Four planets walk into a bar...
Yes, friends, here we are in the Grand Cross: can you feel it? While I'm not an astrologer, getting some info on alignments that might well be influencing your life right about now can be useful. Pam Younghans is an astrologer, and her take on the energies of the cross, April 20th (yesterday) through the 23rd, put me in mind of the classic start of a joke, which led to this post.
But this Grand Cross (or Square) ain't no joke! When Mars, Pluto, Uranus, and Jupiter square off at table 13 (each at 13º) in mutable signs, (Libra, Capricorn, Aries, and Cancer, respectively), it's sort of like those old black & white TV cowboy shows, when the poker game in the saloon gets tense and everyone stops talking. Even the phrase squaring off can mean that kind of tension; I mean these are two pairs of hefty planets in opposite signs all perfectly squaring each other. We're talking 90º angles, a shape with four sharp edges and four corners to negotiate, with massive force fields and agendas to go with them. Whether you're talking geometry, architecture, physics, astrology, or dramatized poker games, you're talking balance amid tension.
How we balance ourselves is the thing here. I hadn't yet read Pam's metaphor of the four planets sitting at a square table, Mars and Pluto opposite Jupiter and Uranus, yesterday, when the topic of tightrope walking came up spontaneously. Now I do the math, I get it: balance and tension. Without both of those, the tightrope walker's out of luck. If they're not kept in harmony, the tightrope walker's out of luck. Moreover, they must be kept in harmony under changing conditions and circumstances. Crosswinds, for instance, or their metaphysical counterpart: fear. Even the word crosswinds has a cross in it; the long balancing bar the tightrope walker carries makes a cross with the thin line in the sky.
Cross, square, opposites, tension: a golden opportunity to rebalance. To cross from one mindset to another, release in order to turn tension into real ease. To negotiate real ease out of the oppositions, within and without, may I suggest turning the square into a square dance? The old program would be a standoff, a tug of war, for and against. If you win, I lose. In a more mutable stance, with movement and fluidity, think of the square dance, when the caller calls the partners to make a star with their hands in the center and wheel around. Now that's reel ease!
And yes, I'm having fun with words. But what you can do with pairs in a square, with balance and tension and fluidity and ease is a beautiful thing. You can join hands and swing your partner round and round, you can release and turn to the left or right, do-see-do, make circles and stars and figure-8s and promenade. Like the Traveling Hoedowners do! Watching them, and hearing the caller do that cool thing of singing On the Road Again with the calls as part of the tune is a hoot. And in our personal square dance, it's good to remember you call your own tune. You are the caller of your dance, and like this guy it seems handy to have some practice, know what you want to sing and then sing it with style. Yiha
Whether you take up tightrope walking, square dancing, astrology or – as Pam suggests, "we may find that balance through meditation and dreamwork ... shamanic journeys and psychotherapies" – I hope imagining oppositional forces as a swingin' dance, set atwirl with flounce and bounce, wordplay and natural fun lightens the work of realizing, releasing and re-patterning old standoffs ready to blow.
May you instigate lightheartedness, affection, and optimism to balance the intensity, sensitivity, and vulnerability.
I'm going to take a new trail today and see where it leads. And leave you back where this post started, with the lines of a poem of mine that came up talking about something, that came up from something else, that came from something else.
If you find yourself
on a tightrope
so thin it can't be
seen above a world dropped
away in a stiff wind
think Chagall, Philippe Petit
© 2014 Susan Lynch
Woke up from a night of intermittent sleep and howling winds to a clear blue sky and thick ice on Sir's water bucket. But in comparison to the extreme commutes I glimpsed on the morning news feed of friends, from my blanketed comfort zone, my work schedule on this blustery cold day is a dream. I'm working right now, in fact, as Alice Sara Ott plays Chopin piano waltzes for the delight of Tigs and Tux, destined to stay in until temps climb to today's high of 30. Mid-20's is quite a bit warmer than -11 currently playing in my hometown back in Illinois. Winter work for me today is centered on clearing channels, residing in open space, working with the energy of light, and learning the healing powers of sound. And writing of course, from a variety of positions. Starting here with the first blog post of 2014. Aloha!
