How does a Republican girl, raised in an agnostic scientific household, become a Pagan Priestess? Broth from the Cauldron: A Wisdom Journey Through Everyday Magic (published May 12, She Writes Press) by Cerridwen Fallingstar shares profound insight in this charming and wholly unique memoir of meditations on themes such as perception, fear, anger, trauma, healing, magic and gratitude. In this soulful collection of “teaching stories”, Fallingstar recounts her earliest memories of reincarnation, her parents’ denial of the powerful intuition and visions they all shared, and the injustices and abuse which inspired her “career as a hippie, war protester, rebel, feminist, and bisexual Witch.” With a refreshing sense of humor, Fallingstar offers a portrait of a culture growing from denial to awareness – a pertinent reflection for our time. “Magic happens when you don’t give up, even though you want to. The universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart.” Book of Prosperity, Author’s FB.
Cerridwen Fallingstar is a shamanic Witch who has taught classes in magic and ritual for over thirty years. She gives lectures tying together psychology, spirituality, history, contemporary issues, and politics in an entertaining, enlightening, and humorous format. She is the author of three historical novels based on her past lives: The Heart of the Fire, White as Bone, Red as Blood: The Fox Sorceress, and White as Bone, Red as Blood: The Storm God. She lives in Marin County, California. Cerridwen also had a traditional education. She attended Beloit College from 1970–1974, receiving a degree in English Literature and English Composition. She obtained a master’s degree in English Literature from UCLA in 1976. Her son, born in 1982, and her late husband, she deems her greatest teachers. Authoring three historical novels -‘autobiographies from her previous lives’ – Cerridwen’s past career in journalism on feminist spirituality & paganism, lead her to join and then found her own coven.Leave a comment for radio show guests
Have you ever stopped to think about yourself and your story? If someone were to write your memoir what would it say? We all seek some level of authenticity but have trouble removing the labels and finding our whole story. Welcome to Dropping In with Diane Dewey. In this program we’ll explore diverse stories on identity to help determine what is truly yours. Now here is your host Diane Dewey.
Diane: Welcome to Dropping In everyone. Today, we’re going to taste some broth from the cauldron. It’s made by a beautiful shamanic priestess Cerridwen Fallingstar and it’s a book that is a transformational soup here where we find ourselves at the intersection of hope and loss. It’s a wisdom journey through every day magic. There is magic every day if only we can see it. The book Broth from the Cauldron is to be published next week on May 12th by Spark Press. It’s a privilege to read an advanced copy and to be here with Cerridwen, the witch and its author. Hello Cerridwen.
Cerridwen: Hello Diane. I’m so happy to be here with you.
Diane: It’s delightful. You’re in Marin County California at 8:00 AM. Bravo for you. That’s brave.
Cerridwen: My brain is up to the task. I’m not a morning person.
Diane: Oh well you can do this intuitively. I feel sure. I was taking a look at your Facebook page and there’s a lovely quote there. Magic happens when you don’t give up even though you want to. The universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart. That’s from the Book of Prosperity that you posted. I just love that and I think it’s appropriate for our time. We love having you here on the last super moon of 2020. I just want to give our listeners a flavor of your book because it’s quite incredible. Broth from the Cauldron is a magical memoir.
I was clearing out my library as a Covid 19 quarantine activity and I found an old version of Aesop’s Fables that I had as a kid. This kind of was reminiscent of that. There were just beautiful stories with a kind of punch line of wisdom at the end. It’s very grounded. I want to give listeners the flavor of your words because unlike most storytellers you really do draw us around the fire, the campfire and it’s quite invitational.
Here’s Cerridwen when speaking. “Stories simmer in our minds often for years. They can be nourishing and delicious as soup. They can be as potent as medicine so scoot your seats a little closer, hold out your bowls. I’ve been brewing this hodgepodge for 40 years and it’s ready now. Have a little broth from the cauldron.” thank you for the invitation Cerridwen I really do feel like we are sitting around the campfire. Your stories are anecdotal and fun and stream of consciousness. You had this very precise and practical vision from the very start. You wrote and said I want to be a witch someday not Tuesday.
Cerridwen: When I was a little kid apparently my doting grandmother was writing down many of my first sentences. When she died we found this little book that she had still kept of all my little sayings when I was small and every other thing was about witches which really cracked me up. My mother was showing me this and she said see you were always like this. We never encouraged you in the slightest. So true mom. It’s not your fault.
