Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Tribute to Ted Andrews

Lakota and Ted  photo

Photo credit: Dragonhawk Publishing

Probably all of us can point to some people who have passed through our lives and made a difference somehow, even if they themselves never knew it. A stray word may have been said. A direction offered. And through that interaction, we took a step; or were alerted to something otherwise unknown.

Ted Andrews served as one of those people for me. It was 1987 and I had just returned to Dayton, Ohio after living in Germany for several years. While there I had been introduced to metaphysics, my appetite whetted. But the opportunities to learn more, to participate in some circle in Dayton, were almost non-existent, or at least quite hidden. Through some diligence I found the Mountaintop Bookstore, a small enclave not too far from my home. And there I stumbled upon Ted Andrews, spiritual teacher, metaphysical author and kindly, gentle man. Back then, he offered classes in a small room of the bookstore. I took all of them and experienced something awakening beyond mere intellectual curiosity.

And I discovered that he still gave readings. When I went to his modest home it turned out that he lived only a few blocks away from me. He brought me into the front room and we sat across a small table from each other.

Intuitives often use accoutrements such as Tarot or other types of cards, palm reading, any number of things depending on culture. But for true intuitives these things are really extraneous because they themselves are the channel. Ted Andrews was one of the true ones. That day he did use an intermediary—the Tarot. But finally he looked earnestly into my eyes and took my hands into his.

“Are you a healer?” he said.

“No!” I was bewildered by the question and wasn’t even sure what he meant. With what little I did understand about that realm at the time, even the idea of his inquiry seemed preposterous—and downright scary. After all, the flavor of my life back then far from supported such an activity.

“Well, you have fire around your hands.”

“Oh, okay. I understand that. I’m an artist and I work with my hands. I paint.” I was relieved.

“No, this is something else. You also have fire energy very much attempting to enter your crown chakra. Allow it.” He said gently and then nothing more, knowing that any more at that time would have been too much.

Through 1988, a short year, long before I met Don Américo Yábar in 1994, Ted Andrew was my first spiritual teacher, someone who opened a doorway. Recently I was telling a friend the story I have recounted here and we became curious about what he is doing now. Doing a search brought me the very sad news that he passed in October 2009, still a young man.

Ted gave much to the world as a teacher, animal advocate, writer, a compassionate soul and clairvoyant. A great intellect who was able to translate complex metaphysical philosophies into everyday language. Many of you probably know his books, especially Animal Speak and Simplified Qabala Magic.

For me, he pointed the way, to something inherent but unacknowledged, a choice point awaiting. I vividly remember the moment he did it that day in his small front room. I have been able to draw on his soft encouragement over the years—and it’s given me courage. I only regret that I didn’t return soon enough to tell him so.

Categories: Healing, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Book Review: Acedia and Me – A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer’s Life

acedia

If you are one of those people who is unrelentingly committed to a path, particularly one that the world may little understand, and yet you have periodically fallen into doubt, there is actually a name for this affliction – much to my relief. Doubt is not really a good word for a state that can reach a level of deep despair and sense of futility. And yet it’s not depression in the clinical sense.

Acedia was included in the “eight bad thoughts” of the desert monks but was later inexplicably dropped when translated into the Catholic Church’s “seven deadly sins.” If only over the years I would have had a word for it, not as a sin but as a thought that can assail a person who has monkish tendencies or artists, advocates and others who probe the edges of convention. Then there could have been a level of comfort and normalcy in the experiences. But instead, the term and understanding of it was dropped into time, to be hidden in little known annals or diaries of people who had the courage to express it.

Kathleen Norris has done many of us a favor by writing a book about acedia, giving many personal examples and historical references. Taken from the book, “… the monk struggling with acedia is dealing with more than bad moods, psychic fluctuations, or moral defeats. It is a question of resolve that arises in the wake of a decisive choice for which the monk has risked his life’a danger to anyone whose work requires great concentration and discipline yet is considered by many to be of little practical value…”

Along with the author’s own writings, a real plus is in the last chapter, a collection forty-odd pages long of quotes, personal experiences from such luminaries as John of the Cross, Emily Dickinson, Petrarch, Dante, Evelyn Waugh and many others. Sometimes it helps to name something and I can sense a future essay of my own percolating. Read a Q&A with the author, plus an excerpt.

