The Spring Equinox – Ostara

In pagan times people celebrated the path of the Sun from high in the sky and warm to low in the sky and cool – the seasons. In this way they honored the growth cycle of crops – planting, tending, harvesting and allowing the land to rest. Many pagans saw time as one eternal whole. The god is born of the eternal goddess, dies, and is reborn.   A life well lived was lived in harmony and rhythm with the cycles of the earth. These celebrations are thought to have existed for 12,000 years, maybe longer.

The Spring Equinox – Ostara (o-STAHR -uh) – is March 20, 2017. The days and nights are equal – a magic time – the veils between the worlds are thin. To astrologers this is considered the true beginning of the New Year. The first day of Spring when the Sun moves from Pisces, the last sign of winter, into Aries, the first sign of spring. When light again triumphs over darkness.

In many cultures the spring equinox myths concerned trips the deities made to the underworld and their struggle to return from the land of the dead back to earth. When they do eventually return to the world of the living, they have a new life, both literally and figuratively. This idea of life renewed plays heavily in the symbolism of the holiday. Some ancient cultures honored the goddess of spring – Eostre – for which the Christian holiday of Easter is named. The Norse and others honored their virgin goddess and celebrated her mating with the young god. The child of this union was born at Yule, the Winter Solstice.

You can see many parallels between the old pagan rituals and modern Christian holidays. Whatever the early Christians couldn’t stamp out, they adopted as a holy day with their own twist.

Eggs have been associated across all pagan cultures with this holiday. New life, fertility. The darkness of winter is behind us and the life of spring has come to us again. Birds lay eggs in the spring. The yellow/orange yolk of the egg was a symbol of the sun god – the shell, a symbol of the goddess and taken together a symbol of rebirth.

The tradition of decorating eggs is also very old. Originally sacred symbols were drawn with bee’s wax, then the eggs were dyed naturally and the wax removed. They were considered powerful amulets bringing wisdom and strength.

Mostly this equinox was celebrated as a new beginning – new life. The darkness of winter is over. The sun god shines again. In honor of this mystical time and your own soul, consider tuning in – what is ready to be born in your own life. The gods and goddesses are calling!

Namaste.

 

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Food of the Gods

Food of the Gods

The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge

A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution

By

Terence McKenna

 

I recently read this book originally published in 1992 while doing some research on psychoactive plants and their use in healing and spiritual traditions. I was the right age in the 60s and 70s but missed the whole psychedelic experience. Terence McKenna was a big voice in the 90s advocating for legalizing marijuana and other plants that had been used in ancient rituals since the beginning of life on earth.

In this book, he makes a case for his theory that human evolution is tied to the availability and acceptance of the use of psychoactive plants. That might at first sound like an “out there” claim. His theory is worth considering. So, here are some excerpts from the introduction.

Psychoactive plants have been on the earth for a very long time. Logically, we can assume that animals and early humans consumed the plants. The psychoactive compounds in the early human diet directly influenced the rapid reorganization of the brain’s information processing capacities and could well have been responsible for the emergence of human self-reflection. We know that human brain size suddenly increased. These plants could have enhanced our information processing activity and environmental sensitivity and thus contributed to this sudden expansion.

At a later stage these same plants could have been a catalyst in the development of imagination.

The Garden of Eden, eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. This symbol or metaphor has been given many meanings by the philosophers and spiritual teachers of our time. What if it is a symbol for our consumption of psychoactive plants that gave us knowledge of the transcendent, helping us understand our origins and place in nature?

McKenna traces human advancement from these earliest of stages up to today. He shows how the acceptance or not of psychoactive plants shaped each of the cultures he has studied.

Why, as a species, are we so fascinated by altered states of consciousness? What has been their impact on our esthetic and spiritual aspirations? What have we lost by denying the legitimacy of each individual’s drive to use substances to experience personally the transcendental and the sacred?

The suppression of the natural human fascination with altered states of consciousness and the present perilous situation of all life on earth are intimately and causally connected. When we suppress access to shamanic ecstasy, we close off the refreshing waters of emotion that flow from having a deeply bonded, almost symbiotic relationship to the earth.

