Do You Know Your Habitat? Or, Please Make the Petitions Stop!

Lake PendOreille Rock BeachEvery morning my email box has an endless parade of help-the-environment petitions waiting for me to sign: Shell drilling in the Arctic (again), stopping elephant abuse, Fracking, toxic chemical dumps, punishment for the capture and starvation of some animal or other, and saving whole forests of trees from removal so we can have another piece of paper (or paper money, same thing). It’s depressing as hell and after years of this armchair activism, the process should be routine for me but it’s not. In fact, most of them just shock the heck out of me with their cruelty, thoughtlessness, and avarice. A good portion of the actions waiting to be blocked don’t even make sense. I can hardly believe what people with the worst kind of imaginations have come up with to destroy their own habitat. And I think that’s just the problem. People have forgotten which habitat is really theirs. It isn’t a house, the office, or the neighborhood Starbucks that is giving us life. It’s Earth. Her resources support us, so why are we trying to torture and kill her? We continually trash, pollute, abuse, and decimate our own environment for the sake of convenience, comfort, or cash.

Why? I ask myself that question every day. Why are we so reluctant to acknowledge, to relate, to see, that we are intimately connected to plants, soil, and animals that are all around us? It seems like since we moved into our skyscrapers and bought our cars, we believe we have somehow, magically rid ourselves of any link to the natural world. Like a shirt we outgrew that we stuffed in the back of the closet where it languishes. We are Earthlings, people whose home is the Earth. We breathe the ever-dirtier air, eat the plants with pesticides, and drink the vanishing water along with an amazing variety of animal and plant life. We need this planet, the planet doesn’t need us. I am painfully aware of the fact that if we all disappeared tomorrow the Earth would be the better for it! Is an attitude of ignorant indifference the way we want to repay our most vital supplier? How long can we go on with such a view point? Let’s not put it to the test.

I live in the country by choice but even when I was in suburbia I knew what was growing in the neighborhood, flying overhead, or crawling on the sidewalk. Now I consistently run into people who don’t know a Flicker from a fig tree. Is it important for us to know the names of the creatures we live with? No, not really, but it’s indicative of a much bigger problem: most of know nothing at all about our fellow inhabitants. We don’t relate to our own natural environment. That leaves us open to rampant ignorance, hearsay, and the destruction of our own home. Prejudice and fear turn into ridiculous laws that add to the damage.

We have a woman down the road from us that raises wolves. I love hearing their howls when I am out in the garden but a man buying property in the area was afraid that the wolves were going to “call in” other wild wolves. If he knew about wolves at all he would have understood that wolf howls are communication tags to track each member of the pack and also the sound of territoriality, that is, a way for them to say: “This is our land, all other wolves keep away!” When it comes to wild wolves, we’re probably the safest neighborhood in America.

A lack of connection to and knowledge of our own habitat also puts us at risk in another way. It’s why hundreds each year drown or end up in the hospital with wasp stings, animal bites, Poison Ivy, and the very rare bear attack. They don’t know the environment or understand how to act in the wild. What is really tragic are the plethora of innocent wild animals that pay the ultimate price for simply living their lives and doing what they were born to do. When we get hurt because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time and don’t have a clue how to behave in the situation, we love to blame nature. Then we send the rangers out with their guns to kill it mercilessly. Without another thought, we want it dead, whatever it is. We don’t like that uncomfortable feeling that something threatening to us is wandering around out there. They aren’t going to hunt us down you know, they don’t have our addresses. Sure, bad things sometimes happen, there are psychotic animals just as there are psychotic people (and at about the same ratio), but knowing why animals behave as they do would for the most part, keep us out of trouble and solve most of the problems.

Not only do we make bad choices because we don’t understand nature, we don’t even feel any kinship with it. Years ago on one of my walks through the wood, I jumped up on a rotten log. When it broke, a million red ants poured out and in seconds some were already making their way to my bare hands, biting as they went. I managed to brush them off and get away with only a couple of welts. I didn’t blame the ants for attacking me. I should have been aware that those kinds of critters love decayed wood and when I broke their nest they fought for their families the same as we would. Now I know better. Animals, insects, and plants just want to eat, drink, and sleep in peace and safety, just like us.

