"Your path is to be shared...It will be called The Golden Thread Road"
~White Buffalo Calf Woman

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

We All Make It Home

I was walking down to my spot on the river -- Actually "shuffling" is a more accurate description, kicking up the leaves and listening to them crackle and crunch. As I crested the little hill down to the bank I paused at the sight. The river was flowing very high, swollen with the rain that has deluged us in the past weeks. None of the normal, sandy beach was visible and, in fact, the place where I normally sit was about 20 feet out into the water.

As I approached the water’s edge I couldn’t help exclaiming, “Oh there you are!” I had had a small paper bag full of loose sage that I’d misplaced, having combed my apartment looking for it and having no idea where it could possibly have gone. It must have fallen out of my chanupa bag in the dark when I left here a couple nights previously after another pipe ceremony. And here it was, almost intact but for a small hole, despite the heavy rain that had soaked it. As I reached down to retrieve it, I realized I wasn’t alone. Right next to my sage bag, camouflaged in with the color of the leaves and earth, was a dead salmon. I felt honored that my unintentional offering had apparently been reciprocated by an offering from Grandfather Salmon. Picking up some of the sage that had spilt from my bag, I sprinkled it on the departed fish, saying something like, “I honor you Grandfather Salmon and thank you for the gift of your presence. I am sorry you did not make it home.”

Instantly I heard Grandfather laughing in my ear. “My son, we ALL make it home.” And I witnessed the image of this beautiful salmon swimming right out of its body and into the realm of spirits.

I found a spot just down river from where Grandfather lay, and made a comfy place to sit, spreading my blanket on the colorful leaves and wrapping my cloak around me. I had hoped to see some live salmon swimming upstream but the water was dark and rough so, other than just a couple feet out from shore, I couldn’t see beneath the surface. I performed a pipe ceremony, sending smoke blessings to the salmon lying on the bank, and calling out, “Grandfather Salmon come smoke with me!” Hoping to entice a live salmon to join me nearby in the river.

I smoked, and prayed, and cried, and sang, for a good hour or so until I noticed the clouds darkening, not only because of the encroaching night, but from the density of the water they held. I closed my pipe ceremony, thanking Creator for my life and my path, but then instead of releasing the directions as I normally do, I began to go right in to wrapping up the bowl and stem in their separate little cloth bundles. As I was doing this I happened to look into the water and there, just a couple feet from me and directly in front of me hovered a salmon, pausing in his swim. I almost burst into tears. It was such a blessing and honor to be visited, especially after I invited him to smoke with me. It was perfect.

After thanking the spirits and releasing my sacred space, I gathered my things to beat the rain. As I passed Grandfather Salmon lying on the beach I whispered, "Thank you Grandfather and welcome home!"

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Gator Aid

A few months ago I took a few days to myself at a friend's little cabin in the woods. It was a wonderful spiritual retreat and I spent the entire weekend meditating, napping, and connecting. I worked quite a lot with my chanupa, performing several sacred pipe ceremonies each day, and probably the most thrilling thing that happened was the introduction of a new Power Animal during one of those ceremonies.

Power Animals are those Animal Spirit Guides that usually come into our lives at a specific time for a specific purpose, to guide and help us in a particular direction or with a particular task. It is especially exciting to me when they pop up of their own accord rather than my journeying to seek them because there's a certain amount of validation that comes with a guide showing up before you even knew you needed someone to help you in a certain area. If you weren't looking for someone in the first place you don't have to be concerned with the whole "I'm just making this up" mind set. 

Of course with new Spirit Guides, especially ones that just pop up, it's always a good thing to double check and make sure they've got your highest good at heart, so I always run them past Nathaniel, my stalwart reindeer companion, for his approval. Another fun way to do this is to ask them to tell you joke. If they really have your highest good at heart, have no other agenda, and are of a higher frequency, they are going to have a sense of humor, so if they can tell you a joke you're pretty safe. 

The joke this guide told me:

Why can't ducks ever be experts?
Because they're always dabbling!

