Harness Your Horse!

ImageHappy New Year! 

Today begins the Chinese Year of the Yang Wood Horse.  Bold, creative, passionate and engaged.  Yang wood energy building through the fiery, impulsive, intuitive and heart-centered passion of the horse.  It’s time to get to harness your heart’s longings and get to business in joyful, galloping style!!!

This Chinese New Year marks what is probably the biggest shift in energies within the entire 60 year cycle of the Chinese calendar.  We have emerged out of two intense, deconstructive, highly emotive and shadow-filled water years into the new growth of Wood and the passionate stamina of Horse.  Last year’s Water Snake forced a profound shedding of skins, a decent into soul shadow and a dissolution of false (egoic) identities and securities at the deepest level.  The preceding Water Dragon year saw a global rebellion against the status quo in the name of love, justice and social responsibility.  It also saw many of these movements smashed by the dragonic energies of established authority, causing yet deeper questioning.  So, if you feel like these last two years systematically took you apart and handed you humble pie, you’ve been perfectly positioned by the universe to engage these new energy in high, fresh style.

If you’ve “lost yourself” a bit in the wash cycle, don’t worry.  Here’s why:  When a snake sheds it’s skin, even the skin over the eyes sheds.  During this time, the skin becomes and opaque shroud, and the snake can’t see.  Trust that you’ve shed those final layers.  Like the snake, who was temporarily blinded, open your new eyes. See yourself anew, as the awesome, totally capable person you really are.  With the added humility, depth and realism the last two years have given you, you are prepared to offer your gifts with greater maturity and strengthened heart.   And, because you can see (and feel) clearly now, be sure to clean closets, finish unfinished business and move through those old locked energies – now. 

This is a year to feed emergent growth, trust intuition, ride creative momentum, and engage the heart stamina of the horse. 


Image3 Affirmations For the Year of the Yang Wood Horse:


1.)  My freedom and response-ability are one.

To be fully alive means to be able-to-respond.  The ability to respond is what distinguishes those who are and who are not free.  The Yang Horse embodies the intersection of freedom and responsibility – the place where our capacity to be in the world, building, creating, engaging passionately with others through visions for a better world – intersects our sensation of freedom – the wild pull of passion on the sinew of our souls. 


2.)  I create because I can and because I have to.

All the energies of the world are aligned to support sustained, heart-centered action.  When the universe is aligned in this way, it is doubly painful not to be engaged.  Don’t fight it.  Jut do it.  It’s going to be ridiculously fun.  Sub-affirmation:  I’ve got the reigns.  I can do it!


3.)  My heart and mind are in perfect alignment.

The Yang (or Green) Horse is an impulsive, intuitive and deeply feeling creature of fire moving through a building cycle of Wood. Let your horse heart gallop delightedly towards your highest visions with strength and surety.  This energy is too strong to be dominated by mind, but are happily harnessed through the structural, coherent energy of wood. 


It’s going to be a great year.  Trust your naked heart, set a clear course, and GET BUSY.  Connect with other in the happy heard.  The universe is supporting your big, bold, dreams and manifestations NOW.





Trust US ~ A Prayer Share

ImageWhy Unify?  Why pray?  What does life want from each of us, and for all of us, together?

Today, I am preparing for VISION and for a major ceremony with UNIFY at Beloved Festival next week.   This is spirit’s voice through me in this moment:

I trust each of you, to the depths of my core, in the listening we hold as a collective.

