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December 22, 2012

Merry Winter Solstice Holidays and a Blessed New Year!

Though my soul may set in darkness it will rise in perfect light. I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.  ~Sarah Williams

Tree Mandala - Rios de Vida
It’s been a crazy year…personally, culturally, and internationally. But here we are—according to the wisdom keepers of ancient traditions, we’ve been given the opportunity to move into a galactic epoch of new vision and positive change.

Yesterday, the world didn’t end, but something has definitely shifted. I can feel it, and others around the world can feel it: a tiny seed—amidst all the brouhaha—of partnership between peoples and nations and the earth. The Age of Aquarius!

They say that we are moving out of a strictly materialistic view of reality, making room for the magic, mystery, and spirit that has been missing in our lives. I believe it is necessary for us each to hold this vision in our hearts —a seed star of Light to help us navigate the Dark—until it is fully birthed into our minds and deeper psyches and then, hopefully, becomes reality on a worldwide scale.

Yes, I do hang on to hope as we begin to unravel the tangle of suffering occurring on every corner of our beautiful/troubled planet. The reason I can see my way through the maze of darkness to a more positive future, is because of the millions of light workers in every corner of the earth today…the artists, storytellers, music makers, dreamworkers, humanitarians, teachers, wise and holy women and men, ordinary people who are making a difference, and aware parents who are raising healthy, happy, and heart-centered children; the carriers of the new Torch.

At this time of year when the Earth Mother sends her seeds deep within to protect them from the chill winds all around, may we also protect and nurture our creative plans and dreams, each in our own way, awaiting the perfect time to bring them to fruition.

If you are receiving this message, I behold the Light and Love within you…I know you have made a difference in my or someone else’s life. Because of you, the world is a better place, and for that I am grateful.



December 20, 2012

The Wisdom of Animal Voices

Fledgling by Jeanie Tomanek
Archetypes, I am told, are instinctual psychological patterns of behavior within our collective unconscious. However, an archetype remains 'merely' a potential pattern of behavior  until an actual event or experience in an individual's life  activates its energy in the psyche. Once activated, these energies become so powerful that they shape the way we perceive the world. And, while archetypes are  considered to be collective drives, they  are experienced and expressed by each of us in our own personal ways. We connect to animal archetypes—known as totems—through synchronicities, dream encounters, active imagination, close encounters in nature, mythology, and art—as evidenced by this powerful painting entitled “Fledgling” by artist Jeanie Tomanek.

According to indigenous peoples around the world, animal totems are sources of power and wisdom for a human being. A person’s totems (we can have more than one) are the animals we feel the most attachment to through the archetypal qualities they invokes in us, and are those  that appear most often to us to impart their lessons. Several of the better-known animal archetypes are Crow/Shape-Shifter, Coyote/Trickster, Snake/Change, Owl/Death, Elephant/Trail Blazer, and Hawk/Far-Sighted. Each of these animals can also represent other archetypal energies in a person's psyche besides the ones I’ve listed here from my own understanding and  experience.

For years, I have encountered animal totems in my waking and dreaming life. From these experiences, I feel connected most closely to the energies of Crow, Hawk, Wolf, Bear, Dolphin, Elephant, and Dog. When an event of synchronicity with Hawk occurs—for instance, I am in a muddle about a situation, turning it over and over in my head as I walk along, and all of a sudden I become aware of Hawk circling overhead—I know immediately that I need to step back and look at the problem from a ‘higher perspective.” That there is something I’m missing of importance in my myopic view of the situation.

A friend of mine and I are both Crow people, but we experience its totem energies in different ways. Crow brings my friend messages on her path on a regular basis and has been instrumental in guiding her to her “true purpose in life.”  Crow talks to me primarily during times of transformation and transition, as when a loved one is passing from this realm to the next.

Since I personally experience totem energies most often in events of synchronicity, I’d like to share a cluster of meaningful coincidences that occurred around the archetype of Owl.

