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Tuna Wraps, Vultures and Demons, Oh My!

Photo by Harry Lette on Pexels.com

Pliant rough tortilla

Unfolds under fingertips

Revealing creamy innards

Spread out

Like the ritual of long ago

.

Piercing the fishy mound

The tomato laced mash

Rides aboard fork tines

And is placed onto tongue

Vulture

Outside my window

Circling

Circling

.

There’s a bitterness

And a fleeting fear

Of being poisoned

Of writhing in death

And agony

Only to come

.

Clearing past lives

I continue the mission

Chewing

Then surgically extracting

Lifeless leaves

I take them in

Feeling what’s left of their

Withering limp bodies

Lodge in between tooth an gum

.

Cold flesh

Of tomato guts

Bursts across palate

As molars decimate

And I remember smoke

And I remember suicidal hotel rooms

.

Now a blue jay

Sits on the line

Below the vulture, circling

As if waiting, waiting

.

Chewing

I entertain

Just for a moment

That it might answer

And ask if it could help me find home?

.

Chewing

There is no answer

But this next bite

Saturated with brined saltiness

The seasoned mash

Sloshes between cheeks

And I am grimacing

Tongue dislodging

Pieces from the cracks

.

Blue Jay is gone

As is for vulture

And I

Feel so very alone

.

Remembering, remembering

I can’t help

Remembering

That smoke

That loss

That yearning

To go Home

.

And the shame

The shame

A professional seeking re-admission

Into the only home

She’s ever really known

.

Chewing

These last overseasoned bites of innards

Before the tortilla

Becomes my only focused goal

.

I saved it for last

Like so many years ago

Where meals were skeletal

And the next allowance might be days away

I saved it

I made it last

I made it last

Peeling apart layers

Most eyes don’t even see

Extracting, surgery, pieces

Making it last

.

This time

I feel the impatience rising

The tidiousness of this ritual

However necessary it might have seemed

A decade ago

I pick up the rest

And roll it, feeling a welcome denseness

Compressing, masticating

And I swallow

.

This time, unlike that time

I am exhausted by the ritual

But this time, just like that time

I try to ignore

The Demons

Writhing in my gut

Still they greet

At each attempt of feeding

.

This time, just like that time

The Demons are still there

Waiting

Waiting

They’ve been there

A very long, long time.

. . .

Thanks for reading. Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Carl’s Jr.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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“Recovery” Oatmeal and the Witchy Nutritionist

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Fears

Of too much

And not enough

On the one hand

I see just how far I’ve come

Yet on the other

The same old structures

Circle round and round

.

Recovery?

Re-cover

Me?

Un-cover

Dis-cover

Alchemy?


Silky oat water

Slurping

An unfamiliar lacing

Coconut oil, savory

And a thickness

The watery gruel

More substantial


What will this recipe

Cause in my stomach

For years eating different

Will this set of measurements

Bring pain?


As the chirping

Of the dark morning

And swaying periodic chime

Surrounds me

I risk, I open

To this momentous

Yet sorry challenge

(while

the

world

goes

hungry)


And when it’s over

There’s no pain at all

Dark Goddess

She whispers in my ear

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This week, my self-assigned re-enactment was of a memory of eating oatmeal.

But not just any oatmeal–this oatmeal was what I deemed at the time as “Recovery” oatmeal. Far from the low-calorie, Quaker Oats package with only water to swim in. This oatmeal was laced with silky almond butter, coconut oil and a hefty serving of chewy flattened groats.

The recipe for this oatmeal was provided to me decades ago whilst under the care and guidance of an eating disorder nutritionist. I’d hired her to get me out of the underworld once again. But she was no ordinary nutritionist…she was a witch.

She called herself a Kitchen Witch. She encouraged me to sit with the pain of eating more, kneeling at a Dark Goddess altar she’d had me create to give the lessons of Anorexia a home. She encouraged me to track the moon, to honor the time when I would be menstruating but wasn’t, to create a ritual to hold space for it to come.

She grew and crafted Vitex and Skullcap tincture to help my hormones, to soothe my anxiety. She encouraged me to honor the pain.

It was this deep experience I was attempting to re-create, eating this recipe and sitting with the pain once more, honoring it, listening to it.

Yet as I was preparing the meal, I was amazed at the amounts she’d listed in her original recipe. Today, these seemed like measly amounts. I remembered writhing in pain after eating said recipe…how could this be true?

I recalled how I teetered on the brink in those days, and how lucky I felt to have met this witchy woman at a women’s herbal conference, she coming upon my sobbing mess while ladies of all shapes and sizes frolicked merrily around me. I remembered the depth in which she looked at me, I remember feeling held.

I remembered feeling courage to do anything to face this seeming demon inside of me once again. I remember her holding me–and it–with such fierce care it astounded and changed my perspective forever.

And so it was with that heart that I made this meal that day so many years ago, and braced myself for the pain. And pain there was–for hours and hours. I was somehow able to hear her voice, this nutritionist witch, and maybe the Dark Goddess too.

I was able to hear them guiding me to sit with the pain, to honor it, rather than the usual running, starving, anything I had done to make it go away. I remember being with that pain so deeply, deeper than I’d ever been. Understanding it as not just “too much food” but as an intense, unconscious trauma reaction.

For some reason, fullness was avoided at all costs, and I had not at this point taken a conscious look at the this reason. I just remained confused at why if I wasn’t worried about my weight, why the fullness terrified me so much. Why I needed a treatment center, or hospital, to help me face it and not run. This woman, and perhaps the Wise Darkness, spoke to me that day, through my sitting with the gurgling mass of oats in my abdomen. That day I learned something profound and new, even though I could not put it into words.

This time, while preparing the recipe that triggered such intensity, I was nervous. I was perplexed. What would this meal bring, even though it didn’t seem to be such a challenge volume wise anymore? I found myself wondering if I might constellate discomfort regardless because I was expecting it, exploring it in this exercise.

Yet slurping and chewing the oilier, thickened mass, I found myself listening to my body, listening for it to tell me to stop, listening for the pain. But it didn’t, and the pain wasn’t there. My body was…still hungry.

And I knew what the lesson was. The lesson from the re-enactment was to show me how far I’ve come, even though I still measure my food. The lesson was to help me remember the deep teachers that have met me along the way and what insanity my body has gone through with me.

I spent the time after the meal thinking about all of this, grateful, yet still perplexed at not really knowing how to describe just what has happened between then and now (aside from some obvious metabolic rehab), but that a lot has. “Recovery” isn’t quite the term I’d use, but something momentous has alchemized within me.

So there I sat in the early morning hours, darkness still hanging heavy in the sky, and thought of Her. In all Her forms, that has come to guide me through this storm. At one moment, posing as the enemy, and at another a helping hand. How She has always been with me, teaching.

And then, I got up to eat some more.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Thanks for reading. Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Tuna Wrap.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

Featured

Pan-Fried Trout: An Excerpt

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I have a squiggly, wet fish in my hands. I am crying. Uncontrollably.

Its slick skin slides out from my grasp, and it somehow manages to jump away and onto the ground. As I am set up so far away from the pond, its panicking thrusts don’t manage it back to the water. It flops, to and fro, and there is so much grief in me I feel I will explode and crumble beside it as it dies.

I decide I cannot let it suffer anymore and search frantically for a way to end its pain. I pull out the fish knife in my belt and hold the blade edge carefully, thankfully it is still sheathed so as not to slice me open. The hilt protruding from my trembling fist, I walk up to the squirming fish and thwack its head, aiming hard so I won’t have to try again. I squeeze my eyes shut reflexively as I make this jarring motion. I wait for a moment, listening, my arm reverberating. My eyelids peel back open, afraid to see what I’ve done, but apparently I have succeeded. The body of a lifeless fish rests before me.

I go to my bag and pull out the ceremonial cloth I’ve chosen to wrap the body in, to honor its life and the part it is playing in my rite of passage. I feel the scratchy linen cloth, and through it a wet seeping onto my hands. I stop for a moment and feel this body, this cycle I have chosen to put myself in, remembering the struggle and the blood of just moments ago. All is peaceful now, and I feel as if I hold a precious sacrament in my palms. I do. I am.

I place the carefully wrapped body in the cooler I have prepared. I close the lid down and take a breath. It is done.

I gather my rod and equipment and head back to the car. Things seem very slowed down as I walk back along the path that before held my trembling steps. I hear birdsong echoing in the forest around me, and although the ripples of sadness are still flowing through me, there is a peace that has taken over my body. It is a pulsing feeling, deep in my bones.

I do not play music on the long, dusty road back to my home in the city. I listen to the silence; I feel the buzzing, how it etches out the lines of my body. It is as if I am humming, alive, and I want to really be in this feeling. I hear the rod jangling in the back of the car as I make my way over the bumpy roads, and finally I reach the highway and head home.

I pull up to the side of the house, cars rushing by on the busy intersection. I choose to leave my rod in the car for now, and only lift out the cooler with the fish body inside. I make my way up the stairs and into the house—no one seems to be home, which I am glad to see. My next task is to cook this offering, and to consume it. Decades have passed since I have eaten flesh, and my mind is nervous of how my body will react. I am grateful that I will be able to experience this transition alone, and I make my way to the kitchen.

I open the cooler and a wave of slightly fishy aroma rushes at my nostrils. I take another breath, and remember the Fish message I’d received:

We are here to nourish you, if you call upon us and treat this exchange with gratitude. We are happy to offer our lives so that you may thrive.

I have to put this message on repeat in my head. I have spent so many years protesting and activist-ing that this message is still such a paradox to me.

I walk over to the stove and place a frying pan on it, turning on the gas clicker and lighting a flame beneath. I splash a little oil onto its surface and hear it sizzle. I breathe.

I bring the fish body over to the side of the stove and unwrap it, placing its cool carcass onto a plate. I look at it, looking back at me, through the eye of its half-squished face. These eyes are glazed over and cloudy, and my crying heart doesn’t seem to react this time. I have become a little more comfortable with the fact that I am a killer.

I hover my hands over the dead fish and start to say my prayers. Prayers of gratitude for its sacrifice, for the worms and waters that formed it, to its fish mother, to the silky mosses it brushed up against and hid in. To the rains and the sun and whatever it is that made it possible for me to have this privileged experience, here, now. I wedge my fingers under the scaly underside and lift it up into the air, a gesture moving through me with no words. I bring it back down and into the pan, the sizzling intensifies, and I prepare myself to deal with the aroma of flesh cooking.

Surprisingly, as the fish body quivers and crackles, the scent is pleasurable. Savory, briny, smoky. My stomach begins to rumble. My stomach begins to rumble! My stomach hasn’t rumbled in what seems like…decades.

I am curious, and my mouth starts to water.

I grasp the spatula from its peg near the chopping block, and pry up the crisped skin of the fish body from the hot pan. I maneuver it somehow so that, in one fell swoop, I manage to flip it over onto its other side without a mess. It plops back and resumes its sizzle.

I am calm, reminding myself of the message. Guilt and fear try to creep into the edges of this experience, but the unbelievable fullness of the sacred overwhelms their tries. I look at the fish eyes again, and it seems the mouth is now smiling. The metalhead inside me chuckles at the grimness of a slightly smashed fish head smiling.

The aromas have taken over the air in the kitchen. I’m not sure whether or not the fish is ready, but it is now beginning to burn, so I remove it from the flame. I pull open the drawer next to the stove and pull out a fork, curious to see what it will look like, surprised again at the ease with which I’ve transitioned into this meat-eater persona.

I pierce the crispy flesh and pry into the muscle. I see it has hardened and its texture reminds me of fish-and-chips of so long ago. I decide it is ready, and remove the fork.

I slide the fish onto a plate and brace myself for the big moment. I breathe, body quaking again. The tremble has returned for some reason, and it makes my fork wiggle. I am called back to the wriggling of the fish, in my hands, on that mossy earth, dying, and how it’s now here, cooked, and on my plate. I feel tears well up, but they do not escape the rims of my eyelids, they just pool there. I lower my shaking fork down into the flesh of this dear creature, and lift a chunk of its cooked body up to my eye level. I look at it, fearing, but also in utter awe.

I place the fish in my mouth and close my lips around it. I slide the fork tines out and feel the saliva pooling around this new foodstuff placed there. All sorts of salty notes trickle around the sides of my cheeks as I begin to chew this strange, flaky texture. I close my eyes and breathe in, noting this ending of the rite it has taken so long to complete.

The tastes swirl in my head, and my stomach—and soul—is sated. I have received.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Thanks for reading. This is an excerpt from my recently published memoir, Food Memories.

**Join me next week for my next memory re-creation, “Hot (Recovery) Oatmeal.”

***If you’d like to learn more about or purchase Food Memories you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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The Mocha, Existential Angst and Goth Fairs (Food Memory # 23)

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Clad in Death’s costume

The door opens before me

Inside, frothers and hissing espresso

Greet ears

Innocence takes order

Fumbling at first time transactions

Bright ponytails bursting

From watchful nearby head

Mocha

I am preparing

To take the liquid in

A drip coffee concoction

A minimal waiting

And soon it is in hand

As the ponytail’s face shines with interest

This time, unlike last time

I am

Sipping

That familiar, bitter creamy sweet liquid

That first hot and delicious slurp

From the car seat

Unable to sit and write

In the coolness of the cafe’

Sipping

That creamy sweet liquid

As I maneuver ’round curvature

Snaky mountain roads

Honoring yet holding bay

The everyminute reality

I am in a gigantic moving weapon

Sipping

This creamy sweet bitterness

A courage

To face death

By simply driving

To face death

By simply intermingling with others

To face death

Courage

The Periphery starts to tingle

Feeling whole body outline

I am alive

Not knowing exactly what fills me in

Yet

I am alive

Showing up

Letting rich pleasure rushing

Over tongue

Down throat

Into bloodstream

Fanning courage

Across capillary fed cellular matter

To interact with Life

And attempt to play

With Death

Once more

~~

This week I sought to re-create a memory of me, a very depressed and lost me, rising from bed and choosing to push through my darkness with the hope that a mocha would help me feel more interested in staying alive.

What a difference twelve years makes, as this time I rose from my bed excited to be alive. Excited to dress up in Gothy wear, excited to drink a mocha, excited (and a bit petrified) to drive into the city for the first time in 1.5 years. Excited to meet up with a whole bunch of others who were probably doing the same thing. Excited to meet up with people dressed up in various forms of creatively expressing the existential angst of being a human in our current reality–those who aim to try to play with this crazy darkness rather than succumb to it.

This time, unlike last time, where I slogged my body to the cafe and watched old ladies and dogwalkers with a longing, a how-must-it-feel-to-be-human kind of awe…this time although I generally still feel like a hollow bone walking, I am playful with it.

This time I felt the same feelings but a level of acceptance of this evanescent reality that seems to be me. This time, the mocha was an enhancement to help me get into “playing human,” but not my only reason to rise. This time I had breakfast in my belly before that black richness careened down my esophagus, unlike last time where nausea and minimal eating to numb what I could was my life.

This time the thick desserty dose of caffeine companioned me on the windy mountain roads to face that totally insane thing we do by driving. Hurtling at top speeds, basically towards each other only inches away from bashing together…just trusting the good conscience and sobriety of others driving their own weapons around me! This liquid helped me face the totally uncontrollable fact that I do not know when or how I will die, and that I can either sit in my home in fear or go out and live. Fully accepting that all of it is a risk.

Unlike last time where I was so disconnected from reality that friendships were scarce and difficult, this time I had friends I was driving these roads to join cautiously at a “World Goth Day” event in the city. Unlike last time where the normal facing of death by leaving the house created its angst within, this time I was entering into a public event with close proximity to others, masked and freshly emerged from cocoons of a deadly pandemic…this time was a whole different level of facing death.

But I was not alone–amongst black capes and hollow painted eyes, through people only inches and not feet from me–all of us doing our best to be darkly playful with this insanity we’ve all been through. There were lacy masks, and gremlin babies, coffin dotted parasols, apocalyptic vibrations and a strange giddiness in the air. A facing death but so fucking glad to be out of the house and playing again kind of giddiness. It was delicious, like the mocha riding in my cupholder, comforting and pleasuring me as I hurtled into the new world, risking and playing with darkness.

*Thanks for reading. Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Pan-Fried Trout.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

Featured

Chocolate Chip Cookie and The Metallica Problem

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Searing bitter deliciousness

Washing over edges

Mixing, swirling

Amongst melting chunks

And soft doughy crumbles

~~

Magazine-less

This time I woke to Metallica

Words and images leaving trails of shame

Dashed epic illusions

Crumble

Like the pieces of soft

Cookie pinching off

In my oily grasp

~~

Melting

Mixing and swirling

Hot and bitter

It all comes together

~~

This time

I was SO HUNGRY

Unlike that time

Nauseous and suicidal

Just hoping for something

Anything

To give me reason

~~

This time

Although echoes

Of what used inspire

Skip through dusty crevices

It is in reading my own creation

While feeding my very present

Hunger

And

This bitter dark, chunky melting goodness

Filling

~~

It is in this

And bowing to the memories of that

I see

Just how far I’ve come

~~

This memory sought to re-create a morning I woke to utter hopelessness, lost in a deep and dark void–in the bed of a stranger’s home. Don’t get all excited, I had come to this place to housesit, and although I’d met the family for a moment before they left, they were essentially strangers and I was essentially sleeping in a stranger’s bed.

I remember that day feeling like I wanted to die.

I had just relocated myself to the mainland US after having spent some years in Hawaii, and had nothing really, just a suitcase to my name. I had no plans, my identity of what I was and what I wanted to do with my life had spun out immensely while on said islands. I had hoped by coming back to the mainland I might find some sense of grounding, some sense of sanity but evidenced by this memory I had not found what I’d wished to find.

In the original scene I remember feeling nauseous, no hunger and like my life force was trickling to a dribble. I remember being on the edge of not wanting to try anymore and how then this force of anger and frustration came bursting through. I remember asking for an image, any image to help me get my sorry ass out of bed and back into life again, if only for the day. What appeared was an image of a chocolate chip cookie, a cup of coffee and some sort of a metal music magazine. Inspired by this sudden force, I strapped on my falling apart boots and made my way to the Safeway down the road.

At that store, I found all of the ingredients to this magical trio, including a Rolling Stone magazine dedicated to Metallica. Not exactly what I was looking for, but this music had carried me through the darkest times of my life and spoke to some of the darkness I was feeling, so I felt met and companioned…here in that store with my Void amidst the neon case lights and roboticized voices shouting, “Have a nice day!” around me. Metallica and their world held such sparkles in my mind at the time.

Fast forward to this day, roughly 15 years later, where I aimed to recreate such a scene. Oddly enough, I spent much of the week prior to this re-enactment wallowing in another deep well of Voidness, swimming in the Nothingness. One of those gut-wrenching hollow feelings, haunting me. I didn’t think of it then but now I wonder if in aiming to recreate this scene, I was conjuring also this deep feeling to “get me in the mood” ha.

Anyhow, I woke up thinking of Metallica and decided to turn the knife extra deep by watching a video of me pissed off and disillusioned by the “scene” at an event I had worked at for Kirk Hammett…one where there were such bad vibes I basically felt like running away from the whole gig, but of course didn’t. I revisited a feeling full of shame and judgment and mind-games I encountered there, and how my dreams of working with my heroes, being able to find purpose there…or at least some good people…were totally smashed.

