It's always such a pleasure to go to the Gem and Mineral Show when it comes to New Jersey each spring. Although the show has varied over the years, the selection of gemstones, minerals and fossils never fails to delight those who attend.
I never fail to leave the garden uninspired. Whether it's with colors, wildlife or Fae. Today as I trimmed away the dead rose branches and pulled out the weeds that are already sprouting up...the words that keep running through my head were, "Be a Weed".
Yes, be a weed Diane.
They strong, resilient, and really quite patient to grow among the other more acceptable plants. Best of all, no matter how many times you pull them out, a weed will just keep coming back.
I see every other inspirational quote known to man immortalized through Facebook posts.
When I heard this morning that David Bowie had transitioned, my heart hurt. My heart chakra literally hurt inside my chest because I knew the world had truly lost a soul whose impact upon the lives of others, during this lifetime, had been immense.
The intelligent art, music, fashion and style of David Bowie touched the masses in many different ways. It was because of his ability as an artist to transform himself so strongly through the creative process. Every time he changed, he found a different set of people to relate to his new being.
For as much as he was able to brighten and add color into the lives of others, Bowie's personal struggles and pain must have been immense. A lot of this born out through the 12th house placement in his chart, which you can read more about in this wonderfully written article.
I recently saw an old interview with Bowie by Charlie Rose where he talked about the "violent" and difficult process he always experienced while bringing his painting and art into the world.
I think all artists experience this to some extent or another. Physical birth is violent and painful.
Creative birth is as well. The extent of pain and struggle varies from person to person depending on what they are trying to create, their life lessons and their karma during this lifetime.
The creative birth process was something Bowie said he personally did not enjoy doing. Considering his ability to absorb the culture around him and then transform himself again and again, it must have been an extremely difficult experience for him each time.
All souls who are born into this world leave ripples in their path. Others produce tidal waves whose reach is far and long lasting. There were so many facets to this man, people will write about him forever.
I chose to include this image to be portrayed in this piece because to me it symbolizes the process of transformation, going forward, and bursting into the unknown (which I'm sure Bowie is doing right about now).
There was a wonderful tribute article to Delores Cannon that was posted on her blog. It's been a year since she's passed. I hope you will take the time to read it. The article is a short profile of her life and her work. She did so much to help open the minds of others. A true pioneer in every sense of the word.
Ozark Mountain Publishing has just released her book Convoluted Universe 5 which she finished before she died. I will definitely be reading it soon. I'll never forget seeing Convoluted Universe 1 at the bookstore years ago. It practically jumped off the shelf at me. I could barely put it down once I began to read, and I devoured many, many more of her books after that. Once you become immersed in her work, I guarantee that you will never view life quite the same...no matter how 'enlightened' or open minded you believe yourself to be.
The first day of October finds me hurrying around preparing for, and I quote, "five days of the most brutal weather that New Jersey has seen in a long time". An upcoming rain storm, followed by a 'Nor'easter wind and rain' and, of course, Hurricane Joaquin. The date of NJ has already declared a state of emergency.
Well, 'strange things are afoot at the Circle K'. I went out to pick some last minute flowers before the storm(s) hit, and was immediately greeted by a more intense delegation of my bird friends then usual. Then this little cutie comes out of the rose bed to say hello. I've never seen him before...he left as fast as he came, disappearing under the hydrangea. Glad to see he was wearing a collar.
Of course I took it as a sign. Were they telling me about the upcoming storm? Or letting me know that my first grandchild will be making her grand entrance before long?
I always seem to attract animals around me that I normally don't come in contact with before something happens. I had crows land next to me and sit outside my studio window for a week straight this summer before my mother passed. I've had deer run in front of me so close I could have touched them...on our street which is very urban and busy.
Superstition? I don't know. You'd be surprised that what goes on around you once your eyes open and you start taking notice. I've decided that if I see a third unusual animal related thing today then I'll know something up for sure.
Every culture has it's beliefs, rituals and traditions associated with the seasons. The transition from summer into fall is no exception. As I look around me I see baskets of summer flowers on my neighbors' porches being replaced by mums and pumpkins. In more rural areas, the farmers have been busy bailing hay for the winter, and are beginning to gather the bounty from the summer harvest. Apple picking, of course, is at it's height and abundance.
The Autumnal Equinox, or the holiday Mabon as it is known in Celtic and Pagan cultures, ushers in these seasonal changes and welcomes the second harvest. This is the time of year when the sun shines equally on both hemispheres. The days and nights are of equal length, but we begin to move from the light half of the year to the dark half. The leaves turn, the birds migrate, and we start our cyclical descent into winter.