What arises  in the diversity of our voices, our inspirations, our dances, our visions, reveals the key of DIVERSITY within the prayer for UNITY.  Meaningful unity requires that we each see, know, and engage from different angles in consciousness.
Life says – you can not do it wrong.
Just love.
The land is speaking.
We’re in Shasta camped around an alpine lake nestled into a quiet valley at 7,000 feet.
The air is filled with the smoke of wild fires burning throughout the region.
I woke at dawn to silent, violet haze and the love screech of two blue herons – rare at 7,000 feet.
Herons are harbingers of the collective intelligence of PEACE.
My dreams last night were a vivid, multidimensional tapestry kundalini, spiders and fires.
Remember – we are the weavers. We are the web – our human consciousness is one of the most powerful bioelectric/psychic forces in the universe.
In the listening, I am hearing the continuous echo:  JUNTOS TODOS ES POSSIBLEtogether, everything is possible.
If any one of us goes deep within, we find both terror and palpable electricity, the divine excitement of this planetary moment in which we live.
We are the ones who choose.
Love or fear?
We are the ones who will remember or be lost forever.
This is the ancient and the future calling of the evolutionary potential of humanity.
As the skies fill with smoke of the wild fires burn out of control, I am confronted with my powerlessness.
In the face of the fires, what can I do?  …nothing.
But, within me, rises a deep call – Juntos, Todos es possible.
Hands, hearts, bodies, souls – aligned together in action, for life.
So many different actions for life.
Fire fighters, prayer keepers, dancers, mothers, lovers, farmers..
Together, we can birth a new world.
Flow, flock, lead dissolves to follow.
Step in.
Let go of being right. Listen to the calling of life. INVITE.
COCREATE the harmony of the whole.
PULSE with and for and through.
Life wants more life.  Love wants more love.
This is ours to be.
This is ours to give.
This is our response-ability, our duty, our joy.
We are freedom.
We are love.


Slow Freedom: On the Path Towards a Regenerative Culture

Slow Freedom:

I think a lot about SLOW LEADERSHIP.

What do I mean by SLOW LEADERSHIP?  I mean that leadership is something that every single person is capable of, and that true leadership arises with maturity and deep relationships.  It is not about power over, it is about power shared and empowerment offered.  It is about leading AND following.  It is about learning and living the deep mechanics of co-creation.  It is about the real nature of freedom and the indomitability of love.

It’s also about REGENERATIVE CULTURE… not just sustainability, which really won’t cut it if we want our species to survive over the next few decades, but REGENESIS – beyond steady state and on to net-positive (carbon-negative) life ways.

I am totally committed to spreading and embodying the world-views and self-perceptions that support us to cultivate to create a Regenerative Culture… one person and one organization at a time.

So, here’s this morning’s thoughts on FREEDOM and BOUNDS:

First, we believe that freedom means that we can do whatever we want.  We experience freedom in the joy of expression, motion, self-assertion… We learn “who” we are by gaining the tools we need to express ourselves into the world and by actively asserting this self-experience into the world.

Then, we grow up.  We get a little bigger, we get a little wiser, and we realize that it’s not all about us.  The true “leader” in us begins to awaken.  We start to glimpse that leadership requires restraint… We struggle against this.  It feels like control.  Then, we realize that to be stuck in a concept of freedom is purely self-centered is to live in a prison… If my freedom is purely personal, it becomes meaningless in the context of society where my freedom is co-generated with your freedom.  We are both bound within the same social contract.  We both feed at the same table and drink from the same river.  We both have dreams of a world that serves us, our families, our loved ones.  We both have needs that we can better meet TOGETHER.  Living on a small planet at the verge of total systems collapse reveals, undeniably, that we can not fulfill our needs and dreams when we are separate or against eachother.  We all have differences that we need to negotiate in this process…

The universe opens to as we own the deep path of co-creating with it.

When we “grow up”, or, as I like to think of it – step into the phase of mature adulthood, we realize that we are only free by virtue of our capacity to be and love ourselves in all situations and to co-create with WHAT IS in true honor and service.  We realize that a mature freedom implies stewarding connections, committing to relationships and engaging in processes that hone our patience, our ability to meet challenge, and our ability to occasionally put aside the arising experience of personal desires in favor of commitment to a larger vision, project or process.  Every parent knows about this this.  Every good leader knows all about this.  It is the Divine Right of Kings (and Queens) to understand that service to the kingdom is service to the self (and to the SELF).  It is the truth of our majesty and beauty that we are free not simply by virtue of what we serves us, but also by virtue of how we hold and co-create within our bonds to the world, to our loved ones, to our commitments, and ….yes… to our leadership growing edges where we feel really challenged and stuck and we want to walk away.

This is not separate from HAVING FUN… ! Let’s figure it out together.



And… on this note: two poems.

The first is on of my all time favorites excerpted from David Whyte.  The second is my response.

