Tag Archives: America

Opposition to the Redskins Name is About More than Being Offended

The Washington DC football team announced on Monday that it would be retiring it’s racist mascot causing nation-wide discussion. Yours truly has certainly been well into the fray.

A young lad has sought to question me on my stance and impugn the validity of Native American concerns on this subject. As is a standard practice of mine, if it takes more than a couple paragraphs to make my point online, it goes on the blog. So, here we go.

“Yeah that’s some who are offended, I know some indigenous people who aren’t. Aunt Jemaimahs family begged for the company to not issue a rebranding, apparently syrup is now racist too. I’ve never understood why anyone other than a white guy with a sunburn would be offend of the term “redskin”. OUR skin isn’t red. Who cares.”

 

It helps to have taken the time to learn the history of that term and Native Affairs in this country. One who has would be less likely to conflate different unrelated issues while repeating sound bites and talking points from conservative media.

It’s not simply “some who are offended.” It’s the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest, largest and most representative Native organization in the country which has advocated for the interests of Indians for nearly a century. It’s the American Indian Movement, Idle No More, countless tribes, and nations and virtually every native activist movement in this country for 50 years who have recognized the ill social affects of caricatures being the dominant representation of native people in media while rich white people make millions of dollars from it, despite what your buddy on the street might think.

It’s not that the r-word is offensive as in it hurts little snowflake feelings. It is literally the Native American equivalent of the N-word. It is a word used historically as a means to dehumanize Indians.

Throughout the 19th century that term was used to designate Natives as wild savages who were only suited to be killed, hunted down like rabid animals. Bounties were paid for “redskins.” Often times scalps were taken as evidence for the number of “redskins” killed to fetch a higher payment. Be assured when someone called us redskins they were not “honoring” us. They were saying we were less than human and just in the fucking way.

Indians are not honored by a dehumanizing term historically used to encourage and promote our genocide. This is a genocide that continues today by definition as per the UN Council on Genocide, and Raphael Lempkin who coined the term. Natives are still fighting for basic rights and amenities as human beings while mostly white millionaires continue to get rich off the legacy of genocide and colonialism, portraying Indians as the things of their fantasies.

This all gets into media representation and how it impacts the quality of Native life. Indians are only about 1% of the US population. Most of those are concentrated in a few states and mostly in remote communities. So, the average American does not have any meaningful interaction with a Native American on a daily basis, much less a native community. These people get the majority of their perceptions of Indians from media and sports. This includes some natives as well who have been acculturated, are often urban and do not interact with a native community.

How Natives are represented in media affects how we are viewed by the majority of the population. How we are viewed by the majority of the population matters when we need our issues to be taken seriously and acted upon in an appropriate manner.

If we are viewed as impish caricatures, savage beasts, or even romanticized relics of a bygone era, we are not seen as real human beings. That affects the socio-political environment which we as 1% of the population are powerless to overcome on our own.

If we’re not viewed accurately as real, modern humans then our tribal sovereignty is not viewed as something to take seriously. Our land rights are at risk, our religious rights are at risk (did you know Indian religions were outlawed until 1978?), our very existence as Indian people is at risk. And when these harmful stereotypes infect our own youth it has been shown to negatively impact their self perception and limit their imagination as to what they’re capable of achieving in life. This has long-term negative implications for individuals as well as for tribes and nations.

There is far more at stake here than simple hurt feelings about the color of our skin.

Trump’s Response to Coronavirus was Better than the Critics

I keep seeing this argument that President Donald Trump didn’t act quickly and decisively enough to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. However, I don’t think that is an accurate or reasonable position to take.

Of course with black-swan events like this it’s always easier to look back with 20/20 vision and criticize activities than it is to deal with a crisis in real time, but from my reading of the timeline of events I just don’t know what more we could have expected of the American President. He was ahead of the World Health Organization, his European counterparts, and the leaders of his opposition party. Suggesting the American President didn’t act quickly enough ignores everything that has happened up until the time being.

