Monday, April 15, 2013

American Mystic

Tonight I picked a movie off Netflix instant downloads to watch and it was a great find. It is a documentary called American Mystic by Alex Mar and I loved it. I think that this is one of the best films on the subject of alternative forms of spirituality I have ever seen. The viewer really gets the feel of why these people do what they do and what they get out of making their spiritual practice an important part of their lives. I deeply appreciate that the film neither took the approach of "look at those weirdos" that many documentaries do, or the other type of documentary that is all about trying to explain different theories of spirituality. 

You really get to just be with these people for a little while and see what they do and hear them talk about how they feel about it. Because of this approach, you will probably hear things in the movie that you don't understand, and that's fine. The curious people will go look something up to try and find answers to their questions. And prompting thoughtful questions is a good thing. I love the movie. You can check it out for yourself and see what you think. If you are just noticing the movies that are hyped all over the place, this is one that, like me, you probably never heard of. Glad I discovered it. The photo below is of Alex Mar, the director. The one at the top is the way the jacket of the film looks.

Everyday Trances

Everyday life is a trance state that we often don't know we are in. The rhythms of what we do hooks us into a sense of reality. We often forget that we have free will and can change that reality. Who says that we have to keep it that way?

Trance is effective when we have repetitive tasks to do. Routine work just flows along when we are in a trance groove.

Notice also how in spiritual rituals there is always some repetition in the things we do to create the trance state that alters our focus, our reality, so that the ritual will flow.

Trances in themselves are neither good nor bad. They just are. When we recognize them, we can decide if we want to stay in them. When we have work to do, whether it is the trade your time and energy for money kind of work, or the just doing something because you like it kind of work, we expand our efficiency and our satisfaction with what we do by using trance as a tool to achieve goals. Rhythm is the key. Find the rhythm and use it.

In all of life there is a rhythm. In all of the things we want to do or need to do, there is a rhythm. Find it and you will be happier. Find it and you will love your life.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pencil Magic

During the space race, NASA wanted astronauts to make notes while on their journeys. One little thing tripped them up. Zero gravity kept the ink in ballpoint pens from flowing to the point of the pen. The Americans assigned inventors to solve the problem and they invented little pumps that would fit inside the pens and would pump the ink to the point in zero gravity.

The Russians chose a simpler solution. They used pencils.

That story makes me smile.

I'm a pencil kind of guy. I always favor the simplest approach that will get the job done. In many areas of life, we may often look for some complicated solution, but the answer we need is actually very simple. In magic, you may often hear the expression, "hidden in plain sight."

How many times do we find ourselves in a situation and we dance around taking the simplest solution?

How many times are we the person who has a problem to solve, but we miss the simple solution right in front of us?

How many times do we think of explanations for why we are not on track, rather than just following our gut instinct and going for it?

Pick up the pencil and start writing. I still use pencils, old yellow #2. Classic beauty, simple efficiency.

Jot down your thoughts and ideas. It is good to help sort out your thoughts and reflect on the possibilities. Make to do lists and make notes about your observations about what is happening now and what you want to differently. Use that pencil to make appointments and get things going. Look farther ahead to see what you want to have happen later this year.

The great thing about pencils is that they allow you to make changes. Appointments change, priorities change, and pencils allow your plans to change. In the working ideas phase, flexibility is everything. And as you progress toward your goals, flexibility is still a great asset because there is always more than one way to get there.

I always have a pencil on my desk because it also reminds me of another thing. It is about spontaneity, creativity and action. People pick up pencils to sketch out ideas in pictures or words. Picking up a pencil encourages a person to be creative and let the ideas flow out, as compared to setting it in stone, setting it in type, or putting it in ink. Our lives are a work in progress, and the actions we choose to take to advance ourselves are often experiments and ideas that we are trying out. When we pencil something in, we are putting it on the list of things we are going to do and the action of penciling something into our list or calendar is usually a prompt action in response to a fresh idea or a fortuitous meeting with someone.

When I used to do woodwork and picture framing, we always used pencils to mark the spot where we would take the more permanent action of making the cut, inserting the screws or joining it with other parts. Pencils were just one of the important tools we used so we always had one tucked behind our ear.

And of course pencils are always ready to write and if we make a mistake we can erase it and do it over. The pencil is always the action that opens the way for other action. Even in today's world where we all use computers, we still hear people who are negotiating anything from a home sale to a proposal for work to be done to use the expression that urges us to "put a pencil to the numbers" or "sketch it out for me."

Pencils come out when our creativity is flowing and we are beginning to act on those creative impulses.

Got you thinking about pencil magic?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Genius of Jonathan Winters

Jonathan Winters was one of our greatest comedians because you never knew what he would say or do next, and it would always turn out to be insanely funny.

Many popular comedians have a routine that we like and they do it over and over again. You can bet that the same jokes they tell on their recordings are the same ones you will hear in person.

