Posts Tagged With: healing

A Not-So-Secret Access to Consciousness

In The Energy That Finds Its Source, I shared how I stumbled upon a strategy through meditation that greatly affected my artwork in a positive way. I want to build on that by discussing something a number of us do unconsciously—but brought to consciousness can generalize to different contexts of your life. It increases clarity and mental/emotional flexibility, in addition to creativity. I’ll use writing as a springboard for an example here.

One of the biggest challenges fiction writers have is to breathe life into the characters of their stories, to make them believable. This is particularly true if your book is character-driven. You want readers to connect with the story and those in it: to love or hate them. A reader of my latest book Portals to the Vision Serpent wrote to say how she couldn’t stand Sybilla, who features prominently in the novel—until she really understood her. Then she had great empathy. Even if the book is plot-driven, you want the characters’ actions to make some level of sense from their eyes.

We all have a specialized, individual template we live by. Here’s a quick review on how that happens. Your brain codes experiences you have. The original coding usually takes place early in life. The coding becomes your perceptions…translating to the beliefs you have about yourself, others, the world in general, even what’s possible. This template also becomes the filter through which you experience your life. You develop strategies for thinking and living that further reinforce the original beliefs—those that support and those that get in your way. When something significant happens to disrupt the old beliefs, things can shift dramatically.

Characters in a novel are no different. Here’s a way to uncover their templates by “stepping into” different perspectives.

  1. From your “self” position as the writer, note how you experience different characters: the nonverbal signals, the way they speak, your own response to them.
  2. Now taking each character at a time, imagine you can slide right into their body, look out of their eyes, become them—rather than witnessing them—and answer these questions: What is their family of origin like? Based on what they unconsciously ingested then, how do they experience their own identity, who they are? Note the trickle down effect: What beliefs were generated? What about capabilities? Resulting actions? How they experience their environment? This way you can really get inside the hearts and minds of the characters.
  3. Then step back. By being a detached observer you get additional valuable information. Given what you discovered about your individual characters, now you can really get a bead on important dynamics between the major players and incorporate them into your writing.
Secret Access

Secret Access
Mixed media on canvas
©2014 Carla Woody

By using a method like this, you also invite your reader to tag along through your writing, to undergo the same discovery and identify with different characters. They’re playing out the human condition, no different than the rest of us. We are all who we are based upon where we’ve been. But when something of great enough significance interjects itself, triggering a change in one character…it also affects the others in close proximity. That’s how things get shaken up; the story becomes so much more interesting; the characters can grow in various ways.

I realize in the writing of this piece that, because this strategy is so engrained in me, it’s another way of describing what I wrote about in The Energy That Finds Its Source. I was very much in the “self” when I was meditating. But when I came out of meditation, I became the “observer.” When the artwork communicated with me, I may have been in “other” position…or an unexplainable esoteric element occurred…

Of course, you can use what I’ve written here as a guideline to explore other aspects of your own life, not just your creative outlets. This is a brief primer toward self-discovery and relationship dynamics that I use with clients as a springboard for transformation.

I’ve adapted the content of this post from my mentoring program Navigating Your Lifepath addressing how to live through your deeply held values—and thrive.

Categories: Compassionate Communication, Creativity Strategies, NLP, Personal Growth | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shadow Dancing

Invitation to Shadowlands

Invitation to Shadowlands
©2005 Carla Woody

Shadows are a slippery aspect of human make-up. At times, we hear their whisper from the background. Other times, they bellow in the foreground. When the shadow side gets triggered we’ll know it through heavy emotions, bodily felt sensations and self-talk we experience. The trick is to recognize what’s occurring and the source. When we attribute the cause to another person and respond in a negative way, be assured: The cause resides within us, not them. Understand this isn’t about condoning true detrimental behavior on the part of someone else. It’s about separating out what’s ours and what’s theirs in order to heal.

Shadows are the parts of us that we’ve disowned and repressed because we don’t like to experience them and what they bring up. Some examples would be: a part that has the need to control, or is critical, or feels like a victim. The source has to do with unconscious limiting beliefs, most often developed early in life. It’s possible to turn these around.

There are also shadow parts that may be underdeveloped in other ways. For instance, there may be a part that aspires to something like creative expression or leaving the “day job” to move into “lifework that matters.” But to date, the aspiration remains fallow, and we focus instead on all manner of rationale not to take even the first step.

