Soul Places

Befriending the Soul through Inquiry and Creativity

Tag: musings

Steeping in a Tea of Magic



I used this phrase for the first time over a month ago: steeping in a tea of magic.  I couldn’t describe the feelings I felt of being so grounded and peaceful any better than that.  And these were new, exciting feelings for me to have for any length of time.  Usually I vacillate between “just surviving” and “depression” with a tiny, barely-worth-mentioning dash of adventure thrown in there.  So when these lighter feelings started to stick around, I paid attention.

As some of you may know, Handsome, my horse companion of over twenty years passed away in February.  That experience and transformation on both our parts changed me forever.  Still changes me.  I like to give him all the credit for the gifts he gave me in living as well as dying, but I had an important role too.  I had to be present to the pain and torment I felt in his last months and days.  But most importantly I had to be present to his message and gift of a love so huge, it chokes me up even now.  We prayed for a miracle and it came two days before he died.  He led me to a place where I transcended everything I thought I knew about my life.  My heart broke wide open and I knew we would always be together, just differently.

That’s when I began to steep in a tea of magic.  Our experience two days before he died lit the fire that warmed my tea water.

My mourning began the boil.

And my life as I now know it, is steeping.  And may steep indefinitely.

But what about this phrase, with its magic and steeping?  I liked it well enough.  It felt magical.  Intangible.  Mystical.  Like setting foot on the planet of my life for the first time.  But why did I like this phrase so much?  Why did it capture so well exactly what I now felt?  I turned to the dictionary:

Steep – verb – 1. to soak in water or other liquid, as to soften, cleanse, or extract some constituent. 2. to immerse in or saturate or imbue with some pervading, absorbing, or stupefying influence or agency.

Oh yes!  I was all those things!  Softened in heart.  Cleansed by so many tears.  Illusions extracted.  And then imbued, impregnated, with the magic of potential.  How can one word both remove and saturate?  I became stupefied, all right!  And more whole than I’ve ever been – a process I hope to continue with indefinitely.

I look forward to continuing this steep for a long time.  Handsome is forever close, real and strong.  The magic I feel is real and strong and now.  It’s indescribable without cliches; so I won’t even try.  I leave you with a clink of our tea cups and a prayer that you find your own tea of magic to steep in.

Blessings and Smiles, Diane

Handsome and Diane

Handsome and Diane


What I Miss

The Roiling, Boiling Upper Iowa River, Decorah, IA.  Copyright Diane Ludeking 2013

The Roiling, Boiling Upper Iowa River, Decorah, IA. Copyright Diane Ludeking 2013

I miss the coyotes.
Her voices,
by the walls
that hold the roof
above me,
become clear
like spring water at its source
when I step into the night.
I miss the coyotes.
Her joyful cries
turned desperate
by men
with rifles
and grins.
I miss the coyotes.
Her predatory tension,
now absent,
becomes a void
in the night sky,
an empty den,
at-ease horses,
pleasant pheasants
and reposeful rabbits.
I miss the snow when it melts.
I miss the floods when they recede.
I miss the trees consumed by progress.
I miss the coyotes.
I miss the way I never used to miss things.


What do you miss?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

I miss you, Reader, Friend & Journeyer.  I miss writing.

It has been almost six months (wow, that’s a long time considering I used to blog every week) since I have met you here.  I think I’m ready to get back to it.  Maybe not every week yet, but I’m ready to be back.

I took the time off to be with my ailing cat and horse.  Both have since passed.

I look forward to a regular rendezvous with you here again.  Blessings, Diane

These Sugary Words

Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

The words, the words, the words.

The words are full of sugar.

These sugary words

fix my cravings

for chocolate and ice cream.

These sugary words

bred from crispy kale

and green smoothies

and cheese.

Sweet and true and scrumptious,

these sugary words

defy gravity.

Leave me hanging


with views from outer space

a planet so strange and distant.

These sugary words

attract four eagles

and tears.

Two eagles remain

to circle and circle

to partake of

my sugary words

and give me more.

These sugary words exclaim

Welcome back!

as they slip away

behind the trees.

What Mysteries Await

Horse chestnuts
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

I discovered these exquisite gems a few weeks ago at a Women and Girl’s Night Out event.  Thirty women and girls gathered on a chilly, windy autumn evening to raise our voices together in song around fire.  Six of us stayed overnight, snuggling up in our sleeping bags out of the wind in a cabin with bunks.  After our morning closing celebration, three of us went for a walk to the swinging bridge nearby.  As we began our walk, I noticed hundreds of horse chestnuts strewn about the trail.  I met these nuts for the first time the night before, but to find them myself in the daylight tickled me like a girl in a horse barn.  How is it that I’ve never seen these before in my lifetime?  What other mysteries are out there awaiting my gaze?

Horse chestnuts
Photo credit Wikipedia

What Mysteries Await
by Diane Ludeking
Lime pufferfish
turns brown
Falls away
Fine mahogany,
delicate cherry wood,
supple leather
I wear.
White chocolate
nutty meat
My own sweet
What flavor is your mystery
Would you be angry-looking
if I were angrily looking?
Would you be sad-looking
if I were sadly looking?
You are innocent-looking
because I innocently look.

