One Winter Morning

Pastel Essay and Text by Claire Blatchford

I wake to darkness.

It’s freezing outside, I can feel the cold like a skin around the house but the warmth inside holds close and steady. I get into my warmest robe, socks and slippers, and walk from window to window upstairs, then downstairs.

East—South—West—North.

In the east, whiteness of snow outlines the black of the woods.
I wait and watch as a pale blue sky emerges.

Then orange, then yellow, then pulsating gold…
Then—suddenly—among dark tree trunks and branches, the orange, red, yellow, gold blossom of the day bursts into view.

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The colors are dispersing rapidly—so rapidly I hurry to a southern window to see what’s there, and find exquisite frost feathers spiraling over the panes.

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From yet another window facing south, the rise and fall of snow waves in the yard below, shaped by the wind playing through, around, and over the snow fence, come into view.

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Looking next to the west, it’s easy to make out the elegant, steady presence of our evergreen friends. For a minute I wonder if I am looking out or they are looking in!

They make me stand straighter.
I salute them.

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Then I return to the east, to the window that looks into the spruce by our back door.

And there—looking as though it might have been left in the nook of a branch by the rising sun—is a scoop of deep red!

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The dog hears my exclamation and begs to go out to see what I see.

The darkness has flowed into brightness, colors, surprises…
I open the door.

The day has begun.

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A Lorian Priest Explores Geomancy

I learned to dowse nearly forty years ago from a dowser named Herb, whom my father hired to locate where to drill a well. Herb’s dowsing rod was a modern version of the traditional forked stick - two white nylon rods duct-taped together at one end. He told the well driller exactly where to drill, how deep the water source was, and how many gallons per minute they’d find, and he was right.

In addition to finding underground water for wells, Herb also dowsed for something he called geopathic stress, places where energies in the landscape have a negative effect on human health. He was particularly interested in places where two or more underground streams intersected. As he explained it, spending a lot of time over such spots, like sleeping or working at a desk, could cause all kinds of problems – sleep disturbances, weakened immunity, arthritis, cancer, and more. Fortunately, he said, this kind of problem could be addressed in surprisingly simple ways, and he told me stories of people he’d helped.

As far as I was concerned, Herb was a magician. I was utterly enchanted, so he handed me a rod and showed me how to dowse. It turned out I had a knack for it. I was hooked, not only on dowsing, but on the very real and practical benefits of working with subtle energies in the landscape. A whole new world opened up to me, beyond what could be apprehended by the physical senses.

Although I didn’t realize it until years later, this encounter was my introduction to geomancy, a form of earth healing with variants in traditional cultures around the world. Geomancy takes into account that there is more to the world than we can perceive with our five senses. Just as with mind/body medicine, geomancy addresses not only the physical causes of distress or imbalance in a home or a landscape, but the energetic ones, as well.

The physical environment is interlaced with and supported by a sort of energetic scaffolding of currents, grids and vortices, like the meridians and chakras within our own bodies. These lines and grids can be distorted by psychic and noetic residues that accumulate in the landscape. Activities in the physical world leave an imprint in the subtle world. Historical events, especially traumatic or strongly emotional ones, can have a big impact and create static place memory that can keep a place energetically stuck in the past, endlessly recirculating patterns that inhibit health and evolution. And, of course, there are ghosts and other non-physical beings, human and otherwise, whose presence can have all kinds of effects, for good or ill.

A few years ago I began apprenticing with a master geomancer, Patrick, a third-generation practitioner of spiritual and psychic healing. For the past 25 years, he has traveled the world tending to unbalanced and traumatized places. What Patrick accomplishes through his practice of geomancy is magical—crop yields increasing manyfold, dry springs and sandy creek beds suddenly flowing with water, debt-ridden businesses starting to thrive, long-standing illnesses and conflicts resolving. Using various tools, including dowsing, in collaboration with spiritual, angelic and other non-physical partners, he works miracles that defy science and logic.

A geomancer is part wizard, part custodian, part mediator, and part Greenpeace activist, practicing in the in-between places where the material, subtle and spiritual worlds meet and mingle with the light of consciousness. Geomancy, essentially, is about clearing, blessing and enhancing the energy in our homes and landscapes to bring about greater harmony and wholeness. Even more, it is about cultivating a conscious, loving relationship with the collective intelligence of the living Earth. To me, geomancy is applied Incarnational Spirituality.

Our relationship with place – home and community – is one of our most important and primary relationships. In these scary times, facing the horrors of climate change, mass extinctions, and endemic pollution, it’s hard not to feel as if our relationship with Earth is irreparably broken. Unfortunately, a lot of environmental activism is fueled by fear and anger. Scientific predictions are grim, suggesting that much of the damage is irreversible, which adds a layer of hopelessness to the anxiety and shame many of us already struggle with. The irony is that such emotions are toxins in the subtle worlds, where they can create even more imbalance. Many people believe Earth would be better off without humans at all. How can we have come to a point of such estrangement from the world that gave birth to us? How do we deal with the overwhelming consequences?

That’s where the real magic of geomancy comes in. We do not have to deal with this alone. In fact, no matter what knowledge and skills we may bring to the task, far greater transformation is possible when we join forces with helpers in the unseen realms. In truth, a geomancer is mostly just a general contractor, the boots on the ground for the non-physical members of the team, sizing up what might be needed, and then calling in the right healers or contractors, so to speak, especially for the heavy lifting.

Traditional and contemporary cultures around the world have held great reverence and love for the spirit of place. The Romans called Spirit of Place the Genius Loci, Loci being the place or location, and Genius referring to the spirit that governed or tended to it. While today we think of genius as meaning intelligence or talent, originally it meant a protective spirit, the guardian angel of a person or an area. Any one of us can call upon the Genius Loci of our own places—our homes, our neighborhood, the woods and lakes and landscapes around us, and ask them for help.

While I get anxious about my abilities as a geomancer, and often am drained by the challenge of mediating between such different energies, I am awed, humbled and uplifted by this work. I am constantly learning to expand my sense of what is possible, to trust and believe more and more in the reality of this partnership and the help that is there for the asking.

This is not easy in the world we live in. In the face of hard science and front page headlines, it’s hard to trust that there is more hope for healing the world than we are led to believe. Even those of us who read blogs like this, who are members of organizations like Lorian, often have quiet doubts, if not about the reality of numinous helpers, then with our worthiness to take our place alongside them and accomplish necessary miracles. It takes courage to defy the disenchantment of our world. I keep stumbling upon all the limits I’ve placed on what seems possible, and discovering just how bereft of magic I feel.

But geomancy gives me evidence of what I long for most. It re-enchants the world. It opens my heart to wonder. It gives me healing tools that seem just this side of magic. Mostly, it gives me glimpses of the luminous presence of Love in all its emanations and incarnations, waiting under the heavy layers of despair to help us heal the Earth.

Sing the Song in Your Heart

Essay and Sketch by Mary Reddy

In fifth grade, the nuns taught us to read music. They counted music as an essential member of the family whose siblings were reading, writing, and mathematics. After a year of studying the treble clef; whole, half, and quarter notes; rhythms and key signatures; we each had to pass a final sight-reading exam. When it was my turn, I stood up and sang to my classmates from a piece of sheet music that I’d never seen before. I had the curious sensation of being terrified that people were looking at me mingled with the surety that I could do this! It was not my anxious mind that succeeded, it was my voice and my eyes in sync, acting together to vocalize the visual and spatial relationships I saw on the page before me. I passed the exam.

In grade school, I sang alto in the church choir. It often meant learning counterintuitive melodies that underlined or counterpointed the primary melody. I loved these sounds that felt all the more powerful because they sat back behind the song, underpinning it, providing a shadow to its light so that the whole was more clearly etched in the listener’s heart.