The photo shows one of my main work stations: the pillow on the journey rug in the workroom, with the apophylite and amethyst that often hold the high chakra ground while I work, and are known to be effective in such a position for the work. The word work shows up four times in that sentence, and that's indeed the word for it. Doing the work is a real thing, as is the writing or editing work I'll also do today, from another work station in a comfy chair looking out at the blue. Which is a different kind of real work from the laundry, or the soup stock making also on the docket today. No driving required, no money spent, and I can attend to my old horse, Sir's, hydration by carrying out hot water buckets throughout the day. Simple, but effective, allowing perfect movement breaks. The simplicity and balance of today and today's winter work is a joy, and I am grateful for the myriad small and immense wonderments all around me. The light is phenomenal.
Basically, we're all doing the work of transformation on various levels.. Winter work here today includes turning bones to clear liquid; turning ideas into exchanges that in turn transform into checks in the mailbox; turning blue sky and ice into tankas; turning sound into healing. The foundation of all transformation is open space filled with light, and the different ways we real-ize and work with it through our minds and soul's knowing.
In journeying, I look in and out at the same time, with eye covering blotting out all light. Headphones feed my mind with repetitive drumming by a group of fellow practitioners, keeping the theta waves going in a sound-generated lifeline to this world, the lifeline I literally journey on so I can get back. Doing the work requires being in multiple dimensions at once, going into other worlds or realms at will, interacting with the assistance and guidance of helpers, and bringing back energy to this world. In remote work, that energy gets transported through Middle World to the client wherever he or she may be.
So, as in dreaming, there's a lot of traveling, which is why it's called journeying; a lot of interactions and transmissions. The mind receives an amazing array of information through many channels, visual, audible, sentient, metaphysical; yet to the ordinary reality eye, nothing happens. There's nothing seen, eyes are closed, there's nothing said, and nothing done. A dance of embodied spirit with disembodied spirit that medicine men and women have danced through the world for hundreds of thousands of years.
In meditative practices, such as with the Warrior Syllables I'm doing at present, another kind of relation to open space is happening. Mind is stilled, channels in the body where the chakras spin clear and open, obstacles are removed, and groundedness in space allows positive qualities to spontaneously manifest. Doing this type of practice before journeying, and others such as discharging energy through placing my hands on the crystal clusters set up for that job, readies me for the work. Doing it for my personal attunement is, I'm discovering, essential. And as a practice for healing, it is most effective. I am just beginning to learn this technique. The ability of masters to affect cellular structure through this practice is astonishing and seems miraculous; it is in truth an adept use of open space. For me it is another area of work in progress. To the ordinary eye, naturally, it appears as if nothing is happening.
Which brings me to the famous line by the poet W. H. Auden that poetry makes nothing happen. Nothingness is the primary field of interest in my poetry and critical work. I can't help it, it enthralls me. Here again is the awareness of open space as the stuff of life, what the universe is made of, what we are made of. Looking out on this clear blue sky day, it appears there's nothing happening. The wind moves through the high treetops, and they respond with their own movement and sound. The wind chimes on the porch play a few notes, in tune with Chopin. In open space what arises arises, what disappears disappears. Without open space nothing would happen. Nothing does happen. I love my work: to let the arisings come through, let the open space fill with light, and energy transmit and transform. When I do my work, I aspire to be a hollow reed the wind blows through, creating sound and resonant vibration that affects matter across time and space. I myself do nothing.
Okay, back to work! May your winter work be warming and transforming. Oh, and speaking of those two things, it may be a perfect day for this alchemical medicine: Jane Grigson's Celery Soup, a genius recipe from Food52. May your journey home be magically assisted by helpers in many forms.
Not that there's anything wrong with dressing up and eating chocolate. More on that later. Tonight, as we all know, is All Hallow's Eve, a powerful night by any name, including one you might have seen and likely have mispronounced: Samhain. You wouldn't be alone in saying Sam Hane, like it's some dude, but the Celtic word is pronounced SOW-hen. And blessings on all who get that right! What's with the blessings part, you ask? Isn't tonight about scary zombie types?
You might know all this already, but if not, and are interested, let me refer you to Celtic seer and author Caitlin Matthews, who explains Samhain in full on her Soundings blogspot for us today. You may be familiar with her work, hyperlinks to which are found on my Resources page, and the About page. I've used her books and decks and divinatory tools for years in my work and personal life, had the honor of being a member of the Company of Hawkwood in 2008, and benefitted from private ancestor work with her in Oxford. Her insightful scholarship is eloquent on the subject, freeing me to do my thing here more willy nilly. And get to the chocolate part.
