Winter Solstice Rituals

Winter Solstice Rituals

As we approach the longest night of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere, it is helpful to remember that we too are being called into our deepest dark. Down into the places we hide from view; where we store our grief, where we brace and hold, and where we may be unforgiving too. When we speak of the ‘returning of the light’ it isn’t just the physical grace that this season provides, but a call to our own revealing. The Winter Solstice is a time to acknowledge our untruths, to surrender our silences, to dethrone our inner tyrants and bare our stories in the open. These are the acts which connect the fabric of our lives to each other, and to the whole of truthfulness. If you’re new to celebrating the Solstice, know that any time is a good time to birth new traditions. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started. Creating a Solstice Altar: Just the act of foraging and creating an altar which you can elaborate over the holy days is a potent act, helping to both acknowledge the dark, as well as call forward illumination. 1. Using any surface – from a mantlepiece to a small table – begin by laying a pretty scarf or fabric. 2. Then collect and arrange some...
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Criticism: Are you willing to take the hit?

Criticism: Are you willing to take the hit?

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...
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New Year’s Invocations

New Year’s Invocations

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...
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2016 Women’s Dreaming Retreat in PHOTOS 

2016 Women’s Dreaming Retreat in PHOTOS 

We had an incredible week at the 2nd Annual Dreaming Retreat with a phenomenal group of gorgeous women! It was full of ritual, beauty and catharsis and as soon as it was over, we began to speak of next year’s gathering. We began our circle of togetherness over a delectable organic feast, followed by an evening of ceremony in which we put words to our deepest longing, inaugurating our Dream Altar with sacred adornments and song. Our mornings were shared in silence to tend to our dream journals, making the transition between worlds almost seamless. Then we would gather under the arched roof of Stowel Lake Farm’s ‘Gatehouse’ to be in circle again, where we would share our dreams and partake in each other’s wisdom. Our evenings were spent around the sacred fire in the orchard, singing, storytelling or otherwise making things sacred under a starry sky. We deeply enjoyed the island and went on a beautiful excursion through the forest to a peninsula on the ocean. There was an enormous amount of wisdom and creativity in this group! The more time we spent together the more treasures emerged! There is something about the quality of women who are attracted to...
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Cultivating Creative Originality

Cultivating Creative Originality

There is an often terrifying emptiness which precedes creativity. This is the stage, in the creative process, when people are frozen by the invalidation which says, “What you are working on is not original. Others have done it sooner, done it better, so why embarrass yourself with trying.” And with the weight of that thought, so many projects sink back into hiding, the divine longing to sing into the great song silenced. But what if originality is not something we invent, so much as an utterance through us by our origins. By origins I mean that inexhaustible well from which every human being drinks; and which is dreaming us. You might call it god, nature, source, divinity, but whatever word you use, it is this great unfolding of which our lives are but a single thread. Originality then becomes about tracking your own becoming. Instead of clambering for growth and productivity, it is the practice of respecting idleness. To hear our original voice, we must gestate in the dark, whose source is vast and terrifying and requires us to suspend our ambitions. Originality comes when you stay close to that emptiness, making it hospitable, adorning it with your longing, refining...
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The Bravery of Being Seen

The Bravery of Being Seen

I wanted to share a meaningful experience with you that I had recently, when I was invited to teach in a small community of like-hearted women, who not only live on a remote island, off-the-grid, but for whom sharing dreams is a way of life. Imagine if you can a small village of people who depend on each other for fresh food, emotional and physical support, a shared economy, and all the ordeals between birth and death. But then who also meet every week, to share their dreams! I was moved by how really brave it is to live with such transparency. When the most intimate material of your inner life is allowed into a trusted circle, you become able to live inclusively of your shadows and weaknesses, your aches and longings. And by extension, how inclusive you learn to be with others. So often I experience the quiet terror most people feel in being seen, being heard. And yet, to be seen, to be heard is the thing we want more than anything in the world. But because so many experience criticism, dismissal or invalidation the moment we brave our voice, our art, our vulnerability into the open, we learn instead to be silent, to be covered, to be small. It’s a matter of survival....
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Raising your Havingness Ceiling

