Quaran-Tea 1

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Tea Junkies Assemble!

I thought I would pull my blog out of limbo and share something non earth shattering and delicious with fellow tea lovers who are sheltering in place and also those essential workers out on the front lines. Nothing sets you to rights or at least soothes your soul than a good cuppa. Most of us drink it at least some of the time. Apologies for the photos. They are not the best, but I’m making do with my old phone camera. Note: All links open in a separate window so you will not lose your place if you want to investigate.
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Colorful Teapots in a store window, Fort Bragg, California

I’m an unabashed tea addict and despite my limited budget, I’ve built up an excellent stash of tea, such that might rival a hobbit’s pantry if it were food, rather than tea. If you have followed my blog occasionally, you may recall that I lost my home and most of its contents, around a decade ago. I had a small room, about the size of a butler’s pantry dedicated to my collection of teas, cups, pots, books and accessories. Losing the contents was devastating, but over the past ten years I have accumulated a well curated collection of teas. Mostly when I splurge it’s on Harney and Sons Teas. They are high quality and many come in gorgeous decorative tins I can refill. I store most of them on a magnet board in my room.

I usually start my day, whenever it gets started, with coffee brewed in a French press. The rest of the day I mostly drink tea. As a disabled person with chronic insomnia, I don’t have much of a routine. I have very few daily habits and rituals. Tea is the exception. I long for an electric kettle, especially one that has settings for different types of tea, mostly because my stove top is so slow. The ancient electric coil is so pokey that I’ve walked away and completely forgotten it a few times while waiting for it to boil.  Thankfully, haven’t yet boiled my trusty Ikea kettle dry, though I have managed to boil it over! (I don’t recommend it, but I’ve discovered that boiling water is a great way to get your stove top clean.) I usually brew my tea in a small pot and place that on a tea warmer powered by a tea light.  If I am having tea in my room, I usually use the beautiful tea cozy my friend Libby bought me. Whatever is left, usually gets put into a jar for iced tea. Yes, I mix the flavors.

I rarely go more than a day or two without tea. I also keep a tea journal that tracks what I am drinking, if I am running out of something or if I am not impressed. I sometimes doodle in it and make lists of teas I would like to buy. Here are the 7 teas I brewed this week.

TEA NUMBER ONE:

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Bigelow Constant Comment. This has been a favorite of mine since childhood. It’s a classic bracing black tea with the bold flavors of orange and spice. A friend recently posted a recipe to make a knockoff version of C.C. at home, which I will have to try at some point, but I can’t see giving up the original. It’s so good. I remember my mother making Constant Comment tea during my childhood and we both continue to drink it today. I think THIS is the recipe if you want to make your own.

 

As a brand, I’ve found Bigelow to be pretty consistent over the years, especially for an inexpensive bagged tea. Full disclosure; I don’t purchase from them often anymore so I can’t speak for their other teas. They do include steeping instructions on their bags and their teas are Blended and packaged in the USA. 

TEA NUMBER TWO:

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David’s Coffee Cake. This is a loose tea made by a company called David’s Tea. It’s amazing. It tastes sort of like fruitcake, but I’m talking about the really good fruitcake. An old client of mine once gave me a fruitcake, Stollen, made from her German Great Grandmother’s recipe. It was like no Christmas cake I’d ever had before or since The fruit wasn’t cloyingly sweet and chewy; the cake itself was dark and rich. This tea kind of tastes like it could have figs in it, but it doesn’t. A former therapist gifted this tea to me a few years ago and I have stretched it out because David’s doesn’t make it anymore.

David’s makes some very interesting teas. They are pricey, around $10-$12 for a two ounce tin. They are pretty to look at. I recommend reading the ingredients carefully because some of their blends have allergens, artificial flavors or colors, sweeteners added or carrageenan in the mix. They usually make a note of allergens like nuts when they are in the teas. All of their teas are also Blended and packaged in China if that makes a difference to you.

TEA NUMBERS THREE & FOUR:

 

A custom mix:  Harney & Sons New York Blend loose tea mixed with a bag of Stash Sunny Orange Ginger. Sunny Orange is one of my regular go to herbal teas. If you like orange and don’t want caffeine, it’s perfect. Harney & Sons New Yorkis a conundrum to me. It’s an herbal. When I think of New York City the last thing I think of is chamomile tea. It’s really good though: chamomile, ginger root, and peppermint. I find the chamomile flavor a bit overpowering (they use the good stuff) and I felt like adding some citrus might balance everything out. I was right. I will do this again for certain.

Stash used to be one of my favorite tea brands, and for a grabbing a tea bag for a quick cuppa, Stash really can’t be beat for the price. They won’t compare to your high quality black teas, but I have lots of Stash in my tea cache. Occasionally you do find artificial flavors. When they do something well, however, they hit it out of the park. They always list their ingredients, give steeping and temperature directions on the package. If you want a guarantee of non GMO products Stash is also a good one to choose.