My brief connection to the Owl archetype began to take shape the day I read author Frank Joseph's account of the huge pre-Incan Owl-headed figure carved on the side of a Peruvian cliff: “With its right hand it points at the sky, while its left hand gestures toward the ground, implying the soul’s flight from Earth to heaven.”  The image fully caught my imagination, and I made a mental note to visit this ancient site if I were ever in that part of South America.
The next afternoon, my friend Anna’s son Michael was pressure washing my back deck when a baby owl came to perch by him on the privacy fence surrounding my yard in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I lived at the time.  The young bird sat there for several minutes amidst the noise and spray of the machine, watching Michael work.  We both found this incident strange since neither of us had ever seen an owl before in our suburban neighborhood. That, and the fact that owls are nocturnal and rarely make an appearance in the daylight hours, made me count this as a synchronicity connected to my reading about the owl etching the day before. When reflecting on the meaning of this coincidence, I realized that the idea of the “soul’s flight from Earth to heaven” could well be applied to Michael’s owl sighting since his father, Keith, had died just 10 months earlier.  Later, when I told his mother about the event, Anna stated that she didn’t know if Michael’s owl experience could be construed as a soul message from his father, but that there was definitely a connection going on since she had placed a wooden owl on Keith’s headstone, unbeknownst to Michael, as a protection from negative energies just days before!

A few hours after beginning the writing of this blog post, I checked my email to find that I was sent a link to a website, www.herstangeangels.com. There I found these words and picture of Owl:

Art by Elena Ray

 “…When women were birds [...] We knew our greatest freedom was in taking flight at night, when we could steal the heavenly darkness for ourselves, navigating through the intelligence of stars and the constellations of our own making in the delight and terror of our uncertainty.” -T.T. Williams

These voices of Owl remind me at this time of Winter Solstice 2012 that within the Dark is the seed of Inner Light; within the archetype of Death is Rebirth.

      May it be so!



December 11, 2012

Sharing Our Stories

There is an almost sensual longing for communion with others who have a larger vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendships between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality almost impossible to describe.
~ Teilhard de Chardin

There are a couple of things I find agreeable about Facebook:  connecting with kindred souls and the delicious stories of synchronicity that come out of our sharing. Both of these types of communication happened just the other day on my friend R’s Facebook page. Before I tell the story of the exchange that occurred, I must add that R and those who took part in the discussion on her ‘thread’ are, like me, believers that the universe and everything in it is alive with consciousness. Because of this, we are constantly being guided along our paths, especially, when the messages we receive are paid attention to and reflected on over time.

In the interest of brevity, the conversation from R's Facebook page that I’m sharing below has been shortened with much of it excluded. This in no way discounts all the sage advice and heartfelt sharing by everyone who actually commented on the thread:

R began the post: “Making peace with all that is today...again, some of you may recall that last summer I lost my only crystal...an Amethyst shaped like an athame'...and it was when the green Moth landed on it that I found the stone. Two days ago while meditating, I had a vision of my amethyst [necklace] shrinking in its silver cage. After coming inside and looking in the mirror the crystal was gone...I’ve cried and feel as if a part of me is missing, as I’ve been wearing and using this piece for ~20 years. It has my energy imbedded within it. Where did it go? Did it actually transmute? And why? Rhetorical, really. I need to stop now and accept that it’s gone...I mean isn’t this just another lesson about letting go? But I keep asking myself why this one crystal? Out of any of mine, I could care less, save this one. It feels like I’m missing a part of myself. I should let it go or trust it will return. But not hang on to it or anything...this is destructive and negative. But isn’t it good to let my emotions out...to process the loss? I cave, and I give in. I surrender it all to Spirit...”

CV commented: With the hand open wide, enjoy that which floats in and sits upon it and with gratitude enjoy its presence and when it floats away, only know another opportunity is now held in the very hand that still remains wide open.

JT commented, sharing a remarkable synchronicity: “I don't know jack about crystals, or have too much sentiment for objects in general, but I own a Buck #104 hunting knife that I bought with money from a paper route when I was 10 or so. It was a prized possession and was a constant companion for work and play. At some point in my late teens, I misplaced it, and I was disappointed. Some 15 years later while searching a junkyard for parts for my ford truck, this black leather sheath fell from beneath the rotted seat of a completely stripped chassis. It contained a knife—a buck #104, in fact. All at once I remembered stripping wires while working on my older brothers 72 Ford F-250 years prior, as he was preparing to sell it. That was the last I saw it. This was my brother’s truck and my Knife!! Now reunited, it currently slices apples and peels oranges at lunchtime while I’m on the job. You never know what can happen, so don't project the loss into the future.”