But for much of my life, music was the lover that got away. I enjoyed brief periods with the piano as a child and later in young adulthood with the guitar followed by years of simply listening to others play. But when alone listening to recorded music, I have always sung along. If I love a song I cannot NOT participate, raising my voice to sound the notes. And now I am seeking out that love once more, not to abandon it again.

For that love is a sacred communion. Over the centuries, people instinctively sensed the spiritual power of song—as hymns, psalms, and chants woven into rituals, augmented by drums or musical instruments. One of my aunts wrote liturgical music on the piano but was adamant that the human voice itself was the best instrument to praise God. I regret that I never asked her why she thought that. But in musing about the sacredness of sound, it occurred to me that the human voice is a unique incarnational instrument.

First, consider the impact of music on the body. In recent studies, neuroscientists have discovered that multiple parts of the brain light up when listening to music. The musicians themselves show even more intense brain activity especially in the areas governing auditory, visual, and motor functions. Though fewer studies have been done on the effects of singing on the brain, they reveal a similar increased activity across multiple areas of the brain.

Outside the brain, singing engages over a hundred muscles around the vocal cords, the larynx, the trachea, and the lungs, creating vibrations fueled by breath, changing pitch by speeding up or slowing down the vibratory frequency, adjusting volume by working the breath through the resonating passages of the throat, mouth, and nose. The listening ears are also involved to sense the quality of the sound and the accuracy of the pitch as it’s produced. And think of how that sound is heard by the singer both externally and internally as it resonates within the singer’s skull.

The vagus nerve, the “wanderer,” is the longest cranial nerve linking the brain to the rest of the body. It connects to the vocal cords, the muscles in the back of the throat, as well as to the diaphragm which works the bellows of the lungs. It’s no surprise that studies suggest singing, humming, and chanting improve the tone of the vagus nerve, helping us to access the “rest and recover” mode when needed. The vagus nerve regulates things below the level of consciousness—another hint as to the sacred power of song, for it engages much more of us than just our conscious mental process.

Thus singing is healing for us as it calls forth a great deal of energy and interaction within the body. But how are we to define its sacred qualities? Songs have the power to open our hearts to a range of deep emotions—intensifying our human experience. And music of any kind creates sounding boards in the environment. Things resonate in kind. I was fascinated by this twin effect, both on the person singing and on the singer’s environment. But I still wondered about the sacredness of song. What happens in the subtle realms when a person sings.

One day while working with the Sidhe cards, I asked to understand how singing evokes the sacred. I found myself creating the stone circle within me, inside my body. I became aware of the Grail that I am, that we each are. I (somewhat impatiently) thought, “Yes, the Grail, but how does this relate to song?” Then I saw the vibratory tones of song resonating within this Grail then flowing out to the world. It seems, in singing, we partake in the circulatory system of the world on both ordinary and subtle levels. I later learned my friend Anne Gambling had synchronistically put into words what I saw in this attunement: singing is “the means to ‘dig the trench’ for liquid light to flow, further wider deeper each time.”

Singing knits our spirits and bodies together in a coherent resonance but doesn’t stop there, as the song moves out of our bodies into the air, sending out waves in increasing circles to engage with everything in the vicinity. I sensed that singing can be an alchemical act, translating the music of the spheres through flesh and blood then flowing out to the surrounding environment.

We may envision our grail selves as containers, holding the Sacred. But David Spangler emphasizes that this is not a passive function. And he chose a musical analogy to explain that the Grail is an active presence, a sacred doing. “Think of it as analogous to a ‘violin self’ a consciousness within you that loves to play the violin … as you practice, you will be able to ‘hold’ and play ever more complex pieces of music. … so we have in the grail a sacramental instrument, one that delivers and shares sacredness in a communion of being.” Perhaps the sacredness of song resides in this process of both holding and sharing.

In David’s Conversations with the Sidhe, his Sidhe colleague Mariel says we carry within us “the memory of the telluric technology of node, connection, and flow, shaped by song and dance and ritual.” Raising our own voices in song activates the flow from node to node, enhancing the harmony and coherence of our world. And the Singing Hare (from The Sidhe Oracle of the Fleeting Hare, by John Matthews and Will Kinghan) exhorts us, “Wake then, listen, hear again the song of life and the song of being amidst the fields of your daily life. Will you join in the sing? … Stand under the dome of heaven if you dare and let the song well up within you, silent or loud.”

DAVID’S DESK #141 - ICE

By David Spangler

David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2019 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters, please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

The daughter of a close friend of mine spent several days in Antarctica filming a program for NOVA, the educational TV show. She shared with her mother, who in turn shared with me, her notes of what she was experiencing. Along with descriptions of her work and of the Antarctic landscape, her most frequent comments were about her need to be attentive. It was drilled into her by her trainers, the men and women who lived there in the science stations she was visiting, that the smallest mistake while out on the ice in temperatures way below freezing could be fatal. She had to cultivate mindful awareness at all times of what she was doing and how she was doing it Her life depended on it.

Reading the account of her experiences upon the ice got me thinking about the role of mindfulness in my own life. Happily, I do not live in Antarctica nor do I live under conditions where a lapse in attention or a small mistake could endanger or kill me. This is likely true for most of us. Yet, attentiveness is still an important quality to cultivate. Mindful awareness can certainly be a positive force in my life and in my relationships with my world.

Mindfulness is a hot topic these days. Schools are offering classes in it. Books about it proliferate. This is all to the good. I am grateful for anything that contributes to us being more aware and present in our lives, especially in this era of ubiquitous screens to divert and capture our attention from the real world around us.

At the same time, I admit to feeling that part of the current discussion about mindfulness comes up short, like teaching a golfer to keep her eye on the ball but never actually teaching her how to swing the club. For me, there’s a follow-through that often seems missing. Mindfulness, to me, is not simply being aware of what is happening in the immediate environment. Knowing where I am and what’s going on around me is only half the picture, though an important half, to be sure. The other half is discerning how to act towards what’s around me in positive ways, ways that bring benefit to whoever or whatever is in the field of my awareness.

To go back to my friend’s daughter, she didn’t have to be told to be aware that she was on the ice. That knowledge was in her face, so to speak. There wasn’t anything else but ice and snow. What she had to be mindful of was what she did on the ice, how she behaved, the actions she took. It was her relationship to the ice around her that was important, not simply the existence of the ice itself.

Similarly for us, the mindfulness of what we are doing in relationship to our environment in the moment is what is important. Yes, we want and need to be aware of what’s in this environment, the people, the creatures, the plants, the land, the human artifacts and technology, and so forth. But these things are always present in one way or another. They are our ice. What matters is how we relate to them. What matters is what we bring forth from within ourselves to add to or interact with whatever is in our environment.

This is important to me because, to use my friend’s daughter’s experience as a metaphor, we really are all surrounded by and walking on ICE: the Inter-Connectedness of Everything. The results of my actions are not necessarily limited in time and space to what takes place in my immediate environment. The kind act I do for a stranger, even something as simple as a smile or friendly greeting, can create ripples into the world that may make an important difference beyond what I can see. Conversely, the thoughtless act, the moment of indifference, negativity, even meanness, can cause the ICE to fracture. This is when we can fall through into a brokenness that affects us as much as it may affect another.

We all stand on a land we create and maintain together. To be aware of this deeper land of interconnectedness is important. But it’s not sufficient. We need also to be aware of what we do on it, how we interact with and affect each other. It is not simply a mindfulness of being present but of how we are being present to others and to the world. It is an awareness of whether our actions are thoughtful or thoughtless, for both have consequences. Our lives may not be at stake as it was for my friend’s daughter in the environment of Antarctica. But our mindfulness can make a difference as to whether we create and live in a world of wholeness or brokenness.

It is mindfulness of living on ICE.

