Prayer for the Living

Prayer for the Living

2d Source Soul Card:  I am the one from which two and three emerge, the container of the whole before gender or color is aware of itself; I am the one who is thunder, dreaming.

2d Source Soul Card: I am the one from which two and three emerge, the container of the whole before gender or color is aware of itself; I am the one who is thunder, dreaming.

Reclaiming some of my poetry from almost 20 years ago, and my name as a writer which I haven’t claimed for a long time.  My plan is to do more writing in 2015, but to take a running start at it right now.  As it happens, it is Saturday and a long while back I used to do Poetry Saturday, so I even have a place to file it!

The form of the poem is changed, and the original form enhances the movement but I can’t figure out tabs in wordpress and am not willing to retype the whole thing here so we’ll just take it as it shows up.

By the way, this poem is the start of Wylde Women’s Wisdom, which some of you will remember, and my whole Wylde Women theme in my art and life.  You see that “Wylde” is still “Wild” here – this is the genesis.



Prayer for the Living


  1. We Meet the Woman Who Is Wild

I’ve lost all my dreams

misplaced the book where I wrote them down

the book I sued to figure out just what it was

I wanted, or what wanted me.


Without it how can I tell you

of the white feather presented to me

just before I awoke to find

the white wolf blinking her yellow eyes.


unmelted snow on her fur?

What if I told you that this has nothing to do

with feathers and wolves or the color white?

If I told you that all of this is


her, whispering her stories

trying to make me come back and play?

What if I told you she id dead

and I killed her?  What would you say?


Perhaps I should begin

at the beginning when she crept in

while I was occupied with some drug

whose precise letters I can’t recall.


It was never that I didn’t likke her,

just that I had not context

for what she loosed in my house – the musk

scent she trailed like honey,


the men who came sniffing

like hound dogs on the track;

the body thing – she said our bodies are

beautiful – take off your clothes


and I did.  She said speak up

and I did.  She said dance bare and

howl; she said ride wild things between your legs;

she said you are who you are


and I was.  And then, I think, she went

away or did I tell her to leave or

did I cut out her heart that night

when I closed my mouth, put on my clothes


and began to follow the rules…

Sometimes in the dark I hear something

that sounds like a scream or maybe it’s a keening,

and I wake up, sheets wet with sweat,


nightgown twisted up to my neck

like I was trying to take it off – what

would you say if I told you, after all,

It was only a dream, would you believe me?



2.  Wild Woman Speaks

In the closet where you left me

I have found all the secret doors.  At night

while you sleep I creep up the passageway

to your room, collect the hairs from our brush

and return to the darkness where I weave

for you a new skin – a skin for you to wear,

the one you’ll find when you open the door.


3.  Realization

She sings a story song

born of seawind and earthfire

she says I must

crawl from my mud

into the sun

dry from the cave’s wetness

stand in the light

outshine it

she says I must

stop hiding

in beloved darkness

where I speak the language

of shadow and shade

she says I must

go into the desert

and gather the power strands

I scattered

thinking to be done with the necessity

of taking the pieces and directing them

like reins pulling at the mouths of wild horses

she says I must               finish what has begun


and my traitor heart

leaps with joy


4.  Wild Woman Prays

Kali, awe/full Mother

Terrible in your darkness

You are called Dream

Creatrix of Night

Take of Life

Giver of Death

Sister of Gorgons

Mother of Anger

Daughter of Ocean

Woman of Iron

Holder of trident and sword


Holder of lotus and honey


Wearer of Peacock’s beauty


Wearer of pearls

Dispeller of fear

Wearer of skulls

Dancer of death joy

Gatherer of seeds


Hear us now


Take this blood and drink it

Take this blood and drink it

Take this blood and drink it


For life eternal




 5.  Knight Vision

The heart of the husband has approached

through fireheat, coldburn,


through hidden caves where sunlight

can’t reach


has tried the surface where all

is reflection where shadows

prowl the edges


has trembled when she comes to him

like some wild animal soft, sleek,


all mouth and teeth          and claws.


The heart of the husband has braved

all of this, has thought

about the steam


the steam she lets rise around her


not the trailing steam of mist,

but fog thick and heavy

so dense, sight fails –


and the heart of the husband thinks

of how to sit still

becoming a rock

she can hold onto


if only


if only she would stop beating herself

against the sharp pieces

and find the small places

where toes and fingers can grasp


and the husband doesn’t know

who she will be today

watches moon changes

once ignored          tastes

her salt       sips

her honey and

loves her

this child     this woman            this

lover who howls and scratches

at the door of being – and the heart


and the husband let her in         let her in

never knowing what they’ll find


 6.  Thoughts from the Corner

it should be easier than this

snakes do it all the time

shed their skin

with not even a second thought

while I can’t even find the seam

think I might have to rip open

think it might hurt

think I am imagining things

think if I could just wake up

or maybe it’s go to sleep

than I would be normal again

walk around in the sun and

smile again as though

none of this ever happened

as thought I never heard or felt

or knew anything other than this

light, this well beaten path, this

maze of rats, this nest of ants

this pain, this pain, this pain

for so long I can’t even feel it

anymore – so much easier than

learning something new –

some things are best left to snakes.


