Veronica's Garden

I originally started this blog to promote my novel, Post Rock Limestone Caryatids. Now I write essays and poetry about everything, including the Flint Hills, healing, parenting, etc. WARNING: emotional content, sometimes intense. Read at own risk of feeling.

Sympathetic Resonance

When I was learning to play violin, I remember my teacher Anita Wright pointing out to me how some notes have a special “ring” to them. The acoustics of this phenomenon are pretty cool (though we didn’t talk about them when I was six). Start with a bow drawn across a string, which sets up a vibration. As the vibration of the string is translated through the bridge into the hollow body of the instrument, the vibration is amplified, and the entire body vibrates. The other strings in turn pick up these vibrations, especially if the note you are playing is an octave of an open string. This phenomenon is known as sympathetic resonance. If you really get it going, you can actually both see and hear the other string vibrating. Certain notes on the violin create this ringing effect. It feels like not just the string is vibrating, not just the whole instrument, but the air around it, the room, the body of the player.

There are more complexities, like overtones and undertones, that make other notes ring as well, though not as brightly. Some notes never ring, because there isn’t another string that will pick up their resonance. These notes have their own beauty, though in kind of an understated way. F and B, for example, don’t ring. Wind players love these keys, probably because of some acoustic phenomena deriving from the design of their own instruments, but they aren’t the best for strings. String players like to play in A, D, maybe G. Maybe this is why it sometimes feels as if wind players just don’t really appreciate strings. They don’t hear us at our best.

If you haven’t played or been in proximity to string instruments, a good comparison between the notes that ring and the ones that don’t might be the difference between singing alone versus singing in a large group of people.

If I’m in a conversation with you about new age or healing or some other esoterica, I might say of an idea, “That resonates with me.” I would like you to know that if I say that, I am using a metaphor that has a very specific and real meaning to me. It’s kind of a higher state of consciousness, of being, when it feels like my body and spirit are picking up and joining in a vibration, singing along with yours, the air and everything around us all vibrating together.

These days everybody is wearing masks and distancing and everyone hates everyone else, but let’s see if we can find those frequencies that are so resonant that we can’t help but pick up the vibrations and get our whole world ringing together, wherever we are, wherever we come from.

Hard to get a good shot, but I think in this picture you can see that the G string, the highest on the screen, is vibrating. The bow was only actually touching the D string, the next one down from the top. The other two strings are relatively still.
Photo by Kiran Ireland

Always Late

I was talking in a video about freeing and moving emotions, and how sometimes the sign that I need this is a vague but undeniable anxiety, as if something very bad is about to happen, or perhaps like some time when I was little and maybe did something I knew I would get in trouble for, but it hadn’t been discovered yet. For a long time anxiety was a frequent visitor, coming and going at will, not intense enough to send me to a doctor for a prescription, just nagging and sucking idly at my confidence.

As I was thinking about that anxiety, I noticed that I used to feel it regularly just as I was about to go somewhere. Or, maybe it was there all along, but something made me notice it when I was about to move out, kind of like the way I have a tendency to get in the car and notice that my hands are dry, so I put on lotion right before I drive. My hands aren’t any worse than they were in the house, but that’s when I notice.

In any case, my typical response to the anxiety would be to start going over my checklist. What am I forgetting? Phone, check. Keys, check. Water bottle, check. These days, mask, check. Hand sanitizer, check. Was I supposed to do something? Do I need directions? Maybe if I just pause and breathe and clear my head for a few minutes, it will come to me. No? Okay, one more minute. . .

The thing is, this doesn’t work, because the source of the anxiety doesn’t actually have anything to do with forgetting something in the moment. It’s really a sign of an orphan emotion trying to surface, and there’s no help but to address the emotion. Going over the checklist only makes me late.

And that’s when it occurred to me, that person you know who is always late? Maybe you think she is self-centered, or undisciplined, or lazy. But it may in fact be that she is none of those, she’s just struggling to manage some emotional weight. And maybe she isn’t doing it very well; or maybe, if you knew what she was dealing with, you’d be impressed that she holds it together at all.

