Spiritual Drought in California

I know it’s raining buckets lately, but it is going to take more than a season of El Niño for California to recover from the drought.

As I watch the rain form into tiny creeks next to the sidewalk out the window and see the deeply dehydrated lines on the skin of my hands as I type, I can’t help but recognize a connection between the historic lack of water and shift in cultural climate as of late. I feel the dryness in my neighborhood as I walk through the Mission District in San Francisco.

Read on at Elephant Journal



Call of the Dark

"Darkness does not reveal her secrets easily.

She waits, suspended in infinity, to see who is listening, who is curious, who is ready.

We live in a world that emphasizes sight and neglects feeling, belittles emotion, and diminishes intuition.

Darkness is not concerned with any of this. She needs no cheerleaders, no marketing campaign nor business plan. She spends no time worrying over the approval of others. She has the slow, confident smile of a tiger in the face of a rabbit.

She does not wield power; she is power." -Eila

Read on at The Rebelle Society:…/…/23/eilacarrico-darkness/



Chaos:The Cure for the Common Practice

"I learned how to let go of perfection and the need for control by watching the traffic patterns of this small town in Tamil Nadu. There were no signs or rules about where and how to walk, drive, or ride through the streets.

There was simply an invisible feeling of knowing one’s way and a deep trust that we will look out for one another." Eila

Read on at AnnaPurna Living:



Steep Your Inner Aphrodite in Self Love

If you want to hurt my feelings, call me shallow.

Deny my depths, mention that you have decided to dismiss me based on this momentary assessment. The words will sting. I will cringe. My stomach will feel like metal, and I won’t be able to finish my dinner.

I will consider your statement in every cell of my body, run it past the processors in my gut and my toes, turn it over in my mind, and finally offer it to the fire in my belly, to be incinerated with the heaping pile of many untruths I’ve discovered over the course of my life.

Read on at The Rebelle Society:



The Hill, the Bee, and the Old Woman of Winter

Posted from Wildly Creative:

"I am overwhelmed with the state of the world this month. And it's all I can do to remind myself that we are the ones we are waiting for to make a change. The choice between fear and love is and always has been ours.

I wonder when we as women, as men, and as artists will recall our ability to carve the shapes in the landmass beneath our feet. To take up responsibility for our lives and the state of the world. We are weaving this world in every word, thought and deed.

The story of grandmother winter reminds me that the answer is simple: keep choosing love.” Eila

Read on at:…/grandmother-winter-by-eila-c…/



For the Love of Water

Posted from OmTimes:

Have you ever wondered why you feel so good after it rains?

That relaxed feeling you get at the beach, near the water, or after a thunderstorm is a result of the negative ions balancing the positive ones. Research has shown that we are physiologically prone to prefer landscapes with more negative ions.

Computers, dry winds and stagnated air in office buildings all create an accumulation of positive ions in the air, which cause our bodies to tense up and drains our energy. The accumulation of positively charged ions that stagnate in dry air are dispersed with the rain, at the edge of the ocean and on the banks of the river. Humans instinctively seek out these negative-ion rich environments because we know we need water.

Water is a simple and essential substance, one with which we interact every day of our lives; the way we hold water in our collective psyche has a profound impact on how we shape our lives. Our lungs are 90 percent water, our brains are 70 percent water and our blood is more than 80 percent water.

We need water to live. We need to drink it, swim in it, feel it in the soil and the air, and have it fall onto our heads.

Read on at OmTimes:…/the-mystical-link-between-wo…



Wildly Predictable

I am feeling rather domesticated. I have an eight-month­-old baby, and this year has seen long line of house guests, one after the other. I’m not complaining, I am happy to see everyone, but I do miss that time I used to so easily carve out for myself. The full moon gives me a bit of an excuse, and an external reminder, to set aside time to create.

I’ve been thinking about the connection between wildness and creativity, and what I’ve come to is two fold. One: there is a need for courage in true creativity. Two: there is a need for spaciousness to allow for expression.

I find courage when I feel at home, and I find spaciousness in the wild. Dancing between these two polarities ignites something in me that sparks a question, a tension, and need to explore. That exploration becomes my art. I find myself seeking out paradox and borders as a result. I love to place strange, random objects next to one another in my mind. Seasonal changes stoke my creative fire as well.