 7.  Wild woman’s Declaration

In this closet are many rooms –

all the doors locked

by one key

it hangs

from your neck nestled

between your breasts

swings there gently

bumping against your heart

beating reminders of who you are

in your dreams

the thing that you can never find

already in the palm of your closed hand

the hand you refuse to open, like your eyes,

afraid of what you might see, afraid to stay

in this place where you are, unable to turn back,

dead but breathing.


I am wherever you are

let met teach you

my dance.


 8.  Behind the Closet Door

Wild and trembly

storm child twirls

feet stamping water

where the creek

turkey tails

into bottom land

and snow battered

sod lies interspersed

with gnarled roots of oaks

older than this

clay soil

from which she has


spitting mud

from under her tongue

telling stories

born of rock and

liquid fire


 9.  Secrets

What if I told you

there are no rules?

That there isn’t even a game

until we decide to play it?


What if I told you

that there is no

winner’s circle, only smooth round rooms

with blank white walls


which quiet the quest

make us forget where

we were going and why

soothe us into dreamless sleep…


 10.  Using the Key

Like a cicada buried for 17 years

something stirs inside

and despite myself and the warmth

of this place where I sleep


I begin to dig through dirt

find myself splitting wide

open as though some

Celestial scalpel descends


to make one clean cut out of which

I emerge wrinkled and white

to unfold in the hours between

Moonset and sunrise


find myself singing a song I don’t know

find others just like me

everywhere I turn singing the same song

All of us pale as lunar ghosts


stretching into air like newborns

finding parts of us that were

not there before, learning to see

what we once only imagined.








AEDM 30: Raku Mask:  Josie Dreams of the Sea

AEDM 30: Raku Mask: Josie Dreams of the Sea

Here we are.  Last day of Art Every Day Month (AEDM).  With great gratitude to Leah Piken Kolidas who hosts this every year faithfully, even with new babies in tow.  You’re the best Leah!  Every year this challenge pushes me to play with my art, to stretch what it means, to put myself in front of creating *something* daily – as often as not this blog post, but that’s a creation too.  I love the no rules and easy acceptance of everyone that you offer in this amazing, long-lived on-line community. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I finished this raku mask this morning.  She has been featured all through the month from making,

mask done on armature for rakuing in a week or so

mask done on armature for rakuing in a week or so

to bisque fire (on the left there)

3 masks by Tammy Vitale, bisque-fired for raku.  the middle will go into the fire 11/22 and we'll see about the others after that.

3 masks by Tammy Vitale, bisque-fired for raku. the middle will go into the fire 11/22 and we’ll see about the others after that.

to raku fire,

Raku mask - cleaned up but not yet finished - by Tammy Vitale

Raku mask – cleaned up but not yet finished – by Tammy Vitale


to today:  finished.  And she named herself!  Which means the energy is happy with the final piece – I had no idea the nautilus piece would wind up here, but then I never know what these pieces are going to ask for on the way to complete and whole.  I sort of had an idea for something drapey over her face, but didn’t know exactly what until this morning.  And I forgot that she has an integral hanger – that is:  holes in the sides of her face so I can just run hanging wire through instead of gluing drings like I did for my other masks.  But she needs that.  She is bigger dimensionally and heavier with all that clay around her face.  So I’m glad I thought to do that.

Her name is Josie Dreams of the Sea.


raku mask, Josie Dreams of the Sea, by Tammy Vitale 11/14.

raku mask, Josie Dreams of the Sea, by Tammy Vitale 11/14.

AEDM 29:  Raku! Masks!

AEDM 29: Raku! Masks!

This is the raku mask I posted yesterday but in better light for photographing and you can see the colors MUCH better, but the copper isn’t as glittery..

mask raku  raven dreams a world photo light



Raku Angels and a Masked Mask that I cleaned up but will finish for tomorrow.

Unfinished "Masked Mask" and angels by Tammy Vitale

Unfinished “Masked Mask” and angels by Tammy Vitale


My favorite angel’s new home, on the kitchen window sill over the sink.

3 pieces by Tammy Vitale.  The sleeping fairy isn't mine.

3 pieces by Tammy Vitale. The sleeping fairy isn’t mine.

