Covid at the Grove

After three years of not catching covid, this whole pandemic, it has unfortunately hit our household. My daughter was having some cold symptoms coughing, and my wife was also starting to feel an itch at the back of her throat, but since our daughter is too young to have her test safely. To rule out covid, we had my wife take a covid test. Unfortunately, we confirmed it was covid instead, meaning our daughter was also probably covid positive. I didn’t have symptoms and tested negative that day.

The next day, I tested positive and was put onto the anti viral covid medication like my wife was a twice a day for five days med that helps reduce the severarity of the covid symptoms and keep you out of the hospital. While on the medication, I did get the side effect of a metallic taste, but I did retain most of my ability to taste and smell. Including tasting the mucus in the back of my throat.

Overall, my covid symptoms were mild compared to what it could have been. I had congestion with the taste of mucus in the back of my throat, pretty congested, some shortness of breath and it triggered my fibromyalgia with extra fatigue and amplified body aches and a heavy brain fog, but after I finished the medication the metallic taste disappeared along with most my symptoms. The fatigue and extra pain stuck around, but with my fibromyalgia, my body has a long memory for pain and fatigue, not letting go of those as quickly. So, I am used to my post sickness fibro flares.

My wife had her birthday during our quarantine, but we tried to make the best of it. Painting, Door dashing a special meal, and making a game of various choices of things to do around the house for her. We had planned the games before but had to modify them for the quarantine. Taking the rapid test at the end of our quarantine, the sample line was so faint that you couldn’t really even see it.

However, on Saturday (day 11 after infection) I was cleaning the kitchen table with my homemade pine cleaner I realized I couldn’t smell it at all and normally it has a pleasant pine smell with an untone of vinegar two very distinct smells. I tried smelling the bottle directly. Nothing. Ate a pickle–nothing. Fire cider–nothing. Cheesecake had no taste, maybe a hint of sweetness as after taste. My homemade spaghetti leftovees had no taste, and the day before, it had a good complexity of flavors. Morning coffee, nothing. Food and drinks have been reduced to temperature and textures with the occasional hint in an aftertaste. It has taken the joy out of food that I dont want to eat, only to experience textures. I also cook by taste. I don’t measure most things when I cook. So I hope I get my taste back soon or I won’t be able to cook to my same standard.

I retested, and my rapid test showed a very strong line. Confused as I didn’t know how I could be reinfected. Turns out that 1-2% of people can get what is known as a Paxlovid Rebound after taking the anti viral medication that causes a resurge of your covid infection typically seen in elderly and immune compromised people. With fibromyalgia being an auto immune disease, put me in the more susceptible group to get this rebound, lucky me.

My initial Covid and my rebound infection are definitely different. Mostly, it is the complete loss of taste, and smell dominates my symptoms with even dirty diapers having no smell. It is so strange not to smell anything, especially since I’m not cpngested; it’s actually erie feeling as something feels off. I do have the occasional cough and some shortness of breath, and of course, the fatigue and body aches as brain fog came back in full force. I’m just hoping that this rebound infection passes quickly.

I am thankful that my household was able to avoid catching covid for three years with isolation, masking, and getting our vaccines. It sucks that we ended up catching it, but it was better to catch it in 2023 than in 2020 with lower hospitalization rates with these variants and the protection the vaccines do provide if you catch it. I just want my sense of taste and smell back now.

With healing thoughts,
Marc
Druid of the Hillside Grove /|\

My wife’s blog also has posts about catching covid along with many other things at: https://oracleofthegrove.wordpress.com/

Scientific American article about the Paxlovid Rebound: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-paxlovid-rebound-and-how-common-is-it/

The Wrong Shaman

This is about my own first-hand experience when a shaman failed to hold space well for
me, while I was attempting to do some deep inner child work and how that affected me, my healing journey and spiritual path. I’m writing this in hopes of starting to heal from my experience in choosing the wrong shaman to help me.

Almost two years ago now, I was approached by one of the instructors at the Druid school I was attending letting me know he could do a shamanic soul retrieval for me to help me with the inner child work I was doing. With the idea to help me with my C-PTSD from my childhood abuse and trauma. I was not sure until after my wife had our daughter a few months after he told me he could help me. For those that don’t know having children can trigger your childhood trauma as everything reminds you of what happened to you and it can be the first thought that comes to your mind with your children doing what you might have done and you have to make a conscious choice to do better than what was done to you.

I’m trying to break these generational traumas of abuse, and that means confronting these instead of repeating them. Parenting with intention, love, and compassion; not yelling, hate, blame, and violence that I was raised in. I am a cycle breaker and healing these traumas has been much of my own personal entheogenic healing practice and I thought the instructor at my Druid school who has had a healing shamanic practice might help give me a few more tools in my healing tool box to address and help me in my healing journey not only try to heal my traumas from childhood, but also dealing with the traumas of being disabled, and my military service as well.

It was after some thought, I agreed and asked him if he could do the soul retrieval for me thinking I could do some deeper work if there was someone there to hold space for me especially since this was a person I had a gained a lot of trust and respect for during my time at the Druid school as he was a Instructor, Mentor, Friend and Cleric that I had been working with at the Druid school for almost a year and half. We had already done some deep spiritual work during my first year graduation ceremonies. Thinking they would help set me off on the right foot to going deeper than I had been able to before.

After I got comfortable on a cot, they did around 5-10 mins of drumming, which did put me into a trance state. I journey through green smoke, then through purple smoke before ending up in a void. I heard my childhood nickname being called over and over like my inner child might be lost somewhere in this void. Hearing my childhood nickname brought me back to a time when I was vulnerable, scared, and abused. Feeling very lost and confused, I couldn’t find my inner child, no matter how hard I looked. I felt the shift in the drum beat calling me out of the trance. This has been my most vivid experience emotionally outside entheogenic trance. It surprised me it could be that vivid outside entheogens..

Dazed, lost, and confused, the shaman told me that he needed to tell me about the journey he had while drumming before I told him anything about my experience. I thought this was strange since he was supposed to be helping me with my journey.

As he started drumming, he called his guides for help with this journey on my healing path. The owl answered his call, but when they both looked down at me, I was blurry and completely out of focus. They realized it was my medical use of cannabis that was causing them to not see me clearly somehow. So the shaman had to ask the spirit of cannabis to leave so they could do their work even. When the spirit of cannabis left, they could see me clearly, but the owl spirit got confused by my bridge piercing for a minute as they had never seen anything like it before. Then they looked down at my body and were surprised to not see the physical injuries to my body from my fibromyalgia like they do with other injuries but eventually after inspecting me closer they saw two energetic tendrils coming out my side and the owl related to the shaman it was from two men in my past. Whose names were just generic male names. I think Carl and Phil but don’t fully recall the names exactly as they didn’t resonate at all with me . But the shaman believes they were the source of my fibromyalgia and part of my trauma in my past. He also told me that I should try my own journey work when I’m not using my medication or right before I need to use it again as they felt that blurred the answer from me like it blurred my body from them at the beginning of their journey before they dismissed the spirit of my medicine away.

