Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Make New Year's Revolutions, Not Resolutions

It is traditional for people to make New Year's Resolutions, and it is just as traditional that a great many, if not most, of these fall by the wayside after just a few months. Why is that?

Perhaps it is because we put things on our list for the wrong reasons. For example, if we say that we want to quit smoking because everyone else tells us that it would be good for us, but in fact we really like the taste and feel of it, this resolution will maybe last a few weeks while everyone is encouraging us, then fall by the wayside as we resume smoking.

Now, when a person decides that they really don't feel like smoking any more and it is their own desire to quit, they will. I used to be a smoker myself, and nothing anyone else said about it made any difference until I decided to quit. Then it was over. No patch, no chewing gum, no support group. I just quit and have not smoked again for more than 30 years now.

What is the difference? Our own desire is always more powerful than whatever other people tell us is good for us.

The same holds true for the other most often mentioned resolutions, losing weight and working out. When we decide that we really will do it, we exert a great amount of will and desire, taking the appropriate actions to change what we eat and how much and get up and exercise.

When we are ready to actually make the conscious decision and take the actions because we decided to do so, we will be making New Year's Revolutions, and we will make changes happen in our lives. These will be Revolutions, Not Resultions. Don't waste time with resolutions. Only make revolutions.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pattern Recognition # 7 - Smaller, Greener Houses

Yesterday I saw a fascinating article about how they are building more fuel efficient homes in Germany. They are built with more insulation, double windows, excellent weatherproofing, and they cost little to keep at comfortable temperatures. One noteworthy feature. They are built as 1500 square feet or 2000 feet, based on a calculation of 500 square feet per person. They are heated by passive solar energy and have the most advanced ventilation and air filter systems.

In the U.S. in 1950, the average house was 1000 square feet, by 1970, 1500 square feet, by 2006, it was 2500 square feet, and all during this time, the average American family was getting smaller. Today, many affluent American people have houses that range from 10,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. Not only is that a lot of space to decorate and clean, but a lot of space to heat and cool.

All of this is interesting not only because of the green aspect of how much resources and energy it takes to live comfortably, but also a skewed sense of priorities also contributed to the current financial scandals in the mortgage and banking industries.

Not being a real estate professional, the significance of certain facts escaped me. For example, when I lived in Atlanta, I saw neighborhoods of sturdily built brick apartment buildings with plenty of greenery and trees in between torn down to make way for townhouses or condos sporting price tags "from the low 250s." It would be common to see one old house with a nice sized yard torn down to make way for a cul-de-sac with half a dozen McMansions squeezed in.

I used to live in those apartments that were torn down for a very reasonable rent, so I wondered how much the mortgage would be on those new places. I figured that I would need to get married and we would both need to be making a really good income, and both paying the mortgage in order to afford to live in the same neighborhood now.

When I looked around Colorado I saw similar patterns. All the home builders it seemed, wanted to be in the business of building really upscale neighborhoods. I can understand that desire and that reasoning. And I also know that there are lots more people making modest incomes than fabulous incomes.

So maybe that was one of the reasons lots of those crazy mortgage plans were born. Real estate agents had lots of inventory of quarter million dollar homes and half million dollar home and up to sell, but everybody was not making enough income to afford them. So the books were cooked and people who just had average incomes were placed in mansions. Perhaps if more home builders were building modest homes more people would have been able to afford them without all the screwy financing deals. That would have made the profit margins more modest, but then again, that would have followed a different plan. The push for bigger houses was about looking for a higher margin on each unit. Profits are good, of course. We are all in business to make money.

The valuable lesson from the pattern is this. More modest sales, but a greater quantity of them, produces a steady stream of profits over time. Putting more big ones on the market is a crapshoot. It could mean bigger profits, but that is only if there are enough customers who can afford them and want them. Now, of course, we have seen that the crapshoot did not pay off. Not only are there not profits because there were not enough customers for the products, but the foreclosures are making it harder for other people too. Less people are able to afford the bigger houses, plus the glut of foreclosures has driven down the value of the houses of people who did not have any problem affording what they bought.

Maybe the Germans have a better idea. Build greener, smaller, more affordable houses and all those people making modest incomes will be able to afford to live in them. That is what happened in the housing boom in the U.S. following WWII. Modest houses that everyone could afford were the main focus. Of course, luxury homes were build too, but there were many more houses that were affordable to anyone who had a decent paying steady job.

