DAVID’S DESK #142 - GO HOME

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.

For a while at my local cinema, each movie would be preceded by an advertisement for the theater itself. Obviously responding to the competition of watching movies on television at home, this ad proclaimed the advantages of the big screen and ended by saying, “Go Big...or Go Home!” It was obvious which was the smart and preferred option.

Sometimes, I think this is the option that runs much of our lives. The problems that exist in our world—climate change, terrorism, war, political corruption, economic inequality, threats to democracy—all seem so large, so planetary, that we can feel disempowered and helpless before them. They seem so BIG, and unless we can go BIG in our response, we might as well just go home and let someone else, someone BIGGER than us, deal with them.

The adulation of bigness in our society is nothing new. However, though valuing bigness seems a logical route to power, it can actually be disempowering. After all, how many people bother to buy lottery tickets if the jackpot is just a measly few thousand dollars, or even a million? These days, what attracts people to stand in long lines to dip into their wallets is a Bigger than Big, Mega-Jackpot of hundreds of millions. Anything less can seem a waste of time and energy.

Where this comes up for me is when someone asks how they can make a difference in the world. Most of the time, this is a rhetorical question, at least when asked of me! What they are really doing is giving voice to a feeling of frustration and helplessness at the size of the problems in the world. I know, because they often say that they are feeling too small to make a difference. The challenges seem so big that only a big solution seems fitting. The problem is that they don’t feel capable of that kind of bigness. They feel disempowered by scale.

But this is an illusion. The world is built from small things; whether they’re atoms or cells, structures or societies, there is no “big” without the small - and their activities and relationships. A microscopic virus can kill me as surely as a building collapsing on my head. “Small” is not a synonym for “powerless.”

If someone asks me how they might make a difference, my first response is to say, “Acknowledge and accept yourself as someone who can make a difference.” From my perspective, each individual is already making a difference through his or her choices, actions, and connections in life. Many of these differences may, in fact, change very little in the world, but you never know. The ripples and consequences of what we do can spread wide and effect changes that would surprise us, even BIG changes.

However, it is one thing to acknowledge that yes, of course, our actions are going to have consequences and sometimes those consequences can make a big difference, and something else again to actually envision oneself as having the power to make a difference. The latter not only is empowering but it changes our evaluation of scale. Yes, there is a need for big solutions and actions, but this doesn’t mean that small actions are less important or influential.

Years ago, I heard a radio commercial that neatly summed this up. It was advertising a garage chain and said, “We don’t want to change the world; we just want to change your oil!” After all, the proper lubrication of my car’s engine is vitally important to it running well and providing me the transportation I need.

Small acts of kindness, generosity, acknowledgement, and appreciation offered to the people we meet daily may not seem like much, but they are the oil that lubricates our social interactions and enables communities to mesh and work well. Yes, it would be nice if I could come up with a solution to climate change, but what about tending to and if necessary changing the emotional or mental climate in my family or in my workplace?

It’s wonderful to feel a desire to change the world in positive, constructive ways. The more people in the world feeling that way and acting on it, the better we will be. But we need to recognize the power and value of paying attention to the small world right where we are and changing what we can right there. Then we stand in our power; then we make a difference. That is miles better than slumping in helplessness and despair.

Paradoxically, we may have the greatest influence if we Go Home in order to Go Big.

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.

"Resolutions!? We Don't Need No Resolutions!"

By Karen Johannsen

A few years ago I ran across an article by the goddess guru, Danielle LaPorte, who made the rebellious statement to NOT WRITE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!!

What? I had been doing that, not very successfully, for years. Danielle went on to say that it was more important to consider how we wanted to feel in the new year. What kind of energy did we want to bring to this new beginning? The suggestion was made that we consider the feelings we most wanted to embody.  She then asked the question, “What do you need to do to feel this way more often?”

Go and do that this year.

My list was fairly simple: I wanted to feel calm, joyful, energetic and enthusiastic. My “doing” list contained the traditional things...meditate to feel calmer, dance more and spend time with my grandchildren to feel joyful, exercise and try to get good sleep to feel more energetic, and surrender my fears so I could touch into my natural state of curiosity and excitement.

In the midst of compiling this list, a most profound insight came from an unexpected source. Reading an article by David Spangler, he told the story of his first car. How he loved that car, and every time he drove it he felt such love and gratitude that it was his. And the car never broke down. It drove like a charm for him. His father, who gave him the car, really didn’t like it, but bought it because it was a good deal. Well, every time his father happened to drive the car something went wrong. David’s 16-year-old mind concurred that the car must respond to whatever energy was directed toward it.