Diane: That was all true. That was all too true. I love that you were always very practical not on Tuesday but someday I want to be a witch. You became yes, one of these days but I think you had these very interesting methods for staving off meltdowns with your siblings as the oldest. You became a Scheherazade at an early age, a storyteller. As soon as there was going to be a crisis you’d avert it by diverting them with a story. It seems as though you’ve come back to this inner child as a storyteller here. It’s very much like a wonderful plumbing the depth diversion for us right now. I’d recommend it as a guide for getting through this pandemic.
Cerridwen: Thank you.
Diane: It’s really quite a wonderful deep dive. You’ve written three novels. You call them posthumous autobiographies because you feel as though you were called to them through past life experiences. This book Broth from the Cauldron is this life, strictly this life. It’s I would say about witchcraft but there’s also a human story interwoven and that’s the beauty of it but do you want to just mention your three previous novels. I find them to be fascinating sounding.
Cerridwen: The Heart of the Fire which is set in the 16th century about witchcraft and it’s set in 16th century Scotland. That was the first one. It was the one that was the most kind of pushing at my consciousness throughout my life was the kind of unfinished business of that time period that I needed to explore. It’s really become a bit of a pagan classic. It sold over 20,000 copies. That’s something that really if you think you might have, if you relate to the witchcraft thing at all, if that’s something that calls to and that particular book is probably going to take you on your own journey into the past.
The other two books are the White as Bone Red as Blood series. White as Bone, Red as Blood, the Fox Sorceress and White as Bone Red as Blood the Storm God. These two are set in 12th century japan. Another life that I had. It was the conflict between these two clans were battling for control of the throne. One of which has the red as their color and the other one has the white kind of like the War of the Roses in England during a similar time period really. I was going to say very few people in the western world know very much about that period of Japanese history but it’s kind of the rise of the samurai. It’s an extremely fascinating period.
Diane: It’s totally fascinating. The power game of the samurais was really, I mean it’s been captured I think in chronicles later than that but you’ve gone to like a very point of origin. The Heart of the Fire, I always knew you were an interesting person with. I don’t really, I mean know that many people who have been in 12th century japan and 16th century Scotland but I mean I’m willing to take the trip with you. The Heart of the Fire, I mean I dug up another book that I saw on my bookcase. It was Fire in the Head about a Celtic spirit in shamanism. I thought to myself well that’s not as interesting as Heart of the Fire. I go to the Heart of the Fire so promising reads. I’m glad.
Yes, I have been smitten Cerridwen. From your writing I’ve been smitten about this subject especially because you approached it in such a down-to-earth way. There’s really no other way of describing it. You mentioned it sort of as an esoteric thing. I wonder if you think that witchcraft is gaining traction right now because people are seeking, they’re looking for things. People are identifying their spirit animal and things like this. Do you think that it’s being magnetized now?
Cerridwen: Yes absolutely. I think I mean that’s shown by people who do studies. There’s now over 1.2 million people who identify as witches in the United States. That’s a rather large number of people. It’s more than identify as a Presbyterian. Witchcraft is becoming a very popular means for people to explore their own spirituality. There’s a number of reasons for that. I think one is that it honors the masculine and the feminine equally that there’s people are very hungry for the sacred feminine. There’s a sense that’s something that’s deeply missing in our culture so bringing back the goddess, bringing back that archetype of the sacred feminine is very, very crucial for us now.
It’s also something that is very short on dogma. In other words there’s not a lot of things that you have to believe to call yourself a witch or to call yourself a pagan. It’s basically saying the earth is sacred. If you can get down with the idea that the earth is sacred and that all things are interconnected well that’s something that science tells us that all things are interconnected. It’s not something we have to give up your intelligence to have a spiritual path. As someone who’s very rational and very intelligent myself I need something like that where yes, I want to have my spiritual side but I don’t want to have to believe a lot of things that I simply can’t believe in order to get there.
Diane: You’ve burst open a lot of dogma actually in the book which I thought was very healthy. What you’re speaking of the sacred earth and the archetype of the goddess. I mean these are ideas whose time has come. As you say it’s more about an internal journey of finding your own way in terms of shamanism and witchcraft. We’re going to just for a second back up because people will want to know if you emerged full-blown as a witch. I’m going to just give a little biographical history. You’re welcome to chime in at any point but I’ll read from what you’ve said to us as an opener in the in the book Broth from the Cauldron.
