The Alchemy of Shadow Work and What Spring and Autumn Can Teach Us About This Important Work

Bet that title has you scratching your head, wondering what can Spring and Autumn teach us about shadow work. Maybe you have scoffed at the regurgitated old analogies of what shadow work is about. Maybe you’re just beginning your learning. Whatever your thoughts, questions and such, I hope you have some curiosity as to what Nature through any of its seasons can teach us about the important work of Shadow Alchemy.

I’ve been a student of Nature, life, us humans since I was a child. I’ve been an initiated person of spiritual wisdom, healing and such also since I was a child. I watch, listen, ask questions, always curious and understanding that there is more and more to learn and understand.

I’ve also come to understand that we humans are not allowing ourselves to evolve, change, heal or grow. We are hindering ourselves by not allowing our stories, myths, analogies, metaphors and other things to change or grow. We’ve also turned important truths upside down and firmly believe our lies.

Which brings us to shadow work and the alchemical process that it is !

We’ve turned shadow into a scapegoat for all the messed up things we are capable of. We believe that shadow only contains the messed up things. We keep being fooled into believing that we don’t need a different approach to our relationship with shadow work.

Yet we can find that nature has a lesson about the truth of shadows and really it’s lessons!

I willingly admit that what I’m sharing isn’t the end all and be all of answers. For even I am a student and I understand I can only know but a portion of any given thing. I also know that each person has their own unique journey of learning to accomplish. Yet my life’s journey thus far because of how I’m always wanting to reach understanding of things, has taught me some things.

Nature, life, our world, each human, animal, element  and all the cycles, seasons, processes  and such are always patiently teaching us important truths. Really life, nature, our world is one big classroom! What I mean by that is, our world, ourselves and life are the micro versions of truths about the much larger or macro of The All That Is and it’s truths!

So what does Nature and it’s many cycles have to teach us    about shadows and our own shadow work?

We have to start with a couple basic things about shadow. Yes, I realize you may know these basic things about how shadow needs light and usually a solid object or person, such as you! But what do these basic things about shadow have to teach us about our shadow work.

Well with this first basic fact about formation of shadow needing light and then a solid something in order for shadow to be able to happen, we then see if this correlates to how our minds and our senses work.

We take a look at our minds and how the information of various things are all first processed in our minds. Then we speak, act and such from those thoughts and we formulate ideas, judgments and beliefs about the outer world we live in. Our minds are an interesting mixture of solid and yet subtle things and our senses we use to carry out different tasks can be seen as as the light and strangely as the shadow also.

So the true point of shadow for us happens between a thought or feeling moving towards an action and or reaction with the outside world!

Shadow lies between each thought, belief, self talk, action and reactions and so much more. Shadow lies in us making our minds conscious and aware of what it’s thinking and believing. Even when we aren’t actively being aware of how we are reacting and interacting with life,  shadow is still there between the mind and outside world.

Another intersting basic fact about shadows is that they change according to the direction of light upon a thing or person!

This basic fact about nature’s ways with shadows can be an amazing teacher in showing us that change is a very natural thing within life and ourselves. Which is a really big truth that we humans struggle to accept especially about our minds and lives.

Yet nature is showing us that change is a very real and natural thing that goes on from moment to moment, day by day, season to season, year by year and so on!

Which brings us to what Spring and Autumn can teach us about shadow work!

When we look at the placement of these two seasons within the seasonal cycles, we see Spring and Autumn at mid way points towards days getting longer or shorter, and same for the night time.

Spring time’s shadow play is one where the shadows look to be getting shorter. For the sunlight during the day is at a point more directly over our home, trees and such. So it’s almost as if shadow is receding.

Another thing about Spring is we start getting excited and making plans for outdoors type of things we want or need to do. So we are engaging the outside world more and more during Spring moving towards Summertime.

This time of year can encourage us to take a good look at how we are engaging and connecting with the outside world, including our interactions and beliefs and such with ourselves and one another.

Another lesson Spring has for our shadow work is all about planting and cultivating growth of things! Spring  can be a big help in guiding us towards the things we desire and long to heal and change. Because we have positive, negative and things in between those two points. Shadow and darkness are actually neutral ground so to speak.

So all facets of beliefs and such reside there! Shadow is very much capable of holding seemingly opposing things! So when we bring this understanding into our shadow work we then can have fuller and easier access to the whole of ourselves!

So during the Spring and going into Summer we can do the work of planting and cultivating the change and healing we long to have happen. And if we understand that shadow and darkness of our minds contain all that we need or can guide us to the things we still need for growth and healing, Spring will help us in big ways to heal and change our interactions with the outside world.

Another point I want to make about shadow is it can be a gentler and safer terrain to travel versus the darkness, because we do have light along the way to help guide us better, versus what can happen with darkness! 

Which brings us interestingly to what can Autumn teach us about shadow work! I’m bringing up Autumn along with Spring in this writing because while the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing life awakening, the Southern Hemisphere is experiencing life heading towards certain levels of restfulness, of becoming dormant for a time!

With Autumn the shadows lengthen because the sunlight is at more of an angle. So we have more to shadows during the Autumn. Also in Autumn we have the nights start to get longer and we ourselves with the cooling down of the temperatures, start to stay indoors more. Autumn is the season that gets us ready for the cold and freeze of Winter.

So as we are seeing with Autumn we have a season that we have of preparation for the freezing time of Winter. This means getting the harvesting done, getting seeds planted for early spring, making sure our windows and such don’t leak and getting our Winter clothing out and many other sorts of preparations are done during the Autumn in time for the Winter freeze. Autumn then is a time of pulling inward and making preparations for the dark time we call Winter.

So Autumn as a teacher and guide helps point towards us having opportunities to do the work of understanding the inner world of our minds! 

Shadow work during the Autumn is all about navigating the inner terrain of our minds and getting to the things that limit us, shackle us, or may be toxic and poisonous that need healing. It can also though help us train up the positive aspects so that we can accelerate our growth and healing.

