What Kind of Parent Are You?
by Dr. Marta
My parents didn’t show much encouragement for my interests. When my father worked with wood, he wouldn’t let me hammer nails. Neither parent indulged my love for horses, and they hardly ever attended my gymnastics events or field hockey games. I felt like they didn’t really know me.
I conceptualize three kinds of parents. Mine typified what I would call uninvolved. This type doesn’t spend much time talking or doing things with their children. The children stop expecting parental involvement in their lives. They can easily become discouraged and may suffer from emotional issues of abandonment and low self-esteem.
Another type of parent I call over-involved. They make decisions for a child based on pre-conceived notions of who and what they want that child to do and be. Regardless of his feelings, these parents pressure him into activities they choose. They force him into sports when he wants to play chess. They make her play the violin when she wants to play drums. They hush their loud, social extravert because they want a quiet, compliant introvert. These parents don’t allow their child’s worldview to differ from their own. They make little effort to understand life from the child’s point of view.
The third type, the supportively involved parents, delight in their children’s strengths and interests. They exhibit these distinct characteristics:
Supportively involved parents hold an attitude of appreciation and wonder at their children’s evolving personalities and talents. They see how the path toward success for their children lies in encouraging them to follow their heart. They make them feel cherished and appreciated for who they are, independent from their performance in school, sports, music, etc. These parents allow Life to live their children, knowing that happiness and fulfillment, as well as financial success, are likely to come through doing what they love.
Supportively involved parents respect their children’s emotions. They connect through listening deeply and non-judgmentally to the child’s feelings. They celebrate achievements and give encouragement when the child fails. Instead of sheltering them from emotional pain, supportive parents allow their children to learn from anger, sadness, etc., offering love and support as the child works through her emotions.
These parents support their children through their physical presence. Through attending events and helping them gain mastery in a skill the child wants to learn, they show support by being there. Parents’ physical presence provides an underpinning of support and security as the child experiences the highs and lows of life. Susan Stiffelman, in Parenting Without Power Struggles, wrote about an important kind of physical presence and support: joyful and authentic children catch glimpses of their mother or father looking at them with wonder and love just because they exist.
When you celebrate and marvel at their uniqueness, you bestow on your children the greatest gift you could possibly give.
Dr. Marta practices in the Verde Valley of Arizona as a Life Coach in Communication & Spiritual Consciousness. She coaches individuals, couples and parents to be more awake and aware. Email: email@example.com, phone: 928-451-9482.
by Henry Selzer
An April to Dig In, and to Remember to Breathe
The astrology of April features two eclipses, counting last month’s Spring Equinox solar eclipse that began the current cycle, and as well the lunar eclipse and Full Moon of the first weekend of April. With this potent configuration, this is shaping up to be a volatile month, also emphasizing singular Jupiter, as well as Chiron, Uranus Neptune and Pluto. We are all to a certain extent still reeling from the volatility of what we have been through over these first three months of the year, and are now attempting to integrate what we have learned.
Just as we are coming off of the final of seven exact hits of Uranus in square with Pluto, signifying the transformational tenor of these intense times that we are currently living through and the extent to which we are all of us in major flux, we have another opportunity for a look inside ourselves in resonance with this volatile aspect of revolutionary/evolutionary change that will last in one form or another to the end of the decade. The Full Moon eclipse of April 4th opposes Uranus and squares Pluto, while the Sun conjuncts Uranus. These two powerhouse planets are still only separated by less than a degree from the perfection of their recent square.
There are also definite cosmic stirrings currently that relate to Chiron, the Wounded Healer, which is strongly aspected in the timing of these eclipses, with the solar eclipse Sun and Moon in close parallel to Chiron. At this timing also, Venus was in perfect semi-sextile to Chiron, bringing relationship and aesthetics into the field of difficulty and also opportunity symbolized by this ultimately healing energy. When inner wounding comes up, especially in inter-personal interaction, there is always an opportunity for healing if we remember to take it.
Mars, was also prominent at the eclipse timing, and in forming conjunction to the new planet, Eris, beyond Pluto. There is a Venus aspect to this interesting new archetype as well at the time of the April 4th eclipse. According to extensive research that I have been conducting, this recently arrived factor in Western Astrology represents a Feminine Warrior for Soul Purpose. Her strong presence now implies that over the course of this present month we will become more conscious to a greater sense of self that exists within each of us. This stems from an inner mandate for being yourself at all costs; for finding deep with you the potential for that which only you can provide. This way of being more fully in alignment with yourself at deep levels leads to greater happiness, as you suddenly find that you have a way to respond to the urgency of these fraught times that we are all living through.
Saturn is also prominent in Sagittarius, being almost exactly inconjunct Venus in her own sign of Taurus at the beginning of this extra-strong lunar cycle, and also inconjunct to Mars in Taurus at the timing of the April 4th lunar eclipse. The limitations and grounding provided by the wise old teacher archetype are a good complement to the high-flying symbolism of other prominent astrological factors such as Jupiter and Neptune.
Neptune is emphasized now, being conjunct Mercury at the timing of the Spring Equinox eclipse, and thus lends a strong component of imagination and idealism to the current astrology. With Saturn, Jupiter and Neptune all strongly configured we have a unique situation of push-pull for both a practical and a mystical way of seeing the word around us. We win when we allow both of these approaches to have their day, steering for the golden mean of a middle course that is neither too cautious, nor allowing ourselves to go so far out there that we lose contact with the earth beneath our feet.
ARIES (March 20-April 19). This is another climactic month for you, Aries, when many things come together. You have been riding the wave of transformation for many months, feeling the ultimate implications although perhaps unaware of specifics, heading for a hazy future. You are suddenly taking up the reigns in a more purposeful manner. You find support from allowing in the viewpoint of significant persons in your life, appearing as either mentors or as foils for your emerging position. Partners might thus provide a conceptual framework that enables you to more fully visualize your own. Your transformation is still in process, of that you can be sure, and with new stage you are getting more seriously committed to making only those changes that truly matter to you, deep down, and that will bring you into closer alignment with your soul intention.