Horse chestnut
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012


Swinging Bridge Destination
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012


Vulture Medicine

Vulture Cave
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

It’s International Vulture Awareness Day (September 1, 2012)! Up until a few months ago, I never gave Vulture much thought, although I see them more since moving to NE Iowa ten months ago.  The bluffs offer protection, plenty of food and community for them.

What changed my mind was an intense encounter with Vulture a few months ago.

I had wandered through the woods in search of a spring and stream, but instead entered the lair of about eight vultures who quickly took flight only twenty feet above me.  I heard them first.  The sound of a few small breaking twigs met my ears as their wings brushed through the heavily wooded area they called home base.  I froze.  My eyes went instinctually from the task of picking a way through the dense forest floor to the trees above and before me.

And then I felt the air around me pulse as their wings displaced it with the effort of flight.  Vulture’s magnificent presence reached me in waves.  I felt a vibration run through me, raising hairs on my arms and lowering my temperature as my blood fell to my feet.  A chill went through me.  I opened my mouth, but my exclamation was silent.

Once I no longer heard them and was no longer frozen by the grips of their trance, I continued forward.  I found the stream bed, bone dry in this summer’s drought.  I walked over the chalky white stones in my barefoot shoes, imagining cold spring water rushing about my ankles.  Dark brown feathers were scattered haphazardly about, covered in scat.  That is when I noticed the white stones had been baptized by Vulture.  I paused just then to take in the magnitude of life here.

Their dark feathers every few feet also accentuated the fragile grey bones strewn about.  I felt like a trespasser.

Sacred things happened here, past and present.  I bowed to the unknown and then lifted my eyes to take in the shear rock cliff to my right, hidden behind ancient trees.  A large opening in the cliff drew me in.  I heard a faint drip from within and below the back wall of the cave.  The drips spaced too far apart were the only evidence of a struggling spring.

I left that place reluctantly.

When I got home, I reached for Animal Speak by Ted Andrews to read about the vulture.  Vulture is more brilliant that I ever imagined.  I recommend the book if you don’t have it as what I’m about to share about Vulture is what resonated with me.  Vulture may speak differently to you, but this is what I found most profound (paraphrasing):

  • Vulture can soar for hours in the thermals, assisting those with this totem to work with energy and auras.  It demonstrates how to use little to no energy while soaring.
  • Vulture has one of the most important ecological roles because it consumes dead carcasses and “recycles” potential disease into one of the most potent anti-bacterial solutions in nature – its excrement!  It reminds me of purification and renewal.
  • It’s circling patterns in the sky remind me of patterns in my life and in the earth’s life.  It reminds me to be effortless in exploring my own patterns and allow nature to do the same.
  • Vulture is often misunderstood.  It reminds me to remain true to myself and my gifts.  I am more important than I know.  I have impact just as I am.

I wish I had the book with me to share more, but alas, the intrigued seeker will find.  Please share your thoughts in the comments – I yearn for your words.

Go forth and resonate with Vulture in your own way today and everyday.

Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012


Beloved Steeds
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2009

A fleshy bone
for later
Lost for years
beneath weeds
by more weeds
Wading across the cold
spring-fed stream
A beloved horse attached
to a lead rope in each hand
They remind her
it is here
Beneath weeds
on the far shore
She mounts one steed
ponies the other
Walks into
her universe
and yawns

Seaweed Forest and Flying

The forest's version of seaweed. Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

I’ve been running past this cluster of wooden things several times a week for the last month.  Today I finally stopped to take a picture.  And twenty more throughout my run.  So much for keeping my heart rate up, but I knew this day would come.  The day when I could no longer just pass these things by without capturing them more permanently.  And considering the way my mind tweaks things with its vapid recall, I also knew my imagination would distort the heck out of these.  But don’t they look like the forest’s version of seaweed?  The way they wave without moving?  The way they beg me to swim through them instead of run around them?

I confess, my inner child is on the move these days.  And why not let her play?  These beautiful cool spring days exist for a limited time.  Before long the bugs will drive me wild, causing flailing and cursing at the air around me as I also try to maintain my awesome barefoot running form.  An occasional slap of my flesh will reveal my own blood drawn from a mosquito I’ve now killed.  But until then, let the child free!

Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

Today she is grateful for her freedom but also takes time to encourage contemplation of the punitive action parents take when they ground their kids.  I don’t have kids and have never been grounded, but is it meant to be like a pilot without wings – grounded?  I don’t know if that’s where it came from, but it sure sounds about right.  I’ve seen the face of a child being grounded and it looked a lot like the wind had been taken out from under his wings.  Grounded.

If you were ever grounded as a child, make time today to fly and dedicate it to the child within you.  Running makes me feel like I’m flying.  So does horseback riding.  What makes you feel like you are flying?  Will you do it today?  I am interested in knowing what makes you fly – please share it in the comments.