(In case you don't get it -- non-diving ducks are called "dabblers")  

But I'm getting ahead of myself... So there I was one evening in the middle of a Pipe Ceremony, negotiating a deal with the Mosquito Nation in order to keep from being bit (which they mostly upheld) when I became aware of a presence. Whatever it was I knew it was reptilian. When I am in Non-Ordinary Reality, things tend to look similar to what the world looked like to Frodo when he put on the ring and became invisible (between the worlds) in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so it sometimes takes time for the shadows of figures to solidify into recognizable shapes. Even then they can morph back and forth between different forms. 

Then it raised its massive head and began breathing fire. "Mike?" I asked, referring to my dragon power animal, "Is that you?" But there was no immediate answer. Another dragon perhaps? You can never have too many dragon friends! But as the flames faded the form solidified into a giant albino alligator. Leave it to me to have something as unusual as a fire-breathing alligator as a spirit guide. As he stood there looking at me he began to glow from the inside. (...Make that a giant, albino, fire-breathing, glow-in-the-dark alligator). While we sat there staring at each other, the name "Ansel" floated through my thoughts. Really?! What is it with my power animals and alliteration?!

So I had a nice conversation with Ansel, asking what his message was for me, and how we were going to work together. Seemingly building on the insights I had earlier gained from my meetings with Sekmet about anger, Ansel was to help me learn when it's appropriate to 'breathe fire'.  And he was to help teach me how to dial it back to keep just enough flame burning inside to radiate the light, my inner light, to be a beacon. Again the message repeated through my spiritual history: I am meant to be seen.

With that, Ansel turned, very smoothly for his great size, and, with barely a splish, dove into a river I hadn't previously noticed but from which he had apparently emerged earlier. He sank quickly beneath the dark waters, his radiant white silhouette, propelled by his gracefully weaving tail, in stark contrast with the black currents as he descended, diminishing in size until swallowed by the darkness. It was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen.

It wasn't until I'd returned home and was doing a pipe ceremony down at the river that it occurred to me how appropriate Ansel's appearance was. Taking a long drag into my mouth, holding it for a second, then blowing it out, I suddenly realized I was literally breathing fire. Clever gator! The fire-breathing wasn't just about expressing anger, it was working with my pipe. He was here to help teach me how to work with my chanupa! 

Then another insight hit me that caused me to giggle out loud. Alligator is actually an exceptional mother. She doesn't just lay her eggs then disappear. She regularly tills the nest, turning the soil and stirring the eggs so that they get equal portions of warmth from the sun and coolness from the earth. Then when the babies hatch, she takes them in her mouth and carries them to the river where she teaches them to swim. Here I was, at the river, being taught how to swim, so to speak, by an alligator. 

It still amazes me how these things build on themselves, how something that seems relatively mundane at the time (at least as mundane as an albino, fire-breathing, glow-in-the-dark alligator can be) continues to unfold with deeper and more profound threads of meaning and connection. 

For instance - Even as I was writing this it occurred to me that Ansel is modeling the fact that I am the chanupa. I watch Ansel breathing fire and keeping his inner flame lit in the same way the breathing back and forth through the pipe keeps the embers in the bowl, the heart of the chanupa, alive, and just as it is my smoking the chanupa, breathing in and out, that helps keep the embers of my own heart lit, staying in alignment so I radiate more of my inner Divine light. 

I am finding that the more I work with my chanupa, the deeper I go (another river metaphor) and the more I'm walking in my own light, not afraid to step into the darkness and face it, or light it up. Like they say, "You can't be a beacon if your light don't shine."

So I now have a Spirit Ally ally-gator...  An animal spirit guide to help be my navi-gator... A power animal to help discover my deeper mysteries as my investi-gator...

Okay. I'm done. See you later...

...never mind...

Friday, July 5, 2019

Out of the Pan, Into the Fire

Not long after my last post, something interesting happened which could be viewed as an epilogue or sequel to that previous post. I was at my spot on the river, preparing to do another pipe ceremony on my way home from work. From my otter-hide chanupa bag I pulled my carefully wrapped altar cloth, which contained within it the bowl and stem of my pipe, each separately wrapped in their own fabric cloth. I unrolled the two segments of my chanupa and placed them gingerly in my lap so I could open up and spread out my altar cloth on the stone upon which I was sitting. I carefully unwrapped my stem, letting it roll out of the soft fabric into my hand, and then I unwrapped my bowl in a similar, but not quite as graceful manner. As I retrieved the bowl from the cloth I was surprised to find a small mound of tobacco, fresh and unburned, spilling from the smoke hole. This was particularly strange because between the ceremony with Sekhmet and this one I’d smoked my pipe at the weekly pipe circle at a local metaphysical store, after which we always clean our pipes and blow out any burnt or excess tobacco. “Okay. Something special is about to happen."

