Oct 182017
Sep 042017

Artwork by Cloudy Thurstag

We took a wonderful walk yesterday, around a conservancy project here on our island. It’s very quiet there, off the beaten track, a haven to a growing number of diverse species of animals and plants. Previously a golf course, this gorgeous land is now regrowing its wild self. It’s the result of a complete transformation that began five years ago.

It wasn’t as simple as leaving it alone. Pipes have been removed from deep in the earth, hundreds of native species have been replanted, nurselogs have been introduced. And, most importantly, a fence is surrounding it so it will be protected, left to become the thriving wetland it once once.

Rewilding the psyche is like this. We must look at the ways in which our unconscious has been harnessed, and narrowly directed, removing those limitations so it can flow freely. Dreamwork is a powerful way to do this, because we are shown in every dream what unconscious patterns we might be stuck in, but we’re also given wildly creative solutions to our questions.

Then we must plant new seeds of inspiration, from books and other mentors who reflect our native self back to us, and introduce any other good habits which return us to our souls. But then we must build an unimpeachable boundary around our lives in order to protect the gradual process of remediation.

For many, this boundary is primarily to keep the needs and demands of others at bay. But often we also need a more intimate form of remediation. The fence which protects and values our spiritual and creative life above all else. We are so used to giving this time up first, as if it were expendable. But at a certain point everyone comes to realise that the quality of what they are giving is only so rich as the soil from which it’s been harvested.

So like the golf-course-come-wild-habitat, a complete reversal of our priorities is necessary. Instead of overploughing our creativity, we need to invest in its protection. While it may seem like the boundaries you are creating are selfish, they are actually improving the conditions for your generosity.

Click here to pre-order my new book Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home

While it may seem like the boundaries you are creating are selfish, they are actually improving the conditions for your generosity.Click To Tweet

Aug 212017

Illustration by Rory Kurtz

The fear of criticism is legitimate. Many empowerment gurus will tell you to “Just do it!” and “Don’t let fear hold you back!” But the truth is, as soon as you brave your gifts into the world, it’s very likely that the wolves will appear to say you aren’t doing it well enough. So the question shouldn’t be if you will be criticised, but whether or not you’re willing to take the hit.

Before you make your decision, it’s important to know that there are two major consequences to your shrinking back: The first is the truncation of your soul’s purpose. Ouch, right? Well, something inclined you to create in the first place and, as most creative folks know, the creative cycle can’t complete itself until your gifts are received — for better or worse. Also, that urge to create? It’s not going away. The second consequence is the loss felt by everyone who will never receive the unique medicine you are meant to bring.

So ultimately you have to decide; are you willing to take the hit on behalf of all those who need exactly what you’re bringing? Or will you let them take the hit, by your remaining quiet?

So the question shouldn't be if you will be criticised, but whether or not you're willing to take the hit.Click To Tweet

Criticism is essential to our being shaped as individuals, as well as creatives. Given respectfully, criticism can be one of the most precious gifts in the world. But of course there are those critics who take cheap shots just be contrary, or to parade their own virtue.

Learning to differentiate between cheap and meaningful criticism is a huge part of becoming resilient. You can tell the difference between a critic who is an ally, and one who is a frustrated creative themselves, by how kindly (and privately) they deliver their reflections. An ally-critic will take as much care in offering you their reflections as you did in creating your offering.

If what they say resonates for you, even in an uncomfortable way, it’s meaningful criticism. Criticism like this will help shape you into a better writer, a better artist, a better person. But if it’s delivered with poison or shame, and doesn’t connect with some part of you that feels the same way, then it isn’t worth giving any energy to it.

Easier said than done, hey? How do you not let a cheap criticism get under your skin? In a way, you don’t have to. Even cheap criticism can serve you in that it forces you to articulate, even for yourself, what you stand for.

But just because the voice of your critics is loud, doesn’t mean it’s valuable. Once you’ve figured out where you stand, it’s important to listen to the other voices, which are likely far more numerous, letting praise or gratitude really penetrate you. If you have trouble receiving encouragement, I recommend buying a special journal in which to collect positive feedback about your work. You can also chronicle the moments you feel in alignment and well-being in your creative process.

Resilience is also trusting in the goodness of your intention. There is a vibratory signature on everything we create, whether we intend it or not, and this signature will be recognized by anyone who is on the same wavelength as you.

