Festivals of Light

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

This is a resurrection of an old piece that I wrote when I lived in Albuquerque New Mexico in the early 90’s.  It is chocked full of great information about celebrations at this time of year.  I’d highly recommend that you make a copy of this and keep it near your calendar as each celebration commences in the last month of 2017. Perhaps you will be drawn to one particular ceremony or possibly you will want to embrace them all in a glow of candles.  Years ago I had candle holders for each celebration and honored all.

It began in total darkness. The abandoned old automobile showroom came alive with twinkling lights.  Rainbow streamers pirouetted down from once obtrusive columns.  Music, art, dance, food, and children’s merriment lit up the Winter Solstice night as reminders of the covenant of light so woven into each of our individual cultures.  Dancing snowflakes stuck to the windows completing the picture of magic.  And, we knew that after this long night the light would again return–slowly, ever so slowly. Gentiles and Jews, Buddhists and Blacks, Latino and Pueblo observed this Celebration of the South marking the deepest darkness of cosmic obscurity.  It was an event of culturally diverse people sharing their own unique light celebration in concert with one another.  We brought presents for the tree of life to gift back into the community.  Our celebration unfolded as a fitting tribute for a Mass celebrating the birth of our solar Sun.

 Each person lit a candle as the ceremony progressed to bring back the light and end the cycle of entropy.  In the four cardinal directions we acclaimed the seasons and their lessons.  We began in the East where at Spring Equinox we launched the masculine cycle of the year and gave thanks for genesis. In the South we recalled the blessings of full sun, the warmth and passion of the season of expansion.  The West was lauded for the feminine cycle and harvest of Mother Earth’s munificence.  And finally, the North was extolled for the emergence from the inner cave of introspection and the ensuing inner awakening.

The month of December holds many traditions of Light.  Through Winter Solstice or Yule, Hanukkah, Christmas –Traditional and Eastern Orthodox, Twelve Holy Days Candle Ceremony and Kwanzaa we shed light on the challenges of the old year and free ourselves for the wealth of opportunities that the new year proffers.  In each culture and tradition, light is the key to illumination and the freedom it brings.

Hanukkah-December 12 to 20, 2017

This Festival of Lights is celebrated for eight days beginning on the 25th day of the month of Kislev (November/December) to memorialize the victory of Jews over Hellenistic Syrians.  A nine-candelabra called a Menorah meaning “fire” is lit to acknowledge the light of religious, national, and cultural freedom won by the Maccabees for their people.  The triumph of the Maccabees fueled a resurrection of Judaism, which had waned under Hellinism.  A server candle the Shamash is lit first and used to ignite the flame of each of the eight nights with chanting and blessings.  The miracle of lamp oil used to light the rededication of the Temple is at the root of the eight-night commemoration.  Judah Maccabee found uncovered a small container of oil sufficient to light the lamps for one night only.  Through Divine intervention the oil lasted steadfastly through eight nights until new oil was obtained.

Winter Solstice-December 21, 2017

Celebrated in many cultures worldwide for thousands of years, the Winter Solstice marks the start of the solar year as a celebration of Light and rebirth of the Sun.  Norse tradition called it Yule (Wheel).  In Japan Goddess Amaterasu emerged from her dark cave (hibernation), saw her reflection in a mirror and then lit the world with refracted love from her image.  Celts rejoiced with Sun Goddess Lucina.  Yemaya an African Goddess created the world anew from her womb at Solstice.  Ancient Roman’s festival of Saturnalia lasted as much as a week with rituals, feasts, merry-making, prayers for the crops and ceremonial/social activities.  Druids adorned their homes with sacred herbs and holiday colors of red, green and white.  Mistletoe above the threshold acted as a charm for good luck throughout the coming year. Sacred candles were lit, and new fires kindled to symbolize the returning light.  Turning the Wheel of The Year back toward the sun helped cultures through time before mind connect with cycles of Earth and understand our reciprocal needs.

