Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On the Sacred Mountain (au revoir, ma mere - bon voyage).

I am in the desert. It is sacred, silent and vast.  

In this place my mother has laid down on the top of a mountain which I call the Mesa, her Mesa, and all around her are pink roses.  She rests comfortably, performing belly breaths, as she awaits the Creator and her ancestors. Their arrival is imminent; they come to shepherd her home.

My beautiful mother: kind, generous, a natural healer and lover of Mother Earth and all of Her relations.  She has been my sunrise and my darkest night.  My mother taught me about Love.  Her kind, gentle, graceful presence has been a living example of LOVE.  I wish I was more like her.

My sisters are here with me. 

Today, I allow myself to be the baby of the family.  I allow my sisters to guide me and I follow.

Today I am carried by my Soul Sisters from the Circle of Stones, who too are Vision Questing on the Mesa with me.  They are present: my sacred and wise counsel.

My sisters, blood and sinew, are connected to me.  We each have our own medicine.  

Coyote is also here with his sacred medicine.  He is our kin representing the sheer spontaneity of life, which is our birthright as human beings.  He reminds us of the celebration of life.  In the desert, the potency of silence brings and amplifies the brilliance of our Souls' songs. 

Carried to us by the winds, the song of Lauretta Maureen Koziol Book, rings in our ears.  The birds sing in operatic joy.  The creator and Mother Earth guide the melody and tempo.   

We dance.
      We dance.
            We dance.  

Please join us in a moment of sacred presence and DANCE.

In the moments leading up to the ending of physical life, time seems to slow down and the air feels electric.  Every sense in my body (vision, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting and understanding) is heightened.

I stand at the edge of the sacred mountain calling out to the Creator, my ancestors, Mother Earth, and all of my people. 

I am calling for prayer.  
I am calling for support. 
I am calling for peace. 
I am calling for mercy.  
I am calling upon your Grace.
God hear my prayers.  Take my Mother, up to your heart and keep her there safely at your side.  Please send love and support to my father, Julian Book and my sisters Barbara, Donna, and Patricia.  Please also send peace and lovingkindness to my husband James, my daughter Hannah all all of the relations in the Book, Youngs, Brooks, Murray, and Koziol families.

Sunset over Sonora Desert, Looking Southwest, #9891

© 2013  James W. Murray, all rights reserved.

(click image for larger version)

Sun Rays Over Sonora Desert, Looking Southwest, #9891Sun Rays Over Sonora Desert, Looking Southwest, #9891Sun Rays Over Sonora Desert, Looking Southwest, #9891

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mythical Mysts, Musical Musings

His touch was soft .  My lips touching his skin brought back memories from childhood of  my magic wand, velvet and organic. It was made of a young Pussy Willow branch, which I methodically used to carress my cheeks with the soft buds, safe touch.  Mother…

James was kind and shy in his approach.  His delicate ivory skin brushed again mine accidently as we walked side by side down the crowded San Franciscan street.
I received his honeysuckle scent as he walked by my side.  His bouquet fought for territory amongst the city smells of strong, black coffee and hot asphalt.
Before us the wind swirled in the black and white magic of Walker Evans, harkening back to a time where young lovers required a chaperone.
Our chaperone was the ringing church bells across a green city park meadow.  We sat upon a small bench leaning up against one another.  His hair glowing under the sunrays.  His eyes wide like a doe’s, so generous and innocent.

Our hearts full now with bygone days. 
Days when life seemed simpler and innocent.

Here he was, holding me safe up against his body. His innocence filled my ears with a softer bell. It was his soul opera emerging, a demure echo from his heart.

Fog, Lincoln Park, Legion of Honor, #0538-7D

© 2013  James W. Murray, all rights reserved.

(click image for larger version)

Details: October 14, 2012; Canon 7D; f/9 @ 1/250 sec; ±0 EV; ISO 500;Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM @ 300mm


Thursday, December 27, 2012

What is Journey True North?

People frequently ask me, "what is your private practice, Journey True North?  What do you do?"

It is a business expectation that all CEO's or executives have an "elevator speech" prepared to present to people when they ask about your company, product, mission, etc.

Creating such a canned answer is a difficult task to accomplish when you have an organization that aims to help people reconnect to their own soul purpose.  Last night at Christmas dinner a friend of my husband's, whom I have not seen for a few years, stopped by somewhat unexpectantly. James, my husband, called me over to where they were sitting and said, "Hey Babe, can you tell Jim what Journey True North is?"

Again, I was face-to-face with my own trepidation in describing a process, set of material and methods used that allow people to "re-member" their dreams and live into their soul purpose.