Raising your Havingness Ceiling

When I first heard the term “havingness” about 15 years ago, I was immediately intrigued by this unusual word. More than an accounting of what you already have, havingness is the state of your capacity to have.  It isn’t just what’s in our possession, but it is the quality of how we treat what we have, and how open we are to holding more. More than material things, it is our ability to receive appreciation, experience joy and enthusiasm, follow through on the worth of our ideas, and ultimately receive love. Each of us has a kind of ceiling on havingness, which says ‘this is as much as I deserve’ and we may settle there, believing we can not do better. And if someone challenges us to raise that ceiling, we may find ourselves arguing for our limitations; “my parents struggled so should I; everyone settles, it’s the practical thing to do; I haven’t succeeded, met someone, been discovered yet, so why waste any more energy dreaming of the impossible?” But when we dig a little deeper into our reasons for keeping our havingness ceiling low, we may find that there is a silent contract we’ve made with ourselves to settle in a limitation because, in some way, it’s actually...
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Commitment: The Container of Creativity

Commitment: The Container of Creativity

When we hear the word commitment, most of us think of obligation and restriction. After all, modern life is already so heavily structured,  we’d much rather ‘see what happens’ and ‘go with the flow.’ So we may avoid making commitments. Or if we do make them, we keep them ‘soft,’ in the event that something shinier comes along. We change careers an average of 7 times in adulthood, half of all marriages end in divorce, we communicate in the undemanding ways of text messages and emoticons, infinitely scrolling, rarely giving the fullness of our presence to anything. And by extension, we are growing to expect that life should be immediate and convenient. But what if convenience is really a sham? It proposes to make your life easier, and there are obvious benefits, but there are often hidden tolls being taken elsewhere. Easy puts work into robotic hands, undermining our own necessity. Easy destroys the mentoring relationship. Easy robs us of the privilege of courtship, the very thing which bonds us to a place and its resources, or a craft and the people who’ve made a slow mastery of their lives.  Consider the ancient alchemists who, despite...
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The World is your Altar

The World is your Altar

There is always this tension between the lengths we wish to travel in life and the depths we long to penetrate in dreaming. By dreaming, I mean not only the sacred transmissions we receive in the night, but the dreaming we also do in the day: Listening to the wiseness of a moment, an encounter, a humble patch of land. Engaging with magic in an ongoing conversation. There is so much in eternity that is trying to reach us, if only we can suspend our wranglings long enough to be touched. What is wild in us are the ways in which we meet something freshly and not by rote. Wild is to be full-body alive in response to the conversation life is having with us. The caress of the wind which cools your skin after the sun has penetrated it with warmth. The shadow cast by a soaring bird above. The spider, intent on making a home of nothing. The unmediated glance, surprised by beauty. Dreaming. When this conversation goes quiet from inattention, as it does for us all, know that it takes little to encourage it again. It is simply to remember that life isn’t only happening to us, but we are happening to life! Instead of burying the longing we have for our lives, we honour it with our...
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Tending the Well

Tending the Well

In Celtic Mythology, the holy well is considered the source of all life. Certainly because it is the concealed origin from which water springs, but also because it is a gateway between the worlds; seen and unseen. Originally regarded as the domain of the Earth Mother, holy wells were places to which one would make a pilgrimage to offer gratitude for the riches of village life, petition the well priestesses and fairies for healing, and if you slept near one, you might even receive dreams foretelling the future. It was understood that if one of these wells would fall into disrepair, the village was at risk of losing not only their literal life-source, but their connection to the Otherworld. Each of us faces a time when when the holy well within needs tending. When we’re no longer able to bestow blessings on others because we’ve overgiven, or when something precious has been taken from us, or life’s demands are too great on our fragile system. But when the moisture goes out of our lives, and we’re no longer able to see beauty or converse with magic, we must ask ourselves how we can replenish our well-ness. Too often, we fall into the misguided belief that the...
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Lostness & The Call of Momentum

