Sing a Song of the Full Moon … and Dance

Oh, come dance with me
Dance with me in the bright clear light of the full moon

The best of all possible worlds is ours this night
As we match practical Virgo with magickal, mystical Pisces
Mars and Venus join the party and allow us to dance
with the heart of a warrior and the spirit of the goddess of love

We are grounded and yet we fly on the wings of the gods
this night as this full moon

What is your mission, your loftier purpose, your higher goal?
Ask this now for Pisces will give you the vision to dream it
    and Virgo will give you the practical skills to achieve it …
    right now

Mars gives you the spirit to fight for your dreams,
And Venus will help you love yourself and all the Universe

Oh, please, come dance with me in the bright clear light of the full moon
Dance in celebration of all that is, all that has ever been, all that ever will be
You have the power, the Gods are with you …

Listen to the music of your soul … and dance.

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Forgiveness — the rest of the story …

“… what fools these mortals be!”
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Nights Dream Act 3, scene 2, 110–115

Well … not exactly fools, but we certainly do behave foolishly sometimes. Here is a case in point.

We love to remember and relive past glories and successes — just listen to any high school football star or homecoming queen. But even more than that we seem to love to remember and cling to past fears, angers, hurts, and perceived failures — either our own or those of others. This makes me wonder if we sometimes boast to ourselves and others about our past glories and successes to hide the fears and angers and hurts we cling to with such determination.

Last time I wrote about forgiveness … and this is the promised follow-up post on releasing. To be honest I’m not sure which is more difficult — and so often neither of them is very easy.

The psychologists have lots of suggestions for how to release old hurts and angers towards others. They recommend talking it out with the other person if possible. And so often it is not possible to talk things out, either because of your fears, their anger, or any one of a multitude of other reasons. In those cases, they recommend releasing things by other, more indirect means.

One such method is to write a letter to the person (a letter that may or may not be delivered) in which you pour out your heart, along all of the hurts and angers you feel towards that person. In this letter you can also really wallow in all of the negative things you see in this person, spell out every misdeed you wish to express, etc. This is a very effective thing to do. Write it all out — get it all out of your system, and read what you’ve written as often as you need to until you don’t feel attached to these things any more. Then burn the letter, throw it away, do whatever you need to do to get rid of it so you release all of that energy and let go of what is contained in the letter. (One note: I recommend NOT putting all of this in an email. It is way too easy to hit the send button by mistake — and then you could end up with a whole lot more to wade through.) Once you’ve released everything and destroyed whatever it is you’ve created, forgive them — forgive them as much as you are able in that moment. You can always come back and forgive more later.

Another variation on that theme is to sit opposite an empty chair and let it all out. Say everything you wish you could say to the other person … really belt it out. In the process do what you need to do — yell, scream, cry. Whatever it takes to release all of that pent up negativity and anger. And this works, too. I’ve done it myself.

And the beauty of it is that these methods work just as well for releasing things we feel within ourselves about ourselves. Write yourself a letter, get a notebook and write it all out as it comes to you. And if you need to talk to yourself, you can use a mirror instead of an empty chair.

These are great methods and very effective. And if you look on the Internet, you will find tons of other ideas. But what I would like to suggest is that they only do half the job. I have found two follow up steps to be very healing and supportive. They complete the cycle for me.

The first follow-up step is this. Whether you are writing things out or talking things out in one way or another, do a follow up letter or conversation in which you detail every good and kind and wonderful thing you can think of about the other person or about yourself. Don’t leave it all on a note of anger. Leave it on a note of joy and happiness and clearing.

You may be reading this and thinking, “Yeah … right … like I can find something positive to say about that @3$*()%(^7 person.” But the truth is if you really really look you will be able to find at least one positive thing to say, even if it is only to say, “I have to admit, @3$*()%(^7 is really, really good at making a mess.” It isn’t quite what I would hope for but it is at least something more or less positive. What I have found when I do this is once I come up with one positive thing, I find a lot more.

And the second follow up step is very simple. Say “Thank you.” Express your gratitude for the things others have done — positive and negative in your view — for all of these things have at a minimum given you opportunities to learn, grow and explore. Express your thanks for them being who and what they are — the good, the bad, and the ugly parts.

So short summary:

Forgiveness
Release
Gratitude

Sorry it took me so many words to get there.

Copyright 2012 ConnieJean Maven (and the person writing under this pen name)

Forgiveness: It’s never too late

Forgiveness: It is never too late

It is never too late to forgive. There is no wrong time to offer forgiveness – no wrong time to ask for forgiveness. The Universe (God, Spirit, whatever term you want to use) wants us to forgive ourselves – it wants us to know what we could never have thought, felt, said, or done something that puts us beyond forgiveness. In fact, forgiveness is so available that we are forgiven in the moment we realize we may have done something that warrants it. We may not feel it or realize it until we ask for forgiveness or go within to forgive ourselves, but it is there.

As an analogy, I think forgiveness is like the air. I may choose to hold my breath and not take advantage of it – but the air is still there, waiting for me to use it. Beyond that, I may choose to carry it to the extreme and hold my breath until my vision blurs, my head pounds and I get dizzy. But eventually I will pass out and breathe normally. The air will still be there waiting. It won’t refuse to enter my lungs because I was slow, stubborn, angry, or filled with self-righteous pride. It will still be there and will spill into me spontaneously and joyfully the moment I allow it. I think forgiveness works the same way.

What about others forgiving us? This is probably the next logical question. I think they want to forgive us – that they are longing to forgive us. But I think for that to happen, a few things must happen first:

1. We must forgive ourselves for whatever part we played in an event. It may be something we did or said – or something we neglected to do or say, but something happened. These things do not happen in a vacuum. Everyone involved played some part in what is going on. Which leads to …

2. They must forgive themselves for their own part in whatever has happened. They may say “I forgive you,” but without this step it is likely that these are just “feel good” words that defuse the situation but don’t really get us to the heart of the matter.

3. Ask! Usually someone must swallow their pride, move past their righteous indignation, get over their fears, bite the bullet and ask.

4. If forgiveness isn’t offered, return to step 1 and begin again.

And what if we reach the conclusion that the other(s) involved just aren’t going to forgive us or accept our forgiveness of them? You smile … but it happens. And when it does I think all we can do is forgive ourselves, forgive the other(s) absolutely and completely, and then let it go.

OK. I’ve gone on long enough on this topic. You get the idea. Next time I will write about letting go.

Much love and many blessings to each of you.

Namaste.

PS: When I write about these spiritual matters, it is because of something I have observed or experienced in virtual worlds as well as in the physical world. People are people, regardless of the means of connecting with them.

Copyright 2012 ConnieJean Maven (and the person writing under this pen name)

Healers of the world unite … literally

Every so often — well quite often, actually — I hear someone talk about virtual worlds like Second Life as pretend worlds populated by cartoon characters, a world in which nothing is real. To be honest, this is partly true. In a very literal sense Second Life is a pretend world and the avatars we see on the screen do look very much like cartoon characters. But that is only the visual reality of this world. Behind every avatar is a real, live, thinking, feeling person … and those people have needs.

I am honored to be the leader of a group called “United Healers of Second Life.” Last Saturday marked the two-year anniversary of our guided healing meditation, which is designed to heal the participants themselves and others known to be in need of healing, in addition to our planet Earth and all of its inhabitants. We do this meditation at 7 a.m. Pacific time every Saturday, which means it is is either very early in the morning for some participants or that it cuts into the middle of a busy weekend day for others. Some of the participants present at our second anniversary meditation were there at the very first meditation I led in January of 2010 — a remarkable feat by any standard.

United Healers of SL Healing Circle

But the humanity and dedication of these people goes far beyond regularly attendance at my meditation and many of the other spiritual events that happen daily in Second Life. Here is an example of that dedication and humanity. Just after 5:00 p.m. (PST) last night I was contacted by a friend in serious distress because his biological sister had been diagnosed with a severe illness and was facing emergency surgery. Needless to say, the entire family was frightened and upset. He came to me for help in my capacity as a reiki master teacher and as leader of a dedicated group of healers. He spent a few minutes describing the illness and prognosis to me. At about 5:15 p.m. (PST) I put out a call for an emergency healing. Within 10 minutes we had 27 people sitting around us, and a monk from Thailand chanting a traditional Metta healing in voice for us. We sat together for about 40 minutes, sending love and healing to this family in need. Only the universe knows what the highest good for this woman might be. However, regardless of the outcome, she and her family will know that they are loved and supported … so much so that 27 strangers gathered together at very short notice to send healing and peace to them.

