To follow Story is to understand the path of healing. Each of our stories is a universe. Each one of us is living a story. To discover its shape and essence is essential to soul making.--Deena Metzger
Deena Metzger is a legend in Los Angeles among writers and healers--and probably around the world. I first met her when she was working out the now defunct feminist coop, "The Building." Next I knew her as the woman who had a mastectomy and posed nude for a poster that went with her book of essays and poems called Tree.” This famous book features a favorite essay of mine: Women Who Sleep with Men to Take the War out of Them. A writer, storyteller and healer who has taught and counseled for more than 35 years, Deena uses the genre of story telling to address life threatening diseases, spiritual and emotional crises, as well as community and political disintegration.
My own start-up center in my home is called Sanctuary, and I call it a space for people to gather to tell their sacred stories. My idea came from Deena’s work and my center will be expanding upon retirement.
I’ve personally taken a weekend workshop in Denver with Deena and for a few months went to a weekly writer’s group she does in her enchanting Topanga Canyon compound. Unfortunately, commuting from Palos Verdes to Topanga on work nights takes more dedication and energy than I had, and I was financially struggling at the time. I have a video tape of a keynote address Deena gave at the National Association for Poetry Therapy some years back and I watch it again and again. It’s not often in life that we are in the presence of someone who walks the talk as an enlightened being, a prophet and a peace and political activist. Her Council of Elders letters are remarkable and can be seen on her website.
Her latest book, which I have not read, is Entering the Ghost River: Meditations on the Theory and Practice of Healing. Her book about writing and journal keeping, Writing For Your Life, is a primer of mine. I must admit that I never met a Deena Metzger poem I didn’t like.
Deena teaches writing and trains and initiates healers. She works primarily in Los Angeles but she leads retreats nationally and internationally. Once I had the pleasure of attending a Daré, meaning Council in the Shona language of Zimbabwe, at Deena and and her husband Michael’s home. The only way I could personally describe it is a form of pow wow, although Deena’s website describes a Daré as a creative form of personal and community healing and cohesion, based upon Council, vision, indigenous knowledge and spiritual practice.
Deena also conducts a women’s intensive retreat each summer in Pine Mt., CA and when I’ve retired, I will definitely be one of its participants. As I begin to wind down my career, which has made me march through life with blinders on in pursuit of a comfortable old age, writing about Deena today reminds me how very much I have missed her. I know few "real" people and Deena is the realest of the real.