Reclamation of the Soul
Copyright © 2017 by Franciscus Siobhan Nicolaou
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Absence of Evil/ Siobhan Nicolaou. —1st ed.
I. Starry Eyed
II. Die Hand Des Schicksals
III. A Rock Feels no Pain
IV. The Principles of Lust
V. Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground
VI. Dancing with Mrs. D
VII. Angels and Demons
Readings from Spirit
I dedicate this book with gratitude to the entire cast of
characters I created in this life to further the evolution of my
soul. My parents, siblings, ex-husbands, The Roman Catholic Church
and all the extras to whom I bow for the important roles you have
played in the production of my life the movie.
Sincerest appreciation for Archangel Michael, Yeshua Nazare,
Sathya Sai Baba, Mother Mary, Melchizedek, King Solomon, Abraham,
Enoch, Moses, my daughter Anastasia, Marcy Calhoun, Fredereka Farris,
Chief Golden Light Eagle, Joao de Deus and the Casa Dom Ignacio
Entities, and Sondra Sneed without whose love, joy and guidance I
would not know myself to be the truth of who
Special thanks to Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, and John D. Spooner for
your inspiration, generosity of spirit, and encouragement.
For those who see me as I once was… I have died and resurrected
a million times, it is but your eyes that have not.
—Siobhan Nicolaou, The Sword of Truth
This book is about my journey through the colorful
pages of my soul and how I emancipated my body, integrated my
emotions and freed my mind from the illusion of evil. Duality was my
own personal hell on earth for much of my life, and unlike other
modes of transformation, mine has taken place through the integration
of the emotional body as a means of changing the perceptions of my
mind, rarely the reverse.
The battlefield that was my childhood paved the
way without missing a brick to the loving embrace of a much grander
illusion. Leaving home at age fourteen, I steeped myself in a
stronger concoction for another thirteen years.
On this trickier level of the playing field I was
respected, protected, able to keep up with the dance, and smart
enough not get trampled under hoof. Unlike my home where darkness was
fed into my emotional body unknowingly and under the guise of love,
in my new world I picked up this bigger, sexier more alluring chalice
of greater power and drank deeply.
The taste of freedom found ironically in this new
type of bondage was seductive and delicious, and all I had felt about
myself as a child was validated in my experience. I consumed the
illusion, played in it, laughed in it, cried in it, lived it,
believed it, breathed it, slept with it, snorted it, supported it,
and loved it. Years later, when I changed the program, the real dance
In 1987 at the onset of the harmonic convergence,
my capacity for denial reached its limit and everything suddenly
turned the deepest shades of black. Given the choice to live or die,
I chose to live negotiating that life had to be different from what
it had been.
Awakening was inevitable, although not knowing
this, I reached for some answers in a new way trying to make any
sense of things. Attending a meditation class for the first time, I
opened the door of light within my mind and heart that revealed
something greater than the darkness I believed was life.
The only greater ecstasy than complete and utter bondage is the
complete and utter freedom from it.
—Siobhan Nicolaou, The Sword
The awareness of the light that lives within me,
and the pain that kept me feeling separate from experiencing it, put
me on my path to wholeness. My healing process set in motion
twenty-seven years of an intense production of shadow play
manifesting itself in hundreds of ways and in many disguises.
My divided mind tormented me until I integrated
enough illusion to come to the consciousness that any “evil” in
my experience is a reflection of my own inner demons. Demons became
real when I became aware of my light; until then I had nothing to
compare them to. In this new contrast my life became a fantastic
exploration of my emotional baggage on my journey to the truth within
the baggage itself.
Until the light, it seemed natural to live life in
drama and pain with a false sense of normalcy carved out of the
ingestion of society’s wine. For decades after my awakening, it
felt like the darkness and the light were battling over possession of
my soul. I have experienced countless dreams of the devil challenging
me, tempting me, teaching me, coaxing me, having sex with me,
threatening me, talking to me. Many times I woke sweaty and
breathless, yet always victorious tricking him and finding a way out.
As I evolved, I came to stand my ground moving among the demons
unheeded, protected by my entourage in and out of my dreams. Now I
stand as the light and compassion within and among them all.
To myself I am whole and I am love. To my siblings
I am an enigma. To the indoctrinated Catholic, I am Satan herself. To
those I help, I am an angel. To those who want to stay asleep, I am
their worst nightmare. To my lover, I am the deepest part of
themselves. To that which is darkness, I am the light of love aflame
within the essence of its unworthiness.
To Archangel Michael, I am a full time job. To my
Guardian Angel, I am way too hard on myself. To my Mother, I am
courageous. To my Father, I am a woman. To my daughter, I have
immense strength. To God, I Am That I Am.
My journey to wholeness has been a road of
unconventional stepping stones traveled without any help from
traditional therapy. It is the continual trip down the yellow brick
road of self examination that challenges me in every step saying “How
bad do you want it?" It is not a path for those of weak mind or
spirit. Freedom takes courage, commitment, and the desire to break
free from blame, projection, and the illusion of separation. It is
challenging, revealing, and most of all rewarding.
I have been judged in every way, by everyone, for
every move I have ever made on every level as I have turned my back
and made different choices for myself. I have walked away from what
everyone in my life from birth has told me is truth and learned to
Grief was my constant companion until I realized
nothing can be lost or left behind and that in the deaths of my many
loved ones, I grieved only a part of myself. There are no sacrifices
in life other than that of the ego, and I have lost nothing through
gaining the wisdom of my experience on the other side of my pain.
