Jersey Yogi: The Unintentional Enlightenment of an Uptight Man

February 19th, 2015

cropped-Jim-in-Montreal1By Jim Starr

Did you know that cow shit in India isn’t cow shit? It’s cow *dung*.

At any rate, there’s lots of it. And, we were told, people put it to good use, be it burning it as fuel for heating, or drying it into bricks and building houses with it. We found it particularly useful for stepping in.

With nothing special to do on our breaks, we’d often walk into “downtown” Ganeshpuri to do a bit of shopping, or to just absorb that slice of India outside the ashram gates. And cow dung was everywhere. At first we tried to avoid it, and this resulted in a very strange, zigzag, almost stumbling walking pattern. But even this ingenious technique didn’t work – we still stepped in a lot of shit. We learned to wear rubber shoes – thongs or the like – and to hose them off when we got back to the ashram. We also learned the value of *letting go*. We hated stepping in this stuff but it was truly unavoidable. *Let go*!

*Letting go* seemed to be a key facet of learning how to be happy in India because things were *different* there. People just didn’t seem to play the game of life the way Americans did. It was common to see merchants in the village sitting cross-legged all day in their little stalls, seeming as if they absolutely didn’t care whether they ever made a sale. Service was, by our standards, incompetent and *slow*. The old English adage that “you can’t speed up the orient” seemed 100% true. And when we asked people questions about directions or the like, they would seem quite determined to be *un*helpful. They would maddeningly have trouble understanding the simplest requests, and were very fond of giving no-can-do answers such as
“Oh, you can’t go *there*.”Jersey Yogi - Final Ebook

Their agendas were different than ours, and it behooved us to lighten up in our insistence that things go *our* way. I didn’t *consciously* try to alter my fast-paced priorities, but noticed that a bit of India was rubbing off on me anyway. One day I needed to change some dollars into rupees and went to the tiny little bank which was right next to the ashram. There were no other customers in the bank except one Indian woman who was ahead of me in “line.” I still don’t understand how or why this happened, but it took me *three hours* to change the money! But the weirdest thing was: *I didn’t even mind*! Three “wasted” hours, and I wasn’t even mildly pissed-off. I was imbibing India. I was slowing down…. I was letting go.

Learn more at: http://jerseyyogi.com/

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Jim Starr was born in New York City and grew up in New Jersey. A natural competitor who did everything to win, and the sorest loser if he did not, became a successful computer programmer and created a very promising career and life. However, in 1976, a devastating sports injury would have him question his future, seek relief and start a journey that would lead him to become an unusual yogi—Jersey Yogi. Today, Jim is a philosopher, certified Rolfer (a holistic practice similar to deep-tissue massage) and an avid student of the human condition. He’s also an amateur musician and a hospice volunteer—seeking to give, and to be where he can make the most difference. He currently resides in Colorado. Still very much the competitor, he plays handball and has won the Colorado State Championship in his age division numerous times. Jim is the father of three children: Lionel, Amy and Rachel.

Music of the Heart

February 12th, 2015

headBy Jill Mattson

With Valentine’s Day approaching, our attention focuses on love. The feeling of love makes this holiday a special one. Music creates feelings. The question is, “Can music create love?” These two energies are more connected than we imagine. Both energies have waves, which combine in close proximity. Recall how the sound track of a movie makes you feel. Back to our opening theme, love can be enhanced with music.

The question that follows is…”What is the feeling of Love?” The answer is not simple. Love, a many splendored word, has many attributes. For example, love may be kind and yet courageous. Other loving attributes are forgiveness and acceptance. The word love is a cap stone for many virtues. Yet, each attribute of love is a feeling.

Using music to enhance a feeling, like love, may seem like a novel idea, but it was not in antiquity. Ancient man created positive feelings through sound or music, and then listened to them for an incredible number of times. With each listen they ingested a tiny amount of this desired energy via the music. For example, if they wished to make a boy ferocious, he was constantly exposed to furious music. Likewise, a gentle person was cultivated with constant gentle music. Ancient sages prescribed listening to something special – thousands of times until it was a dominant energy within one’s personality.

