Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween and the Spirit Dance

Here we are at Halloween, a beautifully dark fall evening. What began as a Celtic holiday, Samhain, for remembering our dead and wishing them well on their journey into the next world, is also celebrated by Mexicans as The Day of the Dead. Two different cultures, half a world apart, yet at the heart of the holiday is exactly the same sentiment.

There is another holiday specifically for remembering those killed in war, but this one is a time to say farewell to anyone we know who died this year. We speak our appreciation for those who we remember and acknowledge that part of the cycle of life, the ending of this physical reality as we know it.

This weekend also brings daylight savings time, so we set our clock back and enjoy the darkness. Tomorrow will also be a night at the symphony for music that summons richness and the orchestration of many different instruments, many different sounds into one coordinated sequence of movements celebrating harmony and beauty.

It is fun watching all the little kids in their costumes continuing the tradition, even though they do not know yet the roots of the traditions they follow, that of the soul cakes and the dumb supper. They celebrate the harvest of candy, and it is a great holiday for kids as a fun time to dress up and get treats from their neighbors.

Falling leaves signal the shift in seasons with more certainty every day, as less leaves are on the branches and more on the ground. We celebrate all that we have harvested this year as well, and we have some food on our shelves for the winter and we work and look toward the future, pulling a card for the year.

Spirits always dance on this fall holiday, and we dance with them.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Looking, Seeing

What would we do if we had every opportunity to reinvent ourselves? We do have these opportunities, but how many of us take them?

Every day is a new opportunity in which we learn to learn all over again. Tonight as I was looking over the major arcana of the Tarot, I appreciated them all over again and saw new things, gained new insights. Such is the power of the pack of pictures that we can lay out and enjoy time after time and still gain new insights.

Learning to learn about someone we know, someone we live with, we have the same opportunity to make every day new. The thing we must always see is that there is always another way to see. Our third eye opens our other eyes and sometimes our other eyes open our third eye.

Open your heart, open your eyes, open to open. What is it that you are noticing today for the first time, even though it is not the first time it has been available for your examination.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Actors and Our Favorite Roles

Consider the art of acting. People learn how to dress, act, think and speak like someone else, and since movies generally take months to film. They live inside the skin of this other entity they create and from the outside we see this other character, not the real person inside. A skilled actor can play many different roles, leaving us to admire what they have created, without revealing anything of themselves and their own personalities.

Recall Shakespeare's famous quote that "all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players."

All of us are actors, even though we may not realize it. Those of us who have never been onstage do not think of ourselves as actors, but there are many roles we play in a lifetime. Not only parent, child, husband, wife, athlete, student, lover, friend, competitor, mentor. Then there are the various guises of our careers. How many different parts have we played in how many different businesses? Do we not get inside the skin of someone else while we play these roles, then climb inside another skin when we take on another role?

Just as an actor has a favorite role he or she has played, don't we also have favorite roles we have played?

Is there any symbolic significance to our favorite actors and the roles they have played?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pattern Recognition #4- No Such Thing as Sin

You have to step back a bit to see how it all works sometimes. Just like there are religions that teach that we are all born sinners and we need to be saved, because our whole lives are tainted not only by that sin, but also by all the other sins we commit. Of course, that is a very shrewd move, making people feel guilty and then simultaneously offering them the only route to salvation, through their organization, of course, which requires regular chunks of your income in order to help rescue you from sin.

How convenient!

On the other hand, if you do not believe in sin, but rather that people choose of their free will whether to act well or act badly, then we can live every day from joy and love, because we know we are free to choose. Those who choose well enjoy good relationships with others and success in life. Those who choose badly will eventually end up in trouble or in prison. Even if they appear to get away with something karma will catch up with them one way or another. If we consciously choose to love other people and get along with them, we will never have any guilt or anything to apologize for. Makes sense, doesn't it?

Where else do we see examples of this sort of manipulation in life?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Consumer Culture Consuming Us?

We frequently hear the concept that our culture is based on consumption. What does that really mean? What is the nature of consumer spending?

Although the questions sound obvious, a little reflection reveals more. For example, although it is obvious that when we go to stores and buy merchandise, that stimulates producers to create more, and when that happens, jobs are created. Those of us who have jobs have the purchasing power to go shopping, and we also have to money to do other things. Those are the consequences of our actions.

Insights from the current crisis are causing many people to rethink these patterns. One of the consequences of people scrambling to find the money to keep their homes from foreclosure is that there has been an explosion of yard sales. Suddenly, the focus of the goal is shifting priorities. All those furniture pieces, decorative items, toys and knicknacks are suddenly out in the yard available for whatever someone wants to pay for them. Yet not so long ago, people were scurrying around malls looking for things to fill their homes with. Last year's cherished purchase is just another piece of stuff outside waiting to be hauled away. No doubt many of those sellers wish now that they had the money they spent on those things.

This pattern has been evolving for a number of years where the average house has been getting bigger at exactly the same time as the average family has been getting smaller. As the houses grow in size, of course, they also grow in price. Just like auto makers have choked on their decision to focus on bigger and bigger cars, home builders and the banking industry have choked on their decision to focus on bigger and bigger houses.

People are now reevaluating what all this means. Suddenly a more modest sized house and a more modest sized car that also come with a more modest sized price seem like very smart choices. Those smaller houses are comfortable with less stuff in them. So what else would that money be spent on then, if we are buying less stuff to fill our oversized houses with?