None of us are perfect, even though we feel enormous pressure to be, say, and do everything right. But if you are trying your best and putting your imperfect thing into the world, you are already defying the odds.

So be willing to be seen, that others who need what you’re bringing will also be emboldened to give their gifts. You won’t die from criticism. Either it will shape you into a better version of yourself, or give you an opportunity to pivot towards what you really value.

Pre-order a copy of Toko-pa’s book: Belonging

Jun 212017

Artwork by Caroline Maniere

“The Summer Solstice is not a time for modesty. The wild world is not shy about its beauty and gifts. Plants and creatures are engaged in a no-holds-barred life-fest of blossoming and flourishing, each according to its unique essence, place, and purpose in this glorious weaving of Mother Earth.” – The Path of She, by Karen Clark

There is a wildness in each of us. A way of walking, a set of spots, an inclination, a blinking impulse towards which we are silently drawn. Like an elephant finding water in a desert it’s never traveled, or a bird coming to fly with brand new wings, we all have this instinctual capacity. It is the animal in us, which knows what it knows, and is the origin from which all creativity is expressed.

But in my practice I work with many medicine people who have sent their gifts for dreaming, seeing, and creativity into exile. These gifts, often forged in the belly of trauma, are sent into hiding because the world feels too hostile to use them in the open.

Many take the path well-worn instead, because it guarantees safety. The way has been mapped and we know were it leads. But the price we pay is the life half-lived. To those willing to brave the dark thicket of fear and grief for the chance of an encounter with the true self, there is a promise, a remembering, a returning to love, magic, and purpose.

There is a wildness under our skin which wants nothing more than to dance until our feet are sore, sing our beautiful grief into the rafters, and offer our bottomless cup of creativity as a way of life. Originality is really the practice of unhindering what’s already there. By originality, I mean that Grandmother Well, from which every human being drinks. That which is dreaming us. You might call it god, nature, source, instinct, but whatever word you use, it is the great unfolding through us.

This is not a time for modesty. Take a page from the book of Nature, which is blooming and buzzing and proliferating with abandon. Let yourself be expressed as the earth is, with a generosity that comes from encountering your own plenty.

Solstice is not a time for modesty. Let yourself be expressed as Nature; with abandon.Click To Tweet

Know that unhindering yourself is essential to belonging because your creative offering is like a holy signal to those who carry a similar vibratory signature. In hearing or seeing what you’ve created, they will find a sense of belonging with you and, in being found, so will you with them.

Speaking of which! You should really think about joining us for our annual Women’s Dreaming Retreat, here on our island paradise! We have about 5 spots left and the earlybird registration snuck up on us, ending in just a month, on July 20th!

This text has been adapted from my forthcoming book Belonging, due for release in early autumn! If you’d like to read more about this, sign up for my free mailing list here.

Apr 282017

Artwork by Federico Infante

Without the guidance of our elders, and the wisdom found in stories, myth and dreaming, we in modern culture are mirroring an increasingly distorted image of the externalised life. Take for example ‘Reality Television’ which portrays human nature as competitive, jealous, violent and shallow. These are the stories of our time, and by paying them with our attention we further emphasise those cultural qualities.

Like a question that goes unanswered, we recreate conflict and violence for entertainment, as if on an endless loop. While it may feel entertaining to watch such unconscious images, they are lacking in real nutrition and take an enormous psychic toll. The reinforcement of those values narrows the band of our mythic imagination.

People praise this kind of anti-storytelling because, “it’s more like real life.” But I believe it’s a mistake to think of stories with a redemptive quality as unrealistic, because their function is not to reflect ‘real life,’ but rather to rescue the events of our lives from randomness, restoring them to meaning.

The function of stories is not to reflect real life, but to rescue it from randomness.Click To Tweet

Excerpted from the forthcoming book on “Belonging” 2017 © Toko-pa Turner: To read more, sign up for Toko-pa’s free newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/jtRaL

Mar 142017

Artwork by Audrey Niffenegger

Try as we might, there is no inoculation against shadow. No matter how dedicated we are to piety, good health or selfless service, we cannot distance ourselves from the grit and grime of being alive. The shadow will always find a way to enter our lives, but the artfulness is in how we dance with it, the degree to which we follow its lead.

