Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Little Book of Spirit Stories: The Fire on the Hill

This is the first in a series of first hand experiences with the paranormal.  Enjoy!

A Little Book of Spirit Stories
The Fire on the Hill

Beginning in 1985, I had the honor of studying Orff-Schulwerk Music for Children at UCSC with an amazing teacher from Texas, Avon Gillespie. Avon was an African American man, spirited, full of life and passion, who taught us how to teach children from the "inside-out", recognizing their innate musical abilities and love of life. For 3 years a group of us worked closely with Avon and other mentors, developing our own teaching skills and styles. We sang spirituals together, danced and improvised, and experienced music in a new and exciting way.

Then in the late 1980's, Avon became ill with what later became clear was AIDS. At that time, it was still not considered good etiquette to discuss the HIV virus  openly, but we all knew that it was likely that he would not live long which turned out to be true. After his death, we gathered for a series of rituals, the first one in Santa Cruz where we had all studied and where I created the altar in honor of our great teacher.

About 6 months after his death, a small group of us were attending a music workshop in Marin county. After the days activities were done, about 10 of us stood in a circle and spontaneously began singing one of Avon's spirituals, the name of which eludes me now, clapping our hands and singing with enthusiasm!  The circle moved outdoors and we continued to sing, calling in Avon's spirit and remembering him.

Then, just as we finished our song, we noticed with great awe that a fire had spontaneously erupted on the hill just to our right, and as we watched, a Perfect Circle burned in the hillside.

A Perfect Circle!  We stood there as it continued to burn, and within about 5 minutes it had stopped.

Was this Avon speaking to us?  A coincidence? Probably not.

photo stock Fire Circle

Friday, October 30, 2009

Perceptual Differentiation: Old Souls

Old Soul Perceptual Differentiation
excerpted from a private session with permission

Michael: "When the old soul is faced with perceptual differences there is most often an innate understanding in place which supports the reaction best described as "you do your thing, I will do mine". It is then through this perceptual lens that the old soul seeks a life of relative stability in order to not be bothered too much where he or she is free to experience their "budding" relationship to the Tao which of course has been there all along. Due to the tendency for lack of struggle here, the older soul is less likely to need to duke it out with other fragments in order to prove their point and most times completes their monads with relative ease. Of course there are always exceptions to this as will be indicated in the upcoming case studies. It is important to remember that each and every fragment can choose in each and every moment and there are no blueprints for the "Grand Design" which assures each and every fragment of a "perfect" and "easy"
process through lives on the physical plane. There are of course tendencies and to this we have spoken here. All is chosen".

Water Vortex photo National Geographic

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Perceptual Differentiation: Mature Souls

Michael on Mature Soul Perceptual Differentiation
excerpted with permission from a private session

Michael: "In stark contrast to the earlier levels, the mature soul is committed to processing the monads with the utmost of emotional integrity and this includes delving deeply into the root causes of all emotional responses. It is during this cycle that the monads and this is especially true of the 4th monad become mired in the responsibility of determining the truth of all things and this is true most poignantly when a mature soul fragment is attempting to understand why another fragment does not feel the same way they do. In the baby soul cycle for example perceptual differentiation is not often validated for the expectation is that all fragments should think the same and if they don't then they are wrong. The mature soul on the other hand realizes that what they feel may be different than what another fragment feels and they are more likely to attempt to reconcile the disparate feelings both within themselves and with the other fragment in order to create more harmony. This is the struggle that occurs in the mature soul cycle and one that need be resolved before the old soul cycle begins and is usually done so through the serving a corrupt master monad when the mature soul initially believes that the other fragment must certainly feel the same but after the monad realized that his is not necessarily true. This particular juncture is an important one in the overall emotional maturation process in that it is at this point that the fragment understands the true nature of perceptual differences".

photo National Geographic

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Perceptual Differention: Young Souls

Michael on Young Soul Perceptual Differentiation
Excerpted from a private session with permission

Michael: Young souls of course "branch out" in order to achieve success and their perceptions are predicated on the experiences of achievement. The monadal processes then are geared toward mastery over their external environment just as the later mature soul cycle is dedicated toward understanding their internal mechanisms through relationships to self and others. During the young soul cycle every monad is evaluated on the basis of their relationship to accomplishment in one way or another and their responses to the world at large tend to be intellectual rather than emotional. Most times a young soul will tell you what they think about how they are feeling rather than the other way around and this is also true of the monadal process as well. This does not mean that young souls do not feel, but rather that emotional center is not usually first and foremost in terms of importance.

photo National Geographic

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Perceptual Differentiation: Baby Souls

Michael on Baby Soul Perceptual Differentiation
excerpted from a private session with permission

Michael: "The baby soul has of course more experience with emotional process but tends to see things in "Black and White" or "right and wrong" and stays most times within the confines of their own social group where such beliefs are in agreement one with the other. Outsiders are often avoided but when it becomes necessary there can be confrontation with strong religious overtones which preface their perceptions with a world view that is decidedly limited. There is no wrong here of course. In terms of their perceptions, we would say that the baby soul tends to see life in a very controlled way which then maintains structure and order. The monadal process is therefore always tinged or tainted with the fear which is a result of their own strict adherence to rules and regulations which are self imposed as well as socially acceptable. Baby souls do tend to congregate together in order to maintain boundaries against the "other" and where they are able to experience safety and assurance of their "rightness"".

photo National Geographic

Monday, October 26, 2009

Michael on Perceptual Differentiation: Infant

Excerpted from a private session with permission

Michael: "We will suggest here that perceptual differentiation is perhaps one of the central points in human to human interaction and relationships and this includes both commonalities as well as disharmonies. Many fragments are perplexed when other fragments do not see "eye to eye" with them and often lack the ability to accept such differences, thereby creating both disharmony in the onset and out and out strife if tempers flare and emotions run wild. This truth as we see it becomes even more exaggerated when the various soul age perceptions come in to focus and we do think it useful to study the various modes through which the soul ages process information and this includes emotional responses in order to better understanding the overall evolution of human involvement and relationships.

