Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rogelia's House of Magic as a Play

Last semester, Gail Brower-Nedler, the drama teacher at Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach, CA, asked me if her class could workshop Rogelia's House of Magic into a play. I've always wanted to watch my characters come to life, to see them interact and witness the enfoldment of the story I created. I was excited for what would be the World Premier of Rogelia's House of Magic. The first thing we did was establish a common language with the students and a sense of familiarity with the world of magic that is second nature to me. Ms. Brower-Nedler invited the vice-principal to watch me do the ritual in case the prejudice and fear people have about magic rose its ugly head.

By the way, it can be easy for me to get frustrated or even offended by close-minded, unconscious people who think I could be “sucking the souls out of kids.” Particularly when my goal is to empower them. But then again, I’ve noticed that I haven’t stepped down or walked away in the eight years as a public Wiccan author. And I’ve realized that I like being on the cutting edge, educating and watching people wake up to the beauty and potentiality of the magic within.

On the day of the ritual, I signed in the office as usual, but this time I carried a large basket of items that symbolized the four directions and elements, like a candle, a shell, a crystal, and a feather. With these sacred items, I created an altar. Many of the kids were fascinated by the altar and came to touch and feel all the goodies. A few kids volunteered to stand with me and welcome each of the Four Directions. I knew I was in good company, when TK dropped to his knees like a true knight when we reached the north direction. I avoided trigger words like God or Goddess and still raised the energy and vibration in that classroom. The air buzzed with magic and I knew I had shown quite a few people about what magic can really be.
We decided to make this a "black box" production, meaning very little props. Hilary stepped up to be the student director. She cast the other kids and wrote a prologue of sorts that included the four directions that would introduce themselves, their corresponding element (air, fire, water, earth) and colors, and what qualities they share with humankind.

Over the next several weeks, I would visit the class and watch their progress with the play. The adaptation from book into script took longer than I thought and still we all stuck in there. The actors and Hilary did a great job reworking the language from the page to the stage. It was interesting to see where the dialog dragged when acted out and were it really popped and appeared so very real. Emily, the actress, who performed Fern’s role did an exceptional job of getting into character. It was really fun to watch her play out my hippie wild child self. I think once I almost cried. But that’s just me.

We also realized that we didn’t have enough time to rehearse the entire story and create costumes and set designs. June was upon us, as was the desire for summer and lazy days. So Hilary and I decided to create what would be Act One, approximately eight chapters, ending after the first meeting with Rogelia.

In the actual play, one of my favorite parts was the four students who dressed in the colors that coincided with each direction. One girl, who at first didn’t really seem to be into the play at all, insisted she was standing in the wrong direction. She was right and so we made sure everyone moved into their proper positions. That let me know that they really intended on drawing up the energy of those directions. Yeah! First Jeffrey stood up, draped in a yellow sheet holding flowers and spoke of the powers of the east that represent beginnings, the season of Spring, and new ideas. Then Samantha stood and called in the fire and the south, wearing a beautiful red velvet cloak with red feathers in her hair. Rebecca in the West wore a blue broom skirt like a shawl and with her blue hat and scarf called in Winter aspects of this direction. Anna in the North knew how to call on the ancestors and I felt the earth elements respond to her welcoming chant.

Other actors included Carla (Marina), TJ (Xochitl), Jessica (Rogelia) Sean (Tristan,) Allyson (Mrs. Peralta), Milena (Graciela), TK (Pedro, who was Pilar in the book), Matt and Danny played random boys created to add more boys characters, and Otto (Mr. Garcia). Becky was our Spanish language consultant. Filming was done by Sergio and TK with some assistance from John and Alex. During the filming, there were some starts and stops to get the scenes just right. Some confusion, some frustration, a lot of amazing talent and wonderful acting. Overall, I’m excited to see how the video comes out when it’s been edited. Look for it on YouTube coming soon! I’m looking forward to workshopping Act Two and Three and someday seeing the entire play from start to finish. I couldn’t have got a better start by working with Gail, Hilary, Emily, TK and the rest!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Automatic Writing

Most of my writing is automatic writing. To me that’s what journaling is about. Even when I’m writing for a book (with the exception of the Latino Writers and Journalist book, which wrung out my brain like a wet broom skirt), I write without thinking too much. I set a goal then I write under that topic. I was recently told that it would be good for me to write out all the things that are frustrating and annoying me. I was not to check for punctuation or spelling. Fine. I could handle that - don’t really care for grammar and I’m usually a good speller. I was not to edit. Even better, not fond of critiques lately. I would then destroy the paper, tear it, burn it.

Been then done that, have the t-shirt. I can’t count how many bowl burnings I’ve done under the full moon, new moon, eclipsed moon, whatever. I didn’t really see how this was going to help some of the anxiety I was feeling. This process hadn’t ever done me that much good before. Though I heard it would, which is why I have tried it many times and even suggest it to others. It had usually served the purpose of making clear what I was irritated about, but beyond that, I only felt the slimmest change in attitude, sometimes I’d be angrier than before. Then my friend Dana pointed out that I was also not to reread what I wrote.

Huh? I always reread my angry letters (the ones that I write to people but don’t send out) or diary entries in which I explicitly review all the reasons I’m right and they’re wrong or how I’ve been treated unfairly by life or another person. “No,” she said. “When you reread the letter, it’s like you’re taking all that information back in to your body, mind, and soul.” I got the image of eating vomit, because pretty much that’s what it’s like. Oh. Well, maybe I’ll try that. Not reading that is.