Below is a timeline of important and relevant events as they took place with regard to the actions of world leaders with regard to the covid-19 outbreak of 2020.

December 31, 2019
The first time China reported the existence of covid-19, the novel coronavirus. [source]

January 14, 2020
The World Health Organization, the organization which advises the world on matters of health was following China’s lead in saying there was no evidence of human to human transmissions of the coronavirus. They were wrong.

January 20
A man in Washington State who had just returned from Wuhan, China was identified as the first case of covid-19 in the USA. [source]

January 29
The WHO advised against applying ANY international travel restrictions due to the virus. They were wrong. [source page 2]
(page 2)

January 31
President Trump declared the coronavirus a public health emergency and stopped flights from China and six other countries, and suspended entry for foreign nationals who pose a risk of transmitting the virus, DISREGARDING the recommendations of WHO. He was correct. [source]

Democrat leaders including Biden, Pelosi and Schumer were busy calling POTUS “racist,” “xenophobic,” and un-American for his travel bans. They were wrong. [source 1, source 2]

March 10
Italy finally decided to start taking the virus seriously and issued a national stay at home order. [source]

Austria catches up with POTUS and closes its border with Italy. [source]

German Chancellor Angela Merkle was still procrastinating on emergency measures [source]

March 11
WHO finally catches up with POTUS and declares coronavirus a pandemic. [source]

March 12
President Trump suspends travel from Europe to the US. [source]

March 15
Germany, Spain finally catch up with POTUS and *partially* close their borders due to the virus. [source 1, source 2]

March 17
EU leaders finally catch up with POTUS and close off EU borders to foreign travel. [source]

Compared to the greatest minds and leaders of the world and those of his opposition party, the president was ahead of the curve. I don’t know what foresight the critics think President Trump should have had that no other world leaders or the World Health Organization had that would have caused him to act even sooner when he was already taking more decisive action than everyone else.

It’s all political bullshit. Can we just work together to get through this mess without politicizing a pandemic is full swing?

(This article will be updated as more information is discovered.)


St. Anne’s Roundup; Memories of Pensacola’s Finest Festival

This time of year I can’t help but feel nostalgic for one of Pensacola’s lost legacies, St. Anne’s Roundup.

St. Anne’s is a Catholic Church on Pensacola’s west side, and for forty years it hosted the western themed Roundup, one of the most beloved and popular festivals Pensacola ever produced. It was such a popular event that in 1992 over 200,000 people attended and it was simply amazing. It’s easy to find Pensacolians 25 years of age and older who have quite fond memories of the Roundup.

It all began in May of 1964 when Father John A. Lacari held a parish fund-raising dinner with a western theme. It was so successful that he built it into the annual St. Anne’s Roundup, a full three days of Western flare on the first weekend of every October, drawing in huge crowds from all over the area.

Father Lacari had a small mock western styled ghost town constructed in the pecan grove behind the church and named it Bellview Junction in honor of the census designated place just outside the Pensacola city limits where the church is located. The buildings housed numerous food and refreshment stands, games, and a photo booth where people could dress in period clothing and have their picture taken. The main activities and entertainment took place out front of Miss Kitty’s Saloon at the end of the main street called Sweatfager Trail. Here was a mockup saloon that acted as a prepping area for bands and other acts that would be featured on the main stage built onto the front porch.

The main stage hosted local and regional bands, comedians, various dance groups, and was used to announce the winners of the various raffles and announce other business. Each year the Roundup hosted a celebrity guest such as John Schneider at the height of his Dukes of Hazzard fame, Heather Locklear in 1983, John Ritter in 1993 and many others who would speak, answer questions, pose for pictures and sign autographs.

