Friday, December 25, 2015


It's dinnertime, and as I pull my car into my unpaved country driveway, Gaia is waiting for me, nine pounds of sienna fur and intelligent eyes that see into my soul. I sing to her, we play; her purring brings me joy. But when I first moved here, this cat and her gray companion were more a duty than a source of pleasure.
The former tenant, Brian, had begged me to feed them, even leaving behind a hefty bag of cat food. They weren't his cats, he explained. They'd befriended his cat, Sunny, and soon he was feeding all three. When he moved, he was torn: the other two belonged on the land, a twenty-acre parcel consisting of seven dwellings. Yet they'd become accustomed to eating at Brian's cottage. So I inherited them, grudgingly.

Connecting with my medicine animal

Initially I ignored the pair lounging on my deck, though the orange cat was slowly winning my heart. One day I bought a cat-sized bowl, placed it outside my front door and filled it with Rice Dream, a milk substitute that she lapped up eagerly. I intuited she was female, yet Brian had called her Fred, which didn't suit her at all. She was one with her environment, this little wild cat, a natural embodiment of the living Earth. So I started calling her Gaia. And our pas-de-deux began.

Gaia was at once wild and wary. She'd tear off like a shot when I approached. Once I called out as she was sprinting away, "Gaia! You don't need to be afraid of me!" She froze mid-flight, turning to look at me appraisingly. After that, our dance grew more intimate.

One night our relationship took a quantum leap, thanks to a little Divine intervention. I heard the telltale rustling, followed by a thud that meant "mouse". Sure enough, in the morning my ceremonial rattle was on the floor, and there were droppings on my altar and silverware. Disgusted, I thought, "The cat would sure be helpful here!"

At twilight I heard Gaia about ten feet away, and spoke to her from my porch: "I'll make a deal with you. Keep the mice away, and I will feed you." I felt intrinsic agreement from her.

The Rice Dream gave way to premium feline fare from my local health food store, and there hasn't been a mouse in the house since. At first Gaia proudly brought her prey to me for acknowledgement, often leaving entrails on the porch. I explained that while I was thrilled with her work, I preferred she dispose of the mice elsewhere. No more mouse remains appeared on my porch.

Interspecies connection requires that we humans hone our communication skills. This cat clearly understands everything I say. I only wish I spoke meow as well as she speaks English.

Innate intelligence personified

Gaia has been extraordinarily patient with me, as my primitive human brain struggles to understand what she's trying to tell me. After the rains started, I heard her mewing one night and immediately fetched a large box, lined it with an old towel, and placed it on the porch. But she wouldn't climb in. It took a few frustrating attempts until I realized I could turn the box on its side, thereby creating both a door and a roof. Gaia crept inside, and I rejoiced.

She has been one of my most powerful teachers. If I'm in a nasty mood, she doesn't want to be around me. If I'm relaxed and cheerful, she's there on the deck. She dislikes being photographed, and loves it when I sing. I make up little songs about her and croon them as I stroke her soft fur, feeling the vibration of trust and pleasure course from her being into my own. One time when I was crying, both she and her gray companion mewed their compassion. Cats are innate intelligence personified; it's up to us to decode the message.

Maybe what developing countries really need are feline ambassadors. Who could refuse that mew of hunger, the warmth as they rub up against you, the loving eyes gazing bottomlessly into your own? I know I can't. And I know that when I leave here, I will continue Brian's legacy. Because, much as I love her, it would be wrong of me to take Gaia from the land that is home to her, and from her friend. So I will grieve, and I will remember.

A catalyst is defined as something that alters the speed of a reaction while itself remaining stable. She has been as potent a force for my personal growth as any workshop I've taken, book I've read, or relationship I've shared, and I am profoundly grateful.

I may be buying the cat food, but Gaia is feeding me.

Coda: A month after releasing my cottage for a work stint on the East coast, I returned to see how Gaia was faring. A kindhearted man now inhabited my former space; when he saw me tentatively approach, he beckoned me in and asked all about Gaia. "She hasn't come up on the porch yet, but she's been watching me," he said. He was writing down what I fed her, and I knew she was in good hands. But his final words moved me to tears: "When she's eating on the porch again, every now and then I'll bend down and whisper your name."


Copyright © 1999-2015 by Amara Rose. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Season of Stories

"The universe is made of stories, not atoms."

~ Muriel Rukeyser

As we enter the year's prime shopping season, stores tend to replace stories as the gift source of choice. I grew up in Paramus, New Jersey, the shopping capital of the known universe, where it's easy to get "malled", so I understand just how seductive — and soul diminishing — the material mindset can be. 

Emerson said: "Rings and jewels are not gifts but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself." How do we put the "I" back in "stores", supplant material-eyes with empath-eyes? How do we create the new story of Now? We can begin by sharing who we are, as keepers of culture, guardians of wisdom traditions, members of a vast community belonging to something greater than ourselves. In re-storying the holidays, we restore a sense of continuity that is soul nourishing for us, and everyone around us. READ MORE

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Welcome to Your Beautiful, Deadly New Home

Fresh paint. Window treatments. Stain-resistant couch. Plush wall-to-wall carpeting. What a fabulous place! Yet soon after moving in, you start sneezing. Then come the headaches. Fatigue. Joint pain. Brain fog…

You can be a non-smoker, organically oriented and fit, as I was, and still develop symptoms that mimic allergies and confound medical professionals. I'd unwittingly contributed to a chemically-laden house and furnishings by using conventional cleaning and personal care products: Drano unclogged the sink, Windex kept my mirrors shiny, Clorox removed bathroom mold. I also used chemically derived shampoos, conditioners and skin creams, polished my nails, spritzed on perfume.

Over time, the body just says, "Enough!"

Poisoned Planet

We're living in a highly toxic world. The FDA has approved only a fraction of the chemicals in common use today. Air, water and soil pollution far exceed what our bodies are designed to handle. As a result, the toxins we're unable to eliminate through our kidneys, bowel, liver, lungs and skin accumulate in our fatty tissue, where they can cause a bewildering array of seemingly unrelated symptoms. READ MORE