Sometimes when we have visitors from the city they are afraid to go out the door. Animals don’t wait on the front porch for a meal and we’re the only species that seeks revenge. Understanding our fellow creatures and seeing them as vibrant and beautiful with their own habits and personalities would not only keep us safe but would help sustain the variety of life on this planet, letting us all enjoy a little health and happiness. Maybe if we understood how our environment works we would see where we are destroying it and why we have to preserve and protect our vanishing resources for all concerned. Maybe if we knew a little about the neighborhood creatures we live with every day, we would start to see some similarities and relate to them. Maybe we would feel for them just as we do other people. Maybe we wouldn’t step on them, mistreat them, ignore their needs, or wreck their homes because we want to build a new Wal-Mart. Then my email box wouldn’t be jammed every morning and I could finally exhale. I look forward to it.

An Astrology Blog? Well, sort of.

Moon over CWC 2006

My blog isn’t quite like other astrology blogs. Oh, did you know this was an astrology blog? If you didn’t, it’s because I am more about living my life than checking my transits. That is not to say I never check my transits. I do. Whenever I can’t make sense of some part of my life or when something interesting is going on to see if it is reflected in a chart. Even though I have been an astrologer for decades, I still like to test astrology. I hate the idea of just using something on faith without checking it out once in a while. One nice thing about astrology is its practitioners don’t care if you have questions. Actually, they’d prefer it. There is nothing to believe in here, it’s a tool and it just works…most of the time. Well, nothing is perfect is it?

Most astrologers tend to separate their every-day lives from their interest in astrology. This is natural as most of us suspect that the general public isn’t going to be interested in the topic and more importantly, they won’t understand the terms we use. My problem with separating astrological blogs from mainstream blogs is that no one gets to see it in action. It isn’t integrated into our every-day lives and that is unfortunate because astrology can show and tell so much about our inner lives. Those inner lives, in so many ways, dictate our outer lives.

When I started this blog I wanted to try out the idea that people would be very interested if only they could see how astrology fits in with the world and was able to observe it working. I’ve started small but my intention is to add more articles along this line all the time. As soon as I can find more transparent and interesting ways to do it!

One helpful and beautiful thing about astrology is that it encompasses everything in the world and beyond! So I don’t have to stick to one idea or one topic. Astrology is reflected in what I say, what I do, and what is going on outside my house. It’s a metaphysical parallel periodic table of elements that describes what everyone is thinking and doing and why they are thinking and doing it. It also talks about life’s processes, nature, politics, culture, history, and even allows us to see the mysterious inner machinations of Great Spirit him/her self.

As far as the technical terms that sometimes come up, there aren’t that many, usually one can get the jist of what is being said, plus I will do my best to explain. If you are still confused, well, there is always the information highway to consult. You know, the internet! Just Google it.

I am an astrologer but I have many interests and that is reflected here on this blog. My main goal in life is to be whole and healthy in as many ways as possible: mentally, emotionally, and physically and to help others do the same.

The Curse of the Immediate Mind

Sunrise in Idaho
Sunrise in Idaho

This is the season for making a change. Everyone is looking around to see how they could live a better life. In our own minds, we probably have a perfect vision of a perfect body, or a perfect relationship, or a perfect life.

The trouble is always…getting there.

Every once in a while, I get caught mid-step and land at a dead-stop in the middle of a change I want to make. Instead of wrestling with a fear of change, these stalled and broken times are the hardest of my life. My brain knows what I want and is showing me a vision of where I want to be but for whatever reason, I can’t get there. Yet.

Well, there is always a space between wanting and having. Sometimes though, that space can seem like a cold, dark, limitless, void. It is this interim lull that is completely maddening. It tests all kinds of faith. I have been in one of these moments, frozen in time, for at least a year now. An astrologer would call it a Neptune Transit.

Whenever I get frustrated I start to analyze the cosmos, usually using astrology. It’s perfect for backing you up psychologically and giving you some perspective. It allows you to slow down and understand what is happening in our life.

As it happens, it usually isn’t just one change we are trying to make. Our mind deals in generalities and any major change requires a lot of little ones as well. We just don’t see them because our brains are distracting the hell out of us by flashing the big pretty picture of what could be. We’re always ahead of ourselves and if we could wave a wand and have the life we envision immediately we would probably be stunned to find we are not prepared for it at all.

The mind is immediate, but a new reality takes time.

We may have the right idea and a true vision but there are details to attend to first. Time is needed for smaller events to occur that encourage new thinking, events that will help us to grow a new attitude. There are subtle shifts in our perception to make, little actions to take, people to meet and form connections with.