So that started out my re-creation experience. Feeling the heaviness again, but inspired by my own writing project (this one), I strapped on my slightly less beat up boots and made my way to the nearest Safeway.

One chocolate chunk cookie was there for me, and I ordered a small cup of hot black coffee to go with it. I was excited to see what awaited me in the magazine aisle to go along with this treat…would I synchronistically find a metal magazine, here in suburbia? And why did I feel excitement, still, for this scene?

I walked up to the magazine section and, balancing the hot cup back and forth in my hands, started scanning. Bummer. An issue on The Doors, but not really anything else awaited me there. I had wanted something filled with images of gore and darkness and people throwing up the heavy metal horns. What could this mean? What would I spend my recreated experience with? The magazine was definitely part of the original scene. Hmm.

I went to my car and set the goodies down. On the other side of the armrest was my book, Food Memories, and that was all there was to entertain. I opened up the cookie bag and started taking in the perfect soft chewiness, gulping down sips of the dark coffee with it. I peeled open my book, to the poetry section and began reading.

As I read, I realized that maybe it was necessary to have an illusory inspiration via Metallica and other metal bands. During a time where I needed to see others creatively expressing their darkness–so I didn’t feel so alone, so I knew I wasn’t totally crazy, so I had some sort of role model with how to process the intensity I was feeling but didn’t know how yet.

But how interesting that here, now, with this chocolate chunk cookie, I was being inspired by my own creations. That having gone through the journey of seeking to be involved in a world that I thought would make me feel better about my own shadows–and ironically only feeling more lost in doing so–that here I was, finding my way back to my own medicine. How interesting.

On this day, I sat back and thanked my inspirators, even the f*cked up scene that exists in the industry, for teaching me and for helping me get to this point. I also thanked whatever the hell has inspired me to get back to a place where I am hungry again, despite the crumbling world around me. And I thanked the fact that it is in my own creating process that I find inspiration to rise and meet this strange, strange world.

(Ironically, after I finished this experience, I went across the street to get lunch at another store and lo-and-behold, in the magazine section was a Rolling Stone magazine focused entirely on Metallica. I picked it up and flipped through it but felt no wide-eyed projection take hold. I put the magazine down and walked towards lunch.)

*Thanks for reading. Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “The Mocha.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Dead Mothers, Nude Beaches and The Apple (Food Memory #21)

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Wind whipping

Lapels flapping

Wild stringlets pushed back

The witch’s fruit is pierced

Sharp incisors sinking

Through crisp red flesh

And juice squirting into breeze

~~

This time

I pierce this flesh

I mash it between teeth

I swallow

This time

The syrupy liquid

Trails down sides of cheeks

And into belly

This time

I let the witch fruit in

~~

Unlike that time

When the wicked was refused

And instead fully offered

To choppy island seafoam

Unlike that time when black and white

And staunch resistance

Took hold, took hold

~~

Unlike that time

At the threshold

Of yet another undoing

Years of cellular matter

Built of medicated recovery

Force-feeding

~~

Unlike that time

When I said a prayer

To the forces that held me

Wild and tropical

Not knowing

They’d

whisper

me

down

~~

This time

I remembered the mamas

As I wound through Her burnt effigies

And down to Her ocean body

This time

The coast was not

Razor sharp lava

But tawny granules,

Soft and crumbly

This time

I held up the apple

Looking down to the naked bodies below

And placed it in my mouth

This time

I ate the witch fruit

Taking it into me

Offering its flesh unto mine

This time, unlike that time

I ate part of this blessing

And hurled the other half

Into the chortling blue sea

This time, unlike that time

I ate some, offered some

In honor of the vast complexity

That ungeneralizable

Knowing

The Re-membery

I now hold within

~~

This week’s food memory re-enactment is fashioned after a memory of me, standing on a jagged lava coastline on the Red Road on the Big Island of Hawaii. I had left behind my Los Angeles life–the Jeep, the house, the perfect job in the eating disorders field–to take a sabbatical at a retreat center on the islands, hoping to get some sense of animistic perspective that I could hopefully bring back to the industry upon my return.

In the original memory, I had taken a walk down to the edge of the sea, apple in hand, as it was 3pm, the time deemed for many years as “snack time.” I had also come to the islands to experiment with not following a meal plan so rigidly, to instead let my hunger/fullness guide me as I had many years of recovery eating under my belt. I was tired of always eating on plan, and wanted to trust my body more.

In the original memory, I wrote about how I checked in with the voice of my body to see if it wanted to eat the apple, and feeling no response, no hunger. And then the recovery voice (or was it something else?) that said, “You better eat anyway.” I remember choosing to not follow that voice, as it felt confusing, not clear, and instead chose to trust my hunger/fullness, offering the entire apple to the sea.

This time, the memory was re-enacted on Mother’s Day, and being that I live in the mountains, I had to plan a special trip to the ocean to live out the experience again. My mother died a while back, and she loved Sunday drives on the coast so it felt perfect. She also was cremated and scattered into the sea so I’d be spending time with her at the ocean.

What I didn’t plan for was the destruction of pretty much the entire ridge of forest on the way up and over to the coast. Of course I knew the ridge had been decimated in the CZU firestorm last fall, but I hadn’t yet driven into the area. Ghastly, ghostly, hundreds if not thousands of dead, crisped elders. I thought of my mom, I thought of mother earth, I thought of the Amazon, burning. I thought of and honored the dead mothers as I wound my way down to the beachside.

At the beach, the wind was incredible. One of those winds you have to lean into. I forcefully hiked my way down to the water’s edge, spitting out sand, and tipping my hat to the brazen souls who chose to go clothes-less in the blustery chill. They had found themselves a little nook under the great cliffs to bask in all their glory. I wasn’t unfamiliar to this choice, having lived at clothing optional communities for many years. I carried on.

At the water’s edge, I felt a bit too exposed (lol) to do ritual, even fully clothed there were too many eyes on me and I decided to hike up to the cliffs above and do my task in peace. I scooped up a little water, my mama, and headed up.

The wind on the bluffs was insanely increased, but I powered through to the edge. I sat in a little nook, much like the naked ones below, and decided to eat the apple…well at least half of it. I also wanted to offer some of it to the sea. Unlike the original memory when I didn’t eat any of it, I chose to do both–eat it and offer it.

I thought about the way I have learned to sit in between the opposites, hold the tension there, and not be overzealous about “recovery eating” or “fasting” and how this choice represented that transition. I felt the apple in my stomach and watched as the rest of it bobbed in the crashing seas below. I felt kind of bad for the poor apple half, actually, wondering if I had unintentionally set it into a traumatic experience–from the warm and cozy safe backpack to lashing about in an unfathomable sea.

But then I thought of my mother, unfathomable, wild and wicked, crashing and chopping out there as the Great Waters. I thought about the apple, also being known as the witch’s fruit. And I thought that maybe, if witch’s fruits can feel, that the apple might have finally felt at home.

*Thanks for reading. Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Chocolate Chip Cookie.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Dementors, Thanatos and Black Bean Corn Salad

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A mealy seasoned center

Bursts out of blackened skin

Onto tongue

Dressed in pungent protection

Garlic and salt weaving forcefields

Into and around nostrils

Down my throat

Mashing, knashing

Through crisp white skin

Bursting sweet corn juice

Rolling, crunching, mealy crispness

Finally descending

~~

I think back to that day

As I sit here, my own voices still protesting

Of the temporary profession

I wore for them, with them

~~

I remember their faces, sweet and rebellious

Looking to me for guidance

Likening their struggle to Dementors

Soul sucking

Child self

No more

~~

Helping them

Once I felt confident

That I was to battle

That there was this enemy

That I’d overcome

And would help them too

~~

But sitting here, mashing and knashing

It’s still all been measured

No matter how much I try to alchemize

The fact remains the same:

If I look into the void

The void still stares back at me

Alive and well

Waiting, overtaking

~~

After journeys into underworlds

And far off lands

I’ve found the complexity

Of not an “enemy”

But a shadow

The Unforgotten

Lurking

Banished and condemned

And simply rising in another form

To try, to try to get its message across

A message rarely heard

~~

This garlic bean mash

Stringy kale strips stuck in crevices

And toasted avocado smothered denseness

Mix together in me

Like the complexity of the real journey

Unable to truly be separated

Into its

Clean

Distiguishable

Measureable

Elements

I once thought comprised answers

Before

~~

Now

I sit here

With my own caudre of inner figures

Fearing, questioning, rebelling

And although my gnosis attends

Still I’m left with the pungent aftertaste

Of question marks

And the persistent

Harrowing

Drive

A return to inorganic substance

Thanatos, my love

The Void

Staring back at me

Waiting, overtaking.

~~

This week’s food memory re-enactment is named “Dementors.” In my memoir, Food Memories, I name the chapter this way due to the fact that it centered on a memory I have of me sitting at a table with a bunch of young eating disorder sufferers. In this memory, I was a “staff” helping them through their meal fears, and although I did feel mostly “healed” from my struggle, my journey at that point had only begun.

At the table, one of the clients mentioned how the eating disorder felt to them like the Dementors from Harry Potter–something that sucked them empty of all desire, happiness, joy. Something that basically left them with a feeling of having no real reason to live.

I of course, being on the “good side” at the time, encouraged them to fight back against this energy, like Harry did with his Patronus conjure, seeing this other part as the enemy that they had to overcome, like I had.

But mixed into this memory was my budding confusion on the black and whiteness of the matter, that while I told these amazing kids these things, I was beginning to doubt the certainty of such statements. I had just started studying Animism, at one time called Shamanism, which held a much broader and deeper understanding on the nature of illness. That on the one hand it is something to strive for health, but on the other it is also wise to understand why the illness, or “demon,” has come. These concepts were blowing my mind and making it difficult to totally work with confidence in a system that didn’t address this complexity in some way.

In my re-enactment, I decided to make the same salad as I made for them, and myself, to eat together that day. I measured it this time like I measured it for them. Only the most advanced client would not freak out if they noticed their portions hadn’t been exactly measured. In an effort to get food into them, we made it as safe as possible.

At first I was going to tune into an online chat support group while I ate to mimic being surrounded by the clients, but the timing didn’t work out. I decided instead to turn on a video describing the “History of Dementors” while I ate. While I chewed and savored the meal, I learned of JK Rowling’s real life experience of depression and how she created these characters to embody the heavy, soul sucking feeling of going through this process (I’m much more of a Lord of The Rings fan, so that was new news to me :}).

As I listened, I thought of how this woman, instead of letting herself be swallowed by these energies, chose instead to bring them to life in her story. To give them a place, to give the darkness a place. I thought of how many countless others were affected by this depiction, how they felt seen and understood by this characterization of their experience. And I thought that, hmm, if this depression was ignored by Rowling, battled and not really spoken of, how so many people may have never had that feeling of being seen, of being given a way to let these energies “have a home” in some creative way too.

Using art to honor and allow dark energies to live outside of us has been a very helpful way for me to deal with the complexity of understanding the shadow, not just “battling” it.

JK Rowling’s choice to honor these energies and express them artistically gave them another place to be, and a “voice” in a sort of way. Even though they were depicted as evil, the very fact they were created in many ways actually honored them.

This in turn helped many people. If it weren’t for these energies, would the Dementor characters…or even the entire Harry Potter series for that fact, would it have ever been created? Do we thank these dark energies for inspiring such a character? Do we owe these dark energies for this fantastical work of creation? Hard to say, but maybe.

Today as I sit with my own inner circle of voices, self-counseling them through anxieties around this meal, I think back to how simple the black and white perspective was and how it made it easy for me to have words to help these young ones. They simply must just battle.

Today, I use much more complex words with my own inner parts, helping them be both with the complexity and yet still strive for life more than letting the Dementors consume them. I encourage them to create art, through writings like this, to give these darknesses a home. I encourage them to savor the tastes of the black bean corn salad and avocado toast whilst the Void sits next to them, always staring back, filing its fingernails.

I pick up the pen to give it, too, a place at the table.

*Thanks for reading. Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “The Apple.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #19: Trail Mix, The Medicine Walk and Crow

Image found at amp-tracks.com

Fingers dip

Into textured bowlful

Wrinkled edges crusted

Smooth crescent ridges

Papery brown skins

Flaking

Crushed between molars

A piece

Gets gnarled into chunky mass

Salty

Creamy

Chewy

Tart sweetness bursting

I waited for the sun

But it didn’t come

Not like that day in the desert

When Fly met me

And the glistening boulder quartz

Pierced the morning dawn

This time

Drums beating

Crows

Crows seem to meet me

But can’t be sure

The rays evade

Unlike that day

When I knew Fly was the one

Fibrous chewy raisin flesh

Sticks between teeth

They lodge

Lingering in corners

Drumming

Breathing

Waiting

The light hides behind

Thick grey covers

But I waited

I ate as Bear ate

Where is my teacher now?

Sifting through the halves and broken pieces

Searching for the whole

This ritual

I’ve carried you

This bag of you

For years

Waiting

~~**~~

This week’s memory brings me to re-create the Medicine Walk* I went on in 2004, as a part of a group teaching by a local medicine person. On that walk, I was taught that while traditional Vision Quests* involved fasting from food and water to receive guidance from spirit, a Medicine Walk proposed the same outcome without needing to put oneself through such a harsh experience. Having struggled with Anorexia, I already had much experience of fasting (although I did not do it with purposeful sacred intention) and was glad to hear of a ceremonial way to connect with the Great Mystery that didn’t involve fasting. Trail mix was the food that I chose to sustain me, forgoing the varying tastes of different meals for the whole day as my sacrifice instead.

~~**~~

This time I chose to venture out in my local mountain town before sunrise, to sit somewhere and watch for the sun to break through. On the medicine walk of decades ago, it was suggested that we wait to eat anything until the sunrise touched our skin. Also at this point, whatever animal was around in a prominent way would be our “medicine animal” for the day, one we would learn from while out on the land in silence.

Unfortunately, the sun was not out on this morning as it was very cloudy. I was a bit perplexed in how to move forward if I couldn’t follow that guidance in the re-creation, so instead decided to sit out until the exact time of sunrise was reached. At that time I would eat my trail mix and look for what animal was around.

This made me think of how mechanical my food intake is sometimes, run by time, rather than the wisdom of my animal body. It made me think of how I add trail mix to my salads pretty regularly, and whether that is somehow an attempt to stay connected to the magic of that Medicine Walk of yore. It made me think of how much I wanted to be led by something sacred and clear and bigger than myself in my eating.

I waited for the sun, I waited for the clear signs, but they didn’t come. Crow was around, cawing, so I thanked him for showing up as my guide. But not entirely sure like I was that day, with the sun brilliant and skies clear. It was so clear back then, when I had beliefs and rights and wrongs and no idea of the complexity of reality. How interesting that “Crow Medicine*” often relates to living in the void between worlds, having no sense of time, seeing simultaneously the three Fates, Past, Present, and Future. How Crow merges light and darkness, seeing both inner and outer realities, beyond human law. How very interesting.

These days, just like that morning’s sky, I often sit, unclear about what it all means. Whether there’s something bigger that is meeting me, or if there’s really nothing listening, responding. I sit on the fence, waiting, waiting for the sun.

At least I’ve got trail mix, and perhaps Crow, to sustain me.

*These terms are used with respect to the first peoples, the indigenous peoples of this land and their ceremonies. I use them as they were the words used by the native person in the ceremonies of that day long ago. It is not my intent to culturally appropriate them.

**Thanks for reading. Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Dementors.”

***If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #18: The Restaurant, Sacred Beer and The Masked Italian

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Frothy, ancient fermentation

Marking lips with evidence

A cool amber effervescence trickling

Over parched tongue

~~

I give a nod

To that long ago goddess Ninkasi

As the heavy glass stein clunks

Onto splintering wooden table

~~

Around me plates jangle

Families bicker

And lovers laugh superficial

Tall redwoods tower

In this outdoor dining paradise

Offering some sort of deeper company

~~

With dusty boots and weary body

I have passed through gauntlet

Of judging eyes

Watching solo female diners

Nerves settling

I forge ahead into purpose

Sipping this malty brew

Borne on Mesopotamian plain

~~

Fumbling to entertain myself

This solo female diner

I flip through pages

I scribble nonsense

Anything to seem occupied

Encased from wondering eyes

Until they arrive

~~

Like a masked avenger

With Italian heart

The plate is delivered

Bella bella bella

Ringing through my mind

~~

The glistening golden strips

Of french fried potatoes

And the empty chair beyond

I reach out my fingers

Tactile surveying of crispness

And choose fry #3

Bringing into mouth

A blast of perfect savor

Protective, cleansing saltiness

And garlic’s pungent flesh

Allows itself inside

Attending

Crunchy layers breaking through

To a

Soft

Starchy

Center

Showing me what’s real

There, on my tongue

With another swig of sacred brew

Together again

~~

It is rare

These tastes cross my lips

But today I lift my stein to Ninkasi

And the alewives of yore

Allowing the memory of me

And him

To swirl in between

~~

The plates jangling

The families bickering

The lovers laughing

And the sound of “Bella!”

Delivered with mysterious eyes

Under masked law

~~

This week’s adventure took me to a local Italian restaurant under the redwoods. Here I aimed to re-create the memory of boyfriend #2 and I sharing a meal of fries and beer during joyous college years. As I have in the past posts, I will begin with the magical qualities of these food gifts.

~~

Beer: Earth, home, family, prosperity, protection. Often noted as being used in ancient ritual offerings.

Potatoes: Grounding, survival, protection, stability, root chakra

Salt: Protection, cleansing

Garlic: Protection, banishing, warding.

~~

How interesting that these foods/drink go so well together…it is like the perfect protection spell ritual! And as an agnostic, one I’m much more drawn to than chanting over laden altars and such :}

~~

I remember the original experience, having another person to focus my energies on and enjoy with…made for a magical thing. We had no idea about magical uses of food at the time, nor the ritual uses and origins of the foods we were eating—but riding high on the fumes of love and carefree college life, mixed together with a noisy brewery were magic enough.

But even though I was alone this time, I found myself oddly at home and enjoying nonetheless. After the initial anxiety of fending off psychic question marks of others for being solitary in my dining, I settled into a corner table with my book and journal. I had just been on an epic hike full of glorious spring plant friend relating, and imagined myself a lone herbal healer having come upon a dusky tavern at the end of her travels for the day. It didn’t take long for a server to arrive with my frosty brew and with a few sips I let myself be in the moment of sounds, tastes, and the gift of being alive and able to enjoy such pleasures. The kindness and unexpected repeated greeting of “Bella!” made me feel as if the whole restaurant was alive with intimacy of which with I was intermingled. I imagined the old, knarled roots of the redwoods surrounding the dining area to be part of that.

At home after the experience, I went to my journal and drew. While the feelings of anxiety and the recognition of the empty seat across from me in this re-creation showed up, so did the joy and connectedness I felt in the atmosphere. I also noted my sense of grounding, and perhaps protectedness, that was felt during the meal. I did have some frustration appear in red marks, around my dislike of this lingering wondering about whether my stomach would be hurting as a result of veering into beer and fries land. The jagged marks of the frustration of still caring, after all this work and all these years…of not wanting to care so much about food’s effect on me.