This is not a new revelation. David, especially, has written books about this subtle energy and how we interact with it. But this time I could feel there was something there for me to pay attention to. I began thinking about it in terms of my insomnia and how I went to bed sort of dreading the night. My poor bed! Having to take in all that negative energy!!! So, I began sending it loving thoughts, grateful that I had a bed and that it supported me so well. It didn’t cure my insomnia, but I went to bed feeling lighter, with a sense of appreciation and gratitude rather than apprehension.

Then a few months later another piece by David, from his Borderlands pamphlet, explored in more detail the cooperative energy that we can establish with our own environments. Connecting with his inner allies, David was told:

“It’s important to heighten awareness of the life that surrounds you, not just in nature where you expect it but in the environment you have built and the things you have produced. Connecting with this life in blessing and partnership is increasingly important.

After reading this, I realized that I could expand the concept of loving attention to my home and even the land upon which it stands. I began actively invoking a connection with my living room, my kitchen, all the energies that make up my entire home. As I did this, I could feel the shift in my heart. It opened in a new way. I don’t see beings, like David does, but I began to imagine that I could. I tried to visualize these energies as alive and responsive to my invitation.

It began to resonate with me that everything in my home was sacred and alive, in a certain sense. In a way I felt a sense of deepening responsibility. Now I had to consider that all my feelings, thoughts, words, were having an impact. And what kind of an impact did I want to transmit? What kind of energy did I want to surround myself with?

As I’ve practiced this more and more, I feel the connection more strongly. I walk through my home differently, taking care to acknowledge the beings that I sense are there and appreciating how we uphold and support one another. It is a partnership after all and I feel the blessing in that.

I’ve made a decision that I want to stay in this home as long as it is possible for me. Living in a place that feels filled with love and connection is not a bad way to spend my remaining years.

And my New Year’s non-resolutions? The sense of calm and joy that comes over me when I attune to this energy is with me every day. It gives me energy and helps me surrender to a deeper knowing that I am always held, always supported and never alone.

My New Year's Resolution - Make Room For Joy!

By Freya Secrest

The energy of January invites me to commit myself to fresh beginnings and new intentions. The spirit of these beginnings is often translated into resolutions – New Year’s Resolutions – capitalized for their significance. But I have found New Year’s Resolutions don’t often work for me. The focus of my grand plan gets lost or subverted by my normal everyday life and well-entrenched habits. My New Year’s resolutions never seem to extend much beyond February or March.

This year I have decided to experiment and begin the year a little differently. I am looking more deeply at the Resolutions that seem attractive to me and exploring the energy behind them. Organizing my papers and files is on the list. And so is paying attention to my health. They have both been on my list before. So what approach might I take to successfully bring them into fruition in my life this year? How can I hold an intention that draws and connects me so that they root and grow in my life?

What is coming to light is a multi-faceted relationship with my intentions. In the past, my New Year’s Resolutions have been more in the category of "shoulds" for self-improvement with focused attention and discipline being the main energy behind them. I imagine a straight line from A to B and will myself to hold to it. But when I consider the times when I have been successful in establishing a new direction or possibility in my life, I see that my intention holds a place in my heart and mind as well. An element of joy fuels the path and dances me toward the results I am seeking.

We often ask the participants in our classes to take a slow, step-by-step approach to a manifestation or subtle energy project they take up. We encourage giving some space and time to notice results, make adjustments, and incorporate change as it starts to manifest. The magic of manifestation is not so much about instant results or a will-fueled trajectory as it is about building a relationship that draws on resiliency, flexibility and practicality, like a terrain-hugging mountain road. As I consider engaging my new year’s intentions in this way, I feel my body relax. The process feels more spacious and I am engaged, curious to see what might unfold. The process becomes more interactive. The pace of my resolution slows enough to include inquisitiveness.

For me, curiosity is the most productive and painless form of discipline. When I am interested, time and tasks speed along. Motivation comes naturally. With curiosity I am drawn to take the time to notice my intentions morph and grow as I work with them. I see new possibilities that inform a change of direction. When I am responsive in a situation, I do not always end up heading in the same direction as I started out, but I do reach my goal. Focusing on my interest, I can hold true to my intention and still be flexible to make choices about new possibilities as they unfold.

So, how does that translate into this year’s resolutions? That backlog of papers in my basement files is a resource of ideas and possibilities, of creative dreams. I haven’t been willing to just throw them away, but time has moved on and I haven’t yet written that book or essay I had intended to long ago. Now it is not just a matter of storing this pile of notes neatly and then ignoring them for another year. Bringing joy to my resolution invites me to recognize these papers as a record of my dreams and inspirations, and using that touchpoint to cull through the files, sort out the material that has current relevance and release the rest with honor. I am curious to see the threads of my life that are revealed as I sort through my backlog, knowing that I want to enjoy the tapestry while still opening space for new designs to emerge.