J commented: Big hugs to you, R. About 10 years ago I had a gem stone necklace (a string of beautiful stones) with a perfect amethyst crystal suspended within a gemstone circle as the centerpiece. It was an original, made by an Indian woman in Michigan...One of a kind. I loved that necklace and put much of my energy into it, too. I was house sitting for a friend one year, went away for the week-end, and when I returned, it was gone. Its disappearance caused me much pain until I came to the decision, like you, that it was a lesson in letting go. I figured that for whatever reason someone needed it more than I did at that time. It still hurt, though.

CV commented: “Whenever I have been confronted with losing an item, and I have sunk low regarding its loss...in that feeling like a prized possession was stolen, taken, misplaced, or just no longer mine...I felt worse. [...] I have found that when you get open, as J perfectly illustrated above, that suddenly, there is 'purpose' in the beloved piece moving onto another and then instead of feeling loss, you feel quite well and relaxed again in a state versus suffering […] So maybe, each thief was a saint in disguise for me [...] in whom I needed to become.

R responded to all: “You all are beautiful...thank you...I knew by sharing this I’d feel so much better...and I do. I love you all […] And, C—what irony—in meditation, I had a vision of it literally shrinking and gone. There must be a purpose in all of this. I’m so glad you all shared your stories with me...”

May all our stories be so spirit-charged and helpful to others and ourselves in our quest for meaning in our lives.



December 1, 2012

Dreaming Future Events

Chogyam Trungpa
Twenty years ago I had a dream in which I stood in a long hallway lined with many doors. Behind each door that I opened stood the same aged man. I thought him to be a Wise Old Man although we hadn’t actually spoken to one another. After I’d opened and closed all the doors, the man came out into the hallway and offered up his name as Chogyam Trungpa. He explained that he was my husband’s “ordained teacher,” but that he (Trungpa) was having a difficult time convincing him of this. He intuited that this was the result of my husband’s displeasure over seeing the same person behind each door. I agreed and explained to him that my husband likes variety and the repetition of seeing the same person behind each door could only serve to irritate him. Trungpa laughed heartily and said, “If your husband understood the multiplicity of my true nature, he would know that I only appear to be the same person behind each door.”

The significant events preceding this dream are typical of the way that synchronicity works in my life. First, about six months before the dream, a psychology professor at the university I was attending told me about Naropa Institute, a school in Boulder, Colorado that he felt would be the right graduate school for me to attend. My interest was piqued, but I didn’t investigate Naropa at that time, being busy with my newly acquired position at Wayne State University as a research technician.

A few weeks later, my cousin called from California, and suggested that I read Meditation in Action, stating merely that it was written by a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. My job and the 200-mile drive between where I was living to where I attended the weekly meetings at Wayne State precluded my looking into the book as well. Several months passed before a friend also suggested that I read Meditation in Action, this time stating the author’s name, Chogyam Trungpa. The second suggestion by my friend in Michigan to read the same book my cousin in California had recommended finally got my full attention.

Between my decision to read the book and actually reading it, I had the above- mentioned dream. I wasted no time in purchasing Meditation in Action, and discovered while reading the author’s credits that he was the founder of Naropa, the same school I had been gestating thoughts about attending for my graduate studies!

As the above story illustrates, our experience of inner reality and its external counterparts are intimately connected. I grew up knowing that the world I perceived with my physical senses was only a portion of total reality. As a child, inner space was where I integrated external experience with internal knowing. It was the safest space where I could incubate and protect my emerging selfhood. I knew the power of imagination and myth from the vantage point of being an active participant. My ‘childish’ ego and unconscious were connected in such a way that the energy from their union charged my life.

After years of schooling and taking in the cultural values of the West, I began to lose much of the natural intuition and imagination of childhood, replacing these with the skill of information gathering, ultimately becoming over-identified with ego. My study of psychology became a quest to understand the ‘science’ of mind according to the prevailing paradigm of the times: objective research and testing of neurological brain activity.

It didn’t take long before I began to look for some sign of spirit within the science of psychology and, finding it sorely lacking, started to wonder if I were even in the right field of study. It was around that time that I discovered the works of C.G. Jung and Jungian writers like James Hillman, June Singer, Barbara Hannah, Jean Houston, Thomas Moore, and bid farewell to the upholders of psychology’s behavioristic status quo, like the Cognitive Psychology professor who gave me an off-hand compliment after my senior presentation, “A job well done, Jenna! In spite of your reliance on the theories of Carl Jung et al.”

I never had the opportunity to attend Naropa’s Transpersonal Psychology Program because when my real life husband became sick and died of cancer the following year, I was thrown into the role of sole support of our young family. But the seed had been planted to learn in an atmosphere that combines the best of scientific method with ancient soul-making activities such as meditation, ritual, active imagination, story, dance, art, music, and dream and shamanic journeying. My vision of finding a graduate program where my multifaceted spiritual self could communicate with my lover of information self was fulfilled when I found Atlantic University’s Transpersonal Studies Master’s Program 12 years later.

From this future perspective, I feel that I can interpret the opening dream and the synchronistic events leading up to it as guiding me into contemplative practices and the transpersonal work I love. I've finally found satisfaction for the longing to combine spiritual awareness and psychological studies in a way that mere scientific research and collecting of concepts and ideas never could.



November 21, 2012

Moments of Grace: Giving Thanks

This Thanksgiving week I am in Florida, sitting in a Hospice center with a dying friend. As many of you know, tending to the needs of a loved one who is nearing the end of life is a blessing and an honor.  But it can also change quickly into feeling like a curse, depending on the levels of fear, anger, denial, and pain being experienced by the person coming to terms with their dying.

The day before yesterday was a good day. From the moment I walked into the room where my friend lay, until I left several hours later, there was a feeling of lightness in the room that was not there the day before, nor the day after. As I entered, S raised her head and smiled angelically in greeting; the dark imprint of fear and anger that was there the evening before erased from her features.  We connected in ways that I’d hoped we would again before her passing: quiet talk of shared memories and pleasant camaraderie, even a few moments of honestly facing the facts of her demise as we discussed  the slowing of bodily functions, the body’s way of shutting down and bringing closure to life in the here and now. There was an air of peace that felt like sheer Grace as we explored this letting go as I gently rubbed her feet. Gone for the moment were the usual feelings of intense panic, anger, and sadness over her multiple losses of personal control, unfulfilled dreams (she had never written that book she had meant to write), and having to leave all that is dear to her in this life.  Not that I judge those feelings as bad.  Who wouldn’t be thrown into despair when facing a dread disease like cancer? But, thankfully, while it has ravaged her body and at times darkened the thoughts of my friend's mind, cancer has not destroyed her beautiful spirit.

Just hours before this day of blessing, I was wondering what I personally could do to brighten S's remaining days; to make her last hours memorable.  Intention sent. Problem solved!
That morning I walked in to my friend’s Hospice room to find her not only more lucid than she had been in a while, but infinitely more cheerful as she asked if I would read to her from the newspaper (it had been weeks since she had shown any interest in the outside world). Disregarding everything  except the editorials she loves, I read to her while she smiled and dozed happily on and off. Later, she shared her fear of being judged by her Hospice caregivers when she couldn’t perform simple functions like going to the toilet and holding her own glass of water. Being in Hospice care is an exceptionally vulnerable position for my fiercely independent friend to be in. She, who had chosen to never marry and who had earned her Ph.D. in psychology as a young woman with little help from her own dysfunctional family, had not relied on others for much physical or emotional support in her adult life. Once out in the open, her concerns about being weak, needy, and insignificant, as well as her fears about the Hospice staff, didn’t take long to resolve. This helped her to move on to her biggest challenge: moving through the process of physically dying. Blessed day! She really seemed to grasp that it was time to let go and let others lovingly care for her as she had done in her counseling practice for so many others.  

Ah well, that was then and this is now. Today is not such a light-filled day. But S is not back at ‘square one,’ not by a long shot. She has spiraled up to a higher plane as she circles back to confronting her fears, anger, sadness, and loss of control. As they say in the 12-Step Program: one day at a time. And as I say at times like these: one minute at a time. Each step forward reminds me as a caregiver to give thanks for those special moments of grace, the ones that connect my friend and me, heart to heart.  Two mortal beings, facing the same ultimate fear of dying.

Happy Thanksgiving!



November 2, 2012

Elections, Shift Happens, and Revised Thoughts About The Villages

In a few days we will have the results of the presidential, congressional, and local elections, ending a ridiculously polarized and contentious campaign season. Although the stakes are high in all our minds, I for one am ready to smooth down my ruffled feathers and have the election over with. A few weeks ago I voiced my concerns about the outcome of this election to a Wise Woman, author and healer I am graced to know in Berkeley where I live, Carolyn North. Carolyn put the whole fear-of-negative-outcomes thing in perspective for me. She told me that the way she deals with her own fears and desires to have things go a certain way is to look at the Big Picture and the deeper history of world events. That way she sees ‘above the fray’ to witness how systems blossom and decline in cycles, sometimes up and sometimes down, from an individual and cultural perspective. We must have confidence that the wheel will come around to healing of the earth and her systems again and again. As for those of us who are currently concerned about future generations and the kind of culture and ecosystem we are leaving for our children and their children, Carolyn believes that we have opted to ‘be here now’ at this pivotal point in time to help birth into the world a new paradigm of joy, unity, and partnership. Try as we may individually, this shift might not happen on a collective level in our lifetime. But, our intentions, beliefs, and actions will eventually shed light on the future—as sure as day follows night. Carolyn has presented this and other inspired ideas in her most recent book, World Shift Happens: Facing Down the Fear, and Waking Up the Mind. I highly recommend this and other books by Carolyn to all who are willing to“open [their] minds and hearts to new ways of thinking and being.”

And so, the pun “shift happens” brings me around to a synchronicity I experienced shortly after writing my last blog post titled “What Gives Life Meaning?” I wrote that rather unflattering post about a retirement community in Florida called The Villages while I was visiting family and friends in another part of Florida. On the first leg of the trip back home to California, from Tampa to Philadelphia, I ‘just happened’ to sit next to a woman from…you guessed it...The Villages! We struck up a conversation right away, even though I personally tend to be more quiet and solitary on airplanes. However, B’s sweet demeanor and openhearted conversational style was infectious, and I found myself talking with her for the full two and a half hours, or so, of the flight. We chatted about our families, aging, retirement, change, and just about everything under the sun, which (no pun intended) brought us around to her having just moved from the family home in Pennsylvania to Florida, at The Villages. Right then I thought, “Uh, oh, the universe is going to give me a lesson here. Better listen up!”

A lesson it was! B is the farthest thing from my stereotypical image of the kind of person who might move to The Villages…she is not a golfer, hasn’t joined any game clubs per se, and 100 percent welcomes diversity in her life. She shared with me the fact that she has a gay son and her relief that the people whom she told that information to in The Villages community in which she lives all seemed not only unconcerned, but also welcoming! This included the lesbian couple she met at the pool one day. B also told me of finding a sense of personal meaning in the peace and natural beauty of The Villages, and how uplifting it has been for her since she moved there. As I'm sure it is for others, no matter what their inclinations toward golf and other reasons were for moving there.

Yes, universe you can consider my meeting B a point well taken about not making snap judgments. It has opened my mind to another way of perceiving the world from a higher perspective (as Carolyn advised) than the one I find at the tip of my own nose. I have even accepted an invitation and am looking forward to visiting B and her husband at The Villages the next time I’m in Florida! That all being said, this meaningful coincidence doesn’t diminish my love of Berkeley and the lifestyle I feel so comfortable with here, it just adds to my understanding of others' choices, and for that I am grateful.



Information about Carolyn North: Carolyn North teaches movement and sound for healing, and writes about consciousness using the metaphors embedded in her own life. She is the author of 13 books on cutting edge subjects such as Synchronicity, the Chakras, Conscious Dying, Crop Circles etc. Her books include: - IN THE BEGINNING: Creation Myths from Around the World; - ECSTATIC RELATIONS: Love Stories From the Field; - SERIOUS FUN: Ingenious Improvisations on Money, Food, Waste, Water and Home (ISBN: 978-1844095407), and now WORLDSHIFT HAPPENS! the sequel to Serious Fun.

Carolyn’s website: http://www.CarolynNorthBooks.com/

September 21, 2012

What Gives Life Meaning?

