About what matters

Writing about what really matters

Category: In nature

A bit of natural magic

Retreat 2

I’ve just returned from several days at a SoulCollage retreat, and I’m feeling relaxed and mellow. There’s no telling what kind of outrageous thing you could say to me right now, and still get a very mild response.

We each had our own cabins, and mine was a little extra hike away on an adjacent property. The first night I walked back at dusk, about 9 pm, and was surrounded by flashing fireflies–a bit of natural magic, and something I never see at home.

There were lots of beautiful wildflowers, fresh air, a bit of rain, grasshoppers that rose up on black wings as I walked down the path to the road, invisible as rolled leaves when they settled again.

It’s good to get away.

This post is illustrated by one of the SoulCollage® cards I made this past week, Retreat.

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

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We have the wisdom

Earth Day

This is the SoulCollage® card I made in honor of Earth Day in response to this challenge. I’ve called it We have the wisdom because I truly believe that we humans, who are in the process of destroying this planet as a habitat suitable for our own species–as well as many others–have the wisdom to reverse that process. We know what doesn’t work, and therefore what we need to do. I believe love and wisdom are stronger than greed and machismo, but there can be no doubt that decisive action is needed to ensure they win.

Pictured on the card are several environmental activists. Dr. Jane Goodall is well known for her work as a primatologist. Today, at 80, she travels 300 days a year advocating for her beloved chimpanzees and the environment. Her Roots & Shoots program aims to educate the youngest generation about the environment.

The women in the middle are Pershlie Ami, a Hopi elder, and Mary Lyons, an Ojibwe elder, at the 2014 People’s Climate March, where 400,000 people participated. It seems pretty clear to me that had we American settlers followed the aboriginal example in only one respect, considering the seventh generation in every decision, it’s unlikely we would be facing a climate crisis today.

On the right is Tim DeChristopher, 33, who served 21 months in prison for bidding $1.8 million he didn’t have on 14 parcels of land around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah in a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction. He attended the auction as a protester, not planning to bid, and was inspired to bid as the auction proceeded. The leases were later canceled, and the 14 parcels of land remain unexploited. While in prison, he was accepted to Harvard Divinity School. His website, bidder70.org, is named for his paddle number.

At the bottom of the card is a Spirit Bear in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia.

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

Listen

Listen

“Listen” has been a recurring theme for me during meditation for probably the past couple of weeks now.

Listen … all is well. Listen … important. It’s important that you hear what we have to say–we can help you.

Listen–you will hear. Guidance, truth. Much you already know yourself.

Listen–that is the theme. Listen to guidance.

So today I thought I’d make a SoulCollage card to represent this theme.

I found it interesting, when I started looking for images for the card, that I couldn’t find any of people who were clearly listening. Now maybe that’s because our ears aren’t that mobile. Or maybe it’s because we’ve organized the world in such a way that our survival rarely depends on our listening skills.

In the wild, animals’ ability to survive depends on their ability to use their senses effectively–and listening is among the most important.

While we may be able to survive while barely listening, I do believe that the ability to listen well is key to our being able to thrive.

Today,  I am listening.

Communing with nature

Japanese garden

I’m writing from the Japanese Garden today, and I’ve just seen the smallest possum ever, apart from rescued babies. Since it’s shortly after 4 pm and possums are nocturnal, I guess I’ve just seen the Benjamin Franklin of the possum kingdom.

Multicolored koi swim gently beneath the platform where I’m sitting on a bench.

For years a possum family lived in one of my pecan trees, but you couldn’t have proved it by me–I never saw them once. I only received reports from my next-door neighbors, who smoked outside, giving them opportunity to observe all the nocturnal wildlife.

A mosquito just bit me–clearly there’s plenty of food here for the possum family. I’ve been told that each can eat up to 10,000 insects a day, so they’re highly beneficial. I thought about wearing mosquito repellent today, but didn’t. The scent is repellent even to me!

As is usually the case, I suppose, the people are making far more noise than the animals, though birds call, squirrels scamper, koi tussle over fish food, and ducks bathe noisily. Only the humans hoot and holler; only the human babies wail. Many, but not all, are the quiet types you’d expect to see in a Japanese garden. Most look as though they’d just as soon not see any other people.

More ducks swim by, almost silently, leaving chevron-patterned ripples in their wake.