I decided to set myself up with a documentary to whittle the next few hours away, to occupy my brain that was trying to use precious space to fret about these things. Somehow I ended up on a Metallica documentary, and for many reasons found myself feeling like this was a perfect end to a perfect day, a Bella giornata :}

*Thanks for reading! Join me next week as I re-create the next food memory, “Trail Mix.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #17: Diet Yogurt, Wrathchild (1981) and Sacred Anger

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Sunrays glint

Off of silvery tines

As they pierce

The grey-pink gellish substance

I am warmed

By the schoolhouse stucco

And watch while being watched

Grateful for my life

Holding precious time

I take the saccharine gloop

To my lips

And place the lightly coated tines

Onto my tongue

A grimace instinctively forms

As I force the fork to stay

Hints of…strawberry?

A memory of what milk is supposed to be?

Fake sweetness, sweetness reached for

I let it stay

And think back to her

I see her pacing

Back and forth like wilderness

Trapped in a life

She surely didn’t ask for

Pacing feverishly

Pushing sgainst

The terrifying bars

Pacing feverishly, growling

To the angry vibrations

The only connection

She still had

To love

I see her in the sun

Shivering

Pre-pubescent life cheering on around her

As she, aimed at descending

Her HELL NO

Her way out

The only way she knew

I see her holding

The silvery tines before her open mouth

I feel her nausea

I see her turn away

Her skeletal arm dropping the fake sweetness

Still full

Into the trash

HELL NO

Of course she’s starving

This ain’t no place for a little girl

***~~***

This week’s memory is an attempt to recreate “eating” diet yogurt during a lunch break at high school. This was another challenging foodstuff to imagine magically, but I did my bestest:

Original ingredients: Cultured Grade A Nonfat Milk, Strawberries, Water, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Kosher Gelatin, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Sorbate Added to Maintain Freshness, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose, Red #40, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3.

**~~**

Hack, hack, pffffthht! Which I managed to turn into:

Milk: Fertility, nourishment, mother

Strawberries: Fertility, sensuality, feminine

Corn: Sacred to many indigenous people, as the first mother

Sugar: Sweetness, attraction

Beef: Strength, assertiveness, grounding

Earth/Soil/Minerals: Grounding, mother

After researching these ingredients, I found it interesting to notice that all of them (although in this diet form offer weak substitutions) are somehow connected to fertility, femininity, the mother, being grounded in the physical form, enjoying sensuality. And in seeing this pattern, I began to think on the girl that chose to eat only a forkful or two that day, and upon doing so, how she became nauseous. How she threw that mother-full substance, that grounding, feminine, life sustaining substance straight into the trash after only experiencing a bite or two. How her aim to make her way back into the safe treatment center, away from the grief she was drowning in, away from the psychotic breakdowns of the group home residents around her, away from the fact that her family left her, away from the fact that she no longer could see a reason for living……how this aim was so much stronger than her desire to eat, and thrive.

Of course I also thought of the literal wisdom of such a reaction to this gross gellish goop–that while she was leaving it behind for other reasons, the distaste for such a foodstuff made sense. And of course there might of been a reason she chose to eat something she wouldn’t have a hard time leaving behind. What might have happened, were she in an environment that provided her with real food, with real elders, with real care? Might she not have chosen her fateful path of descent? Or was it necessary either way? Was it, as James Hillman might say, her acorn arranging?

Ultimately, there’s no way to really know these things. It is my preference to re-imagine all of this as a sacred journey, and that that little girl’s soul knew just what it was doing. That murder, abandonment, group homes, starvation, psych wards and abuse were part of her invisible initiators. As perhaps was the Diet Yogurt, staring back at her, as she left the most of it sweltering in the sun atop a mound of the empty wrappings of teenage fast-food trash.

Later, after my re-experiencing, I went into the art. So much anger arose as I drew and let myself express. It was as if I was feeling what she couldn’t allow herself to feel, that her starvation was enacting inwardly. I let myself pace and growl whilst listening to Iron Maiden’s Wrathchild, like she did. I let her anger rise and flow through me, into the pacing, into the flames and jagged etchings drawn. I let myself be with her, this Wrathchild, honoring her choices, her possibly sacred choices, and held her broken heart with a hope she’d take decades to find.

*Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll join me for next week’s food memory, “The Restaurant.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #16: Vanilla Ensure

Photo by Charlotte May on Pexels.com

Over frosty cubes

A thick, creamy liquid

Cascades into glass

Bobbing to the milky surface

The tip of the straw hovers

Over the icy dancers

Preparing

I bring my lips to take it in

This silky, sweet substance

Of so long ago

Slowly slurping

I wonder if this is what breast milk tastes like

Never having had the chance

I wonder if Abbot Laboratories

Had us, formula fed,

In mind

Slowly slurping

I remember

How glorious this taste

As I sat in the bleached sheets

On that cold fall morning

Now

I make the sips

Turn into bubbles

Infusing air into vanilla creamness

To make it last

To make it last

To fill my mouth entirely with its essence

Just like she did

Stretching out the moments

Of satiated senses

After years of dessication

And parched

Hollow

Grief

This time

Two crystal blue feline orbs watch me

Instead of the indifferent professional

The graves of my ancestors close

Are the eyes that see me now

Beside me

A fire crackles, dwindling

Unlike that sterile, hospital air

I felt so comforted by

Safe

Its clock ticking

Its solid Saturnine structure

Holding

Holding

Holding me together

Now

A warmth envelops

As I choose to take this liquid inside

Hints of oak, and pine

Waft delicately through nostril

Merging with savoring of tongue

Now

I do my best not to think of

The several inch long ingredient list

As I imagine the mother feeding

And how all of this is illusion

Comparing not to what is really needed

Now

I choose to take this liquid

Cool and sweet

Over my senses

Down into my throat

Opening

Thinking

Of that girl

So starved

For the mama

And how

But a few hours north

As I let this milky sustenance in

By my own hand

Slowly slurping

She

Is

Dying.

The list of ingredients in this “food” is a challenge for any witchy person to re-imagine as sacred. But I aimed to find hints of it within for this experience, to create some sort of sustenance energy as I swallowed. Here’s the original ingredient list:

Water

Corn maltodextrin

Sugar

Milk Protein Concentrate

Corn, Canola Oil

Soy Protein Isolate

Soy Lecithin

Carrageenan

Cellulose Gel

Cellulose Gum

Salt

Vitamins and minerals

Natural and Artificial Flavors

Of which I turned into:

Water: Necessary for all life. Element of flow, feminine, cleansing.

Sugar: Bringing sweetness, attraction energy.

Corn: Sacred to Demeter, Dionysis, Adonis, the indigenous peoples, Corn Mother

Milk: Feminine, sustenance, fertility, new growth

Soybean: Feminine, sacred to Eastern peoples, cooling, nourishing

Seaweed: Gods and goddesses of the sea, lubricating, moistening, connecting us to the great waters

Salt: Earth element, grounding, protective.

Vanilla: Love, lust, passion and restoring lost energy

This feat was not entirely without snorts of ridiculousness, but still it was accomplished. It didn’t help that I knew this particular supplement, Ensure, has been used to force feed prisoners of Guantanamo Bay. Did the company provide it to them for free? Ugh. But still I persisted.

I was not entirely able to set up the re-enactment portion of this exercise to match the original memory. Then, I was in a hospital. Now, I can’t enter a hospital without very good, life threatening reason. Then, there were bleached sheets around me. Now, the circumstances of my weekend did not allow me to arrange for some sort of bleach laced fabric to accompany. The scent of bleached towels and sheets still brings me back there, unfortunate I couldn’t procure.

But what was available was ice cubes, which for some reason also felt very necessary, as I remember the tip of my straw that day using the ice cube to titrate the amount of liquid entering its tube to a slow trickle. I managed to recreate that, as well as the time I remember taking to finish the 12 oz glass of liquid.

I remember that young woman, not even realizing the metaphorical nature of her self-starvation, just to get into a hospital, a safe environment, away from her mother. As I look back, there was so much wisdom in the crazy that she felt possessed by.

I also remember her confusion, and shame, at liking the hospital so much, of liking this Ensure so much, when the other girls on the ward snickered and protested at its grossness. She wondered what was wrong with her. She pretended not to like it, feigning sighs every few minutes as the nurses “tortured” her to drink it under supervision.

Now, I attempt to re-imagine this liquid as sacred just for the moments I take it in. It is surprising again how metaphorical my enjoyment of this substance is…milky and sweet and probably as close to the mother I hadn’t experienced. Looking at the list of re-imagined ingredients, perhaps it was to these energies I may have been yearning to be connected to at the time? Reaching for anything with any semblance to these energies, even if it was a chemically laced imitation?

It just so happens that a few hours later I would find out my dear auntie was crossing over into the Great Beyond whilst I was sipping this imitation. She was the closest thing to an emotionally available mother I had in our family…I don’t know how to describe the significance to this timing, of me sipping on this artificial mother milk as she began her descent/ascent, but it feels pertinent.

Ensure. It is a weird thing to have such powerful somatic memories attached to a laboratory created substance. But as an adult sharing about all things weird that I am, cracked open first by the memoir and here on the blog, I admit that even now, I savor Ensure. Slowly, slurping.

*Join me next week for the continuing food memory adventure: “Yogurt.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #15: Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal, Owls and Offerings at The Gate of Death

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

it is the dead of night

and stomach wakes

screaming
unlike that day

so many years ago

whilst cinnamon spices

and dessicated apple chunks

rehydrate

this stomach hungers.


a lone owl

hoots into the blackness

and i sit here

slurping

skimming gruel surface

hovering spoon hollow

pooling watery sweetness.


stirring, slurping

fruity chunks now sponging

between thoughts

laced with the spice of death

and

the descent

that

young

girl

held


headed for destruction

her unconscious Nigredo

filling and consuming

the dark master’s strings

lifting 

limbs up from

seated

leaving precious sustenance

behind


but this time

i let the earth fill me

i let the warm groats

rest in my center

i stay

until the end.


the owl has gone silent

but this time

i feed her

this time

i love her

amazed how we’ve made it


through fire and ash

she’s come back hungry

and grateful to be alive.

This week’s memory brings me back to part of my original intention of these food memory re-enactments…to introduce magickal correspondences into the meals that once were laced with trauma, and to re-experience them with a new energy. I’ve been a bit lax in my last few posts on this point, and I’m glad to be back to it.

First, let us jump to the supposed magickal/ceremonial qualities of this re-imagined gruel:

Owl: The traditional meaning of the owl spirit animal is the announcer of death, most likely symbolic like a life transition, change

Oatmeal: Used to invoke or worship Brighid. Brighid’s invention of keening, a lament for the dead, reflected her status as a goddess of life and deathBrigid also protected cemeteries, which can be found at many of her holy sites

Apples: Considered the food of the dead, use as an offering to appease the Gods of ancestors, the Underworld, and life/death crossroad guards. Also called “Fruit of the Underworld.”

Cinnamon: Use to raise spiritual and protective vibrations, draw money, and stimulate psychic powers.

Sugar: Use to attract object of desire…even if it is death. Skulls made of sugar are said to attract the souls of the dead to eat them in Dia De Los Muertes ceremonies.

Water: Cleansing, clearing.

This was a different way to view Quaker oats for sure!

What brought me back to wondering about the magickal properties of the meal? It was the experience of being woken up by hunger in the middle of the night, choosing to make and eat this meal to follow that hunger, and upon sitting down to take it in, realizing that not only was I eating under a full moon but also a loud hooting Owl outside my window. The setting was so haunting, so quiet and deep, it made me wonder about the significance of the items of this meal I restricted so long ago, as well as why the owl decided to show up so powerfully during my experience.

What I found, and thought about whilst eating, was very interesting. As I tried to recreate the slurping, agonizingly slow pace of eating that once I undertook, I was lulled by the Owl. This sound, this animal, was my deepener.

Its presence reminded me of its reputation as the gatekeeper to the death realms, the Underworld, the psychic realms. Its hooting drew me into reminiscence of the cold fall morning where I sat in front of the heater, shivering, body shrinking from my sad aims of chasing Thanatos over the summer. I remember sitting in front of that bowl of overly watered-down oatmeal, battling myself, wondering what the hell I was doing on the planet anymore, of my aims to leave. I remember battling with that oatmeal, and my waning appetite, pushing it away after a few feeble attempts to reverse my trajectory.

So Owl showing up now, here in the blackness, so many years later, and my hunger, roaring, was very curious. My meaning making mind wanted to understand the layers of things I was experiencing as I ate this similarly watered-down oatmeal under its echoing call, under the light of the bright orb in the sky. But I couldn’t, I just let it move me, feeling into the depths of this recreated grief-laced memory.

As in the last few posts, in the original memory I was grieving the loss of him, this tragic death of a friend. But I was also grieving the loss of my youth, the loss of my hope for any kind of consciousness to come through my mother, drowning as she was in her own loneliness, sorrow and gin. I was grieving at the sorry state of the world and what lie before me, with no role models to show me the way, with no elders to help me understand the intensity of what I was feeling, and doing to myself. What was this something, so much more powerful than I, pulling me under, drowning me, too? Why did I want nothing more than to die?

This time, I finished the oatmeal, pondering these deep thoughts. I lifted a hefty dollop of glistening almond butter to my mouth, allowing its savory nutty goodness to disperse across my senses and to provide more sustenance than that day. I let the experience simmer within me.

That evening, I did some art–of the Owl, of the emotions of that adolescent. And then I went into the research, finding that much of the things that made up this meal were in some way or form used as offerings to appease the dead, as you saw in the above descriptions.

And that cold fall, I was headed into the last serious stages of restriction, before I’d shortly be admitted to the hospital. I was headed…into death. And there was part of me that wondered, if on some mythological, soul level, if I left that bowl filled with these ancient ceremonial items…for the lords of the Death realms I was about to enter. I imagined myself pushing the bowl not away from myself, but towards Her, that Dark Goddess I was in some way courting. I think this same thing for a lot of shadowy, shame-laced behavior…is it really an attempt by the soul at some sense of the sacred? I let that possibility exist, re-imagining her, on that day, making a sacred offering for the hell of what she was about to enter.

So all of this came forward with that seemingly simple bowl of gruel. These food memory re-creations continue to amaze me in what they bring forward. I am so grateful to have a place to play and share about them here, and also…for your eyes. I realize I am making a hell of a lot out of a bowl of oatmeal, but such is my right in the realms of imagination and writing. I do hope you enjoyed this week’s ponderings :}

*Join me next week for the next food memory: “Ensure.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #14: BBQ Chicken Sandwich aka Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd,1975)

Photo by Deneen LT on Pexels.com

I remember that summer

In the shimmering heat of the valley

Crouched at that splintering table

Under electric blue skies

Flies buzzing round me

Seeking the spicy

Sweet globs of BBQ sauce

Ooozing out of the meal

I pretty much left untouched

I remember the scents

Of rosemary and coyotebush

Hovering

Wafting into my nostrils

On those shimmering heat waves

Warming my cold and grieving heart

I remember my struggle

Of whether to eat

Of whether to care

Of whether to

Die

I remember the hollow

Carving me out

In the back seat

Winding through Monterey Pines

Apathetic vocalizations of Floyd in the mix

I remember

Feeling the intensity

Of not feeling

Anything

At all

This time, although alone

The same blue skies crowned me

And although too crisp a day to transmit

A wall of rosemary also cradled

My eating experience

And although this time, alone

And feeling somewhat empty

This time

I ate anyway

And thought about the determination of life

And the years gone by

This week’s food memory reenactment took me to my own mountain town’s deli, as it was too much to make the drive to the actual location of the original memory. As in past weeks, my attempt to recreate the memory brought forth some synchronicity. As mentioned above, fresh starts of rosemary plants were lining the entire outside patio, similar to the rosemary of the original scene…the starts never having been there until this day, I thought it was interesting, as if something was meeting me, playing with me, as I attempt these re-creations. Perhaps.

What wasn’t there was someone to help me get the deli staff to make a decent sandwich. He knew how to make something taste good, and I still have the propensity for lack. The option of a BBQ Chicken sandwich was not on their specialty list, so I had to fill out a build-it-yourself list. What came out the other end was pretty disappointing–minimal BBQ sauce, dry chicken, stale bread. So eating it was not exactly exciting nor did it remind me of the deliciousness of that day so long ago. The deliciousness I was paradoxically contending with as I was so very deep in grief that day.

The sourdough roll I remember being fresh, toasted…the BBQ sauce overflowing…the tomatoes ripe and juicy. This time, that was not there. But my determination, my knowing I needed to eat anyway, was. Granted, I could have marched back into the deli and demanded a re-do, or purchased something else entirely, but feeling not really motivated to enter into drama I chose to just eat the damn sandwich and call it a day.

While I was eating, I did manage to notice some interesting emotional spaces of which I noted in my art process later in the evening, with Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here playing in the background. I noticed that instead of feeling shame at having people see me eat, I rather felt kind of badass. Interesting transformation–to have that shame not be such an issue anymore, and that I don’t even notice sometimes how much I have changed in my relationship with food even though there are still struggles. I also noticed a certain sense of determination. Synchronistically, I seem to be dealing with some emotional emptiness like that day, and instead of the choice to quell that feeling with the choice of not eating, I chose to eat anyway. Hmm. Another transformed behavior. Having frustration at not being able to get what I wanted to taste was also a very different emotional state than that victim-y despondent place I was in.

While not full of bells and whistles, this eating experience showed me some of the ways I have transformed in my life, as well as the obstacles I have chosen to stick around to overcome. I spent some time thinking of all the things I’d been through since that day, how intense life has been, and how in some way I have managed to come out fighting, or at least determined to keep trying.

I took myself on a long hike after the meal, letting the sandy hills and the Ponderosa Pines hold me in my process. I let the wind caress my cheek, and marvelled at the awakening of spring blossoms and wildlife around me. I let my relationship be with nature, as I’ve learned to do, whenever I feel alone. That day, so long ago, I did not yet have this awareness, and almost chose to leave the planet to find love on the other side.

I’m so glad I chose otherwise, even if it results every once in a while in having to eat a shitty BBQ Chicken sandwich.

*Join me next week for “Oatmeal.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Intermission: Loving The Void Podcast!

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Howdy, peeples :} I’ve been podcasted!

Decided to take a break from food memories this week and instead am sharing this podcast, where I talk about my memoir Food Memories and much more. I am joined by fellow empath and artist, Jamiel Alkhaja. You can find the episode with me and many others here: https://anchor.fm/jamiel-alkhaja/episodes/Food-Memories–Tools-for-Empaths–the-Sacred-Illness-w-raVen-Lakins-er2i2o

I hope you enjoy, and see you next week for Food Memory #14: BBQ Chicken Sandwich.

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #13: Deli Sandwich, Cannery Row and Grief

image found on Pinterest

It was the deli he’d have chosen

Away from all the sparkles

Hidden beneath ratty palms

And well worn bicycle path.