Talking with a friend a few days ago about retirement (loving it!) brought up the subject of the Florida retirement community The Villages, and how that kind of living holds no appeal for me. Perpetually, playing golf, cards, and various other ‘fun’ activities to take up time in retirement is not my thing. My friend pointed out how people in a similar, older Florida community near where she lives have developed a thriving metaphysical community in the midst of their retirement village. Good point! Still, the thought of homogenized living makes me feel claustrophobic. I like to see things out of the ordinary and not too predictable. Where I currently live, I enjoy the experience of colorful Rastafarians, hippie coffee shops, and people of all races and persuasions, including roving bands of twenty-year olds (we don’t live too far from UC Berkeley).  I love the clatter and creativity of young kids in the home and neighborhood in which I live. My writing, dream and synchronicity work, and spirituality all thrive on such diversity.

A few days after our conversation, as meaningful coincidence would have it, I came across something written in The Essential Guide to The Tarot by David Fontana:

“One of the most pressing needs as human beings is to find meaning and purpose in life […] without it, life is no more than a random biological machine […] There is always the sense that there must be more to life than passing the time as pleasurable as possible, and that just beyond the horizon there is something more important and ultimately more satisfying, which all too often we fail to find. Modern research shows that the most affluent communities are far from being the most contented […] We need to look for a spiritual dimension for our fulfillment – to a deeper level of our being that contains the true secret of our identity” (pp. 15 and 16).

Yes, it feels good to have my feelings vindicated!

But, don’t get me wrong. I’m not denigrating the thoughts and feelings of those who choose a different lifestyle than that which works for me. As they say, and I do believe, different strokes for different blokes.

Signing off by wishing folks in The Villages their own personal ‘hole-in-one!’


August 27, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

“The heart is a living symbol. With conviction, we speak of the 'heart of the matter' to refer to something essential or central without which an issue could not exist.”

8Ch.251 – A bear’s lifeline, starting from the heart, is depicted here.
Textile: trade cloth, with trade beads, sinew. USA, ca. 1900 A.D.

Today, I opened an Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS) article titled “Heart” that Jungian analyst Steven Parker shared with those of us who visit his always-interesting Facebook page, Jung Hearted. Attached to the article was a copy of an reproduction of a Bear totem that I've included here. I immediately recognized this ancient totem as similar in meaning to a recent Bear totem/symbol from my own dreaming. 

Back in mid-July I had what I consider to be a Big Dream, one that I will ponder its deeper meaning in my life over time.

In the dream, titled “Heart to Heart” ~

We – a bunch of people, including my son Dylan and his wife Angela - are in a house in the woods. I go to the front door and attempt to open it. Blocking my way are several black bears. I close the door and call for everyone in the house to come see the bears, because it is highly unusual to see bears in this part of the country. In fact, I had never seen a bear this far south in Michigan before. Before the others make it to where I am watching through the window, one of the bears pushes the door wide open. I attempt to close it, but the bear’s strength is too much for me. I run into the interior of the house calling to everyone to go into their bedrooms and lock the doors because now a bear is in the house. In one bedroom with only a curtain for a door are two young children, totally unprotected. I grab them and run to a room with a door. We make it inside, but as I attempt to shut the door and lock it, the bear pushes it open and grabs my left hand and wrist. I am frightened, but Bear’s long, sharp claws don’t break the skin as he holds my hand so he can get in. Because of this gentle handling of my arm, I realize that this bear and I can be friends. I begin singing and crooning to him and smoothing down his facial fur. Soon I'm experiencing love instead of fear, and feel the love from the bear in return. Bear and I begin to communicate telepathically. He tells me that he’s a maverick in his group, and that he broke into our house because he was lonely. After 'talking,' we go out into the main part of the house. Eventually, Dylan and Angela and I walk Bear into the woods so that he can go back to his life in the wild. We stop at a wilderness store to get some provisions at the beginning of our journey. A woman shows me a map and asks if we are going to all the places on the map. She seems very impressed if we are. I tell her that it’s not my map…but I am interested in what all the symbols mean on it. Bear and I step outside for the sake of others who are uncomfortable with a large black bear in the store. I know on some level they think he is my pet, but Bear is not tame. His home is in the wild. After we go on a walkabout together, he will be returning there. Soon, Dylan comes out of the store carrying an over-sized drink that he’s bought to share with everyone…water, I think. I ask Bear where he finds water in the wild when he’s thirsty, concerned that he will have enough to keep him healthy. (EOD)

Upon awakening, I felt a deep gratitude to Bear for connecting me to my inner wildness - a longing for my own instinctive and natural life rhythms - that has been breaking into my conscious awareness since I retired two years ago. When I talked to Dylan about the dream, I discovered that he and Angela had taken an impromptu trip to the west rim of the Grand Canyon after visiting her father in Texas, and that Dylan had expressed a wish, before the trip had even begun, to see a bear as part of his wilderness travels! 

