Being Schooled at the WorldSchoolers’ Conference

Last month we had the pleasure of speaking at the Worldschooling Summit, here, in Guanajuato Mexico. I was completely and utterly blown away.

I met very, healthy, and autonomous kids from Australia who’d just arrived from the United Emirates the night before with their family of five. Even though jet lagged, they sat right next to me and asked me “who” I was and where I came from. I found out what books they were reading and how they both loved and felt challenged by living internationally.

Another teen came up to me and expressed how happy she was to be in a “slow travel” groove with her family right now while going to a Catholic school in Columbia run by nuns. Her Mom has arranged it that she gets to go to classes and engage in the extra curricular activities but that she does not need to do the homework OR write any of the tests.

I had the pleasure of sitting, over lunch, with another teen who lives on a permaculture farm in the United States whose family takes extended travel stints all over the world. He stated that he’d like to fashion his life to live more off-grid like many of the other kids attending the conference and that he’s working on going to China for a teen retreat with many of the other youth at the conference travelling solo.

I met a family, like us, who live much of their year in a colonial town near us here in Mexico. Their father built software for music teachers and their mother is a life coach. The kids are self-educated. Last week, while their mom was in the States for a conference, they wanted to prepare all the meals at home. So their Dad helped the three of them to look up recipes online, get the groceries and prepare the meals while he ran his business behind the scenes, available to help them at a moments notice.

In this exercise, they learned about food, shopping, commerce and chemistry and viable necessary life skills. So much about “unschooling” is being able to adapt to the present circumstances and developing one’s inner resources. Many of the kids I met are bi- or tri-lingual. One family with a single Mom from Montreal who live in Mexico speak 5 languages fluently.

All this communing with folks has helped to broaden my knowledge base around what it means to be worldschooled. How this naturally builds empathy, compassion and ingenuity in unfamiliar places with folks who you often must rely on for your safety and purveyance in everyday life. It’s humbling and restores your faith in the goodness of everyday people.

It’s true that I fell head over heels in love with these amazing individuals and that I too have the heart of a worldschooler. I can’t wait to teach more on how to be a successful digital nomad and raise free range kids who’re citizens of the world.

Three Facts You Need To Know About Dental Mercury, By Amanda Just and John Kall, DMD of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT)

This article has been reprinted with permission from

1. All silver-colored dental fillings, also called amalgams, contain approximately 50% mercury, and dental mercury is still being used in the USA.

In 2013, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) formalized a global convention to reduce mercury usage, which includes initiatives to phase down the use of dental mercury.  The UNEP mercury convention will come into force on August 16, 2017, and as part of this effort, the European Union is taking action on dental mercury.  A new EU mercury regulation plans to prohibit the use of amalgam for vulnerable populations (pregnant or breastfeeding women, children under 15 years old) and provide for discussion about the feasibility of ending dental amalgam use in the European Union by 2030.

Prior to the 2017 ratification of UNEP’s mercury treaty, other countries had already taken protective actions against dental mercury.  For example, Norway and Sweden have banned dental amalgam, and Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Japan have reportedly limited its use to less than 5% of tooth restorations.  However, mercury fillings are still used on about 45% of direct dental restorations worldwide, including in the United States.

All silver colored dental fillings, which are still being used in the USA, contain about 50% mercury.

2. Mercury vapor is released from these fillings into the human body, and this dental mercury has been linked to health risks.

Mercury vapor is continuously emitted from dental amalgam which means that people are directly exposed to the mercury in their mouths.  The output of mercury vapor can be intensified by the number of fillings and other activities, such as chewing, teeth-grinding, and the consumption of hot liquids.  Mercury is also known to be released during the placement, replacement, and removal of dental mercury amalgam fillings.

Scientific researchers have associated this mercury in amalgam fillings with Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), antibiotic resistance, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, autoimmune disorders/immunodeficiency, cardiovascular problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, hearing loss, infertility, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and an array of other health problems. Click here to learn more about the potential health risks of dental mercury.

3. Safety measures can reduce the amount of mercury vapor released during the removal of amalgam fillings.

Some patients require the removal of silver amalgam fillings due to device failure, while others opt for the removal of silver amalgam fillings because of cosmetic purposes (white-colored fillings match the teeth better) or because they prefer to have dental fillings that do not contain mercury. However, the process of drilling out amalgam fillings liberates quantities of mercury vapor and fine particulates that can be inhaled and absorbed through the lungs, and this is potentially harmful to patients, dentists, dental workers, and their fetuses.