Cerridwen Fallingstar is a shamanic witch who did have a traditional background she attended Beloit College and received a degree in English literature and composition. She has a master’s degree in English literature from UCLA. Fallingstar pursued a career as a journalist in Los Angeles writing mainly for the alternative press not coincidentally on feminism, feminist sexuality and related matters. During this time Cerridwen you encountered a Wiccan pioneer Susana Budapest right?
Cerridwen: That’s correct.
Diane: She was arrested in Los Angeles for fortune telling from tarot cards, from reading tarot cards. This is a little unthinkable right now in our culture thank goodness but you interviewed her. That led to something.
Cerridwen: I actually went to her trial. It was a four day trial so I attended her trial. I mean it was it was still rather striking in 1975 that a witch would be on trial for fortune telling. It seemed pretty strange, pretty regressive. It’s a very interesting process to watch the wheels of justice sort of stumbling in this rather bizarre pursuit, for their archaic pursuit.
Diane: Well we can hear your skepticism there in your voice of the wheels of justice but right after that this was a blessing because you then found your own coven Callisti in 1975 and began publishing poetry and literature under your craft name Cerridwen Fallingstar. Cerridwen comes from the Celtic and it’s the goddess of rebirth and transformation. What could be more apropos to this book which is transformation, transformational and transformation soup I would say?
Let’s go back to some basic definitions because in case not everyone’s literate in Wicca or witchcraft. You say this and cite this very well in the book Broth from the Cauldron. It comes from the root of willow, the willow tree is flexible, bending with the wind and not breaking. Magic too is flexible. I’m reading here from Broth from the Cauldron. Sorry, it’s quite similar actually. Flexible magic and it moves with the flow of energy and witchcraft is known as the twisted path not because it’s perverse necessarily but because like lightning moving through the sky or a river carrying out its course energy follows the path of least resistance. It’s poetic. It’s poetic writing also Cerridwen.
I’m wondering now do you still teach? You say you’ve been a Wiccan priestess teaching shamanic classes since 1976. Are you still teaching?
Cerridwen: I’m teaching much less. For many years I taught a year-long Wiccan apprenticeship program. Then I had also often for many of those classes a second advanced year that I taught where I would have a group of usually 12 to 15 people who committed for a year of kind of intensive study. Then of course I’ve always done weekend workshops and evening workshops and things like that along with but now I’m getting older. I’m really focusing more on my writing.
I have another memoir that I’m hoping to publish about two years from now that is mostly written. I’m working on finishing that up. Trying to get a little more of my writing out there but I do love the teaching. I meet so many so many powerful people often powerful young people but sometimes if when I was younger I often worked with people older than myself but as I’ve gotten older they’ve mostly been younger. It’s very dear to my heart to bring other people along on their path of power. I love midwifing people into their own power.
Diane: Absolutely and you’re speaking to maybe more people through your book. I think there is some midwifery involved in the book. I personally resonated with several subjects and felt a very energetic pull towards a better self, a kind of a higher self or a sense of a more enlightened position. I think it’s very, very transformational but I loved the course that you mentioned, the year-long apprenticeship was called the Hogwarts for Grown-ups. Of course I too have noticed that subtle not so subtle change where people used to be much younger, much older and now they’re much younger. I don’t know how all that happens but it’s happened over quite a long overnight but I’m delighted. I wondered very, very much in this day of being connected technologically. Do you think that it’s possible to teach digitally? Is that something that is even conceivable?
Cerridwen: I think many parts are I know I’ve thought about it. I’m a little intimidated about a lot of what I do, some of the more powerful things that I do is to put people into trance states to go on shamanic journeys. Often, in fact one of the things that we that we do I don’t just lead people individually but in my group we go into group trance. In other words everyone goes into trance at the same time. We all journey to the same place and start having the same experiences spontaneously together which we’re talking the whole time it’s happening. We know what’s going on. We pursue various forms of enlightenment in this in this way and it’s really quite amazing or something I don’t think could be reproduced digitally.