Concerning my health, lifestyle changes cause physical exercise to land differently in my time and attention than in times past. These days I travel often for Lorian activities and it is a challenge to maintain the same old consistent exercise routine. Yet even my health objectives feel different. Whereas in time past I happily worked out at the local gym, building power and strength, I find that now these goals no longer sustain me. Instead I am interested in resiliency and balance, which bring me more into relationship with my body as ally rather than as a tool. Using the desires that bring me joy to nurture the roots of new habits, I look for connection with the world around me. Walks in nature draw me out to breathe and stretch and enjoy my body more. That seems the place to begin to let new disciplines unfold.

Becoming conscious of joy and spaciousness is the key resolution I am taking up this New Year. Joy cements my connection to the new possibilities I imagine, and spaciousness offers a place for that connection to bloom. They speak to connection and time as factors that can bring my intentions to life. Spaciousness and joy are two elements that I haven’t offered much room for in the context of past New Year’s Resolutions. I am coming to realize they make a world of difference.

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.

The Gift of Light

By Julie Spangler

Once again it is the Season of Light in my world. Christmas, Hanukah, Diwali, Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere - all are festivals held at this time of year celebrating the return of the Light from the long darkness. In my household we have always celebrated both the Winter Solstice and Christmas, while holding respect for all others.

The Winter Solstice has been precious to me ever since I lived in northern Scotland many years ago where the longer nights in December are more pronounced than in Connecticut where I grew up. When darkness arrives for tea at 3:30 PM and stays until 9 AM, there is a natural feeling of in breath. I would huddle before a coal fire, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, listening to the rain and wind blustering about outside while I stayed warm and quiet inside. It inspired me to breathe in and sit with myself – a time of reflection and stillness when the world sleeps, and I slow down. This inward stillness contrasted sharply with the summer liveliness which called me outside and into activity late into the bright night of the long day.

After returning to the US, getting married and starting a family, celebrations were of course centered around our children, and the dark stillness in our house was not so still. Our solstice celebration took place with friends who lived in the hills and had a 40 ft yurt in which was laid a pine bough spiral. At the beginning of the ceremony, the sole illumination was one lit candle standing in the center of the spiral, a reminder that even in the darkness there is always the One Light. Beginning with the youngest child, we each walked the spiral alone to the center to light our own candle. As we returned around the spiral, we carried our candle, bringing the light back out to our community, placing our candle somewhere along the spiral, illuminating it increasingly as we progressed from youngest to eldest. There is magic in such practices, the youngest one bravely and quietly walking along the dark spiral to the center to light the first candle and bring the light back out to the world, accompanied by our surrounding voices lifted in song – alone but supported by community. This particular yurt had a skylight at the top which would reflect the candle’s lights below it, looking like a celestial response to our small lights below, a galaxy of divine sparks – the heart glow of community. Such rituals are done all over the world on the longest night as the darkness is vanquished and the light returns. Magical indeed.

Christmas was - and still is - more complicated. With the commercial emphasis on Christmas beginning often before Halloween, it is easy to become overwhelmed and a little jaded by commercial excess not to mention the pounding of pop Christmas songs in the stores. There is a pressure put on gift buying that misses the point of this sacred holiday that celebrates the birth of the Christ – for me, the birth of the Christ within the heart of each of us.

But Christmas is also a time of magic – the magic of transforming our homes into sparkling wells of lights and color, of sharing love and the joy of being together, of taking on the mantle of Santa Claus bringing gifts to each other. It is a time set aside to remember that we are all sparks of Love walking the planet. It is a time of thinking of others and seeking ways to gift those in need. It is the season of Santa Claus, the jolly old elf who brings gifts and joy and ho ho ho’s. In our house, Santa is honored as a living presence who spreads the magic of hope and giving through our own hands and hearts.

We begin our Christmas celebration, sometimes before decorating has begun, with our favorite Christmas movie which is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, also known as Scrooge. The story of a dark and tortured man who, with the aid of three Spirits, finds his way towards transformation and rebirth has always been a staple of our family celebration. I believe we have at least 10 versions of it, and we must watch all of them. (There are at least 32 films of this story, including old black and white versions, musical versions, a Muppets version, Disney versions, animated versions, even a one-man version done by Patrick Stewart.)