TEA NUMBER FIVE:

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Harney & Sons: My Fair Lady. Not much to say about this one, except it’s a nice go to afternoon black tea. My Fair Lady is simply a mix of black tea that is supposed to evoke a classic black tea. And of course came in a beautiful tin. It’s a nice medium body black tea which holds up fine with sugar and milk.

TEA NUMBER SIX:

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Harney & Sons: African Antlers. (Are you seeing a trend here?) This is a weird one. I got a generous sample of this tea and considering it doesn’t take a large quantity to brew a cup or a small pot, I have a few good brews left. You can steep this tea multiple times and still get great flavor. I’m absolutely buying a full tin of this next time I buy tea. It’s literally a bunch of little twigs and buds instead of tea leaves. I’m not usually a fan of white teas, however, the longer you steep this one, the stronger the tea flavor is. It has a nice earthy sweetness and it’s definitely caffeinated!

Harney and Sons is simply top drawer. Every kind of  tea you could hope for in a staggering array of packaging and pricing. They even tell you how much each cup will cost you in a particular package. One of the best things is they often sell small samples for $2 or $3. There are usually enough for 2 to 3 small pots or cups. (You can see how big the sample of African Antlers is at the top of the page. I put it in a small jar) I’ve sometimes been able to eek out as many as 5 or 6 cups from a sample! This has allowed me to try teas I could otherwise never afford.

They have discounts frequently and offer free shipping. The company is based in New York. Because they are shipping in ingredients from all over the world, as a carbon offset they participate in 1% For The Planet which distributes that profit money to a list of environmental organizations. The only thing that frustrates many of us H&S lovers is that they do still use the silken tea bags. These are perfect for brewing, and technically compostable, but if you don’t have an industrial composter, they’ll take years to compost. 

TEA NUMBER SEVEN:

 

And finally, T-We Tea: Scandalous Manfriend! This was another fantastic tea gift, this one from my friend Boyd! I have been just using a little bit at a time, because I want it to last. It helps that I have a lot of tea. If you like spicy teas or Chai this is a great choice! Scandalous Manfriend is made with two types of Darjeeling, heather, spearmint, peppercorn and clove. It also makes a banging iced tea.

T-We Tea started in San Francisco and now makes all of its products in Nevada, so it’s a US company, with an amazing array of blends. I think I made a list once and there were twenty-five teas I wanted to try! (lottery goals) They all have very clever and amusing names, like Chai Hard. (If you’re an uptight pucker pout, some of the names, BiCurious George or LesbiFriends, for instance,  may offend your less attractive sensibilities. The teas  come in square, nicely stackable tins. Most are around $15 for 20-25 cups of tea. You can also buy refills, bulk sizes and empty tins. Probably my only complaint is that the container is far bigger than the amount of loose tea that comes with an order. I would really love the option of a cute little tin half the size.

If you are a tea lover, I hope you will be inspired to try some new things. I may do more of these tea themed blogs. I’m thinking about doing some blogs on books as well. Maybe something light will be a good diversion from the stress we are all going through right now. A note: Nobody is paying me or giving me free tea, darn it. This is not a promotion. I’m just sharing some things I love.

I don’t know exactly how I fell out of posting here. I’ve written plenty. It’s the act of posting that I have stalled out at. When you have a chronic illness sometimes the idea of booting up the computer, arranging paragraphs, and coming up with tags is just too exhausting. I’ve been down physically and emotionally a few times this past year. I lost my beloved cat. It’s just been hard. But I shall persevere! #justkeepswimming

 

Dear Franklin Jones

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A bit of background for context: You may have read previously, that I was involved with a small cult called C.A.Y.A. Coven (Come as you are coven), for several years. A few years after I left I found out the leader, Jessica Matthews, had fled when confronted with abuse allegations, sexual scandals and accusations of criminal behavior. At first, I rejoiced, believing all of my friends in the group would finally be free, but the fallout had varying results and was not as liberating as I had hoped. Some members tried to resurrect the cult as a productive entity. (Now reinvented as Starflower Coven) True believers flocked with Matthews to help her perpetrate a new fraud in Shasta County, Ca. Some went through the motions of healing, without doing any serious processing or taking accountability for their part in the abuse. Instead, they continued with revamped versions or created their own temples and covens that simply followed Matthews’ templates, choosing to wrap themselves up in the parts that felt good and gave them a sense of being special, while pretending none of her slime permeated their practices. 

Many declared themselves, “over it,” but you don’t just “get over,” years of manipulation, gaslighting, and brainwashing, that easily. You just don’t. Many of the coven members abused other coven members at Matthews’ behest or at least, with her encouragement and clearly enjoyed it. Evidently, those who were ruthlessly bullied are supposed to be okay with that because the bullies were victims too. However, there are many, who know they must continue the hard ongoing work that rebuilding one’s life, self esteem, reclaiming one’s psyche and independent thought requires. This is the hard stuff,  the ugly stuff; the fear and self doubt rearing their ugly heads when you least expect it. This is the awareness that just when you think you’re ok, something will trigger you and down you’ll go, in a spiral of anger, sadness or panic. There are also some former members who have, at risk, been brave enough to continue to tell the truth about Matthews. This is helpful in healing and processing what happened, but also carries the hope of raising awareness and protecting others.