A funky tropical theme

Eyes of love take my order

And deliver over railing to my seat in the sun

I take in my micro adventure

And start to walk

Walking, to the place

Where we sat together

Where we watched the albatross loons

Perched in the warmth

Crumbling abalone

And ghosts of weathered immigrant workers

Beneath our footsteps

We nestled in the skeletons

Of far gone canneries

We nestled in the sun

Today he was not here

But the waves were

And the orange billed sandpipers

Making cyclic ruckus

I hiked my way under

Five star buildovers to get here

Breathing in laundry dust and toxic runoff

Listening to laughing, clinking glasses above

Trespassing

Emerging as if out from underworld

And into light.

Ocean crashing below my

Sparkling boulder perch

High above

Trespassing

I remember his rebellious spirit

And open the sandwich casing.

Thinly sliced turkey

Flapping out crusty bread edges

Creamy mayonnaise dollops

Oozing from between

Crumpling potato chip bag

I hear the seagulls salivating

Inserting crispy golden wafers

Into layers of meats and cheeses

And finally, assembled

In my mouth, I let in the striations

Bread, then mayo, then vinegary pepperocini

And crunch of chip

Collapsing all together

A savory, creamy tartness

Dissolving into senses

But it was just okay

He would’ve chosen better

His unfettered ability

To eat and choose with passion

Today it’s only me

And just a beginner

I did my best

And dealt with the finish

Like a good girl should

As the

Orange billed sandpipers

Squeaking

Those same albatross loons

Hovering

In the sun, I sit here without him

Eating.

*Join me next week for my next food memory, “BBQ Chicken Sandwich.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #12: McDonald’s, Ghettos and Iron Maiden (1990)

Image from Discogs.com

I set out on foot

Aimed at taking in

The late morning glow off the river

Turning the corner

I see the pastoral riverside park

Has been taken over by tents

Tents of all sizes, some ripped and some dirty

Beaming metal and wafting smoke

Emanating defensive fight

Against an utter hopeless condition

I could not turn away

The river thick with them

And I, a seeming naive passerby.

Thirty years ago

I walked through similar ghettos

On my way to McDonald’s

But unlike that day

I was not alone.

I was with him

And his promise of hope

And his arms wrapped around me

And his direction

Infusing my own.

I did not see

The tragedies of capitalism

Of deep underworlds of addictive pain

All I saw was him.

But today I am alone

As I take in all of it

Eyes total and wide open

No wonder unlike that day

I am nauseous and full.

This week, after that long stretch of torturous memories, I was glad to have the assignment of re-living a memory of eating at McDonalds. I decided to go to a particular McDonald’s near a river as I was feeling the need to walk before, to get into a contemplative state to re-experience this deep memory. Little did I know that I would be met by the real situation going on in our downtown homeless population, as when I got to the river I saw that the governmental building lawns and the riverside park was completely taken over by homeless people in tents. All varieties, some raucous and immersed in a hazy drug dream, some just hanging on hoping to get out, some just emotionally dead in between. As I walked through this tent-city, I heard sounds of metal playing, which of course took me back to the memory I was aiming to recreate.

Thirty years ago, I had met a man who introduced me to the worlds of heavy metal, and it was after my first Iron Maiden concert in the bowels of Daly City with him and his crew that I had this meal at McDonald’s. I remember walking with him through the dilapidated neighborhoods on the way to the restaurant, and so this occurrence that I had not planned felt oddly like that day so long ago. But this time, I was not lost in the love-induced fog of romance to see what was happening around me. As I walked through this tent town, my heart sank for the reality and my utter powerlessness to do anything to change it.

At some point, I was past this tent-city and at the door of the McDonald’s, and like my past memory, the door was opened for me. Not by him, but by a sanitized automated door opener. I stepped inside and looked around for the booths I remember from that day, plastic red and yellow ones with little children running and screaming in the aisles. I looked for the semi-creepy Ronald McDonald statue that greeted me that day, but all of these elements were not there.

The seating was roped off, and as per the ways of these days, there were plexiglass shields covering everything, including the poorly paid workers standing by for my order. I had to almost yell to be heard through the mask and the thick plastic barrier between me and the register person, but that’s just old news by now.

All so unlike that day, so many years ago. There was no plexiglass, and I remember sunshine beaming in the windows and lighting up the entire place…it felt so warm and happy inside. But today, it was cool, dark…the colors of the restaurant literally changed to a black/slate and green inside to presumably appear more sophisticated. Although I couldn’t really verbalize how, it all felt so metaphorical, symbolic. Of the changes in the external world, of the changes in my inner world.

I ordered a Bacon, Cheese and Egg McGriddle through said plexiglass, paid without touching anything, or anyone and in seconds a bag was in my hands and I was walking out the door. I had hoped for some sort of seating to be available, outside at least, but there was none, probably to discourage the nearby tent residents from sleeping on them. So I had to take this McGriddle to my car.

So much for the universe arranging my reality to totally match the memory I was trying to re-create, but it was close. And after the sights I’d seen that morning, I felt pretty damn lucky to have a car. To have the money to pay for this “play food” challenge. I felt grateful.

But sitting there alone in my car, I was still…alone. The sun was beaming in, and I let that warmth balance out this emotionally dead place I felt into. No one ever said re-living these memories would be easy.

On this day I sat there alone, no one but myself feeding this food to me. Then, he had opened the box for me, he had encouraged me to enjoy it, he had eaten with me (which was still such an amazing thing to have after years of having no one to eat with in my childhood). This time, it was just me. Although sad, and amazed that I still miss him after decades, I thought that maybe I’d integrated his positive, encouraging energy into my being, that maybe he was still with me in a way.

But as I bit into the maple infused cakes, through the crispy salted bacon and finally the billowy egg folds, all I could think about was death. Of him, of these creatures I was taking into my body who had probably lived a very tortured existence before being whacked for my eventual perfectly wrapped meal. I thought of the people involved in the processing of the food, of their wage and living standards, of shit on the fur and feathers of the animals crammed in with each other. I thought of the wheat, manipulated and chemically enhanced soil that it grew from, how different this plant treated from eons ago when it was held in such high respect, in ceremony. And of course I thought of the tent people, how this meal kind of supported that whole scene, and how many people were dead or dying in those tents. This is where my mind went as the sweet, pseudo maple savory flavors congealed on my tastebuds.

The first bite, as I took that all in, was amazing, as I’m sure it was crafted to bedazzle. But after the downloads of all of these images and thoughts and heavy heavy realities that it also held in between it’s perfectly stamped cakes….of course my appetite started to wane. My stomach started to gurgle, and everything inside me wanted to put it down, this meal.

And of course, it makes sense, doesn’t it? That this whole situation of reality, eyes now wide open and unencumbered by the haze of love, would make one lose their appetite? The fact that I must turn away from this reality at every corner is somewhat deadening. And for someone who hadn’t struggled with a restrictive eating disorder, it would be simple…just put it down. Don’t even go there, these fast food places of hollowness. But for me, it is a challenge, and there are so many layers of confusing complexity within such challenges.

Of course I pushed myself to eat Mister McGriddle, allowing the horror and the illusion of nourishment to mingle together in my senses. To not eat it would be “disordered,” right? To eat it shows “recovery,” doesn’t it? I wish it were so simple.

Regardless, this wasn’t my main point of doing this challenge, nor is it for any of these challenges. It is simply to re-experience these long held memories and to see what comes forward. I am not doing this to prove to anyone how “recovered” or not “recovered” I am. It is for different reasons, ones I don’t even really fully know.

So I fed myself, encouraged myself, and validated myself of the confusion and complexity of emotions I was having in eating this meal. I validated my nausea at the situation, and I sat in gratitude for all I have. I also sat with the shape of the loss of him, so many years later, that still hangs within me.

My process art later that evening included tears, and tent towns, a broken heart and the once sacred image of the wheat plant, Triticum aestivum, that has given us so much. With the sounds of that 1991 Iron Maiden concert playing behind it all, I remembered him and McDonald’s and the world the way it used to be.

*Join me next week for my next food memory, “Deli Sandwich.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #10: Air, Illness and Liquid

Photo by Pelipoer Lara on Pexels.com

I sink into surrender

Only at threat of bursting organs

Do I turn down this slippery slope

Hecate waits for me there

Watching

Fear, panic, anxiety

Roiling, resisting

Reminding of weaknesses

Potholes

Dark streets I’ve walked before

Yet this time

The choice She watched me make

Was the trusting

Trust vs. mistrust

A long-held confusion

With this body of mine

It screaming for my reversal

Pausing

Clearing

To wash over inflamed tissues

With courses of liquid

But for a day

Would I do it

Should I do it

A walk on this thin, crackling tightrope

Trusting

Trusting

Trusting?

Last week I mentioned how excited I was to be out of diet memories, and onto something more delicious…I believe I mentioned McDonald’s. In the sequence of my memoir, there are actually two memories before this one that I thought weren’t worth delving into so decided I’d skip on by. These memories included one called “Air” where I recount my budding rebellion to follow doctor’s orders to “just eat,” and where I first notice my mother’s concern for my well-being. Something inside of me chose that day to resist against all opinion to go The Opposite Way by fasting.

So of course, as a person in re-membery, I did not want to re-live the fasting memory, the resistance memory, the memory that started this whole thing in the first place. It was not “good” for me to do. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, my body had other plans.

A few days before my McDonald’s delight, I started feeling wonky. Nausea, chills, slight fever. Was it the dreaded Corona? I waited. And as usual, I made myself eat despite what my body seemed to be saying, for fear of triggering myself into another restrictive episode. Forcing forcing forcing food down. Can’t trust, it’s all a trick to woo you.

But a few days later, when the symptoms kept coming, and a new one of pain in my groin appeared, I became scared. I did the stupid thing and googled all the possibilities I could be hosting, one of which might be appendicitis. Knowing I was probably overreacting, but also not wanting to ignore a serious thing, I struggled with the prescription for a presumed inflamed appendix–eating no solid food, as it might cause the organ to rupture.

Now I know I’ve suddenly gone from a possible stomach bug to appendicitis pretty quick here, but a sharp pain or two and a nagging, strange soreness in the area was enough to make me worry in this direction. I thought to myself, what was more risky, forcing food on an already taxed system and causing possible serious harm, or transitioning to all liquids for one day? I decided on the prior and chose to do the latter. Against all professional opinion of my past and training…I chose to fast.

I gathered juices and broths and shakes and headed in. I set to the task of trusting that my body was actually asking me to give it a break AND that I could pull up my big girl pants after one day and go back onto my regular meal plan. I decided to choose from a place of having faith in myself, and in my body, not from a place of feeling dirty or bad or horrible about myself but from a place of trusting myself and this amazing body I am in.

The choice, the action felt familiar but rebellious, like so many years ago, and it was then I realized that something in me might be constellating a situation to have to relive the Air (and liquid) memory. Pretty trippy, even if it is just a fantasy, to think that my body/soul could do something like that? I decided that this was my chance to re-write that script I entered into so many years ago that said, “I will control my body, I will not trust it.” I decided to use this opportunity to instead choose to tell myself that my body knows what it is doing, and that I can trust it, and that if it seems I am heading in an unhealthy direction as a result of shifting my diet, I can turn that around with my tools. That I am strong enough to know the difference, that I have learned to discern enough to not be living perpetually in fear of going off my meal plan for one day.

The smoothies and juices, the slippery elm tea and bone broths soothed something inside of me, but they also put me in direct facing of that feeling I love and fear so much–emptiness. The slight headache and lightheadedness, the almost trance-like state I touch when there came back to me in the wee hours of the morning when I sat, sipping hot broth laced with butter. My mind felt unusually clear, clear that this was a healing of a very old wound that my body had directed me to re-live.

At the end of the 24 hours, I did not uncontrollably spin into the throes of monk-like fasting–I welcomed a returning appetite and gleefully prepared my first solid but gentle meal, chewing the oatmeal groats with delight. Savoring the silky almond butter creaminess, the hints of cinnamon. And as I looked out upon a new day, I felt like I had accomplished something: gaining a newfound trust in self and body, and letting the fear of this animal that I am lessen in an exponential way.

Later, in my art process after experiencing this day, I drew all the various liquid things that came into my body to help me. I drew me, bent over with fear and pain, forced into this situation. I drew great waters, depths, and air. And I researched the magickal properties of liquid, of air, and of fasting…and found that not surprisingly they were all related to cleansing, soothing, clearing, making space for clarity.

This is a tricky concept for someone with a past with restrictive eating issues, but in the moment it felt right. That sometimes, this was called for, that sometimes, my body would ask it of me, and that sometimes I would have to discipline myself to return to full eating if the emptiness was not serving a healing purpose. Again, I thought back to the concept of Vision Questing, or in Norse animism, a concept called “Sitting Out” where a person goes out onto the land and fasts for a short time to receive clarity and wisdom. I drew myself as this person. With a coyote/paradoxical ability to walk this edge and with a knowing of my power of discernment to pull myself back from that edge into the fully embodied human world.

A healing experience indeed. Thank you, nausea, pain, fever. Thank you…my wise animal body.

*The actual memory that is next in my memoir is called “Meal Plan,” which I am tempted to skip over to get to the tasty McDonald’s one…but I think I’ll heed the somaticamagickal warnings of last week’s skippings and let that indeed be the memory for our next post. I hope you’ll join me for “Meal Plan.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #9: Diet Entree (and The Frozen Food Cultural Wasteland)

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

Bright neon light

Activates at my arrival

And I am standing there

Just AI and I

It’s a familiar place

While I don’t often come to this door

The diet door

I’m in the freezer aisle often

Funny that I’m often also frozen

As I stand before the frosty items it holds

So many options

So many cold, cold options

I am overwhelmed

Numbers and grams

Bright perfect images screaming

This one! That one!

None of them really feeding what needs to be fed

No one is there with me

As I stand frozen at this door

Making choices, sometimes serious choices

Nothing

Except that neon something

That knows somehow

I am there

So this week I was a bit perplexed in how to re-enact my “Diet” food memory–one that was a basic description of the empty, tasteless immersion I had into the dieting lifestyle in my youth. I joined Weight Watchers with a friend when I was around fourteen years old, and don’t remember much of what I ate during those first pivotal months descending. The only thing I could think of was to go onto their site and see what meals they recommended.

What I found there was that Weight Watchers has now become a sort of digitalized coaching/phone tracking/food delivery system, very different than the in-person, come to the support group and get weighed kind of Weight Watchers I went to as a young woman. I found it interesting that as it was when I was a member, there seems to be no kind of warning or support regarding the possibility that an eating disorder could result from such endeavors. It’s almost as if that’s a shadow dream of its members, that only the lucky would be graced with such a thing.

I finally settled on looking up members’ favorite frozen meals so I could easily create a “diet eating experience.” Turns out Weight Watchers has its own line of frozen foods, Smart Ones, and I started there, with a backup of Lean Cuisine items if no Smart Ones could be found at my grocery store.

Now, I haven’t let myself look for diet entrees for a long time…in “recovery” it is shunned upon to choose these types of things. So it was a sort of novel experience, when I’m so used to being two doors down at the Organic meals door. New flavors and combinations I hadn’t reviewed a million times met my eyes and as usual I was overwhelmed with what to choose. As I didn’t want to eat non-organic meat in this experiment, the vegetarian limitations helped narrow it down but even then I met my familiar friend, choice anxiety. In these moments I look to numbers, I look to factual information to help me make some sort of logical decision as quick as possible so I don’t stand there forever looking like a weirdo.

The numbers and facts on these boxes shared a cold, hard truth with me, however–many of the meals were calorically the same as the organic ones I’ve been choosing instead all of these years. Aside from not supporting Nestle’ and GMO farming, really the boxes are the same…my life/eating box is the same. Ugh. Hard truth. I don’t eat the way I do to lose weight or because I think I’m a horrible person (it’s more about a fear of nausea and pain), but I can only tolerate “diet meal” caloric amounts all the same. Hmm.

So I chose a Lean Cuisine macaroni and cheese, hoping it would give me some semblance of flavor, and brought it to the register. While waiting, I realized that in this moment I had become one of “those women,” one that eats diet entrees alone in her apartment. The emptiness of that life! And somehow the organic meals I usually buy don’t advertise this sad truth as blatantly. Somehow, standing at the register with a Lean Cuisine macaroni and cheese seemed to yodel out this sorry state of affairs.

It made me think of how much I want to be a vibrant, voluptuous food-loving kitchen witch and how far I feel away from that reality, try as hard as I have to reach this seeming nirvana. It made me think of how many other women, men…teenagers even, who spend their lives eating out of these boxes, detached from cooking and growing food and laughing and enjoying hearty meals with others. It really did put me in a funk.

The eating experience was nothing to get excited about. Firstly, the meal was housed in a plastic bowl that prevented me from cooking it in the oven–it necessitated a microwave! Another layer of emptiness there. As I do not have one of these contraptions, I had to carve the orange frozen mass out of the plastic and into a pot to heat on the stove. I somehow managed not to burn the conglomoration, and sat down to experience it. All I can say was that it was pretty tasteless, I had to keep adding salt and at some point it reminded me of the macaroni and cheese one would eat out of a can. A slight plastic-y taste, and certainly no glorious crusty bits to enjoy. Just me and this yellow orange gloopy mass, alone in my apartment.

Afterwards, doing art in my journal, I couldn’t really shake this realization of the cold, frozen, sad and empty state of many eating these meals…of the disconnection both I and I’m sure many others are a part of, with their bodies, the soil, the cooking process, the joy and creativity available in this thing we call eating. There were a lot of blue tears, lines of frozen zombie women chasing after the “skinny” carrot. There was an image of that curvy wild woman, trapped behind bars. Of boxes and boxes and numbers and grams.

I may feel a whole lot different about myself, having worked on self-love and appreciation until it comes running out my ass, but the facts are still the same: I and a zillion others are caught in a food-cultural wasteland, wishing for other options but finding no support in facing the sheer deadening overwhelm of how to make that a reality. When measured products, programs and the Zeitgeist of weight loss surround us at every corner. Because the deeper importance of learning how to cook, grow food and spend quality time with others isn’t exactly K-12 education, because it is seen as “unempowered” to many to be in the kitchen….how we find ourselves here, frozen, in the frozen aisle.

*I am glad to say I will be returning to a more delicious memory next week: McDonalds’s. Please join me :}

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #8: Pancakes, Hawaiian Gecko Medicine and Carrie (1976)

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Masked and waiting

I order from the simple diner

One large pancake and eggs

Certainly not organic

I can’t see her smile as she hands the order to me

She’s too busy fielding walk-ins, phone orders and GrubHub

Things have changed so much since that first memory of pancakes.

I take them home, and open the steaming eco-container

Doughy goodness rises into my nostrils

Two packets of silver wrapped butter sit on top

Of a gigantic, head-sized pancake

I rush to remove them before an uncontrolled amount

Seeps out the edges of the foil

I cut the pancake into quarters

And lift one section to my plate

I cut a tiny wedge of this

And atop it, place a sliver of the butter

And a drizzle of fake maple syrup.

And then I shovel my fork under this gift,

Into my waiting mouth it enters

Onto my tongue where memories bloom

The entire congealed mass reminding:

Carefree innocence, buttery and sweet

Warm tropical breezes, soft and billowy

Cheerleading geckos

And those mean girls

The ones who penetrated me

Reflected back my pubescent portly appearance

And made it wrong

Made me wrong

Thier sneering, laughing, indifference

I remember

And suddenly the image of Carrie arises

Teased and traumatized

Thick pig’s blood dripping

And how instead of initiating me

Into unleashing anger and revenge

Onto the entirety of my external world

I began to wield my powers upon

My own self-destruction.