The lesson from the pattern can be this. Smaller, greener houses can work for everyone.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Books and Personal Growth

During the last 30 years or more bookstores have served an important place in our culture. Independent bookstores were traditionally places run by people who knew and loved books. For many of us interested in personal growth, independent stores were a place where you could go and find interesting titles. Store owners frequently could suggest things you might like, based on conversations with you. These same stores were the same ones that would invite authors in to speak and sign books. You could always depend on good independent stores to stock not just bestsellers and recent offerings, but usually some old classics and offbeat titles that maybe were never big sellers in the way popular romances or mysteries were, but would always be in vogue with seekers of all types. Independent stores were among the first to offer a cafe where readers could sit and talk.

Then came the huge wave of expansions of the two largest chains. First they wiped out the profit margins of the independents by offering best sellers for 30% or 40% off. They also expanded to carry things that formerly only the independents carried, like tarot decks. Mostly, they carried whatever was popular at the moment rather than a deep inventory, and they rotated it every three months. So that meant if you wanted a title that was not in stock, they would order it for you.

But then came the web, both Amazon and other sites where you could order out of print and hard to find books with a click of the mouse. Not only that, but frequently, they would have even lower prices than the chain stores. Now that the chain stores had build one in every mall and shopping center, many independent shops folded, now the chains themselves are struggling to keep up with the online stores.

I think that independently owned stores are a good thing. It is good to have a place where you can hear authors speak, relax with a cup of coffee and conversation on a night out, as an alternative to a bar. Independently owned metaphysical stores also could be depended on for their bulletin boards or referrals, if you were looking for an alternative health care practitioner, astrologer or psychic. They served as community gathering places.

It will be interesting to see how the next stage of evolution unfolds. Publishing and books are undergoing a radical change, and since books have always played an important role for seekers, the next shift will no doubt involve the web, but there will always be a place for hard copy.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our Enduring Love Affair with Cards

As soon as cards became popular in Europe in the Middle Ages, card printers sprung up as a new industry in Europe. These printers made only cards, not books or newspapers. Cards have a fascinating history in both senses, playing cards and tarot or fortune telling cards. Even in playing cards, there were differences from time to time and place to place. The four playing card suits were not always diamonds, hearts, clubs and spades. Not surprisingly, playing cards made the trip across the Atlantic when Europeans came to this continent.

To this day, there are companies who make not just tarot, but interesting artistic playing cards as their only business. If you look at playing cards in the U.S. today, mostly they are pretty identical looking, and unfortunately the colorful jokers have given way to advertisements. But if you look at playing cards made in Europe, they show flashes of creativity and innovative design, not just with the jokers, but even with the pips (the cards from one to ten).

There are artists in Europe who create limited edition signed and numbered prints of their sets. They just like being creative and treat making decks as an art form. In other cases they may not be numbered and signed, but artists just enjoy creating these works on a smaller scale that a person could carry around with them, or just keep in a desk drawer or on a coffee table, simply to admire them at their leisure, the same way we keep art books on coffee tables.

Some decks are beautifully created and then printed on a large scale, but if they do not become best sellers, the publishers quit printing them.

Cards have a universal appeal. You can find them in about every home. There are a variety of games that can be played with them, and before TV became a ubiquitous form of entertainment, playing cards after dinner was something that families and friends did for entertainment. I helped my kids to learn their numbers by playing cards with them. Cards and making music were entertainments that people made for themselves. For a very small amount of money, you could buy a form of entertainment that could provide many hours of fun. Games that did not involve gambling for money were popular with both young and old people, and there were games in which playing for money is the main attraction.

No wonder Europeans developed a long lasting love affair with this new form of entertainment which is so simple that people can play quite a number of games besides blackjack or poker, and yet, even at this date, people still invent new games to play. So even though many things have evolved, 600-700 years after cards became popular, they still are, even though we have computers, video games, TV, DVDs and all sorts of other things to play with.

There is still a lot of magic, both in the little playing card deck, and in tarot decks. There is no end to the love affair that we have with cards.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Optimism for the New Year

We swing from optimistic to pessimistic and back again depending on how things are going in our life. Sometimes we have just gotten tired from the struggles. Then again, we can rest up, find a boost of energy from the support of our friends, and a solid perspective from our spiritual path.

There will be a new administration in Washington this coming year, and of course we hope that he will make some very strong, positive moves to make good things happen. Do I know for sure that Obama will do that? No, but I am optimistic that he will.

What about our own situations? Each one of us has to take that into our own hands and do what we can to improve our financial situation, get some exercise, make some new friends, learn something new that we can use.

And at the top of the list of tools that will keep us on track and help us to remain optimistic is staying in touch with our spiritual roots. By continuing our spiritual practices, we keep our eyes on the bigger picture. We have confidence that there is some pattern to all the things we do and have done, and from that draw some guidance as to where to head next.