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I haven’t spoken or written in detail about much of what I experienced, except to my therapist and a few close friends. Some C.A.Y.A. expats have dismissed my experience, “What could she possibly know or be upset about? She wasn’t even clergy” as if no one else could have been harmed but those directly under Matthews’ control. This mostly tells me, they are not doing the work. I simply never became clergy because I resisted training. I was an irritant to Matthews the entire time I was involved because I am a shitty follower. I ask too many questions. I insist on my autonomy. I made excuse after excuse as to why the timing wasn’t right to enter the clergy. I also bit my tongue, and sometimes cried in private, because no one was going to listen to even my most gentle criticisms, and many of those in denial were people I cared about, being gravely harmed. All I could do is watch and encourage any glimmer of independent thought. I stuck around because I cared deeply about many of the members. I saw them as chosen family. Because I was close friends with one of Matthews’ most valuable puppets, I was allowed in. I was present many times in spaces where only clergy was allowed. Matthews, made exceptions in deference to this person, and possibly to keep me, her  perceived enemy closer. As a result, I listened to EVERYTHING and no one seemed to take notice of my fly on the wall status. Revealing things were carelessly said in front of me on numerous occasions, often when Matthews was under the influence of drugs.

The recent loss of a dear friend, a former C.A.Y.A. priest, who I reconnected with shortly before his death, put me back in the midst of many former members also grieving. This was really uncomfortable, but helped me to realize that many of the people I loved and hoped to reconnect with are just lost to me. There is no picking up with the friendship we had before I left the group. There is no calling bullshit on the denial or delusion I’m observing. Even the people I remain friendly with, save for a handful, are distant and I have a hard time trusting anyone or taking them at face value. I keep my address information private. Few people know exactly where I live. From time to time, I receive threats or am slandered by her followers.  This is a thing that won’t die.

Part of my healing is talking and writing about my experience. I think it’s important to support others who have been through the same thing, to encourage awareness and questioning, to warn others who might be susceptible to losing themselves by following a predatory spiritual leader. One of the things I have been doing is researching modern cults, especially the stories of those who have survived them. It’s affirming to see that anyone in a vulnerable place or anyone who is seeking is at risk, no matter how smart they are. I’m resolved to strengthen the skeptic, the questioner, the independent thinker, in myself and others. This research has helped me process what I watched my chosen family endure and what I went through myself.

I recently finished listening to a podcast that came out via Stitcher, about a year ago called, Dear Franklin Jones. It’s not an in depth expose. The entire thing consists of seven twenty minute episodes, so it’s easily digested in an afternoon. It’s not even particularly damning. This is the experience of Jonathan Hirsch, whose parents brought him up in the Adidam cult. During the podcast, he interviews his parents and several Adidam expats and even current members. The group still has spiritual centers in Fiji and in Northern California. Many of the group members lost their homes in the 2014 fires that swept through Lake County, but the compound itself, along with Jones’ former home, which remains unoccupied,  survived. The podcast uses the wonderful music of Ray Lynch as a soundtrack. Lynch did lose his home and recording studio in the Valley Fire and still has an active GoFundMe in place, where you can read the harrowing details of he and his wife’s escape.

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Jonathan Hirsch

Hirsch has a hard time acknowledging that Adidam is actually a cult. During their combined 17 years in the cult, Jonathan and his parents seem to have been blessed by missing out on the more egregious abuses and manipulations that Jones perpetrated on others. The podcast doesn’t have much in the way of mind-blowing revelations, but it did give me a lot of validation and insight. It’s a good listen and not terribly triggering. As someone who survived a similar thing, it was certainly validating. His parents response is not surprising. I think there are still many former members of C.A.Y.A. who are in denial that they were involved in a cult at all, even though almost every box on the dangerous cult list can be checked. The stories must be particularly baffling for those who merely attended C.A.Y.A’s public rituals and never witnessed the machinations and abuse that went on in private.

There are also a few members of the clergy who can’t make sense of the “Rabbit” face they were always presented with and the monster others have now spoken about. In most cases, these people lived at a distance or retained enough of an outside life that they weren’t fully sucked in. Matthews, ran C.A.Y.A. much like, Jones ran Adidam, where only the members closet to Jones were treated as his slaves, receiving the most manipulation and abuse, always disguised as spiritual lessons. Those who resisted were mocked as, “spiritually immature.” I cringed reading some of the more graphic accounts from those who left Adidam.

