RIP David Croasdaile, M.D., one of my soul mates. Aren’t we all?

Feeling today forever grateful for our two year union and collaboration of 40 years ago. And, so moved by the fact that, thanks to Bill Chisholm, another old friend, I had been able to contact David before he died, that I actually, finally — and suddenly! — got up the gumption to do what I said I was going to do about a month ago, make my first podcast, or CroneCast, or CRONECAST, or however I’m going to label it. . . So here’s to David, one of my mentors and companions, with whom I learned so much about life — and especially, as told in this cronecast story,  how we can completely shift whatever is going on in the outer world, over and over again, by conceptually reframing it.

The spirit of Dave and our old friends will be gathering in Buhl (near Twin Falls) at a brew pub this evening, a few hours from now, to honor the memory of this dear being.


Old friend and activist Bill who told me about David’s impending death, and then found a phone number for me to contact David only a day or so before he died, has just undergone another death, that of his own sister. Which prompted Bill to sit down and write a letter to her young daughters. He emailed it to me, with permission to publish it here. Thank you, Bill!

Aho Ann,

With the recent dream like passing of Dave and now my eldest sister after a very long slow passing, I wrote this for my sister’s daughters… thought you might appreciate this perspective.

My Dear Nieces,
I reckon like all of the family, I have been feeling and pondering the passing of your Mom, my dear Sister.  I wanted to share a little of my experience and perspective.

In some indigenous cultures the word for breath, wind and spirit is the same word.

My first awareness of what that means came from Uncle John Chisholm.  He was napping  in his chair in the living room of his house when my grandfather, William passed.  He said he was awakened by a breeze and went back to check on his dad, to find he had passed on.

My next awareness came when I was the first to arrive at an automobile accident, where a car had left the freeway went up on an embankment and rolled, landing on its wheels.  I saw it happen and was right there when the car landed.  The driver’s side window was open and the driver, a young man, was slumped over the steering wheel.  I touched him on the shoulder and asked how he was.  He moaned and sat back, then a breeze blew by me and when I felt for his pulse there was none.

I was sitting next to my dad reading.  It was evening, he was in his chair and I was on the couch next to it.  I had a light on, but the room was very quiet except for his breathing.  When it suddenly stopped, it was truly the sound of silence.  I turned to look at him and it was obvious that he had left his body behind and his spirit was free.  Mom came out of the kitchen and the first thing she did was take off his glasses and his hearing aids, saying “He won’t need these anymore.”

After Dad passes and later Mom, I realized how much more accessible they were to me after they had left their bodies.  Before I had to drive 60 miles to see them.  Suddenly they were available to me all the time and still are.  I am constantly accessing their knowledge and inspiration.

As a long time yogi, I have known of and spoken of breath as “prana” life force.  I saw the article this quote is from last week and realize how much it ties into the relationship of breath and death and reunion.

” I was less impressed by the suggestion that – to quote the teacher at a retreat I attended – my breath was ‘the most powerful force in the Universe’ or that ‘all wisdom starts with proper breathing’. Breathing? ”

It was so noticeable with your Mom, as her body got weaker, her spirit grew stronger.  It was almost as if that energy that had been holding her body together was then making her spirit grow stronger.

Yesterday I mourned her passing with the rest of the family, but I also felt a lightness, that I could only tie to her being free of bed and her tortured body.  She is free and reunited with the Great Mystery.

I love both so much and send you Light and Love,

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This year’s unusual Spring Equinox, March 20, ushers in Aries/Libra Full Moon.

When? Only three and a half hours later.

The Spring Equinox always occurs at 0°00 Aries, otherwise known as “the Aries point” in astrology, a degree of enormous significance, as it ignites the new zodiacal year, when seeds burst open, on their way to setting down roots (Taurus), and then emerging from the ground as identifiable individual beings, communicating with each other (Gemini).


Here, in Green Acres Permaculture Village, since late January we have been starting seeds in the greenhouse, rather than waiting for the spring equinox. But one thing’s for sure. The baby plants love the increasing daylight hours!

At this week’s Thursday Community Dinner, to be held here in the Overhill house, we will celebrate the Spring Equinox one day late. Noting that at the equinox, day and night, dark and light, are (for one split second!) of equal length, we will each look inside ourselves, to find some aspect of our own normally unconscious minds that we have been working with, way down deep, over the dark winter months, an aspect that now, during the coming six months when the light exceeds the dark, we will intend to, not just face and embrace, but to erase! — which means, actually, to integrate, i.e., to recognize, honor, and learn to creatively utilize a formerly denied, despised, and/or projected part of our complicated selves.

We will then bury our pieces of paper in the gardens, in hopes that our intentions for the next six months will flourish. Afterwards, those who wish, can speak for a few moments about the darkness they found within themselves over the winter that they intend now to transform in the light.

This particular Equinox is unusually significant, in that it occurs with Chiron the wounded healer, at 1° Aries, almost exactly conjunct the Sun, and only hours prior to the Full Moon in Aries/Libra, while the Sun is still at 0° Aries, to wit:


Aries/Libra is the axis of self and other. And yes, the relations between human beings during this loud, mean, nasty, polarized, “politically correct” era are truly wounded, needing to be healed. The inner work with our own darkness yields healing of our relations with the Other as we take those (usually unconscious) projections upon the Other of denied, despised aspects of ourselves back into the Self. Result? the Other can finally stand across from us safely, revealed as beautiful and uniquely themselves, free of our blame and judgment.

Imagine if all of humanity in the entire world did that, each of us taking back unconscious projections! Whee!

This Equinox/Full Moon is also notable in the following ways:

There are a number of planets all at 23° of their signs, including Jupiter, Mars and Venus. Mars rules Aries, Venus rules Libra, and Jupiter, now in Sagittarius, its ruling sign, lends perspective and context to  whatever planets it aspects. The particular configuration among these planets all at 23° constitutes what I have named as a “Triangle of Continuous Growth,” since it includes three different aspects — one easy (60° sextile Jupiter to Venus), one hard (90° square Mars to Venus) and one mixed (150° inconjunct  Jupiter to Mars). The square fuels the issue between (Libra) one individual (Aries) and another (Aries), the sextile eases the issue, and the inconjunct requires continuous adjustment on the part of both parties.

Note that Mars, at 23° Taurus, invites us to move down into our bodies, and our bodies to root into the Earth.

Note also, that Pluto, at 22° Capricorn, sits also within near-exact orb of aspecting all these 23° planets, complicating their triangular configuration. Think of Pluto, which moves exceedingly slowly, as a long, slow, deep background frequency that plumbs the depths, detonating all sorts of old stuck patterns, especially given the now closing conjunction with structural Saturn in its own ruling sign at 19° Capricorn.

Thus all sorts of interplay is afoot and expanding (Jupiter) on the surface, in terms of human relations, both animosity (Mars) and desire for harmony (Venus), and all reflecting deep-seated structural (Capricornian) issues of many kinds that have been in place for decades, if not centuries. (Pluto’s cycle is 248 years long).

That Saturn and Pluto approach their rare conjunction (c.a. every 35 years) during 2019 (exact in January 2020), and that they do so just prior to the first ever return of Pluto to its own natal place at 27° for the U.S.A. (2020-24), may help us recognize that the deep-seated rumblings we are all sensing are mirrored in the astrology of these times. The U.S. is due for a comeuppence, an enormous and deep-seated reordering of its priorities, as it begins to let go of the hegemonic sense of its own Plutonian power over the rest of the world in the interest of truly allowing itself to become empowered by its own innate vision, it’s own industry, its own nature.

Rather than dominance, sovereignty. At every level. In the relations of human beings to one another (Aries/Libra), in the fraught relations we have as a People with the detonating structure of this nation state (Saturn/Pluto in Capricorn), and in the relations between this nation state and other nation states. All sovereign. All equal. At every level, with the power of primal aliveness residing at the bottom, inside each of our individual hearts and souls, rather than at the fake, abstract top of any supposed corporate global hierarchy.

Yes, let us invoke this Equinox/Full Moon in Aries/Libra to help us learn how to TAKE BACK OUR PROJECTIONS, in the interest of real, and equal, co-operation (Aries/Libra) on every level. AMEN!


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Three new posts, Mid-March: Green Acres Permaculture Village

Check them out! One on further work in the greenhouse with seedlings.

One on making hard apple cider.

And one on last week’s Community Dinner with unexpected guest!




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Blow Yer Mind St. Patty’s Day Sunday Selections

These should keep you busy for hours. They can take the place of church on Sunday. Remember that? When was the last time YOU “went to church”? Okay, to begin:

Corey Lynn may just be the internet’s very best young independent investigative journalist. I was eager  to see her current compilation, and tend to trust her instincts as to what’s important, what not, and why.

12 HUGE Bombshells in One Week — “But, nothing’s happening?”

After coreysdigs serious digs into the 12 stories, plus more, she ends this way:

There’s a storm brewing alright, and if you still don’t believe anything is happening, start following along more closely, because things are speeding up. Just look at what’s been taking place in the Arkansas Swamp. Or how about the World Bank President retiring three years early, then suddenly news hits about an arm of the World Bank being sued by Supreme Court ruling – for the first time in history. What about the fact that all of the churches are finally being exposed for the pedophile, child sex trafficking nests that they are? Don’t be blissfully oblivious – it’s time to wake up, put on your armor, take action and join in this battle for justice, freedom, and a better world for future generations.