Perhaps on education, for our selves or our family members. Maybe more on preventive health care and health maintenance. Maybe personal care like massages, body work, consulting with readers, counselors, mentors. Perhaps more on personal experiences like vacations, visits to sacred places, gyms, yoga studios, tai chi or martial arts training. Maybe more tickets for theatre and live music performances.

Consumption of tons of video games has contributed to a younger generation of people who are out of shape and more prone to problems like diabetes at a young age. Low tech consumption would have contributed to a more fit generation. Playing ball, but not necessarily organized participation, bicycling, walking and other simple things in greater measure make a difference in general fitness levels.

The race to always own the newest cell phone, the biggest TV, the newest whatever also means that you have to work more hours to pay for all that stuff. So not buying all that means you have more time to spend with other people.

What about employment? What if our brightest minds were in a competition to make the most efficient energy systems to power our grids with renewable sources instead of being devoted to developing a hundred more flavors of potato chips and cell phones with more gizmos and games? Money would still be spent and new jobs would be created, but with much more beneficial results.

Of course, we will always be making money and buying things because these exchanges are necessary to life. So what if instead of always tending to think that bigger is better, we made more conscious choices? We vote for what kind of world we want to create when we spend our money.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What is Our Identity?

One of the most eerie crimes is identity theft. When a person loses things to a theft, that is upsetting, but things can be replaced. Even if your home has been broken into and you feel that your privacy has been invaded, it would still pale in comparison to discovering that that someone else has been going around pretending to be you.

Imagine if someone hacked into records and erased your identity and someone else was using it. What if you lost it and could not get it back? You would still be the same person, but without your documents, would you feel like you had a life?

Funny how some pieces of paper can make us feel so different. It would have to feel like the strangest experience if you suddenly found yourself unable to do ordinary things if you could not prove that your are who you are. But your identity is not really you. Or is it?

If you lost all your ID's, and you could not prove you were you, who would you be? How much of who we are is tied to our identity? It is a strange concept isn't it?

Friday, October 24, 2008

End of the World? No, Thanks

Every so often, people will bring up the subject of 2012 because some people say that is the end of the Mayan Calendar and they believe that some phenomenal change will happen that year because of that fact.

Remember Y2K? In the run up to that New Year at the turn of the millennium, lots of people bought into the notion that computers would not be able to figure out the date change and our entire civilization would come to a screeching halt. Of course that did not happen, did it?

Common sense dictated that there was a problem that needed to be fixed and there were too many people who had a stake in finding a solution to let it all fail. Some people ended up with lots of huge cans of mac and cheese and other goodies that they can be snacking on for a long time.

What about the Mayan Calendar? What if those old stone carvers from so long ago just got tired? What if they figured that all that carving a couple thousand years ahead was a lot of work and that some other stone carvers could continue the work several generations from then?

Yes, I spend absolutely no time worrying about the meaning of the Mayan Calendar. I am planning my life and acting accordingly as if that date will simply come and go, just as Y2K did. A famous radio talk show host who featured a lot of jabber about the great coming Y2K collapse featured lots of advertisers on his show selling survival gear and supplies for the great disaster, like hand cranked radios, night vision goggles, tons of canned goods, all kinds of stuff. He was too embarrassed to continue his radio show after the world failed to end on time. Of course, he and his advertisers must have made quite a tidy sum stoking people's fears.

The popularity of the idea of the Law of Attraction right now certainly would indicate that we need to think positively about our future. If some sort of critical mass of people started really believing that the world would come to an end, no good will come of it.

Interestingly, around the time of the first millennium shift there were also people who thought the world would come to an end because a thousand year span seemed huge to them.

At various times leaders of different religious sects predicted the end of the world. Of course, they had to revise their teachings after those dates came and went.

My strong feeling is that we just have to live our lives in whatever way we feel best, and ignore all prophecies about end times. If we all just do what is best, our lives will be better and longer, and this planet will be a healthier place to be.

Just remember, everything comes from either love or fear. Why waste our time living in fear?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How Will Our Elder Years Look?

In the future, as a survival tactic for those whose pension plans have failed or become inadequate, or those who do not have a pension plan or 401k, sharing houses may become popular.

One version of house sharing is co-housing, where each family unit owns part of a building, but the common areas are shared. Other people may choose to live and work on farms, although that would appear to be a less popular option.

Perhaps when we were younger we just pictured ourselves spending our elder years in our own house, but for many people that reality may be shifting. Look on the bright side. Having other people around can be a good thing to help keep your spirits up. It worked for a lot of us when we were young and single and shared apartments. Now that we are mature, it might be even easier and more fun.

It makes sense that if you are going to share a house with some people, then you probably would want to choose people with whom you have things in common, such as shared concepts, values, world views, etc.

So it may be a much more urban or suburban thing, rather than people getting together to work on a farm. But if you have a big house, the value of your portfolio has gone down, or perhaps all you have is Social Security, sharing a house might be a win/win.

Perhaps many people never pictured their elder years looking this way, but then again, not so long ago, who would have predicted companies eliminating or reducing retirement plans or watching stocks tank and real estate values plummet?

Several years down the road, sharing a house with like minded people might seem like a real attractive option compared to the alternatives.