I completed the other preparations and began to smoke and pray. There was quite a breeze on the river so keeping the matches lit long enough to ignite the tobacco was challenging, but with a bit of patience and a lull in the wind I was able to persevere. I smoked out some prayers and blessings for myself as well as various friends who were experiencing a variety of challenges, then sat quietly to await whatever was going to happen.

I was curious after the ceremony with Sekhmet if she would show up because I wondered what she might have to say about how I was doing in following her suggestions. I reached out with my feelings and could sense that she was present in a general way, and somehow I knew she was smiling. Then a familiar energy I hadn't connected with in quite some time began to make itself known to my mind and I mentally exclaimed, "...Pan!" ..."Greetings Highlander!"

He has addressed me this way since the early to mid 90s when I first started working with him, and over the years I have still never figured out why he greets me this way. The reason I began connecting with the goat-footed, horned god was inspired by two particular sources. The first was The Findhorn Book about the magickal garden that thrived on a lifeless, sandy Scottish beach because of the cooperative efforts of Humans and Nature Spirits. One of the founders had encountered Pan in a chance meeting in Hyde Park in London as the King of the Nature Spirits, sitting amongst his subjects. The second was a series of books by Michael J. Roads where he began communicating with the spirits of Nature, eventually meeting Pan, whom he came to know as the very Spirit of Nature itself, who took him on all kinds of incredible journeys and experiences into Nature.

In the early 90s I had already begun communicating with spirits. I was having daily conversations with Jeshua after attending regular sessions where he was channeled, and I had started interacting with Nature Spirits as well. I was working in Burien, Washington at the time, and next to the county library there was a little wooded park where I spent every lunch break. I would sit in the trees for almost an hour every day during the week learning to talk to the spirits of the trees and wildlife. One of the most memorable exchanges came one day when I saw a pretty little mushroom along the side of the path and I exclaimed, “Hello little mushroom!” In reply I distinctly felt the little spirit put it’s hands on its hips and pout, “I’m a toadstool!” So I was primed for the next s
tep, and after reading the aforementioned sources it felt like Pan might be that step. I craved a deeper connection into the heart of Nature, but the promiscuous reputation and wildness of Pan gave me pause. Did I really want to expose myself to that kind of energy?

In many areas of my life I’ve had a history of shyness with feelings of inadequacy, making it difficult for me to find the courage to try new things. Apparently my spirituality is not one of those areas because, despite any misgivings or apprehensions of approaching this wild, wild god, I stepped forward and asked if he could teach me. I was pleasantly surprised to find any doubts were unfounded because he greeted me with a warm, welcoming, joy as if we were old friends reuniting after lifetimes apart. Though I don’t remember now whether he told me this or I realized it on my own, it did come to me that this actually may have been the case because I probably had connected with him in my Unicorn days.

So for a long time I spent my lunch breaks connecting with Pan, learning and absorbing many lessons. At one point Pan said he had a gift for me, and not a minute later a long, straight branch fell out of a nearby tree. It has become a staff that I greatly treasure. Then, as happens, life shifted and so did my time with Pan. He still showed up from time to time, such as in one particular shamanic journey when he placed a huge chunk of rose quartz into my heart, but our regular time together waned to almost nothing up to the present time.

And that is why it was such a happy surprise to hear those words floating through my mind that day by the river. "Greetings Highlander!" We talked for a little while, most of it like a dream that I can't recall, and as we were thus engaged, the breeze from the river kicked up again with a bit more flare than previously. This had the startling result of fanning the sage stick I had smoldering in the abalone shell in front of me into flames, which in turn ignited the discarded wooden matchsticks that lined the shell until I had a little blazing fire going at my knee. Overriding my first impulse to panic and dump the whole thing into the river to extinguish it, I took a deep breath. I was in ceremony, nothing happens in ceremony that isn't supposed to.

