Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Amanita Muscaria and other Finds

Mushroom season is upon us! I've been on several forays in the last month, so I'm just gonna splash up some of the best pics. Mushroom identification is like dream interpretation sometimes.... only you can decide about what to do next with the information revealed.

Disclaimer for Kids: don't eat wild mushrooms. Bad idea.

So below is a red bolete, poking out of the duff. I like how they hide.

And these are candy caps (lactarius rubidus) - which are amazing in cookies and even homemade ice cream.

And a tiny shrimp russela - considered "choice" but we just took photos.

But the real winner last week was amanita muscaria.

Yes, this is the smurf mushroom, the original Christmas present under the pine tree, the friend of many Siberian shamans. They were all over the place the week before Christmas!

Here's another amazing one:

Little hider. For more background into the psycho-mythic past of amanita muscaria, check out this post by Feral Kevin.

How to Prepare Amanita Muscaria to Eat

We ate them. Yes, they're poisonous/visionary as is, but we didn't want to go that road so here's how we safely ate the amanita muscarias without any ill effects:

1. Brush loose dirt off freshly picked mushrooms
2. cut them into slices like chicken strivulets
3. boil them for 15-20 minutes in a pot. The muscimol and related toxins are water-soluble so this renders the flesh edible.
4. Pour out the water and do what you will with that. Siberian shaman used to drink reindeer piss to get at these psychotropic compounds - just sayin'.
5. Sauté the mushroom flesh like you treat meat or tofu. We used butter.
6. Eat! The taste is amazing - I kept saying "this tastes like delicious chicken strivulets." A little salt helps too. Eat over rice, as a side, or in a salad.

I usually don't recommend the eating of wild mushrooms so glibly, but this is about the one mushroom in the world that is easily recognizable and has no deadly look-a-likes. After all, amanita muscaria is technically poisonous, so you've been warned. Do your homework and have a mushroom expert on hand whenever cooking wild mushrooms.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Picking Feral Pears

They make you feel like a very bad person for picking the fruit out of an orchard that hasn't been managed properly for thirty years or more. (I originally typed out "like a terrorist" but then the Feral Princess says, "A terrorist? They do say Please.")

Motionless in pear trees when the cars go by, filling up a backpack each. Evading a Ranger in a white truck. The action resonates back into the Middle Ages, or anytime in the past and the future that we climb uninvited into the King's private gardens.

Suburban forage is my responsibility to this land, and that trumps my responsibility to the King.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eco Dreaming

I just wrote a long post about archetypal dreams and ecopsychology over at my dream studies site. Check it out; this is an important meeting grounds of ecology and dreams.

In the past, most communities listened to the dreams that bubbled up, especially during hard times. One of the interesting elements of human leadership is the dream-vision that speaks for the community at large. For better or worse, charistmatic leaders often used these emotionally powerful visions to stir up action, or face something that they could no longer afford to ignore.

That's where archetypal dreams come into play, socialized and legitimized by their authenticity.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Acorn Harvest 2008

So every time I think about updating my ecopsychology blog, I am presented the choice: I can blog about being outside, or I can.... go outside. So that's been Dreamcrisp's fatal flaw for the last few months.

The rain's have started in Northern California, not in earnest, but at least enough to knock the pollen down and enough to start greening some of those fabled California over-grazed hillsides.

Here's an image on the abundant food source outside Mickey D's. It's not a mast year for acorns, but this red oak variety has made sure many a squirrel has got its snack on.

We processed some too, thanks to FeralKevin's acorn workshop. Acorns were a big part of the diet for the indigenous folks, the Saclan, who used to live in the hills around Mt. Diablo.

We shelled the acorns the old-fashioned way,

but used a more modern leeching technique:

Gotta leech out those bitter tannins. Three or four rounds in the coffeemaker made the mash bland and but still hearty.

We eventually ended up with some delicious acorn muffins.

