Posted in Essay, Liz Rice-Sosne, Spiritual Practice

A Second Spiritual Experience – Part Two

During this time in November of 2005 I communed with a Great Horned Owl and a Red-Tailed Hawk each who each resides in Forest Park.  One evening I was meant to take to the hawk, as an act of thanks, a chicken wing and place it upon a particular iron waist-high pole on the edge of the ball fields. It was Friday night. My husband kindly came with me to Straub’s the family grocery where I shop.  He hung back a bit somewhat embarrassed.  On Friday night the place is mobbed.  So, I got in line at the butcher’s counter and waited until my turn. There was a long wait. When it was finally my turn I ordered one chicken wing.  Everyone else in line hearing my request went nuts: “one chicken wing!”  Well no, actually, “just a half of a wing I did not want the drummie.”  People were looking at me in utter disbelief, as though I had wasted their collective time with purpose.  Once I had the wing I left for the park.  The problem there was that there were police everywhere.  It looked as though I was putting some garbage on a post.  But, I fulfilled the task and had no encounters with local law enforcement.  Aside from my request to God, the other thing that initiated my experience was my long conversation with a Vietnam Veteran.

What this experience in its entirety did for me; was to give to me the actual feelings that many war veterans experience during their times in war.  You might wonder: “how could that possibly be?”  I suspect that I was meant to feel what many soldiers felt during war, because I would later work with them at the VA.  For all of my life, veterans were persons to be thought of on Memorial Day and on Veteran’s day, period. I was conceived immediately after WWII.  So, my relation to veterans was not unusual. After my experience in which I sensed the emotional torment of those who have seen battle I was radically changed.  I studied war. I volunteered at the VA for several years and I gained a healthy respect and love for our country’s veterans. I might add I truly gained a deep respect and love for Vietnam Vets as they are of my generation. I also acquired abhorrence for war. I truly came to understand “love the warrior, hate the war.”  Most cannot enter into that cliché and act upon it. It is very tricky and very difficult for it is so political.   But my experience lacked all political thought or sense.

The other thing that I did was write about 20 poems about war, veterans, acts of war … really anything that came out of my experience that year.  My first poem titled: “A Certain Madness.” It came about during one particular writing class that I taught at the VA.  The poem follows.

A Certain Madness

Each one came, soldier, marine, airman, frog, walking quietly as if wrapped within the cocoon of his own world.

War’s sad energy like a gray, heavy mist lay upon the shoulders of each, reality spiking their dull black piercing shadows.

Each man sat at the table abandoned. 
 “Just a word? Coffee please.  May we write yet?”

And then he stood.
 A large and heavy presence, poorly balanced.

He shouted:  “Don’t you see them?
 There, in the corners … there is one in each corner.”

“How dare they come here?
 I ought-a know. 
I was with the CIA.”

Then he sat down defeated, again. 
 He seemed to relax until another
stream of madness crept out of his throat.

“I will NOT be giving you a sample today! 
 There will be no writing samples. 
 THEY … are here for that reason you know, to collect them.”

And I thought to myself: 
“Does the madness hide the pain? Or perhaps this pain drives one mad.”

© Liz Rice-Sosne

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced numerous friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

Posted in Essay, Shamanism, Spiritual Practice

A Second Spiritual Experience – Part One

I feel privileged to be in the company of those who write here upon The Bardo.  It is an honor.  Though untrue, I often feel as though we write together.  That is comforting to me.

Spiritual experiences are by their very nature exceptionally private.  They can be difficult to speak of due to that private nature and due to the lack of an adequate lexicon.  I am not terribly private.  So, I would like to share one of my own experiences with you, as it radically changed my life.  It was 2005 and I had been retired for two years.  I served on several boards as a volunteer but otherwise I was bored.  So I will say to you before you read further – do not be offended by anything that I say.  This is a personal experience.  I am not proselytizing nor would I ever.  I am merely sharing.

I have never served in the military and I have never been to war.  The closest I came was in 1967-8 when formerly married and living on Okinawa, close to the war in Vietnam.  But that experience bears no relation to this experience.  This experience of which I speak was the second life changing spiritual experience that I have had within my lifetime. The first was Christian in nature in 1973.

This life-changing experience came to me via my plea one day to God: “What do you want me to do? What should I do now?”  At about the same time I began an ongoing conversation with a Vietnam Veteran, a former B-52 Bomber Pilot.  The experiences that followed were all a part the answer to my question. This experience was shamanic in nature. Shamanism is something that I studied in the 80s and 90s. This experience lasted about 6 weeks, it appeared to many that I might be having a “nervous breakdown.”  My friends were worried. My husband trusted me but worried nonetheless.  The experience was very dramatic, very painful and most ecstatic. I knew that I was doing exactly what I was meant to do.  None-the-less, I hung on for dear life. It was extremely hard to remain grounded. To do so I engaged the services of three different people, a body-worker, an exercise therapist and a counselor.  I remember and will recount one particularly humorous thing that happened.  Tomorrow.