TAURUS (April 20-May 19). This is another powerful month for you, Taurus, in a series of these, taking you forward in ways not always completely anticipated. You could feel lately like you are moving through molasses. You are heading toward an unknown future that beckons you, through a combination of idealism and fond illusion. These first few months of this year have been revolutionary and eye opening, especially referring to your inner eye, as your mystical journey continues. Partners continue to have a strong role to play, perhaps serving as catalysts to your own development. Your very identity is shifting, including your worldview. You might sometimes feel as though you are stuck on the verge of breakthrough. Your progress is subtle and yet nonetheless profound, and the ultimate outcome will be longer lasting and more greatly stabilized within you as a result of this longer term in your process of getting there.
GEMINI (May 20-June 20). This is an interesting and important month for you and your ongoing transformation of values and of societal connection, Gemini. There have already been the psychic storms of February and March, and as you slide into April you are continuing to fire on all cosmic cylinders. The concept of partnership provides grounding and a sense of serious commitment to the potential bond. Your vision for the future is constantly changing and yet has a mystical quality of enduring truth that you are quite aware of, at least subliminally. This has been a metamorphosis in which every facet of your life is in flux, including your goals themselves. These have been undergoing a revision of priorities from an outer orientation to the consensus thinking of the surrounding culture, to what is a most decidedly inner alignment to deep intention.
CANCER (June 21-July 20) This is yet another intense month, Cancer, after the crescendo of major change that February and March might have meant for you. Your vision is strong for a better way to be of service to the world around you, involving new vision for social responsibility and for professional activities that have a serious point to make, and a light way of going about it. You continue to morph in the way that you bond with others for both personal and business relationships. Your own sense of self-satisfaction is thereby enhanced, so that you also better partner yourself and your own deep intention going forward. You are committed to a form of service that leaves your ego out of the picture, while yet your personality becomes the fundamental fulcrum of the spirit in which it is performed, to the ultimate advantage of everyone around you.
LEO (July 21-Aug. 21) This is yet another big month for transformation on many different levels, Leo. You are in the midst of a sensitive and potent lunar cycle, yet one having a definite edge, and representing a quest for action in support of soul intention. Your self-expression is studied and slowed down right now, perhaps in order that you might examine more closely what you are producing and your underlying motivation in so doing. You are occupied with idealistically looking within yourself for a better understanding of your own inner workings, and for clues to removing barriers to intimate connection with significant others. As you investigate and make necessary changes in habitual patterns, you might begin to notice that there is no way to separate yourself and your beliefs from the evidence that you gather; you are an indissoluble part of all that you observe.
VIRGO (Aug. 21-Sept. 21) This month continues the beat, Virgo, of transformational change that you have been dancing to all year. Uranus and Pluto, still upending your world, have precipitated major results including dramatic changes in your creative self-expression, and are still a big part of this month’s swirl of cosmic energies. Your partnership dynamic has been alternately fluctuating and deeply intentioned, and while somewhat filled with rose-colored visions of extraordinary outcomes is also seriously practical in its scope. Your intuition too is sizzling with enlightenment for new life direction, and nearly takes you to right within the psyches of others. You are making a serious application of effort to dig further into your own psychological territory as you encounter limitations on one level of family entanglements or home based concerns, simultaneous with breakthrough on another. You may also find yourself taking on issues for the way that you resource yourself, whenever it is that you are required to.
LIBRA (Sept. 22-Oct. 22) The rhythm of revolutionary change continues, Libra. The tidal pulse of major transformation keeps pounding away at the very underpinnings of your life and your personality, seemingly without letup. You remain full to the brim with lingering vibrations from recent months sparking attitudes of cosmic intentionality. These seem to come from outside of yourself, perhaps arriving on the wings of relationship interaction, and yet still very much hit the mark. Something about your life is irrevocably altering and the contribution of intelligent and deeply connected partners and fellow travellers contributes greatly to your own arc of development. You are magnetically pulled to visions of future circumstance that even though largely insubstantial; you can nearly see and feel with your physical senses. Practical magic is one watchword for your current transitional state, as you leave behind one layer of consciousness for what turns out to be quite another.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) This is your time of coming into yourself in a new way, Scorpio. Relationship is powerful for you right now, and allows you to better understand where you are coming from. The point of view of active partners helps to pave the way to your own ongoing transformation in communicative outreach and service orientation. This current cycle leads you to exploring the mechanics of public achievement. You are lucky with your outer world circumstance, which also gives you the space to more deeply investigate private areas and concerns. You are simultaneously taking your creativity to the next level, by placing it in harness to others, laying it at their feet for the benefit of partners and of society itself. Most importantly, you are discovering a component of soul intention that complements every gesture you make in the line of more ordinary mundane layers of commitment.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 20) The beat goes on, Sagittarius, and it seems like the intensity has barely diminished, although perhaps subtly shifted in direction. During this rather intense time, you continue to deal with a flood of radical change. You are exercising increased spiritual creativity in everything that you do. A sense of responsibility to the ordinary requirements of daily life might at times feel like a burden, and yet suddenly it morphs into joy at serving your higher calling. Your understanding of soul-level mission that you have been feeling these last few months has become a factor in assessing how to determine your true priorities; you are finding that some formerly important details and previously treasured habits could fall away, while the ones that you choose to embrace are those that accord with where your inner guidance is directing you.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 21-Jan. 19) This is still the season of your transformation, Capricorn, as it has been all year thus far. The recent crescendo of radical evolutionary change has lessoned slightly and perhaps turned more profoundly inward. You have mellowed into the changes of this timeframe, accepted your seat on the roller coaster, and even begun to enjoy the view of the moving landscape before your ever-widening gaze. Partners provide an interesting catalyst for your own inner exploration that has taken you into some very deep and far down places already in the weeks and even months preceding this current one. You have a creative tension available to you now that takes inner presence into outer achievement almost without conscious effort. Your intuitional inspiration descends from angel guidance and grows easier to understand with each fresh experience of insight.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 17) Your metamorphosis continues, Aquarius. This has been a season of adjustment with multiple levels of progress, and yet your changes are not complete. This month represents another dip into the transformational tide, rushing through you toward an unknown endpoint, subtly molding and fluffing you in the direction that the cosmos seems to want your life to take. There is a call from deep inside, and you feel that you must heed it, or else falter and remain floating the shallows. This is along the lines of a different and more personal educational experience than anything that has come before. Your future orientation is summoned to a higher responsibility than the mundane task list. This sense of your mission of learning and spiritual growth that has overtaken you is more profound, and will eventually lead you out of your current conundrums and into greater clarity of purpose.
