God is not Santa Claus

God is not Santa Claus

Woman in red dress facing the sunset with her arms raised high
There is no seeking God without finding myself.

What if every single day of your life you woke up in the morning with the absolute power to make your life easier, more tolerable? Maybe even better and more enjoyable? Wouldn’t you take it? To me, that is what God is: the daily choice to live as if. To live as if love was the deepest influence in my life, to live as if meaning was embedded in everything that happens, to live as if I have power over myself and choose to do wonderful things with it. 

Many people who know me, know my commitment to human rights, know of my love for all beings, are surprised to find out about my strong relationship with Life, the Goddess, and all things Spirit. This is because they are used to a God that has taken too much airtime over the past few centuries – the bearded dude in the sky that is tracking your every move like a perv and that is not a whole lot of fun. So they can’t imagine me being close buddies with that one. And they are right, I’m not. But I’m besties with a Life Force that is constantly hooking me up in life – which does NOT mean she’s like Santa Claus. 

Folks disappointed with religion and spiritual life tell me that they can’t believe in God given the state of the world. “If God was all powerful then why is the world so messed up?” Part of the problem with accessing spiritual power is that many folks have been taught about a God that has been colonized, stratified, and removed from daily life. In my practice, there is no God “out there” without Her being in here. There is no seeking God without finding myself. There is no sin other than the ways in which I still need to surrender to Life herself and what she’s teaching me. But many people would like their God to be like Santa Claus: does no wrong, knows all of our wishes, and makes them come true. What if instead of Santa Claus, you understood God as the Mystery, the Life Force, the Source? 

If you expect a Santa Claus of a God, you will most certainly be disappointed. I would be too. Looking around the world it is so obvious that there is no omnipotent being making sure justice prevails. In fact, it seems quite the opposite. Bullies at the global level get away with despicable acts, the natural world continues to be destroyed with seemingly very little each of us as individuals can do, and, in just plain English, shit is fucked.

The fuckedupness of the world is real, and it is something that I work on transforming and alleviating every day of my life. But I don’t believe that humans do horrible things because there is no God. I believe we do horrible things because that is part of human nature. I believe in free will AND in destiny. I believe in the inherent goodness of people AND in our boundless ability to do harm to each other. I believe that paradox is Life’s organizing principle, and the fact that we have messy, painful, unfair lives doesn’t mean that they are devoid of Spirit. It means that they are human lives on Earth. For me, when I make a choice in the morning to act as if there is Love all around me, life gets better. God can be as simple as that. But if you expect a Santa Claus of a God, yeah, then there is definitely no such thing, and be ready for disappointment.

Welcome to Another World

Welcome to Another World

Elisa Loncón, a 58 year old Mapuche woman, was elected on July 4 to be the president of the Constitutional Convention – the group of people who will be writing a new Constitution for Chile over the next 9 months. Ms Loncón is an academic specializing in linguistics, she speaks Mapudungún, Spanish, and English, and is in the faculty of the University of Santiago. Damn. She’s amazing.

Her acceptance speech was short and the most transformative thing I’ve heard this year – she talked about refounding Chile. Three times. actually, the third time she just said “found”, straight up. I counted them because it was so powerful to hear. She didn’t have to explain it, as a linguist, she is excellent with her word choice. What we have isn’t working, how about we start over? But she did explain it, just in case, for the people in the back who never tend to get the message, and what she had to say was profoundly inspiring. There is no way I can do it justice, and because I couldn’t find a version of it in English on the interwebs, I decided that sharing with you my translation was the best I could do. Just have a read and tell me she’s wrong. Tell me it can’t be done. Tell me there’s no other way. I dare you. 

(Greetings brothers and sisters)

(Greetings to all the people)

(Greetings to the country of Chile)

(Greetings to the people who live in the northern lands)

(Greetings to the people who live in Patagonia)

(Greetings to the people who live on the islands)

(Greetings to the people who live on the coast)

(Greetings to all, brothers and sisters)

A big greeting to the people of Chile from the north to Patagonia, from the lafken, the sea, to the mountain range; on the islands, to all the people of Chile who are watching and listening to us. Here we are pu lamngen, to thank the support of the different coalitions that gave us their trust, that placed their dreams in the call made by the Mapuche Nation to vote for a Mapuche person, a woman, to change the history of this country. 

We are very happy for this strength that they give us, but this strength is for all the people of Chile, for all sectors, for all regions, for all peoples and original nations that accompany us, for their organizations, for everyone. This greeting and gratitude is also for sexual diversity, this greeting is also for the women who walked against any system of domination, to thank that this time we are installing here a plural way of being plural, a democratic way of being, a participatory way of being. 

