Your Rhythm is your Legacy

Your Rhythm is your Legacy

Painting by Aleksander Lindeberg I wanted to share this glorious teaching I came across recently from professor Patricia Arah Ann Taylor, in “Seeing in the Dark.” In her essay, she traces back the origin of the word enough, to the German & Sanskrit ge’noh, meaning “together reaching.” Rather than thinking of enoughness as something we have to attain, Taylor invites us to think of it as a reaching together with our soul. In a series of imaginal dialogues, Taylor responds to a young department supervisor who’s been critical of her organisational habits. In a powerful and poetic voice, she explains how her internal rhythm is her legacy. How generations of women before her had liberated themselves from slavery, communed with nature, and become educators for the orphaned and excluded. How their rhythms were the legacy they’d earned. And how that legacy required her to be a compassioned advocate for herself, and others, before taking any commands from calendars and clocks. I leave you with a brief meditation below in the hopes that it inspires you to command respect for the legacy of your own inclinations. Full moon love, Toko-pa Enough is...
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2017 Women’s Retreat in Photos

2017 Women’s Retreat in Photos

“Tucked inside the hills and valleys of that wooded fairytale island was a different way of life, and at night, the trees whispered words from the fairy godmothers, enticing me to stay. Our journey brought me into dark spaces through the wilderness that surround me, but I was held and protected by the council of women I joined there. About 20 of us gathered at a beautiful farm, sharing food and dreams and the desire for connecting to something more meaningful than what most of us found at home in our busy lives. As powerful dream symbols reverberated among us throughout the weekend, I was reminded that our humanity is found in community, in reciprocity, and in remembering that we are not alone. The grief of our separateness was healed through our mutual witnessing, and in our willingness to receive as much as we tend to give. My time away sung my soul back to life, and I was amazed with my changing reflection in the mirror each night. Stress, anxiety, and the need for constant doing melted away, leaving nothing but beauty in its place. As I continue to integrate what was discovered on that island into my city life, I’m graced with the imprint that remains. Burning...
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Emergence: A Wisconsin Weekend Dreaming Retreat

Emergence: A Wisconsin Weekend Dreaming Retreat

EMERGENCE 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.   LOCATION: Nestled among the forests and prairie lands of the beautiful St. Croix River Valley, this workshop will be held in...
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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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A video invitation from Toko-pa

A video invitation from Toko-pa

Every year, women come from all over the world to this magical island with the shared intention of dreaming together in council. ‘Embodying the Dream’ is a place of reunion for those of us who crave community with other women dreamers. Whether meeting for the first time or weaving in deeper, we practice at belonging together through embodied dreamwork. To learn more and to  register, click here.  
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The Invisible Temple

The Invisible Temple

Because dreams take us right into the heart of the question for our lives, being in a Dream Lodge is the first time many of us experience true intimacy in community. For this reason, it can be terrifying. We are so used to keeping our inner life a secret that we become distant even from ourselves, suspicious of the images that appear in our dreams. We may believe that we have some particular darkness that, if shared with others, might alienate us for good. Ironically, it is this fear itself which so often keeps us outside of belonging. We are more alike than different, yet we rarely touch this awareness because we practice at excluding ourselves. To varying degrees, we all split our soul-life off from the face we share in public. But perhaps more insidious is how we distance ourselves from those aspects of the Self which are devalued in our families and culture-at-large. The moment we step into the sacred container of a Dream Lodge, it is understood that our purpose is to welcome these refugee aspects of the Self back into belonging. And in the act of sharing this process in community, we instantly create a healing field for others’ lost life to come into inclusion. One by...
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This Too Belongs

This Too Belongs

For all the times someone has asked you how you are, and you felt pressured to say “I am well” when well wasn’t your whole truth. I offer you this, my wish that this writing finds you not just well, but all the things that being human asks of us. And to remind you that your being alive, in all its magnificent and complicated colours, is more than enough for love. This month I came across a powerful piece of writing by Johanna Hedva called Sick Woman Theory which seriously rocked my world. The article (soon to be a book!) is Hedva’s personal story of living with chronic pain and illness, but it’s also the story of anyone who is wrestling to find relevance in a world that aggrandises wellness. Hedva lucidly articulates how ‘wellness’ and ‘sickness’ are treated as a binary of opposites in our culture. And those who fall on the wrong side of those tracks are considered unproductive and therefore excluded from the collective conversation. But perhaps more insidious is how this estranges us from our own pain, our wretched illness, our terrible grief. We are so driven to ‘get well’ that we rarely show any welcoming...
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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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2015 Women’s Dreaming Retreat in Photos

