Thursday, January 2, 2014

1/3/14—Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

I discovered a viral video today. I was the 28,885,754th person to discover it, in fact. Which is kind of how things tend to go with me and internet phenomena anyway. So excuse if me if you're already familiar with "Emotional baby! Too cute!"

Usually the words "baby" and "cute" come off to me like "danger" and "shield your eyes" do to normal folk, but I clicked anyway. And what I found wasn't really cute at all. Instead, it was utterly fascinating.

See, this mom was singing a song to her baby about losing a love and missing them as they move on without her. And all the while the baby sits there and silently cries, tears streaming down its face. Now, we have few clues as to what the mom is doing as she's singing, but based on her voice, she's not in all-out diva drama mode. So the baby doesn't seem to be mimicking the mom or her emotion, rather she seems to feeling the lyrics of the song. Because I'm no baby expert, I checked with a mother of four. This is not normal baby behavior.

Probably more than 20 years ago, my sister Janet said something to me that has stuck with me ever since. She said she believed that babies were born knowing everything. Then they forget. Then, I guess, we spend the rest of our lives trying to remember. So when I see things like the crying baby (or child prodigies or kids with past lives...we'll get to them in a future post), it sets my mind whirring. It really makes me think about what goes on before the life we're living.

The topic is too large to cover in just one entry. But when I look at that crying baby reacting to the lyrics of the song, it makes me think of whatever peace and camaraderie they left behind to come here to perform their mission. Look, for all I know the mother was making faces that caused the baby's reactions and was spraying noxious fumes into the baby's eyes to make it cry. But that didn't seem to be the character of what was going on there.

A couple of weeks ago I had a remarkable experience at my monthly music healing session. I was brought to a place of utter peace, oneness, everythingness and I was part of the fabric of the universe or an observer inside the head of God. It's hard to imagine what the experience of a soul must be like without anthropomorphizing it...without giving it human characteristics, like a body or emotions or thought. But this state I enjoyed in my session was, for the most part, without thought. It was at once energy and intelligence, and non-intelligent and non-energetic ether. It was, simply put, unimaginable and undefinable. And it made me think that this might be what a soul is like before it takes form and humanness and personality.

So imagine what it would be like to go from a place of utter balance and harmony and be plopped into the wild roller coaster ride of human emotion. Imagine what it would be like to be suddenly confined to a body instead of being be held to the structures of space and time when just "yesterday" you existed on every dimension at once. Somewhere between remembering where we just were and forgetting who we are eternally may just be what babies and small children experience. And what I saw on that baby's face was the mourning of its previous state and whatever connections may be missed there while on this wild human adventure.

Will they ever see the reflection of their soul again? Will what they gain be as valuable as what they lost by coming here? Will the members of their soul group (if that exists) join them on this journey? What's with all this helplessness? What's with all this lack of communication? How come the mommy doesn't feel me the same way I feel her? How do I drive this thing? WTF have I gotten myself into!!!???

There's something really captivating about that video. I've never in person or on TV seen tears stream silently out of a baby's eyes, displaying emotions an infant could not possibly know or comprehend...unless something ethereal and otherworldly is going on that we cannot possibly know or comprehend. So it brings up so much in me.

Like what is a soul? If you had asked me three months ago, my answer would have been different than the answer I have after that healing session.

Why are we here? I honestly go back and forth on that, because the whole soul experience makes no logical sense to me. If the soul is connected to "the all that is" and shares that intelligence, then why go from a state of perfection/omniscience/angelhood/whatever to this flawed state of humanness? It would seem like a soul would have nothing to desires or curiosities to sate.

The farther down the rabbit hole I go and the more "answers" I seem to satisfy myself with, the more questions I have and the less I seem to know. Thus is the paradox of being human and seeking spirituality. What's your take on all of this? And does that baby conjure the same questions in you?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

1/2/14—Letting the Leaves Drop

A matrix of bare branches as cloud faces look on. 
Today is the first post I've written in the New Year and it's the first of a different format without tarot cards and, instead, following topics I find in both nature and the crap that floats around in my head. :) Things may change up still from here. I'm feeling it out. Also, there may be fewer posts each week beginning next week. Still just feeling things out. If you want to make sure you don't miss a post, you sign up to have them delivered by email on my blog at (and if you're reading this on my blog, the sign up is over there to your left.)