Before the onslaught of the global trade agreements, not many people pictured our economy shifting as radically as it has.

Sharing housing in our elder years may offer a good solution for many people.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Imagining the Future

Science fiction always includes and enjoys playing with possibilities of all sorts. Authors enjoy imagining the world from different perspectives, making suppositions about what the world would be like had various events turned out differently.

Interestingly, many of the things that sci-fi writers included in novels later came to be true in real life.

Perhaps one of the real purposes that the really creative writers serve is to imagine possibilities for us before we even get there. They imagine various futures and then inventors, engineers, architects, chemists, electronic marvels such as computer work are then put to the task of creating new worlds.

Obviously among the various inventions are new social roles, religions, philosophies and so on.

I find that fiction often stretches the mind to explore new concepts and different perspectives of the world much better than non-fiction. Where general fiction may concern itself with subjects like relationships or family stories, and crime fiction and romance novels concern themselves with formulaic situations, sci-fi and fantasy may concern itself with much larger subjects, such as the evolution of civilization, the evolution of humanity, the existence of alternate universes, parallel realities, time travel, interspecies communication and other topics.

Kurt Vonnegut once questioned the whole notion of classifying fiction as science fiction. Sci-fi does tend to have lots of new inventions in it, but he noted that just because he knows how some things work, that doesn't make it science fiction.

Over the years, people have tried to shift the focus by calling it speculative fiction or referring to it as futuristic writing, but terms such as that were not quite right either because all fiction is speculative, although sci-fi in more spectacular ways. Every author uses their imagination to describe characters and their actions, let you know what they are thinking and saying. It does tend to be futuristic, but many take alternative views of history as well.

Sci-fi now generously overlaps with the style of fiction known as fantasy, and frequently you see stores stock those two types together. It is a distinction, but not the only one, that fantasy may more frequently go back into history or alternate realms on this planet, where sci-fi may tend to go into more alternate realms on other planets in addition to Earth.

The job of imagining the future is the domain of sci-fi and fantasy authors. What they offer us is a variety of possibilities to choose from. Once we imagine a future, we can begin to move into it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Our Mind's Eye and Our Other Eyes

Today the sky is overcast, the trees have golden yellow leaves, the black bark of the trunk and branches can be seen through the light colored leaves, and what was once a giant green presence will shortly be a skeleton silhouetted against the sky. We see the same thing in different ways on different days. Our mind then reveals different kinds of truths about it.

We could not see this tree this way a few months ago. Why? Because our mind got conditioned to only seeing it one way.

Imagination is what makes it possible for us to get a feel for what it is like to visit places we have not been, meet people we have not met, and experience things we have not done.
Imagination is what makes it possible for us to perform boring, repetitious jobs, and it actually demonstrates how much power our mind really has in that it allows us to do more than one thing at once.

Our imagination paves the way for us to do more in life. Athletes imagine themselves performing excellently, using their mind to prepare their body for the action. Painters and sculptors ahve to see the image in their mind before they can create it. Composers have to hear a song in their head before they can play it. Writers have to see a story in their mind before they can write it. Directors have to picture the movie in their mind before hiring the actors and turning on the cameras. Architects have to imagine what buildings will look like before they draw them. Computer technicians who create software have to imagine what they want it to do before they can create the software.

Our imaginations are essential to the function of our every day lives. Without the ability to see with our mind's eye, what would we see with our other eyes?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Evolution of Our Civilization

We hear about species going extinct and when they die out on their own, it is simply evolution in progress. For example, some creature that can only live in a certain temperature and only likes to eat one kind of plant, and then they cannot find exactly the temperature they like or the food they like. On the other hand, when a type of creature is hunted to extinction, then it is not time for it to leave yet. For example, the wolf was poisoned and shot just to try and make it extinct, not because it could not adapt to the environment or hunt for its dinner.

What happens in the natural world is a mirror for what happens in our man made environment. What kinds of things do we need to evolve beyond? Vehicles only get ten miles per gallon? OK. What else? Maybe always aspiring to own bigger houses. Getting one job and keeping it for a whole lifetime? That one looks like it is simply evolving away, unless we own our own business and that's all we ever do.

What are some of the things we will need to evolve toward? Building more green energy infrastructure. Building more desalination plants on all our coast lines so that we can use ocean water for our daily needs and alleviate droughts. Perhaps encouraging more people to choose cremation instead of constantly setting aside land for cemeteries. Perhaps converting more of our yards into gardens that produce fruits and vegetables instead of just grass.

Perhaps emphasizing trade schools just as much as colleges and universities as a path for people to learn job skills and develop professions. Perhaps reverting back to a more pedestrian scale environment in cities and towns.

What evolutions might we see in our lifetimes?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Consulting with the Oracles

On a day busy with readings, the energy sustains me in mysterious ways. I have noticed that being absorbed in the process of reading, that hours can go by without thoughts of food or drink. Time itself collapses. There is only a present tense exchange with the people coming to me for readings. And messages come through that I hear myself speaking, but I know I did not think of them.

Sometimes when the cards are turned, a clear signal comes through me that says "here is what this person really wants to know. Look past the cards."

When a person asks about the runes, I place them in their hands. The light dances in their eyes as they look them over and fall into inner space as they try and gather meanings from the abstract symbols, which is just about impossible if you have not studied the signs. When they ask how meanings can arise from such spare symbols, just lines on stones, they look at them again and again to see if there was something they missed the first time.