Even just doing any kind of trance work when I’m not present with the person feels a little hazardous to me that I’m putting somebody at a very deep state of consciousness and I want to make sure they can get back out again. I want to make sure I can pull them out of this this state of mind and they don’t just sort of drift off. My sense of responsibility makes it a little, makes me a little nervous about trying to do some of this really deep powerful work through the medium of the computer world. Some of it you could obviously do you know pretty easily. Certainly teaching people basic spell work and things like that. I could definitely do that way but some of the deeper stuff would be harder.
Diane: We are going to pause here in a couple minutes but I do like the idea of wanting to be retrieved from such a journey. I have not experienced the shamanic trance. I love the idea that everyone’s experiencing a common experience and can talk about it throughout. It’s interesting to me the sense of connectivity through digital communications and clearly psychics work by telephone over airwaves. It is interesting but to your credit being the responsible person that you are I can understand how this would be kind of iffy that we might not be able to go out there and be promised a return ticket.
Appreciating that but some of the very basics what is a shaman? The dictionary definition a member of certain traditional societies who acts as a medium between the visible world and the invisible spirit world and who practices magic or sorceries for purposes of healing divination and control over natural events. I’m here to tell you from reading Cerridwen’s book that you’re not an advocate of controlling natural events. On the contrary right? We’re going to take a pause here I think in a little less than a minute but Cerridwen your views on trying to control events?
Cerridwen: I mean I think again it’s kind of a cultural thing that our culture is very much about control. It’s true that witches sometimes laugh and call magic coincidence control but it’s a matter of trying to get the coincidences to weave together in the direction you want. Of course we all want to have control over our lives and unfortunately sometimes we want to control other people’s lives too but there’s a, in real magic there’s a weaving between control and surrender where you’re trying to push the universe in the direction you’d like it to go but you’re very much aware that the universe may have a bigger plan in mind but isn’t exactly the same as what your smaller mind has imagined. There’s that awareness that we’re very small in the great flow of things and that we’re very privileged to be able to participate in it. That sometimes these magical amazing things happen because the universe wanted to play with you or to show you something fun or who knows why. There’s a mystery and surrendering to that mystery is part of the beauty of it.
We’re going to surrender to a commercial break here and the mystery, I love it and we’re going to come back and examine the difference between mastery and mystery and surrendering to it. Don’t go away but we’ll be right back.
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You are listening to Dropping In with Diane Dewey. We’d love to hear from you if you have a question or comment about the show. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s the letter email@example.com. Now back to Dropping In.
Diane: Welcome back everyone. We’re here with Cerridwen Fallingstar. Cerridwen, a joy to be speaking with you. Before the break we were talking about mastery versus mystery, how life might have bigger plans than we do and maybe some of our plans are just way too small but we like to think nonetheless that through our egos that we will somehow gain mastery. You say that some people do enter Wiccan or witchcraft with this goal in mind but that you end up taking them on more of a journey of surrender. You write in the book that everything, animal, people, trees are capable of being your teacher. That’s the basis of the philosophy that things and people and animals are here to teach us about the respect for the earth, about ourselves. I wondered in that in that grand scheme of things how you thought or whether you thought the current pandemic was actually a teacher that we should be kneeling in front of.
Cerridwen: Yes, definitely. I think Jane Goodall probably said it the best. She says that this pandemic teaches us that we need to have more respect for animals and more respect for nature because where this and where so many of these illnesses come from as they’re jumping from animals to humans when humans are consuming those animals especially when they’re kept in very brutal conditions as they are in the what they call the wet markets of china. It’s not an accident that many of these illnesses the SARS and the Covids are coming, they’re coming from that. That we need to have more respect and not to be plundering through the wilderness to capture all these wild animals and consume them when there simply aren’t enough of these species left to reproduce and to have the life that they want to have.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t ever eat animals. We evolved eating them and so it’s difficult especially for a female body to stay healthy without some meat but we don’t have to treat them badly. We don’t have to eat the things that are endangered. We don’t have to factory farm and keep animals in small pens. These are ways in which illness comes from them to us. It is a karmic sort of a warning that says hey, you can’t, what you do to the earth you do to yourself. We cannot abuse the other beings of this earth without abusing ourselves. That’s something that we very much need to learn.
I mean the other thing about the pandemic is just telling us our life is not sustainable. There are too many humans on the planet. We’re vastly overpopulated. We can’t sustain that. If we don’t limit the numbers then nature will limit the numbers. She will find a way to kill off enough of us so that balance is restored.