There is a powerful groupmind so pervasive that it is almost undetectable, which advocates for mass inoculation against shadow. It offers myriad activities and substances to keep us from depression, rebellion, anxiety and restlessness. It may even talk about shadow in a homeopathic way, offering us small, safe doses of theory and jargon, instilling the false confidence that we have any reign over chaos.  But until we become truly intimate with darkness, which is to say, respectful of that dangerous and powerful Mother, reverent of her compulsory initiations by wrath and grief, we are only making ourselves more susceptible to her possession.

What is it to refuse inoculation? It is to aspire to our own humanity. Stepping away from the protective, controlled, masked persona to let ourselves be seen as we are.

Just as fire can transform food from its raw form into something digestible, our darknesses are radical transformers. Instead of airbrushing our personalities, we should practice at exaggerating our blemishes, leaning into our stagnancy, wounding and discomforts. If we really want to evolve, all we have to do is be more expressly where we are.

As an Ambassadress of the Darkness, my message to embrace these darker emotions is sometimes misinterpreted as an invitation to wallow in, or let your base impulses run wild. But what I’m really talking about is getting out from under spiritual override long enough to acknowledge the validity of your feelings.  Instead of affirming whatever emotion is arising, override is when we put up resistance to conflictual feelings by telling ourselves we shouldn’t feel that way, we don’t want that pain, we should be more evolved, less emotional, stronger, etc. To inhabit our feelings is another way of saying belonging to the true breadth of our experience. Yessing your conflict doesn’t mean staying in it. It means making a compassionate encounter with your difficult feelings, until they reveal their hidden intelligence.

Excerpted from the forthcoming book on “Belonging” 2017 © Toko-pa Turner (To read more, sign up for Toko-pa’s free newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/jtRaL )

Jan 022017

Artwork by Daria Hlazatova

I’ve heard it said that when your heroes die, it is a call to step into their empty shoes and walk in such a way which demonstrates what you’ve inherited from them.

The heroes we lost this year were living examples of unabashedness. They expressed themselves without filters, accentuated their differences and flaunted their eccentricities. I certainly aspire to this kind of expression in art, but also in life.

For me, this year has been about stepping into personal power. We are in this pivotal time in history when many of us find ourselves standing on opposing sides of a dangerous disagreement. We are learning about taking a stand for what we believe, even when it makes us unpopular. While there is always wisdom in listening to different viewpoints, some moments call for us to be unequivocal.

Joseph Campbell once said that the thing all heroes have in common is their willingness to die for what they believe. I would just add that in that willingness, we become truly alive.

My 2017 invocation for you, dear Dreamer, is that you recognise with increasing vividness that you know what you know. May this year find you less and less inclined to self-doubt, meekness and hesitation. May you be willing to be unlikeable, but in the process be utterly loved. May you be impervious to the wrongful projections of others, and may you deliver your no with precision and grace. May you see with the consummate clarity of nature moving through you that your voice is not only necessary, but desperately needed to sing us out of this muddle. May you feel shored up, supported and reassured as you venture into the next year with your precious offerings and bold choices. May you know for certain that even as you stand by yourself, you are not alone.

All my love for a wickedly wonderful year ahead,

If you’d like to receive my monthly letters with original writing delivered to your inbox,  click here to subscribe to my mailing list.

Dec 072016


A Weekend Retreat with Toko-pa

Date: March 24-26th, 2017
Place: Osceola, Wisconsin

Emergence never happens all at once. It is a slow stepping into the expanded capacity of your next self. You may need practice at releasing in those places you’ve grown accustomed to bracing which, like a tight swaddle, was comforting in its limits. But when the time to remain hidden comes to its natural end, you must begin to inhabit your new dimensionality, breathe into the fullness of your gaining altitude and consider that what presents itself as fear may actually be exhilaration. As your future approaches you, worry less how it may receive you and say a prayer instead for your becoming approachable.

In this luscious 3-day retreat, Toko-pa will be offering a deeper look at and demonstration of some of the core practices in her approach to dreamwork especially as it relates to emergence into the life of our longing. This retreat offers a blend of instruction, practice and ritual. Participants are encouraged to bring a dream or two they’d like to work on.


Continue reading »