The Erie Pathway

Photo by Prokhor Minin

Monday night, a few things happened:

  • New Moon
  • Another International Space Station pass
  • The Tau Herculids meteor shower

My stepdad and I watched the ISS pass together on the front lawn. It’s really something special to see — and beautiful, like a star floating through my human view of the cosmos.

For the Tau Herculids, I drove to Lake Erie with a blanket and sat by myself watching for any movement in the sky. I didn’t see any massive meteors like I did a couple of years ago during a rare cloudless Michigan Perseid show, but thanks to the New Moon, I was able to catch a few of them. Regardless of size, they never fail to leave me in awe and inspiration.

Taken at Showse Park on the night of the eclipse. There is a lake there I promise!

Just a couple of weeks ago, I got to witness another astronomical wonder in the form of a total lunar eclipse on a full moon night. I had driven out to Lake Erie just to be near the water for a while. I did a bit of ritual work and made some offerings — things maybe she has never seen before, or recently. A couple of stones from her sister, Lake Michigan, an assortment of herbs, and I meant to leave her a feather from my collection, but there were a lot of people there and not much wind. It was the most still I have ever seen Lake Erie, actually. Despite that stillness, she seemed moody to me. I didn’t mind at all. I vowed to bring the feather back another day.

Monday night, as I visited the same place hoping for a meteor sighting, the wind seemed to pick up significantly, and I released the promised feather along with a lot of love onto her slightly more turbulent waters.

Monday night to Tuesday morning as I slept, I dreamed I was free-diving deep underwater. I was following another being, although I can’t remember who or what — they were a vague but familiar shape, almost like a raindrop but not quite a whale. We were looking for something (I don’t know what… a treasure maybe?), and the tone was rather playful and joyful. But eventually, I began to feel the panic of having held in a breath for too long, and I remembered that exhaling can help relieve that feeling. In doing so, I accidentally inhaled a little immediately afterward & found that I could take in a bit of oxygen. I was too afraid to take a big breath and so I made my way to the surface where I woke up in my own bed. I would like to think that I was swimming with Erie herself!

I think about all that she has been through since we modern humans burst onto the scene. Of all the five sisters, Lake Erie has been the most exploited by industry. Attempts at her ruination have been so severe, she has inspired laws offering her personhood. As you follow the coastline where I live, you can witness for yourself the impacts of that exploitation. Her shores teeter back and forth between shabby apartments, luxury homes, and industry all in a few short miles. For me, it’s a very strange mixture to see. Each area provides a decidedly alien feeling from the next.

Photo by Joel Naren on Unsplash

It happens way too frequently that we, as humans, impose ourselves on our environment without consideration of the ways we affect it, and then we seek to blame that place for the problem. We do it all the time when we refer to a place as a shithole, or a dump, or what-have-you. But it isn’t the fault of the land, is it?

Despite all that has built up and torn down all around her, and the pollutants she has been exposed to, Erie is lovely. She’s moody, a little sassy, and sometimes crass, but she’s got a heart of gold. We cannot blame her (or any other place) for something the folks with opposable thumbs & capitalism did.

We do the same thing to ourselves — trashing our bodies and blaming them for it. My own body, my own ecosystem, has been badly damaged by my own hand. It hasn’t (usually) been on purpose or consciously willful, but it has been done nevertheless. Bodies are designed for adaptation. They respond to internal, external, emotional, and physical stimuli — even etheric, spiritual stimuli — and they warp, shift, move, and change based on that stimuli. In studying for my foot reading certification, this was a concept I became hyper-aware of. Many of the changes in our bodies, regardless of the kind of stimuli present, show up in the form of markers on our feet before we are even aware of them. These are all pieces of the grand puzzle that makes up a person, and no two are exactly the same.

I have recently begun a regimen of intermittent fasting because I want a better relationship with my body, and when you challenge the brain, stuff comes up. I have been on an 18:6 schedule, today I moved to a 20:4 — that is to say, I fast for 20 hours a day, and I have a four hour window in which to eat. During that window, I try to consume healthy, nutrient rich foods. It’s really not difficult… until it is. Without fail, my brain starts making claims that I am starving or doing something horrible which is completely untrue. The level of hunger required to actually be starving is far beyond than anything I have ever done. Still, I try to pay close attention to the shit my head says to me, questioning the thoughts as they arrive. The thoughts that come are like little fish jumping for insects, disturbing an otherwise quiet pond, only seen for a moment before disappearing beneath the surface again — but now I know they’re there. As I get further into it (I am only on day 10), it’ll get easier, and will pave the way for some longer-term fasts. For now, I choose to lean into the discomfort of hunger, and the discomfort of change. This discomfort is necessary, it’s temporary, and it’s fine. It’s just discomfort.