It is not summer any more in California, and it is not fall either. Harvest season is coming to a close, and the long, golden days of summer are beginning to wane. We are leaving the season of fire and approaching the season of water. These polarities make a kind of warm bath of my psyche. It is time to let go and prepare to look deeply inward to find my true self reflected in the waters of my soul. Questions I hold: How can I be wild as an artist and also be tame as a mother? Can I make something that feels spacious and free with just the materials I have in the house?

I often make excuses that I cannot create or write because I don’t have time. Or I don’t have the right materials. This month I challenged myself to work with what I’ve got. To create something that honors this tension between fire and water. I took up some construction paper and drew a silhouette. Then I cut them out and pasted them together.

What I came up with was a wolf howling at the moon. I love the wildness of the wolf, calling to the predictability of the moon. The fire is seen in the brightness of the moon, and the water is reflected in the blackness of the wolf. As she howls, one can hear silence and sound in the thickness of space. This practice is simple and inspiring, and I am once again glad I found the wildness in the middle of motherhood.



Wildly Creative Profile

Feature Profile on Wildly Creative

Q: What is Creativity?

Creativity is sporadic. She is impossible to contain, capture or cage. She calls in the middle of the night when you’d rather be sleeping and asks you to take up your pen, turn on the light, and write.

You may complain that she doesn’t stop for weeks at a time, but when she deserts you for what seems like months on end you would give anything to have her back.

Creativity may be shy around new friends and bold in the company of the heart. She is a difficult companion--she is particular about the arrangement of furniture in your living room, office and bedroom where you write. 

Wildly Creative: What is your first memory of connecting with your creative self?

I was probably six or seven, and my grandmother was making a painting of the ocean near her house. It was sunrise, and her canvas was full of soft pinks, gentle purple and blue with one tall grey heron standing on the edge of the scene.

I loved and admired her in that moment. Her hair was long and she was barefoot. I decided then I wanted to be an artist, and I already knew I preferred words and pens to paints and brushes. I also decided in that moment that I wanted to work in a place where I did not have to wear shoes. As a writer and yoga instructor, both job requirements have worked out for me so far.

Wildly Creative: What is the advice you wish someone shared with you about pursuing your passions and feeding your creative self?

Own your title as artist, writer, poet, dancer, or actor as a verb. You are a writer when you write. A dancer when you dance, and an artist when you create. DO your art, and let it be the anvil that helps you to carve out your character and defines you. Don’t wait until you’ve published a book, performed on Broadway or sold a painting. Value your process.

These words are inspired by the choreographer Alonzo King, whom I saw during my first semester once I finally decided to allow myself to commit to my writing and invest in an MFA program. He also said you create because you have no choice. A desert rose blooms because it must, and does not care whether anyone is there to see it.

Wildly Creative: What drives you wild with inspiration and passion? What is whispering to you that inspires you to create?

The deep green of the forest, and the soft tickle of deer moss. The surging river, the quiet creek. Rainstorms, cicadas, crickets. I am recharged in nature, and I learn so much there. I wake up, I plug in, and I feel ready to be a part of creation. I am filled with new ideas, countless beyond the stars, and I feel there is plenty of time for each of them. Wild, untouched nature re-sets me and reminds me that the world around me is a work of art. And I am a participant.

I also love paradox, sharp photographs, playful paintings and good stories. The work of other artists inspires me to create as part of a conversation.

Wildly Creative: What keeps you wild and daring to create?

I am dedicated to truth and fascinated by mysteries. I write to explore and to understand a world full of meaning and messages. I write to surprise myself. I feel most alive when I write regularly, and I feel it in my bones and muscles when words are not flowing.

I need to move things through me or I get stuck. That’s what keeps me creating. Then truth is my editor. I always ask myself at the end of a piece I write or work I create: is this true? If it is, I’ll share it. If not, I start over.

Reflections on the wild companion, Creativity.