Yes, some of us are having a difficult time, and some of us are going to be able to spot a good move, a good opportunity, and take it. Be optimistic that this can be you who finds a good move and acts on it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

In Tarot, Every Picture Tells a Story, and More

Recently I had the good fortune to acquire a tarot collection which included a number of unusual decks. It is really amazing to see how creative some artists have been in reinterpreting the cards to fit their vision.

You have decks that are aligned with certain mythologies, for example, with themes based on the legends and myths of that are Egyptian, Celtic, Arthurian, Greek, Norse, Voodoo, Native American and others.

There are also some based on various science fiction or fantasy themes, such as Lord of the Rings, Cat People, Vampires, and the Cosmic which features movie stars. There is also one based on the Classical Music Composers.

Back in the 70s, there were a few decks like Morgan's Tarot or New Tarot, that were very whimsical, done in black and white, with more of an editorial cartoon style of illustration and had humorous sayings and designs that might have been considered provocative at the time, such as interracial couples and a pot leaf.

There were also artists in France and Italy who produced tarot decks as a form of art, issuing limited edition, numbered and signed sets. And some that were not limited edition, but just not generally found in the US, which are beautiful and original in their design. One Italian set, that is major arcana only, is composed of all shamanic images, with the most striking being an image of the star as the sparks made from two stones striking each other, and strength depicted as a very pregnant woman. Another major arcana only set is based on classical art, with images from great paintings used as illustrations.

There are also new sets, which I have not seen, based on manga, a style of cartoons and illustrations developed in contemporary Japan.

Some of these I just like to look at, for the same reason I enjoy visiting art museums and galleries. Others are a course of study in addition to being a tarot set. For example, John & Caitlin Matthews' Hallowquest Guide that goes along with their Arthurian Tarot opens into new understandings and insights apart from any tarot reading you might do with it.

These sets of pictures can form a powerful set of tools that you can use with yourself or others. The ones that are most commonly available are the ones that have connected with people on the broadest level. The others that have been in and out of print have a lot to offer and unless you actually acquire one from another collector, you will probably never get to see one.

Of the non-tarot decks, there are some fabulous sets such as the Soul Cards, and there are also some interesting things that have been done with regular decks of playing cards by different designers. I have been delighted to see what beauty can be designed into a tool that we can use every day.

What I find is that even though I have more than one deck, there are a few that I like to look at and study and simply admire for the art and/or storytelling, there is one favorite that I always go to for readings. There is a familiarity which strengthens the readings, in the same way that a favorite baseball glove enhances your playing of that game, a favorite drum seems to invite more melodic playing, the way that a favorite recording soothes the soul, or the way a favorite chair seems to be the best place to read.

Tarot has given birth to a whole new field of art, where pictures are designed to tell stories and fit together as a set. Pocket sized art galleries as well as repositories of wisdom. And there is an artist for every taste.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward Men (Mankind)

Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward Men (Mankind). This is one of the phrases we always hear at this time of year, and of course, it is a sentiment most people agree with.

December is a time of year when many religions celebrate a holiday that has to do with the returning of the light. Christmas, Winter Solstice, Yule, Hanukka, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day and Saturnalia to name the most widely known.

I am just thinking how much more peaceful the world would be if every kind of religion simply did what they do with the people who choose to join them. In other words, no proselytizing by any religion. Just let everyone choose what they would like to be a part of. That also means allowing that there are those who wish to not be a part of any. Let people just gravitate to the choice they feel suits them best.

There are religions that just act that way, figuring that those who are interested will find their way to them. And then there are those who want to convert others to their way.

My wish for world peace is that it would be a good start if nobody tried to convert anyone else.

Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward Men (Mankind)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Does Having a Spiritual Practice Make a Person Optimistic?

Does having a spiritual practice, no matter what kind, tend to make us more optimistic?

My sense is that it does. If we have a practice, it tends to help us keep our bearings and see the bigger picture. For example, I am just as disgusted with the behavior of many corporations and government officials as other people. However, I keep in mind that if I keep on creating work that I love and focus on keeping appreciating the good people and the good things in my life that I will somehow make it through the difficult times. Staying connected to my spiritual roots gives me a way to connect with the universal life energy.

If we know that everything is cyclical, from the economy to fashion, our spirituality can give us the strength to do what we need to do to survive and succeed and also the patience to wait for the things that we cannot control to change.

In this way, spiritual practice and contemplative or reflective time that we set aside every day to connect with spirit serves to soothe us and bring us peace of mind. Something as simple as quietly enjoying a cup of tea, while simply mulling over our dreams, giving thanks for another day, pulling a card for the day, or reading something thought provoking can get our day off to a good start.