This electrifying storm is not going to slow down anytime soon. This battle will bring about serious change – some good, some not so pleasant. Pay attention, and communicate with those around you so they are prepared for an enormous amount of disclosure that may shock them. Don’t just grab a seat in this movie theater – play a role in steering all of this for the betterment of mankind.


Very much appreciate that Corey too, advises us to get off the couch and move into action, whatever is the appropriate action for each of us, do that! Even if it’s just a tiny little thing, like talking honestly with someone close to you. You will be amazed at how every personal step, taken with nerve and total integrity, rearranges the world.

Next, two current posts from quodverum. The first one, by Rex, appears to completely reframe the entire Trump presidency, as well as makes those, like me, who tend to assume Trump is operating as a 5D chess master, sense that he has been doing so for decades. BINGO!

In fact, there are already indications that this might be the post that helps flip reluctant pale blue-pillers to pulsing blood red-pillers. Who knows?

ENDGAME: POTUS Trump’s Vindication Nears

One of the people Rex cites for his research is Dawson S. Field. Here’s a relevant twitter post from him:

This next quodverum post makes my skin crawl, as it should. By Thomas Wictor, late of twitter fame. According to Wictor, the ChristChurch massacre has upped the ante considerably, revolutionizing the way we interact with what happens, given that it was live-streamed on facebook:

A New Form of Atrocity.

A New Threat


The mass shooting was the first mass-casualty “meatspace” trolling event in human history. Meatspace is the world outside of the Internet.

For the first time, an internet troll committed mass murder as a joke.


A number of people have noticed that icky John Podesta was visiting New Zealand until the day before the attack. Meaning?

Here’s one full-blown conspiratorial panorama:

New Zealand Mosque Massacre: A False Flag Terrorist Attack, Black Operation, and CIA Global Psyop (Updated)

Psychiatrist Steve Pieceznik begs to differ, instead viewing this latest “lone white male shooter” as merely the victim of “projective identification.” Pieceznik seems more than usually determined to force this view on his audience. Which makes me wonder (again) if he’s an agent of the deep state.


Finally, here’s a more nuanced view of AOC than usual, basically viewing her as yes, selected through a casting call, and yes, operating with a handler now, but: she’s also smart, working hard to learn the game, and once she does: WATCH OUT. 






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AK Reader: HEALING (from universal corruption) BEGINS WITHIN ME

Let’s see now. Was it first the Catholic Church that got our attention, back when the movie Spotlight came out, the one that unearthed Boston priestly pedophilia? Or was it continuous dirt on various politicians, of every rank and file, an estimated 90% of whom have either been bribed or blackmailed (via filmed pedophilia and worse) to do what their masters want? (But who are their masters?) Or was it the CIA’s evil MK Ultra mind control agenda, producing Manchurian candidates running around causing havoc from false flags to Presidential charm? Or let’s see . . . was it Jeffrey Epstein’s Lolita Express and Pedo Island that got our attention? Or killing newborn babies? Or maybe Pizzasgate? Or Weinstein? Spacey? Or corrupt judges? Or the latest, that New Zealand “white male mass shooter,” with his 1500 page Manifesto? (Hmmm. Who, really, is he, and especially, who wrote that? Some kind of combination of rats in the CIA who wanted to scam and confuse and infect everybody everywhere? What fun they must have had, thinking up which “identity politics” divide to squash and smear next!)  Or maybe the latest academic scandal involving bribery, photoshopped heads on real athletes and rigged SATs in the Ivy Leagues? On and on and on. There’s just no way to keep track anymore of all the corruption afoot, at every level, bogging us down, its poisonous radioactive tendrils corroding the halls of power and prestige of all kinds, positively ruining all authority that lies outside the Self.

Which brings me to this next AK Reader post, first published in Crone Chronicles #32, Autumn 1997.  I could have chosen many other old pieces to illustrate the need for recognizing the primacy o the Self as key to clearing corruption, which in turn, naturally reconfigures the world around us, but this one popped into view. I assume you will see why. Though it applies here, to the healing between male and female partners, what I had to do first, was go within and see how I, personally, was corrupting the process between us. 

I suggest that, instead of getting bogged down with the universal corruption we are witnessing around us, that we each focus on recognizing corruption within ourselves. What if enough of us did that? What if enough of us start to do that regularly? What would happen then?



There we were, arguing, again, about money. How to allocate money within the Crone Chronicles budget. I saw things one way; he, another. I thought I was being calm and reasonable. To me, he seemed defensive, explosive.

Suddenly he stood up, his face red and mottled, and strode out of the room, yelling, “That’s it! I quit! And you’ll have a letter of resignation within ten minutes!”

I had just put on my coat. Time for my daily walk. As he was yelling I jerked open the door, shot one last look in the direction he had disappeared, and yelled, sarcastic: “Thanks a lot. That’s all I need.”

This was not the first time. This was one in a long line of explosions or near explosions from him, or me…mostly him, I thought. Many times he had threatened to quit. Several times he actually did quit–for a few minutes, or hours. But never before had he mentioned a “letter of resignation.” This was ominous.

I walk down the street fast, head down, jaw clenched, heading for the hill which I usually climb when I’m stuck in Jackson for the day. Walking fast, furious, thoughts colliding like bullets, my body weak, shaking. Trying to stay centered. Trying not to go into shock, notice my body shutting down, going rigid, numb, cold…. This is so discouraging…. How many thousands of times in my life have I fought with men? Beginning with my father, continuing with my horrific first marriage…. Suddenly there it is, that image again–it slips in, unbidden, at times like this–of my first-born son as a three-year-old, so acutely sensitive, sitting rigid in the corner, sucking his thumb raw, while his parents lacerate each other with words.

And now my husband Jeff, with whom I have already lived for seven years–longer than any previous adult relationship! We are fighting again! These fights are so intense, so disturbing, they leave me gasping for air, for sanity. Why? Why? What is wrong? How can we transform this pattern?

I start up the hill. Footsteps slow to accommodate the rise. Thoughts slow, drop down into a pit of possibilities. What if he really does quit? What if he just drops everything–all the business, legal, and circulation aspects of Crone Chronicles, not to mention his tech support for all the equipment–in my lap! The thought is staggering. As is the idea of doing this magazine without him. Not just the actual work he does, but the whole idea of being in full partnership with a man, both personally and professionally. I’ve always dreamed of such a partnership, and with Jeff I finally thought I had achieved it. Oh yes, we do fight. And we are ruthless with each other in other ways, too; neither of us gets away with a thing!

Yet this is the first man in my life who doesn’t think I’m “too much,” “too intense.” No need to keep that secret diary anymore. I can be completely myself with him. And the longer it goes on the better it gets. We are exactly matched–two gigantic, thundering, selfish, pompous egos, two sensitive, vulnerable, defended, loving hearts….two souls, struggling to peel away the layers….

Okay, so he quits. He just quits. My racing mind pauses to contemplate this as a real possibility, the cold fact of it penetrating my body. Instantly, I am swamped by a great deadening wave of exhaustion.

Then, immediately, a cold, sure knowing: if Jeff quits, I quit. It’s just not worth it to me to do the magazine without him. Even with the others who are working with Crone, none of them have his expertise, his patient, constant attention to the thousands of technical details involved–not to mention his willingness, all these years to work without pay for a magazine which most women think is only for women! (I never have; to me the questions about “Who is Crone?” nothing to do with gender and everything to do with opening to that ancient feminine aspect within the self, both women and men).

As I say this to myself, “I quit!” I experience that old, familiar, horrible thud in the solar plexus signaling that an emotional cord is being yanked out, by the roots. My eyes squint. The world around me dims, fuzzes…. I’m deep down inside myself now. Keep walking, still going uphill. Still struggling to get to the bottom of this thing, whatever it is….

Aha, a new thought, following that thud like its answering call. This time I am imagining what it’s like to be with Jeff, having decided to quit the Crone Chronicles. “What? Impossible! Why would I want to do that? He forced me to quit by quitting, and now I would stay with him, martyr myself to him?” In one sweep of the mind, I let Jeff go, too.

Uuhhh. There it is again, another thud, as that emotional cord to Jeff, so deeply rooted into me that its tendrils wind around every capillary, is yanked out. Uuhh. Like being kicked in the solar plexus with a boot.

With each one, I double over in pain, and then straighten up part way, mentally pulling whatever that belief was that had so embedded itself within my belly out, by the root–which leaves a vacuum–into which another insight floods. Each time I pull out another belief by the root, I free myself up to think yet another unthinkable thought.

Each of these thoughts is something that normally would take me days or weeks or months to dare to think, and then still more time, much more time to process emotionally. Here I am thinking them, feeling them, letting them go, one after another after another.

Okay. I’ve let Crone Chronicles go. I’ve let Jeff go. Now I’m back to me. I realize that what’s most important is me. And I have been taking his verbal abuse when we fight, “for the sake of Crone.” What bullshit! No magazine, no movement, no archetype, is more important to me than me, the quality of my life. First, my humanity, then, everything else.