I chose this week to focus on my first memory of eating pancakes. The original memory took place in a restaurant on the island of Maui during a vacation with my mother. I remember the eating of these pancakes, their ooey gooey amazingness, but also the gecko on the wall beside me…my only real companion. Mom was sitting across the table smoking, drinking coffee and shielded behind a newspaper. Me and this gecko had a moment, I felt joy and companionship with the little creature.

I was fourteen years old and little did I know that shit was about to hit the fan in my life. I was just entering puberty and prior to this vacation had weathered yet another psychic pummelling by the mean girls at my middle school, teasing me about my weight. I was a kind of chunky kid, and taunts of me being pregnant and not being able to find pants that fit me sunk in deeper than I thought.

And here I was faced with enjoying these pancakes but also wondering whether I was fat, whether I was wrong. The gecko and his little pushups helped me not feel so bad, and I ate the pancakes, but still these psychic introjects/spells had begun worming their way into my self-esteem. It wouldn’t be too long after this moment that I would embark on that fateful choice to join Weight Watchers and enter into the downward spiral of Anorexia Nervosa (although I still wonder if that was the correct diagnosis for my symptoms/experience).

As I ate the pancakes for this week’s challenge, I remembered that time and never stopped to realize that Gecko was there with me, perhaps as a portent of the intensity to come. In some traditions the Gecko represents a protector spirit, especially the protector of homes, and I wondered if that Gecko was showing up to encourage me to not let my “home” be battered, to not choose to go down the depression path as a result of it. Seriously didn’t think about it until re-experiencing this meal. Hmm.

This meal was filled with more shame than others as I definitely acted like a weirdo in preparing it–only eating a quarter of the pancake, only have a bite of normally doused syrup/butter doughiness in fear of not knowing the calories or how it might make me full for too long. I ate my normal meal in addition to it, to get my needs in, but still felt like a little bit of a failure that I couldn’t just “let loose” and eat more of the pancake. I decided to step away from the shame and to appreciate my attempt to at least try to eat this that I would not normally eat.

I allowed myself that bite, and then ate the rest of the quarter pancake plain. I usually like pancakes plain but the contrast made this actually taste pretty gross, lifeless. I thought of how my life has been through such a cycle of life/death/joy-sucking processes, how this pancake tasted like how at times I’d been living.

All of this experience I had while choosing to rewatch Carrie (1976), and the symbology of the movie was more intense than I remembered. This was a favorite movie of mine as a kid, and it clearly made sense to me, now, watching it. Here was an incredibly sensitive young woman, basically isolated in her home with a scary mother, subjected to cruel teasings at school. Feeling like she wanted to die. But then the glorious feeling of power she experienced, of saying no to her mother, of destroying the school, etc. I’m sure my inner child was smiling at the fantasy of that.

As I ate the rest of my dry pancake, I felt great compassion for those young people being treated these ways, no matter what gender, for being sensitive, looking different, etc. It made me want to reach out to kids like that and be there with them, in a way I wished someone was there with me. Besides the Gecko, anyway. I was grateful for his little pushups and presence. But perhaps re-experiencing this meal awakened the part in me that needs most healing…and that part that might be able to offer compassion to others going through the same. I continued forward and in my art journal I drew the pancakes, I drew the blood, I drew the Gecko, and wrote all of the magickal correspondences for this amazing food. But still kept thinking about these kids, whether I was to find a way to help.

The familiar doubt arises as usual at that thought–how can I help others when I can’t even eat a whole fucking pancake? But still I let it linger and brew. We’ll see.

*Join me next week as I re-experience my next memory: “Diet.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #7: Fried Hamburger and Po-Tay-Toes

The next memory re-lived is a simple meal of fried hamburger and potatoes. I can remember this meal, eaten alone at the table, while my mother smoked and drank gin behind me cutting coupons or something. I was pretty much always alone at the table, except for the rare Thanksgivings when my family actually chose to have the event at our small little apartment. I loved those years, having people in the seats around me, seeing them eat and enjoy it. So unusual it was for me.

So anyway, this time I purchased some beef and a small red potato for the experiment. I didn’t know what spices Mom put in the meal, so settled with what I had, salt and pepper. I couldn’t really figure out how to honor the original setting of my childhood home while re-experiencing the meal, as this is part of my project each time. So instead, I found myself researching magickal properties of the foods to give me some comfort and joy in cooking/eating them:

Beef: strength, abundance, fire, masculine, assertiveness, grounding

Potato: grounding, earth, feminine, safety, security, poppet/manifestation magic

Salt: Protection, cleansing

Pepper: Protection, exorcism, energy

Ah! Just the things I needed in my life, grounding and a little exorcism :} I lit a candle and, unlike my mother who probably was smoking and cursing whilst cooking, started to thank the elements of the foods as they sizzled and fried. I again imagined my little child sitting at the table, and me, actively putting good energy into her food and preparing to eat it with her. In my imagination, she was happy to not be alone. Because I am not really that skilled of a cook, the frying created a ton of smoke, so much I had to open all of the doors and windows of my little studio. Only as I made my way to the table, coughing, did I see the irony that indeed I had managed to create at least part of the original childhood environment–a smoke filled one!

Laughing and sitting down with this little girl in my mind, I found myself doing further research on potatoes, and of course came across Samwise Gamgee and his love of po-tay-toes. This put me in a cheery mood for the eating of the meal, singing “boil them, mash them, stick them in a stew!” whilst doing so. Singing this with my little girl, I imagined her to be Frodo, and me Samwise, getting through this intensity of a life together.

And then I let myself be very present with the tastes of the meal–the crisp, saltiness of the thinly sliced fried potatoes, the savory chewiness of the meat crumbling in my mouth. Mashing all together, I remembered this flavor being one of my favorites. No vegetables, not even ketchup–just the taste of fried beef, its fat and potatoes simmered to a crispy golden brown in it. It tasted so good.

But this time, the taste included something else. Or rather it was missing part of the original recipe–that is, it included a conscious love and was missing my mother’s cold and hollow grief, her drunkenness, her nicotine cloud infusion. I swear she injected all of that into my food. Not consciously, she really tried to love me. But with all that going on inside her, it’s no wonder I was eventually pulled to stop eating the food she served me.

But again, this time there was Samwise, chortling his song. There was me, cooking and chanting for strength and grounding and protection. There was me laughing at how unskilled of a cook I am, dancing in the haze of my own creations.

Afterwards, as I do each time, I sat down with my art journal. My artwork for this meal depicted more of a positive feeling–love beaming, smiles, and a whole array of colors which I have not used much in this process until now. Maybe that’s something. Maybe this experiment as a whole is doing more than just getting me to vary my diet, maybe it’s a deeper healing. My trusty skeptic doesn’t seem to think so, and that’s fine. For now I will carry on, just as those Hobbits did, to the next adventure.

*Join me next week for the next memory re-enactment: Pancakes :}

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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The Void

Photo by Philippe Donn on Pexels.com

There is a hollow core

Of liquid Nothingness inside me

Lashing waters of neverending grief

At lack of direction, spark

Identity, purpose, mission

I’d like to think

It a rumbling Darkness

One that’s initiating me

A Holy Womb of Void

And I, its holder

My only real assignment, as channel

To Be.

I’d like to think

This assignment

Is sacred

Given by the Highest of Orders

Divine and Boddhisatvic

Such is the fantasy nature of my mind.

But who the fuck am I

To carry such a thing?

It makes more sense to think that

What it feels like

When I’m full

Is vast and utter abandonment

Old ancestral feelings

Vast and utter loneliness

Vast and utter despair

That instead of Holy

There’s really just an echoing chamber of anger

At none in human form, but at Spirit itself:

WHY DON’T I HAVE DIRECTION?

WHERE IS MY HOLY PURPOSE?

WHY DO YOU NOT CHOOSE ME FOR A CLEAR MISSION?

WHY ARE YOU SO SILENT?

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE AND WHY HAVE YOU LEFT ME SO ALONE?

And then of course, I wonder

If its a Freudian thing

All about the absent father

A problem

Rather than a sacred thing

And I realize that regardless

Inside this vast and utter emptiness

Whatever it may be

There is something

It is my feeling

Perhaps my sacred feeling

A roiling despair

A roiling grief

A roiling bitterness

And the only direction

In this seemingly echoing desert, this pathless land

Is my pen, to express

This something

Of Nothing

I feel

When I’m full.

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Food Memory #6: Scones, Gregorian Chants and Mother Loss

From Wikipedia:

“The origin of the word scone is obscure and may derive from different sources. That is, the classic Scottish scone, the Dutch schoonbrood or “spoonbread” (very similar to the drop scone), and possibly other similarly-named quick breads may have made their way onto the British tea table, where their similar names merged into one. Thus, scone may derive from the Middle Dutchschoonbrood (fine white bread), from schoon (pure, clean) and brood (bread),[9][10] or it may derive from the Scots Gaelic term sgonn meaning a shapeless mass or large mouthful. The Middle Low German term schöne meaning fine bread may also have played a role in the origination of this word. And, if the explanation put forward by Sheila MacNiven Cameron is true, the word may also be based on the town of Scone (/skuːn/ (listen)) (ScotsScuinScottish GaelicSgàin) in Scotland, the ancient capital of that country – where Scottish monarchs were crowned, and on whose Stone of Scone the monarchs of the United Kingdom are still crowned today.[11]

The next food memory on my chronological tour is The Scone. First eaten at a quaint little bakery in the Diamond District of San Francisco with my uncle, I was probably about 10 years old and in awe of the whole situation. Being with a “father figure,” eating dainty fancy scones in a bakery, the sunny day outside the counter windows and the small bookstore across the street….all just dreamy compared to what I lived with back home with my mother. I’d started out the day with my auntie at the Chinatown Farmer’s Market, she showed me a connection and valuing of food I hungered for, and then to the Grace Cathedral where Gregorian Chanting filled the air. Then here with uncle, eating this heavenly morsel. This was an epic day. I think on some level eating this item tapped me into a sense based memory of my ancestors–Irish, Scottish, English, Wales–before I knew ancestry was a thing. All I know is paired with this scene I fell immediately in love with this type of pastry.

So my task this week was to re-create this moment to see what arose, a mighty challenge as all of these things are no longer what they were–cafes closed, Farmer’s Markets and Grace Cathedral sparsely dotted with the masked and anxious ridden. But I would try.

I purchased a raisin scone from the small market in town, and pulled up an image on my computer of the little bakery I once sat in with that uncle, who has now lapsed into dementia. I toasted the scone, and placed it in a ceramic bowl given to me by my auntie, also now lapsed into stage 4 cancer with no real verbal or mental abilities left. I began eating the scone. So perfect, the crisp outer denseness, collapsing into a steamy, soft, billowy center as I gently pulled it apart. I bit into the warmth, closed my eyes and enjoyed this taste experience. And then I put on the Gregorian Chanting.

Somehow, hearing these sounds opened another floodgate of grief within me. I began lamenting, truly feeling into the depth of loss I felt with my auntie’s condition–how, as a second mother to me, I was now losing her too. How just two years ago she danced around the room during Advent, this music playing. How after decades of being on the run from any family whatsoever, I was welcomed back into her arms after my mother died, no questions asked. How we stayed up late into the night talking about things I never knew about mom, about my childhood. She was helping me put some major puzzle pieces together. I cried about so much I don’t even know how to explain it. I think I cried the tears I should’ve cried when my mother passed, the deep deep ones that signify the true realization that something is just done, gone, ended and a void is all that is to be felt.

As I choked down that crumbly, slightly sweet deliciousness, I think I was also grieving for the opportunity to be a part of that day, so long ago, that rang of real family. Again, I don’t know how to describe that term, but it felt deep and like I was loved. “You belong to us,” I remember her saying to me, looking straight into my soul…and how those words reached around my heart and held it. While the doughy mass disintegrated on my tongue, I felt the awareness of how my uncle and auntie were both now almost gone and that sense of being a part of a “real family,” gone. Sloppy, snotty tears mingling with fading toasted buttery pastry scents, all of this mixed together.

Again I went to the art page and drew. Moons and broken hearts and tears and blues and Mama Mama Mama crying out for her loss. I let the feelings come, doing what I could to process them. Surprisingly, after the crying jags lessened, I found myself wanting more of the scone. I had cut it in half in case it made my stomach too full…and here was my stomach asking for more. Here was where I usually met the eating disorder thoughts. Should I or shouldn’t I push that risk of fullness?

Kind of scared and mistrusting, as usual I wasn’t sure my hunger was real or just emotional. Nevertheless I let myself eat one more bite just to honor the possibility that my hunger telling the truth. To be the mom, or the auntie or the uncle to that little kid in me that so badly wants them to eat a scone in a bakery with me again, now. I closed my eyes and visualized her in the bakery, sitting alone at the window, sadness in her eyes. Wondering where everyone was, who would come and eat with her. I imaged myself walking in the door and pulling up a seat next to her saying, “Hey. I’m here with you. Always.”

She looked up at me and smiled.

*Join me next week as I head into the next food memory: Fried Hamburger and Potatoes.

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075 

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #5: Manifest Your Goals With Grilled Cheese

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on Pexels.com

Sizzling sourdough scenting

Oozing golden innards cascading

Crisp textures collapsing

Savoring, savoring

Taking in the Sun

Crafting up my Will

Chewy, gooey

Salty, creamy deliciousness

Sliding across tastebuds

And into waiting core

It was a sunny day, as I remember, in her house. Everything was colored cream, or light beige and there were doilies everywhere. She was a friend of my mother’s and she was in the kitchen, with me. I was not alone in the kitchen, but as usual my mother was not there.

I was standing on a chair in front of her stove, and she was guiding me step-by-step in how to make a perfect grilled cheese sandwich (not with an iron, BTW). Her hair was white, billowy, curly. She had a kind look in her eyes, I could feel the gentleness of her heart as she spoke to me. Don’t ask how an eight year old knows these things, they just do. Especially with contrast.

This is the next memory I chose to re-create, now in my 40’s, to see what would happen. I’m not exactly sure why I am going through these memories again but it is driving me nonetheless. Driving me to feel, perhaps?

Last week’s memory was a challenging one, bringing up many of those pesky feelings, but this week felt a little lighter. I’m not a gluten/dairy/fat-o-phobe, so all of the ingredients indeed felt wholesome and nourishing to me. My preparation of the meal was joyful–music playing, a candle lit, dancing while entertaining the magickal qualities of the foods as the shimmering pan sizzled. Nourishment, creation, grounding, kinship, bringing good things together, manifestation.

I even attempted to carve a rune into the bread while cooking–as part of me laughed at the thought, another part of me allowed the play. The rune was Berkana,  which according to whispersofyggdrasil.blogspot.com, means “a time of personal growth is on the way. This may involve material, domestic or – by far the most likely possibility – spiritual affairs, because Berkana is also associated with intuition, the higher self and the soul’s purpose on earth.” This is a deep desire of mine lately, to really get clearer on my Service path. So I thought it might be interesting to call that in whilst cooking my meal.

When I sat down to eat it, I found myself watching a YouTube video on how to create teaching videos…not the most sacred of settings but seemed related to feeding my desire to learn how to be more active in offering my services to the world. There were only feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction during the eating, no sad tear-filled reviews of lost childhood. It was actually really good, and made me wonder why I haven’t made this meal for myself more often.

But of course, about a 1/2 hour after eating, my stomach started cramping in weird ways. I’ve had all of the tests for allergies so at least medically I’m not supposed to be having reactions to these foods. So I wondered of all the different reasons my stomach would be cramping after eating this. And I tried not to wonder. I found myself sliding down the slippery slope of frustration and disappointment, of wondering whether this whole experiment thing was a stupid joke. Ah the lovely voice of skepticism, it does like to enter in at times like this!

Luckily I have enough consciousness to know that these are just feelings. And that they will pass. Especially if I do not attribute them to anything in particular, but rather let them be, do some art with them, and watch as they pass as clouds. Which I did, and they did.

Is there gargantuan meaning to this project I am choosing to undertake and share with you each week? Maybe. Maybe not. Yet I’m trying to have fun with it, and trying to let my simple desire to do such lead where it will lead. I’m of course hoping that there will be some sort of golden, crispy, delicious crescendo at the culmination of this collective project, leading me to my soul service in the world. And hell, if we want to believe in astrology, I’m a Capricorn…which basically says I can’t just eat a damn cheese sandwich without wondering about what it might mean lol. Where’s the meaning? Where’s the goal it will accomplish?

I have to laugh at myself, and at our minds as a species, sometimes. That seems to be the best medicine. And art. And delicious food, no matter what. So I’ll keep going, even if it is a stupid joke. I am eating and exploring and not dying. That’s got to count for something. Next week, I shall re-experience a scone. Won’t you join me?

*Seriously, the blog post that inspired this title exists. It is an actual description of using the eating of grilled cheese sandwiches. If you’re interested, here’s the link: https://plentifulearth.com/manifest-goals-grilled-cheese-spell/

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075 or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #4: Vending Machine Chicken Noodle Soup

Photo by Rojan Maguyon on Pexels.com

slippery 

slurping

salty 

sweet?

chunky

chicken

chewy

noodles

undercooked…

steamy

tendrils

savory

but empty

chemical

wire versus cloth mother

alone in the kitchen

greyhound bus stations

fending for myself

i can’t even finish

the grief comes in waves 

and makes chewing swallowing impossible

I turn to Her

Well this food memory was less enjoyable than the ones I’ve done so far. Who knew vending machine chicken soup could do such a thing?

First of all, the hunt for vending machines serving this stuff yeilded pretty much nil. Nowhere serves this crap anymore, so my next best option was to get the instant Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup in a box. I tried to not look at the back of the box but of course I did, and saw all the lovely chemicals that would swim in the concoction I was to challenge myself with.

This challenge came with emotion. The first wave delivered from the (continued) realization that I sought out and liked this mechanically produced, dead food as a child. That I actually preferred it to the rare times my mother would cook. If you know anything about the (cruel) Harlow monkey experiments,* I certainly thought of them in relation to this situation.

Why was that? Perhaps energetically at least the vending machine wasn’t full of rage and grief whilst cooking so therefore it wouldn’t get transferred into the food and into my body. Much magickal thinking in my head as a child. Perhaps my mom was just a bad and rare cook, but nonetheless, it brought up tears to think I’d choose this powdered empty food rather than real food.

The second wave of emotion came when I was researching the magickal properties of chicken noodle soup. In every post I reviewed, most of the magick centered on the vitality and strength building properties of the whole food ingredients in the soup–carrots, onions, garlic, chicken–and try as I did, I just couldn’t transfer such qualities to this dehydrated substance. I really wanted to, to re-craft this soup into something beauteous, but I just couldn’t. The kitchen witch sites also listed the ingredient of “grandma’s love” or “a mother’s love” as one of the healing ingredients and for reasons already mentioned this just made that less possible.