2015 Women’s Dreaming Retreat in Photos

I am still glowing after a miraculous and meaningful retreat held in the mystical embrace of Salt Spring Island. Women came from all over the world with the shared intention of dreaming together in council. Mornings were magic as we tended to our dream journals in shared silence, while the mottled sky bathed us in diffuse light. And then we danced, grieved, laughed and played with our dreams! We dined under Stowel Lake Farm’s vaulted roofs and luxuriated in the land’s many other generosities. And in the evenings we gathered for ceremony around the sacred fire, singing and drumming our longing into the smoke until we collapsed again into the dreaming. In the end, we found we were an ecosystem, breathing but one story; a tapestry of togetherness and belonging. Here in images are but some of these precious women and the moments we...
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The Death Mother

The Death Mother

“Our culture’s wounding and belittling of the feminine and its values has led many mothers to mistrust the world and men to a greater extent than ever before, and this mistrust inevitably becomes part of the emotional heritage of our children.” –  by Massimilla Harris, Ph.D., and Bud Harris, Ph.D., from Into the Heart of the Feminine If you were the child of a mother crippled by her own devaluation, you may have inherited the feeling of being unseen, invalidated, or worse –  with the unspoken communication that you (or some aspect of you) was unwanted or even wished dead. Long after you leave the family home, the tyranny of this archetype that Jungian analyst Marion Woodman calls the Death Mother continues its reign in our psyches. Before you even think about attempting something new, asserting your voice, or stepping towards change, the Death Mother is there. Disapproving, denigrating, even repulsed by your impulse to expression and joy. Like Medusa, she only needs to look at you and raise a single eyebrow for your whole body to turn to stone. Rejection from the one we love most can be so devastating to a young person that we internalise the belief...
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Remothering Day

Remothering Day

To the multitudes of souls out there for whom this day is an excruciating reminder of what you yearn for but have never known, these words are for you. As you know too well, the Good Mother that is emblemized on this day, the one who is culturally exalted for her nurturing, selfless kindness, is only one face of the Mother archetype. If you grew up feeling unseen, invalidated, or with instability, violence or chaos in the home, you will have seen some of her other faces. Because our mothers are our first imprint of the world, that relationship becomes the blueprint for how we relate to life at large. If you experienced a scarcity of love and withholding of affection, the whole world can feel like place you aren’t worthy of belonging. You may dream of wandering in those dangerous, abandoned parts of your psyche where structures go to crumble; what little life there is scrounges and competes for scraps, and there is danger at every turn. Triggers, like today –  where others seem have an abundance of warmth you don’t – can be an express bus to the heart of this desolation district. Revitalisation of this vast and central wound is slow. But the first step to...
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Embodying the Dream: Women’s Retreat in Wales

Embodying the Dream: Women’s Retreat in Wales

  Embodying the Dream A 4-night Dreaming Retreat for Women Dates: Aug 1-5, 2013 Place: Snowdonia, Wales In ancient times, our ancestors saw no separation between us and the cosmos. Nature and humanity were inextricably linked and it was our prayers that kept the sun and moon rising, our rituals which ensured the rain to fall on our crops, and it was our songs which brought the planets into right alignment. Sadly, the Elders who once passed on these ancient customs – wisdom they’d received from their own dreams – have all but vanished. Now it is up to us to become those Elders, to nurture the seeds of our dreams and provide a meaningful inheritance to the young ones who will follow us. In this 4-night retreat we will be living as a Women’s Dreaming Council in the mystical serenity of Cae Mabon, a secluded fairytale village to ourselves in Northern Wales. In our daily sessions we will listen deeply and respectfully to our bodies, engage with the wisdom from our Dreams and enact ritual and song around a sacred fire together under the moon. Along with these central practices, we will also have free time to get to know one another better and explore the vast...
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Dreaming in 2012