Wow! Now something new is happening. No more thuds. I seem to have hit rock bottom.

I’ve also reached the top of the hill and am beginning to go down. The effort of going up, which required great focus, respiratory capacity and strength in my buttocks and thighs, yields to a new motion. Gravity takes me, pulls me downhill like water, it’s easy now, one thing naturally flows into another.

Yes, yes. I am the most important person in my life. I must be. My own well-being must take precedence over everything and everyone else. Otherwise what good am I to either myself or anyone, any partner, any project, any magazine, any movement?

I spend time there, in that honoring place, breathing in and out the circling fullness of air, rhythmically pulsing through my body, walking downhill.

Changes continue, become more subtle. I feel myself softening, moving with more grace, more awareness of what is around me. Of the play of feelings within me. Now Jeff swims into view, his great being rocking me ever so gently. I find myself inside his psyche: I am Jeff, experiencing Ann, experiencing Jeff’s role in the Crone Chronicles…. I (Jeff) am cringing, feel constricted, pissed, explosive.

Suddenly, something I (Ann) said to Jeff several years ago whispers in my ear…. Once, during one of our arguments, I had said to him, sotto voce, but threatening nonetheless, “Don’t ask me to choose between you (and Crone Chronicles)….” I had actually said that to him, don’t ask me to choose between you and Crone Chronicles!”

I am back inside him again, feeling that remark rip through my bodymind. Lodge in my heart. “So,” I hear him notice unconsciously: “Crone Chronicles, a mere thing, a project, is more valuable to her than me, a person, a human being, her lover and partner!”

I have allowed him in. I have become him. All of a sudden, I (Ann) get it. My perspective shifts completely. I have entered another reality altogether. I understand his long-running ambivalence. I realize why he has both been with Crone Chronicles almost since the day he moved here to be with me seven years ago and why he simultaneously doesn’t feel comfortable in his role with the magazine. He entered my life when the magazine was only a year old. He has almost the same his/herstory with it as I do! Because of his expertise, we have dared to go forward from its inception as a small newsletter into a full-fledged magazine with national and international distribution! Were it not for his presence, Crone Chronicles might not still exist.

And I’m always calling him “my partner”! But do I believe it? Have I really acted on it? No. Not really. It appears that I have, but I have not. Why? Because I have never answered that nagging question of which comes first, the work, or the man?

Or rather, I did answer it, 20 years ago, when I left my second husband whom I loved very much because I could not do my work and be his partner too. At the time I did not know what my work was; all I knew was it would conflict with that husband’s public role in society, and I didn’t want my work to be an issue between us.

So, having made that sacrifice, for the past 20 years, I have believed and acted on the assumption that my work comes first.

Seven years ago, Jeffrey entered a relationship with me which was essentially impossible for him, though neither of us realized it. For if my work came first, then my real partner was not him, but my work. The only thing he could do to become more central in my life, was join with me in doing the work!

This, of course, is the position of many wives with their husbands. In our case the genders are reversed, but the roles are not. As long as one person’s work comes first, then the person who is “helping” the other will never feel like an equal.

I was operating on two assumptions, which contradicted one another: the first, that my work came first, and the second, that I wanted an equal partner. And walking down the hill that day was the first time I recognized this situation, the position that my unconscious, hidden ambivalence had put Jeff in. Why he had been so frustrated, so obviously ambivalent, so explosive.

Walking down that hill, I tried another thought experiment, this one of being with Jeff, working through our issues with anger, and together, consciously choosing to be in relationship without Crone Chronicles–either terminating it or turning it over to someone else. This felt like a possibility that could actually become real, and it felt like I could live with that reality, even though it made me sad, since I love working with the magazine, and I love working with him in the magazine, too.

But I want him to be my partner, not just in name, but in fact. Not “my” magazine, but ours. Just the thought of this, of actually letting a man in as a person who has equal decision-making power, terrifies me–at that primal level of my own female wounding, exposing that ancient, hideous, shameful hole in my being…. And no doubt it will bring up terror–or at least more or less anxiety–in many readers, as well. But I must choose this route. Anything less, at this point, lacks faith, and would not be truthful to my own next evolutionary step.

I am a person first, with human needs. Beyond the survival needs of water, food and shelter, for me personally, my next most important need is to honor and follow true partnership with this man, wherever it may take me.

I came back to the office and Jeff’s resignation letter was on my desk. One hour later, he returned, and I told him the process I had gone through, and I could feel him soften too, as he heard me acknowledge both how difficult it has been for him and my understanding of the deep roots of that difficulty.

We discussed letting the Crone Chronicles go out of our life. We let that be a real possibility. The magazine flowed back in, within minutes. Then I told him that it seemed to me that we had to formalize his decision-making power within the structure of the magazine in order to announce the way this magazine would be fun from now on, as a true partnership. And that to do this we would need to have the two of us be co-publishers.

At first, he refused the idea, as has been his habit with anything having to do with the magazine. Then, as he began to feel more deeply into the root causes of his own ambivalence, and how, if we could transform those, he could feel more comfortable, he agreed to the change.

When I talked with one of our editors, like me, she too felt afraid. “But what if the two of you disagree on something? she asked. “Well,” I said, “we’ll get more input from you, and the other editors and other advisors, and eventually, we’ll just work it out!”

It has now been two months since that last fight. We have not had another. Even money hasn’t been the issue that it used to be. Our talk with each other is softer, less defensive, more collaborative, creative. We’re actually learning how to brainstorm, rather than just storm! I no longer make decisions and then tell him about them (or don’t tell him–either forget to tell him, or not want to deal with him–which sometimes used to happen, and some of those decisions would affect what he was doing, and it would leave him feeling hamstrung….). He no longer yells at me the way he did. Neither of us feels abused or abusive.

Stay tuned. And hear this: the healing of the female and the male must begin within me.





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AK Reader: Conversations with a Dying Crone (2007)

About a week ago an old friend of mine emailed to say that an old lover of mine was dying of pancreatic cancer. Bill said that David told him he had about a week left. I asked Bill to please get David’s phone number for me. Two days later, Bill sent it. I called David. He answered, startled, his voice spectral. “David! It’s Ann!” I had obviously thrown him for a loop, while he was sitting there serenely, waiting to die. I proceeded to tell him how much I love him, how much he did for me way back, 40 years ago, when he funded a house that became a community center which in turn harbored the community magazine I started, to gather us all together.  “Oh yes! ‘OpenSpace!'” 

I spoke to him awhile longer, told him what I was doing now, much the same thing, but in a new environment. Asked about his gardens. He had been an organic gardener before others had even heard about it. “I gave up growing vegetables a couple of years ago. Now I just grow daffodils.” And it’s true, another old friend of mine, Ellen, says, his yard is filled with daffodils. “He used to plant them by the box!”

On the phone, it was obvious that he didn’t have much energy, and that my energy was  likely “too much” for him. So after about ten minutes, we signed off, with me intensely grateful that I had gotten the opportunity to wish him well on his journey.

Bill told me that another friend said that when David went to cancel his AAA insurance “because I’m going out of the country,” the clerk responded, “Well, tell us when you get back.”

“I will,” he replied.

About a month ago, David’s nephew had come to be with him. Two days ago, David asked for a marijuana-infused cookie, which he ate. Then he asked for a tiny bit of morphine (I don’t know whether he was on hospice, or whether, as a retired doctor, he was able to score some). Then he just laid down, went to sleep, and died.

I’m thinking about David now, as I repost an extended interview, first published in Crone magazine, in 2007. 




In 1999, Julien Puzey was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and chose to be treated with chemotherapy. In March 2007, after a number of years in remission, cancer was diagnosed again. A diagnosis of stage four metastasized ovarian cancer qualifies a person to receive hospice care.  

For the past five years, Julien has directed the End-of-Life Care Partnership in Utah, a coalition of individuals and organizations that combines efforts and expertise to promote dialogue to improve end of life care. She previously coordinated educational programs at the Cancer Wellness House in Salt Lake City that focused on reconfiguring language to emphasis wellness rather than illness. She has M.A. degrees in Philosophy and Social Psychology, and envisions a transformed health care system that is socially accountable and human in scale.

Julien participated in Crones Counsels for many years, was on the Crones Counsel Board, and helped organize Crones Counsel IV in 1996. Her personal journey with cancer and its collective context was featured in three issues of Crone Chronicles, in 1999 and 2000. In early September 2007 Julien, who is considerably weaker at this stage in her life, asked to speak with me about her evolving situation. Unknown to me, she taped her end of the conversation, and when we spoke again, I made sure she taped that one too. What follows has been edited and excerpted from the transcript of her remarks during those two phone calls. —Ann K.


From our first conversation, early September, 2007  

Like A Polar Bear

The other day, I was so tired I felt like a mother polar bear on crumbling ice. Going hunting, out on the ice, has always been her path to survival. The ice has always held. She’d go out only so far as I knew she could get back.

Suddenly, you feel that you’re drifting out to sea and drowning. I was wondering what that bear feels in those circumstances, what other choices she could make to be recognizably herself. These days I’m thinking about what it means to be recognizably myself in the world.

