Wishing You A Bright, Bright Sun Shiny Friday, dear family & friends!

Good Morning Images
Good Morning to all! I hope everyone is having a fantastic Friday. I have been up since 3:00. Just woke up, tried to go back to sleep, no such luck. A couple of weeks ago I experienced the same exact thing. At that time it was due to withdrawals for some of my medication. I switched doctors and I knew I was taking a lot of medicine from the other but…..The new doctor told me it was a wonder I wasn’t dead because I should have overdosed. Apparently the Goddess has been doing double duty with me. So the new doctor cut my medicine in half. I didn’t think a thing about having withdrawals. He cut one of the main drugs I had been on for years in half. That liked to have killed me. I didn’t sleep for three days. I had the shakes, sweat like a pig and quit eating. Finally called the doctor and talked to his nurse. She told me I should have called sooner. Then put me on a medication to help with the withdrawals. Now I am slowly tapering off of it. It is amazing, I am starting to come to reality now. And I am finding out reality sucks, big time!

During the period of my bad withdrawals all I could think about was death. Nothing to do with killing myself just dying in general. I had some very disturbing thoughts and also did some soul searching. The disturbing thoughts were due to the withdrawals, the soul searching was very enlightening. Now with that and reality sitting in, I am wondering what the hell had went so wrong. Or has it always been this way and I was so out of it I didn’t see it coming. Well, not coming but was here all the time and I didn’t recognize the situation. I don’t know but it has made me question everything I have ever done.

I can’t talk to anyone here. The last time I did everything got blew way out of portion. So I have just kept my mouth shut and tried to sort it all out in my poor, little brain. Probably why I couldn’t go back to sleep this morning. We have a house payment due, the property taxes due, another $600.00 light bill, not to mention a $140.00 water bill, the server’s bill is due, the animals are almost out of food, not to mention myself (but it wouldn’t hurt for me to lose a few pounds). It just seems like it is one thing right after another. Oh, I forgot, the wholesaler we hooked up with, turned out to be a total joke. The first few orders they did fine. The next two, nothing! I have had to go through Paypal to turn to get our money back on that. We still have money to refund to customers. I just don’t get it. Opened the store for a good reason and it turned into a disaster. I just wake up now and wonder what is going to happen today.

Perhaps my current situation is a test. A test to see if I can handle the real world. Who knows? I know I don’t anymore. I just get up and pray every day not to let anything else happen right now. I pray for the Goddess to help us and not to let me go crazy in the process. Help me sort this whole mess out. I know it will eventually but at what cost. Will we lose everything we have worked so hard to get? I don’t want to lose it all but I have grounded myself in my faith. I know the Goddess will see us through this one way or the other. She always has and I have faith She will again.

I know my attitude and personality has changed and I apologize for that. I have just came back to reality and my reality is a mess right now. So if I seem distant for a while, you now know why. I will eventually get it all together with the help of the Goddess. She has always been my rock through the good times and the bad. She has always been my Divine Mother and always will be. No matter what I will always continue to do Her work. I believe She has brought us this far for a reason and we have a long ways yet to go. No one ever said our Paths would be smooth and trouble free. You have just got to keep your faith and muddle through the best way possible. Know there is a reason for every thing that happens. Perhaps you don’t see it now but in the long run you will. Hopefully when it is all said and done, you will be a wiser person and have learned from that lesson. At least that is what I am hoping for myself.

You now have your daily update. See I told you, I would still talk your ear off and I did. Well I am going to surprise you and get all the daily’s on here about three hours early (if I don’t fall asleep at the computer). I hope you have a fantastic Friday and thanks for listening. Off to work I go…..

Luv & Hugs,

Lady A

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 20

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 20

“The most important thing now is to reveal the inner temple of the soul with right thinking and right activity.”

–Willaru Huayta, QUECHUA NATION, PERU

The key to growing a strong tree is to have a good system of roots and to feed the roots with good medicine. If we put poison in the root system, it will affect the tree, and it will become obvious to the rest of the forest what is being fed to the roots. This is also true of the human being. We need to feed our roots with right thinking. If our thinking is right, it will become obvious to the rest of the people. We don’t need to tell people about ourselves with our mouth because our actions always tell them.

Great Spirit, direct my thinking today. Feed my roots.

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Today’s Herb Is Lemon Verbena

Today’s Herb Is Lemon Verbena

Verbena, Lemon

Botanical: Lippia citriodora
Family: N.O. Verbenaceae

—Synonyms—Aloysia citriodora. Verveine citronelle or odorante. Herb Louisa. Lemonscented Verbena. Verbena triphylla. Lippia triphylla.
—Parts Used—Leaves, flowering tops.
—Habitat—Chile and Peru. Cultivated in European gardens.

—Description—This deciduous shrub was introduced into England in 1784, reaching a height of 15 feet in the Isle of Wight and in sheltered localities. The leaves are very fragrant, lanceolate, arranged in threes, 3 to 4 inches long, with smooth margins, pale green in colour, having parallel veins at right-angles to the mid-rib and flat bristles along the edges. The many small flowers are pale purple, blooming during August in slim, terminal panicles. The leaves, which have been suggested to replace tea, will retain their odour for years and are used in perfumery. They should be gathered at flowering time.

All the species of Lippia abound in volatile oil.

—Constituents—The odour is due to an essential oil obtainable by distillation. It has not been analysed in detail.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Febrifuge, sedative. The uses of Lemon Verbena are similar to those of mint, orange flowers, or melissa, as a stomachic and antispasmodic in dyspepsia, indigestion and flatulence, stimulating skin and stomach.