You may recognize the author’s name from her other books such as The Cloister Walk and Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. Read this latest book if your path has ever taken you into an unnamed state that may be acedia—or if you anticipate it could.

Available on Amazon and elsewhere.

Categories: Book Review, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

January 23 Lifepath Dialogues Gathering: Voice and Expression

Lifepath Dialogue GatheringExploring the many threads that weave together an expressive, celebrated life.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR AND JOIN US FOR DIALOGUE THAT MATTERS

You are invited! Please pass to friends and family.

JANUARY 23, 6:30-8 PM

FREE Monthly Gathering on Fourth Wednesdays

Creekside Center, 337 N. Rush Street, Prescott, Arizona

January’s topic:

“Voice and Expression”

Based on the post: “Voice and Expression”
By CARLA WOODY
Author of Calling Our Spirits Home and Standing Stark
Founder, Kenosis and Kenosis Spirit Keepers

SPECIAL JANUARY GUEST HOST:

YAQIN LANCE SANDLEBEN

Yaqin Lance Sandleben Photo

Yaqin Lance Sandleben is a Cherag, an ordained minister of American Sufism following the Chisti Sufi lineage of India. He leads the Dances of Universal Peace, Universal Worship Service and offers guidance on the path of spiritual awakening. Yaqin lives in Prescott, Arizona, where he has practiced pharmacy for 35 years, raised a family, and served the community in different ways—mostly through volunteering.  His interests in religion, spiritual development, and the awakening process began at the age of 12 in the Christian Church.   For many years he studied well known and obscure paths of awakening.  He began meditating 40 years ago and embraced American Sufism 33 years ago.   He has also studied and practiced Buddhism with many teachers, including HH the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan teachers.  His Sufi connection has led him to India, to the shrines of saints, and to the study of Raga, Indian Classical music.

Email: info@kenosis.net or call 928.778.1058

Categories: Healing, Healthy Living, Meditation, Spiritual Evolution, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Film Review: Genghis Blues


genghisblues

  Documentary Film by Wadi Rum Productions

If you’ve ever heard Tuva throat singing and been fascinated by it, this is a film to watch. Aside from that, it tells the poignant and truly inspirational story of blind blues musician Paul Pena. In the mid-80s he first heard throat singing via shortwave radio transmitting from Moscow and was enthralled. It took eight long years, but he tracked down the source, found a recording and proceeded to teach himself the unusual harmonics involved in this technique coming from the tiny Republic of Tuva, between Siberia and Mongolia. He also began to teach himself the spoken language.

In 1993 Tuvan throat singers came to the USA on their first tour and Paul attended a concert. There he met Kongar-ol Ondar, revered in Tuva, and broke out in an extemporaneous demonstration of his self-taught throat singing. Kongar-ol was amazed and invited Paul to Tuva for the international symposium. The film follows Paul and his friends as they traveled across the world and made fast friends of the Tuvan people who fondly called him “Earthquake” after the quality of his voice. This was not an easy journey for Paul who had to deal not only with the limitations of blindness, but also poor health. He set it all aside for this adventure and his love of music.

In his day Paul Pena played with many blues greats and wrote the 1970s hit “Jet Airliner” recorded by the Steve Miller Band. The documentary won the Audience Award at Sundance in 1999 and awards at several other film festivals. A CD is also available called “Genghis Blues” that combines Paul’s roots of American blues, Cape Verdian morna music and Tuva throat singing. Sadly, Paul passed in 2005.

DVD available through Netflix and other sources. View promo video here: a story of courage, intent and passion perfect for our times.

Here’s a bonus. You can watch Paul singing “Jet Airliner”  and throat singing on You Tube.

Categories: Creativity Strategies, Film Review, Indigenous Wisdom | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Lifepath Dialogues Gathering: The Ways of Inclusion (Audio)

The Lifepath Dialogues Gathering is held on the fourth Wednesdays, 6:30-8 PM, at Creekside Center in Prescott, Arizona. The intent is to build like-hearted community and dialogue about what truly matters. I choose monthly topics from my blog and host the evening with special invited guest(s) whose philosophies and work are relevant to the topic. The format involves my presentation of material to create a framework and interview of the special guests. This portion is recorded to share with the world community—wherever you are. Then we turn off the recorder and turn to intimate sharing.

The November 28 Lifepath Dialogues Gathering:

The Ways of Inclusion

The complete unedited audio is about 40 minutes long. Click below to listen. Please be patient as it may take a few minutes to download! I hope you enjoy.

This discussion was based on the post: The Gift of Mother India

By CARLA WOODY
Author of Calling Our Spirits Home and Standing Stark
Founder, Kenosis and Kenosis Spirit Keepers

Yaqin Lance Sandleben PhotoNovember’s special guest was Yaqin Lance Sandleben. Yaqin is a Cherag, an ordained minister of American Sufism following the Chisti Sufi lineage of India. He leads the Dances of Universal Peace, Universal Worship Service and offers guidance on the path of spiritual awakening. Yaqin lives in Prescott, Arizona, where he has practiced pharmacy for 35 years, raised a family, and served the community in different ways—mostly through volunteering.  His interests in religion, spiritual development, and the awakening process began at the age of 12 in the Christian Church.   For many years he studied well known and obscure paths of awakening.  He began meditating 40 years ago and embraced American Sufism 33 years ago.   He has also studied and practiced Buddhism with many teachers, including HH the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan teachers.  His Sufi connection has led him to India, to the shrines of saints, and to the study of Raga, Indian Classical music.

Categories: Compassionate Communication, Healing, Healthy Living, Meditation, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Spiritual Responsibility? Duty? Cargo?

I’ve been toying with terms to express what I mean and the process I’ve been evolving through in the last year. Responsibility or duty: both have a heavy connotation, not something done freely but something expected.

Within Maya communities there is the “cargo system” still in effect from colonial times. It has to do with civic and religious hierarchical positions, each held for one year. In the Andes, a similar system exists. “Cargo” may be translated as “burden.” Those “carrying cargo” incur expense, the higher the role in the hierarchy, the more monetary investment. In colonial times, the Spanish used the system as a means of control and exploitation. Today, it’s supposed to be a means of mediating wealth and sharing. But in reality, it creates separation. Those who have the most to expend are the ones who rise in community stature. Hence, they have more prestige. This aspect of the construct is quite distasteful to me, not much different than what often exists in western churches.

Going Home ShungopaviOil on canvas depicting Home Dance.©2011 Carla Woody

Going Home Shungopavi
Oil on canvas
depicting Home Dance.
©2011 Carla Woody

Over these last years, I’ve developed friendships with Hopi people who keep the old ways, and learned much about their traditions. Their clan system is complex, each clan and its members carrying separate spiritual responsibilities. Their religious and cultural ceremonies happen monthly according to the cycles of the Hopi calendar. Each ceremony takes up a good portion of each month due to preparation in the kivas and kitchens, aside from the actual dance and closure afterwards. I’ve witnessed the amount of work that goes into them, as well as listened to friends sharing what they can with an outsider. Truly, I marvel how they are able to get anything else done! For those who have chosen to maintain their traditions…it’s a huge investment of time and energy. Many have found it to be too much and put the sacred ways aside to a great degree. Tradition is going to the wayside.

That brings me to my own process. I founded Kenosis Spirit Keepers, as the volunteer-run nonprofit extension of Kenosis, back in 2007. I took that step because I fully believed that the Indigenous wisdom traditions must be valued and supported in a time when powerful influences across the globe sought to devalue and deplete what was life-affirming. Little did I know that my decision would take me on an unexpected, personal odyssey.