 Christmas or The Mass of the Christos-December 25, 2017

Literally Christmas means the mass of Christ—a ritual ceremony.  Unable to compete with the boisterous Pagan celebrations, early Christians in the second and third centuries moved the celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth to its December 25th date.  The Christian celebration of the Sun of God was more easily assimilated by cultures who for eons ceremonied the annual return of the Sun.  Thus, son as Light of the World became synonymous with the solar sun.  Questions over the validity of lunar calendars resulted in solar calendars dating back to ancient Egypt.  In 45 BC Julius Caesar established the Julian Calendar with 365 days and a leap year every fourth year.  In 1582 the Gregorian Calendar was developed which parallels our modern constructs of time.  Political dissention within the Catholic church created a liturgical difference that left Roman Catholics adhering to the December 25th Christmas day and Eastern Orthodox believers celebrating it a full 12 days later.  Christmas was thus celebrated as a time to pay homage for the gift of Light, literal and figurative.

Kwanzaa-December 26, 2017-January 1, 2017

A modern Black American celebration developed following the 1965-Watts riots in Los Angeles, Kwanzaa was conceived by Dr. Maulana Karenga to help African-Americans reconnect with their heritage.  The holiday is celebrated for seven days from December 26th to January 1st.  Each day focuses on one of seven goals or Nguzo Saba (the seven principles of Kwanzaa).  The Nguzo Saba are:

Unity (Umoja) – Black Candle

Self-Determination (Kujichagulia) – Green Candle

Collective Work and Responsibility (Ujima) – Green Candle

Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa) – Green Candle

Purpose (Nia) – Red Candle

Creativity (Huumba) – Red Candle

Faith (Imani) – Red Candle

The words are Swahili, the most commonly shared language in Africa.  A Kinara (kee-nah-rah) much like the Jewish menorah holds one candle for each day of Kwanzaa.  The black candle is lit first with the remaining six on each of the following days.  A ritual feast called the Karamu is the highlight of the holiday on the sixth day.  The altar features a straw mat called a Mkeka (m-kay-cah) where traditional items are placed for a sense of foundation.  Muhindi (Moo-heen-dee), ears of corn, symbolize the children and the ability of offspring to produce thus immortalizing a nation and culture.  The Kikombe Cha Umoja (kee-coam-bay chah-oo-moe-jah) is the cup of unity in honor of ancestors.  The Zawadi (sah-wah-dee) or gifts represent the fruits of the parents and the rewards of their seeds sown in their children.  The focus of Kwanzaa is to relate to the past in order to understand the present and deal with the future.  The purpose is to maintain history.  The sense of direction is to practice principles the assisted ancestors with life’s challenges.  And the goal of Kwanzaa is to develop positive Black self-esteem as a culturally desirable pattern of principles.

12 Holy Days Candle Ceremony-December 26, 2017-January 6, 2018 (All Kings Day in Mexico-Eastern Orthodox Christmas)

Following is a synthesized celebration of the 12 Holy Days Candle Ceremony.  This can be undertaken following traditional Christmas or twelve days before the New Year. You will need candles of the following colors: 12 White (Purity); 6 Pink (Love); 6 Yellow (Creation); 5 Blue (Communication; 3 Purple (Divinity); 2 Green (Wealth); and 2 Red (Passion for Life)—36 candles in all. This traditionally had a Saint associated with each day.  To make it more universally usable, I made some changes.

Day One -Begin with the zodiacal sign of Aries and light one each white, pink and yellow candle signifying new beginnings and creation.  Spiritual Center: Crown

Day Two – Celebrate home and hearth as Taurus.  Light one each white, yellow and purple candle to create love, harmony and humility within your dwelling.  Spiritual Center: Throat.

Day Three – Visual Gemini with hands of healing, peace and understanding by lighting one each white, pink, and green candle.  Spiritual Center: Hands

Day Four – Focus on transformation and soul as truth by acknowledging Cancer and light one each white, blue, and pink candle.  Spiritual Center: Solar Plexus.