PISCES (Feb. 18-March 19) This is another quite interesting monthly cycle for you, Pisces, in regard to your ongoing changes, still incomplete. Each passing day you better hone in on what exactly you are up to. Your matrix of connection to friends and to your social setting has been long evolving, and future plans are similarly transforming as you come to a place of soul-level intentionality. Your idea of what lies ahead suddenly depends for its guiding principle on what makes you feel good inside. The mundane daily run of events become, through another way of looking at things, of sacred portent. Being out in the world has served you well lately, and yet you find that the accolades of the marketplace only represent one part of the story; these fade to meaninglessness unless they allow you to make an all-important connection to Spirit inside you.
Henry Seltzer, transformational astrologer and creator of the TimePassages astrology software, is based in Santa Cruz, California. An extended look at this month’s star signs and a variety of astrology reports are available on his website. His new book is about Eris, the planet discovered in 2006, beyond Pluto. It is entitled: The Tenth Planet: Revelations from the Astrological Eris.
Look for it this Spring. Henry also offers life enhancing private astrological counseling. Call him at 831-425-3686, or visit his website: www.astrograph.com.
The Everyday Witch
An excerpt from Everyday Witchcraft
by Deborah Blake
I like to call myself the everyday Witch, and you’ll see that reflected in a number of my book titles, like Everyday Witch Book of Rituals or Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook. Even The Goddess Is in the Details is subtitled Wisdom
for the Everyday Witch.
So what does that mean, the everyday Witch?
Two things, really.
For one thing, I’m just an everyday Witch. Nothing fancy or special. I don’t lead a major coven and haven’t started my own Witchcraft movement that has grown to encompass many, like Christopher Penczak or Raymond Buckland or Z. Budapest. (All folks I admire and respect. But I’m so not in that class—I’m not a professional Witch who teaches thousands and is known all over the world. I’m just little ol’ me.)
I lead a predominantly average life. A tad unconventional compared to some, maybe, since I’m a writer and craftsperson and run a shop full of artists, all of which allows me to be more open about my witchy leanings than some people might be able to be. But still, I am much like most other people: I work, I take care of my little farmhouse in the country, and I get bossed around by cats on a daily basis.
A few people might know me from my books, but, for the most part, I’m just an everyday Witch. Much like almost any other Witch you might meet, I’m a woman trying to juggle the responsibilities and obligations of daily life while at the same time attempting to better myself and be the best “me” I can be.
The other meaning of the term “everyday Witch” has to do with my commitment to walking my talk every day. I like to think that I am a Witch all day, every day, instead of just during the time of the full moons or during the eight sabbats. This is usually reflected in small things, not large ones. I do a bit of kitchen alchemy in the morning when I make my breakfast hot chocolate, mixing mundane ingredients with magickal intentions. I greet the gods briefly when I wake up and thank them before I fall asleep. I try to live as green a life as possible because, to me, taking care of the earth is part of being a Witch, too. Nothing big or complicated, as you can see; just integrating my beliefs into my regular life—an everyday Witch.
Most of the Witches I talk to would like to be everyday Witches, too. Not everyone, of course—plenty of folks are perfectly happy to only focus on their spiritual nature eight or thirteen or so times a year, and that’s just fine. As long as that’s the kind of practice that suits them, I think that’s great. But for many, it isn’t that they don’t want to be everyday Witches, it’s more a matter of how. They don’t know how to find the time and space and energy in the midst of their busy lives, or they can’t figure out how to integrate their spiritual path with the rest of their world without having to chase down exotic ingredients, go through complicated and drawn-out rituals, or explain to the neighbors why they’re dancing naked on the lawn. (Kidding about that last one. Mostly.)
This book is written by me, an everyday Witch, for all those who would also like to be everyday Witches. Just people who live their lives and happen to be Pagan. The naked dancing is optional.
Daily Practice Many spiritual paths include some form of daily practice. Buddhism, for instance, encourages meditation as well as a general attitude of mindfulness. Some religions focus more on daily prayer or saying grace before each meal as a way of giving thanks. Some have prayer beads or rosaries. Devout Muslims kneel in prayer multiple times a day. But these practices tend to be limited to the most devoted followers, and not everyone follows them. Traditionally, modern Witchcraft hasn’t really had any guidelines for daily practice, and people often have trouble coming up with something on their own. I’d been trying for years to integrate some form of daily practice into my spiritual path when I came across a wonderful book called The Circle Within: Creating a Wiccan Spiritual Tradition by Dianne Sylvan. The author advocated a commonsense approach to finding the daily practice that was right for you, and reading her book made me take a new look at what I’d been doing. Mostly, my mistake had been of the “square peg, round hole” variety. I’d come up with all sorts of complicated or time-consuming daily practices when what I really needed was something quick and easy. Now I have a few daily practices, all of which help me connect with deity and my own Witchcraft path, and none of which take more than a few minutes to perform. In the morning, before I even get out of bed (often before I open my eyes), I greet the gods and ask them for their assistance through the course of my day.
