Winter-time is Rest-time?

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Winter-time is traditionally a time of rest, but with our post-modern lifestyle, it is often anything but. I lose track of the beauty of Nature when I am shoveling out my driveway and my feet feel like blocks of ice. I have to stop and remind myself to rise above the negative and see the beauty in each and every moment.

Earlier on the day that I took this photo, I had walked with my dog up the long trail to a Hemlock tree I had befriended a number of years ago. That memory alone made the day  special despite slogging through the snow and consequent shoveling. Yet I like to watch how the trees and houses disappear in the whiteout and the wind. Nature is truly marvelous with Her changing climes and changing times.

Flower At Rest During Winter Months

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These Rhododendron flowers are waiting for the right combination of temperature and sunlight to call them forth into their blossoming time. I noticed them as I was shoveling the eight inches of snow that had buried my car in the driveway.

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The home across the way made a nice contrast against the backdrop of the snow. In warmer times Dolly the Akita and I have hiked the hills that are barely visible today. It makes me mindful of the seasons as they change and how wintertime offers us a level of tranquility and restfulness that the other seasons lack. In January we are recuperating from the busy-ness of the Christmas season, and before that Thanksgiving, and before that Halloween, and before that getting the kids accustomed to this new year of school. I know that I forget to play, and without that awareness the days can run together from one form of industrious to the next, and I find myself older remembering joy instead of experiencing it.

This New Year I am doing something different for myself. No matter what activity I am engaged in, no matter the pressure to get things done, I am going to stop several times during the day and look around me and see the beauty, find the pleasure, and bring that attitude of play into whatever work I am doing. The season will turn around again, spring will come, and that Rhododendron will blossom. The cycles of Nature are as certain as the Sun arising in the morning.

I had wanted to close this blog today with a photo of that same Rhododendron bush in bloom, but I could not locate the photo I had in mind. But this is okay, it is another good reminder to be present to where I am, the season I am in, and the needs of the day.

I’d like to leave you with a good wish and a blessing to enjoy all of your seasons during 2019.

Calendar Updates!

On October 20th, the Kingston, NY Holistic Fair at the Holiday Inn Express at 1835 Ulster Avenue (9W), Lake Katrine, NY, 12449! Event runs from 10 am to 6 pm.

and

On November 4th, Psychic & Healing Fair at Keegan Ales in Kingston!

 

On November 10th, Institute for Spiritual Development in Oneonta, NY!

Saturday November 10, 2018 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Institute for Spiritual Development, Lotus Center  (map)

Renewal, Relaxation, Re-awaken! —10 tried & true psychic readers & energy healers - unique metaphysical gifts & crafts, Bake Sale, Meditation, https://www.shiftnewyork.com/workshop-schedule-11-10-18" target="_blank">Free Workshops at the new ISD Oneonta Lotus Center- Free Admission; raffle prizes- pre-book w/your favorite https://www.shiftnewyork.com/readers-healers-11-10-18" target="_blank">Psychic Reader or Healer to assure your spot! Private readings only $25; Info:www.shiftnewyork.com

PRACTICE SUSTAINABILITY

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

IDEAS TO PRACTICE SUSTAINABILITY – Some people have better ideas than I do, and others have different practices. You can peruse this list or create your own.

1.) Ask yourself, do I really need a materialistic lifestyle? If not, practice thrift. If I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. This was not always true for me, but in recent years I have begun a preference for a minimalist lifestyle. I discovered that having too many things meant having that much more to take care of.

2.) It has been my choice to avoid bringing home those plastic shopping bags and to avoid as much as possible purchasing pre-packaged food. This has cut my trash in half or more. I keep on hand those recycled plastic shopping bags with handles that can easily be folded up to store and reuse.

3.) Walk to work, ride a bike, or drive a car with excellent gas economy. The first two will only be practical if you live close to work, and that too, may be a practical solution.

4.) Keep a garden. In addition to supplementing your diet with healthy fresh produce, the time outside gets you into contact with those little beings who help pollinate the plants and break down the soil. If you keep flowers, especially Butterfly/Bee/Bird gardens, you will appreciate many moments sighting Hummingbirds and absolutely gorgeous butterflies. With a little care and research, you can find plants that these beings love that are also of practical use to humans. My Monarda, or Bee Balm, provides food for both bees and hummingbirds, and the tea from the leaves? That is flavorful Bergamot. I also grow Anise Hyssop and Ecchinacea.

5.) If you or other members of the family hunt, utilize all parts of the animal. I have made clothing and drums out of deer hide, and if, like me, you practice an Earth-centered religion, you can turn horn, bone, and hoof into rattles, buttons, and other useful noise-makers.

6.) Support as much as possible solar energy and wind power. Technology has developed so that now many people can use for their homes.

