The Hall of the Witches

The Hall of the Witches

 El Pasillo de Las Brujas - The Hall of the Witches

El Pasillo de Las Brujas - The Hall of the Witches

In the winter of 2011 I walked over 800 km (500 miles) on the Camino de Santiago from the southern border of France, across 4 Spanish provinces (Navarra, La Rioja, León, and Galicia) to finish at the sea in Finisterre… “the end of the earth.” There is much myth and lore associated with The Way of Saint James, a pilgrimage walked by thousands each year, for the past two thousand years.

I began by winding my way through the Navarran Pyrenese, a mountain range similar to the Appalachians, deciduous and dotted with quaint villages. In the beginning, I found myself on the
Route du Fromage - The Cheese Route, where each day I enjoyed the most delicious French, Basque and Spanish cheese varieties with fresh baquettes and abundant red wine. It was heavenly, and I enjoyed the slow roll of each day, my feet carrying me across idyllic pastoral landscapes dotted with sheep, horses, cows, goats and the curling smoke of cottage chimneys.

It rained softly, just enough to perfume the air with the intoxicating scent of damp earth, musky and ancient. Outside of the city of Logroño in the province of Navarra I came upon a cairn and a plaque about the Spanish Inquisition of the early 1600’s where an unknown number of men, women and children were burned at the stake during what is known as the Basque Witch Trials. Apparently, where I stood was the site of their burning, and I could immediately feel the cold creep of their presence up my spine. I imagined them, innocent, sentenced and executed with no recourse - all in the name of the mighty Catholic Church.

 A pass in the Pyrenese

A pass in the Pyrenese

The day that I arrived to the cathedral city of Santiago de Compostela - the end of the line for most pilgrims - I stopped at the warm spring where believers have bathed for two millennia before entering the cathedral to bow at the feet of Saint James in reverence. Someone in the forest played a pan flute, adding to the ethereal nature of my arrival, and upon entering the medieval stone arch of the city, bagpipes droned from some distant corner of time. The day dripped with magic, as though time had been folded and I existed in both past and present, a resurrected pilgrim from some other moment in history.

I walked for 3 more days to reach the sea at Finisterre where I collected my Compostela - the ornately illustrated certificate that pilgrims receive upon completion of their Camino. In total, I walked for 35 days, with 5 days of recovery from injury and illness. That time spent on the Camino has been the greatest gift I have ever given to myself in this life. The gift of time to simply walk, to reflect, to pray, to meditate and to dream. They say that as you walk the Camino and pass through the different provinces, they represent your past, present and future. You take a slow and deliberate inventory of your life, and the long days are your teachers. Your aching feet are your teachers. The people you meet along the Way become your teachers. What can I say of such an experience, really, except that it changed me forever. My life is a pilgrimage, and I a humble pilgrim upon a path of scattered stars.









The Right Mistake

The Right Mistake

I had no idea what to do. Zero clue. Flapping madly in the wind, totally devoid of solutions, I called a dear friend. "I'm out of my wheelhouse here. How should I handle this?" I asked my wonderful therapist, "I've never dealt with this kind of situation before and have no idea as to how I should proceed. I would love your insight." Usually I sit with things and write about them, pray and meditate on them, but my intuition led me to the truth that in this situation I had nothing. I needed external, even professional help. 

Change Will Come...

Change Will Come...

My wings feel pretty gnarled lately, but I take solace in a favorite quote by Louisa May Alcott in her beloved novel, Little Women. In the words of heroine Josephine March: 

CHANGE WILL COME AS SURELY AS THE SEASONS AND TWICE AS QUICK. 

WE MAKE OUR PEACE WITH IT AS BEST WE CAN.

My Dear, You Must Believe.

My Dear, You Must Believe.

And with that, the Goddess rose and released her great wings into the wind like sails. The sun caught the shimmering scales of her feathers, casting a resplendent iridescence across the sky. She nodded to the woman before ascending to the opal heavens like a magnificent bird, beaming telepathically through her amethyst eyes, "My dear, you must believe." 

The Solace of a Horse's Neck

The Solace of a Horse's Neck

When the world feels crazy, I seek the solace of a horse’s neck. That’s the spot for me, and always has been. When I was a kid, and things were rough at home or at school, I could always burrow into that warm nook, burying my head under a cascade of mane to feel safe, to feel home, and to feel love.