I said to Jim, "Remember when you were a little boy? Do you remember what you dreams were? Well, Journey True North uses depth psychology, mythology, storytelling, guided imagery, and traditional indigenous medicine work to help others re-collect their soul purpose."  Yet even this explanation felt wholly inadequate.

I am now formulating the essence of Journey True North into a stable and confident sound byte, that three second commercial, a message that satisfies my need to convey what I do and what I am called to do it in this lifetime. This work I bring forth into the world is not so much learned as it is given and conveyed through Spirit and my Creator.

Journey True North comes straight from my soul, and has been percolating in there for over thirty years.  It began with a women's meditation group which lead me into the fascinating world of Godesses including Innana, Hecate, Kali, Pele, Vestia, Aurora, and the Mother Mary.  Then I was directed into the works of Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, Carlos Castaneda  Starhawk, Carl Jung, Angeles Arrien, Vicky Noble, the Black Madonna  shamanic studies, mythology and depth psychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute, red tent ceremonies, vision quests, women's circles, and James Hillman.

Now, after thirty years of mixing this conncotion, I am ready to share this personalized micro brew with those who are thirsty for the knowledge of their own soul purpose and how to escavate the own personal Diamon.

Spiral Black Stallion, #0571-7D

© 2012  James W. Murray, all rights reserved.

(click image for larger version)

Details: October 28, 2012; Canon 7D; f/16 @ 1/60 sec; +1/3 EV; ISO 800;
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday Hysterectomy

My husband James and I have been visiting Northern California for several days. It's been over a week since I had a hysterectomy. It was a quiet little procedure, conducted through the vagina, requiring no abdominal incisions or complications.

It was almost like haviung a wart removed.  In and out, literally. In one minute I was a able bodied female mammal capable of birth and breast feeding.  Now, without doubt, I am incapable of reproduction. 

Having my uterus removed was a very big deal for me.

  It required a lot of spiritual and mental preparation to accept that I could never ever become pregnant again. I have forever lost the ability to bring life through my body.  I am never again going bleed in the cycle of life/death/rebirth.  I cannot deny that I am physically incapable of producing human life. I am now a Crone, even though I am technically not of age to earn this regal status.

Now please don't misunderstand me:  I am forever grateful to be rid of unexplained pelvic pain and dysfunctional bleeding. I am looking forward to life beyond hysterectomy.

I do have to publicly acknowledge and call into the forefront Mr. Joseph Moes, and all the gifts he bestowed upon me at thirteen, and to my potential children, and my husband's hopes of being a father.  I do have to say that until December 10, 2012, I carried within my uterus the pain and suffering of all girls and women who have been scarred and abused.  With this sudden excavation, I am free of both the tissue and the cellular memories that held me hostage and kept me in bitter despair and war with my beautiful body.  

I want to thank my beautiful body for being productive and carrying me through the hardest chapters of my life.  I want to thank my sisters Donna and Tricia for helping me to be strong at a time it would have been easy to slit my wrists.  I want to Thank Luanna Wendell for driving me to Kaiser, for she was the only girl on the block with a Driver's License.  

I want to thank Monica Gubrud, Tookie Dunfield, Diane Pini, and my therapist at the Sunnyvale Mental Health Clinic for keeping me alive during this time, a period when it would have been much easier to leave this planet.  

And last but not least,  I want to thank Hannah Mae for waiting until I was ready to be her Mom. I believe strongly that children choose their parents and she had ample opportunities to be born. She chose me.  For that, am forever grateful for her love.

Untitled (Mother and Child), #3721

(c)2009, 2012  James W. Murray, all rights reserved.

(click image for larger version)

Details: June 20, 2009; Canon 20D; f/5.6 @ 1/15 sec; -2/3 EV; ISO 800;
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @  55mm.


Friday, December 14, 2012

A Golden Beam of Light Beckons

On a recent weekend some friends and I congregated to spend time in the small community of  Pescadero. Hidden between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, Pescardero is a unique coastal community.  The old restaurant/saloon Duartes, serving the best clam chowder on the West Coast, is inland and located in what some might call  the town center.

Pescadero rests minutes from neighboring La Honda, which features a most interesting and eclectic General Store.  There is always a small band playing blues or rock and roll on the weekends.  You can drink a handcrafted local micro brew while shopping local art and crafts, books and homemade foods.

Yet it is Pescadero that offers one brilliant historical site which attracts us here for the weekend, and that is the lighthouse at pigeon point.  We came to have a slumber party at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel.  Ten amazing women along side the Pacific Ocean, watching transient male whales en route to warmer waters for the winter.

The weather in December was beautiful.  California coastal atmospherics at their best.  With less than three weeks weeks before Christmas I wore shorts and a sports shirt . The wind was crisp, and the cold ocean water leapt to kiss our cheeks and lips throughout the weekend. It was absolute beauty and perfection.  Fresh ocean winds and sunny warmth by day.  Billions of stars at night.

