I can’t tell you how many of you sent this image to me over the past 30 days. More than anything, it let me know you were aware of the tribal pull, and also your own role in creating its energy.
How would you describe its energy? Gimme some words.
Yes, you gimme some words to describe the tribe and its effect on you, and I’ll give you a story.
Before I called the tribe together, I was feeling discombobulated. We had a trauma in our family a couple of years ago that left a pretty wide swath of devastation, both physically and emotionally. During “The Event” I was attacked, accused of very bad things, and my character maligned. I was lied about, shamed and beaten up. You have my word I am not over-dramatizing when I tell you it felt like crucifixion.
Coming back from that kind of trauma has been a long, slow process. (The trauma level was so high it made my own neck-down paralysis recovery look like a cake walk.)
The toll on my psyche was so powerful there were thoughts of death, not suicide per se.. just a sense of being DONE.
But last year I started getting some mojo back and, little by little, began to return to my life and work. Yet nothing I put my creative hands to felt right. When the trauma occurred, I had stopped all creativity, and put both my life and career on hold. I canceled my workshops, retreats, my weekly online “TV show” and all my art making and writing. So when I came back to the land of the living, I assumed I would pick up where I left off, but nothing clicked. I’m a big believer in the click. If there’s no click, then life is just going through the motions and I refuse to do that.
I was no longer the same person. And my interests and focus had changed. Fire does that to you. Ask any phoenix.
So. At the beginning of the year I created the first MUSE JUICE TOUR offerings, and this felt wonderful. What’s better than travel? Not much. But traveling with kindred spirits and turning them on to new wonders and whimsies pretty much tops everything. And that got me thinking…I can only take so many people on a tour and can physically only do so many a year. How to take kindred spirits on a tour of wonder and whimsy – how to play tour guide of the soul – on a larger level, so people can travel from their sofa?
And here we are.
On our first night together, at the close of Day 1 of The Tribe Experiment, I put my hand on my laptop screen as I lay in my bed, Car Wash snuggled up to my hip, and I prayed for each of you.
This is highly unusual. It’s not that I don’t intercede for people, or create intentions and rituals for spiritual aid. I do. But it’s an energetic thing, something that rustles up from within and then is sent into the ethers like fairy wings. To formally ask Spirit to guide, protect, and bless you? Well, that’s not so strange for me either. But the energy of it was. It was compelling. It throttled me. “Bless these hearts,” pulsed and shook in my veins til I conjured a blessing for each of you. It took me back to my church days, but in a way that made me feel responsible for and protective of your journeys. (In a healthy, nurturing way, not in an obligation way.) It felt as if you were already “my people” and I needed to ask -to insist- on your being blessed.
I told Silas about it in the morning and we both marveled at my behavior.
Two weeks into the Tribe Experiment I’m standing at our printer’s shop in Santa Fe. It’s been a long, tedious day just trying to get a few prints made. Think of someone slapping you hard across the face every ten minutes while you’re having elective oral surgery. Yeah, like that.
After two hours on our feet at the print help desk, I hear a voice behind me say, “Is that your art?” I turn around to see a tall, bespectacled man with gorgeous salt-and-pepper hair looking over my shoulder at our prints. “Yes, that’s us.” He smiles down at the words on the print “Seek beauty and you will find it. Seek it with all your heart and you will become it. ~Angi Sullins” Then he says, “Can I see the one underneath?” And we show him another print featuring my words and Silas’s art. And another. And another.
He then notices the Flaming Muse cover. We’re reprinting the cover of my audio book to make it available in physical form once again. “I take it you’re the Flaming Muse?” He looks over the top of his glasses at me. “Yes, those are my stories.” He reads the cover, which includes titles such as “When Women Had Wings,” “Remember Who You Are,” “Creative Freedom,” and “Winged Soul Repair” then he reaches out his hand toward mine and says “I’m Father Doug. I lead an interfaith church whose main principles are love and inspiration, without barriers or labels. My people would love you, and your message. Would you come speak and bring your art?”
We exchange contact information and then meet up with him for breakfast the next morning. That’s when the real “wow” begins. He tells his devastation story, and how it led to his calling, and I tell mine. We uncover connection after connection after connection. I know this man. He’s not just Father Doug, he’s someone familiar, soul familiar, someone charged to find me. And find me he did.
At one point I grab his hand and say “You know what you’re teaching in your church? It’s the same thing I teach everywhere I go. I call it WILD INCLUSION.” And he looks at me deep in the eyes and says “This is your sacred charge. Listen to it.” I get this spine tingling sensation all over. If you’ve read my book “Doorways and Dreamfields: a True Fairy Tale” you know I call this the Longing, this energy that covers you when you feel in your soul bones you’re destined for something, and now the target’s in sight.
