“A.K. Reader” contains archival essays that I decide are still of value. I also archive astrology essays, but under a separate page.
The Essay Form
The word “essay” comes from the French essayer: “to try or attempt” (to understand). Even when seemingly surefooted and clear, my writings are but posits in infinity.
I have been writing a great deal of the time since 1985. That was when my unusually rapid nervous system finally synchronized with innovations in technology so that thoughts could fly through my fingers onto the screen — and the page. Before then, my thoughts would vanish before I could finish writing or typing. So, while I’m at heart a Luddite, I’m also immensely grateful for computer technology.
What got me started was a phone call from a man whose Apple IIe I had seen in San Francisco while visiting there as a consulting astrologer. He was getting a new computer. Would I like to purchase his old one? The very idea terrified me. I am not a computer geek, even now, and certainly wasn’t then.
When it arrived, I broke down crying. How would I ever learn how to do work on a “computer”? No one I knew had one. I didn’t even know how to set it up.
I resolved to spend one hour per day, no more, so that I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. During that hour I would dedicate myself to learning this new technology.
Within one month I was setting up clients’ astrological charts with a computer program (so much better than doing all of them, including all the math, by hand!).
And within that same month I was writing my first long piece, an autobiography of my first 30 years (the first Saturn cycle). A Soul’s Journey is an attempt to show how the soul, through gentle and not so gentle nudges over time, gradually bends the personality to its will. It was a watershed time, writing that manuscript, which I framed up using Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, and during which I focused, year after year in turn, on unearthing memories and the widening circles of meaning that strung them together. Someday I will publish it, as a printed book. Perhaps I’ll put up parts of it, as pdfs, here. I have yet to see another autobiography with that kind of focus.
Then I started to write astrological essays. And have written hundreds of them, the earliest ones published in a wonderful little magazine, Welcome to Planet Earth, now defunct. Others I published in a “Celestial Navigations” newsletter that I sent out to clients and other interested people once per month. I used to have a website with that name. All of my astrological essays were archived there. Something happened to it that I still don’t understand. . . .
In the early and mid-’90s, a few of my astrological essays were published abroad in a small magazine in England; one was translated into Spanish for a magazine in Spain. Another of these pieces ended up in an anthology dedicated to pioneer astrologer Dane Rudyhar.
Note: I feature the astrology essays on another page.
From 1993 through 2012 I was a columnist in SageWoman Magazine.
Many other essays were published in one of the three alternative magazines that I’ve founded and served as editor: OpenSpace magazine, a community magazine for my home town back in Twin Falls, Idaho (1976-1978), Heartland, a peace activist magazine for the tri-state area of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana (1981-83) and Crone Chronicles: A Journal of Conscious Aging (1989-2001). This last started as a tiny newsletter that grew into a national niche publication that was featured on Good Morning America and received several Small Press award nominations from Utne Reader. (At the request of the publisher, Anne Niven, I also served as founding editor and for awhile, columnist in its successor Crone Magazine from 2007 through 2012).
That leaves the rest of the essays, and that means most of them! Some I’ve collected into bound volumes, for my eyes only — so far.
I published one collection through my own press, Tendre Press, and called it: This Vast Being: A Voyage through Grief and Exaltation (2007). Awarded a “Best Book” winner by U.S.A. Book News in the category of “spirituality,” this volume was composed of journal entries during the first year of my grieving process after the death of my polyglot, polymath, shaman, trickster husband Jeffrey Joel. TVB was my way of memorializing this potent 12-year segment of my long life.
My main problem as a writer is that I don’t like to stop writing! So the sloggy job of actually turning around to nurture something that I’ve already written into some kind of physical form for the public has been difficult. Given my quicksilver, eccentric nature, I’m not inclined to seek an outside publisher, and both times that others contacted me seeking to publish my work ended up failures.
One was the then-publisher of Parabola magazine, who asked me to write the biography of a just-deceased woman whom I had interviewed in Crone Chronicles. When I turned in the completed manuscript a year later, he excitedly called to tell me it was “a tour de force.” Two weeks later, he called again to say that his board wanted me to recast it without an astrological framework. I declined.
The other “failure” occurred when a literary agent contacted me, having seen some of my astrological essays in “Welcome to Planet Earth” — but when I sent him the manuscript we agreed on I waited, for years, while he made one excuse after another as to why he hadn’t actually sent it off — to even one publisher!