My brochure says this garden was once a gravel pit–an immense improvement, no doubt. This is not wild–in fact, it’s less wild and more groomed than my own backyard, the dogs’ domain–but it’s nature, and I’m grateful to be here. I’d love to be somewhere truly wild, but I’d have to go much further than 5 minutes from home to get there. I’m lucky to have such beautiful gardens so close to home.

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Following my visit to the garden, I felt a tremendous sense of peace and groundedness, making me think that I need to make it a priority to spend time here more often. Several times since I starting writing this, I’ve come across the term “communing with nature” or “communion with nature” in various contexts. How interesting that the term we naturally reach for when speaking of nature references a sacrament. We were made to be in nature, not in fluorescent-lit, indoor-outdoor carpeted cubicles, and really not in houses either. We’re meant to see the sun and sky, trees and rain, leaves and flowers, other creatures … not just occasionally, but every day.

My experience of peace and groundedness after visiting the garden also made me want to create a garden of my own. I have flower beds and potted plants, I grow herbs to cook with, I’ve had trees and shrubs planted (I don’t have the muscle or fortitude to dig into solid clay sufficiently deep to plant something large), but I haven’t done anything that’s fundamentally changed the nature of my urban lot. I understand now why my aunt restocked her koi pond over and over, despite repeated incursions by local raccoons with a taste for expensive seafood. (I don’t understand, though, why it wasn’t possible to devise some sort of pond cage that would have defeated the raccoons!) I’m thinking now about how I might be able to create a secret garden, a place that would be an escape, a place where I could commune with nature. It would be a challenge, but I’m sure it’s possible …

Grounded in Mother Earth

Elephant

In the days before my last visit to my energy medicine practitioner, I suddenly felt stuck and utterly unmotivated. My instinct was to rest. I also noticed while doing my usual chakra clearing meditation that I couldn’t visualize my root chakra.

When I told my practitioner about this, she immediately expressed concern that if I couldn’t contact my root chakra, I might not be grounded–and that turned out to be true. Yikes! (If you’re a little bit psychic, or a lot, the very last thing you need is to lose your grounding.) She later sent me a list of symptoms of not being grounded, and I was fascinated to see that feeling stuck was on the list. I’d never thought to associate the two. She also clarified for me that the root chakra feeds all the others (in the case of a woman–the crown chakra is the equivalent for a man), so being ungrounded (that is, disconnected from life-sustaining energy at the root chakra) starves a woman’s entire chakra system. Not good, right?

Here’s the list of symptoms she sent me. You might not be grounded if you’re feeling

  • Anxious
  • “Spacey” or lightheaded
  • General discomfort
  • Unable to relate to others or the environment
  • Stuck

Or if you’re having trouble with

  • Listening, learning, or focusing
  • Walking or balancing
  • Not feeling emotionally supported
  • “Picking up” too much energy from others

After my visit, it became clear to me that I need to be more proactive about making sure I’m grounded. I looked for some grounding meditations, and tried several, but many of them used imagery that didn’t make sense to me. For example, a couple had me imagining myself as a tree–so far, so good–but then had me eliminate negativity through my roots, which as far as I know is not the primary function of a tree’s roots. A tree draws nourishment from its roots, and breathes much like we do through its foliage, yes?

When I asked her what causes a person to lose grounding, one of the things she mentioned was wearing rubber-soled shoes. Hmm, like the garden clogs I typically wear outside in the garden …

I decided to get very literal with my grounding. I’ve been spending several minutes barefoot on my front lawn on a daily basis, feeling the blades of St. Augustine (and the ground) under my feet–sometimes cool, damp, and crisp, other times warm and soft. I imagine the energy of Mother Earth flowing up into my feet and legs, feeling that energy like a rhythmic electrical pulse. I feel gratitude for Mother Earth sharing her energy with us all, and me in particular, and ask for inspiration and guidance about additional ways I can return the favor.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage card I made today, Elephant + Root chakra totem. The jewels represent some of the colors of my root chakra. The elephant pictured drinking was 49-year-old Igor, slaughtered by poachers for his ivory in 2009, two years after this photograph was taken.

How to go with the Flow

Flow

I remember when I first started reading about the Law of Attraction, in books by Esther Hicks/Abraham and others, one of the first things that struck me was the emphasis on ease–the implication being that life shouldn’t be a struggle.