Another reason I am writing about both Spring and Autumn is because shadow work needs to happen in both directions of outer and inner worlds. Especially if we are doing all we can to grow and heal. We need to pay attention to how we are reacting and interacting with the outside world. While also on a regular basis doing the work of checking into what’s going on within the innner world of our minds!

For us to truly become whole and healed we must do conscious working with both the inner world of mind and the outer world of living! Hence why both Spring and Autumn are much needed teachers and guides. Because together they help us have a more holistic approach to ourselves, minds and lives!

Blessings to you all this Spring! Let it be a time of growth and healing in your life that it can be! And let Autumn guide you as you work with your inner world of mind and gain fuller access to your power!

 

 

Working with the Land

This morning I  sat my desk and looked out side to see it snowing on the second day of spring.  As the snow falls I see at least 6″ of snow all over the ground from a blizzard that occurred last week.  This is how it is every year where I live.  Lots and lots of snow that never seems to go away.

Yet when you walk into a retail store you will see seeds for sale and signs of spring every where.  people longing for the time where the days are warm and gentle and that they can be outside with out harsh heat and those pesky bugs (we have a lot of bugs in my area).  Spring time in Maine can be a wonderful time of year when it finally gets here.

Its hard to be thinking about planting your gardens when its still covered in snow and the temps outside can still reach below freezing.  There were times when during this past year I thought about getting started on my prep work outside, but once that thought hit me another draft of snow appeared to come our way.

It may be weeks before we actually notice spring here in Maine.  As a pagan and as a witch I work with the spirits of the land and the current of the land energy.  Hug a tree to talk to the spirit now and they are often annoyed that they got woken up.  They are not yet fully awake and the land is still very much asleep.  Some trees like Birch and Maple have started to have small leafbuds.  Looking outside at the trees in the back and I largely have an image of this:

Maine Winter 2018
Photo courtesy Jeannine Kari Martell-Morris

The grips of winter largely still hold over this land.  Yet we see the squirrels and chipmunks darting to and fro finding food and the birds looking for any seeds or food they can find out in the snow.  Life still moves in Maine spring, just moves quite slowly.    Once the spring rains get here then I can say that the season has begun and that Spring has come to Maine.

This is why for myself I really dont celebrate and honor either Imbolc or Ostara.  To me neither one really represent spring.  Its not spring here.  To me honoring the birth of the sun at Imbolc makes no sense, its still very dark here during that time.  Then the Spring Equinox often has snow storms and ice going on, which to me is not very spring.  Its not really the season of spring, at least in feel or look.  Its still in the grips of old man winter.

The land does not have flowers blooming and baby animals all around.  Its still quiet, cold and mostly slumbering.  The lakes will start to crack and the ice will start to melt, and some flowers will start to peek through the snow in a few weeks.  When that happens I will gladly honor and welcome to start of spring, but for now its very much winter still here.

It took me a while to get comfortable with not having those two sabbats in my practice, but then I realized if I was really going to honor and work with the spirits of the land I should honor the seasons when they actually come to the region.  When they come to Maine, and Winter by far is our longest season.   I’ll acknowledge the light and increase in day when we see that happen and I’ll welcome spring when I see the first flowers popping up in gardens.  Till then I’ll simply continue to ask Old Man winter to be gentle with me and hope the ice and snow spirits accept my prayers of protection and my offerings when I give them.

I look forward to connecting to the spirit of the land when they wake, but for now I will let the land sleep.  I have some plants I can work and grow in my office to try and feel as if Spring is here, but until the land wakes and the mud is here its still a land of snow with ice and cold and fires are needed to keep warm.

Be mindful of your land and the climate.  Don’t force yourself to work in rituals or holidays that dont fit what you see and experience as your land.  The land spirits will guide you and direct you and may even help you find new ways to look at everything you have been doing.

Spiritual Cleansing: Why, How, and How Often?

Contributing Content Creator, Nicole of Living Roots Creations
In her own words, a bit about Nicole’s Practice.
Living Roots embodies my life’s work: to reconnect people to themselves, the natural world, and their ancestry. You have all the power to take hold of your life and to achieve your dreams within you. Let me help you unlock it!
My products are powerful, easy-to-use, and effective. I carefully combine herbs and oils in sacred space to address your conflicts and obstacles. Everything in this universe exists as energy, and my creations align you to hear and accept your true inner self and the love of your spirits and ancestors. You are not in this world alone. You are the legacy of generation upon generation that have given their everything to get you here. They are still reaching out to help you. Don’t waste time trapped by the same negative patterns and struggles. Get a touch of magic in your life, and change your world today.

Crystal Grid Basics

Crystal grids are all the rage in the metaphysical and natural sciences world. Scientists are beginning to explore these simple crystal patterns as a means of healing and exploring the Earth’s natural energy grids. Crystal grids are part applied science and part intuition. They work with the Law of Attraction and the natural ley lines in the Earth.

Ley lines are bands of geomagnetic energy that stretch across the globe usually beginning and ending in a mountain or hill source. Where you find ley lines you will usually also find a location of water. The Earth is naturally embraced within a magnetic field. This magnetic field can be used as a guideline for planting strong crops, finding healthy water,

Archeoastronomy, and geosciences. The ancient civilizations of the Mayans, Incans, Aborigines, Celts, Sumerian, Babylonian, and Chinese, knew of these ancient lines of energy and used them to construct sacred spaces, to conduct rites of worship, for healing, and energy work.

The Law of Attraction states simply that your thoughts translate as energy. That energy is released through intentions. Speaking or sending positive thoughts yields positive results. Speaking or sending negative thoughts yields positive results. This is a mixture of perception and belief. If you believe your life is negative it is. By keeping your thoughts positive you emit positive energy, as your thoughts and perceptions are nothing more than energy. The energy is reflected in the vibration of the energy field around your body. In terms of science, the Laws of Thermodynamics may be applied, which states simply that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but it may change form and it may be transferred from one thing to another. In this respect the energy you create with the Law of Attraction (using thoughts and perception as forms of energy) may be transferred to the crystals using the First Law of Thermodynamics. When you charge your stones this is what you are using.