I have a few issues with their journey. First off, the need to dismiss someone’s medication so you can see them clearly is ablisic along with suggesting someone do their spiritual work without their medication. Would they need to dismiss the spirit of insulin on a diabetic? I also found it very strange that my piercings would even need remarking on. The idea that they think my fibromyalgia exists outside my body’s caused by these two generic men that I had never heard of and the shaman wanted me to try to contact people I’m in no contact with due to abuse to investigate these men’s names and how they are connected to me. If their journey had just not resonated with me, it would have been one thing, but this was just problematic and filled with internalized ableism and biases surrounding cannabis medicine.

After they told me all about their journey. I told them about mine. I am still feeling incredibly vulnerable with a lot to still integrate from my own journey, still trying to find all the words for what I was feeling as it was overwhelming. The shaman thought this was the ideal time to switch their hats and address me as an instructor of the Druid school while they were supposed to be holding space for me to address my inner child work.

It seemed that the shamans journey was really more connected with what he wanted to talk to me about and not about helping me with my inner child work at all. They had an agenda and used the journey work as there work up.

The issue was my medication, of course. Apparently, according to him, several students had an issue with my need to use cannabis to ease my chronic pain. while I am sitting in my smoking room on a zoom call even though others use their favorite recreational drugs (alcohol, tobacco, caffeine) and pharmaceuticals on the same calls, but apparently seeing me smoke cannabis was going to cause another student to inject heroin and so I need to start hiding my medical cannabis use. I thought this was odd since I’ve never heard of anyone injecting cannabis and I still can’t draw a connection between cannabis and heroin; they are completely different drugs that affect different parts of the brain and the other drugs allowed by the Druid school have greater risk for addiction and death than cannabis does.

This turned into a several hour conversation around my medicine while I was in a very raw emotional state after doing some of the inner child work. (It should also be noted that later, it came out that it wasn’t several students but instead only one student. Yet he felt the need to exaggerate how many people had an issue with my medicine while talking to further make his point and i found that very dishonorable) This whole event made me lose trust that this person could ever hold space for me again and this was a major issue since they hold space during some of the rituals for the Druid school I was attending and I don’t think I’d feel safe letting myself get vulnerable around them again even though I’d been working with them for over a year and half.

I came out of the cannabis closet a long time ago, and I stopped being ashamed of my medical need to use cannabis to treat my pain. With cannabis I have gotten off all my pharmaceuticals and have been able to free myself from the need to use a cane to walk. Although I have my limitations. Part of that limitation is that I need to use cannabis regularly and while pushing myself to be able to keep up with the abled bodied people but it is possible and I don’t think it is too much to ask for me who is try to keep up without people telling me, I should hide in shame back in the cannabis closet by hiding my cannabis use. As cannabis is what I need to manage my disability and as those who know me have heard me say cannabis saved my life, but honestly, it is actively saving my life daily. Without cannabis managing my pain, I would not be alive long. The pain would drive me back into the darkness I could not survive and those who want me to hide my medicine in shame show me they would rather see me die in that darkness than see me smoke a joint to manage my pain.

I came home that day raw and more emotionally damaged than I was headed into a shamanic healing session. This also set me back in managing my C-PTSD, and if I’m honest I’m still worse off now than I was before I let myself get vulnerable with this person. They left me essentially with a spiritual wound and trauma oozing out uncontrollably.

It appeared I had a lot of work left to do before I was going to be accepted for how I treat my disability. I started hiding my medication in the hope it would be temporary while I did some
self advocacy, and I began a several month discourse between myself and a few of the instructors at this Druid school as I cared deeply for this program and the people I was working with. Instead of addressing my childhood trauma, I was fighting for the acceptance of how I treat my disability within Druid school, and it started to make me feel so dehumanized as the ableism got worse, not better. Doing self advocacy while also being the stay at home dad and primary caretaker of my infant daughter and helping my wife through her postpartum. Eventually, it got bad enough that I had to leave The Druid College as it wasn’t a positive environment for me anymore, and leaving caused it own issues, but that’s a blog post for another day.

With healing thoughts,
Marc
Druid of the Hillside Grove /|\

Pulling Myself Out Of My Inner Darkness

Depression is heavy and unruly it is something I have struggled with throughout my life. As I felt myself spiraling again and my wife pointed it out, it had been too long since my last healing session with mushrooms. The last couple of years of been a extra difficult with Covid, loss of connection with community, facing generational trauma, C-PTSD flashbacks from childhood trigger by parenthood, learning who I am now as a father, figuring out who I am again in general, struggles of being disabled full time caretaker, taking on extra as my wife was pregnant and dealing with postpartum, struggles of being a new parent in my late 30’s, intense fibro flare increasing my pain, changes in relationships after becoming a parent, trying to find time to do things I enjoy, a bad shamanic experience that set me back in my healing, and leaving the Druid college due to ableism. Along with all the social, political, and environmental issues the world is facing as a whole that weighs on my mind.

It is time that I isolate myself and dive deep into my own mind in an entheogenic trance to pull myself back out of the spiraling darkness that envelopes my being when my depression takes me over. I set up my altar for my healing journey. I told the mushrooms that my intention for this journey was for me to live life joyously and to heal from my trauma, then ate the prepared 4.5 grams. I find it important to share what your intentions are for your journey with the mushrooms. I cleared my space with music and danced around the room as I started to feel the beginning of becoming bemushroomed. Shaking away the anxiety and pretrip gitters with my hand-held rattle. When the room felt fully at peace. I invited Nemetona, the goddess of the Saceid Grove to hold space for me holding my journey space as sacred space. I thanked the little teachers for the guidance and healing they will bestow on me in my journey as they are the food of the gods bringing divinity within you for guidance.

I sat in front of my altar and did a smoking meditation, releasing pains and distracting thoughts with each puff of smoke. Getting myself lost in the spirals and curls of the wisps of smoke getting myself ready to journey past this realm into the otherworldly planes of existence. As the spirit of cannabis and the little teachers work together, I felt myself slipping away headed for ego dissolution. 

Mushroom Altar

At this point I put my eye mask on and layed down in my prepared space while hold a small wooden disc with a sigil burned onto it that I created to symbolize the intention of Live life joyously that I made when I first started using psychedelics. As I layed down, I felt the presence of my longest guide, the Wolf as their fur warmed me and comforted me as I left my body. 

In pure bliss, I floated away. Through space endlessly, I floated and experienced immortality as I wasn’t just myself but all of space for all time and all at once. There is no way to truly describe what this was like. Maybe this is the afterlife before we are reborn. It was the most at peace I’ve ever been. It was at some point during this that one of my guides urged me it was time to go deeper and I took an additional booster dose bringing me up to 6 grams total for the trip and I continued to float through space. 

The mushrooms gave me the warning just briefly that things were about to get dark and personal, but this was what I had asked for. In the darkness, things became clear, and I started looking deep into myself. The darkness I was in was my own. I cried in the pain of my darkness. I have been wearing misery like a wet blanket pretending it was armor that would protect me because it is what I am used to. 

In the darkness, I started to come to a deeper understanding of myself. My self- image has never been a positive or accurate representation of what others have viewed me as and have only ever been able to see my inadequacies, mistakes, and flaws. Especially when it comes to my knowledge and intelligence. Yet looking at myself in the darkness, I started to feel like I was a fish just now discovering that I was, in fact, wet even if I didn’t feel it, especially as it relates to my intelligence. 