Since making the choice not to pursue treatment I have been thinking about how to live well with metastatic disease rather than to die pathetically with cancer. And to sustain that choice, to live well, for as long as it’s a choice.

It’s like being faced with a hallway that has a whole bunch of doors, and there’s something behind every door. I don’t know what’s going to come out of any of those doors; I just know the doors are going to open. A hope is that the pneumonia door will open—one of the doors that can gentle me into that good night. I also know that there is no way to bargain for a particular death.

Clouds and Weather

I love the Thich Nhat Hanh quote about how, when the conditions are right, things arise; and when the conditions aren’t there, they disappear. I like to think that when I die, I will go to that place where the clouds are stored or the place where the yellow of the sunflowers is stored in the winter. Interestingly, we don’t see goldfinches until sunflower seeds are ripe. They’re stored in the same box — which I find remarkable. When the conditions are right they arise together.

Perhaps the western world embraced resurrection rather than reincarnation because of “Our Father who art in Heaven — a superego writ large. The superego always resists change — always supports the status quo. So that if you have this thing called Death — and it looks like it’s unavoidable — well, the church says it’s a temporary condition and you pop right back just exactly as you are now only better.

When my mother’s grave was being dedicated, they said, “May she be protected from the ravages of nature.”  I thought wow, that’s like asking that humans be an exception to the natural order.

Rather than illness or a disease I sometimes think in terms of my body having weather. Terminal cancer is particularly drastic weather.

Cancer, Second Time Around

Actually, I feel better now than I’ve felt in a year. I was sick with cancer for a long time before it was diagnosed. I was in intensive care with pneumonia first, and that’s when I received the diagnosis of recurrent ovarian cancer.

I had surgery in early July. They removed 18 centimeters of the large intestine and and nine centimeters of the small intestine. They removed the appendix, they repositioned the pancreas, they scraped the liver and scrubbed the abdominal cavity. I was slit from one end to the other. I think they just flipped me inside out like a frog. So it was a very nasty, nasty controlled trauma and I was in the hospital for ten days which, in today’s surgical world, is a long time.

I walked with a walker for awhile and during this process they put in a port for chemotherapy. They were excited, said they were just going to get right on it as soon as I got out of the hospital.

So I started reading JAMA (Journal of American Medicine) articles to learn more about my oncologists’s plans for my improvement. In the studies, they hospitalized some people for nine days, put two liters of chemotherapy chemicals in their abdominal cavity and turned them occasionally to slosh it, plus simultaneous intravenous administration — and I thought “Aw, that will make you sick. That will make you so sick.”

It’s like being embalmed, honestly. In that study, only 30% of the people who started completed the therapy. And they hadn’t done this procedure with anyone my age, they hadn’t done it with anyone whose cancer had recurred, and no one had ever done it that way in this hospital. I thought, I am just not a candidate for this. So I kept trying to peddle back as well as I could while in a drugged state trying to recover from surgery. They wore me down. I began to agree that maybe I could just do the intravenous stuff that I’d done before, because I thought I might be able to tolerate it.

In 1999, when I was first diagnosed, the cancer was detected at a very early stage. I was younger and had more reserves than today. Chemotherapy was stressful, and came with long-term debilitating side effects. Not only did I lose my hair but 50 points were shaved off of my IQ. I can remember being brighter, better able to focus and complete projects—and this is after taking aging into account. I also lost feeling in my fingers to neuropathy, lost lung capacity, and continue to experience a compromised immune system and cancer fatigue. (Research is beginning to show that in cancer fatigue the immune system is always “on.”)

At this point, with stage four cancer, aggressive treatment, at best, could extend my life by two years. What is not said, the fine print, is that those two years include the time one is in treatment and the time recovering from treatment. The clock starts running on the day one begins treatment not on the day one completes it. There is no likelihood that, ever again, I would feel as well as I do today.

Instead, I choose to front-load my contract — to feel as good as I can now and enjoy a reasonable quality of life. To choose aggressive treatment would result in my not being able to continue to work. (Yes, you can be enrolled in hospice and continue to work). Not working would mean that I would not be able to maintain my insurance. Even “successful” treatment, if it leads directly to debilitation and abject poverty, is, for me, not a choice.

Only once or twice have I heard a physician refer to “Q-Twist”: quality time without treatment or symptoms I believe that I have netted more QTWST and averted some suffering by choosing not to pursue aggressive treatment. “How much QTWST will this give me?” That is a question worth learning to ask.

So that’s been my thinking process this time around. Even so, I did go down the “aggressive treatment” road quite a ways; got my preemptive haircut and had people making hats . . . and then I decided I’m just not going to do it. I decided that this is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. And was pleased that when I saw my oncologist she said, “You’re not going to do this at all, are you?” I said “No,” and she said “Smart woman. You made a good choice. But would you consider Tamoxifan?” And I thought about the bear on the ice and for me, at this point, that’s the only choice I can make that I recognize as myself.

Leveraging My Terminal Cancer 

But the good news is that I can really leverage this [process I’m going through] into some nice advocacy for palliative care, particularly for decision-making and for support of patients and their family. After eight years of thinking about it and being inside the advocacy community, I am articulate and kind of credible — certainly more credible now than before. I’m also more willing to say what I think. I’m harder to silence.

And I have a good supervisor at work who sees my doctor’s appointments as “physician education.” 

“The Secret”

It is a real challenge to be diagnosed with cancer during the time when everybody is reading The Secret. More than one intelligent person has asked me directly, “What did you do to attract this into your life?” I’m getting better at responding to them. I actually had read The Secret to figure out what they were saying, but two days ago I told someone, “How presumptuous of you to think that you can identify what I’ve attracted! Because I believe that I have attracted into my life community, connections, a great capacity for feeling loved, clarity about my values.” Conditions naturally arrive with their opposites.

Culturally we have traded community for the myths of autonomy and control. I’m trying to control and orchestrate and have community simultaneously. I’m trying to make the kinds of hopeful choices that make community support a realistic option for me.

The Secret feeds into those myths about autonomy and control, that “I can be this isolated being who can have more than my share of stuff, and not only do I deserve it but I know how to get more of it. I never question whether it’s appropriate for me to have it.” We’ve traded community for those two myths. Research shows that when people are dying the thing they fear most is losing control; not pain but losing control. And then they’re so grateful when hospice rushes in for, on average, 22 days and they experience some blush of community.

One of my friends just got back from a village in Kenya where people were dying from AIDS. She said that it requires 24 buckets of water a day to care for someone who is dying. Hospice volunteers walk a mile and back for water with two buckets, 12 times a day. These people are neighbors, not trained volunteers. They know how to respond within community. They are simply responding to another person’s human need. Responding to people’s human need is extra in our system.  We have farmed ourselves out, in pieces, to experts. We know longer know how to respond with our whole human self to another human being.

The Spring 2003 Yes! magazine had a headline called “Surviving the Great Dying,” That was the first time I had seen it acknowledged — the exhaustion of the planet and the question of how to respond to that. There is a wide unspoken sense that we might be called to hospice the planet itself — to attend to the dying of the whole planet. Xena, Warrior Princess, says “love and loss travel the same river.” Perhaps we are all falling in love with the world while at the same time grieving its loss. The BBC series “Planet Earth” seems to have the same theme. We’re denying and we’re bargaining and we’re denying. There’s no sense of shared faith, which comes with a mythos of the time.

Relations among Hospice, the Family, and the Dying Person

Hospice as a business is different than hospice as a spiritual movement. As a business, hospice nurses and social workers are now only allowed 20-minute visits. They have no time to be with the dying –they’re dispensing the medication. Their role is to help so that the family can be with the person who is dying. The family thinks that hospice is going to come in and take care of their dying and they’re clueless as to how to be with this person who is dying.

The In-Between Time

I feel like I’ve got months but certainly not years My challenge is this “between” time. Because I’m not actively dying and I am doing what I can to live well. Fortunately, the NHPCO (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization) has begun a campaign called “It’s how you live at work,” where they talk about the responsibility of the workplace to adapt to the chronically and terminally ill, and not just throw you out the door. Not just tell you to go away because you’re a distraction and too scary, and you remind them of their mortality. I’m refusing to go away. Some people where I work would like me to go away, but I have an advocate with some power, so they can’t make me go away [laughs]. For me, being recognizable in the world includes continuing to work, for now.

Duties of the Dying 

I think about not only the duty to die, but also the duties of the dying. I guess for me, one of the rules is  “Don’t use cancer as a trump card.” Don’t expect that just because I have this diagnosis, that I can demand that everyone around me become a spiritual giant and my individual servant. Rather than everyone around me having to walk on eggshells, how do I allow the honesty of the other person to be expressed to me and mine to her?

It is a challenge to stay present and real in my relationships. If I were to say that I’m dying, then people would say, “Oh, no, you’re not. That’s not true and let’s not talk about that.” Or, “Let’s not think about that.” So then darn near everybody gets pushed into isolation and none of the conversations are real.

Thich Naht Hahn, in No Death, No Fear, a lovely book, talks about people who comfort you, who bring positive energy and remind you of the lovely things of the world and not talk about their personal problems and the usual whiny stuff.