Our recipe was pretty tame; we just substituted acorn flour for cornmeal in the typical cornbread recipe (unless you come from the South, in which case cut out most of the sugar and the lard too). Delicious! But next time we'll experiment with more acorns and less wheat flour.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bigfoot vs Skunk Ape

Maybe you've heard about the Bigfoot sighting last week. The body was found in the remote hills of North Georgia and reported by two retired police officers and a local Bigfoot enthusiast.

But you probably didn't hear about the second Bigfoot Sighting this week - this one in the North Florida swamps. Less than a mile from my parents' house.

I know the guy who's reported this sighting, and he's not a liar. He's also a locally renown hunter and tracker. To the left is a plaster mold of the footprint they made after watching a 7 foot tall hairy hominid traipse off into the swampy woods. The print is 13 inches long and 8 wide.

In Florida, though, everybody knows there is no Bigfoot hiding in the swamps. Actually, the creatures are known as Skunk Apes. Like the Bigfoot myth, Skunk Apes are said to be hominid, bipedal, and covered in reddish-brown hair. Unlike the big hairy dude up North, the Skunk Ape has only four toes. Just like the footprint made last weekend in Steinhatchee, FL.

I want to ask my parents how they feel about the possibility of a large hairy ape living behind their horse pastures, but they are too busy preparing for tropical storm Fay which is looking like it's gonna take a dump all over the southeast.

But, maybe this isn't a coincidence,.....maybe the Skunk Ape sightings can be correlated with wacko barometer readings? Maybe the Skunk Ape and Big Foot are hear to warn us? Maybe all the Anomalous Hominids in the world are fixin' to join ranks and proceed to be ranker than all of us, ushering in a new era of ginormous stinky humans that are at least smart enough to not exceed their carrying capacity. Unlike the squeaky clean and hairless humans of yore.

I'm pretty sure that in a fight, Skunk Ape would kick some North GA Big Foot ass.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

MacGyver Eat my Muffler

Enjoy this pic of my truck's muffler held together with some wire, a tent stake, and a can of Budweiser. This is how I rolled through the CA border station this summer.

It's better now.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I'm home

This is the view from the porch.

Getting here took a long time. Being here is easier. I like being here.

Once the daily patterns emerge (which will have to wait until after the dreams conference in Montreal next week), this blog will continue to focus on ecopsychology, sense of place, suburban forage, and random bits of cultural flak that either make me angry or make me laugh, or both simultaneously.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Confessions of a Nomadic Urban Professional

This is the barn which has held my worldly possessions for the last 9 months while I was reborn in Florida. Notable possessions include:

1 Sesame Street Lamp circa 1977
1 typewriter
1 felt hat found in Golden Gate Park perfect for mushroom hunting
1 copy of Pulp Fiction
1 cast iron skillet
12 boxes of books and notes

Now it's time to get slapped on the back and start crawling up the linea nigra of asphalt back to the land of milk and honey.

I'm lucky because my work is non-local, sort of like the new physics but without the implicit order. I will merely have to suspend sending zeroes and ones through the air for a week until I can plug my computer into some temporary docking station on the west coast.

With a little more luck, tho, I will be coming home to my own digs with my beautiful and patient lady, who is the midwife to this whole re-entry plan.

I am not very good at being a nomadic urban professional tho because I am longing for roots. It worked well when I was 23 and an archaeologist, rambling all over the southwest, digging up historic whiskey bottles and whatnot. Mornings like the time I woke up in a wildflower meadow in Larkspur, Colorado while visiting other nomadic and piratical friends at the RenFaire.

That was 1999 and now my back hurts when I sleep on the ground; so it goes.

I actually have less possessions than ever before, aside from the books. But the books are now a "library" and they are a mean feat to move around. My archivist nature and my wandering soul collide here, and the archivist wins. (With concessions anyways: the barn was not humidity controlled in the slightest. And spiders currently live in the filing cabinet.)

So I am heading west again with the intention to belong, to come home, to be where I am, to mingle with the oak savanna and the hard clay loam and the wild turkeys and the big laughing Jims and the coyotebrush fusing with the ocean breeze and the intense fluctuations of geomagnetic activity and the traffic and the fog and everything else that makes Northern California the magical place that it is.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Fresh Air

I felt it two days ago for the first time: the stirring breeze, the call for movement, that first hint of summer solstice calling me forward.