Here in the darkness. I got to see myself and my life so much differently. When you take away my worries, obligations, money, pain, and trauma instead of looking at what I have been able to build in my life.  Even faceing all that I have in my life up to now and all that I am currently have to face. I found love in my soul mate. We are building our homestead bit by bit, and yes, we struggle, but we also make it through every time. We now have our miracle daughter that we never thought we could have. Raising her in a home of love and compassion, breaking generational trauma. We may not be in a home of money, but we are a home wealthy in love. I truly am living a dream, and I need to recognize that even when I’m struggling.

I was able to discover I was powerful in that darkness. I have faced so much in my life that could have completely destroyed me but instead I have always strived to treat others better and not use my trauma as an excuse to abuse others, striving for better and it is also time to use that power on myself as well as others. It’s all a matter of belief. I just need to believe in myself. When I believe I can do something, I typically make it happen. That’s the power I have, just only when I believe in myself.

As I focused on belief and myself, I was pulled out of the darkness by an animal guide I hadn’t worked with before the Bat. Even though I may have come from darkness, it doesn’t mean I can’t see like my friend the Bat. I have adapted and evolved from the darkness that I grew up in, and it is time to fly out of it and not become it.

I took my mask off, then took my last booster, bringing me up to 7 grams for the trip, and the spirit of cannabis called to me, and I did another smoking meditation. If I don’t smoke during my trips, my pain is out of control afterward. I am also able to commune with the spirit of cannabis on a much more intimate level during a trip. I let myself get lost again in the spirals and curls of the smoke in the air. The cannabis spirit reaffirmed the message of believe. Believe in myself, and I can do it. Absorbing the power of belief in every spiral of smoke that touched me. 

I ended up in a random thought rabbit hole around this time. Why do we often see villains as happy and heroes often miserable? Why do people villainize you when you set boundaries? Not everything is clear from the villain’s thoughts. Except that the Riddler came to my mind. Not much of this random thought rabbit hole is completely coherent in my memory.

I started to stare down at my sigil and it became clearer and I was able to read the sigil deeper and see more meanings in it than I realized. As I stared at the sigil I made years ago I saw a question mark artistically made in the center that I didn’t intend originally. But with perfect clarity it made sense that at the center of my quest to live life joyously is my ever questioning curiosity that is fueled by my intelligence. 

Live Life Joyously Sigil

I flipped the wood disc over and stared into the circular pattern in the wood grain. Getting lost in it. I then placed it on my forehead over my third eye with my sigil pointing outward as a lens for my third eye to look through. I closed my eyes and started to meditate. 

Since I hadn’t moved much over the last several hours. I got up and stretched, moved around some. I realized I lost my sigil around this point. I rolled up the yoga mats, folded the blanket and still couldn’t find it. Looked all around the space I had been in. It was gone. Maybe my third eye absorbed it. Maybe a guide took it as payment. Either way it was gone. I could feel the effects of the mushrooms fading away as my physical bodily pain reasserted itself into my reality. 

While none of my problems went away as a result of my trip. What has changed is I have come out of it with a new perspective, feeling more confident, powerful, self-aware, and the weight of my inner darkness lifted off my shoulders so I can be happier outlook.

Live Life Joyously,

Marc

Druid of the Hillside Grove /|\

Music Play list used during journey work. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0pIQ05IPfAP27tI8X7D6L0?si=vuXQmdvRRsSp98f1rApXsw

Life as a Disabled Sailor

This bit of shadow work is surrounding the struggles I went through to be able to join the Navy and how becoming disabled in the military affected how I was treated while still active duty that contributed to and/or compounded various aspects of my C-PTSD.

After battling with my mother for a couple years about being able to attend college after high school she made it impossible for me to sign up because you need parental social security information to apply to college when you are under 25. I was told I was too stupid for college and it was not only a waste of her time and energy for me to even think about higher educatiion. She told me she couldn’t waste the professor’s time if I somehow made it in as well. I barely graduated high school and was just too stupid for school. 

I found a solution though. When you join the military they will pay for your schooling while you are active duty and there is the GI Bill for when I got out. The problem was I was severely overweight. I nearly 400 pounds when I graduated high school but the only time I ever got praise growing up is when I would get my mothers money’s worth all you can eat Buffet. I had thought the military might put me on some kind of fat boy program and I’d lose what I needed to lose that way.  When I walked into the Recruiters office they nearly laughed me out when I told them I wanted to join. To sign up for the Navy I had to be under 201 pounds for my height. I hadn’t been under 200 pounds since middle school, maybe even elementary and I thought it was crazy they didn’t have a weight loss program for those who wanted to join like you see in movies. 

I didn’t let the opinions of the recruiters deter me. I resolved that I would join the Navy and this would allow me to get my education and increase my overall intelligence, so I wouldn’t be so stupid. Even though I was always told I was stupid by those closest to me growing up, I have always been eager to learn something more, so I was excited I found a way that I could obtain that education. 

After I left the recruiters office I went to see if my membership to 24 hour fitness was still active on the family plan or to find out if I needed to sign up on my own. Thankfully my mother hadn’t removed me and started to live at the gym from that day forward. My routine was to get up in the morning, go to the gym I’d do cardio in several layers of clothes to sweat more, I’d use various machines and the get in the pool followed by getting in the saunas and then I would relax in the hot tub for a little bit before I would go home to prepare for work as a cook at the bowling alley, then I would go to the gym after work and repeat the routine and on days I didn’t work I went to the gym a third time.

I had also put myself on an extremely strict Atkins diet cutting the allowed carbs of the Atkins diet in half to make sure I was losing weight quickly. Along with taking the maximum allowed dose of Hydroxycut with Ephedrine in it when it was still legal. When I got down to about 220, I plateaued badly. I couldn’t drop the last 19 pounds until I started using Epsom salt as a laxative and was able to get down to 202 and 48 hours before weigh in I stopped all intake of food and water to make sure I was under the weight limit. I weighed in at 199.5 and I cried in the bathroom for probably an hour. I did it. I did what everyone said was impossible, not even my friends thought I could lose the required weight. I could finally escape the grasp of my mother who always wanted to make sure she ruined my life as much as she believed I ruined her life by having the audacity of being born. 

After boot camp and my advanced training as a Parachute Rigger, I scored the first in my class division giving me the first choice of orders. It was a simple choice, which was the farthest away from Washington state that wasn’t Florida (I had my share of Hurricanes during advance training including Ivan), so I picked my orders and got stationed at Brunswick Naval Airstation in my first squadron. 

At this point in my life I felt like I was reborn and was able to start my life new and try to forget my traumatic past and it worked for a while. I found friends that I bonded closely with and they were now my family. In fact the whole Navy was all part of my family and this is a common sentiment in the military that’s why you hear veterans talk about their brothers and sisters referring to fellow veterans.

