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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.


The Festival of Blanket Forts.

So it’s Sukkot right now, which is my favorite holiday.

And yes, I continue to say this about pretty much all the holidays… but that’s really only because each one actually IS my favorite while it’s happening.

I mean, come on. How is every single one of these not the best?

  • Purim. Wear costumes. Drink wine. Bake these cookies! Deliver them to friends!
  • Rosh HaShana. Release your regrets into the river. Eat a pomegranate!
  • Tu B’Shvat. Celebrate the birthday of the trees. Eat dates and almonds!
  • Lag B’Omer. Have a secret picnic of remembering!
  • Shavuot. Midnight beneath the stars. Study texts. Blintzes and sour cream!
  • Pesach. The holiday of Spring Cleaning. And kneidelach!
  • Hannukah. Light candles in a row. Eat fried things that are delicious!

All exclamation-point-worthy. Also: Yum! Do you see how hard it is?

But this…

This is the holiday of Hey, build a temporary shelter and go rest there and eat things — for a week!

It is the Festival of Blanket Forts.

It is everything I love.

It is safety and permission and hiding. Sometimes in an invisibility cloak.

It is a canopy of peace.

It is shelter, support, containment.

And you build it! For yourself! And then take it down again.

It is construction and deconstruction, just like in Shiva Nata.

The shivanautical principle that especially applies here: Using the same elements for building, undoing and then reconfiguring so that the new thing you want emerges from the old pattern.

It is peeking at the stars.

It is, as I wrote last year, “both sumptuous and temporary”.

“The roof must be made from something that once grew in the ground, and is no longer attached to the earth.”

(See: the best description of the sukkah and how it may be constructed.)

It is about structures and shelter as a field of safety to move you through the passages.

It is about harvesting. And celebrating what has been harvested.

It is safe rooms. We had one yesterday too.

Here’s what I’m practicing.

Consciously interacting with the tradition that I inherited. In my own way, with my own presence and my own understandings of how to care for myself.

Bringing play, curiosity, enthusiasm and mindfulness to the experiment.

Examining the essence of shelter and blanket-fort-ing and retreating.

Filling up on the qualities of safety, sovereignty, compassion, sweetness.

Intentionally hiding.

Invoking gestation.

Looking for the passages.

Peeking at the stars.

Making circles and circles. Inspired by the hakafot.

Discovering and inventing internal holidays just for me.

I’m also wondering if maybe in 2013 we should have a special indoor-outdoor Rally that happens over Sukkot, so that we can have blanket forts inside and a communal project-space sukkah outside. An idea…

Comment zen. Ooh, let’s make it a commenting sukkah!

This is our safe space to play and experiment.

You never have to share anything if you don’t feel like it. You can always call Silent Retreat!

We make this experience spacious by invoking amnesty. We make this experience safe by agreeing to let people have their own experience, and committing to not giving unsolicited advice. By not telling people how to feel or how to be.

We ask ourselves questions and look for the patterns that live inside of the questions.

So yes, the comments can be our own symbolic sukkah.

I have juice and tea. And my mother’s amazing honey cake. Help yourself.

Bring snacks if you like. Sit and take some time under the hanging gourds. The air is cool and crisp. There is somehow always enough time for whatever needs to happen.

20 Responses to The Festival of Blanket Forts.

  1. Ellie Di
    Twitter: Ellie_Di

    Oooh, how beautiful. I’ve got a whole day to myself, so perhaps this is a sign that I should take it in blanket-fort style. I’ve been secretly wanting more retreat space for myself to create and get in touch with my own thoughts. What a wonderful excuse to do so.
    Ellie Di recently posted… The Amazingness of Connecting with Strangers

  2. Hannah K says:

    Oh Havi, nobody makes me want to get in touch with my lost traditions like you do.

  3. Jesse
    Twitter: persnicket

    Honeycake! Sounds delicious. I’ve brought tortellini soup to share.

    (PS I absolutely adore the idea of a Purim rally!!)

    And this phrase: “sumptuous and temporary.” I like that it is permission to make a space of beautiful, lavish comfort and safety that will then go away. Because we can build it again. Practice moving into and out of safety. Love this.