We gain a habit, or personality trait by repeating feelings over and over again until they surface from our subconscious mind as an automated response. This is most easily accomplished with the aid of music. We can automate repeats of desired feelings by playing a special CD over and over again.

Ancient Man designed music to replicate beautiful attributes of love. This is done today as well. It is even packaged with cathartic release of negative emotions and the building of positive emotions, in music such as The Healing Flower Symphonies. Music builds attributes that compose love, we just have to listen to “loving” music.
If you wish to acknowledge your loved one’s beauty – be it their personality or appearance, then play beautiful music to enhance your message. The author created the Deep Wave Beauty CD, designed with beautiful music to make someone feel beautiful. It also contains frequencies associated with vitamins, collagen and muscle in the face and neck. Think of this music as aural makeup or a spa experience, delivering the feeling of beauty on many levels.

In yet another way to use music to enhance your message of love, recall that your intentions carry on sound waves. You can say “hello,” communicating to someone that you love him or are angry at him. Your feelings carry on your words. Your intentions also are feelings and they mesh with music. This idea has practical applications. Identify a piece of music for your loved one and make it “your song.” When this song is played, it links you. Your intent becomes entwined with the feelings in the music, as both the sounds and emotions combine into one energy.

Music is a source of energy that we can use to enhance our body, mind soul and, yes, to intensify our sharing of love on Valentines Days and always.

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Jill Mattson is a prolific Artist, Musician and Author. Jill is a four – time author and widely recognized expert and composer in the field of Sound Healing! She has produced seven CD’s that combine intricate Sound Healing techniques with her original Award winning musical compositions (Deep Wave Beauty CD – Best New Age CD – Silver Award). The CD’s consist of intriguing, magical tracks using ancient & modern techniques – with sound energy & special healing frequencies to achieve profound benefits. Also available on the sites are additional free mp3’s of her Sound Healing compositions, including Solfeggio Tones, Star Energy, Flower Frequencies, Fibonnaci and nature tones. Gallery and music at www.jillswingsoflight.com, www.musicforbeauty.com, jillimattson@yahoo.com.

Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, by Fran Sorin.

February 10th, 2015

Untitled2Below is An excerpt from Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, by Fran Sorin.

Taking Risks
“He who plants a tree, plants a hope.”
—Thomas Jefferson

Very early on each spring, when I start to look around my garden and envision what I want to plant that year, I always go through the same process of longing for the familiar. Perhaps the roses of last year were particularly fragrant, or the love-lies-bleeding plants especially enticing, and I think, Ooh, I’ll do that again. But then comes the familiar tug inside that reminds me that my garden is my laboratory for my own growth, and that I grow only when I take risks. That is the tug towards a newer, more unveiled version of myself, and I quickly do an about-face and start thinking about what I can do differently this year.

Whenever we create, we are taking risks. The most inspired creations are born of deep risk—leaps of faith taken by people who dare to venture into new territory despite their fear, despite the odds, and despite the uncertainty of how it will turn out. In creating Sundance, Robert Redford put everything he had on the line—including his reputation, money, and reserve of energy—to build his vision of a creative laboratory for filmmakers in the mountains of Utah. A lot of people thought he was just plain crazy to launch such an ambitious vision outside of the typical entertainment centers of New York and Los Angeles—not to mention his intent to preserve hundreds of acres of unspoiled land that plenty of other people would have developed for profit. Yet today, Sundance has blossomed into a cultural icon with a yearly film festival that rivals Cannes. The surrounding land remains pristine and undeveloped as far as the eye can see.

