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How Has Your Animal Helped You?

they-just-love-christmas-picture-id1086365714 How Has Your Animal Helped You?

Animals are miraculous gifts to us. The power of an animal’s love, intuition and wisdom is greatly underestimated—whether it’s an ape that not only understands but also responds to sign language or a special cat that made the news by instinctively knowing when its nursing-home residents were about to leave this world. Then there’s the dog that helps its therapist owner detect abnormalities in her patients’ bodies and the story of the amazingly brave elephants that impulsively knew they had to save themselves by moving to higher ground when a devastating tsunami hit the west coast of Sumatra.

Animals have been our spiritual companions since the dawn of time. Humans have honored them throughout history, as can be seen in those early drawings on the walls of caves—man and dog hunting side by side. Egyptians have treated cats like gods, American Indians have honored many different animals on totem poles, and the elders in the tribe would teach the children about the importance of each living thing.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: What It Means to See

Photo credit: Well Cabral Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: What It Means to See

To see takes time like to have a friend takes time.

Georgia O’Keeffe

I was born a seer. Early on, words became the brushes with which I tried to paint what I saw. In time, I learned that while art is movement through space and music is movement through time, poetry is both. And each of us is born with an inclination toward seeing or hearing. I was born a painter and sculptor in a poet’s body.

Over the years, I’ve come across several legendary crossovers in the arts: those whose vision comes in one form, while their expression comes in another. Michelangelo’s genius came from being a sculptor forced by Pope Julius to paint, forced to compress and express his gift for three dimensions into two dimensions. The result was his masterpiece, The Sistine Chapel ceiling. George Bernard Shaw was a social theorist and critic in a playwright’s body. Aldous Huxley was a philosopher in a novelist’s body. And Robert Frost was a masterful short story writer, a weaver of potent yarns, born in a rhymer’s body.

The insight here is that each needed to express what they saw through the instrument they were given. This dynamic is what gave rise to their genius. I suspect that if George Bernard Shaw had expressed his social ideas in pure social writing, their potency would have been lost.

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The Most Popular Model of Reality Is Wrong

naive-realism The Most Popular Model of Reality Is Wrong

It would be ideal if reality and our model of reality merged into the same thing. A model of reality explains how the universe was created and how it operates. You might think that this is a definition of reality itself, but it isn’t, which can be illustrated by looking at the most popular model, known as naïve realism.

In a nutshell, naïve realism says that what you see is what you get. In other words, the reality presented by the five senses is reliable. Such a view appeals to common sense. It rests on experiences we take for granted. There is a physical world “out there” separate from our subjective experience “in here.” The physical world predates human beings by 13.8 billion years, going back to the Big Bang. If both of those things are true, then obviously what we think, feel, and desire “in here” has no effect on reality “out there.”

As unimaginably sophisticated as modern science has become, most scientists accept naïve realism, usually without question, even though each of the common-sense facts just mentioned is known to be false.

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Birdsong: Don't Let the Music Die...

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In 1962, Rachel Carson called it the “silent spring,” the time when pesticides would destroy birds and other wildlife and leave humanity existing in a half-life of stunned silence. Her work was the impetus for the environmental movement and has influenced millions of people worldwide. Yet today, more than 50 years later, pesticides are still very much in use, and we are facing the slow, agonizing fulfillment of her prophecy. In September, the journal Science published the results of a comprehensive study of North American bird populations. The results: Since 1970, there are nearly 3 billion fewer birds singing their spring songs, a staggering 29% gone from the Earth. Bird experts and conservationists are calling it “a full-blown crisis” and “the loss of nature.”*

The day I read these figures, I wept. I could feel my heart breaking. The losses are so huge. Beloved warblers in all their colorful variety: 617 million gone. Two of my all-time favorite birds: Baltimore orioles, 2 in 5 gone; wood thrushes, 6 in 10 gone. It is hard to fathom. Almost unbelievable. The birds that I eagerly anticipated seeing and hearing each spring are vanishing and may one day be gone forever. What would spring be without birds? Without the robin’s cheery song and the redwing blackbird’s flashing colors and ringing call? Dead air, everywhere.

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It’s Still Mercury Retrograde: Time to Reevaluate, Realign, & Release for Deep Healing

retrograde It’s Still Mercury Retrograde: Time to Reevaluate, Realign, & Release for Deep Healing

It’s that time again…actually, we are already halfway through this cycle of Mercury Retrograde! Right about now, you’re probably thinking I KNEW IT! That’s why everything has gone awry. So, if you just got frazzled and also weirdly relieved at the mention of this planetary cycle, take a deep breath. Today I’m going to share my insight into this Retrograde and help you make the most of the next nine days, as I feel the last week of Mercury Retrograde is the most profound. 

For a quick refresher, from October 31st through November 20th, Mercury is retrograde in Scorpio, the sign of deep-diving and deeper healing. Mercury Retrograde happens three to four times per year when the planet Mercury slows down and appears to stop and move backward. It’s an optical illusion, since there is forward movement, like speeding by a slow-moving train—as it recedes, it appears to go backward. 

The purpose of Mercury Retrograde is to review and revise our life and our connection with reality. In many ways, this time helps us prepare for the future by propelling us to realign and reevaluate our plans and ideas. Since Mercury rules communication, things most often go haywire in that area—computers go on the fritz, (totally happened to me) miscommunications abound, and often the internet goes down. 

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Dancing Butterflies, Ghost Orchids, Wild Skies: The Florida Dimension

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“To live here is to know God, to live here is to understand the power of Nature, to live here is to celebrate life.”—Panache Desai

Like a quartz crystal sparkling in the sun, Florida has many facets. Last year, in late June 2018, my partner Anne and I moved here from Boston. As we drove south along the eastern seaboard, we felt ourselves dropping past identities and memories along the way. By the time we reached Florida, we were living lighter, not anticipating or looking back, but just being, living fully in the present moment. It was a heightened state of awareness, and it carried us seamlessly to the edge of new beginnings and unexpected experiences in an entirely different place.

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No Visible Trace: Vanishing of the Past

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I seem to be living through a time in which everything previously experienced in my life is falling away. In the midst of these changes, I find myself standing face to face with a truth that has always existed but is now front and center in my consciousness: There is no past. When we have lived an experience, it disappears from this dimension. It may continue in another dimension, but here, now, in the present, it quite literally no longer exists. In our memories, it shape-shifts and eventually fades as well. We are left with this moment, nothing else.

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Resignation or Surrender?

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What’s the difference between resignation and surrender? To me, resignation seems to have a hopeless aspect to it, giving up on possibility. Surrender doesn’t have that flavor. It’s more a letting go of control, so that life can bring possibility to you instead of your clutching at it. Yet, perhaps there is more to resignation than first meets the eye. What if you have to go through resignation to get to surrender? What if in resigning yourself to life not turning out the way you thought it would, you let go at such a deep level that complete surrender is at last possible? In expecting nothing, you open the door to everything.

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The Bench

the-bench The Bench

The path next to our home opens up to unlimited hiking, biking and horse riding trails.  It also leads the way to a stone bench that is situated on a saddle between two peaks.  I have fallen in love with both the trail and the mystical meeting place. It is here that I connect with family, friends, spirits and always Mother Earth.  Or maybe, it is here that I stop and really open up.

I leave my house by 8:00 in the morning, this is when the temperatures are only in the high 80’s.  Durning the weekdays I might see a couple people, usually I encounter no one.  Most of the path is a mild climb with dirt and sharp rocks.  It is not until you choose a trail that climbs to one of the peaks, that you get steep terrain.  Even the mountain bikers have to get off and carry their bikes on parts of the technical trail.  Everyone I meet is happy and enjoying the sun and the expansive feeling. Or maybe, my happiness is just being reflected back😊

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Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll And … Shapeshifting With Plants

shaman Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll And … Shapeshifting With Plants

A Special Note from John Perkins

I just finished speaking at the Colours of Ostrava music festival in the Czech Republic, am now headed into the Amazon rain forest, and then in September to Omega in Upstate New York to facilitate an experiential workshop: “Soaring with the Jaguar: Shapeshifting with Plants into a Better World.”
 

Question: What do these three seemingly different venues share in common?
 

Answer: They empower us to raise our consciousness, to steer our space station Earth to the future we want. 
 

When I was a Peace Corps volunteer deep in the Amazon in the late 1960s, Ayahuasca saved my life – and forever changed it. Today, shamans, plants, musicians and speakers at many different forums inspire us to change our lives. A large part of the message involves honoring our connections with nature and to being good Earth stewards. 

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The Magic Behind Creation

magicofcreation The Magic Behind Creation

Magic is supposed to be a primitive belief, and in modern society it has largely disappeared. Science and technology are not only triumphs of rationality; they represent victories over magic, which is irrational. It is magical to explain thunder as the anger of the gods. It is magical to believe in the story of Creation taking place in seven days as related in the Book of Genesis.

But magic clings stubbornly to a foothold in our lives. Children are delighted by it, and not just children. Einstein said that he was the most unlikely person to discover relativity, but the theory came to him due to a streak of wonder that he had retained from childhood. Wonder is the wide-eyed reaction a child has on seeing a magician pull a rabbit out of a hat, and Einstein claimed that no great discoveries could be made in science without a sense of wonder at Nature’s mysteries.

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Living Life in Full Bloom

Blueiris Living Life in Full Bloom

I love finding symbolism in life while honoring practices. Both of these actions have helped me experience peace in times of grief, stress and loneliness.

About 16 years ago my husband and I were trying to complete our family with a third child. My other two pregnancies were moderately smooth, so I was shocked when I suffered a loss. This miscarriage kicked off a couple of very stressful and grief filled years. I remember after one of the three failed pregnancies, sitting on the kitchen floor crying. I felt completely lost, even shattered. I tried to keep it together for our two daughters.

My life became filled with blood tests, doctor’s appointments, hope and stress. It was also during this time that each Fall I would plant some flower bulbs. This is truly out of character. While planting the blue Iris bulbs I found a little symbolism. The bulbs go thru a very long, dark and cold winter and magically in the Spring new life shows up. If you are lucky, that new life will be in full bloom in the early Summer.

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How do we live a fulfilling life?

networkingnature How do we live a fulfilling life?

Human civilization is at an evolutionary crossroads where unsustainable human behavior is precipitating the planet's 6th Mass Extinction Event. Five times in Earth’s history, life was thriving when some event precipitated a wave of extinction, eliminating 70 to 90 percent of all plant and animal species. The last mass extinction event, 66 million years ago, noted for wiping out the dinosaurs, was apparently due to a massive asteroid impact in Mexico that upended the global web of life.

Epigenetics recognizes that the environment, and more importantly, our perception of the environment, controls genetic activity and behavior and thus shifts the focus of evolutionary theory to the role of the nervous system and consciousness. The Darwinian notion of the survival of the fittest is giving way to a more scientifically accurate, as well as, more positive theory of evolution, one that emphasizes the role of cooperation, interaction, and mutual dependence among all life forms. In the words of Lynn Margulis, “Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking.”

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The Ocean Never Stops

waves The Ocean Never Stops

One wave after another, tiny or tremendous, they just keep coming. This is Life.

What do you name the waves?
Challenging?
Frightening?
Hurtful?
Miracles?
Blessings?
Disillusioning?
Enlightening?

Wave after wave. They just move through. They just “Go.” And they come and they go … and go and go and go. They never stop.

There is always an opportunity for another. If this one passed you by and there wasn’t really a chance to “hold on” to anything before you noticed it flowing right on through your life, no to worry, there will be another.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: In Our Nature

orchidslipper Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: In Our Nature

As skin will stretch and mend a cut, kindness will heal all our divisions in time. Just as something cellular and internal causes trees to grow and fish to develop fins, something equally cellular and internal causes the heart to open. This openness is what releases the enzyme we know as kindness. And while being vulnerable opens the heart, that earned tenderness yields a wholeheartedness that reveals all forms of kinship. It’s how Grandma Minnie made her way from Russia as a girl and became a strong weed growing in Brooklyn. I will never forget her broken-English dignity, sitting proudly on her stoop, no matter what came her way. She was always ready to weather the next storm with kindness, ready to welcome the needy and to speak up against cruelty. I don’t think she thought of this as brave or altruistic. It was just part of her nature, part of our nature as living beings. Her innate kindness helped her endure. It is the strength of our kindness that roots life in the world. It is our initiation through kindness that lets us grow from I to we. I only know that every time I give, I receive more. Every time I give, the act illuminates my soul and I am enlarged out of hiding, the way an orchid opens to arrive as itself. So, when in doubt, give. When dark and confused, give. For your doubt and darkness and confusion are cuts that reaching out with heart will mend.