Leave the Shore

Posted from AnnapurnaLiving

"We spend years in comfort on the shore, fooling ourselves with elaborate illusions of control and consistency. We find routine and false security in jobs, sidewalks, air conditioning, bills, and bank accounts, and this life feels more real (and more convenient) than the wild of the rich green forest full of biting insects, rolling thunderstorms that ruin our picnics, bitter cold nights, and prowling panthers.

When the monotony of predictability penetrates all the way into our bones, we hear the wild calling, and we drive down to the ocean, but we sit in the car and watch the sun set through the windshield. We flock to the lake, but we sunbathe on a chair and cover our bodies with sunscreen. We walk to the river, but we stay affixed to our smartphones to capture the memories. We are called by the wild, but we resist full engagement." 

Read more at:



Grounding the Divine Feminine

To bring all this "reclaiming the feminine" talk down to earth: Valuing the feminine is as simple as resting when you are tired, drinking enough water and spending time taking deep breaths outside.

Here's a poignant TED talk on re-valuing the feminine by my fellowWomancraft Publishing author Nicole Schwab.

"The environmental crisis we are facing today has its root in the fact that we value the feminine less than the masculine. We under-value that whichgives life and nourishes.

If we were truly embodied and connected, we would feel connected, every time we take a breath, every time we take a sip of water.

It would change our choices, our behavior and our actions. And it would not be out of guilt. It would flow. It would be out of a natural longing to restore harmony." --Nicole Schwab



Wildness and Flow

(This is a guest blog I wrote for Shanta over at Wildly Creative)

Creativity is about flow. Wildness is about unpredictability.

Saraswati is the goddess of both.

She rides a swan and never leaves home without her veena (an Indian string instrument). She sings, she dances, she writes, and she paints.

Her name means “in the current,” “possessing water” and “fluid.”  She is the river personified, gracefully poised on the edge of perpetual emergence. She is constantly in the state of becoming a new version of herself. Saraswati is one example of a powerful archetype: the image of the maiden river goddess. They are the keepers of beauty, the bestowers of blessings and the embodiment of grace. This archetype teaches us the value of wild feeling, imaging the unprecedented, and venturing into the vast landscapes of the unknown within ourselves.

A river creates her own pattern. She starts with a few drops of curiosity in one direction, followed by a trickle of play in another, and eventually the route is engraved for greater surges of creativity and streams of delight to follow.

Serpents of currents form over the land in patterns that may seem random, but these currents follow the law of their own hidden memories. The river these memories create feels her way along the earth’s surface, finding the way of least resistance, of acquiescent texture, and in this way she actualizes herself into the landscape as a sculptor, a painter, and a storyteller.

Artists learn to live on, dance on and surf in the wild wave of unfolding that greets us moment to moment. Artists feel deeply and magically grasp the intangible, catching snippets of the unseen and bringing them life, form, and meaning.

Bringing formlessness into form is a sacred service, one of the gifts that humans carry uniquely. It is valuable beyond measure.

“Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest external horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.”  -Audre Lorde from her Essay “Poetry is not a Luxury”

But our culture, which by and large values objective measurements and monetary success over subjective value and personal fulfillment, often makes it difficult for artists to find their place in the world.

It became popular in the industrialized world to consider it wasteful to allow a river to continue on her natural path, so the leaders wrote policy that protected profit and proudly erected dams to harness her energy.

It would outrage one’s sense of justice if that broad stream were to roll down to the ocean in mere idle majesty and beauty.’ Said the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (1881-1899) A few years later, President Theodore Roosevelt noted that we must save the water from wasting into the sea.

But beauty is never wasted, and majesty refuses to be tamed.


Italicized sections are excerpts from The Other Side of the RIver, by Eila Carrico--due out in January 2016. Check out the full post here:



Swimming in the Dark

I always wanted to write a book. As a sophomore journalism student I decided and declared I would not write my first book until it flowed unstoppably out of me. I foolishly thought the words would come like a force of nature, begging me to write them down in perfect form and order, practically arresting me from the rest of my obligations and consuming me day and night. I imagined of course, that it would be brilliant and perfect and sought after and widely praised.