The application of specific safety measures can reduce the potential negative health outcomes of mercury exposure during the amalgam removal process.  It is crucial for patients to know what these safety measures are so that they can insure these practices are implemented during the removal of amalgam fillings.

These writers co-authored a chapter about the health risks of dental mercury that was published in a textbook about epigenetics from Springer in 2016.

Amanda Just, MS:  Ms. Just is the Program Director of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxiciology.  She is also a freelance writer and dental consumer who has shared her writings about the impact of dental mercury amalgam fillings with the United Nations Environment Programme, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and various NGOs.

John Kall, DMD:  Dr. Kall serves as the Chairman of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxiocology’s Board of Directors.  He is a member of the American Dental Association, a fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), Past President of the KY Chapter of the AGD, a member of the Louisville Dental Society, and a member of the Kentucky Dental Association.

Worldschooler’s Summit and The Launch of Hemp Gitchies

February 2018 Newsletter

This month (January 2018) I’m speaking at the World Schoolers Summit, here in Guanajuato, MX. They’re a group of international digital nomads who are mostly educating their kids while living around the world. I’ve been connected to them online for well over a decade.

Way back when our kids were little, I thought it was very important to expand their cultural horizons. I chose to expose them to individuals from different countries, cultures, languages, and family dynamics. I didn’t want them to think that their bubble of relative privilege was all there was to life. I wanted to mentor empathy for them. The World Schoolers group helped me to keep my vision true to its purpose.

Back then, I had to get creative as we were fairly limited financially given that Jeff and I were both studying at the postgraduate level and the kids were in private Waldorf schools. There was more money going out the door than coming in. We also had a farm, a kids camp that we ran in the summer and also a community garden where a few friends came from the city to grow their food.

We had international students live with us while attending school in Ottawa, Canada during the school year. There goal was to increase their fluency in English. A couple of them came from Madrid, Spain and also Veracruz, Mexico. The latter gal grew up in a grand hacienda with maids and a cook. Another girl’s mother had been tragically killed in a bombing in the subway in Spain. We loved on her like our own. Now that I look back, it’s interesting that the lottery of kids that were offered to live with us all came from Spanish speaking countries which is where are second home is now located.

At the World Schoolers Summit, I’m going to get into some of the ways in which we run 3 vibrant businesses; “Arcanum Wholistic Clinic”, “Arcanum Acres Publishing”, and my most recent venture into clothing manufacturing, “Hemp Gitchies : Feels as Good On Your Hiney as It Does On Your Conscience.” The latter is this year’s latest enterprise in making hemp, bamboo and cotton undies beginning with the women’s line. We’re going to we working with women sewers who’ve formed a cooperative that have been rescued from pedophile rings as well as ex-sex trade workers in both the United States and Canada.

Pretty soon, we’ll be looking for women (and later men and kids, too) to try out our sample undies at cost and give us feedback on the style and wearability. We’re so excited as we’re a small group of Heilkunst-connected peeps who already feel like kin and who’re very interested in rolling out this new enterprise within our existing friends and family. That means that we’ll be seeking folks like you to try out our first samples in the next few months.

Our hope is that you’re doing well, and as feeling fully in love with your life.


  • All Worldschooler’s Summit Images above are credited to Jay Shapiro, Worldschooling parent


Homeschooling At Its Best; A Moment In Time with Greater Consequences Than Any Of Us Knew

A dozen or so years ago, I lived on a farm with my husband (fellow Heilkünstler, Jeff Korentayer) and my two children, Jordan and Adie. Jeff and I saw patients regularly in our home. He worked from the office upstairs and I had two chairs set up in an enclosed space on the main floor. We both saw in-person patients as well as working by phone and Skype.

Often the kids, ages 12, (Jordan) and 9, (Adie), were around outside or in the house while we were working, however, they had a stash of snacks and water and knew to remain in the summer kitchen or their rooms while we were working. Often they were out playing in the 7,000 square foot barn, or out somewhere on the 6 acre property. They were fairly self-sufficient in many respects and we encouraged their autonomy and sovereignty, especially while we were working.