The frustration is found deep within the mystery around what shifts are necessary and how long “it” will take before our new life rings the doorbell. We may get impatient but we can take comfort that all these seemingly stupid and inconsequential happenings are leading us up to making a comfortable transition right into what we want to be. What is trust and faith but the idea that all is taking place as it should? That everything happens for a reason and those reasons will be revealed to us at the proper time? The irony is, only when we finally receive what it is we pictured so clearly and are living our new life, do we realize what we really gained from the wait.

Be patient, have faith, keep going, things will come together, it will happen.

Christmas, a Primer

IMG_8292Well, here we are again.
I know Christmas must be coming because my mail box is crammed with catalogs. These books, magazines, and TV shows too, with all their commercials are so helpful: they point out to me just what I need to celebrate Christmas. According to these sources, if you have enough money, you can buy Christmas, you really can. Then there are the PBS kinds of programs that are touting what might be called the anti-commercial Christmas. According to them, having a good Christmas is all about family crisis, deal with it in just the right way and the meaning of life will be revealed to you. Most of us will never have the money we are being asked to spend on Yuletide cheer and (hopefully), we don’t have any trouble in the relationship department, so what are we going to do for the holidays this year?

The more the media streams into your house, the more unsatisfying your Christmas plans are going to look. Listen long enough and suddenly the decorations and gifts you thought were just perfect are not nearly enough and what could you have been thinking? When we are shown endless images of elegant homes, alight and festooned with every kind of greenery, and underneath twin ten foot tall trees, dozens of brightly wrapped cutting edge presents sit, it’s far too easy to get the Martha Stewart Complex. How can we compete with that? Not when we face our crummy little living rooms with the scuffed window sills and a crooked tree hung with homemade egg carton ornaments. A décor consisting of a plastic wreath, a papier-mâché Santa Claus, and a couple red candles bought back in 1985.

Of course decorations are always nice but, how many do we need to feel festive? If ideal images get implanted in our heads and let’s face it people, Madison Ave is counting on its cash box that they will, expectations for this holiday season are soon sent into the stratosphere. We’ll push ourselves onto a treadmill of shopping, cleaning, baking, and decorating. The errands will be endless, and we won’t even know we had Christmas at all.

If Christmas is really in our hearts how do we find it? We can start by looking at what we have, instead of what we don’t. Comparing our lives to anyone else’s is never going to give us any satisfaction. Turn it off, turn it all off. If we’re being barraged by the Christmas media blitz, we won’t be able to hear our own voice, let alone follow it. We, each of us, know how to personally celebrate this time of year, what feels fun and right to us and our respective families. No one can tell us what makes or breaks a holiday but us.

A tree, a bowl of pinecones, a few cookies, almost anyone around here can have that and it’s all good. Open the curtain and include some sensational outdoor scenery in all your finishing touches. Whatever you do to spruce up (pun intended), the place though, it won’t matter a darn if the family is fighting and you’re stressed or depressed. Harmony is the result of relaxation. On Christmas we want to wave that wand and have everything perfect. We’re always stalking that childhood place in our memory, (ether real or imagined) where for one magical moment everything was perfect. That is the truth too: it was a moment.

Moments and our observation of them, freeze time and give us an awareness of life. Suddenly we see some implicit wholeness in everything, a symmetry where we have a place and even belong. Forget the greeting cards, moments have the power to give us all the emotional messages we’re longing to receive right now: the excitement of a rebirth, the thrill of nature’s majesty, the joy of knowing we are loved. Catch a moment and discover a way to deepen the meaning inherent in any season.

Even though they don’t last very long, moments grow into vivid memories that become an important part of our lives. I remember Christmas Eve a few years ago, I was shoveling the mailbox out of yet another snow bank when, a gust of wind blew a great clump of snow from one of the tallest fir trees, sunlight caught the shower and turned it into a curtain of diamond brilliance. A million white stars flew through a cobalt sky and swirled around me, the show was breathtaking. With that wind, I was thrust into a moment, standing on a winter road, in the middle of the world, alive, aware, and dazzled. At that moment I thought: Christmas is here, right here and I didn’t have to do a thing. There was a mystery there that I don’t’ pretend to completely understand.