As most writers and artists know, creativity doesn't work quite like that. The structure and discipline of the practice does need regular cultivation. But I did have the bit about flow right. I wrote The Other Side of the River in pieces over a three year period that spanned two master’s degrees. I had no idea it was a book or even that the sections went together at first; I just kept wanting to write about rivers and using water as a metaphor for psychological inquiry. I discovered I had a book in me when I found myself unexpectedly pregnant (best surprise of my life, btw) at the age of twenty-nine. And that’s when the rushing currents stirred within me. I finally had the mother of all deadlines, and a very concrete due date. And so I began the practice of swimming in the dark.

Life gifts us each with at least one moment when resistance is pointless. We spend years in comfort on the shore, fooling ourselves with elaborate illusions of control and consistency. We find routine and false security in jobs, sidewalks, air conditioning, bills, and bank accounts, and this life feels more real (and more convenient) than the wild of the rich green forest full of biting insects, rolling thunderstorms that ruin our picnics, bitter cold nights, and prowling panthers.

When the monotony of predictability penetrates all the way into our bones, we hear the wild calling, and we drive down to the ocean, but we sit in the car and watch the sun set through the windshield. We flock to the lake, but we sunbathe on a chair and cover our bodies with sunscreen. We walk to the river, but we stay affixed to our smartphones to capture the memories. We are called by the wild, but we resist full engagement.

We have an innate sense that the place where land meets water is a liminal space, a space with a personality and an agenda of her own. She acts as a gatekeeper between the surface layers of awareness and the less traversed depths of our individual psyches. It is she who chooses when and how and why to open that carefully guarded threshold. If we spend enough time at the edge of the water, she will consider this an invitation to splay open our souls, and we will eventually have to confront the unseen depths of our watery past.

There may be any number of strange, alien looking creatures down there in our subconscious, but how can we know what is there if we’ve never left the safety of the shore? We fool ourselves into believing the sand, the surface, and the sunshine is all there is, while hidden beliefs, lies we keep from ourselves, ancient memories of churning oceans, lightless caves and moonless skies are suppressed and pushed deeper and deeper into the subconscious.

But life promises this: that moment when resistance is futile will come. The fluid parts of our souls pull us into chaos, pushing us to look at all we’ve avoided, tossing us unwilling into waves of uncertainty and currents of dramatic change. Life keeps her promises. And when she calls you, you must learn to swim in the dark mystery of possibility.

Today, with this pen in my hand, it is as if the emotions can flow easily downhill from my chest along the veins in my shoulders and past my wrists into my fingertips. The result is visible, the words appear between the lines on a piece of paper I can hold. The ink creates something tangible and lasting out of the ineffable experiences of my body. Those same emotions often refuse to flow upstream into the narrow channel of my throat to become spoken words, and even then sound vibrations dissolve in the air much more quickly than ink on the page. The lines on this page act as the banks for a river, providing structure so the words can flow.

I peek around the other side of a mass of faceless fear to find curiosity. This is the current of possibility. The intersections of inner and outer landscapes merge. I am the river, I am the sand. Articulating these grooves, these patterns of memory that criss-cross across my body and overflow through my fingers is how I learn to put down roots, to leave marks in the sand, to feel my way across a river in the dark.

(This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Other Side of the River, to be published by Womancraft Publishing in January 2016. Follow me on Facebook (Eila Kundrie Carrico) or sign up for their newsletter here to get a reminder and discounts on purchasing the book.)



Crazy Brave Feminist

I think of Wind and her wild ways the year we had nothing to lose and lost it anyway in the cursed country of the fox.

I am captivated, curiously following the tentative trail of description poet Joy Harjo leaves behind her as an invitation into her world. Harjo’s world is rich with metaphor and meaning, and also firmly grounded in natural symbolism. With this opening line from her prose poem Grace, where else can a reader’s mind go but into the text that follows?

The haunting voices of the starved and mutilated broke fences crashed our thermostat dreams, and we couldn’t stand it one more time. So once again we lost a winter in stubborn memory, walked through cheap apartment walls, skated through fields of ghosts into a town that never wanted us, in the epic search for grace.