Day Five – Behold the power of love and the benefit of releasing old sorrows to embrace new joys as Leo.  Light one each white, pink, and purple candle.  Spiritual Center: Heart

Day Six – See the Virgin Virgo as symbol of purification (Jesus’ purported birth sign). Light one each white, purple, and green candle.  Focus on service.  Spiritual Center: Intestinal Tract

Day Seven – See beauty in all things expressing Divine attributes as Libra—balancer.  Light white, yellow, and blue candles.  Spiritual Center: Adrenals

Day Eight – Transmute matter, honor the life and death cycles and express compassion as Scorpio.  Light white, yellow, and pink candles and purify your heart.  Spiritual Center: Reproductive Generative System.

Day Nine – Become the light of the world as Sagittarius and focus on the mastery of Intent—your life work.  Light white, yellow, and red candles.  Spiritual Center: Solar Plexus

Day Ten – Humble yourself, surrender to access the Christos consciousness within.  Light white, yellow, and blue candles to signify Capricorn.  Spiritual Center: Knees.

Day Eleven – Embrace the Universe in the perfection with a broad love of humanity expressed in Aquarius.  Spiritual Center: Lower limbs

Day Twelve – See yourself as a piece of God spirit or the oneness as human form Divine manifest through Pisces and declare the “I Am” within and without.  Walk you talk (i.e. peace walk of The Peace Pilgrim) Spiritual Center: Feet

December brings ceremonial warmth and light to all corners of the world. As each person in his or her own way marks the return of light, life is renewed.  Through ceremonies of light we complete the old and embrace the new–making the home and hearth more festive, lighting the lights, gifting from the heart, and gathering with our circle of friends and family.  In the twinkling of the candles or fires are afforded an opportunity to see our own unique spark of divinity and to commit to moving forward into the New Year 2018 with passion, compassion, and love!

Amari is co-sponsoring a Solstice Celebration on Wednesday, December 20th at the Majestic in Bellingham.  For information visit the Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/events/169502160304518/

 

 

 

Mastery of the Game of Life

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

What if this [sic: life] is really a board game like Monopoly and some own Boardwalk and Park Place and others do not pass go and are sent directly to jail without collecting their monthly stipend?  Wouldn’t it all seem almost laughable?  Yes, I know, for some it is their very reality and not funny at all.  I’m making a point here and that is that so much of the drama, judgments, emotional rollercoasters etc. in life are part of the game.  True some rides are better than others.

Had I not had the following experience after my harsh, autocratic step-father’s passing, I might have missed an important lesson in life.  After he passed, I had a vision.  In this dream-like state, I saw that my life was a movie or play with characters and a casting coach.  The lesson to be learned was about taking my own power.  Souls in my group of actors gathered.  Each was to play a role.  When the casting coach asked for those characters who were willing to play the ‘bad guys,’ my incarnate step-father stepped forward.  Ours was a very close bond in the ethers, it seemed, thus he was willing to risk being intensely disliked or hated, at times, in the material dream world. He knew at a soul level we were always OK.

This was a very illuminating experience because it helped me see his mastery.  Had I been raised by my own father, I believe I’ve have been an adored princess, the apple of my father’s eye.  Would that have lead me to rebel and move towards independence?  I doubt it.  I’d have been too complacent and contented to want to sever ties.  With my difficult step-father, it was easy to want to get the hell away and as far as I could, as soon as I could.

I share this with you to make an important point.  Many of us are unhappy and beyond frustrated with our current White House occupant, Donald J. Trump.  He makes it so easy for us to loathe, hate, denigrate, and eschew his actions and rhetoric each and every day.  Most of us are sick of seeing him and hearing from him. We’d like him gone and the sooner the better.  My hands up for the vote; many of yours are too.