January 1st's new moon is the perfect time for release. When the moon is dark, it offers both a symbolic and energetic opportunity to let go of those things that are no longer needed. If you're reading this on the 2nd, as many will, don't despair. The releasing energy of the new moon is good for a couple of days before and after the new moon itself.

When I think about releasing, it conjures many images. One is of tree limbs in winter. For the most part, deciduous trees just let go and release entirely. When it comes time to shed their leaves, they take no prisoners. In a matter of a couple of weeks, they're fully transformed, releasing both the beauty, shade and drag of the leaves, along with their sun-catching and water-catching abilities.

The quality of their release is total surrender. And, like many of us practice, it's a cyclical ritual. The
trees know in every inch of their cellulose that what they release is being released for their full benefit and will be replaced with new leaves—leaves that are better able to soak up the sun and water...better able to fuel them than the spotty, dried up leaves they let go of. Those leaves served their purpose and performed their duty. But the tree needs to keep moving forward and expanding, so it sheds as part of that process.

Neighbor's stubborn leaves. 
Now this isn't true of all deciduous trees. The one in my neighbor's front yard likes to hold on some of its leaves...not letting entirely go. So while 80% of the tree lets go, 20% holds on to necrotic leaves, presumably until they're forced off by insistent buds. Or until the limb just drops, spent, to the ground. As counter-productive as this is for the tree, it's also a thorn in my side. Because it means that leaves will continue to fall until spring. Which means my leaf cleanup is never complete (all those leaves end up on my lawn, not my neighbor's, to my dismay...haha).

There are a few trees like that in the neighborhood. It's not necessarily a species thing. It happens to both maples and oaks, which are the most prevalent around here. And it doesn't have to mean that the limb is dead. More frequently it means the limb is stubborn, causing difficulty for itself (because the leaves keep that portion of the tree from receiving the limited sun of winter) and difficulty for others, because who knows when those leaves will fall and deface your well-raked lawn? Basically it prolongs the misery for all involved. For outsiders who don't know these particular trees and their issues with letting go, they look and think "WTF is wrong with you? Let go already! Get on with your life and quit clinging to this necrotic stain on your branches!"

Have I worked the metaphor hard enough for you to see what I'm getting at? :D

New Year's Day sunset framed by bare branches.
The ritual death and release of leaves is one of my favorite times of the year. And the sight of winter's bare branches nearly breaks my heart with its beauty. So it would be a mistake—even hypocritical—to view my own releases and lettings-go in any other way.

Oh, to learn to release like a tree! To just be clean and done with it and leave the detritus to the wind...or some fool with a rake. I don't actually rake my leaves anyway. I mulch them, either with a mower or a leaf mulcher. In that way, the leaves are transformed and used where they can do the most good, just as the universe transforms that which we let go of. The energy is put back into the universal soil to fuel new growth.

So here's the deal I'm going to make with myself tonight as I throw all the thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and even relationships that have outlived their welcome on the fire—I will not hold on to even a piece of them. And when I notice one trying to reattach itself to me, I will refuse to become host to its parasitic desires. As long as I hold on, that part of me cannot see the sun. It lowers the potential for transformation in that part of me. And it prolongs the misery for me and everyone else.

I'm sure plenty of new thorns will come along to implant in my side without those old ones taking up space. That is the nature of life and learning and growth. But along with those new thorns will come colorful buds, bursting with life. Then the whirlybirds that dance on the limbs before taking their spectacular, joyous and gentle fall to earth. And the the leaves that open up and receive the universe's nectar, feeding the entire tree. It's amazing the processes that are set in motion simply by letting go.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

1/1/14—Clearing The Fields

Today's Draw: Ten of Fire from the Gaian Tarot. Is there a fire raging in your life right now? What are the good things being left exposed in the ash? And what of the bad things are worth starting a whole new fire, in order to consume them once and for all?