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced numerous friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

Posted in Essay, General Interest, Liz Rice-Sosne, Poems/Poetry, poetry, Spiritual Practice, Writing

Haiku – A Spiritual Experience

600px-Poecile-atricapilla-001I am sitting here trying to remember what prompted me to write one haiku per day during the first 6 months of 2012.  I was ill, that was the first reason for doing so.  I wished to remain connected to my writing community, keep alive my connection with the friends that I had met online.  I knew that I could not manage an article daily so I needed to write something short.  I decided that haiku was the answer.  Was there any shorter form of poetry?  The learning and the writing that year became for me a spiritual experience.  It taught me to see the world through a new and different lens.  I am so grateful for this experience

I have always been drawn to haiku even when young.  What can be said in 17 syllables, those three short lines of 5, 7, 5 syllables?  It would be easy – just compose three short lines of poetry a day.  Those thoughts will tell you just how little I knew of haiku when I began.  Experience has shown me that many Americans have little knowledge of haiku seeing it simply as three lines of poetry with the 5-7-5-syllable count.  If seen this way the reader and writer of haiku will never be fully satisfied.

The first thing that one should know is that the syllable count fits Japanese words or syllables.  Japanese words or syllables are nothing like English language syllables.  When attempting to write a haiku there are many things to consider before considering the word count.  The second thing that I learned is that it is often written in one line.  Just one.  In Japan that line is often written from top to bottom.  It is vertical.  I do not write vertically.

Poignancy in haiku is important.  The most important thing about haiku for me is very hard to put into language.  For I see haiku as a language all its own.   A haiku ties things together.  Haiku conveys the depths of nature’s beauty and its power.  Haiku shows ones relationship with nature.  One haiku can express in a few words what it might take a psychologist an entire magazine article to profess.  Haiku can evoke within the reader new understanding.  I equate haiku to light.  It can dazzle in brightness.  It can illuminate a path.  It can act as a halo separating yet conjoining reader and writer through the poem.  You are placed within the poem.  Haiku connects the ancient with the modern, the light with the dark, and nature with man/womankind.

The book to which I turn most often for reference is “The Haiku Handbook, How To Share Write and Teach Haiku,” by William J. Higginson.  I would go so far as to say that he has he has “lived” haiku, making his teachings easy to understand and to apply.  When writing haiku my goal is to be living in the moment, to be “living haiku.”  It is a spiritual moment.  I wish to express that moment to you so that you feel what I feel.  I believe Higginson tells us that haiku is about the eloquence of sharing those feelings.  It is easy to say to your friend: “the sky is beautiful.”  But in doing so, you do not really convey what you feel.   Nor are you conveying any degree of real beauty.  According to Higginson, when we share the depths of what we feel through haiku we are building community.   What more important act is there?

The first thing that I do when writing a haiku is search for a kigo.  A kigo is a season word and mandatory in haiku.  Your haiku should be driven by what you feel for your subject and your choice of kigo.   I view the kigo as an anchor.  There are numerous kigo databases online.  New words are always being added.

We have just experienced a foot of snow here in the midwest.  The last time we had so much snow was 1982.  This is an immense weather event here.  Along with subzero temperatures accompanied by wind many of us are pretty much homebound.  I would like to share this large weather experience with you by writing a haiku.  I edit and re-edit before I am happy with them.  Each of these are a part of my process for creating one haiku.

wall of snow – broken branches dangling from trees (this sounds awkward to me)


deep white snow – hidden branches (this coveys little feeling)


drifting snow – a chickadee’s cap (this possesses the essence of what I am looking for)

Final haiku:

blowing drifting snow – chickadee’s black cap

– Liz Rice-Sosne

© 2013, essay, Liz Rice-Stone, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Black-capped Chickadee via Wikipedia and under CC A-SA 3.0 unported license

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced numerous friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

Posted in Jamie Dedes, Poems/Poetry


[It is two years since I had what I can only describe as a powerful spiritual experience. I wrote about it at some length in an essay entitled “Child-God: Model for our Future… or Victim of our Failure?“. In brief, it was the result of spending a few short hours with my new grandson, my eldest daughter’s second child, in my arms, in the presence of my family. He was then a mere 7 days old. Last week, my son’s wife delivered me another grandson, whom I held for the first time at the age of five days. Although delivered at full term, he is still so tiny and vulnerable and it doesn’t matter how many new-born babies I see, their smallness never ceases to surprise me. The experience of holding my latest grandson, reminded me of this poem] …

baby-13719870150asI walked and wandered,
we talked, I sang,
but also had to sit awhile
for what seemed like an age.
You’d had a surfeit at the bar
you had leaked a bit
from both ends…
and seemed uncomfortable,
unhappy, not surprisingly.