One of the corner stone acts were the cancan dancers who were an inextricable part of the Roundup’s entertainment, performing multiple times each day. Immediately following the cancan dancers the street would be cleared with attendees instructed to move to either side and a reenactment gunfight would be performed by specially trained actors. This usually involved a short skit of lawmen versus outlaws resulting in one side emerging victorious over the other in a dramatic shootout complete with realistic looking and sounding guns firing blanks, filling the air with smoke and the scent of gunpowder.

The most enjoyable part of the Roundup for me was the “jail.” This was the station I liked to work in the best. About midway down the Sweatfager Trail was a little jailhouse with a pen made with chicken wire inside of which were several long benches to house the “prisoners”. A sheriff was in charge of organizing the several volunteer deputies. The deputies, usually teenage boys were issued little tin badges and their job was to arrest random people from the crowd on whatever false or factual charges they could imagine. Wearing blue on the street, carrying a corndog with your left hand, or anything could serve as a charge. For a few bucks someone could fill out a warrant and have a specific target, a relative or a friend arrested. In most cases the people played along and went off to the jail in good spirits where for a dollar donation they could post bail, or hangout behind the wire and be a part of the show until being released after several minutes. I worked as a deputy a few different times, and one year my father worked as the sheriff. It served as a fun and lucrative fundraiser for the church.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Roundup was how the whole community seemed to come together to support it. Local food and refreshment providers donated resources and time, businesses made donations of various products for raffles, and prizes for the Roundup Princesses (did I mention there was a yearly princess?). High school marching bands came out to perform. The McGuire’s Pipe Band performed each year. Local businesses would pay top dollar for advertizing either on strategically placed signs or in the Bellview Gazette, the Roundup’s annual news journal. One year Ted Ciano donated a new car to be raffled off. On top of that, it seemed like everyone in the Pensacola area attended. People came in from out of state to attend. It really was a sight that is impossible to describe adequately. This all resulted in St. Anne’s being the most financially successful parish in the Diocese.

Sadly, Father Lacari suffered a heart attack and retired in 1993. He died shortly afterward. His successor was never able to do justice for the Roundup or the church and it began to lose its brilliance until 2004 when Hurricane Ivan swept through, destroying Bellview Junction.

Since that time the church has been unwilling to even attempt to revive or rebuild the Roundup even in a revised form as they struggle financially despite a significant desire from the greater community for it to do so. It is now just another one of Pensacola’s lost legacies.

When I first started writing this article it was intended to be one of the first hints to begin promoting what would be a New Roundup at St. Anne’s beginning in 2019. It was an ambitious dream. I thought we were very close to achieving it, but for reasons outside the scope of this article the project was aborted. I decided to finish the article as a memory rather than as the pre-promotional it was intended to be.

Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.


Dr. John: Under a Hoodoo Moon, Review

The funky bluesman Mac Rebennack, otherwise known by his stage name Dr. John is a much-honored part of the cultural fabric that is 20th and 21st century New Orleans.  His autobiography Under a Hoodoo Moon chronicles Rebennack’s life from his time as a child coming of age in The Big Easy, through a young struggling musician’s career, and eventually building a legacy as one of America’s most treasured musical icons.

Under a Hoodoo Moon is written in a loose manner with a bit of Rebennack’s New Orleans vernacular, giving it a sense of authenticity and the playfulness that is characteristic of funk music in general and New Orleans music specifically.  The book for the most part follows a linear path, but it repeatedly backtracks to cover stories that Rebennack decided were more relevant at a later point in time. In some cases this seems like a less efficient method, but it does not detract from the overall presentation.

At times Rebennack’s story seems to focus more on the development of his career, business associations, projects and the politics surrounding the music industry, without any emphasis on the personal, philosophical, emotional and inspirational experiences that contributed to the making of the man.  Then he very candidly writes about his struggle with heroin addiction that plagued him for thirty years until he finally kicked it in 1989, but not before doing a stint in Louisiana “Angola” State Penitentiary.  In his writings, it seems Dr. John tended to compartmentalize his professional activities from his more illicit affairs. He introduces the reader to an assortment of characters, hustlers, and junkies along with the musicians he calls family.