The only difference we are here to make is within
ourselves, where all conflict begins and ends. Our veils are the film
projected into the holographic creation of our life the movie. This
book is an offering of love and inspiration for those who hold
themselves and others in contempt consciously or unconsciously,
whether in the past or present. May this book inspire you to love
yourself above all, transmute and transform should you choose the
path of wholeness and a life lived consciously.
I am living proof that one can integrate their way
from any perceived level of darkness back to the source of light
within it. I know now that I am love, and that I am loved, and I am
at peace in the arms of my one, my all, my only self. It is only
through love that your true purpose is revealed.
While it is true that one’s perception must
shift to exact a complete change in consciousness, there is a great
deal of integration that takes place between awareness and lasting
transformation, and it all begins and ends in the emotional body.
Those who believe wholeness comes solely by way of mind will only
know half of the truth.
—Siobhan Nicolaou, The Sword of Truth
There is nothing in my childhood that can explain why or how I
have become who I AM. It is only through healing and transformation
that I have become that I AM, and even when I believe I have arrived
at who I think I AM to be, I AM given the option to become more or
more of the same. The key is love and knowing that who you are, and
who you were, are always in the process of becoming.
Nicolaou, The Sword of Truth
My parents were born in the 1930’s - a time when
ignorance was normal and consciousness was nil. They did not know who
they were outside of what they had been told by others, and raised me
from their limited wisdom and capacity to love.
Grandma’s Italian lineage took our roots from
Rome the long way to California via Madera then Hawaii where she was
born the last of eleven children. Grandma sang all the time, danced
ballroom and the hula well into her 70’s. She was feminine, full of
grace, faith and courage leaving my paternal grandfather while my
father was still a toddler in 1936. The man I embraced as my
Grandfather was a caring man that she met and married shortly after
her divorce, and she remained his wife for fifty years.
Grandpa was a foreman for US Steel working happily
for decades ensuring quality of life for his family. The only things
I knew about Dad’s youth was that he got in trouble for stealing
crates of tomatoes from trucks, he was a good athlete, and Father
Gregory was his mentor. Taken under Father Gregory’s wing at a
young and impressionable age, he became the father figure my dad
looked up to. His commitment to the priest derived from his
patriarchal conditioning, fueled my father’s disdain for the
feminine. They remained closest companions throughout the priest’s
ninety two years and traveled the world for decades on Vatican lira.
Mom’s German family had status in their East Bay
community. Oma Steinbeck was born in San Francisco, moved to the East
Bay when she was very young. The family owned a large meat company
there for forty-one years. My Opa was a very tall, huge-handed man
with a soft personality who died before I was born. Oma visited twice
in my childhood, and always stayed at a hotel. She walked upright
assisted by her cane, wore French lipstick and expensive face powder.
She was classy and smart, sad and beautiful. Tante Donna was tall,
shy and blue-eyed like my Opa, the opposite of my fair skinned,
black-haired boisterous mother, who had brown eyes like her maternal
Baptized Lutheran with a rebellious soul
determined to evolve, my mother at age fourteen proclaimed her
devotion to the Catholic faith and found herself placed in Catholic
boarding school through college. She met my father while he worked
the wood fire grill at a landmark diner in her East Bay town.
Stopping in for lunch, mom’s classy, sophisticated long lean looks
met with dad’s square jaw, olive skin, muscular build, and I
surmise chemistry took over from there. She married my father right
out of college, despite her parents disapproval and threats to disown
her for marrying an Italian who they viewed as beneath her station.
Marie was born eight months and twenty-four days
after the wedding, with Stephania a close second fifteen months
later. Two years passed and I was conceived on the current of my
parents' negative thought forms and emotions, on the tail of two lost
pregnancies. My nature as an empath absorbed everything through
feeling and the heaviness of the energy began veiling my soul. Then
there was Grandma …
Staring off into the sky with starry saucer eyes,
the adults around me bustled. The warm rays of the sun suffused my
face while the subtle scent of narcissus wafted through my playpen in
the early spring air. Five months old and not entirely in my form,
Grandmas’s playfulness captured my momentary attention. Her spirit
exuded celebration and beauty, her vibrance permeated my auric field
with la dolce vita. She was the motherly love I resonated
with, and we were very close until the moment she passed thirty-seven
Mom focused compulsively on daily chores, keeping
order about with three small children dutifully performing one task
after another. It was as if she made a pact with God that he would
reward her at the end of her life for agreeing to suffer all the way
and doing everything right. Children in those days were often
considered a Catholic duty, a daily duty, not a daily joy.
Six months later, we moved to another house where
my brother Matthew was born and fifteen months later Mark. The folks
went through the motions of life without forethought or reflection,
living a typical life like everybody else.
Known as a “good baby," it was my nature to
be floating happily in other worlds rather than caring to engage
those around me. My earliest memory of feeling the negative energy of
my surroundings was at eighteen months as I steadied myself on the
ottoman at Oma’s. Dad dragged Stephania by the arm as she resisted
his lead forcing her from one room to the next. The energy of fear
stirred the moment of peace that surrounded me, my throat constricted
and I let go, falling back on my behind. Stephania, imbalanced from
the time she was small, was challenging for my parents. Her condition
worsened yet went unacknowledged and untreated; she inflicted
physical and emotional pain on me throughout my childhood with hardly
a reprimand. My energy responded by closing down, finding it safer to
If you tell your mind to forget, it will, and when you tell it to
remember it will do that too.