Luckily, I eventually found an exercise for getting those emotions to move, and it only takes a few minutes, so if I feel the anxiety at the door, I can do the technique and be on my way.

If you want to learn it, here’s the link.

willow in k room

Photo by Kiran Ireland

The Body Whole

The ongoing saga of my cracked tooth. This installment in video format on youtube.
Here are the words to the song, in case you want to see them:

In the temple of the body bright
We can see that we are made of light
You can see it with your third eyesight
In the temple of the body bright

In the temple of the body sound
We can hear the music all around
In the river and the wind and the ground
In the temple of the body sound

In the temple of the body I
Individuality is why
We come together and we say goodbye
In the temple of the body I

In the temple of the body whole
We remember we are one with all
Filled with Divine love coming through the soul
In the temple of the body whole

And we come to worship in this place
In a body with a heart and a face
We discover that we are always
In the temple of the body grace

In the temple of the body grace (x4)



If you want to know what this song has to do with my tooth, you have to watch the video. And as usual, the cat doesn’t have anything to do with anything in this post, just a random cat pic.

WIillow with window

Carrying Stuff, Letting Go

woman biting gray nails in her mouth

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on

The past-life regression class I took lasted about a week, and it was held in a hotel in Roanoke. During the week, I encountered a raging toothache. I’d never had dental problems before, and I hadn’t had insurance since I got kicked off my parents’ plan after I graduated college. The last thing I wanted to do was take time out of the class I was so excited about to get dental work I knew I couldn’t afford to pay for, in an unfamiliar town.

The pain was impossible to ignore, so in one of the regressions, I chose to look for a past-life link to the part of my body that was bothering me. Here’s the story I saw: a girl in her teens was taught by her mother to do all the housework, while her brother was free to do as he liked. It was unfair and she was deeply resentful. I saw her scrubbing the bathtub (my least favorite task!), and she kept a running commentary going in her mind about the injustice not only to herself, but to all women who are required to serve men. But she didn’t speak aloud; she kept her bitter complaints inside.

Later, she was a performer, such as a stripper, who made her living by taking advantage of men’s desire. Her platinum coif and heavy makeup created an image of a woman by which she turned their masculine energy into a weakness to use to her purposes. She did not have satisfying relationships with men, nor did she expect to.

Late at night, she would leave the theater through a back door that exited to an alley that stank of refuse. One night as she exited the theater, a man was waiting for her. I don’t know why he was angry with her, or what they argued about, but they had an altercation in which the man punched her with his fist. He hit her jaw—right where I was feeling the pain—and punched out several of her teeth. The last I experienced of this life was falling to the ground, sharp teeth spraying out of my mouth, blood splattering on my white feather boa.

What was the lesson of this life that I could apply to the present? I took it as a warning not to hold bitter words; not to carry resentment, not to allow it to poison my relationships.

There was an energy healer at the class who graciously gave me a session of some modality of healing I’d never heard of, and miraculously, the pain disappeared. It didn’t come back for years.

At one point I was in better control of my finances, and I got a full dental exam. The dentist could see a faint shadow at that location in my right lower jaw, but as it wasn’t bothering me, she didn’t think I needed to do anything about it.

Later yet, I had young daughters and was practicing massage therapy when I started to feel a little achiness in my jaw sometimes when I bit down. I noted that the problem was coming back, but it didn’t get very bad, and I lived with it for a while, until I got a tick bite and took a course of antibiotics. I was pleased that the medicine cleared out the pain in my jaw as well, and that was that.

Now it’s been over twenty years since that first time I had this pain, and it’s come back. I suppose it’s all these retrogrades and eclipses we’ve got going on this summer. The pain is worse than ever, since that first time. And this time around, I think of how I’ve been circling around this issue for a major portion of my life. And what other effects might it have had on my health? Did I ever really think I had resolved the problem? Maybe I’m ready to finally kick it like a bad habit.