Now of course, we can’t wander around the woods all day looking for some spectacular spontaneous display. We can’t predict magic, but we can stand still and be open to it. Christmas is above all, a feeling. One we won’t feel if we are too busy thinking of what we have to do next. If we’re sharing some time by the tree with family and friends, walking around in the snow, drinking a cup of cocoa by the window, or watching the birds, our feelings will have free rein. These are the moments that will give us a quiet chance to hear what is in our own heart. In that space of time, without any help from advertisers, we’ll know just what makes the wonder of Christmas, Solstice or Hanukkah and we won’t have to go shopping for it anywhere because it’ll be right there, with a reverence.

Here’s wishing you all a holiday season filled with your own magic moments.

Fruit Doesn’t Suck


I don’t care for fruit. I don’t why exactly, maybe it’s the skin or the fact that fruit flavors never seem to mix well with any other kind of food. When I was growing up, nobody in the house ate much fruit either, ironic, because the fruit was so good and plentiful in California. Sad, I know.

 When my daughter was born, she practically came out of the chute a fruitarian. She loved it all and could never get enough. Now, I had evolved to a point in my life where good nutrition really meant something to me, not only as a new mother but as an individual. As I watched her (skeptically at first) day after day, year after year, gobble down all those bowls of fruit I was serving her, it began to haunt me that this food group was decidedly missing from my diet. I read the University of Berkeley Wellness Letter and Nutrition Action regularly and I know the USDA food pyramid from memory. Fruit is a big part of a nutritious diet. So, what was I going to do about it?

 I started small with the fruits I liked best: melons. Up here in the north, you can’t get melons all year. So, I just went on from there. Peanut butter is great for lunch when you are a vegetarian. By happy coincidence, it goes great with fruit. Another problem solved. Fruit is pretty low in calories. Score two for my side. Sometimes when popping a piece of fruit in my mouth at my noon-day meal I would be pleasantly surprised. I found myself saying: “Hey, this isn’t bad and I getting something my body really needs, that’s pretty great.” Over time, I developed this attitude that, I may not love fruit but it doesn’t suck.

 Maybe there is some good-for-you food that you have felt pretty ambivalent about too. Maybe you’ll never love it but if you find a way to incorporate it into your daily diet you might find it doesn’t suck either.

On Symbolism and Air

IMG_4165The windy days of April are here. I love the wind, it is always both cleansing and energizing.  Right now, it is melting the ice outside my door, precipitating change and pushing the Earth into a spring frame of mind. Wind is, of course, air. Air is one of the classical elements. In ancient times, four elements were used to describe the different forces at work in our world. The other three elements are: earth, fire, and water.

In astrology, these elements still aptly describe not only personality types but how our physical universe behaves on the surface. There is a lot of symbolism attached to the classical elements in metaphysical teachings. The intellectual side of us can study and comprehend a great deal of our environment but symbols and symbolism go beyond thought to a kind of instinct, allowing a deeper journey into the meaning of all things. Sometimes, under a basic keyword there are concepts that at first glance, don’t seem to match up. Then we have to stop and think. This is what I love about symbolism; it allows us the space to look at something in a whole new way.

In metaphysics, as in astrology, air is associated with:

  •  Breath
  • Intellect
  • Logic
  • Thought
  • The Mind
  • Communication
  • Variety
  • Change
  • Adaptability
  • Learning (Basic)
  • Talk
  • Writing
  • Objectivity
  • Cooperation
  • Concepts
  • Theory
  • Synthesis
  • Clarity
  • Movement
  • Unpredictability
  • Sense of smell

 This list has many things that logically (pun intended) fit together.

All things that have to do with the mind and thought processes. Air is equal to thought and things related to thought because they both have very little material essence.   

 Some of the other concepts listed are related to changeability.  Unless we have a wind, air is light, almost imperceptible. We can push it around. It is flexible and it changes easily. In a person, this translates as someone who loves variety and is adaptable.

 Then we have communication.  

For people, communication is connected to things like talking, writing, reading, etc. These items are usually used in conjunction with the mind, uh, if we are lucky.  

 For rest of the animal world communication is commonly made by a combination of unique sounds each species makes. Most animals need air or breath to make a sound and communicate but what about plants? In what way does air/wind help the plant kingdom communicate?