Pray or meditate in whatever way you see fit, and all the craziness in the world will seem a little less crazy. A sense of connection to spirit helps us discover the goodness in life and prompts us to look forward to doing whatever it is we do with renewed strength, vigor, hope and expectation of better things to come. Yes, this is an optimistic outlook.

To be spiritual is to know that whatever might be important right at this moment is not the way it always was or always will be. To be spiritual is to know that there are concepts that span great stretches of time and space. To be spiritual is to stretch our mind to embrace these larger concepts, these larger dimensions. To be spiritual is to greet this day and put one foot in front of the other as we walk toward our goal and look ahead to see what is on the horizon. If we are in touch with our spirit guides who walk with us, the conversation encourages us to keep on.

That is what our ancestors did. This is what we do.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Carrying the Raft?

A person asked me an interesting question the other day, then left before we got a chance to really discuss it, so here it is, for your consideration.

He was questioning why people need to continue using divination tools. He quoted what he said was an old Buddhist saying. Not sure if it is true, but I'll accept the question at face value.

It went like this, when you get to a river and use a raft to cross, you don't carry the raft with you when you get to the other side. So why keep using these tools. Why not just use them a few times to answer questions and then leave them behind.

As I mull this over, a few different things come to me. One is that tools such as tarot, runes or I Ching, can be useful every day. Some people use little meditation books to get a thought for the day to meditate on. Some people use joke a day tear off calendar pages to give them a laugh for the day (which can also be thought provoking.) Many people use these other tools to provide them a thought for the day. Unlike a calendar, a deck of cards, set of runes or I Ching book can be used for many years. So they represent an excellent value for the money.

The raft analogy may or may not be applicable for a simple reason. How many times do you need to cross the river? How many times in your life do you need to make a decision about love, money, business, family relationships, friendships, health issues and so on, where you could really use another opinion?

We use a dictionary when we want to know the meanings of words, so why not use a guide (tarot, runes, I Ching) that can offer guidance through a symbol that represents a pinciple? Many people consult other books they find value in, and you can consider tarot and runes to be types of picture books.

Maybe these tools are not so much rafts as they are bridges that you can cross over time and time again.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Yesterday there was a problem with our cable, so we had no internet and no land line. Cell phone can replace land line, but no internet access really stirs the memory.

There was a time when we got our news from local newspapers. Little towns had papers with local news and events and great cities had great newspapers that employed reporters to go all over the world and write about what was happening. TV news was full of pictures and a little bit of story. Radio news, depending on the program, could be more insightful because they might take the time to interview and analyze a story. There was a local flavor to both radio stations and newspapers. TV always tended to be more homogenized.

Today, most of us get information from the internet. Not only that, but many of depend on it to send emails, and maybe even post our own blogs and websites.

So when it goes down, we really are stuck outside the loop. Personal and business messages are not received and cannot be responded to. We get news through the computer, but when the cable goes down, all that is left is the radio.

What a strange thought. If the computers that power the internet were to crash, how difficult would our lives be? We are so connected through this technology that we cannot imagine not having it. Or can we?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shamanic Tests for Now

In ancient, remote and tribal cultures, shamanic tests were made up of challenges such as periods of seclusion in the wilderness with nothing but a blanket, a knife and a water bottle.

When a person survived such an ordeal, they came back with a new realization of life, new views and visions, a new sense that it really takes very little stuff to live in the world. Comfort can come from a fire, a blanket and a drink of water.

In today's urban and suburban world, we don't have to do that. Our challenges are different. For example, when people are forced to reevaluate because they have lost money in the stock market, their house note is getting harder to make, or they lost it. Or they got laid off from work, or got a pay cut or a lower paying job, now they will have to learn about shopping wisely.

For people who are used to just shopping for as much as they want on credit cards, frequently buying stuff that ends up in garage sales or yard sales barely used, the change in shopping to less frequent and more thoughtful can be a shamanic process.

The same is true for a person who really cleans house and decides to rearrange it to enhance the energy patterns. Sometimes we develop emotional attachments to things we have collected and are reluctant to part with them, even thought we do not use them. It is a sign of strength and growth to be able to let go of those things that no longer are useful to us, no longer increase our energy and ability, and have our space cleared enough so that now we have additional room to move in, to be in.

When we clear things out, there is room for more energy, more spirit, more life to enter. There is a place for us and whatever is next in our lives. It is a shamanic test to let go and really clear our space and then bless it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Strength

In winter, we see the strongest parts of the earth. The trunks and limbs of trees naked without their leaves, standing silhoutted against the sky. The snow covering the ground in white, making a stark contrast with everything else.