Adidam follows the spiritual “teachings” of Franklin Albert Jones AKA Adi Da Samraj which was founded in the early 70’s and has continued after the death of Jones in 2008. Membership has remained small, but constant at about 1,000 followers. (Jones and Adidam rotated through many different names over the years) Followers devote themselves to Adi Da as their guru, a minimum of 10% of their income went to Adidam, most of which supported buying property and supporting Jones / Adi Da. Jones told members what to do, what to think, what to read, when to sleep, who to marry or divorce, and who to have sex with. In the 1980’s scandals hit the news when those who had left the group made complaints of having been raped and coerced into sexual acts. This included minors who were given massive quantities of alcohol, forced to strip in front of adults and have sex with Jones. Somehow, he managed to survive all this and some victims stories were refuted as willingly going along with being humiliated or sexual acts to learn important lessons.  

Many components of what I’ve read about abuse at Adidam, resonates with accounts from former C.A.Y.A. clergy and with things I personally witnessed. Of course Adi Da had a larger influence, private property, and operated during a more permissive time when he was able to get away with misogynistic sexual abuse. What Matthews did was on a much smaller, more intimate scale, but the tactics were still the same; break down autonomy, demand total loyalty and devotion,  and control every aspect of her followers lives. If clergy weren’t willing to jump to do everything she demanded, she questioned their commitment or whether they deserved their position.  Like Da, she had followers paying for things out of pocket that they shouldn’t have, and waiting on her hand and foot. She coerced them into sex, manipulated their relationships and broke up their marriages. She taunted recovering addicts with alcohol. She was derisive of therapy and medication when it came to followers with mental health issues. Working with her should be enough medicine. She was constantly “teaching lessons” through demands or criticism.

The similarities are plentiful. Anyone who left C.A.Y.A. or was pushed out, was essentially shunned. This sometimes resulted in loss of income, as many member businesses were supported by other members. Some people were afraid to break things off with the group because they were also Matthews’ employees. The same thing happened in Adidam. When Hirsch’s parents, who at one point were Jones’ personal acupuncturists, left the group, their business declined dramatically. Others besides myself were afraid to leave because it was made clear, we would lose all of our friends.

Jones, Matthews, and other white people who are inclined to self invention, like to crown themselves with a healthy dollop of spiritual and cultural appropriation for mystical cred. Jones gave himself the title Adi (primordial source) Da (the giver) Samraj  (divine king). Matthews gave herself the holy title, “Yeshe.” Yeshe is a title denoting, wisdom. It is earned. One does not give it to oneself. Can you imagine, the Dali Lama, declaring that everyone call him, “his Holiness?” No, that is a title bestowed upon him with the position. She even decided to co opt Catholic titles at one point by insisting followers in one of C.A.Y.A’s many sub sects, refer to her as, Reverend Mother Matthews.

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Franklin Albert Jones reinvents himself as: Adi Da Samraj, among other things

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Jessica “Rabbit” Matthews reinvents herself, among other things, as Yeshe Rabbit Matthews, a reincarnation of Yeshe Tsogyal and hubby, Albert becomes her, “sacred consort.”

“The true guru will never humiliate you, nor will he estrange you from yourself. He will constantly bring you back to the fact of your inherent perfection and encourage you to seek within. He knows you need nothing, not even him, and is never tired of reminding you. But the self-appointed guru is more concerned with himself than with his disciples.” –Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

“Beware of gurus, especially, self appointed gurus,” is indelibly marked in my soul. Devoting oneself to a guru usually comes with the goal of stripping the ego, the obsession with self, and worldliness. In general this seems a worthy goal. But the self appointed guru, under the guise of helping one become self aware, compassionate, and connected, often strips independent thought and keeps you from working your own shit out while you glorify them through their so called, teachings. I may listen to a spiritual teacher, but everything filters through my personal bullshit meter now. I pull out things of value and dismiss the rest. Ask yourself, why do I need this person telling me how to live and what to think? Why am I afraid to do this for myself?

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The Mountain of Attention Sanctuary

In the podcast, Hirsch talks about meeting Jones, at 14 for the first time, at The Mountain of Attention, in Lake County, Ca. It was winter and starting to snow. He stood in a long line outside for hours, clutching a flower offering, shivering with cold. Finally, he is ushered into a warm room to stand before the guru, briefly. Adi Da says nothing to hm, only stares. Then Hirsch is quickly moved out. The experience caused him to burst into tears afterwards. This is a common reaction of many followers, especially after spending hours waiting, meditating and chanting. The chants at Adidam also incorporated the many names of Jones to help members fixate. When one is sleep deprived, practicing repetition with no breaks for food, water or relief, the natural reaction as soon as one is removed from the environment is strong emotion. 