Maybe 10 years ago or so, I drove past a farmer's field that was smoking from a recent fire. I had never seen this before, so I thought something tragic had happened. But then a few miles down the road, I saw another burned out field. And another. This was the first time I realized that farmers occasionally burn fields to kill all the old growth and weeds. Then, I suppose, they turn the soil and plant something new. It's like a clean slate. A field that used to grow soybeans can now grow corn. 

The same concept is used by nature. Forest fires, for example, are actually necessary to keeping the forest healthy. Too much vegetation can prevent seeds from germinating, stopping the growth of new trees—and thus endangering the generational growth cycle. Also, the denser the forest, the hotter it burns and the more destructive the fire becomes. So occasional fires in the forest are mother nature's form of self-care and even damage control.

Usually when we see a Ten of Wands, it's depicting someone so overwhelmed, burdened or oppressed that they can't move. They feel trapped in the fire with no way out. Whether it's work or financial matters, family or relationships, we all feel that way at one time or another. Then once the flames subside, whether we wanted it or not, we're left with a fresh slate upon which to write. 

Over the past year, I have been caught a couple of times with fires burning all around me. And the ash they've left behind has exposed some things still left standing that no longer have a place in my life (along with a number of good things I want to keep). Some of them are the things I've written about here...attitudes toward others and the way I handle my own self care. But there are other things I haven't spoken so much about...thoughts about how I spend my time, who I call friend and where my energies have been misguided. 

Sometimes fires happen to you. And sometimes you set them yourself, clearing what no longer serves to make space for new growth and a more evolved life.

As the new year begins, there are a few places in my life I feel a need to douse in gasoline and set ablaze. Anyone else out there need a light?

*Adapted from a post originally written on 5/4/12. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

12/31/13—Ringing Out The Old

Today's Draw: Re Birth from the Healing Energy Cards. Do you do New Year's resolutions? What are you looking forward to in the new year? Will you be using the powers of the new moon to assist your process of ringing out the old and ringing in the new?

The description on the card reads (in part), "Let go of old wounds that hold you back....Awaken your truth." Could there possibly BE a more appropriate draw for New Year's Eve?

In the past year I had three things I would call betrayals happen...friends who either lied to me about something important, told lies about me about something important or dumped me because I wouldn't bend to their will about something important to me. I don't know why I linger over stuff like this. Intellectually I know that this is their issue and not mine and I should be well rid of them. But emotionally it hurts. 

A couple of nights ago, I presided over a year-end ritual. This is something I do every year and, for the past few years, I've done it at a friend's/colleague's house for members of her metaphysical meetup group. When considering what I wanted to release for the coming year, I said I wanted to release the baggage of betrayal...the hurt, lingering thoughts and resentments. In the ritual, we write what we want to release on a piece of paper and burn it. (Then we write down what we want to encourage in the new year on seed paper and plant it and watch it grow over the year.)

But it's not enough to do just that. You have to examine why that betrayal came into your life. For me, I had to look at the ways I lie to myself or refuse myself things that are important to me. I have to understand what these "friends" were mirroring back to me. Stuff like this doesn't happen in a vacuum. I would never do the things they did to me to anyone else. But, upon inspection, it turns out I would do it to myself. 

So those are the old wounds I need to let go of. And that is my truth. :)

New Year's night is a new moon or a dark moon or "no moon". In earth-based religions, new moons hold the ideal energy for releasing things. It's like the last light of the moon draws things out of your life energetically, then the fulling moon draws new things in. So I'll be using that energy to reaffirm my release of the baggage of betrayal that I've been carrying this year. 

I find it quite auspicious and powerful that it occurs on New Year's Day because I believe that you have to release something in order to bring something new in. Like if you want to resolve to lose weight in the new year, there is some sort of behavior that must be released to allow that to happen...the over-eating, the lack of exercise or whatever. 