Mysterious energies are unleashed when the runes are cast or the cards are spread. And it is a pleasure to tap into these energies with those who wish to consult with the oracles.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Uplifting Ways

When we feel uplifted, we have a larger panorama, a longer range view, and more opportunities to make our choices based on love rather than fear.

Sometimes we need to step up to that higher ground in order to see our choices more clearly, and often, stepping up to that higher ground is a simple as taking a step. Literally, putting one foot in front of the other and taking a step.

If we are feeling depressed or that we have had a bad break in business, or that a relationship either with our lover or a family member has not gone well, maybe something as simple as going for a walk can change our perspective. Maybe something as simple as tai chi, birdwatching, dancing or singing can stimulate the flow of endorphins, our natural pain killers, boost our immune system, and circulate oxygen through the blood and into the brain.

Sometimes we need to hear a person encourage us and tell us that we can do it. Hearing that can cause us to look around instead of down.

Humor is another way of lifting up. Notice how much lighter you feel after watching a funny movie, going to a comedy club, or just spending an evening having dinner and drinks and telling stories with friends and relatives.

A different perspective is just a step away.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Empathy & Sympathy

These two terms frequently get confused because they are related. Empathy is when we can recognize what is going on with another person, understand it and relate to it. Sympathy is takes it a step further because there are feelings involved. When we sympathize with a person, we not only relate to the problems they are dealing with, we also have feelings for them and are involved with them.

When we read in the newspaper about a person who lost their job and lost their home, we can relate to their problems. But if it happens to a good friend or a relative, we have personal feelings about this, and we want to help, even if it is only to offer moral support or offer them what assistance we can.

In these times, many of us will be able to empathize with people whose stories we hear about in the news, and we also may find ourselves sympathizing with those we know who are having hard times.

We use our energy wisely when we help those we can, acting from compassion and sympathy. Empathy will serve us well in looking toward the future and planning so that we can avoid problems like these from recurring.

These characteristics are part of being a conscious human. They are part of our evolution.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Flowers Sprouting from Ashes

As I walked outside yesterday evening, there was a low cloud cover, very dark, but the color was silvery and it reminded me of that old saying about dark clouds having a silver lining.

Can there be a silver lining to this dark financial picture that we are facing?

Yes. Adversity can make us more resourceful. By forcing us to reexamine what we have and call forth knowledge that has been dormant, we now find that we have more strength or more ideas than we had.

Did you ever have the experience of trying to make a tasty and nutritious meal out of things that you have in the pantry because you haven't been able to get to the store because of a storm, or because money is tight or because you are tired from working and you just don't feel like going to the store?

Suddenly, as you look over what you have, new ideas for making a meal begin to arise. Hmmmm..............I wonder if this would go well with that? What if I make a batch of this and add some of different seasonings to it? What if I cooked a big batch of this today and combined the leftovers with tomato basil sauce tomorrow?

Similarly, we look around and see if there are some opportunities for making money that we might have missed. Perhaps there are some odd jobs we might pick up, or different strategies for expanding our business.

Times when we are really flush, we don't think much about being resourceful, because we don't need to be.

Nothing focuses our attention like necessity. Perhaps out of all this financial fiasco will come a new awakening, a new sense of values, not just about money, but about how we spend our time, our relationships, our energy.

Look back at some of those photos. After the great forest fires in Yellowstone, the following year, some of the most beautiful flowers and trees were sprouting up among the ashes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Coming into Harmony

Music is one of the fastest ways to bring people together. When we sing together, the harmonies of our voices blend, bringing us into closer vibrations. When we drum together, we are using some of the simplest of instruments to create sympathetic vibrations. When we dance together, we are moving our bodies to rhythms that bring us into a flow with each other.

Each of these methods requires little analysis or discussion, because our bodies and spirits are simply responding to the waves of energy that we are sensing and then helping to enlarge to include other people in with us.

When we make music with other people, we form agreements with them. There is an agreement that we want to sound good together, feel good together, enjoy each other's company, set aside any differences and work together to create something beautiful.

It is a very simple thing to do to make music together. These are very old traditions. Look at old photos and illustrations and notice how many old pictures feature a piano or other instruments in the living room. People used to make music as a way of creating their own entertainment.

Earlier in my life, when I used to play guitar, lots of my friends did too, and many evenings centered around getting together at people's houses to play music together. Later in life I took up drumming and going to drumming circles became a way that we got together to stir up energies, with open circles that anyone could come to.

For part of my life, I used to go dancing a every week, and there were opportunities there to find a great energy boost and forget the cares of the work week for a few hours in the company of a bunch of other smiling faces.

Music is good medicine for the spirit. Use it every chance you get.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Blood Moon

One of the old names for this full moon is the Blood Moon. It has an interesting symbology this year because of the events going one with the financial industry.

The old name came from the fact that this was the time for culling the herds and butchering meat for the winter. It was a time to make sure that you had enough feed for the remaining animals and that you had enough firewood cut to get you through the winter.

It is also hunting season, which is also about bringing home meat for food. Those who planned ahead and worked their plan were the survivors. Our ancestors who learned to hunt, gather, raise food crops and store fruits, vegetables and herbs were the ones who could survive the harshness and scarcities of the cold and dark winters.