Historically, I freak right out every summer. In fact, every job I've ever quit, I've quit in the months of June, July or August. It's an itch that I have to try real hard not to scratch. Ever since I noticed the pattern, I decided to stop fighting it and instead try to find ways to build this semi-nomadic wanderlust into my lifestyle.

Luckily this year the roadtrip is built-in. I have only three more weeks in the South, and then I'm heading back West to rejoin my fiance. It seems so far away but I know it's gonna happen fast.

California is not done with me yet.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Nature Meditation and Creepy Crawlies

I just wrote an a quick n dirty guide about nature awareness on my dream studies blog. Really I should publish it here on my ecopsychology blog, but Blogger disallows pages outside the blog hierarchy. So it goes!

Spending time at my secret spot outside (a la Jon Young) is kicking my butt because the ticks are getting brutal. There's not a lot of lyme disease around these parts, luckily, but still I have to be vigilant about making sure none of the buggers are tapped in for longer than 24 hours.

It's all about: take a hike, sit for half an hour, hike back home, strip down, throw clothes in the hot wash immediately, body check, shower, body check, get dressed and then proceed to have the heebie jeebies (or more accurately the creepy crawlies) the rest of the night as imagined ticks swarm all over me.

And, inevitably, I find one the next morning, sunk in and kicking back.

Repelling mosquitoes is easier. I admittedly have gone the Deet route, but it creeps me out. Skin-so-Soft? Not-so-much: it doesn't works for long against the serious mosquito clouds I encounter in the North Florida forests. Recently I found this great advice about natural bug repellent on the Fabulous Forager. But I'm lazy, and haven't concocted my own homemade bug repellents yet.

However, something that does work is lighting a stick of incense or two around me. The incense smoke keeps the mosquitos away and also reinforces my own meditation practice. Purists may argue that this is making too much of a human footprint. My goal is not to be invisible in nature, but to be recognized by the non-human others and accepted. And, by way of verification, the squirrels haven't alarmed me in over a month.

Anyone got more advice? My skin will thank you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's all about timing

I've been obsessing about bars these days. As in, "you better get used to these bars, kid." I suppose it's some kind of imaginal metaphor for my ego's desire to transcend the addictions of thought, or something, as I remain unrooted this year.

It's no secret that I'm itching to nest. But I'm gearing up for another big move. The transition continues.

This ole oak tree is not imprisoned though. From its perspective, it is momentarily snuggled up with its piney brethren. In thirty years, the oak will be in the clear again, and again, and again. This old oak has seen some things. The bars flicker in and out, and there's plenty of air to breathe.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Altered States, Entheogens and Culture

Continuing with the theme of academic rewilding, or the process of the sciences regaining their senses, check out the Anthropology of Consciousness on Facebook.

The group is helping folks find reliable information on altered states of consciousness, shamanism, and research into psychedelics and entheogens.

A little background: the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness was created in the mid 1970s to look into the links between parapsychology and anthropology. They also were the only group of anthropologists willing to discuss Carlos Castaneda's wild and woolly influence on the discipline. Since then, they have continued to operate on the fringe of academia, presenting research into cross-cultural mystical experience, shamanism, mediumship, possession, trance and other dissociative states as well as how these ancient practices effect culture, belief systems and contemporary societies.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hoarding Gourds

My brother and I came upon this mother lode of gourds in the middle of Levy County, Florida, piled high at Fern Sink Farm. There was no one around so we selected six gourds between us, and left a ten dollar bill under a rock in the garage next door.

This is really the best way of procuring gourds from the earth. Grab them and toss money in the general direction of the gourd farmer. He doesn't want to know which gourds I took, nor do I want him to know. That is between me and the gourds.

Gourds fragments in human context have been found in Gainesville, FL as early as 11000 BC. The earliest known bottle gourd comes from the Windover site, dated to roughly 5300 BC. We can thank the swamps for this level of preservation.

