December 1, 2014

As the crickets' soft autumn hum...


Oak Tree, Petaluma California

November 29, 2014

As the crickets' soft autumn hum
is to us
so are we to the trees
as are they
to the rocks and the hills.
~Gary Snyder 


November 22, 2014

Rock Found At Bean Hollow/Pebble Beach


This stone is the most sacred relic in my home.

To this day, I'm astonished that I found such an immaculately sculpted rock, not sculpted by human hands but by the sea, the elements. At the time, the word "animism" had not even entered my purview, but I knew in my heart that spirit was at work here and that this rock had something to remind me. This rock, and all rocks, as inanimate as they seem, are of spirit. So are the waters, the winds and fires. Everything Is Alive. Everything.

I made this picture in 1999 with a Hasselblad Camera, in an altered state, during a lunar eclipse.

November 12, 2014

Zero Gravity- Black & Photography by Norm Halm


It was so fun to find this slideshow I made a few years ago but never published. It contains selections of my black and white photography from three portfolios that I started work on over 22 years ago… It's now apparent that I was an animist, pantheist, pagan before it even occurred to me to use such words to describe my worldview…



October 7, 2014

Before You Go To Sleep...

Photography and design by Norm Halm 

All three volumes in the horror series
Before You Go To Sleep by Jeremiah Phin
are now available together in this single collection.


Purchase your copy here:

September 24, 2014

The Goddess is in the Dirt by Erick DuPree


Sheep's Head Peninsula
County Cork, Ireland
Photo by Norm Halm ©2014


This article first appeared in the column Alone In Her Presence on Patheos.com, and is republished here with permission.
© 2014 Erick DuPree

When I look out into the world, what I see beyond the horizon of humanity’s need is Earth Mother. She is the precious jewel that is ever luminous even when she frightens. What might it be like had the Charge of the Goddess started with, “Listen to the words of the Great Mother, Who of old was called Earth Mother, Mother Nature, Stone Mother, Dream Giver, Soothing River, Steadfast Tree, Gentle Breeze and by many other names”? What if we truly allowed ourself to lean into that? To the primordial Goddess who is all Goddess, She who is Earth with her many faces, ever generative?

One of the faces of Earth I consider most resplendent is during a hurricane. Whereas many fear the potential of destruction, with winds howling, there was (and still is) for me an immense comfort. I remember being eight years old, and watching wide eyed the giant tree in my backyard completely uproot and crash though my neighbor’s house. It was terrifyingly awesome, the sheer ferocity. The storm had a fieriness that once it passed through became a stillness unparalleled by anything else I’ve known. I often have thought that life is like that hurricane, and we are the trees. It seems the more limber trees move with the wind, yet the seemingly rigid-rooted don’t always fare so well.

For years, I heard the Christian expression to ‘lean on God’ in times of struggle, strife, and turmoil. But for many, and for centuries, that God isn’t or wasn’t an option. What if there was another option? What if we leaned on Earth and instead of the cup of salvation that Christianity offers, we sought to nurture the healing vessel of a Earth Mother? 

Earth Mother is the primal and supreme deity of the ancient world, the oldest and most universally worshiped entity known. For thousands of years, before there were any male gods, there was The Goddess, and Her devotion was observed and held. There are a lot of theories around matriarchal prehistory, exactly what it was and was not, yet what is accepted as known is that Earth as generative Mother was held in esteem.

From history, she is known by many names, from Pachamama to IxChel. Her indigenous and aboriginal face takes on many transcendent names. She is the commonly named Goddesses like Isis and Lakshmi, and when we trace her ancestry, they all seem to dwell in earth. This primordial Earth Mother is both darkness and light, and her devotion is the reconciliation of all. She is the creatrix that continues to build upon Herself. Destruction (like in the hurricane) is part of the natural cycle as night follows day, and we accept it with grace as Her ultimate gift; when we are born, our first inhale is on Her exhale, and when we return, She inhales our last breath. She that flows in, among, and around is Earth Mother; the Goddess in the Dirt! This is the all-encompassing energy of life itself, her womb the vessel from where all energy pours into creation. Her all-devouring mouth is the vessel through which all matter is consumed to be reborn. In swirling patterns of pure love, she ignites, becoming the Star Goddess of whom Starhawk writes, “alone and awesome, complete within herself.”

The Goddess is Earth, and She is you. She is Earth Mother. She is not abstract or a mystical metaphor, but rather the giant rocks that spring forth from the soil. She is the wind and the soft caresses and the howl. She is not “in our heads” as consciousness or an archetype. We can wade in her waters by the sea and be soothed in her rich earth. Her body is of substance as material as is our own. All Goddess, All Earth, All Earth Mother.