In tune with this theme of nature, the people who have not minded their money well have suffered injuries. Those who have reduced their debts and set some money aside are in better shape to survive any difficulties that lay ahead. Those who continue to work hard and keep a sharp eye out for opportunities will be able to provide for themselves, their families and friends.

There has been a bloodbath in the real estate market, the stock market, and other financial companies. Ironic how it fits into the cycle of nature. The blood moon signals the time to cull the herds and utilize all of our strength, wisdom and resources to survive the cold, dark time ahead. If we do so, we will have what we need, and prosper in our next cycles, having learned our lessons and renewed our resolve to do better next time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Costumes We Wear Every Day

Did you ever notice what happens when we wear special garments? Is it coincidence that priests and ministers in organized religions wear special garments when they come out to lead a ceremony? Is it surprising that even unorganized spiritual leaders like shamans and witches wear special garments when they come out to lead a ceremony?

For many years now, the formal attire for business men has been a suit and tie. Although there many businesses are more casual in their attire, people still frequently dress that way for business events. Think about the judge's robes. When we see that person enter the courtroom, we know that that is the person who will make all the final decisions. We might not be as clear on that if he were simply wearing the same suit and tie as the lawyers, plaintiffs, witnesses and defendants.

We expect to see doctors in white coats and the nurses in scrubs. How often do we see carpet cleaning, landscaping, or moving crews in uniforms. Certainly package delivery company drivers and postal employees. Even those who work in oil change shops, grocery stores and some restaurants wear uniforms.

Why is that? There are times and situations where simply a change of clothes lets everyone present know who is in charge, who is the employee and who is the customer. Visible symbols signal the course of action to be taken, the flow of energy initiated.

The same thing happens outside of church, outside of work. When we are going to a special event, we sometimes wear special clothes. It makes us feel different for an evening to wear a dress or a sport coat or sweater and slacks. Once again, we are initiating a course of action, a flow of energy. There is a different feeling in the air when you are dressed up for a dinner in an elegant restaurant or a symphony concert, and so are most of the other people.

Contrastingly, there is a different energy in the concert hall or restaurant when everyone is in jeans and tee shirts. Not better or worse, just different.

Even though we may not usually think of it in these terms, the special garments we wear set in motion a flow of energy that may influence our exchanges with people all day. And a suit and tie or dress may be just as much a ritual garment as a robe. So might a tee shirt and jeans.

Every day we are wearing a costume, even if we think we are not. Notice how different you feel according to how you dress. We live in altered states every day, but typically we only feel different when we do something far out of the normal range, like go to a costume party. Actually, every day is a costume party.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Hidden Allure of Costumes

Halloween is a time when kids go trick or treating, wearing masks and costumes. It is a time when adults go to parties dressed as characters they wish they were or want to be.

When we dress in a mask and costume, we can mingle with people we know and yet be a mystery. When people see us out of context in real life, they are sometimes stumped, like the person you see at the office of a company you do business with, but then you see them having a beer at a concert, and they only look vaguely familiar.

Now add another layer to the mystery. You are deliberately dressed in a mask and costume, and no one knows who you are. You can say or do anything, because they do not know it is you. For this interlude, you are invisible in your costume.

Add another layer to the mystery and you are at a party where everyone is in masks and costumes. They don't know who you really are and they don't know who you really are. So you play with their persona. You play along with the man or woman dressed as the famous movie star, author, artist, musician, politician, athlete or monster. You come up with witty remarks that flow with their theme. And they do the same with yours.

For a moment, you can be anyone you want to be. For an evening, you can be as brave as Braveheart or as sexy as Marilyn Monroe. You can be as witty as George Carlin or as manic as Martha Stewart. For one evening, you could dress up as the Phantom or the boys from Stomp! You could be as spicy as Emeril or as nerdy as Bill Gates. You could be as naughty as Gina Gershon or as sultry as Sophia Loren. Be as clever as Shakespeare or as wickedly hot as Aradia. You could be as cranky as Frank Lloyd Wright or Picasso. You could be demented as an ex president still running for election or a market researcher surveying party goers about the new invention, the Orgasmatron. For one evening, you can try on that personality and strut your stuff, doing whatever you want to do, and saying whatever you want to say.

Be crazy. Get it all off your chest. It is a day out of time. There were other holidays throughout history where masks and costumes were used, but today, our greatest costume holiday is Halloween. Certainly, people throw costume parties at other times of the year, but this is the one everyone is in on.

Costumes and masks can reveal our alter ego, or our other personas. For one evening a person can pretend to be famous, rich, beautiful and handsome, crazy, musical, funny, charming, lecherous, evil, dastardly, daredevil, talented, romantic, poetic or foolish.

In real life, a person may be simply known as the bank teller, the waitress, the mechanic, the nurse, the call center agent, the accountant, the bartender, the grocer, the dry cleaner, the real estate agent, the copy center clerk, delivery man, the barista, the librarian, the vet's assistant or the maid. But for one night everyone can be a star. For one night, everyone can be who they want to be. For one night, everyone's dreams can come true. For one day out of time, it is permissible to make our dreams come alive, and act out our desires in the safety of anonymity.