I’m pretty good at kicking myself out of emotional doldrums but this time I let myself feel it all. I put on some boiling water for the “soup” and pulled up pictures of Greyhound Bus stations to look at whilst eating as this was where the original memory unfolded. I let myself feel my sadness, remembering that kid in the bus station, as I smelled the savory fake broth I poured into my cup. I let myself taste the taste that seemed nourishing to me as a kid, that was my only comfort back then in that cold station waiting for my uncle to pick me up. But when I bit into the not quite cooked noodles, I just lost it. Gross. Fake. Sad. Why did I find this delicious then? Sad, sad, sad. Just let myself feel it. But the rest of the “soup” was left unfinished. I turned from my cup and went straight to the art page to process and let tears come.

Although this experiment was a bummer, I’m letting myself believe that it was a perfect thing. That this urge to re-live these memories is designed to put me in touch with these feelings, and to allow me to process them, perhaps exorcising them for a final time. I look ahead and brace myself for the range of emotions I might feel as I re-experience more of my tastebuds’ recollection of those times.

Thanks for coming along with me on this journey. I hope it is inspiring some of your own food memories. Next up: Grilled Cheese Sandwich…

*If you want to know more about the monkey experiments on attachment, you can find that information here : https://www.psychologicalscience.org/publications/observer/obsonline/harlows-classic-studies-revealed-the-importance-of-maternal-contact.html#:~:text=Based%20on%20this%20observation%2C%20Harlow,rubber%20and%20soft%20terry%20cloth.

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075 or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Food Memory #3: Wild Onion and Wood Sorrel Faeries

Wood Sorrel Fairy, c1930 by Cicely Mary Barker

The next food memory that comes to mind chronologically, is one of eating what as a kid I used to call “Sourgrass.” There was a big forest next to our apartment and within it lived many species of plants I came to know as friends. Sourgrass was the only one I remember eating, however, but I used wild onion all the time to spread over my forts for protection.

So anyhow, this being my next memory I set out into the woods near my current home looking for the Sourgrass. Quite challenging as it is winter here and the plant’s fleshy flower stems don’t come up until springtime. But I did manage to find wild onion spears shooting up from the earth, as well as a bed of spindly clover-ish leaves of the Sourgrass growing short to the wintery ground. I plucked some of the latter and stored it in my pocket for eating later…as unlike the pristine forests of yore, the roadside foraging requires some washing to avoid urine and other such matter to not be ingested 😛

While walking with these leaves in my pocket, I felt a little lighter for some reason, a little playful. I was drawn back to remembering how much I loved foraging and playing in the forests as a kid, one of my safe places. I was curious to see what the research/eating/art journal exercise would bring forward.

At home, I did the eating first. Such a tiny little thing, this cloverish stem, rolling around in my mouth. Nothing like the thick juicy stems of springtime, but when I bit down into it, that familiar sharpness rang through my cheeks. The taste of childhood forests. Ahh.

Researching next, I was reminded that this plant is actually called Wood Sorrel, of the Oxalis family of plants. But a few lines down into my reading, I noticed it was also called “fairy bells” and was commonly connected to the fae folk, elves and woodland spirits. The image above depicts the supposed fairy that hangs out with the Wood Sorrel, from the 1930’s. When I saw this image I felt a resonance with this part of me that has always been a kin to these creatures, and I found it quite interesting that it was such a strong memory in my head, that it stuck around for all these decades, here to remind me again. Hmm.

Overall the experience of this food challenge was kind, sweet and of good energy. Adding a sprig of grass to my meal plan isn’t something triggering to my issues with fullness, but it did bring me back to a window of joy I experienced as a child…and how the plants helped me with that. Upon further research I found that energetically this plant was associated with Venus, the element of earth and had in the past been used for protection for the troubled heart.

As far as wild onion, its main energetic kitchen witchy property is protection. From negativity…and especially from demons! I wonder if that’s why it felt so good to be around them as a child, why I was moved to use them as protection for my forts, as I was pretty much dealing with demons back home.

Thanks, Wood Sorrel and Wild Onion, for reminding of the companionship you offered me as a child. And for showing me how I can connect with you and that simple joy now…so many years later.

Next week, I will aim to find and experience vending machine chicken noodle soup, my next memory. Does that even exist anymore??? We shall see.

*Food Memories, by Reagan Lakins is available on all major book sales sites should you choose to dive more deeply into her tales of food, body and memory.

Find it here on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1689839074?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

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Food Memory #2: Dinty Moore and The Reindeer People

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Last week, I mentioned my next Food Memories challenge was to procure and re-experience dry Coffeemate Creamer on a spoon. I was not able to get that on my hunt so moved to the next memory…Dinty Moore beef stew. The memory of the last time I ate this foodstuff was way back in the 80’s, and I ate it straight out of the can sitting on the kitchen counter. I was a “latchkey kid” and had to often fend for myself in finding sustenance. This was one of my favorites.

Fast forward to now, 40 years later and with deeply imbedded training of a no preservative, grass-fed meat, organic lifestyle…the thought of eating such a thing was difficult. But it being a challenge after all, I rolled up my sleeves and believed in my body’s ability to process one night’s worth of non-perfect food.

Who knew finding it would be so difficult! Have you bought Dinty Moore lately? Nary a can to be found on grocery store shelves. I talked to a grocery manager and was informed that the virus had probably forced them to stop production! What an interesting coincidence, again leaving me with an added layer of challenge. I was determined so decided to visit some places that maybe had some of this last-until-next-century stew on their shelves from before the virus hit.

I found it at CVS of all places, one last lonely can waiting for me. I held it in my hand for a moment, as if a sacred manifestation for this project. I purchased it, made the trip home and put it on my altar until the time would come for me to eat it with awareness.

Over the next few days, as it is the winter holiday season here in the North, I thought about stew. I immersed myself in the value of this food, of its presence as a simple survival meal in the diet of people for centuries. And I thought of the Reindeer. Reindeer stew, otherwise known as Bidos*, is a staple meal of the indigenous Sapmi people in the Scandinavian north. These are my way back ancestors, and there was something helpful in thinking about this meal and its survival benefits that helped me gain courage to re-envision that can of processed stew.

Also, I couldn’t help myself from again researching the magical properties of the stew ingredients to further assist my confidence in taking this into my body. The qualities of the ingredients are as listed:

Beef: Excitable energy, power, fertility, blissful energy, aggressive energy

Carrots: Clarity, fertility, passion

Potatoes: Stability, grounding and the basic necessities of life

Gravy: Calming, emotions, smoothing things together

As you can see, I needed to do a lot of pep-talk to get myself ready to eat this meal! But finally I decided to do it. I lit a candle and said a prayer to my well ancestors, thanking them for this food.

I sat on my kitchen counter and peeled back the tin can lid. Inside was a dark, chunky concoction. In my childhood memory, there were fat globules in the stew I ate (as I was eating it cold) but in this can there were none. Even in the cold winter temperature, the gravy was perfectly and consistently one texture. Hmm. Don’t want to know how they did that feat of magic. Carry on.

Piercing the first chunk of orange carrot, I braced myself to take in something that might taste like sludge from a factory, but as I put it into my mouth and onto my tongue, the savory deliciousness transported me back into the same moment in time…me on that counter in my childhood home, watching the trees get dark out the kitchen window. I felt the same sense of comfort I felt from eating this squishy carrot laced with gravy that I remember feeling back then.

It actually tasted good.

Sure I was being lured into a preservative laced illusion of nourishment, but it was enjoyable. And for geez sake, I had food on a cold night whereas many people do not. I decided to heat up the remainder of the stew, having recreated the eating-from-the-can experience for the first few bites. Holding the bowl of steaming stew in my hands, I let myself be grateful. I let myself be comforted. I let myself be filled with the fertility, grounding and calming nature of these foods, tapping into their original nature and envisioning it in myself.

Next week, I’m on the hunt for another of my favorite childhood foods…sourgrass!

*If you’d like to know more about Bidos or the Sapmi people, here’s a good article/recipe. Enjoy! https://northwildkitchen.com/bidos-sami-reindeer-stew/

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Food Memory #1: The Beastmaster (1982), Kitchen Witchery and Vanilla Ice Cream

As mentioned in last week’s post, I’ve got an ongoing challenge to release myself from restrictive food patterns. In service to this I’ve decided to reintroduce foods from childhood memories, recreate the environment when I can whilst eating said foods and take notes about my experience.

The first of my challenges was vanilla ice cream, eaten while watching The Beastmaster (yes, I’m a nerd, and apparently have been one since 1982 when this movie stole my heart.)

I thought it might also be fun to look up the magickal qualities of the food before eating it to give myself some buffer from the consensus reality negative opinion of everything that is in ice cream. Sugar, dairy blah blah blah. To give it a bit more fun, and less judgment. Here’s what I found:

Ice Cream Magical Properties:

Love, spirituality, various depending on what flavours you add

Ruling planet – Moon

Element – Water

Gender – Feminine

Vanilla Magical Properties:

Planetary Association: Venus

Gender: Feminine

Element: Water

Magickal Uses:   Calming, Consoling, soothing, vitalizes energy, promotes a happy and healthy environment, attracts good fortune, enhances mental stimulation, used in spells to enhance physical energy.

Ahh. That’s what I needed to hear, thank you.

So I went out and got myself some ice cream and set myself up with The Beastmaster. Its been a while since I’ve rewatched this flick, and just like the other zillion times it warmed my heart to see all the familiar characters again. Seeing them makes me feel cozy somehow, even though my first viewing of it was under less than cozy circumstances, an abusive home. But it still was my escape, and that’s what I was feeling as I sat, with this bowl of ice cream in my lap.

I ate it slowly, letting the silky frozenness melt slowly in my mouth from the spoon. I set aside the narrative in my head that feared the results of this: low blood sugar drops in the night, digestive discomfort, fullness extending into the forever. I just let myself enjoy it.

But it was a cold night, and although Dar and his tiger and pet ferrets warmed my heart, I was literally freezing inside as I ate it. Probably not wise. But as always, I pushed through the thoughts of whether or not my body was confusing me and accomplished my goal.

I did not wake with low blood sugar. But I did have some pretty intense fullness the whole next day. Illogical. I did not eat a whole pint. I ate a large scoop. Who has extended fullness for a whole day after doing this? I can already hear people wanting to give me opinions about it making sense, due to the dairy, sugar, etc of it. Who knows. It was an experiment and it was my task to do it and be with my inner child. To take notes. I probably won’t eat a whole large scoop again, but maybe a little, it was good for the first few bites :}

Part of my challenge was also to do some artwork around how it felt to eat this meal again. I’ve created a special Food Memories journal to do this art in, and it was pleasureable and freeing to draw the host of conflicting emotions, swear words and images that reflected this experience. I’m a little shy to post that image here, but maybe as I go along I will share more.

The next food memory of my challenge is a strange combo: a spoonful of coffeemate dry creamer (I used to love that stuff as a kid) followed by a cold can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew. Just writing these foods I reflect on how alone I was back then, getting whatever sustenance I could in a cold, heartless home. And how much processed foods fed me, comforted me.

So here I go for this week’s challenge. We’ll see how it feels, and depending on my tastebuds it may only be a bite or two!

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What’s Your First Food Memory?

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If I asked you to tell me your very first memory with food, how would you answer?

Mine would be:

I am on the couch with a big bowl of vanilla ice cream. For breakfast. It is probably Thrifty’s brand, definitely not organic or of other fru-fru typology. I am eating it in front of the television, and Beastmaster, the movie, is on. I am both savoring the deliciousness of the sweet treat, and am fully immersed in the fantastical quest of Dar and his furry familiars.

Ah the simplicity! I look back upon this time with nostalgia, when food was a neutral object in my life, how I delighted in it and followed internal cues.

I’ve recently felt drawn to start incorporating more of the foods I loved back then into my experience, to tap into that free-wheelin’ child. Her joy, and maybe her pain too. My recently released memoir, Food Memories, is full of these food experiences, and I thought it might be an interesting challenge to go through each memory one by one, eat the food and note how it makes me feel.

These experiments do hold the danger of approaching that scary feeling (for me) of fullness, which I’m also currently wanting to face again. In fact, the whole point of this blog (eat/free/even/if/it/hurts) was to journal my experiences in allowing myself to eat more freely even if it brought uncomfortable feelings forward. I am returning to that intention.

I hope you’ll join me in recounting these memories, and also hope you’ll re-visit and share some of your own food memories with me here too. Tonight I will pick up some vanilla ice cream and venture into the interweb to revive Beastmaster whilst consuming. We’ll see how it goes…wish me luck!

~Food Memories by Reagan Lakins is available on Amazon, and all major online booksellers. It is even available through a little bookshop in Texas…BookWoman…if you choose to support a smaller bookstore and some groovy gals :}

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Yearning For The Sun

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I wake up

And even though you are shining

Inside it is so very cold

So very dark

So very quiet

The hearthfire

Has burned down to embers

Only struggling glowlight

Remains

Unlike an external furnace

I am not equipped with instructions

Of how to revive you

Oh internal Sun

Where have you gone?

I yearn for your rays

Your red hot arms

Ankh extended throughout being

To revive me

Inspire me

Help me

Know who I am

And what I am here to do

Instead it is just this flickering

This flickering

Silence

Of question marks

Evanescence wandering

And perpetual grasping

Oh internal Sun

Would that you burn brightly

Within me

To know this

To give this

To serve from this

My deepest desire

Yearning

I both create space for hope

And wait without hope

That someday

I will feel you

Roaring brightly

Within

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Prompt: Praise

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What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about something in your life you are thankful for? Even if it is nothing, in honor of this no/thing, write a piece beginning with: “Praise….”

Here’s what came of mine…I’d love to hear yours :}

Praise

The struggle

The birth

The dark, dripping, cavernous tunnel.

Praise

These gifts

These todlings

Borne from mindform

Pierced through beyond.

Praise

The incubation

The quadruple

Of mindsprout

Germination

Forming.

Praise

The hecklers

The naysayers

Inside

And reflected

Initiating

To stand tall

In nothing.

Praise

The silence

The stillness

The driveway

Fire sanctuary

The boat

Holding

Against swirling, thrashing

Abyss.

Praise

Great Mystery

And cycles of despairing

At pace

And progress

Of Unfolding.

Praise be

These babies

Coming through

Coming to

Making way to do that which I do not know

Into the world.

Praise.

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Inanna, Part Four

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And suddenly

She is before me

I feel her palm rest on my heart

I feel her gently pry open my mouth

And place It inside

I feel droplets

Of cool, cool mist

Bathing my withered exterior

And I hear her

A breeze of word

Into my ear

Rise, rise

She says

And suddenly

I do.

Ascendant

I have seen the turning point

Glisten in her eye

Steam rises all

Around

Her smile

Trickster Creatrix

She hath steadied

Thy hand

Weilding

Life-sustaining

Bread

And reviving

Crystal

Waters

By my own hand

She has fed me

Risen from grave

Begging me, integral

To stand by Her side

Her determined staff

Points my way.

Light washes down

The distant beckoning staircase

She urges me forward

The gatekeepers await

I arise

I arise.

Against the weighted

Gravity of descent

I take back my body

I take back my sex

I take back my pleasure

I take back my Will

I take back my Heart

I take back my Voice

I take back my Vision

I take back my Connection

To the All

Standing tall

I take back my Connection

To the All

And carry these Dark Lessons

Into the Light

Gleaming

Star-crusted

Mirage

Reality

Above

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Inanna, Part Three

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Body, lifeless

Hollow

Carcass dripping

Yet still able to peel open weak eyelids

Through the sliver

I see

They’ve come

Attendants

Fly-like beings

And they’re with Her

She is wailing

She is raging

She is screaming

She is grieving

And they

Are with Her

Days and weeks and eons pass

Relentless

They hold

They hold

Until a most surprising

Teardrop struggles its way

From the lid of the queen

Rolling down her concavity

She wipes it away

Looking at this wetness with wonder

Confusion

Remembrance

Fire breathing

Bitter

Decimation

Her way

For so long

But they are with Her

And She has changed

Not fixed

But Alchemized

By holding

A new form appears

Glittering

Not Her yet of Her

Split selves

To reach above

To give them what they need

Even if it is my

Rotting corpse

Of which She has no use for

Any longer

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Inanna, Part Two

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At the final gate

Her cold glare

Sees right through

All the masks I play

Burns them away

I am Inanna

Left hanging

Dangling

By threads of myself

In Her presence.

I am Inanna

I’ve come through

Various forms of identity

Above

Being “someone”

Doing “something”

But nothing holds up to

Her glare.

In Her view

All is Void

All is Illusion

No-thing matters

Anything I build

If not real

She starves away.

I am Inanna

I think…

It’s been so long

I’ve been hanging here

Forgotten most

Of what came before

Where was I going?

Who and what do I love?

Hanging

I can feel the cold

Sharp hook

Piercing

Hanging

Frozen, it fills my stomach

Falsely

While she laughs

At my past attempts

To try to fix Her.

Ereshkigal

Void

Mother

Kali

Anorexia

She’s cruelly entertained

My Puppet Master

Bled out so much

No more tools to

Try

Forgotten is my mind

Hanging

Frozen

Amidst Her echoing laughter

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Inanna, Part One

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I am Inanna

And I feel Her

My Dark Sister

I hear Her

I cannot ignore Her

Writhing in pain and agony

Below

Pretending to occupy myself

With the bright and shiny

Above

She

Distracts

Me.

I am Inanna

And I hear Her

She pulls me

She calls me

I descend

Spiraling downward

Sometimes cycling daily

To visit

To visit.

I am Inanna

And I am dismembered

By Her

She

Pulls

Me

Down

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“If Only One Person Is Helped…”

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One of the major visions/goals that helped me write through, and edit through, and self-publish through the doubt, skepticism and fear of creating this book was the vision of at least one person being helped by it. I told myself that I was writing for that one person, and if it reached them, my reason for going through all of this mess was worth it.

Well here I am, on the other side of getting through the creation and birthing phases, and I gotta’ tell you it’s a weird feeling. To date, I have had at least three people write me and tell me how my book really helped them with their food and body issues (not including my editor, as synchronicity would have it!). And in the moment, the warm honey-like glow that came over me as I received their feedback felt like Yes. This is the reason I wrote this. My work has been done.

I received most of this feedback from women, but there was one man who responded and this was the one that took me. He spoke of his struggles and his healing path, how it mirrored a lot of mine, and how it was helpful to read someone else’s journey that wasn’t of the “perfect recovery in a box ilk.” And that also wasn’t like the typical female struggle, so that it was one he could relate to. This was my biggest hope, not that my book would provide “linear steps to freedom,” but that my words would be read, my cyclic journey with healing felt, and that this would resonate and give hope to the less linear journeyers out there. Regardless of gender. So yes, this reflected a dream, a hope, accomplished, and my gratitude for this healing effect on others was sated. Temporarily.

It’s now been almost a month since the release of Food Memories and all the flurry of facing my fears of what would happen if my story went public, of the release party and appreciations, of these dear people who bought and reviewed and wrote to me and told me of the impact of the book on their life. It’s been almost a month and at this point, it is very, very quiet.

No sales. No new reviews. No more feedback.

I knew this might happen. I allowed, of course, for the shiny possibility of the book finding its way to people’s hands and building an organic, magical following without my effort. That was another dream–that if this book (and my friggin’ private insides) needed to be seen by more people, it would happen in this way. I had no interest in forcing that, through marketing, etc then, and I still have no interest in doing this. But now, as I suspected might occur without my direct involvement, I am in the dead zone, or at least seemingly so.