The infant level soul is unfamiliar of course with emotions as they have little or no experience on the physical plane. Most responses therefore are extreme and based in fear which further cements the "don't do it at all" mentality which is the motto of the infant soul. These early level souls are in fact closer to the Tao than later levels (except old) and yet do not understand the complexities of human experiences as they are still connected if you will to their cadence and entities. The infant soul tends to live on the fringe as do many old souls in order to protect themselves from the complications of everyday life and when they do process their own internal monads in response to external stimuli, they tend to avoid subtleties much in the way a beginning musician is learning to play his or her chosen instrument. The "sounds" that are made are stark in contrast and tend to be "loud" or "soft" rather than "moderately loud" or "sustained". Such innuendoes develop in the later cycles of course. These descriptions do not mean to imply than an infant level soul does not feel love or passion, but rather that these emotions tend to be in the most rudimentary level and therefore their ability to process more intricate relationship emotions are limited and most times avoided due to the fear involved".

photo stock photos

Sunday, October 25, 2009

4 Shamanic Healing Salves: Dance

To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.   Hopi Indian Saying

Dance or movement is the healing salve or medicine of the north.  Through the body we can focus our energies and become totally present, allowing as Angeles Arrien says for the Warrior archetype to manifest in the world, embracing challenges with intention and clarity. Many of us have neglected dance and the importance of movement in our lives.

Part of the reason we have forgotten is that many of us have social expectations about what dance "should" look like, what our bodies "should" look like. Telling us what is cool, hip, graceful, and beautiful. No wonder we shut down and stop moving! There are a multitude of messages in the world constantly reminding us that if we can't keep the beat, we should sit on the sidelines, keeping quiet, and simply watching others even if we long to move and express ourselves.

There are many ways to move from tapping feet, swinging hands, clapping, rolling necks, jumping, twirling, skipping, hopping, swimming, running, bending.

You can reach to the sky, touch the ground, roll in the grass, float in the ocean. Listen to nature and find the music! Or make your own..... So many possibilities.

Today find a way to move!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Getting into Heaven Egyptian Style

Getting into Heaven
excerpted from The Bucket List, a film.

Sitting top one of the Egyptian pyramids, the two men survey the landscape. Having both been diagnosed with terminal illness, they had recently embarked on a world-wide adventure, vowing to see and do everything they had desired to experience in their lives from visiting Africa to skydiving to seeing The Taj Mahal. One of the men, Edward Cole, was very rich but lonely, bankrolling their travels while the other, Carter Chambers, had been a car mechanic his whole life, a working man, and married to the same woman for 50 yrs. They were in stark contrast to one another yet shared the common thread of facing death.

"Do you know what the Egyptians think about getting into heaven?" Carter posed to Edward.

"Not a clue" Edward replied.

"They say when you go to Heaven God asks you 2 questions to decide if you get to come into Heaven or not.  Do you know what they are?" said Carter.

"Nope" shrugged Edward.

"Well, the first question is Have you found Joy?" said Carter.

"Oh, well I suppose I have found some joy" Edward said hesitantly.

"Ok, and the second question is Have you brought Joy to others?" said Carter quietly.

"Hmmmm, well, um.  (silence)  We all do the best we can" said Edward. (he begins to explain why he is not seeing his adult daughter).

"Yes, but have you brought Joy others???" questioned Carter.

In many ways we have become self absorbed in our desire to experience happiness in our lives which may translate into Joy. But how often do we think about bringing Joy to others? The quote "Let me be an instrument of thy Peace" might be one to think about today as we nurture joy within ourselves and then radiate that Joy outward to others.

Question: How am I giving and receiving Joy in my life?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Your Daily Gandhi

"As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world- that is the myth of the atomic age- as in being able to remake ourselves."

Mohandes Gandhi

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Exploring Archetypes: The Magician

The Magician is a youthful figure smiling with confidence. In the French Tarot he is known as Le Bateleur, "the mountebank" or the "sleight of hand artist", a stage magician.

In later Tarot decks he becomes The Magus as his curving hat become the infinity symbol above his head. Around his waist is another symbol of infinity, the Ouroboros or serpent eating its own tail, eternally transforming from one state to another. His hands point to both heaven and earth as he reminds us that he is of this world and of the spirit world.

On the table in front of him are the 4 suits of the Tarot: earth (discs), air (swords), fire, (wands), and water (cups). He has all the tools he needs for transformation.

The Magician reminds us that we have everything we need in order to create and while he is known as "the Magus" which sounds magical, he is in fact a skilled communicator who bridges the spirit world and the everyday world. He knows the art of right timing and when to use his tools: Disks for mastery of the physical, Swords for clear thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs, Wands for Intuitive insights, and Cups for Emotional flow and responses.

I see The Magus as a card of Infinite Possibilities. When he comes up in a reading, I think of all the tools available in every moment, that all we need do is remember that we can draw upon them during our days to create positive outcomes.

Questions: What are my Magus tools and how am I utilizing them?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Showing Up

Many things come our way in the course of a single day.

Today I've been thinking about what some of the Shamanic cultures call "Showing Up" or what Buddhists call "Being in the present". Being supple and flexible, bending without breaking like the willow tree. Moving with the currents of the River. Floating like a feather in the wind. Going with the proverbial flow.

All beautiful metaphors for Flexibility.

But what about all our plans? Schedules? Appointments?

Can we be present in the moment and in the flow while still showing up to our agreements?  Certainly. It's all in the way we look at things.  If, when opening our calendars to see what we have "on the books", we recoil when seeing that we have through our own choice packed our day full of activities, then we are constricting our natural energies, stopping the flow. If we instead notice that we have a very busy day ahead and greet our choices with ease, then we can move seemlessly between engagments. Yes, not all days flow so easily as clocks tick and people rush. We can however choose how we are going to respond to what the world grants us on a given day. We always get to choose.

