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

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?

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

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

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…

“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

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?

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

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?”

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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Lessons from a willow tree: Why nature is the best teacher of life

If you embark on a journey of personal growth or spiritual development, at some point, you’d want to have a teacher to guide you through your that labyrinth. Some people hire coaches, some look for mentors, and there are those who even travel to places like India or Tibet to seek counsel from yogis, gurus and monks. But many people believe the famous Buddha-associated quote, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In my case, that teacher came—but not in the form that I expected.

“That one!” I exclaimed to the man showing us plants and trees. I was pointing to a fully-grown six-foot potted tree standing in the corner of his greenhouse. We had just moved to a new house half a year prior and we were looking for new plants and small trees for our small backyard. I had a list of what I wanted to get so I don’t get swept up by the beauty of all the plants surrounding me and end up buying impulsively.

But this one was different. How this specific tree—which looked neglected and out of place like a mangy dog among pedigrees—caught my attention. I didn’t even know what kind of tree it was. And I didn’t even occur to me to ask. Even with its sparse leaves and lack of growth in the middle of summer, I felt strongly drawn to it and carried a sense of pride in taking it home. I knew exactly where to put it in our backyard.

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Laughter & Humor Really Are the Best Medicine

One thing about a seasonal change is, well, change! On our farm, we have become hosts to various nests – owls, sparrows, robins and more. We have a mated pair of coywolves who have made a den in the ravine and all manner of other creatures including some very bold raccoons seem to think it’s ok to stroll past our house in broad daylight like they own the place and we don’t count. Now thankfully, we have a ten-foot fence around the back of the compound so my teeny Pomeranians don’t get eaten, but I always have to go out with them and supervise just in case the pair of red-tailed hawks that hang out in the trees decide they look like snacks. This morning I went out with the fluff balls and stood under a new robin’s nest (or should I say condo) that she skillfully built right above the door and whose occupant decided to poop on my head. I was so upset for a moment I could not believe I had to change my clothes since I had an interview online and fix my hair yadaydaya!! But I stopped pretty quickly and I just had to laugh! Bird poop is not the end of the world and if I had to go on right away I could have pretended it was toothpaste HA!

Never a dull moment at Zen Farm.

This week’s Goddess Power Oracle reading is all about having a sense of humor around our revelations brought into light by the symbolism of the Goddess Yhi. It’s asking us to really trust that our new beginnings are called new for a reason. New means we might not know how, or might need to learn something, might not know the steps, etc. We are brimming with potential this week, says Cerridwyn, but this is all uncharted if it’s new, so how can we expect ourselves to have all the answers, know the steps, given that new doesn’t mean familiar or “the same as before”.

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Changing the World with a Glance

The power of seeing is well known to everyone, and many examples exist. There is love at first sight and Alexander Fleming noticing that penicillium mold kills bacteria. Galileo as a youth in church was the first to notice that a pendulum swings in a regular rhythm, setting the basis for pendulum clocks. Isaac Newton famously discovered gravity by watching an apple fall, although this tale was told second-hand and is probably a romantic fiction.

But what if a mere glance has untold power, literally the power to create reality? The opening for this idea came from what is known in quantum physics as the measurement problem a hundred years ago. A quantum is a tiny unit of energy, and if a specific quantum like an electron or a photon is considered a thing, it should be measurable. You should be able to know where it is at a given instant in time, for example, or how fast it is moving, how much it weighs, and the other properties that we assign to things in the everyday world.

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Always Building and Mending

I start each day by opening the blinds and making coffee for my wife. This way, I enter the day by letting in light and doing something for someone I love. From there, come what may, I’m centered in the strength of light and care. Then I feed our dog and go to work, which for me is re-entering my conversation with life. Like an astronomer who spends his days looking into the galaxy, tracing the movement of stars and planets, I look into the inner galaxy, tracing and mapping what I can.

By midmorning, I take Zuzu, our yellow Lab, for a walk. It’s there that the trees and birds begin to speak. Or rather, I begin to listen, as they’ve been sharing their secrets constantly. Most mornings, I see birds tending and feeding their young, flying to and fro with twigs, or pecking at the ground for seed. They’re always building and mending their makeshift nests. Much like us, going to and fro to gas up the car, and pay the bills, and get the tools we need to patch the roof. Endless tasks that keep us a part of life.

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The Power of a Renewed Mind

When the new year rolls around, many of us resolve to change something about our bodies, our careers, or our relationships. All of those things, though, are external. What will bring about a real change in your life is a change in your mindset.

The effect our mentality has tangible aspects of our life is astounding. You'll find that a renewed mind can put a new shine on aspects of your life you may have neglected, and help you to see the beauty in the small things. Here's how to achieve a refreshed mind in 2019.

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Relax, You Are Already There

We spend so much of our time trying to get somewhere.

Are we there yet?

The Practice:
Relax, you are already there..

Why?

We spend so much of our time trying to get somewhere.

Part of this comes from our biological nature. To survive, animals – including us – have to be goal-directed, leaning into the future.

It’s certainly healthy to pursue wholesome aims, like paying the rent on time, raising children well, healing old pain, or improving education.