Healing is like that. It’s full of things that are unpleasant to look at but necessary to get through. I am on a Lake Erie pathway. As she fights to regain herself, her health, her autonomy — I do the same for myself. I push into the deep of my psyche, and I find that I can, indeed, breathe under this water.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Bad Angel

For this post, I will be bastardizing some excerpts from The First Elegy of The Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke (whose work I deeply admire). I mean no disrespect, but it may still be considered disrespectful to use these pieces outside their original intention. Sorry, Bro.

Allow me to paint a picture for you.

I am sitting on the steps in the sanctuary of my childhood church, ca. 1985/86. It’s Christmas time, and I am an angel in the nativity play. I am chubby-cheeked and sassy, and I am wearing a tinsel halo that clashes with my blonde hair. Over my Sunday best, I have on an itchy white robe with glittered wings made of poster board tied on me with a gold rope. They feel big enough that I could fly away — which I think I’d certainly like to. I am wearing knee-high white socks and my very favorite footwear — ballet slippers. Next to me is a ramshackle manger overflowing with straw, and a smelly old baby doll from the smelly old baby nursery to represent the baby Jesus.

My parents are watching from the pews just a row or two from the front and my dad is armed with a camera, desperately trying to get a photo of me behaving like the angel he sees before him. He has even mouthed the words “get up” and motioned as much with his hands. His face turns red and angry as I fold my arms, look him dead in the eye, and shake my head no. I sit on the steps refusing to sing (rather pleased with myself, I might add), pointing my toes, admiring the way they look and feel in the slippers, and there isn’t a damned thing my father can do about it.

This is not an amazing story, but it is a true one.

And it demonstrates something important for me. In the times where I think I have no will at all, it’s this adorable haloed creature that is probably running the show, giving me the same little “fuck you” she gave my dad during the nativity play (and many more times after that). She acts often to her/my/our detriment, and she defies even as my conscious self aches for some different way of being.

Yep, I have plenty of will and it’s potent, but a five-year-old runs the show. She has been far more effective than I ever have been at asserting herself, and yet, she never quite gets what she actually wants. She defies just to do it, just because she can. In a sense, it has turned into an “any attention is good attention” situation.

It’s perhaps a little strange to see her as an entity separate from myself since she is me, but acknowledgement can grant many blessings, and I needed this separation to become conscious of her existence in the first place. Communicating can be a little challenging though, because she communicates very differently than I do now. She is me before I had enough language to adequately express myself. She doesn’t actually mean to be naughty. She means to assert who she is, to tell me what’s wrong. She’s gripping at whatever her little hands are able to, even if those things are ultimately destructive to her. It is my job to course correct. It is my job to give her voice.

So I am here, now–with this little cutie on my hip, doing my best to listen to and understand her, to tell her no when no needs telling (when I have the wherewithal to recognize her influence). I explain to her why it’s necessary, and I do a bit of bargaining sometimes too. When I do it like this, it’s not a punishment or a deprivation. She is learning that there are far greater rewards in store.

Thanks so much for spending a bit of your day with me! In Gratitude and Love,

Kali Adriantje & the Bad Angel

My Animist Values

I try to bring a little bit of the sacred into my everyday existence, even if it’s just taking a 5 minute walk through Tappan Square and visiting with the glorious Beech tree, the ever-so-magical Dawn Redwood trio, or any of the other lovely beings residing there. It doesn’t have to be long or complex to be meaningful, and there are no special tools required — just me, and a willingness to connect with the lives around me, human and otherwise.

Connection is a word I use tirelessly because, for me, it is absolute necessity. Connection is everything, and behind nearly everything I do. If I do not feel connected to what I am doing, the home I live in, the land I occupy, the people I am spending time with, or the things I surround myself with, then what’s the point? Where’s the actual magic, if not living within the connections we foster?