One of the lessons I’ve learned over the years is that mainstream healing modalities really can be used in conjunction with metaphysical healing, as long as you don’t use one as a substitute for the other. So I’ll call a dentist on Monday, and until then I’ll be applying all my tools, clove oil and EFT, internal dialogue and energy field therapy, looking for ways that I can let go of bitter words and thoughts that hold me back.



Ritual and Bureaucracy In Interesting Times

The last day of work, everyone was on edge. We were expecting to be shut down, but no one knew when. It was late March, and some were worried that they wouldn’t have rent for April. Conversation drifted to filing for unemployment benefits. I couldn’t face the thought. I’m sure everyone hates slogging through a bureaucratic morass, but it’s a particularly weak point for me. I had been self-employed for most of the previous fifteen years, and moved to another state, so I probably wouldn’t even get anything, so going through the process would be a waste of time, which I could use for other pursuits, which could even potentially bring some income . . . But realistically, poetry and homemade masks probably wouldn’t make me much money, so I would have to try.

Over the next weeks we would share a group thread about our efforts to get assistance. Some got it quickly, but massage therapists often work multiple part-time jobs, some as contractors. This income isn’t normally even considered in unemployment claims, but the state was learning a new set of rules for allocating federal money as well as the usual unemployment funds, while record-breaking numbers of people were filing all at once. I was one of them.

I was rejected right away, and appealed promptly. Then I had to wait three weeks for the appeal to be processed. The day came and went, so I started trying to call the unemployment office. I figured, maybe if I called right when the office opened at 7:00 AM, I could get in the queue to wait on hold. After 7:15, I’d get a busy tone, and after 7:25 the circuits were overloaded and there would be nothing at all. I’d go back to bed and start again the next morning. Once I got an answer, and the automated system asked for a PIN. PIN? What PIN? I still don’t know if I ever had one, but the system hung up on me before I could think of a response. I had to call another number to reset it, and that number was overloaded.

Another time I got through, and someone answered the phone, but something weird happened with my phone, and he couldn’t hear me and hung up. (No, I did not have my phone on mute!)

Sometimes a co-worker would text a number. “I got through on this number! Call it right now!” One by one, they got approved. I was close to giving up. How many poems might I have written in the time I had spent pressing redial a hundred times, day after day?

Someone suggested I try some ritual involving trapping an angel in a teacup. It sounded weirdly mean to me, so I decided to make my own ritual. It was inspired by an interview I read in The Sun with Malidoma Some. He spoke of giving gifts to the dead. The gifts to give are water and ash. The reason to give these to the dead is that they in turn use them to assist the living. Water makes things flow. Ash, what’s left after fire, gives resilience and ability to survive adversity.

About 6:40 this morning, I put some water in a teacup and since I hadn’t prepared any ash, I just grabbed the incense burner and took it outside. I named a few of my dead, and offered them my gifts, asking them to help me. These people loved me, after all. Well, some of them never knew me, but I know if my daughters had children, I would love them dearly, it wouldn’t matter if I’d ever met them. I dumped the incense burner and the teacup on the ground. Then I looked up and right in front of my face was a vivid rainbow. It wasn’t raining, I couldn’t see the sun, and it didn’t even seem like the right place for a rainbow that time of day, but there it was. I watched for a minute until it faded, then I went inside and started calling.

I got in on the first try. I waited on hold for under an hour before I talked to a very nice and knowledgeable person who explained that the complications of my case would have precluded my approval without a call, but now that we had talked, I would be approved in a few days and could expect a deposit shortly after that. It was good that I’d called.

“But it’s impossible to reach you . . .”

“Yes, we’re getting a lot of calls—”

“We’re in interesting times, ” I said.

She laughed. “That’s a good way to say it, interesting.”

So if things are inordinately difficult for your right now, consider practicing a little ritual. It might be more powerful than you realize.

bracelets and nail polish

When massage is forbidden, I wear bracelets and nail polish.