This Convention that today I have to preside over will transform Chile into a plurinational Chile, into an intercultural Chile, into a Chile that does not violate the rights of women, the rights of caregivers, into a Chile that cares for Mother Earth, into a Chile that cleans the waters, into a Chile free from all domination. A special greeting to the Mapuche lamngen of Wallmapu, this is a dream of our ancestors, this dream comes true today. 

It is possible, sisters and brothers, companions, to refound this Chile, to establish a new relationship between the Mapuche people and all the nations that make up this country. In this context, pu lamngen, this is the first sign that this Convention is going to be participatory. We, as indigenous peoples, established that it is going to be a rotating leadership, a collective leadership, which would give space to all sectors of society represented here. All together, pu lamngen, we are going to refound this Chile. 

We have to expand democracy, we have to expand participation, we have to summon every corner of Chile to be part of this process. The Convention must be a participatory and transparent process, so that they can see us from the last corner of our territory and hear us in our native languages ​​that have been postponed for all that the Chilean Nation-State has been. For the rights of our original nations, for the rights of the regions, for the rights of Mother Earth, for the right to water, for the rights of women and for the rights of our children.

I also want to express my solidarity with the other peoples who suffer. We have heard on television what has happened to the indigenous children of Canada, it is shameful how colonialism has assaulted and attacked the future of the original nations. We, brothers and sisters, are a people of solidarity. 

I want to thank here the original authority of the Mapuche people, Machi Francisca Linconao, for her support. I also have a mother who is watching me from my Lefweluan community, a mother who made it possible for this woman to be here. Thanks to all the women who fight for the future of their sons and daughters. Finally, send a greeting to the boys and girls who are listening to us, who are watching us. 

Today a new plural, multilingual Chile is founded, with all cultures, with all peoples, with women and with territories, that is our dream to write a New Constitution. 

Manum pu lamngen
(Thank you brothers and sisters)

Marichiweu! Marichiweu! Marichiweu!
(Ten times we will win, ten times we will win, ten times we will win)

President of the Constitutional Convention

The Magic is Back

The Magic is Back

Neoliberalism was born and dies in Chile

It was never really gone, but it is now front and center, proud, visible. Not hiding. Taking it’s righteous place.

I’m talking about what happened last weekend in Chile. After 30 years of a democracy that didn’t feel inclusive, equitable, diverse, or fair – a direct result of Chile being the first lab in the terrifying neoliberal experiment that prioritizes things over people, people are changing things. And they are not changing them a little bit, on the edges, in the periphery, with apologies. No, no, no, no siree, this time we are changing things deeply, transformatively, from the ground up.

I am talking about the first ever modern nation state that has agreed to write a brand spanking new Constitution, crafted by the first ever democratically chosen group of 155 people that embodies gender equity, diversity, and thank Goddess, left leaning tendencies. And by left leaning I mean an understanding that we are all in this together, and that government can and should serve the people. I mean left leaning as opposed to “If you don’t have money, tough shit” which is the more common right leaning approach. That’s all I mean for these purposes.

Even a short few years ago, the idea of creating a Constitution sounded absurd. “You can’t just rewrite the most basic document of governance in a country!” Oh yeah, hold my drink, why the hell not? If it’s not serving the people, if it’s corrupt, if it’s hurting us, TEAR THE MOFO DOWN!!!! When I was young, the most infuriating thing I would hear about why progress couldn’t happen in Chile was that some ideas were “unconstitutional”, and I’m like, “Yeah but a dictator wrote the Constitution (not quite, but basically), so can’t we just get rid of those bits?” And I would be met with eyerolls and sighs of “poor baby – no entiende nada.”

Anyway, time went by, and “all of a sudden”, after 30 years of trying to tweak things and try social and political change by any and all means possible, Chileans realized that there’s no way to eat a turd that will make it taste good. We need to get an actual meal. In October of 2019, a “social outburst” aka estallido social, began (you can read my writing about it here and here) and ended with a democratic referendum for the country to go through a process to write a new Constitution. But not just any ol’ Constitution, a Constitution to be written by a Constitutional Assembly of real everyday people that actually represent their peers, not a bunch of corrupt career politicians. 

Once the referendum took place (which had to be delayed due to the pandemic), EIGHTY percent of Chileans who voted expressed their desire for a new constitution written for and by their fellow countryfolk. Those 155 people were elected last weekend and they now have 9 months – the same time it takes to create a new life) to deliver the document. They may be able to get a one time only extension of 3 months, which means that in a year we should have a new Constitution that then will be taken to the polls for a Yes or No referendum. 