So today, Show Up and see what the day has to give to you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Michael's Larger Perspective

Question:  Please explain more about how Michael’s larger viewpoint comes about.

MICHAEL: It might not be amiss here to state that our perspective of life on the physical plane is derived not only from our singular or fragmental experiences while living life on your earth, but also from the culmination of experiences led by all members of our entity which were in total 1050 at the time of fragmentation. Of course at this juncture (on the causal plane), all previous fragmentation has ended due to the nature of the cycles of evolution. This is to say that once a fragment begins the process of incarnation, then the process will be completed. Each fragment will experience all soul levels in the order of infant, baby, young, mature and old, and once these levels are complete the fragment will reunite with the entity in the high astral plane. At this point there is still some fragmentation, but as the entity progresses to the causal plane all memories of individual ensoulment are blended into the knowledge base of the entity and the entity functions as a whole, not as separate parts in individual bodies as was the case during the lives lived. When all experiences are blended and integrated then all knowledge honed during the fragmented process will become part of the greater knowledge of the entity, which while accessible previously by each and every fragment in-between lives still remained separate in terms of the impact on the fragment itself. We do not see this as complex, but rather the natural process of returning to the state from which each fragment came, which is the entity configuration itself.

excerpted from a private session with permission c.2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Health In Relationships: Evaluation


It is important to evaluate the first 3 components ongoing to determine if the relationship is functioning in a healthy way or if the form has become outdated. Use meditation and contemplation to reach a deeper understanding.

Purpose, Structure, and Implementation were the first 3 steps in the process of creating more health in our relationships. At the 4th or neutral step we can pause to evaluate what we have come to understand as true during the initial process before continuing.

Ask questions, gather information. The 4th step is an internal one and works well with writing and other processes which are self reflective. Sometimes it is necessary to return to the first step, identifying the purpose of the relationship, if this reflective process brings up more questions.

Questions: What have I learned so far?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Gateway of Music

The impact of music on my own life has, through the years, been highly significant both in terms of my own enjoyment of the arts, but on accessing higher centers which then allow me to experience joy.

A few nights ago I had the pleasure of attending an amazing San Francisco Symphony concert featuring Itzhak Perlman, my favorite violinist, who as a child was stricken with polio and now walks only with braces and crutches. To say that he plays beautifully is an understatement and you would have to hear his soulful tone to truly understand the depth of beauty that sings from his instrument when he plays. The concert opened with a Bach concerto which was precise and focused as Perlman not only was the soloist but also the conductor. Still, it was after the Bach ended and the next piece began, Elgars's Introduction and Allegro for String Orchestra that I remembered for the first time in a long while what it was like to sit in the middle of a magnificant orchestra and play.

When the orchestra is in the groove, it is ecstatic.

This piece by is rich with emotion, fluid, beautiful, deep, poignant. As I listened I found my eyes closing, focused only on the sound of the notes. The beauty of such a piece as this escapes words just as it is difficult to share with words how one feels when seeing a "perfect" work of art. It's personal truth, yes, but it's also so much more than that when music literally sweeps you into something greater than yourself, into love, truth, and ecstacy.  I wanted to dance! Sitting in my chair was limiting. In such a moment as this one, of higher emotional center, the heart opens!

Music does many things of course. Generation "X" has used music to convey anger, rage, and distrust of the older generation just as music of the 60's communicated that love is the way and not war. Each period of music models the theme of the culture during which it was written. Introduction and Allegro, written in 1902, followed the stifling Victorian Period where rules and etiquette supressed emotions and encouraged the listener to feel
just as the later Stravinsky Ballets of 1910 (Firebird), Petrushka (1911) and the progressive Rite of Spring (1913) pushed the listener to feel raw emotions which were usually considered to be socially unacceptable.

Today's music is everywhere: the radio, television, internet, CD's. We listen to popular music which include common themes of love gone wrong, betrayal, independence. Music can be simply for entertainment "value". But my question is what are we really listening to, what is this music of the day? What we "take in" whether it is music, language, or visuals impacts us. In simple words , is it a positive vibration or not?  I encourage you all to become discerning, make choices about what you listen to. Country music may be your thing, or rock, or blues, classics. Pay attention to your emotional reactions. As Sly and the Family Stone said "Music can take you higher".

Question: What music do I choose today?

art: Woman with Cello  Artist unknown

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Butterfly Circus

The Butterfly Circus is an amazing short film, about 20 minutes, that reminds us of the strength of the human spirit. Take a moment today to be inspired!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lao Tzu Chapter 14

Look for it- it is invisible;
Listen for it- it is silent;
Try to grasp it- it is not solid.
Its nature is bodiless,
Yet it is the essence of the body.

Its darkness is the source of light,
Its infinitude, the ground of time.
It is the Formless One
From which all forms arise.

Pursue, and it eludes you;
Follow, and it vanishes.
Thought cannot hold it,
But you can't think without it.

It is the thread of all being,
The origin, the pulse of time.
It is the wave upon the strand of life:
Pervading, defining, nourishing.

From the Tao de Ching of Lao Tzu

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Letting Go of our Stories

I just heard of a story which I would like to share today.

In “A New Earth”, Eckhart Tolle describes a story entitled "The Duck With The Human Mind". He says that when two ducks get into a fight, it never lasts too long, because the ducks will separate and float off in opposite directions. “The duck will flap its wings vigorously a few times, thus releasing the surplus energy that built up during the fight. After they flap their wings, they float on peacefully, as if nothing had ever happened. If the duck had a human mind, it would keep the fight alive by thinking, by story-making. This would probably be the duck’s story: “I don’t believe what he just did. He came to within five inches of me. He thinks he owns this pond. He has no consideration for my private space. I’ll never trust him again. Next time he’ll try something else just to annoy me. I’m sure he’s plotting something already. But I’m not going to stand for this. I’ll teach him a lesson he won’t forget.”