I have done some work to move the book into the world, in ways that don’t just blurt out and splay said insides to as many people as possible. I’ve mailed it to several healers, therapists and experts in the field. I even mailed it to a father of a young woman who is struggling with severe Anorexia, to help him with perspective and to offer my time as a guide if needed. This all felt good to do, putting copies of Food Memories in the mail to do its work in the world. But now, after some weeks, there is just this silence. Who knows how my story is working its ways with these people, or whether they’ve the chance to read it in the craziness that is our world predicament these days.

In this silence, I am left to wonder what I am to do next, and whether I should force the publicity of this book or wait for it to simmer. I wonder what the most aligned thing is to do. I am terrified, still, of having masses of people know my story, but am willing if it is the best for all concerned. I am not really concerned with the sales for money sake, more just wanting to see the book–and all I was “guided” to put into it–out and fulfilling its purpose. I fear it will just die if I don’t feed it in some way. But how? What is truly authentic for me to do?

I plan to follow up with these people I’ve sent the book to. I wish I didn’t have to, that the book would have affected them so that they would feel compelled to contact me. That something bigger than myself would move this into larger fields. That something bigger than my own need for feedback would take place. To prove it was worth it. But that’s not how it’s panning out, and I’m making this mean that there is still some part I have to play in bringing the book to more people. Maybe it is part of my life-game, to explore polarities further from silence and humility. Who knows.

All this silence has put me back in touch with that expansive, universe-wide space of void that I feel inside regarding my purpose here on this planet. Without the momentum and hopes of writing the book, without the way the initial feedback felt, and without the clear desire to market it like mad, I am left here to wonder what I’m really doing here, what I really wrote that book for, whether there was guidance in all of that or just some fantasy crafted life meaning I whipped up to quell the existential angst inside.

Don’t know. But what I do know (and am hanging onto with dear life so I don’t slide down that precarious dark slope) is that the goal, the vision, the dream that kept me going in writing Food Memories came true. A major life goal…and fear…was accomplished. And that one person, to my astonishment, was helped by the words I bared on the page.

Blessed, blessed be.

~Food Memories by Reagan Lakins, is available in all online bookstores. If you want to support a small bookstore, you can purchase it through Bookwoman at: https://www.ebookwoman.com or request it through your local bookstore. If you feel moved to purchase and read my story, thank you! I would love to know how and if it affected you :}

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Left Out

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Left out

In the night

Bustling joy, support and merriment

Inside a great glowing hall

But I, hobbling and cold

Am left out

In the night.

Do I

Do I keep myself here?

Beneath

Apart

From these gleaming jewel tones

Begging, wandering

Is it just as easy to open the door

To the warm, warm temple

And walk in

As if I belong?

Somehow

I’ve found it more hollow

To be with them

Than out here

In this cold,

Starving.

Somehow

I listen for angels

For creatures other than human

Out here

And although they’re often silent

The hope of their comfort

Evanescent tendrils of connection

And macrocosmic holding

Feels more real

Than anything humans can offer

Something pulls me

To travel on these barren roads

Looking for the sacred

Un-covering

Dis-covering

Instead of reveling in warm hovels

Re-covering and cheering platitudes

Something calls me

To make my nests in cold mountains

Far from glowing taverns

Out here

Left out…

Or welcomed in

To a wider feathered bosom?

I question my alliances

And hope these silent guides

Lead me on a true path

That I might help

Others I meet

Left out

In this same cold, cold night

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A Hunger For Purpose…A Purpose Beyond Hunger

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of the universe. The state of our species and the species we live amongst. Whether the Earth is in danger or just waiting to flick us off like fleas. Whether there’s really anything we can do about that, this, anything.

I’ve always had a pretty intense existential streak, and while there is a percentage of me that plays pollyanna optimistica, it is this part that often takes up most space on the stage. The other day I found a journal entry during a low point of my struggles with food, and it rung with this existential, purposeless tone. After reading it, I honored that it is of course my own struggle, but found myself wondering if what I am feeling with food is indicative of the soul loss of many of my species. And whether those who struggle with food issues, in emergency ways, are canaries in the coal mine rather than disordered weirdos. There again is my pollyanna optimist.

“February 17.

I am full. I hate this feeling. Fullness. Why? Most people want to feel this, but me? I hate it. Because it means I don’t HAVE to eat, that I have to wait for a long time to feel hungry again. It means I don’t get to eat for a while and if I don’t HAVE to eat, if it isn’t the most necessary thing…what else do I do with myself? Everything revolves around controlling my food so I can eat as often as possible with the least discomfort of this fullness. Moderating everything so I am hovering around emptiness. Everything. What the hell would I do with myself if I wasn’t so focused on this? It really is a question.

It is why the vision quest was a good practice, and a terrifying one, for me. Ironic! For a restrictor! Being with myself for a day without the focus of food, oh the incredible grief that comes! Sitting in the vast desert, wishing and wanting to be inspired by something else but only finding silence and sadness. Grief. Wishing for a vision to come, but…nothing. Feeling abandoned by my own soul. And the same silence, this sense of purposelessness when I’ve been in treatment, sitting with my feelings of fullness, waiting for something else to inspire me, to take my mind off of this hounding obsession, a bigger purpose. I’ve put myself through treatment over and over again to find that, and all I’ve found is nothing. Whether hungry, or full, there’s just this vast empty desert of purposelessness.

At least when I’m hungry, I know I need to eat. I know I need to go get food for myself. So I keep myself as near to that as possible.

Some people I know only eat once or twice a day and that’s also amazing to me…what do they do with the rest of the day without food breaks to bring purpose to their the day? I can’t really imagine. It is so important to me. And I’ve MADE it important…like emergency important. It’s my “issue” so I have to eat, or I have hypoglycemia so I have to eat little bits every few hours for my blood sugar, etc…but is that true? Are these all just elaborate stories to make eating more important than it really needs to be?

I often wonder what it would be like to just eat and move on. Move on to something I am more passionate about, something I enjoy more than eating. I wish I had that. But nothing compares to the comfort I get from eating. Nothing. Is that ok? Is it just my passion, food? And if so, how can I make that a fun thing rather than a tragic thing? Where I’m like Pippin enjoying his Elevenses? Or the kitchen witch?


I love food so much. It is kind of ironic that I struggle with restriction when this is the fact, but here’s why: restriction makes it okay to eat. Restriction makes it NECESSARY to eat. Do you understand?

Somewhere I got the programming that it is not okay to just want to eat all the time for the joy of it, beyond what I need for survival, but if I am restricting then eating is necessary, important, urgent. There’s something too about feeling an undeniable signal from my body, undeniable direction, that I treasure. Nowhere else do I feel this clarity from my body in what to do with myself. When I am hungry though, when I am starving, I know exactly what to do, the most important thing to do to survive. 


What life would be like if I had an internal guidance system that told me exactly what it wanted in other areas, too. If I had inner direction that was so strong to focus me on tasks, I wonder if my need to have hunger as my direction would fade? Hunger is really the only clear conversation I seem to have from my body…where I know what it wants, where I know how to decipher its messages. Otherwise, I’ve not a clue what my body/soul is communicating to me most of the time, what it really wants and needs or what it wants me to do with my life, in this big, overwhelming world. Everything, besides the clarity of hunger, is so cloudy, murky. 

And there is of course the shame of making this my purpose, when so many people don’t even have enough to eat. Layer on some of that and it is a wonderful soup to be swimming in. But I cannot pretend it isn’t true for me. It is blatantly and embarrassingly clear.


I hope someday I find some other purpose. For now it is the reason I have for getting up in the morning, what makes going through my days tolerable. To have to create hunger to have to feed myself. And as someone who has walked the line of death in that struggle, it is always somewhat of a dramatic issue. My own little dramatic issue. Or is it ours? Yours?

The ironic truth is that as a restrictor and controller of food, I definitely live to eat. Do you understand? It is astounding to me, the energy spent in this, and the paradox. And that there seems to be nothing else. Maybe someday I will find out how to eat to live, a purpose beyond hunger.”

*I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I am not looking for advice or sympathy, more for a dialogue about the parallels to soullessness in our society and what we do to feel any sort of purpose within it. The extremes we go to to find something, to feel something, to be involved in something important. Do you understand?

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The Door of Water

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I am standing at

The Door of Water

I know it is mine to walk through

Amongst the Fire and Wind

Even the secret door doesn’t call me

When usually it pulls me relentless.

My hand, here, touches the cold brass curves

The handle pushes, creaks, unlocks

The heavy wood swings open

And I

Am immersed in it

The aftermath of the Dream Tsunami

He is here, floating…but he just floats by.

I can somehow breathe down here

And there is a certain peace

In the muffled bubbling of this liquid world.

I’m swimming, gliding through this

Lusciousness, after so many years of avoiding

And all around I see floating

Remnants of things that held me down

Floating. Floating.

Things that taught me

Things that tethered me

Things that took up so much space there was no room.

Now, they’re floating.

Floating.

Floating by.

Like him.

Just floating by

Into the great, blue distance.

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Knight of Wands

For lack of an idea of what to share with you in my weekly post, my tarot deck wanted to help :} The card that came forward to share about was Knight of Wands. Let us unfold this card to see what its teaching is for me…and perhaps you…today.

In this card, we have an armored Knight on their steed, passionately galloping into an unknown future. S/he carries a flaming wand aloft and into this, determined and confident, ready for anything.

S/he often carries the energy of impulsiveness, s/he is often one who will take action for the sake of taking action, not necessarily because it is what is truly aligned to take. Bored and frustrated with the current situation, the Knight of Wands will travel, move, start a relationship, do something drastic just to get the energies moving. Sometimes this is wise, often it is not. The Knight has much valuable energy but needs to find ways to balance this drive with listening, patience, grounding. To make sure their energy is not wasted, or to prevent a decision from being made that is unwise and cannot be undone.

At this time, I can relate wholeheartedly with this card. Inside, I have a Knight of Wands raring to go…to make some sort of major change. It’s not enough that there is so much upheaval in the world today, strangely. There is this part in me that feels the need for change and wants it NOW.

Like the Knight of Wands, I am feeling the need to move, shift, burst forward out of the monotony. I have several offers of places to move, even though where I am isn’t the most ideal but it’s not all bad. Struggling whether just because these offers have come really means it is time for me to move. There are many things in my life at this time that feel stagnant…and I am raring to just change SOMETHING. It does seem like it would feel good, to just do something to shift this sense of urgency inside.

Yet I know enough about my sensitivity to get that perhaps I am feeling the collective—pissed, frustrated and raring for action in a new direction than the stagnant one it has been in. Perhaps it has nothing to do with me, and so me taking it personally and making some drastic move or job change wouldn’t be wise at this time. This is where listening, patience and breath come in handy.

What about you? Can you relate with this figure? Are you feeling frustrated and making rash plans to change things, anything, to just be out of stagnancy? Is it a wise, grounded decision? How do you know? Are you breathing, listening and balancing your passionate fire and desire for change?

I’d love to hear :}

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Soul Endeavors

Have you heard this one before? Has it been a way to help you navigate your life direction? I’d love to hear, both what your childhood joys were as well as if you followed them into your life’s work.

I can share that ever since I found out that college + degree + well paying job does not = happiness, my aim has been in exploring this concept to find a more fulfilling way to earn income and invest my energy. I have followed pretty much all of my childhood joys:

*playing music (with cardboard cutout instruments and gogo boots!)—>being in a band, recording an album

*working with animals—>becoming a recreational therapist specializing in animal assisted therapy

*playing in the forest—>taking people on medicine walks, teaching about/working in herbalism

*watching horror movies and novels—>working with Metallica’s Kirk Hammett at his Fearfestevil Festival (this was SO great :})

*watching witchy and fantastical movies—>working at fantasy fairs and festivals, working for priestess/witchcraft organizations

*building forts and rehabbing abandoned houses—>building my own caravan trailer and helping to rebuild hostels and retreat centers

*eating yummy food—>traveling and working in kitchens with amazing and magickal chefs

All of these things I have explored fervently, they were often the only compass point in my times of darkness. In these times all I could do was to ask myself which childhood joy I hadn’t explored and to make it my goal to experiment with that. And woo, have I learned a lot, grown a lot, from that process! My inner kid certainly appreciates it.

But now, I am kind of at the end of the line, having tried and exhausted all of these things and wondering…now what? After one has done this exploration, what then? I incorporate a lot of these activities in my hobbies and free time, yet I yearn for a career that satisfies my deeper soul. That includes these passions in ways I haven’t imagined, or better yet, that involves something I don’t even know about yet.

After the publishing of my memoir, Food Memories, I started to wonder more about this, about stepping more fully into the world with my soul work. In the book I discuss my thoughts about living with a restrictive eating disorder, about my struggles with the concept of linear recovery, about the hope and despair I have gone back and forth with when trying to live up to the mental health system’s definition of “full recovery.” I started to wonder if my particular struggle was my unique gift to offer others–to provide a place to be “imperfect” in the recovery world and still acknowledge and work on healing within oneself. A place to honor the darkness rather than diagnose it, and to see what occurs in this cauldron of holding.

But it terrifies me that this is an irresponsible offering. It terrifies me that I will keep people from fully healing by encouraging the exploration of this perspective. It still terrifies me that I will hurt rather than heal.

I think this is my ego talking, and I am thankful for its wariness. But I also feel it is holding me back from my next leg of offering what my soul truly wants to offer in the world. I have spent many years in the dark shadows of what the mental health system deems as “healthy,” having to wake myself over and over again to the possibility that I am under some sort of unhelpful spell that disempowers me. That the terror of claiming my imperfection is healing too, and that it is actually the exact task for my growth and service to others. This is what I attempted to do with my book.

Yet now, as I contemplate how to work in the world, I find myself interacting with old systems, creating resumes to try to seem appealing to them, and it is challenging me to my very core. Do I really believe in the health of my imperfection? In the ability I may have to help others with my experience? In the face of the typical requirements for these treatment facility jobs, I find myself wondering if working for the traditional systems is really not in my best interest. That instead, I am to incorporate my childhood joys, and my life lessons into a coaching based offering to others. To work for myself…in service to others? Terrifying.

I am exploring both routes. To give respect to that little inner child who is waiting for me to create a more aligned life for us, as well as to give respect to that part of me that kind of wants to charge into the traditional systems and shift them from the inside. My inner child isn’t really into doing the latter, so perhaps that’s a sign. And who knows, I may find out that the System has changed and working within it will teach me in powerful and fulfilling ways.

As always, my agnostic fence sitting is helping me explore them both with equal curiosity. And some frustration and a whole host of other uncomfortable emotions, honestly. But hey, I’ve been gifted this life, and somehow have landed in a body and climate where I have so much to be thankful for. So I’m using it as best I can, and I hope both me and my inner girl can find a way to rock it together.

Tell me, how about you?

~Food Memories, by Reagan J Lakins (ISBN-10 : 1689839074), is now available through Amazon and all major booksellers. To my surprise, you can even order it from a little bookshop called BookWoman in Texas and they get some of the proceeds to stay functional during the pandemic!

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Eight of Fire-Really?

Today I sat down at the computer, wondering what to write and quite frankly wondering what to do with my life. Yes, one of those days. Since the release of Food Memories, I’ve been half waiting for magickal things to happen, and half trying to detach from outcome. I’ve been feeling a soul pull to “change in big ways” but as for any direction or vision, it’s just crickets.

So as usual I am balancing the tension of the opposites–between naive hope and bitter despair. It’s usually from this place that I reach for divination. Could the tarot have anything to share with me about this quiet aftermath?

Today I received Eight of Fire/Wands.

As is often the case, I snort “Really??” at the cards. This is usually followed by, “What the hell is THAT supposed to mean??” I get frustrated, and distrusting. But then, Something tells me to chill.

I wait. I look. I write. I listen.

Sitting here, trying to understand. This card usually represents fast moving matters, sometimes air travel, but always a sense of things galloping forward without obstacle. The exact OPPOSITE of what I feel right now in my life. Again I ask, “What could this possibly have to say about my situation?”

Silence. For a moment. I breathe. And then I hear, “Things change instantly. You know this. One moment you are sitting on the curb daydreaming, and the next moment you are swept up by a life-changing event. Remember? How many times this has happened to you? This is the energy of this card, and the possible way that things will unfold very shortly. It is not a card suggesting you to wait for incoming rapid movement, but to snap out of your lamenting that things will never change. Shortly they will…prepare for it. It may look calm, silent, stagnant now…but this will not last for long. Be prepared.”

Hmm. This message feels wise to me. As I have a skeptic-in-residence in my head, I will never put all of my eggs in the tarot advice basket, but it does help to hear some sort of advice within, instead of just silence.

To prepare. Okay. Preparing has been something I’ve felt called to do lately–work on my resume, pack most of my belongings to be ready to move. Everything seems to be wanting to change, and the only thing I can do is prepare. Now I see how I have been stuck in the place of lostness, instead of trusting in the ever-changing nature of life. Things always change. And often it is clear what to do when that time comes. I am grateful for the moments of pause I am being given before the rapid shift comes. To prepare.

I look back at this card and I can’t help think of the recent fires sparked by lightning all across California. In an instant, things changed, lived changed, some lives lost. I think of the silence and stillness that those who are disrupted might be wishing for right now. And how, if they’d known what was coming, could have used the time to prepare.

So I shift from frustration, to gratitude. Gratitude for this notice, gratitude for this time to get ready. Even if the cards aren’t predicting anything, I know that life can change in an instant.

Understanding, I prepare. For the Eight of Fire, swift movement…for the ever changing nature of life. Thank you.

~The image above is sourced from Tarot of The Spirit, by Joyce and Pamela Eakins.

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Darkness

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let the darkness eat your eyes

it will give them back to you

and you will know

compassion

Let the darkness

tear open your form

release your

glowing innards

Let the darkness

leave you still

on the cold, cold earth

watch it play

as you stand witness

your eyes, its form

Let the darkness heal you

stitch you back together

fill your occiputs

nuzzle your cheek

This friend

it teaches

it heals

it terrifies

it waits

Let the darkness eat your eyes

it will give them back to you

and you will

Know

~This poem was recently published in a women’s literary anthology! If you’re interested in all of the other amazing reflections on this timely structure, check out Death: Deep Reflections from The Sisters of The Holy Pen, ed. Pamela Eakins at:

https://www.amazon.com/Death-Deep-Reflections-Sisters-Holy/dp/B08GVJLKZN/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=death+eakins&qid=1599943100&s=books&sr=1-1

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After

Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

You know how weird it feels to wake up on the day of your birthday and feel like nothing is really drastically different, despite the utter impossibility of the new number you now inhabit? That’s how I’ve been feeling this past week, not because it was my day of birth, but because it’s the “after” of choosing to press publish.

As mentioned last week, it was unexpectedly quiet after doing so, aside from my internal revelations. And this past week has been similarly quiet, a few emails from friends and colleagues cheering me on for my accomplishment were all that seemed different than my pre-published state.

My original plan was to let this book float out into the universe and to see what happened, without engaging in the weirdness that is marketing. And I’ve kept to that, aside from alerting chosen friends and those involved along the way (including you :}) with the completion of the goal.

