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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.