That’s great! But people who visit me shouldn’t have to feel that they have to be any more than who they are. And I know I’ve had these moments where I was going to prioritize my first tier people and my second tier people and my third tier people and my fourth tier people, depending on how much energy they take from me and how negative they are. That way I could put up a sign that says “I’m only taking visits from first tier people today and your name’s not on the list!” [laughs]

But then there are those people, who are friends — and I kind of define friend as someone who will be forgiven in advance for something I would absolutely not tolerate in anybody else — so I look at who is in the first tier and think “Huh. You are really no less obnoxious than people in the fourth tier.” It’s just that at some point I have developed compassion for them or stopped seeing them as others and seen who they are with all of their hurts.

So, though I realize that the people I care most dearly about will never make the cut, [laughs] I’ve had expectations that old relationships will change. I expected that they would be different — deeper, more enlightened. I’m acutely aware that they’re not. Still, when things are said, they carry more weight. I find that I am looking for nuances and they’re still the same bumbling people they always were. It’s shocking and lovely all at the same time.

I was angry with my friend Ruth when she died recently because she didn’t take time to bless anyone, to say something kind, to spend individual time with them. So I feel some responsibility there. The duties of the dying. Jung talks about reciprocal communication. When people are in an honest exchange with one another, it leads to the growth of both parties. Reciprocity is a challenge.

Sometimes I find that I have deleted the reciprocal part, that I expect others to be with me in the experience that I’m actually having, to be that mature and that zen; and if they’re having problems with the experience they’re actually having, they should get themselves to therapy. Because I can’t do it. I can’t do it. Well, is it true or is it selective? That’s what I’m wondering. Is there a way that I can be more present to others while asking that they be there for me?

Is it true or is it that since we come from a culture of abuse of power, suddenly I have this extra power and what you do with extra power is that you become insatiable. You don’t give. I mean in our structure it’s about demanding and getting what you want. And you only worry about what other people want when you’re trying to maintain the power structure. So this question, “Do I really have the energy for it?” or, “Here I am, expecting people to bring their whole self into this setting and I refuse because I have limited energy?” Because I can’t bring my whole self because I have limited energy? So there’s this whole continual learning around whether I’m living well with metastatic disease or dying pathetically from cancer. And who decides?


From our second conversation, late October, 2007

The Secret,” Again

There’s a huge challenge in being diagnosed with terminal cancer at a time when everyone is reading “The Secret.” Not only do people come up and ask, “What did you do to attract this?” but there’s a big confusion between focus and intention and attraction.

Attraction is what happens when flies come to dead meat. I don’t think that the flies sat there and visualized that meat. Who is doing the attracting? It’s the meat attracting the flies. So, for example, when Marie and I chose this house, there were criteria we wanted and that we continued to look for so we would know it when we saw it; I think that’s focus. If you want something to happen you focus on it.

A friend, who calls herself a Witch, says, “If you want to manifest something, you have to spell it out — be really clear about specifically what you want.” I have no conscious recollection of spelling out cancer. The other thing — and I just about chewed somebody’s head off for this one — is the arrogance of other people who think they could know what I attracted.

These are probably the same people who, when they go to a maternity ward, ask to see the afterbirth. During the last year I feel like I’ve attracted support, a sense of community, a greater capacity for loving and feeling and getting love, and I think cancer is just a very ugly birth canal. They’re completely missing what may have passed through that birth canal, which I hope is what I was actually attracting. So that’s why I say they’d rather look at the afterbirth than the baby, because they don’t have the eyes to see. And if it doesn’t conform to what they think would help them feel secure, it’s just too scary.

We’re not as young as we would hope. And we have no control.

On “Hope,” Other Choices, and Social Support

Hope. Well, I’m flopping around on that. You know what Derrick Jensen, the anarchist and writer, said about hope: “Hope binds us to the unverifiable and blinds us to possibility.”

My expected course was to take tremendous chemotherapy that would kill me with the hope that it would give me health and length of time on the other end. That was the hope. But in taking that hope, you shut off all other options, and particularly options that might possibly lead to individual meaning and standing up against the machine. But that takes individual choice. And it’s dangerous and frightening to other people when we make these choices.

And it’s frightening to you too, because you lose social support. And you don’t know that you can make other choices that will still get you social support.

People don’t want to talk about any of it. Or even think about it. I mean, “What would you rather have? A catered reception with an open bar or a lead-lined box?” And then people say [about arrangements they choose after the person dies], “That’s what she would have wanted.”

People just don’t want to hear about it. They’re not there; they don’t want to make that decision now. And if the one who’s received a terminal diagnosis is determined to make decisions that lessen people’s future suffering, it’s even hard to get social support for that. In my case, not wanting to bankrupt my partner. Making sure that things like the trust are in order. Making sure that we’ve separated our assets. Making sure there’s a professional guardian in place should we need to spend down my assets and move into a publically supported situation. Making sure I get the hospice that I want lined up rather than having people making choices for “happy hearts and helping hands” and incompetence — when I do know who is competent and who isn’t.

All that kind of stuff. Choosing to go work three-quarter-time because it has short- and long- term disability associated with it, and half-time doesn’t. And it also has three times my annual pay in insurance policies with no preconditions — but I have to decide to die with my boots on. So gosh, you know, best to get pneumonia and leave people better off.

My Daily Schedule

On an average day I wake early, do my email and news, have a fruit smoothie. I go into the office three days a week — to meetings, and to see people who want to have conversations about dying. That is a kind of peer coaching, and my supervisor allows it as part of my job. I have great autonomy. I have lunch and then I go home.

The days I stay home I do light editing. I don’t have to write the newsletter, just wordsmith the hard copy a little. I’m more productive at home because I can focus. They’ve set me up so my work computer is actually at home. It’s hard for me, I’m dyslexic, I count on spellcheck. And just my general awkwardness, my focus is not the best. I can manage that better at home.

I’m still on the board of the YWCA so I show up at their luncheons. I have people who give me rides, particularly at night. For awhile I didn’t drive because I didn’t want to drive and take pain meds. I’m not on pain medication now, so I watch energy levels for transportation. I’m not currently in pain. I was in pain last winter, before that surgery. And as I said, I’m feeling stronger. So I suspect that my trajectory will be that I will continue to feel quite strong until the tamoxifan can no longer keep the beast at bay. And then the cancer will roar back with a vengeance.

Need for Precise Timing When I Die 

I think it will come back very quickly and I will go downhill very quickly. That’s the hope. In terms of planning, because I am not doing conventional chemotherapy, I am considered right now to be hospice eligible. If I go by the professional definitions, they’ve given me six months or less to live. I think I probably have a little longer than that. I don’t know; I certainly don’t know. But I do know that I have failed to achieve Medicare, since I’m not sixty-five.

My mother was on Medicare and on hospice for 18 months. I will be 63 in February. My individual insurance carries a six-and-a-half month benefit. So failure to achieve Medicare means that I have to time my death a little more precisely. [laughs]

I was smart enough from the first time I had cancer, to have private insurance, and it’s not tied to my employment. Which is very nice. So I can drag my employment out as long as I can and when I can no longer work, I’m still insured as long as I can pay $600 a month. So we have to plan that pretty carefully too.

Medicare and Medicaid used to do an 18-month look back.  Now they do five years. What that means is, if a person wants their children to inherit their house and some of their property and they give title to the house to their children, so that their nursing home or whatever will be paid for by Medicare, then as soon as they have used up their 90 days of Medicare, Medicare looks back for the assets that they had for five years before that and detaches those from the children. And if they haven’t been signed over, the house and the property estate immediately becomes attached and the children can’t remove anything from the house — no paintings, no jewelry, no furniture, nada. They can be very aggressive about that.

So the advantage of being lesbian partners, not able to be married, is that we don’t have to worry about immediate spousal impoverishment.

So there’s all this stuff I have to try and put in place or at least sketch in so that when the crisis is upon me, I can focus on the importance of being with the dying process rather than running to the attorney. And nobody really wants to get these things in place ahead of time. Nobody wants to think about dying. Marie, my partner, and I are doing really well with that. We can navigate that and come to those places where we can do it without one or the other of us going into denial or dragging our heels.

How has it changed our relationship?  It has given me an opportunity to see Marie as a much bigger person than I realized. She spends the evenings listening to Pema Chodron, various teachers. Meditation practice. Seeing a therapist. But basically she’s learning to be there with great equanimity.

Dying at Home, or in Residential Hospice?

I think that dying at home is sometimes overrated. There’s a residential hospice here that’s basically a hotel that I’ve been very critical of because it’s the designer version of death. But it’s absolutely lovely and has French doors that open on a meadow and it has 24-hour care and places for loved ones to stay overnight and for visitors to hang out in the lobby with you — instead of in your house creating worry for your loved ones who are trying to get you to eat and taking care of you all hours of the damn night.

So there’s a point where, just because of ease and comfort, Marie really has to know, and she does, that that is an option. That I would not opposed to living there with people who could be there rather than those who wish they could. And so tomorrow we’re going to visit and do a walk through so that she can be familiar with the place and the people. I also think I’m propping myself up; but because I’ve been doing this end-of-life project for five years now, it matters where I choose to have my hospice care. And because I have done all this end-of-life work, people will be watching which hospice I choose. And the organization will be extra careful to make sure I get good care. [laughs]

All of this is not philosophical, but it is essential.