Deep Freedom

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all other worlds
Except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness
And the sweet confinement
Of your aloneness
To learn
Anything or anyone that does not
Bring you alive
Is too small for you.”
–    David Whyte

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be bound to.
Give up all other worlds
Except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes complete arrival
And the sweet compression
Of your participation
To learn
Anyone or anything that challenges you
Can alight
The flame within.
–    Samantha Sweetwater

Deep Design & Intelligent Systems: Prudence

Oroborus By Sally Hansen


Originally written for the recently published: THRIVABILITY: A Collaborative Sketch

Dear Prudence, the much maligned goddess of foresight!   She was given a bad name during the 1960’s when the Western World busied itself breaking apart Judeo Christian Moral Codes in the name of sexual and spiritual liberation. In the West, many of us have come to associate prudence with control, rigidity, aloofness and over-cautiousness.  We have posed her against the lighter gods of levity, expressivity and permission and attempted to seduce her from her lofty towers.  We have chaffed against her restraint.  We have positioned her in antithesis to freedom. 

We threw the baby out with the bathwater.

Prudence is an eternal virtue and an ecologically integral value.  To be prudent is to be willing to take a profound pause to listen to the greater context before we act.  In so doing, we are empowered to choose wisely and to participate practically.  Prudence is a quality of being that supports the path of thrivability.

Prudence walks, slow and stately, on the high path of perspective and is unafraid of the small sacrifices made for the greater good.  She’s not a kill-joy.  She simply doesn’t get lost in immediate gratification.  She is response-able: able-to-respond with appropriateness, measure and compassion.  Qualitatively, she holds down the fort when things get turbulent.

The life impulse is immediate.  Prudence reaches across the flow of time, weaving past, present and future.

Desire fires towards its own satisfaction.  Prudence invites restraint.

Play gifts levity.  Prudence gathers gravity.

Fear instigates reactivity.  Prudence counsels courage.

Consumption is a basic function of life.  Prudence knows when enough is enough.

Prudence holds the patient counsel needed to co-generate a sustaining now.

To be prudent is to apply sound judgment in practical affairs with the long view in mind.  Prudence is embodied in the ageless sage, the laughing grandmother, the responsive parent, the diligent gardener, and the exquisitely attuned child whose actions are lensed through a living sense of interconnectivity to the whole.  Prudence is embodied by those who can see, feel and respond to life as an intricate web that requires stewarding.  When we act with prudence, we are dancing with greater cycles.  When we act with prudence, we engage with and celebrate our dependent co-arising with the One Great Life.

Thrivability requires this long view.  In the praxis of thrivability, we are reverse-architecting a regenerative physical-psycho-social-spiritual ecology for humanity’s place in the universe.  We are living the question of how to co-generate coherency and balance in our personal and collective relationships with the More-than-human world.  We are beginning to co-create regenerative culture.

Prudence knows that our freedom and survival are delicately interwoven with our responsibility and restraint.  Practicing prudence, we do the “karmic math” in order to determine how our choices and our actions will influence tomorrow.  We feel how this moment impulses out into the future for seven generations to come.  We pause.  We attune.  And, we choose wisely.

First published as part of

Thrivability: A Collaborative Sketch

a collection of over 60 essays and images crafting a topography for thriving

curated by Jean Russell


Today – On Freedom

What is freedom? Really?

Lately, I’ve been in a number of heated conversations with European friends who express a huge distaste for the American concept of freedom, pointing to it as a root cause for the excesses embedded in globalism – values and behaviors that have wrecked such greedy havoc on the planet.

But is freedom the problem, or is it a narrow interpretation of our own highest ideal?

This morning I danced at Sweet’s Ballroom. Sound Master Ron Jones played an exquisitely lucid and diverse set. He put on a track sampling Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech. At first I listened with a kind of hypnotic rapture. Then, I started thinking….

Freedom – for all of God’s people.

I, too, have this dream.

The unique context of freedom in America is precisely this – that all people can have this dream and can have an opportunity to live it.  This concept has uniquely defined the social justice movement on our planet and will continue to for generations to come.