Joy Harjo is a feminist poet, musician, author and screenwriter of Native American (Cherokee and Creek) and European descent. With her trademark style of subversion, Harjo situates herself as a powerful poet who demands our attention. She occupies the borders of the writing world as a prose-poet; toys with word connotation in works such as Grace; and unearths cultural constructs of female beauty with her rounded way of using words and creating landscapes on the page. In her poetry, Harjo tackles especially complex emotions with direct, natural symbols, identifies the pain of being a woman-outsider, and witnesses and names the loss and betrayal stemming from the genocide and systematic control of her people and culture. The poems I cite here are from the collection of poems “She Rises Like the Sun,” edited by Janine Canan.

Like Coyote, like Rabbit, we could not contain our terror and clowned our way through a season of false midnights. These animals—rabbit and coyote—are tricksters in the Native American oral traditions; they are creatures comfortable in the liminal space between conscious and unconscious. Tricksters are known to be wildly unpredictable and often initiate a shattering of the status quo. They are usually portrayed as a supernatural character who appears in various guises and engages in mischievous activities. In myth and folklore, they are a circuitous kind of cultural hero. Bugs Bunny is one modern example, as are Puss-in-Boots and Puck from A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream.

Harjo plays a trickster herself in her unwillingness to submit to the dominant culture’s poetic rules and rhymes. As the trickster occupying the borderlands, she plays with these distinct edges skillfully with her use of symbols and her fluid movement between prose and poetry.

Many of Harjo’s poems are in celebration of the oral culture of her upbringing. She was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1951 and graduated from the writing program at University of Iowa. Her poems often focus on animals and nature as well as women and tribal myth. We can see in the following lines from Grace that she is steeped in Native American culture as she unearths the connotations of buffalo and corn.

I could say grace was a woman with time on her hands, or a white buffalo escaped from memory. But in that dingy light it was a promise of balance. We once again understood the talk of animals, and spring was lean and hungry with the hope of children and corn.


I am fascinated by this inquiry into the meaning of the word and concept of grace. In my conservative Christian upbringing, the word grace, so soft and unassuming, was loaded with a subversive feeling of masculine power and divine withholding. Though my practices in Kashmir Shaivism started to re-define the word for me as something more spacious, old wounds heal slowly. I still identify the word with an ethereal quality that is supposed to be warm and fuzzy, but has never been so simple for me. Harjo uses that internal unease her readers experience to open the doorway into a more clear articulation of the emotion she wants to convey.

Her words do much more than define an ambivalent relationship with grace: They express a complexity between the invisible and visible worlds that is developed later in the poem. She expands into a heart-breaking depth of pain alongside the lightness of elegant and beautiful language that perfectly captures the experience of grace in her family. We had to swallow the town with laughter, so it would go down easy, like honey. Highlighting the way that her family used humor to move through traumatic experiences, Harjo is humbly citing examples of how humans survive through the worst of times.

She also speaks as a strong outsider, committed to telling the truth of her own powerful experience. I would like to say, with grace, we picked ourselves up and walked into the spring thaw. We didn’t; the next season was worse. There is no sugar coating in her plain language. There is disappointment and a hard reality, faced with courage and, appropriately, grace.

Harjo also demonstrates her mastery for making the ineffable effable in numerous poems, but especially in the delicate contrast and beauty of Grace. She gently juxtaposes tangible daily materials with a richness of feeling that allow the reader to have an authentic experience. Here she is taking on one of the most slippery and elusive words in the Christian tradition and illuminating its quality as she felt it in a rest stop: And one morning as the sun struggled to break ice, and our dreams found us with coffee and pancakes in a truck stop along highway eighty; we found grace.

The readers expects for grace to come from a pristine, gilded building, but they find it instead in the Native American view that spirituality is infused in everyday life. The Harjos find grace, a divine moment, in one of the seemingly least holy of all environments, a truck stop. If spirit lives here, then there is nowhere it cannot be found. The choice of scenery shows a position of inner fortitude and a resiliency that is not based on external approval.