Being a liminal zone walker between worlds, tonight is totally in my comfort zone, and optimal for the work. This year is particularly outrageous because of the nearness to the New Moon on the 3rd, which is also a Solar Eclipse, meaning this whole deal here is a major power time of new beginnings. As a Triple Scorpio born at sunrise on the New Moon while Mercury was in retrograde (as it is again now) three score years ago, it's triple-y so for me, in all senses of the word. Creating new beginnings out of the release of the old, having a lot to do with dead people, is very much the thing at this time in my orbit. Maybe you are doing a new beginnings, old releasings thing yourself. Humanity is kind of pretty much doing that right around now, come to think of it, and there's lots of wonderful help coming from invisibles through the veil. One online channeling session that you can participate in is certain to be transformative: Paul Selig's Know Your Worth workshop. Yes! Tonight!
The veil between the worlds is indeed thin at this time, as you may have heard mentioned once or twice. In fact, this morning I awoke from a very powerful dream where I was talking on the phone with two people, in two ears from two different places, and realized when I woke up that one of them was dead. While I was listening to their mindblowing comments, the 'waiting room' I found myself in was filling up with people, one of whom answered her mother's impatient we've got to get out of here with a gentle it's about love I think, we just need to be patient. Along with the rest of the dream, including sifting through a box of old, brown crystalline stones and realizing they were valuable, I've already had one of several visits through the veil.
The crystal in the photo, below the Pictish Double Disc and Z-Rod symbol from the Scottish Highlands, found me in Arcata and called from a neglected bottom shelf behind a door of a tiny shop that's gone now. As soon as I walked in I heard it (or would never have seen it) say THERE you are! I've been waiting for you. It cost all of $8 and is my personal crystal. No one else touches it, and I only use it for my personal work. It usually lives in the medicine tools cupboard, but as you see, it is out and ready to work today. It knows more about our long association than I do, and tonight it will tell me more about what we are doing together through time and space. It shapeshifted into the group of brown stones I was neglecting in my dream to get my attention.
In my view, the diversions of this holiday, now complete with paper plates and greeting cards, are all fine and dandy. The guy from the bank in Newport Beach, California, who just called to thank me for being such a longstanding customer, completely out of nowhere, like one of the dream callers, is apparently dressed as Austin Powers today, baby. It's all good! But for me, this night has been, for many many years, about the work. This, for me, includes honoring the ancestors, which I do by toasting the family portraits and thanking them for all they did and went through, for surviving and for my DNA and my life and all the bequests. Some of these, as in all families, have been in need of transformation, disentanglement, soul retrieval, extraction healing, the work of Isis, and a lot of cord and imprint wrangling. This work goes in both directions, helping the ancestors in the past, me in the present, and future family folk. Which, who knows, could be us again. I express love to those who left this mortal coil abruptly. We all do the best we can, and as the girl in the waiting room told her mom, it's about love I think.
So, I'll do that, and also will acknowledge the spirits of place around here, where I will be visited not by trick-or-treaters, but by wild animals and other beings. Coyote, elk, owls, eagles, who knows. A communicative crop of new amanita mushrooms sprouted by the fir circle near the barn this morning, and are powwowing with the trees as we speak. Yes, mycellium do transmit info to the forest in which they live: fact! Check out Mycellium Running for more on that amazing phenomenon.
And, I will journey with and to my old friend, the etched Smoky Quartz crystal, and receive the transmission and do the work that is to be done. Past-present-future are in full swirl, the invisibles are near, and come to think of it, that room filling up in my dream is no metaphor.
For the chocolate bit, I'm making organic, vegan Almond Joys! I have to thank Amanda Hesser's genius Food52 again, for bringing a recipe from April into view just now. Check it out here! Mush pulsed-up honey, coconut, coconut oil together into the classic shape, push in an almond or two, chill them up for a half hour, melt the chocolate, dip each piece into it on a toothpick, let set for half a minute. Done. Yum.
Whatever you're up to tonight, have a blessed, big-ass fun, deep power time, and circulate that love thing through time and space, through and to all beings everywhere.
This is the second in a How Things Happen series of blog posts.
As a kid, I constantly asked How come? I've pondered and studied the subject enough to know that once you understand, you can make things happen very effortlessly. Lao Tzu's statement that by doing nothing everything gets done is a clue to the value of examining How Things Happen. So, like how do they?
How Things Happen is an area of inquiry at the heart of the examined life. Socrates famously said the unexamined life is not worth living, but it takes a certain je ne sais quoi to examine the invisible. Which is precisely what you're looking at when you examine How Things Happen at the root level. Like when you're cooking up something new.