Connection by Kali Adriantje

Over the last several months, I have been working to define my values as an animist by way of a course of study with the oh-so-wonderful, magical Cyrene Krey of Shadow Animism. I have talked a bit about some of my foundational beliefs in past posts, but I want to take a little time to highlight what I have come up with thus far, as this exercise in definition has really helped me to deepen my experiences and increase the depth of connection I feel to the world. These may shift a little as I continue to cultivate my path, but the bones are here and ready for the flesh.

  • Allowance – I honor other beings without the expectation that they conform to my ways of expression and behavior. I allow them to exist as they are, rather than as I am. I lower my demands on their existence, as they are not mine to rule or preside over.
  • Connection & Communication – I understand that communication and expression are not limited to my human ways. I allow myself to connect from a deeper source of understanding beyond my oral language; and to be moved and changed by releasing, at times, my modern human logic and desire to explain away my experiences.
  • Creativity & Deference – As I belong to the Earth, I offer my deference to Nature as greater than myself. I use creativity to move through challenges presented to my person. I pay tribute to my experience of other beings through creative means.
  • Equality – I hold all beings as equal to myself with the recognition that they each have spirit, consciousness, intellect, wisdom, and emotion — even when their expression differs from my own. All beings are valuable by merely existing. All beings deserve respect. I actively work to shift my language to foster inclusivity among human and nonhuman beings alike.
  • Gratitude – I hold high the intricacy and beauty of life, even when it proposes an inconvenience to me. I express my gratitude to the land I occupy, and the beings I share it with.
Love Knot by Kali Adriantje

Of course, this is my pathway and my set of values. Defining them, for me, has brought a greater sense of peace and meaning to my life and all the encounters in the natural world that I have been blessed with (I have several stories that I’ll share down the road), deepening my sense of connection to my world. Your values may look a little or maybe a lot different, but I would encourage you to take a look at them and try to define them clearly for yourself. The truth is we are all here on the Earth doing the best we can to live our lives. We all arrive at our understanding of life and the divine at different times and experience it in different ways. Regardless of these differences, I think we can agree that a life without connection is no better than an empty, obligatory handshake.


I have been in a constant cycle of huge life changes for nearly two years now, not the least of which has involved moving multiple times. Because of the utter pain in the nethers that is the precursor to the actual moving, I have been doing my best to consistently pare down my belongings.

It isn’t that I have a problem with having stuff — humans are stuff havers. We love to create beautiful spaces, surrounding ourselves with things that hold meaning in our respective lives. My problem is having stuff for the sake of having it, and letting it just sit in a box or collect dust, no longer being used or enjoyed. It gets forgotten, sometimes broken, sometimes chewed on by mice, and it takes up precious space. I have had to get ruthless in my giving away, selling off, and just straight pitching of things that no longer have a meaningful place in my life, or that, even though I enjoy them, could be better enjoyed by someone I love. It isn’t always an easy process, but once I get past the initial hemming and hawing, I find myself joyful on the whole in moving forward, and I find that I am not missing those things at all.

Since I made the decision to jump states last winter, I have been at it again. Aside from the fact that I have pared down a great deal already, what has made this round of moving so much easier for me than previous times is a lesson I took from a robin this past spring. I was sitting outside taking a break from packing, watching this cute little bird hunting for food with a downy feather poking out from her breast. Watching her started me thinking about the necessity of preening, molting, and shedding in wild animals; and what might happen to a bird if, for whatever reason, it refused to preen itself. 

Preening is a daily, sometimes even hourly practice in the bird world, and is primarily a matter of survival. As amazing as feathers are — enabling flight, providing insulation, and waterproofing — they break down over time, and must be repaired or completely culled. If a bird were to refuse this process, clinging to its favorite feathers as we do our stuff, the feathers would get filthy and matted — stuck together by the detritus of their daily meals, not to mention the meals of yesterday. They would struggle to fly, and would become more susceptible to predators. Given that nests are lined and insulated with precious downy feathers, the bird might find it challenging to properly care for their young, that is, if they could attract a mate at all. New, fully formed feathers would push into the matted mess, causing more discomfort and dysfunction in the life of the bird.