He was an obvious inspiration for early Robin Williams when he used to do those manic routines where he would shift characters, voices and directions in mid-sentence, leaving the audience in stitches.

There are other ways in which he differed from other comedians, then and now. Politics and celebrities often set themselves up as easy targets, but that was never Jonathan's route. He just found life to be funny, and he peopled it with quirky characters who he could invoke with a change of voice or a bit of costume or props, but very little. His voice and facial expressions did most of the work. He always said that he didn't do jokes, he did characters.

He believed than anything is fair game for laughs and the things that popped out of his mind would leave scriptwriters at a total loss.

Laughter is one of the fastest ways to raise our vibration, and so I always enjoy including comedy into my life, whether on the radio, video or comedy clubs and those times when something humorously inspired pops into my head and out of my mouth.

Jonathan Winters was truly inspired and it was good to pause for a moment and pay tribute to a great source of laughter.

Doors that Open into Unexpected Chambers

Arthur Waite, the author who created the pivotal tarot deck popularly know as the Rider with artist Pamela Colman Smith, advised us "to look at the images in the deck as doors that open into unexpected chambers."

Images are powerful means of communication. One time when looking at a card, the central figure in the holds the answer to our question. Another time, looking at the very same card, a detail in the background captures our attention. Another time we look at the card and it is a detail in the foreground which speaks to us. Other times when we draw the same card, different stories come to mind. Why? It is our feelings that guide us.

On a given day, in a given reading, we suddenly get the feeling that this aspect of this image, together with the other cards that have been drawn, drive the narrative that answers this person's questions. Feelings are an expression of intuition. We may not know what was on the artist's mind when they drew that picture, but we know how we feel when we see it. And that feeling leads to communication from the doors that have opened into unexpected chambers.

Here is an image exercise you can apply to yourself. When we hold images of ourselves, how do we feel? When we visualize ourselves doing the work we want to do, how do we feel? When we visualize ourselves how do we feel? If the image we are holding of ourselves is not one that makes us feel good, then we are not being true to ourselves and we need to reformulate our vision until we do have one that feels good.

That is why we often do not achieve our goals. When we look ahead and we do not feel great about the direction we are going, we lose the energy to press on and achieve it.

The pictures that serve as doors that open into unexpected chambers will lead us to surprising places when we look at those pictures and feel them.

Those who make vision boards create such pictures for ourselves. Those who retell their life stories from different perspectives create different pictures for themselves. Those who use their imagination to create pictures of themselves in their future open doors that open into unexpected chambers.

What do you see now?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tells Tell

They call it a tell when a poker player has some twitch, mannerism, gesture or reaction when they have a good or bad hand and the other players look for these things.

Likewise, when we are choosing a deck, we note which ones set us off, revealing tells. It could be that those pictures that stir something up in us are things that we need to focus on more in order to get the lessons that card contains.

Tells tell what we need to look at, and where to invest more energy.

If the art is moving us, it will help us on our journey.

Every Picture Tells

One of the fascinating aspects of tarot cards is that there are so many interpretations of how to read cards. There is, of course, a consistency in the structure, such as the 78 cards, four suits, major and minor arcana, and so on. And there is a good deal of agreement on meanings, but the more I use cards and the more books I read, the more my mind is opened to different ways of working with them.

Every different style of art opens up a new avenue for expression. It will, of course, influence and color the stories it tells. And some days, you may be more open to appreciating some art than others.

It all comes down to this. The artist knows what they had in mind when they created a picture, and they will usually tell you that in the books that are made to go with those decks.

However, when a person is simply looking at them to see what they can see without having looked at the books, different meanings and impressions emerge.

It is always that way with creativity. The artist has one thing in mind, but what other people see is beyond their control. At its peak of frenzy, that is what foments controversy, and even in quieter, more reflective moments, there are still sparks of enlightenment.

We all have different tastes in art, and that is why there are so many different decks to choose from these days. If you choose deck art that you like, then you will definitely get more out of that deck. Different decks tell different stories for different people.

And the cards are a magical key for connecting the visions inside to the visions outside. And that spark is what lights up a reading.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Yin & Yang, Hermit & Hanged Man

Have you ever stopped to notice how the Hermit and the Hanged Man are yin and yang energy characters?

Both need to spend some alone time in order to prepare themselves for their next step, but one is going within and considering all their options and reflecting on what they need to know and that one is the Hanged Man.

The Hermit, on the other hand, has spent a period of time alone, studying, practicing, acquiring wisdom, and how they come out to share their light with others.

We all need some time alone, some quiet time, meditation, reflection. We need to give some thought as to what's next, what's important, and what is the best way to do it. Then once we acquire that knowledge we need to do something with it. If we acquire knowledge and ability but we do not share it or use it, then it is simply a pointless exercise.

The results of our interactions with others cause us to pause and reflect and then go out and begin again.

Which phase are  you in right now? Hermit or Hanged Man?