My Core Spirituality

I feel like I have been extraordinarily fortunate in cultivating a spirituality that never saw me as separate from wholeness so I don’t have anywhere to go, I mean, I’m not going to be separated out. So I tell people that I’m going to go to that place where they store the clouds. Or where they put the yellow until the sunflower comes up again. Because I do like that Thich Naht Hahn quote about how when conditions are right they manifest and if they’re not, you don’t see them.

I was wondering the other day, what is my core spirituality? And I think it’s fluid sentience. Fluid sentience. “Being” is an adjective, not a noun. The flow of sentience through different manifestations. I identify with that process of flowing rather than the manifestation. Just like rivers have a process identity, so do people; they only change to become more of what they are. So I feel very confident about that.

It takes the monarch butterfly three generations to complete the single process we call the migration to and from Mexico. Yet Western medicine would put a caterpillar on life support rather than allow it to turn into a butterfly. “Resist Transformation!” seems to be the prime directive of the medical establishment. We simply fail to see that individual lives are transforming and that they are participating in a much larger process. So I get very fascinated by that larger process I’m aligned with but am not consciously aware of. Because I’m confident it’s there.

I told somebody the other day that I was unpixellating what was tightly pixelated — I am feeling more spacious. Like outer space. Spaciousness.

How I Want to Live until I Die

People only have awareness of what dying from the treatment of cancer looks like. That’s all they know. They know bald heads, they know puffy moon faces from steroids, they know all of that stuff but they don’t know what dying itself looks like.

My doctor said, “Well, it’s obvious to me that it’s important to you to be recognizably yourself in the world.”  And I thought, that’s what it is. For as long as I can, I will be recognizably myself. People say, “Why don’t you go to Hawaii? Don’t you want to take a trip or something?” and I don’t want to go away from here and do that. That’s not recognizably who I am. I have to keep doing what I’m doing.

Living with Others’ Fears of Cancer

In response to my remark about a mutual friend who hated the chemo that made her so horribly sick as she neared death and said she kept it up because to stop would be too hard on her friends: 

Yes. And for the very reason she said: it’s just too confusing for other people. I’m trying to sit down with people individually and say “This is my choice [not to take chemo]; this is why I’m making it.” It has been interesting and difficult. I feel better prepared to have that conversation than most.

The other day someone asked, “How are you doing and what are you doing?” and I told them sleeping and then I I’m going to go see an attorney, and she said, “Why are you writing yourself off?” I said, “I’m not. I’m just going to go see an attorney.” But the real explosive things they say, like, I was wiggling my fingers in a team meeting at work, kind of drumming them nervously, and the person next to me, who I consider a friend, said “What’s that? Now you’ve added Parkinson’s to your repertoire?” [laughs]

I said “Whoa, Christie, you are really mad at me for being sick, aren’t you?” Just bursting out in the middle of a meeting. Two or three people kind of went pale, silent, recognizing that she might be rude, but I just thought “Wow, you are really angry!” Four years ago when she first met me I said something about being an ovarian cancer survivor, and she said that she told herself right then, “Oh, ovarian cancer. I’m not going to invest much emotionally in this one!” She decided to be distant.

Well, as life would have it, she did invest emotionally in me, and now I’m doing this. What kind of crap is that?

Yet fundamentally, we are tender-hearted. And that’s why they say that terminal illness is the new American sabbatical, because this is where you finally get support, you actually get support for slowing down, and people actually risk their tender heart. And that’s why hospice workers and people like that say that this is the best work because they risk their self-importance and access their humanness for a minute—and they get to do it for years.

She-Bear, 2007

I wrote a poem; it’s called “She Bear 2007.”

Where else can she go?

The expanse of ice ripping the ocean at the top of the world

Had always been the way to survival.

Now in open water 60 miles away from solid ice

She is adrift in the sea and drowning.

As her known world crumbles with the arctic ice

She calls for her cubs and she dreams of seal.

You do what you have done to be recognizably yourself even as it crumbles under you. What else can you do? Just one ice floe to the next.








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AK Reader: So the Soul May Shine Through (1992)

I wrote this long, philosophical, and deeply personal essay, archived in A.K. Reader since 2013, when I was 50 years old, 20 years ago! Published in Crone Chronicles #17, 1993, I offer it here again as a gift to others, especially women, who have faced and embraced similar struggles, so that we may learn how to move through them into wholeness.

I especially love this old essay in the context of my newfound discovery of the resonance I, at 76, feel with 80-year old Australian and feminist icon Germaine Greer, whose watchword for women has always been FREEDOM.

And, I especially love this re-post on Soul also, in context with my scare, earlier this week, re: AI, via the supposed animatronic at the Denver Airport, and how it seemed to make nonsense of the human soul.

Though my son Colin assures me that this figure was NOT AI, I know that the whole subject of AI will be increasingly important in the future. And that those of us who are still focused on Earth, and her organic processes, will be hard put to remain sane!

Re: this consideration. See post on AI “dreams” sent by Reader Rose, and her comments:

Hi Ann . . . thought you might find this info thought-provoking. 
As an aside . . . I am holding the mirror up to self, checking for the source of personal bias on this issue and realize that I am actually grieving the gradual loss of ‘The Organic’ in the Artificial Intelligence paradigm which appears to be a notable facet of The Future as many bright, young people embrace  AI concepts.
Battling the future may be unrealistic . . . think  the ancient’s (purported) resistance to the wheel . . . yet the young people as exemplified in your community endeavors give rise to the concept that we humans will be able to strike a balance between The Organic and The Inorganic.



So the Soul May Shine Through

Looking back on my life from this vantage point of fifty years, I realize that I have been obeying one primary directive, ever since I woke up in a Boston hospital bed when I was 26 years old. I have been following the directive of my own inner voice. This guidance has been the source of (what I would call) the primary relationship in my life: between my outer personality and my inner self, or soul. My outer personality interacts with the world; my inner Self guides my choices in both determining which experiences I shall have and what meaning I will give to those experiences.

My commitment to the relationship between my outer expression and my inner soul’s life has been absolute. It has meant that, whenever I have reached an important crossroad, I have taken the path I knew was mine, even when it was extremely difficult. In essential matters, I feel I have made no compromise. And because I have refused to compromise, I can look back now and see that, for the first time in my life, the path ahead is clear. As the first half of my life was spent hacking my way through a jungle of social and cultural institutions and taboos, so the second half will be spent creating a world around me which reflects the wisdom gained from those experiences.

[Interesting that, at 76, I am now halfway through my second 50 years!]

My commitment to my own soul’s directive has been profound, so unswerving that I have, on three occasions, let go of relationships that most others would consider primary. Each time the choice came up, the situation felt wrenching, excruciating. Impossible, really. There was no way I could do it. The relationship was too fundamental, too profound. Yet as the months would drag on, and I would feel the relentless internal pressure for this change, in the end I would surrender. I had to. The only other option was to die. So these three choices, impossible at the time, were also utterly necessary.

The first impossible choice was to separate from my own children.

The second was to separate from the man I dearly loved.

The third is one which I am undergoing now: separation from my own parents.

The first separation was from my own children. The year was 1972. I was 29. They were five and seven years old. I had no idea that I was going to leave them. Not at all. I was planning to take them with me to California, where I had landed a plum teaching job in an experimental college. Their father was going to fight for custody. He was obsessed with the idea of keeping them in Boston with him. His own father had died when he was five. He was determined not to let his sons grow up without a father. The struggle between us was bitter, escalating, and threatened to end up in court with the children as both pawns and witnesses.

One night, a few months before I was due in California, a good friend of mine talked with me about my children. Her two boys were the same ages as mine and she had been a single mother since her youngest was a few weeks old. I was obsessing, as usual, about how awful their father was, how I didn’t want him to have them, and she looked directly in my eyes and said, very slowly, “Ann, to take your kids with you to California just because you don’t want them to remain with their father is not a good reason to take them to California.” I was stunned.

She paused to give me time to absorb this shocking statement, and then went on to outline the benefits of their remaining with their father. They would return to the same wonderful experimental school (where she was a teacher, and where all the teachers were attuned to the emotional needs of the children); they would be in the same neighborhood and have the same friends; there were many people there who loved them and would help watch over them. We both agreed that even though their father was not the ideal parent, neither was I. For many years I had been distracted. My nose was in a book, or I was working on my dissertation.

That was the first time I even considered allowing them to remain with their father. And immediately, when I thought about it, I felt a profound sense of relief. This troubled me. Did I really want to leave them behind? Didn’t I love my children? Yet it was true. I had always found motherhood to be an extremely difficult, demanding task. From the beginning, despite my love for them, I had felt trapped. As if this was not my real life. As if my real life was on hold.

So they remained with their father, who hated and blamed me for leaving and attempted to make my children hate me, too. I hated myself, felt horribly guilty, and wondered what was wrong with me. I had never known a woman to leave her own children. Nor had anyone I knew. It was the end of the ’60s. Profound cultural forces were beginning to detonate the nuclear family through certain individuals — usually woman — who were, for reasons unknown to them, moved to go in directions they did not understand.