Diane: We’re culling the herd so to speak. There’s also the dimension of consumerism, the way we consume which then ties into what you were talking about kind of karma in motion with the lack of sustainability and the fact that animals are losing their habitats. That then animals are stressed and become ill and then are carriers of disease. People don’t seem to understand these very fundamental things. I think it’s marvelous that you’re saying it. Of course Jane Goodall has dedicated her life to preserving species of animals and their habitats. It’s really a wake-up call if we’re willing.
It’s something that this is one of the reasons why I wondered if you would offer yourself as a teacher either digitally or otherwise because this is the vision, this is the kind of connect, we need to connect its dots. We need to hear these voices. I’m glad that it’s in your book. There are several wonderful chapters on animals and the way that they do speak to us if we’re able to listen. I think that the sense of them being teachers it’s also a change in dynamic of men and women being the dominant we’re not necessarily the dominant or you were talking about at the top of the food chain which was hilarious as well.
That brought me back to, that that top of the food chain comment was from a child that you were talking to. Children are part of this vision of not just innocence but they’re more connected right to their intuition. They’re experiencing in a much more direct, unmitigated way. You talk in the book “the younger self is the awareness of the right hemisphere, the part that fascinated that’s fascinated by images and sensations that thinks in circles and spirals rather than straight lines, the part that’s entranced by metaphor and bored by logic. Children dwell almost entirely in the world of fairy where the Id and the unconscious reigns supreme. Magic is second nature to them.”
I wondered is it a recovery to a childlike realm when you’re taking people back through these trances?
Cerridwen: Sometimes we do things that again to the outer eye may seem kind of childish because it is playful that we set up an altar for instance and we put things on the altar that correspond to what we are wanting that if you were doing a love spell you would put the things that say love to you on the altar that might be say white and red roses. It might be this picture or that picture. It might be any number of things because it would be idiosyncratic to you. What is love to you?
Then some of our rituals we dance around the maple and that’s certainly a very playful thing to do. Yet as we’re doing it and weaving those ribbons together we’re re-weaving the web of life. We’re thinking about what we’re re-weaving, how we’re putting the world back together again. That’s a typical shamanic goal is to restore balance and to restore harmony. We’re working on those things and part of that is restoring the harmony between the two sides of our brain. It’s wonderful that we have all the logic of the left brain. It’s a beautiful thing that we have it and yet without the balance of the right brain, without the balance of the images and the emotions and that sense of the ineffable then we then we fall out of balance and you can see our culture is so imbalanced. That’s what we’re trying to do is to how we say I’m trying to get the right and left hemispheres of my brain to kiss and make up.
We’re trying to bring those things back together so they can work together so that men and women can work together so there’s not that hostility and that lack of appreciation for the masculine viewpoint and the feminine viewpoint. That these things are were meant to cooperate, that our differences are meant to be creative differences that help us work better together is where we’re trying to head to next.
Diane: Yes, we need both. The divorce from the right brain to the left brain was brutal I tell you. I really think that we have gotten very kind of schizophrenic. Everything is cast into doubt on the right brain creative, intuitive side and only logic can prevail. Clearly that weaving together again that’s something symbolic that you’re talking about is not just beautiful but necessary. Our lives might actually depend on it. The shamanic tradition does rely on healers and I started a little investigation prompted by your book on healers and Marie-Louise von Franz, the Jungian psychoanalytic thinker was talking about. Yes, the healer is typically someone who is wounded, who has been cut open so that they develop the capacity for caring and empathy for others.
It’s also a person who has been able to find their way out. They’ve used the intuitive course which is strictly right brain activity to find a way for themselves and certain practices such as ones that come through Wiccan and such as drumming are conducive to finding these ways to come out. We have dilemmas and how do we find our way out is if that’s the problem to solve it seems to me that you’re offering a kind of a scenario for people to travel into and see what the possibilities are. You’re taking also after indigenous cultures. You have quite an association in the book with indigenous cultures and a respect and observation.
I’ll just read just a passage. “They don’t use their intelligence to thwart their growth.” Okay, there’s a statement because we have used our intelligence to thwart our growth. That’s exactly what we were just talking. How do we get in touch with all of this? How do we start to relate to what we need to in the natural world and not regard it as scenery as you put it?