Unexpected Visitors

One Sunday, in the early evening, the children and I were upstairs reading in the master bedroom when we heard a car pull onto the large gravel, semi-circular driveway. I stopped reading to them as we all craned our necks to look out the window to see who might be coming up the drive? We weren’t expecting anyone and so we were curious as to the hour and the nature of our visitor’s intent.

Working on my nighttime photography for my on-line course. Not usually my thing at all, but this balmy evening in Fredericton, N.B. was very forgiving. Shot on my Nikon D3100 with my 18-55mm lens.

Jeff answered the doorbell and I overheard the familiar voice of one of my in-person patients. Some of his key words floated up the stairwell to the bedroom the kids and I were in. We heard, “emergency, hospital, nebulizer, drugs, and breathing issues” followed by his daughter’s name; also a patient of mine.

I had been working on issues of reflux with her and we were in the early stages of Heilkunst treatment. She also had been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect shortly after her birth that resulted from an 8mm hole through the muscle.

I headed down the stairs with Jordan and Adie in tow. I greeted the Father (I’ll call him G.) and then went to the car to see his wife (also a patient) and their 3 year old (Who we’ll call K), in the back seat. She was crying inconsolably which indicated a lack of respiratory problems. The first thing I suggested was that we release her from the restriction of the car seat and get her into her parents’ arms.

K.’s eyes were glistening, her cheeks red, and she was looking very stressed with sweat dripping around her hairline. G. said that both he and his wife wished they’d not taken her to the hospital as it didn’t help, they were all stressed, upset and feeling guilty and wondering, would I be able to help? Also, they inserted that they were sorry to have just come here to our home during our personal time, but they didn’t know what else to do.

Surprising Side-Effects

I let them know that with breathing issues, it is always best to go to the emergency room as that is the right jurisdiction for such medical conditions. When they asked if I could help, I stalled for a second as it was a bit like asking a general practitioner to step into an emergency room. Our speciality is chronic disease — we clear traumas from our patient’s timeline in a civilized way, consistently, one month apart by previously established appointment.

As I fumbled for a moment, not having had my Clinician’s hat on in several days, I began to think of what to do. The next thing I heard was Jordan’s voice, “Well Mom, if you ask me, you’ve got to clear out those drugs from her body as they will just be in the way of her trying to get better,” and then from Adie, “Yeah, Mom, clear the drugs and then you can deal with the root cause for why she’s having trouble breathing.”

All of us adults turned our heads to look at them both. G. started to laugh. I was still a little startled and realized that is precisely what was warranted and so I thanked both the kids for their wisdom. I asked Jeff to make up the rx for this very recent timeline event staring us all in the face, “Cort., Penecill., Benedryl, O2, Am-carb., Ars., Sulph., Nux-v.” in ascending potencies while I went to check K.’s chart to see what we’d last treated.

As it turned out, we were clearing an event when she was having trouble breathing shortly after birth. This was a healing reaction, not the disease matrix anchored to the Genetic Miasm Medhorrinum. (See our blog articles on Healing Reactions and Genetic Miasms; including Med.) I breathed my own huge sigh of relief.

We just needed to clear this recent iatrogenic event knowing that K.’s breathing mechanism would naturally restore on its own. We also talked about using peppermint essential oils and salt inhalations with steaming water, that had been removed from the stove by draping her head over the bowl, in order to support, and not suppress the life forces’ trajectory to heal for the curative rx that was provided two weeks prior.

Our job at this phase was to support the healing reaction. I also told them that if she was struggling with any further breathing issues where they felt alarm, to get back to the hospital asap.

A Year Later …

Fast forward a year and bit — K. never had another breathing issue. Also, her reflux was cured. The other amazing thing is that when they took her to the surgeon to schedule surgery to repair the hole in her heart, the MRI indicated that it was already gone!

The cardiologist wanted to have a conversation with me by phone as he’d never seen such a significant hole completely disappear before. (See our success stories page for more success stories from our patients). It is fair to say that he had trouble pronouncing “Heilkunst.”

That next summer, I applied to be the medic at a children’s camp, with Jordan and Adie in tow, in order to become more proficient in first aid prescribing. The parents were asked for their permission for me to treat their kids using homeopathic principles along with standard Red Cross first aid. I had epi-pens along with oxygen tanks and a humongous first aid kit.

I treated bee stings, rashes, headaches, a couple of fevers, homesickness and even a child coming to terms with the fact that they might be gay. It was a great time of learning and resulted in our Webinar course on First Aid prescribing.

