Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sister Mary Batshit Crazy

While I was living in Amsterdam, I wrote a book called ‘Thigh Freedom’, and what I remember from that is that my heroin of the story smoked a joint and the publishers made me write that out.  That was only fifteen years ago.  Now I fend calls with offers for movies, films, documentaries, animated series, on the very subject.  Now foreign governments ask us to come speak at their conferences on the subject, mainstream media asks us to smoke a joint for their cameras before they leave.  The Chamber of Commerce visits the farm and they all take selfies with the plants.  How much the world has changed!

‘Thigh Freedom’ (by the way) is a modern-day story where the heroin is trapped in a miserable marriage (I had to do something with all that divorce angst) and she reads a novel about her ancestral heritage and learns that pre-Christianity, according to Celtic lore, the month of May is the month where all married women get to exercise their ‘thigh freedom’ and cavort with other men – only married women with other married men (so as not to upset whatever was going on with the young courting folks). 

It was custom and culture and if babies sprung from such unions, they were raised by the woman’s family, along with the other children, without a thought to genetic origins.  The idea captured my imagination (just for being so radical), and I wrote a modern-day story where the heroin decides that every tenth year of marriage, for the whole year, would be her thigh freedom year.  It seemed more practical.  More adapted to current times.  And she embarks on a journey which ultimately lands her back with her husband, living happily ever after.

In my own divorce situation, there was no happily-ever-after, so I poured my energies into that book as a form of therapy.  When the interested publishers told me that I had to take all references to weed out of the story, I lost my ‘zin’ for publishing it and it has sat on a shelf, since.

Xaviera Hollander, a friend from Europe, loved the book and encouraged me to get it published, but I didn’t have time.  I was distracted by a raging custody battle and the re-settlement of my children in America after nearly a decade in the Netherlands.  

Eighteen months after returning to America, I found myself poor and frightened in a strange city, as I chose poverty and escape from Kentucky over staying trapped in a state that was presented to me as a temporary landing place.  My ex- talked me into moving to Kentucky from Europe (good God!), by convincing me that we would only live there temporarily.  But when I got to Kentucky, he informed me that I am penniless, he seized all my business funds, I should go ahead and divorce him, he said, because he had all the money and had decided to make his retirement permanent (with three children in middle school), and decided I could support us on my own.  He knew I would file for divorce -- he stole over a million dollars from my business, a business I founded and worked in, while he stayed at home and played house-husband with a housekeeper, cook, a gardener and a driver.    

In the end, he wanted the divorce to happen in Kentucky where the courts favor their Kentucky boys.  I call Northern Kentucky ‘the penis fly trap’ for the way the men of that place trap Yankee women.

This was only one of two very dark and frightening periods of my life.  It was in this period, that Xaviera called and offered me an advance for ghost-writing a book for her.  It was a sex tip book for men, using the best of the best quotes from her 32 years publishing her ‘Call Me Madame’ column in Penthouse magazine.  Her tips for men are wrapped up in the philosophy that women have three clits:  a brain clit, a heart clit, and a body clit.  The heart clit has to be made to feel safe, the brain clit has to be made to feel ‘unsafe’ or challenged, and the body clit will follow.  That’s the nutshell of the wrappings, but there were great quotes from modern-day celebrities on the subject of sex and love.  My personal favorite is Sharon Stone’s:  Women may be able to fake orgasm, but men can fake whole relationships.  Boom!

Just this fall, I published my own story, the Accidental Nun.   A two-year project that took four years to come to fruition.  The sex-tip book with Xaviera was purely for the money.  The ‘Thigh Freedom’ book was purely for the therapy.   The Accidental Nun was an attempt to de-mystify my journey.  Two of those books made it to market.

Like many other people, I have wounds I carry and try to heal.  I have been betrayed twice by men I completely trusted, an ex-husband who stole from me, abused me, and then by a brother who pretended to rescue me, but made me homeless in a fit of temper and then stuck with it.  All of that formed me, however, and gave me the courage to set out and create a Beguine Sisterhood. 

Although I am living a life of celibate devotion, I still love men.  I wouldn’t want to build anything without them.  I wouldn’t want to live without them in my life.  We have Brothers here now who take their jobs with us seriously.  They are grounded, respectful, protective.
I see the actions of my ex-husband and my brother a sickness in our society, where men beat their chests and make women and children homeless over pride.  All over a false sense of pride.  I want our children to have it a little better.  I want a world of less suffering.  And I certainly don’t believe that men have cornered the market on bad behavior.

On the farm now, after much turmoil, peace and serenity have finally arrived.  I didn’t realize when I set out on this journey five short years ago, that a large part of my job would be sorting out the bat-shit crazy from the regular-every-day crazy in order to keep us marching forward, harmoniously and peaceably.

Our first two farm managers had severe drug problems that were well-hidden from us.  I call them Brother Tweeker 1 and Brother Tweeker 2.   It works like this, I hired them when they had both been poor for a long time and, thus, were clean.  And they were fine for two to three months.  As soon as financial stability came, however, they began indulging in hard drugs (not together, these were consecutive hires).  One we called out as soon as raging became a part of his normal activities with the sisters.  It appears he raged when he ran out.  And he wasn’t particular about who or what he raged about. 