Shadow sides usually manifest through relationships, whether with an individual or group. There is a mutual attraction that fulfills a need somehow. Like attracts like in an often, strange convoluted reciprocity. Here’s what I tell folks I work with…

If there’s no investment, there’s no effect.

 This is what I mean by that statement: If we’ve transformed those parts of us that need healing, then someone else’s behavior is no longer a negative mirror. We don’t project onto them what we need to attend within ourselves. We know we’ve moved on when we can be in their presence without responding as we previously did. We notice the behavior, but it has no effect on us, other than awareness. We can go on about our business without getting triggered and responding in the old way.

In healthy relationships, people support each other in positive ways. Support does not mean taking over a role for the other one. It means encouraging and teaching each other through role modeling or, if asked, directly rather than just assuming control when there are no agreements. It means allowing each other to stumble, to see the positive intention behind the behavior, and have empathy. It means being unconditional with each other, even when it’s difficult and where to go from there is yet unknown. If we hold a space toward opening, all benefit.

We’re all in this together. The outcome begins with each one of us. Look at your own life. Explore the dynamics of your relationships. If your shadow side gets triggered in some way then ask these questions of yourself.

  • What do I want from that other person that I need to develop in myself?
  • What do I dislike in the other person that I’ve disowned in myself?
  • What messages from that other person trigger a negative response within me?

Truthful answers to these questions are markers of progress on your own spiritual development, fodder for the deeper journey and healthy relationships that come as a result.

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If you’d like information on Navigating Your Lifepath with self-guided or private mentoring options, go here.

Categories: Compassionate Communication, Healing, Healthy Living, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

200px-QuietBookCoverPeople are often surprised when I say that I’m an introvert. They’re fooled by the fact that I’m articulate, do public speaking, work with groups and engage socially. They assume that I’m an extrovert. I can do the things I do because I’ve arranged my lifestyle to support my biological make-up and preferences. I love to engage when they’re things I care about deeply—BUT I retreat to regenerate myself. Whether you lean toward introversion or extroversion primarily has to do with how you expend your energy and the way you renew it.

However, our culture values extroversion. There must be something wrong if you’re not talking: You’re secretive, have nothing of value to contribute and probably not so bright.

As a child there were countless times when I heard I was “too quiet.” Not by my parents, who are also introverts, but mostly by teachers, causing me to retreat even further into my inner world. As a teenager, it was even more hurtful, especially when it came from friends. All that input translates to: You’re not good enough. It haunted me for a long time.

 Indeed, your biggest challenge may be to fully harness your strengths. You may be so busy trying to appear like a zestful, reward-sensitive extrovert that you undervalue your own talents, or feel underestimated by those around you. But when you’re focused on a project that you care about, you probably find that your energy is boundless. – From Quiet.

Later in life I have often been called “intense” as though something is wrong with that as well. But by the time I heard it the first time I’d begun to value my own sensibilities and could translate the meaning to “passion.” And the years I worked in a corporate environment…meetings were my most dreaded activity. Those who were most vocal blathered on saying nothing. It was an effort for me to keep in my seat. I wanted to jump out of my skin and flee.

Author Susan Cain has gotten a lot of play in the media since Quiet was published in 2012. It’s been on the bestseller list for many weeks running. Nevertheless, I didn’t know about it until I was perusing my local library for CD books to accompany me on a recent road trip to Utah.

I’m writing this review for those who missed this important book like I did. Whether you’re more introverted or extroverted, Quiet contains highly useful information for valuing both preferences. It also contains data on biological differences and distinctions of introversion. If you’re an introvert, it cites numerous studies and other pointers that will validate your value. If you’re an extrovert, it will help you understand the many introverts around you. I was horrified at one story about two extroverted parents who sought psychiatric intervention and medication for their introverted child. When one psychiatrist found the child to be normal the parents moved on for the next opinion.

My most transformative experiences have never happened in groups. That said, there is extraordinary energy that builds when groups entrain to strong spiritual intent, kickstarting a process of opening. Then integration comes through balancing the internal and external. That is the premise underlying any retreats and spiritual travel programs I sponsor.

The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions–sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments–both physical and emotional–unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss–another person’s shift in mood, say, or a light bulb burning a touch too brightly. – From Quiet.