DAVID’S DESK #140 - AWE

David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2019 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters, please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

First and most importantly, may I wish you and yours a most blessed and wonderful New Year. We are upheld throughout the year by the good wishes and kindnesses we give to each other. The world these days is filled with troubling news and images. The support we share is especially important. Goodwill and a kind heart go a long way to empowering each of us and help to heal the ills that may surround us.

New Years is traditionally a time for looking ahead and making wishes for the year to come. In this spirit, I wish for a resurgence of awe, a renewed sense of wonder and delighted astonishment at the world that surrounds us.

The idea of awe is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, awe can inspire fear; it’s why the word “awful” has come to mean something dreadful. On the other hand, awe can also mean something uplifting, filling us with reverence.

As a young man, my father had an ambition to become a medical missionary working in Africa. He was inspired by the example of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a theologian and doctor whose philosophy of “Reverence for Life” earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. Dad’s life took a different turn and he never fulfilled that ambition, but reverence for life was always a guiding principle for him and our family.

As we look out at the world today, it is apparent that we do not revere it as it deserves, nor, in our time of divisiveness and discontent, do we revere each other or ourselves as fully as we could. We lack awe in the face of the miracles around us and within us.

Awe opens our hearts. For many of us, feeling the stresses of modern life, opening up may be the last thing we want to do. Instead, we seek protection, safety, walls, separation into like-minded enclaves where we will not be challenged by what is different. But the paradox is that it is only openness that will save us from the perils that beset us and put us on a path to wholeness.

Such openness is not without discrimination; it is not without wisdom. It is not openness for its own sake but an open heartedness grounded in a recognition of the awesomeness present in each of us and in the whole of life. It is an awesomeness that should be honored, cherished, protected, and nourished in all the places we find it, which, if we bother to look, is just about everywhere and in everyone.

To find the awe in my world, I need to engage this world directly. I need to be present to it in whatever way is available to me. It is one thing to be awe-struck at the beauty and wonder of the earth as presented in television shows such as Planet Earth, but in a way, this is second-hand awe. Seeing the Grand Canyon in a picture or on a screen can fill me with its beauty and awesomeness, but what I need is to stand in my backyard and feel the same thing. It’s a mutt of a backyard, messy around the edges, parts of it surrendered to the plants we call “weeds,” an unpretentious, friendly, comfortable place belonging as much to the crows and local rabbits as to us. Tourists do not flock to stand on our back porch and ooh and aw as they do for the Grand Canyon (for which, by the way, I am grateful!); in an ordinary sense, there is nothing at all awesome about it.

But appearances are deceptive, for it and all the ordinary backyards—and front yards, too—of our neighborhood are filled with life. They are all small ecosystems in which the same processes that give me life and make this a living world are at work. If I think about it and step out of my human expectations and ideas to feel the life around me, then my backyard truly does become an awesome place.

What is vital here, though, is that this is an awesomeness that includes me. I am not simply an observer. I am a participant in the wonder, for I, too, am a living being, a member of the community of life. The heart-opening awe I feel brings with it inclusiveness.

It’s not just something stimulating to my mind or my emotions, such as seeing the Grand Canyon or some other natural wonder on television. It is an awe in which my body participates, an awe that connects me to the world around me in a physical, felt-sense way. A screen doesn’t do this. A photograph doesn’t do this. It needs us to be present in an embodied way.

The paradox is that for this awe to fill my being and sweep me up into its embrace, I have to let go of ideas like “awe,” “special,” “ordinary,” “familiar,” “wonderment,” and just be present to the connectedness my body—indeed, my whole being—feels. Awe is a portal, not a destination. It opens us to being part of the wholeness of the world and thus whole ourselves, filled with reverence for the earth, for life, for ourselves, and for each other, and for all that we can co-create in partnership.

It is this partnership, this reverence, this love, this awe that our world needs—that we need. The true wonder is that it is all around us in the seeming ordinariness of our world and our daily lives. It is we who drive awe away by assigning it only to special times and places. It is we who can invite it back again, in the processes discovering insights through which we may revision, reclaim, and recreate the wholeness of ourselves and our world. This is a calling worthy of a New Year’s Resolution! May 2019 be the Year of Awe!

In this spirit, may awe fill your life this year…and all the years to come.

DAVID’S DESK #139 - THE LIGHT IS HERE

By David Spangler

David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2018 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters, please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

The story goes that our ancestors experienced the shortening of the days as summer gave way to autumn and autumn to winter. As the length of the night increased, it seemed as if darkness was overcoming the light, and without light, life itself was threatened. But then when the day was shortest, something happened. The light began to come back as the earth moved in its orbit from winter to spring and onto summer. That moment when the light began to return became a time of celebration.

Many of the holidays we celebrate this time of year have their roots in the celebration of Light and the falling away of darkness as the Light returns. We rejoice in the restoration of hope and the unfolding of life once thought diminishing into the shadows of death. Where Light is concerned, however, the cyclic rhythms of the earth with its seasons can be misleading. Light does not go away or come back. It is always here.

Where I live in a valley near Seattle, Washington, we sometimes get dense morning fog. It can be so thick that I cannot see my neighbor’s house across the street from me. All is shrouded. Yet, if I drive out of our valley, I emerge into the sunlight. I know the sun is there, and I know that as the day progresses, its warmth and light will burn the fog away.

In spite of fog, the sun is always there with its light.

In spite of the fog of human brokenness and violence enshrouding the world, the Light is always there as well.

What is important—and what we can celebrate this season—is that we are that Light. We are the sun whose radiance can burn away the fog. All it takes is for us to choose to be that sun, to be that Light, and to act from that choice.

This sounds simple. We know it is not. Doubts, fears, angers, prejudices, hatreds, or just plain fatigue and apathy can lead us to not making that choice. The Light is in all of us, but it can be dimmed. If this were not true, we would all be living in a very different world, one in which nature is honored and partnered with care and love, one in which the stranger is simply a friend we have yet to meet, one in which each individual represents a potential for discovery and growth, one in which community and collaboration, as well as the honoring of each person’s uniqueness, are the hallmarks of life.

We want such a world. We pray for such a world. In this season, we celebrate in our various traditions the Light that fuels our hope for such a world.

What we forget is that we are that Light. When we choose kindness over indifference and hostility, love over hate, calm over agitation, courage over fear, forgiveness over revenge, collaboration over competition, then we are enacting our own personal Winter Solstice. Each time we make this choice, however hard in the moment it is to do so, we are performing Light’s Return. Each time we recognize that this choice can be made and we do so, we are affirming that we are the sun that burns away the fog.

The Light is always here.

We are the Light.

Time’s Twofold Lens: Part 3 of 3

Essay and Sketch By Mary Reddy

In a way that is difficult to describe, that poets come near to naming, we are intricately connected to everything and everyone else. Yet living in time can make us feel separate from all that is happening. Because it intensifies our moment-to-moment experiences, time brings with it the prospect of loss. And loss feels like the opposite of connection. I remember when I was young, I anticipated loss in every good experience.

It is Easter morning. I sit on the front porch steps next to one of my brothers. I am four years old, still dressed in my Sunday best—a striped seersucker dress and jacket that my mother sewed for me. My brother has already changed into a t-shirt and dungarees. On his head, sits a battered cowboy hat. We each clutch our Easter baskets on our laps and squint into the sun where our mother holds the camera.

An ordinary moment in a little girl’s life, but one I never forgot. Its emotional energy carried an extraordinary weight for me. You see, my brother was vigorously chewing on a piece of candy. And suddenly I was awash in a kind of grief for him. This intense pleasure he took would soon be over. He’d swallow the sweet wad—and then what? I worried for his inevitable loss. As young as I was, I’d learned to distance myself from loss and pain by refusing to fully experience pleasure. And I wondered why my brother did not do the same.