Fun raku mask  – love the orange and red….I don’t know that I’ve ever gotton colors that clear on my raku before (Thanks to Ray Bogle‘s handling the gas part of the firing – master of lame and clay that he is) – she had earrings (as you can see in this post) but they didn’t make it through.  A friend notes that it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind about wearing earrings.  (smile).

Funny Face, raku ceramics by Tammy Vitale

Funny Face, raku ceramics by Tammy Vitale


AEDM 28:  Raku – Raven Dreams a World

AEDM 28: Raku – Raven Dreams a World

I will have the rest of the masks up tomorrow, but I’m so happy with this one that I’m sharing it for today.  You can see more about the genesis of Raven Dreams a World here.  And I’m delighted to say that we figured out unequivocally that the reason I don’t get good crackle on my raku is my clay, not my skills.  The inimitable Ray Bogle helped me and art gal pals Mary Ida Rolape and Conni James to an amazing afternoon of learning and yummy pieces to take home.  He uses different clay.  I bought some of his.   More masks  to be made.  Masks with raku are AWESOME!  and yes, that’s my camp symbol in her forehead, but it’s hard to tell.

Raku mask by Tammy Vitale:  Raven Dreams a World

Raku mask by Tammy Vitale: Raven Dreams a World

AEDM 25 and 26:  Breaking Apart and Opening Up

AEDM 25 and 26: Breaking Apart and Opening Up

Fire Storm, A Spirit Doll by Tammy Vitale

Fire Storm, A Spirit Doll by Tammy Vitale

Yesterday I began work on my newest Spirit Doll, Fire Storm.  She was born out of heart break and despair after the Ferguson announcement.  I largely did not post on my FaceBook page except to say that the Ferguson decision was disgusting and that I have no idea what should be done next anymore.  Twenty-five years in community based organizing and all I see is that money has enough power now that there aren’t enough people to beat it.

Long conversations on the posts I did make brought to the fore that the answer to all of this will come from community.  You stay in community not because you love everyone there but because you all share a vision for something, in this place a vision where young black men have value to a society as whole.  I roll into valuing women and children enough not to abuse them, allowing women their bodily integrity and honoring the earth.  For me it is all the same.  That’s a pretty broad community and there will be dissention among the whole, but a shared vision of humanity for the next seven generations (and I borrow that magnificent idea from America’s First People).

Understanding that I don’t have to love all of them is essential for me because I can’t.  I think love is a very nice abstract idea that has so many different personal meanings as to be undefinable.  So  instead of saying “love is the way” (which I’m seeing a lot right now), say “community is the way” and all that infers in terms of living with others who are different than you and finding some way to make that work for the better of all.  I see that as real “work” where so many can just claim that they love everyone and not do one single thing.

Shades of having been raised Catholic and that New Testament book by James which says that acts are a required part of being saved.  I left all of that long

Detail, Fire Storm, a Spirit Doll by Tammy Vitale

Detail, Fire Storm, a Spirit Doll by Tammy Vitale

ago, but I kept that concept that acts speak louder than words.  If you indeed do love, show me by your actions.  And yes, there is judgement there.  But I’m not claiming to be perfect here.  I’m claiming to be working on what’s next, in community with a few people I’ve grown to love and trust.

So anyways, in the midst of all this I have been lost as to what’s next.  And not feeling very good about that being a person of action.

The Universe is a funny thing (however you define it or whatever you call it).

We have had a huge pine in our side yard for decades.  It was badly bent by an ice storm a good 15 years back and has always leaned.  Lately it has looked as if it were leaning harder and toward our cars.  Hubby and I spoke of it on and off and neither of us did anything about it.

Today hubby heard a loud crack and thought it was (another) pine tree in our front yard which fell over, dead, against an oak, and which we have expected to crack in half any year now (no cars around).  Looking out it was the side yard pine, down, and inches (literally) away from 2 of our vehicles.  Inches.  Had it snapped lower on it’s spine, it would have gotten the car and van.

Here’s where the Universe comes in.  And how I read stories in events around me – because the world is storied, it’s how we make sense of things, and if ever I needed some sense made of the world, now is the time.  As I was looking at it, the thought dropped in (unbidden – I wasn’t even in the arena of thinking about Ferguson, probably for the first time in about 48 hours) that things fall apart (the pine tree snapped) to open space for new things to grow (a tree down in the forest makes way for all kinds of new growth).

Fire Storm, a Spirit Doll by Tammy Vitale

Fire Storm, a Spirit Doll by Tammy Vitale

I started Fire Storm yesterday because working with my hands is soothing when my head is going in circle.  I finished her today, and she named herself as a lot of my work is wont to do.  She was intuitively made using a little bit of everything I have on hand.  I had no idea where I was going when I started and am not sure what I have now that she’s finished.  And that’s okay.  Not knowing is okay.  Because I am not responsible for knowing.  I am responsible for participating, in community, with baby steps to what comes next.  I don’t know what that is because it has never been.  I believe that is possible:  something new rising.  I’m pinning my hopes on that belief, and my wishes in the skirt of my Spirit Doll.