Very impressive behavior for what some see as cartoon characters playing games in a pretend world. If that is “pretend” behavior, I will take it over so called “reality” any day of the week.

Love … forgive … and live your life … every day.

After reading my last post, a friend sent me a message of appreciation for what I had written. Then he asked the next logical questions: “What if they are right and the world really is going to end? What are we to do?”

There are lots of possible answers.

Some may think we are to do whatever we please with the thought that there will be no consequences because there will be no world, at least as we know it. The Wiccan rede has always said “Do what ye will an ye harm none.” So that might be a caveat to add to the do whatever you please concept.

Others believing in this particular end-times scenario (or any other of the many that crop up every so often) is to fulfill every material fantasy. No problem maxing credit cards, spending life savings and mortgaging the house to the hilt – it’s all going to end anyway so no payback.

Lots of answers are possible – as many answers as there are people asking the question. I don’t pretend to know which is the right answer or if there really is a right answer. I can only relate what my right answer is and hope it will resonate for some readers.

My answer comes in two parts. Part 1 is to love … love everyone we encounter to the best of our ability, without expectation of reciprocity, without expectation of … anything.

The second part is needed to make the first part possible. Part 2 is forgive. Forgive everyone and everything as much as I am able. The degree to which I am able to truly love is inextricably linked to the degree to which I am able to love.

Now, I have a confession to make. This answer has nothing to do with the latest doomsday speculations. This answer has everything to do with my own personal experience with the fact that any day could be the last day for any of us. In fact, every day is the last day of life as we know it for some of the people in our world. There is no day known to man on which no one passes from life as we know it into whatever comes next.

My story: In 2003 I was engaged to marry the man of my dreams – a single person who truly was all the world to me. One day, some 3 weeks before the scheduled marriage, I left for work as usual and he saw me off with a kiss and words of love, as usual. It was my proof that perfection is possible. And 5 hours later I had positive proof of how quickly life as we know it can end as the love of my life had dropped dead, the victim of a heart attack. People around us were almost as stunned and devastated as I was. All anyone could say was how sorry they were and to ask what they could do for me. There was nothing anyone could do, but everyone seemed to need some answer from me.

This was my answer: “Go to the people in your life and tell them how much you love them. Forgive anything and everything. Never miss an opportunity to express your love to anyone and everyone around you.”

This is my answer for whenever mass or personal “doomsdays” arrive. Forgive anything and everything as much as you are able. Love everyone and everything as much as you can. That is as unconditional, as perfect as anyone can hope for.

Thinking and feeling — engaging brain and heart in all things

Buddha said, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

Excellent advice, but what does it really mean? The simple answer is that we must apply our own reason and our own common sense to decisions about the validity of ideas and information. Sound easy? Perhaps it is – or perhaps not. Buddha was asking us to be critical thinkers who apply some healthy, balanced skepticism to the decision making process – and that requires a bit of work.

In 2012, perhaps as never before, we are being called upon to be critical thinkers. Which person running for President of the U.S. is best suited for the job? Will the world end on December 21? How do we manage limited financial resources in the face of virtually limitless need? How do we balance environmental responsibility with the need to manufacture goods and provide services? Is the person “preaching” to us the anti-Christ or a messiah? The list goes on and on, but the requirement for critical thinking is the same.

What does it mean to be a critical thinker? It means using our knowledge and intellect as effectively as possible to arrive at the most reasonable and justifiable decision or position possible. The goal of critical thinking is “to guarantee, as far as possible, that one’s beliefs and actions are justifiable and can withstand the test of rational analysis [emphasis added]” (from “Becoming a Critical Thinker,” Robert Todd Carroll, 2004).

Again this sounds fairly easy but there is a good bit of work involved. To apply rational analysis means we must have valid information. In other words, we must have a firm understanding of the basic principles and validated information on a subject.

