile and nod 
Sipping tea and looking into each others’ eyes across the firelight
Sitting on the piney blanket on the floor of my cabin 
Surrounded by all the beauty that I have created in this small ramshackle cabin 
Cleared of mouse poop and old mold 
This Home of a year 

I enjoy this laughter
The unchained freedom of old friendship and unconditional understanding
Borne of years of knowing each other
Though mostly apart
Yet together
I can tease you, 
Knowing all your shadowy and light bits 
Like the interplay of sunlight filtering through forest leaves 
You are mysterious, complex, beautiful, complete
We hike fast, eyes in wide angle vision to catch every snowy rocky gorgeous nuance of the alpine landscape surrounding us 
Summiting the highest mountain of my childhood 
The mountain I stared at everyday of my childhood 
As far back as I can remember
Watching the snow shifting on the mountain peak 
And now, climbing it 
You who know me 
We laugh at each other 
Practicing yoga in the most beautiful places
Bowing before the old pine next to my cabin 
Bowing before each other
Bowing to the swampy majesty of a summer’s worth of weeds gone wild 
All the bugs singing their final summer love songs to the blue sky 
As it turns grey with rainclouds 
Thunder rolls 
And I jump on the trampoline in the darkness of the night
Watching the flashing lightning 
And laughing as 
Raindrops hit my face 
And I know 
I know that 
This life is but a dream 
Life is too quick to waste time 
Every step I take is meaningful
As meaningful and delightful as I can make it 
I am sculpting my future as beautifully as I can 
While manifesting my dreams
With each conscious step 
Each leap on the trampoline 
Each bow before every trembling grass blade and lightning bolt 
As all the mossy knolls we barefoot boogie upon 
Is simultaneously crushed by our weight
As we disperse their seedy spores
Back into the glowing soil
Of infinite

Looking into your eyes
Your gnarled old hands holding mine
I cry 
I don’t want you to see my tears
To know my fear 
My sadness at parting ways 
Not knowing when I will return again 
Life could end for you soon 
You are old 
Life could end for me soon 
I am young, but life is unpredictable 
Our eyes are interlocked 
Our lives, intertwined 
I cry 
Tears of joy, sadness, 

I watch you as you walk away 
And you watch me as well 
Our eyes catch one final time 
See you in dream time 

In dreams, you are the wise one
You are the elder
You are the trickster 
The lover 
The adventurer 
You who come in many forms 
You mirror my Self 
I wake, embracing the memory of your Being in my Dream 
Then realizing I am just embracing 
My Self 

I step out the door
Surrendering my senses to sweet summery flower perfumes 
I stand, stunned
I have watched this landscape 
From death to life, 
And now slowly transitioning back to death once more 
At the height of abundance, 
Fruit falling from trees, 
Goldenrod taller than me, 
This is summer’s end 
And death is around the corner 

Compass pointing north
Self reflected in the Sky
Am I going next? 

I feel 
Heartbeat rhymatics 
Slow dancing 
Waltzing with wind 
Bare feet gripping forest floor leaves
Swooping down into low balances 
Body arcing with tree limbs
Arms following eyes 
As I follow the treeline
The dancing squirrel 
As he darts about, gathering nuts 
Wave-like spine, undulating 
We pull and twist each other 
Laughing as I fall, rolling back to standing
Leaping and diving through the air 
You surprise me 
Tossing me out just far enough 
That I loop back 
Like a planet within the sun’s orbit
Our hips bump into each other 
Bone against bone, 
Muscles contracting and releasing 
Music carrying energies higher and further
I close my eyes and can see the lines of connection, lines of motion, lines of music 
The same line that the squirrel invisibly darts through the forest 
The same invisible line that connects us across the ocean and through the center of the world 
Taiwan, India, USA… 
All these little intersecting lines 
I open my arms, 
Billow out my chest, 
Release my heart,
Surrender my feet,
Raise my head, 
Extend my spine, 
Look up,
Eyes wide open,
And smile at the Sky, 
Feet firmly grounded into Earth, 
Mountain pose
I bow 


some local critter wonders... 

a daddy long leg (i just call them "daddy") eating some of my rose hip jam 
porcupine (called "gog" by the ojibwe folks) in the Adirondacks
mini tree frog ("spring peepers" in the spring, "tree frogs" in the autumn) on my shoulder in the 'dacks 
gorgeous butterfly in the 'dacks