Jordan and Adie

My Waldorf/Homeschooled kids, Jordan and Adie, are all grown up now. My son Jordan, (now 23), is a trampoline acrobat, and Bowen Practitioner, working mostly with children and youth as well as managing a staff of twenty plus. He uses his Saint John Ambulance first aid training constantly; once even for a woman suffering a compound fracture where the bone punched through the skin. He was level-headed and stabilized the limb until the paramedics arrived.

My daughter, Adie (now 20), is planning to study medicine, too. I am so proud of her as I know that her patients will so appreciate her level head and kind, compassionate heart and she will prove to be brilliantly knowledgeable in this area of medicine.

I can’t help wonder if my own kids’ exposure to patients, children and medicine factored into their choosing their own life paths into the field of physiology and the care of human beings. It certainly feels like it, given their accurate diagnosis in the case of little K. It may very well have been a springboard moment that helped to launch them into their own life paths. © Allyson McQuinn

You never know when a homeschooling moment might factor as consequences to someone’s greater unfolding in the future. It feels like my own learning has certainly paralleled and activated something innate in both of them. I love this path that we continue to share, now at a distance, but so connected through our hearts and the compassion for our fellow humans along the way.


If “Science” Says It’s Proved, Then It Must Be …

Photo by popofatticus “evening read”

If “Science” says it’s proved, then it must be … what about a science of the heart ?! When, after a long day, and their baths were done and they both smelled delicious after having put the life stock away, I’d call out, “Stories in the big bed!” they’d both come running with books in tow.

I’d light a beeswax candle to mark the sacredness of this time, take a big breath, lie down and wait for them to cuddle in, their heads on my chest. They loved “The Paper Bag Princess,” or “Tyrone the Terrible,” or “I’ll Love You Forever,” or “Mary Louise Loses Her Manners.”

Later on we went through the gruesome tales of Grimm’s tome … several times … given that they were also reading them at their Waldorf School. They’d have great discussions about the moral elements in these stories, cutting their ethical teeth. I loved to listen to them as the candle burned on.

This gesture of taking the time to connect to themselves, and to literature, now also taking time from their busy day, now, as adults. The reading was a portal into intimacy, sacredness and grace on our farm where chores, serving patients, and post graduate studies often burned several candles at all ends.

Reading to each other was never forgone in the rhythm of our day, harnessing the love of art, beauty and truth into the astral realm of our sleep. Remembering why and how much we were, and are, loved and cared for was more for our hearts than the silly wires of our brains. Seriously!

The Pill Blog


Look around you, do you know women who live out of this state of mind?  Perhaps you do too?  Have you taken “The Pill?”  Did your mother take “The Pill” before having you?  

I, myself, suffered such severe migraines with kaleidoscopic vision on “The Pill” and then a mini-stroke at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto over 30 years ago. I also developed a tumour the size of golf ball in my left breast (go to the link on our bio to listen to the FREE audiobook for more), AND I also suffered this state of mind.

As Physicians (knowledge of the spirit), it is our responsibility to look at greater phenomena that has resulted from a patriarchal society and address each state of mind that spawns symptoms of this nature. So many of us have remained pawns to the insidious forces feeling like prey with no way out, deeply desiring to find our way back to our essential selves, our divine factory settings.

It is our birthright to first fully understand ourselves, the matrix we live in and then harness the forces of nature in order to annihilate diseases of this nature that keep us pinioned. Heilkunst Medicine, using the homeopathic principle: like cures like, enables us to do this. We can say “No.”  It begins with us. Remember who you are.

#sayno #thepill #womenshealth #selfdenial #doormat #rememberwhoyouare #earthlyrhythms #expectations #controlledbyanother #rescuingpeople #suckeddry #sequentialtimeline #shocks #traumas #ideogenic #drinduced

Life Is So Good!

August 2017 Newsletter

My hope is that this missive finds you well and enjoying the last weeks of summer. 

Early morning fog burning off the Kennebecasis River

It finally warmed up and stopped raining here in Maritime Canada and we made it into the brackish waters of the Kennebecasis River for many swims. Building our Tiny House and clearing our land of many fallen trees and brush has been a big job. You should see us working together with the chainsaw and axe to get our Fall/Spring supply of wood to cut and dried before the season. We’re both much fitter and leaner from all the physical work!