Lostness & The Call of Momentum

We all lose our bearing from time to time. Whether precipitated by a major event, or a gradual becoming lost, this is when the horizon you had been following disappears – and in its place, a persistent anxiety searches for the new direction of our lives. But from what have we become lost, or dis-located, and how can come into location again? The first thing lostness makes obvious is that whatever we’d been following, though it may have provided a seasonal purpose, has now fallen away. It has completed its resonance with our lives, taken what it needs of our service, and we must now come into relationship with our next becoming. But we can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we stand. In our lostness we have a chance at coming to know our enduring values, and learning to stand behind them unequivocally. This way, when something inferior comes calling for your sponsorship, you’ll know it instantly and turn it away. Because to settle for halfway love is to drift further into dislocation. We also can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know from what we originate. The loss of purpose that so many of us feel is greater...
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The Handmade Life

The Handmade Life

The longing to handmake things overtook me some years ago when I was gifted a deerskin medicine pouch by a friend in ceremony. She had learned to skin & tan the hide herself, working it until the tassels hung gently and the slipknot moved gracefully along its braided path. Instantly, I felt a longing in me to know things with my hands as she did, since music, writing and dreamwork are all intangible arts. Since then, I’ve set about accumulating skills in basketry, lightsculpture, knotwork, and recently crochet (!) finding myself inextinguishably thrilled by how the objects I make seemed to live a life of their own once they leave my hands. I think it’s because when we put in the long efforts into bringing beauty into the world, we are honouring that which made us by creating as we have been created. We are taught to respect the slow, attentive piecing together of the life we yearn for. Stitch by stitch, we apprentice the craft. We work in tandem with mystery, feeling its rhythms awaken in our bone-memory. And we realise the patience it takes to make a life materialise. There are no shortcuts, and it can’t be done cheaply, or en masse. The work is small, the...
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DIY Solstice Tree

DIY Solstice Tree

A few years ago, I posted about Birthing New Traditions during the holiday time, and when I shared a photo of my DIY Solstice Tree, made entirely from bits found on the forest floor,  I was amazed to see it go viral! I’ve had so many requests since then to explain how the tree is made so with the help of my sweet friend Luma, here is a step-by-step process for anyone who might like to try one for themselves. Step 1: Step 2: Step Three: Decorate and TA...
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Online Dreamwork Courses: New dates!

Online Dreamwork Courses: New dates!

Sweet Dreamers! By popular demand, I’m excited to announce new dates for both of my online courses, Dreamwalking & the Dream Lodge Dreamwalking is a 4-week intensive that explores the mystical, magical language of Dreams (February 8th – March 5th, 2016): The Dream Lodge is an intimate 8-week mentorship program for 13 women who have completed Dreamwalking and want to go deeper into the feminine mysteries with a dreaming council March 15th – May 3rd,...
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Comparison is Essential

Comparison is Essential

  To compare yourself to another is an organic impulse vital to the unfolding of individuality. In our admiration of someone, we encounter the undeveloped qualities we have yet to step into, while in our healthy disdain, we come to know our refusals. Both are essential to developing a standpoint in the world. But after comparison, you must pull back to the inner earth-work of cultivating those qualities, weeding out those rejections, and cross-pollinating your own originality into the mix, or comparison might freeze you in stasis. Learning to trust Nature is the next responsibility of comparison. As extensions of her, we require our differences to thrive and we must shelter them in remembering that we are in service to that which dances us. As we draw down into that commonality, we come to know that true humility is not making yourself smaller, but recognizing that we are all the same size: Necessary. To read more, sign up for Toko-pa’s free newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/jtRaL
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‘The Power of Silence’ [video] and Autumn 2015 Events