That first separation was the hardest. Terrible on my children, who experienced the brunt of their father’s bitterness and their mother’s seeming remoteness. Terrible for me, as well. Underneath, I longed for my boys, and ached to see them again, hold them again. I despised myself for what I was doing. What mother would leave her own children? There is no more unnatural act. I knew it, and so did everyone else. I internalized my own, my husband’s, and society’s judgments against me and I felt like a freak of nature. For many many years, I shut myself down so completely that I was numb. For my own continued survival, I dared not touch the profound feelings bottled inside.

The second separation was from my first love, with whom I had spent my teenage years and then married when we were thirty-two. Ours was a storybook relationship. He had been high school president. I had been tops academically. Our families were personally connected, and our fathers were prominent in our small Idaho town where we reunited as adults after Tom had become editor of the local newspaper.

During the few years between leaving my children and marrying the man I will call here “Tom,” I had stripped myself of just about every taboo from my childhood. I was so wild and unpredictable. Crazy, some said. Yet it seemed as if our marriage was a dream come true. Our parents were clearly relieved; finally, these two kids would be happy, back in each others’ arms. And for the first year we were. Deliriously, gloriously happy.

That first year we were in heaven, emotionally soothing the wounds we had incurred since leaving each other at nineteen, each marrying the wrong person on the rebound. Thank God we had found one another again! My gratitude was profound. I was truly happy for the first time in my life. The sense of security, of safety and comfort with him, was absolute. For months and months, I felt as if wrapped in golden light.

Then one morning — I’ll never forget that morning — we were on a pack trip in the Sawtooths, and the night before, for the first time, I had not wanted to make love. I woke up this morning and asked myself who I was, who he was. Who were we as adults? What was his world-view? What was mine? We spent the next twelve months talking as passionately as we had clung to each other physically during that first year. It became obvious that our lives were going in different directions; that I was not the kind of person who could function well as the “wife of the editor of the local newspaper.” Finally, I began to say to him, “I can’t stay with you and do my work!” And he would ask, plaintively, but with his usual stoic patience, “But Ann, what is your work?” “I don’t know!” I would wail. I had no idea what my work was. All I knew was I couldn’t do it with him.

For many months I felt torn between my freedom to go and “do my work,” whatever it was, and my love for him. But the pendulum gradually slowed down and stopped. I knew I had to go. The only question was when.

I had matured from the first painful but necessary choice to leave my children. That first time, my personality was a bundle of neurotic and repressed reactions to events. I had no idea who I was; all I knew was I had to go take that job in California. Since then I had seen the children only in the summers, and it was always a strain for all of us. There were so many emotions that none of us could afford to feel.

This time, though I knew I had to go, I also knew I had to do it the “right” way. It was as if, when I left my children with their father, the only imperative was to leave as soon as possible, no matter what the cost. This time the rules had changed. Internally, I was guided to leave, but only when the situation was ripe. I knew that I could not leave until Tom was ready. The intuitive part of myself that is the voice of the soul, now a regular and respected guide in my life, told me to honor the process between us.

I look at this now and sense that each time I have been guided to accept a wrenching personal change, one I would never have thought of in my wildest dreams, I have been given an ethical directive that is exactly equal to what I am capable of doing. The first time was simple, and final. “Go, and do not return.” At that point, after twenty nine years of living a lie, I was so internally twisted and battered that I could do no more.

The second time the guidance was subtler, more complex. I had to commit myself to the process with Tom, and if it took twenty more days, twenty more years, or twenty more lifetimes, my leaving was to be the outcome of our process, not just my decision by fiat. It’s as if this new and transformed way of life, this way that forges stronger and stronger links between soul and personality, requires me to understand that there is a new ethics involved, one to which I will be introduced gradually, as I grow to become capable of following its guidelines.

Unlike the first time, when I felt desperate, both emotionally battered and internally violent, the second time I knew intuitively that I was being guided. Understanding this was in itself immensely helpful in giving me the patience, and the faith, to go through the process with Tom.

Again, I was in a situation which had no protocols. Just as I had never known a woman who left her own children, so now I had never known a woman to leave the man she had loved her whole life, and who had made her feel utterly and totally secure. Especially for reasons that I didn’t understand! What was my work? And how would I support myself until that work, whatever it was, supported me? There were no answers to these questions. There was only that unswerving directive. “Work it through with Tom to the point where you are free to go.”

We did. Amazingly enough, it only took about six months before he said, “Okay, Ann, you are free to go.” And he meant it. It was hard on him, but he had internalized the change. Shortly after I moved out, he called me to ask if I would go skiing with him for the day. I mentioned a friend of mine, who had the day off from work, and suggested he call her instead. She too had recently separated from her husband. Tom and “Jane” got together that day and the two of them have now been happily married for ten years.

[Now, in 2019, over 40 years!]

I’ll never forget our actual divorce. Jane was our witness, and she sat in the courtroom with Tom at a discreet distance, holding hands behind the high backed pews. I took the stand and told the judge the story of our abiding love, of my increasing need for freedom over the past year, and how that need for freedom had finally overcome our love. That night, Jane babysat Tom’s child (by his first marriage), and he and I went out to celebrate our divorce, make love one last time.

That was in 1976. Over the years since then the three of us have evolved into members of an extended tribe. The feeling of security I experienced with Tom grows and deepens as an abiding sense of community security.

I speak here as if it was an easy matter for me to “work it through with Tom,” that our only problem was his. The truth is, however, that I had to spend many more years working through this relationship internally. Indeed, I would say that it was not until three years ago that I truly did let him go, that I did not compare every man in my life to him, that I did not dream of him regularly. Indeed, I would say now that my fantasy of Tom, of getting back together with him someday, meant that I could not enter a new relationship and be fully there with that person. Recognition of this fact came slowly. It was as if I preferred my utopian dream to any actual reality. As if I felt that at least there, in my imagination, I could be happy. What changed things for me was the sudden shocking recognition that what I was “in love with” was not Tom the adult man that he is today, but my teenage fantasy of him, immortalized as the golden nirvana just ahead — and forever out of reach.

So, as much as I would like to say that Tom and I had a “conscious divorce,” that we were ahead of our time in forging a new way to let go, that we were an example for others in truly doing that, the truth is more complicated. At the time I was able to behave as if that were true — and it was! My fiery nature had taken over, and was propelling me out of that situation into an unknown future. On the other hand, processing the feelings involved took another ten years! It’s as if the hidden emotional aspect of myself runs on a slower vibration than the more obvious intellectual and spiritual aspects, and that therefore the process of full integration is both long and complex. It’s as if my life has been a sort of fugue, the different voices echoing each other on different levels, and coming in at different times. But until I realize its fugal quality, it often feels like cacophony, as various aspects within me are twisted in different directions at once by seemingly conflicting forces.

Meanwhile, six years ago, another old emotional layer of myself — one which had been stuck forever, it seemed — began to vibrate again. It was during the Harmonic Convergence (August, 1987) — I was twirling in a Sufi dance with thirty others in a giant ceremonial yurt in the Tetons — when I received another inner directive. In the middle of that dance I heard the voice again, this time strong and booming: “You must finish your personal karma by the end of the year.”

I knew what the voice referred to. And I refused it, immediately. “NO! He’s an asshole and I never want to see him again!”

But the voice kept coming, over and over again for the next few days, whispering, like a mantra. As usual, I had to surrender. I had to go back to encounter the father of my children, to give him the gift of my presence as he unloaded all his venom upon me. I had to do this without either fighting back or letting it wound me. Simply, my presence, and my permission, were necessary for him to release it. Only when that had been accomplished could I reconnect with my children again, whom I had not seen or spoken to for six long years.

I had no idea what form this meeting would take when I got the message I was to go there. Again, there were no protocols. I had never known a woman to go back to the man who hated her and allow him to dump his poison on her without psychic damage. All I knew was I had to do it, and I asked my unconscious to help me understand how to go about this unwelcome task. By the time I arrived in Boston, three months later, I was internally prepared. I knew exactly what would happen, and I knew how I was to respond. Meanwhile, during those three months, I received the gift of grace: my hatred for him had been transformed into compassion. I no longer saw him as a monster. I had climbed inside him, and what I felt was the little boy who had been abandoned by his father’s death when he was five. For him, my leaving had triggered that old pain.

The actual ordeal took four hours. Four hours of sitting in his little house, across from him at the kitchen table we had bought when we were first married. Four years of being blasted with fifteen years of pent-up hatred. Four hours of seeing him as that furious little boy and neutralizing his fury as it flowed past me. I felt as if I were in a dream, utterly prepared, poised, and accepting his feelings with graciousness. After it was over, I hugged him, and though his mouth was still judging me, his body was clutching me, trembling. I knew we had succeeded. I felt triumphant. The door was now open for a return to my children.

So, though the first directive for separation, “Go, and do not return,” required nothing more of me ethically at the time, fifteen years later I would receive another directive to heal it. Again, it did not come until I was ready to receive it, and not until I had enough experience trusting the unconscious that I would let it do the work of preparing me. “I” did not have to do a thing, except open to what the unconscious was telling me.