Cerridwen: I think reading books like the one I just published and like there are so many books out now. There’s many resources that just start your mind going oh wait. There is a different way to look at this and then of course meditation is a fantastic way to drop into that more spacious part of existence. There’s all kinds of classes that we can take. I really recommend that everybody in this culture get therapy. Really, believe me if you were brought up in this culture you’re going to need it. We’re in a completely insane culture and we’ve normalized this level of insanity that you’re really going to need to come to grips with well.
What did happen with me when I was a kid that I’ve maybe wallpapered with something a little more rosy and how am I going to excavate that. You’re saying the shaman, one of things that if you’re talking to other shamans one of the questions they might ask you is when did you die. Because in the traditional shamanic world you would be put on a path of shamanism by having had a near-death experience. That would be pretty much a universal thing that would put you on that path.
In our culture again because there’s such tremendous psychological damage within our culture the vast majority of people have had experiences where if they weren’t physical near-death experiences they were spiritual death experiences. For instance abuse causes a great wound in the child. Again, you’re going to have to find some way then not to paper it over and pretend it’s not there but to actually use it to build a bridge. If there’s a crevasse, if there’s a gap in your psyche that’s what needs to inspire you. Oh, I’m going to have to build a bridge or an airplane or some way of making the leap from point A to point B.
Again this is somewhere where the new age kind of, sometimes doesn’t really get, it doesn’t get the whole picture because the new age wants it all to be yes, yes. It’s all good and we’re all cheerleaders and we’re all going to get what we want. You just have to have the right thoughts. This isn’t the whole thing. We really need the depth too. We need the dark. We need the shadow and we’re all going to have some of that. If you are framing all of that as a failure you are missing all the opportunities for wisdom and power and compassion that lie in actually acknowledging your dark and involving it.
Diane: Exactly and I mean where the scar is formed is the toughest tissue. You chose this time to write a memoir. I commend you for it because you’re sharing your experiences, your very personal experiences. When you were a child you were the designated whipping girls of the three children. You learned kind of the hard way that you were the scapegoat for everyone else’s or the other two through their antics you were the one who was chosen to be beaten. You found a book. You learned that it was and you say in some ways it was a relief that whole tribes of nomads and nobility throughout Europe designated one to be hit as an example to the others. Then my life made sense. There was one in every family. Since punishment kept everyone in line I was fulfilling a valuable role making an important contribution to the well-being of the family.
I mean I think here this conversion of energy, of dark, sad, painful experience but as you say forget wallpapering it over and bring it to light. This is something that you have understood yourself at that time as being a marked child so that you could outlive the narrative so that you could be able to transcend this narrative. The mondegreens, the spaces that we fill in that we interpret we tell people what mondegreens are. This was a huge revelation to me.
Cerridwen: A mondegreen is when one thing is said but a different thing is heard or you see something but your brain interprets it as something else. For instance many people listening to the Jimmy Hendrix song excuse me while I kiss the sky. Heard it as excuse me while I kiss this guy. For many people that was much more mind-blowing that he would kiss a guy, another person than that he was in his hallucinatory state kissing the sky, the S-K-Y.
It’s something that you hear it a different way than it is but we all have this experience all the time in our communications with each other where through the distortion of our own suffering or the distortion of our own upbringing we may hear from somebody saying something they think is helpful and we hear it as a horrible criticism. This is something that we learn in relationship hopefully is how to break down that constant misinterpretation that we have of what other people are saying to us that we then hear in this distorted way. It’s just a normal part of being alive and this is something we have to keep working on.
Diane: It’s an evolution for sure and it’s dependent upon the narrative that we tell ourselves about ourselves. It’s an interpretation of words that has to do more with us than it does the sender. This is very interesting and exploring how to break through this is something that your book really tackles head on. I want to just remind us that we have about a minute to the next break but this is Cerridwen’s first memoir. There is a poet, a Celtic poet Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and I’m not doing his name justice but he says for my story is your story is everybody’s story. We thank you Cerridwen for your bravery in writing your book. It’s Broth from the Cauldron. It’s coming out next week May 12th from Spark Press.
When we come back in a minute we’re going to understand through Cerridwen accepting changes that have been forced upon us and forging them into something powerful. Don’t go away. We’ll be right back.