  4. Yogi Barrett says:

    Thanks for this! I had my first child 3 months ago, and this whole high holiday season has been hard for me. I’m so wrapped up in forming a new life as a parent, and still caring for myself (and sometimes my partner) that there seemed like just No.Room. for holiday observance. Maybe, though, if I can create it to suit my purposes, I would feel more successful. For example, I don’t have to go to services, I don’t have to build an *actual* sukkah, etc.

    I like the idea of hibernating a bit for Sukkot. I have some ideas about how I’m already doing that, and how I can do it more, to support myself and also pay a bit of homage to the Jewish tradition.

    So. thanks again! Done feeling guilty!!


  5. Eleanor
    Twitter: chaoslaughs

    A blanket fort. Just the thing for today.
    And a Sukkot rally in 2013? brilliant. yes, please!
    Eleanor recently posted… 1×4

  6. Hannah
    Twitter: Hannah_Savannah


    This totally justifies my hiding out for ehm, all of this week.

    It’s Blanket Fort Week!!

    This post makes me want to celebrate all those holidays!
    Or invent new ones.

    Something that gives traditions to the year without becoming solid.

    Something to think about.

    Thanks for the lovely post!

  7. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    I wonder why this post, of all your recent posts (which have included some deep and intense topics) has made tears spring to my eyes? Hmm.

    @Jesse — the tortellini soup sounds wonderful. I will gratefully accept some!

    I’m realizing how much my journal is like a sukkah for me. It’s a place of shelter, safety and containment, and of course it’s also temporary (yet perpetual, because I keep getting new ones) and portable.

    Taking my place within the sukkah with all of you, and waiting for the stars to come out. Ahhhhh. Thank you.
    Kathleen Avins recently posted… Friday Fragments 7: the fragments are in my closet…

  8. Loon says:

    “There is somehow always enough time for whatever needs to happen.”

    Ah. Sigh. Just… sigh. That there is enough time and that we are not certain of what needs to happen, but there is still enough time. Lovely.

  9. Elizabeth
    Twitter: elizabethhalt


    “There is somehow always enough time for whatever needs to happen.”

    and this:

    “This is the holiday of Hey, build a temporary shelter and go rest there and eat things — for a week!”

    make me feel impossibly happy. I might need to eat my meals in a blanket fort this week. Or at least nap in one.
    Elizabeth recently posted… atlas can’t win? ha. atlas can’t lose.

  10. Jesse
    Twitter: persnicket

    (Oh! Had to come back to say, I meant to write I love the idea of a Sukkot rally! Not that a Purim rally wouldn’t be just as rallilicious but I was just typing something while my brain was intending something else.

    Tortellini soup for all! Now back to my blanket fort.)
    Jesse recently posted… In medias res and in medias satis

  11. Hannah
    Twitter: Hannah_Savannah

    Another pin board for the Festival of Blanket Forts:


  12. VickiB says:

    Havi, you are uncanny. The link to Ask Havi #25! Because that Nasty Interaction I’ve mentioned several times recently still hurts, I read the post. Wow! The things that were shared there, such huge deep wounds, so very hard, so much hurt! And beside those, mine seems — I started to write “insignificant” but that’s not right, because the hurt is legitimate. And it wouldn’t have hurt if it didn’t hook into something, some pattern, some old hurt.

    I guess it gave my experience perspective.

    And the concepts you wrote about are helpful: Legitimacy, safety, support, patience.

    So tonight, in the bedroom of my story-and-a-half house, with its tent-like ceilings, I’m going to lie where I can see the stars through the open curtains, and practice the qualities of this holiday.

  13. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    Naaaaaaaaawwww!!!! I wanna be one of the chosen people!!! Pomegranates! Dates! Dumplings!!!!!!!! Traditions and holidays that actually MEAN something!!!

    Errrrgh I was raised in the ‘one true faith’ which OBVIOUSLY isn’t true and Easter and Christmas just SUCK now because they’re so hollow and commercialised and, despite the fact I ADORE going all Martha Stewart and decorating and cooking… The fact remains that feel essentially disconnected to the core of it and that makes me sad.

    Boo. Here’s to meeting all the traditions we’ve inherited (oh hello guilt!) with curiosity and love. It’s wonderful to be welcome in this Sukkah.