Taking any risk impacts us way down deep, in the tectonic plates of our very existence. In order to make something new, we need to relinquish the delicate reality that is right now. To create a new business, we must leave our existing work. To make a house our home, we must take down what is there and create our imprint. To create a child, we must give up some of our independence. In all creative endeavors, we risk the fear of failure in a society that is very success-oriented (What will happen to me if I fail?). We risk not being accepted (What will people think?). We risk giving up the familiar, the comfortable (What if I don’t like the new reality that unfolds?). Yet in the face of all this looming threat, we, as artists of life, continue to brave on and take risks because deep down, we know that risks are what pave the path to our healthiest and best selves.

True risks are not arbitrary. I think we take risks based on our deepest desires. Anytime something feels like a risk, we are usually looking into the face of something we dearly want. If we weren’t, it wouldn’t feel so weighted, nor the choice so infused with emotion. Each time we become aware of these desires and act on them, we get one step closer to our essence. If the results turn out well, fabulous! Our confidence in our instincts grows. If they don’t, that’s okay, too—we learn something about what doesn’t work for us.

Simply trying something new is not necessarily the same as taking a risk. Trying new things out of curiosity is experimenting. Trying new things when there is something very real at stake is taking a risk. Trying a new lasagna recipe is an experiment—trying a new lasagna recipe when you’re throwing an important dinner party is a risk. Going out on a date with someone you are mildly interested in is an experiment—getting involved with someone you have intense feelings for is a risk. Experiments are wonderful ways to test the waters and see what you like and what you want, but it is the acts of daring that stretch you.

This isn’t about taking risks for the thrill of it, or for the heck of it. That’s adrenaline—or counteracting boredom. This is about consciously pushing the boundaries of who you are right now in order to see who you might become. It’s about testing yourself in the face of your fears and finding the grit to move forward in spite of them—giving your dreams a chance to fly even if you may very well land right on your butt.

A few years ago, I met a young couple at a yoga retreat who were originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts. They both came from respected families—Allison’s mother was a professor at Harvard, and Jessie’s family was from old Boston money. These two kids were a perfect match—they were both very adventurous, and neither seemed to fit the bill of privilege they were born into. They were generous and relaxed spirits and were just a delight to be around. It didn’t surprise me at all when they told me they had just moved to a small, rural town in New Hampshire and were spending their days renovating an old barn they purchased to make it into a home where they could one day raise their future kids. They had created a whole new life for themselves.

What was so fascinating was hearing their story about how this came to pass. They seemed so young and carefree, but one evening, as Allison and I lingered over dessert and tea, she told me about how big a risk it had felt to them to leave behind all the cultural expectations that had been put on them. They went back and forth about this decision for a long time. They desperately wanted to live a rural life, but they were worried about how their families would react and about whether they would be depriving their future children of an easier life. Ultimately, Alison told me, it was Jessie who said, “If we don’t do this, we’ll always wonder if we made the right choice. But if we do it, either way, we’ll get to find out.” And there it was—the clearest reason to take any risk in life.

You’ve already heard me say that a garden is the most forgiving of mediums, and so it is one of the easiest ways to learn to take risks. My garden contains a lot of risks I’ve taken over the years, some big, some small. There were the mini-risks, like early on when I pulled out the requisite evergreen bushes that come standard with every suburban front lawn. People from the neighborhood were literally lining up to take them, and I thought, Yikes. . . am I really doing this? It was a little scary because suddenly I was labeled “different” and because I had no idea what I was going to put in place of those big gaping holes. Destroying an existing reality before the new one appears in its place can be deeply unsettling, but also exhilarating at the same time.
Then there were the big risks, like the six huge robinia trees I ordered. I had seen these gorgeous trees when I was in England and immediately fell in love with their yellow and green leaves. I had a vision of six of them, arranged in two sets of three on either side of my walkway in triangular configurations. This wasn’t something I had seen done anywhere—most trees are planted symmetrically on either side of a pathway. But I really wanted these, and I really wanted that layout, so after checking with a colleague to make sure I wasn’t creating an overgrown patch of trees waiting to happen, I ordered them. Believe me, I was well aware this could look very strange! Once I got them in the ground, the trees grew and took on a life of their own. They look magnificent and are to this day one of the focal points of my garden.Untitled1

Every single new planting can be a risk. You spend time, energy, and money. . . all things that have a lot of value. And you never really know how things will turn out. But to me, half the fun is the anticipation of what will be and how I will grow as a result.