This is from my blog, December 3, 2010:

I am, in other words, a midwife to energy.  That is my art’s gift to me – to see things born for the first time.  To bring into being things that never were before.  To leave my fingerprints in the soft clay which fires to hard, to make the metal bend just so, to accrue hard stone and glittery crystal and bring everything together so that it is as unique as the person calling it.  Grace. Over and over each time I open to the impulse to make something.

Here are some other things I’ve learned.  Sometimes you can do everything right and the clay still explodes in the kiln.  Sometimes you can really push the clay to the edges of what you know should work and a bit beyond and something amazing happens.  Broken pieces aren’t trash – you can put them back together in a different configuration and make something even more beautiful.  Remade jewelry and refashioned shards of fired clay show me how what is healed is even stronger and more wonderful than the first iteration.  It reminds me that I can remake myself as many times as I want – that all the pieces will fit back together and sometimes surprise me with what has opened up.

Wishing you serenity and community and family.

Wylde Crone Rising:  Nothing every goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.  It just keeps returning with new names, forms, and manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.  To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.  Pema Chodron 

AEDM 24:  More Masks for Raku

AEDM 24: More Masks for Raku

quick post for today!

Made more masks for more raku this coming Friday with Ray Bogle and 2 of the art gal pals.  Really pushing the drying – need to fire on Wednesday – may have to soak at low heat to get them dried out so I don’t have to worry about explosions.

mask for friend

mask for friend

connie 2 - Copy

mask for friend

mask for friend

mask for friend

Made three simple masks for a friend who has been traveling and didn’t have time to make her own – she can make them hers with the glazing process which is why I kept it simple.

Made myself this crazy mask – it has holes around the edges of the head so I can insert wire afte she’s rakued.

this has holes around the outside edge for Wylde Woman hair

this has holes around the outside edge for Wylde Woman hair

Made these angels because they’re easy …I want to do their gowns in crackle and the bird in red and let the smoke do the rest black.  They’rell be really nice if that works!  We’ll see!

angels for raku

angels for raku

Mask with nautilus – the nautilus is under it for drying, but the mask will, of course be fired along and then the nautilus added after the raku process.

mask for raku with nautilus shell

mask for raku with nautilus shell

I have a spirit doll that is ready to come through – I’m hoping to take some time with her this afternoon, and I am taking a quick several week on-line course on putting together an before the end of the year – that’s the evening.  So I”ll have plenty of things to draw from for the rest of the week!


AEDM 23: Medusa – Rumble Strips

AEDM 23: Medusa – Rumble Strips

Medusa - 24"x36", acrylic on canvass by Tammy Vitale

Medusa – 24″x36″, acrylic on canvass by Tammy Vitale

Here is an amazing post that pretty much explains what I’ve been trying to say the past week, but says it way better:

This past 2 weeks, the energy has seen a lot of us deep-diving. 
Diving down into the depths of ourselves – our feelings, our thoughts, our beliefs, our patterns, our life journey. 
Soul diving.
It’s as if an electric current is pulsing through your body, wiring and firing you to awaken, awaken, awaken. 
More and more and more.  
To shed and cleanse, to release and intend.
Peace comes, clarity comes, followed by challenge, distraction, emotion, disorientation,restlessness
A feeling that things must be going wrong, or need to be changed and quickly.
Yet you do not have the energy to make the changes in the timescale you feel you need to. 
This is electricity, moving through your energy field and the field of the collective.

detail, Medusa, by Tammy Vitale.  words for generations to follow to wonder about.

detail, Medusa, by Tammy Vitale. words for generations to follow to wonder about.

This is the electrified living of these times, bringing us all to clearing.
It can be relentless – it can make you mad, bring you to sadness, and then, it can elevate you into a moment of blinding clarity. 
And yet the waves of inner-change keep coming…
Are you feeling it?   A lot of folks I know are, so it isn’t just me.  Wide open.  VERY interesting.
So I had great intentions of making something new for today, but I worked this morning longer than usual because there was a communal gathering and breaking of bread afterwards.  Then hubby and I had to go grocery shopping.  You know, the mundane things that need to keep happening even in the face of things like the energy of the above description.  And by the time we were home it was dark and my body doesn’t do well with dark – it looks out the window and says:  hey!  it’s dark.  Time to sleep.  I hung out on the computer instead.
detail Medusa - did you know that traditionally Pegasus was born from Medusa's blood?  Medusa was framed you know.

detail Medusa – did you know that traditionally Pegasus was born from Medusa’s blood? Medusa was framed you know.