I do much better as an independent agent. Which is why I established Tendre Press to publish This Vast Being, and will do so again.
Meanwhile, writing this blog has been a joy. Computer and internet technology and my own seventy-four years of full-on living have finally converged in a way that is both easy and immensely satisfying. My job has always been to open space by observing, integrating and sharing links between Above and Below, and exopermaculture has been perfect as both instrument and avenue for me to do it. I speak, here and now, about what’s going on, both inside and outside, at all levels. The writing is the sharing, without delay.
As Gertrude Stein once said, “I write for myself and one other stranger.” Are you one?
So I put some of my old pieces on this blog, from time to time. The first one I posted on December 13, 2012:
• HUMAN FEAR OF THE BEAR: A Fable for These Times (sometime in the ’80s)
Otherwise, the essays are not in order! Here’s another one, a true story.
• A CONSPIRACY OF ANIMALS (again, in the ’80s)
• MEETING SEKHMET (1993) Also a true story, from a 1993 journey to Egypt. First published in Crone Chronicles, Galina Krasskova collected it into her 2012 anthology, When the Lion Roars: A Devotional to the Egyptian Goddess Sekhmet.
• SO THE SOUL MAY SHINE THROUGH (1997) Published in Crone Chronicles, #17, 1997, this long, philosophical and deeply personal essay chronicles my process of moving through three intensely difficult choices and their aftermath.
• TO BE ONE WITH THE RIVER (1990) Published in Crone Chronicles, Spring 1990, this essay explores the dynamics within a tiny human tribe of former strangers floating for three weeks shoulder to shoulder in rubber rafts down the glorious and forbidding Grand Canyon of the Colorado.
• A DISCOURSE ON LOVE (2007). If I never write another essay, this one stands alone as the history of my evolutionary journey through life. Unpublished. Not very many people can read it. “This essay is driven by an effort to understand and describe the door that can open when we move through the bitterness that attends our discovery of the heart’s terrible longing.”
• HOW I STOPPED SMOKING (for what it’s worth) (2011). This essay describes probably the most important juncture in my life up until that point, and still stands as the moment of which I am most proud! A shortened version of it was published in Branches Magazine. Excerpt: “At the heart of my tale is the heartening news that there do seem to be moments when light suddenly, inexplicably, cracks through the thick walls of our old, stuck habit patterns. These moments of grace feel miraculous, undeserved; and yet, when we look back, we recognize that we have been, consciously or not, preparing ourselves all along.”
• WAKING UP DURING INSOMNIA (2010). Published in Sagewoman Magazine. Excerpt: “As a long-time “awareness practitioner,” within the past year I’ve developed the capacity to actually notice, i.e., consciously witness, my mental and/or physical state during or immediately following the moment when I snap awake at night.”
Excerpt: “Beth told me that she no longer believes in aging. That because of this changed belief, she is actually beginning to reverse her own aging process. That the wrinkles I saw on her face are going away.
“A part of me identified with what she was saying. Another, deeper part of me pulled back, upset. Why? I’m not sure. I’ve heard others talk as Beth does, I’ve seen this view expressed in certain books too, books which I respect. But something about this idea bothers me a great deal. Somehow, it feels like betrayal. Of what, I wonder?”
• THE CRONE CHRONICLES EXPERIMENT 1989-2001 Shown here as a pdf in its Crone Magazine format, this describes my herstory with especially Crone Chronicles, and to a lesser extent Crone Magazine. How to excavate an archetype that has been buried and/or ridiculed for 2000 years? That was the challenge we faced. This essay also tells why and how I left all things Crone behind me. Not that the archetype of Crone is no longer of value to me . . . But, I’ve moved on!
Excerpt: “Only a few months past the first anniversary of my husband Jeff Joel’s death, I abruptly fell into a year-long karmic relationship with a man whose dominating personality mirrored my own. Unlike my relationship with Jeff, the connection with Vince was sexually magnetic; however, I was forced to learn that Vince’s values and ethics were not compatible with mine. This essay was written about half-way through that period of mutual confusion and suffering.”
Beginning with a decidedly personal story, I pay attention to the left/right brain manner in which women create widening rings of meaning from the messy flow of experience.
A dolphin speaks to me in her own language. One of the magical stories about my encounters with wild animals.
A chance childhood project seeds a lifetime of experiments.