Story–for the Day of the Dead

Since we are approaching Halloween, All Souls Day and The Day of the Dead, I’m posting work that I wrote when I was with the Latino literary troupe, Los Nortenos (2000-05). I wrote this piece for a performance that we gave at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle.


Wearing the Bones of My Ancestors

Recently when I suffered a reoccurring problem with my spine, I recalled a doctor who offered to remove two extra ribs.  Of course, I declined his offer and chose to live with the pain of pinched nerves rather than remove bones from my body.  As time went on, I realized that I wear the bones of my ancestors.  These are the bones that never quite disintegrated into ashes and these are the bones that refused to burn for carrying shamanic influences.  And these bones derive from my mixed ancestry, which includes Philippine, Puerto Rican, Spanish, Finnish and Sami blood.

Long, long time ago, there lived a primitive people called the Finns, first discovered by the Romans around 10 AD in the region we now call Finland.  The Finns, now called Sami were pushed closer to the Arctic Circle as other tribes moved into the area, but for the most part, the Sami practiced their earth-based spirituality, including sorcery.  However when the Christians arrived, the church banned the earth-based spirituality, burning the shamans and their drums.  The magic never left us and the ancestors have returned.

In the past few years, I discovered my shamanic gifts.  I began hearing the call of the trees, animals and stones.  I had no idea why the nature spirits were calling to me, but I kept an open mind and heart.  Soon, an ancestor reconnected me with my Sami lineage, despite the fact that I grew up in middle-class America and was unaware of my Sami ancestors.

After awhile I began working with stones and I was told that the Sami people also work with stones.  I began connecting with animal and other spirits through chants.  Then I learned that the Sami people had been doing that from the onset and they call their chants yoiks.  Often they say that the spirit of the yoik finds the yoiker.  And eventually, the spirit that resides in my bones taught me this magical form of vocalization.

The Sami believe that their real home exists beyond the stars.  I don’t see this as heaven, but as a parallel dimension where our ancestors reside.  All my life I have been staring up at the stars wondering what exists behind their twinkling lights.  And all my life I have collected stones that for some mysterious reason called out to me.  I have felt like an outsider looking in among my relatives, friends and strangers as that part of me chose to live in an enchanted world.  I never could understand the stranger that exists in my bones until now and she is Sami, but she also answers to Spain, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Finland.  She is the call of the crow, the howl of the wolf, the silence of the jaguar and the whisper of stones.

Some day my bones will turn back into soil, but my spirit will never die for it knows that death is but an illusion and life is just a dream.

written for the Day of the Dead 2003. Copyright Patricia Herlevi, All Rights Reserved



Super-Nature Heroes Chapter 46


My urban fantasy novel, Super-Nature Heroes features holy saints that reincarnate in modern Manhattan. They have returned to save the planet. I combined superheroes with Christian saints giving each of them super powers.

In chapter 46, Saints Teresa of Avila and Terese of Lisieux return as Siamese cats and they want to return to human form. They seek the help of Simon Magus. It was his doings that caused them to transform into cats in the first place!

  1. The Two Teresas Feeling Rather Catty And They Blame Their Situation On Simon Magus.

In yet another section of Manhattan, two Siamese cats lounge on a couch covered with their own hair.  The acrid smell from their litter box also causes the felines distress.

Teresa A. wonders if the former nuns had acted too hastily when they transformed into cats.  Although they approached Simon Magus with the strange request of being transformed into cats, he gave them a sales pitch they couldn’t resist.

“Just think of yourselves living a life of quiet contemplation among other people’s luxury.  Not only that, all your needs would be taken care of so you could pray all day.”

He went on to tell The Teresas that animals don’t accumulate karma.  When animals kill, fight or even scratch or bite their masters, they’re not held accountable.  Imagine that! It sounded so purr-fect at the time.

Simon forgot to mention to the nuns that animals don’t have the ability to become ascended masters.  He didn’t mention that they serve their masters even if they are served by the same masters.  As it was, he forgot to warn the nuns of the indignities that they would suffer such as the removal of parasites from their precious bottoms, other female cats wanting to pick fights with them when they go out to explore the rose garden, and those smelly litter boxes.  “Aye, Dios mios!”