Tolle summarizes, “But this is how most humans live all the time. No situation or event is ever really finished. ...We are a species that has lost its way. Everything natural, every flower or tree, and every animal have important lessons to teach us if we would only stop, look, and listen. Our duck’s lesson is this: Flap your wings - which translates as “let go of the story” - and return to the only place of power: the present moment.”

This story illustrates how our minds get caught up in making up stories about our experiences. We may in the moment find ourselves feeling deeply;

Our dog has just died and we feel intense grief. We reunite with a lover and feel intense joy. We fly into a rage when someone crosses our boundaries.

All of these feelings are valid. However, it is our thoughts that follow the emotions that lead to the tangles I wrote about in my blog "The Life Tapestry". And, it's what we do with these thoughts that make all the difference. In the moment that we notice our thoughts going down that all too familiar pathway of "story", we can stop, take a deep breath, and return to our center. If we are still feeling the intensity of the emotions, we can "flap our wings" and release the energy just as the duck did. It is then we can return to the present moment, to our "place of power". We can return to our Pond.

Duck Dance by ViaMoi

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Your Daily Rumi

"Load the ship and set out. No one knows for certain whether the vessel will sink or reach the harbor. Cautious people say, "I'll do nothing until I can be sure". Merchants know better. If you do nothing, you lose. Don't be one of those merchants who wont risk the ocean."


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Life Tapestry: Weaving, Knots, and Tangles

"We are the weavers,
We are the woven ones,
We are the dreamers,
We are the dream".

It has been said that our lives are a tapestry that we weave, choosing color, fabric, texture, style, and design. Each of us is entirely unique and bring gifts and talents to the world which, if the tapestry is woven cleanly, shine through as we become who we truly are. We express the beauty of our lives through the weave.

What has become curious to me is how we become tangled along the way. Certainly there are times when the weaving of this metaphoric tapestry is smooth and even with each strand delicately and precisely put into place in the grand design. We feel confident and centered, open to a little adventure here and there, enjoying our lives with all the "ups and downs",' knowing that the bumps will ease soon enough. But sometimes we also begin to notice little tangles in the threads which can over time, if not undone, become knots which then seem to stop up in our progress. We see and feel these knots in different ways, often times in our bodies, appearing as headaches and stomach aches, intestinal upsets. Our thinking becomes distorted and filled with worries, both real and imagined. Life ceases to be easy and graceful as it becomes challenging, difficult, and contracted. We no longer are in the flow; we feel stuck, lethargic, uninspired. Or we may feel anxious and worried, knowing something isn't quite right but having no idea what that might be.

These knots then. What are they? My belief, based on personal experience as well as sharing many stories with friends and clients, is that they are unresolved emotions.

If, during an experience, we feel intensely and yet we do not express those feelings then they are pushed down into our subconscious where they lay dormant. But just as the sleeping tiger of addiction is quiet when the addict is not actively using a substance, these feelings continue to exist whether or not we are aware of them.  A momentary feeling which is not a "10" on the Richter scale of emotions can still conjoin with other similar emotions to create a den of entanglements, much like the Medusas head of swirling snakes. Much of the time we have little or no awareness of this storehouse, that is until an external event takes place and our Tiger or Medusa rises up into ferociously into consciousness, bringing into the light those emotions which have been kept hidden and out of sight. A sudden headache, fatigue, depression, anxiety looms.....We begin to feel tense. We start to feel the knots. Our tapestry continues to be woven knots and all.

As we notice our tangles, we have taken the first step toward untangling them. We allow ourselves to safely feel them and as we do, they can be released. We need not attack them with intensity and instead can begin to see when they come up, when we feel them, when it is safe now to feel these emotions. We can choose to find ways to express our understanding of our tangles through writing, music, dance and movement, art, and storytelling using metaphor and symbology. These tangles and knots lose their power over us. There is energy tied up in the knots which then becomes available to us. Herein lies the GOLD.

It is possible to choose to weave your tapestry without tangles. It is possible to choose to be free.

Breathe. Allow. Release. Untangle.

Upcoming blogs will include the role of our thoughts in the creation of suffering and their relationship to our "tangles".

Quote From Spiraling into the Center by Lorna Koehler

Monday, October 12, 2009

Understanding Tarot: Personality and Soul Cards

You can learn more about yourself by learning to identify your personal Tarot cards that are based on your date of birth. It's an easy process that you can use for yourself, family, and friends. Once you find out which cards are yours, then you can refer to the list of Major Arcana cards in my previous blog where there are simple descriptions of the individual card meanings.

Calculating your Personality and Soul Symbols using the Tarot is done adding the month, day, century and year of your birth together. In most cases the total can then be reduced to only two major arcana numbers which then become the Personality and Soul Cards. Occasionally the reduction will get a birth date that reduces to three numbers, such as a Sun, Wheel, Magician (19 = 10 = 1). The Personality Card has to do with how you express yourself externally while The Soul Card is how you experience life on a Soul or internal level. The Personality card may be more of how others see you while the Soul card is more of how you see or experience yourself.

For example, if you were born on Dec. 8, 1950 , you add 1950 +12 + 8 = 1970. You then add 1 + 9 + 7 + 0 which equals 17. The number 17 is The Star in the Tarot which is the personality card. It is then reduced to 8 (1 + 7) which is Justice or the Soul card.

In the event that your numbers add up to 22, then your personality card would be The Emperor (4) and your Soul Card The Fool (0).

If your final total equals a double digit number higher than 22, reduce it to a single digit, Your personality and soul card will be the same. Example is 12 + 24 + 1940 = 1976 = 23= 5 (Hierophant). This means you have a double emphasis in this life on the area specific to the card.