The quote below was quite interesting to me. Such practices don’t just occur in Evangelicalism. I’ve personally had experience of being expected to utter prayers and entreaties out loud while in sweat lodge and other ceremonies, although not as common. I remember the first time it happened I was shocked at the intrusion on my privacy in a spiritual setting. To me, such things are so sacred they’re not pronounced aloud. Of course, the leaders didn’t see it as an affront. Now, if such a thing occurs, I pass to those who want to speak these things out loud and remain comfortable with my own way.

Evangelicalism has taken the Extrovert Ideal to its logical extreme…If you don’t love Jesus out loud, then it must not be real love. It’s not enough to forge your own spiritual connection to the divine; it must be displayed publicly.

 There is a compilation of quotes for the book on Goodreads. Ultimately, this is the teaching of the book.

We know from myths and fairy tales that there are many different kinds of powers in this world. One child is given a light saber, another a wizard’s education. The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of power, but to use well the kind you’ve been granted.

There’s also an excellent TED talk by Susan Cain giving an overview. Quiet is available on Amazon and elsewhere in print, ebook and audiobook.

Categories: Book Review, Compassionate Communication, Creativity Strategies, Healthy Living, Personal Growth, Sacred Reciprocity, Solitude, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Collective Resonance and Healing

In Indigenous Peru, they have a way of speaking about reality that I find to be true, and a useful way to understand consciousness: There’s a left side and right side. To be clear, it’s not about the left side and right side of the brain—but rather dimensions of existence.

The right side is the everyday world, those aspects that are cultural and hierarchical. It’s anything you can physically touch, any construct of the mind—technique or ritual—ordinary reality held together by domesticated energy.

The left side is the free-floating site of the Great Mystery, the morphogenetic field, seat of creation, where intent resides. It’s non-ordinary reality containing the undomesticated energy that Quechua people call salk’a.

During spiritual travel programs I’ve sponsored in Peru, Mexico, Guatemala and Hopi, there’s consistent evidence for the power of focusing on the left side to create emotional and even physical healing. This is often so outside ceremony, or when there’s been no direct intervention. It may seem as though we’re doing somewhat ordinary things: eating together, sitting on the Earth, even traveling in a vehicle. But everything is occurring—unseen to everyday eyes.

When the collective desire of a group joins with the strong intent of one who offers the container, it has significant implications. An entrainment process develops. The transformation is self-organized on the left side and delivered to the right side to be grounded as a healing of some sort, resolution or even protection. Below are two real-life examples that occurred during my Peru program. The first is a personal experience excerpted from my article The Entrainment of Intent, originally published in AHP Perspective by the Association of Humanistic Psychology in 2005.

Alto Madre de Dios

Alto Madre de Dios, Peru
Photo credit: Oscar Panizo

We had traveled down the Alto Madre de Dios, a tributary of the Amazon. Our boat pushed up on the small sandy beach, the jungle rising sensuously all around us. We all clambered ashore. Our destination was a large stone outcropping near where we would perform a meditation.

I made my way toward the rocks. But I wasn’t paying attention. The place I chose to begin my ascent was slippery. One foot flew out from under me. I went down hard. Bam! I landed on the large stone—full force—on my front teeth, my legs below me in the water. Others rushed to help me. I remained seated at the bottom to do my meditation while the others resumed their climb a short distance away.

Logic said: “Better to rest here.” But strangely enough, while I was certainly a bit rattled from the fall, I had no pain. Again my logical mind said: “You must be in shock.” But pain never came in the ensuing hours or days. Even upon returning to our lodge and noting the hairline crack and abrasions on my teeth, the cut on my shin and huge bruise ranging from ankle to knee, my body bespoke no stress, just the documented lack of focus.

 This second example comes from the travelers’ stories section from Peru journeys where Fairin Woods shares her healing from chronic asthma she’d had since a child, requiring medication.

Manu Cloud Forest

Manu Cloud Forest, Peru
Photo credit: Carla Woody

…A jungle atmosphere had usually been a significant challenge to my breathing. I nearly had a panic attack the first morning as we began a walk into the jungle. I really considered not going on the walk for fear of losing my ability to breathe. I was not carrying my inhaler. I walked through the fear while encountering the inescapable humidity, the decaying and ever-renewing jungle floor, and the all enveloping flora and fauna. It seems the jungle absorbed my fears and cleansed me through the process of the meditative walk. In retrospect many fears and old ways were left behind…

That was in 2005. Fairin remains asthma-free. There are many others over the years who have been willing to publicly share their experiences from our times in Peru, Maya lands and Hopi: the things that touch the soul, old responses vacated, chronic conditions gone, clarity gained.