Teresa L. wonders if they should have chosen to return as dogs or birds.  Also, why did they choose to come back as domesticated animals when they could have chosen to return as wild creatures? Sure the domestic situation has advantages such as food without hunting.

But cats love to hunt and it’s a drag when the masters trap the few mice that show up in the house.

It turns out that the cat’s life is boring.  Occasionally, the nanny from next door, (a friend of the maid), sneaks The Teresas out in a baby carriage and takes them to Central Park where she exposes the cats to different vibes.

During one of those trips to the park, The Teresas saw Brother Bernardo.  They couldn’t believe their eyes, seeing the Franciscan friar in the body of a greyhound!  Fortunately, Clare had him on a leash and he looked contemplative and serious.  Did he recognize The Teresas?

Then on another trip, Teresa A. saw Catherine walking her leopards.  Now those are the king of all cats, or so Teresa A. thinks.  Why didn’t she come back as one of those beasts instead of as a house cat? If only they had more time to think through their decision.  If only they could find Simon Magus and ask him to shift them back into humans.

And besides that, the nuns miss Clare.  The last time they saw their caretaker was the day an elderly couple adopted them.  They thought they would be able to return once a month for health visits, but their masters chose to take them to a posh cat clinic uptown instead.  They miss Clare’s sweet voice, the way she carefully measured out their food so that the lady cats could stay nice, trim, and active.  They miss Francesco’s daily sermons.

Even if they could leave their cloistered surroundings, they would get lost searching for the clinic.  And now the masters are considering adopting Jack Russell terriers.  Teresa A. told Teresa L. that she thought the days of torture had ended ages ago, but if even one Jack Russell arrives, they’ll be heading for trouble.

Both cats send telepathic messages to their masters regarding the weak qualities of Jack Russell terriers, but the elderly couple keeps searching and talking to dog experts and calling various shelters hoping to adopt these dogs.  They have also considered adopting a neglected toy poodle.

So the nuns, uh, cats, have decided to put their brains together because cat brains are rather small.  They send out telepathic messages to Simon Magus–trying to reach him through his dreams and visions.  They wish to be human again and to join Clare at the clinic where they can form a sisterhood.

However, trying to plow one’s way through the traffic jam of telepathic messages in Simon’s head proves an impossible undertaking.  The magician has opened himself up to channeling extraterrestrials and ancient masters.  The cats started concentrating heavily on finding a crack in the stream of telepathic traffic to send their message.  They must not give up their faith–their most powerful tool.

Teresa L. considered trying to send messages through the other saints. Francesco’s brain is also full of traffic and Jesus is easier to reach, but sometimes you have to knock for a long time at his proverbial door before you get an answer.

Magic Mary would be sympathetic, but Catherine seems the easiest to reach.  The problem is she adores cats so she might not sympathize.  And Jeanne seems too dogmatic.  They wouldn’t appreciate a speech from that hothead.  Oh, what to do?

This feline life causes the nuns to feel rather catty.  Just the other day, Teresa L. scratched her mistress.  She didn’t want to take another flea dip and no, she didn’t want her claws clipped.

Yet, she feels remorse for the welts she left on her mistress’ arm and for the tears that rolled down her face.  Thank Goddess, she won’t reap any karma.

Super-Nature Heroes by Patricia Herlevi, All Rights Reserved

Write it–After Sending the Pitch

DSCN3909After you pitch your book to an agent or publisher, it’s time to place your focus elsewhere. Instead of fretting over your query and playing the pensive waiting game, return to your manuscript and proofread it. Or you can put your manuscript aside and work on a new project.

From a metaphysical standpoint, we get more of what we focus upon. So if we focus on the agent or editor’s response, then we give our power away. The power is always in the present moment. This means to spend the present moment doing something constructive. Refine the manuscript. Or work on a completely different project. Read the work of authors you admire, but only to learn new writing skills and not to berate yourself.