When asked how frequently he used psychoactive plants, he said once or twice a year. He was serious in his belief that if we each had a spiritual altered state experience, it would shift each of us and therefore shift the way we live in this world.

A sharp distinction is drawn between psychoactive plants, occurring naturally, and manufactured drugs and alcohol. Alcohol because it is legal and widely used as an escape mechanism is a product of the dominator culture. Rather than expanding consciousness and giving an experience of the transcendent, it imprisons and dulls.

He feels fundamentalist Christianity and their values have corrupted our government. The government acts as an enforcing arm for the values of right wing fundamentalism. The right is currently determining our food and drug preferences.

We have lost the ability to be swayed by the power of myths, and our history should convince us of the fallacy of dogma. What we require is a new dimension of self-experience. The age of imagination is dawning. The shamanic plants and the worlds that they reveal are the worlds from which we imagine that we came long ago, worlds of light and power and beauty that in some form or another lie behind the visions of all the world’s great religions.

We must reject the image of ourselves as that of a creature guilty of sin and hence deserving of exclusion from paradise. Paradise is our birthright and can be claimed by any one of us. Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored. Shamanism has always known this and has taught the path required allies – the hallucinogenic plants and the mysterious teachings that lie in the nearby dimension of ecstatic beauty and understanding that we have denied ourselves.

So, there you have it. McKenna has some very interesting ways of looking at the world. Many of his lectures are on YouTube if you want to explore him and his ideas further.

I am a strong advocate for personal freedom of choice. I agree with him that if I choose to have a spiritual, conscious expanding experience which a naturally occurring plant can provide, then I should be able to legally have that experience.

And, I agree with him that the religious right is way too mixed up in our laws. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?

Namaste.

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You Are The Sun

north-carolina-blue-ridge-mountain-autumn-sunrise-burning-sun-crests-mountains-lights-up-sky-above-as-seen-434218861You are the Sun and the Moon and all the planets. In the old days, they were all Gods, calling to us – calling us home – to ourselves. The Sun calls to that part of you that is your will, who you really are inside, the real you, your power urge and self-expression. It’s the part of you that gets you going and energizes you.

Where I live the back of my house faces East, I watch the Sun rise every morning from my porch. I can totally understand why people worshipped the Sun many lifetimes ago. We go from the darkness of night to the gently approaching dawn. The early dawn is often times spectacular. Then the Sun with all its warmth and brilliant light greets us at the beginning of a new day as it rises from the mountain range.

It occurred to me this morning as I was drinking my tea and watching nature’s morning show, the Sun is a powerful symbol of life. It fills us up every morning with a renewed sense of the joy at being alive. I don’t know where I came from or where I’m going. I’m starting to figure out who I am – sort of. In this magical sunrise moment – this Now – it doesn’t matter at all. I can simply feel the warmth and hear the Sun God calling me home to my true self. Yes, the Sun does speak. Did you ever notice how many birds just love to sing at sunrise?

Consider taking a moment as you begin each day to consciously feel the warmth of the Sun and its symbolic meaning – life, your unique, one of a kind life – is being celebrated by the Gods. The Sun is always there supporting you and reminding you of the pure joy of being alive on this beautiful blue planet.

Namaste.

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The Eternal Now

21df57103ddcf5f6c17a4afdefac59981“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time – past and future – the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” – Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

We all have the opportunity to live in eternity every day – to step out of time. To stop playing time’s game. How much of life do we miss by not being present in this moment? These are not new ideas. What would be incredible is if we actually started attempting to live in this way.

Time seems precious because we constantly give it away to living in the past or the future. Why do we do that, I wonder? Why would we choose not to be right here in this moment? Did you ever have an experience where time stood still? I have.

When I am writing, walking in the woods or working in my garden, I am in another reality completely unaware of time. On the other hand, I was recently in the dentist’s chair and it seemed like time was creeping by. My apologies to dentists out there – it’s a real fear of mine and I’m grateful to my dentist for the wonderful work he did. My garden is a Now I love being in and the dentist’s chair is a Now I’m fearful in. So, there’s a big clue.

Which Now are you living in? One you love or one you fear? One that is in accord with your soul or one that’s not?