7.) One friend shared on FB that she always carries a trash bag when she hikes to pick up any litter she finds. I so appreciate people like this! And if you hike, please carry out what you carry in!

I’m out of suggestions for today, but if you read this, won’t you please leave your own solutions in the comment box?

 

Ways to Honor Earth


1.) Develop a feeling of reverence for the Earth. Develop a practice of gratitude. Thank the Earth for all the support She gives you – the solid ground under your feet as you walk, the food that comes from the garden, the Beauty of mountains, valleys, hills, trees, deserts, oceans, even the crowning stars of the night sky. The Earth as a planet rides in that night sky.

2.) Work to overcome any revulsion or fear you feel for the lowly Earth creatures. Bumble Bees and Honey Bees contribute to the pollination of our food; the larvae of those annoying house flies breaks down that dead and decaying material and turns it into rich compost; that Dandelion that some people call “weeds” is actually a healthy herb to sustain the body – it is good for the liver and the digestion.

3.) Develop your practice of intentional sensation to further the sensual enjoyment of your Earth experience. This life is a precious one. No matter what stress you are dealing with, time spent walking in Nature refreshes the soul. Let the Wind caress your face, open your hands to the rain, allow the sensations of hot and cold, pleasant and unpleasant, even joy and sorrow, because these give you the wisdom to know that no matter how bad things are they can always get better, or no matter how good things are they can always get worse. Therefore, these opposing sensations and emotions make us wise in the face of meeting life situations with precision and flexibility.

4.) If the idea calls to you, begin to work with and learn from the Elements, which will speak with you. It has been my experience that all beings – those we consider organic and those we consider inorganic, participate in the life force of the planet. The connection or communication is usually telepathic or emotive – the trick is to stay open for what impressions will come. I taught my Reiki share to develop their intuition, and they were often surprised by what they could know by simply remaining receptive. So give it a try, and have patience for the process. Keep a Journal to record the results of your efforts.

5.) Speak aloud to the Earth, forests, streams, Winds. Giving Voice to what we feel is to give added vibration to our thoughts and emotions. The spiritual realms that work within the realms of Nature do hear and appreciate our appreciation. I have had Winds come up for as simple a statement as “What a beautiful tree!”

6.) Dance! When you feel your joy and your feet want to start tapping, allow the desire for movement to flow through you. I have twirled like a dervish in accord with the Winds and refused to feel like an oddball. There’s no one to care but me.

7.) Practice a lifestyle that leaves a small footprint on the Earth. Live sustainably.

 

On Becoming More Enlightened

Every human being has the potential to become Enlightened, or more Conscious, to the degree their heredity and capacity for work on self allow. This process is not imitation of another’s way of doing things, practicing religion, or the food you eat. It is a process of self-observation, or self-witnessing, throughout the daily aspects of life. We are all seeded with a certain heredity that allows for our physical, emotional, and mental capacity, and then we experience life and education in such a way as to form the personality aspects of the waking consciousness. Yet there is great advantage in finding a teacher qualified in the direction of the trail you are called to walk. In any given life, there can be many teachers; the true teacher will assist you in opening to the pathway of your own heart. My personal path has called me toward Shamanism, but along the way I was raised Christian, studied Oriental religions, studied the work of G. I. Gurdjieff with two teachers (Ann Kelly and Donald Petacchi), learned Reiki, and was initiated as a Mesa Carrier. Each turn of my life path has deepened the learning in the way of my calling. Most recently I am spirit-taught by Deities of the Norse pantheon, and I have found a Shamanic teacher in Renee Baribeau, the Practical Shaman, and Hay House author of Winds of Spirit. Everything I have learned along the way has fed my life path and my soul’s growth.

Among the things I took in from my time in the Gurdjieff Work is the integration of body, emotion, and intellect. In the Christian faith as I learned it, and in certain aspects of Oriental religions, the body and the sensations of the body are taught to be unimportant. There are meditations that help to remove one’s attentions from sensation so as to become free from desire and attachment to the world. I believe that instead of ignoring our physical sensations, a practice of intentional sensation can better ground us to awareness of our emotional state, our feelings, and therefore detach from them so that we can be in life, but not of it. The last is a Biblical term that honors bringing the consciousness of the higher self, as our spirit-soul complex is called in metaphysical circles, into daily awareness. The practice of what Gurdjieff called Conscious Labor and Intentional Suffering are key to developing the capacity to live from a centered-awareness of Higher Emotion and Higher Intellectual. (Someday I will teach more about this process as it relates to the Enneagram. Anyone interested in deepening their understanding of the Gurdjieff work, I recommend reading Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson the three times as he suggested).