This reminds me very much of my experience with Amma, the hugging guru. Amma spends hours and hours on a dais hugging a long line of followers. She doesn’t seem to take any breaks. Of course, the implication is that being holy, she can go without food, water, or peeing. I found myself wondering, blasphemously, if she wore a diaper during these events. She is definitely in a zone.  There were so many people. My friend and I arrived in the early afternoon on one day and did not reach Amma until around 7am the second day. Meanwhile, we waited in crowded rooms where people sweated, chanted, and sang continuously. I have chronic health conditions, bad joints and spinal problems. By the time I got my hug, I could barely move. I was in extreme pain, light headed, exhausted and pretty out of it. I was told I could ask Amma for a special mantra and I asked for a Durga mantra. The mantra did not come from Amma. It wasn’t special for me as implied. It was a generic Durga mantra zeroxed and cut, handed to me perfunctorily by one of her assistants, after rifling through a small file box before I “met” Amma. 

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Amma

The whole thing, crawling across a stage as instructed, on broken knees, being handed my mantra, being crushed into Amma, then ushered off, took maybe three minutes at most. Afterwards I was invited into a group to discuss making Amma my official guru, it felt a lot like being asked to accept Jesus as my lord and savior in Sunday school. I was given instruction on how to use my mantra. I was instructed not to share my mantra with anyone, perhaps, so that we wouldn’t compare notes and discover we all got the same thing? Dedication was stressed heavily. I was encouraged to continue regular study at the ashram. I left on a frazzled high. When I got home and caught up on some sleep, I realized how susceptible the environment had made me to the idea that I had had some rare spiritual experience. I’m still glad I did it, and I retain a lot of positive thoughts about Amma’s organization and the work they do.  I can incorporate some of her teachings into my own practice, but I don’t think Amma is any holier than I am. I see no reason to follow her or pray to her. I suspect it is this critical thought that kept me resistant to following Matthews blindly.

Matthews was fascinated with mind control and how cults operated. She was a huge fan of how cults like, Scientology, mind-fuck their followers. Jones studied Scientology for a while as well. I wonder if Jones was one of the cult leaders she studied. I’m sure she would have admired his knack for getting members to buy land for spiritual centers. She would often talk about, “when we get the land.” This was a dream she had, to have a coven community on private land. Somehow, she never quite made that happen. She would consistently align herself with other pagan leaders for prestige and legitimacy. She has been on a perpetual search for that cash cow who will give her what she wants, but, blessedly, she hasn’t landed the big whale yet. I think by establishing herself a new temple, and retail store, with a crowd of naive, but rabid followers in Shasta County, she hopes to establish a nonprofit and get enough people to believe she is a goddess incarnate to buy or donate land where she can live out her matriarchal society fantasies. It’s concerning. Because, once this happens, it will be even harder for those around her to get a reality check. They will be beholden to her not just for work, but for their home.

 

Left: Jones posing as a deep thinker on the cover of one of his many books stuffed with philosophical nonsense. Right: Matthews posing like a wise teacher, has not yet managed to produce a book. She’s talked about it. She’s subjected many to terrible samples of it. But, it hasn’t happened, yet.

 

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The podcast got me thinking and remembering. There are a number of lessons to be taken from it:

One of the reasons it can be so hard to sound the alarm bells is that not everyone has the same experience. For everyone who observes or is victimized by bizarre behavior, and abuse, there may be a dozen who find this incomprehensible because they haven’t witnessed it, and feel they are benefiting from something wonderful.

Something detrimental can start out as a really good thing, a valuable tool and experience, yet ultimately become corrupted and damaging.

Allowing anything to consume one’s’ entire life is dangerous.

Denial is a powerful thing.

Being a seeker, puts one at risk. When one seeks spiritual enlightenment to fill some hole or repair a wound in onerself, they run a high risk of falling under the influence of someone unscrupulous.

People who are emotionally vulnerable, abused as children, or having had emotionally unavailable parents or partners, those longing for love and acceptance, are especially vulnerable.

People naturally want to fit in and be part of a community. This is one of the things that       makes a cult feel so appealing. It’s why cults love to use the term, “spiritual community.” How could a community possibly be a cult? Even though the term community is stressed, everything is centered on the leader.

It’s easy to produce the sense of a religious experience and even convince people they have seen supernatural events when you put them in extreme conditions: an excited crowd, an uncomfortable or harsh environment, long hours of chanting, sitting or standing, etc.

Having a guru isn’t necessarily harmful. Not all gurus are cult leaders. And, not everyone has a bad experience in a cult. However, I’m going to stick with mentors and teachers who I see as no more holy than myself. I will keep questioning. Anyone who claims only they are able to prescribe what I can do to become more enlightened or holy, is automatically suspect. And if someone gives themselves an auspicious or culturally appropriating title, I will not be able to take them seriously.

I’m going to keep my skeptic hat on. If you are a spiritual leader, you must earn my trust.

Dear Franklin Jones can be found on most podcast platforms or on the show’s website

La de da, Adi Da.