Another way to use the Tarot to better understand yourself is to calculate your Year or Growth Card.This is done the same way as above except you use the current year instead of your birth year. For example, our Dec. 8th birthday could then be used with 2009 (2009 + 12 + 8 = 2029) to arrive at the reduced number 13. The 13th Major Arcana card is Death which implies that beginning on 12-8-2009 a one year cycle would begin focused on transformation and letting go.

Have fun!
Candle illustration by Paula Becker

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Sunday Morning Fool

The Fool and the Abbot

It so happened that a Fool and an Abbot sat down to have a meal together. All went well, good food and lively conversation, until finally it was time for dessert. The server set two steaming pieces of apple pie on the table, one much larger than the other. The Fool immediately grabbed the larger piece and began to gleefully gobble it up. The Abbot was horrified!

“How can you be so rude!” he exclaimed. “Where are your manners, where is your sense of fairness, morality, generosity, kindness, respect?”

The Fool was caught quite by surprise. Putting down his fork, he slowly thought about what the Abbot had said. After a moment he began to understand the Abbot’s point.

“Do you mean to say that if I hadn't gone first, you would have taken the smaller piece?” he asked incredulously.

“Well, of course I would have” stated the Abbot emphatically. “I have respect for others, and a generous and kind nature which is the result of many years of meditation and hard work.”

The Fool took another moment to take in what the wise Abbot had told him, and then looked down at the table where the two half-eaten pieces of pie now sat. A broad smile came over his face as he took in the whole situation.

“Well”, he said, “It looks like we’re in luck; it turns out that we both got exactly what we wanted!”

Illustration 19th century engraving of Will Somers, King Henry VIII's jester

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Understanding Tarot: Intro to the Major Arcana

"The Tarot is a symbolic map of consciousness and an ancient book of wisdom that reveals to us visually and symbolically the creative ideas and states of consciousness that appear in all cultures. The 78 symbols are portraitures and archetypes of inner and outer experiences that are prevalent within human experience....that function as a universal language where an individual's internal and external worlds intersect and attempt to dialogue with each other. In any kind of inner work, whether it be in dreams, meditation, contemplation, guided imagery, or creative visualizations, symbols appear as signposts or keys and they function as containers, revealers or concealors of meaning to enable us "to penetrate into the deeper mysteries of life"".

Angeles Arrien Introduction to The Tarot Handbook with reference in quotes to ML von Franz

Tarot is a complex system which serves as a mirror to us of our internal processes. There are many places to begin in discussing the Tarot including its history, usage and applications; I have chosen to start with a brief description of each of the 22 Major Arcana cards. The 22 cards from The Fool to The Universe depict the Journey of the Soul through a single lifetime including all the many lessons we learn as we move from birth to death before we start the cycle over again in our next life.

The symbol for this blog is the Ouroboros or Serpent eating its tail. This ancient symbol represents cyclicality in the sense of something continuing to re-create itself by returning to its source. The drawing depicts the young child leaning comfortably on the skull, signifying the natural cycle of birth and death. We journey through each lifetime only to die and then be reborn in the next as the cycle continues. The Tarot is a cogent illustration of this process and has been used for self reflection and divination for hundreds of years.
0 The Fool The Walker between the Worlds, Radiance
1 The Magician Communication, Creation, Magic
2 The High Priestess Intuitive, Perception, Oracle
3 The Empress The Great Mother, Nurturer
4 The Emperor Leadership, The Pioneer and Builder
5 The Hierophant Teacher, Counselor, education
6 The Lovers Duality of Relationships, Dark and Light, Unification
7 The Chariot The Principle of Change, movement
8 Justice Adjustment, The law, Karma
9 The Hermit The seeker, introspection, The Crossroads
10 The Wheel of Fortune Abundance, Prosperity, Cycles
11 Strength Courage, Power, fortitude
12 The Hanged One Principle of Letting go, release, surrender
13 Death Transformation, change
14 Temperance or Art Creation, integration, synergy
15 The Devil Temptation, entanglements, what we are "chained" to
16 The Tower Purification, de-structuring, self awareness
17 The Star Hope, vision, healing, self-esteem
18 The Moon Choice, illusion, mutability, truth
19 The Sun Collaboration, Teamwork
20 Aeon or Judgment Understanding, Actualization, Coming to terms with
21 The World/Universe Self Actualization, expansion, Big picture

Next Blog: Personality and Soul Cards. I will also be exploring these individual archetypes in greater details in upcoming blogs.

Drawing circa 1400

Friday, October 9, 2009

Exploring Archetypes: The Fool

I'm apricot dawn and adamant noon,
quicksilver chameleon, full howl at the moon.
Prince Frog-In-The-Well, glad jack of no trade,
a walkabout madman, I'm beds left unmade.
Diamond-draped beggar, coyote's sharp bark;
I'm merry-go-lightly and bells in the dark.
I'm zero that circles all that will be.
I'm newborn and know-naught,I'm spirit set free.

Fools Walk by Cyndi Kirkpatrick (a work in progress)

He is the Walker between the Worlds, the Shaman or Alchemist who is comfortable being both somewhere and nowhere. He is the moment after death and before birth, he is the seeker within all of us. He is both everything and nothing.

The Fool Archetype is aptly represented as the number 0 in Tarot cards and is the moment before birth when the soul is about to embark on the earth bound journey. There is great joy and abandon in this symbol as the Fool literally is about to step off a cliff with a smiling face, unaware of what may come in the future but really not caring much about that at all. He is limitless creativity, spontaneity, and enthusiasm. He reminds us to enjoy being in the moment and to take a leap of faith! He is not foolish or foolhardy or rash, but is open to all possibilities, to anything and everything he may encounter. He has the capacity to give birth to new forms.