Among the barriers to critical thinking are suggestibility, conformity and admiration for experts and authority. These factors are clearly present in the huge body of literature on crowd behavior, human response to authority, etc. One recent study revealed that 5% of the people in a crowd influence the behavior of the other 95%. In addition, there is considerable evidence that if statements are made over and over, loudly and in a confident manner, we are likely to believe them. This holds true even in the absence of any evidence of the truth of the statements being made.

Never before has the possibility of disinformation (either accidental or deliberate) been so significant. Anyone can publish anything they want on the Internet, whether the know what they are talking about or not. Anyone with a video camera or a decent cell phone can produce a video and post it on you-tube, with or without any kind of credible evidence supporting the contents. Anyone who can convince investors of a significant return on investment can produce a disaster move that will scare the h_ _ _ out of viewers, but not contain a single word of truth.

So before you make a decision about the end of the world, the end of an administration, or which stock to buy, think about it. Take some time to see what real experts in a field are saying. Measure everything you read and hear against your own reason and your own common sense.

To quote Jacob Needleman (noted professor, author, and philosopher), “Be open minded, but not so open minded that your brains fall out.”

Peace be with you.

ConnieJean Maven

Copyright 2012 ConnieJean Maven (and the person writing under this pen name)

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2012!

Happy New Year!

Each December 31 we cannot wait for the current year to end, rushing to the future with abandon. And each January 1 we face the uncertainty of what the year ahead will bring. And so it is with the transition from 2011 to 2012. None of us know what the year will bring … not January 2, April 12, August 29, or even December 21. The future is uncharted territory and we can only guess at what it holds. My wish for you for 2012 is that it is an endless series of moments filled with joy and hope and compassion and fulfillment. I offer this poem as my new year’s wish for each and every one of the people it reaches.

ETERNAL

We rush to the future,
Hurting towards what, we do not know.

When we are young, we can’t wait
To stay up late
To drive a car
To go to school, to college
To leave home
Always, always, always focusing on tomorrow
Seeing only what we think we do not have today, in this moment

Time races on
and we are young adults in the prime of life
Rushing to the future
Hurtling towards what, we do not know.
We can’t wait
For the kids to come … for the kids to grow up
To make enough money
To own enough things
To get the next big promotion
To get to retire
Feeling only what we think we do not have in each moment of life
Racing forward blindly without really knowing where we are
Or understanding where we have been.

Suddenly, over night, we are mature … or even elderly
We wonder where it has all gone
How could time have slipped by so quickly without us noticing?
And still we rush to the future,
Hurtling toward what, we do not know …
And by now may fear even though we cannot see what it is.

Stop!
Look!
Listen!
Breathe!

What awaits us in the eternal future
Is what we already have
What we always have had

The power to create, to live any life we choose
Moment by moment, day by day
Living in the never ending now.

As our bodies age, we move differently, more slowly.
Get the hint…
Take the advice your body is offering
And slow down …
Embrace this moment
Know that each moment contains a lifetime
There is no need to rush to the future –
Your future will come to you.
One eternal moment at a time.

Thank you … wishing you many blessings and much love in every moment of the eternal now.

Namaste.

Happy ChristmaHanaKwanzaYuleStice!

There are few, if any, holiday seasons that get the attention of the time between the end of December and the new year. Some are celebrating Yule, others the Winter Solstice. Still others, Kwanza or Hanukkah. And many more are celebrating Christmas. No doubt there are other celebrations that are not so widely publicized. Some are celebrating these as religious observances and others as secular celebrations. It seems ironic that celebrations that should be times of joy turn into times when we focus on what divides us, rather than what brings us together — this occurs in families, towns, and within and between different cultural religious groups.

To me, the end of the year, the passing of the longest night of the year is a really good time to think about new beginnings. And many of the celebrations of this time of year focus on a theme of rebirth. In this post I would like to share a story I wrote as part of a winter solstice / Yule celebration. This story is written from a Celtic, neopagan, neo-druidic point of view, but the themes of rebirth are universal. I hope you enjoy it.