—Siobhan Nicolaou, The Sword of
Die Hand Des
We never heard any intelligent dialogue or
observed any healthy solutions concerning the family problems between
my parents; democracy was absent in their militaristic style of
parenting. We were given no sense of value or voice and were never
encouraged to honor our body, mind, feelings or spirit.
By age three, mother’s chores and punishments
were enforced, and my toddler photos showed the weight of the
emotional blankets in the sadness of my large eyes. She collected and
typed her rules and regulations, organizing them in an old blue-green
cloth covered binder for everybody’s reference. There were chores
and bed times for every age group. My parents were also great at
making up punishments on the fly. Those never made it into the book,
but created the sticky substance later used to form the bricks with
which I built the walls around my heart.
Illusion was gaining momentum and preparing me to
join the ranks of Catholic school. Too young and too sensitive, I
entered first grade at age four; we lasted through the school year,
then moved for a third time.
The first of two houses we occupied for a two
short years in that rural mountain town was at the end of a gravel
driveway next door to Mrs. Taylor. Mrs. Taylor was a widow who had
white hair and big blue eyes. She took fondly to us, especially
Matthew, and gave us a Brach’s candy caramel wreath for Christmas.
Finding the flavor of raspberry particularly good, I searched for the
shiny purply label when it was my turn to pick. Our house had wood
and linoleum floors, our television screen had a green hue and sat on
metal stand in the living room. Army tanks were the images that I
retained from television at that time, along with the faces of Walter
Cronkite and Captain Kangaroo.
My earliest recollection of a dream was in this
house, a flying dream still so real.
my shadow glide over the gravel about 3 ft above the ground to the
end of the driveway, feeling the warmth of the summer sun on my back
and the arid heat emitting from the rocks below. I felt free, like
all was well and I was safe.
Waking to a different reality entirely, I did what
all kids do and covered up my feelings of stress with things that
looked playful. Manifesting my greatest fear again, we uprooted and
moved to a remote house that sat on a small hill overlooking an acre
lot at the end of a dirt road. The vegetable garden was the view out
the front window down the slope, with the chicken and duck coops
right along side. The back and side lots were grapevines, pine trees
and manzanita bushes as far as the eyes could see. My room, shared
with my sisters, had cold cement floors and with bunk beds and a
Not knowing how express myself, taught to be
quiet, my repressed anguish manifested as bladder and kidney
infections with alarming frequency. As this was wildly inconvenient
for my mother, her words felt like arrows when she targeted me with
the emotional brunt of her shame and disapproval. The folks never
addressed my sadness, or their actions or tried to figure out why I
was sick all the time, they only knew how to empower that there was
something wrong with me, and all of it was my fault.
One of the few times I remember my mom in a space
of peace was when she read us books each night before the lights went
out. I studied her face, watching her lips as she read with clarity
and expression. I noticed how her left front tooth ever so slightly
overlapped the right, and how her lipstick had faded into varying
shades by the end of a long day. She read us the Brothers Grimm (the
unabridged not really for kids version), Aesop’s Fables, nursery
rhymes and a multitude of stories that I still remember today.
Dad, never adopting the work ethic of his blue
collar family, didn’t seem to believe in himself enough to create
an economic solution to the ever increasing population of our family.
As he hopped in and out of sales jobs, they scraped together what
they could. The nuns from our parish brought us dinner on numerous
occasions, and with it came the feeling of poverty instead of a
memory of gratitude or prosperity. We bought groceries with food
stamps at times over an eight year period until finally dad kept the
same job for over a year.
There were five of us now with more moving parts
and personalities to control, so I guess mom and dad decided it would
build a stronger team if the pain were distributed more evenly. None
of us initially realized that a non-admission of guilt to the
question of “who did it” would bring us ALL to the belt, or the
paddle, but it did. We stuck with that plan, putting the weight of
the collective threat on the one singled out by the pack after all
had taken his / her beating. For a while we figured we should cover
each other’s asses and suffer as a unit because there was always
something wrong with something. We cried when mom and dad would try
to break us down to give each other up, and we learned to be strong
My eldest sister Marie, burdened with so much
responsibility, naturally heaped onto her pile the job to protect us
and find ways to improve things- mostly at her own expense. I held my
feelings under water until they drowned trying to carve a sense of
stability and security out of life.
Getting hurt happened frequently. Without many
regular toys, we were always coming up with whacky ways to stimulate
our young minds and satisfy our curiosities. As day was breaking on a
mild summer day, our slumber was interrupted by the commotion of
Marie waking dad as he scrambled to his feet and bolted outside.
Stephania, first on the scene, was holding up Matthew dangling from a
rope he had tied around his waist before jumping out of the tree
house. The only thing that seemed strange was noticing dad did not
wear pajamas to bed.
I received my first communion in second grade,
wore a white dress carrying a rosary, hands approvingly folded. Going
to confession saying, “forgive me father for I have sinned”
confused me not knowing what it really meant. Answering “no” to
the questions given by the priest, he would get more general as if he
had to find something. Feeling guilty and trying to do the right
thing, I made something up to feel worthy of the penance. I was given
a scapular and told to wear it like a press pass in case I should die
so St. Peter would know to let me in. Viewing it as ridiculous
through my six-year-old perception, and not completely convinced, I
forgot about it until one day it resurfaced on my closet floor and I
ground it under the ball of my foot just to see if anything would
Mom, now pregnant with Amanda, got us moving on
short notice to the wine country where she was born for a small
wrinkle in time. The flood came in December, and I watched dad
frantically stack the orange weave furniture and sandbag the doors.