By using natural laws of energy and using sacred geometry, you can create a simple, beautiful, and powerful crystal grid to attract abundance, healing, love, and tranquility into your life.

Sacred geometry applies within the shapes used for constructing pieces of spiritual art, buildings, shrines, temples, churches, and so forth. This is a very ancient form of mystical science which gives the vibration of a form a number, the number of which is applied to a specific spiritual attribute. Ideally the form should connect and be made of equal parts of the same number. Using crystals with a specific vibration is also important as this determines the frequency that your grid will emit. With the aforementioned science in mind, use this as a determining factor for your crystals:

* All things are energy in one form or another. The crystal you are holding is created from the same exact energy that also created you. All energy is derived from a central source, however or whatever you determine that source to be. Therefore you and the crystal already have an energetic connection.

* The same energy that connected you and the rock is also the same energy that connected other people, things, and creatures in the world. You are already a part of their lives by collective consciousness, and also a part of the stone. Creating and sending energy through an extensive length is space is positive through this collective connection.

* Crystals have their own energy. The numerical values of their name is not their frequency. Their vibrational frequency (harmonics) is measured by the density of the crystal which is reflected within the color, structure, and weight of the stone. Note the weight difference and intensity of color in a piece of tumbled clear quartz, rose quartz, fancy jasper, and hematite. Structural differences may add to the energetic qualities of the crystal and function, but doesn’t really affect the actual harmonics of the crystal that much.

You can use pre-set crystal grid kits or you can create them yourself. You may also use as a center stone a crystal generator, points, balls, pyramids, or merkaba. These are all used to collect, cleanse, and magnify the energy used with the grid. Use what you are drawn to, what you like, and what connects with your purpose. Excellent general use stones include clear quartz, selenite, jaspers, amethyst, aegerine, agates, moonstone, and river stone.

Book Review – The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and Spells by Shawn Robbins and Charity Bedell

 

 

Available at Amazon.com

The Good Witch’s Guide is truly what it sets out to be: an excellent reference guide for skilled practitioners, novices or those just beginning to take interest in the magickal arts. The book is well-organized, insightful and provides explanatory summaries within each section that provides clarification of purpose.

The Good Witch’s Guide is broken into three parts, the first of which is Ye Olde Witch’s Wisdom, Rituals and Formula’s. This part of the book gives a brief history of the folklore, aromatherapy, and use of crystals and gemstones. I like that this part of the book explained the “doctrine of signature” which is thematic in traditional folklore. I found the essential oil list comprehensive; the chapter provides a list of common ailments, points of improvement and essential oils that are recommended to provide relief. The essential oil section is also divided into healing and magickal and provides several recipes for each. Required items that many of these recipes call for are easy to locate.

The chapter, Crystal Power, provides information on charms, elixirs, and explains chakra balancing in a concise manner. The chapter also provides a list of crystals and gemstones and their applications as well as recipes for healing and magickal applications. The list provides a great number of commonly utilized crystals and gems.

The second part of the book, Spirit Spells and Spirituality, outlines the importance of well-being and visualization. I absolutely love the spells for well-being and self-love. The focus segues into spells that can be utilized to heal others such as the Healing Poppet Spell. The section then transitions to cleansing, protection and magical spells. Chapter 5 covers candles, their colors and uses.

Chapter 6 has spells for health and also some for removing fears and phobias. The section is rounded out with a section that defines types of spirituality and philosophies. I like that it gives a brief summary of those listed without a bias toward one or another. “A Good Witch’s Guide” encourages and promotes self healing in daily life and encouraging use of healing of others and then extend it outwards to include wildlife and the environment. It contains a gentle reminder to be kind, be mindful and act with love.

The third part of the book, DIY Brews and Potions, continues to remind the reader to look in your kitchen and your yard for sources for herbs and plants. As well as defining animism, this section contains a terminology of infusions, decoctions and tinctures. A list of common herbs and uses for them includes information on possible prescription drug interactions, information that is vital to all practitioners. As a kitchen witch, I really appreciated Chapter 8, Kitchen Witchware: Cooking up Magick. There are several recipes that are definitely going to be incorporated into my repertoire!

The A to Z of Health Remedies is a nice addition to the appendix. I enjoyed seeing remedies from other practitioners. The Good Witch’s Guide also provides a great resource list for supplies and also a recommended reading and reference material list.

I enjoyed The Good Witch’s Guide. It is a good read. The book provides a summary explanation, directions for self use, healing, magick and then encourages focus outward to use the knowledge to benefit others and the environment around us. Throughout the book there is significant emphasis on cleansing the items you work with of residual energy as well as a focus on energy, mood and intent. These things are very important to keep in mind whether you are creating an essential oil for a ritual bath or baking a loaf of bread for a family dinner.

I appreciated the liked that the format of the book was user-friendly. Each of the three sections is broken down into healing and magickal applications and each of these sections lists herbs, spices, plants, supplies uses in either application. I also liked that the authors encourage the practice of “look in your spice cabinet” and also to look for plants, herbs in your environment.

I recommend The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern-Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and Spells to anyone who is interested in learning or continuing to seek knowledge with healing lore or has an interest in the arts. Rating: 5 stars

 

Lenore Sagaskie is a writer and artist living in self-imposed exile in Michigan.

You can follow Lenore on Facebook and on Twitter @Lenorewrites

Pop Culture Paganism: Part 1 Loona’s Story

There seems to be a theme of people who have issues with the idea and the concepts of Pop Culture Paganism.  Many of these people have issues claiming that it makes pagans look bad, is full of fakes, and playgans.  Often those who cry out against pop culture paganism claim that those who would use Pop culture symbols in their worship and practice are lazy, have a lack of knowledge of the ancient traditions, and they often claim that there is an inability to tell the difference between fiction and reality.