I felt completely reliant on myself for my well-being and I was doing good for myself for the first time in my life. I planned on starting college classes after I got to the rank of E-4 making sure my career was solid. I was doing really well for myself. I got qualified in everything I could. I got my yellow shirt, meaning qualified to direct aircraft on the flight line in almost record time. I also held licenses for almost every equipment that was used on the flight line. Along with studying my specific job that included managing all survival gear used by the aircrew, not just the parachutes. I always placed in the top 10 when taking advancement exams for my rank and rate (job). I was a shit hot sailor, if I am honest. Everything was looking amazing for me for the first time in my life. I had even met the love of my life, my soulmate and we got married five months after we met and are still married to this day 17 years later. My life was perfect. I was extremely happy, a feeling that was not natural for me.

Perfect until one spring day, no different than any other day. I printed off my list of inspections that were due and we had oxygen regulators in an aircraft to remove and replace as part of their routine maintenance schedule. The plane was in another hangar getting its own advanced maintenance done. The job was easy and I had done it several times before. As I was disembarking the plane with a tool box full of O2 specific tools and a tool box made to carry the regulators one in each hand. I slipped on one of the top steps. I believe the non-skid tape had been removed to be replaced while I was in the aircraft, but the new tape was not on yet. I feel down the steps hard and then off the steps onto the deck. With my O2 clean tools spread all over the hanger floor. I had just royally fucked up. These tools can’t be contaminated by any hydrocarbons or it can cause an explosion when dealing with oxygen and now these tools are not safe for oxygen use. My first thought being they will probably send me to Captains Mass for fucking up so badly and probably ruining my career because I was too stupid to watch where I was stepping causing me to fall.

I jumped up as quickly as people asked if I was okay while I gathered all  my tools scattered on the deck, so I could head straight to maintenance control to inform them of what happened. That way the tools can get taken care of and I can face my consequences. It was better to fess up now, take my licks and hopefully not lose too much standing in my reputation that I had worked so hard to build. Not really caring about the massive bruise on my inner thigh, my back that was screaming at me and the cut on my hand from some random safety wire that cut me somewhere in my fall. 

To my surprise the maintenance Senior Chief on duty didn’t really seem to care. The tools could get recleaned and certified for O2 use again and he told me to just get back to work which I happily did even though he was supposed to send me to medical. I was young and bounced up quickly from the fall. I couldn’t be that hurt could I? The fall out of the plane just being something that happened. The problem was my back never felt better. I just got worse and worse, but I pushed myself through it and hid my pain like you’re supposed to do as a man or at least I thought at the time. After several months of pain my back had started getting spasms when eventually one night the spasms were enough that it put me into tears. This time scaring the hell out of my wife as I twiched from painful muscle spasms in my back. I told her I’d be fine but she didn’t know what to do, so she called a friend of ours who was studying to be an EMT and they called an ambulance on me. By the time it got to my house my spasms had stopped. I tried not to let the ambulance take me, but I lost that fight 2-1 between my wife and friend who wanted to see me see a doctor. As I had been having spasms in my sleep since my fall this was just the worse they had been and I couldn’t hide it anymore.

The next day I had to report to my chain of command that I had been taken to the hospital by ambulance the previous night. Something I really didn’t want to do. I thought I was good at hiding my pain. I was sent to base medical as an immediate follow up that day. They gave me sailors vitamin M, Motrin for the pain and referred me to PT where I could get some manipulation to see how that would help. 

As the months passed I only got worse and was put on light duty. My doctors started giving me more and more pharmaceuticals. They gave me Vicodin for the pain and lots of it to make sure I was still a functioning sailor as I saw various doctors to find the cause of my pain. I got x-rays, mri’s and tons of blood tests. I was told I had mild arthritis in my back but it’s not the cause of my pain and all my labs came back good. They didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I was in agony and thought I might also be going crazy as the were getting stumpted. Between the intense pain and massive mix of pharmaceuticals my balance was bad. I could not walk without the aid of a cane, eventually I ended up 100% dependent on it to walk even a couple steps and I would remain shackled to it for 8 years. 

As my limitations became more apparent I started to see my fellow sailors start to treat me differently. I was no longer the golden boy I was before the fall. A fellow sailor saw me take my medication at lunch and he was able to get my O2 cart license revoked and he also got my flight line driving privileges removed and told me if he could he’d also make sure I couldn’t drive on base because I had become disabled and needed medications, so this meant I was somehow going to be responsible for killing his family due to my medication the Navy doctors prescribed me according to him. He also refused to go onto the flight line with me because he deemed me a hazard to him, myself and everyone else on the flight line due to the drugs I was on and he out ranked so that was the end of that. It wasn’t only the sailors who directly worked with me either, I became the joke of the whole squadron. People would fake limps or drag a leg if they saw me walk by with my cane and laugh or point. I went from shit hot to a piece of shit pretty quickly. Even my evaluation suffered because I no longer could do most things but because I was disabled I scored much lower. It’s amazing how fast your adoptive family turns on you and makes you feel like garbage that should be thrown away, a feeling I was quite used to as I’ve always been the burden to those around me and this was no different. I’m never good enough. 

With all my doctors ignorant of what is causing my chronic pain, I went online and found an online support forums for various medical conditions and I joined a few chronic pain groups and started asking questions from other people who lived in chronic pain. I ended up talking with the sweetest older woman that talked with me and listened to what I was experiencing. She was the person who told me about fibromyalgia and it all fit. Except the people who get fibromyalgia diagnosis are 9 out of 10 women and will typically hit people over 40 and I was a 22 year old man so I was an outlier even with those who share my diagnosis, something that would cause issues with some doctor I saw. These stats are slowly changing as more men are starting to come forward about their chronic pain instead of bottling it up and hiding it. 

I printed out everything I can on fibromyalgia and highlighted several pages with all my symptoms. With my packet in hand I went to medial to show my doctor and to see if fibromyalgia was the possible source of all the pain I was in. I was now pretty desperate for some answers to my progressively worsening condition. My primary doctor however was unsure and maybe a little reluctant but agreed it was possible and referred me off base for the first time to see a rheumatologist, the doctor who can diagnose fibromyalgia. Once I was able to see the off base rheumatologist they looked at my medical history, labs, and imaging. Then he did a trigger point test on me and confirmed that I  had fibromyalgia, a permanent disability that has no real treatment or cure. At 22 I became permanently disabled and didn’t know how to cope with that. It felt like my life was over. 

With a new diagnosis and with no way to fix me the Navy put me on Limited Duty (Limdu) and started the process of medically separating me from the Navy. I was stripped of my remaining flight line qualification and licenses many had already been taken from me due to my opioids I was on. Since I was officially Limdu now, I was also no longer allowed to be in a deployable squadron, so I was temporarily reassigned to the base waste management building. Where supervisor constantly asked me if I really needed the cane, being injured makes you worthless and since I lost my flight line license anyway so I couldn’t stay there long and after a few weeks, I was reassigned again to work in the paraloft on base issuing survival gear and doing paperwork something, I knew how to do and could do with my limitations. 