Preening has become a potent metaphor for me in respect to letting things go. It is both an internal, emotional process and a physical catharsis that leads me to a greater sense of self and a knowledge of what I am capable of. If I wish to fly, I must be willing to care for myself in this way. The active removal of things that don’t work for me anymore creates space for more — more beauty, more love, more life, more connection.

Thank you for spending time with me today!

In Gratitude and Love,


The Velveteen Rabbit Hole

In 1932, Douglas Herrick went hunting with his brother, hoping to snare a jackrabbit. When they returned, the jackrabbit carcass was laid next to some antlers, and thus the jackalope was born. And Douglas, Wyoming was forever changed.

This story, although just a snapshot, inspired the creation of Anthony, pictured here.

So why am I talking about and painting jackalopes?

Recently, during a visioning/energy healing session, a jackalope showed up. I laughed at first, a little thrown off by the appearance of an American made myth, but I now think he came in to talk about how stories shape us and how we see the world. 

Stories are important. They are carriers of culture, identity, and metaphorical truths. Every country, community, family, and individual has their own that convey to those looking in exactly who they are. Stories can do great things — offering beautiful perspectives and guidelines for living, and they can also do greatly damaging things — like when we spread untruths about others, or when we hang on to tales about ourselves that aren’t true.

Stories can empower, and they can disempower. 

We can get stuck inside old family tales (as in “that’s the way I was raised”), and we can get stuck inside our own heads (as in “everyone is judging me,” “no one likes me,” “this always happens to me,” etc.). It is vital that we be willing to look deeply at those we tell ourselves and shift them where necessary. We absolutely can control the narratives we ingest and those we project to the world. 

Look at little Douglas, Wyoming, population 6,120. What started as a gag has become a huge tourist attraction for the little town, now known as “Home of the Jackalope,” where they hold an annual jackalope festival and issue thousands of jackalope hunting licenses every year during jackalope hunting season. The season lasts only one day — June 31. (Yes, you read that correctly!)

Great for Douglas, not so great for jackrabbits and deer, but the point is, they literally changed their story, and created a claim to fame in the process, not to mention an entire mythology. This is actually really powerful! 

*Note: It is preferable you create a story that doesn’t needlessly harm other beings in the process. 

By creating the jackalope (which arguably already existed in some form beforehand), they gave life and personification to a concept. Children are great at this. Watch the way they personify the world around them. They give a soul to just about everything they touch! The way they interact with their environments is pure poetry.

This got me thinking about The Velveteen Rabbit. Actually, I thought about that story a while ago during a discussion with one of my teachers, Cyrene. I had been trying to figure out a way to tie it in with another blog I was working on, and it didn’t work. Tonight, as I showed Anthony to a friend, she said he reminded her of The Velveteen Rabbit, and lo, there was the connector!!

Earlier in the year, I was reading a text about animism which drew a correlation between animist thought and the thought patterns of young children. I had a bit of a “chicken vs. egg” question: is it that animism is merely “primitive thought,” or; is it that our natural proclivity is toward animism, and children are just absolute naturals? I remembered myself as a child, assigning spirit to everything around me — including my stuffed animals. This made them very difficult to part with when the time came, even into adulthood. I really feel it’s just inherently within us to desire connection with our surrounding world, even the objects we use. Animism is a natural answer.

The Velveteen Rabbit was a toy so beloved, he was made real. Of course, since the book is kind of from the rabbit’s perspective, he had already achieved personhood by simply having been created. But he didn’t know this. How could he? His purpose had already been assigned to him — he was a toy, nothing more. That was the story he told himself, and that was the story he was told.

I want to be clear — I am not saying that if he had only believed in himself he would have been hopping around with other bunnies sooner… (wait, am I?) I am saying that, simply by the act of having consciousness (I think therefore I am-ish), he was already real.

I think this is where we come back to just how important stories are. The Velveteen Rabbit didn’t think himself enough until he was out chewing real clover, but the truth is that he provided great joy and comfort to the boy long before he had hoppity legs. His purpose was far greater than “just a toy.”

And the jackalope — a story created in silliness brought to life by all who participate in the gag, and a very present visitor in a healing session.

You may very well have isms assigned to you by birth, but only you get to decide who you are. If your internal stories are harmful to you or to others, you get to change them, and I highly recommend it.