Casa Pequeña both inside and out

We’re expecting six loads of clean fill in the next few weeks in order to start working on leveling the hill that we’re on for our food forest. We’ve already got some raspberry bushes, lavender, mint and wild roses planted. I’m (Ally) in seventh heaven with being able to craft my own land into a rejuvenating ecosystem. The plan is to have enough flowering plants and fruit trees in order to sustain a number of hives of bees. It’s a work in progress and we’re learning much about permaculture principles.

This week, the solar array is being installed. We’ve been doing most of the work ourselves with the help of our friends, however, we’ve found an electrician who works with her carpenter husband to get the solar panels mounted on the roof and the battery, charger and inverter installed.

The view looking up from the Kennebecasis towards our densely treed property

We’ll be putting in the 120 amp wiring ourselves as our friend, Marla, worked for Bell Canada in Toronto and wired houses and offices with fibre-op for decades. Thankfully Diane is keeping the front lines at Arcanum in toe as we’ve literally been jumping in our clinic seats after a quick hosing off in the shower!

We’re pretty excited as later this month, our children are coming for a visit with their partners. It’s been 3 years since were all together and we can not wait to spend the week together. There will be a good ol’ lobster boil, bonfires and sausage roasts for sure!

We’re heading up to the Tiny House for the evening. Jeff has promised to play his classical guitar for me as the sun goes down. Life is so good!

“I Like Your Happiness!”

Patriarchy can attempt to divide us; however, I know for a fact that folks can not be so easily broken apart by walls and borders. We’re lovers of the international state of mind.

I’m thinking of the Airbnb couple in Victoria, BC, who took us to brunch and wanted to know more about what we do here at Arcanum. I’m thinking of the woman who cut my hair in Guanajuato, MX, who hugged and kissed me as I left her shop because we’d become instant friends in an hour.

I’m thinking of the young fellow at the MacStore in León, MX, who said, “I like your happiness” and hugged both of us and took our pictures for their Customers Of The Month wall. I’m thinking of the couple in Cottonwood, CA, who worked in medicine and shared pictures of their beautiful children before making us breakfast at their Airbnb. She also shared her magnificent permaculture garden and koi-filled ponds so I could take pictures. I gave remedies to their dog and did some Bowen on his sore hip, and he was feeling fine by the next morning.

Jessica and Rosie, our lovely Airbnb hosts. She is into permaculture, mom of five grown kids, and an aquafit instructor. We loved her!

I’m thinking of the cab driver in Guanajuato, MX, who told me that my Spanish is excellent and to keep practicing as my best education is out talking with people like him. I’m thinking of the couple in San Diego, CA, who rescue exotic birds and rehabilitate them out of the goodness of their hearts. I’m thinking of the mother and son in Eureka, CA, who run an Airbnb and also take in elderly folk who can’t afford nursing homes and how we all ate breakfast in their living room and laughed at the news on the big screen TV.

I’m thinking of how quickly folks rush in to help give us directions, help us with translation, and just simply make our lives easier all of the time. My heart is swollen to her brim with all these experiences and nothing in the news or television can erase what I know is the steeped kindness of others. Their wide, open smiles and caring eyes swim in my veins.

Put the remote down, shut the lid of your computer, and go on a walk-about to far off places that you’ve never been to before. Perhaps study a new language on Duolingo so that you can communicate better. You’ll no doubt find what we’ve found in our travels to be true; love and human kindness is a thing, and it prevails beyond borders and walls. It is something you can lean into and allow yourself to be carried along with for awhile. It’s what is going on all around the world in everyday lives.


When Will We Know? Observations On Forced Education


“circle of friends” by Valentina Powers

Rudolf Steiner, Spiritual Scientist, and founder of Waldorf Education and Anthroposophic Medicine cites that children can’t in fact subsume, in a healthy fashion, reading, writing or mathematical concepts until well after the milk teeth have fallen out. The idea being that if you wake a child too early to intellectual machinations, you damage the fine tuning of their etheric (creativity and absorption) and astral (artistry and inspiration) integration.

In this over-intellectualized and mechanistic epoch in which we live, one of the greatest crimes I see in healthcare is over-intellectualized adults who struggle with accessing all of their organs for knowledge. They’re just not properly integrated! This produces anxiety and neurosis on a large scale as their capacity for trusting their inner guidance system (gnosis) has been tarnished due largely to the tyranny of forced education.