‘The Power of Silence’ [video] and Autumn 2015 Events

Silence is a power because it keeps what’s tender, what’s vulnerable away from the violences of scrutiny, dismissal and exile. But when does silence turn upon its keeper and become the captor? Please enjoy my new video below, speaking on the power of silence kept and broken, and how dreamsharing fosters intimacy in community. Also some quick announcements: I have extended the earlybird price to September 1st on the upcoming Dreaming Retreat on Salt Spring Island (November 20-22, 2015). I have just announced a new Online Dream Lodge (Sept 8 – Oct 27th) set in a time zone (3pm Pacific) especially conducive for Australia (9am AEST). Also in September, I will be coming to Montreal to present at the Conscious Heart Conference (Sept 25-27th, 2015). Find out more details below. Lots of love, Toko-pa Dreaming Retreat for Women Salt Spring Island (Nov 20-22, 2015) In this weekend retreat we will be living as a Women’s Dreaming Council in the mystical serenity of Salt Spring Island. In our daily gatherings we will work deeply with the wisdom of our Dreams, share story, ceremony and song around a sacred fire, and play with embodiment of our dreams. The intention of this...
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Stretching the Receiving Muscle

Stretching the Receiving Muscle

We’ve all heard the old adage, “It’s better to give than to receive.” And, surely enough, many of us have great difficulty in receiving – praise, help, love and support. Perhaps it is because underneath this seemingly pious phrase is the suggestion that to receive is to be the weak one, the needy one, the poor one. From this perspective, most of us would rather be the ‘giver’ than the ‘taker.’ Which I think, incidentally, is nuts – because giving and receiving happen simultaneously – like pollination, they are interdependent acts. So why do we hear nothing about the courage it takes to receive? Taken to its extreme, giving can even become pathological. We may give and give so much that we run ourselves ragged. We may even hang our whole persona on the misguided belief that if we aren’t always offering, providing and producing, that we could lose our standing in the world. But consider that receptivity is more than just a physical act; it is a rich set of qualities which allow us to live in reciprocity with our Selves, each other and the earth. These yin-based attributes include dreaming, listening, feeling, intuiting, waiting and perceiving. But because our...
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Cultivate the Connection

Cultivate the Connection

This week I had the privilege to be interviewed alongside one of my great mentors, Martín Prechtel, by the lovely and insightful Heidi Huebner of Bluebird Hill Homestead, for a new podcast series Cultivate the Connection! I hope you enjoy these lively and insightful discussions about how to come back into connection and belonging through dreamwork, grief and a living conversation with the holy in nature: Listen here          
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Courting the Mystery

Courting the Mystery

In this age of instantly answerable questions, there is very little mystery left intact. Governed as we are by the great scientific quest which pulls things apart to get at their mechanics, we are desperate for that which returns us to cohesion. One of the greatest challenges in approaching dreams, which is but an echo of our relationship with the Earth, is allowing mystery to work upon us. There are certain questions which, as the poet David Whyte puts it, ‘have no right to go away.’ There is a delicate alchemy which brews in our not-knowing and which is essential to our becoming worthy of the dream’s revelation. As Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes tells us, there are those ancients who referred to the dreammaker as ‘The Riddle Mother’ because when you carry your question into sleep, she responds to it with a riddle. Like any good fairy tale, the task is not to find an answer, but to become the kind of person who knows which way to go. The task is not to find an answer, but to become the kind of person who knows which way to go.Click To Tweet If you feel dissatisfied with Dream Dictionaries, which reduce your symbols to mean something other than they are,...
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Where is my vital edge?

Where is my vital edge?

As human beings, I think we are always walking a line between the creative and destructive. We are both compelled by our wild nature into new forms of living, while also aching for the stability and constancy of belonging. You may have known times when you were just one or the other. Maybe you came all the way untethered and saw what dangers and addictions, what loneliness comes with being rogue. Or somewhere, along the way, perhaps you made an internal vow to be ‘the responsible one’. But responsibility can be just as dangerous as rebellion. It can come on like quicksand, burying you in its requirements, turning your life a platonic hue. What may have started with an edge of penance, now crowds out the very rebellion which kept you feeling alive. Like the wise words of a young man who climbed the ladder only to discover more ladders, “I wish I’d made more mistakes.” And so we must find a way to walk between these things; alternately separating or uniting. Sometimes singing into the great choir of belonging means having a dissenting voice. At other times, the shelter we’ve built must be maintained as a refuge for others, and our creativity. At any given time we...
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