 Our atmosphere is an ocean-like bubble of air around our planet. Within this sphere, things lighter than air, like chemicals and pollen float along until they are perceived by another. Pollen is an amazing form of communication. It is a way for one plant to actually touch another and when the conditions are right, fertilize each other. Plant pollen touches us too but in our case we just get Hay Fever. Still, we notice, don’t we? Some chemicals are called scents. When we smell a flower that flower has communicated with us. What is the flower saying? Well, it might be calling out to insects to come and pollenate it and we just intercepted it. If you have cut them and put them in a vase they might actually be yelling at you as you have caused them stress. It’s a terrible thought, but probably true. Perhaps we should try and enjoy flowers on the plant.

 It is odd to think of the air around us filled with invisible messages to be read in one way or another. Thanks to the plant kingdom, we can now see how the concepts of synthesis, smell, cooperation, movement, and communication all interrelate and belong under the keyword of air.    

There ya go: clarity.

Writer’s Block or Losing my Voice

Waiting for a ThawI have writer’s block for the first time in my life. So, I thought I’d write about it! I am a pretty talkative person and I usually don’t have any trouble writing it down either. In fact, writing something out is better for me because I will think about it a little longer before I say it. Sometimes, I don’t even know what I really think until my fingers hit the keyboard. Writing helps me sort things out, to practice a little introspection, instead of letting the words hit my tongue from my brain like a gumball machine.

It’s odd to me at this particular juncture of my life, when I just finished a book, I should be stuck for words. What? Did I use them all up or something? When I get stuck, I get analytical and after days of asking myself for answers I have come to a conclusion. I think I temporarily lost my “voice”. For writers, a “voice” is their own unique and personal train of thought, the style, or way they write as well as, what they prefer to write about.

I am an astrologer but I am really more in my element just contemplating human nature in general or just nature, period. I am also an author and we all know what that means: marketing. Yech. These days, publishers want every author to have a ready-made audience. Forget taking any chances with anyone or even trying to understand what people want to read this year and why. You must have it all ahead of time: a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Words with Friends, OK maybe not Words with Friends. So here is my blog, but I don’t want to write about astrology all the time. While it is true, that after 46 years of studying and practicing astrology, I pretty much measure the world with its yardstick, it doesn’t mean that is the only thing that interests me. Life interests me, all of it, and the why of it and that is what I want to write about. Besides, most people aren’t familiar with the jargon we use in astrology and they don’t need to be in order to understand what I talk/write about. We all have the same kinds of questions and problems in life; they are just dressed up differently. Astrology simply gives me a more precise language with which to address our human habits. It also has a wonderful way of organizing our idiosyncrasies into richly-layered categories that allow for deeper dissections and therefore: study. I think my writer’s block came up when I started to think I had to write for publishers and not for me, or you. I hit the wall of “the influence of others” (more on that another time). I thought that somehow, having written a book I had to think and behave differently. I fell off my home base and my muse packed her bags. I may think that someone else does it better than I do and I should be more like them, but I am who I am and for good or bad, I can’t write any differently. It just doesn’t work. From here on in, I better remember that.

A Winter’s Tale

Overcoming Personal Barriers or How I Spent the Winter of 2013-14

It’s been a very harsh winter for most of us. The nightly news reports are full of weather-related disasters and the people dealing with them. Winter in the north always hands out its share of challenges, especially to those who are unprepared for the reality.

I have been away from this blog for a long time.  I set it aside temporarily, to publish my first book. I decided to self-publish this tome in every sense of the word. I did everything myself: the artwork, the cover, the formatting, you name it. I had no idea just how hard this would turn out to be…for me, that is. I am a “big picture” kind of person and I hate picky little details. I hate forms of all kinds, and the only thing I hate more than reading instructions is following them. Needless to say, this is a big problem if you want to publish a DIY book. It figures that I am also in the middle of my second Saturn Return. For those of you who don’t speak astrologese it doesn’t matter, you’ll get this because we all go through it; astrology just has a name for it: Saturn. Saturn is the planet that rules reality as we know it. When under Saturn’s influence you have to deal, deal, deal with the set rules of the situation. No skipping steps, no cheat sheets, and definitely, no cutting in line. Not coincidentally, Saturn, and its sign, Capricorn, preside over winter as well.

 Wherever we live, there comes a time for all of us, when a certain harsh reality sets in. We are beset with rules we cannot break and duties we cannot shirk whether we want to or not. We feel trapped and for the moment, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. It’s hard. There are days I’ve felt like screaming. Ok, I did.