For people like me this is often highly insulting.  Many of us are educated in our paths and practices.  We simply like to use the modern images from pop culture to connect to the Gods and spirits of our path.  These modern images are powerful tools for reaching the various spiritual forces out there.  These modern images can be useful in relating to beings that many people may never have heard of without the use of pop culture.

I do not identify as a Pop culture pagan.  However I have used popular culture in my path and my practice.  I see the dangers and I see the benefits of working with Pop Culture images.  This is the first in a series of posts talking about the subject.  I figured before I got into the meat of the issues around pop culture paganism it would be a good idea to start with my own experience with the use of Pop culture symbolism.

I started my path with Pop culture Paganism. It was a combination of the Disney Hercules series and Sailor Moon combined with reading the Greek and Roman Myths and books on Wicca. Now keep in mind that I was about 9-10 when this started but I still feel that this is an important thing to share.

As a child and teen these images resonated with me and helped me relate to an connect to the various Gods and spirits in the world. These images to me were gateways to the power within the Gods. Before starting what i thought was Wicca I often spoke to the Muses of Greek Myth. Originally I thought of them as angels to God, but that changed when I read the myths and realized that people believed them to be Gods originally. (I saw the movie Hercules first, then I saw the cartoon Hercules series and then the live action Xena and Hercules series). Still those images provided me a tool to connect to the power of the Gods.

I didn;’t quite understand Polytheism at the time. So for me they were “Gods” but under the main God who was the father of Jesus. You could say I was exploring my understandings within the religious framework I had been exposed to. Still to talk to an communicate with those Gods I was drawing on the image found within the Disney Movie Hercules and the Hercules Cartoon series I watched every Saturday Morning. When I spoke to Zeus or Hera or even Hades I used the images of those Gods from the source I most recognized.

When I started to explore Wicca and Paganism I understood they were not servants of one Larger God but were Gods in their own right. So I dropped the frame of Christianity and continued to speak to those Gods and work with them. I still used the images from Disney. I was now 14 and questioning religion and spirituality.

At the same time I was starting to watch the anime Sailor Moon. As the story progressed and I looked at the Sailor Senshi I saw the properties of the Roman Gods within the Senshi and I was able to find a way to focus and connect with a Moon Goddess. I knew that the image wasn’t the Goddess but it was a tool to help me focus and connect.

I used the images of Queen Serenity from Sailor Moon to connect to the moon Goddess Selene. I knew that the image I was using to connect to Selene wasn’t actually Selene, but it helped me connect to and focus on that divine presence. I had no other image or idea to connect with, so the image of Queen Serenity helped me relate to her.

17 years later and I still can find images in pop culture useful in connecting to Gods and spirits.Today when I call on Thor I occasionally use the image from the Marvel movies to connect to that energy. Again I know it is not Thor but it helps me focus and reach the actual Thor. The same goes for Loki and Odin. I use my knowledge of the lore to connect to the Gods I am trying to connect to. The image I use just happens to come from Modern Popular culture. I still use Norse Rituals to honor those Gods. I simply have a modern image of the Gods I use to connect with.

Today when working with the Moon Goddess Diana I still occasionally use the image of Queen Serenity. Most often I use that as the gateway to get to the other images I have of a Moon Goddess. These images are tools to help connect to the divine forces and nothing more or less.  They are just like the tools used in various spells or rituals.  They are props to help get into the right mind frame and connect with the energy you are working with.

In essence there is nothing wrong with using the images from popular culture in your work. If they help you connect with spirit and the universe than they are a tool for you. The danger comes when you start to claim that these pop culture figures and images are the same as the ancient Gods. Anyone who truly respects Gods as individuals would never say that. They would however more than likely admit that the images can be powerful tool to connect to the Gods they represent.

Michigan Pagan Fest brings the power June 22-25 2017

Diane Lonsway raises up the primal forces for Michigan Pagan Fest 2017 with her theme of “Root, Soil, and Stone” this year. The primal and elemental “materia magicka” of presenters and performers from far and wide that promise to engage, influence, and educate attendees. The woman who describes herself in words such as “laid back, humble, smart, can be funny, people-pleaser” brought home the goods with this year’s line-up.

Michigan Pagan Fest Official Banner – Event Page

Headliners include Witchdoctor Utu, Dragon Ritual Drummers, Amber K , and Azrael Arynn K. Local Headliners include teachers Lady Bona Dea  Max Maya, and Baba Ted Juaw. This festival just continues to draw so much talent that it is almost inconceivable that it has not expanded to a week. Her programming is always rock solid.

Do you wish to see for yourself? Then take a gaze upon her schedule and be amazed.

 

(Full disclosure, I will be teaching this year at this event. Honestly, I get around.)

Plenty of opportunities for self-reflection abound, as this is also a campground based festival. This means that there is always time to play, read, relax, and enjoy the social activities that the Michigan Pagan Communities offer. Secure and safe, the family feeling and good vibes permeate the entire area.

Image: Pixabay

Showers and indoor bathrooms make this a fun time, even for the novice at festival camping. Local hotels are giving a special rate for Pagan “festies”, and a staff of volunteers are there to answer questions. Diane is never far away, either, so you can also thank her for a great event in person.

Do not forget, that shopping and “ooh, shiney” is part of the experience. Vendors with wares that delight, dazzle, and inspire amusement populate the shopper’s area. The famous raffle bar rides again, as does the charity/food drive for Pagans In Need. Organizations that make a difference in the community are also slated to be in attendance. Who knows, you may find a calling to volunteer.

Food is available on site. However, you can definitely bring your own to heighten your experience….such as roasting marshmallows and having ring chants. I like Ghirardelli chocolates on mine. Just saying.

Image: Public Domain

The children will have fun at the workshops created just for them. Last year, they even had a children’s ritual. My own daughter, being the early teen Empress she is, was more fascinated with fawning over the soaps at Twisted Willow Soap Company and chasing after a passing puppy, of course.