The strength it takes to bundle up and go out and do what you have to do. The care with which you have to drive and walk because of the ice.

The clarity of the night sky, dark blue with brilliant spots of light set in. Their light contrasted against the dark sky and the white snow.

We are looking at the bones of the earth, and we feel the cold in our bones.

It is a season for strength.

It is dark, and we love to stay in our cocoon, warm and cozy. A cup of something hot to drink. Some seasonal treat to eat. Staying close to someone we love.

That is also a strength in this season.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How Much Do We Need to Know?

Dr. Andrew Weil in his book 8 Weeks to Optimum Health suggested a "news fast" as part of part of his stress reducing plan. While that may strike some as a foolish suggestion, just consider how quickly the $700 billion dollar bailout of the banking industry went from colossal news to no news.
Most banks, of course, would prefer we forget.

How many other stories were huge and then forgotten? If major things are happening in the world, we will know about it because people will be talking about it, and mention of it will be inescapable. And truly, what of the big news is surprising? That people are getting killed in Iraq? That growing numbers of people are in favor of green energy and that some are not? That some people are trying to think of negative things to say about our new president even before he takes office while many other people are optimistic and hopeful about what he does?

Now consider more personal news. What is happening with your family, friends and neighbors? What is more empowering? Focus on doing things that help you feel connected and make you feel good.

I am not advocating ignorance. I am only saying that I am eager to see our new president put some of his talk into action. I would like to see the war end. I would like to see the economy perk back up.

Just as importantly, I have to do things to maintain my own health. I have to do things to help me obtain a peaceful state of mind, at least for a while every day. I have to do those things that will help me focus on creating the best life for myself that I can. Part of that is by earning income so that I can pay for things I need. Part of that comes from doing things that are of service to other people.

So what do I need to do in order to do that?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Feeding the Soul with Art

Art is something that can stir our souls and our tastes in art are very individualistic. It is so common that what one person finds amazingly beautiful another person cannot stand to look at.

Sometimes our own tastes change too. I hjave long enjoyed going to art fairs and if I feel a real connection to a work, and especially if I meet the artist and have a good conversation with them, I will get a piece and enjoy looking at it, maybe for years. Sometimes I can gain equal enjoyment from a poster or print.

But eventually, you can run out of wall space. So over the years, I have found great enjoyment in giving away art to friends. Framed art can be a very delicate thing to move without damaging, so it also eases your move. In the process, someone now has a nice gift, and you get to change the look of your place. The new art can represent a change in perspective, and a new meditative device for you. Ancient people long have used art as a way to achieve an altered state, a meditative state, a magical state of awareness.

Look at how much is being communicated to us through cave paintings. Even to this day, the messages they communicate are powerful and mysterious.

I have found that there may be some pieces we keep for a lifetime, but overall, I have found that the art that really moves me needs to change as I change.

Art can be magical, meditative, aphrodisiac, inspiring, energizing, so many things. Inexpensive pieces can work as well as expensive pieces. Whatever moves you. If you need an energy shift in your life, try changing your art.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

So Much Abundance

Earlier in my life, I used to have huge collections of books, music and art. After a while, I came to realize that I could live without so much of it. There was a time when I had so many CDs that if I played different ones every day all year, I still could not hear them all.

It's not that I just went shopping all the time. I was a music reviewer for publications and got lots of free demo copies. The flood of new music was just so huge, that I really had to make split second decisions on what to review or not, because the publications only had room for so many reviews, so I would give it a quick listen and if I liked it right away, I would try and fit it in. If I didn't like it right away, it was probably set aside forever. Of course, I would always find time to play my favorites again and then I realized that out of 2,000 CDs, maybe 100 got played a lot.

That was an awakening experience. I enjoyed having and hearing it, but when you get right down to it, even if a person only bought all the things I gave good reviews to over the years, they would have more than they knew what to do with. Over time, I gave away a bunch to my friends and traded some at used music stores. And I still had tons.

It brings up the whole question of how much is enough? Sometimes I would just sit in front of my collection and try and select something I wanted to listen to, and find myself not even knowing where to start. To use another example, suppose you were at a buffet and they had all kinds of good food on it. So you try the things that look most appealing, then you go back and try a few more things. And you want more of the things you really liked, yet you see so many more things you have not even tasted yet. You feel full and can't even taste any more, yet it is tantalizing because there is so much more to taste.