I am not defending “the American Dream.”  I am not interested in arguing about rights.  There is immense hubris in the privatized, selfish and narrow grasping at freedom that has become the norm for many.  And, the concept of rights itself often overlooks the balances implied between the rights of one group over another – witness the disaser we have gotten ourselves into by giving corporations personhood and all the attendant rights and privileges of the most pampered of citizens.  However, I defend the duty to defend freedom.  I defend the duty to be for and uphold the values of freedom and justice.

Listening to the music and moving body and heart, I let my mind travel to a talk that sacred activist and environmentalist Belvie Rooks gave on Thursday night, telling us tales of the cold and barren “door of no return” where countless thousands upon thousands of kings, queens, mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, aunts and uncles of Africa were shoved onto ships and ferried to death or servitude. They traveled a route so greusone that for hundreds of years, the shark migration patterns in the Atlantic shifted to follow the death ships.  What price did they pay?

What is freedom?

Spiritually, it is both an invitation to transcendence, and a calling to embrace whatever is. For, we can not really control anything but the way we respond to life.

And, yet… freedom is also something so tangible, so real. It is defined by what it is not. It is not bondage. It is not servitude. It is not indignity. It is not slavery, or being used, or being degraded.

Freedom arises as we choose to fully value people, and value our world. Freedom arises as we choose to steward our interconnectivity from a place of deep responsibility to our fellow beings.  Freedom arises through a duty to live in accord with a higher law of grace.

And THIS is where the concept of freedom gets deep. For, we can not have a meaningful freedom without responsibility. We can not expect to be free people if we do not act towards the freedom and enoblement of others. We can not hope to live the dream if we do not address where we place our bodies, our planet and other people in bondage through our choices.

So. I have a dream.  I dream, in the vast web of inter-dependent life, that we all choose to co-create a world within which all of god’s creatures can be free.

Dancing Freedom – Chapter 1

“Imagine then a dancer who… has attained such a degree of understanding that his body is simply the luminous manifestation of his soul; whose body dances in accordance with a music heard inwardly, in an expression of something out of another, profounder world. This is the truly creative dancer; natural but not imitative, speaking in movement out of himself and out of something greater than all selves.”
Isadora Duncan – The Philosopher’s Stone of Dancing, 1920

Photo by Wes Carson

Photo by Wes Carson

Creation Dances. The universe dances. When existence was born out of the great, undifferentiated field of the One, the dance was born. Since the beginning of time and the beginning of existence, being has been dancing with essence. Our souls are dancing the space where our spirit and our bodies meet.

The dance is the great unifier. Dance invites us into union with the masculine and feminine, seen and unseen, being and doing, spiritual and physical aspects of ourselves. Gently, fiercely moving us in the tides of our own bodies and emotions, it brings us right to the center of soul. To dance is to celebrate being human – being a spirit in the body living on this miraculous planet called Gaia.

Dancing Freedom is my spiritual practice. It is not a religion. It has no dogmas, no boundaries. It welcomes all bodies, all gestures, all gods. It invites diversity, and through embrace of the wild multiplicity of expression, teaches the truths of Unity. Dancing is spiritual because it is a way of joy. Joy means saying a divine yes to life – to the movement that IS life – all of IT – and, to our divine creatorship. When we move and just keep moving, we become one with all parts of ourselves and with the great cosmic dance.

I believe the dance can set us free. Freedom means that we are at home in our bodies and in our spirits. It means that we have fluidity between our inner connectivity and outer expressivity. When these two parts of ourselves are in dynamic flow, we live with soul. WE dance in the fire of love that is at the center of hearts. Freedom means embracing that fire – being ok with the full spectrum of our experience, at home in all of our stuff AND in our exaltation. I call this divine OK-ness. It is a place where there is no separation between the sacred and the mundane – a place where we KNOW that THIS is the true essence of sacredness. When we live here, we are free. Incredible magic happens. The world opens before us as a place of wonder, color, authenticity and beauty. Our instinctive, intuitive and worldly aspects reconnect. We stop going through the motions of life, and instead really feel the vibrancy and joy of existence pulsing through us.