The man who replaced him, Brother Tweeker 2, had the same thing going on, minus the rage.  First two to three months – just fine.  Then financial stability comes from working and then come the hard drugs.  He didn’t rage -- he just started doing bizarre things like showing up on the farm on a Sunday afternoon and putting a lasagna in our oven (!) when it was 105 degrees outside – without a word to anyone, with just a nod, like it was normal and expected.  They weren’t crazy. They were addicts.

The bat-shit crazy came from the wanna-be sisters who came through here.  Over the first two years, I had to dismiss many Sister Mary’s.  Sister Mary Natzi Vegan, Sister Mary Full-On Wiccan, Sister Mary Got-Any-Oxy?, Sister Mary – May I Sleep with Your Son? Sister Mary Polyamorous, Sister Mary Platitude, Sister Mary can’t wake up and Sister Mary can’t shut up. Of all of them, the last was probably the most intolerable to me.

As we stand at the precipice of launching our second sister farm, I can’t help but wonder how the other sisters who will be managing the crazy they must juggle -- their own and others.  These are very crazy times and the energies of the planet reflect that.  Yet, it is vital to the growth of the sisterhood that we manage the people well.  That we select the right people.  We cannot be sidelined by individuals, when we have a global calling.  We will be criticized for our focus.  So, what?  Some will say, why didn’t you help rehabilitate those addicts?  Why didn’t you put medicine on those women?  The answers to that are easy for me.  Firstly, they didn’t ask.  Secondly, we do not exist to conform to the individual needs of the enclave.  We have a higher calling.  And we can’t be distracted by anyone other than our own people, when and if they need us. 

We spend all day, every day, getting the word out about CBD, taking calls from sick people, helping them figure out their path with the natural medicine.  We need strong people around us to help us fulfill the mission.  We are all broken a little, and we all need a healing place to live and work.  We require a healing place to work.  But that doesn’t mean we are Lourdes.  We don’t do miracles.  We are ordinary women who are on a serious mission.

Speaking of Lourdes, this past summer I had the opportunity to impersonate my own sister.  It was a hot August Saturday.  We try not to work on weekends, as we consider that a form of slavery.  It happens, sometimes, but it’s not our normal.  Our normal is the farm is very quiet on the weekends.  This Saturday, the doorbell rang to the abbey.  I was in shorts and a wife-beater t-shirt.  I quickly put a scarf on my head (as if that made up for the rest of me showing) and answered the door.  I saw a big tour bus parked outside and people with walkers and canes getting out. 

The bus driver apologized and told me his tour wanted very much to stop here to meet the sisters and he complied.  I had no idea how they got our address, so I was stunned at first. 
“The Sisters aren’t here today,” I said in wonder, trying to figure out how many people were on that bus. 

“Where are they?” an elderly Asian woman asked. 

“I don’t know.” I said, extending my hand to the bus-driver, to the old Asian woman who was, apparently, the ring-leader.  “I am Sister Kate’s sister, Shari, visiting from Wisconsin and I don’t know.  I think they went into the city to run errands.”

The woman had to adjust her cane a bit to extend her hand.  “Very nice to meet you, Shari, but we really wanted to see the Sisters.”

“I’m sorry, they aren’t here.” I said again.  The woman was very aggressive and persistent, making me repeat over and over again, that the Sisters weren’t on the farm – that no sisters were on the farm, and that I didn’t know where they were.  When she asked the fifth time, I said in exasperation, “I really have no idea what those bitches do on the weekends, I’m just watching the dogs for them!”  She finally admitted defeat.  I guess that was just un-nunly enough to do the trick.

I gave them the office number, asked them to please schedule their visit and sent them away with a tin of salve each, so they weren’t too terribly disappointed.  My sisters and brothers who are right now starting or figuring out how to start their own sister-farm, are you ready for this?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Hadewijch in the Castle

We believe that we have plugged into a sacred, healing energy stream that is flowing thickly around the planet.  Like reaching up and pulling on a cord of a moving train or tram, we reached up and connected to a higher calling, a pulse of holistic healing, a pulse of returning to ancient ways, that is a comforting drum-beat, growing bigger and louder and more significant to our lives with every passing day.

What we are doing with our new age order of Sisters is not something we created.   It is something we plugged into.  Everything about us is cultural appropriation.  We appropriate everything good that our ancestral mothers learned and practiced. 

We believe in the family values of the stoner culture.  Stoners have had to hang together and protect their own culture for one hundred years of persecution.  Stoners have had to make sacrifices to get along with people and society, a society where conventional wisdom says that cannabis is bad and cannabis smokers are bad.  Stoners have always tolerated this baloney, because they look kindly and patiently upon the ignorant and think, ‘yes, it was once conventional wisdom that the earth is flat.  It was once conventional wisdom that women have smaller brains then men.  It was once conventional wisdom that if you masturbated you would go blind.  But we live in an age of science and your old-paradigm views are adorable in a na├»ve, throw-back kind of way, but untrue none-the-less.’

Stoner values respect and revere the ability to protect boundaries and familial privacy.  Stoner values hold transparency in high regard and secrecy in suspicion.  Stoners respect knowledge and science.  Stoners are generally compassionate, to people and to the planet.  

We also hold fast to the belief that those who attempt to grow weed and attempt commerce in the cannabis space will be foiled if they go against compassionate principles applied to people and the planet.  Those who are ok with fracking, will not be rewarded by their efforts with the plant.  Those who are ok with caging children, those who protect and defend Trump and others of his ilk in other countries (Doug Ford, Therese May), those people can’t grow cannabis and be successful in the healing space.  Those who want to be billionaires just because they want to brag and be like Trump, you will fail.  The plant will not serve you, I promise.  She will choose who she serves and who she doesn’t, and you will fail if you try to cultivate her with false or shallow intentions. 