Now I have only a small portion left of what I had, and I listen to only some of them over and over. 100 or 200 CDs is a lot of music. When you look at what you have, how would things change if you just kept what you really listened to. You would have more room on your shelf, wouldn't you? It is amazing how the abundance can be overwhelming. Less is more, when you really enjoy and appreciate it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Entertainer

Today I was filling out a profile on a networking site that is business centered rather than social networking. You have to select from an established menu what type of business you are in. The only choice that was even sort of appropriate was "entertainer."

Some readers, tarot or otherwise, might take exception to being called an entertainer, since they may see themselves as performing a serious service for their clients. But I got used to being referred to as an entertainer years ago when I worked the Renaissance Festivals.

I have also worked parties hosted by business owners who regarded me as an entertainer for their guests. I feel that if regarding this as strictly entertainment allows you to relax and engage in the process, that is fine.

Of course it will seem mysterious to the person who wonders how it could possibly be that someone who merely interprets randomly dealt picture cards could tell them anything relevant. Yet, it happens all the time of course. It is mysterious, fascinating and beautiful to stare into the face of the mysteries of life and find a thread that describes a pattern in yours.

It also becomes fascinating when a person takes action on something the cards reveal and they find that it yields a good result in their life. So it can be entertaining because I always try and present what I am getting with liveliness and humor, where possible. And sometimes it is entertaining for the person getting the reading, because they are the main character in the story they are reading, and who doesn't enjoy taking a turn in the role of the star?

Yes, I am that kind of entertainer.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Belief and Knowing

Belief, by definition, means that we do not know. There are things we know from experience. Beliefs are a matter of choice. Knowing is what we have after experience. Belief is what we have when we like to think that things are a certain way.

We know that fire is hot and if we stick our hand on a hot stove we will get burned. We know that from experience. Thinking that heaven is some big picnic ground where angels play harps is what some people believe because they find that vision comforting.

Heaven may or may not be like that, but you can bet that if you put your hand on a hot stove, you will get burned. See the difference?

When we act from knowing, there is a strength. We can be fairly certain what will happen because of experience and history. If you say that you know something, there is a certainty based on experience. If you say you believe something you are saying that you think or hope it might be true, but you don't know.

Belief can also be a source of strength, but it must, by definition, be more flexible. When we choose to believe something, but then we have an experience, we must incorporate that into our belief system because we cannot simply ignore it. So then our beliefs may shift.

Have you ever contemplated the differences between what you know and what you believe?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Isn't It All Just Preference?

In some ways spirituality is a form of entertainment. Yes, spirituality can be a serious subject, and sometimes it is good to take a lighter look at it.

Think about it. Those of you who prefer reading Neale Donald Walsch's books like his style and his story. Those who like reading Marianne Williamson like her style and her story. Those who like Tolle like his style and his story. Those who like the books and talks of any other popular author/speaker, it's just a preference.

So when you buy books by Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Julia Cameron or Louise Hay or anyone else, you pay some of your money to read their books or listen to their recordings. It's just a personal choice. No one has to listen to any of them. We just choose to. And we have chosen differently many times over the years.

That's why people whose books sold well and were much talked about 10, 15 or 20 years ago have given way to others. Some, like Ram Dass have had a long lasting influence. Brian Weiss has had a lasting influence. So has Dannion Brinkley. What was the impact of Shirley MacLaine or Marlo Morgan? James Redfield, Dan Millman or Bernie Siegel? Richard Bach, Leo Buscaglia, Shakti Gawain or Margo Anand? Gabrielle Roth, Dalai Lama or Caroline Myss, Abraham/Hicks?

The income of the whole bunch of them together wouldn't be a drop in the bucket compared to the collections taken up each week by organized churches.

And those represent choices in taste and style too. Whether you choose the local church or a guru from India to get advice and insights from, it is simply a preference for style.
Popular author/speakers only get money from you when you buy something from them. Churches, on the other hand, ask you to tithe 10% of your income. But isn't following the teachings of one author/speaker or another, then changing, the same as moving from one church to another because you like the style of the minister or the feeling of the facility?

Don't we all just choose teachers we enjoy listening to? Don't we all choose not only the message but the messenger we feel comfortable with? And why not? Doesn't it make sense?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Contrasts in Oracles

One of the most fascinating things about tarot decks is that so many artists have reinterpreted it using their own style, ideas and imagery. It is still a powerful set of symbols no matter which set we are speaking about. There are so many artists and so many styles. There are an infinite way of making a picture of lovers, a merchant, a soldier, a wise man, a priestess, a king, queen, magician, and the scenes from everyday life, people working together, quarreling, building, eating, playing, resting.

Some of the images are timeless, others are the flavor of today or this artist's imagination or philosophical preference. And other designs are very ephemeral, and will be known only by collectors of the odd and curious.