Here’s what I usually say (and if you want to use this as part of your daily practice, substitute whatever words work for you):
God and Goddess, I greet you at the start of another day and ask that you send me the best day possible. Help me to feel my best so I might do my best for myself and for others. Send me the strength and energy to do the things I need to do, and the focus and creativity to do them well. Help me to let go of all those things that no longer work for my benefit so I might move in the direction of perfect health and perfect balance. Please send me prosperity and healing, patience and wisdom, serenity and faith.* Guide me as I walk the path of the author; help me to write rapidly, easily, and well, and let my words please those who read them. Keep my cats healthy and safe, help the world move in a better direction, and watch over me and those I love. So mote it be. * The things I ask for vary from day to day, depending on what is going on in my life. For instance, if I have an important event, I might ask for it to go well. If I am going to get some sort of healing work done, like visiting the acupuncturist or chiropractor, I might ask for the work to be helpful and long lasting. Obviously, you would tailor this to whatever works best for you. After I have turned off the light at night, I always say thank you to the gods for my day. There are some things I always thank them for, and then I add the people and events that have been particularly important that day. I often give thanks for stuff that might seem unpleasant or negative if I feel as though I have learned something from it or if I think something good might come from it down the road. (For instance, when someone rear-ended my brand-new car, I gave thanks that the damage was minimal, no one was hurt, and that the first boo-boo was out of the way without it being my fault!) Remember that you can change the words to suit your own needs, and that there are always different things to give thanks for. The important part of doing this as a part of your daily ritual is that not only does it show the gods that you are taking an attitude of gratitude (always a good thing, in my opinion), but it also forces you to find something about your day to be grateful for, no matter how small it is. I am always surprised to find that there is more to say thank you for than I would have expected. Here is an example of what I might say last thing at night: Great Goddess, Great God, I come before you at the end of another day and thank you for the many blessings in my life. For friends and family and cats, for home and health and good food. I thank you for (the names of whichever people crossed my path that day in meaningful ways) and for (whatever good things happened or whichever not-so-great things they helped me survive). Please help me to get a good night’s sleep so I might wake in the morning refreshed and energized and ready to face another day. Watch over me and those I love. So mote it be. There are a few other things that I try to do daily, including meditation, some form of mindful exercise, and lighting a candle and saying a spell or a prayer. I don’t always manage it, though. What I do always manage is to find a minute to appreciate nature, whether it is a beautiful sunrise, the mist rising off the meadow next to my house, the song of the birds outside my window, or the sound of the rain. Those things only take a moment, and they lift my heart every time. These, too, are ways to practice Witchcraft, since we are a nature-based religion. Here are some suggestions for easy, fast ways to integrate a daily practice into your life. Choose the ones that work best for you, and create your own personal daily rituals. Start the Day You don’t have to use my approach to starting the day; there are plenty of other ways to begin a new day with a spiritual touch.
• Greet the Goddess and/or God in your own way. Or say: Lord and Lady, I greet thee. Bless my path on this new day, and watch over me as I walk it to the best of my ability. • Greet the dawn or the new sun. Use your own words or say: I greet you, new day! I greet the dawn! I greet the sun! I greet the earth below and the sky above! Blessings upon the day!
• Light a candle each morning on an altar. (If you will be leaving the house to go to work, you might want to light the candle, say something, then snuff it out right away so you don’t have to worry about forgetting it.) You can say whatever words are in your heart that morning or use one of the greetings above. Or you can say this: With this light, I greet the new day. (See? It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.)
• Ask the gods or the universe for help with any issues you might be having. You can say something like this: At the start of this new day, I ask for help with ________________ and vow to do my very best with what I am given.
• Take a moment of silence to listen to the world around you before diving into the noise and bustle of the day. Listen to the sounds inside your home: maybe people or animals stirring, maybe just the ticking of a clock…maybe nothing at all, which is a gift in and of itself. Listen to the sounds from outside: birds, the wind, rain, the sound of traffic or people going by. Feel the connection you have with the rest of the world, and give yourself that moment to be quiet before diving into your busy day. If you want, say a few words to the gods—they can hear you even when you don’t speak out loud. (This is an especially good daily routine for those who can’t practice openly.)
• Read an affirmation or an inspiring passage, either from a book or from something you have written down ahead of time. (Multiple lists of books can be found at the end of this book, or use your own favorites.)
• Write in a journal. Taking a few moments to be present with your own thoughts, and writing down your hopes and dreams, can be a helpful part of a spiritual journey.
• Take a walk outside and commune with nature. There is nothing like connecting with the gods and the world outside by taking a morning walk, especially if you are lucky enough to have someplace quiet and peaceful to do so, like a park or a country road. Maybe leave the music at home and simply listen to the sounds around you. As a bonus, you get exercise, too!
To me, one of the most important components of a Pagan path is connection: connection with the gods, with nature, with each other, with our own inner voices. If you can start your day off by making that connection, it is like giving a gift to your spiritual self!
Reprinted with permission by Llewellyn
Purchase this book online at: http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738742182
In the Company of Sages
by Greg Bogart
Choosing a Teacher
Finding the Lineage and Qualities that Speak to Your Path
Meeting a teacher can impact us so powerfully that we’re seized by a desire to change our lives and embrace the quest for mystical realization. When Rumi, a highly respected scholar, met his teacher Shams of Tabriz, Shams took a book Rumi was writing about philosophy and threw it into a well. Rumi became an ecstatic devotee of Shams and abandoned all else, including scholarship and family responsibilities. After finding a teacher a person may begin to undergo a noticeable transformation and change of habits and lifestyle. One may experience deeper meditations or feel a blissful energy or an opening of the heart, the kindling of an inner fire. Rumi said:
What draws Friends together
does not conform to Laws of Nature.
Form doesn’t know about spiritual closeness. . . .
A hand shifts our birdcages around.
Some are brought closer. Some move apart.
Do not try to reason it out. Be conscious
of who draws you and who not.
A common experience after meeting a teacher is for everything in our lives to fall apart. In the Koran it is said, “I am with those whose hearts are broken for My sake.” Old interests fall away, and old friendships become less compelling as a seeker turns toward the path of spiritual awakening. The disciples of the Indian guru Ramakrishna underwent a profound transformation as a result of their contact with their saintly master. Many were filled with a feverish devotion and burning for enlightenment. Many of them renounced worldly life soon after Ramakrishna’s death and became monks committed to pursuing Self-realization.
We accept a teacher who inspires us to attain the enlightened state through meditation, yoga, and other consciousness-enhancing practices. In deep meditation, the mind quiets down and awareness turns inward, becoming self-reflective, becoming aware of itself as awareness. The diligent practitioner experiences the growth of tranquility, contentment, and wisdom. In Buddhist terms, meditation reveals our dharmakaya nature–the truth body, the pure mind, like a clear mirror. In the Hindu tradition this is known as realization of the Self or Atman, which is one with Brahman, the Absolute.
We need a teacher not only to teach us techniques and doctrine but also to embody the enlightened state, so that we can recognize it in ourselves and attain it. We may also choose a teacher to learn a particular method such as meditation, yoga, or shamanic journeying. Even in cases where a teacher isn’t a fully enlightened Buddha, sage, or siddha guru, we could still grow by studying with that person for a period of time–if the teacher seems clear and balanced and we feel confident that this person can guide us effectively through a stage of our transformation. It’s enough that the teacher embodies a quality of freedom that we wish to emulate.