Intentional sensation is a way of grounding the extremes posed between our emotions and our intellect in the body. It is as useful a meditation tool as counting the breath. When sitting or lying still, I bring the attention to the awareness of my body. I may begin with my feet and move up my body, or I may begin with my face and work down my body, making a special effort to relax all inherent tension. If I am feeling emotional or bothered about something, I might ask my body to draw my attention to where that emotion is stored so that I can do the work of releasing it to become clear of it. The work of scientist Candace Pert proved for once and all that emotions are stored in the body (see Molecules of Emotion). The work of becoming clear of those negative and repressed emotions we are holding on to facilitates our emotional healing and capacity to live without the burden of reactive behavior patterns and negative energy loops. Clearing ourselves of these less desirable aspects of our conditioned upbringing and wrong interpretations of life experiences contributes to living with more presence and contentment.

When I was taught Conscious Labor, the first step was to center myself, and then to ground myself in my body with Intentional Sensation, and maintain that awareness while I went through the work of my day, whatever that work was. I discovered that the more I disliked a certain task, the better it was for me to bring my attention and awareness to it, because the effort created a struggle between opposing aspects of myself – the aspects that like work and the aspects that preferred lazy. The resulting friction served to burn the dross out of my being. Later the more advanced efforts of intentional suffering came into it with making more efforts at tasks I did not like. I learned to stop my negative self-talk and get on with things, and gradually I grew to love work from a deep place within myself. Once I was able to stop my thoughts from repeating on the topic of whether I liked my work or not, I was more able to stop my thoughts from generating critical judgments and opinions of people who had annoyed me in some way, so you can see how the focus of my work with intentional suffering changed from tasks to relationships with others. I strive to have good will with everybody; sometimes easier said than done. Gurdjieff’s method is an ever-evolving process of bringing attention to the task of self-observation and self-remembering.

This type of meditative effort centers on becoming present to ourselves. Gurdjieff had an exercise that he used in his groups. When he would call out, “STOP!” the group was expected to stop its movement and people were to take note of their posture, mood, feelings, and thoughts of the given moment. One can become mindful of almost everything. Gurdjieff’s sacred dances were intended to assist this purpose of observing the work of centers also.

Gurdjieff provided my introduction to the idea that the many traditions of ancient ways held teachings in common. With the work of Carolyn Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit I was thrilled to discover those connections between the chakras, the Kabbalah (Hebrew Tree of Life), and the Christian Sacraments. When I came upon the Runes through the book Rune Power, by Kenneth Meadows, the answers were also there, and I knew that my ancestors had once had their own version of these teachings, including a shamanic practice. My ancestors came from Sweden, and there were ties with the Saami peoples, or Laplanders. Mircea Eliade has tied ideas further together for me with his seminal work Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. We have in ourselves patterns for accessing higher states of consciousness, we have in ourselves the pattern of the World Tree, or Tree of Life (Yggdrasil is the name of the Norse Tree of Worlds). Through intentional sensation I could begin to access these states through my own body. I firmly believe that human beings do not need drugs to connect with the sacred; we have all the tools we need through the practices of meditation, presence, and prayer. Through intentional sensation I was able to deepen my practice with the chakras, and even to equate certain chakras with the four elements, something I have since read in connection with other authors. The final element I had to work with was wind (air is the element of the heart), and I honor Renee Baribeau for her work in this direction.

The following life experience connected me to the divinity inherent within the wind. I was still practicing as a Lay Speaker for the Methodist Church, and I wanted to test the promise that the pure of heart would see God. I went up on the hill under some pine trees with my drum, and I played. As I played, I prayed. The first thing that happened was that on a still day, the wind came up strongly (Holy Spirit, Holy Breath!). The second thing was that I had a vision, and it was not a vision just for humans, but for all Life. I had a vision of the Creator creating various forms of life, and the Creator showed me himself as a Praying Mantis. Now, isn’t that interesting, I thought. The vision seemed to show me the creative breath inherent within all life.

As a Reiki healer, I have worked with the energy fields of animals as well as people, and that all beings have chakras is something that my experience has proven to me. I wanted to connect the chakras to the idea of the Tree of Life. Through my work with the Runes, I wanted to connect the idea of the chakras to the Nine Worlds. The correlations do not exactly line up, but they don’t have to. Each pattern of cosmology relates us to the system it has arisen from. What satisfies me is the universality of the cosmologies.

My next blog post will deal with the Chakras and the Nine Worlds of Yggdrasil.

 

Earth Is Our Home

Earth is our Home, and human beings have forgotten to honor Her. The long-term results of colonization and industrialization that led to climate change and changing of weather patterns are easy to foresee – population dispersal due to loss of human habitat and disruption of food provision systems. Earth has survived numerous changes and will again, but will our species?