Runes, on the other hand, have remained impervious to all the artists over the millenniums that have come and gone. That suggests to me a reason for their staying power. They address primal needs, primal instincts and eternal values. A simple glyph indicates home, wealth, health, needfire, water, gambling, strength, the divine. Although over time our homes look different, our wealth takes different forms, our ideas about the divine change, these timeless marks represent things that have been important to people since caveman days.

The I Ching has also remained a reliable oracle, with different people trying their hand at translating the verses, but no one has changed the hexagrams. They are set and have been for thousands of years. Similar to the runes in that they represent things that have been important forever in civilizations, the particulars of how we perceive or portray what is important now can change. We may have different ways of saying it now, but what is important now was important to our ancestors.

Oracles can remind us of the roots of matters and as we let them play out, they may appear to be different, according to our individual imaginations.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Syncronicity 2

I think that Law of Attraction certainly is related to synchonicity. But there is a difference between times when our thoughts, words and actions are openly in agreement, or secretly in disagreement.

How many times do we have inner conflict that is not expressed?

Sometimes the synchronicity can be a wake up call to a person's true intentions. Maybe the universe knows that you are thinking of changing jobs, even though you have not said anything to anyone else, and all of a sudden here is information on a job opportunity. Perhaps a person is thinking to themselves of leaving a relationship suddenly meets someone who encourages them to go ahead and leave. Perhaps a person is thinking of paying more attention to their health when suddenly alarming news from their doctor is followed by a coupon for a heath club membership in that day's mail.

There are times when the synchronicity is answering a secret desire, and so appears to be more of surprise than something we have been openly and outwardly seeking.

So it can come to us subtely as well as loudly. Synchronicity can be quickly explosive or quietly unsettling. It send diffrerent messages in different ways. In either way, it opens the way for what we really want. Remember the saying: Be careful what you wish for.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Synchronicity is one of the mysteries of life. Why is it that sometimes we think of a person, and all of a sudden we get a call or an email from them? Why is it that we are thinking about a certain subject, and all of a sudden there is a new article about it? Or we have a question on our mind, and we shuffle a tarot deck and the first card contains an image that pertains to our question?

There are no accidents. There are so many things happening simultaneously that I think that one of the keys is being open to seeing. When we focus our attention on something, we are able to see it. Synchronicity is a way of breaking our pattern when we find ourselves in a rut, always looking at things the same way. Synchronicity wakes us up with a surprise. It is the universe's way of saying "Hey look at this!"

For example, did you ever notice that when you are looking for information on a subject all of a sudden it is everywhere? It was always there, just that we weren't interested in seeing it.

Have you ever had the experience of wishing for an opportunity to do something, and all of a sudden that opportunity presents itself?

I feel that sometimes this synchronicity represents the confluence of events where we are applying our will and focus and so we draw things out of the chaos toward us.

In other words, we are meeting people, places and events in the world when we are ready. You know the old saying: When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Engaging with Our Essential Self

Have you ever felt the different kinds of connections between kinds of energy?

It feels natural and effortless to feel the Reiki energy moving, sort of like swimming and feeling the ebb and flow of the water. Sometimes I have to reaffirm that I am opening to my fullest potential. Then I feel the energy increase and pulse even stronger. When I work on people, it is easy to see their inner beauty, the radiant, sweet soul who is really there.

Their faces appear to transform and reveal themselves to me. I also sense a lot of that when I read for people, and so I think that these two abilities really compliment each other well. Openness to this seeing is something I want and welcome, although I am sure that there are some who are reluctant to open that much.

If we work in jobs that we allow us an opportunity to connect with others in spiritual way, we already are approaching this consciousness, because in order to do these kinds of jobs, we have to set aside some of the ordinary considerations of glamor and other superficial considerations to do what needs to be done for all kinds of people.

Some people are more open and develop this consciousness earlier, due to the nature of the work they do every day. I didn't develop a different perspective of consciousness until much later. There are kinds of working environments that open us to different levels of consciousness, and then when combined with a spiritual awareness, a closeness between people is possible in ways that bypass the superficial.

I always affirm that when I am doing healings or readings for people that I am in service to them and that with the assistance of my spirit guides I will bring through something that will be useful for them at this time. So if they are needing a perspective or fresh idea that allows them to make better use of information that comes to them, or the healing energy brings comfort to them physically, spiritually, mentally or emotionally, whatever they need at the moment, I feel the connection and they do too.

