NO MORE HARSH LESSONS
There was a red flag warning for that night. I hated the wind. Growing up in tornado-alley Oklahoma I learned as a child that you do not fuck with the weather. The wind rustled up memories of grabbing my dog and gerbils, opening the windows of my house, and hopping in my grandma’s truck to go back to their cellar. Even then, the wind had messages for me. Messages that I was finally ready to hear.
I walked along our acreage, preparing for the wind that was to come. Securing the goat’s hay, covering our small tractor, picking up after Joshua because he never did it himself. My anxiety about the wind stirring up other feelings: resentment, anger, frustration. He always laughed at me for preparing for the Santa Ana winds.
“It’ll do whatever it wants!” he would yell at me. Yeah, I know what it can do, I responded in my head.
The last time the wind came, the travel trailer we were living in on our property shook like I’d never experienced. I’d never actually been in a tornado, so I didn’t know what it felt like. Laying there in bed with Joshua, I had listened to the wind groan around and under the trailer, and there were moments I thought it would tip us over completely.
How much does our trailer weigh again? I wondered. I tried to reason myself out of my fear. It didn’t work. I didn’t sleep and I didn’t want to ever experience that fear again.
This time I was ready. After I secured everything that I could think of, I went inside to prepare some mushrooms for a journey. I had never prepared the tea myself — Joshua had always done it for us, as he had introduced me to these magical beings.
I held the jar of mushrooms that Joshua had bought for us, and asked them to help me. I didn’t know exactly how much to take, but the number 2.2 kept coming to me, so I measured out 2.2 grams. I knew that 4 grams was a high dosage, because that was the dosage I’d had the first time I’d journeyed with mushrooms without knowing that was what I’d been given. A heroic dose, Joshua had called it. But that is a different story for a different time.
I sat alone, in the trailer in front of the makeshift altar I’d created. I set an intention, holding the mushrooms I’d picked that had also picked me. I asked to be shown what I needed to see and I asked for help in facing the wind. My plan was to take the mushrooms just before dark and then to go out into the field to meet the wind face to face, once and for all. I was tired of running from it. I had been running from the wind my whole life.
Dusk approached and I dressed to be outside in the cold. It was December in the high desert of Rainbow, California, and although our land was very protected, the Sana Ana winds sometimes made a direct hit. I put on leggings, a sweater, a hat and left my boots by the door. Joshua was still out in the field, trying to put up the greenhouse for reasons I could not fathom. Who puts up a greenhouse right before a red flag event? But he was a contrarian, and he did things to prove something to someone long gone.
I felt prepared. I felt strong. It felt really good to be my own medicine woman, finally. I knew I was the only one responsible for my experience. It was just me and the mushrooms. I prayed for their guidance as I drank the warm, bitter, earthy tea. Particles rested on my tongue and I choked them down. Does it matter if I don’t like the taste? I wondered.
I sat in the living room of the trailer in my recliner. Brand new, it had been beautiful. But only one year in, many things were beginning to wear. RV’s were not built to live in. I reflected on our journey as I waited for the medicine to drop into my system. Gus, our amazing Rottweiler Shepherd mix rescue dog laid in Joshua’s recliner beside me. I had not wanted to rescue him. It had been too soon after moving onto our land for me, but Joshua didn’t care. He wanted Gus and then he wanted goats, and an alpaca. I had tried to resist, tried to advocate for myself, but after a few violent fights I had frozen, and abdicated. Looking back, I could see that I had done that alot. Some part of me was frozen, trying to figure out how someone who claimed to love me could treat me that way. I just couldn’t understand it, and so it kept happening. Fight after fight, threat after threat, force after force, coming too quickly for me to ever process. I had never experienced anything like that with a man before.
I felt the edges of my vision soften and the familiar, subtle nausea of the mushrooms as they began to take over. I surrendered to their wisdom, to their guidance.
For me, every journey is different. Every journey brings new insights, new messages, new opportunities to expand my perception. As my visual perception began to shift, I began to see the liquid nature of reality. It isn’t actually solid. Just like the quantum physicists have discovered. As I sat, feeling the edges of my body, I looked over at Gus. Ours was a spectacular love story.
He’d been injured and required surgery a couple of months after we got him. Before that, he’d slept outside and was a dusty dog. When we’d picked him up after his surgery, the vet had informed us that he needed to spend two weeks inside to allow his wounds to heal. Shocked, I realized that I hadn’t even thought about that, and simultaneously I knew Gus had manifested the whole thing to be able to come into the trailer. My beautiful, clean trailer was forever changed after that. But, somehow, over those two weeks, Gus and I bonded deeply. It was hard for him to be separated from Joshua — they were clearly soulmates — but it gave us time to form our own bond, and now I loved this dog deeply. I felt responsible for him, which was what I had hoped to avoid. I had too much trauma as a girl on a farm to want responsibility for any other living thing.
As I looked at him now, he looked back at me and I saw something new. I saw that we were saying goodbye, although I didn’t know what it meant. Was he leaving? Was I? He transmitted to me that he loved me and that he released me from any responsibility for him. Tears spilled out of my eyes and down my face as I reached over to stroke him, telling him I loved him. We sat that way for while, and although I didn’t fully understand what it meant yet, I knew it was true. I knew he and Joshua had a soul contract and that I was not a part of it.
I could hear Joshua taking his boots off outside the trailer, and I went to the bedroom so I could be alone in my journey. I had told him about my journey, so luckily he wasn’t expecting me to fix dinner. I closed the bedroom door and lay on the bed. The sun had set, but the sky was still a psychedelic rainbow, even without the mushrooms. I looked out the window and watched the endless sky you see at two thousand feet of altitude. I could feel the wind more on this side of the trailer, and I could feel it picking up. I was afraid to go down into the pasture to meet it by myself, and I also wanted to face this fear. I had already faced so much this past year out here.
I turned on the playlist I’d made for myself to journey, also a first. Music, or at least some music, really enhances the journey for me. I can hear things I’ve never heard, even in songs that I know by heart. Different mushroom strains yield different types of journeys, but in general music is a powerful way to experience mushrooms. The music speaks to your soul. And the mushrooms attune you to your soul. I can feel truth and purity so clearly when I journey. There’s no doubt. I might not like everything I see or hear, but I can feel its truth.
I must have laid there for over an hour, just feeling the music, seeing the notes in my mind’s eye. Fractals dancing in turquoise, like looking through a kaleidoscope. I could hear Joshua talking to Gus, and that comforted me. I could feel the wind gently rocking the trailer and I wondered when I would be called to go outside.
Just then, a different song came on. I had heard it before, but not in this way. There was such a softness and warmth it transmitted to me that I began to cry. To soften. And it was then that the mushrooms said to me, “No more harsh lessons. You’ve suffered enough. You don’t need to go outside and meet the wind. Put on your pajamas and be warm in bed.”
And with that, I wept. Wept with relief, wept with gratitude. Allowed Grace to enter me, to soften me. And then I put on my pajamas and got under the covers and suddenly the gentle rocking of the trailer felt comforting instead of terrifying. The funny thing was that the wind never increased that night. Despite the predictions, it remained my babysitter, gently rocking me to sleep on the high desert.
Something shifted in me after that night. I began to see that I had suffered enough. And I knew it was time for me to leave. I had no idea how I would be able to do it, but I knew I could. And I did. Two weeks later, I left the high desert, the land I’d paid for and all the things on it, the man that I thought I loved, the dog I never wanted. I left them all to save myself.