Wait, have we missed something here?  What if DJT is a Master who made a soul agreement to play a vile role in awakening people in this country to what is truly important?  What if his exaggerated gesticulations, relentless tweets, proposed laws of prejudice and class separation, sociopathic and narcissistic antics are simply messages from spirit to wake us the hell up?  What if we needed such a jolt to slay our collective complacency into actions for fostering and preserving our freedoms?

This is not the first, nor probably the last, time in history when a repugnant influencer changed the course of history ultimately for the good.  By the very depth of their deviance from what most consider humanitarian precepts, didn’t all of the lot ultimately succeed in helping people wake up.   In my lifetime, I am reminded of 13 history changing ‘bad guys:’ Adolph Hitler; Joseph Stalin; Pol Pot; Kim II Jung; Vladimir Lenin; Saddam Hussein; Mao Zedong; Enver Pasha, Ho Chi Minh, Yahya Kahn, Tojo Hideki; Chiang Kai-Shek; Hirohito who killed a conservative estimate of 172 million people.  And there are noteworthy others.  All did an inestimable amount of damage to the human condition.

What lessons were learned from their evil intentions and tenure?  The answer, hue and cry for humanitarianism along with reforms to prevent massive deaths and prejudicial treatment of various targeted populations.  As we watch an unfolding drama of rising hatred and prejudice and severally divisive politics, we are witnessing a picture so bleak that most of us are alarmed.  In our alarm, we are mobilizing, taking actions, hosting salons of discussion, planning for an end to the ugly portraiture that is before us every day in the media keeping us hyper alert. In others word, we are beginning to feel really awake.

Perhaps the ebb and flow of our own lives and history are simply waves or graphs of evolution and devolution which present choices to each of us daily to be truly conscious.  I posit that when we are consciously living, each and every day, we move into our soul’s work of ascension. We look in the reflection of the mirror each day and decide what kind of character we want to play in the Game of Life.  That truth look, helps us master the game.

So, perhaps, we might send ‘thank you’ notes to DJT as we remind him that we are on to his role in the game now and admonish him to not let the door hit him on the way out!

“Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.”
― Italian proverb

“I’ve come to realize that life is neither a battle nor a game to be won, it is a game nonetheless, but to be played… enjoyed. There are neither winners nor losers… just players–and what’s great is that you can choose who to play with”
― Val Uchendu

 

 

 

The Lightworker Label

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

“I’m a Lightworker.”  How many times do we see that phrase bandied around on sites promoting metaphysical spirituality?  How often, over the years, have you or I described ourselves as such? I suggest too often.  Why do I say that?  Semantics often get in the way of communication and communion with our other humans on the planet.  This is one of those words/expressions that separates.

If you and I say we are “light workers” we are in fact saying that we are somehow special or above the fray of those who do not espouse our metaphysical beliefs.  Isn’t that what religions have done for eons resulting in alienation and wars over the chasms created by separateness?

I understand the pride that goes along with this type of label and how intoxicating it may be.  It says, “I’m special.” However, for those not on that boat, it suggests superiority, condescension, and haughtiness.  Oh, not that you/we intended that, yet it certainly is the hidden result of such verbiage.

Let’s consider a metaphysical principal that we are all an aspect of the Divine or Creative Source.  If we truly embrace that value, then how on earth can we use a term that suggests that only a select few embody that?  Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when viewed through that lens, does it?

A greater result of embracing the lightworker label, is feeling unique; another game of life to assuage our inner demons of self-doubt.  I’d suggest in a world that has failed to recognize the very specialness and talents of each person on the planet, many need to somehow stand out.

If I had the gift of creating a more equitable and affirming world, I would make sure that every single being on the planet were acknowledged for their particular talent and how it enhances the greater good.  I am reminded of stories about aboriginal people in Australia.  Interdependence was highly valued along with appreciation for each person’s contribution to the greater good.

Another aspect of this that comes to mind is, in my opinion, failing to understand duality, polarity, and separation.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record yet again, I repeat, “We are here to experience separation.”  Our mastery, should it come, lies in recognizing that separation and arresting judgment. Perhaps learning the old Native American adage of walking in another person’s moccasins. Also embracing the Tao without weighting opposites with too much emphasis.