But my life was a struggle. I fought for everything, and always had. I thought that’s how it was done. (Maybe you think so too.) Every day I felt like a salmon swimming upstream. I decided I’d like to try living life a different way.

I started setting positive intentions for experiences I wanted in my life to flow to me, using intention to align myself with the Flow, and the Flow with me. I figured that if I did this, I’d no longer feel I was swimming against the current.

This turned out to be quite true.

If you find yourself struggling today, here are some ideas that may help …

  1. Be sure your purpose is aligned with the Flow. You may notice that striving for things that are, when you come to examine them, actually unimportant, feels like an uphill battle. After all, there’s nothing natural about a lawn without weeds–or even a lawn, full stop. Maybe there’s a reason you feel like giving up when you try to please a difficult person, or lose those last five pounds, or climb a ‘ladder’ someone else invented. Instead, try getting in touch with the Love inside you, and find a purpose–even a very small one to start with–that springs from that place of love. Then turn your attention to this purpose that’s in alignment with the Flow, away from the goals that aren’t.
  2. Plug in to the Flow by getting out in nature. Take a walk. Plant something you find lovely in your garden. Feel the beautiful life Force all around you. Inside you.
  3. Be creative–just like the Universe. Cook something delicious, or make a collage. Look at your handiwork, or taste it. Observe that it is good.
  4. Try a guided meditation that makes you feel 100% better, and puts you in touch with your higher Self.
  5. Listen to uplifting music that raises your vibration. Anael is a favorite of mine.
  6. Keep a gratitude journal to help you become aware of all that is right and beautiful and Flowing in your life.
  7. Ask a favorite saint, angel, or ascended master for assistance. You may just be amazed at the results. (Doreen Virtue’s Archangels and Ascended Masters is a favorite resource of mine. My copy is seriously worn.)
  8. Set some intentions that align you with the Flow, and the Flow with you.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage card I made today, One with the Flow.

The wisdom of many lifetimes

Wisdom

This is a SoulCollage card I’ve been wanting to make ever since I made my first Soul Essence card, which represents the essence of your soul that’s consistent from lifetime to lifetime, regardless of your current personality, gender, ethnicity, occupation, and so on. When I thought about what the lives I’ve lived that I know about have in common, there honestly wasn’t much. But one of the things that stood out to me was the idea of mastery–something that’s important to me in this life, and seems to be a recurring theme in other lives as well. I wanted to represent this on my first Soul Essence card, but there just wasn’t room for it. Most Soul Essence cards are quite simple, and the first one I made was no exception. Soon after I made that card, I read my 6th-chakra owl totem card, and that reading expanded on what I’d been thinking:

I am one who is wise–like you. Many different kinds of wisdom is what you’re developing over many lifetimes. The wisdom of nature, the wisdom of technology, the wisdom of writing.

I found this last bit very intriguing, as I hadn’t thought of what I do for a living in terms of gathering the wisdom of technology before. This new Soul Essence card is about that ongoing gathering of wisdom across lifetimes.

As I was finishing this card, I noticed its colors are mostly dull, making it unique in my deck in that it doesn’t feature the vibrant color (or else black and white) that I typically use. I realized that’s because this card is about a larger, broader ‘me’ than the me of this lifetime who passionately loves color. I considered adding a reference to the “wisdom of technology,” but couldn’t find any images that worked. Technology–even a sleek laptop like my new HP Envy– is, I’m sorry to say, just so ugly in comparison with nature and beautiful hand-crafted objects! I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Here’s an excerpt from my reading of this new card (I’ve rearranged the sentences a bit so that it flows perhaps better than the original) …

The wisdom of many lifetimes is with you. All is well.

I am one who has lived many times, and learned something from each one of them.

I am one who loves the water. I am one who loves soaring cathedrals. I am one who builds them. I love the little lambs–so tender, so sweet. I am one who loves to write, who has much to share with the world. [You will share it.]

I am one who is wise beyond my years. It is always there for me to tap into–the wisdom of many lifetimes.

I am one who is developing–slowly, over time, like a pearl.

The waters are still, all is well. That is all.

Have you done any exploration of your past lives, and if so, what do you think are recurring themes for you?