What is it about our human sense of time that lets us live in a moment yet simultaneously pull away from it? A subtle colleague of David’s had this to say:

"Time separates you from experience and places it outside yourself, allowing you to see it as simultaneously objective and subjective. That is, something occurs 'in time" and you have a subjective, internal response to it. For us, it is different. All experience is subjective; things happen to us within us, though our interiority is not exactly the same as your subjective world. Objective and subjective for us are two sides of a single reality, two faces of the same thing. We do not experience events in time but events in consciousness. The experience of time for you separates these two things, giving you the perception that you are separate from the event. This allows you to look at it and relate to it differently than you would if you experienced as we do. As my friend said, you are gifted with a different lens through which to view life and thus learn from new perspectives. That lens is time.”

So we split our experience of events in time. We feel (subjectively) what is going on around us (the objective reality). Before I began to heal, I used this ability to shift from subjective to objective in order to dissociate. Subjectively I lived in fantasies and the dream world. Objectively, I became an impervious survivor. I only had sovereignty in my interior world. My only power in the objective world was to endure, to survive whatever came at me.

Another subtle colleague, the one who spoke in my previous blog of the intensity created by our human sense of time also talked about what happens if we can’t process terribly intense moments:

“You can, of course, become lost in the intensity and the details that your form of time offers, and time can become "stuck" in you in ways it does not in us. This is partly through memory in which the past stays with you but not in an alive way, as if bits of food have become stuck in your digestive system and stagnate without becoming assimilated and integrated.”

Our less-than-conscious grappling with intensity casts a shadow. Maybe this shadow side of time is essential to the “new perspectives” we incarnate humans develop as we come to grips with trauma—something so many of us have experienced. Getting lost in the intensity aptly describes the results of trauma: something horrible happened in the past and we got stuck. In order to heal, we need to somehow unstick and integrate intense emotions that we were originally unable to bear.

The accumulation of trauma in my early life taught me to distance myself from the emotional impact of any event. Years later, when I began to experience the full force of another difficult experience, I would be overwhelmed by all the unfelt emotions of so many difficult times in my life. Years of trying to avoid the full impact of any present moment distorted my sense of time. In a scary way, all the bad moments seemed to be always present. Therefore I chose not to be present.

Imagine so many difficult moments stuck and unassimilated, accumulating into a blanket that muffled me away from life. Being fully present became possible for me slowly as, with the assistance of others, I processed old bad moments. Healing, as I experienced it, became a dance between the objective and the subjective. A kind of time travel too, where I’d “return” to a painful moment subjectively to feel the emotions in a way that allowed me to assimilate them. But if pain threatened to overwhelm me I could grab on to the objective experience of where I was now, safely in a later time.

This twofold view must be a part of the magic we can create if we consciously engage with time and events. And one gift of our time-embedded lens is the vision and empathy afforded us when we heal, when we integrate our difficult experiences. Another might be the necessity of healing in partnership with the body which stores each stuck moment. Rewriting the body’s blueprint from one of trauma to one of safety and joy taught me how to collaborate with the entities of the physical world, how to respect the separate yet connected experiences of all the beings involved.

As I live now, I try to place myself fully in each moment while retaining a compassionate awareness of its place in the timeline of my life. Now I am in time by choice, not trying to float above it. And that choice illuminates my links to everything and everyone else.

Time Magicians: Part 1 of this essay can be found here. Time Presence: Part 2 can be found here.

Seven Blessings For Your World

Essay by Freya Secrest, "Moment of Gratitude" Touch Drawing by Deborah Koff-Chapin

The blessings that we offer the world are not always obvious to us. They can feel so simple and natural that we do not recognize the impact they have. In this season of giving thanks, we invite you to recognize the daily ways you naturally offer your gifts of love and light in the world - thereby enhancing the interconnectedness of all living beings.

The Blessing of Your Attention - "I see you" is a powerful gift of perception that we offer in the world. To focus upon another creates a connection that can empower, uplift and strengthen both the object of your attention and yourself.

The Blessing of Your Respect - Listening or attending deeply to another usually brings us to honor their uniqueness. In our differences we may not always agree, but we can respect other's individuality as well as our own in appropriate, kindhearted ways. Honoring those around us helps to grow the blessing of healthy, nourishing relationships.

The Blessing of Your Appreciation - Appreciation recognizes the part another plays in our interconnected universe. It recognizes someone or something for their qualities and the connections they make in the world. Appreciation shapes a space where differences can work together to co-create blessing.

The Blessing of Your Engagement - When we participate in life, we more naturally invest in and care about those around us, including our homes, our communities and the natural world. We bring our willingness to make positive change into service. We shape intention into action. Committing ourselves to engage, we weave the blessing of shared presence.

The Blessing of Your Trust - Trust emerges out of an honest assessment of our own unique strengths and weaknesses and a recognition and acceptance of those same qualities in others. We offer our real selves and we create the opportunity for others to offer themselves. Trust is a blessing that opens a space for new possibilities to emerge.

The Blessing of Your Joy - Joy touches our world with the gifts of life and vitality. When we are joyful we resonate with the basic song of creation and naturally amplify that life energy to everything about us. Our joy extends the blessing of Beingness itself.

The Blessing of Your Love
- Our daily lives are the field we have in which to discover the essential energies of love. Those energies run wide and deep, smoothing the surface and nourishing the depths of life. We refresh this blessing of love moment by moment as we explore our individual connections within our world.

This holiday season we want you to know how grateful we are for you. We recognize and honor the many ways you reach out to bless and touch our world. Thank you for your participation in Lorian's work and service! Happy Thanksgiving!

Time Presence: Part 2 of 3

Art and Essay by Mary Reddy

A memoir takes a lens to selected moments in a life. More forgiving than an autobiography, memoir acknowledges the possibility of shapeshifting memories. But in either format, the leading player is time. Several of my more vivid childhood memories touch on the concept of time. Let me take you back to when I was seven.

Summer blows through the classroom windows. Six broad wood-framed windows, half-open, allow the breeze to clean our desks and play with our hair. We sit in slightly less orderly fashion than usual, wriggling under the call of freedom and the outdoors. The nun chalks the last few words on the blackboard and for the last time passes back the little booklets with our corrected exercises. It is the final day of second grade, the day before summer break. I will never be in second grade again.

I am suddenly conscious, through the medium of the balmy weather, of moving outside time. I feel myself pulled into a vaster self, looking at time as though I were outside or above it. From that perspective, my state as a seven-year old feels like an important brush stroke in a larger canvas or a fragment of colored glass essential to the makeup of a beautiful stained-glass window. My adult future sends warmth back to me. How wonderful to feel affection and support from my own future self! When I inevitably and all too soon lose that expansive consciousness, I find myself treasuring the present bright afternoon and feeling a swell of relief that the tortures of second grade will soon be history. And some curiosity lingers about the adult I will grow into.

Why are moments like these rare? I’ve always felt that it stems from the necessity of immersion. We need to feel the emotions, the responsibility, the capacity to choose and in that way alter the course of our future. One of my favorite songwriters, Jason Isbell, said it this way when asked about a song he’d written called “If Were We Vampires.” He spoke of re-examining his notions about mortality. “I realized that to write a love song, you have to write a death song. Love doesn’t mean as much without death. If I agree to marry someone, that’s a big risk, because I only have one life. … I’m giving her the most valuable thing I have: my time.”

The consequences of our decisions occur in time. We manifest our wishes in time. We long for love and peace. And in the imagining of what that love might feel like, we create a vector toward the future. All this while navigating enormous numbers of small moments, thousands of interactions with others, millions of intakes and outflows of breath. This time-bounded state seems to be intimately connected to being in bodies. Our hearts hold us in time, keeping time with each beat. Our bodies place us in a ‘where’ as well as a ‘when.’ Whenever I have felt pulled out into an expansive timeless state, it began when I was fully in my body and fully in the present moment, with the breeze lifting my hair, in the stillness of a starry night, or feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin.

