Category Archives: mental health

Talisman of gratitude

According to Mayan shaman Martín Prechtel, all inspiration comes from the Other World. When we create something, we are supposed to give back to our ancestors in the Other World, using the form of “eloquent sound,” or by offering something … Continue reading

Posted in death, genealogy, mental health | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Interview with my father

My father died five years ago. Our relationship continues to evolve. Last summer, while brainstorming an exercise for a group at an artists’ and writers’ retreat organized by my friend Bethany Ides, I invented the ancestor interview. It turned out … Continue reading

Posted in genealogy, mental health, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The insane asylum next door

In a letter to my great-grandmother in about 1941, her sister, Emma Davies Sharp Smith, sketched her memories of their childhood home in Columbus, Ohio, where they lived on Marion Street: It was a dead end st. at both ends … Continue reading

Posted in Civil War, genealogy, mental health | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tarantella, an ancient Sicilian dance ritual

My Italian ancestors lived in the Dolomite Mountains, the Alps near the Austrian border. However, there’s a theory that the family name, Ciliotta, referred to a migration from Sicily (note the “cil” in both words), many centuries back. So when … Continue reading

Posted in mental health, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Divining Eddie

A few weeks ago, in the midst of a divination (a reading of my spiritual status, based on objects I spread around on a cloth inscribed with nature symbols) by my friend Glenn, he said, out of nowhere, “There’s something … Continue reading

Posted in genealogy, mental health, spirituality | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Alpine avalanche in World War I

My grandfather, Attilio Ciliotta, was born in the Italian Alps, near the Austrian border. At the start of World War I, his older brothers applied to join the elite Alpini Corps. Only Mario, the oldest, was accepted. Attilio, at nine … Continue reading

Posted in history, mental health, World War I | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A loss talisman

Loss is awful. Loss keeps coming up in my life this month, not as in new losses but as in memories of past losses, perhaps insufficiently grieved. In the West, we use therapy to uncover and discharge past griefs. Indigenous … Continue reading

Posted in mental health, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments