What's up with the photo? It seems to have orbs floating in the sky, a tilting old building, and some kind of swan cloudshow. I took this photo at Hawkwood in December of 2008, looking out the window of the big room where The Company of Hawkwood had just finished a meditation as part of the weekend mystery school with Caitlin Matthews, John Matthews, and professor-author Ari Berk. Just today, Caitlin Matthews posted about this longstanding annual event on her blog, Soundings, where you can be guided to everything you need to know, and even still make reservations to attend this year's weekend, if you so desire.
I bring it up because she brought it up because it's coming up for me big time as I create my own mystery school musings. Today I mention it not only because of the Company of Hawkwood energy, but because of world events, as a way of thinking about what my particular mystery school concept encompasses. As I synthesize How Things Happen into areas of potential inquiry, as I develop the scope and discuss it with colleagues, questions arise, and it's helpful for me to articulate answers to those questions. People ask, what sort of stuff will you do there? The scope is wide but small, far reaching but quiet.
Mystery schools, like all other institutions, come in all shapes, sizes, and persuasions. Today's post touches on one of the ways I envision the work could potentially positively benefit the world. Which has to do with the super Typhoon Haiyan which just struck the Philippines. What could we potentially do about such things at the mystery school? Ring bells and wail at the sky?
I'm going to keep this simple. One glimpse at the news headlines and the words devastation, horror, shock, death, lethal force, etc. run riot on the brain, doing little to positively affect a sense of helplessness, victimhood, fear and dread at nature and the world that sells papers in an old school format. Superstorms increase at a rate relative to our action movies about superstorms. Worldwide, we argue about cause and effect, global warming, climate change, the data that shows how superstorms increase from the warming of the seawater and the manufacturing pollution that exacerbates this phenomena. Much is being done from many approaches to both help and hinder our understanding of and our role in the delicate balance that allows us and other life forms to safely inhabit the pretty blue planet. It's major. So what does this all have to do with the mystery school thing? It's such a touchy topic, people strap on their mindsets in an either-or mentality, sparking friction at the table, or the comments section. But what about another possible approach? Not in place of, but in addition to, all the other approaches.
Picture this. Take the knowledge of atmospheric scientists, climatologists, oceanologists, and study it. Take the research of scientists such as Dr. Emoto, who studies the change in water crystals as a result of resonance and positive or negative articulation, and add it to the data. Take the wisdom and experience of practitioners such as Sandra Ingerman in shamanic environmental transformation and radical ecology, mentioned in an earlier blog post, and add it to the mix. Don't get bogged down in superstition, balderdashedly indignant refutation of invisible power, the negation of the energetic component, or any religious dogma about comeuppance or somesuch. Basically, steer clear of old school paradigms which separate wisdom and compassion in favor of some authority being all hopped up.
Rather, combine the power of information, intention, group effort, co-creation in the quantum field, a high degree of skill and words in working with the elements. Not in a last ditch, oh please don't whomp on us fear-based appeal to a judgmental punisher. Neither a 'just think good thoughts' halfheartedness nor a system of experimentation that disregards the power of human thought and heart energy in interacting with physical outcomes, such as evidenced in the transformation of water crystals. Bring the information together into a synthesis of directed thought, speech and action that eliminates lack of harmony with the elements from the source that is creating them.
You gotta be practiced up in this stuff so you can do the thing when it's time, which in the case of the typhoon, would have been when it began to form, in effect stating its intention. Taking it as an extreme example, a natural weather event that was being monitored scientifically, the data was available and could be addressed in many ways. The intention for the work would not be to make it stop, but to see what was going on, to listen to it, discover what was possible and what was needed and how to honor that, perhaps in a way that could then create less volatile, destructive force; a way it could 'live' that could be distributed differently, transmuted, redirected. A middle world journey straight into the eye comes to mind as a possible shamanic approach, and who knows there may have been many shamans doing precisely that.
Naturally, like in all schools, the thing is to start small, perhaps with a glass of water, a puddle, a harbor, a shower, or interacting with a sudden spiral that spins the leaves in the driveway. Providing instruction and space, developing individual skills alongside group intentionality, knowledge sets and levels of practice builds capabilities. What initially sounds impossible later proves to be the new discovery.
In all choices, support systems and materials that don't pollute; mitigate, reverse and transmute past damage, and use the power of words, sound, intention, and resonance in the now to communicate with the world, the universe, directly, energetically. Put it all together. I'm getting at a way of living powerfully and harmoniously with the elements of this world and the energies of the universe which utilizes an informed synthesis of abilities and knowledge to interact with nature in a positive, transformative way.