Life Lessons from Buddha-pop, Part One

Sodapop, aka "Buddha-pop" and "Sodi-Wan-Kenobi"

I was not looking for a life lesson when I let my cat outside a few days ago.  But Sodapop did not earn the nicknames Buddha-pop and Sodi-Wan-Kenobi by becoming a victim to his life experiences.

Sodapop is mostly an indoor cat with daggers for claws who loves his outdoor escapades.  Now that we live in the country again, he asks politely to come with the dog and me to feed the horses.  Some days he doesn’t ask and just darts out the door.  He must suspect the answer would be no these days so he just makes a run for it.

The last time we lived in the country, he impressed my husband and I by swatting birds out of the air and dragging home a rabbit of equal mass by the jugular.  Witnessing the circle of life makes me anxious because something must always die in order for the other to survive.  My gentle heart knows this circle is necessary, but it doesn’t make the experience of witnessing something suffer and die any easier.

Two-bit "Can I go to Budapest too?"

I’ve known that Sodapop, unlike his twin brother Two-bit, must express his animal nature.  Don’t get me wrong, if a mouse were to cross Two-bit’s path, he would surely play with it, torture it and then bring the carcass to me as a gift.  He just doesn’t have the drive of Soda to go looking for such things in the great outdoors.

This particular day I let Soda outside while I mixed horse feed in the basement.  By the time the dog and I joined him outside, he was nowhere to be seen.  Probably up a tree somewhere.  Too bad I missed that, I thought.  I love to watch him sprint across the yard, ears pinned, voraciousness in his eyes, as he focuses all his attention and energy on conquering that tree.

There were several “farm” cats milling about, but no Soda.  I’ve been working on releasing my fears of letting him be a cat, so I had convinced myself not to worry about him interacting with these cats as he is way tougher than any of them.

Until Big Bad Tom showed up.

Arriving with Awe

There is nothing that cuts you down to size like coming to some strange and marvelous place where no one even stops to notice that you stare about you.” Richard Adams, Watership Down

Have I mentioned yet that I rather fancy this book?  It was recommended to me a few years ago by a passing acquaintance.   Having no rapport with this person, I can only surmise that I was desperate for some good book titles.  I wrote it down and bought it shortly thereafter.  It then sat on my bookshelf until a week ago when I decided it was time to open it.  I find myself in a strange and marvelous place in the midst of this most unique story.

Among the red-edged pages of the original 1972 copy I hold in my hands, are the strangest of heroes.  This book reminds me of the thrill of adventure and the innocence in arriving someplace new.  I wonder at the smallness of being me and the grandness of what I have not yet experienced.  I often arrive with awe at beautiful, new physical locations, but I am increasingly arriving at new internal frontiers where the only one that notices me staring about is myself.

Eyeball to Eyeball

Handsome the Teacher

Across the wide forehead in the chiseled face of my beloved Arabian horse are a few white hairs hiding under his thick, black forelock.  Autumn has bestowed Handsome with the beginnings of a multipurpose, fuzzy winter coat.  With his nose buried in his feed bucket, he mischievously and cautiously looks about, eyes just above the rim of his worn, purple pail.  He is cautious of the other herd members milling about, a constant source of competition for food.  The mischievous glances are for me.

A while ago I shared my amazement, jealously really, at a spiritual sister’s ability to receive loud, clear responses to her prayers.  She said simply, “I ask that Spirit speaks loud as I am largely deaf.”  She is not deaf in the physical world, but apparently she is in the spiritual world.  My only proof that this worked was her bewildering results.  I thought I’d give it a whirl.

A few days ago I shared with Handsome my desire to hear him.  I requested that he speak loudly as it is my wish to have a more intimate relationship with him.  He fills his bucket with sighs that signal his understanding, echoing off the walls of his pail and floating up to my ears.  The next day I am sitting on the ground with his bucket between my legs.  Over the last month, he’s taken to flinging his food out of the pail, sending me into brief attacks of panic and defeat.  There is medicine and other expensive supplements in there.  “Please don’t waste it,” I find myself pleading with him.

Today he flings his food most determinedly and then puts his oily, intense eyeball inches from mine.

Stops chewing.

And waits.

In the first breath I think, “you defiant shit!”  And in the next breath I feel something shift.  I soften as I return his gaze.  We are frozen in time.  Immemorial.  Our souls embrace like long lost friends and I feel like we are transported to another space in time.  I am in his world now, the spirit world.  The place I’m meant to live while here on earth, a more connected universal plane where words are more of a distraction than a mode of communication.  Sounds dreamy.  And it is.

Be here with me.”  Is his message.

He is so right.  My mind had wandered to what I was going to do when I got home, what I was going to right about in my next blog, what was for lunch.  I was with him physically as he ate, but my mind was elsewhere.  He had spoken loudly to me and I got it.  Now I look forward to our eyeball-to-eyeball time, our soul-to-soul time.  Handsome is an amazing teacher, intense and perfect.