Teachers appear in many guises. When I met my hatha yoga teacher, Allan Bateman, in 1979, I found that he was quite an unusual individual. Self-taught in yoga, Allan looked like a muscle-bound jock. He moved around his studio in a bikini, sang opera arias, and held in the palm of his hand an enormous cat named Godzilla, who lay on his back stretching out his paws in a magnificent backbend, in full spinal extension. Allan bragged modestly about this and that, and talked about his cattle ranch upstate where he had a herd of Beefalo. I learned so much yoga from this man, I didn’t care if he was some great pundit or intellectual. He wasn’t trying to be saintly. He used his body in his teaching. He was very graceful and respectful and supportive of intelligent movement. He was a free and sexy guy, very confident, and a positive male role model.
John Welwood, author of Awakening the Heart, notes, “Since genuine spiritual teachers come in many different shapes and forms, we’ll no doubt fail if we try to spell out how a good guru should behave.” David Frawley, founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies, echoes this view, saying, “Great gurus may be saints with impeccable characters and lifestyles. However, they may also look like madmen and refuse to conform to any social norms. Society may consider them scoundrels.” We shouldn’t accept a teacher just because everybody else says this is an enlightened sage; nor should we immediately reject all teachers who don’t conform to our expectations or conceptions of holiness. The teacher doesn’t have to be famous, or an impoverished ascetic, or surrounded by important disciples. What’s important is that the teacher’s personal example inspires us, the teacher’s words speak to us deeply, and the teacher’s presence affects us intensely. The guide shows us glimpses of the goal of the spiritual journey, as well as a path we can follow to reach this goal.
In this book we’ll consider how spiritual teachers have been described in a number of world religions. From the insights derived from these traditions, we’ll reach a number of conclusions:
1. Spiritual apprenticeship begins with a personal relationship with a teacher who tangibly affects our awareness and inspires us to practice a contemplative discipline in order to attain enlightenment.
2. Initiation connects the student to the influence of a spiritual lineage that transcends the individual teacher.
3. The student-teacher relationship involves the mutual meditation of the student and teacher upon one another, and may entail the deliberate cultivation of a form of psychic merger or unity that can have a transformative effect upon the student.
4. The relationship may involve experiences of grace in which the teacher functions as a conduit for transmission of transpersonal forces.
When choosing a guide, proceed with care. It’s important to take sufficient time to examine the teacher’s character and note any internal changes that occur as a result of contact with this being. A powerful inner shift of consciousness after meeting a teacher signals us to seek further contact and instruction.Author bio:
Greg Bogart, Ph.D., MFT, is a psychotherapist in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a lecturer in psychology at Sonoma State University, a teacher at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and the author of numerous books on astrology, dreams, yoga, and spiritual depth psychology.
The Science and Practice of Humility
by Jason Gregory
The Way of the Warrior and Path of the Sage
The structure of consciousness is broken down into three planes that build the fabric of reality–physical, mental, and spiritual. Consciousness is not only the foundation of the universe, but it is the whole universe. In discovering this we come to the question of which plane is the truth? If all is consciousness, could one level be more truthful than the others? We could say that those who dwell within the physical and mental planes or body-mind state are under the spell of the deluded mind and do not know their true selves nor their place within the universe. While those on the spiritual plane know who they really are, know their relationship to the universe, and can see reality as it truly is through the evolution of perception. Although one state knows the truth of evolution and the other is still a slave to the ego, the fact is they are both the truth–all levels are needed to make up what we call existence. Without the contrast of the mundane, we could not see harmony. To perceive harmony you need the intrinsic parts that make up the formation of what you see.
The fundamental truth does not lay in the levels of consciousness but in awareness itself. The individual who truly sees the world has had an overwhelming transformation. So when we mention truth we are not referring to one level as better than another but to an understanding of the correct way to see the totality of existence through consciousness. And the holy sage’s perception is a mirror reflection of how the universe is; this is called the “evolution of perception.” The way in which the universe moves in its flow and patterned harmony is within our consciousness as well. We either know this or we don’t. The way we see the world holds us to what “is” and “isn’t.”
Two Primary States of Awareness
A human has two primary states of awareness or modes of Being–those who are drawn into the daily dramas of life and those who have the elevated perspective of seeing a fractal harmony within all life. These two states of awareness run parallel with the conscious state of the false ego and the true self. The ego perceives the fine detail of reality. Like a microscope, the ego focuses on very tiny matters of life but then mistakenly builds its psychology around these insignificant situations. On the other hand, the true-self is a state of consciousness so pure that it constantly sees that life is pattern. In this state one can visualize the unfolding universe. This state of awareness is a mind of no deliberation, a mind that does not attach itself to any circumstance or thought–past, present, or future. The true self is one who dwells within the spiritual plane and knows the soul vibrations, hence the evolution of perception. The state of consciousness we are referring to here is associated with the teachers of eternity, while the state of consciousness of the ego caught in the details is referred to as the masses or the profane.
In all levels of life we find the teacher and student relationship–parent and child, teacher and student, or the most mysterious of all, the master and disciple. Both primary states of awareness are reflected in this immutable relationship between master and disciple. Disciples are still deluded by the mind, whereas masters know the totality of their own Being. In the great work of eternity these two modes of Being are known as the warrior and the sage. Evidence of these two modes are found throughout ancient scriptures and mystical stories, most notably in the Vedantic treatises of the Bhagavad Gita and Ribhu Gita (or Song of Ribhu). In both classics the warriors are suffering from their own minds and blights within this world. As they begin to question their minds, out of nowhere the guidance of the sage appears. The whole process in both scriptures is to take the warrior’s mode of perception out of the details of life into the vision of the divine. The Bhagavad Gita demonstrates this as Krishna, the sage, is attempting to move the warrior Arjuna’s awareness out of the daily mundane struggles of life into the vision of Brahman so that he might see the infinite in all things. Texts 31, 32, and 33 of the Bhagavad Gita state:
When a sensible man ceases to see different identities due to different material bodies and he sees how beings are expanded everywhere, he attains to the Brahman conception.
Those with the vision of eternity can see that the imperishable soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled.