In either case, reading or healing, what we are doing is taking a look at a person in a way that connects to the essential self, rather than the superficial self. These different energy levels that we experience awaken us from the trance of every day life to reveal the other life we sense. It is this that we love to stay engaged with and prolong our exposure to, through readings and healings.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What We Do For A Living

Having worked in a number of different jobs during my life. there I will make an observation based on my experience, about how types of work affect us.

I have noticed that people who work in non-profits such as charities, environmental groups, or community service organizations are often possessed of a sense of mission and compassion that differs from much of private industry.

Frequently a characteristic you find among people who are serving what they feel to be an important purpose are willing to work long and hard for average wages and the whole time are consumed with an attitude of wanting to do the job as well as it can be done. This is related to the person's sense that what they are doing is more than just a job.

Now this same feeling can occur within a person working in private industry, most often those who came up with a new idea or invention and started their own business. They will feel the sense of mission and purpose in the same way that a person who is really devoted to a vegetarian lifestyle will feel perfectly at home in a health food store, or a person who loves literature working in a bookstore, or a person who loves music loves playing in a band or a person who loves exercise teaching aerobics classes.

Within the corporate world though, what most frequently happens is that we become mercenaries. We trade our time for a paycheck and there is no dream attached to the daily activities we do. We may be attentive and efficient and help the company make money, but our heart is not really in it.

Today, with all the turmoil in the markets, with jobs being offshored, long established businesses closing, corporations reducing or eliminating pensions, sick pay, vacation pay, group health insurance or other amenities, any sort of camaraderie or extended family type bonding is eroded, if not cut off completely. When our relationship to the company is strictly reduced to a bartering of hours for dollars, there is a certain sapping of our life force. It is a grind when people live for the weekend, when they just do what they have to until the two days a week when they can really do what they like.

Of course, there is a numbing to much of what constitutes the rest of a life too, when we are so dedicated to our work that it dominates all of our counsciousness. That is why I have changed careers a few times. When I worked in a corporate environment and was consumed with it to the point that I didn't have much of a social life, the company was happy, but I eventually was so unhappy that I had to quit. We need to have time to work and play.

And in choosing our work, we need to at least make an effort to find work that we can put some heart into. This doesn't have to be real ethereal. I mean you can tell the difference when you go to a restaurant and the server does a great job, has a good attitude versus one who looks like they are just marking time until they get off. You have also noticed it when you get your car repaired, the difference between someone who not only knows what they are doing, but also appears to care and be cost conscious too.

What we do for a living matters in a lot of ways.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It Makes So Much Sense, Why Not?

Just because an idea makes good sense, that doesn't mean that anything will come of it any time soon. Here are a couple of examples.

Marijuana has all kinds of uses, from medicinal to recreational, and its impotent cousin has many industrial uses, such as paper making, fabric making, rope making and so on.

Yet we have spent billions of dollars to try and eradicate it, but have we? No. It is still as popular and available as ever.

So why not just legalize it and tax it? Instead of spending money, the government would be making money. People would be able to partake of their pleasure just the same as if they were choosing to drink an alcoholic beverage or smoke a cigarette. Penalize people when they do something wrong. We don't try and arrest people if they have a beer at home. We do penalize them if they have a beer and then drive erratically, or commit a violent crime. So if we treated smoking the same way, lots of police would be free to pursue terrorists, rapists, robbers and murderers and others who cause problems.

How about one more example? The Cuban trade embargo. What purpose does it serve? It didn't drive Castro from power. He simply retired from old age. If we are not trading with them because they are a communist or socialist country, then how do we justify opening trade with China? The fact that one market is bigger than the other does not alter the principle. Or does it?

What would happen if we opened trade with Cuba? Well, probably the first thing that would happen is that it would become a favorite vacation spot for Americans. Then lots of new businesses would open up to import and export products. If trade can help build relations between countries and promote democratic ideas then we would be destined to succeed.

It Makes So Much Sense, Why Not?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Conscious Giving and Receiving

What is the essence of giving and receiving?

Now that may seem to be a simple question, but follow it through for a few moments. How often do we give a person something because they really need it or want it? How many times have we given gifts because we think it is what is expected of us on the occasion? How many times do we give gifts simply to curry favor with the other person? How many times have we given our children a gift because other children have one just like it, and we don't want them to feel left out?

Have you ever been the recipient of a gift that you didn't want or need, because it filled the need of the giver to try and score points with you somehow, rather than a real heartfelt effort? Where did those gifts end up? Yard sales? Thrift shops? Passed on to someone else when you had to come up with something but didn't really care to put a lot of effort into it? The garbage?

How many times is our giving simply conforming to social convention, rather than coming from the heart? How differently would we approach gift giving if we let our heart direct us?