Those who judge others without trying to understand them, they will not be rewarded by this industry.  And those who are mean to women, they will – especially - be locked out of reaping any rewards on the backs of the magnificent female cannabis plant.

It was springtime in the castle and those whose lives centered around the Beguine sisters, those who farmed, made plant medicine, those who worked day in and day out to alleviate suffering among the town-folk, farm-folk, land-owners and serfs – were busy putting away their tools and chores.  It was hours before their normal quitting time, but if was a special feast-day. 

It was the feast of young Beguine sister and her man, in their mid-twenties, and expecting twin babies.  It is the custom of the Beguines to prepare the first-time parents with gifts and supplies from the tribe.  Dignitaries had gathered.  Some of the Sisters were nervous.  It was an ominous sign that the feast was to be of mixed people.  It wasn’t normal.  It wasn’t custom.  Yet, the abbess had her head turned by the tax collector who wanted to be part of the celebrations and especially, wanted to bring the business of the feast to his relative.  The tax collector had insisted on helping arrange the feast, inside the castle, at the Bear and Steer, a local tavern and eatery owned by his brother-in-law. 

“It is not customary for us to have a public celebration in the castle.  It is custom to have them privately, on the farm,” explained the Abbess that day in the foyer of the house on the farm – that day the tax collector had unexpectedly stopped in.

“You know, it hasn’t escaped my attention,” said the tax collector to Sister Hadewijch, “That the castle governors don’t know you are growing cannabis to put in your potions.  If they knew, they would put a special tax on you or, even, they could shut you down.” He threatened.  Sister Hadewijch sighed and agreed to have the baby shower in the castle, in a public place, in a place where ‘others’ might be.  “And I’m going to invited everyone from my office” said the tax collector on his way out the door.

Hadewijch sighed.  Somehow, she knew there would be trouble.  She didn’t know what form, she just knew there would be. 

It turned out to be the fact that the very-pregnant mother smoked cannabis at the baby shower that brought the town to buzzing.  It brought out all the righteous indignation of those who know so little.  The Sisters and Brothers weren’t back on the farm a fortnight before word came that the town was buzzing about the cannabis consumption that happened inside castle walls (gasp!) and by the mother with the babies in her belly, no less!  Right in the alley behind the Bear and Steer, right before Goddess Mother and the world!  Double gasp!!

The Beguine elders who paid for the celebration, the elders who agreed to make this celebration open to non-tribal members, hadn’t considered the mother-to-be’s eating disorder.  They hadn't considered that the town-folk had no reason to know that the young mother requires a small amount of THC before each meal to stimulate her appetite. 

“Do you think our taxes will be raised because of this?” asked Sister Sierra.

“Do you think those wankers are going to get vengeful?” asked Sister Alice.

“Nonsense,” said Hadewijch to the gathered Sisters and Brothers.  “Do not fear these people and do not hold these people in contempt for their ignorance but look kindly on them as if they are mis-informed children.  You don’t get angry at a child for not understanding algebra, do you?  We are a complicated order.  We are not simple, as many would like us to be.  We are like a beautiful onion with many layers to be peeled off.  We are foremost, compassionate healers.  We were gathered to celebrate more than the coming of the twin babies.  We were gathered also to celebrate the healing of the mother-to-be and the father-to-be under our own tender care, using our own natural ways.  These townsfolk don’t know that the father, four years ago, admitted himself to a recovery clinic nearly dead from overdosing meth?  Or that his meth habit was actually a step better than his addiction to cutting himself?  These town-folk don’t know that the mother-to-be is severely anorexic due to family trauma and malnutrition experienced as a young child . . . nor that cannabis allowed her to keep eating what she must through-out her pregnancy to nourish those children and bear them to birth successfully.  The town-folk don’t know any of these important facts.”

“Will you tell them, Sister?” asked a young postulant.

“No, I will not.” Hadewijch answered quickly.  “They must learn these things on their own.” 

The Elder Beguine paused and took a sip of water from a pewter mug.  Setting the mug down, she continued, “They will not know our personal stories.  They will have to find their own way to the truth.  The town-folk will never know that those babies were scheduled to be aborted.  That the mother believed she would die in child-birth, something an old, white-man castle-doctor told her years earlier.  She believed her anorexia would overtake both of them, that she would be unable to eat, and that she and they would die (at best) or they would be born deformed (at worst) and that only the herb calmed those fears and gave her the certainty and strength she needed to go forward with the pregnancy.  Only the Sisters’ assurances that we would not judge her or fault her for continuing to use cannabis as her medicine through-out the pregnancy convinced her not to abort the babies she was sure would come deformed.  The Sisters all know first-hand how she relies on the THC to stimulate her appetite before each meal.  She smokes so that she can eat like normal folks do."  Hadewijch stood up from her place at the table.

“What about the tax collector?” asked an Elder Sister. 

“The tax collector has put us in jeopardy,” Sister Hadewijch said plainly.  “I will have a word with him, at some point.  If there are no further questions, I have much work to do and one of you should be checking up on our soon-to-be-mom.  It’s nearly 4:20 and we want her to eat a full dinner.”