The sky, due to its subtle nature, does not mix with anything, although it is all-pervading. Similarly, the soul situated in Brahman vision does not mix with the body, though situated in that body.
Through the awareness of a warrior and a sage either chaos or order descends upon Earth, but again it’s a matter of perception. Throughout time one of the biggest problems to plague this planet has been the fostering of the warrior’s consciousness and the continual suppression of the sage’s consciousness. There is no one to blame for this other than ourselves. Our obstinate refusal to look within ourselves to find the true problems in our world has allowed us to further justify our own habitual ways that are slowly killing the human species. For us to ward off this fate we really need to grasp where our awareness is rooted. To do this we need to explore the characteristics of a warrior and a sage.
Jason Gregory is a teacher and international speaker specializing in the fields of Eastern and Western philosophy, comparative religion, metaphysics, and ancient cultures. For several years he studied with masters in Buddhism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Hinduism, and Taoism, traveling to some of the most remote places in the world. The filmmaker of the documentary The Sacred Sound of Creation, he divides his time between Asia and Australia.
Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com
The Pleiadian House of Initiation
by Mary T. Beben
Excerpt from Chapter Eleven
Ten years passed between the day I met Grandmother Spider in the hallway on the third floor of the Pleiadian mansion (when I thought I was about to discover more of the marvelous fourth level but instead was catapulted into the deepest dive of my life) and the time I began to recover and re-enter my life. At that point I felt as though I could go on and live a productive life again, but it seemed to me as if I had been permanently broken in some unrecoverable way. I felt my age more than ever before–I was seventy-four and did not believe there was much of life left to me. Still, I could smile again and enjoy family and friends. And then . . .
. . . I died.
In January of 2012 I contracted a sudden and very pernicious pneumonia in both lungs. I was hospitalized for seven full days in a state of weakness and illness that frightened my family and worried the doctors. I was not as aware of the seriousness of my state as they were, although I knew I was very sick. During the first hours after being placed into bed in the hospital room I went through the death experience that I will attempt to describe. I must truthfully say that none of the attending staff were aware I had actually passed over the line. It must have been very brief in linear time, but what I experienced was rather long and terrifying.
I did not see any lights or tunnels or friendly beings, as is so often the report of those who have had NDEs. Instead I was taken to hell while still alive. This part of the journey was real beyond tolerance and unendurable. Other than the illness I felt no physical pain, but I was immersed in scenes of unbearable cruelty of one human being or more to other humans. I was unable to turn away or shut my eyes, even though I’m sure my physical eyes were closed in the hospital bed. No matter how I prayed and pleaded not to have to see, I was exposed to up-close scenes of the most bestial horrors. Over and over again I retched as the brutality could not be endured. What made the events so terrible was the fact that I knew beyond question that these were not imaginary scenes from a movie or from some distant memories but were actual happenings on Earth right then–happening in the moment right before my eyes. I cannot prove this statement, of course, but there was no doubt or thought of any kind except that I was witnessing a reality, not a dream.
After what seemed a full day and a half, this mercifully ended. I was then taken by what felt like two winged beings to a place that at first I did not recognize. Although I had never read a real description of this place, I soon understood that it was the River Styx and I was about to have my life entirely extinguished. The winged beings were holding me by my head and feet and were lowering me toward the repulsive swamp. I could see immediately that there was no coming back from this place of decay. It was a sluggish, yellow mud, not a river as I would have pictured from mythology books. It was just liquid enough to gurgle slightly as it barely moved, and the stench of sulfur was overwhelming. It looked like nothing so much as putrefied matter that would be toxic even to breathe. I was inches away from it and about to be dropped in.
Some observing function in me was still operating and this part was totally mystified by the situation and by my own behavior. For I was not struggling or fighting it in any way. The observer was thinking: “This is not how God would have me die, surely!” It made no sense that I would die and lose everything I had worked for in my whole life. I could see that there was no resurrection of any kind possible after this. Yet the other part of me just yielded to the choice and said, “Oh well, if this is how it is . . .” right before I was totally blotted out.
As I began to recover from the pneumonia and eventually left the hospital, I distinctly remembered this extremely real episode but did not understand what it was. It took weeks and then more weeks as I began to understand the momentous thing that had happened. I did not tell the doctors about it because I was very puzzled about it myself. Little by little, the facts sorted themselves out as I realized it was another spiritual experience of transformation. This seems to have been, for me, the definitive experience of leaving behind all broken-ness, all past history, all sense of a former life, and beginning life in the Eternal Now. I have come back from death itself to bring my message of what one knows after passing over. And that leads us right back into the marvelous mansion.
Since my dip into the River Styx, a new life has taken over my entire being. It has been sixteen months since then, and shortly after this experience I was finally admitted farther into the fourth level of the mansion in the Pleiades. There is where I discovered trunks overflowing with the fabric of creation. I have received almost constant guidance about the way we shall build the Earth together, using our own chaos to weave the future. It only needs sorting and dedicated weaving to create anew from what the Earth has provided.
I have learned that fear is absolutely useless and that everything can be worked out from this higher level.
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The Pleiadian House of Initiation by Mary T. Beben © 2014 Bear & Company. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com
Parenting With Authenticity
By Dr. Marta Adelsman
I grew up with parents who played roles. My father wore the commander-in-chief mask, using orders and threats to try to control my sister and me. My mother played the consoler. Rarely did they reveal the real person behind the roles.
You probably saw your parents play roles, too, and those roles became the model for what a parent “ought” to be. Later, if you had children, you slipped easily into the mold of that “ought.”
As perceptive little people, your children know when you play a role. They see right through your inauthenticity. Since they don’t know how to talk about their perceptions and their feelings, they let you know you’re being inauthentic by misbehaving. You, their teachers or your friends may label them as “sassy,” “trouble-makers,” or “disobedient.” They push your buttons and, just when you want them to behave and make you look good, they embarrass you in front of your friends. Can you tell I’ve been there?
A wise parent will learn from the feedback provided by their children’s misbehavior. When you can see their acting out as a mirror for your own lack of authenticity, you have taken a big step toward becoming more authentic.
How do you drop the roles you play with your children? You relate from your humanness. You let them know your real feelings, thoughts, doubts, joys and insecurities. You become an authentic teacher, modeling for your children how to tell the truth.