For one night, everyone has an opportunity to see how it feels to walk around in someone else's skin. And for that same night, we can see how it feels to be on both the giving and receiving sides of that other person's skin.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Going to Extremes

As I completed the firewalk, I was full of the feeling that if I could do that, I could do anything. How many times in our life have we felt like that? Sometimes when we leave our comfort zone, many more possibilities open up for us.

Have you ever decided to do something, then focused on the goal, and accomplished your goal?

It may take different forms, such as working two jobs to save up for a large purchase, to save some money for a rainy day, or going to school while holding a job. It can also be learning how to make do on less money until we are able to make more money. It can be about learning a new job skill.

Or a non-job skill, like playing a musical instrument, learning to dance, learning to sew or cook, developing a talent we did not know we had, such as psychic ability, writing or art. Perhaps hiking a greater distance than we had ever previously done. At times we have to go to extremes to discover our normal capacity. How many people have taken up yoga or tai chi later in life?

Collectively, we are learning more about energy than we ever cared to know before. Back when gas was 25 cents a gallon, nobody cared how many miles per gallon a car got. This crazy escalation of prices is causing us to look for new solutions. Am I glad prices went up? No, of course not. But this extreme has forced us to be more creative.

Did you ever get over a fear of public speaking by volunteering to speak? Did you ever volunteer to do a job, either paid or volunteer, just to see what it was like?

We are also learning about what it means to be successful. Some people have learned to remodel or repair their homes themselves rather than hire others to do it.

Maybe lots of people needed to die of emphysema and lung cancer before we figured out that cigarettes were not good for us. On the other hand, maybe we needed lots of scientists and doctors to confirm that cannabis really does have medicinal qualities before more people would listen.

Maybe we had to witness excesses before we could recognize what was reasonable in many areas of our life. Maybe we have to be put to extreme tests to expand our boundaries.

Extremes can serve good purposes even if we do not want to always live out there on the edge or die trying.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Psychometry for Everybody

Psychometry, picking up psychic impressions by holding something that belongs to another person, is a very simple method for developing your psychic abilities.

It is also easy to test your accuracy, since you can ask the person who brought the piece if any of your impressions are correct.

Jewelry, watches, pocket knives, money clips, pens and personal items that a person used a lot seem to work best for this exercise.

Don't try and figure things out or over think. Trust your intuition and go with your first impression.

Psychometry is all about learning to get input through your sense of touch. This is also a method that is fun and easy to work on with your friends, because no prior training is necessary, and you don't need to read any books to understand the process.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gateways to Communication

One of the things that people new to the study of Tarot have the most difficulty understanding is that although the designers of the cards had meanings in mind when they drew the pictures, that each person who looks at them will get different messages from them.

That is why in readings, you can pull the same card for two different people and two different questions and get two different meanings. If you are open to communication from spirit, higher consciousness, or whatever you prefer to call it, messages will come through for the person requesting the reading.

Clients not familiar with Tarot are sometimes shocked when I tell them something and they immediately want to know what card said that. They are in total confusion when I sometimes tell them that none of the cards gave me a specific bit of information.

Think of the cards as your own personal art gallery or museum that you carry around with you. Similar to what happens to you in a gallery or museum, there are some pictures that you find fascinating and spend lots of time looking at, and others that you do not like to look at. So, some pictures have more to say to you, for any number of reasons.

Not so long ago, people had fewer choices of Tarot designs to choose from. Now there are hundreds or thousands. It is important that you choose one that you really enjoy working with, because then your psychic gateways will open more easily and fully.

When I bought my first deck there was no book to go with it, so I had to learn simply by studying the images and gleaning my own meanings from them. This was beneficial. I advise all new students to do the same. After you have been doing this for a while.then read the book, or other books about Tarot, you will find that some of what you think is the same as what others have written and some of what you came up with is different. Symbols do have meanings and designers always work in those that they like and find powerful. There are also simple straight forward reasons for choices such as a preference for color combinations or styles of art.

What is important is that this method of self teaching will help you become more confident and more comfortable working with the cards. There is no substitute for time and practice. After doing a great many readings, you will find that certain cards will always come up in certain contexts, or that certain meanings really work with certain images. After a great deal of practice, you will find that as soon as you shuffle and begin looking at a layout, the images start to speak to you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How Past Lives Affect Present Life

Many people are intrigued by the concept of past lives, while others think it is a foolish waste of time. The books of Brian Weiss, M.D. are an excellent resource on this topic. He himself was trained in Yale Medical School and raised in a religion that did not have reincarnation as one of its tenets. It was through working with clients that he discovered that when they recalled past lives that their problems would be relieved. It seems to be that the root cause, once reviewed, allows the person to see how a certain pain or phobia came to manifest in this lifetime. Then once those stories were recalled, they seemed to help release the energy connected to that problem with the psychic burden lifted, physical healing could also ensue. Of course, no one is saying that all physical problems have a psychic cause. Some problems are simply physical and respond to surgery and medicine.

Dr. Weiss began as a skeptic, and used traditional methods of talk therapy and psychotropic drugs to try and help his breakthrough patient get relief for her problems. Finally, after failing to make progress with any other technique, he tried hypnosis and suddenly she was recalling past lives. Suddenly, she was also showing signs of improvement.

Another way of understanding this concept is in reference to a technique called reframing. In other words, when we take a look at a problem from a different point of view, it is possible to get a different answer. If we like the concept of parallel universes and simultaneous lifetimes, this would be one way to explain why it works.Another would be that even within the context of a single lifetime, looking at the problem from a whole different story perspective allows us to experience it differently.