Gourds make great ladles, containers, and percussion instruments, and are steeped in some crazy kind of mythos that I can only call an intense "presence." They navigate between consensual reality and the otherworld that we glimpse sometimes in dreams and visions. They're good luck, in other words.

I endorse gourd art for curing malaise of the soul.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Missing Micanopy

It's been almost six weeks since I left Micanopy, FL, that sweet oasis of peace and quiet on the south rim of Payne's Prairie. I stayed up in that room above the horses' heads. Every morning it was coffee and a sausage biscuit down the in cafe below my room. It's true that my room always smelled of meats and cheeses due to being located above the cafe, but we just lit incense every morning and it worked out.

On saturdays - and sometime in the middle of the week - the Micanopy Porch band played right under my room too. I sat on the big porch and did my reading there, listening to some of the best folk and bluegrass I've ever heard.

On sundays, we'd walk down to Mosswood Farms and get our fresh local greens for the week. It was all about green beans, collards, corn, and tomatoes, and later, sweet potatoes and eggplant. Farm fresh eggs, too, with little bits of feather duff still clinging to each egg.

We had a master plan and it really didn't work out. I guess I'm not over that yet. The new plan is good but getting there is hard. I see my fiancée once every two weeks, and that is rough I tell you what.

Soon, I'll be missing Steinhatchee, I imagine. Isn't that how it works? The lonely heart looks backwards...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Academic Rewilding and Febreze

I'm fresh back from Yale, where I attended the annual Anthropology of Consciousness conference. It was cold and rainy, and I didn't bring enough woolens. A friend offered to Febreze my socks after I wore them for three days straight. She apparently carries Febreze around with her, so it wasn't a specious, or malicious, offer. I declined but changed my socks and had cold feet for the next few days.

The picture to the right is of the circulation desk of the Yale Memorial Library. At Yale, library workers are likened to priests. The flow of Dean Koontz novels occurs at the chancel of the structure, where celestial energy has historically flowed from the heavens through thin tasteless crackers onward to parishioners. I think I still would be working in libraries if I peddled books/Christ under those conditions.

My lecture about nature observation as a field technique was well received. Rather than going on about my own research I took to the podium to share the method of nature observation. I learned this from Jon Young's lectures, and merged his technique with a focusing technique established by Eugene Gendlin. I guess you could call this academic rewilding.

We spend so much time lamenting human separation from nature that we forget that we have the power to re-pattern our minds on the natural world simply by going outside now and then and building relationships with our non-human neighbors.

Hey children what's that sound, everybody look what's going down....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Integral Indigenous Movement

Native American leaders from more than 71 nations are meeting in Mexico to discuss what they can do to help with the ecological disaster that is the 21st century.

This is a historic event for many reasons, chiefly being the unsurpassed level of connectivity and cooperation amongst the original people of North America. Representatives range from the Maya to the Tlingit of Alaska, with a united voice that: "Our Mother Earth is being polluted at an alarming rate, and our elders say that she is dying."

Indigenous science is coming into focus for Westerners at a quickening rate. Note that the message hasn't changed in the last three hundred years; rather, it is our ability to hear the message that is changing.

This kind of connectivity really is one of the fruits of the modern age, in which the depth of Indigenous knowledge is complimented with the modern values of inter-culture communication and world-level sharing. This unique blend of paradigms is what Ken Wilber and Tim Black have discussed as an Integral Indigenous perspective. This is not idle theory; the culture is shifting.

With so much to be alarmed about in the world, I am relieved to see some fresh and creative solutions emerging with the complexity of our predicament.

Read the AP article here.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Squirrels on the Alarm

This is a view of the swamps outside of Hart Springs, where we recently canoed to along the Suwannee River.

I tell you what, the swamps knew long before I did what these months of transition would bring. The soggy still waters of quiet putrification are quite beautiful in the late winter. It's an eery beauty that feels out-of-time.

Later, I walked through the cypress, oak and palm forest near my parents' house and the silence was broken by five squirrels who alarmed me in bitchy stereophonics. I've never been so aggressively stalked by squirrel before and I stood befuddled for a while. Finally I moved forward again on the trail and spooked the young buck that waited around the bend - he took off and honked at me repeatedly from a safe distance.