—Dosage—The decoction may be taken in several daily doses of three tablespoonsful.

—Other Species—

Lippia Scaberrima, or Beukessboss ofSouth Africa, yields an essential oil with an odour like lavender, named Lippianol. It has a peculiar crystalline appearance, with the qualities of a monohydric alcohol.

From L. mexicana or possibly Cedronella mexicana, an essential oil resembling that of fennel was separated, and also a substance like camphor, called Lippioil.

The essence of Lemon-Grass, or Andropogon Schoenanthus, should not be confused with that of Lemon-Scented Verbena.

Cutting the Knot: Handling a Pagan Divorce

Cutting the Knot: Handling a Pagan Divorce

by Freya Ray

Whether it’s three months past the handfasting or twelve years past the wedding, there comes a point in the lives of many pagan couples when it’s time to give it up already. You’ve tried everything you can think of to save the relationship, you’ve both been depressed for far too long, you’ve flailed around and dragged half your friends inside your mess and none of it has done any good.

Then a moment of clarity descends. This relationship is not going to be fixed by couples counseling, karmic clearing rituals, better feng shui or some new sexual interests. You’ve had it, or they’ve had it. Someone has made a simple, clear decision that it’s over.

Now what?

The absolute first thing you need to do is find some alone time to cry and rage and feel sorry for yourself. If you’re still in shock and it hasn’t hit you yet, you’ve got two options. One is to soldier on like an automaton, waiting for the freight train of your feelings to come around a corner and flatten you. The other is to create enough alone time with no distractions when you can invite your feelings to come up to the surface so you can deal with them. It’s a personal choice. Some people need to get things handled before they break down. Just make sure you create time to fall apart at some point.

The emotional basket-case period will vary in length, depending on the relationship, how long you were together, how shocking the end of it was to you, how much control you had in the decision, how badly you were done wrong or how guilty you feel for doing wrong and how much you still love your soon-to-be-ex-partner. However long it’s going to take you to get over it, you still need to find a clear moment in which to make some triage decisions.

When you get to a good break point in your weeping and wailing, dry your eyes, take a long walk and come back to get settled in a quiet, meditative place. What you need to do now is try to project yourself forward. Right at this moment, you’re feeling a whole host of conflicting things, or even worse, one overriding, immense emotion. These feelings are going to control the actions you take in the next few hours and weeks if you don’t make some higher-level decisions.

Setting aside the emotional crap you’re going to be wading through for a while, ask yourself the question, “What kind of relationship do I truly want to have with this person a year from now?” Sit with that until it’s clear to you. Are you “doner than done,” and you’ll never want to see your ex’s face again once you get his or her crap out of your house? Are you going to want to have a caring friendship? Are you still hoping you can get back together and work things out?

Now you have a vision, a dream. The next question is even more important. “How likely is my soon-to-be-ex-partner going to be to participate in this vision of mine?”

Be honest with yourself. At this point, if you’re calling this a divorce, you’ve been together long enough to have seen this person’s shit. Let me tell you, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, he or she is not going to become a nicer or better person during the breakup. It’s never happened. Not once. So if you know he has a tendency to shut down emotionally, or she’s not in touch with any of her exes, or he lies sometimes, or whatever, that trait is going to be worse from here on out than it was when she was still trying to impress you on some level.

Worse.

This estimation of what’s possible reuqires taking this into account. You take your optimism, your spiritual idealism and then you temper it with a healthy dose of realistic pessimism. It’s okay to gamble on a long shot. Just know you’re doing it. If you want to be friends, and he’s never remained on speaking terms with anyone he’s ever dated, you’ve got a very slim chance of pulling it off. Any effort you expend that direction needs to be effort you can give freely, even if nothing comes back from it.

Actually, that’s a pretty good rule for wherever you want to end up. A breakup is about sorting out stuff, including energy, so that everyone walks away (hopefully!) with what is her own. Don’t keep giving him energy you’re going to need. Give her what you can spare, and let her carry herself the rest of the time.

But I jump ahead. Right now, you’re figuring out what your intent is, your goal. You might even write this down, because I guarantee you that your resolve will be tested.

Quite often, I decide that I am absolutely, given the slightest opening, going to have a nice, friendly, flirtatious, comfortable friendship with an ex. Unless he’s done me country-song wrong, in which case I pick another intention. But if the breakup was due to a more blameless sort of incompatibility, I really want to remain friends with someone I’m no longer dating or living with.

This requires stubbornness after I’ve ended the relationship. Ego is hurt, feelings are hurt, he doesn’t want to see me because he still wants me, he doesn’t want to be near me because he doesn’t still want me, whatever. I have to remain unruffled by attempts to push me away. If I get defensive and hurt, then we’re having drama, and it’s not bringing us closer to being friends. If I wait it out, processing my own hurt on my own time, and holding a friendly open space for him whenever he’s ready to step into it, I’ve got a shot at finding a friend in a few months.

In order to be patient, when he’s saying offensive things or seducing a twit in front of my face, I need to have a clear intention. This anchors me, so my efforts remain in line with the results I wish to produce.

No matter how hurt you are right now, there will be results you will wish to have produced, a few months or a couple years from now. Be clear about them so you don’t slash and burn while you’re upset.

Okay, so you know what you want, you know how likely you are to get it, and you’ve formulated a clear statement of intention. Now you need a plan that’s in line with your intention.