More reading on Franklin Jones and Adidam:

 

The Adi Da Archives

Adi Da and His Voracious, Abusive Personality Cult

The Cult Education Institute’s collection of accounts involving Jones

Details of the sex scandals in the 80’s

The Strange Case of Franklin Jones

I grew up in a hippie cult run by a creepy sex guru

A list and explanation of all of the names Franklin Jones used over the years

An Analysis by cult buster, David Christopher Lane, PhD 

About Yeshe Rabbit Matthews: Causes For Concern

Let’s Not Forget

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I’ve written a couple Mother’s Day Specific Blogs in the past. You can read them HERE and HERE if you like. As a child of trauma who is mostly estranged from her adoptive mother and never knew her birth mother, it’s important to me to acknowledge that Mother’s Day is not all roses, cards and breakfast in bed for many, many of us. This is not a day of honor and joy for everyone. And there are many aspects of motherhood that go unrecognized; a day when not every mother is celebrated. The alternative and atypical mothers are left out of the picture as presented.

This year, I thought I’d write a poem. It’s definitely a rough work at the moment, but the moment is now so, here it is. Bless the mothers who are present and have gone before, but let’s not forget. 

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Let’s Not Forget

 


All Hail the Good Mothers
Mothers Remembered
The Mighty Mothers
The Struggling Mothers
The Soft Blanket Mothers
The Unyielding Mothers who Shield
With Mountains of Granite
Accommodating Mothers
Strong, Lissom and Durable
As an Old Leather Satchel
The Sheltering Tree Mothers
Oaks,Branches Stretched High
Above the Scars on their Trunks
Willows Weeping,
Caressing and Healing
Thirsty Roots Reaching
Deep into the Soil
The Hollows of Soft Earth
That Cradle, Comfort
And hide
Gratitude and Love to you


Forget not,the Unmothered Children
Children who had No Choice
No Agency
Children raised Without a Mother’s Love
Children who had to be Their Own Mothers
Children like Wild Roses
Blooming in an Urban Desert
Children with Withholding Mothers
Mothers in Name Only
A Body made for Nurture
Armed with a Razor blade Tongue
Hands that Burned Everything they touched
An Acid Embrace
Absent Mothers
Addicted Mothers
Lost Mothers
Unknown Mothers.
May Gentle Arms enfold those who Suffered the Unmother


Forget Not the Broken Hearted
Whose Mothers are Losing a battle
Right Now
Whose Mothers have Died, perhaps Recently
And Everyone Around them Thinks
They Should be Over it already
Mothers Grieved
The Almost Mothers who Dream of a Child they will never bear
Or a Child they had to Choose not to bear
Mothers Who Mourn a child that ceased to be
Grief is Not Convenient
It has No Schedule
It Slips Away and Boomerangs Back
Surprise!
The Boulder of Grief Heavily Grinds in the chest
Aches in every Bone and Breath
Until it Eases
May the Stone someday become a Feather


Forget Not, the Alternative Mothers
The Untraditional Mothers
The Not Hallmark-Perfect
Picture-Perfect Mothers
The Single Mothers
The Double Mothers
The Not Cis Mothers
The Poly Mothers
The Takes A Village Mothers
“Aunties” of all Stripes and Genders
The Dad Mothers
Mentor Mothers
Nurturing the Child of Another
Perhaps the Child of a Stranger
The I’m Just gonna do what Needs to be done
Mothers
May Respect and Love Shine Upon You!


Let’s Shout some Praise for the Unexpected
The Pseudo Mothers
The Creatrix Mothers
Who chose, instead
Or in Addition to
To be Mothers
Of Art, Of Ideas,
Of Science
Mothers of Invention
Mothers who have given Birth
To Words
Spawning entire Worlds
And then,
The Zoo Mothers
Cross Species Adopters
With Children of Scale, Fur and Wing
Mothers to Cats and Rabbits and Dragons
To Creatures Hairy and Scary
All those who made Unpopular
Unconventional Choices
That Make a Better World
Bravo, Three Cheers for You!


There’s Always more than One Answer
Let All the Mothers have Their Day
Let it Rain down Flowers,
Cards and Accolades
And Send out some Compassion
Amplify the View
For Many, this Day is an Ocean of Knives
The Deep Soul sucking kiss of Loss
The Tattoo of a Heart marked by Years of Starvation
A House Built of Sorrow
Room by Room
Erasure by Tradition
Hetero-Normative Invisibility
Well, I say, Damn the Norm!


While you Laud the Ideal
Of Mother as Supreme nurturer
Forget Not, the Orphans
The Mourners
The Misanthropes
The Atypicals
Save for them a Cup of your Empathy
Pull on your Inner-Mom boots and ask yourself
Who really NEEDS my nurturing today?
Drop them
A Note
A Virtual Hug
A Poem
A Kindness
Let them know you SEE them
And All the Glory of their
Immeasurable Value
Depth of Bereavement
Loneliness
Wistful Contemplation
Difference
Remembrance

Let’s Not forget

 

Illuminate

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Ooh look!

Pretty lights!

I’d like to see the light at the end of this tunnel
I’d like to lighten my load
I’d like my heart to be a little lighter

May I have some illumination?
Lights, please!
Anyone?