Join a writing support or editing group. And instead of focusing on the manuscript you just pitched, help other writers. When we reach outside of ourselves and offer support to others, we create a healthy energetic field. This field attracts our manifestations. And since we are all connected spiritually, the agents and editors you pitched to are picking up on your expansive energy.

Photo by Patricia Herlevi

Also, when we focus our attention on helping others, the support we require also shows up. We learn by critiquing other people’s work. We learn from editing other people’s work. And other writers inspire us to make our work better. We experience ah-hah moments that we wouldn’t experience sitting by our computer screen fretting because an agent hasn’t responded yet.

Send love and blessings to agents and editors. But don’t do this because you want a return on your investment. Do it because you care about them and the work that they do. Send love to other writers too. They are not your competition but your comrades. Supporting other writers has good karma attached to it. And the fact is, writers need each other. We inspire one another and we teach each other. That’s why writing conferences give us such a charge and energy shift.

And when the agent or editor’s response shows up as a phone call or e-mail, no matter the response, take it with stride. If you receive a rejection, think of that as a time of redirection. It’s like my mother always tells me when I experience rejection, “That’s not the one for you and someone better will come along.”

While my younger self never believed that, in my maturity as a writer, I know those words are true. It’s all about Divine Timing and being in the right place at the right time. If you love what you do and keep improving at it, the right literary team will come along. But for now, focus on this moment and what is currently required of your attention. If anything, take the dog for a walk.

I am an intuitive and creativity coach. Sign up at Whole Astrology for a session today. I would be pleased to support on your journey.

Short Fiction–Maiden of Mount Vernon

fscn2779I don’t normally write dark stories. However, I lived in Mount Vernon, Washington during a dark time. The protagonist of this story first caught my attention while I was riding a local bus to the top of the hill. The bus passed a Mexican restaurant tucked into a pink Victorian house. I imagined that the top part of the house was rented out to a timid woman who required a giant push to get her moving in the right direction.

Maiden of Mount Vernon

(The Story of Marianne Bradley)

By Patricia L. Herlevi

How could I have known that a man with musician’s hands and indigo eyes would pose a danger to the children? How could I have known that he held tight onto a secret for many years until one damp April day when the river overflowed its banks, this man overflowed his?

I’m boasted as a local hero by community leaders and children. But what am I really but a timid woman named Marianne Bradley who hid behind an Apple computer? I dreamed about a career as an elementary school teacher. I even graduated with a BA degree in teaching, only to flub up the audition. However, my shyness coupled with unruly sixth- graders, got the best of me. With that combination working against me, I panicked and ran out of the classroom breaking a heel and my heart in the process.

So I hid away in my apartment, located above a Mexican café on Mount Vernon’s hilltop, where the smell of frying chilies, and beans prevented my heart from freezing. Thankfully the Mexican matriarch who ran the place brought food to my doorstep every evening. Though she didn’t speak English, her eyes conveyed comfort to me, similar to Mother Mary or Mary of Fatima at the grotto down the street.

After earning a certificate in multimedia design through an online program, I landed a job at an private elementary school a few blocks from my home. While I didn’t teach children, I heard their laughter passing through the halls, the slam of their locker doors, and their pounding feet as they ran to their classrooms during the late bell. They intrigued me.

I interview teachers and award-winning students for the school’s newsletter which I also designed. I watched the children play at recess through the window near my desk. One girl in particular, blonde, ten years old, Sarah Anne caught my attention. I admired the way she lead the other children, and showed them who was boss. My desire was to teach precocious children at a private school. But at that time, I didn’t have the gumption to handle them.

Getting back to my main story, Sarah played cello in the school’s fourth grade orchestra. Watching her small frame haul that instrument around the school and waiting in the rain for the bus, increased worry lines on my face. This kid possessed determination that I envied. But did her parents feel anxious about their daughter’s early physical development? I would if I had a daughter like that.

That winter we experienced a snowstorm that paralyzed most of the community. With the snow piling up rapidly, the children were let go early. But some of them hung out in the playground and sledded down a nearby hill that had been closed off to traffic. Working against a newsletter deadline, I huddled under my shawl in the quiet office.