And who’s in charge of this massive job of writing a new Constitution? By the numbers:

  • 77 women and 78 men
  • 60 lawyers
  • 45 years old on average
  • 41% under 39 years of age
  • ⅔ quorum needed, meaning that consensus building will be necessary and no one will be able to impose their views without negotiation, collaboration, or compromise.
  • 17 are representatives of Indigenous people. 

How this will all turn out, we will not know for another year. This is what we do know: what we’ve been doing until now has been failing miserably. The fact that the first place that was subjected to the neoliberal model is the first place to take radical action to reject it, and embrace an open, democratic, and fair process to try something new, is poetry. I also don’t think it’s an accident. Chile has had it with this because we’ve been putting up with it for the longest. May the transformation that we are engaged in lead us to a better tomorrow, may it inspire other nations, may it center Life and Love and Human Rights. I have no doubt it will.

So mote it be.

Rites of passage as limits and boundaries

Rites of passage as limits and boundaries

Left: Billie Eilish age 17, right: Billie Eilish for Vogue interview age 19

I like to think that back in the day, before the industrial revolution, when an infected tooth could kill us cause we didn’t have antibiotics yet, ritual was a more explicit and clear part of our lives. If you’re into anthropology, ethnography or even sociology, you might have read about all the different rites that announce a life, demark childhood from adulthood, how care of elders differs from other types of care, how death can be accepted and processed in many different ways – and us witches maintain that how we do any and all of these things has a big impact on the quality of our earthly lives.

Take Billie Eilish, for example. She is a 19 year old ridiculously talented musician who became absurdly famous as a teenager – read, as a child. Being a public persona, all her fans and the media follow her every move, and she chose a baggy clothing style as her trademark so people wouldn’t comment on her body or give her shit of any type. This is both brilliant on her part, and demoralizing and depressing that she had to hide her body as defense from nameless assholes who feel entitled to having opinions about women’s bodies. 

Anyway, she grew up in the public eye and just this month she is on the cover of Vogue magazine in what are considered traditionally super sexy and provocative clothes: lingerie, corsets, high heels, stockings, the works. Most of her fans love the look, a few feel she “sold out”, most people aware of such celebrity comings and going have an opinion. 

My opinion is this: I love that this 19 year old young woman chose to scream to the world, with her look and style, “I’m a sexy grown-ass woman”, and that she didn’t do it at 17. I think she probably would have done it at 18 but the pandemic and all, so who knows. Her Vogue cover leaves no doubt about the fact that she is choosing a very specific look, with very specific connotations, that are appropriate for an adult and not a child. 

And while the difference between 17 and 18 may not be that much, and it may be that at those ages humans are already mostly grown, and probably super sexually charged, it is important that we draw the line somewhere. Why? Because we can’t be protecting young ones from older predators on an individual basis. While sexual consent is a whole nother topic, it is important that as a society we agree that it is not available until children are grown ups, and that the limit of childhood, the boundary of adulthood, occurs at 18 years of age. 

This doesn’t mean that you are fully grown and won’t continue to mature after 18, it just means that before then, you are a kid, and you deserve our love and care and protection as a child. And that after 18, you are free to run wild and trash your life or thrive, as you see fit.

My gut reaction to Billie Eilish’s new look was that of “OK, she gets to do whatever the hell she wants now that she is a woman. Glad that she shared with the world such an explicit memo”.  When younger media personalities are sexualized, it’s confusing and dangerous for all involved. I super apprecite the clarity of the boundary this photo shoot as rite of passage communicates. It is now clear to all that Billie Eilish is no longer a child, and this has been communicated at an appropriate time. How refreshing! May we all find the rites of passage we need for all stages of our lives.

On Transforming Toxic Relationships

On Transforming Toxic Relationships

Paradox is Life’s Organizing Principle


Not that long ago, I was in a relationship that was not good for me. It was not good for me before I left it, but I guess I had to stay for as long as I stayed to make sure that it wasn’t gonna get any better, that I wasn’t gonna regret having “given up too soon” or not “given it a chance”. Whatever, that was not the greatest idea, as I stayed through “extra” suffering…but I also believe that we are always exactly where we need to be and that the timing of Life is always precise. I think most grown women can identify with having been in such a situation at some point.

What happened is that I was expecting the other person to be different than they were. They said they wanted to be different, so I stuck around for a bit to see if that was true. It may have been true that they wanted to make a change, but the change never came. So I left.

This broke my heart in a gazillion pieces so small that my heart turned back to stardust. A slight breeze blew and scattered it all over the globe, and I thought I’d never get it back. Never is a long time and I’m happy to report that my heart is whole and full and it really didn’t take that long. I was able to not just recover fully but get to an emotional, spiritual, and physical place that was beyond where I had ever been before. I did this mostly through magic, and the loving support of a solid community.