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Fran Sorin is the author of the original and recently updated 10th Anniversary edition of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, a book inspired by her thirty years of playing and working in the garden. She’s also a recognized garden expert, deep ecologist, ordained interfaith minister, soul tending coach and CBS Radio news correspond-dent. She shares her wisdom at: www.GardeningGoneWild.com and www.FranSorin.com.
To buy a paperback copy of Digging Deep, click on: http://amzn.to/1z3DaKM
To buy Digging Deep in e-book format, click on: http://amzn.to/1xgFqKk
Reprinted, with permission of the publisher, from Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening © 2014 Fran Sorin. Published by

Harmonic Way CD

February 8th, 2015

timthumb.phpWhen sound healing pioneer and renowned, award-winning flautist Dean Evenson first heard trance guitarist Scott Huckabay perform 20 years ago, he knew he needed to record his transcendent music for his label, Soundings of the Planet. Int the years since, Evenson and Huckabay have collaborated on a number of popular, top-selling instrumental albums and now, with the release of Harmonic Way their magic continues. Along with his wife Dudley, this dynamic duo is the force behind Soundings of the Planet – one of the leading sound healing music labels spanning nearly 4 decades. Their progressive, other worldly, nature-based, healing music has supported countless people in their quest for stress reduction, relaxation, health and inner peace. For more information, you can visit www.soundings.com

Everyday Mindfulness and Mindfulness Every Day

February 5th, 2015

Simon By Simon Cole

It could almost be said that too much has been said about mindfulness; that it appears so often, in the form of articles, presentations, books, phone apps, courses, that its all-pervading presence is a distraction. The problem with this is that distraction is exactly what mindfulness is not about. So I am going to say – at least to begin with − forget about mindfulness, and we’ll work on not being distracted.

It is a truism that the modern world has far more distractions than former times, when the pace of life was slower, when information was not instantly available worldwide and when the choices which were presented to most people most of the time were quite limited. But if we are honest, it is really just passing the blame if we retort, “It isn’t my fault; it’s because there are too many things competing for my attention. You can’t expect me to keep focused on one thing.” That is projection. Because the choice to attend to this or that, or even nothing at all, is ours alone. The cause of the distraction is not the extraordinary range of possibilities available to us but whatever it is about us that means we avoid making decisions, or, when we have decided and are set on a course and then see something else we want, we waiver. It is not difficult to detect what is happening − we always want the best we can get, but not just that, even when things are moving along nicely for us, if something appears which is faster, bigger, funnier, sexier, we have to check it out, just in case we might be missing something.

To avoid being distracted we need to understand how we think… because in our thinking patterns and what lies beneath them is where we will find the answer. So we’ll start with a paradoxical question. What does it take to satisfy you? I could have asked, “What does being satisfied feel like?” But the two questions are really different sides of the same coin. So take something very mundane. Eating chocolate. You take one chocolate and eat it. Do you want another? You probably do. And another? Probably. But why? Will you get double the pleasure with the second one? If that is your reason, then you should consider the law of diminishing returns, because the second one can only possibly add fifty per cent to your pleasure and the third one thirty-three per cent, and so on. If you had only seen one piece of chocolate available and you had been asked after that piece whether you were satisfied, you would probably have said ‘yes’ because you would still have been savouring that piece. But if another piece had suddenly appeared, and you were asked if you wanted it, you would most likely have left off savouring the first piece and taken the second.

So, what does it take to satisfy you?

Eating is a good way in to mindfulness… in taking the second piece of chocolate, you were distracting yourself from savouring the first piece. Perhaps you want to wriggle out by saying that it wasn’t you; it was the person who offered you the chocolate. But you cannot get away from the fact that it was you who turned your attention away from what you were doing, namely, savouring the pleasant taste in your mouth. So, allowing yourself to be distracted broke into your mindfulness in that moment. Why did you allow your attention to be drawn? Because there might be something nicer or better, or simply more, around the corner.

