Joseph Anderson

A Miracle of Strudel

Connecting with ancestors is an important part of shamanic work for me. For as far back as I can tell, my biological ancestors consist mainly of English and Swedish Protestants. But in my journey work, going back farther in time, or perhaps sideways into the more hidden spiritual corridors of my lineage, I have encountered both men and women who are ready and willing to help me on this path. It is usually more of a felt sense than any specific information or guidance, but this sense of support is very valuable. One day, however, while I was exchanging breath with an apple tree, a vivid sense of specific presence came to me: it was an older woman, a grandmotherly figure, who had about her an aura of butter, and flour, and sugar, along with a tremendous nurturing quality. This, I understood, was my Swedish Grandmother (not my physical grandmother, but a blood ancestor from a previous generation). With this vision, through the apple tree came a message that said:


The apple tree is calling

Care for me

Care for me

Won’t you care for me


If you care for me

I will care for you

If you care for me

More caring will come through you


That was really the beginning of my obsession with apples that is now taking a public shape, in the form of the Orchard Oculus piece that will be displayed in Carkeek Park’s Piper Orchard on July 23 – two weeks from today.


As part of my work finishing up the piece have been spending quite a bit of time in Piper Orchard, as well as engaging with all the parts of the project: tying together bundles of apple twigs, writing poetic statements about the art, and finishing up a few of the paintings.


But this creative urge has spilled over into cookery, and this week it took the form of making an apple strudel. It was fun and exhilarating, although the results could only make a grandmother proud: I had trouble with the proportions so it was somewhat grotesque in shape, with a couple of tears in the super-thin dough so the insides spilled out a little. Actually the exposure of the strudel’s inner realities is quite a natural shamanic thing, so I’m OK with that. It tasted good and I feel very blessed!


And as I was brushing the butter onto layer after layer of pastry dough, the “care for me” song above kept coming to me, along with the image of this mysterious ancestor, who nurtured and guided me in the most wonderful way. It all became a prayer focusing my own intentions to care for others through all the dimensions of my life: the delicious dish I was preparing, the artwork I’m making, my teaching, my writing, my healing work, my music, my relationships at home and at work.


Apples, and butter, and a vision of my ancestral grandmother, showing me the ropes and keeping my calm as I actually made an elongated, falling-apart apple strudel from scratch. The creative mysteries of the universe take many forms: this odd-shaped strudel is just one of them.