Author Archives: Lauren Liedel

Infusing Rocks with Your Problems

A and I met at our favorite vegetarian cafe, Good Karma, to discuss my most recent crystal healing class based out of a small shamanic practice in Santa Monica. She and I have spoken about our spiritual and homeopathic practices many times before, but soon we started discussing use and cleansing methods for crystals. Her father, a practicing shaman, has this habit of infusing problems into stones by blowing on them. There is this running joke in their family that she and her mother always try to talk things out, but he appears with rocks and says that they ought to blow away their problems into the stones.

A: So my dad has this thing about rocks. He went on some retreat to South America and when he came back, he started doing this really strange blowing into rock habit. He said that he learned it while there and it helps cleanse him of negative energy. In our shamanic tradition, there is a reverence for stones. Each person has a pseudo-medicine bag of thirteen stones that you work with; you get them through various events in the tradition, but you end up with thirteen. One rule, you can never put them under water. We cleanse with fire or burying underground.

L: That’s interesting. In my tradition, we purify strictly through water. It’s considered super taboo if we use any kind of fire. We also have the in the ground purification, but water is much more prevalent. It can be either a stream of water from a sink or an overnight  soak. I prefer the soak post moonlight as that strengthens the water’s power and recharges the crystal at the same time.

A: You must be from a water based tradition; ours is definitely fire based. We burn a lot of things and use fire/ smoke quite regularly. Back to the whole rock blowing. You can’t just decide to blow on any rock at any time. You have to pick a stone that calls to you at that moment. Then, sit with the stone and set your intention for blowing away the problem. Once you blow once, the problem or fear or whatever disappears as it becomes trapped in the stone itself. To get rid of the trapped bad energy, we burn the stones in a fire pit.

L: It’s curious you blow on them to infuse negative energy. In the crystal healing practice, once you finish a body grid, I was taught to blow the receiver’s energy off of the stones. You want to blow away the bad vibes that infiltrate the crystals during the healing session. After a few times, you clean the crystals with either sage, palo santo, or water.

We continued to talk more about healing practices for the rest of the lunch, varying from meditation to other fire-based traditional healing.

Oriel Bop: I Want You Back

A and I are old grade school friends from our days in Washington D.C. We fell out of touch at the beginning of our sophomore year of high school and actually ran into each other on the street while both of us were studying abroad at Oxford University. She spent her whole term time as a part of Oriel College and became involved in the student life by attending formal balls, bops, and integrating herself in the Oriel squash and rowing teams. I was a part of New College, so naturally I was curious as to the particular traditions of Oriel College and how they differed with New.

A: Since you’ve been to both Oxford and Cambridge, you know all about bops.

L: Do they differ much between the two universities?

A: Not really, in fact, they operate pretty similarly. Our bops happen post formal ball and are put on for the college by college students. Each time there is a different theme. I think the one at the beginning of the year was some silly pun based one, but the one I took you to was just our end of year party. Essentially, you saw the fancy end of the year one.

L: Oh, okay. So normally instead of formal dress, you all go pretty radical with the costumes.

A: Yes. The special feature about Oriel’s bop is actually we play a the song I Want You Back by the Jackson 5. I don’t know if you know this, but for the longest time Oriel was particularly gender segregated. This song was a way of fighting against that and in fact its gotten to be this weird tradition where the guys take their shirts off when it plays.

L: So was this a marked shift towards to include the girls?

A: I’m not exactly why they take their shirts off or its relevance, but it happens. It could just be a strange Oriel thing.

Let It Run

M was a twenty-two year old Temple University rower, who grew up in New Jersey. His interest in rowing stemmed from his father’s history with the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia, PA. Growing up, he spent time around boathouse row on the Schuylkill River watching his father race against other masters’ teams like Penn Athletic Club. Eventually, he spent three summers in between college on the U23 men’s team at Vesper. He heard this particular joke one summer while racing up at St. Catharine’s for Canadian nationals from a stake-boat holder during an afternoon practice. As a charismatic person, M was instantly considered to be the captain of the 2012 team. However, given his humor and teasing nature, he often playfully teased the foreign members of the squad with his silly jokes. This joke was directed primarily at a female coxswain A and a male rower T. One afternoon after a notoriously awful practice with a coxswain struggling to steer, M started to tell stories and jokes about coxswains and their ineptness. He continued on for a few moments as more rowers (male and female) gathered around. Among this group, there were two girls from New Zealand and one boy from Canada. M turns to the Canadian and began to banter about the disconnect between international rowing squads. The following week, the entire team planned drive up to St. Catherine’s for Canadian Nationals and M, being the senior member of the boat club surveyed the boats we planned to take up to the race. Strapping down the boats in the house, M looks at a massive hole in the hull of one and begins to tell the following joke.