We watched as the red wagon floated across our disheveled yard. Mom
got us organized, wrapped the baby and piled us into the Oldsmobile.
My eyes were glued to the swift moving water on the road out the car
window as we partially drifted to Oma’s in the East Bay. Oma had
beautiful things and a beautiful home. We ate cold cereal the one or
two days we were there, and a smile broke across my lips savoring the
Sugar Pops and gazing through the short, sheer, cheerful curtains out
the window of Oma’s breakfast nook.
In January, Mom made Marie fish-shaped birthday
cakes out of the Baker’s Coconut Book, and before she could blow
out the candles and get too excited, we felt the possibility of
another flood due to the torrential rain, putting a nervous damper on
the party. The saturation of the land yielded a forest of rhubarb
that grew alongside the fence that lined a cracked cement path on the
side of the house. Mom made strawberry rhubarb pie, making a lasting
impression on my post-toddler tastebuds. Dad hitched up the wagon
after the flood and moved us to higher ground back to the Nor Cal
pines and then the lower Sierra foothills to begin again.
Trying to soothe my emotions, I began chewing my
nails down to the quick. My aura, continually shredded by uncertainty
and trauma, stacked layers of emotion in various corners of my body
and mind. Chewing my nails to blood was quiet and oddly comforting as
the responsibilities of chores and family got heavier every year. My
two older sisters passed the frustration caused by stress down the
pecking order taking the form of verbal abuse, intimidation or brute
force if Stephania had something to impress upon me. The raising of
voices was more commonplace now and being older I was beginning to
hear my mother’s words in a different way.
Our new house in Folsom was over one hundred years
old and right above the main drag of the old west town. Some plants
from the Victorian era like sweet scented violets and string of
hearts were present in the garden. There was a huge fig and cherry
tree, red geraniums and more snails than I had ever seen. Mom would
send us out as her henchkint with small paper bags partially filled
with salt to kill them, to “do something constructive” as she
often said. There was a walk-in cellar with a few leftover canned
pickles in old glass jars still sitting on the cold damp narrow
shelf. The houses on neighboring streets had flowers planted along
the outside of the fences with pink lilies so fragrant that the scent
drifted sweetly for blocks in the soft clean air.
We kids slept upstairs in the dormitory divided by
a single center wall, and we all got new beds. Each one of us got an
official metal army cot, with US ARMY stenciled on it. It came
complete with a three inch mattress and a matching foot locker. We
were required to mitre the corners while making the bed, and mom
often bounced coins to see if the bedding was tight. Our beds were
stripped and remade every Saturday, and yard work was likely if the
weather was good. All chores were inspected before we could play, and
was very frustrating if I had to do something over. “doing it right
the first time” was impressed upon me and how I adapted to make
things easier on myself in one way and harder on myself in another.
Beginning third grade with my new uniform and
Campus Queen lunchbox gave me a glimmer of hope. I loved my lunch box
because Grandma gave it to me. It was pink, metal and created its own
microclimate, so my bologna sandwich was a failure by late afternoon.
I made peace with warm iceberg lettuce and the unique smell of hot
tin and brown apple that hit my nose when opening the lid. Good
mustard was my saving grace.
A small school, a small class with ominous
reflections in my classmates reinforced my feelings that life was
painful and most people in it hurt. I was depressed, always the
youngest, skinniest most sensitive child and did not develop
physically as the rest of the girls. Having the darkest skin in class
after swimming all summer didn’t help our relations either. Turning
the negative projections of those around me inward, I was beginning
to believe the inadequacy I felt. Turning seven years old and
overwhelmed, I cried my eyes out begging my mother to put me in
another school. Between my lips and her ears the words completely
vaporized; she looked at me expressionless, lit another Virginia Slim
and gave me the silent clue to carry on.
Mom pregnant once again this time with twins,
veered my adventurous spirit happily away from the house exploring
around our quiet Victorian neighborhood. The streets with no
sidewalks were shaded by humongous trees surrounding the mansions
that were just as big and just as old. Finding a bee hive in an old
hedge, I looked at it closely watching the bees go about their
business. My heart opened to the fuzzy tranquility of the honeybees.
Imprinting the hive with my olfactory sense to preserve my delightful
discovery, I picked up my steel horse from the dirt and pedaled home.
When the twins Sara and Luke were born, a baptism
followed within months of their arrival and Mom invited the clergy
over for coffee and cake at our house. Mom had towels called the
“priest towels” which we were never allowed to touch. The edges
of these special towels were thoughtfully crocheted, always folded
neatly and brought out only when the priests came over. Sent to the
bathroom to wash my hands before cake, I hastily reached to dry my
hands almost touching the towels of “holier than thou." I
could feel my mother’s words like a spell on those towels and
momentarily retracted my hands. Standing alone, hands wet, I chose to
err on the side of caution and wiped my hands on the towel of nothing
special. Relieved having let myself off the hook, I ducked out trying
to mask the feeling of guilt for having the thought.