When our young Sister arrived at the hospital eighteen days before the due date of the twins in her belly, she admitted naively and calmly to the check-in nurse that she had smoked a joint the day before.  I wasn’t with her.  I would have warned her that this is Merced.  This is a place that once, not long ago, a mother having weed in her system was reason for the health insurance to be cancelled and for Child Protective Services to be called in.  My millennial Sister knows the law and knows her rights as a medical patient.  She told the truth.  Her truth caused the hospital staff treat us all like trash until the babies’ toxicology report came back and showed there was no THC in their systems.  The mother smoked a high-THC joint the day before, but no THC was registered in the babies immediately after birth.  That fact made curiosity over-ride hostility with the medical staff in obstetrics.   

“Hadewijch, why are they being so mean?” asked the young man earnestly.  “Why do the castle-keepers not allow me to be with my wife, now, while they are poking and prodding at her?  Why can’t I be there to hold her hand when they give her the epidural?”

The old woman’s sympathy showed all over her face.  “I am so sorry, son,” she said.  “But we are but humble farmers and we do not have the sophisticated, fancy equipment these folks have.”  Hadewijch spoke with her hands, gesturing all the equipment surrounding them where they stood.  “Having twins is not something that should be done at home, with a mid-wife.  Those babies have taken all of the calcium, magnesium and iron out of her system.  She has preeclampsia, high blood pressure, and is at high risk of dying.  The babies are perfectly healthy, and all this we wouldn’t know if we didn’t have access to their hospital, their technology and their technicians.  You cannot expect people who are of science, who are of technology, who let those things define them completely, you cannot expect them to have compassion.  They are not un-compassionate, they just have strange, un-compassionate ways.  I see it like you do!  I see it, but I don’t care, and you mustn’t care either because #1, these are not our people and #2 right now, our people, our Sister, your wife, needs the tools and knowledge they have to spare her life and the lives of those twin babies in her belly.  We are using them, don’t forget, my son.  We are using them.  We do not have to like them or accept them, we must just use them.”

Hadewijch had noticed every slight.  When a nurse asked ‘where’s the papa’ and Hadewijch answered, ‘her husband is out making a phone call’, the other nurse corrected her, saying “they aren’t married, they just live together”.  As if she was on auto-pilot and couldn’t ever miss a chance of putting her two-Christian-cents out into the universe.  The only weddings that mattered were the ones of their culture.  She wished her young Sister had been more careful in answering.

Hadewijch noted how they refused to let anyone be with the young, frightened mother, only twenty-four years of age and fearful of dying.  Afraid of giving birth to monsters because she dabbed THC concentrates during the first three months of her pregnancy, not knowing she was pregnant.  Her eating disorder made her cycle irregular and she was accustomed to not having her period more than having it.  She didn’t learn of her pregnancy until she was half-way through and it was too late, then, to do anything about the concentrates she consumed months prior.

Now she lay frightened and scared and they make her more so by subjecting her to an interview by nazi nurses who don’t give a flip about making her more uncomfortable, by daughters-of-science who won’t allow her to have her loved ones by her side. 

Hadewijch saw it. She saw their bully tactics, which seemed brutal to all of them, to her, to Father/Brother Dwight, to the expecting young parents, in stark contrast to the gentle and respectful healing they practice in their tribe.  But she didn’t judge them for it.  She prayed for their enlightenment.  She thanked them for what they did know.  How to run a blood pressure machine.  How to check the urine for danger signs.  How to measure the baby’s heartbeats.  They have tools.  And they know things that will help our Sister through this, she reminded herself and the nervous father-to-be.  We are in their land, seeking their help.  We must respect their ways.  It is our way, she reminded them both.

After the healthy babies were born, doctors and nurses came by to chat more respectfully.  Someone finally asked the new mama why she had smoked cannabis and finally, my lovely young Sister/Daughter was allowed to explain about her eating disorder.  Those who were once hostile suddenly became compassionate.  I told my young Sister that perhaps, going forward, she should lead with that information. 

It was two weeks ago today that the babies were born and in two days, it will be two weeks since they left the hospital to live in a cocoon of love, tended by their parents, their Oma and Opa, their Tante and Ohm.  Kept secluded in a little apartment, far from noise and hustle.  They gain weight and color and their mother gains her health back.  And we are back, all of us, to working and mingling with people who respect cannabis as a medicine – one people, one tribe.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Taking on the Angry Vegans

Taking on the Angry Vegans

There are three ways the American people are polarized:  The first is in regard to the Word.  (Some believe, some do not.)  The second is in regard to spirituality.  (Some are, some are not.)  The third is in regard to being vegan.  (the Vegans are angry at all of us) 

The first polarity is ridiculous.  The second is necessary.  The third is tiresome.

Just as we exist to bridge the gap-between the non-believers and the believers, just as we exist to bring peace between those two groups, we also exist to bridge the gap between spiritual people and the non-believers, and to broker peace between vegans and the carnivores.   These are all highly polarized groups. 

Followers of the Word

There are those who believe the Word and those who don’t.

Oh, did you think I was talking about God?  Don’t be ridiculous. 

I am talking about the Word of the cannabis plant.  I’m talking about the knowledge that the cannabis plant is the secret to salvation. Salvation of the people, and salvation of the planet.  The medicinal compounds hold the secret to healing the people, and the industrial hemp holds the secret to replacing plastics and getting on with healing the planet.  It’s THAT word.  The Word that can end the hurtling journey toward extinction.  That Word. 