I actually have a spirit doll waiting in the bead room, and some holiday sewing that I better think hard about, and more pieces to make for raku this coming Friday – that’s going to be a fast push to fire – so tomorrow morning it’s into the studio and no excuses.

Meanwhile, here’s a poem that’s interesting, from the 90s where most of what I’ve been sharing comes from.  It’s based on an actual dream – at least the part about the cat and the fish.  The picture of Medusa that I have used for this post took me two years to complete.  It sat mocking me for a long time until daughter bought me some red paint and said, “Here, Ma, this is what is needs.”  And she was right and I finished it.  It has words randomly in it.  One is “rumble strips”.  That was also from daughter.  We laughed and spoke of some time in the far future when we were dead and my paintings were famous and people would make up

detail, Medusa - the finny fish - I can still see that dream in my mind's eye

detail, Medusa – the finny fish – I can still see that dream in my mind’s eye

stories about those words, which were, in actuality simply pulled out of the air for fun.  Such is art.


Medusa – Reprise


I am the chosen one
who will re-vision the world

who knew that writing it down
would make it hard and unyielding

My voice is water
and the wearing down has already begun.



smell of crushed herbs
wreath of healing amidst
dark night’s sweating dreams

there is blood here
on forgotten ribbons snaking
like streamers that could herald spring
but do not.

The wound is raw
the edges serrated, torn and tinged

How to cut it out and still
still remain alive.



In the dream the yellow cat with six eyes
longs to be touched
taken from the darkness where it lives
beside the cartoon house
with rainbow bricks.

The river is rising.  It has crested the old pathway
and the house may soon crumble.

But the cat loves the finny fish
flashing turquoise and blue in the meadow’s pond
and will not leave.



The rumors were all wrong.
It isn’t stone.  Never was.
Illusion has always been my specialty:

dark onto dark makes
light, the double negative
black owl eyes
reflecting white
as the moon escapes
from thick storm clouds .


The halo tells
of more rain.



There will be no front page report of this
but tonight 100 women will share the same dream.



In the cycle of seven upon seven upon seven
four more times
the ocean’s fingers have flattened sharp edges
smoothed away  visible lines.

(This is the true story.)


Open your eyes
see what you are become

Move if you wish
but first you must open your eyes

There is so much to see.

AEDM 22:  Traveling Incognito

AEDM 22: Traveling Incognito

assemblage mask by Tammy Vitale titled, Silence is...

assemblage mask by Tammy Vitale titled, Silence is…

(What is more perfect illustration of traveling incognito than a mask?!)

Gal friend, Tina Tierson (whom I mentioned in yesterday’s post of Wise and Wylde people in my life), sent along this dazzling interview with Nikki Giovanni, the poet.  An excerpt:

Today, I am 64 years old. I still look good. I appreciate and enjoy my age. While I have always liked my career, I have way more fun with it now. I’ve got nothing to prove, and I don’t care what the critics say. When I finish writing a book, I don’t push myself to start the next one; I enjoy having just written one.

A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it. You still bring to bear all your prior experience, but you’re riding on another level. It’s completely liberating. Now, everything I do, I do because I want to. And I believe the best is yet to come.

Yes.  Hell YES!!!

I think after a certain age it is as if we are all traveling incognito – the picture of who we are in our head not quite matching the one we visit daily in the mirror.

Year of the Woman
by Tammy Vitale



In front of the quicksilver mirror

            Mercury’s reflecting glass

she places a hand under each breast

            pushes up, arches her back,

stretches and watches the shadow

            of a 23 year old waist emerge

blurred as an old photograph.  She

            smiles.  Relaxes.  Chants, “Fifty. Fifty.


Fifty.”  Thinks of Manet’s picture,

            Olympia, and the roundness of Renoir’s

women; wonders what any one of them

            would think of Kate Moss.



If she were a month, she would be

            August.  Hot.  Wetness everywhere.

As she brushes her hair, she sees blue

            lightening, watches her hair move

around her face

            like something alive.


She has noticed that somehow she has become

             invisible.  She thinks, Crone.

And the snakes rustle in her skirt, wrap

            around her shoulders, whisper soft

as water wearing down stone, telling

            stories she has never before heard.

Loran Hills (also mentioned yesterday, Wylde Brazen Woman that she is) encourages taking and posting selfies on her Skin Deepest private Facebook page to get over the mirror shock

Raku mask by Tammy Vitale

Raku mask by Tammy Vitale

and get used to seeing ourselves as we are.  Interested in joining her page, friend her on Facebook and ask!  It’s a gathering place for soul chat!