I wanted to share that story in the context of what we’re going through socio-politically in the world at the moment. We are in relationship with a story that is not good for us. That story is the patriarchal, misogynistic, white supremacist, neoliberal capitalist system that claims Male over Female, White over every other race, Industrialized West over Global South, Straight over LGBTQ, Cisnormativity over Transgender, etc… and Money over everything else. And we do have power over changing our relationship with it.

Let me explain.

First, a reminder that paradox is the organizing principle of Life, and that powerful witches are super comfortable with this concept. Because some of what I’m gonna tell you doesn’t make sense at first read, but please hang with me. 

If we think that the current system is gonna change, we are gonna wait a long ass time for our liberation. If we understand that it is what it is, and that we need to change, we can be free right now. I changed my shitty relationship by leaving it. I wanted the other person to change, and when I realized that was not gonna be a thing, I changed by walking away and creating a whole new better situation for myself. 

That was hard as fuck. I was in love, I had already invested a long time in this relationship, I had all kinds of beautiful visions for a future together that I had to let go of. It really shredded me to pieces. But the reality was that what I wanted for my life was never gonna happen in that relationship. So it had to end.

Now…it’s not that easy to walk away from an entire society that is based in toxic, abusive, exploitative, unfair, and harmful practices and ideas and rules that really fuck up our lives. I’m not suggesting to go off the grid and grow your own food and not interact with the industrialized west at all, although more power to you if you do that.

What I am suggesting is that WE change and in turn change our relationship to the system, and force the system to change. Unlike my ex who gets to choose who they are and has their own agency, the current society we live in is in fact changeable, because WE are it. The paradox is that while we are just nodes in a network, and no matter how much we want to change the patterns of the network, we are stuck by structural constraints, the structure itself is changed by the relationships between the nodes. In other words: structural racism starts to change when the relationships between the people that uphold it start to change. This is why protesting works: the people let the powers that be know that we are no longer here for their fuckery, and put pressure on them until things start to shift, and then keep going until the change sticks (and as dismal as things are, they have changed and they can and do get better).

Another example: women have been getting abused for thousands of years, but most recently (and not for the first time), the courage and power of the #MeToo movement has started shifting things. Women changed from being silent to being able to organize and speak up. The paradox of this view is that I am not suggesting that things are shitty because “we choose” to be in a shitty situation. Hell no. We’ve ALL being brainwashed by millennia of a rotten way of thinking that really got out of control a little over 500 years ago and that by now is finally crumbling under its own weight. It’s not like women are getting harassed and abused because they’re not speaking up about it, they are getting harassed and abused because harassers and abusers are doing it. It’s the harassers and abusers fault and responsibility. But as women, it is also our responsibility, as we are ready and able, to change ourselves and speak out and organize and demand better.

So the paradox I’m inviting you to ponder is the idea that we can’t change the world, and yet we are the only thing that’s gonna change it. As you work on yourself and grow and evolve, don’t forget to think about your part in growing and evolving our society. And as you vote, organize, protest, write letters, pressure your congress people, do whatever you do to make a change for us all, don’t forget yourself. If you are not well, none of us can be fully well. If you are not healthy, none of us can be fully healthy. If you are not happy, none of us can be fully happy. Enjoying the fuck out of this life is your birthright and your political responsibility. Take it seriously and go have yourself a fabulous day.



Why Go Back to the US?

Why Go Back to the US?

The beaches in Australia are the best in the world

On May 15, 2020, I posted on social media: THREE years ago today I moved back to SF from Australia. I cannot believe I’m gonna say this but it was absolutely the right thing to do for me in every way, except that now I live in the US. Loving friends on both sides of the ocean expressed their congratulations or condolences – or both.  Because I am so freaking excited and grateful to be in the US, and it is a total dump these days, both are true.

And then a friend solved my “what should I write about this week” when she requested: Please write an article about this. I need to understand why people go back to the US who could live in Australia [or insert other country of your choice]; what it’s been like, highs and lows.

For the first 18 years of my life, I lived in Santiago de Chile, and I moved to Ithaca NY to go to college and ended up staying in a town the size of a well-attended concert in Santiago for the next 10 years. Why I left Chile for the US is another long story, but let me say it was 1993 and the “idea” of the US was still alive and well. The US was a huge economic superpower, its cultural imperialism had seeped deep into the brains of people around the globe, and the “American way” and the “American dream” with justice for all seemed enticing, if not almost believable.