I’ve been
Looking everywhere for a bit of luminosity
I’m looking up
I’m going deep
Illumination in my sleep
Just one candle I could hold
Up to the dark collective soul

The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But,the shadows twist beneath my feet
The mighty boughs obscure the sky
Dim the light I need to make my way

If I could only find a torch
Perpetual and bright
And keep it always at hand

A small yet mighty light
Would slice
Uncertainty and obfuscation
Into small and harmless pieces

If I could be that torch
Scattering lies with my light
I’d dissolve all the shadows of fear
With my beams

I’d make a safe, cheery space
And give you light to read by
I’d give the night a makeover
A friendly face

I’ll take all the light that I can find
A spark
A convenient switch
That my hand can find
To magic brightness in a pinch

-LM 2014 – 2019

Ghost With A Beating Heart

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Ghost With A Beating Heart

I am the meat in the sandwich
Between a slice of,”not quite”
And “almost there”

I exist
I have substance 
But I’m lost in the midway
Looking for the mustard

I am alive
But am I living?
I can hear myself breathing
Into the void

Rasping like an old woman
Trying to resuscitate the stars

I blink
Hoping for a glimmer
In the faint
Wash of grey on the backs of my eyelids

I shut them tightly
Hoping for a replay of that lost film
The one that proves I actually did things
That I was real

That I’m more than an apparition

When I am laughing
And singing
Full of flirt and spirit
Reaching out my hand

I know you are out there.
I can almost make contact
Then, I flicker like a loose bulb
In a rusty socket

I moan
I glide about
I spend too much of my time
Alone in the dark

I tell myself to go outside
I chide myself,

You know what you need to do:

Move about
Check off tasks
Do the thing
Just TRY to do the thing
Anything!

And sometimes I succeed
For a minute, the machine runs
It purrs
Then it sputters
Like anger run its course

I’ve no means
Little motivation
And ever so much guilt

I’ve learned this about myself;
Despite my independence
And occasional flashes of capability
I require conspirators
And things to look forward to

These things
Propel me
Through the veils
Of pain and loneliness

But left to devices of my own
I sink
I drift
I sleep
I glimpse at the world through a haze
But I do not participate
I do not belong here

I would rather go off
Into the wilderness
And live as a hermit
By choice
Than to be hermited
by poverty and pain

The world has become the dream
Sleeping has become my world
When my eye splits open
Lifting its gate to the light
Is a battle

Now and then
I breach the surface
Like a whale

In a great burst
I take in oxygen
I splash my tail with joy

I have so many stories I long to tell

But it’s inevitable
I will dive again
And each time
I will stay down longer

I realize
I have become a ghost
Whose heart is still beating

This was not my plan.

-LM 2018 / 2019

 

The Comfort Of Sleep

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I soon found myself teetering on the edge of a deep depression-hole, listening intently to the siren song wafting up from below. Each note resonated more deeply than the last, snaking around me like an enchanted silver rope, tugging gently. Entranced, I sat down and dangled one foot over the rim and then the other, tentatively, delicately at first. Then, kicking at the air with more enthusiasm, I pushed back against the ground and let myself drop over.

It’s comfortable down here. The music drowns out most of the thoughts that led me to the edge in the first place. The embrace of the mossy surface is warm and familiar. Blue walls softly glowing diffuse the dark. It doesn’t matter that are no stars above to navigate a course, because there’s no need to go anywhere. The lack of air doesn’t concern me because there’s no need to breathe. The song invites me to let my lids drift down. There’s less to fear in my dreams. Sleep is all that matters.

I’ll sleep as long as it will let me. Actual sleep, not the sleep of the dead; nor the waking somnolence of the world above. I shall be a bear; sleeping a resting sleep, peacefully dormant, my head down, all of my bones in alignment; my body still but for the soft woosh of breath. I will weave a blanket of dreaming sleep, the sleep of escape. I’ll languish, that I might yet rejuvenate, to climb out of this pit, my little nest, ready to fight.

In this moment, I am lulled by the song. I cannot move. I cannot eat. My thoughts are still. For now, I sleep.


Depression is a THING for many of us. We all have different ways of, hopefully, coping and surviving. Writing is one of my ways. I wrote a lot last year, but was too depressed to post it. Sleeping is another coping mechanism. This year, I’ve been sleeping a lot. I haven’t been able to work, which means there is little else to do but worry, be hungry, sleep and read.

I’ve experienced a lot of trials in my life which have resulted in an endless wrestling match with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My depression has always been resistant to medication because it’s largely situational and due to things I cannot control like job loss, homelessness, illness, abuse and poverty. Sarcasm helps, humor is a brilliant tool and finding joy here and there throws spite arrows that bite and sting morosity, keeping it at bay for a while. I’m always struggling, however, and eventually, I get worn down enough that my barriers break. Depression roars in like a rogue elephant, careening down the streets of my brain, trumpeting destruction, flipping neurons and stomping on hope with its mighty feet.