Saturn challenges your authority. Who is the author of your life? You, or something/someone else? Do you have enough knowledge? (For me, the answer was no) Do you have enough fortitude? (Um, maybe that’s all I have) Do you want it enough to pay the price? (I think so) Are you prepared? (Oh, heck no)

 How to get through this? “Play the breaks”. If you are relating to this entry, than that is a Plimsouls song worth listening to. “Play the breaks” is also a great expression that asks us to basically, look for the silver lining in the thundercloud over our head. If you’re stuck in a box what is the up side? There must be something good about the situation, though we may have to look really hard to see it. After my initial breakdown, I did discover some perks. After having to learn through some ridiculous trial and error, I learned to focus, to slow down, to work hard, and to have patience. (Ok, still working on that one) I feel I have been tested in the fires of hell but now I have a measurement of how strong I truly am and what I am capable of. Things I couldn’t seem to finish, I have finished. Completion is everywhere in my life, even coming into some of my previously fragmented and frustrating dreams. What a rush to feel your own strength. Though, there is no doubt that this has been torture, I am inhaling my “new and improved” authority in, right through the pain.

As Thomas Paine said: “These are the times that try [wo]men’s souls” and there hasn’t been a lot I could do about it except keep putting one foot in the front of the other and make the most of it until it is over. And it will be over; we all know that, like winter, hard times cannot last.    

 For those who may be interested, my book, Earth Rise: The Case for Studying and Using Earth in Astrology is out in all electronic reading formats (Kindle and smashwords) and will be out in paperback POD (print-on-demand) through, when I get the dang cover issue fixed, hopefully, March of 2014. P.S. Arrugh!


The Spring Equinox and Seasonal Savvy


An April Heleborus

I am a little slow in addressing the vernal or spring equinox that occurred March 19 2012 at 10:14 pm PDT. Slower still, because this year was one of the earliest equinox by date since 1896.

Looking to live life deeper can be very shamanistic. People who live in a shamanistic way take into account the spiritual or ethereal side of everything and they explore the connections, the relationships, of one thing to another. A natural outcome of this is balance, a balance of work with play, self with others, male with female, technology with nature. What we are looking for is integration: a personal life that is also part of ALL LIFE. This is an expanding experience, one that makes life very, well… alive.

The foundation of shamanistic living consists of consciousness and awareness, to know what is happening and to somehow become a part of it, to be engaged. One way to do this is to observe the cycle of the seasons and understand how it affects us.

 Most of us go through our day without much thought to what the earth is doing today. We probably notice whether it is sunny or raining but we’ve been pretty programmed to ignore any other earthly activities as beyond our immediate concern, care or involvement.  As a result things sneak up on us. We are susceptible to the shock of seasonal shifts. We don’t get a chance to become acclimatized and that can leave us with an adjustment hangover: sometimes known as Spring Fever. Being mentally and emotionally aware of outside occurrences puts us in sync with the vibrational level of our reality and gets us poised to take advantage of forthcoming opportunities.

 Let’s get a seasonal edge today.

Spring is official when the sun moves into the sign of Aries right at 0 degrees. Aries is the first sign of the zodiac in astrology, ruled by the planet Mars and Mars is in charge of action. The sun is in a sign for one month or for 30 degrees. For 30 days we are all under the influence so to speak, of the sign the sun is in for that month. We can see this in the actions we take every year at this same time.  This is all very intellectual, but what does it mean for us commuters?

We have just come from winter, a time of cold and (perhaps) snow. This is the season we stay home because the weather is usually forbidding much activity. We tend to pull indoors out of the biting wind. Naturally we are a little more internal and contemplative. We may read, play cards, or perish the thought: watch more TV.

When the vernal equinox arrives, especially here in the country, we are catapulted out of our hibernation and into a lifestyle very much more active. Spring chores line up like rows of new daffodils each demanding immediate attention.  Sometimes the temperatures turn from cold to hot on a dime.

Another reason for the (apparently sudden) seasonal whiplash is the way we catalog the seasons. You’ll hear me complain about this a lot. In ancient times (especially in the Celtic regions) they used calendars that were more intimately connected to the natural world and far better suited to explain the natural rhythms around us than our current one is. Feb 2nd was considered the beginning of spring. This is the time we really notice the days are getting a little longer and the seeds, although still deep in the earth, are nevertheless starting to stir and wake up. It was the first stirring of the season. The name given to that date was Imbolc, meaning: “in the belly” (of the earth).  When the sun enters Aries at the vernal equinox they would say that we are in the MIDDLE of spring.