    Claire P recently posted… The discipline of niceness

  14. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    And also, when I run the yoga studio if my dreams I’m going to have a sangha gathering every Sunday morning so I can get everything that I miss about going to mass back in my life. Because the good bits were grouse.

    (Grouse = Australian for ‘awesome great cool’ not a small, flightless bird.)

  15. Risa
    Twitter: lichtstrom_

    “the Third Wall doesn’t need to be complete.”

    Risa recently posted… Strength Being Cowardice Being Strength

  16. Simone
    Twitter: simonethinks

    I love how long super-obvious things elude me. I read this this morning and I was like “geez, is ANOTHER Jewish holiday? grumble grumble. my delinquent-jew spouse-person never tells me ANYTHING. I’m hungry. Honey cookies!”

    And now this really speaks to me. A festival. Of blanket forts. Which is Exactly What I’ve Needed All Week. invisibility cloak. Safety. Hiding. Feeling taken care of. Shelter. Support Containment.

    Yes, yes, yes.

    I think I need to take a mental health day tomorrow… Yoga, clean the house, shiva nata, lunch, read things-that-are-not-on-the-internet, shiva nata, whack-a-mole (what I call homework now), write, yoga, dinner. In that order. I need that. So much. For myself.

    Oh, Havi, and everyone else here. I have had such a hard week. Lots and lots and lots of stuckness. It’s almost fiendish the extent to which I rely on the Fluent-Self-o-Sphere for comfort and nourishment. Probably because this space contains that thing that is most conspicuously lacking in every other area of my life, which is total Amnesty and Permission and so much radical Allowing. I’m almost mad at myself for loving it here so much, for loving Havi so much, getting sooo much out of this crazy place from people I’ve never even met. My monsters are telling me that this is all very, very dangerous. Though yes, this is where I am in life. I’m allowed to be here.

    Time to go build a blanket fort and hide out until I feel safe. This is temporary. I’ll have the spouse-person, who today told me the most perfect thing ever, which is “I always like who you are,” bring me some honey cakes.
    Simone recently posted… Flux. Unsettling flux, and remembering.

  17. Dusty
    Twitter: Hallowspite

    A blanket fort holiday? How awesome!

    I’m doing work next week but I will also be working hard on myself and my healing. Specifically my healing. I have the tools, now it’s time to put them to use instead of letting them rust.

    Havi, you are amazing. Thank you for this. <3

  18. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    @Simone – “delinquent-jew” hahahahaha.

    “Embrace your heritage shithead!!! Gaaah, don’t you see how many great (things I could eat) holidays I could participate in vicariously????”


    Mmmmmmmmm sub-blanket fetal curling time for me tonight. Most appropriate.
    Claire P recently posted… Invoking the Universal Mother, holding a space and inviting you in if you ever want to drop by

    • Havi Brooks
      Twitter: havi

      You guys! Are so funny!

      Actually, I will tell you the other truth which is that 99% of the time I feel mostly-to-very conflicted about my jewiness and relationship to the tribe/heritage/all-of-it.

      It’s been a lot of years of making peace to get to where I am, and there’s still a lot more peace-making to be done. And while I do love love love the holidays, being Jewish is not really something I would wish on someone. The good stuff comes with the hard stuff: sometimes it seems like I will never be done doing the healing from all the guilt/fear/persecution/paranoia/trauma/blinders that is in there.

      But yay for blanket fort holidays and finding the good.

      @Jesse – mmmmm soup soup! And also a Purim Rally is a BRILLIANT IDEA — we could be in costume the entire time! And hamentaschen instead of pie. We might have to do that too! Ooh, and Hannukah Rally for candles, stars on the ceilings, fierceness and coziness. Wow. Kiss!

  19. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    The good comes with the hard, well yes. Doesn’t it always? *napoleon dynamite-esque ‘fine’!*

    I met someone years ago who called themselves ‘Jewddhist’ which I thought was hilarious and brilliant…

    Aaaaah, schpirituality, what are we going to do with you?

    Claire P recently posted… Invoking the Universal Mother, holding a space and inviting you in if you ever want to drop by

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