(This was all part of a failed plot to enamor me toward dog adoption. Umm, no, allerergen level 100 here)

New this year, Blue Crow Talent joins the bill. This is the only local Pagan friendly circus in Metro Detroit. They have major chops, were founded in Detroit’s circuit, and are set to play in Las Vegas, baby! I LOVE THESE FOLKS.

(I love Las Vegas, too. But I can never tell you about it. Not even my husband can get my epic adventure there as a traveling saleswoman on vacation. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.)

 

Speaking of fiery experiences, don’t miss the Peruvian Fire Ceremony with James “TwoSnakes” Stovall.

All event goers are expected to observe proper ritual fire protocol. This means being respectful to the Fire Keepers, and to what it represents. Do NOT throw trash into the fire. I cannot stress this enough here. Use your best Pagan Manners.

In this spirit, it would also be a good time to suggest you bring your feast bundles if you have them. These are kits that you make yourself. They include a large cloth napkin, washable utensils, and bowl. This is easier on the environment than just tote, toss, and trash.

Michigan Pagan Fest is located at the Wayne County Fairgrounds. If you get lost, call (734) 697-7002.  The address is 10871 Quirk Road, Belleville, Michigan  48111.

Hope to see you there. Here is a chant for you to enjoy around those marshmallows. Remember: I love chocolate.

 

 

A Free Form Sort of Way

I started teaching and facilitating workshops in 2013. Of course I didn’t know where to begin in the big ocean of all that my life had taught me and continues to teach me. All I knew, was I need to share what I’ve learned. It took me a few teaching experiences to know really where I needed t0 start. For I came to understand that there were some needed tools that could help with the life changing things I have to share. It was also in some ways that I knew that these tools were the things that really helped with my healing and transformations that have been going on for the last 11 years. I had at first called my class that had these tools Unscript It! and Unscript Yourself!. Yes I did have a rough time knowing how to name my classes. Then when the decision to do my tools class I settled on A Free Form Sort of Way! In fact I will be teaching this class at this year’s ConVocation. But now I know you are curious as to what this is all about.

My first painting I did using ArtRage app January 2017

A Sunlit Evening by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

It is all about active, expressive meditation styles that are free-form in nature. These meditation styles teach us to make use of our voice and bodies in a free-form sort of way. Another way of seeing free form use of voice and bodies is things like ecstatic dancing and singing or sacred dance and singing.  I also share how we can use creative arts in free-form sort of ways, so that we can freely express ourselves. It may seem odd to hear that free-form dance or singing and art can do so much to help us. For I know that most of what we have available, while very helpful and such, they require that we do things a certain way. In fact much of our lives are set up to follow certain ways to seeing things, doing things and so much more. I know I myself was struggling still to find my path and find myself within all the should do this and that this way and believe this and that. I had been doing meditation, chanting, prayer and ritual and so much more. Yet I was still somehow stuck in certain patterns and was feeling guilty when I couldn’t do ritual in the suggested ways. Often I found myself doing spontaneous things that really helped shift things for me and empower me. Yet I felt guilty for these spontaneous things I was doing during ritual and such.

That all started to change though when somehow Gabrielle Roth’s work showed up in my life!

Gabrielle’s books Maps To Ecstasy & Sweat Your Prayers, became a part of my life about 11 years ago.

A Book By Gabrielle Roth

 

Another great book by Gabrielle Roth

With these books I started another part of my healing journey. There has been other peoples work that has added to her work and my understanding of free-form expression of our voices and bodies. Two such people are Bradford Keeney PhD his book: The Bushman Way of Tracking God and a local person in the Detroit Metro area Michael Patrick through his: Dance Meditation Technique.

A book by Bradford Keeney

These three people in different ways guide us in the benefits of free form body movement and expression of our voice. In different ways they show us how this path to meditation can help us get to know ourselves and how our mind and bodies respond to things in our lives. In different ways they show us how movement and use of voice help us to heal the disconnect we have between body, mind, feeling and emotions. They also show us how we can use these styles to make our connection with the divine in a more authentic way. These meditations styles also help us to in a conscious and active way to navigate our tougher challenges that are a part of our healing journeys. And as we are getting to know how our bodies and mind interact and react to things around us, we find means to move through stressful and tough things, because we are aware of things and we also are aware of how we can diffuse things. Why this works is because we are learning to face things and to express those things and this is a part of what can help us heal. For we are listening and paying attention to ourselves and we are giving voice, expression to things. Often just that act of acknowledging something , we start a process of diffusing things and calming things down.

The other thing that started to happen with my practice of free form expression of voice and body, was my spiritual practice deepened. I in more consistent ways experienced  connection with the whole of life and it’s energies. I found myself wanting to commune with the wind, trees and animals, to where I’d dance with the trees and sing with the birds and insects. I often find myself being a bit more playful and filled with joy from the simplest of happenings and things. There is a certain freedom I gained in expressing myself through body and voice. I could feel the energies building easier and better for me when I do ritual or pray and chant freely and well, as raw as possible. Now mind you I still have the times I follow prescribed procedures when doing ritual, meditating and such. Yet so much for me has come from adding free form expression of my voice and body, as a part of regular practice also.

Another thing I’ve experienced with my free form meditation practice is that I can separate and know what emotions, energies and such belong to me and set myself free of others emotions and such. This is an important thing if you are an empath, energy worker, counselor or healer. It is also a helpful thing if you are Autistic. But even if you don’t identify with any of those things, it is good to be able to know what is your emotions and energies, what belongs to you versus what may belong to another person. Reason is we all take information in of varying types and in a variety of ways. We can get lost in all that information that we take in and it can leave us wondering why we are feeling a certain way, when it feels like we shouldn’t have a reason to feel say angry or depressed. So being able to move other peoples energies and emotions out of our system can be a big help in taking some of the edge off of being overwhelmed or buried under so much. Chances are if we feel this way we’ve been taking on to much of other people’s things. So it’s good to have means to let that excess energies and emotions out in a safe way.