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Diane: Welcome back everyone. We’re sitting down with Cerridwen Fallingstar, a beautiful name if ever I heard one and we’re talking about shamanism and its contribution potentially now as a vital life force. We’re also looking at a from a personal psychology how to break through some of the patterns in our mind that keep us kind of stuck in place as they say but also with certain kind of views and certain kinds of interpretations that could be split wide open and help us retrieve some of our lost vitality and care for the world and for one another.
I loved this book for several reasons. There’s a very democratic view. This is not a hierarchical system that you’re working in Cerridwen and you talk about yourself even as a teacher, as a river guide. You’re also on the river and you’re working with people as a teacher and now as an author but you’re taking us on the ride.
Cerridwen: I like that analogy. I say I don’t own the river but I know this stretch of the river really well and if you come with me you’re going to spend more time in the boat having fun and less time in the water trying not to drown. The idea it’s just that a teacher is someone who maybe has a lot of knowledge about something and can help you acquire that knowledge in perhaps the least painful way possible but that doesn’t make them yeah a higher sort of a being. Unfortunately people in the spiritual world often are presenting themselves as gurus of a sort that requires the person to be part of a cult, that requires them to give up their critical thinking that requires them to simply take everything our teacher says as being the gospel truth.
This is again, it’s a very dominator sort of a system. It’s the very system that I personally am trying to help people break out of and not to reinforce however it is also true that it is the best way to make a whole lot of money is to manipulate people. If that is your goal that would be the way to go. My son when he was 11 years old he said to me mom, you’re doing this all wrong. He says you’re not going to make money doing it this way. You’ve got to have a guru. I said well but son I don’t want to be a guru. He says okay I’ll be the guru. I was like oh wait, you mean you’re going to teach the classes. He says no mom, of course not. You’re going to teach the classes just every so often I’ll walk through and smile and wave. I’m like oh my god, who are you but he’s really cute. An 11 year old can figure this out. We all know how this works but it’s not how I want to work. It doesn’t feel the vision of the world that I have and where I want to go or where I want to help other people to go.
Diane: Exactly. I love this anti-guru and also just this sense of not taking things at face value, retrieving your critical thinking. I feel as though for my own perspective one of the things that I thought was invaluable in your book was a reference to one Don Juan Carlos Castaneda, the passage about petty tyrants that a petty tyrant can be a boss, a parent a spouse. Anyone who holds some power over us and of course what you’re talking about in terms of cults, it’s somebody who wants to get a lot of money or get a lot of power. You really talk about how to diffuse the petty tyrant in a way that robs them of energy and also restores our sanity. This is a nice gift, this piece of understanding that we learn from bad example more potently than good sometimes and that’s your quote but we reclaim our freedom of thought, of emotional response and then the petty tyrant has lost power and we’ve gained it. Valuable stuff here.
The other resonant part for me that I really loved and there’s a there’s a lot of ways of looking at it because there are these kind of fables that the book is organized into these wonderful storytelling chapters in Broth From the Cauldron is anger. Many of us feel angry right now. The frustrations of not being able to do anything, not being represented well. You are insightful here. You say “anger is a reorganizing energy. Only when it’s blocked from its work of releasing and transforming does it become destructive.” you talk about how “anger is your spirit. Telling you not to bow to injustice any longer. It’s the sacred messenger communicating that something in your life needs transforming. Something has to give and you need a change and you’ve got to stop being stuck. Hurl the puzzle that’s baffling you into the air and start over.” I completely love this. Here’s something that really resonates with us today. What are we going to do with all of this frustration and anger that we’re experiencing right now?
Cerridwen: I think again the anger is it’s your psyche’s way of saying whoa, something’s not right here. Now we need a change. We need to transform something so then look for that and say okay, what is wrong with this picture. Well unfortunately in our culture almost everything is wrong with this picture. It can feel a little overwhelming to look at the leadership in our country is to be angry, to say oh this is insane. We literally have an insane approach to things rather than a sane one.
One of the things that’s being shown is this ridiculous idea on the part of some people who have wealth or more privilege that health care shouldn’t be for everyone. It should only be for those who can afford it. It’s like okay, well you see how this works out. We’re all connected. The person without health care is standing next to you at the grocery store and they’re making you sick. Is this really how you want to live your life because you might not be able to live your life much longer if this is how it goes on. It’s with showing how completely insane it is to be in a society that supposedly an advanced society and to not have universal health care. It’s absurd. Of course we all have to have health care. Of course that has to be a human right.