One day my oldest son, Aaron (then 12), became irate that I had allowed his youngest brother, Paul, to get away with something. “Mom!” he protested, shaking with anger and red in the face. “If that were me, I would have gotten into deep trouble!”
I recalled how, before I transformed my parenting, I had sometimes treated him harshly. I responded authentically: “You’re right,” I confessed. “You’re our firstborn, which means we’ve never done this parenting thing before, and we’re learning on you. I know I don’t always get it right. I’m sorry you got caught in my lack of experience, and I’m really sorry I treated you harshly before I knew better.”
I saw Aaron’s anger drain out of him. My confession of imperfection made me more human in his eyes, and he could identify. Other authentic confessions might sound like: “I feel terrible when I yell at you.” “I don’t know the answer to your question.” “Sometimes the choices you make scare me.”
“If I talk like that, my child will never respect me!” you say. On the contrary, if you express your emotions and tell on your insecurities, you give your child permission to do the same and he will respect you more. Be willing to look deeply at yourself to become authentic with you. As you shine that authenticity onto your children, you will reap huge benefits of mutual respect.
Dr. Marta practices in the Verde Valley of Arizona as a Life Coach in Communication & Spiritual Consciousness. She earned a doctorate in Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and received her Life Coach training from The Institute for Global Listening and Communication. She is the author of Why Wallow When You Can Soar? firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 928-451-9482.
The Greatest Kan and Li Formulas
By Mantak Chia
All methods end in quietness. This marvelous magic cannot be fathomed. But when the practice is started, one must press on from the obvious to the profound, from the coarse to the fine . . .and the end of the practice must be “one.”
Below find a list of the methods passed down from Master Yi Eng. While it has been important to keep the integrity of these meditations in terms of their order, components, and goals, there is a degree of flexibility for the adept. This applies more so to the experienced practitioner practicing solo. Here one cannot only vary the order but can either skip formulas or only partially complete one before moving on to another. The continual theme of this text is to initially learn the formulas as originally taught but then to be flexible with them and allow one’s meditation to be fluid and spontaneous. All the formulas start with the gross or a fragment and take us to the fine and the whole. Each method will ultimately blend in with the others according to your unique personality and history.
Connecting to the Two Poles Stars
Coupling in the Heart
Alignment of the Three Triangles
Connection with the Cranium and Parts of the Brain
Connecting with the Stems and Branches
Pulsate Heart with Aorta (Sun) and Vena Cava (Moon)
Moment of Emptiness
Macrocosmic Constellation Meditation
Gathering the Lesser Medicine
Birth of the Spiritual Infant
Turning the Wheel
Connecting to the Two Poles Stars
(Activating the Cranial and Sacral Pumps)
This technique helps to open the crown by vibrating the bones at the sutures with micropressure and to project the pearl/soul/spirit. It has been found that when one holds the breath, the skull vibrates, thus loosening the bones, making it possible to open the crown for the egress of the spirit. Basically, the procedure assists in activating the Cranial and Sacral Pumps.
This principle is similar to Greater Kan and Li, when we connect beyond self by spiraling through the crown and the feet (perineum) and setting up vertical and earthly flight. However this time we extend beyond the earth and the imagined solar system to connect to the Pole Stars, both the North Star, Polaris, above the Crown for those in the Northern Hemisphere and Polaris Australis for Southern Hemisphere practitioners.
Connecting to the Pole Star above the Crown
1. Form another pearl and settle it in the perineum.
2. Move the pearl in the Microcosmic Orbit and let it gather momentum.
3. Slow it down and let it rest in the crown.
4. Activate the cranial pump (look up, clench the teeth and jaw, sink chin and sternum, clench the fists, tighten the buttocks, and pull up the sexual organ).
5. Exhale and shoot the pearl through the crown, extending the pearl many body lengths above you.
6. Swallow saliva upward as you feel the earth force come up to you.
7. Exhale and completely relax any muscles you have tensed. You must be able to totally release all body tension so that the chi can flow easily through the pumps and throughout the body. Work toward activating these pumps through structural alignment and mental focus only.
8. Draw the yang energy from the Pole Star into the Crystal Room and other tan tiens. Merge this experience with that of the third eye.
Connecting to the Pole Star beneath the Earth
1. Shoot the pearl down the legs, many body lengths into the ground and then beyond the earth to the Pole Star beneath. Connect with its more yin nature.
2. Create a pakua around the pearl.
3. Extend the thrusting routes and belt routes to the bodies in and beneath the earth.
4. Gather in the middle of the toes and the tan tiens and gather to the mid-eyebrow. One may then merge the third eye with the earth plane experience.
Goals for connecting to the Pole Stars: The first goal for this practice is to extend consciousness beyond self. This is in keeping with our broad concept of the “Wu Wei experience” whereby to perceive “nothing” one must first embrace “entirety.”
The second goal is to assist in alignment of the body whereby all the forces are in unison and working together. This can be seen from a perspective of the earth force in alignment with the heavenly force and the body’s internal energies. An alternative framework is that the resident spirits within the body are in harmony. The spirit that exists above the crown (Highest Soul) along with the Dragon spirit can work to reach the Pole Star above. The Earth Soul beneath the feet along with the Tiger spirit extends consciousness to the opposite Pole Star. The spirits in the head, heart, abdomen, and behind the knees all serve to align the body with these vertical forces.
The third goal is to receive pure energies from the Pole Star. As early as the Han era they believed the Pole Star encompassed the “unitive” experience. Ge Hong says, “The One resides at the North Pole . . .Dragons and Tigers are lined up on guard.” In the Universal Healing Tao the Pole Star not only is the “gateway” to an experience of the “one” but also emits a violet healing light that has a remarkable healing effect and a specific resonance with the bones of the body. The Pole Star beneath is usually felt as more yin.
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Greatest Kan and Li by Mantak Chia and Andrew Jan. © 2014 Destiny Books. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com
Author bios: Mantak Chia, world-famous Inner Alchemy and Chi Kung master, founded the Universal Healing Tao System in 1979. He has taught and certified tens of thousands of students and instructors from all over the world and is the author of more than 50 books, including The Taoist Soul Body and Chi Self-Massage. Andrew Jan is a senior instructor for the Universal Healing Tao and former Australian National Tai Chi Champion. The coauthor with Master Chia of Tai Chi Fa Jin, Tai Chi Wu Style, and The Practice of Greater Kan and Li, he lives near Perth, Australia.