As I observe everything around me starting to wind down, Mabon, much more then the Thanksgiving holiday, feels like the most natural place in the year to pause and be grateful for all the blessings and experiences that I have had. To re-view it all, in it's entirety on a cyclical but equal basis. This year in particular my personal wheel of life truly has experienced it all. A death, a (soon to be) birth, and a developing creative re-birth. I'm thankful for it all these things. They continue to shape and guide me to be the person I am, and have yet to become.
It's May 1st, Beltane - and I honestly cant think of a more glorious day to be taking the time to write for the Mind Body Spirit Odyssey! In the Northeast we've had a brutal winter, and it's still quite cold in places.
Today though, the four Bradford Pears that are in our back yard are in full bloom along with the daffodils and tulips. And my little wren friend has returned and is resting comfortably on my back porch. His way of gentle way of reminding me that the birdbaths need to be refilled.
The yearly, local plant sale in our town starts today and runs throughout the weekend. We plan to attend with our neighbors to purchase a new tree or bush to plant in a space that adjoins our properties. We're also hoping to select some heirloom vegetables and flowers for the garden.
I can't think of a nicer way to enjoy this blessing of a day!
Below is an excerpt from a post written about Beltane by Nellie Levine and published in our blog in 2009. Whatever you happen to be doing and wherever you may be, we hope you smile and enjoy your day!
seems that everyone I talk to is impatient for warm and sunny days,
tired of the cloud cover and chill air of the darker half of the year.
I'm certainly ready to celebrate the green growth of spring! This desire
to feel sun on our skin and soil beneath our fingernails makes Beltane -
or May Day as it is generally practiced today - such a comfortable,
accessible holiday. May Day is widely and openly celebrated through the
British Isles, as well as in many places in the US. People dance around
the May Pole, sit by bonfires, and gladly toss their winter worries away
as they look ahead to brighter days. Dreams come back to life, as we
draw upon the fertile energy of the day.
Beltane was celebrated by the Celts with much dancing, drinking, music,
merriment, and romance. It was one of the two most important of their
celebrations - celebrating the light half of the year. The name Beltane
is believed to mean "fires of Bel" and honors the ancient sun god Beli,
or Belanus. Druids looked after the Beltane fires, by which people and
their livestock would pass, with the belief that they would be cleansing
themselves of the illness or misfortunes they may have experienced
through winter, and perhaps blessing them with good fortune for the
months to come.
can light our own bonfires, and we can honor any deity we like... We
can make a May Pole or just make some music... what I think is important
if we are to celebrate Beltane today is that essential message of
taking a deep breath of fresh spring air, embracing the renewed life of
warmer seasons, purifying ourselves of our past troubles, and looking
with openness to the growth ahead.
It's been a tough winter for most of the country this year.
When it gets to be this time of the season, where many people's attitudes have hardened and soured even deeper then usual, its important become even more aware of ourselves. When you feel yourself wading into that pool of funk, try and step back... realize what you're doing, and adjust your perspective so it doesn't bleed over onto other people's lives and environment.
Try being nice...or, just be quiet.
The following passage is taken from the book "The Tao of Joy Everyday" by Derek Lin
Wise words ~
One powerful effect of Tao cultivation is that, more and more, you are able to look at everything through the eyes of the Tao. When this happens, you will suddenly see much more that is good, and present everywhere you look.
Those who have experienced this know that it can be an overwhelming in a positive way. It is not about thinks like the sunset or a rainbow that are already considered beautiful by everyone. It is about tremendous beauty in the most commonplace and ordinary places. Look at the crinkle of someone's smiling eyes. Look at the fascinating patterns in the clouds. Look at the symmetrical design in a leaf. There is so much beauty in existence that no human mind can possibly contain it all.
There is something behind all this. We can never see it, but if we close our eyes, we can sense its presence. We can never hear it, but if we remain quiet, its whispers will resonate silently. It is telling us without words that everything is exactly as it should be, and the beauty we see is the reflection of the beauty within all of us.
Look for goodness and beauty and you will find them. Negative feelings like anger and resentment will recede. When you are immersed in all that is good and beautiful, you cannot feel angry or resentful. There will be no room in your heart for such feelings, for it will be filled to the brim with joy and gratitude.
The stunning photograph "Against the Storm" is by photographer Jude McConkey
l. Spray the bottom of the baking dish with a non stick spray...whatever size dish you have on hand.
2. Layer as many sliced potatoes as will fit in the bottom of the pan.
3. Layer chicken pieces on top. Whatever you happen to have. I had thighs.
Sprinkle with liberally salt, pepper, paprika. I threw some thyme on
top because I happened to have it growing in the kitchen. You could use
rosemary or leave it plain.