This is just some of how free form expression of our bodies and voices can help us.

Now I want to share a few routines that can help:

First pick a favorite album or play list; Then ask yourself and your body ” How am I feeling? How is my body feeling?”;With the music playing start moving your body in how ever way it is feeling!

examples; can be you are feeling sluggish. So you droop down, move slow. Another is you are stressed filled with tension, go ahead and tighten as much of your body as possible. You are feeling happy, do a happy dance then”

The point is move your body according to how it is feeling! As the music plays work through the way your are feeling. Let yourself feel and express what you and your body are feeling as much as you feel comfortable with.

” It is alright if you can only do this for say 5 minutes or a couple of songs” even that short bit of time can do wonders in diffusing the tough stuff and giving you more energy with the upbeat stuff! As you do this practice at least once or twice a week you will get better at helping your body and mind navigate how you are feeling both emotionally and physically.

You can also use this method to do energy work and to set intentions and work with affirmations! You also can spend time with The Divine and express your love and gratitude!

So allow yourself to work with and express your body and emotions through free form movement and see how it can help you.

Next is your voice!

This is a bit trickier if you don’t have any just instrumental type music you like. Yet your usual music can be alright for this also.

As for body movement, you now pick a playlist or album that you have found yourself humming or singing along with. Now you ask” What needs to be expressed?” and you express it through singing, humming or even just making sounds. We don’t always need words! The objective is to put as much feeling as you can into your voice as possible. It’s alright if words fail you! Just use your voice!

Once again it is alright if you can only do this for 5 minutes or a couple songs! All that matters is you consciously express what you are feeling through the music and your voice!

Again this can be used for a multitude of reasons!

Then comes the part that you combine your voice and body movement! And yes things can really take off when you combine the two! This is what you are working toward!

This is just a snap shot into how you can use free form expressions of your body and voice. Don’t be afraid to explore and discover these things for yourself!

I had mentioned free form expression through creative art styles in the earlier part of this article.

So let me share this particular style of free form expression with you.

I love art and I always hoped I could be an artist, even if it was just for myself. Yet sadly I didn’t have acceptable natural talent or ability when it came to art classes and such. I couldn’t draw like my sister could. Yet I did love to create cards for holidays and birthdays. Yet it never was something I thought I could do. So I never pursued anything with art.

Then I became a mother and one of my tough choices I made was to home school our child. It took me a few years to put together something that worked for myself and our child and fulfilled the state requirements also. It was during those early years that the Waldorf Education style arrived in my life. Fortunately I was able to find home school resources for this path of education. It helped us out a lot. It was also where I found that art was one of their core aspects. For the children are encouraged to do their own lesson books, in which they were encouraged to illustrate their lessons and write about their lessons in their own words. Working with our child through this style, opened some doorways for me to see what artistic things I could do.

A Zentangle

The Many Paths To Learning To Love by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

That was when some drawing styles came into my life. The first was: Touch Drawing, created by Deborah Koff-Chapin. Then came: Zentangle: created by Rick Roberts & Maria Thomas. Also two other books caught and grabbed my attention and those are: The Art of Silliness by Carla Sonheim and the other: Doodling with Jim Henson.

So what all did these styles teach me and still are teaching me? Well they first gave me the means that did not require me to know how to do this shape or this form and making sure that I got them proportioned right and the lines are right and well you know get it right! So they freed me up by giving some guidelines, yet gave me plenty of room to just draw! Some interesting things started to come to my notice. I’m a very creative person and learning this about myself seemed to free me up to take that creativity and use it to change my past history’s stories and programming. I also had some repeated “Aha!” moments as I saw that even though I couldn’t keep forms, shapes, lines and proportions right, I still got to see neat things come forth. It showed me that my life choices that I had made that weren’t right or healthy or did more harm than good, could be things that were still a part of who I was, yet could be turned around to help in my growth and understanding of things. That mistakes and such aren’t necessarily the terrible monsters we can make them out to be. That mistakes really are lessons. We weren’t meant to be perfect and have all the answers. Life is about exploring, learning, growing and healing. That the messiness of life can still be useful and it’s okay that we don’t get it right all the time. Learning this started helping me to feel alright around other people and helped me to not be so scared that I’m going to mess things up. Sure I do bumble and fumble, but guess what we all have our awkward moments with each other. I started to understand that we all are students in this thing called life.

A Zentangle Session

A Turtle That Showed Up by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

I could share so much more! But that is for a book project that needs to start happening! What I hope you take away from all this, is learning to know ourselves and love ourselves is the biggest job we have. I found that making free form expression a part of my routines has done so much to help me learn about myself and love myself. It has taught me and continues to teach me things about life and how to navigate it. It has helped me in being able to better to know what is my stuff and what belongs to other. It helps me by giving me an outlet to express and release things that have overloaded me. It has taught me that there can be good lessons in my mistakes and it has giving me so much in healing my connections with the layers of myself and also the greater wholeness of life and my fellow human brother and sisters. And it keeps giving so much more!

So please accept this invitation to explore these teachers I’ve shared with you and give these meditation styles a try and see what they do for you!!!

Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

 

 

 

 

Kindness, Compassion and Love: A Quiet Yet Potent Personal Revolution

I know you would never think of kindness and compassion and self-love, as something to be a revolutionary act. Yet a few months ago while 2016 was slowly coming to a close, I posted on Facebook this little blip on my approach to activism:

My activism is a quiet yet potent one. I treat all people with respect and consideration. I’m open to another person’s point of view even when they differ from mine.

For I do not have all the answers. I am willing to do my best to want to understand someone, than to judge and condemn. I’m not perfect in this. Yet I know I do the best I can and fortunately that this is what I am able to do most of the time.

Well this little blip on Facebook got a conversation going between myself and Melissa Welsh:

She shared how being kind is a huge deal. That also kindness shouldn’t be a big deal, yet sadly in the world today during these times it is a very big deal.