In his early days, Rebennack paid the bills by gigging with racially integrated bands at a point in American history when such groups were technically outlawed, and by working as a session musician for countless popular acts. He paints a picture of a golden era of New Orleans music in the 1950s and early 60s before the musicians unions caused so many problems which drove national recording acts to take their business to other cities such as Memphis and Los Angeles.

In 1965, after Rebennack was released from prison, with the music scene dead in New Orleans he too set out for the west coast.  In California he made contact with several colleagues from back home and began working as a session musician with many of the top acts of the day.  These included The Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, Sonny and Cher, the O’Jays, Frank Zappa, and Iron Butterfly just to name a few. Dr. John offers some interesting and often humorous observations about some of these acts and his experiences working with them.

During his tenure in Hollywood Rebennack created and adopted the persona of Dr. John, a New Orleans hoodoo medicine man from the 1860s and recorded his ground-breaking Gris Gris album. This is a point in the story where more strictness toward a linear narrative would have improved upon this biography.

Though Dr. John rose to fame on the popularity of Gris Gris with all its voodoo and hoodoo imagery, there is very little in the first two-thirds of the book about his experiences with those traditions.  Up until this point what is mentioned amounts to a brief reference to making goofer dust, a companion burning a black candle to curse the police during a drug score, and more humorously a brief description of a joint ritual in California with another musician who practiced Aleister Crowley styled ceremonial magic in order to curse a producer who had screwed them both in a deal.  It’s not until chapter nine, well after he covers the recording of Gris Gris that Dr. John goes into any detail about his personal connection to a Voodoo temple, and his investment in a voodoo curio shop in New Orleans which really inspired the album.

Under a Hoodoo Moon is a great read, and also provides a fair bit of ethnographic gems covering the roots of the New Orleans musical tradition. He describes his first experiences with the Black Indian Tribes, Mardi Gras Krewes that competed for marching routes during the annual Mardi Gras festivities and pioneered second-line drumming that gives New Orleans music much of its uniqueness.  He also dedicates a significant chunk near the end of the book to speaking nostalgically and reverentially about his time playing with Professor Longhair, the New Orleans pianist who had more influence upon him than anyone else.

I enjoyed reading every page.

          


A Creepy Time at Austin’s Museum of the Weird

Something called The Museum of the Weird sounds just like the type of place I should visit.  And during my most recent trip to Austin, Texas that is just what I did.

It’s tucked away in an old building from the 19th century that was reportedly the residence of actor Johnny Depp during the filming of What’s eating Gilbert Grape.   Upon first entrance it’s just like any other curio shop that can be found in a historical part of town, selling creepy stickers, posters and books about a varied assortment of mysteries, and legends.  For twelve bucks you’re handed a receipt which acts as a ticket to get you through a turnstile in the back.

At this point you come to a couple rooms stocked full with a collection of sideshow pieces, from voodoo sculptures, jars containing preserved deformities, and movie props.  After some time spent to ponder the collection, further in the back our guide met us and delivered her brief introduction accompanied with a brief video describing the museums “prized” piece, the Minnesota Iceman, a sideshow exhibit from the 1960s.

The Iceman is the first stop on the guided portion of the tour where the body of something resembling a Neanderthal is kept incased in ice in an old deep freezer.  This was the only portion of the museum where photography was not permitted.  In the spirit of the fun that this museum is meant to be I’ll withhold any critical opinions at this point so the reader can make up their own minds when they visit.

The final leg of the tour is a dimly lit wax museum containing the likenesses of Nosferatu, Dracula, the Hunchback of Notre dame, King Kong and others.

The Museum of the Weird is a fun little stop for tourists and oddity enthusiasts in Austin, Texas.  It’s worth a visit just to see some of the aptly described “weird” displays and exhibitions of art, culture, cinematology, technology, and just plain creepiness.