There is a Zen saying: when you are sitting just sit; when you are standing just stand; when you are walking just walk… above all don’t wobble. It can be extended to any activity. In this context “just” is not solely about the physical action either; it extends to doing the thing without an attitude, that is, without bringing any particular guilt, desire, resentment, even indifference, to what you are doing. So, when you are savouring the taste of chocolate in your mouth, just do that. Don’t even feel guilty because you are on a diet and you are not supposed to have chocolate at all! That would be your ego getting in the way. We could say it is about respect − respect for the moment. This moment will never come again, and a moment identical to this one will never again appear, so it deserves our respect for being a moment in our lives.

Most people eat too fast to really taste what they are eating. Very few people take the time to savour. Try this for yourself next time you are eating a meal. Notice how long you are actually registering the taste of the food. When you find you are thinking about something, notice how that means that you are not conscious of what you are eating, but simply of the act of eating, which has become a background activity, like driving a car while you are talking to your passenger. If you need help to slow down eating, try setting down your eating utensils as soon as you have put the food in your mouth and do not pick them up again until after you have swallowed the previous mouthful. That will help in another respect too, because it will mean that you cannot start preparing the next mouthful before you have finished the current one. To help yourself experience just eating, give yourself time to register everything about what you are eating − the texture… the flavour… is there just one texture? Is there just one flavour? (In the case of chocolate you could try closing your eyes and not biting, just letting it dissolve in your mouth. And then, out of respect for the moment, say to yourself “that was good and it is enough.”)

Just one more thing about savouring: make sure that you note a flavour or a texture for what it is and avoid, if you can, a reaction of “that’s not very nice” or “I don’t like that.” This is not because we have to like everything equally, but because telling ourselves that we don’t like something will take us away from just eating and will have us make a judgement about the moment itself as well as what it contains.

So, the first step in mindfulness is not to get distracted.

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Simon Cole runs a retreat centre in France, having worked in psychological health in the UK for over 20 years. Holder of a Masters with distinction and special award in counselling from Ripon and York St John, he is a senior-accredited counsellor, with experience in the Health Service as well as in private practice in Britain. He also developed and ran a progressive counsellor training programme to advanced diploma level at Carlisle College. He has long used mindfulness and meditation alongside his professional work and has formulated the Clear Space Meditation Path as an integrated model, incorporating established psychotherapeutic practices, to produce a western method for personal development and healing.

Website: http://www.life-counselling.co.uk/
Stillness in Mind – a companion to mindfulness, meditation and living by Simon Cole, was published by Changemakers Books 28th November 2014.

Q & A with Madelaine Lawrence, author of The Death View Revolution

February 3rd, 2015

Below is a Q & A with Madelaine Lawrence, author of The Death View Revolution: A guide to transpersonal experiences surrounding death.
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1. How is your book different from the many others on transpersonal or extrasensory experiences associated with near death and dying?

This book includes all known transpersonal experiences in one book as opposed to one book for each type of experience. Much of the discussion about these experiences has been focused on what causes them and attempts to prove they can be explained by our understanding of medical science. This book is focused on the clinical relevance of these experiences, what to say to individuals to whom they occur, and what the research shows or does not show about proof of translocation and an afterlife.

2. Why did you decide to put all these experiences together in one book?

Up until now, each occurrence has been treated as a separate phenomenon. I believe they are all part of a larger phenomenon that you can only see when these experiences are described together. For example, there are reports of seeing mist or smoke leave the body at the time of death. To my knowledge this has not been reported in the near-death experience (NDE) literature. If the NDE represents some part of the person’s being leaving the body, why no reports of a mist or smoke leaving the body? Does it not happen or has that occurrence not been looked for during an NDE.