Sleeping is good. Retreat is good. As long as the escape really does result in rejuvenation. Our nation was asleep and that has gave us more and more serious things to get depressed about. The temptation to go back to sleep is really tempting. The reality is, if we don’t deal with depression, the unfairness of the world, the destruction of the environment, the greed and the vicious bullying at all, it will only become less and less manageable. Finding a balance is key. Let yourself sleep when you are tired. Whatever you are battling will still be there when you get up. Just make sure you get up, even if you don’t feel like it.  Rejuvenate, then get up and fight again.


Looking for images to put with these blogs can be almost as daunting as trying to guess what tags will find readers. This time I was searching for various things related to sleep, caves, abysses, hibernation) I thought it might be fun to share some of the things I came across before finding that perfect bear above:

By the way, the bear photo is from this interesting Time article about whether or not bears truly hibernate. (Spoiler; they probably don’t) 

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I went down a rabbit hole reading about the cave homes, history and evolution of the Italian city of Matera, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. This New Yorker article in particular is a good read! 

This gif of awesome popped up in the header of a review about an intriguing book series about lesbian pirates.  I could watch it all day! I may have to check out these books though my reading list is extremely bloated.
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I also found this fascinating SLATE blog about sleep called, The Drift. As a hopeless insomniac (yes, I know this seems ironic since I  can also sleep for days once I finally do fall asleep) I am going to enjoy digging into this!

I almost used this one (left) of a girl about to stroll off a cliff, which Slate’s blog above, modified. I just really liked it! I didn’t consider the man with a briefcase, but he amused me. While I was stumbling around I found another amusing WordPress writing blog, Lion Around Writing with a nifty little piece about an abyss.

And then things got odd. I ended up with a couple of photos of old, b&w film actresses because of the keywords. This still of Mary Boland from 1915’s lost silent film, The Edge Of The Abyss just struck me. Her face is so lovely and soft, yet her gaze is so firm and direct. This was her film debut.

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From IMDB: “Lively, buxom character actress Mary Boland made a name for herself playing vacuous or pixelated motherly types during the 1930’s. One of her most memorable performances was as the addle-brained Mrs. Rimplegar of Three Cornered Moon (1933), who gives away her family fortune to a swindler because he seemed like ‘such a nice young man’. She also made a series of popular homespun comedies under contract to Paramount, in which she co-starred opposite Charles Ruggles. She was notable as a social snob in Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), the oversexed and alcoholic Countess DeLave in The Women (1939) and as Mrs.Bennett in MGM’s classic Pride and Prejudice (1940). For all her scatty or matronly character roles in the movies, Mary Boland had once been a star comedienne on Broadway.” (The original ’39, The Women, by the way, is worth a watch. I believe Netflix has it on DVD.)

I guess the 1915 bit linked some photos of the ridiculously lovely, Ann Sheridan, who was born in 1915. She had the amazing ability to go from a simple, fresh faced girl next door to drop dead, worldly glamour. She was in many films and could sing beautifully as well. Her career spanned more than 30 years, right up until her death. She was only 51 when she died of cancer. HERE is a list of Ann Sheridan films.

 

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll try to post some of my backlog from 2018 and some new stuff this year, if I can stay awake.

 

 

 

I Howl At The Moon

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I howl at the moon and I’m howling at you
I’m wearing the rain and I’m wrapped up in night
Oh I’m singing for stars that are hiding their light
I’m keeping it down and I’m seeing it through

I’m wielding a flame that is flickering white
Burning me deep, every breath is a bite
Feel the heat through miles, I know you do
A need, like a notion, a blue-black devotion so true

I won’t need to tell you, you already knew
I howl at the moon and I’m howling at you

I dig in the dirt and I’m digging for you
Prying under the stones ’til I’m covered in moss
Oh I’m singing to creatures that are born at a loss
I’m keeping it down and I’m seeing it through

I‘m lost in a crystal that glows with each thought
Dazzling me, every movement a fight
Feel the depths that I’m stuck in, I know you do
Taking root, lost to motion,  muddy devotion, like glue

I won’t need to tell you, you already knew
I dig in the dirt and I’m digging for you

I reach for the stars and I’m reaching for you
I’m holding the void and I’m coated in rust
I’m growling for lost bloom and holding my lust
I’m keeping it down and I’m seeing it through

I’m dowsing for water that is gossamer blue
Washing me clean, every drop is my truth
Feel like drowning again, I know you do
A drop like an ocean, a sea green devotion so true

I won’t need to tell you, you already knew
I reach for the stars and I’m reaching for you

I danced in the flames and I’m dancing from you
I’m burning alive and I’m crowned in the bright
Oh I’m singeing my feathers but not giving up flight
I’m keeping it down and I’m seeing it through

I’m clutching an ember that will not go out
And I am transforming, each cell, every bone
Feel the heat through miles, I know you do
Releasing a note,  piercing clearly and true

I won’t need to tell you, you already knew
I danced in the flames and I’m dancing from you

LM 2013 – 2018

* I picked this up again after forgetting about it. Who knows, it may still not be finished.
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