A time to act

Owl

This is the SoulCollage card I made last year to represent my sixth-chakra (third eye) companion, an owl.

During the guided meditation I used to identify my totem animals, I envisioned a British barn owl, which I think is particularly beautiful. But images of rare British owls are tough to come by in American magazines, which are the primary source of my images.

One day while standing in line at the grocery store, a misfiled wildlife magazine caught my eye. I opened it and found several large, beautiful images of snow owls. This is one of those images.

The key feature of my owl totem seemed to be a face in which its eyes were very prominent–except for a small beak, seemingly the only feature.

Here’s a new reading of my card from last night. I found it most interesting … hope you do too.

I am one who is wise–like you. Many different kinds of wisdom is what you’re developing over many lifetimes. The wisdom of nature, the wisdom of technology, the wisdom of writing.

I see and observe many things–so do you. I am still. When the time is right, I swoop and pounce. This is a lesson for you. You have been coming into this lately. A time to act, and a time not to act.

What I have to say to you about your current situation is: This advice will come in handy soon. Soon it will be time to act, and there will be no turning back. This is a good thing–you’ll see. That is all.

 

The essence of a soul

Soul Essence

We are a living, breathing manifestation of this beautiful and generous planet. –Thich Nhat Hanh

In a SoulCollage deck, there are several Transpersonal cards–Source, Witness, and Soul Essence. I made a Source card some time ago, I haven’t found images for my Witness card yet–and here’s the Soul Essence card I made today. The Soul Essence card represents the maker’s eternal soul and its unique potential.

I found this card a challenge. It’s difficult to conceptualize your soul while you’re incarnated, or so it seems to me. A number of Soul Essence cards I’ve seen include images that reflect the maker’s current gender, but that didn’t feel right to me.

Thanks to various past-life explorations, I know that I’ve been Jacob, a shepherd in the Bronze Age; a master mason who worked on Rouen Cathedral and Canterbury Cathedral; and a stern, humorless, old-school English fisherman–none of whom shared my current gender.

I do see a couple of threads running consistently through these lives–one being strength, the other mastery. In my life as Jacob–a calm, peaceful, idyllic life–I was known for my wisdom about nature, and was a leader among the other shepherds. In my current life I have a tendency to become an expert on whatever I’m working on, almost without intending to. I have to say, I do not enjoy my own incompetence.

I am undeniably an incompetent bowler–unless we change the rules and gutter balls become a good thing–and I would much rather watch others who have grace and skill play, than play myself.

The other common thread is that, as far as I know, all of my incarnations (I’ve been told more than a hundred) have been on this planet. It makes me quite sad to think that due to our foolhardy destructiveness over a relatively short period of time (i.e., the Industrial Age), it might not be possible for me to finish my soul’s education here on planet Earth. I’ve read in several places that our little planet is generally considered a difficult school. Would it be the Harvard of the universe? Perhaps it’s more of an MIT, Penn, or Duke. All I know is that it’s been my home–or perhaps better, home away from home–for millennia. I hope enough of us wake up to reality and take action in time.

Long may we be nurtured by Mother Earth.

Blooming in darkness

Patience

It’s become utterly clear to me as I’ve gotten older is that timing is everything. I know now that I must wait for the timing to be right, but I can’t say I always enjoy the process.

This is a SoulCollage card I made last year to represent Patience, and thriving even in non-ideal circumstances as I wait for better ones to flow to me. It’s hard to accept and yet absolutely a fact of life that what goes up must come down. The birth/death/regeneration cycle is an inescapable part of the deal. I’m always mindful when, say, someone is praising me to the skies, that the person won’t always be as high on me as they are at that moment. I know all of this, and I feel somewhat prepared for the inevitable.

Still, the down cycle, the Winter of life, can be difficult to welcome with open arms. But it is without doubt a necessary and integral part of the cycle that yields the things that I am able to welcome without reservation–the Spring of life, the birth of new and beautiful and joyous things.

Here’s a new reading of my Patience card from last night …

I am one who knows how to be patient, waiting for my time to act and be heard. That time is not yet, but it is soon–very soon.

I am one who blooms in darkness–the dark of Winter. I am one who knows what it is to be cold–and also how to warm myself at my own fire.

What I have to say to you about your current situation is that it will end–Spring will come. What I have to say to you is: Be patient, it will pay off. That is all.

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