But it’s also important to see how this focus on the future – on endless striving, on getting the next task done, on climbing the next mountain – can get confused and stressful.

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The Language of Clouds

“I’ve looked at clouds
from both sides now,
from up and down,
and still somehow,
it’s clouds’ illusions I recall;
I really don’t know clouds at all.”
—Joni Mitchell

When I was a small child, I saw clouds as one-dimensional, as if they were painted on the sky by some artistic giant. It was really only after I flew in an airplane many years later that I perceived the three-dimensionality of clouds. At 20,000 feet, flying above and through them, I could see their depth and dimensions, their constantly changing shapes and sizes. It was a revelation to me, and I became fascinated with them. Even on the ground, I could see that they were not really paper-thin but often thick and expansive…and constantly morphing into new forms.

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How can we raise our children to be ecologically conscious?

Question: I am the father of a three year old. It appears that, given the current trends, the planet will become uninhabitable before he can live out a normal life span. There will be a lot of suffering if human life on the planet comes to an end. I understand that it is all supposed to be perfect, but how do you view this situation from a cosmic perspective and what should we be doing at this time?

Ram Dass: I think that more than ever we are beginning to awaken to the fact that we are part of an eco-system and that we are entities in that with some responsibility for the nest we live in and the maintenance of the nest. In the same way that we clean up our house, we also have to clean up our environment. That consciousness seems to be slow in happening because the motivation to keep it from happening  — because there are economic costs in that awakening  —  that in the reorganization — not in the long run, but in the short run — there is an economic realignment of power.

And the people that have the power have a lot of inertia. I mean the stockholders of a big company are not ready to do dramatic shifts unless they are forced to do it because it changes the amount of dividends that come. And all of us aren’t quite willing to change our lives that much in the little ways. I mean, we don’t have to make those big guys the bad guys, because we’re all part of that web too. But there is an increasing consciousness now about rain forests, about air, about water, and so on. It is hard to access what the outcome will be.

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Spirit Animals Choose You (not the other way around!)

Have you ever noticed a specific animal, bird, insect or fish that shows up for you in an uncanny way, perhaps even more than once when you’re in a dilemma or looking for confirmation about something?

Most of us were never taught that we share our environment with Nature’s oracles (other sentient beings). Actually most of us never even knew what an oracle was since it’s deemed taboo by some! That said, I was lucky that my Scottish nanny Mrs. Kelly brought me the gift of this sacred knowledge when I was little. I learned to pay attention to what happened in my backyard and she pointed out when we went to church the halos around the saints were the same as the ones I was seeing around the bees and dragonflies and our pet raccoon Petunia. All life was sacred and magical to Mrs. Kelly, and she reminded me that the comings and goings of animals were signs from Spirit.

That said sometimes a dog is just a dog, or a skunk just a skunk. But there are those moments when, in a flash of energy, you just know somehow that the appearance of an animal is meant to bring you a message. It’s built into our intuitive systems to tune into the language of Spirit Animals naturally. Example, a Spirit Animal is the presiding spirit of not just one dragonfly but all dragonflies, and contain the symbolic meaning of the essence of Dragonfly. This is not some anthropomorphic new age gobbledygook. Over thousands of years we’ve assigned meaning to these encounters, and in cultures around the world, there is an accepted language about these sightings and their significance.

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Why It’s Time to Move Beyond Plastic — And 8 Ways You Can Help Solve The Plastic Problem

It seems like plastic is almost everywhere. But it turns out to be hazardous to your health and your planet. Get the facts, and find out how you can take action to solve the plastic problem and cut back on your use of single-use plastics.

From bags to food containers to car parts, plastic is a significant part of our day-to-day lives. Global production of plastic has been nearly doubling every decade. But experts are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of plastic on the environment — and on human health.

How harmful is plastic? And what about plastic bans? Do they work? Or are there better ways to tackle plastic pollution?

And what can you do as an individual to protect yourself from harm and to help solve the plastic problem?

What Is Plastic?

There are seven main types of plastic, each used for different purposes. They’re labeled with numbered codes, helping you determine which kind of plastic you’re dealing with and if you can recycle it.

Though the first plastics were once natural products (used as far back as 3,500 years ago), almost all plastics today are man-made and derived from fossil fuels, including crude oil and natural gas.

Scientists have also created new forms of plastics made from renewable materials — known as biopolymers or bioplastics.

Bioplastics: Plastics Made from Plants and Other Natural Materials

Bioplastics are made from natural sources, including vegetable fats/oils, corn starch, straw, wood chips, and even food waste.

While bioplastics are typically considered more environmentally-friendly than traditional plastics, they aren’t a catch-all solution. Many still end up in landfills, and as more come on the market, there are issues with land use, proper disposal, and toxicity.

Researchers are currently working on bioplastics that are compostable, degradable in water (should they end up in the ocean), and non-toxic. Though promising solutions are in development (such as bioplastic straws made from avocado and bioplastic coffee cups made from potato starch, corn starch, and cellulose — the main component of plant cell walls), they aren’t yet widely available.


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