Manifesting allergies far worse than before, the
energy held in my heart turned into asthma. Asthma became part of my
experience after I encountered my first spirit with everyone
dismissing it as my imagination. My attacks were sometimes fierce and
scared the hell out of me when I was unable to breathe. Beside myself
with terror and sadness, I tried to block my sensitivities
A scratch test soon revealed I was allergic to
darned near everything. Cigarette smoke, chalk dust, dogs, dust,
cats, milk, and tree pollens of all kinds. My respiratory system,
irritated by paint fumes and other harsh chemicals, sent me to
Grandma’s when dad had to paint. Mom and Dad continued to smoke and
bought a dog they named Otto Edward Leopold Von Bismark Schönhausen
for dramatic effect. We called him Biz for short. The joy of a pet
was clouded by the burden he became to all of us kids who were given
the responsibility for his care, and he lasted about eight months.
A Rock Feels no Pain
Fourth grade came at the time when schools did
away with old math and I flunked with a capital F. Sister Augusta
meant well and had such horribly buck teeth that it was distracting.
Her saliva would foam as she struggled to form words through her
protruding teeth. Coupled with my deep sense of hopelessness, I
called it a wash and kept trudging forward trying not to stare.
Stephania was becoming more angry and aggressive
at home, managing to extinguish any sparkle that lingered in the air.
Mom, in response, added more rules and punishments using dad as her
enforcer. Exercising our muscles of rebellion, we would cuss because
it was forbidden. If we got caught, we had to scream our words high
from the back porch in my mother’s effort to reinforce shame. From
the depths of my throat, I bellowed for the whole world to hear; but
the words fell mostly flat on the deafened ears of Mrs. Mendez who
lived next door.
Mrs. Mendez was a great woman with a house full of
warm memories of those who had gone before her. The house had the
original well on the screened-in back porch, boarded up since the
dawn of pipes and plumbing. Like another grandmother, she taught me
how to play card games like casino while we ate persimmon cookies on
the front porch. She had a parlor with a fireplace and old photos of
older times on the mantle. She wore a house dress with an apron, and
always had a cloth hanky. She gifted us continually with an abundance
of citrus, pomegranates and other great things from her garden’s
bounty. The laughs we shared echoed in my heart across her shaded
front porch down the short stone path to the gate of her white picket
fence. Her laughter was intoxicating and inspiring, always lending a
lift and a sense of comfort to know she was right next door.
My creativity expanded beyond paint by numbers,
water colors and spirograph, when I met an artist on Main St. who
offered to give me art lessons. Art led me to the discovery of my
soul showing me the abundance of it’s brightest colors. Carol
Mathis had a studio / gallery on Main St. She was the daughter of a
famous artist, George Mathis, known for his lithographs of the gold
rush days in Eldorado County. Carol was real and down to earth, wore
cowboy boots, smoked cigarettes and created all day.
In the morning when mom put me out like the cat, I
wandered down and hung out with her even if I had no class that day.
I spent hours honing my water color skills, painting pen and ink
drawings of various types of exotic mushrooms. Carol taught me the
skill and art of using pen and ink which quickly became a favorite,
and showed me how to use charcoal, pencil and oil pastels. Carol was
magic with everything. She walked around and picked up any medium
creating something spontaneous and spectacular. The smell of rubber
cement still lingers in my mind when I imagine her affixing colored
tissue paper to create layered cities and landscapes.
Business hours on Main St. were unpredictable
except for a cafe or two, and no one was ever in a real hurry.
Various types of “out to lunch” signs hung in the proprietors’
windows while they shuffled in and out of the saloon for afternoon
breaks. If time had moved any slower, tumble weeds would have formed
in my mind’s eye and rolled past horses tethered to hitching posts,
slapping flies with their tails. Carol introduced me to another Main
St. artist named Spence (over a bourbon old fashioned and a Roy
Rodgers at the saloon) whose medium was oil paints. Visiting his
gallery was euphoric, and the smell of oil paint mixed with
turpentine brought me to the sensuality of the palette.
Spence put paint to canvas from sun up beyond sun
down, and no doubt in his sleep. Quietly I watched him squeeze the
silky paint onto the palette, announcing, each color by name as he
mixed them to create other colors.
Many paintings hung in his gallery, but one stood
out in particular. Mostly orange, red and gold, the devil stood in
the foreground leaning back, smiling diabolically, watching a
launched warhead rise through the clouds in the near distance. It was
a huge conversation piece and one for silent contemplation. Spence
paid me to model for a class on Wednesday nights, and I felt a ray of
worthiness in his friendship.
Forming a sense of individuality and beginning to
develop into the creative soul I was divinely intended to be, my new
sense of self threatened those around me. I learned to keep myself
small so others felt better about themselves and left me alone.
Making it home at dusk, skipping up the alley with smiles in my
heart, I would shut myself down before entering my house. Pausing for
a deep breath, I closed my heart and bowed my head. With my joy
completely suffocated I turned the handle and stepped through the
Unsuccessful in relating to kids my own age, I
continued connecting with the adults around me instead. They were not
mean spirited and were much more interesting. Conversation topics
included travel, and theorizing of all sorts which opened my mind to
new and inspiring thoughts. Activities became more artistic,
creative, soul connecting and I began learning so much about things
of real interest to me.
Sister Loretta, my fifth and sixth grade teacher
was an amazing soul. She truly loved her vocation, and her alignment
with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit spilled over into the many
ways she made learning fun. She designed learning stations for us
with headphones and other cool things you rarely saw in Catholic
school. She was smart, resourceful and way ahead of her time. I was
impressed that she constructed the Q&A board with alligator clips
attached to the ends of wires. We touched them to the button heads of
the paper fasteners, lighting a red or a green light indicating a
right or wrong answer. Sister Loretta’s class was my first look
into my soul’s history, teaching me in depth about the only thing
in school that ever moved me enough to pay attention.