There have indeed been persons on the earth who on grand and smaller scale have done some horrific things.  They’ve annihilated groups, fostered hatred, murdered, blundered etc. Yet, I’d ask you, how is it that you do not see their mastery in the sense that the ill they did, may have awakened great good? Is it not day and night?  Light and dark?  Opposites on a compendium that offers us the possibility of creating balance?

Truly, I understand, that choosing a spiritual path dedicated to enlightment and doing acts of good is commendable. Using language that separates is the antidote to that good, don’t you see? I advise, go on elevating your consciousness and performing acts of great goodness and kindness.  That will surely make for a better world.  Just please, surrender the judgment through the label lightworker that places others in the abyss.  If you want to help others, find the light in them, and affirm it.

“A good person can make another person good; it means that goodness will elicit goodness in the society; other persons will also be good.”  Bhumibol Adulyadej

“Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness, beauty, love and compassion, and also intuition, creativity, insight and focused attention.” Deepak Chopra

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

Like Aretha sang, it’s about time we sock it to the Earth; some respect that is!  This post is in response to a friend’s Facebook post about litter along the highways in the Sonoran Desert off I-19.  It strikes me that we cannot teach what we don’t possess nor can we pass it down the line of generations in a culture that fails to recognize its footprint and impact on Mother Earth.

I remember distinctly a class I had as perhaps a freshman in high school. Our science teacher instructed us that the main grade earned would be dependent on being able to identify and write about a “litterbug.”  Now as you can imagine, that word was not in the common vernacular in those times.  It was quite the experience.  And, not a joke like identifying, BANA2.  That was in the middle fifties. We’ve come along sad way since then as evidenced by the litter strewn about our byways and highways.

Longshoreman philosopher, Erik Hoffer, was quoted as saying that observance of maintenance in a country is very telling about the success of the country.  Anyone who has been on Earth for a few decades since the fifties can attest to the fact that our maintenance has devolved along with the growth in unfair economic distribution.  Losing a sense of security and middle-ness can lead to loss of respect.  Never having had it due to untoward economics leads to violence and deep resentment.  When one loses his/her self-respect; concern about externals diminish exponentially.

An administration that espouses hatred for environmental concerns because they encroach on personal freedoms and amassment of wealth, while falsely pandering to the disenfranchised, is summoning a deadly debt that their inheritors will pay for.  That is, if the Earth survives the damages.

Mother Earth has been giving very loud and frightening signals that ignorance of earth’s principals and eco-system will bring the furry down of feminine scorning.  We’ve seen more natural disasters in this year 2017 collectively than I can remember: horrendous hurricanes; precipitous floods; devastating earthquakes; hell’s furry of fire.  And her message, STOP, cannot be long ignored if we are to survive.

So where does this self-respect begin that allows us to be more respecting of all that surround us? In the womb, in the bassinet, in the pre-schools, in the home, in the elementary schools, in the pulpits, in the higher institutions of education; those are the places of acculturation.  From the first splash in the waters of birth and onward, we are given an indication by those surrounding us as to our favorability or lack thereof. “Oh, what a darling baby,” coos one Mother. “Whoa what a set of lungs,” cries another, in disbelief of the wailing one who emerged after nine months and hours of labor.  Looks and sounds create early impressions as to our perceived worth.

Caregivers surrounding us after birth from parents, to grandparents, to siblings, to nannies, to teachers and preachers are every moment giving us their opinion of us.  Though we many not understand the language, we are hip to the intonation.  It has a long-lasting impact.*  Self-respect and esteem are happily fostered for growth or ignored, much like a garden. Blame gets foisted on the backs of the parents, especially the mother, who was ill prepared to assume the day-to-day responsibilities of raising and effective human being.