Sometimes people have an easier time recognizing the important points in a story when it is contained within another narrative. Think of the parallels. A person has a few marriages or a few career changes in this lifetime, but they don't see the pattern to it all. Then they relax and recall some stories of a farmer and his wife, or the troubadour and his lady or the hunter and the hunted or the noble and their servants. Being a step removed from the story can add clarity.In some cases, past life recall may cause you to want to do something different with this life. In other cases, it can be helpful in confirming the path we are already on. In my own case, I had a medical problem at birth. I always wondered why. Later on, I also discovered that certain abilities came to me naturally. And I wondered why this was so.

A past life story answered these questions for me. That did not make me do anything differently, but it gave me satisfaction to see that there was some sense to my circumstance. This experience strengthened my resolve to continue doing the things I have been doing, so it was useful in that sense.

Past lives can be useful in our present life. And who doesn't like a good story, especially one that you are in yourself?

Monday, October 6, 2008

When did you become an adult?

When did you go from being a girl to a woman? When did you go from being a boy to being a man? Whenever I have posed this question to a group of people, I hear a huge variety of answers.

Women might answer: when I left home, when I went to college, had my first sexual experience, had my first baby, had my first period, got divorced, got my first job, got my degree, got my first house. And so on.

Men might answer: when I left home, went into the armed forces, went to college, graduated from college, got my first job, had my first sexual experience, got married, got divorced, got my first house, became a father, and so on.

There is no one line of demarcation in our society today as there was in earlier cultures or tribal cultures where there was a specific ritual for young boys or girls to mark their passage into manhood or womanhood.

In some respects this fact has caused some people to feel uncertain about when they are really taking charge of their own lives.

But in other respects, we can see every one of these and more, as opportunities to begin life all over again, no matter what our age. As we get older, these points of renewal also include surviving a serious illness or the death of a parent, close relative, friend or loved one, the loss of career or job.

Each significant moment represents an opportunity to start life over and see everything through fresh eyes, in some ways we learn to live all over again. When we find ourselves adjusting to life without a parent or spouse, or having to learn a new way of making a living, taking up a different type of spiritual path or religion, learning new health habits, dropping the more vigorous, aggressive sports of our younger years for more gentle sports. All of these things reflect an inner and outer change.

The reason that there is such a variety of answers to the question posed is because there is not one right answer. There are many opportunities to begin life anew.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Our Soul's Migration

You could describe our journey into sleep every night as our soul's migration into another realm. It journeys into a landscape of a parallel level of time space and brings us back images or vignettes of that journey.

We can see our dream states as a time when other communications come to us, but they could also be when we venture out to them. In other words, do we travel to our dreams or do our dreams travel to us?

Perhaps our journey from this life to an afterlife can also been seen as a migration, when our soul leaves our body and travels from this reality to another one.

We can see our reincarnations as a soul journey from one time to another on this same planet, and there are those who think that perhaps souls migrate between planets.

I can't say for sure how it all works. Probably none of us will know until we make the journey ourselves.

Ancient people used to see signs and divine messages from the migrations of birds and their patterns in flight. Yes, there are the unmistakable weather patterns that they foretell, and perhaps the ancients were right. Perhaps there is more.

The birds may be a reflection of our own journeys through life, the difference being that our flights are unlimited.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Migration and Mortality

At this time of year, we see the patterns of birds flying south for the winter. If you live in the north, you mostly see times of year where there is an absence of birds and a time of year when there is an abundance of birds. If you live in the south, there are always many kinds of birds, and sometimes even more varieties.

The birds, of course, do this for their own survival, to get to the warmer climates and more abundant food sources. Over time, they have developed their own internal navigation systems which allow them to fly from one end of the continent to another in a pattern that flows through the ages, based on instinct.

They know, of course, that they must change locations each season, or die. And of course, every year some will experience their final journey. They may make it to one end of the trail or other and not have the strength for the return trip. Who knows what happens along the way. We too know that we must change or die, although we do not fly back and forth every season. Nor do we always move in the same north-south patterns.

What we do sense is that there are natural times for our arrivals and departures. We know that we have a certain number of years for our journey on Earth, although we do not know exactly how long. During this apprenticeship, we experience many things, the full spectrum of what it means to be human, and sense when it is time to move on from certain phases of our life. We may linger in one phase or mindset related to that phase simply because we do not want to let go of that one. But at some point, we move and change. At some point, we sense that we need to acclimate to the change of seasons.

All of this is not to say that we only have a healthy, vibrant active life when we are younger and when we are older, all we can do is sit around and wait for death. No, today's science has made it possible for us to live much longer, and enjoy an active life to a time beyond that known by our parents and grandparents.

As we are prompted to review our progress and achievements so far, such promptings sometimes come unexpectedly with the arrival of a magazine or an email or a news story about the passing of someone who represents a landmark in our life journey.

Then we look at the time ahead and reflect on whether it is time to migrate to another chapter in our life, we choose whether to pursue our dreams further or whether we decide that these were important to us at another time, but no longer matter. As we consider migration, we also ponder what actions are most important for us to take next.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Energy of Election Years

Right now, of course, you cannot turn on your radio, TV or computer without hearing endless chatter about the elections. That is to be expected in an election year.