M: There once was this American high school team who recently recruited a new coxswain from Canada. She arrived early to practice one morning and the coach was short one coxswain for lineups and decided to let her take out one of the eights with a relatively strong crew. Excited, she made calls and built the momentum from drills to racing pieces. The river that the crews practiced usually was wide enough, yet sometimes barges from port cities downstream ventured up the river to exchange goods. The experienced coxswains normally left enough space between their boats, but the Canadian was not familiar with this river. She soon found herself in a position where the boat was on a collision course with a barge that had started coming up the river. Frantic, she yelled, “Let it run.” However, the boat didn’t slow down. Instead the rowers began lengthening their strokes and thereby gaining more speed. She continued to make the call “let it run, let it run…LET IT RUN” until the boat crashed into the barge. Her coach, who had been too far away to prevent the collision hurried over in a launch and asked what had happened. One of the rowers said, “all she told us to do was to let it run. We didn’t know we had to weigh ‘nough.”

M passed away before I could properly conduct this interview, but in the rowing community there are two different rowing commands to stop rowing: let it run and weigh ‘nough. The majority of American rowing clubs use the latter. Let it run is easily confused with “Let it glide” in order to maximize the run, or distance of water travelled between strokes. After M told this joke, the entire boat club were dying of laughter, yet when I told this joke to a friend, she did not understand it. Almost all internationally experienced rowers know of this joke, but anyone outside the rowing community probably would not understand it.

Jigging: The Jig is Up

M and I planned to meet up to discuss a game known as Three Rounds that we both learned from our friend, J. He, unfortunately, was unavailable to talk to me due to deadlines the past few weeks. As M and I began reminiscing about our friendship with J, M mentioned the action of jigging.

M: When I say jigging, I don’t mean the weird possibly Irish dance. In our house, jigging has a much more destructive connotation. One night at a party, J was going through some serious depression and decided he wanted to stop the music. Upset, he unplugged the speakers and yelled “the jig is up.”

L: What does that mean?

M: To be honest, I don’t know where he got that, but he’s said it before when he’s feeling awfully low. I know he mentioned it was a family thing or a friend thing. The details are slightly sketchy. Anyways, he stopped the music and pretty much told people to smash their glass bottles on the floor. Surprisingly almost everyone there did it. When I got home later that night it was like it had snowed shards of glass.

L: Was this the first time or a one time kind of deal?

M: This was really our first initiation into this club of jigging. We’ve even had jig parties before to get aggression out. It’s morphed into this tradition of anyone can yell “the jig is up” and we all go outside to smash some things.

L: In my show Basement Admission, we actually had something similar but it wasn’t called jigging. It really didn’t even have a name, but still had the same mindless destruction.

M: Yeah, jigging isn’t strictly limited to breaking bottles. It’s just uninterrupted destruction. We’ve jigged a couch apart and many boxes.

L: Do you think you’ll quit jigging once you leave that house?

M: Probably, by I know for J and Y it has become an integral part of who they are as people. They’ll probably carry that with them wherever they end up going. Anyone can jig, that’s why it is incredibly inclusive, but you never forget your first jig. It’s kind of an initiation of sorts into the depths of madness. It’s hard to explain until you really get involved doing it.

Charades Against Humanity

M and I had gotten together to talk about another game one of our good friends had introduced us to, but as we continued speaking about other games that we all played at a friend’s dinner party a few months ago. Most people know about the card game, Cards Against Humanity, but after seeing an episode of Jenna Marbles our friend N decided she wanted to recreate the game she played on her vlog. Jenna’s authored source video is shown below. However, N’s version differs slight in that she uses all the cards involved in the deck.

M: Cards Against Humanity decks come with two kinds of cards: white and black. It’s essentially an adult version of Apples to Apples with either really graphic or dark words written. So N saw the video below and wanted to step up the charades version, by using the black cards as well. Same charades rules apply, you act out the phrases for a minute before it switches to the other team or pair. Now with the black cards and the blanks, at the end of the game, you use the white cards you’ve won from the charades game to put fill in the blanks.

L: Does that make it a fusion of Charades and Cards Against Humanity?

M: Yeah, you pretty much play charades to get the cards for Cards Against Humanity.

L: Interesting, I know that I’ve been spreading it amongst some of my other friend groups and each person tends to set different parameters for timing and ruling.

M: We decided on one minute because anything less and it’s hard to get through the 8 word long cards, but you still also feel the pressure for the time.