Setting it Down

Setting it Down

Just today I picked at that old wound, circling back on the memory, experiencing the flood of nearly 8-month-old emotions. While indulging in this automatic thought pattern, a bubble of sanity fluttered to the forefront... the Zen story of the Two Monks

Explosive Potential

Explosive Potential

I found the large seed pod on a back country road in the jungle state of Nayarit, Mexico. Like a woody pumpkin, it made for an interesting decoration beside my bed where I hung a small collection of earrings from its attached stem.

Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf

It’s easier to just do things my own way. Then I don’t have to deal with the inevitable inconvenience of other people’s shit. I get things done quicker, more efficiently and without having to compromise. This is a great attitude if you live on the moon, but I live in the world, with people, and doing everything as a lone wolf removes the richness of collaboration and the experience of shared joy and connection. 

Structure and Thrive

Structure and Thrive

I can’t recall where I first heard the idea that you can raise a child in the same way you can grow tomatoes within a wire cage, but I liked it immediately. Tomatoes love a good cage.  Wire, wood, bamboo – they'll be happy with anything that provides good structure and support to leaf out and burst forth in a mad bramble of foliage and fruit.

Do it Scared

Do it Scared

In September of this year I was interviewed by the lovely Danielle Schnakenberg and Liza Wilde, of the Do it Scared Podcast about walking through the sticky slop of self-doubt and fear to accomplish a lifelong dream... rafting the Grand Canyon.

How to Proceed

How to Proceed

I keep searching for some wise elder grandmother whose lap I can crawl into for solace. Someone who can tell me, "Sweetheart, we've been here before... we made it through... all will be well." But then I realize... all the wise grandmothers I know are equally stunned and silenced and these are unprecedented times.

4 Helpful Tips for No Longer Giving a Flying Shit

4 Helpful Tips for No Longer Giving a Flying Shit

I’m not exactly sure when it happened - if I awoke from a dream or emerged from some type of feverish state, but this year... my 35th year of life... has been a banner year for realizing that I don't give a flying shit about what other people think of me or what I do with my life.

You are the Average

You are the Average

I’ve heard it a million times – an oft-repeated quote by entrepreneur and business philosopher, Jim Rohn...“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Based on that average, I like who I am.

How to Leave a Legacy

How to Leave a Legacy

In a recent episode of The School of Greatness podcast, host Lewis Howes interviewed legendary television and radio host Larry King about the staggering 60,000 interviews he’s conducted over the course of his lifetime. 60,000 interviews.

CHANGE - to make or become different

CHANGE - to make or become different

There are a whole lot of bumper stickery quotes out there pertaining to change, and none of them do a goddamn thing for me. I don’t do well with the phenomenon of change, and yet, from time to time I crave it like the most urgent and mandatory nutrient. It’s a funny conundrum that drives me a bit mad, but change is like Morse Code to my future, tapping unrelenting and deliberate at the window.

An Interview with Michael Franti

An Interview with Michael Franti

Imagine my absolute delight when I discovered that the 6'6" powerhouse of love and positivity was not only coming to perform in Durango, CO, but that I would have the privilege of interviewing him. I can't think of a better person to connect with for my first Carve Deeper Content Podcast episode.

Challenge Your Own Racism

Challenge Your Own Racism

As though I needed another reason to love and adore sex columnist Dan Savage and his Savage Love podcast, last week he produced a profound show, offering his African American listeners an opportunity to speak their minds about what it’s like to be black at this current juncture in American history, and to weigh in on the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Refining the Art of Saying NO

Refining the Art of Saying NO

“Jaime, you might actually be getting smarter,” said my mom when I informed her that I’d declined a request to volunteer on a rather ambitious project. And by god, she’s right - I am. I’m getting smarter by being more selective and discerning about how I want to spend my precious life force. I used to say yes to damn near everything - down for whatever, a team player, your go-to gal and involved in more things than I could ever successfully manage.

I Sing the Body Electric

I Sing the Body Electric

It began as a poem by Walt Whitman, published in 1885, and then became the title of the 100th episode of The Twilight Zone, written by science fiction genius Ray Bradbury in 1962. He would later publish a superb collection of short stories in ‘69 under the same title - I Sing the Body Electric. I can still picture the jacket cover: a dark haired woman, reminiscent of Cher, nude, enshrined within the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh and surrounded by swirling arcs of yellow and green.

The 5 P's & The Merlin Principle

The 5 P's & The Merlin Principle

If there’s one thing my dad’s good at in this world, it’s running a business. Poor guy tried in vain to encourage his only daughter to pursue the highly practical path of a business degree, but instead I chose the deliciously colorful buffet that is Cultural Anthropology. In standard father-daughter form, I resisted most of the wisdom he attempted to send my way, although a few gems managed to pass through the semi-permeable membrane of my stubborn dome.