Each one is a little different, but what all of them do is show us Ebenezer Scrooge, a dark blot on humanity, moving alone through his world spreading negative vibes of depression and hate, making people wilt and shy away from him. This man who was shut off from everything beautiful, deep into his own dark world of isolation and anger, was shown the way through his past life choices to the present and probably unpleasant future. This led him into a new choice, from a selfish material focus on the accumulation of wealth to one of valuing others and a recognition of his own capacity to love and to care for their wellbeing. He was given a good hard look at himself, and simultaneously at the joy and love shared by others around him from which he excluded himself. Thus inspired to change (admittedly through a certain amount of terror, but hey, let’s not quibble about the methods of Spirits), Scrooge’s heart opens and he sees his world through fresh eyes, full of the joy of life with loving generosity and caring for others. It is not unlike walking the dark spiral to the light at the center and bringing that inner light back out to share with his world.

Any story of transformation is inspiring, but this one, being centered around the spirit of Christmas, highlights those qualities that the Christ brought closer to our hearts. Qualities of love, of joy in life, of giving and caring for all of humanity, of being a source of Light for all the world. If one man can lift himself out of the darkness within, anyone can, and for each person lost in their inner darkness who is brought back into the Light that is his or her birthright, the whole world is brightened.

This is why when Christmas comes, in our house the music comes out, the lights and colors are decking the halls, and we lift our hearts in joyful celebration of the life and beauty of our world, of people caring for each other, of community, of family that is humanity. This is a deeply spiritual holiday for me, one that sings out the possibility for renewal and hope, for joy and peace on earth, and excludes no one. It is a celebration of the deep prayer, “Let there be peace on earth and good will toward all peoples”. And true to the nature of our family, it is also a celebration of fun, joy and laughter, for included in our collection of Christmas Carol movies are some that are spoofs of a treasured Spangler tradition… nothing is too sacred for a good laugh.

So from my hearth to yours, may laughter and joy, love and renewal grace your home this holiday. May the transformation that is always imminent open your heart to a greater love that is there within you. And may the growing light fill your eyes with visions of beauty and hope for the future. The light is ours to bring out, the love is ours to give, and the laughter is ours to delight in.

May This Season of Light Warm and Renew Your Heart.

Our Inner Star

By David Spangler

Editor's Note: The following post is an excerpt from the Winter issue of David Spangler's quarterly journal, Views from the Borderland, which will be released on December 21. If you would like to learn more about this annual subscription program, you may do so by clicking here.

For me, all subtle work begins with attunement to our generative nature. This is one of the key insights of Incarnational Spirituality. Each of us is a generative source of Light. It’s as if we are a power plant or, in my favorite metaphor, a star. A star generates light and heat because of the nuclear fusion going on within it; there is a process at work that makes a star radiant.

There is a process going on within us as well, an incarnational process, which makes us radiant, too. Just as a star has its own spectrographic signature, so each of us generates and radiates Light in a unique way. I call this our “Self-Light.” I call it this not simply because it is part of who we are but because it is an expression of the processes that make us who we are. It is the Light that emerges from the incarnational act of “self-making” or “Selfing.”

This Self-Light is not simply a by-product, though. It is an objective, a purpose, a design feature of the incarnational act which, whatever else it may produce, is intended to create a generative source of Light and spiritual presence within the incarnate realm.

We are that source.

We are used to thinking of Light as something we invoke, something we draw down upon ourselves from higher realms of Spirit. There is Light or spiritual energy and presence that can be drawn into our lives, into our world, from a variety of spiritual sources. But Self-Light comes from us, from the act of being here in the world. We don’t have to access any other source to have it.

The reality of Self-Light means that we have to think of ourselves in new ways. We are not just consumers; we are producers. We are not simply deliverers of the gifts of spiritual Light from other sources, like traders and merchants importing wonders from distant shores; we are craftspersons who offer wares of our own making, our own creation. We are generative sources of Light: of spiritual blessing and vital energies of life.

Acknowledging this is an important step into accepting and developing the innate spiritual power of who we are. Another such step is acknowledging our Sovereignty.

In Incarnational Spirituality, Sovereignty is my word for the will-to be and the resultant clarity and strength of our spiritual Identity. It is our ability to be self-governing and to hold the processes of self-making that generate our Self-Light. In a way, Sovereignty is like the mass of the star that triggers and maintains the nuclear fusion that in turn produces energy in the form of light and heat. It is the sanctity of being who we are in a way that enables our incarnational identity to unfold its generative nature. It is an expression of the will of the Soul that makes incarnation possible and defines its nature.

Whatever is happening in the world, both positively and negatively, it cannot take our Sovereignty and Self-Light from us or diminish them unless we condescend to that loss and diminishment. We are an inner star, and from this star-ness comes our ability to serve and help in the subtle dimensions and in the physical world as well.

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.

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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.