A STORY OF REBIRTH

Some call Christmas Eve the night of nights – For some that night of nights is Yule, others call it Saturnalia. The nights differ – the names differ, but in tradition after tradition the story is the same.

We wait together through a long dark for the rebirth of the light, for the lengthening of the days, for rebirth of hope. Look there – see empty cradle — who is waiting with us for the birth of the light? Is it Rhiannon awaiting the birth of her son Pryderi? Mary preparing to give birth to Jesus? The rebirth of the Holly King? The goddess Freya laboring to bring the Light to birth once more in her son, Baldur?

The locations and traditions vary but stories of miracles and rebirth at the winter solstice are constant chords that are struck in song, in hymn, in poetry and prose. They are chords that resonate with the secret, almost silent song we hear in our hearts. It is our own special song of love, of peace, of joy — and most especially it is our song of hope.

Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, and for some the dark seems never ending. But on this night, we wait for the coming dawn, for the return of the light. On this longest and darkest, yet somehow brightest and most miraculous night of the year, we all are blessed with hope for the future, for rebirth and renewal. This is not a promise that all things will be rosy and perfect; it is a promise that regardless of what life brings us, we can persevere, we can rise up to be continually blessed — and a be a continual blessing to the world around us.

Symbols of the season are everywhere around us. An empty cradle awaiting the birth, symbolizing rebirth for all. The evergreens symbolize never ending life — in ancient times evergreens were thought to have power over death & destruction — enough power to defeat whatever winter demons roamed the earth, and enough tenacity to urge the coming of the Sun.

Mistletoe is a symbol of fertility and abundance. And the candles date to the Roman “Saturnalia” celebration offering brightness to chase away dark winter demons and urge the sun back into the sky.

And finally, the Yule log, a symbol of the Oak King, adorned with the traditional evergreens of the Holly King signifies the death of darkness and the warmth of the Sun during the newly born solar year. In traditions that utilize a Yule log, it is lit to provide comfort and warmth through the longest night of the year.

And so on this longest night of the year, let us not focus on the dark. Let us focus instead on the light to come, on the hope, and on the blessed miracle of rebirth.

Thank you.

There are some who believe we are headed into dark times in the coming year. There are some who are already experiencing the dark times due to economic issues, other worries and fears, uncertainty, and myriad other concerns. I hope you and all you love and who love you will find a way to focus on the light — to burn a candle of hope in the face of any darkness we may face.

Samhain – otherwise known as Halloween

Many, if not most, spiritual paths and religions have some recognition and even celebration for the time those who have died (crossed over, passed on, or however you wish to state it). The Christian tradition celebrates All Hallows Eve, which is based on the ancient pagan tradition of Samhain (pronounced “sowen”). In the Pagan/Neopagan tradition, Samhain is considered to be “New Year’s.” It is the in-between time — the day between the light half of the year (the summer) and the dark half of the year (the winter). It is believed that the veils between what is, what has been and what will be are very thin so we may pass between the worlds — and the spirits may do the same. It is a time for prophecy and divination — and celebrating the lives of those have gone before us.

Samhain is celebrated around the world, and in Second Life, as well. In Second Life, many groups, including United Healers of Second Life and the Shamballa group, have held (or will be holding) Samhain celebrations following varying traditions. Here is a Samhain story from our celebration.

Autumn is strong in the air today
As I walked in the meadow I saw leaves brown with death and decay
Laying on a bed of still growing, vibrant green grass
As I walked in the forest I saw trees with arms bare of summer finery
Preparing to shiver in winter’s cold but with squirrel scurrying around preparing for winter life

I stopped …
And thought …

About the signs of still vibrant life in the waning of the year, the death and decay of autumn among the remainders of summer
It reminded me that with every death is a new beginning; life endures.

I caught a whiff of summer freshness among the leaves as I walked a tree lined street today. The cast-off leaves lay fallow in the gutter but still the tree lived.
I remembered that life is short, every breath a precious gift
That all too quickly the wasted moments gather like dead leaves in the gutter
Visible reminders of all that was … all that might have been.

If only …
We had stopped …
And thought …
And treasured each moment – the good and bad alike
Just as we treasure the beauty of the rose – in spite of and because of the thorns

For all too soon the moments of our lives will lie scattered and dying while life springs anew
Like the curled brown rose petals dying on fresh green grass around the yawning chasm of a grave.