The squirrels are well trained to report humans to the forest. Turns out this is especially so in these woods because a neighbor often hunts, both in and out of season. The watchful squirrels sent out the alarm in all directions, carried forward by the birds like a ripple of disturbance in a still pond. That's the metaphor naturalist Jon Young uses for the "concentric rings of nature."

Can't a man just traipse through the forest like the gentle pirate he is? Not yet; the squirrels will make that call.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


It's been a while since I've posted because life got tricky. Tricky little life.

Long story short: My fiance has dropped out of her traditional midwifery program because the school never delivered on its promises. She fought hard to make it work but it was like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It's a good thing, really, because she knows now that nurse midwifery is a better fit for her. A lot clarified for me too. I see my path, where I need to go to get it done, and how I want to live. Now we're saving up to move back West this summer. So our transition continues.

I'm hoping to use my time in the swamps of Florida well, to appreciate the warm days, the tick bites, the clear springs, and the quiet beauty of my parents' ranch.

Meanwhiles, I'm preparing for my lecture in a few weeks at Yale University on Nature Awareness, putting the finishing touches on my lucid dreaming thesis, and applying to grad school for a PhD in psychology/dream research.

Shout out to Owley - Goddess of Harsh Realities!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Northern European Ancestral Remembrance - March 22, 2008

I saw Apela Colorado speak last summer in California. She's got a new message for Northern Europeans about ancestral remembrance that she is uniquely qualified to give due to her mixed heritages. Colorado says that the only way out of the post-colonial traps of isolation and fragmentation is to remember who we are, and what duties we have been charged with.

Mark the spring equinox on yer calender for this special, global event.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bacon Vodka Will Cure Your Ails

Dear Readers,

You know I have a slight obsession with inappropriate meat products. And it's true that I once invented "choco-bacon" and served it - on toothpicks - to a crowd of drunken college students who were generally not interested but would eat it if I sustained eye contact.

I love humans.

So, check out this incredible recipe for bacon infused vodka. Become enraptured like I am at the possibilities inherent in this world.

Photo credit: McAuliflower 2008.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lucid Dreaming and the Paleolithic

I just wrote an article about lucid dreaming, shamanism, and the Paleolithic era over at my dream research blog. Read it here: lucid dreaming shamanism.

Basically, I've gotten bored with the assertion that lucid dreaming is a Western invention of Aristotle or Carlos Casteneda so I figured it was time to consider the big picture concerning the natural visionary potential of dreams. Many people know about the long history of Tibetan Buddhism's Dream Yoga and its relationship to lucid dreaming, but I haven't seen many discussions of the inevitability of Paleolithic Dreamers - especially considering how their visionary art has survived in many caves and rock outcroppings.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Just a Smattering of Shadow Work

I'd like to share some fascinating site statistics about Dreamcrisp. The average length of time real people look at this blog when they click on a google link or some other referring url is 14 seconds. Not coincidentally, four out of five unique visitors find this site after searching for porn space.

Evidently, these folks don't find what they're looking for. In honor of my most popular post, I recently updated it to help them along on their noble quest: check it here and review the first paragraph's new link.

Other popular searches that result in people stumbling onto Dreamcrisp include:

poop piles
meat helmets
suburban fetish

and my personal favorite:

don't taze me bro t-shirt

Now, if that isn't a business opportunity, I don't know my ass from a pile of meat helmets. This statistical farce evidently shows that one of the major, as yet unstated, themes here at Dreamcrisp is the human shadow.

Robert Bly describes the shadow as that invisible bag we drag behind us, where we keep all those things we don't like about ourselves, our culture, and our humanity. It's the Dr Jekyll to our everyday ego. You know, the dark side.

I'm all about the dark side. You have to be if dream research is your passion. My focus on perpetual culture shock is actually an attempt to own the rejected parts of myself and society, and call them out when I see them play out on a bigger stage. It's creepy, yes, and it makes me laugh.

This is the dreamwork, ya'll.