Expressly due to repeated examples set in front of me, I have a certainty about intent. If the body experiences injury, it is possible to forego feeling pain. Or through a pure energy state, we are able to prevent a physical or emotional response. As we entrain with a higher vibrational frequency, light energy doesn’t allow us to doubt or contract in fear. It is strong and grounded. Our task is to allow the left side in, to trust its delivery and make a place for its translation into our everyday lives—as the Indigenous peoples of the world already know how to do.

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Upcoming spiritual travel programs are The Heart of the Andes, October 24-November 2, and Entering the Maya Mysteries, January 18-28, 2015. Early registration discounts available with a portion of tuition tax-deductible to support preservation of Native wisdom traditions through Kenosis Spirit Keepers.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Energy Healing, Indigenous Wisdom, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: Spirit Matters by Matthew Pallamary

 

Spirit Matters

Matthew Pallamary has written an uncensored memoir of his journey through the violent jungle of his origins to the deep interior of his heart and mind—finally delivering him to the Amazon rainforest of Peru and the person he is today. Spirit Matters shows us graphic realities most haven’t seen: dangerous inner city streets, the struggles to leave them behind, and a form of spirituality alternative to mainstream Western culture.

Matt is a respected San Diego writer and workshop leader at writing conferences. Initially known for his horror stories, he became interested in shamanism and Indigenous cultures, producing a book—Land Without Evil—which was recently adapted to stage. Research led him toward experiential understanding of natural substances used for centuries in religious rituals in South America and elsewhere.

Years ago, Matt and I crossed paths in Palenque, Mexico and became friends. I knew he had a rough start; he referred to himself as a Boston street fighter raised in an Irish Catholic ghetto. But I had no idea until I read this memoir; it’s a miracle he made it out alive. Such life experiences instill deep-seated limitations in the mind about what’s acceptable, possible, one’s own worth—or if anything or anyone is safe. The expected path is predictive and short. But Matt had something else operating as well: knowledge that a deeper life was available for him. The honesty in which he describes his internal conflicts, which kept him in a two-steps-forward three-steps-back shuffle for years, is poignant and real.

In this memoir, he also documents academic research on the use of visionary plants in Indigenous cultures, alluding to their use in early Christianity as well but secreted. His experiential research drew him to Mexico and then repeatedly to the Peruvian rainforest where he engaged in intensive ayahuasca ceremonies, over several days at a time, with a shaman initiated to lead them … not a spiritual journey for the faint-hearted. Ayahuasca is known to usher the traveler through a threshold to truth. The truth may be an experience of the Divine, or just as easily a slide into the Dark Night of the Soul. Either way, an instrument of transformation, as he says below.*

 …I saw it in the jungle of the landscapes of my visions, the truth was that the darkness ultimately lived inside me. Ayahuasca had the ability to find and exploit my deepest fears, bringing terror in direct proportion to the depth of the particular fear it tapped into, constituting part of an amazing process of self discovery…

This is a beautiful story of one truly intrepid man, a Warrior of the Spirit if I ever knew one, who found his way out of a dark jungle, when so many of his friends and family did not. Matt Pallamary is someone to be respected for his gritty honesty and intent toward Spirit, aside from his capabilities as a writer. Spirit Matters informs us while providing inspiration.

Available in print, e-book and audiobook through Amazon. Spirit Matters was a Best Books Award Finalist for USA Book News.

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*Ayahuasca is being used in the treatment of drug addiction—its success rate now documented in a clinical study in Canada. Go to MAPS to learn more and download a copy of the study.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Book Review, cultural interests, Healing, Indigenous Wisdom, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Unexpected Developments

Have you ever had a sense that something is bubbling beneath the surface? That you don’t know what it is…but something is getting ready to give birth…to step forward…to unfold? If you focus on it, you recognize there’s an energy building. It’s palpable. And then when it does present itself, you’re taken with the depth of feeling, realizing it’s come through you? If you’re reading my words here, then you’re likely one of those who has experienced this process consciously, perhaps in a variety of forms, and recognized the gift. If you look back in time, you could identify what kickstarted the process.