I just finished getting certified to facilitate Conscious Aging workshops with The Noetic Science Institute (along with Loran).  As I worked through that course, it became clear to me that aging is nothing more than one more transition – but a transition that we can pull on a full lifetime of experience for.  We KNOW transitions (if we have done our introspective work), we know that some of them feel deadly yet here we still are, marching through life and sometimes (but only sometimes) taking time to note sunrises and sunsets and thinking about the magnificence of the ordinary.

And for this transition, almost no one is watching or paying attention.  We are free to try on new roles (freer than when we were teens and were trying on those roles in the context of what others think not what we wanted) with no embarrassment because no one is watching!  They never were.  We just thought they were.  NOW we know that.  Now we can participate in magnificent gatherings where we can be comrades and community instead of watching to see who is going to stab us in the back because our hair/skin/clothes/shoes/language is wrong.

That, my friends, is freedom.

As with all transitions, getting older brings with it work.

Now is the time to forgive ourselves and others for all trespasses (or come one step closer to that. It is, after all a journey and a practice, not an end).  Almost all of them, if we are truthful, were done when none of us knew any better.  We thought we were doing something that would lead us to happiness or truth or whatever.  And many may even have done that  – for a while.  But all things pass.  As we gather years on this earth, we can begin to embody that for *everything.*  And stop trying to hold on to the stuff we name good because it feels good since it is only for now.  Something else is coming.  Don’t get stuck!

In Conscious Aging, Kathleen Erickson-Freeman offers a guide for writing a life review.  I’m going to point out that 12 step programs do this in Step 4, take inventory, so it’s not a revolutionary idea.  But having had to do an autobiography for my master’s thesis, I can attest to its being hard to know where/how to start on something like this.  Here is her advice:

1. Write on cheap paper and write freely, allow for mistakes, cross things out or even throw away a page if you so choose.
2.  Avoid writing chronologically …memory is often associative and you’re more likely to recall similarly themed events that occurred over the course of your life than to remember those same events chronologically.  Your mind naturally groups experiences.  [Note:  as I have reviewed my creative work over the past 20 years for recent blog posts, this realization has come front and center for me!)

3.  Don’t allow anyone, especially family members, to “correct’ Your memoir…Our interpretation  has more to do with the context than the content.  And I would add – don’t even share what you are doing unless and until you are with someone who is safe and non-judgmental.  

4.  Go where the energy is.  What wants expression?  [draw it if the words won’t come, collage it if drawing is intimidating]

5.  Don’t pre-plan.  Allow one piece of writing to lead to the next.

6.  Start with the most important experience in your life:  events, people, memories.

AEDM 21:  All Hail Wise and Wylde Women

AEDM 21: All Hail Wise and Wylde Women

I will start with pictures for AEDM 21:

fired masks, one of which will be rakued tomorrow afternoon, and the other two, if number one goes well, next Friday, along with a few more things I may make.


3 masks by Tammy Vitale, bisque-fired for raku.  the middle will go into the fire 11/22 and we'll see about the others after that.

3 masks by Tammy Vitale, bisque-fired for raku. the middle will go into the fire 11/22 and we’ll see about the others after that.

Earrings for longest friend, Linda’s, birthday.  She doesn’t read my blog so these are safe here.  Made and mailed today.  Just in time – almost missed it.  Where has this month gone?


birthday earrings I made for my longest friend, Linda and got in the mail just in time to get to the other side of the country for her birthday - where did this week go?

birthday earrings I made for my longest friend, Linda and got in the mail just in time to get to the other side of the country for her birthday – where did this week go?

Now on to hailing Wise and Wylde Women, which is more a gratitude list to all the wise and wylde  women in my life who are helping me through this transition I find myself in the middle of aptly as described by Briand Andreas:  If you hold on to the handle, she said, it’s easier to maintain the illusion of control.  But it’s more fun if you just let the wind carry you.  Titled:  Illusion of control.

I can say that after this week, I think any notion I had about even a modicum of control has swirled off into the vast wilderness of space and I am wafting along on the wind.  I didn’t choose it, seems it must be time.  I can track it (and that has to be another post) and it seems so right that I’m not even trying to pretend I’m in control, understand, have a clue.  I’m wrung out and happily exhausted and wide open and waiting for whatever it is that wants to come through – not here yet I don’t think, because I do believe it will show up here and I’m not sure it’s done that yet.  Well, actually I think it has done that over the last 10 years I’ve blogged, and before that in journals, and everywhere and always in my art (written and visual).  What I haven’t done yet is connect the dots, and truth be told I don’t think I’m supposed to scramble to do that.  I get the distinct gut feeling that it’s all going to lay itself out in front of me and all I will have to do is record it.  Of course that remains to be seen.