Creating new forms, re-inventing yourself, coming up with an idea for a story, a song, a poem, a work of art, a new project ... the list includes discoveries, inventions... has several stages, like a recipe. Much of the stuff of the finished product happens in the abstract, in the invisible realm of thought, emotion, imagination, sentient awareness, spiritual connection. In the quantum field. As if it's out there somewhere. Or in here somewhere.
Sometimes you see it before you know what it is; sometimes other senses ping first with a feeling of knowing. The saying, it's on the tip of my tongue is an apt metaphor: while we are not quite ready to actually say the thing we're thinking of, the tongue already feels its presence as the mind works on the information it is organizing, retrieving, bringing forward. Our desire, intention, need to know initiates the activity; our attention to the tip of the tongue helps pull the remembering into the physical, to re-member or make it appear in the now in the form of spoken representation.
Another, less abstract analogy for How Things Happen is cooking. We say we're cooking up ideas because it's a metaphor we can access easily. Cooking's part of everyday life, keeps body and soul together, and is a sentient pleasure as well. It can be easy or complicated, intuitive or totally mapped out in instructions and procedures. Either way, the results can be unpredictable. Ingredients, procedures, tools, heat sources, and timing are involved: materials and conditions. But what comes before those things? The recipe. And the inspiration for the recipe.
Genius is an interesting word: a person with exceptional abilities of creativity, imagination, intellectual ability. Many have thought processes that are quite extraordinary, tapping into the unknown in an uncanny way. Many think about How Things Happen big time, or not at all, and simply let it happen. Wikipedia says research into what causes genius or mastery is still in the early stages. Imagine that.
But the word itself is ancient and has not changed a bit from the Latin genius: the guiding spirit (of a person, family, place). These spirits and the word are connected to the verb to create, or to bring into being. So, since ancient times, How Things Happen has involved guiding spirits to help bring things into being, from non-being. Sorta like magic.
Maybe you're cooking up new forms from the invisible, with guiding spirits helping the realization of the intention and the desire – the genius recipe – the first stage in creation. Energy follows thought; they are both invisible forces. This abstract stage is one of winnowing, focusing, identifying, envisioning, dreaming, and choosing. Did I mention huge amounts of uncertainty? Part of the recipe. Along with childish curiosity, trust, abandon, fearlessness, courage, support, and ways of following your knowing, of connecting with the genii and powwowing.
It's okay if you don't know every detail, don't have all the ingredients, don't have the recipe all worked out before you begin. What are you cooking up? Take the thing that's on the tip of your tongue and let it tantalize your senses until you can taste it, use all that vast space of uncertainty as a playground. Throw your ideas out there to the genii and ask that they play ball with you, toss a few ideas around, pitch some possibilities. Mix up metaphors and ingredients, free associate. Creative directors do it all the time. Then, someone gets a genius idea.
Oh, and creating from scratch can make you hungry. For that, there's Amanda Hesser's Genius Recipes. Yum. Leave a bowl out for the genii. And set a place at the table for the unknown.
Dreams are where I do much of my work. So much so, a friend has nicknamed me Night Shift. But I'm not the only one, as John Lennon famously sung. While I do work for others in dreams, coming into theirs and meeting them in mine, sometimes it's the other way around. And sometimes I have dreams that show me what will be, and offer stones that help bridge the dream into ordinary reality. This has happened just recently in two instances I'll tell you about.
These are fluorite octahedrons, natural formations of this common stone, which comes in other forms as well. Octahedrons, as you can see, are two pyramids joined at the base, making a form with eight triangular sides. Within the two big octahedrons are worlds and intersecting planes of blue and purple, clouds and inclusions of silvery bits. I stare into them and turn them in the light, hold them as I ground and think.
When I was a computer consultant, I carried a small fluorite with a pyrite tip in my pocket to help me troubleshoot. I'd take it out, hold it or place it on a computer and ask, 'hardware or software?' Fluorite is very good for figuring things out. Holding one, and asking a question, one gets an idea. Ah! Maybe this. Try that. Great for troubleshooting and problem-solving.
The other night I had a dream, and in the dream a medicine man held out a bracelet of dark purple fluorite octahedrons to me. An illustrious Hollywood woman I worked with in the consultant days walked up, took it and put it on. This person's sudden appearance and her action made me go lucid, or enter into a heightened state of dreaming. As the medicine man watched the scene, he looked at me intensely and offered me a bowl of fluorites, which I recognized as similar to the dish of these I have in my workroom.
