365 Days of Prayer – Day 5

Remain Evergreen while the storms of life are blowing in around us.
Rhododendron keeps its green leaves in the coldest weather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning I woke up thinking how valuable I find prayer. At my most vulnerable prayer joins me to an ideal greater than self that I can connect to with mind, heart, and soul, especially when I am feeling disconnected from everything else.

Prayer is an act of tending to my inner garden. Prayer exists to help me navigate my life on a profound level when my own efforts have failed me and I am facing my shadow.

Prayer comforts me when I need to reconnect with feelings of joy and accomplishment, because I have disappointed those I love and respect, or I have been called out on my own “stuff” and my ego is stung, or I am feeling sick or overwhelmed or broke or tired or sad or waiting and life feels very out of my control.

Prayer gives me the opportunity to go to the quiet places, seek the depth of my own soul, and connect with my Creator. I have cried and laughed and brought forth the truth of my own being. Taking time to turn my sorrows around with the force of intentional gratitude improves my day and my relationship to life. As the Psalmist said, “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, o thou Most High.” Psalms 9: 1-2

Oh Creator, I thank you for the Sun that shines, the Earth that offers humanity Home, the Moon that brings the light into the night. I thank you for Nature that offers peace of mind, people who love me as I love them, and a sense of community that bolsters my feelings of kindred. I thank you for my home, my family, my country, and the freedom to live my life in a way that I enjoy. Amen.

365 Days of Prayer – Day 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All beings, including this out of focus butterfly partake of the bounty of water. Two prayers were given for today, the first inspired by Creek Woman:

For all that is Green and Immortal

Holy the Growing, Holy the Dying

Holy all that is coming into Form.

Hidden always the Life Force

In the center of our own Being,

The Holy Fire of the Heart.

And from Hulde and the Norns, a prayer of initiation:

Stand tall in the process

Girl to Woman or Boy to Man

Mindful living on the Land

Child to Adult initiation see

All that you would ever want to Be.

May your day be truly blessed in good relationships with all Beings.

~ Susan

365 Days of Prayer – Day 3 for Water

When my husband Alan and I moved on to the land here, we quickly learned that the Nature spirits are alive and well. Among the first to introduce herself to us, was the Angel of the Creek flowing behind our home. I will call her Creek Woman, because her essence feels feminine, and there is a masculine counterpart to her work. Creek Woman has taught us about working with the element of water. I would meditate by fixing my gaze on the water flowing by. The practice taught me about water, how to move with water, about my emotions, and also taught me reverence for water.

Without water we could not live. We drink it, we bathe in it, we wash our bodies and our dishes in it, we use it in our cooking, for cleaning our cars, homes, and washing our dogs. No organic being can survive without water. Water cleanses us from the inside out as well, keeping us healthy.

Unappreciative of all this, many people take water for granted. Water is contaminated through polluting, through dumping chemicals, through fracking, through many ways that have begun to come back to humanity, hurting ourselves in the process.

Creek Woman has told me that water likes to be sung to. Water can take our prayers to heaven in a similar way to the burning of Sacred plants like Tobacco, Sage, and Mugwort. Water does this when it rises as fog in the morning hours. In fact morning is a good time to pray, before the concerns of the day take the calm of our night’s sleep away. Or conversely, morning is a great time to talk to the waters about the worries that emerged during the night.

The words to this spoken or sung prayer came from a young musician whose name I have forgotten. She shared these words at a Medicine Circle held by Barbara Three Crow in Red Hook, NY over ten years ago. If she sees these words and claims them I will give her credit here. I thank her for her offering that I share with the waters.

Love and gratitude to the water,

Love and gratitude to the water,

Love and gratitude, love and gratitude to the water.

365 Days of Prayer – Day Two

Teresa of Avila wrote:

Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours,

Yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world;

Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;

Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

 

As with the disclaimer yesterday, inspiration from diverse religions and philosophies will be shared beautifully here, and credit given.

A Year of Daily Prayer

 

Prayer is such a personal thing, isn’t it? It is a practice some of us have, and some of us don’t. But it can bring such comfort in the midst of pain, fear, and grief. It is in this spirit that I am committing to a year of sharing daily prayer.

I pray daily in response to the pain and fear I feel in the world, and in my own life. This collection of 365 prayers may be my own, they may be shared from various faith traditions, or inspired by other people – credit will always be given.

My reason is simple. I am seeking to inspire others to bring their light into the world with a similar practice. In prayer, we step into our own authenticity and relationship with the Divine.

Today’s prayer:

Dear God, I am the mother of a Marine in training. During his Recruit training, I am aware he is faced with greater trials of strength and endurance than many of us will ever see. I pray from my own grief as a mother missing my son, and I pray from gratitude as I now stand with a group of mothers whose sons have chosen a great calling – that of protecting our Nation and way of life, our freedoms and our liberty. None of us can know ahead of time what the personal cost will be. I pray You today for strength of courage, commitment, and honor for my son, and for myself I pray the grace and hope of love and endurance to weather what the years may bring. I honor You, God, and I offer you my reverence and my love.