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Deep in the Great Smoky Mountains…

smokeyMt Deep in the Great Smoky Mountains…

“Those who tell the stories rule the world.” — Hopi American Indian proverb

I love striking up conversations with people from all walks of life, especially those who have walked down paths I know nothing about. I try to have these conversations as often as I can, because I am always struck by the wisdom I discover in each and every one.

Earlier this week as my family vacationed at Blackberry Farm in the Great Smoky Mountains, I met a forest ranger named Dwight. Dwight taught me the history of the forests, the wisdom of the plants, and how to remain calm if I ever lost my way in the woods. (He’s got a book called “Lost!: A Ranger’s Journal of Search and Rescue” that I look forward to reading.)

I also met a vegetable gardener named John. John fell in love with vegetable drawings when he was a young boy and parlayed his interest into becoming one of the greatest gardeners in our country. (He’s also got a new book coming out that’s all about his journey to preserve our roots.) Ask John about tomatoes or garlic or seeds and he will give you a history lesson on each and tell you what to eat, when. (Only eat tomatoes when they’re in season, which is right now, he said. Otherwise, you’re eating engineered food.)

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Full Moon Energy

fullmoonenergy Full Moon Energy

Between a partial lunar eclipse, a Full Moon in Capricorn, and Mercury having turned retrograde, this is a week full of profound and powerful energy! (And it’s my birthday this week too, yay!!)

Last week we talked about the importance of forgiveness, and now that we’ve had a week to practice forgiving ourselves and others, it’s the perfect time to do some personal inventory and take a deeper look at some of the ancestral patterns that may still be plaguing us. This is a week where we need to look to the past and see what we can clean up, whether that’s negative thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. Then, from that clean space, we can make ourselves ready to create our intentions for how we want to move forward in the New Moon cycle in a couple of weeks. 

In the Weekly Oracle Card Guidance and Lesson, I pulled a couple of extra cards from my Enchanted Map deck that reminded us about the value of setting intentions. When we have a deliberate intention, we can discover anything can be made manifest in the outer world to reflect that intention.

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Should You Plan for Your Next Incarnation?

afterlife Should You Plan for Your Next Incarnation?

Do you believe in reincarnation, and if so, does it matter? According to a 2018 Pew Research survey, 33% of Americans say they believe in reincarnation, yet it is beyond the range of ordinary polling to ask why this belief exists. In an age of faith, both East and West, a person’s daily life was deeply influenced by a religion’s teaching about the afterlife.

Questions of sin and redemption, karmic retribution, heavens and hells, and journeys through other bodies such as those of animals—these were pressing concerns for many centuries. Now in modern secular society, the question of surviving the extinction of the physical body has been channeled into belief versus science. We don’t ask if God finds us worthy to go to heaven so much as how credible a near-death experience might be according to the best research.

The scheme of belief versus science is something of a false divide, however. There has been credible research on reincarnation, which would surprise most people, including scientists. Pioneering studies were conducted by Ian Stevenson, chairman of the psychiatry department at the University of Virginia Medical School, who began investigating the phenomenon of young children who say they recall a past life. Hundreds of such cases were looked into with the aim of validating if the person they remembered being actually existed.

Returning Home

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What does “home” mean to you? A place? A group of people? A memory? Or is it a feeling deep inside that touches your heart and soul? All of these perhaps. Our own life experiences define what home means to each of us. I grew up in Illinois, later lived in California, and then settled in Massachusetts for more than 30 years. Massachusetts is where I met my life partner, Anne, and where we were married. I’ve always loved both coasts, but I didn’t realize how much the Northeast had become home for me until I moved away and then returned for a visit.

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Will human civilization survive its “metamorphosis?”

cracked-soil-with-little-plant-picture-id586087414 Will human civilization survive its “metamorphosis?”

Civilization can get to that higher level of evolution but only if we change our rapacious ways. The potential positive future for our species is analogous to the metamorphosis of a butterfly. A caterpillar’s body is comprised of several billion cells. In the body of the growing caterpillar, the economy is booming and the cellular community is actively employed. The voracious appetite of this organism leads to their devouring the leaves of the plant on which they are living. Caterpillar growth slows and eventually comes to an end as the available resources are consumed. Within the pupa, the caterpillar cells are out of work and their highly structured community begins to fall apart. Specialized imaginal cells within the ensuing chaos provide organizing information and direction to create a different, more sustainable future. Metamorphosis is complete when the non-sustainable caterpillar civilization transforms into the ecologically sensitive butterfly civilization.

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