At first I thought working in the paraloft managing paperwork from taking in old gear and issuing new gear out was going to be something manageable while I was waiting on my medical separation and at first it was. I wish I could say the hazing stopped when I switched commands since I was arriving disabled on Limdu orders I’d be treated differently. But hazing was still an issue as some of my fellow sailors seemed to have an issue with the fact I was young and needed a cane to walk. On more than one occasion my cane would be stolen, hidden and even put at the top of the paraloft at the top of the ladder. Being visibly disabled a mortal sin while active duty. After a few months the paraloft got a new supervisor and division chief and things changed. Since I was an Airman (E-3) the new supervisor wanted me to do various duties Airmen normally would but my limdu chit stated: no heavy lifting over 15lbs, no prolonged standing and I was assigned to the paraloft under Limdu orders so I was not filling the billet of a fit for full duty sailor. 

My new supervisor made it his mission however to find loopholes in my Limdu chit. He’d ask me to sweep even though I walk with a cane and sweeping one handed when I’m still trying to learn how to use my mobility aid was near impossible and he told me that I did the worst fucking job sweeping he has ever seen. After taking severak minutes of verbal licks for being the worst sailor on the planet, I had requested to go to medical, a request I was thankfully allowed to make. I’d go see a doctor on duty to update my Limdu chit. 

Now it would read: No heavy lifting over 15lbs, no prolonged standing, no sweeping. I had a copy made and submitted it to my division chief to update my file. Then the next time my supervisor requested I sweep, I’d present my Limdu chit and he’d look for a new loophole. It doesn’t say no mopping, it doesn’t say no heavy pushing, push this cart with hundreds of pounds on it across the building to a different department, and when he stopped being able to find physical things for me to do he started attacking my uniform; where does it say you can use a cane in uniform, are tens units allowed to be seen in uniform, and eventually you’ve gain a lot of weight and you uniforms are unbecoming a sailor and a Parachute Rigger. 

Because I had become such a shit bag sailor the division Chief is going to perform a Sea Bag inspection on me as part of an unofficial Chiefs Mass. Meaning the chief wants to see in all my uniforms to make sure they all fit properly and where to be inspection ready ironed with military creases. I was made to put on all my uniforms one after another in front of my supervisor and the Division Chief. None of my uniforms looked good to their standards as I was grossly overweight and it made my uniforms bulge in ways unbecoming a sailor and a parachute rigger. They determined I was not fit to even work side by side with my fellow Parachute Riggers as riggers have higher standards that other sailors, so I was to be put on permanent door watch until my medical separation and since my dress uniform did not fit at all I was required to purchase a new one to fill the duties of the watch. 

The Hatred for disabled sailors was seen across ranks and jobs. It was common for those in charge to have a disdain for those who couldn’t do anything asked of them under their command and those of similar rank tended to want to make fun of you for being disabled or complain the disabled didn’t pull their fair share. 

This was even seen amongst the officers. One of my friends who was in the division office got to hear from the Division Officer how all these Limdu pieces of shit had no place in his Navy and didn’t like that the medical had sent so many pieces of shit to his division. If he had his way they would just dump them off the back of a ship like the rest of the garbage. Referring to me and a couple others in his division who were Limdu and my friend wanted me to have a heads up that I didn’t have any allies in the officers against the treatment I got in my shop and in fact was probably encouraged. The only time it is okay to be injured in the military is when it is related to combat and I was not in a combat job.

During my frequent visits to medical to get my Limdu chit updated with various limitations as they came up. I saw lots of the various base doctors, not just mine. It depended on who the doctor on duty was. Many were indifferent to me quickly updating my chit, some treated me like garbage like I was wasting their time, and others were straight up abusive. By the time my Limdu chit had written on both sides of the various new limitations doctors had added, one doctor wanted to have a serious Frank conversation with me. He was an Army doctor who was working at our medical building. He asked me why I was on the page long list of pharmaceuticals and why my Limdu chit had so much on it. I told him about my fibromyalgia diagnosis and this upset him severely. He went off on me on how fibromyalgia is a woman’s Disease and there is no way I have it. If I kept insisting I have fibromyalgia he would amputate my dick since I wanted to be a weak ass women so badly who only complains about her pain all the time. I honestly believed he would amputate my penis if I ever saw him again he was that infatic about it. I left his office that day not able to get my Limdu chit update and I’d have to beg various Corpsmen in the future to switch who I saw when he came up in my doctor rotations. The way I was treated at Navy medical,  and later at the Veterans hospital afterward is responsible for the medical side of my PTSD and getting doctors to believe or recognize medical treatment or doctors can be responsible for trauma is almost impossible. I never feel safe around doctors or nurses who are trying to treat me to this day and I need a witness and support when I see doctors to this day. 

The process of a medical separation is not a quick one. I had some doctors appointments they wanted me to go to and some more tests. You’d think all these appointments and tests would be to make sure I got all the quality medical care I needed, but that wasn’t the case. Even with my diagnosis of fibromyalgia and all the previous tests, labs, and imaging I’d already been through would show that my pain, while hard to pin down the source, was a real injury, but the Navy wasn’t convinced and was more interested in proving I was somehow malingering and just faking my injury to get out of the Navy. Even though I didn’t want to report my injury in the first place and with how hard I worked to join. The last thing I had ever wanted was to end my career and be disabled the rest of my life. This had me completely lose trust and faith in the medical system compounding my medical induced side of my ptsd. They had no interest in helping me but more trying to tell me I wasn’t in the pain I felt.

I started seeing a shrink off base weekly. They performed various tests on me including the MMPI to assess my personality to see if I was capable of faking being injured. I saw shrinks more than I did medical doctors to treat my chronic pain. Even though my civilian shrink told them I wasn’t faking my pain, I was driven out of state by a duty driver to a Naval Medical Center to be assessed by a Navy shrink to see if I was malingering as a second opinion. After I was cleared by the Navy shrink they proceeded with my medical separation and several months later I got their decision. The Navy medical board said that I was going to be medically separated from the Navy at 10% disability rating. The reasoning was that I hadn’t had my fibromyalgia diagnosis long enough to determine its severity. I was given the option to appeal if I felt it was needed. This number determines the type of separation you get either medical seperation or medical retirement with 30% or more getting retired getting all retiree benefits like base privileges, commissary, and healthcare for your family and the VA determines how much you get paid with their rating. 

I got my primary doctor to write a letter to the medical board who determined my rating telling them about the various treatments we had tried as that was one of the med boards concerns as I hadn’t tried various treatments since getting my diagnosis. Even though all those treatments were tried before my official diagnosis. Several more months after my appeal the board came back with the same decision 10%. I had two options: take the 10% or do an official appeal, but that would involve getting stationed on med hold in Maryland with a long wait that could potentially bring me past the end of my contract. The Navy and my fellow sailors made my life hell. I couldn’t take it anymore. I took the lower separation rating. The VA’s initial rating for me was 50% and over the years it had been increased to 90% currently. So it was likely the stigma of a fibromyalgia diagnosis in men was at least partially responsible for my initial low rating from the Navy Med Board.

I took the second 10% rating from the Navy Med Board as I didn’t want to keep fighting. It wasn’t worth it, I wasn’t worth it. I wanted the hazing and abuse to stop and I couldn’t deal with another year or more of this on a Med hold waiting for an official hearing for them to likely tell me the same thing they did the first two times. I was tired of being treated like I was subhuman as that’s what you are when you are disabled in the Navy. I just wanted out at this point. I was just hoping the VA would treat me better and while they did give me higher disability rating the treatment of veterans at the VA hospitals is partially responsible for the high suicide rate of veterans and why some vets decide to do it in the VA parking lots. The treatment by the doctors at the VA only compounded my trauma around medical doctors.