Susan

RUNE PLAY: Tools for Spiritual Evolution and Transformation

RUNE PLAY: Tools for Spiritual Evolution and Transformation is now available at amazon for your kindle and in paperback.

Buy it here.

The Runes are congruent in meaning for at least 1800 years that we know of. The principle energies behind the Runes are probably much older than that, dating back to the shamanic practices of the ancient Indo-Europeans.

This book contains the descriptions of the 24 Runes of the Elder Futhark, and then moves into meditative and artistic exercises designed to help the student of the Runes master their essential energies. The Runes are discussed throughout the book in accord with the Triad, one of the lawful movements of energies within life. Seeing one’s self in accord with the Runes and with the Triad is a useful practice on the journey to “Know thy self.”

The last part of the book uses the Runes to explore the connection of the Valknut, a symbol dating from the Viking Age to the Enneagram, the contemporary form of a nine-sided figure brought to the west by G.I. Gurdjieff with his Fourth Way method of work on self. The book is designed so that a student of the Runes can move through it at their own pace.

It is my wish as RUNE PLAY’s author that you will buy the book and dogear your copy.

Rune Blessings,

Susan Hintz Epstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayers of the Faithful released by Notre-Dame fire

The heartbreaking scene of the cathedral of Notre-Dame on fire horrified and saddened many. Sometimes we wonder why these horrible things happen. As I was watching the clouds this morning driving out on my morning school bus route, I pondered that the clouds held a formation I had not seen before, and all of a sudden I knew that the fire had released the prayers of the faithful that had been collecting in that honorable cathedral for hundreds of years.

The clouds held the shape of a wing, and under that wing were tiny fists of clouds of the type that gather together preceding a rainstorm. I thought of the wings of angels and guardian spirits whose prayers gather to lift us up. The Ancestors had been calling to me since early morning, and I had been singing them awake with my own song of prayer: “Please come and gather to support the human collective as humanity struggles to overcome its own darkness and grow into light.” I suppose this was my answer.

It is not coincidence that Light is equated with the process of Enlightenment or Awakening, just as it is no coincidence that evil is called darkness or shadow. I cannot know Light without Darkness, and I cannot know Darkness without Light. What is darkness, but light unaware of itself? All of the Great Teachers have taught something about waking up to higher consciousness, and part of this process is the practice of forgiveness. As we struggle collectively and individually on the political scene and elsewhere in life, it helps to remember that whether we agree with the other person or not, opinions expressed and sincerely listened to by each party can blend for the benefit of all of us. Keeping an open heart and an open mind is key.

I’m not intending to stand on the bully pulpit, but I wanted to let this be known: the Divine has released the prayers of the faithful over centuries because this energy is needed by humanity and the Earth at this time. When I felt that soothing prayer energy, my own heart lifted, and I wanted to encourage anybody who will listen, to pray, pray fervently with all the light you have. Find reasons to be grateful, no matter what your troubles. Find reasons to love. No matter what the color of our skin, we are all human, and this Earth is the only home we have.

Intentional Sensation & Body Awareness

Intentional Sensation seems to me such a simple thing when I explain it, but when I look around and observe human life, it seems so profound, because conscious attention to the sensation of our bodies can inform us about who we are, how we are, and our presence in the world. I think for the most part our body is just something we take for granted, or else we have surrendered to ideas that are not our own and inherited a negative body image.

When I was a kid, Twiggy was the rage, and anyone who was not ultra skinny learned to hate their body. In other eras, it was Betty Davis’s eyes, or Betty Grable’s legs. Maybe these stereotypes reflect a subconscious longing to fit in, but that is not the goal of any consciousness raising group or program I have belonged to.

So what exactly is my point? I believe that we are all special and unique, and that we have the potential to develop that individuality toward a meaningful and fulfilling life. Ignore this if you already have a meaningful and fulfilling life, because I’m preaching to the choir.

If we are people who are hung up on body image, we are people who care more for how others see us than how we see ourselves. Take a new look in the mirror. What do you like? What do you dislike? What do you see? Throw those ideas away. Look into your own eyes. Gaze a little deeper. Do you begin to feel the stirring presence of your own soul? Do you begin to feel the stirring curiosity: What is this person? Forget for a moment the image you’ve been staring at automatically for the past – how old are you anyway – number of years, and ask a new question? Who am I? How am I? What am I today?

Chances are you can’t answer this except by defining the roles you play. Dad, Mom, sister, brother, cousin, the job you have, the money you have or don’t have, the car you drive. Go deeper. What are you without the stuff of your life? Is this an idea of yourself? Or a feeling of yourself? Take a moment more. Let’s try something new. Take a deep breath. Another.

I know. Okay, this author is boring, let’s click away from this blog.

But really, if you are still with me, with each deep breath, you are feeling a little more relaxed in your own body, are you not? Take a moment or two more. Stretch where you feel stiff. Didn’t that feel good? If it did, go deeper. Scan your body with your attention for areas of stiffness, areas of relaxed, areas of pain. Choose one, and breath into it. Slowly, deeply, meaningfully. Are you experiencing relief?