Dreaming in 2012

Someone recently asked me, “In your Dreamworking practice, have you seen a collective theme in the kinds of dreams people had in 2012?” I paused for a moment to reflect on the epic tapestry of dreamers I’ve been blessed to work with in this last year, and the answer crystalised. “The Rise of the Feminine. In men and women alike, there is a tenacious chipping away at the internalised, calcified Patriarchy to rouse the long-Sleeping Beauty of the heart. Dreamers are toppling patriarchy’s worst tyrants; Perfectionism, Prestige and Power over others. We are learning to live unsplit-off from our vulnerability and our sacred endowments. Grief, long-stopped up in the body, rushes like a torrent yearning for self-love, fertilising everything. The child-heart remembers its innocence and belonging. We are drawing out the sudden shoots of creativity, vitality and empowerment. We are coronating our inner-authority. We are wearing red and letting our voices be heard. We are, like an ecosystem, carrying our responsibility together.” I can’t wait to see what we dream in 2013.
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A conversation with Moon Woman Rising

A conversation with Moon Woman Rising

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the special fortune to be interviewed in depth by Aja Blanc who runs one of my favourite blogs, Moon Woman Rising on the deep & tender Art of Dreaming.  Here is an excerpt: “So many of us feel a deep longing to offer our gifts to the world, to contribute something meaningful to the deficits of our time, but there are so many sources offering spiritual guidance that it can be hard to know who to trust. But as a student said recently, “The beauty of Dreamwork is that it connects me to my inner teacher, who I know is guiding me to live my life according to me!” And that’s just it – we can think of dreams as Nature, naturing us by way of symbols and stories. There is no outside guidance more creatively genius, or tailor-made for our personal growth – we just have to re-learn the language dreams are speaking, which is the mother-tongue of the soul. Despite the richness of the Sufi tradition, my own family home was very troubled and I left at a young age. With no parental guidance I was, in a sense, forced to turn to my inner world and very quickly learned that it was a source of powerful wisdom and it was...
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Total Eclipse of a Yesterday Me

Total Eclipse of a Yesterday Me

As the tide rises above its own highest mark, it swallows every last reluctant debris. Among them is my body of yesterday, which I have anchored down with stones & prayer and which, like a cicada’s shell, is molted for wings. I recognize the gravity, the all of everything she has pushed through for me. Feet having dug, fingers having scraped, heart having heaved, voice unmuffled I now speak for my underground nymph and her faith. Feeding on root juice and things you can’t prove, her life was an exit tunnelling all the way through. Yes the shedding is long, but the swallowing is quick. I witness the sea lick the last of her lifelessness under, standing taller than my would-be fears, I wonder if she’s left anything in me behind. But my gratitude eclipses the dark fullness of her sorrow; the fractures in her backbone are in me twice firm; into the emptiness of her loss my fullness pours; and where she stood alone, I fly in formation. My heart is her much-deserved award. Gilded and inscribed in defiance, it is for her that I shine.
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Dreamspeak: Owning Your Destroy

Dreamspeak: Owning Your Destroy

For as long as I can remember, New Age gurus have been telling us to “stay in the light.” They tell us to meditate, generate and emanate positivity, warning us that we create our own reality and negative thinking begets negative results. But if you’ve ever found yourself cringing before all that Spiritual Correctness and wondered what was wrong with you, I am here to tell you that you aren’t broken and you don’t need fixing. As an Ambassadress of the Darkness, it is my duty to sing the praises of wrath, rebellion, grief and destruction. I am here to champion the wild, unapologetic  power of nature. I am here to urge us all to drop our composure like sandbags and get stirred up into the real storm of living. While the New Age movement has awakened many to the power of creative intention, it has simultaneously pathologised the negative emotions, striking them from our social palette of acceptability and is driving us all into repression. First of all, what if those negative emotions aren’t wrong, but totally right? What if the real problem is the misguided attitude that we need fixing in the first place? When we try to live up to impossible images of spiritually enlightened,...
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Dreamspeak: Where the Eagles Are