Initially, there was abundant support, both financial and sweat equity. We were able to contribute significantly and support community projects in the Peruvian Andes, sponsor intimate meetings between Native spiritual leaders, and eventually began to offer educational outreach in the local community. It was hard work but we could see the positive outcomes that resulted. Those were exciting times. It was exhilarating.

Then the recession hit. Funds dried up and people pulled back and holed up. I found that I was working harder and harder with few outside resources. My commitment to the mission never waivered. But such things eventually take a personal toll on the spirit and physical body.

Finally, a loud internal voice intervened when I was most tired and discouraged, “Why bother? No one out there cares. You’re wasting your time. It’s hopeless.” I’d set the questions aside but they’d return…until the voice became my nearly constant companion. First, you have to understand that it’s normally quite rare for me to have such messages play in my mind. I finally recognized that my internal struggle was a spiritual test.

Maya PrayersOil on canvas depicting the church in San Juan Chamula.©2011 Carla Woody

Maya Prayers
Oil on canvas
depicting the church in San Juan Chamula.
©2011 Carla Woody

Something happened last January during my spiritual travel program in Chiapas, Mexico that shifted my perspective. During “free time” I’d gone to the Maya church in the traditional village of San Juan Chamula, taking those with me who wanted to return. Every year I spend as much time as I can in this powerful place where the very air vibrates with energy. A few days prior we’d been there for the Festival of San Sebastián, during which the statues of the saints, wearing layers of robes, are taken out of their glass cases and carried on the shoulders of cargo holders in a processional in the main square.  When we returned, the saints had not yet been returned to the glass cases that lined the walls. Maya men were removing the outer layers of vestments on the saints and carefully putting them away in special wooden trunks that would later be stored and protected in individual homes.

I stood watching a few feet from a table where Saints Lucia and Martha were resting. Maya women sat on the floor alternately talking with each other and chanting in unison. Candles were everywhere; pine boughs covered the floor; copal smoke was thick in the air. It was magical in the sense that deep reverence can be. I looked at Saint Martha’s painted eyes—and they suddenly seemed to come alive and gaze deeply into mine. I felt penetrated as though some sort of transmission had taken place.

Then one of the men motioned to another who then approached the table. Very carefully, he lifted Saint Martha in his arms and slowly walked over to her case against the wall. But before he placed her inside, he paused.

And then he danced with her, a beatific expression on his face.

My breath caught and my eyes filled with tears. Such a display cannot be from a “burden” one carries, but directly from the heart. Since then I find that each time I share what I witnessed, tears come again. I continue to be moved and the memory has rooted itself within me for purpose, I believe.

A few weekends ago we were privileged to host Hopi Spirit Keepers Harold and Charlene Joseph for our Series here in Prescott. Some aspects they shared had to do with the involved process of Hopi weddings, their ceremonial cycles and community participation. People were touched, to the point that one participant later told me she had no words. Afterwards, a friend and I took Harold and Char to dinner.

We discussed the “Why bother?” questions that had been haunting me, although less frequently in the last months. Surprisingly, those questions were common to all of us sharing that meal. Yet, we all persevere because the core element of spiritual belief and service is implanted somehow in our DNA.

So after all the months of testing—mental angst, physical exhaustion and spiritual inquiry—I’ve returned again to one central theme that I learned years ago in the Andes: ayni, or sacred reciprocity. That’s the term I was looking for; it was under my nose all along. I even wrote about it again in recent blog posts! But I’m revisiting the meaning in a different way.

This is what I’ve re-learned so far:

—    Such ways of being are the invisible strands that hold the world together;

—    It’s possible to operate within a construct that is riddled with shortcomings and still hold pure intent;

—    Intangible things that you value spiritually are worth the hard work, sometimes requiring a lot of faith;

—    Strike a balance in all things;

—    Touch just one person and it touches others;

—    Ask for help; some things take a community.

Categories: Healthy Living, Hopi, Indigenous Wisdom, Maya, Personal Growth, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel, Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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