Young children readily embrace the energies of the Fool archetype as they dance, play, sing, and enjoy life without fear. They do not look ahead, but instead look at their own feet! This is where I am today, I am alive! As adults we can, like the symbol of the yipping dog in the Fool tarot card, constantly be worried with all the distractions of daily life, and forget our playful nature. Bringing the Fool archetype into our lives on a daily basis creates more joy and yes, fun!

With the Fool energy we can feel light-hearted and refreshed, ready for our new adventure...

Mantras for the Fool Archetype:
"I am curious and without fear"
"My life is unfolding with ease and grace"
"I am experiencing delight in every moment"
"I welcome the day whatever it may bring!"

Tarot card image from the Rider Waite Deck

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More on Essence Contact

"And when this ability to make essence contact is realized in a specific lifetime, then that ability carries forward into subsequent incarnations if the fragment chooses to make use of this ability. Older souls, who in our estimation are mid-cycle mature and on in level, often can remember these experiences when in contact with those fragments with whom they have shared in the past, and this is especially so with essence twins, task companions, cadence and entity mates. "

"Of course the interference of fear through the influence of chief features can obfuscate essence contact, making it difficult if not impossible. Including true rest and true play on a regular basis in the life can reduce the impact of fear, making access to the positive poles of the overleaves possible which then allows for more essence contact".

Michael from a private session used with permission

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Living the Simple Life

"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials". - Lin Yutang (1895-1976)

Harvard scholar and Taoist Lin Yutang wrote about the importance of living a simple life, one that is uncluttered with the many non-essentials that seems to take up our time and energy. For him, taking the time for a relaxing cup of tea, a long walk along the seashore, conversations with friends are all equal in importance to work and the tasks of making a living. These activities fill our spirit, helping to revitalize our energy. There will always be another dish to wash, floor to sweep, call to make, and paper to write. Allowing for daily "non-doing" is one of the keys to living the Simple Life.

Photo "Coffee stylinz" by Brendan McCarthy

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fate according to Jung

"When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate". Carl Jung

An interesting concept.

Is it possible that essence will create an external event to bring an experience to bare if we are not consciously aware of the underlying issue? Or if we are unwilling to resolve the issue so "fate" presents us with the opportunity for growth.... But perhaps"fate" is really our own essence participation after all and that essence makes the choice for us even without the conscious awareness of our personality.

Artwork "The Moirae" or Fates as depicted in a 16th century tapestry

Shamanic Healing Salve: Silence

"In the sweet territory of silence we touch the mystery. It's the place of reflection and contemplation, and it's the place where we can connect with the deep knowing, to the deep wisdom way".

Angeles Arrien in The Millionth Circle

The Shamanic Healing Salve or "medicine" of the West is Silence. In modern times, we have in many ways lost this sacred and very important healing modality, lost to the rush, rush, rush of every day life. The busyness or business of our lives seem to leave little time for contemplation, for soul moments when we may listen to the voice of our own hearts. There are so many things to do as well as so many things to think about!

Indigenous cultures not only honor silence as part of their way of life, but they set aside time for silence with solo time in nature. From the time children are quite small, they are encouraged to listen to the sounds of nature without intrusion, learning the lessons of the cycles of life through the intrinsic changes of season which include birth, fertility, full flowering, decline, death, and rebirth. They watch and learn.

So many of us have forgotten the ways of peaceful silence.

In his haiku on silence, poet James Traverse says:

Silence speaks volumes
without uttering a word
nothing is unsaid

Take a few moment today to enjoy the sweet fullness of silence...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Addiction in Fairy Tales: Soul Loss and Recovery

A continuation of the exploration of Addiction and our desire to connect with the Divine.


There was once a little girl who was very pretty and delicate, but in summer she was forced to run about with bare feet, she was so poor, and in winter wear very large wooden shoes, which made her little insteps quite red, and that looked so dangerous! In the middle of the village lived old Dame Shoemaker; she sat and sewed together, as well as she could, a little pair of shoes out of old red strips of cloth; they were very clumsy, but it was a kind thought. They were meant for the little girl. The little girl was called Catherine.On the very day her mother was buried, Catherine received the red shoes, and wore them for the first time. They were certainly not intended for mourning, but she had no others, and with stocking-less feet she followed the poor straw coffin in them.

Here we see that the little girl Catherine has suffered a great loss with the loss of her mother. She and the wise woman, the Dame Shoemaker, fashioned together a simple pair of shoes that, while not beautiful, were of her own making, echoing the "Resiliency of the Human Spirit".

Suddenly a large old carriage drove up, and an old lady sat in it: she looked at the little girl, felt compassion for her, and then said to the clergyman: "Here, give me the little girl. I will adopt her!" And Catherine believed all this happened on account of the red shoes, but the old lady thought they were horrible, and they were burnt.
The little Red Shoes were thrown into the fires, not to be transformed, but to be discarded. What was precious to Catherine meant little to the Old Woman in the Carriage. Catherine was beginning to lose her connection to her Spirit. The Old Woman in this does not represent wisdom but instead staid social values which are unbending and "frozen" in time, disallowing for the regenerative youthful spirit of little Catherine.

Now Catherine was old enough to be confirmed; she had new clothes and was to have new shoes also. The rich shoemaker in the city took the measure of her little foot. This took place at his house, in his room; where stood large glass-cases, filled with elegant shoes and brilliant boots. All this looked charming, but the old lady could not see well, and so had no pleasure in them. In the midst of the shoes stood a pair of red ones, just like those the princess had worn. How beautiful they were! The shoemaker said also they had been made for the child of a count, but had not fitted. "That must be patent leather!" said the old lady. "They shine so!""Yes, they shine!" said Catherine, and they fitted, and were bought, but the old lady knew nothing about their being red, else she would never have allowed Catherine to have gone in red shoes to be confirmed. Yet such was the case.
Catherine looks outside of herself and her own beauty and is tempted by the glamour of the shoes and of being a "Princess" in the eyes of the world. She wants the acceptance of others and chooses external riches, The Red Shoes, because she thinks that wearing them will make her feel whole. She wants to fill her emptiness with The Perfect Thing.