Parents who live in fear that their child won’t be able to compete in this global culture unless they’re bullied into unfolding their egghead processes early on, actually destroy their child’s innate capacities to become lifelong learners, something which ought to be borne as a self-inspired, inside-out gesture. Real knowledge has never been a successful outside-in game and never will be. You’ve heard the maxim, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

A natural curiosity is the stuff of health. It propels us from the Godhead of our ordination as human beings (not human doings) otherwise as children we’d never ask questions like, “Why is the sky blue?” If this innate desire is squashed, and replaced by government curricula and unproven homework that turns parents into hateful enforcers instead of advocates and protectors, we destroy a child’s delicate intuition.

When will we come to wholly trust, and have faith, that each of us will ask the questions – from an internal fount whose source is beyond our comprehension – that will propel the answers towards us? When will we come to the understanding that as we progress through our spiritual unfolding, our nuanced capacity to know will flow and ebb with each consciousness soul phase we blunder through so that we’re married to the functional purpose that evolution pours through each one of us?

When will we know that the gesture to bully and shove round pegs into intellectually limiting square holes is on its way out and that feminine wisdom is mounting a luminous trail so self-sustaining and rejuvenating that the silos of patriarchy are being revealed, and breaking down at an amazing rate? When will we know that the desire to “know thyself” is so flipping compelling to each one of us that its intrinsic nature is something to be preserved, not browbeaten or terrorized with ridiculous tests.

When will we preserve the essence of our innately curious being-ness as wonder-filled seekers?  

When will we know?

In Gratitude – ‘Tis The Season


While attending University, way back when, I used to board with a great big Irish Catholic family. Actually, there were once seven children at home but when I arrived on the scene to rent a room, only the mother and one daughter were left at home. The young woman and I both attended the University of Toronto at the same College.

When I came downstairs one day the mother, H. (I’ll call her), wearing a surgeon’s mask, was stripping the paint from around the oak window casings with a small blow torch and a paint scraper. She was singing softly to herself. I tried to creep by without disturbing her as she seemed so intent on her task. She called out, “Is that you Allyson?” I replied, “Yes, I’ve come down to make some breakfast.”

I recall commenting on the incredible amount of work she was doing and that it might take a year, or more, for her to strip all the windows in the house, including the stained glass ones, and wasn’t she afraid of burning the wood or torching the glass? She responded that it was therapy for her after the decades of work at Queen’s Park as an assistant to a prominent political member. She was now retired and it seemed stripping windows of their white paint was how she’d decided to best fill her days. At the time, I didn’t understand why a retired person wasn’t out scuba diving or lunching with a whole gaggle of friends.

She continued, saying that she wove her prayers into the vapour from the torch, that they would be carried heavenward with each bubble of paint that she scraped from the sill. During the hotter summer months, she’d often strip the paint for 8-9 hour stretches in her panties and a loose t-shirt. I wondered at this sixty-five year old feminist as if she was a most curious object. Sometimes, I knew that she could feel my eyes on her and I could feel her smile; she’d just continue humming as she worked without saying a word. One time she did ask me if I had issues with feminism, and for three decades after I was mystified by her question.

Late one afternoon, I came home via streetcar along Gerrard St. East, to find on my bed a book entitled, “A Canticle for Leibowitz” by Walter M. Miller, Jr. about a simple shopping list left behind by a monk and how its seemingly benign items like, “Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels–bring home for Emma” speaks to the rise and fall of humanity in the face of atrocities like a nuclear holocaust. At the time, I didn’t have a clue why H. would want me to read such a book, however, since she seemed to take an interest in me (I had been orphaned the year prior) I forced myself through its pages. We never spoke about why she gave it to me.

To this day, I still don’t wholly understand the ramifications of what was written on the pages of that book, so I took it on as a gesture of intention, a meditation of sorts. Just as this woman scraped paint day after day, perhaps not wholly understanding why or what her function or purpose was at the time, she was investing her thoughts into the practice. I tried to bring the same gesture to that book, and many other books and practices since.

H. taught me that to be a woman in the 21st century, it is sometimes enough not to will something into existence with a great fury, hell bent on accomplishment. That sometimes, seemingly meaningless, repetitive tasks can allow for the space to contemplate, ruminate and even pray. That sometimes, whispering your hopes and dreams into the whiff of vapour, or exploring the incongruous meaning behind why a person is canonized by patriarchal religion is similarly mysterious.