Truth is we all have the eternal now available every nano second of every day. All we must do is “be here now” as Ram Dass advises. Not living in the past – either with regrets or longing for what was and will never be again. Not living in the future – the endless what ifs. Life is so very simple. Consider practicing being fully present to each moment of your life. Become aware of the drunk monkey mind and realize it isn’t in charge, you are. Your mind is your servant, not your master. Become the witness. Watch your thoughts drift on by, realize you don’t have to go with them. You can stay right here, in the eternal now.

Namaste.

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Imagination Is Our Reality

5588db87fbadd0ab69bd0269a8657a951“With our thoughts we make the world.” – Buddha

Did you ever stop to ask yourself where your thought was before you thought it? Or, where it went once you stopped being aware of it? Is there a difference between a thought, any ole ordinary thought and imagination? I wonder if thoughts and imagination come from the same place? I wonder where that place is?

Our thoughts and our imagination affect our reality constantly. If you hear an unusual noise outside and you are home alone at night – your imagination may go straight to fear of an intruder. If you then call the police or find your pepper spray. Or, if you have a restless, sleepless night for worry of a break in, then your imagination has surely shaped your reality. An extreme example, but you get the idea.

Or, you may imagine a scarce world, even though many would look at your life and think it to be abundant. Your imaginary scarce world shapes your reality. Maybe you spend a lot of time pinching pennies or don’t spend money on fun activities. Your whole life has been shaped by your imagination. And, what’s really wild – you don’t even attribute it to your imagination, you think (there’s a thought) its real. You’re convinced the imaginary thought based world you have constructed is absolutely real. And, it’s not. That’s what the Buddha is talking about in the quote above.

I’ve read of many studies concerning fact versus fiction when it comes to our experiences and the way we perceive them.   Eyewitness accounts are notoriously incorrect. The truth is we change the facts all the time to fit our version of reality.

Imagination plays a big role in our decision making. It’s interesting we have apparently entered an era of false facts and fake news. Or, I guess we could say an era where imagination rather than reality is prevailing. Maybe imagination is coming out of the closet? It’s probably not a very good idea to base our choices on someone else’s imaginary false facts. This past presidential election is a case in point.

So, here we all are. Absolutely everything begins with an imaginary thought and we don’t know where those thoughts come from or where they go. By the way, we don’t know where we come from or where we go either. Lots of theories (imagination/thought) about all that, no facts.

Our brains may simply be filters constructed by our perceived life experiences. Family of origin, society, past lives – who knows? – all coloring our brain filter. Something actually does happen out here in the real world – it is picked up by our brain and immediately is run through our own personal filter – and is then perceived in a certain way. When you add to that all the false facts and fake news that is in the air, we aren’t even beginning with reality in many cases.

Spiritual or awareness practices help us change our filters so we can see more authentically and clearly.

All that brings me to my heart. We can all get in lots of trouble when we leave our hearts, emotions, feelings, intuitions, knowings, your own words out of the whole equation. In this imaginary, false fact world – what feels right? What is your heart whispering? Consider stopping and tuning in to that very real part of yourself.

Namaste.

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Creating Myself

unnamed1“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

So, how do I go about creating myself? Sounds like great advice.

I remember back in my working years, I was pretty much on auto pilot, just going through life the best I could. I had to be sure my performance at work was good so I could support my family. I identified as a Mom, rather than a professional woman, and, yet, I never felt I had as much time as I wanted to spend with my children. Of course, the day came when they totally left the nest – just about the time my work life was over. The Universe has a dark sense of humor sometimes. In the course of a very few years my children were on their own journey and my career ended.

This isn’t a sad story! Lol. I was happy to see my kids making their own way. I didn’t always agree with their choices and I realized I’d made some choices my parents surely did not agree with either.   All in all, I was happy for them and for me. I knew I’d done the best I could – not perfect by any means – but, the best I could. And, now I was free of the responsibility of parenting minor children. I hope being a Mom is always there in my life, even in a very broad support role. And, of course, in a very deep loving place.