3. You talk about the importance of clinical significance versus the causes of these experiences. What does that mean?

In the past these experiences have been called hallucinations, a word that implies mental illness. We know through research when dying individuals see, hear or sense the presence of deceased loved ones they are less anxious about dying and require less pain medication. They feel less alone in this dying process. Often caregivers will tell the dying person not to speak of such occurrences for fear someone will think they are mentally ill. Clinically helping the dying embrace the experience is beneficial for them.

4. Do you believe there is an afterlife?

I personally believe something continues to exist after bodily death. What can be substantiated is the ability of individuals to translocate and acquire information beyond our normal senses. What is substantiated through veridical perception during NDEs, deathbed communication, after death communication (ADC) information can be acquired that is unknown to the receiver. A hospice nurse reported she was ‘visited’ by her patient who had just died in her home. The deceased spirit told her he had forgotten to tell his wife where some insurance papers were kept. He gave the nurse the specifics of the location of these papers in a room the nurse had never seen. She visited the man’s wife, told her the location where they proceeded to find the insurance papers.

5. What do you mean by veridical perception?

What that means simply is that we can verify what individuals have seen, heard or sensed objectively. These perceptions occur when physically the person should not have been able to have the experience. One patient, for example, reported seeing a red shoe on the roof of the hospital while out of her body. A resident doctor was curious, went to the roof and came back holding a red shoe. digitalcopybook3

6. You mentioned some scientists have attempted to induce after-death communication (ADC). Do you believe that can be done?

That is a new area of investigation which is still being validated. It does seem preferable to have a grieving person experience an ADC rather than be told about contact through another party.

7. What kind of death view revolution are you proposing in your book?

These experiences and how to guide individuals who have them should be integrated in all textbooks on death and dying and be an essential part of the education of health professionals, family members and the person near-death or dying. Currently little information is included in the standard death and dying books.

Neale Donald Walsch’s most important insights in 20 years

February 3rd, 2015

ndw-9wk-8-2014-300x250 Have you ever wondered why you’re not living every moment as your truest self? Join Neale Donald Walsch to discover how to start. CLICK HERE for A FREE Online Webinar with Neale Donald Walsch.

Magdala: A Love Story that has no end

January 29th, 2015

Valerie Gross

By Valerie Gross

Everyone wants more love in their life, but what does it take to generate that love? How do you become a truly loving person?

Loving others can be hard, especially in intimacy and in family. When I was child, my mother pointed to the Church for the answers, but the Jesus I learned about offered no clues, only an injunction: be good. Easy for him: he was born perfect and free of any sin. That did not help me.

Like many people, I tend to learn by example. I believe something is possible when I see, or hear of, someone else doing it, someone I can identify with in some way. “If they can do it, so can I.”

Back in the 6th century, Pope Gregory understood this. That’s why he made up the story of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute. You see, the whole story of Jesus, as conveyed in the four Gospels, failed to include a single example of a sinner meeting Jesus, being healed, and then staying around and leading a healed life. Now, the Bible also tells us that Mary Magdalene was a powerful individual, especially compared to most women in Antiquity. Free of her person and thoughts, not dependent on any man, she chose to walk with Jesus, and support him and the disciples with her own money. She stayed to the bitter end of Jesus’ crucifixion, and all four Gospels agree: she was the first witness to Jesus’ resurrection. In other words, she was a very important person. Not easy for an every-day person to relate to.

So Pope Gregory added a prequel to Mary’s story: she was a sinner, a prostitute, who had come to be blessed by Jesus and stayed around to become this special person. As a prostitute held the lowest status in society at the time, her redemption was an invitation to all to come, and be welcomed and redeemed. You could not be worse than her. You had a chance.

But today that story has lost its power, in large part because we no longer understand the power of Mary’s role as Witness to the Resurrection. In the 6th century, Mary Magdalene was revered and adored across Europe. Today, she is just another sinner, mingling with tax-collectors and thieves, whom Jesus welcomed to his table.