This is a taste of what it feels like to live mindfully in your own body. This can lead to a taste of what it feels like to be grateful for this body, this earth life, these sensations and these opportunities to taste, touch, see, listen, smell.

Intentional sensation is an all-body experience that I learned from my Gurdjieff mentor Donald V. Petacchi. With intentional sensation you can walk, play sports, ride horses, and turn any kind of movement into a meditation. You can relax into classical music, turn a walk in the garden into a mystical experience, practice experiencing the sublime. So if you’ve stuck with me this far in this reading, take a walk today. Breathe with awareness. Move with awareness. Have attention for the sensations your body provides you. Have a meaningful life.

Book Review: Winds of Spirit

Ever since the day I sought to meet the Holy, and the wind came up on a still day, the wind has been a special comfort to me. For Christians, the Holy Spirit is the Comforter; since “spirit” means “breath,” I have associated the Holy Spirit with Divine Wind. So that when I came across Renee Baribeau online, I began to follow her work. Renee is the Hay House author of Winds of Spirit.

Winds of Spirit is a original and unique book. Renee got the idea one day to follow creation stories and discovered that the Creator gods were often wind gods. Renee identifies the types of winds and how they affect living on a daily basis. Tailwinds, crosswinds, and headwinds among others can affect our moods, our patterns, and shape our creativity in art, craft, business, and avocations. Renee provides exercises for working with the winds in ways that enhance spiritual growth from identifying and clearing resistances to change that occur in the body to manifesting what you need. Renee teaches ways to work toward your authentic self.

Wind Knots, Wind Whistling, and using the Winds to clear resistance from your life, or seeking spiritual counsel from the 32 Wind gods and goddesses at the back of her book  are other practices. Available to enhance your practice with Winds of Spirit are a Wind Bag of cards with the names of these winds and a Wind Whistle, which can be used to call in the Four Directions, grounding yourself, and healing, here.

I’ve been fortunate to study with  Renee Baribeau through her online Spring and Fall Wind Mastery classes, and her Winds of Spirit class at Omega in August 2019. You can find her on Facebook on the Wind Clan page, on The Shaman’s Cave (a podcast she hosts with Sandra Ingerman), or at The Practical Shaman. Community YOUniversity is a place you can join on Facebook to have a truly supportive and loving community. Weekly video conferences with Renee’s students exist for continued engagement.Winds of Spirit has given me additional tools to use in my healing and divination practices, and is a practical addition to my library. All in all, I believe that Winds of Spirit is a book that belongs on the book shelf of every shamanic practitioner and healer.

 

 

 

Healing the Heart from Brokenness

Healing the heart from the brokenness of painful emotions requires the courage to move through the pain, and doing the work to find solutions. Without fail, this means catching our triggers before they manifest, examining those thoughts and beliefs surrounding the habit of negative emotions, and seeking new affirmations and self-talk that will change the outcomes around those triggered behaviors. This is where the role of forgiveness and release come into play.

How can I identify when these emotional energy loops are at play? I can become aware of areas in my body that don’t feel good, don’t feel fluid, don’t give me the ease of flexibility I expect through the practice of Intentional Sensation.*

Candace Pert’s important book, The Molecules of Emotion, testifies that emotions are stored in the body. I am sixty years old now, so I can add to this testimony that having a stiff neck has reflected stubborn beliefs I was unwilling to give up, that my left knee stiffens up when I am holding on to anger, and that my twisted tailbone may have its source in my support job of driving a school bus, but that has reflected a fear of money when finances are tight or overdrawn. Louise Hay’s book Heal Your Body holds many more similar correlations.

In areas of resistance, such emotions as anger, depression, resentment, melancholy, guilt, shame, jealousy, envy, laziness, and the kind of pride that separates me from connection to others can be found. If people allow these to trigger through blame and projection, they become destructive. Venting might make one feel good for a moment, but when those negative expressions come back to us in the form of broken friendships and trust, that no longer feels good.

If I can instead catch that emotion before it manifests, it becomes a guide to teach me what I need in my own life. For example, when I observed envy in myself, it was due to a friend who has become extremely successful as a multi-media artist. If I would like that for myself, I need to consider the things I would need to do to achieve that. Other friends have written books. I want to do that too, so I have set aside time each day to get the process of writing done. For me this has meant sacrificing an idea that “someday” I would have time to work on that. At sixty, that someday might never come, so it might as well be now.

Emotions are not always so benign as the recognition of envy that told me what I needed to do to have what I wanted. Women healers  are a collective group that has expressed pent up rage at sexual abuse, persecution as witches, and the total negation of the wisdom of half of the human species. Each of us has experiences that are unique to us. Beginning the process of listening to our own feelings and emotions is the first step toward wholeness.

* Intentional Sensation is the practice of sensory attention to our body, and has been taught in the Gurdjieff work as one aspect of self-observation of the physical-emotional-intellectual complex that is a human being.