I really liked my career. Like all jobs it had its moments – on average I was proud of the profession I was in and of the job I did. I grew up in that business role. It was very challenging and I found out what I am made of. And, I was ready for it to end and to move into a new phase of my life.

That was all many years ago. When I saw the above quote by Shaw I truly understood his point. Every day with every choice we each create ourselves and the material world we find ourselves in. As the years pass in our lives, we and our circumstances change. It is impossible to hang onto the past. It’s over. That’s really, really good news. It can be a lot of fun trying out new ideas and new experiences and meeting new people. Let go! Go for it! Jump!

One of our biggest fears as human beings is change. And, yet, to live vital, healthy, joy filled lives we must change almost daily. In one of Deepak Chopra’s books he makes the point that the cells in our body are constantly dying and being replenished with new cells. Cancer cells, he says, are ones that refuse to die a natural death, causing great stress and pain for the body. Think about that as a metaphor for the way you are living your life.

Look around and look inside. Where are you now? What’s dead, what’s dying and what’s ready to be born? Look at your fear of change. Is it holding you back? What new you are you creating today?

Namaste.

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As Above So Below

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“As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…” – Hermes Trismegistus

Hermes Trismegistus is believed to be a fusion of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. Both are associated with wisdom, writing and magic. What we know is that writings attributed to him have come down to us. They were written by unknown authors in Egypt sometime before the end of the third century C.E

One of the basic premises of astrology is the idea that human consciousness and the heavens mirror each other. They are thought to be governed by the same laws and organized around the same principals. It is believed that we can understand the human mind by observing our solar system. These ideas come down to us from Hermes Trismegistus. So, let’s take a look at the sky with this philosophical backdrop.

If you were in an imaginary spaceship hovering far above our star in the milky way galaxy, what would you see?

Our star, the sun, is a brilliant light. The first four orbiting bodies are like tiny pebbles, rock worlds – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. Earth is bigger than the other three and our Moon is big in comparison to the size of Earth. From a distance, it might look like a double planet. Next, we would see the asteroid belt – it’s sort of like thick soup or a dust storm of stone. If you could squeeze it all together you would still have only a small fraction of the mass of a planet.

Next comes the gas giants. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. They are all big, gaudy, gassy balloons, averaging approximately thirty times Earth’s diameter – remember Earth is the biggest of the rocky planets. Notice that these four gas planets are very different from the four rocky planets.

So, what’s out beyond the gas giants? We see another haze of icy stones extending out into the infinity of space. On the inner edge of this band is the planet Pluto. It is truly a very small body – about two-thirds the diameter of our Moon. We are now discovering Pluto is one of hundreds of such bodies. Undoubtedly, we will discover many more as our ability to see is enhanced. These bodies are sometimes referred to as trans-Neptunian or as the Kuiper Belt.

As most of you know, with the discovery of many bodies in the Kuiper Belt, Pluto was demoted and is no longer an “official” planet.

One more scientific fact, then I’ll get to my point. Pluto weaves in and out of Neptune’s orbit. Sometimes it’s closer to the Sun and sometimes Neptune is closer to the Sun. They seem to be doing a cosmic dance.

Ancient wisdom was “as above, so below.” Observe the sky to understand yourself. As an astrologer, I know that to be very sound wisdom.

We humans are evolving – changing. Think back to thousands of years ago. Humans were very different than us. Their challenges and lessons were different. Astrological symbolism for the Sun and those four rocky planets speaks of basic human issues. The ancients could see the first two gas planets, Jupiter and Saturn. They, too, reflect basic, in this world phenomena.

Consider as our knowledge of the cosmos has deepened, so has our knowledge of the human mind. Many books have been written on tracing the discovery of planets and the events in our modern world coincident with those discoveries.

Here we are. The year 2017. What are our challenges and lessons now? How are they reflected back to us as we look up to the night sky? Symbolically, Neptune (discovered in 1846) is associated with spirituality and Pluto (discovered in 1930) with depth psychology. As symbols, they have other meanings. To keep my point simple, I’ll stick with those two.