In the relative silence of this choice, I started to wonder about that plan, whether I should be doing more to encourage my book’s success in the world. Again I picked up sassy marketing books, contemplated entering contests, sharing about the publication with social media. Again I balked. Something, at least right now, doesn’t feel right about it. All the advice screamed, “Get on it now, or your book will go unnoticed! Pre-launch and post-launch are perfect times to run a book giveaway!”

Ugh.

Yet with these suggestions ringing in my mind, all I could envision was my book as a very small baby, and what it might feel like to be marketed and sold to the world, social media, etc. And of course this made my skin crawl…an obvious reaction with that re-frame. I also thought of my new-born vulnerability and how crazy it still feels to have my soul out there to be read by anyone. Do I want to gather millions to ogle at that? Um..no. I for one don’t even want most people to know I’ve had the baby! Do many new parents face this conflict?

Herein lies the strange and complex journey of following the soul’s guidance to do something scary, sometimes kicking and screaming whilst doing so. Whereas what a writer should want is many readers, I am the opposite, at least in having the desire to find them. I am open and willing to be seen by those who somehow find the book, but to call attention to it en masse does not feel right. Am I making a mistake, letting my book die on the vine? Who knows. All I know is I feel like puking every time I look at marketing material.

I’ve been going through pictures from my mother’s recent passing, and in them I found one of me as a child on stage with my mother. I’m in a blue and white polka dotted bathing suit, and there’s a sign behind us, “Tri-county Beauty Contest.” I’m probably about four years old. She has a marvelous bouffant hair-do and is dressed to the nines. It brought me pause to think that she did that, enrolled her four year old in a beauty contest, but the age span made me think. Perhaps it will be when my babe is four years old that I will feel ready to bring her on stage to the wider audience. Who knows?

For now, I’m letting it be. I’m enjoying the silence, although a little uncomfortable I’m doing it “wrong.” I’m gazing at my babe poised on my ancestor altar, amazed by it. I’m waiting. I’m asking for its journey to unfold for the greatest alignment of all concerned. I’m holding it, and my vulnerable self, like a baby not yet ready to face the screaming, blaring, honking, critiquing world all at once.

This blog seems to be a safe place to show her off, in a non-smarmy way. To share about the process of her in-utero growth, the ups and downs, and finally her birth. I’m so grateful for that, for you who make it here to read. Thanks for being the small community that I can share her with.

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It Lives…Food Memories Is Published! Boom!

Well folks, I did it. I still can’t believe that I did it, but I did.

I pressed PUBLISH, and watched as a link to my author page manifested before my eyes.

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B08HSLZ1TD

Some part of me thought mountains would shake, arrows would fly towards me, or some other crazy result would occur from doing such a thing. But that Wednesday morning after pressing the button, things were pretty quiet ((aside from the entire West Coast burning around me–prayers all around)).

What did occur was a series of internal earthquakes. The first rippled through as I stepped out of the shower post-publish. I suddenly realized:

I just completed a major life goal. Something I committed to doing before I die.

Waves of pride, and amazement, flowed through me. And then, a powerful surge of wanting to volunteer somewhere! I was a bit puzzled by this reaction, but then thought how it made sense. I’ve been spending the last however many years plotting, crafting, writing, anti-socializing, editing, etc to get this task done, and now there was a well of energy being released for a new use. So I’m working on that.

The next boom that happened was the realization that I had taken a step to finally become visible. My words, my story, the fact that I struggle with eating and body issues, my ideas (and I’d like to think teachings) about all of that–these are all now able to be seen by the public eye. For so many years I have kept these things hidden from everyone save for a few trusted souls. Now for all to see? How terrifying…and exciting. A few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to hold this possibility. A few years ago I was still in too much of a Hermit mode, alchemizing. But now, it feels right.

The last boom (at least for now) was an image of my ideal reader, in my mind. I had to draw her, and I do hope she is out there reading somewhere, being comforted by my words. Here she is :}

If you are her or know someone like her please do check out/share my book page with her…I want this book to find her! Again the link is: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B08HSLZ1TD

As always, I am ever so grateful for your time and attention. Hope all is well with you out there in these crazy, crazy times.

Love and booms~raVen

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The Final Proof Reveal…Food Memories!!!

Hello amazing people. I hope this reaches you and your loved ones in a well place…so much going on these days. I send my love out to you.

I am so grateful to have this outlet to share this process. Thanks for tuning in with me. Especially anyone who has followed my journey from the beginning, to finally seeing this completion.

So. I finally received my proof copy in the mail. I waited two days to open it, nervous. Nervous it would look bad again, requiring another round of fluffing. Nervous it would look good, requiring me to finally push the publish button. Despite my quaking, this morning I drew a tarot card and decided to dive in. Here’s what happened.

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Nine of Pentacles and the waiting package

The first card I draw is the Nine of Pentacles. A lovely lady in her fruitful, peaceful and protected garden. She is admiring the completion of a physical creation. This gives me solace as my hands shake whilst ripping the package open. I certainly want to have the calm, full of gratitude kind of aura this lady has, but all I am is nervous! My breath shallow, I slowly lift the copy out of it’s package…would this copy be the one that urges me to finally release it into the world?

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The front of the final proof, and Tower/Fire cards…yow!

The first view is of the front cover. I chose to change the arrangement of the picture and title so I could use a different template for the back cover. It isn’t the most amazing arrangement, but it ain’t half bad. I kind of like it, actually. I also chose to switch to a glossy finish, which looks classy too. I’m kind of feeling more like that lady in the garden now. I flip through the inside, I really like the look of the formatting. I really like it. I feel…gulp…it is time to decide to be done. To press print.

I am drawn to choose two more cards now that the worst part is over…ones that exemplify my next step with the book. I choose the Tower and the Knight of Wands. Double gulp!

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The back cover and looming presence of the initiation cards

Satisfied with the front and inner matter, though a little nervous about the nature of these cards, I turn the book over to inspect the back. I like this view a lot. I included a picture and a little bio here and it looks nicely spaced out. Triple gulp…I think it really is ready.

But what of the cards? The Tower, showing a lightning bolt decimating a structure, ablaze and people jumping out of it, is not exactly the warm and fuzzy nature of the Nine of Pentacles above. A peaceful garden it is not. And the Brother of Fire, he’s also not just sitting around being grateful. He’s moving quickly, aiming towards his goal with passion and determination.

What this means to me is that in the course of just a few minutes–before opening the package to now holding the final proof in my hands and writing about it–I have gone from a safe, contemplative place to one of readiness for a powerfully transformative stage in my creative process. One that requires strong and determined action on my part. One that requires the risking of heading into major foundation shaking. Often the Tower card might indicate to not do a thing, but coupled with the Brother of Fire, it feels like it is saying, “Yes this will totally rearrange you, to hit publish and release this into the world…but you must! You must! We must! Let us ride into the fire and be transformed!”

I think I just might be crazy enough to follow that guidance. By the next time I blog, I very well may have pressed “Publish” and have Towerish experiences to report to you. For now, I am sharing these images with you, shaking in my boots but also feeling the Brother of Fire within me. I do believe I am about to ride into the Fire.

*Nine of Pentacles from the Golden Universal Tarot by Roberto De Angelis; Tower and Brother of Fire from the Tarot of The Spirit by Pamela Eakins.

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An Ode to Serena Toxicat

With the world in flames–virally, socio-politically and literally–I have forgotten to mention a most powerful occurrence that has happened in my world. The passing, and honoring of, dear Serena Toxicat.

Serena passed in late July and an online memorial was created by her community, led primarily by Sumiko Saulson. It was this event that I want to write about, although there are many things I could say about dear Serena.

I knew Serena through a mutual connection with Isis Oasis and the Fellowship of Isis, both of us having ordained through the organization for Priestesshood. As it is a large, world-wide group, even though I was connected in this way, I rarely came into contact with Serena. On occasion I was able to witness her performances as a musician at the Fellowship Grand Temple. What I remember about Serena was her absolute uniqueness, her dedication to working with cats, and her creativity. Yet I have to also say that one of the things that most struck me was her appearance and energetic vibration. Although (at least not in the performances I witnessed at the time) she did not mention it, I knew that in some way Serena had walked with the struggle of Anorexia. I had no idea whether she was currently struggling, or had “overcome” this when I witnessed her performances. I just knew that somehow she had also been initiated through these struggles in her life. And of course I dare not ask her, as “Hey so have you, or do you currently struggle with, Anorexia?” isn’t the most becoming way to create connection. Especially with someone with Anorexia. At least that’s from my personal experience.

Anyway. At this memorial, not only did I witness the confirmation that this was indeed one of her struggles, but that she also wrote and shared publicly about her struggles with her community. I had seen some of her writings on her struggles with depression in general, but this was the first I had heard of this…that this struggle was much more widely shared and known about. That she did public readings of her writings about it, that she had book launches widely advertised, that many in her circles knew about this that she struggled with.

This is what struck me so profoundly, on this day of her memorial. As a fringe member of this community I watched as friend after friend talked about Serena and the effect she had on them. Of her graciousness, of her creativity, of her spicyness, of her mystery. But they also spoke of how authentic she was, in the sharing her struggles, and how much that affected them just as deeply.

As I am on the edge of readying myself to release my own memoir about my struggles with restrictive eating challenges, bracing myself for what may come of my revealing this publicly to the world, the witnessing of this honor to Serena took my breath away. The sheer number of people that showed up to honor her, appreciate her, showed me something I had really needed to see: that I can share my own deep inner struggles with the world and still be connected to community. That my struggles might not ostracize me as much as I fear, but may actually bring me closer in contact with real relationship. That the sharing of my struggles, and my authenticity in doing so, might actually help others.

I saw this unfold before me in such beauty during her memorial. I was juggling my sadness with her passing, but also this overwhelming sense of inspiration I was receiving from her community’s honoring of her. It was almost as if Serena, from beyond our distant, earthly connection, was standing next to me as I listened.

“See here,” it was as if she said, pointing at the Zoom screen. “See how the sharing of your struggles can result in Love. Go forth, dear one, as I have, and see that you too can be held, and hold others, while being seen in your wholeness. Go forth. See here.”

I felt like on that day I received such an empowerment, that it is hard to explain, only through the possibility of her spirit infusing me. I am struggling with focusing my writing today on describing my experience instead of listing the ways she effected the world, using my words to honoring her. But it is this I wanted to share–her death, her memorial, her loving community–and how seeing this seemed to be encouraging me, supporting me, lifting me up as I quake in my boots envisioning disaster from releasing my story publicly.

I feel it is kind of morose, and hopefully not disrespectful, to share how someone’s eulogy has inspired me tremendously…but it is true. On that afternoon, and by the grace that is Zoom, I was surrounded by reflections of the community’s love for her. Whatever she considered her Priestess work in the world I don’t know for sure, but that day this was her Priestessing for me. Thank you, Serena. I will go forth.

Serena Toxicat left behind a large legacy of creative manifestation. “Her novels included Evangeline and the Drama Wheel, a cosmic sci-fantasy about a cat-human hybrid named Evangeline in a cybergoth band, and Ghosts in Bones, a touchingly candid fictionalized account of a woman who struggled with anorexia nervosa that often mirrored Serena’s battle with the disorder.  Her poetry chapbooks included, You Send Forth ConstellationsPaper Wings, and Consciousness Is a Catfish: stealthily grim, subtly spiritual poems. She had short stories in Wickedly Abled, Scry of Lust 1, and Scry of Lust 2.” (Sumiko Saulson, HorrorAddicts.net).

She was also a life coach, certified in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) and had a YouTube channel dedicated to her coaching tips, readings and strange and wonderful musical craftings. Find out more here if you are interested: https://www.youtube.com/c/SerenaToxicat/videos. Her books are available on Amazon.

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Embers

Photo by Adonyi Gu00e1bor on Pexels.com

Feathery wisps

Of dead ancients

Flutter before my eyes

Onto my hand one rests

And I say a prayer

For the forest that is no more.

Also congealed in these drifters

Young children’s toys

Beloved family photos

Perhaps the double ash of a loved one’s remains

Fluttering, all

Before my eyes

Holding the tears of many

My gut wrecked and aching

Forcing nutrients so I can survive

To hold you

Resting, these embers

Tens of thousands, in these little shards

Before my eyes

A great transmutation

Water tankers detonating

Helicopters whirring

Through the choking haze

I struggle to stand tall and nourished

As the world burns down around me

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The Final Edit, Beach Style

9am. Already 88 degrees outside.

I decide to drive south to hopefully reach cooler climes and a quiet beach nook to begin the task of facing my book one last time before its printing. Wind in hair, and sweat already forming on skin, I head down Highway 1 to the Monterey Bay.

First stop, ACME coffee in Seaside. I’d never been here, but at the suggestion of a good friend decided to try it out. It’s a hidden gem in an industrial area but it’s known for strong brews and I certainly need one for this task. I settled on the Mexican Mocha. Lovely.

Back in the car, and curving down the highway I reach Pacific Grove and Asilomar State Beach. It’s only 10:30 am and the sides of the road are already packed. I’m a bit bummed I’ll have to stay in my car to have any privacy. That is if I can find a parking spot.

I do, and decide to get out and take a look around. The 80 degree, slightly cooler breeze hits my face and I’m glad I made the trip. It’s not much but I hate the heat so it’ll do. I walk down the planked path to the edge of the sea, its rhythmic waves and seagulls honking in my ears.

I grew up on this coastline, and each time I make the drive down a certain familiar comfort comes over me. I have a few family members I visit here–although they are all dead. My trip usually includes the cemetery (a few streets down from here) and this oceanside where my mother’s ashes have been absorbed into the great liquid mystery.

Amazingly, when I look down from the plank path, there are only a few people here on this plot of sand. I am urged to hunt out the perfect spot for my morning, and perhaps afternoon, editing adventure. I find a nice little shady nook and set up my place, nestling my Mexican Mocha and water into the sand, extracting my proof copy, pen and notepad.

I lean into the nook’s sandy dune wall and look out to the sea. I take a deep breath in. Ahh. This scent, this view holds so much. As mentioned, it literally holds my mother, as well as memories of sitting on this white shore with my now dead boyfriend. It feels incredibly ironic and meaningful to be heading back into that story as I sit here on this same beach.

This coast. Beauty, interlaced with decades-old grief. Refreshing coolness, mixed with the dread of whether my book will be too horrid to put out. Or rather, whether the experience of others reading it will be. I face these fears every time I pick it up.

Not today. Today I commit to walk past those fears and to dive in. I begin.

Over the course of the next few hours, I am totally sucked into the story. I am laughing, I am crying. I am proud, I am nervous. I can’t believe I wrote this. The formatting looks more beauteous than it did a few days ago, and the story reaches me more emotionally than it has in a while. The pages seem to glisten, sparkle. I wonder if it is the Mexican Mocha, the level of caffeine running through my veins. It’s possible, yet I feel it may be more related to what has happened inside of me in my readiness to be seen as an author. To be able to stand in my story and share it with the world.

I hold this book in my hands and feel so grateful. I close my eyes and let the waves comfort, and remind me. I feel the sea breeze whisking across my shoulders, and wonder if my ancestors are here with me, supporting me, pointing me. I rise and make my way down to the lapping waves, letting them cool me. I lean against a crystal embedded tan boulder and look at the equally crystalline waters at my feet. I sink into memories, these memories, of mother and death and love and struggle. I cry again.

I look up and through the rocks in the near distance there is a family of Sealions basking in the unusually warm rays of the sun. One of them lifts its head up and peers at me. Again, I feel as if the more than human world is speaking to me, supporting me, seeing me, getting ready to finally do this.

I nod at the furry creature, he (?) seems to feel satisfied and lies his head back down. I turn from the sea and find my way back to my nook to carry on with the task at hand. I am filled with determination and confidence. I feel more ready than ever to move forward for whatever strange reason. I lean back against the dune wall and tip the edge of my sunhat to shield the now blaring sun. I take in another deep breath and dive back into the final pages of what will soon become.

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Almost, Almost There

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well folks, Food Memories arrived in the mail on Thursday.

I waited another few days to open it.

I was nervous. Nervous it would be ready, nervous it would not.

I finally decided to open it, and lifted it from the envelope to rest on my lap.

Thicker this time, from the formatting and added content, it was heavy, solid. Of that I am proud…I have written a real, materialized thing.

But that satisfaction was quickly distracted by the image, the cover image–the one I am using to sum up the story of my life. Staring at this image, it was pixilated, grainy. I felt my heart sink, and the inner voice of “Here we go again, another round…”

I could leave it be, call it “rebellious art.” I really do just want to be over with it! But there is something else inside of me that wants to push through and make it look exactly as I envision. It is not good enough for me to release to the world yet. I am good enough, that is not the issue here. It is a quality of creation I want to accomplish, and try as I may, I do not have the tech skills to pull it off on my own. Believe me I’ve tried. Researched and fumbled, but could not shift this image to clarity.

It is oddly ironic, how fuzzy I still feel about my identity on this planet, and the struggles I am having in making my cover image read clear. The level of frustration and anger I felt at not being able to accomplish this graphic imagery feat also feels directly related.

Anyhoo…now I am with that. Needing to ask for help, again, to do a cover overhaul. Needing to delay this process for a few more weeks…Harumph.

And that’s just how it looked on the outside. I peeled open the fresh pages to reveal to myself the Inside, and the formatting is pretty. The layout I am satisfied with. There are a few typos only a print proof could reveal, so it’s another on the list of what I need to get outside help for to fix as my formatter has my manuscript held captive in her InDesign program. Another place I feel I wish I didn’t need someone else but reality bites with my level of tech. Someday I hope that to not be true!

Flipping quickly through the book made me wonder if I dare actually read the entire book again to see if there are more typos and edits I want to do. Overwhelm and frustration whacked me as I thought about this. A part of me wanted to say “f*ck it!” and hit the publishing button. So DONE with this. But that other part, that determined part, is somehow stronger. It urged me to put the book down, to close the computer, and take a few days off of thinking about it…but to definitely go through it one more time. To definitely ask for help with the cover. Harumph!

So now I am with all of that. And I will side with this part that wants to persist…at least for one more print run. But if all doesn’t work out, I might just say “f*ck it!” and let the “rebellious imperfect art” thing a try.

Feeling all the feelings, and grateful for all I have at the same time. What a weird tension of opposites to hold, especially during these times.

Wish me luck :}

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Cover Draft Reveal…Food Memories!

Well folks, it’s almost time. My memoir, Food Memories, is about to be published. Yikes!

I finished the final formatting and updated the cover (this image is of the first draft, had to work on the drawing’s roughness) and have requested a proof copy. If it looks groovy I will be moving forward with publication. Soon.

I will say yikes again, I am terrified! I am a very private person and this revealing is crazy. Writing this blog has been great practice, thanks friends :}

But I am also very ready. It’s been over 4 years now (at least in the actual writing of it), this process simmering and writhing and pushing to emerge from me. I am glad to see myself seeing this through.

I have many hopes for this book, and what its publication may unleash…and yet I am trying to not be too attached as it is my first. Trying is the key word, how does one not have some expectations for something that’s been sweated and cried over for years? Trying.

The whole marketing thing zaps my brain into freeze mode, so we’ll see how that goes. For now, all I can say is look at my cover :}