I’ve defined spiritual travel as any time you step outside the usual parameters you set for yourself to experience something that’s out of your norm—whether you choose it with intent or unseen forces push you. Either way it’s about growth. In Spiritual Travel: Destination or Process? I wrote about it this way:

 …Invisible to the naked eye…are myriad ways to be drawn into the deeper journey that define these potentially uncharted waters…enter aspects that: may have no words or audible sound, cannot be held in your hands, your eye can’t get a bead on, can seem ordinary but aren’t. Yet it produces something akin to a lightning strike that splits the rough outer covering and creates an opening, a probable pathway—and a tangible result. There appears a fork in the road inviting decision…

Breakthrough

Breakthrough
©2001 Carla Woody

On March 10, I returned from Hopi and my first spiritual travel program there, only made possible recently—with much gratitude to Hopi Spirit Keeper friends. From opening to closing circle, there was something greater than any there carrying us all. It felt as though another door had opened, some kind of emphasis marking out the great importance of honoring sacred Indigenous ways—now. If I ever had a doubt about the lifework I’ve chosen it was blown out of the water. Such a thing is bigger than any small-minded worry I’ve ever had. Intent gave evidence throughout our time there and unfolds yet in its effect.

An unanticipated gift stood out particularly: permission from Hopi religious leader Lee Wayne Lomayestewa for entry to Prophecy Rock. Such a privilege is not usually granted to outsiders. We all felt the honor, and I’d invited people to sit in meditation and open to whatever was there for them.

One of the travelers had been on a spiritual journey, involving extensive physical travel as well, since major life transitions in 2012. She indicated to me that, while what follows is deeply personal, it’s universal and gave permission to share. Relationship had become foremost in her awareness and the unexpected time at Prophecy Rock became her personal connections in prophecy. Climbing high, up beyond her comfort zone, to find her meditation spot, three figurative “drawings” forged by nature, on weathered rock, spoke to her: “…of prophecy, unity and stages of living and dying…” She said she could form few words to describe the experience, but “…words and song came forth. The experience is etched in my being.” I heard her song floating on the breeze. I tend to think it entered us all.

Since returning home, the group has communicated what continues to unfold for them. There has been talk about clarity and shifts in perception. Deborah Downs of Sedona, Arizona had to get her fingers in the dirt, along with a creative project that came unbidden. Liz Anderson from Prescott said, “…I have been to the Hopi reservation many times, but I have never had the privilege of seeing the petroglyphs or meeting so many fascinating Hopi people…There is a certain quality of the energy on the mesas that gives one the experience of being on truly sacred ground. I had forgotten how powerful this experience can be until this trip…”

Janet Harvey of Asheville, North Carolina said poetry began to pour through her and shared several. Piki Bread, the expressive poem below strikes me as a message about the beauty of simple actions that sustain us over time. They create meaning in life. She mentioned that the physical shape of the lines as they’re shown seemed significant. I told her it reminded me of the backboards worn in some ceremonies by Hopi dancers.

Piki Bread

For my part, I’ve noticed another level of ease appearing in my writing. It comes out as though waiting for me to take the initiative. With my artwork, an uncontrived process began shortly before our time on Hopi and has amplified since.

Testimony

Testimony
Mixed media on gold leafed canvas
©2014 Carla Woody

In the morning I began to sit in meditation near my easel, a different part of my home than habit for my daily ritual. And placement of images, color and symbolism, have been relayed to me during this time in a way I can’t describe except by sharing what I’ve recently produced. These pieces have taken on depth of meaning introduced from somewhere other than me. I don’t claim ownership.

But perhaps the greatest gift came inadvertently from the Hopi Spirit Keepers themselves and expressed directly to me by the group in our closing circle. My Hopi friends opened their hearts, gave us their trust and spoke unequivocally of the real dangers acting against continuity of their sacred traditions. It was poignant.

This is a time to listen and integrate from those who, on a daily basis through their prayers and actions, hold the sacred threads that weave our deeper values. There are many voices to be heard, not just one. Hearing them lends respect and supports continuance. We who hold sacred witness become better for it. It affects us, too. Certainly it eschews any hint of commercialism but is rather something of deeper service. Somehow I have been graced with holding such a precious container. The group reinforced what I already knew but drove the point home succinctly in a way I couldn’t set their message aside.* The work continues.

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*Any of us experience doubt, particularly when we’re called to something. It’s only because we’re called that something steps forward to test intent. When internal conflict is resolved, you step through a threshold.

Note: By participating in our spiritual travel programs you support the ongoing existence of Indigenous wisdom traditions in danger of decimation.