Watch the video below for a glimpse at Austin’s Museum of the Weird.


A Day at Seaworld San Antonio, Texas

I’ve taken the time to head out to Texas once again, visiting family and friends in the Austin-Round Rock area. While we’re out here we decided to take the kids to San Antonio to spend the day at Seaworld. I’ve never been to Seaworld before and I tend to be reluctant about attending zoos, circuses and other animal shows, but I made an exception here because I’m not militant in this view and it was a big multi-generational family activity.

It was a brutally hot July day, but I hail from Florida so it wasn’t too far out of the ordinary for me. The first thing we did was make our way to the Sea Lion High show featuring Clyde and Seamore as they work toward a scholarship to Ocean University while a snobby young preppy cheerleader tried to undermine them the whole way. Much like high school I don’t know what her problem was, but the show was corny fun with all the classic seal and sea lion tricks, swimming, splashing, and bouncing a ball on their noses that the kids loved.

It was high noon by this time and the heat was wicked. We made our way over to the Sesame Street Bay of Play, a little water play ground full of industrial sized sprinklers and such for the kids (and adults too) to cool off. I stripped down to a pair of swimming trunks and joined in the festivities with my girls. It was just the thing to lighten my mood from the heat.

After playing in the water we went to the Penguin Encounter to observe the Antarctic birds swim in a dimly lit pool behind glass. Because they’re from the southern hemisphere and there is low light this time of year it was kept pretty dark. It was indoors, nice and cool and just what we needed after the heat.

We watched the Pets Ahoy show next. It was pretty impressive with cats, dogs, rats, and a pig performing all manner of nifty tricks. I have to say I was more impressed by the people who were capable of training such animals than I was by the animals themselves. My little nephew loved this show the most.

A few rides were ridden, the most enjoyable being the Journey to Atlantis, a short ride with one dip followed by a plunge toward the water which makes a great splash. I have to say the best part was standing on the side and allowing that great wall of water hit me, and it hit pretty hard too. I went from sweaty, hot and fatigued to soaking wet and cheerful in about a second’s time. I stood there and let that wave hit me about five or six times before we moved on.

We also caught the Ocean Discovery Show with beluga whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins. I thought it was pretty impressive and even better than the One Ocean show featuring the killer whales that made some impressive jumps and flips and splashed the crowd.  It was fun to watch the acrobatics of the animals, but I was a bit distracted by killer whales’ collapsed dorsal fins which I’m fairly certain is a poor indicator of the wellbeing of the animals in captivity, but other folks seem to have different opinions on that matter, and I’m not a marine biologist.

Our evening concluded with Shamu’s Celebration: Light up the Night, which the best I could tell was pretty much the same as the Ocean discovery show but at sunset with more flashy lights and an annoying adolescent DJ with a high-pitched elfish voice trying to rap us through the evening – I REALLY could have done without that.

As we made our way out after 9pm there was a rocking Hydro Power Extreme FX show going on that we didn’t attend that included wave runners, fireworks and a band playing I Wanna Rock, Crazy Train, and few other rock anthems from the 80s. We caught a bit of it from the other side of the lake, but by this time our crew was just too tuckered out to stick around much longer.

Over all I’m glad I went even though it wasn’t really my thing. But it wasn’t for me; it was for the kids and they loved it so as far as I’m concerned it was a great time and a mission accomplished.
Watch our video below.


Mento Music: Reggae’s Granddaddy

Mento music is a little known style of folk music and dance native to the island of Jamaica that saw its commercial peak in the 1950s.  Sometimes called Jamaican Calypso, it is closely related to that Trinidadian musical form.

Mento bands usually consist of small groups of musicians. Acoustic guitar, fifes, maracas, and the rumba box are all typical elements in the musical production. Banjo however, seems to be central in traditional Mento. Particularly rural groups often featured hand-made instruments such as the bamboo clarinet and saxophone.