If you still want to talk about the Word of God, you have to realize that we see you as if you are standing on the railroad tracks, reading your Bible, while a high-speed train is bearing down on you.  We aren’t going to have that discussion with you, not now, not while the children of the planet are in great jeopardy, probably – not ever.  Not while sixty species go extinct per day.  Not while McDonalds and Taco Bell are still paying thousands of people to figure out new ways for you to eat meat. 

“It’s not enough” demands Ronald McDonald, pounding the table, “It’s not enough!  The buns must become meat!  The aprons must be made of meat!  The very plates we serve the meat on, must be made of meat!”  He is a truly diabolical task master.

If you want to talk about your relationship with Creator Goddess, then let’s start by talking about the one and only truly great gift she gave us, Planet Earth, and why we are trashing that gift.  Let’s talk about why we made it cultural (and we’re exporting that culture around the world, rapidly) to have extinction on our plate for every meal and every snack???

If I spend all the money in the world building my children the greatest, coolest, more exotic and exciting place to live and they spent all their time killing the plants to feed the pets to kill the pets to eat them, I  wouldn’t be happy.  Yet, this is what we are doing with the planet given us as a gift from our Creator.

The other day, as I was coming home from the gym, I had a Christian talk show on the radio and the minister was so compelling, that I was still sitting in the driveway listening to him, a full twenty minutes after pulling in.  He was systematically laying out the extinction of Christianity and how it came to be.  And everything he said was truth.  Until the end.  I thought the punch line should be, ‘So now, with Christianity on the brink of extinction, we have, the Weed Nuns!’  Wouldn’t that be remarkable.     No, his speech ended with the conclusion that Christianity is going extinct because we are at the eve of the rapture.  Click.  I turned it off and carried on with my day.

The one sentence the Baptist preacher said that stuck with me was this one: 

“We (the Christians) are sitting making daisy chains in the dark night of the globe, while the great masses of people are finding ways to cope without us.”  Hence, the sprouting of weed-nuns?
People have traded up arguing about invisible gods and invisible fetuses for real talk about highly visible and effective plant-medicine.  That’s an upgrade in the planet’s conversational IQ.

Spiritual vs. Non-Spiritual

In re-cap, the first bi-polar group is those who believe in Cannabis’ medical powers and those who have never tried it (the dis-believers). 

The second group is those who are spiritual and those who are not.  I let them be.  I think the planet needs our cynics and disbelievers when it comes to religion.  They are quite beautiful and quite necessary.  They are here to make sure no one drinks the cool-aid and every religion should welcome the non-believers as witnesses to the religion’s ‘do-no-harm’ ethics.  (They all have that ethos, few follow it.)

We only honor the disbelievers of spiritual and unseen things.  (Bill Maher disbelieves all spirituality and we love him.  That is his job.)  On the other hand, we do not honor people who disbelieve science, facts, and physical things happening right here, before our eyes, on the physical plane.  Climate change deniers, be gone from us.  Libertarians, be gone too.  We follow best example.  We want our children to have the same quality of life they would have if they were Dutch, German or Canadian.  We don’t want them to continue this system of being second-class-citizens of the developed nations. 

Vegans versus Not-Vegan-Enough

There’s no other way to address this issue but to say plainly that Angry Vegans are not helping the plant-based diet cause.  We know you are angry!  We get it!  Someone though it better to raise livestock for slaughter over something less slaughter-ish, like, say, eating beans.  We agree.  It was stupid.  It is stupid. And one day, we promise you that the Sisters here in Merced will get drunk enough to break into Foster Farms and free the chickens.  We will do that.  We’ve heard real nuns do shit like that and we want to emulate them.  It’s on our bucket list.  Promise.

After three years of failing at veganism, this past January, as new years’ resolutions swirled around us, we decided to take a much more practical approach to our dietary restrictions.  And a religious approach.  ‘Religious’ means ‘have fun with it for no apparent planetary reason, just imaginary reasons’. 

1.       New Moon to Full Moon – Strictly No Meat, with exceptions:  see #3, #4, #5, #6

2.       Full Moon to New Moon – Meat Is Permitted Daily, once per day only and not to be mixed with cheese, eggs or other animal by-product foods

3.       Holy Sacred Meat is Bacon*** is an exception to all rules, but in moderation / as a seasoning / never more than 2 slices of bacon in a 24-hour period

4.       All food rules are waived if you are sick or pregnant

5.       We are Activists and in Service Daily to the People, we cannot afford to go to bed hungry.  If your stomach is growling at bed-time, you are allowed to eat meat.

6.       You are allowed to eat meat that was prepared prior to the new moon and would be thrown away if not eaten (make no waste of sacrificial meat)

7.       Never mix meat with the milk or dairy or by-products from the same animal

8.       Meat is allowed at restaurants when traveling, but only once per trip (if in moon cycle)

Why is bacon the sacred exception?  Because Sister Kate’s Chinese astrology sign is the Pig.  This is just as reasonable as saying twenty million Catholics will eat meat on Friday.  Their reason was because the Catholic church invested in fisheries.  At least my reason has no economic motive.  

We are Beguine revivalists.  Our ancient mothers had to have eight children to see two of them turn eighteen years old.  That means they buried three of four children they gave birth do.  We think that had a lot to do with diet.  We don’t think ‘no meat’ is the way.  We certainly think WAY LESS MEAT is the way.  And we think every family and tribe should find its own path to a plant-based diet.  We think the more creative that path, the better.  Here’s the thing, though.  You can’t hate on people for not being vegan purists.  If you do, you lose the battle of moving more plant-based.