I just got a rejection letter from this fine magazine in which the editors said they “admire my bravery with the subject matter” of this poem. I’m taking that as a compliment, but face it, no one’s going to want to publish this, while my friend Laura wants to read it, so here it is.

Little-known fact: a little bit of bladder leakage is common in women after childbirth. You likely know someone with this problem, but you don’t know because she doesn’t talk about it. There is help for this. So ask and don’t stop until you get it.

Pelvic Floor Therapy

I’m working hard to get control
over my watery issues, the therapist
coaching me in lifting, lifting, until
the device gives me a score. I can
barely feel. Everything I think is right
isn’t. I’m learning to sneeze, to squat,
to let go and let flow, and to hold
when it’s time to hold. Lifting, she says.
I’m learning to stand and sit and stand and sit.
And it’s the rain that gets me at last.
It’s jumping over the wide flooded
sidewalk. I fail to hold. It’s shoveling
last year’s soaking dead leaves from the
drainage channel. Let the water flow!
And the snails hidden deep in the leaves,
drowning in the flood that rose up too fast.
Clinging to any flimsy blade of grass adrift
in the water. There is so much water
everywhere, oh the rain. The sky
has let go. Come little snails
onto my shovel, I will land you safely
on the wet grass. Squatting and lifting
a shovel of water, it’s too much,
I lose control. I am wet.

snail on green plant

Photo by Kenneth on

NaPo Day 28, 6 of Keys, Increscent Moon

See the NaPo/GloPo page for more info on the challenge.
The prompt is a card from the Akashic Tarot.

6 of Keys, Increscent Moon

It’s alchemical, isn’t it,
to chisel life from stone,
to bring light from heat and fuel.
One must master the tools
and the elements, must
work and study in diligence
at the right time and ride the cycles
of water and moon, of the comings
and goings. Feel the power growing
as She waxes. It is yours now.
Through the breaking away is revealed
the masterpiece.

wildy on Kevin's dresser

NaPo Day 22, King of Roses

King of Roses, reversed

The King of Roses brings (naturally)
roses, and he carries no weapon
but wears mail because he is, after all,
a man of power and authority.
Healer, lover, warrior, in this
lush garden fecund with blooms
and verging on wild, where ivy climbs
the elegant arches and his chair
sits empty behind him, standing
because he will leave, when so called.

NaPo Day 21 Archangel Michael

Link for more about National Poetry Writing Month.
The prompt is Major Arcana Card 9 of the Akashic Tarot deck. I don’t know if this card resembles in any way common ideas about Michael. For what that’s worth. Also, there’s a lot more to be said about this card, this felt like a good stopping place, and I want to go to bed.

9, Archangel Michael, reversed

Michael of the forest, protector of children,
whose fierce passion will surprise you
if all you know of him is his kind, unlined face
and those luscious locks . . .

wide etheric wings to wrap around you
and hold you safe until you’re big enough
to survive on your own.

Heart like flames rising up
because love is hot.

Oh Michael, do not let the child in me fall.
Catch me. Hold me. Carry me safely home.

NaPo Day 20, 7 of Roses, The Journey

I won’t reach my goal of writing a poem every day this month, but here’s more about NaPo/GloPoWriMo. I’m using the Akashic Tarot for prompts.

7 of Roses, The Journey

It is time to leave the known
and civilized city, the massive
structures with polished stone columns,
and the gentle waters of a safe harbor.
Sailing into the sunset means
something has been completed
but it’s equally a new beginning.
It’s okay if you don’t know
where you’re going. No one
ever does, really. Try not to think
about all the years of your life spent
a thousand miles from any ocean, think
about the power of wind and current.
Instead of thinking about how you could
walk a thousand miles through prairie,
desert, and mountains if you had good boots,
a knife, and a sleeping bag, rather
feel yourself being cradled in a stout vessel
by the loving ocean. It is the nature
of the body to float in water.
Embrace the journey.
Others will take care of the baggage,
and only time will tell
if you have brought too much.

selfie with wildy

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