I woke up knowing it was time to work with my fluorites on creating the future, a project I am actively engaged in as one chapter of my life has just completed and a new one is rapidly forming. I needed the guidance and energetic signal: fluorite octahedrons – now! Of course! The perfect stone for organizing, imagining and constructing through intention, getting ideas, and finding solutions. Good thing the teacher showed up to remind me that what I need I have and know how to use. Although they sit in plain sight on the workroom table I see every day, I had not been tuning into them or paying them any attention. I went right downstairs and got them, and held the big two in each hand, gazing into them as I turned their different worlds to the light.
I felt their calming, centering, organizing energy immediately activate. While I could enjoy their expansive universe-in-a-double-pyramid form, helping me connect with the monadic center (galactic center, Source, whatever you like to call it) that creates everything all the time, no sweat, I could feel their organizational powers easily tending to unknowns, confusions, questions, mental chatter, and problem solving. Meditation is like that, and fluorite octahedrons are wonderful meditation tools.
That's one way dreaming and stones have helped me 'do the thing' as I am known to say. Everyone knows what is meant by the abstract directive 'do the thing' at any given moment in their life. It's, you know, the thing. The thing you're doing, gotta do, want to do, don't know how to do, all of the above. The Nike slogan just do it is so powerful, I think, because it cuts through our trying and hoping and wanting and if only-ing. The word just is telling, however: if it were that simple in our minds all the time, there would be no need to say just. And no need for the slogan to begin with. Sometimes – often, in fact – we need some assistance, some information, guidance, energetic component, to help us do the thing. But I digress.
A few weeks before that dream, a friend had a dream in which she had to follow a guide through a watery, rocky landscape a long ways to find me. I was not in my usual spot, she said. She asked the guide if she could shortcut the exertion of the hike and simply fly, but the answer was no, so on she walked, past rivers, up rocky steps, along steep paths, on and on.
Finally, she found me near a waterfall, sitting and knitting, with strands from the mountain, the water, the elements. I was frustrated because my knitting was turning to mud. She reached in her pocket and brought out a stone, which she handed to me in the dream. She now knew why she'd had to make the effort to find me: to give me the stone, which was to help end the muddying of what I was creating through my work, knitting with the elements.
When she wrote me the dream, she described the stone, and I thought, 'hang on – I think I have that stone!' I went upstairs to my closet and brought out a necklace I'd made a decade earlier, with a dragonlfy and owl on either side of a stone another practitioner and friend, known as The Stone Giver, had given me. He knows his work well, finding and giving stones to whomever the stone is meant to help. I took a photo and asked my dreaming friend if this was the stone. OMG she said. Yes! That's it. I immediately put the necklace on and wore it day and night for a week or so. It had been hanging up in the closet, unnoticed and unworn, for years.
I'd forgotten what the stone was, although I knew the pink inclusions were ruby. The Stone Giver reminded me it was Fuchsite, very powerful, he said. Pretty much! I looked it up in the reference and noted that, among other properties, it helped to end old patterns of servitude. Bingo!
Removal of obstacles and the core issues that create them are what's for dinner at present, so this was news I could use. Often, core issues have deep roots in the past: this lifetime, past lives, ancestral patterns, and historical events. Resonances of the past stay active, influence our perceptions of self and what is possible. Core fears arise from these perceptions, kept alive by our power and our belief, however consciously, unconsciously, or subconsciously. I needed help to detect these threads in my knitting, and why they were muddling the work. As soon as I put on the necklace, a grounding, calming clarity and peacefulness entered my heart chakra where the stone hung.
In the few weeks since this dream, many thoughts and feelings have been clarified, with release of the old and opening to the new. It's the thing to do! I'm so grateful to the stones, the medicine man in the dream, the far-off friend for her dreaming efforts and narration, and the Stone Giver for his gifts and stone medicine.
Dreaming is powerful, and in dreaming we reach out to each other with love and wonders. Being a dreamer has been maligned throughout history and is still actively suppressed. 'You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...' The visionary who wrote and sang that line changed the world with his words and dreaming.
Writing this, the necklace said, yo – put me back on, you need me still. I didn't argue. It's on me, and the fluorites are doing their thing as well. May you dream into what you have around you that assists you today to do the thing.