At the risk of leaving someone out, I’m going to name names.  If you feel left out please recognize that this isn’t a comprehensive list, it is a list of Now.  There are so many wonderful women and men who have played into my growth that I’d be typing for years.  So this is just right NOW in the vortex of this wind storm where I find myself shedding layers and getting scrubbed all shiny and clean.

Loran Hills for her work in honoring post-menopausal women on her private Facebook page.  Loran has sparked more than one journey for me since I met her on-line several years back through the Goddess Leonie (who has since changed her name and become like all the rest of the “do this and you’ll make a million” people out there)(that’s just my opinion of course).  Most recently, in addition to providing a really safe space to explore aging, she and I urged each other on to certification on Conscious Aging through The Noetic Institute.  We are running on parallel lines.

Jacqualine Marie Baxman (J.M.) and Tina Tierson – women who came in (how?  how did you ladies come in?) several years back at about the same time and who are forever linked in my mind even though none of us has ever met face to face.  I think of both of you as guides who appeared to walk with me and say wonderful supportive things to me and inspire me.

Leah Piken Kolidas for creating Art Every Day Month, which has pushed me to let go and create *something* for the last 8 years.  This year I shall again attempt to stay with the space that writing and creating every day opens up.  I wouldn’t have known about it were it not for her.

Dhyana McKenzie who encourages me to think so far out of the box that it reminds me that the only box there is out there is the one we create in our mind.

MaryIda Rolape and Connie James who, in addition to being great art pals, have expanded my view of what is possible here and now.

Suzanne Sheldon, another artist friend, who has willingly agreed to work with me to get the creation poem at the core of my Master’s thesis into ebook form, with my art, and then work with me to take it to a limited edition print book.

All the campers at Patti Digh’s Life is a Verb Camp that I recently attended (the weekend of the full moon as it turns out).  Patti calls it a Tribe.  I can’t help but agree and was and continue to be amazed at the wide open generosity and creativity of *everyone* I ran into.

Finally, Anne Rutherford with whom I’ve shared many an adventure over the last 15 years or so.  We had coffee today and as always slipped into deep spiritual conversation rather quickly.  Anne helped me uncage and free the hamster (if you want that to make andy sense you have to go back and read) and is the first to identify her when she returns in disguise.  Today I got smart because we have these amazing conversations and I leave and think, “WOW!” and then can’t remember the details – so I took notes.  Here are some of the things I jotted down:  Conscious Transformation is another way of saying “personal Alchemy” (I love that phrase and told Anne I am stealing it – instead she graciously said – “Just take it.”).  We talked about how transformation that is not coerced or controlled (as if – I think those things just make you stop in your tracks and *think* you are doing something – I’m learning it’s about riding the wind), when it comes through, is about how well you have prepared the field, what seeds you have planted or have drifted in on their own, about tending this garden and being patient because some seeds take a long time getting to harvest.

We talked about how alchemy is not magic (or magical thinking).  Alchemy connotes work – that work which each of us must do in our own unique way to turn the dross we have in hand into the gold we intuitively know is there.  Much like my intent to bring the archetypal Crone into modern day consciousness, a curiosity and playfulness around alchemy can bring the “dross to gold” of the initial meaning into our own spiritual realm where real gold is always waiting to be discovered, with careful respect, as we dig into the dark earth of our garden.  *Everything* goes into the cauldron at harvest. If the work isn’t done, the harvest will be lean.   And the Crone then works her alchemy *with* us, not on us at any age of transformation.  (Okay – admittedly, if I step back here, the metaphors aren’t all working….but remember this is my week of total imperfection and riding the wind – the work is translating the feeling, not worrying, just yet, about the wording).

We talked about politics, my own dismay/discouragement/depression over this last election and my wondering about what’s next and not having a clue.  Anne pointed out that none of us is responsible for solving all of the world’s problems – it has to be a collective effort and I thought then of what my own part is to be in this, and told her of how I would like to create a gathering place for creatives here in Southern Maryland, and women’s retreats on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and wondered if we had folks who might actually be interested in that.  We talked about women’s circles and drumming and dancing and, when one incubates in the earth (to continue the planting analogy)/hybernates through the winter of not knowing, how the Muses and all our mothers,  dreams and random thoughts, and art and words  show up and whisper to us what is next.  So it becomes important to be present and pay attention.  And instead of being in reaction (where I think I’ve spent my whole life), acknowledge and use that resting stage, however you define it, as a “pause” button to clear the thinking process away and make space for what’s a birthing.

We talked about so much more and despite my thinking I took good notes, I apparently did not.  Some things are meant to be captured in feeling and not in words, and that feeling will lead you all the way home, because, unlike words, it can’t be argued with.

I’ll stop here for tonight.  Stay tuned for more.  And thank all of your for walking with me on this journey.