As I watched it burn, I turned to Pan for an explanation. He told me that this was the inner flame that Sekhmet had discussed with me which had manifested as smoldering anger and frustration, and it was demonstrating how now, instead of squelching the flame, I was opening up and letting it burn. In so doing I was allowing it to burn away the unhealthy things that were no longer part of me without turning it on myself.

When it had burned down to a smolder again I found myself feeling quite exhilarated, and as I took a deep breath I realized I was feeling "clean" inside. I'm not exactly sure how to describe that sensation other than that I could breathe easier and there wasn't anything blocking the flow of my breath. I felt open with nothing gumming up the works. I felt clean.

I thanked Pan for his help and, feeling complete, I finished the ceremony and headed home. Later as I was recounting what happened, I was struck by a question... Why was it Pan that showed up rather than Sekhmet since she's the one who started this process? I knew it had something to do with my wild, primal, untamed, innocent self, and perhaps Pan was a better representative for that part of me?

Pan confirmed this suspicion at a morning ceremony down at the river before my day job. "By burning off those layers of gunk that kept that wild, innocent self encapsulated and blocked from expressing itself,  you are not only connecting deeper with your own heart, but..." He grinned and opened his arms in a 'Ta-da' sort of way, "...the Heart of Nature as well. That is where you and I connect."

"...It comes time for us to work again..." I was surprised to find out this was not just a cameo appearance on his part, and in answer to my unasked question Pan continued, "Our first connection was lifetimes ago, and these intervening years have been a Hero's Quest of sorts, traveling out on your own to experience, and learn, and mature, coming full circle..." "...To meet you eye to eye." I say, finishing his sentence.

With a smile and a nod he replied, "Speaking of eyes, it's time you really see me. I saw the lovely drawing you made of me," Referring to the drawing at the beginning of this post, "But really look at me and draw what you see rather than copying someone else's concept of me..."

...So it's not exactly him, but this is closer to how I 'see' him. I present to you the great god Pan...

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Sekhmet Chances

It was such a beautiful day that I was concerned I might not be alone as I trundled down the steep path to my favorite spot on the river. I had recently discovered that I could no longer do Sacred Pipe ceremonies at home - my apartment complex, which apparently includes my balcony, is a smoke-free zone - so as a Pipe Carrier I needed to find other places to do ceremony. My first thought was the river. I was introduced to this particular, secluded site years ago by a friend, and it has since become one of my most magickal and favorite places in the world. A small number of people know about it, hence my apprehension, but as I cleared the trees I found myself quite gratefully alone beside the beloved river. From my mind I breathed a sigh of relief, even as my heart joked, “Duh! You were called to do ceremony here so of course you’re going to have solitude.”

For a second I thought about sitting on the beach next to the water, but then my favorite ‘sitting rock’ called to me and, without questioning it, I clambered atop and sat down. I breathed in the serenity and power of this place, exhaling a half dozen “thank yous,” then after laying out my ceremonial spread - My chanupa bowl and stem with the accompanying sage, tobacco, and matches resting on a blue patterned cloth I’d acquired during my Shamanic training - I set sacred space by thanking in turn the elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth, the Spirits of the Upper World, the Lower World, and the Compassionate Spirits of the Middle World - The Fae, the Spirits of the Land, and the Ancestors of the Land - for their presence, asking each to bless me with their Love and their Light. Relaxing into that glowing sphere, I pass my pipe, and everything that would touch it, through cleansing sage smoke, then taking the bowl in my left hand and the stem in my right, I close my eyes and breathe deeper into that liminal space. I raise the bowl and stem above my head, asking for permission to smoke in this place at this time, then join the bowl and stem together to form my pipe. I offer four pinches of tobacco to the four directions before tucking them into the bowl and then lighting up, I blow a smoke blessing to the directions as well, this time including Sky and Earth, ending by turning my pipe in a circle with a smoke blessing to All My Relations.

After a short round of intermittent puffing and sitting silently, I turn my attention to the main purpose of this ceremony. “Compassionate spirit of Sekhmet, will you come smoke with me?” For a moment I feel slightly embarrassed as I realize I’ve pretty much bogarted the entire space on the rock with nowhere left for her to sit opposite me. Then I hear her roaring laughter at my embarrassment as she towers over me, the river barely washing over her ankles. “I am a goddess unhindered by the limits of your time and space.” The next thing I know, she has shrunk down to a more or less human stature, and is sitting in midair in front of me, her lion tail casually splishing back and forth in the river below.