Well, I still needed my role model. The challenge then for me, in writing Magdala, was to come to understand both Jesus and Mary Magdalene as becoming the extraordinary people who revolutionized the world. From inner life to geo-politics, nothing has been the same since they walked the earth.Magdala

In studying the actual physical world in which they lived, I was amazed to discover the ordinariness of horrific brutality in everyday life. The Roman Empire controlled Israel with its powerful army, which answered to no one. The local Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, would just as soon meet with his constituents as have them slaughtered on the steps of his palace while they waited to be seen. Local farmers sometimes had to trade on their children’s lives when they could not afford the crushing taxes. And without a man to speak for her, a woman was subject to rape, enslavement, or – worse?! – banishment, which meant starvation and death. (This is the context, by the way, of Jesus’ injunction against divorce. In today’s language it means: don’t throw your wife to the wolves.)

And yet somehow, in this fractured, violent world, Jesus and Mary created a language of peace and love that has endured for millennia. Somehow, in this tribal, strictly segregated society, they built an enduring legacy of inclusion and community. Somehow, in the midst of hunger and poverty and guerrilla warfare, they sparked a fire of hope and courage and faith that yet burns.
It took seven years for me to imagine how that happened. The result is Magdala. May it speak to your peace-seeking heart, as it inspired mine in writing it.

*******Magdala is available as a paperback or in digital format through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and via www.magdalathebook.com.

Goddess Calling Foreword

January 27th, 2015

81JYuKkC2WL By Dr. Rev. Karen Tate, author of Goddess Calling

In ever-increasing numbers women and men are seeking spirituality beyond traditional religious institutions and more and more their new normal includes the deities, ideals and archetypes of the Sacred Feminine. They have a desire to get beyond the patriarchal dogma that often perpetuates sexism, homophobia and the domination of Gaia and all her inhabitants, including the body of Mother Earth. Women in particular are hearing and heeding their calling, stepping forth to take on their mantle of leadership as rabbis, ministers, priestesses, Nuns on the Bus and Womanpriests. They are exercising their spiritual authority in circles at their kitchen tables, in their living rooms and classrooms, in brick and mortar churches and temples, in political arenas and groves. They are flexing their spiritual wings and allowing themselves to be guided by their intuition, innate female wisdom and inner-knowing and they encourage their congregations to know and feel the essence of Goddess and understand what that new knowledge might mean for themselves personally and the world.

Often their shared message is one of female empowerment, social justice and environmental responsibility sometimes referred to as eco-feminist spirituality. The liturgy may contain social, cultural and political messages of liberation thealogy using Goddess mythology, archetypes and metaphors as benchmarks and templates for a more just and sustainable future. Gone altogether or tempered is the message of the strict authoritarian Father whose mythology gives license for a male-dominated society with women in a subordinate role. Nothing less than peace, partnership, justice, equality and care for the planet are at the heart of this Sacred Feminine wisdom.

In answer to this collective call to restore and re-write our values and find a new spiritual path women and men are blazing a trail using their pink handled machetes to find their way. It might manifest in progressive churches using gender neutral names for God in prayer and song. Others include liturgy embracing the Divine Mother in equal partnership alongside the Father. Altars might not be dominated only by male images. Still others give themselves permission to conduct women-only services and exhibit only female images of deity at their gatherings. Congregants worship together in circles rather than in hierarchal configurations with a male intermediary between them and deity. In fact, these groups and gatherings might be leaderless, egalitarian or organizers might share leadership. In case it’s not obvious, there is no one way and no absolute right way to facilitate these gatherings or to worship or interpret deity. These are just some of the new guidelines being tried across the globe as spiritual people come forward to see what works for themselves or their communities.

Yes, there has been a plethora of academic writings restoring knowledge of Goddess and women’s history that has been swept beneath the rug. Some, myself included, have used this knowledge to occasionally re-construct or adapt ancient rituals for a modern context. We have gleaned inspiration from inscriptions and ancient knowledge and turned it into the seasonal ritual. Psychologists have explored the significance of Goddess archetypes. Theologians have examined why Goddess disappeared and patriarchy began to dominate. Some statistics show that when all earth-based or goddess-oriented groups are combined, Pagan, or non-Abrahamic religions is one of the fastest growing groups in the country and books have come out in equal measure to support that growing interest.