If your intent is to never speak to her again, well, start protecting yourself. I’m sure you have good reason not to want her as a friend, and that means you don’t trust her to make decisions in your best interest during the separation. Don’t be cruel or unfair, but don’t leave all your money in a joint checking account either. Make the material plane decisions as quickly as possible. And be prepared to chew off at least a few toes in order to get yourself free of the trap. Act decisively.

If your intent is to remain friends, start acting like it now. At least when you’re with the new ex. When you’re with your friends, vent all you like. But when together with your ex-partner, be friendly, work toward compromise and offer some peace-treaty gifts. Give her a shared item she enjoys, or even an item of yours she enjoys. Offer to help him move. Call mutual friends and let them know about the breakup, and ask them to provide emotional support to your ex-partner, who really needs it right now. Act like a friend.

If your intent is to get back together, work toward that. Suggest a separation rather than a final decision. Suggest counseling for the both of you. Start counseling yourself. Suggest you pay for him to go to Peru and hang out at a spa getting therapy every day until he feels better about life. If none of these overtures meet with a receptive welcome, consider revising your intention. Your partner might not be open at all to trying it again. But if you’re still intent on your long shot, keep treating this person with love. Wait patiently, periodically testing the waters, seeing if a door opens. Do your emotional work to process the separation and deal with your feelings, so that if that door does open you don’t walk through it saying, “And how dare you shut me out of our own home!” or words to that effect.

Now let’s talk about the energetic and spiritual work that needs to be done with each of our three breakup plans. Any couple is bound by a whole mess of connections, at various chakras and in various stages of health. During a breakup, you need to decide which ones you sever and which you leave in place.

The hostile divorce is the easiest one to handle. Energetically, you slash and burn. Visualize the cords between you and your partner. Visualize a pair of scissors or a knife. Midway between the two of you, cut through the cords. Let her energy go boinging back to her, while yours rebounds inside your own energy body. Do a vacuum maneuver, where you suck up any stray energy that belongs rightfully to you. Do an expulsion, where you send back to him any energy that rightfully belongs to him. Make it clean, decisive and karmically correct.

You might need to repeat this maneuver, as sometimes it will take several separation ceremonies to clear the crud between you and the ex. Enmeshment can go very deep, because of an intense or long relationship this life, past life entanglements, karmic obligations or perfectly matched-up psychological and emotional wounds.

You might discover you’re uncomfortable keeping all your energy for yourself, that your habits of taking care of this person extend to a constant energetic feed heading their direction. You might discover you’ve been receiving a constant energetic feed from your ex, and by cutting the ties you feel depleted, adrift. Either way, it’s better to wallow through the withdrawal period than it is to allow the messy connections to remain in place. Cut the cords.

You should also have some kind of ritual where you release this person from your life, and release each other from any further karmic obligations toward each other. Burn stuff that reminds you of the relationship, chant your intention to be finished, move, something. What you do doesn’t matter, as long as you do it with intent. Use some external event to symbolize the end. Past here, we are no longer partners. In the hostile divorce, you do this ritual by yourself, and she does whatever she does on her own, and you start learning not to care what’s going on with her.

Take some time to put up protection. Surround yourself with white light, get a restraining order, change the locks, put up a send-back spell, whatever feels appropriate for the situation.

Be decisive, get it over with. It is done, it is done, it is done.

A friendly divorce is handled a bit differently. Energetically, you don’t want to cut all the cords in an indiscriminate knife-slash. You wish to leave some of them in place, and cut or diminish others. Visualize the connections between you, and ask which ones are appropriate for the relationship you wish to have now. Leave those, and cut the others. You might leave a strong connection at the heart and decide to sever the rest at least temporarily, allowing the ones that need to be there for your friendship to grow back. You might suck all the sexual energy back into your root and navel, leaving the rest of it alone. You might figure your partner has done enough slashing of connections already in his anger, and not do any more separating, instead feeding energy into a strong, clear, loving line between you.

Trust your intuition to guide you. Remain true to your intent. If you wish to be friends, and you or she are not equipped for casual sexual relationships, than no matter how juicy and delicious the sexual energy is between you, you need to let it go. If the spiritual bond was what drew you together, and on the material plane you drove each other nuts, perhaps you will choose to snip the crown connection for a while, to find out what sorts of connections are possible for you as friends when you’re not blinded by white light.

If your ex is amenable, it can be nice to have a closing ritual together. Plan a symbolic way to officially release the partnership relationship between you. Plan it together, enact it together and then invoke your mutual intention for friendship. If you have a partner you can do this with, you are truly blessed. Treasure that friendship.

For the still-hanging-on divorce, well, the energetic work you’re going to want to do and the energetic work you should do are probably going to be two different things. Your instinctive urge will be to cling with all your might, leaving all connections in place, tugging on them as hard as you can and sending your ex tons of energy as you think about him all the time. Don’t do that.

Basically, you need to clean up whatever the mess was that caused you two to separate or divorce. This means letting go of the icky-sticky codependent connections and doing your own personal work so you’re ready for a healthier relationship. The good news is that whether you and your ex get back together or not, you need to do this work. The bad news is that you will have no guarantees of getting her back after your interior makeover, even if you’re still convinced she’s your soulmate.

Force yourself. Visualize the connections, and be very honest about which ones are healthy and which ones are enmeshed. Have a ritual where you release the karmic obligations between you, where you release the unhealthy habit patterns between you, where you release any connections that are no longer appropriate between you.