Sekhmet, for those unfamiliar, is the lioness-headed goddess of Ancient Egypt. She is one of the few solar goddesses you’ll find in global mythology. Born of the eye of Ra the sun god in a fit of vengeance, it is said that she created the barren Sahara with her breath and killed countless humans in her wake. Her unquenchable anger and blood lust could only be curbed by tricking her into drinking beer dyed red with pomegranate juice until she passed out. Upon awakening she found balance in the love of the god Ptah, becoming the Goddess of Appropriate Action. She is one of the most powerful deities in Ancient Egypt, her name actually deriving from the Egyptian word for “Power.”

For a very long time I have heard Sekhmet calling to me. At one point I even found myself spontaneously drawing a lioness’ face which developed into a portrait of her. Still, even though I felt a kindredship with her, I kept avoiding actually connecting with her. Turns out she wasn’t what I was really avoiding. Being raised both Catholic and Minnesotan, and by no fault of those who raised me, I already had two strikes against me as far as repressing my emotions. Between Commandments and the rules of polite society, there was nothing I did that didn’t come under the scrutiny of questioning or judgement, and for sheer survival I learned to hold myself in and not let too much of my true self show. That is the recipe for resentment and anger. Things improved in adult life with a wider acceptable range of self expression, especially as an artistic-type from whom a certain eccentricity is to be expected. But there was still those leftover emotions from my youth stuffed way, way down - Wasn’t there? I didn’t know because I was afraid to look. I was avoiding my own healing and my own power.

The thing about spiritual growth is that you can’t hide from those things forever. Sooner or later those stubborn little pockets of gook from childhood are going to be reflected in your present life situation - Not for punitive or patronizing purposes by the Universe, but simply as a natural process to heal those wounds and claim the wholeness that is your birthright. And that has been my current year. I have gone deeper than ever before, clearing out and healing all kinds of crap until I am left with those icky, sticky, gross emotional remnants that have been cooked and recooked onto the sides of the pan of my soul for countless eons which require scraping and digging-in to remove.

And now my life, though better and more authentic than ever before, is starting to reflect the earlier crusted and baked on gunk that taints the taste of my life. It is time to finally look it in the eye and start clearing. It’s time to heal. And I knew it was time when Sekhmet followed me home last weekend from a Fairy Festival. At once I was struck both by her power and beauty, standing proudly on the store shelf, as well as by the sinking of my stomach when I knew things were about to get real. I was not wrong. This week has seen an escalation of feelings of frustration and desperation as I deal with what seems like an endlessly shrinking box of expectations and obligations, binding me further and further from experiencing or expressing myself as more than a mindless worker drone. I have awakened with a stomachache every morning just from having to face stress of the day, and there have been times when I felt the anger and frustration rise to such an extent in my chest that I’ve been afraid I would literally explode.

And that is what prompted this ceremony at the river. I am not generally an angry person, and I realized I didn’t have the tools to deal with these seemingly foreign feelings. I knew Sekhmet had come more prominently into my life for a reason to help me with exactly that, so I faced whatever fears and doubts I still had about working with the lioness goddess with a propensity for destruction, and I invited her into my circle to seek her council.

I took a puff and, blowing the smoke toward Sehkmet’s heart, I offered her the stem of the pipe. Then I returned my chanupa to my lap and sat quietly in her presence. Sekhmet was not the tough, harsh, disapproving, disciplinarian I expected, but rather soft, gentle, and kind. The first thing she did sitting opposite me, looking deeply into my eyes with a smile wrinkling her broad nose, was place a huge paw on my heart, where it lingered for some time before she started to speak.