A unique style of music, mento is the lineal forebear of reggae, and like blues it is a blend of European folk musics, especially of the British Isles and Spanish influence along with many elements of traditional West African music.  For reasons that are more intricate than this blog-post is prepared to delve into, Trinidadian Calypso was more marketable than Jamaican Mento, and by the middle of the 20th century it had become the music of the Caribbean.

After Calypso lost its commercial appeal record companies decided to make jazz the new music of the Caribbean and began importing jazz musicians into the islands.  Jazz didn’t take root like they had hoped but this injection of fresh blood mixed with the rootsy sound of the Jamaican shanty towns and the new sounds coming from the United States over short-wave radio resulted in the creation of Ska.

Ska was an upbeat dancehall style of music comparable to America’s old rock and roll, recognizable for the guitar skank rhythm style. With the heavy injection of ganja culture, ska superstars such as the Wailers began slowing down their tempos creating the short-lived style rocksteady – best thought of as what I think it really is: a small bridge between ska and reggae.

Reggae emerges with the dominance of Rastafarian philosophy in the previous style, with typically even slower, more intricate rhythms, lyrics with deep spiritual and socio-political messages. Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Toots and the Maytals all played defining moments in ska, rocksteady, and reggae, but none of them would have been as significant without Mento.

           

Below is my cover of “Miss Constance,” a traditional Mento tune available for download here.


 

 

Midsummer

Midsummer is a traditional holiday celebrated throughout many of the world’s cultures, with ancient origins.  It is the celebration of the summer solstice, an important astronomical date on the annual cycle.  It is celebrated on or near the 21st of June. In many Celtic communities it is commonly celebrated on June 24th.

Due to its connection with the agricultural cycle, Midsummer is most often celebrated on the 21st of June by modern Heathens and neo-pagans as one of the eight sabbats. In Revival Druidry it is called Alban Heruin and is one of the four high holidays.

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, with the sun at its strongest, therefore Midsummer represents the triumph of light over darkness.  The solar hero born at Yule and celebrated as the child of light is now at his peak.  He overthrows the oppressive king of winter and takes his rightful place upon the throne of the earth.  Just as in our time today, in ancient days marriages often occurred at Midsummer.

                    

As an agricultural holiday, in many parts of the world this is the earliest time that a harvest can be made since the springtime sowing; therefore it is a festival of first fruits. Traditional Midsummer rites are often centered on bonfires.  New fires would be kindled and offerings of flowers were made to them.  In many communities an effigy of a person would be burned in the bonfire.  Similarly to Beltane, cattle would be driven through the smoke of the fires as a means of blessing, protecting and enhancing the livelihood of the tribe and community.  Torches were lit from central bonfires and carried home where the hearth was lit.  Participants would dance around these fires and tend them throughout the night.  This all-night affair was commonly called “the watch,” and it was an integral part of the festivities.  Near the early morning when he fires had died down some, some of the revelers would jump over the flames for good luck and to encourage the crops to grow.

Midsummer Bonfire in Freiburg im Breisgau

Similar traditions are found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.  Native American communities such as the Creeks, Seminoles, Cherokee, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and many others of the Eastern Woodland traditions celebrate the Green Corn rite: the new fire ceremony, the New Year, the greatest fast culminating in the first feast of the year.

At this time in the environment, the wild flora is also at its peak, especially of the medicinal variety, so this holiday also has a focus on gathering and honoring medicine.  Blackberries and wild plums are also ripening, making for natural symbols of this season. On the Muskogee calendar, June is Kvco Hvse or “Blackberry Sun.”

In many Germanic countries the Maypole is celebrated at Midsummer.  In some communities the Maypole was left up from Beltane and burned at Midsummer. Midsummer is the height of the spiritual year.  Medicine is strongest at this time.  Spirits of nature and of the ancestors, both good and malevolent are very active on a Midsummer’s night which inspired one of Shakespear’s most classic works; A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


Wildflowers

They say “April showers bring May flowers,” and what an assortment of flowers they bring.  I’ve always loved the springtime, and nothing impacts that love quite like wildflowers.