5. Cover with foil. (put NO liquid in it)
6. Bake 350 for around l.5 hours.
*I wouldn't not recommend chicken breasts for this dish.
They are not juicy enough. If you do use them, add some water
to the bottom of the potatoes before baking and reduce the cooking time by at
least a half hour...or more.
It's been awhile since I posted in this blog, but like most artists who are fortunate enough to be able to express themselves through multiple platforms, I write when I'm inspired to write.
When the words fill my head, I write.
I paint, draw and take photographs when I'm visually inspired.
The last few months, the visual has definitely taken a front seat in my life.
This morning I read something on my Facebook page that has come up several times.
That I've actually posted about it on our Mind Body Spirit Marketplace page in the past.
A friend had requested that her friends post photos of baby animals to counteract all the hateful comments and negativity that she was seeing in her Facebook feed.
I had to ask myself...why?
My Facebook feed doesn't look like that, and neither does the MBS page.
So I commented:
don't see much hatred in my feed. In fact mine is usually full of
artwork, nature and people posting positive, inspiring quotes. My 'FB
friends' don't tend to post negative things or hateful, political spew.
The one thing about FB that a lot
of people overlook, is that what you see is totally within your own
control. So people need to ask themselves....who 'do' you friend with
that would post such negative things to begin with?? If I don't like
what I see...I just block or unfriend... I mean, why not?"
We become what we choose to feed ourselves. Not just food, but what we choose to ingest visually and auditorily too. What we read, what we watch, who we talk to...what we listed to and choose to focus on. Who DO we talk to? Who DO we choose to spend our time socializing with? Both online and off. Does it make us more intelligent and informed? Do we feel better or angry after we read it? Does it bring us up, or dumb us down?
We make our own choices everyday that either uplift our soul or compel us to dive down and swim with the bottom feeders. What do you think about in your spare time?
And - How do you think about it? In positive or negative terms?
Are you thinking about how much you dislike someone or how angry they make you? Or do or you move your thought process on to more positive thoughts?
It's all within your own control, you know.
Good example: This morning I was talking with a friend in his yard. Yes, it would have been almost too easy to focus my attention on all the work he needed to catch up on around his house... but when I looked in his yard, his wonderful little trees, the trees that he loves so much and has patiently cultivated and nursed over the years, stood out like little golden jewels. Their fall colors vibrated wildly in the sunlight. They were simply stunning. (I'm obviously still thinking about them)
Next time you wake up in the morning and and find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed, ask yourself -
"Why do I choose to allow myself to ingest the things I do? And - how does that not only effect my own well being, but the well being of others? (especially when I choose to re-post)"
Don't become a Facebook drone. Disconnect from the things that do not bring you to a good place and move on.
I had a birthday recently and one of the gifts I received from my son was a book on spirit animals. I had been planning to write a blog post about spirit animal guides for a long time, but I never quite figured out how to approach the material. To just list the animals and their characteristics seemed a bit boring to me. The book served as a gentle reminder that I really should revisit the subject, regardless of how I choose to present the information.
A few years ago I began an interview with a wonderful Native American artist about spirit animal guides from her cultural perspective. Unfortunately our schedules never seemed to connect and we didn't finished the interview. Looking back I'll admit I found myself a bit hesitant with the interview though, mostly out of deference for her background, but also because I didn't want to ask too many probing questions and over step my bounds. She found herself treading lightly too, wanting to be respectful and true to the knowledge that had been passed down to her from her grandmother. She also did not want to pass on information that she may not have remembered correctly.
As she stated : "Animal
guides have always been a part of my life. These are the beliefs I was
raised with - my great grandmother would tell me stories about the
Spirit Guides. She taught me that all things have Spirit - animals,
rocks, trees, etc. and that all these things have a lesson to teach to
those that take the time to listen, that all these things should be
honored and respected, that no life is more important than any other
life & most importantly that we are all connected. I didn't realize
it at the time but she was sharing a culture that was fast
disappearing. Now I very much regret not having listened more closely
& there are many questions I wish I had asked. She crossed over
when I was 11 years old.
...I believe that your animal guide/guides will come to you when needed,
some may remain for a lifetime others for only a brief period. Guides
can change during your life & most people have more than one at a
time. I believe your guides show themselves when a person needs to
hear the message the guide is there to convey or learn the lesson that
needs to be taught. Guides often manifest in dreams and they can be
accessed through meditation. Sometimes they announce their presence in a
far from subtle manner - a particular animal may suddenly seem to be
everywhere you look. Regardless of the manner chosen to reveal
themselves a guide will show itself several times - usually within a
relatively short time span trying to gain the individual's attention."
