Posted in General Interest, Jamie Dedes, memoir, Poems/Poetry, poetry

and then a new generation

10358082_10152372768442034_1234373728_n…and then a new generation …
a boy, an old soul
but a merry new story
fresh at bone and marrow
adhering to Conrad’s dictum
with little shocks and surprises
in every sentence of his book
his life, his metaphor . . .
wearing Truth as his dermis
seeking tears, not blood
and he, like all good art
changed me for the better

© 2014, poem, Jamie Dedes, Photograph courtesy of my cousin Dan, all rights reserved, from the family album, please be respectful

Photo on 2014-03-31 at 17.16 #3unnamed-18JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day)~I am a medically retired (disabled) elder and the mother of married son who is very dear. I started blogging shortly after I retired as a way to maintain my sanity and to stay connected to the arts and the artful despite being mostly homebound. My Facebook pages are: Jamie Dedes (Arts and Humanities) and Simply Living, Living Simply.

With the help and support of talented bloggers and readers, I founded and host The Bardo Group because I feel that blogging offers a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters and not as “other.”

“Good work, like good talk or any other form of worthwhile human relationship, depends upon being able to assume an extended shared world.” Stefan Collini (b. 1947), English Literary Critic and Professor of English Literature at Cambridge

Posted in Spiritual Practice, Victoria C Slotto

The Web of Illusion

Photo: wikipedia commons
Photo: wikipedia commons

For the Summer Solstice—the longest day of the year, the first day of summer–I  turned my meditation corner around, facing my chair looking out the window instead of looking at the eerie but beautiful reflections of the leaves of our ornamental pear tree fluttering on the blank wall of my room. While the images were hypnotic, I couldn’t help but think of Plato in his cave and the thought haunted me that this was illusory beauty.

Photo Credit: Sara Loverling
Photo Credit: Sara Loverling

Looking directly at the trees, deep into our yard and yards beyond our own allowed me to see the play of light and shadow, and only a slight flutter of leaves. For the moment, stillness was able to come in…until illusion reappeared in the form of a bird that land on our roof and projected its shadow onto the side of our neighbor’s house. The shadow appeared long and skinny, almost like a sand piper or a heron, but since we don’t have either of those birds here in Reno, I realized I was once again facing illusion.

As I age, I’m aware of the imperative to dispel the illusions I’ve so carefully fashioned to carry me through life. A few months ago, I began digging through old journals, over forty of them—reviewing life, tearing up pages, letting go of secrets, negative emotions, anger and hurt, unfulfilled dreams, dusting off the mysterious web of illusion and, yes, celebrating growth, insight and success.


It’s interesting to see how the same old issues that cropped up back in 1988 are no different than those of today. I had to chuckle at my observations on then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s (Benedict XVI) ultraconservative stance that I found alienating to so many. If I’d only known.

And then there was/is my need to control—my perfectionism. I complained that I was only getting 6 hours of sleep because, when I awakened, I thought of how much I had to do and couldn’t go back to sleep. The morning  of the Super-moon I was up at 4 AM (couldn’t find it) and, of course, stayed awake thinking of how much I wanted to get done that day. It’s like that most every day.

And thus: illusion. Here I am—approaching the end of another decade of my life, still believing that so much, everything, depends on me. In another ten years, if I’m still playing this wonderful game of life, will it still be the same?

A few questions to reflect upon: What are your illusions? What purpose do they serve? Is it time to do something about them? You can comment if you like, but my intent is just to get you thinking.

Have a blessed day.

(Reblogged from Victoria C. Slotto, Author)

Victoria and Dave Slotto
Victoria and Dave Slotto

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~  a Contributing Writer to Into the Bardo ,attributes her writing influences to her spirituality, her dealings with grief and loss, and nature. Having spent twenty-eight years as a nun, Victoria left the convent but continued to work as a nurse in the fields of death and dying, Victoria has seen and experienced much. A result of Victoria’s life experience is the ability to connect with readers on an intimate level. She resides in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two dogs and spends several months of the year in Palm Desert, California.

Winter is Past is her first novel. It was published in 2012 by Lucky Bat Books. She has a second novel in process and also a poetry chapbook. Victoria is also an accomplished blogger and poet who has assumed a leadership role in d’Verse Poet’s Pub. You can read more ofher fine poetry HERE.

Posted in Buddhism, Michael Watson, Shamanism, Spiritual Practice

Spring, Ritual, and the Great Mystery

P1050397When I first began learning the ways of shamanism, more than thirty years ago, my Cherokee teacher used to speak to me about the similarities between Buddhism and Native American thinking. She was particularly fascinated by Tibetan Buddhism, and had traveled to Asia to meet with Tibetan teachers. I was intrigued, but not particularly interested in learning more. I was still trying to sort out my relationship to Native America. Adding Buddhism to the mix was quite simply beyond me.

Recently, I’ve been reading Bringing Zen Home, by Paula Kane Robinson Arai. The book is a marvelous piece of ethnographic writing examining the ways a group of Japanese women use domestic zen practices as healing tools. If one only read the early sections on ritual, the book would be a worthy purchase. Reading Arai’s words reminded me of my first teacher. I imagine she would love the book, especially the author’s focus on gratitude,  joy, kindness, and ritual as sources of connection to All That Is. She would also, I believe, deeply appreciate the discussion of Dogen, and his weaving together of form and formlessness.