Do this right. Be open to the possibility that the two of you really are done. If you find Spirit is telling you to let it all go, let it all go. Sometimes the phoenix cannot rise until things have burned themselves fully down to ash. Whether the phoenix will be a relationship with the same person or a new one, you need to let go.

With any luck, whichever type of divorce you’re going through, cleaning up the energetic and spiritual connections will take you further along the path of healing from the loss. Be gentle with yourself as you get used to life on your own again. Do your own work, and then, when it’s time, believe in a new beginning.

Springtime always follows the winter. Always.

Rock Scrying

Rock Scrying

Examining natural rock formations, of any size, often shows us portraits carved in stone, left to individual or group interpretation.

If you find a rock in a place you feels is special or sacred, drawn to the color, texture, carved grooves, or perhaps what looks like an inscription, examine it for possible meaning for you at that moment. You can close your eyes and get messages, or just read what you see. I found a most interesting rock while in a crop circle. It actually told me that the formation was man made! It’s all subjective, but brings a message we need to hear.

Sometimes rock these formations are found in the natural designs on planet Earth, while other times that are found in space, such as the Face on Mars or the Man on the Moon, formed by craters.

Pre-Inca Civilization: Is the image of Viracocha, carved into the mountain?

Though not a natural rock formation, most interesting are the enigmatic Nazca Lines also linked to the ancient Incas and Peru.

In geology, the term rock formations refers to isolated, scenic, or spectacular surface rock outcrops. These are usually the result of weathering and erosion sculpting the existing rock. Rock formation in general refers to specific sedimentary strata or other rock unit in stratigraphic and petrologic studies.

Ayahuasca: What the Spirits Want

Ayahuasca: What the Spirits Want

  • Eden, selected from AllThingsHealing.com

by Stephan Beyer, Contributor to Shamanism on Allthingshealing.com

Article first appeared in the Journal of Shamanic Practice

Learning the Plants

At the start of every ayahuasca ceremony, my maestro ayahuasquero don Roberto Acho goes around the room putting agua de florida cologne in cross patterns on the forehead, chest, and back of each participant. As he does this, he blows smoke from the powerful tobacco called mapacho into the crown of the head and over the entire body of each participant, and he whistles a special song of protection called an arcana. The song has no particular name — it is just la arcana — and no words; it is intention abstracted from human language; the wordless whistling approximates instead to pura sonida, pure sound, which is the language of the plants.

The goal is to cleanse and protect. The song calls in the protective genios — the thorny palm trees, the fierce animals, the predatory hawks and owls that are used in sorcery and thus best protect against it. The strong sweet smells of cologne and tobacco attract the protective and the healing spirits, seal the body against attack, and avert the pathogenic projectiles — the darts, scorpions, monkey teeth, razor blades — of the envious and resentful. The goal, as don Roberto puts it, is to erect a wall “a thousand feet high and a thousand feet below the earth” to protect himself, his students, and all who are in attendance.

But why such precautions at a ceremony that is, after all, intended for healing? Part of the answer is rooted in what I have called the tragic cosmovision of Upper Amazonian shamanism, where there are no bright lines between healing and sorcery, life and death, good and evil, predation and renewal. In this tragic cosmovision, the dark and the light, killing and curing, predator and prey are at once antagonistic and complementary; the price we pay for life is death, and out of death comes healing and life. The same plant and animal spirits, the same tools, are used both to protect and to destroy; the shaman who knows how to heal is at the same time a sorcerer who knows how to kill.

Once you drink ayahuasca, I was told, once you start to learn the plant teachers with your body, the world becomes a more dangerous place. Sorcerers resentful of your presumption will shoot magical pathogenic darts into your body, or send fierce animals to attack you, or fill your body with scorpions and razor blades — especially while you are still a beginner, before you gain your full powers. Peruvian poet César Calvo Soriano says that drinking ayahuasca makes one into “a crystal exposed to all the spirits, to the evil ones and the true ones that inhabit the air.” Such transparency is perilous.

But again, in the Upper Amazon, there is no bright line between the evil and the true spirits. Some of the most powerful of the plants, such as catahua and pucalupuna, want to deal only with the strongest and most self-controlled of humans, those willing to undertake long periods of solitude and fasting in the wilderness. Other humans they kill.

We do not need to be ourselves embedded in the ambiguous and perilous shamanic culture of the Upper Amazon to recognize the power of these beliefs as metaphor. What the protective ceremony is saying is this: You cannot be a tourist among the spirits.

Shamans in the Upper Amazon have established a relationship of trust and love with the healing and protective spirits of the plants. To win their love, to learn to sing to them in their own language, shamans must first show that they are strong and faithful, worthy of trust. To do this, they must go into the wilderness, away from other people, and follow la dieta, the restricted diet — no salt, no sugar, no sex — and ingest the sacred plant that is the body of the spirit.

Thus, the shaman learns the plant — its uses, its preparation, its songs — by taking the plant inside the body, letting the plant teach its mysteries, giving the self over to the power of the plant. There is a complex reciprocal interpersonal relationship between shaman and other-than-human person — fear, awe, passion, surrender, friendship, and love.

Opening the door to the magical world is not a day trip. Every approach we make to the spirits entails reciprocal obligations, the risks and dangers of the vision fast. What those obligations are is a matter between each of us and the spirits, but at the very least they require gratitude and humility — a willingness to be courageous and vulnerable, to speak honestly from our hearts and listen devoutly with our hearts, to tell the spirits our truest stories.