Dreamspeak: Where the Eagles Are

On the morning Annie went into the hospital, I had a dream that Toronto was drowning. It started with a sadness welling up at my windows. When I got up to look out at the city, cars were bobbing around like plastic toys and whole buildings were being swallowed up by water. In the distance was a tsunami, and it was racing towards me. Knowing there wasn’t anywhere to run, I became curiously calm. Within seconds the wave smashed through my windows, took me up on its crest, and began rushing me into the unknown. It was the sound of the phone jangling which woke me up. I stumbled across my shockingly dry room to answer it. Annie Jacobsen; my friend, my mentor, my lighthouse, had been hospitalized in the night. After nine years of wrestling back lymphoma, the cancer had taken hold. A tumour the size of a melon had grown in her belly and she could no longer eat more than ice chips. “You are an artist,” Annie said every time she saw me. At first I thought she was delusional, how relentlessly she spoke that word about me. A word that was too big for me. A word whose shadow I cowered in. But she said it again and again; on every visit, in every letter, and she managed to find it in every...
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Dreamspeak: Falling the Stone Wall

Dreamspeak: Falling the Stone Wall

Dear Toko-pa; In my first dream, I am married. I am at my parents’ helping build a stone wall and this spouse-person keeps calling and asking where I am, telling me I am the type of person who only does what is best for me – how I am unreliable, ambivalent and untrustworthy – but that he still loves me. My father is building the wall all wrong – it keeps falling down. He doesn’t listen to me or admit that the plans I’d drawn up were functional. Sweat in my eyes, arms aching, hands bleeding, I throw down my load of rocks. This isn’t worth it, I say, none of this is worth it In the second dream I am traveling in high desert country alone. Rocky and gray. Carefully, I select a chador; it takes me a great deal of time to figure out the proper way to wear it and the relief as I finally cover my hair, wash my face free of make-up, is palpable. The air is cold and thin and I walk through a market and buy food from women then ride in a truck with men and guns. In this dream, I feel so safe. – Alma Dear Alma; Your stonewalling project make me very curious about the origins of your ambivalence towards relationship. How much is your dad’s example falling apart for you now?...
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Bleed Willingly – A Fresh View of Depression

Bleed Willingly – A Fresh View of Depression

“My mother slept with an axe under her pillow,” one woman recounts in a plaintive voice, “We lived in terror that my father would return to murder us in the night. For some reason, I don’t know why, but I was always expected to be happy.” Inside a recent video installation at the Power Plant Gallery in Toronto, Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez has installed two facing screens at opposite ends of a long, dark room. While Carl Dreyer’s 1928 silent masterpiece La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc plays on one screen, intimate interviews with twelve women living inside Rozelle Hospital, a mental institution in Australia, play on the other. Jeanne d’Arc, whose claim to divine revelation got her burnt at the stake in 1431, is shown on the left enduring a brutal inquisition by the Church. On the right, one of the youngest Rozelle women tells of being committed for being too expressive in class. Looking from left to right, from Jeanne’s torture to the heartbreaking stories of the locked-up women, a strong case is made for their relationship. Six centuries later, very little has changed. According to a recent study by the University of Toronto, prescriptions for...
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Diva la Revolution!

Diva la Revolution!

My girlfriends who are still using tampons look confused when I tell them I actually look forward to my period now – but that’s just because they don’t know about the Diva Cup yet. “It’s ovalutionary!” I exclaim, but that doesn’t help me appear any saner. When I first heard about the cup, it sounded a little too…rustic for me. Despite my decidedly feminist leanings, I was attached to my tampons. They were fresh and white, (unlike the way I felt once a month), and when I was done with them I could flush the evidence into oblivion without a second thought. That said, shelling out $15 every couple of months for a pile of disposable cotton made me crazy, especially knowing that on top of bleeding every month, I was ‘being bled’ by massive earth-destroying corporations. At the time, I had no idea that I (and 70% of 73 million menstruating women) was predicted to use about 11,000 tampons in my lifetime. Or that, in the USA alone, 7 billion tampons and 13 billion sanitary pads and their packaging make their way into landfills and sewage systems every year. The truth was I just didn’t know I had options. It was only when Macleans Magazine ran a controversial story in December 2005,...
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