 Alas, no bears were encountered during their travels except those in my dreaming. That in itself is a gift of meaningful coincidence; one that leads me to hold fast to my belief that connections of the heart cross all barriers of time and space. For, while my night dreams of Bear provided a heart connection to my own inner longings, it also connected my mother’s heart to the waking dreams of my son. 

In my opinion, synchronicity doesn't get much better than that...



August 3, 2012

Healing the Sacred Divide

At the top of my 2012 gratitude list is Dr. Jean Raffa’s book “Healing the Sacred Divide: Making Peace with Ourselves, Each Other, and the World.” I’ve been following and enjoying Jean’s blog “Matrignosis” for the past few years, so when she announced that her latest book had been published and was available, I decided to take a gamble and purchase it. Gamble? Ha! The book is a veritable treasure map, pointing the way to psychological, emotional, relational, and spiritual healing.  Jean shows us where we’ve been, where we are, and where we can be on the Path to Wholeness if we are willing to look within and challenge some of our cherished beliefs that have been blocking humanity’s journey for the past several thousand years. While this inner exploration may feel uncomfortable at times, never fear. Jean is a seasoned guide who uses her own and others experiences of Jungian psychology, mythology, dreams, imagination, and personal revelation as solid markers along the way to lead us to a place where spiritual probing, personal meaning, and relational unity are all healthy signs of consciousness evolution.
I’m also pleased that the book relates to my own pet project: synchronicity journaling. In the Prologue, Jean begins with a nightmare she had about the Lone Ranger when she was 10-years of age (You’ll have to read the book to find out what happened in the dream). The Lone Ranger is a metaphor that Jean returns to throughout the book. It heralded her tendency throughout much of her life to wall off her feelings and ‘go it alone’ emotionally, living out her fantasy of being the perpetual stoic Heroine. This tendency showed up early in her life after experiencing extended absences of her beloved father as well as the childhood wounding caused by her parent’s divorce, followed three months later by her father’s death. According to Jean, the Lone Ranger motif is discussed in all three of her books: The Bridge to Wholeness: A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth, Dream Theaters of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dream Work, and Healing the Sacred Divide.
The main motif of Healing the Sacred Divide, however, is the meaning of the symbol known as the mandorla. In Jean’s words a mandorla iswhere our power to set ourselves apart yields to a dawning awareness of what we share with ‘other’[… ]a holy place of healing where miracles occur.” The visual of this symbol is the almond shaped place where two circles meet as depicted on the cover of her book.  Jean writes that according to Jungian analyst and author Robert Johnson, “The mandorla binds together that which was torn apart and made un-whole—unholy.”  She adds, “The mandorla is creative synthesis, a symbol of partnership, conflict resolution, healing, and peace-making” and  “a radical middle path to God.”

With these pieces of information about the book - the significance and meanings of the symbols of Lone Ranger and the mandorla - you will soon see how they tie into the synchronicity I am about to relate.

I read all but the very last section of the book a few nights ago, and decided to savor the end for the next morning. That evening I chose, instead, some light entertainment (or so I thought) in the form of Netflix movie. I deliberately picked one that looked rather lighthearted titled Smoke Signals. According to a reviewer, “This was a funny, gentle movie (no cartoon violence or excessive language) that made me think, but not too hard!” Lord knows why I ever trust those reviews; they are almost never on the mark!
In fact, the movie is intense. It is about a couple of Indian kids on a reservation. The one, Thomas, loses his parents when he was an infant - in the very beginning of the film - to a house fire. The other, Victor, lives with a drunken, unavailable father who winds up leaving the family altogether when Victor is 12-years old.  I don’t want to tell too much about it in case you want to watch this fabulous film; suffice it to say that I cried many tears at the end (a bittersweet blend of happiness and sadness). But, here’s the clincher: I found out during the closing credits that the movie was based on a book titled “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven”! There is also a remark by one of the characters in the film about Victor acting out emotionally like the ‘Lone Ranger’ toward the end of the film as well.  I didn’t get the mandorla connection until the very last words were spoken, but when I did, it hit me over the head in some of the parting words, spoken by Thomas, who played the Trickster ‘other’ that helped to heal Victor’s emotional ‘Lone Ranger'

How do we forgive our fathers? Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us too often or forever when we were little? Do we forgive our fathers for marrying or not marrying our mothers? For divorcing or not divorcing our mothers?