What happens when you go two full weeks without meat?  You can’t go back to eating meat once a day, you’ll get sick.  WE learned.  So even though it is allowed, most of us stay plant-based most of the time.      But if someone gets angry and ragey, we tell them to go eat meat.  It means, go satisfy your animal spirit needs in some other way.

We are angry activists, because happy activists are shitty activists.  There is a place for anger and for ferocious animal energies.  We think we need our meat.  We think the animal energy helps us be the ferocious women we need to be now, in this dark night of the globe.  But we recognize that meat-eating is ruining this planet and the trends have to go the other way.  We believe our way is a helping hand in sending the trend in a new direction.  We don’t mind that the vegans are angry with us.  They too, have their place and anyway, without angry vegans, we would have way fewer recipes.

                Corn and grain, meat and milk, on the table before us.
                Hands and hearts come together to nourish and restore us.
                Bless our food and bless our folk and keep us in your grace,
                Ensure this sacred walk we take respects this sacred place.

                                (women) In Goddess we trust.
                                (men) In Goddess we trust.

Friday, June 23, 2017

How to Join the Sisterhood

Ever since the Aubrey Plaza video came out, we have been deluged with requests to join our Sisterhood. These requests are coming in from both women and men, many of whom are offering help in establishing a chapter, an order, whatever the Beguine equivalent word is, in their ‘neck of the woods’.   We tirelessly work to answer each and every one of them, but because of the Aubrey video (I wonder if she calls it ‘the weed nuns video’?), we are now officially backed up and it may take us weeks to catch up.

 Step 1:  Go to bottom of this page to sign up for our Newsletter
Step 2:  Get Active in Local Cannabis Law Reform Movements
Step 3:  Post Photos and Progress on Social Media (facebooktwitterInstagram)
Step 4:  Be patient.  We are working on it.

Normally, when favorable press comes out on us, we see a bump in sales.  This time, we saw a huge spike in the number of requests to join us.

It makes us all very happy to see people across the planet identifying with us and connecting with the message.  I almost wrote ‘our message’, but I stopped and corrected it because I have said from the beginning, that all what we do is not original.  It’s not new.  It may seem that way, but Beguine revivalism is happening in many places on planet earth right now, in many forms.  And with or without knowledge of the Beguines, women and men are walking the walk everywhere, and those people with a devotion to healing, have just been waiting for the Sisters of the Valley to come along, to unite us all. 

We are connecting the women and men that can be a force to be reckoned with – we are connecting a thousand points of light in a thousand places in a thousand lands . . . it feels wonderful.  It gives us hope for humanity, the people, the planet.  It gives us renewed belief that maybe we can turn the corner and start living a more charming and gracious interaction with our all-nurturing, all forgiving, all providing Mother Earth.

We don’t believe in suffering as a path to spirituality, as many other religions do.  We don’t believe that suffering necessarily brings you any closer to God.  We don’t believe that healing should necessarily hurt.  But there is one place we suffer – and that is in our activism.  Being an activist is like being in the army, or being a parent to a newborn.  Your personal comforts are set aside, while you are subjected to servitude.  In our case, the suffering comes from listening to city council(s) and police chiefs and even citizens spew lies about the cannabis plant (either out of ignorance or some other agenda that trivializes people’s pain). 

For these highly spiritual women, highly intuitive women, it is difficult to be in a room with liars.  It is a tear in our golden web when we have to sit in a room and listen to lies come through a microphone.  It hurts our feet when we protest.  We sometimes don’t get to eat, and our stomachs are often growling and we can’t find a place to even get a drink of water. 

Even though we are not proponents of pain, nor are we interested in poverty vows, we also know that all things worth having, are worth making some sacrifices for.  We sacrifice our time, we sacrifice our feet and our comforts all in the name of activism -- to change the minds and hearts of a very uncompassionate governing body.

Many ex-Catholic nuns and a few current Catholic nuns reached out to me to talk with me.  I always ask them the same thing, I ask them for advice on growing my order.  The common answer is:  “Many are called, few are chosen.”  I take that as a reminder that this is my order, I gave birth to it, and I can’t let any one person pollute it or harm it.

I know what we are not going to do.  We are not going to sell admittance to our order.  We are not going to be like the internet minister certification companies.  We aren’t going to sell outfits or commercialize the spiritual side of things. 

More and more, Christianity is getting on my nerves.  They are holding up a patriarchy that needs to collapse, and they are leading the attack against the cannabis plant.  At the city council meeting in Fresno yesterday, four Christian ministers/pastors and one Chaplain from the police force (?) spoke.  All of them were men, and all of them spoke out against the intelligent plant.  Against mother earth, and her people.  I was the only woman representing a ministry (of sorts) and I spoke for the plant.  Do you see what I see?   Do you see a connection between Christianity suppressing women, suppression of the feminine healing cannabis plant, and trashing of Mother Earth?    

The planet is crying out for a new age order of Sisters (and Brothers) to grow and provide some leadership and direction.  Seriously.  We need to grow big enough that we become a political force of our own.  It is the only way we will gain justice for the people of the plant – and the planet.