So incarnation, embodiment, and time are intricately woven together. In pondering our relationship to time, I began to see us humans as time magicians. If only because that phrase implies the immense creative power we wield in living each moment. Another favorite songwriter of mine, Joanna Newsom, in “Time as a Symptom,” sings “But stand brave, life liver, bleeding out your days in the river of time, stand brave. Time moves both ways.” We are brave, to take on this life! And each moment that we wield our sword or our magic staff—whether gently, in happiness or in sorrow, whether fiercely, in anger or grief—we magically amend the past and alter the future.

-

One of David Spangler’s subtle colleagues confirmed that time is a powerful incarnational tool, kindly sharing these thoughts:

“Time is a gift given to those in incarnation. It is a mode of perception that allows for an intensification of experience and fine management of outcomes. I don't know exactly how to explain the difference to you between time as I know it and as you experience it, but in a way, it's as if it allows you to enter into the wholeness of an experience and perceive its innards, so to speak. The experience of time is much slower for you than it is for us as it is broken down into moments in ways we do not experience. If events were food, it's as if we absorb it directly and immediately whereas you have to cut it up and chew it into small bits and then digest it before it becomes part of you. We are both nourished by the food in our own ways, but you experience it differently and in greater intensity.”

As incarnate humans, we are invited into the wholeness of each moment, whether its meaning is mundane, exalting, challenging, or traumatic. Incarnational spirituality properly emphasizes our presence here on earth, encompassing relationships within ourselves—with our personality and our own soul—and outwardly with the human community and the earth of which we are part. Imagine adding the element of time to this conscious affirmation of our place in the world. Being present can mean simply being here, not elsewhere. But being present in the moment adds the quality of knowing where we are in time. These two awarenesses are inseparable. If we detach from the present moment, especially if it is to flee the full experience of something painful, how can we claim our presence? We are no longer here.

These musings on time can get convoluted. Because, of course, in some present moments we must be considering future plans. Stepping into and out of the flow of moments may be part of that very human “fine management of outcomes’ that David’s colleague described. This is the magic we wield: being fully our presence in the present. This moment is your life.

Time Magicians: Part 1 of this essay can be found here.

Walking With Giants: Experiences From the Co-Creative Spirituality Conference

By Freya Secrest

Over 200 people participated in our recent conference, Co-Creative Spirituality: Shaping Our Future with the Unseen Worlds, co-sponsored with the Findhorn Foundation. There were an additional 50 people who joined us through online streaming. It was rich and energetic event.

Each morning during the conference, we took time to stand in our own “inner light” and invite our colleagues of the subtle, unseen realms to join us in the day’s exploration. I found I had a clear sense of these unseen attendees which heightened as the conference unfolded. It was not a visual or auditory experience, but I noticed them through a lightening of spirit, an increasing sense of joy and a more expansive awareness.

The conference was structured as a journey into different realms of our Gaian field, to allow each participant to shape more of a felt experience of our subtle partners. Morning plenary sessions introduced different territories - the Sidhe world, the nature kingdoms, and our human constructed worlds being the main "continents" one could "visit". Then the afternoon workshops, or passport sessions,allowed participants to further explore a particular area of interest to them. Individuals could work in the garden, try out a new approach to connecting with the angelic or devic realms of nature. or explore portals of sound and music to shape a connection to the Sidhe realms. Or they could journey to learn more about communicating with animal and other shamanic realms or discover ways to understand our connection to the techno-elemental world. The possibilities were wide and rich.

One of my experiences with our unseen planetary colleagues occurred during a presentation by Vance Martin, President of the Wild Foundation, and Timothy Hass, Lorian Teacher who partners with Vance to integrate work with the subtle realms and on-the-ground environmental activism. They shared a short video on elephants done by Ian McCallum and First Light Films. It brought the essence of elephant so strongly into the Universal Hall. It was not a documentary, it was an ‘a-tune-amentary’, connecting us with the world of elephant and allowing us to share in a felt experience of their connection with the world. The script was this poem by Ian McCallum:


Elephants *

To walk in the wake of elephants,
To be small in a world of giants,
To learn the spore of silence and the deep, rumbling eloquence of kin.
To move in the skin of elephants.
To feel the alliance of sand, the contours of land and the far-reaching pull of water,
To be alive to the sway of elephants
To remember the songs of seasons, ancient lines of migrations and loosen your reasons for fences.
To wake up the web of intelligence, to the wild origins of sentience.
To find your voice and raise it, that others may raise theirs for elephants.


Between the rhythm of the poem and the rhythm of the elephants, I was brought closer to the world of elephant and they were brought closer (energetically and subtly) into ours. The room was quiet for a moment. I felt we were all touched by our exchange of energy and spirit with this Gaian neighbor. To me this exchange of love is so much the heart of any subtle encounter, any co-created experience. Wonderful too that technology could help to co-create such a deep meeting!

Another specific moment of flow between unseen and physical worlds happened for me when Kurikindi, an Ecuadorian shaman, led our closing blessing. He used only a rattle made of leaves and gentle vocal sounds and whistles. I had a sense we were joined by many beings of the rainforest in blessing our gathering’s co-creative intent. I learned after that a number of people had a similar sense of specific beings who came present. What felt important to me was that we all together built a field that gave space for a collective offering to the planet.

In the midst of the expected intermingling and networking amongst attendees throughout the conference, there was an underlying spirit of fellowship and well-being. As the days unfolded, an increasing sense of joy blossomed in the overall field of activity in the conference. The energies of hope, appreciation and connectedness were anchored through the directed attention and intention of a whole conference of people in concert with beings of nature and other life. Our pathways of connectedness were heightened with the support of our unseen colleagues. I noticed it in myself and heard others speak to the same experience. We were all more available to each other as planetary co-creators.

I left the Co-Creative Spirituality Conference feeling strongly that a more active practice of honoring and appreciating the life within Unseen Realms will allow our collective planetary wholeness to shine forth. We are connected. Each morning began with the invitation for each of us to “stand on our own inner land”. Bringing those lands together throughout the day in our awareness and attention, even for that short time, multiplied creative energy on all sides. Now back at home, those creative connections continue to weave into my life activity as I notice and harmonize with the rhythms of life around me and attend to and appreciate the uniqueness and tempo of my own note in the world’s song.

*
Click here to watch "In the Tracks of Giants." Also, if you're interested in viewing recordings from the Co-Creative Spirituality Conference, Findhorn Foundation is currently offering the livestream package at half-price. Click here for more details.

DAVID'S DESK #138 - ZOMBIES

David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2018 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters, please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

I want to write about zombies. Why zombies, of all things? A couple of reasons. First, I thought you might like to read about something different from all the social and political upheaval and conflict going on this month here in the United States. And second, I’d like to celebrate Halloween, one of my favorite times of the year. In an election season that seems filled with nothing but tricks, it’s nice to think of giving away treats!

I realize that Halloween is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I have always loved the spookiness of it, the dressing up in costumes, the groups of children trick or treating, the decorations that can turn an ordinary house into a borderland between the realm of the living and the subtle regions beyond the physical world.

Since our children have grown up and gone on to homes of their own, we don’t decorate as lavishly as we used to. A few ghosts and skeletons strategically placed in windows here and there, and that’s about it. Nothing as elaborate as the zombies I once had clawing their way out of graves we’d created on our front lawn.