Learning the ancient history of the Romans,
Greeks, Egyptians, Sumerians, Canaanites, along with the oldest names
for their territories and the great rivers that ran through them
struck deep cords of resonance. Words like Mesopotamia,
Constantinople, Tiber, Nile, Tigris and Euphrates stirred and
enlivened my soul. Studying about these cultures, so closely
entwined, with their simple, extravagant and passionate ways of life,
I connected with my ancestors in the civilizations responsible for
birthing all knowledge of the highest order. They were a most
creative, innovative, strong, spiritual and physically beautiful
Her classes kept a light breeze in my sails and
distracted me from the ugliness and inadequacy projected from my
emotions to my mind rapidly becoming solid beliefs about myself.
Beginning to appreciate the human form in ancient sculptures and
paintings, I noted the proportions and was stunned by its sheer
magnificence. Deciding to be an archaeologist when I grew up, I never
imagined it would mean unearthing the ruins of my past and
integrating the pieces of my shattered self.
Marie, bound to a state of perpetual servitude,
retreated into books for self preservation and something she could
call her own. Marie, always interested in medicine and by her nature
the ultimate caregiver, was a candy striper by age thirteen at the
local sanitarium. The hospital was full of older patients with a
variety of illnesses, both physical and mental. Marie read her
patients books, fed them and found her natural place in the circle of
Stephania simmered in her discontent because I was
asked to model for art classes and was being treated like something
special. She was a menace I avoided constantly, but sometimes she
appeared out of nowhere to blindside me. Beyond Stephania’s shadowy
presence, observing my parents punish my siblings was painful to me.
Feeling their ways of control so deeply, sorrow stole my breath
adding another ten obsidian bricks to the fortress surrounding my
heart. The walls became so solid and high, they cast a shadow over my
rainbow soul to become the black cloud that eventually blocked my
Sara and Luke were nearing age two when Oma died;
Mom received her inheritance, and we pulled up tent stakes to buy a
house across the river. We moved from a fun and inspiring
neighborhood to a more rural setting with fields instead of art.
Boredom without guidance in a less refined culture was my canvas, and
I did the best I could to remain inspired within my new condition.
Our new home had more rooms, but we still had to share them. Dad put
in new linoleum and transformed the garage into a bedroom and laundry
room. Mom dedicated Oma’s beautiful furniture to the front room and
forbade us to sit on her well-made comfy couches. A large painting by
Walter Keane hung on the wall mirroring the sadness in my large eyes,
and a dark dramatic painting of the crucifixion captured my now jaded
perception of Christ in the world.
Matching the chill of what was becoming my heart,
the heat was turned down to fifty-five degrees at night no matter how
cold it was outside. Jumping into a cold cot each night found me
completely under the covers blowing hot air around myself to get
warm. Finding a position within my blankets that held the heat
leaving a small hole to breathe, I remained as still as possible so
not to stir the air surrounding me. Going to the bathroom in the
middle of the night was resolved through trial and error. Wrapping
myself in my blanket and running to the bathroom, I found my mattress
was freezing upon return. Running to the bathroom without cover, left
me too cold to relax enough to pee. Either way, I had to focus myself
into relaxation, relief finally came with release of my bladder as
the steam from my urine rose to warm my inner thighs. Most of the
time I would just stay in bed in my one position and try to go back
Dad took a job selling cutlery and kept the job
for several years. With dad now a traveling salesman, mom had us to
herself for long regimented days. Art classes went out the window and
the threat of our father’s retribution hung over our heads in mom’s
calculated attempt to keep us in line. Mom and dad struggled to come
to terms with Marie and Stephania turning into young women, and
searched for answers within their golf-ball sized sphere of
Getting older and out-growing the pack mentality,
we silently agreed it was every man for himself as we began breaking
away from the collective pain and running for our lives. We knew how
or how not to act by way of a look and other nonverbal clues. Finding
it enough at this point to cover our own asses, when hell’s fury
opened its door to our brother, we stepped out of the way until the
scorching wind passed.
Many people on the new block were giving parents
and society the finger so to speak, there were black light posters on
people’s walls and some really interesting examples of living.
Crazy daisies on sides of Volkswagen buses, macrame plant holders,
bongs, and dinning tables covered in capsules being divided among the
adults. The pungent smell of patchouly wafted onto the street in some
cases and marijuana spilled out of wooden boxes on coffee tables.
Long-haired kids ran around playing amidst this intoxicated version
of peace, love and nothing better to do.
Music was bigger than television then. Everyone
had a record player or a hi-fi and our house was no exception. When
mom and dad weren’t around, Stephania played Janis Joplin lining up
with her mannerisms and music so she could strum her guitar singing
Janis’s songs while smoking at the neighborhood hangout. Mom
forbade us to listen to our music when she was home and loved to
blast Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture when she was in a good mood,
marveling at the power of the canons. There were homes where the
Carpenter’s music took center stage; the melodies and lyrics melted
into my mind as I lounged on soft new furniture in a quiet, nurturing
home that felt so foreign to me.
Dad was considered the “fun” parent because he
ate candy and shared, played with us outside, encouraged art projects
and taught us girls how to cook. He often took me with the boys
fishing and on the way to the river we stopped by the bait shop. He
bought us starburst candy, orange soda, earthworms and brightly
colored marshmallows for bait, then crammed it all into a small
styrofoam cooler. Soda and candy was a rarity at home, and we piled
into the truck tearing the wrappers off our candy with abandoned
restraint. Fishing was a great way to be away from whatever mom was
imposing on the girls, and eating candy and sipping sweet bubbles
made it all the more glorious.