Your life dramatically changes against your will when you find yourself disabled. Suddenly to many of those around you are a worthless burden that should be hidden and will be treated as such unfortunately. If you are lucky you will find a few that stick with you and for me I am so grateful for my wife who has been through it all with me and still fights by my side. 

A life on Borrowed Time

I am going to turn forty in May 2023. I never expected that I would reach forty; it’s kinda unfathomable to me especially since I never actually expected to make it to adulthood. If I was lucky I’d make it to eighteen. That was only if I was lucky.

(Tigger Warning: Child Abuse, Suicidal idealization)

I am the unwanted bastard child of a teenage high school drop out and my mother made sure I was aware of how much of an unwanted burden I was to her, often telling me she wished she never had me or that if she had known about me before her water broke she would have aborted me and reminded me of that fact often. I just simply should have never existed and that does a number on your self image. My mother was constantly emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive. I was blamed and severely punished for every problem she ever faced and for ruining her life. Everything that went wrong was always my fault in some way and she made sure I knew it and I still struggle not to blame myself for everything. It’s instinct now to just blame myself. Perfection was always expected and making a mistake in something I was attempting was grounds for punishment as it would make my mother look bad. Even though dragging me behind a baseball dugout to beat my ass with a mit for missing a ball between my legs didn’t make her look like a bad parent she wanted me to impress the coach she was trying to hook up with.

She was often complimented on how obedient and well behaved I was as I was scared for my life to be anything but the perfect child and people were always willing to look the other way when she dealt out her punishments in public. I even once told a police officer that came to our school how my mother punished me but they told me they won’t stop a parent from disciplining their child so even the police can’t protect me from my mother, what was I supposed to do now?

For me life was bad enough as a kid that I was first suicidal before I was even a tween debating throwing myself off a local bridge into the rapids of a raging river, but I actually thought that it would be my mother that would end my life. She often threatened me with bodily harm or that she could take my life at any time to make sure I obeyed her every command and followed up her threats with beatings and I thought one day her anger would take over her and she’d follow through with her death threats. I had often wished she would too. 

When I got a little older into my teens punishments involved denying me food and shelter that would start out as denying me a meal or a night in bed then it would last days, or weeks of being homeless. During various homelessness times, I’d dumpster dive at my work at MD’s when I was sixteen for food as we threw out a lot but employees were not allowed to have it, so I had to wait until it was in the dumpster and the manager had left for the night. I expected I’d probably get sick from something I ate from the dumpster. Eventually in the summer before senior year of high school I kicked out for good when she told me I was no longer welcome in her home because I went to work shift and she couldn’t go out last minute because she wanted me to watch my brother. At this point I was figuring I’d probably die as a homeless teen, but after being homeless for a few months a friend’s mom took me in and gave me a bed in the garage to sleep on so I could attend and graduate high school.

Defying all the odds I survived and I graduated high school, but just barely after having to make up missing credits. I became the first person in my whole extended family to graduate high school in generations. My mother prevented me from attending college by withholding her information, so I could not apply to college because it would be a waste of money and I was just  too stupid to attend according to her and she wasn’t going to waste her time and energy helping me do something I was too stupid to do because I barely graduated high school and I thought I could attend college? That in its self was proof of how stupid I really was to her.

I was able to give myself a new life. I took control of my life to live for myself. I spent about a year training my body and losing almost 200 lbs to join the Navy living at the gym when not working, extreme diets, laxatives and last minute severe dehydration got me under the Navy’s weight requirements to join. Now, I could go to college without parental information if I was in the military and they would pay for it. Although I’d probably die in war in my attempt to get an education as this was only a couple years after 9/11 but I had already lived longer than I expected so it was an acceptable risk I guess and it was a way to get me far away. 

In the Navy, I had become the happiest I could ever imagine. I was living my own life. Found the love of my life and life was good. Anything was possible including living. My wife was the first person to save my life and she never knew it. Being able to repress my past without thinking about it or talking about it much, so I could live in the present. Not feeling that constant looming presence of death over me for the first time in my life. My wife, the love of my life, was my light of hope. I was able to  feel what love feels like for the first time in my life making me the happiest person I could ever imagine. 

It was not long after I married my wife that I got injured falling out of a Navy aircraft and became permanently disabled eventually getting medically separated from the Navy. Chronic pain is great at destroying your happiness. Pain is all you can think about and it dominates your life as the pain gets worse and there is no relief in sight. Your mind eventually shifts to the only other way to end the pain. As the years passed the more I thought about it. After a few years of chronic pain and doctors that couldn’t or wouldn’t help and those that didn’t believe I was in pain, I didn’t believe I would make it to 30 as a disabled person the pain from fibromyalgia is unimaginable. For another time in my life, I didn’t think I’d last the next decade of my life. 

It was around 30 that I spiraled into the darkest pits of my mind. Pain, suffering and suicide were all my thoughts could contain. Even though I was drugged out of my mind on opiods and mental health drugs I was still in agony. We begged the VA to commit me when I was at my darkest point and I told my wife I was suicidal, but the VA  didn’t care if I lived or died making it feel they’d rather me be dead than treat me. This is why veterans kill themselves in the VA parking lots. The VA would rather we die. My wife got scared and had friends babysit me while she was at work. Meanwhile, I started to plan my death. As a lucid dreamer I attempted suicide in my dreams first and when I still woke up I started using my dreams to practice suicidal methods in my sleep until I stopped being capable of lucid dream after solely using it for my death. I have killed myself more times than I can count and most of them in the most painful and agonizing ways. I practiced committing suicide for more than a year and since each attempt never left a scar no one was the wiser. I ended up planning on cutting my wrist to my elbow and letting myself bleed out. I just had to figure out how to prevent my wife from being the one to find my body while also not letting my body be missing for too long, leaving an unknown status. I didn’t want her to find me in a pool of my own blood, I just couldn’t do that to her. I love her too much, but the pain can be louder than love unfortunately and I was headed fast down a path of no return.

There is one thing that was able to take the razor blade out of my hand and out of my plans. A plant I thought would kill me from the information I learned in school from the DARE program. There was one day, I was in utter agony having body in painful body spasms that I told my wife to call our stoner friend to let me try some weed. It would either help me or it killed me then at least the pain would stop. This was the day Cannabis saved my life. I now have a tattoo of the THC molecule with the words “saved my life”on my wrist in honor of the plant that saved my life and continues to do so. Life in less pain was possible. With cannabis I was able to get off all my pharmaceuticals including dealing with the agony of the addictive withdrawal symptoms from my pharmaceutical medication dependence. Even when taken as prescribed you will face withdrawal symptoms with opiods and it is hell but cannabis got me through the worst of it without letting my mind get dark. I can see how medical opioid addiction can lead to heroin just to get the hell of withdrawals to stop, but thankfully cannabis helps fight those withdrawal symptoms too. After I was using cannabis for a while, I was able to retrain my body to walk without the need of a cane by putting in work I couldn’t do before due to pain and start to live my life again. I became Cannabis’s biggest advocate after I freed myself from my cane and I’ve been working on cannabis normalization. Cannabis is not a gateway drug, it is an exit drug. An exit from pain cycles, and exit from addiction to opioids. Stigmatizing cannabis is deadly. Cannabis needs to be normalized to save more lives. If cannabis had been normalized and not something expected to hide in shame I might have tried it sooner and not gone down a dark painful path of self destruction. I’m still in pain every day from my fibromyalgia and sometimes it gets really bad, but with my plant based medicine I am able to manage my pain to keep my head clear from the pain brain. With cannabis I can function and participate in life.