Ah, zombies. They’re very popular these days. “Zombie apocalypse” has become part of our cultural lexicon. The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on television. One can make, and many have, all kinds of analyses about what this means in our collective psychology and the metaphorical significance of the surge in zombie-ness as it relates to popular sensibilities. Simon Pegg, the British actor, has produced a classic zombie satire, Shawn of the Dead. In one brilliant scene in the movie, you see dozens of commuters going mindlessly to their jobs, and in the next scene, the zombie apocalypse having struck overnight, you see dozens of zombies moving mindlessly about—and there’s no difference between the two groups! The same blank stares, the same aimless motions, the same lack of vitality and life characterize both.

Modern zombies, though, are not the same as the ones I encountered in classic ghost stories when I was growing up. In those stories, part of the horror lay in the fact that you didn’t know what was animating the dead. What mysterious force brought corpses back to life? It was supernatural, through and through. Further, zombies didn’t arise in mindless hordes, seeking human brains as a late-night snack. The zombies I read about were solitary for the most part and, like a heat-seeking missile, were aimed at a specific person or group. They rose for retribution or to right a wrong. They were payback for someone who had violated justice in the universe. They were instruments of karma, rebalancing something that had gone out of whack due to someone’s actions. The laws of life and death were overturned because someone had done something to overturn the moral laws governing creation. (A classic, and wonderfully understated, example of this is "The Monkey’s Paw", a short story by W.W. Jacobs, first published in 1902.)

Modern zombies, though, are a disease. A supernatural or moral reason for the dead to rise doesn’t fit well into modern sensibilities. We want a rational cause, a technological explanation. We’ve banished the supernatural as a cause for fear and substituted science and technology in its place. Therefore, the zombie apocalypse is a pandemic.

It used to be the zombie was a force of nature, left unexplained. When a child on Halloween dressed up as a zombie, he or she became a supernatural creature. Now, they’re just a plague victim. The modern zombie is someone infected with a virus. Further, unlike the classic zombie who returns to the grave once justice has been meted out, the modern zombie can be cured or at least stopped, if only the right antiviral medicine can be discovered. The misuse of science visits horror upon us, but the right use of science can restore order and normalcy. All very rational.

This makes zombies a medical phenomenon, strange and horrible, yes, but ultimately explainable. Science and technology may have gone wrong, but they are familiar, part of the world we know. The modern zombie is frightening and dangerous; it can kill you. But so can cancer, or ebola, or the flu. It’s a danger that can be met and understood and potentially overcome with the right knowledge. We may be threatened but our worldview is not. The classic zombie, however, was a force of mystery from another world altogether, one beyond reason and science. This made it far more unsettling, for it demanded a revision of our worldview. It proclaimed the existence of the irrational and the unexplainable. Society doesn’t think in these terms much anymore, which is why our modern zombies are, well, pedestrian and ordinary, products of moral relativism even while being decaying and horrific.

I’m writing in generalities here, and I’m hardly an expert on zombie literature and films. But these are my impressions. I bring them up not simply because I’m getting into a Halloween spirit, but because I think this shift tells us something important.

The zombies I read about growing up were agents of a living universe. They could exist because in some manner the world itself was magical and alive in ways humans didn’t fully understand. The modern zombie, though, truly is the walking dead because we see the world itself as dead: unliving matter to be used however we see fit and never mind the consequences. Now, with climate change and other environmental challenges, we see this “dead” world rising up to confront us.

Our image of apocalypse, whether caused by zombies or something else, is one of destruction and collapse. The familiar world is torn down, and yet, fundamentally, it remains the familiar world, though with a new element—the walking dead—within it. These zombies are a disease, and we can think of them in those terms.

But the word “apocalypse” originally meant “revelation,” the gaining of new knowledge that changed how we thought and saw the world. An old order based on different conceptions might come to an end as a result of this new knowledge but not necessarily in destructive ways.

We face challenges in the world—poverty, corruption, a dehumanizing greed, terrorism, disease, climate change, to name a few—that are more horrible than anything that will knock on my door today and yell “Trick or Treat!” Meeting these challenges calls for a true apocalypse in the form of new ideas, new vision, new knowledge, a different way of understanding ourselves and our role in the context of a living world. This would be less a “zombie apocalypse” than an “awakening to life” apocalypse, as the argument could be made that we are the zombies now, shuffling towards the end of a civilization and eating our own brains as we go.

Time Magicians: Part 1 of 3

Image and Essay by Mary Reddy

Lately I have been pondering time. I’m old enough to look back on decades of experience. And I long to distill the essence of certain moments in my history as an offering to my children. So I am writing a memoir. The way women once constructed quilts out of patches of old worn garments, I am snatching time here and there to describe memories that are lodged in my heart. Someday, I hope to string these moments together, like a rosary of beads tracing the story of my life.

In one of my life fragments, I am five or six years old, squatting on the edge of a suburban Texas curb, my arms wrapped around my legs. The land and houses and concrete stretch out around me like flat bread baking in the Texas sun. I see brown grass or unplanted dirt yards, newly built ranch houses, newly planted young trees—not another person in sight. And above it all an endless blue sky—not a cloud in sight.

Maybe it was the sensation of all that space, hot and still. I don’t know but suddenly I was simultaneously aware of my own legs, the curb, the street, the heat of the day—but also of a vaster self inhabiting a very different space/time. The sensation was powerful, there and then gone again. I had just experienced “more” of me, beyond the little girl I was, beyond the hot summer morning slowly drifting toward midday. I remember staring up toward the endless blue and wondered where was I before I was here right now?

We humans live in time but how much do we know about time, really? The sun and moon count out the rhythm of our days and nights and their positions around our earth dance us through the seasons. Because we live with intimate awareness of the ticking of the clock, can talk about our plans for the coming week, and can name where we were the moment we heard about the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers, we proceed as though we understand time. We don’t waste time wondering about it. What we did yesterday is written in stone, what we’ll do tomorrow is a guess—though perhaps a well-informed one. If we wonder about time, it may only be to wonder how much we have left. Is there more sand in the bottom of our hourglass than at the top?

Over the centuries, scientists and philosophers have examined time more intently than those of us just trying to keep our schedules straight. To put it simply, Aristotle proposed that time does not exist independently of events. If nothing happens, there is no time; time is change. Isaac Newton, on the other hand, described an absolute time which ticks away in a void even in the absence of any event. Is time really that definite, irreversible, and inescapable? Albert Einstein cracked open the established wisdom by describing the relative subjectivity of time. Our clocks appear to tick at different speeds in different places.

Mystics know time differently. Shamans enter altered states where they travel into the past, forward to the future, or into worlds where our time does not apply. The plasticity of time has been a common thread over the centuries—for example, in stories of human-faery encounters, where a person’s hour-long visit to the land of the faery might actually take years in human time. And in dreams, in mystic reveries, or sitting on a curb in a Texas suburb, we can feel as though we’ve left time behind to enter other realms.

A theoretical physicist, Carlo Rovelli, has been studying how to join a quantum-physics view of time with Einstein’s relativity. In his book, The Order of Time, he suggests that there are no things, only events. Ephrat Livni reviewed the book and put it this way, “Even what might seem like a thing—a stone, say—is really an event taking place at a rate we can’t register. The stone is in a continual state of transformation, and on a long enough timeline, even it is fleeting, destined to take on some other form.”

Rovelli believes the more you widen your scope to look at the universe, the less relevant your human sense of time becomes. As I understand it, the more micro you go, down to the levels of unseeable particles, the less you can measure time. The same seems to be true of the macro. In Rovelli’s eyes, the time we all agree on and experience daily is a human construct.

In my eyes, rather than a limit to struggle against, time is an instrument we can play with creatively. Maybe time is one of our magic powers. In this moment—now—our identity, sovereignty, and presence engage in relationship with the rest of the world. How we interact with each moment of our lives constitutes how we wield that human tool of time.