On outdoor adventures our manners could relax and
I could eat my sandwich in peace not having to abide by the rules at
home where mealtime was always tumultuous. We had to raise our hands
if we wanted to speak. The seating arrangements were dictated by das
field marshal and determined by our manners. If we relaxed for a
minute by landing an elbow on the table, it was met with a jab from
the tines of Mother’s fork, and the repeat offenders had to sit
next to her. It was so difficult sitting around our long table next
too so much pent up energy while constantly being told to sit up
straight and often subjected to my father’s anger and opinions.
It was a rule that we had to eat everything that
was put in front of us whether we liked it or not, and Stephania
never could stomach the texture of eggs. Dad, fed up with her defiant
claim came unglued and made her eat everything on her plate.
Stephania fearfully complied and in turn vomited the eggs partially
into his lap. He proceeded to yell, and throw a fit as she cried.
Tears erupted around the rest of the table in response to the fear
and anger that enveloped our beings. No one said a word; no one ever
At age nine standing in the field, I extended my
right arm with palm facing out in front of me, moving it slowly left
to right, creating an invisible shield of intention to push the pain
away. Armoring myself with the lyrics from Simon and Garfunkel’s I
Am a Rock, I consciously sealed myself from the pain of life because
a rock feels no pain and an island never cries.
Adults like Carol were my respite, so when she
moved from Folsom to the Gold Country I visited. We went to her
father’s home / art studio, I made new friends and played in the
river panning for gold nuggets. We ran around old cemeteries rubbing
gravestones with black charcoal on paper, capturing the imprints of
angels and other interesting images. Riding horses in the dry, dusty
heat of the summer sun, I marveled at the size of the golden scarabs
that emerged from the dirt at dusk on my way to the pavilion. Country
tunes filled the air and the pampered campers danced under the
starlit sky along the Coloma River. When summer was over, it brought
me into the seventh grade when school became more pleasant than the
energy at home.
Sister Gertrude was conflicted in her role as a
nun and although she aspired to be hip and on the leading edge in the
content of her teaching, she fell miserably short. Home economics
class brought us to clean the convent and instruction in sewing. The
class itself was derived from a Butterick “how to” insert with
which it seemed she had little experience. Finding a bottle of Black
Velvet whisky in the cupboard, I imagined it was for the priests and
wondered how the sisters could be happy living such narrow lives.
In eighth grade I was a cheerleader, blue and
gold, and somewhat enjoyed it, in spite of the lack of support I
received from the other girls. Mr. Campo, my math teacher, was
interesting and made sense to me. We connected in his ability to get
me to understand math and our love for Hawaii and other traveling
adventures. He gave me photos of trips to Waikiki and we shared a
love for the ocean, Puka shells and anything beyond day to day life.
Mr. Campo was another breath of fresh air in the otherwise stale
content of Catholic school. His perspective was expansive and the
positive part of my last year in parochial school.
The routine of my home life that summer was
pleasantly interrupted by a call from Carol, who had married and
moved to another place in the Gold Country and invited me up the
summer before I entered high school. Mom drove me up to spend two
weeks with Carol and her new husband who were live-in managers of The
Vineyard House in Coloma. President Ulysses S. Grant had stayed there
while visiting in the 1800’s and gave a speech from the front
steps. I stayed in the president’s bedroom and felt pretty amazing
getting comfy in the bed where he once slept.
A storage room upstairs was filled with treasures
stashed there dusty for at least six decades. Outside everywhere were
very old empty bottles of varying sizes, an some crystal door knobs
that turned purple from their continual exposure to the light of the
sun. Massive oak barrels used for aging wine sat out back, and
antiques of all kinds could be found even among the rows of straggly
vines of a once thriving vineyard. Carol sent me and my friends on
very clever scavenger hunts, taking us half the day on a wild
imaginative journey to claim the final prize. We rode horses and
played in the river, making it hard to leave the divide that summer,
as I knew in my heart it would be my last visit.
The waning heat of our August days brought me to
the reality of high school and to finding my place among the student
body. The folks believed I was better off at the Fair Oaks high
school as it was a beautiful high school with more refined kids.
Mom arranged a ride with a preacher’s daughter
who was a couple years ahead of me and I had to walk across the damp,
cold fog-filled field to get to her place. Agatha lived on the church
grounds and was always wolfing down a bowl of cold cereal for
breakfast as I arrived. Her house was quiet and sterile, and I
couldn’t help but notice her softer and easy going mannerisms.
Entering high school at age twelve had its
challenges, mostly in the freedom it allowed me away from home. I
discovered new neighborhoods with finer kids, better cars and
opportunities to hang out in style. The Eagles “On the Border”
spilled out the windows of the seniors’ shiny waxed Mustangs onto
the newly paved parking lot, and we spent days trying to change the
water to wine. Two classmates met their maker burning to death in a
car crash and sent an ashen cloud of grief over our otherwise jovial
group. It was the second and third deaths I experienced among my
friends. My marine biology and English classes were the only two of
any interest to me, and the only two I ever attended. Second semester
found me more interested in sunbathing along the American River
rather than going to class, and I was transferred to my local high
school sophomore year because of poor attendance.