The last lines of Grace are incredibly powerful in revealing the open wound of a people who have been grossly mistreated. You went home to Leech Lake to work with the tribe and I went south. And, Wind, I am still crazy. I know there is something larger than the memory of a dispossessed people. We have seen it. Without contrived line breaks or mechanisms to toy with suspense, Harjo says what she wants to say. Like Joan Didion, whom I also admire for her piercing insight into cultural constructs, Harjo lays her cards out in the first sentence—no comma is used. She picks up the pace and connects two thoughts with the conjunction, and then she talks to the elements and brings in the image of wind, that ethereal, unpredictable force that connotes change and scattering. The last two sentences are short and strong with the declaration, the multiple syllables in dispossessed, and the simple four words of We have seen it. She does not need to describe it: the reader feelsit.

Harjo takes her place on the border between cultures again and again. In Book of Myths, she points to the discrepancy between how American and Native cultures see their women, foregrounding the beauty of Native women, even though they are not worshipped with the status of Marilyn Monroe.  I would like to note that this is a poem written in true verse rather than as a prose poem, which accentuates the structured concepts of beauty she is pointing toward.

There is Helen in every language; in American her name is Marilyn/ but in my subversive country,/ she is dark earth and round and full of names/ dressed in bodies of women/ who enter and leave the knife wounds of this terrifyingly/ beautiful land;/ we call ourselves ripe and pine tree woman.

The use of earth and roundness provide images that empower women away from the violent and oppressive symbolism of patriarchal systems. Harjo is also pointing out the limiting and terribly painful view that one particular woman has it right, implying that all others are wrong, broken, or fall short. Held up next to a model, a woman is sure to fail in likeness, but if she is held up against the earth and seen as beautiful in her unique qualities, she may find liberation.

Marilyn Monroe herself is a strong symbol of a woman who appears to have it all, but there is a deep interior sadness or emptiness that ultimately leads to her suicide at a young age. Harjo does not need to go into this history; she trusts her reader will conjure these connections at the mention of the name. This trust adds to the bond Harjo creates between herself and her readers. There is a dialogue going on that spans space and time.

A similar clash between American and indigenous culture is again seen in White Bear where Harjo juxtaposes the symbols of the bus stop against the night sky; a knife next to corn meal; and an airplane circling above Mount St. Helens. She ends with the hopeful pairing of the ultimate opposites: all darkness/ is open to light. These symbols portray the struggle for spiritual identity in the modern world, a common theme in her work. Her poems often point toward a return to wildness as a medicine in which to remember our wholeness.

Even when the content is challenging, Joy Harjo’s poems conjure ease and spaciousness. I feel seen reading her poems; they bring me a greater sense of intimacy with myself and my surroundings. I remember myself in a way that calls on me to recognize my full human potential as a child of the earth. As a young feminist of mixed origin, mostly Western European and North American, I resonate strongly with the indigenous voice of Joy Harjo as she weaves her words between two cultures that are both separate and connected like a marble cake.

As Harjo says in her poem Remember: Remember the earth whose skin you are./ Red earth yellow earth white earth brown earth/ black earth we are earth. She is calling us all back home to our fullness.




Dirty Sock Dharma

I ran out of fresh socks a few days ago, and I am down to my last pair of favorite yoga pants. I haven't seen my comfy jeans for a while either, so it's probably time. Time for laundry. Again.

It's such a hassle to lug everything down a few flights, make sure I have enough quarters to wash and dry both loads, all the while hoping no one else beat me to the only machine in the building. Return in 32 minutes. 44 minutes. Repeat.

Satisfaction: I put away the last pair of neatly folded socks into their drawer. The basket is empty, and I have so many choices of colors and sizes and shapes for all my clothes. Tomorrow morning will be the peak of my laundry cycle mood---sheer contentment. Santosha.

The problem is that I have already noticed a towel in the bathroom I forgot to include, a jacket by the door that did not make it into this round, AND I am wearing a pair of socks at this very moment, slowly dirtying them with each step. They'll be definitely dirty by this evening, and I will have to add them into the empty basket, a melancholy reminder of the beginning of another cycle.

Which reminds me of something. It seems like I do this in other areas of my life as well. I work and work to get to a certain point, achieve happiness or some other vague goal, and I promptly enjoy it for a few moments before I realize that I did not cross a finish line in a linear race--I am simply running in circles.

I know we as yogis all know this, but my dirty socks remind me that there is no happily-ever-after and to enjoy every part of the cycle, wherever I am. Full basket or full drawer.