The media has perpetuated the lie that the cannabis plant is our own ‘holy trinity’.  That’s ridiculous.  We work with all kinds of plant-based medicine, and even though we are lousy vegans, we try.  We are always trying to be more plant-based in our diets.  More raw foods.    

We do have a holy trinity, though.  It is Service, Activism, and Spirituality.  We put our prayer into our work and into our activism. 

We take six vows:

1.       Devotion (Service) – through spreading the Word (of the intelligent plant) and Medicine-Making
2.       Activism – Dedication of Time to Local Politics, Local Causes
3.       Ecology - a commitment to reducing our foot-print
4.       Chastity – Privatizing sexuality / keeping ourselves covered out of respect for the work we do
5.       Obedience – to moon cycles
6.       Living simply – one bedroom, one car, one TV – wealth goes to creating more jobs, more housing security, more career paths for women

We celebrate every full moon with a fire circle.  When the weather is bad, we light up a large room with candles and have the service and celebration inside.  (Ancient wisdom.  Don’t make your tribe sick.)

And on most New Moons the Sisters gather, either by laptop connections, telephone conference, or in person, to provide healing to one another through word medicine, Taro card readings, energy healings.  New moons are for the women.  Full moons are for the tribe.

When Sisters of the Valley was just an idea, four short years ago, I thought that I would disqualify women who had ever shamed someone for using the cannabis plant.  I would ask that question first, and if they told me they had, then they couldn’t be a Sister.  But then, I met too many lovely women who had crossed over from the darkness to the light, and became advocates for the plant, and why should they be punished for having bought into the propaganda that was the gospel of the day?

We strive for excellence.  We need women (and men) who want to walk that walk.

If you are strongly against abortion, you shouldn’t even be talking to us.  What we hear when people talk about abortion being a sin is this:  I DON’T TRUST WOMEN TO MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS ABOUT THEIR OWN BODIES.  Actually, we just hear the first part:  I DON’T TRUST WOMEN.

If you are strongly pro-gun, as well, you probably aren’t going to like our organization.  If you believe boy parts are boy parts and girl parts are girl parts and deny the existence and rights of those who are ‘twin spirited’, gender neutral, or transgender, then you won’t like the Sisterhood, either.

We are a women empowerment organization.  Every single decision we make about our order has to pass these tests:  Is this empowering?  Or does it dis-empower women?  Would our ancient mothers approve?  Or disapprove?

If we banished women who took their vows, but ultimately decided to leave, is that empowering?  No, banishment, shunning, shaming -- all the same negative energy.  That’s exactly why our vows require no allegiance to the order.  Women can come join us, but they can also leave, and there is no shame, no dishonor, no negativity associated with ‘moving on’.    Not all things, not all experiences, are meant to be permanent.  You still learn and grow from them.   And I believe some of those women who leave will return, if we release them spiritually, gently, honorably . . . if we assist, rather than harm, in their path to move along.

If we told women that they couldn’t have a husband or children, is that empowering?  No, it is not. If you want to empower women, you let them choose their partner, and if and when they want children, how many.  We respect them.  They are women.  By virtue of the fact that they can give birth to children, they are closer to Creator God then men.  Yes, I said that.  That is ancient wisdom.  It’s sexist, but it’s true.

Our guiding question is, “What would our ancient mothers do?”  We know they wouldn’t make any sick person wait for more than 12 hours outside the cave, teepee, or castle apartment, to get an answer to a medical question or question about diet.  That’s why we try to answer all questions that come to us via telephone or social media, within that timeframe.  We don’t always succeed, as we honor the weekends as a break from our work, and so we can refresh ourselves and rest.  (Last year, we had long months of no days off and that is not a sustainable model, either.)

“What would our ancient mothers do, if they had the internet and the post office and could reach the world with their plant-based medicines?”  We are like our Beguine mothers and have no intention of hiding from the public, but rather – we work with them.  Helping them.  The Beguines had enclaves inside every castle during the middle-ages.  They had the first nurses; they rescued poor women and gave them housing security, food security, and honorable, spiritual jobs.  They were around long before Christianity came with its armies to convert the world.

Sister Kassidy began working for us as an apprentice in January of 2016 and by the Fall, she had completed her apprenticeship, and shortly thereafter, her and her man, Brother Rudy, came to inquire about making their participation in the Sisterhood more formal.  A few months later, she took her vows.

Sister Freya joined us as an employee in August, and by December, she was also interested in formalizing her involvement and her commitment to the order.  Sister Freya is a tribal elder.  She has many years of studies and practical work experience in the healing arts.  When women come to us with decades of experience, they are automatically Elders and they take their vows once.  We don’t put them through the same process that younger women are put through (meaning, apprentice positions and three times taking their vows under full moons).  Some women we are simply connecting with; for others, we are providing their first training and their first opportunities on a career path.  Some don’t fit neatly into either category (for the record).

Like Sister Kass and Sister Freya, Sister Eevee and Sister Gina and Sister Claire all worked  for the Sisterhood for a period of time before the subject was broached.  Although Sister Eevee shares the abbey with me, she is the only Beguine revivalist Sister that lives here on the farm.  Sister Kassidy and Sister Freya live in nearby towns and come to the farm every day.  Sister Gina lives and works in Sacramento making our holy soaps and prayer shawls. 