The Vision Fast

Any encounter with the spirits is like a vision fast. During a vision quest we leave our ordinary life and comforts behind; we stay in solitude in the wilderness for four days and four nights without a tent or food or fire. In this way we express not only our willingness to undergo hardship for the sake of the spirits but also our separation from our normal social relationships. The voluntary privations are part of our newly liminal condition, in which we encounter the dangerous unknown in order to bring back a gift — song, a ceremony, our own unguessed talent — not for ourselves but for our people. You cannot be a tourist on a vision fast.

When I have undertaken vision fasts in the desert, and when I have helped others to do their own vision fasts, we often did a small ritual. On our way to the place each of us had chosen for our fast, we would pause and draw a line ahead of us on the path. When we stepped over that line, we knew that we had crossed over into the land of myth and fairy tale, where we would meet ogres and helpers, where every experience — ravens circling in the sky, a cloud drifting across the silver desert moon — became meaningful, magical, and full of mystery.

The same is true in any encounter with the spirits. The encounter is risky and meaningful. We must be willing to undertake the dangerous opening of our hearts, to tell our stories to the spirits with openhearted honesty, and to listen devoutly with our hearts to what the spirits tell us in return, often through the merest signs, the inchoate movements of our hearts, the silent singing of the plants.

The Talking Circle

Any encounter with the spirits is like a talking circle. In a talking circle, people sit in a circle, and pass around a talking stick. Whoever holds the talking stick gets to speak, and everybody else listens. There are no interruptions, no questions, no challenges. People speak one at a time, in turn, honestly from their hearts, and they listen devoutly with their hearts to each person who speaks. The effect can be miraculous.

In many ways, the talking circle is the paradigmatic healing ceremony. The talking circle makes demands on us — that we have a listening heart, what St. Francis called a transformed and undefended heart. The talking circle demands that we put aside ego, speak our truth with humility, and open ourselves to the unspoken motions of the human heart. You cannot be a tourist in a talking circle.

When people speak honestly and listen devoutly, when they tell their stories — when they sing their songs — to each other, healing occurs, miraculously and spontaneously. Speaking our truths with humility in circle touches upon something that is deeply and fundamentally human. Communities become strong and relationships grow deeper on the basis of the songs and stories we sing and tell each other, and by our willingness to be transparent, and vulnerable and accountable to each other.

In a talking circle, we do not ask or demand that the others in the circle help us or heal us or change us. We speak honestly from our hearts; we express our fears and hopes and regrets; and we listen to the songs and stories of the others, opening up our hearts, becoming, in a mysterious and sacred process, better people. Sitting in circle with others is itself the healing.

Dreams

Any encounter with the spirits is like a dream. We are always strangers in the underworld of dreams. We are talked to in a language we do not speak. We are surprised at every turn by the exotic goods unloaded in the marketplace, the jokes we do not understand, the sudden kindness or treachery of our dream companions, our own capacity for compassion, terror, and rage.

And, perhaps like our own journeys, like our encounters with the spirits, like our vision fasts, dreams have a purpose — to make us richer and more human.To that end, dreams are willing, perhaps like our own journeys, to teach us things we do not always want to learn. You can not be a tourist in your dreams.

Our encounters with the spirits, our vision fasts, our talking circles, our dreams all make demands on us, and the demands are all the same. We can evade these demands, pretend they do not exist, but the obligations are real. We must be transparent, and vulnerable, and accountable. When we encounter the spirits, we must pass them our talking stick, we must speak honestly and listen devoutly for what they are saying to us, in signs and whispers and silent motions of the heart, as if they were the mysterious songs of dreams and visions.

A World Full of Spirits

There is more to be learned from the shamanism of the Upper Amazon. When the soul of a patient has been stolen away, hidden perhaps by an evil sorcerer in a mountain cave, a shaman in the Upper Amazon does not travel to find it. Rather, the shaman sings the song that summons the evil sorcerer before him to demand the return of the stolen soul, or summons the soul itself to travel back home to the body of the patient that lies on the ground before him.

Sometimes, too, the mermaids who live in the lakes and rivers will steal away the body of a fisherman, or a dolphin will seduce a young woman to join him beneath the waters. Here again, the shaman does not travel, but commands, through the power of his songs, that the underwater people give up the still living body of the one they have enchanted and stolen away.

Similarly, when they heal their patients, shamans in the Upper Amazon sing the songs that invite the healing spirits to the place where the ceremony is held, so that the spirits can direct the shaman’s magical healing songs and show him the location of the pathogenic projectiles that have lodged in the body of the suffering patient.

Again, we do not need to be ourselves embedded in the culture of the Upper Amazon to recognize what this teaches us. The spirits are all here, with us, right now. This world is as magical — as filled with ogres and allies, signs and mysteries — as the miraculous world of the vision fast. What ayahuasca does, I was taught, is to render before us the unmistakable presence of the omnipresent spirits. We need not travel to find the healing and protective spirits of plants and animals or to hear and sing their songs. We need only open our hearts to the miraculous present.

If, as the shamans say, the spirits are always present, and are brought into focus and visibility by the power of ayahuasca, then so are their voices and their songs. Don Carlos Perez Shuma says that the songs of the plant spirits are like radio waves: “Once you turn on the radio, you can pick them up.” Or the songs are like prerecorded tapes. “It’s like a tape recorder,” don Carlos says. “You put it there, you turn it on, and already it starts singing…. You start singing along with it.”