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You belong among the wildflowers. #flowers #nature

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Flowers are beautiful, even domesticated varieties, but wild flowers have a spirit all their own.  They grow wherever they want without the need for the cultivated touch of human hands, beautifying often otherwise bland landscapes.  Even magnificent landscapes are improved by their presence.

I’ve always had an affinity toward wild things in general.  It’s just part of me.  Ever since I was a child I spent as much time as I could exploring the wilderness, trying to escape civilization any chance I had, and along these journeys wildflowers were always a fascination for me. They are a reminder of an epoch of history when the world and life was much more natural, and unprocessed by scientific engineering.

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You belong somewhere you feel free. #flowers #nature

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They are more than just pretty little blossoms to me.  Wildflowers are sensual beings who fill the air with hypnotic fragrances, arousing and seducing the many species around them to come explore their allure in an erotic dance that perpetuates the abundance of life on this lonely rock drifting through empty space.

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Passion Flower #nature #flowers

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Wildflowers are uncivilized, barbaric in their beauty, and defiant in their tenacity to thrive. They persist with unrelenting certainty that they shall … flourish … as they grow across the land whether in the deep woods, along busy streets, or even peeking out from a crack in the sidewalk.

They are everywhere, fully pervasive and free.

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Stillness. #flowers #nature

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These Woods

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On a quest to find my healing rock. #river

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These woods are like home to me.  Whenever I return it is as if I have come back to my spiritual center.  This is where it truly began for me.  I was a misguided youth full of angst and hostility, disillusioned by the world, and spiritually injured. But these woods are a place of healing and renewal, and they changed me. Over the years I’ve seen other people changed by these woods as well.

The medicine is strong along this creek.  The waters are crisp, clear and purifying, and I swear I can hear the voices from generations of spirits echo through the clay-bank valleys, enticing me to release the stresses and pains of my mortal existence, bringing my spirit back to light.

I had my first powerful vision here, where I was healed and transformed into something that could be of better service to my people; something I’m ashamed to admit I had strayed too far from over recent years.

I have experienced giving, sharing, and loving in these woods that are too rarely found in the outside world.

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Fairy Altar in the deep woods. #woods #spirit

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We’ve had gatherings of great souls, teaching circles, solstice and equinox festivities.  Barefoot hippies, country kids, urbanites rediscovering themselves and an assortment of other wanderers have met here as family to share in each other’s good graces.  Bonfires and drums, maypoles, and moonlight dancing bringing people together in love and laughter.  Here, we are free.

         

I remember a stew once made.  A dozen camps contributed to it.  The missing ingredient to tie it all together, an onion was nowhere to be found. Then down the trail came some new arrivals for the evening, and packed in their gear was just such an onion which they gladly contributed. “I don’t even know why I packed it.” He said. “I just grabbed it and threw it in my cooler because I thought it might come in handy.”  So into the stew pot it went, to simmer over the open flames.  A dozen camps were fed from this stew and there was an abundance that never seemed to end.  It was like a true “loaves and fishes” story.

Here we were free to be in our spirits, and the only law was love. Not a law to be rigidly enforced, but simply lived. This is where I learned to love openly.  I felt the darkness I carried with me lifted and I was made new.  It was beautiful.  It is beautiful. And it is where I learned to see beauty in this world that I had for so long been so cynical about.

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Still is still moving to me. #river #woods #nature

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This is why these woods and this river are the place I return to when my spirit needs healing, or if I just need to get away from the noise and distractions that cloud my visions and confine my inner light.  Meditation is stronger here.  Prayers become reality and love can be embraced.

Though I have experienced many great lands and beautiful environments, I’ve never known another place quite like this.

 

We all need something like this in our lives.

 

This is sacred space.

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Sunset through Blackwater Forest #nature #October #woods

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