There is a belief among indigenous peoples that “We walk lightly on the bosom of the Earth Mother.” In the chaos of busy lives, I find that we often forget that immanent love surrounds us and is as close as the dirt at our feet. This dirt, rich in nutrient, is the body of a single vast living being–Earth Mother. This is the fertile crescent where we can find the vessel of our most sacred self. Here we are invited to observe. Maybe it is the lesson of the pliant trees in the hurricane. Maybe the lesson is in the cultivation of sacredness. And maybe it is as simple as sitting ourselves down in the dirt for a moment of breath. Earth Mother invites us to experience an unfolding of a self that is capable of manifesting the lives we want to live. When we touch the dirt, we are awakening to consciousness.

It is this consciousness that is interdependent cultivation to build our life’s great work. This is the place where we return, the earth as a vessel. In weeks to come, this column will explore how to manifest a relationship with Earth Mother and invite the mysteries that continue to unfold. How can the Goddess who is all Goddess realign our lives and bring us into greater peace, harmony, and communion with the deep ecosystem that for centuries has always been spinning love? It starts with touching the dirt.

September 9, 2014

Homecoming

Attention horror fans! Homecoming, the third and final installment of author Jeremiah Phin's harrowing short story series Before You Go To Sleep, is now available on Amazon!


Photography and Design by Norm Halm

A young man returning to his family's old house unknowingly awakens something there; a reporter covering a serial killer's trial finds the story getting too close to his own life; and the final letters of a writer who has seen too much in New Orleans.... The final volume in a collection of creepy "bedtime" stories brings back those bumps in the night, all those uncomfortable creeping things that still live in the shadowy places which, despite our best efforts, won't be ignored.

Purchase your copy here:

September 6, 2014

The Water Of My Life

I know why the soft animal of my body loves what it loves*


Moonrise Over Gaylor Peak
Upper Gaylor Lake, Yosemite National Park
The Gaylor Lakes, with their pretty streams and stark lands, are on the eastern edge of the Tuolumne River watershed which provides drinking water for the city of San Francisco, held at the Hetch Hetchy reservoir at Yosemite National Park.

Seventeen years of living in California, and I still had not been to Yosemite until last weekend. When I got there, I felt an instant familiarity and bond to the land. It was as if I already have a memory of this place being like home. They were not memories like thoughts, images or words… it was memory known in my body.

It's strange because usually when I go to a new place, engaging with the land's spirit is sort of like a first date experience. I don't come on too strong. I feel out as we go whether or not my spiritual engagement is welcome. Humans have an egregious record of doing terrible things to the land, and some places are dubious about our intentions. Some spirits of the land have retreated far beyond our purview… I have felt this message in some places, "You are still one of them, we don't care how spiritual you think you are. Let us alone, human.  Just let us be." And I've also enjoyed being joyously welcomed by a place as a long lost son. Those are extremes, but most experiences are pretty neutral and every place is unique. Since I choose to be a healer of the land and not an aggressor, I let that place decide whether I move forward or go away. I always respect any boundaries admonished.

"How do I already know you?" I asked. And the answer was… "Through the Water that makes you."

The waters of this land are the same waters that have nourished my body for many years. I have literally been taking the memory of this land into my body- as its memory is stored in the water I take from my tap everyday. These are the waters of my life and I remember and honor my place in the sacred order. I know why there is a deep love for Yosemite in my body. And Hetch Hetchy, the Tuolumne River and its watershed.

* The above "the soft animal of my body" is a reference to the poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Middle Gaylor Lake, Yosemite National Park

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting  
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

Wild Geese










August 22, 2014

What Is Baneful, As Utter Beauty...


I looked and looked and this I came to see: 
That what I thought was you and you, 
Was really me and me.
~Unknown
Spilt Oil, Rainwater 


“THE ULTIMATE METAPHYSICAL SECRET, if we dare state it so simply, is that there are no boundaries in the universe. Boundaries are illusions, products not of reality but of the way we map and edit reality. And while it is fine to map out the territory, it is fatal to confuse the two...