From my own experiences, every time I have ever found myself contacted by an animal guide there has been no doubt about their presence or the message they were sending me.
In dreams, meditation, or literally standing right in front of me, they have made their existence and their connection to me crystal clear. They have also invariably sent me scurrying to my stacks of books, as well as the computer, to do more hours of research then I would like to think about.
Every culture and every spiritual tradition has their share of stories, folklore, and spiritual beliefs connected with animal guides. And, the more you read, the more you will find that their differences eventually become similarities.
I thought I'd share a few of my more memorable experiences with you -
- Walking down a busy street in a very urban town and a deer runs out in front me. It dodges traffic, crosses the street and runs up into the back yard of a neighboring house. Yes, I have seen deer in this neighborhood before, but not during rush hour, and certainly never running so close to me that I could have put my hand out to touched it. I was completely startled.
Oh, but did I mention that my 3 dogs, who were also along on the walk, didn't even seem to even see it?
- Having dinner and conversation on our deck with a group of friends. One of them is telling me that every time he thinks about doing something that his gut tells him he probably shouldn't be doing, a huge black bird flys over to him and lands at his feet. We all have a big laugh at that, and as I'm replying that maybe it has something to do with the birds where he lives, and that that I havenever seen a big black bird do that where I live, a huge black raven lands on the deck, right at his feet.
Everyone was so stunned, we just stood there. Our mouths wide open in shock, we picked up our dinner plates and silently hurried into the house.
After that, we all read up on ravens.
- And speaking of birds, I could write a book about all my bird experiences alone, there are the always the majestic, soaring, swooping eagles; along their friends the brave jaguars, that totally invade my meditation on a regular basis and make themselves the focal point.
Over and over... and over, and over and over.
I know you let the meditation take you where it will...
I got the message ~
- Then there is Dreamtime. The beautiful dream I had where I walked to my window one night, opened the curtain, and saw the yard full of beautiful Sayomeds happily sitting guard around the house, under the twinkling night sky.
That one still makes me smile.
- How about imagining this one -
You are in the middle of your front walk taking to a stranger. All of a sudden the stranger's eyes bug out and she gets a really odd expression on her face. As you turn around to see what she is looking at, you're shocked to discover hundreds and hundreds of beautiful butterflies in your yard right behind you.
No, it wasn't a dream.
I still haven't quite figured that one out yet, although the energy from those butterflies was really quite amazing.
Yes, in case you are wondering, I have seen the stranger again.
She just looks at me kind of weird.
and finally, I'll wrap it up with this one -
- I stepped out of my car into a parking lot, turned around and saw a deer standing right next to me. (close enough to touch... again).
What's so interesting about that? Well, that is interesting in itself...I know, but that's not the point right now.
I was about to go inside a building into a meeting where I had volunteered to be a 'student' for teachers who were training to become meditation facilitators.
My friend told me in advance - "Just be honest, but be kind and careful with your feedback...they are just learning".
Unfortunately I know that at times I can really be almost too honest and direct with people, so I think I was getting a very clear message from my guide the deer, reminding me to be 'extra gentle and kind'...like a deer... with the budding, new teachers.
For any one who would like to learn more about animal guides, their spiritual nature and folklore, I suggest starting with the classic book "Animal Speak" by the late Ted Andrews.
Although reading back through this blog post I chose to share some of my
experiences through humor, (mostly because sometimes looking back leaves me no choice but to laugh), I really do appreciate all the wonderful encounters that I have had within the natural world around me, and am also very thankful for the guidance that I have been open enough, and wise enough, to receive from the animals I have connected with.
I hope you will start noticing what's going on in the world around you a
little more too.
'Be present'... as they say.
If you do, the natural world and animal kingdom might really surprise you ~
There's always something new and interesting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This morning as we hurried through the galleries to a talk on 'Magic Rituals in Ancient Egyptian Art', which was excellent by the way, I glanced over into a small alcove and the most beautiful crystal necklace with a carved crystal cross caught my eye. The crystal cross portion of the piece really intrigued me, and as I walked over to look it over and snap a few photos I couldn't help but think - 'Yes, people really have been making and wearing crystal necklaces for hundreds and hundreds of years.' I couldn't help but wonder if they were aware of all the energetic properties they possess (probably more aware then we are) or, was it just the clerics or shaman who held that knowledge? I suppose it really depended on the civilization or culture. Was the crystal jewelry part of their symbolic folklore, or was it only used specifically for ritualistic purposes? Whatever the history of this particular necklace, it was definitely very beautiful, and something quite unique and special. I really glad it called me over to say hello ~ This stunning crystal necklace and pendant cross is from the Byzantine period, from Medinet Habu (near Thebes), Egypt. Carved 500-700