5 Ways to Give off a Positive Vibe at Home, Work and Play
By Sherry Blair
Have you ever been around someone that gives off a negative vibe? Oftentimes being around someone who is negative can make us feel negative as well. Our demeanor, attitude and mood affect not only us, but others around us. Those who give off a positive vibe often times are happier, more connected with others, and have a brighter outlook on life. A general rule of thumb for being happy in life is to surround yourself with positive people. Positive people make you feel more positive! Sherry Blair, CEO of ISIS Innovative Specialists Inspirational Services, shares her thoughts on bringing positivity to your life.
“Surrounding yourself with negative people is only going to make you negative. I truly believe that happy people are friends with other happy people! Think about what would happen if you got a promotion; it wouldn’t be fun to share your success with a negative friend. They would end up taking away your happy! Positive people will always cheer for your successes,” says Sherry Blair.
If you feel like you can sometimes give off a negative vibe, it’s time to turn that frown upside down! Here are five ways to give off a positive vibe at home, work and play:
If you aren’t smiling right now, start. Too often people are not smiling. The more you smile, the happier you will feel. Why? Because! Everyone wants to be around the girl or guy who is always smiling and happy; it’s infectious. Starting today, smile at the cashier that rings you out, smile when meeting someone new, and smile just because!
Smiling and laughing go hand and hand. The more you laugh, even if forced, the happier you will feel. If you laugh enough, eventually it stops feeling forced and starts being genuine. If you find something even remotely funny, laugh. You’ll find that laughing feels good!
3) Choose Positivity
If you have a clear intention to increase your positivity, then tweaking just a few minor communications each day can have a major impact with your friends, co-workers and family members.
4) Celebrate others
Have you ever had a friend that loves to tell you about all the great things going on in her life, but never wants to listen to all the things in yours? These kinds of friends are not positive ones to be around! Since you don’t like when someone does that to you, don’t do it to others! When a friend shares an accomplishment, celebrate it! Your friends will start to notice that you are always so positive about the ups and downs in their lives and will appreciate you for it.
5) Say more positive words
What we say plays a big role in how we are perceived. If you are always saying “no” or, “that doesn’t work”, you aren’t going to come off as being a warm, positive person. Work on saying more positive words in your day-to-day life. Phrases like “thank you”, “I love you”, and “I agree” are all positive ways to communicate.
Note to the media: Sherry Blair is a popular media expert and can speak on any topics related to positive living and mental health. To schedule an interview with Sherry Blair, contact Tasha Mayberry, Director Public Relations at email@example.com or call 207.317.6099.
About Sherry Blair Sherry Blair is the CEO of ISIS Innovative Specialists Inspirational Services, where she inspires and motivates others by applying and encouraging Positive Psychology. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Board Certified Professional Counselor and Diplomate Professional Coach, Sherry teaches at University of California’s Graduate School of Social Work and is the author of several books. The positivity coach teaches others to speak from their hearts in synergy with their minds to achieve results and resolve conflict. Visit Sherry online at www.isisnj.us.
By Joanne Brocas
Angels are celestial beings that radiate divine light and work on behalf of their creator God for the greater good of mankind. Angelic beings also assist in managing and maintaining order within the universe, and this involves the intervention of different ranks of angels who are attributed divine knowledge and wisdom, divine power, and who have specific divine roles and tasks given to them by God. It is because of the differing knowledge and power awarded to the angels that we have what is known as the angelic or celestial hierarchy. It is said that there are nine choirs of angels, which are also divided into three distinct orders or spheres. The angels closest to God will have more divine knowledge, wisdom, and power bestowed on them than the orders directly ranked below them, thus the hierarchy is formed. Each distinct order and each individual choir have specific tasks and divine roles and all choirs carry out the will of God.
How to Communicate with Angels
As angels are spiritual beings you interact with them in subtle intuitive ways, which are non-physical. Everyone is intuitive and the more self-aware you become, then the stronger your natural intuition becomes. It is much easier than you may think to sense, hear, and see the angels around you. However, if you are waiting for physical evidence of the angels around you as proof of their existence, then you may be waiting a very long time and you will miss out on the loving guidance of the angelic realm because you will naturally block all other avenues of communication. The angels are able to and are happy to bring you certain signs as “tangible evidence” that they are around you; such as a white feather, a butterfly or a reference to angels by others etc. but they “will not” appear in physical form, or speak to you in a direct physical sounding voice just to satisfy your desire for proof of their existence. To be able to spiritually sense, see, and hear the angels through your intuitive nature you simply need to relax your body and energy field and ignite your faith and belief that your guardian angel is by your side.
So how do you know if you are sensing, hearing, and seeing angels if they are typically unseen? Sensing the angels is very subtle but it will evoke a calm feeling within your nervous system, you can also have the sensation of feeling safe and secure, and you may have a physical sensation of body warmth when the angels are near. You can also feel overly joyous or instantly uplifted when you sense the angels around you. Simply ask your guardian angel to surround you with their loving energy so that you can “feel/sense them.” The touch of angelic energy on your own vibration is very uplifting and healing. Seeing the angels will also be very subtle and will work through your intuitive mind and imagination. You may have a mental picture and quick glimpse within your mind of what your guardian angel looks like, or you may even see your guardian angel within your dream state. You can also use the art of meditation to intuitively see what your guardian angel looks like. You may see sparkles of light, different colors of light, or a human looking angel with white wings. Let your imagination roam free and your creative mind will activate your desire to see what the angels look like as they will impress their image within your imagination.
Hearing the angels will again be very subtle and so much so that you can often feel like you are making it all up. The angels will work through your mental energy by filtering angelic guidance through your own thought process. The thoughts will always be positive, uplifting, healing, and inspiring when they are angelic in nature. Angels love to whisper their helpful guidance to us in the hope that we will listen. We have free will to pay attention and choose our own paths, but when you ask for help from a higher power, then the angels will work in co-creation with you and God, and you will be aligned with a power that is far greater than yourself alone. Faith and belief in a higher power are the key ingredients to help you activate powerful spiritual assistance within your life. God’s holy angels can and will help you in all your ways, and all you need to do is to remember to Ask!