I’m now a 39 year old stay at home dad and my daughter is coming up on her first birthday and I think about her growing up and becoming an adult. The thing I never thought I’d become myself. Becoming a father and deepening my spiritual path have both brought up a lot of self reflection of my own life and what I had expected, experienced and need to heal in my life. A lot of my repressed trauma is resurfacing demanding to be addressed and has this been a bulk of my work with entheogenic mushrooms. In the dawn of each decade of my life and never expected to see the next decade to the end. I’ve already lived more than twice my expected life time and with all the times it felt like death had been hovering over me it can sometimes feel like I’m on borrowed time. Just waiting ”Final Destination” style for the next thing that will try to take me out as it feels like I’ve cheated death over and over, somehow trying to find ways to keep avoiding the reaper as I’m happy to be alive now even though going through this shadow work now is incredibly difficult.

The thought of my upcoming 40th birthday is so surreal; so much more so than all my other unexpected birthdays of my life. Maybe because I desperately want to give my daughter what I didn’t have as part of the breaking of these generational trauma cycles. Maybe because I’ve healed enough to see what I couldn’t before. Even though I still have much more healing to do.

Looking forward and healing generational trauma, I know I want my daughter to know her father as I didn’t know mine growing up and didn’t meet him until I was 25. (My mother hid his identity from me and she hid my existence from him, so he didn’t even know about me.)

I want my daughter to have loving parents as this is not something I ever knew. I want her to grow up not knowing the feelings of abuse, hunger, despair and hopelessness. I want her to feel safe and supported in whatever she does or wants to be. To give her a happy childhood. But to do all this, also means looking to the future more so than I ever have before and it is strange to me but this is part of integration work from all this shadow work I’m doing.

Healing thoughts, 

Marc 

Druid of the Hillside Grove /|\

New Category: Shadow Work

I am going to be adding a new category to my blog that I am going to call shadow work. This is going to be a place where I collect my thoughts on some of the shadow work I’m currently working on including addressing things like: childhood trauma, history of suicidal idealization, disability, ablism, military service, medical mistreatment and medical gaslighting. Disassembling them through the act of writing about theses many sources of my C-PTSD that can still have an negative impact on me so that way I can integrate healing from those things that traumatized me. Eventually this category will be something I will likely add into my memoirs as well.

Why would I want to share this? 

Healing happens in the light not hidden in the shadows. This is why I’ve told my story around cannabis medicine and my entheogenic healing practice. Telling my story brings things that I have been through into the light so I can recognize them and work on healing from them. Also telling my story before has helped others tell theirs. Sometimes hearing what other people have gone through can give you strength. I know I could have used some strength when I was suffering.

With that said this category can also be a trigger for some. So be cautious reading this category if you are triggered by traumatic things people have gone through. 

With healthing thoughts,

Marc

Druid of the Hillside Grove /|\

Wim Hof Method

Have you ever thought about running around the woods half naked in the dead of winter. How about doing a shirtless meditation in the middle of a blizzard? Or maybe jumping into freezing cold icy waters…

Sounds kinda crazy, I know. It looks kinda crazy from the outside as well. I get it. With my fibromyalgia I have always been very cold sensitive. Me and winter never got along as it would always trigger more pain from my fibromyalgia. So I’d hide inside where it was warm next to the fire until winter was over.

I started seeing various people I knew doing some extreme cold exposure stunts. Seeing a friend climb the mountains of Colorado in the middle of winter in shorts and sports bra or dunking herself in ice water. I also saw a few documentaries on the guy who pioneered this breath-work and cold exposure. His name is Wim Hof and his is commonly known as the Ice Man for his public feats of cold exposure from his Guinness Book of world records show or Stan Lee’s Superhuman show. What astonished me was that Wim Hof was also passionate that this can be taught to anyone and he regularly does just that.

I started to get more curious about this breath-work method when I found out that his method was also studied at Radboud University found that “Wim was able to voluntarily influence his autonomic nervous system” and they also repeats the study with people Wim Hof trained in his breathing method all who. Showed a control over their autonomic nervous system. They did this by injecting Wim Hof and 12 of his students with endotoxins and monitored their immune responses. Along with hearing the more anecdotal evidence from people who had done the breath work themselves.

To me it was clear that the breath work unlocked some of your inner magic that allowed you to gain a deeper control over your own body and it’s responses to the environment around you.

I timidly decided to at least try it out and explore the potential benefits of the Wim Hof method. He has a guided breathing video on YouTube I used to do my breathing. After I went on a walk in the woods without a coat on in the middle of a Maine winter. I found that by the time I had reached by turn around point I still wasn’t cold so I took my shirt off and hiked home.

I started using the Wim Hof method pretty frequently after that for half naked winter hikes and as preparation for my mediations. I was able to go outside in only my kilt to sit outside and connect to the spirit of land and the winter season in a deeper way than I thought was possible with my fibromyalgia. Feeling the energy of a blizzard whipping around me is a great way to engage in that energy to help facilitate a deep trance state of mind and I now get a little eager at the idea of a big winter storm coming through the state.

There is magic in every breath.

Marc /|\

If you like my content and want to support what I’m doing consider donating to my Venmo @hillsidegrove

Sources:

Guided breath work with Wim Hof https://youtu.be/tybOi4hjZFQ

List of various scientific studies Wim Hof has been studied in with links to the universities papers. Although most of those are in Dutch so I depend on the English translations on Wim Hof’s website and other documentaries on him. https://www.wimhofmethod.com/science

Vice documtary on Wim Hof “The Superhuman world of Wim Hof” https://youtu.be/VaMjhwFE1Zw

420: The Origin story

420-meaning-elite-dailyToday is April twenty or 4/20 and I am sure you hearing the term 420 all over. Most people knows that means something to do with cannabis. And maybe something to do with time or a date to smoke cannabis. Or that on April 4th is the day of the year for cannabis smokers to celebrate their love of cannabis.  But the question is why is 420 so important to people who use cannabis? There are many different things people say are the reasons why there is a connect between 420 and cannabis. Some things I have heard over the years include but are not limited to things like: That is how many chemicals are in the plant (there is over 400 different chemicals in cannabis but not 420 exactly), 420 started out as the police code for cannabis smoking in progress (Wrong!), or that it is because it was Hilter’s birthday (never saw this connection to cannabis but it is something anti-cannabis people use). None of these reasons or many of the other reason people come up with are not the true Origin story of how 420 became connected to cannabis.