Red Maple Buds

Now, as the ever lengthening day meets up with the ever shortening night we get a sense of a doorway. We’re in a celestial doorway. We are poised, or paused, one might say, in the calm before storm of summer.  Yet, we only have our hands on the latch. We’re opening it and standing in that place where we must now switch our mental and physical gears from the quiet of winter to the riot of summer, from inactivity to ACTIVITY.  It’s not too late, but we do have to take a breath and consider our position.

So what do we do to tell ourselves that we need to make a shift, to put ourselves in tune with this seasonal vibration that is rattling our cages and shaking out the complacency of our own winter hibernation?

We can conduct a spring ritual. Rituals can be physical acts that tell our consciousness something is occurring by mimicking on a smaller scale, the larger happening. They act as a mirror of the happening, reflecting back to us in better detail some concept that might be too abstract for us to grasp with our mentality alone.

Many of us already do spring rituals without realizing it. We switch the blankets on our beds from heavy to light weight. We plan our gardens and order seeds. We pack winter coats back in the mothballs. We give the house “Ye old spring cleaning”. As we do those things we can be more conscious of the significance of the chores. We can go a step further and put on plays that tell the stories of spring. We can even do more intense and focused rituals like lighting a fire in a pit, beating a drum and singing a song to honor this time and our place in it. Then there is always a hike or picnic to look for wildflowers or birds, camera in hand.

The main thing is to prepare for new activity in whatever way seems right to you. You may decide to begin a new project, or turn the heat up on one that is floundering. This is an excellent way to embrace the energy of Aries and Mars, synonymous with springtime.

Whatever you do, if you do it with the intention of beginning the cycle again, in step with the season around you, you may find yourself just a little more aware, a little more focused, a little more productive, and even a little more relaxed, ready to take advantage of any spring potential and turn it over to a summer more than just scenic.

Copyright 2012 CLCW

Dream On.

Dream on

"The woods were dreamlike"

I had a dream the other night.  A man in a turban dressed in many layers like a Middle Easterner or even a Tibetan said one sentence to me: “The pond is large.”  Crazy as it sounds, I understood him right away.  I answered with: “God is great.” He nodded and left.  This was a message to me and I’ve done my best to ponder it. The answer to this riddle goes something like this: the pond is the world and everything in it, seen and unseen. He was telling me you see, that I should stop sweating the small (or even large) stuff because I am not in charge and it is not in my control. More importantly he was saying that there is room for everything:  every opinion, every happening, every emotion, everyone.  My answer was to let him know that I understood that it is the God/Goddess/Great Spirit (whoever we want to embrace) that is the one in charge.  I know why I dreamed this, I have been working very hard to get my first book published and along with a billion other writers, I am finding out just how hard that is. The message was for me to keep trying the best I can but at the end of the day it’s out of my hands. “Try and relax kiddo.”

No doubt about it, dreams are funny, intangible, ethereal things which, upon waking, vanish like fog in the morning sun. Yet they can be much more than the brain’s nightly entertainment; they can be a pictorial key to understanding our interior life.

As we travel through our day we operate out of the left side of our brain, the part of our brain that employs the ego. The ego is all about the “I” as in: what do I want? The left brain is also the language center, it talks to us, telling us what we should do or say to get what we need to feel us safe and happy. It uses rational and logic, taking everything one step at a time while collaborating with time and memory to keep us functioning in an organized way. While we are awake the left part of our brain is in charge of daily life.

When we are asleep, however, the logical side of our brain lets its rational guard down and the right side, the “we” side with its emotional, pictorial and symbolically-oriented mode of operation flows freely – creating dreams.

During the night these two opposing camps carry on long, important conversations – sharing information and restoring a balance between the rational and irrational sides of being human.  In today’s culture there is great importance placed on the things the left brain does while the right brain’s talents have been trivialized. Yet dreams are part of a complicated system that promotes emotional, mental and physical well-being. We do them a disservice if we dismiss them as simple fairy stories we tell ourselves while in the land of Nod.  Dreams pull left brain thought and experiences in and run them through right brain filters that tell us what we really think and how we really feel about the world.

Motivations of dreams  

We dream for different reasons

1) To release tension, to register our discomfort and see or understand what we are                 currently dealing with

2) To process and integrate things that have happened to us.