What has been missing, however, is an abundance of inspirational writings that pulls all of these aforementioned areas of focus together between two covers and puts it into an easy-to-understand and user-friendly book of sacred feminine liberation thealogy. Yes, thealogy, not theology. The meaning of Goddess, as deity, archetype and ideal and her relationship to humanity, the planet and its species. Going beyond the wheel of the year, examining Goddess mythology and ideals of the Sacred Feminine that would reshape values, society and culture, from cradle to grave, and in pre-school to the voting booth. Goddess ideals actually do provide a template for a more just and sustainable future and with this book, I hope I’ve managed to directly connect the dots between the Great She and liberation from the oppression of our patriarchal world.

I wrote Goddess Calling, Inspirational Messages & Meditations to Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy to give individuals or those desiring to serve their communities a springboard to offer what I remember were called “sermons from the pulpit” in my early days as a Catholic, with ideas to create a format for a regular gathering or service. Easy to digest and sometimes gently following the seasons of the year and holidays already on most people’s calendars, these messages and meditations use Goddess archetypes, ideals and mythology to provide content for education, inspiration and contemplation for anyone seeking to incorporate a feminine face of god within their spirituality, no matter their faith – and the messages and meditations have been field-tested!

Following in one of the messages within this book, Trust in the Journey, these collective words of inspiration and guidance accumulated over time as I was called on as an ordained minister to speak about the Sacred Feminine. Yes, these messages and meditations have already been successfully shared and embraced by congregations where I have been invited to present papers, guest minister or lead salons or services for conferences, festivals, Goddess temples, Unitarian Universalist congregations, the American Academy of Religion or at Sacred Sundays, the latter being inter-faith services offered in the Los Angeles community for several years. Those experiences have provided the framework for this book and the suggestions herein for readers to find personal inspiration or ready-made material to facilitate your community circles.

As you go forward and find your sacred roar,

May Goddess Embrace You in Her Golden Wings,

Dr. Rev. Karen Tate

Posttraumatic Growth

January 25th, 2015

9512680-girl-tourist-in-mountain-read-the-map-map-journeyAccording to Tedeschi and Calhoun (2004) posttraumatic growth is:

“the experience of positive change that occurs as the result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances” (p. 1).

Examples of posttraumatic growth may be a greater appreciation for the value of life, increased belief in knowing that you can count on people in times of trouble, an enhanced sense of closeness with others, a greater belief in one’s ability to handle difficulties, putting more effort into relationships, and having more meaningful interpersonal relationships (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). Examples of highly challenging life circumstances where posttraumatic growth may occur include the death of a loved one, job loss, ending a romantic relationship, serious illness, or an unexpected accident.

I’ve recently started to research posttraumatic growth and a few interesting components of the phenomenon include:

1.) Struggle
2.) Highly challenging life circumstances
3.) Experience of positive change

Interestingly enough, the experience of positive change would not be possible without the struggle or highly challenging life circumstances. I am not trying to diminish the significance of traumatic events. While going through a death of a loved one, job loss, or end of a romantic relationship, it is normal and understandable that we would experience pain, hurt, and deep sadness. Grieving these losses puts us in touch with our humanity and allows time to feel how truly important these people and events are or were to our lives. During this time of feeling our sadness and grieving the loss of what was; or what could have been, we should nurture ourselves and trust ourselves that we are doing the right thing.

The struggle we go through during these incredibly difficult times can have value. They can add meaning and greater understanding to our life. The struggle that occurs during highly challenging life circumstances is also capable of helping us develop qualities, capabilities, and desires that would not be possible to develop in the presence of easy or comfortable conditions.

Posttraumatic Growth is not a new concept. It has it’s roots in spiritual texts. For example, Romans 5: 3-5 states:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope… 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Peace,
Matthew Welsh
Founder of Spiritual Media Blog