As a witness to the constant turmoil between my
older sisters and my parents, I knew they were making plans to leave
home. The thought of having more responsibility for my five younger
siblings and subsequent subjugation of my soul lighted my way out the
door. I found solace in the field across the street often lying in
the tall grass and watching the clouds go by, munching on minor’s
lettuce, climbing the giant oaks or crying to the depths of my soul.
The earth always nurtured me unconditionally and held me in her arms
of unwavering love, no matter what I brought of myself to the table.
My sisters continued acting out, climbing out the
bedroom windows at night and hanging out with neighbors down the
street. When Marie left home they hung out with different, grungier
types of people. Stephania had a boyfriend which she spent most of
her time with, while Marie went out with his brother, trading one
family in ruins for another, striving to create anew.
I hung out under the stars with friends on balmy
summer nights, sneaking out the window myself a time or two. Once
while still dark, I laid down to rest in a spot of tall tender grass
for a few minutes before I had to make haste to get home. I gazed
silently at the mix of fading stars and blue beams of morning light,
deeply inhaling the first breath of sunrise. The light blended blue
and gold, with its long rays enhanced the beauty of the peach and
olive orchards. Picking up speed, staying ahead of the cackling
pheasants who signaled the dawn of each new day, I hurried down the
path. Over the fence with but for a moment’s pause, crouching
behind the tomatoes, peering at the house to gauge any activity.
Staying low to the ground, I made my way across the lawn to my window
carefully removing the screen and climbing in. Burying myself under
the covers, I tried to catch a few winks before we all had to get up
and get ready for Sunday morning church.
Dad would make pancakes on Sunday, and then chores
as usual. We didn’t discuss our parents or their actions with
others because we saw nothing wrong with the picture. If anything was
talked about, it was in a laughing context. “Remember when Dad…?"
and we would laugh sharing stories of past times we had gotten hurt
at the hand of either parent or some other reference to pain. My
siblings and I were allowed to fight and make fun of each other, we
teased each other all the time. I made up names for everybody and
laughed about that too.
The ability of my mind to deny what would have
destroyed me before I was ready to face anything was nothing short of
amazing. The effects of prolonged exposure to the negative energy at
home hardened my attitude along with my perception, and I let it
protect me and take control. I stopped chewing my nails to the quick
by befriending the Marlborough Man and had a relationship with him
that was satisfying for another fourteen years. Leaving fear and
weakness behind, I summoned the demons of my brutal inner past and
moved forward with an aura that spoke for itself.
The compressed emotions from years of accumulated
anger began bubbling up beneath the surface of my denial. The energy
swirled up from it’s depths after mom and dad announced at the
breakfast table one morning that they were getting a divorce. Mostly
still around the table, we swallowed our feelings along with our
words, then carried on with our various chores. We gathered our
belongings with the pieces of our broken hearts and silently left for
I learned how to fist fight at home, and was told
“never pick a fight, but if you get in one, don’t come home a
loser." I sought to keep the feeling of rage about their plan to
divorce down, but that day I got into a fight, I didn’t come home a
loser, and I got a good look at a part of myself that I was barely
beginning to become conscious of.
Mom who I never saw as courageous then, exchanged
religion for spirituality and packed up the youngest three children
to create a new life at a community in Nevada City. The word “guru”
was totally foreign to me, and not understanding what it was about, I
put it out of my mind.
Three months later, I watched my mom drive away
with Sara and Luke and Amanda looking out the back window of the car
waving us goodbye. Our family dispersed in seven different directions
that day. My sister Stephania disappeared; Matthew and Mark lived
with dad for a while, then Matthew shared an apartment with a friend
and the beloved Antonuccis embraced Mark as their own. I hit the
bricks with Marie at fourteen years old, staying with friends all
Somewhere within the year that followed, I was at
a bar shooting pool when a brawl broke out. Like a spaghetti western,
bottles flew through the air, bar stools were taken up as shields,
and fist fights ensued.
Although I was standing back and watching, not
moved by it one way or another, the cops showed up too quickly and I
was caught making tracks out the back. Taken downtown but being a
minor, I was sent to juvenile hall. Wasting my phone call on my
father, who told me to get my own ass out of trouble, I cried softly
to sleep in my dormitory bed.
Annie was a guard who saw the light in me, though
I had no idea it was there. She was a no nonsense gal who called me
out of the lunch line the next day to ask me what I was doing there.
She held up a mirror of light to me and I was touched by her genuine
concern. The black cloud of “not me” quickly blotted out her sun,
but I never forgot how for a second I remembered another truth about
“There is no love from an outside source that can heal you, it
can only reflect what you are capable of doing within the self.”
My court date arrived and Mom came down from the
mountain quite unexpectedly, and unlike I had ever known her. In a
cotton skirt with long graying hair, she sat and watched calmly as
the court decided to release me into her custody. After taking me to
lunch, she returned me to the wild and returned to her gentle life in
The Principles of Lust
“The principles of lust are easy to understand, do what you
feel, feel until the end. The principles of lust are burned in your
mind, do what you want, do it until you find … love.”
Turning fifteen and a big corner in how I wanted
to live life, I found a pseudo sense of normalcy in a man from a
different side of the tracks. Jimmy came from a good Sicilian and
Irish family, was naturally well built with striking blue eyes and
brown hair. He was educated, had a great job and many opportunities
that come with being a respected family in the community. He was
Romanesque in his love for rough contact sports, cleanliness, dietary
preferences, and uninhibited sex.