It's not a new idea, nor an original one. It's simply a multi-pronged approach to living in this (and other) world(s) that connects on a lot of levels for the well-being of all. Working with the elements from wisdom rather than fear, from a sense of empowered co-creative communication rather than victimhood or attack-defend strategies, addresses the manmade causes of imbalance on the planet even as it sends immediate energies that could potentially affect more than the minds of the participants. It utilizes the best experiential wisdom we have from shamanic and other practices and from scientific data with a quantum dash and heart.
Shamans have worked with weather conditions for the good of the people multiculturally for millennia. An integrated awareness of ways to live without disturbing the delicate balance of nature, lessening such cataclysmic events and restoring harmony on the planet includes what we create on the material as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual planes. Put them all together and see what is possible. And hey, collect the data, compile evidence where possible, to add to the field of knowledge. Thank the spirits, honor the wind, the water, the ocean, the earth. Help each other not create conditions that harm each other as well as send help after such cataclysmic events. Learn how to do all of this at a mystery school by developing your powers and increasing your awareness of a lot of stuff. That's the idea.
First mystery: why do I have a photo of a rufous hummer here when the title of this blog post refers to Raven? Well, partly because as I was typing the title a rufous hummingbird zoomed up to the red feeder, and practically into my face, for the third or fourth time today. I didn't have my camera handy, but this handy public domain image came to my aid. Raven flew by some time back, before I did today's personal shamanic journey and also received some serendipitous, magical assistance from several intrepid authors, both noted for their awareness of what I like to call How Things Happen. You guys know I write blog posts on Daily Totems and blog posts on How Things Happen, but today it's all happening, so I'm coloring outside the lines. As you'll see, it's all part of the plan.
So, first, Raven flew across the sparkling blue sky during morning coffee, croaking loud and long. Wait - before that I woke up from my Night Shift dreaming with Paul Simon singing these are the days of miracles and wonder in my head, so I pretty much figured it would be one of those days. I'd already been clued in to the Four Dignities of the Warrior, Tibetan Buddhist wisdom, and had been directed by the universe to a book I had in the workroom: Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by the late Chögyam Trungpa, founder of Shambhala International, Naropa University, and a departed legend. I love getting prompts to open books I have, and wasted no time in doing so.
In a nutshell, the Four Dignities are: meek, perky, outrageous, inscrutable. A warrior cultivates these dignities or principles in his or her vibe. I'll stick with the feminine pronoun for this bit. She wants to be four kinds of warrior: a Warrior of Meek – which Rob Brezsny mentions translates maybe more meaningfully for us (for whom meek makes us think of weak rather than not arrogant) as possessing a relaxed confidence, a Warrior of Perky, a Warrior of Outrageous, and a Warrior of Inscrutability. It's all in the book, which I've read before and will now be reading thoroughly again. Exactly the readings I need. Hey you! the universe says. You are this. You need this. You can practice this. And you already have the info. There's your assignment. Miracles and wonder.
So, as I'm grokking Raven's message, hummingbird's overseer capacity, the timely Scorpio info from Rob with the tip off to the bookshelf, I open the book to a random page (86), to read the Rinpoche's words of wisdom. "Whether things go well or things go badly, whether there is success or failure, he [the warrior] feels sad and delighted at once.
In that way, the warrior begins to understand the meaning of unconditional confidence. The Tibetan word for confidence is ziji. Zi means "shine" or "glitter," and ji means "splendor" or "dignity," and sometimes also has the sense of "monolithic." So ziji expresses shining out, rejoicing while remaining dignified." (87)
Are you with me so far? The Raven shining out, and the hummer, the miracles and wonder. The exact qualities to cultivate and all the info I need right here to do that right now. It's a shining, glittering day, a splendid day for miracles and wonder, for Raven's shiny wings and Hummer's glittering gorget. Nevermore so. I had to do that.
To back up the lesson for the day, in comes the email notification that the irrepressible author, Pam Grout, has let fly a new blog post. if you don't know of her or her new book, the blog will inform you. She's working with energy in cool ways and invites you and the whole world to try it too. My own energy experiments, long before, during, and after reading her book, could take up pages and probably will. Such interactive endeavors have created the bio that trails my peripatetic wanderings and will feature in the esoteric mystery school project currently incubating. But the salient thingy here is there on her blog in full, and encapsulated wonderfully in this, the Quote of the Day, which Pam herself gave me permission to give you right here, right now. Ready? Here it is:
Spiritual principles are meant to provide joyful, big-ass fun,
not a bunch of rules and regulations.