Later that night my boys wanted to light a fire and sit by it and read. After they went to bed, the fire refused to go out, even after I turned down the gas. Then I remembered I was supposed to do my automatic writing. I turned off the lights, which made it seem more magical and wrote by the light of the fire. It was weird not reading what I wrote. I usually want to make sure I got those feelings down just right. I realized that whereas I might not be critiquing the grammar I had, in the past, critiqued the content.

At first I tried to make sure I was writing within the lines of my paper. Then the fire dimmed and I could no longer see the lines or the words. I wasn’t supposed to read it at all - to not even be tempted. I kept writing, over what I had written, under it, in the margins, diagonally, it didn’t matter. I repeated sentences that had a lot of power and set off all kinds of buttons and reactions within me. I wrote until I was empty. Then I crumpled up the piece of paper and threw it into the fire. As I watched the paper burn and shrivel, I very firmly said, “What will be no more.”

I can’t remember most of what I wrote, except for one powerful sentence; the rest is lost to oblivion. It is no longer part of me. I can’t regurgitate what I released. Later I’ll take those ashes and give them to my rose bushes. I like to see something ugly turn into something beautiful.

One of my favorite sayings comes from The Course in Miracles, "The holiest of all spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Natural Spellwork

"I believe in God only I spell it Nature"
- Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) architect, author, educator

The word "spell" has it's roots in the meaning to "speak" and "to signify." Spells in magick are the same. You are speaking of the things you want. We use rhyme to get out of our logical mind that says "it can't be done." Those of us who are deeply connected to the magic in nature, often find ourselves drawn to faeries, to the funky creatures living in forests, trees, streams, or underground. Hugging trees, believing with all my might that I was hugging the spirit that lived inside, is how I began my start in magick.

In summer, faeries are very active. Just look at the abundance and life buzzing around gardens and flowers and you'll see what I mean. Now, I want to get something straight here. There is no right way to "see the faeries." People connect with faeries differently. Some people see balls of light. Other people see the winged creature before them plain as day. Others see movement out of the corner of their eyes, but when they turn, the faeries vanish. Some people see the faery or sprite more clearly if they close their eyes. Some people see fuzzy wavy lines or something. And I'm sure there are a dozen other ways. Here are two interactions with faeries that I have had. My hope is that you will comes to understand the ways faeries have been trying to talk with you.

A long time ago I had these really cool bell chime that I used to ring and call out "Calling all Faeries! Calling All Faeries!" Then I would run around my lawn or visit with the flowers and tell them how pretty I thought they were or just sit peacefully and imagine the faeries all around me. I'm the kind that sees faeries out of the corner of my eye and I was impatient to see a solid faery. So, after awhile when nothing exciting happened I stopped visiting as often. Then one night, I was helping pretty bad about neglecting my little friends so I went out to ring the bells and call the faeries. "Please give me a sign to show me you aren't mad at me," I called out into the night. Right then the phone rang, so I went to answer it. A friend of mine was in distress. She had hired someone to play the Birthday Faery for her daughter's third birthday and the girl had cancelled and would I please, please come be the Birthday Faery. I asked her to hold on a second. I ran outside and yelled THANK YOU!! to my faery friends then went back inside to agree to be a faery.

Last year we were camping in the Sequoia National Park, a forest of the tallest and widest trees in the world. At night I try to use the moonlight as my guide instead of a flashlight. It makes me feel more connected with nature. After it had gotten dark, I start walking to the bathroom, only there isn't a lot of light. All of the sudden I hear this horrible screaming in my head. It's so loud I stop instantly. I put my hand in front of me and mere inches away is a pretty big tree. It's not the biggest tree in the forest, otherwise I would have felt the roots, but big enough to have hurt very badly had I smashed into it. Of course, I hugged the tree and walked a little slower after that. Next morning I brought a little water to the tree that had kept me from getting hurt. I noticed then that that tree was one of many that stood in a circle that felt very magickal indeed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hope Your Boat Arrives Before the Dock Rots

There once was a man who loved the sea. It was his greatest desire to sail on the vast ocean. He dreamed of the wind on his back and the horizon in front of him. He wanted to go out to sea on a big boat. He imagined that all the villagers would cheer for him and celebrate his adventure with a parade and grand applause.

So he built a dock, a very large dock with many hooks to hold the boat still while he boarded her. And every day he worked on his dock, shining it to perfection so that there was not a single splinter. And every night he walked out to the end of his long dock to wait for his ship. Overhead the seagulls cawed and in the distance he watched dolphins and sea lions frolic in the waves. He would inhale the ocean air and wish very hard for his big boat to come.

Occasionally small dinghies and schooners asked to rest on the man’s dock. Even though they offered to take him for a ride, he refused. He was waiting for his big ship to come in and he didn’t want these smaller vessels to get in the way. As the months and years passed, his heart grew heavy with longing. One day, a villager came to the man and said, “Jim,” for that was the man’s name. “Jim, I sure hope your ship comes in before your dock rots,” and he patted Jim’s shoulder and walked away.

Jim stood up and looked at his dock, which by now was no longer in the great shape it had once been. In that moment he realized that what he wanted more than a big ship was to be on the ocean, to feel the movement under him, to taste salt air, to feel the vastness of miles and miles of water and adventure in front of him. He walked out to his dock and hailed to the first boat that sailed by. On board was a sailor ready to come on land, and so they traded the boat for the dock.

And Jim sailed for the horizon, with no one but dolphins, sea lions, and seagulls to watch him go, and that was enough.