At the hostel we had one whole house to ourselves, stocked with memory foam beds wrapped in rubber-like permanent sheets.  The bunk beds located in 3 rooms allowed for hang out space and proved to be quite comfortable.  The living space and kitchen area provided additional cooking, preparation and relaxation areas. There was music, bingo, drinking, laughter, napping and reading going on around the clock.  Women braiding hair, massaging backs and painting nails.  The exact right balance of sound and silence. 

At a time of the year when the world can be very busy and frenetic, we all came to the coast to be together and experience rejuvenation by reorienting ourselves to our own true north stars.

Its easy to overlook the gifts in our life, as we run from thing to thing everyday.  We keep ourselves and our children ever involved in activities, so much so that we run the risk of missing  life by focusing on the chaos.  I have been unplugging from the grid of activities for the past three years.  I have been dismantling my fa├žade one activity at a time.  I have been growing into the awareness of  my blessings as I step off the merry-go-round and touch ground in my own soul.

The lessons I am learning focus precisely on my people/friends, and my family, parents (still living!) and siblings who have persevered through so much LIFE.  We migrate now to one another in a way that is inspiring and supportive.  My people/friends/family are great teachers to me.

My daughter, Hannah, and my husband James are my constants, like the North Star — guiding, shining and singing throughout my life.  Both Hannah, James and my mother are Pisces.  They sing their own songs, practice art and photography, and are incredibly talented.  I am in awe of these amazing creatures. My mother is 87, my husband 53 and my daughter just 16 years old, yet they each offer the world their own unique talents and beauty.  I am so grateful and lucky to be in their presence.

Today, I give thanks to Mother Earth and all of her relations.  I give thanks for the love, friendship, health, financial freedom, insight, gifts, memories and every minute of this day.   My cup overflows with goodness and joy.

Day's Finale, Pigeon Pt., CA, #4201/2-7D

© 2012  James W. Murray, all rights reserved.

(click image for larger version)

Details: December 10, 2011; Canon 7D; f/8 @ 1/664 sec; —2 EV; ISO 250;
Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX @ 16mm


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thanksgiving: A Way of Life

Recently while visiting family in bucolic upper state New York I was reminded of the importance of family.

There were times in my life when I turned my back on my family. I instead worked hard to adopt others, any others, as my family. My distortions regarding my relatives were based strongly in my ill-perceived understandings of my heritage. I knew only what I was able to remember, and in large part these reflections were warped.  My self-centeredness allowed my ego to distort everything that did not meet the minimum requirements of being sufficiently sorrowful or harmful to be cast out of the memory cache.  I had little to replay except misperceived scenes and unrelenting feelings of being wholly unloved.

And then something magical occurred:  I grew up.

The tyranny of my heritage and overestimated childhood sorrows were slowly replaced by new opportunities — to love, and to reacquaint myself with family.

It was only after I gave birth to my own daughter that I could truly appreciate my mother for all she endured, and my father for his steadfast presence.  In spite of all that I deemed unworthy, there was a shining essence that would not dim. I tried to ignore and tarnish their golden presence, but it was unrelenting.

I recognized the magnificent rich cultural heritage of my family through the eyes of my growing baby girl.  After all the years I had spent bemoaning my childhood, I lost precious moments with my parents and siblings. The genuine gift of maturity and healing is the urge to connect with people and places that came before in our lives. I am filled with gratitude that I did not lose any of these opportunities permanently. Nothing was done that could not be undone by restoring my relationships, if they were willing.

I spent significant effort rebuilding those important  bonds. It paid off. Today I have real connections with people I love, those related by blood, and those not.

We all are blessed with family. To the extent we allow people in to our lives, is proportional to the love we experience.  It is available us anytime we wish.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turtle Trio, #6597-7D

© 2012 James W. Murray, all rights reserved.

(click image for larger version)

Details:  March 24, 2012; Canon 7D;  f/11 @ 1/500 sec; — 2/3 EV; ISO 500;
Canon EF 70-300mm  f/4-5.6 L USM  @155mm

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


We are all offered choices.

We don't always like them. We don't always see them. We don't necessarily want to make them.

Choices were not something I understood, nor did any one provide much information in that regard. I used to believe that the way things are now is the way they always would be. It felt as though no matter what I did in my life, I could not effect my fate.

Today, I realize that I am a co-creator in this life, and I do have influence and input to my fate.

Choices are the pavement on the road to happy destiny.

Valley Road, #5383-7D

© 2012 James W. Murray, all rights reserved.

(click image for larger version)

Details: January 21, 2012; Canon 7D; f/11 @ 1/1000 sec; —1 2/3 EV; ISO 160;
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 @16mm