My maestro ayahuasquero don Roberto told me that he hears the spirits clearly, speaking in his ear, instructing him. Heal like this, they say, sing this song, make such and such a medicine — just as if they were standing next to him, just as, he said, you and I are talking right now, just like this. And he leaned over and whispered in my ear, “This is the sickness this patient has. Use this medicine,” with startling clarity.

Right now, if I could see it, my room is tessellated with delicate blue tiles, filled with receding pathways to crystal palaces, opening out onto sparkling waters, crowded with spirits and visitors from other galaxies, and resonant with the singing of the plants.

So: Our vision fast is taking place right now, at every moment of our lives. Why must we draw a line in our path? We are right now in the land of myth and dream and fairy tale, in a world full of magic and miracles, if we could only open our eyes and hearts and minds to the wonder that surrounds us. What ayahuasca teaches is that right now, at every moment, we already live in the magic forest.

Suppose you dream that you are walking on a path, trip over a rock, and look up to see a child holding a flower and smiling at you. The dream is salient and powerful; it seems to you to be what some call a Big Dream, mythic and meaningful.

There are many ways you might reflect upon what this dream means and what its significance might be for you. You might go back into the dream to meet the child — or sit quietly and invite the child to come to you in a vision — and ask, Who are you? Why are you smiling? Will you be my teacher? Or you can ask the rock, Who are you? Why did you trip me? What lesson are you teaching me? Then hand the child, the rock, the flower your talking stick, and listen devoutly with your heart to what is said.

Now suppose that exactly the same events occur while you are awake. One day you walk along, trip over a rock, and see the smiling child. Why is that experience any less meaningful — any less salient and mythic — than the same events in a dream? Why do we show our waking experiences the disrespect of dismissing them, when we should respect them as much as we do our dreams? Rather, we should give our waking experiences the same respect we give our dream experiences — hand them our talking stick and take them as our teachers, rich, deep, and full of meaning.

Now: Think of what happened to you today, or yesterday. Put it in the form of a story. If this were the story of a dream, then what is it saying to you? What is the meaning of what happened to you today, or yesterday? Is all the world speaking to you — the rock you tripped over, the child who smiled at you, the rain and moon? Are you listening? This is how we make the world meaningful, and full of mystery.

What the shamans of the Upper Amazon teach us is that we are always surrounded by the spirits and their music. We see them sometimes, at the edges of our vision. Their music is pura sonida, pure sound, the language of the plants, reflected in the whistling and whispering of the shaman, and in the susurration of the shaman’s leaf-bundle rattle. We can learn to listen for their music in the humming of our blood, in the singing of the stars, in the stories we tell each other.

In an encounter with the spirits, in a vision fast, in a dream, sitting in circle with others, we seek meaning and depth in our encounters. But what we have learned is that there is no difference between the vision fast, the dream, and our everyday waking reality. We always encounter the spirits; the world has the depth and meaning of our dreams, and we are on a vision quest always, even in our most routine activities.

In an encounter with the spirits, on a vision fast, in a dream, a rock can be a teacher and an ally on our path. Why not in everyday waking reality? A rock can be our teacher because a rock can engage us in a reciprocal relationship: we can give tobacco to a rock, and a rock can give us a gift in return—a song, a ceremony, a teaching.

What the Spirits Want

The spirits make demands on us, and we cannot ignore those demands. It is no excuse to say that we were just tourists, just visitors with no intention of staying overnight. We cannot visit the spirits and then come back home, because the spirits are already here with us. And when we open our eyes to them, when we listen for even the faintest echoes of the songs they sing for us, we have undertaken an obligation to them.

The spirits love us. There was a mythic time when all beings spoke the same language.The plants want us to be back in that time with them. They love our stories, and they must love our music. Why else would their gift to us so often be a song for us to sing for them? Above all else, they want us to be grateful and humble, humans who walk in right relationship with each other, with the plants and animals, stars and thunder.

Here is the way to recognize a demand the spirits have placed on us: It does not gratify our ego. It is not the purpose of the spirits to make us feel important or superior, to be able to say, I am a shaman, or I am a healer, or I walk with the spirits. The demand may be something we do not want to do, or something we must give up, or a task we think is beyond our powers. What the spirits want, I think, is that we all become better human beings.

Sometimes the spirits hide our keys, put things in our way to trip over, make us emit embarrassing noises at a formal dinner. Why? So we can learn to laugh at ourselves, and stop taking ourselves so damn seriously.

And that, I think, is the meaning of humility — not to take ourselves so damn seriously. To be humble means being content with both our gifts and limitations, not regarding others as competitors but as fellow travelers on the path. It means wasting no time in envy of others who have different gifts. It means never to be ashamed, never to need to inflate our importance in the eyes of others, never to need to buttress our self-esteem.

Humility means taking joy in the exercise of the gifts we have, rather than despairing over those we lack. Indeed, these are the very gifts we discover on the vision fast that is our life. Humility means being fundamentally happy with ourselves.That is the kind of human person the spirits want us to be.

Many people drink ayahuasca, go on vision fasts, seek to encounter the spirits for essentially self-centered reasons — for their own healing, their own transformation, their own empowerment. The spirits meet with people where they are. But I think that encountering the spirits, or going on a vision fast, or dreaming a deep and salient dream is pointless if it does not make us — somehow, and perhaps over a long time — willing to walk through the world carrying a talking stick.