This week Nature gave expression to the form/formlessness paradox. A few days ago there were buds on the trees, then in a single day, as if arising from nothing, innumerable umbrels of furled leaf and flower replaced them. The umbrels, in turn, transformed into flowers in full bloom, then immature seeds. Now the trees have largely leafed out; the entire process seemed to occur overnight, a green, fiery, big bang. Engaging Nature’s seasonal changes, we are reminded that the progression of the year is a ritual, encompassing and illuminating the patterns of Self as we unfurl, transform, and perhaps, seek rebirth. Our very lives enact, and reenact, the great patterns of the natural world.

I’ve also been reading Patrisia Gonzales’ Red Medicine: Traditional Indigenous Rites of Birthing and Healing. In this volume Gonzales reminds us that human birth is another expression of the paradox. We know how pregnancy happens, yet the miracle of personhood challenges any simple reductionism. In quite a few Native traditions reincarnation is a given. One just expects those who pass on to be reborn to the family line, often announcing their intent by appearing to their prospective mother in a dream. Life and death are doors through which we pass, nothing more than state changes. Yet we do not know, ultimately, where we come from or whither we go; that remains a Great Mystery, of which we are all, innately, a part.

In their respective books Arai and Gonzales discuss ritual as serving to connect women to the Great Mystery, and in so doing, offering the possibility of an expanded perspective and healing. Their ideas echo those offered me by teachers in Native traditions from both North and South America, although rather than the term, “ritual”, my teachers often utilized “ceremony”.  As a mature practitioner, I encourage those who come to me for healing to create meaningful rituals in their daily lives, to “practice.” I also strongly advocate for ceremony. Like ritual, ceremony seeks to make evident the sacred nature of our lives, to encourage gratitude, and to embody participants in the experience of self as cosmos. When rituals and cerem0ny work, we are transported into an awareness of being part of, and supported by, All That Is. Of the two, perhaps ceremony is more social, often engaging communities in support of those seeking healing.

Reading the work of these thoughtful authors has reminded me of  my first teacher’s wisdom, insight, and clarity. Looking back those many years, I now see her efforts to broaden my perception in a new, more favorable light. I am grateful for her kindness and teachings.

– Michael Watson

© 2013, essay and all photographs include the portrait below, Michael Watson, All rights reserved

michael drumMICHAEL WATSON M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World) ~ is a contributing editor to Into the Bardo, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent. He lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there. Recently Michael has been teaching in India and Hong Kong. His experiences are documented on his blog. In childhood he had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.

Posted in Jamie Dedes, Poems/Poetry





Jamie Dedes


Midnight blue, so long and empty

it swallows the moon to fill heart

and still the strings of that beat

playing amber vibrato on the

dew breezes. It stings with lusts of

whispered secrets, of river speak.

Listen, before the mourning dove.


Pink pale love found, lost again.

Time and mind drift on ‘til there sets

a lotus peace. In that place full now

with chiaroscuro pleasures, neither

the moon or the sun, nor even stars.

Pure internal verities, unalloyed joy.

Photo credit ~ Petr Kratochvil, Public Domain

Posted in Guest Writer, Poems/Poetry




Danielle Mari

Awoke with this thought brought to me via dreaming memory. The central image comes from a moment at a wedding I attended years ago, a wonderful celebration of the union of two people incredibly special to me then and even more special to me now.  The man who married these two souls (called Erik and Karen, for those of you keeping score at home), used this metaphor to illustrate the idea of patience. That image remained with me, resurfacing again and again over the years, gaining depth of meaning for me. Here, with apologies to anyone involved on that day, I have made it my own. Hope you enjoy.

Much as you want to

you mustn’t.

Wrest the petals,

force them open,

and you’ll bruise

fragile silken pistils.


Much as you cannot

you must.

Wait very patiently,

allow water to

wander up the stem,

fatten the bud.


Much as you can

you shall

abide an agenda

set by the sun

whose warm whispers

coax her unfurling.

Danielle is an active participant in a poetry community to which I belong. When I read this poem, I was completely charmed and certainly its message is relevant to all of us “in the bardo”  … and who among us is not? With Danielle’s permission her poem is posted here. For more of Danielle Mari’s fine poetry, visit her at her poetry blog, Mission Improvisational. J.D.

Photo credit – Brunhilde Reinig, Public Domain

Posted in Jamie Dedes, Poems/Poetry




Jamie Dedes

We flew along the freeway yesterday under

a cold coastal expanse of cerulean ceiling.


It reminded me of you and how we dusted

the vaults of your mind to rid them of fear

and the old lexicons of grief and guilt, the

whalebone girdles of unfounded faith and

everyday conventions, sticky and saccharine.

I thought of that one sea-green day we spent


under just such a sky in a land far away and

how we changed your name then and rewrote

your story to tell of oak trees instead of old times.

You sketched flowers blossoming in the dust

of a spring that promised but never delivered.

Now we don’t speak of men, but of cats with


their manner of keeping heart and claws intact.

We tell ourselves stories in music that resounds

in deep sleep. After all the ancient calls to

feral festivals will still and time coming when

we no longer play in margins, memories hung

on our skeletons like Spanish moss on cypress.


It pleases me that fissures spin into poemed reliquary

and the pink poeu de soie I wore to our prom that June.

Photo credit: Stupa (reliquary) With Pillars, Gandhara 2nd Century courtesy of PHGCOM under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License