That’s when I noticed a man, clean cut, and dressed in athletic wear. I guessed that he was in his early twenties. He seemed harmless at the time as he stood on the peripheries of the playground watching the children through the chain link fence. From what I knew, he could have been the father of a first grader, but I doubted that. Most likely he was a college at the nearby community college checking out the neighborhood. But I doubted that too. Call it women’s intuition.

I watched as he inched his way into the playground and made snowballs with the boys. A few moments later, I saw him chatting with the girls, but they shied away from him, perhaps out of instinct or good parenting.

Feeling somewhat tense by the man’s appearance, I cracked the window and eavesdropped on the conversation the man had with the boys.

“Hey…Looks like you’re enjoying the snow.”

Two boys nodded but remained speechless and in awe of the athletic man. “Where I came from it snowed all winter long. We waded in snow up to here.” The man pointed at one of his taut muscular thighs.

The boys edged closer to the man. One of the boys, pale, blonde and painfully thin with large penetrating blue eyes responded. “Where are you from?”

The man squinted his eyes as he stared at the whitened horizon. “I’m from far away.”

“Are you from China?”

The other boy, a Hispanic sporting curly black hair that sprouted out from beneath his red wool hat, and large brown eyes, rolled his eyes scoffed at the blonde boy. “Does he look like he’s from China?”

The blonde shrugged, “No, but my mom tells me that China is far away.”

More boys gathered around the man who had taken on a Pied Piper persona. My heart beat furiously as I watched this man charm the kids.

The man continued getting to know the boys. “See the thing is, I’m not from Mount Vernon, and I recently moved to Skagit. I’m new here and I need some friends to show me around.”

The Hispanic boy chipped in, “I’m not from Mount Vernon either or Burlington.” He rolled the “r” in Burlington with Mexican pride. “My family came here from Mexico so I’m from far away too. But we didn’t see any snow.”

Meanwhile, I had learned enough from eavesdropping. I slammed the window shut capturing the attention of the man who took that as a hint and swaggered away from the playground.

I don’t know where he came from since I’d not seen him around the community prior to his appearance at the schoolyard. I thought I’d never see him again after that snow day. But he became a regular hanging out across the street from the playground where he lounged on a bench pretending to read a book.

I pointed the man out to the principal. “Aren’t you concerned about that man pestering the children?”

The principal shrugged his thick shoulders. “He’s harmless and is probably reliving his schooldays through the children.”

Yeah, right.

As time went on, the man took more risks. He waited for children to leave the playground after school and he befriended some of the boys by showing them his I-Pad and fancy cell phone which showed movies on a tiny screen. He might have well been selling lollipops to five-year-olds. A smooth operator, he reeled in the boys first, finding out where they lived by walking them home, finding out which kids went to an empty house. Then he began taking pictures of the boys, which we didn’t discover until months later.

Meanwhile Sarah’s family moved closer to the school so she stopped taking the bus but still hauled that cello a few blocks. She took an interest in the man and eventually, he coaxed her into playing her adult-size cello for him on the playground. Tension grew around me and I kept my eye on this man as he infiltrated his way into the children’s lives.

One day after I couldn’t keep my mouth shut any longer, I stood outside the principal’s door trembling like a child. “Excuse me Mr. Duvall, but have you noticed that man is still hanging around the school and he follows children home. Why doesn’t this concern you?”

The principal looked up from the document he was reading and fixed his tired gray eyes on me. “I’ve brought it up at PTA meetings. I’m wondering Marianne, why any of this concerns you. Don’t you have a deadline coming up?”

The following April as I surfed the web, I found a questionable site hosted by a Manny Lobe.  When I downloaded the man’s picture, I nearly fainted. As I browsed his site, my face and hands perspired and my eyes glanced at photographs of little boys that I knew personally. While I saw nothing risqué about any of the photographs, the parents of these children would have gone livid knowing that their child’s privacy had been violated. As I searched further on the site, I learned that it was a type of brokerage focused on children—ours.