It is the task of remaining open and receptive, in a state of gratitude for the simple things in life, where laying down the rod of doing in exchange for a state of being is an act of utter courage. It is the meaning of the “mass” portion of Christ-mass. When I look up Mass, I get a whole conglomeration of meanings in Wikipedia that look something like this:

“The English noun mass is derived from Middle Latin missa. The Latin word was adopted in Old English as mæsse (via a Vulgar Latin form *messa), and was sometimes glossed as sendnes (i.e. “a sending, dismission”).[8] The Latin term missa itself was in use by the 6th century.[9] It is most likely derived from the concluding formula Ite, missa est (“Go; the dismissal is made”); missa here is a Late Latin substantive corresponding to classical missio.

Historically, however, there have been other explanations of the noun missa, i.e. as not derived from the formula ite, missa est. Fortescue (1910) cites older, “fanciful” etymological explanations, notably a latinization of Hebrew matzâh (??????) “unleavened bread; oblation”, a derivation favoured in the 16th century by Reuchlin and Luther, or Greek ?????? “initiation”, or even Germanic mese “assembly”.[10]Already Du Cange (1678) reports “various opinions on the origin” of the noun missa “mass”, including the derivation from Hebrew matzah (Missah, id est, oblatio), here attributed to Caesar Baronius. The Hebrew derivation is learned speculation from 16th-century philology; medieval authorities did derive the noun missa from the verb mittere, but not in connection with the formula ite, missa est.[11] Thus, De divinis officiis (9th century[12]) explains the word as a mittendo, quod nos mittat ad Deo (“from ‘sending’, that which sends us towards God”),[13] while Rupert of Deutz (early 12th century) derives it from a “dismissal” of the “enmities which had been between God and men” (inimicitiarum quæ erant inter Deum et homines).[14]”


It is really a tough piece for me to sort through. I don’t fully understand its holy  historical references; however, if I am patient enough, some vaporous light may illuminate it if I’m meant to know more. The other day, in a foreign country, where the language is foreign to me, I slipped into a two hundred year old church during mass. I sat in a back pew, closed my eyes in the cool stoney air and felt the wisps of incense wash over my fatigued bones. My camera draped at my side, I closed my eyes and fell into a meditative state as the filthy, homeless person with a ratty beard prayed next to me in Spanish on bended knee.

In the past, when directed by my mentor, Steven Decker, to study Rudolf Steiner until I drifted off to sleep more mystified and confused than ever, I’d become comforted without knowing precisely why I was studying such heady texts. It was like being tussled and tossed about in the washing machine of mystery. While I don’t always know in the moment, I trust that a canticle of meaning will eventually find me during the seemingly most mundane of tasks, a whispered prayer, poem or song received in the corridors of my heart.

I no longer have issues with powerful women. They don’t scare me. H. was right. It took me years to understand that just because I wasn’t counted as a wizened woman in my early twenties due to my weakened, diseased state  doesn’t mean that I didn’t have the potential to eventually become one.  After thirty years, through the portal of my own health, I learned to breathe many prayers into countless sill windows. Although ongoing, I now feel the answers to my own feminine mystery; a sweet place where I might serve in my ontological confines in this present space and time.  

A canticle of seemingly endless lists filled with pastrami and sauerkraut in the face of political holocaust can join together to produce strong, capable and assured women, who whisper prayers for the salvation of self and other into the vapours of time. This unifying presence through family and intention is the Divine feminine ignited.

This year I am thankful for rest, health, verve, ease, strength, quiet, creativity and an inner grace that is ripening. I am grateful for inspiring women, and men, in my life who hold the candle of the mysteries of life in good stead until they’re ready to be wholly illuminated. I am able to fall into meditation, offering prayer-filled alms to the Spanish beggar for he shines the light on what is still my greatest challenge: the quickness with which I judge the sills of time to be too many to make a shred of difference.

“Just as in the body, eye and ear develop as organs of perception, as senses for bodily processes, so does a man develop in himself soul and spiritual organs of perception through which the soul and spiritual worlds are opened to him. For those who do not have such higher senses, these worlds are dark and silent, just as the bodily world is dark and silent for a being without eyes and ears.”

? Rudolf Steiner, Theosophy: An Introduction to the Spiritual Processes in Human Life and in the Cosmos

Happy Re-New-al Year to you all!