Sister Claire lives and works in Toronto and has spent a year building us a complete, real-time, state-of-the-art control dashboard for the many systems that drive our engine.  She is going to be playing a prominent role in growing our global business, as she is our Chief Risk Officer, our Chief Financial Officer, and is the person through which the Canadian Sisterhood shall grow.  She will be coming to the farm  next month, along with another Canadian Sister, to take their vows. 

In between these occurrences, three other women came to stay with us, worked for us, and ultimately, didn’t work out. 

For now, a Sister isn’t going to become a Sister until we meet her and work with her and qualify her.  But soon, I hope, we get some Sister-Generals in all the states and all the countries, so that everyone needn’t come here.  The participation and selection should be happening locally, but we need to get sister-leadership all over the place so that we can accommodate that dream.

Ultimately, we would like to have cottage-industry kitchens making our medicines, from locally grown cannabis, with the loving hands of local women.  We believe that cannabis is like honey and local is best.  We believe that the healing hands of the local women add to the benefit of the medicine for their people.  In other words, German women should be praying over Sisters of the Valley medicines made in a German kitchen from weed grown in Germany.  Same for Canada.  Same for each state in the U.S. and all the provinces in all the countries.

That’s a big goal.  It will take a lot of coordination.

In the meantime, we are looking at perhaps making the Sisters an exclusive offer to be our agents and to earn commissions from getting our products on the shelves of stores in their local areas.  There will be a path to Sisterhood and earnings there, very soon, I hope.  I am working on export licenses.  We don’t want to do anything ‘US only’ because ‘Murika scares the crap out of us.  Every day.

Wealthy women of the middle ages were attracted to the Beguines, as well as poor women.  The wealthy women were attracted by the Beguines’ excellence and wanted to be part of things because the mission was worthy (helping people) and the way they did it was spiritual, and with system-run operations to ensure that the quality of everything they made (textiles, medicines) was always excellent. 

So, what shall we do with wealthy women who want to help?  What shall we do with women like Aubrey Plaza?  We don’t take donations.  We aren’t a religion.   (But then, neither were the Beguines.)

What would our ancient mothers do? 

They would use the money to build housing for more women who need housing security, food security, and whom desire working in a quiet, compassionate, spiritual environment.  They would use it to give more women skills, to give more women business savvy, so more women can grow and operate and manage more businesses.  They would turn their wealth over to the Bougienage so that others who would have otherwise had no shot at property ownership or business ownership – suddenly get a chance.

My son came into my office one day, recently, and said “Mom, how come there’s a path and vows for the Sisters, but nothing for the Brothers?”  I smiled at him with a look on my face that warned him that what I was about to say, he wasn’t going to like.

“I’m sorry, honey, but I told you, this is a woman empowerment organization.  It’s about empowering women.  That’s why I did this.”

“But why can’t there be a path for the Brothers?  Why can’t you make something similar?”

Again, I hesitated at being blunt with him.  He took his role as fire-keeper, with Brother Rudy, very seriously these days.  They work together well, and he had been working harder and harder and taking on more projects and I didn’t want to interrupt his enthusiasm for our growing order.  Yet, I couldn’t avoid it.

“Because the Brothers don’t matter, honey.”  I said as kindly as I could.  His eyes, predictably, flashed with disbelief.

“Look, Alex, a Brother becomes a Brother when a Sister says so.  It’s very simple.  If you ask, which approach is the most empowering to women?  The answer is, let them choose.  So, as long as the Brothers are helping the Sisters on their mission, they are fine.  But if a Brother falls out of favor with a sponsoring Sister, he will have to find another Sister-sponsor or leave.  You have nothing to worry about!  You are my son, so you are a Beguine, so you are always welcome.  And anyway, all of the other Sisters would be happy to sponsor you.”

“That is f’d up.” He said to me. 

“That is ultimate feminine empowerment.  And you do believe that what is good for women is good for society?  That the higher women are elevated, the higher a society in whole is elevated? You do believe that men will benefit from female leadership?”

“I’m leaving now, Mom,” he said, sullenly closing the door to my office behind him.

Men have a distinct role with the Sisterhood.  They are to protect us.  They are to be our political ears to the ground hearing what people say about us and reporting back (politically, socially).  They protect us physically, they tend our fires.  They play an important role in our community and we will never want to be without them.  They are not disrespected.  We are simply focused on women empowerment and believe strongly that men will only benefit from this focus.  And of course, because we believe that choices are empowering, we will, from time to time, choose to partner with men who share our values.

Six months into working with us, Sister Claire said, “I am so shocked by all the support we are given by men, I’m kind of shocked that so many men connect to our message – a feminist agenda.  If men asked me to join their ‘male empowerment’ organization, I would tell them ‘no, no thank you, pass’.”

“It doesn’t shock me at all.” I explained to her.  “It is simply because so many of the men we meet were raised by single mothers.  They saw first-hand how it’s all a trap.  Slavery.  Spending hard earned money to protect custody rights.  Or fighting for child support.  And minimum wage jobs that make it impossible to support a family. The men, too, are tired of this country’s wealth going to a military machine that seems to be operating for the direct benefit of the top 1%.  They want feminine leadership, too. They crave the women taking their turn at running things.  They trust us not to do many of the stupid things men have done.  They trust us not to feed a war machine unnecessarily, not to feed our children poisonous lunches, not to set a bad example.  We’ve proved ourselves to the men and they now want us in leadership.” 

I may have convinced Sister Claire, but I’m not sure about my son.


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If you want to see the video of us trimming weed with Aubrey Plaza, click here.