“You fear your anger and that gives it power. You fear that it will become bigger than you, but you forget it exists inside of you, that you are bigger than it because you are the space that holds it. You only need to expand to the point where it becomes but a single candle in the vast night rather than a huge bonfire threatening to consume everything around it. You already are the infinite expanse of the Universe”

“It is trying to shrink yourself into the boxes of the expectations of others, and of yourself, that fuels the fire. When those feelings arise it is but a signal that you are playing small.  It is a reminder of your inner light and it rises to burn away the smoke of illusion as the sun burns off the morning mist, dissolving the illusions and revealing the truth of who you are." The image of a tepee with it's open smoke hole seemed to randomly drift into my mind, but then she said, "Open your crown like a chimney and allow the flames to rise. Your anger is constructive.  Align with it and allow it to carry you higher. It is meant to fuel your rise, not burn you to the ground. It is by remaining closed and continuously turning it inward that you suffer.”

I asked how to implement that when I’m at work in the midst of the frustrations. Her reply didn’t surprise me. “You are a carrier of the pipe, yes? You do not need it physically with you to utilize it. It is part of you now, and the same way you blow out the smoke in ritual, blow out those falsehoods and lies during your day. It is your breath that holds the power, not the smoke."

She lingered a little longer as I practiced blowing out those feelings, finding the in breath to expand me like a balloon and the out breath to cleanse that new space. I thanked her as
she faded away, and blew a couple more smoke blessings skyward in gratitude before closing my circle.

It's funny how a lot of times I have these experiences in ceremony or while journeying, and I don't understand how profound they are until I write them down afterwards. The next morning, though, as I prepared to apply Sekhmet's advice I knew for sure that some sort of shift had taken place. While walking the short distance from my car to the warehouse of my day job, I stopped short and stared in awe as a bald eagle flew directly over my head, less than twenty feet above me. "...Okay!" I thought, "Let's do this thing!"

Monday, July 2, 2018

My One and Yoni

A few weeks ago I was just hanging out at 4 Sisters, the store where I do readings every other Saturday, when from halfway across the room, an egg-shaped stone caught my attention and would not let it go. I walked over and picked it up, looking into the depths of what looked like a view of space from the Hubble telescope complete with nebulas and star systems. I was enthralled because this has been my Year of Deepening; A year of rebirth and new beginnings, of expanding beyond my limitations into the unknown, to boldly go where no one has gone before. And here I was literally holding the Cosmic Egg -- the birth of the Universe was lying in the palm of my hand. 

This representation and meaning alone was enough for me to know beyond a doubt that I had to take it home, but I was also curious about what kind of stone it was.

"I won't tell you what it is until you pay for it," the owner said slyly. 
"Okay," I shrugged, handing over the money.
"It's a 'Yoni Egg.'" She said with a smirk.

Now, I know what a 'Yoni' is, but was unaware of what a 'Yoni Egg' was, so she explained that it was for women to insert into their yoni and to hold and carry it there as a way to strengthen the muscles in that area.

“You know I would have bought it anyway.”
“I know. I was teasing. You’re probably the only guy I know who would knowingly buy a yoni egg.” 

What made this extra significant to me is that I am recently and newly single, and one of the things I found myself saying was, “The only relationship for me to focus on right now is the one between me and the Universe; Me and Goddess." So here I was, not only holding the Universe in my hand, but the Yoni of the Cosmic Mother. I am a Son and Consort of the Goddess, and here She was showing up in a manner that acknowledged and validated my journey, as well as allowed me to literally embrace the Divine Feminine. There is nothing about this that is not sublime and divinely perfect.

Friday, June 1, 2018

In The Bag

I recently left a relationship and, while I'm still a little raw from the miasma of contradictory emotions accompanying that decision and not ready to delve into that part in public, an amazing synchronicity occurred around it that deserves to be told, and can be told without breaching the complexities underlying the break up itself.

I was talking to one friend recently, and as the conversation moved onto other subjects besides my former relationship, she asked if I'd ever seen this certain Spirit Animal card deck. She had seen it at Half Price Books and had thought of getting it for me. Not only had I heard of it, it was an amazing and beautiful deck I had coveted it for quite some time, actually having earlier in the month asked a friend who sells them at her coffee shop to hold a deck for me next time they come in. "Oh, I wished I'd gone ahead and bought it for you then! And I have the perfect case to put them in. It's a beautiful, hand-embroidered tarot bag that even has a unicorn on it. It so has your name on it!" A thought flickered across my mind which I quickly dismissed. It couldn't be. There's no possible way...