Notice the energy right now. People who are advocating for their candidates are very intense, and that makes sense too. With an election coming in the midst of a war and economic turmoil, there are real issues at stake.

The interesting thing is that no matter how intense the debate and discussion is right now, in another six weeks, the election will be over and only one person will be the winner. And then we will all have to work together again, no matter which candidate wins.

Staggering amounts of money will be spent on advertising to influence us. Some people will study the issues to try and separate the truth from the lies, some people are party loyalists, some will cast their votes with whimsical abandon. Whichever the case, by mid-November, all of this will be over and we will either be rejoicing or saddened by the outcome. But either way, we will have to get up, go to work, and do the things we ordinarily do to live our lives.

Election years have a strange energy because for most of the year we are bombarded with campaign coverage, although most of it is just noise. Those of us who know who we will vote for will cast our vote accordingly no matter what is broadcast, sent to our computers, or sent in the mail.

For those who are genuinely undecided, there are still issues and personalities to sort through. Everything is is secondary to campaign coverage right now, and other things are happening beneath the surface, but within a mere six weeks, all the campaign coverage will be really old news, and everything else will rise again to the top.

How quickly priorities will shift in a very short time, and our attention will be refocused again.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Why Care About Life After Death?

One of the enduring mysteries of life is death. Why is it that we care about what happens after we die? Is it that the thought of just a short span on Earth is not enough for us? That we hunger for life so much that we want it to continue even if we have to imagine some other form for it to continue in?

Is it that we would like to have an opportunity to have a better life next time around? Is it that we would rather be someone else? Is it that we want to feel that life is fair and that there is justice and that somehow the good will be rewarded and the bad will be punished?

Concerns about what happens after death is a central concern of many religions. Everyone wants to have a happy ending in some beautiful garden.

How does that influence our behavior in this lifetime? Does it inspire us to act more lovingly, compassionately and kindly while we are here? In some cases, yes. In some cases, no.

Do we care because we feel a need to make sense out of the fact that some people die as children before they really have a chance to live much? Or we try to make sense of the fact that some people who are brilliant and created remarkable things died before they reached even greater levels of achievement.

What would be different, what would we do different, if we knew for sure that we only had one life, this life on Earth, and that when it was over, there was no further life for us?

The only real reports we have ever had from beyond death are the reports of near death experiences. Those people relate tales of traveling through a tunnel of light and being greeted by friends and relatives who have already crossed over. Of course, we don't get much beyond that because all those authors returned.

Do we keep reincarnating until we learn the important life lessons? Or do we just get one life and then get judged and sent to some permanent residence elsewhere? Why do we keep making up all these stories?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Reiki Principles

Those of us know Reiki are familiar with the Reiki principles which serve as guides to a peaceful, harmonious, satisfying life. It is part of what we affirm in attuning our selves to the frame of mind we intend to be in for the effective practice of Reiki.

They are simple, and you can easily recognize their appeal and usefulness.

Just for today, I will not worry

Just for today, I will not anger

Just for today, I will earn my living honestly

Just for today, I will honor my parents, teachers and elders

Just for today, I will show gratitude for every living thing

You may find slight variations in the translations of the principles from different teachers, but the meaning remains intact. It has nowhere near the variations you can find, for example, in different translations of the Tao Te Ching.

As in other metaphysical teachings, the focus is on staying in the present, so that consciousness remains fixed on giving each thought, word and action its due.

Being an ordinary human, it is a challenge and a daily reminder to keep on a good track. As a healer, the flow of healing energy becomes more powerful when the healer is fully present and focused on facilitating the flow of energy and the client is fully open to receiving the energy.

Even if you are not a Reiki practitioner, see if the principles serve you well. There have been many days when they have been beneficial to me.

Bubble, Bubble, Dreamy & Lovable

Bubbles are the the epitome of ephemeral baubles. That's why a bubble bath feels so luxurious. Clouds that sparkle with light and have no more weight than air, surround us, floating our moods and uplifting them. That's why we like bubbly drinks on special occasions as well. They lift our spirits so that we rise above being tired or stressed and stimulate our senses with each little effervescent pop that calls us to attention.

Stock market bubbles, dot com bubbles, housing bubbles. It looks all sparkly for a little while. They transform our world, the light catching our eye and transfixing our attention, wondering how long each bubble will stay with us. Their reflections hold out hope of some brighter world, where we can just place a bet and if we are right or lucky, we will never have to work again.

These are fascinating bubbles. For a while the world is full of hope, and the most optimistic prices are paid for things. When those bubbles burst, then we come once again face to face with the realization that everything is worth just what we say it is. That is the price until we say it is not the price. What is constant?

We like bubbles. Some people are already scanning the horizon looking for the next bubble, hoping that they can rise to the top of the bubbles while it is still early. One thing we realize though, is that bubbles cannot support a lot of weight. They look pretty, but you cannot construct anything with them. The look beautiful when they are on top and can just be the decoration, but more you depend on them, the more they disappear.

For a brief while, they are beautiful. And then they are gone. The place looks much different then, with just our bodies in the water, in the tub. Still very nice, less sparkly, but comfortable. We are glad to be in the water, glad to be feeling it caressing us, cleansing us, soothing us. Water pleases the senses well too.