I caught the perfume of autumn today as I walked a tree-lined street.

I stopped …
And remembered …that the lesson of death is …
… to live

And so we, the living, come to the celebration of Samhain. ‘Tis the night when the veil between here and there, the living and the dead, what has gone before and what is to come grows thin. The veil becomes so thin the spirits can walk amongst us once again. So watch for them. At any moment you may catch a glimpse of someone you have known. They may be family, friends or foes. You may see a pet long gone, or the spirits of wildlife, fishes and crows. Samhain is a time for remembering and honoring those who have gone before, but it is also a time of living, of beginnings, as in each ending is a new beginning.

Hush, do you see that spirit over yonder, traveling among us? Will they take a cake? Will they dance with us? Or will they play a trick or two? No way to know when they come from beyond.

And it isn’t only the spirits we must be on the watch for, we must be mindful of the Wee Folke at play – the elves, the brownies, the shee, and the fey. Samhain is also the night when they emerge from their barrows and their homes to move among us. Mind you now, that one doesn’t lure you away for you may be gone for a few hours, a year and a day, or … forever. Among these may be the Shee who come from the land of Tir na nOg. You may hear the wail of the banshee who is said to foretell of a coming death. You may hear the Spirit of Asheen, or Oisin to some, gallop by. Asheen was seduced away to Tir Na nOg by the banshee Neeavh (Niamh) for a year – with a catch. He could visit his home but he could not get off of his horse. But it was more than a year – much more. In fact 300 years had passed by the time he returned to his lands and family, and all had passed away. So beware – they may not hold your job for 300 years.

And so be aware – watch for the spirits and the Wee Folke among us. If you want to avoid their wrath and tricks, treat them kindly and with respect. Leave a treat as all are uncommonly fond of sweets. Leave a plate of food for a loved one who has gone beyond. Set a place for them at table as a sign that they are still a part of who and what you are and go about your life knowing that on Samhain the veil parts and they may walk among us, but they are alive in heart thought all the year long. Remember them now, watch for them walking among us here, or in your back garden. If you wish, as the evening progresses light one of the candles on the ancestor altar in the north and dedicate it by typing in local chat as needs must as a sign of respect and remembrance.

Happy Samhain, Happy Halloween!

Day of the Dead Spiritual Tradition is Celebrated in Second Life

Say the word “Halloween” to most people and it conjures up images of kiddies in cute costumes begging for chocolate at your door. But if you use other words for the holiday, different, more spiritual, images are elicited — and most are celebrated in some way by the Second Life community.

The Day of the Dead, celebrated in Mexico and Central America, is a celebration of life, where singing, merry making and feasting reside side by side with prayer. The Day of the Dead is not a scary celebration nor is it intended to be one. This celebration is based on the belief that the souls of the departed can return to visit the living once a year. It is believed that the souls of the children return the first of November and the souls of the adults on the 2nd. In some cases the actual tombs are visited, but in others the tombs are not visited. Instead elaborate altars and offerings are set up in yards and family homes. These altars are adorned with elaborately designed cut paper, candy skulls, candles and incense are created at home. The offerings usually consist of food, especially loaves of bread of various types and sizes, a pack of cigars, a bottle of tequila – or all of these, whatever the departed liked.

In Second Life, the artist Elicio Ember is once again offering an extravaganza of art, culture, and tradition at his annual Day of the Dead display and celebration. Elicio is noted for his amazing buildings, spectacular avatars, beautiful jewelry and so much more. Each of Elicio’s designs is filled with symbolism and displays amazing artistry. His Day of the Dead celebration is a pleasure to the senses and a lesson in the spiritual culture of these societies. For a true feel of the celebration of this 3,000 year old tradition, talk a walk through history among the tombs, offerings, and candy skulls at Day of the Dead at Cerridwen’s Cauldron in Second Life. Pictures below are from this amazing display and truly represent the spiritual foundation of a holiday tradition.

Elicio Ember's Day of the Dead Celebration

Day of the Dead Altars

Day of the Dead Altar Offerings

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