The third painful separation is the one I am undergoing now, separation from my parents, both in their seventies, and still immensely vital people. It may sound silly to say that I must separate out from my parents. After all, I’m 50 years old! Haven’t I done this already?

I admit, there have been times when what I am now doing has felt embarrassing to admit, since everyone I know has separated out from his or her parents — of course! We separate out sometime during our first years after leaving home, at least by the time we’re thirty! And well, maybe we have to do it again around forty, or forty-five . . . But that’s it! Never again! By this time we are done with that difficult and messy business.

I thought so too. And yes, of course, I have separated from them — over and over again. And yet, wanting to be loyal to my roots, over and over again I have returned to the fold (as the eldest of eight children). Each time I have done this, I thought I was becoming more detached, and so, of course, could live with the differences between us. Now I realize that in order to be around them, I’ve had to hold myself in a certain place. Rein myself in. Not be me. For their sake, I’ve tried to “lighten up;” “not be so intense.” Or, I’ve played the fool: awkward, dropping things, stumbling — this way I could be myself and have everybody laugh at me. Nobody had to acknowledge me. I could be there in disguise. Or, finally, the worst alternative: I could become loud and aggressive, even exaggerating my differences with them, for shock value. I was disguising my natural vulnerability and sensitivity, for fear they would violate it again.

Every time the conflict between our value-systems erupted again, and I left them again, it was in fury. When I finally had had enough! When I couldn’t take any more of my father’s righteous Catholic judgments against who I am and what I do! Each time this happened, it hardened me against them — and hardened me against myself, so that I couldn’t feel what was happening inside. Each time I hated his judgments, and judged him in return. Not until the past few months did I have any idea how much energy has been trapped in that repeating pattern. Nor have I understood, until now, that underneath, despite my righteous fury, at an inchoate, preverbal level — the very early age when I had originally internalized his judgments — I believed him. He was right. I was a worthless human being, ashamed of being alive.

Naturally, I didn’t want to feel this. Who does? So I threw it back at him. And yet I did feel it; it permeated my life as a subtle ether; that vague, confusing and primordial feeling of worthlessness was the very air I breathed, the cloudy filter I saw things through. I was in a trance, a passive unconscious victim of my father’s unconscious mental and emotional abuse of my entitlement as a human being. His judgment upon me was my own upon myself, and manifested externally as a lack of material abundance throughout my life.

I didn’t understand the real meaning of this, because I had built up a world-view which both rationalized it and separated me out from him. I was an idealist, not a materialist! All my adult life I have been openly contemptuous of — and yet secretly resentful and jealous of — others whose lives have been more abundant than mine. This has manifested most obviously in the difficulty I have had with money, with allowing money — and other forms of energy — to enter my life and nourish me. I saw my life as hard, difficult; I had to work hard for what I got, and then the most I deserved was the bare minimum necessary to make expenses and still survive.

These are all root assumptions which have dug their claws into the soil within which I was planted, bound that soil up into tight little clods which were then trampled into hardpan. So that no matter how much I wanted to stretch myself beyond where I already was, I could not. There was a level beyond which I could not go.

During the last year or so, I have been allowing gravity to take me, sinking down deeper and deeper into that hardpan soil. Feeling its claustrophobic, cement-like quality. Breathing into it. Digging through the soil and letting air in, light in. I am digging down, down, to get at the entire root structure of those old assumptions of scarcity, and pulling the whole thing up. Getting it out of my garden. I do not need it anymore.

And in the process I am realizing that I have to separate out from my parents once again, but this time consciously, this time with love. I hold them in my heart. I know they know not what they do. I realize that my German father’s tyrannical behavior is a repeat of his own German father’s, and that he cannot be held accountable for what he does not yet understand in himself. I realize that my mother’s need to align with her husband, despite her agony over losing her first-born child, is her fundamental priority as a woman of her generation.

He aligns with the Catholic Church. She aligns with him. I align with my own inner directive. The conflict between me and them was both tragic and unavoidable. I now see that. At this point the question becomes, how to separate with love? What does that mean?

It feels to me that in order to separate out from my parents I must, paradoxically, feel our connection. Feel it on a deeper level than I have ever acknowledged before. And to feel that connection is to feel the pain of separation. A pain which spreads out into the abyss, shadows it like the sun does, in settling beneath the horizon. I surrender to the darkness, and honor it. Honor the life we have known together, the lifelong drama, the struggle for dominance which my patriarchal father and I have been engaged in. Armed to the teeth with judgments, we have been battling it out on the plains of Armageddon forever.

And now the battle is done. I lay down my judgments, and surrender to our souls’ connection. I understand that our conflict resides on the personality level, and does not touch the soul. Indeed, the very depths of despair we have all felt in this situation is testimony to the depths of connectedness we all do feel. One does not go through such agony unless the soul is involved. Only with such soul-mates, do we feel this kind of separation so deeply. And that is the point: though we must now let each other go in this life here on Earth, we are forever linked, and we shall not cease to know each other, to hold each other in our hearts, to cleave as one. We are one family. We have always been one family. And this learning to give each other the space we need to become even more truly ourselves appears to be our souls’ lesson now. A lesson leaned through suffering. A lesson which hopefully, we will later recollect in joy.

It took my fifteen years before I could even begin to integrate the feelings involve in the separation from my children.

My fantasies of Tom endured for twelve years after we agreed to separate.

This time I am processing the feelings now, during the separation itself.

It is in noticing such changes within my own larger evolutionary thrust that I sense the gradual embodiment of soul with my personality.

So that the soul may shine through.

I look forward to the next fifty years.

[The separation between me and the folks went forward for a few years, and then we did return, in joy. Long stories, as usual!]

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Germaine Greer, for whom, at 62, Mother Earth was Healer and Teacher

I found myself so entranced with Germaine Greer as a role model for my own “second generation” feminist consciousness that I decided to briefly check out her astrological chart.

Not surprised to see that her Pluto, at 1° Leo, sits on the Descendant, exactly opposite her 1° Aquarian Ascendant and midpoint between Aquarian Sun and Capricorn Mercury, itself in an exact trine with mystical Neptune. Now 80 years old, she still takes on all comers linguistically, no matter how powerful, with logic, verve and alacrity. Passionate Mars at 29° Scorpio trine Pluto and sextile that Ascendant/Mercury/Sun combo adds deep reserves of energy to pull out at a moment’s notice and apply to the subject at hand, expressed over the decades in her speeches, interviews, and written works. She is interested in investigating and debating the conundrums and complexities of the entire social order (Sun in Aquarius), and meanwhile can take on any Plutonian foe with stunning, one-line zingers, endless wit, and immense personal presence!

That Ascendant/Descendant/Mercury/Sun/Pluto/Neptune with Mars combination  was the first thing I noticed. Then, a close second, her Moon/South Node/Uranus conjunction, rooting into the bottom of her chart, in steady stubborn Taurus! Aha, so this is where her shock-value comes in! For it’s true, many of her out-of-the-box remarks are flung with such strong Uranian audacity, that they cannot help but stun people out of long-held attitudes.

Though a long-term gardener, she has been known mostly as a public intellectual, especially in England, Europe, and her native Australia, ever since her 1970 book The Female Eunuch.

Unlike many intellectuals, who are only barely in their bodies, much less connected to planet Earth, her Moon/South Node/Uranus in Taurus showed up in spades when she decided to find some part of the Australian landscape that she could “fix.” And, as she said in the following video, she was under no illusion that she could change the world by doing so. Rather her strong desire arose out of personal necessity, to heal her despairing heart.

I find it significant that she began this project shortly after her second Saturn return, at 62. In other words, she decided, then and there, that she would commence her third cycle of Saturn by relinking, in a powerful way, her own Taurus body’s full sensual remembrance of an entire ecosystem within Taurus Earth.

Though I doubt she looked at her situation astrologically then, I do look at it that way now, and view Germaine Greer as a vibrant inspiration for what we still-flourishing crones and elders need to be pioneering, in one way or another, not only in defense of, but in full restoration of, our dear Mother Gaia.

Now, when Uranus has moved into Taurus once again, for the next seven years, and heading towards her first ever Uranus Return (at 84), this steadfast, faithful, and determined “contrarian” woman demonstrates the direction of fully human beings, when we agree to remember our original communion with the Mother and let Her show us the way. For She will, and She can. And She did; the animals and birds and insects and native plants and trees came back to the rainforest. Indeed, she says, they had never left. They were waiting for someone like her to arrive and agree to participate in restoring our home planet’s full, interwoven beauty and abundance.

This video made me cry, and brought me right back here, to Green Acres Permaculture Village where we continuously invite a deeper communion with both each other and the Earth under our feet inside a typical American suburb.

I have ordered her book White Beech: The Rainforest Years.
There are lots of other videos of her interviews and speeches through the decades on youtube. Such a treasure! Gratitude.

How about it? For the next seven years, as eruptive Uranus moves through Taurus, we cooperate with the Earth Mother in reconfiguring this dear planet back to the original blessing that she bestows upon all her creatures, including ourselves.

Are we up for it? Do we dare?

Pick a place. Dig in. One step at a time, one step after another, let Her show us the way.

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