In 2003 I finally came home to San Francisco. SF has always been a mythical place in my heart and in most people’s imagination. Its physical beauty is undeniable, it’s relatively small and livable, it’s the freak capital of the universe which was the main appeal for me. Are you a total weirdo who doesn’t fit in anywhere? Come to SF! Witches, gays, activists, artists, tech mavericks, gold diggers and more have all found refuge and space for their soul in the city by the Bay. Like that – Bay capitalized, always capitalized in my mind.

But in 2011 I moved to Australia. First, it was my brother’s idea, he was living there and we hadn’t lived in the same landmass in 21 years and something about the idea of being close seemed compelling. He suggested it on a whim and I kinda pondered it for 2 seconds when a magical chain of serendipities made it happen for me in 90 days flat, so I just went for it. 

Sunset and moonrise over St Kilda, Melbourne

But the main reason I went for it in the first place, was that I was burnt out on the US. I smelled the insane fascist shit show we’re living through now a mile away and needed a reprieve from it. After 9-11, life had become more blatantly oppressive in the US and that freaked me out – it was the exact opposite of what it was meant  to be. I remember taking a trip back to SF from San Jose de Costa Rica when my mom (traveling with a Chilean passport), my brother (traveling with an Australian passport) and myself (traveling with a US passport) freaked the shit out of the American Airlines staff dealing with our paperwork because they couldn’t understand that this family had different nationalities and they would all be allowed to legally enter to the US and the experience wasn’t pleasant to put it mildly and I just thought to myself “Fuck these assholes, I gotta get out of here”.

Eighteen months later I was living in Melbourne. And five and a half years later, I’d be back in SF. 

My experience in Australia was pure magic. I traveled the entire country, went to the northernmost tip of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, dove the Reef three times, drank decaf flat whites in Melbourne for two and a half years or so, worked on my tan in Sydney for two and a half years give or take, enjoyed the most beautiful beaches in the world, made a host of incredible friends, did unbelievable work with incredible comrades (shout out to The Wilderness Society and Greenpeace International), attempted to surf in Bondi enough times to buy Rio, a surfboard I still own, taught magic in a place sadly devoid of witches, lived with a beautiful young man for a decent while, tried to get into the idea of being a “morning person” like the rest of the country and failed miserably, had the privilege of spending time with my niece during the first five years of her life, was the opening female speaker at Occupy Melbourne, got to see Midnight Oil at my corner bar…and was profoundly bored and kinda depressed.

Australia is super socially conservative. People are not open to outsiders. Folks live very beautiful, calm, safe, predictable, vanilla lives. There’s really not that much going on. Not much political discourse. Not much live music. Sydney is like that town in Footloose, for those of you old enough to get the reference. The nightlife is pathetic. I just found it painfully boring. And it’s racist AF.

On this last point: the US is profoundly racist – and it knows it. In California, I’m part of a community of people of color who think and work and dream ways to transform this white supremacy. In Australia, I felt like possibly the only one who wanted to talk about it, except for Aboriginal folks, but there wasn’t a large enough number of like-minded people for me to feel at home. In the Bay, it’s totally OK to be actively working to create and sustain new infrastructures of being that are whole and healthy, it’s encouraged to model courage, it’s acceptable to talk about the end of the neo-liberal, patriarchal, capitalist experiment that benefits a whole 1%, and even that is debatable cause how we are measuring those folks wellbeing looks only at money, which as we know is only a part of a way more complex equation. In Australia, these conversations are consistently met with discomfort and awkwardness. It vibed like the US in the 50’s to me. 

This was down the street from my place!!!

So when I turned 40, and realized that I really did wanna settle down at home, and that Sydney would never be home, and that if I was going to be cold in Melbourne I might as well be cold in San Francisco. And then, on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, I was walking down 24th St in the Mission and I heard in my head “Girl, where do you wanna be when the Zombie Apocalypse hits? Cause it just hit”. And so I went back to Sydney, sorted out my life and came back to SF exactly three years ago on May 15.

I made it back on time to dance the Carnaval, which I don’t think would have ever happened in Australia (fun times are heavily segregated by age and I’m pretty old in Oz while only a full grown up in SF, haha). I dove heavily into the work of dreaming the world anew. I believe SF to be the bellwether for global innovation. The current level of inequality in this town doesn’t let me sleep at night, and forces me to check my work against it every day. I think if we can do something about it here, maybe we can elsewhere as well. Same with democratic processes, racism, human rights, and all the things I care about.

The city is overpriced, overrun by techbros, gentrified, and dirty. And yet, I can’t find another place in the world where I feel more at home. And, to answer my friend’s question, I’m not sure to what extent I came back to the US, as much as I came home to SF. FWIW.