A little later that evening I got a message from her saying she was at Half Price, she was buying me the deck, and there was nothing I could do about it, so there! ...I love my friends!

Then a little later after that she messaged me again, this time with photos of the deck along with the tarot bag she had mentioned. ...Holy crap! There was no possible way, but there it was. I replied my undying gratitude saying that she had just given me a bigger gift than she could ever have imagined, but that I wanted to tell her about it in person.

Fortunately it didn't take long because I was teaching a class the very next night, so she met me at the store before class and handed off her gifts to me. It was surreal seeing and holding the tarot bag again.

"Do you know the woman who made this?" I asked.
She answered with a woman's name I didn't recognize and I hesitated.
"Do you know ____?" I asked.
"Oh, yes I do!"
"She's the one who made the bag."
"Oh! You know, I think you're right. I was thinking it was the other woman but come to think of it, it was her."
"I know. And you know why I know? She was my first girlfriend after my divorce and she made this specifically for me."
"This same exact bag?!"
"This same exact bag. That's why there's a unicorn on it. She made it specifically for me. I gave it back after we broke up because it was a piece of art and I felt weird about keeping it."
"Well I guess it belonged with you after all! Wow! She gave that to me over a decade ago and I couldn't figure out why she'd give me such a beautiful piece of artwork."
I shrugged with a half smile, "Now you know why."

When I had first seen the photo of the bag the day before, my head was spinning by the inconceivable synchronicities involved. At first I was embarrassed, being self conscious from having been teased about the number of relationships I’d had since divorcing my former girlfriend/wife of 18 years about 11 years ago. Was the Universe throwing it in my face to tell me to grow up and hunker down, that here was yet another relationship that didn’t work out, so obviously there was something wrong with me?

Then another thought flashed through my mind: “Full circle.” The ending of the latest relationship and the sudden resurfacing of this relic from my first relationship went beyond coincidence. Things were coming full circle, like a completion of a lesson over a decade long in the learning. To validate this thought, I looked up and in the license number of the car ahead of me was “777.” This is an ‘angel number’ which basically indicates that the angels are watching over you and giving a huge thumbs up. So it seemed I had graduated from something and the Universe was giving me physical, tangible proof of completion.

Still, the mind boggles...


Monday, May 28, 2018

Grand Ole Osprey

I’ve been doing a weekly post on my Facebook page for years now that I call Totem Tuesday. Each week I put up an original drawing of my own of an animal along with an explanation of that animal’s ‘medicine’, which is the powerful gift or lesson that animal brings to our lives to help us grow. 

Normally it can seem rather random as I try to come up with animals I haven’t featured yet and balance the appearances of various classes - mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, insects, etc - so as to represent a wider range of animals and expand people’s understanding about how EVERY species has a place and a purpose to which we are all connected. We are all related. Mitakuye Oyasin - The Native American phrase which means “All My Relations.” 

This year, however, I have noticed a lot less randomness as almost every animal has volunteered to come forward by repeated appearances in my own life, and their particular medicine has been precisely what I needed or what I was experiencing at the time, and usually they have not been animal guides I’ve experienced working with before - Tasmanian Devil, Narwhal, Slow Loris, and Whale Shark to name a few. But the one that has gotten a lot of my attention and has been working steadily with me is Osprey. 

This is the original post from my Facebook page:


OSPREY is a hawk that is HIGHLY SPECIALIZED to fish. She has long, sharp fishhook talons, textured feet for a better grip on slippery scales, and closable nostrils to name a few adaptions. Her message here is that you came into life with SPECIAL STRENGTHS AND CAPABILITIES to carry out your unique life purpose. These talents and abilities are natural and an integral part of you, and are custom-made to lead you toward that which nourishes and feeds you most. But to use these things, like Osprey, you may need to REACH OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONES. Venturing into territory that other birds of prey, including Fish Eagles, won't, Osprey is the only raptor that dives into the water. She TAKES THE RISK of doing so so that she can KEEP HER EYE ON HER PREY even as she enters the water. With Osprey as your ally, there is nothing you can not achieve once you have locked on to it. FOCUS and CONCENTRATION are a couple of her greatest gifts, as well as an ACTIVE SEEKING OF ONE'S PASSION, and a FEARLESSNESS to enter unknown territory to do so. Osprey does not wait for things to fall in her lap. She makes things happen. 