She sadly had a very good point as to why kindness seems a rare thing in the world today. We are encouraged on so many fronts to be afraid of this and of that, of this group of people and that group. We are encouraged to judge and condemn one another. We are told how to be, what to do, what to say, what to wear and so much more, so we can be acceptable, to be loved. Then we are faced with the fact most of us feel that others can’t relate or understand us, our lives , our challenges.

In fact most of us feel like we are the only ones facing challenges. Too many of us also feel like life hates us, life is too hard, that life is out to get us and that all that people know how to do is use us.  We live in constant stress and overload. So it isn’t a surprise that most people are in what I’ve come to understand as Survival Mode.

In this mode, that way too many of us live, kindness and human decency can go out the door. We often operate from a very enclosed space that is filled with our stress and worries, it is the only thing we see most days and we lose touch with one another and even ourselves. We lose touch with the rest of life. The part of life that is beautiful, friendly, amazing and surprising. The part of life that makes us smile and laugh and get a glimpse of joy.

As this conversation moved along and another in person conversation in December that I had with  Kenya Coviak  it got to the important part of what this article is about:

Kindness, Compassion & Love starts with us, with each individual, with each person that looks in a mirror!

The three of us, in these different conversations got to the core of why kindness is a big deal. Most of us struggle with loving and accepting ourselves. We struggle with being gentle, kind and understanding with ourselves.

We keep being stuck on the hamster wheel of thinking love, kindness and compassion comes from outside ourselves.

That if only we have this or that, wear this or that and so forth and all of this just so we can be loved, accepted and feel good about ourselves. It’s an even tougher thing for those of us that in one way or another ended up being different.We have mental and emotional things that make us different. Our skin color, our body shape, hair, eyes that makes us different. We have temperaments, personalities and intelligences that make us different. We hold different beliefs and opinions of our families, religions and so many other ways that make us different. Sadly we are not encouraged to celebrate and honor these differences.

So how do we get to that place of being able to love and be kind and compassionate toward ourselves?

There are many ways to getting to that place of love. So let me guide you through some of this. First order of business:

Look in a mirror at least 3 times a day, then as loudly or as quietly for you may have folks in the house or place of work, yet say: I love You!

I know that may seem too simplistic and silly too, yet I tell you it starts the process, it gets the ball rolling. I start you to with a mirror because that sort of puts you outside of you. Let’s face it we can say we love our kids our, partner, friends and many others. Yet we struggle with saying that and feeling that for ourselves. So a mirror is a good place to start. And because there is great power in words and voice it is important that you speak the words I love you!. So yes shout those three words or whisper those three words at least 3 times a day.

Then I have another step I share with you, it is something I do for myself I sing this, chant it or just speak it at least 2 times in a day. Here it is:

I love myself!

I love my life!

All the way through

the deepest depths

the highest heights.

All the way around

and all within

I love myself!

I love my life!

Another thing I chant, sing or speak and I suggest you do this one also 2 times a day is this one:

Oh dear love!

With these eyes let me see

the love that is shining down.

With these feet let me feel:

the love that is rising up.

With these ears let me hear

the love that is all around.

And with this heart and mind

know the love that is within,

everything, everyone and everywhere!

This is just your start! I start you out this way for you start to love yourself, your life and realize that love is there within you and is all around! This gives you a good foundation and also the energies needed to start the next part. Which is deprogramming yourself, disconnecting yourself from all that stuff that tells you, that you are not lovable or that you can’t love yourself or that you can’t know love till this or that happens or this or that you have to have in order to love yourself and your life.

I want to share with you a teacher that writes some wonderful books on how to free ourselves from our programming and how to live a life in which we love ourselves and our lives and can live it with joy. The first book I read of this teacher’s works was suggested to me during a growth and healing spurt that being challenging. I was at ConVocation during that time and some things were being stirred up when somebody recommended Miguel Ruiz’s book: “The Four Agreements“. I didn’t know what to expect. The book isn’t a thick one and it was the first I had heard of this person. Yet I am so glad I bought the book.  Let me share a bit of those agreements:

The Four Agreements: By Don Miguel Ruiz

1. Be Impeccable with your World:

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.

As you can see just by this introduction, that these agreements are about learning to be kind, compassionate and loving toward ourselves. These agreements help us to not use our words against ourselves or others. That it is alright to communicate yourself clearly about how you feel, what you want and to not be afraid to ask questions. These agreements teach us so much more. And Don Miguel Ruiz’s approach is gentle. It at times felt like I was sitting in front of a loving Great Grandparent that is sharing what life has taught them. I also highly recommend don Miguel Ruiz’s other books for further reading.

Other authors I recommend is Nirmala and Gina Lake. Both of these authors have much to share on how to love yourself and getting free of the programming that keeps you trapped in the loop of not loving yourself.  A couple of both of these authors are:

Nirmala

Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self

Living From the Heart

Gina Lake

Getting Free: How to Move Beyond Conditioning and Be Happy

Trusting Life: Overcoming Fear and Beliefs That Blocks Peace and Happiness

There are many other authors and teachers I could share. But I know what I am sharing is a lot in this writing. But each of the mentioned authors can be great guides helping you to deprogram yourself. Will help you learn how to love yourself even when things are challenging and you make mistakes. They will give you a great foundation that will make the next recommendation a bit less challenging with time.

Unplug yourself and start limiting your media interactions.I would suggest start by limiting the amount of news and commercials you watch or listen to. I know I know, I can hear it the What! and such. And I want you to know I’m not suggesting that all media is bad or that all news sources are bad for us. But it does help to unplug ourselves some from certain parts of the media. For let’s face it, most news is all about all the hurtful ways we harm each other, or compete against each other.You are lucky if the news on TV can even share one positive event that happened, save this team or that team won, or hey tomorrow is going to be a sunny day. News on TV can really can get us spooked and stressed.