This meant I had to change
your clothes completely!
I struggled for a while,
wishing this messy,
ear-rending moment away
but then…
amidst your own discomfort,
over which you sadly held
little or no control,
I saw a light, it wasn’t bright,
but bright enough;
slow burning, illuminating;
an oh so gentle warmth
that melted my impatient heart
and conferred on me
an unexpected gift
that no amount of money
could ever buy.

How is it that
we all spend so much time
chasing dreams;
seeking solutions
to problems we created;
searching for answers
to humanity’s eternal questions?
Craving, wanting, longing,
ever wishing for a bit
of luck, good fortune,
a favourable turn of dice;
that our numbers will come up
in life’s great lottery.

Don’t we all sometimes wish
for an elusive piece
of impossible magic,
the simple thought of which
dopes our senses
stupefies our rational thought;
makes us wish
that each of our Mondays
was a Friday;
dissolving our conscious lives
into hopelessness
and misery?

How then our dark, dark souls
so easily fall prey
to the business solutions
of Beelzebub;
to the chemical dependencies
of a crowded world;
the release afforded by
a liquid paradise;
perversely powdered

And yet…

and yet you,
all ten pounds of you,
after venting your lungs
– designed to strengthen them
against future exertions –
were unexpectedly becalmed.
As if absorbed by my plight,
your eyes lit up
by dark pools of the universe
and sucked me in…
hook, line and sinker.

Why could I not see this before,
this embodiment of all that’s good;
this absolute alcohol,
intoxicating, enthralling
absorbing and healing my soul,
melting my heart
into complete and utter
submission to your will.
And when you started to cry again,
it didn’t hurt so much,
the pain in my head subdued
as my whole system absorbed
this powerful essence
of you.

You then relaxed
and shuddered with a sigh
and I felt your body go
completely limp.
It was as if you
had made up your mind
to place your trust in me.
I felt an awesome responsibility.

Then, at once, I looked at you,
as if transformed;
you had cast your magic spell,
as if you had become the very thing
that, instinctively, I know you are;
know that you, who have
no knowledge,
no biass or understanding,
no prejudice, no judgement,
no hint of avarice or greed,
must be protected
from the repeated corruption
that man bestows upon man;
woman upon woman;
protected at all costs,
at any price…
with my life.

You are the Child-God,
the spiritual repository
of all of mankind’s hopes
and dreams:

the embodiment…

…of perfection

– John Anstie

(Read the author’s commentary on this Poem)

© 2011 John Anstie, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ George Hoden, Public Domain

John_in_Pose_Half_Face351w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British poet and writer, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer. John participates in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. John is also an active member of The Poetry Society (cover1UK).

John has been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

* Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

Posted in Guest Writer, Poems/Poetry, Shamanism

SHAMANIC JOURNEY, Old Raven travels to Machu Picchu, Peru

Following the shaman. (2007)




Old Raven (RavenPress), All Rights Reserved

Still, stillness now
Quiet, center … centered now
Go deeply within
Slowwwwww … ly
Deeply quiet.
Deep within
Space consummation.
Not hurtling … no, not hurtling towards the void.  But slowly advancing.
Slowwwwly … condense all thought.
Become nothing.
your place
your opening
movvvve slowly towards
your opening.  Be still.
the tunnel.
LAND.  Quietly.
Summon … your Power.
Summon your … Animal.
Let him/her
Now take you into the void.  Void.  VOID.
CIRCLE … find what you need.
bring it back.  BLOW.
Rattle … feather.
Return now … open, open, open … your … eyes.
The rocks carved to imitate the mountains … an alignment happened when the sun reached a certain place in the sky.
An Alter used for ceremony long ago.
Standing with my feet curled over the edge looking straight down 2600 feet, this is where I chose to lose my fear of heights.
Doing ceremony.
© 2011, 2012 poem and photographs, L. Rice-Sosne All Rights Reserved. No re-blogging or reprinting without the express permission of the author.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

OLD RAVEN writes poetry and memoir and shares her photography at RavenPress. She  lives with her husband and several pets and writes extensively about war and the suffering that results, especially post-traumatic stress disorder. She also touches on her own spiritual healing, shamanic studies, and the outcome of her shamanic journey. Currently Old Raven is working on a major project: a book about her mother’s experience of World War II, which we look forward to reading one day. Her mother worked for the United States Office of War Information (OWI). Old Raven just completed a five-year study of the Second World War, combat PTSD, and her father’s war experience.  She recently celebrated a birthday. We gratefully celebrate her here today. Please visit her blog to say “hi” and “happy birthday.” Happy Birthday, Liz.