Everybody looked at her feet; and when she stepped through the chancel door on the church pavement, it seemed to her as if the old figures on the tombs, those portraits of old preachers and preachers' wives, with stiff ruffs, and long black dresses, fixed their eyes on her red shoes. And she thought only of them as the clergyman laid his hand upon her head, and spoke of the holy baptism, of the covenant with God, and how she should be now a matured Christian; and the organ pealed so solemnly; the sweet children's voices sang, and the old music-directors sang, but Catherine only thought of her red shoes.In the afternoon, the old lady heard from everyone that the shoes had been red, and she said that it was very wrong of Catherine, that it was not at all becoming, and that in future Catherine should only go in black shoes to church, even when she should be older.
The Church represents the influence of cultural expectations and the imposition of morality in this story. The power of the Collective is strong and demands that the individual adhere to rules and regulations. She can think of nothing else, she is obsessed.

The next Sunday there was the sacrament, and Catherine looked at the black shoes, looked at the red ones--looked at them again, and put on the red shoes.
Catherine hears the call of the Red Shoes, the Red Shoes that make her feel pretty and well liked, and she answers that call regardless of what the consequences might be.

The sun shone gloriously; Catherine and the old lady walked along the path through the corn; it was rather dusty there. At the church door stood an old soldier with a crutch, and with a wonderfully long beard, which was more red than white, and he bowed to the ground, and asked the old lady whether he might dust her shoes. And Catherine stretched out her little foot."See, what beautiful dancing shoes!" said the soldier. "Sit firm when you dance"; and he put his hand out towards the soles. And the old lady gave the old soldier alms, and went into the church with her. And all the people in the church looked at Catherine's red shoes, and all the pictures, and as Catherine knelt before the altar, and raised the cup to her lips, she only thought of the red shoes, and they seemed to swim in it; and she forgot to sing her psalm, and she forgot to pray, "Our Father in Heaven!"
The experience in the Church represents Catherine's distraction from her internal connection to the Divine, to God. She thinks only of the Red Shoes, of what will make her feel full again.

Now all the people went out of church, and the old lady got into her carriage. Catherine raised her foot to get in after her, when the old soldier said, "Look, what beautiful dancing shoes!"And she could not help dancing a step or two, and when she began her feet continued to dance; it was just as though the shoes had power over them. She danced round the church corner, she could not leave off; the coachman was obliged to run after and catch hold of her, and he lifted her in the carriage, but her feet continued to dance so that she trod on the old lady dreadfully. At length she took the shoes off, and then her legs had peace.
The Soldier is The Devil in traditional terms, or Fear in modern psychological ones. He is the "tempter" who ceases to remind her at every opportunity of the Red Shoes and how she feels when she wears them. She is caught up in the ECSTASY OF THE DANCE which soon will begin to spiral out of control. She has found her Drug, her Substance, which mimics the ecstasy of oneness with God but is based in fear, not love.

The shoes were placed in a closet at home, but Catherine could not avoid looking at them.
She cannot resist. She must wear them.

Now the old lady was sick, and it was said she could not recover. She must be nursed and waited upon, and there was no one whose duty it was so much as Catherine's. But there was a great ball in the city, to which Catherine was invited. She looked at the old lady, who could not recover, she looked at the red shoes, and she thought there could be no sin in it; she put on the red shoes, she might do that also, she thought. But then she went to the ball and began to dance. When she wanted to dance to the right, the shoes would dance to the left, and when she wanted to dance up the room, the shoes danced back again, down the steps, into the street, and out of the city gate. She danced, and was forced to dance straight out into the gloomy wood. Then it was suddenly light up among the trees, and she fancied it must be the moon, for there was a face; but it was the old soldier with the red beard; he sat there, nodded his head, and said, "Look, what beautiful dancing shoes!" Then she was terrified, and wanted to fling off the red shoes, but they clung fast; and she pulled down her stockings, but the shoes seemed to have grown to her feet. And she danced, and must dance, over fields and meadows, in rain and sunshine, by night and day; but at night it was the most fearful.
She spirals out of control, totally lost, at the whim of the Red Shoes, of her addiction.

She danced over the churchyard, but the dead did not dance--they had something better to do than to dance. She wished to seat herself on a poor man's grave, where the bitter tansy grew; but for her there was neither peace nor rest; and when she danced towards the open church door, she saw the Spirit of the Dead standing there. He wore long, white garments; he had wings which reached from his shoulders to the earth; his countenance was severe and grave; and in his hand he held a sword, broad and glittering."Dance shalt thou!" said he. "Dance in thy red shoes till thou art pale and cold! Till thy skin shrivels up and thou art a skeleton! Dance shalt thou from door to door, and where proud, vain children dwell, thou shalt knock, that they may hear thee and tremble! Dance shalt thou--!""Mercy!" cried Catherine. But she did not hear the spirit's reply, for the shoes carried her through the gate into the fields, across roads and bridges, and she must keep ever dancing. One morning she danced past a door which she well knew. Within sounded a psalm; a coffin, decked with flowers, was borne forth. Then she knew that the old lady was dead, and felt that she was abandoned by all, and condemned by the angel of God.
There is no safe haven to return to. Catherine has lost her natural instincts, she is lost in her addiction. She can no longer see the true nature of The Red Shoes, she only knows she must dance.
She danced, and she was forced to dance through the gloomy night. The shoes carried her over stack and stone; she was torn till she bled; she danced over the heath till she came to a little house. Here, she knew, dwelt the executioner; and she tapped with her fingers at the window, and said, "Come out! Come out! I cannot come in, for I am forced to dance!"And the executioner said, "Thou dost not know who I am, I fancy? I strike bad people's heads off; and I hear that my axe rings!" "Don't strike my head off!" said Catherine. "Then I can't repent of my sins! But strike off my feet in the red shoes!"And then she confessed her entire sin, and the executioner struck off her feet with the red shoes, but the shoes danced away with the little feet across the field into the deep wood. And he carved out little wooden feet for her, and crutches, taught her the psalm criminals always sing; and she kissed the hand which had wielded the axe, and went over the heath."Now I have suffered enough for the red shoes!" said she. "Now I will go into the church that people may see me!" And she hastened towards the church door: but when she was near it, the red shoes danced before her, and she was terrified, and turned round. The whole week she was unhappy, and wept many bitter tears; but when Sunday returned, she said, "Well, now I have suffered and struggled enough! I really believe I am as good as many a one who sits in the church, and holds her head so high!"