Can you feel the dance between spirituality and psychology in our modern times? Not that many years ago – and, maybe still in some people’s minds – if you talked about seeing a therapist or psychologist, you were thought to be crazy. If you spoke of being a spiritual person as opposed to a religious one, you were killed or ostracized. Can you see and feel how that has and is different now? Neptune and Pluto, working together, are reflecting back to us our discovery of our own human depth of meaning.

As we now look more deeply into the vastness of space beyond the Kuiper Belt, we humans will look more deeply into the vastness of who we are as luminous beings. As other discoveries are made out there – we will also make new discoveries in here.

As above, so below.

Namaste.

Note: Parts of this post were excerpted from The Book of Neptune by Steven Forrest.

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God of the Gaps

tumblr_n9pr7nk4ec1sknuc2o4_5001“They [scientists of centuries past] call on God only from the lonely and precarious edge of incomprehension. Where they feel certain about their explanations, however, God gets hardly a mention.” And “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson contends god has always been and is where our limits of understanding are. What we don’t understand – what continues to be a mystery to science – we give to god. Some philosophers call this idea the God of the Gaps. Gaps in our understanding of the universe.

In Tyson’s view once we can know everything (is that possible?) then god disappears. No more mystery, no more unknown, no more reason for any concept of god. It seems to me that god – by whatever name – has a much broader presence than merely representing what scientists don’t understand.

He often talks about scientists of old who made outstanding discoveries. When they had reached the limits of their understanding, they attributed the rest to the will of god. He contends many scientist today feel the same. To put this idea in context let’s remember scientist are seeking to understand this material world

The unseen, sacred mystery that permeates all that is, was or ever will be is a completely different thing. It’s there in the known and seen and in the unknown and unseen. Some call that mystery god, love, source, creator, or your own words.

So, as science pursues the God of the Gaps, let’s not forget the real pursuit is the feelings in our hearts – the unseen, sacred mystery.

Namaste.

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Suffering

av-97701691“And here is where we come to suffering, because what suffering tells you is where the mind is clinging.

“Now, I am talking about your suffering. I am not talking about somebody else’s suffering. Let’s just deal with us. For me, suffering is telling me where my mind is clinging. If I experience suffering because I am getting old, it’s because I have a model of myself that’s other than what this is.

“This is what this is, including dying, pain, loss, all of it. The models in our heads about it, and the way we cling to it, is where the root of suffering is.

“So when you wanna get free badly enough, you begin to experience your own suffering as grace. You don’t ask for it. You don’t say, ‘Give me suffering,’ but when it comes you see it as something that’s showing you a place where you are holding. The place to release.” – Ram Dass

I think Ram Dass captured this wisdom perfectly. Buddhism teaches something like pain is a part of life but suffering is optional. I was talking with a friend recently about the importance of letting go of our view of ourselves as the years drift on by. As I age, if I am attempting to hang onto “me” as a much younger person, then I’m setting myself up for suffering. We experience suffering as illness, depression, groundlessness, addiction, your own personal favorite.

Our material bodies wear out – my Daddy used to say “nobody gets out of this world alive.” Sounds funny. And yet, many of us don’t get it. We cling to an illusion that we are the same as some previous age that to us was close to nirvana.

The really cool thing is – as we age, as we let go, as we die to an old identity – we have the opportunity to simultaneously be born into a new, wiser, lighter version of ourselves. To me that’s what the spiritual path is all about. I see more clearly, I release more easily. The ultimate freedom and peace.

Namaste.

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To Everything There Is a Season

2de872b2e6c6de95e6e33b42737312e9[1]Remember the song made popular by the Byrds – Turn, Turn, Turn. It was written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The Byrds recorded it in 1965. You can hear a version of it on YouTube here.

The lyrics, except for the title which is repeated throughout the song and the final two lines, are adapted word-for-word from the English version of the first eight verses of the third chapter of the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes written about 450-180 BC.

I decided to write a few posts as this year begins about change and this song came to mind. Here are the lyrics – as timely today as when they were originally written. It appears change has been an issue for we humans for a very long time.

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew

A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late!

Acceptance of whatever the turning wheel of life brings our way. Easy words to read and mentally understand. Very difficult wisdom to live. Letting go and trusting that whatever comes is potentially in our highest good.

Remember, you are love.
Peace.

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