Did you take parenting classes?  Did your parents?  Unless you chose Early Childhood Education in college, did you take any courses?  Most answers are no; we parent the way we were parented. Sometimes a few get some help and break the cycle; mostly not. Thus, parents who lack self-respect and esteem, pass it on from one generation to another. My point being is that lack of self-respect and respect for others has become a national disease.  So, let’s give it an acronym and maybe it’ll get some funding. LOSR Syndrome (Lack of Self-Respect).

Ah, now we can form a foundation and solicit grants to address this growing disease.  We can secure funds to study the problem and get it classified as a mental disorder.  Maybe we can design a 12-Step Recovery Program.  Perhaps books will be written about it.  A minor in college will be developed.  The possibilities are endless.

Or just maybe, we can look at all the big and little ways that we personally desecrate or contribute to the destruction of the planet. While we are looking at the results, perhaps we’ll also go within and look at the causes of our own malady (LOSR Syndrome).  With that look, we could start to change our perception of the being in the mirror and give ourselves a break.  As we rescript our opinion of ourselves we can hope that we’ll extend that better opining to our precious planet, our circle of influence and those that come after us.

We’re nearing the point of the stripped branch with one small glimmer of budding growth. Let’s preserve it with R.E.S.P.E.C.T; of ourselves, of others, of the planet.

If we lose love and self- respect for each other, this is how we finally die.”  Maya Angelou

Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us; our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.Albert Einstein

 

*The early impact of our caregivers is addressed in the chapter on the 7 Veils of Illusion in my book, Unbecoming Me: The Ultimate Shapeshifters Journey.

 

 

Hope

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

We are in the midst of catastrophic events, politically and environmentally. Watching scenes of hazardous rescues from flooding waters and uprooted people, animals, houses, trees, and normal signs of life in devastation can be disheartening.  Observing a rise in hatred and acts against compassion and humanity are, at times, daunting.  Misery, disgust, and fear are strange bedfellows for sensitive, caring people. While change is a constant, it’s true, moments of it catapulted into our daily news and social media feeds, in graphic detail, can dim hope.

One of the definitions of hope is “a feeling of trust.”  You may wonder how does one keep trust, faith, and hope alive when so very much destruction is going on.  For me, it takes a certain mindset and the ability to see the light at the end of dark places.  While there is much evidenced around me that suggests that we as a country and civilization are doomed to failure, I have a clear vision of what may be on the other side of so much devastation.  I believe that we will emerge from the chrysalis as butterflies in the last stage of transformation.

Like Chauncy Gardener proclaimed in the movie “Being There” one has to prune the garden at the end of each growing season to allow regeneration to occur in the next productive cycle.  We are rapidly approaching the natural season of death as our leaves turn and begin to fall.  Already some trees are almost barren.  If we could take the position that there is great beauty in the barrenness and know, in our heart of hearts, that spring will come again, we may find solace.

Winter the truly fallow period will surely follow.  In that dormant time, if we are attuned deeply to the Creative Source that many choose to believe in, we can become more introspective and retrospective. Going within and quieting our fears, negative imaginings, sense of doom, we are more able to tap into that vast body of knowledge that connects us with the wisdom of all times.  I believe that like encyclopedias, Wikipedia, and online research resources, there is a vast pool of knowledge that we can access through meditation. Personally, I’ve often asked people of other times to speak to me through automatic writing. I find it valuable beyond imagination.  Some people will be channels, connecting in that way. Others will find solace and inspiration in the writings of hallowed visionaries of our time.

While we are best served by honoring our emotions of grief and sadness, it is equally important that we not stay in those states of mind too long.  Surely depression will follow if we choose not to lift up our thoughts after sufficient catharsis. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I highly recommend immersion in beauty.  See the wonder of what IS working and how much Mother Nature does provide in visions of amazing exquisiteness. This I find reignites my spirit of hope and wonder.

Finally, be of service to someone.  Often when we step away from our sorrows and seek to be of help to another, we feel a great gratitude.  Being of service and being useful fosters rising hope and renewed affirmation of goodness. Reach out.

“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.” Bradley Whitford.