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Do we give it all meaning?

Or is there a force, a face, that’s given us trials to grow?

To open, connect

Is it all random

These children born into war and poverty

Others delivered into wise and safe arms of love

Is it all random

Those faced with chronic pain and illness

While others rock and dance and laugh the night away


Is there reason?

To abuse

To murder

To suicide

To heart’s betrayal

To a body’s failure to thrive

To rape

To violence

To natural disasters, homelessness

To the soul’s 



Do I turn left or right

Into bitterness or compassion

Into despair or hope?

Do I ignore

The rage, resentment, the fear

Chanting myself numb

“It’s all good…there’s a reason…there’s a reason…”

Over and over again

As the ache, dull and deep 


As the room spins

Another day waking

To no further healing?

Do I trust

Or do I wail, sob, scream

Fist to floor, slobbering?

Do I spend my mysteriously appointed immobilizations

Dreaming of better days, pain free nights


Or do I collapse into the waves of terror

Fearing, fearing

There is no God

No meaning

That life, like Nature

Does not care who I am or what I’m here to do

Like the impala, ripped apart on the plains

Like the frozen carcass of blizzard’s wake

Like a coyote’s bleeding leg in trap

Never to walk again


Howling, whimpering, straining to reach

But unable

Hoping one from the pack will come

As the skies darken

As the snow begins to fall

Hoping for teeth to chew him out

Care for his irreversible limping

A lifetime ahead


Does the trickster ask

As his lifeforce leaks onto crystalline

Howling into the long, dark, cold and coming night

Is there Meaning?

Is there reason?

Is there a face

A force?

Is there


~writings from dark times

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.

Publishing, Marketing, Dating and All That Jazz

I’m overwhelmed. There is a certain similarity to the process of research and sales necessary to pitch my book to publishers that reminds me of the process of dating, which I am also overwhelmed by. Here I need to primp up my words, sourced from the depths of my soul cauldron, to make it look presentable enough, attractive enough, to be looked at and considered by companies with thousands of letters and requests to ruffle through each day. Hrumph. I don’t like doing this for dating purposes, and I’m certainly not enjoying it for publishing purposes either.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I am enjoying the research process–looking at comparative literature, seeing how they market their wares. In fact, the other day I found a group of researchers that wrote an article basically calling out for stories like mine, the need for a new paradigm of seeing illness and “recovery” from Anorexia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5116854/. I even surprisingly found my thoughts and experiences mirrored in a book I chose for this process, one I read many years ago and was unimpressed by then: Wasted by Marya Hornbacher. Although I still think the mass of the book is triggering and not related to my journey, the afterword completely mirrored my experience, of Marya’s challenges with the ideas of recovery, at least the linear expectations of it, especially in hindsight after years away from the intense periods of her struggle.

These boons are making the process worthwhile, and exciting in a way, that there may be less of a need for me to completely strip my deep soul message to get “picked up” by a publishing house. That there are others out there that are “credible” I can refer to as having similar messages. That perhaps I can find a balance in representing my work professionally but in a way that doesn’t lose its message…and that a house will actually value that message, not look past it or ask me to make it more mass market friendly.

Yet it still reeks of the social game of dating, of looking pretty for attention, and it feels so ironic that I would be drawn into this process in my search to get my memoir out. My memoir focuses on the difficulties of extreme alteration to accomplish culturally popular goals, acceptance, love. How do I make this effort not that, which it basically is? I’m trying to see this process as a refinement, a conscious and balanced use of self-esteem and soul image to engender a pathway to expression in the wider world. I’m trying to see it like jazz–keeping my scatting, but presenting it in a way that makes its way into fine dining establishments and infuses the listeners with its real, raw and yet undefinable message.

Like dating, jazz is a hard genre to describe, full of complexities. Like both of these, so is the process of trying to market my book. Its uncomfortable, thinking of words I’ll use to impress publishers and readers to consider my book. Yet I’m up for it, mainly because I wonder if this process is exactly what my soul wanted me to engage in as I took on the process of writing and releasing this book. I’ve got hopes that I might learn some things, be surprised by some things, maybe even encouraged and lifted up by the experience.

I still refuse to shave my legs for it though.