Spiritual Travel to Peru, Oct 24-Nov 2, 2014: I have been invited to the Q’ero village of Ccochamocco, a real honor and rare opportunity. Tuitions help support: sponsorship of Hopi Elder Harold Joseph on this journey seeking prayers for his people from Q’ero relations; the new Q’ero Ancestral Culture Center and natural medicine clinic; and Grandmother Flordemayo’s seed saving program.

Spiritual Travel to Mexico, Jan 19-29, 2015: Tuitions help support sponsorship of David Mowa, Hopi medicine man, to share traditions with Maya relations; and the humanitarian healing work of Don Sergio Castro in Chiapas, Mexico. This program in final planning and will be uploaded here shortly.

If you’re interested in my artwork entitled Testimony or others, go here. Twenty percent of profits go to support Native traditions through Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit arm of Kenosis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Gratitude, Healing, Hopi, Indigenous Wisdom, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel, Travel Experiences | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Indigenous Message on Water

Indigenous Message on Water

In 2012 a call went out from the coalition of Indigenous leaders of the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace (IWFWP) to Native elders, writers, artists, activists—Knowledge Keepers—for poetry, art, chants and prayers on Water, expressions from their own traditions. Over the next several months, submissions poured in, pure harvest from tribes all over the world. The You Tube video below beautifully illustrates the intent to pull together an anthology on this life-giving element that would be called Indigenous Message on Water—and why its needed.

By January last year the editors had begun the process to ready contributions for publication. From June through August 2013 an Indiegogo campaign was opened to pull enough funds together to publish the book, in print and e-book formats, and send copies back to the authors to seed their communities and elsewhere with this important message we all need to hear and hold. They were able to raise $5,000 of their $10,000 goal. I was so glad I was able to support this valuable treatise, even in a small way, having received my copy a few weeks ago.

I am deeply touched by the words and art that leap off the pages from the contributors: Chamoru, Pinay and Maori peoples from the Pacific; Sakhe from Russia; Cree, Tsalagi, Cherokee, Yoeme, Anishinaabe, Lakota, Lipan Apache, Metis, and Gitxan from North America; K’iche’, Kaqchikel, and Q’anjob’al from Guatemala; Maya and Nahuatl from Mexico; Wayuu, Palenque and Kuna from the Caribbean; Uitoto, Okaina and Tikuna from Amazonia; and Kichua, Yanakuna and Mapuche-Huilliche from the Andes.

Spiritual connection and gratitude to Water are ever present in the anthology. It may be used to open community discussions, raise awareness, and as an offering. At the beginning of the book, Juan Sánchez, one of the editors, advises that the passages are meant to be read aloud to the Water; words have the capacity to heal. Grandmother Mona Polacca suggests, “…Once you read them, you may find that you can never escape them, or you may find yourself resisting the narratives in this collection, not wanting to deal with the reality they describe; perhaps it reminds us of our own vulnerability…”

Grief for scarcity, strife and loss of life over water rights is also prevalent in these pages. Forest without Destiny by Judith Santoprieto of Mexico is an example, dedicated to the Indigenous people of Bagua in northern Peru who were senselessly murdered by special forces police during a 2009 protest about natural resources rights.

A crackling is heard in the surroundings

of a forest without destiny,

the first sign of the great uproar;

outside, the bullets:

the rainy season yet to come…

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We can be reminded to embody the teachings offered.

 Water was our first medicine.

—Gideon MacKay, late Cree Elder, Canada

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We’re called to cup Water

carry it carefully   cradle

within bare hands or ladle

wood to pour resplendence

from ama who makes us

human,  holds us here in

memory brings us back

into ourselves each time

we enter dipping seven

times until we become

who we need to be.

—Allison Hedge Coke, Huron/Cherokee/Cree/Metis, USA

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My oldest brother was 115 years old and died because of his age, not because of illness and this longevity was due to the fact that he used to pray to Water. The Water sang to him. For him, Water was both male and female and, as he practiced meditation, Water rewarded him with a long life.

—Lorenzo Aillapán Cayuleo, (Bird Man), Mapuche Nation, Chile

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The e-book version is available to treasure and consult. You may go here to download for the minimal cost of $7.00. When you do, you’ll know you are serving Water. The proceeds go to support the gathering of Indigenous leaders, over 60 organizations and other like-intended folks for the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace 2014 held September 9-13 in New York that collaboratively seeks to resolve issues for the benefit of all peoples.  Read a 2009 collective statement from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues about the need for the IWFWP. New information will be posted soon on the IWFWP blog. Go here to subscribe for updates.