It is useless to place blame for problems which began long before our generation. It is useless to take up guilt and shame. It is useful to face the problems squarely and ask my self, “What is my function through these changing times I am in? That we as the human collective are in?” It is useful to work together and to develop local communities that are supportive of each other and of the changes that humans are facing globally, yet affect us on a local level. I believe that deepening our reverence for the Earth and tolerating our mutual differences while honoring the strengths we each contribute are key to the process.

We are Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Taoists, Hindus, Heathens, Pagans, polytheists, monotheists, and diverse others. We are loyal to our countries, causes, and families. Reverence and loyalty are to be respected. None of these are mutually exclusive except insofar as we separate them in our own minds from a personal need to be right.

But if we can transcend that need to be right, we can step into a larger understanding. Two things connecting all of us, whether we agree or disagree, are our Humanity and the fact that our mutual Home is Earth.

Again, I ask myself the question: “What is my function through these changing times I am in? That we as the human collective are in?” My answer is to deepen my reverence for Earth, and to encourage others to do the same.

My reverence for Earth makes Earth relevant to a devotional and mindfulness practice that includes my religious process and meeting the daily demands of life. Mindfulness and devotion are practices common to all religions, including science, as are meditation and prayer. “Religiousness” arises from human emotion, providing a deep feeling for one’s life and one’s purpose. It does not exclude my belief in science. This too can be common to humanity.

Recently I sat outdoors with the fire at night. I was just beginning to feel the changes to the season, although the Solstice had happened a few weeks prior. I had to rake the leaves away from my fire pit thrice that day, and even as I was meditating with the fire, I could hear the whisper of falling leaves all around me. That night’s experience deepened my relationship with the fire element (which our Ancestors relied upon for their survival) and my awareness of the changing tides of Earth time, season in and season out. The Earth I sat upon has sustained the footsteps of generations of humanity for about 200,000 years, according to the fossil record. I placed my hands palm downward upon the Earth where I sat and marveled as I considered each individual life, each individual species, the shapes and forms and multitudinous ways that life – this wonderful life – has manifest throughout the generations. Species rise and fall, but here I sit today with gratitude.

Shamans have long practiced gratitude for the Elements. It is a way that we walk upon the Earth, acknowledging the human need for water, fire, the fruits and meats that Earth provides for the sustaining of our physical bodies, the air we breath, the shelter Earth provides. In their own way, Shamans were the early Scientists, observing from the natural elements and gaining the knowledge necessary to survival. Shamans were working with energy fields long before Faraday, Maxwell, or Planck formulated their theories of electromagnetism.

Connection to Earth was the foundation for all primeval religion, and the Overworlds and the Underworlds as known by the Shamans became the foundation for the stories of Heaven and Hell. What modern science knows as the Biosphere links all Life through the winds, the water currents, and the seasonal cycles. Human instinctual awareness of these connecting linkages became severed as humans moved into cultures that valued intellectualism over intuitive knowing of Earth. Yet Earth remains the Garden of Eden, have we but eyes to see and ears to hear. As humanity regains an understanding that Earth is a living, self-regulating Being from whose Life we all partake, our attitudes and life practices will change.

I believe that humanity can regain these connecting linkages without sacrificing the intellectual innovations we have achieved, but we need to discipline ourselves to avoid the excesses that make toxic the environment for all beings. One example, the interconnected work of many species (bees) contributes to the provision of foodstuffs of which all partake, yet that we all depend upon for sustenance is stupidly killed off by human ignorance. “Neonicotinoids are especially likely to cause cumulative effects on bees due to their mechanism of function as this pesticide group works by binding to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brains of the insects, and such receptors are particularly abundant in bees”(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesticide_toxicity_to_bees). To sacrifice ignorance is to begin to educate our selves and change life practices to be more congruent with the welfare of all beings.

The beginning point is to change our point of awareness. To change our point of awareness, we need to educate ourselves and become more informed than we are. An important consideration to this information is the question, “How well do I know myself?” To inform yourself of how you truly think – and feel – about any given topic, situation, reality is vital to your well being and existence on the Earth. The work you do, the work I do – all has validity and contributes to the Uplifting of all beings. If it is true, as I believe, that humanity was created to carry the process of conscious transformation forward on Earth, then it follows that becoming more “Conscious,” or more Enlightened, is quite important, and I will say more on this in my next post.

Ways to Honor Earth

 

RUNE TALK

Do you want to learn more about the Runes? Are they really almost two thousand years old? Learn more with a fun experiential talk with Susan Hintz-Epstein in which she incorporates slide show history with hands-on interpretation. You will make your own first Rune deck using a simple set of three by five cards.

Rune Cast
Rune Interpretation – fifteen minute, thirty minute, or sixty minutes

 

To arrange a Rune Talk, call Susan at (518) 947-0645 cell or email: susan@nornirscorner.com.