However, when that Monday rolled around shyness paralyzed me. I knew that I needed to report the site to the principal. But I couldn’t manage to get out of bed. I thought the principal would just dismiss me once again. My throat burned and my lung filled with grief. I stayed home on that following Tuesday and Wednesday too. I feared that they would tie me in with the young man’s crime or that I would be accused of not speaking up earlier.

But by Thursday I had to go into to work or lose my job. I trembled for most of the day, felt terrified when the principal glanced at me dressed in my usual gray or when teachers failed to notice me at all. I overheard Sarah Anne talking to her classmates in the restroom. “Manny’s so cool. He asked me to play my cello for him.”

The other girls smiled in admiration, but I wanted to shake the child by the shoulders. Doesn’t anyone teach these children how to protect themselves?

I knew that I needed to act, but my feet turned to clay. But on my break, I visited Lobe’s site again and noticed the photographs of girls. I didn’t recognize any of them. Making rounds of the schools, one page featured pre-teens girls dressed in skimpy cheerleading outfits—I cringed.

Pacing my small office, I resolved myself to show the principal the website, but I hadn’t seen him around that day. I approached the secretary. “Do you know if Mr. Duvall will be checking into the office?”

The secretary looked away from her sandwich and focused her hazel eyes on me. “Mr. Duvall is attending an education conference for two days. Is there something I can help you with?”

As she said this her eyes bored holes through me.  I stammered, “No, it can wait.”

After the secretary left for the day, I glanced out the rain-spattered window and saw Sarah Anne lugging her cello towards a red VW Bug. Then I saw the driver of the car. I high tailed it out of the office, tossed off my three-inch heels, soaking my feet in a stream that had formed from a torrential downpour. I dashed towards the car and reached it just as Sarah Anne dripping wet, climbed into the passenger’s seat. Her cello got caught in the door and I grabbed and pulled at it.

“Sarah Anne, get out of the car!”

Stunned she tried to obey me, but Manny coaxed her and pulled on her down jacket. I shouted at people passing by on the street, “Call 9-11!” I yanked on Sarah’s arm causing the confused child to wince. Finally, she tumbled onto the ground.  Her cello did a few somersaults onto the sidewalk.

Manny sped off with the open passenger door flapping like a bird’s broken wing. I pulled out my cell phone and called the police, since no one standing around gawking bothered to make the call. When I inquired, one man muttered, “The Skagit overflowed her banks. Where are you going to find a law officer under these conditions?”

Eventually, the sheriff tracked down Lobe’s operation in a trailer on an abandoned lot near Concrete. They found stashes of water-damaged children’s pictures throughout the trailer, video equipment, a laptop, and a digital camera. But we never fully learned Manny’s story of how a twenty-one-year-old star athlete from Vermont became a broker for pedophiles or ended up in our community where his secret destroyed him. What was he thinking?

And me, I’m a local hero who currently teaches sixth grade. The children gaze at me with star-crossed eyes and compare me to Joan of Arc—the Maiden of Mount Vernon they call me. But I still buckle at the knees and worry about the future of these kids.



All Rights Reserved by Patricia Herlevi, 2011

Photograph by Patricia Herlevi, All Rights Reserved


Poetry–Timeless (Does Time Really Exist?)

DSCN3909Clocks & Calendars

By Patricia Herlevi

When you live by a clock

And a calendar, time

Flies by like geese with a mission,

Organized V-shape claiming victory

Across an open sky—leadership and will.


When you don’t live by a clock

Or calendar, your footing feels

Less secure, wobbly, all your days

Blur into one, you lose the map

You lose the plot.


Is it Monday or Saturday?

You lie languid between days,

Turning back pages of stale

Memories, retiring the old feet,

Resting the mind between bookends

And book endings, hoping

For a happy stay.


The time that remains ticks by,

One gorgeous second at time,

Grateful sighs and words of repose,

Lines across the skin like interstates

On a map snaking their way across

The desert and seeking a gentle oasis.


Come and drink every drop of this life…

All Rights Reserved