Soul Places

Befriending the Soul through Inquiry and Creativity

Tag: thoughts

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



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

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.

Invent National Day of Noble Silence

Journal entry, June 9, 2011:  I have an idea!  I want to:

Go on a trail ride
Skydive solo
Communicate with animals
Have conversations that invite the soul
Travel Europe, Africa, South America
Abolish resistance, embrace creativity and put it in a pill
Toss the TV
Stop protecting abusers
Invent National Day of Noble Silence
Tell people not to water their lawn in the middle of the day – or ever
Befriend a child
Teach Zero Point Agreement in schools – and the Five Agreements too.  Why not?

 I shared this list with a group of friends last week and the National Day of Noble Silence drew lots of gasps and cheers.  I’m not even sure how it ended up on the list since I don’t know that much about it.  It must have been inspired by a daylong meditation retreat I participated in around that time.  During this retreat I practiced mindful eating at lunch, mindful walking from point A to point B and no conversation with each other between meditations.  In addition to those things, a Day of Noble Silence would include no eye contact, no TV or radio and awareness of every movement you make and thought you have.  Basically it’s a day arranged for just you and the voices in your head.  Sound like fun?

I thought so when I did it.  I stopped eating when I was full because I paid attention to every bite.  I scratched my nose because it itched, not because I felt awkward in a group and needed to make an unconscious gesture to unconsciously reveal my discomfort.  There was no pressure to make small talk at lunch.  I brought my unconscious thoughts to my attention and realized why I’d been feeling so pent up lately.  I left with a whole new appreciation for myself.

Naturally, I began to daydream about what a National Day of Noble Silence would look like.  Would you answer the phone at work if it fell on a workday?  Would you even go to work?  Maybe it would become a paid holiday.  Brilliant!  What better way to nourish and refresh employees?  How awkward would it be though, not to talk to your partner or roommate, not even making eye contact as you pass in the kitchen?  Would the grocery stores have to close for this day or could we manage the checkout lane without eye contact or speaking?  What about my animals?  Can I still pet them and smile at them?  No cell phones seem obvious but what about Facebook and email?

I’m sure someone would figure out how many billions of dollars in commerce would be lost this day and it would never be given a second thought.  But I think the tradeoff in emotional and spiritual commerce would be worth it.  What do you think?  Can we do it?

Make your own idea list and go for at least one of them.  I ended up going on the trail ride.

There’s a Tennis Match in My Skull

I took my twelve-year-old Golden Retriever, Dallas, to the veterinarian last week.  He has been experiencing mysterious little twitching attacks over the last few months that recently became more frequent and worrisome.  He wears the cutest, curious-puppy-dog face when it happens, as if to say, “what’s going on?” but there is nothing cute about these fits.  His body is getting older, arthritic, grey and has begun to confuse his youthful soul.

A thorough exam and lengthy conversation with Dr. Arnett at Waunakee Veterinary Clinic narrowed us down to hypothyroidism or a tick borne disease.  With his knack for explaining things in layperson terms, Dr. Arnett gifted me with a life lesson to ponder.  He said, “Perhaps these puzzling symptoms are the new normal for Dallas.  All things considered, he is a very healthy twelve-year-old dog.”  As much as I wanted to reject that theory, I knew there might be some truth to it.

My Beloved Dallas

We opted for the thyroid test first as the symptoms seemed to point most earnestly in that direction.  Dallas is at the lowest range of normal, but given his past super-athlete lifestyle, I suspected that this ‘low range of normal’ is actually his version of below normal.  More tests were recommended to help narrow down what is actually causing the low thyroid results.  As my husband and I continue to explore options for Dallas, I cannot get the conversation about “new normal” out of my head.

I am in my mid-thirties now and my body definitely doesn’t behave like it used to.  Nothing alarming, but enough change to perk my own ears and tilt my head in curiosity at.  What if these subtle nuances are my new normal?  Of course, I emphatically dismiss that inkling, wanting things to be the way they always were.  But when the wave of denial passes, I consider this notion again:  when do I stop searching for a ‘cure’ and accept the changes as the ‘new normal?’

By no means am I giving up on Dallas or myself; I intend to pursue my due diligence, all the while entertaining the questions: “Is this body or symptom my new normal?  Are these unusual tremors Dallas’ new normal?” As you read this, dear friend, those questions continue to bounce off the rigid walls of my skull like the tennis ball in a Wimbledon match.  With appreciation for a questioning mind, I will watch this match develop; returning the wicked serves as best I can while seeking a return to normal or accepting the new normal.

The Moon’s Canvas

I have an affinity for the moon.  Perhaps it is because I am a Pisces, a water sign, and the moon controls the water like a marionette directs the puppet.  Perhaps it is because I am a fair skinned strawberry blonde and the sun makes me cringe and retreat to the shelter of a shade tree as though I may spontaneously combust with too much fire exposure.  Perhaps it is because the moon casts the subtlest shadows in the deep of night, encouraging child-like exploration.  Whatever the reason, I found myself seeking the moonlight more than usual this past full moon cycle.


Every night for the week leading up to and following the climax of the full moon, I drove to the farm where I board my horses.  My faithful, gray-muzzled Golden Retriever, Dallas, accompanied me in the back seat with his head hanging out the window.  Faintly illuminated by the moon, I see his loose lips and eyelids flapping in the cool breeze.


With feed bucket slung over my arm we embark on our nightly quest for moon cast shadows.  Tree branches rub together in the wind making creaking sounds reminiscent of ancient hinges on a door someone forgot to latch.  The hum of night creatures accompanies us with their own curiosity in tow.  We follow the trail up the hill as I call quietly for my equine friends.  Emerging first from the shadows each night is my twenty year old companion, Handsome, in search of his nightly meal.


As he munches and sighs under the magnificent oak trees, four more horses materialize to become the perfect blank canvas for the moonlight.  My other horse, Joey, comes the closest and stands with Handsome, Dallas and I in the serene embrace of night.  I begin tracing with my fingertips the shadows of the trees on Joey’s body.  He tolerates this for a time and then maneuvers his powerful hindquarters in a way that says quite clearly: “Scratch here.  Right now!”


“Joey, I’m trying to have a moment here,” I laugh at him, losing my place on his canvas and then obligingly begin to relieve his itches.  Walking mindfully among the herd I note the different patterns cast on their bodies by the shimmer of the full moon.  The muted light does not balk at the obstacles of trees, animals and weeds as it makes its way to its final destination.  It simply stops and illuminates whatever objects come between it and earth.


How do I balk at the light life gives me?  Do I allow the light to fall where it may or do I find myself wanting a different experience?  Can I too be the moon’s blank canvas?  And what would that look like?  I open my journal to a blank page and respond.