Wow! That is what I call a meaningful coincidence! And another synchronicity within a synchronicity: my parents’ divorce and my father leaving our home when I was around 10-years old traumatized me as a kid, too. The combination of the book and film helped to heal part of that wounding.

How does the seemingly magical alchemy of synchronicity work? I don’t know, but I surely do feel blessed and grateful when it happens.

July 17, 2012

Circles of Stones and Other Circles

I started out the week listening to my son Dylan’s original song “Circles and Speckles” on the video my other son, Jeremy, created for my daughter Julie’s 40th Birthday party this past Sunday (click on Hyperlink to listen).

Today, Stephen Parker, posted photos of several Megalithic stone circle sites on the Jung Hearted Facebook Page. What followed was an interesting discussion as to the meaning and reason for these types of circle of stones sites in Europe and other parts of the world. I immediately thought of feminine spirituality and the numinous quality of the sites that can be felt by all who visit and view them.

Man and woman that don't get in the Circle get exhausted.” Michelle Proverb
After reading and responding to the JH posts, the very next post I opened on Facebook was this picture of man/woman circle.

Circle of Stones, PIXAR, Emeryville, CA
Later today I went to PIXAR to meet Jeremy and his wife, Aimee, for lunch and the first thing I noticed on the grounds coming up the walk to the main building was...Yep! You guessed it!...the "Circle of Stones" that replicate the circle of stones in the movie Brave. Brave, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet is an animated movie about an exceptional young woman by the name of Merida, who comes into her own as a full-fledged person - beyond her duties as a Scottish princess who is expected to fulfill her clan's expectations of her - and gains the allegiance of her straight-laced, custom-bound mother along the way. It is a wonderful movie that I’m going to go see again!

And as I made my way up the PIXAR walk, I realized  that my thoughts about Merida fit in well with the words I heard in my mind while waking up from a dream a few days ago: “Rethink, reimagine, and Reinvent your life!”

It also came to me while thinking about the connection between circle of stone images, a young woman finding a place in the world for her authentic self, and my dream message to reimagine my own life that I needed to revisit Judith Duerk’s lovely book “Circle of Stones: Woman’s Journey to Herself.”

Image from Shiloh Sophia McCloud's "Color of Woman" Journal
Here are the opening words to Judith Duerk’s book:

“Circles of stones, haunting, healing, powerful…from the ancient circles, the Ring of Brogar in the Orkneys, the Rollright Stones, Stonehenge…to the dozens, perhaps hundreds of circles in Scandinavia and the northern isles…

“Circles of smooth stones on a tabletop…dream images of stones in a circle…primordial places of devotion, the sacred grotto…attending the Goddess. For modern woman, the circle of stones as the place of centered stillness…listening to what is within, her work of individuation as her woman’s ego separates from the values around her and finds a ground through its roots in the archetypal Feminine, in the sacred Self within.

“This writing rests on the image of a circle of stones. Not contiguous, the spaces in between trust the feeling and intuition of the reader to bridge the gaps. The themes—not linear, but circular, like the feminine process of consciousness in either man or woman—come round again and again, impressing meaning through nuance, soft change of colouration, shift of light and shadow, deepening the imprint through subtle change of cadence, rubato.

“The underlying theme…of woman’s birth from woman…identification with the Feminine…separation, as the animus, her masculine side, exerts its pull…her eventual return to feminine ground…to come to her own unique consciousness of the archetypal Feminine…to let the strong, wise, and deep Feminine manifest in her life…now, not in unconscious identification, but through her own individual, subjective being and efforts.”

In light of these synchronicities and awe inspiring words, I find it auspicious that it is my beautiful granddaughter Lexi’s 19th birthday today. It is my blessing and prayer that she, too, find her perfect place to express her many gifts in this sometimes lovely/sometimes wounded world.