Catherine has made a sacrifice in order to reclaim her spirit. She has surrendered the shoes.

The following Sunday, when the family was going to church, they asked her whether she would not go with them; but she glanced sorrowfully, with tears in her eyes, at her crutches. The family went to hear the word of God; but she went alone into her little chamber; there was only room for a bed and chair to stand in it; and here she sat down with her Prayer-Book; and whilst she read with a pious mind, the wind bore the strains of the organ towards her, and she raised her tearful countenance, and said, "O God, help me!"
Now that Catherine no longer is dancing the dance of the shoes, she begins to return to her innate connection to God through prayer and contemplation. She begins to heal.

And the sun shone so clearly, and straight before her stood the angel of God in white garments, a Spirit as she had seen before but he no longer carried the sharp sword, but in its stead a splendid green spray, full of roses. And he touched the ceiling with the spray, and the ceiling rose so high, and where he had touched it there gleamed a golden star. The clear sunshine streamed so warmly through the window to where Catherine sat! Her heart was so full of sunshine, peace, and joy, that it broke. Her soul flew on the sunshine to God.

From the works of Hans Christian Andersen, adapted by Clarissa Pinkola Estes (c. 1992) Illustration by Anne Anderson. The Golden Wonder Book for Children (c. 1924)

Comments in bold italics by Victoria Marina-Tompkins

T.S. Eliot from 4 Quartets

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

Through the unknown, unremembered gate

When the last of earth left to discover

Is that which was the beginning;

At the source of the longest river

The voice of the hidden waterfall

And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for

But heard, half-heard, in the stillness

Between two waves of the sea.

Quick now, here, now, always—

A condition of complete simplicity

(Costing not less than everything)

And all shall be well and

All manner of thing shall be well

When the tongues of flame are in-folded

Into the crowned knot of fire

And the fire and the rose are one.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Addiction as a Spiritual Illness: Symptoms and Essence Experiences

In the previous blog Addiction as a Spiritual Illness we explored how our longing for connection with the Divine can take the form of an addiction. It is then helpful to consider some of the identifying feelings which are Red Flags and often indicate that an addiction may be active.

What Addiction and Spiritual Illness may feel like
Have to do it
Have to have it
Relief once action is taken
Possible remorse
Highs and lows
False sense of pride
Repetitive Thoughts

When we are in essence, we no longer experience the grasping or longing associated with addiction. Feelings of urgency and despair are replaced by a calm centeredness filled with Grace.

What Being in Essence may feel like
Loved and loving
One with All
In the Flow
Present in the Moment
Without Need

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Simplicity of Essence Contact

"We will remind you that essence contact is not complicated. This does not mean it is easily attained and in fact cannot be "grasped" with intention but can be a "possibility" so long as a fragment is open to it and does not resist it when it occurs. There is no failure here and no expectations. There are many possible moments for essence contact and can often occur when the fragments involved are not seeking it, but are open to it. It is receptivity that is the key here and not "effort".

Michael from a personal session
Art by Daniel Holeman

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Addiction as a Spiritual Illness


This is the first of an ongoing blog exploring the origins and nature of addictions.

From the time we are very young, we are taught social and cultural standards of behavior and acceptability. We begin to look outside of ourselves for approval, seeking the smiles and coos of our parents, looking for the mirror that tells us that we are "ok". We fear their absence as well as their negativity knowing that our very survival depended on their care. We looked for the eyes of our mothers, fathers, and other "nurturers" who would hopefully give us unconditional love and acceptance, making our world safe and stable and without which we would experience abandonment and death. This was our fear.

The pure and unconditional love which we sought from our parents is the same love which is the Highest Truth of the Universe and even with their most sincere efforts with love and care for us, they could never achieve the perfection of Universal Love which is enduring and unwavering, without conditions and expectations. Our parents are humans just as we are humans.

When, in those wondrous moments, we did know love and all the positive feelings that came with it, we began to experience need as we looked to the Other, something outside of ourselves which would fill us with such sweetness. We began to the lose conscious memory of our innate connection to the Divine, to God, to Universal Love, as we continued to seek the external remedy for our separateness. We began to feel a sense of emptiness without the external to fill us.

Years pass. The child becomes the youth who becomes the adult. The adult who still seeks to be filled with Universal Love and Acceptance. The adult who has forgotten how to find his or her connection to God which exists in every moment without any effort at all...And often times, these feelings of deep separation are painful ones, and pain that must be soothed if only for a moment. The external search, the Grasping, becomes paramount in life and finds The Perfect Thing, just The Perfect Thing, that if only for a moment makes the pain go away.

The deep desire for the sweetness of Love becomes an addiction. This Longing is a Spiritual Illness.

Rage and Anger
Body Image
The Internet
Compulsive Activity
People or Codependency

Anything at all which takes us away from our natural connection to the Divine.

Anything that becomes destructive and Soul Stealing.

Anything that is out of balance and becomes more important than living the unfettered life.
Anything at all.

Think about it.

Question: How can I connect to the Universal Source of Love today?

Upcoming topics include Healing Addictions, the Role of Emotions, and Compassion.

Artwork Kuan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Love, Compassion and Mercy.