No true freedom can emerge from resistance. What we resist persists. We are learning how to really love what is, how to embrace. The path of liberation asks us to surrender everything while we simultaneously hold the mother wisdom of creating safe space. What does this look like in the dance? It looks like working within a clear container of practice where we can really let go to explore. It means developing the clarity of our own sense of yes and no. It means exploring how our physical and emotional experiences are holographic reflections of all dimensions of our experience. Our skin is a sacred boundary. Our hearts have boundaries and borders that can be contained, entered, held, opened, surrendered. It is through naked dialogue with the bounded aspect of experience that we come to the blissful experience of boundlessness. It is through the existence of a contained self and a distinct other that we give and receive. When the flow is open in both directions, we can open to the infinity loop of creation.

Freedom does not mean being without boundaries. It means choosing boundaries, keeping agreements with our self and other and communicating clearly and cleanly. It means giving and receiving. It means knowing that we create our realities through choice. The dance teaches the total creativity of the moment. We be, do and act from an inner creative impulse that is always our own, always available for us to claim. It teaches us ownership of this creative impulse, and how to share that impulse without giving away all our energy. The dance teaches us healthy, heart-full ways to be authentic. This is freedom.

Dancing takes me home. This is my practice. My cells speak many languages: jazz, rock, samba, techno, dub, trance, silence. My body knows many paths in time and space: slow, fast, chaotic, graceful, high, low, lazy, energized, linear, circular, sweeping. I connect to the filaments of consciousness that flow through all things, all time and space. And, I surf the textures of dimensions far greater than this one. I ignite in the downward spiral of Love, Light and Energy: the core frequencies of embodiment. I release into the upward spiral of Love, wisdom and power – in action and in essence. Immanence and Transcendence. I return, again and again, to stillness.

I have seven sacred agreements I keep with myself:
1.) I will show up.
2.) I will pay attention.
3.) I will love.
4.) I will be myself.
5.) I will breathe.
6.) I take responsibility.
7.) I honor my body, my emotions, my mind and my spirit.

I keep these agreements …ask others to keep these agreements with me as we re-birth a culture of spirit in the body. As we return to these fundamental ground rules for spiritual practice, we create a powerful field for transformation and a safe space for all souls to dance.

Open Heart Empowerment Ceremony, Mount Shasta

Open Heart Empowerment Ceremony, Mount Shasta

So. You say you don’t dance…. It is a gift of life and right of passage to dance. Once upon a time, everyone danced. The world was born dancing. Mother god seduced father god with her great beauty, and thus, the universe was born. Original peoples everywhere on the planet have danced communion since the beginning of time. It is in your blood. We have danced the cycles of the seasons, the hunt, the harvests, the birth, marriage and death portals of life. We have danced to recognize the girl becoming the woman and the boy becoming man. We have danced for praise, gratitude, forgiveness, harmonization, re-genesis, and transformation. We have danced to become one with the elements, the directions and the devas. The Sufis swirl, the Quakers shake, the bushmen of the Kalahari jump, the Hawaiians hula. South Indian Kathak dancers tell the great Hindu epics in the exquisite detailing of fingers and eyes, while aboriginals, Tibetan Buddhists and Cuban Santeros invite divine energies to take over the body in states of trance.
Our dances reflect our connection to the earth, our beliefs, and the ways in which we relate with each other. They are the backbone of culture.

In this now time, we are coming together to dance a revolution of dancing evolution. We are bridging the mind and the body to create a culture of heart. Dancing is a path of truth. We come to truth through authentic connection and expression. We are not here to seek the truth, we are here to live it. We remember how to do this when we dance. If you feel this call, Dancing Freedom is your tradition. Certainly, it is my tradition. It is a choice. It is my choice. It is a re-birthing of cultural backbone and a celebration of peace. We create Oneness as we dance. WE re-weave the wholeness of the world and the coherence of community. We remember that being human is ok, and that, in this humanness, we can be ONE.

We are luminous bodies. We are light. We know this mentally as a truth of Quantum Mechanics. But, let us dance it – as Truth. Let us touch the knowing that true stillness is moving and that true movement holds all stillness. Let us dance to know our selves, and that which is greater than the self. Let us dance and come home. Let us dance and be Freedom.


Mid-August.  It is Monday night in Tokyo: hot, sultry weather and a room full of bodies in full motion.  Thirty dancers reveal the soul dancing as I “hold space” – just being fully myself and weaving light in the room.  The whole place vibrates, and I feel the earth sending waves of gratitude to us through the floor.