– Pam Grout
Anyone who knows me knows that this is how I roll, in work, in love, in life, in writing, but it bears repeating, and Pam's powerpacked nugget of truth is a kick-ass way of doing so. I think this was the gist of what Raven was talking about this morning. It's my modus operandi simply because I don't know how to act otherwise. Laughing out loud in church was an early sign of this. Using sign language in my college orals board was perhaps another. Using colorful language while relaying divination info, making a joke during a crisis, things of this perky, inscrutable, nature. I'm a shamanic practitioner, sure as shootin', and a dignified warrior – or practicing to be a more full time dignified warrior. I'm serious, sure. But seriously serious? Do we have to? Nah - in fact, I can now say with relaxed confidence that it's part of my intentional warrior dignity to be outrageous. It's How Things Happen, baby!
Cloud watching is almost a full-time job for me, and yesterday did not disappoint. Her Majesty, Mt. Hood, was working her magic with changing conditions from the east, and by late afternoon had created thunder, lightning, rain, and a vibrant rainbow, plus the wonderful changes in the fragrance of the air, the negative ions and ozone, all of which produced a shift in my inner state of mind. Posts from entranced friends in Oregon and Washington attested to the magical power of a summer storm on our psyches and spirits.
Living near Her Majesty for three years, I've felt her power and how she exerts it to change conditions around her. Sometimes she whips up electricity, sometimes sends alpine winds down her sides, cloaks herself in dramatic clouds, froths the river in green glacial melt on a hot day... she has a stunning repertoire. And then, I remember that when she was an active volcano, she helped create the epic Columbia Gorge over millions of years. The forests, waterfalls and sylvan glades we enjoy on weekend hikes were created through fiery explosions and lava flows which wiped out everything in their paths, over and over again, for millennia.
Major life force energies like volcanoes and floods, beautiful phenomena like snowflakes and rainbows, and every day weather like this morning's quiet cloud cover, result from conditions. Create the conditions for rain, and rain falls. You may have seen reports about Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde, who creates clouds inside galleries as an art installation. Viewers gasp in wonder when the cloud appears, and it is quite magical. But, like creating an oil painting by applying oil paint onto a canvas with a brush until an image is completed, the artist creates the artistic expression of a cloud in a room by creating the conditions that makes clouds form, having to do with proportions of humidity and temperature. You can watch YouTubes of the artist creating a cloud in a room.
Changing conditions in the mind also changes conditions in the physical plane. Body symptoms and conditions, living environment, relationships, abundance and manifestation capabilities, happiness and inner peace are some of the areas that change when the conditions we hold in our minds as true are allowed to shift. What seems impossible, like producing a cloud in a room, or healing a longstanding condition, will continue to appear impossible if conditions do not change, because the conditions for the transformation are not in existence at that time. Wishing or worrying are not effective in creating change in conditions, although they do play a part in attracting or repelling the conditions that create change.
Maybe I love watching clouds so much because I can view nature's transformative powers and their results in real time as an ongoing master class in the ultimate mystery school. The mountain, too, seems to say, are you watching? Are you listening? I'll show you again. We too have the power to change our lives, our bodies, and our world, the whether, if you like, around our personal sphere of influence. Group mind changes conditions in society and can effect global shifts in consciousness. Working with ourself is the starting place for changing conditions: looking at our thoughts, our fears, our held emotions – what we believe to be true, or possible. And who has the power to affect conditions.
Like the mountain, we do not hold all the conditional cards: there are other elemental forces that interact to create conditions at any moment. Rather than a skirmish, it can be a dance, a graceful intermingling of energies, realizing all is an expression of the one. Working – or playing – with the interweaving of forces, in alignment with a necessary degree of internal power conditions, including knowing, intention, fearlessness, trust, detachment, nonresistance, and love, is the work of transformation. Clearing negativity, removing obstacles, repatterning thoughts, letting go of old hurts and resentments, releasing fear changes static conditions so that transformation can occur.
Sometimes it is helpful to ask for information, energetic transmission, clarity, guidance, support and practices to assist in changing mind and heart conditions so that the 'weather' within and without us can change. Each of us can cultivate our inner connect, our stillness, our intent, to transform conditions in our lives. And then, the sweet showering from the sky begins.