I picture it like this: I am a time magician. I funnel my lived time through this small cylinder or tube which is the present moment. I hold that small cylinder in my hand. A great flood of all potential past events must narrow itself enough to fit through my cylinder. Coming out the opposite end, the narrow stream of the present moment expands vigorously into a flood of all potential future events. As I move this cylinder high or low, here or there, I alter not only the direction of the flood coming out in front of me (the future) but I alter the direction of that coming in from behind (the past). The slightest shift in my conscious engagement with the present moment can magically alter the flow of what comes next.

This excites me—every ‘now’ that I encounter carries the promise of change. Will I move the cylinder in the direction of great delight and wonder? Or is it a moment where I must hold it steady to channel grief over an acknowledged loss? Where can I direct the flow? How much love can I tap into Now as I channel the flow?

I reached out to David Spangler to see if he had a unique IS perspective on time. Several of his subtle colleagues came forward with comments about how we experience time in a uniquely human way. I will share their comments in future blogs. In the meantime, I’m eager to hear your time stories and/or your emotions about time, dear readers.

If You Love Your Car, Your Car Will Love You

By David Spangler

Editor's Note: The following blog post is an excerpt from David's new book, Techno-Elementals.

When I was eighteen, my father bought me my first car so that I could drive back and forth from college. It was a four-year old, 1959 Chevy Impala that had belonged to my cousin. It was at the time one of the most popular cars in America, possessing a distinctive sleek look with tailfins that flared horizontally outward rather than upward. It had been a reluctant purchase, though.

My Dad was a protective father, and the idea of me behind the wheel out in traffic where anything might happen gave him nightmares. It wasn’t that he doubted my driving skills. It was all the other “damn fools on the highway” that gave him pause. Having lived through my two sons and two daughters becoming drivers, I can now understand the worries that can grip a father’s heart when his children first begin to navigate the highways, but at the time, his fears both amused and frustrated me.

Where Dad was concerned, my car had two strikes against it. The first was that it was my car, and I was driving it rather than being safe on a bus or with him behind the wheel. The second was that it wasn’t a Volkswagen Beetle. Dad had only owned Beetles since we returned from Morocco in 1957, and he thought this unique-looking German car was about the best in the world. However, Dad had gotten a very good deal on the Impala from my cousin who had practically given it to us as a favor to me; financially, he’d been unable to pass it up.

I loved my car. Frankly, at that point in my life, I would have loved any car that I could call my own, but the Impala with its impressive tailfins was, I felt, just about the coolest car on the road. It was my spaceship!

My Dad, though, disliked it thoroughly and saw it as a necessary evil. This led to an interesting turn of events. When I drove the car by myself, everything worked perfectly. I never had any trouble with it. That car and I had a love affair going, and the purr of its engine as I drove along the highway was like angels singing.

However, whenever my Dad got in the car with me, or, more rarely, attempted to drive it, something always went wrong. It was always a little thing, some rattling here or some knocking there; maybe a window didn’t work right, or the car would momentarily stall when he tried to start it up. It was never enough to put it in a garage, but it was something annoying. Dad concluded that the car was a piece of junk, which only increased his worrying when I drove it.

I was intrigued by this phenomenon and laughingly told Dad that the car didn’t like him because he was hurting its feelings. It was a joke, but the more it happened, the more convinced I became that something like that was going on. So, I investigated.

I have always been able to perceive beyond the range of the five senses into what I call the “subtle” dimensions of the world. Here I find a non-physical ecosystem every bit as diverse and rich as the one we see in the physical world around us. Further, this subtle ecosystem overlaps and integrates in a variety of ways with our material universe. Objects that appear inert and non-living to us with our physical senses may be filled with life in the subtle realm. The experience of the universe as fully and totally alive was well-known to our ancestors; it’s only within the past three hundred years or so, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, that our Western society has forgotten this in its exclusive focus upon material reality.

I think of this subtle world with all its diversity and interconnectedness as Earth’s “second ecology.” It’s deeply woven into and interdependent with the physical ecology with which we are familiar. We ignore this “second ecology” to our detriment, especially at a time when we need to find ways to reestablish and reaffirm our wholeness with our planet. To think and speak of the subtle realms merely as fantasy or folklore, as the supernatural or mystical, is to misunderstand its nature and to blind ourselves to the richness and gifts of life which it offers.

When I looked into the subtle energy fields around my car, I did find a being that had integrated itself into those fields. My car had become a link for it with the physical world and even more importantly, with the human world. At the time, I did not have enough experience to understand what this meant or why it might be important. I simply knew that there was a consciousness surrounding and permeating my car that responded in one way to my love and appreciation for it and another way to my Dad’s dislike. For me, it worked perfectly. For my Dad, it created problems. Not so different from how people react!

This was my introduction to the species of subtle beings I have come to call “techno-elementals.” These are subtle beings that align themselves with human technology and artifacts. Fifty years later, I decided to write about them.

DAVID'S DESK #137 - EM-POWER

There is a power that each of us has which can make possible a positive and abundant future for all of us and for the world as a whole. There’s nothing magical or esoteric about it. It is available to us every day, and many people do make a point of using it. But it can be overlooked because it operates on a different scale and in a different way from how we usually think about power.

I think most of us would understand power as the ability to accomplish something, a force to make something happen or to get something done. This might be muscular power to physically implement one’s will, or intellectual power to persuade and compel. It might be the power that wealth brings or political or social status. It might be power granted by an organization such as the government or the military.

Whatever its source, power is seen as a capacity to impose, to compel someone or something else to do what I want. Power becomes a commodity that is not equally shared in a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers. Some people have it and some people don’t, and in most human societies, the latter are far more numerous than the former, which, of course, leads to abuses and imbalances in human relationships.

Because of the consequences that can follow when one is on the receiving end of power in the service of dominance, we seek after it so that we won’t be subject to those consequences. This quest for power can itself become fraught with destructive and hurtful results. We can descend into a social-Darwinian mindset in which only the most powerful can survive, much less prosper. We favor competition over cooperation.

The power to impose is inherently insecure because the foundation on which that power rests can change or disappear. As a commodity, power can be won or lost. I can amass a fortune and then lose it. I can be elected to a political office and then be defeated in the next election. I can work out in a gym and develop a powerful physique and lose it to an accident or illness. I can occupy a favored demographic position and then lose it to changing population dynamics or social norms.

The power that I’m referring to, though, is different. For one thing, it can never be lost; we always possess it. We may choose not to use it, but we cannot lose it. For another, we all possess it equally. Some do not have more of it while others have less. It is not based on wealth, social status, organizational membership, race, religion, gender, or any of the many other means by which we usually measure the presence of power. It is not a commodity, and its use is not part of a zero-sum game. It does not produce winners and losers, only winners.

Broadly speaking, this is our power to choose how we relate and connect to others. The results of such choices always affect someone else or the world around us. The scale of the effect may seem small, but it is never inconsequential; in fact, the consequences can ripple out widely, often beyond our ability to foresee or to know.

We are constantly affecting each other through our thoughts and feelings and the behavior towards one another that they inspire. I don’t have to have a dollar in my pocket to give you a compliment that may brighten your day, for instance. I don’t have to have any special social status to treat you with kindness.

While a competitive society bids us struggle to be “in power,” a holistic society that can bring wholeness and healing into the world bids us to develop the skill to “empower.” This means using the power of my presence to enhance your experience of the power of your own presence.

I like the word “empower” to describe this capacity we all have to engage with one another in mutually supportive and beneficial ways, ways that make each of us a winner. However, when we think of being empowering, I would like us to think of it as more than just giving something—our own power, perhaps—to someone else or of doing something beneficial for them. These things can certainly be helpful, but there’s a deeper potential at work here.

To describe this deeper power we each have, let me introduce a hyphen to “empower” and turn it into “em-power.” This could be seen as short for “emergent power.” This is the power—the capacities—that emerge when two or more people connect through mutual respect, sharing, and cooperation. This power doesn’t belong to anyone but arises within everyone. It is the power of synergy, a power of wholeness. It draws out the best in all who participate.