How to Pray

The spirits are persons — other-than-human persons, but still persons — and, like all persons, they are ends in themselves and not means to other ends.They are not there for us to use, but rather for us to meet. They sit with us in a great talking circle. We pass the talking stick back and forth as we tell each other our stories, as we sing each other our songs, as we give our gifts to each other. In a true meeting with another person — a human, a spirit, a rock — we do not seek any end other than genuineness in our meeting.

The spirits are willing to help us in many ways. They give us songs and ceremonies and guidance, and what they want in return is gratitude and humility. Once we have started on this path, they will teach us these things, whether we want them to or not. Why? Because you cannot be a tourist in your own life.

We cannot just go to the spirits and expect them to give us what we want. They may well have other plans for us. In fact, rather than asking — or, as some people do, demanding — that they heal us, or transform us, or make us into someone else, we should just pour out our hearts to them in prayer. We should not go to them with requests or demands or even expectations.

We should tell them what we need; tell them what we fear; tell them what we regret. We should speak to them honestly from our hearts, and then listen devoutly with our hearts to what they tell us.

We must pass the talking stick to the spirits, to our companions, to the trees and plants, and be deeply alert to what they are saying to us. We must do this with everyone, all the time, because the spirits want us to be human beings, in right relationship with all persons, both human and other-than-human. We must allow them to show us how, and not block them by telling them to transform us, or empower us, or heal us, or turn us into a healer. Perhaps we will be a healer in a way completely different from what we expect. Perhaps they will heal us in unexpected ways, or perhaps we will be healers who are ourselves wounded or broken. We must put aside expectations, pray with an open heart, and weep for our visions.

If we must ask for something, let us ask them to be our teachers, ask them to give us a gift, not for ourselves but for our people. And let us recognize that the gifts of the plant spirits grow in plant time, not in human time.

We all live, shamans included, not on the mountain peak of spirit, but in the valley of the soul, amid anger, love, envy, resentment, grief, sorrow, loss, and mess. This is where the spirits want to meet us, because this is where we live. And the obligations we owe the spirits are right here and now, in the genuineness of our meeting with all persons, both other- than-human and human.

The spirits miss us. They want us to return to the time of myth, when all creatures spoke the same language. It is up to us to figure out how to walk upright with the spirits through the miraculous valley of the soul. It is the quality of our meeting that matters, what we are willing to learn, whether we are willing to be taught by what we encounter, whether we will take our chances in the epistemic murk of a transformed world.

Winter Solstice Celebrations Around The World – Inti Raymi

Winter Comments & Graphics

Inti Raymi

 (Inca: Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador)

 

The Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun was a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the sun god Inti. It also marked the winter solstice and a new year in the Andes of the Southern Hemisphere. One ceremony performed by the Inca priests was the tying of the sun. In Machu Picchu there is still a large column of stone called an Intihuatana, meaning “hitching post of the sun” or literally for tying the sun. The ceremony to tie the sun to the stone was to prevent the sun from escaping. The Spanish conquest, never finding Machu Picchu, destroyed all the other intihuatana, extinguishing the sun tying practice. The Catholic Church managed to suppress all Inti festivals and ceremonies by 1572. Since 1944 a theatrical representation of the Inti Raymi has been taking place at Sacsayhuamán (two km. from Cusco) on June 24 of each year, attracting thousands of local visitors and tourists. The Monte Alto culture may have also had a similar tradition.

 

~Magickal Graphics~

Encounter with an Ancient God

Encounter with an Ancient God

 

by Janice Van Cleve

As Samhain night approaches, our Women of the Goddess circle quickens into high gear. We collect old mattresses, blankets and cushions. We buy cases of garbage bags and rolls of duct tape. Don’t forget the red candles! We haul, we clean, we make architectural decisions on the fly. For this is the time of the year when we transform a simple basement into the Underworld.

We are so excited! On Samhain night we gather in silence, black-robed and -caped, in the living room. No lights shine nor music plays. No conversation passes between us. One candle only illuminates the room as we wait in nervous anticipation. At the stroke of the hour, the hostess rises to lock the door. Then she bids us line up at the head of the stairs and descend, one by one, as we are called.

Save for flickering votives in colored glass strategically placed here or there, the narrow passages of the Underworld are pitch black. Garbage bags by day become unearthly living walls at night. As we carefully feel our way through the maze, we encounter the Dark Goddess in several of her forms. She may appear to us as Hecate, Kali, Baba Yaga or Erishkigal. She may appear as the Fates, the Norns or as sorceresses and witches. Each challenges us before she admits us past her portal. At last, we all arrive in the Underworld chamber and conduct our rites, thankful for the cushions and other items that give us some comfort from the cold stone floor.

I am as excited as the rest, but my appreciation of the Samhain rites this year will be undeniably affected by an encounter I had in another underworld last month in faraway Peru. I was in Peru for an archeological expedition to various Inca and pre-Inca sites. One of many we visited was Chavin de Huantar, a mysterious temple complex hidden in a steep valley on the Amazon side of the Andes. The Chavin culture exerted enormous influence throughout the region of Peru about 400 BCE, around the time that Rome was just beginning. In the Americas, the Chavin invented the weaving of cotton and wool, engineering with stone and massive architecture. The complex itself is a combination of huge three-story block buildings and large sunken courtyards. The exterior of the buildings was originally decorated with carved heads and painted red. However, it was the interiors that I found most fascinating.

Inside the solid mass of stone were corridors, passageways and rooms in a series of underworld labyrinths. They were ingeniously constructed so that water was drained out and fresh air circulated in through small vents that tunneled through the rock to the outside wall. Linking the rooms were galleries with modern fanciful names such as Gallery of the Captives, Gallery of the Bats and Gallery of the Madman. Just enough electric lighting is installed to present the outlines of the chambers without taking away from their shadowy quality. It was in one of these underworld corridors that I encountered The Lanzon.