As simple as that sounds, it is nevertheless extremely difficult to adequately discuss no-boundary awareness or nondual consciousness. This is because our language — the medium in which all verbal discussion must float — is a language of boundaries. As we have seen, words and symbols and thoughts themselves are actually nothing but boundaries, for whenever you think or use a word or name, you are already creating boundaries. Even to say "reality is no-boundary awareness" is still to create a distinction between boundaries and no-boundary! So we have to keep in mind the great difficulty involved with dualistic language. That "reality is no-boundary" is true enough, provided we remember that no-boundary awareness is a direct, immediate, and nonverbal awareness, and not a mere philosophical theory. It is for these reasons that the mystic-sages stress that reality lies beyond names and forms, words and thoughts, divisions and boundaries. Beyond all boundaries lies the real world of Suchness, the Void, the Dharmakaya, Tao, Brahman, the Godhead. And in the world of suchness, there is neither good nor bad, saint nor sinner, birth nor death, for in the world of suchness there are no boundaries.” ~Ken Wilber, No Boundary 

March 28, 2014

The Numinous




The Numinous. It is the most brilliant, brightest light and it is the deepest, darkest depths. It's the subtle hum of the entire Universe, at first most recognizable in the beings like ourselves~ the animals. But then too, if looking with the heart, the plants we are also. And the inanimate rocks. The land, the rivers, the mountains, seas and winds. And the discarnate. What Grace in me, inherent in the very atoms vibrating, composing my own body; calls me to remember this kinship. 




nu·mi·nous [noo-muh-nuhs, nyoo-] adjective
1. of, pertaining to, or like a numen; spiritual or supernatural.
2. surpassing comprehension or understanding; mysterious: that element in artistic expression that remains numinous.
3. arousing one's elevated feelings of duty, honor, loyalty, etc.: a benevolent and numinous paternity.
Origin:  1640–50;  < Latin nūmin-  (stem of nūmen ) numen + -ous


nu·men [noo-min, nyoo-] 
noun, plural nu·mi·na [noo-muh-nuh, nyoo-]
divine power or spirit; a deity, especially one presiding locally or believed to inhabit a particular object.

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014. 


numen  (ˈnjuːmɛn) n  , pl -mina
1. (esp in ancient Roman religion) a deity or spirit presiding over a thing or place
2. a guiding principle, force, or spirit

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 

March 19, 2014

Foreign Object~

The latest collection of short stories from author Jeremiah Phin's horror series Before You Go To Sleep is now available!



Photography and design by Norm Halm.


Available at Amazon:


February 10, 2014

Because one day, I won't be able to...


Barely a month and a half into 2014 and 6 friends or acquaintances have died.
Not just in the last six weeks, but before now and beyond, everyday for me there is a practice:



When I eat food, I say to myself, "Delicious! I feel so glad to be alive!" because, you know, one day I'll be dead and I won't be able to.

When I feel the sun (or clouds) and the moonlight on my face, I conjure a surge of joy and gratitude in my body because one day... I won't be able to.

When I drink the waters or feel it on my skin, I'm so glad to be alive because one day... I won't be able to.

When I have sex, I'm pretty damn happy! Because one day... I won't be able to.

When I inhale the air deeply into my lungs on purpose, I feel so glad to be alive because one day... I won't be able to.

When I exercise my body, even when I know it will be sore the next day, I am so grateful because one day... I won't be able to.

When I hold my partner's hand, I purposely manifest an upwelling of Love in my body and pass it on to him. Because, you know, one day... I won't be able to. (Chances are, if I'm hugging you, I'm doing this then too. Also always towards plants, animals and other spirits.)

Everyday.


One day, this body of mine will stop pulsing and then disintegrate back into disparate bits of earth. So now, even when things are shitty. Even when I'm frustrated, have too many other things to do or I'm thinking too much about some unimportant thing, I make sure to create moments like the ones listed above; deeply aware of being alive in the present. Feeling the emotions fully and taking responsibility for them & my words and actions too. Gratitude for the entire thing; All That Is. The "good" and the "bad", within and without, above and below, the light and the dark. Every. Single. Day. Because I just don't know, maybe tomorrow or maybe 70 years from now, but one day I won't be able to do any of it anymore, ever again. Blessed Be. 

While loss does make me sad, death itself is not a sad event to me. It's simply what we do; we live, we die. It's not helpful to dread or fear it, because that's really to dread and fear life itself. Life and death are one and the same and it's going to happen either way. It's beautiful even. In the end, death levels the playing field; we are all going to do it. And no matter how much we do or don't acquire; no matter how loudly or quietly we affect the world, no matter how well or poorly we treat each other, no matter how fearfully or lovingly we live our days and nights, no matter how many people remember us, or forget, we all go to the same place in the end.