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.
This week is awash in gratitude and possibly fraught also with your own personal version of guilt – the other G-word – or a laundry list of what you should do, buy, eat, not eat, say, not say, think or not think. It's a truly complicated American holiday we celebrate, interwoven with family dysfunction, historical misdeeds, and dietary self-loathing all wrapped up in ribbons of Norman Rockwell/Martha Stewart perfectionism, copious side dishes and consumer cattle-prodding. What a charged mix!
Some people have happy family traditions and loving bonds, perfect table settings and plenty of exciting achievement news to share over the stuffing and pie. Others, not so much. And some may have really loaded combinations of all of these appearances that in turn create an internal heightening of all that is bewildering about this 21st century American thing called gratitude. And what the heck do shoulders have to do with any of it, you ask?
How are yours feeling these days? Tight, sore, misaligned, over burdened? Stiff from crouching over the laptop, looking up plane fares or recipes or bank balances, or lack thereof? In my practice, I often mention that the word shoulders is spelled should-ers, and that body symptoms in this area can be related to guilt, lack of self-love, pushing ourselves to do what we think we should. All these, by the way, I know from personal experience. When I track my internal dialogue on a daily basis, the amount of shoulds that old conditioning critic rags on about is insane.
In these days of constant internet advice, we are bombarded by what we should do, numbered and listed for us with an urgency that suggests that if we are not doing, buying, thinking, reading, eating, wearing, going or knowing these tips and tweets and lifestyle choices, we, well, should be, and are somehow the lesser for it. And at this particular holiday, when family and tradition, the things that should be in place within our families and country and are, um, maybe not, the inner turmoil and shoulder stuff can really spiral out, leading to possible inner misery along with shoulder discomfort and even acting-out in potential family eruptions.
We may more quietly, although few mention it amid the hubbub, feel bad about ourselves, our situation, even our bounty in the face of our history or present national outlook. We might be wincing or sad as we catch ourselves comparing our scenario with the ones in magazines, movies, posts and blogs or what we hear from others. It's a common enough occurrence, thinking others have it perfect amid your snafu'd existence. And guess what we do then? Feel guilty – even more guilty – even as we adhere to our Things I'm Grateful For regimen.
The photo above I just snapped out in the upper pasture: it's a path made by wild animals. Out for a Connect and Reflect Walk, it struck me as a metaphor for the simplicity with which we can bypass all that and walk our talk. It begins with feeling ok about ourselves just exactly as we are at this moment. Sounds simple, but especially in holiday activation of crazy mode, achieving this state of mind can be challenging, to say the least. It is assisted by allowing, by being grateful first of all for yourself, not in a should sort of way (as in I feel like crap and am facing real problems but I should feel good about myself, so oh well, fine, I'll do that), but just by tuning into what makes you happy, and being happy about it. We sometimes feel guilty about being happy in a way that doesn't really help, as in I feel guilty about doing something that makes me happy because I'm supposed to be feeling grateful about what I have that others don't have etc.
There's a happy, natural balance of loving and accepting self and others that brings us all together in a Oneness sorta deal that allows true gratitude to warm from within and reach out around the world. And it starts with giving thanks to yourself wholeheartedly as a part of the All [your word here].
To achieve and hold balance through the hubbub, I've been told to take time to feed the soul, and to go deeper in. The woods up the road (pictured below) whispered to me to do just that: go deeper in. Then you can find your connect, ground, relax, warm your heart strings, lighten your shoulder load and come from that place, as you drive or fly or buy in crowds, as you navigate challenging living room dynamics or make food for a multitude, or maybe sit alone in a cold room breathing in and out. Hey, enlightened masters spend plenty of turkey days sitting in caves with nothing, doing exactly that, and they're enlightened. We can lose sight of the inner in the glare of pageantry, lovely as it is, and tasty too. Breathing in and out with mindfulness is enough.
The connect with everything that occurs when we activate our inner connect allows us to send out gratitude across the universe, an energy that is truly powerful and transformative, and comes from love (self-love as well as love of others) rather than from fear, i.e. guilt, envy, manipulation, competitiveness, blame, anger, [your word here]. This is felt as a bubbling up of wonderful that reaches all beings and transmits awareness of the perfection of the All, allowing cool stuff to happen without our even knowing it.
From there we are able to reach back through time and thank the people who fed those without food; we can reach across the family history and find something we appreciate amid the maybe-not-so-great out-picturings; we can send light and love to the community, country and world around us that allows good stuff to happen now and in the future, and we can beam light out into the galaxy that can be felt from far far away. And guess what – I'm willing to bet there are beings in the next galaxy who feel truly grateful when they feel that coming from the humans on the little blue planet. All of this we can do while enjoying second helpings and the liveliness of group conversation if we have them, or the quiet of the starry night if not. The universe loves you, the human heart is capable of brave miracles, Food52 has fabulous recipes and stuff, you are wondrous in the simple fact that you exist, and that's a happy deal. Bon appetit. Your comments are welcome and appreciated.
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.