Osprey's nest is a large mass of grasses and sticks built with a clear view of the fishing grounds. Not only does this make her a SENTINEL, aware of everything around her from her clear vantage point, but Osprey has also become a BEACON and a GUIDE for fishing boats who use her nests as navigational landmarks.

Also there is an aspect of INTEGRITY with Osprey. Whereas the noble Eagle sometimes scavenges and steals Osprey's catches, Osprey is SELF-SUFFICIENT, relying on her own skills and abilities to care for herself. It is her own CONFIDENCE and ADEPTNESS that allows her to decide her own fate, and with a sense of POWER and MAJESTY that is self-evident without the need to boast.

So find that one thing that feeds your soul, and dive into it wholeheartedly no matter where it takes you. From your vantage point the future is yours. Set your vision and go for it. Let Osprey guide you and nothing can get in your way! 

Osprey’s medicine really resonated with me, especially with having decided that this is my year of deepening my path. After I posted this I realized that what Osprey medicine is really about is Dedication. Everything is dedicated to one purpose, customized to contribute to her goals with nothing extraneous. Dedication is focusing on one thing and releasing everything else. In a way it's like using the Law of Attraction -- You continuously affirm and focus on what you want, not giving time and energy to what you don't because 'Where consciousness goes, energy flows." Everything serves her singular purpose.

This brought to mind an experience from Sandra Ingerman's Teacher Training. We were to journey to one of our helping spirits and ask what it was that we needed to release in order to move forward on our healing/teaching path. As I slid into the spirit realms on the hoof beats of the wind-horse drum, Mike, my dragon guide loomed above me. Before I could even fully ask the question, Mike let loose with a barrage of fire, and I saw the word 'OBLIGATIONS' before me engulfed in flame and burning to ash.

I have a tendency to spread myself thin with obligations, whether with other people or organizations, which of itself is not a bad thing except when doing so saps and drains the energy from one's own medicine and purpose, especially when they are done out of guilt or outside expectations and duties. I have a specific purpose and path I came her to fulfill and, no matter how much good I may have been doing through other groups,etc, it is nothing compared to what I can do if I consolidate my energy and direct it to that singular purpose and destiny.

I also realized as I began to concentrate on deepening my path this year, that besides committing to exterior groups and people, I've also always looked for some exterior spiritual way, ideal, or deity to dedicate my life to in order to give my life meaning and purpose. The big news is that my life already has purpose; That I am already part and parcel of Source Energy, so dedication to anyone or anything else is still, however subtly, a dispersion of essential energy without which critical mass of purpose fulfillment can never be reached. There is no higher obligation or dedication than that too my own inner calling and guidance.

And so I began withdrawing my energy from various groups, and at the same time I became consciously mindful of where and to whom I promised my time and energy. If I am to do what I came here to do in this lifetime, I have to let go of those things that don't serve that purpose. I need to pay attention to the inner ebb and flow of my energy and feelings, letting that be my compass and final counsel on whether I act rather than the guilt and 'shoulds' of outer expectations. Enter Osprey as my perfect model and teacher of dedication - Dedication to myself and my path.

In an ironic twist, after thinking I had 'gotten' Osprey's medicine and how it worked toward deepening my path, I discovered I was still just skimming the surface of the meaning. While journeying for a student recently, Hortance, my shape shifting Owl/Toltec guide who helps me with teaching, mentioned, almost casually, my working with Osprey medicine, saying, "What you haven't grasped yet is that Osprey's dedication is not to the Fish. It is to the fishing."

In other words, it really is about the Journey and not the Destination. It is the continuous process of writing, drawing, and exploring, that brings joy to my heart and the feeling of better alignment with my True Self that is the point.  It is the doing and the creating of my various, seemingly countless,  projects that is the important part, not in the finishing. Of course, if I never finished anything my creativity would starve and my soul would wither, like the Osprey with out the fish. The fish is important for my continued survival and nourishment, but it is just the external indicator of how clear and aligned I am.

In other words, as my favorite Zen teacher, Alan Watts says, "When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point."   

"...the journey itself is the point..."

My life is my music and my path is my dance.