It is a remarkable and brave thing to dance your soul.  Naked, vulnerable and free, I see dancers opening body, heart and spirit in the motion.  Sweaty and blissful, I see people in divine radiance.  I see courage.  I see the whole person.  I see the dance of life, death and birth.  I see timelessness.  It’s exquisite!


As I witness, I begin to contemplate this remarkable courage, expression and beauty.  I think about who these dancers are as people, as spirits, as wisdom keepers.  I shiver.

What is a person? A person is a collection of perceptions, feelings and actions.  A person is a skin bag full of bones, blood and heart.  A person is a miracle – with arms, legs, spine and a mouth to speak.  A person is a spiritual event happening one moment at a time.   A person is a body that includes the physical, emotional, mental, higher self, soul and spirit, all weaving together in one unfolding conversation of Self.    A person is a dance.

What is a dance? A dance is an act of essence.  It is a set of motions dissolving in space and time, never to be repeated again, known only through the experience of the dancer or the awareness of the witness.  A dance is a deeply courageous act.

What is courage? Courage is what I witness every day when these remarkable beings called humans come to do this incredible action called dancing.

Courage is naked self. It requires a willingness to perceive, feel and act.  It requires presence.  It takes guts.

When I see people connecting deeply to what their senses perceive, their bodies and emotions feel, and their dances express, I see raw humanity.  I see incredible, wild, truth.  I see diversity, and I see unity. I see divinity.  Courage is what I see when a person deeply perceives him or herself in the movement, allows that perception to be totally felt, and finds the willingness to express that into the dance.  It is risky.  There are no guarantees.  The gamble is our own freedom.

Tokyo Dance Curtains

Courage means being your self totally, without apology, shame or doubt.  It means being vulnerable.  It is a tool for being wide awake – totally alive and free.  Without the courage to be vulnerable, we can never know true power.  True power comes from embrace of life, not control over it.  The dance asks us to loose control and thus experience being – totally.  It asks us for real embrace.  You can’t dance if you are busy editing your own feelings and actions.  You have to be unconditional.  This is how we learn self-love.

Here in Tokyo, we are dancing.  People are coming together – body and soul – to Dance Freedom and sweat prayers.   Everything is breaking open: hearts wide open, pores wide open, voices wide open, expression wide open!  I am in AWE of what I see.  Awe.  There is no other word for it.  It get kundalini waves just thinking about it.

The freedom to experience and express the self is such a radical thing here in Japan.  Just the concepts of self-awareness and self-leadership are radical.  There is no word for sovereignty in the Japanese Language.  In this culture, there has been so little space to feel, so little room for individuation. Space is tight.  You get by.  You do what you are told.  You fit in and work hard and live in responsibility to your family and ancestors.  You live in the context of a larger culture, an older order and continuity over which you have no control.  Yet, there is an incredible momentum towards self development and a growing drive towards sovereignty.  There is also a call to release the old pictures of cultural identity to enter new possibilities of beauty.  People are claiming their power and recognizing that they are creators.  There is a spark of passion – soul fire! – coming alive everywhere, like the day glow colors on the billboards of this endless city.  These people are so courageous!

This new Soul Fire is idiosyncratic, self-affirming and radiantly alive.  It arrives as a wordless drive, or a will to know, and it opens the gates of the heart.   People are shedding the skins of culture and asking WHO AM I?  WHAT DO I WANT?  WHAT AM I HERE TO CREATE?  HOW CAN I LOVE – MORE?  HOW CAN I BE FREE?  WHAT IS MY PURPOSE?   HOW CAN I LET GO OF EGO?  Each place I go, I meet people struggling with the Great Questions.  It is time to dance.  In the dance we arrive at sensation, feeling and action: the simplest building blocks of our humanity.  We remember that the answers are not external, like new clothes or new jobs, but are held in the heart and in the ways in which we experience our lives. We find the courage to be ourselves, and THIS is the only real answer.  Let life be an endless question.  It is much more interesting that way.  This is where the Dance of Freedom begins.

Tokyo Crew 4

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires.”
— Clarissa Pinkola Estes