AEDM 20:  In Search of Myself

AEDM 20: In Search of Myself

I am in (yet again) another transition.  I do believe that I spend way more time in the interstices than I do in the actualities.  Perhaps that is the lot of the creative soul.  Or maybe it is what makes the creative soul.

What better place to look for myself than in my art and writing?

I have an altered book of sorts that I started 8 years ago when I started doing AEDM (Art Every Day Month) with Leah Piken Kolidas.  She was Leah Piken then.  At the time I thought to finish it quickly.  As it turns out it is a work in progress.

Here’s a share from last year (11/13/13)

AEDM 11.13, from an on-going altered book project I started 8 years ago the first year I did Art Every Day Month

AEDM 11.13, from an on-going altered book project I started 8 years ago the first year I did Art Every Day Month

And here’s the piece I put together for today – yes, totally created a new piece, but based it on an old poem from 97.  I have to wonder where my head was when I wrote this poem, winter doldrums?  There are several around the same time and it’s as if I were creating a mythology because I recognize bits and pieces as taken from my life (I still have the purple scarf, and the fish is from a restaurant we used to eat at in the 1980s.  And yes,  I do have a bird feeder and very persistent squirrels, and if I remember correctly there actually were some dried blue flowers on my windowsill that were finally falling apart),  but a lot of it is pulled from thin air.

AEDM 11.20.14, a quick addition to the altered book based on a 1997 poem of mine.

AEDM 11.20.14, a quick addition to the altered book based on a 1997 poem of mine.


Dining at the Red Sea Restaurant

It begins with the way things drop

from between lips like blue flowers

full of unnamed nectar reminding

one of a childhood memory – something spicy,

perhaps an undertone of medicine –

something hidden.  Full of this I watch

transparent bubbles rise

from the mouth of the fish in the octagon bowl.


The fork travels from the plate to the air

in front of me, pauses, makes promises,

drifts back to the place where it began.  Taste

is a thing to read about in Thursday’s paper

on the subway when the train emerges

from its dark tunnel.  As Winter curls

its fingers across the window, I trace the sparkles

of ice, try to remember what my mother used to say.


Soon snow will come.  Already

the birds chide my procrastination from perches

around the wooden feeder.  Even the squirrel

has taken to hanging upside down from the feeder door.

Its small squirrel screams echo though my house, now

inexplicably empty except for the purple scarf

with gold threads flung in a far corner.

At the window blue flowers wilt, dry, drop

sapphires onto the peeling sill.  By the time I notice


they too are echoes.  I toss them into the water flowing

under the bridge the train crosses every day.

The forgotten words rise again and again, but I do not

understand the language; the sound escapes in bubbles

from my lips.  Maybe the fish will tell me.  When

the fortune cookie is served, it will not break.

Some things are best left unknown.

Along the line of seeking the me that might be revealed by my unconscious through my art, here’s Discoverature, a ceramic tile from the early 2000s.  The name is taken from a poem daughter wrote in college, which got panned by the professor and was the only time in my life that she said:  go get him, Mom.  Her classmates loved it and I think it is magnificent, so I have included it here too.  I will report that when I read it, she said:  “Now, Ma, don’t read too much into this.  It’s an assignment.”  But you and I know about poetry, don’t we?

Discoverature - an original tile by Tammy Vitale

Discoverature – an original tile by Tammy Vitale



            Jessie Vitale

sand sloughs dead skin cells that cake

            over true identities.

time requests masks for safety

            measures against a world.

hidden secrets, deceiving lies of complete

            control at all cost demand upkeep.

unconventional interests in unaccepting circles

            force individuals into silence.

smiles on lips require constant

            practice in unpolished mirrors.

search deep within, concealed caves hold

            answers to the moon’s question “you are who?”

Finally, from the early 2000s (as is Discoverature), here is Mina Pauses.  I find the image perfect for the Wylde Crone as it grounds the image in nature (curling plant, paw prints), spirit (spirals) an love (heart).  The hair, of course, is my trademark “Wylde” significator.  It seems that the poem from last year’s share is appropriate (and the autobiography there is that I burn wood for heat in my house – which on nights as cold as this is very very full of grace.).


Blessed be the air through which the acorn fell.

Blessed be the earth that accepted theacorn
against its breast.

Blessed be the water that fed the acorn as it grew.

Blessed be the sprout that climbed through the
earth back into the air.

Blessed be the sapling that grew in the shadow
of its parent.

Blessed be the years that passed, the roots that
spread wide and deep, the branches that reached
out and up, the crown that whispered secrets to
the wind.

Blessed be the end of cycles when things die.

Blessed be this wood that has come to me.

Blessed be the fire that warms my home.

Blessed be.