Categories: Book Review, Compassionate Communication, Gratitude, Healing, Healthy Living, Indigenous Rights, Indigenous Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: The Gargoyle

The Gargoyle

An absolutely engrossing and complex novel about a man living a depraved lifestyle until a serious car accident intervenes. Burnt over most of his body and terribly deformed, he undergoes the process of healing forced upon him by medical science. He wants nothing more than to end his life and sets out planning the suicide he would undertake once released from the care unit. In the course of treatments he meets Marianne, a beautiful sculptor who had slipped out of the psychiatric ward and showed up in his room. She claims they were lovers in medieval Germany when she was a nun scribe at the famed Engelthal Abbey and he was a soldier who suffered a similar injury as he had in present times. Through her ministering, not only his body, but also his soul began to heal. The story weaves back and forth between present-day to the Middle Ages, Los Angeles, Germany and elsewhere building a powerful tale of love and intrigue.

Would that the story could end there. But Marianne had word from beyond the veil that her work was nearly done in the present. She was in a frenzied countdown to finish twenty-seven more gargoyles before leaving this plane. Overlay that with the main character’s struggle with the enticements of drug addiction. The reader will vacillate between hope and dread, the outcome being unpredictable. 

For people fascinated with questions relating to the sometime blurred line between mysticism and mental illness, reincarnation, the process of healing and resiliency of the soul, I’m betting you will find The Gargoyle as compelling as I did. Points of medieval life and the mystics of Engelthal Abbey are well researched, an additional plus.  Be forewarned that the description of burn treatment and healing is quite graphic, and unless you’re in the medical profession may be too much for you. If you can get through it, as I did, then you’ll find yourself much more educated on the subject and holding even more compassion for anyone who has to go through such suffering. 

This is Andrew Davidson’s debut novel and he has well proven himself already. I am very much awaiting his next work. Available on Amazon and elsewhere. 

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

Interview with Becca Begnaud, Cajun Traiteur

In October 2012, I was visiting friends in Lafayette, Louisiana—Cajun Country—and fell in love with the area. My time there was made that much more interesting by meeting Becca Begnaud who is a traiteur, a Cajun prayer healer. I was invited to interview her for The Lifepath Dialogues during a program of hers. To me, the outcome was fascinating. We cover a lot of ground. Listen to Becca as she talks about what it means to be a traiteur, Cajun culture and challenges on the path as a healer. It’s worth 38 minutes of your time.

Interview on You Tube.

Interview on You Tube.

I will be returning to Lafayette shortly. Becca will be sponsoring my work for her Healing Arts Collective. You can find the details of the November 15 talk Timeless Pathways for Today’s Spirit Keepers and November 16 workshop Asking the Answer in this downloadable flyer. I’ll also be giving a talk in Baton Rouge on November 14 at The Red Shoes, a center for personal and spiritual growth. I’m very much looking forward to returning to this area, rich in so many ways.

Categories: cultural interests, Gratitude, Healing, Interview, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review – Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection

Full Moon Feast

Jessica Prentice is a chef and food activist in the San Francisco Bay area who is an avid proponent for locally grown foods. In other words, she urges us toward tradition. Full Moon Feast is a book about food and more with stories from Indigenous cultures of appreciation for what nourishes. It also tells of challenges and confusion related to relationship with food. Jessica advocates for small farmers who choose to uphold commitment and passion toward their way of life. At the same time, she documents methods of modern food production that have lost their humanity and encourage disconnection from our food sources and each other.

The author calls us back to a more engaged, mindful way of nourishing ourselves by connecting us to what food once held—the circle of life. She grounds the meaning and timing of food selection by our own natural rhythms and the thirteen lunar cycles. This book comforts and takes back to our roots—easily forgotten in a fast food universe. And it’s full of tempting recipes like Salmon Cured with Maple and Juniper, Summer Berries with Lavender Créme Anglaise or Sourdough Cheese Herb Scones. If you allow it, Full Moon Feast will deepen your appreciation for the food in your life and cause you to start searching out locally grown produce as it did me. The book is available through Amazon and bookstores. 

Categories: Book Review, Healing, Healthy Living, Indigenous Wisdom, Sacred Reciprocity | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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