This is not an abstraction by any means. Anyone who has been part of a successful team knows what this is like. Being part of a group whose members mindfully and deliberately work to support each other and draw out the best in each other is a joyful and profoundly empowering experience. Now imagine if the team was humanity itself, all of us learning to both stand in our individual sovereignty and power and be empowering with each other, allowing a power of wholeness to emerge from our connectedness.

The ability to em-power is always part of us. We exercise it when we choose to honor another and deal with him or her respectfully and with a desire to discover the power we can unfold through our cooperation and kindness. We lose it when we seek to dominate, to go from being empowering to being in power.

The shift from struggling for power as a commodity to enjoying and nourishing emergent power in which everyone is benefitted is the shift that I feel humanity is struggling with at this time in our history. Empowerment—or em-powerment—goes beyond how we relate to each other and defines how we relate to and empower our world. It is what I call a holopoietic power, the power to create wholeness. Nothing, it seems to me, is more needed on our planet today. The important thing—the hopeful thing—is that we don’t have to seek for this power; it is not available only to a few. It is always present in the heart of each of us.

David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole.

Lessons in Mirror May Be Closer Than They Appear

Last week I nearly lost my car — and in the midst of discomfort recovered some valuable lessons in being human.

On Tuesday evening, thieves broke into my 2006 Subaru. I awoke to a broken hood, disabled alarm and the car’s ignition switch dangling from the steering column. All things considered, I’m lucky I woke up to any car at all! Ironically, at the beginning of this month I moved from an apartment complex in a deteriorating part of my community to a private garden level on the other side of town.

On the surface the situation unfolds as one might expect: expensive repairs and unexpected delays, not to mention the need to purchase an immobilizer to ward off future theft attempts (apparently older model Subarus are blue light specials to thieves because they deliver high value in the stolen car market and are relatively easy to steal).

No one appreciates a violation of their personal space, and I’m certainly no exception — but at the same time, as a person who looks upon the world with spiritual eyes, I cannot help asking the question, “What might I learn from this situation?”.

I tend to approach all difficulties, especially unexpected life occurrences, as opportunities for reflection. Having said that, this situation in particular has not been easy. For one thing, it’s been a long year. Seems like one life-learning opportunity after another has steadily piled itself outside my door.

Though it pains me to admit it, on some level I’ve been waiting for all of these unexpected deliveries from the universe to magically dematerialize so that I could shake off the dust, all lessons learned. If pressed, of course I would never suggest that there ever comes any point in time when people, no matter how spiritual, become immune to occurrences of life. Did I buy into the idea that the spiritual path might itself be a protection against upset, inconvenience, pain — even temporarily?

When I confessed these feelings to a friend, she said, wisely, “Drena, I think you need to...expand your perceptions.” So I did.

For the past several days I’ve been sitting with the situation, reflecting upon it and allowing it to communicate with me as I would a loved one. The opportunity to expand our perceptions is perhaps the real gift of any difficulty we face. In my case, widening the view has revealed some unexpected insights.

First off, the practical, grounded view — everything is a tradeoff.

In connecting with my new neighbors, I’ve learned there’s a higher rate of car theft in this safe, upper-middle class environment. Vehicles are regularly trashed and tousled for valuables. “No matter how safe, this is still urban America”, a new acquaintance offered wryly.

Conversely, the working class complex I left had a higher rate of social violence. In fact, safety became the decisive issue inspiring my relocation. So now it seems I’ve traded one concern for another. With full awareness I can assess and accept this new risk because it was my choice to move, just as it is my choice to live in such a large city to begin with. Grounding my perspective in the particular details of my environment allows me to stand in a space of empowerment, rather than victimization.

Which leads to my second, more spiritual view — choice is the apex of Incarnational Spirituality.

If we strip Lorian principles down to their wires, then we must acknowledge that, at the core, every being reveals the power of incarnation. Every person inherently possesses a spark of the impulse (that some call God, Source, the Sacred, the Divine, Big Bang, etc) which infuses creation.

But if this is true, then how do we account for the seemingly endless list of examples of human beings misusing their spark? What separates the villains from the saints?

Actually, Julie Spangler and I debate these finer points on occasion, and this is the place where we inevitably get stuck. If everyone and everything reveals the sacred impulse of God, then at what point does Incarnational Spirituality become a practice rather than an idea?

Simply stated, at the point of choice.

Choice is the crux of sovereignty. We each get access to an assortment of decisions and possibilities. My spiritual practice is revealed by how I carry myself through the world, not by how the world interacts with me.

Especially in the metaphysical community, I think there’s an assumption that the more spiritual we are, the smoother our lives tend to flow. Or, stated another way, the better we are at our spirituality, the less impact the material world will have on us. We tend to approach the difficulties of life as symptoms of spiritual “dis-ease.” If we’re sick, it’s because we have unresolved childhood issues calcifying in our bodies. If we’re poor, it’s due to unreleased beliefs around scarcity. If bad things happen to us, then we’re clearly doing something wrong, and there are any number of meditations, reflections, tinctures, readings and healers to help us get back on the right track! Certainly, any and all situations can be opportunities to heal, to improve and to reassess — but as the old saying goes, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.”

So what if difficulties are occasions to practice making choices which ultimately can inspire us, and those around us, to live meaningful, more purposeful lives?

Which culminates into my final, aerial view: how we choose to interpret and live in the world mirrors back to the world.

Regularly, I do check-ins with colleagues on the healing path; this past weekend we connected and I opened up about the car theft and other recent stresses. It was pointed out that I have difficulty receiving. “You are someone capable of giving, but you don’t allow yourself to receive from others. You need to learn how to ask for help and to let others care for you.”

Confession: for a moment I thought, somewhat sardonically, So...the universe let my car get broken into and nearly stolen and now I’m saddled with a thousand dollars in repairs so that I can learn how to...receive?

But I shook these thoughts off because, well, the universe didn’t cause anything to happen to my car. Life happened to my car. (Or, rather, thieves happened upon my car conveniently located on the corner.)

In considering the point my colleagues made, though, I had to admit that it’s true I don’t like asking for assistance. Needing help does make me uncomfortable. Initially, waking up last week to a stripped car felt like the final straw. More so than a violation of space, it seemed like an attack upon my independence and ability to take responsibility for my own needs so that I could…

avoid reaching out for others?

So, relaxing into this discomfort, I gazed into the proverbial mirror held up before me and noticed a number of peripheral blessings:

Upon learning about the break-in and attempted theft, my boyfriend immediately rearranged his schedule to be of assistance.

I had to cancel several appointments at the last minute and my clients and friends were kind and understanding.

I received a referral for a towing company that offered a generous rate; also, in spite of the damage and state of the car, the tow itself went smoothly, without any glitches.

My regular mechanic kept the car for several days and ultimately wasn’t able to get the parts to complete the repair; yet he helped me get the car to a specialty Subaru shop and did not charge me any fee.

The Subaru shop loaned me a Forester to drive while they repair the damage.

Last week I chose to park my car on the street outside my new apartment. Last week car thieves (thankfully, unsuccessfully) chose to steal it. Ever since then friends and clients and mechanics and tow truck drivers and colleagues have made choices that continue supporting me. And I get to choose to receive these blessings and hidden gifts.

I also get to choose to interact with this experience in a way that affirms the world, not as I wish it to be, but as I want to be.

From this vantage point, it seems impossible to not recognize the truth that how we see the events of our lives impacts the quality and care we bring to every moment. Ultimately I think the point of an incarnational spiritual practice is to willingly partake in the risks of being human and in the process to recognize that we can change the world by giving it the opportunity to impact us.

Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.