So then what is the Origin Story of 420? Well it is not what you might expect or maybe you know it already. The term 420 has a small humble start in the early 1971. It starts with a group of teenagers that go to Rafael High School; the group of teens called them selves the waldos because they would hang out around the wall at school. The Waldos did not come up with the term intending it to become the symbol of all cannabis users world wide

What happened was on fall day in 1971 one of the Waldos gets their hands on a hand drawn map that leads to treasure. The treasure of the green kind. It was a map to a field of cannabis. As all the Waldos were athletes so they decided to meet up at the statue of Louis Pasteur that was at the front of the school at 4:20, so they could go follow their treasure map and pluck off some free buds. All day they would remind each other when they would see each other in the halls with 4:20-Louis or just 4:20. They do meet up at 4:20 and search for this hidden patch of cannabis growing somewhere in the California forests and they did this week after week. Always meeting at 420-Louis. Unfortunately they never did find the field of cannabis. But they ended up coining the phrase 420.

The term go passed around from the Waldos to their friends and the friends of friends and so on. Until it reached the Grateful Dead and they grabbed onto the term 420 and fliers would be passed around the before the concerts that said “we are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais.” This flier got into the hands of a High Times reporter Bloom. The reported grabbed this flier and in 1991 issue of High Times reported his findings on 420, exposing the term 420 to the broader cannabis culture. The flier even came with a back story of how the term 420 can about. Not the story of the Waldos but one about how it was the police code for smoking cannabis…This was an incorrect back-story as California never had a police code of 420 in the 70’s. The Waldos have been able to prove their story with old letters, notes and even an old flag all with 420 referencing 420.

Now that the true story of where the term 420 came from and remember to:

“Spread Cannabis Knowledge!”
Marc /|\

Article originally published on 04/20/2016 on my FibroMan blog/

If you like my content and want to support what I’m doing consider donating to my Venmo @hillsidegrove

Our Homemade Baby Food Journey

When it came time for my daughter to start trying to eat real foods. I knew I wanted to make my own baby food. Part of my personal spiritual path is to increase my own self sufficiency and making your own baby food is an easy way to add a notch of becoming a little more self sufficient and it also lowers the amount of trash generated which is also important to me.

Making your own baby food is actually super simple and extremely fulfilling. You know exactly what your giving to your child and there is magic that happens when you make food for someone else. A little bit of love gets infused into every bite.

Baked apple sprinkled with cinnamon

A lot of foods might need to be baked, boiled, steamed or roasted to soften them up and make it easier to purée them with your breastmilk or formula using a NutriBullet or blender. At first you will want a more watery in consistency as your baby gets use to trying new foods and slowly start making them thicker as baby gets used to them. A good starting ratio I found was 1 cup food to 1/4 cup breastmilk/formula, but that can change based off food type.

Originally, I was thinking I wanted to can the baby food I made that way I could have a shelf stable easy to use baby food always on hand. After purchasing a bunch of small jars I started reading more about caning baby food specifically as I’m still pretty new to canning. It turns out that there is a risk of a certain bacteria to grow if not done properly that is dangerous to a young baby’s and freezing the food was recommended more. So that is what we are doing.

Frozen Prepped baby food

There are lots of foods your baby can enjoy.Make sure to balance the foods with fruits that aid in digestion such as peaches, plums, pears and apples with those foods that could cause constipation. Remember honey is dangerous to infants under a year. I haven’t found it necessary to add any additional sweeteners to any of my daughters food. She is loving exploring all the new flavors and textures of different foods as she eagerly put her spoon in her mouth.

If you like my content and want to support what I’m doing consider donating to my Venmo @hillsidegrove

Blessings from the Hillside Grove.

Marc /|\

My Experience with Kambo

First, I’m sure not everyone knows what kambo is, The Psychedelic Times gave a really concise explanation that I’ll use, “Kambo is a substance that comes from frog secretion [Phyllomedusa bicolorand or Giant Monkey Tree Frog], for many indigenous cultures in the Amazon, this purgative, immunity-boosting medicine is very important. Known in Portuguese as the “vaccine of the forest,” it has also gained renown outside of the Amazon as a powerful treatment for chronic pain and drug dependence.” (Psychedelic Times) This medicine is harvested off the frogs and they are set free afterwards.

I arrived at the ceremony and the guide for the ritual gave us some more information about Kambo that I hadn’t known. It is important not to eat at least 6 hours before reviving the Kambo. It makes for a cleaner and easier purge. Luckily it had been 7, but typically it is preferred to wait 8. I knew there was going to be purging but that had not crossed my mind about the purge. I knew Kambo wasn’t one of the “fun” medicines.

The space, tools and people were all cleansed with a smudge of San Palo. Then gave those who were participating in the ritual 2 mason jars full of water. We were told we had to drink both jars in about 5 minutes. All the negative energy, toxins, and other bad shit your carrying around bonds with the water and then you purge it out.

Once you have finished you water or almost done it is time to have the gates or portals put into your skin. This is done by heating what looks similar to a thick incense stick to a coal at the end and then making a small burn in the skin to open up the first few layers of skin. As this was my first time I got 5 gates burned into my skin.

The Kambo was placed on only 1 gate at first to see how I would react to it. I was told while pretty rare, some people pass out on their first time. After about 30 second the rest of the portals where covered in Kambo.

The effects of Kambo are almost immediately felt. I felt a rush of energy rise up in my body. Until it reach my head and crown chakra. I could feel the energy pulsating and I felt an immense feeling of Zen. Afterwards I was told the Zen feeling with this medicine usually is something people don’t feel on their first time.

The moment of Zen passed and I started to feel the queasiness and the urge to purge. Although, I was having issues getting it up. I was dry heaving. And only purged a small amount of the water in my gut with a small amount of bile. Sweat pouring down my face, snot oozing out my nose and some purging but not much. After 20 mins the Kambo was removed.

After the medicine is removed you are suppose to start feeling better pretty quickly. I, however, was still super queasy. I laid down on the mat and I was told that not everyone fully purges some people hold on to it and end up purging out the other end later that day. Not the end I was hoping purge from to be honest.

I laid there recovering from the experience. 10-15 minutes later I had a delayed purged and it was huge. Thick yellow bile had infused all the negative shit I was carry around and I had released it. I told that was one of the longest delayed purges they had seen. Then 10 minutes later I purged a bunch more water out with a little more bile. And corrected themselves saying, no that’s the most delayed purge they’d seen.

Now that I had actually purged. I was starting to feel a lot better. Besides feeling really really cold. This had been an intense experience and needed to sit with it to process it. 

The next day. My face still felt slightly puffy from the swelling that happens in the face from the medicine, but overall I was feeling really good. I felt uplifted, lighter and a deep sense of inner peace. But the thing that really knocked my socks off was how little pain I was in from my Fibromyalgia. In the whole day I smoked 3 joints and had 1 dab. That’s little amount would normally only last me a few hours at best. Today same thing. I am smoking much less cannabis to control my pain. It’s kinda mind blowing.

Now it only been two days since I had Kambo, but this medicine has some powerful things to show us and I am still fully processing this long conversation I had with this Amazonian tree frog, but the wisdom of the frog is already showing fruits.

Mush Love 🍄💚,

Marc

Sources:

Psychedelic Times Kambo Article

https://psychedelictimes.com/kambo/