The Lanzon is an imposing idol of carved stone some 15 feet tall. It stands in a narrow chamber barely large enough to hold it. Passages less high extend in all four directions from the midpoint of this chamber so the viewer can see only the head and midsection of the idol. A gate prevents visitors from approaching too close. Light filters in from cleverly contrived roof openings above the statue, bathing it in a surreal glow.

The idol itself is a curiously rendered icon, etched into a smooth, wedge-shaped granite prism whose angle faces the viewer. The figure is of an anthropoid being with snakes for hair and fat smiling lips that display a proud set of finely spaced teeth and two fanged incisors. Long sharp fingernails grace its hands; the left one hanging at its side and the right raised as if in greeting. On its head is a tall crown of feline heads, and from its ears hang huge round pendants. Set edge-on to the visitor, the whole work cannot be appreciated at once, but only the portion in view from the corridor. From that position, one or other of the idol’s baleful eyes looks directly at you.

“It’s just an old stone,” I said to myself. But it wasn’t. It was a real idol. To it had been sacrificed human lives, their blood splattered all over the corridor where I stood. Into it had been fused human energy and power, and these I could still feel from it even after all the intervening centuries. It was strange and eerie to be aware of this undead presence, to acknowledge it and yet not be part of it. The Lanzon was the god of a people long past, not my god, yet worthy and real for the human potency with which they imbued it. It disquieted me, yet I felt a respect for it that was different from my own traditions, but for all that no less valid.

So as I approach this Samhain and prepare to enter the Underworld we will create, I am a bit more aware that there are deities and beings in the darkness beyond my ken. They are different. I don’t understand them. I don’t even know them. Yet they do exist, and as the veil between the worlds draws thin this night, I realize my view must be broader and open to the unexpected. No matter how many times I celebrate these rituals and how many roles I take, they still present a mystery. And now, because of my encounter with The Lanzon in its own underworld, I can appreciate the mystery of my own that much more.

Deity of the Day for Sept. 16th – VIRACOCHA

VIRACOCHA

(Inca)

Literally, Sea-Foam. The Creator. The teacher of the world. After the Great Flood, which covered even the highest mountains and destroyed all life, Virococha molded new people out of clay at Tia Huanaco. On each figure of clay he painted the many features, clothes and hairstyles of the many nations, and gave to them their languages, their songs and the seeds they were to plant. Bringing them to life, Viracocha ordered them to travel underground and emerge at different places on the earth. Then Viracocha made the sun and the moon and the stars, and assigned them to their places in the sky. Raising up smaller Viracocha, the God ordered them to go about the world and call forth the people, and see to it that they mulitplied and followed the commandments they had been given. Some of the little viracocha went south, some went southeast, while the God’s two sons traveled northeast and northwest. Viracocha himself traveled straight north. Some tribes had rebelled, and these Viracocha punished by turning the people into stone. At Pucara, forty leagues north of Cuzco, Viracocha called down fire from the sky upon those who had disobeyed his commandments. Arriving at last at Cuzco and the seacoast, Viracocha gathered together his two sons and all the little viracocah, and they walked across the water until they disappeared.

the daily humorscopes for wednesday, august 10th

the daily humorscope 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

 
Aries (March 21 – April 19)
Good day to buy lava lamps at garage sales. Once in a life-time opportunity. Also, if you happen to spot a white 100% polyester leisure suit with bell-bottom pants and a really large lapel, buy it on the spot. I know *I* would love to have one.
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
Excellent day for a bubble bath. If you don’t have a little yellow rubber duckie, you’ll need to get that first, of course.
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
Today you shall laugh your bitter laugh. You’ll also sneeze your bitter sneeze.
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
You are about to have an idea of almost mind-boggling brilliance. Try to remain calm.
Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Today you will discover that you are capable of “channelling”, when you start spouting ancient sumerian curses at a short little dweeb who cuts you off in traffic. You will start taking notes in cuneiform.
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
Something will start to bother you, and you will eventually have to ask someone to explain it. The thing is, some birds have very acute hearing – so WHERE ARE THEIR EARS??
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
You will soon need to look older than you actually are. Bushy eyebrows generally do the trick. You’ll find that a little rubber cement and a pair of sleepy hamsters are just what you need.
Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
Today you will receive an odd postcard from a long lost relative in Peru. He will invite you to come explore an ancient Incan ruin which he has discovered. Try not to be too impulsive — a better offer will soon arrive from a an old high school friend who is hiding out in a Burmese monastery.
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
You will hear screams coming from a Hungarian restaurant, while you are walking by. Don’t worry, though. That’s normal.
Capricorn (December 22 – January 20)
Your neighbor thinks his dog is so smart, it’s starting to bug you. The thing to do is cover a book with a book cover that says “Quantum Physics for Dogs”, and train your dog to lay next to it, along a pad of paper covered with scribbled equations and a chewed-on pencil…
Aquarius (January 21 – February 18)
Good time to invest in collectible things you never had any use for. Susan B. Anthony dollars may make a good start. (Unlike your usual investments, the value of those can only plummet so far…)
Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
Your path divides soon. On the one hand lies potato salad, followed by severe pain, thrashing about, seizures, and a horrible death. On the other hand lies Cole slaw. It’s a pity that you don’t like Cole slaw.