Seeing what’s missing here. We can see how the leadership is missing that under I have a friend who works for a company that is making the tests and the instruments that evaluate the tests. In Britain, the military is building factories so they can make more of these things. They’ll have enough. Here we have the National Guard. Why aren’t we sending them to do this to build the factories so we can have more tests so everyone can be tested then we know when it’s safe. It’s a very simple thing to do with the political will but there’s not the will to do it. We should be angry about that. Our lives are being thrown away so that other people can be obscenely rich. This has to stop. Listen to the messages and go oh okay. This sure makes it clear what isn’t working. What can we do to make it work?
I’ll put in my vote. Please go out and vote. Please make sure that you’re registered to vote and that you can vote in November. Make sure you haven’t been taken off the voting rolls which is happening in a lot of places. Make sure that you exercise your right to change what needs to be changed.
Diane: This is a witch speaking. I want you to all understand that we’re not talking about casting a spell and using supernatural powers. This is very pragmatic advice. You’ll find more of this very down-to-earth pragmatism in the book broth from the cauldron by Cerridwen Fallingstar. We are talking about the pandemic and I observed your understanding that everything is a teacher. Right now it looks as though Covid 19 while we will eventually find a vaccine has been now exposed as the tip of the iceberg in terms of issues that face us because we have neglected to take care of one another at a very fundamental level.
The crisis, it’s these everyone says this that the heartwarming stories on the ground, in the neighborhood when you’re doing that food drive like we’re doing here to start to recompense, to start to make amends for these distances that we’ve created for these disparities that we’ve created and we’ve got a lot more work to do in that area. You are a gifted storyteller and you have talked quite a bit about your own trajectory. It has included sadness, the loss of your husband and I think that that sense of not having control over events and also the insights that you gained from realizing that you needed to take comfort in maybe ways that you ever not had ever thought of before.
You talked about loss and you say, “Lately my tree friend is an old twisted pine whose branches coil off in two different directions. Sometimes I sit with my spine pressed up against the trunk. There in the underworld I can meditate on how I, like the tree could survive having my core destroyed. How I could live with the vast void at the center of my heart.” This is such a beautiful passage Cerridwen. I’m sorry that you had to have this experience but you’ve given us the keys back into the garden. You’ve talked about how the lock was around your heart was big and heavy but the keys to unlock it have turned out to be surprisingly small. This is just a lovely reference. How are you finding your way now? We’ve just got a couple more minutes to go.
Cerridwen: Loss is something none of us want. We don’t want it for ourselves. We don’t want it for the people we love but it is again, it’s part of life. Everyone you know is going to die including you. That’s just how it is. We need to somehow come to grips with that and not let the usual way that people cope with this is to not feel very much, to not love as deeply as they could love, to try and keep everything at arm’s length so it won’t hurt so much when they lose it. That also means that you never really have it. You don’t give yourself the depth and the joy of having true intimacy.
When we let ourselves have that then it’s going to hurt like heck when we lose it but I personally don’t regret having loved as deeply as I love. I don’t regret that at all. I really enjoy my memories of the wonderful experiences that I’ve had. I’m certainly I think it’s truly is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved but some of it is like learning to love the smaller things that life isn’t just about the big ticket items. I know initially I felt kind of bitter about that. It was like I felt like I was having to take a whole bunch of pieces of cloth no bigger than a fingernail and try and sew them together into a quilt.
Diane: You’ve done it. You’ve actually done this. You’ve woven a beautiful quilt. We’ve come to the end of our conversation with Cerridwen. Thank you for all of this positive energy. You say that it’s easy to die for love but living for love for yourself, for another, for life itself is what grows a soul. You can find Cerridwen on Heart of the Fire. You can find her on Facebook and the book Broth from the Cauldron by Cerridwen Fallingstar. Thank you so much for sharing Cerridwen. Be safe and hopeful everyone.
Cerridwen: Thank you so much for having me Diane.
Diane: With pleasure. Thanks for listening.
Thank you so much for dropping in. Please join Diane Dewey again next Friday at 8 AM Pacific Time and 11 AM Eastern Time on the Voice America Variety Channel. We’ll see you then.