So yes unplug from the news some. Then commercials sit there and tells us what will make us cool, interesting and such. Commercials will tell us this or that can fix us.  Yes I know when you are watching a show you want to stay on top of things with that show. Yet it is a good thing to watch a lot less commercials. The other area in our lives with media is, social media.

I love social media. It lets me stay in touch with people I meet at festivals and ConVocation and also with some of my family. Yet I know that with social media comes all that sharing of information. Some of it is great and fantastic. But some of it will stress us out and put us in a place of fear. With most social media engines working on watching your likes and loves or even what you hate. They go by what we are responding to!!!So you see on a day you get on and most of what you are seeing is this and that going wrong somewhere or somehow.Don’t click on every single one of them and don’t click the emotes showing how you felt about said thing.

Limit your responses for what lifts you up or what encourages to love yourself or what might help in a difficult yet positive way to see something different about yourself or your life. I know this is a radical idea.

Yet I tell you as a highly sensitive empath  and highly functional Autistic person, cutting out some of that media does a world of good to ease some stress in our lives. Helps us not feel so overwhelmed. We start feeling less fearful. We also start being able to really get to know ourselves and what we really want, because we aren’t getting hammered as much by others telling us what’s good or not good for us through the media. So just do your best to limit some of your media time and what you take in as you look and read.

I know this has been an extensive sharing of things. Yet I know that it is a needed thing for each of us to learn to be loving, compassionate and kind people toward ourselves. We need to learn that we, us, each individual can heal and change things for the better toward ourselves and our lives.

It all starts with You and Me doing our individual best to be kind, compassionate and loving toward ourselves and our lives!!!

Be Blessed Dear Ones and Love Yourselves and One Another!!!

Aurora Shirina Lee

 

The Black Girl in Search of God and Some Lesser Tales

 

The Black Girl in Search of God and Some Lesser Tales

By: Philip Spires
The title piece in this anthology is a parable on the nature of religious belief. When first published in 1932 it caused quite a stir and I wondered whether the intervening 75 years might have rendered it something less of a shocker. I found that, apart from one violation of current political correctness and a few inevitable stylistic issues, the message had lost none of its poignancy and perhaps little of its ability to shock.

The Black Girl in Search of God is not a novel or a novella. It is not really a short story either. I choose to describe it as a parable because others have, but equally it could be classed alongside Plato’s symposium as a vehicle for examining a philosophical idea. It’s not a discourse, but it could be a meditation, albeit a rather energetic one. The idea in question, of course, is the nature of religious belief.

The Black Girl of the title is only cast as such, I think, to provide Shaw with a literary vehicle to convey his otherwise naïve questions about Christianity. To this end, The Black Girl is presented as a “noble savage”, and thus a tabula rasa. It is here – and only here – that Shaw violates current correctness. The character could have been cast as a child, but then she could not have threatened to wield her knobkerrie, her weapon, and nor could she have been portrayed as bringing no tradition of her own. We must accept, therefore, that there remains a functionality about the role of this character. She does not represent anything, except her ability to ask the questions she is required to ask.

The Black Girl has been converted to Christianity by a young British woman who has taken delight in amorously jilting a series of vicars. She then becomes a missionary, despite her clearly thin grasp of the subject matter. She is, perhaps, an allegory of colonial expansion. She goes abroad to teach others despite not having achieved fulfilment or knowledge in her own life. It might be important that the teacher and the taught are both women.

When her convert starts asking questions, fundamental questions that the missionary herself has never heard asked, never mind answered, she reverts to invention, not scholarship. Shaw’s intention is clear. She invents myth to mystify myth. And this cloak satisfies the curiosity of the average Christian, but not The Black Girl, who thus goes off in search of God.

And, guided by snakes, she finds Him. And not just once, because there is more than one God in the Bible she carries. There is the God of Wrath, who demands the sacrifice of her child. When she cannot comply, He demands she find her father so he can sacrifice her. A good part of the Bible thus disappears from her new-found faith.

She meets an apparent God of Love, but he laughs at Job for being so naively and blindly devout. More of her book blows away.

She meets prophets who, one by one, deliver their different messages, most of which conflict and communicate individual political positions or bigotry rather than personal revelation.

On the way she belittles Imperial power and male domination. She learns that most “civilised” countries have given up on God and hears a plea that people like her should not be taught things that the mother country no longer believes.

Scientists offer her equally conflicting opinions. They are careful only to describe, never to conclude or interpret. In a way, they are just modern prophets, each with their own interested positions.

There is an amazing episode where a mathematician implores her to consider complex numbers, the square root of minus x, which The Black Girl hears as Myna sex or perhaps its homophone minor sex, and is clearly a reference to feminism. Along with economic power and male dominance, The Black Girl sees guns as the highest achievement of white society. This anticipates the description of colonialism’s trinity in Ngugi’s Petals of Blood.

Then, in a strange section, an Arab discusses belief with a conjuror. These appear to be a pair of major prophets in thin disguise. But their discussions merely confuse the girl and their words skirt her questions.

And so she meets an Irishman, marries and settles down. She devotes herself to him, their coffee-coloured children and the fruits of their garden. Note that she does not devote herself to herself. She projects out, does not analyse within. And in this utterly humanist universe she finds not only personal happiness, but also fulfilment and, with that, answers to her own metaphysical questions that religion per se could not even address.

And so, as the parable closes, we ponder whether the Irishman she marries is Shaw, and whether The Black Girl is the questioning, non-racist, non-sexist, socialist and humanist vision of the future he has personally espoused.

And as for the Lesser Tales, they are generally lesser. Don Giovanni explaining himself was fun and the Death of an Old Revolutionary Hero was prescient of the role of the Socialist Workers’ Party adopted in maintaining Margaret Thatcher in power in the 1980s. A great, historical and fundamentally contemporary read.
Author Bio
Philip Spires
Author of Mission, an African novel set in Kenya
www.philipspires.co.uk

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