Every new minute and every new day brings the opportunity to be reborn. But the new year brings a new minute, new day, new month and new year, making it a great time for a fresh start. What do you hope to release this year? And what will you begin anew?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

12/30/13—Moving Alone Toward the Light

Today's Draw: Six of Wands from the Light Visions Tarot. Are you feeling lonely on your spiritual path? Do you encounter friends that don't understand the changes you're going through and drift away? Do you have a spiritual buddy, romantic or otherwise, you've managed to share your spiritual path with for, say, 10 or 20 years?

This card immediately produced several thoughts for me. One is that it's very evocative of the traditional image of the Six of Swords. And the second thought I had was that it also conjured thoughts of a Viking funeral before the fire is lit. 

But the woman on this boat is alive and hopeful and dressed in ceremonial robes. Traditionally this card would be about a victory of some sort. So seeing her launched into the rising or setting sun with her head upturned like that, I feel as though there's been a graduation or ascension of sorts, and all her hard work is bringing her to a new place. 

Of the 22 cards in tarot's major arcana (depicting major life lessons), the lion's share feature a human acting alone. All the other cards either have no humans in them or the humans are pictured in some sort of subordinate role to something greater going on. I believe this reflects the solitary path we all take in life, but most notably the solitary path of a spiritual seeker. 

While one's religious path is frequently shared with others in churches or in groups, the spiritual path is largely solitary. Which doesn't mean you won't meet others who share your beliefs. You will. But it means that people grow and evolve at different rates and in different directions and sail off to greet the unique challenges and opportunities that appear as they move along their path. So it can be a more transient gathering of like minds. There is no book to follow. No specific teaching. It's an off-road adventure commandeered only by you. 

But it's also solitary in the choices you make. Say, for example, that you choose to no longer gossip because it's an activity that doesn't come from love and you're on a loving path. So the next time your gossip friends start to gossip and you drop out, they'll think you hoity toity. And whether or not you judge them, they'll feel judged. Possibly even offended. They may even come up with reasons why gossip serves a higher purpose than your non-gossiping complacency does and put the judgment on you. And if gossip formed a good portion of your relationship, you'll no longer be able to be around them. And their gossip will probably turn to you. And you'll have nobody to share that experience with. As someone pointed out to me today, doing the right thing can have wrong consequences. 

Another piece of relevant wisdom that has come to me recently is that people will evolve in groups around certain pain points. So members of AA come together as a group to heal the causes of their addiction, for example. Some will eventually move beyond the program, which could ruffle feathers. But when you learn what you're there to learn, heal what you're there to heal, and choose to no longer be a fully engaged member of the program by attending regular meetings or sponsoring newbies, you are once again alone. Everyone's needs on their paths are unique and individual. And the same is true of every group, from the Hell's Angels to the knitting circle. 

Now, of course, you are never alone on a spiritual path because you always have God. As trite as that sounds, it's true. But just as we can see these partings between friends, family members and groups as sad or painful occurrences, we can also see them as a graduation of sorts. Whatever the woman in the card is moving toward, she's doing it alone. And we can surmise she left others on shore when she took off on this solitary journey. And yet she is at peace with herself because she knows what she is sailing toward is bigger than any resentments, grief, sadness or anger that sprang up with what she left behind. 

Personally, that part is hard for me. We all want everything tied up pretty with a bow and smiling faces all around. But the kind of growth we experience on our path isn't always surrounded by singing bluebirds and dancing deer. Some don't understand why you have to change. Some take it personally. Some consider you a traitor. And because you're moving forward on a new set of wheels and carrying new lessons, your own fears and doubt and future lessons rear up until you can find a balance and focus again on your path. 

It can be painful. And the closer I look at this image, I see bags under eyes as if she'd been crying....or as if she'd died. And a part of her had to in order to book passage to the next stage. She is moving out of the dark and into the light. So it is a death of sorts...a death we experience a million times over on our spiritual paths. Both joyous and sad. And, like any death, something, on some level, we have to experience alone.