3) To process and integrate information given to us during the day, the ramifications of                                                              which, we haven’t  had time to consider.

4) To actually learn or acquire more information that wasn’t getting through in our waking hours. This can be the result of left brain interference or blockage, or the unique nature of some information, best understood through pictures or impressions.

5) In addition to number 4, there are what I call spiritual, message or even magic dreams.  These are dreams that seem to come from outside us. They don’t seem to stem from our recognizable personalities.  Strangers show up; garbed in exotic clothes, they could perform ritualistic movements, give us items or gifts, remind us of things we’ve forgotten, or say things to us that we’ve never even thought of before. They can shock us or inspire us but these characters almost always have an important message for us. This is the category my “turban man” dream falls in. You wake up changed in some way.

Dream interpretation

Back in the 70s, when dream interpretation hit the big time, we had an influx of help-yourself dream books published. They may help you get started thinking symbolically but they aren’t really much help in the long run. These books are someone else’s ideas of generic cultural norms and they may not be yours. Two people dream of a snake. One person hates and fears snakes and the other thinks they are fascinating, how is the interpretation going to be the same for each?

The best way to interpret your dreams is through common sense and trust in your own ideas. You know what snakes mean to you and that is the best route to take for an insightful, truthful interpretation.

Reoccurring dreams are chronic fears or chronic problems that the brain considers a threat to the human unit. Whether it’s a psychological deficiency that the mind is trying to improve upon or something physically out of joint, harmful, or scary, dreaming is done to bring up awareness and even offer (sometimes very unpopular) solutions.

Real Life Examples

I had a less-than-confident girlfriend years ago who dreamed repeatedly she was a passenger in a small plane. She woke up terrified because the pilot, a faceless male, was always flying and the plane was always crashing.

I asked her why she didn’t take control and fly the plane herself:  “Why aren’t you driving? It’s your plane, and it’s your life.”

She spent a month or so analyzing her attitude of deference to others, especially to the male population; and, then she had her breakthrough: she dreamed she was in the pilot’s seat and the plane didn’t go down.

In this case, her brain was showing her in graphic detail a basic flaw in her character that needed attention. When all was said and done it didn’t radically alter her personality, but it helped her to see the truth about herself and take some new steps for a personal growth spurt. Through her reoccurring dream, she gained an awareness of how she unconsciously operated and also learned how these unconscious attitudes could potentially harm her.

During the day, our rational mind does a lot of gymnastic handstands to convince us that everything we’re doing is fine and there’s no need to upset our routine. Yet, dreams are remarkable in their ability to cut the crap and get to the chase.

Also many years ago, a new boss came on board at a company I worked for. The man was a total Nazi and life at the office became intolerable. Still, I clung to the job for all the usual rational reasons – even after my health began to seriously suffer.

I was toughing it out. I was sure I could do it; and, besides, I wasn’t going to let him win anyway. After several months of agony I had a very bad dream: screaming demons were threatening to devour me. Not knowing what action I should take within this dream I decided to try prayer, instinctively making a grab for something I was sure had the power to eradicate them. To my shock and surprise, their horrific voices only got louder and when it became very clear they were going to overwhelm me, I was the one who woke up screaming.

My dream was telling me in no uncertain terms that no matter what, I didn’t have the power to fix this – my life had become a literal nightmare and the time to make a change was long overdue. I began to make arrangements to change my job but it turned out that what I really needed to change was the way I reacted to authority. Once I stood up to this man everything was different and I didn’t have to switch jobs.  This dream made an enormous difference in my life.

Through dreams the subconscious can get “air time” for very important messages – messages that can be of great benefit to well-being of the entire human body. All we need do to take advantage of this is to hear them.

Dreams are your psychiatric assistants’

Keep in mind, though, that the brain doesn’t run a movie channel for psychiatric self- help every night of the week. If we are doing pretty well, our dreams can get so boring we don’t even remember them. That’s okay, but if you’re getting a nightly kick in the head, something is wrong and the mind/body/spirit is desperately trying to get you to recognize it and heal yourself.  If you never remember your dreams there are lots of books out there that have exercises in them to help you.

Dreams are always on our side, so stop and give some serious attention to what the other side of your brain is saying; the one that uses symbols and can’t speak in words, because as they say: a picture is worth a thousand of them.

All Photos and Text are Copyrighted 2012 CLCW