Some other really amazing things happen that day with Father Doug. Gorgeous WOW moments best left for another post, and then we part ways.
Later that day Silas and I and Car Wash are sitting in a coffee shop sipping a latte and munching coffee cake and I’m saying to Silas how weird and yet wonderful it will be to speak in a church (and a gorgeous one at that) and I’m marveling that it’s almost as if Father Doug is asking me to preach, you know, to speak to his flock, to inspire them…and Silas says yes of course that’s what he’s asking you to do. It’s what you do anyway. You’re a messenger, you’re a muse. Look, you’re already giving mini-sermons every day with the Tribe Experiment, you just don’t call them that. And your tribe is like a church, a place of gathering where the soul is fed. I mean come on…Silas says…come on, this is the most natural thing in the world! Don’t you see it?
And this giant fucking click just shudders through my whole body.
And it all comes together. I…am…a…pastor? A …preacher? A priestess…?
I’m not going to go into all baggage I have associated with words like “church” “religion” “God” or even words like “organization” (which really freaks me out) but at this very moment I’m feeling a lot like Jonah, looking around for a whale to swallow me. Jonah was always a favorite story of mine when I was little. He wanted to run away when given a spiritual directive to go to a certain land to speak God’s word and when he tried to flee from God’s charge by taking a boat across the sea, he ended up living in the belly of a whale. Like Pinocchio, without the wood.
Sitting on the cafe’s golden yellow settee, I am guffawing all over the place, trying not to spit out my coffee cake. I don’t want to run away because I’m a priestess. I want to run away at the thought of being responsible in any formalized way. I’m a rebel. I’m a rock star. I’m an extroverted introvert who’s a dork and a hermit. And I’m a …priestess? Yes, yes I am. I cannot deny what my soul is telling me through my body…I am a rebel-rockstar-dorky-hermit-flaming-muse priestess.
Like it or not, this tribe has called me, and has solidified my life’s calling at the same time. I can’t stop at 30 days. Can you? If you can, I suppose this isn’t your tribe. But if you can’t, well, consider yourself chosen.
You’ve chosen me. And I’ve chosen you. And before any of us knew it or realized it, Spirit had chosen us to be a tribe. And here we are.
Now, back to me trying to find a whale’s belly. We pull out of the cafe’s parking lot and I’m still spluttering and guffawing to Silas about the impossibility of it all. What do we call this church? I don’t even like the word church. I like tribe. How ‘bout community? Has to be something that implies well being and soul food. Temple? And no one can know I’m a pastor. That’s ridiculous. Muse I can live with. Priestess? That rings true. Like old, old memories deep-vein true. Priestess. Temple. Muse. Art. Soul. Well being. Tribe. “What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?” I think silently to myself. Dear Spirit, send me a sign!
And as I’m saying that and Silas is pulling onto the road away from the cafe, we both see it. “Whoa!” Both of us blurt out in unison. “Back up back up!” I urge Silas. He puts the 4runner in reverse, and we pull into the parking lot of the building next to the cafe, and stare at the giant metal sign that takes up the entire side of an old brick building. Here’s the photo I snapped that day: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10202890381655560&set=a.10200717298089829.1073741832.1682971018&type=3&theater
We just sit there for minutes in silence. And I get this ridiculous goofball grin on my face. And suddenly I have the urge to dance. Dance for Spirit. For Love. Dance for a people who are hungry for soul, and who are fed. Dance for a new way to gather, to synergize, to actualize the art and wellness at our core. Dance for the tribe who chooses to thrive.
It’s been two weeks since I got the message, and saw the sign. And danced. I think the dancing has kept me out of the whale’s belly. It’s been hard not to tell you the whole story, to share the insight, but I just needed this time to let it sink in.
So here we are. It’s still sinking in. But I can say this to you: you know what calls to you when you feel it in your bones, in your core. And I feel this in the very marrow of my being. If you feel it too, I encourage you to make a commitment to show up for the next 30 days. We are a tribe. And we’re going to further explore what it means to thrive. We’re also going to get creative about our temple. We’ll indulge all that cyber space has to offer while also exploring the possibilities of physical gathering places, because I want to meet all of you. Hug you. Laugh and play and make art with you. And dance like a mofo.
And I’m going to start speaking in Santa Fe. Yup, this rebel-rockstar-dorky-hermit-flaming-muse priestess is leaving the whale’s belly to puppets and the preachers, and taking her show on the road. Stay tuned.
Here’s to another 30 days of getting our souls in alignment with thrival, so our life and our creativity can get jiggy with it.
And here’s to the rest of our lives.
I love you all.
In service, and in thrival,